Saturday, February 7, 2015

You know when your mom has a stroke and you get peed on at work?

 Last Friday was one of the most difficult days I've had as a teacher, and surprisingly, it had nothing to do with my job. Thursday evening, Rachel and I set out on a 5 mile run around town before having to attend a school function. I was determined to get those miles in to prove to myself that I could. Running has not been my favorite activity over the past few months. For some reason, I was really motivated on this day to complete 5 miles. Exactly 4.47 miles into my run, I get a call from my dad. I answered through my headphones and could immediately tell from his tone that something was wrong.
When I told him I was running, he said to call him after my run. I knew it couldn't wait so I demanded he tell me then. He informed me that my mother had another stroke and was in the hospital. I came to a dead halt on the side of Hwy. 78, which is not the safest place to be running in the first place. It seems like my mother's bad luck comes in two's. Breast cancer twice, now two strokes? It's crazy.
I told him that I would come to Georgia that night but he told me to wait because she was in the neuro-ICU and I couldn't see her.
Fast forward to Friday. I spent the entire day at school but can't tell you one single thing that happened on that day because I was so focused on what was going on at home. My dad isn't one to ask for help, so even if it was really bad, he wouldn't have told me. I decided to leave work early and head that way to make sure everything was okay. When I arrived, mom was in good spirits. She was unable to move her left leg and had no feeling in it at all. On top of everything that was going on, my dad had to fly to Chicago for business Monday and wouldn't be back until Thursday night. He tried to get out of the trip but couldn't. We discussed how we would manage and decided that I would take the week off to help with my mom. As much as I trust my brothers, I wasn't going to leave them to take care of everything.
Can we please talk about how much I despise being an adult?! I am too young to discuss living wills and whether or not my mother wants to be supported by machines should anything drastic happen.
The whole ordeal was a huge reality check for me, and I did what I always do, and turned to food for comfort.
If I still lived in Woodstock, I would without a doubt still weigh 285+ pounds. I spent all day Sunday back in Alabama meal prepping so I wouldn't have to worry about finding healthy/Paleo options at the hospital cafeteria. I went back to Georgia early Monday morning to take over mommy duty for the week while my dad was in Chicago. Regardless of my efforts, I found myself diving face first into a Moe's burrito immediately upon arrival. I usually get a kid's meal there because their portions are so insane. I am ashamed to say that I conquered an entire regular burrito without any trouble at all, plus the bag full of tortilla chips they give you on the side.
I ended every night at home with a bowl of ice cream, and at one point, I found myself smearing chunky peanut butter on expired sugar cookies, simply because I could. Yep. I am a PRO when it comes to binge eating. In my defense, I was stressed, exhausted, and terrified. Thinking about all that my mother had been through was overwhelming, and not known whether or not she would regain mobility in her leg was scary. It would cause so much stress on my already over-stressed dad, and no offense to my mother, but she is a high maintenance woman. It would be a difficult change for everyone.
I emailed a few Crossfit boxes to see about their drop-in fees. I thought working out would take my mind off everything that was going on, even if it was only for an hour each day. I wasn't willing to pay these gyms $20-$30 bucks to exercise when I have two perfectly capable legs that could run fo' free. I ran twice while I was at home, and both runs were extremely difficult. I was gorging on everything in sight, and my parents live in a very hilly area. I am not used to running hills and forgot how awful it is. My calves, hamstrings, and quads have been sore for three days straight. Regardless of how miserable my runs were, it was nice to be outside, to be alone, and to have the chance to clear my mind. That's what I've missed most about running.

After 5 days in the hospital, my mom was released to a rehabilitation center where she is getting a few hours of physical therapy everyday. She is slowly regaining movement and feeling in her leg. The doctors don't think her paralysis is permanent, which is incredibly relieving. She is not thrilled about being in a rehabilitation center for the next few weeks, mostly because she doesn't have unlimited access to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She is also surrounded by very old, very sick people. She is easily the youngest person at the center. A lot of the people around her are obviously suffering from dementia, which is very depressing. She has mostly sweet nurses and therapists that sneak her ice cream from time to time, so I guess things could be a lot worse.

I have been home for two days now. I even went back to work yesterday, mostly just to see my kids and hug them all day to make up for the time I missed with them. My co-workers have been incredibly kind to call and text just to check in on my mom and to see how I was holding up. I can't tell you how blessed I am to be surrounded by such caring people. I don't exactly have the easiest job in the world. It's such a relief knowing that my co-workers can take over without putting any additional stress on me. When I told my aide that I had lesson plans for the week, she replied with "You don't have to do that! We've got this!" They are so amazing!

I am back to eating strict Paleo and working out. My body is thrilled. Since Thursday, I have been craving giant, leafy salads like crazy. It's like my body was going through vegetable withdrawals. I am not going to beat myself up for eating like a monster this past week. I don't have the time nor the energy to waste worrying about it. I am back on track and that's all that matters.

