Monday, July 11, 2016

This body...

This body went to the gym today for the first time since early April. Today was once again Day 1.



This body has lost much, if not all, of the strength and endurance I had worked to gain throughout this past winter. As a result this body weighed in heavier today than Day 1 back in October, which shouldn't surprise me since I'm also wearing a size larger than I was at that point.

This body is what a 227 pound size 18 looks like on my 5 foot 7.5 inch 41 year-old skeleton. This body has weighed less as an adult. It has also weighed more as an adult. Since having kids (because that's a game changer people) it has worn every size from 12 to 24, though I'm most comfortable in it when it can comfortably wear a size 14 and the scale consistently hovers in the 175-185 range.

This body had to participate in an annual wellness screening for our insurance this spring and didn't score too well in a few of the areas. It has a great resting heart rate, maintains a healthy level of blood pressure, and does a good job of regulating it's blood sugar levels. It carries too much fat, having consistently measured at an overweight to obese level for pretty much its whole adult life, and tends to have an elevated cholesterol level regardless of what I feed it or how much I do or do not move it on a regular basis.

This body has allowed me to do some pretty amazing things. It carried and birthed our 2 amazing daughters. It's peddled hundreds of miles all over the state of Iowa. It has helped me make a living as a fitness professional helping others care for their own bodies. It has allowed me to practice and teach thousands of hours of yoga. It has hiked me many, many miles through the beauty of nature. It has helped me build things and garden and create crafty things. It has many, many times helped me dance the night away. It has loved, and been loved, by the most dear people. It has been both the recipient, and the giver, of an uncountable number of hugs. It has done everything I've ever asked it to do, taken lots of abuse in the process, and despite the aches and pains that are a result of all that doing, it willingly continues to carry me into whatever next adventure my little brain decides should be tackled next.

So why, why when I know all the amazing things my body has allowed me to experience and knowing all that it is capable of if I take the time to care for it properly, why can't I just regularly keep up with the work that I know I need to do to be comfortable in my own skin? Why do I have to get to a point of being so uncomfortable and frustrated with what my body is NOT able to do before I start to pick up the pieces to start to work back to a more comfortable place? Why, when I support so whole-heartedly the work being done by so many good people (like here, and here, and here and here and here) to promote body acceptance and health at all ages and sizes, why can't I myself make my health and love for my own body a top priority? How can I teach my daughters about healthy self care and having a self-loving inner dialogue when I can't consistently practice what I hope to teach?

I realize the answers to these questions are not simple or 1 dimensional. They are not just about exercising more and eating less. They are influenced by my genes; by my mental and emotional health; by the roller coaster of exercise and dietary habits I've observed through my 41 years of life; by the fact my body is changing with age in ways that require me to re-learn how to best care for it; by the activities cycle a modern mid-western family experiences during the stage of life we're currently living; by all the internal dialogue that is a constant stream of noise that runs through my head about what I should or should not be doing "at my age", or how people may or may not perceive me, or how much of a failure I am at practicing a healthy, active lifestyle when both my education and experience in the wellness field affords me an advantage not many who struggle with finding comfort in their own bodies have.

I find it GREATLY frustrating that after so many years of doing work, physically and emotionally, to live and promote health focused lifestyles, I still find myself on days like today uncomfortably huffing and puffing through a very basic workout while fighting back tears of mental frustration and disappointment. It is hard for me not to be angry with myself. It would be really easy to pass the blame on the stresses of life and the influences of my environment for my current state of discomfort with my health and fitness level. I will admit that sometimes I take the easy way out and use those excuses as justification for my less than healthy habits, but when it comes down to it, deep down I know it is in large part due to personal choices and how those choices can support or sabotage my body's own natural genetic tendencies. My body naturally wants to be a little on the fluffy side. It's naturally a little lazy. It tends to be a little depressed and hormonally out of whack. But this body also likes to feel challenged. It's strong and it actually likes sweat. It feels the most free, the most naturally content, when it's moving.

