counting my blessings (#111-130)

picture found here.

111. Nightly devotionals with my husband.
112. Finding comfort in watching television together.
113. Large glasses of wine.
114. Sleeping in instead of working out.
115. Aching muscles.
116. Making time to cook healthy meals.
117. Not giving up.
118. Slipping into a skirt that has been too small for too long.
119. Dreaming of a new wardrobe.
120. The voice of reason reminding me that this too shall pass.
121. "You are almost there."
123. Cleaning out the closet.
124. Sweeping and vaccuming under the bed.
125. A husband who prays for me and over me.
126. Seeing a movie with just the girls.
127. Going to a restaurant and reading a book over lunch.
128. Removing bad carbohydrates and sugars from my life (no matter how hard it is).
129. Bright yellow sunglasses.
130. The end of summer and 100 degree days.


i'm gonna stay strong

Last week, between preparing for her departure back to China and meeting with other friends and seeing family, I sat down to have lunch with a close friend. We met in China. It was a quick initial meeting as we were on two separate teams, but with the help of knowing the same people, her going to the same college, and then her joining my sorority for a semester, we became close. So close that I honestly don't think I would have survived my senior year of college without her.

She was there when I started dating all the wrong boys. She was there when I struggled with knowing who I was now that I was home from a life-changing trip. She was there during a time when I wasn't really there for anyone else. She prayed with me and held my hand when I needed it most. She also hugged me and let me cry when certain things became too much.

And she made me laugh. She also bought me meals at the university cafeteria. She was also there the night I hit a deer with my car.

And then she was there when I got married. She ate lunch with me at the Cheesecake Factory and stayed through the entire ceremony and reception.

We kept in touch after my wedding, but life after college changes everything. So while I navigated the life of working full-time, being married, and eventually buying a house, she continued with her senior year of college and learning where God was placing her.

He placed her back in China. And while it is hard to have her gone, even though we hardly see each other because of life (but at least she was always in the state!), I know she is exactly where she needs to be. Also, she thankfully is able to visit Oklahoma during the summer and catch up with friends and family.

We met at Cheddar's. I ordered a top sirloin and two sides of broccoli. She ordered a salad (that I couldn't eat due to it having fruit). And we settled into easy conversation - catching up on the last several months of our lives but more importantly focusing on the current times.

I started to write about our lunch that day. I formed sentences about how God places people into our lives. I tied it into finishing Working It Out by Abby Rike. But the words never seemed quite right, and I can't publish anything that seems forced. So I gave it time and dappled it in some but never got the words just right.

During lunch, we talked about my blog. I never know how to react when my blog and writing are brought up. It's hard to know if I should be self-depricating (which is what I usually do) or simply smile and say "thank you." She told me how she appreciated my honesty. I talked about how honesty is hard. I said sometimes I don't want to be so honest because I'm afraid people don't want to read honest words but would rather focus on happy words and funny stories.

I'm not the best at being funny. I try to tell jokes, and I say the punch line before I finish the joke. I don't always get jokes that others tell. And not being serious in my writing is something I can't seem to do well for the life of me.

So I turn to honesty. And honesty so often takes a toll on me. It leaves my heart open for the world. And it also results in a lot of back and forth - days of being positive and then days of being negative. Just thinking about honesty exhausts me.

But this honesty is who I am. Whether it is pretty or ugly. Whether anyone wants to read it or not. No matter how much of a contradiction I might be from one day to the next it is who I am as a writer and as a person.

I needed to hear that the honesty was appreciated on that day. I needed to remember that it doesn't matter what others think or like. I needed to sit across the table from a friend who gets it and feel accepted.

My honesty for today is simple. I am struggling. I shouldn't be. But I am.

It's a culmination of boredom with food choices (phase 1 of the South Beach Diet is restrictive and so is my budget and cooking repetoire) and a few other things. And this culmination resulted in me having a hamburger and tater tots from Sonic on Wednesday night. It also resulted in eating Jimmy John's on Thursday for lunch and having nothing but string cheese for dinner that night. And then I went to bed before 9pm on Thursday night because all I wanted to do was eat ice cream, shells and cheese, and anything that came from almost any fast food restaurant. So I fell asleep instead.

I've lost a total of 25 pounds now. I started South Beach Diet and lost 4 pounds in one week. This came after having gained back about three pounds due to poor choices. And then this week, even with not holding true to phase 1, I lost 1.4 pounds. I should be ecstatic and proud - only ecstatic and proud.

But I'm not just ecstatic and proud. I'm exhausted and tired and sick of healthy foods (especially eggs and broccoli). I'm questioning myself and if I can really do this. I'm finding it harder to be positive about my own journey and others journey. I'm hitting another wall.

Still, I refuse to give up. I might gain a pound or two back. I might give up on the exact phase of a diet. I might take more than just one day off from exercising. But I will not give up. And I will repeat that to myself as much as I have to (just as I count the minutes down on the elliptical when it seems impssible to finish even just 20 minutes of cardio).

At lunch last week, I was told I have a lot of determination. I felt strong after that comment. And then I finished reading Working It Out and felt even stronger. I felt like God was putting all these pieces together just for me. Had all those pieces not been put together I think my week would have consisted on more than just hamburgers and sandwiches.
Each and every person reading these pages is doing so because you are supposed to be reading these pages at this exact moment in your life. You need to know you are empowered by your ability to choose. You are not defined by past mistakes. Waste not another moment beating yourself up about the past. Feeling guilty serves no purpose. Today is a new day. --Abby Rike, Working It Out
I will not define myself by past mistakes. I will also not define myself by future mistakes. Because although I have had weak moments, I have also had moments of strengths. I have seen my hard work pay off. I have been reminded that it is all worth it.

