the long road to healthy

August 24, 2009

vacation, all I ever wanted

Filed under: keeping it real, oops — karena @ 7:03 pm

It’s been a difficult week around here.  I’ve been off my game, so to speak.  We leave for vacation on Friday, I’m running around like a madwoman trying to pack and remember everything and make last minute arrangements.  My eating has been off.  My exercise has been WAY off.  Like nearly non-existent.  And I’ve been feeling it.  I’ve been bitchy, and stiff, and out of sorts, and frazzled.  I’m not sure if my sudden aversion to exercise in any form has anything to do with this, but I know I’ve been extremely reluctant to do anything physical the last few days.

Today I cleaned the entire house, top to bottom, which took nearly four hours.  Then I fought with my moody five year old, and decided I might have an aneurysm if I didn’t do SOMETHING to cope with my stress, so I got out the yoga mat.  I only got in 30 minutes, but it did help immensely with my mood.  However, tonight the pesky varicose vein in my right leg, under my knee, is complaining about the sudden onslaught of work after nearly a week of vacation. I need to be more aware of my body and be kinder to it.  While still whipping it into shape.  Sigh… it’s a conundrum.

One monumental decision I’ve made in the last few days: when we return from Scotland, I will no longer be drinking.  At all.  I seem to have an *all or nothing* mentality, and whereas that can be a help or a hindrance in some areas of your life, with alcohol that can be a real problem.  A danger even.  Not that I feel I AM in danger, but I don’t want that to ever become a possibility.  And for me, it’s simply easier not to imbibe than to imbibe on occasion.  It would be, well, stupid, to make a vow of abstinence right before going on vacation.  But when we return, I’ll be sipping herbal tea in the evenings.

I am SO ready for this vacation!  I’m going to curl up with Baron Baptiste’s “40 Days to Personal Revolution” and form a game plan for my return.  I’m also going to curl up with many a trashy romance novel.  I’m going to let my husband cook on occasion, and do the dishes all the time.  We’re going to eat out at least a few times a week (we’re vegetarian, and it’s difficult to eat out, so we self-cater our holidays for the most part).  I’m going to Borders and look for books!!!!!!!!  I haven’t been to a real bookstore in nearly a year (we live in Belgium, and although my French is at about a second grade reading level, that doesn’t feed my brain anything except French).  I’m going to visit with my best friend.  I’m going to see beautiful, awe-inspiring sights, I’m going to play with my kids, I’m going to cuddle with my normally uptight husband.  I am SO ready for this vacation!


August 20, 2009

fear and self-loathing in downward-facing dog

Filed under: fitness, keeping it real, yoga — karena @ 1:43 pm

Before I get to the crux of this post, I have to give you a little background.  I used to be really overweight.  When I was 21-ish, I weighed 230 pounds.  I walked and dieted my way down to 122.  From the waist up I looked almost gaunt, like a cross-country runner.  From the waist down, however, I still looked fat.  No amount of walking, and later, running, and dieting could move it from my legs.  And I don’t mean just my thighs, my calves as well.  I spent my life in jeans and capris and long skirts to hide my *shame* from the world.  People, I lived in Hawaii for two years and never wore shorts.  Slowly over the years I put back on nearly half the weight I had lost.  (That’s including three pregnancies, to be fair to myself.)  It has spread nice and evenly all over my body.  So… my legs are bigger than ever.

The ONLY time I wear shorts is if I’m working out and it’s just too darned hot to wear yoga pants or capris.  It’s 96 here today.  96.  In Belgium.  Something is not right.  Anyway, despite the heat I really wanted to get my power yoga practice in today, so I slipped into a pair of shorts and a T.  As I was rolling out my mat in front of the fan, which is right in front of our open French doors, I happened to glance up at the mirror on the other side of the room.  The sun did a fantastic job of highlighting each and every cottage cheese-like dimple on my thighs.  The front of my thighs.  I just wanted to cry when I saw that.

