Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Sun Shines in November

Lighter post today, I promise!  I have been going through some thick stuff lately, and sometimes I just need a break to coast on the surface instead of diving into the murky deep. 
I don't know what is changing or happening lately but I have been feeling so good, so happy this week.  I have a ton of energy, I feel like my thoughts are so clear and my body is moving with ease.  I even feel graceful at times, which is not something I can remember ever saying about myself; I am a natural-born clutz!  I don't know what it is but I LOVE it!  It's like a post-workout high without the workout. 
Yesterday as I was getting ready for work, I was thinking about the absence of my usual aches and pains, and imagining what it would be like to turn the clock back ten years.  I recognized myself as being in a lot less pain physically but I was experiencing a lot more emotional turmoil ten years ago.  It made me truly happy of where I am now.  In my opinion, emotional pain is way harder to fix because there is no clear-cut way to get from A to B like there is in physical issues.  I am glad I have had an open enough mind to read some self-help books, meditate and actually dive into dark past I never wanted to face.  It is true that you have to go through it to find the exit sign, pretending my past didn't affect me, or trying to blame everyone else for my hurt did nothing to heal me.  I think it took me softening toward that which I felt was the source of my pain in order to heal.  I didn't know if I would ever be able to do it without seeing a therapist.  There are three books that I can point to that led to my greatest progress in healing and progress:
They all reached me in one way or another, but the one that made me do the toughest work was "It Didn't Start With You".   I was in a place where I was ready to do the work to get some answers.  I read it slowly because there is a lot to think about and exercises to do along the way.  Some of it involves thinking about relatives I don't really know too much about and that made me want to reach out to my mom, but it also made me examine how I am just a part of the chain of things that has happened in my family, just like my mother and grandmother are/were.  Everyone has dark stuff they need to resolve, with themselves or with their families, and until you do, you will suffer on some level.  Working through it, focusing on it, isn't easy or fun, sometimes it made me sad,mad or even nauseated, but the result is like a fresh beginning, a rewrite on your story, like your first breath of air in the morning is a beautiful sunrise in spring, and everything is alive and blooming before you!  I wish it for everyone.  When I was still really closed-off and curled up in a proverbial ball from emotional sensitivity, I could only take Geneen Roth with a grain of salt.  She writes beautifully and we share some of the same Mom issues, but there was always this peace about her that I wasn't sure was genuine.  Now that I have started to find some of that peace myself, I think that she is just trying to help people get to the place she is.  There is peace if you do the hard work (and it's the kind of work that doesn't require a treadmill or specialty shoes.  Bonus!) nothing comes for free.  Beating ourselves up thinking willpower will work is actually holding us back from healing, and once we start healing, we stop trying to use food as a drug.   The "Emotional Eater's Repair Manual" is actually very readable too.  It is a little more practical in that it has exercises to see where your broken coping mechanisms are and to teach you how to be your own nurturer that you wish you had when you were a child.  It took me a while to fully appreciate the strategies, but I have found myself more able to push the negative voice out of my head and replace it with a nurturing voice more often now than I have ever been able to do before.  These books have been my substitute for a psychologist.  They are much less expensive and I get to work with them whenever I want.  So, if someone is suffering I recommend books.  I'm not a huge reader but when it is deeply personal and relatable, I have a hard time putting them down. 
Yesterday at work I had a male customer picking up his glasses.  When he first came in to order, I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly and easy-going he was.  He is a big guy, but short with curly hair, and when he came to order he was wearing a very expensive looking suit with a bright blue bowtie.  He literally reminded me of the character Norm from the TV show Cheers.  So when he came back to pick up his glasses yesterday, he was equally laid back and happy-go-lucky.  I went through my normal dispensing procedure, asking if they feel comfortable on the nose and ears, checking if they are crooked, and asking if he feels like he can see well.  He said, "Yes, I can see really well, there are beautiful women all around me!"  Since I was the only one in the room with him I chuckled and said, "Uh oh, I think you need to have your prescription rechecked!"  He politely remarked that in all honesty he could see well, and I was beautiful.  It has been a good many years since anyone has called me that, and I don't take compliments well.  I didn't feel like he was saying it as a pickup,  I think he is just that kind of guy who passes out roses to women he doesn't know on Mother's Day or helps an elderly lady across the street.  But it made me feel good, moreso because this perfect stranger was modeling something that I have been lacking lately, being a really nice person to others because everyone needs someone to be nice to them for no reason other than we are all sharing this space but we are so disconnected.  I think I am ready to let go of some of my cynicism.  That is a big bold step for me.  I think it will make me happier in general, but especially at work.  Our words and actions have so much affect, not just to others but to ourselves.  How we treat others changes how we feel about oursleves and vice versa.  I need to start being nicer to others and myself.  Maybe that is the lightness I've been feeling, like I finally started moving that mountain out of my way, you know, the one that was blocking the sun.  It's time to let a little light in.  It's not about the holiday or the season or the state of the country, it's about humanity and our role in it.  I don't feel like the fat outsider who gets picked last in gym class, I know I'm the team captain and I can make all the difference.  We all can.  Be nice to yourself and be nice to others.  Stress and anger are cancers to the soul.  People who are bitter, hurt and angry because they don't have a choice to be anything else.  Sometimes all it takes to make them feel better is a little kindness even if they aren't giving it to you. 
I did not mean to be preachy in this post but I guess I'm feeling good and I hope you are too.  Now, go do nice things!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Healing Family Wounds

OK, so now that my contraversial post is out of the way, I feel like I can move on. 
After a period of feeling extra bloated and fatter than normal, wondering if I need to cut back on the wine consumption (boo), I woke this morning with a ton of energy and feeling a lot flatter in my stomach than I have in some time.  I can only attribute it to my monthly ending and it just so happened that I had a lot less calories yesterday due to it being too busy at work to get away to eat.  Even though I woke early at 3:30am and tossed and turned until my alarm went off at 5 am, I woke up feeling so good and still do.  Maybe I need less sleep than I thought?  My body is weird, that's all I've got!
My eating has been a little less structured as I'd like it.  I planned some lower-carb, veggie based meals this week, but forgot to make my lunch (cauliflower crust mini pizzas) and ran out of time to make them last night.  I will get to it tonight so I can eat how I planned to eat.  The Indian Samosas I had planned to have for dinner this week were actually gobbled up by my family.  I didn't have the heart to tell them they were for me, so I will eat veggie burgers instead.  Not a big deal or a big difference nutrition wise.   To be honest, I haven't really changed much with my menu this week, I added the mini pizzas because it's a sneaky way to get some veggies in, it tastes good and I was craving green olives.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  I just wish the cauliflower didn't stink up my entire office lunchroom but OH WELL! 
I am learning to let things roll more, to use my voice instead of being nice just to accommodate people, and let my needs, wants and opinions be known more.  I might be loopy, but I think the whole process of bucking the societal ideal of being some emaciated woman or overweight woman constantly on a diet; well, letting go of all of that has been liberating in so many ways.  It is a fecundity, one positive flowing over onto the next.  I'm less stressed out because I'm not hyper-focused on do's and don'ts and that gives me more confidence, both of which make me happier.  I am in a really good place right now.  I wish I'd never started dieting in the first place, but I know that is part of my journey that I needed to go through in order to appreciate the feeling of liberation I feel today.
Not much has happened since the experience the other night, but I have been asking for signs.  I did get one in a dream, the zodiac glyph for Cancer.  From what I have read, it is a sign of nurturing and awakening.  This has been a message I have been getting seemingly all around me lately, and I figured I better start putting these signs and energy in the right place.  It starts with my mom.
I do not have a very close relationship with my mom.  She has some really good points, but she puts so much of her energy into cutting people down that it is hard to feel really warm toward her, even when she does something nice.  It has been this way since I was a child, kind of cold and sometimes completely lacking in empathy.  I have given her the benefit of the doubt before, thinking of how tough her life was, growing up poor to abusive parents, she barely had coping skills herself before having kids and trying to shame and degrade us into being who she thought we should be.  I never felt like anything I did was good enough to please her, so when I was in my early teens, I stopped trying.  I purposely did exactly the opposite of what she told me, as my own way of rebelling.  I thought I was being tough and building a strong fortress around myself, but in reality, I was closing off a huge part of myself to her and not allowing anything in from her either.  When that happened, I not only made it impossible for her to give me anything, I also pushed her out so I couldn't connect with her or even try to understand her.  I didn't care, she hurt me, she damaged me, she was supposed to be the loving parent who would take care of me, nurture me so I could blossom.  I spent so much of my life blaming her for not being what I thought she should be, doing the same, hypocritical thing to her as I hated having done to me.  I didn't see that at the time, though.  I just shoved down all those feelings with food; drowned the feelings as if I could drown her out of my life.  She supported me when it was time to move out, and when I was starting my own family and moving 2,000 miles away with them.  She sent money to make sure I would be OK, every month she sent money for diapers and bills, and there were months that we honestly couldn't have made it by without that help.  The miles helped us be a little closer, and I felt like I had to be nice because she was giving us money.  She is generous, but she never lets you forget it.  Since we've been back within driving distance of one another, things have softened a little more.  She hugs me when we visit, which isn't very often, and my kids have loved visiting her because she loves to keep them entertained with crafts.  While I don't pretend that everything is lovey-dovey with us, we seem to have found our ground where we're OK with one another.  This latest burst of energy and opening within myself made a small opening in my heart for what I know will be regret of lost time and understanding.  I am turning 44 next month, and she is turning 63.  She has been a smoker since she was 11, and every time I talk to her she coughs and coughs and blames it on her sinuses.  Every time she gets a cold it goes into her chest and lasts a few months long.  I know she won't be here forever.  When I think of how small my life is in comparison with my lineage, the span of the history of my ancestors,  how old the mountains and the stars are, I feel silly and selfish focusing so heavily on my weight and how I eat my emotions that I was never able to get over.  So, today I wrote my mom a letter, because that's how we most often communicate, and I told her that it made me sad that she spent Thanksgiving alone and how thinking about family makes me realize how awesome a job they did as parents despite all the challenges they themselves faced.  I told my mom I love her, which was really hard to do.  I did it because she deserves to have that.  I did it because she is broken, and too proud to see or admit it.  I did it because I do love her, and I do respect how strong of a role model she was for my sister and I even after enduring a bad childhood herself.  I did it because it will heal us both, and I know for myself I won't be able to move forward in any way until I heal this thing between us.  In some ways, I think she too just needs someone to love her despite her dark spots and sour moments.  She needs someone who isn't going to leave her like everyone else has.  She wants to be shown kindness and I have spent my life being pretty unkind and ungiving to her.  I am finally learning, at my ripe old age, that I am not the center of the universe.
So, I find myself questioning if someone was really here with me, some guardian angel, or if I was dreaming it.  In the end, it doesn't matter, the message was received and I am making big, positve changes, and somehow I feel like this is the true new beginning I have been waiting for for so many years.  No matter my weight or my appearance, I feel so much lighter already.  Some people never get or take this chance, some people live their whole life blaming or hating their parents.  It may not be an easy thing to forgive something that hurts or has hurt us, but holding it forever is such a burden that we spill it onto all other aspects of our life, and the stains don't come out until we personally release them.  My bad feelings toward my mom do not serve me anymore.  I don't have to be best friends with her but it's time to forgive and heal.  I'm finally ready for this.  Let the healing begin!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Someone is with me