As frustrated and disappointed in myself as I am today, I still have hope. And passion. And I'm super stubborn. (Or so I have been told.) I know that I can choose differently with my health in mind. I have the physical ability. I have the moral support. I have the access and the knowledge. And at 41, I have the perspective to know this work is not about the number on the scale or the size on my swimsuit. It's about being the healthiest, most comfortable I can be in this 1 body that I have been given to experience all that life has to offer...for as long as I am a living soul on this planet.

This body did Day 1 at the gym again today and is going to get reacquainted with my favorite yoga mat again tomorrow. Regardless of how frustrated I am today, change can't happen without a Day 1.


peace

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Slowly Summer...

We are almost a full 3 weeks into summer. It is taking me a bit longer than normal to find my summer groove this year. I seem to have misplaced my motivation to tackle my normal summer project list. Our relocated garden boxes remain un-planted. The backyard flowerpots have been filled with simple combinations of inexpensive, easy to care for annuals. Weeds have been pulled, or not, depending on the location. Plans for building new wooden chairs for our deck have been read, and re-read, but no building has been done. While I'm trying to be gentle with myself as I know beating myself up over what I'm NOT accomplishing is going to do any good towards getting SOMETHING accomplished this summer, it seems our more casual weeks of summer are moving at a quicker pace than ever this year. If I don't get off my ass and get some shit done, I'm going to run out of time!

Just before the end of the school year, a dear friend asked if I would be willing to tackle a knitting project for her, these cute sheep themed hats that she hopes to gift to her sheep showing daughters this coming Christmas. Even though I have never done stranded color work before, I decided maybe the challenge of learning something new might help me loose the funk that's been hanging around for far too long this past year. Once we FINALLY decided on a color scheme (who knew that was going to take 2 crafters so long to determine) I ordered the yarn. It arrived on my doorstep last Friday and I cast-on on Monday. (I took supplies with me to possibly cast on over the weekend while we did some camping, but it was HOT, and so is wool.) I'm almost to the end of the ribbed band and ready to join in the second color to start building the snowy, sheepy scene. As nervous as I am at the thought of keeping, at times, 3 different working strands of yarn in order, I'm also really excited to watch the sheep grow a little with each round of work. We are getting ready for a road trip and I am hoping to have at least 1 finished hat by the time we return home and a good start on the second thanks to the miles and miles of familiar Iowa and Nebraska countryside that we will be driving through on some of the longest daylight days of the year.


Speaking of camping, we have become travel trailer camper owners. As much as I wanted to remain a die hard tent camper, I have to admit the ease and comfort of the camper has already gotten us out to camp more in the past 6 weeks than in all the YEARS we have lived in Carlisle and have talked about doing more camping as a family. And it has been great! Having our oldest child getting ready to make the transition to high school in the fall has kinda smacked us in the face with the realization that the number of "somedays" are very quickly decreasing. It's become very clear that if we don't stop putting things off until we have more time/more money/less stress, the opportunity to enjoy some of the experiences we wish to share as a family before our kids are grown will be past us! We have taken Campy (what we have lovingly named our little 18 foot bunkhouse camper) out 3 times already this spring and are so, so, SOOOOO glad we made the decision to purchase him. He's small, and now that we've had him out a couple of things we will choose differently with our next camper, but he does the job and is a great first camper to have for these camper owning newbies. In addition to adding Campy to our lives, my family gifted me "permission" to purchase a kayak or standup paddle board for Mother's Day. I have been window shopping them on the internet for quite a while having so enjoyed the paddling experiences I've had over the past several years. I decided to get a tandem sit on top kayak so that I could enjoy my love of quietly gliding across the water with my family (and friends) instead of always going out alone. While I am still eyeing standup paddle boards everywhere I go and know I will be adding on to my toy chest in the future, I am glad that for now we went with Stella our yak. We were finally able to get her in the water this past weekend, and it was a perfect afternoon of sharing some paddle time with each of my loves.


