Fat Fridays: Moving Forward Inch by Inch

This past week I’ve been fighting a lot of my food addiction demons. Mindsets and thought processes that make me binge eat or just completely not care about diet, health, etc. It’s been a bit frustrating. I’ve done the heavy work of recognizing my unhealthy thought patterns, but how do you get rid of them? Sometimes, logic is not enough to break free from a sugar addiction. Or emotional eating. 

I’ll admit that my diet went out the window while I’ve been trying to figure this out. Then yesterday, I went to the store to get a pair of jeans. I live in the South. It’s still pretty hot around here, but I know that cool weather is on it’s way, and since my weight loss, I don’t have any pants my size. So, I went to the store and pulled about four pairs of pants to try on, all in the size I thought I was, and low and behold  none of them fit. They were all too big. What?? So I went back and got the next size down and that worked fine. I don’t know if men have this in their sizing but women have these W sizes which are cut a bit baggier in the butt and thighs. So, I am a solid 16W, down from a 22W. I was able to fit one pair of regular 16, but another style was too small. 

I decided then and there that I was going to just focus on losing the next ten pounds and maybe with that weight loss I’ll be a solid regular 16, not just 16W. I’m finding that looking at how far I have to go to get to my Dream Weight is overwhelming. So, I’m just going to focus on the next ten pounds. 

I think, in all of this, I keep having to remind myself that I am human. Not perfect. And perfection isn’t required of me. I’m on a journey towards health and sometimes the journey is going to be backtracking and side trails and mess ups and just standing in one place for a minute. But each day I get to decide to try again and see if I can move forward another couple inches. So, here’s to the next ten pounds!

See you all next week. 

Fat Fridays: A1c and Mountain Biking

Happy Friday everyone! Hope all is well with you. I had some good news this week. I went to the doctor for a regular check up and got my A1c checked (a blood test that gives you an accurate snapshot of how your blood sugar control is doing). So, my numbers came down this year from 6.0 to 5.6. Yay! It’s low enough that the doctor wants me to go off my Metphormin and see if I can maintain these numbers without medication. 

Weirdly enough, the thought of going off my medication is a little scary. I think the medication has always felt a bit like a safety net. Ok, I’m not eating exactly the way I’m supposed to, but this medicine will help with that. Not the healthiest thinking patterns. So here I am, taking the plunge and having to take full responsibility for keeping these numbers down. No medicine to help. It has certainly reinvigorated me to get back on my diet more strictly. 

I’ll be getting another A1c check in about three months, so that will be enough time to tell if I can continue to be responsible with how I’m eating, and keep up the exercise. It would be great to get that number even lower. 

In other news, my husband got me to go mountain biking with him last night. He is an avid mountain biker and I have never been in good enough shape to go with him. At least that has always been my excuse. Now I’m in good enough shape to go, but the real truth is that mountain biking terrifies me. The trail we went on was so narrow! And then there’s this cliff-edge drop off. And I fell several times because I couldn’t figure out how to downshift, pedal and do a switchback turn all at the same time. Fortunately, all my falls were in slow-motion cause they always happened when I was climbing. But still, I feel way too old to be falling off a bike. 

I know that Mountain Biking is something my husband hopes to share with me (evidence, he bought me a really nice mountain bike). So, I’m going to commit to his suggestion that I just ride the same trail over and over again until I get comfortable with it. But, I better get comfortable fast cause I am NOT an adrenaline junky! And that ride, for me, was pure adrenaline.

But, it was a good workout. Heart rate was definitely up. My fitbit informed me that I burned 575 calories in an hour. And I did have some satisfaction in knowing that I tried something that scares me. 

Today, I’m tired and sore. I had already run two miles yesterday before I went biking. So now I’m just going to get my workout cleaning my house. Have a great week everyone! 

It’s What We Make of It

This morning I had to drop some of my teens off at the church early. Since I was in the area, I headed over to Victor Ashe Park to get my run/walk in. I love Victor Ashe Park. It has a giant playing field that is used for soccer and ultimate frisbee, it has several miles of walking trails, it has a disc golf course along with a dog park, a playground, restrooms and a big pavilion. 

It was eight o’clock in the morning on a Saturday, but there were already a lot of people there. There were women walking in groups, talking just as fast as they were moving. I saw several solo dads out walking little babies in strollers. There were couples holding hands as they dawdled along. People walking their dogs. There was one super-fit couple who were running together, briskly outpacing everyone. There was an elderly gentleman who was out jogging and our paces were just similar enough that we kept overlapping each other. He would jog a while and then walk and while he was walking I would jog a while and then walk. It got a bit awkward. 🙂  I found myself mentally urging him on, Run faster! Run faster! Just cause I didn’t want to pass him again when he was walking. 

