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Sugar

Thoughts

These three resolutions made the cut

January 5, 2017

Happy New Year, you beautiful souls!

I don’t know what your Christmas looked like, but mine was fantastic, to the tune of a tummy-flattening stomach flu (second time in three weeks), a 103 fever for Spike and 2500 rainbow loom bands scattered across the floor like birthday confetti thanks to Sloppy Joan. Ahhhh, the holidays. A time of sugarplums and pure insanity.

Anyway, you blink and Bam! A brand new year has arrived. Everybody’s so excited to see 2016 go and I’m over here all just like fine with the ways things are. [gulp.] But I’m going to put my big girl pants on, stuff some optimism in my pockets and step boldly into 2017 with my chin up and hope in my heart.

The best part about turning the page? Resolutions. I love ‘em. I do. I typically come in at around eight goals because, you know, I’m desperate for improvement, and I typically hit one or two. Last year I checked off backpacking, trying one new thing a month, and I’d like to think talking less and listening more, but that’s subjective.

This year I got a little … we won’t say less ambitious, we’ll say wiser about resolutions. I hear a lot at work about setting SMART goals. They should be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely/Trackable. Ohhhhhh! That makes so much more sense than saying, for instance, “I want to stop living by a schedule” or “I want to be a better human”.

Also, while I was enjoying some much-needed, stay-in-my-jammies all day time over the holidays, I came across Gabrielle Bernstein’s Facebook Live on goal setting. “Don’t make them negative,” she said. “Put a positive spin on them.” So, instead of saying, “I’m not going to let myself eat crap anymore.” You might say, “I’m going to truly fuel my body.” Find a way to take all the terrible things you need to quit and make them sound pretty. I’m up for it.

So, I see you 2017, and I’m comin’ for ya. Here’s what I’ve got my sights set on …

We’re tackling our fourth Whole30 in this house, and this time, the hope is I can reintroduce every food group but sugar. I have not kept my addiction to sugar a secret and it’s time to say goodbye once and for all (except for birthdays and warm donuts). Parting is such sweet sorrow.

I’d also like to push myself to get stronger. I always look down at a scale, but I’m starting to think scales are stupid. I want to look over at a bicep instead. I want to feel like a badass and have the package to drive the message home. I find the weight room at the gym to be such an intimidating place, filled with men who really, really use the mirrors. I need to get in there in the new year.

I need more of what scares me in my life. For example, Hank surprised me with a trip to see one of my besties in Florida in February and let me tell you a secret … come close … closer … closer … this is going to be really embarrassing for one of us … I have never flown by myself. Yes, I am 34 years old. Yes, I do grownup things like pay bills and buy food to cook it and keep a household of people alive. Yes, I am terrified to fly by myself. But I’m doin’ it! I love the feeling after I do something new and it turns out completely fine and, on top of that, it’s awesome. And most new things are just like that.

I want to use my vacation days for vacation and not just sick kids and furniture deliveries. Americans throw away like 600 million vacation days a year. Let’s all agree that’s just sad. When I think of my happy places, with my happy people and all I’ve yet to experience, I just want to turn in PTO and get going. Twenty years from now a house filled with things won’t mean shit compared to a heart papered in postcards from beaches and mountaintops, signed by my four favorite people (plus me, of course).

About two weeks ago I started on this one. I began unfollowing every major news outlet on Facebook, Twitter and email notifications. No more “Alerts” or “Updates”. I find that the majority of what’s published poisons my spirit, and the pieces I need to know always find me in other ways. Peace, to me, is better than drinking from the fire hose of negativity fed by our popular media outlets. It’s just noise at this point, and everyone wants to shout so their voice can make the ugliness even louder. Well, I don’t.

The second prong in this approach is the adoption of a flow rather than a routine. This one will actually be pretty brutal for me. If we’re buds, you know I live and die by my schedule. Up for the gym by 4:40 a.m., out the door for school and work by 7:16 a.m., lunch at noon, snack at 3 p.m., dinner on the table by 6:30 p.m., kids in bed by 8 p.m., melatonin at 9 p.m., nothing after 10 p.m. It is the fabric of my being. It’s ingrained in me the way Let It Go is ingrained in my children’s vocal cords. But living in a flow might look more like …

4:43 a.m. – I think I’ll sleep in a bit and do yoga at home instead of running at the gym.

