29 September 2010

I blogged a few weeks ago about the Game On! challenge I joined and I was buzzing right along in week 2 last time I checked in. I had big plans to do a final re-cap on the last day but life happened and I'm getting to this a few days later.

First off, I survived!! During the first week when I was hungry and grumpy and seriously missing sugar I really wondered what I'd got myself into. And then I got the hang on spacing out my meals and making choices that would help keep me feeling balanced, and the good buzzy hormones from exercising daily kicked in. By the time I was through the second week time was sailing by and I finished out the challenge with (relative) ease.

By the end of the four weeks I dropped 10.8 lbs, a number that I'm really happy with. Jeans that barely fit at the start are now ridiculously baggy (hey look, I made my own boyfriend jeans!) and I'm fitting back into a lot of pre-pregnancy clothing I really missed. I've gained a lot of muscle tone as well, thanks to doing 30 Day Shred, and it' left me feeling stronger and more comfortable in my body.

On the topic of 30 Day Shred, I was zipping along through it and getting quite used to getting my butt kicked on a daily basis. I went from level 1 to level 2 quite quickly and then I made the mostly mental leap to level 3. A few days into doing level 3 I had to stop, though, as the large amount of push-up and plank work was causing some nerve pain in my shoulders. I've worked my way through my fair share of pain while training for half marathons but this felt like the kind of pain not to mess with. I was disappointed not to finish off the exercise program but I ended up being quite happy with switching to running. I hadn't been out for a run in a few months and it was really fantastic to see what a huge impact the cross-training and weight loss had on my running. On my last couple of runs I did a 5k in under 35 minutes and then the next day in under 34 minutes, which is quite quick for me right now.

The other big impact Game On! made on me was to show me just how diligent I could be in keeping my eating in line. The five sanctioned meals each day were quite strict but the meal off and the food day off each week gave me some breathing room. Knowing that certain foods and certain times were totally off-limits really eliminated a lot of eating temptations. I also attribute the ease in this area to the flower essence work I was doing to support my moving away from coping by eating food and downshifting my energy. Eating was about taking care of and fueling my body, not about treats or rewards or distraction.

Overall I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to take part in this challenge. The return to losing weight has been fantastic and I'm another 10 lbs closer to my goal weight. It was also a really good opportunity to see how good and balanced I feel when I actually eat only good foods and exercise and sleep enough. My better health also impacted my family in my ability to parent more fully in the way I want to and in the creation of opportunities to discuss personal health with the kids. I'm looking forward to seeing the ripple effects of my efforts during the following weeks and months to come!

20 September 2010

The kids and I spent today at a friend's home with a handful of other families. The premise was to do some planning work for our Attachment Parenting group but, as always, the "working" portion of the day was only a small part of our time. We chatted about the kids, we ate, we stopped to take care of our kids, and we discussed the things on our minds and hearts.

I've been reflecting on how meaningful and powerful these moments with friends are. There is something so fundamentally important about spending time with people who get me and see the world through similar eyes. Our family has made various parenting, schooling, and lifestyle choices that aren't typical and having a community of people who are operating under the same general principles is something I truly treasure.

On the kid side of things, too, there are some beautiful moments. There are all the bellies of the last couple of years which have now like magic turned into toddlers and small babies in our midst. The older kids seem to randomly make huge developmental leaps and the child who a few months ago may have sat holding Mom's leg is now off adventuring in the trees with friends.

Watching the children is inspiring, the way their imaginations come together to sweep them up in a day of play. They play together as a large group, in smaller groups, or alone in an ever-changing dynamic that is mostly smooth. Sometimes there are hurt feelings, scraped knees, or coveted toys and a parent helps them to work things out and then the fun resumes.

This, I believe, is at the center of what it is to be a person. We're social creatures meant to share moments big and small with the people we hold dear. Sometimes it feels as if our society is so isolated, so cut off one family from another. Coming away from a day like today leaves me with a sense of contentment and comfort, and helps me to remember to appreciate the deep value of friendship.

10 September 2010

Today I've completed the 12th day of the Game On challenge. Just about at the half point, I feel like I'm really settling into a groove with it and reaping some great results.

I feel really good. Between the good food, the exercise, the copious amounts of water, the vitamins, and the flower essences, I'm doing good things to my body and it's being good to me in return. Weight-wise, I'm down something like 7 lbs (my scale is finicky) and a pant size. It's significant enough that I can see a difference and I'm totally stoked as I close in on those last few pounds that will put me at pre-pregnancy weight.

The biggest chunk of effort has definitely been my eating. It's not the avoiding temptation or feeling I'm depriving myself because I'm really not feeling that way at all. The effort is in making sure that my 5 daily meals meet the carb/protein/fat/veggies requirements and that I use my portions wisely in order to hold me through to the next meal. I've spent many minutes chomping at the bit, waiting for my next meal with a growling belly. A few afternoons I've made really good use of my 100 free daily calories by eating some fruit to hold me over until supper.

