Friday, June 28, 2013

My Take-Away From Potty Training My Son

I spoke with a co-worker about potty training her daughter a couple weeks ago, but after another mother at my son's daycare expressed her ongoing struggle with potty training her son, I thought perhaps I should share some of my own experiences and tips.

Though my son was potty trained a few months ago, I feel fortunate in a number of ways.  He never developed some of the fears that other children do at one point or another.  He never seemed to think his winkie would break off or fall off, a very real fear if the child never sees Daddy sit on the toilet without having such a terrifying occurrence befall him.  He also never seemed to be afraid that his poop was a piece of him that will be flushed away, which is such a large concern to some children that they end up 'holding it in' which can end up with constipation, blockages, and may even lead to intrusive surgeries.

No... I'm lucky my son hasn't had either fear, and I chalk it up to a few things...
  1. As I mentioned above, my son saw my husband go potty.  We felt it was important for our children to see that Mommy and Daddy use the toilet so it might not be too scary for them.
  2. When he would go #2 in the big potty, I applauded him..  I told him that his poopie liked being flushed because that's how it goes to poopie school and how it gets to see all it's friends.  I then had us wave goodbye to the poopie and say, "Have fun!  See you later!" as we flushed the toilet.  If he used the little potty for #2, I wear a serious and sad (but not disappointed) expression and say, "Oh dear.  Now the poopie can't go to school and is sad."  If my son asked why, I'd say, "You like going to school, right?  You get to have fun and see your friends.  Poopie wants to go to see his friends too."  Thus, my son was never afraid that we were flushing pieces of himself down the toilet.  And poopie would always be back, happily waiting to go into the toilet again.
  3. We had several options for him to use.  He could use the little potty in nearly any room he liked or he could use the "big potty" (aka. toilet) with his choice of training seat.  As he grew accustomed to the concept of using one of these potty choices, I steered him towards using the toilet, and it was clear he was potty trained, I took the little potty out of the picture.  I told him that he's a big boy and that he doesn't need the little potty anymore... That it's for little boys and girls who still wear diapers, like his little sister.
One thing I would not recommend unless on a trip or a long drive... Pull-Ups.  Those things are the devil.  I firmly believe that for some kids (like my son), they delay potty training by giving the look of underwear with the lazy safety of diapers.  Some kids just don't feel terribly uncomfortable by the pull-ups that become cold when sullied.  Some kids don't care if the image disappears on the pull-up.  If they can keep having fun and then have someone clean their butts for them, then why bother being inconvenienced by the toilet (and self wiping).  It's when my husband and I decided that we were done with the delay and told our son that there would be no more pull-ups that we finally had some progress.  If nothing else, embarrassment of wetting oneself a few times would definitely help with the learning process, and a sullied pair of cotton underwear and pants is far less comfortable than any sullied pull-up.

Oh... and even though bribing the kid with rewards (or should I say rewarding the kid with small toys, temporary tattoos, stickers, etc) might hep the process, it's only does so much... Especially if the child is clever enough to realize that they can milk it by sometimes being successful using the potty and sometimes not quite succeeding.  I wouldn't be surprised if my son saw that my husband and I don't get prizes when we use the potty, and we never wear diapers or have accidents... So the only way to keep getting these prizes is to sometimes use the potty and sometimes sully his pull-ups.  Even with only getting the prizes after a full day of not sullying himself, he'd end up having one clean day and then one sullied day.  I wouldn't put it past him to play the system... Kids can be deviously clever!

Now to start getting my daughter start using the potty too...

No More Shirking!

I'm going to be honest... the reason I haven't taken my measurements since early May is because I was scared to see how bad I have been.  My weight has fluctuated, but not much.  Last week, I was back to 171.  That's not nearly as good as the 168.3 I had achieved before I started to slack off, but it's not nearly as bad as the 176.5 I was in January.

