Month 1 Progress Report

progress report
I’m one month into this project and it’s time for a little self-evaluation. A progress report of sorts. First, let’s take a look at what I’ve completed that was on my list.

Start a blog. Because writing gives me perspective.

Boom. Done.

Run a 10K.

Check.

Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family.

Lemon meringue pie, laughter, and tears. Check.

Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem. 

If you read my post last week, you know that I had to move this one up the list. It turns out a lot of you guys also struggle with phone distraction and it was encouraging to feel the “we can do this together!” vibe in the comments. I’ve made some strides this week, but I haven’t been perfect. I’ve successfully cut the phone out of my bed time and morning routine and it has made a world of difference! I am getting a lot done in the morning and I’m sleeping better. I’ve also done a mostly good job of keeping my phone in the kitchen, especially when my dudes are home. The exception to this was Sunday. The boys were gone at the park and I was lazy and tired and I spent A LOT of time mindlessly trolling the interweb. But I am typically lazy on Sundays so I didn’t feel bad. But then the boys got home and we were watching football and I didn’t put my phone in the kitchen and I could not stop picking it up. I finally realized what I was doing and put it away. It’s a process…I’m getting there.

Now let’s talk about what else is happening. 

I was looking at my list yesterday and realized that even though I’m working on the fifth item on my list of 40…I’ve actually begun work on so many more. I’m a big believer in putting out there what you want because it makes it real and it attracts attention and it gets your attention and then it becomes an actual thing. It’s like the simple act of writing it down and sharing it has brought it to the front of my mind. I’m more aware of these things and why they’re important to me so I’m more likely to take action. I’m seeing spaces where I can find time for things that are important to me and I’m seeing pathways that either weren’t there before or, more likely, I never noticed.

You can see from my list that there are a lot of things I want to do and change. Here’s what else I’m starting to work on from the list.

Read a book already. How much Netflix can one person watch?

I’m reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown this week. I literally had to put it on my calendar chapter by chapter because if it’s not on a list and scheduled, it does not exist to me. It’s the perfect homework for me for this project. In the introduction, there is a paragraph that talks about the practice of framing parents as good mothers and fathers and as bad ones. Brown says that the real question should be “Are you engaged? Are you paying attention” and this is what I needed to hear. Which brings me to…

Be present and engaged with Little C. I’m going to need some rules for this one.

I think reducing my phone distraction by default makes me more present and engaged with Little C. But I know I want to move this up the priority list as well. I feel like I spend so much time trying to distract him while I try to get things done and then there is the guilt about not spending quality time with him along with the frustration of not getting things done and feeling overwhelmed by life. The times that I’ve been able to stop and say to myself “Give him your attention now. This is more important than your to do list.” have been rewarding in so many ways. I get to enjoy time with the sweetest 3-year-old boy on the planet. He feels loved and valued. We both have a lot of fun. As a result, I don’t feel guilty doing chores and saying no to playing Legos and he is content to play without me for a while. But I’m not gonna lie…being present and self-aware is not my default state. My default state is looking at memes on Facebook and not thinking about anything. There is still work to do.

Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.

I’ve been way more conscious of this lately. I have been thinking about listening and really hearing what someone is saying instead of just waiting (or not) for my turn to talk.

Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny.

You may recall from my post a few weeks ago that I’m really trying to focus on health and strength over skinny. I had a good week of working out and mostly eating well and then HALLOWEEN. And then life. I stand by my statement that goals without joy are not good goals, but I may need to redefine my goals. I am a creature of planning and planning requires rules. Rules like “don’t eat all the candy” or “do you really need another bowl of pasta?” or “why did you even make pasta in the first place?”. Wait, I don’t think those are rules so much as me shaming myself. So I’m clearly still driving myself crazy, but I’m not giving up. Or giving in. I am going to be healthy and strong and NOT crazy, DAMN IT! I originally had this on the schedule for week 13 which is in January. Yeah, no. It’s getting moved up to next week because I want to give it some attention. But first, let me eat the rest of those mini Snickers I hid from my kid.

Make plans more often with my girlfriends.

I’ve got happy hour dates, comedy show dates, and even workout dates planned. Yesssss.

Date my husband.

