Apropos of Nothing.

by Alexa on January 23, 2014

Today when I left for work it was 15 degrees below zero, with a windchill of -36. Schools were closed. Scott’s practice was closed. I have a cold, and have developed a pronounced limp (my Dilettante’s Thigh seems to have worsened). I also had no clean work pants, my work wardrobe being still in the larval stages, and would be braving the elements in tights—sweater tights, but still. “Stay home,” said Scott, “Really. I don’t think you should go.” And yet, I sniffled and limped through my morning ablutions and by 6:05 a.m., I was off. Legal publishing, you see, marches on.

And also? There are no children in my office.

I know. I know! I am the WORST. Look, in my defense, I did have work to do, and I was out on Tuesday because there was no school, so going in was the responsible thing. Those cross reference queries aren’t going to resolve themselves! And I am trying to save my sick days because I know I will need them eventually, children being what they are (a-brim with pestilence), and I am trying to save my vacation days for actual vacations, which I fully intend to start taking now that I have paid vacation days.

I know the novelty of having my own little office out in the world will wear off, and I love my weekends and look forward to them as I haven’t in years and years, but it was with a shocking alacrity that I leapt out the door this morning (understanding that this is a figure of speech, because my Dilettante’s Thigh does not allow for leaping), and I feel guilty about it. Though it should be noted that by lunch time I was ready to be done for the day and heartily regretted choosing work when I could have spent the day at home playing with Simone’s Rainbow Loom and eating sleeve after sleeve of Ritz crackers. Morning Alexa is far more gung-ho about work, in general, than is Afternoon Alexa. Afternoon Alexa is not really gung-ho about anything except the prospect of removing her bra and making herself a champagne cocktail.

Speaking of exercise-related injuries (we were, briefly, in the middle of that last paragraph), every time I cough I clutch at my abdomen like I’ve been shot, so that shouldn’t attract any undue attention in meetings at all!

And as long as we are talking about my latest quest to be built less like an actual brick house, My Fitness Pal is high if it thinks it is sustainable for me to restrict my calories to 1240 per day. Look, “Pal,” I am doing my very best. You are going to have to work with me, here. It doesn’t seem fair that my brutally difficult, if also blessedly short, weight session only nets me an extra 50 or so calories. Does it seem right to you that exercise difficult enough to cause a person to make unfortunate cow noises should be so unrewarded? Do you know what I had for lunch? CHICKPEAS. (They were delicious, but this is hardly the point). Netting just under 1400 calories a day is the best I seem to be capable of, at the moment. I need some small measure of joy in my life, and if you were really my “Pal,” you would understand this.

Last night, apropos of nothing, Simone told us about Slavery. “A long time ago, before Martin Luther King was born, people did Slavery,” she began, solemnly, causing me to choke on a piece of chicken. Scott and I kept making wide eyes at each other over her head (Is this happening? I mouthed at him) as she continued to explain how it worked, more or less (FYI: a mom and dad could have to work for someone else—hmmm…as I type this out it does not sound terribly distinct from our current arrangement, a detail I should probably clarify with her), and then, before we’d gotten our bearings, she’d moved on. We did manage to stammer out a few lame questions and responses, and I think we made it clear that we are definitely NOT fans of slavery, but it was over so quickly! Another teaching moment squandered.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret January 23, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Ooo switch over to LoseIt! Free, but also gives you the option of changing your goal weight loss. So you can program it to lose 1.5 pounds a week (giving you that much-longed for 1400 calorie limit). And I do agree, 1240 a day is HARD. My theory is that 3500 calories = 1 pound. So an extra 160 a day is doing very little in terms of actual damage.

Simone and Slavery made me laugh so hard. Not Slavery, of course, but wow, I love conversations with kids.

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Kristin H January 23, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Isn’t it always like that? “Mama, why do some kids gets sick and die?” “Well, um, no one really knows–” “Hey look at this potato chip! It looks like a taco!”

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Swistle January 23, 2014 at 8:02 pm

“A long time ago, before Martin Luther King was born, people did Slavery”—-HA HA HA HA HA!

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Jen January 23, 2014 at 8:22 pm

I get 1270 calories per Lose It these days. It makes me shockingly cranky, though today’s 150 wine calories have quieted the diet rage slightly. And! This is to lose just 1 pound a week (thanks, crap thyroid!).

I like Simone’s concern about slavery…my son has now got its meaning down, enough that when I threaten to sell him, he shrieks “it’s illegal! It’s slavery! You can’t do that!” Sometimes education ruins all my fun.

Best of luck staying unfrozen!

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jen January 24, 2014 at 8:46 am

Oh do not feel bad about relishing going to work. I stayed home two days this week with a very sick and clingy baby and when the older child spiked a fever, I looked at my husband and said “Your turn” and gladly went to work.

Regarding your Pal, I think depending on what you are doing for your exercise, it might be more likely to fall under Circuit Training. I did a TRX class, which is weight training, but it was incredibly difficult and sweat producing and I also over heard some of the other ladies in the class discussing how many calories they burned with fancy little calorie burning tracker things. Any who, after adjusting for my height and weight, I think Circuit Training was more accurate for intense body weight sessions.

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Heather January 24, 2014 at 9:02 am

You are very funny!

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Kristin January 24, 2014 at 9:09 am

When you are feeling guilty about going to work, you must remember the rest of us working moms who are SO very glad that you are at work, posting away. Alexa In An Office is by far my favorite thing to read on the internet lately. Also, being at work while you are sick is practically a vacation in the Caribbean compared to staying home with young children while you are sick. We have three kids, ages 7, 4 and 20 months, and my husband and I fight over who has to stay home with the kids during all of the too cold to go to school days we’ve been having this year (we live in Madison). It is lovely to be with them on the weekends when we are all together, but man, one adult to three kids is not a good ratio.