Today, I took my measurements.  Granted, I did jog this morning, which may have caused my muscles to be a little swollen.  This would make my measurements a little off (which had happened in the past).  I'm not terribly pleased with what I had gained back in inches, but it's not as bad as it could have been.  It's hard... But as the image to the left says, I will try not to focus on losing weight or losing inches as much as what I'm gaining through exercising and gently changing my eating habits.  This also gives me the chance to have a very specific goal, which ironically does focus on losing.  My goal for July is to get back to the the lower measurements I had at the beginning of May or to be even lower.  Really, this is just to give me a very clear destination, something to drive me to build the necessary habits to achieve those numbers.

So far, I've done my morning jog three days this week.  I plan to jog both Saturday and Sunday as well.  My break days might be on Wednesdays.  I may also do some of my interval training videos which would add strength training or I'll use some of the beginner weight lifting routines I've found online.  Jogging was my priority because it is something I had to make time for... and once time was made for it, how hard can it be to simply tack on 20 or so more minutes in order to do weights?

For these jogs, I follow some of the tips I've read online; they seem to help.  The main thing I'm doing is being as firm with myself as I would be with my kids.  I have to use my 'mommy voice' on myself when my alarm goes off.  Since I have already semi-established the habit of getting up before my husband or children, usually by a half hour to an hour, it hasn't been hard to get into my new morning pattern.  Now my alarm is set a little earlier (around 5:40am) and I don't reset my alarm (which I'm prone to do) or hit snooze (which I did not do).  When my alarm goes off, I get the heck out of bed and I don't give myself the chance to make excuses.  I simply get up, relieve myself, grab a piece of fruit and water, get into my workout clothes and walk out the door.  When my jog is done, I usually have a decent amount of time before everyone else wakes up.  I use that time to let my body cool down while I brew coffee, make my breakfast while a show is playing on my laptop, and maybe take a moment to look around online.  Then I take a quick (or long) shower, maybe start putting on some of my work clothes, wake up my husband and continue with my morning-work-prep while helping out with the kids when necessary.

What I've noticed thus far...

I don't have an obvious exercise 'high' during or after the jog; it can take at least a week, possibly two, before that kicks in.  I yawn during my jogs, but the amount of times are steadily decreasing.  I am starting to look forward to the early morning exercise, which may be the slight start of my body getting the endorphin 'high'.  I'm also noticing that I'm getting better with each set, but I'm forcing myself to be patient.  I don't want to hurt my ankles by pushing myself like I did in the past.

But what I really like is that my morning jogs give me just a little bit more "me time" before the demands of work and family kick in.  I'm doing this for me.  The only person making this demand of me is ME.  My mornings are a little more structured in some ways and a little more relaxed in others, especially after the run.  And I feel a bit better about myself; I'm getting some exercise in so early (before life and/or excuses get in the way) that I don't beat myself up for not following through.

To me, this isn't so much about commitment or willpower.  It's about me making the process too difficult to simply shirk.  So far, it's working.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

At the crack of dawn... Ugh...

This week, I started jogging in the mornings before work.  So far, it's not up to my every workday goal, but it's a start.  I jogged on Tuesday and today and plan to do so tomorrow as well.  A 5 minute walk to warm up, then sets of 1 minute jog and 4 minute walk (for the time I'm out, which is a min of 30 minutes, max of 1 hour), a 4-5 minute walk to cool down, and then approx 5 minutes of stretches (15 seconds for each position).  I'm not feeling the mood shift, at least not an obvious one, but I feel good about getting a cardio workout done before I start the day.  If I don't get any other chance to workout, at least I did something more than my mid-day walk (which is more leisure than exercise).  I may start adding some strength training in too, once I get the jogging habit more firmly in place.

An issue I have is that I'm not getting enough restful sleep.  Last weekend was a bad sleep weekend.  Sunday night I stayed up to spend some time with my husband.  Monday I think my mind was a little too focused on getting up to run early because I kept waking up throughout the night.  Tuesday night I had sick kids to contend with and then last night I had the same issue as Monday night (waking up several times thinking it was time to jog).  My body and mind will adjust, I'm sure.  If or when my husband gets a day job, I may shift my jogging to later in the day, simply because the muscles are looser and warmer later in the day, making it a safer time (physically) to jog.  Then again, hubby was home yesterday and I didn't get my jog in... so perhaps it would have to remain a part of my morning routine...