To everyone that called, sent a text, or even said a prayer for my family last week, thank you! I feel like I did a lot of growing up over the past 5 days. It's been rough, but I could not have done it alone. The support of my family, friends, and co-workers kept me going. Thank you.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Sunday Well Spent Brings a Week of Content

This week... oh this week... For those of you who do not live in Alabama, the weather this past week has been uber depressing. Even in the dead of winter, it is usually sunny and "warm". Our definition of cold in the South is horribly skewed. As someone who has ventured to Denver and Wyoming in the months of January in March where the temp has been in the negative degrees, I beg to differ that this weather is as cold as make it out to be. This weekend, luckily, has been absolutely beautiful. It is sunny with a high of 55 today, and fully plan on taking advantage of it by running this afternoon.

I went to my usual Saturday WOD at the gym, followed by the Olympic Lifting class they recently started. Saturday WODs are usually brutal, but yesterday was different. It was still challenging, don't get me wrong. Any time I see "50 minute AMRAP" of anything written on the whiteboard, my heart immediately sinks into my stomach. In teams of 3 or 4, we had to hold 135 barbell while alternating on the rower. The hardest part was maintaining my grip. I decided from the beginning that this was a mind of matter workout. Rowing it my strong suit, and I consider myself able to hold somewhat large amounts of weight, but could I do it for 50 minute?! We were ten minutes in before our forearms were shaking. We tried holding it in the deadliest position for as long as we could, but we ended up changing positions several times. At one point, I was holding it in the back rack position. We also thought putting it across one should would be a good idea. We were so, so wrong. We got through it, though! I also stayed and worked on some snatch work at the OLY class. Depletion. That's the only word I can come up with for how I felt at the end of it all.
Today I can hardly lift my chapstick to my lips my forearms are so sore.

Captures us perfectly

The majority of the population that doesn't have to work on Sunday spends the day lounging, sipping an extra cup of coffee, or maybe catching up on chores around the house. To me, Sunday is the most important day of the week. It's a new beginning, if you will. Sundays are the day I choose to whether or not I am going to have a healthy week. I spend the day meal planning, shopping, and prepping. It takes a little while to perfect the routine, but I promise you that investing time into preparing your meals will payoff. For the last 4 years, I brought a spinach salad with carrots, broccoli, guacamole or hummus, and a fruit with me every single day for lunch. It really didn't bother me because I could throw it together in the morning relatively quickly and be on my way. Since starting Paleo again, I am putting more emphasis on including protein in each of my meals. I know I can add chicken or any other type of meat to a salad and spice it up with various toppings. But for the love... I am OVER salads! I spend a few hours every Sunday preparing my lunched by cooking meat and roasting vegetable to take for lunch, rather than having to throw a bunch of rabbit food in a bowl and call it a day.

It gets a little crazy in my kitchen. 

I also prepare breakfasts and snacks on Sunday. Blakely won't eat leftovers, and I am not too thrilled about warming up something that has been sitting in the fridge for several days for dinner either, so dinner is the other thing we don't prepare ahead of time. I try to do the little, tedious tasks that I know will save me just a few minutes in the morning, like chopping vegetables, pouring sauces, or putting snacks into Ziploc bags. I really value my alone time with coffee before school, so it is worth it to get everything else together ahead of time.

This week's prep included:
-Blackberry chia pudding for snacks
-Egg muffins with zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, and sausage for breakfast,
-Roasted butternut squash and green beans for lunches
-Salmon and crockpot chick for lunches

I actually bought a whole chicken for the first time in my life, which is a ridiculous thing to be excited about... I can smell it cooking and soaking up all of the amazing goodness I added to it. I am praying that it works out because I plan on using the leftover meat for my lunches this week.

Cook, baby, cook! 

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy week! For those that are off tomorrow, enjoy your holiday! 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Accepting the Unacceptable

Blogging has been completely thrown to the wayside. The fall semester was probably the most insane three months of my life. Between graduate school, running Fit Friends, and that other really important thing I do...what's it called? Oh! My JOB, free time has been far and few between. I found myself completely drowning. I was all like...

Surprisingly, this ridiculously dramatic Grey's Anatomy episode is perfectly symbolic of how I have been feeling lately. In case you aren't familiar with this gut-wrenching season finale, Meredith goes all sorts of crazy and falls into freezing cold water. She refuses to save herself, regardless of the fact that she knows how to swim. In my case, you can erase the water and replace it with mounds of frosting, pies, and Christmas candy. 
For the last 6 years, I have considered myself to be a healthy person. Not to toot my own horn, but I managed to shed almost 120 pounds and keep (most of) it off! *toot, toot!* I know obscene amounts of information about nutrition and exercise. Heck, I literally teach a class on these subjects once a week, but I find myself struggling to practice what I preach. 
I was able to continue my Crossfit training throughout the semester even though some days, being run over by a bus sounded more appealing. Running is another story... Much to my surprise, running has recently become the bane of my existence. I posted a few months back about how I was having a difficult time accepting that my love for running was diminishing. 
Let's personify running for a moment: 
Running is my really attractive ex that I still secretly think about from time to time. I miss the way running made me feel. I long so much for the sensation running gave me, but my tastes have evolved.

