Friday, May 20, 2016

Some Favorites on a Friday

Forgive me, my loves. It has been a whole month again. I have such valid excuses, really! Softball, a wedding, work has been insane, and I'm taking a management course for work. I love school, and have a true "teacher's pet" streak going, so I am loving this course, even if the material is rather dry. I have skipped more boot camps than I've attended, and my eating has gotten crazy again. Which has led me to more soul-searching, because nobody is better equipped to analyze my crazy than my own crazy brain, right? I'll address this briefly a little later, as it pertains to one of my favorites, and further over the next month.

It's been awhile since I wrote a good list. Let's go over some of my favorite things from the last few months:

1. Emily McDowell The most excellent cards and gifts. I've posted pictures of my favorite work mug on Instagram, but I've also bought the best cards here. They just say such fantastic things. If you follow her on Instagram, you often get lovely discounts. Who doesn't love discounts?

2. J.P. Sears and his hilarious YouTube videos, Ultra Spiritual Life. As a person who actually loves to look at yoga Instagram pictures, this video is my favorite:
He also does serious, life-coaching-like videos, but who wants serious?

3.  Instagram. Yeah, I'm late to the party. I don't care, I really love it. At times inspiring, amusing, and friendly, I feel comfortable there. Unlike Twitter. Dumb Twitter. I got an account to follow my sweet pumpkin, Jenny Lawson, but it's like a crowded room in there, and I have trouble keeping my head above the fray. So I stay out. Stick to the Instagram.

4.  Essencha Tea House, and their Valerian Dream tea. It is the only way I get to sleep early enough on Sunday nights to get to 5AM boot camp on Monday mornings. It smells like butt, but it tastes fine, and helps me calm my brain. No easy feat, that.

5.  New blog I'm following: fANNEtastic Food. She is a registered dietitian specializing in whole foods and intuitive eating, and she has some excellent recipes. She and two other RD bloggers I follow, Avocado a Day and Delish Knowledge are running a course on Intuitive Eating, and I have signed up for the course - happy early birthday to me! I have been intrigued by the concept of intuitive eating for some time, mainly because I have problems with binging, and I lost touch with my hunger cues years and years ago. The Whole30 was definitely effective for me in February, but it was so restrictive, and as soon as the 30 days were up, I binged like I would never see ice cream again. Maybe taking away choices isn't the answer, but understanding my body better is (there was also the whole "beans and whole grains are unhealthy" bit that really irritated the logical side of me.) The course is called Joyful Eating, Nourished Life, and I am excited to get started, for three reasons: I am interested in intuitive eating and learning about it and my own body, I'm a big nerd and I enjoy taking classes, and I am more and more convinced that health and wellness is the field I should go into (yeah, I'm 40, obese, and thinking I want to go into the health and wellness field, so what of it? Others have faced bigger challenges...), and this is a step in the right direction. I will keep you all up to date.

So there are some favorites for right now. I am playing in a charity kickball tournament tomorrow, and I am way more excited than I should be. I'm already on the team, guys, so I won't be picked last. And I always liked kickball. And, you know, it's for a good cause.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

R2, D3 Reboot

Fell off that cheerful Whole 30 wagon last week. And I'll tell you why - I was off Monday and Tuesday and thought, "pfft, I don't need to spend all day Sunday prepping when I'm not having to go to work." And then, I didn't prep on Monday or Tuesday, either, and then I just ate all the unhealthy foods.

So I spent Sunday prepping lots of food, and hanging with my brother, and doing a very little bit of yard work. It was busy, and messy, and I took some pictures of my mess. Wanna see?
Food prep =so much chopping + piles of dishes

But it also = a fridge full of meals
Remember last year I told you all about my dirty little (right in the front yard), prairie-like, weed-filled secret?
Yeah, still there.

3 feet of progress. I would like to figure out some lovely, native, easy to care for plants to plant, and also lay mulch. But, so many weeds. 

