August 28, 2015

Roses and thorns

I could not be happier with how much progress I have made since starting therapy.

Not only is my weight down, but:
  • I have made my water goal 26 days in a row
  • I have not binged (overeating with the intention of self-harm) in nearly three weeks
  • I have made progress with Couch to 5K (on week 5 now!)
  • I have gone to the gym consistently
  • I have tracked all my food (offline) consistently
It's a journey, for sure, and there is still work to be done. I am still stressed, I am still anxious about a lot of things. But I am learning how to process my feelings and react in ways that don't involve food/self-harm, and that's terrific progress.

Something we have talked about in most sessions is my feelings right before my period - that was one reason why I really felt compelled to go see a therapist right now. Ever since my son was born, I have had PMS - I never had it before, so I assumed that what I felt (and the degree to which I felt things) was normal. But some days, I couldn't get myself out of bed - no energy, just tired beyond tired. I cried and cried, entertained very dark and depressed thoughts. I wasn't actively suicidal - but I spent a lot of time wondering if everyone and everything would be better if I wasn't around. And I would eat - beyond eat. I would spend the first few weeks of the month doing well and staying on-plan, lose a few pounds, then that week would come and I would binge it all back plus more.

It had to stop.

We've discussed a possible diagnosis of PMDD, which is a severe form of PMS. And we've worked on talking through issues, discussing events from my past and present that make me worried, stressed, anxious. She remarked last Friday how, in our first meeting, I started crying in the first ten seconds and barely stopped for the entire hour - and gradually, in each meeting, it's become less and less, to the point where this past Friday, I was like an entirely new person. Healthy, optimistic, positive - and one moment of choking up a bit, but no tears. I'm still feeling the feelings, but I'm not feeling worn out or defeated by them.

My weigh-ins since seeing her have been good:

Week 1: 313
Week 2: 308
Week 3: 307
Week 4: 307

Last week was a maintain, which, again, is a huge victory for me - because that was the week before my period, the week when I usually fall into a rut and I binge until I'm sick, run out of food, or both. I prepared for it by having an extra snack in the afternoon or after dinner - a week of maintenance is much easier to move forward from than a week of excess and a large regain.


And this week, Week 5, I weighed in at 303. I am SO CLOSE to being out of the threes again! It spiked up the day my period showed up, but immediately dropped back down and kept falling as I ate well, stayed active, and stayed hydrated all week.

I'm especially proud of staying in control and not binge eating this week because yesterday, for the first time in nearly four months, I saw my ex-husband. He flew here for a week to visit his son, and we've had a couple of arguments leading up to his arrival, so I wasn't exactly looking forward to this week. Not to mention, on top of the anxiety of seeing him - him being here meant that for the first time in Noah's entire life, I am spending a few nights away from my son. He stayed at the hotel with his father last night, and it was ... odd. After I met his father at the daycare, handed over his portable crib and changes of clothes, and kissed my baby goodbye, I headed to the gym, then home. And it wasn't too odd last night, because Noah usually goes to bed between 7:30-8:30, so evenings are mostly quiet and alone. But this morning ... waking up to my alarm instead of cries of "Mama! Mama! Good morning Mama!" coming from down the hall ... it was strange. A quiet I haven't experienced since ... since California, really.

I'll have therapy this afternoon, then pick up my little buddy for an evening together, and in the morning, he'll get picked up by Dad and stay with him all day/overnight. I have Saturday - almost the whole day - to myself. And I have no idea what to do. It's been so long since I've been on my own, so long since I've been able to go/do whatever without having to wonder if it was okay for a toddler, if they have high chairs, etc. And when I *was*, I certainly wasn't in South Carolina. So I'm trying to put together a plan - somewhere to go, something to do. To be active, to enjoy my time by myself, to maybe socialize a bit?

All I have on the schedule so far is a massage. I waited until I was -150 lbs last time I had one, and right now, after the last few months I've had, and the next few months I'm anticipating ... I'm really looking forward to treating myself, regardless of my current weight. I may also go out to dinner, somewhere that's tough to go to with a toddler (either because of where it is, or what they serve) - I'm thinking maybe Vietnamese, though fish tacos also sound good right now. We'll see!

What about you? How was your week? What's your favorite way to "treat yo' self"?

August 26, 2015

Osaka

I keep starting blog posts and by the time I have a moment to finish them, it's half a week later and my weight is already down more. I'll have a weigh-in Friday, I promise (last week was a maintain, and I'll talk about why that's a huge victory for me right now).

For today, something I found: a prose poem, of sorts - over a year old, venting frustrations with my marriage and my binge eating. I try to keep stuff about my marriage off of here (no very specific details at least), but today, as I work my way back into running and finally feel like I'm making good progress with weight loss (and I'm binge free for a few weeks now!), it's interesting to reread this and remember how completely destroyed and lost I felt not so long ago.

It's got some rough language, but it's genuine. It's exactly what was on my heart at the time.

Without further ado...

Osaka

i earn less in south carolina than i did in california.
78.3 percent of my old salary,
and now two more people to support.

i come home exhausted after 10 hour days,
six days a week,
and am happy to do so,
because waiting for me is my sweet son.

m stays home with the baby all day,
and takes advantage of the free time
by exploring the area and neighboring counties.

finally, this week, i told him,
i don’t want to see another fucking picture of a plantation.
because fuck you for enjoying this so much,
and for treating this like an extended vacation
while i work myself ragged
and volunteer for every committee,
every extra course,
every project,
trying to make sure that my job is safe
because m can’t (won’t?) find work anywhere,
and my california savings dried up before we left chicago.

stay at home dad.

stay.
at.
home.

of course, go explore,
go show our son the world.
that is not my issue.

but when that is done
INSTEAD OF
dishes
laundry
vacuuming
dusting
cooking

and i come home after the latest in a series of long days
to find a messy house
and dinner still raw and in pieces in the fridge,
my anger is reasonable.

and i say
let’s go to osaka
because a yogurt in the morning
is not enough to fuel a 280 pound person all day,
yet i worked through my lunch hour
to try and get as much done as possible,
to try and avoid another saturday spent at the office.
(wasn’t enough, here i am.)

so we head to the chinese buffet,
and they seat us in a back corner.
and with one plate after another,
i try to numb the pain
and forget that this is my reality.

this chicken is too salty,
i think in my head,
as i eat my third piece.

the baby grabs for some,
and i bite my inner cheek,
fighting back tears.

i’m supposed to be his role model.

a year later,
i weigh almost as much as i did the day
my son was born.
and i have no excuses.

the pregnancy weight gain was from poor choices
as i tried to numb the pain
and forget that that was my reality.

and a year later,
i still numb my body,
not nourish it.

at one point,
i had lost about 40 pounds.
then, a wedding neither of us wanted,
and up 10.
a holiday season spent somewhere i didn’t want,
and up 20.
a year of overworking myself,
and coming home to find more to do,
and up 30.

i keep trying to find what clicked last time,
to try and be healthy again.
(fuck thin,
i’d be this size if it meant i did not constantly want to binge,
not treat my body like garbage.)

i tried to run.
registered for a race or two,
and when m found out,
he registered as well,
went out and bought himself all new running gear,
and hasn’t stopped talking about his training.
never once asks about mine.
likely hasn’t realized i stopped running again.

what worked the first time
was that i was allowed to be successful.
i had a healthy selfishness.

this selfishness is not healthy.

i deserve someone who cheers for me,
not competes against me.

August 14, 2015

Roses and thorns

When I lost the weight the first time, it was more than just physical. My entire life changed, including so much of my mind. It was an awakening, really. Suddenly, I was conscious of everything - for better or for worse. Before, when I was hungry, food was just food. I ate what I craved, and didn't care about the effect. But when I lost the weight, I was suddenly aware of what foods were better choices, what foods seemed to trigger me, and exactly how many calories were in every food.

Walking through a grocery aisle, before: Yum. Yum. Yum. OH MAN YUM.
Walking through a grocery aisle, after: 250. 120. 390, but it's two servings. 310.

It's disordered, to an extent. I think it's good to know calorie counts, but it's unhealthy to be enslaved by any number - on the package, on the scale, anything.

And the scale - that's another area where I suddenly became extremely conscious.

