bookmark_border5 Ways to Find a Little Peace When Things Get Crazy

Healthy for the Holidays

Well, here we are–right in the thick of one of the most stressful weeks of the entire holiday season–CHRISTMAS WEEK! With only 2 days left until Christmas, no doubt most of us are running around like a bunch of crazy people shopping, baking, cleaning, and traveling. We’re worried about everyone and everything except the most important person–ourselves.

It’s more important now than ever to remember to take care of yourself. When things get too crazy or you feel like you’re losing your mind and you just want to get away, take a few minutes to calm and center yourself.  Here are five ways to help you find a little peace in the midst of all the crazy this week.
 1. Take a brief walk and clear your head. If the walls are closing in and you just can’t take it anymore, excuse yourself and go for a walk. Five, ten minutes is enough to clear your mind and regroup; you’ll feel energized and ready to keep going! Try not to focus on anything that will make you more mad or anxious… instead, just clear your mind completely and practice some deep breathing. This walk is for your mental health, not physical exercise, so take it as slow as you need!
2. Meditate. Before I started going to therapy, I thought meditation was just some new-agey, hippie-dippie stuff. I was super skeptical when my therapist suggested it, but I figured “what the heck?” and went with it–and I’m so glad I did! I’ve mentioned meditation a couple of times on the blog (here and here). All you need a minute or 2, and just close your eyes and breathe deep, focusing on the sound of your breath; it doesn’t take much to feel centered and present again.
3. Pray. This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with meditation. I know it seems like a no-brainer, but when things are hectic and you’re feeling anxious, give it to God. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed on the way to pick up the kids after I get off work just for patience, and peace, and for help maintaining my cool with them until they’re in bed. God grants me that peace every time I ask.
4. Take a coffee (or tea!) break. If you’re out and about shopping, or traveling a long distance, don’t forget to stop and get a coffee! Sit down for 10 minutes and enjoy it before you get back to it. DO IT, I’M NOT JOKING!!
5. Give yourself a nightly cutoff time and spend 30 minutes doing something just for you. Instead of cooking and cleaning and wrapping gifts until you collapse into bed, promise yourself (or set an alarm) that you’ll stop at a specific time, and allow yourself 30 minutes to take a bath, read, crochet–whatever you enjoy–before getting into bed. You’ll feel better and have a much better sleep as well.
To help you unwind and relax a little this week, Alissa and I are giving away a $25 gift card for Starbucks. Enter using the Rafflecopter below, and be sure to visit A Journey to Thin and comment on her post as well!

How do you plan to relax and be more present when things get crazy and hectic?

bookmark_borderWeigh in (12/19) + Christmas Travel

Wow, this Monday totally flew right by! Actually, the whole weekend seemed like it was over before it even started! Sorry to be posting so late, but I’m just glad I remembered 😉

Saturday’s weigh in…

Not bad! I basically lost what I gained last week, but it’s a loss, nonetheless. I know I can still lose 2.8 lbs by January to make my 50 pounds lost goal… though considering this is Christmas week, I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t quite make it.

Saturday’s WW meeting was good; lots of people are feeling the same about the new program as I am… we know it’s good for us in the long run, but it’s a lot of changes to have to make which leaves us feeling a little unsure about it all.

I’m feeling really good about kicking this frappuccino habit; there’s a good coffee place next to my WW meeting center, and usually after the meetings I go there and get a mochassippi (their frappe-type drink). On Saturday, I still went, but I got hot tea instead! I’m enjoying trying all different flavors; currently, I’m drinking a tea that’s supposed to taste like a sugar cookie… and believe it or not, it actually does!

Just making little changes each week will go a long way to helping me adjust to the new program. I’m definitely thinking twice now before I grab another cookie or piece of chocolate, and I feel better in general–probably because I’m not ingesting nearly as much sugar as I was!

On Sunday, we had an early Christmas–meaning we opened the gifts that already arrived at our house since we’re going to Texas (Marc’s parents) Tues-Sunday. Later, went caroling at the kids’ school. It was fun! We all sang for about 30 minutes, then they served us dinner and dessert–all the free food is definitely one of my favorite things about Catholic school (just kidding…or am I?)

