Tuesday, March 27, 2012

in which I admit I have a problem, and a solution

Hi, my name is Alison, and I'm a sugar addict. (Really.) I love donuts, and brownies, and cookie dough. Diet Pepsi, sweet cocktails, and a cold lemonade on a hot day. I have sugary cereal for breakfast, and always always need something sweet to cap off dinner after a long day.

It wasn't always this way. Growing up, we rarely had dessert or sweets just lying around. My mom wasn't - isn't - exactly a baker. She made our birthday cakes, and they were divine, but aside from that? I can count the number of times we made cookies on one hand. I didn't feel deprived, it was just all I knew. Sure we had ice cream bars, or popsicles, and Kool-Aid (OH THE KOOL-AID) (unrelated: Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska. And now you know.), but they were just there if I wanted them, maybe once a week? No big deal.

Before I became a mom, I would scoff at people who talked about their chocolate cravings. I thought they were just wanting an excuse to indulge on some sweet stuff. But something happened after Brecken was born - call it hormones, or sleep deprivation, or maybe just me aging, but I started to want a little something sweet, every day. After Jude joined us, it intensified. Dessert was my reward at the end of a long day of parenting / wifery / working (two jobs!) / housekeeping. And chocolate? Oh I craved it. I still do.

I saw this on Pinterest last fall, it felt like a suckerpunch:

Around the same time, someone pinned this book:

It seemed a little... weird. I mean, QUIT?! SUGAR?! why would anyone want to do that? I kind of filed it away in the "to be dealt with later" place in my brain. I was still nursing Jude. He was still waking up 1-3 times a night. It was all I could do to make it through the day awake as it was. I wasn't about to take away my end-of-the-day reward.

Fast forward a few months and as I was in the thick of half marathon training in February, I met Nic - she blogs at For My Tummy. (Ok, really, I didn't "meet" her, but I happened onto her blog.) In a total kismet moment, Nic was within days of running her first half marathon, AND she'd successfully quit sugar last fall. Since then, I've been picking her brain and reading her posts about how, exactly, she did it! (Check out her old posts, her before and after pics are amazing!)

I've spent the past month on the fence about whether I should really do this no sugar thing. Ultimately, I've decided YES, yes I do want to stop having cravings. I want to stop thinking about getting a blizzard when I'm not even hungry. I want to be able to have two cookies and then stop thinking about all the other cookies that I didn't eat.

So last week, I bought the I Quit Sugar ebook. And yesterday, I quit sugar. It's an 8 week (gentle, slow) detox. But, it's about removing alllll the sugar from your diet. Did you know there's sugar in ketchup? What about table salt? And no fruit - that's the hardest one. (I will eat fruit again, just not right now. And it will be the recommended 2ish pieces a day (5-6 grams) - not the gobs of it I eat now to quench my fruit craving.) There's no fake sugar (no Splenda, no Stevia, no artificial sweeteners) in the beginning either. The goal is to stop all the sugar, stop all the cravings, then reintroduce the good stuff in appropriate amounts.

Yesterday was pretty easy, all things considered. Until 8pm. That's when B is asleep; Jude is meandering around the family room, playing; I'm working on the computer; random tv is playing in the background; Joey is running; and I really really just wanted a tiny bowl of ice cream. Or 5 M&Ms. Or a chocolate milk. But I didn't have anything, I just kept sipping my lemon water. (Yes, lemon is a fruit, but the fructose content is nearly negligible.) Yesterday, I won. Seven weeks and six days to go.

Does this mean I'll never have sugar again? Umm, no. I live in a world of kid's birthday parties where there will be cake. And bomb pops on a hot summer day. Hot chocolate when it's cold outside. In fact, I specifically started this detox this week, rather than after Easter (as was my initial plan) so that I can be done with the detox and hopefully be able to enjoy a small piece of cake on Jude's birthday in June. That's what I want - I want sweetness to be a treat. A once a week, or so, blissful escape. I don't want it to consume my every thought.

I am not doing this to lose weight. I cringe at the term "diet". Truthfully though, while I sometimes get compliments about how I "look like I've lost weight!" from all this running I've been doing - I haven't lost a single, solitary pound since I started running in December. I know things shift, and muscle weighs more than fat. I know. I'm hopeful that at the very least, cutting sugar will help with feeling bloated. And maybe, maybe it will help the scale slide a tiny bit.

Joey is on board, and quitting sugar too. He's doing it for himself, of course, but I think he's also doing it because a) he's always up for a challenge and b) he's so supportive of me. The thing is, he reversed type 2 diabetes. He knows how to handle sugar now. I obviously, do not. (The boys' diets aren't changing, they're still eating fruits daily, and B doesn't eat much sugary stuff anyway.)

