On sunsets, shin splints and acknowledging my age.

We recently joined a new gym that is open, I kid you not, 24 hours. They also have free child care, free drop in classes and personal tvs on every exercise bike. Basically, my excuses for not working out just got pretty sparse.

Hubby has been working out every morning before work. I am super proud of his dedication. Me on the other hand? I’ve gone three times now in the past two weeks with big plans to go tomorrow. I suppose that’s three (soon to be four) more times than I’ve gone to a gym in the past year or more, but still. The baby steps seem pathetic in comparison to Dan the Man.

What isn’t helping? Is that every time I’ve gone, I’ve been dealing with killer shin splints. Just walking the track around the perimeter of the gym is painful after a few minutes. Trying to run is a no go. The machines and I are not getting along at the moment because I am not good at pacing my workouts on an exercise bike and I’m wondering if that first day on the machines is the cause of my trouble or if I’m just pathetic.

Add this to the knee injury which is just starting to go away but that kept me from kicking up my exercise habits for the past year or so. And all the times I hurt myself trying different workout games on the wii. Basically, it seems like every time I exercise, I hurt myself. When did I become an old falling aparty person?

Yesterday I was working on the photo calendar for next year because I’m Uber Planny Mom and like to worry about things months in advance of them being relevant. I picked out a cute picture of MM to put in the square for his birthday and then typed the words “[MM]’s 8th birthday.” Then I’m pretty sure I had the world’s tiniest panic attack. Not really a panic attack so much as a staring at my computer screen all mouth gapey and trying to work out how the math was a lie. Because I don’t think this should be humanly possible.

I’m pretty sure that a few months ago I was an irresponsible college kid who sometimes skipped class to watch Dawson’s Creek marathons on tv. A few months before that I was obsessively reading every Babysitters Club book I could get my hands on instead of playing outside like a normal child and minutes before that I was wearing a super pretty red and black striped dress and getting ready for my first day of school. So having an eight year old next year is clearly mathematically impossible.

Next fall my baby will start kindergarten. I don’t tend to get teary eyed about these milestones. I like to think I allow myself to age gracefully. To acknowledge my gray hairs with pride and to do a mental happy dance when considering the lack of babies in my life. But eight years old? Both children at school? I think 2014 might just rock me to my core.

I’m not sure how all of that is about my inability to exercise without hurting myself except to say that it appears I might be getting old and I’m not sure when it happened. I know that I left my twenties behind a few months ago but it’s all just starting to kick in lately.

My name is Jennifer and apparently I’m an adult. I have a bad knee and appear to be prone to shin splints. I have no babies unless you count the puppy. Strollers have become almost useless in my life. My gray hair has started to make friends. I have a hard time staying up past 10pm and my favorite indulgence is having a second latte. I started wearing cardigans this year and my closet contains pretty much only sensible shoes. For my birthday, I would like a station wagon (but accept that I can’t afford one). You see, the writing is on the wall. Now excuse me while I go get  something to clean that wall!

Tuesday Afternoon: January 8, 2013

I’ve been doing a lot of “2012 recaps” and “top photos of” posts lately and very little of my typical day to day blogging, so before the month gets away from me, here is some stuff that’s been going on lately.

MM lost his first tooth of 2013 last week while I was running my first board meeting as the president of my women’s social group. I came home to a son with a giant gap in his smile and a really cute note for the tooth fairy asking her if she was Santa’s grandma. Too cute.

ps: According to the Tooth Fairy, or TF as she’s sometimes called here, Santa is her third cousin (twice removed). In case you were curious.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done some crafting / Fun Mom activities with the kids so this weekend I pulled out an unfinished Kiwi Crate from November (let’s not talk about the fact that I still need to open December’s) and made jingle bell bracelets with the kids. Sometimes they are also anklets, shoulder bands and necklaces for BB’s baby dolls. Thank god for stretchy strings.

This went over really well and I liked that I felt like I was sharing a hobby since I’m all into beading and stuff these days and by these days I mean sometimes, when I find the time.

MM has been working with Dan on his first ever Pinewood Derby car for cub scouts and having soooo much fun. They designed it to look like Dan’s truck, even down to the 4×4 written on the side. Too cute. While the boys are doing boy stuff, BB and I have been having our own fun. This weekend we did a bit of watercolor painting. How cool are these pads by Melissa and Doug? Wet your paint brush and dab it on the colored rectangles on top and it turns into paint that you can apply to your picture. Relatively little mess involved and she had a blast.


