Saturday, August 30, 2014

Going from Good to Best

Ever heard this quote?

"Good, better, best.  Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best." 

~ St. Jerome. (You will also find Tim Duncan of the Spurs as credited with this quote as he apparently taught it to his family.)

I remember it from when I was a kid, though I can't pinpoint where I first heard it.  For some reason it has been ringing in my ears for the last 24 hours and today I made the connection as to why.

So when I blogged on August 9th, I was sharing how challenging things were for me.  How I had hit some stumbling blocks, but then alternately made some huge progress.  The week following that post, I made a conscious decision to do some off-roading (some people call it cheating but I refuse to use that word) when I found myself researching a restaurant called Hogs Head in Bluffton (entrance to Hilton Head Island where I was for work).  This restaurant is all about farm to table and their menu was nothing short of AMAZING.  Before I went to the restaurant I decided cheese in my appetizer would be happening. Because it was brie.  And I love love love brie and rarely have it.

Had an amazing dinner, enjoyed the brie/pear/walnut appetizer along with a beet salad appetizer with goat cheese (yes, still trying to like beets - meh).  Had some amazing short ribs and homemade lavender cole slaw and a side of roasted brussel sprouts.  Still doing really well.  Then it was time for dessert.

Normally on a menu, something called "chocolate, chocolate, chocolate" would just be ok to me, but not super tempting as even though I love chocolate, at a steakhouse this would just be an overly chocolatey loaded cake of some sort and I don't care about cake. 

But this.  This was different.  It was made from scratch amazingness - a chocolate creme brulee bottom, topped with chocolate ganache and creme de fresh.  The rest of the meal was so amazing I was certain this was calorie worthy.

Oh wow, was it ever.

My tummy was a little ick from it all, but not terrible.  The next day I definitely was fighting some sugar cravings and found myself eating dried mango when I got home from that trip.  Thank goodness that is out of my house now...

I reigned myself back in and did great the ENTIRE following week.  I'm talking eating out 3 meals a day from Sunday through Thursday night.  Dessert was offered EVERY NIGHT but nothing was really something I either hadn't tried or really wanted.  I worked out EVERY day.  I slept well.  I was killing it!  Then on the last day I had some cheese on my eggs at breakfast...and a cheesecake parfait (which was pretty good but not the best thing I've ever had) at lunch.  Dinner was some chicken fingers and fried brussels (though they really seemed more like roasted, there was no breading).  And a milkshake.  Me and the freaking milkshakes.

It still totally amazes me how quickly I can lose control like that, but I need to stop being surprised and just DO BETTER. 

So while those two weeks were MUCH BETTER than the weeks prior to that when I had milkshakes MULTIPLE times during the week and crap all the time, it wasn't my BEST.

And I deserve my BEST.

I started another Whole 30 this past Monday.  I'm really excited about it.  Almost a week in and I feel incredible.  Amazing how food can do that for you.  I feel my BEST on Whole 30.  Doesn't mean I will always be 100% compliant. But I have to be careful with my treats, and I know that doing my BEST means going about a month without sugar, THEN maybe having a pre-planned treat in a controlled environment.

It was a little sad not making my Saturday almond flour pancakes this morning, but the eggs, leftover roasted sweet potato and US wellness bacon made up for it.

I'm also stepping up my workouts a little bit.  I've decided to add a small amount of running back in - it's just good for my brain.  I'm not going to replace my strength training, but will add to it.  Not distances, just intervals and a 5k every now and then.  Also kicking my kettlebell training up a notch.  I love feeling strong and know that the stronger I am the leaner I will be. 

For fun, I ordered a fitbit again.  Now that I have a phone it can sync with, it makes more sense to have one, remember last year I sent mine back as I couldn't sync it with my phone.  My only beef with the device is it doesn't count my strength training as activity.  I guess I can add it in, but crap, I was heart pounding pouring with sweat earlier after my kettlebell session and it said I had zero minutes of activity. But I knew that going into it and still think it will help me focus more. I'm going to try to track my food for a few weeks and make sure I'm logging a deficit as well. 

Sometimes it's just back to basics for me.  And what I've proven throughout the last 18 months of this journey is that I have my BEST results when I'm consistently doing things (duh, right?).  And those "things" will look different for every person, but for me, Whole 30 helps me stay accountable and true to the right way to eat for me, and training 6 days a week in one way or another helps me push harder and makes it easier to eat right.

Don't settle my friends!  While Good is Good, and Better is Better than Good, YOU DESERVE YOUR BEST!

Find it.

Peace,
Clara

Saturday, August 9, 2014

One Lesson at a Time

I am unsure if you know how cathartic blogging has become for me.  I received a bunch of private messages responding to the last blog I wrote and I am so glad my therapy seemed to resonate with a few of you out there.  One great friend pointed out that I started the blog to remain accountable.  Not blogging is like not logging my own accountability.  Such a good point.  Alas, my goal even in the craziness of my work travel and other life priorities, will be to blog at least once a week. 

After last week's full on heart dump, I felt like a new person.  Not fixed, by any means, but had a new resolve, a new determination, and a new day with a clean slate.  This is the beautiful thing about life.  There is always another day to get it right, to try again.  "Though the sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning."

For me right now, that means there is always another day to learn a lesson. 

As many of you know I have a job where I travel for work.  Right now my travel is super crazy and frequent due to an exciting merger my company just experienced week before last.  This month, I will sleep in my own bed maybe a total of 10 nights, though it's likely closer to 8.  I will be on the road for 31 days.  This past week, for example, I drove to Atlanta on Sunday, then all over Atlanta Monday, to Nashville Tuesday, back to Atlanta Wednesday, all over Atlanta Thursday and Friday then returned home late Friday night.  I drove over 1100 miles total and that doesn't even count the other miles I drove to drop my baby girl off with the grandparents last Sunday afternoon BEFORE I started my work trip.

Needless to say, the massage I have scheduled for Monday at lunchtime has been earned and is a requirement for my survival - before I hit the road again.

All of that to help you understand that I'm battling this food addiction/recovery while having to eat out MOST of my  meals this month.  While it's not ideal, it is what it is.  And if I can survive not cooking for 6 days and still losing weight/meeting goals, then I feel like I'll end up even stronger when the dust settles in October.