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Early Christmas… bikes, stockings (I couldn’t find the stockings
with their names on them!), and a few gifts from my oldest brother’s family.
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Karinne and I at the school caroling party
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They called all the kids up to the front to help sing “Rudolph…”
and Karinne wouldn’t go up by herself 😉 She sang it with her class on Friday, so
she knows it really well!

Tomorrow, Marc and I both are just working half days at work, then picking up the kids and getting on the road to Texas as soon as humanly possible. Marc and I will come back on Sunday, and the kids will stay with their grandparents until New Years Day, when they’ll meet us halfway to give them back. Hopefully the trip won’t take more than 7 hours tomorrow, but you never know with kids!

How was your weekend? Any plans this week?

bookmark_borderReflection after 1 week of “Beyond the Scale”

Well, here I am, Day 7 of Weight Watchers’ new program, “Beyond the Scale.” (Read about my initial reaction here.) I’m still not entirely certain how I feel about it–it’ll probably take a couple more weeks for me to decide whether I love it or hate it.

In any case, here are a few observations I’ve made regarding tracking SmartPoints, calories in My Fitness Pal, and my habits.

I still can’t believe that a tall Frappuccino is 18 points. Really not worth it! However, get it without the whipped cream, and it’s “only” 13 points. I feel like that’s more reasonable, and I can handle that; I could really take or leave the whipped cream anyway. Now, a tall Mocha Frappuccino Light is only 6 points–still double from its PointsPlus value, but definitely easier to fit into my diet. Now, that being said, I actually went 2 days this week without a Frap… talk about progress! And I didn’t die 🙂

I enjoy drinking hot tea. I’m not a fan of black teas, or most green teas, but give me some fruity, flowery, or pepperminty tea and I’m down. I still went to Starbucks on the days I didn’t get fraps, but I just drank hot tea instead. They have one called Peach Tranquility that’s just the bees knees. Drinking more tea also helps with the water intake, so it’s a win-win!

Be sure to calculate recipes on the WW website AND in MFP. Since I track in both MFP and WW, I was calculating recipes in MFP, then just entering the nutrition facts into my SmartPoints calculator to get the points–well, it dawned on me today that veggies are 0 points in WW, so I need to actually enter the recipes into both apps! Turns out that my 6sp mushroom soup is only 5, and my honey garlic chicken went from 12sp to 10! This is great news, because I wasn’t pleased with the high points values of some of my recipes.

I still have a hard time with the “I already blew it, so may as well go all out” mentality. Not as bad as it once was, but it’s still there. Since I promptly went into negative weekly points my first 2 days on the new program, it’s been difficult to quiet those voices. However, I am fighting them, and the longer I fight them, the easier it becomes. I feel much better today than I did Monday morning 🙂

So, there you have it–my Day 7 take on Beyond the Scale. Now, I’m still having a real hard time staying with in my points; I’ve gone over, way over, pretty much every day this week. However, I’m still learning and tweaking and it’s a process that’s going to take a little time.
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I also wanted to share a couple of good things that happened this week:

I chatted with an old friend. We worked together at my old job in Birmingham, and we’ve managed to keep in touch over the years. She reads the blog and we’re friends on My Fitness Pal, so she knows I’ve been struggling a bit with the WW change–she texted me to see how I was doing, and was so encouraging and uplifting–after our conversation, I felt much better about actually being able to make some of the harder changes that I know need to be made.

I received a very special Christmas gift. My dad and stepmom sent me a Fitbit for Christmas! It’s the first gift I’ve received from them in a very long time; I don’t talk about it much on here, but our relationship is somewhat strained and we don’t speak very often. Last week, I was chatting with my stepmom on FB–she was letting me know to expect a package for the kids–and she was telling me how she and my dad both got Fitbits. I told her I needed to get one, and then we could connect and have competitions and stuff. Well, one showed up on my doorstep yesterday! Just know that it’s one of the most meaningful gifts I’ve ever received–not because it’s a Fitbit, but just for what it represents about our relationship. I literally can’t stop smiling about it. It’s a Christmas miracle!

