A Huge Change; Getting Sober

8 days ago, I woke up around 3AM like I often do, and popped some ibuprofen for the throbbing headache I had.  I chugged a glass of water and then tossed and turned for about an hour until I started feeling better and fell back asleep until my alarm went off at 6:00.  I hit snooze quite a few times and finally dragged myself out of bed, threw on an outfit from my pile of laundry that was not wrinkled, tossed my hair in a bun and dashed out the door so I could get to work just barely on time. 

That is a common morning/night for me on a physical level, which is bad enough, but what’s worse is the commonality of what is going on inside my head.  That time during which I am awake and hungover I am usually berating myself heavily.  I hate myself for drinking again.  I feel a sense of shame so strong I am convinced I am the worst person on the planet.  I’m pathetic.  I convince myself that is the LAST time and I am going to give drinking a break.  And then I go about my day as usual and by the time I am done work and am home and ready to unwind, I have justified to myself that one more night is fine.

I mentioned this happened 8 days ago because that was in fact the last time I drank.  It was finally enough.  I cried that morning (a Wednesday) on my drive to work knowing that I had hit a breaking point and I couldn’t continue the same path.  When I got to work I texted my roommates who are also my two best friends and told them I was giving up drinking indefinitely.  I had hinted to them before this might be an area of my life I am unhappy with but I really let them know that I was at my point break.  Obviously I had their support, but just putting this weight I had been carrying out in the open was a crucial first step.  So far, the turmoil I had felt was entirely in my head.  

That afternoon I spent some time Googling information.  This is the reason I am writing this post.  I had no idea where to turn or to begin.  I have known one or two people that have been to AA, but it just didn’t sound right for me.  So my question was, were there other groups like that?  Were there books?  Blogs?  I realized there is a shockingly small amount of resources available to people just looking too figure it out.  I didn’t get a DUI or a public intoxication ticket, or do something to hurt my career, and for the most part I have incredibly healthy friendships.  I just wanted to figure out how to drink less, not check myself into rehab.  For me, it’s a big enough problem to take action, but not enough to make me turn my life upside down. 

I started with books.  There are so many that I really didn’t know how to choose one.  I finally honed in on one particular book that focused on the science behind addiction and the psychology of alcohol in society.  I am about halfway through reading it so I won’t mention it yet, but let me just say that so far, it may be the best thing I have ever discovered.  Since I have no comparison, maybe there are plenty of books that are as helpful as this one, or maybe fate stepped in and I found THE book, the one that would help me the most, first.  I’ll be sure to update on that in a near future post.

The reason I was moved to write this post was because in the first part of the book, the writer tells a similar story to mine.  I had NO idea that anyone else in the world actually felt the same things I had been feeling.  That sounds silly to say, that I felt as if I really was the only person in the world with this set of thoughts and feelings and experiences.  And that, my friends is why I think this is a topic that really needs to be talked about more.  If there was more conversation about drinking, particularly amongst young people (who are experiencing tons of changes, and just trying to figure out life let alone acceptable drinking habits), someone else may not have to reach such a low point before deciding to make a change.

So far, I feel awesome.  I haven’t gone 8 days without a sip of alcohol in quite sometime, and definitely not 8 days with little to no intention of continuing again.  I want to keep writing about this, and I hope someone reads it and can relate.  If not, it’s still part of my healthy journey and will definitely contribute to the fitness I am trying to achieve!

Bikram Yoga

I recently signed up for a month of unlimited Bikram at a local studio.  I have done this style of yoga here and there for about 5 years now so I am no stranger to it but I only go a few times a year or in little spurts when I’m particularly motivated.  5 years ago, I was 23, still holding on to a decent amount of athleticism from high school and college, and going to class felt wonderful.  I have never been a flexible person so I was not a rockstar at any of the moves, but the heat really did loosen up my joints and muscles, and I would leave feeling like I had gotten a deep stretch in every part of my body.  I didn’t consider it a work out per say, but more like a necessary piece of an active lifestyle, activating deep tissues and flexing areas that get ignored in most other workouts.

