My Vision and “All Or Something”

Yesterday, I relaxed all morning (drinking coffee of course), then I worked in the house all afternoon.  The kids and I cleaned the whole house, I did some laundry, and I organized my office. I also made an amazing vision … Continue reading

Taking Care of My Health

I’ve had to make some decisions for my health.

Since I stopped dieting, I kind of went the other direction. I immediately gained weight (20-25 pounds), then lost a little as things evened out (about 10 pounds).

Unfortunately, though, my health has suffered. I went from eating healthy to eating pop tarts and cereal all day, drinking soda all day, etc. I mean I have healthy foods and meals some. It’s not all pop tarts. But. Too much. I am always so exhausted and have been struggling to function. I also went from over-working out to not exercising at all (really, never). Too many extremes.

I thought focusing on eating healthy and moving my body would be too “diety” and have been even struggling with the Balance 365 program (that someone paid for me to be part of) because of that. So I even left the group for a little while and joined some body positive groups.

I realized pretty quickly that those groups aren’t for me because they are so judgmental and they tell people what they have to do and what they can’t do (the other extreme of dieting). After being away from Balance 365 I realized that it’s exactly what I need.

So, I’ve decided to pursue a fat loss goal (which may mean that the number on the scale might not change but my body will). It has been hard to come out and say what my intentions are because maybe that will mean that I don’t love myself for who I am. But the thing is, I love myself way more now than I ever have. It’s okay to love yourself and still want change. In fact, the change that I want is to feel better because I do love myself. You know?  Self care!

The Balance 365 program is fantastic because it teaches you balance, lasting fat loss through habit change, joyful movement, self care, sleep habits, etc. It’s okay to eat something that isn’t what some would consider healthy. You eat it and enjoy it. If you over eat, you figure out why and then move forward. No guilt. Also they teach you how to balance your plate including protein, fat, carbs, and fiber. There’s so much more to it.

I don’t think I’ll be sharing lots of weight loss updates because it’s not that kind of program. It’s slow change over time and it’s just part of life. I also don’t have to cut anything out. No restriction. Just balance.

They recently updated the whole program and now there is a several hundred page pdf and it’s a workbook. I sent off yesterday to have it printed and bound. It was only $20. I can’t wait to receive it!

I’m planning to follow the program in order.  It starts with Diet Deprogramming and then goes to The Story of You (getting to know yourself).

I’m excited about this journey!

Scared to Hope

scared to hope

I’ve been feeling good for about a month now.  My “feel good” time started out really strong with lots and lots of energy and motivation.  I really thought I was hypomanic but wasn’t sure.  I just kept going with it.  But also, when I started feeling good was just about 3-4 days after I started a new med.  I hoped that’s what was making me feel good.  Again, I wasn’t sure.

A month later, and I’m still feeling good.  This is just odd because I typically don’t feel good for very long.  Either I am struggling with severe anxiety, I’m hypomanic, or I’m depressed.  Just “feeling good” isn’t super common.  Sure, I have my good days, but this has lasted continuously for a month.  I can remember one day where I felt “down,” but it was because I was really tired and slept a lot.

Previous to this, I was pretty miserable.  I was pretty depressed.  I was sleeping all day, every day.  I wasn’t sleeping at night.  I was anxious.  My house was a complete disaster and there were always piles and piles of laundry.  I felt like I had no purpose in life and didn’t know what else to do with myself.  I just felt like that was my life from now on.

Part of this is because I put my kids in school and the homeschooling season is just over for our family.  Part of this was because I was so, so tired all the time.  I also have hypothyroid on top of my other issues.  Then I was just in a bad cycle of not sleeping at night and sleeping all day.  It’s hard to get out of that.  Now if I don’t sleep well, I try not to go back to sleep, and I end up sleeping better the next night.  If I do sleep during the day, it’s for like an hour, not 4 hours.

The hard thing for me right now is that I’m scared to hope too much.  I don’t want to assume that I’ll feel good consistently if that’s not reality.  I mean, everyone has bad days or “down” days, and I can handle that.  It’s the debilitating depression and severe anxiety that I cannot handle.  Well I guess I can handle it, but I really, really don’t want to.

