Category Archives: Jubilant January

Cheer Me Up (+ a GIVEAWAY)

We said goodbye to our pup of 16 years on Wednesday and, honestly, I’m still in the grieving phase. So, to cheer myself up a little bit, I wanted to talk about some of the things that are making me feel really happy right now.

StarburstCabooseSoybu – I’m on a mission to find incredible, easy to wear, doesn’t break the bank workout clothing. So when I got the chance to review some Soybu gear thanks to getting to know them at FitBloggin last year, I jumped at the chance. And you guys? It’s amazing. The Starburst Tank is insanely comfortable and looks incredible on, and the Killer Caboose pants might actually be dangerous! Both of them move beautifully for yoga, and breathe well enough for outdoor bootcamp. So in love.

Want your own Killer Caboose pants? Leave a comment after you complete each step! Every comment is an entry.

  1. Follow Soybu on Facebook
  2. …on Twitter
  3. …and on Instagram.
  4. Join the Soybu mailing list  (and get a 25% off coupon when you do!)
  5. Tell me in a new comment what you want most out of your workout gear

I’ll choose a winner by next weekend!!!

20160101_135606St Ives – I got some amazing St Ives stuff from a recent Influenster box, and I am LOVING it. I used to rock the old school apricot scrub when I was in high school, and I switched away from it for a LONG time. Now that the oatmeal scrub is hanging out in my bathroom, and it smells amazing, I figured I’d give it a go. I’m SO glad that I did. It’s great for getting rid of dead skin without being harsh on my face. They also sent an awesome citrus bodywash and pear lotion that are equally incredible.

Camp Gladiator – I can’t say enough about how Camp Gladiator has given me back a love for challenging myself physically, and the camaraderie is unmatched. Trainers check in on me, other campers friend me and add their support to mine. People encourage each other, no one is out there to judge anyone, and I’m FIRED UP. I hate missing it, and even when it’s incredibly tough and I am DYING out there, I love it. I’m SO glad I found it. You should try it if it’s near you. Check out the locations here.

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The Year of the Body

I’m tired. Tired of not sleeping well, of too many stomach aches, of not enough energy.

But you know what else I’m tired of? I’m tired of looking at this body of mine with hate or anger or disappointment or, on the worst days, disgust.

This body. It does headstands and upward bow and lizard pose. It takes me where I want to go every day, carried me 13.1 miles without giving up, and it gave me my awesome kid.

It’s squishy and jiggly and huggable. It’s strong in places and weak in others. It’s bigger than many, smaller than lots, rounder than some, straighter than others. It more flexible than most.

This is the year I let this body come into its own. I gave up the diets and the weigh-ins and the focus on weight loss. I focused more on movement I love. And I made huge progress, but only now do I feel like I’m coming out of the fog of more than twenty years of feeling too big and knowing a diet was the answer, of feeling shame and fear and hurt when my willpower gave out, when I failed, when I wasn’t enough.

Turns out it takes a while to find your way out of that forest. I’m lucky to have found some pretty incredible guides along the way. I have Erin Motz and Anna Guest-Jelley to teach me the power of yoga in terms of knowing my own strength and remembering that I love my body. I have Ragen Chastain and my Fit Fatty friends to remind me that my body is worthy of love and respect, and that moving it in ways I adore is well worth my time. Tess Munster’s Eff Your Beauty Standards helped me remember that size is not a determination of beauty, and Weightless gave me anchors to help keep my self-love journey going.

So this is the year I make room for this body to be heard, to take up the space it needs without shame, to move with joy and abandon, to slough off the expectations of others. This is the year I explore some of the deep stuff yoga has brought up lately. For starters, I was doing flamingo pose today. Even in flamingo, which felt nice on my lower back, binds are not my friend. I’m wondering where to start working through that, and if there isn’t some deep reflection in there about why my body is so willing to bend and flex but resists binds at every turn.

