Fitness Achievement Unlocked

Happy Friday, folks!

I hope everyone had a great week! This week has been a bit of a mixed bag since Penny is teething like crazy and it’s been really, really tough, but I’m still ending the week feeling really proud of myself. Why? Because for the first time, um, let’s go ahead and say literally ever, I worked out every single day this week! 

Clearly what I need to work on now is not making the same dumb face every time I take a gym selfie hahahahaha

Well, okay, I didn’t go to the gym today as I’m insanely sore (I had my final session with my personal trainer yesterday, and we definitely made sure I went out with a bang, haha!) and definitely need to rest. And I know that for some, 4 days in a row isn’t really anything to write home about. But it is for me! And I’m feeling good about my efforts, as well as about the simple fact that I’ve been prioritizing fitness and turning it into a real part of my life.

From the beginning of my (most recent) health journey, one of my goals has been to make working out part of my weekday routine. I figured that being able to work out every morning would help me in my attempts to create more of a routine, in addition to all of the obvious health benefits. Clearly I’m not quite there yet as right now I still need time to rest and recover (especially when lifting heavy things, like my trainer has taught me to do), but this week gave me a lot of hope that I will be able to get there in the near future!

 

And once I’ve hit that goal and see how it feels, I’ll be able to refine it and determine what really feels best for my body and the lifestyle that I want. Whether that means going to the gym 5 every weekday, switching to every other day (including weekends), mixing in other forms of activity, whatever!

Honestly, I’d love to magically turn into the kind of person who truly loves fitness and looks forward to working out every day, but I’m only halfway there currently, and may never be there fully. I can say I like the way it makes me feel, and some days I even genuinely look forward to working out, but most of the time it’s still a bit of a mental battle. And that’s okay, because I’m coming off of an entire lifetime of loathing exercise. So, I don’t want this all to seem like a big ol’ self-congratulatory shoulder-pat, but honestly I feel like I’m doing pretty well.

 

Anyway, in other news, poor Penny had a really, really tough day yesterday. I think she’s got her first MOLAR coming in (all of her teeth are like, sprouting up in her mouth all at once!), and was absolutely inconsolable when she woke up from her post-daycare nap yesterday afternoon.

Like, screaming, crying, sobbing, arching her back, throwing herself out of my arms… and nothing seemed to comfort her. Not holding her, not putting her down, not giving her pacifier to her, not singing to her, not even giving her a bottle. I just felt SO terrible for her. She was really resistant to taking medicine but I was eventually able to get her to take some Motrin and after it kicked in she did calm down a bit, but it was really rough for a while there.

I didn’t have very high hopes for how the night would go either, but thankfully she seemed to do pretty well. She took over an hour to fall asleep, which is very unlike her, but she seemed to sleep reasonably well and didn’t wake up screaming until like 5 AM — way better than I was expecting! She was able to fall back asleep and dozed on and off until around 7:30 this morning (again, thankfully.)

 

And she seems to be doing better today! Still a little, er, temperamental mood-wise, and her teeth are definitely still bugging her, but she hasn’t had another screaming-crying fit (yet…) so hopefully that means she’s not in as much pain, at least? Guess we’ll see how the rest of today goes…!

And with that, I hope you all have an awesome weekend!

My Gym & MY Gym

Man, the days are really getting away from me lately! Between work & work events, social engagements, and my constant status of “Am I getting sick again?”, time really seems to be moving faster than I’d like. I never have enough time to do everything I want!

One thing I *did* finally get around to doing though, was taking Penny to a class at the local My Gym. If you’re not familiar, it’s like a gym for kids — a play place that offers structured classes for your kiddos to help them develop various skills (and is just a lot of fun.)

My friend Anna asked if I was interested in meeting up for a class (the first one is free), and since it had actually long been on my list of things to do, my answer was a resounding YES! We also got our other friend of ours to join as well, and all of our littles had a ton of fun.

 

I really loved how many different activities and areas the employees at My Gym set up for the kids — they crammed a LOT of fun into the hour we were there! There was a “car wash” where they had a bubble machine going and kids rode a little toy car through a little obstacle course thing, tumbling time, swinging, and a demolition derby!

