Reprioritizing My Health

Well, I’ve messed up like seven different forms by signing the wrong year on the signature line, so it really must a new year, huh? Happy 2018! If you’re on the East Coast, I hope you’re staying WARM — the temperatures have been insanely low this past week! Like, lows of 5 and 6 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrrr! At least it’s giving me a chance to show off Penny’s clutch winter wardrobe.

I used to live in Canada, so you’d think that I’d be a tough nut when it comes to below-freezing temps, but I guess my body has simply forgotten what it used to go through every winter, because I’ve been shivering a-plenty over the past few days.


Penny be like: It’s HOW cold outside?!
It’s kinda like how my body also conveniently forgot what it was to wake up every 2-3 hours at night with a crying baby, even though that was my life just a few short months ago. Oh, but DON’T WORRY. Penny has been thoughtfully reminding me of what it was like each night this week. We are definitely still in the throes of the dreaded four-month sleep regression, and with the exception of the night after she got her four-month vaccine shots (when she slept for eight glorious hours straight), every night for the past week has been a wild & crazy ride of constant night wakings. ::cry:: ::yawn::

How can one so adorable ’cause so much sleeplessness?

Honestly, the waking every few hours isn’t even the hardest part, really. Not compared to how hard it’s been the past two nights in trying to get her to go to sleep. We were in a really good rhythm of being able to put her to bed awake, pop in her pacifier, and she’d drift off all on her own. Weeeeell, last night in particular was ROUGH. I’m hoping it was just a particularly bad fluke of a night, but hot damn, I’ve never heard her scream and squeal and cry the way that she was last night as Sean tried to get her to go to sleep. I ended up having to nurse her down. It really is just like old times!

I’m tentatively hopeful that now that she’s had a few days past receiving her shots, and also since my sister and her family returned home to Georgia last week (which is sad but at least should help me get Penny back to her regular nighttime routine since I won’t be spending like 92% of my time at my parents’ house, lol), that things will start to get back to “normal.” Whatever normal is.

But then again, she is only four months old, and she is still going through Leap 4, and she is, well, a baby. So there really is no such thing as normal right now, is there? We’ve been talking about transitioning her into her own room soon-ish, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea to start anything new while she’s still regressing (or is it regressed?). Plus, I’m like, weirdly obsessed with my kid, and selfishly I still like having her close by at night… even if she is waking me up every few hours.

For a while we had been kind of successful starting her in her crib at night, and then moving her back up to our room after she woke up the first time, (ahhh, the good old days when that wouldn’t be for a good five or six hours…) but it’s been a minute since we’ve done that. So right now I’m just trying to reacquaint her with her crib for the occasional nap, and we’ll see how things go from there.

ANYWAY. I swear I did not set out to have this entire post be about my lack of sleep. I actually had a very different, and very specific topic in mind: my post-baby health & weight loss plans! Though it may be hard to believe, I didn’t always blog solely about my kid, I swear. If you followed me before I got pregnant, you might remember that once upon a memory, I used to blog quite a lot about food, healthy living, and weight loss. In fact, I started blogging all those years ago (over SEVEN years ago, in fact!) with the explicit intention of losing weight.

And lost weight, I did! With the accountability that this blog provided, and the support I received from all of you, I managed to successfully lose exactly 60 pounds, going from 246 pounds to 186 pounds. I felt good, healthy, and strong at that weight, but for some reason, had it in my head that I needed to lose just a little bit more… but didn’t. And when my weight loss kept stalling out, when I started getting complacent, and when I stopped keeping track of what I was eating and how active I was being… I slid back. And the pounds slipped back on.

I’ve tried kickstarting my weight loss again… and again… and again… with varying degrees of success in the years since. Ten pounds here, twenty there… but nothing too significant and definitely nothing lasting ever came out of it. The pounds always came back on, because I always stopped trying, and life kept happening anyway — I fell in love with a great guy, got a job that I really love, I got married, I got pregnant, and I had a baby that I love, like, an insane, insane amount. And my weight just, I dunno, stopped mattering. Which, to be fair, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since I’ve spent time in the darkness of the other side where I’ve cared much too much, too.

