Monday Malaise

I’m feeling some malaise today. I am quite literally not at ease. It’s not the alcohol, since I haven’t had any for the last 17 days (and 96 out of the last 99 days!) anyway. It’s not even the chocolate mint waffle cone, bagels, cookies, and Chinese food I binged on yesterday – though recovering from that is not helping. It’s just me – unclouded, un-hungover – having a malaise-y Monday.

With the end of the school year upon us, and my son starting kindergarten in another year, I ponder the precipice I approach. I have been a stay-at-home mom for the last six and a half years. And I don’t know what’s next for me. I don’t have a job waiting for me, or a career to which I could make a triumphant return. I am about to emerge from the depths of #SAHMlife and I don’t know what’s out there in a world where I will have SEVEN WHOLE HOURS to myself five days week.

I imagine some of this time will be taken up by a part-time job. But what am I going to do to make money? None of my volunteer commitments have the potential to turn into paying gigs. And lately I’ve lost steam with them anyway. I’ve been too into, well, THIS. Writing. And reading. And Connecting.

I am figuring my shit out, learning to love myself, and finding my voice.

So what do I WANT to do once I am able to usher both my kids onto the same school bus and not be chauffeuring them, cooking for them, cleaning up after them, and wiping their butts all day?

I want to help people like the person I used to be, by which I mean overweight, wine-dependent, unfit, and – most importantly – under-self-loved. But how? There are already so many beautiful women with perfect Instagram accounts and gazillions of followers who are established in the sober/mom/fitness/wellness/you-name-it communities. Books have already been written. Podcasts have already been recorded. Who am I to think I have anything to add to any aspect of any of this?

Especially since I have not fully given up alcohol. And I have not fully conquered my eating issues. And I could always be more fit. And a better mom. Etc.

But I have come so far. I wake every morning now with a body that a year and a half ago I believed was totally unrealistic for me. Before starting Weight Watchers, I had my wedding rings sized up and now they dangle from my fingers on cool days. The thought of drinking the way I used to not only holds zero appeal, it feels like a different life – and yet it was only six-ish months ago that it was MY life. I feel more comfortable in this skin than I have felt in years – maybe ever.

And yet I’m uneasy. I think because I don’t have a clear picture of where I want to go, what I want to be, what I want to do. My opportunity to emerge from #SAHMlife is on the horizon and when I get there I want to be ready to slay.

For now, I am a work in progress. And that is ok. I will never catch up to those amazing ladies who have been pioneers in the alcohol-free movement. And that is ok. I am finding my own voice. And that is ok. I can’t pretend to be anything other than this much-improved version of me. And that is more than ok.

Will I ever give up alcohol completely? I don’t know. Here’s what I do know: I will indulge in a glass of wine the way I indulge in a cup of Cold Stone Peanut Butter Cup Perfection. Very occasionally. I know it’s not good for me. I know it brings no benefit to the body that I have worked so hard to achieve. I know I will feel worse for having consumed it. And yet I am building enough inner trust to know that one cup of ice cream or glass of wine will NOT send me into a spiral anymore. And that is huge for me.

Maybe someday these desires will disappear, and I won’t want to burden my body with booze or sugar. Wouldn’t that be great? I don’t know, actually – and that’s why it’s not my goal right now.

My goal is to spend what little kid-free time I currently have empowering myself with knowledge. Understanding acutely the effect of these chemicals on my body. But I am not going to force myself to fit into the alcohol-free mold before I’m ready, because I don’t want to set myself up for self-sabotage.

The final ascent to the self-actualization apex of Maslow’s Pyramid probably does not include alcohol or sugar, or caffeine for that matter! But everyone’s ascent is different. And I can only follow my own. As long as I’m making my way up that pyramid, no matter how round-about my route, that is the important thing.

I have more than a year until two little butts scurry up the stairs onto the school bus. I have time. I am in learning and discovery mode. And whenever I feel late to the party, with my tiny blog and tiny Instagram following, I have to remind myself that the party has already changed for the better because I am here.

 

maslow-5
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

TGI… OMG I’m So Tired

Oh but it’s so much more than oatmeal, y’all.

Two and a half weeks since I’ve posted here! Feeling so far behind, and with so much to say, and not enough time to actually write it all out. Because, you know, life. Momlife, to be specific. The end of the school year has mercilessly hurtled itself at us at light speed and I was SO NOT READY. I’m never ready, but I felt even less ready this year. But it is happening, so.

