My Fitness Pal - a great diet tool

So, I saw a photo of me a few weeks ago and didn't realize for a minute that it was me. Yes, it was that unflattering.

Something must be done and now.  I asked around at my favorite online homeschool mom hangout and noticed many were talking about p90X -a series of hard-core video workouts.  I decided this is for me; But first, I needed to get up off the couch and do some kind of exercising, because doing p90x straight from couch-potato status probably would lead to my quitting exercise all-together.

Know thy enemy: My enemy is myself.

I went ahead and made an account over at Beachbody (publishers of p90x) and found an online coach (another homeschool mom)  I asked my coach about counting calories, something I haven't ever attempted because I know I would stink at it... She told me about My Fitness Pal - which is a really cool smartphone app and website.  I don't think calorie counting was ever this easy or addicting.  I think of it as my own online video game...of sorts.

You can sign up for an account, it will ask you for your height, weight, sex, level of current activity (does walking to the computer and fridge count??) and your goal -weight loss, maintain, gain?  The site will then calculate how many calories a day you should be eating to make your goal.  The neat part, as you enter in everything you eat, it subtracts calories and lets you know how many you have left for the day.

This is diet journaling at its finest.  It's sadly eye-opening to realize how much junk you stuff your face with, and how little 1200 calories is compared to what you have become used to.  [ahem]

Your smartphone app and desktop will synch, which is really cool- if you are out at a restaurant, you can add to your food diary and even look up dishes to find nutritional content and to help you make a healthier choice.  I love that when you look up food items, they are usually already in the database with all the nutritional information already entered.  I also love that it remembers all the things I eat, and so, since I am a creature of habit, I can easily check off foods I've already entered as I eat them. You can also scan food packages with your phone and the information will pop up. How cool is that?

The online video game part?  You can sort of bargain for calories.  Go for an extra run, enter it and My Fitness Pal will add extra calories you are now allowed to have.  It's a if I get up off my butt and run I can have a bigger dinner?  Yes. Maybe.   I've discovered that at least for me, adding the extra calories slows my weight loss to almost nil, so I am staying with the base 1200 calories and not entering in my exercise.  But...if I really wanted dessert, I might play the game once in a while :)

The diary also keeps track of your water intake...I really need this.  With my anemia, I am often dehydrated - my hands often look prunish- like after you get out of being in water for a long time, except I haven't been in water.  And yet, I don't drink enough water.  Having the prompt on my screen is helping me to make sure I drink water.


You can make a profile at My Fitness Pal, track your weight and eating goals and make friends.  If you have an account (which is free) let me know in the comments and I will send you my username if you'd like to friend me.

So far I've lost 5lbs.  It's such a slow race, kind of frustrating.

So, internets, any fitness advice?

*not a sponsored post

the homeschool mom and the horrible, bad day

I am not the super classical homeschool mom I'd like to be. But, mostly I manage to keep it all spinning. Mostly.  Thursday was not that day. 1st, let me set this up by saying that something a little bit more heavy then my usual plague of procrastination has hit me.  I'm suspecting it's my anemia.  I honestly sit here with things I have to do, and think..."eh...don't wanna"  and, I don't.  I raise my hand and admit I have a problem with procrastinating, but this feels different.  It's like I can't muster enough feeling to care.  For a while, I was thinking it was depression without the sadness...I just don't know.

I can sum it up and just say that lately, I've just sucked.

Here was my Thursday, in all it's Jenn-worthy moments.

How [not] to be a super homeschool mom.

5:10 a.m.  Sky wakes me up because we have to hit the road by 5:30 to get him to LAX.

5:18 a.m.  I finally emerge from my two-comforter thick /flannel sheet cocoon and face my reality. Upon opening my eyes, an anemia headache hits me.  I swallow 2 advils on the way out.

5:45 a.m.  We hop into my minivan and I attempt to warm it up. I announce to Sky that we are definitely moving to Hawaii. No more 40 degree mornings. Ever.

5:48 a.m.  Sky notices I have no gas. We take his truck instead

6:30  a.m.  drop Sky off at LAX.  I hate this airport. Anemia headache says "hello" I manage to get out of the loop alive and find my way back to the 405 freeway.  I somehow get home, my right eyebrow feels like it is drooping over my eye and I fight the urge to vomit.