So yeah, for the first time in my adult life, I can honestly say that I don’t really care that much about how much I weigh right now. I mean, sure, I don’t love the way I look in some photos, but generally, I’m, like, happy with my body? It’s weird to actually say that. It’s especially baffling because — spoiler alert — I’m actually at one of my highest weights ever. I’m heavier than I was 7 years ago when I first started this blog, that’s for sure. And yet, miraculously, I’m in this, like, really good headspace with regard to my body. Funny how growing an actual human being inside you changes your self-perception and body image, isn’t it?

Now, that said, the fact that I don’t actively loathe my body at this weight doesn’t mean I’, oblivious to the fact that it’s not healthy either. For the past few months, my lifestyle has become particularly unhealthy. Penny, obviously, takes up a lot of time, and less time means I’ve become accustomed to prioritizing convenience — eating out, ordering in, and drive-thrus — over health. And I hardly think I even need to mention my activity level — y’all can guess where that’s at. Aside from the daily workout I get carrying my 16 1/2 lb baby all over the house, I literally cannot remember the last time I worked out. It was before I got pregnant, I’m pretty sure. So, we’re talking about at least a year? Minimum? Yeesh.

And like, okay, I’m a new mom, right? Having given birth four months ago is, I feel, actually a pretty legitimate excuse for having a little (or, okay, a lot of) extra cushioning. Except, as you may know, I barely gained any weight during my actual pregnancy. I mean, obviously I was overweight when I started, and then I was sick for the first half of my pregnancy, and then Penny took up so much space inside me that my appetite was basically nil for the last third of it. So I waddled into the hospital at 37 weeks having gained like, 5 pounds. Lol.

I did have a secret hope that I’d lose weight from breastfeeding — and since I hadn’t really gained much “baby weight,” I was really hoping that nursing would be the easy weight loss solution I’d been searching for my whole life! But, alas, while many moms do shed the poundage when breastfeeding, I’m clearly not one of them. Nursing may burn extra calories, but it also has made me hungrier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. And between the ravenous ragebeast that is my hunger these days, and all the previously mentioned not-so-healthy lifestyle habits, the weight isn’t exactly falling off.

Alas, I packed on these pounds myself the regular way — by eating too much and moving too little. Giving birth to my daughter really had nothing to do with that part. But has everything to do with this next part.

Because that’s really the whole point, isn’t it? I need to — and want to — do this for Penelope. I want to be my healthiest self so that I don’t have to worry about being strong enough to carry her as she grows even bigger. So I can keep up with her when she starts to run and jump and play. And so she has a strong, happy, confident mom setting a good example for what it means to lead a healthy, balanced life.

So, here I am, jumping back onto the weight loss train for granted, like, the 50th time. And I know, I know, I’ve said before that “it feels different this time” or whatever. But it really DOES feel different this time. I mean, first of all, Penny, y’know, exists this time. Secondly, this was not motivated by some knee jerk reaction to seeing an unflattering photo or not being able to fit into a certain size, like some of my past attempts were. And lastly, I really am trying to set myself up for success right from the get-go by utilizing new tools and strategies to help me reach my goals.

Sean and I both love to cook, but often find ourselves uninspired in terms of what to make and what to buy at the grocery store. So we started getting Blue Apron meals to encourage us to cook more at home. And I signed up for Noom, which is a personalized weight loss coaching app that’s supposed to provide support in a way similar to programs like Weight Watchers. I’ve only been at it for a few days so far, so I’ll report more on how it’s going as time goes on (it’s subscription based, and there’s a free two-week trial period that I’m in right now.) But if you’re curious to try Noom as well, just leave a comment saying so and I can send you a link that gives you 50% off if you sign up and end up wanting to actually subscribe.

