Mom was right.

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It’s about 10:00 am, and while I’ve been out of bed since about 5:30 am, I am not yet dressed, and that’s my breakfast in the Ninja cup on the table.  So what exactly have I been doing for the last four and a half hours of my life?

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I didn’t take this sweaty selfie this morning because I didn’t know I was going to writing about this, but it’s accurate anyway.  Each morning it takes me about 30 to 45 minutes to wake up.  During this time it is best if no one asks me any questions or expects me not to walk into any walls or furniture.  I don’t drink coffee, and I have to wake up on my own.  It means brushing my teeth, putting on my workout clothes, drinking some water, making my bed and perusing social media for a few minutes.  This morning I also threw in a load of towels and put some clothes for handwashing to soak in the sink.

Then I work out for a little over an hour.  During part of my workout, I listen to talks from the recent LDS General Conference.  I like the idea of strengthening both my body and spirit at the same time.

Then I clean.  Years ago I followed FlyLady.net, and I learned a lot about cleaning and organizing from it.  Over the years I have modified what I learned from it to fit my own needs, and basically it comes down to dividing the house into sections and working on a section each day.  (I actually only do this Monday- Friday.)  Our house is generally not messy, so that’s never really been an issue, although we do have a problem with piles that I have to work on.  The biggest problem our house has is the details, but I find that if I commit a couple of hours each week to each section of the house, so many of those details get taken care of.  This morning it was the kitchen.  Appliances, backsplash and cabinets are all on the list, but don’t all get attention every week.  Oiling and rotating my coveted cutting board as well as cleaning the floors really well are a weekly task.

Then I make my breakfast, hit the shower, get fully dressed (my stint with Mary Kay years ago also taught me a thing or two), and hit emails, bills, and other to-do list items.  Which reminds me I need to do something.  I’ll be right back.

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I don’t especially like working out or cleaning, so I do it every day, first thing in the morning.  I really hate cleaning the shower, so I keep a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in the shower and literally clean the shower every day while I am in there.

I’ve heard people say that you should begin your day doing things that get your creative juices flowing so that you feel energized and ready to face the day.  For me that is, as my Nanny would say, bunk.

In the past I have started my day by going straight to the studio, or by sitting down to write, or by cozying up with my latest yarn project while binge watching Netflix, all the while thinking, “Oh, I can wipe down the kitchen when I make dinner tonight.”

What.Ever.

I’ve learned the hard way that not only do I not wipe down the kitchen while I am making dinner, but I also like to snack a lot while I am “being creative,” and oh, I actually am remarkably less productive creatively while I have in the back of my mind the list of things I should actually be taking care of for the day.

When I choose creativity over responsibility, everyone loses.  It’s just the facts.  My family loses out on my undivided attention.  My body loses out on the attention it needs to function properly.  My spirit loses out on the joy of accomplishment.  My clients lose out because I am not efficient or dependable.  Even my projects lose out because I bring so much garbage to the table by not cleaning it up beforehand.

It may seem like I end up with a late start to the studio, because reality is that I rarely get there before noon anymore, but it is also very real that I am much more productive once I hit the studio doors than I ever was before.  I get the same amount of work done in an afternoon that I used to get done in a day, and it all goes back to putting everything in it’s proper place, both in space and in time.

I’d have to say that it really is true that it’s best for me to get my chores done first thing, even if it means I have to admit my mother was right.

Balance is the goal. The goal is balance.

I recently posted about some of the physical changes I have been making in my life, and I’ve been asked specifics on what program I am using and the like.  So I thought I would just share a little bit about what I have been doing and how it has helped me.

The biggest problem I have is that I have never really exercised in any meaningful way.  This means that I have terrible balance and coordination, not to mention a complete lack of strength.  That made the gym and any group exercise completely out of the question as I had no intention of falling down in front of people, or allowing anyone to see me stand there awkwardly while I tried to process how exactly the instructor was moving in three different directions at once.

I expressed my concerns in a group of friends that happened to include Becky Collins, a fellow quilter who has often supported fellow quilters in  their quest for fitness.  She started the #sweatnsew group on Instagram, and you can learn more about it by clicking here.  She listened to my concerns and recommended that I talk with Brandy Martin, a Beachbody coach.

