Tag Archives: Learning

Brighter Lines on the Horizon

In the past 3 years, I can’t say there has been a time when running wasn’t the focus of my health journey. I’ve lived it and breathed it and been consumed by it. And when I wasn’t consumed by it, I felt guilty for not being consumed by it.

The past couple weeks, though, it is not my focus. And I don’t feel guilty. (Okay, I guess I might have an iota or two of guilt, but I feel guilt and anxiety over 90% of things in my life.)

A few months ago, I read the book Bright Line Eating by Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. And it made so much sense to me. I looked up studies she had referenced. I read and re-read passages. I nodded and yearned for the freedom from food that she presented.

“Bright Line Eating is grounded in cutting edge psychology and neuroscience, and its tenets fly in the face of almost every commonly accepted weight loss strategy. It gives you a plan to follow that is effective and proven to work. It’s not a quick fix or a gimmick. There are no pills and no powders. We are precise with our eating, but we don’t restrict portions to tiny amounts and we eat a lot of whole, real food.

The core principles of BLE are Bright Lines—clear, unambiguous boundaries we don’t cross just like a non-smoker doesn’t smoke, no matter what. The four Bright Lines are: Sugar, Flour, Meals, and Quantities.” –Susan Peirce Thompson

More specifically, here are the bright lines:

  1. No added sugars
  2. No flours
  3. Eat 3 meals per day. No snacks.
  4. Fixed quantities: measure out each bit of food that goes in your mouth.

And after I read all this stuff that totally made sense to me, what did I do? I put it all away, because how could I ever follow that life? It seemed too extreme, too overwhelming, too much.

A few weeks ago, the book popped into my radar again. It came up on Audible as a heavily discounted Black Friday special. So I bought it. And I started listening. Again, I thought, “Too extreme!” But a passage resonated with me in a way it hadn’t before.

Either way, you’re probably asking me right now, “Isn’t that extreme?”
To which I reply, “I’ll tell you what’s extreme.” Each year in the United States alone, over 70,000 people have to get a limb amputated because of their Type 2 diabetes. Seventy thousand people. Their doctors have warned them it’s coming, but it doesn’t matter. They can’t stop. They eat until they lose a limb. That is extreme. That is how powerful this addiction is. Giving up processed drug-foods isn’t extreme. What’s extreme is the way our society eats – and the consequences we’ve decided we’re willing to tolerate as a result.

And of course the answer is to quit. When someone is losing critical lung function because they smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, we don’t tell them to moderate their smoking. We tell them to quit.
“But how?” you’re asking. “Cigarettes are easy to avoid. Food is everywhere! And I have to eat to survive and there are special things I love to eat that have sugar and flour in them and I don’t know if I could give them up forever and you’ve just pointed out how hard it is to stick with anything…”
I hear you. And it’s okay to feel panicked – that’s actually coming from the dopamine receptors in your nucleus accumbens. They are about to get their supply cut off and they don’t like it. Not one little bit.
Which is why I’m happy to tell you that this program is stronger than they are. Your brain will heal, and there’s a very, very bright future ahead of you. Relax. It won’t be nearly as bad as you think.

And I felt it pulling me again. But I also fell the pull of a bunch of destructive thoughts.

It’s too close to Christmas. How can you do this around the holidays? You might as well wait until after cookie baking, after Christmas parties, after Christmas day, after New Year’s, after, after, after…

And then I realized I was sabotaging my own motivation to feel healthier and better. It’s no secret that I’ve yearned to lose weight most of my adult life and much of my adolescent life as well. I’m not going to hide that. It used to be for purely vain reasons. It’s not like that now, though. Now, I have a million other reasons. I want to feel better. I want my waist-line to stop expanding, even when I’m eating well and exercising. I want to know what else I can do with my life when I’m feeling like a better physical version of myself. I want to be the best possible “me” I can for the people in my life.

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One of my reasons.

And yeah, that’s going to be hard. But maybe there is a way to get there. From the BLE support groups I’ve joined, I’ve heard from dozens of people who have been doing this for a long time, and the results are phenomenal. It works. It isn’t easy, but like Susan said above, it wasn’t nearly as bad as they thought.

So, the tl;dr version of it all is this: I’m making my food choices a priority right now. I had a fabulous first week where I didn’t blur a single darn line for 6/7 days. One of those days was our annual cookie baking day. I kept my lines for the morning and most of the afternoon, and then I made a conscious decision to let them go. (This is totally not recommended on BLE, but I decided that it was necessary to make it work for me.) The next day, I could feel cookies and sugar and flour and other things pulling me in, but I rejected them. I felt like junk, and so my body kept asking for more junk. But I said no. Those foods are not for me, and I kept my lines bright for the whole day.