This blog is going to be about some religious or spiritual themes, which can be a touchy subject.  If it's something you are not fond of skip it.  I rarely ever talk about this topic but something happened recently that affected me.
My parents met as teens, and by the time they were 17 they were getting married with a baby on the way.  That was my older sister; I was born the day before my mom's 19th birthday, and my dad turned 19 shortly after.  They came from different religious backgrounds, one Lutheran and one Catholic, but until I was about 3 years old, we went to a Catholic church.  I don't remember much about it, but I remember my dad saying he had to get out because they were making him feel guilty for not giving the church 10% of his wage.  He was the only one who worked, he had a decent job at a window factory, but with the medical complications my mother had in labor (of both of us) and paying for a brand new house, we did not have 10% to give.  So we left the church.  My dad would try to tell us that He is wherever you are, not just in some building and not just on a few select days during the year.  We didn't talk about religion much, and as I grew, I only very rarely wondered about it.  My Dad would try to 'preach' to us when he was drunk or on Christmas Day, sometimes both were the case at once, and because of the circumstance, my sister and I would just roll our eyes.  By the time I got to sixth grade and met my best friend, Penny, her cynicism rubbed off on me and her brief "Some guy lives in the clouds and makes magic so everyone can have a happy life" kind of explanation made me proudly proclaim that I was atheist.  I didn't even fully know what that meant, but my being a practical person, I was more prone to believe the scientific explanation of how and why we were here.  My parents didn't force me to go to church for holidays very much, and when they did, I would have my sister and cousins around me to distract me.  We almost always got shushed too many times to count.  Because I wasn't around it, it wasn't relevant to me.
After I got my Associate's Degree and moved to Green Bay, I ended up meeting the man I would later marry.  He was, at the time, Rastafarian, and he took my breath away.  I learned what I could about the religion, taking away parts that really spoke to me.  For instance, my husband told me when we met, that he prefers women who do not wear makeup because wearing makeup is like saying your creator didn't do a good enough job.  I grew dreadlocks and stopped shaving, I bought into the whole thing as much as I could.  It felt somehow good to have something that made me feel protected and even included.  As we began our own family, time for things like reading and learning slipped away, and I went back into my comfort mode of not really spending time or energy on faith.  There were plenty of times when I felt lost and struggled with tough feelings and wished I'd had guidance, but somehow after so much time had passed, I didn't feel comfort from someone else's faith.  That's how it felt, like I latched onto someone else's faith but it wasn't really in me.
In my pursuit of my Bachelor's Degree, just a couple years ago, I took a class called The Philosophy of Happiness.  It was about how 4 Eastern philosophies defined happiness and what it takes to achieve it.  When I started reading the writings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I was opened up in a way that nothing had opened me before.  I didn't know anyone else who was Buddhist or even knew anything about it.  By that time, my husband had been going through his own spiritual journey, studying heavy ancient texts and learning about the mystery cults and ancient Egyptian studies. It's pretty safe to say that we have very open minds where spirituality is concerned.  For me, it has to be something that speaks to me.  The fact that Buddhism, as I understand it, does not have a deity, but focuses on cultivating our own selves to the greater good of everyone, it spoke to me. It chose me.  I have meditated in the simplest form, and had uncovered information and found answers to questions that have helped me move forward.  I don't pretend to be great at meditation, I don't go into the astral plane or have out-of-body experiences, it is more like a semi-dream state where I am able to ask questions and get answers either in pictures or imagining a figure there speaking with me, sometimes a monk, sometimes a shadow or a homeless person.  I don't choose it, I just let my mind be open.  I haven't meditated in a long time, and when I used to, I was always asking questions about my weight and the things in my childhood  that were holding me back.  Then, as I finished up my Bachelor's Degree, I found myself picking up self-help books to help me stop fighting myself with dieting.  Among them was the book "It Didn't Start with You" by Mark Wolynn.  This book has been equally challenging and rewarding, making me think about my ancestors and the traumas my family has gone through.  The reason it matters is because science has proven that emotional footprints are left in our DNA and passed down for generations.  For instance, if there was a family trauma, say a death of a son or sibling, and the family doesn't deal with it, the next generation continues to carry that trauma, and the next as well.  For instance, my mother and his siblings were subjected to physical and verbal abuse (and maybe sexual abuse, though I don't have the whole story because her family never talks about anything).  It was the big, dark secret that no one ever talked about.  Long after my parents were divorced and I was an adult my sister relayed what my dad shared with her about my mother's past.  It wasn't pretty.  She never talked about it, but it was clear that she was not a very happy person.  She passed on a bit of her inherited darkness, not just from her own experience, but that of my grandmother.  Anyway, this book opened up that dark door of examining the things in my family history that I react to by rote, things that revolve around guilt and shame and feeling like sharing emotions is bad or a sign of weakness.  I can't read it too often or for too long at a time because it can be emotionally draining.  I mention this book because I feel like it was instrumental in what happened to me a few days ago, even though it has been a few months since I have read any pages in that book.
From what little I know, I think the concept of angels is pretty well-accepted.  Where it gets a little murky is in what it represents or the purpose of angels.  Some explanations I have seen are that a loved one is watching over us, or that from before our own conception, there is already an angel or group of angels assigned to watch over us and guide us.  In some cultures or religions, our ancestors who have passed send us messages through visions or through deep focus and guide us.  In that manner, there is a fine line between what is comfortably coined as 'paranormal' and religious.  My family had a number of strange things happen to us in the house where I grew up, including both my sister and I, at separate times in our lives, having something sit on the bed with us while we were sleeping.  She felt she could see two things in the room with her, I couldn't see anything, but felt the bed moving.  Sometimes I felt like my cat had plunked itself next to me when she was not in the room, or feeling like the entire foot of my bed was being compressed as if someone were sitting on the end of the bed.  It was very unsettling to me until I heard a psychic explain that when that happens it is typically our spirit guide trying to get our attention or checking up on us to make sure we're OK.  I have always taken psychics with a huge grain of salt, but it did make me feel better to think that it was really something positive trying to reach out to me for wholesome, good reasons.  I didn't buy into the whole white-light-winged-angel idea of a guide, but I sort of kept that idea with me, as this type of bed movement thing happened to me a handful of times throughout my adult life.  It's not too far-fetched to think of someone having energy after they've gone, or someone wanting to protect us or warn us.  Those who have loved ones who've passed often visit their grave site, have conversations with them, and leave gifts, even imagine them there going through their day with them.  Now just imagine that you are having that type of relationship with an energy you are not familiar with.
A nights ago, after a nice relaxing bath, I was sitting on my bed putting lotion on and someone came and sat on my bed behind me.  I was very startled at first, I could catch a glimpse of them out of the corner of my eye.  It was not a white-light-glowing-angel type thing, but a darker figure.  There were no words.  I sat there, petrified and she moved only slightly.  I did not dare look at her, but in my mind I already formed her image.  Even though she was not warm or light, I knew she was there to bring me a message, but I also knew she wasn't going to speak or tell me what it was that I was supposed to do.  How do spirit guides and angels give us their message?  Through signs.  I know it takes patience but I asked for a sign before I went to bed last night and received a small sign that is only a tiny clue to something else.  My husband, who has already delved way deeper into this kind of thing than I ever will, said that I was only able to see her because my mind is in a place where I am opening, awakening, and that a big change is about to happen.  He did a Tarot reading and it said a very similar thing, that I am opening and that I will face many emotions that will help me grow and change.  I am looking for signs everywhere, looking for meaning.  I have been seeing so many birds lately, crows and now for the second time in a week, dead sparrows in my path.  I don't have the background to interpret any of it so I have to rely on the internet or my husband, who has a library of books that cover things my brain can't comprehend or doesn't have the patience to try.  So I feel that, even though I've only seen her once (my husband says they don't often make themselves seen except if they really need your attention) I feel like she's with me and I so desperately want to ask who needs my help, is it for me or for someone else?  Is my mother ill?  Is my grandmother wanting to be remembered?  Does Lisa need me to mourn her so she can move on?
So, for me, one who loves to communicate and talk, it is so difficult to try and wait and interpret signs.  One thing is for sure, it has taken my mind off the whole weight issue, as this seems so much bigger than a silly thing like fat.  I won't share every sign or detail, as I don't generally like to talk about such things in any great depth, but I just wanted to share because I feel so shocked and amazed that I actually have and feel my guide around me and I think whatever wisdom it will share is going to be profoundly healing and helpful.  Change does scare me sometimes, but I think I am at a place in my life where I am ready to accept it and invite it in. Whether or not you think I'm nuts, thanks for reading.  If you have had a similar thing happen, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Friday, November 25, 2016

