Achievement Unlocked: 30-Day Shred, Level 1

I’ve been intending to get back into shape for years.

I think I’ve finally done it. Which just means I have to keep going.

This is how I know I am in shape again: I can do Level 1 of Jillian Michael’s 30-day Shred without wanting to die.

I bought the 30-Day Shred DVD about a year after it came out, I think. It was getting rave reviews, and people were bitching about it but admitting it worked.

I only had two children at the time, just to give you a hint how long ago that was.

I couldn’t even make it to the second set of jumping jacks. I mean, I was in pathetic shape.

It’s unfair of me to talk about this, I know. When people talk about exercise, a lot of the time they are also talking about losing weight.

I don’t need to lose weight. I do, however, need to be in shape.

After a couple of particularly needful visits to my chiropractor, I finally started poking around on my On Demand cable channels to see if they had short workouts I could benefit from.

I am lazy, people. I don’t want to get up at 5 a.m. to run five miles. I don’t want to get up at 6 a.m. to workout for an hour.

I was looking for workouts that were 10 to 20 minutes long, low impact, and focused on my core. I was looking particularly for Pilates workouts. I found a couple of good ones, and rediscovered one on a Shape DVD I had. The goddess pose on that one killed my quads.

I started out one morning a week. Because that’s all I could manage as far as getting up early. I stumbled onto certain workouts that I liked — they were quick, effective, and low impact. As the weather got better, I started walking with the kids in the evenings.

Then I started getting up early twice a week. I found a cardio quickie workout that was intense cardio in 10 minutes. The first time I did it, I was gasping after 5 minutes. But about two weeks later, I realized that I could do it, and do the accompanying 10-minute strength workout. Not only did I not feel like I was going to die, I felt good. Exercise was a good way to start my day.

And then I started doing yoga in the evenings with the girls.

Now, two things about yoga: First, we only do it twice a week. Second, I didn’t think I liked yoga. Pilates made me feel less crunchy granola and more like I was doing exercise. Yoga (or so I thought) was all about breathing and meditation, stress relief, relaxation. Which, it is to a certain extent. But, again, with some exploration, I’ve found a couple of routines that don’t bug me, and that the kids can do with me. And they help strengthen and stretch my muscles, which are sorely in need of it. When I workout in the morning, and then sit the majority of the day (stupid job), I pay for it.

On Monday, I found the 30-Day Shred DVD. I popped it in the player.

And I did the Level 1 workout. Yeah, it was some work, and yeah, my quads were pissy about it the rest of the day. But I didn’t die. I didn’t even feel like I was going to die.

Of course, this means I’m going to have to do Level 2. Right?

What achievement have you unlocked lately?

Progress Report

It’s been a month or so since I made Focus my word of the year, and frankly, I’m not very impressed with myself.

Here it is Wednesday, and this is my first post this week.

Also, I’ve started this post four times now. Over two days.

Maybe Flora and my husband are not the only ones with attention deficit issues.

Anyhoo, it’s already over a month since I wrote my über-list. I haven’t started on the big projects yet (which is fine), but I have managed to start incorporating a couple of little things.

I am having more fun as a mother. Mileage varies. But when I focus on how I want to respond to my kids, I can generally steer away from frustration, exasperation, or yelling. I can channel energy into something that will make us all laugh, or find a way to make a chore less onerous (a big one: timed cleaning contests!). It’s far less stressful, even when things need to happen (cleaning, time outs, homework, practice).

Yes, I still yell, and yes, I still get annoyed. But already less so than I used to.

I am behind on my non-fiction reading. In one improvement, though, I am trying to make visits to the library a weekly or semi-monthly event. I need to print out the list of non-fiction suggestions, and start requesting those. Although my next non-fiction book should be about dealing with a fractious middle child. Kate and I are currently locked in a vicious cycle of “even negative attention is attention”. Hence, yelling. I may need help on this one.

Exercise continues to prove challenging due to time constraints. I walk a little more, and the kids and I can rock the kitchen dance party. I really need to find a way to tone some muscles and have a routine. The never-ending challenge.

I have also done well getting more fruits and vegetables. Which sounds somewhat ridiculous maybe — I’m a flipping vegetarian who gets a farm share (when it’s active). But I got lazy about salads, and about prepping vegetables in general, and I was hardly eating any fruit (winter is lousy for produce in my part of the world). I’ve been getting better, though, making salads more often, steaming beans and/or broccoli (Kate has rediscovered her love for broccoli), and eating apples and oranges. And raw carrots with hummus. So, yeah.

