If you read my article The Bridge a few months ago, then you know that lately I have found myself and my oldest child standing somewhere between childhood and adolescence. I have an important update. We finally crossed over the bridge.
Now, I know Santa didn't really die and Christmas is all about magic and magic is in our hearts and all that happy stuff. But, in that moment, when my oldest looked at me and asked "Has it all been a lie?", if felt like a death.
It started out like a normal Sunday. Actually, not really normal. We are in the beautiful space between basketball and baseball season where there are a small handful of days without practices and games. We invited family over and had a lazy day spending time together. But, while playing basketball in the driveway with his father and his uncle, my oldest saw an opportunity and took it.
The first one to die was the Tooth Fairy. Logic did that poor fairy in.
He asked them to tell him about the Tooth Fairy. He and some of his friends had talked and compared notes about her and the numbers didn't add up. Some kids got $1. Some kids got $2. Some kids got $5. Some kids got $10. So, he asked for confirmation that the Tooth Fairy was "just the parents doing it."
He's 11 1/2. They told him the truth.
It quickly unraveled from there.
A few hours later, as we all were settling into bed, my oldest seized another opportunity. He stood at the foot of my bed as I snuggled under the covers. I was feeling safe and cozy in my fuzzy socks with the warmth of a few Jameson cocktails settling into my blood. He took advantage and said "So...if the Tooth Fairy isn't real, how can any of it be real? Has it all been a lie?"
I'd feared this moment since the very first time we talked about Santa with this child. I had practiced it over and over in my head. I had bookmarked great articles and saved suggested letters and activities to help tell the children the truth. It was going to be perfect!
As soon as the question left his lips, I could feel an uncomfortable smile creeping across my face. Damn it! Why do I have to smile and giggle when I'm uncomfortable?
"Mom!!!!! You are the worst liar!!"
That's it. He just crossed over The Bridge.
He and I went to his room and laid down side by side in his bed where I told him everything. By the end of it, I was crying and he had tears in his eyes. To say the truth broke his heart would be an understatement. With every question I answered, I could see him slipping further away from the childhood version of him.
We cried together and every few days since then he has asked another question about it all as he tries to fit this new information into his understanding of the world. While I am excited to have him take on some of the magic by helping keep Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and all of their friends alive for his brother, I find that he and I are grieving.
Someone once told me that children are gifts we have for 18 years and then we have to set them free. That was two years ago and I realized then that I was already halfway through my "gift." I thought time was moving fast then but it was nothing compared to how quickly it is moving now.
Suddenly we are here, on the other side of The Bridge and I find myself looking back at the childhood side, more aware than ever how short The Bridge actually was for us and knowing that somehow the journey across The Bridge will be even shorter and quicker for my younger son. Now, more than ever, I want to freeze time and live in the moment, being thankful for each day I have with my children while they are still children.
For more articles on parenting, click the links below:
Now that I am Getting "Me" Back, I have been much more mindful of the concept of balance in my life. For many years, I have grappled with the age old question "Can we really have it all?" While I tend to believe that we can, in fact, have it all, I don't necessarily think we can have it all in total balance all the time. In other words, sometimes something has to be focused on a little less so that our other needs can be addressed. Recently I was reminded via Timehop of how important tracking my macros used to be to me from a physical standpoint and I realized that macros are a great metaphor to how to balance life.
So, what are macros?
I'm sure there is a scientific explanation for macros but you won't find it here. In my experience, macros are components of nutrition - namely carbs, proteins and fats. They are elements that make up the food we eat. Our body needs carbs, proteins and fats each day to help it function at its best. When I was working out 12+ hours/week, my body always functioned best when my average daily intake of food was 40% carbs, 30% fat and 30% protein. Other people's ideal macros may be different. It took some trial and error and experimentation to determine what was best for me. Was I perfect every day? Hell, no. But, it sure felt good when my pretty little macro pie chart was perfect. There was no denying that everything just clicked when those three elements were balanced in the way that worked for me.
So, how does this relate to life? Easy. What are your life macros? What are the components of your life that each are good in their own way but need to be balanced in order for you to function at your best? In other words, what makes up YOU?
My macros include my various roles in life: psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, professor, mother, wife, friend, healthy woman and pet owner (perhaps pet collector?). Are all of my roles equally balanced each day? Hell, no! Are there areas which need to take more of my attention or fill my life more than others in order for me to feel whole? Absolutely!
Are you ready for a small homework assignment? (Sorry, sometimes my CBT and professor sides start to show). Grab a writing utensil and piece of paper. Or, open up a new document on your computer.
1. Make a list of your life macros. Who are you? What is important to you? What are your various roles? What makes you YOU? Write those down.
