So it’s been 9  months.

I have no idea what happens to time. Or my energy.

Things are the same, but they’re also very different.

I’m 27 days away from defending my dissertation. (!!!!!!!)

MC is 3. He and Jon’s daughter moved out in May, he turned 3 in July. That was rough. It was the best thing for them (and for us), of course, but I miss him like crazy. He has his own bedroom at our house and we seem to have fallen into a pattern of having him every other weekend – and now we see him twice a week for t-ball games, too – and we talk to him on the phone at least once a week – but it was an adjustment.

Jon and I hadn’t lived alone in 4 years, which seems crazy.

(Jon’s birthday last week – he’s 49!)

I’m still working FT. Still love my  job. Jon is still doing the same thing, except he’s in an MBA program, too. He’s been in a 16 month “professional” program – which essentially means he’s at school all day every Saturday and most Tuesday nights.

He graduates in December and I officially graduate in December, too (though I’m pretty much done now) – so we WILL BE FREE SOON!!!! We’re planning a freedom celebration/party the weekend after graduation and I can.not.wait.

We’ve done a little bit of traveling, but not much. We went to Chile in March, which was a lot of fun, but to continue the FREEDOM theme – I have a celebration trip planned for February 2018.

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The dogs are doing well. I’ve been having Molly’s hair shaved because I couldn’t keep up with the shedding. Something had to give. Henry’s hanging in there with the diabetes. I think we finally have him on the right insulin regimen. Crazy to think he’s 11 years old now.

I can’t remember if I posted about the cabin, but we closed in February and have had a contractor working on it since then. We go out there every other weekend or so as time permits, but we haven’t really rushed him because we’ve been busy. The goal is for it to be done by the time we’re both done with school. We’re on track for that.

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I haven’t been great about uploading pictures, but I’m working on getting everything to flickr now. I can’t wait to catch up. I have 17k pics on my phone right now so we’ll see how far I get.

I feel like I’ve been keeping it together for the past 3 years (since I started the PhD program) – but just barely. I really can’t express the freedom I’m starting to feel and the energy I’m feeling for other things/hobbies/traveling/etc.

27 days!

I’ve been hanging in there with the health and fitness, but – to be honest – it’s a struggle. I haven’t gained any more weight, but I haven’t lost any, either. I am still 30 pounds above my lowest, which is fine for now.

I just started with a new trainer at a small studio (maybe 2 months ago?) after taking a long break. I joined a new gym, too.

I’d really very much like to go back to 2012ish days when health and fitness were a hobby.  I see it on the horizon.

Anyway. I’m still around. Things are winding down. Looking forward to FREEDOM.

 

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Sooo … I’m a day away from completing another Whole 30. I don’t know what has happened this time, but I feel fine. Completely unaffected. It’s not emotionally challenging, anyway – as in the past. I could keep doing this indefinitely, I think. (Not that I will …)

I had a headache for the first week or so, but now I feel great. In fact, I totally recognize the shift in how I feel.

The mid-afternoon blood sugar crashes and complete exhaustion I’d come home with after inevitably having some sort of sugary snack? GONE. This is huge.

Also gone? Ravenous hunger. I’m rarely hungry.

One interesting thing I’ve noted: I only crave sugar after late-day meals. It seems as if I start to think about sugar every.single.time I eat dinner (and sometimes after a late lunch). Only after I’ve eaten, though. It’s sort of strange that it’s so prominent and so predictable. I don’t know what’s going on.

I really feel great, though.

I’m going to keep on with it, but add dairy. I miss butter. I also have a box of chocolates that were given to me as a gift the night before I started this – so I’m going to get those out. I’ve been thinking about them all month as the sugar cravings would hit. Otherwise, I’m going to keep on keeping on.

It’s been so easy this time around. Weird.

I think being able to have potatoes this time has made a difference. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.
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I’ve been weighing (despite Whole 30 advice not to) because of our weight loss challenge. Right now, I’ve lost 8.8 pounds and Jon has lost 14.8. I’m going to weigh on Tuesday for an “official” weight loss amount to close out the 30 days – but I’m sure it will be close to today’s weight.

3 of us (couples) have lost 63.5 pounds as of this morning (haven’t heard from the 4th couple yet)!!

That seems crazy. 63.5 pounds!

We’re all doing the Whole 30 – the 2 other couples for the first time – so it seems like it’s definitely been a good thing.
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I have a few pics of the things we’ve been eating:

Jon made this breakfast one day: sauteed kale, leftover crockpot pork, eggs.
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Last weekend he made salmon cakes using a little almond flour.
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We went out to dinner one night, so I had to make the best of it with a plain baked potato, mushrooms that had been sauteed in oil, and plain broccoli. I don’t like steak (which is what Jon had), so this was the best option. We’ve actually been to this place several times this month. One time I had a plain burger and another they had grilled shrimp for their special (not a regular menu item) – so I’ve been able to add some protein to these sides. Who knows about the oil, but I did the best I could.
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Chicken burgers with guacamole.
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Our version of fajitas: Jon marinated chicken and peppers and baked them (plus guacamole).
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I made some applesauce in the crockpot.
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Sunday prep.
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I’ve been eating way too many potatoes.
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Made some mayo several times to make tuna salad.
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I’ve become addicted to these things that I lovingly call “crack water.” I typically don’t drink anything but water, coffee and unsweet tea, but I tried these for the first time this month and am now addicted to various flavors. I don’t know how I feel about the “natural flavors” – but they became my afternoon “treat” – so I’m thinking this is better than reese’s PB cups.
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I had a meeting at Panera one afternoon and had to go straight from that to pick up MC. They had a pan of warm chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven, so I bought one to take to him. YES, I MIGHT BE CRAZY. SO tempting, but I didn’t even lick my fingers when I got chocolate on them when I broke the cookie in half. (He’s had a little disastrous haircut situation, hence the lack of bangs and crazy hair.)
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I haven’t started exercising yet, but I downloaded (and paid for, which boosts motivation a little) an app – so I’m going to try to get up a little earlier this week and do some 20-30 min home workouts.

