Category Archives: Mindful March

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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Finally, an update…

My heart, as it turns out, is fine. Every test came back normal, and after the removal of any decongestants and all caffeine, I’m feeling fine and not having any palpitations. I’m a little sad that my caffeine is no longer, but I’ve found some great replacements. My favorite is Teecino. I found their caffeine-free herbal coffee at a local organic store, and I LOVE it. It smells and tastes like coffee, but with no caffeine and none of the acidity that even decaf can have.

More importantly, I’m relieved my heart isn’t freaking out anymore. Such a scary feeling. The longer I sit with it, the more I think it was a result of anxiety. I struggle with varying levels of anxiety, and I think it just caught up to me a little bit. So I’m back to regular yoga and meditation, both of which had fallen away in a haze of “too busy”, and I’m feeling better overall.

So what else is new? I gave myself a birthday present of a month of yoga at a WONDERFUL local studio, which resulted in several exciting things. First, some new thoughts about how I approach not only yoga, but life in general, and second, some real steps in the direction of my yoga teacher training. Which begs the question of how tacky it would be to set up a GoFundMe account…

But really, the lessons are the most important part for me right now, since the training awaits funding, and I’m doing what I can to incorporate the lessons in every aspect of my life.

Lean In: Don’t be in such a rush to move on to the next thing…the next pose, the next project, the next breath. There is time. Savor it. Wallow in it. Allow each moment, each pose, each breath it’s own space to simply be.

Start Small: This isn’t a race, and it’s no one’s practice but my own. I have nothing to prove to anyone, and only my own center to find. Build up from the most basic aspects of a pose, find my edge, and stop there. My edge does not need pushing, but only exploring. My body was not meant for pain, so too my mind.

Meet the Breathe: If I can’t breathe in a pose, I’m too deep. If I can’t breathe in my life, I’m too deep. Back off a little. Find the spaces where there’s air.

Dont Do the Pose: Yoga (like life) isn’t about force. It’s not about insisting my body and mind do something they aren’t ready to do. It’s about letting the pose happen to me, about allowing a settling into the pose. 

And finally, the one that had me crying in savasana again (honestly, at this point I should expect it)…

It’s Not About More Strength: I’m sorry, what? But isn’t that the point? Turns out, it’s not. It’s not about more strength, it’s about what you can let go of. In a pose, at work, in the world. It’s not about doing more, it’s about not trying to do it all. It’s not about powering through, it’s about letting go of the things that don’t matter.

It’s a constant epiphany, a radical revolution, a sea change. Right now I’m sitting with it, enjoying it, letting myself feel out all of it’s corners and edges and curves.

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All The Feels

So I signed on for Molly Galbraith’s Love Your Body Challenge. I followed along somewhat halfheartedly for the first few days, reading the emails and following the prompts with minimal commitment. On day 5 I decided the challenge just wasn’t worth my time. It wouldn’t work. It was too hard. It was too easy. It was self-indulgent. I deleted the journal I’d started, got rid of the document where I’d dutifully tracked each day’s mantra and action steps. I was having a hard time filling in the blanks and I had yet to say my mantras at bedtime even once. I’d probably only said them during the action steps on one day. So I wasn’t doing them “right” anyway. And then day 6 arrived in my inbox. I opened the email anyway. I clicked the link. I skimmed the post. I read the prompt.

The prompt.

“Reason #6 To Love Your Body: Because it’s served you well.”

Betrayal. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my body. It’s small, unfair things: it’s not supposed to look this way, it shouldn’t gain weight so easily, it makes me uncomfortable, my colon sucks and my compartment syndrome keeps me from running. I know all of those things aren’t something I can blame my body for. In fact many would be eased if I loved my body more. But it’s big things too. It’s a baby lost at twenty weeks because my cervix didn’t feel like cooperating, and it couldn’t even malfunction in a normal way but insisted on doing so in such an uncommon manner that the doctors couldn’t see it coming. I’m not gonna lie, I blame it for that and then because on some level I’ve internalized the connection steen my body and myself, I blame myself for that loss. Just sometimes, when it gets dark inside.

