My Struggle with Addiction

Welcome back!  Just to recap, my last blog post was about what it was like being the sister of an addict.  I wanted to share it because it was a big part of my life for nearly a decade.  More importantly, though, is my sister’s story behind her struggle with addiction.  She has been through a lot. It’s hard to turn over a new leaf.  It’s hard to turn your life around.  But I can only imagine that all of that pales in comparison to airing it out for everyone to read.  It takes guts.  It takes courage.  It takes someone with a heart who wants to help others.  ❤  Heather, take it away!! 

Let me start off by saying that I never thought it would be me. I never thought I would become a slave to drugs. It’s hard to put into words the pain and suffering one goes through during addiction. I know for myself, even my lowest of lows was not enough for me to get my act together. Nothing anyone could ever say or do could make me want to change. Looking back, I see how my behaviors could have foreshadowed the rough years ahead. 

I have always had the characteristics of someone with an addictive personality. When I was younger, I would lie about the silliest things, I would always do things in excess, I always wanted instant gratification and I was a master manipulator. I always felt different- I didn’t feel like all of the other kids. Instead of focusing on what normal kids should focus on, I was always too busy worrying about what others thought, I tried way too hard to fit in and I was overly sensitive to what other people said about me. 

My long run with drugs started when I was 18 years old. I had dabbled in stuff when I was in middle and high school, and I definitely tried more than the average kid,  but it wasn’t a serious habit…yet. At the time, I was dating Boyfriend #1 who was addicted to Oxycontin. I did not understand what that was or what withdrawals were. Either he was great at hiding it, or I was just super oblivious and naive. Regardless, when I found out, I was shocked and disgusted. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that someone could give everything up for drugs. How could someone do that? How could someone lie and steal from their family? How could they spend every last dollar they had for a fix? I hate to admit it, but I used to look down on addicts at that time in my life. It was hard for me to empathize with something I just couldn’t relate to. 

I stayed with Boyfriend #1 hoping I could change him and show him that he didn’t need drugs. Well, it wasn’t long until I decided to give it a try. There’s this saying in AA  “if you hang out in a barber shop long enough, you’re going to get a cut”. Even though I didn’t do hard drugs, I still hung around with people that did. It was only a matter of time before I joined them.  I remember trying a half a pill, throwing up my dinner, and having a headache. It further solidified my idea that pills were gross. Time went on, me and Boyfriend #1 broke up, and I ended up meeting a new guy, same problem. 

I’d like to point out that even though I wasn’t physically addicted to any drugs at this time, I definitely was no angel. I would smoke weed everyday, dabble in coke and ecstasy, and I started getting into adderall. I suffered from an eating disorder that I was unaware I had, and I was an absolute terror to my family. No one wanted to be around me and I don’t blame them. I had no respect for anyone or anything. I did not care about how my actions would affect those around me. 

It was with Boyfriend #2 that I tried pills again for the second time. I remember a good friend of our’s was coming to the house and she brought them with her. He looked at me and asked if he could do one. I don’t know why that day was different but I responded “yes as long as I can split it with you”. And so we did. And I loved it. I don’t know why that day was different and I always wondered if it had gone like the first time, would I have still gone down such a dark, destructive path. 

You see, I didn’t understand the consequences of my actions. I didn’t know it was going to turn out the way it did. I hate when people say “well, you knew trying it that it was addictive.” And while yes that is true, I  had the “it won’t be me” attitude. My dad used to tell me “Heather, you’re consequences will get bigger as you get older.” And he was right. 

That relationship lasted a little over a year and shortly after I found Boyfriend #3. Boyfriend #3 was not an addict but he certainly didn’t help. I didn’t have a job and he sold weed so I relied on him completely to survive. He would hold it over my head, use drugs as a bribe, and enabled my behavior. It was with this boyfriend that I was held at gunpoint…twice. These kids around the neighborhood where we were living heard about what was in the house and decided they wanted it. The first time, we were all getting together for a friend’s birthday. At around 3 in the morning the birthday boy decided to go home so it was rather odd that he came right back in the door. Well, following behind him were two men in masks with guns. I was sleeping at the time and got woken up by a guy screaming and pointing a gun at me. He dragged me out of bed into the living room where I saw everyone else huddled on the ground with their hands over their heads. I remember being so scared. I had no idea if that night was going to be my last. They ended up running everyone’s pockets and leaving. A week or so went by and it happened again. Boyfriend #3 and I were sleeping when it happened. The same fear and panic came over me. They rummaged through the room, took what they wanted, and left. 

