I need sleep and some goddamn salad

I really need to find my focus for exercise. I did 5 weeks of regular strength training 2-3 days/week and continuing all my walking and hiking. My 6th week was interrupted by my chronic back problems. I returned to physical therapy for a little while and have been cleared now for almost two(?) weeks… but the motivational damage seems to have been done. Big time.

Then I went on a mini-vacation this past weekend and ate and drank all that Charleston, SC had to offer.

Listen, I know fat is not a feeling… but I am feeling very fat today. And really what that means is:

  • I’m very bloated because I’ve just started my period
  • I drank a lot of alcohol over the last few days and this is contributing to both my current mental state and water retention
  • I ate something over the last couple days that isn’t sitting quite right and that’s also making me feel kind of puffy and generally gross
  • I ate very few fruits and veggies over the last few days
  • I didn’t sleep well while out of town
  • It was incredibly hot and humid in SC – more water retention
  • I probably could have drank more water than I did
  • Some really inconvenient and potentially expensive issues popped up with my house while I was gone which has tanked my ability to be bright and positive about anything at this point in time

(PS – f*ck home ownership)

I don’t know how to get back on-track with daily exercise other than just talk about it a whole bunch until it results in some action. I’ve been thinking a lot about re-joining my local gym and actually shelling out some money for personal training sessions. I want to overhaul my diet a bit, too. I think I have a tendency to hide a little bit behind “moderation” – I could stand to eat a lot more fruits and veggies and a helluva lot less pizza and fried food than I currently do. These things are more long-term-type goals, but putting them out into the ether is good. The foundations are being laid for implementing some change.

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Impostor No More

I mentioned last post that I had a story to tell about physical therapy – so here we go!

Ironic that I one of the last regular blog posts I wrote was about being a runner, feeling like an impostor runner, etc. etc. …so, turns out, I probably shouldn’t run ever again! tenor

For my back health…. but, also, funny enough, my knees. Apparently my knees are not doing so great. Even though I’m not having any pain (yet), they make this really nasty crackling noise, which means my cartilage is wearing away and if I continue with high-impact exercise (LIKE RUNNING!) I could very easily end up arthritic down the road. In the words of my physical therapist, “If running isn’t your source of income, you probably shouldn’t do it.”

Okay, then.

The good news is, I can still walk, hike, bike, swim, and goof off on an elliptical. My main source of exercise for the last several months has been walking and hiking anyhow. I’d like to give biking a shot, too.

Nonetheless, this information was a little devastating. I’ve recently been really looking forward to returning to running. Now I just need to look forward to discovering new cardio outlets!

Real Talk

I am having a I Feel Disgusted With My Body day.

This feeling, I realized, is most-often brought on my seeing candid or quickly-posed photos of myself and, occasionally, weighing myself.

Well, I haven’t weighed myself in probably two months, so there could be only one other culprit…

If you follow my Instagram, you’ll see one of the two photos that put me in this mental place. Here’s the second one (which is the worst offender):File_000

Logically I know that most of what I dislike about this photo is just weird shadowing on my thighs and lower abdomen. And let me just add: even if there wasn’t this weird shadowing adding what looks to be weird fat-foldy-ness to these areas of my body and, say, my body actually did look like this, THAT IS OKAY AND I AM STILL A WORTHY PERSON WITH SASS AND GRACE AND BEAUTY. …nonetheless, I hate my body shape today and feel kind of gross and disgusting.

I’ve spent far too much mental energy trying to come up with some way to effectively starve myself small and somehow not feel starving… which, y’know, doesn’t actually exist. One can eat in a caloric deficit and gradually lose fat, but the fact of the matter is you will still have times when you’re hungry because being in a deficit is exactly that: being hungry sometimes. Not starving, but… I’m getting off track. Most of you know this shit.

Using my CBT tools that I’ve spent lots of money acquiring over the last several years, I’ve been doing my best to shut down these negative thoughts, to negotiate around, to offer positive affirmation, and, finally, to put together a solution.

Where does this body dissatisfaction come from? Part of it is: the body in that picture is not the body I see when I look in the mirror each morning. It’s not the body I see when I catch my reflection in a window. But, most importantly, it’s not the body I see in my mind’s eye. All these things I just mentioned? These are the perceptions of my body that should matter. An unflattering picture does not.

Back to that solution, though… The first is the one I’ve been working so hard on for the last few years, and that is: loving my body no matter what shape or size it is and thinking positively about my present body while being grateful for all the cool shit it does for me. The second solution is to get back to regularly lifting some heavy weight. I got 5 weeks in recently, but some of those workouts were derailed by back issues. I just recently got clearance from my physical therapist (this is a whole other story I’ve been meaning to write about, too, so stay tuned for that at some point before too long) as well as some good exercises to do to make sure I’m firing my glutes properly to protect my problem areas and I’m super stoked to take this knowledge with me into the weight room.