I've been in a rather irritable mood this week. Heavy work load, not enough sleep, no sugar. I've kept my temper for the most part, but yesterday I worked a late day, then left for my daughter's softball game and the traffic was beyond terrible. Accidents in several different spots, people driving like idiots, sirens everywhere. I figured there was no way I was going to make the game, so I got on the expressway going home. Then my husband told me the game was an hour later, so at the last minute, I got off to go the other direction. Got to the school, the softball field was, like, a mile away from the parking lot, since, you know, it is a girl's sport, and we always get the short end. Ok, so extra steps on my Fitbit, which is a good thing, since I left it at home today (forehead - palm). I get up to the field, and they only have bleachers on the home side. By this point, I had that angry, breathless feeling in my chest, and I said a few stupid, jerky things, although not very loudly, as I just don't tend to express the anger very loudly. I sat on the concrete against a wall and sulked, until a precious Great Dane puppy came by, and licked my hand, and, well, you just can't stay angry when you pet a puppy, can you? Even when you have horrible asthmatic reactions to puppies, you have to giggle and love on a puppy.
The game went very late, and they ended up losing by one in overtime - varsity and JV. I was whining in my head about being tired, but I realized it was almost 10:00PM and my daughter still had homework to do, so I just sucked it up and stayed up with her while she finished it (not her fault - they had to be out there by 4PM, and it's almost an hour away. They get a lot of homework in 7th grade! Today I had terrible cravings, but I was exhausted, and there are monthly reasons, so I figured out the cravings, and the really irritable mood. Which was only exacerbated by my having to take poor Finny to the vet today since his sugar hasn't gone down enough, and having to wait for 35 minutes. I realize that is not particularly terrible, but for them it is, and I had just come from work, so I wasn't happy. Neither was Finny, for that matter, who is not particularly chill when it comes to having blood drawn. Or riding in the car. Or other cats, especially the office cat, Punkin, who brings out the loud, screamy side of Finnegan.

You may have noticed I'm a bit scatty tonight, and I am kind of just typing whatever comes to mind. Now, the idea of drinking tea and eating one of my brownie ball things and then going to bed is coming to mind, so I think I shall do that.

Monday, April 11, 2016

1 week in, random thoughts

Went 7 days on Whole30, and cheated today. I am not giving it up - I'll be back on tomorrow. I didn't binge; just ate very noncompliant foods. I promise, I am not being all, "I slipped up, never mind, I'm done." I actually made a pretty conscious decision to cheat today.

My girl has a minor dental procedure tomorrow, and I decided to treat us both today. We ate deliciously, we shopped a bit, bought some spa-like stuff (masks and nail polish,) and we got pretty pedicures. Now she's watching Daredevil, which leads me to my next thought...

Foggy Nelson's passive-aggressive whining makes me crazy. Matt Murdock's overdramatic martyr attitude makes me crazy. Don't get me wrong, I will watch season 3 of Daredevil (can anyone beat Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk? I think not.) But give me some Luke Cage any day.
Aw yeah.

And speaking of hot guys, I went to work out with my friend M the other day. It was a good workout - I was able to workout with his trainer, and while he wasn't the best trainer I've ever worked with, I broke a sweat, and I tried out a rowing machine, which I've never used. We worked the chest primarily, and today I kind of feel like I was punched in the chest. Over and over. It's a bit painful. To get to the point, the trainer was decent looking, which is always a nice thing, but even better - ok, I will never leave my beloved boot camp. I get a better workout there than anywhere, the support and friendships are wonderful, I love it there. The aesthetic offering of the gym though...they make a girl think. Sorry, guys, I try to be sensitive to your needs for privacy, and I will never interrupt your workout, I promise, but a little objectifying may have been done at the gym that day.

Going to see "Book Of Mormon" last week seems to have rekindled my appetite for theater. I worked late, doing accounting at a high school Relay For Life bank night Friday night, and some of the students were playing the original cast recording from "Hamilton," oh, my, I cannot wait until that gets to Cincinnati. Obviously, I am late to the game with this one, as usual, what with their performances at the Tonys and the White House and all, but it's so good.

I wonder if I would make a good crime boss. I think I would like to try that. Other than the heroin dealing, and the blinding of her "employees," Madame Gao is pretty badass (Daredevil has been on a lot in this house lately. Looking forward to Game of Thrones, though.)

I just finished Rebecca yesterday - it was a good one.

Ok, starting to get a bit scatty. I will not subject you to my brain as it gets ditzier than this.

Good night.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

R2D4 - did you know Jay has a freaking baby?