7:20 a.m.  make it home. Bonus student will not arrive till 8:15 so I take 2 tylenol, an iron pill and crawl back into my bed. Think about the P.E. worksheet I need to construct, that I should have done on Wednesday but can't think. Must lie down.

8:15 a.m. Teddy arrives. His mom asks me about the p.e. worksheet, but I cannot muster a coherent reply.  Still must vomit, so I crawl back into bed.  The kids amuse themselves till I crawl out again at 9.  I take Meg to her Biola Star classes.

9:30  a.m. headache is gone. I get through Math, handwriting and grammar with the kids. Josie needs help finishing her composition class assignment.  I also have to grade her grammar.

11:30 a.m. make lunch for the kids, read an historical fiction chapter to the kids, take Josie to her Biola start class. I have forgotten about the very important P.E. worksheet I need to do because my charter school teacher needed it Monday. Or was that Tuesday? Or was it really Monday but I figured a day late would be okay? But now it's Thursday....

11:45 anemia headache hits full-force. Was on my way to get gas after dropping off Josie but now must get home or else vomit at gas station.  Having vomited in such places before, I decide I don't like being mistaken for hung-over college girl (I don't drink, but strangely this has happened to me several times-vomiting in public places;- coincidence or cosmic joke? can't decide) realizing that I am now too old to be mistaken for hung-over college girl tips the scale in favor of going home.

12:15  I down two advil, two iron pills and lemonade for better absorption.  And water, because my hands are all prune-y.  It could be anemia headache or dehydration headache, best to cover both bases.  My parents arrive to drop off a present for Sky.  They stay to chat, but leave soon because I am such rotten company.  (It's hard to be pleasant when you want to hurl and your right eyebrow feels like it is falling down your face)  magically my headache disappears 10 minutes after they leave. I feel like a jerk for not being pleasant.  I revel in how much better I now feel.

1:00 remember the p.e. worksheet I need to do. I open word and start working on it using notes from bookstore I took yesterday.

{{Here is the sorry story: the only portfolio sample I was missing at our last learning record meeting was p.e.  I am stymied a bit because I thought I was told I couldn't turn one in for anything the school considers too risky to pay usual boogie boarding at the beach, tennis or -I thought- martial arts will not be accepted.  Last month I turned in a short paragraph about running.  But I thought I was told I couldn't do running again since we did it last time. (I was wrong, by the way).  So, I had a book handy with a chapter on sports safety and warming-up, so last week I typed up a simple worksheet with a word bank for the kids to fill in. Easy.  Monday I could not find them. Kept looking, didn't panic, I lose things all the time....Tuesday I was supposed to give it to Teddy's mom to take to work to scan and email in. Still couldn't find it.  By Tuesday afternoon my afternoon schedule kicks in and all logical thought is lost....  Wednesday is my easy day. Still can't find so I decide to type up a new one. Now I cannot find the book.  I spend 2 hours cleaning, thinking I will find it. Nope.  Get the bright idea to go to Barnes & Nobles and find book there and take notes. I do this, order a nice gingerbread latte, by the way, and take my notes.  I come home, start the evening dinner crazies.  After dinner, I stare at my computer, thinking "I don't wanna..." and then end up reading a book out loud with Amie.  Go to bed.  Loser.}}

1:30  pick up Josie and Meg at Biola, get home and finish up worksheet that is now really late. I am trying to wonder how I will get it to my charter school teacher because my scanner isn't working. I decide I will take a photo of them.  My headache resumes.  I take 3 tylenol, some lemonade, an iron pill, a handful of 60% bitter chocolate chips and pour a diet coke- just to cover all bases.

2:30 must leave for art lessons for 4 youngest.  worksheet is finished and printed, but ran out of time for the kids to fill them in.  While driving, my charter school teacher calls, it goes to voicemail. Did I mention that I had an early email from her that was uncharacteristically curt?....

2:50 have dropped off kids and arrive at bagel shop for my forbidden chocolate chip bagel with strawberry cream cheese.  Decide I have to call charter school teacher back, because I shouldn't make her feel like I am avoiding her. But I kind of want to now. (Avoid her) Decide to call her from inside bagel shop because my hands-free calling thing in my car makes it impossible to actually use my phone inside my car.  I know, I try not to live an ironic life- but I can't escape it.

