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. 

Emotions Lie

This post is probably a bit off color. Taboo. Things we don’t talk about in mixed company. Sorry. Since this blog is about my life, I get to pick what I write about. 

What has been on my mind this week is how difficult it is to be a woman who is having monthly cycles. For me, once a month, I have an entire week where suddenly my emotions and feelings lie to me. They tell me that I am angry, depressed. There is no hope. Everything is bad. I am a screw up, a failure. I feel tired and run down. Life feels very bleak. And without fail, it usually takes me at least three days before I make the connection…Oh, right. I’m not REALLY depressed and angry. It’s just that time of the month. But the domino effect has already begun. I try to make myself feel better by eating something sweet or some other special treat. I have no energy so maybe I miss a day of exercise. And then I feel worse. I’m so undisciplined. Why can’t I stick to my diet? I’m so lazy. I couldn’t even get out for a walk. 

And then I figure out what’s going on. And it takes me several days to unravel the mess and get myself back on firm ground. And then I move on with life, forget what happened, only to be hit again a month later. 

And reading this, I think, well, duh why haven’t you been more proactive to chart these things and just plan ahead for them? All I can say is, I’m not the most organized person, and life is really busy. I chronically don’t pay attention and then get hit every month. 

And sometimes, the “everything should be fair and equal” part of me rears up a bit in anger. Why is it just women who have to deal with this? And why were we made this way? It seems to be a rather broken system. 

I think this is one of those topics in which I’m going to have to wait till I get to heaven to get the answers.

In the meantime, all I can do is dwell on what I have learned from this aspect of womanhood. 

Here is what I have learned. Emotions and feelings are not reliable, trustworthy or honest indicators of how my life is going. And I constantly have to remind myself of this. One of the things I say to my kids, A LOT, is “Let’s speak some truth over this.” When they tell me about a nightmare that has scared them. A fear that is crippling them. They give me a list of everything that is wrong with life…Ok. Let’s speak some truth over this. Let’s sort out reality from fiction. Let’s count our blessings so we can see that we are actually living in a place of blessing, not curses. Let’s dwell on what God says about us, not what the world says about us. Let’s attack these bad feelings with truth. 

Something we hear a lot in our culture is “Just Follow Your Heart!” And by heart we generally mean what you are feeling. Which seems really weird when feelings are so random and unstable. They are connected to what time of the month it is. Whether we had a lot of inconveniences thrown our way. Whether someone else decided to behave badly toward us. Feelings and emotions are great tools, but only if you don’t take them too seriously. Yeah, I’m feeling really yucky. But that doesn’t mean life is really yucky. It could mean I’m fighting off a cold, my hormones are shifting, my lunch didn’t agree with me. We just have to keep in mind that every surge of emotion needs to be paired up with some truth speaking. 

Fat Fridays: Growth Mindset

This week has been a challenge on the dieting front. My son’s birthday was Monday and he requested Elidio’s pizza (local, family owned, amazing pizza) and Dunkin Donuts. I had to drive to Dunkin Donuts in the morning, which was when I had time, get two dozen assorted donuts and then have them sit in my house all day until after supper, and then supervise handing out two donuts per person. At supper I had eaten a big salad and decided I was going to allow myself to eat one piece of pizza. But then ended up eating a little more. And then I started handing out donuts, and by the time everyone had picked what they wanted, there was this little plain, unfrosted, baked donut. And so I ate it. And then there was one more glazed donut. And I ate that. And then I was really full. 

And felt very guilty. 

Uggh. 

I stuck to my plan though and recorded everything I ate and sent it to my trainer. And then we talked about it the next day. 

Whenever I mess up, my instant default thought pattern is, I’ve blown it, all is ruined now, despair, despair, despair. 

So, it was a little unnerving to have the trainer say stuff like, “Taking a break and eating pizza every once in a while is fine. How can you plan to have a treat in the future without over-doing it?” Like, she wanted me to actually just move on with life and try and learn for the next time…What kind of adulting is this??? 

