Being a Woman

This post isn’t about fashion and it isn’t about fitness – it’s deeply personal and something I don’t think we talk about near enough because we are taught that it’s embarrassing, it’s TMI – too much information yet almost half the population deals with it and goes through it once a month, whether they like it or not.  Their period.

OMG, why does she want to talk about her period?  How disgusting?  Maybe but I bet you ask any woman and at one time or another, she has been deeply frustrated, disappointed or angered by how disruptive it has been to her life.   I’ve worked hard during my 31 years with it to never use it as a crutch or excuse to get out of anything – it’s just a part of life that needs to be dealt with and move on.  For most women, it serves a BIG purpose – it helps them track their ovulation, get pregnant, have children, but for women like me without kids, it really is nothing more than a monthly inconvenience.

I was on the birth control pill from age 16 to age 32 when my husband got a vasectomy.  We both never wanted kids but I assumed we would always change our minds, at some point.  But, as we neared our 30s, my husband kept asking when he could go in for the snip, snip.  Let’s just give it another year or 2, I would say.  Eventually, I realized we were making the right decision for us and over the years, I had trouble finding a birth control pill that worked well for my body.  I always had 1 issue or another and eventually, it was freeing to just be able to get off it altogether.

I was blessed to be fairly regular, have fairly normal periods with little issues.  But, as I neared and passed the age of 40, I noticed some irregularity, I’m never quite sure when it’s going to come and at least 1 or 2 days during my cycle are ROUGH.  Super heavy, very crampy and uncomfortable, so tired I could sleep 10 hours a day and still need more.  Normally, I can care for myself in silence – I work 2 days a week from home so those days would be a breeze, I didn’t have to see or talk to a soul if I didn’t want to.  If it was a day in the office, when it got really bad, I would cut the day short and finish my work from home.  Weekends?  Most of the time if I have plans, I can muddle through the event or get together but just taking it easy or if it got really bad, just skip out on the event altogether.

But, sometimes, the stars align to create the perfect storm and that was yesterday.  I was surprised to find my period start 4 days early this month (and last month was 3 days late so I truly feel like I am right in the middle of perimenopause, around 1st into full blown menopause) and unfortunately, these days, it’s almost impossible to tell when my “bad” day will be.  Sometimes it’s the 1st day, sometimes it’s right in the middle, sometimes, it can even be one of the last few days.  I’ve had a big trip to Chicago planned with friends for well over a month now – tickets were bought, travel plans made and I wasn’t about to cancel on all of them at the last minute.  Besides, I didn’t know FOR SURE it would be right on our event day so I rolled the dice, expected the best and planned for the worst.  The worst happened.

On the ride up to Chicago yesterday morning, I could FEEL it coming.  Ladies, you know that feeling?  You’re uncomfortable, cramps are starting, you want nothing more than to just be right next to a bathroom and kick your feet up on the couch – anything to relieve the pain.  I took Advil, like I normally do and it did it’s job but nothing that stop that heavy flow from coming.

We arrived at the convention center, ready for an entire day of nothing but walking.  Walking, walking, feet pounding, pounding All. Day. Long.  I was fine, though uncomfortable, of course, until around 1pm when the Advil started to wear off.  I took more but the damage was done.  It’s not exactly handy or convenient when you are in a giant location, being jostled by thousands of people, having to run in and out of the bathroom every hour on the hour, trying to eat a lot of food when your stomach is in knots and your insides feel like you are being punched over and over again.

How do you explain this to a man?  I wish I could and that they could FEEL it just for a day.  I don’t want to be all woe as me, I’m a woman and I’m cursed but I truly felt like I was yesterday.  By 3pm, I was pretty much in tears and wanted nothing more than to be magically teleported home to my own couch or bed where I could be left and quiet and peace until the pain subsided rather than endure one more moment of chaos and the LONG car ride home.

