Master of all or Master of Nothing.

So this week was insane for a host of reasons most of which were my own doing. I kept wanting to complain and then would say to myself, “Don’t glorify busy.” The type of busy I was was not a good thing. I should have said no. But I didn’t. And then when I started running fevers and pretended to feel okay I should have definitely said no but I didn’t. 

Sometimes I get very afraid to let others down despite knowing that most of the time others will let me down in a way I am not willing to do to others. I wonder why that is sometimes. I get jealous of others that can say no and know their limits. I find out every year that my limits are forced upon me by my body saying no. That is where I am at. I have been sick for 6 weeks at this point. My immunity is clearly compromised by something. 

So I begin to list in my head toward the end of week things that are in my power to control and change. Some of this will end up being a review of my latest fitness program and some is just me thinking out loud for all of you. I started Masters Hammer and Chisel with the approach to become more lean and hopefully find ways to fit into my saggy skin. I cut my calories down from my usual 1400-1600 to 1100-1200 because that is what I know on this program. It follows 21 fix portions. The problem I believe to be I need more calories now. My metabolism is much higher than it was a year ago. But I did and will follow the program for my last week. But I need more proteins and carbs than I am getting. I feel it. 

I love the weightlifting of the program, but I don’t find myself satisfied with doing it daily. I know the benefits of weightlifting and this program showed me that. But I like to sweat, I like to feel out of breath and see and feel my body move fast. I think if I were eating more of the above I may have enjoyed it more. 

The second part to this is I have a long torso and short legs. Large calves run in my family. The weight loss and running  

 really started to trim them down where I begin to not feel so conscious of them. This program went the other direction with that. My thighs grew 1.5 inches, my above knee grew 1 inch, my below knee grew 1 inch and my calves grew 2 inches. I recognize this is muscle but I don’t want that. I want that in my biceps and forearms and I got it, but not in my legs. 

The good parts of this program are feeling my bones and curves more than I ever have. I mentally and physically feel strong. My veins have been popping in my hands and arms showing more muscle definition. My skin in my abdominal region is getting looser. So yes it works, but never will I have a 6 pack that is promised on this program. And I don’t mean I don’t have one because I do. It is just under lots of skin so you won’t see it. 

I also have lost about 11lbs on it. But again I have been sick and had zero appetite. So basically, I am admitting I probably didn’t do the program total justice by not eating enough for what I was lifting and that made me feel depleted and spent. And if I am totally honest (don’t flame me) I find Autumn absolutely condescending and uninspiring. I know she has a following and I understand it because her portion control system saved my life, but her motivation methods do not work for me. I feel insulted on every level when she talks and by the things she says. Now Sagi is amazing. I put him up there with Shaun T. and Chalene Johnson. Maybe it is my perception, so I own that. But I willing to try again later. I do know I like to lift weights and will continue to do so for my arms. They need it. 

But let’s talk other factors that are pulling at me. Work is nuts. It is so hard to keep a work life balance sometimes but sometimes I just have to mentally tell myself to be present and forget work. It is hard because sometimes that means I can’t do the things I want to do. Even more so because I love my job so much it doesn’t feel like work. 

And TN I have been kinda silent about it all because it is different this year. It isn’t as frequent, but it is far more demanding. When triggers would happen before the pain would happen and then immediately be replaced by what he described as tingling and numbness. Well that barrier has been replaced by the typical pain. The numbness and tingling isn’t always happening. In fact, it probably only does about 20% of the time. But it doesn’t happen as often. As well, he is on high doses of his epileptic drugs to control. He saw neurologist last week and not a lot to report other than that is how TN works. It will increase in pain every year. Then we explore options again. Until then he takes his meds and increase dosages if needed. Such is the life with TN. 

Basically, I need to stop making life and all or nothing and look at it more at what I can accomplish and when and feel less guilty about what others see and think of my ability to be super me at everything. I logically know this but then life happens, I get busy and before I know it I am not living but surviving. Getting through till the next weekend where I can collapse and charge just enough to get through the next week. That isn’t how I want to live. So new goal for this week is to say no to something and be okay with it. 

