38

(In case you’re wondering, I have decided to use numbers in all of my post titles from now on.

Kidding.)

purple and red balloons

Photo by spemone on Pexels.com

Today, I am 38. I don’t really know how I feel about 38. 38 is awfully close to 40, but 40 doesn’t seem as daunting and scary as I once thought; now 40 seems like the age when I will be really and truly grown up and settled in my skin. I like the idea of 40, so the idea of 38 isn’t so bad. It is a bit hard to believe that I have actually lived for 38 years, and even harder still to believe the fact that there are many parts of those years I don’t remember. Earlier years of my life are particularly fuzzy around the edges, and I find it harder to remember things all of the time. How sad to think that parts of my life have already slipped away from memory, and even sadder to think that this will only get worse as I get older.

Now that I’ve sufficiently made us all depressed about aging, how about a shift?

About a month ago, my therapist asked me if there was anything I wanted to do that I haven’t done, and I immediately answered, “Go skydiving.” She loved that idea and encouraged me to look into it and make it happen. I got excited, got online, and then I got disappointed. The thing you may not know about skydiving is that there’s a weight limit. And guess what? I exceed that limit. My heart sank when I read the words, and then the familiar sensation of disgust took over. I can’t even pay money to throw myself out of an airplane because I’m too fat! While I could choose to throw myself a huge pity party about this (and I may have done so for a few days), I have been thinking of other ways to celebrate turning 38. I thought about making a list of 38 goals to accomplish, but since my track record of achieving yearly goals has been abysmal, I felt like 38 goals might be overkill. However, I do think that I could manage a smaller list of goals, so I decided to pick something I’d like to do for 38 consecutive days. If I pick 5 goals to try one at a time for 38 days each, that will get me through more than half of the year. Then I can either add new ones or repeat these over again.  I like the idea of adding good habits to my life through “streaking,” and hopefully after 38 days each of these actions will become habits and a part of my everyday life. 

Here are my goals, in no particular order: 

  1. Drink 8 glasses of water a day.
  2. Pray for a different unreached people group every day. 
  3. Offer a specific word of encouragement to someone, either written or verbal, every day. 
  4. Read 3 chapters from the Bible every day.
  5. Establish a social media bedtime. 

All of these goals represent things that are meaningful to me: physical health, the gospel, relationships, spiritual health, and boundaries. They are areas of my life that I want to continue to develop and grow, and such growth only happens with intentional planning. I am probably going to start with the 4th goal since my spiritual health is one of my top priorities, and I have been lazy about Bible reading recently. Reading the Bible every day is something I aspire to but don’t always achieve, but I’m hoping that getting 38 days of solid reading behind me will help cement this as a daily routine.

If you could do something every day for 38 days, what would it be?

And don’t worry; next year I am definitely going skydiving!

Hello, 2016

Happy New Year to all my readers! I haven’t made goals for the year in a while, but I decided it was time to work on being more disciplined and more focused on things I hope to achieve, so I’m making goals this year. I went back and looked at blog posts from past Januarys to see what kind of goals I made and how many I made each year. The year with the most goals was definitely 2009 with 18 (what was I thinking??). Most of my goals were either related to spiritual or physical pursuits, and I guess this year will be no different. Here’s what I hope to accomplish in 2016:

  1. Write for a minimum of 5 minutes every day. I want to establish a daily writing habit, and while 5 minutes doesn’t seem like much, chances are that once I sit down and do it, I will end up writing longer than that. I love writing and yet haven’t really created anything I’m proud of in a long time, so I hope to change that this year.
  2. Read through the Bible. The last time I did this was in 2012, so it’s time for another attempt. I found it really rewarding and love that following a reading plan will add much-needed structure to my Bible study time.
  3. Finish a 5k. Obviously this won’t happen until after both of my hips are fixed (please Lord, let that become a reality), but I want to take up running again as soon as the doctor clears me to do so. I can’t even tell you how much I miss it. I think running 3.1 miles by the end of the year is doable, even if I have to run that 3.1 on December 31!
  4. Read 25 books. This is still a really modest goal, but I have to be realistic. If my log for 2014 is accurate, I only read 16 books the whole year, so 25 will still be a stretch for me. If I read more than that, wonderful! I’m going to track all of my reads on GoodReads.
  5. Stop drinking soda. If there’s a goal I’m not sure I’ll achieve, it’s this one. I drink soda on an almost-daily basis, and even though it’s mostly Coke Zero, it’s still junk I don’t need in my body (and some would say diet sodas are worse than regular soda). I don’t need soda, and quitting it will be good for my body and my wallet, too. 🙂
  6. Memorize at least 3 Psalms. I fell deeply in love with the Psalms last year, and I want to hide more of them in my heart. I’m planning to start with Psalm 145, my favorite, and then I think I will do Psalms 42 and 103, but I reserve the right to change this at a later date.

I’m looking forward to working on these goals and maybe–hopefully–achieving them. I’d love to hear about your goals as well, so leave me a comment and tell me about them.

IMG_5743

Naturally my first picture of 2016 is of this cutie. 

Same Song, Different Verse

On June 2, Stephen and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. I spent some time that week looking at pictures from our wedding and honeymoon and was reminded anew of how different I looked back then. One picture in particular stood out to me.

