68 Days of Me

68 days of commitment. I have worked out 68 days in a row and committed to improving my health and strength, and hopefully, as a by-product, my flabby hanging skin.

This week has been terrible for me. It’s the first week I just DON’T want to do it. It’s taken me nearly half the day to get off the couch. I even napped one day which I haven’t done in months (I try and avoid naps at all costs as I’m afraid one will lead to many). I found myself not doing anything in the mornings and then getting on a struggle bus to convince myself to do something on the afternoon.

Could it be because my son is on Spring Break and I’m out of the morning routine? Could something collapse so easily? Or is this just my psyche trying to win the war and push me back to lazy?

So far, the urge to shrug it off hasn’t succeeded.

I realize that anything, and I do mean anything, can screw up my day. I am so used to having allllll my time and a little schedule that I can manage. But as soon as you throw in any appointment or conflict, and my brain says: no workout today, woohoo!

But the fact is – I feel better after a workout. I have started running – which I really can’t believe – with a program called None 2 Run. I completed my second week and I actually enjoy it. It’s not easy for me, but I feel really good after my effort. I can only Run 45 seconds at a time right now, over 10-15 intervals, but that’s from nothing. I am thrilled with my progress.

I just wish my brain would stop sabotaging the one good thing I have accomplished for myself in many months. I need to create a pattern that I can find time and energy for a workout even when I’m working, I can’t continue to allow the sabotage to happen so easily. At some point I have to work again and before I do, I want the exercise routine to be ingrained and never to be replaced or erased.

I read the book Ann recommend called The Power of Habit and I notice that all of the health and fitness instructors I follow on social media also tout habit as the cornerstone to any healthy exercise regime. While everyone has different quotes on how long it take for a habit to stick, the book suggests (from their analysis) that its a minimum of 66 days to create a habit and potentially even longer.

I tend to agree with this because, at 68 days in, I THINK of exercise as something I WANT to fit in every day. No day passes without the conscious effort to exercise. However, my brain hasn’t programmed itself to say “this is a requirement, no day SHOULD pass without exercise.” If there is a way I can navigate around exercising, my brain is actively looking for it. For instance, last night I didn’t even start until post 8pm. That’s the latest yet. I was home all day. Just that one slip makes me nervous because it eeks in and then affects me the next day and the next. I still need to work on my self talk.

I want to form this habit. I am privileged that I CAN move the way I can and that I have my health back for the most part. I am getting stronger and I love it. I repeat to myself that it is no longer a negative – I can no longer say “I hate working out” – because that kind of negative self-talk is damaging. I reframe that thought into “I work out to feel good and become stronger.” I have to get the thought solid in my head that when I say “I don’t want to” or “I don’t have time” that I am really saying “I don’t care about myself”.

No one is going to care for me if I don’t start working on improving my physical, mental and emotional self. I need to keep reminding myself of that. I need to stop saying “it’s not important” and always say “I am very important” until it’s not a forced decision. Until it comes naturally to WANT to take care of myself, first. Sitting on the couch being some sort of vegetable isn’t caring for myself.

So, 68 days in, some days come easier than others. Some, like this past week, are still forced out of me. When I really feel like I “can’t” I tell myself just to do a light, active recovery day. If I still feel like I “can’t” after a light active recovery, then I don’t. But honestly, most times I find once I get past the initial hurdle of getting started, the energy comes with the sweat and I can go on to do a decent workout.

I need to set my intention to change. I have thought about making a vision board. I think they are kind of hokey, but I’m willing to give it a try.

68 days more than I’ve ever done before. That’s some accomplishment. I need to keep reminding myself every single day that I’m doing the best thing for myself.

I Trapped Myself

I acknowledge that I am stuck in repetitive negative thoughts. The patterns are so immersed that I believe my brain processes the obsession as my normal cognitive behavior. When I don’t “get what I need/expect” I fight for it.

Fighting for it got me into a hole I nearly didn’t get out of last year.

I fought with my boss and had to leave a job. I fought with my children and still have one relationship that needs mending. I fought with Tony until I made him despise me. Even though, at times, I knew I should stop pushing, it felt like I was wired to defeat myself.

I had trapped myself into my own bad behaviors.

I tried to convince myself that going to Mexico was a reset button for me. If I could lose the weight other things would fall in place. Again, really bad thinking on my part. I know part of it was severe depression because I didn’t want to care if I died. I thought if I could feel physically better about myself, perhaps the emotional duress would lessen.