I finished the book on Saturday sitting on the stationary bicycle and peddling my legs quickly. I finished the book after spending several hours at home and convincing myself that I needed to go to the gym. And I finished the book because I needed to read her words and apply them to my own life.

It's been a week of realizations. Knowledge that this time is the time because God decided it was time and has put everything into place so that I can do nothing on my own to mess it up. He has given me the resources I need. He is providing the inspiration I need. He is giving me strength when I feel weak. He is giving me determination when I am lacking.

And right now I am lacking. I am not lacking as much as I was last night, but still, I am lacking. And He is providing through Bible verses and quotes. He is reminding me of lunches with friends that fill me up. He is showingme that He is present even though I feel alone and want to give up. He is telling me that He won't let me give up.

(title from "the living proof" by mary j. blige)


when i said two sugars actually i meant three

I started the South Beach Diet on Monday August 15, 2011. I skimmed websites and gained a strong understanding of what foods were good to eat and what foods were bad to eat based on the guidelines set forth.

There are some guidelines I have struggled to follow, but for the most part, I've stuck with the diet and maintained a diet of no real sugars or carbohydrates. It hasn't been easy, but it also hasn't been quite as difficult (or depressing!) as I feared it might be.

I have another seven days to go on this part of the diet. I'm sure I will have more thoughts on the South Beach Diet next week (and hopefully better recipes). But for now, here is a glimpse into the thoughts bouncing around in my carbohydrate and sugar free mind.
1. I am still on Phase 1. I have not given up or thrown in the towel.
2. My cravings were relatively non-existant all week. And then I came home Friday night, and they hit full force. The weekend was so, so hard. All I wanted was macaroni and cheese or pizza or anything fried.
3. Restaurants do not offer a large selection of healthy vegetables (AKA vegetables allowed on South Beach Diet Phase 1).
4. I am sick of broccoli. I ate it two or three times every day last week.
5. Broccoli tastes much better dipped in hummus then eaten by itself. I ate it only with hummus (or cooked) the first week but am trying to cut back on the hummus for week two.
6. I ate a lot of steak over the weekend. Meaning I had steak three times over the weekend. I couldn't get myself to order chicken or fish at a restaurant when I know that's what I will live on during the week. (I think this is one of the main reasons I made it all week on the diet. Huge thank you to my in-laws for feeding me steak on Saturday and Sunday!)
7. You can overseason catfish. And it doesn't taste good when overseasoned (especially when overseasoned with lemon pepper - tastes too much like lemon).
8. You can also overseason aspragus (again with the lemon pepper plus some minced garlic).
9. Frozen aspragus does not taste as good as fresh aparagus. But it is cheaper and tastes better than canned aspragus.
10. I miss ice cream.
11. I feel stronger. And I have more energy.
12. I am sick of egg scrambles. I've made several varieties of this. Some include: mushroom, spinach and cheese; broccoli, mushroom and cheese; broccoli, canadian bacon, and cheese. Some days I have made scrambles with three whole eggs. Other days with one egg and two egg whites.
13. Egg scrambles keep me full for longer periods of time in the day. Especially the more yolk I eat.
14. I can only make egg scrambles. I tried fried eggs and an omelette. They both needed up messy and turned into egg scrambles even though I didn't mean for them too.
15. You don't have to count calories on this diet (but I have been).
16. I am eating less than I was before, and it is easier for me to stay between 1500 and 1600 calories consumed on this diet.
17. I don't miss egg noodles. But I do miss alfredo sauce. And macaroni and cheese.
18. I also miss sushi and baked potatoes. And pita bread to go along with my hummus.
19. I have more of an appreciation for real food. I depended on frozen food for the first few months starting this new lifestyle. I know that sometime I will need a frozen dinner for lunch or.. dinner, but I much prefer making a homemade taco salad (without the taco shell) or chicken with spinach and goat cheese.
20. I have more self-control than I thought I did. I had ample opportunity to "cheat" and eat bread or potatoes this weekend. Or dessert. And I didn't. I made the diet work and wasn't afraid to tell a restaurant to hold certain things (like carrots) or pile my husband's plate with the onion strings Saltgrass Steakhouse gave me along with my top sirloin.
21. My work-outs have been more intense. The picture was taken Sunday following 25 minutes on the elliptical, 15 minutes on the bike, and 25 minutes of weight lifting. On Saturday, I rode the bike for 15 minutes and then did circuit training for 30 minutes. I thought I was going to pass out after the circuit training. It made me proud of myself for pushing myself so far. I also didn't look pretty, so I must have done it right.

