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Challenge, Health, Nutritarian

Setting goals

I’m trying to get back into posting regularly because now, thanks to me sleeping a little better (let the huzzahs be heard around the world!) and Lily being a total dream baby who has given herself a 6-7 PM bedtime most days, I totally have time to write here. Except I usually end up watching TV instead.

Mentally, I’m doing so much better! Getting more sleep (unfortunately it’s thanks to Unisom, but I hope to be able to wean off it soon) has removed all signs of depression. Sleep, man. It’s so important. Still, I know how important running, hiking, and goal setting is to my mental health, so I went ahead and signed up for the Sun Mountain 25K in May!

While I feel no shame in talking (at length, over and over and over) about my struggle with depression – it’s something so many of us go through and I don’t think we should feel ashamed of that – I’ve felt too awkward to write much about weightloss here before. It seems like such an embarrassing thing to go into, but whatever. It’s on my mind right now and it’s important for my health, so here goes.

35 Weeks

After my first pregnancy, I didn’t care about losing weight at all. I had lost weight during the pregnancy anyway, thanks to getting gestational diabetes and having to really clean up my diet, and I was too overwhelmed by the huge life change to even think about nixing the chocolate. But I gained twice as much during pregnancy this time, and our life just feels…normal again already. So I want my body to feel back to normal too. Having lost a bunch of weight just prior to pregnancy, I now know just how much better I felt without those extra pounds on me. Running was so much easier, hiking uphill was so much easier. More importantly, my everyday life was affected as well – I have never had more energy in my life than I did in the final weeks before morning sickness hit. I am now one of those “I want to lose weight so I can keep up with my kids”-people.

Paradise
(Oh heeey, look at me finally fitting into the way-too-small-but-I-thought-they-would-fit-soon hiking pants I bought in 2010 which was SEVEN YEARS AGO.)

I’ve been a vegetarian since 2004 (after handling a skinless human leg in anatomy class and realizing that human muscle looks and feels exactly like pork tenderloin), but obviously not a very healthy one. There was a lot of pizza involved. And chocolate. And potato chips. And chocolate chip cookies. Over the years, I’ve eaten healthier and healthier, especially once I got over the newborn stage last time and I realized that I had to start taking care of my health. The gestational diabetes diagnosis was a real wake-up call, since it means I have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There’s just no way I am going to do that to myself.

I eventually got to the point where almost all my actual meals were stellar, but then I went and snacked on, like, literally thousands of calories’ worth of chocolate on top of that. Since we finally stopped eating chocolate (and using oil to cook with) at the beginning of February, I’ve consistently lost around .5 lbs a day, which currently puts me at 4 lbs above my prepregnancy weight. (It’s been coming off so quickly that I’m a little worried that it’s eventually going to affect my milk supply, so I think I’m going to add even more nuts and avocado than I am already eating, just in case. I don’t need to be losing weight quite this fast, but it seems strange to add more food because I’m definitely not going hungry when I eat like this!) I’m sure some of the weightloss was water weight, but removing chocolate and oil are the only two changes we made to our diet, which should tell you how much chocolate we would eat. Ahem:

These Days
(Why yes, they did actually come home with that thing, and why yes, we did finish it in, like, three days. Insert horrified emoji here.)

Anyway, so this is what we’re eating now – we’re following nutritarian guidelines since that’s what I was doing when I felt so good last year, and we love it. In fact, I’ve entered the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study!

Every morning we all (except for Lily, because, in Nora’s words, “Lily only drinks milk! Lily drinks milk ALL THE TIME.”) eat an oatmeal bowl with blueberries, strawberries, banana, cinnamon, walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds (for a quadruple ALA-punch). Neither of us used to be oatmeal fans, but now we really look forward to that warm bowl in the morning. Taste buds really do adjust, even when you’re old and gray like us.

These Days Food

For lunch, I like to eat a gigantic salad (served in a full-sized serving bowl) topped with roasted vegetables and beans or whatever random dinner leftovers I have from the night before. My favorite dressing is the enchilada sauce from Veganomicon (minus the salt, sugar, and oil). I also add shredded red cabbage and some raw onion to heed Dr. Fuhrman’s words of wisdom, plus some pumpkin seeds or avocado.

Nora obviously doesn’t eat a giant salad for lunch, so she’ll either have leftovers from the night before, or whole grain bread with hummus or nut butter, or a tamale with beans, salsa, and avocado. Or roasted chickpeas, which is her most favorite thing ever.

