Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Life is like a song.

Please forgive me blogging friends, for I have sinned.  It has been probably at least three, maybe four weeks since I wrote a blog.  I could give you lots of good reasons, like I was on vacation for a week, have been sluggish to get re-motivated since then, and have been preoccupied with other mushy things (girly squeal!).  But I have been going through some blog-worthy stuff lately, so let me take some time to get it committed to "paper", and not put it off another second.

First things first: my weight still seems to be creeping in the right direction.  Since my vacation started on October 15, I have struggled to get back into the fierce routine I had going on before.  I haven't really done much in the way of working out, and I haven't been logging every bite of food I eat.  However, I have still remained mindful of what I eat and I haven't lost control of myself and pigged out on anything.  I can feel the lifestyle changes really taking hold of me because I no longer feel the desire like I used to to just chow down on anything within a ten foot radius, lol.  I no longer have to put thought into what I cook or order from a restaurant; it just comes naturally to me now to choose healthy options.  I don't feel deprived for choosing mashed cauliflower over macaroni and cheese or grilled zucchini over a baked potato slathered in butter and sour cream.  This is all very good.  And this is probably the reason why when I weighed myself last week, I was actually 4 pounds lower than my weight the week after vacation, much to my surprise.  I thought since I had slacked from strict adherence to my workouts and food logging that I'd stay the same or gain a couple pounds, but the scale gods have smiled on me lately for whatever reason.

So now my total weight lost is at 32.5 pounds.  Enough to feel a pretty damn big difference in how I look and feel.  I can see that my face is much thinner, less bloated looking, same for my arms and hips/stomach area.  I have gone down a size in clothing, and naturally I'm becoming more interested in clothing again.  I've spent a couple hundred dollars lately on new clothes.  It's amazing how much more confident I feel.  I still have a very long way to go: at least another 100 pounds, ideally.  But this 32.5 is enough to help me feel like I'm getting myself back.  I've never been thin, but I was just simply uncomfortable at the weight I'd allowed myself to reach.  I will never go back there again.  And it feels damn good.

I even bought a dress recently!  Linz does not wear dresses.  Well, fuck that.  I'm tired of abiding by the old rules.  If I want to wear a dress, I will rock that dress.  Okay, I might wear some Spanx with it, lol.  but I will rock it.

Something else has happened to me recently.  This is not something I wanted or expected.  It is not something I was looking for or trying to achieve.  As my readers know, I made the decision when I started this blog and this wellness journey to stop dating.  I decided that dating men was distracting me from my personal goals, and it was hurting my self esteem because it was constantly causing me to call into question my attractiveness and value as a woman.  I'm smart enough to know that in order to find the right person for me, someone who I feel I deserve, and who I can share a happy life with, I need to take care of myself first.  I wanted to take the time to polish myself into the kind of person that the person I've been looking for is looking for.  I wanted to be strong enough, resilient enough, happy enough, confident enough to find someone with all of these qualities as well.  In the state I was in a few months ago, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I was in no shape to find a good partner.  So I made the decision to give up on dating and focus on me.

Seems like when you start doing what you should be doing, when you wise up enough to realize the importance of cultivating your own happiness rather than looking for it in the external, the force of the entire Universe will line up behind you.  That is how I feel these days.  Like I'm being carried by a giant cosmic wave.  I'm enjoying the ride, to say the least.

As you may have gathered, I met someone.  I want to be clear that the way I am feeling these days is not because of him exactly.  Rather, it is because of the way I feel that he has come along.  He feels like an answer to a prayer that I didn't even know I prayed, a prayer my conscious heart denied but my soul has chanted for the last 29 years.  I know I'm sounding really dramatic.  But after all the bullshit I've been through with relationships; the abuse, the self-loathing as a result, the years of pushing people away while simultaneously pining for lovers who were never right or available in the first place: I'm ready.  I'm ready for this man in my life, and I can't wait to tell y'all more about things as they progress.  I never knew how much courage it takes to truly open up and be yourself and allow someone to love you that way.  It's a terrifying, daunting thing.  It's easier to push him away and keep my heart in a cage.  But being scared has never stopped me before and it sure as hell won't now.  I've harnessed enough strength to take what I deserve, and I'm taking it.  I feel like Etta fucking James.  My lonely days might just be over....and life is like a song. :)

I hope everyone out there in blogland is doing great.  I need to make sure I don't let this lovesick crap distract me from my goals.  I think one sign of a good, healthy kind of love is when it doesn't pull you away from your goals but lifts you up and aligns you with them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I should have written a poem about this.

Ordinarily when I feel angsty or somewhere otherwise on the negative spectrum about something, that's the best time to write poetry.  But today I feel like blogging instead.

There's a pervasive feeling that I can't shake, one I don't like to think about or own up to.  It's deeper than even the food addiction confessions I made early on in this blog.  It's deeper than realizing (and writing about) how I was hoarding self-loathing feelings underneath layers of pride.

Yet, it's likely blatantly obvious to everyone but me.  I have no idea.

I'm alone and I'm getting tired of it.

There, I said it.  I'm actually not alone at all, considering my family lives just a few miles away and I'm blessed to have them as well as a few good trustworthy friends.  There are men who adore me but I won't let them get close.  I don't trust them.  I don't trust myself.  I do trust myself but not with men.  Oh, I'm making no sense.  This is why I can't write a poem...because I don't understand what I'm feeling well enough to convey it in a few punchy words.

The holidays coming soon depress me.  For several years now, for one reason or another, I haven't been in the mood to celebrate.  Last year, I sorta celebrated, by having an ugly Christmas sweater party.  I drank a lot of wine and made out with some dude I've known since Kindergarten.  Merry Christmas? Lol.

The year before that, my aunt had just died at the hand of her evil boyfriend, so my family was in no mood to celebrate.  I had flown back to WV from CA after the news of her death, and stayed for ten days, but I had to get back to my job in CA so I wasn't able to stay for Christmas.  It's not like anyone felt like celebrating anyway.  I spent the day alone on the beach, wrapped up in a hoodie, bent over a fresh notebook with my favorite pen.

The year before that was my first year in California and I really didn't know very many people.  I have no clear recollection of how I spent Christmas so I guess it wasn't notable.

The year before that, I had just finally summoned the tiny spark of courage I had left inside my broken soul to get myself out of an abusive relationship that had been eroding my self worth for years.  I was in WV for Christmas, which was nice, since I was happy to be away from him and with my family.  But I was a completely broken person.  My body was weak and bruised, my heart was completely shredded, my soul was uncertain and terrified of the light.

Since that day that nightmare ended, I have struggled enormously in figuring out how to heal.  It has taken a lot longer than I ever imagined it would.  Three years later and I'm still feeling twinges of shame for how much time I wasted letting someone abuse me and tear down my self esteem.  Three years later and I'm finally just starting to fully understand how much I was starving myself of my own love and affection.  Only since I started this weight loss journey (which by the way is about a hell of a lot more than weight loss) have I truly started to recognize how self loathing I've been all these years.  I have made great strides in these past few months.  I've learned how to honestly love and respect myself, but it's still a battle every day to remind myself to behave in ways that reflect these things.  One thing I never really got until recently is that behavior is a product of thought, and so behavior very much reflects on how we think about ourselves.  They cannot be separated.  Thought is reflected in behavior and behavior is reflected in thought.  So I bat away unhealthy thoughts as much as possible, and try to engage in healthy behavior and make healthy decisions for myself.  And by 'healthy' I don't just mean eating salad instead of a Big Mac; I also mean making sure that I get (and give) respect from and to all who interact with me, including from myself.

So on the subject of batting away unhealthy thoughts, I tend to bat away thoughts about wanting a partner.  I don't like thinking about wanting to be in a relationship.  I know that I have a ton of stuff to take care of for myself.  I know that I have a lot of work to do in many areas of my life before I will feel ready to start dating.

There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, because I'm a strong believer in the notion that another person can never complete you or make you happy.  I think we must all take responsibility for our own happiness.  So I'm going to round myself out (figuratively--NOT literally! lol!) by myself.  I'm going to put all the hard work in and make all the necessary changes on my own, for me, not because I want to be what somebody else wants or needs me to be.  Because I care about the quality of my life.  Because I love being alive and I want to soak up every second on this vibrant planet.  Because I believe I deserve whatever I can dream up so long as I am willing to put forth the work to achieve it.

The second reason is because of something I heard a pastor say in a talk he was giving to young, single folks. I don't ordinarily listen to pastors as I am not religious at all and have no faith in any gods.  However, the guy had a great point when he said that the notion that there is a right person for everyone is a myth.  He said when people say, "Oh, none of those relationships in my past worked out because I just haven't met the right person yet," they're lying to themselves.  He said that each of us should stop expecting all in the world to become right when we meet the "right person" and instead take the responsibility to make things right in our worlds for ourselves.  He also said we should ask ourselves the following question: "Am I the kind of person that the person I'm looking for is looking for?"  I have mentioned this before in my writing, perhaps.  It's a question worth asking.

So basically there was no point to this blog, other than for me to admit that I do wish I had a partner in life even though I know now isn't the best time to go looking for one.  I figured maybe if I could admit this very private feeling that I usually bury deep within my mind, maybe I could let go of it a bit.  I'm sick of having it cross my mind on the daily.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Plateau Defeated!

I am thrilled to report that I finally got over the plateau I was battling for the last couple of weeks.  Looking back, I feel kind of dumb for wigging out as much as I did about it, lol.

