Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Insanity Workout: Part One

Because I'm an American woman, I don't have better things to worry about than the way I look and what I eat (and the relationship between the two).  Now, on the average day, I don't give it too much thought.  But every so often, for a variety of different reasons, I'll launch myself into I Will Get Thin And Fit mode.

And then I disengage in about 3 weeks.  Or 3 days.

Don't believe me?  Look, I've chronicled much of it here, here, here, here, and here.

[Ocular warning: Some of those links go back to my old blog, which is a bit of a color shock]

If you have neither the time nor the inclination to read up on old posts, let me summarize that my issues with losing weight are always owing to some combination of the following factors: I'm lazy, I'm busy, I'm tired, I'm cheap, and food is delicious.  That's all.  Otherwise I'd look like Kate Upton.  I swear it.

But anyway over the last couple of years I hadn't really thought much about it.  Then I got pregnant and really didn't think about it.  Then I had Oscar and lost nearly all of the my pregnancy weight in a matter of weeks.  And when it came to the remaining poundage, I took refuge in the "well, I just had a baby" excuse.  

Not that it's just an excuse.  I'm happy I have so much good stuff going on, but between the demands of a working full time, taking care of a baby, and maintaining the sort of household expected of adults, it's a wonder I manage to keep myself outfitted in clean underwear daily.  Never mind fitting in a quick 3 mile jog or preparing a wholesome meal of freshly steamed this and ginger marinated that.  [Whenever I see flawless, yoga-pants wearing MILFs in the produce section of Whole Foods I resist the urge to throw sweet potatoes at their smiling heads.]

It's no surprise that sometime in the hazy daze of the last 6 months, the scale started going back up the other direction.  Jeans got tighter.  Arms got flabbier.  I found myself saying and thinking the things I remember from Slim Fast commercials on TV when I was younger.  "I avoid cameras." "I see pictures of myself and can't believe it's me."  "I hate the way my clothes fit."

AND THEN one day I was in a gift shop looking at some trinket when a guy behind me said, "I already brought one of those to the register, sweetheart."  Puzzled, I spun around to find an embarrassed man who quickly explained, "I thought you were my daughter for a second.  So sorry!"  All was well and good until I spotted the man with said daughter minutes later.  She was a young woman I would've guessed had 50 to 75 pounds on me.  And he'd mistaken me for her.  From behind, no less.

Fortunately by the time that incident occurred I'd already ordered the Insanity workout system, used, from a seller on Amazon.  It was listed with the ominous description, "This was way too hard for me.  Good luck!" 

What is Insanity, you ask?  Only the latest fitness racket I've been suckered into.  Check out this video if you haven't seen the infomercial.

And if you haven't seen the infomercial, you must not be awake watching TV every morning at 6:30 like I am.  I think I sat through the full infomercial no less than fifteen times before  I finally broke down and ordered it. 

At the time of writing this, I'm in my third week of the program.  I'll give you my full report and week to week updates at the end of month one.  Will I lose twenty pounds?  Will I be offered a modeling contract?  Will I abandon all hope and use Disc 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit as a McFlurry coaster?  Stay tuned.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tiny Passengers

One of the least inspiring lessons I've learned as a new mother is that for some folks, behavior during air travel is how your parenting capabilities are measured.  It doesn't much matter that you have a happy, thriving child.  Can you keep that child's face-hole shut on a plane?

Earlier this month, Devin and I traveled eastward for some family time.  At 6 months old, it would be Oscar's first flight.  Of course I was nervous.  How could I not be?  I'd been on my fair share of flights with inconsolable babies.  I'd avoided making eye contact with the distressed mother as she paced the aisle of the cabin, bouncing and shushing her wailing bundle of joy.

Nobody likes a baby on a plane.  Babies sitting in supermarkets: delightful.  Babies on the beach: adorable.  Babies on planes: death stares.

I'm pleased to report, we did okay.

The first flight was a short burst from LA to Vegas.  He slept most of the time. And the time he was up, he smiled and did the cute-baby act.  The old woman sitting next to us was enamored and reminded us to get a picture of this important First.

During the short layover, he stayed in good spirits, amusing the group sitting across from us as the gate.  Though, we were in Vegas and they appeared to still be drunk so I think would've been amused by anything.

