Making Friends With My Body

August 7, 2015

Usually, I reserve Fridays for recipes, but recently a realization that I can’t shake took root in my brain.  I keep coming back to it, running my fingers over it, examining it from all sides. It’s definitely worth exploring. I know you’ll give me a pass for not talking about food for one week. I’m pulling back the curtain a little bit, exposing a little bit of vulnerability.  We can talk all things munch-able next week.

Last week, I went out with my friend M, for coffee.  I met M at the gym almost a year ago after sweating beside her in numerous Zumba classes. I’m really enjoying our friendship. It’s a challenge making friends as an adult. There have been numerous articles about making friends in adulthood, everything from “How-to’s” and “Why is this so hard?”.  And of course, there are separate articles for us mother’s out there, including chatter about the pitfalls of trying to break into pre-established mommy circles.  Hello, Odd Mom Out, much? Yeah. Totally that.

SN: I love Jill Kargman and would “lurve” to have gay bagels and wine with her.

With M, however, it’s been really organic and fluid. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her.  She and I have both been MIA from the gym for the past three months — me, because I’ve been laid up recuperating from surgery and her because she recently had a baby.  We finally finagled a time to meet and after catching one another up on summer activities, talk turned to getting back to the gym. Even though we are both educated, smart, well-rounded women, we still have these hang ups about ourselves, our bodies and how they should look. Even though we know that our lives and the well-being of our families doesn’t depend on whether or not we can fit into a certain size dress or what have you, we still want to fit into it. We also know that as moms, “9 months on, 9 months off”.  We know all of the mantras, the positive self-talk affirmations, the body loving language that we need to incorporate into our daily lives.  We know all of these things, but we still want our bodies to look a certain way.

It was an honest conversation about self-esteem or lack there-of,  and body images, both positive and negative. I shared with her the aforementioned realization that has burrowed in my brain ever since I started back to the gym.  See, about ten days ago, I got myself together to resume working out. My clothes, despite my best efforts to eat well, aren’t fitting as well as they did three months ago.  I’d like to say that normally, it’s no big deal, but considering how hard I had worked to get into the best possible shape I could prior to surgery, it was definitely a blow to the self-esteem.  Sure, I was reckless when it came to snacking and so forth.  I even tried to tell myself that it was no big deal and that I would be lifting weights and pounding pavement sooner rather than later. I even told myself that I shouldn’t even worry about it until like, December.  I gave myself, or at least tried to give myself, loopholes and ways out of worrying about my expanding waistline.

I know that your caloric intake can’t exceed your output if you expect to keep your buns in last years shorts.  I know that and yet, I was still bent out shape when last years shorts didn’t make up over this years buns.  I need to get out of my own head about it, though, but for every time I tell myself to stop worrying about it, I find another two or three clothing items that go into time-out until further notice.

So, what is it the grand realization that I had? Well, it occurred to me that I expect a lot out of my body. I expect it to perform well when I’m exercising. I expect it to “look good” when I dress it up. I expect it to support me when I’m carrying out my day-to-day activities. I expect it to do the most, 100% of the time, 110% of the time, 24 hrs a day,  365 days of the year, and yet, what I’ve realized is. . .*drumroll, please*

I talk shit about my body ALL. THE.  TIME.

I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wrinkle my nose because my tee-shirt is clinging to my stomach or my zipper is gaping at the top of my waistband or whatever body-image problem I create.

I try on some clothes in a department store and twist up my face when it doesn’t look like it did in the catalog.

I see someone else who is toner, taller, fitter, slimmer, stronger,  and think, “Gah! Why doesn’t my body do those things? Why isn’t my body toner, taller, fitter, slimmer, stronger?”.

I talk SO. MUCH.  SHIT. about my body.

I realized if my body were a person, if my body were a friend,  and  if I talked that much shit about my friends that way, I wouldn’t have any friends.

I expect so much of something that gives me so much and yet I don’t treat it well. I don’t respect it.

Sure, I eat well. I get enough sleep.  I wear sunscreen. I wash my face before bed and make sure my satin bonnet covers my hair.  I do the “right things”.

In terms of kindness, though? I’m not particularly kind.

