Friday, January 8, 2016

2015: FLYing Through A Nervous Breakdown

Anyone familiar with the Flylady system? I absolutely love her, and think it's a great system for home and life organization. "FLY" stands for Finally Loving Yourself, but in my mental shorthand, it stands for "getting your shit together." She writes a lot of articles about specific life circumtances, eg FLYing with a toddler, FLYing as a student, FLYing through a move, etc. 2015 was probably my worst year ever, and in trying to make sense of it, I am patting myself on the back for "FLYing through a nervous breakdown." 

When I say my worst year ever, I'm pretty much referring to our family's struggles with mental health and junior high dating. I don't mean to be coy, but I do try to respect my kiddo's privacy somewhat. I have read more parenting books than I can count, and we've spent the monetary equivalent of a vacation on therapy. But hallelujah, things have gotten so much better. For me, once I accepted that the situation just didn't make sense, thus I wasn't a failure for not making sense of it, things clicked into place and I felt more like myself.

No, I didn't lose the 15 pounds I picked up when I completely lost it in October. But I will. And I'm getting much better at telling myself, "You're doing the best you can," and that is a huge improvement for me. Weight loss is just one aspect of health, and as a family, we're doing all we can to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


(Musical theater nerd reference to Hamilton!)

After my meltdown last week, this has actually been a good week. My husband and I agree that just when we reach the end of our ropes is when we have a breakthrough that makes us realize everything is going to be OK.

This semester, Marlena has been working incredibly hard preparing for a few performances. It all has come together the past couple of weeks: she did a fantastic job on her Rent solo at her school concert. Then this past weekend, she did her first concert with the Allegro Music Company, the pre-professional choral group at her arts center. After a couple weeks with that group, she said her goal for the year was to get one solo. So far, she's gotten *two* solos with them, and performed the first on Saturday. It was fantastic! And most importantly, she was happy with it. She was also thrilled to be featured on the program cover! 
This is a really great group of singers and dancers, and Marlena is having a great time getting to know them. Not only are they talented musicians, but they are some truly kind kids who are supportive to each other and good influences for the younger kids.

It is an amazing feeling to see your child work hard and consistently, and reach a goal they weren't sure they *could* achieve! I, of course, was confident in her the whole time, but it's most important that *she* believe she can do it. We are incredibly proud of her! 

(Goofy music nerds letting off steam after the concert)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Self-Acceptance Wake-up Call

Do any of you read Andie Mitchell's blog? I have been a fan of hers for several years, and her latest blog post really hit home with me.
Why Self-Acceptance Matters

It's such a timely topic for me. It just hit me this morning, with true intensity, that I have been punishing myself again. I am down on myself about pretty much everything right now, doubting all my life choices on an hourly basis. The past five mornings, anxiety has woken me up at 4:30am, with my heart pounding and gut-churning worry until I go ahead and get up. My self-talk has been critical and mean. Eating has sometimes been simply to fill that sinking feeling in my tummy. That, combined with Thanksgiving, has added another five pounds to my scale, rather than the 10 I planned to lose.

I could go on and on about all the mistakes I've been making, but the bottom line is: I'm blaming myself for all my daughter's problems, and I'm punishing myself for it. All the regular Weight Watchers self-talk feels false. When the shrink tells you to lock up all the knives and medicine to keep your child safe, "if hunger isn't the problem . . . blah blah" feels like a crappy platitude.

So I needed this reminder today to be kind to myself. I promise I will practice telling myself, "You're doing the best you can," and even more importantly, I will strive to believe it.

Monday, October 19, 2015

What happened??

I got a bad surprise last week. I normally track my weight in My Fitness Pal on Thursdays. I vaguely thought, "Hm, I don't remember tracking that last Thursday, so I guess I'll have two weeks to enter." Imagine my shock when I logged in and realized my last weight check-in was September 10 - five weeks without logging my weight! That hasn't happened since I began WW in 2008! I have been weighing most days, so I had an idea of the number. But it's no accident that when I looked through my food tracker, there were many blank days where I had completely forgotten to even log in and track my daily food or exercise. Notice a pattern??

The ugly truth is I picked up 11 pounds during my anxiety meltdown and sad spell over the past five weeks. The heaviness I felt in my day-to-day life wasn't just in my chest - it was also in my gut and thighs. Boo! This photo was taken yesterday, and thankfully with the autumn clothes, I don't feel like it's noticeable.

Last Thursday, I just woke up feeling more like myself - I don't know how else to describe it. I also realized I'd forgotten to check on a fairly important work task over the same period - it just completely slipped my mind. I have had anxiety spells before, but I don't recall ever losing five weeks of my life before. This was the first time I felt unable to fully function most days, and it's something I feel I need to address with my doctor.

The situation that has been making me sad is pretty much resolved, except in my worry brain. There's nothing I can do to make it better, and I honestly think I'm the only person who is still worrying about it. Isn't there a Buddhist teaching that says something like, "Suffering comes from refusing to accept a situation?" That's so me, and I cause myself a lot of pain with my inability/refusal to just let go. I have this thing where, if a life event doesn't make any sense, I just work and work it over in my mind, until suddenly the truth sifts to the surface, and resonates with a loud "dong" in my mind. I'm not there yet, but I know when I get there, I will be at peace with it.