I Ate the Pie and it was GOOD

I have a love-hate relationship with Black Friday.  My hate is that I work retail, selling eyeglasses in a health clinic, so it is really unpredictable how busy it will be.  I always imagine it being so busy that I don't get a lunch break, and can't keep up with the work flow or get out on time, but it is rarely like that in reality.  The build-up in my mind is often met with extreme boredom and restlessness when instead of being uber busy I am literally waiting for the rush that never comes.  I don't imagine eyeglasses are something on the top of people's mind on Black Friday, especially because it's a gift you don't wrap up, but give to yourself.   And, I imagine people spend enough money on Christmas shopping early in the morning and are broke or exhausted by the time I open up at 8:30.  I enjoy a slower work pace, in general, so I can handle a trickle of people throughout the day.  No matter what, it is FRIDAY and I am looking forward to having a weekend of relaxation. 
The thing I love about Black Friday is that the stress and obligation of Thanksgiving is over.  Stress over food.  What will I eat?  What should I eat?  What did I eat?  Food, food, food.  A holiday focused on food.  Wait, that's all holidays in one aspect or another, right?  I told myself I wasn't going to stress out about food and I didn't really.  I have been a lot more lax this week in general, but I did eat a little cheese before heading to my mother-in-law's house to hopefully help me contain myself.  I ate turkey, a little stuffing (because it also had meat in it, which I'm not a huge fan of) about half a cup of potatoes with gravy, a dinner roll and some raw veggies.  And I had pumpkin pie for dessert.  Man, that tasted super sweet and the texture was divine.  I love pumpkin pie.  A while after eating that, I had a butterscotch spice cookie.  It was overly sweet to me, and the sugars left a globby thick phlem at the back of my throat, which I really dislike.  Then, as I was sitting at the table drinking ice water like I was recovering from a week in the desert, I started getting a strange jittery feeling, the way you feel when you are sick.  I was feeling fine otherwise, so I attributed it to my body reacting to the sugars.  Yuck!  I hated how that felt.  Despite that, which went away within about a half hour, a few hours later at home, I had another half piece of pumpkin pie that was sent with us.  It was just as tastey.  All that food sat like a brick in my stomach, something I haven't felt since I started eating lighter, and it really made my stomach feel bad this morning.  So, I am really happy Thanksgiving is over.  And this one in particular taught me that, even though it tastes good, my body physically doesn't like eating that stuff; I feel much better when I don't.  Not only did it make me feel bad physically, but emotionally this morning, as I caught myself being harsh in my head as I looked in the mirror.  Days like these, I just want to be comfortable, to hide and rest and not think or do.  Usually it takes a day like that to make me regroup and reset and get ready to start fresh. 
At very least, I think I am figuring out what I can eat without triggering cravings for sweets, and what makes me feel OK and what doesn't.  The struggle to find healthy, pallatable foods every week continues.  When I go shopping, and am surrounded by all the healthy choices I could ever want, I get excited about being healthy, but during the week, at work especially, it is hard to eat some of the things I thought I wanted, and the cleaner the food, the fast I get sick of it.  I just need to figure some things out menuwise.  Sometimes I wish I could just pop a "food pill" and not have to worry about eating.  Then again, there are "diets" built around deciding for you (like meal replacement shakes).  I can see how that'd get old really fast.  I just have to be creative and put time into finding some good recipes.  There's so much out there that it gets overwhelming really fast, but I think I am going to try and incoorporate more veggies again next week.  I don't think my last effort was a fair test, because I was suffering from PMS at the time.  I am also thinking of getting up at 4:30am instead of 5am to get some sort of exercise in.  My husband is awake using the stationary bike at that time of the morning, so that won't be an option except on his days off, but there are plenty of other things I can do like dance, strength training, stretching/yoga or a DVD program.  I know it will make me feel better physically and mentally, especially with my snow anxiety.  It's an ideal right now, not something I think is going to happen immediately.  Like my eating, I am not going to stress out about it or feel bad if I don't do it.  I have to keep reminding myself this isn't about my appearance, it's about my health and my longterm happiness.  Stress does not make me happy or healthy. 
Well, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and here's to the start of another weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Stabby

I took a little break from blogging as my PMS flared and made me very stabby this time.  I didn't feel like writing or thinking or any of it.  I just kept going along with the plan, eating foods that I was, in fact, very tired of by the end of the week, hoping it would make a difference in how I felt. I feel like the weekend was one big attempt at making myself feel better and, as usual, there was a mix of good and not great food choices going on.  I am still not going crazy, most of the extras I ate was food that was already on plan, but I ate more than I needed of it.  Cheese is a weakness of mine, and much cheese was indeed consumed.  Nevertheless, I made it through a blustery weekend relatively unscathed.  My monthly always makes me feel super worn-out (I know, I always complain of it, but it is even worse during the days leading up to the main event) so even though my husband and I got a little time to go off to our favorite penninsula by ourselves, to have a little meal and go to our favorite winery, I was happy we didn't make an entire day of things, and that there wasn't a ton of activity involved.  We did finally get a wine rack and a 6 bottles to fill it, and wine was had of course, but not as much as it could have been.  I had a couple glasses on Saturday because I know if I have more than 2 I feel aweful the next day. 
Work has been getting progressively busier as we head to optical Hell Week (last week of the year, when everyone tries to rush and spend their remaining flex dollars by buying glasses).  Actually, the entire month of December is typically one big ball of mass over-stimulation highlighted by being so busy that I end up missing snacks, which makes me all the stabbier.  Then, there's my whole loathing of snow which is now about to make regularly scheduled appearances in the forecast for say, the next 5 months or so.  Yeck.  I am noticing that my mood is slipping to a darker place and I am going to have to work to stay positive the next couple months.  Actually, as much as I hate snow, once we are buried in it and it becomes expected, I end up dealing with it, but the dreading beforehand actually makes me miserable.  Instead, I should be appreciating every day that isn't snowing.  I think I will develope a plan this winter, for helping me overcome my prejudice against snow.  It will take some work, for sure, but I realize that being miserable half the year is on me, and only I can fix it.  For all I know, I could be living here my whole life and the thought of being miserable that much is maddening. 
This morning as I was getting ready for work I was very aware of how negative my body image was.  Sure, I'm bloated from the monthly, and I'm sure drinking extra wine isn't the best for me, but I was considering wearing a different work shirt today, blue instead of my trademark black, but when I tried two different blue shirts (different fabrics) I was shockingly aware of how dissatisfied I am with the way I look.  It made me sad at first, but it reminded me that I haven't been pampering myself as much lately.  I have been forgetting to make my lunch which leaves me scrambling to find something to bring (cheese pizza hot pocket today, yikes) and I've been forgetting to take my vitamins and I've been feeling dehydrated.  I am thinking I may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or perhaps my vitamin D may be low again, which makes me feel drained and sad too.  Who knows.  It's all speculation at this point.  My family and I will have a multitude of appointments in the near future, I don't really think I need to add more to them.  I know for a fact that morning exercise makes me feel much better throughout the day, and even makes dealing with my anxiety about driving in snow much more tolerable, so I think that is going to be my best plan of action.  I need to be active in order to feel better consistently.  It will just mean getting up earlier, and that's a mental hurdle but not insurrmountable. 
I feel like I'm just rambling on about nothing today.  Maybe it's best to end here.  For those of you who celebrate, Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Clean Eating and the Dreaded Scale

