The Road Back to Badass

A few posts back I wrote about exorcising 2016’s demons and weight gain. I actually started gaining weight in 2014 during Esther’s pregnancy.  I always thought stories of expectant Dads gaining weight during their wives pregnancy was bogus, like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster—until it happened to me.

Over the past two years I waited for some kind of event or trigger to snap me into weight-loss mode.  Oddly enough waddling around after a hyperactive toddler and a closet full of tight-fitting fat clothes didn’t do it for me.  Three weeks ago, a bathroom scale saying 242.2 provided the much-needed wake-up call.

Make a Plan and Own It
– I’ve done many diets and weight-loss plans over the years, including Atkins, South Beach, and Weight Watchers, with mixed success.  I never, ever, not even once, wrote my goals down on paper or any form of electronic device before starting any of them.  Not until now.

The Good Men Project called me a badass because I’m over 50, run marathons, and am a first-time dad.  It’s been awhile since I’ve felt like a badass so getting back there that tops my list.  Losing 50 pounds is a close second. I also want to run another marathon, and cross the Empire State Building Run-Up off my bucket list.

I interviewed for my current job as at an art college in September.  For the interview I was unable to button the jacket on any of the suits — I have four of them.  My department is responsible for the school’s graduation ceremony in May.  I thought about buying a new suit but not any more.  My new goal is fitting into one of the suits currently sitting in my closet.

Find a Partner in Crime
– The minute I stepped off the scale, I knew who this was — she stepped off the scale about a minute before I stepped on.  Big goals seem daunting without having a partner with similar goals.  It makes things easier for both of you.

Misery Loves Company
– No I’m not talking about my marriage.  Three weeks ago Esther and I joined Weight Watchers — it’s an excellent program that’s worked for us.  Spending the first ten days or so detoxing, as our eating habits changed from pizza and fast food, to healthier foods brought some crankiness to our home.  Why do they insist on running commercials for cooking shows and burger joints the night before the weekly weigh in?

Set Short-term Goals – Finishing 12 marathons and two ultramarathons, taught, me to break a big goal into a series of smaller ones.  I break a marathon into three pieces, 13 miles, 18 miles, and the finish line.  Since my stating weight was 242 pounds, I wanted to get under 240 as quickly as possible.  After that I’m focusing on getting to the next five-pound increment.

Set Long-term Goals – After Thanksgiving I noticed many of my clothes fit way too tight but I refused to buy new ones.  Maybe it’s because I’m cheap, stubborn, or knew changes were coming after the New Year but buying bigger clothes seemed like surrendering.  My first goal is fitting into smaller clothes.  I’d also like to start running five-mile training runs, pushing Cristian in his jog stroller as I go, and racing again.  I have a ways to go before I get there.  For now it’s one day at a time, one step at a time, one meal at a time.

Esther and I after I finshed the Long Island Marathon. Running another another marathon is one of my goals.
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A Guy’s Guide to Picking a Daycare Center

Getting ready to go over the wall when he found out his daycare does not show CNN.

After Mommy and Me Class Esther and I talked about putting Cristian into daycare a few days a week so he could learn socialization skills playing with kids his age.  Working from home meant gathering Intel on the local daycare centers was another item on the Honey-do list.  I was in uncharted territory.

Becoming a dad at 50 and an uncle at 36 didn’t help.  I had no part of raising either or my nieces, a decision they’ll thank me for as they get older.  With no practice kid to make mistakes on, I was starting from scratch.

Since Cristian’s a one and done child we didn’t want to leave him with anyone, we wanted someone good.  Our ideal caretaker possessed compassion and sensitivity but was quick on their feet and able to handle anything he could throw at them, I do mean throw.

Not All Daycare Centers are Created Equal. – Daycare providers vary in size and scope ranging from small setups in someone’s basement to large compounds resembling internment camps.  They run the gamut from 5 children sitting around a TV all day watching the Disney Channel, to elaborate programs preparing toddlers for an Ivy-League education.  At one site I sat next to a pregnant mother reserving a spot for her unborn child, six weeks after her due date.

Logistics and Reconnaissance – Being a parent less than two years required me to draw from my experience as a logistics specialist. I started with a Google search of every daycare provider within a 25- mile radius of home, 50-miles was just too much, checking all possible routes, factoring in inclement weather and traffic patterns.  After numerous phone calls, I developed an understanding of all things a baby needs to perform at maximum efficiency, diapers, wipes, bottles, etc.