3:00  I sit down with my lovely bagel and diet coke and decide it is too noisy to call her back.  I decide I will call her back as I am leaving, out in the parking lot.  I reflect that this can turn out badly if she calls first, because then I would really be avoiding her call.  I go the path of least resistance and eat my bagel and read my latest Anne book.

3:05  you know what happens, right?  Busted.  She sounds really ticked at me.  I don't blame her really. But, ouch.  Somehow my rambling explanation of loss, bookstores and typing sounds really lame.  She tells me I can just have the kids draw a picture and write about running or one of their after school classes. Really? Ok.  She's really mad at me.

3:45 pick up kids,  hurry to piano lessons at 4.

in between piano drop-offs, sit the kids down and have them write about Irish dance class, martial arts and modern dance respectively.

I realize my headache seems to be gone for good.  Being on someone's crap-list seems to be a cure. who knew?  maybe it was the adrenaline rush.

that was my stellar day. When homeschool moms go bad....


Anemia Diaries part something...

My Wordless Wednesday was put up kind of late this week, I really hate it when I end up past the first 100 entries over at the WW hub...this week I was something like #510. Well, I didn't get my photo posted because I was just dog-gone tired and cranky last night. Sky could tell you, but I know he won't because he is just a stellar guy like that.

So why the uber-cranky mommy?? Uh, because when Sky is gone I fall apart- and he and Meg and Josie were gone for 9 days on a trip. They went to Washington State to visit our close-heart friends in Seattle, and then they went to the eastern part of the state to visit the family who stayed with us in December, and then over to Sky's brother's family. I didn't go, because- biggest reason- the cold. Since I know I have Raynaud's disease- I have a good reason to stay away from snow. And it makes me cranky. And it makes me cry.

So, I digressed there, didn't I? Anyways, when Sky is gone I basically live on chocolate, bagels and chips with melted cheese- and stay up till the wee hours of the morning because I cannot sleep with him gone. My strategy is to stay up till about 2 a.m. then pass out into a deep sleep.
So, it was a recipe for iron- pill- taking disaster. Now I'm cranky and tired. So, now back to my iron pill taking...while he was gone I was only taking one a day. It just helps somehow, as I reach for my 3rd diet see him lift an eyebrow at me, so I put it back and pour a glass of cranberry/water- which is more conducive for vitamin/iron taking-

They had a wonderful time, spent quality time with our heart friends and their kids...they met some new homeschool families, and went sledding. Meg and Josie saw their first snow-fall.
Sky was treated to lots of/and really good food, cooked up by his brother. Good times all around, the two littles did lots of fun stuff with me. Meg and Josie seemed taller and older to me when they returned for some reason.

good times all around. oh, and I got to rent chick-flicks. :)

Random blogging

More skater shots...this looks way more skilled then it was in reality, yet it did stop my heart for a second there...

This was our second week of skater phys-ed, we went on a different day of the week..and our two boys (Demi-Sky and his cousin) had the skate park to themselves!

I know it is probably hard for those in other parts of the country to fathom, but it was 80 degrees here yesterday and today.

Yesterday I was inspired to clean off our front patio and wash the front windows. I think spring cleaning was in the air...

I haven't been able to attempt anything like that for a year or two now. I am really feeling much, much better now that the iron pills are kicking in and doing their thing, because, you know- red blood cells are good, blood volume is good, too- and so is oxygen being carried to all the cells in your body. Just a little thing, really.

I was amazed at the job I did on the porch and windows...but, irony abounds in Jen's world-didn't you know? I felt pumped with energy, but by the time I quit I was out of breath and wheezing from asthma. It's just a party with me lately. I had a case of hives Friday night and Saturday, too.

I'm kind of going with a plague theme here.

And I couldn't take any benadryl the first night, because I was alone with the kids and only had adult capsules...which with my low blood volume would have knocked me out. I finally scored some children's benadryl Saturday evening when I could no longer stand the itching. Hive-less is actually refreshing once you experience it again.

I think I have invented Barnes & Nobles -schooling. We went back tonight, after taking a weekend break...don't want attract too much notice, sinister mom-type that I am...
I've got a new technique with the homeschooling...go on into B & N, snag the low kid's table up in the children's a few reading lessons with our Phonics Pathways book...then go and buy some hot chocolate for the littles and a mocha for me...then read aloud a few books that will fit into literature studies and history or social studies...write them down. Just mixing it up a little... (and the library doesn't serve mochas)

I sat with Amie and read "Goodnight Moon" to her. I can recite it, it was the book I cuddled my babies to right before bed, every night. I guess maybe the tradition was more sporadic with Amie, because she didn't really remember it. I read it to her tonight and misted over, being a mom is so sweet sometimes.