11/15/16 Forgot to publish yesterday.  Story of my life!
On a whim, I stepped on a scale today at work.  I just wanted to know where I was because I have had a few moments of doubt lately.  Not that I don't think how I am going about this isn't way healthier than in the past, but just...I have felt that maybe that concrete way of tracking progress was missing.  I am at 191, with a random, mid-day weigh in.  Before I started cleaning things up I saw an equally random 203 on the scale.  I can tell in certain areas, actually a little bit all over, but especially my face, shoulders and stomach.  I do have to remind myself that this will be a slow, life-long process, not just a get-down-to-a-certain-weight-then-maintain type of thing.  I don't have a "goal weight" or a pants size I want to get to, I am going to let my body rest where it naturally wants to with the food I'm eating and the amount of activity I am doing.  I am reconnecting with my body in a way, listening to its signals.  Like today, it is telling me I didn't hit my mark with water consumption yesterday and I feel like I need to drink oceans to make up for it.  Especially with the heat on now, it makes my entire body feel dry.  I notice things more now, hunger signals, even signals to eat more some days and eat lighter others, and get more nutrients.  I am really enjoying my mexican chopped salad I'm having for lunch this week.  It is loaded with good stuff, it looks good and tastes great.
I put a little bit of seasoning on it (Perfect Pinch Mexican spice) and a dollop of sour cream, some Taco Bell verde sauce and some guacamole if I'm feeling punchy.  Very satisfying, the fiber from the black beans and the fats keep me feeling full longer.  It tastes good as is, but I might flavor some meatless beef crumbles with taco seasoning and add it in sometime.  It saved me from being so bored with the same old salad.  I do get bored of salads fairly easily so I am going to have to rotate things by the week I think.  How often do you change your menu?  My husband can go years at a time eating the same thing for lunch, then hit a wall and switch.  I can usually go for 1-2 weeks before I need a break from a certain food.  Figuring out what to eat can be such a chore for me that I almost dread it, but it's a necessary evil.
Well, after being 2 days into lower carb and higher vegetables, I can't really say if I feel that much different.  Granted, I wasn't going crazy with carbs before, I was having a couple more servings of grains per day.  I generally feel good either way, but I think feeling tired is just a normal part of my life now.  I am suspecting it's hormonal, I am taking a supplement to help, but I just figure, it is what it is.  It will be interesting to see where my bloodwork is next month though.  I have been having trouble keeping my vitamin D3 levels up to normal levels.  It sucks getting old, eh?
If nothing else, I am getting more nutrients in my diet.  Let's hope that's making my heart happy!  Now if I could just commit as easily to exercise...



Is it Drafty in Here? I need to Vent

If you work in customer service you know how easily a good day can be washed away by one customer.  And once I get into that irritated or stressed out mood, it seems like everyone starts making demands or complaining about things I can't fix and it snowballs until all I want to do is comfort-eat and play Angry Birds on my phone.  AKA, numb myself, check out. 
Today was a test of my patience for sure.  I was so happy when my dog decided to hurry up his bathroom situation today, then I got a little guff from my husband when I exclaimed how cold it is.  He seems to get irritated anytime I speak unfavorably about the weather, ever since we ended up cancelling our move to Sacramento.  It's like I don't get to have an opinion about the weather that he was well aware I despise of.  Even if I casually mention, "It's chilly today!" not to complain but to acknowledge that the weather has shifted, make conversation, let him know what it's like out there before he heads off to work in shorts when it's only 36 degrees out.  Always pushback lately, like I'm wrong for feeling anything but pure joy that I have to deal with cold, snow and ice.  Bah!  I let it go, deciding that it is something he's working through, but it does annoy me. 
Getting my kids and myself ready is always a challenge that ends in me repeating, "OK, we gotta go, we don't want to miss the bus.  OK, I can't be late to work, let's go!"  It seems like no matter how early we get ready, somehow we barely make it to the bus stop on time every single day.  It ruffles my feathers so deeply.  I hate being late.  I hate the mere idea of being late and what it says about me.  Today I had a work meeting scheduled to start about 5 minutes after my son's bus picks him up, which is OK since the site that we meet at is only a few blocks away from the bus stop.  I make it work.  But today, my older son, the one who walks to school, forgot his backpack at home, so rather than mess up his day, I took him back home to get his backpack, all the while my mind is stressing out so bad, but I didn't want him to see it so I played it off like it was no big deal.  I got to the meeting a little late, but so did everyone else.  My boss was a half hour late due to his garage door falling off onto his car!  It was such a bizarre start to my morning, and I got to my office late because the meeting ran late, and my whole day has felt slightly off-kilter.  Despite all of that, I was in a pretty good mood.  Even when people started piling up with demands, little things, fix this, change that, why don't you take my insurance? Meanwhile I was trying to help a really picky person pick out eyeglasses and she hates glasses so it took her nearly an hour just to choose a frame.  Because I work alone, I had to leave her several times to help other people with their repairs and pick ups and such.  She did eventually order and went about her merry way.  That whole business delayed my lunch and  I was getting hangry.  Then the sweet nurse who covers my lunch break had to come interrupt my lunch to help her with something she was unfamiliar with in selling a particular item. 
The really really stressful part of my day came shortly after my lunch.  The patient that I have spent hours trying to please.  She doesn't want to feel her glasses on her face.  Meaning, she doesn't want them to touch her face, yet she doesn't want them to be loose.  Hahahahaha.  Back and forth and back and forth, she doesn't realize that a hunk of metal can't be bent to stay in place a fraction of a millimeter but it's too high, it's too low, it's too tight, it's too loose.  UGH!  I have been doing this for nearly 16 years and few people have driven me out of my gourd like this lady.  Let me say this for all to see, if you are worried about the way your nosepads look aesthetically, wear contact lenses instead.  That's my beef.  After about 20 minutes of making adjustments, which is a new record for the shortest stay she's had in my office I think, she left and I was already really edgy.  The next customer who came in was trying to blame me for his broken glasses because I had adjusted them for him last month, and I explained that the place where they broke is not a spot where we'd adjust them, our tools fit in a different area.  People are too ashamed to admit what really happened to their glasses, and let me tell you, your optician knows when you are lying, and it makes us more irritated when you lie than when you just fess up.  If you sat or stepped on your glasses, that sucks, accidents happen, you are in a bind let me help you out.  If you lie about it I will point out the way I can tell you are lying.  My tools don't fit at that spot, the metal is stressed/cracked, looks like this is really bent, etc.  Why can't people just be honest?!  This same man got into a conversation about insurance and how his wife's exam was denied by their insurance last time (the insurance company bears the same name as my company's name so people assume I am somehow responsible or have the authority to change things for them) and how that's dispicable.  I explained, as calmly as my now-over-peeved self could manage, that I have nothing to do with insurance or exams, and sometimes you have to pay stuff out of pocket before they'll pay, and I am not involved with any of that since my department does not take insurance.  He irritatedly left, unsatisfied, even though he didn't come in to complain or solve his insurance issue, for some reason he felt I was who he was going to vent to.  I kept my class as much as I could, but once he left and I got into my work area (off the salesfloor) I was so stressed out with how the day was going that I wanted to eat.  At work I only have access to healthy foods, the lunch and snacks I pack, maybe some peanut butter in my cupboard or a spare protein bar I keep on hand in case I forget to pack my lunch, or an extra serving of macadamia nuts.  So for me to think about stress eating work, it doesn't mean chocolate or cupcakes, my brain was focused on my protein bar, but when I thought about it, knowing I'd just eaten lunch about an hour before, I focused on how my stomach felt (not stuffed but sastisfied) and how it might feel afterword (maybe a little too full, maybe a little bloated) and I just decided blogging would be a much better way to release some stress.  So, sorry but thank you for letting me vent.  I am happy I passed this stress test without eating when I wasn't hungry.  It wouldn't have been the end of the world if I had, I have low-carb protein bars that taste fine, but they sometimes irritate my stomach. 
I have been getting hungry a lot more frequently since I changed to eating less grains this week, I am a little surprised how much of a difference it makes in that area.  I know it's a good sign that my body is using what I'm fueling it with.  Still no difference in my level of tiredness, but hormonal balance is shifting a bit as my Monthly will be starting in a few days.  That could be part of why I'm not handling stress as well today.  I am happy that I haven't had any real cravings this month.  I don't know if that's from getting off sweets or from the procedure I had done in September or both.  I am happy though, and never want to be back in that whirlwind of want.  Even when I was trying to do the whole "Deregulating of food" or the anti-diet where I would make every single food allowable in order to release it's draw, if I was eating sweets (which I was, DAILY) it kept me in the loop of craving more and more sweets.  That's how I went from a fairly steady weight in the low to mid 180's and balooned up over 200 lbs.  I wasn't surprised, but it has been a number of years since I'd seen the scale climb over 200 so it was a bit of a wakeup call.
I can't say that I haven't thought about my little dance with the scale yesterday.  This morning, as I was getting ready for work I must have tried on every work-appropriate outfit I own on, and it seemed nothing looked good.  I settled for the new green sweaterdress with leggings, but I was self-conscious about the fit and how much my fat rolls show, but I did it anyway, telling myself I was going to have to buck up because the way I'm doing this is not a fast track to loosing a bunch of weight.  I am slowly wittling away at layers of demanding customers, family stress, childhood mommy and daddy issues, and low self esteem.  Like making my own path through a mountain, it will take time, but everytime I chip away another piece I can see a little more daylight.  Can you hear me chipping?  Chip! chip!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Restful Weekend. Finally