When I got back to the pavilion at the end, there was a drumming exercise class going on. The instructor was obviously doing her life passion as she taught this class. She was pumped, excited, hooting and hollering as she urged her class on. They had really fun music and I really wished I could join them. I went over to a paved area and sat and stretched and watched the class. There was another couple not far from me who looked like they were at the very beginning of their fitness journey, but they had exercise mats and weights and were working out together. And it felt like the entire attitude of everyone there was, We are here to exercise and enjoy nature! And everyone smiled and nodded at each other. And it was very inspiring to be a part of this energetic group. 

Lately I’ve kind of been feeling like I’m living in two duel universes. There is the universe of Social Media. In that universe, people say mean things to each other without a second thought. We talk trash about people in leadership. We share mean jokes. The news is always bad, the world is about to end and it’s all EVERYONE ELSE’S fault. We hear all about the bad things that are happening at home and everywhere else in the world. And people just seem not-so-friendly. 

And then, there is the unplugged universe. Daily life walking around my city. Going to the park where regular people are enjoying themselves, nodding and smiling at strangers. The more gregarious ones start up friendly chats. Dogs on leashes wag their tails. The grass is green. The trees are majestic. The exercise class has their fun music blasting. Kids are running, giggling, down the pathway. 

Honestly, the daily life of the unplugged universe is a lot more beautiful than the plugged in one. And yes, I know, I’m posting this blog on the internet, sharing it on social media. It’s a bit hypocritical. Except, the plugged in universe is what we make it. I would say, for me, I am trying to learn how to unplug often, and when I am plugged in, try to bring some of the beauty with me. 

Which, I guess, is why I tell you all about the everyday stuff. Like walks in the park. 

POST SCRIPT: I know that life isn’t just roses and sunshine. There’s tragedy in the unplugged universe. And I appreciate the plugged in universe’s power to connect us together so we can help out in urgent situations. As always, it’s about balance.

Fat Fridays: Stress and Weight Loss are Incompatible

Today has been my first glimmer of hope that I can have a peaceful semester with my children in school. Today, the last of the sick kids went back to school (we are in our second week back, first week back, one child brought two different childhood viruses home). My preschooler went for another staggered day of preschool today (first two weeks he only goes part time, full time starts next week). My homeschooler finally had his first day of homeschooling co-op this week where he got assignments for the next week in all his core subjects. And this morning he diligently sat down for four hours straight and got all his work done without a murmur of complaint. 

I went to an appointment, had a quiet breakfast, did my exercise for the day, cleaned the house, washed the dishes, made some phone calls. I picked up the preschooler from his half day and then we read books together. I’ve got homemade blueberry muffins in the oven for after school snacks for all the kids. I’ve got supper prepped and ready to start slow cooking for the rest of the afternoon. This, right now, is the moment I have been waiting for. A peaceful day where everything is getting done in a non-frantic way. And here I am, writing my blog hafl a day early. Woohoo!

So, let’s talk stress. I did a cursory internet search which gave me all kinds of articles explaining how stress makes you gain weight. Last month, when I was on vacation, I did not stick to my diet. I exercised. I didn’t go crazy. But I was eating donuts. I still managed to lose two pounds. That made me kind of scratch my head in bewilderment, but whatever, I’ll take it. But, now, I am pretty sure that weight loss was connected to how little stress I was under. Yeah, there was wilderness adventure stress, but that was short term, and still not a lot. 

Since I’ve gotten home from vacation, my stress level has been off the charts. The last two weeks my heart has been randomly racing, kicking up my anxiety. Just because. (And yes, I talked to my doctor about it, she said it definitely sounded stress related.) I’ve decided that I’m not going to try and lose weight this month. Just keep exercising (it helps with stress!) and not gain any weight. I know that as we get more and more settled into our new routine, this stress is going to ease up. Lord willing. Or at least get to more manageable levels. Like today. It has been idyllic. I know when the kids come home, the activity will ramp up, but it helps to counterbalance it with a more peaceful morning. 

I am seventeen pounds away from my end of the year goal! Argh! It seems so far away and so hard to do. But I also have a daily goal of staying sane and helpful to the people around me. So, I’m not going to focus on pounds this week. I’m going to keep trying to make good food decisions, but I’m not counting calories right now. 