Photo Credit: a student took this picture on my iPad and I have loved it and I really presents how I feel right now…a spiral staircase in the dark. That sound sad or lonely, but it really isn’t. That is life….thank you to the kiddo who took this because you get me. 

Yes this.

Living life to the max over here in Indiana. I am overwhelmed. Stressed. Tired. Feeling pulled in every single direction and trying to do it all with a smile. It is all about perspective, I know and I need to find some….NOW!

I teach college speech. That means that I get to teach the crescendo ending to a speech and no one had that better than Martin Luther King Jr. and every semester I play his, “I have been to the mountain top” speech  because there is no speech better to create a movement than that one. You know how I know? Because every single time I play it my students af7979c306be6eecd0850783f3c5bc30transform into action. I see engaged faces and eyes, reactions to each and every single word and the build up always creates movement. Movement that seems and feels unintentional with the most intention. I love watching it and I love that still after all this time this speech can insight such a response.

But still today we struggle with the same issues. The same prejudices. It is still ugly and we still have miles to go. It seems so simple to me and I wonder where things get complicated. Just a minute ago as I replayed this speech for my girls to hear (yes I am that mom) my youngest said to me.

“Mom, he just had a dream. Not the kind you have night. The kind where everyone matters no matter what. They are all special no matter their skin color, favorite color, hair color or the way they talk.”

Why can it not be that simple. Sometimes it seems as if we have gone backwards and hate breeds stronger in our hearts and minds. And I don’t know how others cope, but my one true method will always be with love. I have seen it change and move mountains in the way MLK talked about in this speech.

Maybe one day.

 

Make Cookies, Not War

Reblogging this recipe because it honestly is the absolute best chocolate chip cookie recipe I have ever had. I have made it three times for my family since New Year’s. I don’t get to eat them much. but when I do I still love them. My mother in law is the cookie queen!

Mommy Rhetoric

Okay MR readers, did you know Momma can get a little grumpy or say moody? Well I can. This time of the year is the worst. These three-four weeks we are in. My guy’s golf season is starting with long matches and practices. I have all the responsibilities of a graduate student at the end of the semester and a college instructor at the end of the semester. To say things are overwhelmingly busy is not enough because I didn’t even add in my kiddos schedule all of which doesn’t include #3. She doesn’t do anything outside of riding in the taxi at this point.

Well every spring it turns into war around here. It is him saying,  “I need to be here, you have to keep the girls.” Or it is me saying, “I need you to be here, you have to keep the girls.” Every year it takes…

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Teaching Our Daughters to be Includers

This past week I read a truly amazing post. One of those posts that you say to yourself, “Oh that is what I am.” This past year has been a struggle in my home with mean girls and sometimes mean boys. And I tried so hard to make my kiddo see she can’t control others, but she can control her reaction to them.

But I can easily repeat this line:

“The details are my daughter’s to share someday.  When my daughter — your daughter — is looking back on her childhood, she will tell her own story and it’ll be one of how we walked alongside our girls. How we empowered them.”

-Lisa McCrohan 

And that is me following my own best advice. Instead of focusing on the ins and outs of others behaviors I have spent the last year trying to lift her up, empowering her and trying hard to walk along side her in positivity and kindness.

I sat back and thought about where this all came from for me? I am an includer as well. I hate seeing others left out. I have no great bullying story. I didn’t have the lunch table leave outs. Or the purposeful unkindness. Sure I had times when others weren’t nice to me and would say or do other unkind things. But never to the extent that I felt bullied.

But what I did always do was set myself up to make that sort of behavior unacceptable. In school if my friends treated others that way I had no problem distancing myself from them. If a friend treated me that way I never struggled walking away. It was pretty black and white for me.