For most people those two scenarios would be enough to take a look at their lives, But not me. I went through another 5 years of hell. I felt trapped in a cycle that I couldn’t get out of. 

I remember going to detox for the first time to get help. I had tried an outpatient program before but I wasn’t willing to let go of my old friends and behaviors. This time I really wanted it to be different. Lauren took me to St. Charles emergency room so I could be admitted. I was covered by Medicaid and they only covered two days. If anyone knows anything about detoxing from opiates, two days is not enough. I ended up staying clean off of opiates for two weeks before relapsing. 

The second time I took a bit more drastic measures. Boyfriend #3 and I were on the brink of breaking up because he feared for my life. He reached out to my dad to come talk to me. They both sat there and told me I needed help. Any time before that if you would have tried telling me I needed any help I would have come up with a thousand reasons why you were wrong. This time I knew they were right and I admitted it. 

I had a good friend who went down to Florida to get sober. She seemed to be doing well and getting her act together. I figured if she could do it, I could do it and that was the decision that changed the direction of my life. 

Within a week of the sit-down talk with Boyfriend #3 and my dad, I was on the plane down to Florida. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my dads car, already going through withdrawals. I flew down to Florida with one suitcase and $23 my dad gave me before boarding. While I was waiting for my bag at baggage claim I debated on whether to run. I don’t know where I thought I was running to but that was my natural instinct when I was afraid. 

I am so happy I didn’t run because it was the start to a new life. I went through the 30-day program and moved into a halfway house. I got a job (my favorite one to date) and started to rebuild my life. For once I could finally see myself having a future filled with happiness, love, my family and friends. 

I did really well down in Florida for a while until I experienced something traumatic. I was dating Jono. Things were going really well until he unexpectedly passed away. After that, I just couldn’t cope and reverted back to my old ways. I started using again to numb the pain. I felt like it was okay because I knew why I was using. Well because of that action, I lost my job that I loved and nearly all of my friends. That last run took everything out of me. I had known a better, more amazing way of life and I turned away from it. I felt guilty and ashamed and like a total loser. Shortly after Jono died, Jonathan and I got together. Just a few months into our relationship, I got pregnant. 

At the time, I was an absolute mess. I remember looking at the pregnancy test and seeing “positive”. I cried a lot. I was very scared. I knew what I had to do. I would be damned if I had a child and could not take care of it. The next day, I reached out for help. It is because of that help that I am able to be a mother to my child today. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, saw the potential that I couldn’t see, and kept pushing me to keep going. 

At 8 months pregnant we decided to move back up north to be closer to family and on September 15, 2018 Zoey Faith was born. This little girl has no idea what she has done for me. I call her my lifesaver because she literally saved my life. Everyday she teaches me something new and makes being her mother an absolute joy.

As much as I would love to tell you why I became addicted to drugs, I don’t think I can really pinpoint a certain reason. I feel like for myself, it was a combination of how my brain is wired, exterior circumstances, and the feelings I wanted to escape from. I believe some people are just born with an addictive personality and others go through certain experiences in their lives that can turn them in that direction. I can tell you that I have lost a lot along the way – friends, money, self-love, etc. but I have gained a lot too.  My hope is that I can take the lessons addiction has taught me and help other women. If you or a loved one you know is struggling with addiction, I am here to talk. Also, below, I have listed a few resources. 

SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255

www.drugabuse.gov

 

Taking Control of Your Body & Mind

Let’s take a trip down memory lane… For a long time I was in a vicious cycle of overeating, gaining weight, and feeling like crap.  I  was completely out of control- and not just with my weight or what I was putting into my mouth, but with everything.  I didn’t even realize that something wasn’t right. All I knew was that didn’t like the way I looked in clothes and I was constantly comparing myself and my body to others.  I was very insecure.  It wasn’t a good look.

