Tag Archives: health

born hungry

I think I was born hungry.

Hungry for a thousand different things.

I have always been a person who lives from a place that is wildly desirous, constantly aware of all these blank and open places inside me, trying to fill them up with all the things I find beautiful. I know this to be a futile pursuit, since the only thing that is everything enough to fill those spaces is the God who made me.

But this…this is the story of the relentless and ugly trying. This is one of the small ways in which I attempt, in a very tangible way, to fill myself up. To curb the ache that comes with being human, with being made for a place not here.

Here’s my ugly truth.

I have a really terrible relationship with food.

I don’t talk about this often. In fact, to my knowledge, I’ve only ever talked about this to my friend Darlena, who I met last year when I hired her as a personal trainer. I think she’s maybe the only person I’ve ever said the word “binge” to in a context that was both in relation to my own personal eating patterns and not-at-all joking.

But that’s my ugly truth. I am a binge eater.

It started young. I hit a growth spurt young, and by the time I hit high school, I was very nearly six feet tall. At that point, I was thin as a rail, despite the fact that I ate three square meals a day and plenty of snacks. I was constantly hungry, like my body couldn’t keep up with the rate at which I was growing and the speed of my metabolism.

I remember coming home from school often and sitting down with a bag of chips in one hand and a box of fudge rounds in the other. That salty-sweet combination is still my kryptonite, by the way. With one real difference. I’m thirty now, not fifteen; I have the metabolism of a grown woman, not a teenager in the middle of a massive growth spurt. So it fuels and affects my body and my weight and my energy in a very different way now.

But habits, you know? Habits are such a real thing, and such a hard thing to break.

And over the years, the motivations behind the habits start to evolve. When I was a kid, it was because I was hungry, and I could have eaten anything in sight. As I grew up, it was because it tasted good. At some point, it started to become a comfort thing. A stress release. Relief from boredom. Numbing from the loneliness that is part of the package deal of being human.

And these past few months, I’ve started to notice, really notice, how truly out of control it is. I’ll take a perfectly healthy lunch to school, and then buy two small bags of chips, a couple candy bars, and a soda and literally eat just that for lunch. Order a family-sized order of cheese-covered breadsticks for lunch, and eat it in a sitting. Curl up with chips and dip and eat until I feel sick. I don’t even think about it. I don’t let myself think about it. It’s impulse and action, impulse and action. I don’t let myself think about it because I am a smart girl, and I know what this is doing to my health. Because I will talk myself out of it, and I don’t want a chance to talk myself out of it.

And I hide it. I’m so good at hiding it that, if it weren’t for the thirty pounds I’ve added to my frame in the past three years, I don’t think anyone would know. I think I’m most disturbed by that, you know? By the great lengths I go to, hiding it from Josh. I toss my healthy lunch in the trash can and take my Pyrex home empty so he doesn’t notice I didn’t eat it. I get cash back from time to time when I buy groceries so I have it lying around to purchase snacks without any record of it in our bank account. I have lied to him on multiple occasions about buying a fast-food lunch for a friend or coworker when I really just bought lunch for me. Not because he would shame me for any of it (although he would be concerned because my emotional and physical health is always his biggest priority), but because I’m ashamed. I’m so damn ashamed of my habits, of how bad it’s gotten.

My mom makes this joke, and has since I was a kid; she laughs about how she doesn’t eat to live, she lives to eat. And I hate that. I hate it because in so many ways, I see it in myself. I see the way my habits run me. I see the direction I want to go, and I see my habits dragging me in the opposite direction, and sometimes I feel absolutely powerless.

My relationship with food feels like the heaviest of chains wrapped around my body, rooting me to where I am. I know how this ends. I have countless examples of how this ends. In people I share DNA and a bloodline with, and in people I share life with. I have watched, and seen firsthand the havoc their eating habits have wreaked on their bodies and minds and hearts and overall personhood. I get so upset with myself because I know where I am going if I don’t change things.

I have had so many friends ask the past few weeks why I became a distributor for Advocare, why I’m doing the 24 Day Challenge when I’m generally not a “product” kind of person.

THIS.

This is my reason for Advocare. This is my why. Because it’s not just the products. It’s the people. The structure, the support, the community.

The first time I did the 24 Day Challenge, in 2013, was because I wanted to lose some weight. Which isn’t a bad goal, but that was the end of it at that point. Just lose a couple pounds, which I did; and put it right back on because I never addressed the underlying issues that got me there in the first place.

I need help. I need help putting some space between me and my habits. I need structure and support and community. I see myself so clearly right now, more clearly than I ever have. And it’s an incredibly difficult picture to look at. Not because I don’t look the way I want to, but because I WAS MADE FOR MORE THAN THIS. I was made for more than to be a slave to my habits, than to watch my health slip away from me. I was made for more than hiding. Mentally, emotionally, physically…I am worth so much more than this. I know I am.