I've started a Work-Out Accountability Calendar where I can track my workouts more visibly.  If I have to show what I'm doing, then perhaps I will make more progress.  It would also make it easier for me to figure out workout days without needing to refer to my date book (which I should also write the workouts in as well). I also created a Daily Food Calendar, so I can try keeping semi-track of my food again, but in a more comfortable manner.

Below are more fitness links I looked through and will be looking through again while working towards my goals.

Weight Lifting Womens Strength Training Guide
Niashanks: Lift Like a Girl - Women's Beginner Strength Training Guide 11 Beginner Strength Training Tips For Women/

Runner's World: To Eat or Not to Eat - how to handle the morning run Tips For Running in the Morning
Health (on the run): My (not so secret) Key to Morning Runs
Video from Proper Running Form

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


From my private fitness entry "Roleplay into Reality" on October 5, 2011:
Would healthier me drink sodas?  Very likely not.  Not even on occasion, though if she did, she wouldn't be upset about it.  Would healthier me eat cheese balls?  No way!  Would healthier me do her workouts three nights a week?  At least!!!  Very likely more than that!  Would healthier me try to stay more upbeat?  Yes.  Is healthier me a "Super Mom"?  I don't really know.  She would do what she needs to do and do some of what she wants to do, but she wouldn't really see herself as more than herself.  No need for a "Super Mom" title.

Healthier Me would definitely not be doing some of the things Ordinary Me has been doing, but Ordinary Me has been improving.  Healthier Me would see the improvements and point them out to Ordinary Me, so why not remind myself of them?
Flash-forward to today... 

  • I don't drink soda and carbonated drinks (like seltzer) anymore.  My last soda was on 8/18/2012.  Almost a year!!!
  • I haven't had a cheese ball or cheese curl in a long time.  Can't even remember the last time I had one.  I do remember that I liked them, but I have no craving for them.  Didn't eat any at my son's graduation (though there was a huge bowl of cheese curls and the kids were loving them); I wasn't even tempted.  Pretty awesome.
  • I haven't been working out at least 3 days/nights a week, but I am still trying to do something.  I have been walking 30 to 60 minutes a day, usually 4 to 5 times a week, which is better than when I wrote the original post.  AND I am trying to figure out how to incorporate workouts into my schedule more effectively.
  • I'm definitely more upbeat.  I've been more flexible ('jellyfishing') about many things but also finding routines that work better.  I take my medications more diligently and have a system that makes this easier.  I find that figuring out what my priorities are really helped.  What are my priorities?  My children.  My husband.  My self.  My family.  Everything else has it's own place in the scheme of things.
  • I wouldn't call myself "Super Mom", but others have called me that, even just yesterday.  To them, I joke that I am "Wonder Mommy."  I know I am doing a decent job and am consistently trying to improve, reminding myself of certain mottos, inspirational quotes and suggestions, and so forth.

Wow!  Maybe I did meet my base goals from that entry!  How cool is that???   Compared to the Ordinary Me from 10/2011, my current Ordinary Me is actually my past self's Healthier Me!

So now... I guess I should start thinking about what my Healthier Me would be from the viewpoint of my current Ordinary Me... This is actually pretty exciting.

Fat2Fit, Ordinary Me to Healthier Me

I started listening to a new podcast on iTunes.  Thank goodness for free podcasts!  This one is "Fat to Fit" and I like a few things they focus one.  One such thing that made me think about Mom's struggles and achievements is...
We know from all of the research that losing weight slowly and changing your lifestyle to that of a thinner, healthier person that you want to become will permanently improve your health for the rest of your life...   Many studies have shown that the faster you lose weight, the faster you gain it back.
There's a lot of information I like from the couple of podcasts I've listened to.  They have a website with clips of the show, rundowns of the topics, calculators, recipes and so on.  It's and definitely worth looking through.

Another tip I gleaned earlier today is to live the life the thinner/healthier would live.  I wrote about this in October 2011 in a private fitness blog..  How funny is that?!?  I had no idea that this is one technique that people actually use or that experts suggest to help people build healthier habits.  I started thinking about "Healthier Me" some more today after hearing this concept repeated a few times on different episodes of the Fat2Fit podcasts.  I've been thinking about review some of the older entries on this blog and this just shows that perhaps I should do so.

