Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Weight of Motherhood (Series, Part 5)

This post contains affiliate links. More information is available at the end of the post.

This is the last post in this series. So far, I have been discussing my relationship with my weight as a woman and especially as a mother. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, Part 3 here and Part 4 here.

In this last post, I want to discuss my weight in relation to my faith.

I recently read a wonderful book, Dear and Glorious Physician. It is the story of St. Luke. In it, St. Luke or Lucanas as he is called throughout most of the book, learns the ways of medicine and ministers to the poor as a physician. Again and again, a theme is present: the connection between body and soul.

"The disease is not only the whole man, but also his soul. A sick spirit creates a sick body, or a sick body creates a sick soul. Not only must the flesh and its disease be treated, but the mind also. It is very possible, though not proved, that all diseases, even those epidemic, originate in some secret chamber of the soul."

Of course, today we have a much different understanding of medicine. However, I do believe that there is some truth in this. How can our spirits be thriving if we do not take care of the temple of our bodies?

Another example. Recently we watched The Mission, a wonderful movie. In it, Father Gabriel ministers to and evangelizes a remote, indigenous tribe of people in South America. In one scene, Father Gabriel canoes upriver and climbs steep cliffs to reach the tribe. His body is in immaculate shape. His body is a temple. He is  able to minister to the tribe because of the condition his body is in.

What do I make of this? I'm not sure. I am still reflecting on it. But I do believe that there is a connection between how we take care of our bodies and how we serve the Lord.

In the last part of this series, I explained a couple of reasons why losing weight has not been that important to me. However, if I could find a connection between managing my weight and living out my faith, I would find a lot of motivation in that.

I am in search of a book that explains this connection. I began reading Celebration of Discipline by Robert Foster, but have not finished it. There is a section in there about fasting that interests me.

We are called to seek sainthood. In doing so, we must consider how we take care of our bodies.

All of this makes sense to me in a theoretical, logical way. However, when it comes down to living out my daily life, I have difficulty making the connection. I eat ice cream, watch TV and press the snooze button to try and catch up on a little sleep. How can I incorporate these lofty ideals into my daily, messy, busy, crazy life?!

I hope you have enjoyed this series, The Weight of Motherhood. I have shared with you my journey thus far. It is helpful for me to remember that everyone is different, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and no one is good at everything. This is a weakness of mine. I have not been blessed with a high metabolism that burns off everything that I eat. I have not been blessed with the discipline to make good eating choices often enough to maintain a healthy weight. This is an area that I will continue to work on, probably even more so once we are getting regular sleep at night! I will let you know how it goes.

In the interest of full disclosure, some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I believe in and personally use. Your purchases through these links help support Mamma Vintage. Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Weight of Motherhood (Series, Part 4)

This post is part of a series. I have been discussing my relationship with my weight as a woman and especially as a mother. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here and Part 3 here.

The topic of this particular post is, "Why My Weight is Not Important to Me."

Wait a minute. You are rightly thinking, Well, obviously it's important to her. She's written a five-part series about it!

Yes, my weight is an issue for me just as it is for many moms. But is it important? Not really. Let me explain.

First of all, to me, if something is important, I will give it my time, energy and money if needed. So far, losing the last 20 lbs has not been important enough for me to make it a priority and make it happen.

My weight is not high enough that I really have concerns about my health. To be in the range of a healthy BMI, I would need to be at 159 lbs. So at 174 lbs, obviously I'm not within that range yet and have lots of room for improvement. But at the same time, I'm healthy. I'm strong. I can keep up with my kids. I ran 6 miles a few weeks ago at about a 10 minute mile pace. I know that I need to lose some weight for my health, which is why I'm writing about all of this. But because I am healthy and strong, my health is not such a big concern that it has made losing weight important.

A recent photo with my girl after I got home from a run
Secondly, my vanity has not been a driving force either. Now I don't mean that I don't care about the way I look. I do. In fact, I'm sure that I often care too much. I would love to not be plagued with cellulite. I would love to feel beautiful in a swimming suit. I would love to be leaner and more toned. While I would love all of those things, there are a million other things that are more important to me. Sleep. Spending time together as a family. Reading. Writing. Making dinner. Keeping a somewhat tidy home. Bathing the children. Having time to talk with Jason. Getting the kids to bed at a reasonable time. Having clean clothes. Time with friends.

