Just a note…

Also, my cheesy graphics will get better. I promise.
Also, my cheesy graphics will get better. I promise.

I’ve been quiet lately, which is funny because I actually have a half-dozen posts saved in my “drafts” folder here on the site. So I’ve been doing lots of brainstorming and lots of writing, but not so much posting. Kinda like life in general these days…. lots of ideas and planning, but not so much execution.

Until now.

Well, sort of.

I’m in the process of moving this website to a new host. And I’m completely clueless about building websites and such, so pray for me. But in order for me to move ahead with all the ideas I have brewing, I need to switch things up a bit. But don’t worry – the name will stay the same, and hopefully I can figure out how the heck to move all my content from here to there.

So, eventually, there will be a new look, a new feel, and some new content. Until then, I’ll just be here, beating my head against the wall, trying to learn new things in my spare time. (<– That’s funny, right there.)

*Please send wine*

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Back to School

BACK

Wait, wait, wait…. isn’t it still July?!?

Yes, yes it is. You haven’t lost a month, so don’t panic.

TKEP Academy is trying out year round schooling for 2016, so that means our six week summer break has officially ended, and the second semester has begun. Before you start thinking how horrible it is that the kids are getting ripped off on their summer, let me lay it out for you. First of all, we don’t really do much over the summer. Our budget is limited as we’re trying to pay off our debt, so we aren’t travelling or exploring or doing anything that would cost extra money. In essence, summer is just like the rest of the year here. At least, for now. Plus, within the next week or two, most kids start hitting the “I’m bored” phase of summer. Many parents begin counting down the days until school starts back up. We’re just nipping that in the bud right now. But mostly, we do this because we need the structure. Ok, ok, I need the structure. The girls had plenty of lazy summer days, spent time outside, read lots of books….. Now it’s time to settle back into a routine and get the house in order, for all of our sanity. Besides, this schedule will seem fabulous when we can take six weeks off between Thanksgiving and New Years!

So, yes, the girls have been easing back into school this week. And you know what? It’s been hard. Really hard. I’m not going to lie – they are quite unmotivated at the moment. I’d even say they are downright lazy about it right now. Unfortunately, they are just doing bare minimums to get the work done, which isn’t what I want our homeschool life to be. I want them to really enjoy learning, not just do what’s needed to get by. The dragging of the feet for every little thing is going to get old really fast.

Of course, then I wonder…. What should I be doing differently? What do we need to change? How can I fix this?

Right now, the answer is “nothing”. We’re midway through our first boxed curriculum for Peanut. This curriculum seems to work well for her, for the most part. The only “problem” is she’s moving into more advanced concepts. It’s not easy anymore, and so she isn’t wanting to do it. (That trait may be from me….. bugger) As for Pumpkin, she would be starting kindergarten this fall. We are doing math worksheets and handwriting practice, plus lots of out loud reading and playtime. We’re going through Hooked on Phonics with her, and she’s nearly half-way through the first grade lessons. We will get her started in first grade level work at the beginning of our next school year in January. Until then, I want her playing more than “schooling”.

We just need to find our groove again. Long breaks almost always lead to rocky restarts, and we are working out our kinks and finding our balance. As long as I can keep my head, and my patience, in check, I have no doubts that this semester will be just fine. Eventually.

Becoming a Better Me: 3 Months Later

Not gonna lie. I never thought I’d make it to three months into this whole process. In fact, I questioned whether I’d make it through the first 30 days. But, here I am! Stubbornness for the win!

As I mentioned previously, I took some “before” pictures of myself. I took those pictures on March 1st, because that’s when I was determined to make some changes for myself….. Fast forward to April 1st, and that’s when I actually initiated said changes. Better late than never, right?

Well, this morning, I had Hubby take some “after” pictures. I was kind of excited because I just knew the physical changes were awesome. Hubby couldn’t wait to see them side by side. He’s witness my progress and also knew the changes were pretty huge.

I wasn't going to post these for obvious reasons, but then figured some of you may ask. Clearly, the change has been staggering. #sarcasm
Clearly, the change has been staggering. #sarcasm

Except they weren’t. Obviously.

My ego was a bit put out by this. What the heck? I’ve been working my tail off for 3 months, changing my eating habits completely, exercising every flipping day, and there is very little noticeable difference?!?! I must different by now! I have muscles, for crying out loud! 

Then, in the middle of my ego-temper-tantrum, I remembered something. Something very important. I didn’t start this journey to look better. I started this journey to feel better. Looking better, should that happen, would just be a pleasant side effect.

After this realization, I thought about it. How do I feel after three months?

In a word? Amazing.

