Redefining Health

Hi guys! Long time no talk… er write.

I’ve been MIA because I’ve been busy well… living.

I’ve been known to go off the grid. I’ll “lose” my phone or let it die (and not charge it). And when it’s not lost or dead I’ll have half a dozen text messages that were semi constructed during the red lights I hit during my commute home. And by lights I mean just the one light. I live less than a mile away from work, so I don’t have enough red lights to finish my texts. They tend to be forgotten the moment the light turns green.

I’m one of those.

It’s really annoying for most people in the age of instant gratification.

But for the most part I’ve been busy with work and hanging out with my family. I’ve been rearranging my priorities. I’ve been giving myself head space, taking long walks and pondering life and how I want to live it. You know, the usual.

I haven’t written quite as much lately because I haven’t needed to. I’ve been getting my creative outlet through teaching. I spend a lot of my creative energy manipulating the education system in a way that allows me trick kids into enjoying school. This is actually pretty funny because in my latter high school years I spent the majority of my creative energy manipulating the education system by skipping school.

I was a master I tell ya. I mean, I literally walked through the front door, waved to the office ladies on my way out, and made my way to my car which was parked in one of the temporary parking spots at the front of the school. So cheeky! I know.

The past couple of weeks I’ve also been busy redefining what health means to me. My perspective has changed quite a bit since my surgery. Right before spring break I was feeling particularly weak and unhealthy. I stumbled upon a Pinterest article on how to use social media to motivate you to live a healthy lifestyle. Mostly it consisted of women dedicated to attaining the perfect body.

When I first saw the before and after pictures I was super impressed. I followed them on Instagram and then slowly as I watched them pop up on my feed I began to notice what was really going on. Hidden behind their inspirational quotes about not giving up was a lot of loathing and self doubt. It seemed to me that the “Don’t Quit” theme started to warp itself into, “Don’t quit picking out the parts of you that you hate… because there is always something that needs to be improved!”

What started out as a motto of belief in oneself turned into a motto of “You’ll never be good enough”.

I soon discovered that these women were just using social media to scrutinize themselves. You could tell that they were relishing in the attention they gained from their success and were feeling the pressure from it. Through this they were beginning to lose sight of what it means to be healthy, constantly comparing themselves to these unrealistic standards.

Being a middle school teacher I can spot this type of desperation a mile away. These grown women were doing the very thing I try to encourage my daughter and all of my students NOT to do.

Instead of finding freedom in their newfound health they were chaining themselves to an unending torrent of selfies in which they judge themselves. I’m talking ab selfies, butt selfies, arm selfies, boob selfies, stretch mark selfies, food selfies… It’s never ending.

It made me wonder if that is what I had been doing all along and maybe that was why I was losing interest in my blogging journey. I mean, I’m not a huge selfie fan but look at the title of this blog. “Too Hottie For That Body” what does that even mean?

I’ve been thinking about my own journey and all of the self-deprication I’ve dished out to myself. I would make healthy choices in order to lose weight, end up feeling really good about myself regardless of whether I lost weight or not. But I would ignore how great I felt because I felt obligated to focus on the superficial end result. At one point I did it for you. I felt like I needed to apologize for being happy with myself the way that I was.

By putting my journey out there I felt like people were waiting for me to succeed and by succeed I mean posting a final AFTER picture of myself in a bikini.

With this vision in mind I would calculate how long it would take me to reach a certain number. I would come up with these restrictions that I felt needed to happen in order to obtain my goal. I would implement these restrictions, get pissed off by the restrictiveness of it all and then rebel against it.

I don’t think that’s healthy.

Maybe I was rebelling against all of these restrictions because deep down I knew it was shallow and unfulfilling.

I hate to break it to you but I kind of doubt I’ll ever post that bikini picture. Not because it can’t be done, but because even if I did get to that level of fitness I wouldn’t need your validation on it. I don’t have anything to prove. In fact, I like my imperfect bathing beauty look just fine…

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When I was in 8th grade I remember being in the locker room with a bunch of girls. Somehow we all started talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I thought about it long and hard. When it was my turn I said that I wanted to be happy. Everyone thought I was a weirdo, but it didn’t matter because that was truly what I wanted.