I lost it.  There is no other way to put it.  I totally and completely lost it on some of the people I love most in this world.  I am sure they think I am insane, I didn’t explain my plight to anyone except my best girlfriend who did her best to help me but in the end, what can you do but just endure it?  Later, I mercifully made it home, I thought to myself – WHY did I feel too embarrassed to just tell my friends the truth, explain what was going on with me?  Maybe if I’d had that outlet and just come clean with them at the beginning of the day, things would have went a lot different yesterday.  Or maybe it would have been exactly the same, who knows?  Hindsight, I would have spared everyone the complication, including myself and just stayed home.  Nothing I did yesterday was worth all that frustration, worry and being uncomfortable all day.

It’s a part of us – something woman can’t get rid or of or walk away from.   Some have a very easy time of it, while others struggle with unseen pain or complications but one think I learned, I am WAY too old to ever shy away from having a conversation about it, sharing with my friends how I feel or about any issues I’m having just because it’s a period.  It’s messy, but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.  I wish we all could just be more honest and open with each other about SO many things in our lives, rather than being so fearful about how people may judge us or view us differently if we share with them.  Unfortunately, we humans sure aren’t perfect and yesterday, I sure proved that point about myself.  To my friends, I am very sorry for things I said and did and am glad that at least you all, were able to enjoy your day.

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A Whole New Body

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This post is tough to write because I don’t want to sound like a whiner and complainer.  I am a 43 year old woman who is in good health, a few bucks in my pocket, great friends, an even better husband and many, many fun adventures under my belt.  Yet,  I find myself constantly unhappy and it’s all because of this picture above.

It must be said, I am also very short.  I think when you live your life as a short person, usually the shortest in the room you feel like you will stay young forever.  People always mistake you for much younger than you actually are, go on and on about how “cute” you are and of course, crack the occasional short joke (like I’ve never heard THAT one before!).  But, well into my 40s now, I feel those comments and feelings are becoming fewer and farther between.  I feel more seasoned, a veteran of life, just half way through, God willing.

But, one thing that also comes from being short is no matter what anyone says, it is much tougher staying small.  It always has been from the time I hit puberty until today.  I went back and looked over my blog entries from 2012, 2013, 2014 and I was lucky enough at that age, to be enjoying the best version of myself I ever thought possible.  I was fit, I was thin, I loved the  way I looked, I was comfortable in my own skin.  I was very proud to have reached that point because I worked hard to get it – I worked out regularly, watched what I ate very carefully and I truly didn’t feel like I took it for granted. However, when I read through those posts, I do realize I was pretty tough on myself even then.  What exactly did I expect from myself?  Perfection?

Now, at 43, I am struggling more than ever.  Over the past year, I have watched my weight steadily increase, despite my best efforts back up to the weight I was when I was married 2o years ago.  I know, how many out there would KILL to be the same weight they were 20 years ago?  Well, remember when I said 2012 – 2014 were my best years?  They really were.  I was a chubbier girl in high school and college, not fat by any means but definitely heavier than I eventually become at 40.  So, my weight at 23 was definitely low for me at the time but far more than just 2 short years ago.

So, now I have over 5 new pounds to contend with and I just don’t know what to do with them.  Do I work out more – even though I average 5 days a week already and actually get in 6 on a good week?  Do I change my workouts?  Join a gym? Take a new challenging class?  Do I cut back my food even more – even though now, I feel my stomach grow more than it’s full? Is it really worth all that?  Isn’t this MUCH more than the average person does?

I don’t want to give up but I do want to be happy and right now, I am struggling with weighing the happiness of socializing dinners with friends, just one more drink or bite of dessert against desperately trying to lose 5 pounds.  Once I achieve that weight loss, if I did, how long would I be able to realistically hold on to it?  I feel like no matter what I do, it would be a constant struggle that I honestly am just sick to death of thinking about every single day, every single minute, day in and day out.

I told myself – forget about the number, just be HEALTHY.  I think I could, for the most part but tell that to my gorgeous closet full of clothes I’ve acquired over the past 2 or 3 years and the fact I can’t comfortably get into over half of them.  What do I do?  Just let them hang there and go out and buy all new ones? That would be hundreds and HUNDREDS of dollars.  But I’m not sure how much longer I can go on, walking in there every day and staring at them, trying to quickly decide which pair of pants can be me through the day without making me feel like a overstuffed buffalo.

