Defining Progress

What is progress? It really depends on how you choose to define it. I haven’t been blogging daily about my Whole30 adventure the way I had originally set out to. I wanted to create a journal, and hopefully have it provide guidance and information to others doing Whole30 in the future. Things have changed. The first few days of my Whole30 I spent constantly searching for other people’s accounts of the program. How did they feel? What happens on Day 6? Am I going to lose these last 10 pounds? It only took me a few days to realize that it really doesn’t matter. The details of what happens to me during these 30 days dont matter to you. And shouldn’t matter to you. What should matter to you are your next 30 days, and what matters to me (now) are mine. There are a few things that matter, though: I feel good. I feel happy, I feel confident, I feel in control and so can you.

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Roasted veggies (beets, zucchini, onion, and sweet potato) and salmon..

I have failed on many ‘diet’ plans. Actually, I usually last less time than the average person. If I make it a full week with no slips, ‘cheats’, or ‘off-plan’ choices, I feel accomplished and celebrate with some ice cream (litearlly). That’s the way I am. It’s the way I’ve always been. It’s not that I don’t want to commit, and I don’t want to be healthy; it’s just that it’s exhausting. There is too much guess work for me. Too many choices, too many decisions.. You set out on the latest diet: you eat 1200 calories per day (but no fruit, because fruit has too much sugar), feel STARVING, are constantly focused on/thinking about food (maybe your body is trying to tell you something?) and are surviving off only whole-grain rice cakes and low-fat peanut butter, because you seem to get the most ‘bang for your buck’, calorie and taste wise. Then you start to question if this is even working. You haven’t lost any weight and it’s been 4 days. Your body is craving everything in sight and your brain is foggy. You’re not sure how much longer you can go on. You’re exhausted. Working out is not going to happen. Before you know it you’re head first into a Big Mac and fries (or whatever your thing is). It’s all a blurr, and you feel out of control…next thing you know you’re crying yourself to sleep because you’re such a failure. Sound familiar?

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Apple chicken sausage (so tasty..find this!) and sweet potato ‘stir fry’ with broccoli (and a salad on the side).

Today is Day 17 of my journey. I don’t feel the Tiger Blood. I don’t feel extremely energized, or super focused. But, I haven’t cried, I haven’t eaten ice cream, and I feel good. I don’t feel hungry, and I have almost mastered the art of not constantly obsessing over food. I sleep well through the night, wake up without snoozing, and at 3pm I am still in an up-right position at my desk. I am eating large, healthy, satisfying meals. I have no idea how many calories I consume..but they taste delicious, and each one of them is helping fuel my body. I have learned to distinguish between hunger and a craving. Wanting something sweet after a huge, delicious lunch is not hunger. It’s a craving, and it needs to get away from me. My pants feel looser and my stomach isn’t bloated. My digestion has improved 10-fold and my skin is clear and glowing. I haven’t given up, or even thought about it, because it’s only 30 days, I’m not starving, and I’m seeing positive changes. The expectations are reasonable,  attainable. It’s actually kind of fun…like an experiment with yourself. If this was just like any other typical diet, I wouldn’t have any of those things by this point…and they all seem pretty damn important to me.

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Delicious steak with sautéed onions and mushrooms..complete with a white potato (worth it) with broccoli and green onions!

My pre-Whole30 self is still there, but I’m slowly helping her learn to get her shit together. I still badly want to weigh myself. Every day I wake up, feel good (and skinnier, for lack of a better word), and I think “HOW MUCH WEIGHT HAVE I LOST?!” (in the interest of fulfilling every last detail and rule of the plan, I have not done this). This is something else fun that I’ve learnt, so far. I have let the scale define my progress, sense of worth, and my happiness for too long. I know that if I jumped on the scale right now and saw I hadn’t lost a pound,  I’d stop feeling good. I’d be sad, feel defeated, and want some ice cream. But in reality, why does it matter? If I’m feeling good, gaining energy, learning lots, and fueling my body for physical activity…why do I need to weigh 10 pounds less?  That’s right. I don’t. So basically, you should try this. Go to the website, take a read, and do it for yourself. Spend 30 days commited to yourself. Be selfish. Eat nuts and coconut and free-range eggs. Read labels, learn where your food comes from, and see what works for you. This is life changing.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, because I’ve heard it multiple times already: “one bite won’t hurt”, “it’s too restrictive”, “I could never give up bread”. Wrong, wrong, and very wrong (coming from the queen of bread, herself). It’s actually kind of fun to sit there, knowing you aren’t going to eat something, but just checking it out, and thinking “would that even be that good?”. Is a plain old donut from your local supermarket really worth it? Probably not. Maybe if, after 30 days, you still really want that shitty donut, you can go find a really yummy, deliciously fresh donut…and you can enjoy it without guilt because it was worth it. But trust me, that stale donut sitting on the lunch room table is not that donut. I mean, come on. For 30 days you can’t cut out crap, and just see how you feel? Maybe you’ll think it’s stupid, and maybe after 30 days you’ll go back to your old ways, but I highly doubt it..and really, that’s the worst thing that could happen.