Returning to weight lifting is what’s going to help me the most to change my body composition and get me closer to the aesthetic I want without a super restrictive diet. The fact of the matter is, I don’t give a flying f*ck if I stay a size 18/20 if I have a bunch of bad-ass, strong, visible muscles that power all the things I love to do most.

To wrap things up, a reminder for me and for anyone else struggling with this same stuff:

Eat like you love yourself
Move like you love yourself
Speak like you love yourself
Act like you love yourself

Impostor

Ever heard of impostor syndrome? Wikipedia describes this as, “a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.'”

Now, first of all, I don’t necessarily consider myself to be “high achieving” – by any means. If anything, I’m on the low end of mild achievement. I have a job that I am pretty good at performing. I tend to be a quick learner. I can house, clothe, and feed myself and my children. Sometimes I drink too often and spend too much money. Mostly I am a responsible adult. I would consider myself a pretty average individual. That being said, I regularly feel like I’m a really irresponsible adult just pretending to be responsible and somehow magically getting away with it.

…I kind of forget where I was going with this.

AH! Yes!

Running.

Those of you who have been following me for a while already know: I occasionally participate in self-indulgence on the Instagrams. I snap a selfie post-workout and share it with the World Wide Web in an effort to feel like I’m entertaining people – but mostly just entertain myself. …and when I snap a selfie and begin adding all my little hashtags (as one does), there is one hashtag that I hesitate on every. single. time.

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#runner

I’ve been running since 2012. And by running I mean: jogging while stopping to walk every 1-5 minutes depending on how often I recently have been “running” and my current weight and/or fitness level.

Every time I type in #runner, I feel like a total impostor.

Who do I think I am?! I’ve never run more than 5 miles at a time! I’ve never finished a 5k in less than 40 minutes! I can count on one hand how many times I’ve slogged jogged a full mile without stopping!

Runner. PAH! Right. Sure.

…but then, I realize, this whole run/walk thing? This is a legit training method lots and lots and lots of, not just people, but professional athletes use. People who, like, get paid to run. …are they not runners?

I guess it depends on your school of thought.

But today I vow to stop hesitating before writing #runner on those self-indulgent photos I share with the world. The fact of the matter is: I run. Sometimes I run a lot. Sometimes I run a little. Most of the time it is slow and some of the time it is slower. This Sunday I will run in a 5k “race” and I will come in close-to-last because I’ll likely have to stop to walk a lot and will probably end up walking a large majority of the last mile. Does it make the event (one I’ve participated in for four years now) any less fun and the route any less enjoyable? Of course not!

If you run, you are a #runner, dammit! Even if you run in short bursts at slow speeds! That’s my opinion, anyway.

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She lives!

Hello, Friends. It’s been a while. I’ve been thinking about making my triumphant return to blogging for months now.. I even drafted a post back in January that never got finished. The last few days, though, I’ve been especially itching to write.

It’s been a rough year, folks. The things most important to me that I’ve been working hard for over the last several months (and some things for years) have begun blowing up in my face one by one, week after week. Exercise has been a true solace, but some even bigger explosions this past week threw me off my routine and schedule and as life becomes more stressful I find myself bringing focus in on my body. This is certainly a pattern; things get stressful and my body image tanks. Is this because I think if I can’t control the outside world I can at least control my body? I’m sure that’s part of it. This manifests in what I do to my hair, the type of clothes I wear, and how I do my makeup; in 3 months I’ve gone from long blonde hair to a brunette pixie cut and while I’m not unhappy with my haircut or color choice, I am already bored with it and ready for my hair to be long again and the darker color to fade out a bit.

It’s a constant battle between controlling the change in my life and needing familiarity.

And as I hunt for familiarity, I find myself leaning back towards the all-too-familiar landscape of dieting and searching out exercise plans in order to shrink my body. It is a familiar punishment. A way to control my world by “controlling” my body.

I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to recenter, paying more attention to the body positivity advocates I follow, reading back through stories and articles that spoke to me in the past, trying to focus more on how food choices and regular exercise affect my mental health rather than how they change my body aesthetic. But mostly, I’m trying so hard to be patient both with myself and for the dust to settle from all these life explosions happening day after day. And it’s really tough. I am terribly impatient even in the best of times – but during times of turmoil? Oh, boy… any inkling of patience just flies out the window.

