Did I ever tell you guys I became vegan on accident? I’ve been a vegetarian for many years. It started when I was around thirteen. I became a vegetarian because of hot dogs and fish. That’s a story for another blog though. However, I’ve always had a deep rooted love of cheese. Cheese, and sour cream. If we are being honest I probably could have lived on an island with only cheese, sour cream, and potatoes, in any form. Recipe for disaster when you are a vegetarian because that translated to a whole lot of potato chips, nachos, and chips dunked in that canned nacho cheese sauce and then dunked in sour cream. Finished off with some donuts, because if I’m living on only a few foods, donuts are coming to that island with me. There is a reason I got fat y’all.
I digress. When I started this whole weight loss journey I didn’t start off handling my food. The first and best thing I did was start working out. I still maintain that was the best decision I made. Once that was a habit, tackling my food became easier, because you learn if you eat good your workouts feel good. Like most people trying to lose weight I went the most obvious route. Obsessive calorie counting. I would log into my calorie app about 70 times a day to track every single thing that went into my mouth. It was tedious, and depressing, and I’m so glad I NEVER track my food any more.
Lets back track for a moment. For any of you following along on this blog for any amount of time you know I’ve had stomach issues for years. Dating back to some time in high school. I went to a GI doctor way back then. Their very first suggestion was lactose intolerance. Being young and dumb I didn’t really understand it. I would give up ice cream and cheese for a couple days, still feel like shit, and declare them wrong. Never realizing how much of the food I didn’t cut out still had milk. Hello cupcakes, pop tarts, wheat bread. I’m looking at you, you dairy filled bastards of happiness. For all of these years it never really occurred to me I could be lactose intolerant. I was a vegetarian who lived on dairy for fucks sake.
Back to the point. During my obsessive calorie counting stage I would limit myself to 1200 calories a day, 1500 if I did a really hard workout. I started to slowly realize I could shave off 100 calories if I left off the cheese, and 70 calories if I skipped the sour cream. Leaving butter off my toast saved me about 100 calories, and if I was eliminating the butter I may as well eliminate the toast too, right? After a while I noticed I felt really good. It still didn’t register why. Then one of those days I was having a cheat day, I went all out. Taco Bell nachos, extra sour cream, ice cream, and pizza. I don’t mess around on cheat days. I was sick for two days after. I assumed it was just from over eating. So I went back to my meticulous calorie counting. Then, one day not realizing it, I had something with butter in it. I was sick for hours afterwards. I started to pick apart my food diary and realized so many of my stomach issues were a result of days I ate dairy. I looked further and saw a pattern with my skin. If I ate dairy I would break out for 2-3 days afterwards. Could I be lactose intolerant?
Yes. It turns out for the past 16 years at least, I’ve been lactose intolerant. So, I’m now a vegetarian, who is lactose intolerant, and doesn’t eat eggs (we’ve talked about the chicken period right?”) Which, pretty much makes me a vegan.
I also spent a lot of time thinking I was allergic to gluten. It was madness though, because it was only some gluten, and only sometimes. After allergy testing it turns out I’m allergic to BARLEY. Which means I can’t eat most gluten products because they have barley in them.
Over time I converted from an obsessive calorie counter to someone who just ate real whole food. I don’t track my food at all any more. I have zero idea what my macros are. I just eat real food. I cannot tell you how much this has helped my stomach. Eliminating dairy was a huge help. My skin is also a million times better. Whey protein had to go too, it would make my chest, back and neck break out something fierce. Cutting out the barley (most gluten) has helped all of the swelling in my stomach, and the joint pain I was having. If I eat too much gluten or barley my knees, and hips start hurting to the point that the simple act of standing up makes me a little misty eyed.
So that is how I became a vegan on accident. Being vegan is so hard for me, because I know what I’m missing out on. I know how good that fresh mozzarella is, I know how good that donut is, I know how good your ice cream is. I know how good it all is when I’m cooking it and giving it to my kids. I just can’t eat it. A lot of people tell me often how dedicated I am, and how they wish they could be like me. The truth is, once you learn your allergies, and your bodies limits, changing how you eat is really easy. If you can stop all of your stomach pain by giving up dairy, you would. Is it boring to eat like me? Yes. Is it safe though? Yes. I know everything I eat is safe. It’s not going to send me to ER with stomach pain. It isn’t going to make me sick for two days. It isn’t going to cause me to break out. I just feel good. The best side effect is that I can run farther and faster now that I’m not eating food that is destroying me from the inside out.
