6.27.2009

Mid-Year resolve



I've been thinking a lot about progress, momentum, and stick-to-it-iveness. Am I doing it? Do I have it? Is it me?

The answer, usually, is a little, rarely, and almost never, respectively speaking. And it's all related to size and commitment. I can commit to cleaning a room, but not the entire house. However, I can say, "I want to improve the way I ____" and actually see movement in that (like interacting with people or communicating). Yet I am no good at seeing results of any kind when I say, "I want to incorporate ____ in my life on a daily basis" and actually see it happen (like exercise or volunteering).

On the one hand, I'm great at short-term goals and things I feel wholly in control of (like aspects of my personality). I am completely out of control, willy-nilly and frazzled beyond belief when it comes to long term, lifestyle changes, and serious commitment (like, don't drink anymore or exercise for the rest of your life).

I seem to be contradicting myself, don't I? I'm not trying to. They're just two very different things to me: one is close, the other is far. It's that simple. Like my shitty ass eyesight, I'm near-sighted and I'm great with those details, those happenings, those goals. Put it out a few weeks, months or even years and forget it. It can't get any blurrier for me and less interesting. Who wants to work hard and not see results immediately?? That just fucking sucks.

I don't think I'm alone in this. If I were, I'd be the only one with 20 lbs to lose and debt and a long list of "I wish I ____"s.

Noelle in Seattle recently wrote about a tradition in her family: mid-year resolutions. I think it's a terrific concept for us near-sighted folk. I've written resolutions for years, but they've morphed more into a Jackson Pollack type of list. I write all over the card, in all corners, fast and furiously. No rhyme, no reason, just words written in different fonts and sizes to balance the look I'm going for. Feelings, ideas, and goals are intermixed. When I open the envelope the following year I get a real snapshot of what was going on in my head at that very moment. But since I'm not writing, "Lose 5 lbs by St. Patrick's Day" anymore, I really don't have a gauge to measure my yearly growth by.

Re: growth: I'd like to think I'm doing it each year. It sure as hell feels like I'm growing (the fact that I'm basically alone every day of my life is certainly a new and different chapter of my life, and thus, GROWTH, right??). Anyway, a mid-year head-scratch is a great idea.

I'm going to do mid-year in review and a mid-year resolution list.

Here goes:
Review
Became serious about my health and fitness due to back pain issues. Pain seemingly cured!
Bought workout tapes and have been committed since April (first time ever that I've done that).
Allowed myself a hobby (horseback riding).
Committed to a baby #2.
Committed to becoming debt free... but, yeah, not so much as of yet.
Admitted I love to write (which has always been scary because, "I'm not a writer!").
Began written correspondence with some really, really lovely people.
Found an important outlet in blogging.
Began to unwind and -gasp- relax a little bit.

Resolve
Ignore the scale and the way my clothes fit. Focus on how I FEEL and keep working out no matter what. (I've GAINED 10 lbs since starting to work out, therefore this is a considerable promise to myself.)
Save $3000 for property taxes. And at least $500 a month in savings for the next 6 months.
Keep up with the horse hobby as finances allow.
Keep up with the written correspondence.
Verbalize my gratitude about something DAILY.
Always be real in my writing and only do it when it feels good. Ignore all the hub-bub of traffic-mongering, networking, and "blog as work" mentality. Make friends when it's natural and mutual through blogging.
Make friends -real and ether-kind.
Continue to relax the fuck out.

It'll be interesting to see how I end up at the end of the year since most of these are long term commitments (exercise, weight loss, chipping away at debt, etc.). Here's to hoping I can look back on this and say, "Hot damn! I did it!"

What would some of your mid-year resolutions be??

Update: Oh, and I didn't even mention my marriage and motherhood because those are givens. I'll always be working on those and striving to do better. And as self-disclosing as I can be on here, some things are sacred. Yeah, there are some things I actually do keep to myself.

Oh, and PS: I'm seriously considering going brunette this year, hence the blonde pictures for documentation.

6.26.2009

Hollis loves me


He doesn't say, "Mama, I love you," or even "Love you."

Instead, his whole frame softens and he looks at me and sighs, "Maaah-muhh." It's a thread of tiny-person feeling I wish I could snatch right out of the air and put in my pocket forever.

"Maaah-muhh," he exhales and leans into me.

"Maaah-muhh," he smiles as he clutches his blankie.

"Maah-muhh," he beams and toddles into my arms.

Unable to say "I love you, too," in any other way I mumble huskily back into his dark, golden locks "Baaay-bee," and wrap my arms around his warm softness.

His small heart's expression of emotion causes my own bigger heart to flutter and groan in a kind of rapture I've only ever known since motherhood.

"Baay-bee...."

6.24.2009

When I don't want my marriage

There are times when I don't want my marriage.

I don't know if you're allowed to really admit to that, but there it is. There are days when Anthony and I feel like overworked oxen moving in our daily treads, chastely kissing hello/goodbye, a little hug here and there, a discussion of goings on, then lights out. Two moving parts, mostly well-oiled, but still needing some juice, going through our life together day after day after day after day.