Exercise is still linked to weight loss in my head. I’ve spent nearly two years now moving purposefully away from weight loss as a goal, and it’s done wonderful things for my head and heart. And yet here I sit at 230#, nearly the heaviest I’ve ever been, and I don’t know what that means for me. I don’t feel comfortable in my body, but I didn’t when I was smaller either.

Some days I believe my size doesn’t matter if my habits are healthy, and other days I get scared that every ache or issue is a sign of how bad my weight is for me. Lately I’ve been having what I’m fairly certain is sciatic nerve pain, and I worried and wondered about whether it was because of my weight, which just made me feel guilty and awful.

It’s impossible to get an objective answer. There’s sound science backing both sides, smart people in both camps. I try to leave it all by the wayside and just do the things that make me feel good…but food is still an issue, and I still hate to exercise.

I stress eat. I watch tv to unwind. I walk, meditate, do yoga. Sometimes I manage some strength training.

I want to feel good in my body and proud of my choices. And the thing is that sometimes I really do. Other times I journal at midnight because I feel guilty for skipping yoga and eating cookies. I’ve come to the late night conclusion that I can’t fix anything by focusing only my weight. It’s proven to be unhealthy for my mental state, and nothing is worth that.

So let’s say the sciatica is because of my weight? Is getting on the scale and tracking my calories and beating myself up going to help? Past experience would suggest I’d, if anything, gain…so if weight is aggravating or causing the pain I’d just be making it worse. Instead I’ll keep focusing on what I know is good for me, the food and movement that makes me feel awesome, and I’ll remember to be gentle with my mind, body, and soul.

It’s time to be my own best friend again, and to allow the fragility that’s settled over me lately to just be, without poking at it or pushing it away.

Nothing changes without me (a poem for open, terrified hearts)

A poem from Danielle LaPorte

Sometimes, my heart is so open
I can’t tell
if it is a gaping wound
or a portal
for everything
that ever was and ever will be.
I’ve learned to love the beautiful terror of eternity,
and scenario planning how shattered I could be
if the dark things got tall
and if I fell backwards in my forgetting of the Light.
But you can’t fall backwards in Space,
You can only only only ever unfurl.
More than anything,
I’ve wed the certainty that nothing changes without me –
not coal becoming diamonds
not fertilizing eggs
or migration patterns
or medicine dreams.
And what I thought was a net cast to me from a higher God
is actually
strands of truth and filaments of desire
that I have
strung together with my own hands.
In precious encounters,
I tie what I know & want to you,
so we can ride the winds of wonder.

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Emergency Detox

Coffee vs. MilkIt’s 5am and I’m lying in bed, eyes barely open, thinking about my coffee. Coffee I’ve gotten into the habit of lacing with 2tbsp of store bought, sweetened creamer.

You see, I love coffee creamer. We had it in the house over Christmas because my family uses it, and it got me back into the habit. I’ve used it every morning since then.

Now, I’m sitting on my couch. It’s 6:08, and I’m nursing the last of my coffee…with no creamer. Just almond milk. All of a sudden. No planning. No announcement.

I’m going on an emergency sugar detox. Why emergency? Why now? I’m sick of feeling sick. Yesterday, after a great and satisfying breakfast and some healthy snacks, I had a bad bad bad food day. I drank too much coffee because I was exhausted. It was over sweetened because I was at work, where the coffee is awful. I also had a piece of delicious, whole wheat, chocolate cherry zucchini bread.

And then I had fried fish from a food truck for lunch, followed by a piece of pie I didn’t really want but ate because it was good and sweet and…there.

And last night, I thought I would die. I was so SO nauseated. Frankly, I have NO DOUBT that it was the fish. So why am I on a sugar detox after eating bad (or atleast way too greasy) fish? Where’s the connection?

Sugar makes me crazy. Sugar makes my brain short circuit. Sugar leads me to all kinds of unpleasant food decisions. The more sugar I eat, the more I want. It also dramatically increases my likelihood of choosing fatty, greasy, fried, processed foods too. And so, still queasy at the memory of last night’s stomach fiasco, I’m done.

