Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sometimes We Need a Little Magic

I have no self control. Honestly. Maybe I have a little self-control. Nope. No self control. It is official. If I happen to go into a store to look for one item, I am immediately distracted by the clothes (movie, games, book, food, kitchen) section. It's always the worst at Target. They have that "oh so tempting" adorable bathing suit section right near the entrance to the store. I'm convinced the bathing suits are there to suck you in. They take a girl who is on a perfectly well planned out mission to purchase a bottle of shampoo and have her walking out the store with a new bathing suit, yoga capris, and a cute new sports tank instead. Pure evil or pure genius? I'll go with a combination of both.

Even though Target is the store where I usually lose all sense of reality and financial budgeting, it was Wal-Mart that got the best of me today. I went in with the intentions of looking at a running/fitness watch I plan on purchasing and walked out with two new Disney shirts, two pairs of work-out shorts, and three new workout tanks. Luckily Wal-Mart pricing doesn't break the bank, but I usually try to avoid an impulse buy whenever possible. This time, though, it was very well worth it. Since my Disney annual pass expired four days ago, I've been slightly mourning my loss of limitless trips to the sweet, sweet, world of big dreams, smiling faces, and endless magic. In a way, I've found a way to compensate for that "loss" with everything Disney (movies, music, phone ringtone...) like these amazing new t-shirts I found at Wal-Mart. This way I can have a little bit of Disney magic with me no matter what the future brings.

My favorite thing about Disney World is getting to go there with my sister. Every time I wanted to go to Disney, I knew (know) that I will always have someone to go with who delights in Disney for everything it is. I enjoy the rides and after having an annual pass and making 20+ trips to Disney World in the past year I could tell you my "must go on" rides, my favorite place to eat, the best way to plan out your fastpass +, the "secret" entrance into Animal Kingdom, and the shows you must, must, must see if you are going for the day. What was the best thing to do there though? The answer to that is something I never thought it would be.

The best memories I have at Disney are going to the Hollywood Studios drawing class in the art of animation because I know that my Disney loving, "game art and animation major" sister truly delights in these classes. Seeing someone else's joy and sharing in that is the most magical experience. I love my family and I am beyond blessed that God gave me the parents I have and the sister I have as well as all my wonderful grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. Family is the best and I can't wait for more family and more memories in two months!

As I look back at the past year, a lot has changed. A year ago I had recently accepted my first professional job outside of college and in every way I had the maturity level of a recent college graduate. The past year has taken me on a tremendous and continuous journey. I have and continue to re-explore and re-commit to my faith. I have learned that I can no longer eat fast food, boxed meals, sugar or grains if I care about my health and the health of my future family. I have gained confidence with every decision I have to make at work in my competence and my abilities. I have made mistakes and learned from them. I have gotten engaged to the best man I know and I strive to love him better every day... Some days I succeed at all of the above, but more often then not there is still some ways that I fail. I may occasionally (or daily...) eat that piece of chocolate calling my name. I may lose my confidence in a tense situation. I may disagree with the people I love and unintentionally cause pain. I mess up, but I learn and I try again.

The best thing about the past year is everything I have learned and everything I have gained (and continue to learn and to gain). The crazy thing about life is that it is constantly changing. I change daily, and the people I love are always changing around me but it doesn't mean that I will love them any less. In fact, I will love them more. I will delight in their joys and mourn with them when they are sad. I will cause them pain and I will work to amend my wrongs against them. I will look to them for advice, guidance, and understanding. 

I'm getting married in a little over two months now, and I know that marriage is going to be a huge life change. I will probably learn something about another human that I never thought I would know and they will learn the same about me. I will learn every day how love and forgiveness is more powerful and healing than any other tribute or devotion of love. I know what a great man God gave me for forever, and I only hope that I can daily show my future husband all the love, respect, and kindness that he deserves. With God's grace it will be possible. Life is a constant journey. It is one hundred (plus or minus) years that we were blessed with for a purpose. I'm still searching for mine, but as I search, I will remember that real magic isn't found in a trip to Disney World. Real magic is experienced by sharing in the joy and delight of others out of love. It's knowing that a genuine smile is magical and time with the people you love is truly one of the happiest places on earth. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Round 2

It is a very sad realization when you start eating clean for 30 days (e.g. the whole30/paleo/primal) and then when you start eating processed foods again (specifically grains and sugars), your body revolts. It seems almost tragic knowing that even though your brain still thinks your favorite "food group" is a delectable piece of smooth, creamy milk chocolate perfected by a sugar-type peanut butter filling your body knows that is no longer the case. Stomach aches. Poor(er).. ["worse" would be the grammatically correct way to say this] athletic performance. Anxiety. Acne. Poor sleep. Less energy. Etc. It amazes me how the food choices we make dramatically effect so many different areas of our well-being and health... both physical and mental!

