Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Slacker

I am having the hardest time getting motivated this week.  Okay over the last few weeks.  All I want to do is sleep.  I'm having a hard time staying positive, or even being nice for that matter.  My poor husband.  I was so worried about my lack of energy that I dug out a leftover pregnancy test from under the bathroom sink, blew off the dust and... well you know the rest.  No I'm not pregnant.  HUGE sigh of relief... we're not ready to expand this little family just yet.
Yesterday, as I lay practically drooling on the couch, next to my snoring dog, staring at the explosion of toys on my living room floor, willing them to put themselves away (often my house looks like Toys R Us vomited everywhere), I started to think about what was causing my lack of energy.  I was trying to figure out what has changed from a few weeks ago when I was feeling 'on top of the world', almost bursting with positive energy.  What is different now?
For starters I have been on a baking kick.  Recently, I have made two loaves of banana bread, two batches of my favorite brownies, a cheesecake, and a German chocolate cake (not to mention the Hershey's Drops and Reece's Peanut Butter Eggs I bought).  And, if you're like me, you know that baked goods and sweets have a way of disappearing quickly.  I've been so used to having my two-desserts-per-day quota met, that it feels weird to not have anything sweet in the house to munch on (the remaining brownies and candy went to work with my husband today).
Also, I have mentioned that I'm back on the hooch (IE: Diet Dr. Pepper).  Almost overnight, I went from being soda-free for several months to three cans per day.  Can we say addiction?  It's a little ridiculous that I have that much lack of control, and this is the reason that I will never ever ever pick up another cigarette again (it's been 2 years 5 1/2 months since my last puff).  So what happens when I drink soda?  What's the big deal?  I don't drink water.  I take a few sips before I workout and maybe a few sips during, and that's it.  Yikes.  It's quite possible that the 80% of my body that is supposed to be water is actually carbonated and full of caffeine.
Lastly, I have been slacking in the area of exercise.  WHAT?!?!?!  I have been so lazy lately.  I've been showing up to teach my Yoga classes and then heading home.  Occasionally I've done a few crunches or weight reps prior to my class, but not much else.  Cardio?  Get out of here.  Zumba?  Nope.  What has happened to me?  I've turned into a bonafide slacker.  Lazy.  I've become everything I've ever encouraged you not to be (with the exception of Yoga).
Those are three very real answers to why I have no energy.  1. I've been filling my body full of crap (more often than the occasional indulgence we should all be allowed) instead of foods that nourish me.  2. I'm dehydrated.  Enough said.  3. I'm adding to this vicious cycle by not making myself move.  The lazier you are, the lazier you feel!

So what am I going to do?  Good question.  I'm glad you asked.  First, I'm going to quit baking for a while (or I'm going to continue baking but gift away all of the goods, after I've tested them of course).  Second, as soon as these last few cans of hooch are gone, I'm going to quit drinking soda.  Sadly, with me, it has to be all or none.  And for the health of me (and especially my poor kidneys), it has to be none.  On a slightly pathetic note, I've already been having nightmares about taking the last Diet Dr. Pepper out of the refrigerator.  Lastly, I'm going to have to get my round rump out of bed earlier and get a move on!  I will quit making excuses.  I will be more active so I can feel more active.
Let's face it... the kinder we are to our bodies, the better we feel all around.  The more active we are, the more water we drink, the better we eat, the more amazing we feel on the inside and out.  And most importantly, I am more apt to have a positive attitude on the days I work out and eat better.
Be Healthy.  Be Active.  Love yourself.  And remember... you're In Good Company.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Story

