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...