Fat Fridays: NonDepressed Me Doesn’t Understand Depressed Me

Happy Fat Friday everyone. I’ve been gone a bit. Almost didn’t write today, but it’s stll Friday, I’ve still got a chance at this! 

This past month my exercise has diminished down to a brisk walk when it’s not too cold outside. I finally canceled my membership with the KICKOFF app that monitors your diet, gives you daily workouts and checks in with you every day. I canceled because I was no longer using the services and it’s too much money to just let it keep going when I’m not using it. I actually felt better when I canceled though. I know what I want to focus on with exercise and I feel like I can do it just using free resources. I also know that I need a different eating plan than what I was doing, so I’m still trying to figure out that one. 

What I wanted to write about today was the fact that Non-depressed Me has no understanding of Depressed Me. This past year as I was exercising and eating healthy, and the weight was coming off, and I was feeling great, I had these niggling memories. Memories of times in the past when I would lose weight, do well, and then somehow, it all came creeping back on. And I was always a little disappointed with that Old Esther who failed her diet and exercise plans so often. What was wrong with me? Why would I exchange this wonderful feeling of health and accomplishment for one of gluttany and sloth? I really had no idea why I had failed so often in the past. But I knew that, THIS TIME, I would accomplish my goals and stay on the path. 

And then Depressed Me showed up. And it was like someone took a big plank of wood and smacked me upside the head. And when I came to, Non-Depressed Me was gone, Depressed Me had taken up residence and I had the “AH HA!” moment when I remembered, very clearly, why I had failed so many times in the past. Depression. 

It sucks the life out of you. My emotions feel flat. My ambition is gone. Nothing is enjoyable. 

I am a bookworm, I have probably read close to a book a day since I was eight years old. This past month I have read one book. And it was one I’d read a million times before and I picked it because it had a happy ending with low-levels of crisis. I find myself zoning out with solitaire and flipping through Facebook and wishing I could find a book I actually wanted to read. I am still taking walks, but only when the weather gets at least into the 40s (F). We are having a cold winter (for us) and it’s no fun. 

These past couple days I have felt marginally better. I started writing my blog again. I’ve been sitting down at the piano, playing Bach. Angry Bach. Agitated Bach. But at least it’s been a good outlet for whatever is going on inside me. I’ve still managed to stay focused on getting the family to eat healthier. I have been baking our bread, about every two or three days, and that has been satisfying. Every week this month I have sat down and found new recipes for the week, made a menu, made a grocery list and tried to stick to it. It’s been cost effective and I’ve been making the kids eat new things which has made meal times more interesting for me, perhaps a little more stressful for them, but they’ve been doing pretty good with it. 

I also gave up paper plates. I’ve been using paper plates for my kids for several years. It meant that I only had to wash dishes once a day. Now I have to wash dishes two or three times a day, so I don’t know if I am actually saving anything, but it has been nice to have everyone eating off of pretty plates and my home has felt more homey. So, it’s not all negative. And I’m starting to try to have patience and compassion for Depressed-Me. Get to know this person again. See what diet and weight loss are going to look like while this alterego is hanging around. I’ll let you know how this goes. 

Moving Forward

Happy New Year everyone. I hope it’s going well for you so far. 

I have been fighting a lot of stress and some depression as I’ve moved forward into January. Lots of reasons. 

First of all, let’s just acknowledge the parents/caregivers who take the lead in making Christmas and holidays happen. Kids really are oblivious to the amount of behind-the-scenes work it takes to make a holiday feel special. By the time New Years came and went, I was pretty wiped out. It was a great holiday season: cozy, fun, special. But it took a lot of energy. And after every high, there is usually a low. 

Second, we have a court date set for February concerning our foster daughter. Some things have changed and so this upcoming court date is churning up a lot of stress in my life. A lot. 

And lastly, I am finding it hard to get excited about this new year we are in. My goals have diminished down to “Let’s just survive.” Ok, that’s not exactly true. I have set some new exercise and weight loss goals, and they feel achievable. I am really focusing on getting my whole family into a healthier eating lifestyle. But aside from that, I feel like I am playing defense. Let’s just handle each challenge/catastrophe as it comes. 

