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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thoughts & Prayers...

Friends,

I don't usually do this, but I feel like I need to ask. If you pray, please keep my mother in your prayers. If you don't, please keep her in your thoughts. She got some very difficult news yesterday, but we're hopeful that everything will work out okay with surgery and treatment.

May heartfelt thanks. I truly appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 4th in Waco

Beware, I'm about to ramble on and on about the fourth. Proceed at your own risk (of boredom)...

Matt and I had an absolutely awesome time in Waco over the weekend of the fourth! We hadn't seen Amanda and Karen since April 2013 when we went to Waco for Matt's GRE, so a visit was long, long overdue. It has also been years since we've seen the fireworks over the Brazos in Waco and I really wanted to do that this year, so off we went. It's only about 90 miles, so not a bad drive at all.

I spent Thursday night, after therapy and shopping, making food to take with us. I made my first ever potato salad and two batches of Oreo truffles--I made a batch of chocolate and a batch of lemon. On Friday morning I got up early and made a pasta salad and my mom's "cowboy beans" recipe. So, lots of food and it all came out so good. Even I was impressed with my potato salad, especially since it was my first and since I've not always been fond of potato salad.

On Friday afternoon we headed out for Waco. The drive is short and since Matt was tired for having just worked 11 days in a row, I did the driving. I love the drive across there, although at night during the summer it's kind of terrifying because of all the nocturnal animals that live in the pastures along that road (Highway 6 is not exactly a major highway). But, it wasn't a problem since it was the middle of the day and only really stupid dear run out in the road in the middle of the day (still happens... a lot).

Though Amanda was supposed to have to work until 5:30 (she does customer service for Amazon) she took part of the afternoon off to spend with us. So, we had a nice while to visit with her and Karen before their friend and her crew showed up. Every time I see them, no matter how long it's been, its like we just saw one another yesterday. We pick up where we left off, like we see one another every day, which is a rare kind of friendship. And every time I see them I'm reminded how much I miss not seeing them more. Though I see them not nearly often enough, I'm really going to miss them when we move.

At about nine o'clock, Matt and I headed out toward the suspension bridge. Though it isn't that far, the traffic and finding a spot mean even one hour was cutting it close. This is something I don't so much miss about spending the fourth in Waco. The traffic and crowds are unbelievable and it's gotten worse over the years. When Matt and I were first together, the crowds were pretty thick but the atmosphere was something like a really big family picnic. There were families everywhere, everyone seemed to be spreading out on the banks of the Brazos. Everyone respected one another. It was really nice.

This year, it wasn't really like that. This year, for the first time ever, I felt really unsafe. Which, if I'm being honest, sort of pisses me off. I've never, ever felt unsafe in Waco. But, there were teens everywhere, shouting and hollering, setting off fireworks in the crowd (about 20k people out there for this thing). The whole thing was a big old mess. People were pushing and running into one another, not paying attention to where they were going. Two big groups of teenage boys were screaming obscenities at one another and I thought they might fight right there.


Matt and I went out onto the bridge, which I think added to my safety issues. With that many people on the bridge, it sways. Not a little swaying, either, but a lot. It made me a little dizzy and, I think, it also made Matt feel bad. The fireworks weren't that great this year, so going all the way down in there wasn't really worth it. To say I left feeling underwhelmed, upset that I felt unsafe, and annoyed that we walked six blocks and that I risked an anxiety attack in the crowd for less than I expected, would be an understatement.

Afterward, we headed back to Amanda and Karen's place where we stayed the night after spending another chunk of the evening hanging out. In the morning they made us breakfast and we hung out until noon when we went to look at cars (story about that coming soon!) and then came home. All in all, really nice. Matt's only complaint was that, after 11 straight days of work, he didn't get enough time to relax over the three day weekend (relax is code word for sit around, at home, and do NOTHING). But, he got over it.

I think living in a small town has spoiled me a little bit. Our fireworks show in town draws a huge crowd, but no where near like the one in Waco. The people drawn to it are families, teens, couples, but it's comfortable and safe. Clearly, my definition of safety is changing, which makes me a little bit upset for two reasons. First, I'd love to move back to Waco some day. Second, if not Waco, then in another large(ish) city. Feeling unsafe in a town of more than 15,000 isn't really going to help with that.

Okay, so I'm going to stop rambling now. Lots of stuff to do around the house and I have to wait for FexEx (ugh, I hate FedEx!). I hope you had an awesome 4th, whatever you did!!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!!

Happy Independence Day!! If you're celebrating the holiday, I hope you have a fun, safe celebration.

4th of July is one of my favorite holidays and we're going to Waco this afternoon to spend the holiday with our friends, Amanda and Karen, and to see the Fireworks show. Waco is the first place Matt and I spent the holiday together, when we had only been a couple for a little over a month. The glow of fireworks over the Bosque River simply cannot be beat. That we get to spend it with dear friends, whom we don't see often enough, is a serious bonus--We've been friends with Amanda for 13 years and Karen for 12 years!