But crying isn’t going to help.  So I started my practice.  I know most of you who read this blog aren’t into yoga, but you’re probably familiar with some of the poses/phrases.  And all of us who love Jillian understand the idea of not *phoning it in.* So I’m putting my body image issues aside and trying to really be present in what I’m doing.  The practice is intense, I’m focused on my breath, I’m really *there*.  Then we return to downward-facing dog, and there are my thighs staring me smack in the face.  And I just couldn’t get past it.  Every vinyasa would return me to down dog, and every time I’d start feeling bad about myself.  90 entire minutes, and my mind never really quieted down.

I know I’m heavy, I know my legs are big.  So where did this self-loathing come from today?  Why this sudden fixation with what’s wrong, instead of what’s right with my body?  Why can’t I look  in the mirror today and see a person that’s kept over 60 pounds off their body for sixteen years?  Why can’t I focus on the fact that I’m doing something good for myself?

I think it probably welled up today because I saw something I normally keep hidden, even from myself.  And when you don’t see it, you can pretend it isn’t there.  I fear that, again, no matter how much weight I lose, I’ll remain this disproportioned weeble-wobble figure.  That’s something I’m going to need to come to terms with, I guess.  Is it possible to learn to love your body while you’re trying like hell to change it?  Do those two ideas HAVE to be at odds with one another?

August 19, 2009

wednesday weigh in

Filed under: 21 day challenge, weigh in — karena @ 7:47 am

Hang on, I’ve got to run over to the Sisterhood for a sec…. OK, I’m back!  I had to go and get this:

Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans

Because I have finally earned my 5# button. Remember, I got it once, but then gained a bit back, then my scale went crazy, and all hope of earning the button seemed out the window? Well, what do ya know? Working hard, watching your calories, and not saying “to heck with it” when you make one little mistake and throwing the whole day away… it all adds up.

I’m down to 163.0, which is down 1.5 pounds since last week’s weigh in. I’m pretty chuffed! This weekend I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped — a few too many glasses of wine, etc. But rather than blow the whole weekend as a result, I stayed on course. I still worked out. I watched my calories during the day, even though I knew I’d probably be indulging in the evening. And here I am, smiling.

My habit training is going quite well, I think, but in much more general terms than I had originally delineated. I’m getting a good night’s sleep, every night. And I’m working out, every day. (Every day except for one planned day off per week.) And I’m updating my blog, not daily, but regularly.

Sadly (??) I’m not going to be around for the start of the next challenge. We’re leaving for our vacation on the 28th and will be gone for two weeks. No internet connection, rarely even any cell phone coverage. Maybe one of my *big sisters* can slip me the deets a couple days ahead of time, so I can play along too?

*hint, hint, wink wink*

August 18, 2009

random thoughts…

Filed under: family, fitness, general, yoga — karena @ 12:10 pm

My five year old is sitting at the kitchen table behind me, putting together a Lego project intended for a kid twice his age.  And singing “Highway to Hell” at the same time.  I’m not sure if I should brag or not.

I’ve had a crappy yoga practice two days in a row.  Yesterday, just as my power yoga practice was starting to build intensity, my Ipod ran out of juice.  Did you know you’re supposed to charge them?  Huh.  I didn’t.  Then today a DVD I’d ordered arrived, and I eagerly put it in as soon as Harry went up for his nap.  It was ludicrous.  At about 45 minutes in, when the demonstrator literally started humping the floor, and the narrator started going on about how this was cleansing toxins from her body, I had to turn it off.

The five year old is now playing under my desk, and has just told me that my feet are like caveman feet.  I think I need to vacuum.  And maybe mop.

I have a to-do list a mile long.  It’s getting longer while I sit here and play with my blog.

The new picture in the header is of me and my two boys on the shores of a small loch in Scotland last year.  We’re going back in ten days.  None of us can wait.  We go up at least once, often twice a year.  It’s our second home.

I don’t want to step on the scale tomorrow.  Because despite working out daily, my husband and I have also been *celebrating* his long weekend — with dinner out and copious amounts of wine.

