Saturday, March 10, 2018

Getting Healthy: Update

I believe I alluded to the fact that I made "Lifetime" with WeightWatchers a few months ago.  Since that time, I had some crazy stress which affected my maintenance plan and as of this writing, I weigh about 10 lbs above my WW goal of 162.  A couple months ago, I made the decision that rather than go back to WW, I would try the health thing on my own.  Really, now that I've achieved weight loss, I am more interested in improving health through diet and exercise.

My health is pretty good right now.  My ulcerative colitis has been in remission through remicade since the birth of my daughter in 2015.  My diabetes is now two years medication-free with A1C testing normal.  I need to keep the focus on a lower-carb diet and lots of exercise if I want to stay medication-free and essentially not diabetic as long as possible.


Since I'm trying to save money, meal planning healthfully at home helps achieve both goals.  My workday daily pattern is something like this:

Beverages: coffee with unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Breakfast: two eggs with fat free/reduced fat cheese with vegetable/salsa and low carb "bread"
Snack: plain greek yogurt with a sprinkle of low sugar granola
Lunch: leftover something
Snack: hummus or guacamole with carrots or peppers
Dinner: cooking something--maybe I'll blog some of my kitchen adventures

If I get hungry, I'll add a low fat cheesestick, piece of fruit, or chips and salsa.  I usually let myself have a small piece of chocolate or two at work (dove or hersey kiss).

This seems to be working for me, but it's not really a "weight loss" diet, so I'm not losing much at the moment.  I'm eating healthy food when I am hungry and not beating myself up about it.  I feel well fed and energized.


When I began my new job, I decided I would take the time I usually used in the morning to lesson plan and grade papers before work started and exercise instead.  I have been sticking to this plan really well by doing two early AM classes at the YMCA on Mondays (Insanity and CORE) and Wednesdays (Body Pump) and continuing my dance fitness class (Bang PowerDance) at the Y on Saturdays.  I have also been going in Thursday or Friday morning (or both) to swim, jog, or lift weights, depending on my mood and body aches.

This is a lot more intense exercise and resistance training than I've ever tried before.  Although the first couple weeks hurt a lot and I feel ridiculously weak whenever we do anything involving shoulders and triceps, I LOVE it.  I feel stronger and get better at the exercises every week.

Although I'm not wearing my FitBit anymore, I'm still pushing myself to include more daily movement (walking up the stairs to the 4th floor office and to whatever level I'm parked on the garage, using part of my lunch break to walk around, parking in a distant end for meetings offsite and walking, etc.).  Again, I'm super focused right now on feeling more fit and energized.  It's been working for the most part.

I've noticed an increase in definition of my muscles and the clothes I bought when I hit lifetime are fitting well again, so I'm probably a similar size when I was at my lowest weight.

I need to go get my bloodwork done again, so hopefully the A1C is still healthy.  We'll see!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

February Progress for Debt Elimination!

In February of this year, I made a major life transition: I took a new position with my public school district that took me out of a classroom and into an office building.  Although I have been working on making this transition for the last few years through a graduate program, I was not expecting the opportunity to come so suddenly.  I had planned to wait until my now two-year-old daughter was in Kindergarten to make this transition, but a dream job posted.  I went for it, not expecting to be taken seriously at this time, and got hired.  

I absolutely love my new position, but am adjusting to a lot of things that come with a sudden major change in daily patterns.  Now that I'm about a month in, I am noticing that I have more energy and desire to read and write again.  I don't know if it will go anywhere major, but I think I want to start up my little blog again.  I used to have big ambitions for this blog, but this time around, I just want to use it as an outlet to explore some ideas and projects I have in the works.

If you are still reading after my lengthy absence, thank you.  If you are new, welcome.

My inspiration for blogging at this moment is that I am in progress on a new debt elimination plan and find that blogging about it holds me more accountable and helps me reflect on choices.  It is not the first time I've struggled with this problem.  However, my promotion has left me in the enviable position of having fewer "excuses" about why I can't get completely out of debt if I try really hard.  I feel excited again remembering my original commitment to reducing my consumerism when I returned from Korea (which I've let creep up a bit from addiction to convenience and laziness--thanks for the kick in the pants, MrMoneyMustache).

