Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You must focus...

Happy Wishcasting Wednesday, everyone!  i have therapy in a hour during a late lunch and I'm really not in the mood for introspection and dealing with feelings.  Here's to hoping the weekly wishcast will help put me in a better mindset.

This week Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

As soon as I read the question, my mind immediately went into overdrive.  There is so much that I want to accomplish, so much that I've put off, so many things on a to-do list that never seems to end no matter how much I cross off...

::takes a deep, calming breath::

I think that's part of my problem.  Rather than focusing on one particular project or area, I try to take everything on at once.  And because I'm human and not SuperGirl, I end up frazzled and feeling like a failure, when one of the many balls I'm juggling falls to the ground.  Logically, I know that it's ridiculous to be upset about it, but my brain rarely works on logic. 

This week I wish to focus on the quiet in moments.  I wish to take some time to focus my energy onto myself and what's most important to me right now.  I wish to journal and learn and concentrate on conquering one thing at a time  I wish to focus on me and not worry so much about the outside world and what they want or I think they want.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

there are things that need tending to...

It's Wishcasting Wednesday.  As Jamie puts it, "Make a Wish: Dare to dream. Every Wednesday here at Jamie Ridler Studios, there will be a wish prompt to inspire you, but you can always wish for whatever you like, whenever you like. If you’d like to share your wish on your blog or website, there will be a space here for you to share your link so that others can visit and help tend your wish."

Today she asks:

I wish to tend to my health, losing weight and getting fit.  I wish to tend to the emotions that arise, especially those that invoke a sense of failure and not good enough, as I continue on this journey.  I'm an emotional eater.  I eat out of sadness, stress, boredom, whatever...I might not be hungry, but still I eat.  I try to hide it because I'm ashamed and can't figure out what's wrong with me - why do I constantly do this - but that only makes it worse.  I've taken a good first step in tracking everything that goes into my mouth again.  It's definitely helping me to notice patterns.  Night is the worse time for me.  If I don't have a dinner planned, it all goes to hell.  I do better when I get my workout in early, as I feel more confident and more determined to not have a "wasted" session. 

Take yesterday, for example.  I did good throughout the day.  I had a surplus of calories going into dinner.  But I had not planned for dinner and we ended up eating McDonalds.  I didn't go over my calories by much and I don't want to beat myself up over it, but I want to learn from this.  No plan in place = me grabbing something quick and unhealthy.  I wish to tend to this by taking some time on Sunday to plan out meals and put everything in place that I need. 

I wish to tend to these fears that continue to sprout up in me, the little demon voice that tells me: you don't deserve this, you don't really want this, why not save yourself the inevitable let down

I'm starting to realize that there doesn't have to be an inevitable let down and that's such a horrible place to live my life from.  I need to remind myself that I'm a survivor of so many things and that whatever I did in the past to get by doesn't have to be the total sum of my life.  I'm allowed to be happy and laugh and live a long time even though neither of my parents did.  I'm allowed to find something I love in life.  I'm allowed to feel comfortable in my own skin.

And for me, that all begins with tending to my health and weight.  Such a simple thing for some, but for me, a huge step.  I'm ready though, even if the demon voice in my head isn't.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Calorie tracking and mean allergies...

Allergy season is officially upon us here in South Jersey and it's killing me.  I realize the importance of plants and pollination.  I truly appreciate being able to breathe, but must it torment me so?  I wanted to stay curled up in bed this morning as my head and eyes hurt, but I forced myself up and to work.  I'm sitting here rather sleepy and bleh, unable to focus, and wondering if I made the right decision.  It's such a weird dynamic for me.  On the one hand, I don't want to use sick time on allergies, but on the other hand, I feel like I'm accomplishing nothing at the office. 

I'm on day nine of my healthy living journey (yes, diet, I know, but I do hate that word) and there have been a few rough patches, but overall, I'm doing okay.  I only had one day where I was over calories and I still forced myself to track the food I ate so that I could try to learn from it.  Or, at the very least, see in cold hard numbers exactly what those three slices of pizza cost me nutritionally so that in the future, I can go into a situation aware. 