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That’s my Whole30 take, so far. Yours will be completely different. You might lose 20 pounds, you might gain 2 (muscle, of course!). But I can guarantee you one thing, it will change your life.

Gypsy, not a Mermaid.

I feel like a gypsy lately. My life is filled with wonder, uncertainty, a little worry, and a little excitement. A lot of people write (or blog) when they’re under stress or crazy times. Not this girl. But, after a long hiatus, here I am! Back in black (and white).

I have been working up North for about two months now. Camp life is…different. I have adjusted well, and I am doing fine. It’s okay. That’s the only word I feel is adequate to describe it. If I was single (and had no doggies), I would be better than okay, but for now I will remain only okay.

There are certain pros, which help counteract the cons, that make the happy medium of ‘okay’ feel like the right word.

  • Working for 8 days and having 6 days off is nice (shh, I know lots of you work 14, 21, even more days at a time, but I’m just trying to live here, mmk?)
  • Having time every day for the gym is great.
  • Not having to cook, or make my own bed, great.
  • Money: great, gotta have money.

The cons are here, too. “Move to Alberta and get rich!”, they say, but they leave out a few important facts:

  • It’s easy to spend money when you’re home for 6 days at a time. You feel entitled. You feel like you’re on vacation. Dinner out? YES! Mini trip? YES! Hotel nights? Mmmhmm.
  • Being away from the man (and the pups) – boo…boo, boo, boo.. boohoo.
  • Missing out on life
  • Sleeping alone

Overall, as I said, it’s okay. I won’t complain about having a ‘good’ job, with a stead y income and a warm office, but with the dropping oil prices, uncertainty is rabid and who knows where I will be in a month’s time. There is talk of sending me to another site, back to the city, and I’m sure many closed-door whispers of layoffs. It’s funny how someone else can decide your future behind your back, secretly, hush-hush. But don’t worry, they’ll “figure it out”. Right now, being a mermaid is sounding pretty good.

Happy New Year, beautiful people.

Oops..

I wish I had waited until only the last minute..but nope, this girl waited until the last second (basically). I don’t know why, but the pressure just wasn’t there until today, when my lunch break rolled around and I figured “hey, I should probably grab some costumes..”.

Preface: In my adult life, I have dressed up once. It was the first Halloween J and I were together and I was a bumble bee. It was cute, but slightly revealing. I know, I know….halloween has become a massive skank-fest of half-naked girls, but I wanted to play too, and I felt good rocking it. This year, I was hoping to do something equally as ‘cute’. J loves it when I dress a bit more revealing, and I can assure you it doesn’t happen often.

So, J’s friend’s from out of town are coming over tonight. I have met them only a few times..they are older (than me), and seem light-years ahead of the game. When we all decided to do something for Halloween together, it was due to her and I mutually agreeing (over a few too many drinks) we wanted to dress up for halloween this year. Last week I really started thinking about the get-together. We are adults now, that means I need to buy snacks, right? Then I realized, I bet this couple wasn’t headed to the costume store to buy pre-packaged costumes. Nope, these are the kind of people who make their costumes. A quick text revealed I was right: she was going to be a gum ball machine, and she was just about done putting her costume together from scratch.  Oh no. I am screwed.

Well, with that, the thought of answering the door dressed as a slutty red-riding hood (first thought), and having to stand next to a gum-ball machine flashed upon me. I decided I needed to tone it down a notch… It’s horrible to say, but the idea of having to be inventive, and having to dress as something unique, rather than sexy, really ruined it for me. I pushed the thought of Halloween aside. Can I blame society for the way I feel about this holiday, please? 😉

And that brings us to today.. J’s only costume request was “I don’t know,” and “something that doesn’t suck” or something along those lines.. Great, thanks for your help, BABE.