Do I let go of that dream?  Do I step back, accept it and just slowly acquire new, more comfortable fitting clothes as I can afford it and keep living my life?  Or do I recommit to a drastic change in one last effort to be the person I used to be?  I don’t recognize this new body and thank God, I have an amazing husband who just last night, looked me up and down and with a completely straight face said – I actually love your new body!  It’s more curvy, womanly, sexy and not so thin.  He sees me that way, so why it is so tough to see MYSELF that way too?

 

 

Mortified, Petrified and Vilified

I sit here this morning with so many emotions – fear, angry, shame and I can’t help the tears from running down my face.

I work hard.  I may not be perfect but I work harder than the average person, I think.  I watch what I eat every single day, I work out 4-5 times a week, if not more, I eat good, quality, healthy food.  And yet, despite all that hard work that I’ve been doing every week of my life for the past 10 years, here I sit, a whopping 7 pounds heavier than when I start this year.

I haven’t been this heavy in . . .I honestly can’t remember the last time.  Before I started this journey, back in 2005?  I had ballooned up to a weight I was not happy with and in hindsight, sure, it was a LOT heavier than this.  I was wearing size 10 clothes at the time and on my way to a size 12.  Is there anything wrong with that size?  NO but it was not the size I felt comfortable at, felt healthy at, felt I could maintain long term and be able to do all I wanted to do.  I was 31 at the time and I sat down with my husband and he created a plan for me that changed my life.  It took about year, from start to finish but since then, for the most part, I have enjoyed an active, comfortable life.

Something in me has changed.  I feel like an alien has invaded my body and no matter what I do, there is no stopping it.  I have killed myself for months now, trying to adjust different things in my diet, my workouts to stop this from happening and no matter what I do, it just keeps getting worse.  6 of these 7 pounds has come on, just since August but WHY?  Every morning, after a particular good workout or eating day, I get on that scale, looking down at the number, just praying for ONCE, it starts to go down and every day, it stays the same or just keep creeping higher.  Today was the highest number yet, a whole pound up this week, again and I just sat down and sobbed.

My clothes are starting to not fit – oh!  All of the beautiful, gorgeous clothes I have bought over this past year.  I go into my closet now and smile, knowing I don’t have the same 3 outfits I need to wear over and over again, NO!  I have a dozen pretty outfits to choose from now and it was so much fun trying them all on for you, for my friends and putting them all together.  I have never done that before and it felt great.

Now, I am desperately close to losing all of them.  I have a company Christmas party tonight and dresses I’ve bought over the past year or two I had hoped to wear and in the back of my mind, I know they probably won’t fit me now.  I just want to go into a room, turn out all the lights, crawl into a ball and never come out.

The question that keeps screaming in the back of my mind is WHY?  Why is this happening and why is this happening now?  Yes, I changed my diet to Eat to Perform and let me tell you that is going out the window this minute.  I still think it’s a good idea to strive for higher protein and lower carbs but 2 months of doing that, according to their plan and look what’s happened to me??  Obviously, my body is not responding and I need to stop jamming protein and calories into it, waiting for it to achieve some magical balance that is going to make me, all of a sudden, shred tons of body fat.

But then what do I do?  I am SO sick of tracking my calories, especially when I see them climbing for the day and know I probably shouldn’t have more but my poor stomach is growling, growling, GROWLING so loud, I can barely hear myself think.  I choose healthy things – an apple, a piece of cheese but sometimes, like yesterday, I choose crackers but only a whopping 130 calories worth of crackers.  Carbs can’t kill you, right?

I have becoming scared of food because I don’t understand, for the life of me, what it is doing to my body.  I don’t know what to eat anymore, I don’t know how much of it to eat, I don’t know what workouts to do when I used to be so sure of myself.  I loved the compliments of, oh wow, you look so great and I was proud, not because they said it but because I knew how hard I had worked to achieve it.  Now, despite all the work, it feels like I’m doing nothing at all.

