What’s up with Wanda?

Hello, world!

Lately I seem to have difficulty finding time to attend this blog with any regularity.  I’m envious of all the amazing bloggers I follow who seem to have the time, energy, and creativity to post weekly, if not multiple times each week.  How do you do it?  If I can post once every two weeks, I feel accomplished.  And in order to do that I have to hide from my family and make them pretend I’m not home.  I am so very behind on my blog reading, it’s pitiful.  I’m trying to catch up, so if you see me comment or like five of your posts in one day, I’m not really stalking you.  Much.  As far as you know.

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I guess this post is really just a mish-mash of catching up.  You know, sort of a ‘What’s up with Wanda?” kind of thing.  Not very exciting, but here goes…

happy squidBryn got home from camp!  She was tired, happy,  and her dirty laundry smelled like Hell farted in her face.  I’m not kidding.  I gagged as I was loading the washing machine.  It was a weird combination of body odor, some outdoorsy kind of smell, and dirt.  Aside from that, I was so happy to have her home!  You could say I was giddy.  I couldn’t stop hugging her and I could tell she wanted to be hugged.  She said she had a great time, and they kept the kids so busy she didn’t have time to miss us.  They did nature hikes every day, learned some cool outdoor skills, and got to do fun science experiments that included dissecting a squid and building a model structure that was designed to withstand an earthquake.  They studied marine biology, engineering and geology.  She loved it and we all survived the week.  Well, everyone but the squid.

The hubs and I started the My Fit Foods 21 Day Challenge, and we are currently on day 14.  No coffee, no alcohol, and no sugar for 21 days.  The diet involves eating three meals and two snacks per day, and My Fit Foods provides all the meals and snacks, fully balanced and portion controlled.  The diet is completely clean with no processed food, gluten or added preservatives.  The food is pretty good.  Honestly.  The hardest part is denying yourself all the things you would normally eat or drink that become routine and habit forming.  Like coffee.  And wine.  I really miss coffee and wine. 11188254_10152787327525737_6854965520899974824_n[1] I also miss eating out.  I love good restaurants, and eating out is a huge part of our social activity as a family and while spending time with friends.  That’s been one of the hardest habits to break in the past two weeks.  Oh, and you also have to drink what they call the My Fit Cocktail.  You mix it up first thing in the morning and down it before breakfast.  It’s a combination of unsweetened cranberry juice, apple-cider vinegar, and lemon juice.  It’s like a super cleanse, detoxifying punch to the face.  I won’t miss that when the 21 days are over.  We started this challenge as a way to break some of the bad habits we’d fallen into with ordering out and just over-indulging in our favorite restaurants and meals, far too often.  Also, despite my working out with a trainer, my ass seems determined to hang on to its double-bubble, and I needed to shake that up.  So far, it’s paid off.  Dan has lost eight pounds in 14 days, and I’ve lost five.  The plan is expensive, so not something a person or family can sustain over more than a few weeks time.  It’s also time consuming in a way.  Although the program prepares all the food for you, you still have to deconstruct the meals so that you can eventually re-create the type of meals you need to eat on your own once you finish the challenge.  That’s what I hate about dieting in general.  It’s the constant awareness of everything you eat, why you eat it, how often you eat, and the combination of foods to maximize the effect on your body.  It’s exhausting, and did I mention that I really miss wine?

Amen

Amen

My son had his pre-K promotion ceremony last week!  The two classes put on a Hawaiian themed performance, singing Beach Boys songs and muddling through some nicely choreographed but poorly executed dance moves.  At the end they were all called up by the pre-school director and given little scrolls of paper tied to look like diplomas, but in actuality the papers were blank.  (The kids were given real certificates later.)  It was adorable, and as usual, most of the parents devolved into the most self-centered, inconsiderate versions of themselves.  It’s sad really.  It seems every parent is willing to piss off ten others by hogging the good camera angles instead of just getting their picture of their kid and then moving aside so another family can get some decent pictures.  We have no useable pictures of Bryce because of the mob of parents who kept standing up to take pictures, or kept raising their cell phones above their heads to video the performance.  All we have are pictures of the top of Bryce’s head and the arms and asses of several other parents who refused to sit down, despite the director halting the show to ask parents to be considerate of others in the room.  Dan was about to lose his shit because the dad sitting in front of us kept standing up every time Dan tried to get a picture.  He started to get mouthy with the guy, so I leaned over and quietly informed him that the asshole in question was the father of the boy whose birthday party Bryce was invited to the next day.  He’s actually a really nice guy.  So, the bottom line is, don’t be that parent.  Don’t be the douche-bag dad or mom who only cares about their own kid at a performance and denies other families the opportunity to enjoy the experience as well.  And remember, all the other parents whose experience you ruined, will talk about your douche-baggery for years to come.

