September 29, 2018

The Heaviest I've Been in 8 Years: A Reality Check on the Scale

This is probably going to be the most vulnerable post I've ever written.

My weight has obviously gone up and down through the last eight years of "maintenance". Since losing 125 pounds in 2009-2010, I've weighed everywhere from 121 pounds to 160 pounds. Each and every time I gain a significant amount of weight (10 pounds or so), I start to question whether it's the start of my gaining it all back.

When I lost the weight, I knew that the odds were against me; according to statistics, there was a 95% chance I would gain all of the weight back, plus more, within two years. And even though I've maintained a large weight loss for eight years now, I don't ever feel like I'm really "there" (in maintenance) yet.

And yet, every time I think I have finally figured it out and I feel confident enough to state it on my blog, I gain weight again. The times where I'm doing great and feeling great, it's easy to feel like it will last forever. Last year, for example, I was 99% sure that I'd finally gotten to the place I was looking for--I was healthy, I was eating in a sustainable way that made me feel good, and I was just doing what made me happy.

It almost seemed easy. I felt really good about my life in general, and it felt like I was going to maintain that feeling forever.

When the weight started creeping up, I was worried. I had a very hard time figuring out what to do about it. I wasn't binge eating; I was just overeating in general. Eating too frequently, off schedule, and too much.

My weight tends to jump up in spurts. I'll gain about 6-8 pounds within a week or so, and then maintain that for several weeks or even months sometimes; then I'll gain another 6-7 pounds. And that is what happened to me recently.

I remember being at around 144, and not too worried--I was "only" 11 pounds over my goal weight. Then one day, I was 152. Seeing the 150's again was very worrisome. I knew how long it would take to lose that weight (again) and I felt overwhelmed.

Recently, I stepped on the scale to see 158--dangerously close to my highest weight in 8 years. I felt like it just came out of nowhere. I still haven't been binge eating, and to see that number was a little mortifying.

Finally, yesterday, I got on the scale and saw the highest number I've seen in the 8 years since losing 125 pounds: 162.8. I am back in the 160's.

I wish I could say all sorts of inspiring things about how I'm going to lose this weight and how it's not going to stop me from trying; but honestly, I am very worried that the scale will continue to rise. I've tried counting calories again, something that has always worked in the past, but I just can't seem to stick with it very long (like a day or two).

In addition to my diet, I have NO willpower to run. I want to--I really, really want to--but I can't seem to get in that habit and make it a part of my life like I used to. Each time I run, it feels like it gets harder and harder (no doubt because of the weight gain). If it felt like it used to, where an easy run actually felt easy, I think I would be much more motivated to go out and do it. Feeling this out of shape has not just taken a toll on my body, but on my motivation as well.

I would like to come up with some sort of do-able plan to hopefully get back on track and lose this weight. It's scary to see 162. I feel like I'm too far gone and this is it. This is when I gain it all back. I try not to feel so negatively about it, but that's much harder than it sounds.

When I say that I want to make a plan, I don't mean a "challenge" (you know I love making challenges!). I need to focus on making simple changes that I can live with--just like I did in 2009. I can change more as I go along, but to start, I want to make small goals to at least get back in good habits.

My first priority is actually not my diet; it's running. I want to run regularly again so badly. I miss feeling like a runner, and pushing myself to do things I once thought were impossible. When I coach cross country, I want to be a good role model. Yes, I know how to coach--but I want to actually be a runner who coaches.

This photo is from one of my very favorite runs. I ran on Christmas day (hence the red and green) and it was a little snowy. I can still remember how crisp the air felt! I truly enjoyed it.

In 2010, when I decided to start running for fitness, I made a promise to myself: I was going to run three times per week for at least 30 minutes... no matter what. There are ZERO excuses to keep me from doing that much. I remember running early in the morning or late at night so that Jerry would be here with the kids; I asked my parents or my brother to watch them so I could run; my friend watched the kids so I could run, and then I watched hers so that she could run.

I did whatever it took. No excuses.

So, my first plan is to get back into running by going back to how it all started: running three times per week for 30+ minutes each time. No matter what.

As far as my diet goes, I want to try something new for a little while (maybe just a couple of weeks to see how it goes). Over the last nine years, I've learned that each time I gain a significant amount of weight back, I do something new to lose it.

In September 2012, I tried out Weight Watchers' new (at the time) program, starting at 156 pounds. I got down to my goal in December 2012.

I started calorie counting in August 2015 at 158 pounds. I got down to my goal weight of 133 in November 2015. I continued losing weight without really trying to, which I believe was from my heart rate training. I was 121 pounds in February 2016.

In 2017, I was diagnosed with bipolar and put on a mood stabilizing medication. I felt so much better, and I just focused on being happy. I naturally picked up a way of eating that felt good to me--a modified "intuitive eating" lifestyle. I made the decision to start fresh in February 2017, and my weight was just under 160. The changes in lifestyle kind of came naturally. I was back at my goal weight in June 2017.

I'm not proud of all of these ups and downs, but they are what they are. I've learned something from each one of them. I've recently tried going back to these things that worked in the past, and I just can't seem to stick with them. The one thing I've always said is that I will not make changes that I'm not willing to do for the rest of my life. And I'm going to stick with that.

I have always believed that reaching our healthiest weight can be achieved by simply eating less food. Small portions. Eating less frequently. I don't believe that our bodies need as much food as we are taught we should eat.

I've always done this via portion control--measuring or weighing out my food to ensure that I'm not overdoing it. When I was eating intuitively, I was eating the portions that just felt right; and I wasn't forcing myself to eat if I wasn't hungry.

I've gotten away from those habits for some reason. So, I'd like to just work on one small change right now. I want to eat only when I'm actually hungry. Lately, I've been eating when anxious, when stressed out, when celebrating something, and other reasons, whether I'm hungry or not. Focusing on just that small change will help me to feel more in control, and then later I can work on another habit.

Regardless, the running is my number one priority, and I am most determined to do that. I went for a run Wednesday morning just because I felt like it (my body is so sore and stiff from working on our house project, I actually thought a run would feel good!).

One thing I know for sure is that I want to do my best to get this weight off. I am not happy with how I look and I'm certainly not happy with how I feel. I feel sluggish, which is exactly how I felt at 253 pounds. And I can't stand the thought of becoming part of that statistic that says I will gain back all the weight.

It's embarrassing to see people in public because the gain is obvious. I haven't been posting pictures of me on my blog for the same reason. I cringe when I see photos of me. I even avoid looking in the mirror! My clothes don't fit, and now that this is jeans and sweatshirt weather, I'm super bummed that I can't wear what I have.

I know these are petty reasons to want to lose weight, but there are other more serious reasons, too. Running has always helped with my anxiety, and of course I want to be less anxious. Running has made me feel good about myself, whether I was 160 pounds or 121 pounds. Overeating causes me to feel tired all the time, which makes me unproductive; eating only when I'm hungry will make me more energetic.

Also, I've been having a lot of back, neck, and shoulder pain (just like last year when I was in physical therapy). I'm sure the extra weight isn't helping that. When I was running regularly and eating the correct portions, I don't remember feeling this much pain.