 

Plus some songs to kick things off, a story to wrap things up, and what they called “separation time” at the end, where they pulled out some toys and encouraged us to walk as far away from the babies as they’d let us. The goal was to get back to the check-in desk area (the kids are always still in sight), but you know Penny. Sean and I probably could have walked right out of the building and driven home and little Miss Independent wouldn’t have noticed or cared, hahahahaha.

I had so much fun with Penny at the My Gym class, and totally want to sign her up for a membership now. The only problem is that it’s more expensive than my own grown-up gym membership! Hahaha. We also were talking about doing swim lessons with her this winter, so I just gotta figure out what makes the most sense monetarily and schedule-wise. Alas, we just can’t do everything!

Speaking of the gym, my routine of working out 3 – 4 times a week was going really well (shockingly so, when you really think about how much I used to hate working out, lol)… until the plague descended and our whole household got sick, that is, and my schedule got thrown off like whoa. So I’m working on getting my motivation back up and my routine back in place — so far, I’m doing okay. The past week+ has had a lot of work commitments that have gotten in the way of me being able to go as often as I’d like, but I went yesterday and have a personal training session tomorrow, so I’m feeling optimistic about this week, at least.

August to October

My ultimate goal is still to get to the place where I am solidly working out 5 days a week and prioritize fitness as part of my daily routine, but you know, I’m still a work in progress, heh. Already I can tell you that while I may or may not have lost much weight recently (I haven’t stepped on the scale in a few weeks because I was getting a bit obsessive), I can absolutely see a difference in my strength, stamina, and endurance!

My clothes seem like they’re fitting a little better too, though while slimming down and losing body fat are obviously pleasant bonuses and additional indicators of my health improving, I’m not trying to make “weight loss” the main focus here. It just so easily leads to really negative thinking on my part — tying my self-worth to the scale, falling back into old, unsustainable habits just so I can lose weight a little faster, etc.

For now, Penny remains my biggest motivation and I’m finding it’s just the right kind of motivation. I want to model healthy habits for her, I never want her to feel the kind of self-loathing and shame that I’ve felt toward my body for so much of my life, and I just wanna, you know, keep up with her!

 

She gets more energetic and exhausting every day, so I gotta work to make sure she doesn’t leave me in the dust! We had another pediatric appointment to follow up on her ear infection and so she could finally get her 12 month shots, and she’s now 23 lbs, 4 oz. So, yeah, I’m gonna keep doing my arm exercises I think, hahaha.

Weekend Update: Old Friends, Yelp, & Fitness

Oh hai there! I meant to get this posted this morning, but you know, Mondays.

This past weekend was a perfect blend of super busy and super chill — my favorite kind! Sunday we basically did nothing and that happens so rarely, I really soaked up all of the laziness. Saturday, on the other hand, was an awesome blur of meeting up with old friends, working a local festival for Yelp, all with my favorite little sidekick in tow!

Penny and I headed to one of my favorite Korean restaurants to meet up with my friends Megan and Steph — we all went to high school together in Taiwan! Steph lives in NYC and was in town for a friend’s wedding (Megan is local so we see each other more often), and it was such a pleasure catching up. Though, I dunno, I don’t really think we’ve changed that must since high school, do you?

After our delicious meatsweat-inducing lunch (wherein Penny ate ALL of the sesame beansprout banchan), we headed to a local festival where we had a special Yelp area set up inside of an empty storefront. Unfortunately, the glum and rainy weather made the festival a bit of a dud, but our room was pretty hoppin’ at least! And Penny was very popular as our unofficial Yelp mascot.

And before any of that even happened, we had a bit of an exciting morning (well, exciting for me, at least), as Penny seems to really be mastering being able to stand independently!

It takes all of my willpower not to scream with delight every time she stands, because when I do so it scares her and she immediately sits down. Hopefully (?) walking is right around the corner!

 

In other news, I had my first official personal training session at the gym last week, and she ran me through the ringer. She taught me some new moves that I’ve never done before, like goblet squats, and also gave me variations on old moves, like dumbbell curls and presses with one leg up, deadbug crunches, and stuff like that. She also encouraged me to use heavier weights than I ever do on my own, and I was surprised by the weights I was able to use!