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My older brother, who is also one of my best friends, had major back surgery yesterday morning.  He has a degenerative disc disease that destroyed the cushion between a few of his lower vertebrae, and he was at the end of his options for any type of less invasive medical intervention.  He’s only 42 years old and has been living with chronic, debilitating back pain for years.  Yesterday morning he had an ALIF (Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion) for L5-S1.  Let me tell you, it’s some serious shit.  The surgeon entered through his abdomen to reach and fuse the lower part of his spine.  Think about that for a moment, and let the gravity of what that entails sink in.  He made it through surgery like a boss, and I’ll be traveling to Texas next week to help my sister-in-law take care of him while he’s recovering.  I’m anxious to be there with him, and the past week building up to the procedure has been stressful.

So, there you have it.  That pretty much sums up the past two weeks.  Throw in some housework, ten thousand loads of laundry, constant ass-kicking’s from my trainer, some butt-wiping, end of year school activities and there’s my full plate.  🙂  And just to leave you with something funny that made me laugh…..

Have a great weekend!

Have a great weekend!

 

Wanda Says…I can do anything for a count of ten!

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news is that in my attempt to increase my levels of physical fitness, I walked over 12,000 steps yesterday.  The bad news is that I’m pretty sure my knees and ankles are now plotting to murder me in my sleep.

I’ve been plugging along with my diet and exercise routine with somewhat slow but still fairly decent results.  The first week with my trainer I gained two pounds which she assured me was normal.  Then I lost the two pounds and gained them back when my bestie came into town for the weekend.  Apparently drinking gallons of wine and eating out two meals a day is not exactly healthy or good for my diet.  Whatever.

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Even though I’m not shedding pounds quickly, and I accept the fact that this is my fault and directly related to my weekend activities, I am getting stronger.   I can feel it in my arms and legs.  And I notice the difference in what I can do in my workouts.

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My trainer, Carrie, is amazing.  I actually look forward to working out with her.  Can you believe that?  I look forward to an hour of physical punishment twice a week.  I describe it as punishment because after the workout I feel like I need to crawl into bed and sleep for the rest of the day.  The other day I came home from the gym and went into my son’s room to play with him.  I laid down on his bed and passed out for over an hour.  I slept in his bed in the middle of the day while he played around me.  That one hour with Carrie is so exhausting, and my whole body has been continuously sore for weeks.  My armpits are even sore.  I actually feel like someone punched me in the armpit, repeatedly.  Who knew that was possible?  But during the workout I don’t feel exhausted.  I just feel strong and curious to see what I can do.  I never watch the clock, either.  When I workout with her I never feel like I have to check and see how much time is left before I can be done.

exercise-would-be-so-much-more-rewarding-if-calories-screamed-in-agony-as-you-burned-them-f568c[1]Prior to our workout, I do a quick warm up on the treadmill in a small, woman’s only section of the gym.  This room has mirrors on every wall, so while I’m on the treadmill I can see my body from every angle.  This has proved to be very motivating for me.  By the time I’m done with that warm up and join Carrie in the larger section of the gym I am mentally prepared for her to put me through my paces.  Seeing my body from every angle while I walk on that treadmill reinforces why I’m there.  I told Carrie about this and then said to her, “I don’t care what you ask me to do as long as you help me get rid of my second ass.  I only need one, and this bitch has been free-loading on my backside for long enough.”