So this week I began my Celebrate Recovery journey. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend a meeting until probably September and it looks like I might have Cross Country meets to attend for my daughter so I'm on my own for the most part.  I'm ok with that.  I've accomplished alot on my own so far.

The first workbook says "Stepping Out of Denial into God's Grace."  Interestingly, I sort of balked at the word denial. I mean, I started the study, right?  Could I really be in denial?  Maybe not right at this moment, but a TON of denial is what led up to the events of last week, right?  Yeah...

So some people are "emotional eaters" which is defined as this when I googled it:  (from webmd.com)
"Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger," says Jane Jakubczak, a registered dietitian at the University of Maryland. "Instead of the physical symptom of hunger initiating the eating, an emotion triggers the eating."

Too true.  I've always marveled at people who seemed to lose weight when tragedy struck, as I seemed to gain it.  Instead of losing my appetite it seems I always have an appetite.  Not hunger, as you know that's not the same...but an appetite. I want food.  I eat when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when I'm bored, when you're happy, when you're sad, when you're bored.  Seriously.  I always want food.  I'm addicted to it. So emotion is really tied to food for me.  I am an emotional eater.  But "staying happy" isn't going to keep me healthy since I eat then too.  And let's face it, life is tough and we aren't always going to experience happy days.

Mainly this week the study forced me to write out that I have a food problem - to admit and stop denying that this is causing serious disruption in my life.  And to identify people who can help me along in this journey. I'm so blessed to have a few particular ladies who are completely inside my head on this - you know who you are and I'm so thankful for your accountability, prayers and time you have and will invest in my recovery. 

I had a great learning experience this week that resulted in something I'm hoping others can utilize.

After a long day on Thursday we all decided as a team NOT to do dinner together again.  We had eaten together most of the week and all of us were tired, needed to work on our laptops for awhile and decided we would part ways for dinner.

Next door to the community we visited last was a Publix.  I felt strong, and determined.  Rotisserie chicken and green beans is what I decided I would get.

I walked inside only to find myself greeted with huge amounts of fried chicken staring me down and NO rotisserie chickens.  There were 25 minutes left before they would be ready.  A heinous storm was brewing outside and I did not want to be caught in awful rain in downtown Atlanta traffic.  I stood there for a moment trying to decide what to do.  Walked around the corner and there were some rotisserie chickens that weren't freshly cooked in the cooler - they were cold and just unappetizing to me.  I walked back to the hot food and stared at the fried chicken tenders.  I've eaten so many Publix fried chicken tenders in my lifetime.  They are yummy but who knows what is in the batter and oil used.  And of course, I would want honey mustard.

Forget it!  I walked toward produce hoping to find a salad with walnuts and fruit on it and kill some time so the chickens would be ready.

One salad folks.  Greens and 4 tomatoes.  It looked as unappetizing as it possibly could.

Forget it!

I walked back up towards the front, an internal battle going on.  Almost like the angel on one shoulder and the devil on another.

You've only been clean a week.  You've been clean a whole week!   Two very different messages whirring around in my head.  You're tired just grab something.

I stopped dead in my tracks and realized what was happening.  And that I needed to get the crap out of Publix RIGHT THEN.

I grabbed a six pack of water and checked out of Publix.  Hopped in my car still unsure what I would eat but more focused on just getting myself out of a dangerous situation.

One of my close friends is a mental health counselor - when I described this situation to her she described the chicken and Publix situation as a "trigger" for me - and that "getting the crap out of Publix right now" is a great example of "relapse avoidance." (I'm really thankful that my dear friend is willing to indulge my food addiction talk with actual terminology).

I drove in the rain and wanted to order takeout from Urban Pl8, a fantastic paleo restaurant not terribly out of the way from the route back to my hotel.  And no one was answering the phone.

Dang it!

I had a new resolve and was NOT going to let my newly revived fried chicken craving win, so I kept driving.  Didn't see a Panera.  Nothing I wanted.  I went back to the hotel as I knew room service would at least have a steak option.  I really hoped sweet potatoes too.  Funny thing, I was craving sweet potato ALL day.

Room service had a 12oz NY Strip steak.  I called down and the girl offered me steak fries or broccoli.  "Are those your only two sides?" I asked.  "Yes ma'am." She replied.  I mumbled back that broccoli was fine and pouted in my room for a few minutes.

Then I remembered I had bought an extra kombucha at Fresh Market in Nashville the day before.  You would have thought it was Christmas morning!  I was so excited!

They brought my food - the steak was good, though I had to trim quite a bit of yucky fat/cartilage off of it. The broccoli was ok, I ate some of it.  Finished it off with a green apple and my Mango kombucha and I was satisfied.

As I was driving home yesterday, I pondered this situation and it's result.  I was really happy with how it turned out, though I came dangerously close to eating off plan and potentially sliding back into a binge situation.  I came up with the following acronym to help me (and anyone else who wants to use it) next time something like this happens.

It's S.A.G.E.  What does sage mean?  According to dictionary.com:


sage


1. a profoundly wise person; a person famed for wisdom.
2.someone venerated for the possession of wisdom, judgment, and experience.
Please know I'm not using this word because I think I'm wise - ha!  But I'm more someone who possesses some wisdom due to my own experiences and I want to share that with you.  While driving last night I came up with this (the marketer in me, sorry).  
When I'm in situations like I was at Publix, when anyone has reached a crossroads and feels themselves teetering remember this SAGE advice:
S - Stop.  Right there.  Stop where you are and take a deep breath.
A - Assess the situation.  Figure out what got you there, and how you can get out of it.
G - Get a grip and get OUT of the situation you're in.  If it means you have to leave, then leave!
E - Engage your brain - everyone says follow your heart but I have proven my heart and emotions to lead me astray on my journey.  My brain, however, is smarter than fried chicken.  E can also stand for evaluate  - figure out an alternative to whatever unhealthy behavior you are considering.  
On another note, I participated in a spiritual fast on Friday as I was praying for a need some friends have.  It began after my dinner (around 9pm) on Thursday night and I broke it this morning around 9am.  So it was approximately 36 hours.  I felt ok all day, stayed very very hydrated and probably drank too much coffee in addition to 150 ounces of water and some kombucha when I arrived home but again, I felt fine.  I actually slept well last night and woke up this morning energized.  Enjoyed a small green apple then did a Kettlebell workout.  Then enjoyed some eggs, bacon and apple/chicken sausage with some bulletproof coffee. 