It happened again today when I reported that last night, when meeting someone at a Mexican Restaurant, I ate more chips and salsa than I had originally planned on doing. Her attitude was, Ok, what strategies can we think of that will help you next time you are in the same situation? 

And I’m sitting over here telling my “failure and despair” voice to be quiet, cause I’m trying to hear this good advice someone is giving me. 

It occurred to me today that what my trainer is trying to do is inspire a Growth Mindset in me. 

I found this article that gave some good examples of what a growth mindset is. 

The example that stood out to me was:

Fixed Mindset: Failure is the limit of my abilities.

Growth Mindset: Failure is just an opportunity to grow.

I definitely struggle with this. I fail at something and instantly feel like it’s GAME OVER. Which is especially unhelpful when you are on a weight loss journey. Yes, I’ve messed up. That doesn’t mean that I just throw the diet out the window and go back to my unhealthy ways. Instead, I can study my failure, figure out what went wrong, and make strategies for how to do better. 

The next family birthday (which is actually this Saturday), I plan on cooking myself a special treat (I’m thinking baked green plantain with just a touch of spray olive oil and salt and maybe some grilled chicken) and then I am going to have canned peaches while everyone else eats cake. (I happen to think canned peaches are a treat.) Next time I end up at a Mexican Restaurant, I’m just going to ask the waitress/waiter to not bring out chips or, better yet, I’m going to avoid Mexican Restaurants until my self-control is stronger. 

So, hurray for my trainer and all the new things she is teaching me!

Always Failing at Something

Do you have that One Thing that is always ready to jump out of the corner and condemn you? Like, you’re walking along, thinking that you are actually an Ok human being. You are handling life pretty good. In fact, you might even be doing well. And then that One Thing jumps out with it’s jeering face and says, Oh yeah? What about this??? And you hang your head in shame. Oh yeah. I forgot about that. I guess I’m not really doing that great. 

For me it tends to be a messy house. I’ll be assessing how the day is going. Ok, lets see. We homeschooled today, that went well. I’ve cooked all the meals. Had some good quality time reading aloud to the kids. I made a lunch for my husband. I’ve eaten healthy today. Got in my workout. Had my devotions. Yep. I’m doing ok. Then here comes the voice. 

Oh yeah? Have you looked at your house?? It’s a mess! You’re behind with the laundry! Those pots have been “soaking” for a really long time. The kids can’t find anything on their school shelf, it’s such a cluttered mess. We won’t even bring up subjects like mopping and dusting! 

And my little ego deflates. Oh yeah. I actually kinda suck. 

Of course, this is a glimpse into just how performance-oriented my self-esteem is. If I am doing good things then I must be good and have worth. If I am failing in any area then I must be bad. Not really worthy at all. 

And unfortunately, there is always something or some area where I am failing. And this means that my default attitude towards myself tends to be rather negative. 

It makes me think about my spiritual walk. Jesus is all about grace. But my default position, when I think about God, is that he is all about law. If you fail these commandments, this is the list of punishments you will get. If you aren’t careful, you will be burned up in God’s wrath. 

I have heard the sermons, I’ve read the scriptures. I know, in my head, that I am forgiven. That Jesus’ goodness covers over all my badness and cancels it out. I know that the Holy Spirit is living inside of me, slowly changing my heart to be more like Jesus. I know that he sees me through eyes of love and grace. But I still wrestle. My default is still law and punishment. Condemnation. 

I’m a work in progress. I have to constantly remind myself that I am loved, forgiven, a daughter of the King. 

So, today, as my brain started beating me up about what a horrible housekeeper I am, I tried to exercise some grace. Yes. The house is rather messy right now. So what? There’s a lot of good reasons why it’s in that state. Is the world going to end if it doesn’t get cleaned today? Nope. Does a messy house mean I am a horrible person? Not really. Are you ever going to get your house clean? Sure, I’m planning on getting it done this weekend! Ok. Then you are fine. You have permission to ignore the mean voice whispering in your ear. 