I do have hope in Jesus, but I am also aware that He has never promised us an easy life and I know that perfection won’t happen till heaven.  In the mean time all I can do is take one day at a time and enjoy the good days.

Night and Day

I thought I would give a little bit of an update on things.

I am night and day better from where I was this time last week.

I have settled into the idea that I will only be homeschooling Karis, and I’ve learned to be good with that. She does better at home, she is mostly independent, and she is fun to work with. There is no stress or anxiety involved in it. I’m looking forward to digging into things with her. And we have a good relationship and she’s now a pre-teener so this is good for us.  I plan to really dive into stuff with her and learn along side her.  And on the days that I don’t feel up to it, she is capable of doing everything on her own!

I hope to do Poetry Teatime every Friday with the girls at the camp.  It will be so fun.

The boys are so excited about going back to school, and honestly they do really well in school. I’ve talked with their teachers from this past year (one emailed me and one I emailed first), and they are so happy that they will be back. They were so encouraging and positive.  The boys will learn and grow at school. We will have a regular routine/schedule every day which will be good for my anxiety and good for my Ethan’s anxiety as well. He needs that routine.

I plan to still do some nature studies with all of the kids.  We will try to take a few “field trips” but not as many as when I would have had them home.

And I am happy to be able to focus on getting healthier mentally and physically. As you know, I have mental illness, and I also went to rehab last fall for alcoholism (which is a mental illness as well). I need to be able to focus on keeping myself healthy and sober. In addition, I’m trying to get back to health physically (using the Balance 365 program) because I haven’t been doing too well there, either. So I guess this is just a season of health for me. Maybe once I’m healthier, I can bring my boys back home (if that’s God’s plan). It’ll probably be a while if that does happen. In the meantime I’m happy about playing with the kids until the boys’ school starts on August 23rd. We were going to start school next week. And I’m looking forward to doing some back-to-school shopping and all of that.

Family camp this week has been pretty great so far.  We have 2 more full days, then we leave on Saturday.  I haven’t felt good the whole time, though, because of my cough and constant nausea.  I’m also really tired all the time.  So I’ve just been resting as much as I can.  We have done 1-2 activities per day and played in the game room a lot.  We have had great meals, fun themed nights, and I’ve enjoyed time with friends.  We have been gone from home for a full week already, which is hard for me because I’m a homebody and an introvert.  I’m making it, though, and am trying to just enjoy the time that I have with my family all together!  It is a blessing to have this opportunity.

Here are some pictures of our week so far:

IMG_2106

Build-your-own pizzas

I actually did the Cross Bows!

The kids love the foam pit, but not as much as last year.

Family devotionals and outdoor worship

RC Cars were fun!

Patriotic night

Patriotic night ended up being indoors.

Drift Ball ended in some minor injuries.

Tonight is Luau night.

The next two days are packed full of fun activities.  Paint war, lake front, date night, hiking, more RC cars, kickball game, dessert, and a dance.

Happy Weekend! Busy Saturday!

Yesterday I met my mom in Kerrville for her to pick the kids up and take them to her house.  They are there till Monday.  I spent a lot of the day today being lazy.

At about 3:45 I had had enough of that so I got up and got busy!  I cut up veggies and baked some muffins.  Robert came home about the time that I was going to cut a cantaloupe and honey dew.  He ended up cutting it for me, then he pan-seared some salmon and chicken breast for me to have over salads this coming week.  I bagged mixed nuts for snacks, made pumpkin steel cut oats in the instant pot, tore lettuce and put it in a big container to have salads, made homemade dressings (creamy buffalo and balsamic vinaigrette), and made quinoa.

I also have peeled boiled eggs (I buy them boiled and peeled from Walmart!) and Greek yogurt to grab for snacks or to go with meals!

I feel like I am set up for success!  It feels so good.

All of this work only took a few hours!  It helps that Robert pitched in!

On a similar note…

I started the Healthy Habits Happy Moms Balance 365 program several weeks ago. The idea is to pick one healthy habit at a time to focus on, and once you are consistent with it for a time, then you add another one. It’s slllloooowwww and hard sometimes. I have honestly struggled with even figuring out what to start with because I feel like I’m not at all where I want to be with my health. I am learning to love my body the way it is, but I know that I have a ways to go in the health department. But dieting isn’t the answer. It’s not healthy, it isn’t sustainable, and it actually leads to bingeing and weight gain. So I want to be okay with the slowness of this program.