Thanks for reading my update and sticking with me.  I'm working this next week on lesson 2 of the Celebrate Recovery program in book 1.  It digs deeper into the theory of being powerless.  

In the meantime I'm going to apply my SAGE trick anytime I find myself in trouble this next week.  Will let you know if I find myself in a situation where I have to "get the crap out and now."   In the meantime, I hope this helps encourage you in whatever journey or struggle you maybe facing.

Here is a song that really encouraged me this week...and I'm not gonna lie, made me shed a few tears.  I still can't hear it without crying.  Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave

Hugs,
Clara
 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Step 1 - I am Powerless...and That's OK.

Coming out of "hiding" to update you all on, well, everything.  Truthfully, I haven't been in hiding as much as I have gone inside of my head space for awhile and had to work on my "filing" and have spent a few weeks reeling at what I found inside my own psyche. Toss in traveling 85% of my time, some denial, avoidance, loss of accountability, exhaustion, lack of sleep and a plethora of socially acceptable excuses and I'm actually not sure I need to write anymore about the last month to bring you up to speed.  As I've pondered exactly where to start, I find I'm left picking up the few pieces of mental strength I think I still have access to and trying to figure out how to make it into an inspiring story rather than a sad diatribe resembling a poorly attended pity party that ends solidly back in a size 12 and hating my waistline.

I know I've blogged a great deal about food addiction and in the past I've made comparisons to other addictions of the less socially acceptable type, such as smoking, alcohol and drugs.  Let me stress that I don't make these comparisons to marginalize anyone battling such difficult addictions.  I have some wonderful friends who are battling and beating their addictions and they have inspired me, as well as made me realize that my addiction could also be debilitating and, unfairly, was "understandable" according to well meaning friends . (I mean, I work so hard, such long hours and all the travel? No one can eat well under those circumstances, right?)  Instead I make these comparisons because there is a part of me that has realized that food addiction can be AS DANGEROUS to our long term health as other addictions and it is SILENTLY killing people I love.  And it has silently been killing me for the last few weeks, as I slowly slipped into behavior that, frankly, became embarrassing. I've even found myself avoiding people I did not want to see me "like this." Sound familiar?

As dramatic as I might sound, the truth is, right now my body aches terribly and I have not exercised in about two weeks so it's not the "good" kind of ache from developing muscles.  Instead, my shoulders are sore and achy, my neck hurts miserably, my sciatic nerve is pinched in my left hip, my face has erupted in pimples again and I have circles under my eyes.  It truly looks as if I've been on a bender.  And in a way, I have.

I finished my 4 week intermittent fasting/fat loss program a few weeks ago with mixed results.  Given my shoulder injury I had a challenging time keeping up with all of the workouts I had planned, and by the 4th week (and 4th straight week of travel), I realized I hadn't really been able to give it the full attention it needed.  I do not have amazing results to speak of - not at all indicating "it" didn't work as much as "I" didn't do the work needed to make it work.  Because most things will WORK if you WORK them. 

I did find that I can tolerate black beans and sweet potatoes more than I thought I could.  But the sweet potatoes are still a slippery slope for me.

So is cheat day.

Sigh.  It all sort of started and ended with cheat day.  There was a part of me prior to beginning this program that knew, in the back of my mind, that an off the rails "no rules" food day was a stretch for me.  My advisers tried to tell me to only have one or two cheat meals then, to keep myself in check.  Or just add certain foods in to the meals I would normally eat, and indulge in fruit on that day.  I had options.  Instead, I chose door #4 which included, by the 4th and final cheat day, crappy eating that began at midnight and didn't end in 24 hours.  It was easy to fast the day after cheat day, I hurt so badly and felt so awful that I didn't want to eat anything anyway.

This isn't NEW news, but I have confirmed for myself that I'm an extremist when it comes to food.

When I'm good, I'm REALLY good.  Resolve of STEEL.  Rarely missing workouts or "slipping" up especially when I'm accountable to others or they are counting on me to help them along.

And when I'm bad, I'm SO BAD IT HURTS.

Is there a happy medium, for me?

My fall from grace after this program was helped along by exhaustion and poor planning on a work trip a few weeks ago.  Three days in a classroom, even with very interesting presenters, is tough for me.  I reached for a diet coke.  The candy and crap soon followed.  It was a fall from grace, and I fell a long way and the landing HURTS. Ah, diet coke.  My frien-emy.  You quickly helped me spiral out of control, once again.

I've been on the fence for about a week.  Making a great deal of great choices and quite a few not so great choices.  Eating PERFECTLY one day, then walking into Publix to get a pint of raspberries and walking out with a pint of coconut milk ice cream and a container of dark chocolate covered cherries.  (I practically got a high five from the kid who bagged my groceries).  Little did he know he was further encouraging what went down a short while later.

What I have learned and am still trying to wrap my mind around is that I THRIVE with parameters.  I do very well within certain plans or rules.  Other people do NOT do well in that head space and that is totally a personal thing.  I DO.  I need it.  Does it mean I'll never eat cheesecake again?  No.  Do I need to eat it every Sunday?  Again.  No.  Should I maybe limit it until I've reached my fat goals?  Not even going to answer that.  I know the answer.

"Moderation" is a word I just cannot claim right now in my journey.  Sure, it is healthy for some people and I'm really glad they are able to enjoy a weekly or even daily dessert and still maintain a certain size/weight/athletic performance.  What I realize is that my metabolism was broken for SO LONG and my head in the sand in regard to nutrition for most of my life, that I may not be able to enjoy moderation for a long time. For me, eating off the rails like I have been for the past few weeks resulted in weighing in at 199 again.  Yes, that's not a typo.  My low was 170.8 at the end of February...around 185 after the intermittent fasting 4 week plan...and 199 this past Monday morning.

