Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Seven Years

I wish that 14 year old me had written down what was going through my mind that week. I wish 14 year old me had bothered to document it so that maybe 21 year old me wouldn't be sitting here right now replaying it in my head just to make sure I never forget. I do this every year. This is the 7th. For each day of the 8 days between February 18th and 25th I sit here and think about my dad. I stop and think of where I was on each day in 2009. So I close my eyes and I picture it...

Day 1: I'm doing homework. Dad says he doesn't feel good; he's sweating and feverish, so I grab the thermometer, but it won't work. I grab a cool rag for his forehead. Dad stumbles down the hallway. Jarrod calls the ambulance. Dad mistakenly tells the paramedics he's not on any medications so I correct him and grab the bottles from the kitchen - something is not right. I call mom 100 times. When she doesn't answer I call everyone else. We all keep calling her. I know there's more to what happened that night, but I wasn't there for it all. I went to bed hoping everything would be okay. Hoping I'd wake up to good news.

Day 2: No good news yet. I go to school and try to pretend it's a normal day, but I know that it's not. I just have to get through the day. After school I'm picked up and we go to the hospital. Dad's been in open heart surgery for over 18 hours. They take us into a room and I can see Mom and I spot a plastic bag of Dad's clothes he had on the night before. Mom says whatever happens we will all stick together.

Day 3 - Day 7: These are the days where the order of events gets foggy. I remember crying and praying in corners of a hospital waiting room. I remember tossing pennies in a fountain wishing for a miracle. I remember sleeping on waiting room furniture and eating pudding from the hospital cafeteria. I remember late nights talking to my sister's friend about my plans for the future while pretending my dad might still be here to see it. I remember running out of the ICU confused and crying because my dad's chest was still cracked open and two plastic hearts were pumping his blood for him. I remember the tubes and machines operating his body for him. I remember not recognizing the look of his face because of the swelling. I remember seeing family pour in from out of town and not being able to decide if I was happy to see them, knowing what their presence might mean. I remember what hope felt like and then I remember it being stripped away hour by hour, day by day. I remember hearing words and phrases that are so painful I wouldn't wish them on any family. I remember seeing my mom talking to doctors and nurses about options. I remember saying goodbye. I remember her telling us "he's gone." The worst phrase of all.

Day 8: We go to the church. We get our ashes for Ash Wednesday. We pick out prayers and songs for the service. We go to the funeral home and the cemetery. We pick out a casket and a plot. We go home, and so does Dad - to be with God.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

To The Girl Who Loves My Ex

Seeing a previous significant other start a new life with someone else can honestly be a different experience for everyone. If it's too close to the breakup you might struggle to accept it. If it's too long after the breakup you might not even notice it. And once in a while you might find yourself at the point of peace. The point where looking at old pictures is actually a fond experience, polite conversation isn't painful, and most of all seeing them commit to someone else makes you genuinely happy for them. You can appreciate what you once had while also understanding why it is no longer yours.

So, to the person who loves him now (or to the person who will love him one day) there are a few things I would like to say...

Thank you. Thank you for giving him all the things I couldn't. Thank you for learning to understand the things about him that I was not capable of understanding. Thank you for having the patience that I didn't quite have. And thank you for loving a person who deserves it, despite his flaws.

And I'm sorry. I'm sure when you hear about our past together it can bring about some pretty uncomfortable emotions, and I'm sorry for that. I'm sorry if old pictures make you so angry you want to print my face out and turn it into a dart board - I don't blame you and if it makes you feel better then go for it. I'm sorry if you think that the mistakes he made with me will be the same ones he will make with you.

Which brings me to, leave the past in the past. If he is honest about his previous mistakes and promises to do better than he did in relationships prior to you - give him that opportunity. We all have our baggage, even you. If you want him to accept yours, then accept his.

And don't sweat it. When old pictures, notes, or general stuff from our time together resurface - don't let them get to your head. They aren't much but old, faded memories now. He didn't hold on to them for any other reasons beyond him simply being messy (have you seen his room?) or he simply valued whatever we had enough to hold on to something to remember it by. It is not meant to indicate that he isn't over me - if he wasn't, you would know it long before you found one of these items.

Just remind yourself that I was the girl who held him at some of his ultimate lows and took a lot of bullshit to teach him how to be ready for you so you could enjoy more of his highs than I got to. I didn't realize then what I know now - I wasn't trying to make him better for me, I was making him better for you. And seeing you happy together means I did just that.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentine's Day

Oh, I know. That old couple holding hands in the grocery store just really threw you over the edge this week. Your 20-something heart just couldn't stand the looks on their faces as you remembered you'll be spending your Valentine's Day alone... again. Proceed to the candy aisle. Go home and crawl into your bed. Grab the tissues, start the rom-com marathon, and... get over yourself.

That's probably not where you thought that was going, but keep reading - there's a point. Historically,  Valentine's Day has been dedicated to people expressing love for their significant other or a potential love interest, but it has evolved over time. The reality is there isn't only one reason to celebrate Valentine's Day anymore. You can celebrate loving yourself, loving your family, or loving your friends. Having a significant other isn't the only thing worth celebrating.

However, the holiday is NOT meant to be a pity party or an opportunity for you to scoff at all of the people who you see in relationships simply out of envy or to prove some point about your independence. You can hate the day all you want, but can you do the rest of us a favor and stop making us feel guilty for celebrating someone special in our lives.

The point is, there's a difference between acknowledging feeling a little lonely and making people who are in relationships feel responsible for your loneliness. When you ask me how I'm spending Valentine's Day (especially when you know I have a boyfriend) then expect to get a really happy answer that includes how romantic the whole thing is going to be. Don't seriously ask and then get annoyed with my response and roll your eyes because, well, YOU ASKED.