You may be reading this thinking I’m incredibly narcissistic to go on and on about my appearance and my weight but as women, we are programmed to care, a lot about it.  As one of my male Facebook friends pointed out, when the recent Annie Leibovitz picture of Amy Schumer came out – how skinny a women is doesn’t make her sexy, but her confidence, at any size, does and right now, my confidence is utterly and completely shattered.   My workouts are getting tougher because I am heavier – last night, on the treadmill, I couldn’t even get myself to do the short sprints I had been testing out because my legs were SO sore from boot camp class the night before and I felt SO incredibly heavy. I feel like I am trying to carry around someone I don’t know.  My body isn’t used to it. . .and I don’t want it to get used to it.

So, what’s the answer?  Do I go to the doctor and get checked out?  I didn’t have any blood work done this year, like I normally would because my company did away with their annual in house screening.  Do I get back on the herbs I started taking in October last year?  I have already contacted my herbalist and she is rustling something up for me.  Last year, it helped me shed about 4 pounds AND feel better but what does this mean?  If they work again, does that mean I have to take them forever?  Do I change how I’m eating and drop my calories more?  Cut out alcohol during one of the most festive times of the year?

I don’t feel like eating, I don’t feel like drinking because I feel like every bite, every sip is taking me that much closer to a place I don’t want to be.  Why I am I sharing my deepest, darkest, scariest thoughts right now?  Because if I feel this way, there MUST be others out there having those same fears, those same resentments, those same struggles.  Struggles of a Healthy Foodie have never felt more so than now.  At least not for a very long time.

I don’t know what the answer is except to keep trying to live my life the best way I know how.  But I know the way my brain works and it will be impossible not to obsess about this under something changes.  I just wish I knew what.

Stitch Fix #7 Sneak Peek

My Fix has shipped and so of course, once again, I had to take a little peek at what was to come.  I think the thing I liked the best is while I can usually find the pictures online somewhere, you still have no idea what color is coming to you – so you aren’t totally ruining the surprise.

MANGROVE Sidney Colorblock Wrap Scarf – looks like it comes in 3 different colors online.  Looks a little lightweight for winter but we will give it a go.

Item 1

MARKET & SPRUCE Avah Knit Top – I like this one and if it fits me right, I think I would keep it.

Item 2

41HAWTHORN Teegan Draped Blazer – the reviews I have read on this quickly don’t sound too positive.  Most say it is ill fitting and an usual style.  Tough to pull off unless it fits you just so.

Item 3

LOVEAPPELLA Kayla Dress – I am not exactly sure why they are still sending me sleeveless dresses for fall and winter, especially when I pinned a handful of ones with sleeves as examples.  Sure, I can wear a cardigan with it but would be nice to have more fall/winter looking pieces.

Item 4

PAPERMOON Etsie Dress – again, another sleeveless and I feel like they have already sent me styles similar to this a few times.  Kind of plain Jane but again, I don’t know what color they went me.

Item 5

So, there you have it!  Again, the pictures above are NOT the ones I received but ones I found on the Internet when I Googled the items above.  I have no idea what size or color they are sending, only the prices, which seem very reasonable for this Fix, so that’s nice.  My box is set to arrive on Friday, November 6th so stay tuned for my pictures, trying everything on!

Sweets are My Downfall

I am closing in on week 4 on Eat to Perform and still, it isn’t going as I had hoped.  I have discussed this with my hubby and he still claims that 4 weeks isn’t long enough to know if it is going to be successful or not but I am still on the fence if I will continue or not.  I keep trying to think about where I may be going wrong and the only thing I can come up with is I just eat too many darn sweets.  I have cut WAY back from what I personally would like to eat and have for a long time.  However, the past couple of weeks especially, have been tough as we get closer to Halloween.  And what does Halloween mean?  CANDY!