Recognizing that I’m in a place of stress, I’ve been working a lot on making my home a cozy, relaxing place to be. I bought some more candles, acquired a new plant, made a new centerpiece on my dining room table. Got most of the Christmas stuff put away, but kept a couple things out like some angel figurines on my mantel. I’ve tried to make my world a little smaller. Keep my focus simply on family and housework. Try to get my mind out of the future and just be in today. (I’m not doing real well with that one, so far, but I’m trying.)

Through it all, I have felt God’s presence with me in a new way I’ve never felt before. Where my thoughts used to wander to anything and everything, I find my thoughts moving back to Jesus over and over again. It feels like grace sitting heavily on me. And while my mind has always equated grace with happy peace and rest, lack of troubles; it’s an interesting experience to be in the midst of troubles and stress and still have peace. I wouldn’t call it happy peace though. It’s more solemn. And more solid. And I am clinging hard to it and moving forward into this new year, one day at a time. 

Fat Fridays: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Well, here we are, the last day of the year. The typical time that we reflect on the past and get excited about the future. 

Looking back I feel like I had a lot of good accomplishments. I started off the year a size 22 and now I am a size 16. I started off the year getting out of breath walking up stairs and I ended the year running a 5k. I started off the year with no exercise habits and ended the year with a desire to get myself moving every day. It is now a rare week that I don’t get in six workouts. I have plans to go running tomorrow and that is something I am looking forward to. 

This past year I changed my diet significantly and managed to move my A1C down out of the range where I needed to be on medicine and was able to quit taking metformin. I am not as happy with my diet though. I did not find a diet that was easy to share with my family and that was satisfying enough that I wanted to stick to it. I kind of abandoned my diet over the holidays and now I am needing to start all over again in this area. 

In all, a lot of good things happened this year. 

I am looking forward to next year. I’ve set some new goals. 

For exercise I’ve told my trainer that I want to focus on running and weight training. I plan to sign up for a 5k every two or three months so I have something that I’m working towards. I would like to get a lot faster. My end of the year goal is to run a 5k in 30 minutes. This December I ran one in 37 minutes. I don’t know if I’ll make my goal or not, but we’ll see how close I get. 

For weight loss I am hoping to get down to a size 14 by the beginning of summer and a size 12 by next Thanksgiving. In high school, at my skinniest and fittest I was a size 10. I don’t anticipate ever getting my high school body back. I’ve given birth 10 times and nursed 10 babies. Some things will never be the same and that’s ok. So, we’ll see how it goes. I’ve decided to not attach my goals to a number on the scale. I don’t really care what number it says as long as I’m fitting into smaller clothing. I’ll probably end up weighing myself just out of curiosity, but I don’t want to be focused on reaching a certain number. 

As far as diet is concerned I’m feeling a lot more motivated to drag my family along on my health journey. Poor family. 🙂  I want to focus on whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats, and as little processed food as possible. I think it will be easier for me if we are all eating the same things. We’ll see how that goes. 

I am hopeful about this coming year. Not really hopeful that it’s going to be a peaceful, easy year. But, hopeful that I will be able to cling to a healthy diet and exercise as a much-needed tool in my survival skills toolbelt so I can handle whatever the next year throws at me. 

Happy New Year Everyone!

Fat Fridays: One Day Late

I’m a day late, but today was THE DAY and I wanted to wait so I could tell you about it. 

I ran my first 5k today!! 

In the rain. In December. 

The name of the race was the Sunshine Santa 5k hosted by Endurance Sports Management. It was a fundraiser to support the Sunshine Ambassadors Program whose tagline is “Enriching the Lives of Individuals with Disabilities through Dance”. There was also a half marathon being run at the same time. 

Four hundred people signed up for the race though I don’t think that many actually showed up. It was fun to see people of all ages and fitness levels coming together to run, walk, and just be active together on a rainy Saturday morning. 