I will probably head back to the greenway once it’s light past 6PM.
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We are allegedly set to close on the cabin on Tuesday. We’ve been under contract since early October, so we’ll see. There are major renovations to be done, but it’s a very rural community (there is literally ONE licensed contractor in the entire county) – so we needed to secure the ability to do everything before feeling comfortable about moving forward. Jon and I can’t, for example, do the well or install an HVAC system.

We’ve been going out there, but will be SO glad when it’s ours and we can start working on it.

We’ve had a drought, so we didn’t know that we have a really great stream right by the cabin. We saw the stream bed, of course, and a small stream (and the cabin was on a spring-fed water system) but had no idea that it would be LOUD and AWESOME until recently. It’s what realtors would list as “musical,” for sure.

We’re really excited about it. I can’t believe this place was just abandoned. We lucked out.

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I am really dragging my feet on the resolution thing this year.  I think I needed some time to think about what might be realistic – and what is actually important.  I could say weight loss and managing stress and all of the typical stuff I lean toward – but I’m just … tired of that?

I’ve been working on pulling my head out of the sand, prioritizing my time/energy/physical presence, and freeing up emotional space – and it’s been pretty liberating.  I think that’s what I want to continue.  I want to change things.  So … I guess it’s as simple (ha!) as that.

My pants are too tight?  Either lose weight or buy some new clothes.  Those are the choices.

I’m not going to wallow in stress/angst about things I can change.

I’m tired of my own bitching.

Brené Brown posted some questions on Facebook the other day that I like:

1. What do I want more of in my life?

2. How do I let go of what’s no longer serving me?

3. What will make me feel more alive? Braver?

4. At the end of every day and at the end of every year, I need to know that I contributed more than I criticized. How have I contributed and what will that look like moving forward?

I know what I want more of out of life: the feeling I had when I took control of the rental house situation and changed something that had been bothering me, the feeling I had when I realized I’d taken control of my health and lost 100 pounds, the feeling I ALWAYS  have when I just do what I know needs to be done.

So I guess I’ll be working on strengthening what I started in 2016.

I  hate feeling powerless – especially when it’s self-inflicted.

How do I let go of this stuff?  I don’t know.  Resolve.

What will make me feel more alive? Braver?  Trusting myself.

Regarding #4 – that applies to the powerlessness situation, but in ways I can’t really articulate. The contributed vs. criticized thing is something that really resonates, though.  I think I’ve gotten bogged down in some negativity lately and have tried too hard to work with that (and people who lean that way) vs. being someone who contributes more than criticizes.

I feel the the exact feeling of powerlessness (i.e., the rental house situation) when I allow myself to be swayed by other people and their negativity in conversations/actions.

So, anyway.  More being true to myself this year.
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Jon and I have gotten ourselves into a weight loss challenge with 3 other couples.  We’re going for highest percentage of weight loss at the end of 6 months – $100 on the line.  We’ve got a color-coded spreadsheet and a group text going, etc.

This is JUST the boost in motivation I needed.  The $300 for the winning couple isn’t even the motivation – I just like to win.  And this is something I can win.

We started on the 1st, of course, along with every other resolutioner.  I’m down 6.2 pounds today, which is REALLY indicative of the shit I’ve been eating.  Together, Jon and I are down 13.2 pounds, which is -3.1%.  We’re tied with another couple for the lead.

Should be interesting to see what happens over the course of 6 months.  We set that goal specifically to encourage everyone to stick with it over the long haul vs. just losing some weight in January.  That would have been too easy.

We’re doing a Whole 30 to detox, so I’m on day 8.  I feel ok.  Everyone else is doing it for the first time, so I’ve actually had fun helping them learn how to read labels and cook new things.

We’ve been sending pics of meals here and there, so I have a little bit of a record of what I’ve been eating (at least for the first couple of days). Looks like I relied pretty heavily on potatoes at the beginning of the week.

(Jon made a beef thing in the crockpot one day.)

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(He also made some homemade sausage, so I had that for breakfast nearly every day with leftovers.)

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(I ate quite a few turkey burgers for lunch.)

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We had carnitas salads from Chipotle 3 nights in a row because … it’s easy? It’s right down the street and we can order online and we were busy after work, etc. Also – it felt like a “treat” by the 4th or 5th day, so it was easy to do it again the next couple of days.

Some in the group are having to stop sodas and fast food and SMOKING and really completely overhaul things, so I have no room to complain about the minor headache I had for a couple of days.

I’m glad we’re doing it, though, primarily because it has opened my eyes to how many “treats” I had come to expect.  Eating at home hasn’t changed much, but it’s CRAZY how many times I have wanted a “treat” when we’ve gone out somewhere.

We went to see a movie one night and my mind just immediately started thinking about all of the restaurants nearby and I wanted ice cream or hot chocolate or dessert after the movie, etc.  It was crazy how I just immediately went to food when the goal was simply to go see a movie after work.

Sugar has been the hardest part, of course.  I start craving it around 3PM and I’ve been battling it every night.  Hopefully that will start to recede soon.  In the meantime, I’m relying on pineapples and oranges and apples.

We haven’t started exercising yet, but Jon re-joined the running group and has already signed up for a race. His oldest child (son) is participating with him, so that will be fun for them.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I’m re-evaluating and thinking about how I want to move forward.  I feel like I’ve tried everything and the only things I’ve really stuck with and enjoyed over the long haul have been strength training (with a trainer) and running (alone).  I am NOT competitive when it comes to this stuff – and really prefer the isolation of running alone (but with a training group) and having a private trainer.  I have never stuck with group classes.  I really dislike yoga.  Etc.  So, I don’t know yet.  I need to do something soon, though, because I feel stiff and creaky.