My resentment builds cyclically. I feel great for a few weeks. I work hard, I'm all warm and fuzzy about all things Anthony and Jessica, then suddenly I'm at the base of a wall of anger and fear for my future so high I can't see clearly; I feel like I'm under water and life is murky and Anthony. is. the. cause.

If only he'd just take out the trash instead of waiting for me to ask him to do it.

If only Anthony would take initiative with bath time.

If only I could rely on Anthony to something other
than just go to work.

If only Anthony would ______.
Which then swiftly morphs into, Why doesn't Anthony just _______??

I ranted and raved at myself for an hour the other night with this line of reasoning, then: What am I saying?? Do I not want to be married??

The answer is so simple: Of course I want to be married (and married to Anthony), but I don't want THIS kind of marriage. The marriage of resentment and anger, of general emotional dishonesty.

Admitting that I don't want it is terrifying. It feels oh so close to saying I'm quitting the marriage, but it's the absolute opposite. I'm renewing my vow to the marriage I want. The one where Anthony and I are connected and interested in each other; where there is passion and laughter; a spirit of camaraderie and teamwork.

I want a divorce from the bitchy, punitive marriage that sucks my energetic outlook on life right out through my worn down fingertips.

In a world where too many people get married for all the wrong reasons I think Anthony and I were one of the few couples who did it for all the right reasons. We were thoughtful about it, happy to do it, and regarded each other as partners, not "completers." We were already complete human beings. I have always seen Anthony like the sprinkles on a cupcake: not required, but definitely a bonus. And, I think, he feels the same about me.

So, when I start getting pissy about the placement, color, and number of sprinkles on my cupcake I know it's time to slow down and do some digging. I want a good relationship after all, and it's my responsibility to not let it slip into a daily dog fight over who's going to give Hollis a freakin' bath. I have to remain focused on those glorious sprinkles and how much they add to my life and ask myself, What's really going on here?

Anthony proves to me each time we come to this kind of impasse why I married him. Inevitably we come to a conclusion, a place of utter harmony of spirits, and I melt into him, his strength, his sensitivity, his raging intelligence. When I see his commitment to me and to a better marriage it invigorates me to continue to believe in it, in ours.

In the end, it has very little to do with what Anthony does or doesn't do with the trash or a dirty baby. It has everything to do with how I communicate my feelings and how they are received and reciprocated. True to the typical gender stereotypes, I'm the one sending out the vibes and Anthony is the receiver. I wonder how it'd be if he was the one always saying, "Jess, so I've been thinking..." I'm shocked he doesn't just put a pillow over his head whenever those words leave my mouth. But again, he never does, and it's why I continue to risk putting my feelings out there in the first place.

After this small revolution of heart I'm not afraid to admit that I don't want my marriage when it feels like a whole lot of crap. I'm not saying I'm going to give up on it whenever it does feel that way. I'm saying I'm going to slap myself back to reality and out of wallowing in my pitiless misery; to incite myself to find new ways out of it; to dig, claw, cry, and fight back to my sunny spot in the mythical flowered meadow of marital bliss that I truly believe in. - And it's worth noting, it's a mythical place only if you think it never rains.

So, hear me now, Universe: I want a robust, complicated, rich, visceral, love- and laughter-encrusted life of commitment that is a Marriage and I most definitely, definitely, want it with Anthony. I want a Marriage born of strength and honesty, of love and laughter. To this Marriage I say, I love you and will always be here for you. And to Anthony I say, I am yours forever and always... you never have to wonder.

6.23.2009

When your TV just becomes a black box

As I mentioned a week ago, I have no TV. I mean, I own a television, but it doesn't do anything right now except play my workout DVDs and an occasional movie. I thought I'd be more upset by this new turn of events, but I'm not. I thought that only the droning waves a TV can provide could fix those moments of I-can't-bring-myself-to-clean-but-too-jacked-up-to-nap, but I was very, very wrong.

I also thought that with no TV I might be lured to spend more time on the internet. I've already been struggling to balance my need to interact with other adults (in whatever format that may be) with being present with Hollis and the last thing I needed was an excuse to insert the internet-IV needle back into my arm. But that wasn't the case, either.

I'm surprised that I've spent a lot less time on the internet and, in general, less time worrying about anything other than just enjoying myself in whatever moment I find myself in.

Last week Anthony was in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica and I was solo for several days. I had such a good time with Hollis. I practically felt like I was on vacation, but I sort of expected that (it's the whole When the Cat's Away phenomenon). We played for hours in the house and the yard, we spent the night twice at my mom's to gear up for a Hollis Stays the Night with Grandma and Grandpa weekend, we colored, we wrestled on the bed, we went to the park.

Quite honestly, all of this isn't all that different from what we usually do. What I didn't expect was that I didn't beat myself up for enjoying it all. I actually had the presence of mind to allow myself some pleasure. Whoa! What a freakin' concept!

