Monday, October 31, 2011

The trouble with group exercise is


Because unless you look like this:

You really have no wish to look at yourself doing jumping jacks.
Who's with me?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Baby Steps

All or nothing. That is often the way I roll. And that can be a bumpy road. If I want to make these changes long term, I've got to find a way to be okay with a gradual pace. One that can last. For some reason, though I am totally comfortable with this concept in the realm of running, applying it to food continues to elude me.
Ideals are fantastic things. They keep us moving and growing and stretching. They also tend to beat us up a bit on the way there. My ideal usually looks like this:

And I want to be that next week. So, I decide to cut all things delicious and unnatural from my diet, train for another marathon, and only eat fruit until noon. That goes well. . . until noon. And after that I'm so angry at myself for a slip up that I figure the whole day is in the tank, might as well enjoy it. Cue the snickers.
But, this time it isn't just about the weight. It has GOT to be about something more. I've got to let go of the above ideal, and figure out my ideal. Where do I want to be? Here's a summary:
I know that I want to get to a place where sugar is not a part of my life. Where I eat wholesome, natural foods, comprised almost entirely of the wise foods mentioned here. I want long hair and a good looking set of legs. I want to celebrate moments with memories not food. I want to write more, move more, and live more. But, that is not going to happen overnight. And it isn't a place necessarily measured by a jean size. The ideal isn't about how I finally get myself to look, it is about how I allow myself to feel along the way. The honest to goodness truth is, I just am not ready yet to drop all sugar cold turkey. Been there, done that. But, I do know that I want to get there. So, if I am comfortable with starting the race and accepting the pace I can keep up, I think I'll finish. It has worked with every other race I've ever entered.
Baby steps and I'll get there. First baby step? This week I walk back into Weight Watchers with my head held (sort of ) high and rejoin as a Lifetime member/former leader that has lost her way. I'll hate it sort of. But, next Tuesday when I have to get back on that scale again, that accountability will help me succeed, and I bet I won't hate it nearly as much then. The program works. I'm a witness to that. Do I want to track and point forever. Oh heavens no. But, I have to relearn some stuff right now. I have to recognize that. And re-establishing a healthy way of looking at food again will put me on a better track to phasing out sugar completely. For now, I'm going to work that program. And I am going to try very hard not to be ashamed of that. Because, after all, my real ideal should look more like this:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

So that went well. .

or maybe not so much.

Maybe two hours before heading into the candy vortex of a church trunk or treat wasn't the best time to cut sugar out of my life.
Chin up and moving on.

Fo' Real.

Honesty is the Best Policy


This is me, being brutally honest (with the compulsory aloof face and messy hair required of all "before" pics.) The clothes are ill-fitting, but there was a time that they fit me, rather loosely I might add. So, I decided to wear them in hopes to progressively watch them loosen up bit by bit.

A friend from college is doing a really interesting experiment. He is super fit and over the last six months has gone about putting on 70 pounds to gain greater empathy with those he works with as a personal trainer. And now, he will take the next six months to carve it off. It is an interesting idea.

I wish I could say that the last year of my life has been a similar process. But, mostly it has just been a cycle grounded basically in fear and pride. Last summer I was looking pretty good--of course I didn't think so at the time, but I look back at those pictures and realize how amazing I looked, better than ever before. But, at the time all I wanted was more weight off. How silly. But, to be honest, I got scared. Being overweight was a part of who I was, and not being that started to scare me a bit. What on earth would I do with myself if I wasn't trying to lose weight?

Plus, I started to get a bit more attention. I noticed guys checking me out at the gym and that made me really nervous. The self-sabotage began. It was slow and gradual, and I kept running so the weight wasn't coming on quickly, but I had definitely shifted gears.

And then I moved in with my mom. And I was surrounded by food, stress, and strain. My husband was 300 miles away and our financial future was completely uncertain. I ate and ate and ate. And still I exercised, so it kept total health abandonment at bay.

And then I got a job. And gym time went out the window. And I had access to a vending machine. And I resented everything about our situation.

Now I weigh 200 pounds, a number I haven't seen since I was pregnant with Isaac. For the first time since we've been married, my wedding dress would probably not fit right now.