As I sit here and mourn over a imminent loss of grains and sugar in my life (due to a [stupid?/crazy?/difficult?/inconvenient!] decision to start up round 2 of Whole30 the best I can do to overcome the "loss" is to reflect on all the positive changes that were occurring during Whole30 round 1.

I should start by saying that I started and quit and started Whole30 3 times before I got through my whole 30 days. To say that I wasn't 100% committed on the third attempt would be an understatement. After about 3 days in, I started the countdown to when I would get to eat that delicious vice of mine (that smooth, creamy peanut butter filled chocolate I referred to above...) and by doing so I potentially missed even greater changes that could have occurred.

The biggest change I didn't see was my relationship with food. I am a stress eater. If I'm sad. I eat (chocolate). If I'm stressed. I eat (chocolate). If I'm mad. I eat (chocolate). If I'm happy. I eat (chocolate). If I just feel like eating. I eat (chocolate). It is a bad relationship and that's all I was waiting to go back to. Little did I know that as my body was cleaning out all the junky, processed foods of the last 23 years, there was no way it would be able to handle the sugar addiction the way it had prior to my clean eating endeavor.

Even though I didn't gain that new relationship with food (the healthy one) during round 1, I did gain a lot. I had increased amounts of energy and I had given up coffee... something that I depended on to sustain me through a work day since I began my adult career last August. Energy without caffeine. Truly amazing. I had better athletic performance. After my marathon in January, I have been super lax on working out/exercising and I could go out and run 3 or 4 miles and feel great. In all honestly, clean eating made my work-outs feel good. My body was sustained by the nutrients it needed and my body worked so much more effectively and efficiently. My skin had started to clear up. My stomach had started to shrink. I NEVER got a stomach ache or felt sick after eating during the whole30. My digestion was starting to work properly. My whole body was changing. My mood was changing. I was changing, and all I could focus on was the piece of chocolate I was going to get to eat in 28 days... 27 days... 26 days... and so on.

So now it is time for round 2. Three weeks post Whole30 and eating clean half the time while defaulting back to the known world of grains and sugars the other half, my body has had enough. The only way I am going to be healthy physically and mentally is if I give my body what it needs to function and to thrive. So I will say good-bye to sugar and grains as I make my way into my new clean eating, crazy, unconventional "meat (protein), veggies, nuts and seeds, fruit, and healthy fats 'diet'". I will strive to be strong and healthy rather than weak and malnourished. I will work to change my relationship with food as something to sustain me rather than as a crutch in a stressful, happy, sad, "feelings" situation. I will eat what sustains me and find better outlets for my "feelings" situations.

I started Crossfit three weeks ago and it is tough. I'm using muscles I have never or rarely used before. I'm lifting weights over my head, doing what seems like endless burpees, squats, and wall-balls, and slowly getting stronger. I have a long way to go before I am physically as strong as I would like to be and I need to fuel my body correctly in order to get there. My goal is to be strong, fit, and healthy. My goal doesn't need to be attached to a number on the scale or the number of kcals on a food label. My health is and needs to be measured by how I feel. The best I have ever felt strictly in regards to health and nutrition is when I eat clean. So good-bye bagels and pizza and Reese's peanut butter cups because my body is not a fan. My brain may be, but that will change (not overnight but overtime) just like my body will slowly get stronger every time I do another push-up. When I started Crossfit three weeks ago, I was doing ring rows. Now I can do banded pull-ups. My first wall balls felt like I was being slammed by a brick wall. The first 10 wall balls I did today felt almost flawless. It's slow progress but slow progress is greater than no progress.

Anything worth doing is going to take time and effort and commitment (I had a discussion with my very intelligent fiance who reminded me of this fact). Do I want to feel good all the time? Do I want to be healthy and strong? Or do I want to countdown until I can eat that piece of chocolate?

If processed foods versus real foods make such a huge impact then the choice is simple. I know there is science out there to support it and I know I don't know it all, but I do know how I feel. I have a career as a mechanical engineer and as an engineer I have to experiment and consider real life applications. I can't depend on the numbers or the theories 100% because real life applications always have a way of throwing a curveball. If I consider my first Whole30 an experiment then I have real life proof of how food effects my health. I have the evidence, the data, and "numbers" as a support. Theories are important, but applied experimentation with data is a much stronger basis. At work, I can say that a component will pass vibration testing because it is designed to do so, but it doesn't account for all the applications of that component in the design. The only way I can guarantee 100% that it will work in its designed application is if it undergoes vibration testing. I can say that Whole30 and Paleo are a great diet because of scientific evidence, but I won't say that. I will say that Paleo/clean eating/Whole30 is great for me because I have proof.

Find what works for you. Find what fuels you. Find what makes you happy, healthy, and strong.
I'm committing to another 30 days of clean, Whole30 eating because like and unlike the little engine that could I not only "think I can", I know I can and that I will be changed for the better because of it.