The Bathing Suit

Okay, here’s a little about me and the past of this blog: this blog used to be my diet and exercise blog. I’ve documented Weight Watchers, Paleo, and Keto. I’ve documented exercise programs. I’ve documented successes. And I’ve documented frustrations.

One thing that I have not documented is my disorders. I have had undiagnosed bulimia since I was in high school. When I was doing the Paleo diet, I became so restrictive that I became worried that I had crossed over into orthorexia. When I came off of the Paleo diet after five years, due to a high stress level, I tried to experiment with how different foods made me feel while enjoying foods that I had restricted myself from for so long. I gained a lot of weight very quickly as my body sought to heal itself from all of the restricting I had done. The stressful jobs that I have held over the past year and a half have not helped; my bulimia came roaring back with a vengeance about a year ago.

I count myself in recovery now, as I try to learn healthy ways to handle stress and relate to food. I am not restricting my food choices, but am trying to be aware of how I feel when I am eating at certain times of the day, as well as being aware of how certain foods make me feel. I know that my stress at work now is leading to me binge after work. I am trying to incorporate different stress-reduction techniques to help with that as well.

One aspect of this that has been hard to deal with has been my larger body size. I think I have blocked my emotions from my thought processes when it comes to having a larger body. I have tried to be matter-of-fact about needing to buy larger clothing, but this weekend I needed to buy a bathing suit. This is a task that I have always hated because I have not been comfortable with my body in a bathing suit since I was a child. In fact, last summer I didn’t even buy a bathing suit. I took my daughter to the pool and didn’t swim, and even went to the beach and didn’t swim.

This year I decided it was going to be different. I have unlimited time this summer to be at the pool, and I would like to thoroughly enjoy myself while I am there. No not buying a suit just because I hate the process. There are unlimited choices out there, so I just need to find one that I like.

And I did find one that I like from Torrid, which I ordered (thank goodness for Torrid). But my daughter is all over me to swim NOW, and the bathing suit isn’t supposed to be here until Monday. So I needed to find a suitable stand-in.

I went to Walmart, which was probably my first mistake, but I needed something cheap because my funds are really low right now. And I went through the same humiliating experience that I have always gone through when it comes to shopping for bathing suits. I was so upset when I got out of the store that I cried in my car and wallowed in my embarrassment in my bed when I got home.

I did buy a top that I actually do like. But tops have never been the problem for me. I bought some shorts to go with them because the bottoms they were selling with the tops were cut weird and were very unflattering. But I had to put it in perspective – my body is not what is the problem.

The problem has been companies not willing to make clothing that flatters bigger bodies. They take the designs that flatter smaller bodies and adapt them – make them in larger sizes, and it doesn’t work. It feeds this culture that says we need to be smaller, we need to restrict, we need to diet, we need to fit the image that stares at us from the cover of every magazine. But I’ll tell you what that message got me: two different eating disorders, a hugely disordered body image, and a need for a recovery mentality that I have to work at every single day.

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Moving Forward

It is so wonderful to be in a place where I feel like I am moving forward and am able to make some long-term plans that make sense. It has been a long time since I have been in a place like that.

I think I said something in a previous post about changing my direction and rebooting the path that I had previously been on. Well, it was working okay…I guess…I just couldn’t seem to get myself motivated to actually work on what I was trying to reboot. So I had to step back a moment and think.

One of the things that I have been working on personally is something called Warrior Goddess Training. I know that might sound a little gimmicky, but it is based on an Earth religion tradition called Toltec, and one of the things that I have learned from this process is about agreements that we make throughout our lives about ourselves. For example, when we are younger we may be told by someone in our lives that we are fat and need to get into shape. If we then embark on a lifelong quest to become thin, we have made an agreement that we are fat and need to work on getting in shape. Agreements are choices; we can choose to agree with the idea or opinion or not. But whatever choice we make affects our path and the way we move forward with our lives.