The laundry stayed in baskets, the floors remained filthy, the yard a disaster, and Hollis ate chicken nuggets at least 4 times (and not my usual homemade ones).

And that's not like me at all. I push myself like I'm a freaking Olympian in all things house- and baby-related. The fact that I still feel like a winner is a pretty big deal. I'm not a loser for switching gears a little. I actually feel smarter for it. I was a better me because I was relaxed for a change.

Of course, I cleaned like crazy the whole day before Anthony got home (not that he'd care in the least). I couldn't just leave the house like that! My week was like eating ice cream in bed... for dinner... every night. I'd kept the bowls hidden under the bed for days, but then it was time to get them into the dishwasher and hide the evidence!

It was a wonderful week topped off by Anthony's homecoming and a Father's Day spent watching Anthony jump a horse, knock back a Father's Day mojito or two at Moonshine buffet, then nap, and finally grilling at mom and Terry's.

And now I'm seriously debating about whether or not to get any kind of TV service plugged back in. Is it the lack of TV that has made the past 10 days so blissful? Or is it something else?? Have I finally turned a corner in my adult development to stop being so uptight and hard on myself??


6.20.2009

My pretty coin purse!

Thanks to Loukia at Loulou's Views and her giveaway I got this adorable coral Coach coin purse this morning!

Anything with a horse on it and you've got me at, "Hello."

I also found the purse I think I could be buried with:


I never buy anything more extravagant for myself than the occasional dress to wear to a wedding, so a designer bag would be ooh-la-la for lil' ol' me. I can dream...

6.18.2009

Things I wish someone had told me... just so, you know, I'd have a clue

October 9th, 2007 (he was born at 1:04 that morning)

This is Part 1 of Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me. Part 2 is here.

I've been thinking a lot about what I wished I had known prior to becoming a parent. My sister is due with her first baby November 30th (RRWM '09!), one of my best friends, Diane, just had a baby (hi, lil' Henry Ryan!!), another of my best friends, Clara, is due December 16th (Yay, for baby Micklebury!), another friend, Craig and his wife, on Christmas Day (Baby Fireball), and yet another dear old friend ('sup, Bri!) is also due in July with her first. Whew - that's a LOT of babies this year! Then, because things like this usually have a running theme in my life Noelle of Baby in Broad just wrote about similar life changes, as did Loukia of Loulou's Views.

Emotionally speaking, I can say all the obvious things like you'll be exhausted, overwhelmed (by everything good and bad), and in utter awe of life in general. I find it hard to believe that someone couldn't be touched, and touched deeply, by the miracle that is a newborn life (barring anything as awful as post-partum depression, that is). But I think most about-to-be-parents know that something is going to change in them; they've heard about it enough from every Tom, Dick, and Harry by now, I'm sure.

The less obvious things are what I'm talking about, like how your relationship with your partner will change. Anthony and I experienced an intense sense of bonding during that first week we spent with Hollis. I was caught completely by surprise by this fierce tenderness. I have never loved him more than I did in that magical week. Hollis epitomized our bonding: he is half of each of us and this is no fucking joke. We are now parents, a family.

Our relationship prior to parenthood consisted of arguments about how we would spend our spare time together (Anthony wanted to be alone to recharge, and I together, of course). I look back on that and think what a waste of time and energy! If only we'd known how truly precious and special that time was I'm sure we would have spent it differently. And it's not about being bogged down by childcare now, either, it's an effortlessness that we once had as child-free parents that we will NEVER have again, even if our kids are somewhere else. It's like that moment I had on the greenbelt trail when I saw all the girls with their dogs and I thought, "Wow, that used to be me and all I ever had to worry about was buying dog kibble and what I wanted to do that night."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining in the least. I wear my new found parenthood badge with pride. I have a son, a child, a person I created. I would feel no less proud if I had adopted, for the record - I don't want this to seem I think it's all hinged on birth, because it's not. I had a [much smaller] shift of self when I adopted Levi, too - it's the whole idea that there is more to "me" than just ME. There is an OTHER who colors every single thing that I do and I am eternally happy about it.

No one told me about this shift would happen. I suspect it's the knowing look every parent gave me when I was pregnant because they knew it would happen, just as it'd happened with them. And with this shift I am a thousand times more protective of my family than I ever was of my coupleness with Anthony. Who knew that'd happen?? I have a family to take care of and watch over now so y'all better back off! The cares and concerns of my little unit are numero uno now. I allow others in based on connections, love, and relationships, not just for a good time. I'm a discerning human being now whereas I used to let anyone in whenever they wanted.

I don't necessarily wish someone had told me that the amount of lurv I would feel would be so ridiculous, but it's worth mentioning that it might not happen immediately. Eventually it will, but it happens at different times for everyone. It sorta snuck up on me with Hollis, I can't really pinpoint the exact moment. It was just the accumulation of a thousand little moments I suppose. It's like a high, feeling that love inside of me. I feel like sunshine is bursting from my veins and I don't care who sees it. Nothing makes me happier than to see Hollis doing anything at all. Or to see Anthony with him. It's so fucking cliche I don't even really want to give it that much space here.