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Sorry for the cheesy photo, but I couldn’t help myself. Looking at my wrists now remind me of both of my parents; my dad on the left, and on the right, the tattoo I got to remind me of my mom after she died . Though she was Christian, her family was Jewish; it says “believe” in Hebrew.

 

Don’t forget to enter our Healthy for the Holidays giveaway this week for a $25 giftcard to Target or Walmart–check out this post to enter!

bookmark_borderOn the concept of being “enough”

Enough.

Just one tiny word with six little letters, yet it carries so. much. weight.

It started out innocently enough (haha, see what I did there?). When we were younger, sometimes we weren’t old enough, or tall enough, or hungry enough. 

As we age, though, something changes and that tiny little word takes on a whole new meaning. Suddenly, we wake up and we’re not pretty enough, or thin enough, or smart enough, or funny enough, or dareIsayit good enough.

But, here’s the thing–what does that even mean? What does it mean to be _______ enough? Where is this magic scale that supposedly tells us how we compare to the rest of humanity? What is the determining factor? Surely, there must be a Council of Enough that rates every person starting from the moment they are born. Let’s see, Baby Johnson, you are a 7 and we hereby decree that you are enough. Unfortunately for you, Baby Smith, you are a 5 and therefore you are not enough.

This is ludicrous. Obviously, there is no “Council of Enough,” but there might as well be. Somewhere along the way, in my 30 years on this earth, I decided that I was not worthy of happiness and joy and living my life, all because I just wasn’t ____ enough. If only was thinner/funnier/smarter/more outgoingthen everybody would love me and I would be happier. What a big fat lie. I am a liar who has been lying to herself for decades.

My self-worth does not depend on the opinion of others. Did you hear that? Here, let me repeat it.

My self-worth does not depend on the opinion of others
 
So here’s what I’ve realized over the last week or so. I am enough. Yeah, I said it. I am ENOUGH.
 
I am who I am, and it’s okay that everybody doesn’t love me. It’s okay that not everybody wants to be friends with me. Because–and I’m not sure if you heard me the first time I said this–I am good enough.

bookmark_borderA Retraction

This post has been a long time coming. It’s been weighing on my mind for several weeks now, but I just haven’t had the courage to write it. I kept waiting for something to change, but nothing has changed and it’s time to admit the truth.
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Here goes nothing…
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This year’s Mocha Coconut Frappuccino at Starbucks is disgusting. 

There. It’s done, I said it, it’s out. My beloved drink that I have raved about, that I was so excited about, is horrible. I don’t know what Starbucks did to their coconut syrup, or why they thought they needed to change it, but it’s so medicinal, so artificial tasting–I kept ordering the drink different ways, with fewer and fewer pumps of coconut, but even with just one pump it’s overpowering and gross.

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Not cool, Starbucks. Not cool.

Love, One (of many) Very Unhappy Customer

bookmark_borderWeigh In Wednesday

Since I haven’t gotten around to posting my weigh in yet from Saturday, I thought I’d link up with Winter at No Drama Little Mama for Weigh In Wednesday!

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If you recall, I was certain that it was NOT going to be good… but hey, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting! 0.4 is hardly anything. So, a gain, yes, but not the 2-3 pounds I was preparing myself for.

I bought a notebook a while back to write down blog ideas and jot down notes, and while at Starbucks Sunday afternoon I started composing some blog posts in it. I’d forgotten how much easier the words flow when I hand-write things prior to typing them. (Fun fact: in college, I’d hand-write my papers–even term papers–and then type them out!) I also mapped out some entries to write about Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God.

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Since I finished reading Women, Food, and God, I wanted to first touch on the “Eating Guidelines” that are listed in the back of the book. One of my first introductions to Geneen Roth was her list of Eating Guidelines, which pertain to eating mindfully. My therapist introduced them to me after our second or third session; they’re not a rigid set of rules, but rather, well, guidelines–suggestions–on how to eat more mindfully and in the moment. You’ve probably heard some of these ideas before, but I appreciate it all in one nice list.

