Gusto!

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I’m sitting out the exercise game this week. I did something to my back during Monday’s Zumba and with my previous injury to my left pectoral muscle, I thought it was probably my body telling me to chill out a little, so I’m taking the week off. My back feels right as rain again, but my chest still hurts. I spent a day at the river in a bathing suit with little support, then all of my sports bras were in the wash and I ended up taking two steps back with my injury, there, but I don’t think it will prevent me from exercising with gusto next week. At least that’s my plan…
Side note-I love the word gusto! There’s a spoken word titled I Eat With Gusto, Damn, You Bet! by Jonathon Richman that I just love. What I don’t love so much is how that poem is so accurate for me right now. I’m eating like crazy! Craving everything! The heat makes me lazy and apathetic, the PMS is raining the munchies down on me and allllll the best foods come in boxes or bags necessitating little time spent in front of a hot stove or oven. I fear that I got back on the wagon a week or so ago and then hopped right back off. With some Tillamook Peanut Butter Chocolate crack ice cream that makes me have little control when it’s in my house. Paired with the lack of working out and I’m a little freaked out about what the scale will say next time I have the courage to hop on.
Yesterday we went to the Henry Art Gallery on the University of Washington campus and spent some time walking through a huge room filled wall to wall with 14 feet of balloons for the Martin Creed installation of ‘Half the Air in a Given Space 360‘. It was a pretty phenomenal experience for me. I have a thing for balloons. Ever since Donnie and Marie Osmond’s variety show that ended in a cascade of balloons every night, I have wanted a room full of balloons. I even did a small scale of it for Bradley for our first Valentine’s Day. Or a swimming pool filled with marshmallows. Or a bathtub filled with jello. You know- one of those ‘too much’ kinds of opportunities to be surrounded with something silly and superfluous. Well, I got it and loved it. I can’t stop thinking about and I’m telling everyone they should totally go. YOU SHOULD. And if you go on the third Thursday in July, August or September it’s free. Just go. It’s simply an amazing experience.
For your viewing pleasure: I Eat with Gusto…:

And if you’re looking for the second installment for my novel, jump on over through the link to read all about my early attempts at exercise, weightloss and the conception of my little Judel-bop!

I wrestled with the decision to lose weight quite a bit. It was terrifying to consider the failures that were potentially in front of me. First, I could suffer the humiliation of failing to lose the weight. Letting people know I was going on a diet and failing to lose weight would be a very public failure. If I told them I was losing fat to gain a child, the unspoken words in their heads about not getting this fat in the first place intimidated me. On top of that, what if I did all this work and didn’t even get a baby? Just because I lost a little bit of weight wouldn’t also mean that I automatically would get a baby.
My dear husband didn’t apply any pressure. He knew that this was going to have to be my decision and any pressure he put on was not going to help. Weight has always been a hot button topic between us. He never minded that I was fat- on the contrary. He liked me as a big, round, soft girl. It was my self perception that made me defensive. He gloried in my curves and loved me however I came to him- 220 or 320. He just loved me, always. He was also, quite simply, pleased with having the one kid that we already had. He was worried that adding another would actually compromise the love we already had with our daughter. He wasn’t sure that adding another kid would add much more than financial strife. This decision was truly mine and he was fine either way.
I quietly took the leap in January of 2007. It started by stopping eating a lot of sugar and going for walks a little bit more. It wasn’t super obvious, but Bradley picked up on it immediately and joined in. He embraced running using a couch to 5K app and just rocketed off as a runner; by the end of spring he was running three to five miles once or twice a day. He discovered that it helped his moods, seemed to fight of depression and was an instant fix when he would get anxious or worried.
I also made significant progress. While the weight was coming off fairly slowly, it was actually coming off! It seemed that cutting out sugar and just going for walks was making a significant difference. I let myself lean on crutches like diet soda and sugar free chocolates to get me beyond the sugar addiction and was amazed at the difference. It was working, and I decided then that temporary crutches are always ok if they help you get over a hurdle. I still think that.
By the time June hit I was weighing in at 280 and was feeling light, slender, beautiful and ready to stop trying for a baby. It seemed like we had given the whole second baby thing enough time. I was on year four of ‘trying’ and was done with riding the merry- go- round of infertility. Every month would start out with a fresh start and so much optimism. It would start with medications that were expensive and made me moody. Inevitably every month would end with tears as my period came or I’d read yet another negative pregnancy test. I was ready to just let it go, get active and spoil my daughter rotten. I told Bradley that once the medication ran out, I was done. I worked on embracing the idea of being an only child kind of family. Of wrapping my mind around the firsts with my daughter also being the lasts. I was happy and ready to move on.
I took my last round of medicine in early July and off we went to Disneyland. At the time, I was actually on a medication intended for post-menopausal cancer patients in recovery. It seems it kicked ovulation into gear for those ladies, it might just work for me, too. Guess what? It did. We were in Disneyland and I was exhausted. Disneyland does that to people, but I was taking midday naps at the hotel and was simply worn out!
Then Guinevere started talking about her little brother. She told us that when he finally got here she could be Ariel and he would dance with her as Prince Eric. She told us about meeting this little guy up in heaven. You see, according to our three year old, there was a big bag of babies up in heaven. When she was at the bottom of the bag, looking for her parents on earth, she saw Bradley and I and thought we looked like the right people for her. Then, right next to her, was a little baby boy who was thinking the same thing. She grabbed his hand and together they swam to the top of the bag of babies to let God know that they had made a decision. Gigi was going to come to us first, followed by the baby boy a little later. This was all manufactured by her as we don’t practice a specific organized religion other than being kind, good, giving considerate and spiritual. We sat her down and explained to her that, while we had done our best, she was going to be our only child. Other babies weren’t coming, Mommy’s body was having too hard of a time growing one. She nodded like she understood, but for the remainder of our trip, she kept bringing up her baby brother who would dance with her. Finally she told us that she knows we aren’t having a baby but she still thought her brother was coming. Of course, she was right. I got home and took a pregnancy test. Sure enough, we were expecting baby number two to arrive sometime in March. We couldn’t have been happier!
I decided that this pregnancy would be different than the sleepy nine months I spent with Guinevere in my belly. This time I was going to keep on walking. I had even started running a little and had worked up to 1/4 of a mile at a time. We played tennis regularly, rode bikes and didn’t dial back my exercise even a little. I was determined to power through this pregnancy like a boss! That lasted a short period of time, though.