If your eyes haven’t completely rolled into the back of your head from the sheer wordcount of this post, congratulations! The tl;dr version is that I’m ready to reprioritize my health and losing some weight is a big part of that.

I have an initial goal of getting back down to 220 pounds, but am more focused on adopting healthier habits, cleaning up my eating, and increasing my activity level (slowly, however, as I’m sadly still dealing with some issues from my car accident back in November) than on a goal weight at this moment. And because I am still nursing, and limiting caloric intake can affect milk supply, I know that this may go slowly as I don’t really want to cut calories right now. Honestly, though, with how much I’ve been eating lately, simply tracking my food alone has already led to positive change. I’ve lost 4 pounds!

So here’s to 2018, to Penny, and to being our healthiest, happiest selves! Let’s do this.

Adios, Playa Mujeres! (Weigh-in #4)

I’m back from Mexico, and, miraculously, I managed to get a significant (for me) tan and an insignificant (also for me) number of mosquito bites. Huzzah!

As I think I mentioned, Sean and I headed to Playa Mujeres this past weekend to celebrate two of my wonderful friends getting married. This was my first destination wedding, and it was a ton of fun! It also helped that my brother and sister-in-law were the wedding photographers, so it was like a family vacation wrapped up in a friend vacation wrapped up in a wedding celebration. So, pretty much all of my favorite things combination!

My friendship journey with Kim and Jon has been such a testament to how many wonderful changes came about from me changing careers and starting to work at Yelp. See, I met Kim at one of my very first Yelp events. You know that feeling of just straight-up clicking with someone when you first meet them? Well, that was how it was. Kim has such a warm, friendly, and welcoming spirit, I knew I wanted to be friends IRL right away. And when I met Jon a few weeks later, it was the same thing. They’re such fantastic people, both individually and together, and it was such a delight to get to see these two lovebirds tie the knot.

Speaking of tying the knot, attending this wedding also did great things for my own post-wedding sanity. It showed me that whether you’re planning a destination wedding in Mexico or a winter wedding in Alexandria, Mother Nature’s gonna show up to crap all over you and things are going to go wrong. So while I feel for Kimmy that it poured cats and dogs on her wedding day, it really did provide me with a little bit of peace with regard to my own blizzard wedding, hahaha.

Either way, we still had a great time celebrating with the bride and groom. This was the first destination wedding that I’ve ever attended, and I gotta say, I definitely get the appeal. In addition to the vacation life that attending a destination wedding pretty much comes with, it was also just really nice to be able to meet and get to know so many of the wedding guests before the big day!

The resort that we stayed at (Finest Playa Mujeres) probably deserves an entire post to describe my, well, complicated feelings towards it, and I can’t say that I’m 100% sold on all-inclusive resorts after this (my first) experience. The short version of the story is that the resort was beautiful and very clean and the staff was like 95% wonderful, but the food was legitimately terrible and Taylor and I both came home to find out that staff stole money from our wallets in our rooms. But! Overall we still had a good time celebrating with friends (and making new ones!) and genuinely could not be more thrilled for the new Mr. & Mrs. 🙂

I guess the good thing about the food being awful is that, despite being at an all-inclusive (and, therefore, all-you-can-eat) resort, I barely gained weight while being away! So, I’m still pretty much sitting at my pre-Savannah weight, but here’s my official post-vacation weigh-in for those of you who are keeping track.

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 241.8 lbs
Current Weight: 241.9
Difference: +.1 lbs
Total Weight Lost: 12.3 lbs

Between all the traveling and vacationing and ignoring MyFitnessPal over the past few weeks, I’m honestly not feeling discouraged right now. In the past, a few weeks of non-losses like this would have likely sent me into a shame spiral about not doing enough, not doing it fast enough, etc. But if anything, it’s actually been encouraging that all I’m dealing with is a couple of ounces here or there (which, frankly, if it’s less than half a pound, I’m barely counting it anyway.) Either way, now that I’ve returned home, I’ll be getting back into a regular schedule and be able to start whittling myself down again. Onward!