I do feel a teeny bit bad, though, for abandoning Anakin and Chewbacca on the scariest of all holidays for dogs. Our neighbors have been setting off firecrackers since late last night (they started going off at midnight... rude neighbors!) and every time they crack Ani shivers and looks miserable. I'm just hoping they'll be okay since we won't be home until tomorrow afternoon.

They've been okay every year so far, so I'm sure they'll be fine. They're no less afraid with us here. Now I'm off to find an ice chest and a bag of ice for the food I made to take with us. The potato salad, pasta salad, Oreo truffles, and the candy bars for the s'mores need to stay cool between here and there.

Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Therapy, Anxiety, & Friendship

After years of denial and convincing myself that I'm okay, I've finally acknowledged that it's not true. I'm not okay. So, about a month and a half ago I found a cognitive behavioral therapist and have been going to therapy. Unlike last time, when I cancelled my appointment the day before and never made another, I've actually been going. There have only been three sessions so far, I go every other week. I go again tomorrow afternoon.

As a part of my therapy, my counselor suggested that I use a technique where I allot time every day to worry and during that worry session write down all of the things I'm feeling anxious/worrying about. Then mark off all of the things I can't control. Ideally, I should be left with a list of the things I can control and can make a reasonable plan to tackle. It has worked, for the most part. I still catch myself worrying all the time. It takes an act of will to stop the worry which is exhausting and sometimes pointless because it doesn't always work.

Through this exercise, I've come to understand that I spend a lot of time worrying and feeling anxiety over my friendships. I know a fair number of people, but there are very few that I consider real friends. I try to take friendship pretty seriously, a lesson from my early adulthood when I took some people I loved for granted and it led to heartbreak. So to be spending so much energy feeling anxiety about my friendships, when it seems to be adversely affecting my health, is on that list of things I feel like I can (or should) control.

So I've decided to make it a priority because it's seriously compounding my depression. The plan is simple and looks like this:
  • Stop spending so much energy caring about people who don't care back.
  • Stop reaching out to people who don't reach back.
  • Stop working on one-sided friendships.
  • Value myself enough to stop inching further and further out on a breaking limb by remembering that people who don't value me aren't worth the emotional toll it takes to feel anxiety over them.
  • Acknowledge, if only to myself, when I really just don't like someone enough to expend the energy it takes to pretend that I do.
Those are my plans objectives. Here are the action steps:
  • Don't call or text people who just ignore it.
  • Don't call or text people who never do the same.
  • Don't email, Facebook, or otherwise attempt to engage people who don't respect me enough to even acknowledge the effort.
  • Don't put myself out there to help people who wouldn't do the same.
It should be easy, the steps are clear enough, but even making a plan and making it public is giving me anxiety. Maybe when it's done and out there I'll feel better? The thing is, I fold. I get lonely and reach out to people who don't even care enough to pretend they want to talk to me.

Unfortunately, I have an all-consuming fear that if I stop chasing dying embers, I'm going to end up without anyone. Which sounds like a pity party, and maybe it is, but it's a valid fear. There's nothing irrational about it. I have certainly found myself without friends before, though the last time it was of my own poor choices. This time, it's not me. It's them.

I've always told myself that this is in my head, that my friends care about me and that it's my insecurity telling me otherwise, but I'm not doing that anymore. I'm done making myself feel like an insecurity head-case with an inferiority complex. All that does is hurt me, particularly since it is NOT TRUE. I'm old enough, and observant enough, to look around me and see when people just don't care. Making myself sick about it isn't hurting anyone but me, which only makes it worse, because while I worry and feel anxiety they don't even notice.

Enough is enough. This is one thing I'm working to check off the list. Therapy won't work if I don't use it to try to fix the things that I can see are broken. This is broken, I'm acknowledging this is broken, but unlike so many other worries, I can do something about this. It has been on my worry list almost every day. Soon I hope it won't be. Wish me luck mental fortitude. I'm going to need it.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

21 Day Fix: Problems & Modifications

I've been on the 21 Day Fix for almost a week (5 days) and in that time have seen zero progress--no weight lost, no inches lost. I've never ever done a diet/exercise program and had zero first week progress, until now. So let me break this down for you, so you see where I'm coming from and what, exactly, my plans are from here. Remember: This post is based on my experiences the first week on 21 Day Fix and may not apply to everyone.

Problem #1: The Rhetoric

This program's point seems to be that you need fixing and that it can be done in 21 days. This is the one thing that has always bothered me, even before I bought the program. After buying it, I'm even more bothered. BeachBody, the programs makers, are targeting their program to people who need to lose less than 15 lbs. and though they say it can work for everybody, heavy people are not who they have in mind. The only good thing here is that this points to the idea that you can make lasting changes in your life in 21 days, like learning portion control or good workout habits.

