The Lightbulb Challenge…Revisited

I originally wrote about my grand plans for my year to age 30. For some reason, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt like you’re a “real” adult when you turn 30. I don’t really know why or where that came from, but I’ve always thought that life just makes sense at 30 – like a ‘lightbulb’ comes on and you have your “aha!” moment.

Not sure what will happen, but I do know that in one year and three days, I’ll be 30.

I love so many things about my life, but the one thing that has always disappointed me is my weight. I’ve had weight problems since I was a little girl. I still remember being called Miss Piggy in kindergarten. I remember when my mom married my stepdad when I was 10, going to try on my junior bridesmaids dress when it came arrived and having to have extra material added to my dress so it would fit. I remember someone who would hang out with me in secret in college, and when I asked why not go on a real date, he asked if I would actually date myself and he said that I should consider going to the gym. I remember picking up my wedding dress a few days before our vow renewal ceremony and the tailor shouting at me, “Too short! Too tight!”

You know what I don’t remember? I don’t remember a time where I’ve ever truly felt comfortable with my body. Yes, there was a brief time where I was at a good, healthy weight but that time was very short. I was happy, but something was still missing. It was almost like somehow I knew that they weight loss wouldn’t last and that I was living in a borrowed body.

Unfortunately, I’ve always been the type of person that looks for a “Monday” as a new start. Monday/a new week/a new month/a new year/insert-new whatever-here/etc. never comes (pretty sure I’ve written about that before, too.) I refuse to enter my 30s harboring these feelings of self-loathing and shame. Over the summer while we were watching Extreme Weight Loss with Chris Powell, I told Peter I wanted a “big reveal” to showcase my weight loss. He was completely on board. I asked him if I met my weight loss goal, would he throw me a big reveal/30th birthday party and he said absolutely. Y’all hold him to that, ok? 🙂 And hold me to carrying out my end of the deal.

I have made one of my goals for my plan (which I’ll detail next week) to blog daily beginning Tuesday. Often, when I have successfully lost weight, I have blogged. I’ve found that when I start to falter, I stop blogging until I’m so far down a spiral that it can be weeks or months before I even try to get back on track. I figure if nothing else, blogging daily will serve as a reminder that every day is a new chance to get it right.

So this weekend, I enjoy myself. I get my special birthday dinner. I get to make a lovely Sunday dinner, I get to let my neck incision continue to heal before I start exercising.

And then? I get up Wednesday morning, the day after my 29th birthday and I get to step on the scale. I get to own the number that the scale says and I get to embrace where I’ve been, where I am and where I want to go.

And then I get to embark on a health journey for those next 365 days.

The Light Bulb Challenge

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I have said since my very early 20s that I thought my light bulb on life – i.e. everything would make since, be clear, have meaning – would happen when I turned 30. I don’t know why, and truly, I’m not quite sure what that even means, but I do know that I have exactly 64 weeks (448 days) to figure it out. And figure it out I will!

I was going to start on Saturday or Monday, because that’s how I normally do things. I have to “get it all out of my system” before starting fresh only to repeat this same vicious cycle. I was talking with Peter last night and asked him when I should start and he said tomorrow. I kid you not, this is our exact conversation:

Me: I don’t want to start tomorrow. I want to gorge myself with a last meal. [Yup, isn’t that the classic food addict mentality?]

Peter: It’s always your last meal but it never is. Don’t you deserve better?

He is absolutely right. I do deserve better – so does he. He deserves a wife who has the energy to go out and do things with him, who he doesn’t have to worry about her healthy, who feels like she belongs on the arm of her healthy-weight husband, who can possibly have a healthy pregnancy when it comes to have children. I want a long life with my amazing husband. I know that you have to lose weight for yourself, but Peter is a large piece of my motivation.