I hate that I wasted the better part of my 20’s feeling so badly about myself and my body.  Unfortunately, I can’t go back and change what was, so my hope in sharing this is to shake you awake if you feel this way right now.  Taking control of my health was the very first step for me in becoming who I am today.  It gave me more confidence because I proved to myself that I could do something BIG.  And when I say big, I’m talking about the way I shifted my mindset regarding food.  Losing weight can be super easy once you put your mind to it.  The challenge really starts when you reach your goal weight– you have to figure out how to maintain it!  It requires changes to your diet, your movement and most importantly your mindset. And THAT is a big deal.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back on it I was using food for all the wrong reasons.  I was using it as a coping mechanism.  Nervous?  Eat.  Anxious?  Eat.  Angry?  Eat.  Sad?  Eat.  And that isn’t an uncommon theme.  A lot of people do that.  And that’s OK… sometimes.  But you can’t use food as a way to deal with every emotion you ever have (uhh, hi, old me).

Think about the actual purpose of food for one second– food is measured in calories and calories are energy.  Calories are meant to fuel you so that you can get through your day to day activities.  That’s it.  They’re not meant to be consumed in excess or at a deficit.  The goal is to consume as many calories from foods that provide you with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as possible. (Rather than wasting your calories on foods that provide little to no nutritional value.)  But we all know the truth: the ones that provide little to no nutritional value are the ones that we like most!!  Why?  Because they taste good! Because they have sugar in them.  Because they make us feel good (even if just temporarily).

But these foods are “bad” so we tell ourselves we can’t eat them.  But after a week or two or three, we cave.  And then we don’t just eat two Oreos, we eat a whole sleeve of them!!  If you are constantly depriving yourself of food Monday through Friday and then over the weekend you go ape shit on everything you see… are you really solving the underlying problem?  Because at some point, those “cheat days” go from just Saturday to Saturday and Sunday… and then Friday, Saturday and Sunday and before you know it, you’re back to your old habits and the weight comes back on.  And then you feel like crap about yourself.  I’ve been there… repeatedly.

But one day it just clicked for me:  I control what I eat.  I control how I feel about my body.  I control how I look.  I control how I feel about myself.  I AM IN CONTROL.  And since that day everything has been a lot easier for me.  My temperament is better.  I have more patience.  I am less irritable.  I am happier.  I am able to be the mom I want to be.  I don’t complain that I feel fat.  I feel more confident. I have more pep in my step.  I feel in control of myself and my life.

Only you can make the decision to take control.  Control is a very powerful thing.  It’s exciting but it’s also scary.  When you finally take control, you can’t use excuses anymore. I think this is why people shy away from it. It’s easier. It’s an excuse. It’s a way out. But if you have that mindset regarding your health, it usually trickles into other areas, as well. Being in control forces you to take responsibility. Ick!  Take responsibility for my poor food choices?  No thanks!  But the cool thing about taking responsibility and taking control means that you can literally do anything  you want to do!  You have complete control over your own destiny.  And that should excite the hell out of you!!

If food is a struggle for you say this everyday, repeatedly, until you believe it:

YOU are in control of FOOD.  FOOD does not control YOU.

I know it sounds a little silly to do, but trust me!

Your thoughts

It took work for me to get to this point.  It didn’t happen overnight.  But I had to start somewhere.  It started with recognizing that I wasn’t in control.  I let myself be controlled by food rather than me controlling food.  Then I had to figure out why.  If you know me at all, you read my blog, or you follow me on social media, you know one thing about me:  I’m not afraid to tell you that I’m a hot mess of a young lady that’s just trying to figure out life (Spoiler Alert: I’ll never “figure it out”).  I’m 100% happy to share the experiences of my life because I know that I’m not the only person who struggles with stuff– especially food.  And since I feel like I have a pretty good handle on this I’m even more excited to share it.

The day I realized that I was in complete control of my health was the first day of the rest of my life.  It showed me that I can do anything as long as I believed I could do it.   It taught me I could do hard things.  It taught me I could change my mindset and how I thought about food (and everything else while I was at it).  There’s not doubt in my mind that I could never have gotten through the last couple of years of my life if I didn’t have the confidence, mental strength and positive outlook I worked so hard for through my wellness journey. I am so grateful that I had the courage to take so many steps over the past few years to get to where I am today. This wellness wave has been an amazing ride and I’ll continue to show up for it every single day. 😉

Hawaii Vacation Recap

Aloha!

It’s been a looooooong time since you’ve heard from me.  I was kinda distracted the last month or so leading up to my trip to Hawaii.  There was so much to do to prepare for it.  And I think knowing that I was going to be away from the kids for 7 nights, halfway around the world, with a 6 hour time difference was creating a little angst.  I’ve been away from both of my kids before but not for this long and not this far away.  So I was a little off during the month of April.

