Resolution Checkin: Book Fifteen (and a Half)

Well howdy folks! Here I am, on the other side of a move to a new city. Life has been turned upside down, and I won’t lie: my anxiety has reared its head again.

In the midst of the move, I revisited Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It was kismet – the book made its way back to me in July, just as I began mulling over my increasingly painful relationship with my mother. It was a book I had expected never to see again. I had lent it to a friend who I then had a falling-out with. Lo and behold, that relationship was happily repaired, and the book came back. I decided to pick it up as soon as I returned my last book to the library.

One of my first stops in our new city was the library. It is the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen! I picked up Room by Emma Donoghue. It’s the book my moms’ group is reading this month. I tore through it. It was a great book. It didn’t help with my anxiety, though…

For starters, this is the first time I’ve ever been unemployed. I don’t like it. I’ve been interviewing for a job for the past several weeks and am waiting to see if it pans out. If not, I’ll probably end up working retail until I establish my personal training client base. I have mixed feelings about this.

My 10k is next week. I am unprepared and trying not to freak out. It will be what it will be. I am still going to try to beat last race’s time. I have nobody to blame but myself.

Speaking of which, I find myself staring in the face of a massive weight gain. I had no idea. My clothes still fit, but holy cow, I stepped on the scale this morning and it was shocking. I haven’t weighed this much since I can remember. Not good. And definitely not good for my anxiety.

I know my brain will settle down eventually. I know that moving is a source of anxiety for many people. And so I cling on, and survive, waiting to thrive again.

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Resolution Checkin: Book Fourteen

Number fourteen was Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. I liked most of the book, until the very end, where it fell a little flat for me. It was kind of fun to watch someone’s downward spiral; that’s what I said to my husband when he asked me how I liked the book, which was an odd thing for him to ask in the first place. The book had some good characters and definitely some delightful awkwardness that was fun. Overall, I liked it.

I am about six weeks out from my 10k, which I still haven’t officially signed up for, and at this point I feel like I can definitely finish. I want to at least beat my time from the last one, 2.5 years ago (holy cow… really???). For that one I averaged a 10:58/mile time. I’m feeling like this is a doable goal. I’ve been making sure I complete my functional fitness challenge as well and I’m thinking that this kind of training is helping my running endurance for sure. I actually was able to run four miles sub-10 the other week! That has never happened! And I don’t feel like I killed myself doing it, which is the really great news.

And we are just about a week out from our big move, which is a huge contributor to my stress right now. Sometimes I feel like I’m just trying to keep my head above water. As nervous as I am to have so many life changes, I really can’t wait until it’s over and done and I have nothing to do but move forward. Being here right now feels like limbo: more things to pack, but not yet; address changes to file, but not yet; jobs to apply for, but not yet. Moving stinks.

Resolution Checkin: Book Thirteen

Oh. My. GOD!

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Janice from Friends

Hopefully you read that in Janice’s voice. Seriously though, I cannot believe the luck I’m having with first-time novelists. Maybe they’re not jaded by writing yet, or still have a wealth of passion that more experienced novelists have lost. But holy cow.

The Lost Girls by Heather Young was bleepin’ phenomenal. Everything that doesn’t seem quite right throughout the book comes together in a gruesome way at the end. It was one of those books that I had trouble putting down, even when my eyes were blurring and jumping around the page while I fought sleep. It’s going to be a tough act to follow. I’d reach more from Young for sure!

Running has been going a little better since I loosened my grip on a training plan. Sometimes I have aches and pains but I know I’ll be able to do this 10k without issue. I’d like to beat the time I did a couple of years ago, which means I have to do better than a 10:58 mile. I think I can do it!

I’m participating in a functional fitness challenge at work. Progress is measured over six weeks (four for me, since I’m moving), and you complete the same workout twice per week. It’s fun, but it’s a doozy! The muscle soreness was real. Here’s the challenge:
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I was surprised by how difficult the plank pulls were, and the kettlebell swings. I had to Google the difference between American and Russian swings to see what the difference is – it’s all in where the swing stops: chest level for Russian and overhead for American. Who knew!

Resolution Checkin: Book Twelve

I did an easy read for number twelve: Body Confidence by Mark Macdonald. It’s a lifestyle plan designed to regulate your blood sugar while focusing on macronutrients and smart exercise. I definitely think there’s something to eating more often. I notice when I wait too long between meals I go crazy and binge. I’m still not quite in a place where I want to eat chicken and salad though. Maybe once we move and things calm down a bit. Not to mention it’s expensive to eat meat and produce!

I had to take the week off from strength training because foolish me did too much, too quickly in the pull-up realm and pulled my upper trapezius really badly. When it’s so bad you can’t sleep, you know you did a good job mucking it up! Lesson learned. I won’t be pushing myself quite so hard next time, and I really need to focus on form over volume.

Trying to get out the door this morning to do a sprint with the stroller, but running up against opposition in my brain, which wants to pack and prepare for the move we’re making in a month. You’d think a short sprint wouldn’t take too long, but once the baby and stroller are involved, a 15-minute run turns into an hour one.

Resolution Checkin: Book Eleven

I’m having good luck with first-time authors this year! I just finished Lotus by Lijia Zhang. It was a great novel with interesting character development, and it provided a glimpse into China’s prostitution industry. I liked how it grabbed me right away and kept up the momentum all throughout the book, which ended differently than I thought it might.