Oscar even wore his Syracuse shirt in honor of our trip
Later, he would have a massive poop-splosion and the shirt would arrive in Syracuse sealed in a plastic bag, buried in our carry on
When we seated ourselves (we were flying Southwest) on the second, longer flight from Vegas to Albany, we encountered our first real baby-on-plane haters.  We shuffled our way in to our seats, and were getting ourselves situated when the guy in front of us took a good look at who he was dealing with: a demon disguised as blue eyed 16-pounder, quietly and contentedly playing with a water bottle.  The horror!  He got his wife's attention, motioned toward us, and then they quickly got up and moved several rows back.

Here's where I learned another, better lesson as a new mom.  When people do stuff like this, you don't care.  If he didn't want to sit near us, fine.  Seeing as I had no idea what was in store, he may have had the right idea.  Who knows?

Eventually a very nice woman sat in the aisle seat of our row.  She didn't mind that she had to get up a dozen times as we made bathroom trips, or that Oscar kicked her in the arm when he was trying to get comfortable in my lap. 

By the way, I need to figure out the math on this, but somehow there is an effect of pressure, airspeed, or wing contour that causes a baby on a plane to triple in size for the duration of the flight. 

When we landed in Albany at 1am local time, a few of our fellow passengers commended us on doing such a good job and having such a good baby.  I wasn't sure how I felt about that kind if compliment, but I took it anyway.  And I sort of hoped the guy who switched seats overheard it.  So, okay, maybe I do care.  A little.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How To Make Pillowcases In Just 5 Short Months

Before Oscar was born I thought I was a very, very busy person.  Then after his arrival, I looked back on those times and thought, "What was the matter with me?  I had so much free time!"

On weekends, I don't want to do anything but snuggle Oscar to make up for time lost during the week at work.  As a result, those 2 days fly by with bills unpaid, floors unswept, and laundry unlaundered.  And craft projects... are you kidding?

And so it goes that I launched a mission to re-cover the couch's throw pillows in mid February, and did not revisit it until May.

Join me, if you will, on a journey back in time to when Oscar was just a wee little nugget that slept the whole day away, while his mom kept herself locked up in a dark and dusty apartment.
At one point, during what felt like Oscar's fortieth feeding of the day, I looked at the couch around me and realized I hated it.
A once comfy and practical sectional, it was now misshapen, stained, and smelly.   Unfortunately, buying a new couch just wasn't an option.   It was time to give the pillows a makeover.
I know they don't match.  How did I let this happen?
I'd actually been planning to do this for a while and had requested --and received--a brand new sewing machine for Christmas.  But then, stuff happened.  Like a new human.

Surveying the living room I decided it certainly wasn't lacking in brown.  Brown couch, brown rug, brown walls, brown coffee table, brown pillows.  What it could really use was some nice bright blue accents.

So I sped off to Joanne Fabrics for some material.  My mom was in town, and came along to help me assess my options.

We wound up with this trio.

Two soft and fuzzy fabrics, and one that was less so, but would spice things up. 

I found a step by step guide to making throw pillow covers.  I won't go into detail here with the exact steps, but I recommend checking out that link if you too have several months to spare on a sewing project. 

Before attempting step one, I needed to back up and do step zero: remember how to work a sewing machine.  Mom and I unpacked it from the box, looked over the instructions on threading the bobbin, selecting the stitch type and all that.  Oddly, though I hadn't done it in probably 10 years, it all came back to me.

Now I was off and running!  And then Oscar woke up...

The next day, I was off and running!

It took me seven hours to make the first pillowcase.  But there were a lot of stops and starts in my process.   Also, it took a bit more time because I wasn't half-assing it like the way I normally do things.  I wanted these to look presentable, so I did things properly, like ironing the edges where I'd hem or double hem.

When I removed the first pillow from its case I realized I'd been too kind with my assumption that the innards were "perfectly good."  Still, I was in it now, so it would have to do.


The design I was following didn't call for any fasteners to keep the case closed shut, but I think it was meant for nice full, firm pillows and not this cheap piece of shit pillow I was working with.  So there was a gross gap.

Hello, my name is Mr. Pillowface
Nothing a little iron-on velcro can't fix. 

Now we're talking.

The second pillowcase took about 45 minutes.  Clearly I had the hang of it, so I'd be able to bang out the next 5 or 6 in a couple days.

Then the rest of February, all of March and April, and half of May went by.  With friends coming over for cocktails one Friday, I had a burst of motivation and finished three more pillows.

And this brings us to July.  5 months later.  I still have 3 pillows to go.  But for the sake of this post let's just pretend all of the completed ones are in these After pictures.