As I shopped, thoughts of panic flashed through my mind. I couldn’t decide what I was doing in there with the other crazies.. who waits until Halloween to buy their Halloween costume?!

  1. I’m not spending 100$ on two costumes.
  2. Well, I guess we’re not dressing up afterall.
  3. That’s mean, now she will be a gum-ball machine and I will be an Ashley…
  4. Okay, it’s going to be fine. Let’s just find the cheap costume section…
  5. I need to hurry. Everyone is buying everything. Fast, Ashley, look fast!
  6. There are no cheap costumes…I guess 100$ is the penalty for being a procrastinator..
  7. I’m being little red riding hood..what will J be?
  8. Big Bad Wolf is $80..so no I am not..
  9. Oh and Little Red Riding Hood is only available in XXL.
  10. No costumes for us!
  11. Wahhhhhh…..

Just then, I found the Duck Dynasty section. J would be thrilled, I would be that much closer to being done shopping, and this took away the pressure of me trying to do couple’s costumes (that’s silly anyways, right?). Hopefully Gum-ball machine’s husband doesn’t show up as a gum ball, or I’ve failed.

Now for me, what’s something that’s sexy enough to make me smile (again, blame society..), but not slutty, and still looks inventive and like I’ve tried, thought about it, and didn’t go to the store 4 hours prior? A Greek Goddess…duhhhhh.. 30 bucks, 15 minutes wait in line for the change room, one compliment, and I was sold.

Halloween mission: ACCOMPLISHED..

Now hopefully we get lots of trick-or-treaters and they love my costume as much as I do. 🙂 Happy Halloween Everyone!!!!!

Much Love,

A

Little Monsters make my life.

I had my first shift at the shelter last night. I’ve been there a few times for orientations, and to pick up our fosters, but this was my first day hanging out with the dogs in the shelter.

I’m in love.

Since it was my first shift, I had to stay with an experienced volunteer the entire night. We walked a very pregnant Momma, “Maggie”. She was tired. We had to entice her every step with treats. We finally made it outside to the grass and we weren’t sure we’d ever get her back inside.. it must have taken 45 minutes to go 200 meters. I wonder how many puppies she will have. Next, we did a bit of ‘doggy physio’ on a dog that was found with a badly broken leg. She had to have surgery to get her tail amputated and has about 20 staples up her leg. Her sad little eyes and underbite were magnified by the plastic cone around her head. Poor baby. We fed her treats, gave her lots of cuddles, and stretched her leg muscles out for her. She was unimpressed at first, but eventually realized that the pain in her leg was a fair trade-off for all the ear scratches. It’s amazing and beautiful to me how forgiving these animals can be, even after all they’ve been through. If only people could be more like dogs.

Now comes the part where I bring home another foster puppy (oops!). He was so sad, and all his brothers and sister’s were going to foster homes already. I couldn’t leave him all alone overnight in that scary kennel, could I? Nope. It was decided. I texted J and told him not to hate me..I think he knows what that means now. At the end of the night, little Sullivan and I packed a crate with all the supplies we will need for our short time together. We cruised home, with Sullivan whining periodically, and only stopping when I put my fingers through the tiny holes in the side of his crate. He is so, so small. Dont worry, little man, you’re safe now.

When we arrived home, J was sitting on the couch looking little more than unimpressed. I was prepared for him to be upset..but I had already decided that me and little man would do our absolute best to take care of ourselves, and wouldn’t ask J for any help (he loves puppies in moderation, and lately I’ve been giving him puppies in overload). I put the crate down and let the three current canine residents sniff him out for a bit while I walked over to the couch..he smiled at me. That same smile that I fell in love with, dimples and all. “Well, let’s see him,” he said, still smiling (although I could tell he was fighting it back ;)). God I love that man.

Welcome to your ‘for-now’ home, Sullivan! I can’t wait to meet your forever family.

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P.S. If you think fostering might be something you’d be interested in, I highly recommend looking into it. Taking one dog out of a kennel, or run at a shelter makes room for them to save another life. Often times (as in our case) you are provided free of charge with everything you need: food, crates, toys, collars and leashes, even food and water bowls. All you need is to provide a loving, safe environment for the dog until they find their new family. Google it to find a rescue in your area! 🙂

New goals, fresh start.

