Stress & Potatoes

Important news from today first: I’ve lost a sack of potatoes! Not literally, like there’s not just a bag of them somewhere that I can’t find. But I’ve lost 5 lbs, and that’s how much a sack of potatoes weighs! I’m feeling super accomplished, and I’m starting to get some nice definition back in my quads that I haven’t had in almost a year. I’m also about to start trying some new dietary changes that I think will help keep my weight loss and fitness journeys on track, so in that realm I’m very happy and more motivated than ever to keep kicking ass so I can keep seeing progress.

On another note, my mind has been in a billion places at once for the past couple weeks. We’re in the middle of a lot of stuff and we have a few big things on the horizon, so any time I have a free moment—especially when I’m trying to fall asleep at night—all I can do is topic-hop from one item to the next, and it’s exhausting. I figured writing about it might help, or it’ll make me even crazier ‘cause then I’ll see it all laid out en masse. Only one way to find out!

I’ve already talked about M’s sleep regression madness, which has alleviated some, but still not perfect. And this week we have her 4-month shots and the transition to her big-girl crib (and out of swaddles), so whatever just improved is about to vanish. But that’s small stuffs.

Let’s flash forward a few weeks. In early October, I become a single parent for two months. Hubs has to go down to a training school in Florida, but because it’s for a “short” amount of time, he’ll be in a hotel versus housing, which means baby girl and I stay put. It’s for the best, really, because living out of suitcases for two months sounds pretty horrible with a baby, plus we have the catmonsters here. So now when he’s at work during the day, I find myself thinking, “Soon I won’t be waiting for him to come home from work, it’ll just be me and baby. All day. Every day.” And thus far in motherhood I have not been great about getting out of the house. Hubs and I are both satisfied with each others company for the most part, and I’ve been so wrapped up with this new role that I’ve found it very difficult to maintain the relationships I had before. Also, babies aren’t welcome everywhere, so there’s some stuff I used to be able to attend that I can’t anymore simply because I’m a momma, and while I completely understand that (and have even hosted no-kiddo events in the past), it still sucks and can leave you feeling like a bit of an outcast. Fortunately, the military community is ripe with women who have bebes, so I’m starting to join forces with those in similar situations to mine so we can all be less hermitty.

Later in October, Momma Bear comes to visit, and I am so excited to see her. She hasn’t been out since birth, and that was a very stressful and crazy time. It’ll be lovely to have her here and actually be able to enjoy each others company and have her harass our ever-growing nugget. Her stay was originally going to be a week earlier, but we moved it because of another upcoming stressor.

Last month, I went to a dermatology appointment to get a spot on my stomach looked at. I’ve had it for about a decade and just assumed it was a bug bite or scrape or something and the skin had just never healed right. Well it turns out it’s basal cell skin cancer (non-life threatening but still needs to be removed), and when I went for a follow-up so doc could do a full-body screening, we found another spot right on top of my head, about two inches back from my hairline. He biopsied it and that, too, is basal cell. So, on October 24 I get to have a Mohs procedure (details here if you’re interested) done to get both spots removed, and from what I understand, I will definitely have a temporary bald spot, and there’s a chance of a permanent one. I won’t know how severe any of it will be until they’re done with the procedure, because they test small sections of skin at a time until all the margins are clear (aka no mo cancer cells visible under microscope). So it could be the spot of black bean, or a nickel, or a half-dollar. Won’t know until we know. And the final size will help determine how the wound is sealed (sutures versus letting it heal on its own, with possibly some cauterizing to stop bleeding). The spot on my stomach will definitely be sealed with sutures regardless of the size, simply because of where it’s located. But again with that, I have no idea how big the final wound will be. All of this fun also means 10 days of nothing more than light walking, which is why mom’s coming later to help with heavy lifting and other odds and ends around the house as needed. But since exercise is my primary source of stress-relief and I’ll be in the middle of hubby’s absence and have a head wound and stomach stitches, I am not excited.

Lastly, hubs going to school means something very major is now in the foreseeable future. He was up for new orders earlier this year and once all was said and done, we were shocked to learn that we were moving to South. Freaking. KOREA. He’ll get back from school in mid-December, then we have a month of travel to visit family for the holidays, and then we pack up our lives and move to the other side of the world in January. We’ll be there for a minimum of two years, possibly three, and the reality of it all has been sneaking up on me more frequently with the passing weeks. I know military folk experience this all the time, but it’s a first for me and it’s just insane. We’re both extremely adventurous and I know we’ll make the most of the experience, but KOREA? Like, really? It’s gonna be a massive culture shock for obvious reasons, but in a second way for me because we’ll be living on base with less than 300 American service members and their families, which is less people than were in my high school graduating class. Hubs grew up in a couple super small towns, but I’ve lived in the SoCal beach cities (LA), Denver, and Hampton Roads. I have no idea what it’s like to be around that few people. We’re part of a FB community board for the base there and people post things like, “Does anyone have sweet eel sauce?” and “Someone’s red ball was in my backyard, I’ll put it on the porch if you wanna come get it.” They all know each other. Everyone. It’s gonna be like living with one giant (rotating) family, which has its pros and cons. Pros, close-knit, supportive, etc. Cons, no room for drama, if you don’t like someone you’re stuck with them, etc. I have no idea how I’ll feel about it once we’re there. Who knows, maybe I’ll love it. But I’m mostly afraid of feeling extremely limited and isolated. Moving to Denver was hard because I left half my family and some of the most amazing women I’ve ever known in California. Moving to Virginia was harder because I left the other half of my family and an environment that I loved. Moving to Korea? I don’t effing know. It’s scary though.

