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Throwback Thursday: Happy Magic Marker [June 18, 2013]

I have a habit of finding television shows and watching them through from beginning to end. I’ve done it with The Golden Girls/The Golden Palace (many, many times), Pokemon, Boy Meets World, and more. My current obsession is The Facts of Life.

There’s one scene in particular that Nick at Nite used in its old advertisements for the show. It comes from a season one episode where several of the girls are going on diets to lose a few extra pounds. One of the girls, Cindy, asks Natalie if she would join the others in dieting to become “pencil-thin.” Natalie refuses: “Who wants to be a skinny pencil? I’d rather be a happy magic marker.”

Now, Natalie’s character was known for being overweight (later on, they had to dress Mindy Cohn in baggy clothes because she lost weight due to a new love of dancing; it was their way of compromising the situation).

However, I don’t feel like that comment was the character advertising that she wanted to stay fat.

Pencils are thin, dull instruments of writing. I cannot recall the last time I used a pencil. It was probably for a Scantron test in school. That’s all I ever use pencils: for filling in test bubbles.

Sure, they do have “fat” pencils, but those are generally reserved for young children who are just learning to write. I find it interesting that they were comparing thin people with pencils. After all, isn’t the general view on weight that a little baby fat is acceptable on a young child?

A young child uses fatter pencils, but grows up to use skinny ones.
A young child has a little bit of baby fat, but is expected to grow out of it and be thin as a teenager/adult.

The thing is, when people hear that line from The Facts of Life, they seem to come to one conclusion:

Pencils= thin
Markers= fat.

There’s a significant flaw in that thought process, however. Have you been down the Crayola aisle at the store lately? Markers come in all sizes. Thin and thick. Some markers are short, and others that are tall. Some markers have points meant for drawing and coloring, while others simply have little stamps on the end. Some markers are seemingly useless, but a new color will appear when you color over another marker. There are even markers that will only show their true colors if you use them on particular paper and wait a moment.

How is that such a bad thing? All of the markers have the same purpose: to make art. Some might be better for simple coloring on scrap paper, some might be better suited for decorating a t-shirt, and there are even some that only show their true colors among the company of certain other markers or using special paper.

That’s not much unlike us. We all have a calling to do something, but different people shine in different areas. Some of us don’t really shine unless we are in a certain environment, or with the right people, and that’s okay.

We come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. We all have a different purpose and work best in different environments. Meanwhile, the media is trying to get us to conform to some bizarre concept of “beauty” where we are all walking skeletons. Talents and personalities do not matter as long as you fit the image. When taking a scantron test, it doesn’t matter what color your pencil is- just as long as it’s a number 2 pencil [Why is it called the number 2? Who uses any other kind?] It’s just like putting a different color dress on each member group of identical, size 00 fashion models. It means nothing.

Why be like a boring, skinny pencil that’s best used for a generic “one-size-fits-all” test when you have the option of being a happy magic maker?

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Goldilocks: The Problem with WW

It seems like every few days, someone comes online and posts some rant complaining that WW is too low in calories. People start double tracking on MyFitnessPal or LoseIt, or leave WW and start using iTrackBites with their secondary metric and see that they’re barely eating 1,000 calories a day. They don’t understand why their calories are so low, and they’re quick to blame WW and not their own food choices.

I’ve never had that problem- at least, not on SmartPoints. In fact, even on the Green Plan, where there aren’t as many zero point foods, I’ve struggled with eating too many calories.

That’s where the problem with WW lies.

I’ve talked before about how there’s very little correlation between calories and points on SmartPoints. If I eat 30 points of chicken breast, that’s over 2,000 calories. That same 30 SmartPoints can also give me a 640 calorie Bundtlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Of course, nobody is going to only eat chicken or cake for a day, but it illustrates the root of the problem. It’s possible to be “perfectly” on plan- at least, according to the numbers on your tracker- and be way over or way under a reasonable calorie target.

In the past, this wasn’t as much of an issue (though, I’d say the old Points System teetered on being a little too low in calories). On Points, a point was approximately 50-100 calories. On PointsPlus, it was 40-80. On SmartPoints? I’ve seen as low as 16 calories per point and as high as over 200. That’s a pretty big range.

In WW, we’re taught to trust the plan. Track the food, stay in your points, and trust the plan. After all, WW is based on the latest science when it comes to nutrition and weight loss.

And I’m not denying that- to an extent. After all, most of us could afford to eat more protein and less sugar.

However, at the end of the day, we still have a program where some people are eating too little while being told, “remember that 0 point foods have calories!” Some people are taking full advantage of those same 0 point foods and overeating. It’s Goldilocks. Some are eating too much. Some are eating too little. Some just happen to be eating just the right amount.

SmartPoints isn’t self-regulating. There’s nothing in the app telling members if they’re eating too much or too little beyond the very unreliable SmartPoints system.

This is a problem.