If I’m perfectly honest, there are times when I don’t like my body. I can admit that I have poor body image and struggle with self-esteem, but those are bags best left unpacked for another day.   I know that you can love something, but on occasion,  not like what it does. You can love someone and sometimes not like what they do.  I say that to the kids all of the time, “I love you, I just don’t like how you’re behaving, right now.” I know all of these things, but I don’t apply that same line of thinking to my body.  I don’t treat my body the way I would treat a partner, a friend, or a child. I need to love my body, even if I don’t like how it’s behaving at the moment.  Better yet, I need to love my body, full stop.

I need to get out of my own head. I need to stop acting as though my value is dependent on whether or not I can get into some skinny jeans, because it’s not.  It’s just not.

I also think that I don’t want for the bulk of my morning or a significant portion of my day spent working out in pursuit of a goal that, at the end of the day really isn’t that important.

workout, body, self-esteem, body-image, i love my body, strong, fit, fit chick, exercise, working on my fitness

#truth

I want to be fit. I want to be healthy. I want to live a long life. I need to make the appropriate choices with respect to diet and exercise in order to do that, but I’ve got to get out of my own head about having to have a flat stomach or ripped arms or whatever it is.

My body is amazing. I’ve walked across graduation stages. I’ve run races and led fitness exercises. I’ve lifted boxes when I’ve moved.  I’ve carried groceries and children, a bridal bouquet and a watermelon. I carried a watermelon.   I’ve done so much and relied on my body for all of those things. I’ve never really thanked it for any of it.  I’ve just asked it to do more, and be better, and be stronger without appreciating what it’s already done so far.

I wouldn’t want anyone to treat me that way — to constantly demand, demand, demand and then talk shit about me behind my back.

I wouldn’t dream of doing that to someone else, someone that I consider a friend and yet here we are.

So, when I shared all of this with M, the whole, “I talk shit about my body” line,  she kind of looked at me, blinked and then burst out laughing. There’s truth in humor, and she got it.  She’s been in the same position in trying to achieve a goal and to hear me articulate it like that, it was like, “Wow.  What are really doing with ourselves?” And don’t even get me started on the potential impact our own negative self-talk can have on our daughters.

This morning,  this was in my Pinterest feed:

self-esteem, body image, i love my body

read. repeat.

 

So there it is. 

If I can successfully navigate the gauntlet of making friends in adulthood, there is no reason I can’t be a better friend — no, just a friend period — to my body.  I’m ready to get started.

How are you kind to yourself? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Did you get the “I carried a watermelon” reference without clicking on the link?

Yes? *high five*, BFF!

Odds and Ends

August 5, 2015

Like I said on Monday, I’ve kind of been in hibernation the past two weeks since Snap, Crackle and Pop were away at camp.  Since the littlest of my warriors three came home a few days ago, I’ve had to get back into a routine of sorts.  No better way to do that than jumping in right in.

My plan for Monday was to get up at 5am, a 30 minute fitness DVD, have a shake and be ready for when V came down at her usual time of 7am.  I was way into my June Cleaver routine, with her breakfast laid out, my coffee ready to be poured so she and I could have some quality time before packing it up to go to the gym.

Tickety-tock, the hands went around and around the clock, with no movement from upstairs.  7am. Nothing. 7:30am. Nothing. 8am. Not a sound. Truthfully, I started to worry that she might have gotten sick or fallen out of her bed or something.  Typical #momproblems — any other time you would give your right arm for your little yokels to stay in bed.  The one time you need them up and out, they’re suddenly Rip Van Winkle.  At 8:15, I went up to her room and got in the bed with her.  She didn’t even crack her eyes open to see what the disturbance in the force was.

Well, far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth. I went downstairs and had my coffee, sans interruption, and almost forgot that I wasn’t home alone.  Almost.

Here a few odds and ends to get you through your Hump Day!

1. Winnetu Resort

We’re bi-annual Vineyarders who would have graduated to annual status this year, but sadly, we won’t be making the trek up for a variety of reasons.  Let’s just blame it on the boot and keep it moving.    In the meantime, I <strike>torture</strike> console myself by looking at the picturesque images Winnetu Resort puts up on social media.  Last summer, we drove by the property on our way to Katama Beach and I’ve been IG stalking them ever since. The phrase “I want to go to there” has never been more apropos.

