Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Am I liberated woman or not?

This has nothing to do with weight loss, but this is stolen from a conversation I have going on with a couple of friends.

It all started with us talking about planning a Halloween party. We truly are three women all giddy talking about planning a party. We all love to throw parties, and we get all excited about cooking, planning, etc.  We asked ourselves, "should we make this a party where people bring Halloween type food?" and then had to ask, "or is it that we are just crazy people that like such things and most other families will not like that idea of having to think of "halloween" food?

That then branched off into women's roles... are we liberated women because we like to cook and plan parties and do domestic things? Or are we slaves to societal expectations of women being the nuturers and caregivers?

To me, it's all about this: is it a choice I'm making or is it about an expectation of me? For me it's choice. I choice to cook and do things for my family. My husband doesn't expect it from me (the home cooking and homemade bread, etc). I like to do it because it makes me feel good to do it and to give such things to my family. And I was a stay at home mom for years - I choice that path. No one forced it on me. But does that make me a throw back to another generation? I don't think it does, because it's more complicated than it seems.

So, here's what I was writing to a friend about how I had to make a choice - family versus career:

When my older son was about 2 years old, I was working full time, trying to juggle being the mom I wanted to be, the wife I wanted to be with the employee I wanted to be. Before I had kids, I was a go-getter at work. I worked hard. I pushed myself and I had drive.  But then I became a mom. The first year I stayed home with him (while going to grad school at night and weekends when my husband would watch the baby 3 nights a week while I went to class - bringing him to me in between classes on Wednesday nights so I could nurse him as he refused to take the bottle - ah, fun times).  

Anyway back to when my son was 2... I was killing myself with commuting, working, trying to be a good mom, spouse. I remember one night just bawling and bawling to my husband - who was deep in a very vigorous PhD program at the top business school in the world. It was so vigorous, that anyone who was a significant other were called PhD widows as there simply wasn't time for family/dating/fun in the first two years of that program. People were amazed that his marriage didn't fall apart as all the other relationships of couples in that program did fall apart (and that was the most difficult time in our marriage). He basically wasn't there because he couldn't be there and I understood that - it was an investment in our future, so I sucked it up not that I didn't have times of great self-pity and have periods of feeling resentful. I am no saint.

Now, what if he were a married woman with a child in that program? And I took note that there were no married women with children in the program. A couple years later there was a pregnant woman. She dropped out of the program after her child was born - it was just too much. Men don't have to make those difficult decisions (or as often) and while I could say it's societal, I dont think it is. I think women, as nuturers by nature, struggle harder with the feeling of neglecting their family for other commitments. Men aren't as nuturing, so they don't feel the guilt pangs of leaving their child for 12 hours a day (or more).

So, one night I was bawling and bawling...I looked at the people in university administration that were higher up than me. They were single women - no kids. Or, married men with stay at home wives. Or, in the two cases that there were women; one had a nervous breakdown, was hospitalized for exhaustion, and eventually she resigned her position. The other got married at 40, had a baby at 41 and another at 46. When she had the surprise baby at 46, she volunteered for a demotion so she could have more time with her family. Family and career? Didn't seem possible.

It was then that I realized that every woman had lied to me whenever they told me I could have the career I wanted and have the family life I wanted.THEY LIED TO ME... or they were delusional. 

I realized then and there that I had to make a choice. I could go for the career I wanted or be the parent I wanted, but I couldn't have both. In the end, I chose being the parent I wanted to be because I could always go back to a career and rebuild. I couldn't redo parenting. Plus, in a job, I could and would be replaced - I had experienced that before - no employee is irreplaceable, no matter how good they are. I was not replaceable as a mother. 

From then on, I had somewhat of an inner peace. I worked and still gave a lot, but I didn't kill myself. I didn't put in the tons of extra hours that were required for moving up in the field. I would just stay where I was, holding steady, until my kids got older and I could the think about career again. Then, when we moved and my husband was only staying one year as a visiting professor, I decided to stay home. That year was blissful for all of us. Then, we moved to Virginia and I started looking, but I got pregnant immediately and then, well... looking for a job while pregnant? And then asking to quit? Then we decided I should stay home for awhile and then we kept deciding on delaying my re-entry into the work force. My career opportunities shriveled up, but I would make the same decisions again. And now I'm in the rebuilding my career phase again now that the kids are older.

