There’s something about August…

August Challenge

Apparently, August is the month for challenges. Last year, I did a month long physical activity challenge where I did 10 minutes each day. Now, I’m in the middle of a step challenge with my weight loss accountability group.

It’s pretty simple. We just track our steps using an activity tracker, pedometer, or phone app and then report how many steps we’ve taken each week to see who gets the most steps. I keep falling just short of my goal of 40,000 steps for the week, and that’s not the only area where I’m falling short.

I’m in an eating slump. While most of the summer has been a refreshing change from previous food obsessions, I’m starting to see myself reverting back to some bad habits. Habits like eating chocolate right out of the freezer and eating a thousand snacks a day. It’s taking a toll on me, too. I haven’t been at this for too long, and I’m already feeling sluggish and have that familiar burning sensation in my esophagus.

So, what am I going to do now that I realize I’m messing up? Well, for one, I’m not going to freak out. I’ve been down this road before, and I’ve lived to tell about it. Two weeks of bad choices is not going to ruin two years of effort.

tomatoNext, I’m going to start heading back in the direction of the habits that have helped me: drinking lots of water, eating lots of protein and veggies, and trying to move…any kind of moving is good at this point. Volleyball is a casualty of our full schedule due to training, paperwork, and home studies to adopt from foster care (here’s an article about some ways to avoid weight gain during the adoption process). My gardening hobby made a dramatic exit somewhere around the middle of July when I went out of town and never got back into the routine. At least my three beautiful tomato plants were spared in the latest excitement of a tree falling in my yard during as a tornado went through my neighborhood.

 

It’ll take time to ramp up, but that’s okay. I’m just glad I am working on things before I gain all the weight back and more.

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Trading Good for Best

In two days, I will have my one year WordPress anniversary. This is my 77th post (which doesn’t include the handful in my drafts folder…contrary to popular belief, sometimes thoughts aren’t really worth sharing). On big days like this, it makes sense to take a step back and see the big picture. Big pictures are not always my strength. I tend to focus so much on the details that I forget why I was focused on them in the first place. They become ends in themselves instead of means to something greater.

During the past year, I’ve gotten this tunnel vision on a lot of things: weight loss podcasts, cleaning, hair care, gardening, Monster Legends (lol!), making food from scratch, and even writing a blog post every day for a month. All of these things can be good things when enjoyed from the security of finding my identity, sustenance, and foundation in Jesus. This was true for me some of the time. When I find that I’m investing too much time chasing after something else, I typically toss it out of my life (an appropriate choice for things like Monster Legends). It becomes tricky when those things are needed in every day life, like cleaning and hair care.

So, how do I as a Christian measure whether these things are taking a healthy place in my life? There are a couple of things that I’ve picked up from different places (like sermons, books, and workshops) that have been helpful for me to gauge whether something good or neutral is starting to take the place of what’s best.

  • What is driving my decisions in life? I’m a part of a Facebook community for people with wavy hair. It’s been a great resource for me to figure out the information that I ignored when I was an adolescent. However, there are some people who take pictures of their hair every day and post them on the group, fret about their decisions about what hair product will give their hair more or less ______ (fill in the blank), and schedule their lives around their hair. If my hair is driving my decisions, it is distracting me from what should be.
  • When I’m not thinking about anything, what do I think about? This just means, “What does my thinking naturally gravitate toward?” In Psalm 1:2 (and many other places in the Bible), it says that a person is blessed when “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” I want my thoughts to drift toward God all day long, not what I ate for breakfast or what steps I need to take to get my plants to survive.
  • I become what I behold. What am I beholding? I spent over a year listening to weight loss podcasts every chance I got. There were times when I stepped back and took a break from them, but in the grand scheme of things, I spent a lot of time beholding a certain weight loss philosophy perspective. It’s one that I happen to support and tend to agree with most of the time. When I spend that much time putting myself in front of one thing, it begins to shape how I think and act. While it’s not bad for someone who is trying to lose weight to study the habits of someone who has already lost the weight, it’s not the best thing for me as a Jesus follower to invest so much of my time in.

I’m not saying that I’ve wasted a year of my life. I’ve learned very necessary skills that I should have probably learned much earlier in life. I’ve developed a better mindset and perspective on weight loss and health. What I’m saying is that it’s time for me to focus on something greater. I’m tired of spending so much time looking in the mirror and at other people. I want to look into the face of Jesus, and, as I behold Him, I pray that I will become more like Him.

 

The Lawn Mower Killer

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I’m a lawn mower killer. Not only did I break our lawn mower, but also our friends’ lawn mower. Follow that up with a van that doesn’t start and a refrigerator that won’t keep things cool, and I have a little bit of a mess.

It seems that even my strategy of pushing ahead through imperfections doesn’t always give me the end product I was hoping for. Let’s review.

  • There’s a weird long patch of grass in my backyard (thankfully, my husband mowed most of the remaining yard with the neighbor’s mower).
  • My food is packed into a mini-fridge waiting for a permanent home.
  • Some of the plants I started inside are doing great, but a lot of them died when I was forced to put them on the porch when the light I was using inside burnt out and then left them out overnight a little too early.
  • My volleyball training plan I wrote about in April is the last thing I’m thinking about.
  • I’m eating more chocolate and drinking more coffee than my digestive system prefers.
  • I haven’t blogged for a very long time. 🙂

All this to say that I have taken some hits to my confidence lately. To be honest, sometimes I just suck at things.

Thankfully, my life isn’t sustained by my self esteem. Just having confidence in my own abilities isn’t going to get me through. Things will go wrong. Sometimes very wrong. Sometimes it will be out of my control. Sometimes it will be completely my fault. At the end of the day, there’s not much I can do about it but get help when I need it and dust myself off and keep on going.

