I was going to wait until a few weeks before the 5k (DUN DUN DUN) to get myself a pair of actual running shoes, but last week while I was out Fat CrossFitting, I looked down at my feet and realized that through the mesh, I could see my toes wigging in my socks. Oops. I immediately developed a completely unfounded and unnecessary neurosis about my footwear falling apart mid-workout and the subsequent embarrassment that would follow.
I ordered several pair from Amazon in hopes of finding a pair of shoes that I can run in (arch support) and lift in (minimally squishy). I am also blessed with crazy wide platypus feet (thanks, Dad) and an insanely high instep (thanks, Mom). I have excellent arches due to a childhood spent with orthotic inserts in my shoes. Needless to say, shoe shopping is occasionally a challenge; however, two day shipping and free refunds means that I was spared the frustration of actually having to go out.
And now I’ve got shiny new New Balances that I’ve already taken out for several runs (and worn to work a couple of times).
I wish I’d known, oh, years ago, let’s say even as early as when I was marching Crossmen, how much a difference good shoes and workout clothes make. I have been blown away by how much faster recovery is from running with these shoes. I’ve also been blown away by how much easier going to the gym is when my workout shorts fit right, are meant to be sweat in, and don’t have to be constantly adjusted to hide whatever body part I’m feeling self-conscious about that way. I am surprised by the difference decent gear has made.
Surprised and delighted!
I’ve been doing more reading than writing these days. I feel like I can do three out of four things: study, spend time with the kids, exercise, and blog. Sleeping has, of course, been out of the question
for the last several months since Jamsine was born.
I normally go into my conversations with a set of proven questions to ask, that I find will elicit a wide variety of anecdotes from people’s lives: happiest moment, saddest moment, things like that. But with people fleeing war, it is absolutely impossible to discuss anything beyond the present moment. Their circumstances are so overpowering, there is absolutely zero room in their minds for any other thoughts. The conversation immediately stalls, because any topic of conversation beyond their present despair seems grossly inappropriate. You realize that without physical security, no other layers of the human experience can exist. “All day they do is cry for home,” she told me. (Dohuk, Iraq)
Humans of New York is on a World Tour with the UN. The stories are beautiful and heartbreaking.
4. Do I love this item more than the clutter it might create? “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” is often quoted when simplifying the items in one’s home but in our case, we had too many useful or beautiful items.
Five questions to ask yourself when purging. Something to think about as our next pack out draws nearer, and I’ll be once again faced with how to ship and store our family scrapbooks.
I had the pleasure of meeting Chris the other day; we’ll be serving together in Jerusalem. This is excellent advice for life (but specifically FMs, GSOs, and fellow ICASS service providers) that sums up tp, “Don’t be an asshole.”
Kelly’s got a great list up that summarizes the culture shock that I always feel when visiting the States from abroad. Two highlights (but really, read the whole thing):
2.) Dress is casual. Very casual. I have always dressed like an American wherever I live, but I like that here I can go to the grocery store in shorts and t-shirt and not look out of place. Yep, these are my t-shirt wearing, flip-flopping peeps, right here.
6.) The food is both awful and wonderful. At our temporary apartment we were greeted with a basket of junk food on the kitchen counter, and they were giving away cupcakes and sugary iced coffee in the lobby at happy hour for some reason. But on the other hand, there is great produce at the grocery store, lots of healthy, tasty, not-schnitzel food in restaurants, and the salads don’t have potatoes in them. You can have a chicken Caesar salad or noodle bowl for dinner or you can scarf free cupcakes. Your choice.
I have never felt so good about myself as I have these last few weeks. I’ve finally started reaping the rewards of changing my lifestyle to a more active one. One of my biggest fears about being a parent is that my daughters will turn out like me. Not in an “OMG NOT FAT ANYTHING BUT FAT” way, but in a “OMG I’m 30 and I’m only now starting to take care of myself” way. Not just fitness, but also taking care of my skin, not eating crap that makes me feel like crap, and practicing emotional self care.
As someone who has been overweight my entire life (no really, I never lost my baby fat) with an accompanying anxiety about my physical appearance, I am not eager to pass this neurosis on to my daughters. It broke my heart when Jasmine hopped on the scale one morning and asked how much she weighed. Of course she didn’t think of the answer as positive or negative (she’s two), but the thought that she might already understand that the number on the scale can affect my happiness destroyed me.
Thinking about how Jasmine will see the changes in me keeps me grounded.
I wasn’t active as a child, and I spend a lot of time thinking about how to communicate to my kids that being active is fun and just as important as reading, music, and intellectual pursuits. It’s not enough for Bertrand and I to develop within them a love of learning and a love for humanity (their minds and their hearts). We also have to focus on a love of their physical selves and a love of physical activity (their bodies).
When the kids outgrow playgrounds, we need to have already established that there are lots of fun and interesting activities outdoors. And that they can do them with us. I (re)started C25K last week because I want something more concrete than “spend 30 minutes on the elliptical” for the nights when I don’t or can’t go to CrossFit, and I want an activity besides walking that I can do with the kids. C25K (“Couch to 5k”) is an 8 week program designed to take zeroes like your Fat CrossFitter heroine to heroes able to run an entire 5k without stopping to walk.
