One Little Thing Un-Diet, phase 2

**We’re having a flash giveaway of an Ergo brand baby carrier: Click here to read how!  Ends soon!**

The school year is under way, our paperwork is submitted, and I have been drinking nothing but water (mostly) for the past month.  I have to say, I don’t really like that not-drinking thing.  I have had a few celebratory Dr. Peppers, and three cups of flavored coffee, but they are few and far between.  I have never done that before.

I think I’m pretty much the same size, but oh well, it was about changing something.  Just switching to only water wasn’t enough to make me lose some size.  No biggie.  I bought 3 adorable scarves on clearance yesterday and an outfit for court (wishful thinking, but it was a sweet deal).  I can look good at this size (like a 16 in jeans).

JR, me, and Cal at the Buddy Walk this Saturday–doing some PR for Reece’s Rainbow!

But, I think a 12 in jeans would pretty much let me wear whatever I want and be a lot better for me physically in the long-run.  So, on to phase 2.

I’m sure I had a plan, but I didn’t even re-read that blog post.

Because there’s no “must do.”  Just one little thing.

So, starting this week, I am exercising Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings for an hour with a group of friends.  They’ve been doing it for a while at this discount workout place (we spend more on our weekly milk budget than the monthly fees), and today I joined them.  I am doing an hour because I can easily take it slowly and work within my fitness level.  I trained for and ran two half-marathons this spring and on Memorial day weekend.  I have done almost nothing since.  I didn’t increase jean sizes this summer, but they got a little tighter.

So, I think adding working out back in will be a good way to get back to size 16, not snug.

Remember, the goal is to change as little as I possibly can to lose weight, using these guidelines:

1) No removing food groups from my diet, cutting out fat or carbs
2) No deliberate calorie restriction of any kind
3) No powders, shakes, meal replacers, pills

And, whatever I do, I have to be able to continue it for the rest of my life, so it has to be reasonable.  So, give me a call at 5:45 on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.  I’ll be up, working out in a way that doesn’t destroy me for the rest of the day.  Tuesday or Thursday, don’t call before 9.  I am probably still sleeping.

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One Little Thing Un-Diet

For about a year now I have boasted to myself that I am happy with how I look, and content to be functional at any weight.  And it’s worked.  I am.  But, there also has to be a way to lose weight without hating yourself, without playing the game.

So, I am attempting to uncover it.

I don’t want to poison my heart by reading books about weight loss that start with the premise that your current lifestyle is disgusting, needs to be purified, or that you need to purge all of your current happiness to create the pristine, perfect, thin version of you.

The one book series that qualifies, I read many years ago.   They were recommended by a nutritionist whose name I forget, but whose unashamed love of Kellogg’s Pop-tarts was unforgettably comforting.  It was written by a woman who was tired of female dieters destroying their metabolisms to get ahead.  She also wrote a book on how mothers’ relationships with food influence their daughters.  And then, a follow up book about how women store fat and lose weight differently after pregnancy.  Here are their little pictures, so feel free to read them on your own, but just know they are the influence behind my current pursuit: The One Little Thing Un-diet.

So, here’s my idea. We all hear about crazy things that people do to radically change their lifestyle and become super-fit. But, I’m not interested in radically changing anything. But, I have gained maybe 10 pounds (just guessing, because I haven’t weighed myself in months) since starting the adoption journey. So, I am going to try to play a little game of Kerplunk and pull the right stick to make the marbles fall.

Maybe I’ll fail miserably, but I have nothing to lose, as my plan in the meantime is to continue doing nothing in pursuit of losing weight in a way that I wouldn’t worry about my daughters doing some day.

Here’s how it works.  First things first: the second I decided to do the idea, I started.  I didn’t wait until Monday, because if it was something I would have to work myself up to, I would not still be pursuing it on Tuesday.  I pick One Little Thing that I think has been making me gain weight.  I am a scientist.  I was trained that you need to only change one variable at a time and see what works.  What if I cut out all dessert only to find out that I could have kept my unadulterated, good metabolism going by only cutting out dessert twice a week or moving my dessert to before dinner?  Completely purging “bad” habits from an eating lifestyle is irrational, and punitive to me.

I am going to change that One Little Thing, and only that One Little Thing, until I don’t feel like I struggle with it anymore.  I will keep doing only that One Little Thing differently until I stop losing weight/fitting into my clothes better, or whatever benchmark you use.  I will not be using a scale.  Well, maybe once a month on the Wii.  Nope, maybe not even there.  I think I am going to mess with the whole system and just go with how my jeans fit right out of the dryer (right now: snug).  Yeah, that’s better.  No scales.  I want to see if I am faithful to this system, if it might work.

