the numbers mean nothing: learning to lose the scale

A month or so I had a bit of a fight with my scale and I think I've eventually come out on top without having lost a pound. Crazy, right? We all know what everyone says about scales and that it shouldn't matter what number says, it's all about how we feel. Well that's all good and great but I'm telling you as an actual human woman, it's so. hard. to get that number out of your head.

I remember in high school I had a notebook I'd write down my goals. I remember writing that I wanted to be 140. I'd keep that as a goal and this time, for real I was going to make that goal. I'd be that weight and all of my problems would be over. I'd be small like most of my friends. Not that I was big, but I've always weighed more than I look...and it has been endlessly frustrating. Now, I never really did a lot to actively lose weight; I wasn't really too keen on doing all of the things that would help me reach this magical number. I was a pretty active teenager. I played volleyball and trained for volleyball in the off season. I didn't snack much, I ate what my mom cooked for dinner and my school lunch.  But I still so vividly remember seeing that number in my notebook. 

I don't ever particularly remember feeling fat, I just felt like that number was supposed to be less. I had hips and thighs and a butt. I had cellulite. (This was way before booties were the obsession.) I wore size 10 jeans, size small or medium tops. This girl thought she needed to be smaller: 
I was wearing a super tight slip under this, kind of like spanx before they had spanx. I kept feeling like I needed to suck in the whole night of my concert after this. 

For the next 10 years I'd continue to fight this mental battle over the scale and that number. After I had the boys I was determined to get back down to the 158 I was before I got pregnant. Or somewhere around there, I don't remember. Except now, after kids the scale just won't budge. I've hovered between 172-178. At 178 I'm usually not working out and eating horribly for an extended period. 

But what about the past year, and the past 5-6 months specifically where I've been working out a lot and watching what I ate? For a bit I was so particular about calories, then I was about carbs, then something else. Anything to get the scale to go below that 172 mark, even I was losing inches it became this obsession. I'm a competitive person. Not about silly life things like motherhood, but when it comes to physical things, I'm super competitive. When there's this goal in my head that I CAN NOT beat, I get angry. "I will beat this, I'm going to win. " I tell myself this, almost mentally willing the scale to change. 

I finally came to a breaking point a few weeks ago when I had this moment, this really sad moment. I woke up one morning feeling fit. I'd been working hard, I didn't feel bloated, I felt strong and lean. I decided to get on the scale. I wanted a number to validate how I was feeling. I got on the scale. 173. UGH. Immediately I felt deflated. I stood and looked at my stomach sideways in the mirror. Maybe it wasn't that flat. Look if I didn't stand up straight it just flopped out like that. And my arm fat. Oh and look at all that cellulite on the back of my thighs.

And then I stopped.

What was I doing? Not more than 30 seconds before I felt strong and confident. That fucking number just ruined it for me. It changed my entire mindset, I felt defeated and like a failure. What I'd been proud of was now actually just another thing I needed to work on. This isn't who I wanted to be. Life is so short, it really is. Was this really how I wanted to live it? My life dictated by the mass of my body? The literal number that represented the heaviness of my body, no matter what it appeared on the outside or in my head?

Right then and there I quit the scale. 
This was me this morning. All 172 pounds of me. All 69 inches in length, all size 9 feet, all 24% body fat (and hopefully a lot of muscle). All wide hips and strong shoulders and sore legs. I was weighed at my gym last week at the start of a fitness competition they're holding and that was the last time. I won't know again until they weigh me next month. I really don't care to know then. I'm working my body hard. I'm feeding it (mostly) the right things. Most importantly, my mind is getting stronger. It has learned that all of those numbers mean nothing if you're not comfortable in your own skin. 

slowly growing out a pixie = awkwardness

I'm really doing it this time, I'm growing out my hair. I've said this for a really long time but between bleaching it continuously and getting a lot of "trims" it really hadn't grown much up until a few months ago. It's not that I was trying to keep it short, it just starts to get really awkward for me, really fast. 

A little over a month ago I reached the ponytail stage. And by ponytail stage I just mean two little tiny pigtails that contained about 3 hairs long enough to fit in a small elastic band that had no idea what was going on because it hadn't been used in a year.
It was a little weird. The top half really isn't pulled back- the layers just sit there there, sad they can't reach the ponytail party. This felt like a major life accomplishment for me. 

A couple of weeks later I went in for a trim and most of that long stuff was cut off. I'm essentially trying to keep trimming the back/bottom so the top layers can grow. This is pretty much the only way to avoid a mullet. So these sad little piggy tails were gone just as soon as they arrived. 

The bleaching was constantly frying the ends of my hair so I just decided to go dark with it again. My stylist matched the dark to my roots, so this is pretty much my natural color. I'd also been playing with the idea of throwing a bright color in, just so it wasn't a plain brown. (When has my hair ever been boring?) We used the existing blonde and colored it a combination of pink and red, making it this really pretty/bold red. 

Other ways I've been helping my hair during this awkward grow out stage? Headbands. They hide everything. I barely have to do anything to my hair, I just throw one of these on when my hair is greasy or not-fixed. 

This day I attempted some big wavy curls and it ended up looking REALLY stupid and I didn't have the time or energy to fix it so I just threw the headband on. It helped flatten the wildness.

The red has been interesting to maintain. I'll work on a post about preserving color but one of the main things is that I can't wash it much. So on oily gross days, twists like this one work well because they just stick.  (don't mind the photo of my shoes. They're just my favorite and I had to share lol)

I'm going to try to post some progress photos over the next few months to hopefully show some somewhat graceful ways to grow out a pixie cut. Or it could just end up being really awkward and weird looking. Either way, fun for all!

