Friday, April 15, 2011

Living a Life with Purpose

One of the unforeseen benefits of losing weight that I never saw coming was the absolute scrutiny it places on your life, emotions, and day-to-day routine. For a long, LONG time, I thought I was living with purpose. I had a plan, Abbie's Master Life Plan as the people I am closest to fondly refer to it, and there was no wavering. However, looking back, I have no idea how the plan was even created. Where did I get this need to be perfect at everything? Why does it always seem like there was an outside force pushing my future, yet I failed to recognize it at the time of the pushing?

I realize now that I rebelled at this forced niche through eating. Eating past the point of fullness, just stuffing down the thoughts of an unfulfilled life, the struggle with finding a person inside of me worth fighting for. I ate sometimes just to go to sleep. Not in a suicidal way, just in a let's-eat-way-more-than-necessary-to-be-stuffed...therefore causing the carb-coma and sleepiness. I just wanted to avoid. I still sometimes unconsciously use food as avoidance, and it's still a struggle for me to avoid that habit. However, I consider it a great success that I've even gotten this far. To the point where I recognize when my emotions are driving me to eat in that mindless way. In the long war of Abbie & Emotional Eating, I would say I at least am winning a few battes :). And, the fact that I do recognize the emotions simmering under the surface helps me map out a plan of attack to conquer those feelings in a healthy way. Aka call a friend, take a walk, read a trashy magazine. Cry. Whatever. I've found that food just doesn't get rid of that emotion, no matter how much you eat. It's still there, only now you're full, sick to your stomach and fat.

Relating this back to exercise...when I exercise, I feel powerful. I feel purposeful. So THIS is the way to healthily deal with unpleasant emotions, bad days and things that don't necessarily go your way. Why didn't anyone share this with me? Lol.

I feel like weight has always been my biggest obstacle, a failure that is easily seen to the outside world. And, as I'm (still) trying to conquer it, this means I can do anything. My mom referred to me as her "little athlete" the other day. Me? The girl who used to huff and puff around the track at the gym while the thinner girls with their lanky tanned legs lapped me? I'm an athlete? That completely redefined my world. I was recently thinking of an old friend who I hadn't seen in a couple of years (we had a pretty bad falling out). I was thinking of that person I had been 2 years ago. Although I will (try to) never look back on that person with shame, it's still hard. How did I live my life that way? Sometimes, I have these crazy self-abusing thoughts, like, how could you have eaten what you did? You always felt terrible, but never related it back to the daily fast food meals and complete lack of exercise. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

However, I have to (continually) remind myself that this is a lifestyle. And I wouldn't be at the (much healthier, much more forgiving) place I'm at now without the drive of my past self.

This led to something new I've been thinking about: purpose and balance. Can those ideals coexist? But for now, I must go do my actual job. That will have to be saved for a later post.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'm still here...

Haven't had time to write, or really felt compelled to write, in a very long time. However, something has been on my mind lately that I felt I needed to get down. That is, how much weight loss has taught me about patience.

In my life, everything is structured. I realized that I basically have my life down in 30 min - 1 hour increments. It's sad, and I haven't been able to shake the panicked, rushed feeling since school started back up after Christmas. We, as consumers, people of my generation, people of the US, etc., have become accustomed to getting things fast. Fast food, Netflix instant downloading, Google searches downloaded in seconds. However, when fast leaves you with the unsettling feeling that you're missing something, is it really all that worth it? When I ate fast food, all I got was an upset tummy and extra baggage on my body. When I'm glancing at my watch at family dinners, worrying if there's somewhere else to be, I'm missing out on the joy of the experience of being with my family. When I am so focused on the future, I am completely missing out on the preciousness of the present.

Tuesday, I ran for 30 minutes. That was the first time I have ever ran that long, or far, in my entire life. And I remember feeling, almost to the point of tears, so very grateful that my legs can carry me through these runs. Grateful for a healthy diet that allows my body to be strong. So, so very grateful for a decision to be healthier made almost one year ago today that changed my life.