So now that I’m back, I wanted to share a little bit about my trip.  For those of you that are just catching up, let me explain why I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii in the first place. I work in the financial services industry.  And like most commission-based/sales industries there are incentive trips that sales reps can qualify for based on their production.  I’m not a sales rep. I work on the operations side of the business.  But because our office had such a stellar year, I was invited to go.  I’d never been to Hawaii and I had a million reasons why I couldn’t/shouldn’t go but I decided to figure out a way to make it work!

If you’ve never been to Hawaii, YOU MUST GO. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to many different places and see a lot of different things over the years, but I have to say, there is nothing quite like Hawaii.  It has mountains and canyons and waterfalls a plenty!  There’s a ton of wild chickens and I even got a picture of a beautiful black swan! The sites were absolutely breathtaking.

But for me, this vacation was about a lot more than an opportunity to get away! I wanted to focus on a few things while I had time to think without two toddlers whining or repeatedly saying “I’m hungry” even when they just ate dinner!

Explore: I like to be active. I like to explore and try new things. I wouldn’t say I’m an adrenaline junkie but I wouldn’t say I’m not either. It would have been crazy for me to travel all the way to Hawaii to sit poolside for 6 days straight, right? My brother and I went for a hike at Waipoo Falls and got amazing pictures of the waterfall. I also went on a catamaran snorkel tour of the Napali Coast, which was absolutely incredible.  Not only did we get to see the entire Coast from an ocean view, we got an amazing history lesson (and quite a few laughs) from the Captain.  We saw spinner dolphins, we snorkeled, and I jumped off the boat… because why not?!

Spend Time Alone: I think it’s easy to say you like to spend time alone when you have a husband or a boyfriend. But when you don’t, you learn that it’s not so simple.  I was with someone for 12 years, which was my entire adult life.  Even though I was going to be spending time with work friends (many of them had their spouses or significant others with them), I was still alone.  And I’ve been alone for the last year.  Okay, don’t cry… that sounded really sad.  But it’s not and I’ll tell you why.  Being alone is actually a really good way to learn about yourself.  When you have a partner (or even kids for that matter) sometimes you get so caught up in the wants and needs of others that you forget to ask yourself what you want, or what you need, or whether or not you’re happy.  Besides my kids—whose wants and needs are really quite simple- love them, feed them, clean them, play with them, I can focus on myself.  What I want, what I need and what makes me happy.  I hiked a trail by myself (almost got lost– only me!).  I took walks by myself.  I shopped by myself.  It was kinda cool.  And it gave me a chance to work on my very very very (did I mention very) amateur photography skills.

Relax & Recharge: I brought 3 books with me to Hawaii. I only started reading one on the plane en route home.  I brought my tablet—I didn’t turn it on.  The only time I turned on my TV in my room was the morning that I was leaving to check the bill and checkout.  When I’m on vacation I want to do whatever I want to do in that moment.  If I want to hang by the pool and have a cocktail, I will.  If I want to take a walk, I will. If I want to listen to a Podcast (this is my new obsession, btw), I will.  If I want to take a jog, I will.  If I want to eat shave ice, I will.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much for me to relax. I knew that my kids were in good hands. I knew that it would be quiet at the office. I just wanted to relax.  And I totally did.  That’s why I came back READY TO FREAKIN GO!

One of the things I’ve tried to focus on this year has been living in the moment a little more.  Ya’ll know I’m a planner x 1000.  Finding the balance between living in the moment and accomplishing big goals can be difficult.  If I’m living in the moment too much, I tend to lose focus.  If I’m planning every second of every day, I can become too rigid, get bored and become fanatical. 

So I’ve taken the approach of planning with wiggle room.  Always having a plan, but being nimble enough to enjoy any opportunities that come up! And when I get an opportunity to totally unplug (like I did for 6 days in Hawaii), I take it. I listen to my mind and body and allow myself to do and feel whatever they want. 💖

Takeaways:

1. Go to Hawaii 🌺

2. Take time to relax and recharge once in a while

3. Listen to your body

4. Explore when you can

5. Go to Hawaii 🌺

My Passion Project

When I started blogging it was part of a secret mission.  I know that sounds super cool and top secret, but it’s not.  It’s been a personal mission to find my passion.  I know this may not make sense to everyone reading this but I don’t want to just have a job or have a career.  I want to build something of my own.  I want to be proud of what I do.  I want my children to be proud of what I do.  It’s not enough for me to say I make “x” amount of dollars a year. I want to leave an imprint on this earth.  I want to impact others.  My blogging has forced me to look at myself from a lot of different angles.  And in order for my blog to be authentic, I’ve had to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly!  This has all been part of the master plan (insert weird creepy laugh here).