Over the past few months after my injury I’ve been thinking about that more and more. What does it take to be happy? Lying there with my crippled leg I wasn’t happy and I rediscovered that a true piece of the happiness puzzle is health.

In reality, true health feels good. I’ve learned how to tune in to my body and acknowledge what feels good to it. Real food makes me feel good, sweating on purpose feels good, sore muscles feel good, the sun on my face and a good endorphin pump feels good. Taking a deep breath and feeling grateful for that very moment… that, that’s what feels good.

I’ve decided that this whole diet culture has screwed around with my head long enough. Healthy is just a path you choose, it’s a road I’ll have to choose for the rest of my life. Because in reality, there is no end result… not unless you’re dead. And that’s kind of the opposite of what I’m going for here.

Tricky Territory

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It’s three o’clock in the morning and I’m sitting in the warm spot on the couch where Scout was sleeping before he heard me sneak down the stairs.

He must have jumped down when he heard me bumbling around in the dark and is currently looking up at me groggily from his new lesser station in life on the floor as I type.

He’s probably wondering when I’ll come to my senses and go back to bed so that he can climb back to his warm forbidden spot.

But it won’t happen, not tonight anyway.

You see, he wasn’t the only one trespassing  throughout the night. Just one hour earlier Penelope had made her way into our bed where she initially snuggled the sucker who invited her in (Brent) and eventually made her way to the soft comfort of her reluctant mother (me).

I’m not going to lie, a part of me likes it too- the sweet warmth from her tiny little body. Then the other part of me (the part that got her boob elbowed five times and her hair pulled twice) just wishes the kid could sleep through the night.

Initially I tried to go back to sleep while I felt her wiggle and grunt next to me. But before I knew it my brain had begun to roil around in my head playing out all kinds of scenarios about life. What I had and hadn’t done, what I wanted to do, what I needed to do.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one pondering life because within the darkness I heard a little voice next to me say, “Mommy, did you know that I’ve never been on a roller coaster ride?” I giggled and made a mental note to take her sooner than later, but refused to fall prey to the conversation that would surely open the door to more sleeplessness.

I eventually put her back to bed, but I had given up any hope that I would ever go back to sleep.

Since going back to work after my surgery, I’ve gotten sucked back into my routine of all work and no play. I had a lot of catching up to do upon my arrival. When I’m not working, I spend my weekends preparing for the next week ahead.

There is no such thing as sleeping in at my house so I usually spend Saturday mornings meal planning and spilling coffee on my planner, while Penelope plays with legos.

After grocery shopping in my pajamas Penelope and I will then usually spend the rest of the morning making home made snacks for the family.

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Brent is in paramedic school now which means he doesn’t work on shift anymore. This also means I have a hungry man in my house at all times. Since packaged foods advertised as unprocessed packaged foods are so expensive I make my own. Here’s what is typically on my weekend repertoire…

1. Chewy No-Bake Cinnamon Cranberry Granola Bars

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Technically, I was only successful making these once. The other two times it wouldn’t stick together. But boy, that one time was tasty enough to make me keep trying until I get it right again.

2. No Bake Energy Bites

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This is Brent’s favorite post-workout snack. It’s also his favorite post-study, post-shower and post-watched-some-TV snack as well.

3. Baked Chicken Breast

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I’ve been roasting up a couple of pounds of chicken every weekend as well. I’ll use it throughout the week in dinners that require cooked chicken, salads for lunch and it also serves as another man snack for Brent who lives off of meat, and meat, and no bake energy bites.

4. Healthy Banana Bread or other muffins.

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I always make a batch of healthy muffins for an easy snack or breakfast for the girls during the week as well. We switch it up every week and use the heart shaped muffin tins that Penelope insisted we buy.

Despite the fact that I’ve been working hard at eating clean I’ve still gained a few pounds in the last month. I’m hoping that it is mostly just me building my leg muscles back up from after my surgery. I didn’t gain a ton of weight post surgery like I was afraid I would but I lost so much muscle mass my legs don’t even look like they belong to me anymore.

My first full week back to work I was scheduled to go to Outdoor Lab which is like a mountain retreat for the sixth graders. This is a right of passage for all of the kids who go to school in my district. I wasn’t cleared to go yet so my Girls on the Run co-coach offered to go for me. This meant I would have to teach her class… P.E.

