Barf

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I warn you: this is not for the weak of stomach!

Merry Christmas Eve! To celebrate I’m going to rant about the stomach flu. Tis the season, right? Sarcasm aside…I plan on a truly proper Christmas post tomorrow. But after this weekend I felt the need to rant a bit to get it out of my system. For any parent who has had to deal with the stomach flu, you will truly understand and sympathize with my pain. For those who haven’t, this will be a warning of what is to come. My goal for any Christmas is to get all the “stuff” (errands, chores, etc.) out of the way so that the days leading up to Christmas are calm and fun. Just hanging out as a family. Things were going according to plan until Saturday rolled around. The first signs of the ominous future came that morning. We had a kids dash for the kids. They were whiney all morning and it was a fairly miserable experience. King Toot was his usual, stubborn, difficult, defiant self. But the surprise was how Urpling and Sasquatch were acting. A they love races and usually have a lot of fun. But Sasquatch complained about how cold she was (it was in the 50s and 60s *roll eyes*) and Urpling kept complaining that her side hurt so I assumed she had a stitch in her side. But when we got home she didn’t want lunch and went right to bed. The other two only ate a smattering of food and then also went to bed. When Urpling got up hours later, she still didn’t want to eat. By the time dinner rolled around she seemed to be doing okay. We all sat down to eat…and then all of the sudden she started shrieking and heaving. Then it came…like a waterfall…all over her plate, her shoulder, the tablecloth, her chair, the floor, and then two other plates. To say I lost my appetite was an understatement. I cleaned her up, cleaned the plates, wiped down the chair and the floor, rinsed her hair out and changed her clothes….and threw away the table cloth (it was plastic and I couldn’t bring myself to try and get it clean knowing I would always be slightly queasy looking at it). King Toot found the experience hilarious and grabbed his food and started eating before I could stop him…giggling the entire time.
Urpling lays on the couch with a bucket and makes it several hours until bed puke free. Of course we get her into bed and she starts crying. I tell her to sit up and lean over the bucket. She sits up…and then projectile vomits in a perfect arc….over the bucket. Not a drop gets in the bucket and it ends up all over the floor. So I get out the carpet cleaner and shampoo the carpet..thoroughly. Thankfully, she finally goes to sleep and doesn’t puke again.
But then I wake up at 1:30 to her standing my bed yelling, “Mom! Mom! Mom! (Sasquatch)!”. Then she runs to daddy’s room (who was finally home) as I was still trying to wake up enough to hear what she was saying so obviously I wasn’t reacting quickly enoug. She fetches daddy and he enters the room…and exclaims in horror. Here’s his status describing the horror that awaited him: “Vomit EVERYWHERE! I’m going to be upset if I get this. Did we get it into the basket? No. We got it into our hair, pillow, bedspread, pajamas, arms, face, legs, comfortor, sheets, bed frame, and carpet. Then, we scooped it into the basket. Yippee for 1:40am puke.” Yeah. It was horrifying. He had Sasquatch in the bathroom rinsing her hair and body off. He had pealed her pjs off and piled them with her comforter in a pile on the floor. I called to him, “Well at least she got some in the basket!” To which he responded, “No she didn’t! That’s what I scraped off her comforter!”. Ugh. The smell was overwhelming…I had to leave and take deep breaths and hold it while I went in and stripped her bed and cleaned up the floor…grabbed the carpet cleaner…again…and shampooed the carpet….again. She returned to bed and slept for a mother couple of hours before waking up to puke one more time. Then she woke up again a few hours later and said she had to pee…only it wasn’t pee. After her second round of diarrhea, she said, “At least this time I didn’t puke out my mouth, I puked out my bottom!”. It was a long couple of days.
Needless to say I scrubbed everything in the house…and I mean EVERYTHING..in the hopes of preventing the spread of the plague. It seems to have been successful as neither King Toot (who laughed each time this happened…at least when he was awake) nor Sir Smiley nor myself have gotten it…yet. So we have ended up spending the days leading up to this glorious Christmas Eve watching movie after movie in an attempt to keep King Toot from jumping on his sisters, and to keep the poor girls entertained while they lay wallowing in misery on the couches. But it is Christmas Eve and thankfully we all seem to be recovered and healthy and able to celebrate this wonderful season together without any more issues.

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Have I finally arrived?