I am working on improving my performance at Crossfit and putting most of my energy into weight lifting. I try to exercise 5-6 days a week, and maybe two of those days are dedicated to running. I am refusing to run more than 4 miles though because the thought of anything more than that makes my throw up a little in my mouth. For some stupid, crazy, ridiculous reason, I feel a sense of guilt for turning my back on running. Weight was melting off me when I was long distance running. Unfortunately, lean muscle was also melting away. I wasn't able to achieve all that I wanted to at the gym because so much of my energy was spent on running. My goals now are all related to Crossfit. I want to do pull ups and deadlift 200 pounds. Mostly, I want to feel strong and confident in my own skin. Running was making me skinnier but not stronger. 
This has been a HUGE source of anxiety for me lately, and we all know what that leads to... Binge eating! 
Something that I am finding difficult to accept the fact that my weight is increasing. For the past month and a half, I have been maintaining a relatively solid Paleo lifestyle (minus New Year's Eve when I ate all the cookies). I thought my days of binging were behind me. Last time I switched to Paleo, weight fell off me like crazy. That is NOT the case this time around. In the first week of switching back to Paleo, I lost 4 pounds. That was probably because it was two weeks before Christmas and I couldn't stop myself from gorging on Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes and all of my favorite holiday candies, and I've never met a piece of candy I didn't like. I am a month and a half in, and I have gained 5 pounds. How is this even possible?! 
My head tells me that it's  partially due to the fact that I am actively trying to build muscle, which weighs more than fat. I am consuming well over 120 grams of protein a day. I have been running long distances less and lifting more, and I have been hitting PR's like a mad woman. I leave the gym on cloud 9 every time, and then I wake up to my scale that tells me I suck at life and should drown my sorrows in a plate of brownies a la mode. I spent my entire Friday eating last week. I dipped into the leftover Christmas candy and snack cakes at school, left and immediately bought a cupcake on my way home, and then topped the night off with pizza, cheesy bread sticks, and a cookie cake. Blakely was really excited. He is always asking to order pizza but I never let him because I am a monster. It was disgusting, and it is painfully embarrassing to admit. The next day at Crossfit was the least fun day of my life... 

Let's circle back around to my Grey's Anatomy reference. The point I am trying to make is that like Meredith, I have the ability to swim (live a healthy life), but as of recently, I am choosing to drown (be a fat man-bear-pig). I know exactly what I need to do to accomplish my goals. However, I have spent more time self-sabotaging than working to achieve them. This behavior is completely unlike me and it is completely unacceptable. I am accepting that it's unacceptable, and I am choosing to swim. I am taking ownership of the mistakes I have made, and I am deciding to be better. 

Some of the tools that have helped shape this "awakening" include:
The Paleo View Podcast 
Girls Gone WOD Podcast
Maybe we can get this blog thing rolling again. It is an excellent way to hold myself accountable, so I will include blogging more on my list of things to accomplish in the new year. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Happy 4th, y'all! Well, 5th!
I am a huge advocate for letting go of all dietary restrictions on holidays. I try to focus on family, friends, and making the most of the holidays. Thinking about calories and sugar intake will only fill your mind with worry and guilt, so don't do it! Blakely and I spent the day antique shopping and eating terribly. Not too bad, but bad enough to where I woke up with a milkshake hangover. My tummy does not like dairy. It was a beautiful and relaxing day. I'm so glad I could spend it with him!

Last year on the 4th, Rachel and I ran a 10k in town because unlike every other runner I know, we were not participating in the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta. We called it "Shannon and Rachel's Run for Patriotism and the Consumption of Not-so-Healthy Food 10k". It was grueling because of the humidity, but we had a blast! I completely forgot about it this year! To be honest, I haven't run more than 4 miles in two months, so six miles would have probably killed me.

The weather was perfect yesterday, so a run wouldn't have been so terrible!  We had a Hero WOD planned (a workout dedicated to a fallen solider), and they are always brutal! I enjoy Hero WODs because they are always ridiculously difficult and equally rewarding. The workout was the "Filthy Fifty".

