The Summer Of Not Doing Much– But In Reality, Accomplishing A Lot

An update on The Summer Of Not Doing Much– But In Reality, Accomplishing A Lot

This Summer: It’s been great. I’ve watched a lot of movies. I’ve spent lots of time cuddling and playing with the Beans. I’ve exercised just about 6 days a week. I’ve tried out lots of healthy new recipes that we both really enjoy. And! I’ve lost somewhere in the range of 15-20 lbs since late March.

Left -- in March. Right--- Last Week. A new haircut, too!

Left — in March. Right— Last Week. A new haircut, too!

 Yesterday I had my yearly health assessment for my insurance. I’ve lost 6.5 inches around my waist, although it’s probably more since I was doing a great imitation of a roller coaster with my poundage. I still have a little ways to go, but not much. For the first time in a three years ALL my clothes fit. Actually, many of them are bordering on too big now and I’d like to thank strength training and lean muscle for that one. I feel good. I want to eat healthy food. I don’t even want pizza. I know. Somebody slap me back to my senses! No, don’t, because I’d like to relish in this moment for a bit. This is pretty much the first time in my life where eating and exercising are a balanced part of my life.

When I was a kid/teenager, I never routinely exercised.  When I was 16ish, my family changed our eating habits and I lost 40+ lbs in the course of a year. It was great, but it all came back on with college stress and life changes. By the time I was a sophomore, I knew I had to do something. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. During a nutrition and health class required by my major, I realized the thing I had to change was the plod/sedentary pudge I had become. I started working out at the university’s high tech gym. Back then it took me 45 minutes to run 3 miles. And that was after working up to three miles. But I haven’t stopped working out since. Now, I have pretty awesome endurance. I love, love, love the mindlessness of cardio and regularly do an hour to an hour and a half of it. But even with all the exercise, when life got stressful about 3 years ago, a lot of the weight came back. Not all, thanks to massive amounts of cardio, but enough that I’ve been slowly yo-yoing back down for three years.

This year sucked. And all the weight I lost last year came back. I see now that I was on auto-pilot. I knew what I needed to do to lose and then maintain a healthy weight, but it was hard, and I didn’t care, and when I cared too much I became discouraged and if you’ve ever been discouraged you know that feeling tastes a lot like a box of cheeze-its. Which is where my hand would find itself on particularly bad days/weeks.

Me in a dress that I bought and never fit into. UNTIL NOW.

Me in a dress that I bought and never fit into. UNTIL NOW.

This summer I told myself we would do better. We owed it to ourselves. I really owed it to me (ok, pinterest quote, settle down). I wanted to actually reap the benefits of all the work I put into my workout. I also want to live for a long time but not as a sedentary cheeze-it pudge. So I stuck to my commitment and I’m glad I didn’t give up.

These are some of the things that really helped/ are helping to keep me going:

  • The Lose It! App – you can log everything you eat. Need to scan a bar code? No problem. Do most of your own cooking? Cool, you can input recipes and see how much you’re actually eating.
  • The South Beach Diet (but the vegetarian recipes, because animals)- This is the lifestyle change my family made when I was in high school. The hubs and I choose the best sounding/ my favorite old recipes. It’s simple, delicious, and healthy food.
  • Limiting carbs-  I love carbs. If I could hug every potato in the world, I totally would.  If you told me I could never have bread again, I’d punch you right in the mouth. But I hold these carbs so dear that I can actually eat a whole loaf of healthy bread by myself. And still have room for potatoes and pizza. So, I’ve tried to limit those favorite carbs. And it’s been pretty ok!
  • Vegan recipes- In the name of limiting carbs I had to find alternatives to those things that I love, those starchy, starchy things. I stumbled on vegan recipes like this one, and this one, and this one. While not all of those are a replacement for the love of my life, starch (Just kidding, Chris! I love you the most! Especially if you are cradling a potato!), it doesn’t matter because the food is so. damn. delicious.
  • Moderation- I can still have beer. I can still eat bread. I just can’t do these things every day. BUT THIS IS AMERICA! I SHOULD HAVE ALL THE BEER AND POTATO CHIPS I WANT. Yes, but, you turn into a catatonic salt and vinegar dipped in beer infused version of yourself, Nancy, and you don’t like that aftermath. I allow myself a “cheat day” or an occasional not as healthy treat during the week. It can’t be every day, but if we are at a friend’s house and they have pie? I am probably going to still have a small slice. And so help me if I ever have to give up beer. I can’t! But if I limit myself to 1-2 beers once a week, it’s a treat and not a part of my unbalanced diet.
  • Exercise- I already worked out a lot. I just wasn’t getting any benefit because I wasn’t paying attention to my diet because apathetic Nancy was apathetic. Even on the days that I don’t run for 8 hours, I can see/feel the difference it makes because I’ve finally balanced eating and exercise in a way that works for me.
  • Chris-  He signed on to eat better. He encourages me when I feel like a pudge (and makes sure to tell me I am emphatically not a pudge). He started exercising too. He lets me try all sorts of crazy/new vegan and vegetarian recipes. The hubs is pretty much the best person ever and this would have been many cheeze-it boxes harder if he wasn’t so helpful.