And still I think it will somehow just change. I think that I can eat what I want and if I just start going to the gym it will just work. I mean, I am someone who lost sixty pounds for heavens sakes. . I've never progressively gained more and more weight before. Surely, this isn't really me? Surely I can still fit into my jeans.. . . right? So wrong.

If I don't make some key changes, I am afraid I'll head down a dangerous road taking me to a place physically that I have worked very hard to never go. I've run a marathon, lost baby weight plus some between each pregnancy, and learned to make homemade granola and love beans and rice. I KNOW how to be healthy! I've just forgotten how to want it.

A real obstacle here is old fashioned honesty. I just haven't been honest with myself. I've bought two packs of twix bars and somehow convinced myself that they won't really add up or make me gain weight. Do I think they go out the back of my neck after I swallow? They don't.

So, I've decided to take on my own "fat to fit" challenge. Come along if you want. I plan to be very honest in this space.

I want to lose 45 pounds. It sounds like sooooo much, but one pound at a time and change will come. This will require large amounts of patience and itty bitty amounts of chocolate. But, it isn't just about the weight. I've weighed 160 before. I hope to reach 155, but it isnt' really the number. Like I said, I've weighed close to that before and I wasn't too happy about it. I still saw flabby arms and lumpy thighs. I saw the girls in Runner's World and they were everything I wasn't. I have got to get over that, and this is a place I plan to document my journey towards losing that weight too. That weight that drags my head down to look at my legs with a grimace instead of gratitude. The weight that worries my husband deserves better, that my children will grow to be like me, or that I am not worth anything unless I am thin and pretty. More than the pounds--that weight has got to come off.

I know I will be a better servant in the Lord's kingdom if I am stronger, leaner, and more confident. I know I will love others more if I love myself first. Not in a selfish self-serving way, but in a way that strips me of fear and lets me love without pride, expectation, or concern that my love isn't good enough because I'm not good enough.

As long as I'm being honest, I'll pass this on as well. I've felt often in many ways that my life will be happier and purer if I abandon white sugar and flour and stop eating after 8pm. That might sound completely crazy, but I've felt it too often to rationalize it away. This isn't a universal truth, but I do believe it is my truth. And it is a truth that I have been running from for quite a while. And I believe that the guilt of not accepting this prompting has driven me to food in terrible ways. This will not be easy. I love so many things sugary. But, I feel myself change when I eat it. I feel guilt and shame and suddenly all I can think about is the next time I can eat. . .anything.

I worry that anyone reading this (if you haven't fallen asleep yet) might lose a lot of respect for me with these confessions. I am sorry. I think I've been awfully good at portraying someone with vast amounts of willpower. And at times I have been that person. But, I'm not sure that it ever came from love or light, but just an overwhelming desire for approval.

But, I will try. I will try tonight to ignore the Halloween candy. I will pray for help. I will walk away, take a drink of water, and ask the Lord to give me strength to make these changes that will bless me in so many ways. And along the way I will lose weight. But more importantly, I hope I will lose fear. I will gain muscle, but I really hope I gain light.

A Body of Light.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Creating a Body of Light

Confession: In the last year I have gained about 40 pounds.

Not a real secret to anyone that has seen me lately. It has been a rough year. But, I've learned some important things, and one of them is that beating myself up about it will do no good at all.

I've also learned to come to grips with my terribly unhealthy relationship with food and my body. I've hidden behind food. I've eaten out of resent. And now my body is showing that. I can't change how I've eaten in the last year. But I can change how I move forward.

This past week has had some nice changes along those lines. I have exercised every day (having a husband around to help with the kids makes this much more doable.) I've read my scriptures every day. I pray for charity and I ask for strength. I have repented for how I have treated my body, which is an inherent part of my soul. And I have prayed for both the courage and the humility to move forward and believe that I can change.

And I feel change happening. Sure, I've lost 3 pounds this week. . . which is awesome. I'm sore for the first time in many months. And I resisted pudding and caramel apples. But, more than that, I've looked in the mirror at my tight fitting clothes and I've been able to say "Yeah, I used to look better. But, I am here. Right now I am doing a really good thing." And then I do another lunge.