Before the wedding, I was getting a bit obsessed with ‘getting fit’. I was working out to exhaustion, eating specifically according to my ‘plan’, and working with a ‘coach’. I say coach in quotations because, looking back, I should have listened to my husband: she had no idea. She made me cut out foods that I loved, and I listened. I’m not talking chips and cookies here, either. I’m talking organic, unsweetened coconut milk in my smoothies. But she told me it was bad, so I listened. She made me stop eating carbs at lunch, and I listened.

Guess what happened? I was cranky, upset, hungry (at times), over full (at other times)..but most of all, I wanted coconut milk, and carbs at night. BADLY.

I was so worried about the wedding. I was so, so paniced. The used-to-be fat girl inside of me kept worrying that when I got my wedding pictures back I would regret it. This was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. If I hated the way I looked in my wedding photos, I’d always regret it.

The big day came, I had my hair and my makeup done, my Mom laced me into my dress, and I put on my earings. Guess what? Not once did I think about what size I looked. Not once. For me, this was a miracle.

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I went the entire day, and I felt like a princess. I was so happy, and so surrounded by people I loved. It was magical. And I didn’t think about my size. Not once.

On our honeymoon, I walked around in my little bitty bikini…and I rocked it (at least I think I did). I ate way too much food, and I had absolutely anything and everything I wanted for two whole weeks. I didn’t worry about a carb, a fat, and a protein with every meal. I didn’t have 6 meals a day or stop eating carbs at lunch, I just ate. I just lived.

After 14 days of this craziness, we flew back home. I mustered up the courage to climb aboard the scale to judge the damages. Pulling the blue glass scale out from beside the bathroom sink, all those feelings came back. I hadn’t even weighed myself yet and I was thinking “you shouldn’t have eaten all that”. Guess what? I lost 4 pounds during our trip.

I joked with J that the ‘burger’ diet was good for me, and he smiled. He loves seeing me confident in myself, I can tell. “I told you,” he said “you just have to eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full. I know you’ll never let yourself go overboard”. I love him.

So that, my friends, is my new plan. Since we only really buy organic fruits and veggies, grass-fed meats, and whole grains, I should be good to go. Noted that this ‘plan’ probably wouldn’t work for someone who’s taste buds are in a loving relationship with oreos and lucky charms, but I think I’ve got this in the bag.

I am going to up the workouts now that we’re back, and I’m going to eat like a normal, healthy person. Lots of fruits, lots of veggies, and carbs whenever I damn well feel. If I want ice cream, or frozen yogurt, I’m going to eat it..just not for five consecutive days. I am excited to see what happens next. I want abs, and we all know those are made in the kitchen. Come on kitchen, get cooking! 😉

I feel happy…and I feel healthy. I could get used to this wife stuff.

More than I can swallow

I keep thinking maybe I have bitten off more than I can chew…but how could that be? Maybe it’s a reasonable amount to bite, and a fair amount to safely chew, but the swallowing isn’t really working for me.  

In reality, I’m not doing any more than the average person, but wow, I am exhausted. This, my friends, is a whole new level of tired for me, it’s not the ‘Oh, I need to get 8 hours tonight” kind of exhaustion, but it’s more like “I need a week where I don’t have to do anything but sleep, and all my responsibilities are being taken care of by someone who has the same motivation as I do”…haaaaa. Ya think that’ll ever happen?

The best way I can explain this is emotional exhaustion..but it’s almost past that point. It’s Monday, I just had a full two days off to relax, and I simply cannot fathom sitting here at work all day.. I won’t make it. I have a pounding headache, and my eyes can barely stay open, nevermind focus on anything. I have no patience, and I am uninterested in doing my work. What the hell is going on?

People with children, I have no idea how you do it. I cannot imagine ever having that ability. You are amazing.

I am trying not to be a whiner. I am 25, I don’t have kids (see above point…and again, HOW do you do it?), I work full-time (but who doesn’t?), try to work out at the gym daily, and I have dogs (too. many. dogs.). I have a husband, and a house which is way too big for us (no one informed me that even if you don’t use your two spare bedrooms, they still manage to need cleaning..or they end up as storage areas for everything you don’t want to deal with). Still,  sound’s do-able, right? It’s a moderate work load. So why is it that I am so exhausted? I honestly don’t get it…and trust me, I’ve tried to put on my big girl panties and get it done. I can’t. Not without crying and having a break down about how everything is just too much. Every day I try to think of something to quit to lessen the load: my job (please can I win the lottery and be a puppy rescuer?), the gym (but I know that will make things 10X worse), the dogs (hahahaha…kidding, never). None of those things are reasonable. I need to get it together.