Still, lots of work to do, lots of habits to continue to develop. I’ve also done badly with Lent — I’ve read a few Slate articles, and played around in the comments. Although instead of wasting hours away, I only waste minutes, like 15 at a time. I consider that an improvement.

What are you doing well these days?

Things Kids Do

Eight years into this parenting thing, and I’ve been noticing that there are things my children do that I *automatically* tell them not to do. And then I think, “Why do I bother telling them to stop doing that? They aren’t going to stop.”

So, I’m going to try to stop telling my kids to stop doing certain things.

For example:

1. Walking in the snow. Regardless of what kind of footgear they are in, my kids HAVE TO put their feet in the snow. I ask them not to because I don’t want snow all over my rugs or the inside my car. But what does it matter? The sensation I refer to as wetsock isn’t exactly the greatest, and they’re going to complain about their cold, wet feet, but so what? Dirt washes, snow melts, feet warm up.

2. Tilting the kitchen chair backwards. My brother used to do this all the time, and it drove my parents nuts. Dr. Sis and I sat on a bench at the kitchen table (perhaps to prevent this very thing. Hm). It’s futile to tell the girls to not tilt their chairs backwards. I’ve tried to give it up. If they fall backwards, it’s going to hurt. Actions have consequences.

3. JUMPING ON THE BED. Why oh why do children jump on the bed? Is it *because* it drives adults mad? For that matter, why does it drive adults mad (or at least me and Dan)? I want to not care about jumping on the beds. I guess it’s a complicated matrix: expensive furniture that may break, someone may fall and get hurt, the noise.

I have gotten better about a few things:

If my kids want to eat three yogurts, or five cheese sticks, or thirteen raw carrots (that would be Flora), I let them. I try to only limit chocolate and other sweets. You want three cut up apples? In a row? Before dinner? Have at it. (I have to cut M off from clementines, understandably.)

The giggling. Giggling sounds harmless, I know, and in general, giggling is good (so much better than bickering). But giggling when Flora is supposed to be doing her homework — irritates me. Also, giggling when they are supposed to be going to bed. Or eating dinner. Giggling when I wish they were getting a move on with other business — irritates me. I’m trying to get better.

Potty talk. *pshaw* Whatever. As long as they aren’t actually swearing, they can talk about butts, farts, pee, poop all they want. I ask them not to do it in public (loudly, at least); my ILs have a zero-tolerance policy on potty talk at family dinners; and I draw a line at name calling (i.e. poopy head).

There are some parenting things I need to lighten up on. Flora recently asked if I would get upset if she didn’t get married. I thought about it, and I told her that no, if she decided not to marry when she was a grown up, that wouldn’t make me mad at all.

Kate piped up, “But if you don’t get married, you can’t have children.” (I know, but just roll with it.)

Flora murmured, “I don’t know if I want kids.”

I was quiet for a long moment. (This was a “car talk,” by the way. Car talks are the best.) Then I said, “I make being a mommy look really hard, don’t I?”

Flora said, “Yes. It just seems like a lot of work!”

I decided then and there that it was important for me to make my experience of parenthood more fun. I have to laugh more and stop sweating the little stuff. I have to stop yelling (so much).

I have to stop caring about jumping on the bed.

What do you have to stop caring about?

The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

If you don’t understand the title of this post, you should read some Douglass Adams (rest his soul).

And get off my lawn. (I kid.)

As a birthday gift to myself, I’m off for a spa pedicure this afternoon. I’ll be meeting my children and parents later for dinner.

There will probably be cake at some point.

After much reflection, I also came up with an über-list for 2013 (h/t @observacious, who writes here).

Read 50 books. (I am going to track them at GoodReads http://www.goodreads.com.)
At least 20 of those books should be non-fiction.
Write on this site three times a week.
Start a regular program to get some exercise.
Try one new recipe a week.
Eat more raw fruits and vegetables.
Have more fun as a mother.
Host a cocktail party.
Host an outdoor party.
Take a trip to the Children’s Museum.
Take a trip to the Carnegie Science Museum.
Go to the Three Rivers Arts Festival.
Go to the lady doctor.
Get a mammogram.
Spend a Saturday in the Strip District.
Paint my bedroom.
Go on a Just Ducky tour.
Organize the home office once and for all.
Paint stairway wall.
Frame and hang pictures on stairway wall.

My word for 2013 (and one of the reasons I wrote an überlist) is Focus. I need it in my life. I am scattered. I go several directions at once. I used to be proud to be a multitasker, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I was half-assing a dozen things instead of doing one thing at a time well.

In the comments, suggest some books for me! I’ve recently read (or am reading) all three of Gillian Flynn’s, and Columbine by Dave Cullen. I think I want to revisit L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Other than that, I’ll need ideas!