Looking at pictures of myself before 2010, I always sorted them into few categories: I look good here, I look bad here, I am a little kid here. But after 2010, I look at pictures, and I see numbers. 311, 295, 265, 230, 203. Those are a few of my racing weights: first 5K walk, stair race, first 5K run, first 8K run, first half marathon. I look at pictures of me before/during/after races, and my immediate first thought is what I weighed that day - not my finishing time, not memories of the racing experience, but the scale.

My relationship with the scale, like everything in my life right now, is a work in progress. I weigh myself daily, but I'm making great strides in not letting it rule my life or determine if the day will be good or bad - which it absolutely has done in the past.

And now that I've calmed down a bit about it, something really significant happened this week.

Classes for Fall semester start Monday, but we had department, college, and university faculty meetings this week. (I may change my mind soon enough, but right now, I am ready to be back. Ready to interact with adults again, ready to be busy.) And every semester since I've started at this school, I've started heavier than the previous semester. Just like looking at pictures and seeing numbers, I look at semesters that way. 265. 275. 280. 313. A mostly slow but steady incline as we got here, life got somewhat settled, then life got messier and messier.

But today, I weighed in at 307 - down 6 pounds from when I started seeing my therapist, but also - lower than the beginning of last semester. It's only six pounds, but it's progress - it's reversing a trend that I've been frustrated by but felt unable to do much about for the last few years.

I'm slowly but surely making progress. This week's biggest NSV was not binge eating after a HUGE fight with my ex-husband. I put my foot down and told him that he couldn't stay with us - despite what the therapist suggested, I know what is best for me/my mental health/my son. And letting Matthew into what I have reclaimed as a safe space would be devastating for the progress I've made - not to mention confusing for Noah.

He took it as well as I expected - add in an argument about jobs and it lead to a solid hour of back-and-forth arguing, just real nasty. The worst of both of us. And I wanted so badly to eat myself sick ... until I sat down and really thought about it. He's hurting me ... so why is my response to hurt myself more? So I finished my water, went to bed, and woke up feeling like a champion.

Today is Day 12 of my water streak, and that feels great too. I finished Week 3 of Couch to 5K, and I'm optimistic about finishing it - now I just need to find a race to end it with! I may do an on-campus night race with the club I advise ... we will see.

I struggled a lot last weekend with keeping my eating in check - I made the water goals, but definitely snacked way too much, and made food choices inconsistent with my goals. I looked at my offline log for those days and assessed where I need to improve, and I am hoping this weekend will be more successful.

August 10, 2015

Tasks

Usually, in the blog world, silence is not a good thing. For me, silence almost always means that things have started to take a turn for the worst, I have fallen off track, and I don't want to face all of you with news of another failure.

This is not one of those occasions.

A couple of weeks ago, and after a week of binge eating and feeling completely out of control, I finally met with a therapist. Just as I had anticipated, I started crying within the first 5 to 10 seconds. And I pretty much didn't stop until the hour or so was up.

Sometimes, I don't realize how much I'm carrying until I let go. I told her about my childhood, about developing my issues with binge eating, about losing the weight, about some things in California that I've kept a secret from nearly everyone, about my pregnancy, about my marriage and its collapse. And even though mountains were not moved in the hour, it felt like significant progress just to get these things off of my heart.

We came up with a game plan for me to help get out of my binge eating cycle. My first task is to make sure I drink a gallon of water a day. The first couple of days I struggled with it, but then got into a routine - like everything, work in one area feeds into another. Making sure that I go to the gym helps with getting the water down, and getting the water down helps with keeping my eating under control.

My second task was to step back from the Internet a little bit. Between blogs, MyFitnessPal, Instagram, groups on Facebook … I am constantly surrounded by information about weight loss, exercise, etc. And while most of the time it helps and encourages me, sometimes even seemingly positive things can be triggering. So I have been recording my food and water in a notebook on my counter-top, and making sure to keep track of the numbers that matter the most: streaks of success with no binge eating, meeting my gallon of water goal, and days in the gym.

I had a significant loss last week, and am feeling positive, but at the same time, cautious. This happens to me a lot. I do really well for a couple of weeks, then fall back into bad habits. I am hopeful that the addition of weekly therapy will help with this, mostly with being accountable to someone in real life. It's easy enough to get quiet and hide on here when my eating is off-plan, but I have a standing meeting with the therapist every Friday afternoon, and that motivates me to make the best choices possible whenever I can.

I'm still not perfect, nor do I ever expect to be. I saw the therapist for the first time a few weeks ago and that night, I binged. But I recognized what was happening and wrote down goals for the next day, and didn't punish myself for it. The next day, when the urge to overeat struck again, I reflected on my goals: the day before, I had not met my water goal, so I told myself that if I wanted to overeat, I could, but I had to meet my water goal first. And of course, after I finish the water, the feeling had disappeared and I went to bed that night smiling, proud of the success of one good day.

I got back in the gym the Monday after our first meeting, and restarted the second week of Couch to 5K. Today I started the third week, which entails a five-minute warm-up, and then two sets of 90 seconds running, 90 seconds walking, 3 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, and finally a five minute cool-down. And after finishing the second 3 minute run, I nearly started crying.

I once ran a half marathon in 2 hours and 20 minutes. I once started training for a full marathon. But then I regained a significant amount of weight, and between the weight gain and a lot of the issues driving it, I never thought I would run again. I loved it, but I had accepted that it wasn't part of my life anymore.

And now it's back, and it feels remarkable. I have a long way to go before I get to where I end up, but it feels good to be on the path that will lead me to those goals.

Something I am looking forward to working on with the therapist is my relationships. We talked a little bit the first day about my relationships with my parents, with my husband, and with the friends in my life - just an introduction, really, but enough to let her know that this is something that needs to be addressed. The biggest relationship in my life right now is the one I have with my husband, and after I told her a few things about our history, she asked me, point blank, if I really thought the relationship was over.

And I don't know.

I know that I loved him once, and that I was very hurt by him. I know that the past few years have not been easy for either of us, but I wanted to be with him and wanted to work through it, and I am not quite sure he felt the same way. And I know that we both promised each other often that we would be better about communicating, that we would see therapists separately and/or together, but neither of us ever made good on our promises.

As much as I was ready for him to leave, I still get angry that he left for somewhere so far. First, because of our son - the sweetest little boy who grabs his shoes and walks to the door and asks if we can go visit Daddy every single day. But also, because it is hard to try and talk through your issues when you can't sit down and have an actual conversation.

He's coming to visit in about two and a half weeks, and at the recommendation of my therapist, he will be staying at my apartment, in my guest bedroom. Initially my response was to ask him to stay elsewhere, to preserve the atmosphere I've created in what is now just my and my son's home, but my therapist said that having him in the same apartment will be much more conducive to conversation. I hope she is right. We lived in this apartment together and barely talked to each other, though, so I am hoping that the time apart will have helped to open the door to more communication.

I don't know what he wants, or what I want, beyond starting to talk about some of our issues. He could show up and be exactly the same, interacting together with Noah and going our own ways once he falls asleep. Or, things could be different. I guess this is something that I will just have to experience and take as it comes.

July 24, 2015

Roses and thorns

I maintained all week, until yesterday.

Up five. FIVE. It's not undeserved, but it's frustrating. The toughest thing, besides fighting the urge to binge, is fighting the urge to say to myself you're a failure, you deserve this.

To try and keep myself on track, I've tried bribing myself with money, with gadgets, with clothes. I've tried yelling at myself, tried scolding myself. Tried reminding myself that if I drop dead of a heart attack, my son will be alone. And I still struggle. I still stumble.

Thinking about my sweet little boy should pick me up, but sometimes, it plunges me deeper into my depressed pit: I say I love my son more than anything, but I still binge. I still take a step back for every step or two forward towards getting healthy. I know he needs me, and he needs me to be healthy, and still, I soothe myself in these unhealthy ways. That negative voice in the back of my head ... you don't love him, you don't love anyone - you're selfish, you only love yourself and food. You're a terrible mother. He deserves a better parent.

It reminds me a lot of the issues I've had with my dad in the past, to be honest. I remember being pregnant, and just sobbing, wondering if he would live to see his grandson be born. Angry that he used unhealthy food to define "quality of life," that his children (and soon, grandchildren) loving him and needing him weren't enough to motivate him to take charge with his health.

