A New Path

Disclaimer: This post is in no way meant to offend or criticize anyone who is currently on a health and fitness endeavor. I have nothing but love for you, but this is my truth and I need to share it.

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I’ve gone back and forth on how to approach this blog post. It’s been brewing for several weeks now, but the feelings I’ve attached to the subject matter have been fluctuating and I just don’t know what the best tactic is for sharing about it all. I’ve written and rewritten, and even now that it’s done, there is still so much I want to add or clarify or justify, but I’m not going to. I can and will go into all of this much, much deeper in future posts, but for now I’m going to leave this as it is and hope that it makes sense.

A few months ago I was in the midst of another diet—one that wasn’t called a diet,  but more of a “way of living” or “nutrition program” or something to that effect—but at the end of the day, it was a diet. How do I know that it was something it didn’t claim to be? Because in my experience, diets all have some key features:

  • Rules
  • Restrictions
  • Plateaus
  • Inconsistent (and frequently unsustainable) results

I was feeling frustrated because even though I’d seen some initial weight loss, I was starting to gain a couple pounds back, and I was finding it harder and harder to stick to the program guidelines every single day. I tuned in to one of the videos featuring the program’s creator in hopes of finding some, well, HOPE, and at one point she asked, “How many of you are feeling frustrated, like you don’t want to put in the effort anymore, and find yourselves thinking, ‘I’ve learned enough, I can do it my way. I’ll just make better choices this time’?” I laughed because that was exactly what I’d been thinking, and then she continued on to say something to the effect of, “Stop. You’ve tried that before and it doesn’t work. I know this seems challenging sometimes, but putting in the work now is the only way you’re going to see results.”

Now, that might sound innocent enough to some of you, but to me it felt like a steel door slamming shut in my chest, and in that moment I felt so disgusted and turned off by her and her program that I just wanted to close my laptop and never open it again. I felt angry, and it took me a while to really figure out why. But since then I’ve done a lot of soul-searching, healing, and learning, and I think I’m finally starting to understand.

Those of you who have read some of my earlier posts know that I’m a chronic dieter with over a decade of experience bouncing around from method to method in search of the Holy Grail of Diets that will finally solve my “problems.” The trouble with that, though, is that it seems the diets have been the problem all along. I have fallen for dozens of marketing ploys over the years promising me happiness and peace and freedom that are only attainable by finally reaching my “goal weight,” or having abs, or having a thigh gap. I have convinced myself that being slim will make me happy, but I’ve been slim, I’ve started getting abs, I’ve hit my goal weights multiple times, and guess what? Still miserable. I have somehow simultaneously felt pride in my accomplishments and still dissatisfied with myself, and all of it has been backed by this consuming fear—fear that I would gain the weight back, fear that I would “fall off the wagon” and “fail” whatever diet I was on, fear that I still didn’t look how I thought I “should” look, even after all the hard work I put in.

I walked away from the diet. I decided to do things my way, as I’d done after every diet before, but something was different this time. My anxiety was high, I was obsessing about every bite of food that went in my mouth, mentally calculating nutrition facts, comparing it to what I’d had earlier in the day to determine whether I was “allowed” to eat it based on whether I’d had too much or not enough already that day, feeling intense guilt when I ate more than a bite of sugar (including fruit, because some diet or other taught me that fruit sugar was still sugar), making myself eat certain things post-workout so that I recovered correctly, stressing when I missed more than one workout in a row, worrying about why I was craving more breads than usual because, as I’m sure you’ve heard, bread is bad, and all the while I showed absolutely zero signs of distress on the exterior. My mind was engaged in an all-out war, my own little private Ground Zero, and no one around me was any the wiser.

I was exhausted. I was starting to get facial movement compulsions that have arisen at various times of high anxiety (similar to a nervous twitch, like when someone wrings their hands or bounces their leg). I had so many urges to scream out and dump all of this on my husband, but the last thing I wanted was a look of shock or pity, because I couldn’t stand the thought of being viewed as helpless. I’m a strong, independent woman, I can do this on my own. I don’t need you treating me like a bird with a broken wing, I can fly out of this damn place all by myself if I really wanted to. Can’t I?

Can I?

It was in the midst of this frazzled state that I turned to social media, because the semi-anonymity there makes me feel less intimidated. I’d been following a few body-positive people on Instagram for a while, and one in particular had mentioned a podcast called Food Psych which tackled a wide range of topics surrounding eating disorders, intuitive eating, body image, etc. Now, I’ve never considered myself someone with an eating disorder because the only disorders I know of are anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating, so I didn’t really relate with that aspect of it, but I was desperate to learn about self-love and body love and I had heard bits and pieces about this intuitive eating thing and since I literally had no other ideas, I decided to give the show a listen.

Within five minutes of the first random episode I chose, everything changed. They hadn’t even gotten to the main subject yet, it was still in the part where they answer listener questions, and I heard the word “orthorexia.” Ortho-what? What the hell is that?

