I Think I Can Make It Now. The Pain is Gone.

(song: I Can See Clearly Now/artist: Johnny Nash)

Well hey there. My last post was met with mixed reviews. Some were nice (people that like me) and I was encouraged to "hang in there...give it time...you know you can do it". Others were, well, not as encouraging (people that don't like me) but rather a "shut your whiny face you spoiled housewife" type response. Everyone's entitled to their opinions right? If I were super concerned about the meanies, I would have chosen a less public forum to express myself. So there!

Now, I'm kind of a "everything happens for a reason" type gal, and I just happened to be strolling down the street the other day, when I bumped into a neighborhood friend and fellow fitness enthusiast, Dièry. He is a personal trainer and has a beautiful studio in his amazing Brooklyn brownstone. I actually had a few sessions with him in 2009 after I lost my Turbo Jam weight, and I can tell you from experience that Dièry is an intense trainer, but he's also very intuitive and knows how to call you (me) on your bullshit. 
Getting my ample booty kicked by Diery in 2009
So I bump into Dièry, minutes after writing my last post, and I tell you, it didn't feel like an accident. He praised my accomplishments and complimented my blog, which all felt great, but I couldn't lie to him when he asked me how I was doing now that I'm living in the real world. He told me to come over to the brownstone for a chat. (I should mention that the first time we met Dièry was at a block party for local business in the neighborhood. He was shirtless, wearing white linen pants and demonstrating all sorts of crazy yoga poses. The dude is in seriously good shape. My son was twoish-years-old at the time and was fascinated with the giant stability ball Dièry was using. My husband walked over to check out the ball, and before he knew what hit  him, Dièry had "abducted" them and ushered them back to his studio, where he stretched my hubby out on a giant log and told him he needed to focus on core work. After my fear that the incredibly buff black man was going to murder all three of subsided, it became one of my all-time favorite moments in time.) So my point is, when Dièry tells you to come to the brownstone for a chat, YOU GO TO THE BROWNSTONE. You might even get a nice stretch on a log.

So I go to the studio for a chat, but of course you can't just chat, you have to do some crazy awesome exercise his backyard fitness oasis first. He had me do a set of squatted rows, which felt great in my glutes and back. I love and really miss having a trainer! Then, I'm sitting in Dièry's kitchen and we're chatting about why I can't seem to get my shit together, and I cry a little - SURPRISE! He gets deep, we tip-toe around terms like Body Dsymorphic  and he voices his concerns about where my head is. He's frighteningly spot-on with some observations - probably because he's been doing this for 100 years and seen far worse crazy than mine - and he allows me to just get it all out. It helped tremendously. You know, he didn't have to do any of that, but it meant the world that he did. Thanks so much Dièry...

So for me, having a network of positive influences (including my OWN influence on myself) is extremely important right now. Well, forever really. I mean, why would I want a network of negative influences? I recently went back to my "mommy bootcamp" - Move It Momma - classes in Prospect Park and reunited with Chana Balk, the founder and leader of the class. Lady's got spunk. She's like 5 feet tall, curses like a sailor (never in front of the kids), holds me accountable and never goes easy on me. She calls me "Lady Butt Blaster" and constantly tells the other sweaty moms my transformation story - which totally makes me push harder. Chana is kind of my hero because she used to be a lawyer, then she became a full-time mom, but she always loved fitness and missed having an identity (hello!), so she first started a company called BabyBites, which was a great resource for me when I was an insane sleep-deprived mom to a small baby, then she decided to turn her love of fitness into a business; Hence, Move It Momma and now she's on her way to becoming a certified personal trainer. And I get to say, "Know her? I workout with her!", when she's famous. And I feel pretty certain that meeting her was no accident either...

The future is bright. I just have to follow the light.

