Giving Up

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I have an honest update for you on my Whole 30 progress: I quit. I lasted 17 days and I decided to give up on all that progress not because I couldn’t do it but because I honestly realized that I didn’t want to do it anymore. I got to that point where I stopped necessarily missing / craving all the “bad” stuff that I had given up. Instead, I started missing my love of food. The Whole 30 started to feel like a chore. I dreaded cooking another compliant meal. I missed the camaraderie of eating out with friends. I missed baking and treating myself with a Starbucks coffee or a sweet of some sort. Plus, the more I read about the whole 30, the more restricted, angry, and bitter I started getting. And the worst fact of all was that I was getting mean and resentful thanks to my decision to abstain. Basically, the reasons that I had started weren’t working out the way I wanted them to: I felt like my relationship with food was getting wore instead of better.

But the Whole 30 was not a complete bust. I learned a lot through my experience. I lost 7 pounds. I got the chance to really examine my eating habits. I really got a handle on the whole mindless eating thing. I re-ignited my desire to spend more time in the kitchen with Brian. We cooked a lot of simple yet delicious meals and I plan on continuing that trend. I also was forced to reconsider portions and how I construct a plate of food. I tamed my sugar sensitivity a bit and I realized that I have the willpower to make healthy eating choices without completely abstaining from eating things I enjoy.

In her book on habits, Better than Before, Gretchen Rubin talks about knowing yourself. One of the characteristics she mentions is knowing whether you are a moderator or an abstainer. I think I’m more of a moderator than I thought I was. I didn’t think that I had the willpower to be moderate when it came to the foods that I enjoy but after going 17 days without any sugar, milk, or grains I’m realizing that I have more willpower than I could have ever imagined. But abstaining like that didn’t bring me joy. I just couldn’t wait to end the Whole 30 and dig into all that I had been missing out on.

Today was my first post Whole 30 day and I didn’t go crazy. In fact, my first meal of the day was actually completely Whole 30 friendly (steak and eggs with country potatoes). I honestly have grown to realize that the key is to listen to my body. I need to only eat when I’m hungry (not when I’m emotional or social) and I need to keep my meals simple and nutritious. I thoroughly cleaned out my kitchen in preparation for the Whole 30 and I don’t think I’m going to be rushing to the store to fill it back up with junk. I’ve learned how to read labels more carefully to look out for added stuff that I don’t necessarily want in my body. And when that fails, I recognize that I have the option to make my own which is pretty awesome.

So while I thought I would be super disappointed that I didn’t actually complete the whole 30 days, I’m strangely okay with my decision. In fact, I’m excited to move forward. I’m going to be stepping my game up at the gym over the next couple weeks to really prep for the wedding and I finally signed up for a personal trainer to help with those efforts. I realize that diet and exercise go hand in hand so I’ll continue tracking and logging my food on MyFitnessPal to keep me aware of what I’m stuffing in my mouth and help me stay on the healthy path.

So I’m curious: are you more of an abstainer or moderator?  How do you keep your eating habits healthy?  Have you ever embarked on a Whole 30 diet (or something similar)?  How did that work for you?

Story

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Today’s post is going to be a short reflection on the topic of story:

I have a very deep reverence for the power of story.  In fact, in many ways I feel like part of my vocational calling is tied to story.  I spend a huge part of my days reading stories and helping others unwrap the deeper meaning that lies at the heart of all stories.  I do not spend nearly enough time crafting my own stories.  This isn’t to say that they aren’t there.  I just haven’t always been able to correctly prioritized my calling to be a storyteller.  But every day is a new opportunity to get focused and carve out the time to do the work.  The muse is always speaking, I just need to be the recorder.

In the mean time, I will keep my reverence for story as an integral part of all my creative work.  After all, my stories are what influence why I do what I do (in my writing on here, in my creative work, and in my career).  Stories are being crafted and recrafted every day.  Each new plot development in my life leads to the posts I put on here and the other creative projects I decide to tackle.  I’m always looking for inspiration to craft good stories and live out even better ones.

Imperfection

The Inner Dialogue of a Perfectionist
Start now.
But I don’t have any good ideas.
Create something.
I can’t.  I’m not creative enough.
All my ideas SUCK.
 