I stopped weighing myself daily, which was a major help.  Now that I have managed to get ahold of myself and stop obsessing about the number on a daily basis, I can see how not helpful it was for me to stay so focused on that number every day.  After 7 days of not weighing in, I was very happy to see a 2.5 pound loss when I weighed in this past Saturday.  I actually got up, waited to eat or drink, and drove over to my parents' house (where I stashed my scale, so I wouldn't be tempted, lol) so I could weigh myself Saturday morning.  I remember staring at the wall in front of me while I waited for the number to populate, being all dramatic and thinking, Okay, this is the moment of truth, please be a lower number, pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease, I swear baby Jesus I'll never do anything bad again as long as I live so help me god amen.  LOL.

So my total pounds lost now are around 29.  This number represents perseverance.  It has been many years since I lost that much weight.  Oh, sure, I've made many attempts, losing 10 here, 15 there, but 29 means I've stayed focused for a good long chunk of time.  29 means I'm in it for the long haul.  29 means I mean business.  29 means that when I turn 30 on June 8, 2012, I will be a brand new woman.

I went over my weekly calorie budget by about 800 calories.  This is the furthest I've gone over in several weeks.  I'm not trippin though.  I actually have my phone app set at 300 per day below what it says I should eat to lose at a rate of 2 pounds per week, so if I go a few hundred over during the course of a whole week, it's no big deal.  I'm still well within that 2 pound a week range.  After all, this is a lifestyle, not a diet.  Not every week is going to be exactly like the week before.  Within each week, I have days that I go under, and days that I go over.  And the same can be said for weeks.  There will be weeks that I eat more, and weeks that I eat less.  The point is to stay mindful of what I'm eating, to keep in the habit of exercise, and enjoy the inner peace that discipline and productiveness bring to my life.

Next week I'm headed to the beach for five glorious autumn days.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I have gone over my calorie budget by anywhere from 300-600 calories per day for the past three days.  And it hasn't been because of mindless snacking.  It's been because of hunger!  I can't justify starving myself when I am honestly, sincerely hungry, so I decided to go ahead and eat when my body was telling me to eat which is what sent me sailing over my calorie budgets last few days.  I did make good choices, like for example I ate a big bowl of steamed broccoli last night with 0 cal butterspray.  But that was after I ate an extra cup of chili, and a smoothie. Lol. :(

Someone on the Lose It! forum (this is a website I got involved in through my phone app for calorie counting) told me that sometimes your body is asking you to refuel after a prolonged period of creating a calorie deficit.  So I'm gonna go with that, lol.  I have no idea how much truth there is to that--does anyone know?

So my goal for today, and this week in general, is to stay within my calorie budget, and in order to do that I'm taking action in a couple of different ways.  I'm going to try to eat a bit more during the work day so that I'm not so ravenous when I get home at night.  I'm going to drink more water (I usually do pretty good with this but feel like I've slacked off last couple days).  I'm going to up my veggie intake dramatically to fill myself up with low calorie goodness.  And I've upped my exercise from 20 minutes to 30 minutes per session.

I haven't weighed myself in a few days but the last time I did, I was about a pound lower than when my plateau started, so that's something at least.  I took my scale to my parents' house where it will stay until October 17th, which is the day before I leave to go on vacation for 5 days at Myrtle Beach.  I would love to get 5 pounds off from my last logged weigh-in by then.  I also think weighing before I leave for vacation will help keep me mindful while I'm at the beach.  We are staying in a room with a kitchen, and it's just my best friend and I going, so we plan to cook nearly every meal.  There is honestly no reason why I shouldn't be able to stick to my diet fairly well while there.  I can take walks on the beach for exercise.  The only thing that will mess me up is wine, but dammit I'm drinking wine on my vacation. hehe

So that's your weekly update, mamas.  Sorry it was a day late.  Much love <3

Friday, September 30, 2011

In need of patience, a quiet mind, and a big picture.

The past two weeks have been enormously frustrating.  My weight hasn't been going down like I want it to.  I signed up for a 10 pounds down in September challenge and I am only 6 pounds lower than my weight on the 1st of September.  But I know I should be proud of my 6 pounds instead of being aggravated.  My main issue with it is that those six pounds all came off within the first 2 weeks, and the past two weeks I've been hovering at the same weight and I can't understand why.  I'm still logging every bite of food that goes into my mouth, and my phone app calculates all of my calories and everything, so I know I've stayed within my calorie budget.  Mathematically, it does not make sense that I am not losing weight.  This is what we call the dreaded plateau.  And I have no clue how to get myself past it since I am doing everything right as far as I can tell.

It's amazing to me how powerful a plateau can be in wrecking a person's motivation.  For the past two months I've been sailing so smoothly, feeling great, having healthy self-esteem, not having to bat away very many negative thoughts at all.  Haven't had the urge to eat for emotional reasons, haven't had to fight snacking much, haven't been down on myself.  Everything's felt effortless because the desire burns in me so passionately to be a healthier happier person.  But now that my weight isn't budging, I'm feeling like all the negative thoughts were just waiting inside of a gate and now they've been let out, rushing back to the forefront of my mind, catching me off guard.  I find myself fumbling to find my armor to protect myself.

My mind is wrought with all sorts of tangled thoughts that are completely irrational and detrimental to my ambitions.  I keep thinking things like, "Well, if I only lost 6 pounds this month while I'm still this big, how slow is it gonna be once I get closer to a normal weight?" because we all know that larger people lose weight faster and easier than smaller people.  And I think other things too, like "this is too hard.  If I have to cut my calories anymore, I won't be able to do this" or "am I going to need to exercise even more?  I am doing all I can!"

I don't know what the right answer is to get past this plateau, so I've figured out a plan of action that I can live with.  Be more mindful of my carb intake.  No more smoothies for dessert at night (this is only something I started like a week ago when I got my smoothie blender, but apparently carbs at night is a bad idea).  Also, time to get more serious about exercise.  Need specific, regimented workouts, which include strength training.  And I bought a measuring tape.  And I'm taking my scale to my parents' house for awhile so I won't obsess over the number.

If anyone has any words of wisdom for me, let's hear em.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jeans that don't fit.

As of today I am down 24.8 pounds.  I am a very happy Linz!  I feel like I've finally discovered the secret of weight loss.  And of course, the secret is that there is no secret, lol.  Kinda like Kung Fu Panda.

The secret is getting your mind right.  It hasn't been as simple as really wanting it; you hear people say that you have to really want it in order to succeed.  For me that isn't true.  I've always really wanted it.  Of course I want to lose weight and be healthier and look better.  No one in their right mind wouldn't want those things for themselves.  It's been deeper than that, though, for me.  Recognizing that my behavior was not the kind of behavior conducted by a person who has a high sense of self worth was the key that unlocked it for me.  First realizing, and then being willing to admit, that my self esteem could use some work is all I needed to do.  Then one by one I've been shining lights on my darkest most shameful thoughts and secrets regarding my weight and food addiction.  They shrink in the light and become easy to overcome.  I have come so far since I started this blog.  There is still so much road ahead of me, and I'm eager to keep taking baby steps all the way to the finish line.

Having said all that wonderful motivating stuff, it's true that I didn't meet all my action goals this week.  I kind of slacked on tracking my water intake although I did try to drink plenty of water (I just didn't bother to log it in my app which means I probably didn't drink as much as I needed to, I never do when I don't log it).  I also kind of slacked on exercise.  I worked out hard on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but Thursday I took a rest day and Friday I was exhausted due to a majorly stressful day at work (far more stressful than any other day I've had there since I started that job over a year ago).  Then house cleaning and social things got in my way yesterday, and I drank wine last night so I am way too tired today (Sunday) to work out.  I feel weak and hung over.  I never used to get hung over like this and I didn't even drink that much.  I'm going to remember this day the next time I get the bright idea to drink.  In my defense, this is only the second time I've had any alcohol since I started my weight loss journey.  And it'll be a good long while before I drink again.  It's not worth the calories, dehydration, and hang over.

I did great on my food intake all week.  Made sure to log every bite that went into my mouth, and as of today I'm under my weekly budget by over 600 calories.  I'm actually finding it difficult on some days to eat as many calories as I have been budgeted.  I guess when you start incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet, you get more bang for your buck.  I'm hardly ever ravenously hungry anymore like I used to be and I haven't snacked after dinner in so many weeks I couldn't even tell you.  That is huge for me.  I used to eat one thing after another all night long while sitting in front of this computer.

I tried a new food this week: hummus.  I love it!  I need suggestions for healthy ways to eat it so let me know.  I dipped tortilla chips into it but obviously this wasn't the healthiest choice.  I did ok calorie wise but would like to avoid chips as much as possible.  Maybe zucchini chips?? Lol.  I need to learn how to make those.

I dug out about ten pairs of old jeans today that don't fit me anymore.  They range in size from my lowest weight when I was about 21 all the way up to the size below what I wear now.  I am excited for the first time in a long time to see all of these jeans.  They used to depress me but now I have 100% confidence that I'll be able to wear every single pair of them again.  I'm going to pick out a pair that I think I'll be able to fit in soon, and hang them up where I can see them every day.  I'll try them on every so often until the wonderful day arrives when they fit.  Then I'll get out the next pair and do the same thing. :D

Overall I'm pleased with this week even though I should have pushed harder on working out and drinking water.  I will be sure to do that this coming week.

Thanks for reading and for your continued support, you guys rock. \m/

Monday, September 12, 2011

Slow and steady.