That is how I believe I will create a body of light. I will try every day to keep my focus on God and His glory, recognizing that to be a tool in His hands, I must be sharp, ready, and able. And my body can help me do that, or hold me back. A body of light isn't a certain size, but it does have a certain energy. An energy of joy, acceptance, and determination. I believe in that. I am trying. And I believe change will come.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Teenage Brain

Yes, such a thing exists.

I don't have any teenage children, but I am lucky to have daily contact with about 80 of them, probably 70 of which have close to zero interest in learning Spanish, unless it helps them figure out how to get more beer, sleep more, or have immoral relations with the opposite sex. Say hello to our future.

And until the last week or so, I was on the brink of surrendering to their apathy. Giving up, because it appears almost all of them have. Here are some key insights that have helped me back away from that brink.

1. A fantastic article found here in National Geographic about the development (or lack thereof) of said teenage brain. Turns out, in a way, it just isn't their fault. Our brains develop from the back to the front, and the very last bit to develop is the part that cares about consequences. Their gray matter is still stuck in the "How fun is this this going to be?" and "Will this make me popular" stage of evolution. So, expecting them to have a natural curiousity about the world around them the first day of my class isn't realistic. It is there when they are young, back when learning involved centers, storytime, and make-believe. But, worksheets and standardized tests take the fun out of school and these teenage brains don't have enough wrinkles in them to really think about what their decisions now will mean for them in ten years. I mean, we've got to figure out which color of Tom's shoes to buy next for heaven's sakes! (If you don't know what those are. . . find a loop and plant yourself firmly outside of it--because that's where you are.)

2. I cannot expect myself (or anyone around me) to be fantastically good at something within 3 weeks of trying it.

3. Stepping back and reevaluating is a sign of strength NOT weakness. I am learning every day, adapting, changing, reviewing, and noting what works. This week I am stepping back and in some ways starting over with my classes. And that is okay. They are learning Spanish. But, more than Spanish, I want them to learn to succeed, and I want them to believe that they can do it anywhere, in any class. If they are willing to work, communicate, and try.

4. God loves us, every one. Even teenage punks with sagging pants and cell phone addictions. Even lazy students who seem to have zip zeal for life. He loves them. He wants them. He misses them. He wants them to feel light and love and hope. He loves these students as much as He loves sweet, obedient me. He loves these scantily clad gals as much as He loves the beautifully virtuous young women who attend church every Sunday. He loves them. And I can too. I can't teach them scripture. But I can be a light. Scratch that---I can reflect a light. I can hold up the light of Christ and teach with joy, hope, and love. And maybe they'll learn some Spanish.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Limits of Fear

Sometimes it is easy to think that God is letting things happen to us, or that He is holding back the miracles for some sort of higher reason. Maybe the reason is us. Maybe the only thing keeping Him from pouring them on is our fear of what those miracles really might demand of us. The other day I was reading in Luke 8 and was struck by how the people begged Christ to leave them, immediately after seeing Him cast the unclean spirits out of a lunatic they had all known forever.

Why would they do that?

Because they were afraid. Perhaps they were afraid because of their own guilt. Perhaps they were afraid because they were pretty comfortable with having that lunatic around as it was and it was just a little too much change, thank you very much. For whatever reason, they "besought him to depart from them." And that is exactly what He did. Who knows what miracles He had in store for them. What else could Luke have told us? We'll never know. Their fear kept them from what Christ could have done for them. Does mine? Does yours? Does my fear of truly becoming what the Lord knows I can become shut me down and make me turn from the Lord, saying "Thanks, but no thanks. . I'm good." Am I willing to let Him in? Will I give in to fear or embrace faith, trusting that if Christ hands me a rope, whatever it leads to will make me stronger, purer, and happier? Or will I drop it in fear and back away. I'm trying to hold on to that rope and one day at a time, I feel my fear leaving me. Slowly but surely, I am becoming brave.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Put Your Behind In The Past

Or something like that.

