Author Archives: YSP

Healthy is Awful

You might hate it. It might never get easier. You might despise every second of it. You might spend every day wishing you didn’t have to. You might hate every bite of that salad, and begrudge every drop of sweat.

It gets easier.

But sometimes it doesn’t.

It will become a habit.

And you may still fight it every single day.

You might never, ever enjoy a salad instead of a burger. You might never want to get up early and get sweaty.

And by you, I mean me.

And maybe…maybe that’s ok. Maybe by embracing that it’s just always going to be a struggle, it won’t feel so bad.

They say there’s glory in the finish, but what about the strength it takes to begin…again.*

If I keep expecting it to get easier and it never does, then I just feel like a constant failure. If I accept that it’s always, always going to suck and it keeps sucking…at least I knew it. And if I’m wrong and somewhere down the line it gets better, that’s just a bonus.

Their words and thoughts were so clear, they became real. By soaking their thoughts, they brought the world into existence.**

Maybe? Maybe not. But in any case, it’s time to settle in. It’s time to do the work, not because it’s so much fun or so very fulfilling, but because it’s worth doing.

———————————————————————

*Under Armour commercial
**Crash Course Mythology #2 – Mayan Creation Myth

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Return of the Blog

I haven’t blogged since August of 2016. I’m still not sure where to start, what I’m trying to say here, or if I’ll get back to blogging regularly anytime soon.

But here I am. I’m here to…collect my thoughts. Lay out my intentions. Try to tease out the thread that leads me back to what matters most for me. The best way for me to start, I think, is with the highlights of where I’ve been.

Since August, I had a full hysterectomy. I spent some time recovering, as I needed to, but in there somewhere I lost my mojo. My hormones are still not 100% settled, so I consistently struggle with being too tired and too emotional in one way or another. I’m working on it.

In January, prompted I’m sure by the New Year’s Resolution idea, I started thinking hard about getting back to the things that make me feel balanced. I set some non-specific goals:

2017
Camp Gladiator for my body.
Yoga for my soul.
Healthy food for my energy levels.
Daily writing for my spirit.
Reading for my mind.
Weekly walks for my heart.
Snuggles for my joy.
Activism for my piece of mind.

Around the same time, thanks to the husband’s awesome gift of annual Disney passes, I wanted to write a blog about what I felt like Disney was giving me.

How Disney Gave Me Back Myself
Out of shape, out of touch, feeling sad. Not enough time with family.

Lots of Joy, tons of walking, lots of smiles and laughter. Remembered movement can be fun, what my body is capable of. Love being outside. It’s cool to be joyous, be a kid.

I never did get around to writing that blog. Every time I sat down to try to write it, I felt like I was faking. I wasn’t making progress. I wasn’t making healthier choices. I loved being at Disney, I love it every time we go. But despite all the joy it brings me, it isn’t carrying over to the rest of my life. So I never wrote the blog, because what could I say? Hey, I found a place that fills me with joy and it still didn’t give me a reason to get healthy?

So a few weeks went by. I did nothing. I barely went to my previously beloved bootcamp. And then…

I’m at my heaviest weight ever. Probably about 250, but I don’t know for sure and I don’t want to know. I do a really good job of pretending it doesn’t bother me, but it does. But that’s another story for another time. I’m actually writing about something more practical. Last night I was stretching and felt a sting on my lower belly, where my belly fat roll meets my torso underneath, right at the fold. Now it’s stinging and seems to be seeping a little blood. I think it’s just a skin tear, and doesn’t hurt a ton or smell bad or itch or anything…but this has never happened to me before. I’m crying in the work bathroom. This is making me feel like shit. In one day I’ve gone from feeling hopeful to feeling disgusting. Intellectually I know it’s the wrong way to feel, but here I am.

I felt so…embarrassed? Ashamed? I hate this feeling.

It’s brutal. My husband, who I only get to see on the weekends, is like “hey baby” and I’m all, “excuse me, my fat roll is bleeding.” I just…ugh.

In some ways, the worst part of this whole fucking thing is feeling like I can’t talk about it. I’ve made such a big damned deal out of accepting my body and being fine with whatever size, and now I feel trapped…like if I say something negative about my fat body, I’m somehow going back on those things (that I truly believe to be true). If I’m miserable with my fat roll, I can’t say that without sounding like I think fat is bad. I feel stuck and so dark right now, and I’m extra upset about it because I had this great, hopeful, motivated blog post planned. I was outlining it in my head yesterday, and then this happened last night and I’m so derailed. And of course, I’ve eaten SO much better today, but it’s out of shame.