And now, here I am. Guilty of the exact same actions.




I posted this image this morning, and I believe it. Results are the product of consistency. I'm great at Day Ones, I'm awesome at little bursts of momentum. But it seems that every few weeks or so, something floors me. Just socks me right in the gut. And I forget my goals, I forget my motivation. All I want is comfort, or at least numbness. I want to be upset about something other than the bigger things on my mind, and a stomachache provides that kind of distraction.

This was a week like that.

This week was emotional. Some weeks, it hits me hard. I try not to talk too much about my separation/divorce on here because it isn't necessarily weight-loss related, but some days, it's my entire mind. And this week was like that. Instead of going to the gym, I'd lay in bed all day. One day, I didn't eat or drink anything all day until after 5 PM. I just wasn't interested. My mind was elsewhere.

I reached out to Matt and told him one day, I miss you today. It happens sometimes. It's really depressing. And he agreed. I'm sorry. I know, it hits me occasionally too.

Sometimes he texts me a joke, or a memory from when we were together in Chicago. And sometimes I'll send him a picture from Timehop - that time we went to X, that time you did Y. And it's so flippin' hard. It's not decades, but there's history, and it hurts. It's hard to remember why sometimes, but I loved him once. I married him. I wanted a life with him. A family. And when I grieve, I'm not just grieving the end of what was, but this huge feeling of loss for what will never be. The anniversaries. The holidays, the family trips. The siblings I wanted to give our son.

I get lonely a lot here. I am doing what I can to meet people, make new friends, find my niche. But there's this large empty space, much bigger than church buddies and moms groups. It's the space where my co-parent and life partner is supposed to be. And some days, it feels as big as the universe, and the condition feels terminal.

The heaviest thing on my heart about all this is "am I making the right choice?" And even though I know I am, it's still one of the biggest decisions I've ever had to make, so my mind lingers. I forget where I read it, but the best thing I've seen about all this is the idea that there is no such thing as a right or wrong decisions. You aren't rewarded for one path or punished for another. There are only decisions, and the universe works around the decision you make. I'm trying to accept that idea, but some days are still difficult. And they'll be this way for a while, possibly a very long time.

I don't know where I'm going with this rambling. Just clearing my mind, I guess. Releasing it here (and through the tears streaking down my face) rather than swallowing it now and eventually trying to bury it under something unhealthy.

I still believe I can do this - that I can work through my issues and be healthy again. That I can be a good mom. That someday, I'll be with a partner who respects me, honors me, cares for me, supports me, loves me. That none of this is as terminal as it feels.

This is a new week. Today is a new day. I say this to myself ... well, every day. Because I still believe it.

July 17, 2015

Roses and thorns

I'm down another two pounds this week! I really committed to staying on track this week - logged everything, stayed hydrated, gave the workouts my all. And everything is coming together.


I go to the gym every day except Saturday and Sunday, when the gym is closed. Last Saturday, we woke up early and drove to a park with a 1 km running path - we only walked around it twice before Noah started to get crabby, but still, it's more exercise than just sitting on the couch! I did Week 1 of Couch to 5K and some time on the stationary bike on Monday and Wednesday (and I'll go once I post this!), and Tuesday/Thursday I was in the mood for the elliptical.

I'm proud of being consistent with routines since getting back from Connecticut, especially logging on MyFitnessPal.


I've tried to keep it as close to 1500 calories as possible - some days I wasn't feeling well, or just wasn't hungry, so it was a bit lower, and some days it was slightly above. It all balanced out, though, and I'm liking the visual of progress from when we got back from the trip.


I'm still up 3 pounds from my pre-trip weight - I need to remind myself of this next time we visit there. As stressed as I get, as anxious as it makes me ... it took two weeks to gain the weight and 5+ weeks to take it off. Not worth it!

With last week's weigh-in as a maintain, I don't know if my goal of getting under 300 is going to happen - it's 9 pounds to 299, and there are only two more weigh-ins this month. But I'm still proud of the progress I'm making - the scale is moving in the right direction, and I am doing right by my body. I'm not going to fixate or obsess about deadlines - as long as I get healthy, that's all that matters.

And - I feel great right now. It's remarkable how quickly my body responds to being treated well. I still have a very long way to go, but I can already feel a difference - less bloated, stronger legs, looser belly. My clothes fit better already - straight out of the dryer, I can put on one of my workout tees, no need for stretching it.

My mind feels clearer, too. I sleep better. I feel less anxious. I still have worries, concerns, stresses - but I'm dealing with them through journaling, through exercise, through prayer. I'm not eating my feelings, and that, to me, is the greatest progress.

What about you? What is your weekly workout schedule? How do you stay active outside of the gym?

July 13, 2015

My first run, part 2

I get emails every so often from readers who say they've gone back to the beginning and read my blog from the start. That always floors me - that people are interested in my experiences and my journey, that they want to hear all of my stories. To be honest, I haven't gone back and re-read most of my old posts. Every now and then, I start looking for a post where I'm sure I've already discussed X or Y, and I fall into a rabbit hole and read maybe three or four. That's about my limit ... before the tears start.

It's hard to explain how emotional losing the weight was the first time. I believed in myself just enough to get through each day at a time, and every night, after my workout and dinner but before bed, I would sit at my desk and draft a blog post for the next morning, working through whatever emotional issue was at the front of my mind that day. I talked about my childhood, my past relationships, my concerns about what would happen if I ever made it to my goal weight. There really were few stones left unturned, and most nights, pounding away on the keyboard, my face would be streaked with tears as I tried so hard to work through the issues I'd buried under hundreds of extra pounds.

And I think now, I am almost afraid to re-read them, because I don't know if I can stomach all the emotions. Binge watching TV? I'm great at that. But consuming post after post of heavy subjects? I already know I'd be a mess. There are lessons to be learned in my history, and I want to retrace those steps and review for future reference. But I can't do it all at once.

Sometimes, I remember old posts - or at least, I remember the events, and my mind subconsciously makes the connection to what I wrote. Today was like that. I went to the gym with my running shoes laced, my water bottle full, and a Couch to 5K app downloaded on my phone. I got on the treadmill and was on my way.

I forgot that Week 1, Day 1 is a lot of walking. 5 minute walk to warm up, then alternating 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes, then a 5 minute cool down. I did the warm up/cool down at 2.5 mph (24:00/mi), the running at 4.5 mph (13:20/mi), and the walking at 3 mph (20:00 mph).

During the running parts, I thought about my first half marathon - I remember certain sections of it so vividly ... the 5K point where my pre-planned playlist started to increase in intensity ... the 6.5 mile point, running along the beach ... uphill at 8 miles, then downhill at 10 ... and clearest of all, seeing the 13 mile marker. It was at the top of a very small hill, and the last 0.1 mi of the race was around a corner. I knew I would cry at the end of the race, but hadn't imagined it would start before the finish line. Seeing the 13 mile marker, it finally hit me that I did it - I had ran the race without stopping, and I was going to come in way under my expected time. And I was flooded with memories of not having the energy to get off my couch, and then making the decision to live better, and then every milestone of the training process. And I just bawled.

I thought about that last 0.1 during the running intervals, and marveled at how quickly the love of running came back to me. It was sixty seconds at a time, but it felt like coming home to somewhere comfortable and familiar. I am a runner - again, and always.

During the walking intervals, my mind wandered to the blog, and to the post I remembered writing after W1D1 the first time around. I remembered how I ran it (on a track, with a stopwatch and an index card so I'd know when to switch to running). I remembered that I had to slow myself down and contain my excitement at being able to move like that. And I remembered that I loved it - that as much as I moved, it moved me. It was one of those moments in my life where I knew something big had happened and I wasn't going to be the same after.

