Sicklings

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My son has had the worst cough all week… Throwing up from the nasty cough, fevers, the whole nine yards. My husband finally succumbed to the fever yesterday and today we took the kids to the doctor and my daughter registered a fever while we were there. My tonsils turned into rocks last night, so we decided to hunker down today and have a family illness day (after the doctor’s visit and fortifying Slurpees were purchased, of course). We were all sick, sneezing, coughing, breaking fevers and reigniting them all day. At one point, I was in my bed, feverish kids piled on me, perfectly content. It’s funny how sometimes it takes a literal illness to make you slow down and just enjoy the feeling of children wrapped around your body for the afternoon. I suppose the flu isn’t all bad.

Oh, and this morning I weighed in at 207!!! I’m getting closer and closer again and it feels so satisfying.

Everything is Awesome

Before I get into it, I want to mention that my return to school is going swimmingly! The first two days were rough, I’m not going to lie, but after Wednesday my kids and I just kind of got into the flow of things and it started to feel good again. On top of that? I’m back down to 208. Phew! Only three pounds to my all time low, then I’m making my way out of the 200′s. Enough is enough. I’m determined to get it done this time!

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{we saw The Lego Movie the other day. Yes, Everything was Awesome! It is now my favorite kid’s film, barely beating out Frozen! Also? The only pic from this week that does not have my students or children in it. Ha!}
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Now… Getting down to business…
H.A.A.L.T.- Hungry, angry, anxious, lonely, tired…
Amy, a reader of Tamara Shazam and all around awesome person, mentioned this acronym to me in a comment a week or so ago. It triggered some deep thinking of my own that resulted in my menu of responses to anxiety that I recently wrote about.
It was interesting to realize how those things really do strike a response in me.
Hungry
When I’m hungry, I’ll eat the entire time I’m making dinner, then feel obligated to eat a full meal because I prepared it AND because I usually am ashamed that I ate so much during the prep time. I’ve gotten better at controlling that part, and have sat with an empty plate at dinner time a few nights lately after I’ve binged during cooking. I guess it’s a lot like grocery shopping on an empty stomach.
Anxious
When I’m anxious, I look for any distraction possible and usually that is food. I’m working on changing this, obviously, but it’s still something I have to contend with way more often than I would like. I think the trick here, for me, is controlling my anxiety, and that is no small feat.
Angry
When I’m angry I don’t really like to eat. I like to move vigorously or sulk and sit in a dark room with noise canceling device over my ears. Think I’m joking? Just ask my husband who was probably terrified the first time he discovered me hiding in a dark closet. LOL! It sounds stupid, but canceling out stimulation of any kind works wonders for my freak outs.
Lonley
I do eat when I am lonely. I am incredibly insecure, though I think that is probably fairly surprising to some people. Maybe not, but I act confident, in general. When I get to feeling insecure and lonely (I think the two are tied for me), though, it is a perfect opportunity to turn to my good old friend: food. Preferably ice cream. Or tortilla chips with salsa and sour cream. And as I sit there and eat, my mind ponders my sad, lonesome state of affairs and I start looking for the next thing that might taste good… Then the next. I think those insecure, lonely moments are the hardest for me to control myself in.
Tired
When I’m tired, I can be very crabby, very punitive to myself, quite passive aggressive and I feel entitled of food in a way that is different. Like, I’ve EARNED the right to treats and binges. I deserve x because I had a hard tough day… That’s not how it’s supposed to work, but I do it anyhow.
Amy was right, when any of these get out of balance, a binge or poor food choice often lurks right around the corner! I feel like, if I pay attention to these triggers, I might be able to control myself better by making sure I don’t become too much of any of those things and I can keep cruising forward on my body project. Though I suppose it’s a bit of a brain project anymore as well, amiright?!