My awesome friend and runner extraordinaire, Lindsay, is doing this too. It helps tremendously to have someone to bounce ideas off and cheer for.

So. I'm doing this. And I'm going to blog about it along the way (surely, you're not surprised).

Nic tells me I can eat Kettle Chips and beer, that may very well what gets me through the next 8 weeks. :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

five minute friday: loud

I remember the peace the night before Brecken was born. We had to be at the hospital for the induction at 7:30 pm; 6:00 pm found me sitting on my couch in silence. No tv, no dog pacing the floor or barking outside, no phones, no internet, just sweet peace. J was tidying up the house (working out nervous pre-dad energy I'm sure), and I was sitting there, with my eyes closed, sucking in as much silence as I could.

I said to J, "this is the quietest our house is going to be for a long time".

Three years later, the sound of toy cars running across our wood floors is the music of our days. Chuggington or Diego make up the constant background drone. B's tantrums and giggles; j's belly laughter and cries. It's the soundtrack to our lives right now. And it's loud.

And I can't imagine it any other way.


I'm linking up with 5 minute Friday today. You write for 5 minutes flat. No over thinking, no editing, just write. Link up here: http://thegypsymama.com/2012/03/five-minute-friday-loud/

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

feet fail me not

We're two months away from the half marathon (as of yesterday!) and we're still going strong with training. Our furthest distance so far is 8 miles, which we ran about 10 days ago. This week is an easy week with 3, 4 mile runs before the 10k we're running on Saturday.

I say "we" a lot, because Joey and I are 100% in this together. We train the same distances, we talk about it incessantly, and we motivate each other to run on the days that we really don't want to run.

But running is an isolated sport. Ultimately the only person you have to answer to is yourself. It's you and the tunes on your headset, making your feet hit the pavement thousands of times in a row before you quit.

Joey and I have never gone for a run together. Both of us training these long-ish distances, and managing a household with two cuties is a bit like a choreographed ballet. Certain days I have to pick the kids up, other days Joey picks them up so I can start running right away after work and then get done in time to get supper ready and start our bedtime routine. I don't have any idea how we're doing it, but we are.

Before I started training for the half marathon, the furthest recorded distance I'd run is a 3k (1.86 miles), which I ran in 17:56 (9:37 pace). The fact that I can go run 8 miles today without much of a thought boggles. my. mind. It really requires no pep talk on my part, and I don't dread it, it's just something I need to do and I do it.

I've learned a few things along the way, from what to wear (and what not to wear!), to the fact that I MUST bring kleenexes with me, because my nose will run the entire time whether it's 20 degrees or 70 degrees, to the fact that I must have the smallest ear canals on the planet because even the teeny tinyest ear buds don't fit me. So far we've avoided injury (knock on wood, throw salt over shoulder), other than a few blisters on our feet.

When I started running in December, it hurt. The side stitches were intense, and I felt like I could never get enough air. My pace was 13ish minutes per mile. I was overjoyed the first time my pace was in the 12's. Then slowly but surely I got faster. I never really tried to run faster, I just was. My legs were stronger and I could run further without being winded. For the last 2 months I've consistently ran between 9:30 and 10:00 minute miles. This past week, it feels like I'm making another transition. Like my body wants to go faster, but my brain isn't really willing. When I ran my four miles on Monday night, I forced myself to sprint for the last two tenths of the second mile. I stopped at the turnaround spot, and caught my breath, I realized it wasn't really that bad to push myself. I watched as two girls ran past where I was standing on the trail. They were jogging quickly, probably around my normal pace. I decided I'd let them get a 50 yard or so head start, and then I'd catch up to them (hi, I need a goal). So I did, and I passed them, running hard. Except, it felt so good, I just kept going. I ran that hard all the way home. I finished that run with a 9:05/mi pace. Say what? It felt awesome. Ok, the last half mile BLEW. I was DONE. But I knew if I slowed down, that stupid Runkeeper lady would come on my headset and tell me my pace was getting slower.

I've always been my own worst enemy when it comes to working out. Halfway through the workout I always start to doubt my ability and endurance. Once that seed of doubt creeps in, I'm done. If my plan was to run 2 miles, I'd give up at 1. If my plan was to do 100 sit ups, I'd stop at 25. I was a quitter.

