Category Archives: Challenge

From daydreaming to “in progress”

I am in a place of having goals for my health again. It has been a long time. I reflect on some of my writing from 5 or 7 years ago – and sometimes I can hardly recognize that person. Someone so dedicated to workout routines and health goals – and putting those goals first and foremost. I know that girl exists inside me somewhere…but I am hoping we have evolved. Priorities certainly shift as life changes. As I was re-reading a blog from the summer of 2010 – I wrote about how important it was to not skip a workout, because that meant it wasn’t a priority and how you should always make it one. And that makes me chuckle a bit now as a  working mom of two. It has been a long time since I have made myself a priority.

On my 36th birthday this year – I did make a new commitment to myself. I was going to spend some time and money on getting back to a place where I felt good about myself. It has been incredibly challenging to eat super clean – no dairy, no fats, no oils, no grains/wheats. I am on day 34 and I have been really pleased with my results. Yesterday, a friend stopped me in the hall at work to comment on my progress. It is those moments where reality sets in….that I am doing something that is changing me from the inside out.

For the first time in…a REALLY long time, I am feeling more confident in myself. I put on a more fitted outfit this week and didn’t feel disgusted by what I saw in the mirror. I am making progress.

In this world where I know I put everyone else in front of me, especially my kids, I feel empowered by this decision to focus on my health again. I haven’t added back in the daily workouts that I did many years ago. I am honest with myself that I likely don’t have time or energy for that at this point. I am focusing 100% on nutrition and am going to ride this wave until it’s obvious I need to add in the workouts to continue to make progress. That feels efficient and smart to me right now. I know myself and my current state of life (read: 1 year old & 4 year old plus working full time) well enough to not take on more than I can handle. Because I’ll get frustrated and just quit.

I am a little over halfway to my first goal. And everyday – I get more excited about the progress I’m making. Not just on the scale and how my clothes fit…but how much better I am starting to feel about myself. This journey is emotional – it really is about letting go of somethings I’ve held onto for a really long time.

The other day in the car, I was thinking about what was holding my back. What has kept me from really trying to do this for so many years? And out of nowhere, I said out loud, “I need to give myself permission to be beautiful.” And that felt really weird to say. I wanted to take it back because it seemed so….stereotypical? I am not sure what it made me feel. Maybe even embarrassed a little. But as I’ve lived with that thought for a few days, I think my inner voice was onto something. We get in our own way – whether it’s confidence, losing weight, going after a dream job, and we have to give ourselves permission to be successful! That it’s okay to do a good job and enjoy the reward.

I am not where I want to be yet – but it feels really empowering to be IN PROGRESS instead of just daydreaming about doing something different.

I don’t get a chance to write here very often, but since I am on a roll with some #lifechanges, I thought I’d try to document some of this work I’m doing!

Until next time…..

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Beyond the Thank You

First off, I have to admit that finding time and creative energy to blog weekly has been a challenge for me. I guess that is part of the intention though, to push myself. So here I am…week 3. Thank you to those who have reached out to tell me you are glad I’m blogging again…blogging can sometimes feel like talking to an empty room. So, thank you for making me feel heard. It makes a big difference to me!

Okay, that actually segways into my intended topic nicely today. On with it, as they say…

When is the last time you thanked someone? Not just a quick, “Hey, thanks!” or the generic thank you note we end up writing after we recieve gifts (unless you are the rare amazing gift thank you card writer, I know maybe 1 person in this category!).  I’m talking about a real sincere and specific thank you.

It’s been awhile for me too, so don’t feel bad if this has you thinking and coming up short.

Let me back up for a minute. I had the fun experience this past week to go back in time to my last job and participate as an employer at a student career fair alongside a few of my colleagues. It felt strange to be on the “other side” – but I fell into step with my old colleagues right away, laughing and joking and catching up with things happening. They are family like that – you don’t have to talk everyday to feel connected.

Anyway, after a long day of standing and chatting up students and alumni about my company, I was so ready to sit down (p.s. cute shoes + pregnancy isn’t a match)! As I was finishing up my meal, a young lady with a familiar face tapped me on the shoulder.

“Dre? I’m not sure you’d remember me, but I’m (insert name here) and I was one of your ACAD babies.” (read: she took a freshman 101 course that I taught).

