March 20, 2015

Beginnings, endings, and beginnings

In late May or early June 2011, I was nearing my 150 pound weight loss goal. I was on top of the world, and thought that I might be open to seeking a partner for my journey. I had tried a few months earlier, with poor results, but now, almost 50 more pounds lighter, I felt ready. Or at least readier. I was young, healthy, and living in an incredible city. Everything was happening for me - I looked good, I felt amazing, and I wanted someone to share that with.

One night, I grabbed a postcard and a "Hello! My name is" name sticker. I trimmed the top off the sticker, scribbled down an honest belief, and mailed it in to PostSecret.

Only a few weeks later, I went on a first date with the man I would eventually marry. But by the time the card was posted to the PostSecret website a few months later, we were no longer together - in terms of our relationship as well as geography. It was a Sunday morning in my apartment in California - I went to the site, saw my card, and wondered if it would ever be true.

I still wonder that now.

Last night, I told my husband that I had contacted a lawyer's office, and that I was looking to get things started in pursuit of a divorce. I've been doing research on the process, and as long as we can come to a mutual agreement on things, it shouldn't be too complicated or too expensive.

He was shocked, but not surprised, if that makes sense. Last September, I had told him that I wanted to separate but that I would allow him to stay living in our apartment while he got a job and figured out his next steps. We talked a lot, we cried, we made promises to communicate more and seek counseling. But after that night, nothing changed. And situations got worse.

It wasn't one thing that ended the marriage, it was a lot of things. Some little, some very big. And I'm sure I'll be exploring and writing my way through that more as I work through my recovery and healing process.

Immediately after telling him, he called a few family members, which upset me - that's exactly why this is happening, because he talks to everyone except me about our issues. Before discussing it at all with me, he had already received advice and harsh words from people who know little to nothing about our situation here.

And that's an interesting thing, too. When I told my mother and sisters, the reaction was a sigh of relief and finally in unison. Because I've opened up to them extensively. Matt doesn't communicate with me, but he doesn't communicate with his own family either. So to them, of course this was a complete shock, it seemed to come from out of nowhere ... because to them, it did.

I don't want this to become a Matt-bashing space. This blog is the story my life, with a close focus on my journey to health, and I want to keep the relationship talk limited to what is crucial for my health - physical and mental. I don't want to say we are parting as friends, because honestly, as much as I wouldn't call the way we've been living and interacting a marriage, I wouldn't even say what we have now is a close friendship. But we're far from enemies, and we'll hopefully each emerge from this in a far better state.

I think the idea that people come out of a marriage as enemies is one that terrifies us both. It happened in both our parents' marriages, and we both grew up damaged by the effect that the fighting and pettiness had on us. I urged him last night: during this process, we have to communicate, it's important now more than ever. And please, please, keep in mind: ours is not our parents' marriages, this will not be our parents' divorces. We have the chance to walk away from this with as much of a feeling of peace as we can, all things considered. The key is going to be communicating - that's been the key all along.

Since making the decision to reach out and figure out the next legal steps, I've felt more and more like my best self - I've made good food choices, I've been consistent with workouts, I've slept better. I told Matt, that's another positive to separating - since we've been together, we've both struggled not only with our weight, but with disordered habits. We don't support or encourage each other - we trigger each other. Besides mental health, having a bit of distance between us will be good for our physical health as well.

I've been reaching out to friends and family, hoping for strength and guidance through this. I know I can survive this - my sister Lisa said, no one ever died from getting a divorce - but I am still nervous and anxious. I have had a few good days this week, but that's because everything is new. Everything is still talk. But within the next few months, half of the bedroom will be empty. Half of the bed will be vacant. There will be holes in the walls where his pictures and artworks were. Traces of him everywhere. And that's just the usual end-of-relationship emotions - there will also be lawyer meetings, new bills, and trying to balance being a single mom who works full-time and still makes time for her son and for herself.

My dad calls stuff like this "going through the mill." You're going through the mill, he says. Life is throwing something at you, and it's going to be tough for a while, but the only way out is through. It's a feeling I've had so many times before, it's just the situational specifics that keep changing. I didn't think I could lose 150 pounds, but I did. I didn't think I could become a mother, but I did. And right now, even though I worry that I am going to wind up defeated by this - I know, deep in my heart, I won't.

