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: 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. 

A Little Perspective

Right now, as I sit in my room, on our first day of Fall Break I can hear my fifteen year old, four, and seven year old discussing rivers and lakes in the kitchen. The fifteen year old made them all some hot cocoa and they are all sitting together happily chatting about the world they live in. My other seven year old is playing outside on the rope swing with two other neighborhood girls. My middleschool boys wanted to play minecraft so, to earn their time, they cleaned the entire downstairs and washed the dishes. My seventeen year old has been researching job options. I sat in my chair and read Dr. Seuss to the three youngest, all of them squeezing onto my lap. We had an intense discussion later, trying to decide what kind of accent our dog would have if he could talk. Since he’s half Irish Setter, my vote is Irish. Other activities that have happened today are lego building, a playdough session, fortress building with blocks, and a lot of lolling around together being lazy. 

Last night I was sitting in my chair, feeling a bit depressed. My husband asked what I was doing and I said I was contemplating my life. Oh, don’t do that, he said. Why don’t you look at pictures on your phone instead, that always helps. And this morning, while I was waiting for my son while he got his vision check up, I started scrolling through pictures from this past year. All pictures of my kids. A handful of pictures of my husband. Hardly any of me. (I need to do something about that.) But, kids are so much more fun to take pictures of. They are so beautiful, cute and sweet. And wow, we have some really good memories from this year. 

And today, as I’ve taken a step back and just watched my kids, I wonder what had me so depressed last night. I can’t even remember. Probably thinking about all the repair work we need to do on our house, or projects that need to get done. Things that really aren’t that important. The important things, namely my family, they are all doing pretty good. 

Sometimes I kind of lose sight of what I am doing. I get caught up in future dreams and goals. My own personal goals. The craziness of the world we are living in. And I forget that right now, my primary job is MOM. And it’s a worthy job. I’m not doing it perfectly, but I’m giving it my best effort. 

A couple weeks ago, a cousin of mine posted a very old picture of my great grandmother. It was a striking picture. She died in 1953 and while I had heard references to her a couple times, I knew nothing about her. I asked my cousin if she had any information and she sent me my great-grandmother’s Eulogy that my great grandfather had written. He talked about what a great wife, mother, friend, and Christian woman that she was. I was a little disappointed because I was hoping to learn more about her interests and personality, family history etc. But, as I think about it more, the Eulogy covered the most important facts. It covered the legacy part of who she was, the things that were passed forward to the next generations. She raised healthy, well rounded children. Taught them to love the Lord, modeled Christian living and service. One of her sons became a missionary, two others became pastors, her daughter was a well-loved teacher. And those children passed the same values down to the next generation, and then it got passed down to me. And now, here I am, trying to pass the same thing down to my children. 

I wrote recently about struggling with being the parent of grown up children, the lack of guarantees.  I have no idea what each of my children will do with their lives in the future, that is up to them, but I still have to do my part well. What I’m doing right now is important. I remember when I got pregnant with my first child and my husband said, this is the most important thing we will ever do. And I agree. My eulogy will not have anything in it about how well fixed up my house was. It probably won’t mention the vacations I’ve gone on or fun adventures I’ve had. It might not even mention things I enjoy doing like playing piano or writing. But, it will talk about what kind of wife and mother I was. What kind of friend I was. What kind of Christian I was. And that means that today, hanging out with my kids, taking them to doctor appointments, fixing them a hot supper, reading books, having devotions together…these are the most important things I will ever do. 

Fat Fridays: Progress and Setting New Goals

Happy Fat Friday, that wonderful time of the week when we ponder on all things weightloss and health. I’m sorry I missed last week. To be honest I thought about writing all day, but my brain was so dead I just couldn’t do it. We were finishing up our last days of quarantining and the stress was buildling up. The school had told me the kids could return that Friday, then on Thursday, after further consultation, they said, sorry, next Tuesday instead. And my heart faltered and I think I mostly just stared into space all day while kids careened around the house crazily and I counted down the hours before we could get back into a good routine again. 

So, kids are finally back in school and I finally got my house back in order and am feeling like I might have my life back in control again. Part of getting my life back in control this week was sorting through all the clothes in my closet. I gave away three garbage bags of clothes this week. All clothes that are now too big for me, or clothes my size that I had been saving, but now that I’m this size, I realize that these clothes simply aren’t flattering. They don’t make me happy. So they’re gone. Yay! My closet feels so much nicer now! And it’s pretty fun to get rid of clothes that are too big. 