I came home, did a quick search, and found the post. It's just as I remembered it, but - more.
Yesterday, I finally went down to the gym at the university where I work. I had been putting off registering since I had been walking around my neighborhood and I wanted to enjoy the nice weather before the Chicago winter decides to roll in, but since I was starting the Couch-to-5k program, I wanted somewhere level and even to work on. Secretly, I also just wanted to be off the street so no one could make me feel bad. It's hard enough when I'm walking and people yell things from their cars (it happens more than I'd like to admit), but if it happened during this, a major step that I'm taking? I can't risk letting some jerk's baseless remarks get me down and make me lose my focus.
I can't believe I wrote that. I mean, I can - I remember so many of the nasty things people have yelled at me, and it happened so often in Chicago. But ... especially given my struggles lately, and as recently as this week, with my friend's odd comment about my shoes ... it's remarkable how life is echoing.

I finished the workout today and felt empowered. Like everything was possible again and that I was unstoppable. It felt like the motivation from the first time around - strong, unshakable, tenacious. I am so, so happy to be running again, even just in sixty second intervals, because each step is a step closer to health, and to the emotions and feelings of success and accomplishment I experienced when racing.

July 11, 2015

Roses and thorns

I'm late on this one, I know. The last couple of days I have felt sort of wishy-washy, and I have skipped the gym in favor of napping and housework. This morning though, Noah and I got up bright and early and headed to the park with the jogging stroller. He was crabby, so we only did 2 km, but it still felt good to get out and move - the temperatures are supposed to be in the low 100°s later today, so I'm glad we got some exercise and fresh air while it was still tolerable outside.

My weigh in yesterday was mildly disappointing. When I got back from Connecticut, I was 318, and then the following week I was at 314. The week after that, 314 again. Last week, 310. And yesterday, 310 again. There seems to be a pattern, and even though it is progress in the right direction, it bugs me. I am still now, five years into it, so attached to numbers as sole measures of success.

So, I decided to do something to measure my success in another way.

I got to thinking about making some sort of huge plan the other day. I had to stop by the car insurance office to sign paperwork, and on the way back, I stopped into visit a friend and her young son. We were chatting a bit, and I don't know how, but eventually we got on the topic of fashion.

We talked about our individual styles, and I told her about how, when I was big the first time, I pretty much wore jeans every day, and when I found a shirt that I liked and that fit, I would buy it in a dozen different colors. At my smallest, I was overwhelmed with choices because I had never been able to buy things that were not tucked away in the back corner of the store. Now, pretty much everything I wear is from ModCloth - they make the cutest dresses in a wide variety of sizes, from extra smalls to 4XL's.

And somehow we got to the subject of shoes, and she recommended a brand that she loves. I told her I would look into it because I needed some new shoes anyway, and she said "Good - I hate your tennis shoes."

To be honest, it floored me. I don't think I've ever noticed anyone's shoes before, let alone thought to comment on them. I kept it cool and gave an explanation - they are running shoes, I bought them when I was trying to be a runner again but kept wearing them so that it wouldn't be a waste of $150 - but on the inside, I was really sort of hurt. It was not a comment I expected, and especially not from her.

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and binged while driving to pick up Noah from daycare, all the while thinking wow, there is not a single inch of me that is free from judgment.

I'd been doing so well, too.

I've talked about this a lot here before, but it's so interesting to me that I am struggling so much this time around with keeping my eating in check. The first time, the food was easy. Exercise was easy. The greatest challenge that I faced the first time was sorting out my identity. I'm anticipating it being an issue this time as well, so I am doing what I can now to ease the transition back into my smaller self. But the first time, I hadn't expected it at all, mostly because I hadn't expected success.

So that night, I sat down and thought about my identity - how I see myself, how others see me, how I want to be seen. People may look at me and see a large person, but that's such a small part of my story.

I used to be bigger. I used to be smaller. I used to be a lot of things. Right now is what matters, though. And I'm a mom, and a hard worker, and a friend, and a sister, and a daughter. I want to be seen for those things and not just for my size.

And so I am working to be smaller again, and healthy again. And to help with that, I'm getting back to another "used to be."


I thought about it, and I remembered that I had talked about it with my dad a little while ago. I told him that when I was actively living healthier, going to Connecticut was easier because I had races during or immediately after the visit, so I knew that I didn't want to commit any behaviors that would interrupt or get in the way of those goals. "So register for a race," he said, simply and matter-of-factly. "If you have to walk half of it, or if you have to walk all of it, just get that goal on your radar."

So I did.



Training starts Monday with Couch to 5K - I wanted to wait to get back into running until I was at that 295 milestone, but … why? That number was significant the first time around, but this is now and this is what needs to be done. There's 35 weeks until race day - plenty of time to be race-ready.

I'm looking forward to sharing my experience relearning how to run and training for this event. It's funny, the moment I decided to register, I felt ... different. My ex-husband had this uncanny knack for making me hate every single thing that I once enjoyed, and so for the last few years, I've gone back to being that person who laughs and says that she only runs when she's being chased. But that's not who I am, it isn't how I see myself. That's not the identity I want for myself or that I want to portray to my son, to my family and friends, to my colleagues, to the world.

I loved being a runner, and I want to be one again. And as soon as I signed up for the race, I felt that surge of love again - self-love, self-confidence.

July 6, 2015

New to me

I've been trying some new stuff lately and I thought I'd share. I've been trying to post more to Instagram, which is fun and I love the feedback, but sometimes seeing other people trying stuff makes me curious about it, and that can be good or bad.


I found these coconut almonds at a shop in Connecticut and got them for a healthier choice to snack on for the ride back South. (Then I packed them up and forgot about them.) They're pretty good - sweet but not overly so, and no artificial aftertaste, which is surprising because they're slightly sweetened with stevia.


These, on the other hand, have a really icky fake aftertaste to me. The coconut cashew one is the only one so far that hasn't tasted gross to me, but even still, they're pretty expensive for something I'm not entirely crazy about. I looked on Pinterest and found some recipes for homemade protein bars, so next month when I take Noah for his haircut (the closest kids-only salon is an hour away - if anyone's looking to start that kind of business, Myrtle Beach needs you desperately), I'll stop at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods for any ingredients I can't get here.


Birds Eye has these flavored veggie blends now - these were the two I tried. They also have barbecue corn and teriyaki broccoli, but (a) I don't eat corn and (b) I couldn't find the teriyaki one. I probably won't look for it, though ... the cauliflower was delicious but a TON of sodium, and the ranch one had no flavor at all.


Fiber One stuff can be hit or miss. I remember the first time I lost the weight, making Hungry Girl recipes and they all called for Fiber One cereal crunched up instead of breadcrumbs. Oddly enough, it worked. The bars, though, can sometimes have a chalky taste. These were pretty good, and I might get them again if I'm craving something sweet that won't tempt me to binge (that's a mistake you only make once). I will say, though, I sent a letter to the company that makes them (General Mills) saying that I thought the packaging was kind of deceptive. I didn't take any pictures of the actual bar, but it seriously did not look like the luscious treat on the box. It was good, but not quite what they portrayed, I think.


These were an on-the-go grab - Noah and I had gone to the beach with friends and stayed longer than we had planned, so we had an unanticipated dinner out. I had half a chicken quesadilla, shared with Noah, then grabbed these from the store before driving the 45 minutes home. It's great for me because sometimes I have trouble with portion control when it comes to cheese. I had one this morning, actually, after the gym ... I ate the nuts and raisins while my scrambled eggs cooked, then I added the cheese to the eggs. Probably not the use they intended, but it works for me.


It seems like especially in summer, we all miss ice cream. I've seen everything from the blended frozen bananas (excellent) to Arctic Zero (haven't tried and don't intend to, I've heard such lousy reviews), to now this: Halo Top Creamery has a protein-packed ice cream that's 240 calories/24 g protein per pint. I had half one day and half the next, and while it wasn't bad, it also really didn't remind me of ice cream. Honestly, it reminded me of the Fudgsicles my Papa used to pass out after dinner in the summertime. So while grocery shopping this week, I got a box of those instead. 100 calories each, and a box of 12 cost the same as the pint of Halo Top. Less protein, of course, but I'm not really struggling with my protein intake.

What about you? What are some new products you've tried lately - loved, hated, in-between?

July 3, 2015

Roses and thorns

There's an incredible power in community, in people coming together with a common interest and not only working together to achieve a goal, but strengthening each other and growing as a result of the shared efforts.