I realize that South Beach Diet is not for everyone. So please don't take this an "endorsement" as the South Beach Diet or use it as a reason to do the South Beach Diet. Find what works for you.
I'm not sure if South Beach Diet will be my lifestyle of choice for the rest of my life. But I do know that for right now, this is the best choice for me. And getting healthy is all about making the choices that are right for you - not necessarily making the choices that are right for someone else.
The way I chose South Beach Diet was through a friend. I started not knowing if I could actually stick to a diet that restricted carbohydrates and fruit and sugar.. all of the things I love. All of the things I eat too much of.
By participating in Phase 1, I have shown myself that I can make healthy choices. I have also shown myself that I can survive (and thrive!) on protein and vegetables. I've started to rethink the way I eat, and I am excited but nervouse for leaving the restrictiveness of Phase 1. But I know the tools I am gaining from these two weeks will guide me well in the weeks that follow - whether I adhere strictly to the South Beach Diet or not.
And the best thing about this week so far? The scale is moving, and it is moving in the right direction. For about two weeks, I plateaued on my weight. No matter what I did, I couldn't seem to lose, and I started to lose steam and eat more of the things I shouldn't eat (like ice cream and pizza). It could be that just cutting those items out of my diet is what is causing the loss, but I choose to believe it's that I am feeding my body with better items and relying less on processed foods.
What diet/eating plan/nutrition works for you? Why do you think it works so well?

(title from "nicest thing" by kate nash)


run toward the fire

Last week, I met with a trainer. I was finally over my wall (or through it - whichever you prefer), but my weight plateaued. The scale stopped moving for the most part though it did show the occasional gain. Friends continues to mention I looked slimmer, so I chose to blame the muscle I was gaining as the culprit for the stalled scale.

And it is possible the muscle was to blame. But it was also possible that my habits - both with exercise and with eating - were to blame. So I made the choice to try something different.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this meeting. In high school, I worked out with a trainer for some time, but that was years ago and I barely remember what it entailed. I had my hopes of a full work out, of him pushing me and showing me that I was capable of more.

Meetings with personal trainer, much like the rest of life, do not mirror shows like "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition" or "The Biggest Loser." Rather than run on the treadmill until I thought I would pass out or feel like I was going to die from lifting too much weight, we sat down at a small table and discussed what I am currently doing. Then, before he had a chance to see how much I could lift, he wrote down a plan and included the amount he thought I should be lifting.

I left the session frustrated. And feeling as though nothing was going to change.

To be honest, I went into the session hoping someone would push me out of my comfort zone and into a zone where I tried harder than I ever had before. And while I didn't get a person to push me out of my comfort zone, I gained some knowledge of how to push myself out of my comfort zone.

It didn't happen on Thursday or on Friday. But on Saturday, I forced myself to go to the gym. I then also forced myself to try something new - something that would inevitably leave me sore and barely able to move.

The trainer mentioned spending at least one day completing a 30-minute circuit. The thought of spending a minute doing cardio and then a minute of weight lifting was daunting to say the least. But instead of shying away from the task at hand, I turned the music from my iPod up, gritted my teeth, and determined that I would finish the 30-minute circuit.

And I did finish. Barely. But I finished. I spent the rest of the day in pain and all of Sunday barely able to move. But I finished.

Trying something new while at the gym has turned into trying something new while at home as well.

When I started my journey to lose 100 pounds in April 2011, I decided not to diet. I wanted to make a lifelong change; I didn't want to make a short term change and then find that I would be unable to maintain the weight loss. I made changes to what I ate and how I ate. I did my best to count every calorie.

It worked. But eventually I plateaued. And I found myself bored with frozen dinners and wanting to eat ice cream and egg noodles with alfredo sauce when I got home.

A friend from work mentioned the South Beach Diet. I heard the word "diet" and immediately said no. I reminded her of my wanting to not diet but wanting to change my lifestyle. And then I went on with the rest of my day.

I continued to go back to the thought of the South Beach Diet, and I eventually entered the search term "south beach diet phase 1" into Google. After researching both the diet itself and recipes I could make at home, I said I was in, and I started this new lifestyle on Monday morning.

It would be easy enough to call it a diet. To say that for the next several months I will watch how much and what kind of carbohydrates I eat. To explain that I am going to limit the amount of sugar I eat for the next several months. To think that when all is said and done I can go back to eating whatever I want and whenever I want in moderation and as long as I remain active.

But I won't be able to go back to eating whatever I want. And I shouldn't go back to eating whenever I want. I should commit to whatever changes I make, and I should recognize the foods that have led me astray in the past and do whatever I can to not allow them to lead me astray again.

I started this new lifestyle days ago. In the past, had I started a new lifestyle days ago, I would have also ended the new lifestyle days ago. It wouldn't have been because of a lack of desire but because of a lack of discipline - a lack of drive.

Exercising almost every day has provided me with more discipline than I thought I had. It has also shown me that I can do more than I thought I could. It has reminded me that I can push myself - that I don't have to fear pushing myself too far. And so I have taken this discipline and applied it to eating.

As hard as it is to not eat carbohydrates like baked potatoes and pasta, I've shown myself that I can do it. Just like I showed myself that I can push myself and complete a 30-minute circuit work out.

And I did it almost all on my own. No reality television show or personal trainer needed.

(title from "satisfied" by jewel)

everything and no less

Several months ago, my mother-in-law handed me the book So Long Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend To Us by Beth Moore. She said the book struck her and that many of the words impacted her. Having been a reader of Beth Moore's for years, I was excited to get my hands on the book and dive into the words.

At first, I read quickly. Nodding my head when appropriate and marking pages. But then life got busy, and I stepped back from the book. (I say it was because life got busy but really I think it's because the book dealt with many of my own "heart issues" and I needed a break from it.)

