Saturday, March 24, 2018

This is 39 (Month 5, Check-In 2)

Um...this year is going by a lot quicker than I had anticipated! I can't believe I'm about to enter my sixth month of my 39th year. Woah. I'm still enjoying the structure of the goals and have better managed a couple of the more challenging monthly goals for me to complete (volunteering and going hiking). I still need to work on the yoga thing since that seems to wait until the last minute. Read on for what else I accomplished besides a trip to Miami and some sweet photos in month five.

Hike 1x/month: My friend Katie Grant & I went for a hike with her daughter Tessa. We checked out Kenneth Hahn Park which is right in the middle of LA. Although I've driven by plenty of times, I've never actually gone into the park. I loved the park itself and love the idea of nature being so easily accessible and available in a city which most people don't associate nature with...but the hike itself wasn't my favorite. It could have been the way we went as the last part was super steep and I kept feeling like I was one second away from falling. And I wasn't even the one with a baby strapped to my chest! Katie Grant didn't seem to sweat it at all, which was all the more impressive. Regardless, we had a wonderful time and enjoyed the sights and I was glad to explore some place new in my own city:

Attend a yoga class at least 1x/month: With two days before my month's end, I found myself at a restorative yoga class- the first one I'd ever been to. I checked out a new (to me) yoga studio and had a really crazy good experience. First of all, the center was really nice. The energy was calm and the place was clean. I got there about 10 minutes before the class started and was the only one there for another 5 minutes. 

And then we found out the instructor was running late. I was already in a calm state, so I just grabbed my book and waited for her to show up. Now, I've never taken a restorative yoga class before and I had no clue what to expect. What I did know going into it was that, at an hour and a half, it was going to be the longest yoga class I'd ever taken.

Well my friends, I'm here to tell you that I loved this class! I didn't stand up once. I didn't break a sweat. And yet afterwards I felt as if I had been hit like a truck because it was such an intense workout. I channeled my inner Busy Phillips and did a few Instagram Stories post class and I looked like I had just awoken from a hibernation. (Side note: if you're not following Busy Phillips on Instagram, please do it. It's highly entertaining and her stories make me laugh all the time.) The crazy thing is that we only did a handful of poses (like maybe less than 10), but we held each one for so long and It Was Awesome.

The instructor was super attentive (I forgave her for being late the second she showed up) and brought over more bolsters and blankets and was just so reassuring, warm and kind. If you've never done a restorative yoga class, go!

Nurture my marriage: During my Month 4, Check-in 2 blog post, I went into great detail about the decisions I needed to make and the conversations I needed to have- both with myself and with Steve. And I'm happy to share that we made some big decisions about our vacation time together and apart. Next week, when Spring Break Steve comes out to play, we are going to go on a California road trip that will bring us to Montecito/Santa Barbara, Cambria and San Francisco. We're playing the trip back home by ear; we'll either head straight back to Santa Monica or we'll figure out where to stay along the way.

Although I'll be spending some of that time working, the time when I am not working will be 100% Molly & Steve time. Which means limited time on the cell phone (for me- Steve hates cell phones and continues to think of them as "an option, not an obligation." #ouch #whyhesnotmyemergencycontact) and lots of time reconnecting and enjoying one another's company. Steve has also assured me that he's really excited to "emotionally eat my way through Spring Break." I told him I'd be happy to watch from the sidelines as I will not be emotionally eating my way through his Spring Break. I am looking forward to slowing down, enjoying each other's company, getting outside of Santa Monica, catching up on some reading and writing and just chilling out with Steve by my side.

In June, I will be returning to Ireland for my annual trip back home to fill my soul and in July, Steve will be going to the east coast to fill his soul (and I am going to try and join him for some portion of that). I need to be careful though, because sometimes what's said in the spring doesn't hold true in the summer and we end up getting into some trouble and having communication and connection issues. I'd like to think that because I'm being more intentional with the time we are spending together all the time, that it will help mitigate that. But...time will tell.

