I’m Still Here – Kinda, Sorta

Well, hello there, blog readers. I did not fall off the face of the internet entirely. I’ve started typing a few new posts, thought about even more in my head and have been reading along with some of you even though I’m not commenting like normal.

Last month the kids and I moved into a new townhouse about 25 miles away from the house I shared with Zachary. They still split their time 50/50 between the two of us, and I’m driving them to and from school in the “old” town each day they are with me.

The new place is quite a bit smaller than the house the kids still share with Zachary. No basement, either. As I think about the boxes still left at Zachary’s (how weird to call it his house instead of our house) that I need to bring here I freak out a bit wondering where those holiday decorations and old family memorabilia will go. I look forward to summer but question how the kids will fare without a huge yard to run in when they are with me.

The thing about a divorce is that nothing else in life slows down so that you can deal with it. It just runs right alongside you, laughing the whole time, “You thought you were busy before? Let’s throw some legal hassles at ya now and see how ya do!” I may need to pack and move and unpack and research new insurance policies and help my lawyer draft responses and figure out how to get the kids enrolled in a new school district and and and and and… but my kids still need their mother, my business still needs to run, I have the part time job I still work. I’m also interviewing for a new part time job at another restaurant since I don’t get enough hours at the first one.

Here are a few random facts I’ve learned this past month:

1. I have a ton of books. Like, a billion. Or maybe just hundreds. But it’s a lot and about half of them were in boxes in my basement I hadn’t touched in more than six years. College textbooks on literary theory, short story anthologies, poetry books written by my professors. And I can’t bear to part with any of them. Except The Help, Under the Dome and the Sookie Stackhouse series, among a few others. Those are definitely going.

2. I love 30 Rock. How have I lived my life without seeing this show? I’ve been watching it while I exercise or when I work at home and it’s awesome. In fact, after I hit publish on this I think I’ll help myself to a glass of wine and watch another episode. Long live Netflix!

3. I am still not good at dancing or Zumba. Still putting in the effort, though! You’d think after all this time tagging along with friends to the gym or to go out salsa dancing I’d have the moves down, but I may have to accept that I have no grace or rhythm. At all.

4. Budgeting when you don’t know what your expenses will be is hard. I don’t know how much to budget for gas because my driving patterns have totally changed. I don’t know how much to budget for groceries because I’ve never had my kids just 50% of the time before. I don’t know how much my utilities will be each month. I’m going to make sure I don’t gain a single pound because I don’t want to have to buy any new clothes unless necessary. I went thrifting and bought a bag full of (necessary) clothes for me and the kids for less than, I admit, I have spent on just one new shirt at the mall.  It’s going to take a few months in this new place with the new job to figure out my financial groove.

5. This winter is endless and that makes even die-hard winter fans grouchy. I do not love snow or cold, so you can imagine how absolutely blah this dreary weather makes me feel. Seriously, we just had record snowfall last Friday that canceled my kids’ field trips. It’s madness, and it needs to stop because I’m in need of some sunshine and the option to wear footwear that does not require socks.

6. Cooking for one is kind of a waste of time. When I don’t have the kids I usually eat oatmeal, eggs or a sandwich for dinner. Actually, I eat one of those for almost every meal when I’m alone. Anything that takes more than five minutes to prepare seems like overkill.

7. I have an odd compulsion to sign up for 5Ks. I think I’m up to four or five for this year. Never mind that I’ve never participated in an actual 5K before. As far as mid-life crises go, jogging slowly with throngs of others seems pretty tame.

So, there you have it.


Don’t Stop Moving

There is something to be said about momentum.

If you’ve found it, if you’re hitting your stride, if you’re in the groove – don’t stop. Slow down if you need to, but don’t quit.

Today I planned to work out. a plan I made almost daily over the last two years and managed to keep most of those days. Until March came around and walloped me with a business trip and a tragedy and I – stopped.

Yesterday I could have stopped again. I wanted to stop before I’d even begun. I felt tired. I had work to do. But I put on my brand-new black and electric blue shoes and grabbed the iPod and I stumbled through my neighborhood and didn’t stop until 45 minutes of sweat had poured out of me. My shoulders hurt when I got home and I felt unsteady.  Jogging after you’ve stopped jogging is not easy.