She also pushes me in ways that I would never think to push myself.  I’ve learned to not even look at the amount of weight she hands me.  My first workout I thought she was crazy when she handed me ten pound dumbbells.  Now, I just trust that she knows what she’s doing and she wouldn’t give it to me if she thought I couldn’t really do it.  It is hard.  I have to fight through the exercises and I’ve learned what people mean when they talk about the mental aspect of pushing through physical barriers.  I mentally chant to myself during difficult exercises, which is almost every exercise she asks me to do.  I quietly tell myself, over and over, “I can do anything for a count of ten.”  Of course, it’s actually three sets of ten, but in that moment I just need to get through ten.   I focus on that and it helps me to wrap my head around what I am pushing my body to do.

My first week I could only plank for twenty seconds.  My whole body vibrates with the effort necessary to hold the position.  At week four I can do fifty seconds.  I hate that fifty seconds.  Carries says, “Close your eyes, breathe and go to your happy place.”  Instead, I close my eyes and repeatedly think, “I can do anything for fifty seconds.”

And I can.

Wanda Says…On the importance of wagons.

10553545_440917769396391_4946594825099486869_n[1]I fell off the wagon.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I jumped off the wagon.  Except my wagon isn’t just a workout wagon.  My wagon is a high maintenance, high protein, sweaty, fruit and vegetable cart.

After three months of living in my workout clothes and having very little to show for it, I took a break.  I stopped working out for about two weeks.  I drank wine.  I ate pizza, burritos and Halloween candy.

It was a little scary at first.  I had become so routine with my workouts and I was following a very structured whole foods diet for about a month, purging my house of so many unhealthy processed foods.  So the first time I allowed myself to eat a slice of pizza, I did so with trepidation.  Isn’t that ridiculous?  As if the cheese on my pizza or the pizza crust would cause my body to instantly self-destruct the moment I swallowed it.  That’s how I felt.  When you educate yourself and understand what you’re really putting into your body when you eat processed, preservative and chemical laced foods, it really can be a bit scary when you knowingly choose to ignore that knowledge and eat it anyway.

But eat it, I did.  And it was sooooooo good!  I wish I could tell you I didn’t miss it.  I wish I could tell you that eating healthier whole foods for a period of time had erased my love of sugar and complex carbohydrates, but that would be a lie of ginormous proportions.

healthy shopping cartI didn’t completely lose my mind.  I followed the general outlines of my diet for the most part, still eating a lot of protein and high fiber carbs.  But if I wanted some chocolate after dinner, or an extra glass of wine with my meal during my little hiatus, I indulged.  One morning I ate toast with white, fluffy, delicious bread and Jif Peanut Butter.  Another night I had pizza because I was sick to death of cooking.  For me, that’s the hardest part of trying to eat clean.  You have to prepare everything yourself from all fresh, natural, organic ingredients.  The meals  I cook taste great, but that’s a lot of meal preparation when you eat five times a day and still have a thousand other things that have to get done between the kids, work, housework, homework, etc…  There is no convenient opening a package and putting it in the microwave.  No take out.  No delivery.  No restaurants.  I miss restaurants.

Surprisingly, I didn’t gain any weight.  To date, I’m down six pounds, still averaging about a half pound a week. Trying to eat healthy all the time, workout every day, and still not see more noticeable physical results for weeks and weeks is very defeating.  Some days it makes me question why I deprive myself at all.  Why put myself through this hard work and abstain from all the delicious foods, convenience and restaurants I enjoy for a measly six pounds?

And the answer is that because losing six pounds is better than gaining six pounds.  Being less tired and having more energy is worth it.  Showing my kids that no matter how slow and frustrating the process can be, that mommy isn’t going to give up, makes it worth it.  Knowing I’m slowly improving my health and the overall health of my family through being more conscientious of our physical activity and eating habits makes it worth it.  It’s not a sexy answer, or a fun one.  But it’s the truth.

healthy wagonAfter two weeks of lazy self-indulgence, I don’t feel any better for it.  Oh sure, I enjoyed my Halloween candy, but not to the point where I can give up all the hard work I’ve done thus far.  So today, I chased down my wagon.  I’ve realized that I need the foundation of that metaphorical wagon to build on for my continued success.  The wagon helps me with focus and temperance.   It’s a symbol, or a reminder of what I am trying to accomplish.  There might be some gaps in the boards of that wagon, where occasionally chocolate and cheese can creep through, or a bottle of wine, but as long as the foundation is solid, I can live with that.