I recently picked the book back up and started reading right where I left off. I haven't finished it yet, but I am getting there.

I'm soaking in the words. I'm allowing them to speak truth to me. I'm healing from the pain my own insecurities have caused me. I'm reminding myself that I have no reason to be insecure.

My mother-in-law was also the one to introduce me to Working It Out by Abby Rike. I think my mother-in-law has intuition when it comes to knowing what I need to read and when. I also think know that it is no coincidence that I'm reading both of these books at the same time.

Even though Working It Out is meant to be inspiring, I also find it daunting. In so many ways, it makes me feel insecure about my own life and my own journey. Because if Abby Rike can lose the weight and move (somewhat) forward with her life after losing her husband and two children all at once, why am I struggling? It's the same thing with shows about weight loss and renovations to homes for deserving families. The story also revolves around people who are doing amazing things despite the odds stacked against them.

I am always inspired by these stories. But I am also always left feeling like I am lacking in so many ways. Like my life doesn't come anywhere close to measuring up. Like I have no reason to be frustrated or upset or tired. Like I need to get over all these small struggles because so many people are facing so much more.

And while it's good for me to recognize that I can do more with my life, it's not good for that recognition to turn into comparisons that lead to feeling insecure.

In So Long Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us, Beth Moore shares a story about a girl who initially lied about her testimony because she felt like her real testimony was lacking in some way. Comparing herself to others, she decided that as her life had had no "real" adversity that she needed to create "adversity." So she created a story about how she lives the life of a stripper (I believe) before being saved and changing everything about herself. Eventually, she told the truth. But before she told the truth, she made that decision to lie. All because she felt like she was lacking.

It's something I so sensitive to right now. It's a struggle I have. I can compare myself to everyone around me, but at the end of the day, comparisons mean nothing at all because my life is completely different - and for a reason - from someone else's life.

I try to be careful about what I share here. I limit talk of dieting and even on the exact exercises I complete. Because I'm afraid I might be judged for doing too little. Or of not trying hard enough. But also because I am afraid someone else might judge themselves in comparison to me. And that is the very last thing I want for anyone.

Being alive is hard enough. And I think, in many ways, being female makes it even more difficult (though I realize men have their own struggles to contend with). But to add into that moving from one phase of your life and into a newer and healthier phase? It's almost impossible.

But it isn't fully impossible. If you do the work. If you continue to move forward. If you never give up. Then it can happen.

But for all of that to happen, there needs to be no more comparison. This is where I am today. I'm listening to other's stories. I'm finding pieces of myself in their story. I'm seeing that if they can do it then so can I. And that is as far as I am letting it go. I stop myself before I have a chance to think about how they are so much better (smarter/thinner/healthier/more committed/etc.) than I am. I stop myself before I think about how I have nothing further to bring that someone else hasn't already brought. I do not allow myself to think that it's not worth sharing my story because it is nowhere near as inspiration as someone else's.

What would have happened if someone else had thought? What if people had allowed the comparisons to stop them from every moving forward? I can't say for sure, but I think the world would be a much dimmer place.

I know it's easier to compare yourself to others. I can so easily point out the positives in someone else, but turning around and looking at myself makes me feel like such a phony - like all I am doing is trying to make myself feel better. And while I think there are some people who make too much of themselves, I know that's not what I am doing in the situation. What I am doing is convincing myself that I too can be healthy, that I too can run on the treadmill with an incline, that I too can continuously increase the amount of weight I lift.

My story might not be as inspiring as someone else's. I might not be rising from the same amount of ashes as someone else. I might not have as many obstacles to overcome. But my story is just that - my story. Just like your story is your story.

And every story deserves to be told without comparison.

(title from "take it all" by adele)


i am never broken

9:00pm comes, and for the first time all day, I am ready to write. I've rested on the couch and had dinner. We have laughed over a sitcom streaming on Netflix and also watched an episode of Design Star. The house is cooling down, after my leaving the broiler on for too long. The glass from the broken wine glass is picked up.

Instead of opening my MacBook and typing, I force myself off the couch and then climb into bed with my husband and two dogs. It is a night of almost seven hours of sleep. In the past, seven hours of sleep would be nowhere near enough, but now, with leaving for the gym at 5am most work days, I cherish any sleep over six hours.

So often, in the midst of a busy day at work or while navigating my car through traffic, ideas come to me. Realizations. Questions. Thoughts on life, on love, on faith, on journeying through all the ups and downs that accompany any and every little thing.

And then, when there is time to write, the ideas dissipate. Or the need and desire for sleep wins out.

This time of my life, this journey, is about so much. One of those things is deciding what matters in my life. It's about putting certain things and people first. It's about disentangling myself from the things that hold me back. It's about forgiving myself and others for past mistakes so that I can move on - never again to be captured by those emotions of anger, anxiety, and uncertainty.

And the things that matter include exercise, cooking, laundry, writing, reading. And the people that matter include my husband, our families, our friends, and our two dogs (because they are more people than pets).

Deciding what matters in my life is just one piece of this neverending puzzle. The other piece that I am struggling with currently is finding and making and keeping time for all the important things and people.

It's so easy for me to put myself last. To make everything into an excuse for why I can't do something like eat better or spend at least two hours at the gym every day. For so long, I did everything I could to stay where I was. To continue to hide in whatever fashion I could. To put everything else first and remind myself that eventually there would be time.

