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: 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!

#ONEWORD2016

Amazing what can happen when I choose to spend time in my art studio! Made this one this morning at, you guessed it, 5am.
Amazing what can happen when I choose to spend time in my art studio! Made this one this morning at, you guessed it, 5am.

I’m sure you’ve heard about #oneword by now, right? It’s been around for a while. The gist is you choose one word at the beginning of the year and use that word to improve yourself throughout the course of that year. I’ve attempted it in the past. Multiple times. I came up with a word, wrote it somewhere, and then hoped for the best. If I remember correctly, past words of mine were Simplicity, Enough, and I think even Change. Except that I haven’t.

Changed, that is.

I keep repeating the same years, over and over and over again. I mean, sure, some things change. The kids keep getting bigger, after all. But this rut that I’ve gotten into has just not gone away. It’s exhausting being this stuck and constantly spinning my wheels but getting nowhere. But, I had an epiphany.

I haven’t changed because I haven’t done anything differently. 

I know, right? It’s like, whoa, that’s some deep stuff! Seriously, though, I have been waiting for changes to happen instead of actually doing the things that need to get done to see some changes. (Duh.)

I know it sounds ridiculous, just waiting for change. In fact, I KNOW it’s ridiculous. I’ve been living it, for crying out loud! But I think many (most?) of us are waiting for the next thing before we decide we’ll make a change. The next season. The next event. The next house. The next job. The next {fill in the blank}.

But change ain’t gonna happen if we just sit back and wait for it. Trust me, I know. My years keep ticking by… If you want something different for yourself, you have to DO something to get there. You want to have better health? Reading all the health blogs in the world won’t get you there. You have to DO something, like eat better and exercise. You want to get out of debt? Reading all of Dave Ramsey’s books, while inspiring, won’t make it happen unless you DO what he tells you to do in those books. You want a cleaner house? Buying all the fancy supplies and setting up schedules won’t work unless you DO the things it says to do on those scheduled days.

You want a better life for yourself? You have to DO something for it. (Amazing concept, isn’t it?)

In order to DO something, you have to know your options. You have to know what it is that will get you where you want to be. And then you have to decide to do it. This is the trickiest part for me. See, I’m awesome at researching options. I can research the heck out of things, and then overthink them, and then get overwhelmed, and then freeze. A dear, smart friend calls this “analysis paralysis”, and I totally have that. To. A. Tee. So, how do I change?

I have to make a choice.

A-ha! And there is it. That’s my word of 2016. Choice.

I have been a perpetual decision-deferrer. (Is that a thing?) I have no opinion about anything, or so it would seem, and I constantly avoid decision-making. I’m not sure if over the years I thought it would be better, maybe more peaceful, to just let the other person decide? You know, so they’re happy? I dunno. But I’ve gotten worse and worse at making choices. (Unfortunately, that’s rubbing off on my kids which is annoying the heck out of me, so we must remedy this problem post-haste.) On the other end of the spectrum, because I’m a researchaholic, I tend to give myself way too many options when needing to make a choice, and then I can’t decide what to do or how to start so I just don’t. I do nothing. Add a lack of DO-ing to the lack of decision-making and it’s a recipe for perpetual sameness, folks.

I read an article (researching again, surprise!) about strong women and things they do and don’t do. (I’d post a link but I can’t remember where I saw it…. sorry about that.) One of the items in the article that stuck out to me is they do not apologize for making decisions. They make decisions and stick with them because they know what’s best for themselves. They don’t doubt themselves. They don’t question themselves or their actions. Decisions are a sign of strength and are powerful.

Choice: The opportunity or power to make a decision.

So, that’s where I’m going to start this year. I’m going to consciously make choices about what I do each day. I can choose to be lazy (default setting) or be active. I can choose to be the same day in and day out or to change. I can choose to DO or not. Either way, it’s a choice. My “choosing” perspective has already helped! I chose to get up at 5am this morning, for example, because I know I have better days when I take time for myself first. I chose to clean the house today instead of letting it go just “one more day” because it really needed to get done. I chose to start meal planning again because I know that’s the only way we will eat better as a family. Could I chose to sleep in and then be cranky and unproductive? Of course! Could I choose to continue to live in a less-than-kept house and cringe when others visit? Sure. Could I choose to just wing it with our food and struggle daily with what to eat? Yep.

Could I choose to stay the same, repeat another year, and end up in the same place yet again? Yes.

But I don’t want to.

Choice. One small word. One world of difference.

No Excuses

No Excuses
Photo: Google images

July is going to be a big month for me. I’m making it my new start. My clean slate.

I have a bad habit. In fact, I’ve nourished this habit so well that I honestly don’t even realize how often I do it. It has become second nature and automatic. It’s been years in the making, so breaking it will be hard. I’ve justified it and became enabled by it, but it’s gotta stop.

