Half full

No, the title of this post doesn’t describe me after a visit to Gigi’s Cupcakes or any place that serves biscuits.  Because if so, it would be titled “TOTALLY UNCOMFORTABLY FULL.”

Several friends reached out to me after my last post, saying they were sorry about my back problems, and offering their support. I responded to one of them that it isn’t really so bad because I no longer have to stress out every day about how I am going to fit a workout in along with everything else I try to do in 24 hours, including keeping three small humans alive. She said it was a very glass half full way to look at things.

I am not usually a glass half full kind of person.  In fact, I am a glass mostly empty type of person. I am not very positive, as I assume that the worst will happen to me. Yeah, it is a pretty awesome way to live life… said no one ever. I just found over the years that if I don’t expect that much, I can’t be let down as much.  Sounds reasonable, right?

But with my newfound free slightly less totally frantic and mind-spinning time, I realize that taking a completely non-voluntary break from exercising is making me slightly less insane than I thought it would. This is because I have eliminated the total chaos that comes from trying to get to the gym or sneak in a run while having a full-time job out of the home, a part-time job on the side, breast-feeding, chauffering three kids to/from daycare, and attempting to sleep at least 12 hours a day (kidding sort of).  I am by no means saying that I am giving up on working out and devoting myself to blogging and competitive eating. What I am saying is there is a bright side, and maybe the universe was trying to keep me from having a nervous breakdown.

Here is how my days looked M-F with no kids:

1) Wake up when my alarm goes off.
2) Eat a bowl of hot oatmeal, or maybe some scrambled eggs or pancakes while watching TV that was DVR’d just one night earlier.
3) Go to work.
4) Come home.
5) Have a snack and read a book maybe.
6) Go to the gym or on a 7 mile run with the dogs.
7) Come home and shower.
8) Put on makeup.
9) Go out to eat with Super Husband.
10) Come home and watch TV.
11) Go to bed whenever.
12) Sleep 9 hours with no interruptions. Repeat.

Life with one kid (after three months):

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1) Wake up to either hungry baby or alarm clock, depending on whether or not it is a good day.

2) Feed her.

3) Eat some cereal standing up while perusing Us magazine.

4) Prepare bottles for daycare.

5) Drop baby off at daycare.

6) Go to work.

7) Pick baby up from daycare and drive straight to the gym.

8) Come home from gym and shower while SuperDad feeds baby a bottle.

9) Eat dinner with SuperDad at the dinner table. Or take baby out to dinner. Unless she is over one year old. Then don’t even bother until everyone in your house is > 3 years old.

10) Put baby to bed.

11) Watch tv for an hour or so, or play video games with SuperDad, then go to bed. Heck, maybe you even get a sitter and go out to a BAR?!

12) Go to bed.

Repeat

Life with two kids (after three months):

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1) Wake up to either hungry baby or toddler who needs to pee or has had a bad dream.

2) Feed both children.

3) Make bottles for daycare.

4) Take both children to daycare (add 6 minutes to prior drop-off routine)

5)  Go home and get diapers because you forgot those for the baby.

6) Take diapers to daycare.

7) Go back home and get your pump.

8) Go to work.

9) Eat a granola bar at your desk.

10) Pick kids up from daycare.

11) Go to the gym.

12) Leave the gym because you forgot to bring snacks for the toddler. She is starving and refuses to go into childcare without a snack.

13) Put the kids in the double stroller and go for a run, after feeding toddler. And pumping.

14)  Feed both kids dinner, then bathe them (most nights).

15) Put baby to bed.

16) Watch Friends or New Girl with your toddler, while you eat a luke warm Lean Cuisine. She doesn’t know what they are talking about- she is only 2 1/2.

17) Put toddler to bed.

18) Take a shower.

19) Watch tv for 30 minutes with SuperDad.

20) Pass out.