So, here’s my first Little Thing.  I am cutting out all beverages but water, calorie-free tea, and black coffee.  No Crystal Light, no diet Coke.  No milk in the coffee.  The goal is to cut off the “flavored beverages make everything taste better” effect.  That means no milk with my cookies.  I do think milk is a really nutritious food, but I am trying to kill the little fizzy release of feel good chemicals that happen when I eat a bite of cake and drink half my glass of milk.  I am only going to eat milk in my cereal with a spoon.  I am not adding it to my coffee because coffee becomes my vehicle to down three gulps of French Vanilla goodness in between bites of my buttered bagel.  I am not having watered-down, freezing cold apple juice with my macaroni and cheese (don’t you judge me), because it balances the cheesy goodness so very well.  I really, really love the way flavored drinks pair with food.  So, let’s take a break from that.  Maybe forever.  I don’t know.

And when I feel so sad about this One Little Thing (which I have been doing since Sunday afternoon with Andy), I will console myself like I always do when the food release I had longed for wasn’t there.  I will eat a buttered bagel with a glass of water.  I will eat three cookies with a cup of black (or, as I call it, blech) coffee.  I will do whatever I want while I mourn this loss, because I don’t have to stress about the other things.  Just this One Little Thing.

Last night, I only ate one of my insanely delicious Pampered Chef Avocado Lime Fish taco.  Ten minutes later I was almost uncomfortably full.  With a Dr. Pepper in hand, I would have eaten three of them.  So, there it is.

I have to just try one little thing, because what if this One Little Thing is the ONLY thing holding me back from being the size I want to be?

Don’t be fooled, One Little Thing doesn’t make it painless.  I just makes it manageable, focused pain.  It alters one variable to see if that’s the culprit.  I think it makes sense.  I don’t think shakes and 1,200 calories a day do.

And in case you’re wondering, here are my next little steps:

1) Cut out beverages with calories.
2) Move 90 minutes more every week, at least 30 minutes at a time. (Yes, exercise.)
3) Stop eating after dinner.
4) Only eat one dessert food a day (hehe, suck it all you haters–I eat dessert like 3 times a day now! I told you I had a great metabolism considering how much I eat!)
5) I can’t decide yet, there’s so much stuff I eat that people whould gasp at, I just can’t even think of what to do next!)

What I won’t be doing:
1) Removing food groups from my diet, cutting out fat or carbs
2) Calorie Restriction of any kind
3) Powders, shakes, meal replacers, pills

I’ll probably come up with more, but that will do for now. I also have to say that I really don’t expect any adulation for these barely-noticeable changes. Nor do I expect extreme, impressive results. I am not even doing this to be healthier. I think my body is pretty good at filtering out the garbage I generally put in it.  I just want to fit into a slightly smaller size of double-digit pants.  I want to establish the “rules” that work for my body without speculating on the the rules that work for yours.

And for today, and if it works, then for forever, I am doing that One Little Thing at a time.

Be Strong. Rock on.

As many of you have seen via Facebook, we have an auction going on right now to bring little Thadius home.  Two of the many amazing items up for bids have been generously donated by Andrew Banar of Group Hug Apparel.

Andrew was born with Down syndrome, and an irrepressible zest for life.  One day, when his cousin was going off to college, Andrew decided he wanted to go, too.  He needed to raise some funds, however.  His mom, Karen Pickle, suggested taking one of his rock and roll sketchings and turning it into a t-shirt design.  They have used much of the funding received to support various charitable organizations.

Any t-shirt from the website and infant onesie in our auction feature Andrew’s own artwork, and are sold by a company he owns.   To keep up with the many adventures of Group Hug Apparel bringing joy, fun, and rock-star status to events all over Canada, click here: Group Hug Blog.

Imagine how you could help Andrew change the world by sharing his story and his message, one t-shirt at a time.  Be strong.  Rock on.  With friends.

Heavy Work

**Our Auction to Bring Thadius home is now live!  Please check out our 50+ items, including an incredible hand-blown glass vase, Hoover vacuum, Ergo baby carrier, Gently used Halloween costume swap, Russian Language program, Silpada gift card, jewelry, and much more!***

Today was our third day at Vacation Bible School in our church.  With my three big kids and two “nieces of the heart” attending, I figured I better strap Hoss on my back and participate.  I have been stationed with the three-year olds as self-appointed potty master, spontaneous game provider, and conversation starter.  I love it.

