Friday, January 20, 2012

Habits and Laughter and Making Laughter a Habit

It takes me a while to establish new habits and to make them stick. I've been a mother of two for four months. Doing Weight Watchers for three months. Back at work part-time for two months. Running almost every day for just over a month. Life has gotten busier and busier and it's about to get worse. Next week I go back to work full-time. A week after that I start school again. I have more and more commitments and less and less time to myself, and none of this stuff can be scaled back. I know it's silly to hope for more hours in the day, but just the same, I'm hoping that or some other magical solution will present itself because I'm exhausted just thinking about it all. 

With all that has been going on, I haven't made it to a Weight Watchers meeting in weeks. I'm sort of "between" meetings - the one I like is now out of the way and at a weird time, and I've yet to make it to the one two blocks from my office. I have been getting there to weigh in though, and I'm happy to report that this week I lost 1.2 pounds, for a total of 20 pounds since I started the week of October 19. 

I am in week 7 of my Couch to 5k. It's meant to be an 8 week program, so I'm almost done. My average distance now is just shy of 2.5 miles and by the time the workouts end I should be running 3.1 miles, or 5k, without stopping. I run very slowly: right now I run a 12 minute mile at best. And because this stretch of the workout program focuses on increasing distance, every workout is now considerably harder than the last. So I'm taking my time. I've been repeating the workouts and I don't really care if it takes me six months to complete the rest as long as I get there eventually. I am slowly learning to like running and I don't want to ruin that for myself. That is the biggest change I've noticed so far. I still do have to talk myself into going, but I am almost always successful.

The truth is that running is boring and tedious. There, I said it. But here are all the things I like about what I am doing:

It's a half hour (soon to be 45 minutes) all to myself
I can listen to loud music and sing along like an idiot
I can watch a video or TV show on my iPhone
I can run outside (more interesting but slower) or inside (no view, but more strenuous because I have to stick to the pace I set on the treadmill) so I have options
I can think about anything I want
I can think about nothing if I want
I get to wear my new running gear that I bought from lululemon
I get to wear my old running gear that fits better every week
I am losing weight
I am getting stronger
I am helping my heart
I am helping my body
I am increasing my energy
I am decreasing my stress level
I feel good that I am accomplishing something!
I can now run for a bus or jog up a few flights of stairs without feeling winded or in pain 

So, boring and tedious though it might be, you just can't compete with all that stuff. For the first time, the scales are tipped and there's no question that I win. I am in for the long haul. 

Another thing that has changed is my appetite. I do actually feel sated now when I stop to think about it. I just have to get myself to stop eating to notice it. I've always been a fast eater and can put away multiple portions without even realizing I'm not hungry anymore. I am not proud of this! It's embarrassing to be the one whose plate is always clear first, who eats the most, who lingers near the food or is the first to say she'll order dessert if you do. And it can be disastrous when I'm not paying attention. It's not that I ignore my body's signals but rather I eat so much and so fast that my body doesn't have a chance to signal me until I'm stuffed and feeling gross. But yesterday I had a sandwich with a friend. She was only on her third bite by the time I'd finished my entire meal. As usual, I was embarrassed and I hoped she wouldn't notice. To make myself feel better, in my head I thought up a million ways to justify having finished first. It went like this: I just went running so I'm especially hungry. Mine was smaller than hers! I am still nursing so I need to eat more! She was talking more and I was listening so of course I ate faster. Lame, I know. As I was thinking all of this nonsense, I was still hungry and felt like I could eat two more sandwiches but when she looked at my empty plate, apologized that it was taking her forreevveerrrr to eat and asked if I wanted anything else, I was mortified. I said no no, of course not. But privately I was sure I was going to leave her and head for the nearest bagel shop. However, once I slowed my brain down, I was fine. I made myself wait and five minutes after we left the sandwich shop I wasn't thinking about food anymore. I was not full to bursting, but I wasn't hungry. I successfully distracted myself, and I made it all the way until dinner without even snacking. 

Suddenly, nearly everything fits me again. I am starting to look like the person I used to know when I look in the mirror. Yet I am still 24 pounds from my goal weight. I know I'm heavy in places that are easy to hide: My belly, waist and hips are still all two-baby mush. My work is far from done. But now that I can wear my old stuff again, it's going to be harder to get there. I was highly motivated when my jeans didn't make it all the way up my thighs. Now that they fit, I'm following all the advice I keep hearing. The weight loss and fitness experts all agree: Go public with your goals so you can hold yourself accountable more easily. So thank you, blog, for allowing me to say here in the privacy of my own home that I'm still fat.

In other news, I am still a mother of two under two. I was complaining to a friend recently about having no time to blog and that every day they're doing something new. She told me not to feel obligated to chronicle every new word, every little thing they do. She said, they won't care! She's right. I know I don't have to and that it might not matter to them later in life, or ever. But I am a chronicler, a journaler, a writer-down of things both useful and useless. My blog is my memory. It helps me work through problems and get things off my chest. When I need to write, I will find a way. Once I've committed something to paper or typed it up, I can (and do) forget about it and make room in my brain for other things. So I make time.

