Resolution Checkin: Books Eight and Nine

I’ve been reading a couple of books in tandem for a few weeks and finally finished them last night. I read The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, which is not usually my style (I hardly ever read non-fiction, let alone books about work), but it wasn’t what it seemed. It’s an interesting guide to breaking free of the 40-hours-a-week-trapped-in-a-cubicle-for-40-years lifestyle that most of us have been suckered into. The book appeared in my life at the perfect time, when I’m still trying to figure out what my next step will be. And with an impending move by the end of this year, it’s a great time to think about my options and realize that I don’t need to follow a conventional path. The book seems a little gimmicky, but Ferriss has an engaging, easy to read style. Definitely worth a look if you’re curious!

I also read The Story of Spirit Dancer by Tracy Stalker, who happens to be a friend of mine. It was a fun read chronicling a few pieces of her spiritual journey. I enjoyed it, and I’ll definitely be picking her brain about getting a book published.

As for my other resolutions, running has been difficult lately. We got pounded with snow a week ago, and just now, as I was set to head out with the jogging stroller to story time, it started to rain. Womp womp. I’ll begin my half-marathon training plan in another week or so and see where that takes me. I’m looking forward to longer runs again, even if it means having to wake up before the crack of dawn once a week to accomplish it.

I’ll be completing the half-Murph this Sunday after my shift at work. Today my goal is to run through the whole thing, as a way to prove to myself that I can do it. That’s what the training plan suggests. The only thing I haven’t been able to do is run with the weights. It’s just not practical with a baby at home. But hey, it’s my first one, so it’s going to be a PR no matter what, right?

Pixels & Posts: My Mom Tribe

I’ve never physically met my mom tribe.

Via social media, I watch the friends I moved away from physically interact with their tribes. Play dates, babysitting, asking for things like extra clothes or new toys – I can’t help but feel a twinge of envy at how easy it must be for them. As the old adage says, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and I don’t have much of one here.

But then I wonder: how many of them have received support in the middle of the night when their last nerve is being rubbed raw by a screaming baby who’s up every hour?

How many have confessed they feel like running away, and their tribe is there to say, “Me too,” without judgement?

How many have been able to admit they feel like a failure, to which the tribe responds by lifting them back up and assuring them that they are worthy?

How many have candidly spoken about sex, antidepressants, in-law issues, ending marriages and scores of other items of “dirty laundry?”

I’ve never met my mom tribe in real life, but they’ve been with me for a year and a half through pregnancy, the newborn stage, sleeplessness, body hate, job transitions, depression, anxiety, all of it. I don’t know what my days would look like if I didn’t have them there, a click away on my phone. I wouldn’t know how to raise my daughter without their knowledge – I swear, the simplest things like knowing what to feed her and how much? I really wouldn’t know without them.

My tribe makes me laugh, cry, squeal with excitement, feel anger for whatever injustice they’re going through. They cheer me on. They tell me I can do it when I feel like the world’s worst mom. They are a shoulder to cry on. They are my sounding board.

The depth of feeling I have for these moms is unrivaled. My husband knows many of them by name. We may be scattered across the world, but we know more about each other than most of us do our neighbors.

Who knew that joining a message board while pregnant would be so rewarding?

So to my virtual mom tribe, who I lean on everyday: thank you. Thank you for being exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. The best thing about you guys being virtual is that no matter where I move, you’ll always be there! Happy Mother’s Day to you all, and as we approach our babies’ first birthdays, let’s all be blubbering messes together.

Because if there’s one thing I know, it’s that emotion is not virtual.

The Next Challenge

Most of the time, I have some sort of goal I’m working toward, even if it’s just a race on my calendar. You may have noticed I like to hold myself to goals (New Year’s Resolutions, anyone?).

Naturally, I had chosen a new goal before the completion of my last race: to run another 10k. I even found one to put on the calendar (fingers crossed we’ll have moved by then and will be living in Westminster or at least a heck of a lot closer!). And why bother training for just another 10k? Let’s up the ante: let’s train for another half-marathon. That should make a measly 10k seem pretty easy.

Yep, I’m a little crazy sometimes. But I also really love to run, and running weather is here!

But you know what? That still wasn’t good enough. I have about a month before I need to begin training. How am I going to fill my days?

I’ll tell you how: the Murph Challenge.

