Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Focusing on what is important.

Parenting can be such a tricky balance. There is almost never a clear answer.

I'm standing at the kitchen counter right now, handling some Amazon returns, and I'm looking at William at the dining room table, building a LEGO Star Wars set. He's struggling here and there, grunting and huffing. I stand here wondering, should I go sit with him and help? Or is it best to let him figure this out on his own?

Meanwhile, the bottom three are outside. I hear them happily playing, and then occasionally, a scream of indignation from Neva or Mac. And I wonder, should I run outside to help them navigate this disagreement? Or do I let them figure it out on their own?

I tend to hover, control, and say too many things.

I also tend to be distracted, unfocused, always busy.

And I have this bent, as I'm sure others do: when life is a struggle, when things are very hard, I find an escape - something to focus on - besides the problem. Work the problem, I know - but sometimes things feel too big to grapple with, and I need a smaller goal to conquer.

So instead of helping with the LEGO set, or running outside to settle the dispute over the Power Wheels dune buggy - or even instead of figuring out whether or not I SHOULD involve myself - I focus on the Amazon returns. Package them up, print the labels.

I want to focus on the important things, but I often don't know how.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Yeah, I’m into fitness. ‘Fitness’ whole box of ice cream bars into my body.

I’m in a melancholy mood. I’m laying next to William, watching him sleep. He’s been throwing up for the last twenty-four hours. We are in Charlevoix for the second time this summer, and had big plans for our last day-and-a-half here. Those plans did not include the stomach flu for my little guy. His eyes are sunken, lids half open as he sleeps, revealing bloodshot eyes. I’m waiting to see if the water he sipped an hour ago will stay down. I’ve coped with the disappointment and sadness of seeing him miserably sick, during what should be the highlight of his summer, by eating. I’ve been stuffing my face non-stop over the past twenty-four hours, as though I’m eating Will’s calories for him, or as though I’m just daring my body to also catch the stomach flu. I came to Charlevoix proud of my abs, and I’m leaving looking six months pregnant. 

Throughout the night I dozed on and off, watching William lay awake between bouts of vomiting. I had fitful dreams, the main one being that I invited all of my MyFitnessPal friends to my home for dinner. We introduced ourselves in person and talked about fitness and injuries. I woke from that dream, missing that community something fierce. Recent circumstances required I delete my MFP account. I’d had that account since 2011, and had logged in daily for almost the past three years. I didn’t realize, when I chose to delete, the profound sense of loss I’d feel after some time had gone by. That group had cheered me on after tough workouts, had encouraged me during those hectic days after having Mac and trying to balance fitness and homeschooling and four small kids. It was nice that they were strangers; I could vent about things I felt my real-life friends would find obnoxious (fitness). We were all there for the same thing, and no one grew bored of hearing about things my real-life friends might find annoying (well, fitness). I think about fitness daily, but I’m well aware that no one cares about how much I can bench, whether or not it’s Flex Friday, or why I can’t decide between a hypertrophy circuit or powerlifting for my next training block. 

So I’m melancholy, because my little boy is so sick, because I feel disgustingly full, and because my fitness community is gone.

But you know what? This is my void, my space in which to blather on and on. So I’m gonna do that. “Sing to Life and Fitness.

So please indulge me as I think aloud, about my training goals for the remainder of summer/fall. I often vacillate between prioritizing aesthetics vs. performance. However, I recently cut down to the 60kg weight class for a powerlifting competition I was thinking of doing this month, and I’m very happy with my appearance. So happy, in fact, that I have not been too concerned about my lifts suffering (probably helps that I decided to not compete after all). So I suppose aesthetics trumps performance during this time of year, and I’m okay with that. I’ve also seen an improvement in my cardio performance, which is almost as important to me as my lifting numbers, so I’d like to include that as a focus. 

Goals for Summer/Fall 2019
1. Maintain weight
2. Train for powerlifting
3. Continue intense cardio

1. Maintain weight. It has become much easier to stay within my macros since beginning intermittent fasting. Yes, most mornings I wake up and do not feel like fasting until dinner. And many nights, I snack beyond my macros. But overall, I’ve been able to remain consistent enough that staying in the 60kg class is very doable, even with an untracked day each week. The problem at hand, however, is that I’m returning home from this trip well over 60kg. I’ve decided to spend the rest of July in a protein-sparing modified fast (beginning 7/29). On August 1, I’ll begin a three-day reverse into maintenance calories (1200, 1500, 1800) where I’ll stay through the rest of summer/fall, depending on weight changes.
2. Powerlifting. I still hope to compete one of these years. After reading extensively about different intermediate lifting programs, I’ve decided to stay with the undulating periodization program I’ve been using. My issues with it have been the length of time required lately (over 90 minutes most days, including child interruptions), and the fact that my numbers have been dropping. This is most likely because I’ve been cutting weight and probably taxing myself a little too much with accessories and excessive warmups. I tend to go all-out and approach my lifting sessions with a rather rigid mindset (“if a little is good, more is better- and if I could do it last week, I better be able to do it today”). I’ll leave the intense cardio for my alternate cardio days and keep the warmup sets and accessories to a minimum. 
3. Intense cardio. I could definitely stand to increase my endurance, and I like to have three alternate cardio days to offset lifting. Insanity Max30 pushes me more than I push myself, and schedule changes have recently eliminated running as a cardio option, so Insanity Max30 it is. These half-hour workouts are really challenging for me, so they’re a better option than running in a few ways. I’ll miss seeing the fireflies come out during my evening runs, though. 