2. Marley Bun Tutorial

During my “staycation”, I made some appointments to get some “landscaping” done (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) as well as an appointment to get my hair done. I did a no heat challenge back in January and even though that challenge has been over for a while, I still haven’t put any heat on my hair. I made an appointment to get my hair blown out, but as the date drew near, I cancelled it.  Why? You know, I really dig my curls and I was afraid if I blew it out, the curl pattern would be all “Bye Felecia”, leaving me with a wonky ‘do when I tried to go back to curly.  Plus, the last few times I tried to switch up my hair game (crochet braids, weave [yeah, I did it]), it was not the best look.  I need something that’s a temporary style that doesn’t have the potential to harm my hair.  Seeing as I can’t master perm rod set, the This Marley Bun might be the trick.  And can I say to my naturalistas, if you don’t know Naptural85, do yourself a favor and get on it.

3. Pinch of Yum Arugula Salad with Grapes and Black Pepper Vinaigrette

Along with hitting up the gym, I’m back in the kitchen trying to make healthy food choices.  It blows.  I really want to have wine and cupcakes.  Like a good Cabernet and a moist cupcake with buttercream frosting topped with bacon *drool*.  Instead, I’m being a good little bunny and having carrots and hummus. Not quite the same thing, but it’s the Cab and cupcakes that have torn apart the star-crossed lovers that are the button and the buttonhole of my pants, so you gotta do what you gotta do.  Last night, I made the bomb dinner — marinated flank steak with arugula salad with grapes and black pepper vinaigrette.  I almost broke both my arms — one patting myself on the back and one shoveling the food into my face.

4. Simply Balanced Sparking Water

Seeing as I’ve given up alcohol for the foreeable future (no more drinking my calories), I had to find another flavorful beverage to add to my rotation.  This is one of the better sparkling waters that I’ve found.

5. Lavender Recipes

So, this summer, I started a little herb garden and tried my hand at keeping some perennials (or are they annuals) alive.  Success with the former, not so much with the latter, but hey, new skill set.  I’ve enjoyed tending my little plots of dirt. I’ve got two kinds of mint, parsley, cilantro, basil, rosemary and lavender.  Amazingly, I’ve used pretty much all of the herbs.  My fresh salsa tastes that much better knowing the cilantro in it came from my own garden.  The basil that I needed for the Arugula salad? Came from my garden! That detox water I’ve been drinking? You know where the mint came from? Yuuuuup.  I picked my own rosemary for the Epicurious marinade I did earlier in the season.  The one thing I haven’t figured out how to use just yet is the lavender. When I put the herbs in the dirt at the beginning of the summer, I thought for sure I’d be sniping those fragile buds and stirring them into cookie batter or muffin mix.  I’m not sure I have enough to even garnish a glass of iced tea!  Not quite a #greenthumbfail, but I need to read up on the care and keeping of lavender, and then branch out to cooking with it.  Still, I love a good recipe, so please share if you’ve got one.

What odds and ends have you bookmarked lately? Tell me about them in the comments!

Let’s See What Develops, Pt. 7

August 3, 2015

I know I’ve been MIA for a while.  I got everyone off to camp successfully and then I went into hibernation for the past two weeks.  I wish I could say I was in the South of France, visiting vineyards and noshing on butter slathered baguettes.  I wasn’t even digging my non-booted toes into the sand down the road in Virginia Beach. I was home. I was doing a whole lot of nothing.  I caught up with some friends. I did a little “personal maintenance”. I started back to the gym.  I took a nap. I went to the museum. I did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it.

Alas, the staycation is over.  V came home Friday and hit the ground running.  M and C come home this coming Saturday and then we will be starting our final lap of summer vacation.  I can’t believe it’s August. I can’t believe that in this month alone, the following things are going to happen:

  • M will turn 10 years old
  • We will be having a party with a gaggle of other 10 year olds to celebrate.
  • School starts in three weeks.
  • I will be having a party with a gaggle of other moms to celebrate.

In the meantime, however, I need to return to my photography questions that I had been so diligently working on several weeks ago.

See, I love photography. I love pictures. I love looking at them. I love being in them. I love taking them. The other day, I texted a college friend a snap of a photo from the summer we met ::koff::koff::1993::koff::koff.  She wanted to know how much it was gonna take to never let that photo see the light of day again.

These days, however,  while I am an avid Intagrammer, I have been neglecting my DSLR. My camera body is pristine from lack of use. My Lightroom is laughably outdated. I need to make a change beyond toting my camera around with me like another member of the family. I need to examine what it is that I love about photography, how I got here and why I want to keep taking pictures. Some introspection was in order.

The photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has a series of photographer interviews that I read voraciously. The more I read, the more my mind sparked and fired, ideas pinging around faster than I could grab them. If reading about other photographers created such a response, what would happen if I posed those same questions* to myself? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.

*photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.

Share Links to 3 of Your Favorite Photography Tutorials and Tell Us Why

photo, photography, portrait, nikon

Nikon 18-55mm| 34mm |f/3.5 | 1/500

Tough question, because there are gobs of great tutorials, tips, tricks and tools out there to help photographers do their best work.  These three tutorials have helped me the most on my photography journey.

  • 20 Things I Wish I Knew About Photographing in Manual Mode by Carrie Swails.  As I talked about before, shooting in manual was one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve received so far on my photography journey.  It’s daunting, I know. There are so many setting on the camera, why not put them to use, right? My approach to manual is more like if I can understand what it is, how it works, how my choices effect the outcome of the photo, then, I can better understand everything else about the other camera settings that I have.  If I don’t realize how ISO, aperture and shutter speed — when they come together correctly —  create great images, why am I even shooting in the first place?  Of all of the tips listed, #11 is the most resonant:  Photographing in manual is hard, but it will force you to learn your camera inside and out and you’ll be a better photographer for it. It takes practice so don’t expect everything to come naturally the first time out. Practice, practice, practice, and then go practice some more — in manual.
  • How to Achieve Nice Bokeh [In Plain English] by Annie Tao.   When I first started shooting, I really wanted to master that creamy, blurred background you find in photography. I didn’t know what it was called, let alone how to do it, but I was determined to figure it out. After lots of Internet searching, I learned about bokeh.  What’s great about mastering this technique is that it makes your image visually pleasing.  Your subject pops out.   You can camoflage any less than ideal background noise.  This tutorial touches on all of the pieces that make achieving that dreamy background possible:  lens choice, aperture choice, and opting to use bokeh in the foreground to show an alternative perspective.
  • 9 Ways to Get Meaningful Expressions in Child Portraits by Elizabeth Halford.  This article has been a great resource for me as a portrait photographer. I refer to it often, especially as prepare for a session with kiddos.  Working with kids, I’ve seen everything from those who have had their photos taken so often, they have more a rictus grin than a genuine smile, to kids who just flat out refuse to engage.  Halford provides a variety of easy tips to help coax the truest smile and the sweetest expressions from any child.

Recipe Friday: Spinach Stuffed Steak Roulades

July 17, 2015

A few days ago, I saw this blog post in my news-feed entitled, ” The 15 Best Things I Ever Ate.” over on Cupcakes and Cashmere, so of course, I had to satisfy the curious foodie in me. I clicked on over, not only learning that I need to be watching The Best Thing I Ever Ate.’ on The Food Network, but that if I had to come up with a list of 15 of the best things I ever ate, I might be hard pressed to do so.

While I try to eat the rainbow, with a little bit of wine and dessert thrown in, I am pretty routine in my food choices. I’ll admit it, I eat the same handful of meals every day.   Even when I go out to eat, I don’t really explore much beyond what is instantly recognizable to me.  Because I enjoy eating, I’m not going to waste an opportunity on something I’m not at least 75% sure I’m going to like.  I know, I’m crazy. 

I’m not strictly a meat and potatoes kind of gal, but I will say steak frites is one of my favorite meals.  I guess, that would be the first entry on my list; now, to narrow it down to where I had the “best” steak frites”.  Decisions, decisions. 

While I ruminate on the plates and places that got my palate percolating (see what I did there?), I’ll share with you one an easy and flavorful recipe that makes for a great dinner time presentation.  And, let me just say, last night, I had the camera out and was clicking artfully styled images of each step of the process to turn these 5 ingredients into a delicious dinner.  I uploaded my images. I edited them just a touch. I downloaded them to WordPress and then. . . error message.

I tried again. I adjusted some setting. I closed some programs. I re-opened others. I went to add the images and. . .error message.

One more try and still nothing. My morning is but a memory and my afternoon is heading into the oblivion of post-camp/pre-bedtime scramble as I have to scoop up M and C in about, oh, 5 minutes.  I don’t know what’s worse, writing an epic post, not hitting save and losing it OR writing an epic post, saving it, but then not being able to use the coordinating images that you worked really hard on because error message. Sometimes, I just want to shake my Mac like an Etch-A-Sketch and have everything settle where it’s supposed to be.