It took some time to get to this point. During the first four to six weeks, “amazing” was not at all what I was feeling. But something shifted between weeks six and eight, and then even more after that. I started to feel good, and then I started to feel great. I have more energy. I leave the house more often. I think more clearly with no more brain fog. I feel more confident in what I say and do, and just in myself in general. I look better to myself, even if it’s negligible in pictures. My clothes fit better. My skin is clearer. My eyes are brighter. I feel…. lighter. Many of the issues I started with have been resolved. For example, I did not get a hormonal migraine headache this month for the first time in probably two years. I’m sleeping better and actually wake feeling refreshed most of the time. Even better? My attitude is different. For the first time in a long time, I’m not pessimistic about everything. I went from a “yeah, but….” type of person to someone who sees a great future in front of me. I make better choices, whether it’s about what I’m going to eat or what I’m going to do or what I’m going to think about. I feel hopeful instead of constantly worried and overwhelmed. I am much less stressed, and events that typically would’ve caused me to meltdown no longer have that power. I feel more level-headed. Little things don’t bother me so much. I’m more even-tempered and less likely to either go off the deep end or throw a pity party for myself. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I hosted a pity party for myself!

It’s crazy.

The funny thing is, when this all started, the phrase “lifestyle change” was tossed around a lot. I would smile and nod, because of course I would change my lifestyle and tell you whatever you want to hear, while inside I was laughing my butt off and saying no way – I like my wine and coffee and desserts too much! And I hate exercising! But something happened. I feel too good to go back. Now, I have most everything back that I took out of my diet. At the moment, I’m still gluten and refined sugar free, I avoid soy based items and processed foods, but I’ve gotten back dairy and wine and coffee and such. And I’m making more intentional choices about these things. I know now, for example, if I have more than one glass of wine, I’m not going to sleep well and I’m going to feel a bit sluggish and headachy the next day. I know that if I choose to eat a little too much cheese, I will experience pain and bloating later. I know that more than one cup of coffee will give me an “off” feeling in the afternoon. I know that if I eat something carb-ish at night without adding some protein, I will not sleep well. And if I don’t eat or snack regularly, or if I skip a meal? My crazy starts to come back out. I’m learning what’s worth it, and what’s not. What to do, and what not to do. And gluten? I never in a zillion years thought I’d  be able to live without it, let alone want to avoid it. I have had a little recently, once unintentionally, and once in the form of a delicious crusted tilapia filet. I  had no ill-effects that I noticed, so it appears I have no physical “issues” with gluten. But I know that it will quite possibly be my undoing, so I’m leaving it out, indefinitely. I’m making better choices. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever eat a sandwich, or make my favorite cookies or brownies again. And the Butterfinger I have in my freezer from Easter is still waiting for me…. But, for now, I know I can live without it, so I am.

And my exercising….. wow. Who would’ve thought I’d become borderline obsessed with making sure I can get my workout in?! Over the course of three months, I’ve missed a grand total of three workouts. Just three – and that’s only because we were camping. I refuse to miss a workout, especially when I don’t feel like it. It’s become a game – a mental tug of war between the lazy, old me and the better, new me. So far, the better me keeps winning.  I’ve now completed the full 8-week 22 Minute Hard Corps program (plus an extra week of it just for kicks), and I just completed the 21 Day Fix program. Not sure what’s up next, but I feel pretty confident that I will not fall off the wagon this time. It may take only 21 days to form a habit, but I want a solid three months, just to be safe!

So, yeah, I’d say this becoming a better me journey is working. And I now wholeheartedly believe it’s been worth it. I still have about two months to go until I’ve completed the program with my doctor, but so far, the results, while not outwardly visible to most, have been more than I could have hoped for.

Becoming a Better Me: Supplements

This isn't even all of them. At least three other supplements were used up and tossed before I thought to take a picture!
This isn’t even all of them. At least three other supplements were used up and tossed before I thought to take a picture!

While this journey to becoming a better me is a lot about diet, I have been getting some additional help in the form of supplements from my chiropractor. Lots and lots of supplements. I’m regularly taking multiple pills and making different drinks with powdered concoctions. Some pills I take once a day, others a take with each meal, some I take every other day. Sometimes it’s one pill, sometimes it’s two pills twice a day. Luckily, I have the dosages written out on the caps of each bottle to keep track of what I need to take and when!

So, what do these little pills and drops and powders do? I have no idea. I mean, my chiro has been awesome with explaining everything, including why these will help me, but I can’t seem to keep them all straight. I know the ClearVite I take daily is to help detox my liver and gallbladder, the pill I take with meals helps with digestion, some of the pills I used in the beginning helped to get rid of the chronic infections, others are to help stabilize my hormones, some to repair my gut, others are for ….. I don’t know. But they were each explained to me, in detail, when they were first given to me.