March 19, 2015

Best ever

One day while my sister was here, I noticed a notification on my phone saying that my father had commented on my Facebook status. Knowing I hadn't posted one in a while, I went to investigate, and as it turns out, he was scrolling pretty deep in the archives: my birthday back in 2010.

2010 was my year, in so many ways. Finishing grad school, getting my first real full-time job, and taking the first steps toward a healthier life. My "rebirthday" was July 31 - by the time my actual birthday rolled around less than four months later, I was down about 75 pounds and about halfway through Couch to 5K.

I remember that day so vividly. I remember having tears in my eyes as I did my cool-down on the treadmill, amazed at what I had just accomplished - not just that day, but in the months leading up to it. I was in uncharted territory for myself - I'd never seen such results before. And it was terrifying, exhilarating, and scary. And I'd never been happier.

Sometimes I look back on that year and wonder if it really happened. I'd fantasized my entire life about being at a healthy, normal weight. Everything came and then disappeared so fast, I wonder if I hadn't just dreamt it.

My heart is so full of love and gratitude for all the people who have been encouraging me. I know in the long run that what they say is true: I did it once, I can do it again. My dad is right - I do deserve more best birthdays ever, but not only that. I deserve great days, great weeks. I deserve health, for myself and for me to be what my son needs.

I'm taking steps to make this happen. On a micro level, I've been eating well, and being gentle with myself. I know I feel great when I eat paleo, but I also know that I make myself feel absolutely horrible with guilt when I eat something off-plan. So I've been doing the best that I can, while allowing myself room to breathe. I eat paleo meals, and I eat one non-paleo snack a day. Breakfasts are smoothies made with fruits, veggies, and greens. Lunches are leftovers. Dinners are anything from my Pinterest board of paleo recipes - I try to make new ones sometimes, but definitely find a few that we like a lot and we tend to make those often. Most days lately, I've been taking a Greek yogurt for a snack with my lunch - we just got a Publix (a Southern grocery store) here and their store brand Greek yogurt is my new favorite. I like it very thick, and I like to be able to add the fruit myself, so I can add as much or as little as I want that day. The yogurts satisfy both the part of me that craves sweet and the part of me that needs protein.

I've also been consistent with exercise. I have tried to be gentle with myself with this as well. Some days, workouts are easy. On the days when I am not motivated, I do the best I can. Tuesday, for example - I just wasn't feeling great, so I did 15 minutes on the Adaptive Motion Trainer, then 15 minutes on the bike. As long as I get at least 30 minutes, I feel good - I can go as slow or as fast as I need to.

I'm looking forward to hopefully getting back out of the 300s - I'm very close at this point - and this time, trying my hardest to make sure I stay out of the 300s for good. Last time, I did some good meditating on the topic, and it helped motivate me to keep moving onward and downward. I'm looking for not only something meaningful to do for myself to help me focus on getting back down under the next century, but also - a good non-food reward.

What about you? Any ideas for something to commemorate/say permanent goodbye to the 300s? What rewards, if any, do you use as weight loss incentives?

March 16, 2015


I can't believe the spring break I had looked forward to so much is already come and gone! I'm back at work today, feeling mentally rested and ready for the next last weeks of the semester.

We had such a gorgeous week here in South Carolina. The weather was supposed to be terrible but it ended up being almost perfect, sunny almost every day, and even the little rain we had wasn't horrible.

We did a ton of walking: a few mornings on the track at the University, an afternoon at a sculpture garden, a morning at a huge park with a few 1K paths. By the end of the week, we'd earned our half marathon medals, and it felt great.

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It was really just a perfect week. I got to talk to my sister a lot about our lives and what we hope to achieve for ourselves, what progress we want to make to live healthier and happier lives. I talked a lot about my marriage, and what I want to happen, and what needs to happen. She gave me the best advice back in December:
You do what you have to, and then you do what you need to.
It's so perfect, and I'm in the process of figuring out how to accomplish both.

This week, my goal is to eat clean and get back in the gym. With all the walking we did, I maintained my weight over the week, which I am pretty pleased with. We went out to eat a few times, and I made mostly good choices. Our only workouts were walking, so this week, I'm ready to get back into the gym (I'm setting a goal of 5 times). I also want to be better about staying hydrated - I really have trouble with that when I am not at my desk or in a classroom!

What about you? What are your goals for the week? How do you make sure you stay hydrated on days when you're not following your normal routine?