Monday, July 18, 2016

A Very Good Place to Start

I just re-read my last post, and while encouraged, I feel like a bit of a failure. The last few months have been ugly. Stressful, and more about surviving than thriving. Having my husband work away from home for three months, even with several visits, wreaked havoc on my health - both mental and physical. I placed such high expectations on myself, and assumed responsibility for so many things, that I had no chance of meeting any of those expectations, and had no energy to be responsible for the things for which I was actually responsible.

We're here now, in our new home, and tomorrow marks the end of school holidays. Tomorrow begins our new routine. I have no idea where to even begin, except to go back to the beginning.

Maybe this time I can make it a permanent change. I know I need to make a lot of changes, but instead of freaking out about it, I'm just going to make a small change, then another, and another. One change at a time, one day at a time. I want so badly to love myself again, to give myself the grace and compassion I give to others - but a lifetime of self-loathing is not easily undone. Perhaps one small act of kindness to myself, when performed repeatedly, will become a habit of kindness. From that habit, perhaps I will learn to love myself, the way others seem to care for me. I think I have unsurprisingly held the expectation that losing this weight would be straightforward and easy. It has proven to be the exact opposite, but it is not impossible.

But tomorrow is the beginning. And it is indeed a good place to start.  

XO,
Sarah




Saturday, April 30, 2016

I Love HIM More Than Chips

I'm not even sure how to explain what's been going on in my head and in my heart of late. Growing pains, I guess you could call them. But oh, my friends - how beautiful is the person I'm becoming!

A while back, I encountered God in the car park of an Aldi. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but bear with me. I had had A Day. The Mother of All Days. It was ugly, and I was going to the shop, with the intention of buying and purchasing potato chips, a chunk of Brie, a Coca-Cola, and I was going to sit in my car, and soothe myself back to happiness by consuming those things as fast as I could. Don't judge me. I know how dysfunctional it is. I know that for me, food has become medication. Well, in that car park, on my way into the shop, God says (not an audible voice, but the words were clear as anything) "You know, when you say "I can't help it, I need this", what you're really saying is  - "I don't trust You." I wish I could say that was the end of emotional and disordered eating for me, but the end of that story is unfolding before me now.

I am tired of fighting this thing, this twisted and sick addiction. I am tired of the guilt, and the shame, and the feeling so hateful toward myself. I am done. I surrender all of it to God, and because I am redeemed, I know that my story doesn't end with shame and guilt. Oh no. My story ends with joy unspeakable, with grace unimaginable, with victory unassailable. I can't even explain it, but my desire for all those foods which previously held me captive - it's just gone.  

Recently, I had a surgical procedure, and an enforced period of rest immediately following. For a busy mum accustomed to existing on protein bars and coffee, It was a challenge, but I am so glad for it. This forced 'down time' has been an opportunity for intense spiritual growth and development. My faith has been strengthened, and my tendency to allow my worth to be defined by things like the state of my house, the behaviour of my children, or the busyness of my schedule-- has been replaced. I know who I am , and it has nothing to do with any of those things.

I had the opportunity to watch the movie War Room. It's a movie about the power of prayer, plain and simple. I can't really explain it, but it shook me out of my comfy Christian existence, and awakened something inside me. I'm praying like I've never prayed before, I'm reading God's word like never before, and my brain is constantly engaged. I also started reading a couple of books, listening to a lot of sermons, and it's as though EVERY SINGLE ONE has something important to teach me.

We have made the decision to move back to New South Wales. Initially, I was not happy about this. I knew it was the right choice, and my doing it was never really in doubt. It was more that I wanted more than to just be obedient to God's call on my life. In this case, that was loving and supporting my husband by trusting him to make the right decisions for our family. I wanted to be JOYFULLY obedient.

Guess what. God did that, too.

Today was an amazing day. For the first time, I acknowledged that yes, I am sad about leaving my friends. And nothing can lessen that sadness. But I had this thought - if God can do for me, and for my family, in just twelve months all that he has done? How much more will he do as we move forward? I am ready to let go of all that I am holding onto so tightly, to open my hands, to open my life, and to follow him wherever he wants to go. And not just go there - but boldly. Confidently, because I know that this move has been carefully orchestrated, down to the tiniest of details.

So I have reached an understanding that while I love my family more than chips, I think the reason it's never worked because I wasn't loving God more than chips.

But I do now. And that, my dear friends, means I already have victory.

XO,
Sarah

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Time For Everything

In Ecclesiastes 3, I read that there is a time for everything.

