First, let me offer an apology for my extended absence from the writing portion of this blog. I hope everyone has enjoyed the myriad Instagram shares and memes I’ve been pushing through instead! 

This is a post I’ve been working on for a while and I just had a really hard time getting my ADD brain to focus enough in my off-work hours to get it where I wanted it to be.

So here we go!

With my recent blood panel results came the advice from my doctor to increase regular exercise, cut back on red meat/full-fat dairy consumption and fried foods… and to limit carbs. 

I found this advice puzzling since probably 80-90% of my carbohydrate intake comes from fruits, vegetables, and a mix of processed and whole grains (okay, and beer). I average around 225 grams of carbs a day. I generally eat around 2500 calories, making this about 36% of my calorie intake – MUCH lower than the USDA Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range of 45-65%.

(I will note that in 2015 the USDA released the latest American Dietary Guidelines and no longer go specifically by macronutrient percentages, but now provides suggested daily servings for various food groups; for example, the suggested daily serving for grains is 6 ounces, of which half should come from whole grain sources.)

Now, you might say, why would you trust the Federal Government to tell you what to eat? Recent research has shown just how much the Feds have mucked up the American diet beginning with the introduction of various “food guides”, the first of which was released in the 1940s. By the 60s and 70s the USDA and American physicians alike were encouraging the heavy use of vegetable oils (we’re not talking the olive variety, folks) and trans fats such as hydrogenated soybean oil over animal/dairy fats. As we came to the end of the 1980s and entered the ‘90s, fat consumption of all kinds was heavily discouraged, and doctors began pushing Americans to consume more and more carbs in the name of heart health. 

BUT, the science is firm: we need carbohydrates to function properly – especially folks who exercise daily and/or have jobs that have high physical demands (manual labor, etc.) This doesn’t mean end your heavy workout with a Twinkie – but it does mean have the oatmeal for breakfast (maybe along with an egg or two), and go ahead and have that tuna on whole grain bread for lunch, a banana for a snack, perhaps spaghetti and turkey meatballs for dinner, and, yes, even a small serving of ice cream for dessert.

For me, since I track my calories and my macros, I know my biggest problem over the last year has been my saturated fat intake – it’s a bit out of control. (I love the hell out of cheese and beef!) Again, the science is strong – high saturated fat intake increases LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides which can eventually lead to heart disease. My other issue when it comes to controlling my triglycerides (and avoiding heart disease)? Smoking. A habit I should kick for myriad reasons! 

I need to reel it in with the saturated fats, but I don’t plan on touching my carbs. If they get much lower I won’t have the energy (which is already low due to that Vitamin D deficiency!) to fuel my workouts, the chemical magic to keep me satiated between meals, and (another fun fact) get the quality sleep needed to recover properly from stress and exercise.

One of the sites I’ve followed for a long time that is full of science-based information for diet/nutrition is Precision Nutrition. Here’s a neat little article they shared recently talking about low-carb and what that actually means and how it can affect your body in ways you don’t anticipate.


Review of the last couple weeks

It’s has been 11 days since my last update – I haven’t quite gotten back into the swing of blogging. (Not that I was super consistent to begin with!)

Last time I wrote I had practically convinced myself I had hypothyroidism. Well, I had my physical last week and had about 4,000 (read: 8) blood tests run, and wouldn’t you know?! My greatest fears (concerns) were realized…

I do not have hypothyroidism. Or anything really wrong with my thyroid or immune system at all… What I do have? High cholesterol, high triglycerides, borderline glucose levels, and a vitamin D deficiency.

What does that mean?

Well, the first three mean that I need to exercise more and cut out some of the pork, beef, and dessert I love to eat while continuing to consume allllllll the fruits, veggies, and fish. The third offers me a pretty solid explanation for some of my body’s weirdness; the exhaustion/fatigue, the horrific brain fog, some of the joint soreness, my irregular menstrual cycles, constipation (you’re welcome), some of my depression, and (drum roll, please)… some of my recent weight gain.

Who knew vitamin D did so much for you?!

(I did. I knew. I just had no idea I was deficient. This also just fuels my long-standing belief that I should live farther south to I can spend more time outdoors year-round.)

So to rewind a little bit, the high cholesterol and triglycerides – I am supremely unhappy about this and have been pretty depressed about it for the last few days since receiving my test results. It’s also been hard not to fall down that self-hate spiral of running a constant inner-monologue telling myself what a broken, fat, lazy slob I am and now we can just add hypochondriac to the list of crazy/neurosis, etc. etc. But last week I did start back up with daily exercise and this is the healthiest way to deal with both the physical and the emotional.

Some (or all) of you may remember my #100daysofchange and #365daysofchange projects on Instagram. Well, like it or be completely annoyed by it, I’m making daily posts again to track my daily exercise for however long it takes to create the new habit and make it stick – yes, even through a full winter, which is my biggest hurdle every.single.year. Here are some from this first week:

Should ye be interested, thar be a link to said Instagram account right over here –>

This weekend it is my intention to begin sharing tracking/progress posts as I did pretty regularly back in the days of Sweeping Out The Bats/Jess Vs Life.