I haven't been doing the exercise part much yet.  One day last week.  Better than no days, but this won't work if I don't get moving.  I'm currently in the hiding-behind-no-time excuse, which is just that.  The thing is, I hate exercise.  Even when I was in a routine of doing it five times a week and getting fitter with each passing day, I never liked working out.  I saw it as one of those things I had to do.   Like work, but for my body.  I did like losing the weight and noticing that I could go for longer bouts of time at certain things, but the whole act of exercising is me getting from point A to point B.  I've accepted that I'm never going to be the girl who loves the gym and I'm not going to lie and pretend it's an enjoyable hour of my day, but it's an important one.  I need to focus on that more - it's important for my health and what I want to accomplish.

I once again, hit day six on #7daychip and had a bad day.  It wasn't as bad as some of my eating days in the past, but there is something about getting so close to a goal regarding my health that makes me sabotage myself.  There is this part of me that doesn't want to succeed, that doesn't think I deserve it, and that small part can take over so very easily.  I continue to work on being conscious of my eating decisions, but sometimes, I am conscious of it and still make the wrong choice.  I want to get control of this. 

Maybe it's as simple as starting with forgiving myself for slip-ups that do occur and moving on.  No looking back at how I messed up and I'm such a failure and my life is meant to be this way.  If I can start there, maybe whatever part of me gets off on failure and feeling terrible, will be silenced when I don't feed into it.

I don't know, really.  I'm talking out of my ass here.  All I do know is that something has to change.  I need to understand these patterns better if I'm going to avoid them in the future.

Victory:  Day 55 with no soda.  There have been a few moments where I almost gave in and had "just one" but stopped myself.  I really am proud of this and it often serves as a reminder that I can do whatever I put my mind to.

Mini Goal for Day:  Get all my waters in!

Mini Goal for Week:  Exercise two times.

7DayChip, I'm coming for you this week.  You will be mine!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wishcasting Wednesday: Reading

Today Jamie asks:

courtesy of We Heart It

I'm always reading.  It's one of my favorite things to do in the world.  It's one of the things I'm so grateful to both my parents for - the love of the written word and getting caught up in stories and lives that are not my own.  When I graduated from my Catholic School in eighth grade, I was named "Class Bookworm" and it was very fitting.  I've always felt more comfortable with my nose stuck in a book than almost anywhere else in the world, and it continues to surprise me when people tell me that they don't read.  What?  How is that possible? 

This week's question from Jamie automatically made me think of all the books on my to-read list, all the books I want to get too, but like laundry and dishes, as soon as you get through one pile, there is a whole new pile that's appeared.  Except books are much more fun than laundry or dishes.  And I like to read, whereas I'll put off the other two for as long as possible. 

However, when I thought about the question a little more, I realized, for me, this question has nothing to do with books at all.  I wish to be able to read myself better.  I want to be able to glance at myself in the mirror and see the person I am and the person I'm becoming.  I want to be able to know myself the way I know certain books like Pride and Prejudice and The Outsiders - by memory, so certain of what is in front of me without any doubts, with great affection.  I want to be able to read the words that I write on the page or in my blog and gain some perspective and better understanding of who I really am, rather than who I perceive myself to be (which is always a menacing, horrible person who deserves nothing). 

I wish to be able to read myself and know myself like the back of my hand, so that I can use those skills to learn to read other people better.  Because when you don't know yourself, don't care very much for yourself, you let a lot of negativity into your life.  You let a lot of people take advantage of you and make you feel bad because you want to be liked and, when you're honest with yourself, you think it's what you deserve.  I want to be able to spot these people for the soul-suckers they can be and learn to walk away.

It's funny.  I thought this would be such a simple question, but as usual, this prompt has taken me somewhere unexpected it.  I'm grateful for that.

I wish there was a pizza patch

I wish there was a pizza patch, sorta like a nicotine one, that gave you the pleasure of a great tasting pizza without any of the calories or fat.  If someone could invent that, they would make bank. 