So I find myself at Starbucks, still sweaty from my 45-minute kickboxing class and with an hour to spare before I have to release my babysitter and report back to mom duty. I’m taking hold of this precious hour with both hands, trying not to strangle it but holding on to each minute for dear life. This has been a trying week, with my under-the-weather-yet-still-rambunctious (HOW?!!) four-year-old son usurping most of my energy. He is between school and summer camp this week, and I thought it would be easier than past years (four is supposed to be better than three which is supposed to be better than two…) but SURPRISE! Having him with me all week has left me feeling exhausted deep into my bones.

And I feel guilty admitting that. Because he is such a darn good, sweet, fun kid. And I feel like I should be a stronger, more creative, more energized mom. That I should have created a week of magic and quality time and craft projects and museum trips and – how am I still allowing myself to be a victim of mom guilt almost 7 years into parenthood?!

STOP.

Enough. Back to what is real: I feel deeply, utterly pooped. I have been in bed by 8:30 the last two nights, asleep by 9:30, and STILL feel totally wrecked when my alarm jars me awake at six. I’ve been hydrating and eating better than I have in weeks, yet I can’t shake this fatigue and fuzzy brain. (“Did I pay the babysitter on Monday?” “Did I hug my kid goodbye?”) So I’ve started feeling anxious about that, which of course makes everything worse.

I haven’t felt anxiety like this since I was a big ol’ wino. And it is most unwelcome.

Let’s focus on the positive. I’m proud of myself for prioritizing my kickboxing class during a week when routine is out the window. When I got to the ‘bux I had a dozen FitPoints and all my Weeklies at my disposal and I chose to spend nine of these precious points on oatmeal with honey and nuts, plus a 0-point unsweetened iced green tea. The pre-Weight Watchers me would have ordered a sausage sandwich and a venti cold brew with a generous splash of soy milk. But I actually WANTED to make this healthy choice. My eating habits are truly changing for the better! YAY. (I’ll have that cold brew tomorrow though.)

So, I may be at the end of a wonky week and feeling disoriented by fatigue and stuck in an anxiety-fueled cycle of yuck, but I’m proud of myself for building strength and endurance through kickboxing and then refueling in such a healthy way. Sometimes eking out a small victory (or two!) is a huge victory in itself.

A Lower-Stakes Slump

… and I can’t even blame it on Royal Wedding withdrawal. Though that’s not helping.

For the last few days I have been slumping HARD y’all. Eating crap, not logging enough hours of sleep, not hydrating, feeling junky and filling my body with junk in an unhealthy cycle. Granted, this used to be a lot worse when alcohol was in the mix; but it’s still no bueno and I need to get a handle on it.

I weigh in tomorrow and I will have gained weight, I’m sure. I have about two months until I fly back to London for my MBA class reunion and I want to feel just as fab, if not better, than I felt for my high school reunion a few weeks ago. Starting tomorrow (fresh week, fresh points) I am re-committing to staying within my points until my reunion. I’m also going to start reading The Food Therapist by Shira Lenchewski, hoping that this book will help me get to the root of my eating issues.

Help me, Shira!

I’m frustrated. Because at this point, I have tools. I have knowledge and awareness that I did not have before starting Weight Watchers last year. I have also conquered my alcohol cravings, a feat which I believed impossible until I achieved it. But now sugar has assumed the role previously played by alcohol in the rom-mom-com that is my life. And I know I have to dig deeper.

Willpower is a finite resource. My willpower is running out routinely right now – just like all those days I would wake up and promise myself I wouldn’t drink, only to open a bottle of wine during witching hour desperation. Every day I wake up and start tracking my points, determined to stay within my daily and weekly limits. But by the afternoon, my cravings take control and there I am, scouring my pantry for anything chocolate-y enough to appease. This doesn’t happen every day, but it happened too many days this week (and this month, and this spring) and here I am on Sunday afternoon, feeling bloated and exhausted and sugar-hungover and weak.