Guess what? It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. It took effort and it took planning, but it took a lot less willpower than I expected. And by Friday, I actually felt pretty great.

So I’m getting things under control. And once I feel a little steadier on my feet, you can bet those feet will be running again. I bet you anything, they’ll be moving a little faster, because they’ll be running on clean fuel that is meant to energize my body and keep me going for the long haul.

Have you read Bright Line Eating or heard of this lifestyle before? What changes are you trying to make for your own health? Would love to hear from you in the comments!

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P.S. Whenever I get a little too “deep and thoughtful” in a post, I feel the need to make it a little lighter. Has anyone’s elf shown up at their house yet? Beatrice was there this morning to ask LJ, “Do you wanna build a snowman?”

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Another month gone by…

A month has gone by since I wrote last. I don’t know that I have regrets about not writing. Disappointments, sure. But I didn’t really feel like I could get the words out on “paper” that I needed. I promised a recap of the Twin Cities 10 Mile at one point, but I don’t think I have anything to say on that race yet. It was one of those “why am I doing this?” kind of races where I was so super down on myself that I called my parents sobbing afterward. I’ve done a lot of reflecting and not enough running since then. I know it isn’t good, because I am still registered for Disney in January. I’m trying to meet myself where I am, but it sure feels crummy.

However, I AM incredibly proud of my husband who completed his very first marathon. He is a badass, and seeing him cross that finish line was monumental.

The other highlight of my weekend was hearing my favorites speak at the Health & Fitness Expo. Sarah and Dimity are a constant source of reassurance for me. On the frequent days when I am plagued with doubt and bad thoughts, they make me feel like I can do hard things. They are such an inspiration, and it is so refreshing to hear from them…in person!

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October held SO much chaos in our world. And in the midst of it all, our kiddo turned 4. I know most parents say this, but I cannot believe how fast she has grown. I cannot believe the incredibly insightful and funny and intelligent words that come out of her mouth. I cannot believe the level of compassion and understanding she has for the world. I cannot believe how fiery and determined and stubborn she is. She lives her life out loud, and I’m so blessed to see that.

Otherwise, we have just been up to the typical things. Pumpkins and Halloween movies and cider.

We’ve also been preparing for winter, which seems to have arrived this morning in full force. Snow, sleet, and gray. I didn’t make it out for my run this morning. Because that was a hard pill to swallow right away in the morning. I need to dig out my winter gear again. Before Halloween even hits. Oy.

The good people at Minneapolis Running generously published another piece of my writing today. I write about what it means to me to be a self-proclaimed “back-of-the-packer”: the doubts and fears and how those doubts and fears need to be kicked to the curb. I’m a work in progress, and I think this article shows it. But I think there are probably other runners who are works in progress, too. So maybe it’ll resonate with one of those people who has the same doubts and fears. Knowing you’re not alone is a huge, huge thing.

And we aren’t.

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P.S. I’ve been catching back up on reading lately. So I am planning on doing more regular book-ish posts. Stay tuned. (And thank you for sticking with me, because I know it’s sometimes a damn long time to stay tuned.)

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Clarity Lost and Sorta Found

This post is a raw and humbling one that I’ve tried to write with honesty. I don’t write it for pity. I write it as both an explanation and for other people who may be experiencing similar struggles. Forgive me, though, if it is muddled; it was difficult to accurately convey some really big feelings through a keyboard.


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I’ve been in hiding as far as this blog goes. I can’t tell you why I continue to get these big ideas that I can train and run and blog and be a “with it” kind of human being. Clearly, that’s just not in the cards for me right now. It gets to a point where I don’t even know what to say here. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know if it’s worth it. I don’t know if I’m making a difference for others or for myself. And if I am making a difference for myself, is it negative?

It’s time to be transparent. I’ve fallen completely off the exercise wagon since mid-summer. I don’t feel my eating has been that terrible, but my exercise and training have been completely lacking. I am in a cycle of despising myself for not exercising and then not having the energy to get up in the morning because my mind has been filled with so much yuck.

I’ve gained 20 lbs in the last few months. That may sound like a lot to most people, but I’ve  fluctuated dramatically my whole life. I can have a 5 lb difference from one day to the next. So I hope this weight will come off as quickly as it came on.

I hate seeing pictures of myself or looking in the mirror. I know it is an image of my own doing, and again, it catches me up in that cycle of being mad at myself and feeling defeated.

I want to be transparent. I’ve been building myself back to a place where I’m documenting my nutrition and my training. I’m cleaning up, both literally and metaphorically…deep-cleaning my house (something else that I fall behind on when I’m in a funk) and sweeping the cobwebs from the nooks and crannies in my brain.