No one was ever able to truly describe to me how hard it is to live with a newborn, either. Like the love I'd feel for my baby I had an idea, but couldn't really understand it until I lived it first hand. It is by far the most difficult thing I've EVER done in my life (and I've done a lot of hard shit) because I would never allow myself to dissolve into meanness or anger - and that was a Herculean effort. Anthony and I had our fair share of shitty nights when Hollis never slept more than an hour or two at a time (this went on for what seemed like almost a year).

I have clear memories of Anthony seething at me, up at the end of the bed in his underwear, just back from Hollis' room only to hear him crying again, mad that I hadn't gotten up "that time" with Hollis. And me biting back that he didn't need to be an "asshole!! I've been up every hour for the past 3!" and then crying because this wasn't how Anthony and I operate and I was oh so goddamned tired. We were just the worst versions of ourselves, tortured with sleep deprivation beyond all reasonable thoughts. (And just to be clear, Anthony was never really an "asshole," we were both just exhausted and worried we were doing something wrong that Hollis didn't sleep for very long at a time and if we were ruining him, etc., etc., and of course we took it out on each other).

And that's another thing: YOU WILL TAKE IT OUT ON YOUR PARTNER. No one told me I'd become a cranky and resentful shit. No one told me Anthony would become a droopy-eyed viper. But there it is. We were. And might be once again with the next baby. It's just the trial by fire every relationship must go through, I suppose. And once you make it, I swear you feel like your partnership can handle anything. If you're lucky, anyway. I think, honestly, it's why most marriages end after a baby's in the mix if you've married because of a pregnancy. It's just so fucking hard.

Becoming a parent will also make you feel like you're in a club you never even knew existed. Anyone and everyone will talk to you if you have a baby with you. I'm finally, after almost two years, used to it. I rarely will initiate contact with someone else, but I've come to terms with the fact that means nothing to anyone else who wants to poke, squeeze, touch, or otherwise engage Hollis.

I also have more understanding of my own parents and what they went through and less compassion for my father in particular for the things he chose to do to us, because HOW COULD HE?? How could any parent be so rotten and in such a deliberately destructive way?? I have even more respect in how hard my mom worked to break her own parenting cycles and be a better mother than her mother.

And no one told me I'd become a blubbering fool whenever I heard about a divorce with kids because now it's the end of a family. I can cry rivers for the pain they must all be in, especially the children. My own parents' divorce elicited one night of crying when I was 10 and so now I'm making up for lost time, apparently. The end of my pairing with Anthony is unfathomable... I can't even begin to wrap my head around something like that and so I naturally apply that same mindset to others, whether or not it's true. So, then come the waterworks.

So, there you have it, what I wish someone had told me about being a mother:
  • You may not be immediately overwhelmed by love for your baby
  • You may be overwhelmed by love for your partner, though
  • A shift from a Couple to a Family occurs, and yes, they are different
  • Living with a newborn/baby is one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do
  • You will get nasty with your partner during those sleep-deprived months
  • You will become a card-carrying member of The ParentHood willingly, or not
  • You may understand your parents, and thus your childhood more
  • You may become a big fat softy
What were some of the things YOU wished you'd known about??

I guess I'll do a Part 2 of this for the little tricks and gadgets no one ever told me about since this is so damn long.

6.17.2009

How we roll

The city of Austin sent out notices a couple of months about a free
Eco-friendly toilet program. I signed up for it immediately, of
course, and registered for two toilets.

When the official paperwork came in we had to pick them up within days
and have them installed by a certain date (I'm not sure how they'd
check, but I didn't want to press my luck).

After a bit of a rabbit chase to find the warehouse I secured
approximately 8 boxes - 8! - housing various parts of two toilets and
plied my mom and Terry with two night's worth of food if they'd come
help us - er, Anthony - install them.

(Anthony's in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica this week, so I
knew I had to act fast to get it all done before the Toilet Police
came knocking to check if they were installed yet.)

I'm happy to report that installation went off without a hitch.
Unfortunately, in Anthony's haste to install toilets, entertain in-
laws, and pack for an international trip he plopped the old toilets
just outside our back door (for the record I don't blame him). Which,
besides their surprising sight from my kitchen, wouldn't ordinarily
bother me, however, imagine my intense embarrassment when I had to
explain their existence to the AT&T guy yesterday; forget the AT&T
guys digging the hole in my backyard (long story) who'd been walking
by them for 4 days.

*sigh*

Maybe I shoulda played it off as extra seating??