So I've only lost 40 pounds and the scale hasn't moved since September. So what? Yes, 3/4 months. I realize how long ago that was. However, there IS growth. My body is losing inches, I know I'm in the best shape of my life, and I am fitting into the smallest clothes I can remember. Although I've never pushed my healthier lifestyle on them, my excitement for this new way of living has convinced some of my family and friends to be inspired to put their health back on their priority list, which is a wonderful accomplishment in itself. The drive is still there, and if it takes another year to lose the remaining 40 pounds, that's ok. Because, if I hadn't started this journey a year ago, where would I be? Still unhappy with my body and 40 pounds (or more) heavier. Just for kicks, I would like to publish a couple photos...

Taken November 2009.

Taken this past NYE.

Definitely growth.

So I will be still (mentally, of course) and recognize the preciousness of the present. While looking towards the end result of an even happier, healthier me that I know is in my future. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Priorities and saying the scary words...

Can't believe it's been a month and a half since my last post. Life has been, to put it in a cliched way, crazy. Not normal, check-things-off-the-list crazy. No, crazy to the point that I'm in the shower reciting different rules related to negligence, opening the refrigerator to find my car keys sitting on the top shelf, and wondering if I can drink milk that expired three days ago. (In case you were wondering, my roommate said as long as it still smells good, we're all good. But I'm wary of expired food in general. Gross.)

Law school has definitely taken its toll on every facet of my life. Case-in-point. I used to get a good, solid 7 hours of sleep every night. Now, I'm averaging about 5 hours. Those extra two hours apparently are responsible for a lot of things. They put you over the edge from "exhaustion" to "rested," they allow your brain to function normally, keep your skin from looking tired/breaking out, allow you to lose weight easier, etc. However, there's no way to carve more sleep time in. Believe me. I've tried.

Working out has been my number one stress reliever. Last week, I did yoga twice instead of normal cardio workouts because I genuinely felt like I needed that 30 minutes of stretching, gratefulness and quiet.

Law school has decreased my workout schedule, and I have definitely noticed it in my weight. Which has not budged. In one month. On the plus side, great, I now know this is great for maintenance. However, I'm not in maintenance mode just yet. I'm still in weight loss mode and have another 30 pounds to go. I know the tools that I use to lose weight. However, there's no way I can work out 6 days a week like I was doing pre-law school. Now, I'm averaging about 4 days a week, with only 1-2 strength training days. I know strength training is key to weight loss.

Finally, law school, in general, has sucked out my motivation for other things. Working full time, going to school part time, and trying to keep face time with the boyfriend while keeping up your workout schedule is a daunting task. I still love exercise, but that extra little push of motivation that gets me out of bed at 5:00 in the morning is gone. I really, really, REALLY want it back. Really.

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I had been doing great, stellar, amazing on my eating. One or two planned off-meals a week, with the rest of the time leaving me full, happy and satisfied. Fast-forward to now. Still eating great, but have emotionally ate twice as of last week. In my POV, there are two ways to be off-plan: (1) seeing a great meal opportunity in the next weekend or couple days, thinking about how nice it will be to eat that meal, relishing it when it comes, and truly enjoying eating just enough to keep you full and (2) mindlessly eating, not sure how you got the food, unsure how much you've already consumed, weren't very hungry to begin with, eat to the point of feeling stuffed.

I know these patterns. I know the ways they get started, how to change them, etc. The question is, why did I end up on the couch late one night after class, stuffing my face with tortillas and queso? I know it'll make me feel overly full and gross afterwards (it did). I know that I will regret eating that food, as much as I know that I never regret an exercise. However, why can't I allow knowing all that to change my actions? No answers. This is a question I've been asking myself for the last 2 weeks. Hopefully soon I'll figure it out.