My goal is to have a completely documented log of what I ate and what I did and how I feel. I won’t bombard you with it every day, but I may do a weekly wrap-up to show my (hopefully) progress.

I’m so tired of feeling bad. I gave up on trying to feel good, but I think it’s just going to take a lot more pushing than I was able to give previously. Now, though? I’m feeling like I’m at that proverbial fork in the road. I want to head down a path to all-around health before it’s too late.

I will be transparent. And I hope you can be understanding and patient. I still expect to hit those big and little bumps in the road; I have to learn to be understanding and patient with myself, too.

If anyone else has found themselves in a place like I am, please feel free to get in touch. I think the best thing is knowing that we are not alone in our struggles, whether they be mental or physical, weight-related or otherwise. You are worth fighting for, through all the shit and “yuck” the world throws your way. And I’m going to try to believe I am, too.

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Mama Monday: Why You NEED to Go to the Minnesota Children’s Museum

So I promised I’d be back, didn’t I? And look! Here I am. I’m coming off a 1-week trip that took us from southern MN to Duluth, then up to International Falls and on a houseboat for 4 days, then to the Mille Lacs area, then back home, then to the camper, then to St. Paul. And finally back HOME. If you’re not local, I can tell you that the three of us did about…16 hours of driving? I can’t even keep track.

It was a jam-packed trip that left me needing another vacation, even though I slept quite a bit! But we made fantastic memories, and I’m so grateful my in-laws gave us this gift of time together in a beautiful part of the world.

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I’ve had some time now to do some planning and re-organizing of many aspects of my life and training and blog and just general well-being. So with that, today begins the first “Mama Monday” post. In these posts, I’ll try to share general insights on parenting life from my own perspective. They may be tips. They may be places to go or things to do or things I’ve purchased that I fully believe are worth the buy. It could just be a general rave/rant about something I’m dealing with as a mom. It could be running/fitness-related, but a lot of it probably won’t be.

Today is a special one to kick it off, though. Over the weekend, we visited the Minnesota Children’s Museum, which recently underwent a HUGE renovation. I didn’t recognize nearly anything from our prior visit there!

The museum “is dedicated to providing children with a fun, hands-on and stimulating environment to explore and discover. The Museum helps to instill a lifelong love of learning by nurturing the real-world skills children need to become engaged citizens in the future.” And goodness, do they do it well. LJ has a fast-growing brain, as do most kiddos, and sometimes it’s hard to find things to stimulate her imagination and learning. I’m so glad we have MCM within an hour of our house. It’s not far away, and it makes it easy to jet up there and PLAY!

When we arrived today, we hit right at lunchtime. So our first stop after the box office was for a little nosh. They had great options, especially for those crunchy plant eaters like us. We are lacto-ovo vegetarian, and we found a great selection.

I chose the vegan boost salad, because I’ve been feeling bogged down with all the “junk” I’ve been eating. It was a good amount to get a taste of all the tasty veggies and add-ins, but it wasn’t too much. LJ chose the kitty-cat pizza, hubby had the mac & cheese, and we split a donut between the 3 of us for dessert. (I guess that’s my idea of healthy eating? I mean, who can turn down a donut?)

After lunch, we made our plan of attack. We’d start on the top floor and work our way down to the other two. The first zone we went in was the “Our World” exhibit sponsored by Best Buy. It is a play area that looks like a little city, complete with a pretend post office, fire station, food stands, and hardware store. LJ walked in and yelled, “Look! It’s just like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood!”

She had a blast putting on a fire fighter jacket and going in the “truck,” playing a postal worker by moving boxes along a conveyor belt and then dropping them down the mail chute to the first floor, and creating her own digital road signs in the hardware store. I know we could have spent so much more time in that space, but we knew we had a lot of ground to cover!

We visited Tip Top Terrace next. It is a rooftop eco-area with so many fun things to do and see. You can make music, do your own bird calling, “paint” with water (a surprisingly HUGE hit with LJ), and visit their see/smell/touch garden. LJ loved feeling the plant called “Lamb’s Ears” and smelling the basil.

Again, we could have spent much more time there, but time was a wastin’.

The current traveling exhibit at MCM is Ball-o-Rama. It reminded me that so many scientific concepts and forces are things we take for granted. Gravity. Acceleration. Momentum. We, as adults, don’t remember learning about these things, and it’s fun to watch the wheels turn in my own child’s head as she realizes new concepts about our world.

The hands-on interaction in this one was very fun! Who knew you could learn so much with a few simple golf balls? She may not remember the big words like acceleration or friction, but she’ll sure remember standing at the top of the staircase and sending golf balls down the roller coaster. She’ll remember bouncing a big rubber ball off an orange “bounce pad.” (Orange is her favorite color after all.) It’s setting the stage for a solid education. And did I mention: fun?