Robert and I were talking earlier and I realized that he’s right… I need to focus 100% on being active again. So many reasons. I have high cholesterol and the meds that I was on cause high liver enzymes… since I am an alcoholic my doctor prefers for me to not take them unless I have to (even though I’m not drinking anymore!). Also. With my generalized anxiety disorder and the return of the weird physical symptoms, being outside hiking is REALLY good for that. It’s one of the best things for anxiety, actually. My counselor has told me that she wants me to walk 30 minutes a day and I haven’t been doing that. I find joy in being outside. I love hiking. I have just gotten out of the habit. I used to hike ALL THE TIME. Also, we are backpacking in a couple of months and I am NOT physically ready for that! It’s just the best habit to focus on right now!

My goal is 2-3 times a week by myself and once a week with the kids to do their nature study . I would like to do what my counselor told me to do (every day), but I’m going to start slow.

Overall I am doing SO well right now. I just still have this anxiety. And it’s weird that I’m having the breathing issue off and on.  I know the anxiety is always going to be there, but my counselor tells me that I can get it more manageable if I get outside exercise. So that is what I will do!

Robert also reminded me that usually when I am active, everything else falls into place.  I am more consistent with a lot of things in my life… time in the Word, eating healthier, I’m more active in the community, etc because I’m feeling good mentally!

Working Through Anxiety and Learning So Much!

This week has been a doozy.

Wednesday I got an email from Levi’s teacher that said:

“I’ve enjoyed him this year! I remember when he first came to school. He had trouble socializing with the kids, following routines, and remembering rules. Public school was a challenge . Now he fits in with the kids, has a lot of friends and does so well. We did a memory book of first grade and one page says “my best friend are”…… Levi was mentioned in all of the boys books and a couple of the girls. He is  a star shining bright! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend this year with him!”

Then I found out that Ethan has been mean to another kid.  His behavior has gotten worse since I told them they were homeschooling.

I felt anxiety for several days because of this.  I thought that maybe they were better off in school.

Through anxiety this week I have learned a few things…

  1. It’s probably never going to go away so I need to stop assuming it will.
  2. I’m not causing it by decisions that I’ve made… I have it because I have an anxiety disorder.
  3. Learning to work THROUGH it instead of wishing it away will be the best thing for me in the long run.
  4. Giving myself grace is so important.
  5. I have this assumption that peace means that I’ve done good and anxiety means that I have done something bad.
  6. Anxiety comes and goes.  It’s like waves.
  7. Prayer makes a huge difference, believe it or not.
  8. It’s normal to feel nervous about starting something new again (homeschooling), and I WILL have anxiety some days even though we know this is the right thing.
  9. I have spent so much time over the years changing decisions based on anxiety.  If I felt anxiety, I would change my mind on something.  Then when I would feel anxiety again, I would change my mind again.  It has been a back-and-forth thing for as long as I can remember.  I need to learn to stick with decisions even on the hard days (and there WILL be hard days).

Robert and I talked about how we decided to homeschool based on what is best for our family as a whole, not because they were struggling at school.  It works so much better out here at camp.

I decided that no matter what, we need to stick with our decision.  It wasn’t just me that made the decision, and I need to trust that God is working in Robert’s heart in this matter, too.  The fact that he wants to homeschool now says a lot about this decision.

Yesterday the boys were saying that they want to go to school next year.  They had an amazing week of not doing much school work, playing, and partying.  They were saying that they will miss their friends and bus driver (really?!).  Haha.  I told them that they WILL be homeschooling next year and they seemed okay with that.  I think they needed me to just tell them what we’re doing no matter what (I had to come to terms with it as well).  This morning they were cheering about being homeschoolers now and how excited they are!  They just needed to be home to remember what it was like.  They have played outside all morning, and I’m sitting on the porch while they play outside.  Next week they will start reading 30 minutes a day, and we will start school in July so we can take breaks as needed during the year.  We will take a week off when we go to Glorieta camp for family camp (and to see Robert’s parents) at the end of July (it starts on my birthday!).