But there is never enough time unless you make the time. Life is so full with jobs, marriages, friends, and all that goes into living the life of a 26-year-old professional. It's all to easy to stay in a coccoon of life. To never move past this stage and into the next. To never become that butterfly.
I had to come to grips with the fact that my cocoon was not the safe place. The cocoon was the suffocating place, the place where my vicious cycle continued and I asked, Why is there no light? Why am I stuck here? without actually finding an answer. The cocoon was tight and uncomfortable, not safe and inviting--a trap, not a haven. And the more I wrapped myself in layersand layers of protective coating, the harder it was to emerge from that false sense of security. It was not until later that I realized a cocoon is not a sweet escape from life. It is the absence of life. --Abby Rike, Working It Out
I haven't spent my entire life in a cocoon. There have been moments of beauty and brilliance. Moments when I was so close to understanding who I was. Moments when I felt like I officially beat every demon and had cleaned out every skeleton in my closet.

And then something would happen. I would retreat back into the cocoon. I would pull myself in and wrap myself in something - anything - to hide. Sometimes it was extra weight. Other times an unnatural looking tan. Sometimes losing too much weight.

I had my mother send me pictures from these moments. And I have every intention of going through them all and understanding who I was in that moment and why I was that way. I have every hope of sharing those understandings here and moving on. Because it is time to leave the cocoon permanently. There will be no going back this time.

9:00pm comes, and for the first time all day, I am ready to write. I've rested on the couch and had dinner. We have laughed over a sitcom streaming on Netflix and also watched an episode of Design Star. The house is cooling down, after my leaving the broiler on for too long. The glass from the broken wine glass is picked up.
Exercising is part of leaving the cocoon. Eating healthy is as well. Opening myself up is another part. And I am doing all three of these things all at once. Even on the days when I feel like doing nothing of the sort. Also on days when I feel like I have already blown it and wonder why I should even keep trying.

But that's the thing. Those days will happen. Always. It's my choice to make on how they impact me. And this time, for the first time, I choose to not allow those days to keep me from moving forward. I refuse to let anything stop me.

(title from "hands" by jewel)


i will not break

On Sunday, after church and before lunch with my in-laws, we sat down and started a discussion. We talked about my writing and my weight loss and all of the other changes currently happening in our lives.

My husband has always been supportive of my writing. He wants the best for me. He wants to see my succeed as a writer. And he wants to see me view myself as a writer instead of just talking about how I want to be a writer.

I'm not sure how the conversation started. But, like many things, it doesn't necessarily matter how it started. What really matters is how it ended. And it ended with the unending and unwavering support he has always provided me - even during those moments when I made it almost impossible to be supportive.

The life of a writer is a lonely one. So is the life of an individual trying to lose 100 pounds (80 pounds now). But the life of the significant other of a writer and of an individual trying lose such a large amount of weight? That is a lonely one also.

It's lonely because dedication has to be given to writing and to losing weight. There are nights when I need to choose the gym over sitting on the couch and catching up. Nights when I am too tired from my one or two work-outs a day to do much of anything. Nights when I crawl into bed before he does - which is saying something given he has to be at work by 5am and works at least nine hours a day.

And it's lonely because all of this - the writing and the weight loss - is mine to do. He can be supportive. He can lift me up. But he can't do the work for me.

On Sunday, I asked him if he was worried about all of these changes. I wondered if, somewhere inside of him, he thought I might change from the person I was when we met to someone he didn't know any longer. We've been through so many changes in our almost three years of marriage and almost four years of knowing each other. And the thought of adding more change is daunting.

But with love and grace, he told me the same thing he has always said. That all he really wants is for me to be okay. That he would much rather lose everything in the world as long as I was not anxious and as long as I felt safe.

Then he told me he was excited. Excited for me to become the first I am supposed to be. Excited for me to feel comfortable in my own skin. Excited to stand beside me as I see all of the potential I have and then claim it as my own. The sky is the limit, he told me.

I've heard it before. I've repeated those words to others before - to my own husband even. Telling him about his potential and how he never gives himself credit, and then turning around and telling myself I just couldn't do it.

I would look for the tricks. What can I do that is easy that will get me from point a (needing to lose weight; talking about writing) to point b (healthy and fit; finished manuscript and cover letter)? And the answer was always nothing.

I took it as not being my time. But in truth, it was always my time. I had just never decided to do the hard work.

And there are times when I still don't want to do the hard work. When I am too tired and devoid of inspiration to sit on the couch and hammer out a blog post. Moments when my bed is too comfortable and I can't fathom rolling out of it and driving to the gym.

But it's not really about wanting to do the hard work. It's about just doing it.

And so, after our conversation on Sunday, I started to do the hard work. Thinking about blog posts. Considered the manuscript I finished three years ago and then restarted eighteen months ago. Remembered how I feel after each and every work out.

And I recommitted to myself. To my husband. To God. That this time is the time.

I started yesterday. One workout at lunch. And a second workout after an eight hour day of work. I continued today - leaving for the gym at 5am, working out for over an hour, and then completing a second workout at lunch. I filled my plate with salad at dinner and only a small amount of spaghetti. I didn't go back for more ice cream even though I had leftover calories to "spend."

Friends can mention the choices I make with what I eat. My husband can raise his eyebrows when I go back for a second (sometimes third) Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich. And it might affect me. I might have a twinge of guilt and wonder if maybe they are right. But I still make the decision I want to make.