There is a studio area for creating and experimenting with materials. We didn’t make it to those this time, but I fully intend on hitting those up next visit.

Our next stop was Imaginopolis! It contained so many different “fantastical” objects that would allow LJ to be the star in her own story. I think it was a little overwhelming for her, because it was so open-ended. Everything was up to her to make up or create, which is wonderful, but we all needed a little “pushing along.”

Luckily, the MCM staff is wonderful and we constantly saw them interacting with kids and adults throughout all the exhibits. A staffer came in, sat right down, and helped LJ to create her own story using the objects. It was helpful for me to learn how to let her take the reigns for imagination! She can create way better stories than I can, and she doesn’t usually need my guidance once she gets started!

Next was Creativity Jam! Our stop there was pretty brief, but they had many found materials and other items to…well…create! After years of me telling LJ she can’t put stickers on the walls and floor and household objects, that’s exactly what she got to do in one area. They have a free-standing structure kids can decorate with stickers. There’s a piano in there that’s COVERED. I think I probably had more fun than she did in this area.

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Don’t think MCM has forgotten their littlest friends! They still have a play area for kids 3 and under called “Sprouts.” We went in there for a few minutes to enjoy the squishy floors and climbing structure, but we quickly decided 3 1/2 might be a little old for this section. Our kiddo is so go-go-go, and she’s tall for her age. We mostly worried about her knocking over other littles. Still a great area!

We headed to the slightly larger (try 4 stories) play structure called “The Scramble.” Make sure you bring your socks when you come! No bare feet or shoes in this wild climbing adventure. It has two climbing towers, a spiral slide, a climbing rope, and a netted catwalk at the top. It freaked this height-phobic mama out big time, but my small fry is fearless. She quickly figured out how to scale the climbing towers with Dad, and she couldn’t stop going down the slide. She scares me, but she had so much fun!

The first time she went up one of the climbing towers, she told her dad (who was standing on the stairway outside the tower), “I can’t do this!” He talked her through it, and she made it part-way up. There are small exit holes for children at various points, which is nice if it gets to be too much for them.

The second time she scaled the tower, she again began to waver a bit. After a beat, she reassured herself, “I CAN do this” and proceeded to make it all the way up the whole thing! It instilled confidence in her and made her believe in herself.

Me? I was just dandy staying at the bottom.

After we practically pulled her off of The Scramble, we brought her over to the Super Awesome Adventures area. There was a lot to do here, and there were a lot of people, so we didn’t spend a super long time. She did have fun playing around with the green screen (which also has a climbing wall!), balancing on a beam and some balance boards, and sliding down a carpeted “skate park.”

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We spent some time in the 3M Forces at Play gallery, and again: so much to do! Between bubbles, launching ping pong balls with air streams, and washing a silly car, I can’t believe we got out of there. LJ was fascinated with the fact that she could scrub the car doors with soap and use a hose to wash it…inside! There was also an interactive water wall, which she’s only ever seen in a Daniel Tiger app she plays. She liked having a real-life one at her whim!

It didn’t seem like many people knew about “The Backyard” that you find by going through a door in the Forces at Play area, but it was way cute! Big tires and tubes to play in, a gathering area under a big umbrella (yeah, I took advantage of that), a human-sized birds nest, flower boxes, and earth-related activity stations. LJ currently is curating a collection of rocks; we don’t know why. What I do know is that she had fun looking at all different types of rocks under a magnifying glass. We talked about how they were alike and different, what they felt like, and what they looked like.

After that, we decided it was time to head home. Learning is exhausting. And that leads me to probably the best parental benefit of MCM: (Besides the fact that it’s FUN, hands-on, play-learning for your kid, of course.)

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Nap time was within a few minutes of leaving the parking structure. Thumbs up!

So this may seem like a giant photo op post for my kid, but I promise that’s not my intention. What I want you to look at is this: in nearly every single picture, she is smiling. She is engaged. She is interacting with things she’s never seen or touched or used before. She is learning and growing and making big memories.

She is playing.

So if you are able to make it to the Twin Cities area, I highly recommend visiting the Minnesota Children’s Museum. They also have a Rochester, MN location that I’m sure we’ll be taking advantage of soon. Both are worth the effort to get there, and I’m so glad we have this opportunity so close!

Did you hang with me ’til the end, chickadees? If so, bravo! That was a big post. But I hope you enjoyed it and remember how important playing is for kids. Playing is learning. So go out now, and find a new way to play and have fun!

Until next time!

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***Disclosure: Hubby is part of the “play advocate” program for MCM. As such, we received a membership in exchange for him meeting certain social media posting/promotion requirements. Me? I’m not an official program member, but I sure do love the place! This post would be coming to you even if we weren’t part of this program.
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