I’ve contemplated downloading an app or otherwise trying to do something at home – but I’ve never enjoyed that or been successful at it, so I don’t know.
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We got a little bit of snow yesterday, so that was fun.  Molly LOVES it, of course.

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Yesterday was bedding washing day, but they wanted a nap in the big bed, anyway – for THREE HOURS. It was a nice lazy day.

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I’m working on uploading my 2016 backlog of pics. I would be very upset if I lost them – but it’s also crazy to erase the year from memory just because I wasn’t in a good place.

(The wood stove was BY FAR the best purchase of 2016. I think I left that off the survey last post.)

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There are actually a lot of fun things I want to remember.  Like, how it’s probably not a good idea to give a 2yo some ice cream for the ride home.

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So it’s been 6 months?  Wow.

I totally abandoned the youtube channel I last wrote about when I started working full-time again.

I still weigh about the same +/- a few pounds, so that’s not great –  but not the end of the world. I’m still stuffing myself into my clothes until I work up the energy to do something about it.

I briefly contemplated deleting the youtube stuff just now, but … what the hell?  Who knows where I’ll be in a few months?  Maybe I’ll feel like revisiting that idea.
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2016 was bad.  There’s really no way around it and no way to put a positive spin on it.  I just scanned through my post at the end of 2015 and it’s really clear that this year was just … not as great.  It’s depressing to sit and look through happier times.

I said in that post that I wanted to eliminate some stress and stop doubting myself – and I’m fairly impressed that I’ve actually accomplished that – but it has come with a cost.

I haven’t been great about uploading pics throughout the past year, but let’s do this, anyway, so I can look back next year and hopefully feel better about an improved year:

What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

Nothing, really.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I’m pretty sure I said I wanted to work on managing stress and self-doubt.

I mostly did that.  I’m likely not managing stress in the BEST ways possible, but I took care of some things that had been bothering me for a while.

Example?  I fired the property management company that we’d hired 4 or so years ago to manage our rental house.  It was one of those things that I wasn’t sure I could manage properly (i.e., finding tenants if needed, dealing with leases, dealing with fixing things, etc.) given my limited free time/energy – but I was always SO frustrated when I dealt the company – mostly because I was frustrated with myself for doubting that I could deal with it on my own. I wanted more control over what was happening to/in my property/house and I didn’t like the way the leasing agent dealt with things – but I doubted I could deal with it, on many fronts (i.e., I hate dealing with money and taking it from people).

Our tenants moved out at the end of October and left the place in somewhat bad shape and I was PISSED.  I was also pissed at our agent’s response.  So?  I fired her and spent a few weeks doing some improvements (i.e., had the floors refinished and had the place cleaned, etc.) and wound up with fabulous tenants and all is well.

It sounds crazy, but I was SERIOUSLY agitated by this situation for YEARS and feel SO MUCH BETTER having taken control.  Also?  Between raising the rent and firing the leasing agent, I’m making $200 more per month – so that’s a definite plus.

So I guess this applies to #1?  I’m a landlord for the first time.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Some friends had babies.

Did anyone close to you die?

No.

What countries did you visit?

Germany and Czech Republic!  This was a definite highlight of the year.  Jon had to go to Germany for work and it coincided with my spring break, so we added a few days and went to Prague.  I spent the week in Germany reading and writing while Jon worked and everyone thought I was crazy and worried that I was bored – but I seriously needed a week alone (most of the day) in a hotel room.  It was AWESOME.

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We also took Jon’s child #3 and MC to Florida – so not really a “country” – but I’m going to adapt this question to encompass all visits to different places.

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I went to San Diego with Jon for a work thing (for him).

upload Making sure I'm free of radioactive isotopes. 😜😜

I presented at a work/school conference in New Orleans and Jon was able to come with me.  (I actually went to New Orleans twice in 2016 for work/school stuff, but the second time was a quick trip for a conference where nothing fun happened, so I don’t really count it.)

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What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

Little bit more happiness.

What moments from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Honestly, that rental house thing really bugged me for a long time (years!).  It was pretty liberating to take control of that situation.  A few other very similar situations happened, so I guess the conquering self-doubt stuff is what is etched.

I wanted to do it (stop doubting), I set it as a resolution/plan, I did it despite the fear, and I feel SO MUCH BETTER – in all situations. 

Imagine that.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

See above.

What was your biggest failure?

Weight gain/poor health.  I’m still 25-30 pounds higher than my ideal (for me) weight.  I didn’t really do anything to lose the weight I gained, but I stopped the gain – so I guess that’s good?

I feel like shit, though.  Worn down.  Health and fitness just had to take a back seat in 2016 to some other things that I really needed to deal with.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

No, just feel bad.  I’m eating poorly and I haven’t exercised in a couple months – which I don’t think has happened in a really long time – so I feel creaky and achy and my stomach hurts and blah.  It’s not good.

What was the best thing you bought?

I started to come out of a funk in late November/early December and felt like shopping and caring again – so I bought some clothes that make me happy.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

I don’t know?

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Eh.  I just don’t even want to get into the election because “appalled and depressed” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been so shocked/confused/pissed.  It caused me to re-evaluate some relationships and my investment in them because I just can’t even deal any more.

Where did most of your money go?

Maintaining life and a household and pets and kids and all that.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Nothing, really.  I’m excited about some things to come, though.

What song will always remind you of 2016?

None.  I don’t really listen to music.  This has definitely been the year of politics and true crime podcasts, though. I’m obsessed.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Sadder, for sure.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter, for sure.
c) richer or poorer? Richer, I think.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

More fun. More exercise.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Eh.  I don’t know. Maybe less sugar/reliance on food for comfort/coping/fun.

How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas with a 2.5 year old is AWESOME.  MC asked for drums, a light saber (this is totally the year of Stars Wars – he’s obsessed!) and a firetruck.  Santa brought all of those things.

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Jon cooked a big dinner on Christmas Eve and all of his kids and their partners came over for that. We had our traditional Chinese dinner on Christmas night with everyone, too. Jon’s mom came for a quick visit a week or so before. My mom is visiting this weekend. Jon’s work holiday party was fun (and gave me a reason to get my hair cut and fancied up). Etc.