I’ve posted about my computer monitor mantras before; well, it just so happens that I also have the Eating Guidelines taped to the base of my monitor. For the record, I know that I have gotten away from a lot of them, and it’s no doubt contributed to my struggles as of late.

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  • Eat when you are hungry.
  • Eat sitting down in a calm environment – does not include the car!
  • Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, tv, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
  • Eat what your body wants.
  • Eat until you are satisfied.
  • Eat with the intention of being in full view of others.
  • Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure!
Seems simple enough, right? Well, not if you’ve never (or it’s been a long time) actually paid attention to whether you are actually hungry! Saturday’s meeting topic at Weight Watchers was “(Emotional) Hunger Games” and we discussed how to decipher whether you are truly hungry. It was a really great meeting (as so many this year have been) and extremely helpful.
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This is why I love Weight Watchers–they finally get it! We also came up with a list of things to do when the urge to eat/binge hits but we’re not actually physically hungry. For example, go for a walk, paint your nails, journal, call a friend… basically, anything to distract yourself until the urge passes.
We also practiced a meditation exercise to help us deal with whatever feelings are causing us to want to binge, similar to something I learned in therapy–I’ll share the therapy meditation so I don’t give away all of WW’s secrets!

Sit down and close your eyes, and imagine putting that feeling, that emotion, on a boat. Now push the boat out into the water and watch it sail away, out into the open sea. Listen to the sound of the waves lapping up onto the shore as the boat disappears into the distance. Once the boat has disappeared completely, open your eyes. You should feel better, and (hopefully) the urge has passed. 

I have high hopes for this week, and I am going to refocus my attention on practicing the Eating Guidelines.

bookmark_borderMental Health Monday: Fake it ’til you make it

Every 1st and 3rd Monday either Liz or Stephanie will host a link up for others to share their experiences with mental illness – either from their own experience or from the experience of helping and walking with others.  Our goal is to reach out to the world and let people know that they are not alone in their struggles.  You are never alone.  Join us – link up, visit new blogs, support others.

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When you struggle with depression, there’s a lot of “faking it” in the digging yourself out of the deepest darkest hole recovery process.

It’s not like you wake up one day and suddenly feel 100% “normal” (what’s that feel like again?). It’s more like you keep forcing yourself to go through the motions until one day, you don’t have to force yourself anymore.

When you are at a particularly low point, you don’t want to do anything; I mean, NOTHING. It’s not merely, “Oh, I feel super lazy today.”. It’s literally, “Oh God, my body feels like it’s filled with lead and there’s absolutely no possible way I can get up and do anything today.”

Faking it is getting out of bed anyway.

Faking it is getting out of your pajamas and putting on regular clothes (shower optional).

Faking it is brushing your hair and putting on makeup (if you normally wear it on a good day).

Faking it is remembering just one thing that you enjoy and doing it, even when it’s the absolute last thing you want to do.

Faking it is turning a nothing day into a something day.

(Andie at Can You Stay For Dinner? wrote an excellent post about ‘nothing days’; I mentioned it on Friday, but wanted to link it again for those of you who are not regular readers.)

When you fake it long enough, you will start to believe it and you will be able to drag yourself up from the hole you’ve been in.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Whatever. I’ve been faking it for as long as I can remember, and I’m still miserable,” dig deeper.

Remember how much you loved turning your music up as loud as you could stand and singing your heart out?

Remember how you used to love going to a coffee shop with a good book and reading for hours on end?

What about when you would go on a solo hike on a trail at the park?

Remember just one thing you know you truly enjoyed, one thing that never failed to make your heart happy, and do it, just for you. Make the time. Be a little selfish.