My box had done it before as a team WOD, but this was the first time we were supposed to complete it individually. I didn't realize until a minute or so before we began that there was a 30 minute time cap on the workout. I became nervous because deep down, I am VERY competitive- not just with other people, but within myself. Obviously, it was my goal to complete the workout within the allotted time, but more than anything, living to tell about it was my main focus. It was rough. I felt like I was maintaining a relatively decent pace. I started my burpees at 20 minutes on the dot. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I loathe burpees. They are not tall people friendly at all, and they pretty much suck in general. I don't care how effective they are. My strategy for each movement was to break them up into sets of 10. I did the first 10 burpees at a moderate pace, but after that, it was sets of whatevertheheck I could do. I have never come so close to throwing up in a workout. I picked up my rope at 28 minutes and some odd seconds. Double unders are hard for me. I have reallllly been working on them, and I will sacrifice time to practice them in some workouts, but I didn't have it in me. I thought I could complete the 150 singles in the minute in a half. I didn't, but I wasn't far from it! My time was 30:19. I was pleased. Most importantly, I didn't vomit.

Love these people! 

There is nothing that irks me more than people who ask my advice but then offer a thousand excuses for why they can't follow any of it. This might sound harsh, but if you aren't willing to make any changes to your lifestyle at all, then I don't care to hear about how you can't fit in your pants anymore. Take it elsewhere. There are a few things you are going to have to accept if you are wanting to improve your health and change your lifestyle. The methods I used for losing weight might work for you, but I'm sure you can find relevance in some of them. Here are just a few of the things I've learned over the last few years. Keep in mind, I am no expert.

1. Accept the you are going to have to change. 
I am not talking about the physical transformation you are hoping to see. I am referring to changing your thought process and daily routines to adapt to a healthier lifestyle. We are creatures of habit. Regardless of whether or not I am actually hungry, I tend to reach for the sweet things around 3 or 4 o'clock because during the school year, that was the end of the day and I needed a pick-me-up. It's been hard to break that habit this summer, so instead of going for my usual handful of Hersey kisses or Skittles, I opt for fruit or a chocolate protein shake. 
For those of you that are "too busy to exercise" or are timid when it comes to working out in front of other people, you are going to have to accept that exercise is a key component to losing weight. Suck it up, buttercup. 

2. Accept feeling uncomfortable. 
Newsflash: No one, absolutely no one in the world looks good working out. If you're anything like me, there is a look of extreme anger and pain on your face the entire time. Sometimes, I even cry because it's so agonizing. I'm a huge crybaby. It's not going to feel good while you are doing it, but it's going to feel amazing once you've done it! Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. You have to if you want to be successful. When it comes to eating out, it's comfortable to follow your friends' lead when eating in a group. If everyone else is ordering a beer and a burger, that means it's okay for me to do it too, right? Wrong. Occasionally, splurges are fun and necessary, but earn those cheat meals! You might be the brunt of the jokes at the table for asking for water and your salad dressing on the side, but you won't feel guilty the next day for it. 

3. Accept sweat. 
In my fat days, working up a sweat was one of my biggest fears. I always associated sweating with being overweight. I just assumed everyone was looking at me thinking "the fat chick is sweating again, she must be hot and bothered thinking about some Twinkies". It goes along with accepting the feeling of discomfort. I'm sure you spent a long time deciding what to wear to the gym and how to fix your hair, but no one cares. It should be your new goal in life to sweat so much that it rains into your face and saturates every inch of your hair and clothing. That means you are something right. Accept it! 

4. Accept the notion that progress will not occur overnight... or maybe even in one week... or maybe even in one month. 
If you are completely sedentary and you begin incorporating dietary changes and exercise into your routine, change will likely happen quickly. For those of you (us) that are already relatively healthy and on a fairly solid exercise regiment and are seeking MORE improvement, change will be slow and steady. Don't give up. Don't assume that it's not working, and whatever you do, don't go back to your old habits. Regardless of whether or not the numbers on the scale are dropping or you physically see the changes in your body, the new healthy habits you are creating are always better than what you were doing before. I was in such a rut last week because I lost 7 pounds during my first two weeks of eating Paleo, but the scale hasn't moved since. I went back and found my fattest picture to compare where I started to where I am now. 

It takes time, but I promise it's worth it! 

5. Accept the fact that you will not win every battle.  
There will be days when you don't feel like leaving the couch. Some days, you might be so sore that you can't use the bathroom without the support of the bars in the handicap stall. Don't beat yourself up over missing a work out. 
There will also be times where you are incapable of resisting the urge to face plant into a bowl of ice cream. You might even binge eat cold chicken nachos while standing at your fridge. Your progress isn't ruined. One day will not make or break you. Think of how long it took you to gain the weight you're trying so hard to lose! Sometimes, giving in is necessary. I like to have one super, over the top fat day every now and again to remind myself why I choose to eat healthy, whole foods. You will feel disgusting and full of regret, and you might even spend the entire night sitting on or around the toilet as a consequence of your fat day, but that's okay too. Be realistic and think about splurging in moderation. One day is fine, but don't make a habit of it! 
Also, don't be too hard on yourself for a slip up either! Just get right back into your usual routine. Don't over train or go without eating. That's doing more harm than good! 

I hope you find this advice helpful. It's taken me years to accept some of these things. I'm still working on fully accepting a few of them. 

