Tuesday, September 01, 2015

AM routine these days & other news

Lately I have been getting up at the (slightly obscene) hour of 4:45 am.  My current morning ritual looks something like this:

4:45 alarm
4:50 out of bed
4:55 coffee, check email
5:00 look at planner and plan out the day
5:10 read something with a meditative bent (previously Kabat-Zinn's Wherever You Go, There You Are and now Waking Up by Sam Harris)
5:25 journal/write out any thoughts on what I read and intentions for the day
5:35 change and go for a run (usually outside, treadmill if Josh is away) or workout (barre3)

On some days (like today) I might write a blog post in lieu of reading.

I am in the shower by 6:30 and the kids have been sleeping until closer to 7 lately*.  Although as soon as I write this I'm sure they will decide to stop :)

This routine looks slightly insane but it is working for me.  The tradeoff is that I go to sleep most nights around 9:30.  Annabel goes to bed around 8:30 these days, so my evenings are short.  But this is actually a pretty nice balance for me.

Once a week or so, I sleep in and skip everything.  And on weekends, I do not typically get up early because I am usually up later.  I have to admit I do sort of miss my ritual on those mornings.

Other notes:

1) 2016 HOBONICHI PLANNERS ARE UP -- as of today!  I've already ordered mine.

2) Annabel started her 2nd year of preschool (the "3s" class) and it was a roaring success.  She informed me that the two "words of the day" were focus and enthusiastic.  And when it was time for bed and I reminded her she had school the next day, she said dreamily: "I'm going to listen exactly to the teacher!".  She is NOT always easy at her current age, but when she is being good she is just so much fun.

apparently this is her signature pose now

3) September is going to be a month of NO lifesucking web surfing.  I have somehow managed to stay off of Facebook almost entirely, but other bad habits have crept back in.  A pact with Ana is in progress :)

* of course, this will end with the time change on November 1!  But there are 2 months to enjoy between then and now, so I won't think about it too much.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

11.5 months of paleo

Warning:  I talk about weight/BMI using objective data in this post, so if that bothers you, please avoid!

The beginning
On August 28 in 2014, I decided to try "going paleo" for a month.  Cameron was 6 months old, and Annabel was not yet 2 and a half.  I was still breastfeeding but had just stopped pumping.  (Of note, just thinking about that makes it seem FOREVER ago!  Also, I am still slightly giddy when I think about never having to deal with a breast pump ever again.)

I was feeling eager to get back to my pre-baby size and physique, and progress seemed to be stalled.  I felt like I needed a change.  A little back history is warranted here:  I have never been even close to the medical definition of overweight, as defined by BMI.  And I had reasonable weight gain weight gain with each pregnancy:  ~20 lbs with Annabel, and ~27 lbs with C.  However, I am very petite with a small frame, and a small # of lbs can make a huge difference (to me, anyway) in how I look/feel.  I had a BMI of ~19.5 prior to getting pregnant with Annabel, gained to ~21 in efforts to get pregnant, and then went back to ~19.5 afterwards -- for about 1 month before getting pregnant with C.

In August last year, I was stuck closer to the BMI = 21 mark, and didn't really like it.  In retrospect, I recognize that I was not being very patient.  However, I had remembered things moving faster post-A and was just very ready to feel 'normal' again.  I was also still rather sleep deprived, as C was juuuuuust starting to sleep a bit better but still wasn't making it through the night consistently.

So, I decided to try eating in the paleo style, and initially considered it a month-long trial.

Diving in
As it turned out, paleo had some benefits.  Most of them are detailed in this post.  To summarize, I felt less hungry/more satisfied, had more even energy throughout the day, and lost several lbs -- back to a BMI ~20 where I felt good.  Notably, however, this was during a period that I had stopped pumping (!!!) and Cameron had started sleeping through the night.  So it's a rather terrible experiment with a lot of uncontrolled-for variables.  (Important ones!)

I did enjoy the food, and really didn't miss non-paleo fare.  I found that fruit and 88% dark chocolate began to taste deliciously sweet, and more conventional treats were cloying.  I also noticed that my runs were slower for a while, but this did improve after >1m of my body getting used to the new eating style.  I did find myself needing a little snack prior to running in the morning (usually 1/2 banana and almond butter) and that helped.

I had some fun with it.  I discovered paleo podcasts (Balanced Bites and Nom Nom Paleo) and blogs. I expanded my paleo cookbook collection.

For the first ~6 months, I really enjoyed going all in and didn't feel the need/desire to "cheat" much.  I still drank red wine and ate dark chocolate, but that was about it.  It was fun.  I maintained my weight pretty easily (though I never got quite as low as I had gotten post-A -- perhaps because I didn't breastfeed as long due to C's preference for the bottle).