I’m tapping out on the constant sugar consumption. It’s not going to be easy, but I’ve done it before and loved the results, so I’m jumping in this morning with no preparation. No creamer in my coffee. No sugary cereals. I’m on the fence about a few things, like peanut butter and that whole wheat zucchini bread. Instead of a full on NO SUGAR detox, this might begin (mostly because of that no preparation thing) as a “no trigger foods” detox – no candy, no chocolate, no baked goods, no fried things, no more expensive and never good enough food trucks.

In any case, I’m putting on the brakes. I’m slowing down from this whirlwind journey into darkness I’ve been hellbent on the last week or so. I’m done spiraling. I hate spiraling. I’m pulling it back up, exposing all my darkness to the light, and offering it up.

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6am

It’s 6am on a Sunday morning and my house is quiet as everyone else sleeps. I’ve been up since 5 to walk the dog, then surf random bits of the internet and drink a big huge mug of coffee.

And here, in the quiet darkness, I’m finding my head buzzing with thoughts and ideas, criticisms and pride. I’m a complicated place, it appears. Lately, mostly due to a potent cocktail of too little sleep and too much moodiness, I’ve been struggling with body image again.

Almost pincha...

Yesterday, this happened. That’s me, thrillingly close to a forearm stand. In fact, even as I was up there I could tell that most of my hesitation in getting that other foot off the wall was about nerves and not doubts about my strength.

In short, I’m actually very very awesome. It’s not perfect, and I’m not there yet…but I’m close and I’m excited about it. I felt awesome as I came down from the pose. I uploaded the pic, opened it in Instagram…and then all I could think was “I look so fat.” I’m UPSIDE DOWN, balancing on my forearms, and all I can think about is how my body looks. THAT is a problem.

Now again, I’m not in the most stable mindset thanks to hormones. I am at my most vulnerable when it comes to doubts about body image, and I hope to revisit this picture in a few days and wallow in pride instead of worrying about the shape or size of my body. That being said, and while I recognize I’m focusing on all the wrong things right now, I am trying to examine these feelings and find their use. More and more I’m seeing things lately that reinforce a barely understood thought that feelings we perceive as negative or unpleasant aren’t to be escaped. In fact, they’re often the ones we stand to learn the most from if we can just stop and sit with them a bit. So I’m trying to find a way to sit with this without it turning into an epic struggle over my weight or body size or shape. And in this morning’s moment of quiet, I thought it through.

Actually, I was in the midst of two simultaneous streams of thought. The first was that I ought to get a nice big journal for my vision “board” and make it a dream journal instead, since I’m really digging the idea of putting together the first few pages as generalized inspiration, and then creating new pages all throughout the year to revisit important reminders and to recenter me when I’m struggling. So maybe when I’m having an “I’m fat and awful” sort of day, I create a new page to help me work through those feelings, and then over time I’ll have created all sorts of resources for myself to reflect on the good when my head wants to produce nothing but storm clouds.

The second train of thought was around strength training. I’m trying to make this the month I return to Gorilla Workouts because they’re manageable. So then I was considering maybe doing more official strength training. Maybe I’d spend February with Shrink Sessions, then Beautiful Badass in March, then Jedi Training in May, and finally working up the nerve to tackle the vaguely terrifying Stronger workouts I found on Livestrong. Then I thought more about it and realized that a lot of these programs are more than just a month if you really follow their full plans, so I thought about putting together a (hopefully simple) calendar to work through them all back to back, just to see how it works.

I’m still not sure if that’s the right path, though I’m still considering it because… well, why not, right? No hard and fast rules to it, just trying a bunch of new things to see what sticks. In the end though, what it had me realizing is that something is still not sitting well for me. Something is still not feeling settled even in the midst of daily yoga and meditation and feeling increasingly in tune. In fact, maybe all that tuning in is what has me finally seeing that there’s a glaring area in which I continue to ignore my body’s most reverent requests.