I have to say, it was a step of faith to get rid of my summer clothes that I just wore this summer. The nagging thought of, What if you don’t lose weight between now and next summer?  You’ll wish you had these clothes! But I was firm. No. These clothes are NOT going to fit me next summer because I’m going to continue working hard and I’m going to continue to lose weight. No going backwards!! I ditched the clothes. 

I started this weight loss journey somewhere around January 20th of this year. I have now lost 50 pounds. And I had a goal to be a size 16 by my birthday and I’ve hit my goal. So, now it’s time to set some new goals. Small ones that I can reach quickly. I really want to lose another 13 pounds. I’d really love to have that off by Christmas. I’m not sure if I can do it or not, but it’s worth a try. I’d also like to plan to go on a big hike sometime soon. Work on increasing my stamina with my workouts so the hike will be fun instead of grueling. We’ll see. I think the main thing for me is looking forward, having something to hope for. I really need that. 

In the meantime, I will continue on this messy journey called life where nothing is ever perfect, things never quite match up the way you want it, and progress is a series of ups and downs. Talk to you all next week. 

Fat Fridays: Which Direction are You Looking?

Losing weight is kind of a funny thing. You drop some pounds and you look at yourself and you’re so excited. I look great! I look so much better! Isn’t this wonderful! But then, after a while you start looking at yourself and thinking, man, I need to lose so much more weight. Look at all this fat. This is so depressing. 

It really has to do with your perspective. Which direction are you looking? If you’re looking backwards then losing weight feels great. I used to be THIS much and now I’m a lot less!! Yay me!! But when you’re looking forwards, it can get depressing. I want to weigh THIS much and I still have so far to go. Uggh. 

This week I found myself kind of in the UGGH category. I’ve lost a lot of weight (44 pounds as of this morning!), but in order to hit my goal weight, I still have 62 pounds to go. Argh. I’ve been having to encourage myself. I’ve been keeping a log of my weight loss and I went back and looked at the numbers. Ok, a month ago you weighed this much, you’ve made a lot of progress! 

It also makes me think about the WHY of weight loss. Why am I doing this? I know when I was in my teens and twenties, weight loss was about achieving a certain look. I want to wear THIS size clothing. I want my measurements to be THIS much. If I can look like that model in the magazine, then I will be happy. And I think I thought I would be happy because then I would be attractive enough. Which is what our culture teaches us. You have to look a certain way or you are not really worthy of being loved. 

Well, I have been happily married for almost twenty-two years now and my husband has proved to me that he is capable of loving me through thick or thin. And while I would love to look my best for him, I don’t feel like I have to look a certain way to be lovable. (I say that breezily, but it was a long, hard-fought journey to get to this place.) 

I now find myself being motivated a lot more by health concerns. I am prediabetic. I know that my weight is a major contributing factor. I have spent long periods of my life completely inactive and I feel like I’m missing out on things I want to do because my body simply isnt’ strong enough to do it. I want to climb mountains, go on long bike rides, go running. I want to have energy to do active things with my kids instead of just watching from a chair. 

These past six months as I have been exercising daily, losing weight, getting stronger, I have started to appreciate and love my body more. Look at you! Look at what you just did! I am excited to think of all the things I will be able to do as I shed more and more weight. 

But, all of this brings me to the final point I want to make. This week I was at the park taking a long walk, almost four miles. It was so nice to be outside in nature. The sunlight was at that perfect evening slant, the trees were shimmering in the breeze, the grass was extra green. It was just a perfect time. And I was thinking about my goals, ONE DAY, I’ll be at the weight I want. ONE DAY I’ll have arrived. And I was thinking about my WHY for weight loss. And it occurred to me that I was already doing my WHY. I was taking time for myself to get out in nature and walk. I was being active and doing something I liked. I don’t have to wait for some nebulous time in the future when my scale finally says the magic number. I’m already living the life that I want. Right here, in the present. And instead of swiveling my head back and forth: future, past; focusing on the here and now seems better. 

Fat Fridays: Climbing Back on the Wagon

If you’ve read my previous blog, you’ll know that I had a pretty rough week. On Monday there was a shooting in my daughter’s highschool and it was a very chaotic, stressful afternoon. It was also one of my younger daughter’s birthdays. Fortunately, we had a birthday party on the weekend, so she had been fully celebrated before Monday. I still wanted to make the day special for her and I had plans to make spaghetti for her and then serve the rest of the birthday cake left over from the party. I had made lentils at lunch time, and I was planning on eating lentils and vegetables for supper while everyone else had spaghetti. 