Can diet alone make good, lasting changes in your body? Possibly. Will good quality supplements used at the advice of your health care practitioner help? I believe so, yes. My lab work shows that things in my body just aren’t working the way they are supposed to, and these supplements along with the diet changes are helping to correct that. The goal is to get my body working the way it’s meant to work and then stop the supplements, or only take certain ones as needed. Fortunately, I have access to great supplements, like the OmegaGize³™ pictured above. With my chiropractor’s permission I am able to use my Young Living supplements whenever possible. Bonus!

I’m nearly 7 weeks into the program at this point and still in the reintroduction phase. I’ll post soon about how I’m feeling and the changes I’m noticing, as well as what those around me (like Hubby) are noticing.

So far, so good!

 

 

 

“Brownies”

20160520_184501
“Brownies”

You know what I have been missing most, and consistently, throughout this “becoming a better me” process? (I mean, besides wine, of course.) Brownies. More specifically, my homemade-from-scratch brownies. They are fudgy and dense and not too sweet and covered with a thick layer of chocolate cream cheese frosting….. sigh. They are truly one of my favorite things.

Well, I have been searching online to see if I can make some “healthy” brownies to tide me over until I can someday have my own again. I found a few different recipes that seem promising, so last night I thought I’d try one of them.

This particular recipe for “brownies”, and I use that term loosely because the only ingredients that are in it that would be in “real” brownies are eggs and vanilla, calls for an unexpected item. Avocado.

Now, I do love avocados. Really, I do. But I prefer them as a condiment (guacamole), or a snack (with some salt), or even in a meal recipe with eggs or chicken. Heck, I’ve even had them in smoothies and it was pretty good. I know they help make things creamy….. but brownies? I had my doubts.

But, why not? So, off I went to puree the avocado with the wet ingredients. Did you ever feed your kids baby food strained peas? That’s about what this concoction looked like when I was done. Nasty baby food peas. You know one of the foods I most despise? Yep, peas. By now, my doubts are increasing about this recipe, but I continue on and add the eggs and dry ingredients. I must say, after it was all mixed together, it resembled a fluffy, whipped brownie-like batter. (My brownies are not this consistency. My bias continues.) It even smelled kind of like brownies. I tasted the batter and it was…. different. Chocolaty-ish. Kind of brownie-ish, but it was a stretch for me. Still I continued on.

After they were in the oven and all remnants of anything green were removed, the kids wandered in. They smelled the “brownies” and went in to a moment of ecstasy. They would be finally getting what they have also been wanting for weeks and weeks. (I’ve created dessert monsters.) It was awesome motivation for them to do whatever I asked – so I made sure to make a good list of things to clean up before they could partake in said “brownies”. (It worked!)

When the “brownies” were done, they looked…. okay. I mean, they didn’t have the pretty, shiny and slightly cracked top like brownies. But they were brown, so I guess that’s good. And they smelled brownie-like, sort of, so also a plus.

After they cooled, I hesitantly gave one to each kid, trying to keep my expression neutral. To my surprise, they loved them! They inhaled their “brownies” like I was going change my mind and take them away. “It tastes just like cake!” they both exclaimed. Really? Huh. Ok then, I will have to try one. I mean, I prefer fudgy brownies over cakey brownies, but at this point I’m pretty desperate. So I took a small sliver…..

Nope. Nope. Nope.

NOT a brownie. Not even close to a brownie. Not even close to cake, for that matter. In fact, after one bite, I threw the rest of my piece away. Did you catch that?!?! I. threw. it. away!! Those that know me know that even a bad brownie is still better than no brownie, and this didn’t even make the cut. I don’t know if my dessert palate is just too picky (and stubborn) at this point to tolerate any alternatives or what, but I couldn’t handle more than one bite. Even Hubby tried one when he came home and tossed it.

“You know I like just about everything you make right? Well….. these are disgusting.”

Yes, dear, I know. No bad feelings here. I concur 100%.

The good news is that the kids like them, so they can have them. (I should mention that they have no idea what is in them. If they did, I’m sure they would not feel the same way. In fact, that very well could be my problem with them – I know that they started as baby-food-pea-colored puree…..)

I do have a couple more recipes to try out – without the avocados. But I’m starting to wonder if you just shouldn’t mess with perfection. Now the dilemma is do I try out a couple other recipes with my fingers crossed, or just hold out until I can bake my own down the road? Decisions, decisions…..

 

Becoming a Better Me: Diet II

Some of the things I've been eating all month!
Some of the things I’ve been eating all month!

30 days of no grains.
30 days of no dairy.
30 days of no sweeteners or processed foods of any kind.
30 days of no caffeine.
30 days of no alcohol.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? And that’s not even the full list of no-no’s during my initial 30 day diet!