I’ll also be talking about how I’ve started incorporating a daily planner into my life which has worked wonders with my ADHD and brain fog.

Stay tuned!

“Maybe it’s your thyroid.”

I had a bit of a flip-out a few nights ago Mostly just in my head, but it was bordering on panic.

I realized that I might have some kind of hypothyroidism going on. I randomly stumbled across some reading on the subject earlier and the things I’ve been struggling with for the last almost 18-24 months match up to the list of symptoms almost exactly.

Now, obviously, hypothyroidism is treatable, so it wasn’t fear that got me all flipped out. No, I got all flipped out because I realized, oh my god, maybe I’m not crazy, maybe I’m not broken, maybe there’s actually something for-real going on that makes me feel so off all the time. There might actually be something wrong with me that’s treatable and manageable and it might not all just be in my head.

The only major problem with this whole thing is that I have to advocate for myself… I have to take up fucking space.

It is really hard for me to take up space. I don’t like feeling like a hypochondriac. I don’t like “bothering” people. I feel like my internet research (via reputable sources like Mayo Clinic and PubMed) and the knowledge I have about my own body and my feelings of something is wrong here aren’t “enough”, like I’m somehow not allowed to advocate for myself armed with only those things.

I was on the verge of tears for hours because I thought maybe it’s not that I have to hate myself, that I have to starve myself, that I have to spend the rest of my life burning myself out to see almost no change in my body composition, in my scale weight, in my menstrual cycle, or my metabolism – for all those things to remain just totally fucked and all over the place – maybe it’s that I may have an actual medical condition to explain these things.

Maybe it’s not that I’m a failure.

I haven’t been to my doctor yet. I don’t know that this is what’s going on. It could be that I am just a broken person, that I am a fat, lazy failure and I do have to hate myself and work myself to the point of insanity to accomplish what was always easily maintainable for me up until a few years ago.

I guess we’ll find out next week after my appointment and my labs come back.


“Be gentle with your body.”

This is a mantra I need. These are words for Jess to live by.
It’s a battle I’ve been continually fighting with little respite for going-on 6 years, maybe more; to stop punishing myself. To move in ways that are fun, exciting, functional… and gentle.

Since consistency has never been my strong point, I’m consistently (see what I did there?) restarting. I’m restarting my run routine, my lift routine, my yoga routine, my “healthy eating”, my go-to-bed-at-a-decent-time routine, my clean-the-house-on-a-regular-basis routine…. my blog. Ha. All the things, basically. All the things that consist of properly adulting. But the exercise side of this, the purposeful movement, it needs to be gentler. I’m terrible about giving myself time to work up. I’m often throwing myself into exercise that my body is not prepared for and has a hard time recovering from. This makes consistency difficult. If you’re painfully sore for four or five days after one workout, how can you expect to be able to complete another two or three for that week? The answer is: you can’t. Or you can, but you’ll risk actual injury sidelining exercise for much longer than just a few days.  
This is also an exercise in accepting that over the last 4 months and the last 20 pounds, my body doesn’t function in the same way and has a lot more mass and weight to support through movements… I’ve put myself back in beginner status. That is my reality right now and that is okay. Gentleness and consistency will move me forward. I’ve got to stop the punishment and begin the nourishment through movement. 

A Rough Sunday

I had a meltdown tonight.

In cleaning out my closets earlier today, a single silk dress became a glaring symbol of my epic failure at weight loss and maintaining my physical health. A bridesmaid’s dress that I wore in a friend’s wedding when I was 5 months pregnant with Nolan. Granted, it was a bit tight at the time, as I had ordered it before I even found out I was pregnant and hadn’t anticipated being 5 months along at the time of the wedding. …as I was going through and putting together a donations pile, I pulled this dress from my closet and tried it on. I couldn’t even zip it all the way. It barely fit over my hips.
…then I had to just go take a nap. I couldn’t even think about how much I had failed myself.

I drank a little too much last night and was feeling particularly old and hangovery today and didn’t go run my errands earlier in the day as I normally would have. I headed to the grocery store with Nolan around 5:30pm. We didn’t get home until nearly 7pm. I was already kind of out of it and frustrated with him; he didn’t have a nap and was starting to get pretty fussy and ornery. Then here came Mike to help me with the groceries… except really to question me about our 10-year-old’s Bio Dad buying him a TV for his room. I knew Bio Dad had a bought a TV – but I thought it was for his house, not ours. I had no idea that while I was at the grocery store, Bio Dad had brought this television home along with James and installed it in his room. I went to talk to James about it and he got very dramatic and wouldn’t even look at me and I kind of lost it. I smacked my hand on the table and told him to look at me while I was speaking to him – then Nolan tried to go shooting out the front door, and I grabbed him and he started flipping out, and then Mike is telling me to take a break… I went upstairs and slammed a few doors (because I’m 12) and took some deep breaths.
I’m still angry. I still don’t even really know why I’m angry. Maybe because of the TV miscommunication? Maybe because I’m angry at myself for getting/being so fat?