Me: “Oh wow! Your face was familiar but I wasn’t sure since you were here as an employer how I might know you! How are you?”

Her: “I’m great! Actually, that is why I wanted to come and talk to you. I never had a chance to thank you. The whole reason I’m here today recruiting for my company is because of you.”

She went on to tell me that as a result of her being in my freshman 101 course, she came to see me later in her college life to help with a resume. Then I helped her with a resume to get an internship. The internship turned into a full time job where she is happily employed now that she has graduated.

Of course, all of this was so great to hear. There is nothing that makes a career development professional more pleased than to hear  someone is happily pursuing a career they love because you helped in some way. But during her story she said something that really stood out to me:

“I figured that you might not always get to hear the success stories of the people you help, and I’m so appreciative of the time you spent with me. It really helped me get to where I am today. Thank you.”

She’s right. It’s so rare in life to get the end of any story. We play a minor role in a lot of peoples lives, and often we are in a different place by the time the story of that person plays out. We don’t know the impact we have on someone through our actions, our words, our referrals, by just offering a friendly smile on a crap day.

But that’s why it’s so important we take this whole “thank you” thing more seriously. My heart grew about 3 sizes when she shared her success with me. It made me feel so good that I had a positive impact on someones career, even if it was just helping her get on track with a resume and internship.

downloadHow hard would it be for us all to take time to reach out to someone who made a difference in our life? Did you ever tell someone  what they said made a difference? Maybe it wasn’t a life altering thing, but maybe someone’s well timed joke or delivery of baked goods was just what you needed when you felt like giving up.

I am going to take time to be more sincere with my thank you’s. I won’t overlook the power of good manners, but I don’t want to miss the opportunity to sincerely appreciate someone when they have made a difference in my day, and even more so – if they’ve made a difference in my life.

I challenge you to do the same.

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The Give and Take

My last post was almost 2 years ago on this site. I’ve decided to try a “come back” here promising a weekly blog. More on that in a sec…

There is too much that has happened to capture in a catch up blog, so here’s the deal – I’ll fill you in as we go. Here’s what is important for today and this first blog back in the sattle…

Our family at my son's 2nd birthday party!

Our family at my son’s 2nd birthday party!

My family has recently started attending a church. We moved to “the suburbs” last year and with our little guy on the brink of turning 3 and another one on the way, I really wanted to get back into a church community. We really like where we are going now, but haven’t officially joined yet. It’s a Presbyterian Church which is a bit different from my husband’s Catholic school upbringing and my Southern Baptist world. But it’s a place where I can see my family growing as part of the community and that it important. Our minister sends out a weekly email blog of sorts with some food for thought. This past week, she talked about Lent and her ideas about what she was going to do and it got me thinking.

I have often played around with the “Lent” thing…but it was not part of what we did growing up so this is the first year that I’m surrounded by a church community who participates. I’ll be honest that my freshman year of college, I thought the rapture was upon us as everyone around me had this “mark” on their forward and no one else seemed to be noticing but me. After a miniature freak out, my more cultured friends told me it was Ash Wednesday. Whew, what a relief.

Anyway, I’ve been pondering on what I want to do for Lent this year…and something my minister said struck a chord with me. She talked about how Lent doesn’t have to be just giving up something, it could be adding something to your life as well. I’d never considered that as an option….

After about a  week of thinking about it, I’ve come up with my Lent plan and my focus is on what I’m adding, not taking away. I’ve thought about 3 different buckets in my life I’ve been neglecting:  Spirit, Mental, Physical and aligned my Lent commitments under each of them. Often times I’ve only focused on the physical side and while its good….I am hoping to get in on some of that reap what you sow “stuff” 🙂

Spirit: A daily dose of God via an app called Daily Bible Devotion (free)

I don’t know if I’ll love the app, so I give myself permission to change to a different daily devotion if I don’t dig this one. But the bigger purpose is to not limit my interactions with God to just the weekends during church or when its good timing for me. I want to work on keeping Him in my thoughts on the regular and I hope working on this will lead to me feeling more connected to His plan and purpose in my life. So we’ll try it during Lent and see what happens.

