DAY SEVENTEEN


cooking

Normally on St. Patrick’s Day, I am eating corned beef and cabbage. There has hardly been a year that I can remember when I didn’t enjoy that holiday meal. Throw in some Irish soda bread and I am a happy camper. This year, I didn’t even realize it was St. Patrick’s Day until I was in the car listening to the radio later in the day and they were talking about the crowds in New York City at the parade. It simply slipped off my radar. And, yes, this was the year without my corned beef. I didn’t even miss it.

What I consumed:

  • Cleanse Shake with strawberries, bananas and pineapple
  • Broiled salmon with mustard, lemon, olive oil, basil
  • Quinoa with roasted butternut squash and green onion
  • Sliced Orange
  • 19 gigantic supplement capsules
  • 64 oz water

This is the second time this week that my lunch was so filling that I didn’t have an appetite for dinner. I did cook up some tuna steaks to save for tomorrow. I am learning to love lemon – especially with fish!

How I felt:

I doubled up on the ambien again last night to help me sleep and it worked like a charm. I am going to back it down to one after last night because I woke up really groggy which slowed me down a bit in the morning. My hope is that having a few nights of solid sleep will get me back into a better pattern.  We’ll see. Otherwise, I feel great! I’m like the energizer bunny and seem to be able to get more done in a day than I used to be able to do in a week, which is very welcomed.

Physical Activity:

I had the best workout I have had in a very long time this morning. My friend joined me at the gym and he and I did a really fun core routine that I made up for us. I spent 57 minutes on the elliptical (broken into two segments – 40 minutes before core workout and 17 minutes afterwards). We then did a routine lasting one minute for each cycle that included: paired crunches passing an 8.5 lb. medicine ball including twists for the obliques, squats with 5 lb. weights, 30 second planks and 30 seconds of push-ups. We did that circuit twice (mostly because my friend hasn’t been to the gym in a while and he needed to stop – I would have done two more sets). Then I did a machines focusing on my shoulders and triceps. And then back to elliptical. I felt amazing afterwards and truly could have stayed at the gym for another 2 hours. I love paired workouts like that but I don’t often have a buddy at the gym with me so I usually have to do them myself.  I am now committed to creating a good circuit workout for myself! I will note, however, that by 8pm tonight, my body was really hurting, which actually felt great.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t really cook. I have been fortunate enough to be married to a man who loves to cook and does it well. Before my kids were born and I was juggling motherhood with my commute into Manhattan, I did a bit more of the cooking in our house but never fancied myself a good or adventurous cook. My repertoire was relatively limited to a few dishes and, now and again, I would experiment with recipes I would find.  Generally my big cooking was relegated to holidays and celebrations when I found myself motivated to tackle different dishes. When I first met my husband, in the very early days of us dating, I did make him a romantic dinner in my apartment and pulled out all the stops. He claims to have enjoyed it but it was the beginning of the relationship, the times when we aren’t always as truthful because we have ulterior motives. I don’t hate cooking but, over the years, I have found it more burdensome and time consuming, and my lack of ingenuity when it comes to pulling meals together has kept me away from the kitchen for a long time. On the other hand, I do love to bake. Here again, I have my staples that I make again and again but I love to experiment with baking and feel a bit more confident about my abilities because there are far fewer complexities (in my opinion, anyway) to baking than with cooking, in general. My best friend always teases me because I tend to follow baking recipes a bit loosely, not perfectly measuring everything out. I make it work though.

As I prepare myself for life after the cleanse, I have been trying to gear myself up for some cooking. Because I know some of what I might be eating will be strictly for me and different than what the rest of the family will be eating, I need to start being able to prepare my own dishes.  I’ve done a bit of cooking during the cleanse, creating a yummy lentil soup, trying out some sauces and dressings and getting more adept at cooking fish – something that has always eluded me. Today I spent some time on Pinterest looking for healthy recipes using ingredients that will be part of my post-cleanse life. I’m actually excited about the idea of cooking and having more control over what goes into my body. As the landscape expands and more foods are available to me, I am looking forward to trying out some new foods that never interested me before. As much as I love quinoa, for instance, I have never ventured beyond substituting it for rice. Today I found recipes for muffins and pancakes and oatmeal-like dishes – ways in which I never would have dreamed using it. It may sound silly and naive but I simply never thought that much about food before.  I just ate the things I knew tasted good and kept my diet pretty simple – albeit not entirely healthy.