My experience last weekend was unfortunately very different!  I had to modify just about every pose because my body is stiff and my weight would get in the way of the really bendy poses.  The instructor was helpful and kind, but I couldn’t help but get frustrated.  He at one point showed me a modification and said “Do this for today.  This is the beginning of the beginning.  It’s a great story actually.”.  I don’t think I’ll soon forget his words because while they were totally meant to be encouraging, I am not used to being a beginner.  I fought back tears that first class as I realized how far I have to go.

The silver lining of attending class that day, was an opportunity to assess myself.  I have started really avoiding going to the gym or challenging myself athletically because in the back of my mind, I knew this was my current level, but I didn’t want to admit it.  Being forced to see myself in action for 90 minutes was rough and reinvigorated my desire to get healthy.  The key takeaway was that this isn’t just for an image anymore, but for real long-term health.  If I were to go down this road any longer, who knows how much weight I could gain and what health problems I could develop.  Ignoring my health now might seem to not be an issue, but honestly if I can’t take care of myself at 28, what will I be like at 58?

I am ready to build a foundation of health.  It’s not just a choice or an option anymore, it’s a necessity.

Over-Analyzing Is Driving Me Crazy!

I journal a lot, and obviously the topic of just about every day’s journal entry is losing weight.

Journaling is fantastic because as you write, thoughts just flow, and sometimes they lead you to realizations you weren’t expecting.  On the other hand, if you are like me, you can go too far, and spend every day trying to analyze a situation.  Lately, my journal entries have been dedicated to trying to understand why the process of losing weight is so hard.  I come up with all of these theories and explanations to justify why this process is difficult for me specifically.   

Today while I was writing, I got to a point where I stopped and thought, I am being ridiculous!  I could literally write myself in circles with excuses while nothing is actually getting done.  Some things in life are actually just really difficult, and while there may be underlying factors to why my difficulties are different than someone else’s, the solution is the same.  Accept that this journey is not always going to be easy or fun!  So I wrote myself a note that I am going to refer to when I need a reality check:

That just do it mentality I’ve been applying to working out, I can also apply to my thought process around this journey.  Sometimes there is no explanation needed, and ya just gotta do it!

Just Do It

I was sitting at work today around 4:00PM when I started talking myself out of going to the yoga class I had signed up for.  I had so many excuses ready to go; I’m tired from traveling this week, I should get some extra stuff done around the house, maybe I can just go tomorrow, and so on.  Working out is not a habit for me currently, and I wish getting myself to the gym or a class just felt like second nature.

I am 2 months away from the wedding that initiated my desire to get in shape.  Let me just say, it crept up FAST.  I had such great intentions 3-4 months out, but just kept pushing off my plan.  Now I find myself in crunch time, and I am having to motivate myself with desperation rather than positivity.  Not only am I dreading going to the gym, I’m pissed at myself that I waited so long to get started.

The only thing currently getting me to the gym these days is a “JUST DO IT” mentality.  I scheduled out exactly which classes fit into my schedule for the month, and when I don’t want to go, I suck it up and get in my car and just go before I can think about it too much.  This past weekend was a perfect example – I planned to go to the 3:30PM class, but seeing they also had an 11:00AM, I got dressed and out the door before I could procrastinate.  Then had the rest of the day to myself without a workout looming over my head.

I wish that there was a way to bottle up the feeling you get after a workout.  Feeling like you have exerted yourself to the max, spent your energy, and done something good for your body makes it all worthwhile.  It is too easy to forget that in my opinion when lazier options can be so much more enticing.

It takes 21 days to form a habit, so until working out becomes a habit for me, I will have to embrace the ‘just do it’ mentality to avoid pushing my goal off any further.

I’ve Been Stress Eating Without Realizing It

Time to get real for a minute!

