A super-long post about exercise and eating

In January I started a 13-week fitness and nutrition program called 80 Day Obsession. I’m a huge fan of the trainer who created it and loved her prior programs, so I was pretty jazzed about this one. Especially because its unique design was not for weight loss, but for muscle gain and definition.

I’m one of those people who genuinely enjoys working out and eating a fairly clean diet, but this program was pretty different for me, for two reasons.

  • First, most of the six weekly workouts I’d be doing were an hour long, whereas I usually stick to 30-minute workouts.
  • And second, the nutrition component involved timed nutrition (basically, eating certain amounts of specific types of foods together, at set intervals. That second part definitely took some getting used to, because it required a lot more planning and thinking ahead for each meal.
  • And did I mention there are 80 unique workouts in this program? Yeah. You never do the exact same one twice. Chew on that.

To quickly summarize, weeks one and two were difficult for me. I felt moody, hungry and tired pretty much all the time. I also wasn’t sleeping much because #motherhood. In week three I switched from evening to morning workouts and started feeling incredibly good.! I was seeing physical changes and felt focused and energized. I bumped up brackets in my eating plan (read: more food) and was no longer very hungry in between meals. Things were looking up.

Weeks four through six were good, and I stayed super consistent with the timed eating, although I felt bored with most of my meals (disclaimer: there are TONS of things you can eat and recipes to enjoy while sticking to this program, but I work fulltime and have two young kiddos and the energy for that just wasn’t there). I was getting sort of grossed out by eating so many eggs and so much more meat than I typically do (disclaimer #2: there is a vegan option for this program, I just didn’t feel it was for me).

Starting in week seven I still followed the timed nutrition, but found myself cheating a bit between meals and reaching for sweets. Doing this during Girl Scout cookie season was not wise.

In week eight I found myself really disliking the timed nutrition. I was just over it. Not that it was that difficult or restrictive, I just started to recognize that it wasn’t a good fit for me and my relationship with food. I was bored and sick of having to plan so much. Basically, the more I had to focus on what I needed to eat, the more I wanted to shove candy bars and marshmallows in my face. This is exactly why I’ve always preached about balanced eating…because the all-or-nothing approaches make me resent something (healthy eating) that I typically love and embrace.

As the program concluded, I did see impressive physical changes, with lots of lost inches and a huge increase in my strength and endurance. I hadn’t pushed myself this hard physically in years.

I also did a lot of thinking and came to these conclusions:

  1. Three months of timed nutrition and 100 percent clean eating firmly solidified my deep love for wine, baked goods and chocolate. These things make me happy. They are not bad or forbidden. And they cannot be ignored. I love these things and don’t care if they contain grains and sugar and didn’t exist in the paleolithic era. Sucks for dinosaurs.
  2. I don’t feel as well on a diet high in animal protein. I don’t really like meat and I never crave it. Eggs are ok, but in moderation. I mean, when you think about where they come from…it’s sort of filthy. I’ve read a lot about eating for your blood type, and know that I’m predisposed to not respond well to animal proteins, so this isn’t shocking.
  3. Before this program, my portions had gotten a bit out of whack. This program taught me how much I needed to eat to actually feel full, and how much better I felt when I spaced my protein and carbs out more throughout the day.
  4. I WANT something sweet after every.single.meal. I don’t NEED something sweet after every.single.meal.
  5. I love vegetables and they can be a great main course, not just a side or a snack.
  6. I don’t like regimented approaches to eating, no matter how long they last or what they’re designed to do. I get that for a lot of people these plans work as a reset or pseudo detox but I definitely do better when I stick to smart choices and portion sizes but don’t have to overthink it. LITERALLY every female I know struggles with some sort of food or eating issue, and we can blame society or fashion magazines but the fact is, this really sucks, and if there’s something you’re doing that triggers bad feelings or behaviors, stop. Don’t do it. Accept that it’s not a failure but a sign to do things differently.
  7. I was not pushing myself nearly hard enough in my workouts leading up to this. I was seven months post-partum and was using that as an excuse to just coast and fit in exercise in when I had time. This program challenged the hell out of me physically. Never before had I felt such muscle fatigue or had to push myself mentally this way during workouts. I feel awesome and stronger than I have in years.
  8. I can do hard things. Like get 4 hours of sleep with a sick baby, and still wake up at 5, work out, stick to timed nutrition and work all day. I can do it because I made a choice to do it, and I had a ton of support (Jim, my friends, my accountability group, and daily interactions with an online group of other health coaches and the program creator).
  9. I like when my daughters see me working out and eating healthy foods. It gives me an opportunity to talk about being strong and healthy. Not only does it show them that I value taking care of myself, and that some small chunks of time are for me to fill my own cup.
  10. Weight looks different on everyone, and the same person can look very different at the same weight, depending on their amount of muscle. I’ve seen people complete this program who look NIGHT AND DAY different, and lost tons of inches, but not ONE POUND. My weight went up and down throughout the program, ending just about exactly where I started, but I did see a big difference in how my body composition changed, and dropped into smaller clothing sizes by the mid-way point. Moral of the story? Sometimes that mythical “goal weight” isn’t where you’ll look or feel the best.

