Friday, April 29, 2011

Fitness Frustration

In my last post I wrote about Michelle Dozois and her super workout DVDs.  Well, this post is sort of the opposite of my last due to the fact that my next sweat session turned into a frustration session because of the .  It's an un-recommendation.  I rarely write such posts, but I think this particular DVD that I used is worth the warning.

I decided to try out 10 Minute Solutions' all-cardio DVD, Rapid Results Fat Burner with Cat Chiarelli.  You already know what I think about this 50 minute workout, but I'll say it anyway -- it sucked.  A bunch.

The sad thing, though, is that this workout didn't have to suck.  In fact, Cat Chiarelli's five 10 minute cardio routines actually have quite an interesting concept.  For example, the first segment is based off of drills from sports such as volleyball, basketball, soccer, and hockey.  Interesting, right?

Unfortunately, Chiarelli killed (for me) the uniqueness of her routines with her lack of helpful cueing.  She never demonstrated a move, but just went right into it, usually without even verbally describing it.  And that might have been okay had the DVD not been full of explosive high-impact moves that can be downright dangerous to do incorrectly.

So, all that to say . . . buyer beware.  I think Rapid Results Fat Burner is a big fat fail, unfortunately, no matter how good the ideas behind it are.  You know which workout DVDs I think are awesome (Michelle rocks!).  I'm going to stick with what I know I like.

Are there any workout DVDs that you think fail to deliver?  Do tell, so I can duly avoid them! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Super Sweat

This morning I had an awesome workout.  I know, that's really not top news, but it's the subject of today's post because I haven't been having any awesome workouts.  It's been more of a chore than anything else, but today I got a taste of why I used to love working out.

My morning sweat session consisted of several segments of one of Michelle Dozois' DVDs.  But instead of writing about that here, I'm going to point you to an old post I wrote last January on that very topic.  Check it out here, and if you don't want to page hop, just know that my bottom line is that her workouts rock

Have you had any super awesome workouts recently?  When workouts are lackluster, how do you stay motivated?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Wages of an Eating Disorder

My favorite spoon

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life." ~ Romans 6:23 (KJV)
Nobody likes to talk about sin.  Nobody wants to hear about sin.  This is even true for actively religious (for lack of a better term) people who regularly face the issue of sin in church, synagogue, temple, religious texts, and so forth.  Sin is not a fun topic.

For me, disordered eating in its many incarnations (starvation, compulsive overeating, purging, and so forth) became associated with sin.  That sounds moralistic, and I understand if you're jumping ship right now, afraid that I'm going to start smacking you with my Bible.  But I'm not, I promise.  What I mean by saying that my eating disorder became associated with sin is that I began to see how ED was separating me from God.  And, as a person who longs to be closer to God, that truth was devastating.

If I was a Christian, who believe that God put a part of Himself into His people, how could I be treating my body so poorly?  If I was a Christian, how could I be prioritizing my food and exercise over loving my husband?  If I was a Christian, why was I driving people away in an effort to preserve my "affair" with ED instead of loving and helping them in Jesus' example?  I felt like a hypocrite.

But I'm lucky.  Instead of (quite justly, in my opinion) punishing me for all the harm my eating disorder was wreaking in both my life and others' lives, God was a healing force.  Even though living an eating disordered life was pretty anti-Jesus, He didn't let me go.  I credit one hundred percent of my progress to God.

As you know, this past year I've been struggling more with overeating than with the anorexia that accompanied the inception of this blog.  That compulsive overeating has been every bit as harmful to my life (my spiritual life, my marriage, my professional life, my relationship with friends, and so forth) as my anorexic behavior was.  This morning, while meandering through some of the Bible, I once again found myself facing the link between sin and my eating disordered behavior.

But I didn't feel smited (smote?) some sort of Holy Smackdown.  Instead, I rewrote a chapter of the Bible's book of Romans in relation to my current food struggles.  Here's a selection of what I came up with (my changes in bold):

6-11Could it be any clearer? Our old way of eating was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that miserable eating disordered life—no longer at ED's every beck and call! . . . .We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of eating-disorder-as-the-end. Never again will ED have the last word. When Jesus died, he took ED down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: ED speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to ED and alive to God. That's what Jesus did.
12-14That means you must not give ED a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don't give it the time of day. Don't even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you've been raised from the dead!—into God's way of doing things. Disordered eating can't tell you how to live. After all, you're not living under that old tyranny any longer. You're living in the freedom of God . . . .
22-23But now that you've found you don't have to listen to ED tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for disordered eating your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.