Anxiety Brain & The Binge

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As I was going through this break, I tried to be really reflective about the thoughts and feelings I was having when I would struggle with anxiety and want to fill my face with a food binge. Apparently, I have a few key strategies to work through my anxiety that I have used over the past several years: eating, television, exercise, intimacy, music and excessive attention. I’m not saying that these are all practices that are great strategies, they’re just the ones I fall back on when others get out of balance.
When I’m having uncontrollable thoughts, putting something in my mouth is the easiest way to distract myself and this week I have fallen into that trap repeatedly. The crunch of something between my teeth, something sweet to give my brain a brief high note- food is a beautiful distraction. There’s nothing that so completely takes over my brain like food. Seeking it, making it, looking at it, smelling it, eating it- food is a whole brain distraction for me. No wonder I used it to chill my brain out so often.
Television is another addictive habit I have. Mostly, I have broken it and I’m pretty much one of those annoying people who doesn’t really watch TV. Except I do. I like to watch TV to turn off the voices in my head. Having a narrative going in my head distracts me enough that I can cover up the bad self talk I have going and it helps to stop worrying about all that stupid little stuff. I find that falling asleep to a comedy series like Friends or The Office allows my brain to shut down faster, to the point where I don’t even need to see the pictures, I just need to hear voices talking. I use meditations, books on tape and actual streaming TV with headphones, sometimes, to make my brain quiet.
Exercise is a newer strategy, and it’s probably the most difficult strategy to pull out of my back pocket when I’m feeling overwhelmed. But it’s also the very best. If I go for a run when I’m feeling like life is too much, I fight it for about the first mile. After I get through that torture, my brain starts to make a shift and I start feeling so much better. The endorphins start rolling through me and it is the cleanest, best pick me up I know of when I’m out of control; really it’s the one I should turn to above all else! When my run is over, I’m usually feeling just fine and can continue my day like a normal person.
Intimacy is the strategy that I don’t like to write about here the most. I’m a teacher and, while it is acknowledged that we have private lives, we are like parents to everyone and no one wants to hear about what happens behind our closed doors! That said, having focused 1:1 time with my husband can change my entire outlook on everything. Human touch, loving feelings, good endorphins- I need them all and quite often! To that end, we have an understanding with each other and try to support one another as often as we need to keep this in balance. When I’m missing out on my husband’s attention, I can turn into a pouty little brat, and when the pouty little brat comes out she also wants to eat crappy food because a brat, by definition, does and demands what she wants when she wants it regardless of how bad or selfish the choices are, and I am no different! It’s silly – but vital- to consider how important this aspect of my life and marriage are!
The others, music and excessive attention, are definitely things I use, but not nearly to the degree I use the others. I make really specific playlists that target being and thinking positively, that target being understanding, that target being in love, being empathetic and being happy. I put the headphones on and close out the world and life rights itself nicely, through music, sometimes. And excessive attention? Who doesn’t love a massage from their spouse? An opportunity to be babied a little? We all need that from time to time.
I think, though, the point of writing about this was to look at what has happened over the past few weeks that has thrown me for this loop. My work life has been taking way too much of my private life up through worry, obsessive thought and too much conversation, not to mention the physical and emotional drain it takes in the moment. I was getting too worn down and stopped exercising- which is one of the best strategies to make me feel good! I made up for that by adding some food binge behavior into my day to day. Because I was tired, I wasn’t as good about getting the kids to bed on time and I ended up cutting my intimacy time short from my husband. I made that up by, you guessed it, adding more food into my day. What I’ve been doing is systematically ditching my positive, affirming life skills and returning to the one tried-and-true-always-works-and-fixes-everything strategy of stuffing my face. Not good.
But it was so good to have had the reflection time that allowed me to see myself a little more clearly. It’s also good to realize that just by losing weight, my body is in a stress mode and I’ve taken one of my primary coping tools (binging) away from myself. I have to acknowledge that it has been really hard to do that and I’ve made remarkable progress. I have to give myself credit for that. But I also need to use that as motivation for moving forward. Look how happy I am! Look how good I feel! Look how healthy I am now! Look how active I can be! That’s all because I’ve changed out the negative behaviors for ones that build me up and make me into a strong, vital woman. The binging makes me feel tired and negative and has the exact opposite effect, long term, than I’m seeking.
My goal is to eliminate the binge behavior. I feel like the first step in doing that is actually acknowledging that I actually have an issue with binging. It wasn’t until I ‘met’ Katie from Runs For Cookies that I actually realized I had those same behaviors that she described as binging. I used to think that a binge every once in a while wasn’t a big deal, so a weekend of pizza, chips and donuts wasn’t a great sacrifice for me. Now I know, though, that it is a huge deal; I can gain 5-15 pounds in a 2-5 day span. My weight wasn’t gained through day to day bad eating habits, I gained through a series of binges over many years.
My job now is to keep it reigned in every day forever and ever amen, hallelujah.
It will be that easy.
Not!
But I’m up for the challenge. :)

