Thursday, August 27, 2009

Svelte Mommy

My good friend Jodi has been walking me through this whole process on the phone for months. She is a friend from Newton. We met when I was 5 months pregnant with Natasha. I had just been laid off from my high-tech Internet job and was still very much in the working-girl mindset. She was pushing her two little kids in a double-stroller and I looked at her thinking, "How could that possibly be my life?" Then she went back to work and I was home with the refluxy babies. At any rate when I moved from Newton Alex was just 8 months old. So she never saw me particularly thin.

I should also add that Jodi is the ultimate svelte mommy. She exercises every morning at 5am for an hour at least. She is in great shape but works at it and dresses well but is not overly concerned with her clothes. I've known this habit of hers for a long time and had always kind of thought that I could never be that disciplined or even interested in exercise. She is still harder core than me, getting up in the dark freezing Boston winter mornings to run for an hour. I would never do that! It'll be me and Jackie in the basement this winter for sure. One time we stayed with Jodi for several days for a wedding. She got up and left the house to exercise just like normal while we were staying there - not worrying about getting us coffee or whatever, as well she shouldn't have. It made me think. If exercise is really that important to you you find a way to get it done pretty much no matter what. As I worked to change my mindset about food, diet and exercise, I would often think back to that weekend and her commitment to working out. It helped me change the way I feel about prioritizing exercise as something vital I do for myself. All my mommy friends in Newton could be described as svelte mommies. I even did that once. "I'm surprised that you are surprised your husband likes your athletic body. You're so....svelte." is what I said. She was so thrilled for days that I said that. I never thought I would be athletic or svelte. I was in a different group. Not a horrible group but a different one.

OK - back to the story. When we saw each other for the first time on Tuesday I walked down the stairs and was kind of taken aback because she was already in the house. I felt badly that I didn't greet her at the door, just on a hostess level. So that was going through my mind and I forgot that I look different, etc. So there we were staring at each other. Each of us kind of stammering. She, who is one of the biggest funniest talkers going, was completely speechless. I mean for like 3 minutes. And I just forgot that I look so different and was wondering where all the kids were and what was going on and it was weird that we didn't hug. But she was too busy staring at me. It was such a great visceral reaction. She kept looking at me and saying, in that tone of wonderment I hear so often lately, "You look like a completely different person." It's funny as it's not so much a compliment as just an expression of shock. Many people have reacted this exact way, including Dave. It's usually in the middle of a completely different conversation too. I'm kind of used to it now.

The next day I saw my long-time friends Mark and Jeanne, whom I know from Cummaquid. These are some fantastic people. Science professors at a small college in Maine who renovated an old house on Peaks Island, run an Oyster Farm and are the most physically active and fit people going. Tall and blonde and muscley and smart and down to earth.

Anyway, the funniest thing happened. Down at the beach they were taking their evening family swim (all together of course, with the little girl in just a life vest and bare tush) and Mark came out of the water and asked something like, "Do you feel differently?"
I actually didn't know what he was talking about because it was so out of context and he had just come out of the water. But this is someone I've known my whole life and haven't seen in 6 years so I look pretty different. I just forget that.

So he clarified and said, "I mean, you know, now that you're so..." he paused and gestured with his hands, searching for the right word, "svelte," he continued, "are you finding it makes you feel differently about other things?"

I started laughing and he got a little embarassed about his word choice. This is not a person who I would think would use that word - he's a bioscience professor-fisherman-yoga expert-home renovator kayaker, etc. When we are on the beach he endearingly points out natural scientific phenomena brought on by combinations of tidal currents and moon phases. I picture my aunt on Long Island scooping out a bagel and replacing the dough with tuna and commenting that 'her neighbor looks so svelte lately'. I thought the word had Yiddish origins, but actually it's French. But that's the adjective that came to mind. And so I explained about the blog. It was such a crazy coincidence and that's what made me laugh. But upon reflection it's really the most perfect compliment I could have gotten - aside from Jodi's speechlessness. When I named my blog 'sveltemommy' it was with the deepest sense of irony. I never in my wildest dreams believed that I would ever be a svelte mommy.