Over the past several months I’ve been thinking about all the things I wanted to be when I grew up and all of the things I’ve actually done. The first thing I remember wanting to be was a teacher.  I was always playing school with my grandma when I was a kid– she was the student and I was the teacher, obvi.  Over the course of my childhood and through my teenage years, teaching was always on my list.

At some point, I wanted to be a magazine editor (not sure if I ever told anyone about this one).   When I was a kid I used to love reading magazines.  You know, like Bop!  And then I graduated to Fitness and Self and eventually Cosmopolitan (because what 18-year old prude wasn’t reading Cosmo?!)  I did this weird thing when I read magazines– I literally read them from cover to cover.  I used to read EVERYTHING in the magazine. Even the credits in the beginning. Even the name of the Mac lipstick I’d never ever wear. EV-ER-Y-THING.  But my favorite part of the magazine was in the beginning.  It was the note from the editor, alongside a very beautiful picture of what I dreamed every magazine editor looked like.  I used to think to myself, I want to be an editor of a magazineI want to be the one to approve the themes of each edition and “yay” or “nay” the ideas for stories for each section.  (I literally decided exactly what the editor did even though I had nothing to base it off of…but that sounds kinda accurate, right?).

But that dream faded pretty quickly.

Next up: sportscaster (I even went to college for this one!).  Although I still love to play sports and be active, my desire to follow sports has dwindled over the years.  But back when I was 17 or 18 years old, I was a big Mets and Knicks fan.  I would watch SportsCenter on ESPN with my brother every morning before school and I thought it would be so awesome to be the next Linda Cohn.  But that, too, fell by the wayside within my first semester of college.  Obviously that dream wasn’t the dream.

Eventually I fell into (and yes, I use those words purposely) working with my dad.  My dad worked for MetLife for 29 years.  I began working at his office at the end of my second year of college.  I was the Recruiting Coordinator.  I was 20 years old and had no idea what I was doing, but the girl I replaced must’ve really sucked because they didn’t even let her stay to train me.  I did get some training from my direct manager, but she dealt more with marketing so the actual nitty gritty of my job I kinda had to learn on my own by making phone calls and asking a million questions.

Three years later my dad brought me over to his new company, National Life Group.  He needed an Office Manager and thought I’d be a great fit for the small agency.  He was right… I totally nailed it.  Haha, just kidding.  Okay, okay, I didn’t not nail it, but I had a ton to learn.  I was only 23 years old and even though both companies were life insurance companies there was a big difference between my roles at MetLife and National Life.  I was running the office at National Life.  Good thing I was getting my MBA, right?  (Ha, I laugh at that only because when it comes to running a business there is nothing better than on the job experience.  You can take all the classes in the world but it will never beat out work experience.)

There are parts of my job I love.  For instance, every day is different.  And, I get to work on all aspects of the business—accounting, financial reporting, marketing, training, recruiting and on-boarding, even a little IT stuff.  I’ve grown A LOT since day one.  I’m not sure I’d be where I am today if I hadn’t been given this opportunity at a very young age.  And I am grateful for the autonomy and flexibility I have.  Even though I don’t own the business, I run the business.  And I take that very seriously (like 98.5% of the time).

So why am I giving you my job history?  Relax, I’m getting there!

I have done quite a few things over the years—barista at Starbucks, Recruiting Coordinator and New Business Processor (at MetLife), Beachbody coach, pure barre instructor, Operations Manager (National Life) and blogging.  And I am truly grateful for everything I’ve done because a) I’ve had the balls to go outside my comfort zone and try new things and b) I’ve learned a lot about myself from each one!

