I want to see you be brave.

26 Jun

IMG_4916The quote pictured above is actually supposed to say “Speak the truth even if your voice shakes,” but I’m only interested in speaking my truth.  That’s why I changed it to read, “Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.”

There was a time in my life, early 20’s, that I felt like I had to shout my beliefs to the world.  I felt that I had something to prove.  I thought I knew it all…  I look back at myself and shake my head.  I was a total idiot who knew nothing.  And no one gave a crap about what I had to say.  The more I tried to assert myself, the worse I felt, the more people I alienated.  And the more I experienced, the less I felt like I understood the world…  The less I understood about myself.

The past 5 years of my life have humbled me.  I found myself in a place where I had to admit that I didn’t know much of anything.  So I kept my mouth shut and I observed.  I listened.  I started from the most basic questions in life and pondered, prayed, and studied until I felt sure.  Some things I still don’t feel sure about and that’s okay.  I don’t have to know exactly what I believe about everything.

I’m grateful for my education and my life experiences.  I’m grateful for my faith and spirituality.  These things have brought me to a point in my life where I feel like I know mostly what I believe about the world.  They’ve also taught me to be open to learning and changing.  But I have been afraid to share.  Afraid to alienate people, afraid to offend people, afraid to be wrong, and afraid that I would be alone.  But I’m not alone.  And that’s exactly why I’m taking a brave step today.  I want others to know they aren’t the only ones who feel this way.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of my personal beliefs, just the ones that I think I need to share at this time-

  1. I believe I should live and let live. Of course, I don’t want anyone to tell me what I can and cannot believe.  I don’t want anyone to interfere with the way I live my life.  I don’t want to be judged for my beliefs.  And thus, I can’t rightfully want to do the same to anyone else.  You and I don’t have to agree.  I’m going to respect you anyway.
  2. I believe in the Constitution of the United States.  I remember my US History teacher in high school.  I remember learning about the Constitution and realizing just how amazing the document was.  I believe in the rights it protects and I believe that all men are created equal.  I believe that the Constitution supports civil rights movements.  I believe it supports equal freedoms for us all regardless of race, sex, ability, sexual-orientation, age, class, etc.  I also believe that our Constitution protects freedom of religion and I think that allows churches to decide what they will or won’t do in certain circumstances.  I also believe in freedom of speech.
  3. I believe in love.  I don’t know how else to put it.  In every lens that I look at this life with, I see that love is critical to our survival.
  4. I believe in the value of human life.  I believe that we are all brothers and sisters.  Every single one of us has value.  We are all flawed.  Every last one of us.  Some of our brothers and sisters can’t or don’t see the value of human life and they make self-centered decisions to hate/harm/kill others.  But if we turn around and perpetuate their hate, we are only moving their cause forward.  The only way to combat hate is with love.

You might call me an idealist.  You might call me naive.  You might call me liberal.  You might call me stupid.  I might agree with you.  I might disagree with you.  I will definitely respect your right to your own opinion.  You might say that I’m not really saying anything at all, so let me be clear:

Racism is still a problem.  I’m glad that same-sex marriage is now legal, but I’m also glad that as of now churches have the right to decide whether or not they will perform those marriages.  I will fight for it to stay that way.  I personally would not seek an abortion, but I’m not about to tell someone else what they can or cannot do with their body.  I believe that we will be judged for our actions and that it is not our responsibility to decide what each other is doing is right/wrong.  I believe that we are responsible for ourselves.  I think we can and should focus on our communities and be of service to those around us.  I choose to use my example as an influence.  I choose love over hate.

If you disagree, I’m cool with that.  I might unfollow your posts on Facebook, but I’ll love you just the same.

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Falling

3 Apr
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Super Bowl Sunday, I was sitting around watching the game, when I got a text message from a very dear friend.  She asked me if I had a boyfriend.  I told her I had been dating, but that I was not in a relationship.  She responded by saying she wanted me to meet her cousin.  Would it be okay to give him my number?  I told her that would be fine and figured, what do I have to lose?

That was a little over two months ago.

Such a short period of time, and yet it feels like we’ve known each other forever.  Some have suggested it’s because we are having a long-distance relationship.  That might be the case.  We communicate much more than I think we would in person.  When we did meet up in Memphis at the end of February, we made each minute count because we knew it would have to last us a while.  It’s just more intense I guess.