The last decade of my life has been a time of poor nutrition (with a few brief moments of awesome nutrition here and there), a time of little to no exercise beyond surviving each day with small children (with a few brief periods of genuine exercise), a time of exhaustion, a time of pitiful immune function, a time of just trying to make it to the next day, with no hope of thriving in this crazy life I lead. This season has left me broken, weary, and ready to give up.

But. God says (through the author of this passage) that there is a time for everything - and I feel like the time for the previous season is ending. My youngest is starting kinder/preschool, and I can no longer deny that while my children still need me to keep them alive despite all their efforts to the contrary, they don't need me quite as intensively as they did as infants. The time has come for me to focus a bit more on my own physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

I tried when I turned 40, and then again after that, and again after that, but this time I'm doing things a bit differently. I'm not focusing so much on metrics. Not using a scale. Not keeping a food diary. I am using a couple of apps for exercise, a couch to 5K and a walking app (I want to keep a record of distance). I'm not 'going paleo', or anything else special. I'm simply aiming to make each day a little better than the one before it.

Since a major factor in this adventure will be organisation and planning, I'm also including each day one organisational thing. I thrive on order. My brain works better, which will serve me well if I am to be successful. The last two days I have:  completely organised and cleaned (except for the bits I can live with) the room where my desk is located and come up with a menu plan for next week.

My plan (which isn't really a plan, per se - I just don't know what else to call it) is to eat more vegetables and more protein, to mostly stop eating my emotions, to earnestly try to drink a reasonable amount of water, to exercise more. To stop treating my health and well-being as a luxury to be sacrificed on the altar of domesticity.

That's it. No numbers, no rules, just standing up and trying again. This time, with the knowledge that I am fearfully and wonderfully made - not to be sick and tired and crabby all the time, but to be vibrant, energetic, and a joyful servant to the One who made me.

See you on the road,
Sarah

Monday, October 19, 2015

How A Birthday Cake Has Become a Catalyst

It's been a long time. I moved to a galaxy far away, to a new house, and in the process of unpacking, making friends, helping the children settle - I got sick. Now we're all healthy again, hooray! 

Yes, yes - the catalyst thing. 

This last Saturday was my 41st birthday. My beloved husband and children made this cake for me: 


...and it was every bit as decadent as it looks. We actually froze 3/4 of it, as it was deliciously impossible to eat more. 
My delightful mother-in-law got my coffee machine out of lay-by prison:

and my husband also has ordered a stand mixer for me.


I have been thoroughly spoiled, and it's convinced me that I don't have to come last all the time. I've known this for ages, but when the rubber meets the road, I will throw my needs under a bus in the name of domestic devotion. It's my default mode - keep everyone happy, at all costs. 

Except, this default mode hasn't ever really served me. And it's definitely not serving me now. All it does is cause me to be dehydrated, nutritionally deficient, exhausted, extremely likely to get sick, obese, and feeling so much older than my 41 years. 

I've decided that this is over. I am redefining domestic devotion, to include a vital element. 

ME.

I am a vital part in our family. It's time for me to stop treating myself as though I'm not, and in doing so will only improve my own performance. 

My husband has been begging me to make an appointment for my hair. Not because he particularly finds my silver hair off-putting, but because it always makes me feel better, and puts a bounce in my step. I've put it off for a while, because there are a hundred other places we could use that money, and it's just my hair. It's a luxury. The fact that it helps me to feel vibrant and energetic is irrelevant.

Yesterday, I made that appointment. 

Our plan has always been that I would go back to school once the children were all in school. Our youngest starts kindy (pre-k) next year, three days a week. I am still in a state of denial over this. A decade of my life is drawing to a close, and I can't quite see what the next stages will look like. I want to enter the next stages with purpose and direction. 

So I applied to the University of New England. 

I (and here is the part of why this post is being written here on this blog) am tired of being overweight, sick, and tired. Of never feeling physically up to the task ahead of me. I want to have energy again. I want to not look tired. I know that a certain "you've got four kids" level of tired is to be expected, but I want it to be the tired that comes from being busy. Not tired because I've existed for a day.

So I am now making a habit of walking for a half hour every evening, out of the house, alone. This actually serves a couple of purposes - exercise, mental white space, and the chance to draw a deep and uninterrupted breath, to think deep and uninterrupted thoughts. Or just listen to a funny podcast, if I just need to laugh. 

In short, I'm ready to believe that I'm important, just as everyone tells me I am. 