Romans 3: 20-24

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Sometimes Life is not Fun

Back in October we got a new puppy. He was sweet and cuddly and we all loved him. He got along well with our other pets and seemed to love all the attention from the kids. We quickly discovered that he was deaf. Ok. Well, we can overcome that. We did some research. Started trying to teach him hand signals. 

The only problem with this puppy was that he bit the kids sometimes. Well, he’s a puppy. Puppies do that. His breed is known for being nippy. We worked with the kids more about respecting his space, not bothering him when he was asleep, not teasing him in any way. 

And then he bit two of our kids really badly. Ok. Step back. Reassess. Maybe this puppy is not going to work out after all. My husband started asking around if anyone was interested in rehoming him. No takers. I didn’t want to rehome him, he saw us as his family. 

Then he started attacking anyone that came close to our yard. Not good. My kids have neighborhood friends who like to come over and play. We started having to be hyper-vigilant about the dog and anyone who wasn’t in our family. I looked up on the internet how to deal with aggressive dogs. There are a lot of good training programs out there. They all cost a lot more money than I have available. I called our vet, she said not to keep him. If he’s having this problem now, it isn’t going to get better. But, maybe we weren’t reading the situation correctly? Surely we couldn’t just give up on him? 

Then at the end of last week he bit one of my kids in the face. Completely unprovoked. I saw the whole thing. Child was innocent. Ok. What do we do???? A couple days later a relative who has spent lots of time with the puppy, in and out of our house, came to visit. The dog bolted out our door and attacked them, bit them, hurt them. 

Yesterday I called our local shelter and they said that they do have a program for aggressive dogs. We would have to surrender him and they would keep him isolated and then have a professional behavior specialist work with him until he was adoptable. I had to tell the kids and then take him to the shelter and leave him there. 

I left him in his cage and then walked out, got into my car, and sobbed my heart out. 

I hate it. 

I came home, took the kids away from the house for the day. While we were gone my husband removed the dog kennel from the hall. 

This morning the house feels empty and quiet without all his pent up energy wiggling around. My dog Todd looks sad. The kids asked to see pictures of him before they went to school. 

Sometimes life is not fun. 

Panic Attack

I found myself having a panic attack and decided to write my way through it. Here’s a snapshot of what is going on in my brain during a panic attack..

I’m having a rough day. I had to take my nine year old to the hospital for surgery early this morning to get rods put into her broken arm. My other daughter is sick and I will be heading off to another doctor’s appointment this afternoon to help her. I’ve been fighting a cold for ten days and in this era where Covid fear rages, having a cold is not a small thing. 

Today my mind is stewing on silly things. An online conversation with a blogger that turned into a veiled interrogation of me and my life choices. A scary notion that I am failing in this game called life. An overwhelming feeling of impending doom. 

And suddenly, I stop and realize that I’ve got things flipped upside down in my mind. In my mind, all these crazy things are happening, and as a result, I am responding with anxiety. 

I think the actual truth is I am struggling with anxiety and so everything that happens is being filtered through that anxiety and blown way out of proportion. My life isn’t causing me anxiety and stress. My anxiety is causing my life to feel anxious, stressful. 

Next question, why am I feeling so much anxiety? 

Typical culprits: lack of sleep, social media and the news, having to forego church due to sickness in our house, being physically sick myself.

When you can sit back and analyze things, it helps take off that big load of self-condemnation. Cause when I’m feeling anxiety, I feel like a personal failure. I have failed. I am not at peace. I must be feeling anxious because I’ve done something wrong. Not just that I’ve done something wrong, but that there is something inherently wrong with me. 

So, it’s time to hit the Refresh button. Speak some truth. 

I am Esther, daughter of the King. I have been saved. God no longer looks at my sin, but instead looks at me and sees Jesus’ goodness. My future lies with spending eternity with God. I am loved. God has blessed me with parents and parents-inlaw and a brother and brothers and sisters in law who love me. I have been blessed with a husband who loves me and children who are amazing. I belong to a church body that is there for me, that regularly supports me in all ways. Our world is crazy right now with political upheaval and covid, but God is still on his throne, none of this is a surprise to him. I am not perfect, but when I make mistakes, it’s not the end of the world. I can apologize. I can make restitution. I can go back and try again. 

