Saturday, June 03, 2017

I Have a New Obsession

Or two.

1: Some version of this delicious bowl of greek yogurt and cottage cheese topped with all the best chopped fruit and almonds and mini chocolate chips and a drizzle of honey.

I started counting macros Novemeber 1st...  7 months ago! And I'm obsessed. If you're already annoyed because this is not your thing, you are relieved of reading. I totally get it. But for me it's been a game-changer.  It's just made me look at food so differently and it feels like such a sustainable way to hit and maintain my fitness goals.  And that feeling of sustainability is EVERYTHING-- Do you know how much more productive I am when I'm not thinking or stressing about what and how much and when I should eat?!

That's misleading because I'll always think about the next time I eat and what it's going to be, let's be real... but now I have this perfect formula for my day so the STRESS is taken out.  Legwork yes. But stress no. A totally worthy trade. Let's move on.

This was my experience:

For about five years (minus a pregnancy) I'd been using intermittent fasting to help me maintain my weight and health.  I'd really liked it for the most part. I would fast twice a week for 24 hours. Anyone who hadn't done it would respond like that was crazy and impossible... NOW I AGREE!! But at the time it worked for me and made me feel good and like I could always keep my week in check without having to obsess every day about what I ate. I love to cook and eat--- and I love all the carbs and treats.  Let's just get that out in the open.

But last summer I had a gallbladder issue and the doctor told me that fasting could have been a contributing factor.  Since I kept my gallbladder, I decided maybe I should find a new "plan"... that catered to this new little problem.  A friend introduced me to macro counting (which I'd heard about but never had the slightest clue what it referred to.. anybody else?)  She'd used a coach and insisted I go that route so I gave in! Which was really unlike me. I'd always thought:  Of course I have tons of room for improvement, but I know how to do it, I just don't always WANT to do it.  I know I should be sticking to lean protein and veggies and limiting my carbs, and cutting out sugars and processed foods.  I know I shouldn't be eating a giant bowl of ice cream every night or baking weekly batches of cookies.  I know I should be having my burgers wrapped in lettuce instead of white butter-topped homemade buns... er... maybe I should stop eating so many burgers?

But I didn't want to.  It wasn't worth it to me-- is what I'd decided.  That extreme level of commitment it took to be a little leaner or fitter was out of my realm.  And that meant I was more balanced.  So there.

Except here is something I've learned about myself. I'm not balanced dang it. I think about food a lot. And I DO care if I feel gross and overfed or wake up feeling like I really took two steps back.  And if that happens a few times in a week, I could feel so angry at myself and frustrated and then I'd feel like I should do something extreme... But I wouldn't because I don't do well at extremes, and then I'd feel like a failure all the more!

But anyway--- I gave in to peer pressure and hired Amber of Biceps after Babies (although now it sounds like I should have hired a therapist).  I LOVED USING AMBER! I felt like she just genuinely knew her stuff and was such a steady voice of reason if I was ever frustrated with the scale etc. She made herself super available for questions and sent weekly tips and recipes.  And maybe mostly it was just kind of a game changer to be accountable to someone.  Anyway. HUGE fan. I wanted to know that if I was going to put in this much legwork, I had my goals lined up right.  She also offers just the custom macros for $50 now, along with some helpful info if you're not into the commitment of coaching.  There are online calculators out there but those set me at higher and overall different numbers than she did... don't know if I'd trust those. (This is sounding like an ad sorry... just full disclosure for those who are into this stuff!)

Anyway-- I ended up using her for 12 weeks.  I thought for sure I'd only use her for 6 to get the hang of it but then I couldn't bare to let her go.  I shared my goals with her and she gave me a custom set of macros - (macronutrient goals: how many grams of Carbs, Fat, and Protein I should eat in a day. Essentially it's a step farther than counting your calories... which I used to think was nuts.) My goal was to hit them all within five grams.  NOT to just stay below them.  I think mentally this was one of the best things for me.  Food was fuel-- a good thing-- not a habit you have to kick and something you try to BEAT and resist all day.  Less wasn't always better, I just wanted to hit MY goal for cutting a few pounds.  That made it doable, and generally just a really positive experience for me, so I actually had no desire to cheat. I skipped tracking on Thanksgiving day and once around Christmas and was anxious to get back to it the next day.  I was instantly seeing subtle results, I loved waking up every morning knowing I had a plan and hadn't set myself back the night before.   It felt like this amazing, doable formula. And it could be MY food. I could build burgers and tacos and even pizzas without having to pretend lettuce was bread or a tortilla because it's not. I could create meals I still loved and craved, as long as I hit the right combinations of everything each day and didn't blow my carbs or fat on things that weren't valuable enough.  I was a little hungry in the beginning because that's what supposed to happen if you're eating less than you burn.  And you've got to eat less than you burn if you want to shed a few right?

