Saturday, June 30, 2012

A New Season of Life- FOOD

First and foremost- I apologize that this post is late. I had an issue with my laptop, and couldn't blog until it was resolved. This post has been saved in my laptop for almost two weeks as a result. I will update the changes over the next week, I promise! J
Well, today I started the second part of my family's healthier lifestyle changes. It's probably the greatest, because it deals with something dear to my heart. I could go on and on about how much I love this part, but I'll spare you the sappy details.
You know what I'm talking about- FOOD. You know that old joke, "I love you like a fat kid loves cakes..." I'm sure we've all wondered who the fat kid is that loves cakes that much. Well, I'm not trying to brag or anything, but…I'm that fat kid. Err, person. I love food. I'm slowly working up the courage to ask food if it loves me back. But that's another blog entry. *wink*wink*

Anyways, I wanted to find a way of eating healthier without saying or implementing the gosh-forsaken "D" word. Fat girls cry when hearing that word. Or at least this one does. It brings back images of eliminating parts (or worse- all) of our favorite food groups, rumbling stomachs, stinky breath. Viewing foods in categories-good, bad, and don't-even-dream-of-this-or-else-you-will-gain-any-weight-you-lost-plus-ten-extra-pounds. Consuming products that dogs wouldn't even touch, and consuming a lot of it. Images of smashing scales because we did everything right, and yet they have the nerve to tell us it's not doing a gosh darn thing.
Are your eyes misting, too??? I know mines are. It might be allergies, though…in case yours weren't, I mean.
So, just for the record, healthy does NOT equal diet. I don't care what your girlfriend at the salon told you. It rarely ever adds up.
This is what I had to keep in mind as I searched for a new way of eating. I also didn't want anything to do with counting calories. This may work for some, but counting calories does several things to me. First of all, adding or subtracting means math. And I'm an emotional eater. There are four things that make me stress eat- money, school, men, and math. I see math figures and my hands cannot grab chocolate fast enough. You don't believe me? Show me a statistics paper, tell me to do it, and see what happens. Yes, it's like THAT. Second, counting calories makes me feel like I'm missing something. I'll load up on foods low in calories, and then I'll think, "Darn, I could have had (a piece of dark chocolate, an extra cup of coffee loaded with cream and sugar, a piece of cheese, etc.) instead of this." Then I start to hate food, and then I starve. Hell hath no fury like a mama on an empty stomach. Third, I already have enough on my (time) plate to worry about. I don't exactly leap for joy debating on if the way I made my chicken for dinner counts as an entire day's worth of calories. Lastly, you have to debate on each food as being part of the "good" calories or the "bad" calories. Because whoever makes those sort of list clearly has them mixed up, anyways.
I don't want diet, and I don't enjoy counting calories. So, what do I do? I search the internet, of course! I tried looking for something that was healthy but doesn't omit anything I love. Something that doesn't leave me starving, and at the same time, doesn't leave me any chances to overeat.
Then I thought back to my teen and young adult days. I remember reading books and watching documentaries on the scary stuff that's in most of our processed foods. I remember banning fast food restaurants. I remember going vegan. I remember hating being vegan (I love bacon too much).

Should you eat bacon? All signs point to "YES!!"
  I looked back into those books, those documentaries. They always said something at the end of them. It wasn't count calories; it had nothing to do with going on a diet. It had everything to do with being more conscious of where our food comes from. And not supporting places that treat animals inhumanely, or produce their fruits and vegetables with a ton of junk. Will it make you lose weight? Possibly. Will it make you healthier? Absolutely. This is the approach I wanted to use.

This is the approach I hope to use
But, how to implement it? While I pride myself on eating more fruits and vegetables in a day than I did in a week as a child, I'm still eating the same types of fruits, vegetables and meats. I haven't expanded my palate much. Again, I searched the internet. But, surprisingly, the answer to my problem came from a site I practically live on. That site is Facebook.
Yes, Facebook. You see, I have many friends and like many pages. Some of the friends and pages I read about are homesteaders, some are organics-everything. After hearing about this wonderful little blog about a mom trying to rid herself and her family of processed foods on several of these sorts of pages, I figured, I'd better see what this woman is all about. This woman, although not trying to lose weight, looks healthy and vibrant. She talks about trying to win her kids and husband over on the changes. She shares her struggles, her triumphs, and her investigating fast food places she used to love. She has meal plans and recipes already complied. Over the past two or three weeks, I have probably visited her site more than I have Facebook. I have written down recipes, downloaded meal plans. And if I couldn't use a meal on her plan, I managed to find another website that implements the same idea. So, between the two, I have found exactly what I was looking for.