This whole post, in a nutshell:
  • I am at the highest weight I've been in 8 years
  • The extra weight is affecting my mood, health, and overall mindset
  • I'm terrified that my weight will continue to climb and I'll gain everything back
  • I want to run again--three times a week to start--and this is my top priority right now
  • I'm going to work on eating only when I'm physically hungry
  • I want to get my weight back down not just for vain reasons, but also for my health and overall wellness

This post is not meant to be a downer or a "poor me, I'm feeling sorry for myself". It's not meant to make excuses. I'm writing this post because it feels good to get it out in the open and not feel like I'm hiding something. I've always tried to be open and honest on my blog, even though I feel very vulnerable when I write personal things like this.

I hope that I'll have good things to report in the coming weeks. Seeing the 160's was a big reality check, and I finally feel like I'm ready to do this. I'm going to work on it the slow way (one small step at a time) and eventually, I hope to get back to my goal weight (once again).

Thanks for always being so kind to me. I don't express it enough, but I appreciate the encouraging words from your comments and emails more than you know.


September 24, 2018

Another Kitchen Renovation Update: Paint Colors!

Do I even need to explain that I've been crazy busy with this renovation, and haven't even opened my computer in days? It's consuming my life right now--drive kids to/from school, coach cross country, and renovate. Not that I'm complaining! It's been fun :)

I wish I had huge updates that were very visible in photos, but it actually doesn't look a whole lot different! Mudding and sanding the seams has taken forever. I had to do three coats of mud, and wait 24 hours between each coat.

First, let's look at my bruises battle wounds. My shins have every shade of bruise in various healing stages, hahaha. This is from standing on the ladder and bracing myself against it--my shins are perfectly centered on the rung above my feet.

bruised shins

Here is what we've done so far:

1) Remove "popcorn" ceiling (it wasn't actually popcorn, but a texture called "stomped"--similar)
2) Scrape it all again, because we didn't do it good enough the first time
3) Repair nicks
4) Mud the seams in the ceiling and the walls (twice)
5) Sand and sand some more
6) Remove laminate backsplash
7) Decide to take down the trim at the ceiling
8) Almost chicken out and put it back up
9) Tape, mud, and sand the joint between the ceiling and walls. THREE TIMES.
10) Sand, sand, sand.
11) Prime the ceiling

I'm really happy that I decided to remove the trim from the ceiling. It took a ton of extra work, but I really love how it turned out. And it's a whole lot less trim that I'll have to paint later! ;)

Here is what it looked like before removing the trim...

After I removed it, I was horrified and almost put it back up. But after some research online, I decided to try and tape/mud the joints myself. I figured if it looked terrible afterward, I could always just put some trim up to hide it.

And here is what it looks like after taping/mudding/sanding the seams. I did this to the entire kitchen, dining room, and living room. THAT is why I've been too busy to write!

And in the living room...

Yesterday, we FINALLY got to start priming! We dusted/cleaned the ceilings and then put on one coat of primer. The photo above shows the ceiling after the primer. I think it looks awesome, and we haven't even painted it yet!

On Saturday, I got an email about Sherwin Williams having a 40% off sale on their paint. I couldn't pass that up (when did paint get so expensive?!) so Jerry and I went over our color choices one more time and decided to go get the paint.

I was actually really nervous about it. The cabinets, mostly--I had been planning all along to paint them white. But I really didn't want my kitchen to be plain looking (I clearly love color!) and I went with a color that I never in a million years would have thought I'd pick: blue. Very, very light blue--but still blue. I'm not a fan of blue in any shade, but for some reason, I was really drawn to a light blue/bright orange combo.

Orange is my very favorite color, but I couldn't imagine painting walls or cupboards orange, so it wasn't really on my radar. I had thought about yellow and green for the kitchen, but I didn't really want to carry that over into the living room and dining room (the rooms are so open that they have to coordinate). So, I decided on this:

Living room walls - dark gray
Kitchen and dining room walls - light gray
Cupboards - light blue
Trim (in all rooms) - white
Accents (bar stools, kitchen chairs, skylight) - orange

I love gray, but I didn't want the sterile look of gray and white (my house is very much not "sterile"!)--adding the blue and orange is very much "me".

So, we are finally to the fun part of all this--painting and actually seeing some nice visual progress! Now, I'm going to start on priming the walls...

September 18, 2018

A New Incentive System for Cross Country

Today, I'm taking a rest day. I am SOOOO sore!

I didn't realize it'd been so long since I last wrote, because I have been working non-stop on the house project we have going on.

I thought we were just about ready to prime the ceiling and walls, but then something else came up. As we were prepping the ceiling and walls, I thought more and more about removing the trim from around the windows, from where the wall meets the ceiling, and along the floor. It's very cheap, I don't love it, and I figured that if we are ever going to remove or replace it, now is the time to do it.

Being a manufactured home, a lot of the building materials are definitely not meant to least forever. I had been planning to paint all of the trim while leaving it on the walls, but once I peeked behind it, I decided to remove it.

I removed the trim around the ceiling, and it was a little shocking at first, but basically what I expected. The trim was used to cover the gap between the walls and ceiling (rather than finishing the seams). The gap was jagged and unsightly (Jerry said it looked like the builders had cut the drywall with a butterknife--hahaha).

I thought about replacing the trim, but since I've been doing so much with drywall on the ceiling, I felt confident that I could tape and mud the gap. Yesterday, I spent 7-1/2 hours doing just that! It wasn't hard, but it was very tedious. I only used one coat of mud, and I'll need to do at least one more (maybe two) before it'll be ready to sand and prime. I'll post photos when I'm done.

So, that little detour set us back a little, but Jerry and I both really like the way the ceiling looks without the molding--and we haven't even painted yet. On our "to do" list now:

Prime and paint walls and ceilings
Prime and paint kitchen cabinets
Replace flooring
Replace or paint window trim

Interestingly, I don't feel overwhelmed. I'm actually really excited about doing this, and I enjoy working on it! I'm super sore, but that just reminds me that I've been working so hard.

Which is why I'm using today to catch up on everything I've neglected--laundry, my blog, grocery shopping, etc--while working on the ceiling and walls. I guess it's not exactly a "rest" day, but it feels like it.

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, and I keep forgetting about it. I'm coaching cross country again this year, and I wanted to think up some way to motivate the kids to want to run during practice and give their running some effort. You wouldn't believe how many kids don't want to run at cross country practice!

I got this idea when I was going through my jewelry box and came across my old Weight Watchers charms. I have charms earned from losing 25 pounds, 50 pounds, 75 pounds, and 100 pounds; a charm for reaching goal weight; a charm for hitting Lifetime membership; and a charm for an exercise challenge. Even though they were literally just silly little tokens to represent my hard work, it was exciting to get them!

So, I thought it would be a good system for the kids in cross country as well. I bought some little charms from the jewelry section at a craft store. Then I made a bunch of keychains out of denim (I needed something fast and easy and cheap, so I used the seams from old jeans). When describing this incentive to the kids, I called the charms "tokens" instead of "charms" so that the boys on the team wouldn't be turned off to the idea ;)

charm incentive

There are nine different colors of tokens, and each color represents a different achievement. Some of them are very elite, and some of them are easier, but all of them require effort. As the kids earn their first token, I give them the keychain with their token on it. And then if they earn more through the season, they can add to it.

charm incentives

Pink - First girl from our team to finish each race
Blue - First boy from our team to finish each race
Dark green - Run a mile under 9:00 minutes
Light green - Run a mile under 8:00 minutes
Black - Winning team of a relay race we will have at practice
Purple - Accumulate 25 miles at practice throughout the season
Lime green - Beat your own time trial time (the kids run a one-mile time trial in the first practice; then again at the end of the season, so they can see how much they improved)
Mauve - Beat the individualized goal that Coach Katie and Coach Renee set for you
Gold - Accumulate 30 miles at practice through the season

The whole purpose is to make the tokens difficult enough to earn that they will be a big deal. Nobody will be able to earn every single color (like not everyone in Weight Watchers is going to lose 50, 75, or 100 pounds), so the tokens are more elite than a participation award. That makes them more desirable; and, therefore, the kids will work harder to get them.