Ugh.

Anyway, my apologies for an internet stock photo, but trust me, if you make this yourself, you’ll want to take your own photos to show what an awesome kitchen warrior you are!

Happy Friday, y’all!

Spinach Stuffed Steak Roulades

spinach, stuffed, steak, roulades, real simple, Charles Masters, Real Simple, recipes

Spinach Stuffed Steak Roulades photo by Charles Masters, Real Simple Magazine

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple
Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 pound flank steak
1/4 cup olive tapenade
2 cups  spinach, thick stems removed
kosher salt and black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat grill to medium-high. Cut the steak in half horizontally (don’t cut all the way through) and open like a book.
  2. Spread the tapenade over the steak; top with the spinach. Roll up; tie with twine at 2-inch intervals. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  3. Grill the steak, covered, turning occasionally, 15 to 18 minutes for medium-rare. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Odds and Ends

July 15, 2015

It’s Wednesday, my good people!  This is definitely the day of middles: Middle of the day, middle of the week, middle of the month. . .middle of the summer! July 15th, can you believe it? When the girls got out of school on the 4th of June, the summer stretched out before us, a long lonely highway with ribbons of heat shimmering in the distance.

Here is is the mid-point and while some of us have already done their major summer traveling, others are gearing up for their getaways.  Over here at Camp Dixon, we’ve done everything from a tour of the White House, mid-day Minion movies, arts and crafts, the zoo, and the Botanical Gardens.

Seeing as I have completely blown my wad earlier this season, It’s a good thing our second act of summer activities includes Camp Grandma for V, Camp Alleghany for M and C, and Camp The-Kids-Are-Away for me.  I’ve got to get three little people packed for three weeks away from home, all within the next few days.  Oh, who am I kidding? Y’all know those jokers have been packed, labeled, and the bags by the door since the first of the month! I need to tuck a few odds and ends into their trunks and totes: letters from Mom reminding them to wear clean underwear everyday (seriously, this is a thing), a few of their favorite snacks and comics, and an extra lovey, you know, just in case. And as a reward for all my hard work, because these kiddos are packed like they’re hitting the Oregon Trail, a few odds and ends to put a smile on my face.

1. So when the kids are away, what’s a mom to do? Probably clean out my closet. Again.

2. And I’ve got some location work to do for an upcoming shoot near my alma mater.

3. It’s not going to be all work, though.  I’ll be hitting the movies again. I’ve already checked off Jurassic World (thumbs up) and Magic Mike XXL (two thumbs up).  If you’ve seen MMXXL, do yourself a a favor and read this recap to relive it all in all of it’s hilarious glory. #spoileralert

4. Speaking of movies, my Netflix queue is painfully thin. My brother recommended I check out this show called Sens8.  I watched the first episode and was like, “What. The. Entire. F*ck did I just watch”? I want my hour back.  No, really.

5. Instead of watching that weird show, I could have used that time looking for some white jeans for my wardrobe capsule.  I tried to try some on a few weeks ago, but you know that boot I’m rocking? Yeah, it kind of makes dressing and undressing a laborious process that involves more sitting and standing than a high holy service at church.  Even if I won’t be wearing the jeans any time soon, at least I have some style ideas for when the time comes.

Let’s See What Develops, Pt. 6

July 9, 2015

Whew, how is it the 8th of July already? I swear, once the last embers from 4th of July fireworks flame out, summer just barrels down the tracks towards Labor Day.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working with the ladies at Blogzilla Studio to give my little piece of the blogosphere a bit of a face lift.  Going with clean, simple and streamlined.  Tell me what you think!

So, back to the business at hand. I’m still working my way through the photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.

A little context: I love photography. I love pictures. I love looking at them. I love being in them. I love taking them. However, with the way I’ve been treating my camera, you’d never know it. While I am an avid Instagrammer, I have been neglecting my DSLR.  My camera body is pristine from lack of use.  My Lightroom is laughably outdated.  I need to make a change beyond toting my camera around with me like another member of the family.  I need to examine what it is that I love about photography, how I got here and why I want to keep taking pictures.  Some introspection was in order.

The photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has a series of photographer interviews that I read voraciously.  The more I read, the more my mind sparked and fired, ideas pinging around faster than I could grab them.  If reading about other photographers created such a response, what would happen if I posed those same questions* to myself?   Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.