I realized earlier this week that I had made an agreement about this particular path of mine. I had made the agreement that I wasn’t good enough to be doing this work. I didn’t have enough education, and the work itself wasn’t good enough to be presented. I made this agreement despite the fact that I was actually out there doing the work and I was getting a ton of positive feedback from the material. It was changing people’s lives and making a difference for teachers, which is my goal. Even though all of that was happening, I still made the agreement. I walked away from doing what I loved and went back to school. It may have been necessary to go back to school but not in the way I did. I also began to take a meandering track through my career which led to an excessive amount of stress. And I have been incredibly unhappy since I entered that agreement.

So I rejected the agreement. I made a new agreement that not only am I good enough to do this work and the work itself is good enough to be presented and more and more research backs up my work, but I made an agreement that this is the work that I am supposed to be doing with my life and I have a path forward.

The results have been amazing. I am totally motivated now to work on this, and the ideas keep growing. When I previously folded the business I spent a lot of time destroying the material that I put together, but despite those efforts I have been finding all kinds of notes, materials, and projects that I did not destroy entirely. I have a lot of pieces to work with, and the knowledge that I have gained since I did this before means that I can put it all together even better and stronger than it was before. At least there is that plus to all of this.

What Stress?

Okay, I’ve been stressed lately. In fact, I can’t remember a time in the last three years or so when I have not been stressed. It has almost been a constant in my life, so much that for all of my trying to restore some balance and get myself together, not much has changed.

Until last week.

I’m not sure what happened. Well, I kind of know what happened, but the fact that it made things so much…easier so quickly has kind of thrown me off. I mean, I’ve been able to breathe and relax, and I’ve actually enjoyed my job for the first time in a long time. Well, despite all of the parts of my job that were stressing me out before, but I don’t seem to be as stressed by them now. So what happened?

Well, first I kind of got real with myself. What has been my major problem in every situation where I have felt the most stress? Or, as a podcast I listened to asked me, what has been my relationship to power? This was a powerful question for me because I come from a major background of feeling powerless, and that has seemed to carry over into my adult life in less-than-healthy ways. Namely, if I’m not in a position where I am in control, or can control a situation, then I feel threatened and I do everything I can to put myself in a position where I can control the situation. It has affected my relationships with countless people, coworkers, and has caused me to leave several different jobs. So I had to try to reframe my relationship with power and redefine where I get my power. I have seen that my power comes from two different sources: balance and connection. Rather than fighting to be in control of a situation, I can use my power to bring balance to a situation, which is a much different type of power with a much different total outcome. Power to control leads to a power imbalance, with one person or entity on top and another one on the bottom. This type of power has led to all sorts of social injustices all over our world, and this is not the type of power that I want to wield. However, it is just what I have been doing. However, using power to bring balance to a situation does just that: it balances the scales so that everyone can enjoy input and can feel worthy.

Just this one admission and adjustment has done so much to help me see where and how I have been in a power struggle and how much of my energy it has been taking. It has also shown me the bigger place where that energy is needed: connection.

I work all day in a place where connections should be made all the time. But when you are stressed out and involved in a power struggle that is zapping all of your energy, it is hard to build connections with anyone. So when I came out of that place of power struggle and began to try to use my power to create balance, I also began to build the connections that I have always been so passionate about building. That led me to enjoying my job, one of the most stressful teaching jobs I have ever had, for the first time in forever.

So that’s how it happened. But wait, there’s more!

I have been involved in trying to start a school. I’m using those words rather broadly, as I haven’t done anything definitive to start a school. The thought of the whole process has been so overwhelming to me that I have really done nothing to actually get anything off the ground. But when I came into this realization about my power, balance, and connection, I remembered my business doing professional development workshops and my huge plans to create a school under the umbrella of that business. And all of the workshops that I did during the time I had the business were about….(drumroll please)…

Balance and Connection. Broadly speaking.

Hello! I was happy doing those workshops, and I haven’t been happy since I folded that business. Maybe because I folded it due to someone’s words about what I should be doing, and my inability to figure out a major problem related to the business, I began to feel threatened and went into power struggle mode. I’m not sure. I may never know. But one thing is certain, I am going to start that business up again. I even figured out a hopeful solution to that problem.

I think everyone’s source of power is different. In one podcast I listened to, different from the first one, the lady said that hers was love. I’m sure there are others, and they are probably related to values that people hold in their lives that cause them to act in certain ways. So I guess it is very important to figure out your values and how you are manifesting those values in your life. I know that figuring that out for me has changed my own interactions so much.