WW has created a system that people trust to help them healthily lose weight, and I believe it can be that system, but not without some changes.

I think WW needs to start incorporating a calorie target into the app. Specifically, it needs to be a reasonable calorie range that considers the member’s age, weight, height, biological sex, and activity level. With WW discouraging the use of FitPoints (which I understand, to an extent), they basically say that I should eat the same amount of food as someone who is a complete badass when it comes to lifting weights and working out. That’s just wrong.

The goal should be to utilize your daily, weekly, and FitPoints (if necessary)- along with your zero point foods- to hit that calorie range. It’ll be up to you to figure out what works best for you (which is the whole point of SmartPoints anyway- this just makes it more transparent).

Will it happen? I doubt it. That’s one of the reasons I love that iTrackBites doesn’t allow you to follow Better Balance (the equivalent to WW Blue) without a Pro Membership. The pro membership also gives you the ability to track a secondary metric: macros or calories. Sure, you can opt-out of using it, but it’s available for everyone on Better Balance.

That’s the first step in improving this major flaw in the WW SmartPoints system. It’s not the only thing that needs to be fixed. People need to be educated on metabolic adaptation. We need to stop pushing this idea that 1,200 calories a day is appropriate for most adults. 

But we can start by fixing the Goldilocks issue with SmartPoints and making people aware of how much they’re eating.

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Uncertainty and Changing Plans

I’ve been second-guessing my decision to track SmartPoints.

I know. It’s been two weeks. Actually, it’s been less than two weeks.

Yet, I’m having some doubts.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not second-guessing my decision to step away from calorie counting and track points/bites. I am absolutely 100% committed to that decision. Admittedly, letting go of some of that control is hard, but it is worth it. I would rather have a little uncertainty over the exact number of calories consumed if it means not needing to pull out my food scale or tracker as often.

However, I’m not sure that I went back into the right plan.

I love SmartPoints. While I think there are good things to say about all of the SmartPoints plans, Green has always been my happy place. It’s a very livable plan for me.

So, why would I give that up?

Unfortunately, as much as I love Green, the plan isn’t without its flaws. The biggest drawback is that even with the smaller list of zero-point foods (compared to Blue and Purple), there isn’t much of a correlation between points and calories. 30 SmartPoints of chicken and 30 SmartPoints of cake have a very different calorie count.

I don’t plan on being in weight loss mode very long. Eventually, I’m going to take another break. I’m not sure when that’s going to be. I’m also not sure how I’m going to do it. I understand that reverse dieting involves gradually increasing my daily calories week by week until I hit maintenance. I’m just unsure if I’ll be mentally ready to count calories by the time I’m prepared to switch.

Trying to gradually increase my daily SmartPoints is likely to have mixed results simply because the calories don’t line up with the points.

They do with PointsPlus.

The closer correlation between PointsPlus and calories isn’t the only reason I’m considering a switch. Protein is another factor. When I weigh my food out in grams, it’s difficult for me to “see” portion sizes. Since protein lowers the SmartPoints value, I can easily overeat something like chicken breast. On PointsPlus, most lean protein follows a 1 point per ounce guideline. If I have a 12pp portion of chicken, I should probably cut it in half.

I also can’t forget that I stopped tracking SmartPoints in June for a reason. On both PointsPlus and SmartPoints, most of what I eat is the same points. Now, there are some differences, of course, but they balance out. My chicken is a point lower on SmartPoints, but the teaspoon of ghee is a point higher. Unless I have a day where I have some extra sweet treats, things even out. I don’t eat sweets every day. Over a week, I get more points on SmartPoints than PointsPlus. So, the fact that the points for most of my meals balance out is relatively significant.

It sounds like I’ve made up my mind. I haven’t. I feel like I should stick it out a little longer before I switch plans again. After all, I like what I’m doing now. Is this just “the grass is always greener” syndrome? Am I doing this because I’m frustrated that the scale hasn’t shown much movement over the past two weeks, and I think a new plan will kickstart my weight loss?

The latter is definitely a factor in my thought process, but I know that cannot be why I decide to switch plans. Chasing after the plan that gives the quickest results doesn’t work.

That’s why, despite wanting a plan where points and calories are more aligned, I’m not looking at trying the old Points plan. I know that’s not a sustainable plan for me.

At the end of the day, I just need to make a decision. If I decide to switch to PointsPlus tomorrow and am completely miserable, I can always switch back after the week. My goal is to stay in my daily and weekly points. Switching plans doesn’t change that.

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Tending List: January 2021

2020 is almost over!

Can we get an “Amen?!”

I’m currently writing to the squeak of my Cubii because I’d rather not be pacing my room at 10 pm tonight trying to get my steps in. I don’t have anywhere I need to go today, so I’m saving on gas and staying home. Unfortunately, without going shopping or running errands, getting my steps in is a challenge. I know the Cubii doesn’t replace a workout, but at least I’m moving.