My daughters and students often ask me, “were you popular in school ?” My answer is always “I don’t know.” I truly see myself/saw myself as friends with all others. The mean girls didn’t bother me because they weren’t a part of my world. But I can tell you when they were mean to others the people they hurt were a part of my world. I invited them and accepted them for who they are. I have raised my girls to be the same.

I parent/teach similarly. I tolerate no meanness and unkindness. I have taught them to be inclusive and honest. Since they were little I taught them the meanest kids need the most love. It worked beautifully when they were small and young and things were easier. But now they are getting older and the meanness and unkindness is ramped up. It is harder to love unlovable behavior.

But I try so hard to remind them that returning the unkindness creates a circle of unkindness and cruelty. That if we respond in a honest but loving way to both our self and the offender it breaks the cycle. It plants a seed. The decision that we get to make then is do we sit around and watch it grow or just move on with knowing we showed a kindness that wasn’t shown to us.

But when you are young that is so hard. But that is the ugly part. If one responds to it doling the same treatment received nothing changes. Includers aren’t created. The best I can do as a mother and teacher is remind them the day will come when it will hurt less and they will change someone. Someone will decide to be kinder because they showed them kindness when they didn’t deserve it. More than anything I want my daughters and students to choose to be amazing.

“Brave”

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up

Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there,
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing,
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue

Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good,
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

 

And I do. (Teacher Life)

The longer I have been a teacher the more I have realized that sometimes my job is to sit back and listen. It isn’t to always talk at you or to you. Sometimes you need me to hear the words you think no one actually hears. The words that are sometimes hard to hear you say.

I want to stop you. I want to say, “I am afraid for you.” But you don’t need that from me in that moment. You need to to smile and hug you and tell you, “You can do this. It will be hard, but I believe in you.” And I do.

Sometimes on your path I am finding I am your last stop or the stop off to the next one. education-inspiration-quotes-11-638But most of the time I just sit praying, that you hear my words that you can and do deserve better in this world. I want to follow you on your path, so you know someone is there and has your back for those moments of doubt. You would look back and I would be standing there smiling and shaking my head yes.

But there is a time when that is no longer my role. There is a time when I have to watch you jump off that cliff and wonder if you will drop or fly and I hold my breath as I wait. The wait never gets easier or less emotional.

The reality is that I know some of you will fall and I will wonder if I did enough to offer you a safety net. I will question if I played a role. But most of the time that is my path impeding on your path and I begin to recognize we all have different paths for our lives and we all need the time and space to find them.

But I can’t lie and say as your teacher I am not scared for you. The world is hard and cruel, but in that hardness sometimes there are just some absolutely breathtaking rewards. Sometimes they are people, sometimes they are moments and sometimes they are just a fleeting thought that corrects your path.

My biggest hope is that once you reach your destination and you see your growth and change I hope that you still see me standing there as you look back reminding you, “You can do this. It will be hard, but I believe in you.” And I do. 

Old Habits Will Always Die Hard

Last night I did what I knew I shouldn’t do…The one thing all the gurus tell you NOT to do.

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I compared myself with someone else. I have gotten really good at not comparing my REVOLUTION with someone elses. It isn’t fair to me and it sets me up. I know this LOGICALLY. In the last year or so, I have really set up quite the social media support network of others who are on similar paths to weight loss and wellness. Notice I said similar. Similar and same are so far apart.

I won’t share the name of whose site I was perusing. But I will share that they shared their current weight. They had a picture of their before and a picture of their after. Their after photo weight was more than my own. And they were gorgeous. I mean breathtaking I want to look like that in my weight loss skinny. It was healthy and beautiful.

The first instinct I had was to hate myself. The second was to go to the kitchen. I hated myself because despite weighing less than the person who posted I still looked down at my own body in hatred. My own body that I have pushed so long and so hard this year. In that moment all saw about myself was all the negative. How in the world is that fair to me? It isn’t.