The faster kids have their sights on the tokens that represent speed, while the other kids are working on building up their mileage and improving their own times. The age group that we coach is perfect for a system like this (we coach 3rd through 5th graders).

And speaking of which, I have to head out now for our first race of the season!

September 14, 2018

DIY Textured Ceiling Removal Update and Jerry's Birthday Surprise

Today is Jerry's birthday! He's 38. I simply cannot believe it. When did we get this old?! We feel so much younger than we did in our early 20's.

We celebrated his birthday on Wednesday, because he was off work and we didn't have anything else going on. By "celebrate", I don't mean anything fancy. We just had really good sandwiches from Erie Bread Co., something we haven't gotten in a long time. I had the 13-8-on-9 sandwich (I have no idea how it got that name). It was as amazing as I remember.

13-8-on-9 from Erie Bread Co.

After that, we gave him a couple of birthday gifts--"the kids" gave him an external hard drive for his computer (something he's been wanting) and I gave him a pair of boxer briefs (whenever I see fun boxer briefs I buy a pair and give them to him as a little surprise gift here and there--kind of like giving a girl flowers, haha).

THEN, I did something that I've been dreading for our entire relationship--I watched Star Wars for the first time ever. And... I dressed up like Princess Leia when I told him what we'd be doing! Soooo cheesy, but I knew he'd be thrilled to watch the movie with me, and the fact that I dressed like Princess Leia (complete with the wig and white boots) made his day. I would post a picture, but I was not feeling particularly good about myself in that costume. I felt like every single pound I've gained recently was visible.

Anyway, I hated the movie. I really wanted to like it! But it's totally not my kind of movie. Jerry was very happy that I finally watched it, though.

Now, about our DIY popcorn ceiling removal...

It wasn't actually popcorn ceiling, but a texture that is called "stomped". It looked like this:

stomped ceiling texture

We have been working on removing it for what feels like months! But it's only been a couple of weeks. At the same time, we decided to paint the kitchen because the kitchen needs new flooring (nightmare!) and now this whole thing has turned into a DIY kitchen renovation.

First, we sprayed sections of the ceiling with water, and then used a putty knife (I always call it a scraper, so I just looked it up, and it's actually called a putty knife) to slide along the ceiling. The texture fell right off! But it was a HUGE (and I mean HUGE) mess.

After we scraped it (accidentally making little nicks here and there that we'd have to fill later) we went through and scraped it all again to make sure we got it down to the drywall. We wanted it to be as even as possible, obviously.

After that, we patched up the little nicks. And then the real work... I went through and re-mudded each drywall joint with joint compound to level it all out. If you've never done that, it takes some serious skill. And I'm not saying that I have the skill! It's honestly like an art. I have so much respect for people who can do it well.

I got better at it after each joint that I did. The first ones were thick and a little sloppy... but by the last ones, I barely had to use any compound so they would need very little sanding. I designated Jerry as the sander, initially, because that seemed like the worst job of all ;)

sanding the ceiling

After I did the joints (twice, because the ones where we took down the walls in the kitchen were very uneven, and they needed 2-3 coats), it was time to sand. And that's what I've been doing for the last three days--mudding and sanding. I really want it to look good when I'm done (because I've been doing 90% of the work; if it turns out horrible, it'll be my fault).

I felt like Darth Vader in this mask. It was so hard to breathe!

sanding the ceilings

I feel like my arms should be as toned as Jillian Michaels'.

They're not.

Today, I pulled the backsplash off of the kitchen walls. (It's ugly--it was just a block of laminate countertop that is pretty standard in manufactured homes.)

formica backsplash

laminate backsplash removal

It literally took me about four hours to do this little job! It was glued to the countertop AND stapled from underneath. The glue was ridiculously strong. And now I have to figure out how to get rid of the staples--we're going to install a new backsplash after we paint everything.

formica countertop staples

By "everything", I mean: the ceiling in the kitchen, living room, and dining room; the trim in all those rooms; the walls in each room; the kitchen cupboards; and the dining table. Crazy, right?! We also need to install new flooring in the kitchen (we have some water damage from the furnace that we recently replaced). Since we're doing the flooring in the kitchen, we're going to do the living room and dining room as well (they are all connected--it's very open--so it would be odd to do just one room).

Did I mention this is a huge project?

This afternoon, I bought the primer for the ceiling and walls. I'm hoping we can get the sanding done and get ALL of the dust cleaned out by Monday so we can prime. I haven't decided on the colors we're going to use for everything, but I really like green and yellow for the kitchen. I was picturing lemons and limes, and today I came across these tiles on Pinterest, and these colors are exactly what I had in mind! I just don't know what color to put where. I'm terrible at these decisions. I have no sense of style.

yellow and green tiles

Anyway, that's where we're at now! I learned that drywall dust makes the BEST dry shampoo. And that bruises can form bruises on top of bruises (my shins are bruised from pressing against the rungs on the ladder when sanding). Also, this ceiling project is a really good workout!

September 11, 2018

First speed work in... two years?

It seems that going to bed early has made quite the difference in getting me up and running (literally) in the mornings. Today, I dressed in my running clothes again when I woke up, and decided I'd run after dropping the kids off at school. I think that running before I return home in the mornings will be helpful. When I was regularly running 4-6 days a week, it was always in the mornings.

Last night, I really didn't want to go to bed--it was hard making myself go to bed by 10:45. My target is 10:30, but I was really caught up in a book, so I pushed it a bit. I'd started reading "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. This is one of my favorite books I've ever read--which is surprising, because it's about 1,000 pages long and I'm a super slow reader. 

While I loved The Pillars of the Earth, I found the sequel, "World Without End", to be even better. It was over 1,000 pages and I finished it in about two weeks--which is insanely fast for me. I couldn't put it down! Anyway, it's been a while since I read them, so I decided to start them again. 

This morning, I took the kids to school and then stopped at the State Park again. I decided to do run/walk intervals today. I hesitate to call it "speed work" because I'm certainly not speedy right now, but I think adding intervals will help with my calorie burn.

When I was training for the 10K, I think it was the combination of super slow, easy running + intervals + tempo (an 80/20 ratio of easy to hard work) that helped me to drop weight. After I was at my goal of 133, I continued to drop weight fairly easily without much effort--and I'm pretty certain it was the change in my training method (along with calorie counting). 

I set my Garmin for 8 intervals of 2 minutes hard, with 1 minute walking in between. I started with a 5-minute warm-up jog at an easy pace. When I started the first interval, it felt so odd (running with a hard effort). I definitely felt a little rusty, and I wasn't sure if I could even continue. I didn't pay any attention to my pace--I just kept going and hoping that I could actually finish the interval.