We're Half Awake In Our Fake Empire

(song: Fake Empire/artist: The National)

Okay, I'm finally ready to admit...I'm a goddamn mess. I'm really having trouble assimilating my new self into my real life. When the test group ended, summer began. I left New York one day after the final workout and interview, then I spent most of the summer traveling to various relatives' vacation homes along the east coast. Wherever I went, I brought along my ankle weights and DVDs, and there was always someone happily willing to tend to my son while I maintained  my fitness regimen. My last week of summer fiction was supposed to be spent on the east end  of Long Island at my mother-in-law's house. I knew my fantasy summer was coming to an end, but I also knew that because my son loves spending time with his Gram, I would have tons of time for long workouts (and swimming and reading and sleeping) before heading back to reality. Well wouldn't you know that bitch Mother Nature sent that other bitch Hurricane Irene right up the coast and we lost power and water at Gram's house. I packed up my boy and headed back to Brooklyn, naively thinking that we'd be back in 24-hours. I was so very wrong. I was in deep denial the first day; I took my son for a fun day at Coney Island, all-the-while thinking, "So I'll miss my workout today. No big deal. We'll be back at Gram's tomorrow...." By Wednesday afternoon, three days of no exercise and three days of entertaining an active almost-4-year-old all day long, it hit me hard. NONE OF THAT WAS REAL! 

Even though I was out of the regimented bubble of the test group, I still wasn't technically in the "real" world. In real life, I don't have a handful of people always willing to look after my son for an hour or more while I run or workout. In real life, I only have three "free" hours a day to take care of household accounts - groceries, laundry, cleaning, other exotic chores - while my son is at nursery school. What the hell am I going to do? How am I going to maintain this level of fitness AND be a good mom and wife? How does any one do that? How does a "normal" person, with no trainer, no nanny, no housekeeper, no chef, find the time to stay fit while handling all of the responsibilities of a housewife?! The week of the hurricane debacle was a very unwelcome wake-up call for me. Because my son wasn't in school, and my occasional sitter was out of town, over-night I was spit out of my fantasy bubble,  back to full-time momming and I went without a workout for SIX days. The longest stretch since February. Now, I admit that I could have worked out when my husband came from work but I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to do that! Plus, if you've got a toddler, you know that after being on your feet from 6AM till your kid's 7PM bedtime, the last damn thing you want to do is exercise. So give me a little break will ya?

I can't seem to rid myself of the idea that I should be exercising at the same intensity I was during the test group. I'm struggling to find the mental balance I need to be happy in the present moment; Proud of what I accomplished while maintaining tone and good health. Instead and  I'm constantly thinking, "You can be better..." I know this isn't good and I'm trying not to be so hard on myself. I really am.

Last week, my son started school and I'm back to my daily workouts. Now I just live with an overwhelming feeling of crushing guilt because I want to stay in shape. How ridiculous is that? The average day, I take my kid to school, come home, workout for an hour, eat something, shower, then pick-up my kid at school.  And pretty much, nothing else is being accomplished in that "free time" so I feel like a terrible mom/wife, because when my son gets home, I basically ignore him so I can scrub the toilet, do the laundry, scour the kitchen for something that seems like a family dinner...basically I spend each and every day feeling like I'm 10 steps behind. Honestly, I didn't feel all that together before I got into shape, but since I wasn't concerned about making time time to exercise, I could at do all the household crap while my son was in school, then I was free to entertain and chauffeur him after school. So here comes my next challenge: maintain my drive to stay fit while balancing all of the responsibilities that come with being a housewife and full-time mom. Should be a breeze right?

On the food front, my diet is solidly OKAY - I'm very calorie and nutrient conscience - but I do imbibe a little more than I should. Not just for maintaining my figure, but for a healthy mind and body in the long run. When I drink, I always drink too much. And that's bad for a multitude of reasons. I'm very aware of the potential physical and emotional damage alcohol can do, so I keep it in check. It's hard not to throw back a few Coronas on the beach during the summer. And who doesn't love a cold glass (or three) of white wine at sunset? Now that fall and winter is fast approaching, I'll be faced with a new set of challenges on the booze front: holidays. I feel up to this challenge. I've seen the effects of alcohol addiction on many friends and family members and I have no intention of letting myself fall into that trap. I wish I felt as confident about my eating. 

God I miss having my meals made for me every day! The first week out of the test group was brutal. It got easier, but its still a daily struggle.  I try to eat 5 small meals a day - like we did during the test group - Now that I'm home and grocery shopping again, I eat simply to get the nutrients I need. I make meals very similar to the low-carb meals we had in the test group, only I have bigger portions (slightly) and I've added carbs. The crazy no-carb, 1100 calorie diet they had us on was insane. I learned to eat healthy foods and shop smarter. I just need to pull back on the booze, ease up on the snacks and stay out of the kitchen after 8PM. I think I can, I think I can, I know I can....