Progress from February:
  • I became accountable to myself, looking at debt and owning my budgetary failures. I discovered that I have allowed my family to wrack up a LOT of consumer debt this year, mostly attributable to two major home renovation/improvement projects (HVAC replacement and removing a wall from our living area).  We have also traveled a great deal in the last year, which is great, but not at the cost of debt.  Additionally, my habits of eating out often (often fast food, just for me--neither healthy nor social) and aspirational purchases when I got my new position (I thought I needed to dress a lot fancier; turns out I probably could have made due with just a few items upgrading) contributed significantly.  I must own that.
  • I refunded the emergency fund to $1,000. Along with the head/heart work above, I committed to a new understanding of what constitutes an emergency.  Then I used part of my tax refund to refuel my EF which had dwindled to about $300.
  • I did the math. At the start of February, here is what I owed in really awful consumer debt, in the order that I plan to pay it back.  Note this made me SICK:
    • Personal Loan: $3,529
    • Wells Fargo Home Improvement Loan: $5,579
    • USAA Visa Card: $8,360
    • Bank of America AmEx: $13,488
    • TOTAL (so ugly): $30,956
  • I made mistakes, but I am heading in the right direction.  I devoted a large tax refund and salary reimbursement from my previous position to paying off this debt.  My new totals, at the end of February:
    • Personal Loan: $0 (YAY!!!)
    • Wells Fargo Home Improvement Loan: $5,000
    • USAA Visa Card: $8,065
    • Bank of America AmEx: $13,782*
    • TOTAL (still so ugly): $26,847
    • Amount paid off: $4,109 (WOWEE!)
*Early in the month before a strict commitment to this project, I used this card for convenience when I left my card used strictly for personal expenses and paid off each month at home.  This was part of my re-education about the seriousness of my problem I was treating far too casually in 2017.

That's a great feeling to see that progress.  (Haha: I'm already so glad I wrote up this blog post.) It's not a realistically sustainable level of debt payoff for our family every month (like I said, refunds and reimbursements made a huge difference), but it makes me acknowledge the power of focus.  Just like losing the weight (yes, I did make lifetime with WW), I have to remember that focus and commitment every day is necessary, but it's hard to see progress in the moment.  I also have set myself up for success going forward during this month.  That feels great, too.

Goals for March:
-Use grocery food more efficiently to reduce food waste and cost.
-Plan meals and cook at home unless socializing with another person (personal food purchases outside the home only from set cash allowance).
-No purchases of clothing/shoes for this month.  (I have developed a small addiction to shopping websites and stores... don't need that in my life right now... commence re-addiction to reading, a free source of entertainment)

These are totally achievable for me AND will help with my health!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

WW Update--A year and a baby later!

I rejoined WW this week (you can read about my joining last summer here).  I had lost about 7 lbs when I found out I was pregnant with H.  I gained only about 18 lbs from there during pregnancy (checked into the hospital at 223--with J I was 240 at hospital time).

Well, six weeks postpartum, having really been attuned to my health during pregnancy since I had the dreaded gestational diabetes, I am 17.4 lbs down from where I was when I joined last year.  What an awesome boost to keep going!  I haven't been this low a weight since right before I was pregnant with J more than 4 years ago.

My healthy inspiration/motivation

The scare with diabetes has really kicked my motivational butt.  I don't want to deal with the health issues my dad had during his last years because he had not managed his type II well.  I don't want my kids to worry about me.  I want to be active and healthy like I used to be.  My ulcerative colitis is under control, so I really have no more excuses not to focus on really being HEALTHY.

A note about WW--they kept all my info and recipes on file, so it has been really easy to just pick right up where I left off.  And they are currently doing a "be happy" promotion focused on bringing positive emotions to your weight loss journey.  I am really glad I chose this program for support.  It is exactly what I need right now.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Going from one child to two... some emotional observations after six weeks.

I have been a mom of two for a little more than six weeks now.  It has been an adjustment for our family, but for me, it has been a deeply satisfying and alarmingly positive one. I had read a lot of stories about how much harder it was to have a second child and was afraid that expanding our family would leave me with lots of unanticipated negative feelings.  It hasn't.  I'm sure that my daughter's easygoing infant personality and temperament are a major factor (she goes 6-7 hour stretches at night between nursings most nights; my son wasn't going that long until at least 8 or 9 months and still waking twice a night to feed at 18 months).  I love me some sleep.  But it is more than that.