It was the longest two minutes EVER.

When the Garmin beeped for me to start walking, I was so relieved. Only to find out that it was the shortest minute EVER.

Beep. Start running hard again. Wondering how two minutes could possibly feel so long. Beep. Walk.

After the fourth interval, I knew there was no way I could do eight. I don't know what I was thinking! I would never have a beginner start with eight, and that's pretty much what I am--a beginner (again). So, I chose to shoot for six. 

Interestingly, after my sixth interval and the one minute walk, I was exactly back at my car. I hadn't planned that, and I had taken a route I'd never done before (hoping it would be 2.5 miles or so). It ended up being two miles, but that was perfect for the six intervals (plus warm-up). 

I was pretty surprised when I checked out my pace from the run. I assumed I'd been running "hard" at a 9:30-10:00/mi pace (considering my "easy" pace run was about 12:00 yesterday). But I managed to run four of the intervals at a sub-9:00 pace, so I was pretty happy with that. Three of them were the exact same pace (8:48)--I couldn't time it like that again if I tried. 

Running at a hard pace like that made me feel really good afterward. I always used to love that feeling after a hard run--like I had really pushed myself, making my muscles tired and a little achy the rest of the day. 

Jerry's birthday is on Friday, but he is going to be working, so we're going to celebrate it tomorrow. I have something fun planned, but Jerry's been reading my blog lately, so I will have to write about it afterward ;) 

September 10, 2018

A New Fall Routine

Wow. Jerry and I were completely overwhelmed with the kind responses to my last post. He was really glad I wrote it and said it motivated him to start working on a guest post. He really appreciates all of the kind comments and support! Thank you. Sincerely.

Last week, I was working on getting into a good routine with the kids now that they are back in school. Now that I have that down, I want to get in a good routine myself. Starting with getting to bed at a decent hour. Last night, I went to bed at 10:45--which is very early compared to what I'm used to! All summer, I was staying up until 2:00-3:00.

When I woke up this morning, I didn't feel as tired as I usually do (what a surprise, right?). It wasn't a huge chore to get out of bed.

Another thing I want to add to my routine is running--I know that it will help my anxiety if I just make myself do it. So, this morning, I dressed in running clothes and decided that I would stop and run after dropping Noah off at school.

It was raining outside, but I used to love running in the rain, so I wasn't going to use that as a reason not to run. Also, the weather is FINALLY cooling off! Last week, we had a couple of days when the temperature was in the 90's--it was insane. It was so hot and humid that we had two days in a row with a heat advisory. I brought a spray bottle to cross country practice and sprayed the kids down after each lap they ran. They loved it!

As I type this, I'm wearing jeans and a hoodie. It's 58 degrees.

Yesterday, the weather just felt like good running weather--so, I started thinking that it's time I get running again. I put it off so much during the summer because it was so hot and humid; also, I was super tired all the time from staying up so late (it was a bad habit I developed and just couldn't get out of). I think going to bed earlier and getting enough sleep will help with all sorts of things from my running motivation to my anxiety.

After dropping Noah off, I debated where to run. I wanted to go run a dirt/gravel path at a park near the college, but with it raining, I knew the path would be muddy. So, I decided to just go to "old faithful"--the State Park. There is a loop that is 1.5 miles, so I figured I'd run that for 30 minutes (circle it once, and then add an out-and-back to hit 30 minutes).

My main focus was to go slow enough to keep my heart rate as low as I could. My pace was slow (12:00/mile), but the run certainly didn't feel easy. Still, though, I felt glad to be out there doing it. I knew it would put me in a better mood for the day, and it would help me to stay on track with calorie counting.

Run at State Park

I was trying to keep my hat from putting a shadow over my eyes for this photo, and I just ended up looking jolly. Haha!

Only a few minutes into the run, I looked up and startled by a deer that was super close to me (relatively close, I should say--most of the time, deer run away as soon as they spot me; this deer was totally chill with me being just across the road. I stopped to pull my phone out of my FlipBelt and take a picture of the deer.


Just after I saw that one, I saw another deer, eating berries from a tree. Again, I was super close, but she just kept eating.


The whole time I was running, I was listening to that audiobook I wrote about ("Born A Crime" by Trevor Noah). I was planning to only listen to it while I was driving Noah to and from school, but I got really caught up in it. I listened to it for several hours while I was working on the ceilings in my house (it's still a huge mess--we are now ready to sand) and then today during my run, I noticed there was only about 15 minutes left to the book. I finished it on my way home from the park. It was SO good!

And, now I'm a fan of audiobooks ;) I have one more that I had gotten for free from the trial membership of Audible on Amazon. I don't even remember what book it is. But I think the main reason I liked "Born A Crime" was because of Trevor Noah's very entertaining reading of it. I think the narrator can make a huge difference in how engrossing the audiobook can be.

Anyway, my run was slow (12:00/mile), my heart rate was higher than I'd like (150 bpm), but I managed to do 30 minutes in the drizzling rain and I felt great afterward. It actually made a big difference in my mood today.

I'm not going to start making challenges and plans and all of that to get back to running (I seem to jinx myself when I get carried away). But I definitely would like to make an effort to run in the mornings after taking Noah to school. There is no reason not to!

After my run, I went grocery shopping. I was feeling good about the run, and decided to get some of my old favorites from when I was calorie counting and feeling my best. I used to eat a Larabar and drink a cup of tea with cream and sugar every single morning for breakfast. I loved that simple routine; getting the kids ready for school, packing lunches, and then sitting down with my Larabar and tea for 30 minutes or so before we'd have to leave for school.

Interestingly, I haven't been very much into sweets lately. So weird, right?! It's like when I suddenly had an aversion to peanut butter in 2016 (I still don't really love it or seek it out). I do still like desserts, but I'll usually choose chips or something like that when I want a snack in the evenings. I have no idea why this happened (just like the peanut butter thing) but I'm not complaining ;)

Anyway, I'll leave you with this oh-so-flattering picture of Estelle--always staying classy.

classy cat

September 09, 2018

A very personal post that I've been questioning writing for 10 months

The last 10 months or so have really taken a toll on me. I've been wanting to write about it, and I had the go-ahead to do it, but I questioned whether I wanted to or not. I know how cruel people can be on the internet, which is what prevented me from writing about this before; but I also know how kind people can be, so I am counting on that to outweigh the negative.

The whole thing started last December. (It actually started before that, but I didn't really take notice of it until December when it became very apparent.)

It was early December, and Jerry and I were sitting in the living room with the kids. I forget what we were chatting about, but the topic of Christmas came up. Jerry is obsessed with Christmas--he LOVES it. He always wants to go all-out at Christmastime, and I am the total opposite. I'm a grinch. I think Christmas is stressful and pretentious, and I would avoid it completely if not for Jerry. It's even become a joke between us every year.

Anyway, we started talking about Christmas and Jerry started to talk and then he got choked up. He sounded bitter as he said something about Christmas not meaning anything to any of us. I was in shock. Jerry NEVER gets upset with us--even when he legitimately deserves to--so to see him actually have tears in his eyes about it felt surreal.

That was when I knew something was wrong. At the time, I didn't want to believe it; but in retrospect, when my stomach just sank. I knew that Jerry was experiencing depression.