As you can see, it’s pretty beastly. I’m pretty scared, to be perfectly honest. But let me clarify a few things first: I’m doing the challenge through my gym, and we are allowed to modify (scale) it. We also have a half-Murph option, affectionately known as the Smurf. I will be doing a scaled half-Murph:

  • 1/2 mile run
  • 50 pullups
  • 100 pushups
  • 150 squats
  • 1/2 mile run

I just don’t have the upper body strength to do a pullup without assistance at this point in my journey, so no matter what else I decide to do, I have to do a scaled challenge and do my pushups with a band (or on the pullup machine if I really can’t hack it).

I put 20lbs in a tiny backpack I have (I tried working out with the tactical vest at work and I couldn’t really put my arms down, so I needed to find an alternative) and have been practicing with that. Woof. As of right now, I was only able to complete half of today’s training with weight (today’s workout was two sets of 30 pullups, 50 pushups and 90 squats). It was rough. I had to do most of the pushups on my knees.

And let’s not forget that I’m supposed to run with this weight too.

But hell, you know what? Even if I have to chuck the backpack halfway through, and even if this challenge takes me four hours to complete, I’ll still be proud of this one feat alone:

50 pullups.

I could barely bang out 15 at the beginning of this year. And yes, my arms may have felt a little wobbly after, but I did 30 of them. And then I did 30 more. That’s 60, people!

So until half-marathon training for my 10k commences in June, you know what I’ll be working on: beast mode.

Resolution Checkin: Book Seven

The seventh book was not a pleasure read, but it certainly has made my life more pleasant! I read The MELT Method by Sue Hitzmann and Debbie Karch. MELT stands for Myofascial Energetic Length Technique. Essentially, if you have chronic pain of any type, this method helps you get rid of it by focusing on rehydrating and reconnecting your connective tissue system. I was a bit skeptical but I tried it and within 24 hours, my hip had significantly less pain.

Let’s talk about this hip for a minute. I couldn’t tell you when it happened precisely, but at some point when I began running seriously, my right hip started feeling like the muscle was tearing off the bone. During actual runs there wasn’t any pain, but afterwards… woof. The pain would last for days and days. I tried everything: strengthening exercises, obsessive Googling, stretching. OK, so I could have tried more – physical therapy, chiropractics – but I’m cheap AF.

When I returned to running post-pregnancy, the pain wasn’t there anymore. In fact, I didn’t even really think about it or remember it.

Until that one day about a month ago when I slogged up Highway 7 and then booked it down. And there it was, in all its excruciating glory.

The difference is now I work at a gym, and there are lots of people around who have different ideas about pain management. My boss suggested I read this book and the rest is history! All you need is a small, soft ball (I use a squash ball – another tongue-in-cheek gift from my boss) and a soft foam roller. Let me emphasize soft. Here’s the beast I currently own:

Foam Roller

Trigger Point Performance The GRID Foam Roller, 39.95 at REI

This mother of all hard rollers is not great for the MELT Method. I did what she suggested and wrapped a towel around it and it’s still way too hard. Luckily my boss let me borrow a softer roller from the gym, and then brought in his own roller to borrow, which is squeezably soft!

At any rate, no matter how gimmicky the book starts off, it has made me a firm believer in the power of working on my connective tissues. Maybe it doesn’t slow down aging and get rid of cellulite like it claims (or maybe it does, but I don’t really care about that right now), but it has saved my hip and that alone has made it invaluable to me.

I’m running a race this weekend that’s interesting to me for a few reasons:

  1. It’s the first race I’ve ever run here in Estes Park.
  2. It’s the first race I’ve ever run side-by-side with someone.
  3. It’s the first race I’ve ever run that I haven’t specifically trained for.

One thing I can say is that I ran the 5k route backwards and it was a beast. After doing that, running it the correct way seemed a heck of a lot easier. We’ll see how it goes!

Identity

Who am I?

I’m the girl who rattles egg shakers at the drum circle because they remind me of my daughter at story time.

I’m the black sheep.

I’m curious about people.

I remember what people tell me, for the most part.

I’m highly sensitive, and this causes me to fly off the handle a lot. I wish people knew that my bark was worse than my bite, and that I just need to vent to feel better.

I’m a runner.

I’m an artist.

I’m a writer.

I’m a mom. Sometimes I can’t believe it.

I can be petty AF. I think most people are and just don’t admit it to themselves.

On that note, I’m one of the most honest people you will ever meet.

I’m not meant to work in an office. I just realized this. Any job that requires me to tone myself down is just not a good fit.