I started this blog/journey about 3 weeks ago, and I had a vision in my head that the pounds would just start falling off right away, and I would have lots of positive things to post about.  That has not been the case, although I have lost a couple of pounds, I am nowhere close to where I would like to be.

One of my favorite things to do when I am feeling stuck is to journal.  It amazes me how I can see things in a new light, or resolve a problem I am having, or just get to the bottom of my feelings.  Letting words flow onto the paper is like talking to someone I really trust, where I can let everything come out truthfully without a filter.  So with the frustration I was feeling about the start of this journey, I took pen to paper.

I never realized it before, but I think I use food as a stress reliever.  So much of our time is spent “adulting” or just trying to navigate life’s challenges.  We work hard for 40 (hah, more like 50) hours a week, we pay our bills on time, we upkeep our houses, take care of family members, and the list goes on and on.  It makes sense that enjoying a nice meal helps relieve some of that tension that gets built up.  For me, food is a way of letting go – no one is controlling what I eat and I am not compelled by anything in that moment except the enjoyment of the food I am eating.

So now, faced with the challenge of limiting my food intake, I am starting to see where I get caught up.  If I have a particularly stressful day or week, all I want to do is go home and hop into a pair of sweats, and dig into some comfort food.  Not being able to do this means I have to find other ways to relieve stress before I will be able to really get past the temptation to eat away my day.  I haven’t found an exact solution just yet but I think realizing this was a huge step!

I can’t recommend journaling enough, especially if you are facing a problem and just don’t know where to start.  I am sure I will face many more challenges along the way and I am glad I have that tool at my disposal to really put those challenges in perspective and to understand them better.  For now, I am glad to have crossed one small hurdle that will help change my lifestyle, and not just serve as a quick fix to lose a couple pounds.

A Good Hair Day =  A Good Diet Day

Ok so not to brag, but the other day I was having a REALLY good hair day.  I rarely do my hair, which is long and straight, and I am content just throwing it into a messy bun for work.  I much prefer the few extra minutes of sleep I can get over dedicating time to my hair when I am not really trying to impress anyone.  Our office has a super casual environment and messy buns are “in” anyway so who cares?

Well, on Thursday, I had an event that night which I needed to be ready for when I left the house in the morning.  So I got dressed into a cute blouse and jeans, and styled and teased my hair and held it back with a cute new headband I got from the Lauren Conrad collection at Kohl’s.  Kohl’s has the BEST cheap jewelery by the way.  As I walked around the office, I noticed a little spring in my step.  I was parading around with an air of confidence I hadn’t felt in a long time.  Instead of hoping that no one would notice me and my weight, as I usually do, I wanted people to see me.

One of the hardest things I find about dieting is the balancing act between motivation to change, and still loving and embracing who you are currently.  In reality, I know I should be viewing this journey as a lifestyle change to be healthier, and not a diet just to get skinny and look good on the outside, but I admit that some days are just harder than others to remember that.  My goal is to lose a lot of weight and I would be completely lying if I said a huge portion of my motivation wasn’t to be happier with the way I look.  There are plenty of days when I hate how I look and the viscous cycle of staying motivated while I’m down on myself can be hard to beat.

That is why I wanted to talk about my fab hair day.  I felt really good about myself and in turn, was in a great mood, and wanted to keep that vibe going.  The conversation happening in my head was like, “Wow, I feel great about myself today.  How can I continue to feel great about myself?  I should eat a healthy lunch, so I can feel great again tomorrow!”.  Putting in the effort on my appearance gave me a confidence boost and helped me remember that I am awesome and beautiful NOW, and it’s not just some thing in the future I have to look forward to.  And because I was cognicent of that fact, I was definitely more motivated to make good choices because that future me seemed more realistic.  I find it hard to imagine being 80 pounds lighter when I am in oversized sweats and a messy pony tail, and contributing to my own poor self-esteem.

