Archive | February, 2009

Inspirations from a Shopaholic

22 Feb

I just got back from seeing Confessions of a Shopaholic with 2 of my girl friends. SUCH a cute movie! *Sigh* I love chick flicks. There’s nothing like a good girlie movie to put you in a good mood!

I left the movie theater feeling inspired, uplifted, hopeful. Not because I feel like my spending problems have finally been put in perspective (since I don’t have spending problems) but because the character of Rebecca Bloomberg made me realize a few things.

1. It’s okay to be a girlie girl. I’ll admit it: I love shiny things. I love sparkles and glitter–even just the words. I love being pampered with spa treatments, hair cuts and dyes, makeup, manicures, pedicures. I love bright colors, new clothes, fun purses, cute shoes, and the perfect accessories. My love for those things used to get me in a bunch of trouble a la Rebecca Bloomwood (though not quite to that extent) but since becoming a Christian, my priorities have changed and I realize that no, a cute new perfect-with-this-outfit purse is not going to make me happy.

But so often, I get trapped into the mentality that to be a happy, carefree, clueless-about-certain-things kind of girl is a no-no. You have to be serious, smart, and sensible. Um, no I don’t! 

2. It’s okay to be yourself. Throughout the movie, Rebecca Bloomwood gets into enough awkward social situations that I’m pretty sure I watched 3/4 of the movie through my fingers because my hands were covering my face in empathetic embarrassment. But she has a contagious personality and everyone loves her.

Yes, it is a movie (originally a fictitious book) but I think that there is a message there nonetheless: embrace who you are. You may be awkward in social situations, say things at the wrong time, do stupid things without thinking about them, and get yourself into situations that are humiliating yet humbling. But if that’s who you are, then embrace it!

I have the blessing/curse of being analytical about everything. It’s a blessing as a writer but a curse in any social situation. Instead of being myself and saying whatever I’m thinking around other people, I analyze it first, think about how it would sound if I said it, wonder how the others will receive it. It holds me back often. Even though I cringed at all her faux pas, I want to be more like Rebecca Bloomwood: vivacious, audacious, and lively.

3. Life should be full of adventure and challenge. God did not intend for life to be sterile and predictable. As a creature of comfort, this is a truth that I so quickly forget (or in many instances, ignore). A predictable life is easy. But it’s also boring and a shame.

A lot of Rebecca Bloomwood’s drama is her own fault–she has told lies, dodged creditors and they are coming back to bite her. But some of the excitement comes from who she is–she goes after what she wants and is determined. She puts herself into intimidating circumstances (like the business press conference at the beginning when she stands up and asks a question and the APA conference where she meets dozens of fellow journalists). Again, it is a movie and my life will never resemble hers. But it snapped me out of my ho-hum existence and reminded me that there’s more to life than this.

It is this realization that makes me especially grateful for my husband. He makes life unpredictable. He is always playing around, singing, whistling, joking. I’m always serious. I think I could learn a thing or two from Travis about lightening up a bit and not taking everything so seriously–about having fun in life!

So there you have it folks, the inspirations I took away from a Shopaholic. I highly recommend the movie if you like chick flicks.

Food.

21 Feb

It’s a powerful thing, isn’t it? It’s the thing that keeps us alive…but when we eat too much, it kills us (albeit indirectly). The stereotypical modern American lifestyle revolves around it. Every occasion is an occasion to eat. And eat, we do.

I have a hard time with food. Mostly because I have a hard time with my body image. I exercise and eat right for the health benefits, yes. But I would lying if I didn’t say that 95% of the reason I do those things is because I want to look a certain way.

That may come as a surprise to some since I’ve been fairly thin my whole life. Growing up, I had a fast metabolism and never worried about what I ate or how much. I just ate whatever I wanted. If I wanted a doughnut, I ate a doughnut. If I wanted a chocolate milk and PB&J on a bagel for lunch every day for months, I ate it. I was free from worry about food.

I envy those days. I want them back. My life now is consuming with thinking about food. Make sure I eat a certain number of calories, consume enough protein, don’t eat refined carbs, stay away from fried foods, and on and on and on.  

All self-imposed rules, might I add.

This issue is coming to the forefront now because I have been counting calories for the past 3 months. Counting calories was something I had steered clear of for several years after becoming a Christian because I felt like I couldn’t do it without my body and weight becoming idols. I even blogged about this very thing a little less than a year ago.