The weekend was one of much-needed rest, downtime.  It is always bittersweet, feeling like I need and deserve a break, but the guilt of not doing all the things I usually do and seeing the house messier than I like it because I took a break, it depresses me a little.
Things I did:
Spent a lot of time on my phone:
   Watching the protests
    Researching groups
    Signing petitions
   Watching Michael Moore interviews
    Finding my state and local democratic offices and groups and joining
    2.5 mile walk with my dog
    Bathe my dog
   Minimal housework
    Mud mask facial and hot bath
    Lots of stretching
    Bought a new printer and new calendar
    Made a couple easyand clean recipes for work
  Ummm, that was about it.  I really rested a lot.  My house shows it, but I do feel a little rejuvenated in mind and body.  This election stuff has really gotten to me, I am getting a little wrapped up in it and I'm surprised how much I care about it, it's not very characteristic of me.  I do think being involved more will be good for my kids to see.  I have always been standing just outside that circle of people who are doing things, afraid to jump in and roll up my sleeves.  Now I am going to take steps to make sure I put my money where my mouth is and get involved.  It's a crazy time for our country but good things are coming of it.  People are becoming more educated on how politics work in this country, learning who their representatives are and the roll they play, and rising up.  Its sad that it had to turn violent in some areas, but people want their voices heard.  Today as I sat looking at more stuff, joining more democratic groups, it dawned on me that my intended career change to helping less fortunate people, either with special needs, disabilities, financial or housing struggles, or aging; the jobs in those fields don't pay very well (at least the ones I've seen posted with wage in my area).  Maybe I can volunteer in those fields and find a job in another field.  Not that I mind what I am doing now, I like being an optician, but I am feeling a little burnt-out on it after nearly 16 years in the field.  I'm not sure how long my current passion for politics will last, but it did make me take note of it. 
All that stuff aside, despite feeling pretty relaxed this weekend, I found myself having that feeling of wanting to eat when I wasn't hungry.  I solved that by eating popcorn (not the worst thing as far as snacks go), cheese cheese and more cheese (have I told you how much I love cheese?) yogurt and some Doritos.  I even finally tried a little bit of sweets.  I had 5 gummy bears and one peppermint oreo cookie on Saturday, fairly close together, and 4 more gummy bears on Sunday.  I did not notice any cravings afterword, so that was a good test.  Not that I plan on eating that stuff with reckless abandon, but it was interesting to see that I can handle a little bit, in the instances that I am faced with a wicked craving.  Fortunately I haven't had any cravings that are not maneagable so far.  With this new, low-stress approach to eating, I don't really worry about having something like chips or candy every once in a while.  That is how people eat, isn't it?  Or how we are told we should eat, healthy most of the time, with the allowance of a special treat here and there. 
My menu last week left a lot to be desired in the way of produce, so I upped the ante in a huge way this week, adding egg muffins with bell pepper and tons of mushrooms, sugar snap peas with white bean dip as a snack, a mexican chopped salad for lunches (greens, black beans, corn, spinach, red onion, tomato and guac with a touch of mexican spice), veggie burger with a whopping serving of spinach and tomatoe for dinner and apples with peanut butter for my bedtime snack.  I have greek yogurt still in place for a second work snack too, I like it and it is convenient.  So, it is a more thoughtful menu, more nutrition and less grains.  I want to see if having less complex carbs makes me have more energy.  I have been tested for gluten intolerance and it came out negative, so I know I'm not sensitive to gluten, but I think I am sensitive to carbs in a way that too many makes me feel tired, even if they are complex.  So this week with lower carbs is a bit of an experiment.  I think experimenting is crucial to long-term success.  Had I questioned the psychology of dieting sooner, I probably would be leading a normal, healthy life by now instead of worrying about how to undo the damage I've done and stave off long-term health risks.  But, what I'm doing is working.  My clothes and rings are getting looser and I can see my stomach slowly flattening.  It feels great to be having things moving in the right direction again.  Crossing my legs is also getting a little easier.  I am not just flipping my leg in place like I used to at 152 pounds, but I don't have to hold my leg to get it to stay in place anymore either, so it feels like slow and welcome progress.  I will use my yearly physical exam, the bloodwork and blood pressure as measures as to how I'm doing, since my health is truly what's driving this bus (this time).  However my numbers look on Dec 15 when I go for my physical, I will try to improve them by Dec 2017.  I will be turning 45 at the end of 2017,  I imagine where I'm at at that point will be a good indication of how the rest of my years will go.  An interesting side note, my doctor that I had the past few years moved away and I was left to choose another doctor.  I searched a lot and found a female doctor who is overweight.  I feel a little ashamed to admit it, but I felt like being that she is also overweight she might be more compassionate and understanding.  Is that lame?  I made the appointment a couple months ago, and just really didn't want to hear a lecture on how my BMI is too high and I need to eat more vegetables and exercise more.  To be honest, I haven't heard that lecture in quite some time, and I find it strange.  Maybe because I go to doctors who work for the same company as I do, or maybe it's just how our doctors handle things, to not be offensive.  It is a touchy subject. 
Anyway, this post has rambled on too long and doesn't really say much.  Maybe I should practice more abbreviated writing, but maybe, who cares.   It's my place to express my thoughts, and I have a lot of them apparently.  I appreciate you for stopping by to join in the madness!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Little Wish-Fulfiller