I know that beauty is internal, and my diet will never succeed if I am only focused on external factors.  But I have to say, I will definitely be waking up earlier to style my hair in the mornings from now on 😉   

Pre-Cut Vegetables: Can I Get an AMEN

I have to admit that grocery shopping is not my strong suit.  These are just a few of the problems I have with it.

Number one: I never actually go.  The idea of going to a grocery store on a Sunday with a million other people and trying to navigate parking lot congestion and face traffic jams in the actual aisles of the store… nah thanks fam.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when people aren’t paying attention to what is around them; ie: stopping in the middle of an aisle with no warning, leaving a cart in an extremely inconvenient place and not noticing everyone trying to get by, etc.

Problem number two, I find, is buying the correct amount of food.  I either get so much stuff that it goes bad before I can eat it, or I only buy enough for like 2 days and then wonder what I spent all my money on.  There is no in between.

And lastly, I don’t really enjoy cooking all the time.  I do get random sparks of inspiration to try out a recipe and I like the feeling of cooking something new.  I tried Blue Apron for this exact purpose about a year ago and cooking those meals made me feel like Giada De Laurentiis and the results were amazing.  I actually said to myself “wait, did I really make this?” several times.  But on a usual day by the time I get home, I would rather eat chips for dinner because I’m too lazy and tired to cook something up.  Therefore, buying groceries can be frustrating when I have items on hand to make a dish but never end up making it.

I am sure there are ways to cure my grocery store hatred, but I know that I won’t be putting a home-cooked meal on the table every night like mom does anytime soon, so I am learning ways to make due.  This past weekend as I was shopping for some specific items I needed, I saw something in the produce section, like a ray of light shining through a break in the clouds.  There was an entire wall of precut produce ranging from bell pepper strips to stir-fry mixes to spiralized zucchini, all in ready to go containers.  Some angel in a ShopRite brown vest, had done half the work for me to eat fresh.  That afternoon, I ate peppers dipped in light ranch dressing, and tonight I will be eating that spiralized zucchini with a bit of tomato sauce for a healthy spin on spaghetti.  I can say with certainty, neither of those things would have happened without the help of ready to go foods.

After that diatribe, my conclusion is this; find you a grocery store that helps you take the easy way out but still stay on track! 😉

The Stick over the Carrot

This morning, following my usual routine, I watched a five-minute motivational video from the daily video series called DarrenDaily.  Darren Hardy is a performance coach and motivational speaker and every day provides little nuggets of wisdom to lead you towards achieving your goals.  You can sign up for the videos to be sent to your inbox for free and I HIGHLY recommend them as they are quick, informational, and not cheesy like other self-help guides can be!  Although you will wonder how he has so much energy and probably be envious of his beautiful California backyard.

I digress.  The video this morning spoke of what actually motivates us.  Is it the stick or the carrot?  Are we more motivated by fear of a punishment, or by a positive reward?  It turns out that the fear of a consequence or a punishment is a much stronger motivator.  While rewarding ourselves for a job well done is super important, having a consequence in place for not meeting a goal might be worth a try.

After taking in this information, I thought to myself… what would REALLY pain me if I didn’t reach my goal weight?  Darren gives the suggestion of writing a check to an organization you really hate, but that didn’t quite speak to me.  And then it clicked.  SOCIAL MEDIA.

I am a social media whore.  I have a straight obsession with Twitter and tweet multiple times a day.  I have a carefully maintained Instagram, and I make sure to send any funny little things I see throughout the day via Snapchat to my friends.  Facebook is just a standard that we’ve all had for so long that it would be weird to not have one.  But that is precisely what I am going to do.  If I don’t meet the milestones I have set for my weight, I will be deleting any and all social media until I get back on track.

I feel like this is the perfect punishment for not reaching my goal.  Every time I want to eat an unhealthy meal, or anytime I don’t feel like working out, I am going to think about what it will feel like to be cut off from the social internet world.  Not only will it keep me on track as I go, I know that if I were to have to put this consequence into action, I would be at the gym all day, every day, to be able to get back online.