So, what did I eat for 30 days? I wish I could tell you. If I had kept a food journal, this post would be much easier to write. But I didn’t because, well, it just didn’t cross my mind. And I was really, really grumpy in the beginning, so odds are I wouldn’t have kept up with it anyway…

We’ve been eating a lot of eggs. (I’m on a modified AIP diet, so I’m allowed eggs and nuts. Woohoo!) We have easily been going through 4 dozen eggs each week at my house, and only three of us eat them. Thank goodness for Costco! Also, avocados, which sounds awesome until you realize you can’t have them as guacamole with chips (because no corn) or salsa (because tomatoes are also on my “no-no” list). I mean, I love me some avocados, but still. Sweet potatoes. I’ve eaten more sweet potatoes in the last month than I had in all the years of my life prior to this past month. Luckily, those have kinda grown on me and I’ve been enjoying them, especially when sautéed with some onion in bacon fat. Yum. I’ve also been inhaling almonds. I grab a handful of raw almonds as a snack with berries and carry them with me everywhere I go. Another favorite snack – apples with almond butter. Delish. And just spoonfuls of almond butter. That has become my dessert of choice since I have no other options. Obviously we’re eating a lot more meat and veggies. A lot more. Especially since we can’t get eat the usual “fillers” like rice or pasta or even beans (also no-no’s). The good news is that by eating this way, we’re getting a ton more nutrients in our diets. The bad news is that it’s putting a serious dent in our budget.

I keep saying “we” because I wasn’t going to do this alone. Actually, scratch that. I wasn’t going to buy/cook foods that I couldn’t eat. So really, there was no choice for Hubby and the kiddos. I’ve kept very little dairy or gluten products in the house, so everyone has had to adjust a bit. No bread. No cheese. No baked goods. The kids have been getting long-grain rice cooked in bone broth or brown rice noodles with their dinner on occasion, as well as gluten free cereal some mornings. I decided that was tolerable and necessary for my sanity. The amazing thing is, the kids have actually been eating. Turns out they will eat more than just plain noodles, chicken nuggets, or cheese quesadillas! Who knew?

The first week we had planned on a ton of new recipes. I spent hours in the kitchen. I ruined things, burned things, didn’t like most of the things (cilantro was in many recipes, and it turns out that I really don’t love cilantro), and basically was just miserable. The timing on “experimenting” was horrible because I was already a cranky beast. I was getting zero coffee, zero sugar, and zero wine. In hindsight, my planning was definitely not well thought out. By day three I was ready to quit. Fortunately, day three was also a doctor’s appointment, and she talked me off my ledge.

Week two was better in the food department because I just decided we’d be boring. I don’t do fancy in the kitchen (unless it involves baked goods, and this most certainly does not). That’s how we started on eggs most mornings, salads or leftovers for lunch, and basic dinners consisting of meat and veggies. Nothing fancy. Pork chops with roasted brussel sprouts. Chicken breasts with broccoli. Pot roast with sweet potatoes. You know, “normal” foods that I could actually make without bursting into tears. The second week was much better than the first.

But something was missing… Pancakes. I attempted to find some recipes so I could feel like we were eating “real” pancakes, even though I couldn’t have butter or syrup. *sigh* I did manage to find a recipe that I tweaked and all of us enjoyed. Well, the kids loved them, but I think it was really just because it’s been so long since they had “real” pancakes that they imagined they were better than they actually were. Hubby and I just tolerated them. I also attempted a “cookie” recipe that the kids won’t touch (and I don’t really blame them), but I eat because it “feels” like a cookie, even if it doesn’t taste like one. The lack of baking has definitely taken a toll on me because that’s the one thing I enjoy doing in the kitchen.

We did, however, find recipes that we really and truly do love. We have a turkey sausage recipe that we all enjoy, and we’ve been making at least 2 pounds each weekend to have during the week. Hubby and I love sweet potato hash, whether it’s at breakfast topped with fried eggs or dinner with some leftover chicken mixed into it. And the best one? Bacon burgers. We chop the bacon and mix it into the seasoned burger meat and grill it to perfection. Topped with grilled onions, it’s to die for. (No bun of course.)

Now, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it was an awesome 30 days. It wasn’t. I was cranky a lot the first half and had my bad days throughout the month. I still want donuts and wine and cheese and wine and coffee and did I mention wine? I had hoped that the 30 days would “break” me of wanting those things, but no such luck. There were many days that I felt crabby and wondered if it was even going to be worth it. I distinctly remember one day telling myself, “there’s not really anything that wrong with me, so I don’t really need to be doing this…” But I stuck with it. I have no idea how, to be honest, because I am not known for willpower, but I made it all the way through my 30 days with no cheating. Actually, that’s a lie. I cheated on accident when I tasted a smoothie I made for the kids and it had yogurt in it. But it wasn’t a purposeful cheat, so I don’t think that counts as a real cheat. Right?