2. Assign a percentage to each of your life macros. How much of your attention and focus each week gets directed at each macro? Be honest. This should be how things get distributed on average each week, not how you want them to be distributed. Don't forget about your elementary math skills - these percentages need to add up to 100%
3. Are there things that are missing from your list? Things that make you YOU but you are not giving attention to right now? Add those to your list and write "0%" beside them.
4. Draw a pretty little pie chart of your life macros so that it reflects the assigned percentages.
5. Take some time to reflect on your chart. How does it feel? Is it accurate? Are you proud of it? Do you wish it were different? If your pie chart is perfect and you feel totally balanced, bravo! Store that chart somewhere handy and refer to it regularly to make sure you are keeping your life macros in balance. If not, read on...
6. After you have spent some real time reflecting on your macro distribution and chart, make a new one - one that reflects your ideal life macros. What would your ideal life macros be and how much attention would they receive?
7. Now it's time to create an action plan. What would it take to be able to shift your current life macro chart to your ideal one? What small things can you do today to help get your macros moving in a way that works better for you?
Spend some time evaluating your life macros and seeing how making some adjustments might move your life to a more balanced and satisfying state.
For more blog articles on self-care, click on the links below.
If you read my most recent post, Getting "Me" Back, then you know that I have recently started using Isagenix products to help me reach my health and wellness goals. Here are the results of my first week with Isagenix.
I have done Beachbody's 3-Day Refresh before and always loved how I felt. In fact, each time I have done that program, I would finish the 3 days and want to do more. So, once I made the decision to try Isagenix, I was ALL in. I began cutting back on my junk food, went back to limiting dairy, gluten and sugar and cut back on alcohol and snacking. I figured this prep work would make a smoother transition into Isagenix and avoid some withdrawal symptoms. I took my measurements, weighed myself and set up my phone apps to track my weight, measurements and photos.
I did some research on the facebook support group for Isagenix and with my Isagenix coaches. I also consulted my good friend, Google. I decided what day I would start and planned out my cleanse days around my work, school and sports schedules. I made my grocery list and saved daily calendars and tips to my phone's photo album so they would be easily accessible. Then, I began to stalk my order via FedEx. (There may have been a not so kind phone call from me to FedEx after I saw that my package had just been sitting in a warehouse for 3 days). I readjusted my schedule just in case my package did not arrive in time. When that FedEx man arrived on time though, I almost ran out of the house to hug him.
Shake Day 1
I weighed myself first thing in the morning - partly because I become addicted to the scale when focused on my health but also because knowing that i have to step on that thing each morning makes me more accountable. Isagenix actually recommends only weighing yourself weekly but I am breaking the rules because I believe it is best for me. Turns out my preparation had resulted in a 3.2 pound weight loss over the period of 2 days. This really just got me back to where I had been stuck for a while, weight wise.
So, onto Isagenix:
Each day begins with one scoop of Ionic Supreme dissolved in water. My internet research had found that some people don't like the texture or taste. So, some people dissolve it and drink it like a shot, others drink it like a glass of juice and others dissolve it in hot water to enjoy it like tea. Since I am almost always cold, I opted for the tea route. Boy, was I surprised. My 11 year old smelled it and turned his nose up at me but I took a sip and instantly fell in love. It truly tasted great. A little fruity. A little sweet. A little bit of a kick. It tasted great.
Because my work schedule is so crazy, I am no stranger to protein shakes for breakfast. I had ordered the chocolate version and was afraid it would taste not great. But, again it exceeded my expectations. Yes, it's a bit chalky but it's not very sweet which I really like. I added ice cubes to mine so it was a nice thick shake. It kept me full and fueled for my solo trip to Target and through some very emotionally charged psychotherapy sessions with patients.
As for shake #2, I did certainly prefer to have the shake blended in my Nutribullet vs in the shaker cup but I'm used to protein shakes and how the consistency can be a bit wonky at times. If someone is sensitive to texture, they may want to have their two shakes at home and have their fork and knife meal out so they can blend the shakes.
I had no adverse reactions to the two accelerator pills that I took during the day. I had some almonds and cucumbers for snacks during the day and for dinner had chicken, veggies and brown rice. I had a little bit difficulty sleeping that night but I think that was due to work stress and not the products.
Shake Day 2
No weight change today but I did wake up feeling good and looked forward to my Ionic tea. Day 2 was uneventful except I was hungry after my dinner of sweet potato, chicken and broccoli. I think I might not have had a big enough serving. I had a small 100 calorie snack after dinner and that helped the hunger.
Cleanse Day 1
The day I was both dreading and looking forward to started off with a surprising weigh in result - another 1.6 pound loss for a total of 4.8 pounds in just 2 days of clean eating on my own and 2 days of Isagenix. The bonus was that I had just blasted through a plateau where I had been stuck for months.
