Food, Exercise, and Balance

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I can’t even count the number of times I’ve written about this since I started blogging.  Mostly on my old blog Home of the Croslands over at Blogspot.

Many times in my life, actually, for years, it has been an obsession.

First it was eating all real foods and as naturally as possible.  All of the meat that I bought was natural, and even better, grass fed/organic.  I bought all organic veggies and fruits.  All organic eggs, butter, sour cream, etc.  I bought wheat berries, ground my own wheat, and even soaked it.  I even tried making sprouted flour once.  That was really difficult.  This was all very expensive and we couldn’t afford it, but that didn’t stop me.

Then, I tried the Trim Healthy Mama diet.  I obsessed about what I ate for 6 weeks.  If you know anything about this diet, it is very specific, and it is a lot of work.  You have to eat every 3 hours, or you’re messing it all up.  You can’t eat fats and carbs together.  You can have zero sugar, which means using sugar substitutes such as sugar alcohols and stevia.  All which cause me tummy upset.  I had to cut out a lot of things.

The most recent on was the 21 day fix.  The big thing here is portion control and “eating clean.”  I ate the same thing every day, for every meal.  I didn’t eat enough calories and I worked out like 2 hours a day (the 30 minute workout video, then a hike for about 1 1/2 hours every morning).  It was hard for me to eat enough eating so clean (and with very little fat).

My goal with all of these was weight loss.  Did I lose any weight? Not really.  I lost a few pounds, but nothing significant.

I struggle greatly with balance, and I am a very black and white person.

The last time I tried to lose weight (this summer), I went into a hypomanic episode (thanks, bipolar II).  I began to realize that actually, it happened every single time.  I just didn’t recognize it as such until recently because I’ve only recently been diagnosed.  And anyone that knows anything about bipolar or bipolar II, after the hypomanic episode comes the low… the depression.  I was depressed for several months.  It was miserable.  I couldn’t function.  I felt like I was a drain on everyone around me.  I went the other direction and didn’t take care of my body at all.  No exercise.  Eating terribly.

Since then, I am on all new medications and doses.  I feel like a completely new person.  I feel as though I have energy and desire to spend true, quality time with my family.  I color with them, play games with them, take them on hikes.  I’m homeschooling Karis and it’s going beautifully.  I have a daily routine in which I keep the house clean every day and keep up with laundry.  I feel amazing.

So the question comes back in my mind, can I handle trying to lose weight again?  I mean, I am almost 30 pounds heavier than I was a few years ago.

After lots of soul searching, talking it out, and praying, I have decided that I am done with the days of dieting and exercising to lose weight.

I am learning to be happy and content with who I am, right here, right now.

One of the things that I realized is that I care way too much what other people think about me.  Will I be judged for gaining weight?  What will people think?  People obviously think I am a lazy glutton because of the weight gain, right?

It just doesn’t matter.

I no longer have a scale, and I don’t care about that number anymore.

Does that mean it’s okay to be unhealthy?  No.  Healthy=self care.

So what does all this mean for me?

This means that I will exercise for health.  To feel good.  To set a good example for my kids.  And because I enjoy it.  I will take hikes, ride my bike, do some weight lifting.  Will I do this every day?  Nope.  I will be balanced and do this 3-4 days a week at maximum.  And if I miss a day, I will be okay with that.  Gone are the days of obsessively working out to be a certain size.  It’s not about that anymore.

Now food.  This is a hard one.  Robert (my wonderful husband) has told me that if I need something to follow so that I don’t eat terribly all the time (I feel awful when I do and as I’ve said, I’m very black and white), then I need to create my own way of eating.  What makes ME feel good?  What nutrients does MY body need?  What are some goals that I can have that are perfect for ME?

I’ve come up with a  few small steps that I will add to over time.