I’ve learned where my strengths are.  I’ve learned where my weaknesses are (brings back memories of my business school days when we talked about SWOT analysis).  I drilled down and figured out what I liked about each of those jobs/opportunities and what I didn’t like.  Here’s a list of the things I love:

  • I love to talk (I know… SHOCKER)
  • I love to listen
  • I love to help people
  • I love to lead small groups and work one-on-one with people
  • I love running a business
  • I love writing and editing
  • I love fitness
  • I love to problem solve
  • I love goal setting
  • I love sharing my experiences
  • I love providing motivation and inspiration to others

It took me 14 years of being in the workforce (18 years old- 32 years old) to figure out what my actual dream job is but I finally figured it out!  I’m in the preliminary stages of my endeavor.  Meaning, I’m researching and doing a shit ton of homework.  But let’s just say it involves ALL of the things I love to do.  For now, I’m calling it my passion project.  But eventually, because I’m going to work real hard at it and be real good at it (don’t believe me, just watch), it’s going to be my baby.  The job that will allow me to create the lifestyle I want to live.  I’m not ready to officially announce anything because I know people will ask me a ton of questions that I just don’t have answers to yet.  So hold your horses! It’s coming!

And while I’m working on MY DREAM, I really encourage everyone reading this to step outside their comfort zone and try new things.  Even if those things aren’t the dream, it’ll at least take you one step closer to it.  And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and actually own your dream.  Because guess what?  You’d be surprised how many people are actually cheering you on versus tearing you down. I’ve never EVER gotten any negative feedback from any one of my blog posts.  In fact, people are encouraging and supportive and rooting for me!  So why wouldn’t people do the same for you!!?!?  They would!! Trust me!  🙂

Making Movement Part of Mom Life

Being a parent is literally the most difficult job I’ve ever had.  There’s always four little eyes watching my every move and four little ears listening to my every word.  It’s a big responsibility and no one truly understands it until they’re actually in it.  It becomes much more apparent when your kids start asking questions or repeating things you say.  You’re no longer free to stare at yourself in the mirror and make comments about your body while your daughter is slipping her feet into your shoes so she can play dress up.  You can no longer hide the candy or the “mommy juice” (aka diet soda in my house) because your son has become very curious and will ask “what’s that?” a million times before you throw a Twizzler at him to try.

Well, I guess you can do those things.  You can do anything you want.  But I think every parent wants to set a good example for their kids.  And don’t get me wrong, we all make mistakes and say unflattering things about ourselves, partake in eat-out-of-the-carton ice cream sessions, and scream or yell at our kids out of frustration.  And that’s all OK because no one is perfect.  We’re all just doing the best we can.

I’m going to take a step back here for a second.  You ever say something and before you actually finish the sentence all you can think is I sound like mother/father?  It happens to me ALL THE TIME!  Some classic lines in my house growing up were because I said so and life’s not fair.   Those are just things I remember my parent saying, but what about things my parents did or behavioral habits they had??

When I thought about this, the first thing that popped into my head was making my bed every dang morning.  As a child I watched my mom make her bed every day.  I was taught to make my bed.  And now, as an adult, I will not leave my house without making my bed.  It’s just part of my life.  It’s part of my routine.  It’s part of my lifestyle.  I watched this habit, I was taught this habit and this habit became a habit of mine (remember, habits are not always a bad thing!).

Creating and teaching healthy habits to my kids is very important to me.  My goal is for my kids to see me engaging in as many positive, balanced and healthy activities as possible.  Positive self-talk is one.  Eating a well-balanced diet that includes everything in moderation and never feeling guilty about indulging is another.  And of course, my most favorite thing in the world to talk about—movement.

The word movement is all encompassing to me. It means parking a little further away from the store because you have two good legs and you should use them.  It also means not sitting on the couch every day from the minute you get home to the minute you’re ready to transition to your bed.  It’s about having a dance party with your kids instead of watching TV.  Or running around outside while cleaning up the yard instead of playing on a tablet (two birds, one stone here people!).  And it also means getting your heart rate up and strengthening and lengthening your muscles with various forms of exercising.

I want my kids to witness and partake in all of the above. I want movement to be a big part of their lives.  I want it to be a non-negotiable.  I want it to become part of who they are are and what they do.  I want it to be part of their lifestyle.

And while I won’t know if what I’m about to share is actually working until later on down the road (I’ll keep you posted by writing a blog post about it in 20 years), it couldn’t hurt to try some of these ideas.

Make time instead of making excuses.  I could probably write a 30-page dissertation on how I hate when people say they don’t have time.  No, you have time, you’re just not making time.  Instead you’re making excuses.  If something is that important to you, you find a way to get it done.  I try not to use the phrase “I don’t have time.”  Instead I say: “it’s just not the highest priority right now.”  Because if it was higher on the list, it would be getting done. Yes, it’s that simple. No, for real, it’s that simple.