To any other parent out there who is looking at starting your kids in school soon, while still dealing with pandemic life…

Fat Fridays: Trying Not to Capsize

A couple weeks ago we were on a river canoe trip. My canoe had me in the back, my seventeen year old daughter in the front and a seven and eight year old in the middle. It was the last day of the trip. We were tired. We did not want our canoe to tip over like it had the day before. We were on high alert. We were going through some rapids and despite our best efforts we hit a big rock and got stuck. The canoe started to tip over, one side getting centimeters from the water that was threatening to pour in and capsize us. My seventeen year old and I both threw ourselves to one side to try and counterbalance the boat while we made efforts to push off the rock. We were both yelling instructions to each other, pulse racing as we fought the river. Suddenly the two little girls in the middle started yelling frantically. LOOK! LOOK!!! Thinking that there was some other disaster happening to the boat I craned my neck around, trying to see what was wrong. They were both pointing at a bald eagle that was flying low overhead, very close to us. Everything froze for a second while we stared at the eagle, watching it fly gracefully through the air. Then we got sucked right back into our emergency. I don’t have time to look at a bird! I’m trying to save the boat!!

Ok. So, I feel like this story is an analogy of how my diet is going. My life and trying to get NINE kids settled into FIVE different schools with all the BACK TO SCHOOL fuss that happens for each school, my parents being sick, trying to bounce back from a vacation, get my house in order after a long summer of not having my house in order, and still dealing with the daily stuff of doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, dishwashing, and laundry…All that is me in a canoe trying not to capsize. Diet and exercise are the bald eagle flying over. 

I am trying to exercise every day. I’m having my one homeschooler join me as part of his PE. But today my trainer has me doing a 45 minute hill workout. And I’m not sure how that’s going to happen as I have a sick child that has to go to the doctor this morning and in the afternoon I’m supervising a family visit for my foster child. It might have to wait till tomorrow. 

I’m trying to eat healthy and modest portions, but a lot of my meals have been on the run with not enough time to stop at the store to get my healthy snacks etc. 

I am anticipating probably two more weeks before life starts settling into our FALL ROUTINE. But right now, I’m just trying to keep this canoe from tipping over. 

Fat Fridays: A Day Late

Good morning. I am late. I contemplated skipping and just waiting a week, but it seems more appropriate to write a day late. 

Yesterday my “Give a Damn” broke. It does that every once in a while. I’ve had a hard week. Last Saturday we drove twenty-four hours straight with nine children in the car, driving through the night, to get home from our vacation. My husband did most of the driving but I did Pennsylvania, from 2am to 6am and I did a four hour stretch of Virginia. The kids were amazing. The biggest problem was the three youngest being TOO cheerful and rambunctious as they played in the row right behind our seats. It was while we were driving that my mom called and let me know that she and my dad were sick with covid and headed to the ER. And then this week has been the uncertainty of how my dad was going to pull through. And unpacking. And doing all the Back-To-School shopping, and trying to help my mom long-distance as she recovered at home, and catching up all the errands that stack up when you’ve been gone for a while. 

I started off the week healthy. Went grocery shopping and stocked up on fresh veggies and fruit. And then, on Tuesday I went to the dentist to have my last appointment to get a crown on my tooth. And then the dentist had an “oops” moment and my tooth got messed up and they ended up having to pull the tooth. And then my jaw got infected and I’ve been in pain all week and couldn’t eat all the fresh veggies cause my mouth hurt. 

Anyway. This Friday I shut down. I tried. I made an effort. I put on exercise clothes. I tried to tackle the giant list of things that needed to be done, but my brain wouldn’t focus. I would decide, Ok, I’m going to go take a walk. Then I would think, well, maybe I should get the kids settled doing this activity first. Or maybe I should go run those errands first. Or maybe we should clean the house first. And I completely froze. Didn’t know what to do. I finally left the house, ran the errands, and then sat in a chair all day, playing word games in an attempt to not have to think about my life. 

I did not exercise. I did not eat vegetables. I did not accomplish much. And I didn’t care. 

So, here we are, the next day. I’m feeling a little more rested. And I’m not feeling guilty. I’m not superwoman. This is something I have to tell myself often. I actually can’t do everything (though in my last Friday post, I did feel like I could!). And sometimes my body and brain just need to check out for a while. And it’s ok. Today is a new day. I’ll try again to make good choices for food. I’ll try to get moving again. The important thing is to keep trying. 

Unneeded Distractions

I haven’t written in a week. Which is weird for me. Not a sign of good mental health. Writing = thinking and processing. When I don’t write, it usually means I am avoiding thinking and processing. Now, some of this week was busy with seeing out-of-town family, and that was a great break. But, the past four days, I’ve kept thinking, I should sit down and write, and then I don’t. Instead my brain has been grasping for distractions. Let’s read a book. Let’s get in some extra exercise. Let’s zone out on social media. I’ve even found myself re-visiting old stories I used to play out in my head for entertainment. And I found myself faced with this question. What are you looking for? What is it that you are so desperately seeking in all these distractions? 