I am only making some small changes of my own, in order to reduce money spent and start using up some canned/frozen items I have managed to stockpile over the past year or so. My goal is, over the next year or two to get rid of all the canned/frozen items I accumulated and slowly replace them with more organic/local, less processed items. I would also like to start a small garden. Since I don't think my landlord will approve me gardening in their precious dirt (*rolls eyes*), I thought I would do the garden in several hanging pots. But, that, too, is another blog entry reserved for another day.
If you are trying to implement better foods in your diet, or if you just want to know a little bit more about what is in some of the foods you eat, I suggest you check out the blog and website below.
Here is the blog I mentioned-
And here is the alternative website I mentioned that implements the same idea. Even if you don't want to do the "real foods" changes, this is still a great website to check out for meal ideas to save money and find a definition of healthy that fits you best-
I hope you make time to look at both. They are very informative and offer many yummy recipes that I can't wait to try out. If you're joining me in trying to implement a healthier lifestyle/ trying to lose weight, please feel free to post any websites, books articles or videos that have helped you in your journey. Let's help each other out! J
Within the next week, I'll post another update on my family's progress towards healthy living and list the weekly menu I'm using; with the changes I've made to fit our family. If you're joining me in trying to implement a healthier lifestyle and/or trying to lose weight, please feel free to post any websites, blogs, books, articles or videos that have helped you with changes in eating and food. Let's help each other out! J

Monday, June 18, 2012

A New Season of Life, part 2: The Dreaded “E” Word

Last week, I revealed my decision to become healthier. The biggest challenge I deal with being healthy (and losing saggy boobs in areas where boobs don't belong…) would be getting and staying physically active. In other words…the dreaded "E" word. Don't you DARE say it, or else I will make you wash out your mouth with chocolate!!

Well, this past week has been a…interesting test run on keeping a mindset to stay active. I kept telling myself, if I can do it at least 3 times this week, I'll be as happy as a clam. I was all giddy about my bike purchase. I couldn't wait to try it out, feel the wind in my Ronald McDonald 'fro, and zoom past my jaw-dropped kids who, when they finally closed their mouths, mumbled to each other, "Wow, I didn't know Mama could ride like THAT!"

Guess what? I forgot one little thing…I have not stepped my wide behind on a bike in over ten years. I mean, I didn't totally forget it. It was looming in the back of my head, but not in the way realistic people think about it. It was more like, "Oh, I haven't ridden a bike in ten years…but, you know what they say, once you learn, you never forget!" That was pretty much the extent of my thinking. I was afraid of forgetting how to ride it. More importantly, since having children, I have become a bit more of a klutz in the balance department.

I didn't think about the pain. Who does when they dream up crazy notions as I often do? That's like thinking about sleep before signing up for online college, knowing the only time you'll be able to do it is when the kids are asleep. And forgetting your best thinking occurs when you're in a half-asleep state. This occurs between the hours of 12-3 in the morning.
Now you know why...
Think about pain? Uh…no. I'm still trying to remember to call all my kids by their proper name, who has time to think about pain? Well, regardless of my lack of thinking, the pain still arrived. No warning, no invitation from my body. It crept slowly alongside my bike halfway through the first day. Despite no invitation from me, Pain is rather polite. It gives you a warning (in the form of a slight burning sensation) in your muscles/fat reserves a few minutes or even up to a day before it decides to hit your body full force. My thunder thighs/wide behind certainly felt something going on that first day. But I was determined…I had a spiffy new bike! I used to LOVE to ride! I could totally rock this. The kids and I rode almost four miles that day. Once we neared the house, the Pain decided to hit me full force. It was not a pretty picture. We all had scratches on our legs. I'm almost certain we walked our bikes more than we actually rode them. One of the kids was crying. I was holding back tears. We were all sweating more than I thought humans could possibly sweat. The air conditioning could not cool us down fast enough. We could not stop drinking water. My ass HURT. I could not sit on anything that didn't have a cushion for three days without shifting and gritting my teeth in pain. If there is such a thing as hell on earth, this must surely be it- riding a bike after ten years, and not expecting to get hurt. Go ahead, laugh at my foolishness. I laughed…after the second day. My kids certainly got a good chuckle after seeing me attempt to plop down on one of the dinning room chairs only to scream like a little girl once my bum hit the(wooden, non-cushioned) seat. Not that they got that from me or anything. They didn't.