My husband and one of my daughters came along to cheer me on. I was very thankful for my husband’s tips as I tried to figure out how to dress for a run in cold rain. The life-saving tip was to wear a ball cap so the rain wouldn’t get on my glasses. I never would have thought of that. Thanks sweetie! 

In order to keep myself moving I always have some song running in my head. Today’s music was “Jingle Bells”, a little chant that included the phrase “I can do this, I can do this.” And the final song for the last mile was “The Ants go Marching One by One” which is actually a perfect song for me to get my breathing under control. 🙂 

My trainer told me, ahead of time, that on the second mile I should actively look for people to try and pass in order to keep myself moving. So, there was this lady in an aqua blue jacket and she was doing a combination of running and walking. I would pass her while she was walking and then almost right after I passed her she would start running again and pass me again, get just far enough ahead of me and then start walking again. Then I would pass her again and we would repeat the whole thing. In the final mile I was sure that she would pass me up since her running pace was a lot faster than mine, but almost the whole last mile was uphill and while she started walking, I kept running. And she didn’t pass me again. And that was my major victory for the run. 🙂 

I had fun. It’s a lot easier to run with other people than being solo. I had two goals. To do the whole race without stopping to walk, and to try and do it in 36 minutes. I did it in 37 mins and 19 secs. So, I still haven’t met that goal. But I feel good. My average running time had been 40 minutes for three miles, so I’ve brought it down some. I think I’m going to have to sign up for another run.

Well, I’m super happy. I’ll stop going on about the race and let you all get on with your day. Talk to you next week!

Fat Fridays: Tis’ the Season

Good morning everyone. Hope you all are well today. 

I am busily cleaning my house, listening to Pentatonix’s Oh Come All Ye Faithful. (Ok, I had to stop writing there for a second so I could sing along. Ok. Focus on writing.) 

I was up all night thinking about all the things I need to do in the next couple days. My son has a Christmas program at school tonight, and we have family coming to watch. We’re having our annual Christmas Open House on Sunday which involves a lot of cleaning, cooking, and planning. And on top of all that, this week I pulled a muscle in my back and spent a whole day just sitting in a chair. Yesterday I was able to move around, but slowly and carefully. Today I am stiff, but able to move.  But, that put me two days behind on all the Christmas preparation I was planning on doing. And then last night the PTO from the elementary school said we are selling popcorn tomorrow, can you come help? And I said yes, while my eye started twitching. 

I am pretty sure that I pulled a muscle this week because I have been walking around in a physical state of stress. I love Christmas time. I love doing things for other people, making things special for my kids, all the extra Christmas activities. But, it can be stressful. I like my life slow paced. And the whole month of December is not slow paced. At all. And there are a lot of social interactions. And I am an introvert who has discovered over time that I thrive on a lot of alone-quiet time. And I haven’t been getting a lot of that. Last night I went to my son’s basketball game with one of my daughters. We watched both the boys and girls games. Another mom from the team was sitting next to me so we engaged in polite social chitchat. It was noisy. I spent a lot of time talking to my daughter. When we got home I gathered the family together so we could do our nightly Advent devotions that we do in the month of December. We finished Advent and then I gave my husband “The Look”. The look that says, I am done. I need to disappear. PLEASE TAKE OVER!! And my husband, who stayed home with all the other kids, fed them supper, helped them with homework, goes, “What??” All you’ve done is go to a basketball game! But, going to a basketball game takes a lot of energy! 

So, we tag teamed and made it through bedtime, crashed into bed, and then I dreamed about cleaning my house, preparing for parties, and kept waking up wondering if it was time to start the next busy day. 

So, for this blog, the question is, how do you maintain diet, exercise, and self-care during the holidays? 

I think the best I can come up with is Be Realistic. 