It's the same with writing. At the end of the day, it is my decision to sit down and write a blog post sharing my journey. It is also my decision to ignore my hope to write a novel - to just talk about writing a novel instead of actually finishing it.

Are these the same thoughts I've struggled with recently? They're the same thoughts I've struggled with for years, really. It is a constant battle between what I know I should do, what I want to do, and then what I actually do.

I am okay with fighting the same battles because I know that eventually I will win.

And I have won this week. Both through my work outs already completed and through my decision to sit down and write. And through my making better choices at dinner. And I will continue to win by finishing scheduled work outs and not giving up.

The life of a writer and of a woman trying to lose weight is a lonely one. It's a solo journey. Every choice is left up to me. I accept that.

But the cheerleaders I have in my life? My husband. My friends. My family. Those people I live in community with. My roommate and workout partner. The ladies I see every day at water aerobics. They all remind me that I am not alone. And when I want to give up, when I feel like nothing is enough, they remind me that success is always, and will always, be an option. (And saving motivating pictures and quotes on pinterest helps too.)

(title from "bend and not break" by dashboard confessional)


working the rest out

After months of taking Saturday and Sunday off from working out, I joined a second gym. It happened on a Tuesday after work, and I spent the next Wednesday morning on the treadmill and then lifting weights. I repeated the same thing on Thursday and Friday morning. And then again on Saturday. I didn't make it to the gym this morning, but I did make it to the gym before 4:00pm.

My reason for joining a second gym was to make up for the days I didn't want to, or couldn't, drive the 30 minutes from my house to the other gym. And I promised myself, as well as my husband and our bank account, that I would spend every single day at the gym - whether it be the gym near my house or the gym close to work.

Today was more difficult. I forgot to set my alarm when I went to bed last night and did not make it out of bed until almost 8am. So, instead of spending at least one hour exercising before eating any real food, I spent an hour exercising later in the day and after having had both breakfast and lunch.

I waited until later in the day, allowing myself time to rest and my stomach time to digest. In the past, I might have waited with this as the reason and then not worried about actually making it to the gym.

But this time, as I have said before, is different. This time I am not going to allow anything or anyone to stop me - including myself.

Still sore from an upper body workout on Saturday, I decided to concentrate on cardiovascular activity. I needed a break from lifting weights, and I wanted to spend the majority of my time burning as many calories as I could.

Saturday, I climbed on the elliptical machine for the first time in months and pushed myself harder than I had in quite some time. The pushing resulted in completing a mile on the elliptical in under 14 minutes. So when I arrived at the gym this afternoon, I made the decision to climb back on the elliptical machine.

I made the conscious decision to start with 30 minutes on the elliptical. Punching in that large of a number was the easy part. Actually completing the 30 minute work out was a different story.

But I did it.

It was relatively easy until I made it to the 15 minute mark. With sweat pouring down my face, I wanted to stop, climb off the machine, and move onto something else. But I didn't. Instead, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I was halfway there.

It happened again at the 20 minute mark. And then again at the 25 minute mark. Finally, after several Britney Spears songs and "Unpretty" by TLC, I finished.

It's a small accomplishment but an accomplishment none the less.

It would have been easy enough to walk into the locker room, grab my bag, and head to the tanning bed. Instead, I cleaned off the machine and made my way to the row of stationary bicycles. Armed with a new book to read and more songs to listen to, I spent the next 25 minutes biking.

The new book I am reading? It's on my mother-in-law read in two days and then suggested I read. Written by Abby Rike, it is a story from a contestant of The Biggest Loser. Never having watched the show, I wasn't familiar at all with the story, but now that I am thirty-seven pages in, I'm finding myself drawn to the story and also remembering that I too have a story.

It's still early in the book, so I have very few thoughts to share about Abby Rike or the road she has traveled. Though I am sure I will have some the further I get into the story. But the one thing I do know is that if she can face the loss of her husband and two children all at once and lose weight then I can too.

So if I hit a wall while exercising I will continue to move forward. If I am sore, I will still go to the gym. Just because I want to eat a Sonic Blast doesn't mean that I will actually do it. And if I am tired, I will still get up in the morning. And after a long day of work, I will still make it to the gym in the evening.

And when I commit to 30 minutes on the elliptical, I will complete it - no matter how difficult it seem at the time. After all, once one work out is complete, the ones that follow will be just the tad bit easier. At least until I make them harder.

(title from "take a bow" by greg laswell)


something told me to run

picture found here.
I fell asleep before 10pm last night. After the previous night's limited sleep and an early morning work out, I was exhausted and cranky and needed a reprieve from the world. I think the world also needed a reprieve from me.

I woke up, for the first time, around 4:00am. My eyes were blurry, and my feet barely lifted from the floor as I moved from our bedroom and into the kitchen. Somehow I made the coffee and tossed lunch and a snack into a lunch sack for my husband. We shared a quick kiss, and I stumbled back into our bedroom. The moment my head touched the pillow I fell back into a deep sleep. The kind of sleep that swallows you whole and makes you forget there is an outside world.

There was a window of ninety minutes between the time my head touched the pillow and the time my alarm would sound. I hoped it would be enough sleep but thought it wouldn't be.