High school.  Yuck.  I wouldn't go back if you paid me.  In fact, I'd probably rather take a bullet to the kneecap than go back.  Seriously.  It's not that I was bullied, or shoved into lockers, or didn't have friends.  I had friends, in most every social group.  But it was still miserable.  I remember at graduation (I had already been a full time college student for a semester), people were crying and taking about a zillion pictures.  I couldn't get out of there fast enough.  And tears?  Not from these hazel beauties!  In hindsight, I wish that I had maybe taken a few pictures; I'm not certain that more than one exists of me in my purple cap and gown.
I think high school was so miserable for me because I didn't feel like I really fit in anywhere.  Like I said, I had friends in most every social group, but I didn't ever feel like there was a place I could really be myself, not that any high school student really knows who they are.  I used to think that my long time friends all of a sudden were too cool to invite me to their parties, but my constant time spent with my boyfriend was probably partially to blame.  I made new friends, but never felt a real sense of belonging.  My deep-seeded, nagging, insecurities that were always right on the surface were most likely at fault.  I never felt like I measured up to those around me.  I was never good enough at anything.  How could I have felt comfortable anywhere if I didn't even feel comfortable in my own skin?  I was constantly whining about being fat, while picking at my lunch of fat free cottage cheese and diet soda, bones protruding from every area.  That had to be annoying.  Maybe no one understood that what I saw in the mirror was actually a morbidly obese version of my gaunt self.
My eating disorder began much earlier than anyone probably realized.  It began much later, however, than my poor self-image did.  I don't really remember the very first day that I became an eating disordered person.  I suppose it just gradually became more and more severe.  My first hospitalization came after a quick and drastic weight loss when I was in the seventh grade and lasted 40 days.  My 5'6" frame was whittled down to just 89 lbs.  I was certain my parents just wanted to make me fat.  I thought they just wanted a break from me.... they probably needed one.  When you're a teenager, the world can sit pretty heavily atop your shoulders.  So my first hospital stay was not taken seriously at all.  Even though I was so dangerously thin I had to be in a wheel chair (the doctors were worried that just walking may give me a heart attack), I used this time to learn new tricks-of-the-trade and made a few friends.

I came home thinner than when I left.  The nurses were probably happy to get rid of this drama-filled child who thought she knew everything about everything.  My parents banned me from exercise and chewing gum, per the doctor's instructions, and were at a complete loss for what to do with me.  I'm not sure if they believed that I was getting better, or if I just got better at hiding the truth.  Purging up to seven times a day.  Throwing up blood.  Skipping meals.  Abusing diet pills.  I spent some time in an unhealthy relationship, but I'll spare you the details on that.  I was hospitalized several more times throughout high school, one time in eleventh grade after a suicide attempt.  I am alive today due only to divine intervention.
Looking back, it all seems so surreal.  Like it was a hundred lifetimes ago... a hundred selves ago.  Like maybe it wasn't even my life at all.  That bratty, spoiled, ungrateful, entitled teenager who felt like everyone was out to destroy her life and make her fat... that was me? 

The road to recovery was no cake walk (although I'm not really certain what a cake walk even is... since we're being honest).  I had spurts of health, trying to diagnose and cure all my friends who I felt were doing something unhealthy, focusing all my attention outward instead of in.  But I would always fall right back into my self-destructive behavior.  Blacking out in public places, knuckles always covered in bloody teeth marks, shaking uncontrollably, hair falling out.  My doctors and counselors and parents tried everything from fear and threats to love and logic.  I didn't listen.

I think part of the problem was that I identified myself with my disease.  Anorexia and Bulimia weren't just a behavior anymore.  They had become intertwined into the deepest part of me, without me even knowing it.  What I didn't know was that this awful disease, this addiction, was controlling me... even though I thought I was the one in control.
When I met my husband, I was gradually able to be myself.  He taught me that it was okay to lounge around in sweats and a T-Shirt (although maybe he regrets this lesson), he taught me to be able to listen when he told me I was beautiful.  It was this new amazing relationship, paired with my determination to grow up and get healthy, all chocolate coated in God's love, that got me through.  I was finally able to forget about the perfect girl I trying so hard to be, and actually learn who I was.  I was able to learn who I was without the eating disorder.  Without the obsessions and compulsions.  I was able to look in the mirror and see what was really there.  I learned to love myself.
I didn't exactly become the picture of perfect health at the time of recovery, but I became carefree and happy.  And that means more to me than any number on any scale.  And it still does.  So would I go back to high school?  Would I walk the halls that, to me, scream sickness and judgement?  No way.  But I have recently decided that I will probably go to my ten-year reunion next year, which is a huge change in attitude from several years ago.  And the thing is, I don't really care about the opinions of girls that are still living like they are in high school, still trying to be too-perfect and flaunting their all-but-perfect bodies.  I don't need to measure up to anyone elses standards but my own.

