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September 17, 2014

The WOTHM and School Struggles

Whenever I think about writing another WOTHM / coping post, I think I must have already said all that needs to be said on the topic, right? (For the newbies, WOTHM=Work Outside The Home Mom) But of course, not. Because life is always moving forward and there will be a new challenge just around the corner, pretty much all the time.

My new challenge involves my baby girl and school. I don't know if it was always this way or if it's a change in the way school is done now from when I was a kid. For your frame of reference, however, these days, parents are expected to be pretty involved in homework for the kids up through a certain grade. Reading WITH them, Reading TO them, having THEM read to you, correcting and working through math problems and grammar exercises are all things I have had to spend some time with each of my kids up through about 4th or 5th grade.

I've been pretty lucky that Sarah and Dani were strong readers and able to do a lot of this on their own earlier than some kids. Dani never liked being read to (still does not like to be read to) and prefers not to read aloud. I suspect this is because she is a speed reader and it slows down her experience to be read to or to have to read aloud. Sarah enjoys being read to and reading aloud and we did this through 4th grade. Now that she is in middle school, however, she does her reading independently. I try to read whatever book she is reading so we can discuss it, if she wants to. As she has gotten older, there is less time for that anyway, so it's a sort of no pressure situation. I say I've been lucky because I haven't had to spend as much time with kids and homework the past couple of years and I have seen that as good because I work full-time and then all the kids have their activities and I've added some of my own. The time just doesn't seem to be there.

This year, the luck ends. I feel like a failure right now because I see that my Helen is struggling a bit in 3rd grade. Helen has never been one to read without being assigned. She reads quite well. She's fun to listen to as she reads aloud as she uses proper intonation and inflection. But she does not really like to read. I think she runs into a problem I had as a kid where the material wasn't interesting enough to keep her focused and she will read a paragraph and still not know what she just read because her mind wandered. So she has to re-read it and that makes her mad. Her comprehension skills are not strong either and this impacts not only her reading, but her grammar and her math word problem computations. I feel like a failure because I haven't spent the kind of time with Helen that she needs.

My sweet girl, who wants to be "just like her mommy"
more than anything in the whole world
Our schedule is hectic, no doubt. Craig heads off to work shortly after I get home (and sometimes before I get home). Sarah has volleyball games and practices in the afternoons/evenings. Dani has cross country practices and swim practices all nights of the week except Wednesday. Dominic has a worksheet to complete a couple of nights a week and Vincent just needs regular attention so he's not zoning out watching a screen all evening. You notice that I didn't include anything with Helen in that list. That is how busy we are without spending extra time with Helen on her homework. And I've been working out in the mornings so I still get it in while I can't go in the afternoons/evenings right now.

This is where the rubber meets the road with regard to a WOTHM's life. It's all about balance and sometimes, there just isn't any. I had to have a serious talk with Helen last night, putting a plan together to help her strengthen her skills. We'll be doubling up the amount of time I spend with her reading each night and we'll be doing about 5 extra math word problems each night. I may even throw in flash cards for her addition and subtraction math facts because she's not fast enough with those. This will be in addition to extra spelling and handwriting practice that I already had recognized she would need.

Helen said I was "being mean" and I had to reassure her that no, I am not angry and no, I am not being mean. I had to tell her, "I am being your mommy. I have to help you." And then...I hugged her while she cried. I know her tears were those of disappointment -- she thought she'd disappointed me. And so I hugged her and said, "I love you" over and over because the last thing I want her to fear is that doing poorly in school would ever make me not love her. And I told her that, too.

Then...I sat at my computer screen for about 10 minutes. And I cried. I cried because it feels like I have failed my daughter. I cried because I love her so. I cried because I worry that even with a plan in place, she might still not improve -- and that scares the bejeezus out of me. I cried because I see so much of myself in Helen and I knew exactly why she was crying and why she thought I was being mean. Because when I was a kid and I didn't live up to people's expectations -- it hurt. I didn't want Helen to hurt. I want to expect great things from Helen, but I don't want to expect the wrong great things of her. I cried because I face week after week of having to run myself ragged to get the kids to school, get myself to work, get the kids to activities, scrape the money together to pay for those activities -- all the while trying to keep myself sane, healthy and as together as possible. And...I am not going to lie to you. Sometimes it feels absolutely impossible.

This post isn't going to have any answers. this post is simply laying it out there that I have struggles that feel insurmountable on a fairly regular basis and my only option is to power through. I can cry and worry that no matter how well I execute my plan to help Helen that she will still fail. But in the end, I must still power through that plan and try my best. I must set benchmarks against which to measure Helen's progress and I must also assess my expectations of Helen and be sure I am aligning them with HER personality and HER gifts and not her older sisters'.

