Browsing Category

Health

25571733392_a4b4ea571c_k
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.

header
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.

20160905_202812000_ios
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.

20160510_220939589_iOS
Challenge, Health, Life, These days

These Days: Embracing the Mundane

(This post is going to be kind of all over the place, sort of like my brain right now.)

It’s time for a little update from the trenches – I want to share what’s helping me in case it could help someone else. I’m finally sleeping better after I started taking contrast showers again (basically switching between warm and cold water, ending on cold) and decreasing my evening liquid consumption (this really should have occurred to me sooner, but I never claimed I was very bright). JK and Nora dragged me out on a couple of walks last week, and this week I promised myself I would go for at least one every day. Crying a little bit less. Still eating way too much chocolate, because it’s really hard to not treat myself when I feel like this.

Yesterday a friend encouraged me to look closely at all the different thought processes in my head right now, all the little negative, ruminating thoughts that are causing all sorts of anxiety and general malaise. I wrote them all down, all those ugly thoughts, and it was incredibly helpful to see them listed out like that. It let me see those thoughts a bit more objectively, and come up with some concrete steps I can take that might help counteract and disprove them. Even just feeling that I have a plan has made me feel a little more confident and…more positively inclined again.

And while I can clearly see that it’s worrisome that I’ve seemingly totally lost interest in my favorite hobby, hiking (but one part of my action plan is to force myself to go out on a real hike anyway and just see what happens), the good news is that I’m still able to notice and appreciate happy little moments throughout my days. This means I haven’t quite hit full-blown depression yet, which should give me a healthy chance of getting out of this hole reasonably quickly. I’ve talked about this before, how important it is to fully take in all those little beautiful little parts of your life, and I am fully embracing that now (and hoping to crowd out those negative thoughts in the process).

This quote really resonated with me, and I think it’ll be a good one to keep in mind in the upcoming years of domesticity when our life might feel a little small but will actually be pretty damn big.

In the name of economy, of time or capital, we have outsourced to others those key activities that define the day-to-day. Don’t want to make lunch? Buy a Lunchable. Don’t want to help your kids with algebra? Hire a tutor. But what is life if not the day-to-day? Sunsets in Nicaragua and family vacations in the Canadian Rockies are spectacular, but if that’s what we’re waiting around for, what is the point of a Wednesday evening? The tasks we have decided to label mundane – as tasks! – are that which accumulate into relationships and memories. Cooking dinner or helping your kids with homework.

Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble

In the spirit of all of this, here are some things I’m loving right now:

Nora is not a fan of napping, even when she’s in desperate need of one, but lately I’ve been able to bribe her into taking naps by promising her that she can eat a baked potato when she wakes up. She used to not even like potatoes, which made me worry that there was some sort of mixup at the hospital since this simply could not be my child, but now she loves them to the point where she’ll take a glorious 1.5 hour nap and wake up super happy, yelling “BAKED POTATOOOO” the second I walk in the door to get her. Loving this while it lasts.

Summer 2016 Summer 2016

Mrs. Meyer’s Geranium cleaning products. This has been my favorite late summer/early autumn scent since I discovered them in 2009, and it gives me happy little flashbacks from seasons of yore. It makes doing the dishes feel downright delightful.

Summer 2016 Summer 2016

Evenings on the deck, especially now that we’ve lined it with mosquito-repelling plants and herbs. And Nora loves eating said herbs throughout the day, which is good, because they’re basically greens, right?

Summer 2016 Summer 2016

The way the Powerline Trail smells like ripe blackberries right now.

My early autumn tunes. Every year around this time, I obsessively listen to The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond and the Ride the Divide soundtrack, but currently I’m also playing the new Head and the Heart and Bastille singles on repeat.

Summer 2016 Summer 2016
Summer 2016 Summer 2016
Summer 2016 Summer 2016

Cooking! I’ve been trying out a bunch of new recipes lately (JK and Nora were both big fans of Oh She Glows‘ African Peanut Stew), but this time of year I always come back to Daily Garnish’s Blackened Tofu and, my favorite, homemade pasta sauce. We planted our garden late this year so we don’t have any tomatoes yet, but at the Saturday market in our town, you can usually buy big bags of cosmetically challenged ‘maters that are perfect for sauces. I also just bought Vegan Bowl Attack and everything in it looks so amazing that I’m thinking of testing two recipes a week from it as a project for a little while. Thankfully Nora is really good at playing independently while I cook, either playing with her Duplo excavator and Peppa Pig figures or drawing on the little blackboard we have in the kitchen, so I can usually find time to make fuds during the day.