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The whole season has been a lot of fun.

Did you fall in love in 2016?

I’m always in love. I love my family.

What was your favorite TV program?

I didn’t watch much tv this year.  I can’t think of anything – at all.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I don’t hate people, generally.

What was the best book you read?

I don’t know.  I don’t remember reading anything but work/school related stuff.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

I discovered several true crime podcasts that I totally binged once I couldn’t take politics anymore.  I found My Favorite Murder early on and subsequently started listening to Last Podcast on the Left once I heard about it on MFM.  Now I’m on to binging on other random true crime ones that I’ve found via random searches.  Love.

What did you want and get?

I can’t think of anything I really wanted.

What did you want and not get?

A sane president.

What was your favorite film of this year?

I don’t think I saw a movie at all this year.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 36. No memory of it and I have no pics for reference, so I’m guessing nothing.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A little more happiness.  Less difficulty transitioning back to work.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Non-existent.  I’m having fun buying clothes now, though – so maybe 2017 will be more fun.

What kept you sane?

Jon.  The stability, friendship and love that I know is always present.  He’s the best person I know and I’m so lucky to be doing this life with him.

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Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I really don’t care about this sort of thing.

What political issue stirred you the most?

I don’t have the energy to get into this.

Who did you miss?

Nobody

Who was the best new person you met?

Not sure that I met anyone new that’s overly noteworthy.

This child, though?

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I LOVE watching him develop into a person with his own ideas/opinions/etc.  I say this about every age, but 2.5 is the BEST age.  He talks non-stop and is just … a little person.  I really, really love it.

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He is the best kid.  Seriously.  Super smart, sweet, kind.  I love that we can carry on full conversations and he just … gets things now. Like a person.

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Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

Just do whatever needs to be done.  Take control. Live life with confidence. Fuck politeness.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I really just don’t like music.

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I’m glad I wrote all of this out and forced myself to look back a little at the year.  I’m not as depressed as I was when I started.  Some good things definitely happened.

It was just a crazy year.  I spent half of it in classes and half back at work – two completely different lives.  Health and fitness took a major hit, but I feel like I’m in a new phase of life.  I feel more confident, more ready to be DONE with BS, more capable of being ok with change and stress – and more flexible to adapt to all of it.

I needed to put my head down and plow through some hard things and I did and I think I see the light on the other side.

Some other noteworthy 2016 things: Jon and I celebrated our 10th anniversary (by doing nothing, which is our style, but still – TEN YEARS!).

Also, he cut part of a finger off and passed out and scared the shit out of me and then couldn’t run a half marathon he had trained for because the doctor told him not to get his blood pumping too much, because this would happen:

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It was awful, but also kind of amazing to watch his body heal itself. The way he cut it off meant there was nothing to stitch or reattach – so it just had to heal. Crazy.

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We have some fun things planned for 2017 and (despite the fear, dread and embarrassment I feel for our country) I’m super excited.

First up?  We’re buying a raggedy cabin (and 39 acres) out in the middle of nowhere in a nearby rural Appalachian community.  We’re set to close in a couple of weeks.

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Maybe we’re crazy?

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We’ve hired a contractor, so I’m hoping everything will be done by spring.  I’m planning to post here as we work on it so I can track the progress.  I am SO excited about renovating this place and spending weekends out there.

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It’s been abandoned for several years, so there’s a lot of work to do – but it’s got good bones and a ton of potential.

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Also?  I am graduating in 2017.  No doubt.  I’m just plowing through.  All of my free energy has gone to my dissertation lately.  I’m about halfway done and on track to graduate in the summer (fingers crossed).  It’s going to happen in 2017 because I am just DONE.

Did I ever mention that Jon is doing an MBA program?  Yeah.  He’s due to graduate in December 2017, so 2017 will be the year of FREEDOM.  THANK GOD.  Seriously. 

I am going to do something to celebrate when we’re both out of school and done with classes and papers.  FOREVER AND EVER. We’re too old for this shit.

We have some fun travel plans, too.
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I am so excited right now – and so glad I sat down to write this post.

I am going to make 2017 a better year.

I’ll update later this weekend with resolutions – because I love that sort of thing – and because I clearly need to write here more often.  It helps so much.

 

 

Soooo …. I’ve gained weight.  Like, noticeable weight.  I think – based on my clothes – that my weight started creeping up here and there last year.  It has gone crazy since about this time last summer, though.  I think I’ve gained 20-25 pounds since last June.  I know that I’ve gained 10 of those pounds since January of this year.  I feel it.  The jiggling and the tight clothes and the puffy face.

Something obviously has to change.

I think some old/bad habits just snowballed.  I’m not necessarily eating poor quality food and I haven’t reverted back to eating fast food or anything like that – but I’m eating too much/too often and I’m choosing things like pizza and bagels and ice cream WAY too much.  There was a stretch where I was probably eating ice cream daily.

So, anyway.  It’s time to do something about it.  I said – back on 1/1/16 – that my health needs to be a priority this year – so I need to get on it.

I created a youtube channel and I’m going to do short vlogs each day (hopefully – maybe weekly at the very least) to document what I do to lose 30 pounds.  I need to shake it up and do something different/fun that provides some accountability.

I’ve thought about doing this for a while – just haven’t been ready to commit.  I was SUPER grumpy yesterday as I recorded the videos and I think it’s because I was making a commitment and putting a goal out there – a hard commitment/difficult goal.

It really doesn’t matter if zero people watch.  I apparently need some form of responsibility to something to keep myself accountable.  I need a reason to stop and think about my actions.  It also REALLY helps to talk it out – whether written or verbal – so … yeah.  I don’t have a ton of time and have no idea how to edit videos, so it’s going to have to be simple and crappy and recorded on my phone – but hopefully it will give me whatever I need to be successful.