Since I was diagnosed hypothyroidism/ Hashimoto’s, I promised I’d never use it as an excuse. I will not gain weight, I will not say I can’t lose it, I will never be too tired to get out of bed, or not have the energy to stay awake at work. Nope. Screw you, Hashimoto’s. But I’m starting to think that might just be the cause of this problem…

Ahh, I need a snuggle, and my naturopath. I missed my appointment this weekend, too, and now I can’t get in for another two weeks.

Why? Because, well, this happened:

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Yeah, that’s a cast, for his broken knee. I cried like a uncontrolable baby when they told us the x-ray results. How could I let that happen?! (Again, people with kids….? HOW?!). Oh, and did I mention that I am IN LOVE with this little guy? Did I mention that the day after this little incident occurred, we had someone coming to meet and adopt him, and I was happy he would be leaving so I didn’t get even more attached? Oh, and now he has to stay with us for 6+ weeks while he heals? Oh, and did I mention that he’s SO snuggly, sweet, and possibly even cuter than before with his little yellow cast? Great, just great, Sam. Please don’t make me keep you, Dad will be so mad.. ❤

Thanks for listening. 😉

 

 

The secret of marriage..

Is there a secret?

I’m starting to think there are hundreds.

I’ll admit, I have only been married 34 days..and this is nothing in the grand scheme of life. While this may be true, boy am I devoting a lot of time to figuring it out. I’m sure we will spend the next 50+ years finding the true ‘secret’, and while I hope we love every minute of it, reality is that we probably will not.

We have already had a few arguements as a married couple. Whoever said “honeymoon stage” is a beautiful walk in the park with nothing but roses and butterflies was wrong (at least in our case). However, on the bright side, we both seem to have more patience, understanding, and interest in making arguments beneficial and productive. We have both discussed how this is due to many factors, one of which being my new found ability to just walk away and take a break.

Before we got married, we attended a marriage preparation course (highly recommended). While it was difficult to find said course without a religious affiliation, it was worth the hunt. One of the main things I took away from this was: it’s okay to take time apart in the middle of an arguement. When they told us this in class, I automatically tuned my brain into the “this is stupid” mode, and prepared to stop listening for the rest of the day ( I may be slightly synical..and bitter..). However, this was followed by them saying “as long as you let eachother know before the break starts”. I started listening again. “If you are in the middle of an argument, and you need a break, tell your spouse you need time to cool off and give them a time period as to when you will continue the arguement.” For all you men, J hates this approach, but it works so well for me that I think he is starting to see the benefit. The ‘rescheduling’ can be anywhere from 5 minutes to the next day. It seems so silly, but when he says to me “I’m going out to work on my truck. We can talk about this in an hour.” I don’t feel abandoned. I don’t feel like he is running away, I feel (probably how a man feels) like we are just taking a simple break. Woohoo! That little trick has got to make the list.

Trick 2: A few months ago (prior to being married), J and I had had an argument the night before. I honestly don’t even remember what it was about now, but at the time it was a sadness inducing, day-ruining, all out cry-fest (it’s funny how that works, isn’t it?). I was sitting in my office, feeling sorry for myself and dwelling on the situation when a male co-worker (he’s happily married and seems to know lots of said ‘secrets’) came into my office. We have a good relationship and so I explained the situation to him (leaving out all the crazy woman details of how my heart was never going to recover and how I just wanted to eat a tub of vanilla bean ice cream), and he paused for a second. I was waiting for him to come back at me with some kind of silly comment about how I needed to calm down, give him space, or stop nagging… but instead, he walked over to the white board in my office and wrote “CALM COMMUNICATION”, all in capital letters. “It’s so simple,” he explained “as soon as my wife comes at me with a complaint and she’s mad or upset or crying, I automatically don’t want to listen.”  Jerk, I thought (cynical, bitter me emerged once again).  He then continued “if you approach him calmly, he’ll be more likely to want to listen. Don’t yell, or cry, or sound ‘bitchy’, just relax, and explain.”. Guess what? It works. It works so freaking well that it HAS to be a secret. But not anymore, you’re welcome 😉

And that is why it has remained on my white board for the past 6+ months….