Orthorexia (noun)
an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy
— a medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods in the belief that they are harmful

I found the definition first, and then website after website detailing this affliction and the various ways it manifests, and all of a sudden I wanted to cry. I knew my relationship with food was very, very broken. I knew that I had a laundry list of “rules” that diets had coded into my head over the years, but I didn’t know there was a name for it. I felt equal parts terrified and relieved—the former because holy crap there’s something wrong with me, but then also holy crap this means there’s a solution.

It’s amazing what having an answer can do for you. Once I knew the problem, I set to work finding a solution. I learned that registered dieticians (RDs) are key to helping with eating disorders (or, as I’ve learned to describe my situation, disordered eating—a distinction which I’ll elaborate on in a future post). I had trouble finding someone affordable at first, but through another chance Instagram connection, I was referred to a wonderful woman who runs her practice out of Hawaii who I now meet bi-weekly with via virtual chat, and she also suggested looking into a podcast called RD Real Talk, in which I could find an 11-episode series about intuitive eating, and she recommended the book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. I also reached back out to the gal who I learned about the Food Psych podcast from and opened up to her because I knew she’d understand, and she responded so gently and lovingly and offered her support whenever I needed it.

I am learning an incredible amount about myself and about what ridiculous expectations I’ve been taught to set. I am at a strange crossroads where I want to be supportive of my friends who are on their various weight loss journeys, but it’s also a bit of a trigger for me and it brings up feelings of anger because I know some of them are only on those journeys because they feel like they’re supposed to look a certain way. I want to grab everyone I know and shake them and say, “I LOVE YOU AND YOU’RE PERFECT,” but I’m still having trouble believing that about myself so it feels hypocritical. And I’m so upset with how we got to where we are, a weight-obsessed perfection-crazed society that’s trying to live up to the ideals of a photoshopped magazine cover. And I’m so ashamed of the thoughts I have sometimes! I was looking at a very different before-and-after on Instagram the other day—the “before” was when this gal was super fit, had abs, and was working out and watching what she ate all the time, while the “after” was her now, plus sized and happy as hell, radiating confidence and self-love. I had never seen her “before” picture prior to this moment, but in all of her current pics I’d thought of how gorgeous she is and how I would love to have half her confidence. But you know what I thought when I saw the before and after?

“How could she give that up??”

Honestly, my first thought was how she could have walked away from abs and a great body. Because that’s what I’ve been taught to think of as success. And I *hated* that thought. I hated the realization that my brain is automatically perpetuating the ideals that have made so much of my own life so challenging. It made my stomach churn, because that’s not even how I truly feel about her. My instinctive thought didn’t factor in her happiness, freedom, self-worth, none of it—it literally only focused on how her body looked.

I saw a quote earlier today that said, “Your first thought is what you’ve been conditioned to think. The one that follows is how you truly feel.” I told my RD about my reaction to the before and after and she said, “It doesn’t matter that you thought that, what matters is how you feel about that thought—it obviously didn’t sit well with you, so that’s what you need to focus on. I want you to learn to look at those types of images with neutrality, that neither one is better or worse than the other, but that both are just different types of bodies and they are both perfectly okay.” What a concept, right?

Whew. This is a lot to write about.

I know this was a huge brain dump of an update, but I needed to start somewhere and this is as good a place as any. As I said in the beginning, this is in no way meant to confront or criticize any of my friends and family that are on various dieting or weight loss journeys, but if you relate to anything I’ve shared about, you are always more than welcome to comment or reach out.

In the coming months, I want to expand on the things I’m learning—self-love, judgement-free eating, diet culture, finding my intuitive voice with not just food but my entire life, dealing with the personal issues that surround my broken food and body relationships, and, of course, my thoughts on intuitive eating and what that looks like for me.

Wherever you are on whatever journey, much, much love to you. I’ll write again soon(ish) xoxo

Stuck

A lovely friend of mine recently asked, “What makes you feel stuck?” She asked it with the intention of sparking a public conversation about how we all get stuck at various points in our lives, and how we all likely have many different methods to getting unstuck. The feedback she receives will be turned into a series of illustrated blog posts, and because I have an abundance of experience with the topic, I decided to respond.

I knew going into it that she had asked a very poignant question. The second I read her prompt and questionnaire I thought, “Oh shit. This is me.” What I didn’t realize is that by responding I would open a floodgate of awareness and suddenly be confronting my demons head-on.

You see my friends, I’ve been struggling again (or maybe it’s still?), and it’s increasingly uncomfortable. I am discontent, and I’ve been wading through the ick trying to figure out what the hell the problem is—is it homesickness? adjustment to expat life? lack of fulfillment with motherhood? starting a new career path? hub’s longer hours and busy schedule? Sure, it’s touches of all of those. But it’s a lot more than that, too.