The happy side effect to this is it’s basically eliminated all cheat food for me. I cannot eat fast food now; it all has dairy or barley. I cannot indulge on frozen yogurt with the family, I’m vegan. Pizza at a kids birthday party? Nope, I’m vegan I can’t. Someone stopped by with a box of chocolates, sorry, I’m vegan. See what I mean. Eating well becomes really easy when you have a giant massive food label like VEGAN. You should see me hide my face at restaurants when I tell people. It’s easier to just say vegan, but they take it more serious if I say lactose intolerant. The down side is, no one ever invites me over for dinner. Try cooking for my family; I’m a vegan whose lactose intolerant and allergic to all nuts, except cashews, allergic to soy, and quinoa (and beets and tofu, and joy). My husband is lactose intolerant. Brandon is allergic to all nuts, legumes, beans, lentils, soy, etc. And Codi, well Codi doesn’t have many allergies but he’s suspicious about all foods, and won’t eat any condiments except fish sauce, and soy sauce (but his brothers allergic to that soy sauce), and lord help you if his food touched a plate that ketchup touched. Aren’t you just dying to invite us over for dinner?
Anyway, that’s sort of the secret to maintaining my weight loss. The label vegan. It’s a massive restriction, but it’s a necessary one. I ate some barley this weekend and spent two days being sick, swollen, and in pain. When my whole family ordered fresh cheese pizzas I wanted to join in so badly, but I knew, I knew I would spend hours and hours and hours sick, and it wasn’t worth it. I know everyone looks at me like I’m some trendy hipster when I say “vegan.” I’m not though. I’ve been vegetarian since the 90s. This lactose shit is just my own body hating me, and my love of canned cheese sauce, and yes, I’ve checked, nacho cheese sauce does contain actual dairy products. I’ve checked, three times. I miss my canned nacho cheese sauce.
This blog started out funny in my head you guys. It’s obvious I haven’t flexed my writing skills in a long time. I’ll work on being funny again.
Hi all. I've kind of fallen off the planet with blogging. The only reason is because it is almost impossible to load photos to the blog anymore, so I just stopped writing. However, I've been documenting my jouney on a public Facebook page which can be found here
Stop by, check it out. I'm training for a half marathon in San Francisco in September. Scary but exciting. I was also featured in March's Family Circle magazine which is pretty rad. I would post photos...but I can't. You can see the article on my page though.
10.20.2015What everyone has gotten wrong about Lamar Odom
I keep seeing things on Facebook shaming people for being concerned about Lamar. Shaming us for caring what happens to him and not caring about this soldier, sick child, nurse, etc.
I have a few things to address on this topic. I'll pic the lightest one first.
Lamar is married to Khloe Kardashian. It appears this fact has made everyone forget that he is also a very talented basketball player and a very kind soul. I'm going to go ahead and admit this now. I watched their romance on Keeping up with the Kardashians. I watched their wedding. I watched their spin off show. I'm not sorry. Since we have been small we have read fairytales. We have watched romantic comedies. We have read romance novels. Women especially love a good love story. A real life one that plays out on live TV with actual people, that's a bonus for us romantics. When Khloe and Lamar divorced I was heartbroken. I don't know these people but to some degree they have allowed us enough access into their lives to feel like I do actually know them. As if we are acquaintances who only see each other on holidays. Which we do, only the holidays are filmed and they are eating glamorous food in fancy dresses while I sit on my couch watching in my sweats eating Oreos. We have all followed along as Khloe moved on. I've watched in awe as she got fit and healthy. I've even done some of the workouts she's posted and I admit, they're kicked my ass. I've watched the current seasons lamenting about how I wish Lamar could get better and they would make up. When his best friend died of drug related issues I was scared. Scared because I knew he had two options after that: get clean and turn his life around, or allow the depression to eat him whole and overdose himself. This leads me to my second thing.