My alarm went off once, and I immediately hit the snooze button. The second time it sounded I forced myself out of bed. I let the dogs out and moved into the kitchen. Each step helped me wake up a little more. Every blink cleared away the sleep I thought would swallow me whole until it was time to leave for work.

Minutes later, I was out the door with good company by my side and iPod in hand.

After two weeks of not lifting weights, every muscle in my body ached. Rather than pushing myself past my limit, I depended on a heavy dose of cardio with fifty crunches thrown in at the end.
When I first started exercising, I barely sweated. I thought it was my body's composition. Then I started to drink more water, and slowly, but surely, more sweat appeared. Still, though, it didn't seem like much. And what I figured out today was that it wasn't much because I wasn't fully pushing myself enough.

So I pushed myself. I pushed myself with walking on the treadmill with an incline. I pushed myself while on the stationary bicyle by increasing the level and moving my legs no matter how much they hurt. And even though I was tired, I felt even better than I had the day before.

And it hit me. As I sat on the couch waiting for the air conditioner repain man to arrive at my house (and then to finish servicing the unit), I realized that I finally broke through my wall. A week after writing about it, I finally broke through it.

I don't know when the last time was that I broke through a wall. In the past, I would hit a wall and then try for a few more days. Then, I would decide it wasn't worth trying (because it wasn't working anyways) and stop. But this time? This time I didn't stop even though I wanted to.

I felt lighter a few days ago. But today I feel even lighter. And more excited. After weeks of feeling like nothing was happening, and even wondering if it were possible for me to lose 100 pounds, I now know that it is possible.

It's another small moment. A much needed reminder that all of this is worth it - so very worth it.

And these small moments.. Some of them come by chance and by the grace of God. Others come by choice. Choices like snacking on dried cranberries instead of riding the elevator downstairs and then driving in the car to Sonic for a chocolate milkshake. Choices like eating half of a reuben sandwich for dinner instead of gobbling the entire sandwich down.

I miss eating as much as I want to. It's odd to post that here. Almost as if that's one of the things you aren't supposed to say. Why do I miss it? I'm not sure. Maybe it's because it's just what I did for so long. Maybe it's because I'm still adjusting to this new healthier lifestyle.

But what I don't miss is how I would feel after eating as much as I wanted to. Not just how I physically felt (bloated) but how I felt emotionally (dealing with whatever it was that made me want to eat the much to begin with) as well.

It's a balance. A balance of waking up early to go to the gym and sleeping in late to let me body rest and heal. A balance of eating what I want but not overindugling just because I want to. A balance of counting calories but not obsessing over the numbers. A balance of walking on the treadmill and lifting weights.

And that balance? The one that is so hard to obtain. It is the reason I finally broke through the wall.

There will be other walls. I know that. But now that I broke through the first one, I feel ready to face the next one when it comes. I just hope I have a few weeks worth of a break before I have another wall to break through.

(title from "where i stood" by missy higgins)


blaming the machine

I bought a new domain today. My blog is now officially at http://bodywontbreak.com. It should be a joyous occassion, and is in many ways, but I somehow deleted all of the previous comments through IntenseDebate. And while trying to fix it, I somehow deleted my original IntenseDebate account. So the site? It's going through growing pains. I'm going through growing (well, really, shrinking) pains too. If you know more than I do about HTML, I would love your help. I need your help. And if you don't know much about HTML, please be patient. I will do my best to fix the mistakes I've made. And also know I read every single comment ever left (and still have them saved in my email so I might copy and paste them all into their respective posts) and appreciated all the words.

For now, it's time to sleep. And then another early morning work out at the gym. I hope to be back tomorrow with real words to share and lots of thoughts on how I feel at the present moment in this journey. Trust me when I say it is almost 100% good. And trust me when I say I feel like I am unstuck. Though I am hesitant to say of it too loudly for fear I might jinx myself.

(title from "tightrope" by janelle monae)


hold my head up high

picture found here.
Every day, I drive thirty minutes from my house to my office. The gym I typically attend is within walking distance of my office, which is why I am often able to spend my lunch breaks in the pool either swimming laps or participating in aqua zumba or deep water aerobics. It's a great asset to my current position, but on the weekends, it means I can't spend time at the gym because it is not worth the gas (or the time).

I struggle on the weekends. Both with eating and with activity. Especially right now when it is already 100 degrees outside at noon. I knew I needed a solution to the problem, and so, a few weeks ago, I began searching for a cheap (no more than $20 a month) gym membership.

After a lot of searching and a lot of discussion with my husband, I found a local gym that offers memberships for $10 a month. Following an 8-hour day of work, I took myself to the gym and signed the paperwork. Tomorrow will be my first day working at my second gym.

Work is also changing and getting busier. There are more meetings to attend, and for the next few months, several days a week will not allow a lunchtime workout. Add to that the fact that the meetings will occur five minutes from my house and not five minutes from my office, and it only made sense for me to find and agree to a second gym membership.

One of my favorite things about the gym that I signed up at is that it is directed to people just starting the work out routine and to those wanting to stay fit. There is an almost endless row of cardio machines and classes offered throughout the day that teach you how to use machines. I'm often so overwhelmed at the gym near my office as so many of the people are more in shape than I am.

It's silly to be insecure. I've talked to several people who have agreed that I have no reason to be insecure. A friend of mine even told me that seeing people who aren't fully fit at the gym inspires her. Her exact quote (thanks to my text message memory) was: "When I see someone at the gym who is overweight and working hard...I get really happy. It's so inspiring to me to see people going out there regardless of anything and just doing it."

