Beautifully Marred by Dust

As a 35-year old, working mother of 2, the idea of setting a goal and achieving it is not new to me.  So when I gave birth to my 2nd child 18 months ago, I set a goal to lose the weight, get healthier, blah, blah, blah.  Like every woman in America it seems, I bought into this whole idea of what it means to be a perfect mother:  losing that damn baby weight.  Being the achiever that I am, I set a goal to try to get down to 18% body fat.  Why you ask?  Good question.  Before I get to that, here is what I did to achieve the goal. 

I am a pediatric nurse.  I work part-time in a pediatric gastroenterology clinic.  I also work on-call in the pediatric emergency room.  I can’t let my pediatric critical care skills lapse.  Plus the money is good and those gymnastics classes for my daughter aren’t going to pay for themselves.  And I love it.  I love being a pediatric nurse.  Anyway, back to the task at hand. 

On a morning I worked in the clinic, my day went like this:  wake up at 5am, run down to the coffee maker, make a cup of coffee (thank you keurig), throw gym clothes on, down my coffee on the way to the gym while rocking out to some good workout tunes, put in piece of gum on way into gym, work out for 45 minutes -1 hour, (doing a wide variety of stuff), drive home just in time for my husband to leave for work.  Sometimes I did this on 4 hours of sleep, sometimes when I got home my 5 month old would wake up, he was hungry.  Then it would hit me: I needed to leave for work in an hour.  During that time, I needed to breastfeed my son, shower, get ready for work, pump what remaining milk I have that my son didn’t drink so he has enough for the day, clean my pump supplies, entertain my 3.5 year old (think PBS people), pack lunch and the pump...that blessed, damn pump.  On my days off, I went religiously to the gym for an hour, but not at 5am.  So the story goes, I spent hours at the gym.  I also tried to eat healthy...healthier.  I ate a lot of those pre-packaged salads, drank a lot of water, I also ate “bad” food if I felt like it.   Just like all those other mothers had said, it didn’t come easy.

So now you may or may not know, I love setting and achieving goals.  Completed task lists, filled in to-do boxes on my daily lists, planned yearly events with my friends and family, spread evenly throughout the year in a uniform fashion to invoke just the right amount of chaos to make your insides churn a little, but not too much that you can’t have fun.  These are my things.  This is what makes me tick and tock.  I love to achieve, love to make endless dream lists, to-do lists, plan, plan, and more plan!  Am I making myself clear?  I am a planning, doing, and achieving animal.  The best way to get me to achieve a goal:  tell me I can’t have it.  You dirty little bitch, yes I can.  I am competitive.  I love to succeed.  There you have it.

Unfortunately in this instance, the only one who didn’t believe I could do it?  Me.  So I set out to prove myself wrong.  I know it sounds crazy, but we truly are our own worst critics.  So off I went.  One of the first big things I did with regards to losing weight was breastfeed, eat a lot of salmon, eat a lot of salads, and complete an 8K:  The Shamrock Run in Portland, Oregon.  15 months later, having logged more hours in the gym than I ever had before (thank you Club Sport Oregon), and one fateful surprise meeting with a new trainer, Jamie Tautfest-Bernabe, I had my paper in my hand that gave me my 18% body fat status.  One would think having made the achievement would have brought my mental state to super human, but for some reason, I was left feeling confused.  As I stared back at this piece of paper it didn’t seem to congratulate me, it seemed to mock me.  When I envisioned what I would look like at 18% body fat, some of the most elite athletes came to mind, but that's not how I felt when I saw myself in the mirror at my newly achieved 18%.  Had I really been out of the fitness world for that long that I had not known what 18% body fat looked like?  I was slightly horrified at my own vanity and stupidity, also at the expectation that I could waltz out with my 18% congratulations paper feeling as if I was Heidi Klum.  The thought occurred to me…”Did I get mis-measured?”  I decided not to believe that one for my own sanity.

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