6.16.2009

Declaration

I've learned a few things over the past week like:

Life can be simple.
I can relax.
I can find entertainment and creativity in really small things.
What is most important - lo, worthwhile.
How to feel energized (and it doesn't involve the computer).
That I create my own stress.
That I need to get a grip with the blog thing.
What I want my days to be like.
Anthony can sometimes say things I know he'll wish he hadn't and then he'll apologize.
I have an intense hatred of any recent image of myself and then an equally strong emotion about my hatred.
Hollis is perfect in every way.
Life is joyous. And life is bullshitty.
There are more important things than laundry.
Time really does heal all wounds... but do I want it to?
I'm a freak when it comes to kitchen skills.
I'm mostly pretty happy.
I want to quit Twitter - and will.
I really, really, really want to be easier on myself.
I enjoy my husband's company immensely.
My mom and Terry are so very kind to us.
I wish I saw my friends more.
I wish I was pregnant again already.
I sleep like a champ when I wear earplugs.
I have love for a lot of people.

And this is a short list. It's amazing what happens when things go still. Last Wednesday, after a self-inflicted blog/internet/social-media absence, my internet went down. Friday, we lost our TV due to the digital TV switch (and AT&T U-Verse's ineptitude). Yesterday I lost my iPhone to a mysterious ailment rendering me utterly without technology other than the radio and my telephone... the kind with chords.

I'm sorta sorry I have internet again...

I liked the feeling of being on my own, not responsible for anything other than my own amusement and that of Hollis'. I wasn't supposed to be checking in to any social-media thingy, I wasn't supposed to be leaving comments anywhere, I wasn't supposed to be writing new posts. I say "supposed to" because it's how I constantly feel and it's me giving myself stress... and why? It's utterly ridiculous.

So, I'm going to go back to basics: Write when I feel like it. Leave comments on friends' blogs when I feel like it. If I suddenly stop commenting on your blog or emailing you back or not responding on whatever social-media thingy it is we're connected on it's not because I don't care about you or what you put out there anymore. It's because I should care more about what's right in front of me and not what's on the computer. I really do. And it's time I started giving it the respect that it deserves. It's my fucking LIFE, after all. (God, I hope that doesn't sound awful and rude... I so don't mean it that way.)

That's my Declaration of Blog Independence. I hereby am taking a permanent break from you, Blog/Internet/Social-media Beast that you are. You may sleep with whomever you choose while we are on this break and get as engrossed and involved as you care to. We are free of each other. I no longer will allow thoughts of you to creep into my every move or thought. You will be attended to when I feel like it. When Hollis feels like it. When Anthony feels like it. I will check in with you in the mornings and evenings only. It is only right that my real life loves get my attention. I vow to use you like gravy: sparingly, with some apprehension about my arteries and intense enjoyment of its lovely richness.

I hear my little man stirring from his morning nap and thus this post must be ended sooner rather than later.

xo

6.08.2009

The header decision has been made

In the end, it came down to these two:

GRANDMA & HOLLIS SET:
Option #1:

and

HOLLIS ON MAH BELLY SET:
Option #2:

Obviously, I liked the Hollis On Mah Belly one better (I like the colors).

And now that that decision is made I'm going off the grid for a week. I'll only be checking email and working on some personal projects. I suspect I'll have a bunch of catching up to do on all my favorite blogs (you know who you are).

Thanks so much to everyone who took a moment to vote and/or leave comments. It's greatly appreciated! I hope the new header makes everyone smile!

THANK YOU!!

Mama Notes
Loulou's Views
One Krusty Mama
Velosnaps
Cave Mother
A Pocket Full of Buttons
Design it Chic
Blues of a Waxwing
South Meets South
That Design Gal
A Leaf Less Ordinary
Ben & Krystal
Noble Savage
Unexpected Art
From Mom to Mom
City Girls Blog
Evolving Mommy
Cream of the Crop
It's Gravy, Baby!

ChaLEAN Extreme Review: Burn Phase - no air humping


I'm getting a lot of hits from people searching reviews of this program. If you find my review helpful in anyway, please leave me a comment or ask me more questions if you have them and go here if you'd like for me to respond. Thanks!

Here's my Push Phase Review.
Here's my Lean Phase Review (includes final results).
Here's my Turbo Jam Review.


This workout series is NOT for the faint of heart. It's an ass kicker.

After 5 weeks of the Turbo Jam workouts which are mostly all cardio I decided I needed to add some weight training to my regimen. My body was responding well to the TJ routines in as much as I had become pain free, but I wasn't losing any weight (that could also be due to my diet, but that's another topic for another day) and I know from my past as an athlete that I respond really well to resistance training.

Enter another lazy Sunday afternoon and another well placed infomercial. (I've never bought anything off the TV before all this. I'm beginning to feel like a royal sucker.)



::SYSTEM OVERVIEW::

The whole ChaLEAN Extreme system is big. It comes with 7 discs (learning DVDs including weight training, band training, and kitchen makeover, 5 workout DVDs, and a motivational CD), a training book ("Muscle Burns Fat (tm) Guidebook"), and a diet book ("Fat Burning Food Guide"). And when I say "book," I mean a book with glossy pages, photos, no typos, and thick. It also comes with calipers to measure your body fat. Also included is a resistance band (which is NOT intended for anything but added resistance for lower body work).