So maybe I need this challenge more than ever. Here’s my list. My body:

1. Walked me down the aisle at my wedding.
2. Crossed the finish line at a Warrior Dash.
3. Held a baby we’d already said goodbye to.
4. Carried a second pregnancy through five months of bedrest.
5. Gave birth to a happy, healthy, perfect little girl.
6. Fed that little girl for six months all on its own.
7. Held that little girl through sickness, naps, zoo trips, nights of coughing, and mornings of cuddling.
8. Embraced so many beloved friends and family.
9. Learned to do yoga: planks, forearm and handstands, push-ups, and upward bow.
10. Survived two surgeries.
11. Supported and nourished a mid capable of a bachelors degree with honors.
12. Carries me to and from work every day.
13. Allows me to hike, walk the museums, and wander new cities.
14. Allows me to see, hear, smell, and touch the world around me, to discover all sorts of delights.
15. Walks up and down 15+ flights of stairs on every work day, and at least six of them every morning to walk the dog.
16. Keeps my daughter feeling loved with warm embraces and sniffly cuddles.
17. Lets me kiss my incredible husband.
18. Highlights the incredible DNA I carry from my mother and my father, showing off features that carry on my bloodline.
19. Plays host to a head full of wild, uncontrollable hair.
20. Is home to a beautiful pair of eyes in a delightfully variable color.

So yes, it’s pretty amazing. And it deserves so much love and support. A body this strong, this capable, this full of potential for joy and laughter and knowledge and love… It’s time I give it the respect it needs to really come alive, to carry me through he best years of my life with all of its beautiful potential fully realized.

Now pardon me while I cry softly for a while. This one brought out ALL THE FEELS.

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Moo!

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As in The Impatient Cow. No? Nobody? Well, apparently I AM the impatient cow.

I’ve been fighting with myself way too much these days. Everything is a struggle. The exact same habits and mindsets that helped me lose the weight I dropped are suddenly the reasons I’m consistently making choices I’ll regret. While there have certainly been times I’ve thrown up my hands and stopped trying, this is the first time EVER that I’ve tried this hard and constantly struggled unless I was really struggling with some rough emotional stuff. So I started thinking about it, started trying to sniff out the issues.

And? Nothing. Sure I have stress. Yes I’m terrified about this potential leg issue. But the stress isn’t new, and the problem was happening before the foot/leg pain started. So… what the what?

Aaron has been maxed out on stress lately too, working half of most weekends and still not keeping up thanks to understaffing. We sat down to talk it out last night, and boom! Lightning bolt! Suddenly, I know what’s wrong.

We’re maxed out. Between the basic job stress and parenting and running the household and a long commute… we just have nothing left. Every “free” moment is spent grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, laundry, dishes, windows, car repairs… And it’s (perhaps not shockingly) wearing me down. I don’t get many chances to recharge.

I’m grateful for my job and thrilled that I still love it. I’m glad we have a safe place to live and enough resources to raise a healthy, happy little girl. But.., I need more. On a given day, I have about 2hrs of mental free time when I’m on the bus but not answering work emails. I think that time is keeping me sane, but I’m essentially immobile.

I have about 45 minutes of potential active time every day, but any time I miss work I worry about falling behind because my job is so important to me, so if I take a day off I’m unlikely to take a gym break for several days before and after.

The less I move, the more vindictive the my food choices become. The worse I eat, the worse I feel and the harder I have to fight to get out from under the guilt. I end up, as I am right now, trapped in this heavy fog of self judgement and guilt and sadness.

There’s nothing I can do about put schedule right now. We’re working as beat we can on moving to somewhere that would significantly decrease my commute and not lengthen Aaron’s, but that is an expensive and lengthy process.

But I’m not powerless. I DO have choices. I can decide how this effects me instead of just letting it happen to me. Björg and I can choose where the feelings take us.

And therein lies the impatience. I honestly believe my attempts at I tuition eating were working…. or they would have I’d is been more patient. If I’d been willing to sit in my own head longer, work to really understand my mind/body connection better, I think I would have been on the right track.

And tracking? So not working. If you look at my food diary since I went back to tracking (please don’t) it’s totally ridiculous. It painfully showcases someone who’s at best not listening and at worst medicating with food. It’s bad for my head and worse for my heart. No more. It’s time to put in the work.

And that’s the crux of it. Intuitive eating takes work. I’ve spent too many years restricting calories, moralizing food, and guilt tripping my body… it won’t be as easy and natural as “intuitive” suggests because I have no damn clue how to listen to my body. But I was getting there and it’s time I commit to doing it for real.

So what’s the plan? MORE YOGA!!! More hiking, when I get the all clear to do so. More soul lifting forms of movement. And food? I thought long and hard about what really makes me happy, and the answer hit me in the face… literally. I was cleaning up my bookshelf, and one of my favorite healthy books (despite the stupid title) fell off.

Mediterranean Women…

So I’m aiming for a return to the Mediterranean diet that makes me happy. It’s clean, it’s delicious. It’s easy. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it.

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back and forth

I pre-ordered this Fierce Forward bracelet to help me remember to EAT LESS SUGAR!

I pre-ordered this Fierce Forward bracelet to help me remember to EAT LESS SUGAR!

As expected, I’m still a work in progress. I had several great days where I was really starting to see some great progress in mindfulness, and then I got derailed again. I’ve been too busy at work, and next week will be even worse because I’ve got training ALL week and won’t have ANY breaks at all. Working breakfasts. Working lunches. Zero reprieve.

