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

green grapes and gray water

This *might* end up being the most random post I’ve ever written. Then again, I write a lot of random stuff all the time so who knows. Hang on for the ride.

On Wednesday of last week I flew to California to visit my fella. First off, it was so, so great to see him. Even though I just saw him in April, it felt like forever. We spent the fourth of July in Napa, and OHMYGOSH. It is like heaven. The hills were green, the grapes were green and growing, and the wine was very red. There were flowers EVERYWHERE. Everything was bright and vibrant. We also went to Monterey so that I could see the sea otters at Monterey Bay Aquarium. We took a behind the scenes tour of the otter stuff and I just giggled like a five-year-old the whole time. It was pathetic but I was in love. I should have tried to stuff that baby otter into my bag. I KNOW George would love a friend. The rest of the time there we just hung out in each other’s company. And I might have loved that just as much.

The downside of last week was that I was/felt sick pretty much the entire time. And I’m still sick. Something is going on with my insides and I don’t know what it is. Gallbladder? Ucler? Hernia? Pretty much any time I eat, I’m crazy nauseous for forever. My diet change hasn’t really fixed it. So off to the doctor I go.

Sooooo right now I’m eating a lot of carbs. It seems to be the only thing that upsets me the least. And let me tell ya, when you already have body image issues and THEN you eat a lot of carbs…it’s not good. Just call me Sarah McBloaty. Sarah McBloaty likes to eat bread, pretzels, and crackers. She really hates skinny jeans and swimsuits. She’s a barrel of fun (when she doesn’t want to vomit.)

Back to real life. With no wineries and no sea otters and no boyfriend. But I still want to puke. So…I guess I didn’t leave everything in California. So far 2019 is The Year of Nausea. I started the year with the flu and it’s still goin..

TODAY I LOVE: peppermint
SONG OF THE DAY: “Hold You Now” by Vampire Weekend

peace like welcome rain

Good morning, friends and Happy Sunday! It’s raining here in Missouri, again. I’m pretty sure it’s been raining for the last 6 months. It has been the weirdest year here in the midwest. Lately I’ve been so grumpy when it rains. Now that I’m living alone and yard duties are mine, every time it rains the very first thought that goes through my mind is “That damn yard is just gonna grow faster.” But today, well, today I’m pretty amazingly content.

Lots of happenings this week and for once I’m sitting here on a Sunday looking at all of them positively! I haven’t felt well for quite some time but haven’t been able to put my finger on what it might be. After a lengthy visit with my chiropractor (but they are basically my everything doctor because they fix everything and I trust them with my life) I think he might be on a path to figuring out what’s going on. I won’t go into it all here, because I’m likely to type it up all wrong and some of you real medical professionals will yell at me for misinterpretation. So – let’s just leave it at I’m changing some things from my diet and eliminating others. I also need less stress, but if any of you have more ideas on how to fix that I’m open. All that to say, I’m not fixed, but maybe I’m now on a path to an answer. Make sense?

I was also super brave this week and left the Sarah Cave. And guess what!? I met new people. And it was amazing. I want to talk more about that but it’s still fresh and special and new and like a little bird I’m going to foster my new peeps quietly for a bit.

So, I’m sitting here this rainy Sunday in a great state of peace. I’ve got Gregory Alan Isakov crooning me from my record player, I just put chicken in the crockpot to eat on the for the week, I’ve got a mug of hot tea, all the lamps on….NEED I KEEP GOING!?

This is me you guys. No makeup. No contacts. Bedhead. A Colorado mug because I GET TO GO SEE GREGORY AT RED ROCKS IN A MONTH. This is me with a happy smile, enjoying where I am in this minute at this time.

I just thought you should know that I’m not always doom and gloom and sad. I’m just getting better and recognizing sometimes happiness is in the small things.

(Total transparency, there is a filter on this photo. It’s called “I Am Enough.” So I just had to use it.) 🙂

TODAY I LOVE: the sound of rolling thunder outside
SONG OF THE DAY: “The Universe” by Gregory Alan Isakov

two sides of the same coin

Change is good and change is hard. My therapist once told me that every relationship (especially marriage) is a contract that has to constantly be renegotiated. We are human and we change. Because of those changes, negotiation has to happen or the relationship breaks. I think that can happen to your relationship with yourself too.

I’m in this weird season of life where it feels like everything, once again, is changing. If it were just one or two things, I probably wouldn’t feel it so hard. But it’s a lot of things. My home is changing, my job environment is changing, all my relationships are changing. And in the process of all of that, I’m trying to change me too.

I’m 38 years old and it feels like everything in my life is sand on the beach; unstable and constantly shifting.

Yesterday I posted a selfie. And bless ALL OF YOUR HEARTS, you showered me with compliments. I promise you, the intent of posting it was not to be fishing for compliments. The intent was for me. I felt good in that moment and rather than letting it pass, I wanted to acknowledge it.

It is no secret if you follow me on social media that I LOVE the new The Head and the Heart album. I’m so obsessed right now that I probably listen to the whole thing at least once a day. Here is one line in the first track that has stuck with me for a week. I sing it over and over.

Until you learn to love yourself
the door is locked to someone else

“See You Through My Eyes” by The Head and the Heart

So. That. I’ve got a long way to go. I can’t believe I’m sharing this, but here goes. It wasn’t 3 hours after I took the original photo I was proud of, where I felt pretty, that I turned into this: a sobbing, snotty, wet, mess. It is a tale of two Sarahs. The Sarah on the right is insecurity, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and poor self-worth. The Sarah on the right is the one that I need to get smaller and smaller. And she’s taking all my energy among all the other change.