I need a plan.  I need treats in a controlled and limited environment.  I'm sure some of you are reading this thinking it's just too extreme to live this way.  Or that it's unhealthy, mentally.

I beg to differ, based on my current status. I'm going to share a very honest, raw, true life story with you from last night and today to prove my point.

In just a few short weeks, sugar once again completely and utterly consumed my life and my thoughts.  Let me share an example - I had a great dinner last night at a paleo friendly restaurant in Charleston, SC called Sesame Burgers.  They serve grass fed hormone free beef burgers, amazing salads, etc.  Everything is made from scratch (in fact it amused me at how excited the server was about how they make their own mayo - I wanted to squeal, so do I! but decided to let her have her moment...) Surprisingly this restaurant was located in the mall.

I ordered the fig & bacon jam burger with blue cheese.  It was incredible.  No bun not because I was trying to be "good" but I have zero interest in bread which I know is quite strange.  I also had a really pretty spinach salad with melted brie and apples and some sweet potato fries with more blue cheese, pancetta and a red wine reduction.  It was so amazing.  Best meal I've had in a long time.  I was SO FULL.  (uh can you say that's a lot of cheese but I'm partial to fine cheese and hey, I don't have parameters right now remember?)...

And all I could think about was dessert.  Thankfully the waitress didn't give me that option.  I left sort of embarrassed that I even wanted dessert, and thinking about the crazy look I would have gotten from her if I had pretended I still had room in my gut for some since she saw first hand what I had eaten.  I decided I would walk by the cookie place and see if anything there struck my fancy.

I walked back through the mall and passed a coffee/dessert place that looked interesting but kept going.  AsI approached the cookie place I realized there was someone sitting on the bench adjacent to it.  They would see me get the treat.  They would probably think something like "her thighs don't need that cookie."

Suddenly I weighed 285 pounds again, in my mind, and I don't think I realized it.  I ambled to the exit fumbling for my keys to my car.  I was overly alert since it was dark and I was not sure how good of an area of Charleston I was in, alone, late at night (smart, I know).

I got in the car and started wondering if I would pass anywhere on the way back to the hotel where I could get a dessert.  Maybe a Publix where I could get something from the bakery?  But no, I'd rather have something more like homemade.  Dang - why didn't I just get a dessert from the restaurant where I just was?  I contemplated baskin robbins. But then remembered how much ice cream makes me hurt.  And my neck was already killing me (likely all the cheese, honestly).

I arrived back at the hotel and parked in the garage underneath the building.  I climbed onto the elevator and pushed the 1st floor button.  My room is on the 3rd floor.  But the restaurant is on the 1st floor.  I could get dessert there.

I got off the elevator on the first floor and walked a few steps to where I could see the lounge/restaurant.  There were too many people there, all of which would see me with my dessert and think, "she really should watch what she eats."  I quickly turned around and got back on the elevator.

When I got to my room I snatched up the room service menu, sugar still consuming my thoughts, even though I was consciously embarrassed by it as I had already avoided 3 situations to have something "bad" which is funny as it was because I didn't want to be judged, NOT because I didn't want something.  At this point I'm keenly aware of how unhealthily I'm behaving inside my own head.  Peanut butter pie, no, don't really care for that.  Southern pecan pie with white chocolate ice cream, that sounds interesting but still not really what I was looking for.  Warm brownie with vanilla ice cream now that might be a contender.  But it's just a brownie.  Not a special brownie.  Not a homemade brownie.  And the ice cream will make me hurt.

Crap.

I probably picked up the menu and put it down 3 times.  Then I proceeded to take 2 aleve for my aching neck and lay down only to watch TV for the next several hours staying up unnecessarily late.

I woke up once again exhausted but better rested than the prior few days, still mildly embarrassed in my own head about the dessert fiasco, not sure if I was more embarrassed about the fact that I didn't want people judging me or about my inability to make a decision and just get something.

This morning I was fortunate to meet some friends for breakfast at the hotel.  I had a veggie omelet (no cheese) and sausage.  It was really good.  The company was really good.  The chef brought out some homemade mozzarella he had crafted into a caprese salad.  I had a few bites and it was awesome.

On my way home from Charleston I stopped at Earth Fare to pick up some kombucha, pasta for my peeps at home and whatever else struck my fancy.  I left with 12 kombuchas, 2 bags of almond flour, a container of dried mango and dried cranberries sweetened with apple juice (finally found those!).  Truly, I do not need dried fruit in my house.  This I know.  For the occasional recipe it's good to have, but I have no business having it around.  I bought it anyway.  I had a major urge for something sweet.   They have paleo treats here, ooh, I could have one of those.  I thought about it when I was in line already.  Too late.

At that point I became fixated mentally on a milkshake.  Interestingly, I've had a few of those recently. It's been super hot and all the car travel makes one so inviting.  Making the mistake of not having ice cold water with me has not helped.  I've also eaten fried chicken and french fries a few times in the last week.  Even from Chick Fil A, it has resulted in a major stomach ache.

On the drive home I passed a Publix and was afraid to go inside.  I have not proven myself very trust worthy.  There are a bunch of miles after that last Publix before I reach actual food again.

One side note - I haven't reduced myself to eating at McDonalds again - that's just not food.  Ha.

I knew I would eat off the Pooler exit.  I was afraid I would go to Chick Fil A and get a stomach ache like I did the day before.  I don't need a stomach ache.  And then I'll be tempted to get a milkshake.  Crap, I don't want a milkshake. Nothing worse than having your hands/arms ache while driving 2 more hours home.

I saw a Panera sign and it was like the heavens opened up.

In line at Panera I almost grabbed a row of chocolate chipper cookies.  Almost.  I averted my eyes quickly.  I ordered my usual Power Mediterranean Chicken salad from the hidden menu with added pecans and avocado.  The dressing is fresh lemon and a packet of olive oil.  It was amazingly satisfying.

I wanted dessert.

AGAIN.

The thing is, in the past I would think, just get a dessert already and it will be over with.  But I've already done that.  About 10 times in the last 12 days.  I'm not getting it over with.  I'm getting it started again.