Several months ago I posted some pieces about my long history of body-shame, weight fluctuations, extreme dieting, and body dysmorphia. I’ve fought those demons for a solid 25 out of 32 years of life on this planet so far, and unfortunately they’ve returned. It started at the end of pregnancy when I suddenly went from very-round-but-still-beautiful to HOUSE BOAT in approximately two weeks (weeks 36-38, to be exact), and though there was a slight reprieve a few weeks later as some of the baby weight started to fall off, it picked right back up once I started working out again. It was that subtle, nagging voice that said,

“Look at your stomach in that shirt. Look at it.”
“Yep, those are size 16 shorts and you still have rolls when you sit down.”
“Ugh my arms squish out so much when I relax them.”
“My boobs are gonna be down to my knees by the time I’m done breastfeeding.”
“I can’t wear this. I look ridiculous. It doesn’t fit right, nothing fits right. Will anything ever fit right?”

And they haven’t stopped.

I might get a reprieve now and then, but they always come back, and sometimes they majorly catch me off guard. Today was a perfect example—I made a recent decision to pursue my ACE Personal Trainer Certification (something I’m very excited about and promise to touch on again soon), and today was the first day of my official study plan. I’ve already had some concerns about my current figure, wondering if people will want to work with a personal trainer who doesn’t have abs, but I’ve shoved them to the side because this is something I really want and truly believe I could be phenomenal at. But, my head apparently doesn’t give a rat’s ass what I believe I could be good at, because as I sat down and started reading, started seeing all the pictures in my book of fit, cut trainers working with people, I swear to god all I could think was, “I’m too fat to be a trainer.” And then every single part of my body suddenly felt dark and hollow and alone.

Those are just the thoughts that actually come through with words. There are still others that lurk in my subconscious, darkening my mood and stomping on my spirit day after day after day after day. I start to doubt myself more and more, and I don’t even realize it’s happening at first until one day it hits me, BAM! I hate my body again.

AGAIN.

AGAIN. AGAIN. AGAIN.

Do you know how many effing times I’ve gone through this?! WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK. WHY IS THIS STILL A PROBLEM?!

Am I eating wrong? Am I not working out enough? Would those things make me feel better? Am I just not capable of loving myself at a curvier weight? That can’t be the case, because I don’t know if I truly loved myself even at my tiniest weight.

It’s not that.

It’s none of that.

It’s perfectionism.

It’s obsessing over doing/looking/being/feeling “perfect.” It’s the insanely deep-rooted belief that I am not good enough, and that the only way I will ever be good enough is by following some exact specifications of how to live my life.

I have obsessed over food, clothes, workouts, diets, people, boyfriends, bathing suits, opinions, MOTHER-EFFING MEDIA, societal standards…all of it. My whole life. And I can’t pinpoint a single lasting feeling of being good enough. Where there some fleeting experiences with it? Sure, but they were heartbreakingly temporary. And what I’ve found over the years is that I never realize what I have in the moment—I’ve looked back at countless pictures and seen a strong, beautiful, badass little lady, but I know that in my mind in those pictures I was still tearing myself apart from the inside out. And that is so, so sad to me. I have been in constant pursuit of external solutions to an internal problem, always convincing myself that THIS THING can fix me, and THAT THING is finally the answer. But it never is.

And I’m exhausted.

I’m so sick of not feeling good enough.

I think about all the energy that’s been poured into this seemingly insurmountable issue and it’s mind-boggling. The amount of hours I’ve spent agonizing over what other people must think of me and wishing so hard that I could change it. I have wasted so much of myself over this, and it has become the single worst habit I think I could ever have, because it’s entirely in my head. You can’t take away a drink or a drug this time; you can’t take away certain foods to fix it; you can’t just stop thinking. So what do you do?

What do you do.

I am going to stop giving energy to the things I’ve always treated as solutions, the things I’ve taught myself require obsessive perfectionism, which are fitness and food. I’ve fallen into the trap recently of clicking on every single “body transformation” workout post I’ve seen, be it within the Beachbody world or BBG or TIU or whatever the hell else is out there, and I alwaythink, “There it is, that’s my solution! If I just work hard for 12 weeks then I’ll have the body of my dreams and I’ll be so happy!” And while that may be the case for a lot of people, my experience is always that I set extreme expectations, and when they aren’t met I feel like a failure. I do not do well with anything that causes me to have expectations of my physical results. I’ve seen it happen time and time again, so the only solution I can think of is to not have a plan at all. I know that sounds crazy to some people, especially some of my fitness friends, but the more detailed my plan is, the worse I feel when something falls out of place. The plan with the least details is no plan at all, so I’m going to keep working out but only commit 30-45 minutes a day to it (unless I feel like doing more that day), and I’ll just do whatever sounds fun and freeing.

I’m not going to limit my food in any way, though I will still be making a more concentrated effort to cook and savor healthy meals on a regular basis because that makes me genuinely happy. I’ve been keeping a food journal, and while I originally thought to nix that, it’s actually been helping because I’ve been able to see that I’m not as “bad” as I think I am (I struggle hard with constantly feeling like I’m failing in the food department). I’m not tracking calories or macros or anything like that, just noting the time and the item (like “12pm – string cheese”). If that ever starts causing me stress, it goes out the window.