I don't have to have the nicest house, the newest car, or the most expensive wardrobe.  What I have is much more important.  I know who I am in Christ.  I have a beautiful son whom I am blessed to be able to spend each day at home with.  I have an incredibly loving husband who shares my faith.  I am happy.  I am healthier than I have ever been.  And if my belly has to be a little jiggly in the meantime.  So be it.
My past has given me a testimony.  My past has made me who I am today.  And I'm thankful for the lessons I have learned, as tough and scary as they may have been in the meantime.  And, although it has warranted hundreds of apologies to my parents and sister, I'm glad for my trials and tribulations.  My struggles have given me the freedom to accept who I am, with vigor, today.

Be healthy.  Love yourself for who you are.  And remember... you're In Good Company.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lose Weight the Easy Way?

The word diet absolutely makes me cringe.  My stomach turns and my eyes roll (involuntarily, of course) when someone says "I can't eat that... I'm on a DI-ET".  Doesn't it always sound like that, too?  DI-ET... as if the word itself just screams to be filled with a nasal sound, too long on the I and drawn out on the E.  Anyway, I hate hearing the word diet and I especially hate eating meals with people who are on one (this is mostly because my cheeseburger and diet soda become much less enjoyable when I'm watching someone sadly eat three pieces of lettuce, sans dressing of course).
Don't get me wrong, I am all in support of making healthy choices.  But are you certain that your choices are actually healthy?  Take low-carb diets, for example.  The point of a low, or no, carb diet is to (as with any diet) drop weight.  Do they work?  Sure, maybe for a while.  Are they safe?  Not one bit.  Is this lifestyle sustainable and healthy?  No way.  These balanced-diet-haters are marketing this drastic and quick weight loss without providing all of the facts (fun fact: it's proven that the slower you lose weight, the longer you can keep it off).
Let's look at the facts, shall we?  The energy we use comes from three sources: carbohydrates, fat, and protein.  Carbohydrates are the absolute most important of these three, especially for exercisers.  Carbohydrates provide the energy we need for our muscles to work properly (not to mention your liver and brain).  We don't even begin to use protein during a workout until after we've been exercising for 60-90 minutes.  Surprised?  And guess what?  Yes excess carbohydrates are stored as fat, but so are excess proteins.  Surprised again?
I am not suggesting we go crazy and eat everything in front of us, and I am certainly not suggesting giving up protein (or anything for that matter).  What I am suggesting is that we make healthy, well informed decisions.  There are so many bogus diets out there that get advertised like crazy and have paid spokespersons that probably don't even use the product.  There's a 'Cookie Diet'...  I can't even bring myself to type the words that come to my mind when I hear 'Cookie Diet'.  Then there are the always-ridiculous grapefruit diet, cabbage soup diet, Subway sandwich diet, lemon water detox diet, blood type diet, cereal diet, slim fast diet, Zone diet, apple cider vinegar diet, South Beach diet, and (my two least least favorite of all) the Atkins diet and the hCG diet.
These are so ridiculous.  Seriously.  You can't live your life without carbs.  You can't live off of only grapefruits or cabbage or liquid.  Slim fast is full of sugar.  Eating as if you were in a concentration camp is not a healthy choice or a sustainable lifestyle.  I don't know anyone who wants to drink vinegar each day.  Lunch meat is loaded with sodium.  Do you see where I am going?  These don't make sense.  Think about our ancestors.  They didn't go on crazy diets like these.  They ate smaller portions on smaller plates and were much more active.  And they didn't fill themselves full of harmful 'miracle pills'.