Fud Autumn 2016

As for dinner, we’ve been making our current favorite meals over and over and over and somehow we’re not sick of them yet. These include:

  • Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup (Nora had three bowls of this for dinner the other night)
  • Soul-Soothing African Peanut Stew from the first Oh She Glows book (I put tons of frozen spinach or kale in these soups, which is a great way to get greens into a toddler)
  • These Days Food

  • We’ve only had this once so far but it’s definitely going into our rotation: Hunky Heartbeet Cabbage Soup from, you guessed it, Oh She Glows! That girl knows her soups. I topped it with pistachios and shaved raw brussels sprouts, and it was extremely comforting on a cold day. A new favorite, even though it made Nora look like a teeny tiny vampire.
  • Fud Fud

  • polenta pizza piled sky-high with roasted vegetables and walnuts, served with arugula and tomato sauce with a bunch of kale cooked in (this has become our new savory comfort food)
  • Food Food

  • tacos with spicy beans, salsa, shredded red cabbage, sauteed onions and peppers and guacamole (JK makes excellent corn tortillas)
  • These Days Food

  • lentil/pecan cabbage rolls from Vegan Bowl Attack, served with the same kale tomato sauce we use for the polenta plus some shredded raw cabbage on top
  • Food Autumn 2016

To avoid the worst of the withdrawals when we quit the ol’ chocolate cold turkey, I used dates as a sort of methadone. I can’t sleep in the morning anyway, so I like to sneak out of bed while everyone else is still sleeping and snuggle with Wellie on the couch while drinking a cup of coffee, checking the internets, and eating a date. It totally satisfies my sweets-with-coffee craving. The harder thing is when I have a bad day and immediately start thinking ‘I deserve to treat myself, damnit’. That’s usually my downfall.

Now the problem is how do I reintroduce chocolate again as a very occasional treat without going overboard? I did manage to do it last spring and maintained a once-in-a-very-long-while relationship with chocolate until morning sickness hit, so I know it’s possible, even for me. I’m definitely going to reintroduce it in some way at some point, because the second words like ‘forever’ or ‘never’ get thrown around, I immediately turn into a petulant child who may as well start liquefying chocolate in order to receive a constant intravenous flow.

Sun Mountain 2012
(Photo from Sun Mountain the year JK ran it. Look! Pretty! *pictures self running through the wildflowers*)

Speaking of things that feel somewhat awkward to write about, but apparently a lot of women struggle with, so what the hell, I’ll say it – I have a bladder prolapse. I think a coughing fit I had the day after giving birth did a number on my pelvic floor, and now my bladder has migrated to where it shouldn’t be (as if it wasn’t bad enough that one of those coughing fits broke my water).

Of course I freaked out when I found out, imagining a future of never getting to run again (or even just not getting to run this winter/spring, which is the basis of my mental health plan during the postpartum period), but luckily my physical therapist is a fellow “mental health runner” who is very understanding. She says I can run again after another couple of weeks or so of training my pelvic floor muscles, and I can hike in the meantime! I had grand plans of taking advantage of JK’s long, luxurious parental leave to go on, well, long, luxurious runs, but now I obviously can’t do that, which means I won’t have much time to train for Sun Mountain. That brings me back to food – right now, eating healthy and becoming lighter is the easiest way for me to help my future running.

Challenge, Hiking, Hiking with baby

Tiger Mountain Torture

Last week, I started getting that antsy feeling – a combo of needing to kick myself into gear now that we’ve fallen into a pretty pleasant routine as a family of four, and of definitely needing to escape the world of increasingly awful news stories coming at us every day. The solution, as always: trails!

First order of business, getting the girls both dressed up in the matching thermals they got from grandma and grandpa for Christmas. Massive cuteness.

Cable Line 01 Cable Line 01

Since I apparently wanted to go for maximum self-torture, I chose my old friend/nemesis, the Cable Line on Tiger Mountain. It works pretty well for our family since JK and the girls can dawdle around at the foot of the mountain while I climb to the top, so I think this will be my go-to gym this winter. On those extra special toddler days, I’m sure he’ll be working harder than I am, but luckily for me he knows how important this alone time on trail is for me (and subsequently for the whole family).

Cable Line 01

I guess calling the Cable Line a trail is pretty generous; it was as crappy and steep and muddy and eroded as ever, but man did I get a good workout. I reached the top in one of the biggest endorphin highs I have ever experienced to find that (a) it was snowing! and (b) I had made it up in 57 minutes, which is only 11 minutes slower than my PR. Not too shabby considering the past six months plus the fact that this was my first real postpartum hike with any significant elevation gain.

Cable Line 01 Cable Line 01

I kept the endorphin rush going on the way down the West Tiger 3 trail, listening to an excellent playlist and meeting several women adorned in pussy hats.