I weighed 196.4 yesterday.  (!!!!!)  I need to be around 165.

So, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCizRTJmcPi2QdYxyUlhXdSQ

I’m sure it will mostly be a bunch of bitching.

I’m planning to keep this blog going, too.  If you can call what I do “going.”

This is the only whole body picture I could find taken within the past couple of weeks.  So this is it – 30 pounds up.

Making sure I'm free of radioactive isotopes. 😜😜

Other than that, life is good.

I’m free! Classes are officially over and I’m moving on to the next phase THANK GOD. I think I can definitely say that I am DONE with classes. Period. Forever. It took just about every ounce of willpower I had to power through the last couple of months. I’m just SO READY to focus on my own work/dissertation.

I accepted a new position at my job, so I’m going back tomorrow. Super excited/nervous. It’s a new situation with a new title and new responsibilities and lots of things I’ve never done before (like being someone’s boss) – but I’m ready.

We’re about to celebrate MC’s 2nd birthday! Unbelievable.

I can't believe I blinked and 2 years passed. 😳😬😍

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Jon and I recently spent some time in San Diego (for a conference for him) and New Orleans (for a conference for me).  It worked out that I was able to meet him in San Diego, then he followed me to New Orleans – and then he went to Germany.  Crazy – but it worked out, we had a lot of fun around our work obligations and we didn’t have to go weeks in a row without seeing each other.

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We don’t have any major vacation plans this year outside of a short trip to the beach with MC and Jon’s child #3. Looking forward to that, for sure.

💤💤💤

So I have this goal to post once a month – just to keep up with life – but I somehow completely missed March. Oh well. It was busy.

We went to Germany! And the Czech Republic!

Jon needed to spend a week working in Germany, so he planned it during my spring break and we added a few days for fun. We pretty much just looked at a map and picked an easy/close place we’d never been for the fun part – which turned out to be Prague.

We flew into Frankfurt and immediately drove to Nuremberg to stay overnight to break up the drive to Prague. It was one of those situations where we needed to stay awake to adjust, but were sooo tired by the time we got there. We wound up just doing a lot of walking and looking around and eating that first day.

Taking a break from life for a little bit. ❤️👍🎉😍

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The next day, we went to the Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds before leaving town.  We did a guided listening tour and just wandered around on our own.

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We stopped along the way to have lunch in some small town, but made it to Prague with enough time to walk around quite a bit that night before being completely exhausted.

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The next day, we started super early and walked … and walked … and walked. That’s pretty much all we did the entire day. Walked and looked at stuff.

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My watch says we walked over 7 miles today. I'm guessing at least 3 were uphill. 🙀👣😴

Easter market!

Got lost quite a few times and wandered down random streets.

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It was worth it, though. Fun day.

We stopped for a drink at a restaurant before going to lunch that day (because, why not?) and I started to feel a little itchy by the time we were leaving. By the time we finished at the second place, I knew I was developing hives.

We stopped at a pharmacy where they gave me some Zyrtec, which seemed to help keep the big welts at bay. Only a few popped out on my face, anyway.

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I don’t know what brings this on, but it’s the second time this has happened. Once in a small town in Germany and now in Prague. I think this time it was honey because I had some local honey in a drink. I have no idea what else would cause this. It scares me when it hits my neck and face because I worry about my throat/suffocation which I know is unlikely – but SO ARE HIVES, IN GENERAL.

We watched a movie and took a nap and it was totally gone (expect for some small patches on my arm) by the time we were ready to go to dinner.

We used Yelp to find a place to have our weekly Mexican & Margarita night (where we really missed Jon’s child #3 and MC because this is something we do with them).

Found a place to have our Mexican + margarita night over here. The money situation hasn't ceased to be a little jarring.

The next morning, we had a huge breakfast before heading to a concentration camp memorial outside of Prague.

Last morning in Prague before heading back to Germany. #breakfastfeast

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I’d read about this one, which was used for propaganda purposes, and was interested to go despite it being a little out of the way.

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We had to walk through this super creepy tunnel, which was the only downside. 1/3 of a mile didn’t sound all that bad until it became twisty and I couldn’t see daylight and some people up ahead – like, the ONLY OTHER PEOPLE THERE – started smoking. (Who does that?)

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After that, we headed back to Germany – except the interstate was closed just outside of the town where this memorial was located – so we got really, really lost in the middle of nowhere/the side of a mountain in the Czech Republic.

And it looked like this (once we hit the main road again):

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I knew we were on a mountain only because I could feel the elevation change in my ears, which was creepy.

After that, we spent a week in Germany. Jon went to work each day and I worked at the hotel, which was great. I really needed a week with no distractions. I wrote a ton and read two books, etc. Much needed.

We went out each night with various people from his office, which was fun. On Friday, his office organized a group hike & lunch at a small hut/sorta restaurant in the middle of the woods – so we did that.

Beautiful day hiking in the Black Forest with Jon's co-workers. Stopped along the way and had a fantastic blueberry pancake, which is totally something every hike should have.❤️☀️❄️🍴👣

I think we hiked 4 miles. Maybe 5. I had a HUGE blueberry pancake in the middle, which is totally something every hike should have.

We had to drive back to Frankfurt that night for an early morning flight – so we did that and stayed at a hotel at the airport before heading home the next day.

Fun trip. We missed everyone, though.

I don’t think Molly missed us at all. In fact, I’m pretty sure she was disappointed to leave the boarding place that let her play in mud. (!!)

I think it's safe to assume Molly had fun at the boarding place while we were gone. 😂❤️

Henry stayed with our vet and didn’t come home until Monday, which was unfortunate.

I think we were all happy once we were back in one place.

❤️❤️❤️

Henry came home today. ❤️❤️❤️

All is well again – and life is back to normal.

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❤️❤️❤️

I’m REALLY looking forward to classes ending in 3 weeks. REALLY.

I am so burned out. These 2 years have been good, but I’m done with classes. For real.

