goals, direction, and starting to see light.

Seeing the light arriving

Greetings, my friends! And Happy Sunday!

I hope everyone is having a great and relaxing weekend. It has been raining off and on yesterday and today and honestly it’s been nice to chill for a hot minute. I did quite a bit of socializing this week and was oh-so-ready for a day to be a hermit and recharge.

I do apologize that my writing has been so sporadic lately. I certainly didn’t intend for this to blog to only be used when I’m feeling down in the dumps. Now that I’ve made great strides crawling out of the dark place, I guess I’m trying to decide which direction to take this thing now.

First things first, some updates. This week will be Week 6 of my elimination diet. As I said in my last post, I’ve been adding things in and taking them out for a few weeks now. Even though I do believe now that most of my health issues are being caused by something other than food, it has been very enlightening to find out what foods do cause a reaction of any kind in my body. I *think* I’ve found out this week that dairy actually increases my heartburn. This makes me very sad, as cheese is practically one of my love languages. Anyway, the experiment continues. After that first week I’ve managed to maintain my calories at my normal level. Cravings are gone. I sleep well (for the most part). I don’t have a headache everyday. All that to say, I’m going to keep this experiment going for a while.

Beginning September I started running again. I’ve also added in yoga (in addition to strength training.) I’m really, really enjoying it. I’m not sure what finally made the switch flip in my brain, but I’m looking forward to workouts again rather than seeing them as a chore. I’m also looking forward to setting some goals for each of those areas for October. I haven’t set any kind of athletic goal in AGES! This is great mental progress for me.

So, where do I go from here? Someone told me this morning, “Every time I see you you’re always smiling! It makes me smile.” I guarantee the gal who said it had no idea how much it effected me, and probably not even for the reason that you’d imagine. I think maybe after all these months I’m finally figuring out that it really is all up to me on my perspective of things. I’m not in control of anything and I need to stop trying to grapple for it like a lifeline. I can’t control what people think of me, I can rarely control what happens to me. The one thing I can control? My perspective. If I can do that then the lows won’t be so low. The highs are even higher. And every thing isn’t nearly so dark. Life is quite a lot sweeter when you let it happen.

I’m looking forward to this week. I’m going home this weekend for our fall festival. I haven’t been back to it in probably 15+ years. This would normally probably cause me anxiety…but it’s going to be ok. I’m going to choose to look at is as an opportunity to enjoy some folks I haven’t seen in quite some time. Plus the parade! Band nerds unite! What are you looking forward to this week?

TODAY I LOVE: dry shampoo (seriously gals, am I right?!)
SONG OF THE DAY: “Alice from Dallas” by Foy Vance

I am not skinny … but …

I have worked so hard these last couple of weeks in the gym. I’m pushing myself in my lifts and I’ve added “bonus” cardio everyday. And guess what? My weight hasn’t changed. I’ve gone up and down the same 3lbs for almost 3 weeks now. I’ve stayed within my macros and I’ve turned down cupcakes and donuts and Chick-fil-a. (WHOA.) I’ve vacillated between being depressed about it all and being ok.

This morning while I was in the gym I was thinking about it all. Today was a “heavy” lift day. And as I was standing there, continuing to add plates to the bar, and looking at myself in the mirror, I was content?

Here’s why: I might not be skinny and I might very well be considered overweight. BUT

I took this after the gym this morning. I added the flare to disguise the dirty mirror. 🙂 It’s not an awesome picture; it isn’t flattering. But this is the body I have today, and it is strong.
  • Today I leg-pressed 495lbs (11 plates) and probably could have kept going.
  • Last week I was able to squat 215 pounds for four reps on my sixth set! That’s been my heaviest on squats in months and months.
  • I held a plank for *almost* 2 minutes today. That’s huge for me!
  • This body has allowed me to conquer the stair machine over and over this week. Hundreds of floors climbed.
  • This body is well enough to tend my own yard (mowing and trimming) without any help.

This body might not be skinny, and it might very well be overweight, but it is strong. It is able. It is healthy. And I’m doing my best to love it. To love what it is now and not what I think it needs to be. To love what it can DO.