Then, just when school was going to be let out, craziness erupted. School lockdowns, police, sirens, helicopters… After finally getting all my kids home, I sat in my room, listening to the live news reports, scanning other news sites, fielding calls and texts from people who were worried about our family. 

In the middle of all this my husband suddenly asked, Do you want me to just order some pizza for supper? What? No! I’m supposed to make spaghetti. Then I looked at the time. It was already six o’clock and I hadn’t even started the meal. Oops. I pondered whether I had the energy to just do a speed-cooking session and make it happen anyway. No. I did not have the energy. Ok. Order pizza. 

When the pizza showed up I was in an I-don’t-care mode. I helped myself to two slices. They tasted great. I served up cake and served myself a piece too, though I did scrape off all the icing (just cause I’m not an icing fan, not because I was counting calories). The cake didn’t taste as good. In fact, the rest of the evening I felt full and bloated. Not the best feeling, but it didn’t stop me from grabbing one more piece of pizza later, when I stayed up late to watch a movie. 

So, the question is, what do you do the next day, when you’ve ditched your diet? That is always a dangerous time for me. I’ve broken the rules once, why can’t I break them again? Fortunately, I had some encouragement from my trainer and from my mom and it helped me get out of the anything-goes mentality and remember that my diet is still important to me, even when I am extremely stressed. 

The rest of this week has gone well as far as diet and exercise are concerned. I have been clinging to my exercise routines as a balm for my nerves and trying to make good choices with my food. 

Life is crazy. There are going to be moments where eating a careful diet just isn’t an option, either physically, or mentally. And for me, the part I have to work on, is getting back on track after swerving off for a moment. Part of what has also helped me this week is just remembering why I am doing this. Good blood sugar, energy, health, fitness. I especially need these things when I am going through a stressful moment in life. I just have to keep reminding myself. I forget so quickly. 

Fat Fridays: Fighting Stress

Emotional eating has always been a thing for me. It’s a source of comfort for every imaginable problem. Since I started this journey, about six weeks ago, I noticed that after the first couple weeks, food stopped having such a strong hold on me. I haven’t been tempted to grab something every time my mood swings. I think a big part of it is that I am losing weight, and I have a definite goal that I want to achieve this year, and that goal has been front and center in my mind. No, I don’t want to just eat whatever, whenever. I wouldn’t reach my goal if I do that!

This week has been a bit of a test. On Wednesday I received word that my father’s cousin had died, (someone I had made a connection with online and who often commented on my posts and engaged in conversation with me), and then that same evening I received word that a dear lady from our church (who had long been a source of encouragement to me) had also died, of covid. 

I admit, my first reaction was that I just wanted to binge eat. Forget this diet. I’m just going to make a bunch of food and eat it. Maybe I will feel better. But, by the grace of God, I walked past the fridge and went in my room and cried instead. Which is actually what I needed to do, instead of trying to stuff the emotions down with food. 

The next day I was pretty out of it. We’ve had a lot of death in our neighborhood due to gun violence and everything just seemed to be crushing me down. My trainer asked how things were going, and I mentioned briefly what was going on. She suggested that I use exercise as therapy, and later that day I went outside for a long brisk walk in the sunshine. It helped. 

In the past, I have always had this mentality that I can’t start a diet until my life calms down. Like, adding a diet and exercise to an already stressed out life would just send me over the brink. But this year I am realizing that the exercise and diet are actually tools to help deal with the stress. Bingeing on donuts does not help you deal with stress. Knowing that you are eating healthy DOES make you feel better though. Like, the world is falling apart, but at least I am taking care of my body! 

In other news, I woke up early this morning and took my fasting blood sugar and it was 96!! I haven’t had a reading below 100 in years. That also made me feel better. 

So, my takeaway for this week is diet and exercise aren’t causing me stress, they’re fighting stress. 

Just Keep Cooking

So, the other night I experienced a new Low in cooking. While cooking brats on my grill, I somehow managed to set them all on fire. I mean REALLY on fire. Like, I took them off the grill with my tongs and put them on a plate and there were still flames coming out of them on the plate. This is a first for me. 

 

The experience can now join my Hall of Flame cooking disasters. Like the time I put on a pot of frozen green beans, covered them with water, put them on to boil, and then forgot them long enough that all the water evaporated and the green beans burned to the bottom of the pot. I was pretty impressed with that one. 