Here are our finished paintings – can you tell who painted which one? ;O)

Other topics that have no pictures to go with them, stolen from my Facebook page:

Playing a martial arts game on PS3 with Dan – for about 10 minutes I was kicking his butt royally – then he learned the controls lol – I am a button mashing champion but that only gets me so far. 🙂

There has been a lot of video game playing at our home since Dan and I got a PS3 for Christmas last month. The whole family has been obsessed with the Little Big Planet games (amazing) and Dan has been really into Uncharted (or maybe Unchartered? Or something else completely?). We recently picked up a used martial arts game that apparently has characters from lots of different games to make it more exciting. I had a lot of fun kicking his butt until he learned the controls. Then he discovered tutorials and I’m now too scared to play against him! j/k

Had one of those awesome grocery shopping trips filled with good decisions, fresh produce and healthy snacks. Obviously the kids weren’t with me lol

Took a walk before dinner tonight and made a game of jogging on all of the sidewalks NOT covered in snow or ice. Fun kind of “interval training” method and luckily for me, there was a lot of snow! :O)

What is it about the new year that makes us want to get back into shape again? All that delicious holiday food and our normal routines slipping by the wayside as we spend more days celebrating than not. And then when the festivities are over, we find ourselves a little heavier than we remembered and realize how long it’s been since we’ve worked out properly… In stereotypical fashion, Dan and I have both been feeling the push to make better choices lately and I have to say, there’s never a bad reason to listen to that inner voice telling you to behave, eat better and move more!

Movie night! Watching Secret of the Wings with the kids, then Moonrise Kingdom with hubby 🙂

I want to make more of an effort to have a regular family movie night in 2013, at least once a month if not more often. This weekend we watched two really great movies, one for the whole family and one for the adults. I might alternate with movie night and game night. Lots of ideas :O) If you have been thinking about doing Family Movie Nights, this post at Design Mom today was very inspiring.

What have you been up to lately?


Winter Wish List (2012 / 2013)

winter wonderland

Winter came in with a bang this year with a snowstorm delivering 20 inches of snow in some areas of my town. While I look forward to a White Christmas, let’s think about the winter season ahead and make some goals and wishes for the season.

Things to Do

  • blow bubbles outside and watch them freeze
  • Ring in the new year – I want to throw a little Family New Years Party with the kids and our in laws visiting. Order some take out, watch a movie and play board games, make a fun dessert and see how late we can stay up!
  • throw a party – maybe a New Present Party for the kids (everyone bring a fun new present they received and have fun playing with friends?) or a book exchange party?

Things to Make

Places to Go

  • a local museum like the Geology Museum or the Mustard Museum – we’ve been wanting to visit both since we moved here but haven’t done it yet.
  • Visit the Botanical Gardens indoor garden and soak up some nature on a cold winter day.
  • My favorite yoga studio – Time to start actively trying to get into better shape again either via yoga or some active video games or DVDs.

New Recipes to Try

So it’s come to this.

I joined weight watchers today.

That one sentence has so much meaning behind it. Meanings like, “I am feeling empowered enough to take a step towards better health for myself!” or “I acknowledge that I need to start eating better and exercising more!” but also “I’m admitting that keeping my diet in check alone is not working and that I need more help” and also “I feel a little silly and cliched admitting that I’ve joined Weight Watchers.”

What is it about this company (and others like it) that makes me feel a tiny bit like a failure for joining? The fact that I’m giving money to a program that I could do myself via free online tools or an Excel spreadsheet or a pen and paper? Is it the supermarket aisles filled with their Brand Foods that say “Just eat our stuff and you’ll lose weight and feel great – and we’ll feel great, too, because we have your money!” or the horror stories of The Weight Watchers Meetings filled with sad people who don’t love themselves (which is absurd because the very fact that they are there proves they love themselves, even if they don’t know it).

The truth is that everything I know about Weight Watchers and similar programs I’ve learned from the television and movies and second hand accounts from other people who have joined with varying degrees of success. I know that the methods I’m using aren’t working right now (and that’s okay!) but I won’t know if Weight Watchers will work until I try it. And doing nothing? Yeah that doesn’t work either, trust me I’ve tried! (Eating Easter boxes of whoppers in the middle of the day isn’t helping either FYI).

Losing weight or trying to lose weight can be such a touchy subject. It feels like failure and shame – it sounds like hungry anger and tired whimpering when we don’t want to work out today. But the truth is, any step we make towards bettering ourselves – no matter what path we choose or how far down the path we’ve walked – is a sign of success. It’s a sign that we woke up today and chose to better ourselves and to make positive changes to our lives. So even if you feel grumpy or despondent ; even if you’d rather eat leftover Halloween candy and watch Idol (me, too!) ; even if you have so much weight to lose that it feels daunting – it’s okay. We don’t have to be happy and smiley about our choices – we just have to make the choices and be honest with ourselves – to accept the choices we make each day and wake up tomorrow and do it again.