That’s where I am today. I might be sad again tomorrow that my skinny jeans are still tight, but I’m writing this post to remind me of how I feel TODAY. I need more todays.

TODAY I LOVE: Alo Yoga capris
SONG OF THE DAY: “Redesigning Women” by The HighWomen

who is influencing you?

Several of my twitter friends have shared a New York Times article over the last couple of weeks. I hadn’t had time to read it, but so many people I respect kept commenting on it. So I saved it in my handy Instapaper to read later. Having now read it, I can see why it’s so popular. So today, instead of writing about my ups and downs, I’d like the share the article with YOU and to also make some comments.

First off, it’s an opinion piece by a novelist that I really like, Jessica Knoll. I read her book “Luckiest Girl Alive” a while back. If you like suspense books, give it a go. Anyway, her piece in the Times is called “Smash the Wellness Industry.” I’m going to put several excerpts here, but I’d really encourage you to follow the link and read the whole thing.

In sum, the entire piece is about the fallacy we are all being fed about “wellness” in our society. I like how she said it in this paragraph:

The wellness industry is the diet industry, and the diet industry is a function of the patriarchal beauty standard under which women either punish themselves to become smaller or are punished for failing to comply, and the stress of this hurts our health too. I am a thin white woman, and the shame and derision I have experienced for failing to be even thinner is nothing compared with what women in less compliant bodies bear. Wellness is a largely white, privileged enterprise catering to largely white, privileged, already thin and able-bodied women, promoting exercise only they have the time to do and Tuscan kale only they have the resources to buy.

Jessica Knoll, NY Times, “Smash the Wellness Industry”

All day long we see “influencers” on Instagram. Thin, barely-clothed, tan women pawning us shakes, or waist-trainers, supplements, or workout programming. They are telling us what we need to do to inherently be happy and feel good. Or trying anyway. Because, as she says in another part of the article, wellness equal thin and thin equals wellness.

I liked this quote as well:

I no longer define food as whole or clean or sinful or a cheat. It has no moral value. Neither should my weight, though I’m still trying to separate my worth from my appearance. They are two necklaces that have gotten tangled over the course of my 35 years, their thin metal chains tied up in thin metal knots. Eventually, I will pry them apart.

Most days, I feel good in my skin. That said, I am probably never going to love my body, and that’s O.K. I think loving our bodies is not only an unrealistic goal in our appearance-obsessed society but also a limiting one. No one is telling men that they need to love their bodies to live full and meaningful lives. We don’t need to love our bodies to respect them.

Jessica Knoll, NY Times, “Smash the Wellness Industry”

I don’t love my body right now. I’m not comfortable in it. But I’ll be honest, this has given me pause to ask myself if I’m uncomfortable for the right reasons. Am I healthy? Yep, I just had a whole bunch of blood tests that tell me so. I can run and strength train. So is it all about being thin?

Anyway, go read the piece and give me your thoughts. I’d love to hear them. I think we all need to strive to be healthy and WELL, but are we really doing in society today? And how do you define it now that our measuring stick is so very skewed?

TODAY I LOVE: thought-provoking discussion
SONG OF THE DAY: “Killing You, Killing Me” by Jamestown Revival

but then I stopped.

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN, Physical video, circa 1981-82

I’m writing this during the day. ON MY LUNCH BREAK. Yeah, I still can’t get over that. 🙂

So this morning I did something that I wanted to write about. You want to know what it was? I didn’t go to the gym and I didn’t feel guilty about it.

At first glance that sentence probably doesn’t mean very much to you. So what? I didn’t go to the gym. I don’t go to the gym several days a week (rest days.) It is the second part of that sentence that makes me smile. I have all the excuses for wanting to sleep: it took me a little while to fall asleep last night, the cat woke me up sometime in the middle of the night yowling as he was chasing a bug (I had to get up and make sure George wasn’t dying or anything), there was a thunderstorm early this morning and it was lovely to sleep to…and when my weekly alarm went off at 4:30am I was sleeping so good that I just turned it right off and went back to sleep. Again, it’s the part AFTER I’m most proud of.