So, perhaps I'm old school and not liberated, but I chose my path and would choose it again. Am I a perfect mother because of staying at home? Of course not. I am not the mother I want to be, but I'm closer to what I wanted to be than I was as a working more. I did do the working full time and parenting full time for 6 years when my oldest child was little. Those were some very, very tough years. He was so much happier when I stayed at home. I had time for him and his activities and life was just more relaxed.

Now that I am going back to work - easing myself back into it, we are already feeling the shift of priorities. I have less time to make homemade bread. My house is a wreck, I'm behind in taking my car in for a tune up and it's getting more difficult to squeeze in time for fitness. I've pulled leftovers out of the freezer twice this week too.

Working full time and parenting full time is no joke. It really is very, very difficult to balance both and my hats are off to all parents who do it and do it well. For me, I just found it easier to give up the career for awhile, but I have to say, I'm also itching for a career again. I love work, so dipping my feet in with both thee part-time jobs has re-awoken that desire in me to contribute to the world in the work environment too. And with a family that is growing up (kids are 16 and 7), I don't feel as guilty about working. I have given my best to them for a decade.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My appointment with the physical therapist

As you may or may not recall, in April I hurt my shoulder. It wasn't during a class or while doing landscaping. No, it was while I was at the grocery store and pulling a cart. This cart is the one that can pull behind the bicycle. It was filled with food and when I went to pull it, I didn't realize I had it turned around backwards, so I yanked it the wrong way and that wrenched my shoulder back in a wrong way.

It hurt pretty bad that day and led to migraine headaches and muscle strain in my shoulder and neck. That's when I stopped going to body pump for awhile.

The pain got better and it got to the point that it only ached here and there. When I pull on a door sometimes. When I sleep and put my arms over my head, it will wake me up from the discomfort.

I started doing landscaping in the yard and it didn't bug it and this later summer I started back up with body pump and it didn't hurt it. Yet, I would still have this ache in certain movements (none of which I ever do in weights class).

My husband convinced me it was time to call a physical therapist, so I did. That appointment was on Monday. The PT first took the history of what happened, and then he started doing a series of tests. He examined my posture, my flexibility, my range of motion, my balance and my strength. If anything hurt or ached, I was to let him know.

In the end, I was proud to hear that I was strong and he could tell I was active. All in all my range of motion, flexibility, strength, balance are all very good and stable. My posture though needs some tweaking and that was probably what led to the injury.

The shoulders round more forward than they should and the shoulder blade sticks out in the back more than they should (and I know that my posture has gotten better, but 20 months of being active doesn't undo decades of not being active). This, over time, has led to an imbalance in my muscles - I'm too tight in front and not strong enough in back - it is priming my shoulder for an injury as it can't rotate normally. Both shoulders and it's probably causing some impingement issues.

Then, I did have that injury. What I also found is that a lot of the other problems I sometimes get - tingling in the right pinky, carpel tunnel liking pains in the forearm are all caused by the shoulder problem. Basically, my nerve is impinged is part of the problem, but when I wrenched my shoulder I injured one of the heads of the biceps which runs through the same path as the nerve and since that opening is already being squeezed wrongly, that biceps head hasn't had a chance to heal. Lastly, there is a possibility of a tear in my lakrum. That can only be discovered with an MRI. If it's bad, it might need surgery, but it is probably small if it is there at all. We'll see soon enough.

All this time my shoulder had only ached dully. However, after all those simple tests, my shoulder aches a lot. I did body pump tonight and found that it was aching more than usually and my forearm was aching more than usually - all that arm is just 'off', so going to the PT in the short run, stirred things up that were somewhat dormant.

Here's hoping things get better! For now I can keep doing what I'm doing for fitness and I'll be doing PT twice a week. I'm starting with some stretching exercises for the shoulders to correct my posture. And let me tell you, my back muscles are FEELING it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Just fun, frivolous stuff

I'm glad I have a busy life. I'm a happier person when I have a busy life, but we can slow down a bit, OK? Geez...

Anyway... lots of little stuff - some of it trivial, some of it ponderings, but it's about my day on Sunday and my thoughts.

First,  I didn't post at all yesterday as I was out and about from 9 am until 10:30 pm. Then I was just wiped out.

