Day 1 – I Got Goals

The first day of 2019 started just like the last day of 2018–lying in bed, trying to soak up a few extra moments of sleep before getting out of bed, trying to soak up the last moments of laziness left in this holiday break. But even if the days are largely indistinguishable outside the numbers on the calendar, there is something exciting about the beginning of a new year. The next 365 days stretch out before me with the unblemished smoothness of a field of fresh fallen snow. I’m holding a blank notebook in my hand, and I’m excited to see what sort of adventures will unfold.

If we’re taking a bird’s eye view, I’d say 2018 was a pretty good year. (But you know I default to optimism). We finally finished the renovation project on our investment property. The kiddos are both healthy and doing well in school. Stevie got to spend a few days in New Orleans (even if it was for a work conference instead of a vacation or our long-awaited honeymoon). And I had the opportunity to step into an exciting new role at work.

But all that said, there’s still plenty of room for improvement (there always is). And there is a definite need to find some balance. The kids are hitting an age where we’re busy with activities. Cadence is currently involved in swim team, piano and guitar lessons, and wants to do dance team at school next year. Henry is starting soccer in January. And 2018 was definitely a year where Stevie and I both felt pulled in a few too many directions–bringing work home nights and weekends, serving on committees, playing in sports leagues, volunteering. The new year gives us an opportunity to try and find that balance–to scale back where we need to scale back and to tackle some new challenges.

For me, regaining balance means setting aside the time to do the things that feed my soul.

It also means protecting that time.

My writing has always been the thing that keeps me balanced, yet it’s always the first thing that gets shoved aside by…well…by anything and everything else that comes along. I’m constantly back burnering projects, using work or kids or other obligations as an excuse to push my writing to the bottom of my priority list. Neglecting my writing and shutting down that creative outlet always ends up taking a toll. So, that’s where my focus will be in 2019. Well, that and continuing to work on getting physically healthier–that’s aways a work in progress.

So, here are the goals I set for myself:

  1. Write something every day – Even if it’s just one sentence, I’m committing to putting pen to paper every day in 2019 and I’m going to fire up this blog again to help hold myself accountable. Brace yourselves.
  2. Write one letter a week – There’s something fabulous about a handwritten letter, and I’ve been seriously neglecting keeping in touch with some of the people I love the most who live far away. So, I’m going to spur my writing momentum by choosing one person each week and send a handwritten note.
  3. Read one book a week – Cadence had an assignment over the holiday break that included counting all the books in the house. There are 1,571. Call me crazy, but I’m ridiculously proud that we have cultivated such a library. But at the same time, I’m ashamed that the busyness of life has stunted my reading just as much as it has my writing. So, I’m recommitting to reading by challenging myself to read one book every week in 2019. I’ve already got a few lined up, and I’m ready to dive in.
  4. Exercise for 30 minutes each day – Walking, using the rowing machine in the basement, Insanity, fitness apps, yoga…doesn’t really matter what it is, I’m committed to getting in better shape this year. In 2018, I managed to shed almost 15 pounds just by paying closer attention to what I eat and cutting down on sugar and empty calories. Now it’s time to get my ass moving.

How about you? Got some goals for the new year? Share your goals in the comments and we can be accountabilibuddies!

Alright 2019, let’s get this started!

Operation Fitness

Growing up, I was a very active child. I spent more time outside than inside when I wasn’t in school or sleeping. And summer vacations were either spent at the local swimming pool, or cruising around town on my bike or rollerblades. I played softball, basketball, volleyball. I went out for track (but stuck to high jump, long jump, and discus because I hated running). I walked to school, unless it was freezing or pouring rain, right up until I got my driver’s license my junior year of high school.

But even if I was fit and relatively healthy for much of my life, somewhere along the line, it all just went off the rails. It’s something I’ll explore much more in depth in my memoir project, but sometime during middle and high school, I developed a very deep and inexplicable loathing for what I saw when I looked in the mirror. During high school and college, that manifested as an eating disorder and some seriously self-destructive behavior. Looking back, I can only thank my friends and family, my team of therapists, and God for bringing me back from the brink of it. Left to my own devices, the end results would certainly not have been so pretty.

For years afterward, I shied very far away from any sort of dieting or fitness crazes. I had to. Once you’ve gone down the rabbit hole of anorexia and self-loathing, I don’t think you ever leave it behind, not completely. Instead, you have to stay vigilant, checking in on it now and then and making sure you’re doing what’s necessary to keep it dormant. But now, 14 years and 2 kids later, I’m a good 30 pounds heavier than I have ever been, and it’s really starting to get old.

I’m not looking to make any drastic changes. Those never seem to last anyway. But what I can do is get my butt in gear and incorporate some more exercise into my daily routine (which I started tonight with a little strength training and yoga), and to start making a few healthier choices throughout the day. I mean, it’s not like I’m constantly eating total garbage, but I do need to cut the cereal and ice cream habit that has carried over since my pregnancy cravings with Henry.

And just because I’m a goal-oriented person, here’s my awful “before” photo to give me a little motivation.

Let’s get this party started.