Not gonna lie, I was nervous about my friend Lorelei coming to visit. After two weeks in Connecticut and the setbacks I experienced there, I was very anxious leading up to her arrival - until a phone call a few days before she got here, where we talked about plans for the trip, and one of her requests was we can cook healthy things together, right?

What a relief!

Lorelei is such an important person in my life. We met in grad school in Chicago about six years ago, and we immediately bonded over common interests. The next year, though, really brought us together: the year when I made promises to myself to get healthy, and I saw it through for the first time ever. A great friend is with you through thick and thin, and we have the unique ability to say yes, we have done exactly that. We met at my biggest, she cheered me to my smallest, and she loves me even now, at the various in-betweens.

We didn't set foot once in a gym over the week, but we stayed active - going to a sculpture garden, swimming, walking around the town where I live. And we made mostly good food choices - the first night she was there we had pizza for dinner, and after the sculpture garden we got some cupcakes to share, but besides that, snacks were healthy and meals were home-cooked. I killed it on the water intake, and avoided late-night snacking.

And I lost 4 pounds.

I said last week, some pounds are harder to lose than others. These ... these were easy. Effortless. We enjoyed our days, we had fun, and we didn't go overboard or obsess about food or exercise. And the weight came off.

I'm still up from my weigh-in before the Connecticut trip, but I'm optimistic and feeling motivated to keep up the momentum. Reminiscing a lot with Lorelei over the past week about working out together, about making and setting goals, about finishing races ... it really got me motivated to resume the kind of mindset that helped me be successful in the first place.

Immediately after stepping on the scale and seeing the number 310, the word momentum popped into my mind. I feel great right now - I've got to keep it up, preserve this feeling so I can remember it when I struggle.

My goals for this week are just to sort of keep it all up (and get back in the gym on Monday when it reopens). My overall goals for July, though:

1. Get into the Twos
2. Make four new recipes
3. No binge eating

All very do-able. The binges are under control right now, it's been a very healthy week as far as not eating my emotions (not a small feat, either, since we talked an awful lot about Matt and everything I've avoided confessing about our situation for the last few years). The recipes are a goal to make sure I am keeping things interesting enough to not get in a rut. And the twos ... that's just a little over two pounds a week.

I explained to Lorelei this week about how 299 is almost an even bigger landmark for me than 199. The Twos are a block of one hundred pounds, all of which need to be lost - not a small task at all, but just seeing that number instead of a 3 out front suddenly makes the long-term goal seem attainable. The 290s are almost the 280s, then 270s are when I start to see a change in how I look, just a small leap to the 260s (my size at my first 5K) and the 240s, where I have my 100 pound milestone (and that's when I fit in L shirts instead of XL the first time). The 230s were my first 8K, then 210 is my pre-pregnancy weight. From there, it's so close to onederland, and then ... figuring out my maintenance goal.

It would really require some hardcore commitment and dedication, but I'm going to try my hardest to get as close as possible to 295 this month. July 31, 2010, was the day I started to live healthier, and on July 31, 2011, I was 150 pounds lighter. To weigh in at 295 on July 31, 2015, would be significant: facing a journey very similar to the one I started five years earlier, but with a 50 pound head start.

Tomorrow we're heading to the beach with a friend who has a son close to Noah's age, so that will be fun (and hopefully not too hectic, we aren't going to the big local beach, which is going to be insanely busy, I'm sure). Then Sunday night, our church is having a cook out and fireworks. I'm excited to see how my son reacts to the fireworks, and I'm not nervous at all about the food, which is a good feeling. I'll eat before we go - just because there will be food there doesn't mean I need to eat it.

What about you? How was your week? What are your weekend plans?

June 26, 2015

Roses and thorns

Today I'm marking down a maintain for the week. Some pounds are harder to lose than others, and this week was full of them.

Earlier this week, I was running around, trying to get a dozen things done in the few hours that Noah is at daycare. It wasn't anything big or important, just a lot of little things that needed to be done, and by the time I went to pick up my son, I was exhausted. So I made a simple dinner: turkey hot dogs, cut up strawberries, and watermelon. On MyFitnessPal, I was under my goal by 374 calories.

The next day, the scale was up seven pounds. SEVEN.

I cursed, I grumbled, but I didn't let it get me down - just realized that (a) I need to go to bed earlier so I'm well-rested (b) I need to make sure I am consistently drinking enough water and (c) I need to meal prep more/better so we don't depend on overly salty processed junk when Mama is too overwhelmed to cook. So the next day, I made a pulled pork in the crockpot and roasted a bunch of veggies so I could easily grab a scoop of each and call it a meal. It's simple, but I like simple. Simple works. I start to struggle when I try to complicate things too much. Don't overthink it.

Slowly but surely, the scale inched back down, and today it showed 314, the exact same as last Friday. I'm still up from before our trip to Connecticut, and I'm trying not to beat myself up about it. I know what works, I just need to do it consistently.

One good thing, though, about my workouts this week: I got my new sports bra in the mail, and I LOVE IT. I had heard about Enell's plus size sports bras for years but didn't want to spend the money. DO IT. I ordered it through Amazon - the same price as on the Enell website, but shipping was $12 through Enell and free through Amazon, so there was some savings there. And regardless: it is worth it. I am absolutely a believer. It has incredible support, even more than when I used to wear two sports bras at once. No bouncing, and best of all - no chafing. The front closure worried me at first, but honestly, it isn't uncomfortable and if it fits right, there shouldn't be any issues with it unhooking.

My best friend Lorelei is visiting from Chicago (arriving tonight), and I am incredibly excited to have her here. She was such a huge part of my success the first time around...


We would go to the gym together, run races together, cook together. It was one of only a few relationships I have where the dynamic didn't completely shift as a result of my weight and its various changes, and I am incredibly grateful for that, and for her. I don't feel any food anxiety about her visit, which is great - she even asked if we could cook healthy foods together, which makes me feel so good. It *is* possible to spend time with people and not panic about food, not binge, not completely fall off course and forget long-term goals.

So, this upcoming week: with Lorelei, but still just more of the same, I guess. Sweat. Drink all the water. Do as much meal prep as possible to keep myself on track. Focus on my goals.

What about you? What are your favorite meals to prep in advance?

June 19, 2015

Roses and thorns

Sometimes I watch the show "My 600 lb. Life" and cry and cry, understanding how it feels to be a prisoner inside your body. And there was a girl on there once, surprisingly young, and my heart just broke for her. Her issues clearly went beyond just her size, but her depression and self-esteem issues were abundantly clear. And she said something that really struck me: talking about her family, she said "they act like they're proud of me for all of these things I'm achieving, but it's really just disaster cleanup."

I get that, completely.

It's hard to hear people say "you're doing a good job," and know that you already did the job, that you're re-doing it now because you screwed up. And that it's a job that shouldn't have been done in the first place, that it's not a real accomplishment or one to celebrate - I'm not making something new, I'm cleaning a mess I made.

That cycle of negative thinking is really, really hard to break. The physical part of weight loss is easy, compared to the mental part. That's the real challenge, especially because it has such an impact on the physical part, too. Enough negative thoughts and I can completely forget the awesome workout I had earlier or the full day of good choices - all I want is peace, even if it's temporary and wrongly obtained. I'm tired, I'm stressed, I'm anxious, I don't know what is going to happen in this mess of my life - but I *do* know what X tastes like, how it feels, how it smells. It's consistent. It's shelter in a storm. There's a great and familiar comfort in "it's okay, have what you want, soothe yourself in this moment, and you can try again tomorrow."

Then your life becomes day after day of waiting for tomorrow's fresh start, and it's incredibly hard to break free.

At the end of my trip to Connecticut, I stepped on the scale and waited to see the number - though I didn't need to. I knew how I had eaten. I knew how I felt. I knew the damage would be significant. I left South Carolina at 305, and left Connecticut two weeks later at ... 323. Holy bleep. I knew it would be bad, but ... just wow. I have a singular ability for letting myself completely go off the rails and feeding my anxieties and depression with junk - and not just junk, but the volume of it.

I'm disappointed in myself, but I'm moving forward. Like I said, I won't be going back to Connecticut for a long time - I love my family very much, but I can't go back until I am at a place in my recovery where I can go and not go completely crazy. The way I eat and drink and behave there is completely inconsistent with my goals, and right now, the goals are what I want more than anything. I'm already so relieved, thinking about Thanksgiving with just my son and no pressure, our first Christmas together just by ourselves, enjoying each other's company without trying to suffocate every negative feeling with food.

