Spokane Selfie

Those of you who have spoken to me any time in the past month or so know that I have hit another big bout of monitoring my health.  I wrote an accountability post back in August, shortly after we moved to Seattle.  From August until November, I had a great few months of working hard and losing weight.  I started at 214lbs in July and by November, I had lost 20lbs!  I had an average loss of about 5lbs per month.  I was weighing about 195 and fitting into some of my old clothes, and weighing less than I had in over a year.  It felt great!  The winter, however, was a plateau for me.  Thank goodness – I didn’t gain anything back.  From November to February, I stayed right between 195-190, never gaining above that, but not losing less than that either.  I wasn’t walking as much, I wasn’t calorie counting – I was just living my life.  I was doing what felt normal, and I maintained.

Lemon Water

Then, I’m not sure why – but something clicked in February.  Basketball pep band and winter concert season both ended, and I decided I was done with maintaining, and I decided to get serious about getting extra weight off of my body.  I started logging calories again, I started walking Harvey more regularly, and I started drinking more water.  I started eating 1200 calories or less every day, and after a week, I still hadn’t lost anything.  And I was starting to get discouraged and fed up (after only a week – I know).  Then, two things happened – a co-worker told me to try drinking lemon water first thing in the morning.  And I started sleeping more – about 8 or 9 hours per night.  (And I continued to eat 1100 – 1200 calories per day).  And I started seeing dramatic results:

MFP Graph 3-14-15

This graph is pulled from MyFitnessPal, which is the app that I use to track my weight, caloric intake, and exercise.  This is tracking from September 16th, 2014 until this morning, March 14th, 2015.  You can see in mid-late February how things started dropping off and have been fairly steady ever since!  For those of you seeking to pursue wellness for your own life, here’s what’s been working for me lately:

  • Don’t sit down when you get home from work until you’ve changed into your workout clothes and you’ve gone for a walk (or whatever).  Even just a short, 10-20 minute walk every day helps boost your metabolism and promote general wellness.   But once you sit on the couch – you’re done for!
  • First thing in the morning, freshly juice a lemon (or half a lemon, if a whole lemon is too much) into an 8oz glass and fill the rest with warm water.  It’s best if you drink it 30 minutes before breakfast.
  • Drink lots of water – I drink at least 2 liters every day.
  • If you’re looking to lose weight, track your calories carefully – and reduce caloric intake.  As long as you eat lots of vegetables and fruits and a multivitamin every day, you can definitely meet all your nutritional needs within 1200 calories – and it’s not as hard as you might think!
  • Sleep more.  Sleep metabolizes the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrin better than anything else, preventing you from putting on extra weight when you are stressed.

Whatever you’re going for – I wish you well in your pursuit of health!  Thank you all for your love and support.  I can’t wait to find the healthy body I’ve never ever had.  I hope to see a better glimpse of it this summer!

So if you know Tyler and I you know that we are passionate about good television.  That means that reality TV never almost never crosses the threshold of our home.  Lately, there has been one large exception.

what-not-to-wear-stacy-clintonI know, I know.  It’s an embarrassment.  Netflix added two seasons of this gem to streaming and I’ve been mainlining it for a few weeks now. But I truly do not see it as being  a total waste of time.  Here’s the reasons that I’ve been empowered by this particular show.

  • They are dressing average women.  Sure, Stacy herself is outrageously thin (and I always remind myself that it’s her job to be thin and stylish all the time).  But the women that they dress are so gloriously normal.  They range in size and body type dramatically and it’s so refreshing to see them be featured.
  • They never, ever tell the women to change their body.  It doesn’t matter whether they are teeny tiny thin who could use to bulk up or if they are well over 100 lbs overweight.  They tell every single woman that they are beautiful and to love the body they are in.  They tell women to dress the body that they have and to be proud of their body and learn how to feel attractive, comfortable, and confident in their body.
  • The women find themselves in their new clothes.  When you wear something that really fits well and suits who you are, it changes how you carry yourself.  They learn to care for themselves and really value who they are.

After watching over 20 hours of this, it’s had an impact on me.  I’ve been practicing taking a beat when I get dressed to make sure I actually really like the way that I look and (for once) taking time to pair my outfits with the plethora of jewelry that I have.  I live in a phenomenal city full of stylish people and I like being one of them.