Remember my resolution to climb a rope? It has changed into a new goal: I want to be able to complete strict pull-ups. I’m on my way there! It’s hard work, but I love the challenge. I think it goes hand-in-hand with my original rope climbing idea but is a little more manageable; i.e., I don’t have to learn how to climb something that has taunted me since elementary school gym class.

I recently made the decision to abandon my half-marathon training plan. Training plans pre-baby were relatively easy to follow. Now? Not so much. I found myself getting more and more discouraged with how long it was taking to complete just a week of training. I was trying to be kind and tell myself to just do the plan in order, but my anxiety began to rise. Then the nasty voice in my head came up to tell me how much I suck. So I made my own little training plan to follow: three runs per week (one of them long, and the other two can be whatever I feel like doing), two strength-training sessions, and two core sessions. It’s easier for me to stick with something like this right now. Anxiety gone – well, gone from the exercise realm, at least.

Resolution Checkin: Book Ten

I finished No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts a few days ago. I have mixed feelings about it. I liked the depth of certain characters, but there were others I thought could have been fleshed out more. It was an interesting story nonetheless. I was surprised to learn that the author is a professor of English because I found editing errors throughout the book. It’s small, I know, but those things stick out to me. I need to toddle down to the library today and get another book – I’ve been bookless for a few days and it’s getting to me!

I completed my half-Murph Challenge on May 28 in a little over 46 minutes. After watching a trainer at the gym struggle through his, I listened to his advice: “Save all the running for the end.” And what a run it was… more like a walk with intermittent jogging thrown in! The route they chose at the gym was all downhill followed by all uphill, and it was not fun running with 20lbs on my back. But I did it.

And you know what? I was the only female at our gym who did all the exercises with the full 20lbs. Bragging.

A day or two after completing the challenge, I set my sights on training for a half-marathon again. Well, it’s been about three weeks and I’m only about 1.5 weeks into the training plan. I think I need to step up my game a little bit. At this point, I’m only concentrating on doing the planned runs and cross-training in order, rather than making sure I complete everything in a week. I think I’m giving myself a little too much padding… life with a baby, right?

The Misery Mystery

I solved the mystery.

I was wondering why, when I search for postpartum bellies, none of them look like mine. All I see are “success stories”* of women who show a round, taut nine-month-pregnant belly, followed by a flat, taut, four-month-postpartum belly.

* I put success stories in quotes not to minimize the hard work that some women do to look like they’ve never given birth, but to underscore the sad fact that it’s only considered success if you look like you’ve never given birth. Anything else is deemed unacceptable by our society.

There are no overhanging flaps of skin covering up belly buttons. There are no puckered, wrinkled areas. There are no saggy, doughy upside-down hearts hanging near the bikini line.

There are no bellies that look like mine.

People look at me and cry, “You look great!” Sure, I sort of even agree with them, sometimes. I look great with clothes on. If you saw me in a bikini, it would be another story. And that’s what makes me angry – both with myself, and with our society’s beauty standards.

Why can’t I wear a bikini? There’s nothing stopping me, except me. I know if I wear a bikini to a public place, I will feel uncomfortable. I will feel the eyes of teenagers everywhere digging into my body and proclaiming, “She really shouldn’t be wearing that.” Besides the understandable discomfort, there’s no law preventing me from showing my belly (not yet, anyway…). And if I can just get to the place where I don’t care what an immature person thinks, then there’s really nothing stopping me.

It’s funny that as women, we’re expected to carry and birth the babies – literally carry on the human race – and then go back to looking like a lithe teenager. If you can’t get there, you’re labeled with a “mom bod” and cast to the side like a used condom.

After people started talking about mom bods, a new bod came to the forefront: the dad bod. Yet as much as the mom bod was talked about with disgust, the dad bod was celebrated as cute and cuddly.

That’s the sound of my stunned blinking.

Now that summer is here, it seems like every week there’s a photo on social media of yet another one of my friends who gave birth around the same time I did, standing confidently in a bikini, cradling her baby on her hip, with nary a stretch mark to tell the tale. There go my thoughts:

Well, you’re older than they are.

Of course you’re older than they are. You’re an old mom.

They probably didn’t gain as much weight as you.

They probably worked out during their pregnancy.

LOOK AT EVERYTHING YOU DID WRONG. You got pregnant when you were old, and you didn’t work out, and you ate everything in sight. You are a worthless human being.

As the thoughts spiral into the sky and explode like fireworks, a tiny thought comes creeping into the back of my mind – one that serves to calm me:

There are millions of women who look like you. They just don’t take pictures because they don’t feel good about the way they look – just like you. You are not a freak. You are not alone.

Here is the mystery that I solved: the women who have bellies like mine cover them up. They don’t wear bikinis. They go to the beach and the pool with their littles, but they wear tees and shorts, or one pieces, or even tankinis. They don’t proudly display their triumphant bellies – bellies that cradled and nourished and protected sweet babies – because they are ashamed of them.

Ashamed.

Ashamed, like they’ve done something wrong. Ashamed, because getting pregnant when you’re in your thirties instead of your twenties is too old. Ashamed, because feeling exhausted and unable to exercise when you’re pregnant is unacceptable. Ashamed, because eating ice cream and cookies instead of broccoli that makes you feel sick is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Wrong and shameful, like crinkly, saggy belly skin.

You know what, sisters? You’re not alone. I look like I’ve had a baby. I probably always will, unless I elect to get surgery. I had a baby. I didn’t commit a crime. I shouldn’t feel embarrassed. And yet, I do. And I know you do too. It’s OK.

I love you anyway.

You are amazing.

And you are beautiful, wrinkled belly and all.