My husband is watching Comic Book Men (reality show follows the employees at Kevin Smith's comic book store in New Jersey, Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash,) and Jason Mewes brings his baby into the store. I'm a little horrified - someone let him carry a baby? Huh.

So, I'm 4 days into my second Whole30. Mild headache the second day, and I've been a bit tired, but apparently 1 month of debauchery was not enough to re-toxify my body, as I'm not feeling nearly as gross as my first round. It's been interesting - I've been doing this with a group online, and several of the other participants are on their first round. And they are complaining (they must not have a sweet supportive group of lovelies such as yourself to whom they rant,) so much. And one, the other day, was going on about how she hated the food she was eating and she doesn't even want to eat, etc. Every time someone suggested something to help, she would shoot it down, and be all, "no, that won't work, I just don't like that." And my judgmental self wanted to respond, "look, you can find all the excuses in the world to quit, or you can suck it up and find something that works."

Yikes. Who is that woman who wanted to judge. Luckily, she did not have control over my fingers, and I kept my comments to myself. Heaven forbid, someone starts getting on me when I miss a boot camp, or drink a pop when I say I quit. Not that I've had any pop this week - as I've said before, I'm an abstainer.

I haven't bothered blogging these first few days - I thought I'd be feeling crappy and boring. And do you really want to know everything I eat every day? Probably not. I figured I'd just share the highlights - I made "the easiest pork roast ever" - a pork roast (I use loin, due to my hatred of fat on my meat), 1/3 cup coconut aminos, and a bunch of the seasoning blend of my choice (I used Onion Onion by Tastefully Simple.) Cook it all day in the slow cooker - tasty. My potato of choice - microwaved red potatoes with a little ghee and crunchy pink salt. The best compliant chili ever from Today I got off early and went to Whole Foods for lunch - made a big-ass salad from greens, onions, roasted veggies, turkey, and balsamic vinaigrette. Since I'm not trying to eat stuff I hate, I've been enjoying this much more. I'm focusing more on controlling my snacking urges this time around. The last two days have been great, but I haven't worked out. We'll see how much hungrier I am when I am working out.

Also, today, I went by a friend's house to snuggle her 3 month old. I have visited this child 3 times, and every time, she sleeps the whole visit. I cannot get her to wake up. I am going to have to work on my material. Baby snuggles two days this week - I am a lucky lucky girl.

K, night!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Is it April already?

Oh, my sweet potatoes, what a glorious weekend it has been...Friday night I attended our New Year Get Fit session's finale party (for my beloved boot camp.) It was catered by one of the members of the boot camp, and the food was best. party food. Ever!

Ok, funny story...I tend to speak what I write in my mind, and that whole paragraph I spoke in my head in a Scottish accent, as I am writing this as I listen to a recording of The Graham Norton Show (from several years ago) with Gerard Butler, Karen Gillan, and Martin Freeman. My Scottish accent is fantastic in my head.

Anyway, Yesterday I saw Book of Mormon with some friends - oh, such fun! I haven't seen a show in ages, and this one was so irreverent and funny - Loved it! It was probably even better as my 7th grade best friend was Mormon, and I worked with several Elders a few years ago. Wouldn't it be so underwhelming to find out your mission was going to be in...Covington, KY! Woohoo!

Anyway, it was such fun, and I really would love to see it again and take my friend A, who would  love it so very much. Afterwards, I went back to my friends' house and snuggled their precious pumpkin baby, and that was a lovely way to end a lovely afternoon. I closed out the evening watching the rest of the 2nd season of Daredevil with my daughter.

Today, my Dutchy-cat woke me up at 5AM, you know, because she felt 5 hours was plenty of sleep, and we had stuff to do. And I did - so very much food prep:
The jars contain my favorite breakfast soup (chicken, potatoes, spinach,), the plastic containers in the middle contain roasted broccoli, cauliflower, chicken, white and sweet potatoes, baggies of grapes, a jar of dump ranch, and my lunches for the next two days (roast beef, crudites, olives, and ranch.) I have dinners for the week planned. I am pretty well as prepared as I can be. I will be going to boot camp tomorrow. I have to get 480,000 steps by the end of May, which is pretty tough working my job, so.
Let's get this party started.

I am a bit scattered tonight, so I believe I shall be going to bed now. Sleep well, my pumpkins.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

I wish one of my book clubs would pick this book...