If you follow 40 Reasons on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen my post about being gifted a 4-hour window of childcare recently. Our weekend was crazy busy in a good way with visits from old friends, family pictures, and the usual weekend chore list. We were so close to using our child-free time to do laundry, clean house, etc. We opted for a 2-hour hike followed by cold beer and snacks and it was absolutely the best choice. Being able to talk about things that aren’t “where did you put that?” and “did you do that yet?” was awesome and much needed. And the laundry still got done.

Create a community.

The 40 Reasons community may be in its infancy but I love hearing from you. I love that there are other women and men that want some of the same things I do and are encouraging each other to get after it. I’ve got some things coming up that I want to connect with you guys on and I can’t wait. Stay tuned!

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Week 4 – Change of plans

I’m wrapping up my first month of this 10-month project and I’m already going off script this week. My original plan for week 4 was to put down the remote and read a book already! I even started Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly and was really enjoying it. At least I enjoyed the two chapters that I read before I got distracted.

Distraction is one of my greatest obstacles. It’s also an art form that I have mastered to devastating effect. When faced with the choice between doing something I sort of don’t want to do right now and literally ANYTHING ELSE, I almost always choose anything else.

Should I do laundry or watch Twin Peaks on Netflix? I mean, how have I not seen Twin Peaks? It was THE SHOW of the 90’s…I almost feel like it’s a crime that I haven’t seen it. Twin Peaks it is!

I should take down the Halloween decorations, clean out the guest room because we have company coming, and deal with that weird pile sitting at the foot of my bed? Orrrrrr I could wander mindlessly around Facebook reading articles about things that have no actual bearing on my life!

I literally read an entire article from the Washington Post the other day about a guy who was misdiagnosed with cancer because his doctor thought he had a bad case of jock itch. My brain saw the Facebook post and thought – his doctor thought he had jock itch, but WHAT WAS IT?! What was wrong with him?! Seriously? What am I doing? Jock itch does not affect me. I do not have a jock to itch but I spent 15 minutes engrossed in a story about a strangers crotch.

While I can make jokes about my professional-level procrastination skills, it’s actually a source of anxiety for me. And I know it’s holding me back and keeping from doing and achieving some of the things I want. Which is why I’ve decided to shake up my list this week and fast track an item I’d saved for a later date.

Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem. 

Why it’s on my list

I’ve known for a while that my relationship with my phone isn’t entirely healthy but I find ways to justify having it in my hand at all times. I’m going to be honest. I am totally uncomfortable writing about this because I am embarrassed. I realized this week that my phone isn’t just a distraction, it’s taking me out of the present moment and keeping me disengaged from what’s around me. It took a few separate events for me to see that I’ve become one of those phone zombies. One was my husband calling me out. Ouch. Much needed and appreciated, but ouch. The other was my sweet 3-year old boy saying “Mommy, I don’t want you have your phone. Play Legos with me.” Gut punch. Tears. What am I doing? What I am reading and looking at that is so important that I’m ignoring my family? I’m sure they will be thrilled to know I won’t get caught off guard with jock itch cancer. Ugh.

Again, it’s really hard to write this because in doing so I have to acknowledge that I’m not being the person, mother, and wife I really want to be. I want to be engaged, present, available, and not reading the 47th article this week about Donald Trump’s misogyny. I already know he hates women. Why do I have to keep reading about it? Correction. I already know he hates fat women. And unattractive women. And women who won’t have sex with him. And women who have brains. Wait, I stand by my original statement. See what I did there? I distracted myself from the task of having to face my own shortcomings by making jokes. I am a master.

Now what I need to master is a worthwhile life skill. I need to make some changes. It’s not just about my phone. It’s about being present and engaged in my own life, no matter what I’m doing. I mean, how many times have I been watching TV AND on my phone AT THE SAME TIME. If I’m going to do something mindless, can’t I just go all in on one mindless thing? Do I really need to be half-assing mindless activity?!

What I want from it

What I really want is to get the instant gratification monkey off my back. If you haven’t seen the Ted Talk about said monkey and you have a monkey of your own, you should definitely watch it. I want to break the urge to know what’s going on online at all times. I want to be more present for my family. I want to have conversations with my husband that don’t involve us showing each other stuff from our phones. I honestly believe that breaking my phone habit and limiting the time I spend on it is going to free me in so many ways. More time. More participation. Less spectating. Less mindlessness.

So how am I going to do it? I’m going to make a list of course!