The next three days I am not going to have much time, but I plan to get up early tomorrow morning so I can squeeze in a workout. I don’t think I will get to one today though, too many things to do. But, I know that next week I will have more time, so I just have to accept that sometimes you can’t do everything. And as far as self-care, I think I just have to keep reminding myself that none of this is life and death. If I don’t get everything done, it’s ok. All of these things I’m doing are because I want everything a certain way. And if it ends up not being the exact way I want, Who cares? No one else does. Just me. So, I have to keep reminding myself that the level of importance I’m putting on all these plans is very flexible. And diet? Well, there is always January. Though I am going to try and come up with some quick, healthy meals we can just heat up for the next couple days without needing a lot of prep. 

So, I’m off to do more cleaning and then go sell popcorn and then cook and clean some more. And maybe try to remember that this is fun and I love the holidays. 

Fat Fridays: Becoming More Like My Kids

I spent this evening being a sports mom. This is a new role for me. Our family has not done sports with our kids. We are not very sports oriented (at all) and the logistics of getting kids to practice and games when there are twelve people in the family made it feel impossible to try. So this year my twelve year old son started at a new school and they have a middle school basketball team, boys and girls. And they don’t do tryouts. You show up, practice, you are on the team. So, my kid who has never played basketball decided he would like to play basketball. Yay! Alright son, we’ll support you! He went to the first practice and I picked him up afterwards. 

How was it?

It was fine. Oh, by the way, I also joined the cheerleading team. I talked to the coaches and they said it was fine. I can cheer for the girls games and play for the boys games. 

Ummm. Ok. 

And that is how I became a sports mom. So this evening I worked the concessions stand and watched through the doorway as my son was allowed to play during the 3rd quarter. He really is a beginner. Very eager, but obviously just learning the game. I always feel grateful when the coach lets him get some time. And then I handed over concessions duty to another parent after the boys game and went and sat in the bleachers and watched my son cheer with the cheerleading squad for the girls game. Go team. 

How does all this relate to diet and exercise? Well, I was sitting here thinking about all this, and thinking about how important it is that I exercise and pursue health in front of my children as a role model to them. But as I sat here and thought about it, I am beginning to think that my kids have had more of an influence on me in this area than I have had on them. My kids take after their dad, they seem to have confidence oozing out of their pores. They are very comfortable in their own skin. They have interests that are different from their peers and it never occurs to them to not pursue those interests just because others might think they are weird. 

I, on the otherhand, tend to be very self-conscious. And I’ve got legitimate reasons for why I became that way, but it’s not something I need to hang onto. I feel really self conscious about exercising. I’m not an athletic person. I’m not particularly skilled. I’m overweight. I feel like, if people see me running, they are automatically going to look and see who’s chasing me, instead of thinking I’m out for exercise. So, it’s been a big stretch for me to go out in my neighborhood and run on a regular basis. But, I’m enjoying it. No, I will never be a marathon runner. No, I will never win any races. But am I having fun doing something I like? Yes. And the big bonus is that it’s also good for me. 

And so I find myself in a place where I can continue to encourage my kids to pursue what interests them and try new things, and they are encouraging me at the same time. It’s a good place to be. 

Fat Fridays: In Search of New Strategies

Well, it’s Friday, and I’m still fat…Guess I don’t have much else to say. 

Just kidding.

I’ve been “training” for my 5k. Which sounds really pretentious. But, I don’t know how else to put it. Last Saturday I ran 5k in 37 mins and 28 secs. Which was an improvement over the 40 mins it took me the time before. I think I’ll be trying it again tomorrow. Today I’m supposed to run 5 mins at a moderate pace, 5 mins at a fast pace and 3 mins ALL OUT. I am not a fast pace or ALL OUT pace kind of person. So, this will be interesting. Ok, so here is a question. How do you keep track of these times when you are running? I have a fitbit and I have a cellphone. Running with a cellphone in my hand is awkward. Trying to press the button on the side of my fitbit to light up the screen while I am running is also awkward. And sometimes I accidentally bump the screen and it pauses my workout and then I’m frantically trying to make it start again, while still running. It does not make for a smooth running experience. And I can just see myself today, trying to go ALL OUT for a whole 3 minutes and I’ll keep having to stop and look at my watch. Not an ideal situation. So how does everyone else do it? 

