I turned 35 yesterday. I suppose I should be happy, since I now finally qualify for that “advanced maternal age” flag that’s already on my chart at my OB’s office. (Side rant: who on earth came up with that phrase? It makes me feel like one of those 60 year-old women who has her own grandbabies through IVF. It’s CREEPY.)

Anyway, you know, it’s fine. Everybody gets older, yadda yadda. I’m not exactly having a mid-life crisis about it over here.

And I have to say, one of the coolest things about social media? All the “happy birthday” wishes you get on Twitter and Facebook. That’s pretty awesome.

It was really nice that my birthday fell on a Sunday this year. We went out for breakfast, where Catie kept Dave and me entertained by making all kinds of funny faces.

Catie at breakfast

Catie making funny faces

Catie making funny faces

Funny Catie

(Lest you think my child is always this adorable and charming, I have to add that this was a TOTAL 180 from the night before, in which she and I stopped at a local pizzeria to pick up some dinner, and she was rude and insufferable the entire time we were there. Three year-olds are unpredictable, man.)

After breakfast, we walked around downtown Apex for a while. We’ve lived here for two and a half years, and we’d never done that before. Dave and I have talked a few times about how we don’t really feel as connected to this area as we did in Seattle, and I think a lot of it is our own fault, for not making the effort. And it turns out? The old-timey downtown part of our town is really cute, even though most of the shops were closed because it was Sunday. It didn’t matter, it was a gorgeous day outside, and the walk was nice. And we’ll be sure to do it again sometime when the stores are open, because there are a ton of neat places that we’d like to check out.

We hit the grocery store and headed home, where I got Catie settled on the couch with a Scooby-Doo movie, and I got my favorite part of my entire day: A NAP. I almost never take naps, and it seems to be something that pregnant ladies desperately need, so that was fabulous.

When I woke up, Catie and I put on our matching aprons and made my birthday cake together; she’s turning into quite a little sous-chef, that kid. It was strawberry with white frosting and pink decorations – guess who picked THAT out? Then she told me what the cake should say:

My birthday cake
“Happy birthday Mommy. Love, Catie.”

Um, sorry, Dave? There wasn’t room to fit his name on there anyway.

I have to add, this is NOT the first example of how horrible my handwriting is when it comes to writing things in frosting. Witness the cake I made the first year that Dave and I were dating (that’s 2004, for those of y’all keeping track):

Yeah. And he married me anyway. (After he asked me why I drew intestines on his cake – it was supposed to be a heart!!)

And now you know why we’ll be ordering Catie’s cake for her birthday party in two weeks.

Later, I got my present from Dave. He always gives really awesome gifts, and this year was no exception: I got a treadmill! Well, technically I got a photo of a treadmill because the real one is stuck in a snowstorm somewhere in the midwest, but it’s on its way here! But I’ve been asking for a treadmill for ages, so that was perfect.

The thing is, I loved doing the Couch-to-5K last year, and I want to start it up again after Baby 2.0 is born. But I am also a big whiny baby about running if the weather is anything less than perfect. If it’s too hot or too cold, I’m probably not going to do it. And I learned last year that I actually do like running on a treadmill, but I tend to get lazy about it if I have to get dressed, find my membership card, drive 10 minutes to the gym, etc. So the idea is that having the treadmill in the house will force me to stop making excuses. (That actually does work with me too, it’s why I’m much more likely to stick with a workout DVD than a gym class.) Plus, I figure that with two kids in the house, it might just be easier for me to squeeze in a quick workout if I can do it without leaving the premises.

So, treadmill! Yay!

We finished off the night with burgers, fries, birthday cake (of course) and “The Social Network,” which was a really good movie.

All in all? 35 is pretty good so far. No complaints here.

why I do that

My allergies are still giving me grief, so I’ve been skipping out on running and doing the 30 Day Shred instead. That whole “holy crap I can’t breathe” feeling isn’t quite as awful during the Shred, I guess because the exercises are constantly changing and hurting you in different ways, as opposed to running where you’re just doing the same painful thing for 25 minutes.