Here’s to the next six pounds!  🙂

Wanda Says…Losing weight is hard.

women workout 2In a recent post (Move your ass, sister!) I talked about some of my challenges with physical fitness and weight loss over the years. I also discussed how in recent months I’ve overcome some of my motivational barriers and begun working out regularly.

I’m still working out six days a week and surprisingly, I’m enjoying it. I like the way I look after a workout, all covered in sweat and red in the face.  It’s validation that I worked hard.  I feel my body getting stronger in some ways, especially through my arms, and I am definitely less fatigued throughout the day and have more energy.  However, I’m losing weight at a snail’s pace, and it’s incredibly frustrating.

When I first started increasing my workouts, in the first two weeks I gained four pounds. Four fucking pounds!  Everyone said, “Oh, don’t worry, you’re probably just gaining muscle.  This happens.”  Despite the fact that I was calorie counting and working out daily, these four pounds just sat there, shaming me every time I got on the scale.  After a couple of weeks the scale began to slowly eek its way down, a half-pound at a time.  To date, I’ve lost those four pounds, but only those four pounds over a nine week period.  At this pace, I need to change Operation Hot by 40 to Operation-Hot-By-The- Time-You-Stop-Giving-A- Fuck-About-Being-Hot.

I talked to my doctor and she didn’t have answers for me. I’m very healthy and my bloodwork is always great.  The logical answer is for me to look at my diet, and admittedly, I could be making some better choices.  But I will never be that girl who can survive on salad and lemon water.  I enjoy food, and while I understand calorie counting and calorie quality is important, I believe in moderation versus elimination.  I know from experience that if I’m too extreme in my diet or calorie reduction, it will just set me up for failure.  I start to feel sick and lethargic for days, and then ultimately throw the diet out the window out of frustration and physical misery.

Angry Woman SpeaksMore importantly, I get cranky and snappish when I’m hungry.   Have you spent time with super thin people who don’t eat?  They’re assholes!  And they should be crabby because they’re starving!  Living in LA, you hear about this stuff all the time.  It’s really popular for people to take appetite suppressants or other drugs to help control their weight, because God forbid, if your thigh is wider than your arm, California may just kick you out for not conforming to the standard.  If there’s some actress or model throwing a fit on set because her imported bottled water isn’t the right temperature, I guarantee you she probably isn’t really a bitch as much as she just needs a sandwich.

green shakeI know liquid diets are really popular these days, too. That’s one thing I will never be able to wrap my head around.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry I want to feel like I really ate something.  I want to chew my food.  I love the flavor and texture and aroma of good food. I can’t just choke down a green shake made from ten kinds of lettuce that tastes like horse piss and feel even remotely satisfied.  Can you?

A girlfriend of mine tried this diet where she had a list of all these different drinks she had to rotate through in a day. It was so complicated everything had to be written down to keep track, and there was a different mix or shake you had to take every hour or two. And then for dinner she could have a small salad with an ounce of chicken.  An ounce of chicken!  That’s like two bites!  But I would call her to offer support and encouragement because that’s what friends do.  She can usually make it to day three or four before she goes crazy and eats an entire pizza by herself out of desperation, and honestly, who could blame her?

healthy foodI just can’t live like that, but I know that I have to find a balance between my diet and exercise if I’m going to make this work, and I feel like if I don’t get this right, all the hard work I’ve done so far will be for nothing. I’ve recently started a new diet I found floating around Facebook.  It requires me to eat five small meals a day with a lot of protein, vegetables and whole foods only.  I’m on day four and so far I’m not starving and I don’t have the urge to kill people.  In my book, that’s a win!

PS–If it goes well, I’ll do a follow up post to share the details of the program.  🙂

Move your ass, sister!

fitness at 40These days it seems like everyone is embracing some sort of fitness craze.  I’ve seen the phrase, “fitness is the new mid-life crisis” floating around the internet quite a bit and it really seems to be true.  I think I’m ready for a mid-life crisis.