Noon – I’m not too hungry yet, maybe I’ll finish up this story and then grab a late bite instead.

7:30 p.m. – It’s bath night but we really should go for a bike ride instead, it’s so beautiful out.

8 p.m. – I feel flustered. I think I’ll meditate for 15 minutes.

No one – and I mean no one – would describe me as a gal who can just roll with what comes, so this one’s my wild card, but I’m optimistic. Maybe sugarfree me will be more malleable, too.

Whatever goals you set for yourself, I hope the next 360 days bring you hope, love and lots of wholehearted contentment.

Mindfulness

Drop the damn bananas

July 21, 2016

What if I just let go?
What if I dropped all the weight, right here, right now?
What if I managed to slip away?

Like the majority of my fellow estimated 152 million bloggers pounding the keys somewhere in the world right now, this particular platform is not my primary source of income. [I’ll pause here so you can recover from that shock. We good? OK.] Yes, I have an honest-to-goodness 9-to-5 job in the corporate world. You know, the one. Where women wear smart skirt suits with white tennis shoes and everyone keeps a carpal tunnel brace in their top drawer for days when it’s damp outside. This is just my side gig. My alter ego.

One of the perks of my big girl job is that I get to do a lot of writing and a lot of editing. One of my favorite people to work with is my main man Dr. Dave. You know that dance you do when engaging in a conversation with a hyper-intelligent human being … When you nod on the outside and say things like, “How interesting,” and “Huh. Really?” but inside your brain is like an Amazing Race contestant frantically trying to put the puzzle together? But then, like Steve drawing the final hint on Blue’s Clues (I will never acknowledge Joe), it’s all there. Bam! You get it. And it’s genius. Life-altering even. It’s the type of exchange that’s worth the work because the thought changes you. It expands and alters the makeup of your brain. That’s my entire relationship reading and listening to Dr. Dave. The guy has this gift for inspiring and shaking cores and soothing souls. Sometimes he takes a straight path to deliver his message, but often he invites you along on a series of unexpected U-turns and gravel paths before delivering you to the promise land. To the epiphany. Yeah … he’s one of those people.

Recently, Dr. Dave shared one of his favorite metaphors. It seems that some time ago, in a small village in India, there was an obnoxious monkey population. The primates were so numerous, in fact, the townspeople decided to round them all up and take them to a lovely little monkey farm in the country somewhere, where they would have a better life and live out the rest of their monkey days. To catch them, the people would place a bunch of bananas inside an upside-down bamboo cage with fairly narrow bars. The animals would approach the cage, see the fruit, reach in and grab the banana. With their hands clenched tightly around the fruit, the monkeys couldn’t remove their arm from the cage. The harder and longer they would try, the louder their screams would get. This attracted more curious monkeys who would repeat the same imprisoning process. And thus the animals were had.

Of course the monkeys could have escaped easily if they would have just let go of the fruit. If they’d just drop the damn banana they would be free to go swing with their posse through the mossy trees and throw poo like little jungle punks. But they just couldn’t. They were panicking. They were frozen with fear. They were reacting. They were trapped. Then Dr. Dave went on to define what constitutes a banana for us – that being the feelings or actions or situations in your life that elicit a strong mental or physical response. Probably detrimental. Likely toxic. Definitely negative.

Holding Onto Bananas

After reading Dr. Dave’s piece, I spent nearly my entire 3-mile run the next morning thinking about my bananas; The toxic things that I cling to and the response they trigger in me. The noxious notions that infiltrate my thoughts and ridiculous requests I place on myself.

I hold onto sugar.
Boo hoo, I know. But truly I’ve long battled some sweet, sticky food addiction demons. Growing up, treats and large meals were a mark of celebration. I, in turn, have carried this tradition on to my own family. Frozen yogurt, brownies, greasy gyros from our favorite place … it all adds up to a slippery equation of food + happy = reward. And who doesn’t want to be rewarded? Like, all the time. The problem is I’ve come to a place where those little white granules (perhaps the poop of angels, I hypothesize) now own me. They control me. They take me so high and then drop me on my head. But no matter how many times I tell myself – usually in the haze of a sugar-induced hangover – that I am done, I end up following the syrupy trail right back to the honey pot.