  1. I’m kicking my phone out of the bedroom. I ordered an alarm clock and a night light because I use my phone as both. I also won’t be spending a half hour before I go to sleep scrolling through social media and filling my brain with useless information. The first thing I do in the morning won’t be grabbing my phone and checking email, weather and social media and before you know it I just wasted 45 minutes when a child was sleeping that I could’ve actually accomplished something. #jockitchcancer (Shout out to my sister for giving me the idea to banish the phone from the bedroom.)
  2. I’m giving myself 20 minutes twice a day to mindlessly wander. With a timer. I’m not going cold turkey but I want to be deliberate and mindful about choosing to read articles and check in on my social networks.
  3. My phone stays in my purse in the car. Before you get all bent out of shape, I’m not texting and driving. But I’ve definitely been that person at the stoplight that is checking email or looking at Instagram and gets honked at. I know, I know, it’s bad. If you’re judging me, you’re probably the worst at something else, so get off your high horse. #theworst
  4. It doesn’t have to come with me everywhere. It’s okay to leave it in another room. There’s this thing on it that makes noise when someone needs to reach me. I am going to turn that thing on and find a place to keep my phone…that is not my pocket…it will be in the kitchen. Kitchen meet phone, phone meet kitchen, you are now roommates.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck. I think making this change is going to bring about some really good things. If you also have a phone addiction or distraction addiction and you want to break bad habits with me, let’s do this together!

What’s up next

Week 5 – This was a FREEBIE but since I swapped out week 4, I’m putting that one here. Put down the remote and read a book already! We all know I’ve been pretending to read Daring Greatly for 3 weeks now and hopefully with my breakup with my phone, I will actually finish it. If you want to read it, get it here – Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Week 6 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks. I have some recipes picked out from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty and the Chez Panisse Vegetables Cookbook that I’m excited to try.

Week 7 – Camp in the winter. I’m so excited! We are camping for Thanksgiving with some friends on the Southern California coast and I’ve already figured out how to make rolls in my campfire dutch oven. I can’t wait to wear flannel and vests and warm, snuggly clothes without sweating.

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Pie is hard and other life lessons

lemon meringue pie

I think I like the idea of pie more than I actually like pie. I’m coming to terms with this after making my first lemon meringue pie under the expert tutelage of my mom. The pie turned out picture perfect. It tasted great. I had a ball with my mom. She told me some great stories. And I learned some valuable tricks of the pie-making trade. But I think I like the idea of pie more than I actually like pie.

Pie is hard. Or at least it’s hard for me. I can never quite get the crust right. The dough crumbles. I can’t keep it cold enough. It tears and falls apart when I’m trying to transfer it to the pie plate. And then I stomp my feet and skulk around like I’m 10. It just feels like a lot of work for a dessert that doesn’t have frosting. Despite my mixed emotions about pie, I did learn some valuable lessons.

Lesson # 1

I like the idea of pie because I see how much people love receiving a pie from my mom. She bakes them for birthdays and special occasions and people seriously LOVE them. You know you’re in with Linda if she makes a pie for you. You know you’re really in with Linda if you feel comfortable requesting a specific pie. Coconut cream? No problem. Lemon meringue? Easy peasy! Apple? Berry? You got it. I want to be able to gift someone a pie that I actually enjoyed making.

Lesson # 2

If I could get the crust down, I think I would enjoy making pie and that means I need to practice. My mom makes her pie with a recipe that calls for shortening from an ancient Good Housekeeping cookbook and she skips the step of chilling the dough because it’s what works for her. And her crust is fantastic. It did not work for me. I think I need to find my own go-to pie crust recipe that is made with butter because BUTTER. Or try her recipe using butter.

Lesson # 3

I never knew how my mom made her crust’s crimped edges so uniform or how she got those perfect peaks in her meringue. I do now and I’ve added them to her recipe. You’re welcome.

Lesson #4

My mom is a badass hiding in a grandmother’s body. She has lived through some stuff that could really wreck a person. Or at least make them angry and bitter and hard. Not my mom. She’s all snuggles and cinnamon. She’s seriously the mommest mom I know and man am I lucky. I have way too many friends and family (including my own mother) that lost their moms either as children or in early adulthood before they truly had a chance to know them as grown women. Or appreciate them for all the sacrifices they made as moms. Or learn their cherished recipes or hear their stories from way back when before they were moms. Again, I am so, so very lucky. More on this in a minute.