And it’s weird, I like them both for different reasons. With running, I get this weird sort of endorphin head rush of, “f*ck yeah, I’m a RUNNER, man. I’m strong! I’m empowered! I can conquer ANYTHING in the WORLD!” So, apparently running gives me delusions of grandeur, because seriously, all I did was run barely 2 miles. We’re hardly talking Marathon Woman over here. But whatever, it’s fun.

Meanwhile, with the Shred, I don’t necessarily get the same rush, but I feel sore all over afterward, which I like because then I feel like, “ooh, I’m toning up these muscles, and these, and these…” So they each have their own perks.

Last night, I did the Shred after Catie got home from daycare, but before dinner. Catie said she wanted to work out with me, so she grabbed my 1-pound weights and jumped in (I’ve upgraded to the 5-pound weights, which make the workout infinitely harder). It’s hilarious because she doesn’t really do any of the moves correctly, but she was so excited that she was doing it with me, and she kept saying, “Mommy, look at me! Look at me!” It actually made the workout harder because I couldn’t stop laughing.

It’s funny, she’s done the Shred with me a few times, but she doesn’t really have the attention span to do the whole video. She does the warm-up, then she wanders off to play with her toys, then she sees me doing something that she thinks looks like fun (i.e., what Jillian calls “squat thrusts” and what Catie calls “frog jumps” – I think Catie’s term is probably more accurate), and she’ll run back over and join in again for a couple of minutes, then she’s off and playing again. Lather rinse repeat.

But last night, when she first got home from daycare & I was putting on my workout clothes, I told her I was going to work out, and she said, “Why you do that?” I have been VERY careful about not saying anything disparaging about my body in front of her, because I don’t want her to take on any of my body image issues as her own. In fact, when she’s jumping around doing the Shred with me, I get really annoyed with Jillian Michaels for talking about burning fat and losing weight – like, SHUT UP, I don’t want those thoughts getting into her head.

So when she asked me, “Why you do that?” I paused for a second to think about it. And I said, “Well, you know how we eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables so we’ll be healthy and strong? I exercise for the same reason. I need to be strong, so that I can still pick you up and carry you, even now that you’re a big girl.”

She seemed to like that answer. She said, “Yeah, and I am getting sooo big! Right, Mommy?” I agreed with her, and I was feeling all proud of myself and sort of smug, like haha, take THAT, stupid American standards that beauty = thinness! Boo-yah!

Then Catie continued: “Yeah, Mommy. And you getting HUGE!”

Nice. Thanks a lot, kid. Jeez.

the exercise aliens have taken over mah brain!

Ok, so who’s tired of hearing me talk about working out? Anyone? Well, sorry, but it’s all I’ve got today.

My current plan is this:
1. Weight Watchers to keep the calories in check.
2. The couch-to-5K plan.
3. Other workouts (typically the 30-Day Shred, or maybe yoga if my knees are hurting) on the days when I’m not running.

And so far, it’s going ok. I’ve only lost 6 pounds, which is not much to brag about, but I also haven’t really been pushing the whole diet side of it as much as I should. I’m working on that. I can’t do sudden major changes if I expect to maintain it long-term.

But there have been these changes that I’m seeing in my body that are sort of strange. My shoulders have more definition. My arms have a bump on them that I think might possibly be the curve of a muscle under there, although I suppose it’s possible that I have matching symmetrical tumors or something. I’m also getting these… dents, I guess?… on my stomach. It’s not exactly like I have abs, per se, because there’s still a big ol’ layer of fat on top. But there’s definitely some sort of muscle underneath all that.

So, it’s weird. I’m still in my size 14 jeans, and the number on the scale is still uncomfortably high for me, but I really like all of these little changes that I’m noticing in myself. Which is motivation to keep it up, I guess. I love that I feel stronger, even if it isn’t necessarily visually obvious yet.

Oh, and about the couch-to-5k? I wish someone had warned me that things go crazy once you get to week 5. I had gotten pretty good at running the 5-minute intervals, but then it suddenly jumped to 8-minute intervals, which almost killed me. Then I see that for my next run (which is, um, later today), I’m supposed to run 20 minutes without stopping. TWENTY. MINUTES. When I first saw that, my initial reaction was to balk. There’s no way I can do that! Are they insane?