Lamar Odom suffers from depression. Probably other things, PTSD from all the death he's seen sounds right. Until recently he's tried to be a stand up guy. He was a dedicated athlete, a good grandson, father, and an excellent friend. He was by all means a good person. Lamar, like many is also an addict. Before anyone judges him for overdosing as a method of treating his depression please first stop and make sure that you have never once in your entire life done anything self destructive as a response to depression. Be sure you've never had too many drinks, taken too many pills, done too many lines, or eaten too many donuts. Make sure that you, yourself have never once self medicated. The fact that he is an athlete who happened to fall in love with a Kardashian doesn't make his addiction less valuable. It doesn't make his life less valuable. It is tragic to me that someone with his financial means still couldn't manage to find a way to get clean, to treat his demons, and to save himself. How dare we judge him because he was married to Khloe. How dare any of you judge the news for talking about her. She is a human. A real person who dropped everything to fly there and be with him. To sleep on pillows in a sleeping bag on the floor of his hospital room never leaving his side. To fly his whole family in to make sure they got to say goodbye. She shut down all of her publicity. Stopped posting to the apps and the websites. She became just like every other human out there is hurting, watching someone they love hanging on to life by a thread. Does her being a Kardashian devalue that? Or is everyone so blinded by their jealousy of her fortune that they want to tear her down for being a famous person going through a horrifying situation? I'll admit now, I would gladly be known as being famous for doing nothing besides opening my own clothing store, having my own clothing line, launching a successful hair and make up line, looking pretty all the time, and having a highly viewed television show, if it meant I could have Khloes bank account. Wouldn't we all?
Two people met, and fell in love very publicly, and when one of them nearly dies some of us are going to understandably be sad about it. We are going to have questions. We are going to want news coverage on it. Because the fact is this isn't fiction. We can't turn the page and find out what happens next. We have to wait for information. Jax Teller was a fictional tv character who died a year ago on tv. I'm still sad about Opie, Jax wife, and Jax himself. In fact. I cried actual tears when Jax and Opie died. These are fictional people. That doesn't mean we don't become attached. Khloe and Lamar are real people, for some of us who have been following their "love story," this was heartbreaking for us. Who cares if it was in a brothel in Nevada, and she's a Kardashian. Two of our favorite characters are hurting and so am I.
Finally. For any one, anyone who is posting that Lamar shouldn't be discussed, or given media coverage for the public, or mourned, because he was a drug addict who overdosed, kindly fuck you. My biological father was a drug addict. He committed suicide while high on meth and other opiates. Telling the public that we shouldn't care about Lamar because he was "just a drug addict" is telling me that my fathers suicide shouldn't have mattered because he was just another druggie. Just because Lamar is famous it doesn't change the facts. He is a man who struggles with depression, who chose to self medicate, and lost the battle with the disease of addiction. Rather then smuggly post pics about how you are not sorry you don't care about another drug addict why not see this for the very public platform it is. This is a very public face to addiction and depression. This is a real life example of what happens if you don't seek out the proper treatment. The news should print everything about this. Cover our feed with this story because it is bringing awareness to this topic. Look what can happen if you don't stop now. Look what happens if you don't seek help. Look how many people would be left hurting if that one last pill/line/needle turned into an overdose. My dad didn't know how to get help. Depression, drugs and suicide were swept under the rug and ignored twenty one years ago, they still are. It didn't get treated the way it should have, and he is gone now. Lamar overdosing is a huge wake up call to the public. Don't do drugs. Get help. Treat depression. When Robin Williams committed suicide everyone mourned. Everyone shared his photos and the news followed closely. No one complained because he wasn't married to a Kardashian and he didn't commit suicide via drug use. The hard truth is Lamar was in a sense committing suicide. He knew what path he was on and he chose to stay the course. He knew death was a very real option after losing his best friend. He was slowly killing himself. The public is outraged at the coverage though because he is linked to a Kardashian and he used drugs. What a massive double standard between the two men.
I hope Lamar never comes across the meme comparing himself to the wounded solider. Seeing that America is considering him worthless because of his habit. I hope he never comes across that meme on a bad day and thinks, "maybe they are right, maybe I am no one, maybe I shouldn't have gotten to live." I hope he never sees something like that meme, thinks his worth is less then any other human, and chooses to use again. I hope he never loses the battle with recovery because some dumb ass thought posting all over the Internet how proud they are to not care about a worthless drug addict made them feel good for a moment. I hope he sees all of the love and outpouring for him and he realizes he has value, and he stays clean, and he when he looks for support he finds it, in place of distasteful memes degrading him for being someone who suffers from a disease.