I'm on day three of my journey to health.  Day one was fairly easy.  Day ones are always fairly easy - I'm full of energy and hope and the I-can-do-it mantra - once I commit to it.  Beginning day one is hard. I'm always tempted to say, "well, I should enjoy this one last time and start tomorrow" as though I'm promised an infinite number of tommorrows.  As though today doesn't matter.  But once I've started and committed to do it (and as I said in the last post, it really does have to just be a spontaneous thing for me as it keeps me from going down the line of beginning sabotage), day one is usually a high point for me.  I feel good about what I'm doing for myself. 

Day two is much harder, especially when you're so accustomed to using food as a part of your support system.  Yesterday, I got hit with some further money issues, which pumped my anxiety into high gear and as soon as I got home from work, after a majority of the day of eating so well, I grabbed my bag of Tortilla chips and headed to my room.  Somehow, I managed a moment of clarity of sorts before I did something that would just end up making me feel worse in the end.  I poured out one serving and put the bag away.  I gave myself the satisfaction I seemed to need (which is something that I need to work on and I am), but didn't tailspin out of control and instead just thought about why I was eating.  Was I hungry? A little, but I was pre-heating the oven for dinner.  Was this because I was upset?  Yeah.  A lot.   Would eating this bag of chips really make me feel better?  No...well, maybe for the time it takes to eat it, but then I'll feel sick, ashamed and angry with myself. 

It was a huge moment for me and I'm happy to report that I came in under my calorie limit for the day, even with the serving of Tortilla chips.  There is nothing wrong with eating a serving Tortilla chips from Whole Foods, but there is an issue with eating it because I'm feeling bad.  I need to be conscious of my food choices and start asking myself before I eat anything, "Am I doing this because I'm hungry?" At least until I can get into a better habit of understanding my self-destructive tendencies. 

It also made me aware that I need to find new, healthier things to reach for when I'm having these moments of anxiety and fear and anger. 
I am proud that I've made it through two days and am on my way through day three with the calories.   My goal for today is to add in some cardio and not let excuses or random things keep me from 30 minutes for myself.

Monday, April 11, 2011

it's a new dawn, it's a new day...

If one were to put an official starting over day on changing her diet and lack of exercise, I guess today would be that day for me.  Per my usual, I just woke up and decided today was the day.  It tends to work for me in the long run best (after all, it's how I managed to get started on breaking my soda habit - just waking up and doing it), but I'm more than a little freaked out.

My mind tends to run in the most negative manner.  It likes to point out how I've yet to last longterm and I always hit a wall of my own making and what's the point.  But I'm so sick of listening to that voice.  I want to do this.  I want to take this step and make these changes so that I can be one step closer on my life journey of happiness and living a good life.

I'm in the middle of the wonderful Blossom From the Heart E-Course by Sara Blackthorne and in the middle of writing on one of the prompts in my journal, I had this sad, but important epiphany.  Even before I was ever, by any health guidelines, considered "fat," I have lived my life with that as a defining factor.  I both hate being fat and fear letting go of it.  Because then I'm standing there, vulnerable to the world, no excuses in my way to keep me from living life, and when I fail (as we all do), I'll have to own it.  I couldn't hide behind the idea that I didn't get the job because I was fat or this friendship didn't work out because I was fat.  In this warped way, I've made being heavy into a protective shield of sorts.  Except it's not really.

I thought about creating a separate journaling place for just tracking my journey to get healthy and lose weight, but that really defeats why I created this blog in the first place.  This blog is about me, learning who I am in all the various forms - creativity, reading, getting healthy, whatever comes up as I go.  So if you read (and I love & appreciate the encouragement) my blog and this isn't up your alley, just skim right on by, but I feel like I need to do this.  I do better when I document my journey, when I explore the things behind my decisions so I can learn from them.  I set up a MyFitnessPal account for tracking calories, food, and exercise, but I also want a place to really delve into the emotional side for me.

I'm off to a good start for the day and using MyFitnessPal is showing me not only calories, but how many grams of carbs and protein I'm getting in and how much I should be.  Hardly surprising is that I get in more carbs than protein, but what is astounding is just how many grams of protein I'm lacking.  I must work on that.  Tonight, after my food shopping and walk, I think I'll be looking for some good protein-heavy recipes that aren't too hard to cook. 