Today, a week later, I'm back down to 314, which, again, I'm struggling to see as an accomplishment, but am accepting and using as fuel for my motivation to keep going. No two ways about it, it sucks to be seeing numbers like this. (As the joke goes, I've been at this for a month and all I've lost so far is 30 days.) Even worse than the numbers, though, is the physical feeling. I felt so lousy in Connecticut - everything was exaggerated by the way I chose to fuel my body. I was even more tired, even more achy, even more grouchy.

But: it's incredible how immediately the results of healthy living can change how you feel. Even just a day or two back on track, and I didn't feel so bad anymore. The first day back in South Carolina, I drank my usual three 32 oz. bottles of water - which I'm guessing is more water than I had total for the two weeks with my family. I ate vegetables, and I didn't overdo the snacking, and I took a much-needed nap.

Monday, Noah had a dentist appointment, so I kept him home from daycare, but Tuesday, I made a goal to get back to the gym. One small problem, though: I forgot one of my two sports bras in Connecticut, which isn't a terrible issue because I have needed new sports bras for years: these are the ones I wore when I first started in 2010, at my smallest in 2011-12, throughout my pregnancy, and now. They're stretched out to the point where they chafe the heck out of my underboob (sorry). They're just done, overdue for replacing. So on Tuesday, I went to the Lane Bryant outlet ... only to leave pretty discouraged:


The sports bras were too small (I usually wear a 46 DDD and they only went up to 44 DDD), the workout shorts were ridiculously expensive, and the regular summertime khaki shorts were just awful - unflattering is too polite of a word.

I asked around on Instagram for sports bra advice, then I went home an ordered one from Enell - it should get here tomorrow. In the meantime, I didn't let this be an excuse, and I went to the gym anyway - I just made sure to avoid exercises that would cause too much bounce. On Wednesday I did the stationary bike, and on Thursday I did some of the bike and then walking intervals on the treadmill. I'll likely do that again today, it left me surprisingly sweaty!

So, that's where I am now. I'm ready to just get my stuff together and get out of the 300s again for good. I did okay this past week, and this next week I will try to do even better.

June 16, 2015

Home again

Not much new to report from the homefront. Noah and I made it safely back to South Carolina a few days ago, and I got right back on track with eating healthy and chugging water. At three 32 oz. Nalgenes a day, I'd say that one day's drinking is more water than I drank the whole time I was in Connecticut. We made a very healthy menu for the week, made a trip to the grocery store, and have been doing fairly well so far (not yet back to the gym, we had a dentist appointment yesterday and today ... I'll write about that later). I weighed in when we got back (yikes), and while I'm sure I will still be up from my pre-trip weight, I'm hoping to at least put a dent in it before my official weigh-in on Friday.

There were a few days when we got out and did a few fun and active things, which was good. We loaded up the jogging stroller and went with my dad to a state park...


... took my mom to a rose garden in Hartford, and even went out on my mom's boyfriend's boat. I wasn't going to do it, because I was self-conscious about my size. (I thought I would sink the boat. It's an actual boat, not a canoe or a kayak. Completely illogical, but that's disordered thinking for you.)

It's funny how things have changed in the last few years. I visited them right before I found out I was pregnant, and didn't think twice about getting into a bathing suit, slipping on a life vest, and tubing behind the boat.


I saw a great quote a while ago: comparison is the thief of joy. And it couldn't be more true. I compare myself too much, not only to other people and their stories, but to my past self at varying stages on my unique journey. I'm not at my smallest, but I'm not at my biggest either. I get mad at myself for the former, when I should be motivated by and proud of the latter. I'm in transition in a lot of ways, and even though I know it's counterproductive, I keep letting myself be discouraged by self-directed anger and regret.

Overall, the trip wasn't what I had expected, and not really in a good way. It was really kind of exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Besides the usual family stuff, it's just a lot of traveling for just me and a very rambunctious two year old. I know my family has other considerations that make it more difficult for them to travel, but at the same time, I'm frustrated by having to bear the burdens of travel every single time.

And: it was hard being there without Matt - as much as he always made it difficult in his own way, there were enough good times to make him feel missed this time around. I ended up breaking my own rule of limiting our texting (he's notorious for overdoing it with texting, and when he left last month, I asked him to respect my need to heal privately for a little while), and he even called me one day when I was particularly upset.

So, for a lot of reasons, I'll be staying in South Carolina for a while. I love my family so much, but something that made me successful with my weight loss the first time around was a commitment to what I called "healthy selfishness." I made choices consistent with my goals, regardless of what was more fun or more popular. I stayed home a lot instead of going out to dinner or to a bar after work. I went to the gym, even when the weather was terrible. I made the best possible food choices, even when what I craved was something unhealthy. In South Carolina, I cried myself to sleep over eating PB&J for dinner - but in Connecticut, I don't think twice about saying yes when I am offered dessert after an already heavy meal. Something about that place makes me completely forget what I want for myself long-term. I make some good choices there, but not consistently, and right now, that's what I need, badly. I need to be consistent in my efforts and I need to have a strong foundation of progress before I head back into those tempting situations.

June 7, 2015

48 Weeks

I'm still in Connecticut through the end of this week. It's been good: mostly what I anticipated, but there's also been a good deal of unexpected struggling. I've made more than my share of terrible decisions, and I have no good excuses to offer. In Connecticut, the following things happen:
  1. My water intake drops dramatically. From nearly 100 oz a day to almost nothing.
  2. I snack between meals, and the snacks are absolutely off-plan. My family doesn't have the food issues I have - they're not thin, but they're not binge eaters either. They can keep foods in their homes that I have a lot of difficulty controlling myself with.
  3. My meals are not consistent with what I eat at home - noodles are made of flour instead of various squashes, mashed potatoes are made out of potatoes instead of cauliflower, hamburgers are eaten on rolls instead of plain/on lettuce, fries are actually fries and not sweet potatoes I've cut into sticks and roasted.
  4. I don't exercise regularly, not even close to what I do at home.
  5. I don't sleep well, and I don't sleep enough. I stay up late to maximize my time with my family, then get up with my early bird son. I try to spend time with everyone, and I don't stop and rest when I ought to.
This part of my journey to health - this is my struggle, forever. I've visited home and lost weight before - but it took a lot of mental work to get to that point. Because as much as I am triggered by having "off-plan" foods around, what I struggle with most at home is mental and emotional.
  1. I struggle with guilt, because both my parents need assistance, and both my sisters bear the weight of these challenges full-time.
  2. I struggle with reconciling my need for interactions/conversations with adults and my need for independence. I miss my family so much when I am away, but when I am visiting, I get very easily overwhelmed.
  3. I struggle with feelings of inadequacy, especially comparing myself to people from my past that simply do not merit my anxiety. (They never did, but now, so far removed from high school, they do so even less.) I grew up in a small town and going home is like walking around on Facebook - everyone's lovely and perfect successes are right in your face. I have to remember: what we see is everyone's best-of, everyone's highlight reel. Okay, so I didn't get a gorgeous marriage proposal (I didn't get one at all). I didn't have a Pinterest-perfect wedding (I barely had one of those, even). I don't own a house. Right now, I'm a single mom, going through a divorce, working where I'm needed, doing the best I can with what I have. Everyone struggles. Their struggles are probably just different from mine, and comparing myself to them doesn't help me, it just robs me of my sanity. 
I take all that anxiety, all that worry, and I bury it in snacks.

And this time, there was another emotional trigger - an unexpected one.

In visiting my family, I was so concerned about the drive up. I've done the trip a dozen times, but never as the driver, and especially not the only driver alone with my toddler. Of course, it ended up fine, and we arrived safely last Sunday.

What I hadn't planned on? The tears.

It was far more of an emotional struggle driving up here than I could have even imagined. For the last four years, when I visited my family, I had my ex-husband with me. We did that drive together, and this time around, it was a lot more painful than I expected, all the little reminders of our past trips. The landmarks we'd point out to each other, jokes we had made. The places we had stopped for lunches or walking breaks. The town where we invariably refueled because it had the first 7-11 on northbound I-95, and since leaving Chicago, he had missed Slurpees. Just silly little things that pulled at my heart. I saw him everywhere, and I was absolutely not prepared for how that would make me feel.