:: One of the things I am enjoying most about this system is that it lays out my workouts for the next three months (90 days), so I never have to wonder what happens after that first month (like I did with Turbo Jam). There's also a guide for maintaining your results.

Also, the Guidebook gives you a place to mark your weights and number of reps so you can keep track as you progress. WoWY.com also has a .pdf file you can download to track your weights/reps, as well.

Chalene's broken down the three months into three phases: Burn, Push, and Lean.

In the Burn Phase your goal is to "fail" in 10-12 reps and you work both upper and lower body in combo exercises. The Push Phase you attempt to fail in 6-8 reps and only one body part at a time is focused on. And last, the Lean Phase combines upper and lower body work with core work. The claim is the Lean Phase is where dramatic fat loss is witnessed. Lean for Life shows you how to maintain all your hard ass work.

:: Some people have complained that Chalene's "cheerleader" like enthusiasm in her Turbo Jam workouts was a turn off, but rest assured that in her ChaLEAN Extreme routines she's far more "down to business." She does a great job in educating you about your position and what not to do. She also sets a great tone to keep your motivation up.

:: TIME ::

Circuit
workouts are approximately 30 minutes each and are the meat of the system. The Burn Intervals & Ab Burner/Extreme Abs workouts total about an hour, as do the Burn it Off! & Recharge combo. Burn Intervals is a combination strength- and cardio- training that alternates bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. Ab Burner & Extreme Abs are 10 minute workouts that uses weights to work your middle. Burn it Off! is high intensity with light weights and approximately 30 minutes long and Recharge is a yoga-esque streching routing that lasts 20 minutes.

:: TO START::
  1. Buy weights. It wasn't clear to me what kind of equipment I needed right off. In the Muscle Burns Fat (tm) Guidebook there are some guidelines for weights (you can either get bands or free-weights), but the bottom line is buying weights/resistance bands is another investment. You can go weightless for a time, but I'd assume only if you're at the very lowest of your strength levels. Currently I have 3 lbs, 8 lbs, 12 lbs, and 15 lbs weights and I consider myself at above a beginner level, not quite fully intermediate. As I get stronger I will have to fill in the gaps with the 5 lbs, 10 lbs and + 15 lbs weights, which sucks for the pocket book, but I guess I'm willing to do it. It's cheaper than a gym membership.
  2. Watch the Burn Basics DVD.
  3. Get a pen and your Guidebook or rep sheet.
  4. Grab a towel and some water.
  5. Pop in Burn Circuit 1 DVD and go!
A typical week in the Burn Phase looks like this:
  • Day 1 - Burn Circuit 1
  • Day 2 - Rest (this is critical because of the intensive weight training of Circuits 1 & 2 - you can add a cardio here, but don't do back-to-back Circuits)
  • Day 3 - Burn Circuit 2
  • Day 4 - Burn Intervals & Ab Burner
  • Day 5 - Burn Circuit 3
  • Day 6 - Burn it Off! & Recharge
  • Day 7 - Rest
(The Push and Lean Phases are identical in schedule.)

::BURN PHASE CONCLUSION::

:: I find the weekly schedule to be challenging, but also doable. I really like how each Circuit (hard weight training) is broken up by either a rest day or a different kind of workout. And the like I said before, it's an ass kicker.

:: I find the Burn Interval workout to be the toughest and the Recharge a welcome recovery. During anything that uses a weight I usually find myself laughing at the end of a set because I really can't move my legs or my arms. And because of this, I don't suspect that just anybody could do this workout. I'm about 20-25 lbs overweight, but I consider myself fairly strong and I seriously struggle to do many of the exercises. If I were +75 lbs overweight I don't know that I could safely do the routines without risk of serious injury. But I could be wrong. I'm not a trainer, it's just my own thought on it. So, if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, you might want to start with her Turbo Jam series to lose a few pounds and gain some core strength, then graduate to this program.

I just completed Week 1 and I feel great. I experienced some really intense soreness after the first couple of days, but I expect this week to be a little less sore in general. I'll update again at the end of the Burn Phase.

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6/28/09 Update: After completing the Burn Phase I am totally pain free. I am considerably stronger and I feel tighter. Week 1 was by far the most painful soreness-wise. After Week 1, I experienced soreness, but it was manageable. By Week 4, I had increased all of my weights and was able to do certain exercises (like the "Free Throws") to completion, whereas in the beginning I could get to about 17 and then had to stop. I was also able to add a "on my toes" push-up each week each time we had push-ups, but was never able to do all of them in that position.

And here's what you really want to know: I've gained 10 lbs over the last month (not something I usually do - I'm a 1-2lb kind of girl). And nothing in my life has happened other than this workout. I'm eating the same, stress isn't bad, health is tip top (I just had a physical), so I have to assume that it's muscle. I have to PRAY that it's muscle under my fat! I can see more definition in my thighs and my arms, I just can't see any other muscle due to my fat sticking around.