I'm also thinking I should figure out what "Healthy Me" would and would not be doing to help me establish some more S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S – specific: this is the who, what, when, where, and how of your goal.
M – measurable: you’ve got to be able to measure your goal in some way. Otherwise how will you know if you’ve reached it?
A - attainable: if you really want to set yourself up for success, the goal should be something you can feasibly attain (i.e. winning the lottery so you can quit that job you hate is probably not a good goal).
R - realistic: something that you are willing and able to work toward. This doesn’t mean you can’t set the bar high — sometimes just fully believing something can be accomplished can make it realistic.
T – timely: your goal(s) should have a specific time-line; a date by which you want to achieve them. This will motivate you to get started.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Is there a balance to be had?

Enough is enough, and I've had enough (for now).

I haven't been regularly working out, though I've been wanting to.  I haven't been eating as healthy as I could or was, though I've been wanting to.  However...

I have been sorting through some of my personal messes and stresses.  I've been a shoulder for others.  I've been spending more time with my kids each night.  I've been sorting and cleaning more.  I've been doing a lot of other things that need to be done.  That's something to consider.  Granted, my health is a priority and sometimes it's hard to keep that in mind when so many other priorities are cropping up, but... there is a balance and health should not be brushed aside simply because other important issues and tasks start pressing in.

So today is a new day.  It's one day at a time and every damn day.

Some possible things I might implement to help me out with keeping my health in order, but without driving me crazy when other 'fires' crop up.  One thing I was thinking about doing is making daily goals and tasks.  For example, do X push-ups, do X squats, write down all expenses from the day, write down daily food.  I want to figure out my household budget and get my apartment in shape again.  But I also want to be able to have some alone time and creative time.  Who says you can't find a way to do all of this?  There has to be a way to do this without losing one's sanity and without facing burn out.

There's a few websites I found that touch on some of the household changes I want to implement.

In regards to paying off my family's debt, I found The Nesting Place Blog:  Becoming Debt Free & 6 Odd Tips That Helped Us.  I haven't looked at other parts of the blog, but I will be.  I also found another blog called And Then We Saved.  Both blogs are by people who payed off huge debts in a relatively short time.

For my health and fitness, I found 100 Most Inspirational Weight Loss Bloggers (of 2013).  I will be looking through them as I get time.  I'm also going to be looking through the What Did Jillian Say? blog, which has key points to the Jillian Michaels Show podcasts (though it doesn't start with the first podcasts, it's still useful).  I've been thinking about doing something similar, so it's a relief that I might not have to, given my time restraints.

I'll also be going through 100 Days of Real Food and trying to catch up.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Style is so much more

There's a certain point where a woman comes to her own.  Some hit that point in High School; some hit it when they are  well into their 50's or later.  There's just that moment where she just seems to feel completely at home in her own skin, that she feels the lusciousness of her being and the mystery of her soul.  A point where she doesn't feel the need to prove anything to anyone, even herself, when it comes to who she is, nor does she need to flaunt that fact either.  She just is.

Not all women reach this, sadly, but I'd like to hope that many do.  I honestly believe that most little girls (approximately 18 months to about 6 years old) naturally live in that stage.

I think I've touched on this moment in this past year.  Now, I may have firmly taken root in it.  Where fashion, personal style, self confidence, self awareness, and self acceptance finally become me.  For a short while, I tried to go back to the way I dressed the last few years, where I didn't really care how I looked as long as I was presentable and acceptable.  It didn't feel right.  I really only lasted a couple days before I went back to the newer style I've grown into.

In the last couple weeks, I've had several people comment on this (apparently very noticeable) change.  The most recent saying, "I've been watching you."   Creepy a little, but the elderly man is nice and I know he didn't mean anything by it.  The difference in how I am regarded by others is obvious, and I don't mind it.  I've had several people ask me where I find my clothes, accessories, and jewelry; they are usually surprised when I tell them that most of the items they ask about come from the same mainstream stores where they shop.  Perhaps that's the difference between being in fashion and having your own style.