The honeymoon was over
A few months ago, for reasons that are unclear to me, I just started "cheating" more.  Sweet potato and plantain chips (yum) are gluten-free, but are definitely not truly paleo, and I was eating them fairly regularly.  I started ordered paleo muffins from a local baker, and while they are truly delicious, they cannot really be considered unprocessed.  My chocolate consumption increased and wasn't limited to the 88% stuff.  None of that sounds too bad, but basically I just wasn't eating as 'cleanly' as I was in the months prior.

Aaaaand unsurprisingly, I found myself with those few extra lbs creeping back on.  While "paleo".

The turnaround
When we went on vacation, I had some pizza.  And it was delicious.  And this, as well as noting that some of my clothes were tighter, triggered some objective thinking about my paleo experience.  I came to the following conclusions:

1) Paleo eating -- for me -- is not a magic bullet.  It is not "effortless" weight maintenance or loss, because it takes effort in the form of consistently clean paleo eating.

2) I hadn't done so badly the first 34 years of my life while not eating paleo.  Taking an eating tour of NC reminded me of all of my non-paleo favorites.  And I was not in any way "unhealthy" while I lived there, nor did my weight even fluctuate all that much.  I ran 4 marathons, finished a residency and fellowship, and don't recall having low energy or any other terrible symptoms from eating grains and dairy and gluten.  This really gave me pause.

3) It is significantly more convenient not to be paleo.  While traveling, at work, and when out and about, in particular.  I missed being able to grab a Starbucks oatmeal at the airport, for example.

4) Honestly:  I missed cheese.  And beer.  And peanut butter.  And toasted cinnamon raisin Ezekiel english muffins (yes, specific).  And other things, too.  And looking at restaurant menus with an open mind (what am I in the mood for, what looks good?) rather than a limited on (what "can" I have?).

5) I realized that life is short.  (It is.  Gretchen Rubin may call this a loophole, but I stand by this line of reasoning.)

6) I decided that I could incorporate some of the things I learned while paleo without being so restrictive.  There were things I really liked about paleo eating (here's a sample day, if you're curious).  Higher protein breakfasts, not restricting fat (!), limiting processed foods and sugar.  But I can still do those things without going all in.

The decision
So in the end, I decided I was ready to move on.  And so -- I officially quit.  I didn't last a full year, but almost -- 11.5 months!  I STILL want to lose a couple of (total vanity) lbs.  But I am not willing to draw hard lines in what I can/cannot eat, at least right now.  I still think paleo can be a great way to eat -- especially for those eating a lot of processed foods, or people who struggle with weight issues that are real and not just vanity.   There is a huge supportive community and tons of resources online, which is a nice feature.  Temporary paleo eating can also serve as a great reset (I wouldn't rule out trying another Whole30 again someday, myself, even though the first time was a fail)

End note:
One odd benefit of eating paleo -- for me -- was that I found that my itchy reactions to mosquito bites (and I get PLENTY of those living here!) were much less severe.  I do wonder if there is some weird cross reaction with something (peanuts?  wheat?  dairy?) and might consider getting an allergy test.  I'd love to isolate the component so that I could limit just whatever-that-thing-is rather than everything.

So that's it!
Any other questions?  Feel free to ask.  Has anyone else experimented with an eating style and left it behind?  Would love to hear your experiences.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Weekend / social life

Another Josh-call weekend in the books.  I still find these incredibly challenging.  There were many bright spots in this one, and also some longer stretches that felt rather lonely.  I am continuing to work on being present with those feelings instead of catastrophizing them.  But sometimes it's hard.

I did meet some potential new friends at the playground.  I need more friends -- especially friends with young children.  Honestly, it has come to my attention that I am struggling socially in Miami Beach.  We've now lived here 2 years -- so we're no longer 'new' -- and therefore I feel that I can no longer hold onto that as my excuse.  We have met some lovely people, and there are a few relationships that seem to be in the early stages.  But I still don't feel like I (we?) have casual friends to make plans with on weekends, or to invite over for drinks on a Friday evening even if the house isn't picture perfect.  I don't get many invites to things (rather pathetic to announce this on the internet, but it is what it is).

Part of it may be our jobs and our demographic.  Everyone is 'busy', whatever that means.  Part of it may be lack of effort on my part, although I feel like I have started to try a little bit harder.  We do have a lot of family around, and often that is enough -- I truly do love our family gatherings and visits.  I also think there are just some other cultural/regional things that are a little bit hard to get around, and our recent trip to NC sort of highlighted some of those things.

But we are definitely not planning on a move any time soon (or really, ever) so I'm going to keep working on it.    

Up on the table, wearing one of A's sneakers.  I think he even exhausted himself.

In other news, after nearly a year of eating paleo, I am going to give it a rest.  I will have to give more details on another post (maybe tomorrow!), but yeah.  I'm eating grains and cheese and peanut butter and white wine again (okay fine, I never really gave up the white wine) and it's honestly nice to be back to eating the way I did for the prior 34 years of my life.