After hearing the kids whine and complain that day, I thought, maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I shouldn't have bought the bike. Maybe I expected too much from them. What if we can't keep doing this all summer…what if we can't do this one more time this week? What if they want to call it quits after such a horrible first day?
The next day (Tuesday), I decided to not bike. I could not sit on my bike without shedding tears. I felt I should be moving in some form, though. I didn't want to give myself a rest just yet. So, I woke up early, drank some coffee, and put on "The Biggest Loser: Weight Loss Yoga". If you don't think you'd like yoga, I suggest you hunt down this DVD at your local library. I did Yoga back in my late teens, and this is totally not the same.
This has been my idea of yoga for the past two years
 I won't go into details but I will say that it makes me sweat regardless of the temperature. Normal Yoga does not do that for me. Halfway through the DVD, I thought, I can't do this, I have to stop. Just as I was getting ready to hit the EJECT button, who comes out but my youngest daughter. She saw what was on the television, and with big, anime-type eyes, she asked, "Can I do it, too, Mama?"
"Can we Mama? Huh? Can we?"
Who can say no to that? So, despite my sweat and slightly sore muscles, I agreed. We finished the DVD together. As we both laid on the floor in deep relaxation, I couldn't help but thank God for my youngest and her waking up at the moment she did. That day, I asked the kids if they wanted to quit riding. To my surprise, they quickly said, "NO!" and said they couldn't wait to ride their bikes again. My, what a difference 24 hours makes!

Wednesday, the kids and I *gently* hit the bikes again. After getting a suggestion from a friend, and using an idea I said jokingly to my neighbor, I felt much more comfortable riding my bike that day. We rode to the park, and rode back home (about a mile total). The next day, we went on a field trip (which required a lot of walking…and also a lot of free food, so it canceled out all the walking.). Friday we biked the almost four miles again. My son also managed to get a hole in his tire this day, so once again we biked half way, and he and I walked the remaining way. I worried about this, because I was not sure how much it would cost to fix and when I would have the money needed to get it fixed. I prayed for some way to come up with the money needed. Saturday we stayed home and cleaned/re-arranged my living room (if you don't think this counts as a workout, then clearly, you have never seen my house!). Today, I thought we were going to walk back home from church, but a family from church decided to surprise my son with a new tire for his bike, complete with installation(and transportation home). Talk about a blessing! Thank you, God!

So, what I have learned this week? First off, I am no spring chicken. I can't just jump into physical activity, even with the best of intentions, and not expect pain. Second, I have to start taking a bit more seriously what I put in my mouth. Third, despite the pain and slight complaining, I really did enjoy biking this week. I even felt the urge to do it on a resting day, but I resisted the urge. I don't want to keep pushing myself until I'm exhausted and end up hating it.
What about you? Have you started to add small bits of physical activity in your routine? What form of exercise is your favorite? Why? Don't feel shy-share!
Until next time…

Monday, June 11, 2012

A New Season of Life!

For quite some time, I have been hinting around on my Facebook page that something exciting is going to happen. Well, it may or not be exciting to you, but it certainly is very exciting to our family.
But first, the bad news.... Did you really think I was going to tell you the good stuff so soon?! Of course not.

*Gulp!* This is my current(biggest) weight..there it is, for all to see...