Read 20 books: In the last month I finished A Gentleman in Moscow and Everything Is Horrible And Wonderful

A Gentleman in Moscow was 480 pages. It was a really nice book- no crazy plot or twists and turns. Just a sweet book, with respectable characters and an interesting story line to keep you engaged all the way to the end. It's a bit of a time investment, but worth it. Add it to your list of books to read. 

Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful was a total departure from that. I finished the book in two days and was laughing and crying throughout the quick read. It's a story about Harris Wittles, a comedian, and writer and executive producer of Parks and Recreation, who died at 30 of a drug overdose. His sister wrote the book detailing Harris's addition and attempts to get sober and shared her experience the first year after his death. It was so sad to read because I cannot fathom what it's like to lose a sibling. I don't know how I'd go on. Having experienced the death of my father and Clancy (I'm not saying they're the same, but I am saying that they're both traumatic and heartbreaking), I know that you do go on. But holy hell, it's a pain I can't wrap my brain or heart around. And reading this book gave me a peek into how you move forward while your heart is shattered in a million pieces and you keep the memory of your sibling(s) alive. While it sounds heavy AF, I would totally recommend this book. Stephanie, the author and Harris's sister, is funny and witty and real and relatable.

Resistance training 3x/week: The day after I got back from Miami, I was doing my third resistance training for the week (barefoot inside my carpeted living room) when my foot felt funky while jump roping. I decided to keep going until I couldn't. Then I put on some sneakers and continued with my workout. Bad move. The next day I couldn't put my full weight on my left foot and I knew I'd have to take it easy. So I stopped doing resistance training and my run/walk and stair workouts for a solid week and a half. I started back up with an easy and slow run/walk workout. It wasn't until I took my sneakers off upon getting home that I felt my foot hurting. F me. Not wanting to push it any further, and really freaking out about the possibility of doing real damage to my foot, I opted to make a doctor's appointment instead.

I was able to get in the next day and my doctor poked and pushed at my foot and determined it'd be best for me to do some physical therapy, put some topical anti-inflammatory ointment on the top of the foot and to "listen to my body", but staying off my feet completely wasn't necessary given her assessment.

That was a week and a half ago and my foot is feeling much better. I haven't gone for physical therapy and even though my doctor called me the day after my appointment to suggest that she line up an X-ray just in case my foot didn't feel any better this week, I don't think it's necessary.

As of this week, I'm back into it with resistance training and following along in my Sweat app on my iPhone in my home gym. But this time only and always with sneakers on my feet. 

Track each day's food in the Weight Watchers app: I started tracking my food again and following the Weight Watchers program (as opposed to showing up to meetings just to weigh-in and see the damage I was doing by mindlessly eating whatever I wanted) on Tuesday March 13th and have been going strong since. In my last blog post, I went into great detail about the ways in which I've struggled not just the past few months, but for as long as I can remember. My relationship with food has been unhealthy at best. And it really, really bums me out. But I feel like I'm making significant progress right now.