The best thing about it is a little boy in the group who just reminds me so much of JR at 3.  He needs to wander sometimes, has to touch things–ok, everything– and interrupts with brilliant ideas.  For fun, let’s call him Matt.  Matt is simply not designed for the contained movement /quiet listening activities that an indoor class requires.  He can do it, sure, but only for short periods of time.

I seriously love him.

The other kids (even bouncy Lumpy) are content to sit and listen to a story while Matt’s feet are tapping out heavy metal drumbeats on the floor in front of him.  What on earth are we supposed to do with a child like Matt?  Like my JR?

Heavy work.

Little story for you.  Sometimes a woman in labor is interrupted by getting in a car, an unsettling nurse or doctor, or having an anxious relative in the room.  If this woman’s body secretes an adrenaline rush, it can take 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity (or a whopping dose of Pitocin, no comment) to overcome its effects.  Vigourous activity refocuses the body.

Antsy kids are very similar.

You can start disciplining them (“Sit still, Matt”), physically redirecting them (“Hold my hand now, Matt”), or punish them (“You’re going to have to leave the room if you can’t participate, Matt”).  But, you’ll fail.  The thing that reverses the antsy-ness in these kids is heavy work.  All of my kids need this some days.

I didn’t always call it “heavy work.”  I learned the term in this incredible adoption book, which should really be re-packaged as a plain old parenting book, The Connected Child.

I watched the practice of it through two amazing adoptive parents who committed fully to helping their son overcome his destructive behaviors.  It works like this: instead of making our expectations more clear to a bouncing, distracted child, my husband and I try to put their muscles to work.  Here’s how we do it.

1)  We set the task.  Note, no correction, I go to kid, and make the offer, no preamble.  A distracted child has a very hard time knowing what will bring him back down to earth.  This can be:
-“I really need someone to move 12 logs from the woodpile next to the shed.”
-“Can you please pull this laundry basket filled with all the books on the floor upstairs to your bedroom?”
-“Can you take all of the cans and put them in this box for me?”  

It has to be weird enough that the kiddo is intrigued.  Also, it can’t just be just a running activity or a large body-movement activity.  Those activities seem to ramp my kids up and encourage more distraction, with the calm alertness following maybe 30 minutes later.  It needs to have some resistance to make it count.  By setting the task for him we are also ferreting out true “energy overload” from disobedience. (The disobeying kid will refuse in a nasty way…well, my kids will anyway.)

2) Let go of any expectation that kiddo will return to a chilled-out state immediately.  Let him do heavy work until the group starts a new task.

3) Don’t make a big deal of it.  Thank him, and move on. Defend him if other kids ask what that was all about: “JR was just helping me with something.”

Today we were two hours in, and fresh from the creative (light) play room, where there was no splashing allowed at the water table and you could use playdough while sitting only. This meant music time was doomed from the start for Matt.  The problem came on suddenly, and I intended to step back, as one of the counselors was his regular babysitter. But I intervened when he was cornered, and about to be begged to sit and listen.  

I approached them and asked Matt to push the chairs across the carpet for me, which he could accomplish soundlessly and out of the line of sight of the other kids.  Without hesitation, he complied.  He moved heavy wooden chairs one side to the other five times while I stood back and “ignored” him.  The teacher, however, noticed, and came up to correct Matt, leaning on the chair he was about to start moving to get him to stop.  I don’t fault her at all.

The traditional model of good teaching means full compliance from every student, to ensure the knowledge is transferred and none of the other children are distracted.  But Matt is three years old.  He has ages to put in place the ability to override his body’s need to move in a way that is deliberate and calorie-burning and with great purpose.  But, he also has a good three years to be corrected, disciplined and pushed before he is ready into this desired outcome.

I came up to our teacher a half-second later, and briefly explained he was doing the work for me.  It really wasn’t fair of me to spring such a radical idea on her, directly in her line of sight, while she was in charge of the whole class.  She did smile indulgently at me, and continued the class, like it was part of the plan. Wonderful woman.  But, I thought it was worth the risk of insulting her, because Matt was so, so good at it.  When he initially refused to sit down, he wasn’t asking for unstructured, special exemption, breaking the rules time.  He was asking for something he could do with his body that would let some of the anxiety he was feeling burn itself out.  

At craft time, 10 minutes later, he sat down, was engaged in the craft, and was just part of the class.