That's what went through my head when I did my sissy girl knee pushups this morning that were actually pretty hard. It has been a long time since I've done a real workout with real pushups. For the first couple, all I could think was how pathetic it was that these felt so hard to me. And, again, I started to beat myself up about the last several months. . my eating. . not getting up at 4am to make exercise work. . .blah blah blah. Then I slapped myself in the face (figuratively of course, this would not be a wise move whilst in sissy girl knee pushup position) and remembered the wise words of Pumba. What's done is done. There is simply no need rehashing or regretting. What I can control is the now. And my now is looking pretty good.

Remember the lessons, but not the mistakes. Moving on. . . .

Thanks Pumba

Saturday, October 15, 2011


There I wrote it.

I said I would write something (almost) every day.

Today I went on a solid, outdoor run (okay it was a run/walk, but I ran more than I walked, so if you can round up a verb, I say that makes it a run). . . . for the first time in many moons.

It was awesome.

And now that I have a husband again, I do believe I'll be able to do it a tad more often. I am thoroughly enjoying sitting by my husband, while we both read a book and listen to our children run around and play. This is bliss. I'm also enjoying giving him plenty of time to get fully readjusted to our children again. I think time with them is important. And I also think sitting by myself in a car, listening to NPR is important. It is a win-win.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some Fights Aren't Worth It

I just saw (well at least saw in intermittent bursts between bathroom trips for Emma) a wonderful movie. A Dolphin Tale wasn't stellar storytelling or cinematography, but it certainly charmed me and has left me thinking for several days. To sum up, a rescued dolphin loses her tail but not her fighting spirit. She improvises and fashions a new sort of swimming, using a side to side motion. The problem is, that style of swimming is growing muscles that shouldn't be grown and begins to cause dangerous problems on her spinal cord. She has to start swimming differently or she'll die. To the rescue comes a cantankerous engineer who designs prosthetics for veterans. He works to create a tail for the dolphin that will help her swim the way she is designed to swim. She revolts.
The attach the tail and off she swims. Then she begins to thrash and whine and whack the fake tail to pieces on the side of the pool. No longer such a happy dolphin. It took several designs and a few good talking-tos, but she finally came around in a happy, dramatic fashion. It was a tale of determination and hope, but I came away with something else.
Instead I came away with this image of myself thrashing around trying desperately to shake off things in my life. I don't want to be a teacher. I don't want to have my kids in childcare. I don't want to have to change the way I eat. I don't want to live with my Mom anymore (she's wonderful, but I'm almost 34 after all) I don't want it! Thrash, thrash, kick, and scream. But where does that leave me? It leaves me swimming along in a way that will destroy me. It leaves me defiant and angry, but it doesn't change a thing.
I think it is safe to say I'm not the only person that has fought that fight. I've realized that there is not much I can change right now. I've got to finish the year of teaching. It just is what it is. So, I can fight and kick, or I can find a way to make it work. I don't want to stop eating cookies and brownies and anything else I want in copious amounts. But, the fact is, I've gained 30 pounds and have reached a number on the scale that hasn't stared back at me since I was pregnant. And pregnant I am not. So, if I want that to change, I have to change it. Kicking and screaming about it isn't going to change the physics that my body will not change if I don't do something. I cannot alter the laws of the universe that say how what I eat affects my body. Tantrums won't help.
Change doesn't often happen around us just because we want it to. Change happens within us when we are willing to. This is not the way I hope to live my life for the next twenty years. I can't change the financial circumstances of our lives right now. But, I know where I want to be and I can change what I am doing to get there. My dream? To write. I want to go back home to be with my kids and write and be a storyteller and help pay the bills that way. That is my dream. So, if I want it to happen, I have to do something besides whine about it.
So, I will write. Sure, I'm tired. Sure, I've got a whole lot going on. But, if I want the dream of an office where I pound out essays and stories and look out a window at a lovely field. I've got to be willing to squeeze in as much reading and writing as I can.
And thing two? A Body of Light doesn't come easy. Discipleship has its price, and becoming a person of purity, submission, and self control is going to ask something of me. It will take awhile, but I know that I can and must make some profound changes in how I eat, how I think about eating, and how I think about myself eating if I want to get my body back and feel strong again.
I'll be around more. I am going to try my darndest to write every day. Stories, perhaps poems, maybe even jot down this script idea I have in my head. But, it is time for me to stop fighting and thrashing around expecting things to change. I'll accept it and swim. And I think I'll be better for it.