My life is in God’s hands. 

So, I say Thank you Lord for this beautiful day. Thank you that my daughter made it safely through surgery. Thank you that my other daughter has a doctor she can visit and that medicine is available. Thank you for freedom of speech in that, so far, we are still able to hold opposing opinions with others and live in a diverse world. Thank you that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that you thought creating me, in all my quirkiness, was a good idea. 

These verses come to mind..

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

NOT a Bad Day

I needed to write. So you all get a bonus Blog today. 

 

My lifetime enemy, depression, has been rearing its ugly head lately. I’ve been in denial. I’m fine. I’ve got this. I’m ok. Then today, when I found myself glued to my chair, not wanting to move, except to climb into bed and sleep, I realized, oh, yes, I recognize this pattern. 

 

I’ve decided to fight back a bit. The worst thing about depression is that it whispers, “Failure!” in my ear, constantly. So, I have decided to compile a list of ways that I did not fail today. Speak a bit of truth. 

 

First, my two and five year old boys, who were in my charge all day, are alive and well. They ate, got cleaned, played, watched tv, went outside. As far as they are concerned, it was a great day.

I got all my school age kids to and from school without a hitch, and they are all in a good mood, playing with friends.

Supper is cooking. The dishes are caught up. The laundry is doing ok. The downstairs of the house is clean. Sure, I paid the kids to clean it because I wasn’t able to force myself to do it. But, the kids got some pocket money, they’re happy, it was cheaper than hiring a maid, and I can say that I used my delegating skills.

I also signed our family up for health insurance for the next year on Healthcare.gov, which is a soul-sucking experience in itself. It actually took me two days to finish the whole application. But, it’s done! 

 

I kept the fire going in the woodstove. 

 

I’m getting along with my husband. 

 

My pets are happy. 

 

It wasn’t a failure day.

 

So, for all my friends out there fighting depression and anxiety, this is actually a pretty good tool. Write down everything that was right in the day, even if you have to grasp at straws, like, The sun came up today and set as normal. No tornadoes blew my house down. My car didn’t explode. I didn’t catch the plague… See! It works! I’m feeling better already. 🙂 

 

Thanks for listening. 

 

 

Which Voice Will You Listen To?

The last couple of days I have had some loud voices in my head. The first voice has been systematically pointing out all the ways that I’m failing. It has pointed out the dust and cobwebs that I haven’t gotten around to cleaning. It has pointed a finger at my pantry that needs a serious overhaul. It has reminded me that I have a hole in my dining room floor that needs repairing. It has kept a tally for every time I have lost patience with my children and yelled. It has shone a spotlight on each of my children when they have not obeyed or been sassy. It even brought up some old stuff, like the fact that I didn’t write my (now deceased) grandmother regular letters when I was younger. Every time I have put any food in my mouth it has shouted out how I am a fraud, I claim to be a Christian, but here I am being a glutton and stuffing my face. If I just had enough faith, I would overcome this sin habit. 

 

This voice has been responsible for at least one day where I could barely drag myself out of bed. I would say it has also been responsible for the sharper tone of voice I’ve been using. And it probably plays a big part in why I’ve been losing my temper so quickly. It’s really hard to be nice when you are fighting a feeling of worthlessness. 

 

I said that there were voices, more than one. There has also been another voice. It’s been quieter, but it’s still been there. It’s the voice that quietly says, being a mom is hard, you’re doing a good job. It’s softly said, here, you have some spare time, why don’t you get on your elliptical for a while? It’s calmly reminded me to go and apologize to my little boys for yelling. It’s urged me to pull out my Bible in the mornings, instead of staring at Facebook. It’s whispered, You are Saved by Grace, not by Works. It’s gently suggested I put on some praise music while cleaning to counterbalance how annoyed I always get when cleaning up my kids’ messes. When I have completely given in to fear, it’s firmly told me to recite my creed of faith, ground myself again in truth. 