So, I am here to tell you that I’m not letting these recent issues keep me down. It’s been awesome to see how God has provided for us with rides and loaned vehicles while the van has been out of commission. I’m excited to see how God is working in our neighborhood as my church is in the beginning stages of a church plant there. We’re thinking about starting the process to adopt from foster care soon.There are too many awesome things going on for me to be negative right now.

 

A Whole Lot of Whole Foods

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I’ve been upping my vegetable game lately. The percentage of whole foods I’ve been eating has definitely gone up. Don’t get me wrong, though, I am not a clean eater. One of my ingredients for dinner was margarine (gasp!). I’m not on the Whole30. I like grains and dairy a bit too much for that.

While I am far from perfect, I am really working on eating more produce, and it’s helping me improve my eating overall. I love when I can focus on adding things instead of taking them away. I’m also trying to make more things myself. For instance, I made my own whipped cream the other day instead of buying Cool Whip. I know this doesn’t save calories, but it made my dessert much more satisfying. I’d love to do more things like that, and I’m hoping that will work well with my new gardening hobbies.

Under the Sun

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Someone at work mentioned that I was tan today. I would call that an interesting definition of the color that has appeared on my face:

 

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I’m loving the warm weather. Spending time out in the sun has given me a lot of opportunities to be active. I’ve been rediscovering things that I loved when I was younger. I’ve been reading more (it’s perfect reading on the porch weather!), feeding a neighbor cat (a “pet” without obligations), and playing in the dirt (aka gardening).

There’s nothing new under the sun, including sunburns. I get them so easily. You’d think I’d learn to wear sunscreen at some point. I guess this is the year of being a grown up, so I better go buy some. Here are some things that have been keeping me busy lately.

 

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Working in the garden

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Soccer all morning on Saturday

Sweet Scale Success!

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As much as I love the idea of hanging in there and doing my best when I’m not losing weight, it can get a little exhausting. After three months of the scale hovering around the same number, it’s finally heading down! This morning, I weighed in at 235.2 pounds. I’m soooo close to the huge milestone of 40 pounds lost. To give you some perspective, I’ve been working on this chunk of 10 pounds for the last 6 months.

I’m really enjoying my week off of all goals. I’m not going crazy and throwing all caution to the wind. I’m still making healthy choices for the most part; I spent an hour digging in the garden today and picked a 100 calorie Greek yogurt for an evening snack. I’ll pick up a couple of goals on Monday, but until then I’m drinking in the sweet freedom.

Garden Update

Okay, I know this is a weight loss blog, but I have to share my progress with my gardening. I promise it’s related. Check out my very first sprouting plant!

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This little guy showed up two days ago. Now, he has some friends:

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The next task is to keep some of these alive until I can plant them outside. I’m not sure if the rest will ever sprout. All of the seed packets were labeled with a difficulty of easy, so if they don’t then I guess they need to add another category (effortless, foolproof, gardening for dummies, etc.).

I’m glad that I decided to just go for it instead of just researching gardening so much that I psyched myself out. Instead of spending all of my energy planning and dreaming and waiting for the right time and situation, I just want to do things. There will never be the perfect scenario in life, so I would rather find beauty and joy and adventure right here in the middle of the chaos and imperfection.

April Showers

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This is me pretending I know how to garden.

Today is the first day of the A to Z blog challenge! The month of April starts with the letter A, so this is an easy one (I’m not cheating…well, maybe a little). I’ve been trying to get my yard ready for my first garden (awesome workout!), and it’s been a challenge with all of the rain we’ve been getting. Thankfully, there are other things to keep me busy, namely starting my tomatoes,  peppers, and eggplant inside.

I’ve learned that you can spend a fortune on gardening, and I’m not interested in doing that. Partially, this is because I have no idea if any of my plants will actually grow. Instead, I bought a packet of seeds (the rest were free), a few basic tools (like a shovel, which we should have around anyway), and some soil. Otherwise, I’m using things around the house. It’s like when parents buy the cheap musical instruments for their kids because they don’t know if they’ll want to play for more than a couple of months.

I don’t really have any expectations going into this, but if I can conquer hair care, I just might be able to handle a few seeds.

 

 

 

 

Turkey sausage at last!

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The life cycle of a sausage is not a glamorous one, so I will spare you the gory details (believe me when I say that I mean that literally). Tonight’s dinner was three days in the making (one for grinding the meat, one for stuffing the sausage, and one for cooking the sausage…more days if you count the turkey thawing in the refrigerator). It was my first attempt at sausage, and it was a definite success. Of course, pork would have been juicier, but the turkey was free and lower in calories. I made two flavors: barbecue bacon cheddar and red chile cilantro.

I’m also keeping myself busy reading up on gardening. Other than a tomato plant or two, I’ve never had a garden in my adult life. I have no clue what I’m doing, but I’m excited for the extra physical activity and some cheap/delicious fruits and veggies (hopefully). The first step is clearing out a whole lot of debris from my not-so-well-groomed backyard. As with most things I want to do, I’ve found a good gardening podcast called A Way to Garden by Margaret Roach.

March Goals Check-In: I’ve been feeling pretty good with my new eating habits (avoiding the chocolate and coffee, mainly). Unfortunately, it hasn’t gone as well with the no scale thing. I stuck it out through my first 6 week check-in (237.2 pounds – my lowest yet) and then weighed myself every day after that for several days. I’m staying away from the scale again until May, so I’ll have to find something else to write about in April when I do the A to Z blog challenge.