  1. Reduce sugar.  Have sugar in my coffee (because this brings me JOY), but try not to have sweets often (on occasion… gotta have a Little Debbie snack once in a while).
  2. Reduce Coke Zero.  This is a big one for me, and I have tried many, many times.  I will be gentle with myself.  My goal is to switch over to La Croix waters, which I love as well.  But I will always get a Coke Zero from Sonic when I’m in town (once or twice a week).
  3. Add in nutrients.  When I am eating a meal, focus on what nutrients are present.  If there’s not enough protein, add some.  If there aren’t enough veggies or fruits, add some.
  4. Eat breakfast.  Every day.  Eggs, Greek yogurt, oatmeal.  Smoothie.  Something.
  5. Eat a snack in the afternoon.  Every day.  Preferably a fruit, veggie, whole grain, or Greek yogurt.
  6. Don’t stress about fats.  Eat butter, peanut butter, full fat dairy, hummus.  Even ranch.  Most of those things are actually nutrient dense (minus the ranch, of course).
  7. Cook most meals at home.  But be okay with eating free food in the dining hall here at camp.

This is a new journey for me.  Self care.  No more scale.  No more weight focus.  Just a focus on health and loving my body just the way it is.  Will you join me?

He Set My Feet on a Rock

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Psalm 34
“I will praise the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
I will boast in the Lord;
the humble will hear and be glad.
Proclaim Yahweh’s greatness with me;
let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to Him are radiant with joy;
their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him from all his troubles.

The Angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear Him, and rescues them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!
You who are His holy ones, fear Yahweh,
for those who fear Him lack nothing.
Young lions lack food and go hungry,
but those who seek the Lord
will not lack any good thing.

Come, children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who delights in life,
loving a long life to enjoy what is good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from deceitful speech.
Turn away from evil and do what is good;
seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and His ears are open to their cry for help.

The face of the Lord is set
against those who do what is evil,
to erase all memory of them from the earth.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
and delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near the brokenhearted;
He saves those crushed in spirit.

Many adversities come to the one who is righteous,
but the Lord delivers him from them all.

He protects all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Evil brings death to the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
The Lord redeems the life of His servants,
and all who take refuge in Him will not be punished.”

Psalm 40:1-3
“I waited patiently for the Lord,
and He turned to me and heard my cry for help.
He brought me up from a desolate pit,
out of the muddy clay,
and set my feet on a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.”

For years I was crying out for help, in a desolate pit, in muddy clay.  With-in the past few weeks, I feel as though God has set my feet upon a rock and made my steps secure.  I cried out, He heard my cry for help, and He delivered me from my troubles.

Did He do it immediately?  No, not at all.  Like I said, this has been a struggle for years.

Did He do it the way I envisioned?  Nope.  I was envisioning waking up one day just feeling more like myself!  I was hoping He would just heal and cure me.

As someone with a mental illness, I am beginning to learn some really important things.

  1. God can cure illness, but He doesn’t always choose to (from what I’ve seen).
  2. Sometimes He chooses to use doctors and counselors to bring healing and restoration.  I have seen a huge shift in my bipolar and anxiety due to an amazing doctor who gave me the right medications, and a counselor who has taught me how to cope and thrive in my day to day life.  Even with amazing medication, it takes a LOT of work and fight.  I would not be where I am if I had just relied on medication alone.
  3. There is a reason and a purpose for that illness.  God has used my illness in my life to reach out to others.  I have been sharing about it through blogs, and now I have a small group in which I reach out every single day to those with mental illness or just plain old struggle.
  4. The other purpose is He has taught me that without Him, I am nothing.  He is the one who led me to the doctors and counselors.  He gives me power every single day to get up and get going.  He teaches me through His word every day.  The Holy Spirit teaches me every day.
  5. He heals so that He is glorified.  I pray that everyone will see Him in all of this.  Without Him, I would not be where I am today.  Glory be to God!

If you are in a desolate pit today, and even have been for a long time, do not be dismayed.  Do not give up.  He has a plan and a purpose for your struggle.  He knows your heart; He loves you.  He wants what’s best for you.  Sometimes what’s best for you doesn’t look the way we would envision it.  I promise He will make the reason known one day.  It may not be while you’re here on earth but He will.

You were created on purpose, for a purpose.  God doesn’t make mistakes.  I pray that He sets your feet on a rock soon and makes your steps secure.  Trust Him.

Easy Homemade Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

I have been baking bread off and on for years.  I used to use my Kitchenmaid stand mixer, but I ended up with a free bread machine and have never looked back!  It is definitely worth the investment if you every want to make your own bread, weekly.

My old recipe was yummy, but complicated (mostly because it had a lot of ingredients in it).  If you’re interested, here it is: My New Favorite Honey Whole Wheat Bread.

One day, I got the hair brain idea to order the new THM cookbook.  I really like a lot of the recipes in the cookbook!  This recipe is actually very similar to the one in their cookbook.  It’s just been modified some.

I have started baking this bread often, and my whole family loves it!  It is especially yummy when it first comes out of the oven with some butter spread on it.

Here you go!

Turn on the oven light.

In your bread machine, place these ingredients in this order:

  • 2 2/3 cups warm water
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp softened extra virgin coconut oil (or softened butter)
  • 6 cups whole wheat flour (I use a combination of King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat Flour and One Degree Organic’s Sprouted Flour… I don’t use ONLY sprouted because it’s too heavy and the bread doesn’t rise well)
  • 2 tbsp active yeast

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  1. Set the machine to the dough setting and allow it to go through the whole process.
  2. Once complete, spray loaf pans with coconut oil spray.  Form the dough into two loaves and place in loaf pans.
  3. Set in oven with light on and allow to rise until it is about an inch over the top of the loaf pan.
  4. Leave dough in the oven and turn the oven onto 350 degrees.
  5. Set timer for 40 minutes and bake!
  6. Pull out, take the bread out of the loaf pan, set on counter, and cover with towel until it is cool.
  7. Place in gallon ziplock bag!

Full Circle

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I have been blogging for years.  My old blog is Home of the Croslands over on Blogspot. I still keep it because all of my recipes are there :-).  The main reason why I moved over to wordpress is because I wanted to change my focus and felt that moving over would help me do that.  Ever since I moved to wordpress, my focus has been off of natural living, and on to living life with mental illness.

I started blogging for myself.  It is therapeutic and cathartic for me.  It helps me feel like I have a voice.  It gives me a way to empty my brain of all of the words that are spinning around in it.  It allows me to share what life is like for us who have mental illness.

I have found, over this past year especially, that not only do I give myself a voice with my blog, but I give a voice to all of those that are struggling and don’t know how to put it into words.  It reminds/teaches those who don’t struggle with mental illness that those who do are real people, with a real illness.  I have noticed that there are many people whom didn’t know that mental illness was actually illness until I started blogging.  It’s a place for others to come to in order to feel valued and loved.  A year ago, I created a group (mostly consisting of my friends) in which we share our struggles with each other, talk about self care, and ask for prayer.  It has been an amazing journey, and I have seen how God has taken my love for writing and blogging, and is using it for HIS glory.  Not just the writing, though.  I also see how He is using my illness to bring glory to Him through my sharing.  Without this illness, I wouldn’t be able to reach out to so many and love them with the love of Christ.  I know what it’s like to struggle, daily, and I can lend a hand to others.  This struggle, this illness, is not about me.  It’s about Him.  It’s about loving others.

A while ago (can’t remember how long it’s been now), a friend of mine shared one of my blog posts (actually one that Robert wrote and I shared on my blog) with To Save a Life. As of today, I have had four posts come out on there; 3 of the posts have been this week alone.  I can’t say it has been easy.  Brene Brown says “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.”  I have been feeling that this week.  There have been some comments that have definitely not been comfortable to read.  I have put my story out there for 823,000 people to read.  It’s terrifying.  But.  I have seen so many comments about how much my post helped people, so it’s all worth it.  I trust that God has my words on this website for a reason.  I’m not an excellent writer, but I have a story to tell.  I know that God has a purpose for my story, otherwise, I would just hide.  It would be easier.

Here are the posts that are on To Save a Life so far:

Finding a New Normal with Bipolar II 

When I am Dealing with my Mental Illness, Sometimes I forget About God

Truth in the Face of Lies

My Bipolar Makes Me Feel Defective

Another amazing thing is that I realized something today: I am an excellent teacher!  I went back to my old teaching website (The Crosland Owls), and I saw how I taught things.  Wow!!  Amazing!!  I learned so much the year that I made that blog!  I realized in that moment that I am a professional, certified teacher because I am good at it!  God has gifted me in this area for a reason!  Am I using my gifting in the classroom?  No.  And I probably never will again.  But.  I can use this gifting at home with my own children.  I am currently homeschooling Karis and I have been frustrated with not being able to find the perfect curriculum.  I realized today that I don’t even need much curriculum.  I can write my own and teach her the way I KNOW is best.  And I can do this without ANY pressure from anyone above me or next to me because it’s just ME and Karis (and eventually the boys…)!