I'm off track.

My goal? I wanted to lose five pounds. That would put me at a weight where I felt great, it was also the lowest weight I'd ever been as an adult.  So I certainly wasn't thinking beyond that.


For me once Amber had me at my goal weight, we started increasing my carbs and fat each week and shockingly, I kept losing weight! I got lower than I thought I even wanted to (I can't believe I just wrote that) while eating what felt like more than I used to... like 2400 calories by the end!  Once I started gaining a little bit, we knew we'd found my maintenance.  Where I wasn't eating in a deficit (for cutting) or in a surplus (for bulking.) I settled in at a macro breakdown that adds up to around 2200 calories a day, and a weight that I'm happy with as I try to build more muscle... and I feel like I'm eating a ton! And I never have to think, "I guess I don't need ice cream tonight, I'll be good..."  because I WANT to hit my macros and keep my body fueled for my workouts.  So if I've planned for my nightly treat, you better believe I'm gonna eat it. And the scale won't even know it tomorrow. It's amazing.


Did I mention my start date? November 1st... right as the holidays rolled in. What was I thinking!?
Ok so I did feel like that occasionally at the beginning for sure. Especially when I'd peruse the Costco Christmas treat isles and I just wanted to cry seeing all the chocolates that just wouldn't "fit my macros." I felt annoyed at all of the girls who boasted donuts and pop tarts as part of IIFYM (if it fits your macros). ???? HOW is a scoop of peanut butter on top of everything she eats fitting her macros when I don't have enough fat for a drizzle of olive oil??  Sure I could have a chocolate... even lots, but I was now aware of all of the other food I'd have to give up if I did that (assuming I wanted to hit my goals). And that just wasn't worth it.  I dreamt of having all the chocolate sitting in jars around my kitchen and just grabbing them nonchalantly because "it's the holidays! I deserve it"... but it's my budget and my goals. And that's the magic with macro counting. It just keeps you totally honest with yourself.

If we were saving for a new house (that I really wanted!) and had a specific budget that allowed us to reach our down payment goal within six months, sure I might want to be like, "I deserve a new pair of shoes, I need to feel cute on a date night. It's for the sake of my marriage. (?)" etc... but the bottom line is, if you really have a well planned out budget and you know and trust the end result of sticking to it, YOU get to decide what you value most. The shoes or the house. Yes you can have both... maybe you give into a splurge here and there and get the house a little behind schedule and maybe that's worth it to you.  Maybe you budget in the shoes and shave off some clothes for the kids (you're awful). But once you KNOW exactly what it will take to hit your goal.... what you can't do is pretend to be blind to the fact that the more you spend, the slower you'll get there. And the key is making that budget realistic so you don't just throw it out the window in frustration.

Was that analogy worth it? I don't know. But it's been a long time since I've written on this blog and remember how I maybe should have hired a therapist? But I didn't and sometimes I think this kind of typing with all of my fingers instead of my thumbs is therapeutic. Thanks. ;)


Yes it's crazy at first and there is a huge learning curve as you figure out My Fitness Pal and how to weigh everything and how you like your day divided, and how to ever get to the table while your family is still eating, and where the macros are worth it and where they aren't.  You might be used to eating a lot of food early in the day, and find you hit your macro goals too early in the evening at first and THAT'S depressing if you're still hungry right? Or maybe you're not a night-time eater so that's perfect. (But you're weird.)  OR you might be like me, so afraid of running out and going to bed hungry and crying OR... throwing in the towel and taking down a gallon of dreyers..... that you hoard your macros through the day at first to make sure you've got plenty of room for a dinner you haven't fully calculated yet or snacks you might want after the kids are in bed. (might - ha.)  In the beginning, occasionally I'd go really light during the day to be able to eat a whole personal Blaze Pizza at night with my family etc. (Because who wants half a pizza?)  And of course my huge bowl of ice cream. (Have I mentioned I pre-log my dessert before anything else.  It will always fit my macros. Always.)