1a7991081f279607a3b477f48d26cb0dMental: Challenging myself to write on a weekly basis

So the mental component is….well, you are looking at it. Getting back to blogging is something I have really wanted to do for awhile. I love to write and the sense of community, but often have trouble finding time to make it happen. Commiting to a weekly blog with some food for thoughts (okay, and maybe a picture of food every now and again because who doesn’t love that?) is a great mental challenge that will hopefully reconnect me to some of that “old me” stuff that I really loved (and miss). Let’s be honest, you – dear reader, benefit from the this challenge the most, am I right?!

Physical: Pass the water

So this is the one area where I’m trying to cut out something. Being pregnant and all, I already have to cut out a lot of stuff but I have still been indulging in the occasional soda. I just can’t seem to kick the habit even though I’ve done it before. So now it’s time to pull the plug and focus on more water, tea, limited coffee and of course, milkshakes. 🙂 I do drink a lot of water already, I just get bored really easy…so I need to get over myself and do this already. Lent seems like a good time to make this committment.

So it’s a lot that I’m taking on…but I’m hoping the recommitment to my spirtual life and working on incorporating writing into my life again will be good for me all around. Putting things in writing is a great way to stay committed to your goals – no matter what type of goal you are making.

What goals are you currently working toward or are you giving up or adding something during Lent?

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Weekend Rewind

Oh, how I wish this were true! Just the opposite though – gotta make every day count toward you goal.

Weekends are always the hardest when you are trying to change your bad eating habits in my opinion. There is something about the lack of schedule and consistency that makes everything more difficult. Having an almost 7 month old definitely gives me SOME routine in the sense that he usually wakes up around the same time and goes to bed around the same time. But really, everything else is up in the air. On the weekends, we had really fallen into the habit of going out for breakfast on both Saturday and Sunday. And I would say it’s pretty simple to eat Primal style for breakfast (bacon and eggs, please!) but it’s always healthier and cheaper to just eat at home. Over the past few months, eating out has just been the norm on weekends. We didn’t buy enough food to cook meals on the weekend and it just was easier to get something while we were out and about.

But the fun has to end, folks. I just can’t eat out every meal on the weekends and expect to be staying on track with my goals. That makes me sad, because I love to eat out. Not that my husband isn’t an amazing cook, but there is just something magical about going out to eat. Sort of like the difference between seeing a really good movie at home or seeing it in a theater. You still walk away thinking it’s a good movie, but the theater experience just was bigger, better, MORE! I have to make peace with eating at home. After the new year, my husband and I are going to pick a month in which we will NOT eat out. I will probably cry a little bit, because it sounds terrible. But sometimes the things that are the hardest to give up are the things you need to give up MOST. And perhaps after not eating out for a month – it will be easier to stay on track with just eating out once a week or whatever.

After this weekend, I’m pretty proud of myself. We ate out for breakfast on Saturday and had dinner at home with some friends. Both breakfast and dinner were on track with our primal habits. On Sunday, I had some raw walnuts for breakfast and we met friends out for lunch. This was going to be my “cheat meal.” But instead of going ALL OUT on my cheat, I just cheated a little bit. We went to a barbeque place, so getting meat was pretty simple. I ordered pulled pork and a side salad and sweet potato fries. I didn’t eat the texas toast that came along with it. So my cheat were the fries (I can eat sweet potatoes but I should probably not eat fried things in general!) and the southwestern dressing probably wasn’t the best either. But I didn’t have a large portion of it. Our eating mates ordered fried pickles for an appetizer which is my FAVORITE app from this place. But I didn’t have a single one. Just for that alone I should get a prize!! I also had 1 beer which was a cheat. After I had it, I immediately felt congested. Crazy, huh?

But the rest of the weekend? Totally on track. I felt like I was less snacky and in general, less hungry this weekend than normal. We ate 2 meals each day vs. 3 and I felt fine. This week is going to be super challenging since we have TWO Thanksgiving dinners to attend. I haven’t decided what I’ll do yet about staying Primal. But I think my overall goal for both meals is to not indulge in giant portions of anything that isn’t Primal. Just have a taste of something if it’s not on track vs making it the main event. I hope I have good news to report back next week.

For my first week back on Primal, I am down 4.5 pounds from my starting weight. Now this week, weighing sounds like a scary thing since we’ll be going through a major holiday! So we’ll see how I survive. But in the end, moderation is the biggest takeaway here, not perfection…because perfection ISN’T real life.

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Primal Progress such as NOT eating a cookie

Well, I know it’s only 3 days in to being back on Primal track. But the first few weeks of any new challenge is the hardest, so I thought checking in would be a good idea.