Basically this all boils down to: I’m struggling. I’m highly anxious, I’m sinking deep into a depressive period, and there is very little light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe by starting to write again, I can keep my head above water long enough until a piece of driftwood floats by.

Shrug

 

 

Well F*ck

So, I know you guys probably didn’t realize this, but it’s December. Actually, it’s late enough in December that you could basically just say it’s almost January.

Here in Virginia we’ve had a very mild winter …until the last couple weeks. As those of you who are semi-regular followers know, my main mode of exercise has been walking and hiking with the occasional short run here and there. Well, there’s not been much walking happening for about two weeks now. I’m lucky if I can hit 10,000 steps each day and, boy, do I feel the affect it’s having on my mood and generally well-being.

Yes, there are other options. Let’s talk a little bit about some of those other options for a moment… I’ve been writing “start strength training” as one of my goals on my little weekly planner calendar thingie every. single. week. for about 3 months now. I haven’t done any strength training other than a squat occasionally (usually to pick something up off the floor.) Maybe some ab thingies. Maybe a yoga here and there. I’m not into it right now even though in the back of my head I’m super into the awesome things it does to and for my body – and because of that I keep flirting with beating myself up until I force myself to start lifting heavy things again. This is problematic for several reasons, but mainly: by doing this I’m definitely not honoring my promise to myself last month to be okay with feeling kind of “blah” during the deep winter we’re coming into and practicing self-care surrounding that.

On top of the general blahs, I’ve been insanely busy with my day job on top of the usual craziness going on during the holidays. This has lead to some pretty intense mental and emotional burnout. There have been several days that I’m going 100mph all day long and then get ready for bed and, in that moment of quiet, realize I’m completely overwhelmed and am not taking care of myself emotionally which then leads to anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours of everything from silent weeping to full-on hysterical bawling. That’s certainly not a great mental state to be in.

Thankfully, I know that this pace at work will start to slow as we start January and I’ll have a little more time to breathe. Until then I just have to do the best I can with what I have – and for a few more weeks, that’s going to be very little. So, even though exercise is definitely great for managing stress and boosting all those happy chemicals in your brain, getting all stressed trying to squeeze it in when I’m already mentally overloaded is not going to be beneficial. And, I’m sorry, but there’s just not going to be any 3-5 miles of walking happening when the high temps are only hitting the mid-20s. That’s just miserable. Maybe the weather will warm back up to the 40s and  50s, though, and I can get some fresh and air and sunshine now and again. Once I’m through my busy season at work and through the Christmas holiday, I’ll think about investing some time into my mother-in-law’s treadmill and take advantage of some of the awesome YouTube channels out there like Yoga With Adriene and FitnessBlender.

Meanwhile, my #1 priority is to renew that promise to myself and focus on self-care. Winter solstice is nearly upon us, and that means the daylight hours will start stretching longer. I know by the end of February I’ll begin to feel much more myself. Until then, I just have to be kind and gentle to myself; no more flirting with self-hate or shame to motivate physical activities I’m just not interested in doing right now.

GAh!

Gosh, you guys. I am infinitely sorry for being so very inconsistent in my blogging. …I’ve been pretty consistent in my healthy habits, though, so that excuses it, right? I thought so, too!

Last post I lamented about my shin splints – well, three weeks later, I’m happy to say I’m all healed up! I ran a couple days last week and felt good. I’ve kept up with my walks and some occasional calisthenics. …but now it is cold, friends. And dark. And this past weekend, for the first time in a couple months, I did not hit my 10,000 step goal due to Hibernation Mode. It’s okay, though. One of my most favorite Body Image Badasses in the whole-wide-world, Sarah Vance, made a little most about this on her Facebook page yesterday:

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“75% not into it” is a perfect description of how I feel about basically everything lately. But, as Sarah says about herself, I know if I don’t continue to go out and do things, I won’t feel like me. I’ll sink into a pretty nasty depression funk and will have a hard time crawling out of it until spring is well underway.

So, how am I honoring my hibernation needs while not completely giving myself over to the depression they tend to cause? I make out-of-the-house socialization a priority at least one day each week. This usually comes in the form of going and playing trivia at a local brewery with a couple friends. Despite the cold, I’m still trying to walk 3-5 miles every day, and I’m making my sleep-schedule a top priority. Sunday afternoons have become dedicated to sweatpants and curling up wherever with a good book or magazine. Upping my vitamin D supplement has been a huge help so far this autumn, too.

The fact is, I’m just not going to be feeling up to much until there are more daylight hours and warmer temperatures. And that’s a-okay. I’m looking forward to the holidays and spending some extra time with my family.