Thursday, July 21, 2016

Weight loss diary -- Seeing your choices not as failures, and treating your body like a friend

Skittles and sunflower seeds count as worthwhile food when you're so hungry it feels like your stomach's eating itself, right?

I know, I know.

I suppose you also don't feel I should have selected a Happy Meal for my lunch, either.

(Actually, it was a Mighty Kids Meal, but HM rolls off the tongue better).

To be honest, I'm not enjoying these Skittles. I bought them as a treat for my drive home from Yosemite this weekend, and in fact didn't even crack them open during the car ride. I've just been eating them at my desk this week, like a machine: hand to mouth, hand to mouth.

I might throw what's remaining in the bag away soon.

At least I have that going for me -- I can and will throw away candy.

Just did it. Tossed 'em.

Sugar's just a habit for me, ya know? I legitimately can be pretty OK when it's not around, but if I run into a convenience store I go for the junk. Here's hoping I can get better at (not doing) this.

***

Other stuff:

I am PEEING so much.

Ugh.

I've got this giant, one liter water bottle that I keep filling up and sucking down, and it feels so great to drink it (not in a self righteous, look-at-me-drinking-water way, but in an actual, this-feels-physically-good way), but if I'm not in the loo 20 times a day!!!

Again: ugh.

Bailey's campaign slogan: Tired of the Flush.

***

Random, but I was just googling Tim Kaine -- because he's from KC ANNNNND went to Mizzou!!!!!!!! Holla! -- and saw the word 'gubernatorial' on his Wikipedia page.

I just love that word, don't you?

I mean, we're supposed to take it seriously, I suppose, because it's official and a 10 dollar word and whatnot, but c'mon. Goober?????

That's just comedy right there.

Also not quite as funny, but come to think of it it does make me giggle: I also love the word 'pandemonium.'

If someone says, "It's pandemonium in there," I'll probably at least smirk.

***

I'm getting dinner and drinks with two of my precious and oh so fun friends tomorrow night, and I just checked the menu (it's a BBQ place) to see if they have any quinoa.

Um...it's likely I'm gettin' something bad for me tomorrow night. You just walk in that place and deliciousness wafts over you.

And being a KC gal (like my new best friend Tim Kaine), well that just smells like home, don't it?

So, just FYI here on the weight loss trail, tomorrow Bailey is eating BBQ and washing it down with craft beer. OK? Great. Moving on.

(But then Saturday I'm working out and eating salad.)

***

Let's see, one more thought on weight loss and then we'll call it a day here.

Abby reported last night that my tummy's a lot smaller, and I actually feel a little bit slimmer today, but I did see my arms in the reflection of a store front today and just felt, well, swollen.

My spirits are up, though, and my confidence in my ability to work off the pounds intact.

I officially start half marathon training on Tuesday, and I am looking forward to it.

I'm doing a race in a gorgeous region this November, with two wonderful gal pals of mine, and I'm hoping my Pops can join us, too.

All righty, Homies. Keep it real. Be kind to yourself. Don't view unhealthy choices as failures; instead listen to your body's response and treat it like a friend: one you would listen to, respect, and respond to with grace. If it says it doesn't want Skittles, then maybe chill on the Skittles for a bit.

Healthy X's and O's,
Bails

Monday, July 18, 2016

Weight loss diary -- using a scale and setting limits

My scale broke.

I'm not sure what to do with this turn of plot.

Toss it? Buy a new one? Only weigh in at the gym?

Or maybe...quit weighing myself for a bit.

I don't know exactly. But I am inclined to go with the final option.

On the one hand, how am I supposed to know if I'm achieving my goal, if I can't track my progress?

On the other, it could be the weighing in that is the most dangerous pitfall of all aboard this weight loss train.

***

I never used to be a scale person. I didn't own one, and I would only step on occasionally, out of curiosity, if I saw one hanging out in a friend's bathroom.

Sadly, I am somewhat ashamed to admit, I did this with a nose in the air. Privately, behind closed doors atop tiled floors, I would celebrate my number. Exactly where I wanted it to be. Sometimes even lower, leaving a little extra "play" room; room for some slices of cake, a few more beers. Forever snacking with flat tummy intact.

Sometime in the last year I was at the apartment of one of Alex's friends. It had rained, for once, in LA, and we were watching Clue in a swanky flat with the French patio doors open. I excused myself to use the restroom, and there it was, one of those tantalizing squares of temptation: a scale.

I stepped on.

Shocked and crestfallen, I threw no confetti in the air.

In a moment, I saw a number I had never seen before -- not one that had ever been tied 'round my waist.

I confessed my number to Alex during the drive home, with sadness in my voice.