Good question. 

What am I looking for? 

Validation. I’m not just an invisible maid and caretaker that keeps the house running and keeps the kids alive and happy. I’m an individual whose feelings matter and who brings value to the table. 

Recognition. I want to be seen. I want to have people in my life who seek me out and find my presence to be important to them. 

Security.  I want to feel safe and cared for. To not feel like my existence and lifestyle is in any way fragile. 

Purpose. I want to feel like my daily actions have meaning. What I’m doing counts. 

Achievement. I want to feel like I am heading towards a goal and every day I am getting closer. 

Peace. I want to feel like no matter what happens, I’m good. Nothing’s going to rock my boat. 

Joy. I want each day to be a celebration of life and creation. A journey of thankfulness. 

I’m not wanting too much, am I? 

Here’s the thing. I think I have most of those things already. Perhaps not in a steady stream. But, if I look back at even just the last couple months, I can say, yes, there have been moments where I have had each of those things at different times. Sometimes all at once, sometimes just one or another. But they’ve been there. 

I think awareness is my problem. Life starts to get overwhelming and my vision gets really narrow. All I can see are the problems in front of me. The exhaustion I’m feeling. The weariness. And my eyes just sit and focus on what is wrong. This is wrong. And that is wrong. And here, let me make you a list of everything that is wrong and hard in my life right now. And all those good things, all those things on my list that I want and HAVE, they just kind of fade into the background. I forget they are there. And eventually, focusing on the bad stuff robs me of hope and energy and I just kind of melt into a useless puddle. 

So what am I going to do about it? 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

These are not simple platitudes. They are more like death-defying challenges. Can you rejoice always??? Pray continually?? GIVE THANKS IN ALL THINGS??? Not an easy path to choose. Which is why it’s a good thing we have the Holy Spirit as our helper. 

John 14:26  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you.

It’s a battle. A daily battle. In Christ, we already have all that we need. There is no reason to go searching for fulfilment in empty distractions. But it’s really easy to forget. When we focus on rejoicing, praying, thankfulness; we quickly get our vision back. 

Now, I’m going to go put on some worship music and try practicing what I preach. 

Fat Fridays: I really don’t want to mess this up.

Hey All. (Short for the Southern: All a y’all or all of you all or everybody.) Hope you have had a good week. Mine has been busy. As usual. In fact, it would be really weird to say that my week has not been busy. You would think by now I wouldn’t be surprised that I had a busy week. But here I am, still looking back in wonder, Wow, that was a busy week! Like it’s a surprise or something. 

This week of diet and exercise has been up and down. I’ve stayed consistent with the exercise, and most days I’ve done more than my trainer assigned me. Food, on the other hand, has been a bit more difficult. There have been days when I have breezed through the day eating salads and berries and lean meat and I haven’t had a single urge to eat anything else. And then there have been days when I’ve been stuffing the Chocolate Brioche into my mouth which my mom bought for the kids. And days like yesterday where I have stayed healthy all day, and then my teenage daughter asked if she could make pancakes for supper and I said sure, and I went off and ate a salad on my own. But then my four year old needed help serving his pancakes, and I got called, and so I ended up preparing these beautiful homemade pancakes with butter and syrup, cutting them up for him so he could eat and then running from the room because all I wanted to do was grab his plate from him and stuff my face with pancakes. And then I sat in my room trying to not think about pancakes, and I was about to sneak out and just grab one when I remembered something I’ve said to myself a lot. “If you’re going to cheat, cheat smart.” So I went and got the last of my skinny pop kettle corn popcorn. And ate one serving which was only 140 calories and which satisfied my sweet tooth. And then I stuck a piece of gum in my mouth so I’d stop eating. 

In other words, it’s been a pretty normal week. Small victories and lots of challenges. 

To tell you the truth, I’m getting nervous about this weight loss journey. About four years ago I tried to lose weight and I got right around the weight I am now before lots of stuff came up that derailed me and I ended up gaining all the weight back plus some more. I have a tendency to do well for about six months and then start petering out. 

I really don’t want that to happen again. And I don’t trust myself to not mess it up. So I’m feeling a bit on edge. I just want to get past this weight zone and into a lower level so I can assure myself that I’m not going to repeat old history. 

I don’t know what to do about it except make myself self-aware so that my “falling off the wagon” doesn’t happen so slowly and gradually that I don’t really notice. So, right now I am on High Alert as I try to keep this weight coming off. I really don’t want to mess this up. 