If you want to be healthier, more fit, more balanced, more in control, have more energy… then MAKE IT A PRIORITY!  You might have to adjust your sleep schedule slightly or limit your social media scrolling time.  Unfortunately there are only so many hours in a day so you just need to allocate your time better because no one has time.  No one ever complains they have too much time.  We all just say there’s not enough time in the day… or do we just need be honest with ourselves about how we’re utilizing our 24 hours?

Workout while the kids are sleeping: I commend any mother that works out with her kids playing in the next room. I think that’s amazing. I prefer peace, quiet and not having to worry about how many times I’m going to have to pause to break up a fight or “oooh” and “ahhh” over artwork.

When I workout at home, I set my alarm as early as 4:40 AM so I can get my workout in before the morning mayhem begins. I know it sounds super early and maybe too early to some, but your body gets used to waking up early. It’s worth it to get your 30-minute workout done in 30 minutes rather than 45 or 50 because of all the stop and go.  Plus, I’m a working mom so I don’t have much choice– there’s no opportunity for a nap time workout.  And by the time I get home, well I’m lucky if I can keep my eyes open past 8 PM.

Get your kids involved in exercising: However, there are times that I snooze my alarm on a Saturday morning. And I do that knowing that at least one of the kids will be waking up during my workout. It’s usually Ethan and he comes downstairs and sits and watches me.  But really he doesn’t STFU for 30 minutes!!

So while I regret hitting snooze because my workout won’t be as good as I want it to be, I figure it’s a good opportunity to teach Ethan about my love of movement. He imitates me using his Styrofoam weights, uses my step to attempt some cool moves, and works on his plank hug grip while I work on my plank. It’s cute and I love it.

Playground + Walk: I absolutely love being outdoors with my kids anytime it’s over 50 degrees. Every time we go to the “big park” in my neighborhood, I make it a point to remind them in the car: first we take a walk and then we play on the slides.

That’s right, the minute we get to the park I pop the kids in the double stroller and we walk around the park twice before playing.  I like this tactic for two reasons: 1) It’s an opportunity for movement FOR ME! And 2) it teaches my kids patience. They don’t always get to run to the swings the minute they see them.  And now it’s just part of the routine of going to the park.  It’s not like it happens every other time we go.  That means I don’t have to play “let’s make a deal” on the days I want to go for a walk. (I save that for when we leave: Ethan, Alex, do you want ice cream?!) #notajoke

And last, but definitely not least, schedule your workouts into your week on Sunday evenings.  Not like I think I’m going to barre Monday and Wednesday and I’ll run, like two days.  No, like, write it down in your planner and check it off as you complete the workout.

You might not have to write down your workout schedule forever, but I’ll be honest, over a decade into my wellness journey and I still find it useful to write it out.  In a way I kinda build the rest of my week around my workouts.  What I eat, when I socialize, when I have a drink (or two).  It helps keep you honest and who doesn’t like checking something off a list!?!?

None of these tactics are that sophisticated.  I prefer to keep things simple.  My kids are going to develop some of my habits (good and bad).  My goal is to give them as many good ones to latch onto as possible!

Food Philosophy 101

When someone says the word “diet” most of us automatically think of the secondary definition of diet—a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.  But today I’m talking about the primary definition, the kinds of food that a person habitually eats.  When I think of the statement “I’m going on a diet” the words that come to mind are restrictive, difficult, stressful, bland, boring, etc.

Don’t these statements sound much better?

“I’m working on improving my diet” OR  “I’m changing my diet to get more in line with my overall health goals.”

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I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I do not have a degree in nutrition.  I’ve done a good amount of research.  I’ve experimented with many different lifestyles (always for a short period of time because none of them are sustainable for me).  I’ve put in the work. Through all that I’ve come up with the three principles of my food philosophy:

  1. Eat as many of your calories as possible. Powders, vitamins, bars should be used as supplements (when necessary), not as your meal.  Eat real food!
  2. Nothing should be off limits—you can eat everything in moderation. Don’t be a no carb girl… nobody wants to go to an Italian restaurant with you.
  3. Eat in line with your goals.

Let’s dig into each one!