So having taken the time to read, research, and think out loud here, I guess I’ve decided to move forward without changing much. Ha! That’s probably a good thing- hopefully it means I’ve been on the right track. I’ll be retesting my one-rep max in about a week, and I’ll be taking some notes during my PSMF/reverse, so I’ll include those here later. 

It’s taken me several minutes, here and there, to write this post today, between packing and taking care of the kiddos. I’m happy to report that William did stop vomiting around 10 AM and ate some potato chips at lunchtime (it was all I could find to entice him- nothing else would work!). We left CHX at 3:30 PM, are almost home, and he has slept most of the way. And I’m feeling a little less blue- clarifying goals always helps me perk up. I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep, a solid training session tomorrow, and the memory of those Dove bars and cheesecake to carry me through the next week. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Morning rescue

There’s a small egress in the courtyard garden, and a few days ago, Brian found about thirty tiny wood frogs hopping around inside it, unable to get out. He yelled for the boys: “Hey guys, let’s go rescue some frogs!”

The next day, the kids and I went to weed the garden. “Wow!” shouted Barrett, looking down into the egress. “Those baby frogs are back!” Apparently, not all the frogs had been rescued. 

William rushed over. “Oh boy,” he complained, unable to keep the delight out of his voice, “I guess we’re just gonna have to come out here every morning and rescue these frogs.”

It took the boys a while to catch the tiny amphibians that had evaded their rescue the day before. Every time he captured one, Barrett ran over to me. “Mom, look at this tiny one!” They were all identical, the size of a blueberry, but at each new capture I exclaimed, “Wow! Now that’s a really cute one!”

At one point, William approached me in concern. “Mom, we’re gonna have to take the house apart. The frogs are getting stuck in some tiny cracks.”

Once, during the rescue, I heard Mac’s deep voice behind me: “Fron.” He was serious, intent on the tiny frog he had pinched within in his fingers. (I’m not sure how that particular frog fared in the end.)

I overheard William saying, “Boy, their mom must be really dumb. Why would she keep laying her eggs in this hole?” 

“Oh no,” Barrett lamented a minute later. “I think this one is dead.” After a second, when the frog leapt from his open hand to safety, he exclaimed, “Wow! He wasn’t dead! He was just playing dead! Mom, these frogs love me! They love to play with me! They love to play dead. Did you know a wood frog can play dead, mom? I didn’t know that. And now I know it’s their favorite game!”

At the zoo

“Look at the penguins,” I say. “This one is so close, Neva.” We can see the tiny air bubbles clinging to his feathers as he swims up to the window and takes a fish off the ledge, inches away. On your hands and knees on the ledge on our side of the glass, you peer closely at him, delighted by his proximity. “He likes me!” Of course he’s not coming to peek at you, Neva- he wants the fish. I say, “He does like you.”

“It’s time to move on,” daddy says. I put my hands under your armpits and swing you off with a smile. “Whee!” I say. When your feet touch the floor, you push my hands away with a scowl. “I wanted to do it myself,” you say. 

“Well, I wanted to help you because I love you.”

“Hold me,” you suddenly demand, but a second later you run away to look at the ice display with your brothers. On the way up the stairs, your hand finds my hand, only to pull it away again. You do it a second time- grasp, pull away. You want to know I’m there, but you don’t really want my help. I interpret in that second: you don’t want my company. Frustrated and rejected, momentarily unable to separate you from your childish rebellion, I quickly move ahead a couple of steps and leave you to finish the stairs alone. It’s what you want. 

In the bathroom, I take you potty in the largest stall. Now it’s Mac’s turn, and I let him take a turn on the toilet before laying him on the changing table and giving him a fresh diaper. In the meantime, you meander around the stall. “Mom, I’m touching the wall. Mom, I’m touching the floor.”  I’m determined not to be ruffled. “Nice, Neva.” Despite all the times I’ve encouraged- instructed- you to not touch anything in a public bathroom, you are compelled by a defiant curiosity.  

Then, you move to leave, and as you are about to open the bathroom stall door and walk away, I say sternly, “Do not open that door.” Without breaking my gaze, you slowly lift your hand and you touch the latch again. 

In a swift moment I have reached down with my bare hand and I smack your thigh, the soft part of your leg showing just underneath your short summer dress. “I said to not open the door,” I say in a strained voice. You snatch your hand back and you begin to cry you turn away from me, hiding your face.

I despise myself in that moment. 

I get it. I understand you. I, too, “kick against the goads.” I understand how you are driven to do that same thing you’ve been instructed many times to never do. I understand how you want to know that you can do it alone, how you resent unsolicited help- or rather, resent the fact that you may need it. I understand, when you cling to me, that it’s because you realize you do need me, and it’s for that same reason that you reject me a moment later.

When I was sixteen, I was warned that I had an “independent spirit.” Not long after, there was a healing service at the church, and I asked the elders to pray that I would be delivered from this “independent spirit.” They laid hands on me and prayed, but like others who walked away that day unchanged, I am still afflicted. For better or for worse, this independent spirit remains. 

“Neva,” I say softly, kneeling to your eye level, one hand on Mac as he squirms on the table. “You can’t leave me.” My heart sinks when I see that your eyes are still full of tears. How could I possibly hate your own independent spirit? And yet, I know this world better than you. I want to keep you safe. I want to hold your hand and walk with you, to enjoy your company. I don’t want you to be alone. 

You cannot do it alone, Neva. A life independent of Christ is a frightening prospect. You can do all things, you will do all things- but it has to be through Him. And I am daunted by the responsibility of demonstrating this to you, of being the one to teach you this, when I have not learned it myself.