With that conversation in mind, I’m starting today. I may not be perfect and my fridge isn’t completely stocked but losing weight and being healthy is all about figuring out what works for you. I don’t want to diet; I want to have a healthy diet but I don’t want to be on a diet. I don’t want to always be waiting to eat normal again. I want this lifestyle to be my new normal. So last night, I canceled my Weight Watchers subscription. I truly believe that WW is an awesome program, but it just isn’t working for me. It’s the classic case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” I can’t be trusted with that much flexibility and will be looking at  meal plans that offer variety but are tailored towards a daily calorie intake. I am going to be using my old faithful, Sparkpeople.com*. The last time I was successful at losing weight, I counted calories using the food tracker on Sparkpeople. I figured if WW wasn’t really working for me at this time, then why not try something else?

These are the major things I want to accomplish on the way to turning 30:

Get to a healthy weight. Using online BMI calculators, online ideal weight charts and talking with my doctor, I know I have quite a ways to go. I’m 5’9″ so I’m not a short girl. The healthy range most places online list for my height is 125-170. I’ve been 175 before, believe it or not. My current weight as of this morning is 271.0. Ideally, I’d love to be 150 pounds; however, if I couldn’t maintain 175, can I maintain 150? With that in mind, and knowing that at 175 I actually looked pretty darn good, my target weight by 30 is: 165 pounds. Peter agreed to throw me a 30th birthday/”reveal” party! How awesome would that be to celebrate my 30th birthday with friends and family and to “reveal” my new healthy body? To help get to a healthy weight, I will make a weekly meal plan and I will post my weekly meal plan. All feedback welcomed! I tend to go grocery shopping on Saturdays just because that’s the easiest time to go – and there’s a lovely farmer’s market in town that is open every Saturday!

Write my book. Really. Which will be difficult considering I’m a doctoral student and I work a very demanding (but amazing!) full-time job. If I can write approximately 14,000 words per month beginning with September, by October 2014, I should have nearly 200,000 words. I say by October because my birthday is early in November (the 5th) and I’d like to be finished with writing before my birthday.

Run a 5k. To accomplish this, I’m going to take my July 5k that I mostly walked as a starting point. When I feel the time is right after a few weeks of walking, I will start a jogging plan. After I feel comfortable jogging a few minutes, I will work towards running for a mile, then two, then finally arriving at the magical 3.1 mile mark. As finances permit, I will sign up for 5ks throughout the year.

Fully fund our emergency fund with the additional $1,000 baby step that Dave Ramsey recommends. While Dave Ramsey, also known to me as BFF Dave, says to save the $1,000 then throw all of your money at paying down your debt, I would feel so much more secure knowing that we had a bit of padding in our savings account.

While I’m still hoping to lose some weight before our belated honeymoon, I can’t expect to lose enough weight to be comfortable with my body in the next 58 days but I can start the path to a healthy lifestyle today. Of course I’m disappointed that I didn’t lose weight and I won’t be able to wear super cute swimsuits, I am still thrilled that I’m going on a honeymoon with my husband and we get to celebrate four years of marriage.

*If you click on the link to Sparkpeople, that is my personalized link. I will not receive any monetary credit, but I will receive 25 Spark points that you can accumulate – kind of like “good job” gold stars.

Happy New Year…?

Ok, so, I’m going to be 110% honest. My goals and plans are all in crazy “wish” land right now as I have not done a very good job of sticking to my plan. I haven’t tracked (or cared…) about what I’ve been eating and I surely haven’t exercised. We went to visit P’s family in Michigan which was AWESOME, as usual. Of course traveling means a free pass to eat everything in sight right? Oh, no? Just me. Ok then…moving on.

The last time we were in Michigan, we were there over New Year’s Eve. My amazing sister-in-law had us write out our New Year’s Resolutions. I looked at mine today and realized I’m so far from completing my list. Nearly eight months ago, 2013 seemed like my new blank slate, the start of the year of “me.” Instead, this year has turned into more of the same – writing down what I want to accomplish, being super excited about my plan and then not sticking to it.

What happens along the way? If I’m being honest, the plan gets hard. I get lazy. I fall into old habits. And you know what? This sounds like a total “fatty” confession, but I really just love food.

Maybe trying to set a “honeymoon” countdown hasn’t actually helped me? I’ve learned I don’t think I’m a “work towards a weight loss deadline” kind of girl. Good to know that know I reckon. I need to get to a point where losing weight isn’t for a particular event, then keep it off, rather it’s for the long-term health benefits.