Trusting Myself: An Update

I did a funny thing this morning. I decided to write a blog post.

I haven’t blogged anything in a really long time. I have several blogs that I used to keep up, but I haven’t posted anything on any of them in quite a while. Lately, however, I’ve been feeling the blogging itch coming on, so I know that I have a few things that I want to say. I will tell you this – it has been so long since I’ve written a blog post that I totally forgot that I changed the name of this one. This blog was my Paleo blog that I started in order to chronicle my Paleo journey. I did Paleo for five years and then, a couple of years ago, took a detour. I was worried that I wasn’t doing Paleo in a healthy way. In fact, I was starting to become obsessive and it was very unhealthy for me in how I was approaching it mentally.

The break really helped and gave me some perspective. I spent most of that time not subscribing to any one diet or lifestyle. I simply enjoyed food in all of its glory. Everything that I had missed, I ate. But then I began to feel bad, and I gained a lot of weight. An eating disorder that I had not had to worry about since going Paleo reared its ugly head in the midst of a ton of stress that I was going through. It was a very crazy and unhealthy time.

I switched jobs to lower my stress level, which has ended up being one of the best decisions that I have made, despite my brain trying to manufacture stressful situations. It hasn’t been a total walk in the park, this new job. I am an assistant teacher now, but the lead quit not too far into the school year so I had to assume the role for a time while they tried to find a new one. The classroom itself has been stressful, but still hasn’t touched the stress that I was dealing with previously.

In all of this, I tried to go vegan. Clint (my fiance) is vegan and has been for some time. He researched it after I adopted our rescue beagle and it has become a lifestyle for him. I tried several times through the stressful period to join him on that journey but it did not really help with all of the stress. Once my stress level went down I tried again and started doing pretty well. But I’m a very introspective person, and I spend a lot of time monitoring how things make me feel (like stressful jobs and lifestyle changes). I wasn’t feeling good on the Vegan diet. I had almost constant brain fog, which made it hard for me to focus and concentrate, something that is very important in my job, as well as in the side projects that I am always doing. We have had a lot of snow days lately, which would be really good for my side projects, but one day I had such a lack of focus and willpower that I spent the entire day sitting on the couch playing games on my phone. My feet and legs have constantly been hurting. I have been consistently tired. I spent pretty much the entirety of winter break sleeping, which I probably needed because I was at the beginning stages of recovering from a year of stress, but was still worrisome for me because I don’t usually sleep like that. My sleep throughout the night has been inconsistent – I don’t think I’ve really gotten a full night’s sleep since I went full-on vegan. And that is one thing that I don’t like to mess with, sleep. I love sleep and I love my mornings, and when my sleep gets so messed up that I’m sleeping until 8 in the morning (which I know is normal for most people, but not me), then I have a problem. All of that sleep in the morning was making up for sleep that I wasn’t getting in the night, which has been a sometimes problem for me but never a consistent, nightly problem like it has been.

Throughout my foray into Veganism I consistently flirted with the idea of going back to Paleo. I think I recognized that Paleo made me feel better than Veganism was, and I wasn’t doing it for the noble, moral reasons that Clint was. I was doing it to be healthier, and all of the literature that I was reading claimed it was healthier, but I didn’t feel healthier. I felt almost like a zombie. I felt like I couldn’t get anything done. It was becoming a struggle to get out of bed, and the constant aching in my feet worried me. I’ve felt that ache before and I’ve blamed it on shoes, concrete floors, any number of things that could cause foot aches. The bottom line for me was that I remembered the ache going away when I was eating Paleo. I remembered the energy and the clear-headedness; I have old status updates on Facebook about brain fog lifting and energy levels skyrocketing. The lack of focus has really become a problem. I work with kids, and when I can’t focus or even have a lot of energy, it really diminishes the impact I have in the classroom. I can’t give my full self to the kids because I don’t have as much to give. That is not acceptable to me while I’m in this field, which is so demanding of time and energy.