I did the workout again this morning and somehow managed to push myself even harder than I did when working with my trainer (probably because she was taking the time to teach me the moves, versus me just running straight through the set), and I’m almost ashamed to admit how sore I already am. Maybe I really was lifting too heavy? I usually am most sore on the 2nd day, so I don’t even want to think about how I’m going to feel tomorrow… and the day after. -_-

I wanted to get in a couple more days of working out in before the hurricane potentially hits us later this week, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to much more than wince and stretch, lol.

Speaking of the weather, it’s been rainy, wet, and gloomy for the past several days, and it certainly doesn’t look like that’ll be letting up anytime soon thanks to impending Hurricane Florence. I went to the store ahead of the crowds and stocked up on some staples — I used to make fun of the people buying up milk before big storms because I just didn’t get why you would prioritize milk! But now I get it. Those people have kids. Penny goes through milk SO quickly now that we’ve transitioned her to whole milk, it’s insane. Saving money on formula but at the cost of our fridge space, haha.

 

Natural disasters aside, Autumn is my favorite season, so I’m definitely not upset with the cooler temps. I am just a little wistful that I still have so many cute summer outfits for Penny that she has yet to wear! I’ve still been putting her in them and then just throwing a hoodie over top, hahaha.

And that pretty much catches us up! I’ve been feeling really tired lately, so I’m worried that I’m on the verge of getting sick, which is not something I can afford right now. Between all my travel, and then Penny’s birthday and party, I really feel like I’ve been slipping work-wise, and so I’m trying very hard to put my nose to the grindstone and reprioritize that. Life as a working mom is a constant balancing act, and there really never do seem to be enough hours in the day! There’s probably a whole other blog post in that single sentence though, which if I’m already complaining about not having enough time, I certainly don’t have the time to dig into it right now. So I’ll save that for another time and, for now, bid you adieu!

A Routine Life

So, those of you who have been longtime readers or followers of mine have gleaned at least a little bit about my job. I work for Yelp as a Community Manager right here on the ground in Northern VA.

While it generally speaking falls under the umbrella of “marketing”, this role is pretty unique, even amongst jobs at Yelp. It’s a full-time job (sometimes more than full-time, if I’m being honest), but I work remotely (even with the recent opening of Yelp’s DC office since I only go in once a week…ish, hehe) which means I have the incredible luxury of making my work situation pretty much whatever I want it to be.

Am I going into the office? Do I want to squat in a coffee shop all day? Put my desk at home to actual use? Or work from my couch with Parks & Rec playing through in the background for the 40th time? (YES, NETFLIX, I AM STILL WATCHING.) This freedom also extends to my schedule — I am not beholden to the same 9-5 situation to which many others have to adhere. And every day looks very different.

I might pop open my laptop first thing in the morning, head out for an in-person meeting, meet a friend for lunch, have back-to-back conference calls, and then have to go prep for an evening event. Maybe it is a day when I need to go into the actual office. Or I might sleep in, go out for coffee, run some errands, and then settle back in at my computer and work until late into the evening.

Anyway, I say all this not to brag about my job (which is admittedly awesome and I know I am very lucky to have it), nor did I intend for this post to be a deep-dive into what my daily life looks like (though this does remind me that I’ve been promising to write up another Day in the Life post for a long while now, lol.) I just thought that explaining what I do in a little more detail would help illustrate the point that I am trying to get at, which is this:

Because my life has so much flexibility, it also lacks any semblance of routine.

For over five years, I have rarely had to set an alarm clock. I don’t have a specific bedtime. I don’t eat meals at the same time each day. I don’t have a laundry day, or a meal prep day, or a date night. Save for a few rare regularly scheduled calls, my calendar never looks the same from one week to the next.

And for the better part of five years, it’s been pretty great. There have been tons of benefits that I have heartily taken advantage of — taking care of errands and appointments during the day, sleeping in, regularly getting to see my friends, and, of course, getting to be around my daughter so much more than the typical full-time working mom.