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Spring Break Week Review

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I’ve made no secret of my struggle over the past few weeks. Exercise has been hard, eating has been hard… I’ve just been finding the whole determination thing harder than it was last spring. I know that part of that is lacking the enthusiasm for a new project, being bored of losing weight and burnt out on counting calories. It just gets exhausting to be this vigilant, know what I mean?
I’m glad to say that over this break I have met my goals, pretty much. I’m at the peak of PMS, so I don’t have a realistic weigh-in scale report to share (I have 3-7 pound weight fluctuations at this time that really mess with me, so I try to stay off the scale during the last week or so of my cycle), but I am tremendously pleased to report that I exercised like a beast this break. I did not slack a single day. Yes, two of those days only got a brisk walk or hike in, but the other seven days were running days. I ran between 2- 4.5 miles per day. I wanted to get solid exercise habits under my belt and knock my insecure doubting self to the curb. Believe it or not, I began to doubt that I actually even could be a runner anymore- it was wonderful to relegate that negative thought to the garbage can it belonged in. I’m feeling a pretty solid return to my good habits on Monday, when I return to school. I feel ready to, literally, hit the ground running.

Tulips

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Yesterday we headed north to see the tulips in Skagit Valley, to play on the beach and just roll around in the sun and love together. It was a great day. I was neither super active (it was sauntering around the tulip field and the hiking portion totaled .5 miles) nor was I terribly strict with my diet (pizza, pretzels, a million almonds, a zillion goldfish crackers and a mere two apple slices), but it was a perfect day, nonetheless.
I kept reflecting, while I was up there, that it was this same journey, last year at this time, was when I first realized the impact my inactivity had had on my family. It was the first time I felt sure enough on my feet and had faith in my endurance to attempt a 1/4 mile hike down to the beach and back. I remember being apprehensive about the return hike up the hill as I walked down, and shocked that it was no big deal when we finally ascended. It was the first time I saw, firsthand, the fruits of my efforts. It’s no coincidence that we were there again, when I’ve been feeling less determined, certainly less than last year. It was fun to retrace my steps and remember the strength I discovered last year.

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Today we were back at it. We hit the streets as soon as we dropped the second kiddo off at school. I had a great eating day and am feeling pretty solid. We ran 2.8 miles today and did the hill again for a total of 3.8 miles. I also attempted a pull up. That was laughable. However, I did learn that I can actually support my own weight when I am hanging! In fact, I was hanging AND swinging and let go and jumped like a monkey. I felt pretty tough!>

Hitting my Stride

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Today I hit my stride for the first time in a long time. Today didn’t feel like a victory necessarily (ok, well, maybe a little bit), today felt like a return to solid eating habits and exercise patterns.
I realized early on in the day that we had a full schedule, so I headed out around 10:AM for my run. I felt most proud today when I came around the bend to, what I had planned to be, the final stretch of my run. Until that point I was just on a mission to complete what I call ‘medium loop’, a 1.4 mile route that is the two street blocks inclusive of my own home. Anyhow, as I was rounding to the home stretch, I felt my body relax into the run, my oxygen exchange was good, and I started thinking about how much I really like longer runs because they make my calorie margin wider. I decided to continue running and added a mile by way of ‘small loop’, running around the immediate block my house is on. My miles were in the tens and elevens, but it felt so good to simply enjoy running again. I remembered, again, not the misery, but the high.
I’m so glad I decided to create my own, personal boot camp. I’m feeling it, in the best way!
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I spent the rest of the day with my kids’ school- eating lunch with my daughter in her class, volunteering in my son’s class, attending track practice and a music performance. It was a full day and it was really nice to spend some time in each of my kids’ classes. It’s interesting to get a feel for the places where they spend their days. :)
And now, for stranger topics…