This week I made a choice. Part of living a beautiful life and practicing self-love is being able to trust yourself, something that I have a hard time with. I’m a people-pleaser. I want to make sure that everyone around me is happy and I do what I can to make that happen. I tend to project other people’s moods onto myself, making it hard for me to listen to myself because I am so busy listening to the moods of those around me. But in this case, I don’t have a choice. I have to listen to myself or risk being unhappy, feeling unhealthy, and being unmotivated. And I’m not in a place where I can do that right now.

Detour to my current side-project, which is very important to me. For many years I have been studying about trends in education, specifically early childhood education, and contemplating about how those trends transfer over to education as a whole. For years before I got my degree, I read books and studied education, creativity, and motivation. I developed a personal philosophy of education that is sometimes at odds with the current system. And now, many years later, I am attempting to start a school that utilizes that philosophy. It is an exciting and daunting journey, much more exciting and daunting than any of my previous side-projects. But the difference with this one is that I haven’t had the focus, energy, or motivation to self-start, to organize my thoughts, or to organize my actions. In some cases I know what the next step is but I get caught in a rut of procrastination mixed with a lack of energy and a complete sense of overwhelm. I am a huge procrastinator, a professional really, but in my last big project (starting my own business doing professional development workshops) I don’t remember the sense of overwhelm and lack of motivation being so high. I was doing Paleo then, and I just remember feelings of high positivity and a constant drive to work through the overwhelm and a feeling of focus that I have a hard time achieving now.

I switched to Paleo two days ago. Already I am feeling more energy, and my focus has been a lot better. I have been able to get some housecleaning done and focus on my project enough to start, something that I had seemingly been avoiding before. My desire to sit and play on my phone is diminishing slowly, and I feel better walking – so much better, which is great because I do need to walk this dog. I think she is tired of her pitiful little walks because of the snow. There have been many benefits already, although it is early into the journey. I keep thinking that it might even just be the placebo effect, since it happened so quickly, but I’m not sure. Knowing me, I will be monitoring the hell out of how I am feeling to make sure that it is the right thing to do. But I do know one thing: listening to myself and trusting myself is already paying off.

Yoga Challenge Revisited

Well, here I am. I got farther with the original yoga challenge than I thought I was going to, but I don’t remember what day I stopped at. I may have to check my Facebook to find out because I logged most of my workouts under #100dayyogachallenge. I didn’t make it to 100. I think that day 100 would have been sometime this week, but this week I simply started over. No hashtags, no counting. I’ve simply been trying to make an effort to get on the mat every day. Except tomorrow. That is my rest day unless I change my mind and just try to stretch out a little.

I’m trying to figure out how to tap into that motivation that I had when I started eating Paleo. I blogged about it a lot on here in order to see how far I had come, but I just did it. Every day I did it. I didn’t whine about how hard it was or about how I didn’t want to cook (ok, maybe I did that). I didn’t focus on how hard it was or how crappy I felt at first. I looked forward to the results. I looked forward to all of the positives that people said would happen and that helped push me beyond the initial icky carb flu and lack of energy so that I could get it done.

I guess I’m in icky carb flu stage with the yoga. And as out of shape as I am, I’m not sure how long that stage is going to last. I have made some changes in my life that might make it easier. I quit my stressful job three weeks ago and found a job that I love that is much less stressful. Still in childcare, so still very much a part of my passion. The lack of stress has made it that much easier to get on the mat in the mornings, because I am more confident that I can push through this tiredness to the end of the day. Before I had to bring my A-game every day to work, and I got no support. I still have to bring my A-game, but I have an amazing support system now that I didn’t have before. It helps a lot, and I can tell that it is helping a lot with my transition into this next phase of my lifestyle.

And maybe that is a difference, too. I always looked at Paleo as my lifestyle, especially after I experienced the benefits. Maybe instead of looking at yoga as a way to get back in shape or get stronger, I need to look at it as part of my lifestyle. Part of how I live my life, because I know that if I don’t do it my life isn’t the same. And it isn’t. When I don’t do my yoga I get cranky and stressed and my muscles feel tight and everyone around me knows that I haven’t done my yoga. When I do it I feel calmer and stronger. Tired, but relaxed. I can take on the world, because I had that little bit of time in the morning to connect with me. Or maybe I can connect with the world better because I have taken time to connect with myself. Maybe that is why I feel less stress and more connection. Either way, the benefits of getting on my mat are greater than what I get when I don’t. It is time for commitment to this next part of my lifestyle.