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And, because it’s Friday and these little guys are going to be adopted really, really soon ( 😥 ), here’s a daily dose of cuteness:

riley sam

 

 

25 days..

Our wedding is coming up fast..like really fast. It feels like yesterday that I was sitting on the couch with Jamie discussing vendor payments that were due at the 6-month mark. Well, we definitely don’t have 6 months anymore. I’ve put in four solid months of healthy eating and exercising, I’ve been praticing trying to be a ‘wife’ and do laundry (without waiting for 10 loads to be ready..) and make dinner, and pack lunches with fresh baked goods. I’ve started cleaning up every night after dinner (instead of leaving the mess for the next day), and the dish washer hasn’t sat clean for more than an hour before the dishes made their way back to their place in the cupboards. I am starting to feel like a grown up.

And then last night it finally hit me. I am getting married in just over 3 weeks. We are no longer able to use the word “month” when describing the distance of the wedding. Not even “one month away”. Nope, we even passed that. We are now at weeks. Weeks away. We were sitting on the couch, facing one another, and I grabbed both of his hands. I think I squeezed almost too tight for comfort, and all I could say was “I’m so glad you’re going to be there.. it would be way too scary without you”. It brought tears to my eyes. Not sad tears, just happy, nervous tears. We are really doing this.GOP-Engagement-18-XL

I’m not going to lie, the whole thing feels strange. It feels a bit scary and it feels a bit too ‘adult’ for me. It feels right, don’t get me wrong, and I am ready to get married, and obviously I am completely sure of what I want, but it still seems a bit surreal. I mean, we are planning our WEDDING and subsequently our MARRIAGE. I am going to be a WIFE and have a HUSBAND. Next we are going to be flying away on our honeymoon, just the two of us. Soon we will be planning for children (don’t tell James I said soon…it makes him panic, too) and I’ll be having a little baby with cute little dimples, just like it’s Dad.  In a way, I just thought I’d feel different when this time came, I’d feel prepared and ready and like a real adult.

When I was 20-ish and in my second year of University, I remember asking my Mom when I would start feeling like an “adult”. To me, that meant feeling truly independent, not wanting to cry to my Mom when I was upset, and not craving hugs from my family when I was away from home. It meant being confident in my decisions, and not having a mini panic-attack when signing mortgage papers with James without my Mom present (yes, I actually had that thought). I remember her telling me that I was a grown-up. That my mindset was probably pretty much developed, my views and opinions were there, and all that was left were some life lessons and some time to grow internally. She said I would always need my Mom (and that she still needed Grandma), and I’d never stop having a tiny part of me that didn’t feel fully ready. Man, she was right. I don’t think I’ll ever get over needing hugs from my Momma, or stop missing the fresh, comfy, safeness of my bed at Grandma’s house.

Anyways, I guess that was a bit of an aside (^^) sorry… hahagop-engagement-7

I can’t wait to put on my dress, and get my hair all done up and be surrounded by everyone I love and care about. I cannot wait to walk down the aisle towards James and see his face. I will probably start running once I see him (towards him, of course) so I can sneak in a quick hug before I pass out… Here’s to the next three weeks!

Just because I am SO curious…do my quick poll. I’m having a deep day, I want some deep advice.

 

Love,

Ashley.

 

 

Defining Moments

Yesterday, my Dad must have been taking a trip down memory lane as I received a few consecutive pictures in my Facebook inbox. There I was. A beautiful, dark haired little girl with her bangs cut straight across, wearing my early 90’s finest and blowing out the candles on my birthday cake. What was I thinking in that moment? I bet I was excited it was my birthday, and even more excited for cake.

I wonder what my wish was?
I wonder what my wish was?

The picture made me sad, almost instantly. I’ve never seen it before and I feel like I have no idea who that little girl is. I can see my round little nose and my big brown eyes and my dark hair..I can see it all. That’s me. That’s where I started. It made me wonder where things changed. When did I stop being this innocent, happy little girl? When did I become this person who is so critical of herself? This girl who spent years crying when she looked in the mirror, wishing she could have a different nose and a skinnier body, and no stretch marks, and even longer agnoizing over her future and what it would be like. What changed?