That’s certainly part of it… I almost skipped dinner because I thought to myself, “A fat fuck like you doesn’t need to eat any dinner anyway.” But I’m not sure if I really believe that – I’m just being dramatic with myself.
I feel so far away from where I was a few years ago with my motivation to be strong and healthy… I don’t even know how to get back there. It all seems too overwhelming. And then I get discouraged, because last year I was so active, but I gained so much weight. And I know a big piece of that was not tracking food… but does that mean I have to track food for the rest of my life? And if not, does it mean that any time I get sad or stressed out I can expect to pack on thirty pounds while I figure it all out? I surely hope not.

This morning I realized I haven’t weighed myself in almost a month… and at first I thought, “Well, because I don’t really care about my weight right now.” But I don’t think that’s actually true at all. I think I don’t want to see that number because it overwhelms me and destroys me and makes me feel like I’ll never “get it together” – whatever the fuck it even means to “get it together.”
All the clothes I had to put in the donation pile today… things I’ve been holding onto for over a year because they’ll fit “in a few months” and the continuing disappointment of continuing to gain pounds and inches… the fact that I’m wearing men’s large shirts and sweaters because women’s clothing doesn’t even fit me right anymore… the fact that some of those men’s shirts are extra-large… I feel completely out of control. I don’t feel good about myself. And maybe I shouldn’t define myself by what I look like or how fat or thin I am – but it bothers me. And maybe that’s a societal thing and I shouldn’t feel pressured to be any certain size or shape, but then I think “fuck that” because I do not feel good right now. And that is real. I feel tired, uncomfortable, and like I’m not physically capable of doing lots of things that I enjoy doing. And those things have nothing to with my weight or my body shape or the size of my pants. I want to enjoy my life and be able to move in the ways that I enjoy without feeling like it’s killing me, and the reality is to do that, I either need to pack on a crap-ton of muscle to haul this over-200-pound body around, or I need to shed some fat. Honestly, I want both. …except when it comes to the actual execution of a plan to get me there.

I’ll work it out. Maybe. Someday.
…boy, we just kind of jumped right back into it all, didn’t we folks? Ha.

Welcome Back

I blogged for a long time. I blogged for five years. Wait, no, longer. But I blogged about “lifestyle” for 5 years. I rebranded my blog two years in. I changed the name from, what I felt, was a “clever” song lyric (“sweeping out the bats”) when I created it to something more substantial – to something that better represented what I was blogging about: Jess vs. Life

I find myself reflecting on this name now. “Jess versus Life” – as if life were something to fight against. And I suppose at the time, and even now in many ways, I felt/feel that it was/is. Except that it shouldn’t be. And I don’t benefit myself by thinking of every day as a struggle over an existence I have little control over.

I don’t want to be working against life anymore. I want to be living my life and present in my everyday; present in my body, in my mind, in my work, and in my play. And I want to blog about it.

And so we evolve yet again and become: Jess Has A Blog.

Because I do. And this is it. Welcome to it. Thanks to all of those who have followed me all the way through until now.

My last check-in back in September talked a lot of self-positivity and mindfulness. I’m still in pursuit of these things. I’m just trying to figure out who I am as an adult person and get used to being that person.

I think this me versus everything-else-but-most-specifically-my-weight-and-body-image mentality is what lead me to abandon this blog back in January of 2015. I wasn’t somehow battling against oppression and winning, I was fighting against myself and it was awful. That’s a lose-lose situation. So leaving the blog behind worked out pretty great… until it didn’t. I no longer had an outlet. And without the blog, no matter how much I told myself I would “journal”, I couldn’t keep it up and couldn’t keep myself accountable to it.

Writing is so good for me. It gives me purpose in my darkest moments when I feel like I have none. And sharing my thoughts and feelings accomplishes the same. The blog, it provided both the purpose and the outlet – and I greatly missed both.

So, I think I’m back. I’d be lying if I said, “I’m no longer blogging about health/fitness/weight loss/body image.” I will still be blogging about those things. Maybe even mostly those things, actually. I’m just going to come at it in a different way, from a better perspective.

I ended with a list of goals in September, they were as follows:
  • reduce stress
  • get back to running for the love of it and to support mental health
  • get back to strength training to support running and avoid injury
  • continue eating intuitively a wide variety of foods

I have a few tweaks, but mostly the same concepts. As we come into February, my goals will be:

  • reduce/manage stress by sleeping enough – regularly
  • begin a 5k training program to ease back into running
  • practice the body-weight strength program I recently began 2-3 times a week
  • continue eating intuitively – not too much, mostly veggies

I’m really excited to get this writing/documenting thing going again and hope you’ll stay tuned.