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I actually had a blast that week “teaching” the kids how to play flag football. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for how to navigate the tricky territory of telling middle schoolers what to do with their balls. I winced every time I caught myself saying phrases like, “Okay guys, hold your balls!”

Bridget is a student assistant during the time that I taught gym and would come and visit me every now and then. I’m also pretty sure she came in to scope out a cute boy or two. So in that case, I did what any self respecting mother would do…

I embarrassed her by taking pictures.

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“Oh. Em. Gee. Mom… What are you doing?!”

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“Ehhhhh… I’m going to act real awkward now.”

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“Just kidding. You can’t make things any more awkward for me. I’m in middle school! Nice try though.

While I was teaching gym the other P.E. teacher told me that they had old spin bikes sitting in a closet that nobody uses. Later on that day I was talking with our facility manager about the bikes and asked if we had one in our make shift teacher lounge gym.

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The next morning I came in to find that they had joined forces and put one of the bikes in my class room to help me with my recovery! Isn’t that the coolest thing ever?!

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The kids think it’s hilarious when I get on it during class discussions. I also thought I could let the kids take turns using it when they need a little brain break. I hop on it during my planning period and check my emails on my iPad on it first thing in the morning.

My limp is almost completely gone now, but I’ve been warned not to over do it for fear of a set back in my recovery. It’s almost been three months since I had my tibial tubercle osteotomy. It’s hard not to be impatient. I’m so ready to be normal again.

Jalapenos In My Pants

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I’m trying to organize my life, but it isn’t working because apparently I don’t have that skill set.

I can organize other things. Work things. School things. My pantry. But life things… not so much.

I’m like an idiot savant. (I’m not even kidding.)

Take for example my phone. I have no idea where it is right now and honestly I’m not too worried about it communication wise. I’m just concerned about the pictures on it that I wanted to use for this blog post so that I could pretend like I’m one of those bloggers that actually has their shit together enough to make you hate me a little. When in reality I’m just planning on using those pictures to distract you from my short comings (if that’s what they are) by wowing you with photos of my amazing garden because that is something I used to suck at but have some how mastered this year.

I shouldn’t have told you my scheme because it turns out my phone wasn’t really needed since I had already posted those pictures on facebook. I had posted them on facebook so that I could show everyone what a wonderful mother I am. You know, watering my garden, playing with bubbles, stuffing home grown jalapenos in my pants…

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It’s beautiful.

But don’t let it fool you. If you look in my house you will see that I have maxi pad “stickers” stuck to various pieces of furniture and a bedroom door that is locked from the inside with no one on the other side to unlock it.

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I’m not sweating it though because I have long mastered the art of jimmying every lock in the house open thanks to YouTube… and Penelope’s penchant for locking doors and then shutting them. (Thank you hoohoohoblin, you have been invaluable to me.)

I was so excited to spend time with my kids this summer but now I’m over it. Teens and Toddlers don’t mix. They’re driving me crazy and that might make me a shitty mom for actually saying it out loud. But you know… it is what it is.

On a daily basis I have to endure a mashup of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song and a Spotify Five Seconds of Summer Play list playing in the same room at the same time. All the while both of my kids are talking to me at the same time about two different things (Penelope: “I want milk! Mom, I want milk! Mom, Mom, Mommmmmy! I want milk!” Bridget: “Chemical Romance’s concert tickets are only fifty dollars… I want to get my nose pierced. Izzi said it would be cool…”

Then I will have to tell Penelope that no she can not stick her finger in the pencil sharpener while I pour her milk (too late… shit where are the bandaids?) and Bridget that no she can not wear those shorts to Izzi’s house (because they look like underwear) and both of my children will simultaneously let me know how displeased they are with me in their differing but equally annoying ways (Penelope: “Mommy I don’t like you. Go away.” Bridget: huffy-breathsullen-glance-eye-roll-silence).

I can’t take it anymore.

Honestly, I just want a moment to hang out with me. Just a moment. It could even be in the bathroom… pooping… without someone talking to me through the door crack.  Or maybe even just a conversation… talking in the mirror and enjoying how hilarious we are together, the reflection and I. We’ll ignore the sounds of my children as they waft under the door, toddler whining and teen whining so alike yet so different, and we’ll just spend some time together. Me and I looking into each others eyes and not at the blonde mustache that seems to gleam on my face now that I have a tan. ( I should really get that thing waxed.)

