Monday, October 22, 2012

Stress Prevails

My overnight visit to my hometown went smoothly, and provided the relaxing escape I needed. We had sushi, Thai, and steakhouse food. Interestingly enough, the meal that was the least diet-conscious was the continental breakfast at the hotel, which was one serious carb-fest. Not that I was intentionally trying to keep it clean, but I've been eating so much junk the past couple months that I don't even enjoy it anymore. But my visit wasn't about food, it was about fun, and releasing some compounded stress, and that it did. I even had a few hours visit with my dad before heading back home.
Even though I had a pleasant time, I found myself feeling guilty as I drove home. I always feel so conflicted, like there are so many demands on my time. I felt guilty for not staying longer to see my sister, and I felt guilty for being away from my own husband and kids, as I told them I wouldn't be fine all day Saturday, but ended up not getting home until evening, and they were already at the zoo without me and we had only enough time to have a late dinner before getting to bed. Sigh. These things can't be helped. I haven't seen my dad in more than a year, so when he made the impromptu call Thursday night I couldn't say no.
Yesterday was nice and relaxing, the weather was nice and we spent some time at the skate park, as my kids are practicing their skateboarding skills. I completed my tasks with ease and had some time to watch an autism benefit that was really enjoyable.
This morning I got back on track with the gym, getting in a great back/bicep workout. It felt good to be back in the gym, and thinking about my goals.
Then at work, my stress returned as a message from my over-dramatic boss indicated that the doctors staff was complaining about the optical about really petty things. When did I go back to high school? Out of stress and anger over the stupidness of all of this, I thought about giving up in college altogether. If people are complaining that I am doing things not related to work, that means I can't do homework at work, and I really don't have too much other time. But, if I quit college, I'll be stuck working this same kind of job forever. BAH! My stress seriously needs to take a vacation!!!
For today, I'm controlling the things I can control. I worked out. I'm eating things that make my body feel better. I will handle the rest as it comes. I guess that's all I can really do.
Hope you are all well. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Yesterday as I was leaving the gym, I felt so alive.  I was thinking of the lyrics of a song I used to fire me up when I was doing my final 5k.  The lyrics were from a FloRida song, Good Feeling:
/Giving up's not an option, gotta get it in
witness I got the heart of 20 men
no fear, go to sleep in the lion's den/
And I realized that I felt strong because I was doing something that was contributing to my strength. 
This morning when my alarm went off at 4:30 am I felt exactly opposite as I did yesterday.  The strength training I did yesterday made me sleep so deep that I was disoriented when the alarm went off, and I made the decision to go back to sleep.  I was still exceptionally tired when I woke, and I beat myself up a little for not taking the opportunity to get some work done, especially since the food side of yesterday challenged me every step of the way, but I prevailed over it.  I thought, what was yesterday for, if I'm just going to be lazy today?  I wondered why I keep knocking myself down, why I keep standing in my own way of making my dream happen. 
I started thinking about food, and how it has been such a hindrance for me, such a horribly misused drug.  I think I will always fall into the same vicious cycles of ups and downs until I spend some time examining my relationship with food.  Sounds absurd to call it a relationship, but it is filling an emotional place in me, so it's fitting I guess.  I need to get to the root of why I turn to food, and impliment some healthier (and more effective, to be honest) ways to handle my emotions.  On-track vs not on track, food is a very different entity in my mind.  When I'm on track, food is a tool, a way to keep my muscles vital and to keep my stomach from getting the dreaded nausea-hunger it gets when I am eating clean.  When I am off track, it is all about pleasure.  I want to eat as much as I want of the very thing that (at the moment) will make me feel the most pleasure.  It is a guilty, taboo, rebellious feeling and like food itself, I have a love-hate relationship with it. 
I think in the end, it comes down to focus.  When I am so burnt-out from the rest of my life, I don't have the energy or the drive to focus on what often feels like deprivation.  I like the idea of being on target most of the time, but giving into small temptations when they arise, but my problem is stopping at one serving, or two servings.  In my house, if we have a bag of candy, we generally eat it in one sitting until it's gone.  That is how I grew up too.  My parents were far too young when they started our family, with my older sister being born when my mother was 17, and I just before my mom turned 19, so to say they were poor is a dramatic understatement.   Treats and goodies were really rare in my household, but when we did have them, we ate until we were sick.  I know some of my food issues go way back to those days, maybe in an attempt to cover up or sweeten some of the very dark thoughts I had about my life back then.  And maybe some of it is just assuring myself that we have what we need to get by, that we are not going to starve, even when things are the most bleak.  I have even given thought to the popular theories about fat being a protective, warm blanket that shelters us from the cruel world.  I can't take that argument at face value, I do think there is a protective factor of the actions behind what makes us fat (ie, the freedom we afford ourselves when we are not holding ourselves accountable for our health), but I don't believe for a second that being fat makes us feel comfortable.  What it does is set us up for more failure because we figure, I'm already a fat blob, I might as well eat whatever I want.  At least, that's how it works in my little world.
As I said, I have food issues that I need to start focusing on.  I ate totatlly on-plan for two days now, the sugar addiction is broken again.  I know I will eat whatever I want this weekend when I am away, and that is already in the plan so I don't count it as a failure, but I still have plenty of work to do. 
I liken myself to a boxer, the underdog who keeps losing.  But you know what underdogs do when they lose?  They take time to heal their wounds, and they step back into the ring, because underdogs always have something to prove to the world.  I know in myself that I am a bulldog, a fighter, both passionate and a brute.  I have something left to prove, and I'm almost done licking my wounds and getting ready to go.  I don't care how many rounds, how many fights it takes, one day I'll get my feel-good ending.
Happy Wednesday Champs!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Whoops! Did I do that?