I guess perhaps I'm being selfish. Or maybe just unrealistic. I'm not really willing to give up a whole lot of that and I would still like to lose the weight. But you see, between the baby, three other children, homeschooling and managing our home, my day is PACKED. Getting back into my pre-pregnancy jeans just doesn't matter that much when there's mouths to feed, lessons to plan and everything else that occupies my day.

Lastly, I wonder if I am going to need to accept a different weight than 155 lbs. What would be so wrong with 160 lbs? I've had four kids! I get very frustrated that our culture is so against "looking like a mom." I sometimes hear, "You don't look like you've had four kids!" While I know this is meant to be a compliment, what does it mean? What's wrong with looking like the mother of four? That's what I am!

I am partly writing this series because even though I feel alone in it, I know there must be other moms who have this same struggle. As moms, we can often act like we have it all figured out. In a group, we often don't discuss how difficult things are.

So I'm just putting it out there - I do not have this figured out. Not by a long shot. That includes a lot of things about motherhood, but in particular, managing my weight. I wanted to get real and talk about actual numbers and the real obstacles that come between me and the weight I should be at. I also feel that now that it's out there in the open for all the world to read, I will sooner be motivated to make losing weight a priority.

I have one last topic to discuss in this series--"My Faith and My Weight." Coming soon!

Here are a few more recent photos of the darlings that keep me so busy each day . . .
That's right - our little angel is now pulling herself up on EVERYTHING. She has
also become quite the speedy crawler. She is certainly keeping me on my toes!

Noah has been studying dragons and dinosaurs and was pretty thrilled to see a real dragon (a komodo dragon, that is) at the zoo last week.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Weight of Motherhood (Series, Part 3)

I have been discussing my relationship with my weight as a woman and especially as a mother. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

So, why not just join Weight Watchers once again if it has worked in the past?

For many reasons. There's the time that it takes; going to evening meetings once a week and then the time to count points every day. I was never able to succeed without actually going to the meetings, but time is a hot commodity in our home.

There's the money; $40 per month. That's the equivalent of a new shirt! Or many other things.

But most of all, I feel like I shouldn't HAVE to do Weight Watchers. I shouldn't need that. I should be able to just make healthy choices about diet and exercise and have the weight come off naturally. Counting points is not sustainable; I am not going to do it for the rest of my life. Why can't I just learn how to lose the weight on my own?

Have you ever struggled with weight loss like this? What did you do?

I'm sure many of you are answering - Just exercise! Oooooooooh--Do I miss a regular exercise schedule!

Right now, consistent exercise just isn't possible. Well, it's possible of course. But at what cost?

Right now, Teresa is not sleeping through the night. I discuss how I try to deal with tiredness here. I have my alarm set for 5:50 am so that I can get some exercise in before the kids wake up. However, lately this alarm has been canceled nightly as we have been caring for a crying baby with a cough in the middle of the night. It's so frustrating! I can't exercise during the day because I am homeschooling the kids. I just can't do it regularly in the evenings because I am wiped out from the day.

Of course, this just is a long way of saying that I am not making exercise a priority right now. That's true. Sleep trumps exercise. Without sufficient sleep, I cannot even attempt to fulfill my calling as a kind, loving wife and mother.

Also, for me, watching what I am eating has always been a more effective means of weight loss than exercise anyway. The amount of time it takes to burn off 500 calories is of course much, much longer than it takes to eat those 500 calories.

So what now? I'm not sure. I am currently too tired to even count my fingers or do a single sit-up. But that will pass. Teresa's cough will go away and we will retrain her to sleep through the night for the third time.

And then what? Weight Watchers? Counting calories? How will I lose those last 20 lbs? (That is so sad to see in writing.)

Have you had success with losing weight without tracking everything you're eating? If so, how?

I am not interested in any fad diet or eating completely differently than my family. My children are wonderful eaters and eat lots of healthy food. I feel that I should be able to eat most of what my family eats and attain a reasonable weight. Is that insanity? Am I asking too much? I really don't want to have to be making two dinners every night, you know?

Let me lastly explain that I have educated myself on nutrition. We RARELY go out to eat. With four kids, it's too expensive anyway. I eat a healthy breakfast. We eat homecooked meals almost all the time. And I'm not talking Hamburger Helper. We eat quinoa, chia seeds, LOTS of produce, very limited processed foods, organic milk, limited meat from our butcher, whole wheat bread, tortillas and pasta, brown rice, etc. This is not a fast food problem.