But it’s a double-edged sword, right? Because with all of those perks also comes the burden of not being able to predict how a given day might go, not being able to slide into the familiarity or comfort of “your old routine.” Which, granted, hasn’t really been an issue until lately.

But lately, I’ve been feeling pretty down, and thanks to the prodding of some of friends, I finally took the initiative to find a therapist to talk to — something I honestly should have been doing for a long time now. I have only just started therapy, but already in our short time together she has helped me realize how frazzled and frantic and overwhelmed I am. And while I’m sure it’s really, really common, especially for new moms, it’s still not something I like to admit. I mean, who loves admitting that they no longer know how to handle just like, life? Especially given all of the advantages that I have — a perfect baby, a husband, close family, a decent salary, all that aforementioned flexibility… I know I have a really good situation overall. Which is why it was kind of hard for me to admit that I’ve been feeling depressed & overwhelmed in the first place — because it’s like, with all the privileges I am afforded, I should have no reason not to be happy.

(Sidenote: My therapist did tell me to stop “shoulding on myself” (heh.) Like, to stop saying things like “I feel like I shouldn’t even feel this way because I have it so good!”or “I should just be happy because there are other people who have it so much worse,” since my struggles are my struggles and my feelings are still valid. This is actually a rather difficult concept for me to digest, and one I think I’m going to need to let percolate a little more before I really try and dig into it, but I digress.)

I know I’m not the first woman to feel like she is being pulled in a thousand different directions and finding it hard to cope. I think we’re all trying to find some way to balance all of the various roles we have to play: mother, wife, homemaker, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, manager, employee — and that doesn’t even touch the roles we form around our hobbies and interests: writer, blogger, photographer, advocate, bookworm, crafter, gamer… and ten zillion more.

I’ve been able to identify that the loosey-goosey, whatever, whenever approach I’ve had towards work (and towards my life in general) is currently adding to my feelings of overwhelm…ed…ness? And that I’m actually craving some structure, predictability, and routine.

Penny has actually already helped in this arena, quite a lot. I mean, sure, in the beginning, she made things even more frantic and crazy and unpredictable. But both Sean and I recognize that we are supremely lucky to have such a good baby. She sleeps well, she eats well, and she has a strong internal clock that has given me at least a modicum of a routine when it comes to her.

But I have a lot further to go. I need to create boundaries — my work & home & social lives all kind of blend and bleed together, and even though I have what’s considered a “lifestyle job,” I need to realize that it’s okay for those things to be a little more separate. I need to figure out how to focus on one thing at a time, be mindful of my current task, and then allow myself to move onto the next one. When it’s time to work, I want to be able to focus on work. When I’m catching up with a friend, I want to be able to focus on my friend. When it’s time to be with Penny, I really want to be able to focus on feeding/snuggling/playing with Penny.

Basically, I just want to do less of what I currently do, which is hard to even articulate properly but is a little more like… this:

*opens laptop* Okay, time to answer these emails about the event I have happening tomorrow, and then I’ll do the ones having to do with next week’s event, oh, next week I’m also going back to Atlanta, I need to call Southwest and add Penny as a lap infant to my ticket *opens tab to Southwest.com* Hmm, do I have time to get a pedicure before I go, oh crap, by the time I come back my car registration will have expired, I need to get my emissions test done *opens tab to Google gas station’s inspection hours* okay, scrap the pedicure, I don’t need to spend the money on that anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve checked Mint, better see where we’re at with this month’s budget *opens tab to Mint.com* oh man, there’s the tab to my Nordstrom cart, the Anniversary Sale is ending soon and this is SUCH good deal on Baby Bling Bows, maybe I should check out — no! I told myself no more baby bows *closes out of tab* *finally sends one email*

Ahem. So, you know, that’s not great.

Anyway, my “homework” from my initial therapy session is a two-parter: 1) to start thinking of ways that I can create structure and routine for my daily life, and 2) to try (tryyyyyy) to be more mindful, focused, and in-the-moment as I go through the day. I definitely have my work cut out for me with the latter part, but I feel like I’ve already been laying the groundwork for the former. Especially as my recent health initiative has me embracing a kind of morning to-do list, made up of things I should have been doing ALL ALONG FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE like eating breakfast & taking vitamins.

