Ground Rules

In case you missed it, yesterday I announced that I will be posting every day about my research and self-experimentation on the topic of weight loss after pregnancy. Today, I shall outline my ground rules.

Rule #1: There will be baby photos.

I may have interruptions for baby pictures and my bibliography. I’ve enjoyed having a record of what I’m reading, and I straight-up refuse to apologize for baby pictures.

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H looking fly at three months old

In fact, I’ll go ahead and set the tone now with an old baby photo of my firstborn.

Baby photos aside, I think there are some traps inherent in blogging through weight loss after a pregnancy, and so I want to plan for a couple of things and keep them right in front of me (and anyone who cares to read along) the whole time.

Rule #2: Maintain a healthy mental attitude.

Ultimately, I want to get back into shape as quickly as possible because exercise makes me happy and mentally stable. Being strong, being sore, and playing hard, despite how unpleasant that may sound to some, make me feel good and give me essential energy for doing the important stuff. And I think (maybe this will be a topic for another post, once I get some solid research behind it) that it improves my cognitive function, too. Certainly, feeling energetic and taken care of are baseline requirements for me to be a good parent. I’m not trying to punish myself or achieve a particular look. I’m not trying to achieve a thigh gap. My thighs will never, ever have a gap in them, and if they do, it’s not good news; it can only be because I’ve fallen prey to some kind of muscular wasting disease. I may always have loose skin on my stomach and cellulite on my butt. That’s all really beside the point. Loose skin and strong thighs never kept anyone from climbing hard, running fast, lifting heavy, or feeling good (I feel like that would make a good t-shirt).
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An Experiment

An idea struck me today as I was reading Gretchen Rubin’s 10th blogging anniversary post, 10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Blogging. In it, she writes, “It’s often easier to do something every day than some days.”

Putting something on the checklist to do every day is easier than deciding whether to do it from one day to the next. There’s no energy spent thinking, “Is today the day? Tomorrow might be better for it. Yeah, I’ll do it tomorrow.” That’s true about exercise, whether or not to eat sweets, drinking, tooth brushing…any habit, really. 4528869007_4484c3d401_z

Gretchen knows from habits. Besides the fact that she wrote Better Than Before, which is a thoroughly-researched book on habit change that I loved, she also has been blogging for 10 years. Now that is a habit. I’ve never done ANYTHING for 10 years straight, except breathe.

So I thought about posting every day, and I could feel my overloaded mind reeling. After all, I have a full-time job, a toddler, a baby on the way (in like 2 weeks), and I’m doing my best to maintain my own mental, social, and physical health in my “spare” time. Writing the types of posts I have been creating to date – long, thoughtful, thoroughly edited meditations on big topics – realistically, these are not posts I could produce every day. At least not at this time in my life. So what could I do instead? I wondered. Continue reading

What I Read in March

March has been interesting. We’re deep into the show Continuum, which does take up most of my reading time (post-Harley bedtime), but I did read four books this month (or I guess three and a half, because one of them was technically a novella).

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The Kingdom of Gods, N.K. Jemisin. Starring the trickster god Sieh, who featured heavily in the first book of the trilogy, the conclusion of the Inheritance trilogy was twice as long as the others and twice as heavy. It took on the themes of change – big, epic, world-shaking change, change in gods, the ultimate change of death. It could not have chosen a better main character, of course. How could anyone but a trickster lead a story like this? I am very impressed by Jemisin’s ambition and execution. There have not been many stories as original and epic as this – if any – since Tolkien first wrote the Lord of the Rings.

The Awakened Kingdom, N.K. Jemisin. This was the novella. It was about a baby godling finding her true nature. That may be all I need to say, yes? Except to add that it was an enchanting read.

The War of Art, Steven Pressfield. I’ve been told to read this by approximately one billion of the seven billion on the planet, so I did. Pressfield frames difficulties and obstacles in writing – psychological, primarily, really any obstacle – as “Resistance,” which is the enemy. The cure? “Turning pro,” as he calls it. Working through it. Sitting down and creating, even when the artist feels no inspiration. I do agree with that perspective, even if I still struggle with it myself. I do try to write every day, even though most of it never will see the light of day. And I think everyone has some kind of creativity that they need to serve – it’s just part of our humanity that we need to honor in order to be whole.

Siblings Without Rivalry, Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber. The authors of How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk felt that the interactions between siblings merit a separate book, and I agree. I LOVE How to Talk, and the lessons I took from it probably could be the subject of another entire post (acknowledging rather than dismissing feelings is my favorite, probably because it’s the least intuitive to me). Siblings applied the same concepts of their first book to the fraught topic of brother and sister interactions, which we are fast approaching, with Harley’s brother on his way in just a few short weeks. I appreciated the book a ton, but I also found that most of the things in there were familiar – mostly because my own parents used many of the same principles when I was growing up. But one that was interesting and challenging to me was that of avoiding roles. The idea is not to cast your kids into roles, especially in contrast to their siblings, because it can be limiting, to try to give them opportunities to act outside the “role” they might tend to acquire, whether because of birth order or temperament. So this is a bit difficult, because I do think it’s important, and by my reading, Faber and Mazlish agree, to appreciate each child for their uniqueness. But what is the line between appreciating that uniqueness and casting the child into a “role”? I’ll give myself as an example, and my sister, who hopefully will not mind. As a child, I was the quiet, sensitive, smart one. My sister was outgoing, energetic, socially adept. I suppose the authors would say that for two girls like that, develop the social skills of the quiet one, affirm her ability to connect with people, and for the outgoing one, develop her learning abilities and affirm her intelligence. But appreciate the strengths. Still, seems like a tricky line to walk. I suppose that is the benefit of not having to treat kids exactly the same, which is another major point of the books. Give each kid what they need, the authors argue. Don’t try to make things “equal” – mostly because it’s impossible! I think that is the approach that my parents took, which hopefully will make it easier for me to do the same thing.