Overall, i’m feeling good. I haven’t had too many cravings – but I know it’s only been three days! I will say that I’m so much more aware of how temptation is everywhere. I went to a meeting on Monday and what did they have? Sodas (UGH I wanted a free diet coke sooo.bad.), cookies (work cookies are MY FAVORITE. As in, I want to steal them and eat more later). And brownies (just stab me).

I maintained total control. I was all “in your face, cookies. I don’t need you!

And I didn’t. I brought my water and focused on the content of the meeting, not on how good those cookies and brownies looked that everyone else was eating. I am not everyone else right now, I am a woman on a mission. And the only thing that will come between me and my goals…is me, right? (cue cheers from the crowd!)

I often hesitate to make any final decisions because I like to be open to changing things up, I like flexibility and the option to change my mind (hello fellow Perceivers for my MBTI folk). So making a hard and fast decision to go back to Primal eating is a challenge in itself. I’m really glad we built in the cheat day because knowing myself – I would probably crumble apart the first time I screwed up and throw in the towel. But life isn’t all or nothing, although I think we are all guilty of acting like it is sometimes.

I’m going into this new challenge with the idea that it’s going to be HARD. I’m not going to get to eat cookies everyday (I might need counseling about this). There will be some weeks where more than one fun event happens and I’ll have to  choose which thing will be my cheat and find a way to stay on track at the other one. In the end, there will be times I screw up and accidentally have a bite of cake that someone brought in before I realize the error of my ways. But that is okay. There have been a lot of things in my life this past year that have been way more challenging than this (like figuring out how to take care of a newborn) and I can figure it out.

I really wish I just didn’t care about food so much. I envy people who can really view food as just “energy” or “fuel” vs. an opportunity to experience food because it’s so delicious. It seems like changing up what you eat wouldn’t be such a big deal if I could get to that place. I remember when I was doing the Primal eating consistently last year and I definitely got to the place where I enjoyed foods differently. Like today I snacked on organic raw walnuts. Me from 2 years ago would have thrown up in her mouth a little at that idea.

But I like them now…I just needed to give myself the chance to try them. So I know that with this challenge, there is also great opportunity to discover new things about what I like and what I’m capable of (apparently NOT ending a sentence in a preposition is NOT on that list).

So as I head into the last half of this week – I’m feeling optimistic. And maybe I’m not so scared of the scale on Friday!

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Back to my Primal Ways

Today is my first day back “on a plan.” I’ve been stewing about what to do for the past month or so. I think part of meeting health goals (or really any type of goal) is best served by knowing what type of person you are and then coming up with a game plan that meshes well with your personality type. I am a pretty laid back person, but when it comes to health and fitness – I know that I need a regimen. Something to put on the calendar, a schedule – a guide. Books to read ABOUT the plan. You get the point. This is in severe contrast to my actual personality and it took me awhile to figure that out about myself.

So I’ve been hesitant to commit to a plan because I feel like my life no longer revolves around me, and that makes sticking to any sort of personal schedule really difficult impossible. As I’ve  been reflecting on things I’ve done in the past and what worked, what didn’t work – what I hated and all that fun stuff, I kept on arriving back at the Primal inspired eating habits I took on right before I got pregnant. The first few weeks were not fun, but once I got past all the carb and sugar cravings, I felt really good. I wasn’t starving all the time. I got to eat good things, even if they were different from what I had eaten in the past. But making a decision to give up grains/wheat is a big one. It’s not something I was ready to do right away after returning to it again – all my cravings are in full effect and the idea of not eating sandwiches and bread sticks seems really terrible and hard.

Then I remembered that when I was eating Primal – I stopped having those cravings and it wasn’t so bad. And I gave myself one cheat meal a week so if I felt like I HAD to indulge (like say….my birthday cake or something!) – I had the option to do so and I could plan for it. It really all boils down to just committing to something. For me. I realized over the past few weeks that I’ve stopped making any decisions for ME since I’ve become a mom. And now I understand all those moms I would see on What Not To Wear who had gained weight and lost touch with their own sense of individuality. I can totally see how that happens now. It’s easy to lose sight of your own goals and interests when you have someone else 100% dependent on you to live.