I was able to ditch my dependence on alcohol by educating myself and using the tools that Annie Grace gives us through This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment. So many of these tools seem applicable to food cravings as well – yet I find myself balking at the commitment to using them in that way. I could make a list of non-negotiables (e.g. “I will not enter my pantry between 1 and 5pm” or “I won’t eat chocolate alone”) but, frankly, that just seems silly. And the stakes aren’t nearly as high. I’m not going to crash my car if I drive under the influence of chocolate.

This is not an emergency situation. While I’d like to lose a little more weight, I am still hovering within a few pounds of my original goal. Right now I’m just a girl, looking at a bar of chocolate, trying not to put it in my shopping cart. But just as I hit the wall with my relationship with alcohol, so too have I reached that point with sugar. Something has to change. I am tired of overeating sweets and feeling like I have no control over my cravings. It’s time to put in the work.

So this week I will start reading The Food Therapist. I’ll write about it too, because writing gives structure to my soul-searching. I will also get more sleep, continue to slay my exercise goals (the one thing I nailed this past week!), and give myself grace. I deserve to feel my best and not beat myself up if I stumble along the way. It’s time to turn this slump right-side up.

Scoring Kilojoules and Slaying Negative Self-Talk

This morning I had a major breakthrough on my Peloton bike. I blazed past my previous personal output record, beating it by 26kj. I was surprised to have so thoroughly kicked my own butt! I felt delighted and triumphant. Yet negative thoughts still tried to leave a nasty schmear on my pride. Ugh! The nerve!

Don’t ask me what kilojoules are. I can tell you that I set a PR of 341kj just last week. My PR before that was 337kj, and I hit that last November. Today I pedaled my way to 367kj! A jump of 26kj in one week after basically plateauing for half a year is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

But it’s not about these numbers. To some Peloton devotees, 367kj is a walk in the park. To others, it may seem impossible. Yes, my numbers matter to me as a way of tracking my progress but here’s what matters more: that I put the pieces in place to be able to achieve this athletic feat today.

“How on earth did I slay my own record like that?!” I asked myself as I made my protein shake. It was the right combo of being both well-rested and warmed up; reaping the benefits of cross-training; sticking to a healthy (and still booze-free!) diet; and being determined to break through a major rainy day funk. I also love my instructor, Ally Love. She is steady and strong, creative and charismatic. Her positivity and confidence are contagious. She tells us that we’re bosses and you know what? She’s right. I bossed up today and I’m damn proud!

Ok but really how did I do it?

Sleep: I have been aiming for at least eight hours of sleep per night and mostly (miraculously) getting it.

Warm up: I did this ride on demand, around 10:30 this morning. I had been awake since 6:30, so I was warm and energized.

Cross-training: I am building strength and putting on muscle with my biweekly, butt-kicking kickboxing workouts. Kickboxing and spinning compliment each other really well for me.

Diet: I have been on Weight Watchers for over a year now, and I still depend on tracking my food just as much as I did when I started. It’s nice to experience how much better my body operates when I am eating clean (even if I am currently dealing with major sugar demons – but that is a post for another day).

Exercise as therapy: We’ve had day and a half of non-stop rain and it’s been a bummer. I went off the deep end into a sea of snacks yesterday (all tracked and it wasn’t pretty) that left me feeling even more gross. Plus the ever-present everyday stressors of life y’all. So I was eager to use this workout to help me get out of my funk, and it did the trick!

This also happened:

“How on earth did I slay my own record like that?!” I asked myself as I finished my protein shake and headed upstairs to take a shower. Maybe I haven’t been working hard enough in the two years since I got my Peloton. Maybe they changed how they compute output to make the numbers bigger. Maybe this is a fluke. Maybe I am a fluke.

HOLD THE F UP. How am I still burdening myself with this BS? I have come so far. How am I still getting bogged down with my own self-imposed negativity and criticism and self-doubt?

But here’s the thing. I thought those thoughts. I gave them a moment of my time. They felt like old frenemies trying to move back into my brain. Familiar, but unwelcome. Just as they started to inflate their verbal Aerobeds with more hot air, I cut the power and kicked them to the curb. I quickly made a mental U-turn back to triumph.

And that is where I’ll try to stay. I remind myself that I am a work in progress, and it will take time to undo the decades of negative self-talk that has been sloppily fused with fear and doubt within my subconscious. But I have made so much progress. Just like with my Peloton output, there will be PRs and there will be plateaus. Such is life.

367kj. It’s just a number, but it’s more than a number.

