Saturday, April 23, 2011

Invisible Progress

I haven't written much lately, but it's not because not much has been going on -- it's because the progress I am making is taking place in areas that are boring as far as storytelling is concerned. Over the past 3 weeks or so, I have made progress in housecleaning, getting in shape, and clarifying my goals for the future. All of these things are fascinating to me, but the daily ins and outs of, say, cleaning closets is not exactly fascinating. But it's the stuff of my life, so into the blog it goes!

The House

I have always struggled with keeping spaces clean, always and always. I have thought about it and my best guess is that there is a combination of factors at work -- boredom (because keeping house can be very boring) and anxiety, because housecleaning was a very contentious, dramatic type of situation when I was young and learning how to do it. Or, to be more specific, I was never taught how to keep a space clean, so everything I know about housecleaning I had to teach myself, and I didn't even start learning until I was solidly into my twenties.

So beyond the maudlin backstory, I have a daily struggle with housekeeping because I tend to want to either do it all the way, and hyperfocus on keeping everything really clean, and then something happens in another area of my life and I get too tired to keep it up and then I just feel defeated and don't do much for three days, which leads to chaos which I must then correct by cleaning all day and getting hyperfocused on keeping everything clean... you can see where this is going. So what I am working on now is not keeping a perfect house, but sort of keeping one step ahead of the chaos. Lately I have been clearing out old stuff I don't need anymore, which makes it a lot easier to do the daily maintenance kind of cleaning things that people do when they are good at keeping house. I have bags and bags of old clothes and books that I don't need. I have learned to let more things go by revising my criteria. I want to move toward keeping things only if I really like them and use them. For instance, I got rid of some clothes that are perfectly good, and they even fit me, but they make me feel a little silly so I don't really enjoy wearing them. I realized I was holding onto things like that as insurance against that day when all of my clothes are dirty and I just need something to wear... but what kind of a way is that to live? Keeping things you don't like in case you fall behind in your laundry and are so desperate that you will consider wearing them? That's just silly.

Cleaning in this way feels almost like a spiritual exercise because I am having to face my own illogical thought patterns and decide which ones I want to hold onto, and which ones I am ready to let go of. It's kind of embarrassing to be honest, to realize how irrational I can be about the reasons why I keep things, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that everyone is irrational about something. For some reason my challenge is keeping things clean.

I am sort of in a position to get a handle on all the paper in the house -- I have a lot of things to shred -- I didn't shred for a year because I didn't want to "wake the baby," but now that N is over a year old, she sleeps through the sound of the shredder, so now I can get started. So I got started, and then accidentally jammed the shredder in a way that so far has proved impossible to clear. So, you know, there's a jammed shredder and a new decision -- try to fix it? Spend $30 on a new one? Use the very unsafe old-style one that is in the closet? Except that one is louder, and Norah might not sleep through it, but it is totally unsafe so I can't use it when the kids are around... (it is one of the ones that just stays on no matter what, no matter what goes into it).

Getting in Shape

Once again I have gotten fed up with weighing too much and I have been doing well with my efforts in getting in shape and trimming down. I can't say that I have been doing well with the results, but I have been doing my part very well. These days I have a plateau every 2-3 pounds, which is, to put it lightly, REALLY frustrating. Work hard, lose a pound a week for two weeks, then... nothing. For a month. Then, maybe, lose a little more the next month... Overall it has taken me a full year to lose 20 pounds, and I have another 30 to go. I would really like the second half to go faster, but that's not usually the way it works, is it?

I did discover two things that are helping with the fitness component of the weight loss, which has been the trickier part for me. The first part is Pilates, which works because can do a really intense workout in about ten minutes a day, and the results for me are immediate -- after only one day of ab work, I could tell a difference. And I enjoy it as a workout -- it fits my personality somehow. The second helpful thing is that I realized I avoid cardio workouts because I always get a really bad headache after, which lasts all day and comes back even worse the second day if I exercise again, even worse the third day, and on and on. So I did some strategic Googling and I think I can head these off by taking Tylenol before I exercise, and drinking a lot of water. So I will try that and see how it goes. I think that consistently doing cardio will help me get through the plateaus a bit better.