I have tried to allow myself no more than 1-2 pieces of candy a day and have stuck pretty much with that.  I still have a candy dish full of candy corn in my living room that’s been sitting there for a month (I know, YUCK!) that I have managed not to wolf down and probably will end up throwing away.  I usually eat 1-2 pieces of dark chocolate per day in the form of Hershey Kisses, Hershey Nuggets with Almonds or Dove Promises.  Then, there is the occasion treat at work or a foodie dinner – a mini cupcake here, a scoop of ice cream there, a small piece of cake here.  I NEVER eat all of it and strive to take the smallest serving I can or only eat half of what I am served.  I do refuses sweets every now and again but admittedly, that is few and far between.

But, could these little treats be sabotaging everything else I have changed?  I am still eating 90-110 grams of protein a day and let me just say, as of this week, I am officially SICK of meat.  Sure, you can get protein from other sources like nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and protein shakes, all of which I eat but I am sick of it all!  I miss things like apple. . .can I eat an apple?  OF COURSE but when I am trying to get that much protein, you kind of have to be choosy about what you eat and don’t eat.  Apples have no protein so that just means I have to balance that apple with a protein source with less carbs.

It just seems like this eating plan isn’t practical if you are the type of person who likes a wide variety of food and not eating the same things over and over again.  I talked it over with my husband last night – we are very bad about including a few, very helpful things in our diet.  Veggies – we are awful about eating veggies.  Not that we don’t like them but it is pretty low on the list of things we think to prepare.  Fish and seafood is another one.  Again, not that we don’t like it but I don’t think either one of us is very skilled or knowledgeable in preparing it so we have a tendency to focus our main protein sources for our meat on chicken and beef with the occasional pork thrown in there.  Also, I know beans would be good too – more carby than meat but still good for the diet and good sources of protein too.

So, I think if I continue this, I need to come up with a better go to list of meals that give me the variety I crave as well as ease of preparation.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a ton of time to cook but the idea of making a giant dish of chicken breasts and rice to eat for an entire week just sounds boring to me.  I will give you the specific numbers after Sunday but I can tell you NOTHING has budged and the body fat continues to go UP.  Totally the wrong direction.  If I can’t get a handle on it soon, Eat to Perform is going right out the window!

Eat To Perform – Week 3, Not Tracking Well

OK, I went on vacation and let’s just say I wasn’t exactly counting my grams of protein, fat and carbs while I was gone.  Today is officially week 3 on this program so thought I would break it down, by the numbers because as I have mentioned before, I’m an accountant so numbers are my life!

Days on program:  21

Days tracking food:  16

Days ended low on protein goal:  3

Weight change in 3 weeks:  +.1 pound

Body Fat change in 3 weeks:  +.6%

So, let’s look at this – weight is pretty much the same but unfortunately, body fat is increasing, not decreasing as expected which is NOT good.  The more body fat you have, the slower you burn calories which can’t be helpful, as I continue to eat more calories than I normally would.  I didn’t work out on vacation either but here are my workouts since I have returned:

Tuesday, October 20th:  40 minutes on the treadmill, 3.5 average mph

Weds, October 21st:  Free weight workout, 30 minutes

Thurs, October 22nd:  35 minutes on treadmill, 3.5 average mph

Friday, October 23rd:  30 minutes on treadmill, 5% incline, 3.4 average mph

Saturday, October 24th:  Crossfit workout, 30 minutes

Today I am shooting for 40 minutes of cardio and tomorrow will be Pilates.

So, a mere 5 days of vacation, without an incredibly amount of indulgence seems to have hurt my progress a great deal.  I think that’s what I find most frustrating – it’s like you work so hard and struggle to get your numbers down but in a matter of mere days, all of that hard work seems to just disappear in the blink of an eye.

I don’t want to gain anymore weight or I will start growing out of my current wardrobe.  I already am now able to comfortably fit in some work pants that have been sitting in the back of my closet for a year and a half because they were too big.  That is totally going in the wrong direction.

I am going to keep this up for at least another week or 2, hubby is telling me to be patient because he thinks I am doing all the right things now – and see if there is any improvement.  If not, I am going to have a hard time sticking with this.