Lesson #5

Pie dough scraps are a treat in their own right. Once we had the pie shell in the oven baking, my mom turned to me and said “Ya know what I do? I roll out the dough scraps and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and then roll it into a log. I slice it into little pinwheels and bake them for a few minutes. And then I sit and eat them all by myself.”

Everything about that makes me happy. Imagining my mom rolling out pie dough then cleaning her kitchen and then sitting down to quietly savor her cinnamon sugar treat just brings a smile to my face. Linda does it right.

Lesson #6

Cooking together is a great way to learn more about a person. I asked my mom who taught her to make pie and she thought about it for a moment and said “Leona. That’s really the only fond memory I have of her. She used to make beautiful pies and her French Silk was my favorite. I have a love of pies because of her.”

Leona was my mom’s stepmother and, from what I’ve heard, it sounds like she played the classic storybook villain stepmother role well. I learned a lot about my mom and her childhood from this exercise in pie-making. I also learned about her ability to find a silver-lining on a very dark cloud. It made me realize that all the people in our lives, good and bad, give us gifts. We just have to find them. My mom makes pies that make people feel loved and celebrated and special because of someone who made her feel none of those things. That’s pretty damn remarkable.

Get the Lemon Meringue Pie recipe complete with hot tips from Linda here.

 

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Lemon Meringue Pie

lemon meringue pie

This is my mom’s lemon meringue pie recipe adapted from a couple of cookbooks that I don’t even think are in print anymore. It is fantastic. Make sure you look for “hot tips from Linda” because she has some really simple tricks for creating a beautiful pie.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Adapted from an ancient Good Housekeeping cookbook

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Dash salt
1 1/2 cups hot water
. . . .
4 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 9-inch baked pastry shell, cooled*
Meringue (4 egg whites)*

In saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt. Gradually add hot water, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over high til mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat, cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Stir small amount hot mixture into egg yolks, then return to hot mixture. Bring to boiling and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add butter and lemon zest. Slowly add lemon juice, mixing well. Pour into pastry shell. Spread meringue over filling; seal to edge. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool before cutting.

*Flaky Pastry Crust (for 1 baked pie shell)
Adapted from an ancient Better Homes & Gardens cookbook

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour.
1/2 teaspoon of salt
7 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water

In bowl, mix flour and salt. With pastry blender or two knives, scissor-fashion, cut two thirds of the shortening into flour until like corn meal – for tenderness. Cut in rest of shortening until like large peas – for flakiness.

Sprinkle water, a half tablespoon at a time, over different parts of the mixtures, tossing quickly with fork until particles stick together, when pressed gently, and for a dough that clings to fork. (Use only enough water to make flour particles cling together – dough should not be wet or slippery.)

With cupped hands, lightly form dough into smooth ball. (If very warm day, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to a half hour.)

Hot tip from Linda: Place the dough in a large piece of plastic wrap and twist it up tightly to form a smoother ball. Throw it on the counter a few times just because it’s fun and then giggle uncontrollably when asked if this is a necessary step.

On a lightly floured surface, place the ball of pastry. With a rolling pin, flatten gently, adding more flour as needed to keep from sticking. Roll lightly from center out to edge, in all directions, forming a circle about 2 inches wider than the inverted 9″ pie plate.

Be sure to lift rolling pin near edge of circle, to keep edge from splitting or getting thin. If edge splits, punch cracks together. If pastry sticks, loosen gently with spatula; then lift and lightly flour surface.

Fold pastry circle in half; lift onto ungreased pie plate, with fold at center; unfold. Do this with with four hands and a lot of swearing to keep it from ripping. Gently press on the pastry to fit it into the plate. Trim pastry about 1″ beyond edge of plate. Finish the pastry edge by pressing the dough with an index finger on one hand in between your thumb and index finger on the opposite hand, as demonstrated by the Hot Tip from Linda image below.

pie-crimping

Prick the dough with a fork on the bottom of the pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Peek after 5 minutes; if bubbles appear, prick once again with a fork. Cool before filling.

*Meringue
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar

Beat egg whites with vanilla and cream of tartar till soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating till stiff and glossy peaks form and all sugar is dissolved. Spread meringue over hot filling, sealing to edge of pastry.

Hot tip from Linda: Once you’ve smoothed out the meringue with a spatula, take your spatula and tap the flat side in spots all over the meringue. As you pull the spatula away a little peak will form and you’ll have gorgeous peaks all over a smooth meringue.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or till meringue is golden. Cool before serving.