It broke my heart. I wanted to fix it. I wanted to make it better and seem like it never happened. I wanted him to be back to the normal, happy-go-lucky, carefree, super FUN guy that he always had been.

I decided at that moment that I would do anything it took to make Christmas special for Jerry. As much as I disliked Christmas, I planned to make a big deal about it for him. As you may remember, I planned a surprise date for him--going to Somerset Collection (a mall) to have family photos with Santa.

He LOVED that, thank God. I also wanted to make a big deal about decorating our Christmas tree. When Jerry had a night off, I planned for our family to decorate the tree. I told Jerry to get the lights that he wanted, and he had gotten the lights the week before. On the day we were going to decorate the tree, I asked Jerry if he had checked the lights to make sure they worked.

He plugged in all four boxes. One of them didn't work.

Jerry was super upset. It was one thing that really triggered him.

He called Wal-Mart, where he had bought them, and they were out of stock of these particular lights. He became very upset, and actually cried and went into the bedroom (SO unlike him!!). I felt horrible. The kids were stunned.

I decided I was going to go out and find these particular lights that he wanted. It was 8PM. I told the kids what I was doing, and Noah asked to come with me. He felt really bad for Jerry. I tried to think outside the box--what is a store that people don't typically go to for Christmas lights?

I chose Lowe's. Noah and I walked into Lowe's, and wouldn't you know it, there was ONE BOX of those lights on the shelf. I plugged them in to make sure they worked, and then we bought the box and went home. Jerry was so grateful, and said it was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for him.

We made a big production of decorating the tree as a family while playing Christmas music (Jerry's obsession, starting on Thanksgiving) and making the whole thing important to him. He was so grateful!

It was that night that I really knew things were serious. He wasn't just messing around; he was depressed.

Ever since then, I've been doing my best to help Jerry deal with depression. He'd never had an episode of depression in his life; this was completely new to him, as well as to me.

I was so used to Jerry taking care of me during my depressive episodes, and when he was showing obvious signs of depression, I was taken aback. I knew what to do, but it scared the hell out of me. He'd always been my rock, my "constant"... I knew that no matter what I was feeling or going through, he would still be the same old Jerry (happy, carefree, and funny).

It's now 10 months later, and I'm still going through it. Jerry has been trying to write a guest post for my blog, but he has no idea how to write it. He told me a long time ago that I could write about this, but I just didn't feel like it was the right time. Recently, he really wanted to make it known--because I am such an advocate for education on mental health/illness, he wanted his story to be told.

I won't share his story, because I'd love for him to do that one day. But I'm writing my side of it because it just feels like the right time. Depression can literally hit ANYONE at ANY time. Jerry never showed any signs of it before.

Remember when I mentioned that Jerry went to the emergency room from work one night? He was having symptoms that he believed was a heart attack; but it turned out to be anxiety related, and he was having a panic attack. It was awful to watch him go through that. After the testing they did in the ER, we knew he was okay; but his symptoms were alarming to me.

I am desperate to make it better. I don't want him feeling that way. I know how horrible depression feels, and when he talks to me about it, I feel like I would give anything at all to make him feel better. I've been encouraging him to reach out to his friends and to make plans with people.

There have been a couple more incidents that have happened since Christmas, and each time, it makes me worry. I am so glad that I was able to get diagnosed with bipolar and start the correct medications before all of this happened with Jerry. But I also feel the guilt and I always question myself about whether I caused this somehow.

I'm so glad that our relationship is as strong as it is--otherwise, we may not have been able to handle all of this. With my bipolar and his depression, it sounds like a huge recipe for disaster. But we have managed to make it work in a positive way. We been honest with the kids, and they have been awesome. They were in just as much shock as I was last Christmas regarding the Christmas lights. That's why Noah decided to go with me to find the lights for Jerry.

Jerry and I went to see my therapist together, hoping that it would help us to learn how to help each other. He didn't want to talk to me when he was feeling depressed (because he didn't want to upset me), and I didn't want to talk to him when I was depressed (for the same reason)--we were too worried about making each other worry. So, my therapist helped us to understand how to talk to each other about it. And then, we read The 5 Love Languages, which helped more than I can even describe. I can't recommend that book enough! (Here is a review that I wrote about it)

Jerry really just wants people to know that depression can happen to anybody at anytime. He agrees that it's super important to validate one's feelings, no matter what. He plans to write a guest post about all of this. In the meantime, though, I wanted to share my feelings about it...

I am scared to death that he won't feel better. I am desperate to make him feel better. I would give just about anything for him to feel happy! I feel like I can handle my own depressive episodes, because I'm used to it; but seeing him go through it is the worst.

I've wanted to write about this frequently, especially when I've been feeling down and I feel the need to explain.

A few days ago, a boy that Noah went to school with in preschool and elementary school died by suicide. Noah just started 9th grade--he has his whole life in front of him. When I heard of this boy who took his own life (just before starting 9th grade) I was completely heartbroken. His family was not secretive about it being a suicide, which I think is fantastic. People need to talk about it more.

Jerry doesn't feel suicidal (thank God) but his feelings affect the whole family. It hurts to see him upset for any reason at all.

Anyway, Jerry may be sharing a personal post about all of this himself soon, but in the meantime, he said it was okay for me to write about it. Depression can appear out of nowhere and hit just about anyone. Jerry was always super carefree and happy, and this was a huge shock to me.

I feel relieved to write about this, because I can better explain what is going on and why I'm feeling the way I do in certain circumstances. Jerry is the most amazing husband, and I want to see him get the support he needs. Since his family and friends view him as the exact opposite of someone who is depressed, he needs people that understand; people that will treat him well despite the circumstances.

I know that you will all be kind, so thank you very much for understanding. Jerry is such a great guy--he deserves to feel the love and understanding from all who know him.

I hope everyone has a great rest of the weekend!

September 06, 2018

Weight Loss Update: Julie's 100-Pound Weight Loss, 3 Years Later

Today, I have a guest post from Julie. A few years ago, she shared a bit about her weight loss for the 100th Motivational Monday post (20 people who had lost 100+ pounds). I always love to hear from people who have been working at maintenance for a while, and I'm excited to share her update with you! Here is what's been going on with her, and her weight maintenance, for the last three years. 

I am so excited to be writing this update for you on my weight loss journey. Not for the reasons that you might be thinking, however.

Since writing the first story about my 100 pound weight loss for Katie’s blog three years ago, I have struggled to keep the weight off! Yep, people, the struggle is real. However, losing that 100 pounds has changed my life so dramatically that sometimes I still have to pinch myself because I can’t believe that I am living this life.

After losing 100 pounds in 16 months, I did pretty good at keeping my weight at or around 140 pounds for a solid three years. I was running five days a week and entering a lot of road races. I went from 5K's to 10K's, and eventually signed up for my first half marathon.

I was enjoying my new body! I started a fashion Pinterest board and began to buy beautiful new clothes. The day that I was finally able to shop at Ann Taylor Loft and White House Black Market was magical. Being able to pick out clothes that I wanted to wear instead just buying whatever fit me was a game changer. I was feeling so good about my life!

Then, my weight crept up to about 147 pounds 2016. However, it wasn’t so bad. I still felt great! I was still running 4-5 days a week and I began lifting weights three days a week, working with a trainer. I was feeling very strong.