Cable Line 01

Back down at the bottom I found a happy JK, a Lily who was just waking up from her nap and was ready to eat (perfectly timed with my arrival so we didn’t have to use a bottle*), and a pooped Nora who wanted to ride “on the mamma pillow” the rest of the way back to the trailhead.

(And then I waddled around all happy but outrageously sore for the next two days.)

Cable Line 01 Cable Line 01

*Nora wouldn’t take a bottle so this is new, exciting territory for us. For those with experience in on-trail bottle-feeding, do you just serve it really cold or do you heat it somehow? I can’t really come up with a practical way to do so expect for carrying it close to your body.

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Baby, Challenge, Health, These days

These Days | New Year/New Baby Edition

We’ve been absolutely spoiled by having grandparents around through the holidays, but they left yesterday and now we’re on our own until September or so – eek! It’ll be nice to settle into our real life as a family of four, but we’re definitely feeling the absence of extra hands today since I am sick as a dog, again. I need to get my insomnia under control so I’ll have an immune system up and running before Nora starts daycare in a couple of months and inevitably brings home every virus under the sun.

These Days These Days

Anyway, both girls are miraculously napping at the same time right now – Nora only takes a nap once every fortnight or so, but we promised her a cup of hot cocoa if she slept, and by gawd it’s working #worldsokayestparents – so I’m going to attempt to blog. I expect I’ll finish this post in, oh, five days or so. Either that or it’ll be super hurried, random, and not proofread. But at least it’s something.

Christmas was a little different this year, given the aforementioned insomnia and the fact that I constantly feel as if I’m teetering on the brink of full-blown depression. Nora was totally into it though, so I’m already looking forward to next December when I can fully enjoy her infectious wonderment. Something that added to the magic this year was that we received several millimeters of snow, which is a Pacific Northwest miracle.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days

So, self-care: When I go through depressive periods, it usually centers around feelings of guilt about not being good enough, and those particular feelings are plentiful when one adds another baby to the family. Add many months of sleep deprivation to the mix, and it’s no wonder I’m up and down, up and down. But! This time around, I know that the sleepless baby period does in fact end, eventually. (However, my own pretty serious sleepless period has been going on since July, which does not seem like a phase – that terrifies me.) And Lils is six weeks(!) old now, so I assume I’ll be cleared to start running again next week at my checkup, which will add some much-needed endorphins to my body. Had I known we would be able to get pregnant so quickly this time, I would never have timed the birth and postpartum period to coincide with (a) the darkest, coldest, wettest, time of year and (b) cold and flu season…but I’m so, so glad we have Lily, and I know I’ll get through this like I always do.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days

I’ve also started cooking healthier meals again, which should make me feel better. And I’m trying, somewhat successfully, to stop mainlining chocolate.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days

Another good (excellent, marvelous, wonderful) thing is that Lils is a pretty damn chillaxed baby, at least compared to, ehm, our previous experience. She even does that whole “falling asleep drowsy but awake” thing sometimes, which I seriously thought was just a myth perpetuated by supposed sleep experts and smug parents. Huzzah! I really do wish I could combine the confidence that comes with baby number two with the freedom that comes with only having one kid – that would be a dream. Oh, and she started smiling on New Year’s Eve, which is pretty much the best thing ever. I can’t get enough.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days One Month
These Days These Days

Nora is taking her big sister duties seriously, as you can see, and is increasingly interested in Lily now that she’s getting more interactive. I’m so glad she seems to have handled this transition so well.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days

As for Wellie, he’s hanging in there even though the house is ruled by little women…he’s apparently already looking forward to Lily starting solids. Nora trained him well.

These Days These Days

Ehrmagerd, I managed to finish this just in time for Nora to wake up and demand her cocoa. Duty calls. Please send sleepy vibes my way and watch this space for more fragmented, not-at-all proofread, only-interesting-to-me-and-my-future-self blog posts in the future.

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Challenge, Health, Me, Nutritarian, Pregnancy, These days

These Days | Mojo Rising

About a month ago, everything suddenly got worse, but that was the motivation I needed to get serious about getting better. I briefly considered finding a therapist, but then I remembered that talk therapy has never really helped me before and that we would be better off investing that time in trail therapy instead. So now, a couple of times a week, JK drops me off at a local trail to literally run off some steam on a five-mile loop while he takes Nora out on a dinner date or to run errands.

They like to send me motivational photos from their adventures, which gives me a bit of FOMO but I know I need to be out there.

Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016
Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016

It’s been so, so helpful. And I feel so much better. I get to walk (and even run, when the ol’ pelvis and this bladder-hugging fetus allow) fast enough to get that endorphin rush that I just can’t achieve on my toddler-led walks. I get to zone out to a podcast or delve deep into my thoughts. I get to feel connected to the world again by observing the changing of the seasons. I even get biology lessons, like when I came across these two canoodling slugs and learned that they weren’t eating some sort of alien life form – that blue blob is a tangle of slug penises! Oh, nature.

Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016

In addition to my solo adventures, we’ve gone on more wonderful hikes as a family. We’ve stuck mostly to the lowlands to look for chanterelles, but this past weekend we made it out into the mountains again (that one deserves a separate post)! I’m so thankful that my SPD is much mellower this time around – it’s still not at all comfortable, but it only gets really cranky if I pull a dumbass move like getting up while putting all my weight on one leg. I’m going to give myself credit for this one and claim that it’s because I lost a fair amount of weight pre-pregnancy, so there’s just less weight on my joints this time around. No matter what the reason, it means that I can hike 2000 feet of steep elevation gain, something that would have been impossible in the third trimester last time around. (Also, OMG THIRD TRIMESTER ALREADY WHERE IS THE TIME GOING.)

Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016
Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016
Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016

I’ve also finally starting eating better, moving back to the Fuhrmanesque diet I ate this winter when I felt so good, with extra focus on cruciferous vegetables in hopes that I can get some of the antidepressant effects of sulforaphane. Bring on the cabbage!

Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016
Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016

(Cabbage Rolls from Vegan Bowl Attack | Homemade pasta sauce with vegetables, arugula, and red lentil penne from Tolerant Foods | Mushroom Gravy Tempeh from the Green Cuisine cookbook with mashed cauliflower/potatoes, broccoli, and cabbage | ginormous serving bowl salad using the enchilada sauce from Veganomicon as the dressing)

Oh, and I switched out the contrast showers for straight-up cold showers – Ray Cronise mentioned a study that showed a five-minute cold shower could be as effective as an antidepressant. I haven’t even bothered to look up that study, because I tend to just trust whatever Ray Cronise says. It seems to be helping me sleep a little better too, so there’s that.

It’s hard to pinpoint what’s working, but something definitely is, and it’s likely a mix of all these things (plus some work I’ve done to reframe my thoughts). I expect that things will keep going up and down, but that’s normal in life – I just need to keep working on preventing the downs from going too far or staying too long, especially in light of our ginormous upcoming life change.

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Challenge, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Pregnancy, Top Trips

I did it

I’ve been trying to identify just why hiking hasn’t seemed appealing to me this summer, and I think it all boils down to that thing with depression that makes even the tiniest bump in the road look like an absolutely massive hurdle. We have to pack our gear. Drive to a trailhead. Hope and pray to the mountain gods that we’ll actually be able to find parking, because all the easily accessible trails are so damn crowded these days. Potentially endure a very loud, public tantrum if the young hiker in our crew refuses to ride in the carrier. Risk another injury like last month when that young hiker tripped and faceplanted onto a rock, chipping several teeth and knocking her front tooth loose. So it’s all just a mess of depression-induced anxiety (over minuscule things that must seem completely ridiculous to those who have never experienced this sort of mental state before) that makes me want to just stay home instead, because it would be so much easier.

Mirror Lake

…Except that I know, I know so well, that I need this. Hiking is a huge part of my identity, and I don’t feel quite like myself without it. So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to just force myself out there. I needed to show myself that hey, traffic and crowds and loud car rides and toddler tantrums happen, and somehow life goes on.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

But actually, it was the perfect day in the mountains with my family. Nora amused herself the entire drive by reading books and calling her grandparents on her pretend phone, we pulled into the trailhead with lots of parking spots to spare, Nora was easily coaxed into the carrier with the help of bunny crackers, no one got hurt, and we spent a very, very long lunch break on the little beach by Mirror Lake. We swam, we found excellent sticks and several frogs, we munched on sooo many huckleberries, and Nora was convinced that the peaks above the lake were “man and woman hugging and singing Lava” from her favorite song.

Mirror Lake Mirror Lake

So this was what I spent an entire month avoiding. Harrumph.

Mirror Lake

Since I have now decided that it is fall (because I’m more than ready to see the ass end of this particular season). this ended up being our only mountain hike this summer. And I’m surprisingly okay with that. I’m sure we’ll get out on some autumn hikes, and I’m also sure that the mountains will still be there next year, when I will hopefully be feeling better and have the mental fortitude to adventure with two tiny humans. Gulp.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake