Taking Care of Yourself or Sorry I’m Such a Flake, Guys

Readers, I planned on blogging Thursday. Instead, I passed out cold at 9:30. Then, I planned on blogging Friday, and passed out cold right after I got home at 10. They’ve been busy days, and it’s been a busy week. Sometimes, early sleep happens and I don’t get tasty recipes and bad jokes out to you. Sorry. 😦

I suppose it’s fine, because I definitely never gave you a set update schedule (yes, there is a good reason for that!) but I do feel a bit obligated to the people who have subscribed to me, or who have clearly bookmarked me. I’m grateful that people read my ramblings and try my food, so I want to get more of those out to you! Still, I’ve learned some important lessons in the past few years, in which I’ve transitioned from my unhealthy, depressed, and stagnant self into the healthy person who is working hard to maintain her life, family, and education today.

This was me three years ago.

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It took me a long time to find ANY picture of me from then, and even fewer that showed me below a fake smile. I was the most depressed in my entire life at that point. Many of you probably assume this is because I weighed 240 lbs. The truth of the matter is though, I weighed that much BECAUSE I was depressed. It was the symptom, not the cause. Let’s take a look at her life, that twenty-three year old mother.

She had dropped out of college, twice. She had accepted that she was not the smart kid anymore, and had instead become the screw up who got knocked up unexpectedly. She was working full time at a Payless making almost nothing. She was living with her father. She had stopped playing music. She was lonely, tired, and sad. She didn’t take care of herself, she didn’t care enough to do so, and she felt like crap about herself. That’s the girl who weighed 240 lbs.

This is the same woman last August:

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You’ll notice that she weighs less and has considerably less hair. She’s since grown it back out, but that doesn’t matter in the slightest. You’ll notice she looks pretty pleased with life…and her ridiculous pants. Let’s look at the life of that twenty-five year old mother.

She was recently accepted to a four year institution after a few years at community college. She was working with people she actually liked, still making almost nothing, but more than she had and feeling much better about it. She was starting to get the hang of this “mom” thing, and enjoying the summer with her daughter. She was living with her father, but school made her feel better about that. She had been involved in two bands in the past few years. She had friends who came over for dinner sometimes, slept enough, exercised regularly, and ate well, and was a month away from becoming engaged to the mman of her dreams. That girl treated herself with the respect she had deserved at 240 lbs. That girl weighed roughly 150 lbs.

The biggest differences between me “before” and me “after” have little to do with the weight. The difference lied in how good I felt about myself. I want to say that I had this magical epiphany that changed everything, but I didn’t. I changed completely by accident.

When I was twenty-three, Olive completely stopped eating any kind of meat that wasn’t a chicken nugget. She was only about 18 months old, and this made me really nervous, because I had ALWAYS been overweight, a fact I knew was in part due to never learning how to eat properly as a child. I did not want her growing up with the same problems I had when I was small, but she needed protein and iron, right? So I did what any mom with a basic education behind her would do, I searched the internet.

My reasoning was that vegetarian children grow just fine, so maybe I could try a few of their recipes instead. The internet was full of them, and I was willing to try anything at that point (I mean, it’s not like I had anything else going on, or anything). My first recipe was some sort of curried greens with potatoes. As I was making it, I felt really cool for a minute. I stirred up these flavors that were foreign to me and imagined myself as a hip, young college student, cooking veggie meals for herself. I thought, “I could do this. I really could.” So I did.

As time went on, obviously I became really concerned with animal rights and the quality of meat. I went vegan for awhile about a year later and quit when I met Mike, then started again more recently, with less rigid rules about my veganism (for instance, if I’m at an Indian restaurant and they have Kofta, it’s ON). I started caring about how many veggies I was eating and the environment, and the health and well being of my family. I quit smoking–I smoked a pack a day or more for five years–and took up running. Suddenly, I cared whether or not I was healthy.

For good reason too, I was happy! Being unhealthy meant that at some point that happiness would end because I would either get sick or die early. I didn’t want that! I was a student, I was a mother, I was someone’s fiance, I was a musician, and I was becoming everything I finally wanted to be.

I kept it up, and I’ve been healthy ever since. Recently, I’ve stopped stepping on a scale. I don’t want to count calories or worry about a few pounds here or there anymore, that’s no way to live. I need to have my mind available for my studies and my family, not worrying about what that baked potato might have cost me!

Do I have a few tips for those trying to be healthy? Well, a few.

1. Stop worrying about your weight–I’m serious. The more I freaked out about how thin I was the worse I began to feel. I started losing the weight by accident when I went vegetarian. I was planning whole meals to make sure I got everything I needed, so the first forty pounds or so came off on their own. I lost another thirty by running and switching to an almost completely plant based diet. I only lost ten pounds counting calories. Besides, if you feel good, your weight doesn’t matter. Your healthy weight is where your body sits when you’re exercising regularly and eating well, not when you’re depriving yourself and feeling exhausted.

2. Eat breakfast. Always.–If I didn’t eat breakfast, and regular meals, I would feel like butt all day. I don’t care how late I’m running, I always have breakfast. It sets the tone for my day and gives me what I need to not feel like a zombie. Eat breakfast.

3. Eat when you’re hungry.–Don’t bother telling yourself to wait. If you’re actually hungry, you need to eat something. And eat something you actually enjoy, too. I don’t want to hear you’re suffering through plain celery (get some hummus for Pete’s sake!) just to fill your belly until dinner time.

4. Do something you like, simply because you like to do it.–For me, this meant going back to school and singing publicly again. I love doing those things, but stopped doing them because I didn’t feel like I deserved either. I did, and you deserve what you like to do, too. Get a hobby, or take up an old one. As my therapist says, “Find your bliss.”

5. Get therapy.–It couldn’t hurt.

6. Get plenty of sleep.–If you’re tired, sleep, even if you’re worried that your blog’s readers will be mad at you. 🙂

Take care of yourself, guys. Thanks for letting me do the same.

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4 responses »

  1. We have to get together soon, so I can talk to you about the madness of my life in the past week or two! But for this moment, I’ll say this: you, Courtney, have inspired me to take better care of me. Not just for me, but also for the people I love and care about. People of whom you are one 🙂

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