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. 

Updates and Manga

I wanted to give you all an update on our meeting that we had last week concerning our foster child. The meeting went really well and we were able to come up with a timeline that is long enough to enable a slow, hopefully smooth transition, with a lot of safety measures in place. It was definitely an answer to prayer and I am feeling a lot more peace about the upcoming changes. 

The meeting was Friday afternoon. On Saturday morning my husband went running with me (a sign of true husbandly devotion) and then I came home and ended up doing almost nothing, all day long. I was wiped out from stress. But I have felt God’s mercy on me as the last couple days have been worry-free, slow, and peaceful. 

In other news, this past weekend, I started reading one of my daughter’s manga. Basically, comic books. It’s a romance manga that my daughter really liked, and we used to tease her about it. Then for her birthday, we bought the anime series and all watched it with her, and it was so wonderfully sweet and fluffy that me and all the little kids fell in love with it. In a culture where “romance” is often just another word for pornography, it was very nice to see a version of romance where handholding is about the raciest thing that happens. 

My kids have been laughing about me reading this, but I have to explain a bit why this has grabbed my fancy. I have always had a fascination with how people interact with each other. The role of power and submission, friendship, protectors, the heroes, the villains. How it all plays out. And I have so many questions. Why are we drawn to these kinds of characters? Why do we think that this kind of interaction is “sweet”. It was really interesting to see drawn out pictures, cartoons,  of all these tropes that appear in every kind of literature I’ve ever read. My interest is not so much in the story, but rather the stereotypes that they are representing and trying to understand why these stereotypes show up so often. 

I’ve been thinking a lot, too, about the nature of Jesus. Our perceptions of him. How we interact with him. The connections between the literature we love, and our inner desires for a relationship with God. Because I do see a lot of connections. I look at this cartoon in this silly manga, and I find something inside of me is stirred, and I have to ask, what inner longings do I have that draw me to this caricature? And I find myself setting the book down and asking God about it. These stories that captivate us only do so because they are a shadow of what God originally designed for us in the Garden of Eden. So what is this desire and how do I find the real version of it in God? And it’s actually been a rather nice time of talking to God. I don’t feel like I’m getting all the answers, but I really feel like he is listening to me. 

The verses that he has put in my mind this morning are ones like Jeremiah 29:13:

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

And Matthew 7:7:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

I just feel like God is saying, No you don’t understand it fully right now, but keep asking questions. Keep looking. You’re looking for me, and I want to be found. 

And I feel encouraged. God can be found in the craziest places, even in an anime cartoon. 

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: 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 Story Behind Every Cookie

I just made chocolate chip cookies with my eight year old. After the cookies went into the oven to bake, she ran off to play, and I was the one who carefully watched the timer and made sure the cookies came out at the exact right time, quickly sliding them off the cooking sheet onto a cooling rack so they wouldn’t overcook on the sheet. And it suddenly brought back memories. 

My friend Alyssa taught me how to make chocolate chip cookies. My mom was not a cookie maker. No one can beat my mom’s raisin cinnamon rolls or her brownies, but cookies were not her thing. So, I moved to Bethel, Alaska just before my 16th birthday without the great life skill of knowing how to make good cookies. 

Alyssa and I met pretty soon after I moved to Bethel, and our friendship quickly grew into Best-Friend-dom. We were in the same grade at school. Being a Christian was important to both of us. And that’s about all we had in common. Well, we both got good grades in school. She was on all the sports teams, President of the Student Body, involved in every single leadership thing there was and graduated Valedictorian. I practiced piano all the time, loved to read, had a quirky sense of humor, and did not hold any positions of leadership. I ended up being Class Secretary senior year because of her interference. She also would make crazy suggestions like, Let’s Go Running! What??? But, we adapted. I went running, she watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail with me. I like to think that we were good for each other. 