Last night I did successfully do a few of the things on my "makes me feel good" list.  I snuggled with my dog, took a hot bath, did some stretching and watched an episode of The Office with my husband before bed.  While those things did make me feel good, my comment to my husband was what made me feel even better, "I think I am going to make this Saturday a veg-out day.  Rent a couple movies, and just plain chill out."  He said he thought that was a good idea with all the madness that is headed our way with the move, the holidays and the busiest month of the year at my work.  I will be turning 44 at the end of December too.  Gosh, it looks different in print than it does when I say it in passing.  Still, I feel young at heart so it truly is just a number. 
I did find a few yoga poses to try last night, and they were fine, but I going to have to put some more time into finding something that I like as far as poses that make me feel good and move at a pace that my body needs.  I have a DVD that has some great poses on, but it moves too quickly from one pose to the next, just enough time for me to sense that a spot is tight and needs a good stretch.  I could always pause in between poses, what a pain.  I know there's a  million Youtube videos, it's just that it takes so long to watch and try them.  Anyone have a good, gentle and slow yoga video or DVD they can recommend?  Advice is apprciated!
Today as I was driving to work I became aware that I feel sad today, and I don't really have a reason that I can think of.  Could be hormonal or the seasons changing or just being tired.  I think I need some kind of change.  I have been feeling this way for a bit.  It could be a major life change like a new job, or something small like a different haircut.  Maybe I'm just restless.  My biggest anxiety-invoking thing is about to happen (snow) and I will be forced to deal with it and it will remind me of how I was almost out of the snow permanently, and how my move to Sacramento didn't happen, and how I feel cheated of my dream.  Whoa is me.  I need to meditate on it.  But when I think of these things today, I don't really feel an emotional charge from them in a way that would indicate that they are the cause of my suffering today.  I am just being mindful of it, whatever it is, it will come to the surface and I'll deal with it. 
On the positive side, we had a ladybug in our house today.  I have always loved them, and I am always curious about symbolism so when I looked it up, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they symbolize luck, particularly in the way of new ventures and wishes being fulfilled. 
We saw a ton of them at the beach last weekend, floating on leaves in the water, sunning themselves on the sand, and even this one hiding in a shell.  It may seem silly, but whenever I start to see a lot of a certain thing, I take it as nature trying to send me a message.  The fact that ladybugs are a happy, positive sign acutally makes me feel good.  While all of the symbolism pages had roughly the same meaning for ladybug symbolism, one went further to say that they are the symbol that you are about to get past a struggle you've been having and that something that seemed unclear or acted as an obstacle will be removed.  Another said that it is believed if you tell a ladybug your wish, it will come true.  What a lovely belief!  I'm glad that little ladybug decided to come into our house and warm itself.  Although I already feel fortunate, a little luck and clearing of obstacles would be even better.  I did buy a lottery ticket yesterday, so you never know right? Ha ha.  The only way winning the lottery would make me happy is if it meant I could be a Snowbird.  I don't think that's in the cards for me, ladybug or not.  Guess I'll have to learn to make my own happiness.  Maybe that's the secret the ladybug is working on for me, the gift is in learning that we make our own happiness.  That's a pretty precious gift to recieve, isn't it?   
Here's to ladybugs and Fridays and the potential to veg out a little!  Have a good weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Time for Me

In the past few days I have been struggling with old thoughts that are seeming to come back as if by habit; thoughts about dieting and "working harder" because I don't look a certain way.  I have been disgusted and bothered by my reflection and by the fact that I am eating a little better but don't seem to be moving anywhere.  It is the old fashioned diet mentality, and it is a slippery slope in the opposite direction of where I want to be.  In my habitual mind I am whining because I feel like if I got on the scale, I'd still be the same weight or maybe 3-5 pounds less than where I was when I started cleaning things up a handful of weeks ago.  My calm, settled, reasonable mind reminds me that I did not start eating better to look a certain way, I did it to help myself avoid having a heart attack.  And, I did want to move easier, have less aches and pains, and breathe easier.  I am not going to say it has been real dramatic changes, but I do feel like I've made definite progress in those areas.  And, I do look a little better than I did when I was eating all those sweets. Still, part of me can't help wondering if I am eating too many complex carbs.  For instance, this weeks' menu is: bagel with cream cheese, macadamia nuts, homemade bean and beef-substitue burritos with cheese and taco sauce, light greek yogurt cup, veggie burger without bun, and yogurt cup.  As far as South Beach goes, this is perfectly acceptable, but I have less energy and am seeing less results as when I was eating much lower carb.  While I don't think it is sustainable for me to be super-low carb always, I am wondering if I need less carbs than I'm currently getting; wonder if there is a magic threshold, a carb line which I should stay on one side of.  The other part of me thinks that tinkering with what is working and easy to sustain might make me a little nuts and hurtle me back into hardcore diet mentality which always sets me up to fail. 
So, there is the place I'm in.  I wish I had more energy.  I think the only way that is going to change is if I get the blood flowing in the morning, which is going to mean getting up even earlier than I already do (5am).  There are logistics to be worked out with my husband getting up at 4:15 or 4:30 as well, because he is usually on the stationary bike at that time, but right now I'm sort of in a place of taking back my space and time, making my own needs as important as everyone else's.  I have spent so much of my energy accommodating everyone else, at the expense of my own needs and wants, it's part of what makes me feel so worn out all the time.  If I don't take care of myself, all those people who count on me will be let down when I just can't do anymore. 
So I have a list of things that make me feel good or rejuvenate me and I want to work on at least one, but ideally as many as I can each day.
  • Deep, long stretches
  • Strength training
  • Cardio
  • Writing
  • Hot bath
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Lymphatic drainage massage
  • Meditation with breathing
  • Having meaningful conversations with my family
  • Snuggling with my dog
  • Facial mud mask
There will be more I'm sure, but at least these are some things I can do to start.  I think it's a good combination of phsyical and mental things I can do to make me feel better on a daily basis.  I also know that I need to add more produce to my diet, it might be one of the reasons I had more energy;  while I was eating lower carb, I was using a lot more produce as a base for my food, zucchini noodles, salads, etc.  I have gotten a little more lackidasial about things as I find convenient ways to get protein without having to put much effort in.  I am determined to find some recipes that are tastey, healthy and include more veggies.  That will be my task/goal to complete this winter, so that by summer I'll have an awesome arsenal of recipes to fall back on. Plus, my kids like to weigh in and rate each recipe, it's a fun way for them to be eating something healthier and get a say in what I make. 
I did buy a Fitbit Zip on Monday and have been using it as religiously as I did my Pebble pedometer I used to wear.  I clip it on every day and take it off at bedtime.  Unless I'm working on a specific goal, I don't pay it much attention.  Honestly, I got it for work, because part of my annual review is my participation in Wellness activities.  My tracking device reports directly to my work website so they can see that I am "participating" in healthy activity.  I get monetary rewards for certain amounts of activity too, but that's not a driving factor for me.  It helps my hourly wage go up in the long run.  I do sometimes look at my numbers out of interest, like the crazy increase of steps daily since getting a dog, but for the most part, I treat it like and invisible accessory.  But maybe it's time to start using it to its full potential and challenging myself.  I'm still in a place of not knowing whether my ideas are coming from residual "diet brain" or if they are genuine in my goal of feeling better and maintaining a certain level of health and mobility as I age. 
December is going to be an even busier month for us, with another move, but at least where we are moving is literally across the parking lot.  I'm not discounting having to lug everything down the stairs we have now, but at least our new apartment is a lower unit without stairs.  It means I have to be more commited to using the bike and working out my lower body so I don't annihilate my knees going up and down the stairs all those times.  I also have my annual physical scheduled in December, and I want to come out with sparkling bloodwork this time.  Last year my triglycerides were a little higher than I like, I'm hoping the lower carb eating will help to bring them down to normal levels.  I know, I will also be weighed at this appointment, at my last appointment on Oct 3, I weighed 199 lbs.  At the time, this was a loss for me since in September I was over 200.  I will admit that it will be interesting to see what my weight is next month, after a couple months what I would consider "mostly normal/decent" food choices.  I am tempted to weigh myself before then, really tempted, but I think I am going to try and divert my attention back to feeling better and making things easier on my body in the long run.  The number on the scale doesn't matter if in ten or fifteen years my hips have gotten so weak that I need a hip replacement or am left needing to use a walker or cane to get around.  I need to refocus on what is important for my quality of life, instead of thinking about how I look in the mirror or my percieved manner in which others will judge me based on how I look.  None of that matters at the root of things. And it's not just mobility that matters but getting rid of some of my aches.  Many of them are caused by my need to stretch and strengthen so things are in proper alignment, hips,back,knees,feet,shoulders; everything that hurts on me relies on proper alignment, and I sleep in a weird position, so I am feeling it more as I age.  So, my goal is to be proactive in hopes of preventing more issues with joints.  That is a big goal, but as I have often heard in regards to college taking so long to complete; that time is going to pass anyway, you might just as well fill it in a productive manner. 
Now it is time for me to go get my stretch on.  Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

