Sunday, November 25, 2018

What happened when I joined a kickboxing studio

"Have you seen results?
my friend asked me when I ran into her in the Walmart parking lot.

I imagine she wanted to know if I'd lost weight, because that is how most people judge fitness. The scale. That dreaded scale! But there's so much more to fitness than just numbers: calories, macros, pounds, grams of protein, ounces of water. All the tracking, all the supplements.

True, because of the inBody scale at the fitness shop next to my kickboxing studio, I knew I had lost fat and gained some muscle so that made me happy, even though the net loss -- for all the face-value numbers people -- didn't seem like a big deal.

Most important to me was the amount of visceral fat I'd been carrying decreased. That is my KPI: the abdominal fat. Waistline fat is so unhealthy. I could just imagine it strangling my internal organs, suffocating them. I told my one-on-one coach the night I joined the studio that I had to do "something" because it was a matter of life and death.

I had only just turned 51. It might not have been the getting-hit-by-a-bus-while-crossing-the-street life and-death, but it was the long, sloooooooow, miserable decline-in-health, losing-quality-of-life resulting from heart disease, high blood pressure, and adult onset diabetes on your way to the grave life-and-death. This I envisioned was like sinking in quicksand: you might not realize you’re in too deep until it’s too late. No, thank you to all of that.

Also, no thank you to
  • Just giving up because I've reached a certain age, and "Why can't you just accept it?" 
  • "You look pretty good for a mom of three kids." (Because I want to look "pretty good" period. No qualifier.)

More than weight loss or appearance

The invisible benefits of working out are my strength and flexibility, positive mindset, and a supportive fitness community. 

There are little day-to-day things I can do now that I couldn't do before like look over my shoulder when backing down the driveway, carry heavy things (like the case of water I was holding when I ran into my friend at Walmart), and squat to look at things on a bottom shelf or cabinet.

Additionally, things don't stress me out as much as they might.
  • Dirty dishes in sink Jab cross!
  • Socks in the couch cushions Left uppercut!
  • Bad day at the office Right roundhouse!
It's way more fun to work out with other people with encouraging coaches. I am definitely not motivated to work out on my own. There has never been a day I left the kickboxing studio and regretted it. I schedule my day around kickboxing as much as possible. I still have hockey evals, baseball tryouts, college tours or admitted students days, in addition to a job and a household to run, but now I make the investment in myself to get to class as often as I can. It's not just about aesthetics; I'm cross-training for my sport, too...
...because here's the big thing: I started playing roller derby. (Yes, at my age.) This will be another whole story, but I figured why not? Kickboxing itself was big step outside of my comfort zone, and because of that, I feel like I can do almost anything. It is the first time I’ve been on a sports team since college. For years, I have been a fan for my kids and my husband (they all play organized sports). Now I have something for myself. Even though I have worked out on and off over the years, I wouldn't have considered myself a real athlete. Now I do.

That day in the Walmart parking lot, I told my friend, "Yeah, I've lost some weight but there's just so much more..."


Friday, November 23, 2018

Why I HATE video meetings

Have you ever startled yourself because you opened your phone and – oops! – left the camera in selfie mode? It’s an extremely unflattering angle. No doubt you’re looking down at your phone when you do this, which means you’re frowning over a double chin and your eyes look closed and/or you have resting bitch face.

That is among the top reasons I hate video meetings: I use a laptop so my webcam is capturing my image from almost the same awkward viewpoint.

I guess if I was going to just sit there immobile and stare into my webcam (optionally smiling), like some people (my manager, for example) seemingly do (I swear, on yesterday’s webcam I thought it was a still picture until I saw someone moving behind her), I could put my laptop on a stack of books so the webcam was at eye level and I was looking straight on.

Except still, when I look at my computer screen or at other meeting participants, it would still be about as unbecoming as taking a mirror selfie (in my opinion…because even if it’s a super-fox celebrity, they look like a narcissist, which is a total turn off…sorry to everyone who follows Kim, Kylie, and clan…this is MY opinion).

Recently someone sent me a Webex invitation for 8 a.m. Really dude?

Another time my manager asked me to join a video meeting, “just for the part I am presenting,” since she was going to be explaining to her new manager what our little team of five did, since we all work remotely, from home. Somehow, we ended up staying on the video meeting ALL DAY. Surprise!

As if that wasn’t dreadful enough, we had to do it again the next day.

I hadn’t planned for that, either.

Our new manager called me out for “sleeping” (I don’t know if I was just looking down or I had yawned or both) and for talking to someone in the next room (I had muted my phone but she could see that I was looking away from my laptop). OMG! I felt like I was in 5th grade the time I was accused of “clock watching.” Grrrrr!

Again, I hadn’t planned for this meeting!

I can see how video meetings might be okay for people as an alternative to traveling…for people who are already working in an office in business clothes. But for someone who works at home in sweatpants and a hoodie (with no makeup and Medusa hair) (and who realized during on video meeting around Easter time that the Christmas stockings were still on the mantel behind her desk chair), this is a step in the wrong direction and reason number two that I hate video meetings.