 

 

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Week 3 – Cook Treasured Family Recipes

family recipes and memories

It’s officially week 3 of this what-was-I-thinking-40-week project and I’ve already learned a few things. First, tidily cataloging each thing I want to do or achieve in a one-week time frame is not realistic. I’m driven by an intense need to put everything in a proper place, neatly label it, then schedule it to the minute. I have written to-do lists for myself that start with items like “wake up” and “shower” like I could somehow forget to do them. On second thought, it’s probably good that shower is on there. I like being able to cross things off a list. The satisfaction I derive from physically drawing a line through the completed task may not be totally healthy. I’m not sure why I need things to be so specifically the way I want them.

[Control by Janet Jackson blares in the background]

What I’m realizing is that I probably won’t be doing just one thing each week. The goal of this project is to be truly engaged with my own life and life isn’t neat and labeled or prone to being compartmentalized. It is messy and chaotic and we have very little control over how and when things happen.

[Controllll! Shoulder shimmy.]

So while this post focuses on week 3’s objective of learning how to cook treasured family recipes, I’ll also be posting this week about other stuff that I’ve opened up to and made room for as a result of this project. And in the immortal words of the great Miss Jackson…

Control – To get what I want!
Control – I’m never gonna stop!
Control – Now I’m all grown up!
Control – Let’s all make a list!

Just kidding. That last one was mine.

 

Why it’s on my list
The act of cooking and sharing a meal with family and friends is nurturing. It is loving. It is true generosity of spirit. It brings people together, gives them time to pause and enjoy the food that was prepared for them or that they prepared together. It is the architect of good conversation. It is the centerpiece of some of our fondest memories. Also, food is yummy.

What I want from it
As a family we cook almost every night. We experiment a lot with different foods and recipes and love to try new things. On holidays I always prepare family recipes that are my personal definition of the day itself, that without them, would not feel like Thanksgiving or Christmas. But there are other recipes that were ever present in my childhood that I have never made and I am afraid they will fade into distant memories. I want them to have a place at our table so that when my kiddo is grown, he will remember that his mom made lemon meringue pie for special dinner guests and that really, really good potato salad for summer picnics. He will remember when I baked him icebox cookies and told him how every one of my visits to Grandma Johnson’s house began with her taking a log of walnut-flecked cookie dough from the freezer and slicing it in circles. Before we knew it the circles were on a cookie sheet in a warm oven and, minutes later, in our bellies. I want him to know his family and his ancestors through their recipes. I want us to create food traditions that give him a sense of the loving home he came from long after he has moved out of it. They say you can never go home again but I think food is the time machine that can take you there, even if only for a moment.

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Stay tuned for my mom’s Lemon Meringue Pie recipe…it’s the prettiest pie in the world. Which now that I’ve said that means mine will turn out looking like a burnt marshmallow.

What’s up next

Week 4 – Put down the remote and read a book already! I’ve already started Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and I find myself nodding yes, yes, mmm-hmm, yes.

Week 5 – FREEBIE. So many ideas and I’m going to make decision later this week. Post coming soon!

Week 6 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks. I’m already excited to choose a few recipes! Do you have any cookbooks that are beckoning to you?

 

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Goals without joy are not good goals

When I wrote this post a few days ago, a friend commented that goals without joy are not good goals. I love it. I immediately envisioned it in a hip, outdoorsy font layered over an alpine mountain and then I mentally posted it to Instagram. BRB, making it an actual thing.

But it did make me think about how to take my past weight loss and fitness goals and my current desire to be strong, fit and healthy and create a new goal that actually brings me joy. It seems simple enough right?

Yeah, it’s not. There are a lot of complicated things happening in my head and I need to break them down to figure out what I truly want and how I am going to get there. Let’s dive in, shall we?

I said before that I am tired of ridiculous beauty standards and that what I really want is to be strong and fit, healthy and happy.

But I also want my pants to fit.

And I struggle to find a happy medium between kale and quinoa bowls and eating like a ravenous goblin that just emerged from hibernation. You can’t see it but I just sat here staring blankly at a wall for god knows how long trying to solve the balance equation. I imagine I looked a little bit like this gorilla.

gorilla-deep-in-thought

I also thought about how to find balance that would land me at a weight I feel good about. And how to feel good without it being about weight or size. And why those things are so inextricably linked. I am pretty certain that I looked quite similar to this cat.

cat-mind-blown

Now that I’ve come back to reality and remembered that I am neither a perplexed gorilla nor a cat hypnotized by utter panic, I know what I need to do.