Apart from tracking food and following the program (which is huge, I realize), there are a couple of other things that are helping. The first is that I've started to read this book: The Food Therapist. If you, too, struggle with food in any way, I 100% recommend this book. (I realize I've recommended a lot of things in this blog post already, but this is really, really good.) I'm only 78 pages into the 214 page book, but I've pulled so many nuggets of information out that have been hugely helping in reframing how I'm thinking about food and my relationship with it. Here are just five of the many things that have really resonated with me and that I've been able to put into practice to help me as I consider the relationship I want to have with food and how I want the future version of myself to look and feel:
  • The goal isn't to punish yourself for missteps, but to understand how, when, and why you've ditched your long-term goals for your more immediate wants; this is the crucial first step to closing the gap between your intentions and actions. 
  • ...for many of us, there's a major disconnect between the way we think about ourselves right now and the way we view ourselves in the future. 
  • ...we've got to stop treating the future versions of us like strangers, because the research suggests that we more actively people think about their later selves, the less likely they are to say "screw it" to their long-term goals, whether they're financial or health-related. 
  • Having a healthy relationship with food doesn't mean always choosing the eating behavior that supports the long-lens goal over the immediate want (because, let's be real, that sounds like a total drag). Instead, it's about having the ability to pause and consider the options at hand and then a make a conscious choice. (Yes!)
  • prepared to make some compromises for the sake of your future self. Yes, eating should be enjoyable, but it's not possible to cater to your every right-now craving and still get the future outcome you desire. (Wow. This one really, really has helped me a lot.)
In Chapter 3 of the book, you're encouraged to write a letter to your future self too. (It also happened to coincide with the same suggested action from the weekly Weight Watchers meeting.) I took this assignment seriously and wrote a long letter to my future-self in my journal and it made me feel hopeful. So many people tell me that I inspire and motivate them. That I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. And not being able to accomplish my weight loss goals have made me feel like a failure. I'm working to reframe this narrative too. It doesn't serve me well and I'd like to take this additional tidbit from the book and put it into practice more: "...if you encourage yourself to view lapses as a result of your efforts, rather than character flaws—signs that you're weak and incompetent, for example—you'll be more likely to learn from your not-so-healthy eating behaviors and improve your approach."

This book has come at a time when I really needed it. And with some down time on the horizon next week while Steve and I are on off on our California road trip, I look forward to making more progress in the book and seeing what else I can take away from it to help in my ongoing quest to change this back and forth, up and down, all or nothing relationship that has not served me well for many, many years.

The other thing that's been helping is...Try meditating for 21 days: In typical Molly fashion, it seems like I'm in this all or nothing state. Tracking my food. Following Weight Watchers. Reading The Food Therapist and now meditating. It's a lot. and I worry that I'm setting myself up for...I don't know that failure is the word I'm looking for...but maybe imperfection. But I don't give a shit about that. I'm not looking to do this perfectly. I'm just looking for ways to change what I've always done to make my weight-loss more lasting. And right now I'm going with what's happening- focusing on progress and not perfection.

But I couldn't ignore the fact that Oprah's latest meditation challenge was beginning and it seemed perfect when I saw the ad on Facebook: Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience: Shedding the Weight: Mind, Body and Spirit. I mean come on. Is that not a message from the Universe or what?

I'm five days in and it's been really enlightening. The meditation starts out with some words from Oprah, then some words from Deepak (where he shares the centering thought and the mantra) and then you're left to do the meditation for about 15 minutes.

Apart from one other meditation attempt at a company meeting a million years ago (give or take a few years), I haven't ever tried meditating. Skipping over Meditation 101 means I spend a lot of my time trying to chase off thoughts from entering into my brain when I'm trying to peacefully sit with nothingness and waiting for the ding that tells me my time is up. So while my actual meditation practice needs a lot of help, I know that there are benefits I'm getting just from the attempt. And once the meditation wraps up, I write about it in my journal- mostly the thoughts shared beforehand by Oprah and Deepak- and that's been equally as helpful as the meditating itself. Here are a some nuggets of info that I've received from the first five days:
  • When you think about food and your hunger level, consider the feeling of fulfillment vs. feeling full
  • What in my life makes me feel heavy? What makes me feel weighted down? It's not just food and I have to be willing to examine those things.
  • As my emotions flow freely, my life is lightened. This was the centering thought on day three and really made me think about how sometimes I don't honor my feelings. I try to be realistic and when I do that, I don't let myself feel my feelings. That prevents me from allowing feelings to move on and instead creates a bottle neck of my feelings which I then tend to feed those feelings via crappy food.
  • The inner feeling of lack is where cravings come from. 
  • I need to be willing to ask myself "What am I hungry for right now?" This will help me better understand why I'm making poor food decisions. Mostly people eat because they're bored or tired or angry or sad. I must be willing to explore and analyze more than I do now to better understand what I truly need (according to Deepak, my true self never lacks for anything). The idea that my true self doesn't lack for anything and that I already possess everything I need to feel fulfilled is something I need more time with...
  • Our bodies want to be healthy, but our habits and thoughts are what create imbalance. (Word.)
See- enlightening right? I mean some of it is like another message from Captain Obvious. But to me, weight loss stuff isn't hard from a logical standpoint. Like...I know what to do. I just don't always do it. What I'm learning from meditation and from The Food Therapist is that there's a disconnect between my intentions and the actions I'm willing to take. And I need to do some serious work to close that intention/action gap.