So why do these fad diets and diet pills stick around?  One reason is marketing.  Advertisement can make ANYTHING look good.  Paid actors give false testimonials to crap products with fancy names.  Period.  The second reason that these fads seem to last is because we are a society that thrives on instant gratification.  Why cook when you can drive-through?  Why hand write a letter when you can just use Facebook?  Why eat sensibly and exercise when the lady on TV says you can lose 'X amount' of pounds by tomorrow (another fun fact: healthy weight loss is 0.5-2.0 pounds per week)?  Don't be sucked into the feces that the 'diet' industry is throwing at you.
So how, then, do I lose weight?  Good question.  I'm glad you asked.
1. Exercise.  Building muscle won't make you bulky (can we all just agree to stop believing this myth?); in fact, one pound of muscle burns fifty calories per day while one pound of fat burns only five.  AND... the more calories we burn the leaner we are.  Stop and think about what that means for you long term if you get on a good and sustainable workout routine.  I'm not suggesting that you do Yoga if you hate it, or that you run  if pounding the pavement makes your skin crawl, or that you attend an aerobics class if sweat-bands make you nauseous.  No.  What I'm suggesting is that you find a workout routine you enjoy.  If it's walking, then by all means walk!  If it's swimming, go get your suit!  If you aren't having fun, then you won't continue with it.  Find something you are good at, chances are you will enjoy that more.
2. Eat right.  I'm not a doctor or a dietitian, but my advice is to use your common sense and go back to the basics.  Eat smaller portions, use smaller plates and use the food pyramid for reference.  Drink lots of water and eat the right amounts of grains, meat, beans, poultry, eggs, fish, fruits and vegetables.  Limit your saturated fats, oils, and sugars.
There is so much good information out there, but it is clouded by all the bad information and product-pushers.  The bottom line is this: There is no miracle or one-size-fits-all way.  Don't be fooled by the one-in-a-million success story.  This is your life.  Live it.  Enjoy it.  Exercise should be often, but fun.  Food should be nutritious, but delicious.  You deserve to indulge in a dessert on occasion.  We shouldn't be shackled to trying to remember what phase of what crazy diet we are in each day.  We should enjoy our meals and learn to love our bodies.  We don't have to be carbon copies of Hollywood.  I promise you, we do not.  What we do need to do is to each find, individually, what healthy means to us.  Find what weight your body feels good at.  And try to stay there.
BE HEALTHY.  Love yourself.  And remember... you're In Good Company.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Perfection is EXHAUSTING

I spent the better part of this last weekend in a training that allowed me to earn my group exercise certification.  I passed with a 94% (hooray) and learned so much fantastic information and came away with some great tips that I was able to implement into my classes right away.  One thing I also learned, sitting in a class room (or just sitting) all day is not something I handle well.  This fat girl has to move around!!
It was an interesting dynamic, being in a classroom full of 45 exercise instructors (and future instructors).  I was, absolutely, one of the biggest girls in the room, but it actually didn't bother me too much this time (progress?  I think so).  What was most interesting was the amount of effort that so many of these ladies put into being seemingly perfect.  It exhausted me just to watch, I can't imagine how they felt.  Now, I'm not trying to bash these women.  Really.  I'm not.  I just feel sympathy for some of them I guess.  I remember feeling the way they feel.  Trying to emulate perfect posture.  Every move, from picking up a water bottle to the covering of a yawn, was entirely calculated as if it had been performed in front of a mirror hundreds of times.  Smiles that were more practiced than authentic.  Laughs that were stifled into giggles instead of deep pure belly laughs.  Makeup that was applied and reapplied and reapplied and reapplied.  At times I felt like me and my crazy Tom's shoes were intruders in this Stepford-Wife-meets-"Get-In-Shape-Girl"-Barbie world.
There were a few times when I felt like the others were shocked that I instruct Yoga at all (let alone 5 classes a week).  Maybe because I'm chunky.  Maybe because I didn't fit the mold of the typical exercise instructor.  Maybe I just was assuming they would be shocked.  I proudly walked in with my giant diet soda and maybe I snacked a little to much.  Maybe I was trying to observe all of their 'quirks' because I was afraid they would judge me first.  Maybe.
All I know is that it is incredibly exhausting to try to be perfect all the time.  I spent a lot of years wasting my time, my youth, and my health trying to achieve perfection.  What I learned was that there is no such thing as perfection (with the exception of Jesus, of course). Perfection is unobtainable and I don't have the energy to even try to seem a little perfect.  I am so very thankful that my friends and family don't expect me to be perfect, because they would be sorely disappointed each and every day.
I just wish that we could all be authentic.  It must be so tiresome (and is exhausting to just watch) trying to control every muscle in your body to perform every day tasks in a calculated manner so that every move you make looks absolutely perfect.  It wasn't as if we were being photographed for some fitness magazine.  I just wanted to scream, "For Pete's sake, just let your perfectly manicured hair down and be yourself for two seconds!"
I'm sure that I'm coming off crass, or maybe even jealous.  And that's fine I guess (just know that I truly and sincerely have no desire to be perfect).  I will admit that I would love to be thinner and toner, but perfect?  No way.  I want people to understand that it's okay to be who they are, to be who God made them.  We don't have to or need to try to achieve this unachievable level of perfection.  If you surround yourself with kind and authentic people, they will allow you to be authentic as well.
Be yourself.  Love your imperfections.  And remember... you're In Good Company.