Okay, I'm sorry for being all whiny this time. Please know that I am completely aware that there are far more pressing issues in this world than whether or not I'll be able to workout five-days-a-week forever.  I'm not devoid of perspective. It's just that I did something that I never dreamed I'd accomplish and the let-down after it ended...well, it's kind of like postpartum depression. Except, unlike childbirth, I really liked the fitness metamorphosis. I guess I'm searching for a deeper meaning than "Hey look, I got super fit for a few months in 2011..." I know that my feelings of being overwhelmed by the daily grind of adulthood are not unique to me. I feel enormously blessed to have a life that affords me the freedom to be burdened with such issues. Still, I'm looking for a way to maintain the mental momentum I developed during those life-changing three months. Giving up fitness is simply not an option. In fact, I believe that continuing on this path, is exactly what I'm supposed to do. I think...

We're S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G. We're Shopping.

(song: Shopping/artist: Pet Shop Boys)

One of the down sides (and there are very few) of losing weight is the expense. After I lost my "Turbo Jam 39", I took a lot of my clothes to our awesome tailor Tony. My theory being that its cheaper to get things fitted rather than replace my entire wardrobe. You can imagine how jazzed he was about my weight loss, since it meant that I spent a several hundred dollars every new season. In December 2010, I took some winter clothes in for fitting. Tony told me how great I looked and that I didn't need to lose anymore because "a woman needs her curves". Did I mention that Tony is a man? A black man. The thought of me without hips broke his heart. Fast-forward to May 2011 and a return to Tony's lair with a pile of summer clothes that he had previously altered from a size 16 to a 10. I also had some never-worn stuff that I bought at end-of-season sales last summer - at last year's size 10. Tony is floored by my progress. At once impressed and sad that I have no boobs. But he's pumped that I've chosen him over a new low-budget wardrobe. This time, I cull through every single garment I own and really give thought to the things I'm keeping. Many items don't make the cut this time. Some of them never got worn after the last round of fittings so I decide to put them in the "donate pile". This time, I'm only keeping what I'll absolutely wear. This results in a 60-pound box of clothes, which I sent to a women and children's shelter in my hometown. 

I also finally started shopping for my improved figure. My friend Golnaz (who has a most excellent blog called Persian Bites that you should totally be reading) turned me on to my new favorite retail chain, Anthroplogie. Until now, I had gazed upon the pages of the Anthropologie catalog wishing I could pull off the looks I coveted. She gently nudged me toward buying something new for myself and boy am I glad she did! I discovered something: Shopping is super fun when you're not fat! On average, I'm a size 6, which I have to tell you, feels AMAZING! I walked into a Lululemon store to look for a new sports bra and the sales lady said, "Let's see, you look like you're about a 6." I had forgotten for a second that I AM a size 6. It wasn't that long ago that she would have had to say, "What size are you?" Because no one wants to hear, "You look like you're about a size SIXTEEN..."

So now, my closet is full of new and tailored clothes that I have every intention of fitting into FOREVER. Lord, maintenance is hard, but I damn sure am not letting all the money I gave to Tony go to waste! 

June 2011 - This little number has been altered three times by Tony. Like my pet buck?
August 2011 - Sporty new Lucky jorts paired with a size SMALL blouse from Anthropologie. Also, I'm blonde now. And my son has too many shoes...

Back in 1996, I was living on the Upper West Side and I had a blind date with a guy named Aaron. He was an okay-looking Jewish attorney, with a great sense of humor. We had dinner and drinks and I remember thinking, "This is going great. I'll totally go out with him again." So, as he's walking me back to my dorm, he says to me, "If you spent just three months working out, you'd be a total knock-out." Yeah. Super guy right? He followed that little nugget with, "I can tell by the way you dress, that you're self-conscious about your body." For my big date with Aaron the Douche-bag, Esq., I had chosen my favorite Banana Republic dress - one that I saw Monica wearing on an episode of Friends, thank you very much! I thanked him for his advice and asked not call me again. I never forgot how terrible he made me feel. I hope Aaron's wife has an iron-clad pre-nup in her favor...

Yo Aaron, How ya like me now? P.S. Suck it.