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. 


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,

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. 


Saturday, May 9, 2015


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,

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

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Three High Fives

Or maybe that would be a High Fifteen. Whatever. 

So I've downloaded this app, called Pacer. It's a pretty basic pedometer app, but one of the features I like is that you can choose a plan. I've chosen to tackle that elusive 10,000 steps a day mountain, so I chose the option called 'Couch to 10K Steps'. I don't spend a lot of time on my couch, but I am curious about how many steps I'd take in a given day. I feel like I'm on my feet a lot, but I think it's easy to overestimate how active you are. So my goal yesterday was to reach 4000 steps. I came in at 6297. Thanks largely to a walk last night, but even allowing for the times when I didn't have my phone on me (plugged in charging, or left in a room to avoid distraction), plus any miscalculation due to movement ( I just shook it and it didn't count any steps, so I'm thinking it's pretty accurate?), I still smashed it. 

The second high five comes on the tail of this walk I took last night. I decided on a route, and set off. I use Map My Fitness, which has this voice that talks to me after every kilometer, telling me how long I've been walking, and my pace, as well as my split pace. This app, plus the Pacer app, tie into the one I use for my nutrition, called My Fitness Pal

I'm not getting any freebies from these three apps, I just use them, and I like them. If you're the sort of person who has great success with tracking, and you're into apps, these are good ones.

Back to the high-five though, I walked four kilometers last night, and my pace was remarkably faster than it has been. Not running, but it's definitely a quicker walk than I've been doing. 

The third high five is that for the first time, despite walking faster, my legs never started burning or itching. It has happened every single time, and I've Googled it, because I thought maybe I was just allergic to exercise and it was hives or something. But no, apparently, it happens when the blood starts flowing to capillaries which have collapsed from not being used. It causes an itching/burning sensation. So the lack of this means that my capillaries aren't freaking out about the increased workload. Which means that I've bumped my activity level from sedentary to lightly active. Or maybe even somewhere between lightly and moderately active. 

And a bonus high-five? The clothes which I bought on December 26th, just two weeks ago, are now too big. It's only going to get worse (better?) with time, so I'm hesitant to buy new clothes until I've reached the maintenance stage. But in the meantime, YEEHAW!!!

XO, Sarah

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why Being So Open Works For Me

I keep a food diary, as accurately as possible. I make it open to anyone. I am open about my efforts on Facebook, here in this space, and in person. I don't necessarily make a big deal about it, but I'm open to sharing it with the world. 

Why would I reveal how much I weigh, or divulge my waist measurement, you ask? Why do I think anyone would even care - it's not like I'm a celebrity or anything. I mean, I'm a big deal, in my own world - but who on earth would care what a stay-at-home wife and mother of four eats for lunch, or what exercise she does? I'm no different to anyone else trying to get healthy and lose weight.

And that, my dear friends, is precisely why I share. Because I want everyone else out there who is walking this road to know that they are not alone. It's not paved with yellow bricks, that there are no unicorns, and it is HARD; it is also worth travelling. I want the world to know that the remarkable isn't always found on a reality tv-show, or in news headlines. We are all remarkable, if we just choose to see it. I guess that's what I want this space to be about. Learning to see the remarkable in my own journey, and in the process, maybe helping someone else to see their very own remarkableness.

The reason this works for me, is because I now know I'm not alone, and if I didn't share my story with anyone, I would feel alone, and afraid, and helpless - hopeless. By bringing my struggle to the light, I have encountered others who say, "What - you too?" And we are no longer alone. 

XO, Sarah

Monday, January 5, 2015

Life Isn't Fair

Nowhere is it written "You shall have all you desire." Nowhere.

I had An Afternoon yesterday, and it was ugly. I was flooded with emotion, and I really wanted to eat them away. The compulsion was so strong. I had no junk food here, and that's good because I would have inhaled it. When we met my husband at the beach after work, I was so frazzled - he suggested that I go out for a walk when we got home, and he would sort the children out for bathtime/bedtime. 

I needed to walk, but I also needed to go to the shop. A dangerous place to be when you have a history of binge eating. 

But an interesting thing happened. I was at the shop, fully intending to buy some potato chips, a Coca-Cola - and then I bumped into a man at the self-serve nuts and dried fruit.
He was looking for macadamias, he said - and then he threw out almost as an afterthought "because I'm trying to give up Coke and cigarettes."

I replied that I was trying to give up Coke too, and we wished each other well. 

After that, I wandered the shop for another thirty minutes, pondering different food choices, and having a weird conversation with myself about how this odyssey, this journey toward a healthier me - it's hard, but I can't give up. I have to keep trying. For me, primarily, but also for my family, and my friends who have been inspired by my efforts. 

So I came home with vegetables, tofu, falafel, feta, milk, nuts, trail mix and coffee. 

No chips. 
No Coke. 