 

Or the time my husband bought me a very expensive pot with a steamer insert option. I filled up the steamer bowl with broccoli, turned on the stove, and waited. And waited and waited. I kept cracking the lid to check on the broccoli and it remained unchangingly raw. Then I started hearing weird sounds from the pot. My husband came in the kitchen to talk to me while I was cooking and I mentioned that I couldn’t figure out why on earth this broccoli was taking so long to cook. He lifted the lid, looked inside, then asked, Did you put any water in the pot? …….Ummm. No. I think I forgot that step. 

That little “oops” damaged the bottom of my pot to the point that it was unusable. 

 

I’ve had a couple times when flames have erupted from my stove top due to me accidentally leaving a dishtowel on the burner. 

 

I’ve had multiple times where I have put a pot of food on the stove to cook and come back much later and realized I never turned the burner on. 

 

I’ve baked double batches of muffins only to realize, when I taste them, that I forgot some important ingredient like salt or sugar. 

 

I exploded potatoes in my oven once. 

 

One time I baked a casserole in the oven in a glass casserole dish. When it was done I took it out of the oven, placed it on the stove top, and let it sit for a couple minutes to cool. Unfortunately, I hadn’t realized that one of the stove burners was on. The glass dish heated up and then exploded all over the kitchen. I think we ended up going out to eat that night. 

 

Most of my cooking problems are related to the fact that I am very absent-minded and also constantly being distracted by a houseful of children. 

 

Here’s the thing. I haven’t stopped cooking. I don’t have any intentions to stop cooking. Every day, I get up and make sure the family is fed three times a day. Little mistakes and really BIG mistakes have not stopped me from trying once again. 

 

Now, if I could somehow get that same tenacity for other areas in my life. Areas like rocky relationships, health goals, self-discipline goals.

 

 I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged the last couple days, just feeling like I have failed to accomplish my goals so many times, maybe I should just give up. But really, I just need to adopt the “cooking mistakes” approach. You mess up, you apologize to whoever is affected by the mistake, you clean up the mess, you keep cooking. 

 

Everyone Needs a Manifesto

Today I have been focusing on piano. Piano teaching to be exact. In the fall I will be teaching piano lessons at our church’s homeschooling co-op which meets once a week. I will have four students this year. I had two students last year. I am slowly sticking my toe into the waters of Piano Teaching. My end goal is to teach lessons from my home when all my kids are in school, hopefully focusing on the home school crowd who have the flexibility to take lessons during the day instead of during after-school hours. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime I am slowly feeling my way forward in the realm of teaching. I have been looking at all kinds of different piano teaching curriculum. Reading reviews. Watching tutorials. I am also brushing off my own piano books, starting to set some goals for myself in learning new pieces and brushing up on my music theory. 

As I’ve been doing all of this, it occurred to me that I should write a Piano Teacher’s Manifesto. Kind of a written statement of what my goals are for teaching piano. I’ve been jotting down different ideas today, trying to figure out what is important to me and what isn’t important to me. I think I can boil down my ideas into two key points. 1. I want to share the joy of music: expose kids to all kinds of music and hopefully pass on the wonder and delight I feel when I listen to music. 2. I want to make music accessible to them: give them the skills they need so that they can participate in music and also let them realize they can enjoy and participate in music no matter what skill level they are at. 

Once I have a manifesto then I have a measuring stick. When I consider different curriculum I can ask the question, Will this curriculum enable me to fulfill the goals of my manifesto? When I plan out my lessons and recitals I can always be making sure my methods line up with my goals. A manifesto is a very useful tool. 

It occurs to me that I should have manifestos for other areas in my life. Like parenting. What are my goals for parenting? Teach my children to know and love the God of the Bible.  Teach my children how to love and respect the people around them. Teach my children how to become responsible citizens. All the parenting methods I use, all the decisions I make should be lining up with those goals. 

How about a manifesto for my online presence? Something to regulate how I act on Facebook and my blog and anywhere else I might show up. How about: Be respectful and kind at all times, reflect character that is pleasing to God. If I was tech-savvy, I could somehow make a little window pop up every time I’m about to hit POST or COMMENT…Is this content Respectful and Kind and Pleasing to God? I would have to hit the YES button on the window before I could go ahead and hit enter. 

Ok, I’m on a roll now…How about a manifesto for my marriage? Let’s see. All my words and actions should have the purpose of encouraging and building up my spouse and promoting unity between us. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little voice reminding you of that manifesto every time you opened your mouth to speak..”Is this going to encourage him? Is this going to promote unity?” 

Anyway, I’m having fun with the whole idea of writing down my goals so that I have some direction when I need to make decisions. Maybe I’ll expand this to a House Cleaning Manifesto, Money Spending Manifesto, and Book Reading Manifesto!