I feel like I've changed that pattern. I don't quit now, I keep going. People always smile and say something like "oh good for you" or "I could never run a half marathon" or "I can't even run a half mile". And I want to scream YES! YOU! CAN!. Seriously, I was a quitter with the best of them. And while all the sentiments about me being such a model of health are sweet, honestly the only thing that keeps me going is the fear of failure. I signed up to run THIRTEEN POINT ONE MILES. In two months. And today I'm not sure that I could do that. But two months ago I couldn't run eight miles, and now I can. And two months from today, Lord willing, I will be a half marathoner.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

operation organization: week one

Remember how I joined Katherine for Operation Organization? Week One had us organizing our kitchen, dining room, entry way, and hall closet. I cheated a bit and did our living room too, for two reasons - 1) we have a ranch-style house, and really don't have an entry way or foyer, the front door opens to the living room and 2) we don't really live in the living room, the boys just use it while we're making supper or in the kitchen - therefore it stays cleanish. We had B's 3rd (ack!) birthday here on Saturday, so I'm a little slow to post, but it also helped us give everything a deep clean before we had company.

It was easier for me to take progress videos, rather than photos, so here we go!

Living room... The cube storage thingie is from Target and is AMAZING. It holds a ton of books, and the fabric bins are so easy to take out with a set of toys, and then put back at the end of the night. We try to keep B and j's toys separate for now because B has a ton of toys (cars!) that j will put in his mouth and that freaks me out a bit. Anyway... living room:

Our hall (coat) closet... the bag thing I show you has helped manage the plethora of kids hats and gloves more than I could have imagined.

Umm, holy crap is my house loud?! That sounds about normal. Anyway, moving on...

Dining room... boring, but clean. My theory for the "stuff" (knick knacks, picture frames, etc.) sitting around on shelves is that I don't want it sitting out if it's not either beautiful, meaningful, or useful. I hate dusting. It was my most loathed chore growing up, and I still despise it. So I don't want more crap sitting around when it means I just have to dust around it.

Kitchen... I love certain things about the kitchen. Generally speaking, it's big enough for us, but I could always use more cabinet space. After we got the new microwave cabinet (in the video), now I think we'll move that yellow and white cabinet out of the kitchen, it's just too much in that area. The pantry needs more help, but I did get some wire shelves from Bed Bath and Beyond a while ago that's helped organize our canned goods and pastas. (BB&B rocks for kitchen organization if you need some assistance...).

I took a few "before" pics of the kitchen on Sunday, when we were up to our eyeballs in post-birthday party stuff, but I can't get the pics of the camera at the moment, so I'll have to post those next time. Promise though, it was a mess.

Link up with Katherine to share your progress! You can join in at any time. :)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dear Brecken

Dear Brecken,

This weekend you turn three years old. As I say every year, I don't know how we got to this point, but here we are.

Two was my most favorite age so far; it's the year you turned into your own little person. Yes, there were tantrums, but the sweetness far outweighed the crank monster in you.

We welcomed your little brother nine months ago (today, in fact). I knew you'd be a great big brother, but you've blown us away with how much you loved him, instantly and consistently. The night before Jude was born, I went into your room and laid down beside you in your big boy bed. And I cried, the tears wouldn't stop coming. Your dad quickly rescued me and asked what was wrong. I said "I feel like we're breaking him, he has no idea what's coming". Daddy smiled and said "we're not breaking him, we're giving him a brother".

You remain so sweet with your little brother. Your hugs and smooches for him never end. He adores you. He will stop in his tracks when he hears your voice and look around until he finds you, then he smiles. You make him laugh from deep down in his soul - something that the rest of us haven't been able to duplicate.

Your Auntie K taught you and your cousin to say "I love you more more" when someone says "I love you more". In theory, you would go back and forth with that person, adding a "more" each time. But, when I say "Brecken, I love you." You say "I love you more more more more". You kill the point of the game in the most adorable way possible.

We're getting glimpses into the preschooler version of you. You're a sponge (when you want to be, you're still fiercely stubborn) and love to practice your letters. You know "A is for mommy" "M is for Aunt Mindy" "O is for Ollie" (your friend at school) and your favorite: "N for Nebraska!". You have New Balance tennis shoes and the only way we could convince you to wear them was to tell you they're your "Nebraska shoes". You think your name is spelled "B" - as in, every time you see a B you say "look! that says Brecken!".

We're now closer to Kindergarten than we are to your birth. Time yields to no one, and while I do miss the tiny baby version of you at times, I absolutely adore the three year old Brecken. I love you so much it physically hurts sometimes. You are smart, and sweet, all boy, and an amazing big brother. Thank you for making me a mom.

I love you more more more,