Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happiness- March

I’ve tried desperately not to start this entry with “Can you believe it’s already March?” But really....Can you? Where DOES the time go?! It's flying by! ....And similar such clichés...

But the arrival of March doesn't just signal that Spring is on its way. Around these parts it also means it's once again resolution time.

I’m skipping the recap of February’s goal- “practicing kindness”, not because I didn’t do it...mostly because listing a bunch of ways I was nice this month seems more like a brag-fest than a legitimate report. But yes, I did try extra-special hard to do and say nice things. Maybe (hopefully!) you were on the receiving end of those things. And if not....good news! It’s not over. As with all of my monthly resolutions, my goal is to integrate different focuses (foci?) into my life bit by bit, but then embrace and keep them for the long haul. So for those of you keeping track (and keeping me honest), you should be noticing a slightly nicer, more flow-y, me. (Oh, self-reflection and accountability you have become the multivitamin and fish oil capsules of my emotional life- necessary medicine that is often hard to swallow.)

So with that....on to the next! This month’s goal is to “take care of my body.”

When I was mapping out what my resolutions would be for the year, I purposely skipped the “get fit” focus for January, and decided to save it for March. Tackling an exercise goal in the new year was definitely necessary, but it seemed a bit too obvious for my first choice. Plus, at the time I was two months post baby, and still on maternity leave, so I had both the incentive, and time to make my health a priority. So instead, I saved it for March, when I knew any good faith efforts I had toward diet or exercise would have probably waned. And what do you know? I was right! My efforts have indeed waned. I can give you all the excuses in the book...I don’t have time, I’m exhausted, breastfeeding makes me starving... (that last one is from the new-mom book specifically). But the bottom line is that as I adjust to my new life as a working mom, I’m having trouble prioritizing myself, and having an even harder time prioritizing making the right choices for myself.

I don’t mean any of that to sound like a martyr. Yes, I have less time than before. Yes, my daughter’s needs come first, and tend to dictate a good portion of my schedule. Yes I feel torn between all my responsibilities and tasks, and struggle to fit it all in. But who doesn’t? I don’t have it harder than most, and the major stumbling block between me and a healthier lifestyle isn’t my daughter. Or my job. It’s me. Well, it’s me and my love for grilled cheese sandwiches and TV.

Some stuff I’m getting right. I drink a ton of water, eat lots of healthy snacks during the day, and have been going to bed earlier than I ever have. But for the most part, any areas of success are due to external pressures, rather than victories of my own will power. Nursing is the biggest motivator- it forces me to eat more often, and drink much more water than usual. And getting up at dawn (and midnight, and sometimes somewhere in between as well) pretty much ensures I can't stay up past 10:30 even if I tried. So I've found that if I have a good motivating factor (I.e. a baby that is uninterested in my excuses) I can follow through on all kinds of healthy habits. But those areas where I have freedom? Not so good. No one is forcing me to exercise, so more often than not, I don't. There aren't any hard and fast rules about what I can eat, so dinner (and the subsequent "forth meal" that has been creeping into our evenings) becomes a free for all.

But despite some areas of struggle, we haven't gone completely off the rails, so now seems like an ideal time to get back on track. I don’t have specific goals in mind (pounds lost, calories counted etc.)- but I do have some areas I am aiming to improve. I want to regain some flexibility, build more muscle, prioritize sleep (thus increasing my energy) and make conscious choices about the types (and amount!) of food I’m eating. I have a hip hop class once a week and a running ap on my phone to get me moving, but I need to be more consistent with how often I actually use said running ap, and now that I’m no longer going to yoga, it wouldn’t hurt me to find time for some sort of strength/flexibility training as well. (any advice here?)

As for the sleeping- I just need to come to terms with the fact that I just can’t be the night owl that I used to be. I love staying up late, watching TV or reading, but these days my eyelids start getting heavy soon after dinner, and if I push my bedtime back too far, I end up paying for it big time the next day. It’s tough to rush home from work, get dinner, have some family time and immediately hit the sack without building in some downtime (let alone getting anything done on the homefront), but cramming in activities, and then dragging through the week is a much worse feeling. My DVR will save my shows. My book will still be there on the weekend. The chores can wait. Sleep is a must.

And eating? This has always been the hardest part for me. I’m just not a dieter. And for that matter, I’m not sure I’m even a “healthy lifestyle” type eater. Maybe I could learn to be, but so far it’s just never been important enough to me to make it happen. Breakfast and lunch I have under control. And if I pack enough healthy snacks, I can avoid sneaking four cupcakes from any midday office birthday celebrations. But dinner is the toughie. The great part is having Piper has forced us into a more normal work schedule, allowing us to be home for dinner together every night. And since we eat at the dining room table now, rather than in front of the TV (a huge development in our house!), we’re starting to think more about pulling together real, balanced meals, instead of just wolfing down a quesadilla on our way out somewhere, or stuffing ourselves with fast food while we zone out in front of the tube. We’re working on meal planning (it does not come easy to me)- but that requires forethought, regular grocery store trips, prep time....something we previously couldn’t really be bothered with. But with some practice, I think we could get into a rhythm, and enjoy the (literal) fruits of our labor.

So that’s the Bowdenisms health status for now. We certainly don’t have it all figured out...but we have good intentions, and some reasonable goals. And soon....abs of steel.


  1. Your baby sister noticed a silver lining in your discourse - now that you're no longer going to yoga class, you can go shopping and get some cooler threads to wear to hip-hop class! See? A bonus! Good luck on the fitness!

  2. She's so smart! But now I'm worried that I lost my excuse, and I'll still be lame, just without a good reason. Oh well!

  3. A simple strength training routine will definitely help with your running. At least, some people think that it helps. But every runner is different. I have a book (surprise, surprise) about strength training and running specific for women, so if you'd like to borrow it, let me know.

    Good luck! Maybe next year you'll run the half marathon with me!?!?