I am so hungry for so many things, and I was built with that hunger. I believe that. I believe the God who created me made me with a wildly expansive spirit and heart for a reason. But it aches so bad sometimes, this being a wide open space. So I just keep trying to fill it up with what does not satisfy. I could write a novel on all the things I’ve tried to fill it up with, and a whole other novel on all the ways those things have never worked. I have to stop trying to fill up spaces that are wild and untamed and open for a divine reason.

I need to find a better way, and I need help getting there. I cannot do this on my own. I have tried for a really long time, and it’s taken my body and my soul to ugly places.

I’m finally coming to a place where I’m okay with saying where I am and saying that it’s not okay and saying that I can’t get away from where I am on my own.

This. This is my why.

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yes to quiet

31 days of WTHKW

I have been writing a lot. Much of it hasn’t ended up here; in fact, most of my 31 days haven’t ended up here. Maybe because there are some thoughts that are just better held close to my chest for awhile. One of the lovely things about writing for me is that, the more I do it, the more layers of myself I uncover. Which is beautiful and terrifying simultaneously. Terrifying because it feels so exposing, and I always feel the need to hide in the quiet for while.

So I’ve been hiding in the quiet a lot. But today, my thoughts are clear and easy and not quite so inward turned.

Last week, I was talking to a dear friend and mentor, someone I love very much. We were talking about me being exhausted and sick, about my body just leveling me with one thing after another. And I was explaining to her a little bit about how I believe that’s stress related, that my body was responding to a lack of rest, a lack of good food and proper hydration, a lack of general nourishment. And she made the comment that it’s just how life goes. That busy is just the way it is.

The older I get, though, the more I don’t really believe that. I believe that we’re as busy as we choose to be. I think of “yes” and “no” as currency these days. And I believe that when we’re exhausted and overextended and tired and sick, it’s because we’ve lost track of our yes and our no. We’ve decided that someone else gets to spend the yes and the no for us, and we just have to go with it.

I don’t think that’s true. I do believe that there are certain seasons that are naturally busier than others. I know this to be true in my career. Last week, half the reason I was so worn down was because work was really busy and really stressful. Saturday was solo contest, and trying to prepare twelve middle schoolers for that is just stressful. It just is. And I do know that was half the reason I was so tired, and likely a large chunk of the reason I felt so sick.

I also know that the other half of the reason was because I haven’t fully learned that, when I’m in a season of spending a lot of yes at work, it is vital that I learn how to spend my no in other areas for that season. In the same way that, when work is slow, I know I have some more yes to give to other areas of life.

I know as well that when those busy seasons hit, and I only have a little bit of yes to spend outside work, I need to be choosy about where it goes. I didn’t do that last week. I spent my extra yes on a lot of junk food and a lot of time with TV and social media when what I really needed to be saying yes to was making sure my body was properly cared for, with good food and plenty of water and long baths and phone calls with my best people and writing sessions and yoga and meditation and maybe a few naps.

I’m not doing this perfectly, the spending of my yes and my no. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But I am growing. I am learning how to re-chart my course a little bit more quickly than I used to.

For example, I know I should have spent my yes more wisely last week, and made more use of my no, but I didn’t. I am, however, mapping out this week to look a lot more like last week should have. I’m giving myself the margin and the downtime I need. I slept in a little today. I went to yoga. I watched one episode of Gilmore Girls and then turned the TV off, rather than spending the entire day marathoning my way through Netflix. I got groceries so my home is full of good food. I took the time to cook for myself. I’ve been drinking plenty of water, and nothing else. It’s 7:30 pm, and I am curled up in bed, snuggling my dog and listening to absolute silence while I take the thoughts in my head and put them on paper. I’m not planning to stay late at work this week, or to go out in the evenings. I plan to spend plenty of time snuggling with my puppy and my husband, or curled up with a book, or painting my nails, or coloring. Doing something that allows me to stop trying for awhile and just be.

It’s time to quiet down. It is always my choice to say yes to quiet.

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thoughts on health and fitness

It’s been almost two months since Josh and I started revamping our approach to health.  With the new year coming up, it feels like a really good time to revisit what we’ve been doing differently and why.  So here, in no particular order, are the five biggest things we’ve learned over the past two months of our journey toward better health.

1. If you’re hungry, eat.  One of the biggest misconceptions about losing weight is that the less you eat, the more you’ll lose.  False.  What’s true, though, is that when you drastically cut down on the amount you’re eating, your body slows down your metabolism.  It’s supposed to; it thinks you’re in a period of famine, and that it needs to make all the calories you’re taking in last as long as possible, so it’s going to hold onto fat like that’s its job.  Because it is.  If you’re drinking a SlimFast for breakfast (don’t even get me started on that mess), eating a Healthy Choice frozen meal for lunch (really…don’t even get me started on that mess), and having a salad for dinner, you are not eating enough.  Not even close.  If that’s you’re usual MO when it comes to weight loss and you always end up putting it back on, that’s why.  Treating your metabolism like crap isn’t healthy or sustainable.