I chatted with Brandy and we determined what would be a good program for me to start with.  I committed to Beachbody on Demand so that I could stream the workouts from my devices.  I started the 21 Day Fix program which includes a series of daily 30 minute workouts and a nutritional plan.  The nutritional plan teaches about portion control and balance, and includes a protein shake made by Beachbody called Shakeology.  There are a lot of Beachbody peeps out there, so this probably isn’t news to you, but it was totally news to me.

The 21DF workouts are low impact, have lots of breaks, and walk through each move in such a way that it’s not hard to follow what the instructor is saying to do.  The first few weeks I pretty much cried every time I tried to stand from a seated position.  I dreaded going to the bathroom.  I got through the workouts with modifications, and my body was screaming.  I did the same workouts week after week for months.  The workouts are still tough, and still make me sore, but now it’s because I have learned how to make my body push a little harder when the moves get too easy.  And I really like being sore.  It means I worked hard, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Nutrition wasn’t a whole new world for me.  I love food.  All food.  Good food.  Bad food.  All food.  I wasn’t a stranger to things like kale and quinoa.  I like hummus and beans and avocados.  I also like chili dogs from the Varsity and a double patty melt from Freddy’s.  And let’s not get started on the donuts.

My real problem when it came to nutrition was portion control and knowing more about what I was eating.  Understanding that food is fuel.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love me some food.  And I still eat donuts and chocolate and a serving of fried zucchini at Brad’s Food Hut, but just not as often or as much.  I might order a sandwich, but skip the soda and the fries.

So what do I eat on a typical day?  I decided to document one day’s worth of food and be totally honest about everything I ate in that day.  So here goes…

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After my workout I make my Shakeology shake.  Currently I have been doing a recipe of Vegan Vanilla Shakeology, water, frozen banana, pureed pumpkin, frozen kale, PBFit, and pumpkin pie spice.  Years ago I used to puree my own pumpkin, but it is so much work to do and I find that the canned pumpkin is just as good.

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I have apples and peanut butter almost every day, but especially this time of year when there are so many varieties of apple available.  I have found that Smucker’s Natural peanut butter is my favorite commercial peanut butter.  There are a lot of natural peanut butters out there that are still loaded with sugar.  This one is just peanuts and salt.  I also like that the jar is glass and reusable with a full screw-on lid.  I can also get freshly ground natural peanut butter at Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market, but for some reason I just stick to this instead.  I think it’s because I like the jars.

Looking at this now makes me think that either this was too small of a serving, or this photo is deceiving.  I usually eat a bit more than what it looks like in this pic for a midday meal.  On this day I had a Mexican chicken with quinoa, brown rice, collard greens and cheese.  The Mexican chicken is just chicken breast, a can of Rotel tomatoes, taco seasoning and black beans prepared in the crockpot.  (I think it’s a variation on a recipe that usually also has cream cheese in it.  I just leave that part off.)  It is something that I make for dinner and have plenty of leftovers for a couple of lunches.

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Now a lot of people will look at this puny piece of chocolate and just laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.  I get it.  But eating one small piece of chocolate is actually not a trigger for me.  It usually just quiets the craving for something sweet, and I can move on.  However, put a warm, soft piece of white bread in front of me and it’s game over, my friend.  There is no such thing as just one dinner roll in my world.  I’m learning a lot about what my triggers are.

 

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Dinner on this night was a huge plate of salad topped with salmon and kalamata olives.  I used lime and salt and pepper to season it, and had cottage cheese and berries on the side.  The salmon was leftover from another meal, and it was perfect served cold.  As a note, I know I still use way too much salt for some people.  All I can say is that I use less now than I used to, and my focus is not on salt right now.  It may be later down the road, but it isn’t right now.

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I know, I know.  Twice in one day.  But I said I was going to be honest, so here’s to honesty!  I was up late that night as my husband was out of town and I was having a bit of a sewing party.  Could I have made a better choice?  Of course.  But I don’t feel the least bit bad about the choice I did make.