That’s clearly not what happened. I made everything much, much worse before it even started to level out these past few weeks.

Learning to get out of these behaviors is taking a toll on me. I am doing what I can which is primarily holdings myself accountable by writing out the damaging behaviors as well as redirection and create new, healthy patterns.

I actively try to stop my obsessive thoughts by interrupting myself. My brain is so powerful it can bring me right back to the unwanted and uncomfortable thoughts and I can’t exercise it away all day and night. I have disputed my sleep pattern despite including significant activity in my day. I disrupted my eating pattern and found the old habit of not thinking what was going hand-to-mouth too easy to fall back into.

I stopped the poor eating (there was a different trigger there will talk about in a separate post). Now I am going to figure out exactly what I need to build in my brain to stop the obsessive thoughts. I need a mini activity (even a brain activity, doesn’t have to be physical) that I do each time I begin to obsess. I need a replacement thought.

As much as I currently feel like my life was ruined, I want to begin believing it is simply changed. I have the power to begin making new and different choices. Choices that are better for me. I am not alone. People have lived through heartbreak and come out stronger the other side. I can too.

I hate self talk like I hate exercise but I’ve got to try something different. I may even make a vision board.

How to Become a Morning Person?

How many of you are Morning people?

God knows, I’m not and never have been. I remember when my kids were small fighting through the cries to sleep a little longer, then ignoring the tugging at the side of the bed and making them crawl in with me. I created another generation of late sleepers and these boys of mine can sleep later than anyone I know!

My kids literally do not want to speak in the mornings. They want zero attention and need to be left alone. If they are awake at the same time, they will eat in different rooms with varying light patterns. One likes it dark and warm, the other likes the morning light from a soft couch and a bit cooler. When I say “Good Morning!” I get grunts of acknowledgement and I’ve learned not to push.

I hate waking up early. Anything before 8 am feels like death to me. And most years of my life I have had to be up somewhere between 530am – 630am. My favorite work years were when I could sleep til 730am and take an 830am commute. Yes, I was late every day but my industry gets a late start.

730am feels like a magic number for me, not too early and manageable. I’ve been taking my youngest to school every day just to get this habit going again. I’ve been tracking along my sleep cycles on Fitbit.

I’ve been reading a lot about habits and how the most effective people in this world have very specific patterns. One of them is the 5am wake up call. The thought of that literally makes me gag. But, no matter how many articles I read, one of the core foundations of successful people is early rising.

Ugh.

I’m just starting to work on healthy habits – any healthy habit that I feel I can build and STICK with.

So back to that morning thing…it’s been about just about 2 months that I’ve woken up with the kid and got him to school on time. I feel less internal argument with myself to rise now that I’ve convinced myself it’s a “mom at home” requirement. My older son appreciates that he doesn’t need to drive his brother to school anymore (he did it for 3 months while I was sick) and will do it as a favor for me when I can’t without any arguments. This habit has clicked over to automatic thinking. I read something that said adjust habits slowly, so now I set the alarm clock back 10 minutes. I don’t need the 10 minutes BUT my goal is to eventually train myself for a normal work routine again so I don’t find it overwhelming when the time comes (because EVERYTHING still feels overwhelming to me). So far, so good. The small adjustment hasn’t affected me and the same article mentioned I shouldn’t change my go-to-sleep time, only my wake-time.

I fear I may never be a morning person, but I do believe if I were just to grab an hour or two more in the morning, I could develop a better work/life balance once work kicks back into gear. I’m afraid that the good habits I’m developing now would disappear as I have the ability to basically craft my entire day around my exercise.

Let’s see how the small steps go!

Girl Code 3

I figured I should wrap up this story.

I admit I didn’t tell him as quickly as I should have – that I wasn’t going to interact with him. I admit there was that part of me that liked the attention and chase etc.

But at some point Saturday he sent another “can’t wait for kissing and cocktails” and I had to be clear.

I wrote back that I would be telling my friend the truth, I wasn’t comfortable and this didn’t feel right to me and was sorry I didn’t have the chance to meet him.

I didn’t text my friend until a day later. I knew there was going to be a little drama, and I wasn’t in the frame of mind to deal with it. I did tell my friend and we spoke about it. She was quite upset by how much he had shared with me about himself, and how it had taken her so long to know some of those things and they were in relationship.