2. Cut your intake of processed foods wayyyyyy down, if not out completely.  That means soda, that means fast food, that means grocery-store foods with ingredients listed that you wouldn’t cook with in your own kitchen.  That’s the only calorie-cutting you need to do.  If your great-great grandmother didn’t eat it as a kid, don’t build your diet around it.  Eat meat, veggies, fruit, plenty of healthy fats.  That said, it’s also really important to find a balance.  For example, if a friend wants to meet me for dessert, you can be sure I’m going to go, and I’m going to take a piece of chocolate cake to the face.  Bonus is, I’m not going to feel even a little bit guilty about it.  Not because I’m planning to go work off all the calories on the treadmill (hate that thing) later, but because I know that if I’m eating whole, fresh foods 90% of the time, that other 10% isn’t going to kill me.  I’m all for being healthy and treating my body well, but I’m not neurotic.  And you shouldn’t be either.

3. That treadmill is not the only tool in the fitness toolbox.  It’s not even the best one, if you ask me.  Honestly, since the day Josh and I started working out almost two months ago, I’ve maybe been on a treadmill five times.  Maybe.  I fell in love with weightlifting, and it’s treating my body incredibly well.  Dropping fat and building myself a booty, y’all.  There are a lot of amazing training programs out there for free that can take you from beginner to meathead.  Bodybuilding and Muscle and Strength are two fantastic websites to start with.  I’m still new to lifting myself, so I’m better off to point you in the direction of the experts than to give you my own advice based on a whopping eight weeks, but here’s the one thing I will say: if you’re going to lift, don’t spend the next two years lifting five pound weights.  Lift heavy.  Even if you’re a girl.  It will not make you bulky or turn you into a man.  I promise.  If you’re in doubt, google Paige Hathaway.  If that woman looks like a dude, you can go ahead and sign me up to look like a dude.  Today, please.

4. Don’t use exercise as a punishment for making bad food choices.  Honestly, I never thought I would be the person who loved working out, but I really do.  And I believe that’s partly because at this point in my life, I don’t use it as punishment.  Ever.  It’s much less “I have to workout so I get to eat like crap,” and much more, “I’m eating well and my energy is high and feeling my body get stronger is a little like crack.”  I know that I’m going to get up and go to the gym every morning, regardless of what I ate the day before.  And I’m going to do it because right now I feel better than I have in years, physically and mentally.  I’m going to do it because I found something I enjoy.  For the longest time, I thought I needed to be a runner, because I thought that was the best and most efficient way to lose fat and stay healthy.  And so I tried, and tried, and I always quit because running is just not rewarding to me.  It’s not fun, I don’t enjoy it, and I would start off with the best of intentions and QUIT. EVERY. TIME.  And then came the magical day when I found out that running was not necessarily the best or most efficient way to lose fat and stay healthy.  Weightlifting changed how I feel about exercise completely.  I love it.  Give me a weight bench and the occasional yoga class and I’m happy as a clam.  All that to say, find what works for you.  The best workout is the one that you keep doing.  If it’s Zumba? Get in there and shake it to your heart’s content.  If it’s running? Lace up and head out.  Try different things and find the thing you love.  You won’t regret it, and working out will never feel like a punishment for bad choices.  Ever again.

5. Have a bigger reason than “to look good.”  Honestly, I cannot stress this enough.  I know that today, it feels like that’s a good enough reason, and it will be for awhile.  But one day, you’ll wake up to a really bad day and there will be PMS and irrationality in abundance and you will think, “Yep.  I want to take a family-size order of cheesy breadsticks to the face more than I want to look good.”  You have to have a bigger reason, preferably a bunch of bigger reasons.  For Josh and I, it’s holistic health.  We are both from families that have very high incidences of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and so on and so forth.  So frankly? We’re doing this because we’re determined to stick around and live an abundant life.  Of course, I want to be a sexy wife.  But more than that, I want to be a healthy wife.  A wife who’s here, who’s energetic, who’s playful and feisty.  I want to be a wife who doesn’t give my husband the impression that it’s more important that I get to eat whatever I want, whenever I want than it is that I be around for him.  And my husband wants to be the same thing for me.  And one day, there will be kids, and we’ll want to be around for them, and to be able to really live life with them.  We want to do justice to the life we’ve been given, and for us, part of that is taking care of the body we’ve got.  You have to find your bigger reason, because at the end of the day, that will be what makes it happen.

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