I hold onto perfection.
Real talk for a second. I started an entire blog based on this concept. Based on the pursuit of a perfect balance between all of the parts of myself that battle for time and attention. I want to see the world. I want to stop screaming at my daughters. I want to cook with ingredients I pluck from an organic raised garden bed. I want to kill it at work. I want to be perfect at this blog where I write about my pursuit of perfection. With my body, with my habits, with my profession, with my parenting, I hold onto these unrealistic expectations for myself so tightly that I don’t even know what a feeling of perfection would smell, taste, look or feel like at this point even if I somehow managed to reach it. Sometimes I think it’s just easier to keep looking past where we are rather than live contently in all the messy, dirty, imperfect bits of ourselves. Defining yourself as a work in progress is the ideal guise for an existence riddled with rough edges.

I hold onto fear.
This is a huge one for me. I’ve talked about my anxiety and I’ve talked about my struggles with parenting in this violent world here before, but truly, the terror I live with runs crazy-deep. I attribute at least some of this to the fact that I am a prisoner of push notifications. My job requires me to be online for the majority of the day. My phone, my laptop, my desktop, my television, whatever it is, there’s some horrifying news alert popping up on it. Flashes of events that point to the demise of character and kindness and sanity and love for humanity flood my newsfeed and thus, my mind. In one of my more recent social media-induced meltdowns, my brother (you remember Just Matt) told me to get a grip and remember they’re just leaving out the good stuff.

My thought of the day for you regarding the world we live in … You’re better off not watching the news. It will make you a happier person. Something negative happens and they beat it to death to keep you tuned in. Try shutting it off. The world is full of wonderful people, so many caring and selfless things happen on a daily basis, but that isn’t what anyone focuses on. All any of us can do is help one another and love one another and raise our kids that way and to not let a few bad people keep them from loving every minute of the short life we all get. The kids and I will sometimes pick up a bill in a restaurant for someone. They love it and you have to think that it makes that person’s heart happy and makes them want to pass that feeling along to someone else. Bad things have happened since man was created and always will, but at the end of the day people are good, that just isn’t news. The positives far outweigh the negatives on a daily basis, but just like the evening news, we tend to focus 28 minutes on all of the negative and just set aside the last 2 minutes to talk about how a stranger donated an organ for some child they don’t even know so they can live a happy normal life and love their friends and family. So shut off the crazy people on the news and focus on all the awesome people you are surrounded by on a daily basis, like me for starters.

– he wrote

And he’s right. I know he’s right. But then I go to sleep and have vivid dreams of nuclear attacks and running through crazed streets grasping my sobbing children and all the horrible things the dark parts of our brain push aside during the daylight hours. And I wake up drenched in sweat and succumb to the fear. How can I protect them? What would I do if …? Why is the world so broken? I feel helpless and small and scared to death.

I hold onto my routine.
Ask anyone who’s close to me and they will tell you I live and die by my meticulous schedule. They’ll also tell you it’s annoying AF. Almost any hour of the day I can tell you where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing with about 80 percent accuracy. Any deviation from this cadence requires additional planning to compensate appropriately. Any unplanned deviation has the potential to send me spiraling downward … smoking engine, towering flames, the whole scene. The thing is, it annoys me, too! I swear it does. But it’s a survival mechanism. Unfortunately, to conquer the Everest that is training for a half marathon, dressing and getting 3 children ready to go, working a full day, making dinner, doing baths, menu planning, meditating and getting a semi-decent amount of sleep, only, mind you, to wake up and do the whole damn thing over the next morning, requires a solid plan. Otherwise the wheels just fall right off the wagon. But there’s certainly a strong argument for a little more flexibility. A little less rushing along and a little more “in the moment”. But if I’m really honest, even when I’m cutting loose and playing along with the pull of the universe, I’m still calculating the time lost and required compensations in my head. Maybe that’s just being a mom. Maybe that’s just me as a mom. Maybe I’m a total psycho who needs drugs and liquor.