Even though the new year is still a few days away, I’ve already started on my January 2021 Tending List. I debated starting my new year this week or next week. I like Monday starts. Ultimately, I decided to start yesterday because it coincided with the start date of my beautiful, new Erin Condren LifePlanner. 

This tending list is a little different than the few I filled out for 2020. For one thing, I hardly have any daily action items/habits. One of my 2021 goals is to create a habit blanket where I track my consistency in completing 20-26 daily habits. Since I have a habit tracker in my Erin Condren planner, I wanted to dedicate my Powersheets to things I want to work on short-term but don’t necessarily want to commit myself to do for the year or beyond. 

That being said, here are my January 2021 Powersheets Goals:

Monthly Action Items

Read This Year I Will by MJ Ryan

This is the Diva and the Divine Book Club book selection for January, so this is the one book I must read during the month. That being said, it’s not the only book I plan on reading. Do I have a specific reading list? No. I just pan on reading more than one book during the next five weeks. (We can overlook the fact that I still haven’t finished the December book, The Power of When. I’m slowly working my way through it, but I’ll be honest: I’m having the hardest time focusing. It’ll get done though.)

Switch all banking to Simple

I’m not 100% switching all of my banking to my Simple account, but this was the best phrasing I thought to use. One of my main 2021 goals is to get my finances in check. I paid off a lot of debt in 2020, but I still have a long way to go.

I have a Capital One savings and credit card account that I’ve become a little to dependent on. I have some automatic payments scheduled to come out of the savings account, and I’ve been a little too spend-crazy with the credit card. It’s made it increasingly difficult for me to keep track of where my money is going, so I’m in the process of transitioning everything over so I’m only using my Simple account. I’m utilizing Simple’s Expenses features and Good Budget to start somewhat of a “cash envelope” system. In the mean time, I’ve locked my credit card (so I can’t be billed for any more reoccurring charges while I transfer and cancel subscriptions). 

Return Amazon Packages

There’s really not much to say about this one. I have a few Amazon purchases that I need to return. I just need to go out and take care of them. Right now, the plan is to have the money refunded to my Amazon account balance to help cover my next Subscribe and Save order of supplements. 

Schedule a video call with a friend I haven’t seen in over a year

One of my closest friends moved away last year and the last time we spoke was in March on her eldest’s Birthday. I want to make sure I send a little more time interacting with people outside of my household. Obviously, COVID makes that difficult, but to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t very social pre-pandemic either. Having little to no social interaction outside of my household members, who can be toxic at times, has been rough. While I still can’t spend time with friends in person, I can find other ways to spend time cultivating relationships that matter. 

Create a new copy of my resume

I’ve been out of work since July and I’m having no luck finding work. One of my main goals for January is to fix up my resume. I’ve already reached out for some help in this area becasue,currently, my resume isn’t getting any kind of results. 

Get my flu shot

Prorastination at its finest. I know I should’ve gotten it done a couple months ago, but I just keep putting it off. Last year was the first year I even bothered getting one- after getting the flu twice in two months. I’ll get it done, and maybe it’ll be on a fall tending list in 2021 like it should be. 

Schedule an appointment for a physical

I currently don’t have a primary care physician. I’m one of those “go to the doctor only if sick” people- and even then, I only go because prescriptions are covered by insurance and I an’t always afford over the counter medicine. When sick, however, I generally just go to my local urgent care center. 

It’s been years since my last physical, and I’m not really sure my last physical really counted. It was mainly just getting a TB test for a daycare job. I don’t think I’ve had a proper physical since I was a child. 

Schedule an eye exam

My last eye exam was about three or four years ago, so I’m definitely overdue. I’ve felt, for the past year or so, that my glasses aren’t quite doing their job. Now, lot of that may be because some of the special coatings are chipping away, but I’m also wondering if I need a new prescription. I don’t plan on purchasing new glasses or contacts this month, but I know getting the prescription is the first step. 

Weekly Action Items

Stay in Daily and Weekly Points/Bites

If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that I am back to tracking SmartPoints through the iTrackBites app. My goal here is fairly simple. As long as the numbe of weekly bites I have left on Sunday after I brush my teeth is 0 or higher, I get a checkmark. 

Weekly Clean

While one of my daily habits is to tidy every night, once a week, I like to take a little extra time to clean. I’ll wipe down surfaces, sweep/mop my bedroom floor, and just take care of a few things that don’t necessarily get done during my nightly tidy. Every other week, my weekly clean also involves washing my bedding.

LIIFT 4 Workouts

While the plan is to do some kind of activity every single day, my main priority is doing LIIFT 4 Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. I just restarted the program yesterday after a solid month and a half of being lazy and eating like a jerk and I’m feeling it. 