I looked at Facebook and saw a message from a friend who is doing a W30 right now and vented about her day, mentioning it would be a miracle if she made it through the workday without alcohol or chocolate.  Her message gave me strength and purpose.  I went through the Panera drive through and ordered black coffee.  It was REALLY good.  Though I'm not sure if I enjoyed that OR having beaten the sugar dragon down more.  I can't decide.

But I know this.  I have won more battles than I have lost these last few years.

It's amazing to me how quickly and easily I can revert to old, unhealthy behaviors.  Much like an addict.  But I cannot avoid the grocery store forever.  I just have to go in there with a plan and a list.  I may always be that way. The light bulb went off as I thought through this whole 24 hour dessert fiasco.  I wanted to eat in secret, in private.  Anything you don't want the people you love to see you doing is likely NOT good for you.

Is it ideal for me to have to live this way? No, I would prefer a life of moderation.  But is it my reality?  Yes.

And do I want to heal from this?  More than I will ever be able to describe to anyone, ever.

I'm doing another Whole 30 starting tomorrow though I'm doing a little bit of a 21 day sugar detox hybrid - I'm not allowing dried fruit (hoping those craisins last the 30 days - ha) and actually limiting my fruit to green apples or green bananas.  Now my Whole 30 wouldn't measure up to someone's first REAL whole 30 - meaning I've come to realize that there is a trace of sugar in the ingredients in the Panera salad.  But I am unconcerned with that.  I will be home only 10 of the next 31 days.  Half of those will be days we have church.  Time is NOT on my side.  So there will be meat that is likely not Whole 30 compliant as I will be eating the majority of my meals in restaurants.  So I'm ok with that because I don't think those things will hurt my results.  The trace sugar is what it is.  It will not keep my sugar dragon fed.  But it will make my plan NOT a true Whole 30 and I'm ok with that.  I'll think of my own fancy name.

Thanks for reading this super long update.  I shared the details of my last few days with you because I need you to see how real the struggle is.  This is not me being dramatic - this is the reality that is my head and has been my struggle as of late.  And yeah, it is dramatic.  Welcome to my filing cabinet.  Yeah, I'm ready to get out too.

Not only am I going to focus on my nutrition this month, I will be getting moving again.  I eat so much better when I'm active and the good choices come easier when they are equated to fuel.  Going to make myself a realistic workout plan designed around strength building and some fun runs.  I'm going to enjoy sweating and feeling strong again.

I'm also going to focus on my mind and my heart.  I've decided to work through the Celebrate Recovery books.  I have them and have never cracked them open.  But it's time.  It's time to call a duck, a duck. It's time to take control of the mind portion of this battle and arm myself with the right tools and strength I need to keep on winning. And battle this head on like the real attack/addiction it is.  I might even attend a meeting if I am home on a Monday night anytime soon.


Celebrate Recovery Step 1:  
I admit that I am powerless over my addictions and compulsive behaviors
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7:18 NIV) 

Yep. On my own, I'm powerless.  I need God to help me with this.  I rely on Him for everything else in my life and it is finally time to give Him the reigns here so I'm turning them over.  If you've followed my blog at all you know I'm a Christian, you know I love Jesus and you know my husband is a pastor.  I don't talk about that much as this blog is much more focused on my health.  But it's time to let Him into this process and let Him take over. Maybe it's why I haven't been able to fully finish this race or reach my final goals.  Maybe He wants to be part of it.  I hope you'll stick around to find out.

I'll keep you as updated as I can.  In the meantime, pray for me?

Hugs,
Clara

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Little Bit of a Lotta Things

Hey all!

So, I've officially made it through week 2 of my 4 week fat loss carb cycling/intermittent fasting plan - and no one got hurt! (ha - during the fasting part particularly!).  Let me go ahead and preface this with a disclaimer by saying I'm not posting this eating plan anywhere, I'm under the direction of a trainer and my workouts and lifestyle are carefully planned around trying this to jump start my metabolism and in conjunction with my personal workout plan.  Plus, I don't know how effective it is.  That said, carry on.

It's been a good experience overall, and I definitely felt the "inferno" last Monday during my first Monday following a fast day - I was like a baby needing to be fed every few hours! I ate when I was hungry...which was multiple times during the day.  The crazy hunger subsided by mid-week but I literally ate every morsel of food I brought with me on my work trip. 

I've been weighing every day - not obsessively, more out of curiosity.  So far I've noticed a decent loss during the week, a gain after cheat day (duh) and then a good loss after fast day.  It's almost like the 2 steps forward, 3 back, then 5 forward if that makes sense.  Unfortunately I've not actually been home on a Tuesday to weigh due to starting a new job and being in a different state the last 2 weeks on Mondays.  But I can tell by how I feel and how my clothes fit throughout that I'm on the right track here. 

Interesting observation - so Saturday is cheat day - you're supposed to eat whatever you want essentially - pile on the calories and fat - the theory on the next day, fast day, is that your body will kick into serious fat burning mode, being confused by the heavy eating followed by a fast.  It's a 24 hour fast, so I do still eat dinner on fast day (and let me tell you it was the best chicken salad and green beans I've EVER had lol).

Well yesterday I ate a few things that qualify as pure crap food in my normal way of eating (fast food for lunch - wha???) and not only did I not really enjoy the "freedom" I felt like crap and had trouble sleeping, then woke up looking hungover, seriously.  I planned my meals carefully, as I am always afraid of the "eat what you want" mentality turning into a binge.  Being a food addict, this will forever be a concern of mine.  I do well within parameters...not so well when I'm given the ticket for a free for all.

So I decided next Saturday will be a bit cleaner.  Instead of pizza at the Italian place (it's award winning by the way - but I was seriously underwhelmed) I'm going to make my own - I tend to really like my own ingredients and I see exactly what I put on it - and I use FLAVOR! Seems restaurants these days are afraid to spice things up, if I'm eating pizza, give me the garlic!

I like the way I cook - I like the way my food tastes and I crave my own cooking much more than eating out, which is something I NEVER thought I would say.  I was always the girl who was up for eating out pretty much anytime, even when my lunch sat in the fridge at work!