We’ll just. Be.

It’s my dream vacation.

Yet, at the same time I feel so guilty about it. I’m coming to terms with the fact that summer is almost over (teacher standards). I have to pay attention to emails again and plan lessons again and move classrooms again. And I’m really excited about it and yet I feel bad for welcoming it. I have less than a month left before I have to go back to work for good, and a stark realization has hit me…

I haven’t done any of that healthy stuff for me that I had planned on doing over the summer, aside from the occasional vagina killing class spin class, a few sessions of yoga and a salad. Instead, I got lost in the art of taking care of my kids.

Weight loss has not been a priority because honestly I didn’t want it to be. I didn’t want to commit to it. I wanted to just hang out with my kids. I was busy not having a schedule and committed to being non-committal. Then there was also that whole business of me not hating myself enough to create an urgent need for a whole “Overhaul Yourself” Campaign. Because let’s face it, those are usually triggered during times of self-loathing.

Unfortunately, this summer I’ve been pretty okay with myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am seriously flawed but I am TOTALLY okay with that… and that makes it really hard to find the motivation for any kind of self-growth.

I’m not sure that’s a good thing. In fact I’m pretty sure that’s arrested development.

I’m developmentally arrested due to my high self-esteem. 

What the hell does that even mean?  <—- (That’s not a rhetorical question.)

But I guess the time has come, before I know it another school year will be upon me and along with it other stresses. I needed to mentally get to a good place. I’ve done that and now it’s time to get there physically. That requires, organization… which also requires communication… which means, I might need to find my phone.

Where is that damn thing?

That leaves me with the ultimate debate…

Should I get up and look for my phone some more OR I should watch another episode of Girls because it’s too inappropriate to watch with kids around and I’ve finally found myself alone in the house during a time of the day that isn’t meant for sleeping?

You know what they say…

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Yeah, I know! I know that’s not what they meant… but I’ll take what I can get.

The Path That Leads Me…

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Hi… Can we take a moment to be honest?

I’m fat. I write a weight loss blog and I’m fat. What a shame.

There is a lot of talking we could do about the matter OR we could move passed the self-deprecating thought process and simply get down to the business of enjoying life. Because let’s face it, I’m at my healthiest when I’m living life to the fullest, enjoying healthy food, playing outside and taking time to myself.

And what better time to do that than during summer when I’m granted 8 weeks of work free solitude?  (Well… “solitude” may be taking it a bit far.) My first week of summer has commenced, and so far I have embraced every aspect of summer that I love. And I’m loving every minute of it!

 My mornings have started out at 5:30 every… morning… thanks to my little human alarm clock.

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I’ve been making the mistake of staying up late at night since I don’t have to wake up to go to work. I always forget that Penelope doesn’t know that I’m on summer vacation, and I end up feeling like I have a hang over every morning. But once I’ve downed my iced coffee I’ll look out my window to see the hot air balloons on their early morning jaunt and I’m secretly grateful for the opportunity to enjoy the sunrise.

At this point I’m ready to go for a sunrise walk or a bike ride. There is just something special about summer mornings. If you just so happen to wake up early enough, you’ll get to see everything when it’s still sprinkled with morning dew. Everything looks like it has been misted with magic when the early morning sun hits it. It’s beautiful.

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After that we get all cleaned up for the day and get ready to go do some stuff. After spending the past ten months busting my butt as a teacher I have been bound and determined not to let a day go wasted. I have done my research, I know the dates and times of every free activity that takes place in our area. My calendar is littered with the dates of every outdoor concert, storytime, and festival.

It has only been one week, but so far we have gone to the library…

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The pool…

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The museum…

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The Chalk Art Festival…

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To our favorite book store where Bridget bought an impromptu poem about music…

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… and we indulged in “lattes” in real cups and saucers.

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I’ve had the time to sit on my deck and meal plan while drinking a watermelon mocktails listening to the Beach Boys radio on Pandora…

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And I’ve actually had the time to follow through with my meal plans and eat healthy yummy food that makes my body feel good…

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Sure I was a bit bummed out at how flabby and pasty my skin had become throughout the school year. But I knew that if I spent time berating myself for it I would not do myself any favors. You can’t really live life to the fullest if you are too busy hating yourself. Therefore, I simply acknowledged it and moved on.