I turned 50 that year and never felt better. I felt better at 50 than I did at 40, for sure! The year that I turned 50, I decided to check an item off my bucket list by walking the Camino de Santiago. The Camino de Santiago is a 500 mile walk across Spain!

I started my walk in June in St. Jean Pied de Port, France, and reached Santiago, Spain 31 days later. For me, it was a spiritual journey that changed my life in so many ways, but that’s a story for another time. I know, however, that I would not have been able to complete that pilgrimage if I had still weighed 243 pounds.

And, by the way, when you are walking 13 to 20 miles a day, you can pretty much eat whatever you want and NOT GAIN WEIGHT. I ate ice cream every day! Sometimes more than one. Funny, though, other pilgrims were losing dramatic amounts of weight, but nope--not me. On the bright side, I didn’t track my eating for 35 days and I didn’t gain any weight! That was a new concept for me.

In 2017, I began to slowly gain more weight and I was weighing in consistently at about 153 pounds. I was trying to get that 10 pounds off, but nothing seemed to be working. I continued to run and lift weights, so I was still feeling strong--pretty good, actually. But the weight was just not coming off. Since I still felt so good, I guess maybe I wasn’t trying too hard to lose it!

Weekends have always been so hard for me. I love to have good meals with my family, which usually include beer or wine, and I just haven’t been willing to give that up. I was still signing up for road races and by this time, a few of my friends had taken up running, too. We made it a goal to sign up and run at least one road race per month.

In 2017, I also decided to start a 5K road race here in the town that I live in, San Juan Bautista, with the proceeds benefiting the students of San Juan School (where I teach 3rd grade). Thankfully, the race was very successful! (We actually had our 2nd Annual Fiesta Fun Run this past May. We included a 5K, 10K, and 1 Mile Fun Run and doubled our participants!)

Then came 2018--the year I decided to run my first full marathon. Yikes!

The training was much more intense than I thought it would be. It was hard to get all my runs in and and continue to work full time. I was always exhausted and I got sick three times during the winter and spring.

During my marathon training, I decided to take a break from weight lifting. I just didn’t have enough time (or energy!) in my day. My appetite amped up right along with my mileage. I was always hungry. So I started eating more and was not able to stay within my daily Weight Watchers points goal and earn my blue dots (which are earned by eating within a certain healthy range every day).

It was frustrating but I needed the calories! I was still weighing in at about 153, not gaining weight but not losing either. (Don’t most people lose weight when they train for a marathon? Ugh!).

I finally ran my first marathon on April 28, 2018. It was the Big Sur International Marathon and the route was majestic! But it was SO. FREAKIN’. HARD. There was hill after hill after hill!

For a brief moment during the marathon at mile 21, I thought that I might not make it to the finish line. Yep! I hit that proverbial wall. But, I pulled up my big girl panties, prayed a couple of “Our Father’s” and “Hail Mary’s”, and was able to shuffle my way across the finish line. I earned that coveted medal!

Needless to say, I stopped running the next day. At first, it was just for recovery. I kept telling myself that you’re not supposed to run for three weeks after a marathon, right? And remember, I was no longer lifting weights either. So, basically, I wasn’t doing anything. But, I was still eating. A lot! I still had a huge appetite.

You know what happens when you don’t exercise but you still eat like you are, right? You gain weight, people! And that’s just what I did. The scale crept up to 163 pounds. YIKES!!

Now that it is summer and I am on vacation (the benefit of being a school teacher), I have gotten back into running and weight training. For the past month, I have been running 4-5 days a week as I train for a half marathon in September.

I’ll being running The Giant Race, which is a half that I love and have run for the past 3 years. It’s in San Francisco and the finish line is on the Giant’s home field at AT&T Park. It’s so fun and I am totally motivated to train for it!

I’m also back to weight training at the gym three days a week. I missed weight training and I like the way I feel when I am doing it consistently. I feel strong and I love the way my body looks when I more muscular. It’s not perfect, my body. Never has been and never will be.

But after losing 100 pounds, weight training is the one thing that has made me feel more confident about the way my body looks. The muscles help fill up the loose skin, kind of.

I have been working very hard at eating to lose weight. The scale is going down slowly. I am at 159 pounds right now. Though every day is a struggle, I am not going to give up! I will never give up at this weight loss thing. My weight may go up a little and down a little; it’s the ebb and flow of life. But I will always work at being healthy and strong and living my best life!

Julie Castaneda-Hicks lives in San Juan Bautista, California, with her husband of 28 years, Micheal Hicks. She is the mother of two adult children, Ashley, who is 25 years old, and Zachary, who is 23 years old. She has been teaching at her local elementary school for 25 years, where she currently teaches 3rd grade.

September 05, 2018

Currents: What I've Been Reading, Watching, Listening to, etc.

As you know, one of my 40 Goals by 40 Years Old is to read more--I have a goal to read 40 books (before I'm 40) and to read the Bible from cover to cover. As someone who is a very slow reader and easily distracted by pretty much everything (not to mention bipolar), it takes me forever to finish a book (if I finish it at all).

However, I would really like to reach these long term goals, so I've been chipping away at them slowly. Already this year, I've read more books than in the last three years combined!

Anyway, I still have other forms of entertainment--podcasts, a few digital games, and TV shows--so I'm trying to balance out the vices (mainly TV) with some reading. Here are some current things I've been reading/watching/listenting to/playing...

What I'm Reading...

The Gender Game - This is the first book of a young adult series written by Bella Forrest. I was told that if I liked The Hunger Games and Divergent, I would love this series. It took me about half of the book to get into it, but but I'm almost finished with it and I'm definitely hooked! In fact, I told myself I can't finish it until I write this blog post, haha. (There really should be a better title for the book--I put off reading it for so long because the title sounds dumb.)

(Don't worry, there are no spoilers here) - In a nutshell, this book is a dystopian story about a divided nation--there is Matrus, a kingdom ruled by women; and Patrus, a kingdom ruled by men. Each has its own set of laws and ways of life. The main character, a girl (I think she's about 18?) named Violet is on a quest to reunite with her brother, who was taken from her in Matrus when she was 8 years old. She has to perform a task for the queen (by going undercover to Patrus) and the queen says that if she completes the task, she'll be able to see her brother.

It sounds cheesy and kind of ridiculous, but what post-apocolyptic young adult book doesn't? To be honest, I am mostly hooked on the romance subplot--it's along the same lines of the Katniss/Gale/Peeta drama in The Hunger Games, Tris and Tobias in Divergent, and Bella/Edward/Jacob in Twilight. Teen drama, being torn in two directions, forbidden love, etc. I'm a sucker for that.

Now that I'm hooked, I'm sure I'll be reading the next (six!) books in the series. Anyway, here is a link to the first of the book series on Amazon: "The Gender Game" by Bella Forrest.

What I'm Listening To...

I never, ever listen to audiobooks. When I've tried, I always found myself getting distracted and realizing that I missed everything in the last couple of chapters. So, I usually don't bother with audiobooks; I like short audio (like podcasts).

However, now that I'm going to be in the car for two hours a day (driving Noah to and from school), I decided to give audiobooks another try. Amazon was always advertising a free Audible trial, which included two free audiobooks (to keep, whether you continue the trial or not--I'll link to it below). To be honest, I signed up for the free trial, got my free books, and then canceled the trial (knowing I probably wouldn't use it enough to justify the cost). But I figured it was worth giving audiobooks another try.