I can tell you another frustrating part is having to drink these protein shake supplements every day.  EVERY DAY.  It is the only way to eat enough protein and I just get sick of eating the same thing, all the time.  The days I missed my protein goals are the days I skipped my shake and it shows.  I am still eating high protein, medium carb, medium fat meals the rest of the time so I get close but not up to 100 grams and I think any program that is what much of a struggle, isn’t realistic long term.

So, do I just suck it up and accept this is my body from here on out, do the best I can with my workouts and eating and keep letting the numbers slowly go up?  Or, do I go back to cutting my calories, watching everything I eat and making sacrifices on things I really enjoy to stay small?

I don’t know – I really have to think about it.  I say I don’t care what size I am but let’s be honest, that’s really a lie.  I DO care, who wants to have to buy a whole new wardrobe every 3-5 years because your weight is slowing but surely creeping up?  It’s a matter of comfort too – I am comfortable at my old weight and my old body fat, I miss that part of myself as I try to get used to this new body.  I just need to keep my focus positive – on being strong, being healthy, being mobile, being able to do all of the things I physically want to do.  Putting healthy things in my body and avoiding the unhealthy, unnatural and processed items as much as I can.  If I am going to splurge and have my absolute favorite thing – sweets, it is going to be the absolute best quality I can get.  No Hostess, Little Debbie or pre-packaged garbage for me!

Stay tuned – I am sure I am making mistakes with this program and reading the articles, it all sounds very complicated and overwhelming.  But, we all need to remember that every little thing we do to improve our health is worth it.  Putting the focus on ourselves and making our health a priority is an important use of our time, however, we personally decide to do it.  Your time commitment is your choice – I realize I will never be a professional athletic, like some of these people I am reading about and that’s OK.  I don’t want to be.  I just want to be me.

In Anticipation of Stitch Fix #7

I think I have been using Stitch Fix long enough to realize they are not going to deliver me 5 perfect items, no matter what info I give them, no matter how many gorgeous outfits I pin.  Which is fine, really because I couldn’t afford to buy all the pieces every time anyway!  So, as we transition from summer to fall, I am finding myself a little light in the work clothing department, which is what I asked for in my next Fix coming November 6th.  But, with a little time to kill at Target this afternoon, I took my time, walked through the store and put together these 3 outfits, all for under $120 (I did, already own, all of the dress pants shown below so that amount is for the sweaters, leggings and jewelry).

First up, this cute sweater dress and leggings.  I have finally thrown in the towel and realized I am being a little outdated by feeling leggings aren’t work appropriate.  As I look around the office, I see tons of cute, professional looking outfits and they are super comfy so why not jump on the bandwagon?

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I am not a fan of plain colors like black, white, gray, brown without some other pop of color but I made this work for me by picking a sweater with a mix of black and white then adding this fun little owl necklace to it.  I also got these patterned leggings which I ADORE and I think go well with it.

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Next up, this Fair Isle mustard, white and gray weather.  I know that this yellow color is hot this fall and I told myself I would not buy it, under any circumstances but I am sucker for these sweaters so it made it work for me.  However, I am discouraged to discover, the work pants I had planned to pair with it, don’t have enough contrast in it to work with the sweater.  It looks pretty darn plain.

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The pants are a nubby material and have both black and white in it, as you can see from this closeup but I still don’t think I like the look of them with the sweater.

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So, I tried them with a completely different colored pants – tan and I think this is pretty much disaster too.

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I think a winter white dress pant would be gorgeous with this sweater so I will keep an eye out for a pair but until this, I think this may just get worn with jeans on casual days or out and about on the weekends.

Finally, my favorite find – this delicate light pink sweater, the perfect backdrop to a beautiful statement necklace and earrings.

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I am in love with this set and the necklace was on clearance for only $11.99!

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So, now all I need is for it to get a little bit cooler.  I have been stocking up on these warmer clothes and it has still be in the 60s and 70s the past couple of weeks – not quite warm enough to drag the summer clothes back out but too warm for sweaters and pants.  I know, I shouldn’t complain because in another couple of months, when the snow is flying, I will be dreaming of 60 degree days!