Suddently it’s here, the last day of the year. I realize that everyone says this, but it amazes me how much time seems to speed up faster the older I get. It seems like it was JUST my last day of school, and now I’m already getting ready to start back again on Wednesday.
In between, we have been busy. We drove to Montana, which I’m realizing I don’t have time to write about right now. In summary, the girls did okay in the car, but it’s still much easier to drive when they’re sleeping, so we will either take two days to get there or travel at night when we make our trip this summer. We had a wonderful time in Montana and got to see a lot of our family and friends. Unfortunately since our trip was pretty short– we were there five days, not counting the traveling days– we missed seeing several people on this visit. Hopefully we can make up for that this summer. We drove back in one day, even though we didn’t plan on it. We stopped for dinner in Couer d’Alene, and Will decided it would be easier to just drive back while the girls were asleep instead of spending the night and finishing the drive the next day. So he stayed awake and drove us the rest of the way, and we got home around 11:30 that night.
Hopefully I’ll get a chance to write more about the trip later. But right now, I just want to take a minute to write a little about the year as a whole, especially since I didn’t write a Christmas letter this year.
The last couple of years for me have kind of had a theme. 2010 was the year of the marathon. We started increasing our running in January, began the training program in March, and finally ran the marathon in July. 2011 was the year of parenthood. The girls were born in April. I spent their first 5 months almost exclusively caring for them. And then I only worked part-time the rest of that year.
I’ve been thinking about 2012 and trying to figure out if there’s a good theme for this past year. Of course we’ve been busy with parenthood. And while that was still the “biggest” thing we’ve been doing, the biggest change is probably in our exercise and diet. So I’m dubbing 2012 as the year of getting back in shape.
I had to stop running during my pregnancy. My doctor very plainly said that running while pregnant with twins was NOT a good idea. So I stopped in November of 2010, and it was surprisingly easy to stop. I missed it, but I never had to “fight” the urge to go running. I guess part of me knew I’d get back to it eventually, so I tried not to worry about it too much. I didn’t know how long it would take me to get back to it, though.
I tried to run a little during the summer of 2011, but it was very difficult. The babies were too small for a jogging stroller, they weren’t sleeping consistently and rarely ever both at the same time, so it was hard to know when I would be able to get out and run for awhile. And it was hard to leave Will alone with both babies for very long since I was their solitary food source. Running while breastfeeding was also more trouble than it was worth. I either had to feed them (or pump) RIGHT before I left, otherwise it was just unpleasant. Then once I started working that fall, there just wasn’t time. If the girls did go to bed at night, I had work to do for school. And since I was at my pre-pregnancy weight (thought my body didn’t feel or look the same) it was easier to just NOT exercise, other than walking my dog, which I do credit to helping me stay in okay-shape until I was able to pick up exercising again.
My goal in 2012 was to start running again. We started out fairly well with a 5K in early February. My grandmother bought us a nice jogging stroller, so we were able to bring the girls with us on runs. We did a very slow 10K in the middle of March, with a mix of walking and running. It took us well over an hour, but at least we knew that distances like 6 miles were possible again.
Then we had a setback. The whole family got pretty sick during the month of March. We were supposed to do another race in early April. We even registered for it, but we were still recovering from being sick, so we ended up just skipping it. It took awhile to get back to exercising after that.
It was about May when I found myself really wanting to get started again, but not knowing how. The girls were going to bed at night at this point, but I had so much work for school to get done that I found the idea of losing a half-hour in the evenings to exercise (which anyone who exercises knows quickly turns into an hour when you factor in changing your clothes, warming up, cooling down, changing back again when you’re done, etc.) impossible. That is when my younger sister gave me some invaluable advice: start SMALL with something you can manage. She told me to set a small goal, like 10 minutes twice a week. While 10 minutes is not enough to make a HUGE difference, it is enough to get started, and it was way better than the 0 minutes I was then doing.
Setting this goal made all of the difference. During the evening when I found myself thinking that I didn’t have time, I was able to tell myself, “You do have 10 minutes.” I started running on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Sometimes it literally was only for 10 mintues, but most nights after doing that much, I was able to go farther. I would also try to run at least once on the weekends for longer, eventually 30 or 40 minutes, and some days I was able to make it running both Saturday and Sunday.
In June I started tracking my calories on MyFitnessPal. This is an awesome app available on smartphones. It also has an online component you can access from the internet, but I find I almost NEVER use it on the computer. At first I set my profile to give me the daily calorie allowance to maintain my weight. I figured if I could eat to maintain, then any calories I managed to burn through exercise would be a bonus, and even if it was slow, I would eventually lose weight. This did help me maintain my weight, especially as I gradually cut down on breastfeeding. I didn’t lose any weight, though, until I changed my daily calorie goal from maintaining to losing 1/2 pound a week. Something about seeing my numbers going into the red every time I exceeded my calorie goal really helped motivate me to stay under that limit. It also motivated me to exercise more since the more calories I burned, the more I was able to eat.
Slowly but steadily I dropped about 1/2 pound a week from July until November when I reached my goal weight. I am now 15 pounds lower than my “normal” prepregnancy weight and from my weight before I started really exercising again. I still have my daily calorie limit set to lose 1/2 pound a week, and I try to stay to this limit most days. Some days I end up going a little over, but I don’t worry about it unless I find myself starting to gain weight again. I’ve basically maintained my weight since November. (Although I did gain 1 pound over Christmas. Oops!) And other than two separate weeks in October when I didn’t fit in any exercise at all (other than walking the dog) I’ve basically managed to maintain a regular workout routine. I try to run at least 3 days a week and do strength training (via a Jillian Micheals DVD) at least two days a week, although sometimes I only fit in 1 day a week.
I am so happy to FINALLY be at the weight I want to be and to feel fit. I’m glad that my children won’t have to hear me say that I wish I weighed less or that I’m not happy with my body. I finally found a routine that works for me, and that I seem to be able to maintain, even when we’re really busy.
Now I’m thinking about fitness goals for 2013. Will and I want to run a half-marathon at some point. I know we will also want to do the local 10K again in March. Jillian Michaels also has a 3 month DVD series called Body Revolution that I would like to try to follow. I know from experience it’s hard for me to simultaneously increase my running and my strength training, though, so I think I need to focus on one goal at a time. I just need to decide which order to do them in.
I get excited even thinking about what we’ll do next. When I think about where I was at the end of last year, essentially not exercising at all, to where I am now, I can’t believe the difference. While there are still so many other areas of my life I want to work on (I haven’t put anything in our filing cabinet in the last year) this is one area where I started with small changes, and it’s ultimately made a huge difference.
I want to finish by thanking all of you who have read here, and who have encouraged me over the past year. Anytime things have been tough, so many of you have responded in an encouraging way. I’ve had family members like my sister, her husband, my parents, Will’s parents, my aunt, my uncle, and my cousins come and watch the girls so that Will and I can either get work done or so that we can enjoy some time together. I’ve had many others write encouraging comments or messages assuring me that I’m not alone in my struggles, and that things do get better as the kids get older or as I just get used to this new way of being. I’m so grateful for all of the help and support, and I thank every one of you who reads without judging and who helps me along the way. I wish you and your family all a very happy new year!