I couldn't even finish my dessert last night, it was some awful cookies, several flavors of ice cream.  I had to throw most of it away as I just felt so sick already.

My my, how times have changed.  For the better.

My new self has some better ideas about Saturday and it will include ALOT of fruit as that is something I really have been missing during the week.

But truly, I'm pretty impressed with myself to be eating exactly according to plan for two weeks during a time when I've been on 8 airplanes, hotels and the like.  But hey, I've done a Whole 60, a Whole 45 and a Whole 37.  If I can do that, I'm pretty sure I can do anything.

Fast day has been interesting.  I'm hungry, but not overly so.  I drink a ton of water and also my black coffee.  Even when absolutely exhausted, I found I cannot nap on fast day, unfortunately.  Yes, this is totally a first world problem - and has actually made me realize how awful it must be to live with hunger daily and my heart is moved.  24 hours is an inconvenience, and honestly, psychologically has been pretty good for me.  You think alot when you are trying not to think about food. :) 

My training has been going well also.  I did suffer a bit of a setback with my left shoulder about a month or so ago. Suddenly, during a TGU (Turkish GetUp) with a 30lb weight, I felt weakness in my left shoulder.  A TGU is a tough move with a kettlebell, where you are in a faceup position lying on the floor and you bring the weight straight above you with one arm, then raise yourself up to a standing position with the weight in the air the entire time.  It's hard! But I had been using that weight for awhile.  I realized quickly this was going to go south and carefully got the 30lbs back to the ground without damaging anything (my toes included).  The next day my shoulder just ached.  The pain I was feeling was localized to the top of my shoulder and all of my research was pointing to my rotator cuff which would be devastating.  My friend is a PT and she worked on it a bit for me then suggested massage therapy.  It was a few weeks before I could get in to see someone but once I did, we realized during the treatment that I actually had done something to my trapezius (which I called a trapezoid for at least a day before realizing it - HA!) and that was causing the pain to radiate upward to my shoulder and down my arm.  I've since had 2 massages and I am SO happy to report I'm probably 75-80% better.  In the meantime, I've adjusted my training a bit - I realize the biggest issue is weight overhead.  Therefore, instead of TGUs I'm just doing the Kettlebell swings and squats with the bell (still using the 30lb).  I'm also exploring some other moves.  Additionally, with my T25 workouts, I'm in the Beta phase but trading out Upper Focus for Lower Focus when that one pops up.  I'm allowing RipT Circuit as the overhead work is pretty minimal and I think it is good to keep some activity going up there.

Here's a picture of me and my friend Rebecca, whom I met in Raleigh in person for the first time this past week!  She was such a help and support to me when I began this lifestyle last year and we are both admins on a huge Paleo group on Facebook so we've gotten to know each other better this year.  I'm sporting my new favorite tank top.  "I AM WHOLE 30."  Yeah, I earned that.

In one of my favorite stores - any guesses???

We had a great time having dinner then shopping.

Will post an update for you in a week or so on how things are going.  In the meantime, be well!

~Clara

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Celebrating the NSV's

Ever heard of the acronym NSV?  It stands for Non Scale Victory.  An NSV is when you find something in your or about you has changed for the better because of your efforts to be healthier.  It has to be a change that has NOTHING to do with the scale.

I finished the Alpha phase of T25 today.  I've also consistently been swinging my kettlebells around for a few months, and am on Day 54 of my Whole 60.

You would think the scale and I would be BFFs.  Not so much.  I'm at 176.  Which is not bad, given I once weighed 285 (perspective is imperative here).  But, it is a little disappointing when the scale doesn't agree with your hard work, sweat equity and dedication in the kitchen.  Measurements weren't much better.  Nothing horrid, just not alot of change.  I can feel my triceps way better - but they are not necessarily smaller, just changing in shape. 

So today I want to list out some NSV's to be proud of, to hopefully inspire you to do the same and NOT allow the scale or it's lack of downward cooperation to make you want to quit.

  1. My skin looks awesome.  One side effect of eating so clean and so many veggies is that my skin responds so well.  I just have a glow about me and today went all over town with no makeup on besides some lip gloss.  I realized it about 3 stores into our trip and exclaimed to my daughter, "Oh geez, I've been walking all over the place with no makeup on!"  She said, "Mom, you can't even tell.  You look great."  When I gave her a look, she said "I'm not just saying that Mom."  And of course, in her 10 year old fashion gave me a good old eye roll. (yep, a mini-me!)
  2.  I bought a size small dress today.  I'm not always a small - I mean, hello, I wear a size 10 or 12 shorts/pants.  But every now and then I luck out - tried on a size medium in a maxi dress today and it felt too roomy.  Asked the sales girl to bring me a small.  She did.  And it fit perfectly.  Whaaaat?  Given I used to wear a 22/24 in the SAME STORE it felt great to say the least.
  3. I love the way I eat.  This is super important.  I have a ton of satisfaction with my meals. I don't feel deprived.  Did NOT crave the cheeseburger and fries my daughter ate in front of me earlier - I was excited to get home and eat my leftover ribs and brussel sprouts.  Every morning my breakfasts are satisfying and YUM.  I love the way I eat.  Everything tastes so good.
  4. I feel disciplined and in control.  This is so important for a food addict.  I feel like I'm in control but not in a miserable "I can't eat anything" kind of way.  Instead I feel like I'm making great choices as second nature since I have been doing it so long.  It feels natural and amazing.
  5. Not everything is measurable.  So I can't measure that part of my body where my butt meets my legs - (once heard it called the Bu-thigh - lol!).  But I can tell you my butt fits better in my jeans.  Not something I usually can measure with a tape measure and no number attached to it - but feels great.  I bought a pair of size 10 shorts yesterday that fit PERFECTLY.  Do you know how amazing that feels?
  6. I ran a 5k last weekend with no training.  Once again, being an athlete is amazing.  I am not fast, but it's cool that I can go run for 34 mins and change without months of training and enjoy it so much.  Running for fun has really been enjoyable and I know my strength training during the week has made me a better runner.
Overall, I'm really really happy with where I am.  I can get upset that I'm *still* in the 170s or I can look back and remember how long I was stuck in the 180s!  Many women would not be a size 10 at 175 pounds.  I know I don't *look* like I weigh that much and that I have some great muscles to show for it.  I wouldn't trade my muscles for anything, including my shrinking bust (lol).