So that’s where I’m at. Awesome fitness update but huge stressors battling each other in mah head. It really is one day at a time right now, because when I let all those other things weigh on my mind it takes away from being able to enjoy the current positives, and I really need to enjoy this while I still can. Hubs hasn’t left yet, I don’t have a hole in my head yet, and we don’t live in Korea yet. I’ll try to remember that.

Keeping It in the Family

Fitness is a family affair in my house. My husband is extremely athletic—one of the many attributes that attracted me to him in the first place—and I’ve been active for the better part of a decade, so we mesh well. While he was on the track and swim teams in high school, I played AYSO soccer for five years and swam because I loved it. We were also both part of our respective high school marching bands (and don’t think for a second that that’s not a workout!).

Despite those early experiences, I didn’t develop a deep appreciation for fitness as a lifestyle until I was about 22. I had diverged on a rocky path for a few years, and when I came back around I found myself miserable and very out of shape, as I discussed in an earlier post. I was very surprised to see what an enormous impact changing my habits had, and over the years I would seek out like-minded people to surround myself with. I found that the more connections I had who shared this passion, the better my life would be.

What happens when people start a new workout routine, or are trying to make any big lifestyle change, really, is that they frequently don’t surround themselves with enough support. Any major change is extremely challenging if you’re trying to do it alone. When I first started those Jillian Michaels DVDs, I was doing them alone, then walking alone, then running alone. One of my roommates at the time would come out and sit on the couch so she could cheer me on as I jumped around like a madwoman, and another roommate a couple years later would walk out of her room one day to see me doing supermans (lying on your stomach with arms and legs extended and lifted) and muse, “Ooop, somebody’s flying in the living room!” To this day I can’t do that move without thinking about her and smiling (love you Shellbert!). I had encouragement, but it wasn’t the same as having a true trudging buddy to be sweaty and miserable right alongside me.

The times when I’ve truly excelled are times when I had an awesome support system—people who knew my goals and always wanted to see me achieve them. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always loved group fitness classes, because it’s an added layer of accountability. Even though I didn’t get super chummy with people, I still went to the same classes often enough that when I didn’t show up, people noticed, and often asked me about it when I came around again. But when I’ve had a particular instructor (yes you, Kim!) or walking buddy (Susan!) or training partner (Guin and Mom!), it’s fueled my fire to not just show up, but also to constantly improve. That’s why I feel like I lucked out so much with the hubs, because with everything I’ve experienced as a result of my pregnancy, he’s been my ultimate fitness partner and cheerleader.

It took a while to get back into my routine, first because I was recovering from the c-section, and then because I did too much too soon and got injured. But every step of the way, whether it was a short walk or a 45-minute cardio strength-training workout, hubs has been right there, telling me what a badass I am. He actually wanted to yell “BEAST MODE” during childbirth, but I vetoed that pretty damn fast. Yelling it while I’m doing 30 burpees, however, is acceptable. And now in addition to him, I’m also part of a Facebook group of fit gals who are all following similar workout programs, and I’ve made a point of posting regularly and commenting on other people’s updates. As nice as it is to receive support, I feel it’s uber important to provide it, too!

This past weekend I had the privilege supporting hubs as I watched him complete his first half-marathon, and I cannot tell you how proud I am. Despite my moments of hormonal envy as he trained his butt off while I was barely able to do a push-up, I made sure to tell him regularly how proud I was, and to keep encouraging his efforts. He’s a natural runner (something I very much am not), and he’s been wanting to do this race for a couple years now, so watching him finally reach that goal—and to keep an incredible pace the whole time—was very inspiring.

When I look at this lifestyle we’ve become so accustomed to, I think about our little girl and hope that she will learn from us. My mom was incredibly active when my older brother and I were growing up, and we loved to participate right along with her (including interrupting her laps in the pool by swimming under her, or popping up right in front of her at the end of the lane…we were clearly very helpful children). We also spent a crapload of time outside—riding bikes, climbing trees (and snapping branches and dropping things to make it sound like someone fell out of it…again, helpful children), rollerblading, playing tag, you name it. I want baby girl to have that same experience.

My focus these days frequently falls to what kind of example I’m setting for our daughter. I want to be the parent that leads by example, not just instruction (and believe me, I’m well aware that won’t be a flawless effort…but maybe I’ll hide in the closet when eating brownies for breakfast so she doesn’t see it). I want to raise her in a culture of fitness, so that it doesn’t have to be a struggle for her to develop that mindset later on. I won’t force her to play sports she doesn’t like or stick her in some dance class she can’t stand, but I will always aim to help her see the endless benefits an active lifestyle has. I hope that she can find a passion of her own, and maybe hubs and I can even learn from her and her choices. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to let her find amusement in us doing burpees, because one day she won’t find those quite so funny.