Have you gotten around to reading Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin yet? She wrote The Happiness Project, which I truly enjoyed, and Happier at Home, which I enjoyed slightly less. Better Than Before delves into the science and experience of habits, and I found this book to be exceedingly enlightening. I've been wanting to talk to you about this for the past month, and have just not gotten around to it...

Since I have chosen to really focus on health and wellness this year, I read this book at the perfect time. Rubin contends that habits save time and energy.
In other words, if waking up and going to boot camp, choosing veggies over popcorn, and water over soda are habits, they eliminate the time and energy that goes into those particular decisions...

She also says you have to understand your motivation, so that you may determine how you make and break your habits. There are four motivations, dependent upon how you might wish to meet expectations - she calls them the Four Tendencies: Upholder (meets outer and inner expectations,) Questioner (meets inner expectations, questions outer,) Rebel (eschews all expectations,) and Obliger (wants to meet outer expectations, doesn't care about inner expectations.) Guess which one I am.
fb_ObligerHeck yeah, I'm an obliger. One time I opened one of those Dove Promises (dark chocolate, duh,) and the wrapper read, "Keep the promises you make to yourself." I really liked that, and kept it as a quote on my computer at work, but my guess is I kept the saying because I knew it would never apply to me. Sadly, I do not keep the promises I make to myself. If I decide I'm going to boot camp in the morning, there's a 50/50 chance I will turn the alarm off and go back to sleep. But if I make plans to meet a friend there, let Mel know I'll be there, or even just put a Facebook message that I will be there, I will freaking show, because someone may be looking for me, and I don't want to let them down. I didn't keep up with the Whole 30 because I promised myself, I kept it up because I was talking to all of you about it. That really helped. And I'm starting another one on Monday, and you all will be coming along for the ride, because, holy crap, did I just fall off and eat all of the things. Back to all my old, stinky, sugary habits.

Which leads me to the next habit fact from Better Than Before that really resonated: people generally identify as moderators or abstainers, and if you are one, the other tactic generally will not work for you.

Let's explore this a bit, shall we? We've all heard the phrase "everything in moderation," right? You can keep something you enjoy, say, ice cream, in the house, have a small serving every few days, and be happy, and not gain weight...if you are a moderator. But then there are those of us for whom a small serving only whets our appetite for more, and the next thing we know, half the container is gone, and we feel like that ice cream may be showing its not-so-delicious self the way out the in-door. That is why, I think, the Whole 30, with all its strict "I could never stick to that" rules, worked for me. I couldn't eat any of the things I tend to binge on, so I didn't even try to moderate, which more than likely would have led to a binge. I abstained. And that worked. It's the same reason I will not get on the computer for 20 minutes, or watch just one show. I am not a moderator, I am an abstainer. Which makes it easy for me to go for months without alcohol, certainly, but very difficult for me to do anything in moderation.

I may have to read this again, so if you choose to read it, please let me know so we can discuss it. You can find out what your tendency is (my tendency is to want to spell tendency, tendancy...) by taking the quiz here. Although, my tendency was so obvious to me, I did not need any quiz.

So. Yup. Starting another Whole 30 on Monday. I may go a bit longer than 30, and then I will (and I promise to all of you) do a slow, steady reintroduction. I lost 18 lbs on that freaking plan, and I gained back more than half. That was a lot of work to undo, and no Pepsi is worth that. So I will be checking in everyday again - hope you all don't mind. My Obliger self needs you...

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

May you be happy.

I had a rather extraordinary spiritual experience tonight, and I'd like to talk about it, if you don't mind.

I don't meditate much. I have this idea of myself as a spiritual person who meditates, but I really don't - at least not in the traditional, seated meditation. I have friends who say they don't meditate because they can't sit still, or they can't shut their brains off, etc. That's not my issue. It is, like anything else, a discipline, and not one I make time for regularly. As a woman who suffers anxiety and depression, regular meditation would be a useful tool in my kit of healing. When I fit it into my day, specifically my morning, I find myself so much more clear-headed, and calmer.

Regular meditation also fits my happy little hodge-podge spirituality I have developed for myself. Anyone who has read here long enough, or knows me well in real life, knows my spiritual story, mainly because I find spirituality a lovely part of life to discuss, when discussed with open-minded individuals, and some of my friends are kind enough to oblige my desire to discuss. I grew up in the Lutheran church, among some of the kindest and loveliest people I've ever known. The minister was open-minded and compassionate, and the people at church were family. I miss my confirmation friends to this day, and Facebook has been a blessing in that I've been able to catch up on their lives.

