Friday, June 20, 2014

Current State of Affairs

One of the bloggers I've been following the longest is Danielle from Sometimes Sweet.  As a former high school English teacher, she used to have Journal Days and give the students writing prompts.  Now she gives her prompts to the blogging world, and many people link up and answer.  This is the first time I've ever wanted to participate.

The prompt: 

This week, write a "State of Me" address. Write about how you're really doing- what you've been thinking, what you've been up to. What have you accomplished lately? Where is there room for growth? Where are you right now in life and where are you headed? Current joys, currents sadness...write it all out. Discuss the current state of YOU. 

The State of Ashlie is pretty dynamite.  I often use this space to voice fears or share insecurities or just vent in general, but I don't have quite as much practice tipping my head back and celebrating.  I'm putting some hard work into my life right now, and I'm getting back as good as I give.  I think it's the perfect time to recap some of my success and the things I'm looking forward to.  

I laid it all out on the line when I shared about how I wanted and needed to lose weight.  The ashlie gets fit post was met with a lot of love and understanding and support, and a little weirdness (I heard some "Geez, are you okay?!" but most people got the message).  I've been making taking care of myself one of my biggest hobbies, and moving super slowly so that the changes can stick.  I'm keying in to the fact that if I can link it social media in some way, anything I try will be successful.  I use a few different apps and pieces of technology to keep track right now, and I'm loving it.  Things I find indispensable include: a digital scale, my Fitbit, the myfitnesspal app, the MapMyWalk app, and the Couch-to-5K app.  For all the apps, my username is ashlieelizabeth, with the exception of the Fitbit app, where I'm Ashlie E

I'm going to go deeper into how I use my Fitbit in another post, but it's a huge motivator.  It gives me a good sense of when I'm most active (which you would think would be obvious, but I'm usually surprised), and right now I have it linked to myfitnesspal, where I track my food, so I'm getting an accurate reading of calories in versus calories out in a 24-hour period.  That is my most valuable tool at this moment.  Right now I'm burning around 3000 calories a day and eating around 1900- my "goal" is 1540, but I almost always go over, and as long as I'm seeing a healthy calorie deficit, I don't let that worry me.  I am also using the MapMyWalk and Couch-to-5K to keep track of my running.  I actually use both apps when I run because I like encouragement I get from my "real" runner friends on Map, but I use the prompts on Couch-to-5K to train properly.

The proof is in the numbers.  I've been paying close attention to eating and exercise for about a month.  I've lost 10.4 pounds and am able to run up to 30 minutes without stopping to rest or walk.  I've come to this success very slowly, I feel, but I'm also not beating myself up AT ALL, and taking this stance very consciously.  I know that I can drink shakes or restrict calories or cut out food groups and lose weight a lot faster.  There are days I run and days I opt to walk or dance in the kitchen instead.  I've had ice cream every weekend this month.  As soon as I start turning this into means to an end, it will truly be over.  I'll gain all the weight back and be stuck in a cycle I don't like.  I'm really trying to teach myself to have a new kind of life, one that includes rest days and dessert and also mindfulness and vegetables and knowing that I have to work up some sort of sweat every day to keep this body healthy.  There might come a time when I need to use something more strict to get me through a plateau but for now I'm focusing on burning more than I eat and staying happy.

I had a suspicion that something deeper than exercise vs. calories might be holding me back from weight loss, and my primary care doctor suggested that I add therapy to my plan for tackling my weight.  I absolutely tried it- I went for a month, which ended up being three sessions.  I didn't stop because it was bad or painful or weird, but I honestly had such an improved mood from eating right and the endorphin high of exercising that there was less malaise in my life, and I felt like there wasn't much to talk about.  I still often feel overwhelmed and I'm messy and I have deferred goals, but when I'm taking better care of myself, those things are less likely to completely depress me.  I don't want to say, "Oh, I jog a few times a week and suddenly everything is rainbows!" because that's not the case.  I just feel more able to take things in stride lately.

As I take better care of myself, I'm realizing that, for me, self-care is something that needs to be directly taught.  I have to force myself to schedule hair cuts, order contacts, or dress in something other than yoga pants.  In preparation for summer I've reordered my contacts so I can stop wearing my frumpy glasses on sunny days and practiced my headscarf game to add flair to my simple summer outfits.  I've put aside some money that I hope to use to flesh out the tattoo on my left leg- I want to add two foxes that represent the boys.  It might seem silly or frivolous, but these are things that make me feel more in control of my life.  I look like this because I consciously choose this style, I own it, this is me.  That's something I've never really gotten the hang of, but I feel on the cusp of it.  I'm not waiting for my goal weight to look cute again. 

It helps that I'm back into the swing of reading.  I've been careful to not conk out on the couch so I can wash my face and read before bed, and I'm carrying my books to school with me so I can read when my students have their silent reading time.  I even read a few chapters snuggled with the boys the other night while they were enjoying their Friday night movie.  When I read, I feel more in touch with who I actually am.  It sounds silly but it's something I keep going back to as I feel more and more "adult" in the world.  

I'm going to spend my summer reading, meeting friends, getting dressed, and moving it whenever I can.  I'll brew some iced coffee and tie my hair up in a headscarf and force myself not to break out in hives if I get invited to do something last minute.  We'll have campfires and I'll see my family in Florida and buy a pretty dress to wear to summer weddings.  I'm feeling proud and hopeful and confident, totally in love with my little family and ready to spend a little time on myself.  I'm pleased with the current state I'm in, and realizing that things are only going to get better from here.

Play along and tell me the State of YOU!  You can link up at Danielle's post, too.

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