One thing that makes me feel better is at least I have picked back up with my exercise in the past week, and I've been filling all three circles on my Apple Watch most days. My food choices haven't been terrible, but they have been excessive pretty much every day. Both bread and sugar have welcomed me back with open arms, and neither react well with my system. 

Time to act and eat mindfully again. Time to get honest about my intake. Time to walk the walk I always say: "If the problem isn't hunger, then food isn't the answer." 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Musical Autumn

I can't even tell you how happy it makes me to be back in the swing of Marlena's musical life this autumn. Here she is with her Allegro Voice Company, part of the pre-professional division at her arts center. This is her first year with the group, and I love hearing about the talented, fun kids she's meeting there. It's at the same arts school where she takes tap and ballet.

We were all sad when her community theater group imploded, and she decided to not audition for any shows this fall. She is stage managing her school play, and having a fantastic time with that. We've also attended a few shows, and been really into musical theater soundtracks lately. I will admit that on our evening walks, she usually sings at least one Broadway number, sometimes with choreography. I'm sure our neighbors think we are insane, but it's harmless fun.

A couple weeks ago, we saw the musical Heathers with our longtime family friends. The photo above is the Broadway cast, but the community production we saw was fantastic! It was one of the first regional productions of the show, with a tiny budget, but featured fantastic singing actors. Even the ensemble was completely tight. The musical version was a bit less dark than the movie, although still not appropriate for 8th graders, but we all enjoyed it a lot. My girlfriend and I laughingly gave ourselves Bad Parent awards for this choice.

Then last week, we went with the same friends to see a high school production of Shrek The Musical. Marlena's Allegro friend played Fiona, and she did a fantastic job. It was the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the community theater we're used to. I cannot imagine the budget for this production: the costumes looked like the Broadway costumes, and every set change made my jaw drop. It actually made me really sad for the state of the arts budget at our public school.

And lastly, I am now completely addicted to the Hamilton soundtrack. Have you heard it? Wow, it's amazing! I won't even try to describe it, but I will share the review that led me to first listen to the soundtrack: Jamie Lee Curtis Hamilton review. Seriously, it's on Spotify - listen to at least the first seven numbers (through Jonathan Groff's brilliant King George number) and tell me what you think!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sometimes Half-Assed Is Good Enough

I thought I would find my Apple Watch super motivating for my activity. I do really enjoy having one device on my wrist that tracks both my heart rate and my steps. But in the few days since I got it, I've gotten the distinct impression that I've been half-assing my workouts. And you know what? It's OK. This morning I did 35 minutes of a 70-minute kickboxing DVD. Then I shut it off, fixed breakfast, and got on with my day. It was good enough. This year, I'm scheduling five early-morning workouts every week, of about 35-45 minutes each. I'm usually doing one HIIT, one steady-state cardio, two strength training, and maybe one metabolic conditioning workout. This is down from six 60-minute workouts I did a few years ago when I was trying to maintain 15 pounds lighter. 

At this point in my life, I am dealing with the beginnings of peri-menopause and helping my daughter deal with her mental health. I am lucky if I get one good night's sleep each week. I am keeping healthy food on the table, and my daughter and I take a 30-60 minute leisure walk-and-talk almost every evening, purely for relaxation and to unwind. Nothing is forever, and this is a temporary season of life. My weight is staying pretty steady, my clothes fit, and my food is pretty automated. I am content with this right now. Even on mornings when I can barely drag myself through a workout and my heart rate is pitifully low, it is OK. I feel like as long as I am getting on my workout clothes and doing *something* for 30 minutes a day, everything will be OK.

In other news, Marlena and I had the best time at the Kacey Musgraves concert on Friday. Marlena talked the rest of the weekend about how great the concert was, and what a nice, relaxing atmosphere it was. Two nice bonuses from the concert: we discovered a new band we love, Humming House. And we had a great time visiting with the dad and daughter who sat with us. It was just lovely having such a relaxing evening out with my kiddo, and watching Marlena enjoy live music with every fiber of her being is always an experience.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Powerful Article On An Important Topic

There's Always More To Say

I read this article at work earlier this week, and found myself choking back sobs at my desk. I am so very lucky to feel that my struggles with depression have been mostly mild to what Roman describes. But the way he describes his experience and feelings? That feels familiar to me, and reminds me to be more compassionate for what my daughter is experiencing now. 

It's amazing to me how you never know what people are dealing with - we can be pretty good at putting up false fronts. I discovered Roman's fitness blog a few years ago, and something about his writing always touched me. I actually follow his blog, and never fail to be interested in his Facebooks posts. At first glance, my middle-aged suburban mom life has nothing in common with this witty young bro, and my fitness routine is miles away from being as hardcore as his. So I have always had a hard time explaining the appeal of his writing to my friends and family. But after reading this post, I *get* the connection I feel to him. To Roman and all my friends and family who share these struggles, I do know that feeling of being in the hole of depression, and know how much effort it takes to simply reach out a hand for help. But know that if you are my people, I will always be here to grab hold of your hand, hard, and I won't let go.