The other thing is I run in my neighborhood and there are awkward breaks where I have to cross a big road and so I’m trying to figure out how to map my route so that when I’m going fast and ALL OUT, I don’t have to pause and wait for traffic. RIght now I’m thinking it might be easier to just do the same half mile stretch several times because I know approximately how much time it takes me to run that and I’ll at least have some clues as to when to look at my watch. 

We’ll see. It’s cold outside. I’m not going to go out till it warms up a little bit more. 

Diet is going horrible. I find myself thinking, maybe I just need to try to maintain this weight until January when I can get all hyped up about healthy eating again. Why does January always seem like a good time to diet? Looking at the upcoming holiday season, it does not feel like a great time to be eating healthy. And this is my old, unhealthy thought patterns having full control right now. My memories of past holidays where I ate carefully are that I felt great from not over-indulging. 

Right now my brain is in high-stress mode and it’s really hard to practice self-care when your brain is in this mode. Really hard. I’ve been able to keep exercising and make that happen. I just don’t know how to keep the healthy eating happening. 

We have an important meeting today which I’m hoping the outcome is that I will be less stressed afterwards. We’ll see. The problem is that we can’t wait for the stress to go away before we try to be healthy. My experience of the past two years is that the stress is not going anywhere. It appears to have moved in to stay. And my main strategy has always been to wait for stress to pack it’s bags and leave. So now I need a new strategy. And actually, writing about this has been helpful. I don’t think I’ve put that reality into words before. The problem at least feels a little more simple. I need a new strategy for handling stress because I need to accept that the stress is here to stay so waiting for it to leave is no longer an option. 

Well, I think I’m going to spend the rest of the day pondering that. I’ll see you all next week. 

Fat Fridays: Big Changes, New Goals

It’s Friday. Thank God. This has been a very long week. Very long. Today is going to be one of my busiest days. I think I will be able to start relaxing somewhere around 5:30 tonight. I’m counting down the hours. 

I received news this week about our foster daughter who has been with us for two years,  possibly starting the reunification process with her family in the very near future. It was unexpected news. I’ve been a bit out of it the last several days as I try to process how I feel about this. 

Last weekend I decided to sign up for a 5k race on December 18th. I’ve never done a 5k before or any kind of race since I was in elementary school. I felt like I was needing some motivation to keep on exercising. A goal to work towards. I’m pretty excited about it. At least, I’m excited about it until I’m actually out running. And then I find myself wondering why on earth am I choosing to do this? This is hard. I’m not feeling great joy. And then I finish running and all the good feelings come back. Yay! I’m going to do this! 

I talked to my trainer and asked her to give me workouts that will help me get ready. I think she’s planning on having me run four days a week. I have very modest goals. 

Goal #1 Run the whole race without having to stop and walk.

Goal #2 Try to finish in 36 minutes. 

And that’s it. And even if it takes a couple minutes longer, I don’t really care. Just running the whole thing without stopping will be a big accomplishment for me. 

I am glad that I set this goal. It’s been helpful this week as I’ve been dealing with crazy emotions. Here, I’m going to take all this nervous anxiety and go run it off. I’ll let you all know how the training goes. 

See you next week.

Fat Fridays: The Juggler

Fat Fridays. The day we talk about diet and exercise and triumphs and failures. 

I did not write last week because I was neck-deep in failure and I had nothing to say. The last couple weeks have been rough. And the hardest part is that I haven’t been sure why eating healthy and exercising suddenly became so hard again. 

I think I finally got some insight today. 

As a mom with eleven kids, I’m keeping track of a lot of things. I have made the comparison before of being a juggler who is trying to keep a bunch of balls up in the air. I’m juggling away, getting into the swing of it. Yeah. I got this. And then someone offstage suddenly starts pelting me with a bunch more balls. You’re keeping ten balls in the air? Here, take five more. And then I start dropping balls all over the place, everything gets out of sync, and I end up picking the most vital balls (how about let’s keep everyone fed and alive) and tossing them in the air while I regroup and try to start getting everything back up in the air and going in rhythm again, with five new balls added. 

