Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I am a creature of habit. I like routines. I need to-do lists and schedules. I generally order the same meals in restaurants, wear the same standard ensemble every day (jeans and a basic shirt, with a possible hoodie, and tennis shoes or Chucks), and I’m more comfortable with familiar friends instead of mingling with new people. I crave comfort foods in times of stress. I read before bed every single night. I don’t like change.

Yet, this aversion to the new and the unsettling has led to a lack of confidence within me, in many ways, and for many years. When you fear change, it’s easy to grow scared and nervous when encountered with something different or outside of your comfort zone. You lose out on chances to try something special, to meet great individuals, to make necessary (and potentially wonderful) changes in your life.

So, I’ve been on a mission to shake things up a bit.

I took a yoga class this week. I’m terrified of group athletic settings. It brings back memories of always being picked last in high school gym class (and middle school gym class, and elementary school gym class…..). I’m self-conscious about my post-baby body, and I’m definitely not in the physical shape that I want to be (though I am losing weight, which brings me some happiness). And you know what? Yes, I was exhausted after ten minutes, and yes, I might have knocked over a display rack while trying a difficult position (the class was held in a small local shop), and yes, I’m a bit sore two days later. But, I felt so exhilarated afterward, so proud of myself, and I’m desperate to go again.

I wore a dress to my grandfather’s funeral today. I haven’t had the confidence to wear a dress in years. YEARS. I wanted to make an effort, to break the “hoodie” cycle. Originally, I wanted to walk into the store, buy some jersey knit maxi skirt and a t-shirt, and call it good. But, I found myself gravitating toward the dress racks, and I ended up in the fitting room trying on “real” dresses. Dress shopping, and trying on clothes in general, is torture, absolute torture. But, by the end of it, I had a new dress, new pumps, and all of the “trimmings” that needed to go with them. And I want to buy more dresses after the reaction I received wearing it.

The thing is, these little things have boosted my confidence more than I can say. It’s like a chain reaction–one thing different and new leads to another, and another…… It is my hope that the small things can lead to bigger changes–the courage to conquer my financial situation, to do what makes me happy (even if it’s terrifying or stressful), the desire to live a simpler life, to broaden my horizons.

This isn’t high school gym class anymore. I can’t treat life like it still is.

What Falls By the Wayside

So, if you asked me what my goals were as of, say, a year ago, they would have sounded something like this:

–Get out of debt, and spend as little as possible.

–Eat healthier, consume more “real foods” and less processed junk.

–Eat in more and buy take out less often.

–Learn to fix, to mend, to do more from scratch.

–Figure out a cleaning routine and organize all of the chaos that is the clutter in my house.

–Be more patient with my little ones.

–Figure out what I truly believe in (I’m in a bit of a religious/spiritual crisis, if you will).

–Pottytrain my toddler.

Yeah, so these things aren’t going so well.

This wannabe homesteader, do-gooder, “simplify, simplify” sort of mama has gone off the rails a little bit between working more than I am used to with little ones in the home, plus trying to support a husband through a months-long job loss.

“Get out of debt?” Ha. I’m happy that we haven’t accumulated more than a small amount of new debt since the lay-off. In fact, I’m simply content to get the bills paid. And trust me, when we do have a little extra money, that shopping twitch that I have suffered from my whole life turns into a hellacious urge, and I then find myself knowing all of the cashiers at TJ Maxx on a first name basis.

Eating healthier and cooking more meals at home is a joke, too. On one hand, we keep a fair amount of fruits and veggies in house, but it’s simply finding the time, and the energy, to do anything with them. I mean, seriously, do I really want to make pesto from scratch, or slice countless veggies, or cook ANYTHING after a long day at work, when the pizza guy totally delivers?

Fixing things and learning how to do things from scratch? Again, time and energy.

My cleaning and organizational routine is still having our housekeeper on speed dial. That is another expense I have refused to cut.

My patience with my little ones has increased only because I have mastered the art of bribery. See, I’ve always been a big believer in bribes (“bwibery” was one of my son’s first words, and I am NOT kidding), but I find myself offering up Skittles and Peanut Butter M&Ms just to get the adorable little boogers into bed at a halfway decent hour. When in doubt, negotiate–that seems to be this #1 mom’s M.O. of late, and it’s worked, for the most part.

I don’t even know where to begin with spirituality and religion. It’s hard to even find faith in much of anything when your hard working husband was let go from a job he was devoted to for years because of some gluttonous, foolhardy corporation’s bottom line.

And pottytraining my toddler? Let’s just say that bribery doesn’t work with someone who thinks it’s AOK to play in cat litter, who only answers to the siren song of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and who is firmly convinced that the potty is a hat. NOT. GOING. WELL.

And I don’t even know what to say, really, about any of it. I don’t know whether to be frustrated with myself for basically starting our lives over again from scratch (because little in our lives right now is stable or totally secure), or whether to say the hell with it and that this is entirely normal. Someone, somewhere is going to read this and think that these things are just so easy, and even easier to do or learn when your family goes down to one part-time income (“Well, this is the perfect time to learn to do such and such, to figure out how to spend less, etc.”). The thing is, it’s not. Each of those little goals of mine has become all the more difficult. I thought a job loss would propel me to a more simple life by default, but it’s just made everything all that much harder. I’m too tired, too worn out, too stressed, and sometimes, honestly, too apathetic. Feeding the kids Crazy Bread with their pizza dinner, and calling a housekeeper once a week falls into the “pick my battles” realm–is it worth adding more stress to worry about each “mistake” I make, or is it better to eliminate what stress I can, even if it means diving into processed foods and putting aside goals?