My house...not clean. A small building project I decided to start last week...slowly, slowly making progress. Working to promote my Perfectly Posh business...not happening. But I've gotten a start on finding my happier, more inspired summer self, and that is a positive not to be overlooked!


peace

Friday, May 20, 2016

Surviving...

I've simply been living life in survival mode as of late.

  • School activities are drawing to an end, as are the attention spans of the students.

  • Summer activities are starting to need planning/attention.

  • The yard is already in full grow mode, both things we want growing and those we don't.
  • I look around our house and all I see is the grime and clutter that has accumulated throughout the school year, knowing I need to give it some of my attention in the first weeks of summer. 

Survival mode is not a healthy mode for me. I'm not eating well. I'm not exercising regularly. I'm staying up too late cherishing the quiet of the hours just after my family head to bed to just BE and to get lost for a bit in the world of a book before having to get up and repeat the craziness for another day.

I know I am not alone in my struggle. Walking down the hallway at school I can see the exhaustion of the end of the year settling on other's faces. WE are ALL in survival mode at this point of the school year. It's just kinda part of the great educational cycle unfortunately.

Keeping perspective on life in survival mode is sometimes really hard for me. Little challenges often appear larger than they are, and bigger challenges seem all consuming at times. I'm trying to focus on enjoying the best of what each day has to offer, knowing that if I don't try to find those little sparkles of light in my days right now, the struggles will pull me under.

It's at times like this week that I want to hug my little family even closer than normal. I'm also thankful for others who openly share their own struggles with keeping a healthy perspective on life in thoughtful and often humorous ways. Like The Bloggess. (Read her books! They are laugh out loud funny.) And Brittany. (Read her book too. LOVED it.) And Dooce.

Just 1 more week.

I CAN do this.


peace

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Commitment Issues...

When our girls started to get involved in activities, we set a pretty strict one-activity-at-a-time rule. That meant that sometimes activities that went year round were put on hold for a couple of months to allow for another seasonal activity to take center stage. We partially put this rule into place to help balance our family schedule. We also feel it's important for kids to have unscheduled, unstructured time to just be, and to figure out how to self entertain should they find themselves "bored." As our girls get older, and the list of activities available to them expands, it has been harder to stick to our self imposed restriction. Ultimately we knew that was bound to happen given how busy our own schedules once looked as middle school/high school/college students. But during their earliest years, we hope we were able to to help our girls maintain healthy schedules that helped them both enjoy a variety of activities and allowed them to just be kids during their short childhoods

As our girls get more involved, it seems we do as well. Coaching. Chaperoning. Organizing. The more involved we become, as I observe the craziness of so many family schedules, the more I think about how our society's tendency to have kids on the go, go, go affects them long term. As so many of us who have benefited from being involved in a variety of activities during our youth know, those activities help us to learn and grow into strong, confident, resilient adults who are well equipped to deal with all that life throws at you through the years. But I also wonder, is it possible that the current trend of committing youth to so many different simultaneous activities is preventing kids from learning the value of being committed?

I am a firm believer that there is a difference between making a commitment, and being committed. I, for one, am committed to my commitments. (Sometimes, my husband might argue, to the point of me needing to be committed!) I realize it is partially a simple reflection of my personality. I simply do not find value in doing something half-assed. I'm sure it's the part of my being that thrives on passion. But I also believe it is, at least in part, due to the fact that while growing up, I was expected to be fully committed to whatever "in season" activity I was involved. Whether I was part of a team, or a cast, or a performance group, my commitment, mentally and physically, contributed to the great success many of those teams/casts/groups in which I was involved experienced. Yes, I benefited as an individual from my involvement, but none of those teams/casts/groups would have been as successful as we were without the individual commitments of each member. Commitments of time. Commitments of mental focus. Commitments that asked us to stay committed not only when things were easy, running smoothly, comfortable, but also when we faced times that required us to learn to be resilient in the face of struggle and discomfort. No only has being one who commits fully to the activities in which I chose to be involved helped me grow as a person, but it also has helped me to learn the value in saying NO when I'm approached about being involved in an activity to which I do not feel I can be fully committed. In addition to helping me be a stronger, more confident individual, it has helped me learn the value in maintaining a balance between being involved and just being.