The bad news is, I'm fat. I no longer fall under the categories of cubby, big boned, thick and/or solid. I'm fat. I have myself to move beyond my "normal" weight, I haven't seen my high school weight since, well, high school and I am past all my pregnancy weights. Did you hear that? I am carrying more now than I did when I had a watermelon-sized child in my uterus.
And unfortunately, I'm not one of those women that seem to carry their weight well. I do know these type of women, they weight is distributed evenly all over their body, and by today's standard, their overweight, but they carry it so well you wish you could be them. Or maybe these women just have a better wardrobe than I do. Whatever.
Anyways, I'm fat. And not just that- I'm sloppy fat. Remember that woman I mentioned above? Well I'm her bipolar sister. My fat is there, but it just sort of hangs there. Like floppy boobs. Not too many people like floppy boobs. Imagine having floppy boobs on your arms, your stomach, you upper legs, and a little floppy boob under your chin…and that's me. And at first they were small floppy boobs, but now…they're ginormous floppy boobs hanging out every which way, minus the breastfeeding abilities. It's come to a point where I'm uncomfortable in my own skin- and I hate it. I hate the fact that I've allowed my body to have this much added weight. I hate the fact that I am too tired half the time to do anything productive with my kids. I hate the fact that I can't go up a few steps without feeling like I'm going to fall over in exhaustion. I hate that if I stand too long, my hips and back start to cry out in pain (because of having to support all my weight).

Can you tell I hate this additional fat that has attached itself to my body?

But, after taking a health and wellness class, seeing both my parents die before reaching 60 due to weight-related issues that could have been prevented and this *uncomfortable
feeling* I can't shake, I finally decided something's got to give. And no, it will not be my non-stretchy pants.
Okay, now that I've depressed you to the point where you want to grab a bag of chocolates and cry yourself to sleep (oh, wait, maybe that's only me…).

Since I can't do this...

Now, are you ready for the good news? Okay, here it is. After much debate and semi-thought (And comparison shopping a bit, of course!)This is the first idea I came up with…
My new, pimped out ride
   Ta-da! I got a bike! This is big news for me. I haven't owned a bike since I was 13. That was also the last time I saw a normal weight. After that, I was either transported everywhere thanks to my dad, kind neighbors and the public transportation system. I rarely walked. And, ever since becoming a homeschooling mom, my activity has been even more limited due to trying(and re-trying) to finish "doing it all" in a day. I've really let myself go. Well, no more!
All of my children have bikes. I wanted a bike, and now I have one. I not only have a way of losing weight, but I also have a way of getting around(locally) without being a hindrance to anyone. I'm getting the dreaded "E" word without it feeling like the dreaded "E" word. I used to love to bike. My kids love to bike. And now, I have no excuses (aside from bad weather, of course).
I'm going to start small. Right now, my goal is getting back into the habit of biking and getting comfortable biking. Not to lose weight. Yet.
Next time I blog, I'm going to share several additional resources that I hope to use over the course of the summer to get myself more accustomed to healthy eating. Most of them are free. All are super-exciting to me J
I didn't intend on making this blog into a weight-loss blog. I probably never will. This blog is about the life of my family. The seasons in it, all seasons. No, I do not intend on talking about my weight/healthy eating/physical activity forever. This is a season of life that I hope to share with all of you. I'm not saying it will be beautiful, because going against old habits never is. It's going to raw. It might have some curse words in it. I may type while crying. I may end up selling this bike on Craig's list and buying some bigger clothes with the money once I can't take the pain anymore.
Regardless, I'm going to try. And, just like when I started online college, I am telling everyone I know so that I can be held accountable. You don't have to cheer me on. All I ask is that you read the blog when I post. Even better, share it on your social networking sites, so I know someone out there is reading this. If you want to throw a comment of encouragement on here or on my Facebook page, or do 21 questions about my changes, even better! I welcome all comments.
Here's to a new season of life- a healthier one!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Feeling a Bit Discouraged

I don't know how or why it's happened, but lately, I've been feeling a bit discouraged. I can't seem to go at my work for school with the same "oomph" that I had before, I'm almost certain I'm failing my first English class(not exactly great when I'm a communications major!). I've been sort of fudging my work up until now, doing late-night cram sessions to get what's required of me completed but never really allowing any of it to sink in, take notes or do anything that would be considered actual learning. If either of my classes did a pop-quiz on what we learned thus far, I'm almost certain I'd fail. No, that "almost" wasn't really necessary. I don't know what's going on with me lately! I used to enjoy it, but now I borderline get a panic attack whenever I enter the classroom. I started taking naps before I do my classwork, so I could stay later to finish it all up. Now, I'm taking naps to avoid doing the work at all. And I'm so mad at myself…I prayed and prayed for so long to have this chance…and here I am, throwing it away, in the first semester. I don't understand what I expected it to be like, and I really thought passing my first set of classes would show I was ready for this…and I do want my degree, really I do! But I guess I'm allowing a lot more other things to get in the way again... such as other sorrows and disappointments. That really has nothing to do with school.