Now that my 30 days are over, how do I feel?

First of all, I’m starving all the time. I am eating three meals a day plus at least two snacks – more than I ever used to eat! With the amount of food I’m eating, you would think that I would feel full often. But no, I am always hungry. Amazing what happens when you take out all the empty calories and fillers. I just ate a pretty big meal about an hour ago, in fact, and I’m realizing that I’m hungry again as I’m sitting here. Pumpkin and Hubby are the same way. The three of us are constantly famished. Peanut, not so much, but she’s also the one not really eating like I am because she’s the pickiest. I’m not sure why I’m always hungry, but I am. So I just keep on eating.

Now, I was kind of expecting a moment somewhere during the diet when the heavens open and the angels sing and the sun shines down on me and I suddenly feel awesome. Because I really, really want to feel awesome…. but that hasn’t happened. Instead, my body is working better. (Please don’t ask me to explain. Just trust me.) I think I’m sleeping a little better, and I’m getting up early without too much struggle. And energy? I don’t necessarily feel it, but I must have more energy. I mean, I’m not bouncing off the walls and cleaning every corner of my house (wouldn’t that be a nice side-effect?), but I’m not lethargic during the day. I’m not having to spend time on the couch because I just.can’t.move. I’m actually busy and productive during the day and into the night. I’ve been out and about frequently during the last couple weeks, and that’s unheard of for a self-proclaimed hermit like me. I’m even still dressed by the time Hubby gets home from work in the evening instead of in my robe on the couch in mombie-mode.

As cheesy as it sounds, things also seem brighter to me. I remember driving back from a doctor’s appointment one morning and noticing how blue the sky looked and how bright and cheerful everything seemed. I even rolled my eyes at myself for thinking it, but it’s true. Life just seems better. Am I happy all the time? Of course not. But I think I’ve been happier and less stressed lately. And that’s a win for me!

Ok, so, now what?

I’m only one month into a five month program. I’ve just entered the re-introduction phase. On Wednesday I got some foods back like nightshades (tomatoes and peppers!) and all fruit (bananas!). I also can have beans again (hummus!) and sweeteners like honey and maple syrup within reason. (We have to keep my blood sugar levels consistent.) Those are my “go for it” foods that I can have as long as I have no ill effects. We’re also slowly adding other things back in, one at a time every 4 days. I asked for wine, but that was a no-go. (Sad but not surprising.) Instead, I settled for oats. That gives me something else for breakfast besides eggs. After four days, if I have no reactions to the oats, I can add rice (and rice pasta). I figure that’s a good second step because, again, it opens up so much more for meals. Next week we get to decide on two more items to add back.

I think I’ll try the wine again.

I’ll keep you posted as I move along!

 

Becoming a Better Me: Diet I

Ah, yes. Diet. The word just about all people love to hate.

Let’s clear up what my “diet” is and is not, shall we? First of all, my diet is NOT for me to lose weight. Hubby has lost some weight by following this diet (mostly) with me, but that is not the goal for me. That being said, it is a nice side effect. Next, this diet was NOT my idea. At all. In fact, this diet basically took away all that I love to eat and drink. There is no way I would do that to myself without really good reason. Heck, even with a really good reason it was hard to decide to do it! So, why am I putting myself through it…..?

If you read my why post, you know that things needed to change with me. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what. I was tired, unmotivated, depressed and easily overwhelmed, plus I had actual physical issues like migraine headaches, recurrent UTI’s, digestive problems, and other things that, while not life threatening, were nonetheless taking away from my every day living. Something just wasn’t right. So, I went to get outside help.

To start this process, I had a neurological workup done and a huge questionnaire packet to fill out. From there, we moved on to comprehensive lab work to find out what was actually going on with me. Turns out, I’m not crazy! There are actual, real, measurable problems that need to be addressed. Nothing too serious, but had I continued on the path I was going without intervention, things would have gotten much worse. I’d love to explain it all to you, but to be honest, I don’t think I could. It all made sense when my doctor explained it to me and broke each test result down, but as soon as I left the office, the information was just a mishmash of long words. But the lab results did show that there are real reasons for my all of my issues. That in itself made me feel a better. At least there is something to work with – something to be “fixed”. It’s not just all in my head!

Let food by thy  medicine and medicine be thy food.