If you could only use one lens for a year, which would you choose?

photography, photography, nikon, camera, lens

Nikon 18-55mm | 28mm | f/3.2 | 1/50 sec

Gah! This is extremely tough.  There are three lenses that I keep in rotation, but the one that I gravitate towards the most would be my Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5.  This was one of the last lenses that I acquired and I have found it provides me with the greatest versatility.  This little powerhouse enables me to shoot wide angle to standard snaps, as well as tight portraits all while provding that highly sought-after, creamy bokeh. The lens itself is super light, provides sharp focus and really is just the perfect lens to keep on the camera body for quick grab and go shooting.  And no, Nikon didn’t pay me to say that!

Let’s See What Develops, Pt. 5

June 29, 2015

I love photography. I love pictures. I love looking at them. I love being in them. I love taking them. However, with the way I’ve been treating my camera, you’d never know it. While I am an avid Instagrammer, I have been neglecting my DSLR.  My camera body is pristine from lack of use.  My Lightroom is laughably outdated.  I need to make a change beyond toting my camera around with me like another member of the family.  I need to examine what it is that I love about photography, how I got here and why I want to keep taking pictures.  Some introspection was in order.

The photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has a series of photographer interviews that I read voraciously.  The more I read, the more my mind sparked and fired, ideas pinging around faster than I could grab them.  If reading about other photographers created such a response, what would happen if I posed those same questions* to myself?   Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.

*photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.

Are you currently doing any photography projects? If so, what?

swimsuit project, growth, development, pinterest, parents magazine

Current Photography Project

In August of 2006, M was turning a year old.  During her first year, I turned to a number of resources to help me navigate the first year of parenthood: family, friends, books, magazines — I was all over it, making sure that she was hitting her milestones, that she was eating from all of the food groups, and that she was engaged in activities to stimulate growth and development — Gymboree Play and Music! Kindermusik! Stroller Strides! My mother gifted me with a subscription to Parents Magazine as part of my “Welcome to Motherhood” starter pack.  In the last issue before my subscription ran out, I came across an article entitled “The Swimsuit Project”.  In it, author Maria Heck describes how prior to her becoming a mother, she came across a photo essay in Life Magazine.  The photo essay depicted a young woman whose mother had posed her in the same bathing suit each year on her birthday.  Heck was duly impressed and promised herself that whenever she had a daughter, she would duplicate the project.  When her daughter was 4 months old, Heck slipped Madeline into a floral bathing suit, complete with bra cups, that had belonged to Heck’s mother.  Every year on Madeline’s birthday, Heck snapped a picture. She did this for 15 years, stopping when the suit fit her daughter better than it had ever fit her own mother.

At that point in time, Heck decided that, “the chronicle is complete. She has gone from baby to young woman. If anything proves that your child grows up in the blink of an eye, it’s seeing these pictures all together and realizing that the first one was only a heartbeat away from the last.”

This is a project that I work on three times a year, one time for each of my girls.  Another worthwhile challenge I did was a photo-a-day challenge for a year.  I chronicled my experiences on a dedicated tumblr blog, which when I look back on now, unfolds into a very spectacular story.

I’ve looked into doing several other mini-challenges like a photo an hour for a day, or selfie a day for a week or 30 days of 30 things that start with the letter H (that last one I just made up, but who knows? It could be totally do-able!).

 

Recipe Friday: DIY Detox Water

June 26, 2015

I’ll admit it.  I want a flat stomach.

I don’t need rippling ab muscles.  I’m not trying to wash clothes on my stomach. I just want a smooth, flat space from under the girls to below the bellybutton.  I want the “pooch” to disappear.

I know that a few months ago, my post 21 Day Fix photo popped up showing me with a more defined midsection.  I worked hard for that definition.  Really hard.  Which is why I’m so frustrated with how things are going now.  Two months of not working out at all and I’m back to my pre 21 Day Fix measurements.  I’ve heard the adage that there’s someone out there who wishes your weakest/heaviest/worst was their fittest/thinnest/best. I get it. I totally get that, but. . .

I want a flat stomach.

Two years ago, I shared with you all my experience with diastasis recti, the separation of the abdominal muscles due to weakened core, pregnancy or hormonal changes. I had heard of this condition before; basically, the sheet of abdominal muscles separates.  It’s not life threatening (at least, nothing I read said that it was), but you are supposed to use caution when doing crunches and sit-ups in the off chance that your cause further separatation of the mucles.

