Saturday, January 26, 2013

Eyes on the Prize

In my quest for core strength, I've been doing a lot of planking recently and one night last week, I did my #plankaday in my sports bra. I made the mistake of looking down and practically burst into tears as a result. My tummy, it just looked saggy. I hadn't previously realized the full effects of pregnancy on my body. Sure, I knew that my boobs weren't what they used to be, but I didn't think they were bad.  The saggy tummy  realization caused me to rip off my bra and see that my chest is in the same shape. OH...MY...GOD.

Fast forward to today. I was at Dick's this morning to pick up a new resistance band (I broke my old one this week) and noticed that they had running shorts on clearance.  I grabbed a pair of mediums (smalls just seemed so small) and paid just $5.98 them.  When I got home and tried them on, I realized two things.  First, the mediums were big (yay)!  I never really saw myself wearing a size small, but that seems to be the norm for me these days.  Such a victory.  The second, and most important thing is that I have really great legs.  I'm fortunate to be tall and (now) lean with some muscle definition.  All of my hard work over the last year plus has really paid off for my gams!

I've never been proud of my body.  As someone who survived an eating disorder, I clearly have some residual body image issues.  The recent realization that my upper body is showing evidence of mommyhood didn't sit well with me.  However, seeing a really great part of my body helped to put things into perspective. My chest is the way it is because I proudly breastfed my daughter for 15 months.  She was a gloriously fat baby who never had a single ounce of formula and I love the fact that my body was able to provide for her.  What I saw earlier this week is evidence of that triumph, not something to be ashamed of.  My legs look this way now because I've worked my ass off in the gym.  I may not be able to significantly improve my chest, but I can certainly keep working on and show off my rockin' legs!  Now, I have a new reason to do a few more squats.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put on a short skirt and then find my husband. ;)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Admitting I'm tired...

Recently, while perusing Pinterest, I saw an eye concealer with a caption that read “No one will realize how tired you really are.”  It caught my attention because I have some pretty serious circles under my eyes.  I looked at the link and I think I might have even pinned it to my “For Me” board.  Then I promptly went on with the rest of my day.
I’ve been really busy over the last few months.  When I think about it, I’ve been busy for years and years.  It’s just my nature to always be active.  The trouble is that now, in my thirties, all the hustle and bustle is catching up with me.  I never sit still and it’s getting worse.  I’m pretty sure that my activity level is overcompensating for my exhaustion.  I don’t want to admit that I need to slow down and chill out.  I want to be the perfect mom.  I want to prove that I can work full time and be a great mom and be in shape and be stylish and be…everything to everyone.  I keep taking on more and more and more and more.  To that end, at the beginning of the month, I committed to extra workouts, an annual mileage goal and a ton of strength training.  I’ve been doing it, but in retrospect, I’m pretty sure that this is another example of overcommitting.  This activity level isn’t sustainable given my busy lifestyle.
I was able to spend some time thinking over the weekend and I remembered that Pinterest eye stuff.  The thing that struck me was the phrase “No one will realize how tired you really are.”  I’ve come to the realization that I’m expending a lot of energy trying to make sure that no one realizes that I’m worn out.  I’ve been hopeful that the extra exercise would give me more oomph, but I’m literally too tired for that oomph to stick with me.  When I finish a workout, I feel good.  The next day, I have to drag my tired ass out of bed to fight through my daily routine again.   Tonight, for example, I am so worn out from the stress of work, my sick kid, the whirlwind multi-state trip I took this weekend, and cleaning up my house, that the last thing I have the energy for is working out.  I’ll go do it, but I really just need to go to bed.  Tomorrow, when my kid yells for me to get up at 5:30am, I’m going to be resentful… resentful of her and resentful of my decision to prioritize exercise over sleep.
I need to find a balance.  I’ve been so positive about my lifestyle change.  I need to get that positivity back and chill out.  I need to stop stressing about exercise and find the joy in it again.  Until I find that joy, I’m going to cut back a bit.  I’m still keeping my mileage goal and will be doing my regular push-ups and planking.  I’m going to put the rest of it on hold for a week or two and spend the extra time in bed.  I’m hopeful that with a little extra rest, I’ll come out of my funk and get my workout mojo back.

