A Month of Good Habits

Very very soon, I’ll be taking a vacation. We haven’t had a vacation since June 2009, and a word of advice for anyone without kids who thinks maternity leave is like a vacation?

It. Is. Not.

I will tell you a not-so-secret: we’ve known about this trip since January, when I was all sorts of big and pregnant and barely able to pry my ass out of the car, much less walk a flight of stairs or even begin to imagine myself in a swimsuit. Because where we are going practically requires you to wear a swimsuit.

I didn’t care at the time, because of course I had bigger fish to fry, a tiny human to finish cooking in my womb.  My priorities were not wrapped up in judgment calls regarding my thighs protruding from a scrap of nylon and spandex Lycra. But I did make a small, quiet promise to myself that on top of all of the other reasons I had for getting myself back into shape, after months of not being able to move in the fashion I’d once loved so much and clearly took for granted, being comfortable in beach attire was as good as any.

I’ve never talked the numbers game here since making a concerted effort to lose the baby weight and get back into shape, but I suppose I will: After I had Abigail, and the requisite weight one loses in the immediate weeks was clearly wrapped up, I weighed 180 pounds.

Right now, I weigh 156. From May 8 to November 1, I’ve lost 24 pounds, most of it coming off when I started Weight Watchers in July, which seemed to coincide when my cycles regulated again. It is what it is, and I accomplished two main goals: I now fit into all of my pre-baby clothes and I’m not worried about being on a beach for my vacation.

The other night, I started to feel the pull to do something drastic in these the final weeks before we head out for sunny shores. This is what happens when you’re still trying to reign in impulses of an old way of thinking, one formed out of years of crash diets and an inability to maintain a healthy equilibrium during times that don’t include the near-prospect of a few days of sun and swim-up bars. You think of how you can get rich quick, sprint during the last few tenths of the race, lose 20 pounds in a month.

I brought myself back to down to earth. Shut down that binge diet thinking immediately.

At the rate I’m going, I suspect I’ll lose another five or six pounds by the time we go on vacation. Even if I attempted drastic weight loss, it’s not going to make me feel more or less confident than I do now. And does it really matter anyway?  I’d only be hungry and cranky. And with a daughter whose well-being means the world to me, I’m not interested in her even getting an instinctual whiff of me revisiting old unhealthy habits.

But it did get me thinking about a new challenge.

There are a slew of habits that in the past couple of weeks have taken a backseat – taking all of my vitamins, skimping out on sleep, eschewing making an extra vegetable (or any at all) for dinner, sleeping in and putting off my workouts because I didn’t get to bed in time. And wouldn’t a renewed commitment to my health be a better thing to focus on in November?

So this month, I’m pledging to do the following:

1) Take all of my vitamins. I take a prenatal, Vitamin B complex, acidophilus probiotics, Fish Oil and calcium supplements. Because the calcium supplements are made of dark chocolate, you can guess which ones in this list always make their way down my gullet.

2) Work out in the morning. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but the only excuse for this should be my child up in the middle of the night. Other than that, sticking to the intended morning schedule never ceases to get the day off on the right note.

3) Go to bed. There are times where I can get away with a little later bedtime, but it’s never a good idea with a baby in the house. So with the rare exception of those nights – those that don’t proceed a morning without a schedule workout and a later work start – I need to be upstairs in my bed at 9:30 p.m., at the latest.

4) Vegetables with meals. This is the time of casseroles and stews, and yes there are always veggies in them but it’s probably not a substitute for something with a bit more punch.

5)  More water at home. I drink water all day long at work. At home, on weekends especially, it’s coffee and the one Diet Coke I allow myself a week. It’s shameful, really.

6.) Stretch. As I said before, I’m awful about this. This morning after my run, I stayed put in front of my house to stretch long and well. I need to keep this up.

So that’s it. I think there is a competitive side of me that always feels the need to have some goal to reach and achieve. But there also exists a place where I have to do battle with old demons and turn lemons into lemonade. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made in these months. I’m honestly as healthy as I’ve been in a couple of years, there’s no need to derail that because somewhere deep inside resides this voice that still longs to be heard, that belongs to a person who believes that somehow a number on a scale will translate into a better vacation.

I’m here to tell you: I’m going with a group of people who love me unconditionally and aren’t going to somehow have less fun with me if there is more of me in a swimsuit. They’d drink and dance and laugh with me, even if I hadn’t already lost 20 pounds this year.

It’s good to take stock in that fact. Such truths keep the old voices at bay, and help me to channel that energy into better habits that contribute to a more present, healthier mom, wife, coworker and friend.