Have you ever been sleeping so good/deep that instead of merely waking you, your alarm goes one better and completely FREAKS YOU OUT? That's what happened to me this morning. I didn't realize that I'd set my alarm for 4:30 am, so when it went off I jolted out of bed, my heart beating fiercely. Once I got my bearings I realized I felt well rested and energetic. It's been too long since I've been able to say that, so I decided to take advantage of it and hit the gym.
I trained chest, shoulders and triceps today. It felt really good to get the blood in the muscles, and I must admit, my mood is much improved today. The best part about it is I had given myself a free pass from the gym for the next few days, but it turns out I didn't need it. Sometimes this journey truly is matter over mind instead of the other way around.
So my goal for this week is to get 1-2 more weight sessions in, and at least one cardio session. In general I am going to aim for 3 of each per week, but this is a special week as I am going out of town Friday to visit my friend, and I intend to relax and enjoy our visit without worrying about diet and getting in exercise. It will be a much-deserved break for both of us.
I don't have any other spectacular news to share, so I'll keep this short and sweet and wish you a great Tuesday!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Autumn Stillness

The rain has been pouring on my little city, stripping the trees of their beautifully colored leaves, only brown, soggy ones left clinging to the branches.  The grey sky mirrors my outlook.  As I watched the wind whipping last week I contemplated those colorful leaves and realized how much they are a metaphor for this those of us struggling to reach our dreams; some cling so tightly to their dream that they will never let go, and some succum to the force of the winds and let go of the resistence.  Me?  I'm the soggy brown one barely clinging on.  I can feel that there is something still worth fighting for, but boy that wind is punishing me with doubt, disillusionment and yes, my dear old familiar friend, apathy.  I can tell whatever I have left in front of me is going to be an uphill battle.
As I began this semester at college, it became very evident where my priorities lay, as I traded in my attention to my diet and exercise for an almost exclusive focus on everything else.  School has taken the foreground, though I have been thinking about my diet daily, it just seems like too much to think about right now.  And getting up at 4:30am?  Wow, that seems like more of a challenge than putting healthy things in my mouth.  I spent the better part of two months sick with sinus infection that led to a thickness in my lungs.  Thankfully, I did not need medication for it, and for now I have just a little sinus irritation and a bit of a sore throat.  But the stress is constantly there, eating eating away at me.  I use food as a drug, but it isn't very effective, and despite being fully aware of that, I continue to stuff food in, to try to numb my stress.  It is to the point that I am sick of food.  Literally.  It has to stop before my heart does. 
Last week, my stress hit an all-time high, as my boss casually said this," What are your plans for next semester?  Because I can't work around your school schedule anymore."  I felt like a bomb had been dropped on me.  Was my boss really saying that I need to make a choice between my job and school?  In my head I was thinking, what am I doing?!  I'm going to school, working toward my dream of helping people with special needs.  I'm continuing on my journey that I have invested blood, tears, and a heap of money into so my family can have a better life.  What came out of my mouth was a jumbled mess about how this semester is stressing me out, and I am going to appeal to try and take some on-line courses at my school or might take a semester off.  And then I rushed off to statistics class, unable to focus on anything else but that lousy conversation.  What did she mean by that, will I lose my job if I enroll at college?  Will she offer someone else my hours?  Am I getting pushed out?  I know we are way over budget on payroll, maybe this is her way of remedying the situation.  Before I even brought myself to get back to her and ask for clarification, I started researching the legality of what I was being presented.  I know there are laws about folks in high school, and that employers have to give them time off for school, but no, no such laws about college.  It's a pretty black and white, the employer's always right kind of situation.  That is the way this country is set up.  I am not blind to the fact that they have a business to run.  But the fact that they could be so cold about it was a slap in the face. 