Casual Tuesday

I never, and I mean NEVER, get to dress down for work.  Our office usually offers a jeans on Friday deal in exchange for a monetary donation to a charity, but I'm not able to take advantage of it for a number of reasons.  Today though, our team has an off site meeting all afternoon and we decided to offer a casual dress day.  As a result, jeans for all!
Rather than look super stylish, I decided to go for comfort and warmth.  The temperature is in the single digits here and with the wind chill, it's like 20 below or something.  I'm wearing a turtleneck sweater that I purchased during a trip to Whistler many years ago, last year's Hudson jeans, striped knee socks and my slightly odd Kork Ease mary janes.  The sweater has a cute kangaroo pocket, which I really love.  I hate the feel of wearing a belt with jeans, so I have a camisole on to help provide some extra coverage in the backside...just in case my jeans slide down a bit.
Yay for a comfy day at work!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mamavation Monday Post #3

I'm sore.

Since jumping on the Mamavation bandwagon, I've been sore.  While I was on winter break, I kept up with most of the hazing workouts and some of the moves really kicked my butt (lunges in particular).  At that point, I realized that my workouts haven't been doing everything that I'd like, so the soreness prompted me to change my entire workout routine.  I'm doing a 100 push up challenge and although I'm almost done with week 2, my shoulders are STILL sore.  I've started doing planks and have more than doubled my time over the last week.  As a result, my abs are sore.  I bought a couple of Tae Bo DVDs.  I loved Billy Blanks 10 years ago, but this afternoon, when I popped the 10 minute workouts disc in, I cursed him.  Now, my quads are sore.

Sore, sore, sore, sore, sore...

Here's the thing...I'm not really complaining.  I like the feeling of achy muscles.  I know that I'm working hard and I love the fact that my body is responding to it.  I can feel myself getting stronger and becoming more powerful.  When I picked up my 38 pound daughter to put her in the cart at Costco today, it was easy.  That was exactly what I hoped would happen.  I'm literally becoming healthier for my family.  Today, N asked me if I was going to do push ups.  She wanted to join me.  How cool is it that at the age of 3, she understands that exercise is good for you.  I've been very careful to ensure that she doesn't associate my lifestyle with weight loss, rather it's all about being healthy.  At dinner tonight, she told me that she loved the quinoa I made for her and my heart melted.

The best development of the week is that my husband started a couch to 5k program.  He's in great shape as a result of eating well and strength training 3-4 times per week for like, forever.  His downfall is cardio.  He will attempt the elliptical, but gets bored immediately and gives up.  He doesn't have a bike and frankly, the weather in our city doesn't make biking easy.  Anyway, he's been paying attention to the fact that I'm shaking up my routines and he decided to do the same.  He went for his first run yesterday and really enjoyed it.  I think he's also really liking the alone time that running affords. :) 

So, although I'm sore, I'm thankful.  My family is healthy and continuing down this lifestyle change with me.  I couldn't be happier about the aches and pains in my muscles because they're proof that I'm doing something right.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Own Office Fashion Show

At the beginning of the week, I saw this post on Liberating WM about Working with Style.  This is a regular topic for the LWM ladies, but in this post the author is a fellow HR professional, so of course I decided to check out her duds.  I was impressed by - and jealous of - her style.  My look tends to be a little different, so after mentally comparing the two, I decided to take a few of my own snapshots this week.  The lighting isn't very good, but you'll get the general idea.  It's my first week back in the office after the holidays and I was forced to give up my at home uniform of sweatshirt, yoga pants, Uggs and this super hawt hairstyle.

As a side note, there's no way that I would have taken fashion shots a year ago.  When I was heavier, I hid behind my clothes.  I wore lots of bulky suit jackets and roomy dresses with empire waists that in no way showed my silhouette.  Things are different now.  I feel more confident and I like buying clothes.

The challenge for my closet is that I work for a large corporation and the dress code is pretty conservative.  I don't mind the expected attire, but it does limit the fun I can have with fashion.  We're pretty much a suit and tie office M-Th and Friday is a sort of dress down day.  I get around this (to a certain extent) by wearing dresses.

I love dresses with a slight sixties flare and am having great luck finding peices in a few places.  The first is Boden.  I have to buy everything online because there's not a shop in my area, but it's worthwhile.  Their stuff ships super fast and is always great quality.  Best of all, they have almost everything in tall sizes.  Since I'm 5'8", I can't get away with regular length pants and dresses.  Boden has some great options for me.
* Above: Dress: Boden; navy blue tights and silver belt: Target; silver heels: J.Crew (circa 2006)

* Below: Dress: London Times from Macys; watch: vintage (my grandfather's); black tights: Target; shoes: Franco Sarto from Nordstrom (circa 2010)