Attend Church (Online)

I haven’t been keeping up with church attendance during the pandemic. You’d think I’d love online church, but I don’t. I hate it. I don’t feel connected watching a pre-recorded sermon- especially when I’m watching a sermon at a church I’ve never atteneded. Unfortunately, that’s just the world I’m living in right now, so I’m going to have to suck it up and devote that time on Sundays. 

I may also be using this time as an opportunity to church shop, but we’ll see how that goes.

Claim Unemployment

I’ve been pretty bad at logging in to claim my weekly unemployment benefits. I get to them eventually, but Iwant to make more of an effort to claim them during my first claim window instead of waiting until the weekend. Ideally, this will mean I’ll get my direct deposit on a consistent schedule which will, in turn, make budgeting either.

Daily Action Items

No Spend

I’m on a five week no spend challenge that will end no sooner than the first of February. Now, I’m not completely cutting out all spending. However, I’m limiting myself to groceries from Aldi or the Farmer’s Market. gas, pre-scheduled expenses (like my Subscribe and Save order), and a couple specific exceptions (if I run out of coffee, I can go to Starbucks and pick up a bag, but I can’t grab a frappcino or iced tea). This will give me an opportunity to fill my expense “envelopes.” 

Shapa Weigh-In (AM and PM)

This may be a permanent goal for 2021, but I didn’t want to put it on my habit tracker because there’s also a chance I’ll decide to take another scale break at some point. I recently got a new Shapa numberless scale that I’m using to track my progress now that I’m back trying to lose weight. (I’m still not ready to see the number; I just want to know if my weight is going in the right direction).  Since I haven’t been in the habit of weighing in, I’ve added both my morning and evening weigh ins to my Powersheets while I get into the routine. 

That’s it. It feels weird only having two daily items on here, but it makes sense with the extensive list of daily habits in my habit tracker already. Perhaps I’ll share those daily habits (and my Habit Blanket project) in another blog post. 

There’s no saying what 2021 has in store, but I know I’m getting myself off to the right start.

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Back to my Happy Place

I’m going back to the WW Green plan on Monday.

Well, ok, that’s only half-true. I’m going to be following the same plan, but I’m not rejoining WW. The drama surrounding the company is undoubtedly a factor, but it’s not the only reason. I still don’t want to deal with weigh-ins and the pressure of Lifetime that led me to leave almost 6 months ago. Plus, I’m already an iTrackBites pro member. I can’t justify paying $500 a year for a plan that I’m currently getting for $18—[Note: I joined iTrackBites during a promotional period and got locked into a discounted rate].

I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about this decision. It seems to me that this year, a lot of people are moving away from counting points. While I, personally, never struggled with under-eating on SmartPoints, I know many people eat too few calories. (But that’s something I’ll rant about another day). Even I jumped on the calorie counting bandwagon. I started with double-tracking both calories and Points (both SmartPoints and PointsPlus). Then, I transitioned to counting calories.

The truth is, calorie counting isn’t right for me. I know losing weight (or fat, rather) is a matter of calories in and calories out. It’s a mental thing. When I count calories, I get obsessive. I have a scale that weighs and measures down to a tenth of a gram. I don’t track “one scoop” of protein powder. I will track 31.3 grams.

I know it’s my own fault. I’m the one doing it. It’s why I burn out on calorie counting.

Last fall and winter, I was killing it. Lately, however, I’ve been struggling with consistency. I keep self-sabotaging- all while desperately wanting to be back in the same place I was a year ago.

I left SmartPoints because I started putting too much pressure on the number on the scale. My weight loss slowed down, and I got distracted. I started experimenting, and my consistency in staying on plan suffered.

Lately, however, I stopped caring about the number on the scale. I haven’t weighed myself in months. I imagine the number on the scale has gone up; I feel like it’s gone up. That doesn’t really matter, though. I’m not frustrated with the scale. I’m frustrated because I feel like, no matter what I do, I struggle to stay consistent. I stay on track for a few days to a few weeks. Then, I self-sabotage. I eat like a jerk. I stop tracking.

And the entire time, I yell at myself: “Do it anyway! You don’t eat like a jerk! Stop it!”

Yet, it’s not enough. I keep ignoring myself. I don’t know why.

So, I decided to really look at things. What was going on the last time I truly felt in control? What was I doing the last time I was consistent for an extended period?

SmartPoints. I wasn’t looking at calories. I was just following the WW Green Plan, and I absolutely loved it. I wasn’t perfect by any means (though, what is perfect?) I still had days where I made less than ideal choices. However, I always got right back on track immediately after. An indulgent dessert with lunch was followed by a simple dinner of protein and vegetables. I rarely spiraled out of control as I do now.

So, I’m stepping away from the meticulous stress of calorie counting. I’m going back to not weighing and measuring every morsel of food I eat. I’m keeping secondary metrics turned off for now. I won’t be tracking my zero point foods with precision. I don’t see a need to weigh my protein powder when I can have just under a scoop and a half for 1sp. I probably won’t measure my coffee creamer anymore. (A quarter cup of NutPods is 1 point, and I know I don’t use that much). 