I’m doing some extra sidework that I’m actually really enjoying, but of course it’s just more time.

I’m struggling. I’m having thoughts about getting back to tracking or taking on a diet challenge or something, mostly because I’m terrified that I can’t get a handle on this before it gets bad on the weight front. I can tell I’ve gained, and I’m terrified to figure out how much.

This weekend, at a kids birthday party where I was already uncomfortable, I had a really rough moment. It’s a collection of moms that I already feel weird around because they’re younger than me, thinner than me, and well put-together at all times. When I overheard a few of them talking about running, and specifically about the race I’ve signed up for in April, I was super excited about having something to talk to them about… and then they snubbed me. One woman asked how fast I could run a 5K, and when I mentioned my “time” and explained that I do walk/run intervals, the response was “isn’t that just… jogging?”

I felt deflated. I ate too much. My inner Bjorg screamed, HA! I TOLD YOU SO! It was not a good moment, y’all.

This week I’m just trying to keep my head on straight, get a little more sleep, and eat a little less sugar. It’s all I can manage.

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hello, Björg

Thanks, History Channel! I actually think Björg looks exactly like this, but maybe with dark hair.

This is Björg… or at least something like I’d imagine she looks, except with hair that’s dark and big like mine.

I just picked up a book at the library called “blink: the power of thinking without thinking” and deals with our inner voice, or the part of us that makes snap judgements. It’s so far talking about how it developed from a good, protective place and still often does the best things for us, but can certainly backfire on us as well. I think it will go into how to deal with that, how to decide when the voice is right and when it needs to be reframed.

Then I found something in this post about the process of acknowledging the voice and how to handle it. Basically, it said to recognize it, name it, reframe it, shift it, claim it, and blow past it. I’m working on following those steps right now every time a negative thought or weird food urge surfaces. It’s exhausting sometimes, but I think it’s necessary work to get me better in tune.

The “name it” step was intended to be literal, but the way the article phrased it was to give it a name so that you could, essentially, tell it to shut up. I think it said “put it in its place” and suggested names that you don’t like. The idea of giving it a specific name really resonated with me, but I wanted to be working on the compassion aspect I’ve talked about with Karen, so I named her Björg. It’s Old Norse for help & protection. I chose it for several reasons. First, I love mythology. Second, I think it’s sort of funny and is extremely unlikely to be the name of anyone I know, which avoids uncomfortable associations. Third, it IS about help and protection. Björg really is just trying to help. She’s doing the best she can with the information she’s got. I can’t hate her for wanting what she thinks is best for me. I have to be patient with her, help her learn that her reality isn’t my/our reality.

Baseline 5KI actually had a full on mental discussion with Björg while pushing through today’s lunchtime 5K. I’ve really let the running go, and I knew today would be a struggle, but I wanted to set a new baseline, a new starting point, and just go from there. Björg was less than pleased. It’s hard. It hurts. And in total weirdo fashion, I found myself reassuring HER. By stepping back from that voice, I found it ever so slightly easier to deal with. It was sort of a nice moment.

In the end, I finished a little over a 5K (I did 3.2 mi) in 47:40. It was super difficult. My new plan, however, is to forget about those longer distances and perfect the 5K. (more on that later) I want to do one 3-4 times a week and just try to run longer and longer segments. This time I managed 1.5 to 2 minute runs every 2-3 minutes, and I was pretty proud of that as a starting point. It also led to a pretty fabulous day of food too. And in the end? Björg was proud too.

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WIP

Waving SnailMan… this whole mindfulness thing? It’s tough. It’s emotional. It’s occasionally stressful. It’s also enlightening, rewarding, and finally starting to feel like  I’m going somewhere.

(Here’s last week’s update if you’re catching up)

The ever gracious and incredibly helpful Karen has been working a lot with me in the past week on figuring out what’s going on in my head. I do a lot of eating as escape, and when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, I want to run from it. Somewhere along the lines, I learned to do that with food. I’m trying to be diligent about keeping a journal about what I eat, why I eat it, and how it makes me feel. I did well at first, but as I made less than stellar choices, I did a lot of avoidance with the journal too, until I was barely writing.

This past Friday, I ate so much that I went to bed feeling nauseous. It’s been a while since I pushed it that far. At least I managed enough awareness that I skipped breakfast the next morning because I was still full. Yesterday I came across two VERY relevant posts that spoke to exactly what I’ve been dealing with.

Are Shadow Comforts Starving Your Spirit?

You Don’t Lack Willpower, You’re Just Afraid

Just the titles are pretty powerful for me, but the basics boiled down to concentrating on WHY I eat instead of what or how much. Learning to slow down, to honor the food I choose and really enjoy it. Learning to understand that a piece of pie or a cookie is just that, without a moral or inherently damaging value, unless I’m using it to numb. You can enjoy a “bad” food for its own sake. It only becomes “bad” when it turns into something you’re not even tasting because the food isn’t the point.

As Jen writes in her book The Life Organizer, “You can eat a piece of chocolate as a holy wafer of sweetness — a real comfort — or you can cram an entire chocolate bar into your mouth without even tasting it in a frantic attempt to soothe yourself — a shadow comfort.”

Starting today, I’m working on slowing down again. I’m working on really concentrating, listening to what my body is telling me instead of constantly ignoring it. I’m also working on being more kind to myself. After all, the point of this year is supposed to be self love, right? Over and over again, from countless angles and sources, I’m hearing the same message.

Slow down. Listen. Be in the moment.

It’s a process, not a flipped switch, so I’m working toward it a little more every day. I’m not giving up.

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Ruby Slippers – #mamavationmonday

Ruby Slippers - new kicks from VansI replaced my super old, worn out, holey TOMS over the weekend with a pair of new, shiny red Vans. I got them on sale, and even though my sister says I’m way too old for them, I love them anyway. They’re my own personal pair of magical ruby slippers, minus the ache-inducing heels.

So what am I doing with the magic of my fabulous new shoes? I’m getting back to basics, back to the things that really work for me. One of those things, which I did way back when my healthy stuff was a seperate blog, was taking part in Mamavation. It’s an incredible group of women who come together with the goal of creating strong, healthy families. Thanks to shifting priorities, I let that participation slide until I was no longer a member of the community, and I’ve really missed it lately.

Especially this month, as I’m trying so hard to focus on what I need, what my body needs, I’d really cherish the input of those amazing women. And so, this post is my official pledge to rejoin one of the best communities I’ve ever been a part of.

Over the weekend, while coming down with a KILLER headcold that has me hopped up on Tylenol Severe Something-or-other, I came to another interesting realization around food.

I don’t like dinner.

No really. My body, at it’s happiest, likes a biggish lunch, lots of small afternoon snacks, and no dinner. I’ve found myself lately forcing dinner on a not-hungry body just because “it’s dinner time”. What the what? The whole point of this is what I need, not what I’m “supposed” to do. For YEARS now, I’ve been fighting the urge to eat a larger lunch and some snacks so that I could save room for dinner, because I was conditioned to eating at the “right” times. Now I realize it’s ridiculous. Eat when I’m hungry, don’t when I’m not. If Evi asks why I’m not eating dinner, “I’m not hungry” is the healthiest possible response. I’ve worried before about what she’d think if I wasn’t eating, but what better lesson could I teach her than to do what feels right?

So… I’m not saying I’m categorically eliminating dinner. I’m just saying that, especially during the work week, I’m going to shift closer to what my body wants anyway – more food in the late afternoon and a lot less at night.

Today is also stellar timing in terms of my aims to eat a lot less sugar. Since the headcold has me stuffed up, my tastebuds dulled and my appetite lessened, it should be as good a day as possible to try out this low sugar initiative….

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Dear Diary

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From yesterday’s journal…

Woke up starving this morning even thought had chicken & rice, chips & cheese, and a beer last night. All the salt left my throat sore too. Had my coffee and some Munchies… Feeling pretty settled now.

Mulling over a question from Karen today. I turn to food for comfort and control. What would I do if food didn’t exist? I’d like to say I’d exercise, but that’s more what I want to want than what I think I’d do.

OH MY GOD! Epiphany. I can have any food. Nothing is wrong or denied. It’s all… just… food. It seems suddenly and simultaneously both less powerful and more.

————–

Today I had an awesome workout, but I ate terribly…. mindlessly… or worse, maybe even with intention.

I’m going to start severely restricting my sugar intake. I keep pushing it away as restrictions, rules, assigning morality to food. This afternoon I realized I was thinking in the wrong terms. By significantly reducing my sugar, I am finally listening to my body! I’m cutting out something that even in the last eight days I’ve already documented as making me feel heavy, slow, foggy… and more than that, it’s a self-replicating misery. The more I eat, the more I want. For instance, today’s massive chocolate binge began when I woke up wanting a salty, protein heavy breakfast sandwich. When I couldn’t find one, I chose (inexplicably) to make a breakfast of donuts instead! I didn’t want them. I didn’t enjoy them. I ate them because… I don’t know. Because I’m not “supposed to”? Because I “deserve” a “reward”? I really don’t know, but the choice led to an entire day of constant, intense sugar cravings even after an awesome workout.

And so? No more excess sugar. I’m allowing creamer since it doesn’t seem to trigger further cravings.

whoa, right? Maybe thisind

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