My first deadline is March 16th, so if I am not within 5 pounds of the goal weight I have set, I will be offline.  Since this legitimately makes me uncomfortable, I think I will be hitting the gym extra hard tonight!

Day One: My Social Life is an Evil Temptress

Reason number 1 through 1000 of why I have not gotten my butt in shape sooner is because there is always a social activity that stands between me and my arbitrary start date.  Using the thought process; “after the party this weekend I will start my diet!”, I have found myself constantly making excuses to delay the process.

Case in point, day one of my journey.  The situation today?  I got to see an old friend that I see maybe two or three times a year.  We went to dinner and my self control immediately melted away because I don’t get to see her often.  Just this once its ok to indulge a little bit right?  When the waiter came to our table, she ordered a margarita that was on special so I ordered the same thing.  MARGARITAS ARE LIKE THE WORST DIET DRINK YOU CAN HAVE.  I didn’t just indulge I abandoned ship the minute social pressure came into play.  

Ultimately, I ended up ordering a salad and only had the one margarita.  I talked to my friend about my goals for losing weight and she said she never would have ordered the drink in the first place had she known!  We had a really nice talk about when she went through a similar change, and had to buckle down for a few months and say no to invitations and use self control when others around her maybe weren’t so much.  It was really nice to hear the reinforcement that she was successful and knew I would be too.  But more importantly, it was a great realization that friends can be really great support systems when trying to accomplish a lofty goal.  

What I realized tonight is that I have to work WITH my friends.  I love dinners and wine nights and get togethers, but if my support system knows what I want to accomplish, they’ll be more likely to nudge me in the right direction rather than be a negative influence.  Realizing I don’t have to accept every invitation or have a glass of wine just because everyone else is, will definitely be important in the coming months, and hey, my friends may even join in on some healthy choices as well!

My Diet Starts… Tomorrow 

Hey there!  I go by B and I’m here to talk all about my fitness journey that starts… tomorrow!  (Ever heard that one before?)

Well I have definitely used that line before.  If I had lost a pound for every time I claimed my diet was starting on Monday I would be at my goal weight by now.  However for some reason I have not had the motivation to actually get started.  In the meantime, my weight has had no problem continuing to creep up, at times frustratingly, and at times sneakily.  Particularly the past 20 pounds or so have seemed to come out of no where.  Right now, I weigh 240 pounds as a 5’11 person.

That number makes me really sad.  I am not here to talk about trying to love my body as it is, or not worrying about numbers on the scale because I should love myself regardless… because I do.  I am for the most part a really happy person and I love my life.  In fact that’s how I got to this weight – drinking, eating out, indulging, just all around enjoying life.  The reason I can’t/don’t want to love my body as it is, is because I know I can be healthier.  There may be plenty of ladies out there with the same numbers as me that are fit and kick ass.  But I currently don’t. 

I used to be an athlete in high school and college and was always naturally thin.  Then the metabolism gods decided I was being ungrateful and abusing this little gift and they took away any and all metabolism I possessed when I turned 25.  No, seriously, it happened just like that.  Ever since then, I have deteriorated into someone who can’t even run a mile and looks like someone that doesn’t care enough about themselves to keep up their health.

So, why now?  I was blessed with a tangible goal in the form of being invited to be a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding this June.  The minute I thought about shopping for a bridesmaid dress, I FREAKED.  I don’t just want to look good in her wedding pictures, I NEED to.  It’s my duty as a bridesmaid!  I refuse to be the girl that let herself go and have that documented in pictures that will be cherished forever.  See, I may be superficial, but only in the name of my friends and making them look good!

I have armed myself with a plan, with short term goals and a long term one, and the motivation of a model getting ready for a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.  This is going to SUCK.  That is why I am here on WordPress though, to share how this journey goes and celebrate and commiserate with anyone else trying to get fit. 

Solidarity, sisters!