We’re all just so at peace today and enjoying life.  The house is a mess, and I’m going to have to let that go now that they are home.  Luckily they clean up quickly, well, and without a fight so it should be fine.

Life is hard, but it is good.  I trust God and His plans even when they don’t always make sense.  I need to stick with things and be content with where we are in life.

The kids and I went swimming after the boys got home yesterday (at 1:00)!  It was super fun!  This will be a regular activity!  When the lifeguards are out, they can play on the toys.  When they aren’t, we just swim :-).  Their favorite thing is the floating dock.  They get on, jump off, on, off.

This morning I woke up (at 9:00!) to them playing on the back porch and yard.  They haven’t done that in a long time… they mostly play across the street under our neighbor’s porch.  They are enjoying the Pokemon card game!

I’m also very rested today, which I haven’t been in a long time.  So that helps my anxiety considerably!  I have been sooooo tired and not sleeping well.  I slept the whole night last night!

I’m realizing today just how different life is now that I’m sober.  In the past I would have started drinking in a few hours because that’s what I did.  I drank typically starting at noon into the evening.  Maybe not every day, but most days.  I wasn’t living life!  I was in a fog all of the time… never alert to what was going on around me.  Now I can think clearly and experience things.

Life is good!  Praise God!

Taking Charge of My Wellness Holistically

I woke up this morning (after only 4.5 hours of sleep) feeling a drive for taking charge of things.  I have been working really hard (counseling, seeing my doctor once a month, taking my medication, working with a dietitian, etc), … Continue reading

Happy Monday and Grati-Tuesday

I realize it’s Tuesday, but I didn’t have a chance to blog yesterday so I’m going to share some things today.

Yesterday was a long, exhausting day, but it was great in a lot of ways.  I have made some decisions to possibly help with anxiety and my own digestive issues.

After Karis’ doctor told us to eliminate wheat, reduce dairy, take probiotics, and increase water and fiber for anxiety and her digestive issues, I talked to my counselor about it and she asked why I wouldn’t try it as well.  She read me some studies that point to lowered anxiety and depression with eliminating gluten.  And dairy makes my stomach hurt.  My counselor has been doing this for 30 years so I trust that when she says it works, it works.  Then I talked with a friend here that is gluten free and she said it decreased anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.  So we’ll see!

I talked with my dietitian about it and she said we can try it for a month (well, she said 3 weeks but I think a month is better) and see how I feel.  I can then add them in one at a time and see if it affects me.

So that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m eliminating dairy and gluten, adding in fiber and probiotics (also encouraged by my dietitian), and drinking lots of water (mainly because I’m taking lithium now and you have to drink lots of water with it).

Yesterday I ordered some good probiotics and fiber (Garden of Life brand) as well as probiotics for Karis (just Vitacost brand).  I also take fish oil and a whole foods multi vitamin.

Now the question that I asked myself and my dietitian has been very adamant about is that I don’t view this as a weight loss diet, but as a way to feel better.  I don’t think I’ll lose weight… I’ll still eat intuitively (eat when I’m hungry until I’m comfortably full).  I won’t focus on eating “good foods” vs. “bad foods,” but just foods that make me feel good.  I’m not planning to lose weight at all.  My goal is health.  Lower weight does not always mean good health (lots of studies show this!).

And now that Karis is home I will be better about hiking.  It was hard to convince myself to go alone.

I also did EMDR and wow it brought out a lot of things that I can work on and process.  I have decided to not go into details about these sessions because it’s very personal.  Just know that I think this will also help my anxiety and increase emotional connection with my family and friends.

I’m trying to be the best me that I can be.  Closer to Jesus, positive body image, healthy, feeling good, lower anxiety and depression, better mom and wife, etc.  And I’ve gotten back to my daily routine which helps so much.

I’m soooooo grateful for spring!

I’m grateful that Karis has been so excited about school.

I’m grateful for a way for Karis to study God’s word at her level.

I’m grateful that she got up on her own this morning, got dressed, made her bed, brushed her hair and teeth, and filled out her planner for the week using my lesson plans!

(Yes her handwriting and spelling aren’t great…)

I’m grateful for coffee (even when it’s decaf with almond milk), water, spring scented candles, and my new Happy Planner!

I’m so grateful for the Bible study that I’m doing.  It is more in-depth than any study I’ve ever done, as you can see by my marked-up Bible.

