Battling the Bulge During Birthday Month (A Write Myself Right Update)

I have always known that February is the longest month. The combination of cold weather and (usually) snow-filled streets lends to the desire to hibernate until spring blows in; cuddling with a good book, a blanket, and rich, fattening foods.

Now, however, my February’s have become hectic months. Nathan’s birthday is February 12th, Valentine’s Day (which Nathan and I have usually avoided) becomes a bigger challenge every year as Sarah gets older, Sarah’s birthday is February 15th.

Add onto that, “Uncle” Norman, who lives with my sister, celebrates his birthday on February 11th. However, he and Deb are visiting his family in Ireland so we won’t be celebrating all of the birthdays as a family until February 25th.

In between we have February break in Massachusetts, a week-long public school vacation that starts on February 20th this year. A week-long possibility of food temptations like going to the movies with equivalent movie fare.

This Friday is the school sponsored Daddy-Daughter dance, and Saturday we will hold Sarah’s birthday bash for friends. Of course, we have to celebrate her actual birthday by sending cupcakes to school.

That’s a lot of cake.

This year there was also the additional food fiesta of the Superbowl. Since I now live in Massachusetts, I couldn’t really avoid it. Usually, it’s a good excuse to stay at home and watch movies.

Suddenly I am faced with a long month full of festivities and food, and I chose this month to begin “writing myself ‘right'”?! Am I crazy, or simply setting myself up for failure with good excuses?

The Horror!

I’m here to tell you that it is, indeed, possible. Last week, after my first full week of writing myself right, I lost two pounds. Now, that may not sound like a lot, but it is actually ahead of the game, because the program in the book suggest a 1 lb. loss a week. Think about it, two pounds a week would mean 104 lbs. in one year.

I don’t have that much to lose. I actually need to lose the equivalent of one  Sarah.

(Photo by Uncle Mom "Taochild"). No, I don't want to lose her, just the equivalent of her weight. 😉

It hasn’t been easy. I’m not going to lie. Each time I write my Morning Pages or in my journal I discover something about myself that I don’t really like, or that seems too hard to fix. Every time I log my food into (which I am using to help me keep track of the nutritional value of my food) and my day isn’t perfect, I feel frustrated with myself. Every time I don’t exercise when I should, I feel hopeless. I am definitely having emotional ups and downs.

But, and this is a big BUT (as opposed to my own butt which is hopefully getting smaller) I feel really good. I have exercised almost every day, including a 70 minute hike through rocky, hilly terrain with the family yesterday (including dogs) to celebrate Nathan’s birthday.

Nathan got to choose how he wanted to spend his day. We surprised him with breakfast in bed (Sarah’s idea) and then he wanted to go on this hike, even though it was extremely cold outside. After that, he wanted to make some of his fabulous chicken wings and watch the Lord of the Ring’s trilogy while playing games for the rest of the day. (Have I mentioned Nation is a little geeky–but I love him for that). Now, his chicken wings are killer. Seriously, they could even tempt a vegetarian. But, I managed to only eat two. That’s right

Not 10-20 as I probably used to do. It felt good. I actually ended the day without having eaten all of my calories, even including the small piece of cheese cake that I ate to celebrate (supposedly only 180 calories). I usually try to eat all of them, but it didn’t happen yesterday. That’s okay too.

Today, I start another part of my journey. I mentioned that I had signed up for a writing course. Well, the course materials came this weekend, so now I’m really beginning. I’m terrified to be completely honest. What if my talk of writing a book is all talk? What if I don’t really have a story in me? What if, like my other book, I write it and it just gathers dust in a corner somewhere? What if I fail?

It is scary enough to want to eat myself stupid. But I’m not going to. I’m sticking to the plan and I’m truly going to write myself right.

So bring it on February, the longest month of they year. Bring on your chocolate hearts, birthday cakes, and other decadent treats. I will not let you defeat me!  Now I need to go do my walking tape before I start writing!

Too Much on My Plate, But Not Enough Decadent Treats

fancy chocolate bar, cracked

Image via Wikipedia

As with many people, the New Year brings with it a new attempt at getting healthy. I refuse to say that I am dieting, because I am not. I am merely trying to stay focused on living a healthy lifestyle and taking better care of myself. If I think of this as a diet, then it is harder to follow to follow my first resolution of  Resolving to Forgive because I become obsessed with every time I break the diet and then cannot forgive myself.

So this is really about not eating in depression. Not eating in boredom. When I do snack, making healthy choices rather than empty calories full of sugar. Eating smaller portions. And becoming more active, which I realize is the key to my feeling better overall.

Easy right?

Yesterday I was doing well. I ate a healthy breakfast. I exercised. I prepared a big thermos of tea to help stave off the munchies. I ate small portions of healthy snacks.

And I worked. I worked at preparing syllabi. I worked at paying lots and lots of bills. I worked and worked and worked.

I like being busy. I like the challenge of having tasks that need to be completed. But yesterday, as I poured hours of thought into two classes (and I still have two more to go) deep inside I was resenting it. I resented the fact that I work as hard, if not harder, than many people I know, and yet when it comes down to pay I feel like I’m getting 2 cents an hour. I resented the fact that I have spent my life working, and that I am really good at what I do, but life has taken unexpected and somewhat unpleasant twists and turns. I resented the fact that, with all the work I was doing, I didn’t have time to write.