I won't be a mother of two under two for much longer. Thora's turning two in a few weeks. She's still not getting a party. I am putting that off for as long as I can. But I am a celebrater of birthdays and holidays, so I've invited some friends over to hang out with us, eat treats and catch up. No cake, no costumes, no character patterned napkins or streamers, no presents. Just friends and their kids and good food. I like having friends over and I like my friends' kids. I like little get togethers. I like doing special things for special occasions. I'm not going all-out creative and there will be no theme and I'm not slaving over a hot stove for days like I may have done pre-kids. But bagels, cookies, and vegan pastries; some good iTunes playlists; busy projects for the little ones; and the wonderful company of my dear friends I don't see nearly enough will be the best way to celebrate one of my most favorite people and one of the most important days of my life. Even if she doesn't appreciate it herself. I don't care, this is for me!

This week I put Thora's hair in a ponytail for the first time. Her curls reach her shoulders now, and with them swept up away from her face, she looked so oddly grown up. She is still such a baby in some ways, and such a mature little girl in others. Too little to keep up with a new friend who is three, she's also way ahead of her sister, who at 4 months is still no fun for her at all. Jealous that Freyja has toys and playthings of her own, Thora has never so badly wanted to sit in a Bumbo, chew on a Sophie, or bounce in a Jumperoo as she does now that Freyja can. She struggles to make herself understood: her vocabulary is far wider than her pronunciation allows her to express clearly. The other day she came into the kitchen to get my attention and said "muh-min." I looked at her blankly. "Muh-min!" I thought she was asking for a muffin. There were none left and I told her so. She shook her head. "Muh-min!" She was insistent. "Muh-min!" I asked her to show me. She pointed frantically, but at nothing I could identify. It took me far too long to figure out that she was asking me to make her a pumpkin out of the orange and black Play-dohs on the counter like I had a week or so earlier. Pumpkin. I was relieved, she was exhausted. But we made pumpkins and she was happy.

And have I mentioned how much I am starting to hate my pinkies? Thora has developed a "twiddling" problem. She sucks on my pinky instead of a pacifier, thumb, or nipple, and now she worries at my hand with her fingers. This is entirely too much touch for me, so it has to stop. I've started trying to distract her as often as I can. Operation No More Oh That is in full effect.

For some odd reason, she calls pinkying oh that. Yes, really. "Oh that," she'll say, and reach for my hand. "You don't need that now, Bea," I'll tell her. "Let's read a book instead." Or "No, Bea, Mama's using her hands now." Or, "Hey Bea, let's do markers instead." Happily, most of the time this works now. I don't push her when she's tired and approaching nap or bed time, or when I'm nursing Freyja. I don't push her when she's clearly distressed about something or when she insists. But this has cut down on about 75% of the pinkying and I've even gotten her to bed a few times without any pinkying at all, so I'm calling it a preliminary victory and the rest will take some time. As a former thumb sucker, I know that sucking provides a calming and organizing effect and that no amount of "get your finger out of your mouth!" made me want to stop, so the other 25% will come eventually when she's ready or when I just can't take it anymore.

A couple weeks back, Freyja went through a brief period of gassiness or other random discomfort, during which she was exceptionally unhappy. This meant a pretty unhappy mama, daddy and sister. It didn't help that this phase, which lasted about ten days and consisted of a lot of screaming and crying coupled with little napping, came at the same time her stay-at-home-daddy had back surgery. She refused to be happy unless she was being held, and Johnny was under doctor's orders not to hold her. There was a stand-off; the baby won, of course.

She's better now. She's a very happy baby, full of big smiles and giggles and gurgles. Once we figured out her subtle signs of sleepiness and hunger, we are now able to prevent the even the most basic of meltdowns. Johnny can put her down for a nap still awake and she drifts off on her own. She goes to bed around 7, the same time as Thora. This is magical when Johnny and I are both home and very difficult when one of us is out. Once she's down, she sleeps 12 hours or more, only half-waking to nurse and then falling right back to sleep. At just shy of four months, she sleeps better than her big sister usually does. She's still pretty teeny, so we focus on feeding and growing her. She's also rolling over, grabbing, and best of all, laughing. There is no better sound in the world than your child's laughter. When they're laughing, the world stands still and my heart swells. Nothing makes me as happy. So I'm making it a habit to stop and laugh with them as often as I can. I love my job so much, but thirty years from now I won't want to remember all the work I did. Thirty years from now I won't care about my weight loss, about school, about most of the things I do all day. I will want to remember my girls smiling and laughing and being sisters, like this:

This is the first Thora laugh we captured on video:

And this is Freyja's. They are exactly the same age in these videos (never mind that Thora is like 50 times bigger than little Teeny).

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. There were so many things I related to, but I think this hit home the most:

    "She struggles to make herself understood: her vocabulary is far wider than her pronunciation allows her to express clearly... I was relieved, she was exhausted. But we made pumpkins and she was happy."

    This is one of the hardest parts of this age. They have so much to say and they're trying so hard to say it and sometimes it JUST DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. Then you're irritated and they're frustrated, but when you figure it out? It's like the clouds part and the sun shines down and all is right with the world again :)

    I think it's especially hard b/c their little brains work in such funny, random ways. They remember these little things like the pumpkin you made her a full week earlier and in the current moment, totally without context (at least, to you), she asks for it again and you're just... lost.

    Those are the most frustrating moments, but also the most rewarding :)


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