Usually when I make the decision to sleep in and miss a workout, it’s almost a moot point. I will lay there and beat myself up for giving in, for being weak, telling myself that this is why I’m fat, etc. I have very, very ugly self-talk early in the morning. And then I don’t end up benefiting from the extra sleep because I’m so mad at myself! And I didn’t do that today.

Don’t get me wrong, old habits are very hard to break. I started to let it all wash over me. I started thinking about my friends seeing my LACK of Apple Watch activity and thinking me lazy and fat, I thought “Sarah, this is only slowing your goals,” I thought the gym regulars and my workout partner would think me wishy-washy and uncommitted, I thought myself ugly. BUT THEN I STOPPED. I really can’t tell you how hard this was to do, but I did it. I stopped all the thoughts and I redirected them. And I went back to sleep.

Maybe I’m finally putting some parts and pieces of my old Psychology degree in place, and maybe I’m recalling some old tools from counseling I’ve had, but it is slowly working.

Do I still have those ugly thoughts? Yep. They’ve tried to creep up on my several times this morning. And I have to actively and forcibly stop them. After sitting here and unpacking it all (after I journaled it), I’m realizing that I have a lot of internal things to work out, but I also seem to have a big hangup of others judgement of me. And it’s not by their doing – it’s my own mind. I need to think some more on how to help me change that setting within myself. I shouldn’t be having these thoughts to begin with, much less fighting them 24/7. Baby steps.

In the end, that extra sleep was ah-mazing. It was well worth it. It makes me no less of a person because I didn’t get up and go to the gym this morning.

TODAY I LOVE: sleeping during a thunderstorm
SONG OF THE DAY: “The Place Where Lost Things Go” by Emily Blunt (from Mary Poppins Returns)

Black coffee and honesty

acs_0254-1One of my compromises with myself when I started this blog (in deference to my last one) was to be completely honest. You get the good and the bad, the ups and downs, the wins and the losses. Why be fake? Why try to trick everyone into believing that life is rosy all the time and every single goal I set, I reach?

Somewhere out there (if you don’t have this song in your head right now I don’t know you at all)…anyway, somewhere out there I’ve lost my focus and drive. For some reason the journey seems a lot more difficult this time around. And yes, I’m talking about weight loss. I think I’m always talking about weight loss. When you’re uncomfortable in your own skin (and your own jeans) it is always what you’re thinking about.

I keep finding excuses!

  • I’ve had a rough week, I deserve this treat.
  • PMS…give me all the things I’m craving.
  • Whew…I’ve got meetings all week. They’ll feed me. I don’t need to count.
  • I’m cold and I don’t feel that great. I should just eat what will make me happy.
  • I’m going home and nobody cooks like my mom and grandma. I don’t get home that much, I should enjoy it.

Anyone ever say some variation of those? I usually have really great discipline and can bypass all that stuff. Not this last month. Frankly, I’m scared to get on the scale for what it is going to tell me. I know I haven’t lost but I’m terrified to see if or how much I’ve gained. I’m failing at all my self-talk. I’m failing at saying NO.

I’m failing. And I want to leave it at that. Throw a fit. Say that I just can’t do it; the plan doesn’t work for me. I want to tell everyone how hard it is to be me. But guess what? That doesn’t help me either, it just makes me fail…more.

So I’m not going to do that. Because deep down I know these things:

  • I’m not failing at everything. Those are just lies that we tell ourselves.
  • If I fix my self-talk and start thinking about things on a decision-by-decision basis, I can choose to say no and make better choices. I can make choices that aren’t based on hormones, emotions, and circumstances.
  • I’m not failing at workouts (for the most part – I’ve had to miss a few.) I’m pushing myself and not giving in. I like getting stronger and seeing what new things my body can do.
  • It is going to be hard. It just is. I’m not in my 20’s anymore and things are just HARD. Recognize the challenge, say “game on”, and do it. Just do it.
  • Again – don’t look at weeks at a time. One decision, one good choice, one moment.
  • Plan better.