The most crucial change I could possibly make though is that I am going to be dedicating as much time as I can possibly spare to personal development and confronting these demons that have been overpowering me my whole life. In my searches for helpful tools so far, I’ve had to come to terms with the real names of my afflictions, self hate being the most powerful one. I would never think of or judge someone the way I think of and judge myself if there wasn’t hatred involved, so let’s call a spade a spade and quit sugar-coating it with terms like “low self-esteem.” No. I judge myself to the point of tears and heartache. That’s hate.

One of the hardest things for me to comprehend about all of this is that I am damn proud of many of the things I’ve accomplished in life—sobriety, college, starting my own business, motherhood (sometimes)—and I know that I’ve made a really big impact in a lot of ways and have some wonderful talents that I am so grateful to be able to use on a regular basis and even share with others. I also do love some things about myself, like my face—birthmark and all—and my hourglass shape (I just judge the life out of the components of that shape). I know, on some level, that I have an abundance of good about me, but that is not what keeps me up at night. That is not the recurring theme of my life. The good never outshines this, and if I don’t take steps to right myself, that may never change.

I don’t say any of this for pity or prayers or whatever else people generally throw at things. I don’t say it for attention. I don’t even really say it to be heard by the general population. I say it because it’s my truth, and because it needed to be said somewhere. It needed to be called out by name and given residence somewhere other than just the fatigued confines of my brain.

I also say it because I know I’m not alone.

For the girl who’s hit her “goal weight” and still hates the way she looks in fitted clothes…
I see you.

For the girl who is loathing herself because she just ate another row of Oreos…
I see you.

For the girl who is trying her fourth brand of diet pills because she’s sure this quick-fix will work…
I see you.

For the girl who’s hoping she’s invisible when she steps out in a bikini…
I see you.

For the girl who can’t look at anything below her face in the mirror for longer than a passing glance…
I see you.

I see all of you, and so many more. I am you. We are in this together, but I will be damned if I’m going to live the rest of my life like this. I have beautiful baby girl and I don’t want to raise her with the right words; I want her to see confidence, self-esteem, and ferocious, unstoppable self-love. I want her to know that she is the most incredible, worthy, empowered woman on the planet. But before I can do that, I have to find it in myself.

Stay tuned xo


If you would like to participate in the conversation about going from Stuck→Unstuck, head on over to J Clement Wall’s blog and follow the links.

A Case of the Hum-Drums

March has been a weird month.

The baby and I have both been sick twice, my current bout now going on 12 days (finally got antibiotics yesterday because this ish needs to STOP), hubs has been sick once, we’ve had both shipments of our stuff arrive (yay!) AND our car (yay yay!), but I hurt my back the morning of the second shipment (super fun spasm) so I’ve been off of working out for a week and a half. Combine all of that with having been in Korea for two months now and only having left the base a handful of times and not having left the town we’re in at all, PLUS the fact that I’m a stay-at-home mom with a stay-at-home job and 99% of my friends and family are in a different country, and, well, your girl’s got herself a hearty bit of cabin fever and maybe just a splash of situational depression.

I was on a looooong and much-needed call with Momma Bear this morning and was able to finally call the depression out by name. Hubs could tell something was off the other night and asked me about it, and I tried to explain how I’ve just felt off, like nothing looked how I thought it was gonna look this month and how I’m not happy. I mean, it’s not that I’m never happy, because I definitely have enjoyed plenty of moments this month, but I don’t feel like myself and I don’t like that. And for anyone who read the line about things not looking how I thought they would and thought, “Well you really shouldn’t have expectations because that leads to disappointment,” I love you, but shut it. But also I love you. I know expectations are dangerous, but it happened and now I’m here, so there’s really no point in letting me know that I shouldn’t have had them in the first place.

Anyways…

The cherry blossoms are starting to bloom and it’s about to get gorgeous around here. Korea is super pretty anyways, but the Cherry Blossom Festival comes around every early April and from what we’ve been told it’s quite wondrous. Our whole street on base is lined with the trees, with two especially large ones looming just over our front steps, so when they all hit full bloom I imagine it’ll be pretty spectacular. The festival itself takes place in Jinhae, and millions of people descend on our little town to take part in it. They even open up the base for a day, which should be very interesting given how small it is, but I also like that it provides a bonding experience for us and the local population. We’ve been told to be back on base by I believe noon on the day it’s open though, because otherwise we have to wait in line to get back on and it’s typically around an hour and a half. So we’re just not gonna leave that day!