You know what? I do not like exercise. There, I said it. I’d rather do just about anything than exercise. I look at exercise as a way to lose weight, nothing more nothing less. I need to figure out a way to remember and learn to accept the reasons to exercise: helps my body use insulin better, makes me happier (endorphins and happy people don’t kill their husbands.)

(If you don’t get that reference you might be reading the wrong blog.)

(JK! Please keep reading.)

So either a. I need to stop coming up with plans, or b. I need to figure out how to make a plan that will work. I’m going to doing some thinking and come up with yet another plan. At least I know what doesn’t work…that’s good, right?

In case you were wondering, here were my 2013 New Year’s Resolutions:

1. To not get kidnapped, killed – or worse – in Rwanda. (DONE!)

2. Fit into my “skinny”jeans which means lose about 80-90 pounds.

3. Run – fully – a 5k.

4. Fully fund the emergency fund and the 10% fund. (The emergency fund would be $1,000 Baby Step 1 of Dave Ramsey’s plan with a one-month expenses saved reserve. The 10% fund would be to save 10% of my salary.)

5. Write a book. Seriously.

So…those were my New Year’s Resolutions. And, other than Rwanda as that was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I pretty much have the SAME resolutions year after year. After year. After year. It’s the craziest cycle.

Clearly these things are important to me. For me, being happy means being healthy. Being healthy means being happy. In my world – at least according to almost every life plan I’ve never made – happy and healthy tangibly translate into: losing (and maintaining) weight, being active, saving money and paying down debt and pursuing my ultimate career dream of being a writer.

How do I do that? Good freakin’ question but I’m determined to figure it all out.

1. Figure out a meaningful, realistic timeline.

2. Make a plan. Actual follow through with it. Perhaps add in rewards along the way.

3. Stick. To. The. Plan. Follow. The. Plan. (This is clearly going to be the hardest for me.)

With regards to a timeline, I’ve decided to make my 30th birthday next year my “timeline” to complete my list. That gives me almost 15 months. I’ve always said that my “lightbulb on life” will go off at 30. People then look at me like I’m crazy and ask what that means. I say that I don’t know but 30 will just be when things make sense. I could be wrong, but at least I want as much of my life as possible to be on the path (hopefully completed) at completing my goals.

Happy New Year indeed.

Tardy Thankful Thursday

So I started to title this blog, “Fail Friday,” but then I realized that’s totally counter-productive to the “self love” aspect of this blog project.

Have you ever had one of those weeks that starts out with amazing momentum that fizzles by the middle to the end of the week? Yup, totally happened. To me. In week ONE.

I should mention that I work in higher education, so end of July/August are just one crazy mess of awesome, and super busy all wrapped into one. Plus I’m finishing up a second summer class. And Peter’s birthday is Monday. And I have a training over the weekend. Oh, and we’re leaving for Michigan on Wednesday. Whew.

That all sounds like a lot of excuses. I’m super good at making excuses. I’m also really good at making a plan…but follow through isn’t necessarily my strongest point. Perhaps I should have used the week as more of a reflection/figuring out my current habits, time commitments, etc. The week is ending and we’ll see what the scale says on Monday. Food wise, this has been one of my better weeks. I can honestly say that – so far – I didn’t do any binge eating! I didn’t count my points this week since Saturday/Sunday were so far off the scale, but I’ve kept points values in the back of my mind.

This week/month has given me lots to be thankful for. I’m thankful…

…for our new house! What an exciting time it has been with finding our home and closing on our home! We feel so blessed to finally have a place that is ours.

…for now, for the unfinished basement in said new house! Right now, our basement is unfinished which makes it an excellent, open space to work out! Win!

…for an awesome friend who needed to get an elliptical machine out of her apartment that is now living in my unfinished basement for me to use any time of the day! BIG WIN!

….for a supportive husband who continues to support my weight loss journey all the while telling me I’m beautiful. Lucky, grateful, blessed, amazed to have him in my life.

…for continuing to want a healthy life and never giving up on my dream of being happy, healthy me.

There’s so much to be thankful for and sometimes it’s nice to pause and take a minute to take it all in.

…and honeymoon countdown: 69 days!