Then working with the diligence of a British Intelligence agent preparing Donald Trump’s dossier, I watched and observed Daycare Facilities checking everything from curriculum and reputation to compromising information on parents, neighbors and staff.  I learned a lot, but chose not to post my findings on cleanliness and potty training on BuzzFeed.

Making friends with a mermaid at the Long Island Aquarium.

The Interview – After deciding on a daycare center, we scheduled an interview with the owner.  Staying true to form, my better half looked for safety, cleanliness, and a stimulating curriculum—I asked if the staff had paramilitary training, Cristian’s tantrums get pretty bad.   What sold me was the bouncy house in the backyard play area, perfect for tiring the most energetic toddler.

Ready to go from Day One.

Summertime Blues – For his last days of freedom, Esther and I sent him off with style, taking him to the Beach, Sesame Place and the Aquarium—okay we enjoyed it too.  Cristian ran up and down the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk, saw his favorite Sesame Street characters in a parade, and made friends with a mermaid.  We found out he loves, water, marine life, and photo bombing tourists at the Aquarium.

Worries/Concerns – Esther and I differed on this one.  As a Mom she worried about leaving the baby with someone other than family.  I worried about getting a phone call an hour after dropping him off. “Mr. Priegue, we are refunding your deposit, please pick up your son.”  We were curious how he’d react.  Would he cry or panic?  Not Cristian, as soon as they opened the gate, he went running in and didn’t look back.  Was he asserting a sense of independence or just happy to see new toys to play with?  We’ll leave that to the historians.

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Because You Can’t Flush a Cocker Spaniel

Cristian at the Long Island Aquarium

If you follow this blog you know I’m a cranky dad, a marathon runner and a dog lover.  When my better half and I were dating, her dog Chico’s approval helped seal the deal.  Chico was more than a pet—he was a friend and my practice child.

Chico’s passing left a void.  Esther and I want another dog, but we have too much going on right now. A dog is a major commitment, demanding time and attention we don’t have—plus we have someone who keeps us busy with walks, feedings, and cleaning poop—I’ve been writing about him for almost two years.

This summer Esther, Cristian, and I did the family thing, going to Sesame Place, summer carnivals, and a couple of aquariums.  We quickly learned he likes playing in water, but he loves fish. He loved the big tanks at the Long Island Aquarium, the small tanks at Petco, and the movie Finding Dory.  You should have seen him freak out when he saw me eating sushi that looked like Nemo.

Cristian’s love of fish had Esther and I considering getting him a fish tank instead of a dog—okay more her than me.  One night at the carnival, the decision was made for us.   We were playing a game, throwing ping pong balls into small holes when we won a goldfish.

I wasn’t worried, I won goldfish as a kid, they all died and were flushed a week later—but this was different.  Before handing me a fish-filled plastic bag, he went into sales mode. “You have a fish in a bag, but do you have a fish bowl?  No?  For only $10, I’ll give you a fish bowl, a second fish, and I’ll even throw in some fish food.  Now how does that sound?”

Walking home, trying not to spill water as I balanced the fish bowl on top of Cristian’s stroller, I wondered what just happened.  Did I miss something?  We left home planning on letting the baby run around a little,  playing a few games, and eating a sausage and pepper hero and maybe some funnel cake.  How did we end up with a couple of fish?   Good thing we weren’t looking for a used car.

When we got home, my better half started researching home aquariums, aka fish tanks.  If you’ve met my wife, you know she’s a big-picture type of person—big goals, big dreams, big ideas. I’m the one who brings her back to earth when she goes off the deep end.

My mental image of what our home aquarium would look like.

This is usually when I worry about how big a picture.  Are we ordering tropical fish, converting a room into a full-sized aquarium, getting a school of piranhas?  Okay the piranhas were my idea.

What do I know about fish?  I’m a dog person.  My family had dogs for as long as I remember.  Dad brought home Susy, our first dog, when I was in second or third grade and she lived until a few years after I graduated from college.  All I knew about fish was you flush them when they die.

