Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Two months in

I'm now about two months into Weight Watchers.  I slowed down some in my weight loss, especially because the WW app keeps "yelling" at me that I was loosing too quickly.  Part of it was that in the beginning (once I got the hang of the point system), it was somewhat easy to eat within the daily points allotted and I rarely needed to us many of the weekly points and never tapped into the points I earned through activity.  That is until my running mileage started to ramp up for my half marathon training.  When mileage ramps up, so does my appetite.  So I've been using those weekly points and occasionally the activity points.

Now that my mileage has creeped up, I'm craving carbs a lot more.  I'm trying to make sure I prep in advance of a workout so I don't get out of control hungry after a workout.  So the day before a long run, I've been trying to make sure I've fueled really well.  It's been working for the most part but I ran 10 miles on Wednesday and I was hungry all.day.long.

I'm down just over 18 pounds so despite the long run munchies, I'm still losing weight.  I have another month on my WW membership and as of now, I plan to extend because it does seem to be working for me.  Tracking my food has been huge in helping me eat smaller portions, slowing down when I eat and really listening to my body in terms of, am I really hungry or am I ignoring the signs that I'm full? Or am I just bored, sad, anxious, not paying attention to what I'm eating, etc?  Those have all been my biggest triggers for over eating .  Knowing I have to record everything I eat means I think twice before I eat anything.

One thing I still have trouble deciphering is how I feel at night.  Before bed I get very tempted to have a snack.  Especially if I have points left to use for the day.  The thing is, if I've eaten a balanced dinner, I'm not usually hungry before bed.  It's just a habit that I'm having a hard time breaking.  I'm trying really hard to force myself to drink a glass of water and just go to bed.  Because usually I'm just tired and bored by that time.  So why eat when I should just go to bed?!  It seems so simple but it's much much much easier said than done!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Big Time Training

Since I fell short of my "Big Time PR" at the half marathon in the spring, I've been training hard for my second attempt which is in about 6 weeks.  I think losing some weight, incorporating more regular strength/cross training, as well as running longer/more frequently has made all the difference.  I am regularly churning out mileage at faster the PR pace.  I even pulled off PR pace while pushing Megatron in the stroller for a portion of my long miles recently (a friend was taking turns with me pushing).
Letting Megatron stretch his legs post-run.  No playground nearby?  That's ok, he's content to climb on anything available including the stroller and park benches.
Just trying on mama/s sweaty running shoes.  Never mind the fact that I'm not wearing pants...I was really hot after our run!
Getting these runs in has been interesting lately.  The Pilot's schedule has been pretty rough on all of us so Megatron is usually in tow for my runs.  Luckily I have some amazing friends who have been pushing him in the stroller so I can lighten the load and focus on my pace.  Luckily Megatron is still really good about going along for the ride.  Early morning runs he just sits there and eats his breakfast.  I've done a couple evening workouts and those I usually bring a book or toy for him.  But honestly, I think he just enjoys the scenery.  He now announces when he sees another "babeee" in a stroller or someone on a "baaa" (bike), among other things that I don't understand what he's saying.

Why does mama keep dragging me out of bed to meet up with these crazy people?!

Now that my long runs are over 8 miles though, I feel bad making him sit that long.  So I've had to do my last 2 long runs on a weekday because that's when The Pilot was home.  And even more insane for me is that I'm knocking the miles out EARLY so I can get home, cleaned up and spend time with my boys.  The Pilot is hardly getting any days off so when he's home, I don't want to run out the door and be gone for hours at a time.  I want the three of us to be together.  So this week I did my 10 miler at 5 am.  I was done before Megatron even woke up.  I did 4 miles with another mama and then when she needed to head home to get ready for work, I set out to finish the last 6 on my own.  I will say, the only other times I've watched the sun come up while running was during the Disney races.  Granted the sunrise in Central Ohio isn't quite as magical as the sunrise over Cinderella's Castle, it was kind of fun to watch my little town wake up and start its day.