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I was skimming some mommy blogs and posts and chuckling to myself and it hit me. I was no longer obsessing about what other mother’s were saying. I was not concerned in the least if I was doing things differently, or whether they would be mortified if they spent a day in my home (although the thought does amuse me). There was a post I was reading about advice on clipping fingernails. A whole plethora of mothers were commenting and saying they did it while their kids watched TV…which is how I do it. But what amused me to no end was that every single one of them, without fail, needed to add a couple of sentences elaborating that they NEVER watch TV, and how they only turn it on for those few minutes and immediately turn it off before their children turn into human vegetables…incapable of creative thought. I chuckled because I wondered how horrified they would be if they knew that not once, but twice, my kids had eaten dinner in front of the tv in the living room in the past week. And no, they were not even remotely educational. Unless you consider learning scare tactics from Monsters University educational. And no, that wasn’t the only time the ol’ boob tube was on.
I used to worry about what people would think if they knew that I keep a healthy (or unhealthy) supply of Mac and Cheese around. Or that I have let my kids cry while I deal with other things…or because they just wouldn’t stop no matter what I did. I have rocked my kids to sleep. I have yelled at my kids. Would they be mortified that I use disposable diapers…or that I used an entire trees worth of paper towels the other day when my dogs had diarrhea all over the floor?
But we also go hiking. I’m not crafty, but we do play board games practically every day (my daughters and I just played the most epic game of Forbidden Island I have ever experienced….at the ages of 4 and 6 they rule). They make forts, and lay in sleeping bags reading in the middle of our living room floor. They watch movies when they feel like it…but then half way through will run outside to catch bugs and dig holes.
But most importantly, they are loved and happy….for the most part. I may not be perfect but I do a pretty decent job and when I’m looking at my kids I can’t help but feel like they might actually turn out okay. I’ve learned to say I’m sorry, I’ve learned to tell my kids to give me a break because I’m cranky and need a minute, and I have learned my limitations. I found my strengths and used those instead of trying to ignore my weaknesses.
I guess I just finally figured out my priorities. I want to keep God and Sir Smiley proud of what I’m doing with the kids they both gave me. Everyone else can kiss my nether regions if they disagree with my choices because I am now beyond caring what everyone who happens to pass by might think. I am a good mom, and I no longer need anyone else to tell me that to know that it’s true.

Betterness Part 3: Health

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I’ll be honest here. I am not an expert in any of these areas. My dad is a doctor. My mom is a food scientist. But, unfortunately, their knowledge was not passed along to me by genetics, osmosis, or anything else. I have picked up bits and pieces from their conversations with each other…but even the vocabulary is up here *gestures with hand a foot above my head* and my understanding of what their saying is down here *lays on the floor wishing I had a basement to better illustrate the lowliness of my actual knowledge in this area*. That being said…I have been gifted with some semblance of common sense, experiences at various levels of “health”, and the random bits and pieces I’ve read along the way. So I want to impart what I’ve managed to make sense of.

Health is impossible to define. I’ve heard some people rant about needing to lose weight and others rant about how we shouldn’t strive to be so skinny. I’ve heard about the evils of eggs and the glories of eggs. The food pyramid is touted as the second coming of Jesus by some and the arrival of the antichrist by others. So it leaves most of us average joes floundering around trying to figure out what in the name of heaven above we should be doing/eating/avoiding. So here was the best thing I did. I chucked all of it out the window. Life has taught me that I’m a skeptical and cynical person. I, out of a combination of sheer mule-like stubbornness and a healthy skepticism, avoid fad diets. If you tell me you lost 13 pounds in a week, I’ll call it a pile of something stinky and back away slowly. Plus, I chucked the notion that I needed to be focused solely on losing weight. There was a scientist who decided to try losing weight through calorie deficit alone. He ate McDonalds, hostess snacks, Mac and cheese, etc but only ate about 1700-1800 calories every day. He lost weight, his cholesterol went down as did his fat percentage (you can read more about this here). But was he healthy? I would venture to guess he probably wasn’t.

After several years of working to lose weight, I finally decided health was an overall quality of life that should include activity level, eating well, and a good mental state. But even more than what I eat, I’ve noticed what I do affects everything else. When I keep a good workout routine, I feel better. I feel accomplished, happy, and thin. Nothing else needs to change, even my weight, to create this change in mood. This also means I eat better. I no longer need comfort foods to comfort me. Do I still enjoy them. Ummmm….yeah. Double yeah. Triple dog yeah. I LOVE food! But I no longer feel a NEED to eat junk. Which is a huge difference!
So, basically, I workout and it makes me feel better about myself. I feel better about myself and so I eat better. It works.