It is just an eating too much problem. Getting used to a slower metabolism. Eating ice cream too often. I like to drink juice and soda sometimes, but not everyday. I love cheese. I love good food and I'm a great cook! This is both helpful and a hindrance when trying to lose weight. It means I can make absolutely delicious hollandaise sauce, canneloni, homemade ice cream, hand rolled pasta, phad thai, eggrolls, curry and other fattening deliciousness. But it also means that I can make healthy food that doesn't taste AS good, but is pretty great too.

In this series, I have two more topics to discuss: "Why My Weight is Not Important To Me" and "My Faith and My Weight." They will both be coming soon!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Weight of Motherhood (Series, Part 2)

I have been discussing my relationship with my weight as a woman and especially as a mother. The Weight of Motherhood (Series, Part 1) is here.

I had my fourth baby eight months ago. I was hoping to have lost more of the weight after eight months.  Before babies, I weighed about 155 lbs and was comfortable with that.
A picture taken about one year ago at the St. Luke Auction. I was about
five months pregnant and probably weighed about the same as I do now.
As you can see, my tummy was just starting to get noticeably bigger. 

Admitting that my comfortable is 155 lbs is so difficult! I remember watching Everybody Loves Raymond and during one episode, Raymond guesses his wife Debra's weight to be 140 lbs. She is disgusted and says adamantly that she is "nowhere near 140." Now, I am taller than she is and then of course, it's a television show. But it stuck with me. While someone else might be disgusted with 140 lbs, my good day is at 155 lbs!

During pregnancy, I do not gain the recommended 25-35 lbs. It's more like 45 lbs. On the day of birth, it may even be approaching 50 lbs! So at the end of each pregnancy, I weigh about 200 lbs. Going to the doctor's office, having the nurse weigh me and watching that scale tip over 200 lbs is definitely some type of torture.

It helps to remember that I am not my weight. It doesn't define me. It's a number. Also, this may possibly be a form of denial, but I think I carry my weight in a somewhat flattering way. As flattering as extra fat can be, I guess!

A photo of me last August, about three weeks
before Teresa was born. 
With my first baby, the weight came off pretty easily. I didn't have to diet. Nursing for only three months and a little exercise brought me back down to 155 lbs pretty quickly. So much about that first experience as a mom was like false advertising, from the weight coming off so easily to the baby sleeping through the night at ten weeks.

After my second and third babies, I would get down to about 175 lbs and then plateau. After that, I joined Weight Watchers and each time I was able to bring my weight back down to 155 lbs. Weight Watchers definitely works.

So why not just do it again?

For lots and lots of reasons. Right now, I am at 174 lbs and in my next post I will explain my struggle with joining Weight Watchers once again.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Weight of Motherhood (Series, Part 1)

*****This post is the first in a series. Here are the other posts: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 & Part 5.

It's time for me to get real. About my weight. I'm putting it out there. Numbers and all. It's hard to admit all of this and it's embarrassing. I am not proud of my weight right now.

Then why write about it on my very public blog? For lots of reasons.

First of all, let me say that my weight isn't really a health problem, something I will discuss more in a future post in this series. There are a lot of people who may even think it's silly for me to complain about weight struggles, as I only have 20 more lbs to lose. I get that. It's not that big of a number. But at the same time, your problems are your problems are your problems. Ya know? I do not have a major health concern to conquer right now, but I DO struggle with my weight and with making healthy choices. That's largely why I am writing about it.

I feel like all other women know how to manage their weight in a healthy, wholesome, mature and natural way. I know this cannot be so. But it's how I FEEL. It seems that I am surrounded by other (thin) moms who have found the way to go through pregnancy after pregnancy, not gain too much baby weight, and have it all come off relatively quickly without dieting.

Is everyone around me blessed with a wonderful, speedy metabolism? Perhaps I do just have a lot of awesomely fit friends. Is there some trick I don't know about? Am I just really bad at this?

Am I delusional?

As we all know, the people of our country (including many moms) have a weight problem. The culture of more, more, more has affected our plates, our portions and also, my butt. I want to talk about that. In a real way. This series does not include a lot of before and happily-ever-after photos of me in a bikini with a six-pack. Nope - my bikini days are long gone no matter what I weigh. And at the end of the series, I'm still struggling and trying to figure this out.
A recent photo of myself. You can see that those are no small hips.