I’ll see him again in two weeks and I am so excited I can hardly stand it.  But that’s not the point of what I want to write about today.

I’ve been completely single for two years, and I’ve gone into this relationship with a healthier mentality than I think I’ve ever had before.  Even so, I’m still me.  I still think too much, and worry, I’m still logical and analytical, and apparently I’m still a little scared.  I’m so much better at managing my stress, but I know that I have my limit.  When I reach it, my self-control weakens and I act in a manner that I truly can’t stand.  And then I’m disgusted with myself, which only makes it worse.

Yesterday, I was a mess.  I have a full plate of responsibilities, I’m still trying to settle into the new place, the move has me financially strapped, and on top of it all there’s this new relationship that needs my attention and care.  I’m stretched thin and tired, but I think I could handle all of that if I weren’t also falling in love.

I’ve been trying to not let it happen because it’s scary.  I’m thinking of all the ways it can go wrong.  Thinking about how illogical and crazy it all is.  But it isn’t working.  Every time he makes me laugh, I lose a little bit of the control I’m exerting over my emotions and I fall a little bit further in love with him.  I was a crying, worrying, feeling mess yesterday and he handled it like a champ.

He listened to me, comforted me, assured me, prayed for me and supported me.  He kept a positive attitude and never once beat me up about it like I expected him to.  He encouraged me and reminded me to turn it all over to the Lord.  I felt loved and cared for and safe.  Which is what I really needed to feel.

It’s still really new, but already really good.  It’s still scary, but much less so now.

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Fear

18 Feb
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Food for thought, Brandi.

2015

1 Jan

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions in the traditional sense. Gave that up years ago. They were always flimsy and fleeting and it felt a little silly to think I was magically going to turn it all around just because it was a new year.

For the past few years, I’ve joined in with others and chosen one word as a theme for the year. The idea is to drop the long list of challenges you want to overcome and instead focus your energy on a singular idea.

I’ve been thinking about my word for several weeks now, and thought I knew my word up until this morning. I woke up with a new word on my heart and it felt right. So, without further adieu…

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Try a little harder to be a little better. -Gordon B. Hinckley

Those who know me well know that I am on a perpetual journey of self-improvement. They also know that I am impatient with myself and can be very hard on myself. So they may be wondering how this word is different from every other day or my life.

I chose the word better because it symbolizes a more realistic expectation of myself. It’s about acknowledging small successes and finding joy in moving forward. It’s about self-love and self-acceptance.

It’s also about believing I deserve better. I often settle for what I think I deserve, but I’m slowly learning that I am worth more than I perceive.

2014 was good, but 2015 will be better.

Week 3 Recap

23 Dec

Last week was a very successful week, but I don’t have an official weight to share. More on that in a minute.

On Monday, I was very excited because I had tried something new. I made my own salad dressing. I also made my lunch salad the night before and weighed it to make sure I met the pound of raw veggies for the day. I used a little less greens than I have been. It was a delicious salad and I was able to eat it all and enjoy it! Food is definitely starting to taste differently to me!

I joined an “Eat to Live” support group on Facebook and shared my excitement. A woman reached out to tell me about her success over the last 9 months, and offer her support. I introduced her to Cassandra and we started our own little group chat. It has been incredibly motivating and inspiring!!

I continued to have a stellar week. Wednesday and Thursday were perfect eating days. I didn’t have even a bite that wasn’t on plan. I was excited to step on the scale early Friday morning and see what the results were.

I was leaving town at 6am that morning, headed to spend Christmas with my family. I had already packed a bag of food for the trip and was ready to go. When I stepped on the scale, I was disappointed. I thought I would have lost more than a few ounces.

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Around 8:30am on Friday, I sent out this SOS to my girls and they immediately responded with optimism, support and advice. It was awesome. By that afternoon, we had agreed to focus on the fact that we are taking care of our bodies and the scale doesn’t matter. We would not weigh ourselves for the next two weeks:

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I stayed on plan even through traveling! Even when the rest of the family was eating the Christmas meal. I have to admit that I allowed myself a piece of cake Saturday night, which I could only eat 1/3 of because it was so sweet to me. I also had some crackers and cheese that night while we played card games, but it was nothing like how I would have normally eaten.