I wasn't sure what to expect with the Cleanse for Life (CFL) liquid. I added the 4 oz to about 8 oz of room temperature water and found it very pleasant. It sort of tasted like a watered down fruit punch. Not too sweet which is good because I don't really like sweet drinks.
I did get nauseous about 20 minutes after the CFL but thought it may have been due to taking my daily medication with it. An Isadelight cured my nausea right away. I decided to take my medication tomorrow with some food and not just the CFL.
I made it through the rest of my morning without needing any food other than one Isasnack. Enjoyed my second CFL but then was nauseous again. Needed two Isadelights this time to quell the nausea.
Right around this time in the day - around 1pm, I noted that I had lots of energy, clarity and focus. I have a 40 page manuscript due by July and have not opened it in over two months. I found myself able to sit and make some serious headway on it with more focus than I have had in a long time. I also did that while sitting in a Starbucks smelling all the warm sandwiches. (I should say Starbucks had not been in the original plan but a very last minute cancellation of an appointment left a gigantic hole in my schedule).
The rest of the day was really easy and uneventful. I expected to feel hungry at bedtime but was not hungry at all. In fact, I had to keep double-checking the Isagenix Cleanse Day instructions to make sure I wasn't doing it wrong. But I was right on track and fell asleep feeling pretty damn proud of myself. :)
Cleanse Day 2
I woke up on the second day of my cleanse feeling absolutely starving. My scale showed another loss of 2.6 pounds for a total of 7.4 pounds. I had my Ionix Supreme first and that actually quelled the hunger. In much of my research on Isagenix, I read that many people found the second day easier than the first. I felt the opposite way. Cleanse Day 2 was definitely more of a challenge for me. I noticed increased hunger but drinking water certainly helped. I managed to sit with my family while they ate turkey burgers and sweet potato fries and although I sort of wanted to steal their food and run away, I also wanted to finish these two cleanse days super strong. The hunger seemed to be the most challenging during the middle of the day which - coincidentally - was the part of the day when I had nothing happening and had fewer ways to distract myself. I fell asleep quickly without feeling hungry at all.
Shake Day 3
The scale showed another loss of 1.1 pounds for a total of 8.5 pounds. The morning was easy. I looked forward to my ionix as a hot tea and enjoyed a delicious shake. I found the middle of the day difficult again as I was hungry. But, it was a Sunday and we oddly had no sports or family activities scheduled. So, we were home and had the day off.
For my first fork and knife meal, I was craving mexican food so I opted for some baked chicken fajitas (homemade seasoning) with lettuce as the tortillas. I also had some cauliflower and brown rice. i felt awful after I ate. I felt like I had eaten two large pizzas. In retrospect, I probably had too large of a serving. Although it was a typical and normal serving size, I think my stomach was a bit shocked. Lesson learned - first fork and knife meal after a cleanse day should be small.
Shake Day 4
No movement in the scale which was a huge victory for me. I had been expecting to gain all the weight back once I started back on shakes and food. I found I felt great throughout the day. Things that typically annoy me didn't seem to bother me so much and I was craving a good workout. After work I went home and did 30 minutes of Zumba to my Zumba playlist and felt great. This was probably the first time I had worked out in all of 2017.
Because I wasn't sure how I would feel working out, I prepped myself one of the Isagenix AMPed hydrate drinks for after my workout. The packets made two servings so I left one in the fridge. When my husband came home from his run, he looked and felt awful. He pushed himself and felt shakey and nauseous. I offered him the other serving of the Hydrate and it totally did the trick. He wants me to buy him some of it now :)
Shake Day 5
Still no movement on the scale. But, it's ok. I woke up in another great mood, feeling good about myself and finding my clothes feeling better. Since I am on spring break from teaching this week and didn't need to leave at the crack of dawn for work, my husband and I decided to have a breakfast date after the kids went to school. This would be my fork and knife meal for the day. I had a veggie omelette made with egg whites and swiss cheese with a side of has browns and bacon. Let me tell you, I felt awful for the next 6 hours. Truly awful. I don't know if it was the size of the meal, the cheese, the white potatoes or the bacon but my stomach was not happy. I felt full and bloated and gross.
I once again felt like working out after work so I did a 30 minute circuit routine of upper body, lower body and ab work. Felt great.
I felt pretty awful again from about 90 minutes after my workout until I went to bed. I don't know if it was the breakfast still, the workout, too few calories, the fact I sat in a building where people clearly smoke cigarettes for over an hour or a combination of all of the above but I did not feel good. I felt sick, tired and run down. I realized it was the first time I had felt like that in over a week.