That was the end of January, and I decided February would be different. Because it needed to be. And…it wasn’t. I barely exercised except for our awesome Disney weekends. I ate terribly, brutally, with intention to harm. I made myself sick from food for the first time in a very long time.

Now it’s March. I want to say that everything will be different, that this is the month I’ll turn things around. That I’ll find the time to do Couch to 5K with my kid and get back to 3x/wk bootcamps and start eating foods that make me happy and balanced and healthy. That I’ll get back to daily (or atleast weekly) yoga and meditation. But the truth? I just don’t know, and I’m scared to even try to commit to something.

So that’s where I’m at right now. There it is. I don’t know what to do with it, but I needed to get it out.

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Have To/Get To: A Perspective Shift

(As inspired by my favorite parenting role model, Carla.)
 
I have to….
 
I get to…
 
It’s a pretty different sentiment, and one I think I might be missing when it comes to a lot of what I do in the day. So it’s time for a massive reframe that focuses on everything I have to be grateful for.
 
I have to go to work.
I GET to go to a job I love, with people I enjoy working with and learning from, and I get to do it all in an environment where I’m comfortable, supported, and challenged.
 
I have to get so much done every day.
I GET to live a life full of people who trust me to get things done, and done well. And I get to benefit from not only their trust, but their appreciation and praise. Even better, I get to do it all with the help of a tiny but powerful team of people – both at work and at home – who make sure it’s always awesome.
 
I have to get up early.
I GET to wake up in a safe, warm home, cuddle a kid I adore, and get into my fully functional car to get us both where we need to go. And half the time I get to stop for coffee, which is a considerable luxury no matter how you look at it.
 
I have to go to meetings at the kid’s school, and chase people down to get her the education I need.
I GET to be involved in my kid’s education, to advocate for what’s best for her, and take advantage of staff and faculty who want what’s best for her as long as I’m engaged in helping to make it happen. I get to stay on top of what’s happening in her school days, and understand better every day what she needs most, and how I can help be the one to get it for her.
 
I have to work out.
I GET to spend a portion of my hard-earned money on a fun, supportive bootcamp where people genuinely care about how I’m doing and want me to succeed. I get to sweat out my frustrations a few times a week, because I have an incredible support system that helps make it happen, from friends to workout with me to an incomparably awesome mom who watches the kid.
 
I have to eat better.
I GET to focus on my health and happiness, to consume foods that make me feel my best and fuel my best intentions for my long-term health. I get to shop for things I like, spend time making them with care, and share them with people who share my goals. I get to make choices about what I eat, where it comes from, and how I prepare it, instead of being forced into less healthful decisions just because my financial, social, or resource situation dictates those things for me.
 
I have to spend money on my old car.
I GET to benefit from a car I didn’t have to pay a dime for, that continues to fairly reliably get me where I’m going, whenever I need it to.
 
I have to spend time and effort on cleaning the house, putting away the dishes, doing laundry etc…at the end of a busy day, when I’m tired and worn out.
I GET to live in a house with all of these comparative luxuries, and I get to provide them for my family. I get to wear clothes that are nice enough, eat off of dishes I bought for myself, and surround myself with a living space where I’m both safe and comfortable.
 
I have to handle everything, all the time, because my husband travels during the week.
This one needs more than just a reframe because it’s not entirely true, although it is something I find myself thinking a lot. I don’t have to handle everything alone. See aforementioned support system. But still, the reframe is…I GET to spend more time with my daughter than I’d be able to otherwise, and we both get to spend more time with my local family. I get to work a job that allows me some measure of flexibility to put my family first when I need to. And I get to shape the way I spend my free time on work days based only on what I want and need. I get to be the one she has deep conversations with, the one she cuddles with at night, the one she regales with school-day stories. I get to be the one to help her with her homework, to read her bedtime stories, and to watch Cupcake Wars with her while we eat dinner.
 
So the truth? I have so very, very much to be happy about. I’ve gotten into a rut of thinking about all that I “must” do lately, and it’s long past time I reframe it all to consider everything I get to do.

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Practice, Presence, Peace

Last weekend I walked twelve miles with joy. I watched stories of human ingenuity, triumph over struggle, and fulfillment of lifelong dreams. I saw how stars are born and thought about how very big and very small we all are.

I stressed about wearing shorts, wore them anyway, and then didn’t realize until the end of the day that I DIDN’T spend the day worrying about my legs; in fact, I never thought of them at all.