Just put words on the page.
But the inspiration isn’t speaking to me.
I don’t have the time to let the genius seep out.
You don’t need to be perfect.
I don’t want my piece to suck.
I’m afraid of failing
of creating something ugly
of not being a creative
of not being able to do what I love.
 
I want to weave together beauty.
I can’t let any of the ugly seep through.
I don’t want to be a failure
Again.
I don’t know how to start.
I don’t want to start.
I need more preparation.
I don’t know enough.  
I’m not good enough.
My work will never be good enough.
I’m not a writer.
I’m not an artist.
What was I thinking?
 
Stop.
What have I created lately?
Nothing but an inner monologue
of paralyzing criticism.
 

I’m a bit hyper reflective when it comes to my own creativity.  I spend a lot more time thinking about how I can be more creative than I do actually creating.  This is a problem.  I know.

This morning I got a dose of inspiration listening to Sarah Bagley interview Melissa Dinwiddie on the topic of living a creative life.  They both shared anecdotes about being paralyzed by fear and having that lead to years of not doing what they loved.  This has been me for several years: a writer who doesn’t write, a creator who doesn’t create.  And all of my lack of production comes from my unwillingness and inability to produce something less than perfect.  I don’t even really know what perfect looks like or sounds like, but in my mind I talk myself out of doing because I tell myself that my work won’t be good enough.  I tell myself I’m not ready.  And maybe I’m not ready but how would I know when I don’t really try?

Even my blog has suffered due to this perfection paralysis.  I’ve neglected posting regularly or really committing because I tell myself that my ideas don’t matter.  I talk myself out of sharing my insights because they don’t feel refined enough.  I let some post ideas die because I figure no one will really want to read that.  I don’t stop to really think about what I’d like to write about.  No, the inner critic filters all of that out pretty quickly.

And the funny thing is that this morning before I listened to the podcast I was thinking about how when I was a little kid, I didn’t have this inner critic.  When I wanted to do something, I went for it.  I love watching videos of my younger self because she was fearless.  She knew what she wanted and she went for it.  No filter.  No critic.

But here’s the thing: that little fireball is still me.  She didn’t disappear.  She just somehow got lost in the midst of other voices that I internalized.  I don’t know where I caught the perfection bug but once he moved into my head with all his critic friends, my little fireball was silenced.  And my creative efforts have never been quite the same.

But creative efforts are just like anything else in life.  They require practice.  And you must begin a practice to reap the benefits.  So today, I decided to take a step forward.  I silenced my inner critic.  I didn’t worry about training or knowledge or materials.  I just sat my butt down at my desk and I delved into this hand lettering thing that has been intriguing me and I created my first piece.  And now I’m going to share that piece with you:

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Honestly, sharing this piece feels almost as difficult as creating it.  The more I look at it the more flaws I see.  And yet, sharing progress, putting your work out there, is a HUGE part of the creative process.  The same thing goes with my writing which is why this post is getting so long.  I’m practicing my crafts and showing my work as I go.  I know that I’m far from perfect.  I’m not sure I’ll ever get to perfect, but today I let go of that expectation and allowed myself to just have a little fun practicing  and that’s what really makes art add meaning to life, right?

Let’s hope that this is day one of many creative days to come.

Do you find yourself a victim of perfection paralysis?  How do you deal?  What are your creative goals?  What steps are you taking to achieve them?

The Whole 30 is ON

Be more healthy. Every year this is a goal for me. And I know what I should do to embody this goal: eat right, exercise, sleep, drink water, repeat. But every year, I get stuck or taken off the righteous path. I give in to the temptation of fast food and snacking during my endless hours of grading. I mindlessly shove food into my body while I lounge on the couch watching mindless TV after a long day of work instead of going for that run. And before I even realize how bad things actually are, I’m losing sleep, super stressed out, and all those healthy habits are a distant memory. My pants no longer fit and I’m wondering, how the heck did I get here?