However, I have made a firm decision to be kind to myself and to quit beating myself up if I don't have time for everything. Law school is tough and I'm still getting my bearings. I love exercise, and I know I can't go for too long without it. I will hopefully try to rely on my healthy habits that have already been established, and stop worrying about trying to squeeze everything in.

Sorry this post was so all over the place. Hence what happens when I don't blog in almost two months.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Falling off the wagon...ok, not really...

I have literally sat in my chair a good dozen times, watching this blinking text line and waiting for the words to pour out of my mouth. My head is full of cool, exciting, wonderful, mindful things that have been happening to me lately...I just haven't been able to spit it out.

I just started law school. And, while the material is hard and it's a very different way of thinking/learning, the most challenging aspect of it is the time management. I'm working full time and going to law school part time. I realized long ago that I would have no life. It plagued me for months, this worrying over balancing the priorities while still trying to maintain my sanity and keep chugging along on this health journey. However, I've stopped worrying (mostly) about it. I have four priorities. From most important to least, they are: school, friends/family/boyfriend, working out, and work. That's it. Nowhere in my priority list does it say I have a priority to watch a gazillion terrible reality TV shows or spend hours on Facebook or organize my shoes or shop. As much as I would like those to be thrown randomly onto the list, there (literally) is just not enough time in the day. And I'm ok with that. It's consistent, I know what to prepare for, I know who/what to make time for, etc.

It finally hit me (almost literally, it was while I was running on the be-u-ti-ful golf course by my apartment which is lined with trees) that I have my WHOLE life to get healthy. I am not in a competition with anyone other than myself. I tend to get caught up in the whole competitive aspect of law school that I have to remember this is NOT a race. This is me, life-styling it up, knowing that I'm in it for the long haul. Therefore, the world is not going to end if I don't lose x amount of pounds in y amount of days. I don't need to be 30 pounds lighter by Christmas. All I can do is continue making great, healthy eating choices which rewards my body for all the hard work it does. I can continue to push my body further physically and allow it to push those boundaries. I can continue to be thankful--no, even more than thankful--forever grateful that my body allows me to do all these cool activities even after all the stress and harm I've done to it these past 23 years. I WILL remember that no one is perfect, life goes on even if you have an off-day of eating or exercise. The mindfulness THAT it's an off day is all that's necessary. I cannot express the switch that clicked in my mind when I made the change of goals from "weight loss" to "fitness." Suddenly, it became way less about "What am I craving right here, right now?" and way more about "How does my body react to this food when I eat it?" Less "Man, I am not feeling the gym today," and more "I always feel so great after a run."

Now, I'm not gonna lie. If you asked me what I ate last weekend, I automatically remember the gelato and amazing margarita pizza I consumed at our local Italian deli. But that was one meal. And, if I'm going to have ice cream and pizza, I want the best. No more of this Domino's crap. I want a handmade, fluffy Italian crust with an explosion of spices and the best pepperoni available. Same with the cup of caramel gelato I shared with boyfriend. Creamy, rich...everything you could ever hope to taste in an ice cream. When you decide that you're only going to eat the best that food has to offer, you stop thinking about those stale birthday cakes or donuts in the break room. And realize that it's ok to really, mindfully enjoy food. Here and now. In the present. And move on. Food will always be there. It's up to you each day to decide what type of food you want to use to nourish your body.

I choose my food as I choose my life. Only the best.

How's your mindfulness going?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Things I Learned While On Vacation...

1. It is very important that I continue to stock my kitchen with healthy foods, fresh veggies, and things that make my body feel good. When I'm faced with loads upon loads of crappy, carb and sugar-heavy foods (can I just note that someone in my family must hate me because they ordered pizza around 12 a.m. two nights on this vacation? I LOVE pizza!), I will inevitably eat some. Not gorge. But eat some.