Sigh… can’t procrastinate any longer.  Time to whittle that to-do list down from a mile long to just a kilometer.  After all, we are in Europe.

August 16, 2009


Filed under: 21 day challenge, yoga — karena @ 1:29 pm

The habits I’m trying to form haven’t so much changed as been re-formed.  Does that make any sense?  I have to update the training log, but I’ve done intense 90 minute power yoga sessions nearly daily.  They leave me dripping in sweat (cardio: check!) and muscle sore (weight training: check!).  But I’m not getting in the separate workouts that I had delineated at the start of the 21 day challenge.  Sleep: I’ve got that one covered!  I don’t think I’ve slept this well since having my first son, five and a half years ago.  Granted, to get that sleep, my husband and I are taking turns — one of us taking the toddler into the big bed, the other crashing in the bottom of the bunk bed.  It’s not the ideal, but it will pass — the five year old no longer demands to sleep with “compny” and I’m sure Harry will outgrow it as well.  And sleep…. ahh, glorious sleep!

Today’s yoga practiced pushed me further than any has pushed me yet.  It left me literally dripping in sweat.  It also left me determined to get a real mat, as the fitness mat I’m using is too cushy and slippery — I find myself sliding all over the place, fighting to keep my pose.  Although I suppose that’s helping me to engage my core!  It also left me elated!  For the first time ever I was able to perform side plank pose.  I was only able to hold it for about five breaths, but that’s a first for me!  Also, today, I was finally able to flip my dog.  I couldn’t get to wheel pose, but I think that’s more fear than physical inability.

Waiting for me after practice:

IMG_5706Stash: green and white… ahhhhh

August 14, 2009

habits gone awry

Filed under: 21 day challenge, family, keeping it real — karena @ 8:00 am

Yes, I’m still here, and yes, I’m more or less on track with my habit-forming goals.  The only area I seem to be suffering in is keeping the blog updated.  It’s summer, I’m busy with the kids.  Also, I’m finding there just aren’t enough hours in the day to be Super Mom, a housekeeper, a chef, the librarian, the live-in nurse, get an hour and a half of exercise, stay on top of the billing, pack/plan for our upcoming vacation, etc.  But I will get back to the blog — I miss it, and that’s how I know it’s already a habit.

No time to find more excuses.  I’ve got to chauffeur my oldest to swim lessons…

August 12, 2009

Wedneday is weigh-in day

Filed under: keeping it real, weigh in — karena @ 1:34 pm

I’m up half a pound this week.  That’s probably hormone-related, but I’m not going to sweat it or try to rationalize it.  I’m working out every day, I’m staying within my calorie limit.  I’m doing everything right.  The scale will move.

So this week, instead of paying attention to the scale, which we all know to be fickle and mean-spirited, I’m going to pay attention to something more trustworthy — the tape measure.  I’ve lost a little bit here and there, quarter inches for the most part, on various parts of my body since first measuring three weeks ago.  Some measurements haven’t changed at all.  But the one number that makes me smile?  I’ve lost 1.25 inches on my waist.

The other trustworthy measurement I can make — I feel great.  I feel fitter, stronger, firmer.  Also happier, calmer, kinder.  It’s amazing what eating clean, drinking light, exercising often, and sleeping well can do for you!

August 9, 2009


Filed under: 21 day challenge, fitness, weight training — karena @ 7:00 pm


A print from one of our favorite artists, Erté.

Five days in… are any of my goals showing signs of becoming habits?

Well, the sleep thing, oh, yeah…. Getting enough sleep is addictive!  It’s been a little difficult to put the book down, or stop ironing, or sacrifice internet time so as to get to bed at a decent time, but the reward of not sleepwalking through the morning has definitely been worth it.