When I began working remotely for this company in 2006, my new manager suggested, “Hey, we should all get webcams!”

As my kids say text when they’re less than enthused, “Eh…”

I waited for someone else on the team of all women to tell him, “No, thank you.” And I have successfully steered clear from video meetings, until now.

Sure, I can get dressed up from the waist up and make sure everything behind me in my office area is seasonally appropriate, and try REALLY hard to look happily at the camera and keep my dogs out of the room, but…

…that means I have to sit there for the duration of the call.

I realized how much of a habit it has become to get up and walk around during meetings. Dialing the phone is my cue to get up and stretch my legs. Reason number three why I hate video meetings is that I am tethered to my desk. I can’t get up to get a coffee, get a snack, go to the bathroom, switch the laundry over, let the dogs in and out, or do any of the other things I do when I am “in a meeting,” including painting my nails.

I cannot multi-task.

If you’re typing, you’re not going to be looking at the webcam.

If you send email, chances are you’re sending it to the people you’re in a meeting with and they’ll see the timestamp.

You can’t look at your phone.

You can’t leave your desk. Though I did do that yesterday. I closed my webcam cover and walked away.

I couldn’t take it anymore.

I hate video meetings!

What are your thoughts about video meetings?

Monday, November 19, 2018

Seeing things for the first time

This is about the day my oldest saw things from my perspective, which is an essential step in developing empathy -- or in other words, not becoming an entitled, self-absorbed tween.

"But Mah-am! They’re not listening to me!" My oldest wailed.

His younger brothers had been goofing off all morning. I had put my oldest in charge of getting them moved along after I’d clicked the TV off with a grandiose flourish 20 minutes earlier.

I was tired of saying the same thing overandoverandoverandover:…

“Get dressed boys – we don’t want to be late for your brother’s basketball game!"…

in between serving them breakfast, reminding them to eat it (with their hands and not their feet in the case of my youngest), and admonishing them to use napkins instead of the furniture...

...and then, their rendering of “Who let the dogs out?” on percussion instruments.

We really had to go and my oldest hates being late.

"Now you know how I feel every morning when I ask you guys to 'get up, get going, get your spirit showing' " (which means get up, get dressed, eat, brush, and get out the door in time for the bus – my high school cheerleading skills have proven useful in adulthood).

"But this is important!"

"So is the school bus. So is being on time for church! So is everything I try to motivate you to do -- or not do!"

"But Mah-am!" He sputtered. There was nothing more he could say as the realization sunk in.

"Now you get it," I said to him, and then returned to the living room to help him prod his brothers along.

"Time's up, get off the couch, get moving. We can't be late for your brother's game."

"Thank you, mom," my oldest said, as I relieved him of his duty.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Mommy Brain. It's a thing.

Mommy brain is a real thingWhen my kids were babies, I left a pan of bottles boiling on the stove and didn’t remember it until mere moments before all the water had boiled off and the bottles began sticking to the pan. I wondered,

“What is wrong with me!?” “When did I become so absentminded and forgetful?”

There was nothing wrong.

I had way too much to think about and do.

I had “mommy brain.”

Back then it was all about keeping the go-bag filled with diapers, wipes, and other basic necessities; performing calculations regarding the likelihood of use versus do I really need to schlep all this stuff around; and remembering why I was packing the diaper bag in the first place (where were we going?).

Then there was packing lunches for daycare; unpacking – and probably wiping applesauce and crumbs out of – the lunch bags when they come home; cleaning the high chair (even under the seat pad) and the floor up to five times a day (and occasionally the wall, sliding glass door, and radiators); wiping down the stroller; cleaning out the bathtub; hanging up the towels; cleaning out the potty.

Bathing; brushing teeth; dressing babies. Sorting clothes…and so on, on top of my job and housework.

Did I just say housework? Haha. Who am I kidding? My job comes before housework. It was and still is mainly event-driven. Meaning if I have an event where people are going to come to my house, I clean it. I have worked full-time or more for the last 15 years.

I’d venture to guess all moms have mommy brain and learn to live with it.

Today mommy brain happens because I’m still the one that makes sure stuff just gets done, above and beyond waking people up on time when their alarms are blaring, making breakfasts and packing lunches, signing forms, and driving someone to hockey practice.

It means considering, noticing, and doing a lot of things that are invisible to others.

In our house, it means recalling that there are open windows when I hear the furnace kick on.

It’s realizing that we’re almost out of milk and thinking I better stop at the store on the way home from practice, and since I’m going to be at the store anyway, what else might we need? And even before we leave the house, letting the dogs out, because we might not be home for a while.

You can read more about this phenomenon in my Her View from Home post. Spoiler alert: I don’t do it without a white board.

You are not absent-minded or forgetful. There is nothing wrong with you. You have way more stuff to think about and do.

You have mommy brain.

And take comfort in the fact that you are not alone!

But no one will see it

I set up the nativity in the back yard again this year. In the past it has been out front near the fire hydrant that is on our property, and...