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Spring Break Boot Camp

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So far, I’M DOING IT!
I wanted to start running more. Well, today I ran three miles and walked one mile-that last one was up a huge hill. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I went out with the dog and the kids later for another mile!
Yesterday I brought my best too! I ran three and walked one then, too, hill and all. I’m doing it! I’m running and walking and being all active again and it feels good to realize that I still can. I’m crazy sore, my knees hurt, my hips hurt and my thighs are burning, but all in the best possible ways. I’m sore and it hurts so good! I wanted to kind of boot camp my booty back into gear, and it seems like it’s working so far! Color me happy.
And check this out:
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That’s right! I journaled my food today! I know, I’m such a good kid, right?!?! I discovered that I’ve been going waaaay over my calorie limits because I haven’t been exercising. No wonder I weigh, gulp, 211 right now. I’ve been eating like I’ve been exercising 900 calories of energy out every day when, truth be told, I’ve been binge watching The Office on Netflix and only making about 6000 steps per day.
I’m glad I decided to journal, too, as it made me very thoughtful all day. I was hyper aware of everything I put in my mouth because I was going to have to document it. I know that at this time last year I was almost obsessive about my intake so I had to back off on the journaling, but right now I think this is a really good thing. I think I’ll try to keep up with it all week in hopes that it will alter my habits for the better. Perhaps I should just make it regular habit for a while… Not a bad idea… Perhaps.
I’m feeling good. Strong again. It’s amazing what some extra sleep, a little exercise and a day of solid eating will do for a girl. Spring Break sure has done me good so far! :)

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Spring Break

Spring break started on Friday at 3:40. It was perfect timing. :). I looked like this right before I walked out the door (it was crazy hat day):

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I have been having a really hard time lately with food. I’m wanting to eat and eat and eat. I think I can objectively say, at this point, that I am an emotional eater and I’m addicted to food. Or at least I was. I’m feeling things over the past few days that I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s confusing, to say the least.
I never knew that I sought out a feeling of fullness when I am feeling sad. I literally seek out the feeling of a full tummy, like, full to the point where it just starts to feel too full. Just on the edge of uncomfortable, and once I get to that place I feel satisfied… And then I feel disappointed in myself.
So, needless to say, this, again, has not been a stellar week for me. I had binge behavior almost every night and it was difficult to say no to myself… So I didn’t say no to myself. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights, I found myself, swirling through the kitchen, seeking out things that we don’t have on our shelves. I wanted cake, ice cream, donuts, cookies, chips- anything other than the healthy stuff we keep around the house (Bradley does a good job of supporting me by keeping a clean {no junk food} house). Eventually I settled on some skittles we had left over from Jude’s birthday and lots of pop chips and came to the realization that I really can’t be downstairs after a certain point in the evening because I just want to graze the whole time. (We recently rearranged our rumpus room and we are hanging out in it a lot more, so having such ready access to the kitchen after dinner is a new thing for me.)
The good news? I am trying to be reasonable as I binge. While I’m definitely full of food, it is not really too many skittles and pop chips and is mostly tea and diet coke (which I had heretofore given up prior to this week). That said, the binge behavior really bothers me and I really don’t like feeling that lack of control over my food intake. Even this morning, I had a slice of pizza (homemade from last night) and after I ate it I was craving a slice of cake or something- which is bizarre in and of itself- so I ate some yogurt, but realistically I should have been done after the pizza. I didn’t need yogurt as well.
The hardest part about feeling like I’m failing as a dieter and exerciser is that I walk around feeling like a complete failure. A disgusting loser. I feel fat, jiggly and ugly, stupid, boring and, ultimately, like a huge disappointment to most people around me. All because I slipped on my body project. Intellectually I understand that this makes no sense, but it doesn’t change the way I feel about myself. When I look in the mirror I see myself 100 pounds ago- not the 207 pound girl who I have gotten to know lately.
I suppose I should just say that I need to get the diet back in control. That control makes me feel powerful, clean and like I’m doing this! I need to be using my determination strategies- you know- the ones I’m always talking about? Remembering that my destiny is mine to create, that ultimately this is my decision to make, that I am in control. I have the ability to not put things into my mouth that shouldn’t go there. I have the ability to be active anytime! I have the superpowers of Tamara Shazam! I just need to employ them more often.
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I’m grateful for Spring Break this week. I’m worn to a frazzle and, while weekends leave me rested and prepared to teach again the next week, I’m due for an extended healing period. I’m exhausted, emotionally drained and simply worn out. This will be a good week, indeed.
My plan is to get my exercise schedule going again in earnest. I’d like to work out every day this week, but we will see what actually happens.
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My plan when I started writing this post was to write about how I’m going to take a blog break. Really, though, I’m just avoiding my website because I’m not proud of myself right now. I want to write here when I’m being a powerful diet and exercise boss, not a weak, indecisive binger. The reality is, though, that writing and reflecting here is quite healing for me. Forcing myself to stop and write motivates me and confirms my thinking. I think that rather than writing less, I need to write more to maintain my focus and own my behavior a little more.