I didn’t mention the BDSM stuff because that’s my private business. If I told her what he shared I would also be revealing that side of me. Very few of my off blog friends know any of the depth of my sexuality. I also think it’s the reason he communicated as much as he did, because he knows how a D/s relationship works and I feel he was working that avenue with me even though he said he wasn’t.

She was primarily upset he glossed over her and still asked me out knowing we were friends. Should I have lied more? I tried to give her as much as I know I would want. She’s similar to be albeit less crazy, but obsesses the same way I do.

She was also very bothered that I saw him for who he was in our first conversations (before I knew who he was). To me, he was clearly a narcissist. I barely got a word in over 2 hours of conversation. She was upset that she didn’t see it and spent the night studying up on narcissism.

I wrote to him to say I spoke to my friend and wouldn’t be contacting him again, good luck. I also told my friend I wrote that message. Some time in the middle of the night he text back saying he was curious how our conversion went and if things were ok between us. I sent the message to my friend and then blocked him.

She didn’t want me to block him, but I said I didn’t want to be in the middle of curating replies to him just to get a reaction. If he’s a true narcissist – which I certainly believe he is – he’s already bothered that I don’t see him in a good light and he would continue to pursue intermittently in hopes of interaction.

I’m good at shit like that but trying my hardest to stop creating more bad karma for myself.

He’s blocked. I’m done. Thank you, next.

First Real Signs of Strength = Small Wins

I do not know where it came from, but it’s very welcome.

I think it started with Maggie’s idea to get dressed in workout clothes first thing. And then just one small thing (I charged my Fitbit). Piled on top of Ann’s suggestion to read the book about Habits.

I have a whole day, every day to myself. I could be filling it with many things, but I don’t. The worst usurper of my time is digital. The TV is now relegated to post 6pm only. I’ve had small, barely noticeable tinges of regret for wasting this much time. The feeling is fleeting. The heaviness of emptiness is pervasive. I still feel dark and empty on the inside.

But there is a very small, yet immensely strong soul inside me that refuses to give up. Yea, she’s the same one who never gave up on Tony, too so she’s delusional but when put to good use she is mighty.

I noticed on the first day I convinced myself to exercise it was because I talked myself into sleeping the rest of the day away. I didn’t do that, but the self-talk convinced me I could, should I want to. Based on that inkling of promise, I reframed the amount of time I have to myself and I was able to make some positive steps forward.

Go to bed by 10pm, period. Get up 7:30am consistently to get the kid off to school. Get dressed in workout gear before leaving bedroom (put it out night before so no excuses). Wear the Fitbit (no monitoring steps yet) Then, come home and enjoy a quiet morning scrolling media or reading with my coffee. Finally, Peloton workout. 30 mins is the requirement.

If I can change this one thing, getting dressed and then committing to some exercise for 30 minutes daily, I will not require myself to do more during that day unless necessary.

Nice deal I made with myself, right?

I can do this well before 11am. And, so far when I do, I see the energy to do other important tasks such as work related or finance related items. I won’t force myself to do more, I just seem to be more restless doing nothing after the workout. It’s a bit harder to sit still when I created good energy.

I also know the absolute best way to manage my food intake and stick to my keto macros is to log my food. I have been doing this on and off since surgery but I’m paying more attention now. I have an app that I can scan the UPC code and it makes it super easy to keep track. I’ve also knocked almost all my sugar cravings and have found the right kind of food substitutes. It helps that I don’t go out drinking and eating as often as well!

I realize this isn’t a big commitment. But it’s a start to getting my head screwed back onto my shoulders. I’ve been off the rails for close to a year. By the end of April last year I began to lose the will to live, so time slipped right through my fingers. I don’t think I will be remembering my 51st year with any fondness.

I’ve learned to avoid making morning commitments so I can adhere to my small routine. I still overwhelm easily which is worrisome considering how much I’ve been able to shoulder in the past. I still feel like part of my mind (as well as my soul) is broken and disconnected.

My small win this week has been rewarding. Every day I remind myself I’m doing this for me. I had surgery and lost a ton of weight, no reason I can’t tone up and be strong also. I want to be strong again. So while I’m fragile emotionally, the least I can do for myself is begin to make my body stronger. I’ve misused my body, mind and soul this past year but only I can recover what I’ve given away.