I'm looking forward to next steps.  Going to try some new things nutritionally, still staying within the paleo/W30 guidelines but going to see if I can jump start some fat loss again.  I'm excited about what is next and ready to see more positive changes.

Had I quit at any point in the last 5 years I would NOT be where I am today!  Look for the NSVs in your life and tell me what some of them are in the comments section!

Today, if you get no other message from me, please get this:

"The scale is not your friend.  Your own amazing progress is." ~Clara B. 2014.


Holla!
Clara

Sunday, April 27, 2014

You Know You're an Athlete When...

...you're driving down the highway and *almost* pull over when you see two teenagers running - one is running properly, good shoes, good form, the other is wearing loafers, pronates and has terrible form.  Were I not wearing 3 inch heels and a dress and traveling alone, I just might have stopped!

Wait.  Did I just say athlete?  Am I an athlete?  Are you?


This word can be empowering when you refer to yourself as such.  But have I earned this word?


A few years ago my parents were visiting for the weekend and I had a 5k race in Dothan, AL.  They came with me, and kept Elizabeth busy while I ran the race.  Stephen was in school at that time and pastoring a small church so Saturdays were study/sermon prep days for him every week (for 5 years - seriously do NOT miss that!).


I remember after the race my parents were so excited for me.  They've only been at a few finish lines of mine through the years as we live 5 hours apart.  This race was great.  I finished faster than I anticipated.


We got in the car and had a few errands to run on the way home.  Mom looked over at me and said, "We're so proud of you.  Our daughter is an athlete!"


I remember laughing and saying, "Mom, I am so not an athlete!"  But inside I was flattered.  And wondered.

Well.  Am I?

I mean, I don't LOOK like one.  I definitely have some well defined muscles, but definitely also still have some flab to get rid of.  I don't look like a waif of a person who lives on carrots and runs 10 miles a day. (Kinda glad - I like to eat!).  

So do you have to be skinny or look really "fit" to be considered an athlete?

Here's the definition of an athlete according to dictionary.com:


athlete

noun
a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.


Um.  It doesn't even say you have to be fastest (or even fast), great (or even good), or come in first (or even last!).

It literally means someone who is trained or gifted (and we all know in this case for me it's definitely TRAINED - LOL!) in exercises/contests involving physical agility (check), stamina (check), or strength (check check).

I don't really call myself a runner anymore.  I can run, and I do run, and I enjoy running, but it's not my main focus.  As you know if you've followed my journey at all, running has been AMAZING for my confidence, and test of my physical stamina.  But it was not helping me obtain the weight loss goal I had ultimately set for myself.  Not in and of itself.  It is a great complement to my current strength training program and as I said I enjoy doing it.  

But I really like the term athlete better than runner anyway (for me).  I like the fact that I'm physically strong.  I enjoy being somewhat agile (well WAY more agile than I was at 285 pounds right?).  I look forward to spending time on the ball field, or even just playing catch with my daughter, and love being outside now.

All of this from the girl who wanted her car started in the summer with the AC on full blast before I would get in it.

My my.  How times have changed.

On another topic, I finished my first week of my second runthrough of T25!  It was AMAZING! 

Here are a few observations from my first week:

1) this program is NO JOKE!  I mean, I knew that, but boy did Shaun T remind me!  I kept thinking it would be easy after P90X3 but it was not!  
2) I did EVERY SINGLE WORKOUT THIS WEEK! EEEK! So proud of myself.  
3) When my quads wanted to give in I kept on going.  Last year, if you remember, I strained/tore my quads during T25.  Which was funny as I was a "runner" then.  But truly runners end up having weaker quads and stronger hamstrings due to the fact that your legs go in a forward motion only.  I was unable to run full speed for MONTHS and it was during softball season!  It was sad.  So this time, when my quads were on FIYAH! (think this girl is on fire, but insert my quads are on fiiiiire! ahhaha) I PUSHED THROUGH.  Last year I would just stop and take a break until it eased off. Not this time.  This time I imagined myself speeding around the bases on the softball field.  FELT THE BURN.  

Results from my first week:

- lost 1.8 pounds (now at 174).
- lost .25 inches from arm, 1 inch from my waist, and half an inch from my calves.  My thigh says I gained .5 inch but I'm not totally sure I measured them in the same spot (lol).  Not stressing over that as I felt the buuuuurn!  

Remember that I also started my Simple & Sinister kettlebell workout this week which I'm doing in conjunction with T25.  It's kettlebell swings each day (I did around 80/day) along with turkish getups (holy wha???).  Did all of these with my 20lb kettlebell.  

My shoulders are shaping up nicely. :)  May do a shoulder/arm pic next weekend for ya.

OH - and you might be an athlete if...

You ask for heavier kettlebells for Mother's Day. :)

Have a great week all!

Clara



Friday, April 18, 2014

WholeFOREVER (but not really)


Dude, right now I'm killing it!  (in a good way of course).  I cannot believe I did not blog at ALL in the month of March!  Bad blogger!

March started off with a BANG! I decided to eat whatever I wanted the entire day of my birthday.  I became very, very ill. To this day I'm unsure if it was an actual bug that had me puking all night and the next morning (only to be stopped by zofran and phenergan) but truly I'm sure WHAT I was eating did not help one bit.  Let's back up a bit.

My daughter had asked me to run a 5k race at her school with her that morning.  So, I didn't sleep in on my birthday.  Because running 3.1 miles with my favorite person trumps sleeping in ANY DAY!  She had  never run a 5k without stopping before.  Her plan was to do that.  I wanted to help!