I hoped at the beginning that 21 days would help to form new habits for me and, no doubt, it has. I still have four days left but I can already see such remarkable differences. I would have never believed it if you told me that I would feel this way in such a short time but now I am a believer!

DAY FOURTEEN


parenting

Wow!  Two weeks down and just one more to go. If it were not for this blog, I think I would have lost count of the days. I’m experiencing a new normal and am finding it easier and easier to adapt to this lifestyle. That’s not to say that I am not getting tested regularly like today when I was at Target and walking through the food section, wanting to buy nuts and chips and ice cream and all kinds of other tempting goodies. And then when I picked my son up from lunch with his friends and he got into the car with his leftover pizza. And again when we ordered Chinese food for dinner and I happily ate my steamed chicken and vegetables but longingly eyed up the fried rice and egg rolls that sat on the table. But I endured and, at the end of today, I will continue to feel really good about my choices.

What I consumed:

  • Cleanse Shake with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
  • Lentil soup
  • 20 carrots
  • 2 clementines
  • Steamed chicken and vegetables
  • 19 gigantic supplement capsules
  • 64 oz water

How I felt:

I’m having some new sleep challenges. I seem to be dreaming a lot more and am waking up in the middle of the night, startled from sleep. I continue to take Ambien to sleep at night and am wondering if it is time to take a break for a while and see what my natural sleep pattern is. As a result, I am getting a bit more tired during the day and, today, I fell asleep at 5pm after struggling to keep my eyes open. It is not normal for me to take a nap during the day but my sleep pattern is leaving me a bit weary during the day. Otherwise, I feel great. Physically, I feel one million times better than I did just two weeks ago. Apparently, the cleanse is having some really positive side effects. I went to get my haircut today and when my hair stylist touched my hair she asked me if I am doing something different. I had been noticing that the texture of my hair was changing from its typical fine and flyaway to a little more dense and textured. It was great to have her reinforce the positive changes I have made with my health!

Physical Activity:

45 minutes on the elliptical. I had a short window of time to get to the gym this morning so I was able to squeeze in an abbreviated workout. I guess something is better than nothing. I feel like I ended the day in the plus column.

If I had to pick a theme for today, it would be parenthood. Certainly one of the defining aspects of my life is my role as a mother. Some days I get caught up in all the drama around my own angst and the stresses of work that I forget about my role as a parent. Even though I am parenting every day, I am not always as present and intentional as I would like. I definitely get distracted. Then I have days like today where my skills are put to the test. I have been the parent of a teenager for two years now and I can attest to the fact that this is the hardest job I have ever had and probably ever will have. Managing the delicate balancing act of trying to allow my son to gain his freedom and making sure he is safe and healthy is tremendously difficult and often quite scary.

I love being a parent and am grateful for the opportunity to raise two sons. I learned very quickly what my mother never caught on to, which is that your children have the power to fill you with more happiness and contentment than anything else you could ever experience. There is nothing that parallels the depth of joy that comes from loving your children. As much as I fantasize about the freedom that comes with being childless, there is not a universe in which I would trade being a parent for any other lifestyle. And, at the same time, I recognize that parenthood raises the stakes on everything else in my life. Every challenge I face is exacerbated by the fact that I have children to consider when making decisions. I cannot be impulsive and I always have to factor in the impact of my life choices on my children. My job is to raise happy, well-adjusted and healthy children and nothing can trump that.

Today, after my haircut, my son asked if he could go with me to Target with some of his friends. I agreed, grateful for some face time with him and some exposure to his friends. Despite the fact that we live in the same house and sit down to dinner nearly every night together, I don’t get to spend a great deal of time with my son. When he is home, he is either in the basement playing xbox or, more frequently, in his room with his door closed, skyping with his friends or listening to music. I grab any opportunity I can to spend time with him and observe him. At 14, I recognize that there is a lot going through his maturing mind and it is rare that he divulges his deeper thoughts. Whereas my 11 year-old son will come and sit with me and still share some of his musings,my teenager is locked down and strategically chooses what he shares. I feel fortunate because he is sharing anything with me and I credit me and my husband for our steadfast commitment to forcing an open line of communication.

