Today’s Running Truths

This will hopefully be an ongoing segment in this blog (woefully neglected this summer).  Since I’m trying to make running a weekly habit, I thought I’d keep a record of some of the thoughts that run through my head as I pound the pavement.

There is a house that I pass along my running route: my perfect, kind of fantasy house.  It is a ramshackle old house, and looks like a couple additions have been made.  The lot is HUGE, probably three typical parcels of land for a modern construction, and it’s filled with vegetable gardens, fruit trees, a big play structure for kids, and beautiful wild-looking roses and sunflowers…and then I get to the huge sign attached to the front gate, with the fairly damning hellfire and brimstone Bible quote hand-printed on pencil-drawn ruler lines.  I think, every time, “how can someone who lives someplace so beautiful put something so ugly on their front gate?”

I cannot think of a better place to stretch after running than my deck, lying on the ground, watching the clouds drift overhead behind the tops of the evergreen trees.

A quote from some sort of meditation track used in one of my favorite albums: “If you can love enough, you will become the happiest and most powerful person in the world.”


The Obligatory Weight Loss Blog Post, Part The Second

Here we go, finally, the climactic ending!

…Where was I, again?  Oh yes…

Jules, my old Weight Watchers leader, was staring at me from outside the diner.  A huge grin crept across her face and she raced for the door.

“Allison! It is so good to see you!” She remembered my name.  We actually went back to before Weight Watchers, when I had worked for a women-only gym and she had been one of my members.  When I joined Weight Watchers a while later, she happened to be working when I attended my first meeting, and so her meetings were an obvious choice for me to attend.

“Oh, eh, hi Jules! It’s nice to see you, too,” I stammered. I gestured to my daughter and weakly joked, “I guess you see that there’s a pretty good reason I haven’t been coming to meetings…”  I was embarrassed.  By this point I was pretty unhappy with the direction my weight had taken, and was starting to experience health problems because of it as well.  For Jules, who had seen me at the lowest weight I’d been at that point, to see me like this was hard.

Jules was appropriately enamored of Jade and talked about how much she missed seeing me.  She didn’t say a word about my weight, for which I was eternally grateful.  She hugged me and told me it was great to see me and she hoped I’d come visit her, just to say hi.  And she was off on her merry way.

I went home.  My knees ached on the walk home, and I thought about my mom’s two knee replacement surgeries, and my grandmother’s hip replacements.  I wheezed, and I thought about my dad’s lifelong asthma and breathing problems.  I sweated pushing the stroller, and I thought about the time when I could work out for an hour or more, five days a week, and not bat an eye. And then I thought about my little nine month old daughter, just beginning her own journey in life.  How would she see her mom? What would she learn about food, and exercise, and self-respect, and health from me?

It struck me that if I continued this way, I would be teaching Jade all the things I didn’t want her to learn – how to self-medicate by eating with abandon, that exercise was torture to be endured, that physical health didn’t matter. That I didn’t love my own body enough to take care of it. From that moment on, it wasn’t about being a dress size.  It wasn’t about being a weight.  It was about becoming a living example.

The weight loss was me saying to my body, “You are worthy. You deserve to be properly tended.”

You deserve to be loved.

So back I went to Weight Watchers. And I started moving more, fitting in the exercise here and there, only doing things I enjoyed. I took my vitamins, drank my water.  And then, funnily, I started thinking about my mental health. I started asking Mike to watch Jade more on the weekends, so I could have more time to myself.  I got out and saw more friends. I started going back to church. I knitted more, read more books, watched the news. And it took me until this winter, but I finally admitted that I needed medication to be emotionally sound.

The place I’m at now is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced as an adult.  I’m proud of myself.  I feel good. I make good choices most of the time, and when I don’t, I forgive myself and move on.

I like to think that the weight I dropped was really emotional baggage.  I’ll say it again: losing weight did not fix me. It worked more like this – fixing me caused me to lose weight. Even if I never dropped a single pound, I would look at myself and the way I behave now, and feel that I was a success.

The Obligatory Weight Loss Blog Post, Part The First

Here it goes, guys.  The whole world has been waiting, I know, on pins and needles.

When is she gonna talk about the weight she’s lost?!

All right, all right, I fully realize. You all have lives outside of Facebook and you most certainly have not been waiting with bated breath for me to talk about my own personal journey.  But I do figure that some of you might like to hear the story – how things got started, how I lost the weight, what’s happening now.

First off, let’s clear up a few things:

  1. I’m not selling you anything. Nothing at all. I’m not gonna tell you that you, too, can have the same results as me for the low, low price of only $20 a month for the rest of your life. Different strokes for different folks and all that rot.
  2. I do not believe that thin = happiness. Let me be the first to tell you: life is just as weird and screwed up when you’re a size 6 as it is when you’re a size 18. Excess weight might be a symptom of unhappiness, but it is almost never the true cause of it.
  3. I also do not believe that thin = healthy. There are plenty of thin people who eat like shit and never exercise.  Likewise, there are a lot of heavy people who eat right, exercise, and just don’t see the pounds falling off. If you like how you feel and look, GOOD ON YOU.