I think that is what has happened this month. Extracurricular activities starting up for the kids, several home repair crises that we’ve been putting off for as long as possible, and now they can’t be ignored anymore. All of our vehicles suddenly having problems and needing various parts and repairs. And as all these new things got thrown my way, the first ball I dropped was diet. I kept exercising, but even with that, this week I ended up missing two days in a row. 

This morning I woke up at four am and lay in bed stressing over all the things I needed to do. I finally fell asleep maybe a half hour before my alarm went off. I did not wake up in a good mood. I was grumping at my husband and he blessed me by not responding with an equally grumpy mood. Instead he helped me sort out all the things I was stressed about for the day and helped me figure out some solutions. Then later in the day, one thing got cancelled, and that made it possible for me to do three other things on my list with a lot less stress. And as I realized how much my mood improved just from one cancellation, I started cluing in to how our newly busy schedule was throwing me off kilter in all areas of my life. 

When I reach a certain level of stress, I start grasping at anything to make me feel better and I tend to fall back into my unhealthy coping patterns. Which includes using food for comfort. 

Do I have a solution for this? Not really. But at least I know a lot more what I’m up against. And for me, understanding my behavior always has to be the first step before I can change it. 

Fat Fridays: Still Broken, but Working on It

Happy Friday everyone. Hope you all are well. I was dragging my feet about writing today. Mostly because I cheated on my diet last night. And that does not motivate me to want to write about diet and health. But, a nice car ride this morning gave me some thinking time and perspective. So here I am, writing again. 

This is what happened. The past two weeks I got determined and stuck to a super strict diet. I lost three pounds. Yay. Then last night I snuck down after the kids were asleep and ate two bowls of chocolate cereal. Not yay. 

It’s a really tricky balance. On the one hand, I have to learn how to not beat myself up and say harsh, mean things to myself when I do things that aren’t in line with my diet or quest for health. On the other hand, I’ve got to be curious about why I self-sabotage. What is broken inside of me and how can I fix it? 

I feel like I’ve got a good handle on my food history. I can look back and see patterns and events that shaped the way I deal, unhealthily, with food. But, I haven’t figured out yet how to break free from those patterns and habitual thought processes. Two weeks seem to be my limit on sticking to a strict diet. A not-so-strict diet is easier to stick to, but the results come a lot slower. And I’m impatient. I had set a “wish” goal for this year when I started my journey in January. It’s now October and I am only ten pounds away from reaching my goal by the end of December. It’s so close I can feel it. So why am I eating chocolate cereal late at night? 

I am still waiting for a breakthrough in this area. The progress I’ve made is that I can tell you why I did it, all the history that led up to that decision. The progress I haven’t made is figuring out how to break that cycle.

In other news, I have started running three miles instead of two. I still have to take walk breaks, but I can now run an entire mile without a walk break, and I’m pretty sure that I could push myself to do at least a mile and half, maybe even two, without stopping, if I was motivated enough. My new goal is to try and run three miles in thirty minutes. I’m at thirty-seven minutes right now. Yeah. I’m a real speed demon. 🙂 But, I’m not trying to be fast. I would just like to be able to run a 5k and not be embarrassed about how long it takes me. Thirty minutes is decent for a middle-aged, still overweight, lady who has never been very athletic. So, that’s my goal. 

I would like to point out that I didn’t think I was able to run three miles until my trainer gave me a very ambitious, difficult workout that had me running for forty minutes. Doing the workout, finishing it and not giving up, that was what I needed to realize that I was capable of doing more than I thought I could. Being challenged to do something hard, taking up the challenge, and then succeeding: I’m learning that all those things are key to upping your game. 

Here are my takeaways. When you mess up, don’t beat yourself up, be curious instead as to why you did it. Try to figure out the root that is causing the behavior. And, let yourself be challenged, it’s the doorway to doing more and being more. 

See you all next week.