By the end of my shift, I was sending my boss an e-mail asking for clarification so that I could make the life-changing decisions she was forcing me to make.  Her response was that she would meet with me, and her boss, the following morning, so we could discuss how Prevea does and does not support their employees seeking higher education.  Basically, my bosses boss reiterated that Prevea supports their empolyees in their efforts to better themselves, but only when it does not interfere with their work schedule.  Insert the corporate foot into my proverbial happy place.  Since my university does not offer weekend courses, and only offers on-line courses in a very limited selection of majors, I have some hefty decisions to make.  My choices are these: 1. switch my major and take classes on-line through my current university or 2. enroll in an all-online university and pray that any future employers recognize those degrees as legit.  I have little other choice as the job I work pays far better than anything I could get that would work around my school schedule.  I spent so much time being stressed out about the whole thing this weekend, but once I started to examine how my time would be allocated, I realized that there are a lot of benefits to going to school on-line, including a lot less driving in the wicked Wisconsin snow. And finally, my stress is starting to lift a little just thinking about the change.  So, out of something pretty ugly, a little sunlight sneaked in. 
And because some of my stress has lifted, I am feeling ready to get back into making my health a focus again.  It will be about doing what I can, not trying to live up to some crazy standard.  I know there are days when the weather will impede my desire/ability to get to the gym, and I have found from experience that hardcore weight training more than 3-4 days a week is far too taxing on my already-stressed out system, and makes me sick.  So my goal is just that simple, to do what I can do without making myself sick.  Today that means eating on-plan.  And I spent a good many hours cooking/baking healthy foods yesterday, to ensure that I will have what I need to stay on track this week.  I am in the process of making a system for my weight training, three days a week, mixing up the moves and the type of training (circuit, supersets, active resting sets, etc).  It will be interesting to see what I have lost in the past two months.  I can still see some of those arm muscles I built during my Live Fit program, so hopefully my muscle memory wil be there for me when I do get back in there.  Oh, do I look and feel aweful right now.  And I hate being on this stupid cycle of doing good, doing bad, doing good, doing bad.  I just want consistency.  I need to find better tools to help me stay on track.  But, for now at least, I'm back to focusing on fixing the problem, and that is, at least, a start.
Some of my favorite moments this fall have been time spent with my kids and husband in the parks of Green Bay, watching leaves float down from the trees, and my kids' happy faces frolicing in them with wonderment, as if it were there first time playing in the leaves.  And, when we are all in the car to whatever family destination we have chosen, there is a particular Bob Marley CD we have been taken to listening to, and it is the first time I can recall, we all sing together loudly.  And happily.  And in those precious moments, all the stress leaves me and I realize that I've got a pretty sweet life.
I can't promise I'll be posting to consistently between now and mid-December when my classes end, but I am here, and I'll be back soon.
Autumn Stillness

Preparing for Winter
Hope you are all having a wonderful, colorful fall!