In the past, when I have felt like I didn’t have any clothes that I thought looked good on me, I punished myself by refusing to buy clothes.  I would say “No.  You’re not allowed to buy clothes while you’re overweight.  That’s a poor investment.  Get some control of your life and lose weight and then you’ll fit into the clothes that you already own.”  And while this is the year that I’m choosing to take control of my life and drop some excess weight, that doesn’t mean that who I am now is not valuable.  This week I chose to purchase two dresses this week that look phenomenal on me now.  Just because I weigh more than I’d ultimately like to, that doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve to get myself a new back-to-school dress that I look and feel great in.  Both of the dresses make me feel good and feel that I have value.  If you dress confidently and pour some time (and a little money) into yourself, it really does make a difference in how you feel.  Thanks Stacy and Clinton!

Earlier this week I posted about my recent revelation of what I actually want my body to look like.  And I mentioned that even though I know it is physically impossible to live up to the industry standard of beauty, I know that my weight is simply too high for the life that I want to live.  So to start, I thought I would state the reasons that I am choosing to lose weight this year:

1.  To live a long and healthy life with my husband.

    This is by far the most important reason I am choosing to lose weight.  While I know that I am capable of being healthy in an overweight body, I also know that weighing less will contribute to my overall health (with continued healthy lifestyle habits).  I want to live to be over 100, and I want my husband to be there with me.  We love each other so much, we don’t want extra weight and unhealthiness in our lives to cut us short on time we could spend together.

Kayaking!

2.  To prepare my body for having children.

     Okay, nobody panic here.  Seriously.  It has always been in our plan to have at least one child by the time I turn 30 (I’m barely 25 – not getting pregnant tomorrow, people).  And I always have known that I will not be an obese pregnant woman.  Because my mom is a labor and delivery nurse, she has told me all about health risks to both the mother and the child in utero (when the time comes) when the woman is significantly overweight.  That knowledge has always made age 30 my “drop dead deadline” for when I had to actually, really lose weight.  But Tyler and I agreed recently that this wasn’t a close enough goal.  Why wouldn’t I want to enjoy more years of feeling good and looking great?  So this year, there is a third reason.

Ellie and Me!

3.  To finally, finally be able to fit into my “skinny” clothes.  

    Clothes that I purchased when I weighed less, and in particular, several items of clothing that I bought years ago as a “motivation” to lose weight so that I could fit into them.  I have literally never worn 5-10% of the clothes in my closet, and this is the year that I will wear them.  How you say?  The Hanger Flip.

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With my new gigantic closet in our Seattle apartment, I have room for every single shirt, pant, skirt, tank top, sweater, and dress to be hung up for me to see.  A couple of weeks ago, I flipped every hanger so that they were hung “backwards.”  As soon as I wear that item of clothing (in public, not just to try it on), it gets hung back up the closet “normally.”  Any item of clothing that has not been worn by August 15, 2015 goes straight to Goodwill.

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I encourage any of you with lots of “skinny” clothes hanging in your closets to try this!  There are so many items in there that I have either never worn or that I have really missed being able to wear and the thought of them disappearing forever is great motivation for me to keep going!  In fact, Tyler and I have even thought about “This dress will probably work again when I’m 195” or “This one will probably have to wait until I’m in the 170’s” so that I have lots of check-in points with clothes along the way.  I am so excited for this first year of ours in Seattle and to see some positive change in my body and in my wardrobe!

The other thing that I’ve done is set up “Wellness Check In” appointments in my calendar.

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I absolutely live my LIFE by my Google Calendars.  If it doesn’t go on a to-do list or as an event in my calendar, it doesn’t happen.  I think this has been my biggest downfall in sticking with the goals I’ve set for myself in the past.  So, I set myself a once a month appointment in our shared family calendar (translation:  Tyler can see when those are coming and be a part of the conversation) with a target to work towards. If I make the target weight, I get the reward!  If I don’t make the target that month, then I adjust the rest of my targets according to what I actually weighed that month so I don’t get stuck in the “I’m so far behind, I may as well give up” mentality.