Okay, then, now that we’ve got things cleared up…

Jade was born in February of 2010. I had gained almost sixty pounds while pregnant, going from a reasonable 165 lbs to 220 lbs.  My wonderful OB never mentioned my weight gain in a negative way, even though I knew that I had gained far more than I ought to.  I’ve said before that I am not graceful in pregnancy, and I got pregnant after a long period of attempts at weight loss, so I took pregnancy as my carte blanche to eat as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted.  Candy, ice cream, fast food, pizza – it’s a wonder I didn’t get gestational diabetes.  There was more than one day that I baked a batch of cookies and then ate every single one myself.  It was my therapy, my way of coping with the maladies of pregnancy and the emotional freakout I was having about impending motherhood.

They say that breastfeeding can help take off pounds, and they were right! By the time Jade was four months old, I was within ten pounds of my prepregnancy weight and wearing my old jeans.  I had been eating a little more sensibly, and the extra calories burned by making so much milk helped a lot.

Those of you who know my kid know that she basically didn’t sleep for the first year of her life.  It was worst from the time she was 4 months to the time she was 9 months, and during that time I pretty much ate to stay awake. I was also suffering from hardcore postpartum depression, although I was in complete denial about that fact.  In that five months, I gained back twenty pounds.  A couple of friends got married that fall, and I looked at a family picture taken by a friend and thought, “Who IS that?” I was pretty much gobsmacked by the person I saw in my place.

The real moment of truth came when I was sitting in the window of our local brunch joint, drinking coffee and sharing a waffle with Jade.  A woman passed by the window and suddenly stopped and STARED at me.  I realized that it was Jules, my old Weight Watchers leader.

A letter to my daughter, on an unremarkable evening

Dear Jade,

Some of my favorite mommy-blogging friends tend to write letters to their children on important dates.  My friend Megan has written her son a letter almost every month since his birth more than two years ago.  Kate has written her three children a letter on their birthday every year since I’ve been following her blog.  I really admire their ability to mark those occasions with wonderful, endearing words of adoration.

By this time, you have probably figured out I am not one of those mommies.

So I wanted to take the time, on this unremarkable Tuesday in January, to tell you how much I love you and what a joy you are in my life.  You’re not yet two, and yet your sense of humor, empathy, and perceptive nature are sometimes so well-developed it frightens me.  The other day we were driving in the car, and you were smiling up at me from the back seat.

“You’re smiling, Jade. Are you happy?”

“Mommy happy?”

“Yes, Jade, Mommy’s happy.”

“Mommy happy. Jade happy.”

It seems like such a sophisticated concept – that you would be happy just because I was happy – but I realize now how much of my time with you, I have not been happy.  It’s not that I didn’t love you or enjoy your company, but my brain wasn’t working correctly and it made it very hard for Mommy to be happy about much of anything.  I hope that you will never understand how it feels to be depressed like that, but I know that given our family history you have a good chance.  It took Mommy almost thirty years before she admitted that her brain needed help to feel happy, and now, I can truly say I am.

Which is why, on this unremarkable Tuesday night, I found myself entranced, watching you play and playing with you.  We built block towers. You dubbed yourself “Super Grover Jade” and we flew through the air like Superman, capes and all. You told a story at the dinner table about the dog licking peanut butter off your fingers at lunchtime.  You cooked “happycake” with Popsy after supper, serving it to Daddy and me in my running shoes.  And you kissed us goodnight approximately eleventy bazillion times, alternating between us until we were all giggling and Mommy started crying from the sheer intensity of her love for you.

Honey Bear, you are becoming one of the most beautiful souls I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  I know you have made me a better person.  Mommy is happy because you made me need to be happy.  I couldn’t let the rest of your life go by without being able to enjoy you.

Love you, Tater.

Super Mommy

Well, that was unremarkable.

Umm, yeeah. About that whole NaBloPoMo thing.  Damn, I really tanked on that, didn’t I?

To be honest, I had a really tough month.  I sank into about the deepest depression I’ve ever encountered, and it sucked serious balls.

In positive news, however, thanks to the work of a very kind family physician and the wonder of SSRIs, I am back to the land of the living and smiling.

More to write later. I’m off to bed.

Skynet becomes self-aware

Okay, here is your toddler hilarity for the day:

Yesterday, Jade and Daddy were watching some videos on his laptop. We have had an obsession with mice lately, so he found this video:

If you don’t watch it, it starts with the mouse and then it moves to larger and larger animals, until it’s finally an elephant. When the elephant reaches the top of the clock, there is ominous music and then the clock crashes to pieces under the elephant. Cute, right?

As soon as the clock broke, Jade cried out, “OH NO CLOCK!!!” and was truly distraught. We have a huge old grandfather clock in our living room, and she had to be shown the clock to convince her that it hadn’t been broken by the elephant.

After her nap, she found her toy elephant and was carrying it around and worriedly saying, “CLOCK! CLOCK! NO!”