All has been well in Linztown this week.  I stayed within my calorie budget every day this past week.  In fact, according to my phone app I actually finished the week out with 600 calories to spare.  That's amazing!  I'm finding that I'm a lot less hungry than I used to be, and when I am hungry, it's manageable hunger, not the kind that makes me feel dizzy and nauseous like I used to have when I was on carbs.  Yes, I say "on carbs" like some people would say "on drugs".  Now, that is not to say I don't eat any carbs at all--I do.  I just don't shovel handfuls of potato chips or Reese cups in my mouth anymore.

For that matter, it's worth mentioning that I have a lot more control over my appetite these days.  I am able to make rational decisions before I eat anything.  I'm not sure I have ever had this ability before in my life, not even during successful weight loss efforts in the past.  An example of this would be Saturday, when I drove 3 hours west to visit some friends of mine who were camping at Watoga State Park.  For dinner, they fixed roasted chicken, baked potatoes, and green beans over an open fire.  It was awesome (and healthy!).  However, they also made a strawberry chocolate dump cake, which I declined.  DECLINED!  And I didn't feel deprived.  I just thought about it, analyzed how I felt, and realized I honestly did not feel a strong desire to eat it.  So I figure, why blow 300 or more calories on a piece of cake, when I don't even feel like I really want it that much?  So I didn't eat it.  Winning!

I always worry about weekends because it's harder to stay in control.  However, thanks to my nifty phone app (and my own diligence), I was able to stay within my calorie budget all weekend.  I also got plenty of exercise while I was out of town on Saturday.  We went to a few beautiful places such as the Cranberry Glades and Droop Mountain, so there was a bit of hiking and a lot of walking involved.  My asthma acted up a bit here and there, but I pushed through anyway.  I'm tired of letting my asthma hold me back.  

Since I had to get up so early on Saturday morning to make the drive out there, I thought for sure on Sunday I would sleep really late.  However, apparently my body was ready to wake up at 8:30.  Really?  8:30 on a Sunday?!  There's a reason I don't go to church and it ain't so I can get up at 8:30! Lol!  However, much to my surprise, the first thought that popped into my mind after I got out of bed was, "I better get my walk in now before it rains later."  So I sure did eat a quick breakfast, slip into my workout clothes, grab my dog, and head outside before 10am.  This is so not like me!  But apparently, it is like me after all.  The new me. :)  

So none of the exercise I completed over the weekend felt forced at all.  My body actually craved it.  This is all new to me....I'm still shocked, and delighted.

I noticed on last Monday's blog that I set a goal for last week that I completely forgot about, which was make a point to eat at least 3 servings of veggies every day.  I totally let that one slide.  However, I probably achieved it, I just didn't make a point to keep track so I don't know if I did or if I didn't.  I could go back through my phone app logs and see if I did, but I think I'll let it go.  I'm not setting any new goals for this week.  I feel like I am on a roll with things how they currently are, and I want to work on making all of this feel more like a way of life before I add on some more new stuff.  Slow and steady.  I'm feeling very steady, stable, and on track right now.  I don't want to overwhelm myself and screw up that stability.  So this week my goals again are to make sure I log all of my food intake, make sure to get enough water (and log that too), exercise 5 times, and cook at home at least 80% of the time.  

By the way, I'm now at 20.2 pounds lost, 2 more since last Monday's blog.  And Aunt Flo is currently visiting (if ya know what I mean), so I'm probably holding water right now too.

I'm currently at the point in the game where I most often give up.  It is frustrating; so far I can't really tell much by how I look or how my clothes fit, so even though I know I've lost 20 pounds, I feel like I'm the same size. I still haven't gotten myself a measuring tape, which I probably should.  I did however get myself some new workout clothes, which I was pretty excited about, lol.  Somehow, wearing workout clothes makes me feel more awesome and motivated, lmao.  Anyway, I know that if I can just stick with this shit for another 20 pounds, the results will really start to show and it'll be easier to keep going.  So until then, I will relish my new ability to control my appetite, as well as my raised energy levels, and tell myself to just keep swimming.

I know this blog was kinda boring, nothing profound or poetic...but at least I had all good things to report. :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reasons why I have no choice.

Part of me has been suffering from the delusion for far too long that I somehow have a choice in this whole weight loss endeavor.  Like losing weight is an option available to me, should I decide to better myself.  


The only other option is to die.  Well, suffer at an increasing rate for X number of years, and then die.

My mother has diabetes which she was diagnosed with ten or so years ago, and yes, it's a result of her weight.  She has been overweight pretty much her entire life, but it started to become a pervasive issue in her life when my brother and I were toddlers.  I have watched her balloon up past 400 pounds, and shrink down below 200 on numerous occasions.  But as she's gotten older, the weight becomes harder to lose again.  And not just because of slowed metabolism and age, but because of insulin.  Did you know that insulin will make you gain weight so fast it will leave your head spinning?  My mom has gained 40 pounds since her sister died two years ago, and trust me, it's not because she eats too much.  Her appetite has been a casualty of the stressful situation she has been under for the past two years since my aunt's death.  Her overall health, in fact. She is now using more insulin than she's ever had to before, and has virtually no control over her ever-rising weight.  She has made the decision to get weight loss surgery.  Her doctor stands behind her, as does my father, as do I.  I am thrilled that in all likelihood she will, a year from now, be far healthier than she has ever been, and have the energy to do all of the things she wants to do but can't right now.  

Most of all though, the notion that my mother is going under the knife because of her weight, having a surgery that very well may be the only thing that saves her life at this point, is sobering to say the least.  When I look at a donut now, all I see is the pain in my mother's eyes.  Today we met briefly so she could explain to me all of the stuff that she has left to get done before she can schedule her surgery.  It's overwhelming.  The hopelessness that she's been feeling about the double-edged insulin sword is overwhelming.  The fact that I know damn well that until very recently, I've been going down the same exact road, is overwhelming.  Today she pleaded and emphasized how important it is for me to stay on the new path I've forged lately.  To stick to my new way of life no matter what.  She doesn't have to tell me.  I feel at this point there is no other option for me.

I'm 29 years old, I live in a beautiful house on a beautiful farm.  I have no kids who need me to cook them meals and no husband who eats things that I can't have.  I have this house to myself.  I have my health on my side; the only battle I fight is my asthma, unlike my mother who can't even lose a pound because the insulin is fighting against her every step of the way.  Short of hiring a chef and a personal trainer Oprah-style, I am pretty much in the ideal situation for weight loss.  

And I will get this done.  I will not look back at myself 25 years from now and wish I had stayed on this path. I will look back and be so glad I was able to get my shit together while I was still young enough to change my life for good.

Mid-week frustrations.

I'm gonna use a blog post to write out everything that's currently frustrating me.  It is my hope that once I get it written, I will be able to let go of all of it and refocus.

1. My weight
Okay, if I'm going to allow myself to weigh every day, then I have to stop letting it drive me nuts.  My weight yesterday was up three pounds, which totally sucked, especially since I didn't slip up a single time all weekend.  I logged all my food, I stayed within my calorie budget, exercised, drank my water, blah blah blah.  Yet a three pound increase on the scale is enough to make me want to rip my hair out.  (Except that's a very bad idea, because my hair is already so thin! lol)  So anyway, of course rationally I know this increase can't possibly mean I've gained three pounds of fat.  It probably means I should have spent more than $20 on a set of scales, lol.  Or maybe I was holding water.  Or hadn't had a proper "bathroom visit" in awhile.  Who knows?  I can't drive myself crazy thinking about it though, that's one thing I know.  It did drop a pound today, so I'm still two over my lowest weight.  And I started a 10 Pounds Down in September challenge last Thursday, so it kinda pisses me off that my weight is exactly the same today as it was last Thursday.  I need those two pounds!!  I only have three weeks left to lose these damn 10 pounds.

2. My sodium intake
What the fuck?  Apparently taco seasoning has an ungodly amount of sodium in it.  I made taco salad last night, modified of course to stay within my calorie budget (no chips, light sour cream, extra lean beef, etc).  However, today upon looking at my nutrient tracker in my food log app I realized that I ate about 2,200mg of sodium just in dinner alone last night.  AHH!!  I have high blood pressure, which is one of the main reasons why I finally felt like I had to do something about my weight problem.  So, my doctor has advised me more than once to keep my sodium intake below 1500mg a day.  Does she realize this is fucking impossible?  However I am making a promise to myself to a) be more mindful of how much sodium is in my food and make appropriate choices and b) not feel overwhelmed by this right now.  I am not going to change my entire lifestyle and relationship with food overnight.  (And I've come pretty far already, if I do say so myself.)

3. My water intake
Apparently a good rule of thumb for water intake is to cut your weight in half and then drink that many ounces of water per day.  Holy shit.  This is a lot of water for a person of my size.  I thought I was drinking enough but I wasn't.  Luckily, I like water, so even though it kinda sucks to find out I wasn't drinking enough, the good news is I'm not dreading having to drink more.  I just need to keep better track of it.  I did download a nifty little phone app called Water Logged that helps me keep track.