Perhaps the biggest adjustment in expectations, however, has to be my own. It's tempting to start to believe everyone when they tell you they "don't know how you do it" and how "incredible" you must be to have so much together. It really is tempting...and sometimes you do start to believe it. But then the dose of humility that must, and always does, come slaps you across the face and you realize that you haven't been doing one or more of the things you need to do to continue to raise your family, keep your home in shape, and maintain forward traction in life. And it's time to reassess and change up the plan.

So that's where I am today. Just like with weight loss or getting better at CrossFit, I am choosing to look at the next day as a new beginning. So what we were doing wasn't working? Let's try this and see if it does. I just wish that when it was time to change things up, it wasn't so much like throwing a bunch of stuff to a wall and seeing what sticks. But I suppose that's life sometimes.


Paleo Challenge Part Two (The Part During) - 7

Accountability post following.

Monday Food
Breakfast: 3 hard-boiled eggs
Lunch: had another lunch in the Executive Dining Room at work. Chicken, cauliflower, fruit bowl.
Snack: Almonds
Dinner: 4 slices of cooked, crisp bacon, Avocado and tomato slices, romaine lettuce with salsa

Monday Workout: CrossFit which included me climbing the 15' rope in about half the time as the last time I did it. Then we did what is called a "benchmark WOD" that was pretty much awful, but a great workout.

Tuesday Food
Breakfast: Banana and 3 slices of cooked, crisp bacon
Lunch: Made a salad of all fresh veggies at Jason's and added 3 hard-boiled eggs for the protein part (no dressing)
Snack:  Almonds
Dinner: Romaine with salsa and strip steak

Tuesday Workout: CrossFit which included a good 30 minutes of strength training (Push Press, Push Jerk and Front Squats) and then a WOD that was more like a sprint that had rowing, pushups and front squats. It was a good fast workout, which I like to have -- especially when I need to rush home to get ready for work!

I am gonna go ahead and let you know that my size 6 work pants are feeling awful loose these days. I'm surprised because as of last weight check, I haven't lost any weight. So maybe I'm using up fat stores and my body fat percentage is decreasing? I hope so!!

One of my favorite quotes from a movie, ever.

September 15, 2014

Paleo Challenge Part Two (the Part During) -- 6

The Next Paleo Accountability Post :)

Saturday Food
Midday (went to CrossFit so didn't eat until later): Bacon and fried eggs

Dinner: Strip Steak over lettuce with salsa

Saturday Workout: CrossFit WOD with Craig. I PR'd on the Front Squat at 140#. Then I went on to do a 3 rep-max at 135# making me think I could probably do a 1 rep max higher than 140#. Go Figure.

Sunday Food
Breakfast: 2 hard-boiled eggs, bacon, tomato and avocado slices. Yum!

Breakfast was late, then I went for a run, so I had an early dinner...

Dinner: Rotisserie chicken with Romaine lettuce and sliced tomato

Sunday Workout: 3.0 mile run that was pretty rough as my legs were very sore!

September 13, 2014

Paleo Challenge Part Two (the Part During) - 5

Another few days sticking to Paleo. It's funny, I'm tempted at times to "cheat" and have something that isn't Paleo. But then, I think..."nah, don't do it...make it one more day" and I pass on it. I still miss cheese though. And Margaritas. :)

I guess when I think about veering, I can remember this...

Wednesday Food
Breakfast: 3 pieces of crisp cooked bacon

Lunch: 2 hard boiled eggs, fresh salad veggies with no dressing and some grilled chicken

Dinner: 4 oz hamburger with Romaine lettuce with salsa

Wednesday Workout was CrossFit. A WOD called "King Kong" and yes...it was hard like that. :)

Thursday Food

Breakfast: Banana (I was running late)

Lunch: Chicken breast, Romaine and another banana

Dinner: Tuna Steak, grilled along with some bacon (6 pieces) and romaine with salsa.

Nighttime snack: raspberries

Thursday Workout -- I took a rest day from working out.

Friday Food
Breakfast: New York strip steak and 3 eggs

Lunch: I went to Chipotle and got a salad that had no rice or beans, but did have the grilled vegetables and the steak along with the tomato salsa and guacamole. How much do I LOVE that Guacamole is Paleo? (very very much, actually)

Dinner: Craig had made tacos, so I had taco meat on lettuce with tomatoes and salsa and a few black olives.