This week we attended an orientation night to prepare for Lexi's move from middle school to high school next year. As part of the evening, a variety of activities and groups were present to hand out information to next year's freshmen class members. "Looks good on your college application," was a common theme on many of the handouts and signs that we saw throughout the night. I totally understand the importance of showing one's future educational institution or employer one's diverse interests and skills through the activities in which one is involved in high school. And as I talked with Lexi today as we were finalizing her class selections for next year, high school is really one of the only times in life when she'll have the freedom to explore a wide variety of activities and interests without also having to juggle financial and/or family responsibilities. I encouraged her to explore, explore, EXPLORE. But I also encouraged her to think about how, while she is exploring her diverse interests and talents, she will balance her time so that she can not only commit to teams/casts/groups, but that she can be committed to the activities in which she chooses to get involved.

I'm sure it will be a balance we will continually have to help her, and her sister, find as they continue to learn the great value of being committed to their variety of commitments.


peace

Monday, February 22, 2016

Who are you voting for?

We have a running joke in our house that should a certain potential presidential candidate manage to somehow become our next president, the Mavin family is going to become Canadian.

I'm pretty sure some of us are joking less than others of us.

(I for one am voting for a warmer C word choice. Costa Rico starts with C. Just sayin'.)

Last week I had one of my young students ask me who I was voting for for president. I, as I always do, simply said "I'm not sure yet," to which he then replied with who he and his mom are supporting. Internally cringing, but externally smiling, I simply said "Oh," and moved on to help another student. The very next day, in passing in the hallway, I had a second, slightly older student ask me the exact same question, after which he tried to guess who I would support. He got the same none answer I offered up student #1. Obviously even though the Iowa caucuses are several weeks in the past, political discussions are still very alive and kicking here in good ol' Iowa.

I, generally speaking, try to avoid discussions about politics like the plague. (Which I've established here several times before while talking about politics. Eh.) Partially I really, honestly have very little to ZERO interest in politics. (Which I know some people find appalling. I won't hold that against you.) Partially because more times than not my opinions and the opinions of those around me, be it family or friends, are rarely the same and I don't see any point in participating in argumentative conversations for the simple sake of arguing one's point.

Going through my second presidential election cycle since becoming an elementary school employee, I've learned it's best, at least at the elementary school level, simply not to engage with students in politically based discussions. While I am happy our young students are at some level aware of current affairs, I have sadly heard the nasty, hurtful comments they are so quick to fling at each other when opinions differ. I am sure those comments are simply reflections of conversations they have heard at home, but I still find it disheartening that we as a society are simply ensuring that using hurtful, hateful language in political discussions will continue to be the norm when we engage in those type of conversations with the spongy little absorbent brains of our kiddos hovering around ready to soak it all in for eventual regurgitation. 

I for one choose not to bring that type of language into our home or my learning spaces. I'm still going to believe that it IS possible to have differing opinions and still be kind and respectful to one another. That someday we as a human race will be able to check our egos at the door and recognize the many more ways that we are connected to each other and to the world around us, rather than focus on the very few differences that we currently allow to stand in the spotlight to justify our hurtful, harmful words and actions towards others. That by practicing compassion and respectfully agreeing to disagree, sensible compromises can be made that benefit our society, and our planet, as a whole.

Who knows, come this time next year, depending on what happens in November's election, I might find my  home and learning spaces have moved to Canada and/or that my opinion of "local" politics will have changed. I guess we will just have to see how this politically based American comedy of an election year plays out.

(I highly doubt my opinions about politics have much of a chance of shifting anytime soon. Though I'm not giving up hope on talking others into that other, more southerly located,  C location option if we have to find a new country of residence!)


peace