100 Day Yoga Challenge – Day 3

Who would have thought that the day after I publicly announce my personal challenge would be the hardest one so far for me? I almost talked myself into staying in bed for an extra 15 minutes. I didn’t, though, and I can honestly say that I am glad that I made myself get up. One of the things that I have always loved about yoga is its ability to make me feel great when I am done. Sometimes it is hard to see that when you are sore and tired and just want to sleep, but that is part of what this challenge is about – kicking myself in the butt so that I can get to this feeling. So here I am, day three done.

In the interest of being totally up-front, I should also mention that I am in the middle of a sugar detox of sorts. I usually steer clear of sugar on a daily basis because it tends to affect my energy and mood, but this time of year I let myself have a little leeway because berries are in season. Well, I found out that my ginger-in-a-tube that I was using in my eggs in the morning had dextrose and fructose in it, and I was using it every day! No wonder my sleep started getting messed up and I started getting crabby during the day. All if that is sorting itself out now as I go through this sugar detox. My sleep is starting to return to the wonderful Paleo sleep that I love, and my mood is starting to stabilize as well. Now that I have that sorted out, I figured it was the perfect time to get into this challenge. I seem to feel more motivated to move when all of my food-oriented stars are aligned.

I guess we will see what tomorrow brings!

Grapeseed Oil Is Not Paleo

This has been an interesting week. I have made it my mission to do at least thirty minutes of activity a day so that I can get in better shape. Plus, I am hoping that doing this will get me out of the habit of hibernating during the summer. I used to not care if it was hot out, when I was a kid. Now, I can’t stand to be in the heat. But maybe if I try to be more active, try to get my kids outside more, that will help me get over that. There is a lot we can do outside, and perhaps I need to invest in some tank tops or something. That way I won’t feel as if I am dying every time I try to go outside and do something. Today I took the kids to the park. We played catch and the little one rode her bike. We went for a hike. I attempted to fly a kite but there really wasn’t enough wind. Plus I wasn’t feeling like running around trying to get the kite going. It was pretty warm out there. I don’t complain about the warm when I am taking my class outside to play, but when it is me outside on my time, I guess I’m complaining about it a lot. 

Earlier this week – Thursday, actually – I had a great yoga session. I was very proud of myself. Then on Friday on and off throughout the day my ankle was hurting. I didn’t connect the two until Saturday when I tried to do some more yoga. I tried to go into Upward Dog and I couldn’t do it because of my ankle. I’m not sure if I didn’t rotate my thighs right or if I just put too much pressure on my ankle, but I had to stop because I couldn’t put much pressure on my ankle like that. I tried to do a search about why my ankle would be hurting from doing that, but most of the posts I saw talked about back pain coming from doing Upward Dog wrong, not ankle pain. 

Saturday afternoon saw us at a gathering for my fiancé’s aunt’s 90th birthday party. I was a pretty cool gathering. I made sure that I ate before we went, but I didn’t eat a lot. There was NOTHING Paleo at the event, but since I had eaten I didn’t mind. I don’t get hung up on whether or not there is stuff for me to eat at events because not everyone eats how I do, especially here in the south. But when we left the event I was starving. We went to another the house of another aunt of his, and she had stuff for me to make a salad. She offered me grape seed oil and vinegar, and I gratefully took it. However, I found out pretty quickly that grape seed oil is not Paleo. That stuff was doing a number on my stomach. I looked it up yesterday, and grape seed oil is just as processed as canola and vegetable oil. It was good in a pinch, but I’m not sure I’ll ever try that again.

I don’t have any new recipes right now. I am still trying to get used to having time on my hands, since I’m not in school. It has been nice to be able to get out with the family and do things, and not be so stressed out that I don’t want to do anything. Taking some time out and re-evaluate where I am standing and what I want has been great, and I have come up with some new directions for myself. As far as this goes, Paleo is serving me well. Especially this past week when I have been increasing my vegetable intake and decreasing my protein intake. I have felt great! I think I feel a difference in how my clothes fit, too.