I make excuses.

They start out innocent enough….. Oh, it’s raining. I guess I can just go to the grocery store tomorrow…. I was up with the kids again last night, so I really should stay in bed to try to catch up on extra sleep…. I know we should be eating healthier but it’s so expensive sometimes. It’s just easier to do it this way for now…..  I can just clean the bathrooms tomorrow, we aren’t having anyone over anytime soon anyway.

This trend has been my life for a long, long time. No wonder I get very little done, eh? I can talk myself out of doing virtually anything with just a little reasoning. But you know what I’ve realized? Reasons are just excuses to make lazy seem ok.

Did you catch that?

Reasons are just excuses to make lazy seem ok.

I’m not saying reasons don’t exist. I’m saying reasons shouldn’t be stopping us from doing what we need to do.

I’ve fallen into the trap of Stay-At-Home-Mom Syndrome. My brother-in-law used this phrase to describe what happens when a stay-at-home mom falls into a rut. There are no deadlines, so there are no real pressures to get things done. There is no boss watching over us to make sure the work gets done, so we just put things off. There’s no real issue with appearance because our kids don’t care if we’ve showered or not, so even that gets put on the back burner. After all, as Scarlett O’Hara says, tomorrow is another day! Unfortunately, that’s the mantra I’ve been living with – tomorrow is another day – for years. It’s just going to be the same things tomorrow as it is today, so why bother?

You know what? I’m kinda tired of it. I want to have a house that isn’t an embarrassment when people stop by. I want to have a daily routine that involves taking care of myself. I want to get into healthier habits, for myself and for my kids. I want my business to take off and give me the dreams I see in my head, but….. I’m too tired. It’s too hard. I don’t have time. I don’t know how. The weather is bad. It’s too nice outside. I have a headache. It’s too far. It’s Tuesday. And the list goes on, and on, and on.

Time to get off that hamster wheel, folks. And I’ll be the one to jump first.

Here’s the thing. All of my excuses – every single one of them – comes back around to me. I am my own worst enemy and I constantly sabotage my own efforts. But if I’m honest with myself, I can see what my “reasons” are really saying:

I’ll just do it (whatever “it” may be) tomorrow. -I am choosing to be lazy.-

I can’t get my business moving/I don’t have time to focus on my business right now because of x, y, z. –I am choosing to not make my business a priority.-

I can’t believe the car broke again – just our luck! We’re never going to get our debts paid off. –I am choosing to have a negative attitude.-

I just don’t feel up to it today. I’m too overwhelmed by everything. I don’t even know where to start. –I am choosing to let my past issues with depression and anxiety get a foothold in my life.-

I can’t get up early to run, I’m too exhausted. I hate meal planning, I can’t get a good system in place. -I am choosing to stay unhealthy.-

I can’t start this project or do that thing or learn this skill, I don’t have time. I’m already running around like crazy as it is! -I am choosing not to manage my time wisely.-  

Basically, I am choosing to stay in my rut. I am choosing to hang out in my pity party. Puts a different perspective on it when we realize virtually nothing on the outside is a factor, doesn’t it?

 

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way; if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

 

Just because I want something doesn’t mean squat unless I actually take action and do something about it. And for that to happen, I have to choose to beat the living daylights out of silence my inner whiny girl. Cuz really? She’s annoying. And sometimes, (ok, probably frequently) she sneaks out of my mouth. And the only way to silence her is to just do it. Whatever it is. Get up early. Go for that run. Make that phone call. Scrub that floor. Find the silver lining. Whatever it is – it must get done. No more excuses. The choice is all mine.

July is No Excuses month. Wanna join me?

#NoExcusesJuly

I Belong?… I Belong!

So, there’s this group. It’s a group I don’t talk about here, because I didn’t want to be one of *those* people. It’s a business group. It’s a life group. It’s a group that I’ve been a part of for a relatively short period of time. It’s a group that others feel super strongly about, and I’ve been just…. there. I believe in this group and I think this group is awesome, but I don’t think I really got the group. I didn’t really feel like a part of the group, more like an observer of the group. I knew the secret password to get in to the clubhouse, but not the secret handshake to really belong. And it was not for any reason other than my own stubbornness and putting-offness. (Yep, making up words again.) I didn’t know if I really wanted to be part of the group. The group was big, and I was small. The group was amazing, and I was, well, just kind of hanging out there. I was riding along with the group, but not a true part of the group. I was afraid to really dive in because, well, what if….. What if I don’t belong. What if I don’t succeed?  What if I can’t find my place?

But today, I GOT it. Today, I AM a Lemon Dropper.

It took a video from the heart. A video of people who speak my language, who share my struggles. People, women just like me, who have messes day in and day out. They struggle. They live. And they thrive in this group.

I want to be them.

I AM them.

I just didn’t realize it until today.