One of my friends on Facebook recently separated from her husband. The woman was practically a saint in my eyes (not that she set out to be a saint in anyone's eyes or anything; I just admired her commitment to her family). She was very dedicated to her children, she stayed at home, and she had a military husband. But, she left because he threatened to kill her. He had multiple affairs. While I understand her position, and I support her decision…I don't like who she has become since then. She basically parties every weekend, I hardly hear mention of her kids on Facebook anymore…it's just "me, me, me". What does this have to do with me? Well, I see her (on Facebook) and I get a little jealous. How come I couldn't be that woman? How come I can't be that woman? I want to party and get drunk! I want to have several potential men to consider once I'm ready to heal past my hurts. She is so full of life, and that's why I love her, but…now her postings are making me re-evaluate everything. I comment sometimes out of fun. One of her friends actually friended me. It's all fun and games (and the occasional "bitter because ex husband sucks") on her page. And a part of me wants to unfriend her, because I don't like what I see anymore. But, I figure, she's just getting stuff out of her system. She was married very young, never really had time to party and be a wild young adult. I guess I understand that.

But what about me? I mean, a part of me wants sooo badly to for just once go out to a club and be someone else. Wear questionable clothes. Dance with other people aside from my kids, or all by myself as I do the dishes and listen to country music on the radio. Not that I can actually dance or anything…honestly, I can't. But I would like the chance to laugh it off with friends in the club. I want to get sloppy drunk…soo drunk I regret it the next day. I want to think thoughts and do things other than the stereotypical mom thing. Wash, clean, school, homeschool, church, pray, sing, eat…repeat. However, unlike her, I do not have some person I can just say, "Watch my kids so I can go and have some adult fun!" People have offered in the past to watch my kids "whenever I need a break…just let them know!*cue smiley face*" like, fucking A, I'm a single mom, I ALWAYS NEED A FUCKING BREAK. Shouldn't everyone know that?!One mother is attempting to do the work of two parents…doesn't that sort of scream, "Give this woman a break"?! Don't mention watching my kids in passing; just TELL me you're watching my kids one day. I'll argue, I'll say, "I couldn't do that to you!"…but in the end, I will probably kiss you for doing so. I would NEVER intentionally ask for a break, because I feel like, I made my (single mom) bed, so I have to lie in it, too. Yes, I could have easily stayed with the children's fathers and had the "support" that supposedly comes with it, but I chose not to. Either way, I'd feel stuck. I wouldn't be able to party.

At the same time, I know myself well enough to know…I could never be that woman. Not that I'm holier than thou or anything, because I'm not! It's just I know my family history with drinking and "wildin' out" and I really don't want to go down that road. We have way too many drug addicts in my family to think it could be just a "co-incidence". It's practically in our bloodstream, as many in our family that have done it! Plus, the scars of my father's death are still fresh. He died of cancer to the liver. What helped spark that cancer? His I-don't-know-how-many-years of drinking. Plus, his how-many-cigarette's-did-he-smoke-in-a-day habit. I just…can't. It's still too raw.


Plus, I keep reminding myself…I choose this path. I choose to homeschool, leave the fathers of my children, have babies instead of simply "having a good time", and leave college when I had more than enough brains to complete it. God has brought me through the bad, and I'm at the point where I can see how far he's brought me. And I'm thankful, I'm so, so thankful God has allowed me to see past myself and my sins and put me in a place where I can proudly say, "I homeschool", "I'm a single mother", "I attend college".