My clothes are actually fitting a little tighter, too, so it's not just the scale. My mom and husband have both commented that I seem "curvier," which is fine, but it'd be nice to be slimming down, too. But, like I've said before, I'm going to be VERY patient and just wait for the end of the 90 days. I've done a lot of research online and lots and lots of women have had the same experience: no weight loss, then it melts away in the Lean Phase.

It's important to note that in Week 3 I started watching what I ate more closely, eating every 2-3 hours if I could, but I wasn't all that consistent with it, and I was also drinking wine regularly. I should be eating 1400-1600 calories a day, but I was probably averaging closer to 1600-2000. My eating habits may have contributed to not losing any weight. We'll see as I progress and shape up my diet in the coming weeks.


[Ed. note (5.6.10): For those of you curious about how this all ended up, go to my Lean Phase Review for results. Also, I started it all over again and am currently in my second week of Push, and still loving it! This time around I have NOT gained 10 lbs, due mostly (I think ) to really watching what I eat. No significant weight loss, however, just amazing muscle tone in my arms and feeling firmer all over. I can do push-ups like nobody's business this time around. I'll post a re-cap post in 7 weeks or so when I complete the Lean Phase again.]

6.07.2009

One day left to vote

Wow, so I'm shocked more than just my mom and sister voted. Thanks, peeps!

It looks like there are three favorites emerging, but it's still any header's race.

Please pass it on to your friends!

Here's what you do: Vote for your TWO favorites (there's a poll in the top right side-bar). One from the Grandma & Hollis Set AND one from the Hollis On Mah Belly Set. That's TWO votes per person. Then, if you want me to include you on my Thank You List, please leave a comment so I know who to thank!


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HOLLIS ON MAH BELLY SET:
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6.04.2009

When life happens to lawns

In the summer the combination of long hours of sun and frequent thunderstorms creates the perfect environment for my southern lawn to grow like the "Feed me, Seymour!" plant. And there are rules to cutting your lawn: too short and the scorching sun burns it, too long, and you're mowing twice a week. There's a sweet spot with the mower setting, apparently.

My neighbors to the west have a predilection to butcher their lawn to the point of burning big patches every summer. They replace it with sod, but they don't seem to learn their lesson. And I don't really care what my neighbors do with their yard, honestly. They mow their side, we mow ours.

Now, let me just take a moment to say that I am not a gardener. Nor do I particularly like lawns. I think they're a waste of water. Sure, they look pretty, but I like xeriscapes just as much and there's nary a blade of grass to be found in those.

Generally speaking, the lawns are Anthony's responsibility. I'm sore for days after I mow, but he's been traveling like a maniac and he's been sick for going on 7 days. Suffice it to say, our lawn is, well, lush.

I actually think it's quite beautiful. It's a thick, forest-green carpet, dappled with sun from the giant oak above it. Its blades sway with the breeze. Neighborhood animal flock to it, their inner lions beckoned to the deliciousness of camouflage and surprise.

The other day I found my neighbor's cat hiding in the tall Suburban Bush of my front lawn. Stalking, I presume, grasshoppers.

When I came home that afternoon, I found Digby basking in patch of sun, in a hollow of grass, reminiscent of that scene from Bambi:




A couple of days pass and I'm feeling liberated in the fact that I don't care if I mow my lawn or not. Screw the neighbors. They don't know what's going on in this house, how hard I'm working to keep things running with a bed-ridden husband and a stir-crazy toddler. I am my own woman! I don't care what others think!!

Then... yesterday my neighbors whose yard is connected to mine buckled under the pressure and they did this:


Do you think anyone will notice???

6.02.2009

I can't make up my mind...

I need your help, friends. As you might have noticed, I can't decide what I want my blog to look like. I have a basic idea in mind: something clean and organized.

I like colorful backgrounds, but I have yet to find one that really fits (and that's totally free), so, I'm going to go back to basic white.

With that in mind, I can't decide what new header to have.

Will you guys vote for you favorite?? I'd be MUCH obliged :)

And sorry to be constantly changing shit up on you. I've yet to come across another blogger who does this to their readers like I do hahaha.

Here's what I want you to do:
Pick your favorite from each set, then I'll pick between those two... or put it to another vote. There's a poll up on the right side bar where you can vote.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

PS: I'll give a shout out to everyone who votes. Be sure to leave your name in the comments if you want one.

GRANDMA & HOLLIS SET:
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HOLLIS ON MAH BELLY SET:
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6.01.2009

Only 19 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days ago...

I remember my parents saying, "You don't understand. You're not a parent," and being so pissed. What kind of statement was that, anyway? Usually, it was to cut off any discussion about being told "No" to some request or in answer to my objections to some boundary. Occasionally, it was also used to explain their devoted, blind, ridiculous love for me (primarily, this was my mom talking).

No matter how fat or stupid I felt she would always tell me I was beautiful and wonderful and smart as hell. When I looked at her like she was fat and stupid she would simply say, "You don't understand. You're not a parent. You are perfect to me."

And thus, I finally get it.