I’m grateful that she’s enjoying school (mostly… she hates writing and it brought her to tears today).

I’m soooooo grateful for a neighbor that is loaning us so much!  We are using her math DVD’s, fraction overlays, and blocks (Math U See); history (Story of the World); and now writing (Writing with Ease).  She is saving us so much money.

Along those lines, I’m learning to do this homeschool thing much cheaper this time!     Instead of spending the $400 that I originally told my hubby I would need to spend (to get all of the stuff I wanted), I have only spent about $125 (Math U See Delta student books, Apologia Astronomy notebooking journal, Easy Grammar and Daily Grams, and some Teachers Pay Teachers stuff).

I’m currently creating a Geography unit based solely on free stuff that I found on Pinterest!  This is fun!

What It Looks Like to Work with an Intuitive Eating Dietitian

(this picture came from her website for Month 1, Week 3)

Have you wondered what I mean when I say I’m working with a dietitian that focuses on Intuitive Eating and positive body image?  Keep reading.

I have been working pretty closely with my dietitian and have been learning so much.  I thought I knew everything I needed to, but I’m finding I know and understand very little.

What I’m learning:

  • She (Tracy) is helping me work through so much more than eating “healthy” (everyone has a different view of healthy)
  • She is helping me determine when I’m hungry and when I’m full… trying to start at a 3/4 and ending on a 7/8.  0/1 is starving… shaky, faint, tired, etc.  9/10 is extremely stuffed.  Also on this journal I discuss feelings, self care, movement, what my intentions are for the day.  She has told me that I am not eating enough (I’m still restricting) and that the amount I’m eating doesn’t make me satisfied enough.  It’s been eye opening.
  • There is a reason for my constant drinking of coffee and Coke Zero.  For me the main reason for my Coke Zero intake is that I am replacing the alcohol.  The main thing I drank when I was drinking was either beer or Coke Zero and rum or vodka.  I pretty much drank most of the afternoon/evening; not every day, but most.  Also, it is helping me numb out some feelings that maybe aren’t pleasant.  So she is having me journal those feelings.  Coffee is mostly because I’m home most of the morning, and I’m just used to always have a drink of something.  The main thing that she and my counselor want me to do is reduce/eliminate caffeine.  My counselor wants me to eliminate it because it affects my anxiety.  Tracy wants me to reduce it because it affects my hunger and satiety cues, which actually means I don’t eat enough.  This is interesting stuff.
  • The main things that she said I should do for my health right now (besides working on reducing caffeine through sodas and coffee) are to add some more fiber (through supplements or through food), take a multi vitamin and fish oil (which I’ve been doing since I was in rehab), and move my body regularly (doing what is joyful for me… no extreme exercise right now).  Joyful movement for me means hiking and walking.  I love being outside in nature, but I don’t like running here because of the hills and rocks.  So hiking and walking it is.  I don’t like anything indoors (like videos, weight lifting, etc).  And I’ve learned that’s okay.  I need to do what I enjoy so that I actually do it.
  • She’s helping me learn to give myself grace with food and drink.  Reducing caffeine, coffee, and soda is going to be a process.  She wants me to give myself grace when I feel like I’m not doing this right.  There is no right way.  Also, I have been conditioned a certain way about food, and I need to let that go in order to learn to eat intuitively.  I have a history of restriction and she says that I’m still restricting (I fill out an intuitive eating food journal).
  • She is helping me pinpoint more areas of self care that I can pick up to help me through my day.  There’s a whole week in the program in which she pinpoints things that we can do for self care.  She also told me yesterday to take time every day to just enjoy something without doing.  Yesterday I sat on my porch without electronics or anything and watching the birds and squirrels while listening to music that makes me happy.  It was so nice.
  • One of the biggest things that she’s doing is helping me work through fat phobia and why I fear gaining weight.  I can tell that I’m still gaining weight (and will continue, possibly, because of my medication), and it is causing me anxiety.  She is working through the whys.  Why do I fear that?  What has society taught me about weight gain that makes me think being bigger is a bad thing?  What will happen because of weight gain?  How will it affect me as a person?  I am so much more than my body.  What things do I have to offer that have nothing to do with my body?  Emily Wierenga says in her book Almost Anorexic, “In a society that equates thin with beauty and beauty with love, we long to be thin, and so we hide. Beneath layers of guilt and shame, not seeing ourselves for the royalty that we are.”
  • “Each person has a ‘natural weight’, the weight at which the body is and feels healthy and is free of risk factors within our control.”  Lower weight doesn’t necessarily equal healthier.  I had high cholesterol even at my lowest weight (it’s hereditary and one of my medications causes high cholesterol).  I know people that are thin and have diabetes and high blood pressure.  I also know over-weight people that are completely healthy.
  • “We have a set point for the number of fat cells in our body and how little fat those cells can contain. Body fat is not intrinsically unhealthy tissue and does not lead to death.”
  • Healing happens in a relaxation response… focus on self care and reducing stress and anxiety first
  • We have different feelings when our needs are met vs. when our needs are not met.
  • I could go on and on!