And why then is my gut instinct to give up and feed myself and to throw away a full year of hard work and tremendous amounts of weight loss that people would love to have? All like it never happened? Why is it to go out to the kitchen feed that idea of myself so that it matches with how I feel? So I can feel the hot seer of my own shame? So I continue on this ridiculous path of hatred? Because I am not already hard enough on myself (see evidence above)?

Some days I wonder if I will ever fully be in love with myself and my body. I mean I have grown and bore three beautiful daughters, nourished each and every one of them, I have pushed myself so far beyond my own limits and imaginations physically/mentally and still that is not enough to look in the mirror and be proud.

Proof that so much of this journey is a mental battle. I know how to eat, I know how to exercise. I don’t know how to self love. I try. I have moments. Then they pass.

 

Life interrupted.

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I climbed into a booth for my usual Saturday date night with my guy. We have been doing this almost a half a year at this point. On Saturday night the girls scatter around and we sneak off for a quick dinner out in our dinky town. The chill outside was so cold and temps dropping.

He ordered a beer and I ordered my unsweetened ice tea. They bring the chips and salsa. I look up and his face is motionless. His eyes afraid. I whisper, “What’s the matter?” I get nothing, not even an eye blink.

I get in a bit more of a panic and say, “Are you okay?” But I knew. My heart knew. He held still each of his muscles contracted so as to avoid any sudden movement. He points his finger to his jaw. I look down.

I waited so he didn’t have me staring at him. It felt like awhile and looked back up and said sadly, “Are you okay?” He didn’t say much. Then he said, “That hurt.” I asked if it was eating? He shook his head unsure.

We sat silent for awhile. Both of us knowing what the other was thinking. Is this happening again?  Is eating going to trigger his pain again? I cannot stand silence, so I asked, “Has this been happening?” He said, “Not really.” As he finished that he trailed off….Motionless face. Stiff muscles. Again not even three minutes later. We sat there and he had a few more.

Today continued with some more. I am not sure if it is the cold or the barometric pressure. Both can easily be a trigger. I wonder if it is the stress. We have had some added stress at home with various things. All are triggers. But then it could just be TN because TN works like that. No rhyme, no reason….LIFE interrupted. Time will reveal I guess.

It is here. My Fitaversary.

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I went to go look and see if I commemorated it any special way here on my blog a year ago and nothing. I remember the trepidation with which I faced this day a year ago. I wasn’t doing anything than I had ever done. I wanted a change. I wanted to try to change. But secretly I doubted my ability to do it.

I started off simple with T25. I didn’t change my diet. I didn’t change the way I looked at food or how I let it rule me and my emotions. But I did show up. I found my accountability partner who had been flirting with working out. I joined her process.

If I am honest I didn’t think I would stick to it….or if I did I planned to eat the way I was and just work out. Eventually, I realized you CANNOT work away a bad diet. It is impossible. I also learned more than anything, I need to love myself more than that.

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In my year in review I covered how I had been committed to daily workouts and I was feeling so strong and so good and convinced I had lost some weight and I felt great. I had my daughters snap a picture of me with my guy and when I saw it, I was devastated. That was the beginning of my end. I ordered 21 Day Fix that day or soon after and by the following week I was finally doing it.

I started here….

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Both pictures I hoped would never see the light of day. But now I wear them proudly like a badge of honor. This was me this weekend to commemorate what I knew what was coming.

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I tried to recreate the whole picture for others to see the drastic changes that can happen in a year. I am living proof of love and consistency pays off. Are there things I would still like to look better? Yes. I have so much skin. In fact, so much skin I get really worried about losing much more because it gets saggier by the day. Under my chin, my thighs, my stomach and my arms. I am hoping lifting weights will help me grow into my skin.

But alas that too uncovers my insecurities because my inches are going up. And I know they should. But I have short legs and meaty calves and thighs. I always have. Even when I was at my prime of health playing softball my thighs and calves were so muscular. I am insecure about it.