And then I watched my little girl. I saw her very much she still adores herself, how she embraces her body and brain as one fantastic package. I watched her check herself out in a mirror, and declare that she knew she looked cute because she’d seen a picture I took.

I thought about myself. About how far away I am from that kind of love. And about how much I stand to gain from shifting my mindset…how much closer I could be to living a shining life if I could make the jump.

So what happened? I promised myself that for just ONE day, I’d try to love myself just as I am, in all my glory, with absolute acceptance. That day became two, and then three. I slept more. I worked out more. I ate more vegetables. I felt calmer, slept better, and spent more time coloring. I drew an adorable donut in my bullet journal. Things felt manageable again for the first time in a long time.

I still went to work, came home, picked up the kid, went to swim lessons…everything in my life was functionally the same, but it began to feel ever-so-slightly different. Moment by moment, the layers of stress and fatigue and sadness began to lift, to peel, to crack and flake away in the light of genuine self-love. I’m not quite out of the woods here, but at the midpoint of day 3, I started feeling more at peace than I’ve felt in months. I went back to my beloved Camp Gladiator twice last week, and then again yesterday (woohoo – holiday workout) and am feeling more and more like I can get this done.

It’s a conscious effort every day, sometimes every moment, not to let this mindset slip. I start to fidget, to chafe under the feather-light touch of unaccustomed ease. I spiral out into worry – how will I keep this up, when will it end, what will I do? And then I make the conscious choice to stop, to breathe, to write or color or just close my eyes, and the feeling begins to pass.

The gentle joy ebbs and flows, sometimes barely whispering at the edges of my awareness and other times entirely overtaking me for a moment – a quick, breathless moment of bliss uninterrupted.

I’d like to hang on to that. And so I move forward, spending moments where I need them. Taking little breaks to sketch out a cute coffee cup or try out an alphabet in a new handwriting style. Disappearing for a moment to read a few paragraphs or do some under-the-radar office yoga. Allowing a “no” when a default, because-I-should “yes” is on the tip of my tongue. Saying YES when it feels right.

I’m signed up for (and starting today) a gorgeous 8-week challenge that will simultaneously get me back to a regular yoga practice and help me come back to a place of intuitive eating and movement. Join me if you’d like. The more support we all have, the better we do.

It’s such a gentle process, so unlike the full on, semi-hostile takeovers of past attempts at change. It fills me with a warm anticipation of things to come and makes me smile.

This. Life could be like this.

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The Cake is A Lie

the_cake_is_a_lie_515The cake is a lie. It isn’t even cake. It’s a vehicle to further solidify the truth I have created for myself right now, which is that I’m beyond saving. I’m too far gone. I’ve lost all of my motivation, slipped far from my health and fitness goals, and so now this is what I deserve. I deserve to eat a huge piece of cake, not because I’ll enjoy it but because the sugar will make me sluggish, and I’m not even that hungry, and it’s there so I might as well eat some, since that’s what I do.

And so I go to bed. Another day with too much sugar and not enough movement. Another night I’ve pushed myself to exhaustion before collapsing into bed to lie awake.

It’s become clear that my own well-being isn’t enough to motivate me out of this place. Not right now. And so instead, I’ll do it for her. Because I want to keep letting her spend one night a week in my bed, letting her believe it’s an indulgence for her when it’s just as much a treat for me. Because I want to feel alive and exhilarated and strong through every moment I get to spend with this fantastic kid. Because I want to have the energy to give her the attention she deserves in the precious few hours I get with her during the week. Because I want to keep up with her, challenge her, and teach her to own her own power.

20160523_174544For her, I’ll sleep more. I’ll hydrate more, move more, stretch more. I’ll do more yoga and meditation. I’ll stop mindlessly eating for punishment, for guilt, for boredom and sadness and stress and frustration and social ease. I’ll be mindful, purposeful, and honoring of this one body I have, that I get to share with the most amazing soul to ever walk this earth.

For her, I’ll recommit to my yoga practice, which does my heart and soul so much good.

For her, I’ll go back to Camp Gladiator in June, as planned. I’m scared to go back, terrified of the heat and the difficulty and returning after two months off. I’m worried I won’t be able to do it, that I’m so unfit that I won’t be able to finish the first workout, that the frustration will keep me from going back more than once, that I won’t go back at all. But I will. I promised her I’d go back, and so I’ll go. Because it makes me happier, healthier, better prepared to face the world with m very best.