I'm not sorry for following along with Lamar. I will continue to do so. When he woke up I was overcome with emotion. He gets a second chance. He has a real chance to change. To turn his life around and get clean. He can use this experience to educate others and help others. I cannot wait to see how he overcomes this. I cannot wait to see how he teaches the public to change and move on. I also cannot wait for Khloe and Lamar to make up and get married all over again. Of course on television so I can watch and feel like an invited guest again. It's just like the fairy tails. Only the prince was a drug addict who got a second chance and Cinderella is a reality tv star.
It seems like the theme of the year is following up on old posts. Today lets follow up on this post. The post where I basically trash my self esteem and body in every possible way. I think I spent probably another year and a half after that post feeling exactly the same way. I was still posting photos but making sure to caption them pointing out my flaws. I did this because I felt like if I said it, no one else would say it, and also if I said it, then it would give everyone else permission to feel okay thinking the awful things they thought about me.
I think the biggest changing factor in all of this was when my trainer Cheryl told me one day I looked good. I don't remember my exact response but it was something like, "well my thighs are still huge, and I'm not small like you, and if I could just get this arm fat to go away." She was visibly upset. She told me that first and foremost I need to learn to just say "thank you." That when she complimented me and I responded negatively it was frustrating to her, and caused her to not want to compliment me again. I walked away from that moment frustrated. Couldn't she see that I might be much smaller now but I didn't look "good?" My thighs still have this weird cellulite back fat thing going on. They jiggle when I walk. My belly is full of loose skin. My back muscles aren't visible. Etc. Etc. Etc.
A few days later she complimented me again. I paused for a moment, took a breath, and then said, "thank you." She high fived me and told me good job accepting that compliment.
I tried this tactic with others. Accepting the compliment, saying "thank you," being polite about it. However, in my head I was still mentally berating myself, my flaws, all of the hidden stuff they couldn't see. Then one day I saw this:
I had two realizations at once. One was that I had many friends getting healthy, and losing weight, and I was always complimenting them. Even though they were no where near their goal that didn't diminish the progress they had made. Two. I had been busting my ass. I was in the gym often. I was eating better then ever. I may not be the most perfect specimen out there, but dammit, I was doing pretty good. I would never take back a compliment I had given another friend in the middle of their journey, just because it wasn't complete. Perhaps I should start looking at compliments I received differently.
I'm better with all of this now. When someone tells me I look good, I usually fire back something funny like, "heck yeah, I'm a badass." My trainer laughs at me now. Sometimes I'll try and flex and say, "wait, you've got to see these guns." I know I'm still not a bikini competitor, but you guys, I've done a lot of work, and I kick ass for it. I've lost 78 pounds. I've lost at least 15% body fat. I can run a 10k. I have three and a half visible abs. I'm not doing to bad over here. I still have days where I pick myself apart. Let's be honest, we all do that, we always will. However, I have more days of building myself up then I have of tearing myself down. When I take pics now I focus on my muscles, or how tone my legs look. I don't focus on the arm fat, or cellulite. I still do progress pics often, just to remind myself of what an incredible change I've made. I will probably do progress photos for the rest of my life, to keep reminding myself that I'm not her anymore.
All of this fitness stuff has changed my mentality also. I'm just happier in general. It's harder to spew up a negative comment when I'm feeling high on life from a workout. I can tell when I miss too many days in the gym. I start to tear apart every single spec of fat on my body. The easiest fix for that is to hit the gym, or go on a run. I feel like I'm nicer now. I feel more confident. I feel more worthy. I LIKE myself more then I ever have. That's important. How can I teach my kids to love themselves if I don't even like myself?
I think we all need to work on taking compliments. We don't say thank you enough. We don't hear the compliment and really let it soak in. We brush them off so fast our brain doesn't have time to store it away and soak in the positive reinforcement.