In collecting wisdom from others, some of the wisest words I've heard about marriage: relationships are built in the trenches, not on vacation. And that's definitely part why I got so emotional on the ride up: because the memories associated with that long drive were positive ones. When we were on vacation, things were good, and we were happy, and all the problems got left at home.

Weren't they? Weren't we? Didn't they?

Well, no, they really didn't. And when I started to realize that, I got teary again. Because I remembered how frustrating the drive was with him, and the not-so-little things that really bothered me - like texting and driving, especially with a baby in the backseat. Or how we would fill portions of the drive with conversations about our relationship and our different views on growing our family - and when you're in a car and have nowhere to hide your tears, you wait until the next rest stop and then bury the feelings with something from a vending machine or convenience store. Those stretches of the trip just broke my heart - and that was just in-transit. Without fail, the visits themselves would be frustrating - his selfishness, his sneakiness, and the constant urging from my family to reevaluate my relationship.

Again, being home - the state where I grew up, I mean, home with my family - this will forever be my struggle. But: a two week visit twice a year leaves 48 weeks for me to do things right. Someday - maybe even the next time I visit - things will be different. Maybe I'll be stronger in my resolve and my willpower. Maybe I'll have more guards in place for when I head towards the edge of my nerves and my sanity. Maybe I'll do what I always do and deplete the candy bowl, raid the fridge, and dig through the pantry. But even if that's the case - even if being here never loses its challenges - it's up to me to make the rest of my time count.

May 29, 2015

Roses and thorns

The best thing about this week is that it's over. After our awesome first week, both Noah and I had some challenges this week - emotions were all over the place. I'm proud of myself for not binge eating even in moments when I know, in the past, that would have been so comforting. I ate well, I worked out every day, I drank plenty of water. And ...

... I maintained.

Not going to lie, I was a bit crushed when I saw the scale. I knew I couldn't have lost much - it didn't feel like I had lost anything. But still ... nothing?!

Repeat after me: right now, maintaining is a victory. After the stressful week I had, being able to say I didn't binge is a better feeling than being able to record a loss. Plus, this happens. A huge loss, then no loss, then my body catches up to itself and we carry on. This, thankfully, is not a trigger.

Spur of the moment, I decided to take Noah and drive up to Connecticut to see my family. It's conflicting, because in the past I have struggled a lot with my eating while I was there ... but I was also not in the situation I am currently in. Being there with my ex-husband was triggering. Right now, my only goal is health. And visiting them is something I need - for my mental health.

Some ways to stay on track while I am there: my goal is to keep logging on MyFitnessPal (my mom has a food scale, and my sister cooks very healthy meals for my dad, so I'm feeling confident), and to keep documenting meals and workouts on Instagram.


There isn't a gym for me to use in Connecticut, but I have a car and there are plenty of ways to stay active. There will be room in the trunk of the car for my jogging stroller, which I can take to the beach or to state parks.

My biggest worry about the trip, honestly, is the drive there. I got my license less than a year ago, and the drive involves going through Washington, D.C., the New Jersey Turnpike, and New York City. It's only a 12 hour drive, but my goal is to get through D.C. tomorrow and stay at a hotel in Maryland overnight, then do the second half of the trip on Sunday. I'm completely terrified, but the only way out of the fear is through it.

What about you? What NSVs did you have this week? Have you ever done a long car ride by yourself (or with a toddler!)? Any tips/tricks/advice?

P.S. I heard from a few people that they (a) weren't seeing the posts to the Page for the "Made to Crave" reading group and that (b) it wasn't a private forum so they weren't comfortable posting. So, I created a Private Group instead - no one except people in the group can see posts/activity. I scheduled the Page to self-destruct (my apologies to everyone who had Liked it!), so if anyone is still interested in the discussion group, here is a link to the Group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ASLBooks/

May 26, 2015

PB&J

The blissful ease of our new life seems to have come to a screeching halt this weekend. The honeymoon period is over, and we are settling into the realities of our situation.

For Noah, this meant finally realizing that Daddy isn't coming home, and it translated into a weekend full of tantrums, wanting to be held constantly, and last night - we were snuggling before bed, I had him in my arms, and he started crying and said "I miss Daddy." For all the things I don't like about my ex-husband, this has to be his worst offense: walking away from this sweet, loving little person and thinking that he is too young to be affected and too young to remember ... it's maddening.

For me, the difficulty of this weekend was sheer exhaustion. I keep trying to do too many things at once - clean the house, fix things we'd been postponing, go here, do this, make sure healthy dinners are on the table - and by the end of the day, I'm just wiped out. I know it's going to get worse before it gets better, and I'm trying to figure out how to balance my days so I'm not feeling completely depleted by bedtime.

On Saturday morning, we got up early to go to the park, only to find that last week's flat tire hadn't been fixed properly, so it was flat again. Our morning was spent instead at an auto shop getting tires replaced. The park was our plan for that day because it's free. The tires were now the second time I had to dip into my emergency fund in one week. (It's okay. That's why I have it. I just worry about what happens when it runs out, or if something really big happens.)

Then, Saturday night, my family sent me pictures of their various dinners - my sister out with her husband for his birthday, and my mother cooking up a feast of lobsters for her brother who was visiting from out of town. And I was exhausted, and I didn't want to cook at all, and I just cried. This sucks. But - even if Matthew was still here, I'd still have to cook. This is not an excuse, I told myself. And I made scrambled eggs and was in bed by 8:30.

But then the Monday holiday came around, and it was the apex of the weekend's stress. The most tantrums. The most frustration. And when dinner rolled around, I didn't want to cook again. I just wanted a sandwich. Peanut butter and jelly, no frills, and another early bedtime.

I pulled the ingredients out from the pantry, put them on the counter, and started to cry.

It's not Whole 30. If I eat this, I'm a failure. If I eat this, it's gonna snowball. I'll regain everything - again. I'm gonna be fat forever. I have no self-control. I'm so stupid, wanting a sandwich more than I want to wear my skinny clothes again. I'm such a failure.

The negative self-talk flooded my mind, and the tears turned into full-on sobbing at the kitchen counter.

Suddenly, I felt a little tug at my shirt and a hug around my leg.

Mama, I sorry.

And the tears didn't stop. Because my son thought he had done something wrong. He thought I was upset or mad at him. And I was crying about a stupid sandwich.

What kind of mother am I? What kind of relationship to food am I modeling for my son? Crying about what you can and cannot eat?

Obsession is a dangerous game.

I dried my tears, scooped him up, and gave him a big kiss and told him he didn't need to be sorry, Mama was not mad. And I handed him a plate with a few slices of bread, and he helped spread the peanut butter on our sandwiches. I gave him another big kiss and thanked him for being my wonderful helper, and we ate our sandwiches at the table with smiles.

This morning, I was right back to a paleo breakfast. I am writing now, then getting back into the gym. This afternoon, I'll cook up a few meals to keep on hand for when I'm tired and not wanting to cook.

It's been a week since our family dynamic changed drastically, I need to allow myself to have days when a sandwich is a good enough dinner. I'm trying to curb the negative voice in my head, reminding me that people in even more difficult situations can stick to eating plans regardless of their circumstances.

Their circumstances are not mine.

This is me, doing the best I can.

And some nights, that means peanut butter and jelly.

May 22, 2015

Roses and thorns

In my first week as a single mother, I not only got a flat tire on the car, but the other evening during a rainstorm, Noah and I accidentally got locked out on our second-story balcony.

The tire was patched up after a quick call to AAA.

A locksmith came to rescue us from the balcony.

Neither of these incidents caused me to binge eat.

NSV is not even a strong enough concept for this. It blows my mind, really. Because as recently as a week and a half ago, I was triggered by every little thing - as big as a fight or as small as a rude or unkind comment from my ex-husband. Noah and I sat on the balcony for nearly an hour, singing and talking and watching the thunder and lightning and rain. He got a little antsy at the end, understandably, but still - it didn't trigger me to overeat.

This has been the best week I've had, no joke, in years.