4. My asthma
It was giving me trouble last night during my workout.  I started off hard but after about 5 minutes I had to slow way down, take it easy, chill out, use my inhaler a few times, and then gradually get back into it. I was fine after this but it really sucks and has a way of making me feel like I just want to give up.  After my workout was done, I felt constricted but I just tried to suffer through it because I'm pretty sure it's not good for me to use my inhaler frequently--besides the fact that that shit's expensive, I think frequent use raises blood pressure (ugh!).  After a few minutes my breathing returned to normal.  This frustration is central to my repeated failures at nailing down an exercise routine.  I hate feeling like I can't breathe.  And I don't know why it is worse some days than others.  There are times when I don't feel constricted at all anytime during my workout.  Yet other days are like yesterday.  At any rate, I just need to keep reminding myself that however frustrating this may be for me, it's only going to get worse if I don't lose weight, and the only solution to this problem is to lose weight.  I'm hoping my asthma will improve as I become more physically fit.

5. My appearance hasn't changed
So far I haven't lost enough weight for it to show significantly.  I saw one of my best friends the other day and he said that he couldn't tell I lost weight so far (I didn't ask) but that he's sure he'd be able to tell soon.  Keep your honesty to yourself, buddy!  I guess I'm too sensitive but I really didn't need to hear that.  16-18 pounds on him would be very noticeable, since he's of average weight, but on me, it ain't shit.  Can't even tell.  Jeans aren't even looser.  It's frustrating.  But I know that the key to success in losing a significant amount of weight is not giving up at this point in the game.  This is where most people say fuck it, it's not fast enough, it doesn't feel like it's working, I quit.  Well, I can't quit.  I have no choice. I just wish this shit didn't take so long!

Okay, I feel better.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blissful motivation.

This past week has been full of epic win.  I feel like I did everything right, and I've been gloriously motivated.  Oh motivation, you are so sweet.  We all know that this blissful state ebbs and flows.  There will be weeks when motivation is like the last tiny squeeze of toothpaste, where I have to spend half the day just squeezing out enough to actually get anything done.  But this week, it was free flowing, baby.  And I soaked it up.

My weight is down 5.8 pounds.  (My total lost is now 18.2.)  I am just thrilled.  It's great to really put action into my goals and see the results show up like magic on the scale.  :)  Except it's not magic.  It's the product of hard work.  How nice it is to feel accomplished and hopeful again.

Last week my action goals were to take my meds every day (check!), keep my food journal all week and no ditching it during fun times over the weekend (check!), and take my dog on a brisk walk around the farm three times (check! I did this four times, plus I danced for 25 minutes on another day).  In addition to reaching my goals, I also drank plenty of water each day (although I did not keep track of this), and cut back on diet soda.  I also stayed within my calorie budget, and ate more vegetables.  I also cooked at home a lot more and only ate out twice.

This week my goals are gonna be to take my meds every day, to exercise 5 times, to keep my food journal every day as well as my phone app log, and to make sure I get at least 3 servings of vegetables every day.  Next week I think I will up it to 4.  I just want to make sure I'm getting enough veggies in, because I notice sometimes I have meals without any veggies.  Also this week I'm not gonna make myself log my water intake but I want to make sure I keep it up on drinking plenty of water.  I usually don't have a problem with this because fortunately I love water.  And I've noticed exercising more makes me crave water instead of diet soda so I've naturally tended to drink less diet soda lately.

The new group on Facebook that started out with me and a few of my friends has grown to 53 members.  I love it there.  Between that and Mamavation I feel very supported.  And man, what a difference that makes, doesn't it?  To know that there are people who care about how well you're doing, who want to hear how you did each day.  That's a beautiful thing and I know it's certainly impacted my efforts this week.  Thanks guys.

Another thing worth mentioning: now that I have a lot more control over what I'm eating than I did, say, a month ago, I am able to better identify weaknesses.  For example, this may seem obvious to some, but when I actually see food right in front of me, especially food that is available to me, it is amazing how much power that visual cue has.  I never thought about it before; I figured if I wanted to eat bad I would find a way even if it wasn't around.  When I'm in a room with some type of food, like for example, a Reese cup, I am constantly aware of it.  I may be thinking or talking about something else, but in the back of my mind, I'm either thinking, "I gotta get me one of those" or I'm thinking, "I will not eat that Reese cup, dammit".  Either way, it's on my mind.  So obviously then it's very important to try to stay away from places as much as possible where there will be powerful visual triggers like these.  Unfortunately, my parents' house is one of those places.  I can't just go over there and hang out after work anymore, at least not right now while I'm still so vulnerable.  There is way too much junk food over there.

Another cue for me is the mention of food.  My best friend Peggy sometimes emails me during work hours and in our conversations she may mention what she had for lunch.  Sometimes it sounds so damn good, I can picture it right in front of me, imagine how it tastes.  It's not as powerful as the visual cue, because it's not food available right in front of me, but it still takes my mind from wherever it was and puts it squarely back on food.  

It's interesting how our minds work.  Our brains tend to like to obsess over things.  Mine does, anyway.  So I've just been keeping myself obsessed with my goals.  :)

Hope everyone had a great week, and has a great week coming up too. :)  My slightly more long-term goal is to lose 10 pounds for the month of September.  I have 8 to go.

Much love.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What does "lifestyle" really mean?

Well, you can add what I'm about to discuss in this blog to the mile-long list of concepts that I thought I understood but have recently come to truly understand.

Everyone's favorite thing to say about diets is that they don't work.  You can't just go on a restrictive, temporary diet, they tell you.  You must change your lifestyle.  Okay, great.  Change my lifestyle.  This means, I always figured, that the changes I make to my diet must be permanent, not temporary.  Restricting sugar and other highly fattening foods is something I'll need to do forever and ever, amen.  Seems pretty straightforward, right?

Not so fast.  There's not a whole Wikipedia page on the word "lifestyle" for shits and giggles.  It's there because the word means a hell of a lot more, even in the context of weight loss, than simply adhering to new and better habits.

One reason this is on my mind lately is because of a new wellness group I created on Facebook.  This group so far has roughly 50 members, many of whom are my personal friends.  I have been asking them about their meals lately.  Yesterday, I asked what they typically eat for breakfast, and today I asked about lunch.  Aside from being utterly delighted with the sheer volume of responses I've received, I'm also rather surprised and intrigued to find that their lifestyles are very different from mine.  So I find myself thinking, "Is this how normal people eat?  Am I really that different in my habits from what typical, healthy people do?"  The answer is, unequivocally, yes.  I am that different.

Here's why.  Many of the group members have listed foods I have never even heard of and certainly never tried.  Many of them talk about cooking and it makes me realize how many years I've gotten by in life without cooking.  They talk about weekly and monthly meal plans.  They talk about healthy snacks they've invented to keep everyone in their families satisfied between meals.  Some of them are highly educated on nutrition, far more than I am (and I thought I was fairly knowedgeable, heh!); they know not only the nutritional aspects of foods but they also know about lots of other health benefits associated with various foods.

I have never in my life spent any significant amount of time (before this year) bothering to learn about food or what foods are best for my body.  I have spent countless hours studying information regarding diets, that is, information geared toward the ambition of losing weight.  However, as far as food for food's sake, I know virtually nothing.  I've lived off of fast food and other people's cooking my entire life.

And exercise!  A guy at my work, Eddie, looked at me like he was insulted when I asked him the other day if he works out regularly.  Of course he does, he said.  Every morning at 6am before work.  During the conversation, another girl, Tobie, chimed in and said she runs every morning before work.  Is this what normal people do?  I wouldn't know.  It's sure as hell not what I have ever done.  I remember living with my old roommate, Miranda, in California for two years.  She worked out at least 5-6 times per week.  I thought she was just a health nut.  I guess I always thought everyone who eats weird food (pita bread? hummus?) and works out a lot is a health nut.

What I'm realizing is that you don't have to be a health nut to live your life in a way that is conducive with overall health.  This is just what non-lazy people with high self esteem and a healthy appetite for life do.

So all this time I've been thinking that a lifestyle change was about making permanent changes that felt unnatural to me.  I was dead wrong.

Part of Wikipedia's report on lifestyle is as follows: "A lifestyle typically also reflects an individual's attitudes, values or worldview. Therefore, a lifestyle is a means of forging a sense of self".  

So this isn't about just about changing habits.  It's about changing attitudes.  It's about being truly interested in my health, and in what foods are best for me.  It's about truly wanting to do what's best for myself.

Lately I've been incredibly, for lack of a better word, obsessed with the healthy changes I've made to my life in recent months.  I started out that way purposefully, because I know that people who are immensely successful usually get that way because they completely immerse themselves in their goals.  I've been involved in a healthy living group on Twitter for a few weeks now, I've been keeping this blog, I'm journaling my food intake and exercise, I'm tracking all my nutrients, and I recently started my new wellness group on Facebook. I'm talking about it with co-workers.  I'm reading fitness magazines for the first time in my life.  Immersion.

And much to my delight, it's working out superbly.  At first it felt a bit forced, but at this point, I'm honestly staying involved with all of these things because I am genuinely, truly interested in them.  And more than that, I'm feeling the confidence of a leader grow inside of me!  I have been cheering my friends along as they decide, one by one, to start their own efforts at living healthier, and I've been giving pep talks to co-workers and family members.  I'm providing support and information to anyone who asks me for it.  It feels like I was born to be a leader now.  And I've never really felt that way before.

Will I, the lifelong fat chick, become so involved and interested in healthy living, that it becomes a *gasp* lifestyle for me?

Time will tell.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh, snap!

So, my weight is down 2 pounds today and I'm thrilled about it.  I know I need to quit weighing myself every day, but my weight had been stalling at the same damn stubborn weight for so many days that I was determined to see it go down.  Last night I got my exercise in, cooked a healthy dinner, did everything perfect, and by god I was gonna see that fucking number on that scale go down today, lol!  And I got what I wanted :)  So now I'm at a total of 15 pounds lost.