All of this boiled underneath my work until a friend saw that my Facebook was up (I forgot to close the tab) and started chatting. This friend seems to always bring me back to my senses. She was talking about her new dieting attempt and how it was hard to resist temptation.  I told her that she shouldn’t completely deprive herself. As I said this, bells began ringing in my head. Maybe my bad mood had a little to do with depriving myself.

I went to the hidden stash of chocolate and got two small squares of chocolate. I savored them. I ate slowly. I acknowledged the taste and the decadent sweetness.

And then I felt better.

Maybe it was simply low blood sugar, but I don’t think it was that alone. By allowing myself a little taste of decadence, I also allowed myself to honor myself. I don’t mean that I need to binge on junk; but I do need to treat myself with moments of pure bliss. In this case, bliss came in chocolate form.

So, what do I conclude from all of this? I know that I still need to work on forgiving myself for my perceived failures. I know that I need to listen carefully to my body and not deprive it completely. I know that I have to ration my work so that I don’t feel like I am pouring heart and soul into something where I then feel under-appreciated. I know that I have to allow time each day to exercise, and to do projects that are special to me.

And I know that sometimes it takes just a little bit of chocolate.

Neewollah vs. Snowdown

I’ve spent the past few years living in small towns that pride themselves on special festivals which put them on the map. The first, Durango, CO is actually a tourist destination, so it doesn’t rely on its biggest festival, Snowdown, to make its name known. My current town, Independence, KS, does rely on the festival of Neewollah (Halloween spelled backwards) to make the town grow from 10,000 to 75,000 over the course of the festival.

Yesterday, as we watched the Do Dah Parade (a parade that is supposed to be for adult participants only—kids can watch) I couldn’t help but reflect back on the Snowdown parade to compare and contrast. Now the comparison isn’t completely equal, in that I should probably wait for Neewollah’s Grand Parade, but because of the adult-ish-ness of the two parades, I can’t help but do this.  Actually, I think I’ll compare and contrast the festivals as a whole. I think the results might surprise you:

Neewollah Snowdown
Lots of family friendly entertainment A few family friendly events, but mostly adult oriented and involving alcohol
Parade costumes  (for Do Dah)were Halloween based, ranging from scary/creepy to cute Parade costumes based on a theme, and usually including as much revealing of flesh as possible
Candy, candy, candy Candy, candy, candy
Parade starts with a single firework, but its daytime so you can’t see it Parade starts with a single firework after the sun has gone down.
Held in October, so it’s cold but not freezing. Held in February, so it’s bone-chilling cold.
Some interesting parade floats—my favorite being the deer driving with a dead hunter strapped to the hood. Some interesting floats, but, depending on the theme they can become redundant. I always loved the hot air balloons that allowed for a blast of warmth on a cold winter night
A fair full of rides and fair food Multiple events all around town, but not all family friendly.
Budweiser float. Coors light sponsorship
Queen Neelah competition Spelling Bees and other competitions, many snow based competitions
Community musical Snowdown Follies

I’m sure I can make this list expand as the days continue. I do find it interesting that Neewollah seems more family friendly, but I’m not attending every event, and I didn’t do that for Snowdown either.

I just find these small town festivals interesting. How about you?

Neewollah 2: Fair, Food, Fun


At the top of the world.


But I have to say it is kind of neat having this fair (because as far as I can tell that is what Neewollah is, a giant fair with lots of food) only a couple of blocks away. it is a great distraction for my daughter, who is bouncing around the house with excitement over food, festivities and fun. She and I, with a friend, wandered around downtown before the fair started to scope out rides and vendors. Much to my surprise, and a little sadness, Sarah is tall enough for a good number of the rides this year.  She took advantage of that and rode some high-speed, high rising rides later that evening (after Nathan joined us). We all rode the Ferris Wheel together, which is always one of my favorite things to do. I love to see the world from high places.

In addition, we spent money, ate, spent money, ate . . . (are you noticing a pattern here. Between the four of us (Myself, Sarah, Nathan, and our friend Dorienne) we managed to eat the following:

1 36 oz cup of lemonade (S & L)

1 bottle of homemade root beer (D)

1 caramel apple (D)

1 sampler platter of greek food with lamb, chicken and salad (N & L)

2  floofle (????) sandwiches, I know that’s not the correct word. It’s like a stuffed pastry. (S & D)

1 cinnamon roll (L, N, S & D)

Sarah and Dorienne also got their faces painted in an attempt to help some of the college students with their not-clearly planned fund-raiser. I mostly enjoyed walking around and people watching on a Wednesday evening, since the crowds haven’t grown to uncomfortable proportions yet.


It's all in the eyes.


After all that food, we went to a friend’s house to carve pumpkins, which  was the most fun I thought.

All-in-all a decent day. Is Neewollah anything special? Well, it’s your typical fair, but that’s okay. It is an excuse to wander around in the beautiful fall weather, to treat yourself to food you would not normally eat, and to watch hundreds of people witnessing the same experience. It’s nice to hear music being sung outside (even if I have limited tolerance for Christian Rock or Country) and to see every shop loaded with non-Christmas decorations, some created by local school children.

We’ll see what happens next as parade craziness enters the picture.


Halloween Spookiness


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