Almost 20 months ago I became a new version of myself. I bore unto this gloriously fucked up earth a tiny human being solely dependent upon me and my body. His existence hanging on my resourcefulness and resilience; my survival dependent upon Anthony's support and encouragement. We became an entity other than us. No longer were we just "Jessica and Anthony" we became a Family, lo, became family.

That was also the day I became a one-woman cheering fan club. There is nothing that Hollis can say or do that I don't think is bloody miraculous and painfully cute.

Each day and week that goes by there's something new:

A month ago he began saying two-syllable words and my head exploded with glee. He's a freakin' genius!

Two weeks ago he began eating with a fork. What cunning and coordination!


Last week he began singing absolute nonsense, but for the sheer joy of hearing his little tiny alto voice rise and fall inside his chest. I see music in his future!!

He's also begun making up words for things that all start with the letter "N." "Nana" is monkey. "Nya-nya" is motorcycle. "Naa-naa!" is cookie. "N" the letter that emotes in me me images of chocolate, dark tree trunks, and snugly blankets. How did he know??

I am convinced that he is smarter than me already. The other night in the bathtub I was asking him to point to colored sponge letters stuck on the wall. I would say, "Blue! Where's the blue one, Hollis??" and he would giggle as he pointed at every single color but blue. He'd giggle harder each time I'd say a tight-lipped, clipped little, "No," to each incorrect point, his slick, round belly jiggling the water. *Ahhhh, I really will need a heart transplant at some point, I'm sure... it's too old and withered to withstand this kind of frenzied love intoxication - or maybe I should be worrying about my liver??*

His mercurial ways, instead of putting me at odds with him, actually serve to draw me closer. I want to be his shelter during his emotional storms. I want him to rely on me to be solid and unafraid of what he can dish out. I am a rock in the river of his baby currents. A few days ago he blithely let me cut 16 toe and fingernails only to decide the last 4 were absolutely off limits. I would back off and read him a book then give it another go, but nope. He was done. And therefore our grooming session was kaput, as well. Ok, dude. I'm down with that. I'll just have to remember which 4 were left and start with those next time, I guess. I wasn't pissed. I was more amused than anything else. In a world that doesn't extend past those dangerously long toenails he's got to have control over something. And I'm the woman to give it to him and give it to him lovingly.

And that's the lesson that's on the heels of experiencing this LOVE thing; I have patience out the freaking wazoo and I finally get why my mom tortured herself with horrifically long hours both in and out of the home. Things have come into perspective like never before. I know what's important now: Without a doubt my family comes first in the world, as it is for most mothers. It's an object of attention, other than ourselves, that is as rewarding as anything else I can imagine. It's more important than the whole universe outside of me. Everything starts with the family, after all. Everything.

Giving Hollis shelter and love and providing a stable, caring home in which he grows is an enormous source of pride for me, and I think, for Anthony, too. We came from homes that were less than ideal. Neither of us had a clue what a successful partnership or family looked like. We're making this up as we go along, but goddamn, it sure feels good. I think we're on the right track.

It's hard to believe this transformation in me. I feel so different from the woman I was. I used to worry so much about other people and what they thought of me, and while I still have my moments, the amount of concern and the duration I gnash on it has really diminished. I find beauty and wonderment in before me every day. It paws at my thighs for a lift up and pats my ample rear followed by peals of laughter. It comes in for a "nose kiss" and shrieks running around the house when the "potato-potato-potato" rumblings of the motorcycle in the garage vibrates the house.

This was going to be a post about all the new things Hollis has been doing lately, but it's morphed into an homage to him and his spirit and their affect on me.

So, here's to you, my sweet, little baby. You are magnificent. I want to always remember that at this age I can just barely wrap my thumb and middle finger around your upper arm. You don't like to snuggle, instead preferring being carried on my hip when you need some time with Mama. You drink "milk" like it's going out of style. You race to your zone and shut the door when I ask, "Hollis, do you want a cookie?" You are infatuated with Grandma and Grandpa.

You often prefer one or the other between me and your father, and push the offending parent away with a shout of, "Neww!" You love dragging things around the house like laundry baskets, buckets, my box of stationary and the trash can. You have decided that wherever Digby is he should be somewhere else and you whack him awkwardly and push him with all your might until he complies. You lose your shit when you get to play with the hose. You are obsessed with flowers.

You hardly ever wear onesies anymore. You have begun making "motor" noises when you see a motorcycle. You are cautious and deliberate with your body and what you do with it. You are eating more sophisticated things and regularly eat at restaurants with us. I think you'll be right-handed.

You are still taking two naps (thank God), but sometimes get by on one (booo). You adore your Aunt Larry as if she were a giant cookie. You cluck, quack, meow, whinny, roar, moo, coo, and bark. You are no longer cool on airplanes. Sometimes, for reasons unknown to me, you wake up either crying or giggling. You like to swing on every swing at the park one right after the other until they've all been swung on. You "read" to yourself.

You demand to eat whenever we enter a grocery store. You are honest and wise and very, very funny. And last, but not least, you snore.