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: 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!

Facebook Challenge: Who Am I?

 

This morning I started thinking about high school. I’m reading a really good book that is exploring a young woman’s behavior when she was in high school…why she acted that way in the first place, and how those behaviors have shaped her present day adulthood. So, I started thinking about who I was in high school. Thinking especially about my last two years of high school up in Bethel, Alaska. And you know, I really don’t have any regrets about who I was during those years. They were good years. 

 

High school is such a public time in our lives. We go to school every day, we are surrounded by our classmates and teachers. We do extra-curricular activities and we are surrounded by all those people. Who-we-are is a very public thing. We can’t really hide it. 

 

It’s different when you are an adult. Especially when you’re a stay at home mom. I don’t have a large group of people that I see every day. I go to church on Sundays, but there usually isn’t time for a lot of private social interaction. I go to doctors appointments, very sterile, very little personal conversation. I go to the store, say hi to people. Occasionally we might have a playdate where I can visit with another mom for a couple hours, but that doesn’t happen too often. In reality, most of my interactions with other people occur on social media. I get on Facebook every day. I write my blog and share it in the blog world and share it on Facebook. I interact with other people’s posts. I message people. I am very much present online. 

 

So, today, I asked myself the question, Who am I on Facebook? 

 

Am I someone who is representing myself as a child of God? 

Are my words kind? 

Am I respectful? 

Do I care about the downtrodden? 

Have I gotten so caught up with defending one group of people, that I now spend a lot of time vilifying my “enemies”? 

Am I hateful towards groups of people I disagree with? 

(Example:Trump, Obama, Left wing radicals, right wing radicals, people who get abortions, people who fight against abortions, people who are pro-socialism, people who anti-government, people who believe in global warming, people who don’t believe in global warming, people who wear masks in public, people who don’t wear masks in public, people who watch CNN, people who watch FOX NEWS.) 

 

Are the things I’m passionate about actually creating  a stumbling block for someone else? (check out Romans 14: 13-19.)

 

Am I living out Love the way that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 13?

 

1 Corinthians 13  (NIV)

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8b Love never fails. 

 

It’s been good for me to hit pause and do an evaluation…Who am I in public? 

 

I can see some things I need to work on. I can see where I’ve been impatient, I’ve kept records of wrongs, I’ve delighted in evil, haven’t protected. 

 

Hopefully, making myself aware of these things will be enough to help me shift my path a bit. Remind myself of my Core Values. Read my personal mission statement again. So that, years in the future, I can look back and say, You know, I have no regrets of who I was during that time in my life. 

More is Not More

I am in a constant battle against busyness. Let me define what busyness means to me. It’s any time I have to leave my house. Yep. That’s about it. If I can be home all day, working on chores, hanging out with family, cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, wiping noses, breaking up fights, reading books out loud, basically non-stop activity from the time I get up till I go to bed…as long as I didn’t have to leave the house, it was not a busy day. 

 

Then I have days like today. The kids had the day off from school. Yay! So, at 11am I had to take one daughter to the dentist. Her tooth chipped while eating a hamburger at school. A big chunk came off. The dentist is baffled, it shouldn’t have happened, it’s in an odd location, none of it makes sense. She will now have to get a crown on her tooth. Good grief. So, we finished that appointment then came home. Then at 1:30pm I had to take an older daughter to a doctor’s appointment for what turned out to be bronchitis. Fun. Then, on the way home we stopped at the store. Got home, announced I was now ready to make the library run that everyone had been pestering me about all day. Loaded up five kids into the car and ran down to the library. Came home. Then an hour later, had to to drive my daughter to her job. Then three hours later, had to go pick her up from her job. (This child needs to turn sixteen and get her license!). And then, of course, we had to stop at the pharmacy on the way home to get the prescribed medicine from the earlier appointments. 

 

It’s these kind of days that wear me out. 

 

Everyone I know is busy. And most of them don’t seem to be overly happy about it. Maybe it’s a matter of our time-saving devices actually, in the end, not saving us very much time. Just think about it, if we didn’t have cars that we could zoom all over the place with, we would no longer be zooming all over the place. I know, cars aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but there is a definite appeal to a slower lifestyle. 

 

I have found that simply raising my family is about all I can handle. I’ve been on a long journey of saying No. No, we don’t have the time to do sports. No, I can’t sign up to help in this ministry. No, I will not be able to be a key person in this project. No, I can’t volunteer this weekend. No, we aren’t going to sign our kids up for the extra curricular activities. No.

 

As my kids have gotten older, they have wanted to be involved in more things. That’s fine. Our high school is only a couple blocks away. If my kids want to stay after school to be in a club or sport or band or anything, they can simply walk home afterwards. Our middle school has a free after-school program that offers all kinds of clubs and they bus the kids home afterwards. I can handle that. It doesn’t involve me getting in my car and driving anywhere. 