I will say that the blossoms are gradually helping me shift in a better direction. I pass under a ton of them every time I walk to or from daycare (which is typically four times a day, five days a week), so I’ve gotten to see them in all of their stages, from dead, to sprouting, to buds, to peeking open, to half-bloom, and then an overnight blossom into beautiful flowers of the palest, palest pink. They really are something. And the process is hitting home with me right now, because I feel a little bit like that dead tree phase, where I’m not really dead but I’m not really showing the signs of life that I know are in here somewhere. I need to find my spark again, my sunlight that’ll help me go through all those other phases and turn into a gorgeous lil flower. I’ve been there before and I know I can get it back, but I feel like ever since I had the baby it’s been a constant struggle of back and forths as I try to dig myself back up out of the trenches. And what makes it frustrating sometimes is when onlookers comment on my physical progress or even talk about how great it is that I’m working in the fitness industry now and how it’s such a perfect fit for me, because while I agree, I don’t feel like I’m really in it yet. I feel more like I’m parading around pretending to have lost weight and smacking a smile on my face because it’s the right thing to do rather than being how I truly feel.

I don’t know. I know I’ll get out of this place. I need to get my ass out of the house more, to start with. I’ve decided that once my back is well enough to work out again I’m not going back to the 80-day program I was doing before. It’s a fab program, but I’m really craving lifting and there are several Beachbody programs that are perfect for that, so me and the laptop or iPad are gonna head to the gym a few days a week and get our swol on. Well, I dunno if the electronics will get swol, but they’ll help me get swol, so it’s kinda the same thing. And I’m gonna find other opportunities to get out, too. Like today hubs and I went grocery shopping on his lunch break so we could spend this evening going out into town for dinner, and this weekend I’m *finally* gonna get to go to Daegu (about an hour and a half from here), which is where the big exchange and commissary are. Hubs says it’ll be great for me because the drive up is super pretty and once we’re on the base there I’ll feel like I’m in America—there’s even a Burger King, Starbucks, and Subway! We’re gonna get cray, obviously. And since this was my birthday month (the big 32, woop woop), I might even let myself buy some new clothes (and NOT workout gear!).

As for the dietary changes we had going before, we tried grain-free sugar-free high-fat/low-carb for four weeks and ultimately decided that we would rather just eat a balanced diet. We’re still aiming for as few added sugars as possible and we’ll be limiting our flour intake, but things like brown rice and the occasional wheat or grain bread or pasta are back on the menu (along with quinoa, one of our faves!).

So that’s where I’m at, kids. And since the baby just woke up, I’ll sign off with a big hug to anyone out there who needs it, and a, “See ya when I feel like barfing up my life again.”

xoxo

Bulgogi & Badassery

I KNOW. I know. It’s been a long freaking time. I know. Almost four months, actually. And yes, I am well aware that my last posting was titled “Hiatus Be Gone,” but I may have been a liiiiittle premature with that. I don’t know what I was thinking really, since we were a month shy of hubs coming home and then we headed straight into 30 days of family visits and then a week-long turnaround where we packed up and sent off our lives and then moved ourselves and the minion and two cats overseas…well actually the two cats ended up coming about three weeks in, a very long and drawn out process which I will summarize by saying that they better start figuring out how to show some gratitude for the several thousand dollars it cost to get their furry butts here.

But here we are now, in Chinhae, South Korea. CRAZY. We’ve been here for over a month already, and while we still haven’t received any of our stuff (first shipment *finally* arrives this Thursday), I feel we’ve done a fairly good job of settling in. We have a routine, we feel very comfortable in our (spacious) house on base, and we’re adapting to communicating with friends and family who are a minimum of 14 hours behind us (soon to be 13 after the time change! I cannot adequately express how excited I am to not do daylight savings time for the next two years. My circadian rhythm is jumping with joy!). I’ve also progressed quite a bit with my postpartum fitness capabilities (which I’ll elaborate on more below), and hubs is getting back into running with the goal of doing his very first marathon later this year. Oh, and we have a potential Spartan Super ahead! Date TBA but likely this fall. EXCITED!

Baby girl is also doing well, she’s coming up on 10 MONTHS (and I’m pretending that the next two months aren’t going to fly by because I’m not ready to have a one-year-old yet), has two bottom teeth (and looks like the most adorable ogre on the planet), scoots herself very efficiently on her butt all around the house (no crawling, but she definitely gets where she wants to go), and has started stomp-walking (with assistance of course). Her hobbies include eating everything I put in front of her, yelling at the cats, banging toys together or on the floor, using me as a trampoline, clapping, waving indiscriminately at things, growling, yelling bababa and dadada as loud as she can, and blowing raspberries whenever I ask her to say “mama.” Oh, and she also loves power cords, electrical outlets, bags of recycling items, and finding random pieces of jagged plastic to stick in her mouth. Babies are such magical creatures.