This post was for me. It was public self-talk and public accountability. We don’t always win. It’s so easy to fall down the social media rabbit hole of how all things are perfect. They aren’t. There is no quick fix. It isn’t easy. I haven’t won; I’ve lost this round. I let myself lose this round.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t win the next one.

New moment. New day. New week. New month. As the character President Jed Bartlet says in one of my favorite shows, “What’s next?”

TODAY I LOVE: finally finishing the “Downton Abby” series on BBC

SONG OF THE DAY: “Forever” by Mumford & Sons

the calm and the storm

Flying over a thunderstorm outside of Dallas this past October

I think I’ve stared at the “Add title” part of this post for a good 20 minutes. I just finished writing a very mopey post about memories and pain. It’s still in my drafts but I’ll probably never post it. I’m sure everyone is tired of me mulling over my divorce and the never-ending tentacles of it’s reach in my life. It still just amazes me how I can go from moments of pure joy and happiness to watching one video of a concert we attended and I’m zapped back into sadness. It has to stop hurting at some point, right?

Anyway, I really just wanted to update you on my goals and such. I’m entering week 3. I can say without hesitation…it’s been hard. I’ve pushed myself in workouts (which is a good thing) and it’s made me so sore. Week 1 of my “diet” was hard but I was 100% perfect. Well…I fell off the wagon hard this weekend. I had cravings that I haven’t been able get rid of so I indulged them. The scale scolded me HARD this morning, but it was necessary. I’m in a much better place today. Overall I have lost and not gained any weight. I wish it was more, but this is for the long-haul, not in the day-to-day ups and downs.

Little wins and little falls…it is life and going to happen. It’s how I even out and recover that matters. It is not letting my “little fall” take me all the way to “I don’t care anymore.” And guess what? I still care. A lot. All of this matters.

So if you’ve had a weekend like I have, where you’ve celebrated birthdays and you’ve enjoyed some things outside of your norm…find your way back. And remember your “why.”

Now. I’m going to go watch something that makes me happy and not sad home videos on my phone.

TODAY I LOVE: Milk Makeup Kush Lip Balm

SONG OF THE DAY: “Girl” by Maren Morris

tired and hungry and sore

Well, I think my title says it all. It fully encapsulates this week.

I started Phase II of my new year journey on Monday. I jumped in with both feet. Phase II included new programming at the gym (both strength and HIIT), calorie and macro guidelines based on my reading of Fat Loss Forever, and getting up early to do said gym workouts. After two weeks of the head and stomach flu, that 4:30am alarm is BRUTAL. So yeah, this week has been me on the struggle bus. BUT I HAVE DONE IT.

No cheats. I’ve stayed perfectly within my macros and calories. I haven’t missed a day of workouts. I just need to keep this up until it’s a habit and then it won’t be such a struggle. I’ve done it before and I know I can do it again.

Here are some things that are helping me this week:

  • I accidentally changed the setting on my bathroom scale to kilograms. I weigh every morning and then take an average for the week so see gain/loss. I didn’t mean to change it to kilograms but it’s been so much better for me emotionally! I’m much too lazy to remember the conversion to pounds that early in the morning so it’s awesome to weigh without all the guilt and shame of the pounds number. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves? Sure, I still weigh a ton but in my mind it’s just a number when it is kilograms.
  • I’m a nerd. You know this. I created a lovely excel workbook that has all my BMR, TDEE, and macro calculations (based on the book mentioned above.) I also have calculations for all my weights and measurements so that it calculates my averages for me. I am also able to see trends.
  • You can eat a LOT of veggies for little calories.
  • I’m not always going to improve my lifts at the gym. But I’ve been complacent for far too long. I haven’t stopped working out in all this time but if I’m honest I’ve been “mailing it in.” Every day this week I’ve given myself a pep talk to challenge myself. Don’t just do it to do it; make those calories and muscles work. And it has paid off in soreness. 🙂

I hope all of you are achieving your goals as well! One day at a time, friends. One moment at a time.

SONG OF THE DAY: “Rescue” by Lauren Daigle

TODAY I LOVE: my new pillow…makes a huge difference!