From what I remember from anatomy and phys., of the multiple sets of abdominal muscles you have, your rectus abdominis is the sheet of muscles that is where you get your six pack.  The muscles are connected by a tendon that runs down the middle.  The tendon has no elasticity in it, which means if you put on a lot of weight (as in the case with a pregnancy), the muscles separate, the tendon gets stretched.  After you lose the weight, the muscles, which have elasticity, retract, but the tendon is still in the same stretched out shape it was in when you put the weight on, thereby causing the gap between the muscles.

“To check yourself for diastasis, lie on your back with your knees bent.  With your fingers pointing down toward your feet, hold two fingers flat on your bellybutton.  Press your fingers down as you slowly lift your head (keep your shoulders on the ground).  Do you feel a gully between the two muscles?  Measure how many fingers wide it is (mine is about 2.5 fingers wide).  If you can fit two or more fingers inside, you should not do crunches or sit ups.  If this is you, I would recommend halting all traditional abdominal exercises and doing the workout on this page until your separation heals.” — from Dear Diastasis Recti, I’m so over you by Inspired RD on June 19, 2012

The earliest chance I got, I’m on the floor with my knees bent, fingers in my belly button. I’m kind of thinking whatever’s about to happen is going to make me less than pleased, but I soldier on. I start to slowly lift my head and let me tell you, my abs parted like the Red Sea and my fingers were Noah.  Sweet fancy Moses! I’m pretty sure I could have pulled Jimmy Hoffa, Ameila Earheart, and the Holy Grail out of the gap between the muscles.

*le sigh* Ultimately, the gap is what contributes to the nefarious “mommy pooch”, and apparently it can be overcome by strengthening the core.  So, what’s a girl to do? No crunches, apparently.  The website provided a list of alternative exercises to do to strengthen the muscles, but I honestly don’t believe a gap like mine or the ones described can just be “healed” (their word, not mine).

In 2013, I visited a plastic surgeon as part of my second ankle repair surgery. After we discussed how he would work in conjunction with my orthopedist to revise the scar on my leg (so much for that), I asked him about my C-Section scar.  That in turn lead to a convo about abdomnioplasty and diastasis recti.  The doctor had me lie back with my knees drawn up and my feet flat on the table, just like the Inspired RD describes.  He then measured the separation, again, just like described above.  Diagnosis? I’ve got it. And he assured me he could fix it. I think his exact words were, “Oh, I can totally take care of that!”

Totally.

Part of me was hoping he was going to say that my situation was all in my head, just me being vain and it wasn’t anything a few thousand crunches couldn’t fix. Part of me was validated though, and I totally want everyone to stick their fingers in my gut so I can sit up and be like, “See, what I’m talking about?!”

But, surgery isn’t going to happen for a variety of reasons, tops on the list being, I need to get over myself.  Close second is I’m in no rush for more surgery, followed by I really need to get over myself.

So, in the interim, I try to eat right and am counting down the days until I can exercise again.  The healthy eating is coming along pretty nicely. Pinterest — of course — has tons of useful recipes and suggestions, which brings me to today’s recipe.  Detox Water to Shrink Your Belly.

The pin bragged a slimmer stomach in 10 days.  I thought, “I’ve got 10 Days. What’s the worst that can happen? I drink more water?” So, I tried it out.  Honestly, though, I don’t know if it is working.  I’m going to say not working, but only because I have a habit of cozying up with a spoon and some almond butter every evening.  Oh have the mighty have fallen.  Still, I’ve increased my water intake significantly, so, you know, there’s that.

Happy Friday, y’all!

 

DIY Detox Water to Shrink Your Belly

from DIY Beauty Tutorials

 

Ingredients

  • 3-5 slices of cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 3-4 mint leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
Lemon, ginger, honey, mint, cucumber

Lemon, ginger, honey, mint and cucumber

While the original post included step by step instructions, I’ve made a few modifications to make this recipe more my own.

Every evening before bed, I grab a Tervis tumbler and my supplies. I usually have snapped a few sprigs of mint from my herb garden earlier in the day, so I drop those into the bottom of the cup.  I use a mandoline and pass a cucumber over the blades’ thinnest setting about four times.  Drop those into the cup.  Next, I take out my microplaner and get busy with the ginger.  Ginger is the key ingredient for boosting your metabolism, so I’m pretty heavy handed with it.  I half a lemon and squeeze the juice on in.  Then I top it off with blorp of honey from the honey bear and fill the cup with water. Into the fridge it goes until the morning.