The cardio — well, we all know I’m up in the air as far as what *cardio* really is for me right now.  Let’s just say, I’m getting in a workout every day, and loving it.  And I’m really loving the five day split for weight training — I feel like I can really target a specific area and give it my all, rather than having to save some muscle for later exercises.  It also feels like it takes up far less time.  Overall, I’m probably spending more time per week with the weights.  But I don’t have to lay out two or three one hour blocks during the week to devote to it.  Roughly, it’s taking me 20 minutes a day.

Blogging — well that’s well on its way to becoming a habit here.  But on our family blog and my homeschooling blog, I’m completely slacking off.

August 8, 2009


Filed under: 21 day challenge, C25K, fitness — karena @ 6:39 pm

DSC_1017The four of us, June ’08.

Today’s my day off from exercise, so not much to report on.  I’ve spent the day contemplating the future of my *running career* and sports bras.  Aren’t I deep?  And, ironically, one has nothing to do with the other.

I’ve been loving the running.  I love the time out, challenging myself, the fresh air… so much of it.  But one thing I don’t love: I can feel my knees.  They feel… thick and heavy and incredibly present.  And, really, you shouldn’t be able to feel your joints.  Sure, you crack your elbow into the wall and you feel it.  But I shouldn’t be aware of my knees every waking hour of the day.  I’m not in pain yet, but I’ve been dealing with the bum knee thing since high school, and I know this to be a precursor.  The wise me would stop before it starts to really hurt.  If I pull back now, I won’t have to spend a week or two gingerly walking around the house, unable to workout.  I won’t have to send my five year old on errands to go upstairs and get extra diapers for the toddler.  I won’t have to get up in the middle of the night to pop some IB just so I can get some sleep.  But, if I pull back now, I’ll be quitting something I really, really want to accomplish.  Sigh… I know the right thing to do.  I just don’t want to feel like a quitter.

In slightly less despondent news, why in hell is it so difficult to find a good sports bra?  I’ve got about five different kinds upstairs in my drawer and, let me tell you, they all suck.  Probably because they are all sports bras carried by the local department store, rather than a really serious sporting goods place.  I’ve decided, whether I continue to run or not, that I need to invest in a couple really good ones, and damn the price.  So, any suggestions?  I have a suggestion for you — I have no idea of the quality of their product, but you need to go here and take the bounce-o-meter test, just for fun.  And, owww, no wonder it hurts!

August 7, 2009


Filed under: 21 day challenge, family, fitness — karena @ 6:17 pm

Karena, Scott, John ChristmasMy two brothers and me, Christmas, indeterminate late 70s

How’s it going?

  1. 5:45 — I’m not quite sure what I was thinking when I said I was going to try to make this a habit.  Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I declare that, Harry starts sleeping like the proverbial newborn babe.  My purpose in listing this goal, however, wasn’t to be sadistic and make myself get up before the crack of dawn.  The purpose, really, was to fit a workout in before the daily grind got started.  And the following occurred to me today: my husband doesn’t actually leave for work until 8AM.  It takes me, at the most, an hour to get out for my run and the walk home.  I make the kids’ cereal (Cream of Wheat and applesauce) ahead of time anyway, and I can easily pack dh’s lunch the night before as well.  Sure, I’d be sacrificing a half hour or so with him, but he spends most of that time catching up on e-mail and ignoring me anyway.  (He’s the kind of guy you don’t talk to before he’s had two cups of coffee and some alone time.)  And at that time of the day, the kids are pretty self-sufficient.  So as long as I am out the door at 7, I can still get my workout in first thing without sacrificing more than ten minutes of sleep.  So I’m rewording my first habit.  Instead of *get up at 5:45*, it’s *get my workout in first thing in the morning*.  Another caveat, that’s for run days only.  I’m not about to struggle through my yoga with dh guffawing into his coffee.
  2. 7 hours of sleep — that and more last night.  It feels great to get a real night’s sleep.
  3. cardio — 60 minutes Ashtanga today, plus about fifteen minutes trying to work myself into a headstand.
  4. 5 day split — today was chest.  And I wish I’d bothered to check my latest  issue of Oxygen and follow their routine before I started!
  5. blog — here I am!
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