But let’s get back to cookies. Alyssa’s family had the secret “Mrs Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookies” recipe (which Alyssa copied into a recipe book and gave to me for a wedding present and which I have passed down to all my children). One time I checked, very carefully, and was able to see that yes, there were some slight variations from her recipe and the recipe that comes on the chocolate chip bag.. But, I honestly think that the Key to her amazing cookies was knowing the exact amount of time to cook them. It’s a science. It’s taken me many years to figure it out perfectly, but Alyssa, you will be glad to know, I am now a master too! 

Alyssa’s house was the perfect tundra-living house. It was two stories, but all the living areas and kitchen were on the 2nd story. That way, you had a breathtaking view of snow and lights, sky, stars, going on for miles and miles. I remember long winter evenings at her house. We would bake cookies while munching on chips and salsa (also something Alyssa introduced me to). We would make the perfect cookies, play games, talk. Sometimes I’d play their piano and we would all sing together. Or we would go out and play in the snow. Alyssa and her family introduced me to the “STEAM” which is a far-north tradition. Small wooden building full of hot steam, so hot that you end up walking outside in Alaska winter in your swimsuit and it doens’t affect you. Her family also introduced me to Lefse (Norwegian potato pancakes), snowmobiling, and all the thrills of having a Dad who worked for Fish and Wildlife and was a trapper on the side. 

I get up from writing and go in the kitchen to grab a cookie. They sure are good. It’s funny how layered our lives are. We bake some cookies, but oh, all the stories and history behind that simple cookie. It’s good to take the time to remember every once in a while. 

P.S. My husband is back at work, mostly recovered from his covid, thank you for all your prayers!

It’s a Place Worth Fighting For

I went jogging in my neighborhood this morning. I looped around and went over some sections of the road twice. I finished running and started walking towards my house. An elderly woman came rushing as fast as she was able, out of her house. She had a big grin and was holding a cold bottle of water. She called out, I’ve been watching you! And handed me the bottle of water. I’m Karen! And then she turned to go back to her house. 

The other day I was jogging/walking and I had hit my walking stretch and another lady called to me from her porch, wanting to know if I got out at a regular time every day, wondering if I wanted to join her on her morning walks. She also wanted to know if I needed a drink of water. 🙂

This morning, as I was running down a familiar road, I realized that I had a nodding acquaintance with almost all of these neighbors. My kids had played with a lot of their kids. I passed another lady out running and we waved at each other. We met last summer when a different neighbor held a block party. Her kids bring their dog to come greet my dog pretty regularly. 

Our next door neighbor has a little girl who is best friends with my foster daughter. That friendship, and their willingness to have my daughter over to play regularly, has been a life-saving thing for us. 

I ran into another neighbor at the grocery store last week. I testified at the trial of the murder of his son. He came up to tell me how the family was doing now that the trial is over. 

One of our elderly, very civic minded couples that live in our neighborhood has started a text chat with as many neighbors as they can add. I think we have forty people on the chat right now, and they are always looking for more people who want to join. They talk about the monthly neighborhood meetings, a community garden that we have down at the park, congratulations to the new parents on the birth of their child, does anyone know who this stray dog belongs to? (pictures attached!) 

Neighborhoods are great things. Our neighborhood has had a rough year. Lots of gun violence, deaths, craziness in our high school. At times I have had the thought, we should just move. This is ridiculous. We talk about it. Where would we want to live? (Definitely the country!) Wouldn’t a small rural school be better? But so far, every time I think about moving, I have a check. No. Not now. This isn’t the right time. 

And I think we don’t give enough thought to what we would be giving up. We have lived in this community for almost seventeen years now. And it’s taken us a long time to establish all these connections. But they’ve been established. They are here. This is our neighborhood. This is our community. And it’s a good community. Lots of good people. 

And I guess this is part of the  answer to the question a lot of people think, but don’t come right out and ask..Why do I live here? Why haven’t I moved? Because it’s home. It’s a good home. And it’s worth staying and fighting for the changes needed to make it a safer and better place. 