Exercise is the next area where I've been putting in the most effort. I've mostly been doing Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred video, which is awesome because of its intensity and because it only takes 20 minutes. My time is limited and I quite often work out at 9 pm because it's when I have free time, so I really need something short and intense. I've moved up into Level 2 out of 3 and I think by next week I'll be ready to venture into Level 3. I'm finding a huge difference in my strength during all the plank work and static squats/lunges and I'm really enjoying seeing how much more I can do each night.

I thought that drinking 3L of water daily was going to be a real push, and for the first days it was, but now that I'm used to it I find myself passing the 3L mark around suppertime and often finishing the day off at 4L. Taking vitamins as my new habit has been super simple, as has been including using flower essences. For the flower essences, I made myself a dosage bottle with some essences that are helping me with transition, energy level, and addictive behaviors, and I either take it directly from the bottle or add some to my water.

All in all I'm currently really enjoying the challenge. It's been tough pushing myself out of my comfort zone and I know that I won't continue the really strict eating once my 4 weeks are up but it's got me in a great place for now!

02 September 2010

Parenting is a personal and deeply emotional thing. No two people parent the same and everyone feels like they're trying their hardest (and yet usually failing in some way).

I've seen people latch on to theories from books, advice from others, and behaviors linked to labels. And I've seen a lot of people uncomfortable with their parenting. (And yes, I totally include myself as having been in each of those situations.)

In my almost ten years of parenting I think I've figured a lot of stuff out. Not all of it, obviously, or Nick would be much more zen than he is but I think that having read and experienced a lot of things has given me some perspective and allowed me to find my groove.

In pondering my general parenting philosophy today, I came up with the Ten Un-Commandments of Parenting. They're Un-Commandments because I'm not telling anyone to do them, I'm just sharing the framework I try to work and grow within.

1) Parent consciously
Make choices. Form habits, say words, take actions, and set priorities because you've chosen them, not because you've fallen into a rut or because you're following someone else's "should"s.

2) Parent respectfully
Respect your children as individuals from the beginning of their existence. Trust them, let them make choices, have their opinions count.

3) Assume the best
Assuming your child is operating from the best of intentions changes the tone of interactions. They should have to show you that their behavior is unkind/selfish/hurtful rather than having to prove their good intentions.

4) Parent from the gut
Parents have strong instincts that can guide them in so many different situations and yet we ignore our gut feelings so often because of fear and worry. Following our instincts can bring us amazing things.

5) Touch your child
Touch does some really neat things, from stabilizing heart and breathing rates in babies to diffusing tense situations with older kids. Hug and hold and wrestle with your kids!

6) Do less
We're always so busy doing and going and talking. Sometimes our kids want us to just stop and sit down on the floor with them. Or they want us to give them space to be. Do less and make more room.

7) Have empathy
Getting out of our own head space and seeing things through our children's eyes can change the way we react to situations or can help us to avoid difficult moments.

8) Seek balance for the family
Try to find a way for situations to mostly work for most of the family. Be flexible in finding ways to keep everyone's needs a priority.

9) Be real
Be authentic with your children. They know the difference. Stop worrying about whether you should let them see you cry or find out where your weaknesses are. They can smell fake from a mile away and it doesn't help to build a trusting relationship.

10) Grow yourself
Grow and learn and read more all the time. Become a better parent, a more accomplished artist, a healthier individual. Walk the talk of being a great person and set that in front of your child as an example.

01 September 2010

As an unschooly family our life rolls along all year without holidays or first days of classes and while I appreciate how it means we value the living and learning we do each day I think that it can lead us towards taking for granted the life we have. There is no anticipation for and celebration of summer holidays, no exciting newness in September.

Today, a local homeschool support group called Homebased Learning Society of Alberta put on the annual First Day Not Back To School Picnic. It's a really fun tradition where all sorts of homeschooling families gather at Emily Murphy Park to eat, play, and visit. It's a day where we celebrate the coming year of not sending our kids back to school, on the very day when most families in the city are celebrating sending their kids to their first day of school.

Today informally kicks off the school year for us and I'm taking this opportunity to celebrate the things to come.

I'm celebrating all the mornings I'll get to snuggle on the couch with my kids and eat a home cooked breakfast with them. I'm celebrating the days we'll get up early to get as much time out of our day as possible, and the days we'll sleep in to rest and recover.

I'm celebrating the afternoons we'll spend at the science center, art classes, playgrounds, music classes, friend's houses and forests. I'm also celebrating the afternoons we'll watch Discovery Channel, play board games, create artwork, and bake cookies.

I'm celebrating the evenings we'll spend at Beavers, in the back yard, watching movies, and playing soccer. I'm celebrating the nights the kids will fall in bed exhausted and the times they'll have so much to say that they just won't be able to let the day go.

I'm celebrating the tiny moments that I know I'll witness: light bulbs going off, passions sparking, relationships deepening, and maturity growing. I'm also celebrating the big moments to come: leaps in independence, growth spurts, and the hitting of strides.

I'm excited about the coming year and all the things I don't even know are coming our way yet. This life that I get to live with these children of mine is a great one.

Copyright 2010 In desperate need of entertainment.

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