I’ve just signed up for my first race in September, with the intention of running it with one of the kids in the stroller.
What what’s life without challenges, right? Especially challenges that I can meet hand-in-hand with my daughters.*
*One of my daughters. Probably Grace. Because she weighs half as much as Jasmine does.
I spent the day cooking up a feast of Middle Eastern delights, specifically, recipes from Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem. I normally do all of the weeks’ cooking ahead of time, and I have been getting bored of hard boiled eggs and roasted chicken thighs.
Week after week after week.
Also, our CSA vegetables are starting to pile up in the fridge, which is a bone of contention in my marriage. Fortunately, Jerusalem is full of paleo and primal friendly recipes. Middle Eastern food is, in general, paleo friendly. Lots of delicious salads and vegetables. Amazing grilled meat. Lots of olive oil. Lots of deliciousness. And one of the great things about living in the States for a few months is access to high quality ingredients.
First, I needed to get rid of several weeks’ worth of zucchinis. There’s an excellent recipe for zucchini turkey burgers that turned out perfectly. I doubled the recipe, rightly suspecting that everyone in the family would love the flavorful patties.
Jasmine loved ‘em. Bertrand loved ‘em. And Grace probably will too when I get around to feeding her one. Whole30 complaint.
Next, I had to use up some cubed butternut squash I’d bought thinking to steam for Grace, but had sat in the fridge for a week. Blech. This roasted butternut squash with tahini recipe is also 100% Whole30 compliant.
So good. I thought I’d have several servings for lunches next week, but we ate it straight out of the oven. Oops. It was delicious. Just as delicious was the leftover lemon tahini sauce, which will serve as dips for vegetables this week. Seriously. Make extra sauce and then eat it with a spoon. it’s that good.
Also, beets. The beets have been sitting in our fridge for almost two weeks now, and they were starting to make Bertrand cranky. I bought a few extras this morning to make sure I’d have enough, which may have been a mistake. Turns out, the beet puree recipe makes about 3 cups of beet dip.
I ended up adding a lot more yogurt and a lot more za’atar than the recipe called for; however, the recipe was absolutely delicious. Even my weird-food-adverse husband liked it. And yes, that is one of my kids’ bowls in the photo. All of my pretty dishes are sitting with our personal effects in Antwerp. So it goes.
And finally, I made the date syrup called for by the beet puree.
Soak half a dozen pitted dates in water for a few hours. Reserve the liquid, then blend the dates with an immersion blender, adding reserved liquid as necessary. Easy peasy.
Tomorrow, I’ll finish up with the more mundane parts of the cook-up. Boiled eggs. Chicken stock. Plenty of rice for Bertrand, Grace, and Jasmine to eat over the course of the week. Not sure I’m a fan of splitting the work up over a couple of days, but for now, I’m happy to be sitting down and blogging instead of working in the kitchen.
Malaria. Yikes. Scary. Especially when you have kids. And for whatever reason, easy to understand information on the options for prophalxis for FS families can be hard to to find. I got an email a few weeks ago asking my opinion, and since, as my loyal readers know, I am a woman of STRONG opinions, I thought I’d turn the email exchange into a blog post (with my interlocutor’s permission, of course).
Disclaimer: this info is my opinion, definitely not approved by MED, subject to change, and may be wrong. My opinions are strongly influenced by the years I spent in West Africa previous to joining the State Department.
Malaria is dangerous and scary, more so for children. I’ve had it, Bertrand’s had it, and Jasmine’s had it. When Bertrand and I got it, we weren’t on any sort of malaria prophylaxis; when Jasmine got it, at 13 months, her malaria prophylactic was being administered incorrectly. In my family, we are (now) religious about giving our kids their prophylaxis. We will never ever ever leave the administration of medication as important as anti-malarials to the girls’ nanny again.
Malaria can be deadly, and has been for State employees as least recently as 2013. That said, most malaria in adults (with a few notable and DEADLY exceptions) is usually treatable if you have access to modern medical care and can afford the medication. And, the number one preventer of malaria, world-wide, is sleeping under impregnated mosquito nets.
The kicker about malaria prophylaxis is that they all have side effects. Mefloquine can give you bad dreams, insomnia, and is not recommended for those with a history of mental illness or depression (because it can aggravate them). Doxy causes sun sensitivity and can interfere with birth control. Malarone can cause nausea and diarrhea. And it’s not like many medications, where the side effects are minimal. MOST people experience side effects from one or more prophylaxis.
I can’t take mefloquine. I just … stop sleeping. I get *incapacitating* insomnia. No dreams, no hallucinations, just no sleep. I dislike the sun sensitivity that doxy gives me, and switched to malarone. Luckily, it’s now available as a generic, and has become dramatically less expensive over the last few years. My husband takes mefloquine with NO side effects. Each body is different, and it’s important to take the time to figure out what works for YOU.