Losing the Big Picture and a Booze-Free Breakthrough

I lost sight of the big picture yesterday.

It was my one-year anniversary of hitting my original goal weight of 145lbs. It was also the Mother’s Day brunch celebration at my son’s nursery school. I remember going to the event with my daughter when she was in Pre-K last year, feeling triumphant for hitting my weight loss goal. Yesterday morning, I couldn’t resist weighing myself – and I was 146lbs.

I felt discouraged. I had a lovely time at the brunch – but also ate quiche, pumpkin bread, banana bread, and a blueberry muffin. Then last night I ate a 13-point pint of Enlightened ice cream and followed that with about 22 points’ worth of granola.

At about 8pm, my mom arrived for the weekend. My husband had to go out on an ambulance call (he’s a volunteer EMT). I decided to stop eating, hydrate, and enjoy the time hanging out with my mom. By the time my hubby got home, my mom and I were telling funny stories and laughing our heads off. My husband said, “This is like you ladies after a few glasses of wine, only without the wine!”

His comment made me feel SO GOOD and so proud and so happy. He was right – we were having a great time together WITHOUT wine! It was a great way to end what was otherwise a bit of a rollercoaster day.

I am now in the negatives for my points this week, with the entire weekend ahead of me including a day out in NYC today with my mom. I weighed myself again this morning to keep myself accountable –

and as of this morning I’m 144.6lbs. So I LOST a pound and a half after eating all those carbs yesterday!

So I am resetting my view to the big picture. I put too much pressure on my one-year goal weight anniversary yesterday. I’m going to try not to do that again! I will reinvest my trust in the process. Give myself kindness and grace. The rest (and the weight loss) will follow.

My Alcohol-Free High School Reunion was Not Torture

On Saturday morning I woke at the buttcrack of dawn to walk my dog and squeeze in a Peloton spin class (burn, calories, burn!) before driving to suburban Philly for my 20th high school reunion.

I have vowed to take a 60-day booze break. Saturday was Day 55. I may not have done a lot of math since high school, but I was able to discern that this would be an alcohol-free reunion for me. My first ever alcohol-free reunion, in fact. Yikes. But ok. I can do this.

So I did. And it didn’t suck! At all!

How did it not suck being sober at my high school reunion? Let me count the ways:

WILLPOWER

I made the decision before going that I was not going to break my 60-day commitment. I also had one of my non-negotiables to guide and support me: “I will not drink when I have to drive, or if I am traveling alone.” So I had a full tank of willpower that I could put towards other decisions, keeping me on track (almost) the entire day. No booze or junk food boost-and-crash roller coaster for me!

ENERGY

It was a long day, from the driving to touring around the school and a picnic lunch, to the class party that night. Lots of schmoozing. I needed all the energy I could muster and I knew if I drank my energy level would plummet. Instead I felt a constant stream of energy the entire day. And that was much more refreshing and long-lasting than a drink would have been.

AUTHENTICITY

I am so happy to have reconnected with old friends and former teachers with an authenticity that is inherent in not having a fuzzy, boozy brain. I felt confident. I felt sure of myself. I felt 100% present. I felt content to be there just as I am. And that is incredible to me.

I was able to tell my French teacher that he was the greatest teacher I have ever had and when he bashfully rejected the compliment, I said, “I used to be bad at taking compliments too but I’m trying to get better at it. Here’s all you have to do. Say ‘Thank you.’ Now let’s try this again.” We did, we laughed, he said “Thank you,” and it felt amazing to have put that goodness out into the world and into his heart.

FIERCENESS

Apologies if this sounds a little vain, but my skin and body looked GOOD. I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST TYPED THAT. But I’m not going to let myself delete it, because this is important. It has taken a long time and a LOT of work to get myself here: I am happy in my life and proud of how I look.

On Saturday night I fit into a dress that I haven’t worn since my mini-moon, right after my wedding in 2009. I’ve held onto it all this time for sentimental reasons. I thought I would pass it on to my daughter. I never thought I would be able to wear it again and I think it fits me better now than it did 8.5 years ago.

My high school friends knew me as a fairly athletic but never thin girl with a cute face that was unfortunately riddled with acne. I am thrilled that I was able to show up feeling fit and pretty. What I look like on the outside, I think, also reflects how I have evolved on the inside. I did not need alcohol to give me superficial jolt of dopamine masquerading as confidence, as I have in the past. How freeing that was!