I’m looking forward to having more time to live and focus on other things (like sun and warmth and good health and fitness and tv and my own work/dissertation).

 

Wow. A lot of time has passed.

Well, I don’t have melanoma. That was stressful around the time I last posted and then I just forgot about it. Funny how that works.

Life has sorta just been meandering along.

A list is the way to go here:

School’s good.  I’m in the midst of a crazy semester of really intense classes.  One is so abstract that the material is nearly incomprehensible.  I love it, though.  Best class I’ve had.  I’ve formed my dissertation committee.  Comp exam will happen in the next few months (fingers crossed).

I caught some kind of crazy stomach thing and wound up in the ER last week after 24 hours had passed with zero fluids being able to stay in my body.  Everyone in this house has been sick for, like, the past MONTH.  It’s getting crazy.  I’ve barely eaten anything but crackers and cereal since it happened, but I’m feeling like I might be able to eat real food today.

We had a crisis situation with Henry.  I got home from school late one afternoon and found him sitting in vomit and urine in his crate.  He was shaking and it was awful.  I bathed him and tried to check him out, but he wouldn’t move much.  Just sat with his tail between his legs and stared at me, wide-eyed.  I took him straight to our vet and his temp was low and his blood sugar was sky high, etc. We ran out of needles when we were visiting my mom during the holidays and went to Walgreens to get some (typically order/get them from our vet).  We took his insulin and explained everything, etc. (largely because they treated us with skepticism and were clearly reluctant to sell needles until they knew our entire social history, which is a problem for another day, but whatever).  They gave us what we thought were the right needles, but they weren’t.  So he’s been getting the wrong dose of insulin (too little) for a couple of months. The situation just deteriorated over time.  He stayed overnight at the vet’s office and was in much better shape the next day.  He’s completely back to normal and I recognize now that he didn’t feel well nearly the entire time he wasn’t getting the right dose.  He had stopped playing with Molly and was pretty grumpy with everyone and just laid around.  We just attributed it to … idk.  Old age?  Just thought he was grumpy.  Now?  Totally ready to play and bark and drive us crazy.  We feel really bad about the whole thing.  Lesson learned.

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We’ve started some of the house projects we have planned for the year.  The first project: our hideous fireplace.  I’ve hated it since the day I saw it.  It’s a wood burning fireplace, but the previous owners ran a gas line and made that possible, too.  Jon wanted a stove, though.

Here’s what it looked it:

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You can see how ugly it was in this cute pic, too:

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I just can’t fathom why they thought that hideous tile would be a good idea.

We hired a chimney company to build a hearth, insert a stove and do some work outside (chimney lost a couple of bricks out there). They’re also getting the wood stove we have in the basement going (new pipes or something).

Anyway, they finished the stove/hearth this week.

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I’m happy with how it turned out. We had to do something to the brick since there was no way to match the new hearth to the old brick – so we went with white. I don’t know that I’m going to leave it like this – might paint it – but it’s staying this way for now.

Friday night. ❤️❤️❤️

We have a contractor coming this week to start on a bunch of other stuff. Love/hate this sort of thing.

I don’t know what I last posted about MC, but he is like … a little person now. 20 months old in a few days.

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His little hand doesn’t look like a baby hand anymore, but it’s still so sweet.

He has strong opinions and clearly knows how to say “no” now. He throws fits like a typical nearly 2 year old, but he’s a really good kid. He’s not mischievous and he stops doing things when told, etc.

He asks for 3 tv shows: Barney (“Ba”), Elmo (“Momo”) and Bob’s Burgers (“Ba Burg”). We have an Amazon Echo that pretty much exclusively plays Barney or Wheels on the Bus. We do a lot of dancing to both.

I suspect his 2nd birthday might be Barney themed. He’s a big fan.

He loooooves Poppy (Jon). He also loves the dogs and is great with them. He can be rougher with Molly, of course, but he gets frustrated when we stop them from playing when she starts to get a little too rambunctious. She’s just a little large and accidentally knocks him down, etc. He knows “hush” and “go” really well and uses both with the dogs pretty frequently.

(Henry had an allergy issue and ripped some hair out a month or so ago. It was a rough few months for him, but he’s completely healed. Just still looks kinda raggedy.)

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He probably knows how to use an iPad better than I do, which is crazy.

He’s a great eater. He pretty much always asks for cheese (cottage cheese) and blueberries. Definitely his favorites.

He knows his name now (“Mace”) and has a ton of other words.

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I suspect he’s going to be an animal lover, in general. He likes to watch birds and squirrels and squeals with delight when he sees them.

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He also loves stickers right now (“sticks”). And books, as always.

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(I look a little crazed/awful here – but whatever. This is life. And it’s what I want to remember.)

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Ok, enough with the pics.

It’s just crazy he’s already at this stage where he can ask for a specific tv show, run into the LR, grab a blanket (“bick”), crawl onto the couch and then simultaneously pat the spot next to him with one hand (for me to sit) and hand me the remote (“mote”) with the other.

How did this happen so quickly??

I’ll come back with more to say about exercise and all that. Out of time.

I had really grand plans for posting on 1/1 and talking about my resolutions and all that, but … I don’t know what happened. I wound up taking down our Christmas stuff and spent the day focused on cleaning every surface of my house.

Jon and I spent the next day having our annual “plan day.” We get out calendars and budgets and spreadsheets and essentially plan the year. We talk about what needs to happen, what trips need to be taken, etc. Works really well for us. We’ve been doing it for years. Life is less hectic now that he doesn’t travel so much, but we’re planners – so we plan.

My primary resolution this year: To live again – not just survive.

I’m ready. Classes are ending (end of April!), I have a dissertation plan, MC is growing up and things are more routine at home, etc. I have the mental space to move forward now.

So … There will definitely be a renewed focus on health.

I don’t exactly know what that means just yet – but I want to enjoy exercise again and I want to just … focus on feeling well – mind AND body.
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I got an apple watch for Christmas (from Jon) and it totally feeds my love of tracking (health) numbers, so that’s been fun.