And don't try to turn this into a - "Well you just need a man to make you complete and so you have a reason to celebrate." Sorry to burst your bubble, but I don't have a man in my life because I can't survive on my own or because being alone was just too miserable. I have a man in my life because I happened to meet someone who makes me the happiest I have ever been and I thought he deserved a special place in my life. And if that means I want to celebrate a holiday that you think is stupid just because you'd rather pout then celebrate it in your own way - then just remember you're single every other day of the year too.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Ditch Your Crash Diet

The first month of the new year is over. For those of you who had resolutions to lose weight or get well - now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to keep on pushing or to start back up if you already threw in the towel. And for those of you who haven't found a system that works or are looking for something different, I thought it might be nice to give you a great option for stealing your life back from dieting. 

In this post, I will be doing a little Q&A with Andria, a wellness guru and life coach who owns her own business! The best part about Andria's consulting is she isn't just there to hand you a meal plan or work out plan and step back. She coaches you and encourages you through the entire process - helping you build the confidence you need to make a positive change. 

Andria's Spiel

"I was a chronic dieter for 12 years. I would go on a restrictive diet and lose weight, but I would feel so deprived that eventually I wouldn't be able to take the deprivation anymore so I would eat a bunch of food and gain all the weight back. This weight loss/weight gain cycle continued for 12 years.

I wanted to figure out how to solve this, so I went to Kent and got a degree in Nutrition, and within 2 months of graduating I got a wellness coaching certification.

Through what I learned from school and my own personal experiences with dieting, I created a system to break free from dieting yet still lose weight, and tried it on myself. Within a couple months I was free from the dieting mindset, happy, healthy, and the weight came off. It's stayed off since.

Then I took this system and created a business based off of it called End Your Diet & Trust Yourself. I help people realize why restrictive dieting is harmful, help them reconnect with their hunger and fullness cues so they can eat when they're hungry and stop when they're comfortably full, I help them get rid of the negative relationship with food and get rid of the "good" vs "bad" food way of thinking, I help them relearn how to connect with senses when eating, love & respect their bodies throughout this journey, and use nutrition/exercise guidelines in a fun non-restrictive way. 

Basically I help people find a balance between eating healthy, and eating the not so healthy foods in moderation because diets just lead to binge eating. 95% of diets don't work because of this. Since I'm considered a life coach too, I also help people improve other areas of their life, like stress, career, and relationships. Because all areas of our lives are connected and affect our relationship with food." - Andria

Q & A

Q. What makes your program applicable to all lifestyles and types of people? A. I tailor my program to each person because a healthy lifestyle is not just one size fits all. Everyone has a unique make-up, so it’s extremely important to personalize everything to figure out what works best. I do this by getting to know each client—their likes, dislikes, body type, any medical conditions, their current lifestyle, and how far they need to go in order to reach their goals.
Q. When a person pursuing wellness goals or even goals specific to weight-loss, what kind of support does a program like this have for people who get discouraged? A. It’s easy to get discouraged with health and weight loss. I’ve been through all of the twists and turns myself, so I completely understand how it feels when something doesn’t go as planned. One of my main jobs is to pick the client up off the ground when they feel like they’ve failed. Each second is a new opportunity to look at what didn’t work and make changes. My clients can contact me at any time for support and motivation to keep going on this journey. I also make sure each client keeps a progress journal to record everything—this way they can look back and see how far they’ve come. This journey isn’t a straight line—it includes many ups and downs. Each part is important, even the ones that feel like failure. I encourage clients to look at “failures” as opportunities to make something better.

Q. I’ll be honest, I’ll find every excuse in the book not to eat well and work out. What kind of advice would you give a couch potato, cereal-binger like myself? A. The most important thing is to not go from one extreme to the other. This is a huge mistake people make when trying to be healthy—they go from one end of the spectrum (maybe being a couch potato who does not eat healthy) to perfection. This ultimately doesn’t work. I introduce small, gradual improvements weekly. It’s crucial to master one thing before moving on to another so it isn’t overwhelming. For instance, for the first week the client could go from eating no fruit to eating 1 serving of fruit at least 3 days a week; and going from no exercise to walking at least 3 days a week. Then after that, we can gradually increase the fruit consumption and exercise.
Q. How important do you think confidence is in the process? What kind of advice do you have for how to gain confidence back? A. Confidence is always key, but it can be difficult to maintain. The process of becoming healthy is not just about confidence, but an overall mindset. You have to know that your goals are possible. The only thing holding you back is your choices. Once you realize this and build confidence, you can do it. It is hard to keep this mindset, so I’m here to help them regain it when things get tough. It’s also important to revisit your goals and look at how far you’ve come in order to gain back confidence.

Q. 3 top NO-NO’s for trying to lose weight? A. 1) Restrictive diets do not work! Any initial weight loss is water weight and muscle loss. 95% of diets fail because they are too hard to stick to and have rules that are impossible to follow. Gradual changes over time is what gives permanent results. 2) Don’t take advice from sources that are not credited. The internet is full of incorrect information. This is why it’s extremely important to seek the help of someone who is actually qualified and knows what they are talking about. It can be very dangerous to follow guidelines from unqualified sources. 3) Don’t try to go for perfection with eating or exercise. This causes cravings to build up until you can’t take it anymore and then you binge, causing the weight to come back. Strive to be healthy 80% or more of the time, but allow yourself some room to enjoy treats.
Q. Any other additional comments. A. The journey to health/weight loss is not quick or easy! Great things take time. We’ve become so accustomed to trying quick fixes. But just because it takes time and effort doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!

Bottom line here is if you keep crash dieting just to end up right back where you were, maybe it's time to end your diet and trust yourself! Visit Andria's website for more information!