FUN

Y’all, I just had a great time. And being fully present only made it better. Snooping around the school and reliving the laughs and drama of our high school days. Marveling at how technology has evolved. Appreciating what a great education I received and reflecting on how my years there shaped my life. Catching up with everyone I could, from acquaintances to very dear friends.

And I was there. I was 100% there.

My only misstep in what was otherwise a wonderful day was eating a brownie with ice cream at 10pm, after the class party. I couldn’t fall asleep until 2am because of the sugar! Oops. But I’m trying to be kind to myself and see this as a lesson learned. I’m still adjusting to how much more sensitive my body has become to sugar since I’ve been alcohol-free. And I’ll take fatigue over a raging hangover any day!

Alcohol-free high school reunion achievement unlocked. Next stop: Day 60!

Who’s Got the Power? My First Year on Weight Watchers

Today is my one-year Weight Watchers anniversary.

Am I at my goal weight? No.

I am at my original goal weight, and that is ok. Because this past year has been about so much more than that.

My original goal weight has become my new “I feel puffy and need to get back on track” weight. That’s where I am today. And after three weeks of craziness (international travel with two young kids, a family case of strep throat, then head colds, and currently on day five of a power outage), I am ok with that.

I am more than ok. Because I have something that I didn’t have a year ago, when I set out on this journey. I have faith in myself. I believe in myself. I know exactly what I am doing and I know that I will get back to where I want to be.

Right now I am stress-eating. We have been out of our house for four days and out of our routine for three weeks. While I have managed to spend some of that time on the wagon, I’ve also allowed myself to give into my go-to cravings: tortilla chips, Nutella, and chocolate. I wish I were stronger. I wish I didn’t resort to junk food as a “reward” in times of stress. Because, of course, putting this crapola into my body is not a reward. It’s a burden. A moment of pleasure that instantly weighs me down mentally and physically. And that weight lasts a lot longer than the fleeting pleasure.

But I do it anyway. And I accept that. For now.

Because I’m in this for the long haul. I’ve run two marathons in my life. This is my third.

When I joined WW a year ago, I was desperate. My eating and drinking were out of control. I was squeezing into my clothes. I had little energy and patience. Working out felt like a hopeless chore. I needed some structure and someone else’s rules to follow because I wasn’t sticking to my own.

WW has opened a door to an existence that I didn’t believe was possible. I used to think my old weight was just the way my body was going to be after having two kids. I used to think it was fine to eat whatever I want because nothing would ever change. I used to think I would never be able to control my alcohol cravings. I felt disgusting. And, finally, fed up.

I didn’t know what else to do. So I joined WW. I stepped through that door. And while I have not yet arrived at my ultimate destination, I left the first 20lbs behind. Confidently over the threshold, I closed the door and flipped the deadbolt. I will never see those 20lbs again. The next five are hanging on for dear life, and the five after that still feel somewhat out of reach. But this is a journey. This is a marathon. I haven’t crossed the finish line, but I haven’t hit the wall either. I’m still going strong.

One year in. I wish I could have posted dramatic before and after photos, but I wasn’t up to it today. So I got a pedicure. I’d show it to you, but I forgot to shave my toes and my left big toenail is still growing back after a nasty incident with a pair of pointy-toe flats.

But under these Converse All-Stars, beneath my socks, my toenails are painted a fierce, sassy and confident shade of neon watermelon.

And under my stress-eating-induced bloat, beneath my sweatshirt and leggings, I am a fierce, sassy and confident person and mama and athlete and writer and warrior and wife.

I’ve been writing this post throughout the day. Between grocery trips and school runs and karate classes, amidst not knowing when or if our electricity would be restored before the next storm hits in a matter of hours.

And guess what? The power – finally! – came on.

We have power.

I have power.

THAT is what I have taken away from my first year on Weight Watchers. I. Have. Power.

And I take responsibility. For the good decisions and the bad. I alone have the power to learn from these decisions. And I am. I am learning so much about myself and I am becoming a better person and mom and wife every day.

Because every day leads me closer to the me I want to be. She has eluded me over the years. And at times I have almost lost her.

But not this time. Not ever again, I hope.

Because I have the power now.