And that decided things for me. I can’t give up on me…on my goals and my own personal sense of happiness. Being healthy, or at least working toward that goal was a big part of who I was pre-baby. And I have to find that part of myself again. Instead of waiting for some “return to normal life” switch to flip on (not going to happen), I just have to jump in and figure it out as I go. I’ve done Primal before, I can do it again.

So today is a new day. A new start. This is my first decision for me that I’ve made in awhile and I think it’s a good one. Today is our return to Primal eating in an effort to be healthier and have more energy for my ever more difficult to juggle schedule. I think starting with an eating habit makeover is easier than trying to find time to work out right now, so this is at least a start! And as research shows – diet alone can be a major impact on weight loss and exercise is bonus points. I want those bonus points, but not making it my focus right now.

My first goal is to lose the baby weight I’m still carrying around. I forgot to get on the scale this morning to having a starting point – but my estimate is somewhere between 10-12 pounds. And then once I’m there, I’ll set my next goal! As usual, I start my fitness and healthy eating plans at terrible times – like holiday season. I guess I like a challenge!

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Just like riding a bike

Family bike ride. :)

Family bike ride. 🙂

I can’t really remember when I started riding road bikes. It happened as a natural extension of my relationship with my husband since he is so into bike riding. Perhaps it was my brief relationship with triathlon’s that sparked my interest in bike riding again.

Growing up – I was constantly on my bike, blazing through my neighborhood with no fear. In the evenings, all the neighborhood kids would ride their bikes in a circle at the dead end on my street just because we didn’t have anything else better to do but it just seemed to feel like the right place to be.

Back then, wearing a helmet to ride your bike wasn’t a thing. So some of the crazy stunts I pulled, or just some of the stupid mistakes I made on my bike could have ended up a lot worse than they were. Usually I walked (okay LIMPED) away with skinned up and bloody legs or arms, only to be right back in the saddle the next day. I loved my bike.

I loved the feeling of the wind whipping through my hair, I loved how fast I could go and the feeling of your stomach dropping as you went for it down the steepest hill you could find. It was like freedom to me.

As I aged out of the “it’s cool to ride your bike” thing, I forgot about my bike. I think my parents gave it away to my cousin – I really have no clue. I think I also forgot how much fun I had on a bike until I revisited the idea as an adult.

And even then, I approached “bike riding” with so much more caution as an adult. Everything seemed harder and more complicated. The hills seemed scary, the idea of riding without a helmet absolutely ludicrous. What happened to that bike riding fool I was so many years ago?

I eventually found my grove again on the bike. I found friends who also liked to ride their bikes, and while we didn’t ever meet to ride in circles in my neighborhood – we did meet up to ride several mile loops that led absolutely no where. Biking became “exercise.” I enjoyed it, but I always felt like it was so much harder than I remembered.

When I got pregnant, my doctor banned me from road riding. I haven’t set foot on a bike in over a year. Last night, my husband aired up my bike tires and brought my bike upstairs for me. I pulled my helmet, gloves, special shoes and sunglasses out of a bag that hadn’t been opened in a long time. It was like seeing a good friend whom you’ve lost touch with – and while you are excited to see them, it’s weird at first no matter what.

I was terrified all over again. How do I change gears? Will I remember how to clip in and out – what if I fall and make my knee hurt even more? I didn’t want to go for a ride anymore, it seemed too hard.

I did it anyway.

My husband offered to come outside to help me get started – but I refused. I needed to just do this on my own. If I was going to fall, I wanted it to be on my own so I could just get back up again, shrug it off and not have to tell anyone about it in the first place.

That first down up stroke was the most nerve wracking. It was like committing to something all over again. It took me awhile to get my left foot clipped in. I got my feet squared away and started working with the gears, trying to remember how to do this, praying I wouldn’t screw things up and cause my chain to pop off (I seemed to always manage to do this to my bike before).

I only rode my bike for about 20 minutes. I avoided the big hills and kept it in an easy gear. My knee hurt. My posture was all wrong. I felt out of breath. But I did it.

And maybe this weekend I’ll do it again. And maybe the time after that I’ll tackle that hill in our neighborhood without throwing on the brakes. I have to get back to that person.

I know I’m looking for myself again. Waiting, wanting to see that girl fly down the hill, wind blowing her hair, eyes wide and a scared but excited grin on her face. I need to find her. I’m searching at the end of every street.

 

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