I’m an animal lover. If I was super rich I would endow shelters everywhere.

I’m a giggle girl.

I’m a piece of the puzzle.

I make up songs and sing them to my husband, my daughter and my dog.

I’m terrified to answer the phone, and seeing a voicemail indicator makes my heart start to pound.

I feel guilty all the time, which is a symptom of anxiety.

I suffer from impostor syndrome.

My boss told me yesterday – as I told him I was feeling insecure about my personality – that I would make a great spy. I answered, “Well, I am great at creeping on people.”

I get a thrill out of acting bitchy, but only if someone else is doing it with me. Safety in numbers.

I didn’t care about Disney Princesses when I was a kid. I only liked the Disney movies about animals. 101 Dalmatians is my absolute favorite.

Sometimes I wish I had continued dancing when I had the chance. I had listened to my parents fight about money a lot and I figured we couldn’t afford it so I said no when my mom offered to get me lessons after she stopped teaching.

I need to resolve fights. I need to talk about things until both people feel better. Unresolved feelings are difficult for me.

I’m impulsive.

I love to laugh at my daughter’s crocodile tears and sarcastically wonder aloud where she learned that behavior from.

I hate when people I don’t know ask me about my tattoos.

I feel ugly without makeup, but sometimes I still leave the house without wearing it.

I love cooking. It’s something I’ve rediscovered about myself after becoming a stay at home mom.

I feel the need to explain that I used to have a more prestigious job. At the same time, I don’t want that to be my career path anymore. I guess I just worry that people think I’m an idiot because I work at a gym. Isn’t that stupid?

I usually only give people an attitude when they do it to me first.

I’m able to go into a deeply relaxed state when I meditate, which involves strange feelings of paralysis. It used to scare me but now I know how special it is, and how rare.

I am an Aries sun, Aries moon, Gemini rising. My Venus and Mercury are also in Aries, and my Mars is in Taurus. I am a super Aries!

I’m going to be late for work if I keep writing, so I have to stop now.

Resolution Checkin: Book Six

I pulled my sixth book at random like I’ve done with the others, but apparently it wasn’t a good choice. Mister Monkey by Francine Prose must have really been new fiction because just as I was about a third of the way into it, the library emailed me to tell me they needed it back, with no option to renew. Le sigh. There’s nothing worse than starting a book and being unable to finish it.

As I was checking out Mister Monkey, I had peeked into the parenting section and caught a glimpse of another interesting book: The Rise of the Milennial Parents: Parenting Yesterday and Today by James Pedersen. I decided to take that book as I returned the defeated Mister Monkey for another time.

It was a book written for educators about all the different parenting types floating around in my generation. I love psychology and categorization so I enjoyed it. I read it in a week too, which was nice. It was fun to try to identify which types I am, and which types I may run into as I meet more parents.

I’ve been trying to pick up my running again in preparation for my next 5k. Unfortunately, something in this pick-up resulted in more hip strain for me. This is a problem I had forgotten about: the burning muscle strain in my right hip. So painful, and so annoying. I have uneven hips and I think something in my gait suffers from time to time. This time, I’m trying to remember how it happened. It seemed to occur after running up a big hill and then down… anyway, I’m resting it up now and hoping to get back at it soon. If I can discover a permanent solution, that would be great! I’ve been researching uneven hips, hip flexor strengthening, and how to fix flat feet in hopes that a combination of all these things may help.

I did a great drop set workout the other day (well, I called it drop set, I could be completely wrong though) that killed my entire body. Sadly I ran out of time before I could complete it! It made me a little proud that an hour wasn’t enough time. It’s the little things in life. Oh! Speaking of which… I had forgotten to adjust the resistance on the rowing machine I used for a cardio burst and by the time I noticed, I had been rowing on 8/10. Go me!

More to Love – or Hate

“Why don’t I look like that?”

I was in the second grade when I began looking at other girls’ bodies, comparing them to my own. Something just didn’t feel right about the way I looked. In gym class, I watched Kerry’s limbs stretch out lithely, carelessly touching the air while my own felt stumpy, short, squat. At the amazing above-ground pools our families had, I stared at Caitlin’s spine protruding from her back and wondered why mine wouldn’t do the same.

“What is wrong with me?”

I pulled out a photo of myself the other day and showed it to Erik. “Can you believe I thought I was fat?” I asked, shaking my head. Ignore the awkward pose, but this is me at 9:

20170404_083712

Already freaking out about weight and size at 9-years-old.