But somehow, this time I was able to convince myself that monitoring my calorie intake with a microscope was ok, that in fact, I was taking better care of my body by making sure I didn’t eat more calories than my body really needed. And I was making sure that I consumed enough protein (something my diet legitimately lacks, since I am not a meat lover).  

No matter how long I think about it or in what way I think about it, I can’t come up with a God-glorifying justification that I actually believe. I just don’t buy it. For me, this can’t be glorifying to God. How can it be? I’m living trapped in this fear of overeating and gaining weight. Other Christians may be able to diligently diet in faith. I am not one of them.

It’s sadly a truth I’ve known all along and tried to deny. I didn’t want that to be the truth because that meant I wasn’t glorifying God. Which meant that I shouldn’t be dieting. Which meant that I would gain weight. And that would be the most horrible thing in the world (I am being facetious). 

So after a few days of uncontrolled eating (and way too many sweets), I’ve admitted that not only is calorie counting not working (because it makes me feel either constantly deprived or anxious about eating), it’s wasting my life. The physical body I live in right now is not immortal. I won’t have this body in eternity. I will have a new body, a perfect body. A body that will no longer be my idol. Just think of all the prayers I could say or verses I could memorize if I channeled my obsessive energies there!

I admit that giving dieting up scares me. It is the area of my life that I control. If I count my calories, I get to decide how much I weigh and what my body looks like. If I let go and trust my body and God for natural cues, He gets to decide it. What if He decides to make me fat?!? is the thought that immediately runs through my mind.

FYI, I know that thought is stupid.

But it’s my fear that helps me see that not only does faith apply to this situation, it is necessary for success. I can’t conquer this alone. I need the Lord to help me. I need to trust that: 

1) He cares deeply about even this vain little trial. “I came that you may have life and have it abundantly,” Jesus said. 

2) He has equipped and will sustain me with everything I need to live a life that is glorifying to Him, weight issues included.

3) He will continue to love me unconditionally and perfectly through it all, even when I fail, sin and pity myself.

4) His definition of beauty is the one that matters and is valid. The world’s definition does not and is not.

5) I am fearfully and wonderfully made. That means that not only am I beautiful the way I am (because I reflect Christ in me) but my body is an amazing thing that baffles even the smartest scientists. It is an intelligent work of art and I need to respect it…by trusting it to know what it needs instead of using external cues to determine that.

I am re-reading the book Intuitive Eating. I liked the book when I read it before but I realize now that I was trapped in what they call the “One Last Diet” mentality, thinking that if I did just one more diet, I would finally reach the point where I was satisfied with my body and once I got there, I could then figure it all out.

Well, I still haven’t gotten there so I’m re-reading the book. I’m taking it seriously this time and fighting the urge to count calories. I am done with that!! (Feel free to ask me anytime if I stuck to that!) No more diets for me. This book isn’t necessarily biblical but it’s all about listening to your body, respecting it, and taking care of it–a lifestyle that I feel would honor and glorify God more than dieting does.

So there you have it. I plan to blog about how things are going. I’m sure that there will other random crap thrown in along with it but hopefully, this “journey” will benefit others as well.

One Month…

16 Feb

until I’ll be sitting on a beach in Mexico with a Kahlua Mudslide in my hand, the sun on my face, and the sand beneath my feet.

Since yesterday marks a month until our vacation, I thought I would give an update on my goals for 2009 and the deal Travis and I have to not eat sweets, except on Sundays.

First, I’ve been doing pretty good with my goals. I haven’t met them all every week (I have ended up missing a day in the Word here and there) but I have met almost all of them most weeks.

Spiritually, I have been memorizing one verse each week, listening to a sermon (besides the one in church on Sunday) every week, and studying my Bible every day.

Physically, I have been exercising 5-7 days a week, though I haven’t strictly adhered to the schedule of what I would do each day. As much as I try to coax my personality into being planned and predictable, it’s just not me. I fly by the seat of my pants, exercise included. So I have been mixing it up between step aerobics (after taking a 2-week hiatus because of the nice weather more given to running), running outside, elliptical intervals, and 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels (a killer workout if I do say so myself!)

My eating has been pretty good. I do really well during the week because I have the structure of work hours and I bring all my food to work so I can’t eat more food by just walking into the kitchen. As such, weekends are a little more sketchy. I tend to overeat carbs when I’m tired and lazy, which frequently happens on the weekends (cereal being the most frequent victim).

