Reflections on my chaotic life of minivans, tantrums, deadlines, and diets ... a life I wouldn't trade for the world.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I am not a political person. I am ashamed to admit that I rarely read up on the issues, and filling out my ballot in Oregon was a labor-intensive task; I'm still not sure I voted the "right way" on some initiatives. But I do know a few things about our president that guaranteed my vote was going his way:

My sis (right) and her wife holding my daughter
In the next four years, I can be comfortable knowing we are only moving closer to my sister's marriage to be recognized in the same way mine is. I know few couples, gay or straight, whose love is as strong as that of my sister and her wife. And as I await the arrival of my new niece or nephew (any day now!), I also can't think of two people more suited for parenthood.

I also know that my right to choose will be protected for another four years. My children are my life, my world, and terminating a pregnancy is not something I would ever consider at this point in my life. But that is my choice, just as it should be another woman's choice to end a pregnancy because of rape or other factors that I know nothing about. It's not my business, and it shouldn't be the government's, either.

I am not sure Obama can turn our economy and healthcare around in the next four years, and I really hope he can, but at least I know we aren't moving backwards.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Update on Diastasis

Well, after 3 weeks of sitting at my desk and in my car trying to discreetly flex my transverse abdominal muscles, I am happy to report that my diastasis is down from 3 1/2 fingers to 1 1/2 (1 is considered "closed"). I am not out of the woods yet--my posture still needs work (apparently, I am a tail-tucker), and I still occasionally fall back into old, slouchy sitting patterns, but I've made a big improvement.

Now if only my new internal six pack were visible on the outside ...

Monday, October 8, 2012


As many of you know, I have been suffering from lower back pain for the past few months, and from sciatic pain on and off since my first pregnancy. I've tried everything from rest to massage to exercise, and nothing has relieved the pain. Exercise only made it worse, so my frustration about the pain was compounded by my lack of ability to reduce my stress through exercise. I became an immobile ball of stress.

A few weeks ago, at my first chiropractor visit, I was told I have diastasis recti. This came as no surprise, having birthed two behemoths. What did surprise me, after some research, was the correlation between the diastasis and all of my other symptoms: lower back pain, pelvic pain when running, sciatica. Basically, the muscles designed to hold me together were falling apart themselves.

Diastasis recti, before rehab and after
A friend referred me to The Tummy Team in Camas, WA, a group that specializes in diastasis rehab. I read their website, front to back, and decided it was worth their exorbitant fee to possibly feel better. I made a series of appointments with Kelly Dean, the founder and physical therapist.

My first appointment last week confirmed by belief that I'd done the right thing. The entry of the office in Camas has a store dedicated to new and expecting moms, complete with nursing supplies and natural maternity-care items. It didn't have the clinical environment I'd feared. Kelly walked out soon after I arrived and greeted me. After some initial paper work, we got started.

Kelly assessed my diastasis to be 2 fingers wide at top, 3 in the middle, and 3 down low. Basically, like a zipper that was only zipped down to my sternum. That meant she could essentially push into my internal organs with most of her hand, as the muscle was no longer there to stop her. I gasped at the size of the opening, but Kelly assured me it was not bad--she'd seen up to 10 fingers of separation (!!).

Self portrait
As a result, my upper body is essentially disengaged from my lower body. The "girdle" provided by the transverse abdominals was weak and not functioning, causing my body to behave like one of those inflatable promotional things at car dealerships. My pelvis and lower body is literally clinging to my upper body, using other muscles to try to hold it in place. I slouch when I sit because I have nothing holding me up. Enter, back and hip pain.

The first thing Kelly did was tell me to forget everything I'd learned about ab exercise. Crunches, planks, everything that caused those external ab muscles to contract, were useless and did nothing to strengthen the muscles that really mattered--the transverse abdominals. And crunches in my condition basically mean pushing my internal organs out of the wide opening in my muscles. Appetizing, eh?

Kelly then showed me simple things to engage the transverse without taxing my other muscles--ways to get into and out of bed, carry the kids, etc. I learned strengthening exercises to practice throughout the day while sitting up (straight) at my computer.

I also received an abdominal splint, which is basically a new-school girdle designed to make me conscious of how I go through my day. I can no longer lean over to pick up the kids; I have to use my legs to crouch. Hunching over my desk is out of the question.

So far, I can say I have no back pain, but then I haven't done much to test it out. I have 3 weeks until my next appointment, during which I will increase the strengthening exercises. While I may not have a six-pack at the end of these 5 sessions, I will have a core that can support my workouts and daily life. I am OK with that; I threw my bikini out after the second kid, anyway. ;)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Remastering the Master

I am stressed and exhausted. Like, all the time. Having 2 young children and 2+ jobs will do that to a woman.

Our house is also stressed and exhausted. It's in a constant state of chaos--the ever-present laundry basket full of clean clothes, the myriad trucks on all surfaces, and the Cheerios. So many Cheerios. I no longer look forward to going home. It's a place of anxiety, not a sanctuary.

So I have decided to carve out a little place of peace. One untouched by humans under 5 feet tall.

Our bedroom is probably the least chaotic place in the house, as it is, but it just isn't cozy. Sure, we have the nice Cal-king-sized bed, matching furniture, and decent lighting, but I want to feel as though I am visting a bed and breakfast on the coast when I finally retire to bed. To me that means lots of whites and blues/greens, fluffy pillows, and reading nooks that may or may not ever be used but would look darn good on the pages of HGTV magazine, my new favorite mag.