Goals for this week:  track what I eat (good/bad), get moving, and not judge myself too harshly

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reviews: Beastly and the Lonely Hearts Club

I've read a few more books toward the YA Challenge for 2011.

Book 5/12

Title: Beastly by Alex Finn

Summary:  I am a beast.

A beast!

Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll, stay this way forever ruined unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly...beastly.

My Review:  It was okay is really all I can think to say about this book. I like the idea of going inside the Beast's (Kyle/Adrian) head and seeing the journey he's on. But it all felt slightly off. I can't really explain it, but I didn't feel like I was with the character as he went through the loss of his identity (evil as it was), the sullen and lonely times, and learning to be better. And everything with Lindy just seemed too easy. I do realize it's based on a fairy tale, but still.

It wasn't bad and it might be amazing for some readers, there was just something that left me feeling disconnected and not really caring about how things turned out for the characters.

Overall:  2 stars

Book 6/12

Title: The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

Summary:  Love is all you need...or is it? Penny's about to find out in this wonderful debut.

Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows - no more. It's a personal choice...and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born; The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways...which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like...

My Review:  This was a cute quick read. I loved the use of the Beatles lyrics and the way the book was sectioned off based on various Beatles songs - so fitting for the character. I think Penny Lane Bloom is a great character and I love her journey to figure out who she is as a person all brought on from heartache and the formation of a club that takes off. I really love that by the end she, with help from her friends, realizes that it's all about balance. I wish I was that smart when I was sixteen.

Quick, fun read. No surprises, no big plot, mostly just an interesting journey for an interesting character. My favorite kind of book when done right.

Overall:  4 stars

Writer's Workshop: If you really knew me...

courtesy of we heart it

If you really knew me, you would know that I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m the girl fumbling around in the dark, trying to find the light switch or even a familiar piece of furniture to rest against and get my bearings. I can sometimes almost fool myself into believing I have some modicum of a reason behind the inner workings of my mind and where my passions truly lie. I can tell you, like a girl who is interviewing for a job, that I’m smart and detail-oriented and strive for perfection and that those same things tend to get in my own way all the time. I can offer up the standard, “work in progress” answer I use whenever I join a site and it requests a bio, but that's about it.

If you really knew me, you would know that my favorite words to use about myself are “work in progress” because I don’t know how else to define this journey. It’s a cop-out. I own it. Aren’t we all that very thing? How does that show how unique I am? How does it even explain anything about me?

If you really knew me, you would know that my friends have a very different view of who I am than I do. I don’t know whose is more accurate or not, but I’m betting theirs is nicer. My friends might say that I’m loyal and funny because I want so much for people to always know that I care about them. I never felt it growing up – always feeling lost and off-to-the-side and alone – and I wasn’t a very good friend to people when I was younger. I wanted so much to be liked that I didn’t know how to be there for people. I’m funny because, well, I’m from an Irish Catholic family that repressed everything. I handled losing my father with humor because crying was wrong – even at eleven years old, I knew that. I handled feelings of worthlessness with a quick joke at my own expense because it doesn’t count if I’m laughing at myself and it proved you couldn’t hurt me. Except you really could and I just set myself up for a lifetime of negative thoughts firing out of my synapses.

If you really knew me, you would know that I really hate and love my mother fiercely. I’ve missed her so much since she passed away two years ago and yet I’m so relieved she’s not my problem anymore. I used to curse my father, wherever he might’ve gone after he died, because not only did he leave me with her, but her whole survival seemed dependent on me. And yeah, even if you really didn’t know me, you would know that the dynamic wasn’t healthy and probably not my fault, but I wouldn’t listen to you about such things.

If you really knew me, you would know that I try to give off a “whatever” or laissez faire attitude about things, but I over-analyze and fret and run around like Chicken Little, “the world’s gonna end! The world’s gonna end!” I take everything to heart. Things stay with me forever and I hate and hate and hate.