I sent a text to one of my best friends this morning to tell him about this because I was so thrilled. He replied, "I'm sure it's not actual weight, but that means you're eating less which is still good."  This pissed me off.  I was like, "Um, wtf do you mean, not actual weight?"  He was like, well, your body weight fluctuates from day to day..blahblahblah.  I'm thinking, what the fuck?  Does he think I don't know that? LOL Does he not know how hard I've been working?  So I sent him a text telling him he rained on my parade and that it IS actual weight and that I worked my ass off to get those two pounds off so screw him, lol.  Then he replied that I was getting offended and that he didn't know what I'd been doing.  I realized I've been so consumed in this wellness project of mine that I don't even think I've taken the time to update him or any of my other friends on what I've been doing lately (except for the ones who are also trying to lose weight).  So then I felt bad, apologized for going off on him, lol, and gave him a quick update on how hard I've been working for the past month.  He's at work so he hasn't had time to respond yet...I hope he isn't too mad.  But if he is, oh well.  This is the kind of thing that I would normally let depress me and mess up my day.  I hate having arguments or  using harsh words with people.  But I'm just gonna take a deep breath and let it go.  It was no big deal at all, I am sure he will understand better now that he knows I've been at this for a month, and if he chooses to be pissy, then I can't worry about that.  

I'm so pleased with this two pound loss.  I know it ain't much--a tiny little two pounds--but to see all my hard work paying off feels amazing.  My weight had gone up after this weekend's festivities (probably mostly water), and so for the past two days I was determined to get myself back in order and work really hard.  I feel more motivated than ever.

Also, I've started a group on Facebook for Wellness and it seems to be taking off!  27 members so far and we've already started a challenge for September.  Lose 10 pounds by September 30th!  I'm thrilled because I love the idea of having others who are working toward the exact same goal I am.  

I am pretty much amazed and ecstatic at how much better I feel than I did when I wrote that letter to myself on this blog not even a month ago.  And the best part is that I know I'm feeling better for the RIGHT reasons.  I'm not masking anything, not avoiding any feelings.  I have brought my demons into the light and I am fighting those bitches.  :)  I feel full of hope and desire for a full, joyous life.


Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breakin' out of these self-imposed shackles.

When most people think of me, I can guarantee you they don't think of an athletic person.  I'm just not.  I've always been the kid who was holed up in my bedroom, staring at my computer screen, typing furiously for hours (days), while the other kids were outside kicking a ball around.  I was into reading and writing long before the internet came around.  I never cared about anything else as much.

However, I do remember a time when strangers would mistake me for an athletic kid.  Despite being overweight even as a child, I have numerous memories of people asking me if I played softball or basketball.  I have wished a million times that I would have gotten involved in some kind of sport as a kid, so maybe I would have been more active, and never let my weight soar this far out of control.

But, things happened the way they did, and I find myself here today with age 30 looming around the corner, morbidly obese with high blood pressure, fragile self-esteem and only two pairs of jeans that actually fit.  And no one in their right mind would mistake me for being an athlete anymore, lol.

However, I'm going to write about something here that I have never written about before.  Sometimes (often, actually), when I am home alone, I often notice certain things about my body when I walk past a mirror.  As crazy as it may sound, sometimes when I move a certain way I catch tiny glimpses of athleticism in my body.  I see strength in my legs and shoulders and back.  I see a nice healthy curve in my hips. Usually I only notice these things for a fleeting moment and then I go back to seeing the pudgy, tired, overweight body in which I dwell.  But I see physical strength in my reflection enough to know that it's inside of me.  My body is young and stronger than I give myself credit for.  There may very well be an athlete inside of me, and it's time I started recognizing that instead of resigning myself to always being a fat clumsy kid.  I'm not a fat clumsy kid.  I may be fat but I think my body is capable of things I have never imagined I could ever do.

I'm really excited about the path I am on now.  And the best part about it is that all I have to do is keep taking baby steps.  Hundreds of baby steps add up to a few really huge steps. :D  I feel like nothing is gonna stop me now.

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. - Will Rogers

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday blues.

Well I'm sitting here at work and really don't have anything to do at the moment which is kinda weird for 9am on a Monday morning.  All that's on my mind is the fact that my weight was up this morning.  SO FRUSTRATING.  While I know that I did veer off course a bit here and there over the weekend, overall I really don't think I did that bad, in fact I was kind of pleased with myself for exercising some degree of restraint throughout the weekend's activities.

So I'm thinking about Shell's comment on my last blog and trying to apply it to how I feel this morning.  She said that the scale is a tool and that I should not obsess about the number it displays from day to day.  However, she also said that when the number is higher than it should be, I should take that opportunity to look back over the past week and think about what I could have done better.  And of course I can write a whole list.  So let me take a deep breath and here we go....

After I got off work Friday night, my food journal sorta got tossed to the side for the remainder of the week.  I ate Mexican with my parents that evening.  I forgot to take my blood pressure medicine on Saturday (that was one of my action goals last week, to take my meds daily).  Saturday, I went on a day trip to Dolly Sods near Seneca Rock, WV (about a four hour drive one way) with two of my friends.  I ate a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit early that morning from Tudor's, drank lots of diet soda all day, ate a slim jim for a snack around lunch time, and then we went to do a bit of hiking on the rocks at the Sods.  However, I didn't break a sweat.  A bad storm was rolling in so we really just sorta climbed around on the rocks a bit and hung out and then got back in the car.  By this time we were getting hungry for dinner but were in such a remote location that it was going to be quite awhile before we found a restaurant.  I ate a small handful of Cheez-its and 3 fudge-striped cookies that my friend had packed with her.  We also stopped at a gas station at one point and I drank a veggie/fruit juice drink.  It seemed like a healthy choice at the time but after looking at the nutrition info I noticed it was well over 300 calories and loaded with sugar.  We finally located a restaurant.  It was a steakhouse/buffet type of place.  I think in the future I am going to need to just stay completely away from any type of buffet style restaurant, lol.  I did pretty good though, I felt that I ate less than the people I was with.  I tried to choose meat and vegetables instead of a bunch of carby stuff, but I did eat pasta salad and ice cream.  On Sunday, I ate another biscuit from Tudor's that morning, a granola bar around lunch time, and then my mom made dinner at 5pm so I ate bbq chicken, corn, green beans, creamed potatoes, and black raspberry pie.  After that I ate nothing else the rest of the night except for some more green beans.

Okay, so obviously (lol) I now realize why my weight was up this morning.  I honestly didn't think I had done that bad over the weekend until I wrote it all out here.  Trust me, I could have done WAY WAY WAY more damage than I did, but that does not change the fact that I still did some damage.

I should also confess that I didn't go to the grocery store last night, although I did compile a grocery list and write a menu for the week.  I have enough food to get me through the day today, so my plan is to stop at the store after work tonight and get stocked up.  This is a big part of how I fail over and over--not keeping my kitchen stocked with healthy food.  So I have to go tonight no matter what!!!

This is why blogging is so good for me.  I learned a lesson today.  That lesson is that sometimes my general feeling about something (like how well I've done) may not be entirely accurate and that it's useful to write things out so I can see things I wasn't seeing before.  Lesson learned.  There are also some other lessons I learned over the past few days, which I wanted to write blogs about yesterday but never got around to it.  I've got to start being more committed to writing.  I wanted to write about how since I started this blog and my food journal that I catch myself being far more mindful about what I eat than I used to be.  But there is still a long way to go.

I have decided that since I slacked off on keeping my food journal over the weekend, and since I missed Saturday on my blood pressure meds, OH and I also missed one walk with my dog (I had set a goal to walk my dog three times--I was intending to take her on a nice long walk yesterday but it never happened), that I am going to keep the same action goals this week as I had last week.  The only new ones I am adding are keeping my food logged not just in my journal but also in my phone app (so I know how many calories, carbs, sodium, etc that I am taking in) and drinking more water.  I want to get these habits mastered before I add new ones.  Otherwise it'll be too much, overwhelm me, and I'll ditch this shit and run straight for the nearest Burger King.

Wish me luck this week, I sure need it.  But I'm not giving up.  I will say that I'm feeling pretty proud of myself for persevering even though this shit is making me feel so defeated right now.  I'm starting to learn that the key to this whole deal is having the strength to push through the days when I feel like giving up.

"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins, not through strength but by perseverance."  - H. Jackson Brown

Friday, August 26, 2011

Emotions are potent.

Today I feel somewhat discouraged because of a pound and a half increase on the scales this morning.  Okay, I'll be honest, that's not the only reason I feel like this.  It's also because I ate too much last night and so I'm feeling like the weight increase is because of my own inability to control myself.  However, since a pound is about 3,500 calories, there's obviously no way in hell I actually caused myself to gain a pound and a half just by eating a bowl of shredded wheat at 11pm, but I don't suppose my emotions have ever been particularly rational. I decided to come to my blog and write about how I'm feeling today instead of just trying to ignore it.  I don't want this blog to turn into mundane daily updates of "I feel good today" or "I ate too much yesterday, I suck".  That's how my weight loss journals always looked before and let's be honest, not even Jillian Michaels wants to read that shit.  It's boring.  I want this blog to read from start to finish like a beautiful story about a young woman approaching her thirties who is learning how to abandon old poisonous ways and fill herself to the brim with love and enlightenment.  A woman who is finally taking the time to fix what's broken inside and to feel comfortable and happy in her skin.