One thing I’m doing well in is finding a workout routine. I’ve never been much into formal exercise, even if I have tried repeatedly and failed, but this summer, I’ve found a system, a routine, and a schedule that works for me, and I’m shedding pounds, between that and the lack of appetite (stress related, I’m sure). So there’s one thing I’m doing kinda okay with, in spite of myself.

Everyone’s gotta do one thing well, right?


Our Path to Fitness: March Reflections

Maybe it’s the cold weather. Maybe it’s the snow days, and the frenzy of cooped-up kiddos. Maybe it’s just me. Either way, I haven’t been doing very well with my goals. Exercise? What’s that? Eat out tonight instead of cooking? Yes, please, get me out of this house!!

Yeah, it’s been kinda like that.

There have been some positive steps toward improving our fitness and overall health, though. It hasn’t all been total failure.

1) We found a way to purchase a (small) CSA this year, so we will have the added motivation of yummy, healthy food regularly coming into our home all summer long (and even for part of spring and fall). Last year, we had a CSA that consisted of weekly bags. Due to budget constraints, we opted to go to a different program where it operates via points (essentially, credit) where we get to pick out what we want, as often as we want it, and if we run out of points, we can purchase more or work for them. Instead of having to use a half share to feed a family of four, we can use the points to get enough of an item to feed all of us (though it will likely end up being fewer items than we would have received with a traditional share, but we shall see). We also have a goal of spending a budget of $10-15 a week at the farmers market, mainly to continue to encourage health eating, to get to know most of our community’s small farmers, and to see how far we can get the money to go. I tried to make it to a market at least once a week last year (I think I missed one week), and it was such a worthwhile goal. (And I plan on blogging about both regularly–the CSA and the market haul each week.)

Local goodies!

Local goodies!

2) I am notorious for putting off needed doctor’s appointments. However, between some issues relating to asthma and allergies, plus dealing with anxiety attacks due to some unanticipated stress (I’m prone to the attacks, anyway, and I unexpectedly lost employment…bad combination), I found myself in the doctor’s office last week asking for help. It’s not easy to walk into an office, confiding problems and struggles to someone you don’t know very well, but I will say, I am glad I did it. See, fitness isn’t just about a toned body and eating well. It’s also about tending to basic health needs, as well as taking care of yourself mentally, too. I’m sharing this in the hope that, if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or a nagging health concern, that you find a provider or professional that you trust and work to get the help you need. Take that time and initiative for yourself.

As warmer weather approaches, I hope that the growing season and the sunshine will motivate me to exercise and to eat a healthier diet. I wish you luck in your goals this spring. Feel free to follow my Pinterest board relating to this blog series, as well. You can find it here. 

Our Path to Fitness: January Reflection

All in all, for the month of January, I haven’t accomplished many of my fitness goals.

I’ve eaten out far too many times, though I did make it a full week during the month without getting fast food or take out (I was really proud of that). I haven’t established an exercise routine yet between some health issues, weather conditions, and honestly, maybe a little bit of a lack of motivation (though dealing with stomach flu and asthma are fairly legitimate reasons to lack a desire to work out, I think).

I’m still opting to stick to my goal of eating out only once (on the weekend) or for events/travel/emergencies. And I don’t think that planning to exercise once a week is really unreasonable, and I think I would accomplish those goals with an accountability buddy (cough, cough, smile) and some dedication.

But also, I want to try to be more diligent in February when it comes to eating healthier, more wholesome, “real” foods, and also, I’d like to start really researching (and implementing/using) natural remedies for minor health complaints. When I had my stomach bug, I tried Pepto Bismol, which I hate taking because of the taste (I know they SAY it’s for nausea, but the taste of it MAKES me nauseous), and after I took the dose, my tongue turned dark black. Now, the company claims this is normal, but I’m not a big fan of watching body parts changing themselves into incorrect, unnatural colors, so it did make me think I might have been better served with using some ginger and mint to solve my tummy woes.

What are your fitness goals for the month of February?

Our Path to Fitness: Amended Goals and Reflection

Okay, accountability buddies, so I didn’t do very well when it comes to my goals last week. We ate take out during unplanned times, and I didn’t exercise once! I have been having some allergy/asthma issues, and plus, with starting a new job, I just pushed exercise out of my mind because I wasn’t feeling motivated. And the cold weather isn’t helping to encourage me to move, either.

So…here are my amended goals, and how I propose to fulfill them:

-Eat out this week on the weekend for a date night ONLY. I have a tempting menu plan in place and a cash-only budget in hand, which really helps to limit “impulse purchases,” including take out.

-I’d like to exercise ONCE this week, instead of twice. I don’t feel like, in theory, twice is too much, but right now, I am going to focus on just establishing the habit, even if it is a small step at a time.

Are you doing well with keeping up with your fitness goals in 2014, or are you struggling as I (always) am?

Our Path to Fitness: Here’s to a New Year

So, who is ready to start conquering some fitness goals with me?

Since those of you who are following this series of the blog are my “accountability buddies” pretty much, I’m submitting my goals to you, and I hope you’ll share yours with me and my other readers either here in the Comments section or on the Facebook page.

My goals for this week:

-Thirty minutes of exercise at least twice during the week

-Only “eat out” when we go out of town for a trip on Tuesday and as a date (possibly) during the weekend

-Plan menus for the remaining days of the week

What are your fitness/health related goals for the week?

OUR PATH TO FITNESS: This Week’s Goals

I didn’t fulfill either goal this week–I ate out multiple times, and I never went out to exercise. Can I blame the holiday stress?

Right now, I am going to keep to the same goals, as I hope that I might actually accomplish them during one of these weeks, but I might tweak them a bit. I want to make a goal of not eating out unless we are out of town (I might be visiting my parents this weekend). I also want to exercise for 30 minutes two times this week (the same goal as before).

What are your fitness/health goals for the week, and how did you do last week?