Repeat

Life with three kids:

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1) Alarm goes off at 5 so you can pump then run or go to Crossfit at 6. Turn alarm off because you can work out at lunch. Uh huh, totally gonna happen.

2) Wake up to either a hungry baby, hungry toddler, toddler with a nose bleed, preschooler who has wet the bed or had a bad dream or lost her Hello Kitty or is concerned about her Halloween costume, or some combination of the above.

3) Nurse the baby while everyone else sleeps, assuming she was the first one up. Otherwise, nurse the baby while toddler screams, preschooler watches Peppa Pig in your bed, and SuperDad takes world’s fastest shower.

4) Go downstairs to make bottles for daycare, feed the dogs, pour some cereal for the older kids, grab any bills that need to be paid. Do not concern yourself with getting anything for you or SuperDad to eat. That is what vending machines are for.

5) Go upstairs and grab diapers for baby to put in diaper bag. Run downstairs and put in diaper bag.

6) Go back upstairs to get diapers for toddler. Put in diaper bag.

7) Get baby dressed.

8) Get yourself dressed then throw on makeup.

9) Pack your gym bag. Don’t forget clean underwear and a towel if you are going at lunch.

10) Leave SuperDad at home to deal with the monsters children. He has to dress them, feed them, get them in the car, and make it to work before noon 9 10.

11) Drive to work.

12) Realize when you are pulling into the parking garage that you forgot a sports bra for the gym. So yeah, that workout is not happening.

13) Get some overly hard boiled eggs from the cafeteria at work.

14) Eat hard boiled eggs at your desk aka stink up your office for the rest of the day. Who cares? It is protein and you are the boss.

15) Leave work to pick up kids from daycare. Don’t forget a snack or they will scream THE WHOLE WAY HOME.

16) Kids screaming the whole way home.

17) Once you get home, don’t let the starving, under-exercised dogs knock you over while you are carrying a baby through the door.

18) Be prepared to whip up a super cheesy, carb-filled healthy dinner in 14 seconds. Or the kids will scream. Or better yet, make sure SuperDad is already home and cooking.

19) Turn on the babysitter TV. Peppa Pig or Sophia the First. Top Chef if you are very very lucky.

20) Convince toddler to eat 1.5 bites of quinoa pasta and peas.

21) Nurse the baby.

22) Attempt to eat a delicious Caprese salad that you have been waiting to eat all day. Because kids hate mozzarella and balsamic. False. They will eat all of it even though they wanted nothing to do with their pasta. You have half a tomato slice and lick the balsamic off the plate, while standing of course. Super filling. And satisfying.

23) Bathe kids if it is Monday or Thursday. Wash hair if it is Thursday.

24) Put toddler to bed.

25) Nurse baby.

26) Take a shower.

27) Nurse baby some more (cluster feeding is AWESOME!) then put her to bed.

28) Read stories to preschooler. Answer 75 questions during two stories.

29) Put her to bed.

30) Go to bed 9 minutes later.

So needless to say, eliminating three steps from the routine these days has made it a lot easier for me to focus on important things like posting pictures on Instagram (@willrunforbiscuits– follow me!), watching Bravo, and hanging out with my tiny people.

In all seriousness though, because we know I am a super serious person, this isn’t meant to scream “look how awesome I am” or “life is so easy with one kid” but… no wait, I AM saying life was easier with one kid. I ran a lot. I slept a lot. I hung out with SuperDad a lot. But with each kid my heart has expanded more than I thought possible. You make sacrifices to have one, two, ten kids (don’t have ten kids- unless you are a kitten. In which case bravo, you are a blog-reading kitten). You sacrifice your figure, your time, sometimes your sanity. But it is oh so worth it. So if that means I won’t be running a sub 3:40 marathon again for 5 more years, so be it. Even though I love the endorphins and it keeps me level, it will never fill my glass the way these crazy kids do. I hope to get back to running and working out as soon as I can, but in the mean time, I will enjoy my precious “free” time.