And to my surprise, in my first week of summer I managed to get a tan and shed five pounds.  It’s my goal for the summer to keep living day to day for the day, not taking anything for granted. Because that’s the path that leads me to where I want to go.

Head Start on Spring Break!

Let’s do some math. Tons of exercise + eating super clean and healthy.

According to my calculations that should equal about a twenty pounds weight loss this week.

Unfortunately, I’m horrible at math… and super impatient and entitled.

What?! I did what I was supposed to do for five days, so that means I should get what I want. Right?

I weighed in this morning feeling deserving of the calculations above. Instead, I weighed in at 198.2… exactly what I weighed last week.

Upon further reflection I realized there may be a slight difference between what actually went down and what went down in my head. I exercised five days in a row. I mostly ran, and ran, and ran… only my run isn’t quite what it used to be. Instead, it was more of a run, and then a hobble, and then a walk. Repeat that process over and over again for about three miles and that’s pretty much what I did.

Eating wise I made healthy recipes, some of which my family deemed as questionable but ate anyway, because they love me. I was prepared for work, bringing well thought out breakfasts and left overs for lunch. And if I drank coffee I opted for no sugar.

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Then on Thursday I had the brilliant idea of making rice crispy treats for my students in celebration of the impending spring break. I followed the microwave recipe in order to save time and ended up making rice crispy bricks. It took ingesting about six treats to figure out that they were inedible.

It didn’t matter because even if they did turn out, I wouldn’t have been able to share them with the kids anyway.

I was halfway through my first period class on Friday when I got a call from the babysitter alerting me to the fact that Penelope got bit by her dog.

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The babysitter felt horrible, but Penelope wasn’t even phased by it. I got my classes covered and picked her up to take her to the doctor right away. She didn’t cry when she got bit by the dog but cried when I came to get her because she wanted to stay. (What a little weirdo.)

After the appointment we stopped by the school so that I could make sure everything was set for the sub for the rest of my classes. When we walked in everyone crowded around her with concerned looks on their faces. At first Penelope was confused as to why they were coddling her. When they asked her how she was she simply said, “Good.”

Then she figured out what they are fussing over and when they asked her she would say, “Not good! I got bit by a dog!”

When they asked if it was a big dog or a little dog it started off as a little dog and then she got into the art of exaggeration, “It was a big dog!”

Before I knew it she was making announcements in the hallway, “I got bit by a DOG!”

And of course they gave her all of the attention she was craving, she roamed the halls giving fist bumps and high fives. After her moment of celebrity she insisted that I take her to the “worm factory” to make her dog bite better. The “worm factory” is actually a burger joint that serves ice cream with gummy worms in it.

So that’s what we did.

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… and I helped myself to a burger and fries too.

Yes, I was eating my feelings. Because lets face it, this dog bite was more traumatic for me than it was for her.

The silver lining was that we got a head start on our Spring Break! Spring Break is my dress rehearsal for summer.

SUMMER!

The next morning we started our break off with the cutest birthday party ever. Penelope’s best buddy Lucy turned three and had a Curious George themed party. Seriously… Cutest. Thing. Ever.

It was everything you envision when you decide you want to have kids. I just love this age!

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Later that after noon it was time to celebrate Lucy’s mom’s birthday. Andrea had Lucy two days before her own birthday and decided this year to treat herself to a spa day. She invited me to come along. I couldn’t justify an entire spa day but I did offer to pop by for a pedicure and provide some company.

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Andrea was still getting her facial when I arrived at the fancy shmancy hotel. So what did I do? I found happy hour in the adjacent bar of course!

It was the perfect way to kick off Spring Break. Andrea and I giggled and talked in the dark ambient light. Then I left her to enjoy her hair treatment and makeover while I went home and played in the yard with my kids.

For me, perfectly painted pink toes in green grass is a true sign of good things to come. Sure enough, as we dug around in the garden clearing the way for the new season we found a little surprise.

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A little head of lettuce that somehow rebirthed itself from last year’s crop!

It’s just the beginning of good things to come. We have exciting plans make for the week ahead… family coming to town, kites to fly, picnics to be had, frolicking to be done. You know… the usual.

So if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go ahead and get started on that 🙂