By the time this posts, I will have completed and entire week of routine. Good eating, good sleeping and exercise. Other than pure physical recovery (which was no small feat based on my surgeries) this is the most I’ve accomplished since surgery. I am happy it’s a start.

I’ll take it.

Who Is That Person?

Slowly, very slowly, I have been easing myself back into the real world and acknowledging I don’t have much longer to subsist on liquid assets and have to earn an income. Oh joy.

My time is running out quickly. March 1st was the internal deadline I set for myself to have a job and start being fit. That gave me a full 6 months of healing. I have done absolutely nothing in the way of fitness and believe me I have all the time in the world as well as an expensive Peloton Bike. I have, however, started the gears going on my job search.

Luckily, I have a good outplacement service paid for by previous employer. I had a slow start as I was confused about how to search for a role that pretty much doesn’t exist anymore. It wasn’t until my resume rewrite was complete that I realized I had to change the way I was thinking about transferable skills as well as what I may want to achieve in my next role.

My resume writer is very strong, definitely better than the one I had in 2014. We speak on the phone and she gives me suggestions about how to finesse my thoughts on my brand (me). I realized through research what was bothering me about my old resume. The resume appeared to say “I did this” and then “I did more of this” and finally “I did a lot more of this” without really highlighting my soft skills that have been quantifiable from my previous role. I was solely focused on my technical skills as I had been in the past, and many of those are actually not transferable skills. But, soft skills are hard to quantify – everyone can state “influential and dynamic” in writing, but I had actually influenced change and created a dynamic process and team – I had quantifiable achievements that can be considered highly valuable in another area.

So we talked through what was on my mind, I made some bullet points for her to use as specifics and a jumping off point to refine and wordsmith to create my brand and we had a blueprint to a new resume focus.

The resume that came back was fascinating! It took me more than a few minutes to digest that it was, perhaps, me. It felt uncomfortable at first. I sent it to a few close peers and received back “sounds just like you, Mads!” Even when I questioned them “isn’t that too over the top? Do I really do these things? do you receive me as a Visionary Leader?” their answers were always “yes, that’s you now.”

Ummmmmm, ok. Humbled.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t had many moments of true happiness and confidence in 9 months. I got the iceberg in January of 18, but I really didn’t begin to sink until April of 18. Once I took on water, I went down fast from April – September. By September I had given up all hope and just wished for a painless exit. We all know I wasn’t granted my wish, God has a higher purpose for me. I didn’t experience any lasting moments of Joy from April through November, it seemed as if one more difficult, trying or miserable thing just kept happening and I was helpless to affect the outcome.

Regardless if Rob is never apart of my life, the Thanksgiving Football Party with my family, friends and Rob brought me a great deal of happiness for the first time in what had felt like forever. The feeling continued for some time and was the first glimpse that I could move forward. I had another lovely burst of joy around a holiday party with my family, sans a man, but it didn’t have the same lingering effect as the first. My life isn’t entirely devoid of happy moments, they just seem to fade very quickly at this time.

The resume was the second instance of lingering confidence and joy, and this didn’t happen until January. You will all be pleased to note this had nothing to do with a man! Reading the new view of myself elevated my confidence level to the moon and back. But then the doubts crept in – was that really me? Could I do it? Did I want to do it? Do I want to work that had to achieve? Was I presenting an imaginary version of myself?

I knew I could do it if I put my mind to it, but my mind isn’t necessarily in working order these days.

I also know I need to be consistent with positive thoughts and put my statements out into the universe, repeat them and bring the positive energy and light back unto me. I do believe in this, but putting daily mindfulness into practice has always been difficult for me.

I chose to take a webinar about bulletproof confidence. I need to invest in myself and do more mindfulness, but the hours of doing nothing still seem to slip by. The therapist says I will get there, but I’m beginning to get worried that I’m buried in cement as I can’t seem to maintain the effort.

What am I so afraid of?

The glimpses come and they are wonderful and enlightening, but I cannot sustain them. Maybe I am just too afraid of flying high and failing all over again: making promises I can’t actually keep because I’m a fraud?

A failed relationship, a failed career and parenting fails out the whazoo. I’m tired of picking myself up off the ground only to find myself here again, but my total lack of desire to even try this time is frightening, even to me.