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It’s getting real up in here

July 2013

July 2013

Whenever I go to the gym, run a race, or see people trying out new diets (ahem, “lifestyle changes”), I wonder what the impetus is.  Do these people Crossfit to lose weight? To get stronger (duh)? To work on their butts? Do my friends eat Paleo so that they can get leaner? Or maybe they are thinking about the long term health benefits of changing the way they eat.  I don’t really care what the answer is because it’s none of my business.  I just know that for me, exercise and nutrition have played so many different roles in my life and I am once again seeing their evolution now that I am a mother of three, just scrambling to keep my head above water many days.

The background on this somewhat totally rambling, TMI post is this: during pretty much every minute of my 20’s, I had an eating disorder.  I vascillated between bulimic and anorexic although I never looked thin like the celebrities and models whom everyone labels as anorexic.  I know exactly when/why it started in college, but that’s not something to get into here.  The only salient point is that I became bulimic for a number of reasons, one being that I loved food more than I loved myself. I loved the way donuts and ice cream and cookies made me feel. But then I hated gaining weight. So being the brilliant college student I was, I figured purging was a way to get the best of both worlds: eat a lot and not gain weight.  Oh wait. As any bulimic will tell you, you definitely do not lose weight with binging and purging.  In fact, you may (I did) gain weight. And you feel GROSS.  You also feel like you are deceiving so many people around you, including your loved ones.

Right before my senior year of college, I decided the bulimia thing wasn’t working for me.  I needed to find a different way to get control because bulimia made me feel out of control.  So I switched gears. I started counting calories and stopped drinking (Uh, I mean, I was only 20 so actually I made the decision not to start drinking when I turned 21 in the fall).  I lost a LOT of weight because I was swimming 4 hours a day, doing one hour on the ellipitical between practices, and subsisting off of chocolate chip scones, frozen yogurt, and salad.  I allowed myself 1300 calories per day but I was burning close to 4000. The weight melted off and I tipped the scales at 116 before the season started. I think my weight at weigh-in was 136 the year before. But I got a lot of positive reinforcement because I swam faster.  And my back fat was gone, so of course I was thrilled about that.

After graduation, I didn’t have all the hard core swimming to keep my weight in check.  So back to bulimia I went. My bulimia peaked while in law school.  The stress of studying and being away from my friends and family, the feeling of not being even close to the best but actually being below average when everything depended on your class rank… I just could not handle it. Things got so bad during law school that I considered taking a semester off to go to some really expensive recovery facility to deal with my eating issues. The cost was just too huge of a deterrent. I knew I was going to develop some serious health complications from my bulimia if I didn’t stop.  I decided I wanted to start running again to see if that would give me some of the self esteem I had lost after college.  I also thought it would help me lose all the weight I put on from my binges.

Picking up long distance running in 2005 was the first turning point in my eating disorder. I had something to focus on besides “where am I going to get my next meal… which will end up in the toilet?” I began to feel better about myself. I ran a half marathon after 6 months of training and was pleased that I ran under an 8:00 mile pace for my first half marathon.  A few months later I ran a half marathon around a 7:20/mile pace. My grades improved significantly.  The problem that lingered is that I continued to be bulimic, but it was more like “bulimic light.” As long as my training went well and I had a good run, or a good race, I didn’t rush out to buy ice cream and other junk.  But if I had a bad day or missed a run for some reason, I backslid into my old eating habits.

This pattern pretty much continued even after I became a real grownup, with obligations like law school debt, a car payment, and a mortgage. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with Super Girl that I had a wake up call.  I could not, I would not, do anything to harm this baby just because I was too ignorant or scared to deal with the underlying issues that contributed to my eating disorder.  I needed to make smart choices for myself and this child.  I continued eating biscuits and ice cream, but instead of just using it to stuff down my feelings and anxiety, I ate it to enjoy the way it tasted.  I ran during my pregnancy because it made me feel strong and empowered.  Yeah it burned calories too but I don’t think it’s a crime to run an extra mile because you had an extra scoop of Ben and Jerry’s.  Nobody is perfect.