I ended up printing out so many pictures of charts and graphic organizers that I made and will use them with Karis.  I also found many activities on my Teachers Pay Teachers account that I have already paid for and can use for Karis.  They are all from her grade level!

These are the things coming up that I’m so excited about (move on if this isn’t exciting to you 😉 )!

Social Studies: Thanksgiving (from Scholastic), The Mayflower Compact and questions from it, interviews with passengers from the Mayflower, interactive activities on Scholastic’s website, and interview with a Wampanoag Native American and questions to go with it.  Interactive activities about the daily life of a Pilgrim and Wampanoag.  Interactive activities about what the actual feast was like.
When we’re finished with Thanksgiving activities, we are going back to Texas History.  I actually bought the Texas Social Studies book so I had a basis for Texas History, and I figured I would just expand from there.  The week after Thanksgiving we are doing Native American Poster projects covering the 4 Native American tribes that are mentioned: Karankawa, Caddo, Comanche, and Jumano.  Next, we will move on to the explorers.  I haven’t planned much for that, yet.  Stay tuned (if you’re interested).

Reading: Finishing up Mr. Popper’s Penguins with questions and activities.  After this, I will do a lesson on inferencing using Unspoken, a wordless book about the underground railroad.  Then, we will move into a poetry unit!  We will learn the structure, form, author’s message, and discuss the figurative language present in different poems.  We will also learn how to analyze a poem!  I have about 7 poetry books, so we will keep busy!

Math: Continue with our Saxon 5/4 curriculum (I’m NOT a math teacher…).  This is a good, solid curriculum, and I have seen it be really good for Karis.  I will probably continue with Saxon from now on.

Writing: I’m using First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind for grammar, for now.  I will move on to something different next year.  This is a good basis of language, but it’s boring.  It’s not my style.  One thing at a time!
For writing, next week, we will be learning strong leads and how to write an expository piece.  We will be using the prompt: Things I am thankful for and why.  We will be using the pumpkin graphic organizer for now, and then the week after Thanksgiving, we will be using the snowman.  Check these out here: Latest in Writer’s Workshop.  I will model for her how to fill in the graphic organizer and we will begin the drafting process.  Hopefully we’ll even get to editing and revising.  She will publish her writing the week of Thanksgiving.
After Thanksgiving, I will give her a choice of a few different Christmas and winter expository writing pieces.
After Christmas, we will begin personal narratives (which she has done before, but we will re-address this!).  I have an amazing four square graphic organizer that looks like a house!

Science: We’re actually going to be taking a break the next two weeks while we do a Thanksgiving unit in Social Studies, but we will pick back up on Habitats in this curriculum: Elemental Science: Biology for the Grammar Stage. This is an excellent curriculum full of living books and hands-on activities!  Karis has loved it so far!

Handwriting: Karis is learning cursive (again) with A Reason for Handwriting.  The goal is to have her actually use cursive in her writing and spelling, over time.  I know this is kind of a lost art, but I believe it is important.

Spelling: We use the Evan-Moor Spelling program called Building Spelling Skills.  It’s very simple, but I like it because it utilizes different activities to teach spelling.  Editing for spelling, word meaning, word study, then the typical spelling test is done on Fridays.  So far, she has made A’s!

Anyway, I’m obviously, finally very excited about teaching Karis because I have been reminded that I can.  It’s not about relying on a perfect curriculum.  It’s about doing what I love to do and am gifted at.

And one other amazing thing… I have had an amazing week with my routines/schedule! I made a schedule for Karis on Monday, and a routine list for myself, and I have followed it almost completely every day this week.  I can’t tell you how helpful this has been for my health.  I also created a chore chart for the kids, and they have followed it every morning and afternoon this week!

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EVERY DAY this week I have gotten up, showered, put on makeup, and dried my hair.  This is a picture of me today, day 5.  I like this picture because it shows victory!  Before this week, I struggled to get out of bed each morning, let alone shower, put on makeup, and dry my hair!

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Praise God for bringing me full circle and showing me the why of so many things.  These past 6 years or so have been very difficult.  He is reminding me today that He has a purpose in the difficulty.  He can and will make beauty out of ashes!

Hardened Heart

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I was going to write out an elaborate blog post about how I have realized that my heart has been hardened and it has caused a strain relationship with my Savior; I decided, though, that my prayer to Him this morning was sufficient.  I know I’m not the only one that has been in this place.  He loves you.  He wants an intimate relationship with you.

Jesus,

As I listened to some amazing women tell their story last night, I came to some conclusions about myself.  I have a very strained relationship with You.  My heart is hardened right now and I don’t want it to be anymore.  As you know, I just don’t understand why you allow some things, so I have had a very distant relationship with you.  I am so tired of being sick.  I don’t understand why you have made me the way you have.  I don’t understand why I have to struggle with anxiety and depression.  Some days are really hard.

I don’t spend time with you like I used to.  I don’t pray often.  I don’t read your word like I have in the past.  I feel so disconnected. I hate this feeling, and I want it to change.  How can it change?  I know spending time with you is #1.  But what else can I do?

Jesus, I ask with all that is with-in me, please let my new medication work.  I pray that it puts me in remission for good.  I pray that it will do what the doctors think it will do and that I’ll feel good and have normal days without depression and anxiety.  I desire so much to be able to serve my family and those around me.  I want to stop focusing on myself and the illness that I struggle with minute by minute.  I desire for life to be more than just pushing myself to get through depression and anxiety every day.  I want to thrive and not just survive.

Please soften my heart.  Please come close and have an intimate relationship with me again.  I know you’re there.  I know you want to be close to me again.  I know that it is possible.  I know that part of it is that I have to lay down my questions and concerns and trust that you have a plan.  I pray that you are glorified through me, my mess and all.

In Jesus’ name I pray,
Amen

If you’re in a dark season, watch this video.  There’s hope for a new season full of beautiful blooms.

Loving myself, Bipolar II and all

 

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Right after I was diagnosed with Bipolar II, I wrote a post about Feeling Defective.  I saw the diagnosis as a curse.  It meant that I would not be healed.  I would have to live with it for the rest of my life.  It could be managed, but it would never be cured.  I saw this as a terrible thing.  It almost felt like a life sentence.  I would never be able to live a normal life.

This way of thinking has continued to follow me.  Because these past few months have been really hard (still adjusting to a new home, depression, new doctor, med changes, new counselor, etc), I’ve been feeling defective more than ever.

Earlier this week, the post that Robert wrote and I featured on my blog was featured on To Save a Life.  It was posted on their Facebook page, and there were a few really helpful comments.  One comment really stuck out to me (ignore the grammar mistakes…).

“Love your bipolar … I love mine cuz that who im supposed to be, all part of Gods plan. It can b horrific at times but i have to keep saying “it could be worse” … Im alive, yes im soooo off the scale at times but im alive to see my gorgeous hubby and kids!! Finding God as soon as i was diagnoised is what saved me … My hubby and kids are my rock and staying as positive as i can considering lol helps alot!! Bipolar is special … Ur all special …. Best of luck to u all.”

This comment opened my eyes.  Instead of wishing I didn’t have Bipolar II, instead of feeling defective, instead of feeling like a burden to everyone around me, I need to love my Bipolar II.  You see, without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today.  It has taught me so much about life.  So much about loving others where they are, for who they are.  It has given me a voice to the voiceless in the world of mental illness.  It has helped others to see that it’s truly okay to be who they are, mental illness and all.  It has helped me understand my brother’s life and death.  It has helped me in the grieving process because I can identify with what he lived with his whole life.

God has a plan for everything, even and especially, the hard stuff.  Without the hard parts of life, we wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy the good.  Without my lows/depression, the “normal” times wouldn’t be so sweet.

Love yourself.  Not who you wish you could be but exactly who you are.  Right now.