It won’t be easy. I’m in such a rough spot that it’s going to take near-constant recommitting to my goals. I need to be prepared for gentleness, for patience, and for extra focus on being aware and in the moment as much as possible. But I have to remember I haven’t completely run out of sparks. I did do a half-marathon on an exercise bike to earn my first Hogwarts Running Club medal. (It’s awesome.)

It’s time. Summer is coming. My incredible kid is GRADUATING FROM FIRST GRADE. We’ve got a busy, fun summer ahead of us before starting a whole new school year. We’re looking at maybe moving, in the same area, but to somewhere a little closer to her school or a little closer to my office while still in the school district. My career is really shaping up beautifully, with a job I enjoy and work I am proud of. It’s time.

So help me out. Tell me how you climb out of a funk, what you do to get back on track, and how you handle setbacks in that process.

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The Secret of Change

The secret of change…

The truth is that I’ve been thinking about change a lot lately. Specifically, that I think it’s time for one. I injured my tendon, which led to a month off from bootcamp to let it heal. In that month, it was my job to wait for the pain to fade, and then focus on daily yoga to help stretch out my tight, overworked body and let things begin to heal more fully.

And maybe that’s what my mind needed too. So the pain began to lessen, and…I got bronchitis. For the 4th time in the last 3 years. I am a bronchitis machine, it would seem. And so I didn’t do yoga, and I shouldn’t have. I listened to my body. I took time off. I slept. I hydrated. I rested as much and as often as possible.

Two weeks later, when the exhausting hacking cough finally abated, I was finally ready to return to yoga…only to discover the pain was back, but different this time. Sharper, lower, less severe but more insistent. So I went back to the doctor and…my tendon is healing nicely, but it turns out that some of the pain was thanks to a build up of uric acid that has formed a sizeable crystal on my heel.

I’m taking a medicine to dissolve the crystal, but as it’s dissolving the pain is much worse and any impact or weight bearing is rough.

So it looks like I’m out another month until the crystal is dissolved. I’m super bummed about it, but sticking with daily yoga and doing the workout Mike sent me a few times a week.

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7

Baby girl. You’re seven today.

Seven.

Not days, or weeks, or months, but seven whole years. And they’ve been such wonderful years. You’ve taught me about the world, ignited my inner science geek, and made everything brighter.

You’ve challenged me to be a better mother, and I’ve learned to fight for what you need most. Every day I learn more about how to raise a gifted, highly sensitive kid.

You make my world better. You see the world in a way that helps me remember that life is awesome. You’re endlessly curious, amazingly creative, and tender-hearted beyond compare.

Because of you, this year we’ve:
– gone to Kennedy Space Center
– read a million books
– become vegetarians
– walked a family 5K
– explored the Everglades
– met Chewbacca
– visited the train museum
– cosplayed at ComicCon

And so very much more. You continue to make our world a brighter place, and I’m so lucky to have you. You fill a place in m my heart no one else could fill.

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And That’s How We Became Vegetarians

Her face was already crumpling as she came up the sidewalk to meet me. We barely made it into the empty cafeteria before she fell into my arms, a sobbing bundle of gangly arms and bruised legs, smelling of sweat and playground dirt.

I held her close with one hand, signing her out of the after-care program with the other. She sobbed it out for a minute before the words finally came, in heaving, hiccuping stutters. “They killed it.”

Oh baby. What happened?

“The boys. They killed a saddleback caterpillar.”

Honey, I’m so sorry.

“They had a ball. The kept throwing it at him and he died.”

Oh baby. I’m so sorry. That’s so unkind. But I think maybe the caterpillar didn’t suffer. He probably got squished fast, and didn’t feel anything at all.

“No, mommy.” Heave. Sob. Sniffle. “They hit him in the back first, and he curled up. And then…”

A shuddering lower lip. Eyes brimming over with barely controlled tears.

“They just kept throwing it.”

Oh, my love. I’m so sorry, baby.

“I told them to stop.”

I know you did, baby. That was a really good thing to do. Thank you for being so brave.

She cried a little more, the heaving slowing down and her breathing settling back to normal.

“Penny says that when she’s President, she’ll pass a law that no one can ever hurt animals.” She’s barely breaking a whisper against my shoulder now.

That would be nice, huh baby?

She nods, and then is quiet for a while.

“Mama, we have to kill animals to eat them.”

Yes baby. But when we do, it’s much kinder. They don’t get squished. They aren’t in pain.

“I don’t think I want to eat them anymore.”

Okay baby. Let’s be vegetarians for a while.