Today, yes, I planned to work out, a plan I’d made almost daily the last two months and rarely kept. I sat down to check the forecast because the sky looked dark and I think a part of me hoped I’d see “80% chance of rain,” so I could bow out of my jog with some artificial dignity. Checking the forecast turned into checking my e-mail which turned into me sorting some client contracts I had on my desk. I was the very opposite of momentum.

Then I reminded myself how good it felt to get out in the air last night and let my feet smack-smack-smack the pavement. I may have ended up dizzy but I’d done it. I didn’t stop.

Don’t stop moving. Take a rest or pause or call a time out, but keep those feet shuffling. Starting again down the road gets harder and harder the more time you spend motionless.

Written in to participate in Heather’s “Just Write” free-writing exercise at The Extraordinary Ordinary, this one was really spur of the moment.

Tips for Making Exercise More Fun

In the last two years, I’ve lost 45 pounds. That’s definitely enough for other people to notice, sometimes even resulting in people not recognizing me at first if more than a year has passed since we saw each other. A question I’m often asked after people compliment my diminished figure is, “How did you do it?”

I wish I could say I followed a magic formula, and I sometimes think people are hoping I’ll answer with, “I tried a miracle diet that had me eating six brownies a day and I still lost weight!” but the truth is I simply ate less and worked out more.

But this isn’t a post about how to lose weight. Like I said, we all know what it takes. Expend more calories than you put into your body. Easy.

We all know it’s NOT easy, though. It’s not easy to take that first step into a gym when you haven’t exercised in years. It’s not easy to find time to work out when you have children and the only thing you want to do when they go to bed is climb onto your couch, pour a glass of wine, and watch Modern Family. It’s not easy to look at the scale and realize you have so far to go to reach your ultimate goal.

Trust me, I understand. Last night I didn’t get my kids to bed until almost 9 pm.  I sat down at my computer and sighed in the quiet. Logged onto Facebook. Checked out Twitter. Wanted to head straight to bed. But I did it – 28 minutes of jogging/walking. And then I headed straight to bed.

The first step in the hardest. Once I’m working out I feel energized, and once the workout is over I feel satisfied and calmer. It’s just getting TO the exercise that’s hard for me, and I suspect for others.

So what do I do to stay motivated, and keep exercise a goal for most days of the week?

1. Buy pretty exercise clothes. I like to shop, and it’s nice to wear new things. Sometimes a $12 shirt from the fitness-clothing section of Target can be enough to inspire you to get out and go for a walk. Because when you look at that shirt in your drawer, you know you bought it for fitness. You don’t need to spend a fortune, but I do recommend that if you’re going to be running or jogging, head to a specialty running store where they can analyze your old shoes’ wear patterns and your stride (not sure if that’s the correct term, I’m no running expert, that’s for sure) and really help you get a good, comfortable pair. I currently run in Asics, one of two pairs the woman at my store recommended for me.

2. Go with a friend. I recently signed our family up at a local gym, and the same day I joined a friend of mine did, too. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to go with her as often as I’d like, but seeing her post on Facebook that she’s there taking a class motivates me to either head to the gym later or get on my treadmill, too. Even taking a walk around the neighborhood can be more enjoyable if you have someone else by your side for conversation.

3. Distract yourself. Some people love to run in the quiet. I’m not one of those people. I tried TV shows at the gym, but I need fast-paced music to keep my feet moving and keep me from thinking about how long I have to go before I can quit jogging already. It’s different for everyone, but most people I know who jog for fun tell me they listen to music, as well. Find what moves you (ha ha) and bring it with you to make the time go faster. Some of my recent adds to my playlist were Turn Me On by David Guetta and We Found Love by Rihanna, but I’m realizing I haven’t added anything new since January. Time to visit iTunes! See, another opportunity to shop. If you want my entire playlist e-mailed to you, contact me at everydaycommotion@gmail.com and I’ll send it to you for some ideas. Edited – after getting many requests, I added a post with my playlist!

Another way I’ve distracted myself is by downloading a virtual landscape app for my iPad. I know, you’re thinking that sounds completely unnecessary, but let me show you the view from my treadmill.

Yes, that’s the underside of the stairs that lead to our basement. Hardly inspiring. I could watch something on my Netflix app, but I prefer music. A few months ago I wondered if anyone had come up with an app that simulated running in better locations for people stuck on treadmills and turns out some people had.