That morning, we lined up and a few of her friends were at the front. Here's how the conversation went:

"Elizabeth, we need to go nearer to the back, sweetheart."  ~Me
"But Mom, I want to run with my friend!" ~Lizzie
"Hi, friend, how fast did you run your last race?" ~Me
"Oh, 24 minutes.  I'm hoping to beat my time today." ~Friend

"Back of the pack, Elizabeth, if we finish in under 40 it will be a miracle." ~Me

She hadn't been training at all so I told her if you want to cross the finish line without stopping you HAVE to go slow.  Period.  Or we won't be able to run the whole way which was her main goal.  She was bummed but determined.

Well, my baby girl made me SO proud.  She does a few hours of dance per week and is a pretty active kid, so I'm not shocked she was able to run 3.1 miles without stopping but her little red cheeks at the end reminded me we need to run together more often, overall.  We passed many adults who had to walk, but didn't go crazy fast of course.  We finished in 38 mins and change.  As we put our results into the little age group buckets, I realized, CRAP! I'm in the 35-39 age group...I should have TRAINED!

We stuck around for awards because there were door prizes.  No inklings that we would actually win anything...well...

We both got 2nd place in our age group!!!

Shock and excitement for my baby to get a medal in her first race!

10th 5k race ever, slowest time since 2012 but FIRST MEDAL!  HAHA!

Before we left for the race that morning.

Best start to my 35th year EVER.


We then ate lunch at Zaxbys (mistake #1), and headed home.  Showered, relaxed some, then headed to Augusta to do my favorite things (shop and eat!).  We had a ball shopping.  We bought a snack while out shopping and were eating it while shopping (possibly where I picked up the pukey-bug).  We ate a humongous dinner at PF Changs.  With my free birthday dessert.  Oh my geez. My tummy was rumbling!  There may have also been ice cream.  At this point I blacked out I think.  (lol)

Went to bed feeling AWFUL!  I knew I was going to be sick.  Sure enough it started around 2am and every hour after that until 10am when a friend brought me some meds.  I finally slept and took me a little over a day to get better.  Funny part is I also had a fever which is why I thought it must be a bug.  But who knows. Managed to keep the rest of the house feeling ok so that's a plus.

Didn't exactly get right back on the healthy eating train, but wasn't being crazy either.  But my weekly "treat" time was becoming a bit of a problem (wait, didn't I do a treat yesterday?  ah, I'll have another one today!)  Coupled with my lack of workout motivation with the program I was in...yeah.  Recipe for a few pound weight gain.  I had gotten down to 170 and was ecstatic to find the 160s again.  So super excited.  and then found myself at 184 AGAIN.  GAH! Me and the 180s!

So I made a rash decision pretty quickly...to do a Whole 60.  A full 60 days of Whole 30 eating.

A day or so into it, I was like CRAP!?  What was I thinking?

And then I began to feel AMAZING again.  My skin brightened and my head cleared.  My gut felt clean again and I honestly felt like I had experienced a healing.  It's amazing what good, whole, clean food can do for you.

Not everyone is going to have the kind of results I have with this way of eating.  And that's completely fine, to each his or her own.  But me?  This has truly changed my life.  Revitalized my love of good, whole food.  Made me a chef in my own right!  Tonight we ate grilled pork marinated with all natural seasoning, topped with my made from scratch bbq sauce, side of roasted sweet potatoes and cole slaw made with my homemade cole slaw dressing (whole 30 mayo, almonds, pineapple, raisins and half and half cole slaw/broccoli slaw).  Every bit of it was CLEAN.  And it tasted like a treat meal!  Every day, something I eat feels like a treat.  Just check out my facebook page where all of my food is posted.  It's amazing.

And let's just look at some results in pictures.  I took pics in Dec 2012 when I started my first challenge with my beachbody coach, Nate.  I remember looking at them and being so disappointed!  Check out the difference in these pics that were taken from December 2012 - April 2014.


First pic from Dec 2012 (225.6 pounds), after a year of Paleo/Whole 30, April 2014 (175.8).

Flexing.  Look how my arms are shaping up!

The rear.  Eeeeeek.

Front view.  Do you see Abs?  I do! I do!  Almost!

Side pic.  I seriously stared at this comparison.  Wow.  NOT sucking in here either time.  And Abs!  ABS!!!

Amazingly, I once weighed an additional 70 pounds heavier than the pictures on the left!  Crazy right?  Too bad I wasn't taking pics of myself then like this.

I urge you to TAKE PICS even if you don't want to share them now if you're doing a healthy journey.  One day you may look back and be brave enough to post them.

Sort of feels like I'm in a WholeFOREVER right now.  But it's NOT a drag.  It feels amazing.  I feel so stinking happy, glad, whatever, to be where I am at.  Looking at the "after" or as I prefer to call them "current" pictures I know there is still some work to do.  Another probably 15-20 pounds from here, not just 10.  Or I may just do redistribution of the weight.  If I replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of muscle, I may not be meant to weigh much less than I do right now.

Overall, I feel good, I looooove my food, and I'm jazzed about what's next.  OH about that!

I finished P90X3 a few weeks ago.  Did not order the "I crushed it" shirt because honestly, I did not crush it!  BUT I did finish.  And then launched into a 21 day kettlebell challenge.  So far it's unintentionally been my only workout each day as everything has gotten in the way of me running lately.  Truly everything in bloom is killing my allergies.  Anyway, I'm on day 18.  It has been awesome! I see amazing changes in my shoulders! Literally it's an interval swing challenge. You can find the book to follow it and get it on your kindle for $2.99 right now on amazon, click HERE.  It's been so much fun and a nice change.  I will be on Day 21 on Monday when I start my FAVORITE program again...

Guess what it is???

T25!!!

I'm so super stoked.  New challenge group and everything.  CANNOT WAIT. 

Planning to CRUSH the month of April.  So far, I'm totally doing it already! Cannot wait to see what a Strict W30 tied in with T25 and some kettlebell workouts and running here and there do for my physique.  Dare I imagine bathing suit season? 

I've rambled enough.  Hope you enjoyed the long awaited update.  I'll be back sooner rather than later, at the least, at the 30 day check in point for my Whole 60.  {I'm still weighing a few times a week but not letting it change what I'm doing in any way. Just taking note - I'm back at 175 this week - so already 10 pounds down since April 1!}

Peace out my friends!  Do something healthy for yourself this weekend!

~Clara