Friday Workout was CrossFit which included lots of Split Jerks and Push Presses, then a double-WOD. It was a good/hard workout!

September 11, 2014

Weight Watchers Wednesday (23) -- Thoughts on Before/After

I know, it's Thursday. But, I wanted to get my monthly weigh-in with Weight Watchers At Work before I posted. Also, this will be a nice little break from Paleo Challenge posts!

I attended the At Work meeting today and weighed in for September at 159.8. That is 0.6 more than last month's weigh-in, but still under my goal weight of 160.

I have been thinking a lot about this weight loss thing the past week. Mostly, I have been thinking about my mindset before and my mindset now.

You know what? I used to be one of those people who would say, "BMI is crap. That is an unrealistic weight for someone with my build and my height." Or, I would say, "I just can't get under 170 pounds. It's just impossible."

I would say those things because I hadn't achieved that BMI in a healthy way in all of my adult life. And honestly, I think my peak fertility must be somewhere under 170, because any time I did actually lose enough weight to be under 170, I got pregnant as soon as we tried.

When I think back to how my mindset, I am sad at how defeated I must have been. I had been overweight for so long, that I had simply convinced myself that God made me this way, and I should just be happy with myself.

In the meeting today, the topic turned toward "What brought you to Weight Watchers?" or what was the main motivation or the catalyst where we decided, "Hey, I'm going to (re)join Weight Watchers and lose this weight!"?

As I reflect on this last time that I rejoined Weight Watchers, I focused on what was going on:
All of those factors gave me this feeling of, "I have to do this and I have to do it now." With five active children, I desired to be healthy and active so that I could keep up with all of their activities. I wanted to be healthy so I could take care of Craig, and be there for him as we continue to grow older, raising our family. I wanted to regain the fitness I knew I had when I was younger. I know I'll never be as flexible and strong as I was when I was 18, but I want to be as flexible and fit and strong as I can be at 40 and beyond.

I may have written this before, but my commitment level as I rejoined Weight Watchers on October 31 last year is unlike anything else I had to grab ahold of before that. I had joined Weight Watchers several times in the past 15 years as well as attempted other diets to try and lose weight...but never before last year did I have that desire burning inside.

Honestly, I didn't know if I could do it. I worried I would fail yet again. For the first time, I followed the WW leader's advice and set my first goal for just 5 pounds. Then I set it for 10% body weight, then I kept chipping away with manageable goals. Then, I was amazed when I'd hit the healthy range and maintained it for 6 weeks and achieved Lifetime Status.

And now, I'll be honest with you. I am shocked when I realize I have maintained for four months. Every time I have ever lost weight in the past, I have either gotten pregnant or gained weight within two months of getting to a good weight. Right now, every month, my goal is to get to the next month and still weigh-in at or below my goal weight. I haven't even contemplated "a year at Lifetime." Just "one more month." And every month, I'm happy that I've made it one more month.

I share this with you all because I think sometimes it's easy to forget that the person you see in front of you was the person she used to be. I used to be that woman who thought she was destined for an overweight existence. I used to be that woman who thought she couldn't face another day of shopping and being disappointed when nothing she liked fit. I used to be that woman who worried that her health would fail her at some point and leave her husband and children to move on in life without her.

And now.

Now, I see that it was possible and always was possible. Now, I still don't shop much, but it's not because I'm afraid of the dressing room. Now, I continue to make healthy lifestyle choices and I teach my children. I was so proud of Helen recently when she turned away a second helping and had slowed down her eating and told me, "I don't want any more. I feel full." Over the course of these last few months, Helen and I have had several talks about healthy choices, eating slowly and listening to our bodies. If I can say in 20 years that my baby girl (who is my mini-me in so many ways) has ventured on in adulthood at a healthy weight with a healthy body image intact and good healthy habits -- oh my gosh -- I believe that will be one of the main successes from this endeavor of the past year.

So, yeah. 4 months at Lifetime with Weight Watchers. Here's to the next monthly goal.

September 10, 2014

Paleo Challenge Part Two (the Part During) - 4

30-day Paleo Challenge Accountability post.

Monday Food
Breakfast:  3 hard-boiled eggs, 3 slices of bacon, 2 sausage links (17 PointsPlus)

Lunch: A bunch of romaine lettuce, 4 slices of cucumber, some bacon, black olives (no dressing) and a small piece of chicken breast (about 4 oz) (7 PointsPlus)

Dinner: Totally missed dinner. Can't believe that! But I fed the kids, then went to a school board meeting. by the time I got home, the kitchen was still a mess and kids needed to be put to bed. So I did all that and just thought, "Screw it" because I had just cleaned up the kitchen and didn't want to make another mess to clean up.