I need to set some goals, shout them from the rooftops, and focus on why they will bring me joy. So here we go.

I want to be physically strong and fit. I want to make healthy choices about what I eat…and drink. I didn’t really want to add that last part but we all know that three IPA’s on a Tuesday doesn’t really jive with #skinnyjeans #fitspo #wellrested #notgroggyatall #notbloatedeither #ididnteatanentirebagofchipsat1030pmsoleavemealone

Here’s how I’m going to get there. Lists and plans! Two of my favorite things that make my husbands eyes roll. I do well with plans so I will have a plan going into each week for what I’m going to eat AND when and how I’m going to workout. And fine, what I’m going to drink. Geez. Get off my back. #partygoblin

I’m not going to be counting calories and weighing my food because I don’t need to. I already know what’s good for me and what’s not and how much I should be putting on my plate. Hot tip – it’s not thirds of pasta.

I’m going to give myself room to indulge depending on what my social schedule is like that week. I refuse to call it cheating or a cheat meal or cheat day because it makes it sound lurid and deceitful and it’s not like I’m going to be eating an entire package of Oreos in the guest room closet. Unless it’s on my social schedule that week, of course.

Here’s why it’s going to bring me joy. Because I know that taking care of myself makes me feel good. I have more energy. I sleep better. I’m more productive. I’m more attractive. I’m funnier. I’m smarter. I’m a rocket scientist. I win the Nobel Peace Prize. My laugh is less cackle-y. Small woodland creatures follow me through the forest while I sing like an angel. All of these things are categorically true. I think election 2016 is rubbing off on me because I 90% believe everything I just said.

And just like that I am excited about #goals #fitspo again! I’d love to hear from you if you have strategies for healthy living that work and I will be sharing my own plan starting next week. #oreos

 

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Week 2 – Run a 10k

Technically, this is the last day of week 1 but since it’s early and my motivation is still at peak level, I’ve already checked week 2’s item off the list. I ran an Awesome 80’s 10k on Saturday and it was aptly named.

Why it’s on my list

This isn’t my first 10k and it certainly won’t be my last but it’s symbolic of my commitment to fitness. Signing up and paying for something keeps me accountable to my fitness goals and gives me something to work for. I chose a 10k because I’ve run longer distances and I’ve learned that intense training schedules ruin running for me. Also, I wrecked my ankle wearing heels while drinking margaritas. Endlessly pounding pavement has not helped the situation.

What I want from it

Rewind about 5 years and you’d see the younger, lazier, larger, less motivated version of me. I wasn’t super concerned with taking care of myself. And then I got caught in the perfect storm of health issues and tough pregnancies and that kept me flat on my back for several months. Once I got through it, I was busy being a new mom and didn’t make time for fitness or self care. Last summer I had a moment where I saw myself 10 years down the road, even more overweight and struggling to keep up with my kid. I realized that I had real work to do. I had to rebuild the strength and stamina I’d lost. I was terrified that I would never get back to the me that ran half marathons and hiked effortlessly. I was terrified that I would give up.

So I started small. I downloaded an app called Couch to 5K and started a 9-week training program. I could barely run for 90 seconds without collapsing. But I hung in there and after a few weeks of walking-jogging intervals (which are part of the program!!) I could see improvement and a lot less gasping for air. I started watching what I ate. I lost a little weight, got a little stronger, and then downloaded the Couch to 10K app. Five months in I signed up for a #31days#31workouts fitness challenge and worked out every damn day in December. Think about that. Every. Damn. Day. In the busiest, sugariest, party-laden month of the year. I rode into 2016 feeling all like #goals #healthychoices #fitspiration. I did Pilates. I joined a gym. I ran a 15k. I lost 25 pounds.

Here’s where I’m at now – #thestruggleisreal #meh #isittooearlyforwine?

I would love to lose another 20 pounds plus the 5 I gained back. But I’m having trouble counting calories and working out 5+ days a week. I just don’t want to do it. The problem is that focusing on the results robs me of something. It sucks the joy out of my day-to-day. I felt great about my progress initially because I made real change and could see the transformation. But lately it just feels like I’m failing because there isn’t any progress just a struggle to not gain weight. I’ve realized that more than being skinny, I want to be happy. I want to be strong and fit and enjoy my life.