And here's the incredible thing: I still wanted them, but I realised that it's okay to want something. Where I've always lost the plot is at self-control. I can want something, and it is TOTALLY POSSIBLE to not have it. Is it hard? Yes. Does it make me want to whine uncontrollably? Yup. But I am not controlled by my desires. Not anymore. 

In strengthening my body, I am apparently also learning to let God strengthen my mind. Who knew?

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Insights for a Sunday Afternoon

Today has NOT gone according to any plan I had in place. While brushing one of my children's hair, I discovered a lot of nits. Go ahead, shudder in revulsion - I won't judge. 

We didn't make it to church. Or the shops after church, to replenish my salad supplies, or get the ingredients for the healthy dinner. I have been consumed with de-lousing activity. Two children down, and one to go. Plus myself, because even though it might be in my head (pun not intended), I feel things crawling on my scalp. 

Lice aside, I realised something quite important. I tend to eat my emotions. Or at least I used to, and I'm trying to stop doing that. Which is very difficult, when you're constantly bombarded by plans gone south, angry/tired/hungry children, both of which bring on so many EMOTIONS!!!!

I just had a moment with one of my children, and all I want to do right now is to go to the shop, buy the biggest bag of potato chips I can find, a massive bottle of Coca-Cola, and just eat until the pounding brain goes away because I can't figure out what else to do. I'm not sure if it's the running away, or the eating which my brain thinks will do the trick.

The other insight is that thinking about food all the time, even for someone who loves food, is exhausting. I am alimentarily burned out. Which would typically be the point at which I give up because I can't think about anything else in this overcrowded brain of mine. Becoming aware of this is kind of helpful, because it means that I can try to push through the stubborn "Oh for the LOVE I don't want to make DECISIONS about food anymore" which leads to eating food that isn't entirely helpful if you're trying to lose weight. 

Basically, this:

I had a good week.

This was just a rough morning, followed by a 'moment'.

This week will still be good.

I will not give up on trying to eat a balanced diet.

I have not failed because life handed me head lice and my day has gone wonky.

In fact, by recognising that I want to eat myself stupid in response to stress, and choosing to not do that, I have succeeded. 

XO, Sarah

Friday, January 2, 2015

"Let Me 'Splain"

"No. There is too much. Let me sum up."

The week has been a good one. It started on the 28th, with a decision. A decision to let go of the life I'd been living, and to build a new one - starting with a massive (albeit slow) renovation of my physical health. 

I've tried new recipes, I've exercised, trying new equipment, and I've seen the scale begin a downward trek. Kind of like climbing a mountain, but backwards. The effort is all going downhill! I'm being rather public and open about it all because I think it's what I need. 

So overall, a great week. A few wobbles perhaps, but in the bigger picture, they are insignificant because I haven't been derailed by them. 

Much progress has been made in the "I hate my body" war. I no longer hate it. I don't quite love it either, but a steadily growing appreciation for it is probably accurate. 

Something interesting to note is that for someone on a 'diet', I seem to be thinking about food constantly. It's a bit draining. Like just now, when I was trying to find an easy alternative to the pizza my family are asking for, because I feel like I'm going so well, I don't want to lose momentum and will pizza push me back into 'eat for comfort' mode?

Answer by the way, is emphatically NO. One slice of pizza, eaten with a large salad and a glass of water, will not ruin my whole week. Why? Because I won't allow it to. I don't want to ban any food (except perhaps Coke; that's quite possibly a permanent thing) - because I love all kinds of food. I need to learn how to eat food and truly enjoy it, in MODERATION.

So I'm going to eat that one slice of pizza, and I will eat it slowly, savoring every cheesy bite. 

I am feeling very tired, as I slowly adapt to this new 'normal'. Come 9:30, I am done.

Something else that I've noticed is that I am more confident with putting my needs first, instead of allowing everything/everyone else push me to the bottom of the list. Which means that exercise is actually happening, because I'm making it happen. The kids aren't yet completely on board, but I'm happy they are finally seeing their mother care for her physical needs. 

XO, Sarah

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Why Not Friday?

People always start new things on a Monday - or yesterday, January 1st. It's opening a new book, with crisp clean pages, and writing a new story. It feels natural to do this at a calendar-related beginning point. I've never been one to do things the 'ordinary' way - so I started this endeavour (in earnest) on December 28th. A belated Christmas gift to my family, so to speak. One that I dare say they will grow to appreciate the most of all. 

Today's weight: 85.2 

I'm going to treadmill today, as well as do a Pilates-ish workout utilising a gym ball, and some tiny handweights. 

I don't really have any reflections today. My mind isn't muddled today, with a million things I need to do, or be. I have a clear vision of what needs doing, and how to accomplish it. I feel no pressure about the 'when' of it all. It will happen slowly, until one day - there I am! The word 'journey' is wildly overused, I'll call it an odyssey. An adventure. "Come with me on an adventure" sounds so much better than "Come lose weight with me", don't you think?

XO, Sarah