On Suffering

Two posts in one day, because lately it seems like I can never finish one the day I start it.  Well, to be fair, last night was a little chaotic with the election, plus my father-in-law visited for a few hours, then we were watching the election results as they came in.  I will say my piece about it and then I will leave it.  I did not vote for Trump, and I am really disappointed and shocked that things turned out the way they did, but I think both candidates handled the situation gracefully last night.  In the end, no matter who is in that position, they will be put through scrutiny and people will look on them with approval or disapproval.  One of the great things about our country is that the president cannot just make a rash decision and just carry it out on his own.  Like all disappointments, for those of us who didn't get our wish, we will adapt and move on, the sooner we do so the better.  I am feeling better about it now than I was last night or even this morning.  Oh well.  In four years we will be doing this all over again!  That makes me exhausted just thinking about it!
Today I wore another one of my new sweater dresses, and it is less flattering than yesterday's dress in my opinion, because it clings more to my not-proud-of places on my stomach.  When I decided to buy it, I had two things in my mind; One, that I will eventually lose weight and it will look better, and two, that I am going to try to judge myself less harshly and by buying and wearing these items, I am sending myself a message that I am lovable, attractive, professional and just generally wonderful no matter what I look like. 
The fact that I'm wearing a dress that makes me a little self-conscious on a day where my spirits are a little droopy, might not be the best choice, but I am going to keep my chin up and remember who I am and what I am made of.  A really good thing is that I have not had any desire to comfort-eat.  This feeling is one that would have made me do so in the past.  This is how I know I am healing.  In my learning (though I admit it is small) of the Buddhist philosophy, I am most drawn to the concept of letting go of emotional attachment to things that will change.  (ahem! Everything changes) and I came across a picture on Pinterest that really reaches me:
Having emotions over things serve a purpose, to deepen our understanding, but if we don't eventually let it go we will suffer.  That is my goal, to begin learning, understanding, then letting go of what makes me suffer.  So many times in life we fail to realize that the choice is ours.  Life will happen to us, much of it we cannot control, but what we internalize and feel about it is a choice we make.  If I continue to blame my parents/childhood for my emotional eating or blame the food industry for making our food so horrible, or blaming society for putting pressure on women to look like emaciated pre-pubescent girls, I will never feel inner peace.  And without that, I am reacting to something I believe I have no control over.  I am going to search for that inner peace.  It hides in a quiet place, something I haven't been making a priority lately, but something whose needs have been quietly making themselves known.  Meditation, focus, awareness, lightness of spirit, easy breath and a release of tension.  I feel better just saying the words.  Maybe it's finally time to put them into practice. 
However you feel about the election results, and wherever you are on your journey, I wish you well and hope you find the peace we all seek.

Unexpected

As much as I love the idea of free time, when it comes around I end up feeling restless because there are just too many options and only so much times.  Yesterday, because I go to work at noon, I was left with a few hours to myself after getting the kids on the bus.  And for the first time in a long, long time, I did not have anything on my plate that needed to be tended to immediately, no appointments or special visits or needs to visit anywhere.  I spent some time snuggling with my dog while skimming Facebook and I realized I was bored.  So I asked myself what I really wanted and it turns out I really wanted shoes.  Shoes for work that are not $12 Walmart specials that are too big and not real attractive.  So I went to my favorite shop for shoes hoping that I would find a pair I like in my size, because being a 7 1/2 shoe, I often get left out in the cold.  As luck would have it, I found an awesome pair of Clarks in my size and they will look good whether I dress casual or dress up.  I even had a 50% off coupon so I got an amazing deal!  I was really happy and was thinking I should just go home instead of pressing my luck, but I wanted to check out Fitbits at Target.  The pedometer I wear is from the Pebble company, who was supposed to be going under at the end of the year, but apparently their site/support shut down suddenly so no information is being tracked right now.  And while I am not concerned with it for my own interest (too much) my work has a website that sync's up the data and I earn wellness points which equate to cash rewards and bigger raises each year.  I have a huge loathing of Target's clothing in general, but yesterday I found 4 items that I actually like, a pair of leggings that are actually not so long that they bunch up at the bottom (which is difficult when you are only 5ft tall), two sweater dresses and a flowing top.  All three tops/dresses work well with the leggings.  It was a battle to get me to say yes to them, I am horrible about clothes, especially if I am not getting them at a thrift shop.  I overanalyzed all my bumps and lumps and fat rolls that the dresses highlighted.  Then I had a magically moment of awareness of what I was doing, living for what is supposed to be instead of what is, delaying joy for what?  For a physique that doesn't meet someone else's ideal?  Psht.  Nonsense.  I like them so I bought them.  I may not be approached for a modeling gig next month, but compared to how I normally dress, it is a huge update/upgrade.  Today I wore one of them to work instead of my boring work shirt with plain black pants that I usually wear all fall and winter long.  I got a ton of compliments and I just feel really attractive.
So I have decided to proudly wear the dress(es) even though I'm a little self-conscious in them.  Sometimes stepping outside of our comfort zone is just what we need to get a little boost of confidence.  And that, is as attractive (if not more) than a body without lumps and bumps.  I may not be 'body positive' just yet, but I might be able to let some stuff go.  And I am thankful for that!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Giving Monday some Love

11-7-16. Oh Blogger, why didn't you post my blog?
So here we are back in the weekday groove!  Weekends, to me, are very much like food; I look forward to it as if it will be the best thing to ever happen to me, but when I'm in the moment, it seems like I can't get a good piece of that bliss I thought would be there.  I do enjoy sleeping in on the weekends, but lately I have been noticing that the amount of sleep I'd like to get makes me feel groggy and crabby when I actually get it.  So I've resigned myself to being OK with being up early'ish on the weekends.  Besides, I have way too much to get done to sleep til 8am, even though my mind tells me I should.  And that is part of my problem, I don't rest enough.  I will say though, my husband has been helping with the dog a lot lately and that has been so appreciated; makes me feel a little spoiled. 
My son and my boss both caught a nasty headcold on Friday, and I have been battling a scratchy throat, but I have really amped up my vitamin consumption, so I think I might have a chance at avoiding catching it.  Sometimes I wonder if it silly, the amount of vitamins I take every day, but at the medical clinic I work in, there is closed-circuit TV that runs health related news items throughout the day(Accent Health), and they stated that people who take a probiotic every day are 35% less likely to get a virus that they are exposed to.  I figured it can't hurt.  So, I am taking a ton of vitamin C plus a bunch of other vitamins daily, I have upped my dose of C for now until everyone is feeling better.  Working in a health facility, I am exposed to a plethora of germs; can't be too careful.
I really did make a feeble attempt at resting this weekend, but it didn't quite pan out.  Saturday was grocery day, no big deal, but it is time-consuming.  I wanted to get some clothes shopping done because I had an event that afternoon, but I didn't end up having enough time, so I tried on a few things from my closet and after feeling tired and unattractive, I put on something comfortable but slightly trendy and went.  My husband became a Shriner and I was there for the ceremony and got to put his fez on him.  I think it's beyond wonderful what the Shriners and their hospitals do for kids, and it was nice to be in the company of compassionate people.  I did feel a little out of place because some of the other women there were dressed up and I was dressed down a little, even wore Converse kicks, but I was told it was casual so I tried not to stress out.  I think some women just naturally like to dress up like that.  What mattered is that it meant a lot to my husband.  Here's a picture we took after:
After we got home, I was just feeling a little extra tired, felt like I was going to catch that cold.  I decided that pizza sounded good, so we ordered and I ate 2 pieces and some bread bites.  It was warm and gooey and good.  I ate more pizza throughout the weekend, spinach and feta, my favorite.  I didn't feel fantastic or bad, I didn't ruminate about it, I just ate it and moved on with life. 
Sundays I do like to try and relax.  I knew I had laudry to do, and I wanted to pick up the house since we'd had it looking so good last weekend and it was already looking a little crazy.  My husband gets wanderlust though, and I can't really blame him; the weather was absolutely gorgeous, there are still a bunch of colorful leaves all over, and he doesn't get every weekend off, so it was a perfect opportunity to get out.  I got my chores done while he went to the gym, then we headed north on the bay and stopped at a few parks by the water.  It really was beautiful, and in it's own way, rejuvenating.  I recalled how much I used to adore fall.  Just the same, as we headed back home the sun began setting so prematurely, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, and the painted sunset faded to dark crayon-scribbles against the slate sky, and the oncoming headlights made me sleepy.  It was a fun weekend, but it still made me yawn.  And maybe that's way better than yawning on a Sunday night from being in the house doing nothing all day.  My perspective has been known to be out of whack before so I don't count anything out these days. 
My eating could have been better over the weekend, but I still haven't had any sweets, and I'm not craving them right now.  I try not to get all stressed out over eating this or not eating that, other than the sweets.  My diet was fat and salt heavy and I felt heavy in more ways than one after eating that way.  Big wake up call for my body, and not something I want to consistently do.  It's easier to learn that lesson when I am judging it by how I feel not how it tastes or what it does to my mood.  I used to think I was carb-sensitive and maybe I am, but I know the bloating I get from eating too much salt makes me feel pretty blah.  In some ways, getting back to my planned food during the week makes my life super easy, no choices, no drama, feel fine afterword.  My lack of planning on the weekends makes me reach for convenience things or add stuff on that doesn't need to be there.  Having a bean burrito?  Why not add a few tortilla chips on the side.  Having a light healthy dinner of quinoa, veggies and tofu?  A handful of popcorn will give me a little extra fat and fiber to help me feel fuller longer.  I will say, when I do have a few chips or a little popcorn, it truly is just that, a taste of something, a handful.  I am easier to satisfy now than I've ever been.  I rarely even have to deal with stress about food, whether in the form of cravings or rumination.  I like what I eat now.  I like how it makes me feel and that it will help me not just now but for the long haul.  That is really very non-dramatic, and uncharacteristic of me.  Maybe that means I am finally on the right track! 
Hello Monday, I think I can learn to love you afterall!