I also think we all need to be better at giving compliments. We don't give compliments enough. Everyone loves to receive a compliment, but too many people seem above actually handing out a straight forward compliment. Not a backhanded compliment like, "even though you spend too much time in the gym you still look good." Not a compliment that is about yourself also, "oh you are just like me, with such tone legs." Just a basic, real nice compliment. I am working on that. I try hard now to give out real compliments. To mean it. To give them to my kids, to my husband, to my friends, to strangers at the gym. I leave reviews now when I think someone has done a stellar job. I want to make sure people know when they are being incredible. I compliment chefs, waiters, my hair stylist, all kinds of people now. I think giving compliments, helps me be better at receiving them.
I think I've moved light years past that girl from 2013. I'm happy. I like myself. I'm doing a fantastic job of being fit. I might just make it after all.
Three years ago I wrote this post about my fathers suicide and it's impact on me. I don't talk about this often, but I felt like it was time for an update on that. So here you go.
From 2007-2010 I tried approximately 12 different anti depressant medications. I tried therapy. I tried a lot of things. In the end nothing helped make sense of the thoughts and feelings in my head. One of the biggest, most lasting side effects of my fathers suicide was this feeling of worthlessness. As if I had no value. I've spent years feeling like everything good ends, everyone leaves, and good things can't happen to me. I've felt as if something must be wrong with me, because if I had just been good enough, he would have stayed behind for me. If I had done more, been more, gotten better grades, called more, been prettier.....etc, etc, etc, maybe he would have wanted to live for me. I almost left the night before my wedding because all of this was in my head. I've tried to leave my husband many times because this voice in my head continues to tell me daily I'm just not enough for my husband.
In 2012 things came crashing down inside of my head. I don't know how to describe this. There is not an event that happened, there was no giant momentous life changing thing that made me suddenly miserable, this was just in my head. I was unhappy. I had this incredible husband, and two amazing little boys, great friends, a good family, and a pretty good life. In my head though I wanted out. I felt many things. I felt like my husband deserved a better wife. Someone who wasn't 200 pounds, who did dishes, and cleaned up, who was active, and pretty, and put together. I felt like my kids were young and wouldn't realize I was gone and would end up loving this perfect new wife my husband would eventually find. I felt like I would no longer be a financial burden on my family, and my job. I felt ugly, sluggish, and worthless. I tried reaching out. I did. I was met with various responses, anger (sooo the wrong reaction), confusion (understandable), ignorance (frustrating for me), and from one person, understanding (yes, yes, yes, this is what is needed when someone reaches out to you asking for help).
This is where my history with suicide comes in. Because of what my father did, because of how it left me feeling growing up I knew one thing for certain, I COULD NEVER DO THAT TO MY KIDS. It was not an option. I would never ever leave them feeling the way my father left me. Instead I came up with a brilliant new plan. I would self destruct in a different way. Since the way I saw it in my mind is that I was a burden to everyone the solution to this issue would be to first and foremost destroy my marriage. I figured if I pushed my husband far enough away he would leave, find someone new, and eventually live this amazing life I felt he deserved. Then he would take the kids some of the time and they would have this amazing new family and everything would be great. What you have to understand is in my head I didn't feel worthy of my marriage. I didn't ever feel like I was enough for him. He would tell me all of the time that he loved me, all of me, and that I couldn't tell him not to love me. I just didn't hear it. All I heard in my head is that everything good ends, and I'm never going to be enough. If I made him leave then I could be the one to end it, and not give him a chance to end it for me like I knew would happen eventually.
I tried hard. I was mean to him, I made a male friend and spent far too much time with him. I began flirting with every guy in sight seeking any kind of validation. I drank more and became reclusive. I was absent from our daily life. It was like I was just existing enough to be a mom (barely) and make it through the day and go to bed. I told my husband I wanted time apart. I wanted him to go out of town and see how much better life was without me there bringing him down. I stopped cleaning, I stopped doing any chores, I didn't do school work, or play with the kids. My husband was being dad and mom all at once while I sat on the outside sinking into this hole of self hate.