You can see a video at Peaks Island Seafood on Facebook. Mark is the taller blonder person.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Exercise alternatives

Since it's incredibly humid and I'm alone with the kids I've been working out indoors a lot.
I have tried a lot of the free exercisetv downloads on demand (If you have Comcast go to On Demand> Sports and Fitness> exercisetv> then either "Hardcore" "Biggest Loser" or "Jillian Michaels". So far I like Marco Reed, and the Biggest Loser workouts the best (Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels) - as well of course as Jackie, but she's not available this month. Exercisetv has a lot of free workouts but they rotate, so if there is one you really like you're supposed to go to the website and download them for a small fee. That's not a bad idea, especially if you have a laptop as you can take the laptop to whatever room you have space in and do the workout there. It's also a great idea if you don't have cable! I really prefer the shorter free-weight/cardio combos as opposed to the longer cardio workouts. I'm not sure which work better, but somehow I find it hard to motivate to really jump around in a small space, and anyway it makes everything in my mom's house shake. So Jackie-style power circuit training it is....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cape Vacation

Vacation is going nicely. It's not so challenging as I'm pretty much in charge of what gets eaten. Watching the kids alone is a bit of a challenge but that's ok. I'm eating a bit more than usual as life is so physically active here. Lots of walking. I'm either running, or now that my mom is gone and I'm stuck in the house with the kiddies I do on demand segments. They have Jillian and Bob and lots of good stuff. I like The Biggest Loser workouts. I missed the hand weights so badly I had to go to K-mart and buy some. I had been using wine bottles but they were a poor substitute. The only two choices at K-mart were 5 lbs or 10 so I stuck with 5s.

I had one day off so far and had some delicious hot blueberry/blackberry muffins among other goodies. Other than that just a bit less strict than normal. It's so hot I don't have an appetite sometimes. Everyone is complimenting how I look which is nice, but then the conversation moves on quickly, which is also nice. I've seen these people once a year for my entire life, so we've all seen each other go up and down and after almost 40 years no one takes too much notice anymore. It's refreshing.

Interestingly I saw an old friend today for the first time on the trip. I mean old - from age 7 or something. I know her from here. She looks fantastic. It's been a year and she lost 25 lbs from last August to Christmas. As soon as she finished I started - unbeknownst to us!

The practical and psychological similarities to our weight-loss were striking. Same mental attitude, use of technology, insistence upon exercise and portion control above all other ideologies. Supportive core of people - for her it was her fellow teachers.

She did an online Jillian Michaels program. So interesting -it all comes back to Jillian and Jackie as they use the same method for diet and exercise. She gets emailed recipes and workouts every week for $4/week. She lost 25 lbs. She has a very different schedule from me - she leaves the house at 6:30 am to teach on Cape Cod. I can't leave my house until 8:45 when the bus picks up my kids. She does about the same amount of exercise as me each week but instead of doing a little bit every day she does 3 long days at the gym - 1.5 hrs each. She leaves her kids in daycare longer and goes before picking them up. She would like to do more exercise but can't get to the gym any extra. She said she wanted to lose 10 more pounds but know she can't maintain it so she didn't. She does do some of the Biggest Loser stuff on demand like I do but she has a 2 yr old and 5 yr old at home so it's not quite as easy for her to do anything at home as it is for me.

So here are the similarities...
  • Mindset change is number 1 factor in success.
  • Exercise is non-negotiable.
  • Alcohol will inevitably mean you blow your calorie intake for the day.
  • Most sugar is a horrible waste but some is imperative.
  • Portion control!!!
  • Structured eating for all meals and snacks - Jillian and Jackie do a similar 3 meals, 2 snacks thing 400 cal for meals and 100-150 for snacks.
  • She agreed with me about 1400 cal a day - I did probably 1200 but I generally recommend 1400.
  • She, like us, does not eat low-fat salad dressing!
  • Looking out to an unhealthy future scared her - and me. She has diabetes, cardiac disease and colon cancer in her family history and just decided she was going to get healthy for her kids- very similar to my thought process.
OK - off to get my kids from down the street and eat pizza. I really don't want any but I may have one slice. More vacation news as it happens....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Question from a friend....