I’m likely going to regret posting this and I hope that I can retain my nerve and not delete it later. It is hard to be so open. But I can’t do this alone. And so far, being so raw and open, has brought me a community. And maybe someone out there needs to see that not every pretty picture you see is the whole truth, that there might be a sobbing, snotting one right behind it. If you’re that person too….you are not alone. And together we can get though this.

TODAY I LOVE: Watermelon!
SONG OF THE DAY: “Fix You” by Coldplay

a weighty perspective

I think if I tried to summarize this blog 5 words it would probably be “Sarah Struggles to Lose Weight.” I’m frankly kind of embarrassed that is what the sum of my thoughts have centered upon. It’s pretty boring too.

Anywho, in light of my recent attempts to shed some of the mental and emotional weight of STRESS AND ANXIETY, I’m making some more changes. This time in regards to how I’m facing my body image and what I’m going to do about it.

I’m not going to blather on about how I see or feel about myself, I mean, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time you know homegirl has issues. As I said in my post earlier, if I can get some other things in my life in alignment, some of the other pieces will just naturally fall into place.

I’m going to admit something publicly to you all that I’ve only recently been admitting to myself. I have become obsessive about the number and the scale and the calories and everyone’s perception of me. And not obsessive in a good way. I’ve been weighing every day to track trends and it just brings me down first thing in the morning. I follow my macros/calories 85% of the time, and that other 15%…I don’t (not intentionally). And those 15% I make myself pay – mentally. I lay in bed after the day is over and beat myself to a pulp over the mistakes I made. It takes all the enjoyment out of what might have been a lovely dinner with my friend. I have single-handedly taken all the joy out of food. I love to bake and I haven’t in ages because WHAT IF I EAT IT AND IT HAS REAL SUGAR AND BUTTER AND CALORIES OH MY. That is no way to live. Not everything in life should be all about the calories and nothing else.

So what am I doing about it? For starters, I’ve taken all the pressure off. Over and over and over again, every single day, I’ve started telling myself that I’m an awesome and lovely human being. And if someone can’t see me for that rather than what I [think] I look like, well bully on them. I’m ok. And I’m great whatever size I am. Do I want to look and feel better? Sure, but it’ll happen. It’s not going to happen as I’ve been going though.

Second, I’ve stopped weighing every day. The last few weeks I’ve done it every few days or so, or honestly when I feel pretty good. While I still care about the number, I’m working harder to just go by feel.

Lastly, the “extras.” You can bet your booty I’ve had things outside of my plan in the 3-weeks that I’ve actively tried to change. The difference is in how I’m treating it. It’s a CONSCIOUS decision, not an impulse on emotions. I’m also letting myself enjoy it.

It’s probably a good thing that I’m the only person that lives in my mind. Because if anyone knew just how much self-talk behavior modification I’m doing, you’d think I was nuts. But it is working. It’s so, so very hard. But it is working.

If any of you are in the same place that I am…hang in there. And let’s chat. Let me tell you that you’re awesome and a lovely human being. And you are WORTHY of joy.

TODAY I LOVE: a brand new blank Moleskine journal…oh the possibilities!
SONG OF THE DAY: “O” by Coldplay

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)

Soft.

It’s been a week since I admitted to you all that I’m struggling with stress and anxiety. Truth be told, I’ve been struggling for a while but it’s just gotten to the point that I didn’t feel I could handle it without help. So I’ve made changes.

I’ve tried several changes in lifestyle this week. Here’s what I’ve done that has worked (so far):

  • Taken a break a work; at lunch. The weather has been super crummy, so I haven’t been able to leave the building, but I’ve intentionally locked my computer, silenced all notifications, and read. I’ve been able to lose myself in a book for at least 30 minutes everyday. It has been so nice!
  • Started having a glass of Nuun Rest before bed. I’ve had 4 nights in a row of great sleep. Only one night have I woken up at my trademark 1:30am and started thinking about work, and I consciously changed my thoughts, focused on some old meditation/relaxation tricks from therapy, and I went back to sleep.
  • Started taking Super You vitamins from Moon Juice. I didn’t get them until Thursday, so it’s only been a few days. It might be all in my head, but I do think they are helping me focus and not overreact at things. I’ll be keeping those up for sure.
  • I intentionally do not talk about my faith here. After my divorce I was very ashamed and I kinda left church or a bit. Looking back I don’t think it was a conscious decision, but it happened. I’ve been to a new church these last two weeks and I can’t explain the joy it brings me. I’m already looking into a life group; to bring more people into my circle. We aren’t meant to do life in solitude.
  • I’ve forcefully (and sometimes audibly) stopped all thoughts of negativity about my weight and body image. I’ve stayed within my macro limits this week and I’ve gotten over every ugly thought (again, sometimes forcefully). Eventually, if I keep training my thoughts, the ugly thoughts won’t come so much.

What hasn’t worked:

  • I answered a few emails the weekend and I said I wasn’t going to. Grrr.
  • I’ve continued to be negative and a bit closed off at work.

Three times this week I’ve been talking to people and I’ve said something that I want to remember for later. I’ve openly admitted my struggles, and I’ve said that I’m trying to become soft. After I said it the second time I caught myself and then packed it away to examine later. I had become a very hard woman. I’d become jaded and abrupt. I didn’t want to listen to anyone about anything. And I need to become soft. I need to be a sponge. If I’m letting people and words and love wash off me like water off a rock, I’m never going to be better. I need to soak it in. What if what I’m repelling is what I need? What if it’s the cure? While I understand in our culture today it is seen as….wrong…for a woman to be soft. Man or woman…are we sure that’s a good thing? Being hard all the time?

My goal this week, and for the next several weeks, is to continue to be open to change. To be soft. To expand.

Do you need to be soft too?

TODAY I LOVE: the color green…it’s everywhere right now
SONG OF THE DAY: “Love Me Anyway” by P!nk