I never really lost that focus on my weight and body image though.  I was determined not to gain more than 30 pounds and I “accomplished” that goal with Super Girl and Super Toddler.  The number on the scale was so important to me as it had been for years.  So even though I wasn’t bulimic anymore, I still cared so much about a silly number.  After I had them, I was frustrated my body didn’t just snap back to a version of me that never existed anyway.  Some Gisele Bundchen-esque figure with a 36 inch inseam and tiny waist.  I didn’t lose any sleep over it but I tried diets here and there hoping that I could get to my “ideal weight” of 130 pounds.  Never happened.

During this pregnancy, I really lost site of nutrition even though I was lifting and running a lot during the first two trimesters of the pregnancy.  I had so much anxiety because I didn’t know how we could handle three kids.  Also, I was worried I would have post partum depression again, as I did (really really badly) with Super Toddler.  So I ate my feelings, my old crutch.  I would joke with people about my Bojangles Baby, and I still do from time to time- okay, yesterday.  I rationalized that if I was working out that hard, I could eat whatever I wanted. I had been making that argument for YEARS.  I think it goes back to my swimming days in my teenage years when we quite literally could eat just about anything and never gain an ounce because we were burning so many calories each day.  But eating whatever I wanted wasn’t healthy for me or the baby.  And again, it was just a way I dealt with stress, as it always had been.

I watched the scale creep higher and higher each week.  When I delivered Super Girl, I had gained 38 pounds.  Wowzers.  I officially weighed more than Super Dad the last three weeks of my pregnancy.  And I delivered 3 weeks early.  So yeah, that’s kind of scary.  After having her, I have been focused on slowly getting back into my workouts because I was on bed rest for the last 6 weeks of the pregnancy.  But on the other hand, I would get so frustrated that the number on the scale has not just dropped by double digits every week.

I finally had an epiphany last week after Super Girl got on the scale three days in a row and asked me what her weight was.  She had been seeing me do it.  It broke my heart.  She wants to gain weight because she will be a “big girl,” but I don’t want the number to be something she obsesses over when she is old enough to care.  I don’t want her staring in the mirror examining her stomach or “Cabbage Patch Abs” as I call mine half-jokingly. I don’t want her to think that exercise is a means to an end of keeping her weight down or getting boys to like her.  I want her to feel empowered by sweating, the way I do every time I go on a run or finish a Crossfit workout.  When I was doing a WOD on Saturday, I felt strong even though it was only my second time back since Super Baby was born and I was lifting a lot less weight.  I felt hope for how much stronger I could get with each passing week.  I felt like my daughters would be proud of me not because of the number on the scale, or how my thighs don’t touch, or how much definition I hope to one day have on my stomach, but because I work out to be a better mom to them and a better wife and just a badass who loves herself.

I am not 100% comfortable with my body and I don’t know that I ever will be, but I’m getting there.  Being a mother has helped me realize that I can largely overcome the insecurities and issues that led to my eating disorder, because I would never ever wish that kind of torment on my children.  I just want them to see that eating and exercise do not have to be rewards or punishment, and that they can be strong and happy no matter what the number on the scale is. And that’s as real as it gets folks.

Recovery Mode

Again, more TMI.  But then we move on to our regularly scheduled exercise-related programming…

Recovering from childbirth is what I imagine recovering from an Ironman would be like… it’s long and it requires patience or you can hurt yourself further.  Plus, it’s different for everyone, and for the same person it may vary depending on the particular race.  With Super Girl, there was a lot that nobody told me about what the immediate aftermath of childbirth would be like.  So, thanks a lot for nothing friends who had kids before me.  I was not prepared for the cramping or feeling like my insides were going to fall out with every step I took.   I started to feel more myself around a month and was back into my workout routine around 2 months postpartum. Recovery with Super Toddler was pretty similar, but a bit more difficult because I was on bed rest the last three weeks of my pregnancy. I was careful though, and eventually PR’d a 5k when he was 6 months old (21 minutes-ish).

