January 16, 2016

51 percent happy

It's really easy to be seduced by quick fixes, to want to believe that results come from anything other than sweat equity. In my life, I have tried so many horrible ways to lose weight (take this pill! drink this shake! cereal only for two meals! eat only eggs! drink only juice!) - and while the numbers drop quickly, they also rebound just as fast when I realize after a day or two that I can't do this forever.

Which is why I like how I am eating now. I would call my eating plan restrictive, but not limiting. I'm aware of what's on my plate and I eat it mindfully, but it's fairly well balanced, and the goal is not to lose 10 pounds in a weekend, not to fit in a size smaller in three days. I am getting results, and I don't feel deprived. It feels sustainable, which really is the goal right now: above all, consistency.

I weighed myself yesterday and logged a 3 pound loss for the week. That makes 10 down since January 1, and I am feeling great - not just because of the number, but because of how it got there, and because of everything else that comes with choosing to do right by your body. I wake easier and with more energy, and even on days when I'm tired, the tiredness feels different. There isn't that extra heaviness and bloat from stuffing myself sick. I've been kicking butt with my goals for this month - I've made my water goal every day so far, and I've stayed fully on-plan all but two days (and even those days were mostly on plan!).

I'm also feeling very strong this week after an upsetting conversation about my husband. I'm usually pretty good about not letting him get to me - he's mostly "out of sight, out of mind," and thank goodness for that. But sometimes, and never when I expect it, he's brought to the front of my thoughts, and it almost always triggers me. (Because it's never good news.) This was some particularly rough information, and I'm so, so proud of myself for staying on plan through it. I'm trying so hard to be strong, to not let the choices he made that devastated our marriage dictate how I feel about myself now that I'm working so hard to be free.

I used my office hours this week to try and get ahead on whatever I can, and I've been listening to Amy Poehler's "Yes Please" on Audible. And of course, the place I picked up right after that conversation about my husband was her, talking about her divorce. And even though I feel like a lot of the book is hit or miss, her thoughts about her divorce are entirely perfect.
When you are a person going through a divorce you feel incredibly alone, yet you are constantly reminded by society how frequently divorce happens and how common it has become. You aren’t allowed to feel special, but no one understands the specific ways you are in pain ... Someday you will wake up feeling 51 percent happy and slowly, molecule by molecule, you will feel like yourself again.
It's a learning process, and some days are easier than others. But it's finally starting to feel like there are more good days than rough ones, which is a good sign. It's slow going, but the recovery is real and it is happening.

I didn't get to walk much this week - it was the first week of the semester, and we had issues trying to get an electrician to our apartment, so I think I only walked 3 of 7 days. But I've got my sights on this next week. The long weekend will help - I'll take Noah to "the exercise park," as he calls it. There's a playground and a 1 km walking path, and I walk the path 3-5 times with him in the stroller before heading over to let him run around on the playground. There's an unpaved 1 km path too, but all I have is an umbrella stroller (I sold the running stroller a few months ago, partly to buy groceries, but mostly because it reminded me of my husband and it made me angry even just looking at it). Right now, the paved path is perfect for us. Depending on the weather, we may also go down to the beach or to a different park in the area to walk around there. Sky's the limit!

What about you? Any fun weekend plans? How are your Resolutions coming along?

January 13, 2016

Back to work

My Spring semester started Monday, and immediately it felt like there hadn't been a break at all. Not that I was tired - I worked hard over the break to make sure I wasn't overwhelmed these first two weeks like I usually am. But rather, it just doesn't feel like there were several weeks between the final exams and this new start of classes. (Probably because I was on campus working most days. The semester ends but the work doesn't.)

This is going to be one of my toughest semesters so far. Usually I teach several sections of the same course, so I do mostly general prep and then customize the experience for each class. But this semester, I have all different courses - and two more courses than my contract says I should carry. (I need the money, though, so I'm volunteering for everything I can.) So I made sure I spent time over break getting as much done in advance - I usually like to be a few steps ahead of the game anyway, but having five different courses means I'm going to need to be even more hyper-organized this semester than usual.

Plus life stuff. Plus weight loss stuff. If I can survive the first half of 2016, I'm pretty sure I can handle anything.

My schedule this semester is ... I don't know. I can't tell if I'm going to love it or hate it. I have a very long and packed schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I have no classes at all on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

Pro: I can use those off days to do grading without student interruption, schedule meetings, do committee work, get some exercise.
Con: I can't get to the gym Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays.

And - maybe it was just because it was the first day, but Monday, I struggled to get my water in. And that has this ripple effect throughout my whole routine. It's really crazy what a huge difference drinking at least 96 oz. of water a day has for me.

I'm proud that even after the difficult Monday, I got up Tuesday and got right back to work. I didn't let one tough day lead to a binge cycle like I have done so often in the past. And I learned from it - I made sure to prioritize water because the not-enough-water-give-me-all-the-food on Monday night had been such a challenge.

Baby steps in the right direction are still progress. All forward motion counts.

I'm trying to figure out how to work activity into my busy days - a double challenge since the long days are exhausting. Poor Noah - Monday, he snuggled right up after dinner and fell asleep in my arms. It's a long day for a little guy - and my second job hasn't even started yet (I also teach an online class via Skype from my home office late Monday nights, and I have a babysitter come in case he wakes up while I am teaching).