I’m still taking a break from the number on the scale. However, I am going back to weigh-ins on Monday. I cashed in the money I earned using the WayBetter App and ordered a Shapa scale. I want to see whether or not the scale is going up or down. Right now, my goal is to see the number go down, but not gaining is my top priority. In a few months, I’ll reassess. Maybe I’ll slowly increase my points and reverse back into maintenance. Perhaps I’ll go back to counting calories again.

For now, I’m just going back to my happy place.

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Self-Sabotage

I’m self-destructing and part of me doesn’t even care.

My bedroom is a disaster. I haven’t worked out in days. I’ve been eating like a total jerk.

Should I stop? Probably. Will I? I don’t plan on it.

These last few days have been chaotic. What started as a simple project to replace some bathroom tiles and fix a loose toilet turned into an entire bathroom remodel. Turns out, there was a lot of neglected damage. It might not have been so bad if the issues were fixed sooner, but they were left to sit for years. There has to be some kind of lesson in that.

We’ve been without a toilet in our house since Friday. We may or may not have running water. Our living room and kitchen is piled up with stuff from the construction. I can’t cook, clean, work out, or anything. In fact, I basically can’t do anything except stay confined to my, very messy, bedroom when I’m home. Otherwise, I’ll just be in the way.

I stopped setting my alarm or trying to get to bed at a decent hour. Instead, at 9:30, I head to the local Target a mile away to make one last bathroom run for the night. Then, I stay up late in hopes that I’ll make it until 7am when the grocery store opens.

I’ve been spending most of my time at Starbucks these last few days. Fortunately, they’re open for indoor dining, but it is a little awkward. Unfortunately, my body isn’t quite used to drinking so much green tea. Plus, not being able to cook or clean isn’t exactly the best on my budget. If I had enough warning, I’d be able to at least pack lunches, but I wasn’t exactly prepared. So, I’ve been relying on fast food, meals at Starbucks, and grabbing packaged food from the grocery store. I haven’t been in my calorie goal since Thursday.

I honestly can’t say I’ve hit any one of my goals this week. I haven’t had water in days. I stopped doing my morning routine entirely. LIIFT4 is over. Who knows how many calories I’ve eaten today? I stopped tracking yesterday.

It’s self-sabotage. I know it is.

I’m being completely inflexible. I shouldn’t let something like not having access to a toilet, kitchen, or workout space slow me down.

But I am. I totally am.

And even though I am aware of what I’m doing, it’s not making much of a difference. I know I should at least do what I can do, but at this point, I just don’t care anymore.

Why am I like this?

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Just Another Blog Post…. but this one has Cat Pictures!

I’m feeling anxious today.

I’m not sure why. I’m pretty sure it’s not because of the election drama or anything like that. It certainly doesn’t help, but I’m not exactly thrilled with either of the possible results this year. I just woke up with this incredibly anxious, uneasy feeling. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling, but it has been a while since I’ve dealt with it. Oh, the joys of having multiple anxiety disorders!

I got up, had my coffee, finished week 4, day 3 of LIIFT4, followed by a 2 mile Walk at Home walk.

Breakfast was a smoothie made with chocolate protein powder, acacia fiber, creatine, collagen peptides, kale, cauliflower, and carrots. With it, I had a Pecan RxBar (nothing to write home about) and some of the frozen yogurt bark I made. The yogurt bark was just 2% plain Fage with honey mixed in, spread on a cookie sheet, and topped with fresh berries and Target’s Good and Gather Salted Chocolate Grain-Free Granola before freezing.

To be perfectly honest, I really just wanted the yogurt bark and/or RxBar, but I like a little more protein to start off my day. So, I decided to steal an idea from Brianna and have a chocolate protein shake on the side. I just bumped things up a bit by adding in the fiber powder and some veggies. Usually, I don’t use flavored protein powder for smoothies, but I figured there’s nothing wrong with doing it occasionally. Besides, I was initially just going to mix the powders together and call it a day. Adding greens just took it a step further.

Anyway, after I finished my breakfast, I went out to run a few errands. I took one of my cats out for a trip to a couple pet stores. He was a little clingy when we first got into the car, but he calmed down once I started driving. The hardest part was holding onto him in the parking lot. Once indoors, he was a lot calmer. Don’t be fooled, however! This is the same cat that likes to bolt out the front door and bully the neighbors’ dogs.

Unfortunately, social distancing when you bring a cat into a store is extra challenging, but I’m ok with that. Simba certainly enjoys meeting people. I’m tempted to take him out more. I would love to take him out right now. It’s just the kind of crazy, impulsive thing I do when I’m feeling anxious. (I’ve also shaved my head and gotten my ears pierced, so this is tame in comparison).