Let me explain that struggle . . .

Another recent photo taken by Jason. 
I am 5'7". I love to cook and eat and drink wine. I am a homeschooling mother of four who is very lacking in extra time or energy. Before I had my first baby, I weighed 155 lbs, which is within a good BMI range. Not skinny. Not overweight. I have been "blessed" with large boobs and large hips. My trouble areas are my thighs and butt. Let's say that even at my thinnest, I have some junk in the trunk. Thankfully, Jason doesn't mind and even appreciates that!

155 lbs is a realistic weight for me. In high school, when I was running varsity cross country every day, I weighed 135 lbs. After high school, I was not exercising at all and went out to eat all the time with my boyfriend. I was also on birth control. In a couple of years, I had put on forty-five pounds and was at 180 lbs. I then took action and began counting calories and exercising most days. I was able to lose thirty pounds and get to 150 lbs. Only moments, very brief moments have passed  when I have been below that (like after I've been vomiting for three days).

I'm okay with that. 155 lbs is fine with me. I have a curvy figure and in a lot of ways, I like that.

The trouble is, I am not at 155 lbs. Not even close.

So why am I writing this? I'm writing it to get real. With myself and with others. While I feel that I am the only one who struggles with this so much, I know there must be readers who can relate. I want them to know that they aren't alone! Also, if other moms who have struggled with this have (kind) words of wisdom to offer, I'm okay with that. And lastly, writing is therapeutic for me. It helps me with the process. It is my yoga and my prayer and my meditation. I am hoping that in opening up about this, in sharing honestly about it with the world, I will be that much closer to finding my motivation and some wisdom about this.

In my next post, I will discuss the weight I gained in each of my pregnancies and where I'm at now.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Make a Better Tomorrow and Make Life Easier! (Dealing with Tiredness)

This post contains affiliate links. More information is available at the end of the post. 

Apparently, tiredness is just a part of life. For everyone. Who knew?!  The reasons that I may be tired seem endless . . .

Getting woken in the middle of the night and/or very early by Teresa. Constant busyness during the day. Getting over illness. Preparing for a vacation, a birthday, a holiday or a volunteer project. Cleaning up after a vacation, a birthday or a holiday. Nursing. Hormones. Refereeing arguments several times a day. Children whining. Training disobedient children. Crying after the disobedient child refuses to be trained. Laundry. Cooking. Dishes. Not enough time.

In the past four months, Teresa's nightly sleep patterns have been disturbed three times. First was when we decided to stop swaddling her. She was beginning to roll over and we were worried about her safety. Second, she had an ear infection last month. This month, she has had a cold and now has a terrible cough at night. Both after discontinuing the swaddling and the ear infection, we had to do some "sleep training." For sleep training, my favorite book so far has been The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight:Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy. It provides a great balance between giving babies the comfort and consistency that they need (and that their parents need!) Once Teresa's cough has gone, we will most likely need to sleep train once again. Once she has made a habit of getting up in the middle of the night, it happens every night like clockwork and is a hard habit to break. Until then, the tiredness will continue. 

This may sound like a long list of complaints. Maybe it is. But more so, it’s supposed to help remind me that I have good reason to be tired. Often I feel guilty and frustrated by my lack of energy.

A better way would probably be to anticipate it and to prepare for it!
A big smile for Daddy as they get some much needed rest on the couch

So I am making myself a list. Another list? Well, this list is like a secret weapon against tiredness. Not only will it help prevent tiredness, but it will help me anticipate tiredness and deal with it. It is a list of reminders as to what my priorities are each day, what I need to get done and helpful hints as to how to set myself up to have a great day the following day. Often, when I am extremely tired, I do not have the focus to be able to manage my time well and prepare well for the next day.

Here is what I have so far:

First of all, realize your natural energy patterns. For the most part, my energy level continually goes down throughout the day. I need to plan for that.  Meaning . . . 

Make the most out of the morning. 

Get exercise done in the morning. If you had a terrible night with children, drop the exercise and catch up on sleep and DON’T feel guilty about it.
Drink water!
Eat high energy meals and snacks.
Have an afternoon iced coffee. 

Prioritize your time
Homeschooling first.