For me, there’s something about my 40th birthday, which is looming around the corner that creates a sense of urgency when I think about my health and overall fitness.  It feels like if I don’t have my shit together by then, it may never happen.  My window might be closed, forever.

I’ve always wanted to be more active and fit.  What I’ve lacked was the drive.  I’m not athletic, and I don’t enjoy physical activities that cause pain.  I try to avoid pain whenever possible, and a workout including lunges and squats will have me limping for days afterward.  And I’ve always found the atmosphere at gyms to be very intimidating.  It feels like I’m surrounded by health freaks who are judging me with their tight fitting workout clothes and bulging muscles.  There’s nothing like working out next to a woman wearing tight panty shorts and a sports bra to make you feel like Martha Dump Truck in my baggy sweats and t-shirt.  No thank you.

I’ve had a life-long, love-hate relationship with dieting and exercise.  You name a diet or exercise gimmick, and I’ve probably tried it.  I used to love watching infomercials on the weekends because I was convinced that the next great thing would really work for me this time.  The Thigh-Master?  Been there.  The Great North American Slimdown?  Done that!  The Cabbage Soup Diet?  I don’t recommend it.  Tae-Bo?  I can still demonstrate an impressive high kick with a side-punch!    Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem…and the list goes on.

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my life is that you have to love yourself and be happy with who you are.  And I do.  I would just like to be a physically stronger version of myself.  A less tired version.  A mom who can play tennis with her daughter, chase my son on his scooter at the park, and still have enough energy to come home and make dinner without passing out in the salad.  Part of ‘embracing my Wanda’ is about pushing through my barriers, and my weight gain, and fitness abilities (or lack thereof) has been a significant physical and emotional obstacle for me for many years.

So a couple months ago, I began “Operation Hot by 40.”  I realize that only giving myself a couple months to get hot before my 40th birthday was a bit optimistic, but a girl’s gotta start somewhere.  And when I say ‘get hot,’ I’m really just talking about losing the extra baby weight I’ve been carting around for the past four years, and toning everything up a bit, because we all know gravity turns into an asshole after 40.

So a few months ago I started working out regularly, about three times a week.  This is a big deal for me. I hate working out and my usual routine involves working out once, and then feeling like I did my due diligence for the whole month.   I also purchased one of the fitness trackers that are so popular now.

My first day wearing the tracker was enlightening.  That is to say, I was enlightened to what a lazy ass I really am.  I was shocked to see the level of activity it really takes to lose a pound a week.  The first day I was constantly checking the display device on the tracker to see where I was with my steps and calorie burn.  I did a 40 minute moderately intense workout, my usual 30 trips up and down the stairs, and running around the house doing stuff for the kids.  Then while making dinner, I found myself doing squats while standing in front of the stove.  My daughter walked up behind me and was like, “Ummmm, what are you doing?  You better not be sweating in my dinner!”  While talking on the phone to my brother, I was going up and down my steps in the hallway.  Up and down, up and down, just trying to boost my numbers so I could meet my goal for the day. It was exhausting!

Is this what it really takes to lose weight and be healthy?  This continuous squeezing and flexing of my muscles, all day long?  And the crazy truth seems to be, yes, this is what it takes.  And that just blows, because I was never good at this!

But…I’m not sure what’s changed…but…wait for it…wait…for…it…

I’ve now progressed to working out every day.  Did you hear that?  I’ve been working out every day!  And I am super-fucking proud of myself!!!! It’s only been a few months since I started working out, and just a few weeks since I increased the frequency of my workouts, but I already feel myself getting stronger.

I’m finding my attitude is slowly changing about my workouts, as well.  I’m starting to look forward to them. I’m not trying to avoid them anymore, but actually plan my day around when I can do it. I never, in a million years, thought I would become that person.  The person who likes to workout.  I’ve always envied those people, because isn’t having the desire to workout half the battle?

Today, while I was jogging on the treadmill, I realized two things.  One, I liked the sound of my feet hitting the belt, because that’s the sound of my ass getting smaller, and two, every step feels like a journey I’ve been trying to take for 20 years.  And for me, that’s pretty amazing.