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I’m still playing around with it and figuring it all out, but I like a good goal – and I love to have reminders constantly available. It’s perfect for building new focus. Fun AND helpful.

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I’ve made a point to get at least 3 miles in since the day after Christmas and have been successful (except yesterday was just 2 because it was getting dark and creepy on the greenway and I was alone). It’s surprising how motivating something as simple as a watch prompt can be.

I’m also officially back to the trainer and to boot camp.

As far as food goes? Just need to stop eating so much shit. We’ve been eating pizza and Mexican food and other quick stuff WAY too much.

We really like food and like each other, obv, so our plan is to stick to a night out together once a week (just the 2 of us) – and to try a new (to us) restaurant each time. I’m already making a list. Should be fun.

I just want life to sloooow down. And I want more fun and adventure.

I’m ready to prioritize that.
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I had my annual dermatology whole body check yesterday and the skin woes continue.

I had another spot blasted off my face (after a couple of weeks of topical medication that wasn’t doing anything). Fortunately the spot was much smaller and is consequently not so blistery.

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I’m all freaked out, though, because a mole on my back pretty substantially grew (after zero growth all other years) and passed the 7mm mark that apparently triggers concern regarding melanoma.

So … that’s off to be biopsied and I spent a significant portion of last night googling and freaking myself out EVEN THOUGH I KNOW BETTER.

I also have a spot on my foot that they “watch” every year – but it’s off to be biopsied, too, even though it didn’t grow.

They always tell me about the ABCDE rule:

“The ABCDE rule is another guide to the usual signs of melanoma. Be on the lookout and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:

A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.”

My foot meets A, B & C. My back meets D & E.

I will be SO FUCKING PISSED if I’m sideswiped by gd skin cancer.

This stuff if pretty much occupying my thoughts right now, especially since I have cancer paranoia ANYWAY.

I’m going to stop googling, though.

The internet is the best/worst thing that’s ever happened to me.
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How about a cute baby picture?

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This is his reaction when I climb into his tent with him:

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Yeah, I never say no.

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I’m at home alone tonight – a fairly rare event these days – and I’m still totally procrastinating on work for the upcoming semester, so what the hell:

(Except I can’t remember a damn thing without looking back at pictures because the year has been a total blur.)

(And now I’m weepy having watched MC go from squishy baby to little boy in such a short span of time.)

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1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

Taught a class (of my own design).

Learned a bunch of stuff I’d never heard of before (like hierarchical linear modeling – WTF, right?), but am now fascinated with.

Pushed my limits (and fears) with the hiking.

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The Virginia Creeper.

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Entertained a kid in a pediatrician’s office waiting room for TWO HOURS – trying not to touch anything because GERMS.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I think so. I can’t completely remember what they were – and I’m too lazy to go back and look – but I’ll do that before the 1st.

I know I’ll make more. I love it. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My aunt died a few months ago. I made it to Memphis to see her the day she died. Super quick trip, but I’m very glad I was able to do it.

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5. What countries did you visit?

None.

Vacation was in Utah. Had some abstracts accepted at some conferences, so I traveled to New Orleans, DC and Denver for all of that.

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Seein' stuff.

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We made it to Memphis and Atlanta, too, of course, to visit our families.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

Less stress. More monotony.

7. What moments from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Utah, for sure.

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I'm really glad I didn't let my fear of heights hold me back (most of the time).  Also glad I didn't die.  👍👍

MC’s 1st birthday.

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Days like this:

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Halloween. Because:

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8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not dropping out of school.

Also:

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Those conferences (and the workshops I presented) were a pretty big deal, too, as far as my CV goes.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Stressing too much about things out of my control. Not trusting that I’m capable and competent and all that jazz.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

No.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

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And …

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It was just time.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Jon’s child #3 (MC’s mom). She is SUCH a good mom. She has risen to the occasion in ways that have just totally blown me away.

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13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

MC’s father, but that’s not my story to tell. Let’s just say he has not risen to the occasion. In any way.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Life? I don’t know. New cars. Travel. A new water heater (surprise!). Our vet (also a surprise!).

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Utah. I love vacations.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

None. I don’t really listen to much music.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Probably neutral.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter.
c) richer or poorer? Richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Running. Exercising, in general, I guess. Focusing more on good health. I miss it (the hobby – my health is still pretty good, was just in a maintenance/survival vs. thrive mode).

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stressing. Giving in to anxiety. Doubting myself.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Somebody had a surprise visitor drop off some presents this morning. ❤🎄🎁🎅 #realbeardnextyear

Christmas was so great this year!

Jon’s kids and my brother and his girlfriend all came over on Christmas Eve for dinner. We skyped and opened presents with my mom that day, too.

We spent Christmas morning at home with just the 4 of us – me, Jon, his child #3 and MC. Jon was Santa and MC was totally blown away. Didn’t seem to have a clue that it was Jon, which surprised us.

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They left for a while to visit her mom, so Jon and I hung out at home and took naps and just had a quiet afternoon. They came back and Jon’s child #4 and her boyfriend came over – so we got out all of the leftovers and played with MC, etc.

Really fantastic holiday.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?

Not with anyone new.

This kid, though.

Poppy's home! ❤️❤️❤️ #100happydays (61/100)

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22. What was your favorite TV program?

Trailer Park Boys. Totally binged and now I’m about to start over.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I really don’t know that I “hate” anyone.

24. What was the best book you read?

Oh god. I don’t have time to read for fun. I read a couple of decent textbooks, I guess.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Don’t have one.

26. What did you want and get?

A new car.

27. What did you want and not get?

Can’t think of anything. I’m pretty spoiled.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

I saw exactly ONE movie this year (unless you count the Trailer Park Boys movies I watched on Netflix): Star Wars. It was good.