***

I find it disgusting on some level that we have wasted hours of precious, God-given time on this earth counting the numbers that mark the amount of pounds in our body.

WEIGHT.

It's just weight.

I don't have the words right now, as I am left somewhat speechless at the fact that the amount we weigh means anything.

We care less about muscle tone, waist lines, measurements, than we do about that number.

We care less about how we look, even -- and we LOVE to care about how we look -- than we do about our number.

We care less about our humor, our satisfaction with daily life.

We care less about how much joy we might in fact be able to feel if we were completely unaware of our number.

Right? I just think if we didn't know weight, if we didn't understand it as a concept, had no reference point, knew neither our own nor anyone else's number -- then we'd be happier.

I really believe this.

And it's just sad to me that we're allowing something so banal, so scientific -- weight should be something you monitor in a chemistry lab, in grams -- to be ruling us so.

***

Part of me wants to write here: "That's it! I'm not going to use a scale anymore!"

But half a second following that thought, I reel.

What if my number goes up, and I don't know it? Wouldn't it be better to know, so that I could correct my actions, to make the number go back down? I ask myself in fidgety discomfort, feeling control spin from my hand like a top on a string.

In reality, my number could be going up this very moment. I haven't weighed myself on a working scale in several days. I spent the weekend drinking beer, eating Oreos, and also hiking an insanely steep trail.

Did my number go up? Did it go down? Did the dial's needle waver at all?

No way to know.

As a previous non-user of scales, and as a current owner of a broken scale (who had gotten in the very recent habit of weighing herself nearly every day), I can't say I know what I want -- to know my number or make it once again a mystery.

***

I can tell you this: I am trying to save money, so I will, today anyway, likely not go buy a new scale.

I can tell you that I am glad that I haven't, yet, become obsessed with my scale. I don't feel like a junkie right now, as if I must go to Target immediately following work to buy a new scale.

And I can tell you that, just like all of us, I am having my up moments and my moments of frustration.

I went on a hike this weekend, and halfway up I turned around and went back down, sending two of my friends ahead to finish the feat.

I told my other friend, as we were descending the switchbacks, that I think it's almost more difficult to make the decision not to finish than it would have been to power through and climb all the way to the top.

I said this because I knew I would have regrets about my decision, even if it was a healthy one to make. Today, two days later, I am somewhat upset I didn't complete the hike. I am second guessing myself -- would I have been able to reach the summit? Should I have gone for it?

I told Alex that I didn't finish, and even in his encouragement, in saying he knows I could have powered through to complete the task, I didn't feel better. In fact, I felt worse. I considered not telling him at all, because I knew his words of, "You could have done it" wouldn't feel like a compliment.

It's incredibly hard to set your own limits.

It's hard to forge forward, to put in so much of what you have, and to meanwhile save some of your reserves. I just don't know that I've ever bought into the American mantra of "Give it your ALL."

I'll give it my all in writing, maybe, but when it comes to physical fitness, I'm not sure I can get behind this. I don't need to run a marathon, to complete an Iron Man competition. I just want to be healthy, and happy with my looks.

I don't even really feel like I have helpful words here, and I think a lot of you would actually disagree with me, saying that for fantastic views of nature's vistas, I should have forged ahead on that hike.

But in the moment, my friend and I were exhausted, short on water, on the verge of sunburn.

"I feel so defeated," my friend said.

We trudged a little further up and saw some people coming down, who had made it to the top. They told us we were only just halfway up. You're only beginning, they said. When you pass the tree line, it's sweltering, they told us.

We weren't feeling encouraged. We didn't feel strong. We didn't feel able.

I don't know if we made the right decision or not.

But I do know that life is too short to worry about it. I don't feel the truth of that sentiment in every moment, but most days I do believe that life is too short to count calories, add up pounds, feel like less of a person because I didn't tread every step of the trail.

***

My friends and I met a couple yesterday who recently lost their son to suicide. He was 20 years old. I think I speak for us all when I say that we felt so blessed to be able to sit with this husband and wife for an hour. "We are shattered but not broken," the boy's mother told us.

Before we got in our car to head back to our Airbnb, the parents of this young man prayed for us. I don't think any of us will ever forget them. It is gut wrenching and terrible that he had to leave earth so soon, but his life touched ours, through his parents and their kindness.

His name was David.

Life IS short.

I'm hoping that I can live in a way that the scale is not my ruler. Not as a tool for measuring my worth nor as a heartless dictator in a superficial throne.

The portion of the hike that I did this weekend had some gorgeous views.

I burned a billion calories.

I did something tough.

As I came down, I got to talk to a friend who I rarely see. A friend who has been extremely special to me for many years.