Well this year the familiar cycle repeated itself. I had a lot of healthy living success over the summer. I lost a pretty significant chunk of weight, I ran my first 5k, and I committed to yoga teacher training. I was looking and feeling pretty darn fit and fabulous. I even survived a semester of school without too much upheaval in my healthy ways. And then my yoga teacher training wrapped up and I had some personal letdowns. And then all of a sudden I had just turned my back on my health. I stopped taking care of myself. I felt unmotivated to do much of anything, especially exercise. I struggled to get out of bed, my TV addiction got real bad (I polished off all the seasons of Gilmore Girls in like a month). This was a definite low point.

But I’ve been crawling my way back to my core desired feelings. And one of those is definitely to feel healthy. This isn’t about vanity and looking great (although that is a definite perk). I’m really focusing on how I feel. I don’t want to be lethargic and moody any more. I don’t want my days to feel like some sort of struggle. And so I decided to tackle the Whole 30.

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This is a pretty typical whole 30 breakfast for me. I actually am not really missing the toast all that much anymore.

I’ve committed to 30 days of abstaining from added sugar of any kind (real or artificial), alcohol in any form, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. I’m cutting out the junk that has helped to produce my very unhealthy relationship with food. I’ve been using food to try to deal with emotions instead of using food for its intended purpose: to fuel my body! And so for the next 30 days I’ve cut out all the yummies that have distorted me from the nutritional value and purpose of eating.

I’m 10 days in. This program is seriously testing my willpower. I kicked the whole thing off by purging my kitchen which definitely helps but still … I can’t live in the bubble of my own house forever. And on day 2, there were donuts and pastries at work. But I’ve stayed strong for 10 days and I’ve already started to notice a shift. Around Day 6 I stopped feeling HUNGRY all the time. I now eat three meals a day (unless I’m working out; on work out days I get a pre-work out snack). I’m no longer mindlessly snacking because I’m bored or emotional. I eat when I’m hungry. I’m still having cravings for some of my old favorites but they don’t feel as strong as they did when I kicked this thing off.

I have 20 days to go and then a 10 day reintroduction to see how my body reacts to all that bad stuff after abstaining for 30 days. I’ll keep you apprised of my progress. Just know that as of today I feel energized, my skin has been amazingly clear and “glowing”, my workouts have been awesome, and I have been strangely optimistic lately. Note that some of this just might be the fact that summer is right around the corner but I’m going to say that the shifts in my diet have to also be somewhat of a contributing factor.

I’m still reading!

I’m hoping to read at least 30 books in 2015. I usually reach for 50 but I haven’t reached that goal in ages so I’m cutting back my goal and seeing if that helps me accomplish it this year!

Big Little Lies is book 10 out of 30. According to goodreads this puts me ahead of schedule! Thus far I’ve just been reading and tracking my progress on goodreads but I realized I missed sharing some thoughts and insights on what I have read.

biglittleies

Big Little Lies caught my attention because the synopsis describes the book as “a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.” I fell in love with the characters of Jane, Madelyn, and Celeste. I found myself really sympathizing most with Jane because I saw a lot of myself in her. I wanted to be more fiery like Madelyn. I just wanted to jump into the book and hug Celeste. The characters were far from perfect but what made them so incredibly impactful to me was the fact that their internal monologues were so incredibly uncensored. Even more, they encouraged self-reflection about the ways in which I do lie to myself sometimes. Don’t we all?

I guess the big walk away for me is that not every lie is inherently bad. This is why people so frequently celebrate the notion of faking it until you make it or starting before you’re ready. Sometimes to make it through the day we have to pretend. We have to be phony. This doesn’t strike me as being inherently disingenuous or cruel. Instead, these lies, these stories, allow us to create the version(s) of ourselves that we need to become. Sometimes these are necessary to just make it through the day. As long as the lies come from the right place, they can turn into a revelation of a better truth and isn’t that really where we all want to get to anyway?

But be careful because when we tell ourselves lies too frequently we start to believe them. When you listen too much to the lies that your inner critic tells you, you start to believe them. We have to be diligent in checking and editing the story we are writing for our lives. We can’t let the critic take over and write the story for us. We can’t let ourselves tell so many lies that we have completely lost a connection to the truth.

Your turn to share!
What’s one lie you’ve been telling yourself lately? How does that lie fit into the story you are trying to write for yourself? If you’ve read Big Little Lies, which character did you find yourself relating to most?