I joined Weight Watchers today. I don’t know if I love it yet. Their android app refused to work on my phone, the points system is new and still has to prove to me that it’s beneficial. Their website will take some getting to know. I may not stick with this plan. I may falter – I may fail. But today I’m choosing to do better – to be more aware of the foods I’m putting in my mouth and to make plans for more exercise. I’m choosing to put my money where my mouth is and TRY. Because trying has to work better than not trying. Because I’m worth it.

Mommy Blogger Weight Loss Challenge: The results are in!

Well guys, the weight loss challenge that I embarked on three weeks ago ended officially yesterday. I just retook my measurements so I guess it’s time to write about my results with the Mommy Blogger Weight Loss Challenge by Dustin Maher.

First, I thought I’d tell you my thoughts overall with the challenge. I thought the challenge was very well thought out with the guidelines made clear and all the bases covered. He devised a system that was elaborate but simple at the same time – you knew what you would gain and lose points for and how many points you should be shooting for.

He offered meal plans and snack suggestions with the help of Leanne Ely, New York Times best selling author from SavingDinner.com. And he even included a spreadsheet where you could keep track of all your points. For three weeks I had that spreadsheet permanently open so I could sit down and log my workouts, meals and water consumption.

Things That Were Easy For Me

Water consumption: I am a constantly thirsty person by nature and back when I first started trying to lose weight (in roughly 2008) I trained myself to learn to love water. It wasn’t easy – I didn’t grow up drinking a lot of water and detested the taste. I was picky and would only drink certain water – like from a Brita filter only. Even bottled water still tastes gross to me for some reason. But I have two water pitchers in the house as well as a fridge water despenser and I wake up in the morning and grab a large glass and fill it all day. There were very few days in the competition where I didn’t have 8-10 large glasses of water a day (I think most of my glasses were close to 12 oz of water).

Weekly challenges: The first two weekly challenges were to read for 10+ minutes a day and to have a 10 minute conversation with someone every day. This was an easy 1+ point each day as I read every night before bedtime and, um, I love to talk. Every day during week 2 I found I’d managed to talk to someone for 10 minutes – and not just Dan, Michael or Emily! I guess it pays to be a chatty Cathy? In week 3 our challenge was to tell someone new each day that we appreciated them. I managed to do this 4 times with enough genuine effort that I allowed myself to mark it down (Maybe I’m too hard on myself?)

Soda: I don’t drink a lot of it. At least I thought I didn’t. I just counted 6 twelve ounce servings of soda in the past 3 weeks which was higher than I guessed, but still out of 21 days it’s hardly an epidemic. You should see how many times I caved and had coffee. Speaking of coffee, Dustin writes that you lose one point for each cup of coffee unless it’s black, which seems fair – but I’d like to point out that not all coffee drinks are created equally and also that us tea drinkers can do just as much caloric damage with a cup of tea as a small cup of coffee. Not wanting to be dishonest to myself, I logged my tea consumption also when there were more than 15 calories in my mug.

Fast Food (eating where there is a drive-thru): I went to Culvers once during the challenge. I got a salad. There may have been a small ice cream, too, but I’m only human. And it was delicious.

Not skipping breakfast: This only happened once and I did eat breakfast it just happened after the 2 hour allotment given on account of an untimely skype call with the grandparents. I was starving. But sometimes you have to put life on hold for the grandparents.

Refined Carbs: You also lost points for eating a non-whole wheat version of grains. This wasn’t too hard for me – whole wheat pastas and bread were already in the cupboards. It was just a loaf of dreaded french bread that proved to be difficult to avoid.

Things That Were Harder

Sleep: Only on the weekends was I able to score the max points possible in the sleep department. I could have scored higher if I’d given up tv and reading, but you know… I didn’t.

Sweets: We all knew this was coming. Jen’s dreaded sweet tooth. It’s the whole reason I was here doing this challenge if we’re going to be honest. I lost 30-40 points a week to my sweet tooth which translates to approximately 250 calories of sweets each day, most of which were consumed between the hours of 7pm and 9pm. And that is GOOD for me guys. That’s a marked improvement and sign of serious effort on my part. But still, that’s a lot of points lost.