We shared chips and salsa and drank beers, cheering ourselves for a job well done.

This weekend was full of gifts, and I was able to count them, one by one. I don't want to lose the pile of gifts for spending time with the one, feeling like it's incomplete. It was just a hike.

To you all: well done. Whether you're losing weight, going after an artistic project, or maybe you're just sitting on the couch eating popcorn, I don't know.

Let me tell you what the mother who lost her son said to us yesterday: You are worth something.

Go after things. Don't waste this life. But try not to let a number determine your happiness. Enjoy the beautiful views you have, without lamenting the ones you don't get to see.

Much love,
Bailey

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Real talk about high school -- a snapshot of my life as a senior

Saw this on Facebook, thought I'd fill it out and share it on the blog. Why not? 

Looking back....

When I was a senior in high school:

The year was: 2002 - 2003

1. Did you know your spouse? 

Assuming I marry Alex, then no. I did not know him yet. 

2. Did you carpool to school? 

Yes. My younger brother was a smarty pants who was in the 8th grade but attended the high school for his first morning class period to take geometry, I think. So I drove him in the mornings, and then in the afternoon I drove home alone. 

3. What kind of car did you drive? 

First semester, a silver Camry. Second semester, a silver Previa. :) It was the only year of high school that I drove to school. Previous years I took the bus or had my brother drive me.
 
4. What kind of car do you have now? 

Silver Corolla. Brewers are silver Toyota drivers for eva!

5. It's Friday night...where were you? 

Ugh. Doing calculus homework, honestly. Occasionally I forced myself to go to football games...alone. Wow, this little quiz took a depressing turn, didn't it? 

6. What kind of job did you have in high school? 

Didn't have a single job until after I graduated. The only thing I got paid for was occasional babysitting. 

7. What kind of job do you have now? 

My day job is an Admin. Coordinator in the mental health field. 
My vocational job is writing/journalism. 

8. Were you a party animal? 

Ha.

9. Were you a cheerleader? 

Nope. But if I were in high school now, I would totally consider it.

10. Were you considered a jock? 

Nope. 

11. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? 

Band. I participated in good old concert band, pit orchestra, and pep band. Really enjoyed it. 

12. Were you a nerd? 

I don't know that anyone would have called me that, but I definitely enjoyed academics. I moved several times growing up, and while I made friends fairly easily, it was my schoolwork that kind of held me together. I faired well in all subjects, and I found solace and identity in reading, computing, and...you guessed it, writing. 

13. Did you get suspended or expelled? 

Nope. I did get called to the principal's office, however, just before the end of the school year. I thought, "What the...?" and then when I got in there he told me I was going to be honored at graduation for my grades. (See #12).

14. Can you sing the fight song? 

Definitely not. But I do know that at one point you sing "Raise our banners to the fore" and wave your hand in the air, like you're holding a flag. 

15. Who was/were your favorite high school teacher(s)? 

Mr. Ringer!!! (Though he wasn't my teacher as a senior). 
 
As a senior, I really enjoyed Mrs. Gagnebin, Mrs. Forbes, and Mr. Sanderson. I could really feel that they appreciated my earnestness as a student, and they brought levity to my life.
 
Also, their names escape me, but my guitar teacher, gym teacher, and sewing teacher made me feel at ease. 

Teachers = Great. 

16. Where did you sit for lunch? 

At a table with several sophomores. I didn't have a lot of friends. On the first day of school, I sat with the one person I really knew (and I didn't know her well) who was in my lunch period. I will always be grateful to her for letting me sit with her. Both that year and then later in life, she cut my hair and gave me some updo's. This one, that she did for Corie's wedding, is to this day my favorite fancy hairstyle I've ever had: 

17. What was your school's name? 

Shawnee Mission Northwest

18. What was your school mascot? 

Cougar

19. If you could go back and do it again, would you?

I mean, this is really heavy question for an overthinker like me. I wouldn't, because that would be going against how God set up my life, and time isn't supposed to go backward. 

However, I often fantasize about going back to high school and just RUNNING that place. 

Oh my goodness, I would be so much more confident. Actually, I was confident then, I just felt like I had to keep my self esteem shrouded. 

I would do sports, I would run for student council, I would sing in choir. I would be so babbly and friendly. I would volunteer and organize car washes and yes. Just yes. It would be great. 

But the point is I love my life now. So I'm good. I've been taken care of every step of the way, even when things have been hard. 

20. Did you have fun at Prom? 

Sort of. I had the best prom date, though. He was my biggest crush in all my high school years, and was sooo cute. He went to the dance with me after another guy turned me down, and he FLEW ON AN AIRPLANE to come be my date.