But alas, even the most profound stories have mundane bits.  So get over it and read the damn blog anyway ;p

I'm writing about my feelings of discouragement so I can get them out of me and move on.  I've learned that if I avoid the feeling or just try to ignore it or brush it away that it lingers, even if I think it's gone.  And as long as it lingers, it's affecting me.  I will not let an irrational feeling about a normal weight fluctuation stop me.  That would be the dumbest shit anyone ever did.  What I will do instead is remember how far I have already come, and analyze what's really making me feel like this.  Then I can figure out what to do to stop this from happening repeatedly.

Weighing myself daily is a bad idea.  Weighing myself weekly might even be a bad idea.  What if I weigh myself a week from today and for some reason my water weight is up 4 pounds 7 days from now?  Then for an entire week, I'm feeling like I feel right now, discouraged and upset and like a failure?  That's not good.  Rationally I know weight is just one somewhat inaccurate way to measure my progress.  I should be looking at measurements, pictures of myself, etc.  I need to take a picture of myself this weekend and buy a measuring tape as well.

Also it may serve me well to create a rule that I cannot eat after, say, 9pm on weeknights.  This would give me about a 3 hour window from the time I get home from work.  This may be an action goal I set for myself next week.  Eventually I need to set the goal of going to bed by 11pm on weeknights, too.  Healthy people get more sleep than I do.

Okay, so I've talked out my bad feelings, and now I'm going to let them go.  Today is a new day and it will be a success.  I have a ton of stuff to get done this weekend, including a couple more blogs I really want to write soon.  Thanks for reading as always. <3

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Baby steps, baby.

The title of this post is a quote I have used often in life.  I think I had it on my Facebook profile at one point.  It's because I believe in the enormous power of baby steps.  But now more than ever, I am realizing and learning this all over again.  It's funny how you think you understand a concept fully and then you get older and progress further in life and begin to understand it in a whole new way.  When I started realizing the power of baby steps, it was when I was planning my move to California.  At first, the notion of moving 2,500 miles away seemed so absurd and fantastical that I did not believe I would ever do it.  At that time, I was becoming very close with a friend of mine I'd met on the internet (still a very dear friend to me) who lived in Sacramento and with whom I was hoping to start a relationship.  I had expressed my desire to move to Sacramento, not just to be with him but because I really wanted to go somewhere liberal, sunny, and with an ocean nearby.  Soon, I changed from expressing a desire to expressing an intent to move there.  After the first few weeks of moving-to-Cali talk, and as we became closer, I began to feel very guilty for leading him to believe that I was actually going to do something as crazy as move to California and started thinking that I was going to have to tell him that I wasn't doing it.  But somewhere along the line, as I continued discussing the nuts and bolts and planning it out with him, I began to realize that this was not an impossible task, and that I really, really wanted to actually do it.  That was a very scary realization.  However, what got me through it was reminding myself constantly that all I had to do was take baby steps until I made it.  I broke the planning process down into manageable chunks and I did not let the big picture overwhelm me.  Six months later, I drove past the Welcome to California sign around noon on a sunny Friday as tears of joy streamed down my face.  Best moment of my life.  Was it better than graduating college, or getting my driver's license?  Damn straight it was.  Of course, college was four years of hard work as well, and I was very proud of my degree.  However, lots of people go to college, including most of my friends and family.  People graduate college every day who would never have the guts to move across the country.  The fact that I was able to pull my plan together and actually execute that move was a feeling of accomplishment that I cannot describe with mere words.  And without baby steps, it never would have happened.

It's hard not to get overwhelmed by the big picture right now, as well.  The big picture for me currently is that I have a lot of work ahead of me.  I have a shitload of weight to lose, and a lot of muscle to build.  I have a lot of research to do.  Lots of blogs to write.  Lots of clothes to buy as my weight continues to change.  Lots of food to learn how to cook.  Lots of habits to break.  Lots of new habits to form.  And aside from my weight loss and my mental health, I have other issues that need dealt with.  I need to buy a new car at some point in the next year or so.  I need to work on cleaning up my credit.  Lots of ducks to straighten into rows before I can even begin putting together a plan to move back to California (which by the way, I recently decided I am most definitely doing--I'll write more on that in a separate blog later).  Ahhh, it's so much, just thinking about it all makes me want to run straight for Dairy Queen and never look back.

I've spent so many years battling my weight that I am probably the most educated person in the room at any given time on things like nutrition and exercise.  I know which foods are best and worst, I know how often I should eat, I know which workouts will be most effective, I know it all.  So I'm always thinking about how well I'm doing in comparison to what I know I should be doing.  It's hard not to beat myself up about it.  For example I just ate a grilled chicken sandwich from Wendy's.  Ultimately I would prefer to be eating no fast food at all.  I would prefer to bring my lunch every single day and only eat wholesome foods, nothing processed, and definitely no white bread.  I would prefer to go home today and work out for an hour and then cook a delicious healthy dinner and then clean up my kitchen and then walk my dog and then get eight hours of sleep tonight.

However, I keep reminding myself that these changes will not happen overnight.  If I push myself too hard to be perfect, I will find myself so desperate to avoid the feelings of failure that I will drown myself in junk food and forget the whole thing.  I know this because I've done it about a zillion times before.  In my mind I always think, "but I don't want to slowly make changes, I want to do everything perfect now, so I can lose the most weight possible in the shortest amount of time".  That has got to be the stupidest damn thing I have ever thought in my entire life.  It seems even stupider now that I've typed it out, lol.  I have carried this weight around for 29 years (except for the few years in my early 20s when I lost 90 pounds, before I gained it back).    I don't think it's unreasonable to take a few extra months to work on changing my habits slowly and sustainably.  What could it possibly hurt?  And what makes that thought process even more ridiculous is that I am in fact losing weight, even as I take these baby steps.  I have lost about 12 pounds so far.

So maybe I did eat a grilled chicken sandwich from Wendy's.  But it's better than a double bacon burger with mayo and fries and god knows what else plus another similar meal for dinner.  It's worlds better.  I have already made so many significant changes that I should be praising myself, not beating myself up.

What I'm trying to do is add a couple of new goals each week.  This week my goals were pretty simple.  Take my dog on a long brisk walk at least three times, and make sure to take my blood pressure medicine every day.  Oh, and keep a food journal so I can identify triggers and emotional eating.  I have kept my commitment to myself so far and I will meet these goals by the end of the week, rest assured.  I have also done a lot more good than just this.  It may be beneficial to write a blog about what else I've done this week that was good that went above and beyond what I set out to do for the week.

I got the Biggest Loser 30 Day Jumpstart DVD last night.  I'm pretty excited to check it out.  I have been looking for some type of workout regimen and this may be what works for me.  We'll see.

Still mulling over what goals I want to set for next week.  I'm trying to only think about next week right now, and not next month or next year.  I reset my goal weight in my weight loss phone app to only 10 pounds less than my current weight, so that I have something to work toward that is within reach in the near future.  If I lose two pounds per week, I should be there by October 2nd at which point I'll set a new goal. :)

I have so much more I want to write, but this will do for now.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A quick check in.

Been productive today.  Got some laundry done, got the house cleaned up, even grocery shopped and planned my menu for the week.  I still need to decide what my plan is for exercise, and decide what action goals I want to start working on.  A (male sexy) friend of mine wants to come over tonight.  I would love to see him, but I really do not feel like being social tonight.  Or shaving my legs. :P

Be faithful in the small things, because it's in them that our strength lies. - Mother Teresa 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How does self-esteem relate to selfishness?

I need to write more on the subject of being selfish.  How does being selfish relate to having high self esteem?  I think they must be related.

I need to respect myself enough to stop breaking promises I make to myself.  It seems like it's easier to flake out on commitments I make to myself because it feels like there is no consequence (whereas, if I let someone else down, I'd feel guilty).  However, what I need to keep reminding myself a million times over is that there are consequences, and they are severe.  I've never had such a pervasive feeling before that I've lost my grip on life.  I've stopped feeling like being social most of the time.  I've stopped caring about hobbies and plans.  I get tired easily when I go out.  It mentally exhausts me to be around other people for prolonged periods of time.  And this is not normal for me -- this is not who I am.  I am a fun-loving, social person who wants to soak up every last bit of joy in life.  The weight and the self-esteem issues are smothering my true spirit.  And it sucks to have to think about this stuff every single day, but I have to keep reminding myself of it so I will take my personal commitments seriously enough to turn my life around.

I guess your mind (or your spirit) is like a muscle.  The more you use it the healthier it is and stronger.  I am feeling stronger inside.  I have so many issues needing dealt with, so many habits to break, so many new habits to form, so much crap to get done.  It feels overwhelming at times but I try not to let it.  I try to remember the old Chinese proverb, "The man who moved the mountain started by carrying away stones".  I can either do nothing at all and continue to watch my life fall like grains of sand through my fingers, or I can keep on trying and working hard and get my life back.  Every single decision I make moves me either backward or forward.  Just gotta keep making more good decisions than bad ones.