But then, this tiny little thought popped up the back of my head: “…but what if I can do it?” I have no idea where that came from, this notion that I need to challenge myself to do something more physically strenuous than I’ve ever done in my 34 years on this planet. It was sort of strange, because it’s totally out of character for me. But I think I might give this whole 20-minute run a shot. This weekend, not today. I’m really sore from doing level 2 of the 30-Day Shred last night, so I’m just doing to do another 8-minute run interval today.

P.S. Don’t tell me “You gave birth, you can do it!” Catie weighed less than six pounds AND I had drugs. It almost doesn’t even count. Plus I only had to push for 14 minutes to get her out. Not 20.

P.S.S. Dave just started working out this week, but he’s been eating healthier with me for the past couple of months. He’s dropped over 25 pounds already. The male metabolism is so freaking unfair.

Falsie FAIL

[Editor’s Note: If you’re a guy, you probably want to skip this post. If you read on, you’re going to learn more than you probably want to know about my breasts.]

I have always been somewhat under-endowed in the boob department. I technically wear a B cup, but I don’t fill it out all the way. I’m pretty sure that if you yelled into my bra, you’d hear an echo. Last month, my girls over at Room 704 did a “boob collage” photo (don’t get excited, it’s just cleavage, it doesn’t involve nudity). And I realized that I couldn’t participate because the only way I can get cleavage is if I put on a push-up bra, lean waaaay over, and then squeeze my boobs together with one hand and take the picture with the other hand. It’s just too damn much work.

The funny thing is that if you met me, you might not know just how tiny my girls are, because I only own super-padded push-up bras. They make me feel a little more equally-distributed. I’ve told Dave (numerous times) that as soon as we’re done having kids, I am getting the Mommy Lift, and I do not feel even slightly guilty or anti-feminist by admitting that I want plastic surgery. I don’t give a flip what society thinks I should look like, I just want to like what I see when I look in the mirror.

But I had whole new revelation of embarrassment about my boobs last night. I’ve been doing this couch-to-5K thing for over two months now, and one thing that’s always bothered me is how much my chest hurts when I run. It feels like I have a big rock in each of my lungs. The weird thing is that I never get that sensation when I do the 30-Day Shred, even though I’m breathing just as hard during that workout. I figured that maybe it was the difference between being inside versus outdoors – our house is air-conditioned, but there are allergens in the air outside, that kind of thing.

Last night, though, I went for a run and I didn’t have the lung pain at all. Weird, right? I realized during my second run interval, though, that I forgot to put my falsies in my sports bra. I never use them at home (i.e., when I’m doing the Shred), but if I’m going for a run or going to the gym, I use them because otherwise my sports bra flattens me out so much that I look like a 12 year-old boy. Or rather, a 12 year-old boy with a muffin top. Which is kind of disturbing.

So, apparently the source of my chest pain was NOT due to being out of shape, but because I essentially turned my sports bra into a tourniquet that was putting extra pressure on my chest. Brilliant.

If you need me today, I’ll be shopping for a pre-padded sports bra. And I guess I’ll leave my bra inserts for Catie to play with. She loves them – she calls them “Mommy’s Boobs” and likes to run around holding them on the sides of her head like Princess Leia hairbuns. She also likes to take my black Wonderbra and wear it on her head because it makes her look like she has Minnie Mouse ears. Strange kid, but you have to give her points for creativity.

My Patella-ella-ella

*Apologies if that Rihanna song gets stuck in your head.

So, I’ve been doing the Couch-to-5K workout for the past several weeks. It’s taking me longer than it’s supposed to, because I am… well, I’m pretty horribly out of shape, so I’m not advancing to the next level until I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on the current one. (Read that as: when I’m pretty sure that increasing the length of running time isn’t going to make my lungs pop out of my chest and leave me dead on the sidewalk.)

Oh, also, I gave up on working out in the gym because I realized that having to gather up my membership card, water bottle, etc., and the drive there & back added an extra half hour, and I’d prefer to use that time sleeping. So now I just run around the neighborhood.