Here are a couple of recipes that I've tried and loved recently! You can find more on my Pinterest boards

I made these for breakfast this morning, and they are amazing! 

I've made these twice this week. Blakely even approves! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The break up

In January, my box (Crossfit gym, get with it!) decided to participate in the 30 day Paleo challenge. Being a distance runner, I knew it wouldn't be a good time because carbs are key for fueling my long runs. Oatmeal was my go-to breakfast as a runner. I made it with rolled oats, honey, a mashed banana, peanut butter, and cinnamon. I miss it! It's like a relative that's passed. Some days are easier than others...
My friends were seeing incredible results during the Paleo challenge, and the one's that continued past the 30 days continued to lose weight and increase lean muscle mass.

When I start being less fat, my only goals were related to numbers.
I wanted to weigh 180... then 175... then 160 (which I never even got to because I realized it wasn't about the number after I began Crossfit and gained more muscle).
I wanted to run 3 miles... then 5 miles... then 10 miles... then a half marathon.
I was seeing fantastic results with just running and a few exercise classes here and there. My entire workout regiment was devoted to cardio, and that worked for a long time.

Recently, my goals have changed entirely. During my early life crisis this past semester, I struggled a lot with the fact that the number on the scale were increasing, regardless of the fact that I was running 20-30 miles a week AND attending Crossfit classes 3-4 times per week. I couldn't wrap my head around it, but it was the root of a lot of my anxiety. I feared that I would revert to my old, fat self.
One of the biggest changes I've experienced since beginning weightlifting is the urge to eat constantly. My body craves protein to repair the muscles I break down with each workout. Once I realized the reason I was constantly seeking food, I began more in-depth research on the benefits of a Paleo diet.

Being a teacher, I am on my feet all day. I eat breakfast at 5, a snack at 8:30, lunch at 10:50, another snack at 3, and then dinner by 7. My day revolves around thinking about when and what I'll eat next. #confessionsofafatty (seems appropriate)
It became VERY clear to me that my intense exercise regiment was not the problem. My eating habits were killing me. My meals are always very well portioned and healthy. I am a lover of all vegetables and fruits. I eat the appropriate serving size of meat, unless it's General Tso's chicken, but let's not go there...
Sweets are my weakness. I love chocolate like I love my dog. If you told me that I had to choose between giving my pup away or never seeing a single piece of chocolate again, I would need an obscene amount of time to weigh my options. I don't discriminate, though. Chocolate is my favorite, but sweets of any kind ignite record breaking binge eating sprees that are so raunchy they should be televised on HBO. A single bite of anything with sugar in it will only fuel the fire.
It took months for me to accept the fact that I was going to have to change my eating habits if I was going to continue to see results.

My biggest fear with trying Paleo was that it would have a negative impact on my ability to run. I can no longer eat grains or legumes, which mean I am having to eat starchy vegetables and carb-rich fruits to make up for fact that I can't down a bowl of oatmeal or eat a plate of spaghetti the night before a big run. I found this to be very helpful!

I don't know if it's because I enjoy the social atmosphere so much at my box or because it's humid as Hades here in Alabama, but I have little to no desire to run most days. I have been throwing myself into Crossfit by attending 4-5 classes every week. My goal for the summer was to alternate my mornings between running a shorter distances (2-4 miles) and swimming, and then attended CF in the evenings. However, I cannot seem to get myself going in the mornings like I am used to. Two summers ago, I was up every morning to run 5-6 miles before 7. Last summer, I attended the 5:15 a.m. CF class every morning, and I usually ran 4-5 miles every other day in addition to Crossfit. I go to bed with the best of intentions, but that alarm goes off and I lose all motivation. Am I breaking up with running? 

The mere thought of running 6 miles right now makes me cringe. How was I able to do it before? I looked back at my run calendar from last year, and on this day last summer, I ran 10 miles! I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. 
Needless to say, I am having an incredibly difficult time embracing this change. Running is what got me here. I used to look forward to exploring the streets, the recovery smoothies, and the fact that I could run the length of this town in under two hours. It's scary because I am so appreciative of all that running has done for me, but I am completely burned out. I haven't given it up entirely. Don't get me wrong, regardless of the complaining and griping I do before each run, I am still running 3-4 miles every other day. I have learned to love my treadmill again.
Since we moved to a new apartment, I am not able to step outside and take off. I would probably be run over my a jacked up truck speeding through these curvy country roads at 60 mph. There is no where safe to run around me, so I have to drive to local parks. They're not far, but it makes it very hard to stay motivated when you have to get up and drive somewhere else. 
I have also been breaking my runs up into more Crossfit-style workouts. Since distance running on a treadmill for 30-40 minutes straight sounds like the worst form of torture imaginable, I stop between each mile and incorporate some form of strength training. 