On our honeymoon in 2008

On our honeymoon in 2008

I filled up so much of the frame, looked so bloated. Happy, yes, but so very overweight. And while I told myself 2 weeks ago that at least I wasn’t 261 pounds anymore, that thought didn’t console me much because I have seen my weight creep up and know that as much as I tell myself I will never be 261 pounds again, it could happen if I’m not careful.

Gluttony has been my besetting sin, the sin I cannot seem to escape, for all of my life. Food is my drug, the way I self-medicate. Before I’ve finished one meal I’m thinking about what I’ll eat for the next. If I have a bad day, I want to eat. If I’m happy and feel like celebrating something, I want to eat. If I’m stressed, I want to eat. Eating is my response to virtually every emotion I feel. I hardly even know how to separate food from my feelings.

Thus, it’s no surprise that I find myself in the 200s again, wondering how I got here. And it’s not like this is new; I’ve hovered around 200 pounds since last year. I saw the 190s on the scale here and there, especially earlier this year when I was dealing with a mild UC flare (thanks, UC!), but for the most part my weight has consistently been between 200-203. I haven’t liked it there, but I’ve been struggling with so many other aspects of my health (like the aforementioned UC and hip pain that has become chronic in nature) that thinking about weight loss completely overwhelmed me. And to be honest, I didn’t want to give up anything else. I’ve been through a lot these past 2.5 years; don’t I deserve dessert? I had to stop running; can’t I enjoy a nice, fatty dinner? I know that kind of thinking is absurd, but welcome to my world!

Last Wednesday, I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app on my phone and started tracking my calories again. There are a lot of different paths I could take to lose weight, probably one for every pound currently on my body. I chose this one because it’s worked for me in the past and because it’s structured but also gives me a measure of freedom in that I can eat what I want as long as I stay within my calorie range. I’m tracking everything I eat, measuring, and eating appropriate portion sizes. If there’s room in my calorie “budget” at the end of the day, I can choose to have a sweet treat or I can eat something healthier, like an apple or protein shake. It’s not a perfect arrangement, but it’s better than what I was doing, which was eating with little thought given to my choices as long as it tasted good.

In just a few short hours, I’m going to wake up and get on the scale. I don’t know if I’ll see a loss or not. Last Wednesday I saw a number that truly saddened me: 206.4. I hadn’t seen a number that high since early 2009, so I hope that at least the number will be lower than that. But even if it’s not, I’m going to keep trying. I’m going to track my food, try to make good choices, and plead with the Lord to give me self-control at each meal, each day.

Hip, Hip, No Way

Well, hello there.

When we last met, I was in the middle of training for the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon. It was going to be my big comeback race after months of being sidelined because of ulcerative colitis. I was running regularly, albeit slowly, and I was excited about crossing that finish line.

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, I haven’t run in over 2 months due to hip and low back pain. I have had pain since summer 2013, but it was sporadic and not terrible. Then when I started running consistently again in summer 2014, I noticed the pain starting to increase, and before I knew it, it was a daily occurrence. Still, I kept running because I didn’t feel too bad when I was actually running, and I really wanted to run that half marathon. However, the pain started creeping in during my runs, and I started trimming the distance here and there. At the advice of my physical therapist, I took a full week off from running in October with the intention of trying a long run again after the break. Unfortunately, the 8 miles I had hoped to run turned into 3 because of the pain in my hip. It was then I knew that I wouldn’t be running the half marathon. I had missed too many long runs and lost too much training time. I chose not to run the half.

One of my last runs, on my birthday.

One of my last runs, on my birthday.

In the meantime, I went to an orthopedic doctor and got MRIs of my hip and back. I found out that I have arthritis in my back and trochanteric bursitis in my hip. The MRI was also suggestive of a labral tear but not conclusive, and my doctor does not seem to want to pursue that. I got one steriod injection in my hip 2 weeks before Christmas to see if that would help the near-constant pain in my hip subside. Sometimes these injections can last for 6 months or more, so I was hoping the shot would work and I could think about resuming running in the near future. Unfortunately, I only had moderate pain relief for about a week before I felt exactly as I had before getting the shot. On Monday I went back to the doctor and received a second injection in a different area of my hip. I felt immediate pain relief and was really excited, only to have the pain return again. Now I am 5 days out from that injection and wondering if this will be another failed attempt. I am not really sure where to go from here, but I am considering seeking a second opinion depending on what the doctor offers at my follow-up appointment on January 14.

Honestly, I feel like a wimp. I am a member of a running group on Facebook, and there are some pretty hardcore runners in that group, runners who have run every day for a year or more. They have run through a variety of challenging circumstances. I wanted to be like them, but I wasn’t. Could I have completed the half marathon? I don’t know. It would have been painful for sure, but I could have gotten myself across the finish line if I really wanted to. But at the time, I didn’t know exactly what was wrong with my hip and back, and I was worried about doing further damage if I kept running on it.

I felt at peace with my decision at first, but on the day of the race, I was anything but peaceful. I was downright sad and questioning my decision. I still don’t know if I did the right thing, but I do know this: there will be other races, but I only have one body. I have to believe that with time I can make it across another finish line. I don’t know when or how, especially since I’m not even cleared to run right now and walking doesn’t feel great either, but it will happen.

Until then, I have to redirect my focus. More on that to come. 🙂 Happy New Year!