Because I am a bit of a rebel, I did step on my aunt’s scale before I left and I was down to 276. I’m not counting it as an official weight since it was a different scale, wrong day, etc. I don’t plan to weigh myself again until Monday, January 5.

Week 2 Recap

15 Dec

I am currently participating in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live 6-week plan to becoming Nutritarian.  You can follow along with my journey here.

Starting Weight: 279.0

Today’s weight: 281.8 (up 2.8 lbs)

Total weight loss: 8 lbs

This week will go down in history as the Bavarian Pretzel Crisis of 2014.

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First of all, I chose to take this challenge during the holidays on purpose.  Sure, I could have waited until the New Year and allowed myself to partake of all the goodies I wanted these holidays.  I specifically chose to start now.  I suppose I wanted to go ahead and face the challenge head on.

The Christmas packages from vendors started rolling in last week… dark chocolate toffee with almonds…  boxes full of cookies…

I was doing pretty good until I lost my resistance to the toffee late one afternoon.  I had at least one piece everyday afterward, which still wasn’t horrible but definitely NOT on my plan.

Started out the weekend strong and then my church Christmas party happened Saturday night.  I felt like I should go since I’m still very new to the ward and trying to get to know people/feel like I belong.  I knew they weren’t serving anything I could really eat on my plan, so I decided just to eat small portions of the healthiest items available.  No desserts.

I was feeling good about the plate of food I ate, so I allowed myself a little dessert.  I think I had two cookies, but to be honest I can’t remember because it was completely overshadowed by what happened next.

A brother in my new ward is friends with a woman who runs the German bakery on the island.  Once a week they apparently get rid of tons of bread items by donating their leftovers.  There were BAGS of fancy (and expensive) breads in our kitchen.  They were encouraging everyone to go get what they wanted.  I saw person after person hauling away big bags full off goodies and curiosity got the best of me.

I knew better than to take one step into that kitchen!!

There were still three large flour bags full of bread.  I looked in one and right on top were two pretzels.  They were glorious and I knew I was doomed.  Soft pretzels are a major weakness for me.  There was no resisting.  I took them home and gobbled them up.

Have you ever heard of “sliver, slice, slab”?  It’s the idea that we tell ourselves that we can have just a little, but then we end up devouring the whole thing…  Well, my little allowances of a piece of candy here and there snowballed into pretzels and sadly beyond.  On Sunday, I had cheese-stuffed shells with garlic bread and even a donut.

What is the most telling to me is the way I have felt.  I woke up Sunday with a sore throat and felt lethargic all day.  Two days before, I felt like I was on top of the world.  It was obvious that my health was taking a hit thanks to all the sugar and carbs I had eaten.

By Sunday night, I was ready to get my act together again.  I decided to let it go and move forward.  This is a great learning experience and I know that I’m growing and my mentality is changing.

I’m off to a very strong start for Week 3 and hopefully I’ll survive traveling and my family Christmas next weekend!

Week 1 Recap

8 Dec

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Completed week 1 of Dr. Fuhrman’s 6-week challenge:

Starting weight: 289.8

Today’s weight: 279.0 (down 10.8 lbs)

Total weight loss: 10.8 lbs

Um, wow.  I weighed myself at least 5 times this morning just to make sure.  Shocking results – especially when you hear about my week.

Day 1-

Started the morning with a smoothie and apple and was pleased.  Then lunch happened.  I made myself a GIANT salad of mixed greens, lots of raw veggies and some Mrs. Dash and Pomegranate vinegar.  I also heated up some black beans, added some Mrs. Dash and pico del gallo.  The salad was yummy at first, but the beans weren’t.  The no salt thing is a big hurdle when it comes to beans for me.  But I also didn’t spice them very well.  I started out by eating a few bites of salad and then a few bites of beans, but I was hating the beans, so I ended up adding them to the salad.  A few minutes later, something flipped and all of a sudden, the salad was disgusting.  I got to the point where I was taking a bite, chewing it up and then taking a big swig of water to wash it down.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to die.  All I could do was think about how I would go through this everyday and I was going to fail!  I finally had to give up and throw out what was left:

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I was so upset.  You have a goal of eating a pound of raw veggies and a pound of cooked veggies a day and I was so focused on making sure I ate it all and at that point I just felt like I would never be able to do it.  Yes, I overreact.