Through all of this, I am taking better care of myself.

I wasn’t sure if this program would be worth the money, but it has already been worth it and I’m only on Month 1, Week 3 of a 3 month program!  I can’t wait to see what I continue to learn!

My First EMDR Treatment

img_9020(This is the sunrise over the hills that I see every morning. Beautiful!)

This has been a really rough week.  I did EMDR on Monday and it has affected me since (I’m assuming that’s what it is based on what people have said about it).  This is going to be a very tough process.

Tuesday and Wednesday I felt terrible.  I felt a huge weight on me.  I was anxious and feeling depressed.  I couldn’t get enough sleep.  I slept several hours each morning (after I got the kids off to school) and just felt like I had been hit by a truck.

Finally Wednesday I texted my counselor.  Sure enough, she said that I must have triggered something when we did EMDR on Monday and we will need to tackle that next Monday.  Also, I found out that being exhausted is just part of the process (which I had been told, but I guess I didn’t believe it until I experienced it).  Also, my feelings will be raw afterwards because we’re digging deep and bringing that stuff out.  Eventually things won’t phase me over time.

So the first thing she did was get to know my history from the beginning.  We did that our first appointment.

Then, we spent some time just talking, for me to feel comfortable with her, and for her to see more into my heart and mind.  We did this for the second appointment.

Then, we worked on creating a “safe space” in my mind for me to go to when I’m anxious.  For me this is the mountains.  Also, I can hear the Serenity Spa music in the background in my mind for my safe space (I listened to this a lot when I got out of the hospital the first time).

Finally, we started the EMDR process.

She uses these vibrating hand held devices.  They take turns vibrating.  The point of this (from what I understand) is to activate both parts of the brain (the logical side and the emotional side).  It goes back and forth, back and forth.

She had me close my eyes and focus in on one specific incident.  For me, this was an event in which I was physically abused by classmates when I was little.

She would have me focus in on it, then we would take a break.  Focus in on it in a different way, then I would take a break.  I could hear the sounds of the events, feel how it felt physically, and with-in my body.  Eventually she led me to how it made me feel emotionally and how it affects me now.

According to EMDR.com, these involve the client identifying three things:
1.  The vivid visual image related to the memory
2.  A negative belief about self
3.  Related emotions and body sensations.

We only addressed one specific incident, and we have many more to address.  I have more situations in which I was physically abused by classmates, a few other things that I don’t feel like sharing, then we will eventually address my brother’s death (gruesome suicide that I feel out of touch with).

I’m also learning a lot about how feelings aren’t facts, they are fleeting, and to use my “safe space” in my mind when I’m struggling with anxiety.  This is what my counselor talked me through when I was struggling on Wednesday.

One other tidbit of information from my counselor is that she thinks I have been struggling with bipolar since I was little (and anxiety).  Some of my behaviors are indicative of bipolar in a child.  So I thought that was interesting.  With bipolar 2, it’s often difficult to tell if it’s an illness or just behavioral issues.

This process will take time, but I see it really benefitting me in the long run.  A lot of my anxiety and depression are there because of these events and how they made/make me feel.  A lot of things have been going on with me since I was little, and a lot was triggered after Joey died.  So I know it affects me.  I’ve been stuffing a lot for many years.

I’m so glad I’m not working or homeschooling right now.  I really do need this time to focus 100% on my healing and self care.