For me the key has been just to think a little more before I eat.  Even before I begin my day.  Or my week.  What do I need to buy at the grocery so that I have better choices on hand?  What do I need to take with me in my travels today so that I am not stuck with only less than desirable choices?  And how do I maintain balance?  It is totally okay to have a donut.  It is totally okay to eat a piece of chocolate.  It is also totally okay to choose to fuel my body with protein and fruits and vegetables.  And to give my body a chance to prove that it can do hard things by working out regularly.  Do I workout every day?  Nope.  But most days.  The goal is 6 days a week, but I am cool with 5.  Not less than 30 minutes, and not more than an hour.  And if I miss some while traveling that’s okay too, because I will go home and get going again.

Balance is the goal.  The goal is balance.

Getting it together

This past January I weighed more than I ever did 9 months prego and on the verge of delivery. I was not by any stretch what most people think of as extremely overweight, but I still could not move. I dreaded putting away dishes because if I knelt down, I had to use the countertop to pull myself back up again. And stairs. Don’t get me started about the stairs.  I didn’t like driving my fun little car anymore because it was so hard to get in and out of it.  Then I had a customer pull me out into the hallway during an event in The Green Apricot studio to tell me that I really needed to get it together.  That I should enjoy the holidays and my upcoming trip to Puerto Rico, but that when I got back I needed to do better.  All these quilters just sit behind their machines and get fat.  I was, obviously, totally offended.

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Then I saw this pic that my husband took of me on our trip, and I finally had a discussion with myself.  The conclusion was I am not getting younger, and it isn’t going to get easier. so get started. So I did.

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The irony of looking like this for most of my life was that I ate everything in sight and never did anything athletic or that even remotely looked like exercise.  Like never.  Ever.  When this photo was taken, I was about 37 years old.  I had brought 4 humans into this world who at the time were about 11, 13, 15 and 16 years old.  I had been divorced and remarried, and honestly had been through a lot.  But I was not prepared for what was to come in the next couple of years.

The difference between those two pictures is about 7 years, My Great Depression, and 50 pounds.  When I was 39, I went through some tough times.  I gained 30 pounds in about 3 months.  I then struggled through a deep depression that would last for about 2 years, and still lingers from time to time.  After the initial gain, I just kept adding on, a little more each year.  I went from being able to carry my weight around with little effort, and even less thought, to not being able to get off of the couch without my hips hurting.  I couldn’t get up a single flight of stairs without being winded.  But seriously, you don’t want to hear the stair rant.

Now, to be clear, I don’t really care to be as small as I used to be.  I am a grown woman, and I am totally cool with what that means.  In fact, I would be just fine with what the scales read last January if I also could move around with ease.  Now, again to be clear, I do have issues with vanity just like everyone else, and there is a part of me that would like to be size such-and-such again, or at least close to it, but almost as soon as I have those thoughts, I am reminded that it really is irrelevant.

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The difference between the picture at the beach and the bathroom selfie is about 10 months, about 200 workouts, a very different outlook on food, very little neck and joint pain, and 25 pounds.  I took this picture yesterday so that I could thank my friend for sending me this cute LulaRoe top.  We kinda have a joke running because almost every item of clothing I buy from her I say, “A jean jacket would be cute with that!”  So, I posted it on social media, really only thinking about the shirt, but when a couple of my friends made some kind comments, it got me to thinking.  I started looking over pics from this past year, and it has made me really grateful.

I like the woman in the pic with the orange bandana.  I also like the woman in the pic on the beach.  But I don’t really want to be either of them again.  The bathroom selfie is who I am today, and I like her too.  She’s been through a lot.  She’s made a lot of mistakes.  A lot.  She’s cried a lot.  She’s laughed a lot.  She still has trouble letting go of some of her baggage, but she’s learning to move on.  She’s learning about who she is, and who she isn’t.  She’s taking time to sort things out.  Slow down a bit.  Find balance.  Then pick up and run the race when the race is on, but slow down for the training.

There will be more pics.  And when there are, I want to be glad that I am no longer the woman in this bathroom selfie.  It’s all about progress.  It’s always about progress.