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SarahB January 24, 2014 at 9:12 am

Sometimes when things are going crazy at home, I dream of my desk.

Seriously, though, you made the right call. Scott’s office was closed, yours was not…obvious which parent gets to stay home. Sometimes it’s nice when outside forces make the decision for you.

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Megan @ Mama Bub January 24, 2014 at 9:50 am

So apparently my kid’s teacher tried to make slavery relatable to the kids by saying, “What if I said only kids with green shirts could go outside at recess?” As he’s relating this to me, he says, “But don’t worry mom, my shirt was green so I could go.”

But… that’s not really… I mean, is it OKAY that kids got to go outside JUST BECAUSE their shirts were green? That seems pretty unfair, right?”

“Can I have more ketchup?”

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Megan @ Mama Bub January 24, 2014 at 9:53 am

NOT SLAVERY, ugh. I was reading and typing at the same time. SEGREGATION. Am idiot.

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Wendi January 24, 2014 at 10:11 am

Oh, I hear you on the low calorie thing! I was doing 1200 calories a day and I did lose weight, but then I hit a plateau and even gained 2 pounds. (boo, hiss) I did some reading and realized those sites (MFP, Livestrong, etc.) give you way too little calories per day. I entered my calorie goal manually (it’s 1,450 now) based on my BMR and TDEE. I did some reading and realized I was eating at a dangerously low calorie level. So you might want to check it out — find a BMR calculator, or read the thread titled BMR and TDEE Explained for Those Needing a Guide in the My Fitness Pal forums. It’s so nice not to be hungry all the time!!

I loved Simone’s explanation of slavery, BTW. Kids are awesome. :)

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Audrey January 24, 2014 at 11:08 am

The worst thing about MFP and other calorie trackers is that once you start losing weight, instead of throwing confetti and cheering “Congratulations! You lost weight! Here, have some extra calories to celebrate!” they actually do the opposite of that. “Oh, you lost weight? Great, let me take away some of those daily calories you’ve been working so hard to stick to. FEWER CALORIES FOR YOU, SKINNY MINNIE.” I can’t help but feel like the app is punishing me for doing the very thing it asked me to do in the first place.

And yet, those damn calorie trackers are consistently the best system for me to use when I want to lose weight. So I keep going back, and they keep punishing me for achieving my goals.

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KeraLinnea January 24, 2014 at 11:18 am

I’m giving Lose It a try right now, but I’ve been on MFP forever. I hate tracking with a passion, but the only time I’ve ever lost weight quickly (relatively, that is,) and consistently is with tracking. As much as I’ve loved MFP, Lose It does seem to offer up more realistic calorie goals. Also, the lack of a community on Lose It is a plus. There are some serious whackadoodles posting on MFP, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a judgier community, outside of The Stir.

In related news, I not only have Dilettante’s Thigh, I have Dilettante’s Ass. That was a brutal workout yesterday, and I was depressed to find it only landed me 150 extra calories.

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Cindy January 24, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Love that you are back writing regularly here.

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Ann January 24, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I work in nutrition and would agree with you that your Fitness Pal is not giving you a sustainable number of calories, nor in my humble opinion is 1400. A pound or two of weight loss per week is best achieved when you do it very slowly, as I’m sure you know. This is best achieved by not stressing out your body. The human body is so smart that it WILL figure out ways to make up for your calorie restriction if it’s too low. Slow and steady and a few fewer calories and more exercise and the weight will come off.

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AJP January 27, 2014 at 2:08 pm

I have been reading you since Simone was born, and it is just wonderful to see you back here (semi-regularly…? No pressure, of course). Long live work outside the home for the sense of liberation and the sense of self and the sanity it can restore. Also, I haven’t laughed out loud at such brilliant writing since I read Cold Comfort Farm back in the summer – thank you for playing with language so well.

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Heather M January 28, 2014 at 11:51 am

I also think that 1240 calories is an inhumane number, but I think that’s typical for My Fitness Pal. This calculator may give a better estimate of your actual total energy needs http://www.health-calc.com/diet/energy-expenditure-advanced.

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Colleen January 28, 2014 at 3:22 pm

My 5-year-old daughter came home and announced that they had learned all about MLK and the ‘Silver’ War. “Um, Civil War?” I asked (civilly). “No, Mommy!” was the emphatic response. “The SILVER War. Also, I learned about how people had to go to different schools because of their skin color.” When I attempted to tactfully explain that as, um, white people, we were not the ones who didn’t get to choose their school, I was shot down again. “No, Mom. Everybody had to go to a different school, depending on the color of their skin.” Which, if you think about it, is one way to describe school segregation, I guess.

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Lydia January 28, 2014 at 3:54 pm

I just snorted/laughed so loudly at the last paragraph. Thank god my officemate has already retired for the day.

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Sarah January 29, 2014 at 9:15 pm

I also use My Fitness Pal, and I mostly like it. If it makes you feel any better, my family doctor told me that there is no research that supports cutting calories to less than 1500/day to lose weight. When I stared at him in disbelief and asked incredulously, “Even for women?” (I was remembering how often a diet told me to eat 1200 calories/day), he nodded in what I felt was a very convincing manner. I think keeping under 1400 is a cause for celebration and parades and speeches in your honor.

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Jill January 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm

People still do slavery, and there’s nothing wrong with it if they are grown-ups and have a safe word.

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Sarah January 30, 2014 at 7:10 pm

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Funniest comment I’ve ever read. EVER.

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