Pedicures

My favorite part of my wellness check-in sheet is that I earn a non food or drink related reward for each step of the way!  For example, in September, if I drop below 200lbs I will reward myself with a massage!  In October, I get a mani/pedi.  November, I have a set appointment to try on all the dresses in my closet to see which ones now fit GREAT and which ones I have shrunken out of.  When I reach my goal weight (ideally in May) then I will get to go on a weekend away with Tyler, just us (which I’m pretty sure we’ve never done before).  My basic philosophy throughout this whole process is this:

  • Celebrate successes
  • Forgive failures
  • Start each day anew

Forgiving failures is a hard one for me.  If I feel like I had a rock star day for nutrition and exercise, I get angry when the scale doesn’t reflect that the next day.  That makes me want to throw in the towel altogether, eat a big pile of baked goods and take a nap.  But having reasonable goals (aim for losing 1.5lbs per week) and room to adjust if needed will help me find success this year.  The goal is always forward motion, and not to get bogged down when a week inevitably goes awry.

I know many people get sick of hearing weight-loss talk and stories, and if I lose a few followers, that’s fine.  But I also know that many of us make choices to carry extra weight and need the boost to choose health every day.  So if you’re feeling discouraged – send me a message!  If you are celebrating success for health in your life, let me know!   I am always willing to share and collaborate and help others be accountable.  We all want the same thing – to live long, happy lives – and we can help each other get there!

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Body image is such a hot topic right now.  If you haven’t seen any of the videos floating around the Internet that show how absolutely insane photoshopping models has gotten, I highly recommend this one, which shows a photograph of a real model transformed into a “magazine-ready” photo:

And also this video, which is done on a music video of this woman singing and being adjusted in video software as she sings.

And one of my favorites, four average women made to look like “cover-ready” models:

In all of these, the final part of the video shows the normal human next to the fully edited version.  In nearly every single one, you look at the photoshopped version of the woman and she looks like an alien next to a normal human.  It looks so foreign, and so far from what the woman actually looks like.  Even though I don’t buy magazines, I do go to clothing stores.  I’m active on pinterest occasionally.  And I watch movies and TV.  In all of these situations, the women being portrayed are not what women really look like.  Even the models and actresses don’t really look that good in real life.  And even though their real-life, non-edited bodies still look phenomenal next to the average woman, we forget that looking toned and thin is their full time job.  That is literally their only income is to be beautiful, so they can spend their time and their money on excellent quality food, hours on end at the gym with trainers, and paid staff to make their hair, makeup and wardrobe look flawless.

I’ve been reflecting on this a great deal lately.  While I have been working exceptionally hard to eat excellent food and exercise as much as I can, I have been holding in my head a standard for what I want myself to look like that is unrealistic.   This last weekend I spent the day at a resort in Chelan, WA for a bachelorette party.  Because it was a resort with a pool next to a lake, pretty much everyone there was walking around in just a bathing suit.   I knew this would be the case, and I was panicked about it. I don’t wear bathing suits. Like ever. Especially when I’m north of 200lbs, I feel like I’m doing a detriment to society when I wear a bathing suit in public.  This particular picture was taken on our honeymoon in July of 2011 where I was just shy of 200lbs and even in a country where nobody knew me, it was a “take a deep breath, Sarah, it’s going to be okay” moment.  We took this picture, but I didn’t even post it to Facebook.  I had to dig through old photos on an external hard drive to find it.  I’m pretty sure I’ve worn a bathing suit once since this picture was taken.

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But this was the agenda for the weekend – go swimming, go boating, have fun!  And I wasn’t going to be the girl in jeans and a T-Shirt saying “I don’t wear bathing suits” and making everyone feel uncomfortable.  So I decided to don this very suit and, armed with a swimsuit cover-up scarf, I just went for it.  I wore a bathing suit for hours on end, in public, and it wasn’t a big deal.  Nobody said “OH MY GOD, put your clothes on!  You are SO fat!”  Nobody laughed at me.  Nobody probably even thought those things.  In fact, I got a few compliments on my suit cover-up.  People looked at me in that suit and thought “She looks cute!”  They did not think “Ew, gross.”  And even if they did, they kept it to themselves.  Here’s the kicker for me – I really don’t think very many women go around harshly judging every outfit and makeup and strand of fuzzy hair on every single woman they see.  Sure, sometimes we see someone in an outrageous outfit and think “Wow, I would never wear that!”  But who cares?  That person obviously is comfortable wearing it and that is their absolute right.