What I'm saying here is that nothing drove me from the church. As one with, shall we say, non-traditional beliefs, I meet so many people who have had horrible experiences with church and the people they meet there. That is not the case with me. I taught Sunday School and VBS, sang in the choir, volunteered on committees. And I realized, as I had children and put them in VBS and Sunday School, that I didn't actually believe what I was teaching. I went to church to be social, to belong, because my friends and family were there, because I liked being useful to someone. But when my children would ask me questions about God or heaven, or anything else to do with Christianity, away from church, I didn't want to tell them things I didn't believe. Shortly after I came to this realization, we found out we were moving out of state, and I didn't have to Leave the church in which I grew up. I just moved away, and began my own spiritual journey.

Interestingly enough, with all the aspects of my life which worry me incessantly, my spirituality never did. I have enjoyed this journey. I am fascinated by studying different world religions - the more ancient, the better. I've become close friends with people who practice Buddhism, Judaism, Paganism, Hinduism, and many who practice nothing at all. My own beliefs and practices are informed by a little big of all of it, along with a small dose of my own childhood Christianity, and overall informed by my knowledge that I really know nothing, and that I am okay with that. Such an odd peace to achieve, when I fret about so much else. I, who always worries what others might be saying about me; I, who has a seriously hearty case of paranoia when it comes to even my closest friends; I have had no trouble responding to people who accused me of being a bad mother because I was not raising my children in the church. "How will they know right from wrong, good from bad, if they don't know God?" they ask. My response: a person who does good only because they fear the wrath of God, does not truly know right from wrong. A good person does good for the sake of good. Because it is the right thing to do. That is my belief.

Anyway, if you've made it this far, I appreciate it. I'm not talking about this to start a debate, or for you to save my soul (please don't try to save my soul. I'm ok.) I brought this up because A. I'm feeling introspective, and B. I found myself compelled to light candles tonight.

A photo posted by Missy Schueman Koeppel (@missy_koeppel_) on

This was a ritual I started close to 10 years ago, when we first moved here, and most of my family was out of town. It was inspired by a good and wise friend, who, when someone would talk about something bad happening, would light a candle for them. I took that bit and added in a little of the candle meditation (a very simple and gentle meditation where you focus on the flame of the candle, imagining that you are breathing the light of the candle in and out of you. It strengthens concentration, and sometimes, meditating on a focus object like this can help quiet the mind more effectively.) I haven't done this in 6 years. Life, you know. But yesterday, a coworker spent the day at the hospital with her grandmother. Last night, a good friend had to take her grandmother to chemo. The cashier at lunch today told me she was carrying malachite in her pocket because her grandmother was going through radiation treatments. And each time someone told me something like this, I said, "I will keep you and your family in my thoughts." And today of all days, those weren't just words, and I thought about all these people, and so many others, all day, and when I got home, and I didn't want to go to dinner with my family (no reason, just not hungry,) I saw it as a chance to perform the candle-lighting ritual. So I did, and with each candle I lit, I spoke what I knew of the person who is ill, and the person who is caring for that person, and their family. And then I started saying the names of others who are having some stress in their lives right now - my friend and coworker who is having to control a monster of a workload, and hurt her foot this morning; a friend who had minor surgery last week; my mother, always; a friend from boot camp who got hurt recently and I haven't seen in way too long; another coworker who lost her grandmother recently; another boot camp friend who has the flu...and then those with happy changes made their way into my, now silent, meditation...the families I love who have new babies; the friend with the new job; the friend with new responsibilities at her job; my children, for every reason; divorces, illnesses, deaths, new babies, new jobs, new houses, new coffee mugs...and soon the whole thing coalesced into one recurring thought, "May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful, and at ease."

This is the Metta meditation - the Buddhist meditation of loving-kindness. It was extremely appropriate, but I didn't light my first candle this evening intending to practice the Metta meditation. It happened organically and spontaneously, and it was rather extraordinary.

I feel at peace and very connected to you all this evening.
May we be happy.
May we be well.
May we be safe.
May we be peaceful, and at ease.