You deserve it.

bookmark_borderFriday Thoughts (8/14)

  • I went to Parent Orientation at the kids’ new school today. Karinne is starting PreK4, and Ryan will be in PreK2. It’s a Catholic school, and I’m really looking forward to it; I grew up going to small Christian schools, and the relationships you form with the teachers is amazing. The smaller class sizes definitely help. Plus, their uniforms are adorable! Their first day is Tuesday–half the class goes for half a day so the teachers can better orient the students, and their first full day is Wednesday.
  • I had a fun NSV this week–My driver’s license weight was at 175 for a looooong time, until I finally upped it to 250 a couple of years ago. Well, as I was pulling out my DL for something earlier this week, I realized something–I weigh LESS than my driver’s license weight!!! That’s crazy! Also, I love this post by Jessica at A Little More Each Day on Unusual Weight Loss Milestones. There are so many little things that happen as you lose weight that I didn’t even think about! PicCollage (9)
    • It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling this week. I read this post by Andie at Can You Stay for Dinner? (one of the blogs that led me to seek help for my disordered eating) on eliminating “nothing days”–a “nothing day” is a day when you accomplish nothing positive (i.e. laying in bed all day binging on Netflix and Doritos). When you’re stuck in the loop of depression and binge eating, it feels nearly impossible to break out of the cycle; but if you muster the energy to accomplish just ONE thing good, one thing to help your situation (such as taking a shower or going for a walk), eventually you’ll string together enough “something days” to break out of the loop. I like it. I like it a lot.
    P.S. At the parent orientation today, I fell off a 2-inch step and really hurt my ankle. I can put weight on it, but it really hurts! I also skinned my knee. No one saw me (thank GOD), but I still felt like a fool!

bookmark_borderBelated Weigh in (8/8) + Stress

It occurred to me a few days ago that I never posted my weigh-in from last week. (Scroll to the bottom if you don’t care to read about the rest of my week.)

It’s been a crazy, hectic, stressful week and I’ve had zero blogging energy. Having one car for a while meant that we were constantly running back and forth, shuffling plans and children around just to accommodate our needs. The kids were not in daycare this week because we thought we would find enough sitters in the area to help us out, but it didn’t happen; Marc has 4 aunts in town who don’t work, and we’d sent out an email a while ago asking if they could each help us out for one day. We got one response, and have been left scrambling to take care of children for the other days. Fortunately, Marc has some flexibility in his work schedule so it worked out–Marc’s grandparents even helped out for a few hours yesterday–but stressful, nonetheless (and a little disappointing that no one else could help us out.)

We also had all the car drama, which finally led to us taking out a car loan (ugh) and getting a 2007 Honda CR-V. CR-V’s are good cars, so we knew we wanted this one before we even looked at it; but when we saw it, it was a MESS. The dealer must have just gotten it because it was absolutely filthy on the inside; the windshield was cracked, one of the door lock buttons on the door didn’t work, and the A/C wasn’t very cold. I negotiated with the sales man while Marc herded our children; I told him either give it to me for a significant discount, or fix all the issues. After a somewhat heated exchange, he agreed to get all the issues fixed. I went back the next day (Tuesday) to pick it up, and it was about as perfect as an 8-year-old car can get (except the windshield guy’s coming to my office on Monday to replace the windshield).

So I’m driving around on Wednesday afternoon, and after about 5 minutes the A/C is still showing no sign of getting cold. In fact, it’s blowing straight up HOT air. It finally got cold when I was driving on the interstate, but every time I slowed down or stopped, it would get warm again. Not fun in this heat! So I called my sales man and asked if he could help me out, even though I did buy it “as is.” Fortunately, they said they’d take care of it AND give me a loaner car so I wouldn’t have to be further inconvenienced (the dealer’s about 25 minutes from our house, on the Westbank, and we have to drive through downtown New Orleans to get there, so it’s a pain to have to go there repeatedly). I drove the car back to the dealer this morning at 7am and got the loaner (a brand new trendy little thing), so hopefully it will be ready today–Marc’s going to have to drive the children to me, take the loaner to the dealer and pick up our car, and then go to work. Logistics!

Marc also took our other car (with the broken A/C) to a shop to see how much it would cost to actually fix it, and unfortunately it’s a $700 fix… so, we will continue with no A/C in that vehicle. Not worth it for a 16-year-old car that’s probably on its last leg anyway. (We still had to pay $140 to find that out, though!)