My other mind-blowing moment of the weekend was this – watching everyone else in their suits.  Sure, you could say this contradicts what  I just said about women not judging each other, but I don’t think so.  What I observed was – almost NO ONE had a truly flat stomach.  That always seemed like my very biggest flaw in life is that I have never had a flat stomach and that somehow I was supposed to.  But I looked around at these women in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s and I had a revelation.  Even the girls who are at healthy weights, the girls who are in great shape – nearly all of them still have a little bit of a belly.  And it’s not a bad thing.  It is normal for women to carry a little bit of extra body fat on their torso.  It doesn’t make them fat.  It doesn’t make them ugly.  It makes them normal.  There were women at the resort who probably wear a size 14 who were in two piece bathing suits.  And nobody made fun of them.  They were comfortable in their own skin, they were confident, and it shone through.  They looked good!  This blew my mind.

10609675_10152638477640135_3566532787541288608_n It gave me the confidence to wear a tank dress without a shrug again.  I haven’t done that in years.  It’s not even that big of a deal – just this small piece of fabric that helps me feel more secure.  But it was SO HOT that night, and I realized, “I don’t want to wear this.  And I don’t need to wear this.”  So I didn’t.

This isn’t to say that I don’t need to weigh less.  I really believe I do.  And I will continue to work on that every minute of every day.  But it will not be because I think I look fat and it’s a detriment to society for people to have to look at fat people.  I’ll post later this week about my motivations for my own personal weight-loss (and how it’s going!) but you can guarantee that “to have a flat stomach so people don’t judge me” is not on my list.  And it shouldn’t be on yours either!  Be the best you that you can be, and don’t try to live up to the “industry standard” of beauty.  Because nobody looks like that.  Today, I will choose to be happy with how I look, and know that I am doing what I do best – being me!

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I am nearing the end of my first summer here at American Band College, and figured this would be a good time to reflect and tell the general public what this degree program is like.  It is certainly the only one of its kind, and for band directors, that is a very good thing.

The foundation of the program is::

  1. ABC is only interested in you knowing exactly what you need to know to be a good band director.  They won’t dig into philosophy, they won’t have you work on general education requirements that have nothing to do with running a band program.
  2. You only have to study what you don’t know.  Upon arriving in Ashland, you take an entrance exam.  While they give you study materials, they encourage you not to stress about studying too much before you arrive.  It is designed to assess what you do and don’t know at that time.  Then, the next day they give you the results of the exam.  Every master’s candidate has “weakness areas” that they didn’t test above 70% on their entrance exam.  People have anywhere from 3 to 24 weakness areas.  Anything that is not considered a “weakness area” you no longer have to study.  You already know it.  You will not be tested on it again.
  3. You will be forced to learn what you don’t know through project-based learning.  In addition to several incredibly practical projects that all students partake in (conducting assessment, video-taping the teaching of a piece throughout the rehearsal process, adjudicating bands, etc.) each student does three Practical Application projects that they choose based on their weakness areas.  Since I understand woodwinds already, I chose to do my first project on learning more about the French Horn.  You can watch my website take shape at hornsupremacy.com!
  4. This is a place to collaborate.  Everyone in the program is in the same boat you are in, or they were very recently.  Candidates come from literally all over the country (and world – we have students this year from Germany, South Korea, and Canada!) to be better band directors.  I firmly believe that music teaching is the most collaborative profession in the world.  I have never heard a band director say “I’m not telling you how I warm up my band – you might beat me at state!”  We all share and learn from each other constantly – both online and here in person.  It’s one of my favorite things about being a music teacher.  I admit how young and dumb I am, I seek out those who know more than me, and I absorb everything I can from them.  And they welcome and encourage it!  ABC is the perfect place for collaboration.

Not to mention, it’s in an absolutely lovely part of the country.  Western Oregon is truly beautiful, and many people here from around the country are taken aback by the mountains and the delightfully dry climate (as opposed to much of the hot, humid south).

Ashland Mountains

 

They also build a day off into the schedule so that people from far away get a chance to explore this part of the country.  This year, we went to Crater Lake.  It’s easy to forget how positively blue that water is.  Pictures truly don’t do it justice.

Crater Lake

 

This first year of ABC is nearly over for me.  Tomorrow we play in a parade here in Ashland and then play a Fireworks concert on the high school football field.