A goal is a dream with a plan!

Alright, so yesterday I said step one was to step on the scale and assess where I am, so I did.

Step One: Face the scale. Scale said 273.4. Own it, and be positive that I’m making changes and don’t be negative about the number on the scale.

Step 1.5: Obligatory “beginning/day 1” bathroom selfie picture.

ashley w july 29 2013 beginning picture

Step Two: Make a plan.

I’d love to say that in the 73 days leading up to our trip, I’d lose 73 pounds but that’s not exactly realistic. To be successful, my goal has to be reachable and my plan has to be doable. So, here’s my plan:

-Lose an average of 3 pounds per week, for a total of 33 pounds lost (goal weight by October 10: 240.4). I understand that the average weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week, but with nearly 100 pounds to lose, I’m confident I’ll have some high-number loss weeks.

-Set daily and weekly goals.

Daily goal:  could be work out 1 minute longer each day, or make a plan for my meals.

Weekly Goals:

  • Week 1 goal: 10 minutes of exercise 5x a week.
  • Week 2 goal: 15 minutes of exercise 5x a week.
  • Week 3 goal: 20  minutes of exercise 5x a week.
  • Week 4 goal: 25 minutes of exercise 5x a week.
  • Week 5 goal: 30 minutes of exercise 5x a week.
  • Week 6 goal: 35 minutes of exercise 5x a week.
  • Week 7 goal: 40 minutes of exercise 5x a week.
  • Week 8 goal: 45 minutes of exercise 5x a week.
  • Week 9 goal: 50 minutes of exercise 5x a week.
  • Week 10 goal: 55 minutes of exercise 5x a week.
  • Week 11 goal: 60 minutes of exercise 5x a week.

Blogging goals:

  1. Weigh-in and blog every Monday as a weekly recap/plan for the week.
  2. Thankful Thursday: A positive, self-love blog every Thursday.
  3. A third blog any other day of the week for a total of at least three weekly blog posts.

-Follow a diabetic-friendly meal plan and track food using the Weight Watchers point system and tracker on my phone.

  • Refer to meal plan designed by the diabetes management group.
  • Go to my weekly Saturday Weight Watchers meeting.
  • Plan my meals.
  • Make determined, mindful, meaningful decisions regarding my food.
  • Plan any treats instead of just grabbing anything and everything.

Week 1 Plan:

  • Work out for at least 10 minutes 5x this week (one day down, four to go!)
  • Just say “no” to the cookies and lemonade at a work presentation on Tuesday.
  • Plan for a ‘treat’ meal (within reason) Saturday evening for an early birthday meal for Peter.
  • Make a meal plan and shopping list. Go shopping for healthy, fresh foods after I get paid this week – woo hoo, c’mon pay day!

Countdown to Honeymoon: 73 days! Ready, set, go!

Where Am I?

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking – hoping, wishing, wanting – of where I want to be. I want to be healthy, I want to be at a manageable, healthy weight and I want my choices to be long-term, lifestyle changes.

But where am I right now?

Right now, I’m miserable yet not unhappy enough to stop myself from eating everything in sight. In a joking way, I brush off my poor food choices and pretend like those days (weeks, months…) don’t actually happen and I pretend like I am in control. I tell myself, “Oh, I’ll stop on Monday,” or “The reason I’m not serious about my weight loss is because I know when I start, I’ll lose weight and it won’t be that hard.”

The reason that usually wins out? “I just need to eat XYZ one last time because once I’m healthy, I won’t ever be able to eat it again.”

I have a serious problem. That’s step one, right? Admitting you have a problem. Although, I live in a constant state of denial.

Physically, I’ve gained back most of the weight that I had lost. My clothes don’t fit. I have so much extra weight that walking – simple walking! – has become a chore. I’m always tired. I’m in a constant state of lazy.

Emotionally, I’m living between guilt and denial. Sometimes I think, “I’m not THAT fat” or “I’m not THAT unhealthy,” knowing that I’m just lying to myself. I know I make Peter feel awkward because I’m constantly asking him, “How can you love someone who looks like me?”