My first order of business is to try out some paint colors. The walls are currently a beige color, with off-white ceilings. I ordered paint samples from Home Depot, based on extensive online research of possible palettes, and on advice from my color-genius mother. They should arrive soon. Here they are (it just occurred to me how green these are--was hoping for more blue). The purple would be an accent color; don't panic, Bill.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Starbucks Reflections

I was kicked out of my house by the housekeeper, so here I am at Starbucks, listening to the usual 11:48am-on-a-Wednesday chatter.


  • Man coughing, productively and constantly, behind me
  • Well-dressed, society-type women wearing "Yes on 79" pins, talking politics (does anyone know what measure 79 is?)


  • The line going the WRONG WAY. You get one novice in here and the pros have no choice but to follow.
  • Obese man sitting in car outside of window eating fast food. Sad.

That is all for now.

UPDATE: Obese man just came in to order a cinnamon roll. Where is Michelle Obama when we need her?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

And So It Begins

Judging by the scale this morning, my wonderful post-surgery-and-other-ailments weight loss has come to a screeching halt. Well, it's probably been more of a rolling stop, considering I haven't weighed myself in weeks (too busy eating cookies and drinking beer).

Something like this
The good news is, a visit to the chiropractor yesterday inspired me to make some changes. I went in with back pain that radiated down my leg and around the front of my hip, causing me to have trouble walking and lifting heavy things, like my children. The chiropractor discovered four things:

  • Apparently, I put 70% of my weight on my right side. Who knew? 
  • I likely have inflammation in my hip sockets, also mostly on my right side.
  • My ab muscles are separated, thanks to pregnancy.
  • My posture sucks (I should have listened to my dad).
The doctor (?) gave me a couple exercises to do to strengthen my hip, and prescribed more water and acupuncture (clearly, a holistic approach) to make me generally healthier. And, as is par for the course for chiropractice, I am going back to see him next week to continue working on my decrepit frame.

I live vicariously through Flickr (OBX, 2007).
What all of this is caused by, we don't know, but I don't think my increase in weight and decrease in (read: complete lack of) muscle tone is helping matters. Evidently, I am not 25 anymore. When did that happen?

All of this leads to the point of this post: I need to shape up. More important than weight loss right now is my overall health, which I am hoping will lead to weight loss, but I am willing to accept that my pre-pregnancy figure may never return.

Unfortunately, my back pain means my usual activities (particularly the high-impact ones, like running) may be tough going for a while until I get my core strength back. I am looking for activities that will help me regain that strength, and I know many of you are thinking, "duh, yoga," but this lady has little time for such expensive frivolities, as beneficial as they may be. If those same people who are thinking yoga is the ticket want to come over and babysit, please let me know!

Coupled with my poor strength is a diet that is lacking in, well, a lot. Sure, I am lacto-ovo-pesco vegetarian, which on the surface sounds healthy, but *technically* banana bread from Starbucks is vegetarian, as is 2 lbs of pesto pasta.

I am also beginning to face the fact I have a sugar addiction (mmmmm Safeway cookies), so I aim to cut that out almost entirely. No, I won't cut out those "hidden sugars" like those found in pasta sauce--I don't have time to read labels that closely--and I have no intention of giving up my beloved beer, but I think I can do without the daily pastry.

So you heard it here first: Meg is on a mission toward better health. If any of you sees me at Starbucks ordering banana bread with my tall dark roast, please feel free to intervene. My decrepit frame will thank you for it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Open Water Hijinks

Last weekend I completed the 1.3-mile Swim Across Suttle Lake. It was my first non-triathlon open-water "race," and it felt good knowing that I could spend all of my reserves on one sport rather than calculating how much to hold back.

Unfortunately, my tank was close to E when I started the swim. Sunday was the last day of our Central Oregon vacation, and I had just spent six days drinking too much beer and eating too few vegetables. To add insult to injury, J spent the week fighting a cold, extremely dry air, and budding teeth; she did not sleep more than 3-4 hours in a stretch, and neither did we.

Our canoe on the Suttle Lake shore, 2009
At 6:15 AM on Sunday, after 4 hours of sleeping on the couch to escape J's coughing, I joined my swimming cohort, Sarah, on the one-hour drive from Sunriver to Suttle Lake. We eyed the car thermometer with dread: 45 degrees. Sarah, sadly, did not have a wetsuit. I, sadly, did have a wetsuit, but opted for solidarity over common sense and left my wetsuit in Portland.

We jumped into the 68-degree water right before the 8 AM start, and in the spirit of non-wetsuit badassery, we dove in as the "gun" went off. After 5 minutes of fast swimming. trying to escape the fray and feel my limbs again, I settled into a good rhythm. The point we were told to aim for did not seem that far off. "I can do this," I thought.

That point never got closer. In fact, it seemed to get farther away. And I'd found the loneliest spot in the pack--100 meters behind the faster group, and 100 meters ahead of the slower group. I was swimming alone, I couldn't feel my feet, and the point seemed miles away. Not to mention my lower back was aching, thanks to extremely out-of-shape abs, thanks to two years of childbearing. But I digress ...

Fortunately for me, swimming is easier and less taxing than walking. I just slowed down and enjoyed the views, knowing that I would get there--it was just a matter of time. As the sandy lake bottom came into view, I anticipated getting vertical again. My somewhat-numb body, however, lagged behind my mind, and I stumbled a bit as I stood up to cross the finish line.

My finish time was around 50 minutes, though official results have not yet been posted. I estimated I came in 4th in the category, based on the number of ladies on shore without wetsuits. Not bad for my first swim, and considering two out of three of those women who beat me looked to be in high school, I was pretty proud of myself.

So, I'm pretty hooked. I'm eyeing the 2013 open-water season, and have an informal agreement with some friends to swim the Portland Bridge Swim as part of a relay team.