The first one I downloaded was free and is called Treadmill VR. The bonus is that it’s free. But the video work is shaky and transitions are jagged. In one landscape, there would periodically and inexplicably be bright flashes of white light. I don’t exactly want to feel like I’m living through a nuclear event while jogging, so that was a major turn-off for me.

I then turned to one called Virtual Active. The reviews were good but while the app itself is free, buying scenes for it is $7.99 each. And despite liking to shop I thought that was a little expensive. But I really, really hate staring at the underside of my stairs, so I thought I’d try it out. They offer scenes from places like Northern Italy, the Swiss Alps and the Rockies. In the end I chose Los Angeles because it’s one place I’d actually visited and it appeared they had a beach segment, which appealed to me since I’m stuck in the middle of the country with no ocean near me at all.

The camera work in this app is much more professional. Smooth and scene transitions are not jarring. I worried I’d feel like I needed to jump over obstacles in my way (in some scenes the unseen videographer goes over curbs or rocks) but I haven’t fallen off my treadmill yet. Combined with my pumpin’ music, I found this app really did make my jogs more enjoyable, and the time went faster. My one little tiny pet peeve about the app is that in the previews it looks like you get several different scenes to choose from. But in reality any time you choose your workout length, the app runs through the same approximately 10-minute segements over and over. So I thought I could have an entire workout on the beach, but the beach part lasts just that 10 minutes or so and then is followed by a scene on the sidewalks in Hollywood. So that was a little disappointing but I still think it was worth the $7.99, and I may buy another city soon for some variety.

Here are some screen shots from my iPad:

4. Think of it as alone time. If you’re a parent like me, time to yourself is probably at a premium. I do often have to work out when my kids are home with me (DVDs or videos on Netlfix) and I often incorporate walks with the jogging stroller into our day when the weather is nice. But what I really love is when I get 30-45 minutes to myself to unwind by exercising. My gym has free childcare, which is a large part of why I joined that particular gym over others that had bigger facilities. I’m taking my kids there this afternoon, in fact. I feel like I’m setting a good, healthy example for my children, they get to play with other kids, which they love, and I get to zone out on the elliptical trainer for almost an hour without anyone asking me for a snack or tattling. Heavenly. When you focus on the bonuses of working out like this, it’s easier to want to get going.

So those are some of my tips for getting off the office chair and to the gym or the horrid basement treadmill. What do you do to stay motivated? What are some songs you love to hear when you work out?

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way by any one, I simply wanted to share products or things that help me get moving!

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I’m Not Jogging

So, I’ve lost a lot of pregnancy-accumulated weight in the last two years. About 40 pounds, which, for someone my height (short) is decent accomplishment. And I am proud of how far ive come on my journey back to my pre-kids weight, but I have an annoying sensation it’s not enough.

The day before Thanksgiving 2011 I weighed 135. When I graduated from college I weighed about 148 (but got down to 124 the year after), the day I got married I weighed 133, and the day of my very first OB appointment with Miles I weighed 145. So 135 felt pretty good, though I can assure you, 135 on a mid-thirties woman who’s had four babies does NOT look the same as 135 on an athletic, no-babies-yet woman of 25. And can I just add how depressing it is that those weights are ingrained in my memory, yet I sometimes forget how to spell Miles’ middle name?

Anyway, 135 didn’t stand much of a chance against Thanksgiving and Christmas festivities, and I’m back up to 140. My goal, loosely, is to get to 130, but I’m not as worried about the number on the scale as I am about the way I look and feel, and how my clothes fit.

Joined a gym with free childcare and tried it this morning. Wow, why didn’t I do this before? Jonah happily played with other kids for an hour while I made a fool of myself in my first strength training class. That meant an hour where I was not only getting fitter, but NOT listening to a tantruming two year old who missed his school-aged siblings. Perfect! When can I go again?

I also joined MyFitnessPal, a site and app you can use to track your calories and exercise each day, which I find crucial to losing weight.

I entered my breakfast for the day (eggs and a crumpet), my lunch (turkey wrap with hummus and an apple), and my cheating snack (chocolate covered almonds – hey, it could have been worse!) and even preemptively entered the glasses of Moscato I will be consuming at bingo to tonight. Yes, bingo. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

Then it was time to enter my fitness for the day. Guessed that my strength class was closest to circuit training, but when I went to add my jog on the treadmill I found they didn’t have my speed listed as an option.

That’s because, friends, 4.5 mph is apparently just “very, very fast walking,” not jogging, and therefore listed under “walking.”

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