Not fat. Not even close. It doesn’t matter though, because ever since those first comparative thoughts entered my brain in elementary school, they’ve become barnacles in my psyche. It seems as if they’re here to stay, forever and ever.

I was in high school in the early 2000s, and if you’ve watched Mean Girls, you know that means those weird ugly pleated miniskirts, tight tee shirts, spaghetti straps, low-rise jeans. Suddenly everyone started shedding their baby fat and becoming tall, skinny, supermodel teenagers. Even my best friend Deanna betrayed me with her taut, stretched stomach. Gone were the days where our soft bellies were evenly matched and evenly sized. My marshmallow fluff stayed and hers melted away, taking even more of my self-esteem with it.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on my arms. I used to call them whale flippers. To this day, I enjoy pulling the skin tight around my biceps and thinking, If my arm just looked like this, I’d be happy.

Anyway, nothing changed except in senior year, my breasts became enormous and made me even more self-conscious. Somehow they made me look fatter. Somehow, even though large breasts are depicted in movies and photos all across America, they don’t actually make clothing for women with large breasts and small-ish waists. Now clothes weren’t fitting me correctly and I had to make choices: tight shirts that would show everyone everything I had, or loose shirts that would make me look frumpy?

Between the stress of college and weird birth control hormones and emotional chaos, I developed disordered eating patterns around the age of 19. Food was Life. I learned how to chew my food and then discreetly spit it into a napkin when no one was looking, use laxatives to purge until my guts were an aching fire, spread food around my plate so it looked as if I had eaten. Nothing passed my lips without intense scrutiny.

And still, even with all that work and obsession, my soft belly stayed. Even at my lowest weight, it was there: rumpled, squishy, unwelcome. I dreamed of slashing it off, grabbing handfuls of fat and cutting until it was gone, never to be seen again.

I became an adult and started working, and learned more about fitness and proper eating, and slowly began to accept that however my stomach looked at that current moment in time was probably the best it was ever going to get. Surprisingly – and don’t ask me how, because I don’t know – I developed a healthy relationship with my body and its strength. Working out probably helped, seeing just what my body was capable of, no matter how big it was. I remember wearing a bikini to the beach in 2013 and for once, I didn’t panic the whole time and wonder what horrible things people were thinking about my body. I was finally comfortable in my own skin. It took 28 years, but it happened.

Then, a couple years later, I got pregnant.

At first, after I had given birth, I embraced my new body. I didn’t care what size it was, or what shape. It had performed an amazing miracle. I felt like this beautiful fertility goddess: substantial. Strong. Supple.

Then the hormones died down a bit, and the acceptance began to die with them, and I started working on getting rid of the weight. That was fine, too. When I had some extra pounds, my stomach looked a little odd but not too crazy. I thought I could live with it and that I had plenty of time and so surely it would look fine again by the time Adalynn turned nine months!

Ha. Ha. Ha.

I kept reading articles that said things like, “Nine months on, nine months off.” Sure, that’s true. I’m back at my pre-pregnancy weight. But my body doesn’t look like it used to. My stomach is a crumpled paper bag. The skin of an ugli fruit. The jowls of a sad old man. Skin and fat hangs over my belly button. An upside-down heart hangs beneath that. It looks unnatural, like something that shouldn’t be there. The skin is wrinkled, like crepe paper.

Disfigured. Deformed. Disgusting.

I soothe myself sometimes by saying, “Well really, who cares? No one needs to know what you look like naked. You look fine with clothes on.” Some women never get to wear their pre-pregnancy jeans again, so maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

Then I catch a glimpse in the mirror, and I crumble. Something inside hurts so bad, like a thousand pieces of fractured glass. Glass so small, you can’t find it with tweezers and you have to wait for it to get infected or work its way out.

Sometimes, there’s a shelf of fat and skin hanging over my pants. Even stretchy pants, even leggings. It’s unacceptable to me. I think it’s easy for other people to say you should accept your body – especially when they still look amazing. Like Caitlin, who birthed a baby six days after I did, and has not one single stretch mark or extra pound on her frame. I almost died when I saw a picture of her in a bikini.

Something inside indeed expired: hope.

Remember I said that it took 28 years to accept my stomach? Well, it looks like I have another 28-year prison sentence ahead of me as I grab handfuls of my belly flab and pull it this way and that.

Better start saving for my tummy tuck.