So my day yesterday... Sundays I always go into Virginia for Sunday School where I teach. That usually means that I leave the house around 9:15-9:30 am and we get back home around 2:30- 3:00 pm or so because we usually stop at Whole Foods on the way home.

This Sunday, there was another meeting at 6 pm that I wanted to go to. It didn't make sense to drive home 45 minutes and then to drive back an hour just so that I could spend 3 hours at home. So, I just stayed in Virginia and hung out for a few hours - alone, no kids, nowhere to rush off to. Ah!!!!

So, after Whole Foods (where I sent my husband and younger son off with the other car), I decided to go to a posh mall nearby. I wanted to go to a particular kitchen store as I hadn't been there for a long time and I really like kitchen shops and another favorite fun store.

I parked the car outside of Neiman Marcus, so that meant I had to walk through the store to get to the rest of the mall. I entered on the second floor from the parking lot. I entered near where they have the handbags. It's beautifully arranged with each handbag in a little spot light. There's a Prada section, a Fendi section, and I walked down the middle near the Jimmy Choo bags. $3000 handbags are commonplace there.

I had to go down the escalator to get to the main level. At the bottom they have their Christmas area set up. Yes, they do. it was September 30th folks - a day before the start of the month of October -  and the Christmas stuff was up. I walked by a pretty wreath - $180.

I then had to walk by the ladies dresses. They were pretty and again, there aren't tons of things, just a few highlighted items. There was a sales rack in the middle. Every day/business dresses were on sale for $400. I saw a really pretty dress in the regular section. Their sizing is European. They had a 44 which is the same as a 8 in US sizes. I had no intention of buying it, but I thought, what the heck. let me try it. I asked a sales lady for help (as changing rooms are individual rooms that are locked). She opened the door to the changing room that had a huge lighted 3 sided mirror, a comfy chair to sit on and tons of space. I was asked if I would like some water while I tried it on... Um, no. Made me glad that I was still all dressed up in my better clothes. If I went in my mommy clothes, maybe they would have just laughed at me and not let me try it on. (Kidding). I just would have felt sillier.

I tried on the dress and it was cute - artsy and fun and it fit (though not with the bra I had on). Tempted to buy it? No. I was not going to spend $895 on a M. Missoni dress. But I saw vanity sizing hasn't skipped the top designers either.

That was enough of that store - onwards! I didn't go into any other major stores, but take a look at the directory. Sure, they have a Macy's. It's not the typical Macy's. This is the posh, super high end stuff you don't see in the typical Macy's. I'm telling you - the only people who can buy in these stores are the "once in a life time I'm going to splurge" kind of people and the super rich. You know, the Ann Romney types. An outfit - shoes, dress, handbag would cost between $2000-$5000.

Yet, there is an entire mall like this. And it's not like this is the only mall like this in the DC area. So, there are other posh places too - for the super rich. Seriously, if you are that rich, why not just have your clothes custom made? Why go to a mall? It was bizzarro!

So, I went to my little kitchen shop (also browsed through Williams Sonoma) and found the stuff I was looking for - gems in the clearance section. I got a Kugelopf pan. Yes, they are different than bundt pans for cheaper than I can get elsewhere, a mixer blade for my mixer (cheaper at SLT and those by KA), and finally, this little jobbie, Kwik de Buyer Piston Funnel. No idea what I'll use it for yet, but it was out of box and way cheap, so I got it. Spent about $60 on fun stuff for me that will last forever and ever, unlike a dress I'll wear once or twice and that's it.

Then, I went up to one of my favorite stores. I love Anthropologie. I never allow myself to look and to be tempted by their regularly priced items. They are simply pricey - too pricey for my blood, but probably one of the cheaper stores in that mall. But I love the vintage, kitchy feel to it. They do, however, have great, great sales. The only things I've ever bought from there though are home items. I have a couple blankets, a few hand towels, that fabulous cake stand I adore, and a book or two. I have never, ever been able to wear anything from there.

Last January, when I gained all that holiday weight, I went to their store and I couldn't fit anything. Not only was I too tubby, but I have boobs. I think that store is for the tall and thin with small frames. I still love it though and hoped one day to have something from that store as I would have never imagined I would ever be able to wear something from that. it's like the "dream" store... which also means I dream of having a different body type than the one I have - grass is always greener?