We double dated with my good friend Katie and her date, Taylor, who's super nice. So I had a great crew to roll with. (And I loved my dress.) 

21. Do you still talk to the person you went to Prom with? 

We're Facebook friends. I haven't actually seen him in almost 10 years, and probably haven't communicated with him directly in all that time, too. 

22. Are you going to your next reunion? 

Probably not the very next one, but I'd love to attend the 20 year reunion. 

23. Are you still in contact with people from school? 

Yep. Mostly just via Facebook. But I was in my friend Corie's wedding and she's still one of my besties!

24. What are/were your school's colors? 

Black and orange. 

Weight loss diary -- mac and cheese cravings and treadmill boredom (but I'm fighting the good fight!)

The gym wasn't a rip-roaring FUN FEST last night.

But I was there.

I participated at the gym.

I told myself, "All you have to do is 20 minutes, walking, on the treadmill."

I honestly thought, at the time, I would end up doing more.

Nope.

Well, I did jog 0.25 miles, during the 20 minutes I was on the treadmill.

But that's it.

When the treadmill switched to "cool down" mode, I was like, "Nope."

Didn't have "time" for five minutes of slowly walking slower, slower, slow.

Byesies, Gym. See ya mañana (maybe).

Here's the thing, Friends.

I'm a little cranky.

I'm really busy, and I've just got stuff to do. My mind, and my hands, my busy bee working hands, are in a million places each day.

So, as for yesterday, and today, too, it seems, I have some time for the gym, but not a lot. Even if I don't really have anything that needs to get done, I'm going to pay my mental health the respect it deserves and give myself some extra, leisure Bailey Time if Bailey needs it.

Because the world ain't ready for Cranky Bails.

Trust me, you're not.

When I started out on this weight loss journey, I made just four overarching health goals:

As best I can, most days, do the following:

1. Wear sunscreen (every day) (nothing to do with weight loss, but I should absolutely be doing this)
2. Do 20 minutes of continual activity (swim, bike, jog, walk, do yoga)
3. Avoid/Limit alcohol
4. Eat a salad

So, yes. While some days I'm basically Rosie the Riveter Herself at the gym, other days, I'm just going to do 20 minutes on the treadmill.

AND THAT'S FINE, PEOPLE.

[Actually, I'm convincing myself that this is fine more than I'm convincing you. Which is how it is with all of us when we are struggling with something about our identity. Everyone else is OK with how we are, how we come pre-packaged, before we ourselves are. Fact of Life #684867.]

Anyway, where was I?

OK. So the gym last night.

#1, I was bored.

And agitated, as we've covered. I think that was most of it. I was like, "I want to be here, but I also don't." I wanted to really want to be there, meaning I wanted to be in that energetic mindset where I was ready for 40 minutes on the treadmill followed by pumping some iron in the weights section.

But not every day is an iron pumping day.

AND THAT'S FINE.

[Again, convincing myself, not you. Please don't be offended by the Caps Lock.]

#2, I had to backtrack.

And,

(you guessed it),

THAT'S FINE.

You'll notice I only jogged a quarter mile yesterday.

Say, Bails, weren't you at like, a mile and some recently?

Why yes, yes I was.

But I got these dizzy spells and was bedridden for a bit, and well, I just needed to start over.

I put on my blinders last night, doing my best to ignore the two cute blondes to my left, one with her treadmill set on MEGA INCLINE, the other one trotting away at a full, running clip.

You are you, Bails. Do you.

I did me. I did my quarter mile jogging, mile walking.

And then I hopped off the treadmill and went home and drank a Mic Ultra.

And it was sooooooooo yummy.

I didn't feel guilty, and in fact I was going to allow myself another, but ya know what?

I realized I was full.

And ready for bed.

So I shimmied under those covers, read for a bit, and switched off the light.

Zzzzzzzz......weird dreams........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Today I had Thai for lunch, and it was yummy. Pumpkin curry. I substituted white rice for brown.

I didn't finish it all.

It was delish, but also very rich, and my bod is no longer used to large portions of rich food. Progress.

Also I saw a picture of a kid eating mac and cheese on the Internet and really wanted some.

Currently I'm chewing sugar free gum, but I want actual calories.

I've been agitated today, and my girl Courtney suggested an iced coffee. I'm thinking I might take her route.

Anyway. I've yammered on long enough, and anyway I have a coffee to catch. Pokémon Go? Please. Coffee Go.

Thanks to all the people who let me email, call, text, and talk on and on about my goals and struggles, blah blah blah.

xoxo

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Weight loss diary -- conducting

Well I did it.
 