Fat Fridays: Tennis Shoes and Dogs

I had a thought this week as I was getting dressed. What shoes am I going to put on? I’ve got three pairs of shoes that I regularly wear. My tennis shoes, my sandals, and my flipflops. Tennis shoes means I am ready to move and ready to work. I’m ready to take a quick walk around the block when there’s a lull in the day or I’m feeling the stress build up. I’m ready to run up the stairs to get something I need, I’m ready to clean, go to the store, do a workout…whatever. Tennis shoes=movement. Then there’s my sandals. They are very practical but prettier. I wear those when I know I’m going out: to appointments, the store, visit someone, whatever. And then flipflops. Unless I’m heading to the lake, wearing flip flops means I’m having a “Non-day” as I call it. I have no plans to accomplish anything. I plan on moving in slow motion. Lounging around a lot. Settling on a couch with a book. 

So, it occured to me that in my job (staying home, taking care of a giant house filled with nine children) tennis shoes are really the best bet. If I already have tennis shoes on, I’m a lot more likely to make my 10,000 steps a day. I’m a lot more likely to engage in spontaneous running around. I’m a lot more likely to accomplish my goals. And yet, here I am, writing this, wearing my flipflops. Cause I’m tired and feeling lazy and wanting to start this day off slowly. I’ve promised myself that once I’m fully awake, I’ll put my tennis shoes on. It’s an interesting mind game I play with myself. 

Note to self: get up and put on your tennis shoes every morning. It will make the day better. 

In other news, I went running yesterday with my dog. That was an interesting experience. My trainer had put down to run two miles and then walk two miles. And I thought, hmm, it would be nice to find a trail where I could just run two miles down the trail and then walk back. I know these trails exist in my city, but I usually just go to the park down the road from me cause I like to stay close to home. So, I was heading out to my car to drive to the park and one of my kids said, Oh, I thought you were going to run to the park. And I had this lightbulb moment. Oh, yeah. That actually makes sense since the park is about two miles from my house. I have never run in my nieghborhood, probably the main reason being that I don’t look very impressive when I run and I’d rather not show off that image to all my neighbors. But, there is also safety to consider. I generally don’t head out into my nieghborhood solo. I always have my dog or a herd of children with me. And while I feel like I’ve got a lot of good nieghbors, we do have an unsavory element that drives around in this area. So, I didn’t feel comfortable just trotting off by myself. 

My husband suggested taking the dog with me. Hmm. Ok. I guess we could TRY it. My dog does not have a lot of training (not the dog’s fault). He’s well-behaved, knows a couple basic commands, which is all we need. But, he’s not the best when we go out walking. He pulls on the leash and wants to stop and sniff EVERYTHING. I didn’t know how he would do when I required him to keep moving, WITHOUT smelling the roses. 

At the beginning he did pretty well. The first half mile he seemed to be saying, FINALLY! You’re going at my pace! He trotted along cheerfully and I only had to pull him a couple times when he got sidetracked. But, as we continued, he got more and more interested in his surroundings and several times he yanked me off my stride because he had come to a full-stop to inspect something. But, he did better than I thought he would. And actually, I made my best time yet for two miles! Almost two minutes faster than my previous run! So, I’m hoping to do this more. 

Here’s to Tennis Shoes and Running Dogs!

Fat Fridays: Fitbit Charge 4

Fitbits. Anyone got one? 

Just before Mother’s Day my husband told me he wanted to buy me one, so go and do some research and tell me which one to get. Wow! Ok. I had never really thought about getting one so I knew absolutely nothing about them. I started to do some research and I found this article on google that gave top reasons for buying a Fitbit, and reasons you shouldn’t buy a Fitbit. It was helpful. The one thing that stood out was when they said You should NOT buy a Fitibit if you are relying on this device to motivate you to exercise. They said, if you are already motivated then it’s a good tool, but by itself, it doesn’t have the power to change you into someone who has the discipline to get up and exercise. 

Good point. I remember the days of thinking, Well, if I only had THIS product, or THIS exercise program, or THIS membership then I would get myself in shape. And it’s just not true. If you have the desire to start exercising and eat healthier, you don’t need any fancy gadgets to make it happen. You just make it happen with whatever you have. 

