Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Identity

I have been wanting to write about something that I think was the root of a lot of my issues with food and exercise.  I have been thinking a lot about who I am lately.


I think that when I graduated college, moved to a new city, and no longer had my grades and activities I cherished, I sort of lost myself.  I filled that void by becoming focused on perfecting my body.  It gave me a goal of losing weight, it gave me a new persona of "healthy and fit", it all gave me a new sense of self.


But I realize now that I am not how I look.  I can be healthy without that being the basis of my identity.  And I can be unhealthy if I want without any guilt.  The real me is not made to be that f***ing skinny either!  When I started really fixing my relationship with food and exercise, I realized I didn't know who I was without the calorie counting, meal planning, and compulsive exercising.  I felt empty again.  I am not a varsity cheerleader any more, I am not a student working to be on the Dean's list, and I am not the campus tour guide who tries to inspire others to come to her beloved school (go UCSB!). 

But I am doing some digging, trying to listen to my true desires and here is what I have come up with...

I care deeply about my friends, even though I am terrible at staying in touch.



I am pretty hilarious. 

I love fresh flowers and candles, and incense, and anything that sets a mood.


I can figure out complex problems on my own.

I tend to underestimate myself and sell myself short.

I love to cook and bake and I love to eat everything I make.


I feel strangely close to random strangers.

I am not perfect, and I am starting to realize that that's OK.

I like to eat food that is slightly charred on the outside...I know Kimberlyn, I am going to get cancer...

I am pretty needy, just overall...

I do not have a good fashion sense.  But I can copy my trendy friends and look pretty good.


I love really hot days, and the beach, and both of those together...

And I know how it feels to ache with love for someone. 



Anyone else have an identity crisis after college?







Wednesday, September 17, 2014

An Update on Exercise

So I thought a lot about it and realized that my relationship with exercise was still off.  I still sometimes think of it as an equation, where I inadvertently compare the amount I burn versus what I consume.  I have to keep reminding myself that I am no longer trying to lose weight - if I exercise more I just need to eat more.  So logically, I can definitely exercise less and I will probably not be as ravenously hungry all the time. 

So far, it is working.

I decided to take a step back this week.  I have taken two rest days already and I plan to stick with that schedule.  I also am changing the length of my workouts two days a week from an hour to about 30-45 minutes.

It definitely feels uncomfortable to exercise less, but that just goes to show that I am stuck in old habits. I have noticed by appetite lessening a bit, so I think my body is processing everything properly. It is definitely challenging for me to trust it - but I keep reassuring myself that I am at my set point now, I have definitely stopped gaining weight.  I have pushed through uncomfortable before and I know I can do it again, everything always gets easier. 

I will leave you with another epiphany worth noting. 

If you ever have a chance to dance with a fox with glowsticks... You dance.


Sorry, feeling a little punchy tonight, it was a long day.

Oh!! And I almost forgot to tell you...

I am engaged!!!


I will share the full story soon, I am still beaming :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Feeling Stuck with Exercise

I am one of those weird people who loves exercise.  It is an escape and a huge release of energy for me.

I have been pretty active my whole life.  In high school, it wasn't uncommon for me to go from cheerleading practice, to soccer practice, to a gymnastics lesson in one day.

In college, I would go for runs or take a workout class every couple of days.  Until recently, I had a very healthy relationship with exercise.  I did it because I enjoyed it, I did it in moderation but also pushed myself when it felt good.

Over the past several years, my exercise habits changed - I increased the frequency of my workouts a lot and my sessions became longer and more intense.  About five years ago, I started running distances over three miles.  That grew to five miles, then six to seven miles.  Rather than every other day, I started exercising every day.  I stopped going to the fun dance classes I loved and opted for more intense sweat sessions.  I made sure I worked out for at least an hour each time.

Each time I worked out, the goal was purely to burn as many calories as possible.  The thought of "wasting time" with recreational exercise was frightening.  If I had an intense session that morning, only then would I allow myself to do something easy like yoga at night.  I became addicted to exercise.

When I was undereating, this was obviously a major problem. I tend to freak out when I am forced to make big changes all at once.  I love routine.  So the option of eating more and cutting back on exercise  completely was NOT an option.  But now that I am used to a new set of eating habits and have toned down the length and frequency of my workouts, I think I am ready to evaluate whether even more cut backs are necessary.

At the height of my exercise addiction, I would workout for about 60-90 minutes a day seven days a week (most of this was intense cardio).  Now I workout 45-60 minutes a day six days a week (a mixture of moderate-intense cardio, walking, and weight training).  I don't get bent out of shape if I can't get a planned workout in, but I do still feel slightly uncomfortable.  The point is that I have made changes, but I question whether I should make a second phase of changes.

I realized that this was something I needed to think about when I returned from my trip.  Maybe because I realized that life is too short to spend it in a gym and the body is fragile and should be treated kindly.  Maybe because I realized that it was nice to not plan my days around exercise and maybe I could live more of my life on a "vacation" of sorts...