~ Hippocrates

First step in fixing my issues is to fix my gut. I’m a firm believer that most of the population in this country has gut issues because of the “foods” we regularly eat. What most people don’t realize is how important a healthy gut is to our overall health. I’ve done some reading on it in the past but was still blown away when my doctor tied everything I’ve been dealing with to gut (and liver) issues. I’m by no means an expert so I won’t weigh in too much on all this, other than with what I’m experiencing personally.

So, how does one fix their gut? By eliminating foods. A lot of foods. Foods that I consume regularly. And you know what? That’s really, really hard to do! My doctor put me on a 30 day modified RepairVite program, which is an AIP (auto-immune protocol) diet. I call it Paleo on steroids because it’s more restrictive than Paleo, but along the same lines. Basically, it takes out everything. No grains, no dairy, no sugars of any kind (natural or otherwise), no nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, etc), no soy, no beans or legumes, no high-glycemic fruits like bananas and dried fruits, no condiments because they usually contain gluten, no caffeine, no alcohol…… There are a lot of “no”s in this diet. (Did you see the no coffee and no wine?!?!) Fortunately, I have no autoimmune issues so I am allowed to have eggs and nuts (just not peanuts). That’s why my diet is “modified”. For 30 days, this has been my life. There were a bunch of times when I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. There were loads of times I wanted to cheat, but I didn’t. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right!

And I did.

Next up, what I have been eating, and any changes I’ve noticed….

 

Becoming a Better Me: Fitness

Necessities each morning. And water. Lots of water.
Necessities each morning. And water. Lots of water.

I am working on “becoming a better me” both inside and out. In order to get the “outside” part improved, it means exercise. And hard work. And good habits. None of these things have been strengths of mine over the last few years decade.

Back in the day, I was in pretty good shape. I was strong for a girl my size. I remember lifting in college and getting a kick out of shocking the shorts off the guys in the weight room.

“Here, let me help you with that.” says random guy.

“Nah, I’m good.” I say with a smirk and an eyeroll, then smash out my reps.

Guy picks jaw up from floor. 

Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite like that, but it’s my story so I’m sticking with it. Either way, I have not been that girl in a long, long time. She was tough. She was strong. She was confident.

I want her back.

I’ve been able to stick with short term fitness goals for myself when I set them. Run a few days here. Yoga a few times there. The problem is, I’d always stop. I’d skip a day or two, and instead of getting back at it, I’d make excuses and just be done. Then any benefit was erased. And you know what? I’m kinda tired of that. I know I feel better when I exercise. I know I sleep better when I exercise. I know I ultimately will look better when I exercise. So why don’t I just suck it up and do it!?

So, I am. Sucking it up, I mean.

I committed to an 8-week program from BeachBody called 22 Minute Hard Corps. Someone showed it to me and I knew it was right up my alley. So, six days a week (SIX!!), I get up and do my workout. It has a schedule all set up so there is no thinking on my part (which is good because it’s early and I’m currently off coffee). I just push the DVD button and get to work. And, like he says in the videos, “it’s only 22 minutes…..”

And it sucks and it’s awesome all at the same time.

This program is tough. I have to modify many of the exercises, and I can’t always do all the reps they do. But I’m still working. And I’m sweating. And I’m getting stronger. And I’m seeing results.

I took “before” pictures, and I plan to take “after” pictures. (Jury is still out whether or not I post them.) I did all the measurements like they say to do, and I even did the fitness test at the beginning so I can measure my progress at the end. Curiosity, and my vanity, got the best of me.

I’ll be starting week 6 tomorrow morning, and I haven’t skipped a single workout. That means on the days when I woke up with a headache, I still did the workout. On the days I was exhausted because I was up with a child the night before, I still did the workout. On the days I just didn’t want to, I still did the workout. On the days I didn’t think I’d have time, I got up earlier and still did the workout. I’ve completed five straight weeks and allowed myself zero excuses. You know what that means? That means I have no reason, ever, to skip my workouts. If I made it through a full month cycle and managed to keep it up, there is no reason why I can’t continue. Right?

(For full disclosure, I have a little extra motivation. Hubby will reward me with dinner anywhere I want if I make it through the 8 weeks without skipping a day. A little external reason to keep it up helps. Especially when my reward dinner will include an amazing steak at one of my favorite restaurants.)

Now, in order to be sure I don’t just stop after I complete the program, which is what I’ve always done in the past when I’ve reached the end of a goal, I need to have a plan. I need to start the 8 weeks over again or have some other schedule in place. I haven’t gotten that far, but you’d better believe that the plan will be in place during the last week of this program. I do not want to go backwards from the progress I’ve made!

This commitment is relatively short-term. 8 weeks is good, but I need this to become a lifestyle change. I want to be healthy and fit as I get older. I want to be in amazing shape by the time I’m 40. So, #fitby40 is the new goal. I have plenty of time to get there. (Sort of.)