Eating Your Calories

I’ve gone through phases where I’ve had two shakes, two bars and a couple of small snacks per day and guess what?  I was starving (surprise, surprise, right?!).  During that phase I learned that eating as many of my calories as possible is not only physically more satisfying for me, but it’s mentally more satisfying too.  Sitting down and chewing on food takes waaaaaay longer than drinking a shake.  Your body has time to enjoy the eating process.  You chew, you enjoy the flavors, you swallow, you (should) take a second and breathe and then go back for another bite.  Eating becomes more of an event rather than “let me guzzle this shake so I can hustle to my next appointment/class/meeting” moment.

Plus I just think that it’s hard to get all the different vitamins and minerals you need from powders, shakes, bars, and pills.  That’s why they should be used as supplements, when appropriate, but not as a replacement for real food, ya hear?!

I currently use a pre-workout powder and one scoop of protein powder per day.  Snacks include carrots and hummus, string cheese and almonds, Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and fruit. I eat real food for lunch and dinner. I don’t take any vitamin or other supplement pills.

Everything in Moderation

I’m a big believer that if you like something, you should be able to enjoy eating it—in moderation.  I enjoy candy and ice cream.  And I can and do enjoy both of those things. The goal is to try to enjoy both of them in moderation (which I’m pretty good at with ice cream) but in the “needs improvement” category for candy.  But I’m better than I used to be so some progress is better than no progress! 😝

I’ve tried to cut out candy completely and all it’s done is make me want it more.  I know that sounds familiar to everyone reading this because it’s a common theme in dieting.  Restrict the bad foods until you cave and eat ALL THE BAD FOODS.  And you start and stop the cycle like a billion times until you either recognize you should be able to have that food in moderation and find a way to do that OR you forget trying to make healthier habits and continue down the same path you’ve been on. Most of us end up doing the latter.

I believe in well-balanced meals that include proteins, fats and yes, CARBOHYDRATES!  I secretly cringe when someone tells me they cut all fruits out of their diet because of the high sugar/carb content. Or they only eat 30g of carbs per day because they’re on a strict keto diet.  I only offer my opinion if it’s asked but I know, from trying so many different diets, that none of them are truly sustainable for the rest of your life.

Eat carbs—mostly good carbs.  But also free feel to indulge in the not-so-nutritious carbs every once in a while.  Going on severe diets is not only physically draining but constantly thinking about it makes it mentally exhausting, as well.

Eating In Line With Your Goals

I am not going to tell you not to focus on the number on the scale or losing a certain amount of pounds because I’ve been there before.  I know what it’s like to want to see a number. I get it. And I had to go through that phase before I moved onto the phase I’m in now which is really trying to fill my diet with healthy and nutritious food.  But just keep in mind as you’re going through the process, the end goal should be to improve your overall health.  The immediate goal might be to lose “x” amount of pounds so whatever you do to reach that goal should be things that are sustainable changes for the end result of living a healthier and more energized life.  Make sense?

Instead of focusing on what you want to achieve (i.e. lose 10 lbs or have a six pack), ask yourself this question:

What am I willing to change/improve in my diet and what results will it yield?

The idea here is to consider what you’re actually willing to do.  It goes back to the idea of wanting to want something but not actually wanting it enough to do anything about it.  So think about what you’re actually willing to change, improve, add to your diet, or eliminate from your diet.  Once you know what you’re willing to do and what results in will likely yield you can negotiate with yourself to find a good starting point.

And remember no change, or improvement, or addition, or elimination has to be 100% of the time.  Instead of 5 caramel macchiatos per week, go for 3.  And leave the rest of your diet and exercise regimen exactly the same.  You will be consuming less calories and you will lose weight.  It will be slow but it will be happen if you have patience.

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Once you know what your goals are and you truly believe you’re onboard with doing the things you need to do to get there, DO THEM.  And while you’re at it, do these things too:

  1. Be patient and kind with yourself. Lifestyle and dietary changes can be difficult.  Don’t beat yourself up for the ups and downs you will experience.  They are part of the journey. You’re not going to be your most healthy and fit self every season in your life.
  2. Focus on one thing at a time. When you make one small change it will make you feel good.  And that good feeling will ignite you to make another small change.  And so and so forth.
  3. Take your time. It’s not a race and it’s certainly not a competition.  It doesn’t matter if it takes you 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years to get to where you want to be. Go at your own pace.

I would absolutely love to hear feedback on this topic because it is so so soooo important to me.  What’s your food philosophy?   😉