Here are some reflections after six weeks of going from three people to four (and mothering a daughter, specifically):
  • I fell back in love with my husband.  I think I did this after J was born, but we were too sleep deprived to enjoy it and fought over stupid stuff for those first six months.  With my daughter, it is an even more powerful feeling.  I don't think I've ever been more appreciative of what Min Gi brings to our family--energy, enthusiasm, discipline in the areas I lack them and relaxed adventurousness in the areas I am disciplined.  Our children are growing up in a rich, loving, healthy, learning environment in large part due to his efforts as a full-time Dad.  I continue to be amazed by how much I love him and how glad I am he is my family.
  • The emotional highs I get from witnessing the positive interactions of my son and daughter were a completely unexpected delight.  After the high highs of parenting I learned after having my son, I thought that was it.  I was wrong--so wonderfully wrong.  Nothing sweeter than listening to J "teach" H how to throw a ball or read her one of his books.  The feeling is just incomparable.
  • There is a settled completeness with two children I never felt with just J.  I don't know how to explain this well, but here is my attempt:  With J, Min Gi, and I, our family felt like a couple with a kid.  What I mean by this is that I felt like a parent, but that my world "shouldn't" be absorbed with children.  I didn't think it was good for J to think that he was our entire world or for our marriage to only be centered around our role as parents, but I didn't have time or energy to pursue many outside hobbies, so I mostly just thought I was always doing a bad job.  I was too focused on our son or I was too focused on selfish pursuits.  With a second child, I now have "children," and it seems more ok to pull back from adult things to focus on our family.  Even though I could have let go of this "should" while I had J (and should have--ha!  Now I'm "should"ing myself!), I didn't.  It is easier with two.  I feel more balance, more complete in my family life.  And, ironically, it frees up all that time I used to spend "worrying" to actually pursue my reading and writing and have meaningful adult conversations with my husband... So...
  • It hurts more than I can ever explain to know that H and my dad will never know each other.  I cannot fix this except by sharing my stories of him with my children.  And I do.  I do...
  • The perspective I have as a mom is much more sane the second time around.  Sleeplessness?  Baby acne?  Can't hold up her head?  Difficult latch?  This, too, shall pass.  So much easier knowing that on an emotional level, not just an intellectual one.  It's actually making it easier to weather J's difficult stages because parenting him for the last three years taught me that about parenting H.  By logical extension...
  • Having a daughter is both different and the same.  It is different because I have found myself recommitting to my feminist ideals for an entirely new reason--I need her to have a world in which she is valued for who she is as a whole person.  I find comments about her "girl" status and J's "boy" status to grate more than they used to.  
  • On the other hand, parenting a daughter is the same as parenting a son for the most part.  People are individuals; so are infants and children.  We can ascribe our societal gendered notions on them if we like, but H acts no more like a "girl" and J no more like a "boy" than the portions of their personalities so far that intersect with our preconceived notions.  J likes trains, but he is also emotionally sensitive.  H has long, pretty hair for an infant, but she also makes wicked poop faces.  They are who they are.  I don't really see aspects of their personalities coming from their gender.
And that's all I have time for right now.

I'm loving this time.  I feel healthy and balanced, even with emotional highs and lows.  More when I can...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mom, Round Two

I have not blogged in a long time.  I let my domain lapse, so a lot of former readers probably won't even be able to find this piece anymore.  With the loss of my father, it has been a particularly difficult year for my family.  I am pregnant, due in less than 3 weeks (May 3), though I think she will probably come sooner given all the pre-labor I'm experiencing.  I'm writing because transitional times like these make me reflective.  I have this lovely little space to reflect in, though sadly neglected, so here we are.  Hello.

This has been a much more challenging pregnancy than J's from a health perspective.  I've had gestational diabetes since the first trimester (I do miss carbohydrates...).  I had a bleeding scare in second trimester.  And now I've been having early, intense contractions.  Thankfully, through it all, the baby has been healthy and though challenged to the point that this is definitely the last member of our family to join us this way, I am doing alright.  I had to give up the second job (which was a challenge financially and mentally, since I enjoy the work I do on crisis hotlines), but all is going well and we are ready to become four.  Meeting my daughter is mostly what I think about these days.  Especially when having contractions.

J is now almost three and half and such a delight, although we are seeing evidence that he might be just as frustratingly stubborn and independent as his parents.  Min Gi and J traveled to Korea for the month of March and his growth in Korean from that trip was pretty remarkable.  He now speaks very comfortably in both languages and switches more naturally when speaking to Min Gi or to me.  We are now beginning the rounds of soccer and swimming lessons and some preschool for next year (although Min Gi continues his excellence as a full time dad and expert household operator).  He loves books (especially about trains and construction sites) and slides and other children.  He rides his bike with the training wheels and chases birds in the park.  He tells me about all the things he will do for his sister (feed her milk, help her build train tracks, teach her to drive--I don't know about that last one).

I am trying to plan for a peaceful, but enjoyably occupied with much family time, summer.  Next school year I will face two major challenges--a new teaching prep that I am very unprepared to tackle and the final course of my administrative certification: an intensive internship.  All while being a working mom of two, not just one.

This year, immersed in grief and occupied by health concerns associated with pregnancy, I have allowed some habits to set in that run counter to my true goals and values.  I have been trying to get back in touch with my true loves--with my family, with literature, with my health.  It is going well.  I will continue to focus on aligning my habits with my goals--realistically, that is the only way to accomplish the goals I want.  Continuing on after the newborn crazy haze of the first 6-8 weeks, I hope I can get back into using the blog as a way to focus and shape my efforts in these areas.

I suppose you'll see if this happens!


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