One thing I looked into was an under-desk elliptical - I don't have the room/capability for a standing desk or treadmill desk at work, so I was trying to figure out what I could do. I've seen a few blogs where people said they were going to try them - any recommendations? I know it wouldn't be the same workout I would get at the gym, but any activity would be better than none, right?

I also have my tried-and-true Richard Simmons DVDs and the Wii Fit (though I've been having trouble getting the balance board to work - even with brand new batteries, it won't stay connected. I think it may need to be replaced). The hard part for me is just mustering up the energy after early mornings and long days. We're out the door at 6:45 a.m. on school days; my Monday night class meets 9-11:30 p.m. (it's for a different university; the school is in a different time zone, so it's not that crazy late for them). So maybe Mondays will be complete rest days and the other days, I'll do my best?

It's so hard when you're losing weight not to compare your journey to other people's experiences, and for me, I'm finding that I struggle not only with that, but with comparing my current journey to my past one. This is what worked then, this is how I did things then - it works with some things, but others, it is discouraging. My work schedule then was teaching 12 credits (three 4-credit courses) a semester. Here/now, my contract is 15 credits a semester - and this semester I have one 5-credit and four 3-credit courses - plus the 4-credit night class. Then, I would go right to the gym after work - now, I go right to the daycare to get my kiddo, who's had just as long of a day, and who's ready for some mama love and some dinner.

I keep trying to remind myself: you are doing the best you can for the situation you're in right now. I struggle with feeling like I am not doing enough, but at the same time, I know I am doing the best that I can and I'm seeing results without feeling deprived (neither starving nor exhausted). It's probably going to be slower than my first time around, and that's a difficult fact to accept. I'm trying to look at it with five more years of maturity and life experience: I lost the weight fast the first time, but I didn't keep it off. This time, losses will be hard-earned, the long-term result may not arrive as quickly as I want. But hopefully, in this extra time, I'll be learning more about how to succeed at long-term maintenance, and I'll make peace with some of the demons that I wrestled all the way back to over 300 pounds.

January 10, 2016

I've got this

A bit of good news: our hearing was canceled, in favor of mediation at a later date. This has a lot of benefits, and it should be a simpler and less expensive process. So that's a relief. There's still a lot of stress to come, but it's nice to have a simplified timeline. Within 90 days, we'll do mediation, which should only take one day (we had almost no assets and there's very little we disagree on). Then in May when the year of separation is up, we present it to a judge, and boom. Divorced. I'm already looking forward to the sigh of relief and the big, messy cry into my pillows that day.

He still came to South Carolina this week. When he arrived this past Monday, we met up at a grocery store so he could buy things he'd need for Noah at their hotel (and I needed a few things, too). After we shopped, he asked if I'd like to go out to dinner with them, and he recommended a huge buffet nearby (Myrtle Beach is full of them, all fried and carb-y). I politely declined, let them go on their way, and headed home for an on-plan dinner and movies on the couch.

I went to bed that night so happy. I've got this. The divorce stuff, the parenting stuff, the weight loss stuff. It's all incredibly hard, but I'm getting through it. And I'm doing really well. Being able to stay on-plan with him here is the biggest victory I've had in a very, very long time.

He's still here, actually, leaving tomorrow. He had to meet with his lawyer, and he wanted to see Noah anyway. It's been ... okay. Some good parts, some difficult parts. About what I have learned to expect from him, anyway.

As much as I wouldn't wish divorce on anyone, at the same time, I am a little grateful to have people who were once in the place I am and who can offer advice, love, and support. I've had many friends reach out to check in with me and offer shoulders to cry on - and some days, that's the best thing in the world, it's just what I need.

When I first shared the news, one of my blog friends, Amanda, gave me a lot of great advice. Her background was a bit different from mine, but what I've found (from her, and others) is that situational specifics aside, there's still so much we all have in common in this situation.

Something really interesting she shared with me, and it was actually something someone had said to her in my place: divorcing is difficult, for sure, and learning how to be on your own is tough - but, you get to find out how you like your eggs. At the time, I listened, but didn't quite understand. I'd only been with my husband for a short time, it didn't feel like I'd forgotten aspects of my personality or interests. I knew I felt less happy, less creative - but there weren't any real specifics.

Or so I thought.

Over Thanksgiving Break, we traveled to visit his mother and brothers - and my husband invited himself, much to everyone else's chagrin. (I'm not alone in saying he has a particular knack for upsetting absolutely everyone he interacts with.) While we were there, to avoid flying with a car seat (and to make extra room for transporting everyone), we rented a car. For the most part, the boys all went in the rental car, and I rode with my mother-in-law.

One morning, though, at the insistence of our son, I rode in the backseat of the rental car while my husband drove (the rental paperwork apparently didn't allow me to be the driver - and in an unfamiliar area, I'm mostly okay with that). And suddenly, I remembered how much I hated being a passenger with him. And I remembered what my friend had said about divorce, and I realized ... I've really been enjoying life away from him! I've been enjoying my eggs how I like 'em - and my car, which is not too hot (like he always makes it) and there's music (instead of monotone NPR world news 24/7).

It's a little thing, but it really isn't. These moments are so deeply satisfying - to realize that my life is my own again, that I get to decide how things are and how they will be.