Clarifying Goals

I have recently realized that I really miss intellectual things, so I am working on a few new writing projects to exercise that part of my brain, and I am really looking forward to them! I will post updates on these when I have anything to report. Also, with our tax refund Ben and I completely paid off our credit cards!!!! It feels so good. Some of that debt we have been carrying since C was born, and it feels good to know that we won't be providing monthly interest payments to those companies anymore. Yay! :) Now, on to the student loans and mortgage... ;D

Overall things are trucking along and while I usually feel like I am only about a half a step ahead of chaos, at least I am still ahead. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go clean up the remains of C's Baby Powder Experiment. I will leave it up to you to imagine the results of his early-morning double-blind secret clinical trials.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I just wanted to sign on and post an update about all the random things I have been trying to change.

When it comes to cursing, I am doing worse than the first week of Lent, but better than my normal habits. I have slipped back into more profanity while driving, which is always my weakest point. One thing I have done well this week is really keeping my temper in check and not raising my voice when I am counting to three for C. I stay much calmer and it seems to give him a chance to slow his roll on his own. When I am talking really loud at him or yelling, it's like he feels an obligation to fight back just to stand his ground, but if I keep calm, he wills oemtimes stop misbehaving on his own. I don't blame him, I wouldn't be inclined to cooperate with someone who was yelling down the hall for me to hurryupandputonyourshoesrightnowwehavetogowetalkedaboutthisalreadyspeeditupweregoingtobelate.

On the eating front, it's a mixed bag of slipping and success, but overall a really good outcome.

I have stuck perhaps 85% to my no-white-flour rule, and for a few weeks I ate very little flour at all. At any rate, I am really conscious of it when I am eating things made with flour, which helps me eat less of it. I know it might sound kind of extreme not to eat flour, but I am at my wit's end trying to get the bod to lose weight. I was doing some research about metabolism and digestion, and I was surprised to learn that -- if I understand correctly -- the only time a cell can store fat is in the presence of insulin (people who actually know, is this true? I think it is, but I am not sure.). So I thought, if I avoid having an insulin spike, I can avoid putting on fat, which might make it easier to lose fat, since I won't be replacing all the fat I burn. If that makes sense.

And without sweets and large doses of flour I seem to be doing well with it! :) Of course, I totally bombed on Norah's birthday by eating a lot of cake. I know this will sound braggy in a granola-mom kind of way, but it's seriously true: after eating well for two good weeks and then indulging in so much cake, I felt absolutely terrible! I felt like I'd been poisoned, or at the very least, like I had been out partying really hard. I had a terrible headache and felt all sluggish and gross. So, I can't just indulge in so much sugar anymore. But it makes me crave healthy food, which I can assume is a good thing. :)

I am still a big fan of the Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas. In fact, tonight I was craving something sweet, so I heated one up and put almond butter and banana slices on it and folded it in half and then half again. It was REALLY good. It was sweet and a little salty and kind of gloopy in that pleasing dessertlike way. And it was really nutritious, and it didn't make me crave more.

As far as using my veggie shares as well as possible, I would probably get about an 85% or 90% success rate on that. I am feeling sad today because I found that my beautiful cut-and-clean greens went bad while I was intending to use them :( (Interestingly, "intending" to use a vegetable soon doesn't render it incapable of spoiling. Note to self...). I made vegetable soup again today, and it seems to be a good solution to using up every last scrap of vegetable. I added some rainbow chard stalks (diced) that have been in my freezer for a while.

Grocery bill is getting under control as well, which is great! I'll write more about the budget later, because right now my eyes are starting to cross. It's been a really long day. :)

So, to sum it up, eating experiment is going well and I feel a lot better in general. I have much more energy, and I like that now I am craving the healthy foods rather than yearning for cupcakes.

This post has been a lot of business, but on a personal note my two kids are so much fun these days. Norah is in that super-turbo-development stage between 12 and 18 months. She is saying more words, learning more skills; new stuff every day. Chris is so perceptive. I am amazed by the fact that he can watch five minutes of a story on TV and know who all the characters are, what their names are, how they are related to one another, and what their motivations are for their actions. I feel like he is ready to learn things, more than they teach him at school. Where should I start?

His personality is growing more and more like mine -- he likes to be social but then he hits his limit and has to be by himself for a while. It is kind of cool to be able to help him navigate things as a friendly introvert, instead of just labeling him shy and trying to make him change.

So that is that. I am writing in circles now. More soon. :)