With Super Baby, I had terrible cramping for a couple hours after she popped out.  Like, worse than my strongest pitocin-induced contractions.  Oh wait, I had an epidural.  Still, it was not enjoyable.  Once the pain meds kicked in I felt a lot better.  But I had to take 800 milligrams of Motrin a few times a day for over a week.  That didn’t seem normal.  Otherwise, I felt really good south of my waist.  It helped that this was my smallest baby though not by much, and with it being my third child my body seemed to be kinder to me.  I was going for walks within a few days and at around 10 days, thought I could actually run – but I didn’t.  I felt like this was the universe’s way for evening out how ridiculous the labor process went. Until…

At 12 days post partum, I woke up with very odd symptoms.  Like, check with Dr. Google odd.  Typically, when you consult Dr. Google, Web MD, Wrongdiagnosis.com, etc, you get about 821 different diagnoses and turn into a hypochondriac, and there’s a 99% chance that you don’t have any of those ailments.  For me, there was pretty much just one possibility. The next day I had the same symptoms so I called my doctor, who, after an ultrasound, confirmed that I had retained part of the placenta.  Gross.  On Super Baby’s 2 week birthday, I had to undergo a procedure under anesthesia to get everything cleared out, lest I bleed to death at home.  It really wasn’t a huge deal, until I lost a ton of blood on the operating table.  Whoops, so that was scary.  Fortunately, I narrowly avoided a transfusion although my doctor threatened me with an overnight stay to monitor my hemoglobin.  No thanks, I have a baby to attend to.

Since then, I took it easy for almost two weeks.  I was left severely anemic, which coupled with newborn sleep deprivation, has made me extra sleepy. I know right- so weird that losing a lot of blood and waking up every 3-5 hours makes me tired.  I have been taking iron and getting in as many naps as possible, and have gone to bed early every night which means I can’t watch Game of Thrones with Super Dad on Sunday nights when it airs.  So no spoilers on facebook people, I need my sleep.

On Monday, I went for my first run.  It lasted 5 minutes.  Later I thought my lady parts would fall out but it was just a side effect of the massive iron consumption (google it… I am not going to overshare that much).  Yesterday I ran for 10 minutes straight ( that was a mile.  Holy moly) and did five one minute “sprint” intervals.  And by sprint I mean running at about a 4 second per faster pace than my 10 minute jog. But I felt good, and I stopped myself before I was utterly cashed.  Plus, it was 90 degrees out.

Reigning it in is hard. I really want to head out tomorrow and run 20 minutes, then 30, then an hour, but I know that I have to be smart about it or I will hurt any number of organs or body parts that would not have been remotely affected by even a 2 hour run in the morning and an evening Crossfit beating in the past. Childbirth puts your body through the ringer, and just like there is pressure for endurance athletes to get back to training after a race, lest they lose the base they had built up after 6 months of heavy training, there is too much pressure on women to not only crush their workouts until hours before giving birth, but to return to “beast mode” before their milk comes in.  Too much? Sorry, not sorry.  It’s true.  I am done procreating, and have the rest of my life to run marathons, do an Ironman, learn how to do a muscle up pull-up, and Rx+ a WOD.  For now it’s all about keeping this tiny human alive, keeping myself from going insane (aka, sleep as much as possible), and being there to have fun with my other Super kids now that summer is here and the pool is open!

I may be contradicting myself in three weeks when I feel awesome and head back to Athletic Lab for some punishment, but for now, I am trying to be smart about my recovery mode.  Beast mode can wait.

 

Here is the gang at the pool this weekend:

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