So that’s all really. It’s been a summer of loss and Netflix. I’d call that a success. I hope if you’re trying to push through your own healthy hurdle that you are seeing positive changes, too. If not, keep going. Avoid the cheeze-it aisle. You can do it (ok, motivational kitten poster, nobody takes you seriously)… (but really, you can do it.)

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About a Smoking Jacket. And love.

Part 1: Desk Declarations

Smoking Jacket Nancy’s Perch

 It happened like this:

I had seen him once three months earlier. Best Dude Friend was playing a set at Small Coffee Shop and he was there with a guitar and backup vocals. I remember thinking, Other Guitarist is cute, and because of happenstance and maybe, because the cosmos thinks it makes a better story, I left early after the Best Dude Friend’s concert, which I never had in the history of any of his shows. I left and went to a bar and Best Dude Friend and Other Guitarist went to another bar equal distance from Small Coffee Shop. I thought nothing more of that night until 3 months later on an  unobtrusive Saturday evening in October when Other Guitarist walked through the door again.

I don’t remember his walk down the hallway or even Best Dude Friend introducing us. But I do remember the handshake, accidentally calling him ‘Matt’, and one elevator look (in which brain was giddily checking off the following things: brown hair! hipster glasses! handsome! your pants fit! and converse! I always say, Bless a man in good footwear, fall for one in converse. No, I never say that, but converse!).

And suddenly, loud and distinct, over all the other rapid fire senses invading my head, brain said, Yep.

You see, I have this sliding scale of neurosis and calm in my head. Calm, together Nancy, or Smoking Jacket Nancy, as I like to call her, is a BAMF. She drinks brandy out of a heavy crystal glass, sits in a fancy red leather wingtip chair in silk, striped pajamas and a majestic purple and gold embroidered smoking jacket and she knows everything before it happens. She gives good advice and I’ve never seen anyone rock fancy house shoes like she does. She’s the part of me that always keeps her calm and shakes her head slowly and knowingly when the other side of me takes over.

That other part of me, Neurosis Nancy, doesn’t come out often. She freaks out about money unnecessarily and scares me into not buying paper towels because what if my heating bill is 8,000 dollars  this month and if only I hadn’t bought paper products I wouldn’t have overdrawn the checking account! And she yells things in my head while I’m driving like, “OH GOD! Remember when you were in that accident! That car over there is is going to smash into- Oh, no false alarm. You’re fine. Drive already.” I would like to clarify that Neurosis Nancy never rules my head, but sometimes she grabs the microphone  and yells incoherently for 30 second to 5 minutes before Smoking Jacket Nancy can sick her highly trained pack of dobermans on her. Typically, I exist much more toward Smoking Jacket Nancy on the spectrum.

So, in my head on that day, Smoking Jacket Nancy was raising her brandy glass and wiggling her eyebrows knowingly as I accidentally called Other Guitarist the wrong name and I could hear her voice saying, Yep, this is something. And it was, because nothing like that had ever happened, ever, in 24 years.

Part 3: My Brain is a Sniper Rifle

Part 1: Desk Declarations

Pressure Kid

Me, but smaller.

I heard that name from a Kevin Drew song called “Farewell to the Pressurekids”. When I was 17 I was introduced to the band Broken Social Scene and, as dramatic as it might sound, yes, the following is true: their music changed my life.

Ok, it changed parts of my life. Like the kinds of music I listened to and how much music really mattered to me, which is to say, a lot.

Besides the fact that the musicians who comprise Broken Social Scene are just absolutely fantastic, I think I fell in love with their sounds because at 17, the world felt so huge and I was filled with hope and a little bit of anger and a little bit (or a lot) of fear about how I couldn’t stay with my friends forever and soon everyone was going leave and I’d have to start figuring the whole life thing out. BSS was a good soundtrack to being 17.

And I remember listening to Kevin Drew’s solo album thinking, we’re pressurekids. I think, anyway. I feel like that’s what I am. I’m going to say that I am.

Even at 17, I was already nostalgic for the years of 5-7. The climbing trees, skinning knees, cutting my hair so I looked like a boy, running through summer, cannonball into the pool years. I was scared about the future and I wanted to run away from Kansas (which I did eventually, actually, and then I was the only one of my gang of ne’er do wells who came back and stayed, but that’s another story). So I was afraid and unafraid and man, was that a weird time in life.

It felt like while the whole world was before us, everything was rushing, scrambling, time was ticking down and our existence was going to wink out. I found out later that was true, in a way. You can’t go back to that mix of naiveté and fearlessness and for me that ended up being a good thing. Each year I’ve lived (25, so not many) is better than the one before, except of course for that fantastic nosedive of a 7 months that was the last part of 2010 and first part of 2011. That sucked. But 2011 was also the start of the best years of my life. 

Anyway. I still use pressurekid as my moniker here and there and everywhere because I think that song and its meaning apply now more than ever. I’m not that indie-kid-who-didn’t-quite-know-what-she-wanted-and-was-just-going-to-hurtle-in-a-direction-that-felt-pretty-safe-but-wasn’t-quite-what-should-happen anymore, but I was once and I spent a lot of time in my own head trying to figure life out, pressuring myself to get through the ages of 17-23.5 and do it all right. But now, those years seems so far away that they’re like a dream.

So I guess it’s just like Kevin Drew sings:

Farewell to the pressurekids.