So Much For Being My Most Impressive Self

Today I’m writing from beneath the comfort of my favorite new blanket. My friend Megan gave it to me for my birthday and I love it because it is the exact weight that a blanket should be. Just heavy enough to feel cozy but not so heavy that you feel trapped. Lately I keep wrapping up in this blanket and staring out my window while I wonder what to write about.

I think I’m still experiencing a little bit of burnout after writing every single day in the month of October. But I’ve taken a long enough break and now I feel all the words brewing again so I need to just start getting them out (because word-constipation is a real and serious affliction y’all).

As usual, life has been busy and full and hard and hilarious. I’ve written a bit lately about some of the heavier things happening in my heart but luckily for you, today I don’t feel heavy. Today I’m happily wrapped in my good blanket and I’m getting very excited for Christmas morning- mostly because we have a big surprise for the kids this year.

A few days after Christmas we are flying to Hawaii to join our best friends for a week of sun, fun, and hopefully not getting terribly sunburned. This may be asking too much for a family of palies who’s skin is basically the color of blue iced milk, but whatever. As long as there are cocktails with umbrellas I shall soldier on, regardless of what shade of magenta my skin is.

This plan was hatched over a year ago which means that I have kept a secret for an entire year. If you know me at all, you know that this is basically the biggest Christmas Miracle of all. I am not good at faking or lying or keeping exciting tidbits to myself. I’ve almost blown it in front of the kids at least a hundred times. If I can just keep a lid on it for 5 more days it’ll be arguably the biggest accomplishment of my life.

I keep daydreaming about the children’s reaction, envisioning them jumping up and down, squealing, and thanking us profusely while maybe a single tear falls from their unbelieving eyes the moment we tell them, but I should probably reign that in because more than likely they’ll be over-tired or overstimulated after opening presents and their real life reaction may not live up to my theatrical standards.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

There are three more things that bear mentioning here before I crawl out from under my blanket and start doing productive things that require me to move the rest of my body.

1) We recently had foreign exchange students come stay with us for the weekend and it was basically the biggest deal of my 8 year old daughter’s life. Because TEENAGERS. FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY.

It really doesn’t get more exotic than that as far as she’s concerned. For an entire week all she could talk about was how she hoped they’d all be girls from Paris. She pleaded with us to be our most impressive selves, threatened her little brother not to embarrass her, and reminded us to dress nice “you know, so they don’t think we’re junky.”

Our 6 year old son was indifferent to the whole prospect, not to mention more than a little put out that he’d have to wear clothes all weekend instead of his usual loungewear, which consists of underwear, his favorite blanket, and nothing else.

Bella fidgeted and tidied herself into a frenzy, waiting for the foreigners to arrive. She moved every tchotchke I own to her liking. Even the fridge magnets were straightened. I expected her to launch herself at the teenagers the moment they arrived but instead both of my kids were overcome with a bout of shyness and things got super weird for a while.

When the exchange students arrived I was struck by how bubbly, sweet, well-spoken, and mature they were. There were two from Spain, one from Taiwan, and one from Denmark. They offered to cook with us, thanked us at every turn, and tried valiantly to play with the kids- who were acting stranger by the minute. For the first hour they apparently lost their ability to speak words audibly and instead only nodded and tugged on my shirt to communicate. That’s when they weren’t hiding out in the playroom suddenly pretending to be interested in all their toys. Fakers.

Finally they emerged and joined us for dinner but I’m sad to tell you that the awkwardness only got worse. (Sometimes it has to get worse before it can get better, right?) At one point my son was literally half-shouting to them in one word staccatos from under the dining room table. Because heard and not seen is apparently where he’s the most comfortable these days. So much for being our most impressive selves.

Eventually the kids got over their shyness and we had a lovely, interesting weekend with “the foreigners”. I was quite impressed with how polite and self possessed they were at just 16 years old. Before leaving, they hugged us and made our day when they told us we were “the coolest house parents ever” and that we must host an exchange student for a year because, well, we just simply must.

2) I’ve shared with you guys often here about my fitness journey (by the way, I’m really sorry for calling it a “fitness journey”. I cringe every time I hear the work “journey” because ever since the Bachelor franchise started overusing it, it’s just never been the same for me.)

I shared with you that 6 months ago I realized I no longer had the lithe, speedily metabolized body of my 20 year old self. Which is okay, because I’m not my 20 year old self anymore, I’m a 34 year old mom of two. But after a few years of yo-yo dieting I had damaged my metabolism along with my body image in the process. I looked in the mirror and realized I had what Amy Schumer refers to as an “at-risk” chin. I needed balance. I needed change. I needed to regain the confidence that I could actually change my body if I wanted to. I needed to feel comfortable in my own skin again.

I enlisted the help of a friend, who taught me so much about fueling my body with food (SO MUCH MORE FOOD!) and about the importance of incorporating some weight lifting to build muscle. With her guidance I implemented The Plan and I’ve since been able to heal my metabolism, increase my food intake by a ton, eat carbs all the time (praisejesushallelujah) and totally change my body composition.

In the last 5 months I’ve lost 18 pounds and over 10 inches all around. I eat balanced meals from all food groups and haven’t done anything extreme in my diet. I’ve taken the slow and steady route and for once I can honestly say that I haven’t felt miserable for a single day of it. There were no shortcuts, no magic pills, just lots of hard work and sweat. I still have a way to go to reach my goals and gain more muscle definition but I feel less panicked and more in control. I feel healthier, stronger, and I feel like ME again.

I’m a little hesitant to show you my “before” picture because let’s all be real here, that’s not exactly an image I want you to have in your head, but at the same token, it’s real. And I’m all about keeping it real. So here is my progress report.

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My body has changed for the better but more importantly my relationship with food has changed for the better. Food is food. Food is fuel. Give me my carbs. The end.

Thirdly, and lastly, I want to tell you guys that 2015 has been a wild year. I don’t know about you, but for me, it was full of unexpected plot twists, character development, and climactic moments of adversity. After all, God doesn’t write boring stories, right? As I do every year, I’ve been thinking and praying about my Word Of The Year for 2016 and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Stay tuned…

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