A Plan to Deal With Stress

The past several months have been stressful, to say the least. Work stress, kid stress, life stress, body stress, stress stress…it’s been a struggle.  

The month of April is going to be the apex of the stress. My students are working toward their two state-mandated standardized assessments that could affect my job, for better or for worse, depending on how they do. I will be taking an assessment and composing a portfolio piece for my National Board certification. My little man is busy busy busy all of the time. I have 6% of my body weight to lose. Plus my church life, my friends, my family, and my husband. And my sanity!

If I can make it to Derby, I will be okay. But I have to get there first.

Since I know that this upcoming month is going to be stressful, it seems prudent to make a plan to try and mitigate some of the stress. I have a plan for my National Board work. I have a plan and support system for work and my students. But I have to make sure I protect my sanity. How can I plan to not lose my mind? I decided that it was going to take forethought and organization.

Two things will help me protect my sanity more than anything else: staying healthy physically, and staying healthy spiritually. Both have to be intentional, which means I have to plan ahead and decide how I’m going to fit these choices into my day, rather than wait for a chance to fit them into my day.

For my physical health, I’m doing another round of 21 Day Fix. I’ve been kind of loosely following it since early January, but I’ve been too willing to skip workouts or eat crap when it suits me or I’m tired or whatever. I joined a challenge group for the first 3 weeks of April to give me some accountability with this.

For my spiritual health, I am going to stop snoozing as many times (why is snoozing so gloriously satisfying?) to be up early enough to read my Bible, do a devotional, and have some quiet meditative/prayer time before my day starts. I think I may start posting pictures of my quiet time/healthy foods/workouts on my Instagram every day to help keep me accountable. 

Following this plan is going to be essential to getting through this month. I just need to stay focused on my goals, especially the one where I don’t fall apart during the stressful times. I need to not be anxious, but give my requests to God, remembering that He cares for me.

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Derby City Date Night: Mussel and Burger Bar

The Bread Man and I had an overdue date night a couple of weeks ago. We actually had to postpone it because my father-in-law had some scary health issues that landed him in the hospital for 24 hours, but once we knew he was fine and back home, and after another long week at work, I needed some quality time with my other half. 

I’m always trying to choose local places for our date nights, and I usually want to venture out to places we’ve never been before. We usually have a lot of ideas between my Pinterest searches and my husband’s customers through his food-industry job, but this time I was craving a familiar menu.

Mussel and Burger Bar in Jtown is one of the best local places I’ve been to in a while. I feel like at this point it’s a mainstream restaurant for Louisvillians, but it is so good. The restaurant atmosphere is going for a unique feel, with butcher paper tablecloths and mason jar beverage glasses. Their menu is pretty simple and filled with gourmet dishes, like a C.E.O. Burger with fois gras. (There are also good, old-fashioned burgers for the les adventurous.) 

The Bread Man got a grilled chicken sandwich with the house pomme frites and I went with the C.E.O. Burger sans fois gras, with cheese, confit tomatoes, and caramelized onions. My meal came with steak fries, which were gigantic. Each one had to have been 1/4 of a while potato. It was kind of ridiculous, and it was just too much potato flavor for me. I much prefer the seasoning and crunch of their house fries or sweet potato fries. 

The burger itself was delightful. The confit tomatoes tasted like a gourmet ketchup, which sounds kind of weird, but it was my favorite part.

Mussel and Burger Bar always has consistently good food with great service. It was so good, I forgot to take a picture until my food was gone! Oops.

  

After dinner, we headed to the mall for a quick trip to one of my favorite stores. I got a cute shirt, but I probably won’t be heading back to that mall any time soon. So many teenagers! We actually walked in on a brawl that had just been broken up by 5 or 6 police officers. No thanks.

To finish out a great date night, I fit into a pair of pre-pregnancy weight! It’s nice to know that I can still see progress on my fitness goals and not have to be perfect with my eating all of the time.