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Let’s Get Physical

And so it begins…

My new fitness tracker arrived today. Time to get depressed when I see just how inactive I am during the course of the day.

I gotta say, one of the worst things about leaving New York is not being able to walk most of the places that I want to go. It was easy to be relatively fit. Here, if I want to get anywhere in any respectable amount of time (especially if I’m hauling the kids in tow), I have to drive my car. Add that to a job where I’m at the desk for most of the day, a baby that I have to sit down and feed, and the unrelenting exhaustion that settled over me about 36 hours after Henry was born–yeah, I’m living the very definition of a sedentary lifestyle these days and it’s frustrating the hell out of me.

So, I’m hopping on the fitness tracker train. I figure the best way to motivate myself is to slap myself in the face with just how much I’m NOT doing and push myself to do more.

I’ve always been the goal-oriented type.

So, let’s get tracking. Here’s to a healthier 2016!

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New Year. New Start. New Project

Right now, millions of people are hugging and kissing and popping bottles of champagne as they ring in yet another new year. I’m sitting in my living room, my hubby and hound dog beside me, my babies sleeping soundly upstairs as I listen to fireworks popping off in the distance.

And I’ll tell you the truth, folks, there is no place I would rather be.

I mean, I get why people get so crazy as they count down the seconds and watch that big ol’ ball dropping in Times Square. It’s a new year, a brand new beginning…even if it is really just another day, another tick tocking past midnight, another series of moments that might pass as quickly and unceremoniously as the rest. It’s really nothing more than a symbol, a man made tradition to mark the passing of time and the turning of another calendar page. But what it gives us is hope, and hope is really the most important thing we have to hold onto.

I’ve never gotten really crazy about celebrating on New Year’s Eve. When I was a kid, it was an excuse to stay up past midnight. In my teens, I often spent the night babysitting kids in my neighborhood while their parents went out to party. During my years in college and living in New York, I hung out with friends and rang in the New Year cheering on my hubby (then boyfriend/fiance) as he tried to bring home the coveted beer pong championship belt and drinking champagne on the roof of Romoser Hall.

And as for resolutions…I’m not really a big believer in them. Most people don’t even manage to make it out of January with their resolutions in place because, let’s face it, anything you think you’re resolute about when the clock strikes midnight and you’re shit-faced and singing and feeling rather invincible tends to get quickly forgotten or modified when you wake up the next morning with a wicked hangover and a whole long list of the same old responsibilities. So no, I don’t really go for New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I tend to start each year with a couple challenges for myself, or a few goals I’d like to reach in the next year, and as long as I keep making strides in the right direction, I consider it a personal victory.

A year ago, I challenged myself to reach two goals: 1) Figure out how to make NY-style pizza and 2) Finish my memoir. I crossed the NY-style pizza off my list a couple months ago (and I have to admit, I’m pretty damn proud of myself for that one). As for the memoir…well, that’s still a work in progress, so I’ll roll that one right over to 2016.

So, here’s what I’ll be working on in 2016:

1. My memoir – I’m still in draft stage, and need to dive back in and really commit to the project. With so many other things happening in my life (my job, my family, a new baby, travel, housework, sleep), it has gotten way too easy for me to just put the project aside. So my goal this year is to work on two chapters a month, and to post at least once a week on the project’s Facebook page. If you’d like to follow along on Facebook, you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/InASeaOfStrangers

2. My writing – Outside of the memoir work, I really need to start writing regularly again, whether it is just journaling, freelancing, writing letters to friends/family, or blogging. To help keep myself motivated (and keep writing, keep writing, keep writing), I’m committing to another 365 Project here on my blog in 2016. I’m going to post something every day. It might not always be the most interesting read or the best photo, but it will be something that captured my attention and that I want to share, even if it’s just one word or one photo. And it starts right now.

3. My body – After two babies and a whole lot of slacking on even the most basic fitness, I’m seriously out of shape and hating it. Finding balance when it comes to my body image and self-esteem has always been a huge challenge for me, and I know I need to be mindful about making healthy choices to achieve my weight loss and fitness goals. So, to help ease myself into it, I’m jumping on the fitness tracker craze. I’m sure there will be more to come, so stay tuned.

4. My connections – There is really nothing more important to me than the people I love, but sometimes with all the other plans and obligations and distractions of daily life, I feel like I fall short in showing these people just how much they mean to me. So, this year, I’m also challenging myself to be a better wife, a better mother, a better sister, a better friend…hell, I’m challenging myself to be a better person. I’m challenging myself to be more present, to connect and reconnect whether it is through a face-to-face conversation, a text, an email, a handwritten note, or even a smile and a quick hello to the people I pass on the street.

It’s been one helluva year. All in all, I’d have to rank 2015 as one of the best so far. It certainly wasn’t without its hardships. There were plenty of those, believe me. But maybe I’m a little older, a little wiser, a little less concerned with the penny ante bullshit and a lot more focused on the things that really matter, because all those difficult things just sort of faded away and made all the really great things that much more amazing. And as I sit here in my cozy living room, listening to the fireworks, surrounded by the people I love the most in the whole, wide world, I am so very thankful and excited to see what 2016 has in store for me.