Work on today’s meals.
Then get very basic cleaning tasks done. (Laundry folded and put away. Counters and table cleared and wiped. Dishes done. Put clutter away. Sweep.)
Then prepare for tomorrow.
Then do any further cleaning. 

Take time on Fridays to plan out the next week.
Look at lesson planner each night.
Work on Progress every day or two.
Prepare Veronica’s homeschool box 

Start laundry in the morning; one load of laundry every day.  (Folded and put away!)
Keep on top of dishes.
See Happy Housekeeping list

Take Time Today to Prepare for Tomorrow, Giving Yourself the Gift of a Better Day!
Plan tomorrow’s meals and do any prep that you can. Defrost anything needing to be defrosted.
Make tomorrow’s coffee.
Defrost Teresa’s food..
Take out tomorrow’s exercise and regular clothes 

If You Have Extra Pockets of Time and the Energy
Cut up vegetables
Make hard-boiled eggs
Make energy bars 

Whenever you can, cook more than needed and freeze an extra meal.
Make a list of Plan B Dinners and keep ingredients on hand. These are easy, FAST meals that either Jason or I can make. Examples are:

Grilled Cheese
French Dip
Tuna Sandwiches
Deli Sandwiches
Caesar Wraps
Pasta with Marinara
Hot Dogs
Sweet Potatoes
One of the main ideas is simply to prepare as much for tomorrow as I can. That way, if I have a tiring day, it will be easier to deal with because some of my work will already be done. This requires a bit of extra work today, but the idea of an easier tomorrow if often very motivating to me.

And with that said, I'm going to bed so I can have a better tomorrow!

In the interest of full disclosure, some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I believe in and personally use. Your purchases through these links help support Mamma Vintage. Thank you for your support!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Lovely Mother's Day Weekend

This weekend, I am being so spoiled. Last night, I got to have a lovely evening sharing a bottle of wine, listening to live jazz and catching up with my dear Jenny. A few hours was still not enough time for talking, but we got quite a few good laughs in.

This morning, my family took me to Flower World where I got to pick out plants, herbs, vegetables and a GORGEOUS fuschia basket that I have always wanted. They are my absolute favorite flower and were my grandmother's favorite as well.

If you have never been to Flower World and enjoy gardening at all or want to start (I continue to be a complete novice), you really should go. It is absolutely beautiful. After shopping, we enjoyed walking the grounds and seeing the fountains, water wheel and chickens. I think we may have a new Mother's Day tradition :)

Tonight, my aunt Joanna is taking me to the 5th Avenue where we will see Room with a View. Tomorrow morning we will go to Mass and then to brunch with a lot of family at Arnie's. After that, I will plant my new plants and Jason is making me dinner! It doesn't get much better than that!

I have also learned AND remembered my lesson from past Mother's Days. While I do feel that I am being spoiled this weekend, I am not expecting it. I have rid myself with unrealistic expectations for Mother's Day, other holidays and family events as well. It's not about living in some peaceful, serene paradise for a day. It's not about not having to lift a finger for a day. It's not about everyone getting along magically for a day.

Even though it's Mother's Day, we still have four kids! And they all still require care, attention, guidance, food, noses blown, diapers changed (well, only one needs that), reminders to STOP being so loud all the time and to STOP bugging your sibling.

It is about celebrating my amazing mother and the blessing and joy it is for me to be a mom.

That's a lot to celebrate!

To all of the moms I know, especially my own--You inspire me daily. You help me, you support me, you strengthen me, you guide me, you lift me up, you listen to me and you walk alongside me. You help me to be a better mom. Thank you!

Here are some more recent photos, as I just can't seem to stop taking them now that I finally have a smart phone!
Enjoying the sunshine

Enjoying the homemade ice cream we had for Jason's birthday
Enjoying the grass on Easter

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Saint John Bosco Homeschool Academy

That's the name of our homeschool! And at the end of this school year, homeschooling is ever-present in my mind (actually, it always is). This year has been a real roller coaster.

I have spent so much time this year studying different approaches to homeschooling in the hope to find "the way we do it." Reading so much has been very helpful, but also very overwhelming. In order to organize and sort through some of my thoughts, I am going to spend some time writing about what I've learned.

Our homeschool has its own blog, which is new in the past few months. It is where I will be sharing about our homeschooling journey. Also, occasionally it will be a place where the children share about what they are learning.

So if you are interested in learning more about homeschooling and how we do it, check out Saint John Bosco Homeschool Academy!