 
Plus, like I mentioned, Penny has me following at least some kind of loose structure at the beginning of each day — it’s just get a smidgen more complicated because while we have a steady childcare schedule, it’s not consistent from day to day. So the mornings when she goes to daycare are different than the mornings when she’s with my parents or mother-in-law.

My idea to help overcome this is to officially integrate fitness into my routine (I almost said “back into my routine” but who are we kidding? I’ve never had a true fitness routine hahaha.) For like, the first time in my entire life, I’m actually feeling a kind of… dare I say… desire to exercise. (Ew.) I don’t know if it’s coming from my weight loss, or because my therapist suggested or out of my postulations that I want to get healthy for Penny (I’m particularly concerned about my longterm heart health right now — but mayhaps I’ll delve into that at another time), but whatever the exact reason, I figure I need to capitalize on this rare, completely-out-of-character motivation.

So I went online and signed up for a free pass to a nearby gym this morning, and am doing the same at another one on Friday. Both facilities have kid’s clubs and are close by, so my hope is that I’ll be able to create a morning routine where I go to the gym at around the same time every morning — on the days when Penny is in daycare, I’ll drop her off first, and on the days when she isn’t, I’ll bring her with me. The rest of my day might still end up looking like a trash panda straight-up ripped into the garbage bag of my life, but at least I’ll be starting each off day with consistency and on the right foot.

This sounds great in theory, of course, but my visit to the first gym today (Gold’s) unfortunately didn’t leave me with a great impression. Partly because their kid’s club was insane — there was 1 adult and like 25 kids in there — and partly because of my own insecurities and discomfort over a) working out at all, and b) working out in public. But while that gym would have been my first choice based on location (it’s suuuuuper close to Penny’s daycare), I have high hopes for the second one. And I’m also looking into non-gym alternatives like boutique fitness places that offer childcare and Fit4Mom Stroller Strides. As long as I can hodgepodge them together into some kind of cohesive, regular routine.

Anyway, so that’s the latest in Gretchen’s Journey to Self-Improvement & Sanity™. I’m still feeling pretty positive and optimistic about being able to make lasting changes, but I’m trying to remain relatively guarded about it as well. Knowing my tendency to jump headfirst into things, only to abandon them later, I want to make sure I’m making manageable changes, and for the right reasons this time. That way, I hopefully really will be able to say I’m making positive changes to last me a lifetime.

Go forth!

Year of the Ram

Happy Chinese New Year, friends!

Yesterday marked the first day of the Year of the Ram (or Sheep or Goat, depending on who you ask!), so allow me to wish you all a year of prosperity, good health, and great times! As most of you know, I am half-Chinese, so Chinese New Year is usually a big deal in my household, but this year my parents are out of the country so I had to make due with my own mini-celebration.

 
And by mini-celebration, I mean that ate some hand-pulled noodles at Lotus Garden with friends. Heeeeee.

Speaking of celebrations, I have another exciting thing to celebrate this week:

I got my BRACES OFF!!!!!!!

 
I’ve had lingual braces for the past year-and-change, which means I had braces behind my top set of teeth. So while you couldn’t actually see them, I DEFINITELY knew they were there. And now they’re gone! Well, replaced with a permanent retainer, so there is still a little something behind my chompers, but nothing nearly as intrusive as those big metal brackets. So here’s to a new year of not getting food stuck in my braces anymore!

In other news, Yelp’s Fit Club is still chugging along, and this week has so far given me the chance to try out an Ayengar yoga class. And tomorrow I toy with fate by attending my very first [solidcore] class, which I hear is supposed to be the most difficult workout of your life. No big deal. And then, as if that weren’t enough, I have another fitness event on Sunday — a bootcamp-style workout at The Worx by Maia. WHEW.

Good thing I’ve been doing P90 for the past six weeks, otherwise I wouldn’t even be in good enough shape to make it through my own fitness classes, hahahaha.

So I guess you can look forward to hearing about all those various different workouts next week… if I survive, that is! And have a great weekend in the meantime, folks!