One of my friends who is currently dieting (very successfully!) asked me this:
I have a question for you about maintenance. You've been so successful and really seem to have embraced making this a life-long change, but do you ever feel hungry or deprived anymore? I know in your earliest blogs you complained about your hunger, and your disbelief that you'd be able to subsist happily on 21 or 20 WW points. Do you still feel that way? Or now that you're on maintenance have you upped your intake a bit? I think you said you eat your exercise if you feel like it.

You just sound really on top of this and not vulnerable. That is great, but I just was interested in whether you still feel like it is a struggle. And I don't even mean real palpable hunger, but the emotional/social - I'm at a celebration and I want to put some real sour cream on my fajitas and enjoy a margarita without thinking about it. Just curious, as I suspect for me at least this will be a lifelong struggle to manage, lifestyle change or not.
The short answer is usually I'm fine, but sometimes I do feel deprived. And sometimes I feel I've gotten too restricted and need to loosen up a bit. But the most important thing I would say is that it took me a full 6 months to get to this place.

But the longer answer is that I did feel deprived on and off for a long time - maybe all the way to 6 months. I gradually felt less and less deprived over time as I found ways to manage my choices better.
  • I figured out to eat more when I'm getting my period, and that helped enormously.
  • I also eat more if I do a lot of exercise and that also helps.
  • I have a very boring social life, so I'm not usually tempted by fun events (um...maybe the social life is a problem).
  • I still stay very close to on track during the week so when I am at a special event I eat some extra stuff, but I don' t go crazy.
  • I'm also a good cook and cook really well for myself so I'm not overly enticed by restaurants or other people's food. Of course some restaurants are fabulous, but so many aren't.
  • I'm trying hard to do a lot of exercise so my food choices are not as consequential.
  • I love my Saturdays off, for the exact reason you said - not so much the food but just eating what I want without thinking. To me that is WAY more of a release than the actual food usually. I am kind of a slacker on Sundays too - it's more like I take off half of each day.
  • I was never an emotional eater. A bored eater, which is kind of emotional as it's still filling a void, but a much smaller void than say massive stress or some emotional trauma.
  • I probably eat about 22-25 points each day, more like 23 most days, but I am not strictly counting any more.
  • While I am not counting I do still visually measure portion sizes and try very hard to stick to eating at a structured time more or less. I'm using the same structure as before with a little loosening about the breakfast/morning snack ratio.
I don't really think of myself as being successful at maintenance yet as it's only been about one month of it. I think I need to be successful for 1 year. But I'm not really worried about that. But the most important thing to take away from what I've learned is that it's a long process to change - not a few weeks or even a few months but half a year, at least for me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vacation countdown...exercise tv

I can't wait. I can't wait!
Vacationing at the Cape so I'm in charge of food. Will be hard with Dave not there, but kids are older now and almost both swimming. Plan on exercising a lot! Will buy new weights when I get to the Cape. Shred arriving at my mom's adorable mail box at the Cummaquid post office. Running is so pleasant along beautiful Bone Hill Road. See photo!

I'm interested to see how I do running there since I'm so much more in shape than I have been in years. I guess I'll have to do the bigger Keveney loop that my friends do - over the bridge and back. I can wave to the kids from the bridge if they're looking. I CAN'T WAIT!!! Ok - this is a worthless and boring post.

In other news...completely unrelated. I just really looked into exercisetv today on Comcast. Why am I spending money on dvds???? There are a ton of great exercises! I did Jillian's Shred level 1, which is a great change from Jackie - same basic idea but different personality, slightly different method...more integrated muscle groups. Then Alex was complaining that he wanted to exercise with a man so I found a male circuit trainer and he kicked my ass too! It was actually fun. What has come over me? I used to find exercising at home to a video to be the ultimate in worthless, boring, annoying, "Don't tell me what to do" hell. But now I enjoy it. I actually used to rebel against the trainer on the tv screen by not listening. I think my standards for what constitutes fun or fair have been severely lowered lately. My attitude now is more like, "Life is not fair or fun so pick up the goddam weight and lift if over your head a bunch of times you lazy arse!!!" Then hurry up, pack lunches, shower, argue with kids about teeth brushing and go to work.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Day off...