2. To build on #1, if I do eat those types of things, it affects how my body performs. I was on W5D3 of my Couch to 5k interval training (which is a 5 min warm up, 20 minute run, and 7 min cool down) and I pooped out at 11 minutes. 11 minutes?! Really?! I KNOW I can do better than that. I was so disappointed in myself. Then I remembered the pizza from the night before and the Krispy Kreme donut I had with my bowl of oatmeal the day before. If anything positive came out of that sad, sad run, it was a reinforcement to remind myself how much my eating DOES affect my exercise. And as the focus becomes less about weight loss and more about what my body can do, the desire to eat good-for-me things is more and more tangible.

3. On a positive note, and building on the above two, I realize I have changed from last year. Last year Abbie's diet on vacation looked like a free-for-all. And, although the vacation diet was not as strict as my normal diet, it did include things that I normally eat (i.e., cottage cheese for my snacks, oatmeal as my staple morning breakfast, tuna for lunch, etc.).

So, to sum up, my ego was very much hit this past week, but maybe it needed to be. Here I was, all smug about my consistent weight loss, hitting my first mini weight loss goal. Look at all those losers, struggling with food issues! Not me, I got this! Well, no. I don't "got" this. Not yet. Complacency is how I let myself get this way in the first place. Although my life is about to get dramatically more busy as I start night law school in 3 weeks, I still need to keep exercise and healthy eating in the forefront on my mind. Yes, law school is my first priority, but exercise and healthy eating enable me to be the best law school student I can be.

First 5k is in September, and I'm scared. That's a big step in the exercise things-I-want-to-do checklist. But, I cannot begin to describe how great it felt to run this morning. 2-5 minute runs and 1-8 minute run. Those 5 minute runs are so much easier. The 8 minutes are a lot easier too, although by the 7th minute or so, I'm praying the podcast announcer will announce my time is up. This is such a huge NSV (for those who don't understand the lingo-I didn't either for awhile- NSV = Non-scale victory) for me. To be able to run. Like the dainty, flouncy, runners who make running look so effortless. Can I be one of those runner girls? I know the standard uniform is cute shorts and a sports bra/tank top combo, but can I be a runner too with my too-big t-shirt and sweaty face? Pretty please?

How is everyone's healthy eating/exercise habits coming along? And, by the way, if you ever have ANY doubt, you do most certainly "got" this.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vacations, boot camps and the like...

So I've been doing boot camp once a week at the gym.

And it's hard.

Like bust-your-butt-super-sweaty-not-sure-I-can-actually-complete-all-the-drills-hard.

But, oddly enough, I finished. I was on the verge of collapse at the end, but, I finished. Which I've always said is the most important part. And, as I was cursing the stupid class and the stupid weights and the stupid lunges that I was currently doing, I caught my reflection in the mirror...and just stared. Who the hell is that girl in the mirror?! The one with determination on her face and clean lines on her body? The one who, although sweating like a pig, was still on the heels of her classmates during the laps around the classroom? Boot camp is a dual-edged sword. On one hand, I look around and am so proud that I can be in the same class and (kind of) keep up with these beautiful, strong, fit people. On the other hand, it's a continuous reminder of how far I still have to go.

I think life is like that though. It's a continuous cycle of doing small (emphasis on small) steps, plugging at it and re-evaluating to see if it's working, how far you have left to go, and if the goals need to be modified. If someone had actually told me how much work this whole losing weight took, I might have quit even before I started. How much gym time, the overhaul of your refrigerator, the mindful eating. It's hard work! I'm not whining, but we're human, and we tend to get overwhelmed easily. However, I know I can have one day of good eating. A week of hardcore working out. A refrigerator filled with clean food that I know will fuel my body so that I can enjoy all the active things I like to do. And, and I completely believe this is the most important thing: I have knowledge. Knowledge of myself, and the way I react to stressful situations (cue eating your emotions). Knowledge of what greasy, fatty food does to my body (cue tummy ache and general feeling of greasy pores/grossness). And, finally, knowledge that one cheat meal is not going to "throw me off the wagon." There's got to be a balance somewhere, and I think I have my whole life to perfect it.