I’ve realized that this is more about changing my mindset than anything. And I don’t mean finding the willpower to be hungry and to think about my workouts in terms of how many calories they burn. I mean changing my mindset about what matters to me. And let me tell you it’s not an easy thing to do. You and I have been assaulted with messages our entire lives that skinny is sexy, that dainty is pretty, that beauty is about the way you look. It’s not an easy thing to undo. It’s one thing to say I care more about being strong than skinny and that I’d rather be powerful than dainty and that beauty lies in individuality and not a motherf*#king thigh gap. It’s easy to say and it’s an entirely different thing to believe it in your bones and embrace it completely and say EFF YOUR BEAUTY STANDARDS! THEY ARE MAKING ME MISERABLE! But I just said it and so now I have to go out and live it.

I am starting by sharing the picture above with everyone I know. It is not a particularly flattering picture of me. I’m wearing ridiculous clothes and I definitely have better angles. For the record, my best angle is being photographed from two feet above with my head tilted unnaturally to the right to eliminate any evidence of a double chin and my elbows tucked so far back that I am literally pinching a nerve in my back just to make my shoulders look smaller. But I love everything about this picture. I am so happy that I finished a race I really struggled with. I am so happy to see my friend waiting for me at the finish line. I am so happy that my side ponytail is throwing its hands in the air like it just don’t care. I love this picture because it’s real. It unadulterated. It’s me. And I can’t stop looking at it because I feel like I can see me without picking myself apart and it makes me happy. Baby steps.

What’s up next

Week 3 – Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family. 

My mom is coming to visit next week (squee!) and she’s going to teach me how to make her magazine-gorgeous, oft-requested Lemon Meringue Pie!

Week 4 – Put down the remote and read a book already! 

I just clicked Buy Now on a book in my Amazon cart. I’m starting with Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I was going to go with a novel because I’ve been wanting to do more “for fun” reading but something about this book kept worming its way into my brain. Has anyone read it?

Week 5 – FREEBIE! 

Still not sure what this will be – suggestions welcome!

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Week 1 – Start a Blog #squadgoals

Week 1 of my 40 week project is to start a blog. In case you didn’t realize that what you are reading at this very moment is a blog then you’ll be happy to know that I can check this one off my list. 1 down, 39 to go before I’m an actual grown up.

Why it’s on my list

Writing is the thing I always come back to when I think about what I really want to be doing. I love the process of sorting out my thoughts. I love searching for the perfect word. I love how the act of writing can crystallize an idea.  I love tweaking and shaping a narrative. I love that it’s possible to create beauty and elicit emotion simply by figuring out the right way to arrange a collection of words. It’s the best kind of puzzle to solve.

It’s also on my list because, as I’ve written before, I need accountability and public shame is a personal motivator.

What I want from it

Aside from the pure joy of writing and my goal to really grab life by the Donald Trump area, I want a community. People who are cooler than me that understand Snapchat, call it a squad.  Tribe is also a word that’s thrown around (#tribe) which I’m sure native people just love. HRC would say it takes a village…just to cover all the bases on the 2016 horror show election cycle.

Basically I want a squad and #squadgoals without it sounding ridiculous. I need a swanky grown up (but not old and wrinkly) word for it. I want a gang crew clan pack of wild dogs horde troop…troop? I’m pausing on this one strictly because Troop Beverly Hills was THE BEST SLUMBER PARTY MOVIE EVER. Kin? Kindred? Kith and kin? Koolaid. Kardashian. Oooh, how about KOMMUNITY?! Just kidding the letter k can go to hell along with the rest of that vapid family. I should probably stick with community. But troop though. Am I right? Is this one of those ideas that I realize is really bad later? I should sleep on it. #troopgoals #trooplife

What’s up next

Week 2 – Run a 10k.

Week 3 – Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family.

Week 4 – Put down the remote and read a book already!

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I’m Just a Dog with a Fancy Blanket in the Woods Right Now

Welp. This is it. The beginning of a project I’ve been thinking about for months and I can’t help but feel a little like this dog out in the woods wrapped in what appears to be an expensive blanket. I’m out here. There’s no going back. But as long as I have my blankie, I can do this. I have no idea what the blankie represents in this analogy.  So let me try another one.