Spent most of the day putzing around farmers' markets and Whole Foods, and then waiting for various long-cooking items to cook. But now have a big stash of wheat berries and chick peas waiting for consumption. Made salad with wheat berries, beet greens, chick peas, eggplant and hopefully tomorrow I'll add a dressing and some goat cheese maybe...hmmm....dressing wants to be cuminy-oily-orange zesty but I don't have any of those ingredients. It also wants some sauteed onions. I can't believe I'm going back to the supermarket. I also have to plan for our travels and leave my husband a few things to eat, although not 10 days worth. I also was craving Dover sole based on all the Julie-Julia hype and luckily it was on sale at Whole Foods so we have that too. Having guests for dinner so I'll grill up some chicken thighs to serve with my wheat berry madness. When it's done I'll take a picture and post the final recipe.

I had a very yummy toasted whole wheat bagel with cream cheese, and picked at all sorts of things, including my kids' corn chips at Qdoba and their huge Yoberry dishes. Nothing was even worth it or very good, but the relaxation of not thinking and not monitoring was worth it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Successful family dinner....

Ok, that is a relative thing in my house. I usually eat first as I hate dinner-interruptus and would rather eat my food in peace early and then sit at the table picking at vegetables, and listening to complaints about how mean I am for making my kids eat a vegetable every dayyyyy!!!

But ideally we'd all be sitting, eating, chatting, looking lovingly into each other's eyes and becoming incredibly close as a family each night at 6pm. And I would make one thing for everyone. So I've mentioned the kids get to choose is working well and the deal is no complaining on mommy's nights. Last night I made whole wheat pasta and made a very light sauce of pureed baby lima beans, which I had defrosted from a huge batch of beans. I use it as a sauce thickener, but last night it was basically the whole shebang. I also added some Parmesan cheese. So the magical part was that I tried something I found online, "crispy greens" absolutely fabulous!! I way over salted and perhaps over oiled them, which owes to how good they were - but take one bag pre-cut, pre-washed mixed southern greens, spread out on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, olive oil, and roast on a high temp - like 425, for 10-15 min. They really do come out crispy and salty like potato chips. Disclaimer- don't put up too high in oven or they will burn. Also I did kind of twist half way through with some tongs. Since I over salted the crispy greens I under salted the pasta on purpose. Kids got extra shredded cheese, Dave and I didn't. Alex ate the greens mixed in with his pasta!!!! This is amazing to me! Five year old boy eating "crispy greens"

Natasha, who loves kale soup, for some reason refused to eat them, which really upset me as I really thought she'd love them, but she did eat a ton of green beans. I cooked those too - directly from my friend's farm and yummy. Fresh they're almost peppery like arugula.

So I kind of made more than one dinner, but not really. Kids got extra cheese and a choice of two vegetables - but that was more about using up what was in the fridge and less about placating them. I could have put extra cheese on all the pasta but I didn't want it. Meal was vegetarian but it would have been yummy with a spicy sausage - which incidentally I did have left-over in the fridge but we were being healthy. Dave finished up the bean salad from earlier in the week as an appetizer. That bean salad is good, but better for a party - the recipe makes a huge portion and it does get kind of less fresh tasting after a while. Natasha did ask me why I wasn't eating with them, which was a problem. I must work on the sociability of these meals and the 5-7pm time period in our house in general. We're all readjusting now that Dave is home earlier - we should be able to have nice family time together instead of a stressed out mommy griping at tired kids. It's funny though, I've already noticed that they treat him more like me....he's around more so gets more general kid flak from them and he is less patient with the flak. Very interesting.

For some reason I found this dinner highly satisfying. Kids ate green things, we all ate together - everyone tried a new recipe. It was super simple and very healthy. I can't say enough about adding beans into the diet. I'm trying as much aspossible to use dried beans, soak, cook, freeze and use in a variety of ways, pureed as a thickener, fiber additive, and whole. The kids are more and more open to them also. They are hands down the best way (cheapest, easiest, healthiest, most versitile) to stay full for a long time.

After dinner I sent them all out with Dave to take a walk while I cleaned up and prepared lunches for today and then I met up with them at the park. If there is chaos while I am cleaning/preparing next day's lunches I get insane. Tonight is hamburgers and turkey burgers on grill....I'm excited about the sandwich stacker pickles I bought!