That 10 miler gave me a huge confidence boost as I head into the home stretch of training for this second attempt at a "big time" PR.  While my splits were all over the place (like usual), I held it together and never really hit a wall.  I do think my perspective on long runs has changed.  Now rather than it being something I have to do, I look at it as a great time to get some me time. Normally I start slow and then pick up the pace around mile 3 or 4.  For my 10 miler though, I did the first 4 miles with someone faster than me.  Obviously we went out too fast for me and I kept slowing down.  Then I had a recovery mile once I struck out on my own, and then I found my groove again. 
Since I had already done my long miles for the week, when my usual crew met to run yesterday, I still showed up with Megatron just so we could socialize while getting some miles in.  I was planning on 6 miles but like with many runs with them recently, I get to all that socializing and forget to watch how far out I've gone and ended up doing 7. :) Never thought that would happen!  I used to stare at my watch just waiting to turn around.  Now, I just run.  Even with the stroller.  Now obviously I have to take some cues from Megatron to make sure he will be patient to get all the way back.  My wonderful friend Kim pushed Megatron for the first 3.5 miles (when I realized I needed to turn around!) and then I pushed him back.  I was really proud of those last 3.5 miles because I was still managing PR pace while pushing the stroller.  And that 11:33 at mile 5?  Hot damn!  I kept thinking it was a fluke but I know exactly where I was when that was happening.  My training group starts 30 minutes earlier than another group and by the time I hit mile 5, the other training group was coming towards me but their faster runners were coming towards me, then turning around and heading back so then I was getting passed by runners.  Any one who has done a race knows that running near people who are faster can make you run faster.  I felt a surge of energy and without realizing it, I was hauling.  I didn't notice it until I had to stop to take a very tight turn with the stroller.  At the corner, there was a runner who was lost so I stopped to help....and realized how heavy I was breathing.  Haha.  Once I got going again, the pack was long gone and I was pooped.  I was also starting to get some heckling from the front seat and had to open a fruit pouch for my passenger.  It was also time for his immunosuppressant (my little Pavlov dog starts grunting when the alarm on my phone goes off signaling its time for his medicine) so that also gave me a chance to catch my breath and back off to a much more comfortable pace.

Why yes, I always look this happy when pushing 50 pounds of toddler and stroller while I run. ;)

Hopefully I can keep this up as I head into another 10 miler and hopefully at least one 12 miler.  Then it will be time to taper...which means I will lose my mind and think I'm losing all my speed and I will cry when it hurts to do 4 miles. ;)

Post run selfie!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Keeping it together

Ever since Megatron's diagnosis, The Pilot and I have taken the role as his advocate.  We are his voice.  When we found out he would need a transplant at some point, we started advocating for organ donation.  While our journey hasn't been easy, advocating for him has felt very natural to me.  Maybe it's a natural role for a parent or maybe we just rose to the challenge.  

Lately though, in taking care of Megatron and feeling like I'm constantly advocating for him, I've sometimes forgotten to take care of myself and advocate for myself.  I think that's common for a lot of parents but it's not as simple or benign as wearing yoga pants all day or forgetting to shower.   It's a lot more complex, though those things happen sometimes too. 

I've had this expectation of myself that over time, I would come to terms with Megatron's liver disease.  That as time went on, it would get easier.  In general that is true.  Each day gets easier and more and more, the focus is on raising a normal toddler and not always focused on surviving liver disease. Things become our new normal and don't require much thought.  Megatron is healthy and as of his recent 2-year well visit with the pediatrician, he really is a pretty normal little boy.  With the exception of meds and some other transplant related things, he's a normal little boy. So if he's so normal, why am I still struggling?  I've asked myself that question a lot lately.  I keep expecting that I'll just accept our journey and life will move on.  But that just hasn't been happening like I thought it would/should.  Then, around the anniversary of his transplant, I started having a lot of flashbacks of times when Megatron was sick and in the hospital. I figured it was just because it was the anniversary and it was a time of reflection of all we had been through.   But they continued and would haunt me whenever I tried to sleep.  I was frustrated.  Why was something that happened over a year ago still bothering me?  I couldn't make sense of it.  But as a fellow (wonderfully kind and strong!) blogger recently wrote, I was ok until I wasn't. I knew I was struggling but in my cloud of fatigue, I couldn't decide what to do about it.  Again, I kept thinking it would just pass.

It wasn't until Megatron's pediatrician, my own primary care doctor and then someone on Megatron's transplant team, pointed out that I did go through a significant trauma, that I realized that maybe the flashbacks were something that I couldn't deal with alone. After some encouragement from a wonderful friend, I made the step towards facing the trauma that all happened so fast that I couldn't process it as it was happening.  I found a counselor to help me work through it.