I ran half of my errands with Simba in tow, then took him home and stopped at Target and the grocery store to take care of everything else I needed to do to check one of the monthly items off my Powersheets. I’m incredibly excited about checking this one off.

I’m at 12,000 steps right now. I still need to clean up my workout set-up from this morning: roll up my mat and put away the pile of dumbbells I used. I think I use a more extensive variety of weights on shoulder day than any other day. I think, when it comes to upper body, shoulder day might be my least favorite.

I also need to straighten up the kitchen and tidy my room. It’s a little messy right now. Nothing terrible; I just have some things scattered around from one of my to-do list items. Usually, the goal is to tidy before I go to bed, but tonight is book club night, so I need to get it cleaned up before that. Actually, book club tonight is a good thing when it comes to me getting things done.

I think I need to start a load of laundry as well. I might be able to put it off until tomorrow, but I should probably just do it today. Is 4 pm too early to shower and put on pajamas?

Yikes! 4 pm?! Well, I definitely need to get moving. I have to make sure the living room and kitchen are cleaned up before anyone else gets home. I’ve been pretty good about cleaning up my messes in those shared spaces (even cleaning up around or for other people), but the one time I leave a spoon in the sink for longer than 20 seconds, I don’t hear the end of it.

Hopefully, this gnawing feeling of anxiety subsides soon. It’s the worst!

Take care, everyone!

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Random Thoughts

I skipped my cup of coffee this morning.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy my morning cup. I absolutely do! I just woke up this morning, not wanting to take the time to walk into the kitchen to weigh out the 20 grams of beans before grinding them and brewing my cup.

So, I didn’t have coffee today.

I fell asleep in the same clothes I wore all day yesterday, and I have absolutely no regrets. Walmart has some amazing tie-dye pants that are honestly softer than some of the pajama pants I own. I’m still wearing them. Instead of putting on a cute workout outfit and doing a Leslie Sansone walk, I bundled up in my purple sherpa hoodie, last year’s grey winter coat, and a pink and grey hat I knitted for myself and went outside for a 3-mile walk.

Unfortunately, I feel like there’s never a good time to go for a walk. In the late afternoon and evening, families are out on strolls with their kids and dogs. Children are riding bikes or playing in their front yards. In the morning, the same dog walkers are out while children are walking to school or standing in front of their houses waiting for the bus.

I just wanted to put on some worship music on Spotify and walk without seeing any other humans. I wanted solitude.

I will, intentionally, go out of my way to avoid crossing the street with a crossing guard. I know. It’s a strange thing, I know. It just makes me uncomfortable. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps it’s this feeling that I’m a little kid again. Maybe it’s simply that I don’t want to have to stop and wait for someone else to tell me I can proceed when I can clearly see it’s safe to cross myself.

I suspect a lot of it has to do with the crossing guard who was stationed by my high school. I absolutely dreaded crossing when she was there, but I also didn’t have much choice. There was an option for avoiding her, but it really wasn’t allowed since it meant avoiding the sidewalk on the opposite side of the busy road. Not every street around here has a sidewalk, but, as a general rule, we were supposed to use one whenever possible.

So, after school, I’d cross the street with this crossing guard. She’d get us right to the halfway point across the street and immediately send the traffic heading northeast on their way. She didn’t wait until students approached the opposite curb or were safely on the sidewalk. I felt the breeze of cars and trucks on my back too many times to count in the two-and-a-half years I was in high school.

It was a weird morning. It still is one. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that. Everything just feels heavy today, and I’m struggling to keep from letting the tension and emotions of the world weigh me down. I had a tense conversation with a friend last night. I’m generally the kind of person to avoid those kinds of conversations because I hate the tension that comes from disagreeing. I’d rather just go with the flow.

However, I also have pretty strong opinions of my own. I won’t compromise my own beliefs; I simply don’t want to publicly disagree with yours. I’d rather do what I think is right and be done with it- even if sometimes, my thoughts and opinions are controversial.

I know most of my friends will have to agree to disagree when it comes to some of my choices. I also trust that, despite not completely agreeing on everything, we can still be friends.

I’m not completely sure what I have planned for today. I may take a trip to Aldi to see if I can snag one of those coveted cheese advent calendars. Aldi around here doesn’t sell alcohol, not that it matters; I don’t drink. I also need to spend some time looking for work, update my Powersheets, and finish the Fab4 Smoothie I’ve been slowly sipping my way through.

I suppose I should get going.

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Losing My Identity

I miss writing.

I miss that feeling I used to get where the words seemed to just make their way from my head to the computer screen without any thought. I never brainstormed or made outlines. 

I just wrote.

Most of the poems in my books are completely unedited- save for fixing some typos or spelling errors. There were no rough drafts. True, some poems took some more time and effort than others to phrase everything in a way that fit the particular rhyme scheme or whatnot, but many were just written in one shot. 

Many were written in my journals. One or two were written in text messages. There’s even one that was “written” while walking around my local Walmart singing. 