The Tooth, The Whole Tooth, and Nothing but the Tooth (Weigh-in #3)

So, yesterday I saw a friend asking about Invisalign on Facebook, and it occurred to me that it’s been a really long time since I’ve given an update about my teeth (aside from the temporary crown situation that I reported on a few weeks ago). For those of you who might not have been following my braces saga, lemme ‘splain:

I was a regular ol’ brace face in 7th grade:

I had something like 14 months of braces (I don’t actually remember how long I had them, only that they were off by the time I moved from Falls Church to Taiwan the summer before 9th grade.) I was good about wearing my retainer until halfway through my freshman year of college because I was an ungrateful child relishing her first taste of parent-free living, and I did not (and still don’t) appreciate all the things my parents did for me.

And so, eventually, my teeth slipped back into a state of… relative disarray.

Sure, they weren’t the worst teeth ever, and certain angles showed them in a much better way than others. But I wasn’t happy with how they looked and eventually, it got to a point where I wanted to do something about it.

So in January 2014, I got lingual braces on my top teeth. Lingual braces are like regular metal braces, except they go on the back of your teeth, so you can’t see them. I had them for just over a year — the picture below on the right is the day I got them off.

 
Then, because apparently I have to do everything the hard way, I later decided that I also wanted to fix my bottom teeth as well. This may or may not have been a month or two after Sean proposed… but anyway. I went in for a consultation at Smiles at Fairfax Corner, and it turns out that straightening my teeth one row at a time doesn’t really work. I could work on the bottom (which were still pretty messed up), but I’d also need to work on my bite, which meant putting braces back on the top as well. Le sigh.

So, for the sake of science and curiosity, I decided to look into Invisalign this time. It turned out to be much more affordable than the lingual braces I had already sold a kidney to do, so I gave it a shot. I think most of you know what Invisalign is, right? It’s braces by way of removable aligners instead of having metal brackets affixed to your teeth.

Invisalign boasts its “invisibility” as one of the main reasons to go that route instead of traditional or lingual braces. It also offers the “flexibility” of being able to remove the retainers so you can still eat anything you want. Well, on those two claims I have some opinions, but in general, I’ve been just as happy with the results netted from IL as I have from the lingual braces before. Still, for anyone who might be considering IL, let’s talk about them in a little more detail:

 
As you can see in the above photos, in which I am wearing my aligners, Invisalign is most decidedly not as invisible as you might think. Perhaps when the technology first came out, you could get away with folks thinking your teeth are just a little shiny, but now getting IL involves getting “attachments” — little enamel bumps strategically adhered to your teeth to better help the aligners grip and move them.

Now, I’m all for efficiency, but the unfortunate side effect of the attachments is that they make the aligners even more visible when they’re in your mouth. The good news, however, is that the bumps truly are tooth-colored, so when you don’t have the liners in, you really can’t tell unless you’re basically staring someone straight in the teeth.

You can kind of see one of my attachments on the left side of my mouth in this photo — it’s sticking out a little bit. But I actually have multiple attachments all across my front teeth as well that you can’t see. (Just in case, however, I did have my attachments removed for the wedding and then put back on after I returned from my honeymoon.)

So, what this extreme dichotomy in “invisibility” ended up meaning for someone like me (coughvaincough), is that I really have only worn my aligners at night, and have gone bare-toothed during the day. I want to emphasize that this is NOT the recommended way to do it. In fact, Invisalign encourages ideal weartime of 22 hours a day. However, I am a very conceited person who takes a lot of selfies, so I just couldn’t do it.

The aforementioned “flexibility” was also a factor here. See, you can’t eat or drink anything except water with the aligners in. So, for a chronic snacker like myself, that meant taking out my aligners, eating, brushing, flossing, and shoving ’em back in like, 6 – 10 times a day. Not the most fun. Then again, maybe if I’d actually stuck with it, I’d have curbed my snacking habit instead. And maybe my extraordinarily excessive oral cleaning would have prevented my weird crown cavity thing. Or, maybe it would have made it worse because I’m terrible at flossing anyway and would have just half-assed it and ended up smooshing more food up against my teeth every time I popped my aligners back in. #whoknows

ANYWAY. All this to say that I’ve basically been operating for the past year with only wearing my Invisalign at night, and it’s worked out for me. But, I reiterate, I am also not saying that others should blatantly disregard the instructions of professionals.