And then, the best way I can describe what happened is to say, the butterfly effect kicked in. On March 23 2013 one of the moms at my sons school off handedly asked me to go to the gym. Because I didn't want to look like a lazy good for nothing and make up some bullshit excuse I said okay. To this day, I honestly don't know why she asked, why I accepted, why I didn't cancel, and how this all took place. All I know is on March 24th I met my friend at the gym. It was horrific. I couldn't complete a mile on the treadmill at a 15 minute mile pace. I couldn't do crunches. I couldn't lift any weights. I was overweight and felt out of place, miserable, and embarrassed. At the end of the workout when we left, the employee Russell who had taken my ID for the day pass asked me if I would be coming back tomorrow. Again, it's like another person took over my body when I said, "yes, I'm going to come back tomorrow and join the gym."
The next day March 25th 2013 I joined a gym. I worked out steadily for five months before I signed up with a trainer, a guy, because I was too self conscious to stand next to the girl trainers and their "perfect bodies". I had lost some weight, but not enough to change how I felt about myself. Now, I was surrounded by cute, thin, healthy fit girls and all I could think is, "That will never be me, I will never look that way." My husband was there working out also. He was getting a six pack set of abs, and being featured on a website of hot men, and in general just getting more and more fit. All I saw was the kind of girls I felt he belonged with. There was one trainer there, she was a small Filipino girl. Fit, and cute, and friendly, and everything I felt my husband deserved. I spent another five months trying to dismantle my marriage. While I was becoming happier, and in general a little bit nicer, I still couldn't get past this thought that my husband needed better. He deserved the best. He deserved the cute little fit girl at the gym. I even tried to get them to become friends, hoping if he just knew her he would fall in love with her, see there was something better then me out there, and go off and be happy with her.
After a while I got the hang of the gym. I made a complete lifestyle change. I cut out junk food, I cut out refined processed foods, I cut out the binging habit of self destructing, and I stopped drinking. I STOPPED DRINKING. But wait there is more. For about 10 years I had taken vicodin for back pain. I didn't have a habit, I would go months without it, but I always kept the prescription, "just in case." Just in case of what, I don't know, but I kept it. I made a choice in 2014 to let go of the prescription. To just stop everything. Get clean. Clean eating, clean mind, clean system. Other changes happened. I started dressing nice again. No more sloppy sweats, and dirty hair. I got my hair cut, I curled it, I threw on some mascara, I bought some cute dresses, and I threw on some heels. I was getting right.
This is where the second and third butterfly thing happens. I attended this funeral and felt a lot of myself change inside, in an instant. Then, for some reason I ended up at a certain business on a certain day. By happenstance I ran into the owner of the company whose father had just passed away (see above funeral). I've talked about him before, he is Jacks son. He is a busy man. You wouldn't believe the demands on his time. However on this day, he took ten minutes out of his day, to stop me, pull me into my office and ask me how I was doing. I told him about the gym, and he was thrilled. He was so encouraging, he told me I could do this, that I needed to do this, that I WOULD do this. He talked to me a lot that day. What he never realized is that day, he made me feel valuable. I felt like I must be worth something, if this very important person took ten minutes out of his day to talk to me. In an instant my head changed. I didn't want to let him down. I wanted to prove him right. I wanted to be this person that he saw when he looked at me. I wanted to become someone like him, who motivated others, encouraged others, did good things, gave back to the community, and lived my best life. We still talk. I still check in with him. Whenever I feel like I need a little boost I still shoot him a text because I know he will always have something positive, uplifting, and encouraging to say back to me. There will never be enough time, or enough words to express my gratitude for this man, who took time out of his day to make me feel valuable. Something I hadn't felt in over ten years.
Slowly the gym became a habit. I went three to five times a week. I never skipped workouts. It was as though I was addicted. Truth is, I probably am. Working out releases many of the same chemicals in your brain that all of those antidepressants contained. I was getting the same medication in a natural form that they were trying to pump into me in the form of pills.
However with all good things comes some bad things. I lost friends in this process. I lost friends because I stopped drinking, and wasn't "fun anymore." (authors note: I'm still super duper fun). I lost friends because I got thinner then them. They accused me of being gym obsessed and too fit. They didn't know that every one of those work outs was acting like an anti depressant for me. They just saw a pants size. Once mine was smaller then theirs, I was cut out. I was "obsessed and addicted, and spending too much time indoors." I looked back on my history and realized that in high school I had always worked out. I would go to school, go to work, and then go to the gym. Then I moved out and I just stopped. Cold turkey. No more activity. In reality that was like going cold turkey off of a drug. I crashed. I became depressed, and I spent the next 13 years sinking farther and farther into this hole I couldn't find my way out of.