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Then we take our final exam on the 5th where we are re-tested on our weakness areas to see where we made improvements during the two and a half weeks we were here.  And then home to finish our first year projects, which are due on August 8th.

 

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If you are or know someone who is a band director who has not done their master’s yet, they seriously need to come here.  I wholeheartedly believe that this will make me a better teacher.  I have gained so much from our clinicians, conductors, and my fellow candidates in such a short period of time.  And the best part is – there are still two more years left in the program!  For the next two summers I will come back and I will continue to learn and grow towards becoming the phenomenal teacher that I want to be.

 

Goodbye

Saying goodbye sucks.  It really does.  Saying goodbye to a community and school district that has given me everything I have as a teacher is the hardest thing I’ve had to do.  These kids have weaseled their way into my heart in a way that seems illogical.  They are just kids.  Other people’s children they have raised who I see for an hour or two a day.  Then they go to their house and I go to mine and we live largely very separate lives.  But at the same time, we understand each other on a very deep level.  They know what aggravates me (gum chewing, cell phones in class, talking when they shouldn’t be).  They know what makes me happy (purple, helpful children, playing rhythms correctly).  I know their families (some wonderful, some not so wonderful).  I know their personalities.  I can tell from the second I see their face what kind of day they are having (just as they can tell when they see my face).

I’m often called a “passionate” person.  I interpret myself in this way:  Either I don’t care about something at all, or I care a hundred and crazy percent.  I care about these kids a hundred and crazy percent.  They have worked hard.  They have grown so much as musicians.  They have learned to put the needs of the group before their own needs.  They have learned what I expect from them:  “Have fun.  Work hard.  Be helpful.”  And they execute all of those things beautifully.  When I need a student to carry an enormous instrument because a student is on crutches and can’t carry their own, I have fifteen kids volunteer to carry it.  When I get to school 40 minutes before school starts and ask the group of music kids hanging with friends “Hey, can you guys help me put the room back together after our concert last night?”  They all jump up immediately and run to the door to see who can put the first chair and stand where they are supposed to go.  How did I get so lucky?  Will I ever have such wonderful, hard working, fun, and helpful students ever again?

Though I have applied to several school districts and even interviewed with one, I will not have a job by the time this school year ends.  I’ve been telling people for months “It’s so early for teacher hiring.  School districts hire all the way through August.  If I don’t have a job by August, then I’ll panic.”  Which is all true.  Except for the fact that I am panicked now.  I would have loved to say at the end of the year concerts “Don’t worry about me guys!  I have this great new job lined up!  It won’t be the same without you guys, but I will be okay.”  Because I have eleven year olds who ask me every day “Have you found a new job yet, Mrs. Butler?”  And I daily smile at them and say “Not yet, guys!  But I’m looking – I’m sure I’ll find something!’  And every day I find it harder to smile and say that line.

I really do believe it will eventually all work out, just for now, the impending oblivion is blinding.  I pour so much into my job that the thought that I wouldn’t have a program to give so much of myself to is staggering to me.  But I really do have at least two-three more months left before true despair will set in.  And as soon as I have a real job offer that I accept and it is official – I will share it here.

But for the next week – the last week I have with these wonderful kids -I will be immersed in goodbyes.  I will not enjoy them.  But they are important.  And I’ll do everything I can to make sure these kids feel loved while I still can.

Even while we dated, Tyler and I always knew we would have dogs.  We would talk about what kinds of dogs we liked, how we saw them fitting into our lives, and how great it would be once we finally had a dog of our own.  We also talked extensively about how we had no sensible reason to get a puppy.  Tyler and I both work full time, and while all dogs require time, love, and commitment – a puppy requires SO much more time and care initially that Tyler and I simply did not have to give.  This makes us ideal candidates for adopting dogs that are out of the puppy stage.

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In our first year of marriage we found our dog Lucy at the Hermiston Pet Rescue in eastern Oregon.  When we got her, they guessed she was about seven years old.   She lived on a farm before we got her, and her owners foolishly decided that because she was older, they would abandon her to get a younger dog.  Truly despicable, in my opinion.  Dogs are not a commodity that you upgrade to get the newer model.  To us, dogs are family.  Lucy was a wonderful dog for us.  We loved her warmth, her calm nature, and her constant cuddles. And we loved her every moment we had her, and we will keep loving her even though she is gone now.