So, here we are! Two and a half years have passed since my original foray into lingual braces, and another year since diving into the world of Invisalign, and I’m very nearly done! I’ve just a few more aligners to go at this point, and have some nice straight teeth — top AND bottom — to show for it.

So there you have it! A much longer, more drawn-out story (and process!) than I initially intended, but just like with all aspects of my life, evidently I really just have to do things my own way. 🙂

And speaking of those other life aspects, I owe you guys a weight report!

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 241.6 lbs
Current Weight: 241.8
Difference: +.2 lbs
Total Weight Lost: 12.4 lbs

Well, this should come as no surprise if you read my post yesterday, which recapped the stuff-my-face tour of Savannah that I took last week. And I’m not sure if next week will be much better, since I’m headed to Playa Mujeres on Friday, heh. But, hey! Life is for living, food is for eating, teeth are for straightening (I guess), and I’m just happy that I didn’t put the 12 pounds I have lost back on. ‘Til next time!

Toothy Wisdom (Weigh-in Wednesday #2)

So my supposedly-innocuous dental appointment yesterday turned out to be even dreadful than I was expecting (and let’s be honest, going to the dentist for a filling is always something I dread.) Turns out, one of my cavities was kind of adjacent to an old filling, and when the old filling was removed, it revealed a horror show of toothy proportions underneath.

Turns out my poor ol’ tooth was suffering, and suffering bad, but the extent of the damage didn’t even show up on the x-ray because of how it was situated. So when my dentist opened up my tooth (already a weird image to wrap your head around, I know), it revealed a much larger cavity with decay and whatnot. (Gross, I know, sorry). So in order to remove it all, my dentist had to remove additional tooth, leaving me with less than two-thirds of the tooth I once had. Fare the well, enamel, I hardly knew yee.

Anyway, when that much tooth has been removed, you can put a regular filling in but they’re not really strong enough to be maintained in that quantity for a long period of time. Enter: me getting a (partial) crown. For those of you who don’t know, a crown (also known as a cap), is basically a heavy-duty hat for my tooth. I’ve got a temporary one in for now while they manufacture the real-deal at the lab, and they’re supposed to last anywhere from 7 to 40 years.

Sigh. Yep, I’ve now got a partially fake tooth in the upper right side of my mouth, and I basically feel like this:

Melisandre and I are going to start an old-crones-masquerading-as-young-people club.

I’m trying to see the silver lining here, which is that A) I still have (most of) my tooth, and B) it really puts the little things (like regular ol’ boring fillings) into perspective, haha. Like I said, this was all really unexpected, even to my dentist, who couldn’t see what was going on until he literally unearthed the issue from inside my tooth. So, I guess this just another example of how you really never can tell what’s going on under the surface (ooh, such deep, much wisdom.)

And speaking of things going on under the surface, let’s get on with the main attraction, shall we:

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 244.6 lbs
Current Weight: 241.6
Difference:  3 lbs

See, now that’s a weight loss amount that I don’t feel the need to justify (as opposed to last week’s dramatic drop-off, which I felt needed to be explained away as water weight, etc.) Almost back out of the 240s, which is going to feel awesome, and despite yet another week of events and dinners eaten out and tooth-pain driven Taco Bell pitstops, I’m feeling pretty good right now!

Tomorrow is going to be a long day of various awesomeness, so I’m hoping my mouth will be feeling back to normal soon. My tooth itself doesn’t really hurt (just a bit sensitive to cold), but my jaw was KILLING me once the numbing wore off yesterday — I’m guestting from being propped open for so long and, you know, all the drilling. (Hence the Hello Kitty ice pack pictured above.) My face still feels a little sore, but I’ve got some great things on the docket for tomorrow and want to be back at 100% — lunch with my coworkers, then a shift volunteering with Martha’s Table at an elementary school in SE DC, and then hitting up the PENTATONIX concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion! Whoop whoop!