I bet you’ve got a guess on this one, huh? Yep. It’s food. And it finally hit me when I was reading an email from Nia Shanks. Her one food “rule” was super simple. All she said? EAT REAL FOOD. And there it is. There is why I continue to struggle with making the right food choices, with cravings, with feeling satisfied with my food. Most of the time, I’m not eating real food. Due to a lot of things including being very busy and often tired, having a commute to deal with, and being somewhat more than occasionally overwhelmed by being Evi’s sole caretaker a lot of the time I’ve created a life built around a whole lot of packaged, processed, convenience type foods. And finally, finally I see it. I know all of the reasons why I make those choices, and they’re all super legitimate reasons, but I’m tired of letting them matter. I’m tired of making the easy choices when it means my body is worn out and I crave too much sugar and I struggle to provide better foods for Evi. I don’t feed her the way I feed myself. I would never. And there is the big, glowing issue. Why would I EVER feed myself in a way I wouldn’t condone for my beautiful, incredible little girl. Didn’t I just settle in to the reminder that a very similar little girl is still in me too? So isn’t it time I treat her with similar respect and care?

So there it is. It’s time for real food. I’m still trying to work out a game plan, a shopping list, something to help me make this shift. I intend to make it in baby steps, and to blog about it along the way. Let’s see how this works. 🙂

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Innocence and Joy

In front of the SpaceLab module...

We took Evi to the Hazy Center this weekend. It’s an extension of the national Air & Space Museum in DC.

She was immediately thrilled. She wore her space shirt, asked for a special hairdo, and was full of energy all the way to the museum. This kid loves some museum time, and the prospect of anything space related had her amped up.

When we got out of the car, she realized this, THIS! was the museum pictured in one of her books where a kid and his pet fly (no, really) go to learn about space. “Mom,” she says, nearly breathless. “This is where Fly Guy learns about Spaze!” He’s a fly, so he buzzes when he talks, so space=spaze. She hit the ground running and went nonstop for five hours. We only left because they closed the museum.

While she found the planes interesting and exciting, and she especially enjoyed walked on the different walkway levels to get different views, she was really just biding her time for the Space Hanger.

Awe as she discovers the sattelites.

There it was. SPACE! And spacesuits, and telescopes! Moon rovers, Mars landers, and THE SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY! I thought she might explode. She ran or skipped everywhere, constantly exclaiming that THIS was the Best. Day. EVERRRR!!!! I’ve never seen her so thrilled. She wanted to look at everything. And then we found the SpaceLab module. She explored the inside of it thanks to a computer screen and a virtual tour. She spent a good ten minutes looking at the inside of a relatively small space.

She declared then and there, and not for the first time, that she would be an astronaut. She’d walk on the moon and be a scientist in her spare time. We caved and bought her an expensive spacesuit from the gift shop because her excitement was contagious, and because I had a similar jacket as a kid that I was OBSESSED with and couldn’t help it. Plus…

Shuttle Commander Evi

Right? It was just too cute. She then proceeded to give her father and I important jobs and astronaut nicknames as we were, of course, her trusted crew. I feel pretty honored to be included, since not only does she pilot the ship, she also built it. “Well, not this one,” she clarifies, “but I will build my own ship at MIT.” She asked once what the best college for math and science was, and now she’s hellbent on attending MIT.

So now I’m Chief Science Officer and Aaron is Chief Robotics Officer. She nicknamed us Sci and Robo, and proceeded to give us detailed instructions on operating the robot arm, conducting experiments on “what is air?” and generally being a good crew, which included holding both of her hands as we walked back to the car.

She may never take that suit off.

So guess what? This isn’t actually a post about Evi. Well, obviously it is, but in the car on the way home, watching her fight off sleep as her endless energy finally waned, I remembered something. Something big.

That blissful little girl, caught up on a wave of wonder and joy? That little mind, amazed at the world around her, ready to take it all in? That precious innocence, that love of learning, that awe at all that the world has to teach her? I used to be that little girl. Big moment? I still am.