Either way, these early kinks work their way out and it gets so much smoother and easier.  And then it really can be such a freeing feeling.

Whole foods are best. Ice cream isn't nutrient dense. Micronutrients matter too.  Eat your veggies! All of this seems to me like it goes without saying. You'll feel better and fuller on whole, nutritious foods.  And I really admire people who eat super clean all the time! Of course if I was was one of them, I would probably be so much healthier and shinier and my teeth would probably be whiter and my hair longer and more luscious with less pony-tail breakage ... my house would probably be cleaner.

But for now, I love good, real, food with plenty of micronutrients and vitamins... and also plenty of flavor.  And I love bread!  I approach meals with some new mindful substitutions and choices that make them fit my day better ... and I love that I can enjoy treats without guilt and gain.

Macros for the win.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dear Knox, You're Nine Months

Knox Hardy Biesinger,

Tomorrow you'll be nine months. That means you've been here in our arms and in our home, rolling around and eating and giggling and spitting up almost as long as you grew in my belly those nine months before.  It seems like a significant age for that reason.  Which makes sense because you are more of your own person every day right now.  More teeth, new hair, new faces, more giggles... new tricks.  Nine months is good.

-You aren't fully crawling yet but it seems like you've had the skills to crawl for at least a month or two.  You might be my first official army crawler, pulling with your elbows and pushing with your feet and dragging your belly along for the ride.  You're not all over the house yet, but when you see something you really want (like dad when he got home tonight) those elbows can really pick up the pace.  I'm crossing my fingers you don't get too ambitious too fast, I'm appreciating that you'll still hang out on a blanket with toys while I lay by the pool, and you're not yet cruising the house looking for things like crickets and dishwasher detergent to put in your mouth.  This phase is good.

- You have four teeth on top and three on the bottom, kind of a lot of teeth for your age, and yet you might be my least interested in food.  Feeding you real food is my least favorite baby "chore", although I'd take my least favorite chore with you over pretty much anything else.  You could make a root canal kinda sweet. Well I don't know those are brutal. But back to you, you don't reach for and seem to love food quite yet.  But we go through the mandatory-ish baby food a few times a day.  You like oatmeal and applesauce and sometimes yogurt... we offer you everything and you eat some but mostly I clean up a highchair and floor covered in banana, cheese, salmon, hot dogs, grapes, crackers, berries... you name it and it's stuck in the cracks between our hardwood I'm sure.

- Sometimes I worry you'll hardly know I'm your mom since a few months ago, you discovered the bottle when I was at an appointment one day and it's been your favorite ever since.  I officially stopped nursing you when you were about 7 and a half months and you certainly didn't miss it.  I think I was forcing you to snuggle with me a bit longer but you just wanted to lay free and hold your own bottle and down it at your own pace.  I think you'd be happy if we skipped food and just gave you bottles all day.  You love that thing.  

- You love your sisters and your brother so much.  They come home from school and every one of them looks immediately for you.  Finn says "where's bubbas?!" I wonder if he'll still call you that when you're older. Your sisters are so helpful... you must feel like you have three moms.  They love to hold and play with you and let you hang on the floor in their room while they play.  Mila loves to make you a bottle all on her own.. they're going to be expert babysitters since they could pretty much take care of you all day just fine... you're a lucky boy to have these siblings, and they're so lucky to have you.

- Lately I feel like people are constantly telling me how good you are.  I wasn't sure if you'd be one of my easier or harder in the beginning... I think I wasn't making as much milk as you needed and you weren't sleeping nearly as much as your siblings had.  Your naps were short and it felt like you were hungry all day.  Besides that you were always sweet and even tempered. Your cycles throughout the day were just short.  The bottle turned that around and while you still don't always take a 3 hour nap like Finn did, you are so even tempered and easily entertained. So sweet and content-- I almost don't care how long you sleep.  Which is definitely a first.  You go down when you get fussy and when you wake, you come join the herd of action.  You sit and lay and roll and army crawl amongst the throngs of homework, piano, and a revolving door of neighborhood friends.  I wonder if you'll always like being around a lot of people because that's what you'll be used to.