I’ve now spent just over 4 years slowly trying to improved my health. It is a journey that is far from over, and I am not to my goal yet. but I have picked up some little tricks along the way that I wanted to pass along:

count calories. I don’t think you need to weigh every last molecule. But it is amazing how knowledge is power! Knowing what it was that I put in my body helped me make better choices and weigh the consequences. There were all kinds of things I didn’t even really like but ate because they were there. But once I knew how much that was adding up, I was able to cut out the things I didn’t even like, and still enjoy the treats I did like.
get workout stuff ready the night before. It’s hard to get yourself up and doing something that (especially at first) can be unpleasant. But I found if I had already spent the 15 minutes assembling clothes, getting bottles filled, packing gym bags, etc. that it gave me the extra push out the door. I didn’t want that time and planning to be wasted.
– speaking of planning, plan out your meals for the week, and when you will be going shopping. If I have a game plan and already have the ingredients purchased, I avoid the whole, “Crap! It’s 5:00 and we only have crackers and old celery in the house and we have to be to our scheduled activity at 6:30! Guess it’s McDonald’s again…” situation.
get a good iPodish device and make a playlist for working out. Music makes the workout for me. It doesn’t even have to be rocking and loud. But it puts me in my own happy place where no children are screaming for me.
– Speaking of screaming kids, join a gym where they watch your kids. Want motivation to work out? How about people taking three small kiddos off your hands for an hour or two? Now THAT is motivation!
try new things, and often! I’m on a break from my triathlon training. So I’ve tried a spin class, Pilates class, and a Zumba class. I’ve loved them! Don’t be afraid to try new things or look dumb. These trainers are just happy to have people show up to their class! They could care less what you look like. (Also, who cares what you look like at the gym? Anyone who does is a class A douche who is only there to strut around flexing in mirrors…and trust me, everyone else there dislikes them as much as you).
do what feels right. When it comes to eating and working out, trust what works. If you cut out gluten and feel a million times better, then go for it. If you discover that it doesn’t work and you secretly binge eat because you miss all your yummy bread…then it might not be the best route for you. Try something else.

Getting healthy is a lot like parenting: everyone has an opinion, if you wait long enough someone will tell you the opposite of what you just heard, and you will feel like you’re doing it wrong if you focus on doing it “right”. Instead, just try things, see what works, and then smile and nod at any advice given after that and keep doing what you were doing. But as long as you stick with it, good things will happen!

One of those days…

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It has been one of those days. Well, not day…afternoon. I took my kid to running club and brought the other two with to cheer her on. Then went to get supplies for the signs our school needed for their event tomorrow with two of my kids in tow, then picked up the third kid from school, went to Costco for food and stuff, came home and fed my kids, got Sir Smiley off to work, and the other to settled down in front of a movie. I had also spent all yesterday cleaning and decorating for a party we had here last night. So needless to say, I was a bit tired. I then spent the next hour or two making several signs for the aforementioned school event. They turned out pretty good, considering my extreme lack of artistic talent. I then settled in to have a semi-relaxing afternoon.
And this is where it went downhill. First, I meandered into the kitchen only to discover the Urpling had found a marker and “helped” decorate one of the posters. Thankfully she hadn’t scribbled on it, so it’s still usable. But now my pretty bubble letters have some very amateur black tracing throughout the middle of them. I really need to work on her penmanship.
Then I heard King Toot babbling. I went to investigate as it was time for him to be up anyway. Bad idea. Ignorance definitely would have been bliss. First the smell hits me. I turned on the lights, but it was one of the energy saving dealies that takes an hour to light up. As it was still dark I reach down to pick him up and bring him to the changing table. But instead of his waist all I feel is mush. Mushy mush. Horrifying mush. Mush that sent me wailing and shrieking like a little girl to the bathroom as I puked in my mouth and scrubbed my hands a million times. Then I had to carefully peel off his soiled clothing, wipe the excess off with wipes, and then hose him down in the shower. On the plus side I won’t need to bathe him tonight before bed. Then I have to go and collect all the blankets, sheets, and clothes and wash them, and scrub down the crib. Yeah, I’m ordering a pizza and we’re watching movies tonight because I’m done with life. 😉

Betterness Part 2: Weight

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So a couple days ago I posted a bit about my betterness journey. How I finally decided sitting around watching Dr. Who and eating junk was probably not the best for me or my family (shocking, I know). This whole journey really started after I had Urpling. Mainly because I gained a LOT of weight with her.