I am still that little girl too. I still have endless capacity for wonder and joy, when I stop and listen. It’s like Karen’s mirror exercise. As I watched my incredible daughter just soaking up everything, doing yoga in the observation tower, skipping down the halls, and giggling at her pink cowboy boots with the spacesuit (we assured her that would be a-okay with most astronauts), I realized I don’t treat myself like that little girl anymore. At some point in this growing up process, I stopped paying attention to her. I stopped making room for that innocence, that wonder. I think I’d started to believe it was gone, that growing up meant I’d lost that innocence somewhere along the way, dropped it by the roadside of this journey to “adult.”

I don’t believe that anymore, and I have my daughter to thank for it. By watching her take in the world around her, I catch glimpses of the way the world seemed to me at the same age, and in doing that I begin to reconnect with the excited, awestruck, eager little girl I still am.

So what does that mean? I’m still not sure. It means I’m being mindful of joy. It means I’m making room for wonder. It means I’m seeking out ways to learn new things, many of them fueled by Evi’s questions about life, the Universe, and everything. It means I’m allowing myself to dream, to get excited about tiny things, to wear pigtails and like teenager television without apology, to wear sparkly shoes because they make me giggle just like those pink cowboy boots.

Wear a sticker as a nose ring!

Join me? Make some room for joy in your life. Jump on board for 100 Happy Days, one hundred tiny chances to acknowledge wonder. Or blog about something, something you told yourself was insignificant even though it made you smile. Give yourself five minutes of skipping down the hallway. Just once today, make a choice that fills you with that awestruck wonder. Discover something new. Do yoga in public. And when you do one of these things, or something else you create, come back and tell me about it. Evi would love to hear.

Observatory CamelHorse with Eagle ArmsBow Pose

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Intentions

My brother and I are running the Warrior Dash together this year. Donate if you can, and the money will go to supporting St. Jude’s. 

I’m back for what I hope is a weekly blogging session, and I wanted to share a few things. First, a look at my bullet journal habit, which keeps me sane. Then some insight into my plans for this year, and finally a quick bit about how I stopped dieting since a few people have asked lately.

Bullet Journal

In short, it rocks. If you’ve never heard of it, check it out. It’s essentially a planner, but one that’s so easy to customize that it’s amazing. I love it. It combines my love of list making, my several calendars going at any point, and even helps me keep track of weekly and monthly goals.

I finally splurged on a real moleskine journal that I love because it’s got a bookmark so I know what page I’m on. I keep everyday tasks on a single line, one after the other, and then fill in the rest of my daily tasks in a column. Each task gets a checkbox so I can mark when I did it (LOVE checking things off) and there’s room for bulleted random thoughts, shopping lists, and monthly calendars in the front so I can track future dates. Basically, SO worth the effort of setting it up and getting used to it.

My 2014

I have big plans for this year. No resolutions in the traditional sense, but lots of thoughts about what I want more/less of, how I want to feel, and some concrete plans to get me there.

Highlights:

  • weekly schedule – blog on Monday, write on Tuesday, call my sister on Wednesday, practice Italian on Thursday, do yoga on Friday, take a nap on Saturday, long walk on Sunday
  • More: yoga, meditation, time outside, produce, unplugged time, gratitiude, sleep, strength, sweat, date nights
  • Less: stress, sugar, negative self-talk
  • A few things from my 100 Things To Do in 2014
    • celebrate our ten year anniversary
    • send Evi to kindergarten
    • hike a new trail
    • unpack
    • visit a brewery
    • buy nice bras
    • no phone day

Just a glance! This month in particular, I’m focusing on my word of the year (strength) and of the quarter (balance). So far, I’m meeting almost all my daily goals every day, since I was careful to make them achievable and enjoyable. I’m doing a few IG yoga challenges because I love them, and I’m in the midst of a 30 day green smoothie challenge right now too… just a smoothie every day (as a snack or a meal). I do mine for breakfast and love them.

Dieting and the Scale

I stopped dieting and weighing myself because it was hurting instead of helping. It was making me crazy and stressed. I wasn’t changing my habits in sustainable ways because I wasn’t really listening to myself. In the end, my husband was the reason I stopped. He said tracking was making me downright unpleasant. So I gave it up.