I wish I could stop time and forever feel your face burrowing into me when you're tired and about to be laid down, and the weight of your little 23 pound body when I lift you out of your crib with wide but sleepy eyes. There's nothing better in the world.  But every day there's a little more of you to love and that makes the loss of the youngest days bearable.  I'm so excited to see what you'll be at a year, 18 months, 2.... 5...8 .... there are so many precious moments and phases ahead Knoxy and every person in this family will be hanging on to every one of them.  

Someday you'll have a chubby heaven- sent nine-month old and only then will you know how much I love you.

Love, Mom

Saturday, September 12, 2015

We Have Four Kids

The other night something made me look up this old blog.  I haven't been here in a while and once I stopped in, I couldn't pull away.  Instagram has taken over that spot in my life for documenting and sharing pictures.  If I'm "wasting" time online, I'm perusing pinterest or instagram.  But never reading blogs.  Gone are the days of getting on each morning and checking in to see what ventures my friends and their new babies were on... and gone are the days where I'd sit down and start typing all of the current thoughts of this mommy of one baby.... two babies.... a boy! I never even touched the surface of our fourth.  I hardly use to miss the opportunity to post a good meal I made, and now I've missed an entire pregnancy and the first 8 months of Knox's life.

This kid is so cute.  What if I finally print this blog someday and he's not in it?  I think I'm back.  Knox needs stories about his first words, his favorite foods, the crickets he eats...

Not to mention these other three just keep changing! I die when I look at old posts and see Sophia as a little girl. I don't know when it happened but she is practically a young woman.  She turned ten a couple of weeks ago and it blows my mind.

I think I said this in my last post a year ago.  But I don't have time to look back at it.  But I'm making a new resolution to write again.  Instagram has made it super easy to document and save some photos.  But I can't help but be dissuaded by that unwritten rule that everyone is annoyed if you post too many pictures and one a day or less is just not always enough. And sometimes there is so much more to say than is appropriate to put in someone's instagram feed.

So again, I think I'm back. I'm writing to myself now and later. I can't imagine anyone else will check this which might make it a little harder to be motivated because those blog days were fun when we were all back and forth with comments.  I'm not above that and for sure all of that validation gave me all the more fire to write.  But along with nobody checking in comes incredible freedom.  Like right now, I'm not even re-reading this. I don't think I will.  Who has time?  It might be pure gibberish and I'm quite confident it is, but I think it's worth it.  I don't have time to words and I don't have time to edit photos... I don't even have time to edit thoughts.  I probably don't have time to write at all since every night once my kids are in bed I think of a million things I wish I'd done better while they were awake.  My life has a chronic MOUNTAIN of things I could be improving on. But maybe that's exactly why I want to write.  So that all of those thoughts and goals and wishes and regrets can be documented somewhere.  To either help me remember and better myself.... or at least give my kids proof, later, of my good intentions. :/

For now, I'm tired and not sure I actually said anything in this unedited mash of words but I'm hoping this will crack the door to that part of my brain so all of the stories and conversations and moments that are happening in this amazing family and life of mine will start pouring out and be recorded.

This is it.  I used to be a new mom and it feels like yesterday.  But now I'm a 34-year-old woman with four kids ranging from 8 months to 10 years.  I still do diapers and baby food and lullabies but now I do homework and soccer and volleyball and piano and friend problems and FableHaven and chores and sometimes I just don't know when my brain is going to catch up with these crow's feet between my brows.  I'm not sure it ever will-- but I know this is it.  I'm IN my life.  It's not like leading up to it anymore.  I'm in it. Making the forever memories for my kids.  More than halfway done raising Sophia under my roof. I'm in it.

It's so overwhelming but so wonderful.  And I'm just so grateful for these four personalities I scored.. and for such a solid partner in Ross to cross our fingers together and hope we do it right.

And for prayer.

Life is still super good over here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kauai 2014!

There.  I did something with the pictures I took when I decided it was worth it to bring the big camera.  A trip like this deserves a real showing.

Never in a million years did I think we would take our kids to Hawaii at such a young age.  I was lucky enough to go as a babysitter in highschool, and then again for college.  But we never went on a family vacation there growing up.  We never went anywhere that would have required air fare.  That would be crazy with six kids.  Only spoiled kids get that.  My kids are now officially spoiled and I think it was worth it.