Free Bird

It’s brutal holding onto these bananas. They’re rotten. And honestly, it’s exhausting. So much of my energy is pumped into fueling these cyclical habits that positively drain me. So, what would happen if I just dropped them? If I let go and pulled my arm back out of the cage? Would I be free? Could escaping anxiety and shedding all that extra weight really be that simple? That obvious? Something I could have just done 5 years ago? Am I held by a trap I set out for myself? I don’t know …

If only bananas weren’t so sweet. You know how I like my sugar.

Thoughts

Idle chit chat with my chunkier self

June 8, 2016

First, I must be clear when I say that I actually go to great pains to avoid being a self-loathing turd. There’s a special kind of depressing that goes with watching perfectly lovely people wallow around in sloppy puddles of their own regrets and poor decisions. We’ve all danced and delighted in the cheap thrills of excess at some point. Personally, I’ve been obnoxiously open about my struggles with sugar, food in general really, and stubborn baby weight.

I, like you my splendid reader, have a general notion of what I should eat. Or, should I say, what will nourish my body without turning me into a moody porpoise. The knowledge has never been my problem. The willpower has. I run out of give-a-damns daily, usually somewhere between the powdered sugar donuts and my ice cream nightcap.

But as much as I wrestle with my sucrose-sucking inner feen and disapprove of her dwindling discipline, I certainly don’t hate myself. Lately, since the scale hasn’t moved any direction but up in 4 months, I’ve been trying to focus on the humor of the internal conflict. For example, I giggle at the dialogue that results from the two opposing sides of my conscious. I literally picture a physical clash of my two personas; the Jillian Michaels maven and a female Augustus Gloop. If I were to give them a sitcom, the script would include lines like* …

[After eating a dark chocolate and peanut butter sundae]
I think maybe if Hank doesn’t mind, I might just settle in to being a little fat. Not like bed-ridden fat, but fluffy.

[After working out for 4 days consecutive days.]
How have I not lost 10 pounds?

[When my new pants are tight.]
This brand’s sizes always run small.

[When it’s time to wear a bathing suit.]
It’s not that hot. Maybe I’ll just wear a dress.

[When it’s the weekend.]
The hard work starts Monday!

[On Monday.]
Why the hell did I eat that shit all weekend?

photo-1422919869950-5fdedb27cde8

[When someone brings in donuts.]
Look at me. I’m so good cutting this delicious little devil in half.

[At 3 o’clock on the day someone brings in donuts.]
I’ll just eat the other half. It’s just a half.

[When I step on the scale.]
C’mon! Seriously? Bitch.

[When I order Culver’s.]
That’s all. … And cheese curds, please! Sorry.

[When I eat my kale salad.]
This could really use more goat cheese. Goat cheese and bacon.

[Consulting my Fitbit after a run.]
Only 171 calories burned my ass!

photo-1427384906349-30452365b5e8

[Holding an empty bag of peanut M&Ms.]
Oh, 220 calories. Wait … there’s more than 1 serving? There are 3 servings in this mother clucker?! And I ate them all, so … I guess I multiply by 3 … carry the … and then … well, shit. Why do they do servings any way? Like who eats 1/4 bag of candy and calls it for the day?

[Talking to Hank.]
So, if we just agree to both eat ice cream, we’ll stay on a similar weight gaining trajectory and we won’t care about each other’s chubby bits.

[After the first bite of a cookie.]
OK, Courtney, savor it for a minute and decide if it’s really worth the calories. [Blacks out for 10 seconds.} Yup, I guess it was!

[On Pinterest]
I’m only going to pin healthy recipes with dates and apricots and avocado and … Oh! Snickers Ice Cream Pie!

[Standing in my closet.]
That makes my stomach look like an elephant’s face. That’s too tight around the arm holes. That waistband leaves a red mark around my midsection. That dress is too short, but only when I’m heavy. Do I feel heavy? That pushes out my muffin top. Black pants and a black top wins again!

[Looking at group pictures.]
I’m the only one without my hand on my hip. Is that why my arm looks so flabby? Gross. It’s like a twice-baked potato up there. If I put my hand on my hip would it look like I was trying to look thinner? Or younger?

[While running]
Go one more lap. One more lap and you can put creamer in your coffee. Gah! Am I dragging a dead body behind me or what? Please make the next song a good one. No, Nickelback. You’re not welcome here. One more lap and you can eat a a mini candy bar at 3.

*These are actual words that I have actually heard in my actual brain.