This past weekend, Valentine’s Day and then our V-Day dinner last night (which was delicious and wonderful, BTW!) should have made out for a huge calorie blowout but I actually planned out my meals, controlled my hunger and kept active. So it was a lot better than it could have been.

Though I have still been counting calories every day in preparation for Mexico, I really want to go back to Intuitive Eating after the vacation. I’m sick of worrying about the calories in every single bit of food and staying under a certain limit. But I will say that it has helped me get an understanding of how much food I need each day, what portion sizes look like, and how much easier it is to eat 500 calories than it is to burn it off through exercise (or even to just cut it out of your diet!).

As far as our little n0-sweets deal, it has been going surprisingly well. There are those stressful days when we both long for chocolate (me) or a Mountain Dew pick-me-up (Travis). But I’d say we have stuck to the plan about 95%. Travis caved and had a pop a few weeks ago and then had some Girl Scout cookies today. I have had a few caramel lattes and frappucinos from Starbuck’s (though they were all skinny ones with no whip!)

In a way, I actually like having this deal going because then I have an excuse to say no when people offer me cookies and cake and candy at work. It’s a strange phenomenon that ladies on The Nest’s Health and Fitness board have observed: eating is a social thing. By turning down someone’s brownies, they somehow feel that you are turning them down as people. Like if you don’t want their chocolatey, gooey goodness, you don’t want to be their friend either.

I noticed this at my last job back in Minnesota. Every Monday, in order to encourage their employees to come to work on time (and let’s face it, come to work period), they would cater in donuts and bagels. Well, donuts pretty much have negative nutritional value and bagels are 300-400 calories of refined carbs that leave you hungry an hour later so needless to say, I always ate my breakfast at home.

Maybe it was their goodwill but I swear, because I was one of very few people who remained at their desk instead of racing to the door the minute the donuts were delivered, people went out of their way to make sure I knew the donuts had been delivered.

“Kathy, there are donuts in the kitchen.”

“Uh huh, thanks!”

“Kathy, did you know that the donuts are here?”

“Yep, thanks! I just don’t want one.”

“Kathy, did you get a donut? There aren’t many left in there!”

“No I didn’t get one but really, I’m O-K.”

Dare 2 Share is not immune to this…but then, I don’t know if any American corporate workplace is.

Anyway, I feel like because I have this deal with Travis, I finally have an acceptable excuse to not indulge every whim that comes along. Because wanting to be healthy and not each tons of extra empty calories is a silly thing for a girl like me to do, right?

Well, this post that was supposed to be short has turned into a post that is accidentally long. So I’m going to go to bed now!

V-day Update

15 Feb

Look at me, being so on the ball! I got up this morning at 6:50 AM without an alarm clock!

Anyway, so our day yesterday was sooo fun! We left the house around 6:45 AM (a little later than we wanted to leave) and since we had to stop at Travis’ boss’ house in Evergreen to borrow a pair of snowshoes, we hit the ski traffic going up I-70. Boo.

All least the drive into Evergreen was beautiful.

All least the drive into Evergreen was beautiful.

All in all, it took us an hour longer to get to Glenwood Springs than it should have. But I really enjoyed the drive (despite the wet roads and aggressive drivers that almost made me crap my pants). Travis and I talked about Romans 5-6, about sin, death, justification, and Christ. Travis is such an intelligent, educated man and one of the many things that made me fall in love with him is his ability to have deep conversations about lots of different things. We definitely need to have talks like that more often.

Right before you hit Glenwood Springs on westbound I-70, you pass through Glenwood Canyon, a narrow canyon with steep walls on both sides and a river running through the middle. Due to the lack of space, the westbound lanes were built off the ground and the eastbound lanes were built next to the river.

(picture from Wikipedia)

Travis said it’s an engineering marvel. Whether it’s an engineering one or not, it definitely is a marvel of beauty.

Here are the pictures I took of it:

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We made it to Sunlight Mountain Resort around 11:00 and after several trips back and forth from the car to the rental shop and bathroom, we got on the trail. Still with a Minnesota it’s-freezing-outside mindset, we had dressed in layers. We quickly realized that we were going to be way too freakin’ hot because it was about 30 degrees out and we were workin’ up a sweat. Even before we had set out, my legs were sweating underneath my Smartwool longjohns, Smartwool socks, and winter boots.