The accessories I'm comfortable pushing the dress code limits with are shoes.  In my opinion, the higher the heel, the better.  For example, these heels are five inches, but really comfortable because of the platform.  I wouldn't run any marathons or carry my child in them, but for the office, they work. 
* Below: dress: Kohls; earrings: Target; necklace: Ann Taylor Loft; shoes: Nine West

Although I like my heels to be sky-high, I also look for more conservative options that are comfortable.  These red mary janes aren't really my style, but I decided to take a chance on them (thanks, Twitter feedback) and I think they're a win.
* Below: dress: Land's End (yay for clearance!); sweater tights: TJ Maxx; shoes: Kork Ease from Zappos; bag to drag my crap to/from work: Brighton (gift from my bestie)

As much as I love to wear dresses, there are days when I just can't pull that off.  Case in point, yesterday.  I had an interview with a reporter and needed to suit up.  It wasn't on-camera, but my general look for any video-recorded interview is a black suit with a bright shirt underneath.  It's boring, but looks good on film and doesn't call my credibility into question. 
* Below: suit: Ann Taylor; shirt: Express (circa 2005); basic black belt: Old Navy; patent leather mary janes (they have red heels!): Nine West from Macy's (circa 2008)

So, that's my week in clothing.  It's not easy to dress in a way that makes me feel stylish within the confines of my corporate culture, but generally, I feel like my clothes show my personality.  Happy shopping!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mamavation Monday Post #2

For those of you who don't know, I was invited to join the Mamavation Sistahood last week!  The last two weeks have been up and down, so I'm using my Mamavation Monday post (a day early) document the struggle.

For my family, the holiday season is ending today as we just finished the last of our winter travel.  I have to admit, the holidays have been a little harder than I anticipated.  I felt like I was doing well until these last few days and now…well, now I feel like a slug.
Two weeks ago, my mother visited and brought all kinds of delicious goodies with her.  There were homemade truffles, an apple cake, chocolate peanut butter cookies, a sticky toffee cake…you get the picture.  Sweets happen to be my biggest weakness.  I did really well with not overindulging in the goodies while she was here.  She also brought my favorite cheese ball and on the few days where I went over my MFP calorie goal, it was because I snacked on that.  To quote my mother, “That cheese ball is better than sex.”  Really, it is.  Anyway, I was good while she was here, but when she left, the cookies started to worry me.  I ate one, then another, then another.  I decided after a few cookies that I should chuck them since I was struggling with self-control.
So, with the cookies gone, I was in a much better place.  Then New Year’s Eve happened.  We had people over for dinner and I realized that I didn’t have a dessert to serve.  I made yummy coconut kiss macaroons…TO.DIE.FOR.  On New Year’s Day, I those started worrying me too.  I decided to pack the rest up and leave them in the car so I could give them to my grandmother, which worked well.   Out of sight, out of mind.
Finally, we traveled through Ohio to visit my beloved grandmother on Friday.  After way too many hours in the car (PA and OH are freakin’ huge states to drive across…I might as well have driven through Montana!) we arrived at my aunt and uncle’s home.  My aunt has limited mobility due to some hip issues and I didn’t realize how much that would limit my own physical activity.  Between hanging out with her and with my 85 year old grandmother, we didn’t move around too much.  I realized on Saturday night that I was in a completely foul mood and it hit me.  Exercise makes me happy.  Exercise helps me deal with the stress of parenting.  Exercise makes me a better person.  It has only been a few days, but OH MY GOD, I miss it!!
I’m home now and excited to hit the gym tonight.  I’m putting together my meal plan for the week and penciling in a couple of new workout moves.  For starters, I’m going to join the #PlankADay Revolution.  I’m trying to find an evening this week when my husband can pick up our child so that I can catch a hot yoga class.  I’m about to finish week 1 of the 100 Push Up Challenge that I’m doing with a few other Twitter mamas.  This is going to be a good week.  Just writing this post has improved my mood and my outlook.  I will no longer be a slug! J
Have a great week, folks!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Origin of "Subaru Mom"

I'm not the type of person to use the name of my car as my online identity, so I thought I'd share where I came up with this blog name as well as my Twitter handle, @subarumom09.

When I moved to Seattle in 2002, my first impression was that in order to become a Seattleite, you needed a North Face ski jacket and a Subaru Outback.  Despite the potential brand-snootiness, I was in love.  On my third day in the city - literally,  I went to a ski shop in Northgate and purchased the beloved powder blue coat that I still wear.  I instantly started to feel like I was ready to live in Seattle.  I know that material items aren't keys to living in any city, but the jacket helped ease me into the lifestyle.  I moved to the West Coast on my own and it was the beginning of my adult life.  Although I got the coat right away, I wasn't so quick to procure the Subaru.  In fact, I didn't buy the Subaru until I moved back east several years later.