Here are some examples:
Run 3 miles
Between each mile: 15 push ups, 20 plank rows, 30 bicycle crunches

Run 4 miles
Between each mile: 20 leg lifts, 30 mountain climbers, 1 minute plank 

It's not so bad, and it's not infinity degrees! I still rain from head to toe, but the humidity is what makes summer running in the south so unappealing. 
I'm learning to adapt to the new changes. I shouldn't be so hard on myself. My dad made an excellent point: I'm still being mindful of my health and I am still very physically active. There's no harm in change. 
So maybe when fall comes around I'll start training for a few long distance runs, but I can't promise anything. For now, I am sticking with what I enjoy. 

Blakely brought this home from work last night: 

I look forward to spending the rest of the day by the pool, making a menu for this week! Eek! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Once you go fat, you never go back

It has been months since my last update, but if you have been around me at all lately, you understand why. I usually begin my posts by telling you how chaotic my life is. I will spare you with the details, but I will tell you that over the past few months, my life has changed drastically in several ways. Between the months of February and May, I found myself in new territory: depression. Typically, I am a level-headed woman. I've always known what I wanted and can remain composed enough to achieve my goals and overcome obstacles. Here are just a few of the things I was dealing with during that time:

-Full-time teaching
-IEP season (the busiest time of the year for special ed teachers)
-Moving (our old apartment was beginning to mold... yes, mold was accumulating because of so much water damage from the ridiculous amount of maintenance issues we had)
-Blakely finding a new job
-Grad school! (two research papers, a group project, and a final all due within 2 weeks of each other)
-Organizing and teaching Fit Friends
-In the midst of the madness, Blakely and I booked a Disney trip in December that was nonrefundable. It was fun and a much needed vacation, but it was terrible timing.

My heart rate increases just looking at that list. I don't know how I got through all of it. When I wasn't researching autism or writing annual goals for my school babies, I was trying my best to maintain a healthy eating and exercise schedule.
It is never easy to admit that you need help. It was a foreign concept to me because I have always been the overachiever who can get things done without calling on others. My anxiety was paralyzing. I had never experienced a feeling of such doubt. When I wasn't running around like a mad woman, I was panicking over the things I needed to do and second guessing every little decision I made. I had no choice but to turn to my doctor. I am not one to take medication for things like this. It was my goal to be one of the 25% of teachers not taking anti-anxiety medication. Yes, 75% of teachers are currently taking mood altering drugs. This statistic has always surprised me. Regardless of the stresses of dealing with endless mounds of paperwork, aggressive and inappropriate behaviors, and what's that thing called again? Oh yeah, actually teaching my kids, I love my job. I have fantastic students and parents. This has really been my easiest year as a teacher. I tried every trick in the book, eating better (which fell to the wayside FAST once IEPs hit), exercise, meditation, you name it... I could not overcome my anxiety. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that summer was just around the corner.

It's not east to admit this stuff. In fact, there are very few people I have even talked to about this, but I figure maybe it can help someone in a similar situation. Let's lighten the mood!

Summer is here! I have made some changes that have helped with my anxiety and improved my overall health! I found out I don't have any summer classes, which is setting me back from graduating. Honestly, I don't care anymore when I graduate as long as I get it done. It's somewhat of a blessing in disguise. I needed the break! I deserve the break.

Fit Friends has really taken off! Our first meeting was in April, and we have been trucking right along since then! Sometimes it feels like a second job, but when I see those smiling faces come running through the door every Tuesday, it makes it all worth it! I have met some amazing folks through this organization, and I hope it continues to have a positive impact on their lives. We are working on fundraising right now so we can hopefully become a nonprofit organization. I had no idea what a ridiculously expensive task that is! Our local newspaper ran a story on Fit Friends, and they featured me in the Community Spotlight section. I've never been in the newspaper, so I was really excited.

I guess the biggest change I've made this summer was making the decision to live a Paleo lifestyle. I can feel you rolling your eyes through my screen! I realize it's a fad right now, and I'm one of the million Crossfitters to drink this Koolaid, but I have seen so much improvement in the way I feel since I started in May. At first, I wanted to try it to shed the extra pound I put on during my early-life crisis, as I like to call it. IEP season is insanely stressful, and you will always find me typing away at my desk with a giant bag of M&Ms or some other sugar-filled treat to calm my nerves. I like to say the 7 pound weight gain during the school year was because of the muscle I was putting on from weightlifting, and I'm sure some of it was, but most of it was the result of the copious amounts of chocolaty goodness I was consuming on a daily basis. Blakely and I were eating out a lot because our entire life remained packed in liquor store boxes until the end of the school year, and let's not talk about the terrible food we devoured at Disney World. I won't apologize for that, though.
I was eating more and exercising less, so weight gain was bound to happen. I felt tired and bloated all the time. I'm sure it didn't help my anxiety at all, either.
I started transitioning into the Paleo lifestyle in the beginning of May. The strict rules for following this diet are:
-No grains
-No dairy
-No refined or added sugar
-Grassfed meats only
-Limited caffeine intake (basically, black coffee!)
Emphasis is placed on increasing the amount of protein and healthy fats you're eating.