Finally, her tears began to dry and her little spirit lifted a little. By the time we got in the car, she’d moved on to a much lighter discussion of how anyone could be so awful, and why the boys didn’t make any sense to her. And that she wasn’t sure she would permanently stop eating bacon. (#iknowright)

So for now, we’re trying it out. Meat-free until she decides otherwise. And I know I could “cheat” and eat meat at work, but then I’d have to tell her. I tell her everything, and I promised her I’d do this with her. I’ll be packing pbj or cheese tortillas for her lunch every day so that she has a meatless entree option, and we’ll be talking about how she’s feeling, what she’s thinking…

I’ve never seen her take anything so hard. My sweet, tender-hearted, fragile little bean.

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Adventures in Achilles Tendonitis

Last Friday, I finally went to the doctor after a super painful tearing feeling in my heel left me with consistent foot pain. Per the podiatrist, I have a small tear in my Achilles tendon, a whole lot of swelling, and something that’s probably a bone spur but could be a crystal built up from too much uric acid.

The treatment? Rest. Ice. A blood test to determine the answer to the spur/crystal debate. A corticosteroid to decrease the inflammation and give things a chance to heal. And, once the pain passes, regular yoga to keep things loose, warm, and stretched out. Oh, and a doctor’s order to stop wearing cheap, unsupportive shoes.

What caused it? Increased bootcamp and running alongside nearly no yoga. Age. Bad luck. All of the above and a sprinkle of who knows.

What am I doing? Well…not what I should. Since Friday I’ve done no yoga. I didn’t pick up my steroid until today. I went to the zoo on Sunday and walked all over the place, even after my foot started hurting. I’ve been using cold packs at night, and wearing braces or compression socks. I got supportive shoes for work. The things I’m doing right are helping, but they aren’t outpacing the things I’m doing wrong.

So I’m committing to doing what my body needs. I’m taking the month off from bootcamp, resting and wrapping as needed. I’m wearing good shoes with braces all the time. I start my steroid tomorrow, and will call to schedule my blood test. I’ll ask for orthotics when I go back to the podiatrist next week. I’ll take my medicine like a pro, and once the pain passes I’ll stretch like I should.

It turns out I’m a terrible patient, and awfully stubborn. I don’t like not being able to do what I want, feeling weak, or being limited. BUT it’s time to do the right thing so I can heal completely, or I’ll end up even more injured than before.

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In Which I Explain Catcalling to my Kid

Last week the kid had a dentist appointment, which meant we were done with work and school a little earlier than usual. Left with a couple of extra hours in the day, we headed to the library to return some books and pick out a few more. At which point I found myself in the decidedly irritating position of having to explain catcalling to my six year old.

A group of 20-something guys, 2 or 3 of them, were hanging out in the library parking lot smoking. Whether it was that or something else that set me a little on edge, I don’t know. But the moment I got out of the car it started.

Hey, beautiful.

Smile for me, pretty.

Hey, miss thing.

Hello? Come on mama.

I ignored it, wrapped her in my arms, and carried her into the library. Which isn’t something I’d normally do, but I already didn’t feel safe I guess. We got all the way through the doors before she said anything. She’s a perceptive kid.

Why were they saying that stuff, Mommy? Why didn’t they stop when you didn’t answer them? Why do they think you need to smile?

And there it was. Me, standing in a public library children’s section, explaining catcalling to my daughter. Explaining that it’s not about attraction or kindness, but about power. Explaining that men who can’t or won’t pick up on the cues that you’re uncomfortable are, for better or worse, something we have to be afraid of. Explaining that it’s happened to me for most of my life.

Will boys say things to me too like that?

Yes, honey. Probably.

Should I ignore them?

Mommy? What if they get angry because I won’t answer them?

What if they do? I had to admit it was a possibility. I told her I’ve generally had decent luck with ignoring catcalls, that it’s more than once brought on an onslaught of insults but I’ve been lucky enough to never come to harm.

Find a safe place, I told her. Go into a business. Stay where people are. Get on the phone and call the cops. Call me. Make noise. Be seen.

Protect yourself. You aren’t a prize to be won, an object to be controlled. You don’t owe anyone anything. You don’t owe strangers a smile, and you don’t have to be “polite” or make other people happy, particularly when they’re busy making you uncomfortable.

It was a necessary conversation, I guess, but one I never thought I’d be having with my elementary schooler. I guess it’s good that I did. She hasn’t talked about it again since. She needs to sit with things for a while. I’ll be interested to see, in a few days or weeks, what bubbles up.

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