Anyone who knows just a fraction of what my family has been through in the past 2 years won't be surprised to hear that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is what I've been struggling with.  Even though it's probably not a surprise, I've been reluctant to share that diagnosis.  So many people have pointed out that I've handled Megatron's medical issues with such grace, that I'm an inspiration, I'm so strong, etc. but on the inside I've been feeling like a fraud.  I know that I am strong and I never completely fell apart when we were in the thick of things with Megatron but on the flip side, I didn't have that option at the time.  My baby needed me to have it together.  So by some miracle, I did. But as we climbed out of the weeds, I was starting to fall apart behind closed doors.

I lay down and close my eyes at night and hear the beeping of the IV pumps in the hospital.  I see Megatron, skin and bones and a horrible shade of yellow.  I see Megatron's central line coming out of his chest and remember administering IV medications at home.  I see the feeding tube coming from his nose and remember waking up in the middle of the night to add more formula to the feeding pump. He didn't sleep through the night without medical intervention until he was 10 months old.  He wanted to sleep. I wanted to sleep. But his sick little body was starving before transplant and then post transplant, he was burning through calories to heal, in addition to playing catch up with his growth. I remember crying as he would throw up his feeds pre-transplant and it would be a horrible shade of bright orange because of the meds.  And suddenly I snap out of it and immediately become frustrated that I was still awake and thinking about things that happened last year. Yet when I close my eyes again, it starts all over again.  Sometimes I'll be driving and an ambulance will pass and the sound of the siren makes my heart skip a beat.  Not because it gives me a flashback of riding with Megatron in an ambulance (twice), but because my heart aches because someone's loved one is in there and I don't want anyone to feel how I felt those days in the ambulance.  Sometimes one of Megatron's toys will start to play lullabies and I cringe because it instantly takes me back to sleepless nights in the hospital and Ronald McDonald House.  I have practically jumped over the couch to turn the lullabies off just to make that feeling go away. All of these things combined have been a recipe for disaster.  Before I knew it, I was operating on just a couple hours of sleep a night.  I was exhausted and emotional.  Not a good combination when trying to keep up with a very busy toddler. 

The flashbacks of Megatron's medical challenges last year have been the biggest hurdle for me to face.  It's the hurdle that still causes me the most stress, but that hasn't been the only challenge.  Losing my grandma when Megatron was only 10 days old, finding out my dad was (to put it nicely) a jerk, then my parents' subsequent divorce in the midst of Megatron's liver failure, being forced to quit my job and take on the incredibly important role of being a stay-at-home mom, a role I never really wanted, have all played a part in trying to tear me down lately.  Because they all happened in rapid succession, and because Megatron needed me, I didn't have time or the ability to process any one of those major life changes.  And that is where I am now.  Taking each of those things and trying to pull them to the surface so I can face them, process them and move on.  Because I don't want to let any of these things make me bitter or angry or sad.  I want to accept that these things are part of my story and will make me who I am, who I have yet to become.  I want them to make me stronger and happier and more appreciative of my life rather than making me afraid to close my eyes at night.  It's going to be a process but it's a challenge I'm ready to take on.  A challenge I NEED to take on.

In working through some of these things, I confided in the counselor that I sometimes feel like a fraud because everyone seems to think I've held up so well given the circumstances.  On the inside though, I feel like I'm falling apart.  She pointed out that in true, type-A personality fashion, I am harder on myself than anyone else.  Knowing about my blog, she suggested maybe it was time to "fess up."  That if I shared my experience, I might feel better and in the process, it would help me move on from some of the things that have been troubling me. She also pointed out by sharing my story, just as I have shared Megatron's story, it may help someone else face their fears, ask for help, realize they aren't alone in being haunted by a trauma.   That certainly helped me face my own fear of sharing what has really been going on.  PTSD is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.  It is real and valid and scary.  I was still reluctant to share but I also realized that by "fessing up," I can let go of some of those guilty thoughts of feeling like a fraud.  

In order to move on, I have to deal with these past traumas that were all very much out of my control. It's been a couple months now since I started working with the counselor and it's certainly getting better.  I still have a lot of work ahead of me but like I said, this is a challenge I am ready to take on.