My favorite things in the world use to be oatmeal, candy, and a full pot of coffee to access throughout the day as my sugar levels spiked and crashed. For the first few weeks, I cut back on my grains. I only ate oatmeal a few times a week, whereas before, it was my daily breakfast. Dairy was not a big transition. I ate ice cream occasionally and used coffee creamer. I loved cheese, but I could live without it. I knew sugar and caffeine would be the hardest part. I limited myself to one cup in the mornings, and I tried to cut back on the sugar and creamer I was using. I was eating 1 strict Paleo meal each day so I could experiment with new recipes.

By the end of May, my body was ready for the change. I felt disgusting, large, and not so in charge. The first week was the hardest. I wanted coffee more than anything, more than chocolate if that's possible. I was bitter and weak. My workouts were suffering because my body was getting used to running on less carbs. My runs felt strenuous and agonizing. Wall balls, which were never fun in the first place, became my worst enemy. I was so mean to Blakely because of my withdrawals, and he was forced to adapt to my new diet for the few meals that we are able to share during the week. He's such a trooper.
After the two weeks, I had dropped 6 pounds, and I had more energy than I knew what to do with! I was sleeping better and it felt like my recovery time was improving after workouts. A month went by and I saw amazing results not only with physical the changes in my body, but I was able to come off my anxiety medication! I was ready to fully commit to this new lifestyle!

Then I discovered all that Wisconsin had to offer, and I reverted back to my fat ways. I always say "once you go fat, you never go back". Fat being a state of mind, of course. I went to Wisconsin for Annie's wedding. I had mentally prepared myself to stick to my diet until the day of the wedding where I would splurge on wedding cake and a glass of wine. I was in the land of cheese and beer. I was literally greeted upon my arrival to WI with a kiosk of cheese clothing (ties, top hats, baseball caps all made out of fake cheese). My stomach sank because I knew it was coming... Annie took my to get fried cheese curds and custard within a few hours of my arrival. If you aren't familiar with cheese curds, which I wasn't other than Miss Tuffet eating her curds and whey, they are heavenly balls of cheese, deep fried to golden perfection, and they make my fat Spidey-senses tingle. I was also unfamiliar with custard. All I know is that it has something to do with ice cream and eggs that give you extra thick ice cream that is worlds better than anything I'd ever tasted before. I made sure to mix mine with peanut butter and cookie dough because the custard alone wasn't fat enough for me. Yolo?
That sparked a 5 day long eating frenzy. My eating spell did not go unpunished. I had not eaten dairy, sugar, or grains for a month. My stomach was NOT happy. It was actually sore to the touch. I won't go into the horrific details of it all, but my body did not like the shock I gave it while in Wisconsin. here are a few pictures from the wedding.

I am working extra hard to get back on track with my Paleo eating. Sometimes you have to revert back to your old, fat ways to remind yourself why you chose to stop eating that way in the first place. It was fun while it lasted, but my workouts have been brutal. My tummy is still not in a good state, and my muscles are sore beyond belief, but I am confident that I will get back to where I was before. Paleo is no longer about losing weight for me. I am a tall woman, and I enjoy my curves. I want to feel sexy and comfortable in my own skin, and I know I'll get there with Paleo. Here are a few of my favorite recipes so far! You don't have to sacrifice your favorite foods with Paleo! You just learn to make them with different ingredients.

Sometimes I omit the chicken and add italian sausage! 

I make a huge batch and eat them with everything! Eggs, zucchini noodles, you name it! 

You can add any meat and veggies you want to these! I make a batch of 12 for the whole week. 

Don't be afraid to play with the fruits and nuts in this recipe! I have made blueberry walnut muffins, strawberry with dark chocolate chips, and banana nut muffins so far. All were very delicious! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Balancing Act

Where do I even begin? Crazy is not powerful enough to describe my life right now. Between organizing Fit Friends, grad school, and that teaching thing I do everyday, I can't seem to find a spare moment to keep this thing updated. Lucky for me, we have been "snowed in" for the last two days. I am pretty up to date on my grad school assignments, and it looks like my lesson plans will roll over into next week, so here we go...

I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K a couple of weeks ago in Atlanta. I wasn't going to do it for several reasons. One being that I hadn't run 9 miles in two months. Another reason was that I was doing it alone. I saw the jackets they were giving the runners, and I figured what the heck? I can run a couple of miles, get a sweet running jacket, and eat a crap ton of chocolate afterwards. It was definitely worth the $60 bucks! The event was huge, the biggest race I have ever run. The event was a ton of fun, and running 9 miles isn't so hard when you know there is a chocolate party at the finish line. My parents went with me even though it was 20 something degrees outside. The race as through downtown Atlanta, so I had a lot of beautiful scenery (and homeless people) to look at while I ran. I would recommend this race to anyone!  