I'm grateful for the meditation and the book and, more than anything, my willingness to continue to explore and grow and learn and try to find the right ways to improve and understand my relationship with food. 

Volunteer 1x/month: I volunteered in three different capacities this month.

Guys. I went so far outside my comfort zone on my first one. I made calls on behalf of the Conor Lamb for Congress Campaign on March 12th. I knew when I made the goal to volunteer at least once a month, that I would have to do something that contributed to flipping the House in November. When I saw the opportunity to make calls for the Conor Lamb campaign appear in a Swing Left email, I knew I just had to do it.

The organization made it so easy to volunteer. I signed up on some website, they emailed me instructions and a script and then when it was time to make calls, I logged into a website and calls were auto-magically sent to my cell phone! As someone who has managed and made a ton of calls for large outbound call campaigns for work (both related to the 3-Day and way back in the day when my love of calling strangers began at the UNH Alumni), I was fascinated and impressed by the technology.

I was incredibly nervous about something answering the phone or asking me any in depth questions. Apart from Pod Save America and Swing Left emails, I hadn't actually ever heard of Conor Lamb more than like a week or so before I started making the calls. I didn't know much about him. And I certainly knew nothing about his opponent...including how to pronounce his freaking name! I was Not Qualified to make these calls. But I read the information I received, I went online to Conor Lamb's website, and I just did the best I could. And you know what? It was fine! I survived. I had fun. I recalled a lot of really fun memories making calls like this in my past (hi Lindsay!). I spoke with some interesting people. It felt really amazing to contribute to the change I want to see in this country. And when Conor Lamb won it felt really freaking cool to know that I played a very small part in his very big win! I'll definitely do something like this again.

I did another stint with Food Forward at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market on March 14th. In the post-volunteer Food Forward email, I learned that we collected 816 pounds of fresh, local produce and donated 100% to Groceryships, Mother's Kitchen, PATH Villas at Del Rey, SMC Students Feeding Students, Step Up on Second and St. Joseph Center. Below are two of the people I volunteered with grabbing some of the full boxes from the farmers that we weighed and then handed over to the organizations to use to feed people who need this food the most:

It was a beautiful day and I'm enjoying volunteering with Food Forward and plan on this being something I do once a month.

The last thing I did was write postcards to voters! I've been wanting to do this particular volunteer opportunity for a while now but I never got around to making it happen. No more! I learned through someone on Twitter (who replied to a tweet I wrote about making calls for Conor Lamb) where to go to get more information (that would be right here). You sign up on the website, they email you instructions, you write a sample postcard, take a photo for approval and once approved, they email you additional instructions and the addresses of your first five postcards. When you get those out the door, you can text Abby the Address Bot who will send more addresses for whatever campaigns we're currently writing postcards on behalf of. I've only done five so far, but again, it feels good to be part of the movement.

Plus, I purchased 100 postcards and hope that between now and November, all of them will be sent to potential voters to Flip the House! 

So...that was month five! It went by quickly and there was a lot going on. I feel mentally exhausted by a lot of it, so our little road trip is well-timed.

I'm looking forward to seeing all that happens in month six!


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