Here's the thing...  My style is not to attract the attention of others; my appearance is just another artistic creation for me.  It's a story, a painting, a poem.  I sometimes wonder how others are interpreting who I am from what they are seeing.

There's this belief, that women dress for other women.  I've heard it go even farther with "if women were dressing for men, they'd be naked all the time."  But it was usually men that created the laws restricting how women can dress, and if no laws were written in regards to a woman's clothing, taboos usually existed (and were usually heavily enforced by men... though other women definitely had an influence on both).

For me, I don't dress for other women (or to compete with other women).  It's not worth my time or effort.  I tried it once (a friendly competitive game) and it was far too much work.  I do sometimes dress in a way I know will garner some attention, but that's not the driving force.

The person I dress for is myself.

It's nice when the way I'm dressing is appealing to or appreciated by other people, but that's not my motive.  I'm just me, I like me, and I have no reason not to express that fact.  I hope that my daughter and son see this in me, and carry it within themselves as they grow older.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Monsters taste like...

My son is scared of the dark.  He's scared monsters will come out and eat parts of him (like his ears).  It's a normal stage of development.

I don't like telling him that monsters aren't real, because to him, they are.  No amount of me tellng him that will change that reality for him.  I also don't want to tell him that real monsters are people who are very, very bad.  He's too young to be burdened with that.  I've heard of "Monster Be Gone" sprays, but I really would prefer the idea of him not being afraid of monsters rather than him just being 'protected' against them.

So... what do I tell him?

I tell him that there are no monsters in our apartment because Mommy eats monsters.
Yes... I eat monsters.  I like to eat monsters.  They are nummy.  Monsters taste like chocolate and chocolate is full of yums.

Here's the run down so far:
  * Zombies taste like shrimp; I cut them up and stirfry them with mushrooms and garlic.
  * Monsters taste like chocolate (which we just covered above).
  * Ghosts taste like whipped cream.
  * Vampires taste like coconuts.
  * Skeletons taste like candy canes.  (And I make ice cream sundays out of monsters, vampires, skeletons and ghosts because that is just the best.)
  * Aliens taste like lemonade, and I make smoothies out of them.
  * Evil Robots are taken apart to use as cooking pans and such.

I also sit in scary trees to hunt those creatures.  I like creepy old houses, because that's where those creatures like to go.  Mommy is one hungry lady.

I'd love to hear how other parents handle this sort of situation or how their parents did.  :-)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thoughts on food...

Working out has been set aside for the last two weeks, mostly due to my youngest cat dying and my my family catching a nasty stomach virus.  It honestly feels like I skipped my exercises for longer than that, but I haven't.  (I did workout on Monday last week.)  I didn't bother taking my measurements or my weight last week because I don't need any increase to make me feel bad and possibly demotivate me and I'm not sure I'll take either this week either... I probably should.

I watched a documentary called "Forks Over Knives."  Though there's a lot in the documentary that was eskewed (as the review Forks Over Knives:  Is the Science Legit? discusses), there are also some nuggets of information that is worth considering.  As with most things, it's good to take in the information, think crtically on it, research, and then see what seems right for you and your circumstances.

Lately, I've been trying to rework my family's eating again.  Mainly, my focus is balancing healthy eating with a lower budget.  My family has been eating less overly processed foods for a while and eating more organic foods, but within reason.  Some foods should be bought organic or avoided all together if you can't afford or find organic versions.  Other foods can be the conventional versions.  GMOs are fairly scary, so I would prefer to avoid those as much as I can, but I need to do more research on where they might be hidden (rather than simply looking at the price code sticker on produce).
Meats and dairy are a must, from my research.  They tend to harbor the most amounts of pesticides, artificial hormones, diseases, and so forth.  But they are also a lot more expensive than the conventional versions.  As for produce, there are a few tricks to figure out what to buy organic and what to buy conventional (though GMOs are also a concern with conventional produce).  Here's a couple of the tricks...  Buy organic if you eat the skins or they have soft/thin skins (apples, green beans), if the produce has a high water content (celery), and if insects are more likely to prefer them (berries, grapes, kale, potatoes).  Things like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and bananas don't need to be organic (unless you plan on using the banana peels for cooking).  Certain items, like berries, are so heavily sprayed that I've seen in recommended by nutritionalists that you simply do not even buy them if your aren't going to be buying them organic.  I will be making lists of what is okay to buy conventional and what should be organic.

