Saturday, April 11, 2015

Challenges of a Health Challenge

I have been obese most of my adult life. About 10 years ago a friend offered to be my coach and helped me lose 115 pounds over the course of about 16 months. I looked and felt amazing and healthy and strong. Since then I have had 2 more children. When I got pregnant with my youngest about 5 years ago, I started a dramatic weight gain that continued even after I had him, partly due to the post-partum depression that followed his delivery. It was humiliating for me, especially when I would visit friends and family who knew me when I was losing weight before. Now I am at the heaviest I have ever been, but I am also (finally) the most comfortable I have ever been in my own skin. It's kind of a paradox, but there it is. I have resisted making a structured effort to lose weight over the past couple of years. I think partly because I am afraid to fail, and partly because I don't want to get back in the habit of beating myself up over things. I like myself and don't feel like my obesity makes me any less worthwhile or valued. I also just opened a home bakery, and in doing so have owned the fact that I love food and desserts without any shame or embarrassment. These are big, big steps for me. Now I'm finally ready for the next one.

This past week I started an 8-week health challenge. Over the past few days I've realized there are a few things I need to be cautious about in this process in order to keep my attitude positive and my emotional health stable.

Challenge 1 - The Picture

As part of this challenge, I am supposed to take a "before" picture at the beginning. But if you've read my post The Before-After Trap, then you know I have some problems with the whole idea of a before/after mindset. I decided I'd take the "before" picture as requested, but with the extra edits that you see above. And if I'm going to look at a before picture, then I'm going to let it be something that reminds me of my worth TODAY.

Challenge 2 - The Competition

Another thing that I haven't done with this health challenge is "pay in" to be eligible for cash prizes. At first, the decision was made based purely on finances since we've had a few unexpected bills over the past couple of weeks. However, as the first week has progressed, I've realized that it has also taken the stress off for me. My motivation to succeed has nothing to do with anyone other than ME. And while this approach doesn't work best for everyone, it is perfect for me. I am a stress eater, so guess when  happens when I get stressed out over a health competition? I EAT! It totally defeats the purpose. I am insanely competitive, but this is MY quality of life we are talking about. It isn't a game. But I can still be a "winner" is if I make permanent, positive changes. And that's the ONLY way.

Challenge 3 - The Points

Each week we have a list of daily things to do that are worth certain points, as well as a weekly challenge and a weekly bonus. In the past I've started RIGHT off the bat with a focus on getting every single point I possibly can. However, what typically happens is I do fantastic at first, and then fade out within a couple of weeks because I have burned myself out. It is too much for me to try to change everything at once. So I've started off this time with a focus on 2-3 of the things that I can accomplish first. My goal is to get perfect points IN THOSE THINGS for week 1. I haven't gotten a single point for staying away from sweets in this first week, but I have gotten all my points so far for the required amount of fruits/veggies and drinking all my water. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I'm approaching it that way.

Challenge 4 - The End

I'll have to revisit this topic at the end of my 8-week challenge, but there is always a risk at the end of something like this that I will lapse back in to my previous poor habits. That is why I am focusing on making long-term changes instead of short-term extremes. It's just not reasonable to assume that I will ever be able to avoid sweets permanently. They are not inherently evil and I have no desire to do so. I am a baker, for Pete's sake! What I CAN do is limit my servings and frequency. I CAN make sure there is some nutritional value to what I consume, rather than chugging soda or chomping on Twizzlers. These are the kinds of changes that I WANT to make. And they won't go away just because I don't have to turn in points every week.

Overall, I am excited to finally be doing something proactive about my health again. I am excited to set goals and live consciously. I am thrilled at the thought of being able to run again and see muscles and shrink out of my favorite clothes.

And I am enjoying the journey as I go, not just saving up my happiness for Someday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


I know it probably looks like I've been neglecting myself if the activity of this blog is anything to go by, but that isn't the case. I guess I just do better when I pay attention to my need and desire to write rather than trying to follow a regimented schedule. It appears this is a lesson I have had to learn more than once, if my previous blog posts are anything to go by.

There's so much on my mind today. In a way, my heart is breaking just a little bit.

A couple that I know just separated, and the mom left dad with their 5 kids and left town. And while I wasn't super-close to the family, we were on friendly terms. I can't stop thinking about their oldest girl who will need to take on a variety of new responsibilities to help dad with her younger siblings and the house. And I am grieving for her and for me all over again.

I wasn't the oldest, but I was the one that took on the responsibility of caring for my younger siblings when my mom was working. I don't blame my mother, and I have forgiven my father, but this realization of just what I lost is still fairly new - just a year and a half old. 