My old blog posts were the same. I’d sit down at my computer and just type. Even though I cringe and roll my eyes at some of it, there are also things I’m convinced I wrote specifically because I needed to read them at a later date.

Being a writer was part of who I was. It was so much more than a hobby; it was part of my identity.

Writing like that made me feel alive. I could take everything I was feeling- and everything I didn’t know was consuming me- and release it into words.

However, writing is also an enemy I used against myself. When the panic attacks and depression were at their worst, I rarely said anything audibly against myself. Speaking out loud that I was “worthless” or “ugly” wasn’t enough. Instead, I wrote it down. I’ve filled pages in my journals with sentences like “Everyone would be better off if I weren’t around” and “I should just kill myself.” I wrote, telling myself that I was “stupid, ugly, worthless, unloved” until I became numb to the sting of those words. I believed if I genuinely made myself believe them, then they would no longer hurt. I wouldn’t have to face the emotional roller coaster of feeling good.”What goes up, must come down.” 

When I first started cutting myself, all I had on hand was the pen I was using in my journal. So, that’s what I used. I found other ways to inflict physical damage upon myself, but it started with a pen. 

I think my struggles with writing started in 2011 when, in a bout of stubbornness, I threw out the medication I was taking to help stabilize my moods and declared that I was “fine.” There was no happy or sad or good or bad. There was only “fine.” I was tired of feeling broken; I wanted to be completely numb.

I didn’t stop writing then, but things changed. Over the years, I realized that I couldn’t truly pour out my heart in writing and remain unfeeling. 

But the emotions frightened me. 

It’s in times where I’m overwhelmed with emotion that I am prone to hurting myself. At times, I’ll resort to verbally abusing myself by writing hateful messages to myself in my journals or whispering them over and over until I go numb. 

Other times, I’ll pinch myself or pick at my skin until it bleeds.

And, in the past, I have cut myself.

And while it has been years since I’ve inflicted physical damage on myself, the fear hasn’t gone away. Neither has my tendency to abuse myself in other ways. 

I want to write again. I set a goal to write for my blog every single day because I wanted to see what would happen if I committed to taking the time to publish something new regularly. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want anyone to read what I post. If I didn’t want it, it wouldn’t be on the internet for the world to see. In fact, one of my dreams is to eventually make money writing.

More than that, however, I want to feel alive when I write again. 

I’m afraid, though. I’m worried that that part of my identity may be gone for good because I was stupid and stubborn.

I’m also afraid that I won’t be able to handle it if it isn’t gone. I’m afraid of the damage I will do if I allow myself to open up and feel things with the intensity that I need to feel them in order to create. 

Uncategorized

Down to the Last 10 Weeks of 2020

With my beautiful, new, pink 2021 Powersheets sitting in its bright yellow box, I’ve been finding myself a little less motivated to set goals. After all, we’re near the end of October. After this, we only have two months left for the year. It’s like pigging out on junk food before starting a diet; it’s easy to tell myself, “I’ll start that in the new year.” We’re less than 10 weeks away from the end of the year. Why not just take a break and start fresh in January?

However, this is also the start of my second third of #90DivineDays. While I have somewhat abandoned the concept of adding new goals in each of the goal areas we discussed: Food, Fitness, Personal Development, and Spiritual Growth, because I ended up changing and adding some new goals earlier in the month. I decided to make the changes when I saw a need instead of waiting for a specific date to try something new.

Personal Development

A few weeks ago, I decided to utilize a daily planner to schedule my to-do list and see if it would increase my productivity. I’ve been pretty inconsistent with using a planner this year. However, I’ve also taken the time to figure out what kind of planner system works best for me. I’ve learned that weekly planning isn’t efficient. I rarely know my schedule more than a day in advance. I have to plan things day by day. I never know what stickers to use or how much space to leave for each day when planning my week.

On the other hand, using a dashboard layout with a weekly to-do list also doesn’t work well. If I don’t decide on a specific day to do something, it doesn’t get done. So, I’ve been learning that using a combination of Google Calendar and a daily planner layout seems to work best for me. I use Google Calendar to record scheduled events and appointments, like job interviews, online meetings, and Holidays. Then, I look at any scheduled appointments, Powersheets goals, and any random-to-do list items I need to accomplish and fit them into my daily planner.

The system I’m using isn’t without its flaws. For one thing, I threw together a quick DIY daily planner using some Happy Planner daily refill pages, so it’s not a very polished system. It’s entirely composed of daily pages, so it lacks space to make generalized plans for the month or week. It would be nice to have a spot each week to add jot down a to-do list for the following week. 

However, despite its shortcomings, it seems to be doing the job. I’ve been a lot more productive, knowing that I have a daily to-do list. I plan on making some changes in 2021 if things continue to go this well. I toyed with the idea of frankenplanning my own 2021 daily planner with Happy Planner refills and inserts. However, I am not a fan of some of the compromises I’d have to make with the design. It would also end up costing me about as much money to buy a brand new Erin Condren Life Planner. 