Since I decided to embark on a 40-week project, I keep coming back to the pregnancy analogy. I chose 40 weeks because I will be turning 40 and it seemed symbolic. Also I couldn’t get my shit together to launch this blog on my 39th birthday so here we are. But really, the pregnancy analogy speaks to me. I’ve had two very difficult pregnancies. The kind of difficult that when someone starts talking about how much they love being pregnant I immediately begin to consider their positive attributes to make sure we can actually be friends. But that is a story for another day and quite possibly another type of blog.

rsz_perfect_pregnant_lady_nope

Here’s where the pregnancy analogy works for me. During the first trimester everything is exciting and shiny and new. It’s also queasy and bloated and needs a hair elastic to keep those jeans “buttoned”, but it is exciting. Something good is coming and any discomfort and exhaustion feels soooo worth it.  I’m looking at the first part of my 40-week project as the first trimester. I’m a little nauseous about what I’ve signed up for but this is going to be awesome! Here’s my initial game plan and you can find the full list here.

Week 1 – October 11 – 17 – Start a blog. Because writing gives me perspective.

Week 2 – October 18 – 24 – Run a 10k.

Week 3 – October 25 – 31 – Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family.

Week 4 – November 1 – 7 – Put down the remote and read a book already!

Week 5 – November 8 – 14 – FREEBIE.

Week 6 – November 15 – 21 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks.

Week 7 – November 22 – 28 – Camp in the winter.

Week 8 – November 29 – December 5 – Share our Christmas stocking tradition.

Week 9 – December 6 – 12 – Try yoga. I’ve been told I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman.

Week 10 – December 13 – 19 – Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem.

Week 11 – December 20 – 26 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week.

Week 12 – December 27 – January 2 – Start the 52 Hike Challenge.

Week 13 – January 3 – 9 – Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny.

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The 40 Reasons To Do List

Here is my to do list. I plan to, week-by-week, cross each item off the list. Some of these are one-time thing. Some will be ongoing and I’ll find ways to integrate them into my daily life. I’ve also included a few freebies, meaning I can choose anything I want for that week. I don’t do well with rigid. In that same vein,  I reserve the right to change my mind about items on the list and replace them should I become enchanted by some shiny new thing.

To Do BEFORE July 18, 2017

Week 1 – Start a blog. Because writing gives me perspective.

Week 2 – Run a 10K

Week 3 – Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family.

Week 4 – Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem.

Week 5 – Put down the remote and read a book already!

Week 6 – Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny.

Week 7 – Camp in the winter.

Week 8 – Share our Christmas stocking tradition with everyone.

Week 9 – Try yoga. I’ve been told I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman.

Week 10 – Create Christmas memories with my family.

Week 11 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week.

Week 12 – Start the 52 Hike Challenge.

Week 13 – Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny.

Week 14 – Do something I’ve been dreading.

Week 15 – Try Zumba. I’m not coordinated. This should be interesting. Try Orangetheory Fitness.

Week 16 – Do something that makes my eyes roll. Sometimes being judge-y keeps me from doing awesome things.

Week 17 – Get a good night’s sleep.

Week 18 – Date my husband.

Week 19 – Be present and engaged with Little C. I’m going to need some rules for this one. Bonus: Take Little C to the snow.

Week 20 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks. Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that.

Week 21 –  Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor.

Week 22 – Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week.

Week 23 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens.

Week 24 – Take a leap of faith.

Week 25 – Visit a national park I haven’t been to before.

Week 26 – Update my wardrobe with a few quality pieces instead of throwing clearance items in my cart while on a Target run. Try Stitch Fix.

Week 27 –  Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.

Week 28 – Stop saying I’m sorry for no reason.

Week 29 – Go for a walk on the beach by myself.

Week 30 – Don’t spend any money on non-essentials for an entire month. Stick to my budget.

Week 31 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens.

Week 32 – Start a babysitting swap. Because babysitters cost a lot of dollars.

Week 33 – Learn Snapchat.

Week 34 – Join a book club.

Week 35 – Do a mud run.

Week 36 – Try stand-up paddle boarding.

Week 37 – Run a 5K at a 9 minute mile pace.

Week 38 – Start the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge.

Week 39 – Teach Little C to swim.

Week 40 – Create a community.

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