After yesterday's sob story, I went to the pool and did a workout.
 
I put on my star-spangled bikini and I got into the cold (for about 30 seconds until your body adjusts and it's really not bad) water.
 
"I hate it I hate it I hate it," I said to the palm trees, knowing that they would be on my side. They like the sun and aren't used to being plunged in cold water, except when the wind breaks free a frond that falls to the pool below, soon to be fished out by a human eager to swim.
 
I swam like a frog, back and forth across the length of the pool, avoiding the chilly stream of water that was topping off the giant vat I was swimming in.
 
I did a liiiiiittle bit of freestroke, but that wears a person out, and I don't have goggles so I couldn't really do it properly anyway.
 
I jogged in the shallow end.
 
And I treaded water.
 
I don't know why, but I have for a long time loved to tread water. I guess it's kind of like running, repetitive motion to the point of one's mind forgetting quite what it's doing.
 
***
 
I got 10 steps out of my apartment when I realized I would need my phone at the pool, so that I could time my workout (I aim for 20 minutes of activity).
 
I turned back, took two steps toward the door.
 
I turned once again, telling myself I didn't need a number tied to my exercise to make me valuable. How often I get lost in this kind of thinking -- I need to run X number of miles, get my heart rate to Y beats per minute, stay on the treadmill for Z minutes, in order for my efforts to "count," to be worth something.
 
I don't want to be a slave to the stopwatch. I will still use it, as a tool, but I want to do my best to keep it as a tool only. Not a judgmental drill sergeant.
 
I got bored in the pool, and hungry.
 
I tried to mix things up by swimming quietly. Keeping my hands and feet away from the water's surface so that I would not splash.
 
Instead of grabbing the edge of the pool with my hand when I finished a lap, I used my feet only to touch the wall and kick off for a return lap.
 
I did my best to guestimate in my head if I had hit 20 minutes of cardio.
 
***
 
As I hovered in the deep end, treading, treading, treading, I thought of how my body's been hovering at the same number of pounds for weeks now.
 
There I go again, counting my life away.
 
I listened to the pool filter's flapping plastic tongue, lapping up sloppy gulps of chemically water.
 
I watched the waves around me, hitting the pool wall then moving back inward, colliding with waves heading to the wall themselves. Big, wet chest bumps.
 
I exhaled from my mouth, making a breathy noise as I did. I aimed my air at the water, trying to create ripples.
 
As I thought of dinner, I thought, "Three more minutes," and turned my gaze upward, to the palms.
 
I've lived in Los Angeles long enough that I take palm trees for granted, but these particular two by the pool are endearing to me. They are not too squatty, not too tall. They cast an impressive canopy for the unassuming size of their fronds. The leaves fade from lime to lemon. They tickle each other's edges, sounding like tiny crumples of paper making light music.
 
When I got out of the pool, I didn't feel stronger, or skinnier.
 
But I felt changed.
 
My skin radiated warmth, and itched from the chlorine.
 
I shed my towel and built a salad of lentils and Granny Smith apple, still clad in my bikini. Parading my X number of pounds around the quiet kitchen, enjoying the quiet of my body. My edges softly humming, slowly shedding the motion of the water, moving into stillness for the first time all day.
 
I poured 2 percent milk, because I didn't have skim at home. I reminded myself I am of worth, even if I didn't put "pure," fat free liquid inside of me.
 
I traveled in time as it covered my tongue. Standing in my California bedroom, I was back at the octagonal table of my youth. In our Kansas kitchen, six heads, six glasses, twelve feet tucked underneath.

***

My swim last night wasn't life-shifting, but it was something.

It was motion. It was quiet. It was effort put forward when I wanted to instead remain inside, unmoving. It wasn't pushy, like pounding feet on a treadmill, the hard clank of weights slamming down. The resistance of the water made everything less intense.

As I looked up from the deep end to my friends, the Palms, I forgot the day's stress. My overwhelming list of to-do's was erased, difficult in fact to bring to the forefront of my memory.

I listened to the filter, to the palms, to the tiny, tiny sound of the water creating haphazard, rounded waves; peaks and valleys all throughout the giant tub.

And underneath the surface, I conducted the music I heard. Arms turning in wayward circles, in and out, legs paddling at random.
 
Losing weight is not easy. Loving a body that has met its fourth decade and has said goodbye to its metabolism is a struggle.

Meanwhile I try to smile, genuinely, when I look in the mirror.

To count my blessings and urge my stress to melt off of me.

To get in the water and conduct. Conduct motion. Conduct calm. Conduct health, contentment, and peace. The kind of peace that makes me prance around the kitchen in my bikini, in the soft dusk of a summer night.