Anyway, I was doing ok, but yesterday I hurt my knee again. It’s the same problem I always have with my knee; any sort of strenuous exercise always makes my knee hurt (see: the 30-Day Shred). Years ago, my mom diagnosed it as, “You got your Grandmother’s knees,” because my dad’s mom always had issues with her knees too. I was running with my knee brace on, and I was wearing my Vibram Five Fingers, which are supposed to help with joint pain. And I was totally fine while I was running; I mean, I felt like I was going to die, like I always do, but my knees were fine. Then I got home, took my knee brace off, and my leg sort of buckled and my knee tried to go backward like a flamingo. Dammit.

I was thinking that this new injury would mean the end of the Couch-to-5K, and I was really pissed because I honestly like it. I like running around outside when it’s still dark outside and seeing the sunrise. (I am not a fan of running past the teenagers waiting for the school bus, but you know, whatever.) So I decided to make an appointment with a sports medicine doctor. Which is sort of hilarious given how completely un-athletic I am. But I wanted an official diagnosis of exactly what it is that’s wrong with my knee, and what I can do to fix it.

My fear was that they’d just say sorry, you got some crap DNA, and tell me that I’d never be able to do any type of strenuous exercise. Which would pretty much be the end of the world for me because if the only form of exercise I can do is, say, swimming? No. If I’m required to put on a swimsuit to work out, it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m just not ever gonna do it. Then it’d be, hello 200+ pounds, nice to see you again.

Anyway, the news was much better than I thought. Turns out that my patella (kneecap bone) is slightly shifted (on both of my knees, although since my right leg is dominant, that seems to be the one that always gets injured first), and they gave me some exercises and stretches I can do to try to correct it. After doing these exercises twice a day, I should be a lot better in about three or four weeks.

Bonus: after my appointment, I got to call Dave at work and tell him that part of my physical therapy involves tying myself to our bed. It’s nothing that kinky, honestly, it’s just an elastic band that I have to attach to the foot of our bed and then tether it around my ankle to do some of the stretches. So it’s fine and totally G-rated. But man, listening to him do a spit-take with his coffee that early in the morning? Priceless.

So it was all good news. And in the meantime, since I don’t want to give up the progress I’ve made with the Couch-to-5K, I’m going to be power-walking in my new Skechers Shape-Ups, since those are also supposed to help with joint pain. (Aside: between the Shape-Ups and the VFFs, I feel like I’m starting an Ugly Shoe Collection. What is wrong with me? I used to buy cute shoes. Now I’m all about buying what’s “functional.” It’s sad, really.)

And when my knees are feeling stronger, I’m gonna jump right back into the Couch-to-5K. Only, you know, not literally jump, since that might screw up my knees again, and lord knows we don’t want that.

fuzzy-headed, empty-tummied

I started a new diet today. Which, if we’re counting, makes this probably my third or fourth diet this year. But, every other time, it’s just been something that I tried to do on my own. This time, I have a plan. Duh-duh-DUHHH!!

Specifically, I’m doing the Fat Flush Plan. Which is pretty intense – low-carb, low-calorie, low-fat, low-everything-I-like. I’m modifying it a little bit, because while I get that her goal is to shock your system into losing weight, I also think this woman is juuust a teensy bit batshit insane. And I think that I can stick to the basic principles of her low-carb/low-cal/low-fat ideal without completely compromising the integrity of the diet. Because look, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to cook with flaxseed oil, because it’s flat-out disgusting. I’ll stick with my olive oil spray, thank you. Also, she instructs that you should eliminate salt from your diet, which, no. Cut back? Sure. But I want to enjoy my food, and salt plays a pretty major role in several things that I eat. (Besides, the main benefit from cutting out salt is that it makes all of her diuretics more effective, so I’ll lose more water weight, not real weight. Whatever.)