Today I am so grateful for my counselor that showed me compassion and helped me to feel again. I'm grateful for my husband who has let me grieve 25 years too late. And I'm grateful for my mother who held it together for our family for all those years.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Distractions are a part of life. And while the word itself seems to have a negative connotation, they aren't always a negative thing.

A distraction is simply something that prevents us from giving our full attention to something else. How we feel about these diversions can be an indicator of whether our priorities are in the right place. For example, if you resent the interruption of your child while you're goofing around on Facebook... I would suggest that you check your priorities. Facebook doesn't NEED your whole attention the way your child NEEDS to know you love and care about him/her.

In my experience, it is the distractions in my life that bring me the greatest joy, the most tender moments, and that help me feel needed. 

So where am I going with this? Well, I was in the shower this morning when I realized I had only posted once on here this week. I started mentally kicking myself for not making my goal in the very first week I had set it! How could I let myself get distracted from something so simple?

When I thought over my last few days, the answer was clear: there were other things I needed to be doing. Two people very dear to me had two separate crises this week. I was asked to help someone Thursday evening with a personal emergency. My daughter had a friend over on Friday night, and I watched a movie with my family Saturday night. And through it all, there were kids to hug and people to feed and errands to run. Technically, these were all distractions from my goal. But I don't care. My heart is full today. My best moments this week took place during these "interruptions". These were the things that mattered most.

"Diligently doing the things that matter most will lead us to the Savior of the world."
~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tender Hearts

A few years ago my sister-in-law sent me a copy of this book called "If You Want to Write". She didn't give it to me because I had aspirations of being a writer. From what I can tell, it's a book about the importance of being creative - whether in writing, art, music, etc. I haven't ever gotten all the way through it, in fact. But I've started it about three times. I know that might not sound like a glowing recommendation for a book, but it is. I wouldn't have restarted it if I didn't think it was worth it. And the fact I haven't finished it has more to do with me than with the quality of the author's writing.

One quote that always stands out to me near the beginning is this:

"EVERYBODY IS ORIGINAL, if he tells the truth, if he speaks from himself. But it must be from his true self and not the self he thinks he should be."

Too often I am so focused on what I should be that I forget who I really am. I have come a long way in learning to cast off this facade of perfection that I used to carry around. Yet admitting my weaknesses doesn't mean that I am really showing others my true self. It simply means I am willing to stop pretending that I have it all together. I still hide my insecurities, from myself and from others. I don't like to look at them too long because I keep thinking I should be able to overcome them. And let's be honest here - focusing on insecurities doesn't make them diminish. If anything, the opposite happens and soon that is all we can see when we look at ourselves. 

I also concede that it's not a good idea to trumpet our flaws and tender hearts around for everyone to see. There really are people in this world who hurt other people on purpose. We need to protect our hearts from those people, too. Somewhere there is a balance, but I don't think I've really found it yet. However, I am not willing to lock up my heart to protect it. It doesn't work. Our hearts and emotions need sunlight, open space, and even the occasional rainstorm to thrive and blossom and grow into the kind of heart that can love others (and ourselves) unconditionally and without judgment. You can't have the joy without the pain, the happiness without the sorrow. When you love deeply, you can also hurt deeply. But at least you know you are alive and present in your life.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Getting Centered

I love beginnings. 

Monday is always my favorite day of the week, because it means getting back into routine and getting things accomplished. Perhaps that's why so many of us like to make New Years resolutions. It is a beginning and we feel like it gives us a chance to get something done we have been putting off. And while I've never been a dedicated resolution-maker, I do like to set goals and work towards something.

Tomorrow it will be a year since I've started this blog, and I have to admit that I haven't yet used it as the tool I hoped it would be. I still struggle with taking time for myself in quiet reflection each day. This time is vital for helping me to stay centered on what I need to do to nourish myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally. That being said, I do feel as if I have grown in 2014, and that means I am still heading (generally) in the right direction, even if I feel like I am weaving along the path sometimes.

I've been giving consideration to what I should focus on to continue improving my health, and I keep coming back to this blog. I need to write more. When I write I process the thoughts dancing around in my brain and organize them into a cohesive idea or principle. Since tomorrow is my bloggerversary (is that even a real thing??), this is a great time to set a goal.

So my goal for this coming year is to post here three days per week. Ideally I will spread it out, but I'm sure there will be times when I have to get it in on Fri/Sat/Sunday. Don't judge me. I'm in the process of becoming something, and I'm far from perfect - just like everyone else on this planet. 

Well, most of us.