  • detox water, flat stomach, water, ginger, lemon, cucumber, honey, mint, paper straw

    Drink Up!

 

When I get up at 5:30, I clip clop downstairs, grab the water and straw. I also grab a 900ml cup and fill that with water.  Then, back up the stairs to set up a mini hydration station on my nightstand.  While I do my first set of 20 minute squats for the day, I drink water.  While I watch the news, I drink water. While I do my second set of 20 minute squats for the day, I drink water.  The 900ml cup provides refills, though the flavor gets more and more diluted with each pour.  By 7am, I’ve had about 46 oz of water, which is close to 6 cups.  I’ve also been to the bathroom about as many times.

Odds and Ends

June 24, 2015

 

Whew! The heat has been intense. All of the popsicles were gobbled up before the kids headed off to camp on Sunday. Here it is Wednesday and I am popsicle-less.  How did that happen?  How is it Wednesday already?! What is going on around here? A few mid-week odds and ends, that’s what.

1. Given the current boot situation, I think this is as close to the beach as I’m going to get this summer. *le sigh*

2. After stalling out several times over the week-end, my poor truck is getting repaired.  Since two thirds of my crew are at camp, I didn’t have to get a mini van from the rental company (Enterprise, you’re the real MVP).  I’ve been tooling around in this and I might not give it back.

3. I’ve been itching to do something craft-tastic lately, but have been coming up empty on ideas.  As luck would have it, Buzzfeed DIY sent 33 Gorgeous DIY Projects to Decorate Your Grown-Up Apartment right to my inbox! It’s such an ask and you shall receive moment, I’m seriously thinking I need to ask a little bigger, you know what I mean? Of the 33 ideas, this one looks will be perfect in the kitchen. V and I cleared out the paint chip aisle at Lowe’s like we were on Supermarket Sweep.

4. And speaking of stuff to hang on the walls. . .um, I need this, like, immediately!

5. Summer is a great time for cook-outs, clambakes, and generally any excuse to get together with friends and family over food.  I’d really like to try a picnic party: just invite folks over with blankets and baskets and just sit in the grass and catch up.  You know, like this.  Of course, given the heat index, the bugs, and the inevitable kiddie meltdowns, this may just have to happen in my imagination.

What odds and ends did I miss?  Share them with me in the comments!

 

Let’s See What Develops, Pt. 4

June 22, 2015

I love photography. I love pictures. I love looking at them. I love being in them. I love taking them. However, with the way I’ve been treating my camera, you’d never know it. While I am an avid Instagrammer, I have been neglecting my DSLR.  My camera body is pristine from lack of use.  My Lightroom is laughably outdated.  I need to make a change beyond toting my camera around with me like another member of the family.  I need to examine what it is that I love about photography, how I got here and why I want to keep taking pictures.  Some introspection was in order.

The photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has a series of photographer interviews that I read voraciously.  The more I read, the more my mind sparked and fired, ideas pinging around faster than I could grab them.  If reading about other photographers created such a response, what would happen if I posed those same questions* to myself?   Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.

*photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.

What Type of Background Do You Have?

Hilary Grant Dixon, photography, portraits, black and white photography, weddings

Nikon D5000 | 1/1250 sec | 175mm | f/5.3 | Nikon 70-200mm

I’m self-taught. I have a great number of photographer friends who have allowed me not only to pick their brains and pepper them with questions.   When I’ve worked as a model, some of the photographers have let me see my film — or digital snaps, nowadays — and point out what’s working and what’s not with the lighting, speed, and depth of field. Being able to observe  in the field is an invaluable experience.

I’m a bookworm and have a pretty extensive collection of books to which I refer. One of my favorites is Nikon D5000: From Snapshots to Great Shots. It’s full of useful, instructional information as well as photos taken by that camera body that make it a great resource.     I have taken classes and workshops. I’ve taken ones offered by professionals on Groupon and ones offered by the fine arts museum in my city.  I read a lot of articles from bloggers as well as a scores of pins from Pinterest about ways to improve everything from the care of my camera and lenses to how to get the most natural looking expressions from feisty children.

Without a doubt, hands-on experience is the best.  Taking snaps of my kids, my dinner, myself — all of those instances provide me with information on what I can do to be better and more creative for the next time.