BUT, sometimes those gadgets are pretty fun and they DO make things easier!

So, just over a week ago I got a Fitbit Charge 4 and I am having a lot of fun with it. It tracks how many steps you take, your heart rate, how many stairs you climb, how many calories you burn (though I read an article that says it has about a .3 error rate, so you have to take off about a third of those calories to get a more accurate number).  It keeps track of how well you are sleeping, how much movement you are getting throughout the day, how many workouts you’ve done in a week. It also has exercise programs you can start so that it tracks your walk or your run, or your bike ride or other exercises and tells you how far, how fast, etc. It has a place to track weight loss and how much you drink and eat (though I haven’t bothered using those features since I’m already tracking what I eat on my personal trainer app). 

This past week I lost three pounds. And I think a lot of that might have been because I was moving more. The Fitbit has a goal that you get up and move nine times a day and it buzzes to give you a reminder. So, I’ve been getting up more to just walk around. It is also tracking your steps and as I’ve seen how close I am to getting 10,000 steps in a day, I’ve been motivated to just take a short walk around the neighborhood or walk around my yard in order to reach my 10,000 steps goal. And then, of course, losing three pounds is very motivating so that makes me want to move more too! 

So, my conclusion… If you are counting on a Fitbit to make you suddenly want to be a fit and active healthy person, I wouldn’t spend the money. But, if you are already on a journey in that direction, then a Fitbit is a great tool. 

I’m going to get off here now, it’s time to get moving! 

Fat Fridays: Quick Update

So, last week I had some big slip-ups involving cake. And pasta. And maybe something else I can’t remember? I figured out why I was in binge-mode, but I was still bummed at my set-back. On Saturday I decided to weigh myself, kind of as a punishment. Here, weigh yourself so you can see how badly you did from messing up. I weighed myself, and low and behold, I had lost three pounds. 

????????

Life doesn’t make sense. 

This means I hit my thirty pound weight loss milestone! Yay!!! 

This was very inspiring and I jumped right back on the wagon, and have done very well food-wise this week. 

In other news, I ran two miles yesterday, two minutes faster than before. Still ridiculously slow. I realized that right now, my running time for two miles is the same time I used to have in college for running three miles. And I wasn’t fast in college. But, progress is progress. We take what we can get. The other big progress is that, after running, I was not crazy sore. And today I don’t seem to have much lingering after effects either. 

This week I have been making a slow shift to gluten-free. I’m not being legalistic about it, I have told myself I can have bread if I want to, it’s an option, but I’m trying to have some gluten free options readily available. This week I’ve been eating VANS gluten free ancient grains waffles that I found at KROGER. They’re pretty good. I like them because they have a bunch of different grains and aren’t just rice, potato and corn flours. 

I also had a first this week. I went biking one day for my exercise. I was supposed to bike eight miles. I was happily biking along when my phone in my pocket beeped, reminding me of an upcoming appointment in ten minutes. I was at least fifteen minutes away from my house. It was a zoom meeting where I was supposed to be actively talking, not just silently observing. Yikes. I rode as fast as I could toward my house but was still a mile away when it was time for the meeting to start. So, I got off the bike, logged into the zoom meeting and kept my camera off. The person running the meeting asked if we could turn our cameras on, and another person chimed in to say that they were driving and would turn their camera on soon. I jumped on this excuse and said, Yes, I am heading home, not quite there, I’ll turn on my camera in a couple minutes. Then, I put the phone in my pocket, where I could still hear the meeting and started riding like crazy towards my house. I almost made it, I was maybe two minutes from my house, but then they asked everyone to go around and introduce themselves. I had to get off the bike so I could hit the right buttons and turn on my speaker to introduce myself, but then I was out of breath and breathing hard cause I had been pushing so hard to get home. I ended up apologizing and saying, sorry, I’m on my bike, out of breath, almost home. 

Sigh. 

Technology creates weird situations. 

Well, that’s my update for now. I’ll see you all next week!