I got home and ate a few bites of pumpkin cheesecake.  Then I called Cassandra and confessed.  She whipped me back into shape and I decided to press forward.

I started eating my soup for dinner, and once again, it was delicious at first.  About halfway through, all of a sudden it was disgusting again!  I couldn’t finish it.  Once again, I was so dejected.  I called Cassandra again and afterward, I felt so much better and had made some decisions:

  1. I’m not going to focus on making sure I’m eating a certain amount of anything right now – just that I’m sticking to the things I can have.
  2. Going to eat salad and soup for lunch, beans and veggies for dinner so I can add more flavor to the beans.
  3. Calm down because I’m still eating much healthier than usual!

Day 2-

Lunch went SO much better.  Made myself a smaller salad and alternated between bites of salad and soup which seemed to help with flavors.  I finished everything and was super satisfied.  I also added orange to my salad which made a HUGE difference.  I was feeling like a million bucks.

I had plans with a friend that night and when I got home, I just didn’t feel like eating yet.  (Really, I didn’t feel like eating what I had to eat)  So I decided that I would just wait until I got home that night and I would be too tired and too hungry and I would just eat what I had then.  DUMB!  I totally just grabbed fast food on the way home.  Once again I felt like an idiot.  Lesson learned-

  1. Don’t wait until you’re hungry and tired to eat.  Zero self-control.
  2. Dinner is going to be the hardest time for me because it’s when I want to be comforted the most.
  3. Fruit makes everything better.

Day 3-

Started the morning with a phone call to Cassandra.  More confessions made.  She asked me if I had weighed myself yet.  I stepped on the scale and was down 4 pounds.  Even with screwing up!  It motivated me to keep going.

Breakfast and lunch were great, but when it came to dinner, I ended up screwing dinner up again.

Day 4-

Same story – breakfast and lunch were great, didn’t stay on plan for dinner.

Day 5-

Woke up late, didn’t get my smoothie made.  Didn’t get to take my lunch.  By the time I was able to eat, I had no self-control at all.  I totally gorged and was hating myself.

That night, I had a moment of clarity.  My food issues were ringing loud and clear.  Addiction, Compulsion, emotional eating…  I knew I had these issues, but at that moment it was undeniable.  THIS is why I needed to do this.  It isn’t about the weight – is about not being a slave to food.

I made a plan for Saturday and Sunday.  I am LDS and we fast for 24 hours the first weekend of every month.  We do not eat or drink for 24 hours (two meals).  There are several reasons we do this, but it’s a time that we can use to pray about specific issues we want clarity/help with.  I decided to dedicate my fast to this issue.

Day 6-

Another green smoothie for breakfast (I thoroughly enjoy them!!).  For lunch I water sautéed onions, mushrooms and spinach with some cumin and smoked paprika.  I put that mixture into a low-carb tortilla that I had toasted.  (thank you for the suggestion Cassandra!)  It was the most satisfying thing I had eaten all week.  Supper yummy.  I had two “burritos” and some soup and felt stuffed.

I started my fast with a prayer.  I asked for help overcoming my addiction to food.  I asked for guidance on what I needed to do to help myself.  I asked for greater understanding.

Normally, I really struggle with fasting.  This time I wasn’t very tempted at all.  I definitely felt strengthened spiritually.  I even went grocery shopping Saturday night without incident.

Day 7-

Started the day by reading DC 89 and a few other church resources on the Word of Wisdom.

I went to church and felt inspired by the testimonies and lessons – several of which were directly about the Word of Wisdom.  During RS, I shared a little bit about my experience this past week, and I felt confirmation that I am on the right track.  I need to press forward and I will achieve what I need to.  I also received direction to focus on scripture study and prayer right now to help me.

I finished out the day (lunch and dinner) on the right track.  My sister made an amazing dinner for her bunch and it was pretty tempting, but I made my own pot of Golden Austrian Cauliflower Soup (YUM!) and was grateful.

It was an abnormally tough week in general for me (issues going on not related to food) and I made it through.  And I’m over 10 pounds lighter!  The weight loss is great, but I care more about the spiritual breakthrough that happened.  Hopeful and happy!

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