Still struggling with saying no to people.  My friend RL recently texted me at 10:30pm at night and wanted to hang out.  I didn't reply to his text, since I had to wake up at 6:30 the next morning for work.  The next morning he IMed me on Facebook and gave me a little bit of hell for ignoring his text the previous night.  I explained to him that it was too late for me to hang out on a work night, that I'm trying to be healthier and get more sleep and not party and stay out late on weeknights.  He said to quit acting like a granny and that I don't need 10 hours of sleep per night and accused me of making excuses.  He was just teasing, but it sucks to have to explain myself to people.  I do care for him and don't want him to think that I'm just flaking on him or whatever, but what the hell am I supposed to do when I explain myself and still catch shit for it?  Bottom line is, I need to not feel bad or guilty or compelled to try to "fix things" with him over this sort of thing.  I have to do what I'm setting out to do for myself first, and every single day, before I even so much as consider meeting another person's needs.  This is hard and I have to keep reminding myself.  Even though I did the right thing by telling RL no and being honest about why, I still worry about that sort of thing happening with him again and with my other friends.  I need to just try to let those emotions go and care about myself enough to stand my ground on this.

I have spent the entire weekend at home for the most part.  I often find myself wanting to take an entire weekend off from social activities just so I can get my house in order and do whatever I need to do to get ready for the next week.  I guess I'm thinking that after a few months I'll start feeling more together and I'll be able to have more social time.  I dunno.

I haven't really gotten a hell of a lot done this weekend, though.  As far as my eating goes, I've done fairly well (but could have done a lot better--however, I'm not trying to be perfect all at once...and I do feel I've improved things a lot so far).  I however have not done any exercise this weekend.  I am hoping to get some guidance from my friend Shell on this because I need to start doing some type of routine from week to week.

My goals for tomorrow are finish housework, plan a menu and grocery shop, and clean out my car.  And probably write another blog.  This one was kind of boring so I probably won't notify everyone that I wrote it, lol.

I'm thinking about action goals.  So another goal for tomorrow is to figure out which action goals I want to work on this coming week.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chasing sunsets.

So, I love sunsets.  Lately, I have been making a point to get outside every night to watch the sky turn pink and purple.  The thing about the sky is, it helps me feel connected to California.  I know that sounds kinda lame, but I miss my home so much.  And yes, home to me is California and always will be.  In California, I spent a lot of time gazing out over the ocean and the sky.  I would often go to a quiet beach north of the Bay and stay for hours alone, scribbling furiously in my journal or just watching the waves roll in.  I distinctly remember watching many sunsets over the Pacific.  There was always a lot of activity on the beach: people walking their dogs, couples sharing a blanket on the sand, children playing.  When the sun starts to glow a deeper orange and drops down closer to the water, the movement on the shore slows down.  As if a movie has begun to play, everyone becomes quiet and still and turns their gaze skyward while the sun slowly sinks below the horizon.  When dusk settles in, movement creeps back across the beach as everyone slowly gathers their things and meanders their way off the beach to discover whatever the night has in store.  It is a tranquil, mesmerizing, and glorious experience.  It is during moments like these that I truly feel high on life.

I'm not in California right now, and since I don't believe in regret, I do try to make the best of being here in West Virginia even though my heart is aching.  One thing that saves me is the abundant natural beauty that surrounds me here.  There is no ocean to escape to as I so wish there was, but we do have rolling hills and forests teeming with life and color.  And we have the very same glowing ball of orange that rises in the morning and sets in the evening.  It is in these sunrises and sunsets that my hope resides.

Since I have been trying to learn new coping mechanisms to replace eating (and being an overall depressive, lazy waste of space), I spend more time enjoying nature than I used to.  When I gaze at the pink dusky sky, I think about how if I had to choose between eating whatever I want and never seeing a sunset again, I would of course choose my sunsets.  Tonight I found myself thinking about how if I could just keep that glowing ball of orange within my range of vision all day, it would help me stay focused and grounded and I wouldn't "stray" toward bad habits like emotional eating.  

This seems like crazy stuff to think about.  I guess I'm just trying to hone in on how much I appreciate beauty in nature and use that to cope with my emotions instead of eating to avoid feeling (which I now realize I have been doing).  I figure I gotta learn how to just let the emotions burn until they burn out.  And maybe it would ease the discomfort of that to put myself in a place where I can feel in tune with nature and the Universe.  

I'm trying to think a lot about why I eat and pay attention to any cues or triggers that may exist.  This is hard to do.  It's hard to see the raw, unedited version of my own emotions and how I react to them, because even to myself I'm constantly trying to justify what I do, or to gloss it over.  It is hard for me to see myself reaching for a bite of food as a direct result of an emotion.  But for the first time I did consciously notice myself do this last night.  I was sitting here at the computer and had half a Subway sandwich leftover that I'd wrapped back up but had not put in the fridge yet.  I was then creeping around on Facebook and saw something that made me feel emotionally uncomfortable, having to do with an ex and jealous feelings.  I immediately reached for the sandwich and began to unwrap it.  Within seconds I would have started taking bites without even paying attention to what I was doing.  But this time, for some reason, I was able to realize that the reaching for the food occurred directly after the start of an uncomfortable emotion.  That's big progress for me.  

As a child I was always the kind of student that needed to understand the "why" of everything.  I distinctly remember feeling very frustrated with my 7th grade mathematics teacher because when I asked her to explain why a certain formula worked, she told me there was no explanation and for me to just memorize it because it worked.  That was never good enough for me and inhibited my ability to learn math while in her class.  I am no different now.  I used to feel very frustrated with religion because I could not understand the "how"s and "why"s of Jesus rising from the dead, the existence of a Heaven and a Hell, or God letting bad stuff happen.  Atheism for me was a coming of age, an enlightening period in my life, realizing how much more sense things made to me when I sought out truth and understanding instead of instruction.  I believe with regard to my issues with weight, food, and self-esteem in general, understanding why things are the way they are for me is crucial in understanding how to change.

I need to start setting concrete goals and meeting them on a weekly basis, but I want to be reasonable with what I set so I won't guarantee failure.  Tiny successes are still successes and they build my confidence.  There is no rush here.  Slow and steady will win this race.  

I haven't been as motivated this week; still feel focused on my goals, and been very mindful all week of what I'm eating and why I'm eating it, but I've lost a bit of steam from the week before, when I exercised more and cooked more.  This weekend I need to put my ducks back in their nice little row and reignite that enthusiasm.

Below are some snippets from my day; a picture of tonight's breathtaking West Virginia sunset, and a quote I saw in my Facebook news feed that resonated with me.

As soon as you trust yourself, 
you will know how to live
 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Weekends and other challenges.

So, time to confess my weekend sins.  It's actually Tuesday now but I still I feel I need to commit some stuff to this blog before I bury it into my repressed memory bank lol.

So, a lot of stuff has happened since the last time I wrote.  I don't feel very focused at the moment, so this won't be the most composed or well-written entry I ever make.  However, I do feel it is necessary to write, as it's been several days since I posted anything.  This blog keeps my goals fresh in my mind and heart but only if I use it consistently.

Friday night: went to Shamrock's, a little pub in Huntington, WV.  I had only been there one prior time, but knew I liked it.  I went this particular evening to check out two bands which are comprised of friends of mine.  Anyway, to make a long story short, I had a great time there.  Lots of good people and music and booze.  Yeah, I said booze.  So there's challenge number one of the weekend.  And honestly I paid zero mind to calorie content or anything else while I chugged away.  I think I drank about two pitchers' worth or so of draft PBR.  The last thing on my mind was my diet.

And maybe not in general, but for that particular evening, I'm okay with that.  I know I have talked in a previous blog about the importance of learning how to say "no" to social events so that I have the time and focus to meet my goals, but I think it may also be important to say "yes" once in awhile.  Friday night was a good choice for a "yes".  I had a wonderful time and it really made me feel good inside.  I think this in small doses is good for my self-esteem and overall feeling of contentment, because regardless of how hermit-like living on the farm in Milton by myself has made me, at the end of the day I am a social person.  It's good for me to be around smiling people who are happy to have me around.

In moderation, of course.  Too much of it and I end up doing what I did later that Friday night, which was stop drunkenly at Taco Bell and shovel a burrito and a taco into my pie hole without even so much as a single thought about my health.  In fact it did not even occur to me until the next morning that I had committed this cheesy, spicy sin, lol.

But here's where I have something good to report.  Although I did not make choices on Saturday and Sunday that were as healthy as I would have preferred, I did show restraint and control throughout the remainder of the weekend and since.  I ate reasonable portions at each meal and I did not throw caution to the wind and eat whatever I wanted because I had already screwed up Friday, as I normally would have done in the past.  So this to me is definitely a big step in the right direction.  In my mind I picture a stick that represents the habit of throwing my diet out the window for days (weeks? months?) each time I eat something "bad", and then I picture myself snapping it in two.  Habit-busting.  This weekend, I busted the habit of completely demolishing any chances of eating like a normal, healthy person just because of one mistake.  I stayed in control of myself.  Knowing I have the ability to conquer my own thinking and do this is a milestone for me.

I must also confess, however, that I didn't get much exercise this weekend.  I did take my dog out on a nice walk Sunday evening, but it wasn't fast paced and I didn't break a sweat.  And I didn't exercise yesterday.

Not that excuses are worth anything, but in my defense, something pretty upsetting happened on Sunday night.  An old friend, a girl who was my best friend for many years growing up, but with whom I had somewhat of a falling out a few years ago, suddenly started having bad headaches and ended up in ICU late Sunday night with fluid around her brain or something like that.  She had a massive seizure, her heart stopped at one point for several seconds, and I honestly did not know if she was going to survive.  I felt a wide spectrum of feelings about this and so I did not sleep hardly at all on Sunday night.  So, yesterday I was exhausted.  No exercise, no real effort to eat healthy, but I did not go overboard and didn't snack on anything bad.