And I felt really good.  Actually, egotistical parent that I am, I came here to brag about it.  But, mostly, to give you, and your kid, another tool. Our children were designed to learn with physical movement and play at this age.  We are transferring so much knowledge into them at such a young age, desk time is considered more and more valuable.  Maybe these ideas will let our classroom-bound little ones have access to heavy blocks instead of light-weight cardboard ones.  Or carry weights in relay races instead of light batons.  Or have full-weight balls to hurl at a target instead of lightweight foam balls to gently toss. Are we truly trying to teach our children that they must always be gentle? I’m not.

Heavy work can be lifeline for children who have not yet mastered homeschool or traditional classroom expectations of impulse control, contained play, fine-motor skills, and good listening.  I hope that someday when they are able to do these things, they will not be defined by the discipline and stigma of who they were as preschoolers.

Not Playing The Game

One of the things I wrote on the sign on our front door keeps buzzing in my ear, because I think it needs further explanation.  It reads “Young girls’ hearts are being grown here.  Please don’t refer to diets or being fat when kids are in earshot.”  So, although I think this may not be received well, here it is:

So many of us emphasize how incredible our daughters are, just the way they are.  It would kill me to think of Cal or Lumpy standing in front of a mirror one day and beating her hips and belly, tearing at her arms or thighs, shuddering in disbelief at the foul beast that her body has become.  Crying in a dressing room at a department store, hanging up the Misses size 16s and leaving in pain rather than admit to the indignities of the Women’s section.

Does this song speak to your heart?:

I know.  I have been this woman.  But, a while ago, I decided that I am not playing the game.  You know…the game where we decide we want to be hot, so we tell our friends “I’m disgusting” and they deny it, then we declare we’re losing weight, then we decide to do it together.  Yeah, that game.

I have never been on a diet for more than 24 hours.  I simply can’t do it.  Okay, I ate fat-free for six weeks when pregnant with Lumpy, and maybe 3 weeks with Hoss, but to diet all day, every day, with the purpose of losing weight…never.  I have once lost weight.  I lost 10 pounds before a friend’s wedding by not eating dessert for six weeks two years ago.  So, was that maybe a diet?  This friend and I both were pregnant within 2 weeks, though, and we laugh that it was all downhill from there.

But, I really don’t diet.  As a result, I don’t hate myself on a daily basis.  I know dieting must not do that to some women, but it does for me.  I do like when I don’t look quite so lumpy, and I do like the feeling of going down a size in jeans, but I can’t do anything with weight loss being my goal.  I just die a little inside.

But, I do believe in being fit.  I can run as far as I want to; I can carry every one of my children up- and downstairs.  My blood values are perfect and my resting heart rate and blood pressure classify me as an athlete.  But here’s the sneaky thing.  Women who are “fit” should look a certain way.  And that way is not like me.  If most women got up three days a week at 5:30 to run an hour at 6, but looked like me, they would be cursing their will power and begin waging the battle on the eating front.

I can’t do that.

I am made differently, I guess.  I was raised with really unrealistic perceptions of my beauty (did you know I was the most beautiful child that ever lived?), and I kid you not: it worked.  My parents never ridiculed my physical appearance…except to tell me “you’ll grow into your weight and slim down when your body is ready, like your sister did.”  It was true.  Then I went to college and ate my way through 6 pants sizes and all the anxiety I was feeling about my transition into grown-up-dom. I never really lost that weight, and got married at the exact same weight I am today. It was hard to love a person that size-especially because it was me, and now can’t be repaired after 4 kids.

Today, I think I am beautiful if I am functional.  I am crazy functional.  I can run.  I can lift.  I can push a full grocery cart while holding a preschooler’s hand, restraining the toddler, and wearing the baby on my back.  I make milk.  I make people.  What is there not to love, here?

I have never dyed my hair, but granted, it is fairly fabulous hair-crazy thick and blonde highlights.  I now have bangs, because I also have flat iron skills.  I look half decent when I wear make-up.  I even know how to put it on, and showed my mom a swank eye shadow trick last week.  I have a brown melasma splotch on my face and this weird little bump on my nose, that if I thought about it, must make people stare.  I don’t care.  I got it cut off once and it came right back.  It’s meant to be there.  My lips are huge.  My feet are my best feature.  My body is lumpy below my waist, on my hips, and I have the most ridiculous calves.  (I can’t believe I am doing this, but alas, this post has a full-body picture of me wearing mostly spandex…you’ll see I am not kidding about any of this.)  I can see this body for what it is, because it doesn’t own me.  It is my temple, and sometimes, my temple needs three desserts.  For breakfast.