All in all though I have no complaints. In the first several weeks here I was developing a bad case of cabin fever because we live on a teeny-tiny base (like 250 people and walkable from end-to-end in 10 minutes) and we have the exchange (think small CVS/Rite-Aid) and the commissary (grocery store), and two places to eat (a restaurant and a quick-order place with calzones/wraps/burgers/etc.). I grew up in Southern California, then I lived in a Denver suburb, and then I was in Southeastern Virginia—my high school graduating class had twice as many people as there are on this whole base. I don’t do small-town. Hubs has experience with it, but even though I gravitate towards homebodyism, I still like having variety and space and options, which, when you can’t read any of the signs in the outer city and don’t have a car, can be hard to find here. Living in “Little America,” as I’ve dubbed it, has its perks for sure—for example, daycare is a five-minute walk from my front door (woop woop!), and being surrounded by fellow expats and English-speaking Korean natives has definitely eased the culture shock that comes with moving to a foreign country—but the feeling of being trapped came around anyways, and we dealt with it in stride. Fortunately hubs and I have now had two opportunities to go explore sans baby and that’s helped a ton, especially since one of those outings was a hike, which I LOVED, even though (and yes, to all those who have heard this already, I have to mention it again) there was carpet in the forest. That’s what the featured image is for this post—that’s thick, straw-y, woven carpet folks. If there are any Korean natives or people with family in Korea who can explain this to me, please do! I would love to understand. Also, how did it get there? Current popular theory is mules. Oh and we’ve also now had amaaaazing Korean BBQ (though here it’s probably just called BBQ). Do yourselves a favor—find a well-reviewed, authentic Korean restaurant and then go order meat. Literally any meat. We had pork belly this time but we’ve also had beef bulgogi, and both will make you very, very happy.

But anyways. I’ve also started something new since we’ve been here. Some of you already know this and some don’t, but since this is my catch-up post I’ll share again. Y’all know I love my fitness, and you also know that I love working with other women to help them on their journeys through life. Many moons ago that was in more of a spiritual/life-guidance world, but now it’s in the health/fitness/happiness world. See what had happened was, last August I met a health coach on Instagram and she wanted to talk to me about Beachbody. Well naturally, I was immensely skeptical because I didn’t know much about the whole deal and just thought she was gonna throw a sales pitch at me and I wanted nothing to do with it. I even told her right off the bat, “I don’t want to buy anything right now,” and she replied with, “So, I’m a free coach!” And that caught my attention, because, well, FREE. I like free. So I joined this free accountability group that she has on Facebook, and I met a lovely tribe of women who were all on various legs of their fitness journeys, and we got to share and encourage and support each other through successes and setbacks, through gains and losses, and it was just super nice overall. My workout routine at the time needed some help because I was struggling with my postpartum body and its lack of strength and tendency to get injured easily, so I finally signed up for the streaming workout service they offer and completed two programs over the fall. And guess what? That damn baby weight *finally* started coming off. Just workouts, y’all. I did start using the shakes a couple months ago and I now love love love them, but I started with just workouts and lost almost 15 lbs between Aug-Dec, which was huge for my confidence. I started being able to do moves that I hadn’t done in forever, like those lovely burpees I posted about before. This is what I was doing the whole time I kept this blog up, this is how I started feeling like I might get some sense of myself back. And I never really called it out by name (except maybe once?) because I feel like there’s such a stigma attached to the word “Beachbody” (I mean hello, I was instantly turned off when I found out that’s who my coach coached for). But now that I’ve experienced it firsthand I gotta admit—I’m a convert.

So with this rediscovered zest for life, I’ve decided to pass on what was so lovingly given to me—coaching. My coach approached me about becoming a coach myself in December, and I participated in a week-long “sneak peek” and almost immediately knew that I could do this, and I could do it well. It combines two of my favorite things in life, fitness and helping other women. I’m still working on a way to intertwine cats, but if you give me a little time I’m sure I’ll find a way (#catladyforlife). I didn’t really start kicking things into gear until early Feb, once we were nicely ensconced in our new abode, but since then I’ve had the opportunity to share my experience, love, support, and encouragement with several women and it’s been extremely rewarding. It’s also given me a change to start earning an income again, because as much as I love being a mom, I’ll admit that it isn’t enough for me. I have too many passions and interests in life, I don’t want to let my role as a mother take all of that away. Yes, I am absolutely there for our little dummy whenever and however she needs me, but it’s also time for both of us to learn some independence from one another so we can grow and be better for it. She gets daycare, I get to work. I think we’re both getting pretty good deals out of it.

All of that being said, this is not turning into a Beachbody blog. This is and always will be Fit Fam & a Little Ham (unless we have another minion at some point, in which case it’ll be Two Little Hams). Sure, I might talk about which workout I’m doing, but I would do that no matter what program I was using, just like I would talk about which workout studio or gym I was going to if that were the case. But this blog is also for #momlife and family adventures and overseas explorations and venting and all of that wonderful stuff that prompted me to even start this damn thing in the first place. This is my little corner of the world where I can just dump everything and anything and know that y’all will understand. If you choose to learn more about the Beachbody side of my life, connect with me on IG. Even if you’re not into Beachbody, connect with me on IG. There are tons of ridiculous baby videos and cat pictures, you’re really missing out if you’re not on there.