 

It’s taken me a couple days to realize that there is actually a battle going on in my brain. And I have to make a choice. Which voice am I going to listen to? One is the voice of judgement. The other is the voice of love. 

 

I’m thinking I need some love. 

 

You would think I would recognize immediately that one voice is for me and the other is against and I would just shut down the ugly voice. Life has been a little crazy lately. We’re going through a lot of transition and we have a lot of things in limbo at the moment. And that makes me feel insecure. And feeling insecure makes me lose my vision. And suddenly that loud obnoxious voice kind of sounds like it’s speaking the truth. And the more I listen to that voice, the louder it gets. 

 

Honestly, about the only way I can break free of that voice is to purposefully focus on truth. What does God’s word say? What does God say about me? 

 

As I was writing this, I took a short break and checked my Facebook. My sister-in-law had just posted a song on her page. It was just what I needed to hear. 

 

I hope you have time to click on this link, it’s a song about listening to the voice of love. 

You Say by Lauren Daigle

May you have the grace to listen to the voice of love this week.

 

 

Fat Fridays: Confessions

Confession.

I am addicted to food. Not in the good way that everyone is, where you need food to keep you alive. No, I have a dependency on food to help me feel better when I’m stressed, or angry, or fidgety, or worried, or bored. I do not use food to keep me alive. I use food to alter my mood. In fact, the foods that I choose to alter my mood are slowly killing me. And I know this. And then life gets really stressful and I reach for the junk, the sugar and highly processed foods because, for a couple minutes, they make me feel better.

 

Confession.

 

I am not superwoman. I read all these accounts of men and women who have struggled with weight for years, and then one day, they just decide to stop. They exert their willpower and inner strength and somehow manage to completely alter their course in life. I keep thinking that I can be one of those people. I will exert my amazing will power. I will summon up my inner strength. I will take amazing Before and After pictures and wow the world with my amazing feat of weight loss. Look at me, I’m so amazing….Except that, I’m not. Amazing. The longest I’ve been able to exert my will power is about 9 months and then I give in to the old cravings and the old lifestyle and I’m back to square one. 

 

Confession.

 

I am not really smart and wise when it comes to health and nutrition. I keep thinking that I will just do enough research, read enough books, and then, Voila! I will know exactly what I should and shouldn’t eat. When I should and shouldn’t eat. What supplements I should take every day. I’ll figure out the exact perfect exercise plan and system. I’m smart. I just need to do a little research. In fact, I actually am as gullible as the next person, just as susceptible to the current trends as everyone else. I have read and heard so many different diets and health plans that my head is literally spinning. I have NO idea who is right. Keto, low-carb, vegan, calorie counting, low-fat, carb counting, portion control. Who knows? Gentle walking, brisk walking, interval training, yoga, pilates, weight lifting, all of the above. Who knows? 

 

Confession.

 

I am at the end of myself. I need to change. My weight keeps getting worse. My health is getting worse. My quality of life is getting worse. I do not want to stay in this place. And I don’t know how to get out of this place. I am thoroughly stuck. 

 

Conclusion.

 

I just went and read through the 12 Steps for AA. I don’t think I knew how wrapped up in God those steps are. 

 

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 
  4. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 
  5. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 
  6. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 
  7. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 
  8. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 
  9. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 
  10. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 
  11. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

 

Copyright  1952, 1953, 1981 by Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing (now known as Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.) All rights reserved. Rev. 8/16 

 

I think what I need is a meeting for food addicts. Do they exist? If they don’t, they should. 

 

Fat Fridays: Update

Hey Everyone,

So, I haven’t posted here in a while. I’m just going to give you a quick update. I’m not done with Fat Fridays. I plan to keep posting. But, I always want this site to be honest and upfront. And Honestly, I don’t feel like being honest and upfront with the world right now. I’m in full-blown retreat at the moment trying to figure out what is wrong with me and why can’t I just get on board with health and start making good changes and just lose this weight. What’s wrong with me?

Right now I have nothing to say.  And I don’t want to lie or keep on boring you with all my failures. So, I’m stopping for a little while until I can get my equilibrium back. I hope to be back soon.

Until then…