I am, however, doing a lot of the supplements and other things she recommends, like the cran-water (unsweetened cranberry juice diluted with water – mmm, bitter! Gag.), and I can drink hot water with lemon, no problem. She recommends this “Long Life Tonic” twice a day, which is her cran-water concoction mixed with a teaspoon of ground psyllium husks. Which I had to Google, because I didn’t know WTF psyllium was, and it turns out that it’s basically the raw form of Metamucil. Nice. So with this drink, you get bitterness and grit. Yum. Dave looked at it and said that if that’s the Long Life Tonic, he’ll just take the 5-year hit on his lifespan rather than drink it. I’m honestly not sure how long I’ll stick with it either, because it’s truly revolting. But I’ll try.

The author also frowns on caffeine and artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which means my Diet Coke is a no-no. I’m not crazy, there’s no way I can go cold turkey off of Diet Coke, but I *am* trying to cut back to maybe 2 a day (down from my usual 5). So far it’s 1:45 pm, and I’ve only had one today. I also feel light-headed and headachy, which might be a sign that I’m working on a pretty serious addiction here. I’m trying a cup of (caffeinated) green tea to see if that helps.

As for exercise, I was doing really well on my couch-to-5K plan, and I had gotten to the point where I could jog for three whole minutes without stopping, which was a first for me. And then we had to go to Mississippi, and then the house move, and everything just sorta went to crap. So I need to get back into it. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that soon, as soon as the shock on my system with this diet wears off.

So, you know, if things seem pretty whiny and bitchy around here for the next couple of weeks, you’ll know why.

and my lungs still ache

Note: I promise this isn’t going to become sort of exercise/fitness blog, but it seems like writing about it is one way to keep myself accountable, so here goes.

Today, I was planning to do my couch-to-5K workout again. Since it’s the weekend, I left Catie with Dave rather than hauling her along with me. I thought the gym’s daycare might be fun for her, since she enjoyed it last time, but the nursery is only open in the afternoon on Sundays. So no biggie, I set off for the gym by myself while Catie & Dave snuggled on the couch and watched cartoons.

I got to the gym, and the parking lot was… empty. I walked to the door anyway, and sure enough, there was a little sign stating that the gym doesn’t open until 1 p.m. on Sundays. It was 11:30 a.m. at the time. Sigh. That’s what we get for joining the YMCA, they’re closed on Sunday mornings because they assume everyone is at church. Even more annoying is that I thought ahead enough to look up the nursery hours online that morning, but not the actual gym hours. I’m clearly a genius.

I headed home, and decided since it wasn’t too hot outside (about 80 degrees, a lot cooler than it’s been over the past several weeks), I’d try to do my workout outside instead. Plus, Catie loves to ride in her stroller when I go for walks. So I headed home, loaded her & the jogging stroller up, and we drove over to our local community park. There’s a huge lake there, and the trail around it is exactly 2 miles. That’s about the length that I do during my 30-minute workout (5 minute warm-up, 20 minute walking/jogging intervals, & 5 minute cool-down), so I figured it’d be about the same, right?

Um, NO. Jogging outside as opposed to inside on a treadmill? TOTALLY different animal. Turns out that the added heat, plus the humidity, plus the hills (oh lord, the freaking HILLS) equals a workout that’s about a thousand times harder. I’m sure that pushing the 32-pound toddler in the jogging stroller didn’t help, either. I thought for sure I was going to pass out before we could get back to the car.

I wore Dave’s heart monitor/stopwatch because mine is broken and I wanted to keep track of my jogging and walking intervals. (Not that it did much good, I was only able to jog a full 90 seconds once, the rest of the time I could only do 30- or 60-second intervals.) And I’m pretty sure the heart rate jobby is busted because at one point it said my heart rate was 278. My resting heart rate is around 90. Um, pretty sure I’d be dead in that case, but thanks, stopwatch!

The good news, though, is that because it was so much harder and I wasn’t able to run as much as I was “supposed” to, I figured that it was going to take me a lot longer to go the full two miles. But I finished the course in 32.5 minutes, so it wasn’t much longer than my treadmill workouts at all. I’m pretty proud of myself for that, I guess I was running more than I thought I was.

Of course, now it’s three hours (and one lovely lukewarm shower) later and I still feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. But hey, that’s just proof of how hard I worked, right?