Alright it’s time for me to scrounge up some kind of healthyish dessert. Oh yeah, that’s new too! Hubs and I are trying the “fat adapted” thing (same principles as keto but way less strict). I’ll do my next post about that! I don’t know exactly when that will be because every time I commit to a new schedule I end up not sticking to it, but I’m hoping for twice a month. I feel like that’s doable. Soooo hopefully I’ll see ya in a couple weeks! xoxo

Hiatus Be Gone

OKAY. No more dilly-dallying, no more excuses, no more hiatus. I’m baaaaaack! However, I have decided not to hold myself to any kind of schedule for right now. I don’t want another month-long absence, but I think telling myself I had to post once a week was making me avoid it, especially in weeks of high stress or when I just didn’t know what to say. I actually did draft a post on Halloween, but it’s rambling and pointless and I think served more of the purpose of decluttering mah brains rather than produce actual publishable content. Either way, I’m here now, so, that’s cool.

October flew by, meaning hubs has now been gone a month and I got to dress M up as Wonder Woman while we hung out at home and ate the candy one of our awesome neighbors left for me. The month also brought me more thoroughly back into running. I’ve been trying to go twice a week, and I’ve had some big accomplishments, like running five strollerless miles nonstop, and running my fastest stroller 5k yet at 36m 40s. I have further managed to add a new injury to my ever-healing body—de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, aka “Mommy Thumb”—which is preventing the overuse of my right wrist (no heavy dumbbells, no pushups, etc), and speaking of Mommy things, my own Momma Bear came to visit and it was so good to see her and hug her and watch her play with baby girl and just have grown-up company again.

There were also two milestones of 10.

I’ve written a bit about my several years of poor life choices and near-life-wreckage, but what I haven’t mentioned specifically is that all of the chaos ended with formal sobriety on October 22, 2007, and I’ve maintained it ever since. So, on October 22 this year, I celebrated a decade of sobriety. I have a beautiful life today, and even though I don’t attend 12-step meetings or do what a lot of my sober friends still do, I am very successful at not drinking or using any substances, and I try very hard to not be a havoc-wreaking mess of a girl these day.

The second milestone? TWO sacks of potatoes! That’s right my friends, 10 whole pounds lost. **It was 10.6 at the time of this first draft, but now it’s actually 11.8!** In the featured image above, the top row was from Aug 2, and the bottom is Nov 12. I’m now 180.2, I’ve worked long and hard to get here, and now that I’m 0.3 lbs away from being in a new number bracket (is there a better word for that? tax brackets are for income ranges, so…weight bracket? for weight ranges?), I’m more motivated than ever.

So now that you’re caught up on last month, let’s talk about what’s going on now. For one, I recently learned about something called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Apparently it’s every November, and writers from the newest amateur to the most experienced novelist decide to dedicate 30 days to writing a first draft of a 50,000-word novel (or 1,667 words per day). For some godforsaken reason, I thought it might be fun to try, and while I have already failed miserably because new mom and sore wrist and time change that made me feel like I was dying a horrible fatigue-ridden death, I have started what might end up being an actual book someday.

Ya see, there was a movement that went around recently that many of you may have seen—#metoo. It was a way for women to identify themselves as having experienced sexual harassment or assault, and my newsfeed was flooded, as were those of pretty much everyone I know. I even posted my own #metoo, not with any details, but simply expressing my inclusion. That movement plus NaNoWriMo, combined with the things that cross my mind when I look at my baby girl, got me thinking about all the experiences I’ve had in my life that have molded me into who I am today. I’m not just talking about the bad ones, but the good stuff too, like watching my nanny play these two certain songs on the piano over and over and over again, stopping and restarting every time she made a mistake, and how that led to me taking lessons for eight years, which later led to me composing music and entering a songwriting contest just a few years ago. And of course there are shitty memories, like my #metoo moments and being mercilessly teased for my weight all through elementary school, but there are also negatives that led to really positive outlooks. For example, the day I realized that my inner thighs that I hated so much have touched every single day of my entire life—literally—so I’ve spent many long, painful years trying to change something that will quite likely never change, and that all the self-judgement I weighed myself down with was because of what I thought I “should” look like, instead of who I am. I know I’m kinda running away with this right now, but I mean think about your own lives—are there not a hundred little memories that you think about all the time? Are there not defining moments that, whether you realized it at the time or not, were ones that would forever change your shape, even if only a little? My mind is filled with those moments, and I think—I hope—that by laying them all out in some kind of rough chronological order, they might provide some insight, some relatability, some point of identification for other women out there who have been molded too. And of course, I know the mens out there have had their own defining experiences, but as I have no penis, I will be sticking with the ladies on this one.