I've been with the gym for over two years now. That cute little Filipino girl that I thought was so perfect for my husband eventually became one of my trainers, and a real friend. Over time without me noticing things just sort of changed. I was happy. I was confident. I felt worthy. I changed at home. I started doing chores. I started cleaning up, I put away my laundry every Sunday rather then let it pile up for five weeks until my husband gave in and complained. I started being active with my kids. I started working out with my husband. I no longer saw the cute trainer as better then me (her ass still has no rival, it's incredible), I saw us as equals. I didn't worry that my husband was looking at other girls at the gym, because I see myself clear enough now to know I'm enough for him to never need to look at anyone else. (In an effort to be honest, we both check out other girls asses at the gym, because he's an ass man, and I love a good ass as much as men do). I don't get jealous though, because I know he loves me, and I know I deserve that love. I know he wouldn't be happier with another person. I'm clear headed enough now to see all of the things he would miss if I was gone. (I'll reference the word "unicorn" for him here.) I know I'm a good wife. I know he needs me. I need him. We make an incredible team. A team of EQUALS. I'm not less then him, or more then him, I'm equal to him.
In January 2015 I had to have surgery. I had to take six weeks off from the gym. About four weeks in I found myself in the dark again. Suffocating once again. It was debilitating. I wanted out again. I was mean, unhappy, and feeling worthless again. What I didn't realize until much later is that I had basically gone cold turkey off of my drug. I stopped working out. I lost that dopamine boost. That serotonin boost. That endorphin bump. It wasn't until after, when I had been cleared to work out again, gone back to the gym, and gotten my head back that I was able to look back and see what had changed. My kids were telling me something was wrong, I wasn't acting like the mom they had known for the last year. My husband was asking me if I was okay, he was telling me I was different. I didn't hear it. I didn't want to. I wanted to be in that blackness. Making the choice to go back to the gym and get back to it was a hard one. Normally I get so held down with wanting to embrace this blackness that I don't make a move forward to help get out. This time, this time I did. I went back, I signed up for Tough Mudder. I told myself I had a goal. I had to train for this race. I couldn't stop. It worked. I kept going. I got that habit back. That touch of gym addiction came back.
I complete the Tough Mudder. I'll be honest, I slayed it. I absolutely rocked that event. I walked away from that event and took the time to look back at who I was and what I had become. I'm in love with this person I am now. I'm worth so much more then I thought I was for a lot of years. I'm happy. I'm capable of so much more then I had ever given myself credit for. I'm also annoying and obsessed with fitness, and I'll talk to anyone who wants to listen about working out and eating healthy. Because for me, it's the best thing I've ever done and I just feel like maybe if we all made a life change, got healthy, cut out the refined chemical food, maybe we could all get along, and be happy together. Maybe not, maybe it only worked for me. Either way, I still encourage it. Now, when I get a little fuzzy in the head I will tell my husband I need to go for a run, or perhaps a bike ride. Sometimes it's a hike alone. Sometimes it's a family walk. Sometimes it's a lunch break mid day run. I'm conscious now of my head space. When things start getting grey I handle it different. I don't turn to food. EVER. That was a horrible habit that was the biggest form of self destruction of all. Emotional eating is the one of the worst things you can do for yourself. I broke that habit. Now, I go to the gym, I go for a run, hell, sometimes I'll notice things are a little off and I'll start doing squats in my living room. Anything to give my mind that little endorphin bump long enough for me to bounce out of the negative mindset.
I keep everything in my house too. I have whiskey and vodka at home. Both my favorites. I don't touch them though. I keep them for two reasons. One is to remind me where I was, and the other is to prove to myself daily how strong I am. It's one thing to say you've quit drinking when there is no alcohol available, it's another to say you have quit when the alcohol is right there in your pantry. This also means I have Oreo's in my house. I have vegan ice cream, vegan pie, vegan cookies, etc. I keep it all there. That way every time I have a shitty day and I make it through without turning to food I feel that much stronger. It's easy not to turn to food when you don't have any of your triggers there, and you would have to leave the house and tell everyone you are leaving and drive to get the food. It's not as easy to avoid your trigger when there are right there in your pantry. I could easily go eat every cookie in the house, self destruct, shame myself, and no one would even know. I don't. I make better choices. I vocalize it to my husband so I know someone is watching me. It keeps me on point. It forces me to find another way to deal with the emotions besides eating them away.