But, of course, I'm in the midst of all this. I don't see the outcome; I simply see the here and now. And I see that there are people who are living in "the ways of the world" and I can't help but look a little longingly at their life. No, I don't know if they'll become addicted to drugs, develop a cancer later on in life, or simply get to their thirties and be perfectly okay and normal. Heck, I don't even know where I'll be at thirty (holy snot…that's only four more years away! *GULP*). I pray I'm better off than I am today, right now. Right now, I guess, I'm in a crossroads of some kind. I have to decide if I'm going to keep pressing on (not knowing the results) or stay put in predictability. Will I continue to wonder, "what if?" if I fail, will I give up, or will I keep going? Will I get my associates, and move onto my bachelors? Will I keep afloat long enough to finish the two classes I'm currently enrolled in? Will I trust that God has blessed me with this chance, to better my life, or am I running into a brick wall of "I should do this, no matter what"? Will I really have the life I keep seeing in my dreams, one where I'm able to be a SAHM to many, married to a wonderful man, on a farm, writing books to earn my keep? Or will I be pushing forward alone, for the rest of my life? Will I turn out to be the bitter old woman who is a "Debbie Downer" when everyone else's life is going great, or will I allow myself to completely trust that God has something greater for me, even though I don't see so much as a hint of it right now? Will I, can I ever find a way to find a man who is my "happily ever after" man, or am I doomed to be the pay for the sins of my past, by being single forever? Can I do all that I hope to do, or am I no better than those before me, who gave up too soon to see the fruits of their labor?

I don't know. I have doubts, I have lost some faith. With each day that I don't see a hint of my dreams come to play, I walk a little bit farther away from the Lord. I know this is wrong. I know I should be clinging to him, trusting him instead. I know this distance I feel in my life is from me walking away, not from God walking away from me. I know all this uncertainty (or at least a great deal of it) would go away if I simply, completely trusted him and his plan for my life. I should be at the point in my faith walk that I can move mountains. But often days, I feel like I'm barely blowing sand.

I feel lonely, I feel like I'm walking in circles in vain. And I keep hearing, "oh, well, if you would just love up on God more, you wouldn't feel so lonely (without a husband)." Guess who says such lofty things? Idiots who are already married! Do they have ANY idea how long I have sought God with all of my heart, abandoned many times over the notion of looking for love, had faith beyond what I thought I ever could, tried to(fast, pray, read the Word, attend church, etc.) give my all to God, and still felt this way?! I have come to the conclusion that God does NOT put such feelings in people to torture them. He puts them in there in the same sort of way he had a longing in his own heart when he created man, "it is not good for man to live alone". He created us to have a deep down, pressing need for love. First, it was for him, but once we have that, we have the need to show (in our best effort) that love to others. Some are single, and are meant to be single. But, if I were meant to be single, I don't think I would continually have this deep within my soul longing for a husband, for additional family (children). I have prayed many times for him to take it away. He has not. I don't know if it's a punishment for having sex outside of what he intended, but I seriously doubt it. The God the New Testament points to shows a more loving God, a more forgiving God. I hate to think he would be as bitter as humans are when it comes to past transgressions…I prefer to think that he has placed this longing in my heart because he intends to fill it, with the right person. No, a person in any form cannot replace the love of the Creator. But he/she can enhance it. I would hate to think God has allowed me to go so far, only to be the only one to see the amazing view. I long for companionship, I long for…

I long for acceptance, for love. I long for someone to relate to on a soul level. I long for someone to love me, flaws and all. And not walk away when I tell them to go.

In all honesty, do I want the life my friend is living? No. I don't want to be at the club, drinking, partying like there is no tomorrow. I can't dance, and I'm almost certain I'd be a horrible drunk. I don't want to be the loser that never finishes school. I don't want to be the person who ends up hating God and questioning the years. I don't want to be the person who slowly goes insane because of her refusal to give up on pointless notions. I see who I am today, and I HATE it. I don't want to be the same person I am today a year from now. I want to be so totally different that no one will ever believe it when I say, "that was once me…" Will I get to that point? I don't know. Will I try my best to avoid it?

Only God will know.

But, for now, I have to move beyond my doubts and actually try somehow to get something done for school. If I don't bunker down and TRY, I know then today will be the day I fail. I'm going to try. I'm going to try.

I'm getting a panicky feeling inside....and a little nauseous. But…I'm going…to…try.