I’m gonna keep working on the book a little at a time, as my life permits, and I hope I can stay motivated enough to see it through to the end. It’s kind of a huge undertaking, but if I get the first draft done and stop my inner editor from trying to perfect everything the first go-round, I think I’ll be good to go. In the meantime I will also be continuing to run and keep up with my new home kickboxing workouts, and I get to experience my first attempt at air travel with the child later this week, so pray for us. Florida for a few days and then a quick turnaround to see hubs for Turkey Day (which should be extra fun now that minion is eating big girl foods)—gobble, gobble!

Have a lovely start of November, my fellow humans. I’ll be back in a couple weeks!

Progress Report

This is a progress update, I promise, but as much as I tried to talk myself out of doing this, I have to say something first. I was going to avoid it because I hesitate to speak out on issues sometimes, especially online, because people online be cray and I don’t wanna drag that madness into my life, but given the events of this past weekend and the bundle of joy that’s asleep in the next room, I can’t help but address it.

I am a child of the mass-shootings generation. I grew up hearing about Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Fort Hood…and as I grew older they started becoming scarier and scarier because I started to comprehend the helplessness of the victims and the randomness with which they were targeted. I walked into college classes and started becoming suspicious of students who seemed “off” or “unusual,” wondering if one day they would show up armed, turning myself and classmates into statistics.

Last summer when the Orlando nightclub shooting happened, hubs and I were just a couple short months away from trying for our first baby, and the event hit me differently than it had before. All of a sudden I found myself terrified at the idea of bringing a tiny, innocent human into the world, one who would be faced with all of these demons and threats and dangers that I simply can’t protect her from all the time. For the first time in my entire life, I questioned whether I should have children. I have always wanted to be a mother. Always. There has never been a doubt in my mind about having children and raising a beautiful and loving family, but seeing such a horrible and unpredictable world certainly gave me pause. And the most disturbing thing about it all is that no matter how many times it happens, and no matter who it happens to, nothing changes. We aren’t doing anything about it. We mourn, and “send prayers,” but then something shiny distracts us and the chatter goes away until—quelle suprise!–it happens again.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I have opinions about gun control and mental health care and the political chaos surrounding both issues, and when I can vote on those matters I do. But still nothing changes. I recently mentioned that we’re moving to South Korea in January, and at least once a week someone mentions that they’re concerned for us because of our neighbors to the north. But ya know what? I’ll probably be safer there than I am here. Domestic terrorism is alive and well, my friends, and we have to do something different if we don’t want it to continue.

I believe in love. I believe in light and hope and strength and faith and peace and brotherhood and unity and joy. I believe in humanity, as hard as it may be sometimes. I believe a stranger when they smile at me in passing, and in the instant connections and bonds I’ve made with random customer service reps when I’ve called about a simple question and stayed on the phone an extra 10 minutes because we clicked and starting laughing and chatting. I believe that we have the ability to make the world better, as long as we don’t give up on ourselves. And I believe that I’m supposed to bring new life here, which is why my ridiculous baby girl exists. What I refuse to believe is that we’re a lost cause, that humanity is in an inescapable downward spiral. Do we have some work to do? Fuck yes. But we are so, so capable of doing it.

That all being said, I promised a progress report, and that’s what you shall get.

The pics above with the black bra were taken on August 28, and the ones with the striped bra are from today. I can’t see a difference (except that I apparently can’t take pics at the same distance with any consistency), but the changes are definitely there. Since the original pics I’ve lost 3.8 lbs, making my total loss now 7 lbs, and I’m also down a full percent in body fat. What I’ve gained though is much more significant. Other than 0.5% muscle mass and some notable quad definition, I’ve also gained self-confidence, pride, excitement, and maybe just a smidge of badassedness, all resulting from constantly pushing my limits and encouraging myself to succeed at everything I put my mind to. I mean, yesterday I ran three miles straight, including part of that with a stroller, after not having run in well over a month. And earlier in September I did 100 burpees in just under 18 minutes. That’s rewarding as hell! With every passing week my body continues to surprise and impress me in ways far beyond anything a scale could ever show.

As I was working on this post, I got news that my basal cell removal surgery got moved up from October 24 to tomorrow, soooo I’ll be taking the next 10 days off of workouts. Hubs is about to take a two-month absence starting Saturday thanks to this schooling thingy he has to go to pre-Korea, so we weren’t expecting that he’d be able to be here for me for this procedure. I’m very grateful that he now will be, even if it’s not exactly how I’d hoped to spend one of our last few days together. But, it will be easier on me, him, and the bebe this way, so we’ll make it work!

Once I’ve recovered from surgery, I will do my best to not sulk about missing hubs (though that will obvs happen from time to time), and instead I plan to keep challenging myself in new ways and make the most of our time apart. We recently set the goal of doing our first Spartan Race (a Super) in June 2018, so my running game needs to be majorly stepped up. I’ll be chopping up my strength training routine so that it’s now four times a week, and then I’ll run twice. And since I’ll be running with a stroller 99% of the time, my non-stroller running should be vastly improved two months from now.

I hope you all have a peaceful remainder of the week, filled with buckets of love and positive juju and cat pictures. In the words of the great Albus Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”