My son usually only texts me when he needs something and today was no exception. While I was at the hair salon, my phone was constantly buzzing with requests for money, pick up times, additions to his gaggle of pals joining us on our Target excursion. Nowhere to be found was a please or thank you – just a lot of entitlement. Of course, when I needed to communicate with him, I got radio silence in return. As I was circling the block several times while waiting for him and his friends to finish up with their lunch, I wondered if I am too accommodating to my son and if I should be less agreeable to his requests. Here again, it is a fine balance as I don’t want to be the parent who is always saying no but I also don’t want to be the parent who is always saying YES. Setting boundaries with your kids is critical and extremely complicated. My son happens to be a child who always required structure and guardrails to help him navigate through his life so I am particularly sensitive to make sure that I do not give him too much latitude. He gets uncomfortable when he sees his friends behaving badly because their parents are too liberal with the rules. He asserted his need for rules and regulations as a preschooler when he regularly reported the class offenders and was labeled “class cop.” I adore this about my son and, simultaneously, struggle to make sure I am parenting him appropriately. Since I don’t have any kinds of role models when it comes to being a parent, everything needs to be learned. Of course, all parents, no matter how much support or guidance they might receive, have to learn for themselves how to be an effective parent for their own children (no, they do not come with manuals). For me, I lacked a lot of instincts and tend to question myself a lot more than I would prefer. I’m never quite sure if my approach is right but I tend to just go with it and hope for the best outcome.

After chauffeuring my son and his friends and managing to keep an appropriate distance while shopping at Target, I dropped the group at one of the other kids’ homes and left him there for the afternoon. Later, when he returned home and we were eating dinner, I could tell he was frustrated. We poked and prodded a bit and he confessed that he was getting a lot of pressure from his friends to smoke pot but was staying true to his commitment to not do so. I could tell how disheartened he was and, while he was resolute in his decision, he was feeling worn down and turned off by the growing number of friends succumbing. I am no longer shocked when my son talks about his friends smoking pot because it has been going on for a while and I know it’s become very commonplace amongst some middle schoolers and lots of kids in the high school. He has been very candid with us about his feelings around smoking of any kind and, because we have agreed to not intervene with the other kids, he has felt comfortable sharing who the offenders are. And, here again I am tested because I need to maintain my son’s trust so he will continue to share with us but I wonder if I should be sharing what I know with the other children’s parents. My commitment needs to be to my child and I also feel like I have a responsibility to the community of parents.

After the pot discussion, my son shared a video that the older brother of one his friends made. It was a rap video strewn with girls’ naked asses, kids smoking pot, drinking and making vulgar references to women. I am, by no means, a prude and still I was outraged and offended. My husband and I sat at the dinner table after the kids left the kitchen and just stared at each other with our mouths agape. The boy who made the video is a senior in high school and, even though I know they are pretty much adults at that point and that he was creating what might be considered art, I could not wrap my brain around the fact that he and his friends would create something so offensive or that his parents were ok with that. We wondered if their parents even knew about it. And I pondered what I would do if my son had created something so disgusting. In that moment, the reality of what types of influences my children are exposed to completely overwhelmed me. We work so hard to keep our kids safe and instill the right values in them and then they go out into the world and continually run into kids whose parents approach things very differently than we do. And there is nothing we can do about it but keep staying the course.

When I was a teenager I remember my mother saying to me that no matter what you do, you can’t guarantee a positive outcome for your kids. Her comment stuck with me because I perceived it, at the time, as a copout. She was making herself feel better when she saw kids that came from good upbringings become substance abusers because it seemed to minimize the less than stellar results of her own children. She unburdened herself of any guilt she might have felt with the consolation that, even if she had been a better parent, the outcomes might have been the same. I called bullshit on that back then and I call bullshit on it today. There is no question that some kids get derailed no matter how much love, guidance and support you provide. We only have so much control over what happens to our kids. However, I believe that sometimes we cannot deal with what is happening right before our eyes so we have to turn away and then we rationalize and minimize. And, with that, I pray that I am tuned in enough to be able to catch wind of my kids going astray.

Suddenly, all my other distress seems just a bit trite and irrelevant. Another reason why being a parent is so amazing- it is the perfect antidote for self-indulgence.