I have written about this previously so I won’t get into lengthy detail tonight. But basically, I gained about sixty pounds after I had her. Part of that was my thyroid being a douche…but part was my lifestyle. So for the first time in my life I started paying attention to what I was eating. It was shocking. Ignorance truly is bliss. I always knew this stuff wasn’t good for me…but I had no idea how bad it was in terms of calories, fat, sugar, etc. Now, I am not opposed to the yummy comfort foods. But I knew something had to change. So I joined myfitnesspal, and then decided I should start working out. When I was in middle school I started gaining weight, and stemmed the tide by joining the swim team. But this time around I had no gym membership, and no pool, so I decided to run. I registered for a half marathon as motivation…and the result was a massive weight loss. Not down to my goal weight…but I was no longer disgusted when I looked in the mirror.

Here’s what I’ve learned while trying to lose weight:
-Everyone is different. What works for one person might not for someone else. Don’t be afraid to try different things. If something doesn’t work for you that doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means you need to find what does.
-How I feel plays a huge part in how I look at myself. For the past couple of weeks I haven’t been working out. I gained no weight but I started to get a negative self image. But then I worked out this week and now I feel smokin’.
-It’ s a lifestyle change. I hear that a lot. It’s a nice sound bite and basically means that short cuts don’t usually work. I wanted to be able to maintain this for the rest of my life. So that meant I accepted the fact that I will probably never be someone who grows her own food, never eats sugar, and loves vegetables. But it did mean I started looking for ways to add more veggies in my diet, snacks that were proportioned so I didn’t engorge, or snacks that were healthy substitutes. It also meant I still give myself fun days. thanksgiving? I engorged until my pants were ready to burst. I did it, and felt no guilt, because my regular lifestyle has improved. If this is for life, I still want to have fun…or what’s the point?
-Small steps. Whenever I tried to changed everything at once, I lasted a week. But when I made one small change, it easily and quickly became a habit.
-Go by how you feel…not how you look. I finally had to stop weighing myself every day. I became obsessed and my mood would revolve around my weight and waist measurements. But after I get a good workout, I felt great about myself and the extra energy I got from it. This doesn’t mean you still don’t maintain goals and work towards them. But there should be a balance. This should be about your overall health…not just your weight.
-Never quit. I have bad days. I had homemade toffee for lunch…multiple times. But you accept the failure and move on.
– Don’t give excuses. If you’re overweight, you’re overweight. It’s not healthy, and it hinders from being able to enjoy life as fully as you could. I finally realized that I didn’t want to live this way, and that I deserved something better. Not only that I should lose weight, but that I COULD lose weight. I stopped blaming lack of time, lack of resources, lack of money, health issues, or genetics for my weight. That was the real turning point for me.

If you’re struggling with your weight, change it. It will be slow, long, and often frustrating. But it can be done! Just remember, you are worth the effort and sacrifice. You are beautiful, you are worthy of good health, and it’s not about looking good…it’s about having the ability to live life to the fullest.

Betterness Part 1: Self Image

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So it’s been over a month since I last wrote anything. There were a lot of factors. I was having some minor health issues that were slowly being worked out (and finally everything seems to be working properly!). Also, for the three months between October and January, every single kiddo has their birthday, as well as Halloween (which we always have a party at our house), Thanksgiving for the family at our house, Christmas, and New Years. That has kept me busy, as well as a wonderful visit from my in-laws. Finally, for three weeks in a row I had my final races of the season. So for three consecutive Sundays I had an Olympic distance triathlon, a half marathon, followed by another Olympic distance triathlon. Did I mention I got a nasty head cold right after my half marathon…only to then develop Strep Throat on top of that the day before my final race? That final race I performed with a head cold and strep throat. So basically, in a nut shell, I’ve been busy, and the ol’ blog here took a back seat for a while.