  

Hopefully, our next date night will be soon! 

#21DayFix

I gained 54 pounds when I was pregnant.

Holy crap, that’s a big number.

Let me start from the beginning.  When I found out I was pregnant, I had lost about 12 pounds over the previous several months.  I was 2.8 pounds away from my overall goal.  I had run a half-marathon the month before, and I was running and doing resistance training several days a week.  I envisioned a pregnancy when I was really active, ate healthfully, continued to run races, and only gain the 25-35 pounds that are recommended if you start out at a healthy weight.

L. O. L.

I didn’t anticipate the mental aspect of working out while pregnant.  I was never really…comfortable.  I was constantly worried.  The first trimester, I basically felt hungover all of the time.  It definitely could have been worse, but I just didn’t feel good.  When I did workout, I was mentally struggling the whole time and worrying about the baby.  I knew intellectually that it was perfectly healthy to work out, but there was some kind of mental block that I just couldn’t shake.

I decided to wait until the 2nd trimester started and I felt a little better.  My doctor was really supportive of that.  But I already had a bump that just kept getting bigger, and I was working again, and I was tired.  I was on my feet all day at work, so I laid down when I got home.  And it was summertime, so I made homemade ice cream.  Yum.  And when I felt bad during my first trimester, carbs were the only food that I could consistently handle, and I continued that habit once I started to feel better.

When I hit the third trimester, I had gained an average of a pound a week.  Pretty normal.  But I didn’t account for being heavily pregnant during Thanksgiving.  And Christmas season.  And my birthday.  How is a pregnant girl going to turn down all of those goodies?  It’s just not normal.  Over a two week period at Christmas, I put on 14 pounds.  14!  That’s a pound a day.  It’s just not normal.

I still wasn’t working out.  I was too big.  I was too tired.  It was too cold outside to walk around.  It was too late.

My doctor was never concerned about it.  “You started out at a healthy weight,” she said.  “I only worry about the scale when you don’t start out at a healthy weight.  It will come off.”

And it did, at first.  I lost about 40 pounds by the time I went back to work 12 weeks after I delivered.  I was still nursing, and continued until my little man was about 5 months old.  As I weaned, I used My Fitness Pal to count calories and did the Couch to 5k workout plan.  Both of these methods worked really well for me before I was pregnant and I was excited to get back to my old self.

I didn’t lose one. single. ounce.  Not one.

I was devastated.  Truly, I was traumatized.  All of that effort, and watching what I ate, for literally no payoff?  What is the point?  So I stopped.  I hovered within the same 3-4 pound range for eight months.

EIGHT MONTHS.

That’s a long time to not lose anything.  Granted, I wasn’t really trying some of that time.  But still.  What the crap is that about?

Right before Christmas, I was talking about it with two of my good friends who were working really hard to lose weight.  One of them told me that she would let me borrow her eating plan booklet, but only if I asked for it.  She didn’t want to pressure me until I was ready.  The other one told me that when I was ready to lose weight, nothing would be able to stop me.  Nothing.

That was so empowering to me.  It helped me to shift my thinking from feeling like not losing weight was something that was just happening to me to realizing that it was something I was doing.  Or, rather, something I wasn’t doing.  So I decided to change that.

So I borrowed my friends booklet and workout DVD–21 Day Fix.  And I lost 5 pounds in a month.  It was hard work, but it paid off.  And now I’m still eating that plan and doing the workouts pretty much every day.  I’m not perfect, but I’m making progress.  I’m shifting my mindset and changing my habits.  And I feel better about myself.

No one is paying me to say anything nice about this program.  I’m pretty sure no one besides my husband even knows that I have a blog.  21 Day Fix doesn’t need my help–it’s super successful because it’s a great plan.  Eat clean, be active.  The end.