Exercise: I got 5 points for each 15 minutes of exercise (with a max of 20 points per day) and another 2 points for 20 minutes of strength training and 1 point for breaking a sweat. I averaged 10 points a day for exercise but there were a lot of 5 point days, too, and only one day where I scored a full 20 and that was doing (one crazy intense) yoga class with my friend Erin. BUT I also exercised about 6 out of 7 days each week which is a huge improvement over my 1-2 times a week average before this program. So that in and of itself I think deserves a huge high five.

Dustin’s workouts were hard. The strength training kicked my butt and the cardio made me cry uncle. The core training was even worse than that. But I stuck with it and did his workouts most days of the week during the challenge. Around halfway through my husband started joining me in the workouts and there was a moment of total validation when I totally kicked his butt that first and second day. (We won’t talk about how he is totally kicking my butt now – men are such stinkers) This just proves how intense the workouts are in my mind and how far I came in a short time. He was insanely proud of me after doing the first workout and couldn’t stop telling me so. That didn’t suck. We are both planning to stick with these workouts regularly even now that the challenge is over.

Food journaling: This is something I used be really good at but I ignored it completely the first two weeks wanting nothing to do with the concept at all. But at the end of week three I begrudingly admitted that if I wanted to make REAL progress I was going to have to start tracking again and I’ve been using My Fitness Pal for about 4 days now. There was no good excuse not be doing it already except I’m incredibly lazy. It’s a great app with a large database and a good layout – you can use it on android or the iPad /iPhone and also just go to the website on your computer. So no matter where you are you should be able to track. I don’t fuss with perfect numbers, just a general idea – so if the food I want isn’t in the library, I just look for the closest thing. At the end of each day, the app tells you how you did and how much weight you could lose if each day were like that day’s numbers. Pretty spiffy.

And The Results

I scored a total of 975 points which sounds really cool except that I could have scored 805 points per week. So… not great. But I know what those points comprise of and there is a lot of good habits in them -a  lot of sweat and work and water and protein and vegetables. So I remain proud of my humble progress. We have to start somewhere.

I also took pre and post measurements of my abs, waist, chest, hips, arms, calves and thighs. I’m not confident enough to tell you the actual numbers but I will tell you that my abs are 2 inches smaller but that for some reason my calves are 1 inch larger (that could be a miscalculation on my part). The scale seems to think that I may or may not have lost 2 pounds (it varies day to day, I’m not really sure). I know the numbers aren’t much but to be honest I don’t care about those numbers yet because I know that I worked HARD but that in other areas I still need to work harder. So that’s where I’m at. I’m getting better but I have a long way to go.

Anyone else do the challenge this month? How did you do?

One week check-in: Mommy Blogger Weight Loss Challenge

So, I’ve been doing the Mommy Blogger Weight Loss Challenge for one week now (only 2 more weeks to go!) and figured I should do an official check in to let you guys know how it’s been going.

After the first day of the challenge I was sore. REALLY sore. I didn’t even make it through the whole workout and it absolutely kicked my butt. I continued to be sore for 3 or 4 days, but kept up with exercising daily anyway as well as keeping track of what I was eating, using Dustin’s points system mapped out in the program. Things like losing a point for drinking coffee or soda and gaining points for eating protein and veggies or for sweating or getting extra sleep at night.

I’d have to say that my points racked up each day are probably only half what most of the other participants are getting. I can still only do half the workout, though I’m getting stronger with each one… slowly. And I only eat three meals a day, some people might eat more. And that sweet tooth? I’m still fighting with it, too, though my husband would tell you he’s seen a marked improvement in my food choices since starting this challenge (at least that’s what he told me). Also? My points are consistently higher each day than the day before and I’ve only skipped working out once on Sunday when life got away from me. Not bad considering that before this I only worked out once or twice a week!

Dustin’s diet tracking is definitely not as strict as other diets I’ve done, but I’m trying to behave even when things don’t “cost me points” and make good choices and I am considering the idea of continuing to track my points even after the challenge ends or else start counting calories again.

As for the exercises, so far I actually like the strength training the best and the core training absolutely the least. I am really bad at core training! The cardio is also pretty brutal because it’s all very fast and hard spurts, which Dustin says is proven to burn fat faster. Works for me but ouch! I’m still getting the hang of it, basically.

All in all, I’d definitely say that his plan is smart and probably working. My scale seems to think I’ve gained two pounds though so I’m going to start being stricter with my diet and hope that that helps. Or maybe it’s just a fluke as my husband insists. We’ll see. I’ll check in again next week and let you know how it’s going.

Mommy Blogger Weight Loss Challenge