Would I do this again?

Probably not. It was a good experience and I learned a lot and gained so much strength, but the strict eating structure isn’t for me. And that’s totally ok. I mean, the name of the program is 80 Day Obsession – the entire goal is to become obsessed with your fitness and nutrition, so I get that I signed up for that. But I think that looking ahead I’ll still use a lot of the workouts but follow my gut (no pun intended) when it comes to eating.

Do I recommend trying 80 Day Obsession?

Yes. I’m all for new experiences, especially ones that teach you about how to be healthier. That being said, if you tend to struggle with food issues, or are unaccustomed to intense workouts, then maybe not.

Any secrets to making the program work?

Shakeology is a freaking miracle product. I’ve had one of these superfood shakes almost daily for more than three years, and they’re an essential part of my health. I also used two products from the Beachbody Performance Line throughout the program: Energize and Recover – and holy moly these made a WORLD of difference. I will continue to use both. Plus, this program incorporates a weekly self care day, to stretch, foam roll, take an Epsom salt bath, get a massage, etc. I love that.

What’s next?

This month I started an entirely different type of program, called 2B Mindset. This is unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m learning a lot. Naturally, some of that learning is pretty uncomfortable, but it’s challenging  in good ways.

This program is solely focused on healthy ways to eat, without counting calories, or containers or making any food off limits. It’s keyed into helping you address emotional eating and lose weight (or maintain a healthy weight) without feeling deprived.

Here’s the craziest part: there’s no exercise. None. If you do want to exercise you can, but this is a fully immersive focus on how to gain control of how you view food, plan meals, and eat to feel full without going off track.

I am LOVING it. It’s a complete 180 from 80 Day Obsession, and that’s ok. It’s been amazing to explore a new approach and very freeing to start shedding some of the negative thought processes I have surrounding food and exercise. I strongly recommend this program, which is all available online (the content is all in short videos).

Happy to answer any questions, and hope that in sharing this you might find some amusement or helpful information.

healthy-bigstock--128259770-[Converted]-788x360

Advertisements

Maya is ONE!

Dear Maya, you are ONE!

It’s so hard to believe we met you a full year ago. You’ve brought indescribable joy to our lives and added a new dimension of love to our hearts.

Everywhere you go, people remark on how calm and happy you are. Even when you’ve been sick or tired or schlepped all over the place, you are almost always quite content and rarely stop smiling.

You delight in simply being held (by anyone), observing the world around you, and absolutely love to snuggle. You weigh 22.3 lbs, are 30 inches long (both about the 80th percentile) and your head is in the 94th percentile #bigbrain. A month ago you had two teeth, but now seven have broken through. You have amazing baby curls that I hope never go away.

You are fascinated by: my electric toothbrush, climbing into Lila’s bed, and drinking out of water bottles

You are mischievous when you: pull all the toilet paper off the roll, try to eat dog food, and pull your sister’s hair

You like to eat: pretty much everything, but especially green peas, veggie straws, strawberries and cheese

You can say: hi, yay, uh oh, more, mama and dada, and love to wave and clap and sign ‘more’ or ‘all done’

You love to: walk with your push-and-go or holding dad’s fingers, splash in the bathtub, and play in mom and dad’s bed

Parenting two marvelous humans has been a harder transition than I anticipated, but in unexpected ways. There are the simple logistical challenges, like managing two nightly baths and story routines, but also the less visible ones, like the guilt of having to put you down to tend to your sister, and spending far less quality one-on-one time with Lila.

There’s also the exhaustion. You finally got tubes about a month ago, but for the six months preceding that miracle, you were sick pretty much constantly. You were a trooper, but…no one slept particularly well as a result of chronic ear infections. We had a lot of unplanned sleepovers in your room.

We’ve found a balance though, and watching your evolving relationship with your sister is all the reinforcement we need that things are going in the right direction.

We love you and your magical spirit and are thankful every day for the privilege of being your parents.

34 is completely strange

It struck me the other day that there’s not a lot to be said about being 34. It’s a nondescript age planted solidly in mid-thirties ambiguity.

College feels like it was a lifetime ago, but I still like to have dance parties and shop in the junior’s section at Marshall’s.