Finally, I have to tell you that Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Mini Pretzels are the bomb.
And, addicting.
Chocolate, carbohydrates and salt- it's the perfect food!
The only way to improve it would be to use dark chocolate.
I'm going to have to go back and get a second bag. Just saying.

Here's my wild child.

Don't ever change, sweetie.

The anemia diaries part 2

Well, I've been on iron pills for a few weeks now, I think it's almost 3 weeks. I'm taking 2 iron pills a day plus a prenatal vitamin that has iron. I went in for more lab tests a week after my Dr. visit, a week later because I got the flu or something, and then asthma. (the fun never stops around here).

I've also allowed myself to nap now when I get overpoweringly tired. I am feeling much better, and I've seen some improvement in my thinking abilities.
After the first week on iron pills I stopped asking Sky -4 or 5 times in a row if he had locked up the hens each night.

I think I am thinking better...and yet I have a fear that it is all somehow me, and that my scattered-ness will not ever go away..maybe I am just an airhead!

I was talking to Meg's violin teacher a week or two ago about this, because I had gone to the lesson 15 minutes late- thinking I was early!! (not unheard of in Jen's world) -and she mentioned that a few years ago she had been anemic and had taken iron pills...I came home really depressed, because as she was telling me this, I was searching my mind for a time when she was scattered, or forgot lessons or other things I do- and I couldn't come up with anything, and I've known her for many years.
I had this panicky feeling that maybe it's just me and not the anemia at all.

On the positive side,I have noticed that my lack of balance is gone, and this horrible sense of extreme dizzyness in the dark- that is gone. My Dr. also gave me a prescription for my Raynaud's syndrome...I'm not real sure how I feel about taking medication for it... I'm going to have to google the medication after I get it filled (and can actually read the name...of course I can't read what he wrote!).

My interest in educating my offspring had perked...I am thinking seriously about adding to our studies, looking around for workbooks and whatnot to round us out. This was not happening much of this year, I was having a hard time getting out of bed before 10...After our homeschool open house things degenerated into survival mode- mostly math, some language arts, and handwriting were the things I clung to and purposed to get done, anything else was hit and miss and icing on the cake.
Intestinal issues are still undecided...I'm trying to not take the softeners very often and eating dried apricots but that is not going well. My default ambiguity gets me into trouble much of the time...

well, after all this rambling about me... I will tell you,
- go get a physical moms, you really can't afford not to.

The anemia diaries

I mentioned that I just discovered that I am really anemic. I always come up anemic, so I was prepared for that-it was the level of and the seriousness of that took me by surprise. It may explain many things, like why I am cold all the time (taking into account my circulation problem) and why I do things like this and this...and why I am always tired.

Wednesday found me on day 7 of taking 2 mulit-vitamins a day and fish oil capsules and day 4 of taking 2 iron pills a day. It also marked the beginnings of some rumblings in my tummy, which have marked the end of iron taking in past, I reached for the gentle, natural senna laxative I keep on hand for my little one.

Thursday found me locked in the bathroom all morning and a good part of the evening.

As I sat/(crouched) crying and cursing iron, (while trying to decide which end to point at the toilet) Sky, my knight in shining armor busted in, baring not red roses (would so not have been appreciated at the moment) but a red bucket (be still, my beating heart!) thus ending my undignified crouching dilemma. Moments like that really bring home the meaning of unconditional love. Then he took himself to the drug store to find something to relieve me.
He called his Dr. Brother, who enlightened us on the difference between laxative and stool softener.

To sum up:

Laxative- Bad
stool softener-good

I swore off iron pills for the rest of the day, until the next day when Sky talked some sense back into me. This is way more than you really want to know, isn't it? Gotta write what I live, friends.

All that time spent, ahem, reflecting caused me to wax poetic in my ponderings (in between the crying). I give you, internets- 2 haikus:

Anemia hunts
I wage war yet find
-cold, white porcelain


This coldness I fight
wage my medicinal war
et-tu laxative?