Sometimes I feel frustrated because the Bible doesn't seem to apply to daily twenty-first century life.  But on mornings like today I'm reminded that that's not the case.  This morning this passage of Romans 6, which many might call archaic and out-of-date, reminded me of how insidious disordered eating is, how even one small disordered on my part leads to more and more life-killing experiences.  If I allow myself "one little binge" or restrict my calories "just for one day," the result is either weeks of binging or weeks of feeling sick and weak because the restriction continues.

If I give myself to ED, all ED will give back is insanity, broken relationships, loneliness, despair, and more compulsion.  With ED, there is no middle ground -- I'm either in or I'm out.  And God gets that, and He's ready to help, to pull me (and you) out of addiction and compulsive behavior and into "a whole, healed, put-together life right now." 

The link between faith and addictions and compulsive behaviors is not new.  That's the foundation of the many successful twelve step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and more.  But I guess that I forgot, or I forgot how God is working in the midst of the ugliness of ED.  I'm glad for the reminder.

What do you think -- does faith help you heal from or overcome the struggles in your life? 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Snapshot Sunday: My Source of Blogging Distraction

I know.  I know.  I haven't blogged since the last Snapshot Sunday.  But I have a good excuse.  I've become obsessed -- obsessed with this:

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere . . .

That is, I've become obsessed with making art.  A couple of months ago I signed up for an online mixed media portraits class from Suzi Blu, and now that I've actually started watching her video lessons and practicing, I can't stop!  This is the best kind of obsession to have, I think.

It's crazy, though -- all my life I have always considered myself completely untalented in the visual art department.  But where did that come from?  Because when I think back to the [very] few times I've made dedicated attempts at making art, the results have been surprisingly decent.  Crazy!

So I've been busy getting to know this unexplored side of myself.  And it has been glorious.  I'll post more about it this week (er, probably), but right now my colored pencils are calling my name . . . 

How do you see yourself in relation to art-making -- untalented?  Not interested?  Gifted beyond measure?  Also, let's see your Snapshot Sunday photos!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Snapshot Sunday: A Coyote Story

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There are a lot of things that I really, really love about living in Montana.  One of them is the fact that every so often I can hear coyotes howling from nearby hills when I'm out in our backyard at night.  It's creep-tastic and absolutely awesome.  On Friday night some outdoor LED hooping produced the above Snapshot Sunday photo and the following video, complete with coyote singalong:

I love this place. 

I also love all of you, wonderful readers and blog friends.  Your comments on my posts from this week were so encouraging and at times brought happy, I'm-not-alone-in-this tears to my eyes.  Thank you for being a part of my life.

Friday, April 8, 2011

God Knows ED


One of my dear friends and I seem to discuss fairly regularly whether Jesus experienced the troubles that we experience during his life.  I'm pretty sure that most Christians (and I mean people who try to live like Jesus, not the "Christians" who burn Planned Parenthood clinics) believe that Jesus did experience every sort of temptation that people face.  After all, the Bible says, "We don't have a priest" (the priest is Jesus) "who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin."  Basically what Paul is saying here is that Jesus did have to face down every sort of temptation, but never gave into any of it. 

But I can't help but wonder (and my friend wonders along with me) -- did Jesus dealing with an eating disorder?  Did he have body image issues?  Did he ever want to binge or starve himself or overexercise? 

It's weird to look at it that way, right?  I mean, how did Jesus have time for having bulimia or anorexia or compulsive overeating in between raising people from the dead?  It's like saying Mother Theresa was a cutter.  It's crazy.

But it's also comforting, because I think that God does know about eating disorders, that he sees the struggle and the inner torment.  I know that when I was in the full thrall of anorexia, my faith suffered in a major way.  I kept asking myself -- how can I claim to be a Christian, to be a person who tries to live like Jesus, the embodiment of love, when I can't even love myself or take care of my own body?  I felt like a hypocrite.  And yet I believe that God saw that and instead of throwing down some smite on me, he was compassionate.