I haven’t officially decided on placing the order yet. I want to make sure this is something I am going to use. I figured, while not perfect, my DIY planner will be enough to show me at least if a daily planning system works for me. If I’m consistent in using it during the 56 days I have leading up to the date I decided to order a new planner, I’ll place the order. Ideally, I’m aiming for 100% consistency, but I know things happen. As long as I hit 90% consistency by December 7 (and I still like the daily planning, of course), I’ll place the order. [There’s also a chance that I’ll order it sooner if I hit that same number of days before the 7th, but I still won’t order before December.]

Food

I’m not making many changes for food since what I’ve been doing has been working. I’m just tweaking things here and there as I see fit. However, I recently changed my supplement routine. Instead of taking my beloved SmartyPants gummy vitamins, I’ve switched to a multivitamin pill. I’ve also added things like fish oil, B-vitamins, and a few supplements that may help with muscle recovery, anxiety, and focus. I am still experimenting with a few things with the vitamins, however. Today, I decided to take my multivitamin with lunch. This past week, I’ve noticed an overall feeling of blahness with some slight nausea sometime between 9 am and noon. I realized that the culprit could be my new multivitamin. Perhaps, the iron in the supplement is too harsh on my stomach. It’s also possible that my Fab4 smoothies aren’t quite enough food to take with the vitamin. I feel a lot better today than I have felt, which is a good sign that the multivitamin is the issue. I’ll see how I feel after lunch today, but there’s a chance I’ll have to find a new multivitamin. 

Fitness

My fitness goal is more or less the same. I’m still exercising six days a week with a minimum of three strength training sessions. However, I’m changing things up just a little. A few of us started LIIFT4 a couple of weeks ago. I finished day two of week three today, and my arms are killing me. (So is my chest, for that matter). This round has been so much different than my first attempt at the program back in May. In May, I only had access to 2 and 5-pound dumbbells, which were ok for some of the moves but were far too light for most. I was also working part-time as a bakery dishwasher. Since I only worked on Mondays and Tuesdays, which were also the arm-heavy days (triceps on Mondays and biceps on Tuesdays), I didn’t want to push myself too hard. Tuesdays, especially, felt like a race to see if I could finish my work before my arms quit. Now, I have access to a nice collection of dumbbells ranging from 2 to 12 pounds. I’m eating more and fueling my body well. For the first time, I’m pushing myself and working out in hopes of increasing my strength and endurance.

In addition to my Liift4 schedule, I’m also incorporating Walk at Home workouts. Typically, if a session is around 36-40 minutes long, I’ll follow LIIFT4 with a 1-mile walk. On shorter lifting days, I’ll do a 2-mile walk. Wednesdays and Saturdays, I’ll walk 3-5 miles. However, I’m also allowing myself some flexibility to take that walk outdoors if I want. 

Spiritual Growth

The only thing I haven’t changed anything with is my Spiritual Growth goals. I’m still reading the same devotionals, and I recently started a new scripture writing plan. Perhaps, as this month progresses, I’ll make changes in this area. For now, I’m focusing on consistency and maintaining the habits I’ve started to develop.

Despite not starting any new habits specifically for the second third of #90DivineDays, I did create my new tending list for the next five weeks. This was the first time I ever made a tending list without much struggle. I have tweaked it a few times since the month started. I added a monthly task or two- including one I wrote in after it was already complete. I also swapped out one of my daily tasks. Initially, I put in my afternoon quiet time as one of my daily items. Then, I realized that with the deadline for ordering my planner approaching in December, using my planner each day was a more important goal to track.

Monthly Goals:

  • Get My Car Inspected
  • Finish reading The Slight Edge
  • Read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
  • Finish the Yes Fit Beauty and the Beast Race
  • Yes Fit Turkey Trot 10K
  • Finish my Christmas Wishlist
  • Enjoy Thanksgiving
  • Deep Clean Kitchen counter and stove/Spray Enzyme cleaner on spots that one of our cats frequently uses as a litterbox
  • Decorate bedroom for Christmas

Oh, and there’s one other item listed for this month, but I’m not ready to share it. I will say that I’ve already started working on it and I expect to finish it in a couple of weeks.

Weekly Action Items:

  • Workout 6 days per week (3x strength training)
  • Devote time to searching for a job Monday-Friday
  • Do a deeper clean of my bedroom (sweeping/dusting) once a week.
  • Wash my bedding on alternating weeks
  • Publish one blog post
  • Publish two Instagram posts

Daily Action Items:

  • Write for blog
  • Read
  • Nightly tidy
  • Stay in my calorie range and drink 1 gallon of water.
  • Use my planner 

I’m excited to see what these next five weeks have in store for me.

(And, don’t tell anyone, but I already put in a few monthly action items for next month!)