There also haven’t been a lot of studies done on the long term effects of most prophylaxis. This isn’t a deal breaker for me or Bertrand, we are, after all, adults. However, don’t know what that means for my daughters if I pursue my dreams of a career in AF. I’m not sure what the answer is, yet. I *do* know that for our next tour in a malaria zone, both girls will be on malarone, as will I. The solution may be to do tours in Kenya and southern Africa, where malaria is less prevalent.
Oh, woe is me.
So that’s a lot of information. My two cents is that I feel strongly that kids in malaria countries should sleep under impregnated nets AND take their prophylaxis. Two more cents is that adults are adults, but malaria CAN and DOES kill. Certainly, it’ll keep you out of the office for a week or two while you recover. Currently, the State Department requires all FSOs serving in malaria zones to sign off that they know they’re required to take their prophylactic. I believe that enforcement varies, but it’s important to know about the requirement before bidding on posts where malaria is endemic.
Malaria sucks. Don’t get it.
One of the most frustrating things about long term training in DC is how hard it is to spend real time with my kids. Time that isn’t rushing around getting me ready for work in the morning and them ready for daycare. Time that isn’t cooking or cleaning in the evening. Time that isn’t studying. Time that isn’t frantically running errands. Time that isn’t in the car.
I had previously solved this problem with Jasmine by cuddling her to sleep every night. When it was time for bed, I’d make her a bottle of warm milk, let her put an ice cube in it, then curl up in her bed with her to read and giggle and play until she finally fell asleep. Between the gym and meeting friends for dinners, I don’t get that quiet time with her anymore.
This morning when Jasmine wanted to cuddle on the bus to FSI, I just didn’t have to heart to tell her to sit back down in her seat. I miss spending one-on-one time with her too.
We only have a few months left in DC, and while Bertrand and I have really been too worn down to take advantage of everything this great city has to offer, I hope that over the next several weekends, Jasmine and I will get downtown to visit memorials and museums. I love this city, and I think it’s about time for me to exit from my “OMG I HAVE TWO KIDS UNDER THREE” panic mode. Quality time with my daughter and DC in the summer? Sounds like a plan to me.
The best way to get one-on-one time with the coaches at my
gym box is to finish last. I like to think it’s because the coaches are admiring my determination and fortitude, but I’m pretty sure it’s only because they’re worried Imma hurt myself.
My box appears to have some rhyme and reason to its programming, and part of that is testing. How much can you lift? How fast can you get through this benchmark
metcon workout? How far do you have to scale the workouts to complete them under the time cap? How much have you improved since the last time you tested? I’m happy to be done with benchmark week. I could do the last two workouts in the progression this weekend, but I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend snuggled up with my family and my Arabic flashcards.
This week I’ve discovered that I can deadlift a decent amount for a novice. I still can’t do a single goddamned pushup. And I infinitely prefer ring rows to rope raises.
Also, I have completed zero benchmark workouts under the time cap. Bless the coaches’ hearts, they let me finish anyway.
It’s “benchmark week” at my
box gym, whatever that means. I think it means a lot of pain, but I could be wrong. No, wait, I’m probably right. Expect it to be described in excruciating and profane detail at the end of the week. Until then, here are a few articles that have crossed my radar in the last couple of days.
That’s not to say that we should ignore a woman’s size altogether, because as writer Lisa C. Knisely reminds us “the fucking worst thing you can tell a fat girl is that she isn’t fat,” but pointing it out in a cutesy, wink-wink,oh-we-get-it way might serve to make people feel infantilized or emphasize being treated differently. We need to celebrate people’s bodies for the right reasons.
I’m still a fat fucking CrossFitter, don’t you guys worry.
Naked, I stood at the closet doors with the lights on and made myself ready. I took a deep breath and positioned the mirrors so I could see all of me. I consciously worked to remove my self-believed inner image. I opened my eyes and looked very carefully at my body. And my heart lurched at the truth: I am not a young woman anymore. I am a woman well-lived. My body tells of all the years she has carried my spirit through life.
Perhaps most appalling is her date’s blindness to how hurtful he was.
If people have studies that say that everyone going paleo and doing crossfit will save on healthcare costs and be better for the “good of society” do we all have to eat a steak while we flip tires in a garage with no air conditioning? The only good answer to this is that each of us gets to choose how highly we prioritize our health and what path we choose to get there. Public health should be about making information and options available to the public, not making individual bodies the public’s business. If people want to flip tires in an air conditioned gym while eating Kraft singles and wearing a plarn backpack that’s totally their deal, I say rock on.
BONUS NON BODY ACCEPTANCE LINK: I’m loving Cup of Jo’s Motherhood Around the World series. Raising Jasmine, then later Grace, in Freetown was an adventure, but so wonderful. In a world where every day there’s a new story on CNN about something awful happening to a toddler, I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had while raising my own wonderful daughters.
P.S. Deadlift PR last night. It was awesome.