Every day I woke up in my beautiful, comfortable bed. I spend the morning with my son - we empty the dishwasher together, then make breakfast together, then I bring him to daycare and I head to the gym. After the gym, I clean the house or work on projects - paintings for my bedroom, organizing the closets, selling toys Noah has outgrown to the children's consignment shop. I get Noah from the school, and we have fun - one day we went to a friend's house to play in the pool/sprinklers, today we are going to the library. We make dinner together, clean up, read some books, and snuggle up for bed.

After he goes to sleep and I am all by myself, I'm still not triggered or even interested in binge eating. I load up the dishwasher, I do any laundry if needed, I read, I write, I play Words With Friends, I watch Netflix (I am so into "Grace and Frankie" right now). And I go to bed feeling grateful and feeling satisfied that I did the best I could that day.

I worked out every day except the weekend, when the gym was closed so Noah and I went for walks. I drank plenty of water. I tracked my food. And it was a good week by the numbers as well.

I know not to expect big results like this every week, and I know these are pounds I've lost a dozen times already, but it's still so nice to make progress, even if this is well-worn territory.

$5 goes into the Fitbit Fund, and I'm looking forward to finally getting out of the 300s again - for good this time. Once I get to 295, I will start Couch to 5K again - a significant number, as it's not only my 50 pound loss, but it's also the weight I was when I started the running program back in 2010.

My goals for this upcoming week are to just keep up the good work. Stay focused, keep busy, and make the best choices I can. Having the rules of the Whole30 is very helpful right now - it gives me a plan, it gives me something to focus on. And having an audience on MyFitnessPal and Instagram has definitely helped with keeping me accountable!

What about you? How was your week? Any NSVs? What are your goals for next week?

May 19, 2015

Reading

Just a short post today.

The first time I lost the weight, I soaked up other people's stories and used them to motivate and inspire myself. I watched a ton of documentaries, read several books, and of course, found a strong blog community for support.

I've heard from a lot of folks that they were interested in the discussion group for "Made to Crave." I've been thinking a lot about it, and I decided to take it maybe a step further, and I created a page on Facebook for a reading group, like an online book club. I've called it a novel idea, and I am really looking forward to the discussions we can have there!

We will start this coming Sunday with "Made to Crave," and we will take a month to read through it a little at a time (I'll post a schedule there soon), and have discussions on the Page.

Unlike "Women, Food, and God," which I think can be appreciated by folks across the spectrum of where they are religiously, "Made to Crave" is definitely very strongly Christian. I understand that's not everyone's faith or interest, so once that book is done, we will have a new book every month from a variety of authors about weight, weight loss, healthy living, self-esteem/self-confidence, and more. (I'm thinking next will be comedian Jim Gaffigan's "Food: A Love Story").

I hope to see many of you there! Any suggestions for future books of the month?

May 18, 2015

Relieved

I've had several people reach out to me in the past few days, to check in on me and see how I am doing. My answer to everyone has been about the same: I'm doing really well. I thought I would cry when he packed up the car, or when I saw the taillights disappear. Then I thought maybe I would cry when I woke up the next morning, or when he eventually called to let us know he had arrived. I've been waiting to get emotional, but so far, the only thing I have felt is relief.

The night that he left, I stayed up way too late, cleaning and organizing the bedroom. Since we moved in here, I've had my clothes in a pile on the floor while he took over the walk-in closet. I sorted them out, filled the dresser, and swept the floor.

I also made my bed with brand-new sheets and a brand-new quilt. It felt necessary. I thought that it was ingenious and unique, but every divorced woman I've spoken to said that she did the same thing. And it makes sense. Your bed is a very intimate place, but also a vulnerable one. Regardless of our reasons for getting divorced, it seems that we all feel that this is a space that we need to reclaim, that we need to assert ourselves and our personalities over.

I know that eventually, there will be a bad day. I know that this feeling of peace won't last forever, that there will be days when I am tired beyond exhaustion, when I wish that there was someone else here to talk to, when I feel overwhelmed. I'm hopeful, though, that I'll make the right decisions in how I respond to these feelings. Being exhausted and overwhelmed and lonely is a lot more stressful when there someone else here who ought to be contributing, who ought to offer support. Right now, I know what I am up against, and I have measures in place to make sure that when the going gets tough, I don't have any interest in following back into bad habits.

My eating has been on point. I have been trying to share pictures on Instagram as well as logging everything into MyFitnessPal. I went to the gym Friday before he left, and was back there this morning - it is closed over the weekend, but both days Noah and I went for walks around our neighborhood. It's not a very long walk, but every little bit helps … I figured that if I work out Monday through Friday, the weekends can be rest days and any activity is a bonus. Plus, any time that we are out and about, I am out of the kitchen.

May 15, 2015

Roses and thorns

If I were to give a conservative estimate, I'd say that I could eat 500 calories in about ... eight to ten seconds. Pick the right (or wrong, I should say) food, and that's just a few bites. Now, burning 500 calories ... that's another story. It's 45 minutes on the adaptive motion trainer, closer to an hour on the elliptical, and about two and a half hours on the stationary bike.

Let this be a reminder to myself, then: not only is it easier to eat well than to try and undo bad eating, but that's not a good plan for long-term health in general. Exercise shouldn't be a punishment for eating, regardless of whether it is on- or off-plan.

This week started out rough - like I said in my last post, I really struggled with my eating this weekend. The bad news is, I don't know how to not be triggered by my current situation. The better news is, the situation ends tonight, after our son goes to sleep. Matthew will be on the road overnight, and tomorrow I wake up new, so to speak.

Things that I did well this week:
  1. I got back in the gym Wednesday, once my mother-in-law headed back to the Midwest, and I went yesterday as well. I'll go today too, but during the summer, the University gym is closed on weekends, so tomorrow and Sunday I'll maybe do a Richard Simmons DVD during Noah's nap, or we will go to the park and walk on the trails if it's not too hot and humid.
  2. I bought a Waterpik for flossing my teeth. It's embarrassing to admit, but when I get depressed, I not only don't take care of myself nutritionally, but I ignore my common sense and knowledge about hygiene. But I'm committed to making a strong effort to be better about taking care of my whole self.
Weight-wise, despite a few on-plan days, I'm still up for the week - 312. I can regain weight faster than you might believe. But I'm ready to make this the last week with a gain. I've got a plan. Plans. I've got two plans.

First, Whole30 starts tomorrow. No excuses. I'm gonna post as much as I can on my Instagram feed so that I can share my progress. My only change to the Whole30 plan will be to stay on track with my weekly weigh-ins, instead of one at the beginning and one at the end. I understand why they discourage it, but I also know myself, my body, and my journey, and I am at a point where I need that accountability.

Second, the first time I lost the weight, it was hard to think of goal-based rewards for myself, but this time, I am going to try and see if that motivates me better. I am constantly on the fence about a Fitbit - I am interested in some of the data, but I also know that I tend to get obsessive when I know too much. (Even MyFitnessPal can be frustrating to me sometimes). So, I'll make that a goal-based reward: for every week that I have a loss or maintain, I will add $5 to a piggy bank. If I have a gain, I have to take $10 out. Once I have $125, that will cover the Fitbit Charge.


In as few as six months of losses, it can be mine! (And if I change my mind about the Fitbit when I make the $125 goal, I'll still have a good bit of change saved up to buy something nice for myself, maybe a massage or a new dress!)

Today is going to be very difficult and emotional, but I'm not going to let it win. Matthew wants to go out to lunch *and* dinner, and I'm going to go to one or the other but not both. Probably will go to dinner, since the place he wants to eat for lunch is triggering to me - besides being a Southern buffet (so, not a single healthy item to be found), it's also the place where we went to lunch after we got married, and I know that it would set off something in my mind - a flood of feelings that I know I would want to bury under an excess of food.

I have my "Made to Crave" devotional by my bedside, ten or fifteen different mud masks in the bathroom, about a dozen canvases to paint, and an entire house to de-clutter and personalize. I also have reached out to several people who I love and trust and asked them to help me get through the day - I will text them when I am feeling triggered, to keep my hands busy and my mind occupied.

I'm scared. I'm nervous. I can feel how close I am to the edge of really big things, and that's terrifying.

But I'm ready.