But to avoid yet another trip back to the car, I just took my jacket, mittens, and hat off and carried them for most of our hike. (And who was to say I wouldn’t want them later on? My body temperature can honestly go from being so hot there’s sweat beading off my forehead to being so cold that my lips are blue 10 minutes later. What gives?)

About halfway through our hike (and I say hike because there were several decent hills…we were breathing heavy for a while!), it started to snow. It was so beautiful. Perfect day.

Looking over at the ski slopes--notice I'm not wearing a jacket!

Looking over at the ski slopes

On the trail--it looped around to the other side of those trees

On the trail--it looped around to the other side of those trees

The happy couple

The happy couple

Why not steal a kiss in the snow?

Why not steal a kiss in the snow?

This is a hole in the snow over a little creek--see how much snow they have!?!?

This is a hole in the snow over a little creek--see how much snow they have!?!?

It really started snowing on our way back.

It really started snowing on our way back.

Just a pretty picture.

Just a pretty picture.

The trail ahead of us. The way back was completely downhill--so glad we went around the loop the way we did!!
The trail ahead of us. The way back was completely downhill–so glad we went around the loop the way we did!!

We got done snowshoeing around 12:30, ate our lunch of PB & J’s, then went and got ice cream at a shop called KaleidoScoops. We attempted a crossword for about 15 minutes, and then it was time to head to the Yampah Spa for our mineral bath and sauna time.

The spa was nice. We had to park about 3 blocks away and our “hostess” (the one who got our room ready for us) initially thought it was a mineral bath for one (luckily that was corrected–we paid for 2!), but overall, it was worth the money ($75 for a 2-person, 45-minute mineral bath in hot springs water and unlimited time in the Vapor Caves).
After our hostess, Suzy, showed us to our private room, we realized that our mineral bath was so hot, it was scorching. The water of the Glenwood hot springs is a natural 125 degrees. I could put my big toe in the water for about 10 seconds before the heat reached my pain receptors and Yowsa! After adding several gallons of ice cold water from the hose connected to the tub (and draining the tub a little so it wouldn’t overflow), it got down to about the temperature of a normal hot tub (101 degrees) and I could finally put my whole body in the tub.
Even then, by the time our 45 minutes were up, we had sweat rolling off our faces, our arms rested on the sides of the tub, and dousing ourselves with cold washcloths. HOT!
After our relaxing mineral bath, it was time for the Vapor Caves. Those caves are pretty stickin’ cool. They’re like an underground mine, only over 100 degrees and humid. Just sitting there, the sweat literally pours off you. They have little wash basins that you can fill with ice-cold water to help keep you cool–or else, you’d probably only last about 5 minutes. We stayed down there for around 15-20 minutes.
Even though I don’t find being overly hot and sweaty relaxing in the moment, I walked out of that spa feeling alive and invigorated. Which was good because I had to drive home. 🙂
Since we didn’t want to hit the ski traffic on the way back as well, we made a quick stop at Target (and bought Transformers the movie to watch last night) and then headed home around 4:50.
The drive back took about 2.5 hours (Vail Pass was really hairy) and we realized that by the time we got home and made dinner, it would be 9:00 PM. So we decided to postpone dinner until tonight, when we could eat at a normal hour and leisurely enjoy the dinner with candles and soft music (and not fall asleep in the middle of it!).
Instead of dinner, we ate dessert (the Raspberry Chocolate Angel Food Cake I made…there’s still more for tonight!) and popcorn and watched Transformers.
And that’s it! It was a wonderful day with my husband.

My Valentine

13 Feb

I’m really excited for tomorrow. Travis usually takes the reins on organizing celebrations like our anniversary and Valentine’s Day (although last year, we didn’t really do anything. Travis did buy me red tulips though!)

Me and my favorite flowers (I love any color tulips)

Me and my favorite flowers (I love any color tulips)

Travis and his V-day present from me--a giant chocolate chip cookie that had "I'm Hot For You" written in red hots

Travis and his V-day present from me--a giant chocolate chip cookie with red hots for the letters

But this year, I did the planning (though I have told Travis what we’re doing so it’s not a surprise.) Since V-day falls on a Saturday this year, I wanted to make it a day long affair. So we’re doing a daytrip to Glenwood Springs. We’re going to leave here around 6:30 AM (to beat all the people going skiing) and go snowshoeing at Sunlight Mountain Resort. Then we’re going to warm up and wind down at the Yampah Spa with the Hot Springs Vapor Caves. We’re treating ourselves to a 45-minute mineral bath (in a japanese-style soaking tub with real water from the hot springs) and then drying off in the Vapor Caves (it’s an underground natural sauna).