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This pregnancy was very different, just different than I had expected! First off, I started bleeding at eight weeks as I was setting up my classroom and had to dial back my activity level quite significantly. Then my gall bladder started acting up, leaving me gasping for pain 3-9 hours at a time once or twice a week as I worked through those. Since becoming pregnant was such a challenge, I refused to have the gall bladder removal surgery that might unintentionally and spontaneously abort him at 16-20 weeks. My son sat all sideways and funny during my pregnancy and I was just incredibly uncomfortable. If my first pregnancy was a dream, my second one was a nightmare that cured me of wanting anymore children. I unintentionally lost weight while I was pregnant, getting down to a low 255, as women who are morbidly obese often do. Our hormones are out of whack, quite often when we have PCOS, and pregnancy was a time of hormonal normalcy for me, enabling surprising changes like weightloss during both pregnancies. I decided that after the baby was out of me, I was going to pick up my activity level where I left off and continue to work my way down the scale, and that’s exactly what I did.
March, 2008, came and went, and with it came a son. Within four weeks after I delivered, I was back to walking on the track, hitting the trails, and now, with a new baby in tow in a caboose behind my bike, we were riding all over our little city, making sure to get out and about. I started riding my bike to work and back, determined to continue the trajectory. But two things happened. I got plantar fasciitis to the point that I needed a sleeping boot and surgery was discussed. It was bad. I could hardly walk without limping; forget thinking about running or truly training. I was in pretty intense pain. The second thing that happened was that I had my gall bladder removed and could eat fat again. So I ate fat. The morning after surgery, I ate French toast with peanut butter and syrup and it didn’t stop there. My gall bladder had been so sensitive for the duration of my pregnancy that even the small amount of fat from a little black olive would guarantee a night of extreme pain while my gall bladder constricted around my stones, trying to help digest the fat I had consumed with it’s release of bile. Now that I could eat fat again, I did so with gusto.
Without even being aware, I went from 255 to 290 by the end of summer, and when I returned to school in the fall, I continued to hike up the scale. I got to 309 by December and was just so, terribly unhappy. I knew how much work I had put into losing the weight. I knew how good I felt when I was about 50 pounds lighter, even with a baby inside of me, and I could no longer lie to myself that I was ok at this weight. I knew I wasn’t. I knew life was better as a lighter person. I knew I was more capable of being a better mom when I was lighter.
Again, I decided it was time to do something about it, so I started a new plan. This time, I wasn’t going to go all out, crazy. This time I decided to just do what I could, and what I could do was go slow. There was nothing more in front of me to work towards except a longer life and smaller chance of being diagnosed with diabetes. I set a goal to lose one pound per month. My thinking was that any loss was better than a gain, and maintaining was better than gaining. Losing 100 pounds was overwhelming, but getting down to 280 in a year or two was something I could do, so I started.

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