I think last time I updated I introduced you to Fit Friends, the summer camp I am collaborating with JSU to organize for adults with intellectual disabilities. Word is getting around, and everyone seems to be enthusiastic about the idea! I cannot believe how quickly this thing has taken off! I also can't believe how much work goes into organizing something like this. I have met with several people and a couple of different agencies in the area, and I feel like I have absolutely NO idea what I am doing. I tell them my ideas, give them our pamphlet, talk about the work we have already put in, and then I am overloaded with a hundred thousand questions that I don't know how to answer.

"What are your plans for liability? Who will be responsible if someone is injured?"
"Where is a copy of your budget?"
"How will you organize transportation?"
"Do you think relying on volunteers is a good idea? What if one of them has a bad experience and leaves in the middle of camp?"

These questions bounce around in my head throughout the night. I haven't been sleeping well lately, and I think it is because I am terrified this thing won't work out. The only thing I can do is give it to God. I can tell by the response of the community that Fit Friends is going to be welcomed, so I am trying my best to sift past the doubt and focus on the end result. This is going to happen, and it will be a positive addition to our community. 

What's that saying about eating an elephant? One bite at a time, or something? Everyone knows I am the biggest binge eater that ever lived. I prefer to eat everything in one quick, messy sitting (if I even make it to the table). I'm ready to get the ball rolling! 

Two different people this month have asked me how to get/stay healthy with a busy schedule. I'm not quite sure my response was what they were looking for, or rather, what they wanted to hear. In a nutshell, suck it up, buttercup. I mean that in the nicest way possible, really. Life and health should never be a balancing act. It is the most important commitment you will every make, and your health HAS to be a priority in your life. Simple as that. Sacrifices have to be made if you want to see results. The first piece of advice I give every single person that asks me about my transformation is "you will lose weight when you are really and truly ready".
 If you aren't serious about it and completely willing to surrender to the lifestyle changes you have to make to be healthy, then it isn't going to happen. Yo-yo diets, pills, and Pinterest workouts (I love them too, trust) aren't going to give you lasting results. You need to be prepared to change aspect of your life. 
I began my fitness journey in college. Between morning practicums, afternoon classes, and endless nights of lesson planning, I managed to squeeze in a 45 minute exercise class everyday. Now, my day begins at 5 a.m. and doesn't end until usually 7 or 8 p.m. That's not including the grad school work I have once I finally get home. Five or six days a week, I make time for an hour long Crossfit class or an hour or so of running. I'm a freak of nature, I get that. Most people don't want to occupy every single second of their day with something. 
Do what works for you. Find the time to make it happen. You won't regret it and you won't be disappointed. 

Tips for finding time to be healthy:
1. Plan and prepare meals on the weekend. Make a menu and grocery list on Saturday and go shopping. Spend an hour or two on Sunday preparing your lunches and making dinners that you can store in the freezer for the week ahead. 

2. Wake up early and knock it out! I am a morning person, so it's easy for me to say. For those of you that dread waking up, try going to bed earlier. It takes a couple of weeks to acclimate your body to waking up early, and it takes LOTS of motivational pep talks to convince yourself to workout immediately after rolling out of the bed, but the results are SO worth it! Morning workouts boost your metabolism so you burn more fat throughout the day, long after you have completed your workout! Set your phone or alarm clock across the room so you won't be tempted to hit snooze. 

3. Watch your "stories" while you workout! We all have our favorite television programs. Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, The Following, and The Biggest Loser are just a few of my faves. When do I catch up on them? While I'm on the treadmill! Time flies when you are wrapped up in a show. Just last week, I was four miles into a run and sobbing through an episode of Biggest Loser. I think I worked MORE muscles crying while running. If you don't have a treadmill, write your workout down and push that coffee table against the wall. Workout in front of the t.v.! 

4. Join a fitness class. Feeling accountable is incredibly motivating! Fitness classes have a social aspect to them. You are more inclined to go if you feel like your friends will ask about you when you aren't there. I always wonder what my Crossfit friends are doing or talking about when I'm not in class. If I have something important to tell one of them, I can't get there fast enough. My coach always asks if my mouth is warmed up yet because I spend the first 20 minutes yapping away. The workout seems much less taxing when you have friends to cut up with throughout it.

Here are some yummy things that I have made recently that can easily be frozen and eaten throughout the week:

These are healthy, filling, and SO yummy! I made them with green enchilada sauce, but either one works! 

I love to make a batch of soup for dinner and take the leftovers for lunch! 

I have been devouring this for lunch lately! I make a big batch of it at the beginning of each week. I eat it alone, and sometimes I top a spinach salad with a smaller portion of it. 

Keep this in mind this week! Change is possible if you are willing to make it happen! 

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