On a side note, I'm starting week 4 of my Couch to 5k interval training tomorrow. I truly believe I can run these stupid intervals, if I could just get over my brain telling me I can't. Someone once wrote on another blog that messages sent from your brain and your body (and vice versa) aren't like im's. They're like USPS. Right before Christmas. It always takes awhile for your body or brain to catch up when the opposite is giving out commands. So, although I wish wish WISH I could just get to the part where I'm a runner, life is good, and I happily zone out on my daily 5 mile runs, I'm just not there yet. It will just take patience (which I hate, but must learn to live with) and a whole lot of practice.

On another side, can I express how stupid-excited I am to be going on vacation this Friday? One week of sand, surf, and family time. And I get to do my week 5 of interval running on the beach! Can't get any better than that. ;o) I've been so excited to run on the beach, and it's just another reminder of how far I've come. Last summer, I don't even think I brought my workout shoes. Even though this is vacation, this is not a free-for-all. Yes, I will enjoy responsibly my intake of good-tasting food and live up every moment of the art of doing nothing, but I'm also looking forward to running with the seagulls flying, playing sand volleyball, maybe taking a surf lesson. Just being active. Being active, for me, is the greatest reminder that I'm alive. My body is not just a decoration. It's a machine. Built to work, and sweat, and move energy, and accomplish.

Hope everyone has fabulous vacations planned as well. I'll be thinking of all of my fellow bloggers as I sit on the beach with a chilled alcoholic beverage and chick flick novel in hand ;o)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Looking up?

There are some days when the world feels like your friend, you've had an awesome day, and nothing can go wrong.

Unfortunately, this is not one of those days.

Today, all I want to do is go curl up in a dark, cool room and sleep. For a very long time. The eating is fine, I've done my normal amount of workouts lately, I'm just feeling very overwhelmed. Too little money, too little time, too many stressors. Normal things that I usually stress about and can handle. Not sure what is changed. Something I can pinpoint is this family mess that I'm currently caught up in. All my life, I've moved around. Had to acclimate myself to new people, locations, make new friends, etc. However, when my mom finally remarried to my stepdad (who I consider my father), the roots were finally put down. I'm extremely loyal to my family and I would seriously do anything for that bunch. Drama is drama. It's always drove me nuts whenever someone says they hate drama. Who likes drama? No one. However, once the fight/drama has occurred, the most important part is how you deal with the drama. Life is friggin' messy! I'm passionate to a fault. I see a lot of things in black and white, but understand there's a whole world of grays in between. However, when people prolong the drama by being (take your pick, I've dealt with them all) petty, spiteful, mean, hateful, vindictive, childish, or all of the above...I don't understand that. Leave that mess on the doorstop. I don't have time to deal with these types of emotions. I'm just barely getting through the day.

So anyway, the family drama has left me in a figurative hole. I'm tired, I'm standing at the bottom of this hole and have no idea how to pull myself out of it.

But back to the weight. Oh, the weight. Actually, I've started to heed my roommate's advice and am only weighing myself once a week. I refuse to be that girl whose mood is dictated by the number on the scale that day. Food is not the enemy. I can eat. I can even eat things that technically won't further my goal. These are called cheats. Speaking of cheats...oh, On the Border tortillas and good friend and enemy. Frenemy perhaps? However, when I did weigh myself, the number displayed a good healthy 203.5. Yes, I realize that's not healthy by anyone's standards. However, considering I was up to almost 225 at my heaviest, I can deal with that. A couple more weeks and I'll be in "onederland," as the bloggers tend to call it. The last time I was in the 100's had to be in high school. Maybe junior high. For me, it's been on the to-do list for way too long and I know once I get in that range, I'm never going back. Even if I have to give up queso.

I don't actually have to do that, right?