I also had the realization that no matter how much I love exercise, I think that some of the reasons I do it so often are not because of that enjoyment.  I think that it has become such a normal part of my routine, I haven't questioned my motives and I haven't thought enough about whether it makes me a happier person.

Sometimes I have a hard time articulating this reasoning clearly.  So I am going to make a list of why I think I may need to change my exercise habits.  And then I will make a list of why I feel like maybe I shouldn't.  This is a technique my dad taught me when I used to freak out about decisions as a kid.

Ok, a list of why I should workout less:
  • Now that my metabolism is working, I need to eat so much to feel satisfied.  This is annoying and sometimes it is hard to make sure I am eating enough.
  • I worry that my body may be getting run down.  My muscles are often sore or tired.
  • I workout in the morning, and sometimes I'd rather sleep in.
  • Deep down I am afraid that if I stop exercising, I will gain more weight, when I was hoping that I had reached my set point (I know, I know, this is a red flag).
  • I may be doing more harm than good, maybe we aren't meant to be so active? This article suggests I may still be overdoing it.
  • I want to be able to trust my body to manage itself without me forcing exercise upon it.  I am afraid that I am still not there yet and may need to do this to get there.

Now a list of why my current exercise habits are fine as is:
  • A lot of people exercise every day and I am not nearly as active as athletes or models.
  • I enjoy the early mornings and I love being up and about.
  • I feel energized after my workouts now, not exhausted like I used to.
  • My muscles get plenty of rest because I sit at a desk job all day when I am not active.
  • I take one rest day a week, and I don't work out intensely every day anymore - so I am getting plenty of rest.
  • I don't have any injuries, and I don't want to lose my stamina.
  • I feel a little guilty and weird when I don't exercise, I don't want to feel like that.

Or maybe I am just over thinking this.  The "intuitive exercise" thing is difficult when your habits are so engrained into your everyday life.  I just don't want to hurt myself anymore at all, so I think it is worth taking a deeper look.  Experimenting with cutting back seems like a good idea, but I am so paralyzed by routine and fear.

Anyone have advice or experiences to share?




Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Trip of a Lifetime - Part 1

Travis and I just arrived home from a 10 day trip to Peru.  The culmination of our trip was a 4-day hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  The trip was perfect, but the hike was an experience of a lifetime.  I can't put into words how beautiful and special this trip was for me and Travis.  But I want to capture what I can here for you and for me to look back on.

Before our hike, we had a day in Lima, the capital of Peru alongside the Pacific ocean, and then we had three days in Cuzco (about an hour long plane ride into the Andes from Lima).  We had to be in Cuzco for at least three days prior to our hike in order to allow our bodies to acclimate to the altitude - 12,000ft.  Here are some pictures from our first few days...

 I quickly discovered that Pisco Sours (the drink of Peru) are AMAZING.  I drank them every chance I had throughout the trip.

 Went to an Irish pub in Lima before heading to Cuzco the next morning.  Another Pisco sour for me :)

 Had breakfast each morning on our hotel's balcony.

 Our first day in Cuzco was tough.  We were both feeling the altitude and were constantly sleepy and had headaches.

The baby llama helped!

It was winter there, so the weather would be in the 30s in the mornings and then get into the high 60s by the afternoons.  So dressing in layers was key.

Llamas aside, there was a lot to love and to learn about Peru.  One of the best ways to learn about a culture is through food, so of course there was a lot of eating.  Each meal tasted better than the last.  I love fine dining and have pretty high standards when it comes to food.  But the food we ate in Peru rivaled many of the upscale places I have been in my life.

More Pisco Sours!  I am telling you, I just couldn't get enough of these.

 They get creative with the presentation of food.  This is a pineapple bird with chicken skewers as wings.

 Cocoa tea helped with the altitude sickness.  We had at least two cups each day.

 Alpaca meat on our first day in Cuzco.

The fruit was fresh and always sweet.

 Guinea Pig!!!! We did not eat it.  I just couldn't.  I used to have a pet Guinea Pig named Leonardo.

 Lima had the BEST ceviche and seafood.

 Avocados were huge and cheap.  I ate a whole avocado as part of my lunch on multiple occasions.

Beef Empanada.

 Irish Coffee.  YUM!

Cooking demonstration in Cuzco.

On our last night in Cuzco before the hike, we had orientation with our trekking group.  I was relieved when I met them, four girls ranging from 28-30 from Ireland, Portugal, and the US, a 22 year old from the Netherlands, and a 52 year old woman from Canada.  Everyone was really nice and not the superior hikers/backbackers I expected.  They were a lot like us.  After orientation, we went back to our hotel and packed our bags for the trek.  We tried to get to bed early because we had a wakeup call of 3:30am.  Unfortunately, I got little sleep - I was so anxious about the hike.  But the next morning, once we were on the bus en route to the base of the hike, I was feeling more at ease. 

I was ready.


To be continued...





Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I did it!


I will share more soon! Getting back into the swing of things.