Have you ever had to grow out a pixie? HALP with all the advice!

on fitness. and joining a gym. and finding my passion. and being strong.

So I joined a gym. I've been avoiding doing this for quite awhile and even built myself my own little makeshift home gym in my garage. The hard thing about having a gym in your garage though, especially when you're a stay at home mom who is living in an area where I have very few in-real-life friends is that I very rarely ever interact with other adults. It's sad. 

When we moved to this house I joined the 24 Hour Fitness about a mile from our house and really enjoyed it for about a minute. Then realized how freaking packed it is virtually at all hours. Now, I'm an outgoing person but I don't do well in crowded places. I get claustrophobic. I like small groups. I like my space. It was nearly impossible to ever even find a parking space at this gym and I stopped going. Months later I finally decided to set up a little gym in my garage.

The garage gym has been great, it's a little escape for me when I can't leave the house. We only have one car so on days my husband takes the car to work, I don't have an excuse to not pop in a work out video or do some resistance training in my garage. This has worked pretty well for me for a few months until I recently decided to step it up with my fitness and life goals. I want to finally get my personal trainer certification. 

So I joined a gym. And the funny thing is, it's a women's gym. It's called Total Woman Gym (and Spa, although this location doesn't have a!). It's brand new and super clean and nice inside. As expected there's a TON of cardio machines because you know, most women are afraid of lifting weights. It hasn't been super busy, there's usually only a hand full of people lifting so I have that much needed space. There are tons of classes, child care and it's just overall at good gym. 

Now, I was a little apprehensive my first day working out because let's be honest, there were a lot of older ladies there just walking away on the treadmills and haphazardly pumping away on the weight machines. Was this going to be a good place for me? 

Today I learned a very important lesson about being on your own fitness journey and to not judge a book by it's cover. I had a pretty small window to get a good work out in and wanted to get some lifting and cardio in. There was a spin class at 9 and I wasn't sure if I'd be done with weights in time and contemplated just roughing it on the treadmill (I freaking hate the treadmill). I opted to not waste a second on the weights and pumped out as much as I could by the time the spin class started. When I walked in the room I immediately thought it was going to be a mistake because the woman leading the class was about 65 and a tiny little thing. "How on earth is this going to be a challenge?" I thought. 

Sister proved me wrong, and quickly. And I learned that spin, and fitness is a lot about pushing yourself to your own personal limit, not to what everyone else is doing. She set the pace and told us what to do and it was my job to push myself the rest of the way. I burned almost 700 calories in that hour. (I thought the lady on the bike uncomfortably close to me was about to die. She was moaning and gasping from the start and I really wanted to tell her to slow down.)

What was interesting about the class was that 4-5 people quit. They just straight up left the class. And in those moments, as they were walking out I was reminded of WHY I want to be a personal trainer. I want women to know they're strong. I don't want them to give up when their brain is telling them it's too hard. We can birth children out of our privates for shit's sake, for sure we can survive a 45 minute spin class. 

I want to help women realize how strong they truly are. That their bodies can do amazing things when they believe they can and concentrate. I want women to lift weights, to lift heavy weights and not be afraid they're going to get manly. Because they won't. I'm tired of hearing words like "tone" and "long, lean muscles". No. You're building muscle or you're not. Your body will determine the shape of those muscles. I want to teach women that just being small isn't important but being healthy and strong is. I know I'm still finding my own way with my body after changing so much in 9 months and it's taken me awhile to get in my groove but I'm hoping with my experiences I can connect with others going through similar struggles. 

I don't know where I'm going with this. I just wanted you to know I joined a gym. And I'm excited about where life is taking me right now. And that I'm glad this passion has started to bubble to the surface again. It feels so good to have found this drive. 

they don't have to be perfect to be perfect

The past couple of weeks I've been trying to make more of an effort to pick up my camera and just shoot. I don't care if it's perfectly composed or the right lighting or even in focus. As I look back on old photos I've come to realize I don't care about any of those things, and really the only reason I take photos at all is so I can look back often. I'm a little bit nostalgic. Ok, a lot. 

The late afternoon sun that comes in the kitchen windows is the best. Well, the worst for seeing dust on everything I own but it makes for the most beautiful lighting. 

These were from when we went to the circus. I wanted at least one photo on my camera with at least the one kid who was up for taking photos. Selfies with DSLR's are really difficult. 

Isaiah loves having his picture taken. He said, "Mommy take my picture, I say cheese!" This stage will probably be short lived so I'll steal as many photos as I can.

It's so amazing watching your children see the wonder in the simplest things. Julian found this little pile of goose down from all of the geese frequenting the park by our house. He sat there for a few minutes holding them up, watching how it turned and moved in breeze and then watched intently as they flew away.

Isaiah hates being dirty. Even a wet spot on the cement had him pulling up his clearly already too short pants.

Julian loves to run. This kid. He always has to be first, ahead of all of us when we're walking together. His brother could care less, always 10 feet behind the pack, stopping to look at everything that catches his eye. But Julian has this deep internal need to be first. He was born first, I'm guessing that has something to do with it.

Wherever they go, it's together. I didn't have any siblings until I was 11 and even then, they weren't playmates. Getting to watch these boys have exactly what I never did (and always wanted) is seriously the biggest and best thing I could ever imagine.