Fat Fridays: Success with Low-Carb

Good morning everyone. I hope your week has gone well. I’ve had a super-busy, super-stressful week. But here I am. It’s Friday. I have survived. 

Despite the craziness of this week, (or maybe because?) I managed to lose FIVE pounds since last Friday. I don’t know if I’ve ever lost that much in one week. Which is great because I had stalled out. I had seventeen days where the scale didn’t budge. Of course, during those seventeen days I went on vacation and ate vacation food and then I went on a retreat and ate retreat food and in general I was eating more processed foods. Last Saturday I decided I was going to take a break from grain and sugar (the two things I crave the most) and see if I could get this weight loss moving again. And apparently, it worked. 

I’ve been trying to be really low-key about it. I keep telling myself I’m just going to do this for a week. This is not forever. I have a tendency to go into binge mode whenever I feel like I’m being deprived. So I’ve been trying to be gentle with whatever it is inside of me that reacts that way. Soothing. It’s Ok! You can do this! You can eat that bag of popcorn next week! (I think the bag of BOOM CHICKA POP sweet and salty kettle corn that is in my cupboard has been the only thing that has offered real temptation.) I haven’t missed rice or gluten-free stuff at all. 

I bought this giant box of SPRING MIX mixed greens and that is quickly becoming a main staple. I also found this stuff called SKINNY GIRL salad dressing that has no fat or sugar and actually tastes really good. Only 10 calories per serving. Yay! Cause I can eat all kinds of salad if I have salad dressing. So, my go-to this week has been a big pile of mixed greens with some tomatoes and then some beans and either some grilled meat or some vegan sausages. Add a sprinkle of cheese and the Skinny Girl Honey Dijon dressing and it’s yummy and filling. I’ve also been eating lots of blueberries. 

I’m not sure how long I’ll keep up the NO GRAIN, NO SUGAR. Losing five pounds is pretty motivating though. I’ll definitely do it again this week and see how things go. 

By the way, this weight loss now puts me at a grand total of FORTY-ONE pounds lost! Woohoo. It’s been 6 months and a week since I started this journey. 

Besides changing my diet, I’ve also been exercising more. Or more intensely. I’ve been getting my 10,000 steps most days and I’ve been jogging three times this week. Plus some yoga and weights and swimming. I am finding that an intense workout really helps with all the stress I’ve been going through. I am feeling strong and fit. Which is a brand new sensation for me. 

Well, I’m off for another week of Low-Carb and exercise. I’ll let you know how it’s going next week!

Fat Fridays: Vacations and Diets

I went on a vacation last week. We were gone for five days. I talked to my trainer ahead of time and we talked about things I could do to stay on track with my diet and exercise, but in the end I told her that my main goal was to simply not gain weight while I was gone. And I am happy to say that I accomplished that goal. But it was hard. 

One of the problems was that all the grownups on the trip were tired and weary and cooking was not a top priority. We did a lot of pizza, hotdogs and sandwiches. Cereal. It was a vacation after all. Cooking healthy meals is not exactly what you feel like doing when you are relaxing. I think the other problem is that our family, and the other family we were vacationing with, had all just finished a very long, hard school year. So we were especially tired. 

In order to make up for not eating super healthy I decided I would get more movement in. I made sure I was getting my 10,000 steps a day. I went on walks, bike rides, went swimming…In fact, on the day we went to the beach I got over 20,000 steps! Three miles of that was walking barefoot in a wet swimsuit down the beach. Not something I recommend for overweight people. I’m still recovering from rub burns. I think I was a little obsessive about getting exercise. I got up early (not on purpose, my inner clock was still set to “gettting-kids-to-school” time) and then I would find a private place and do the workout my trainer had set for me. Then I would take a walk in the neighborhood where we were staying. If I didn’t have all my steps at the end of the day, I took another walk. But it worked. Five days of eating pizza and hotdogs and sandwiches and one trip to an icecream place where I indulged in chocolate icecream with all kinds of chocolatey toppings, and I managed to not gain any weight. 

Of course, I didn’t lose any weight either. But the good news is, since I’ve come home, I’ve doubled down on the healthy eating and exercise and have already dropped two pounds in three days. And, after all the indulgence, the healthy food tastes really good. 

I keep having to remind myself that my diet and exercise are not a short-term thing that I’ll just do until I reach my goal. This has to be a complete lifestyle change. Which means that it has to fit with all areas of my life, including vacations. So, I am feeling a bit more confident about the future as I have now tackled staying-healthy-while-on-vacation and have passed the test.