Was it hard? It was terrifying. I spent the first few weeks constantly fighting the urge to track and count and weigh and measure. On the other hand, I also almost immediately felt a sense of relief.

Did you gain weight? Yep, and I expected to. In the first few weeks I was still learning what my body wanted, so I did a fair amount of overeating since suddenly food was no longer “bad” or “not allowed”. That being said, I’m not gaining anymore. I haven’t lost, because I’m still working pretty hard on the food thing, but I’ve gotten to a place of easy maintenance. I have no idea what I weigh, and I don’t want to know. I don’t care.

How do you feel? Free. Strong. Happy. I’m lighter, less stressed. Not tracking and measuring everything has taken the stigma away from food, and the farther I distance myself from that, the easier it is for me to cut through the noise and really hear what my body wants.

Do you still overeat? Yes. I think I will always struggle with that. I am, however, working with a fair number of coping tools that work for me. I have tried drinking tea or water every time I feel munchy, and while that works well it makes me pee alot. Now I’m just working with recognition – being honest with myself about WHY I’m eating what I eat. Slowly, that’s helping me stop eating when what I’m really looking for is an answer for something else.

It’s a process. It’s not smooth. There are a lot of ups and downs. I still stress eat. I worry sometimes that I’m doing the wrong thing, and I still fight the urge to track when things get super stressful. Overall, though? I’m so much happier. Life is easier. I’m less obsessed. I wear better clothes because I’m paying more attention to my body. I eat more produce. Sugar is still a battle, but I’m getting there.

Whew – that’s quite enough for now, huh? Back next week with more updates!

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Owning My Light

This is a year of breakthroughs. It’s the second day and I’ve had a huge one already.

I intended this post to be about my bullet journal, my New Years goals, and answering some questions I’ve gotten a lot lately about no longer dieting/tracking. I spent a few minutes meditating today, and that changed everything. Somewhat randomly (or perhaps not randomly at all?) I ended up looking for a guided meditation from Heather Waxman, who I adore. I dug around a bit, and landed on the On Your Own Light meditation.

Five minutes. Perfect.

Little did I realize I’d end up crying on the floor. Why? I’m still sorting that out, I guess. In fact, I think that’s what I’m doing right now as I type…trying to sort out the why. Maybe I’ll get to the other things I meant to write about today… and maybe not.

I won’t go into the whole meditation, as I STRONGLY encourage you to check it out for yourself. Instead, I’ll simply get to what made me cry. Heather asks you to imagine yourself surrounded by an eggshell. I pictured myself cozy in the darkness. Heather’s gentle voice then prompted me to imagine the shell cracking around me as light poured in. It symbolized the beginning of accepting my light, and I was goddamned terrified. Scared witless. Oh god, I thought. Here it comes. Me. The light in me, and I have to see it. I have to feel it. I have to accept it, accept me.

I fought it. Hard. I dodged and shifted and twitched. In my head, I made it sunlight instead, and that held the tears at bay. And then…

And then she said to peel the shell away. To sit bathed in that gorgeous light, so bright, streaming from ME and out into the world. To share that light. And then, like the slow then sudden breaking of a dam, I was there. Sitting in my own light, breathing it out into the world, and crying so hard I didn’t know if I’d stop.

Well, then.

Just for a moment, I did it. I accepted me, with all of my flaws and quirks and potential for greatness. I let that light shine out of every nook and cranny. It didn’t hurt. I didn’t break or shatter. In fact, it felt kind of… well, good. And as quickly as it came, the crying subsided to a laugh. And I sat there laughing like a loon at my own incredible, shocking light.

Dude. I sort of rock. And guess what else? SO DO YOU. Really. I promise. You’re made of light and stardust and incredible possibilities. This is the year, this is the time to embrace it. Just do. It won’t be perfect. In fact, it will be as messy as my eye makeup ended up. It will also be awesome. And hard. And wonderful.

Own it.

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