(Here is a link to sign up for the free 30-day trial--you have to give them your credit card info so they can charge you if you decide to keep the membership, but you get two free credits to "buy" audiobooks that you can keep! In full disclosure, I get a commission for the referral, but I honestly didn't even know about that until I just went to look up the link to post here.)

Anyway, one of the books that I chose with the free trial is called "Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood" by Trevor Noah. I started it yesterday, listening to it solely while I'm driving, and I love it so far! Maybe listening in the car is my solution to audiobooks, because there aren't any other distractions--I just watch the road and listen to the book.

I didn't know this when I got the book, but apparently Trevor Noah is a celebrity--he is the host of The Daily Show. I'm not sure what drew me to buy that particular book, but it had really great reviews, and it was a memoir--I love memoirs!

I'm really glad I got the audiobook version, because I think that his voice (Trevor Noah is the narrator) makes the stories so much greater. His South African accent brings the stories to life and makes them even funnier (the accent is only mild, and he's very easy to understand). He changes his voice when reading conversations between people, which is entertaining.

Anyway, I'm not very far into it (about two hours out of eight), but listening to this book has made me rethink audiobooks in general--I will definitely give another book a try after I'm done with this one! (And luckily, my library lends out digital audiobooks--there is usually a waitlist for the popular ones, but I don't mind waiting)

I've also been listening to some podcasts, but haven't searched out any new ones in a while. When I was scraping the ceilings last week, I turned on a podcast and just listened for hours. My very favorite is still This Is Actually Happening  (and thankfully, there are so many episodes that I still have several that I haven't listened to yet). I have been listening to Risk! recently again as well (which is a pretty similar show--true stories by everyday people).


What I'm Watching...

I've been really excited for the fall season of shows to start back up, so I haven't been watching anything super interesting lately. I've actually been watching more movies than I have TV shows.

I discovered the coolest website/app several months ago that made me want to watch more movies... it's called Letterboxd, and it is basically like GoodReads--only it's for movies instead of books!

Below is my "diary" page--where it keeps track of all the movies I've ever seen (I backlogged a lot, but obviously I can't remember every movie I've ever seen, so I just add to this whenever I think of it).

You can keep a list of movies you've seen; rate movies; review movies; read reviews from others; make a queue of movies you want to see; create lists of movies (for example, I have a "Tom Hanks" list so that I can keep track of the Tom Hanks movies I've seen as part of my 40 Goals list); search through/follow other people's movies; see what movies are popular this week; browse similar titles; and even see where you can watch each movie! (Netflix, Amazon, in theaters, etc.)

If you're going through movies on the app and you find one you want to watch, you can just tap on "Go Watch It" and it'll show you all of your options...

When it's still in theaters:

This is the greatest app ever for people who like movies. (Unfortunately, I don't get commission for recommending this--because clearly, I'm am very excited about it, haha.)

Over the summer, a few of the movies I've watched (for the first time) are:

The Meg (I went with Eli, who had been SO exited for months to go see it)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
47 Meters Down
Patriots Day
John Wick 2
Friday the 13th (the original)
The Money Pit

I really liked The Meg and Jurassic World. Ever since the first Jurassic Park movie came out, I've been in such awe of what they are able to do with movies like that and have it look so realistic.

The movie 47 Meters Down was terrifying! I didn't mind the sharks as much as the thought of being stuck in a cage at the bottom of the ocean--that is one of the scariest scenarios imaginable.

Patriots Day was amazing! I can't believe I hadn't seen it before.

Loved John Wick 2. I've always liked Keanu Reeves.

Friday the 13th was fun, because Noah's birthday fell on Friday the 13th this year and he wanted to have a viewing party for all the movies. The kids only ended up watching two of them, but I'd never seen them before, so it was fun. And listening to Noah and his teen friends watch it was so funny!

The Money Pit was HILARIOUS. I loved the banter between Tom Hanks' character and his wife, especially at the end.

As far as TV shows, I can't think of any that I've watched lately! I think the last was the second season of The Handmaids Tale. I'm really looking forward to the return of This Is Us, Shameless, and the Chicago shows--Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med. Jerry and I watch them together, and we're excited for them to start up again.

What I'm Playing...

I've never been big into playing games on my phone; it drives me crazy enough when I see my kids doing it! But, I was bored one day and decided to start back up playing a ridiculous drawing game. It's cleverly titled "Draw Something (Classic)". And it's basically like Pictionary except you draw it on your phone and then it sends it to whoever you are playing with.

That person has to guess what it is, and then it's their turn to draw something for you. I'm really terrible at it (it's so hard to draw any sort of details with my fat fingers on my tiny iPhone) but that's what makes it so fun. Jerry and I make fun of each other's drawings and basically act like children.

I also started playing the games on "Lumosity" again. I used to play them a long time ago, but just kind of forgot about the app. I like these games because they are more "grown up" and there is a reason behind playing each one (memory, problem solving, attention, etc.). As I've said a thousand times, my biggest fear is getting Alzheimer's disease one day, and whether "exercising" my mind actually helps or not, I like to think that it does! And some of the games are fun.

My favorites are the train game, where you have to correctly direct (by flipping the track) different color trains to the corresponding stations within a certain amount of time (when all the trains are there at once, it's SO confusing and everything happens so fast). I finally unlocked the last level (level 14) on that game, and I was super excited when I did it! haha

I also like the coffee making game, where you have to prepare a ton of orders of coffee--some with one cream, some with two, one or two sugars, one or two cinnamon sticks, and a few other things. You have two minutes to complete all the orders, which is just ridiculous when you get to the last level (I just unlocked that one yesterday)!

Another favorite is where you have to direct your "ship" to the X using the shortest path without getting hit by any of the other ships. You have to think several steps ahead, and it's challenging, but I love problem solving.

This turned into a much longer post than I anticipated! Anyone else reading/watching/listening to/planing something good? Please share!

September 04, 2018

A Personal Check-In

I haven't written much about my personal life lately, mainly because I've been so busy the last few weeks. But also because there really isn't much to write! I'm not sure if that's fortunate or unfortunate, but I'll try to catch up with whatever comes to mind.

My kids started school today. Noah is now in ninth grade and Eli is in seventh. Can you believe it? Check out this post--their first day of school way back when my blog was brand new. Noah was going into second grade and Eli into kindergarten! Now, the boys are taller than I am. This past year, they shot up like rockets, and definitely look more like teenagers than kids.

As I wrote before, I didn't finish any of the challenges I made for myself this summer! I decided not to even start any more challenges for a while, mainly because it's embarrassing to announce that I'm going to do something and then not follow through.


At the beginning of the summer, I was very excited about doing the Runs for Cookies Summer Running Challenge--but then it got super hot and humid, and I just wasn't excited about running. So, I only lasted a few weeks. I am in awe of all of the people who are continuing to do it. It's inspiring to see their posts on social media.

Speaking of running, I haven't been. I HATE to sound whiny about it because it drives me crazy when other people rattle off excuses about why they don't do something. So, I'm not trying to whine or make excuses. I want to run--I genuinely want to get back to running regularly--but I am just having the hardest time getting myself back to that mental place where I didn't even think about whether or not I was going to run. I just did it.