I was reminded of this when I was reading the Bible this morning.  I came across this passage in Psalms:

When I kept it all inside,
      my bones turned to powder,
      my words became daylong groans.

 The pressure never let up;
      all the juices of my life dried up. 

When I read that, I nearly cried because that is exactly what struggling with disordered eating feels like for me.  My eating disorder had its greatest power over me when it was a secret, "when I kept it all inside."  On the outside I was all smiles, but inside I was shriveling.  And it wasn't long before that inner emotional death turned physical, "my bones [beginning to turn] to powder." 

Still, all that isn't really new.  There are countless personal stories of victories against ED available on the internet, stories in which we can easily learn what living with an eating disorder feelings like.  But the crazy thing about this quote (for me) is the fact that it is in the Bible.  It is included in this centuries-old document.  Which leads me to believe that God really does know what my life with ED was/is like, that he really does see, and most importantly that he cares.  How amazing is that?

Have you ever received faith-related revelation or encouragement regarding your daily struggles and temptation? 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Depression-Busting Exercise

In the past year, especially since the beginning of 2011, I've noticed that I've been struggling with more intense bouts of depression than I have in quite some time, if ever.  Regardless of whether I'm on or off medication, I keep getting sucked deep into depression's black hole.  When I'm there, it's a struggle to get dressed in the morning, much less write, hoop, clean, leave the house, take a shower, pray, or do any of the things that I either want or need to do.  For me, the word that bests describes the effects of depression is inertia. 

This morning I ran across a great article from WebMD that has got me thinking about why my depression has become so much more intense these days.  The article discusses the effects exercise has on depression patients.  I thought the information the article had to present was pretty astounding.  Consider this statistic:

In one 2005 study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five days a week reduced symptoms of depression by nearly half after 12 weeks.

Wow.  Essentially, if exercise is included in the treatment plan for a patient with depression, they are likely to experience 50% more success in overcoming the disease.  That's pretty amazing.

And then I realized -- when I started taking medication to combat my depression back in 2009, I was exercising regularly.  Well, I was really overexercising, which I don't advocate, but still -- I was exercising.  I was reaping the benefits of exercise in my battling with depression.  I got daily doses of mood-boosting, blues-busting endorphins. I moved my body regularly, and that combined with my depression medication to help me rise above that awful inertia. 

And, today, I don't move regularly.  True, it's been a rough year even without factoring in preexisting mental health issues.  Still, the fact is that my failure to exercise on a mostly-daily schedule has allowed depression to take a more solid hold on my life. 

Over the past few days I have been trying to get back into an exercise routine, trying to train my body and mind to include that discipline my daily life again.  I've been exercising for at least twenty to twenty-five minutes a day with Jillian Michaels -- and it's true that even that small (but intense) bout of effort raises my mood and energy levels for a short while afterward.  It's been hard to get myself out of my pajamas and into my sneakers, but it's been worth it even in the short term.  Imagine the effects, both on body and mind, after twelve weeks of this!  I'm eager to find out.

Honestly, this concept isn't new to me.  I already knew that exercise boosts the mood.  I also already knew about the story of Jonathan Baxter, creator of The Hoop Path, and how he found that a daily hoop practice helped him defeat depression.  But I guess I forgot, or at least forgot how it applies to my life.  I'm grateful for the reminder

If you are a regular exerciser, do you find that exercising lifts your mood or combats depression?  If you're not, are you willing to join me on a journey to defeat depression with exercise?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Remembering Scones


This past weekend the Best Husband Ever and I hung out with some friends, watching the surprisingly excellent new Sinbad comedy act in the process (yes, Sinbad as in the comedian from the 90s). In addition to being really blown away by how funny, intelligent, and clean Sinbad's show was, I ate a yummy scone baked by one of our friends.

Somehow our conversation got around to the scones (probably after I praised his baking around my mouthful of scone). The masterful baker observed that he loves baking and was sad that he hadn't been doing it much. He had, in effect, forgotten that he loves to bake. Between the busy-ness of work and marriage and life his enjoyment of baking took back burner, and eventually fell off the proverbial stove entirely.