I guess that’s another thing you can know about me – I’m not very forgiving. I hold onto everything. It’s filed away on an index-card-like brain cell, fermenting and growing, and you might never even know that you hurt me, but oh the wrath I will feel and the justice I will dispel in my own imagination.

Mostly, if you really knew me, you would know how uncomfortable I am in my own skin. I put a lot of focus on my weight. It’s been ingrained in me for as long as I can remember and it’s a huge part of how I identify myself. But even beyond the weight, I never feel right. Never good enough or funny enough or smart enough - I’m never enough.

It’s a horrible way to live.

So I'm right back whre I started because I really don't know myself. There is this amazing person inside me, fighting to get out and be heard and share her lessons with the world, but she is stuck in the quicksand of “not good enough.” It’s not so much that I’m fumbling around in the dark trying to find the lights, but that I’m too afraid to turn them on and truly see.

In the end, if you really knew me, you would have a one-up on me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean

I read this back at the beginning of March, but forgot to post the review of it for Lazy Girl Read's mini-challenge.

book 4/4 - something new (brand new from Borders!)

Title:  The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey

Summary:  For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dis­missed these stories—waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea—including several that approached 100 feet.

As scientists scramble to understand this phenomenon, others view the giant waves as the ultimate challenge. These are extreme surfers who fly around the world trying to ride the ocean’s most destructive monsters. The pioneer of extreme surfing is the legendary Laird Hamilton, who, with a group of friends in Hawaii, figured out how to board suicidally large waves of 70 and 80 feet. Casey follows this unique tribe of peo­ple as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100­foot wave.

In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists’ urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves—from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast.

My Review:  It feels slightly odd talking about this book after everything that happened yesterday in Japan, but I think it only makes it that much more of a read that people should seek out. I loved the narrative Susan Casey set up. She switches from her experiences with the big-waves surfers (who I admire and yet think are insane) and their relationships with the water between various science-related situations. The book was so gripping and fascinating. I thought I would like it, but I didn't expect to love it and have trouble putting it down. I think the decision to intermingle the stories of Laird Hamilton and the other surfers chasing the waves intermingled throughout the book kept it from feeling like i was bombarded with all science and catastrophe.

I had always respected the ocean, but I think this book makes me appreciate it all the more.

Overall:  5 stars

I can be bold and dream big

My note from the universe today is so appropriate: 

Your secret blessing, Mare, is that no matter where you go in time and space, you only ever have to be yourself - as courageous, vulnerable, bold, or afraid as you may feel - to find yourself amongst friends.
So loved,

The Universe
It was a good way to start the day and a good thing to be reminded of.  And it's also wishcasting wednesday, which always provides me with a chance to explore my journey.  I hated that I missed last week - evil back trouble and a root canal left me wanting nothing to do with the computer - but I've been doing better with my regular journaling again.  I tend to go through peaks and valleys with my journaling these days.
This week Jamie asks:
courtesy of We Heart It

The immediate answer is my life.  I wish to transform my life.  And while that is a good thing, it's part of my ongoing problem with change.  I don't know how to appreciate small transformations and wish to blink my eyes and POOF, everything is as I dream it to be.  I overlook the hard work and emotional growth and investment necessary to make great transformations occur. 

I have been off all types of soda for 42 days now.  Considering how much of a soda fiend I was, this is a huge victory for me.  Do I allow myself to celebrate it or do I focus on all the things that I haven't conquered in those same 42 days?  I need to think about my life differently and appreciate all the changes I've made so far so that I can move forward and reach that next step.

Right now, I want to transform my health.  I had done so well when I was on Weight Watchers, dropped 75lbs, and hit a wall when money got tight.  It was all emotional, all self-sabotage, and I'm slowly understanding those triggers.  For me now, it's about starting over, to stop waiting for the perpetual Monday to come and just do it.

I wish to make the conscious decision to eat better and move more.  If I stray, I want to understand why I'm doing that - do I simply want a piece of pizza or am I getting in my own way.  I wish to be all those things my note from the universe says I am - bold, courageous, vulnerable.