My old friend is doing a little better today, and I had a talk with her girlfriend and have resolved to write her a letter once she gets a bit better and settled back in at home (she's currently still staying at the hospital).  So those feelings are a bit calmer now, and I know I need to get myself re-committed to my goals.  I have been monitoring my weight and it actually went down 0.8 today, but I know I need to not weigh myself daily.  I'm going to start doing it once a week on Sunday morning and see how that works out for me.

Another notable event from this weekend was a (productive) fight with my mother on Sunday.  It started out awful, but I believe progress was made by the end of it.  This is a rare feeling as far as fights with my mother go.  Basically, my mother and I have had tension my entire life on one particular subject: I feel that she doesn't accept me for who I am.  As a teenager, it was about things like dying my hair pink or getting some random body part pierced.  As an adult, it's about things like not believing in God or saying abrasive things in my Facebook status, or feeling like a misfit in West Virginia and wishing I was in California.  When I arrived at my mother's house on Sunday, she made a comment about how she noticed I had blocked her from viewing my Facebook wall and she'd been waiting on me to remove the block or mention it.  I told her the block was not being removed and that she asked for it by telling my I looked "trashy and uneducated" after reading a status update of mine she didn't like about a week ago (it had the word "fuck" in it).  At first she started making vague implications about how she may retract offers she'd extended of financial help (offers, mind you--I never asked for anything) if I don't remove the block.  However, removing the block means conforming to her idea of who I should be because unless I have her blocked, there is going to be repeated drama every time I write something she doesn't like.

This is where it gets important: for the first time in my life, I stood up to her completely and totally.  I told her I was drawing a line in the sand, that if she wants to have me in her life she needs to learn how to tolerate the parts of me that she doesn't like.  That I would rather be poor and live in a cardboard box than sell out who I am for financial assistance from her or anyone else.  That I'm 29 years old, independent, have gainful employment, and don't need anyone's help.  That I have moved to California once on my own and will not hesitate to do so again tomorrow if she wants to press this issue.  I told her I moved back to WV primarily to support my family and that I felt severe feelings of resentment each and every time we had this argument.  So the choice is hers; accept me and learn to bite her tongue when she feels like telling me something I do is trashy and uneducated, or watch me shrink into the distance as I go back to California and sever my relationship with her.  It's my mother, and I certainly don't want to cut ties with her.  But she has got to learn how to treat me like an adult, and with respect for who I am and my choices, or else the relationship isn't doing either of us any favors.  My self-esteem is too fragile, and it's too important for me to strengthen it.  Nothing else comes before that, not even my mother.  I think once she realized I was serious, she was willing to give a little.

I also made it clear that at some point once I get my ducks in a row, I am going back to California.  I told her I'm a misfit here and always will be and I want to go back to my home on the west coast.  She did not have a coronary.  So I felt good about the argument by the end of it, for one of the first times in my life.  Maybe the first time ever, with her.

I noticed this once before with Jon recently, as well: I can't believe how much more respect I get for speaking my mind loud and clearly, even when I'm saying something that the other person may not want to hear.  I said some pretty harshly honest things to Jon during our last big talk, and I honestly feel like I gained respect for it, even though the only reason I'd refrained from speaking my mind for so long was precisely because I was terrified that I'd push him away or lose his friendship.  And again with my mother, I refrained from speaking my mind because I didn't want to create even more drama with her, piss her off worse, make things more difficult for both of us.  Actually though she seemed to respect me for standing firm and not budging.

This is an amazing lesson to learn.  It's helping me feel more confident in saying what I really think and in standing up for what I want for myself and what I feel I deserve.

I want to write a blog soon about 30-day challenges.  I saw a TED talk on this recently, and it's both a good way to try something new, as well as to break old habits.  A few 30-day challenges I'm interested in trying are: wear makeup every day, eat 5 helpings of vegetables every day, go without Facebook, exercise for 30 minutes, take a picture of something I enjoy other than food, etc.  If you have any ideas for challenges, let's hear em.

Someone said something to me recently that has resonated in my mind.  On the subject of feeling hopeless or lacking confidence that I will meet my goals, this friend told me that he believes I will meet my goals because I'm different than most people.  I scoffed at this and asked him how am I different?  He said: you keep trying. You never give up.  This made me feel good and renewed my confidence in myself just a little bit.  That's right, I'm not giving up! If I fail 99 times just so I can succeed the 100th then it was all worth it.

Thanks for reading.  There are only a select few of you that have access to this blog and I love and appreciate each one of you so much for caring enough about me to follow me on the Road to Well.


Friday, August 12, 2011

The difference 8 days can make.

8 days seems like such a tiny, insignificant amount of time when compared to the years upon years I have spent feeling angst-ridden, lost, hopeless, overwhelmed, and most often, numb.  And while I know the Road to Well still stretches out far into the distance before me, these 8 days have brought with them many good changes already, mostly having to do with how I feel inside.

First and most importantly, I don't feel hopeless.  I also don't feel overwhelmed anymore.  It's amazing how things can get so bad that even an optimistic, generally happy person like me can become so beaten down and depressed, so consumed with my own feelings of failure and grief, that digging out of that hole seems impossible. With each failed attempt to get myself well, the notion that I will never be vibrant again becomes more cemented in my mind.  These reinforced feelings are very hard to overcome.  (There is a lot of science behind why we repeat bad behaviors over and over without much ability to refrain or change direction, and there's also helpful science on how to turn things around--I have been doing research, discovered some fascinating information, and will be writing a dedicated blog on that soon.)  

So, what has changed in these 8 days to give me so much renewed hope and energy?  Several things.

1. Honesty
Making the decision to be brutally honest with myself, to stop wading in self-delusion, and to commit those truths to this blog so they can't be hidden again was absolutely monumental for me.  It's funny, the way life works; I have faced so many fears in the past few years, and I know as well as anyone that when you step out of your comfort zone, you often find it's not nearly as uncomfortable as you expected it to be.  For example, I never in a million years dreamed that I would, at age 25, move to California completely by myself. But I did.  And it was the most incredible and gratifying experience of my life.  Hell, I am more proud of that than I am of my college degree.  And every aspect of that move, from leaving my family and friends behind in West Virginia, to acquiring employment in California, to sharing a house with strangers from whom I rented a room, to going out places downtown by myself to make new friends, to navigating through San Francisco--it all taught me how to be independent, confident, and comfortable alone.  So while many of my fears in life had already been faced, I began this blog by facing the worst fear of all: looking deep within myself and acknowledging everything I saw.  And just like California, I discovered that fear grows in the dark, and shrinks in the light.  :)

2. Learning
Aside from everything I have learned about myself during this period of intense honesty, I have also learned a lot about health.  I'm studying everything I can get my hands on that has to do with how to retrain your brain to think more positively, to stop resorting over and over to unhealthy behaviors, and how to quiet my mind so I can stay focused on my goals better.  There's a lot to learn about self-esteem and spirituality, as well.  For years, ever since I left Ohio and my abusive ex-fiance behind, I have felt that I could benefit greatly from some type of counseling or therapy.  However, since along with Ohio I left behind the last job I ever had that offered good medical insurance, I have not had the financial means to seek a therapist.  So for nearly four years I have wished I could go to therapy, knowing how fucked up I am, and feeling desperate for help, but having no idea where to turn.  I don't feel hopeless about that anymore.  Thanks to the guidance of some very close friends, I have begun to understand enough about what is going on inside of me to know where to look for additional resources.  So, I feel like I'm in therapy now even though I'm not spending thousands on a psychiatrist.  That coupled with what I have learned and will continue to learn about the basic science of how my brain works and what I can do to get it to work in my favor is a recipe for success.

3. Mindfulness
For the first time in my life I have had success at forcing myself to stop and think through what I am doing, and thinking about, before proceeding down whatever path I start on.  Yes, I still have lots of self-loathing thoughts but I am getting a lot better at batting them away as soon as they approach, whereas before I would dwell on them, because I did not believe it was possible for me to learn how to think any other way, so I didn't bother trying.  Ever.  I know it sounds ridiculous but I guess that just illustrates how rock bottom I have been.  Now that I have made an honest effort to reign in my mind and control my focus, I feel very happy to report that it can be done.  And much like a muscle, it just takes repetition and practice to strengthen this ability.

4. Alternative rewards
Food, for me, is a reward.  This ties into the emotional eating blog I wrote earlier in the week: the human brain  operates based on a system of rewards for completing tasks that are exhausting or not enjoyable.  (I will get into this in a lot more detail in another blog--fascinating stuff, so don't miss it.)  For me, food is usually the reward I choose, but this week I have made a huge effort to reward myself in other ways, like taking a stroll at sunset with my dog, enjoying spending time in nature, giving myself a pedicure, writing, etc.  Soon I will be signing up for a pottery class as well, which I'm very excited about.  The key here is to give myself plenty of things that I enjoy that make me happy--and guess what starts to happen?  The cravings for food cease as the brain starts to feel rewarded by activities other than eating.  Meditation is a big reward for me.  I could not begin to describe to you how calm, in control, and at peace I feel after I meditate.  There is nothing more refreshing in this Universe.

5. Exercise
Although this is last on my list for today's blog, it's certainly not least.  I have exercised every day so far except for Wednesday this week, and I can already feel my body building endurance.  My energy levels have also increased, my breathing is easier with each session (I have asthma so breathing is always a concern), and soon I will be ready to start transitioning into a harder and more disciplined regimen.