I think part of the problem is that running feels so hard now that I'm basically starting from scratch again. I can't keep my heart rate where it should be unless I'm walking. My breathing is labored and my legs feel heavy. Just running two miles at a very slow pace is challenging for me!

I know that I need to keep in mind that it will get easier (I even wrote a post years ago about how it gets easier!) and that I need to just run consistently to get there. If I continue to do it, I can eventually get back to the fitness level where running three miles at a low heart rate is no big deal and running 5-6 miles for a "long run" once a week doesn't feel like a chore.

Just writing that out (and reading my previous post) makes me feel excited--like I want to do it! Now I just need to carry that excitement over to the morning ;)  Noah is going to the community college for school (a dual enrollment program) and it's much farther away than the high school.

There are several places that are great for running between the college and my house, so my hope is that I'll dress in running clothes before taking him to school, and then I'll stop somewhere on the way home for a short run.

Anyway, that's where I'm at as far as fitness/running goes right now. The desire is there! I just have to make it a habit again.


Again, this is something I've been struggling with lately. To get back down to my goal weight, or at least my "happy" weight, I know that the best way for me is to count calories. That has always worked in the past. And I honestly don't mind the calorie counting! I especially like the Fat Secret app for tracking my calories, and it really doesn't feel like a chore once I get some momentum.

I've been making attempts at getting back to it but because I haven't done it in so long, I'm having a hard time getting back in the habit. I enjoy cooking without measuring out ingredients, and I think that is the hardest part about getting used to calorie counting--measuring out ingredients.

I just have to be prepared to take a little extra time to plan things out. Also, I don't have to be super strict with it--if I have to guesstimate the calories, I'm okay with that. It worked out well before! (When I was first losing weight back in 2009-2010, I was very meticulous about weighing/measuring everything. The last time I counted calories (2015-2016), I did my best and I didn't fret about having to estimate things when needed.)

I hate to sound cliché, but now that the kids will be back in school, I feel like I can get myself into a good routine again--eating at particular times, cooking dinner for all of us to eat together, planning out meals for the week to fit around cross country (Renee and I are coaching again, and we have practice three times a week), etc. And, most importantly, a good sleeping schedule!

I have always felt best when I'm in a routine, so I'm hoping that I can redevelop some good habits this fall. There are several things that I'd like to make a habit again, so I'll work on those. Fall is my favorite time of year, and I'm looking forward to it!

Mental Health

I think that the medication change that my psychiatrist made the last time I saw him has been working really well. I don't feel depressed at all anymore; I still feel down sometimes, but I definitely wouldn't call it depression.

Unfortunately, my anxiety has still been a big problem. I think that a lot of it could be resolved by my diet and exercise, though. When my weight is up, and I'm not consciously eating the way my body responds to best, I just don't feel good about myself. And it causes me to constantly worry about what it's doing to me. So, I think that if I can get back in the good habits of diet and exercise, my anxiety level will be a lot lower.

In a nutshell, though, I'm feeling pretty good right now compared to how I felt a couple of months ago. I'd had mild depression for a long time, but I feel like that is under control. If not for the anxiety, I'd say I was feeling great!


August was our first debt-free month after paying off our credit card in July, and it felt so good! I adjusted our budget a little to meet new goals (pay off our Jeep and save money for doing projects around the house).

We stuck to our budget for August, and we put the leftover money (what normally would have gone toward our debt) in a savings account for our house projects. Since we're working on the house, we want to be able to pay for things as we go as opposed to racking up debt again. We are going to pay cash for everything, even if it means saving up for months to get enough money.

Needless to say, being credit card debt free feels amazing, and I love that we are continuing with our new spending habits.

Other Stuff

Renee and I began coaching cross country a couple of weeks ago, and I'm really enjoying it! It's different for me this year because neither of my kids are on my team (they are both too old for our team now). Renee's kids are too old, also, so neither of us has a kid on the team.

I came up with a fun incentive for the kids this year, but I'll write about that in another post. I'd like the kids to really work on setting and reaching for goals, so I hope that this new incentive will work to motivate them.

I'm still working on the ceilings and kitchen in my house. We removed all of the texture (similar to a popcorn ceiling) from the ceilings in the living room, kitchen, dining room, and hallway. Now, it's just drywall. It would look great as it is if you couldn't see the drywall seams, but now we have to go over the seams with drywall compound. Once we do that, we have to sand it to smooth it out, before finally getting to prime and paint it.

In addition to the ceilings, we took out three cupboards and two small walls in the kitchen. Here is a before and after with the small wall we took out (the only purpose of the wall was to hold the cupboard up). I didn't take a photo of the cupboards before we took them down, but you can kind of see them in this photo of Jerry and me right when we were moving into the house (in 2003!)

This is after removing the cupboards:

And this is after removing the wall:

My kitchen is pretty big as it is, but taking out that wall and cupboard made a huge difference in opening it up. I like it so much more!

We had another cupboard with a small wall that was kind of useless, so we took that out as well:

Just taking out that little wall really made some space in the kitchen, and we were able to move the dining table over quite a bit so it doesn't feel like it's in the way all the time.

We also took off the strips that covered the drywall seams in the kitchen (you can see them in the photos above), so I had to use fiberglass tape and drywall compound to fill those in. It's a lot of work!

And the mess. Oh, the mess. It was awful when we were scraping the ceilings! There was dust/drywall compound everywhere. It's going to be messy until we are done sanding and we can finally clean up well and paint.

When we were working on scraping the ceiling in the living room, I was laying out some sheets to try to contain the mess (haha!) and Estelle was sitting on the coffee table. I draped the sheet right over her, expecting her give me a pissed off look, jump up, and run away. Instead, she just got comfy under the sheet and stayed there! She was there for about 25 minutes, even as I scraped the ceiling right over her and the shavings were falling on her.

Estelle is so funny. Jerry and I were cracking up.

Even though this project has been a lot of work, it's been fun--and I love the way the ceilings are looking now that we removed the texture. I had no idea what a difference it would make in the lighting of the room, too. The texture made a lot of little shadows, which made the room appear darker. Without that, the rooms look bigger and brighter.

(We obviously aren't going to leave the ceilings like this... we have to add a little more drywall compound; then sand, prime, and paint.)

After working on the house non-stop for five days, I took a break for the last couple of days to recharge. I really didn't want to get burnt out before I finished (like I did with the bathroom, haha!). I'll start tackling it again this week.

Yesterday, I finished transferring my knitting/crochet patterns to this blog (I realized that if I backdate them, they won't show up in my feed--I didn't want to bombard you all with patterns that have nothing to do with my blog).

However, since I do love crafts and I'm usually working on something, I am going to make a separate "Crafts" tab on my blog to organize that stuff there. So, I may occasionally post about something I'm working on. Over the last couple of years, I've really branched out my blog to include topics other than weight loss and running, so this is just another topic that is a part of my life.

After posting the patterns yesterday, I really got the urge to knit something. I used to love knitting when I first started losing weight! I would knit in the evenings while watching TV instead of eating, and it really helped to control my binge eating. I would get so involved in a project that I didn't want to stop. My blog usually keeps me busy in the evenings now, but it would be nice to start knitting a little again.

So, that's what's been going on with me lately. I expect that things will change quite a bit now that school started and I'm coaching cross country. Overall, I feel like things are going good!

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