I cannot believe another month is almost in the books, which means that my eldest son’s high school graduation is only a few weeks away. Holy moly! I don’t know if I am ready for the whirlwind of May.
Before we say goodbye to April, however, I wanted to take a minute and recount a few things that I learned this month. They range from the mundane to the (mildly) significant, and I hope you discover something worthwhile among them.
1. Those Weights Should be Heavy!
I have been working out with a trainer in a small group setting for the past seven months. Nearly every time I begin a circuit of exercises, my trainer, John, watches for a minute and says, “Those weights look too light.” Most of the time, I tell him they are just right because they start to feel heavy after about ten reps. “OK,” he half-heartedly responds,”But you make it look easy.”
Last week, I finally asked him to tell me exactly how heavy my weights should feel because I didn’t understand why he kept telling me that I needed to lift more. He explained that they should be heavy from the beginning of the set, not only towards the end. If the first ten reps are easy, the weights are too light.
“Don’t pick weights that will feel perfect on your last set,” he said. “You can always decrease your weight towards the end if you need to. Start with heavy.”
Good to know.
I may live with constantly sore muscles by heeding his advice, but I will surely build more muscle (and hopefully lose more fat) that way, which is the goal. So I’m in!
2. Will Power is My Friend
With all of this working out (3 days of weight/circuit training at the gym and 1-2 days of hiking per week), I have been hoping to slowly lose the 15 or so pounds that have crept on over the past couple years, thanks to my slowing metabolism. In six months, I lost nothing. Nada. Zilch. So I decided to do a no sugar month in April to see if that would jump start things a little.
Easter came and went, and I did not eat one Cadbury mini egg, which happens to be my favorite candy. I passed up strawberry shortcake, my favorite spring treat. Twice. At multiple social functions that featured dessert, I did not eat one single bite of sugar-laden goodies.
I am pretty much super woman.
The scale hasn’t moved much because my body REALLY loves its set point. But I will take the 3-4 pound weight loss because one pound per week is a sustainable amount. The only thing I have given up is dessert, which means that I have been enjoying plenty of other delicious food and haven’t been feeling too deprived.
I do miss chocolate and ice cream, which I may introduce on a once a week basis once the month is over.
3. French Women Don’t Get Fat
I recently completed a six-month-long culinary class where I learned classic French cooking techniques. My instructor, Chef Pascal, was born and raised in France, where he learned to cook in the kitchen at the Ritz hotel.
As I sat in his class week after week, watching as he prepared food with loads of butter (almost an entire stick in two large mashed potatoes), cream, and wine, I wondered how he and his French counterparts could eat such rich and calorie-laden food while avoiding the obesity epidemic that plagues America.
Pascal was not shy about sharing his opinions on such matters, but I wanted to hear it from a woman’s perspective. So I read the book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano, a French woman living in America.
Here are a few of the things she taught me:
- French women eat smaller portions of more things. American women eat larger portions of fewer things.
- French women don’t eat “fat-free,” “sugar-free,” or anything stripped of natural flavor. They eat the real thing in moderation.
- French women eat with all five senses, making less seem like more.
- French women eat with the seasons.
- French women don’t snack all day, but they do eat three full meals.
- French women eat for pleasure and avoid associating food with guilt.
- French women understand that the pleasure of most foods is in the first few bites. They rarely have seconds.
- French women don’t diet.
- French women walk everywhere.
- French women drink water all day long.
These principles are common sense, not scientific, but they obviously work, so I have been trying to apply them. I still have a long way to go, but getting a taste of classic French cooking in my class made me want to live like the French in the realm of food. It seems like a wonderful way to enjoy mouth-watering cuisine without stacking on the pounds.
I highly recommend the book if you are up for a common sense approach to diet. You can buy your copy here.
4. Being a Stage Mom is Serious Business
And I am not very good at it.
My two girls have been rehearsing several times a week for the past four months to get ready for their middle school play. At their school, drama is a big deal. They have an incredible teacher who puts together productions that are better than many high school shows I have seen.
They had three performances this past weekend, and they were all fabulous. But helping backstage was no joke. The world of costumes, make-up, and hair is way outside of my wheelhouse. Especially the eyeliner. I cannot draw a straight line to save my life, particularly when outlining an eye with black makeup. And don’t even talk to me about red lipstick! It might end up all over your face if you ask for my help.
I feel sorry for my girls.
When other girls in the cast asked me to help them with their eyeliner, I broke into a cold sweat as I told them I would try. They must have seen the fear in my eyes and opted to get help from the make-up moms, of whom I was clearly not a part. Thank goodness!
I can herd kids backstage with the best of them, but please don’t ask me to put on makeup!
That about sums up my April. What did you learn this month? Share in the comments section below.