Seeing and experiencing it with Jon was better. He has this sweet story about his dad taking him to see the first one when he was a kid. He didn’t want to go because he thought it would be stupid, but was totally blown away by all of the (1970s) special effects and was an immediate fan.

He was super excited to go. We went to dinner afterward and talked about it and googled stuff and just generally had a fun night together.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 35.

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My mom and aunt came to visit a few days prior.

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We went out to breakfast and then took them to the mountains.

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Jon took the actual day off and hung out at home with me.

He's got the "where's poppy" game down.

And I got a second cake!

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30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Probably more balance. Who knew getting a PhD would be kinda hard?

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?

Nonexistent.

I just remembered that this was one of my resolutions. To dress better/learn how to dress myself. I tried for a while – and took some really shitty pictures.

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Maybe I’ll keep working on this in 2016.

Also, our room has been the last on the list – but 2016 is the year of the makeover. These pictures remind me that it needs to happen.

32. What kept you sane?

Jon. Good food. The ability to plan fun trips (AKA have something to look forward to).

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I really don’t care about this sort of thing.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I don’t have the energy to get into this.

35. Who did you miss?

All of our families live in other areas, so ….

36. Who was the best new person you met?

One of Jon’s German co-workers. I’d technically met her before when I traveled to Germany with Jon, but we became friends during her time in the US and I miss her being here.

Keep getting behind with my #100happydays because I've been too busy having fun/being happy. #thegoal (12/100)

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.

I worry too much. I need to stop.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I really just don’t like music.

So Jon and I went to a holiday party hosted by my trainer for all of her clients. It was great and she had a ton of good (super healthy) food, etc.

I was talking to two women who have worked out with us on Saturday mornings (bootcamp) before and we were kinda laughing and joking about how lazy we’ve been during the holiday season with all of the parties and food and debauchery and one of them mentioned eating a whole row of oreos the other day for a snack, blah, blah, blah. Typical end-of-year-new-resolution stuff.

This guy piped up out of nowhere and started telling us that THIS, this is the time we should be taking better care of ourselves. We should be using this time to get to the gym more often and focus on clean eating, etc. Shun the debauchery!

I actually rolled my eyes at him.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been so outright rude to a stranger before.

I wasn’t feeling well – and I was tired. And maybe I wish I could be more resolute and do what he was saying? I don’t know. I don’t think so, though.

I’m trying really hard to have peace and balance. I think that was my resolution for 2015? Or maybe 2014? I don’t know. I just know that I’ve been working on stopping the black/white thinking.

Apparently it’s working.

I surprised myself at how quickly I was saying things about how it’s not the end of the world to enjoy a party or some cookies here and there – especially since we all regularly work out and otherwise eat well and balance it, etc.

I just can’t buy in to the idea that it has to be all or nothing anymore – because that just hasn’t proven to be the case – and I guess I just don’t feel like I have to keep my opinions to myself.

That 100+ pound loss and the years of generally maintaining it (and overall good health) despite all the holiday seasons of debauchery? Earned me the eye rolling.
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I’ve been thinking about 2016 and I think balance is going to be my continued plan.

I have peace with the fact that I might gain weight here and there and I know it’s not the end of the world. It used to feel like it would be devastating and would “ruin” all of the hard work – but I’m over it. I’m not scared anymore.

I think I felt like this smaller size was a little blip – but the longer it goes on, the more confident I feel that I can maintain it. I’m NOT going to suddenly be 100 pounds heavier even if I gain 10 pounds here and there during stressful months or holidays or whatever.

Imagine that.

I’m not so naive as to think that a huge gain isn’t possible over time. I know it is. I see my weight slowly creeping up and am aware of what COULD happen.

Balance is what I need now, though. Not a freak-out, all or nothing mindset.

I’m much less focused on healthy eating/living than I used to be. The scale often tips toward junk when I’m stressed with school or life or whatever, which I feel is totally normal – but is something worthy of attention.

I need to start tipping back the other way. I’m just slightly off balance, but I feel it tipping more and more each month.

I think I was a little (maybe a lot?) misguided in the past when I’d try to focus on eliminating or lessening stress and stressful circumstances. It’s just not going to happen. I was crazy to assume I’d have that much control.

I think the better option is to try to focus on maintaining balance DESPITE the stress.

So we’ll see.

My pants are getting tighter and my body is starting to ache quite a bit from lack of exercise – so I’m definitely feeling a renewed desire to get back on track.

I also just really miss focusing on good health. It’s a fun hobby that has slowly fallen by the wayside as other things have taken priority.
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I’m going to work on pulling myself out of this funk.

I did a bunch of baking, which is always fun. I enjoy looking for new recipes and trying new things – so I spent a couple of days last week doing that. I made cookies, peanut butter/pretzel things dipped in chocolate and “chocolate caramel crack(ers).”

I'm woefully behind on #100happydays with no chance of catching up. The days are good, just busy. Today, though, there was time for cookies! 🎄🎅🍪

I took some to my work party and sent the rest to work with Jon. I like doing it – but I don’t necessarily want it all around.

We had a good weekend, too.

Did absolutely NOTHING on Saturday. Just hung out at home, mostly on the couch.

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We went to Dollywood yesterday.

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It was pretty cold – for the FIRST TIME all season – but whatever. MC passed out before the parade, so we left without seeing Santa – but it was fun.

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I’m super excited about Christmas, of course. I went a little crazy with the presents for MC, but he is SO FUN right now. Also? He’s likely the only kid I will ever get to spoil like this (since he’s likely Jon’s only grandchild to live with us) – so what the hell, right?

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We’re having a dinner (with guests, etc.) on Christmas Eve and I specifically requested ham vs. turkey because I had these little ham sliders at a party and am TOTALLY making them on Christmas Day with leftover ham.

I am also making homemade hot chocolate and doing the whole hot chocolate bar thing I keep seeing on pinterest.

And Jon always gets up super early on Christmas morning and makes homemade cinnamon rolls.

So I guess I better make sure my stretchy pants are clean.

Looking forward to it.