 

Here’s the thing. When I’m busy, I don’t have time to think and ponder. When I’m busy I tend to operate at a much higher stress level. When I’m busy I forget to be thankful. When I’m busy, I tend to get cranky and irritable. When I’m busy, I miss out on all the little moments. Moments like sitting quietly in front of the fireplace, just watching the flames. Sitting on the edge of my daughter’s bed while she gets ready to go to sleep, hearing her excited chatter about all the things she’s going to do tomorrow. Stopping what I’m doing so I can watch my two year old show me his “trick” of rolling his toy car really really really fast! Or maybe, stepping out on my porch to get the mail, and noticing the birds flying overhead. 

 

I find that when I take life at a slower pace, it’s a lot richer. It’s kind of like the difference between skimming through a Shakespeare play in an hour, or taking a semester long class that spends the entire time analyzing the play. I can zoom through a day, crashing into bed at the end, exhausted and soul-weary. Or, I can meander my way through the day, stopping along the way to enjoy the view, discover some hidden gems, spend some quality time with loved ones…ending the day with a heart of thankfulness and peaceful sleep. I, for one, prefer the latter. 

 

Yes, life sometimes does get busy, and it’s beyond your control. Stuff happens and you have to deal with it. But, I think it’s worth it to keep on fighting for a peaceful, slower life. We can say No. When it comes to busyness, More is not More. It’s less. 

 

Morning People

Morning People. Ugh. I am not a Morning People. My husband is a Morning People. Ugh. My alarm goes off at 6:45. That gives me 15 minutes to get out of bed, get dressed and lay out breakfast for the kids. My husband is usually leaving the house about the time I get up. He walks up to me, all chirpy. His eyes are wide open, he’s grinning. He gives me a big enthusiastic hug. I passively stand there. Raising my arms feels like a bit too much work at this time of day. My eyes are barely squinted open. He laughs and makes some comment about opening my eyes up. I grunt. Barely murmur the words..Love you..and send him on his joyful way.

I used to think that I was a Morning People. When I was a young teen I would habitually wake up early to exercise or practice piano before going to school. I would read my bible and eat my breakfast and have a leisurely morning. Then college came and this thing called sleep deprivation. I remember coming home for Christmas break when I was in college. I would sleep in till noon every day. Of course it helped that we were in Alaska and the sun wasn’t getting up till after 11 am. I think that is some of the best sleep I ever got. I still remember it fondly.

Sleep deprivation has become a way of life. For the past 18 plus years, I have been pregnant or nursing a baby or had toddlers climbing into my bed. I can honestly say that I haven’t had a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep in 18 years. Of course, my husband really hasn’t either, but he still manages to be chirpy in the morning. So maybe I can’t use that as an excuse. Hmm.

Every morning I wake my kids up at 7, they get dressed, brush hair, put on shoes, come down and eat a quick breakfast and then we’re out the door at 7:15. Five kids going to school and often the baby and toddler ride along with us if they’re awake. I go to the elementary school and then the middle school. The middleschooler always rides up front. This suits me fine. The middleschooler has the same opinion of mornings that I do. We go over our Bible memory verses in the car, I pray for my kids, and the rest of the car ride is silent. Ok, my two little girls can be chirpy in the morning, but they sit further back in the van and I don’t have to hear them. My highschoolers walk to school. One time though I had to give my oldest son a ride to school. I can’t remember why, sprained ankle? Broken bone? I just remember that for a short time I had him sitting up in the front seat when we drove to school. He takes after his father. He likes to talk in the morning. Loud, enthusiastic talking. Telling me all about some show or movie that he really likes. And I’m just sitting there driving thinking…Stop, stop. Be quiet. Please stop talking. It is too early to be talking. Stop. Why???

I am fortunate that I am a stay at home mom. There is no pressure to be fully functional by 7am or 8am, or even 9am if it was a particularly rough night. I come home after dropping the kids off and sit on the couch with my two little ones. I zone out. I don’t do caffeine. I’ve never liked the thought of being addicted to any type of substance and so I’ve never developed a hot beverage habit. So, I just wait till my body finally says, Ok, we’re awake now. Let’s get on with the day.

Little kids, in general, are Morning People. Saturday morning they come bouncing into my room at 7am. What’s for breakfast Mom?? Me: hmmph? They climb up on the bed, hit me in the head with a book..Will you read this to me Mom??? Me: (barely whispering) Go away. Mom! Mom! Watch this! They do a somersault on the bed, landing on my legs. Me: AAAGHH!!! GO PLAY SOMEWHERE ELSE!! They finally run off to make noise in a different room. My husband climbs out of bed, says in a loud cheery voice, Well, I think I’m going to go work on some projects right now. Me: (thinking to myself, IT’S SATURDAY!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!) covers head with pillow and groans.

I am hopeful that one day my children will all sleep through the night and then maybe I’ll start sleeping through the night, and then maybe, I’ll just wake up early because I’m well-rested. And I’ll be cheerful and have lots of energy. We’ll see. I’m not holding my breath.