I am happy with the arms. It is helping tighten up the skin. So I guess those inches are okay. My waist and hips continue to decrease in inches. I just hate the way any movement out or in and the way it plays with your head. Proof that I am in this battle for the long haul. I have no intention to change my ways. I need this now.

And more than anything I like what I see in the mirror more and more. I just gotta keep working for it and to keep it. That is love winning. <3

 

 

Taco Challenge. 

My #3 is so into YouTube kids that I have to demand she take breaks from the iPad or her TV. She knows, watches and sees literally every kid like YouTube challenge that exists. Thus the birth of a new idea for our family. Winter meals are so hard around here for a few reasons. 

I get so bored cooking in the winter because we get into a rut of eating the same things every day. I know what they like and they aren’t fans when I change it up without their permission. The second reason is I work normal business hours. My school practices the later hours so we go from 9-4:30. Then I work about a half an hour from work. Or add in a drama production. Dinner requires quite a bit of advanced planning. 

  Well with the challenges I was thinking I could add a food challenge for us to spice it up. My family loves tacos of many varieties. We have kinda perfected our own beef taco, but I get bored with it. We sometimes will throw chicken tacos in there. On Christmas night I challenged my family to eating tacos twice a week through March. 

And we begin pinning recipes like crazy.  I am hoping it gives us something to look forward to weekly. Tacos are very easy to accommodates to my healthy eating. It is easy to plan or make ahead and throw together. The girls get excited by the possibilities of something different. 

We went ahead and started this week….with one new taco recipe and one I make when we need to eat it for a day or so. We started with fried tacos and I threw in fried tortilla chips. The recipe was amazing and I just kept our usual taco recipe. To make the healthy alternative I ate mine out of a sturdy lettuce leaf. You can use any type of green leaf veggie. We loaded ours up with tomatoes, lettuce and salsa. Honestly, in my opinion salsa is the key ingredient to most tacos. I prefer to make my own, but when there isn’t time I will purchase from our local Mexican restaurant. But at the store I will buy the cleanest variety I can get my hands on. 

My guy and I have a tradition every New Year’s Eve to have spicy Mexican cheese dip. This year I made it, but didn’t eat much because it isn’t really my thing anymore. But to go with with it I decided to make our tried and true carnitas (aka park tacos). This is a family favorite, but when you make it you gotta plan on feeding either a lot of people or eating it for a few days.

We take a whole pork roast and put it in the crock pot with 1-2 cups of water. Add taco seasoning and one jar of salsa. If you like it hot I suggest adding sriracha sauce. Then let that baby cool in its juices till it shreds with a fork. Then remove it and 

  keep the liquid. Shred the pork. Throw into a sauce pot, add back the juices and cook till the liquid evaporates. This is the secret because it intensifies the flavor. Skipping this step will make a milder boring flavor in my opinion. If time allows you could add shredded pork back to the crockpot for an hour or so. I have done both. Serve however you would serve a taco. It is amazing. 

So we had that last night with our dip. My girls will eat it and we have food leftovers for today. It is pretty much the only way I will eat pork. I am not a fan of pork like at all. I have tried to like it but NOPE. For my family any taco must have Mexican cheese….the only place I can find it is Kroger and it their store brand. It is called Queso Blanco Quesadilla Cheese. If you can find a block of Monterey Jack shred it and it works similarly.  

I can also tell you my family is incredibly picky about shells. They don’t usually like a hard shell. They love Mission extra fluffy soft shells. To make it healthier use the trick above serving taco fixings in a leafy green, but if you don’t like that or prefer a carb here you can opt for a corn tortilla. I opt for the cleanest version I can find. If lay them over your oven rack hanging over at 350 they will crisp up in about five minutes. You could also make a flat version on a cookie sheet. Sometimes I will add a tablespoon of coconut oil to a pan and crisp them that way. That is usually when I am not in a program. That is because coconut oil is good for you. If I want to brown something this is usually my preferred oil because of these facts.

So happy taco challenge to my family. I am sure we will fail, but it will be so fun trying to master this challenge and yummy.