So, with all that said: we out.

Weigh-in Wednesday #1 (2.0)

Man, am I feeling the deja vu vibes today. It may have been a while since I was truly (madly, deeply) on my weight loss kick, but I certainly never forgot the thrill and terror of stepping back onto the scale. Especially because my starting baseline was higher this time… womp womp.

And yes, of course I know that the scale is just one measure of health, and arguably not the best one, either. But there’s no denying that it’s still a good way to keep a general idea of how things are going, especially when starting out… and especially at my current weight. I grappled a little bit with the idea of publishing my weigh-ins weekly this time, since I do realize that it’s about the downward trend of my weight loss over time, not necessarily the individual weigh-ins. I admit that I used to get really caught up in the specific numbers before, and my mood became very dependent on what I saw each Wednesday. Down a pound, I’d be ecstatic. Up, even just a few ounces, despondent. That sort of thing. Not to mention just the sheer embarrassment of having to admit exactly how much I weigh to anyone who reads here.

But, that being said, I’ve always been a huge proponent of honesty and transparency when it comes to weight loss in general, and especially when it comes to my weight loss. This is probably a whole post for another time, but I firmly believe we as a society need to destigmatize the actual numbers, and educate about what it really means to be a “healthy weight.” Since there are still an alarming number of people who have no real concept what a healthy weight is, and instead issue blanket statements about how people who weigh over 200 pounds are the most disgusting possible type of human. But I digress.

I mean, let’s be real, it was when I stopped being transparent and talking about it that I started to have real issues with my weight again, so what does that tell me? And recording my successes and failures each step of the way through this journey is such an integral part of keeping me accountable and motivated in what I’m doing. So I’m sticking with my weight loss roots, for the time being at least, and reinstating “official” weigh-ins.

One of my goals this time around, however, is to keep a better perspective about it. My weight fluctuates daily (and by a lot — I can be up or down 3+ pounds within a single day), and even though the whole point of picking a specific day and time is so there is relative consistency, I still want to be sensible about it.

Aaaaanyway, all this to say, I did weigh myself this morning and here are the official stats:

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Current Weight: 244.6 lbs
Difference:  9.6 lbs

So! Down 9.6 pounds in week 1… with a pretty big caveat, given that I’m pretty positive that I didn’t really lose 10 actual pounds in 8 days. We’re talking water weight, the kind of weight that sheds purely from cleaning up your diet and cutting out a lot of the stuff that our bodies end up carrying around for the whole week.

This is almost exactly what happened during Round 1 (which is how I will refer to my 2010 weight loss heretofore) — I dropped 10 pounds in the first week! So you can see where the deja vu comes in. Even in trying to keep a level head about it, I won’t lie and say it’s not encouraging to see (well, encouraging and discouraging, since all this does is put me back at the same weight I was at the very beginning of Round 1… but I’m still working through those complicated feelings, as you know.)

I just have to be cognizant of the fact that this is obviously not the norm. I am not a contestant on the Biggest Loser who is working out 8 hours a day to drop 14 pounds every week. (Sidenote: have you guys read this super interesting NY Times article about Season 8’s Biggest Loser contestants? It’s a really interesting study about the long-term effects of extreme weight loss on metabolism.) I am, however, an overweight individual aiming to shed pounds at a reasonable clip through good old-fashioned “diet” and exercise. (I have a lot of issues with the word “diet” so that’s why it gets the quotation-treatment-—another post for another time, perhaps—but you get the general gist of what I’m laying down, right?)

Anyway, so here we are! We kick off Round 2 (I know, I know, it’s really like Round 283948, but we’re simplifying things here, haha), Week 2 today! As my old motto says: onward… and downward!