After all of that fun, we’re going to head home for a special dinner. Here is the menu:

  • Baby spinach with dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, feta cheese, and raspberry vinegarette
  • Linguine with goat cheese, bacon, and butternut squash
  • Baked chicken breast
  • Raspberry-chocolate angel food cake
  • Champagne

I can’t wait to eat it!

After dinner, we are going to probably watch a movie. I’m thinking we’ll be pretty tired after such a full day so our evening will be pretty chill.

I’ll post pictures of the event (if I remember my camera!!)

Happy Valentine’s Day to you!!

Back to where I started

12 Feb

As I was pondering my marriage last night, and why I still struggle with feeling annoyed all the time at my husband’s displays of affection (which, for those who don’t know, include butt slapping, boob grabbing, tummy squeezing, and other things I won’t describe), I decided that the big virtue I’m missing is patience. The biggest reason why Travis annoys me is because I always feel bothered, interrupted. He’ll try to hug me in the middle of me doing the dishes. Or he’ll have to grab me while I’m drying my hair. My inner (and sometimes outer) voice asks, “Why can’t he just wait until I’m done?” Then I realize that I’m never “done,” especially in the morning. I always have an agenda, things I have on my mental tasklist. When I get in “Task Mode,” as I like to call it, I act like a bulldozer: “Get out of my way or I’ll run you over.”

When I was single and even while we were dating/engaged, I had plenty of “me time,” time when I could be as efficient and task-oriented as I wanted to be. I didn’t have to stop for or be interrupted by anyone wanting attention, as Travis so often does.  

My problem is that I am always kind of in that mode. I am an efficient, task-oriented person. It is not like me to dawdle, lag, or lollygag. I don’t even know if I can do those things. Travis, on the other hand, is a more relaxed person. The only time I can imagine him being in Task Mode is when he’s out in the garage, working on whatever he works on out there. (And during those times, I hardly ever bother him, and I never bother him for hugs and kisses because he’s dirty and sweaty!!) Most of the time, Travis is watching TV, reading, looking up sports scores (a mind-numbing activity if you ask me), or researching random things on the internet. He hardly ever minds when I interrupt him and even less so if it’s for physical affection.

So I see that I need patience and humility. I realized last Saturday that I had been subconsciously demanding everything be my way or the highway (but really, I want it to be my way). When we first moved out to Colorado, I had done a one-day, skimming-the-surface topical study on each Fruit of the Spirit. So last night I looked up my journal entry on patience. And there it was, clear as day:

“To be patient and endure undesirable circumstances, I must be humble. I must renounce all my claims to have things, people, and situations be what I want them to be.

That was written on November 12, 2007.

WHAT?!?!? I knew that back THEN and am only realizing it again NOW, a year and a half later? That was exactly what I realized on Saturday and there it was, sitting in my journal all this time. I’m back to where I started.

I am thankful today that God is faithful and most of all, patient. He waited until I was ready to surrender my own efforts and rely on Him to remind me of this truth, a truth that I happened upon unexpectedly 15 months ago.

Beautiful Lord

11 Feb

We just got out of chapel (the ministry I work at has chapel every Wednesday) and this song that I had never heard before really sums up what I’ve been feeling and learning lately:

Beautiful Lord

When the storm is raging all around me
You are the peace that calms my troubled sea
When the cares of this world darken my day
You are the light that shines and shows me the way

 
Oh the beauty of your majesty,
On the cross You showed Your love to me

 
Beautiful Lord–awesome and mighty
I’m captured by this love I see
Beautiful Lord–tender and holy
Your mercy brings me to my knees
It’s Your mercy that has made me free
Beautiful Lord

 
When my sin is all that I can see
Your grace remains the shelter that I seek
And when my weakness is all I can give
Your gentle Spirit gives me strength again

 
And I am lifted by Your love to save
It’s Your mercy that has made me free
And I am lifted by Your love to sing
It’s Your mercy that has made me free