I have been thinking about introducing more beans to our diet.  Limiting certain meats to 2 times a week.  That would cut down our costs a lot.  Really, we only need to eat one serving of red meat per week to get the health benefits from it.  I've already started eating more beans this week, roasted garbanzo beans in my lunch salad and such.  (And I've been taking in very hearty salads with little dressing or a mix of salsa, yogurt, and nutritional yeast as a flavoring.)

I've been looking at CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) groups.  Each year I debate about joining, and which one I should go with.  In NJ, there weren't many to choose from in my area.  Here, there's many, but I usually miss the deadline because I can't decide which to go with.  This year, I think we will finally do it.  It's a lot of money upfront, but breaks down to about $25 for things that cost far more at the grocery store... and it's all stuff my family tends to eat.  The produce might not be certified organic (except from one farm), but I've looked at the methods used by the non-organic farms and they seem very careful with how their plants are grown.  I've also looked into local meat farms and found several that pasture their animals, which is definitely something I prefer.  Price-wise, I believe these meats are close to the cost at Wegmans for their organic meats, if not less.  I want the normal grocery stores to become more of a "fill in the gaps" place for us.  The Farmer's Marken in Bel Air will also be opening in less than two months, and I want to start taking my kids to that as well (since they love helping pick out the produce and also eating some while we are shopping).

The fact my kids are healthy, are not overweight, and love fruits (and many veggies) means that maybe I'm doing something right with all this effort...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I'm sorry, but I'm all tied up...

It's been a while since I last posted.  I've been dealing with a lot of strange situations, both at work and at home, but life moves on.  My schedule has become a lot busier, which I didn't really think was possible.  It's good though.  Life has been pretty fine to me and mine.

I stopped working out for several months.  With everything going on, I just couldn't bring myself to continue, especially when I didn't have much of a plan for after I completed the 30 Day Shred.  I have continued trying to improve my family's meals, slowly switching to more organics and such.

** Right now, I'm watching my kids as they play and scream in the bath, covered in bubbles and loving life.  **

In the past month, I've gotten my act back together.  My workout time is non-negotiable (except this week!) and my weekend "me" time is non-negotiable (except last weekend!).  No ifs, ands, or buts.  If I don't have those times, I get a little closer to boarding the crazy train.

My workouts are cardio, strength, and core exercises.  Hiking is thrown in a couple times a month.  Noon time walks have become my reprieve from the office.  I've already lost some weight and inches and have noticed certain muscles toning and bulking up.  My goals are high: bench press 200 lbs, lift 50 lbs per arm, do 30 to 50 proper push ups, do 10 pull ups, and run/sprint 1 full mile.  There are a few other goals but these are the main ones.

I'm also trying to do all this while still spending quality time with my kids, make my jewelry, clean and organize, and more.  To give an idea of my average weekday schedule:
  • Get up early (typically between 5:45 am and 6:15 am) and start my morning routine.  Wake husband up between 7:00 am and 7:10 am so he can start making the children's breakfast and get them ready for school.  Continue getting ready for work, helping with the kids at times, prepping my meals (unless my hubby makes me breakfast), and then rush out the door.
  • Work, work, work... walk and/or exercise... work, work, work.
  • Exercise if I have time before I pick up the kids.  This is either with my co-worker, my oldest niece, or by myself.
  • Pick up the kids, feed them, spend quality time with them, clean up after them a few times, get them ready for bed, get them to bed.  All of this is done on my own (my husband starts work before I get home and gets home after we are all asleep).
  • Either go to sleep immediately or take a few minutes to myself before going to sleep.
  • Wake up a few times, either because of the kids, the hubby, or just because.
  • Start all over again.
This doesn't include the small things that come up (phone calls, etc) or the larger things that I am responsible for (paying bills, etc).

But life is good.  :-)