The concept of offering myself to God as a living sacrifice - I don't think it means what I've thought it meant. I think it means caring for myself as a valuable tool in God's hands. And I'm ready to do that now. 

Love to all,
Sarah

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dear Sarah

I just want to say, I think you are pretty amazing. I mean, you have grown four human beings. That is mind-blowing. You navigate life with those four little humans with (most of the time, anyway) a great deal of patience and with a fierce love. Can I tell you something? Those are not dependent upon the size of your pants, or some number on the scale. 

I get it. You want to feel better - and that is a noble and good thing. Just don't let your pursuit of a healthier life get in the way of the life you have now. Stop feeling guilty at all that you aren't doing. Just stop it. Look at what you are in the middle of? A huge move. Packing up your family life, and transporting it to somewhere new. It's OKAY that you aren't doing all the things, you know. 

I guess what I'm saying to you is that you are doing okay. I love you, I think you're amazing, and when we get to our new place, and the dust is beginning to settle, we will climb this mountain, and you know what? We aren't doing it alone. God is with us. Always. He doesn't abandon us because we're a size 16, or because the scale is just plain nasty. He is ALWAYS there, and He will fight for us, when our strength and determination fail. Because they will, you know. And it's okay. Just don't get stuck there. 

Love,
You.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Why?

Because we are moving at the end of next month. 
Because I am tired.
Because I am over it all.
Because ugh. 
Because I want them to see their mother dealing with stress in a healthy manner.

Because of all those things, and so many more unspoken things. 

I. Am. Back. 

And hopefully, my "get fit and healthy" muscles are a bit stronger, and I will persevere.
And I'm going to smash it. 

Tomorrow is weigh-in day. And from there, I will endeavour to move every day, and to feed my body the nutrition it deserves. 

The way I see it, we are purging the old, and creating a new life for our family with this move. So I don't want to take along old habits. I simply don't have room for them. 

Big and Mighty Fist bumps,
Sarah

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Holding Steady

Things are changing. 

I am beginning to enjoy this self-care thing. I arranged with my husband last night to go out walking when he got home, and get this- I WENT. I didn't feel guilty, I didn't question whether I "should" stay at home and help him, I just went. November Sarah wouldn't have been able to do this. 

I'm feeling a bit blergh this week (in a regularly scheduled hormonal kind of way), and some of my dietary choices have been "iffy". I've still managed to come in under my calorie goal most days, and even with a few dodgy choices, I am proud that I didn't use it as an excuse to go on The Mother of All Binges. I felt a bit off, but I went for a walk, instead of sitting on the lounge or going to bed. In fact, I walked further than I have before, and one of my split paces was under 12 minutes - the fastest ever! I'm not really focusing on speed, but I'm aware of the need to continue challenging myself. I actually felt for a brief moment like running. I didn't, because medically, it's a bad idea. Very much so. But for the first time in forever, I could feel the "fit/healthy Sarah" inside. She's there, just waiting for her turn to shine.

So although this week hasn't been optimal, it has been pretty good. I've hit three exercise sessions (with a fourth planned for tomorrow morning), and have NOT (despite some pretty intense cravings) binged on rubbish. Or really, binged on anything. 

I'm weighing in this week at 84.2 - holding steady below 85, which was my first goal, with a loss of 200g. I'm happy with that, given the hormonal influences this week which make it VERY HARD to be sane, rational, and mindful. 

No, the biggest change this week really has nothing to do with numbers at all. The biggest change for me is a mental shift, and it is indeed momentous. For my whole life, I have felt like I just take up too much space in the world. Wanting to hide and be in the shadows, not attracting too much notice. Feeling like I somehow didn't deserve to exist like all the other people. It extended beyond the physical. And that's a much harder dragon to slay. Choosing a salad over pizza? Easy. Fighting that battle within, that's where the real war lies. Last night, I was walking, and I passed several people. Instead of wishing I were all alone, because "I'm such a fraud, dressed in my exercise clothes - who do I think I am, anyway? I should be embarrassed about being out in public dressed like this" and so on, I smiled and waved, and kept on walking. For the first time, I can wear my swimsuit to the beach, and not feel awkward. Because I realised that if everyone is worried about how they look in their swimmers, they're not looking at me. And even if they were looking at me, I no longer care what they (probably aren't) thinking. I'm too busy having fun with my family in the water. Too busy living life. 

I would rather live in the sun, than merely exist in the shade. 

Have a terrific day! 
XO, Sarah