Around the time we flushed our original goldfish into Jamaica Bay, we set up a ten-gallon tank in Cristian’s room, complete with new fish, gravel, and columns.  Although fish are lower maintenance than dogs, they aren’t maintenance-free, so instead of waking up early to walk a dog, I’m cleaning a tank every two weeks or so.  Saying goodnight to his fish is now part of the baby’s bedtime ritual.  It’s not the same as a dog, but for now it will do.

Cristian’s Fishtank
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Exorcising the Demons of 2016

How I’m feeling these days.

The beginning a year is for dreams.  Dreams of self-improvement, of being healthier, happier and more productive. It’s a time for resolutions—you know change the things you didn’t do last year—or the year before that.

When 2016 ended people were bitching and moaning on social media sites about what an awful year it was.  John Glenn, Prince, and Carrie Fisher died, there were numerous terrorist attacks, and an alligator attacked and killed a two-year old child at Walt Disney World in Florida.  A lot of things about 2016 sucked.

I spent most of 2016 as a Stay at Home/Work from Home Dad, and although I spent much of the year chasing an active toddler, I wasn’t as active as I hoped.  I didn’t need to step on a scale to know I gained weight—I knew by the way my clothes fit—I just didn’t know how much I gained.

Judgement day fell on New Year’s Monday, when my better half and I stepped on a scale, like we do every year, to see how bad the damage was.   For me it was pretty bad, it said 242.2.

242!   That’s not bad, that’s enormously bad, 12 pounds more than a year ago.  How did things get so out of control?   Too much beer, fast food, and binge eating, spending more time waiting in line at the drive-through window, then at the gym is usually a good indicator.

 

Denial is a wonderful thing.  I’ve been here before, gaining weight, and losing it, gaining it back, and losing it again, and again and yet again.  Over the years, I’ve lost 200 pounds, twenty pounds ten times.

Like many I have storage bins of thin clothes and really thin clothes neatly packed in storage bins in the garage, ok maybe not so neatly, and fat clothes hanging in the closet.  The difference is these days my fat clothes are fitting tight.  During my job interview in October, I couldn’t button the jacket of my suit.

Running and climbing a flight of stairs, takes more effort these days, and going down a few flights of stairs feels like I’m wearing a 30-pound backpack.  I spent more time walking than running during this year’s Hangover Run on New Year’s morning.

So once again, I’m beginning another weight-loss journey.  The task seems daunting and although I don’t have a specific goal weight in mind yet, I’m keeping things simple.  One day at a time, one meal at a time, one pound at a time.

Esther, Cristian and I during this year’s Hangover Run – Photo Quicksilver Striders
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The Last Days of a Stay at Home Dad

Enjoying my days as a SAHD

It’s been awhile since my last post—too long.  A lot’s changed in the four months since I posted about sore nipples—they’re still a little tender by the way.  Cristian turned two, an orange narcissist was elected President, and I’m no longer a Stay at Home Dad.

Shortly after Mommy and Me Class, (my last post), Esther and I discussed putting Cristian into daycare three days a week.  We figured spending time with kids his age is better for learning childlike-behavior, instead of spending days with his old man learning childish behavior.  We signed him up when he started throwing his sippy cup at the TV whenever CNN aired a Trump Rally.

Around the same time, I started receiving job offers.  A steady gig as a school photographer was a bit scary—not because of the workload but photographing elementary school kids was a sneak preview of the next few years of parenting.

Shortly afterwards I scored an interview for an academic advisor position at a college, my alma mater.  Since I was already working steadily as a freelancer with a possible full-time job lined up, we added two more days to Cristian’s schedule.  I had mixed emotions—I was excited at the challenge of a new job but was a little bummed too.

Getting his daily dose of CNN.

I’ve taken care of Cristian since Esther went back to work from maternity leave.  We’ve gone to MyGym classes, shopped at Costco, and he came along with me when I delivered documents for my medical billing job.

I knew I’d miss chasing him around the playground, watching him hit new developmental milestones, and miss the vein popping from my forehead as he tested Daddy’s patience time after time, (usually after the playground and hitting developmental milestones.  Life was changing yet again.

My mornings are different now.  Instead of taking Esther to work and Cristian to the playground, before settling into a few hours of spreadsheets and billing codes, my mornings are now a blur of shave, shower and get dressed.  Once again Esther and I are tag-team parents, one of us watching the baby while the other gets ready for work.  Sure my new job has nice perks like an office, but I still miss watching Cristian goofing on Wolf Blitzer after coming home from the playground

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