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I’m including this picture because this was my non-scale victory of the week. I took my students to a pioneer village this week and actually went on the horse and buggy ride! I never would have forced that horse to pull me around many pounds back! It was so fun to not worry about that. :)

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Spring Running

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We ran yesterday, then followed that up with a walk, then another walk. My daughter commented to me that we had a very exercisey day. My goal, when we headed out, was to just run. Lately I have been getting unnecessarily concerned about running long distances. If the distance is greater than about two miles it seems like I get worried about wearing out. My goal at the track yesterday was to intentionally lose track of how many times I went around, and it would seem that fate was on my side and my tracking app crashed not once, not twice but THREE TIMES! Blah!
At the end of it all I ended up running just a touch more than a 5K (according to my crashed app) at about ten minute miles. I was really happy to have made that distance and that time without thinking I was pushing too hard! I needed that to gain some confidence. After my spotty exercise record over the past few weeks, it was nice to prove to myself that I’ve still got it.
One of my favorite things that happened yesterday was that while we were at the track there was this group of 20-something year old men playing football. They had such zeal for being out on the field. Clearly they were enjoying the brisk, sunny, spring weather just like we were. For some reason I felt all proud of those guys. I know how hard it is to peel yourself off of the couch on a Sunday to go be active. They all did it and came together in the name of physical play and fun! It is so easy to submit to the couch and be lazy, but there we all were, at the track on a Sunday.
Furthermore, in non-scale victories, it was the first time I felt like I belonged at the track. I didn’t feel ashamed, like I was going to slow or that my ass jiggled to much. I didn’t feel like those guys were going to mock me or think about the fat, forty-something running around the track. I felt like I brought my own, did my thing, and didn’t really think about them. Afterwards, Bradley apologized that he left me and ran a few laps all fast and speedy style, leaving me to be possibly overcome with insecurities… But it wasn’t even a concern for me this time. What a great feeling!
That said, I’ve always believed I belonged at the track, intellectually. I just used to over-worry and over-think what others might have been thinking about me. It was a very real fear for a very silly non-concern.

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Derpy run face pic of the day. I love to mock these, but secretly (you know, the secret is held between me and the entire internet, but we’ll go ahead and call it a ‘secret’, m’kay?) I’m proud that I even have a derpy run face at all. Those flared nostrils and open mouth? They just tell the world that I’m breathing hard because I’m working hard. If I were a dog, I would be panting. My red cheeks, forehead, chin, neck and entire body just show that my blood is coursing madly through my system, oxygenating my cells, driven by my healthy heart. I love my derpy run face pics!
But even still…
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It’s hard to let the derpy face stand alone. I took this today while we were on an observation at a different school. I took pictures of charts, graphs… and myself one time too! >

The Week in Review- Hard

I feel like every time I write here lately I’m complaining about how hard my life is, how hard my job is, how hard it is to stay determined to lose weight… The result is that I find myself avoiding writing so that I’m not such a Debbie Downer.
I like TED Talks, it’s true. I’m one of those people. I know they can be contrived and a little bit too much to deal with sometimes… That said, I don’t know about you, but I sincerely appreciate self reflective and thoughtful people. I like to surround myself with people who have active brains, who still think they can impact this world positively, who are thinking of ways to live life more completely, so I love the TED Talks and frequently go down a TED Talk rabbit hole. It never hurts to turn away from modern cynicism and intentionally look toward something positive, so here; watch this:

I watched this TED Talk right when it first came out in October, and one thing continues to stick with me- that hard is not necessarily a relative term. The talk is all about coming out of the closet. While, indeed, Ash Beckam is a gay woman who came out of a gay closet, she is using the closet as a broader metaphor for any hard conversation we need to have- be it coming out of the closet as a gay person, telling your wife you have just cheated on her, explaining to your five year old about an impending divorce or explaining why you are filing for bankruptcy. All of those are hard things to face and explain. At about the 3:30 mark, Beckam, says, “Hard is not relative, hard is hard.” She goes on to say that, “We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else’s hard to make us feel better or worse about our closets, and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard.”
That sticks with me. Throughout my life I have come in contact with people who, when I say I had a hard day, immediately knock me down by telling me that I don’t know what hard is. That I’m too young/privileged/inexperienced to understand what hard means. I liked that Beckam gave my hard credit. Life is hard, and when we are in the thick of it, hard is hard. Regardless of anybody’s perspective on the degrees of hard.
My life is privileged- I never want to imply that I believe anything other than that. But I also work really hard- at my job, in my marriage, as a mom, as a human- and sometimes those many hard hats get overwhelming. I never want to inconvenience anyone by complaining. I would prefer to put a truth on my website that showed me being ridiculously happy and successful- and I am most the time, but lately things have been hard and I can’t hide that away.
I committed to writing here for accountability purposes. I originally thought that meant surface stuff like, mileage and poundage celebrations, but this project has been as much about internal, emotional changes as about physical, nutritional and activity level changes. Those have been the hardest ones to contend with. I guess I’m saying I have to talk about the hard stuff. I have to speak to the hard, or else I’m not honoring this process of owning who I am to myself and the changes I am trying to make.
Speaking of my hard…
Right now I am in a challenging spot. I’m having a really hard time, nutritionally. Basically, I am eating as though I’m maintaining a high level of activity. I’m not terrible about workouts, but I can totally see why I’m not losing any weight. My skin is shrinking up beautifully, but I’m eating way too much of the wrong foods lately. I need to get that in control. My goal this week is to journal three times to inspire a return to smart food choices choices and reasonable portion sizes. I’ve started doing that thing again where I choose to eat a bag of pop chips that, while yummy, just trigger a deeper need for munchies since they don’t provide a whole lot of nutrition. I need to eat whole foods and get back on track.
Exercise this week was seriously compromised by a monsoon. I was supposed to run outside three times. On Monday it was gorgeous! Then it rained for the rest of the week. I’m from Seattle, so the rain doesn’t phase me that much, but this has been ridiculous. It’s like that stupid, fakey rain that falls in movies and renders the characters completely soaked in about thirty seconds kind of rain- that is what we are having all the time lately. I only got two runs in this week, not three, but I did get on the elliptical twice, as well, took two walks and did weights three times. While I didn’t meet my goals, necessarily, I feel like I made progress towards doing better. This week, my goal is to hit solid cardio (140-159 BPM) four times and weights three.
So, yeah, I’m in a hard spot in my version of life right now. I’m happy to report, however, that change is still underfoot. I’m taking control and attempting to make some pretty significant shifts in my life to insure a more successful future- both short range and long term across the board. Life has been hard lately, but I feel like the momentum is shifting and I’m swing in back to some balance. Thanks for sticking with me through the rough patches. :)

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After the birthday party we made the rumpus room into a more user-friendly space by moving our couch and putting the elliptical and bike in the middle. It looks like a gym, but we are in there all the time now. It looks a little weird, and definitely needs some tweaking, but I like it!
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NKOTB are playing four dates in July in Vegas. I would do things to go to one of those shows. I’m not sure what those things are, but none of them, sadly, involve paying 600.00 for decent tickets after I’ve already paid to fly there, stay in a hotel and be on vacation for the duration. Booooo. Maybe 2015.>