I have life insurance and a will (F…a will?), and most of the same insecurities I did at 14.

I have friends getting married and friends getting divorced. Friends having babies and friends having an awful time with infertility.

I worry about climate change and societal unrest and also my pores and the onset of gray hair.

I listen to the same explicit hip hop I did in 1998, sandwiched between podcasts about religion and the gender pay gap.

I catch myself full of judgmental opinions when I see teenagers wearing revealing clothes, overlooking the fact that teenage me did the exact. same. thing.

I went to a rock concert this weekend. I wore ripped jeans. And when it was over, my back ached from standing all night. I drove home singing at the top of my lungs with two empty car seats as an audience.

It’s a comical juxtaposition to feel so young and so old. And it’s not that I actually feel old (despite the dreadful noises my hips make when I sit cross-legged), but a lot of life and living has happened, providing a vantage point where the past and the future are equally lovely and blurry.

34 isn’t bad. It’s just fine. A bit remarkable and sort of awkward and I’ll take it.

Maya at 10 Months  

You are a calm, content baby with a truly happy demeanor. Your smile lights up a whole room with dimples just like your big sis.

You started crawling and pulling yourself up about a month ago, and can get around the house in no time, even crawling up the step from the living room. You’re still rocking just two bottom teeth, but are getting longer hair with the sweetest baby curls.

You say mama and dada and something resembling “ya.” You wave at everyone and immediately start splashing your hand in the bathtub water when we say the word. Recently you’ve begun to play with us more actively, knocking down block towers and putting objects in and out of cups we hold.

You love food and have eaten everything we’ve given you, although you didn’t seem to enjoy mango too much. You sleep through the night fairly well when you’re healthy, but have been plagued with colds and stomach bugs and pesky ear infections for the past few months.

You’re fascinated with your big sister and light up when she’s around. You tolerate her somewhat overzealous hugs without batting an eye and follow her wherever she goes, letting out excited huffs and grunts.

You love to snuggle. When we hold you before bed and you’re sleepy, you’ll kind of burrow your hands underneath you and push your head into our necks, and it’s the best feeling on the planet.

Lila is three and a half

Dear Lila,

You are three-and-a-half and one amazing little human. When I try to find the right words to describe you, I immediately come up with: exuberant, thoughtful, intentional, determined, creative, silly and affectionate.

You are a super big sister to Maya. You engage with her, talk in a silly “baby” voice on her behalf, and are always looking out for her. On any given morning we might hear a frantic, “Mom! Sister’s escaping her room! She’s crawling away down the hallway!” And when she tries to grab your things, chew on your toys or simply requires our attention when you also need us, you’re exceedingly patient. You’ve never once asked us to leave her to tend to you, or complained about the fact that you’re usually forced to share our attention. You celebrate her milestones and play nicely with her, although we continue to work on what gentle feels like. You take the responsibility of keeping small toys (choking hazards) away from her with an unexpected sense of maturity, offer to share your food with her, and give her “kissing hands” when you leave for school.

You love the outdoors. You will spend hours outside entertaining yourself. You collect rocks and seeds, build houses for bugs, construct obstacle courses using miscellaneous things you find, and chat with your friend Everett over the wall about any range of amusing topics. You have no issue running around without shoes, and certainly are not intimidated by getting dirty.

Favorite activities:

  • Drawing, especially pictures of our family or your friends.
  • Playing with the excessive menagerie of plastic animals you’ve acquired (making them play-doh “pajamas,” building schools and stables for them out of magnet tiles and bringing them into your bath).
  • Making “surprises” and presenting them to everyone in the house. A surprise is one of your toys hidden inside a Russian nesting doll, given as a present.
  • Reading books
  • Watching clips of your favorite movies or shows. Screen time is limited to weekends, and it’s definitely a top choice when presented. Right now your obsession has taken a dramatic shift from The Lion King to The Land Before Time.
  • Talking about volcanoes and lava and molten rock, following a lengthy study of this in school.
  • Getting and opening the mail, and also making your own packages, taping them shut, and giving them to us.

When asked what you want to be when you grow up: “A tooth fairy. Or a lion or a dinosaur.”