Bring it.

And here’s a little hound dog selfie to help ring in the new year…

Hound dog selfie

Fitting in my skin

Anyone who met me after my late high school and college years would probably never guess that I once battled an eating disorder. Looking back now on that period of my life, I can recognize it for what it truly was.

It was never really about food. It never is, I suppose.

It was just one more way to torture myself, one more way to try and make the physical pain on the outside match up with the emotional pain on the inside. The more things went right in my life, the more hellbent I was on destroying them.

My friend, Betty, told me once that it was like I was choosing from a Chinese food menu, the way I seemed to pick new ways to hurt myself. It’s true–my appetite for destruction was once insatiable. I chose one option and then moved onto another as soon as it stopped satisfying me.

I slept until I was forced to wake up. I starved until I was forced to eat. I drank until my stomach protested and people began to notice. I got high until I ran out of drugs. I hung out with and dated guys until they actually started getting serious about me. I tortured myself until I couldn’t hide the scars.

I moved back and forth through the menu, either finding some new way to hurt myself or moving back to one I’d tried before. I slept. I drank. I burned. I cut. I got stoned. I starved. I lied. And I pushed away the people I loved the most.

And what did I do in between? I went to class. I had conversations. I went out. I spent time with friends. I talked to Betty and played with her children. I worked.

I lived, just like everyone else.

The eating disorder was just another symptom of my emotional trauma and self-loathing. At the worst of it, in the midst of the binge drinking and the marijuana-fueled mania and the anorexia, I was tipping the scales at just under 95 pounds.

Let me tell you something, folks, 95 pounds on this frame is anything but attractive. I could have had a walk-on roll in season three of The Walking Dead and played a very convincing decaying zombie.

It took a lot of therapy, a lot of love and support and time spent working on myself to repair and damage and rebuild my life. But I made it, and I’m better for it, and I can look back now and appreciate the view.

For the longest time, I was afraid that everything I put myself and my body through in my adolescence and early adulthood would haunt me later, and yet somehow I’ve emerged from it all relatively unscathed. I have battle scars for sure, but they are superficial, and I think I’m a much calmer, wiser, and more intuitive person because of my experiences. I can sit here today, happily married, the mother of a sweet and sassy 4-year-old, surrounded by friends and family, happy with my life and my career, knowing deep in my heart that all is as it should be.

Am I perfect, or perfectly comfortable in my skin? No, not really. And maybe I never will be. I’ve got about 30 pounds of extra weight I’ve been carrying around since Cadence was born that I’ve set a goal to finally get rid of. But that’s okay, because I’m at a place in my life where I can do it and be healthy and feel good about myself. And if I have to do it one ass-kicking dance workout at a time, so be it.

Yeah, I got this.

lori

Insanity, Romano-style

So Steven and I finally decided to dive in. We’re tired of being overweight and out of shape. We held onto our membership to the YMCA for a year, but just couldn’t seem to get into a good rhythm or keep ourselves motivated. Plus, it didn’t help that immediately after we moved, Cadence started going through some severe separation anxiety and wouldn’t allow us to leave her side for more than three minutes at a time.

Hard to get a good sweaty workout done in three minutes.

So, we’ve been trying to figure out what we wanted to do.

During one of my late night photo-editing sprees, I happened upon the Insanity infomercials and I was intrigued. Then, a fellow blogger that I follow started Insanity herself, and I figured that was my sign to give it a go. You can read about her experience HERE.

Of course, I know that any exercise regiment is only as good as what you put into it. Hell, I bought into the Tae-Bo craze back in high school, and it kept me in great shape for sports until I fizzled out. In college and shortly after, I was a big fan of the 8-Minute workout videos. I tell you, you don’t think 8 minutes sounds like a lot, but damn those videos will make your muscles burn, and they kept me in pretty good shape.

Since then, I haven’t really kept up with anything. Life just seems to get in my way. It’s too hot out. Cadence is crabby. I’m too tired. I’ve got sessions to edit or articles to finish to meet deadlines. There’s always an excuse.

This time, Steven and I have decided to go for it as a team. We ordered Insanity, set our clocks for 6:00 am, and this morning we began.

It was, in a word, insane.

Seriously folks. All we really did today was the “fit test”–a series of stretches and exercises that we counted to see how many we could actually do in the allotted time–and it kicked our asses. No joke. We were both lying on the floor in the garage in our own personal pools of sweat by the time it ended.

The results of my fit test are in…I am not fit.

I gotta say though, I’ve felt pretty good all day. Yeah, I’m tired and my muscles feel sort of exhausted and gelatinous, but it’s a great feeling, an accomplished feeling, and I always love that.

So, we’ll see where this journey takes us. We recorded our measurements and our weight and the results of our fit test today. In two weeks, I’ll post them alongside some updates and we’ll see if there’s any difference. For now, the difference is that it’s 9:00 and I’m beat, and tomorrow I’ll be waking with the sunrise to start the Insanity all over again.

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