I have been in a four year struggle with my health, weight, and self image. It’s been a long and slow journey…and I’m still not where I want to be. But I did these three fairly difficult races all in a row and I succeeded…and it has left me excited to see what the future will bring next. So I figure I will kick off these next set of blogs with my random thoughts on these areas…health, weight, and self image. (If you, for some inexplicable reason, want more detail on my slow journey to betterness…I have included links to three different blogs I have written since King Toot was born that talk about different aspects of my journey. You’ll find them at the bottom of this post.)

Tonight I’m going to start with self image. I do not consider myself an athlete. I never have. I swam on my swim team all through high school and even made sectionals several years in a row, and never felt like an athlete. I worked hard, trained hard, and that was that. I have always felt too tall, too gangly, too heavy, and definitely too accident prone to be an athlete (as proof, I ran into the side view mirror to my car today and have a nice big bruise to show for it. Sir Smiley has banned me from ever going on the roof or other high places for fear I will fall in some epic way…to my certain death). When I first started attempting to train for my first half marathon, I bought a decent pair of shoes, and that was it. I never bothered with types of training methods, drills, sprints, cruise intervals, hills, etc. I didn’t get any sportswear, or fancy gadgets. I had an iPod my hubby had won for me years ago in a raffle…it was the kind with the big circular button and the old school black and gray screen. I had to hold it in my hand. I didn’t bother with food nutrition or, as the sporties call it, fuel. That stuff was for athletes…which I was not. It wasn’t until I started reading The Triathlete’s Training Bible that my perspective started to change. I set up an annual training plan, and then actually started following it. I realized that fuel wasn’t just for athletes, it was to keep your body going when it works for long periods of time…no matter what you look like or how fast you are. I started trying different things, GU gels, accelerade, Gatorade, GU chomps, stinger waffles, cliff bars, protein drinks, etc. I found what I liked and started to improve.

The best part of tracking your workouts, is seeing what you’ve accomplished at the end. The author, Joe Friel, encourages the use of a training log. (no..I am not being paid to endorse his book. I just think his book is freaking amazeballs! It has transformed the way I think about myself and how I approach my workouts.) I tracked all my hours and distances that I did throughout the year. He compares training to climbing a mountain. You make a plan, and follow it as best you can…making adjustments for weather, health, terrain, etc. If you stick with it, you’ll reach the top, look back, and see how far you’ve come. That is what I experienced. Forget weight loss or pant sizes…I felt real success. Not only did I complete my first Olympic triathlon, I completed three of them. I dropped 24 minutes in 3 months worth of training from my first to my final Tri. I dropped 21 minutes off my best time in a half marathon. But even more awesome was the improvement off my last half marathon. I completed it six months after King Toot was born. It was awful. My lungs and heart were fine, but my joints and muscles were aching so bad that it slowed me down to a walk. I felt like a thin person trapped in a fat person’s body and I cried for the last two miles while Sir Smiley tried to encourage me along. I dropped 40 minutes off of that time. It was a feeling of redemption! Then I look at my total training. I swam for 2133 minutes, biked for 2293 minutes, and ran 3112 minutes for a total of almost 153 hours. I swam 47.5 miles, biked 1370 miles, and ran 240 miles for a total of 1657.5 miles. I feel amazing looking at that.

I am the the poster girl for “if I can do it…anyone can.”. I couldn’t even jog half a block when I started. I felt slow, awkward, and jiggly. The chafing….oh the chafing! Body Glide quickly became my thigh’s best friend, I ran at night so people wouldn’t be able to see me as clearly. I was also 40 pounds heavier. I knew nothing about running or biking, and it had been years since I had really been swimming. But I look at what I accomplished, and I want only one thing…for others to experience that feeling too. Nothing beats it. It doesn’t have to be triathlons (but I will say, triathletes are the most amazing, welcoming, and friendly people). But find a sport you really can get passionate about. Don’t worry what other people think. Research, read, and…most importantly…keep track. Keep track, so you can look back at what you’ve accomplished and get that same exhilaration…whether it’s your first 5K or an Ironman. Be proud that you did it!

Next time: weight…duh duh duh (say that in your head as an ominous interlude)

Reference 1: My thyroid problems: Click Here

Reference 2: My post on triathlons…which includes links to previous posts about triathlons. So my basic athletic journey: Click Here

Reference 3: My post on eating well as connected with weight loss: Click Here