The money part’s been somewhat stressful; I hate that we had to take out a car loan, but we didn’t really see any other options. Marc’s parents are angels though, and called and said they wanted to advance us our Christmas money for 2015 and 2016 to help us out. With that money, we were able to fully fund our $1000 emergency fund, have enough for a small down payment on the new car, and do some other things that we’d been ignoring due to finances. Now we just have to remember that we’re not getting the money at Christmas this year and next 😀

Adding to craziness has been picking up the van from across town and paying $100 for that, and a “Smooth Start” session for the kids’ school where we got info on things like parent committees and fundraisers and the lunch program, etc (and dropping another $55).  Friday, I’m going to the kids’ orientation (alone, since we have no one else to stay with the kids so we both can go), and this weekend I have to run around like a crazy person and hopefully find the rest of their school supplies. School starts Tuesday!
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So, how’s all of this been affecting my health?

Well, I wrote the post that I’ve been coping, not binging… and that’s still the case… BUT I haven’t been making the best choices either. It seems every day there’s something that throws me off. It just gets tiring, always having to be “on guard” and watching every little thing I put in my mouth. I’ve been craving fried chicken for forever, and I finally indulged last Saturday… and you’d better believe I ate the skin! It was soooo yummy. I ate fast food on Sunday and either Monday or Tuesday (and I did not make healthy choices), and Wednesday was a cookie baking contest at work and everyone’s cookies were amazing. The cookies are still here today, but I only had 1 each of my top 3 favorites (there were 9 different kinds!).

I went for a great run on Sunday, but I’ve had NO time to work out any other days this week, and it’s seriously making me cranky. Okay, so I probably could have worked out at 9:00 at night a few nights, but I’ve just been wanting to sleep. I just feel so blah. Last night, I really wanted to binge… on anything… but I also knew that I didn’t want to–so I got up and went to bed. I felt like that was a small victory, during this week that just has me feeling slightly battered and bruised.

So at last week’s weigh-in, I was up 1.6–expected, but still disappointing. This week I know is going to be a gain, but ya know, it’s a well-deserved one. It’s time for a good old fashioned kick in the pants! I have to stop wallowing acknowledge that I’m feeling stressed and saddened by the lack of local familial support, and that it’s okay to have these feelings! I also have to change how I handle those feelings; I know that exercise helps me cope with the stress, so it’s important for me to carve out the time to do it.

As a side note, I finally finished Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God last night. There’s a lot to process, and I need to go back through it and read over everything I underlined (which is probably 75% of the book) but I really want to write a good post about it soon. Something on one of the last pages really struck a chord with me; even though it’s something that we (in the healthy blog world) say all the time, I love the way she said it:

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bookmark_borderLove Your Body Tuesday: Feet

Welcome to another installment of Love Your Body Tuesday!

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So, let’s talk about feet. I felt like a somewhat easy part after my complicated legs last week.

First of all, my feet are big. They were a size 11 wide for most of my life, but now they are a 12 after the birth of 2 children (I hope they go down a size when I lose the weight. Please?)

It’s not easy to buy shoes when you have feet like mine. Luckily, the Payless near me carries size 12 (in about half the styles of the other sizes), so all is not completely lost.

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I have my mother’s feet.

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There they are in all their glory, chipped polish and all. My big toes are different–the left one is similar to my thumbs, somewhat short and flat, and the right toe is more like a “normal” big toe, if there’s such a thing.

You may have noticed by now that I have tattoos on my right foot. I got them in 2010, about 2 years after my mom died. The sun was very much planned; my mom used to always sing “You Are My Sunshine”. I decided to add the writing while I was waiting to get my tattoo; I wish I hadn’t added the writing, but c’est la vie; it’s faded over time, I assume because of the shoes rubbing against it. Fortunately, it’s usually covered by my shoes.

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And yes, it hurt. A lot.

 

Okay, so… my feet are big, though at 5’9″, they are proportional to the rest of me. They keep me balanced and upright; if they were smaller, I’d probably fall over a lot more than I already do.

I like their uniqueness; not many woman have feet this big! I also like how they are a visual reminder of my weight loss; when I was closer to 300 pounds, they were always swollen and puffy. It was hard to fit into my shoes! Ever since I started losing weight, I can actually see the bones in my feet again and it’s much more comfortable. Anyone that has ever experienced swollen feet and ankles can attest to the discomfort!

So, how do you feel about your feet?