I look back at my dads life and wonder, was he like me, did he lack basic chemicals to keep his brain happy? When he stopped doing athletics if he also went through that same chemical imbalance the same loss of self. I wonder if that is why he turned to drugs. If they were a faster way of getting that high, then fitness would have been. Or perhaps he was really just troubled and saw no way out. I wonder every single day if I would have suffered all of these years of depression and self loathing had he not committed suicide. Would that have still been in my head? Am I just genetically pre disposed to this hell he was in? If so, would I have found better tools of management from the start had he just been around to talk to me about his struggles? If he hadn't run away would I have gotten help sooner? I'll never know for sure. All I know is that I'm very glad I had the intelligence to realize what incredible damage I would be doing to my own kids if I had followed him down the road he took. I'm thankful I chose to self destruct without permanently ending my life. I'm glad I hit rock bottom. I'm glad I clawed my way out of it. I worked for this. I've earned it. My head is clear enough now to know that NO ONE will ever be better for my kids then me. There is no one who will ever ever ever know them like I do. No one will love them as much as me. Knowing that is what keeps me going to the gym. It's what keeps me logging miles on the pavement. It's what is saving my life again and again every single day.
I pay attention to my own kids now. To the signs. I know what it was like in my head from a young age. I know how I felt. I remember feeling worthless. I remember all of those feelings. I feel prepared now to face this head on should either of my kids suffer even an ounce of what I suffered. If this is genetic, if I have handed down a DNA nightmare I'm ready for it. Let's get active. Let's talk openly about this. Lets face this all head on. Talking about depression is not bad. It's not embarrassing. It should not be hidden. It should be faced straight on. Stared right in the face and acknowledged. It should never be buried or shamed. My father did years of damage to me. I don't know that I will ever fully recover from all of it. From losing him, losing my siblings whose mother moved away and erased me from their life, from losing touch with his side of the family, or from losing my sense of value. I wish he had tried harder. I wish he had reached out even one more time. I wish he would have put the drugs down and went for a walk, and had a protein shake, and gotten his mind right in healthier ways. I wish he had realized he was leaving behind a little girl who would have loved him no matter what defects he saw in himself. Suicide is never an answer. I have never once looked back and thought I was better off without him. None of us did. His mom wasn't happier, his family wasn't happier, I wasn't happier. He just left behind a trail of carnage and destruction. I still hate to be hugged. I still loath being touched. I'm still distant and emotionally unavailable. I'm still damaged from his loss.
Please. Please seek help. Try something different. Commit to thirty or sixty days of exercise just to see if perhaps what has helped me can help you. Reach out to someone. Lots of some ones. I reached out many times, and it wasn't until the sixth person who gave me understanding and a sounding board that I found a safe place to vent. Keep reaching out until you find your sounding board. As always you can even reach out to me. I love when I get emails about this. When I know that someone saw the mess my dad left me and has second thoughts about ending their own life.
I don't think I'm cured at all. I think I will battle this demon in my head my whole life. I can only hope I stay strong enough to battle it face on every day. That I stay strong enough to keep running, keep lifting, keep eating healthy nutritious food, keep looking for the good things in life. It's possible I'm just in a very extended HIGH part of a the bipolar coaster and that the exercise could all stop tomorrow when the rollercoaster falls down again. For now I choose to believe I'm curing the monster with fitness. I have life lines too. Outside of my family I have other people. I still text Jacks son. I reach out when I need a boost. I post publicly on social media because it reminds me how far I've come and keeps me accountable. I reach out to the trainers at my gym when I feel like I'm stuck and can't keep going. The guy, Russell who was there the day I agreed to enroll at the gym still works there. I still stop by his desk now and then and ask him to pull up my file. I like to see on the screen the date I enrolled, my history with coming to the gym my progress from my starting weight until now. I hope I've set myself up for success. I hope I don't end up with my dads legacy, that my kids never know his legacy, that I have a whole new legacy. One full of happiness, self love, and living the best possible life I can.
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