In 2007, my husband and I decided that we needed to leave Seattle and move a little closer to home on the east coast.  As a result of moving to a city with less public transportation, we needed to buy a second car.  We immediately started looking at Subarus and fell in love.  We bought one a little before the birth of our daughter in 2009 and it has been great for our family.  We're in the market for another car and are close to pulling the trigger on another one. I totally buy into the "Love. It's what makes a Subaru, a Subaru" slogan.

Despite the adoration for my car, the real origin on "Subaru Mom" is from a novel I read recently, "Where'd You Go, Bernadette." There's a lot to like in this book and I identified with several aspects.  First, it's based in Seattle and takes many jabs at Microsoft's executives.  I've been around a handful of them in real life and found the book to be a dead-on depiction of my experiences in their presence. Also, early in the book, the author shares insights on elite private schools and the types of parents they attract.  The Galer Street School has too many "Subaru Parents" and wants to bring in more "Mercedes Parents."  When I read this particular passage, I ran downstairs to my husband who was cooking dinner (BTW, yay for a great husband!) and read it to him.  For background, you should know that my daughter attends a competitive independent school and even during the admission process, I noticed how these were the two classes of parents.  We're either slightly hipstery, granola-loving Subaru Forester/Outback or Honda CRV drivers, or Mercedes/Land Rover driving parents who wear Lululemon workout gear and simultaneously carrying $3,000 handbags.  Although I'm a member of the former group, I really enjoy interacting with all the parents at the school...I'm just aware of the differences.  Anyway, I poured through the book in a few hours because I was so excited to find something that I so closely experienced.  Hence, I decided to become "Subaru Mom."

Photo via Patricia Wall/The New York Times

I'm not a book reviewer, so I'm sharing the NY Times review for your reading pleasure.  Obviously, I highly recommend it. I just ordered Maria Semple's first novel, "This One Is Mine" and will let you know if it is as good.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mamavation Monday Post #1

I've been following #mamavation on Twitter for a while and love the sense of community.  I've used the topic hashtag a few times and am so impressed by the fact that (now former) strangers have instantly communicated and cheered me on.  It's a new year, so I've decided to pledge the Mamavation Sistahood so that I can continue to be encouraged by the community, but also so I can give back.  I'm a firm believer that if you put yourself out there on social media, you'll see a great return on the investment.  As a side note, I met my husband on; found my job on, made friends on MySpace and Facebook; and have hired people for my work team from Twitter.  The online world has been good to me.

About me...I'm 32 years old and live in the state of PA.  I'm happily married and have a 3.5 year old daughter, N.  I work full time as the director of an HR team.  I love my job and really love being a working mom.  I get stressed out by it all every now and then, but I don't think I could work inside the home.

A little over a year ago, I began a weight loss journey.  My goal was to lose the 25 pounds I packed on since moving to a new (less active) city and having a child.  A couple of months into the diet, I started using the MyFitnessPal app religiously to track my food and exercise and it worked!  In fact, I blew my 25 pound goal out of the water and lost a total of 40 pounds so I'm now the same size that I was before starting grad school (for some reason I gained 15 pounds while in school...probably because I didn't have time to work out!).  I've maintained my weight for about 8 months and have no intention of waining it back.  Here's the before and after pic.
Recently, I've become bored with my workouts.  I work out primarily at home, after my child, N, goes to bed.  We're lucky to have an elliptical and weight bench/rack in the house, so I don't have to go far to exercise.  I generally do 2.5-3.5 miles on the elliptical 3 times per week and incorporate upper body strength training into each cardio session.  I'm pretty strong and feel very fit.  After trying a couple of the Mamavation hazing workouts, I've realized that I need to work on my lower body and change up my routine.  I don't want to just hang out on the elliptical.  I don't want to just walk or jog...I want something that will challenge me.  I'm not a huge runner thanks to a high school knee injury.  I need people to share their workout ideas and motivate me to do something more than my normal, boring routine.  That's why I'm here.

I posted my resolutions yesterday.  Specific to the Mamavation community, I need your help with #3 - Focus on wellness, not just fitness.  Change my workout routine to include more yoga and strength training to help me feel calm and centered. 

I hope this will be the first of many Mamavation Monday posts and am exited to pledge the Sistahood!