Monday Workout: CrossFit Hero WOD "Abbott" which was included a 1 mile run, 21 Clean & Jerks at 95# (Rx was 105#, but I wasn't feeling that brave), then 1/2 mile run, then 21 Clean & Jerks at 95#, then another 1 mile run. That was a hard workout. I was very happy it was OVER!!

Tuesday Food
Breakfast:  3 hard-boiled eggs, bacon (12 PointsPlus)

Lunch: I am actually pretty proud of myself about this one. I had a lunch meeting with our executive vice president and it was served in the Executive Dining Room. AND I was able to stay Paleo! I had a bowl of fresh fruit and then ordered the 6 oz filet. The steak was served with a pilaf, but I left that alone. They brought plates of cookies to pass around for dessert, but I simply declined. Water and iced tea (unsweetened, thank you very much) to drink. I had been sweating this particular meeting not knowing if my options would serve me to stay Paleo, but they did! woo-boo! (14 PointsPlus for the Filet)

Snack: Almonds (6 PointsPlus)

Dinner: baked chicken breast and steamed broccoli and carrots. (10 PointsPlus for 10 ounces chicken)

Tuesday Workout: CrossFit. Did a bunch of snatches, working on form, so I've lowered the weight. The WOD was a combination of ladders, one descending and one ascending, doing Overhead squats and Ring Rows (a scaled version of pull-ups).  Later in the evening, I just got on the treadmill while Dani was at swim practice. It didn't go too well, so after a couple miles, I just did a few dead hangs to work on my grip strength and called it a day.

It's officially been a week. I don't think that I have lost any weight, but my stomach is not as bloated. I am not sure if I've noticed that when I've gone Paleo before. 

I have my monthly weigh-in at Weight Watchers tomorrow. I will not have any problem maintaining my Lifetime Status I am pretty certain and that makes me happy!! :)

Haha found this one:


September 8, 2014

Paleo Challenge Part Two (the Part During) - 3

The next Paleo Challenge accountability post.

Saturday Food

Breakfast/Lunch: Bacon, 3-egg omelette with mushrooms and red bell peppers. (12 PointsPlus)


Snack: Almonds (6 PointsPlus)

Dinner: Chicken Breast and Asparagus (7 PointsPlus)

What I missed on Saturday. I realized as I made the omelette that I really do miss cheese. I can make it 30 days without cheese, no problem, but I know I'll be having some when this 30 days is over. I love cheese. Then Saturday night after we got the younger four in bed, Sarah and I settled in to watch Friends and I realized that I missed popping popcorn, or having some sort of salty/crunchy snack.

I think it's important to take the time to recognize the things we miss. Right now, it's worth it for me to continue to forego those things. But it isn't ALWAYS worth it to me, so that is why I will most likely eat them again in the future. Just maintaining the balance -- it is always the challenge.

Saturday Workout: I didn't do an official workout. I did quite a bit of cleaning, that most likely burned some calories, but nothing like my CrossFit workouts.

Sunday Food

First of all -- slept in until 9:30! that is such a great feeling.

Breakfast:  Bacon and 3 hard-boiled eggs (9 PointsPlus)

Missed lunch due to getting the family out for Sarah's volleyball tournament matches.

Early Dinner: It was taco night. Craig found a Paleo soft-taco-shell recipe that he tried for me. I asked him what was in it and he said: Egg whites, some coconut flour, chili pepper and some other spices. the texture was such that it was clear it was eggs, but it tasted good with the taco toppings. It wasn't something I could pick up and eat though, used the fork. I only had one of those. After that, I threw in the lettuce, tomatoes, meat, few black olive slices and salsa and just ate that. It was good. The things I missed were sour cream and cheese, but again, it was worth it to pass on those for this 30-day challenge. (I'm gonna say the Paleo soft-taco-shell was probably 2 points and the taco meat I ate was probably 10 points, but the rest was free and so 12 PointsPlus)
It was pretty good!!
Snack: Almonds (6 PointsPlus)

Sunday Workout: Another rest day. I toyed with the idea of going for a run in the morning, but decided to get laundry going and get the kids ready for volleyball instead. Overall, I think it was a smart move. Back to the workouts in the morning!

One other thing I thought I would note. I've been listing the PointsPlus values for the food and I've been between 26-35 points each day. This shows that eating this way is compatible with Weight Watchers both for losing weight and for maintenance. I love seeing that. Often I used to worry if I ate all that protein, I'd go over on points or something, but so far that has not been the case.

Until Wednesday!