That’s what I’ve been doing to become a better me in terms of fitness. I will start running again after my 8 weeks are up, assuming Mother Nature gets her act together. I will look into other home workouts now that I have a nice little set up in the basement. I will re-enroll at my local gym so Hubby and I can work out together. Baby steps toward long term progress and lifestyle changes.

Up next, the diet I’m doing….. Stay tuned!

Oh, and no, I’m not a BeachBody coach or rep or whatever they are called, and I’m not getting anything by mentioning the videos. But I do love this workout!

 

Becoming a Better Me: My Why

Sure feels that way sometimes, doesn't it?
Sure feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it?

Well, this post is weeks overdue. I had planned to journal this whole experience here on my blog. But, well, life. Besides, I’m about 99.9% sure you would NOT have wanted to read what I would have said the first few days of this experience. Grumpy is an understatement. Beast is more appropriate for those days. But let’s back up, shall we?

If you follow me on social media (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) you will have noticed that some of my posts of late have leaned toward fitness and food. No, I haven’t been hacked, although I understand why you would think that. Instead, the decision was made that enough was enough. I’ve talked about trying to take better care of myself. I’ve committed to goals here and there, like a 5K last summer and my 30 days of No Excuses. I’ve reached those goals, and then fallen right back to my normal. And my normal isn’t good.

Backstory: I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression the last five-ish years. I’m pretty sure it was PPD after the little one was born, but I was never “diagnosed”. I was even put on anti-depressants for a while, secretly, of course. (Well, Hubby knew because he is the one who convinced me I needed to talk to my doctor and get them, but I kept it secret because *gasp* I don’t need those.) I managed to get off of the pills after about 18 months, but I never really got back to being the old me. On top of that I’m not really all that healthy. Again, I fake it well. People see me and assume I’m in decent shape because I’m thin, but really, I’m just a skinny fat person. My insides have been all out of whack from years of not eating well or often enough. I’d actually play a game with myself in my head when I’d start to get hungry. I’d hold off as long as I could before stopping to eat. Eventually, the hungry just went away. I’d often go with just one meal a day, maybe a handful of crackers or something to get me through the rest of the day. As a mom, it was kind of a given that I would just eat what the kids left on their plates, and I’d never take the time to cook for myself. With Hubby’s schedule, dinners just weren’t all that important to me. Breakfast was usually coffee, unless Hubby was home to cook or we had baked goods in the house. Lunch? Waste of time and effort for myself. So, yeah, I have had a problem for years. I would eat, but not often enough to benefit my body. Fortunately, I didn’t eat crap all the time, so at least there was that. I mean, I love desserts, so I’d eat crap when it was around. But I had been making an effort to keep it around much less. I thought that was good enough. Apparently, not so much.

I’ve also been beating myself up a lot over the last couple of years. I am a recovering perfectionist who felt like I was failing at life all.the.time. I felt like I was failing my kids. Failing my husband. Failing at keeping up with the house. Just failing at everything. Again, on the outside, it was all sunshine and roses, but in my head? Life was just not going well. That’s partly why I started this blog – it was going to be my outlet. I was in quite a downward spiral of feeling lost and lonely and full of anxiety. I rarely left the house. I joke that I’m a hermit, but for real, I was getting close to having a serious problem with anxiety when I had to leave the house for any reason without Hubby. Fortunately, my oils have helped calm that crazy-train down, but I still was not “right”. I was always tired. And not just a “I didn’t get enough sleep” tired, but so tired that I felt like I could hardly function for days. I had zero motivation to do anything, and zero reason that I could find to even bother.

So, what happened? Why now am I finally making some changes?

Simple answer, my family. Hubby needs me to be my best so I can take care of our family, and I was sooooo not there. My kids need me to be a good example for them, and I was sooooo not it. I was always tired and grumpy. I never wanted to play with them or really do anything with them because it was too exhausting, and eventually they stopped asking me. The house was a disaster to me. I was constantly overwhelmed with all the things, real or imagined. Basically, something had to give. I was wallowing more often than not, and it was getting worse and more frequent, and that’s not ok. So, Hubby pretty much said it had to change.

This year became my year of taking care of me.

I wasn’t going to take initiative to make myself better, even if deep down I wanted it. So, Hubby did that for me by finding a doctor. When I balked because of the cost involved, he sat me down and made sure that I knew I was worth it. He knows I’d do anything for him and the kids if something needed to be done, but me? Nah, I’ll live without it. I’ll manage and make due.

Except I wasn’t.