In fairness, sometimes a tight waistband makes me want to cry because I hate how that looks.  Frumpy.  Out of style.  Out of control.  Many people who have tried to support me have suggested I pursue my unstated desire when I complain: lose weight.  But is that really what I want?  No.

I am so torn, because I see friends posting weight loss achievements and posting new diet plans, or lower dress sizes, and all I can think is I don’t know what to say.  I am so, so happy they are feeling awesome about themselves.  I want to encourage that.  But, I don’t want to encourage weight loss in general.  Is the diet healing their body?  Is it nourishing their soul?  Or is it punitive and filled with health risks?  I tend to err on the side of the latter.

Changing how you eat is crazy hard, and weight loss as the result of it is socially praised, and really rewarding and motivating.  But, it’s so hard for me to praise because I’m not playing the game.

If we don’t like how we look, why are women encouraged to lose weight?  In my world, if I look bad, I need a new haircut and clothes that fit.  If I’m unhappy with my body, it’s because I’m unhappy with the way it functions, and that’s what I work on.  The looks often don’t follow.  I am at peace with that.

Because I know how weird this is, I just tell people I’m nursing, and don’t want to jeopardize my milk supply by reducing calories.  But actually, I’m living with my body how I hope, and expect, my daughters to live with theirs’.  I don’t care what they look like.  I care what they can do.  If 230 pounds, size 22 keeps her blood chemistry in line and her BP and heart rate where they’re supposed to be, and she can meet her fitness goal, I just can’t condone restrictive dieting for weight loss.

A friend called this week and asked me how I deal with post-baby weight loss, and instead of telling her about the one book I read about how women lose weight post-partum, I simply told her, I’m not the right person to ask.  Because I just don’t think about it.  But even worse, in my heart of hearts, I don’t think she should either.  I know you’re not supposed to say that, to each her own, but it’s true for me.  Eating a different way to become a certain size seems self-destructive, even if the size you became was by eating self-destructively, too.  Because, isn’t that just more of the same?  I hate myself, so I eat.  I hate myself, so I starve…so I can love myself again.  There must be something more than this destructive, punitive game so many women play.

In their incredibly affirming book, Captivating, John and Stasi Eldredge speak about the very nature of woman.  It comes down to this: A woman is defined by the beauty she creates, and by the beauty she possesses.  God created woman to be this part of Himself to Earth.  Every part of this essence reflects the beauty of God in relationship and in the Creation.

Call me simple or old-fashioned, but I believe very deeply in the destructive power of Satan. He works by separating people from God.  This book helped me put words to this knowledge that was built into my heart: Separate a woman from her beauty and separate a woman from God. Satan delights in our self-doubt, as we actively dismiss our beauty.

What this means to me is that whether the woman actually is more beautiful by society’s standards at size 6 compared to 16 has nothing to do with the beauty she sees in her heart.  If maintaining a size 6 is a daily, punitive, destructive commitment, that woman is shackled by her beauty.  If eating herself sick into that 16 because she’ll never be a size 6 is a daily commitment, that woman is shackled by her beauty.

I cannot wish that for any woman, not just my daughters.

So while I would like to explain the rest of my journey that led to this peace, I won’t.  For each woman it means something different.  Maybe it means weigh-ins and using measuring cups at breakfast, but I doubt it.  But maybe.  But, I know that many, many women have a lot of grieving to work through about the pain their body has brought into their lives.  If your heart is able, start today.

Even more, I know that God is desperately desiring you to realize the incredible woman you are, to go all Queen Latifah on every room you walk in to.  To be the woman who has that special something, that confidence that means “all is right in my heart.”  To be the person who can look out into a world of hurting women and offer them comfort. Offer them peace.  Invite them to let this go.  Take a friend shopping in the Women’s section and dress her to kill in a great size 18, or 26, or 4 that really shows the world that she’s got it figured out.  Because there’s so much more that we have been made to do.  So many better ways we can use our energies and time.  I am praying that we all don’t waste any more of it in dressing rooms, crying in front of mirrors that lie.

If you can’t do it yet for you, start small, like me. Do it for her:

I’m putting this picture of me as a kid on the fridge instead of that “motivating” fridge photo-reminder of who I once was, or who I don’t want to be again.

Whose life are you shaping?

Isn’t she amazing?

Teach this song to her and make sure the words are written in her heart:

The risk is that you might end up looking like me.

The bigger risk is that you might like it.