I’m still 8 pounds away from where I was when I found out I was pregnant, and about 11 from my overall goal–which is the same goal I had before I was pregnant.  But I feel better about myself.  I have more energy.  And I’m noticing improvements beyond the number on the scale or the way my clothes fit; the workouts are getting easier, my arms are starting to actually look like they have muscle, and I’m more flexible. Prioritizing my health helps me better manage my depression symptoms, too.  It’s a win-win-win for me and my family.

My friend was right–nothing can stop me.  And I’m going to keep going until I hit my goal.  I’m going to keep giving it everything I’ve got–and then a little bit more.  It’s about progress, not perfection.

 

More Snow Days…More Mom Guilt

We’ve had another monster snowfall in Derby City, and, of course, more days off of work because of road conditions.  For me, that meant some extra time to get some work done, as I’m working toward a national certification in my field over the next three years, but it also meant some extra time with my little man at home.

Snow days home with my kiddo are tough for me, partly because of the fact that snow days mean bad roads, which means I can’t go anywhere but the living room.  My little guy requires so much stimulation and attention, and it is really difficult for me to keep up with what he needs.  It’s exhausting.  I don’t even try to replicate the stimulation that his day care can give him, and it’s still exhausting and overwhelming.  I can only read “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” so many times before I feel like a crazy person.

The other reason snow days are tough for me at home with the little man is because this time of year is hard for me in general.  The lack of sunlight and vitamin D really takes a toll on my mental health.  I struggle with depression this time of year every year, and the pressure that I feel to entertain and educate my son makes that worse.  Or, the depression makes that pressure worse.  It’s a chicken-egg situation.

During these snow days, my husband and I discussed what we were going to do with little man during the summer.  Our daycare will allow us to take him out completely for the summer and keep a spot for him once school starts back up in the fall, which is an amazing perk. It’s part of the reason we chose our daycare. But these snow days have been really hard for me and have made me more aware of how much preparation I need to make for our summer together.  I don’t want him to be behind in the skills the daycare teaches, so I’m trying to plan out what I can do to educate him.  At the same time, I recognize the benefits of the social aspect of daycare.  He really thrives at his school with the other kids, and playdates here and there over the summer aren’t going to replace that.

We’re seriously considering keeping him in daycare part time during the summer, and I feel incredibly guilty about that.  It makes me feel inadequate.  Even though I know that I can’t do what his daycare does for him, and I know that he thrives so much in daycare, it makes me feel bad that I can’t do what his daycare does for him.  I feel bad that I can’t teach him what they can teach him.  I feel bad that I can’t replicate the socialization. I feel selfish sending my little guy to daycare twice a week when I’m off of work.  It makes me feel like I’m pawning him off for other people to take care of so I can be alone, even though that has never been part of our reasoning.

I’m trying to keep in mind that daycare is really, really good for him.  I’m trying to be realistic about what I can do for him and what I can’t do for him.  I really believe that keeping him in daycare part time during the summer is the best thing for him.  My husband is completely supportive about keeping him there part-time. And yet, I still feel incredibly guilty about it.

I don’t know what it is about snow days that stir up all the mom guilt in me. Well, yes, I do.  It’s because my little man is so busy.  He’s ridiculously energetic, and he’s teething, and he requires a lot of stimulation.  And I’m tired.  I’m struggling with my depression.  It’s hard for me to keep up with him.  It’s hard to pretend to have the energy required to keep him entertained and stimulated.  At the end of the day, I’m exhausted.  It’s affecting my moods and my ability to do other responsibilities.  And that makes me feel terrible.  If I don’t enjoy my son all of the time, especially on days when I get extra time with him and get to snuggle with him and play with him, something that other moms would kill for, I feel guilty.  It makes me feel like I’m not being a good mom.

But I love my son.  He is cared for and nurtured and loved.  He is healthy and growing and thriving.  I’m trying to remind myself that if my mental health isn’t prioritized in addition to prioritizing him, then I’m not as good as a mom.  It’s not about perfection.

Stay tuned for what I’m sure will be more mom guilt musings.  Hopefully it will be a while.