So, this time, even though I'm not back down to my all time low, I decided to take a peak at their sales rack. I did see a really cute overalls jumpsuit. Not something I'm usually drawn too, but it was cute. They had only two sizes in the store - a size 0 and a 10. Well, my experience with Anthropologie is that their sizes run small, but I thought I would try it - what the heck.

I got into the room and find myself almost able to wear the ten - if I didn't have to breathe and if skin tight was my style. I could see it would be really fun and cute though. But, for $70, it wasn't that cute and it didn't fit.

After that I walked back out of the mall and drove closer to where the meeting was going to be held. I found the Barnes and Noble and hung out there for the last couple hours. I love bookstores. I walked out of there with a couple of Halloween books for my 7 year old. Yep... might have only been away from the kid for a couple hours, but I thought about him. Got the classic Charlie Brown story, and a nice one about the circle of life with the pumpkin (yes, I'm a bit granola-like). Oh, and a Halloween activity book. Man, he LOVES that thing!

So, kitchen stuff for me and books for the little guy. For a day out, spending under $100 bucks (no food or drink) isn't too bad. If my spouse complains, I'll go and buy that $895 dress that I'll be able to wear a few times and that's it.

Then, I went to the meeting, which was great, drove home and on the way home, I got to thinking about that jumper. Dang it... that jumper is denim. That jumper might be the thing I should be trying to fit into by the end of this Rock Your Jeans event. Silly me... I could zip it up. It would be a challenge and I would look so good in that outfit once I was fit and trimmer. Darn it, Melissa! Why didn't I think of that then! I don't live near an Anthropologie store!

Last night I looked it up online and yes, they have it in the online store, but not in a size 10 or 12 or 14. Ugh... Then I got another brilliant idea. I had to take my son to speech therapy today in Baltimore - they have a couple stores around there. Maybe, maybe one would have it there? So, this morning I decided to look up the number to the store. When I went online to find the number, I typed in the number on my phone and then went to the page of the overall/jumper so I could tell her what I was looking for. My heart jumped as I saw that the price was reduced again. It was $39 now. That would be great if I could find it, but now it was also more likely to be gone.

I called the store and asked if they had the overalls in a 10 or 12. She looked and they had them in a 10, not a 12. I asked her to hold them for me. After my son's speech therapy, I drove the 7 miles over there. And here, again, is another HUGE mall and lots of posh stores sprinkled with more normal upper end stores. I had no time to look, but man... good thing I never go mall shopping. I could get in serious trouble - another Sur La Table store, a Williams Sonoma, a Pottery Barn! Eeeek! All dangerous places for me. This "clothing" thing is a new thing for me as shopping for clothes has gotten fun after eons of it being pure hell and demoralizing.

Anyway, I went to the store and went back to the sales rack. They had a bunch of them in the store and they had the 10 and the 12. How did the sales lady not see the 12? Do I go for the ultimate challenge of the 10? TIGHT? Or do I go with the one that is pretty close to fitting perfect now? I wouldn't ever wear it as a overalls without a shirt... which should it be? I chickened out and bought the one that fits me close to perfect now (and it is cute). I figured... I can always take it in if it gets baggy, but I just didn't have the faith, in the end, that I would skinny down enough to be able to wear the 10 at any point and then I would have wasted the $41 after tax. Wanna see it? Here (Don't tell me it won't look cute with a shirt, because too bad - that's how I'll be wearing it!) While I was looking online, I also saw this. Now come on - a $350 Levi's overalls? huh? Even when that goes on major sale it will still be about $100 and still way overpriced.

But back to the size 12 instead of the size 10... did I wimp out on getting the 12 after all? Am I selling myself short on getting that much smaller? It's just hard for me to imagine myself getting much smaller just with more work on strength training with a personal trainer. Can't tell if it's that I have too little faith in myself or that I'm just being realistic.

Phew... I was long-winded today and now you know even better than my spouse does what I bought yesterday and today. Now... no more shopping!

And that darn scale has been creeping up on me - HATE that.. but it's water - hormones are at it again. But I fulfilled a dream today! I bought an outfit from Anthropologie and it wasn't even in their biggest size - even though I did wimp out and got the 12 instead of the 10.

Highest weight: 275  Now: 175