Things you dislike:

  • Having your hair brushed
  • Going to bed
  • Mosquitos

Fun Facts:

  • You eat pretty much everything, even things that are spicy, or just not typical fare for children, like…chicken wings, raw broccoli, seafood, nuts, etc. The only things you tend to refuse are squash (that is, if you know it’s squash) and bell peppers.
  • You’ve been able to recognize and write your letters and numbers for a while, and now have started to identify letters in the environment, like a logo on a shirt, or a stop sign.
  • You have a very specific way we’re required to arrange your blankets to “make them peaceful” before bed each night. You also insist that your entire room is picked up before you go to bed.
  • You have insane memorization capabilities – your teachers comment on this as well. You hear a story once and can immediately recite parts of it, and are constantly memorizing movie lines and song lyrics and entire books.
  • You are a master negotiator. If we tell you three more minutes, you’ll ask for four. If we offer two strawberries, we’ll hear, “Welllll, how about just three?”

You’re simply a delight to be with and endlessly amusing. We love your spirit and energy and are constantly in awe of you.

About Last Night: A Tale of Poop and Parenthood

No matter how exhausted I am, I procrastinate going to sleep. Life is chaos these days, and I crave the semi-quiet hours after the kids go to bed. So after dinner and dishes and laundry and lunches I like to read or write or contemplate putting the clean laundry away before realizing that’s a terrible use of time. I also like to completely zone out and stare at my phone. The night hours are sacred.

But last night? Last night I went to bed early. EARLY!

I’ve been working out at 5:30 a.m. for the past few weeks, and with intermittently sick kids, sleep has been an endangered commodity in our home. I was giddy with the idea of turning in early and getting some quality rest.

But you know that saying, “[Wo]man plans and God laughs?” Well, let’s talk about how I got that reminder last night.

Here’s my timeline:

9:45 p.m. – I get in bed. Stretched, tossed my hair like a Disney princess, smiled, exhaled deeply and turned on white noise. I triumphantly passed out in 14 seconds from sheer exhaustion.

2:09 a.m. – Jolted awake when Maya wakes up screaming. Enter stage one of denial. Pretend it’s a dream.

2:26 a.m. – Maya continues to scream. I place a pillow over my head and aggressively start willing her to sleep in my mind. This can work, I know it can.

2:34 a.m. – I admit to myself she is not going back to bed, and since she’s been sick, and Jim is sick, I go to check on her. She needs snuggles and Tylenol. I trudge to the kitchen with her.

2:35 a.m. – I near the kitchen and smell something. I can’t quite place it, but it’s bad. Smell Maya’s bum…nope, not the source.

2:35 a.m. – Oh. Oh no. NO NO NO NO. Discover my dog had diarrhea in about 16 spots – all carpeted. Start to gag. Still holding crying baby. Question whether to put baby down to clean up poop, or desert the poop minefield to get the baby to sleep. Baby wins.

2:50 a.m. – Finally get Maya back to bed. Spend 20 minutes cleaning up dog poop, questioning my existence and true purpose in life. Lots of swearing. Gagging. Mild rage.

3 a.m. – Go back to bed. Too mad to sleep. Then even madder I’m wasting precious sleep time being mad about dog shit.

5 a.m. – Alarm goes off to work out. NO NO NO NO. Too early. Snooze.

5:10 a.m. – Re-awaken to a strange noise. It’s Lila singing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” at the top of her lungs, two hours before she usually wakes up. Again question my existence.

5:11 a.m. – Enter Lila’s room to discover every single toy and book strewn about. It’s basically like her room was struck by a violent toy tornado. The damage is impressive and terrifying all at once. I tell her to go back to bed and she launches into a most insane tantrum. This kid wakes up happy every single day. Why today was the once-in-a-lifetime anomaly I have no idea.

5:30 a.m. – Get Lila calm and settled through a series of positive reinforcement, hugs and shameless bribes. YES YOU CAN HAVE SPRINKLES FOR BREAKFAST. Eat my pre-workout meal. Curse my dog a few more times.

5:40: a.m. – Start workout. Initially feel like an uncoordinated donkey. End up feeling like a majestic unicorn gladiator.

6:30 a.m. – About to finish workout, feeling slightly redeemed about my life. Maya starts crying. I pause my workout to go and get her. She immediately poops. NOOOO I HAVE ONE MORE SET OF EXERCISES LEFT. Again the quandary of trying to finish something but needing to clean up poop. My OCD tendencies are having a ball with this one. Alas, the poop must wait as I finish the last few minutes of my workout.

6:40 a.m. – Change poopy diaper, get ready for work. Vow to go to bed early again tonight.

Maya at 8.5 months

Maya, you are such a sweet and happy baby. You continue to love snuggling, especially as separation anxiety starts to set in. You have two teeth, are attempting to crawl and can pull up to your knees.

You enjoy jumping in your bouncer and playing with your sister’s toys. You love solid food and have yet to refuse anything.

You are fascinated by the dogs and electric toothbrushes and put everything in your mouth.

We love your peaceful disposition and inquisitive nature, and watching your personality really develop as you become more interactive and curious.