I’ve skipped my last two Weight Watchers meetings because I don’t want to know how much weight I’ve gained. That’s totally contrary to the whole point of weight watchers, but I feel ashamed. Also, but not facing the scale, that gives me license to continue on my destructive path (makes total sense, right? Sigh…).

Tomorrow, Monday July 29th marks 73 days until Peter and I leave on our belated honeymoon. We’ve waited four years to take this trip and I refuse to let my weight keep me from enjoying our time together. I know I won’t make my goal weight in those 73 days, but I hope I can get myself on track and at least be at a point where I can feel somewhat better about myself.

How am I going to do that? Well, stepping on the scale and facing the number is step one. Step two will be to set a weight loss goal. Step three will be to make a plan. Step four is to stick to the plan. Somewhere along those steps I need to constantly – and consistently – measure my progress along the way and figure out how to have a “normal” and healthy relationship with food. I need to learn to fuel my body, not treat it like a trash can.

Tonight I hope to toast my old ‘fat’ ways and learn to not only live a healthy lifestyle, but to also learn to love myself in the process.

(Yup, again, broken record-ville, population: me.) (Side note: perhaps comments like the previous sentence aren’t very helpful to that ‘love myself’ part of the process…)

Friday ‘Fessions: Moderation

So, this Friday, my whole “Friday ‘Fession” is one topic: Moderation

Lots of people say that you should enjoy everything in moderation. And that’s true – if you can handle moderation.

I’ve learned and am finally able to admit that moderation doesn’t work for me, at least not right now. If I have a ‘treat’ type of meal or food, it seems like my next meal – and possibly whole next week or more – is just one bad decision after another.

This is absolutely not going to be a cake walk (pun totally intended) but if I hope to get major results, it’s time to make some major changes.

I’m also doing a “summer slim down” challenge with one of my friends. Tomorrow we both weigh-in and we’re going to set goals each week of the summer. My goal for the coming week is to stay within my weight watchers daily and weekly points. Once I weigh-in, I’ll set my weight loss/percentage goal.

Friday ‘Fessions

Happy Friday (oops, being posted on Saturday…) Friends!

I tend to confide so much in my darling friend Michelle. Often I’ll start to say something food related and she’ll say something like, “Oh is it confession time?”

Last night Thursday night I confided to my husband Peter everything I had to eat yesterday Thursday (‘fession coming below), and it was nice to finally share one of those food ‘fessions with Peter. Now, before everything

My hope is that every Friday to do a special confessions – Friday ‘Fessions – blog.

Friday ‘Fessions – June 21, 2013

1. I stepped on the scale this morning and it said 270.0 pounds. In March, I tipped the scales at 282.4, so I’ve managed to lose and keep off 12 pounds. That’s a start, right?

2. I’m a binge eater. It’s terrible. I’m currently pulling myself out of a two week binge. I confided in Peter with a food ‘fession and that was a huge help. Usually I hide my binges from him and I don’t tell him, so this was a huge step in trying to get out of the darkness of a binge.

3. I don’t say that I’m a binge eater lightly. It was one of the things I talked to a therapist about back in 2008.

…Also, this is totally being posted on a Saturday. Friday ‘fessions…on Saturday.

p.s. If you are wondering what Thursday’s binge consisted of, it wasn’t pretty. There was regular soda, sweet tea, chicken taquitos from 7-11, a snack wrap from McDonalds, lunch part 1, lunch part 2, popcorn…and other crap.And yes, if you are wondering, my blood sugar was really high Thursday evening and I felt terrible. I’m not proud of what happened, but it happened and I’m being honest. This blog is intended to be like my diary, that just happens to be open and public.

p.s.s. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong will seeing a therapist. I highly recommend it. It was nice to have a neutral, knowledgeable person help me make the best choices possible to lead a happy, full-filled life.

Happy? Healthy? Ashley?

I’m feeling…lost.

I thought I had hit rock bottom about six months ago. I was wrong. Apparently you can go even lower than your previously-held rock bottom threshold.

I’m conflicted. There are parts of my life that are exceptional, others that are confusing and ones that are just down right pathetic.

I hope you’ll stick with me and my new blog adventure to hear about the ups and downs that come along with being happy, getting healthy and being me.