I know she is right. And it makes me happy that I am getting out and exercising no matter what. But I still struggle with feeling comfortable on the machines and especially with free weights in hand. I hope that one day I will feel comfortable. That it won't always be back in the mind that I don't know what I am doing. And that I won't compare myself and my work out to everyone else around me.

But being in the gym this afternoon? I didn't feel like I would need to compare myself to others. There is an opportunity for personal training, and even at 5:45pm, plenty of machines were available for use.

I'm so close. Yes, there are still 79.6 pounds to lose, but I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will make it. There is nothing standing in my way, especially now that I have the opportunity to attend two gyms.

I felt it at work today. Nothing specific occurred, but as I walked up a flight of stairs, I noticed that I wasn't short of breath and that my knees didn't crack or hurt with every step I took. And I felt lighter all day. Both physically and mentally and spiritually.

And I needed this. The weight loss. The lightness. A solution to the problem of not doing something active during the weekends. A second gym membership that will keep me from ever having any excuses to not exercise.

I always think about the big moments of this journey. A new dress bought. Before and after pictures. The possibility of a new wardrobe. But the small moments - like walking up the stairs - mean so much, if not more than, the big moments.

The big moments don't happen so often. But the small moments? Those can happen on a daily basis. And they do happen on a daily basis; I just have to be open and receptive to the small moments.

Starting the day, I should have known that something would happen - that something would click. Because the day started with an email that included a verse. The verse was Jeremiah 33:3 which says "Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come."

And I asked. Quietly. Almost afraid of hearing no response. But I asked. And He responded. With a small moment - a moment that reminded me that even if I don't think it, He is always present and always working.

A moment that reminded me that He will always keep His promises - even when I wonder.

(title from "think good thoughts" by colbie caillat)


the wonders of my world

Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?

That quote came to mind last Saturday, and it has remained at the forefront of my mind since. It's a thought I am wrestling with and wondering about.

I've always wanted to fit in. And sometimes I did. Other times, I didn't. Eventually my desire to fit in turned into not caring. I decided that since I would never fit in, I just didn't care at all. Not about myself or what others thought. It started in junior high and carried through to the remainder of my life.

There were moments of doing everything I could to fit in. I would say that I didn't care, but deep down, I did. I cared too much about what others thought. And it led me on a path that I wish I had never taken - a path of rejection and heartbreak and frustration.

I can point to several different periods of time that took me from being carefree to worrying over what others thought then to not carrying about anything and back to worrying over what others thought. Some of the periods of time I had control over. Others I did not.

I was born with ABS (amniotic band syndrome). It was seen in my hands. My left hand had webbing between the fingers, not fully formed fingers, and a missing nail on my ring finger. On my right hand, my middle finger is missing a nail.

At the age of 26, no one really notices. At the age of 26, I recognize that it doesn't really matter and that others have it worse than me. But when I was going to school on the first day of kindergarten and then first grade and onwards, it mattered more than anything. Because in a world where all you want is to fit in, I stood out without trying.

I was born to stand out. Knitted together in my mother's womb, I was designed to be the way I am - missing fingernails and all.

And I'm accepting that fact. More than that, though, I am learning to love the differences and to appreciate the beauty in them. I am also learning to love who I am and to put my faith and trust on who I was created to be and not what the world created me to be.

It's been a long journey to get to a point where I can even consider the fact that I want to stand out. And I am sure I have farther to go in the journey before I am completely comfortable with standing out.

But I am getting there.

And I think for the first time in a long while I am piecing myself back together. Or rather God is helping me to piece myself back together. I was never good at puzzles without a picture to compare to, and right now, that's what I am. There have been glimpses of myself, yes, but of the whole self... that is something I am currently seeking.

It hit me this weekend that I was on the journey to figuring it out. Not just who I am on the inside but how that will reflect on the outside.

Everything started on Saturday with a trip to the eye doctor and a new prescription for contacts. In recent months, I hid behind glasses, but I decided, finally, that I was ready to stop hiding and got contacts. Then I went to Target in search of sunglasses and purchased a pair of bright yellow aviator sunglasses (if they don't make me stand out, I don't know what would.)

And finally, it ended with a trip to Old Navy.

This is hard to admit, but I promised myself that I would be honest with this journey so I won't hold back. The last time I actually shopped at Old Navy and tried clothes on actually expecting them to fit? I don't remember when it was. And I honestly expected the same to occur during this shopping trip.

I loaded myself with dresses of the XXL size. I picked a few that were XL but not many as I didn't expect there to be a need for any size other than the largest. And much to my surprise (and excitement), the XXL fell off of me. Even some of the XL dresses were a bit too big in places. But I found one. A dress from Old Navy that wasn't the biggest size in the store. So I bought it.
I said the dress was brought to me by 19 pounds lost. And on Saturday, it might have been, but as of 12:00pm today, the dress was brought to me by 20.4 pounds lost. I am officially over one-fifth of the way to my goal of losing 100 pounds.

And I am starting to be okay with standing out. I am starting to be okay with putting together the puzzle that is myself and figure out who the real me is underneath the layers I once hid from.

So why was I trying so hard to fit in when I was born to stand out? I don't know, but I do know that from now on I am okay with standing out.

(title from "hometown glory" by adele)


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