So, over the last few months, I’ve take steps to become a better me. I committed to an 8-week exercise program that’s kicking my butt. I’m now in week 5 and haven’t skipped a day, and I can see a difference! (I even have “before” pictures to post after I’m all done, with “after” pictures, of course.) I started seeing a chiropractor who has a focus on functional medicine, and we’ve been working through lots of my dietary issues to get to the root of my problems. This has been tough because I’m on a highly restrictive diet right now. Ridiculously restrictive. Dairy-free, grain-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free, chocolate-free, caffeine-free, fun-free diet. Hence the grumpy/beast mood. (Don’t worry, it’s getting better! The mood, not the diet. Ha!)

So, that’s my “why” for this seemingly crazy journey I’ve started. I’m not doing this diet or exercise program as an experiment because I really want to. I’m doing it because I have to. I have to fix me.

So, follow along as I work on #becomingabetterme. I promise to post frequent updates the rest of the way, including details of what I’m doing and how it’s going. I may even toss in a recipe or two from this crazy diet.

Spoiler alert – it’s working!

Who decides what success looks like?

This question has been weighing on me pretty heavily lately. I’m not sure if it’s because I read about other people’s successes so often now with social media, or if it’s because this year marks 20 years since my high school graduation (?!?!) , or if I’m going through a pre-mid-life crisis (because I cannot be old enough for an actual mid-life crisis…. right?). It could be because I’m getting closer and closer to 40, and by then, I’m supposed to be successful. Right?

At least, that’s what they say.

But, who are they, exactly? Who is this nondescript group of they that get to determine who is successful and who is not? What makes them experts in my life and in yours? Who died and made them boss?

I mentioned it’s 20 years since high school for me this year. As far as I know, there is no “official” reunion planned. (And no, it isn’t my job to plan it, for those of you who may be reading this thinking it is.) That being said, I’ve heard rumors of pockets of people planning get-togethers and such this summer to mark the occasion. To be honest, I keep in touch with very few people from back in the day. I run into some here and there. I’m “friends” with many of them on Facebook, but I don’t really keep in touch with more than a few. At most. I was recently trying to figure out how I fell out of touch with most of them, and it boiled down to two reasons.

One, I never really “belonged” to any one group. I was a tag-a-long. Sure, I was friends with many in groups, and I had a handful of close friends, but I was never “one of them”. I floated from group to group, so by default I never had the history needed to create those solid friendships, I guess. It amazes me when I see posts and pictures of people from high school who are still surrounded by the same groups of people from way back then. They’ve married each other, had kids all together, and all still see each other. And then, there’s me. And I’m ok with that.

The second reason is a very vain reason and the main point of this rambling post. See, back in high school, I was somebody. People knew who I was. I participated in extracurriculars. I was one of the “smart kids”. By the time I was a junior, I was – dare I say it – popular, to some degree at least. And even more than that, I was somebody who was going to succeed in life. The expectations on me were high. I was one of the the future doctors and lawyers and professors. I was on the path to a great career after college, guaranteed!

And you know what? I totally could have done that after college. But I didn’t. I chose a completely different path for myself. And while I do not at all regret that decision, it does make it hard for me to see myself with a group of those doctors and lawyers and professors that I went to school with who did follow that path. Those who chose careers and have built very successful lives for themselves. All I can picture is them asking “So, what do you do?”, and all I can say is I stay home with my kids. Now, that’s not entirely true because I have built successful businesses over the years, but the kind of businesses I have built are typically not thought of as “real” jobs. So most of the time, I don’t mention them. Because if it’s not a “real” job, then it’s not really a success (according to the elusive they). So, the idea of seeing many of these people again makes me cringe a little inside. Because how do I explain how I could “waste” so much potential? How could I have let myself go from a somebody to, well, this?

Which leads me back to who gets to define success.

I’m challenging myself to define my own success. It’s hard. Really hard. Society at large (aka “they“) have a very distinct description of success. It almost always includes a career, lots of money, a huge house, vacations, and new cars. I have none of that. At least, not at the moment.

But I do have a full life. I don’t have a career, but I have every moment of being home watching my kids grow and witnessing every milestone. I get to see them thrive learning new things and discover who they truly are meant to be. We have enough money for us to live without struggling, even if that means we rarely go out to eat. We have a home that may be small, but it’s full of love and laughter and emotions and struggles and mess. We don’t take extravagant vacations because we choose to live within our means. We haven’t bought a new car since 2004, but we’ve had “new to us” cars that get us where we need to go. We don’t have the fancy toys, or the newest gadgets, or anything else the Jones’ may have, but we have each other. And we have happiness in our little world.

Sometimes, it takes writing a post like this to remember just how successful my life truly is.

So, I challenge you to redefine success in your life. Live outside of societal norm. It takes some strength to do it and even more to not feel like a failure in the eyes of them. But it’s a challenge worth taking. Because the only person who is allowed to decide what makes you successful, is you.