Summer 2016 Summer 2016 Summer 2016 Summer 2016

Going to the market as a family outing every Saturday, loading up on juicy donut peaches and fresh flowers. Sometimes there’s live music and Nora gets to show off her dance moves. If I ask Nora “It’s Saturday, what should we do today?” she’ll say (in Norwegian) “The market! Nora in the wagon! Buy peaches tomatoes flowers! Pappa and Nora eat PIZZAAA!” and like all parents before me, I’m amazed by the fact that my baby is now a walking, talking human. She’s talking so much, stringing longer and longer sentences together every day…but my favorite words are still the ones she mispronounces, like “zimmie!” (smoothie) and “wassermomo” (watermelon).

My Born Wild mug.

Summer 2016 Summer 2016

My new planner from inkWELL Press. I totally don’t need a planner since I’m a stay-at-home-mom (emphasis on the stay-at-home), but I’m finding it really helpful for keeping track of all my little goals and for jotting down random rambly thoughts and cute things Nora says. (Plus it’s just really pretty.)

Summer 2016 Summer 2016

The way Nora climbs on top of me, melts into my body in the perfect cuddle, and asks me to sing to her. I don’t even mind singing the same song (she usually requests a Norwegian Christmas song) six times in a row, because it’s just snuggle perfection.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Nuff said.

Summer 2016 Summer 2016

Baby movement! So much! An almost worrisome amount compared to last time, which makes me think that Little Sis won’t be a chillaxed late walker like her Big Sis.

Summer 2016 Summer 2016

9045510029_04e80c4c5d_k
Challenge, Health, Life, Pregnancy

Missing Mojo

I’ve been having a hard time getting back into the swing of things. Mostly because the trio of regular insomnia, pregnancy insomnia (damnit, bladder!), and jetlag have ganged up on me to make me feel utterly exhausted in a way I haven’t felt since the newborn days. But I also just really got out of the groove this spring when morning sickness hit. We were in such a good place back then, I was so energetic and Nora and I had an awesome routine and lots of fun together…and then suddenly I started puking 20-30 times a day and we had to get Nora into part-time daycare because I couldn’t even take care of myself, let alone a toddler.

Now I’m not puking anymore, but I’m left feeling totally wiped and unmotivated. I can’t tell if pregnancy is kicking my ass way harder this time around or if I just need to get a grip and start taking better care of myself again. At 23 weeks with Nora I felt amazing and was still trail running! Now I can barely get out the door for a walk on the Powerline Trail a couple times a week. The hikes we’ve tried to go on since returning home have been foiled for various reasons…but the truly worrying thing is that *insert horrified emoji face* I kind of don’t even want to go hiking right now. And if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you probably know what a lack of movement does for my mental state.

So yeah, I’m stuck in a vicious cycle and I want to get out of it. I feel no need to be running up summits right now, I’m actually very content with our quiet little life here in town, but I just want to have the energy to start enjoying all the little things again. This will likely be my last pregnancy, because there’s just no way I can be that sick again with two kids to take care of, and I want to savor the experience instead of spending each day counting down the hours until I can go back to bed. I’m descending into the dreaded dumps, and it’s important that I nip this in the bud before it spirals into something more sinister, especially given the huge life change we’re about to have.

I’ve done this before, I’ve climbed out, and I know what helps at this stage. I need to:

(a) exercise, outside
(b) set tiny little achievable goals
(c) notice and appreciate the little things/live in the moment/be here now etc etc
(d) eat like I give a damn
(e) try to not feel guilty about the 5,736 things I’m feeling guilty about

Another thing that might sound weird but totally helps for me is to blog more. I think it’s because I tend to become even more of a hermit than usual during times like these, and writing a blog is a tiny little lifeline that keeps me connected to others, even if it’s just via the internets. So I will do that too.

These all sound pretty obvious and straightforward, but anyone who has ever dealt with depression knows that something as simple as walking the dog can turn into a Herculean task. This isn’t going to be easy, but that’s the way life goes.