Thursday, November 3, 2016

Breakdown

When there is nothing, we long for something, but when there is something we long for nothing.  It is in our nature, isn't it?  When there is nothing on my plate, when I have no "have-to's" I am bored and want to do something.  I'll admit, those times are few and way too far between because most times, like now, I feel like I have too much on my plate and want nothing more than a day off, in comfy clothes, no running around, no trying to tackle every single task that comes to mind, just doing things that relax and rejuvinate me.  I'm guessing it's going to be a long time before that happens.  Why oh why did I not appreciate my lax summer days while they were here?!  This is life, I know.   Buck up, Buttercup, right?
This morning I reached a place I hate being, where my dog was refusing to take care of business outside, and I didn't want to give up because I knew he had to go (he was so. stinking. close) so I stayed out longer than I should have, which made me late getting ready for work.  I didn't have time to shower because styling my hair after takes longer than I had before getting my kids up and getting ready in time to not miss their bus.  I got mad at my dog, he was scared and barking and waking everyone up, I hadn't had breakfast yet and only had 10 minutes to try and get myself ready; I was in such a funk from it all that I cried from the frustration.  And I don't mean the gentle crying that women in movies display, it was ugly, crunched-up "I hate always feeling stressed out" kind of crying.  You know the kind, with a nice mix of swearing and apathy.  It eventually turned into a small but needed mourning  for my friend.  Afterword, I pulled myself together the best I could, fixed myself up and tried to go about my day, puffy eyes and red nose and all.  I feel tired from it all.  After getting my kids on the bus, I have about 15 minutes to come back home and get my stuff ready before heading off to work.  Today I spent that time snuggling with my dog.  He was so content he curled up on my lap and started to fall asleep as I talked sweetly and stroked his hair.  There was a much-needed release then and I felt bad for lacking control over things in the morning.  I still have not learned the art of letting go of things I can't control, and my dog pushes my buttons more than I like to admit sometimes. 
I don't know what this huge ball of stress is or how to get rid of it but I have been feeling it weighing on me for a few weeks now, and it's not just me, my husband has been having the same feeling from time to time.  Like our lives are somehow more complicated now than they used to be.  At any rate, it felt like such a heavy pressure on my yesterday that I decided to see if some time on the stationary bike would help.  I went for 15 minutes, which ended up being a little over 3 miles, it made my heart feel good but didn't releive the stress.  I tried hot tea and meditation but I just didn't feel better until I went to sleep.
Today, after getting to work and getting in my groove, I actually felt better than I have in a while.  My boss was at my site for the first time in a while and knowing and working for him for 7 years, we get along pretty well and I have to admit it was nice to have someone around to talk to because I typically work alone.  I also got a lot done today, a project that I've been wanting to do for a while and some more projects that came up.  I was yawning my face off all day, but at least I released some of that stress I've been carrying around.
After work I had to bring my dog out again, and I usually bring him around my huge apartment complex, situated in the middle of a conservancy, but tonight I decided to take him for a walk.  I figured we could both use it.  It was refreshing and made my dog happy so I'm glad I did it.  After helping my sons with homework I slipped into a hot bath and emerged feeling new.  I needed that!
Well, tomorrow is Friday and even though I have a couple things on my plate for the weekend, one of them involves clothes shopping, which I'm actually looking forward to.  My husband is becoming a Shriner and I get to put his fez on at the ceremony.  I'm impressed by the charitable work the Shriners  do and proud to be married to someone who wants to be a part of that.  I will look for something nice enough to wear for that and casual enough for work.  Wish me luck!  I do have a dress picked out from last weekend's closet shopping just in case it doesn't pan out, but I'm going to Dress Barn, which is usually pretty fruitful for me.
I feel like I can finallly let out a long sigh, thankful to feel a little better.  I sure hope it lasts.  If it doesn't, though, I will keep plugging along like I have been the past few weeks, keeping my mind in check so my eating stays in control.  With all the stress I've had lately, I'm glad I at least have that!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hallowine

My weekend, sought after as it was, was not relaxing or restful.  I really need to stop that, but it was for good cause.  My landlady came to look at our place on Monday, to make sure she could give us the OK to move into a lower unit.  So, my entire weekend was spent cleaning and organizing my apartment.  We got approved, our place was sparkling clean (which I will admit it never is) but it was at the cost of my already tired body.  I did the opportunity to get in 2 sessions of physical therapy exercises, so that part of the goal panned out.  And, in organizing my bedroom closet, I came across a bunch of clothes I had stored away from last time I lost a bunch of weight.  There were some really cute clothes in there, and it got me excited to see that I have a cute/cool wardrobe waiting for me when I get there again.  I was even able to pull out one really cute little sweater that I can layer with now, and that got my creative juices flowing for clothes again.  I go through phases where I either care/am excited about clothes, or I just want whatever fits and is most comfortable.  Fall and winter typically end up being the comfort-seeking seasons for me, because I feel like absolutely nothing looks good on me if it includes pants.  I am trying to figure out how to wear my skirts all winter long, but with snow often up to or over the knees, I just don't forsee it happening.  Humbug!
My weekend eating was a mix of good and not so good.  I had pizza (Domino's my favorite) on Friday.  It tasted pretty good, but it's something I just haven't been craving.  I was satisfied after two pieces even though my tastebuds told me to have more.  I considered it fairly easy to walk away from it, though it has been a trigger for me in the past, I used to eat until I was uncomfortable, 3 sometimes 4 pieces.  I did eat some leftovers the next day too.  But while my kids were eating baked fries and vegetarian chicken fingers/turkey cutlets, I decided it was worth it to cook a separate meal for my husband and I, so I made quinoa with spinach, feta, meatless 'beef' crumbles and our favorite sauce.  It was pretty tastey!  Yesterday since I was off, my husband and I went to vote, then caught a quick lunch at one of our favorite cafes.  They have changed their menu and only had one vegetarian option (portabella burger) which I wasn't in the mood for, so I had a tuna wrap.  It was just OK, kind of dry because they didn't use any mayo in the tuna.  I'm sure it was much healthier than a greasy, cheese-laden grilled mushroom burger.  Maybe not.  I didn't care, I was out to lunch with my handsome husband, enjoying our time together.  I only ate half for lunch and a few kettle chips, saving the rest of the wrap for dinner.  At least I didn't have to cook! 
I had 3 glasses of wine on Sunday evening and I have discovered that anything more than 2 makes me feel dizzy the next day, so from now on, that will be my cut-off point for wine.  I do like the idea of having half a glass with dinner sometimes, but it is definitely not an every day thing for me.  My husband and I were joking about how we could never be the kind of couple that has a wine rack because when wine comes into our house, it gets finished too fast to even sit in a rack. 
Maybe we shouldn't be so proud of that, but at least it's not beer!   All joking aside, I think the wine for me, is becoming a replacement for food, in that I am looking for a little relaxation or numbness (lets face it, that's why we drink right?) but at least I don't crave it and ruminate on it like I used to do with candy.  In fact, I don't have a tough time talking myself out of wine, especially if I have to be the one to run and get it.  Anyway, between the garbage I used to eat and wine, I think the wine is the better choice. 
I have been making a nightly habit of drinking hot tea though, and that feels like a warm hug.  I am trying a new one this week:
I put a little liquid stevia in and a splash of sugar-free vanilla creamer and it tastes SOOOooooo good!  And tumeric supposedly has multiple health benefits.  I have an on-again/off-again relationship with hot tea, but right now with the cooler temperatures, I am really enjoying a hot drink in the evenings while I relax before bed.  I have also been taking better care of my skin, particularly on my face, as the cooler temperatures do make my skin so dry, especially around my eyebrows and where my glasses sit.  I got a good mud mask treatment and a deep moisturizing mask for my face and wow does my skin look and feel so much better! 
It's amazing that such little changes can make such a dramatic impact; maybe that's what this whole thing is about, little by little, change by change, making small steps and testing out what works for me.  I am still free from sweets, though it was tough to resist the Snickers and Twix we had laying around for trick-or-treaters that never came.  I am doing so much better not eating that stuff, I feel like eating some is throwing in the towel.  I may have some pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but if I do it will be a thin slice or I'll just sneak a bite of my husband's.  I don't want to have to fight so hard against the sugar cravings again.  I am quite enjoying the peace that not craving sugars affords me.  I think I can reserve them for special occassions or special treats.  That's how it's supposed to be, right?
Halloween seemed a little flat for me this year, so much else going on and my heart was heavy remembering my friend who passed earlier this year.  This was her absolutely favorite time of year, her eyes would glow with excitement.  I lit a candle for her and my other dear friend who passed some years back, but I didn't let myself mourn yet.  I don't know what I'm afraid of or waiting for.  I can only trust that it will happen when I'm ready. 
I'm happy to have a short week ahead of me, and look!  Tuesday's work day is almost done already.  I think I can make it through this work week relatively unscathed. I think I can.