Week 1 Results
My scale was up a bit this morning - 0.8 pounds. Honestly, based on how I was feeling during the day yesterday, I was expecting it to be up more like 2 pounds. Prior to Isagenix, my weight would easily fluctuate about 2-3 pounds/day. I also realized this morning that I am about midway through my lady cycle and I usually tend to bloat and gain weight around now. So, I don't feel discouraged by this morning's loss.
So, after one week with Isagenix, I have had the following results:
If you are interested in learning more about Isagenix, now might be a great time to give it a try as they are offering $30 off for new customers. Feel free to leave a comment, send me an email or visit http://jennibrennan.isagenix.com/ for more info.
This blog is a hard one for me to write. It feels like defeat. It feels like failure. It feels like I am opening myself up to some pretty harsh criticism. But, I am writing it because it is helpful for me and, perhaps, may be helpful for someone else too.
When my second son was born, I reached my all time high - on the scale. It was a shocking number which I will not share here. But, it was huge. Needless to say, it motivated me to lose the weight and over the course of the first 6 months or so, I dropped a significant amount of weight by following Weight Watchers. But, then I plateaued.
Still determined to find a healthier me, I changed my perspective, began counting calories and really looking at the quality of the foods I was eating. I also found Zumba. Then I found Bodypump. Then I found Spin. Then I found running. I essentially moved into the gym. I was there for at least 2 hours daily at least 6 days each week. Sometimes I would find myself having done 8 or 9 solid days in a row without a break. I was addicted. But, I had lost over 150 pounds since my youngest son was born. 150 pounds. That's a whole person!
Yet, it took it's toll. At different times along the way, I developed tendonitis in my calf, re-injured my knee and injured both my wrist and my elbow. I developed some neurological concerns which required me to halt my exercise for a few months. In addition to the exercise taking its toll on my body, it also took its toll on my children as they often would tag along with me and spend those 2 hours each day in the child care room. They were bored and frustrated. I often missed their sports practices and sometimes missed part or the entirety of their games so that I could get my workouts in.
In finding a healthier me, I lost sight of myself as a mother. I hadn't found balance.
It was too much. But, that was depressing. I had made a life for myself at the gym and connected with some wonderful people. I missed them. I felt left out. I l felt like a loser. I felt judged. So, I comforted myself with food. I cut back on my at-home workouts. Quite quickly my bad habits came back. Over the course of two years, I gained back nearly 50 pounds.
Even when I was able to exercise again, I couldn't turn back to the gym with the same fervor I once did. Eventually I came to accept that and began to view the ability to spend more time with my children as a gift. Besides, I knew that my greatest weight loss always came when I was eating clean - no gluten, limited dairy, no processed foods, no added sugar. I knew what I had to do but I just couldn't make it work.
Over the past few months, I could feel myself needing another change in perspective. I knew my body needed a reset. I could feel it. I needed a do over. I needed to get back to being me. And, I needed to do it without marrying the gym and causing myself more harm. I needed to respect my physical limits. I needed to find a way to be me - physically, emotionally, professionally and as a mother.
So, I have decided to give Isagenix a try. Even just typing it out feels like a dirty secret. Yes, I opted for a program with protein shakes and supplements and days of fasting/cleansing. Yes, it costs a lot of money but really no more than I was spending already on take out and fast food. Plus, shakes are hugely convenient for me as I work somewhere different each day and have only a few minutes to eat in between classes or patients. Plus, it feels like what I need.
I decided to invest in myself this month and see what happens.
My goal with Isagenix is to reset my body and to unlearn my bad habits. My hope is to balance out my hormones so that I can delay that hysterectomy looming over my head. I would love for my joint and muscle pains to get better so that I can get back to heavy lifting and do more than the 5 and 10 pound weights I have at home. I would love improved sleep as well as improved mood. Ultimately, I want "me" back.
It's not going to be easy. It means a big change and it means trying something new. it means being judged by people who think I should "just eat real food" or "just work out." It means owning that those things aren't working for me now and that is ok. What I need is more important than how some people may view me.
As I move through these first 30 days, I will be blogging about my experience, the challenges I face and, hopefully, my successes. I have spent time researching the program and have been connected with what feels like a good support system. I have taken my measurements and submitted my before photos. I am ready to hit reset on me.
Here goes nothing.
UPDATE (CLICK HERE FOR MY REVIEW OF ISAGENIX WEEK 1)
About Changing perspectives...
I often find myself encouraging people to consider changing their perspective or reframe the way in which they view things. This blog is an extension of that practice and is also an opportunity for me to write from a number of different perspectives including clinician, educator, mother, friend and supervisor. Blog topics are also quite varied and changeable. Topics explored include, but are certainly not limited to, grief, parenting, health and wellness and relationships. Join me and explore a number of changing perspectives!