The trainer, Autumn Calabrese, who seems very optimistic, says things like "Give me 21 days and I'll give you the body you've always wanted!" This may be true for some people, but not for the majority of people looking to lose weight. She does stress the eating program, which again is meant to teach you how to eat better over the long haul.

My Solution: Ignore the parts of it that are hurtful! I don't need fixing. I'm a person, not a clock. I can't listen to her saying I'll be fixed in 21 days without wanting to cry or throw-up, or both, so I just take it with a grain of salt. I consider that she's not considering me when she says that. That she's not being intentionally insensitive. I consider that I'm not the ideal user of this program, but that I find value in it anyway. It's nothing personal even when it feels that way and, at times, she says things that're helpful, such as "If you're tired of starting over, stop quitting." That certainly does apply to me.

Problem #2: The Workouts

No matter what they say, this program's workout are not for people of every fitness level. If you've never worked out a day in your life and you've somehow managed to have only 10 lbs to lose, then on this program you're a beginner. If you happen to be quite heavy and in bad shape, even if you've done some workouts before, you are not a beginner on this program. The workouts are not low impact enough for people who need to lose a substantial amount of weight, even with the modifiers.

Working out 7 days a week is also not right for everyone. In fact, most fitness experts suggest you give your body a day or so between workouts to avoid injury. Trying to do the workouts every day got me just that, an injury. I managed a muscle strain in my left thigh and a groin pull on the right. I'm actually still sore from trying an exercise on the first day that was way, way outside my fitness level, even with modifiers.

My Solution: Don't do all of the 21 Day Fix workouts. This may not work for everyone, but it has to work for me because I can't, at my current fitness level, do many of the Fix workouts. Instead, I'll substitute some hearty, lower-impact workouts that are good without the debilitating-can't-walk-want-to-die-type-pain. Leslie Sansone, for example, does great walking workouts that're actually quite a good workout. That said, I still plan to do the Upper Fix workout every two days because it rocks and wasn't so difficult that I couldn't get through it (for the most part). I'll also be doing a lower-impact yoga once a week to improve my strength and balance as the Fix Yoga moves to fast for me to keep up, especially since I don't know the moves.

Problem #3: The Eating Plan

This comes down to one thing: If you don't do the workouts every single day then you're eating too much and won't lose weight. Because I'm quite heavy they have me eating the most calories allowed, approx. 2,100-2,300 per day. This is a LOT of calories when you're trying to lose weight. In fact, this is more maintenance than weight loss. Since I didn't do the exercises every day, and when I did often didn't make it through the whole workout, I haven't lost a single solitary pound or inch.

All in all, the food plan is okay, though it's restrictive. For example, you can only have one glass of milk three times a week. There's almost no dairy in this diet. You can have apples, but apple sauce isn't on the list. You also can't have any salt or condiments, except things like mustard and vinegar. No mayo of any type, not even olive oil mayo, and no ketchup. They have a few really tasty seasoning mixes, but they aren't appropriate for foods like eggs. So, you can eat sandwiches but they're dry, or eggs without seasoning.

The best thing about the eating program, though, is that you don't have to measure anything. You just eat off the list and use the containers. No tracking my food down to the calorie. Which is awesome, because that's what makes a lot of other diets so cumbersome. It's meant to help you learn portion sizes and, in that regard, is really helpful.

My Solution: Keep using the containers, but change the eating category. The program includes 4 categories, each with a calorie range. Since I won't be doing all of the fix workouts, I'll be modifying down so that rather than eating 2,100-2,300 calories per day, I'm eating 1,500-1,800 calories per day. And I'll be making some small modifications to including at least one 8 oz. glass of skim milk per day. Finally, I'm going to allow myself some condiments, in small amounts, such as reduced-fat olive oil mayo and a tiny bit of sea salt. Bland food isn't worth eating.

The Small Things & Progress:

Doing this for a week, I've seen a lot of small things that I need to change. My sleeping habits are erratic and problematic. I don't drink nearly enough water. In order for me to go forward, I'm going to need to work on changing these small things that're having a big influence on my progress.

And I won't lie, because I have nothing to lose (or gain, since I'm not selling you anything here), I don't know if this is sustainable. I love food too much. I crave rich, sweet, and often salty foods. All I can do at this point is try. I will say, though, that I think the Shakeology is helping me beat the cravings. I hadn't really struggled at all this week until yesterday (Friday night) when I really, really wanted to eat everything I'm not allowed to eat. I wanted mac & cheese and cookies, and I wanted a milkshake. I actually went to bed early to escape the cravings because they were so strong.

Today, I feel terrible, but maybe tomorrow could be better. Right now I feel like giving up but I won't, especially since I've not laid out a plan to make the sort of changes that will make me better. I'll write again next week and let you know how it went. Until then, wish me luck. I really need to make change in my life.
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