I wasn’t born fat, but I got there pretty quickly. I was a chubby kid (not quite unhealthy, but plump). When I started kindergarten I was bigger than the other kids, but I was always tall and had a large structure (I won’t say big boned, because we won’t go there…haha). I didn’t feel weird or out of place then.

My Dad left when I was 3. I have no memories of my family as a perfect little “unit”. My mom went to school and worked a night job–I spent most of my younger years at my Grandma’s. She fed me whatever I wantedfood is love, you know. It is abnormal for a 7-year old child to feel like I felt. I developed OCD and ate like crazy. Food made me feel safe. Hiding in my room made me feel safe. My Mom was stressed and she was busy.. She had so much going on, but she still did everything she could have done. She yelled sometimes like any normal parent, but I don’t think it ever crossed the line of ‘normal’. I hope one day I will be as amazing of a parent as she was. I don’t know what distinguished me from the other kids, or what made me have these feelings, but I don’t believe anything my family could have said or done would have changed it.. It was something deep inside of me. It’s who I was. By the time I was in my first year at University, I was 220lbs and miserable. I was just existing.

There are several, defining moments that stick out when I think about when everything changed. When did I loose that happiness, and that innocence? When did I stop feeling like that happy little girl in the picture and star feeling like the fat, unhappy  girl (the one that still lives in a big part of my heart and soul). Now of course, my life isn’t defined by these moments but they definitely made an impact. They are so small and so seemingly insignificant, but I think they’ll always be etched in my memories.

I remember in Second Grade, measuring the school field with a partner–we had one of those wheels on a stick that clicks for every meter travelled? I was pushing it around and he was walking slightly behind me. He said he was cold and I said I wasn’t.

“It’s because of all your whale blubber.”

It’s funny now, I guess. It was a witty comment for a second grader, but man it hurt.. I remember waiting until I got home after school, locking myself in my room and crying. I’m sure that little boy doesn’t remember that. I’m sure he said it, and that was that. Funny how that works.

I vividly remember standing outside my fourth grade classroom in my purple leggings and having kids tease me as they walked by.  I remember leaning up against the hard, brick wall with my backpack in front me, feeling so alone and trying to hide my pants from the kids as they walked by. All the other girls could wear leggings..but I was different. I was fat. I remember trying to hide the fact that I got teased. I didn’t want my Mom to think less of me or to be embarassed of me. From such an early age I was so worried about disapointing her..I didn’t want her to know she had the fat daughter that no one liked–she deserved more.

And then there was  back-to-school shopping. The one, dreadful year that I transitioned into adult clothes. I hated them. I didn’t want to wear old lady clothes..but I didn’t fit into kids clothes anymore. This was probably around Grade 5. I remember my Mom standing outside the change room while I tried to hold back my tears, telling me it wasn’t her fault I didn’t fit in kids clothes–I was just too big. I remember this day so vividly. I remember the feeling I had, and being so hurt by my Mom.  I’ve never told her this, and I’m sure I never will.

I wish I could go back to that happy little girl blowing out her candles and tell her she was beautiful. I wish I could help her become a confident, happy young lady. I wish I could go back to that 14-year old who quit basketball because she didn’t want to wear shorts and tell her she was GORGEOUS. I wish I could run back and tell her everything would be okay, and she’d be getting married to the man of her dreams (who is SO, so, so, SO, SO, SO handsome), and that she’d have a beautiful home, and beautiful puppies, and a happy, happy life. But I can’t go back, all I can do is go forward…and going forward, my outlook is going to change.

I can’t explain how this strange, random sequence of thoughts has occured in the past few days since receiving those pictures…but this is one of those moments. All I’ve been thinking about is how I wish I could go back and change so many things, but I can’t. All of them are just thoughts, and feelings, too: I wish I had more confidence, I wish I was happier and that I’d made different choices. But maybe I don’t need to go back, maybe all those things made me the woman I am today. I am learning to love her. She is a beautiful, compassionate person. She has more empathy than a lot of people, and loves deeper than anyone I’ve met. From this day forward, I am going to start loving that girl. I’m going to eat chocolate when I want and not feel guilty, and I’m going to run like the wind. I’m going to wear a bikini on my honeymoon and rock it, stretch marks and all. Everything is going to be okay. I’m going to make that little girl proud.

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