Of course this got me to wondering -- what I have I forgotten that I love? As you probably already guessed from the photo at the top of this post, I got my bake on. I revived my own love of baking by turning out two small whole wheat loves from my favorite cookbook, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It was fun (and yummy), but in the process I realized that what I really want to bake are some muffins. I mean, this blog used be called "Muffin Love" for goodness sake. I miss my muffins. I need to stock up on muffin-making supplies.

What's something that you have forgotten that you love?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Snapshot Sunday: Hoop Practice

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Even though it is snowing hard right now (I know), this week was warm enough for me to get out for some hoop practice.  Right now I'm working on a two-move trick -- a toss caught by a chest roll.  Here how it's coming along:

Almost got it!

What are you working on today? Do you have any Snapshot Sunday photos or posts to share?

Friday, April 1, 2011

How To Make Life Decisions Without the Fooling (Sort Of)

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments, well-wishes, and prayers regarding my last post.  After a week of thinking hard, weighing my options, and both praying and avoiding praying about it for fear of what I might hear, I have come to a decision.

Brace yourself, friends.

The Best Husband Ever and I have decided to move to Switzerland.  We are on our way now, having dropped off the dogs for their border-crossing quarantine.  

Or are we . . . ?

Hah!  April Fool's!  I know, you probably saw through it.  I'm terrible at April Foolery.  I always want to participate, but the only foolings I can come up with that are actually surprising (read: shocking) are really negative and mean, like I have cancer.  Good taste?  Not exactly.

So, to be clear, we are NOT moving to Switzerland.  Yet.  Believe it or not, the Best Husband Ever and I actually have discussed the pros and cons of becoming Swiss ex-pats.

Regarding my equestrian conundrum, I have decided to pass on the internship and stay here in Montana with my husband, family, friends, and, of course, dogs.  Although trading stable labor for lessons in riding and horse training has been among my dreams, I'm not sure that it is a current dream.  Instead, it is a dream of about five or ten years ago.  If I had had this opportunity upon graduating from high school or college, I would have gone for it.  But now horses aren't my priority, although I still enjoy them immensely and find them to be beautiful and calming creatures. 

Right now other things are more important to me, things that I think would suffer if I were to jaunt off to New Hampshire by myself for a year.  My marriage is number one on this list -- adding an eating disorder struggle to the usual mess of a new marriage has been incredibly stressful for the Best Husband Ever and myself, and our relationship has been close to an untimely end in our three and a half short years together.  We are just starting to make positive progress, and if I were to leave we both are afraid that all forward motion would stall and that we would find ourselves facing divorce.

A bundle of chihuahua
I would miss this if I left ("this" being a sleepy chihuahua wrapped in my Snuggie by the Best Husband Ever).

Also, I feel that it is important for me to stay put.  If I hadn't met and married the Best Husband Ever, I'm pretty sure I would have moved to a new city every single year.  And while this may not be a bad thing, I think that it would have been bad for me.  It's taken five years of life in Montana to forge the few solid relationships I have here, and if I had lived a nomadic lifestyle I'm fairly certain that I would have been doing it alone.  I really think that God is teaching me patience by keeping me here, and is showing me the value of community.  This year the amazing women of our church have picked me up more than once and set me on my way, loving me at my worst in a way I had no reason to expect.  If you've been reading the blog for a while, you might remember my angry, insecure posts from this past summer and fall.  The power of community drew me out of that, and I can never thank them enough. 

There are more reasons why I think staying is better -- because I committed to spend the next year writing, revising, and submitting a novel; because I would desperately miss our dogs; because the isolation inherent in a cross-country move would probably mess with my eating disorder recovery; because if I really want to pursue equine work or activities, I will start small here; because Montana is my home now and I would feel lost without the mountains; because I feel called to be here.  

Can you tell that I made pro and con lists while weighing my equestrian conundrum?  Sure, it's a little anal and definitely something straight out of The Gilmore Girls, but it worked for me.  It helped me to see my thoughts and feelings more impartially, which in turn allowed me to make a decision based on logic instead of my ever-changing emotions.  

How do you go about making big decisions?  And what is the best non-mean April Fool's joke you have ever played or witnessed?