Lucy sleeping

Many of you mourned with us when we lost our dog Lucy this winter.  We went a few weeks without a dog.  I anticipated spending a few months in mourning before we got another dog.  But here’s the thing – those few weeks were torture for me.  I woke up in the morning wanting to let someone out for their pee break.  I went to fill the dog bowl – but nobody was there.  The absence of Lucy stared me in the face every moment I was home.  It was agony.  I felt like a dog owner without a dog.  I decided to start looking at Petfinder to see if there was a right dog out there for us.  And I knew that if we found the right dog for us, it wouldn’t be a disservice to Lucy.  While she was alive, Lucy got all the love we had to give her.  And now that she was gone, it was time for us to give our puppy loving to another dog.  To me, there are just too many dogs out there that need homes for me to sit for months and wait until I feel ready.  Because I was ready the very next day.

The first week in January, I started actually visiting shelters.  We knew already that we were hoping to move to Seattle, so we were looking for a smaller dog (smaller than 25lbs), and hopefully a younger dog.  The year and a half we had with Lucy simply was not long enough, and we wanted our next dog to live long enough to meet our future children (which is still several years away, in case you were wondering).  We wanted younger, but still a dog out of the potty-training puppy stage.  We went to Out West Pet Rescue in Prosser, WA looking for a dog named  “Speckles” we had seen on Petfinder (Tyler actually re-named him before we ever met him.  We both hated the name Speckles.  The mask he sported reminded both of us of Two Face from Batman.  As soon as I showed Tyler a picture of him he said “If we get that dog, we have to name him Harvey”).  He was picked up as a stray in Sunnyside, WA.  They guessed he was a cross between a Papillion and a Springer spaniel, and weighed about 15lbs.  Out West started out as (and still is) a dog groomer, who kept having people drop off strays they had found, saying “You deal with dogs.  Think you can find a home for him?”  Their dogs live in foster homes (not cooped up in kennels), are up to date on shots, spayed/neutered, and healthy.  By the time we got to Out West, we had seen and met over a dozen dogs that morning at other shelters.  Some were nice enough, but just didn’t connect with us.  Many didn’t have the right energy level or weren’t the right size for what we are able to provide for a dog.  We were a bit worn out by the time we got all the way out to Prosser.  Then this little guy jumped into our laps.

Harvey Boy Face

We were done for.  That face!  He immediately started licking our faces.  He had the wiggliest little bottom and the happiest little face.  He was a bit younger than we were hoping for, but he was potty trained and crate trained.  And he was awesome.  We went to get some lunch so we could talk it over, but ultimately, we knew.  We were his and he was ours.  Just like Lucy before him, this dog had been without a home for several months just waiting for someone to scoop him up and love him.

Harvey Boy Sleepies

This little guy fits so well into our lives.  He is mostly very sleepy.  This is how he spends most of his days, curled up on the couch or in a bed.  Or asleep in the sun.

Harvey Sunbathe

Because he was so young (about a year old), we got him while he was still very much into chewing.  We definitely lost a few shoes at first (and underpants.  Why is that such a thing for puppies?).  Then we discovered rawhide.  Sweet, sweet rawhide.  Our shoes have been safe ever since.

Harvey Chews

Probably my favorite thing about our new little guy is how he loves being active.  He’s such an energetic little guy!  He is always up for a walk – or a run – any day of the week!  He LOVES playing with dogs at the dog park and chasing tennis balls (not so great at bringing them back, but we’re working on it).  He is SUCH a blast to take adventuring around Tri-Cities, and I know he will be the perfect adventure puppy in Seattle, too!

Harvey Running

We can even take him off leash and trust him to come back to us when we call – something we were never able to do with  Lucy girl (likely because we adopted Harvey boy at a much younger age).  He makes me happy every single day and I love him to pieces.  He is there to cuddle with when we miss Lucy.  He is there to go on an adventure when we want to.  He runs to the gate when we come home and jumps up and down like a maniac when he first sees us – no matter if it’s been five minutes or five hours.  He may be a totally different dog than Lucy was (seriously, night and day), but that doesn’t mean he is any less perfect for us.

Harvey Crazy

So here’s where we tie the title back in.  This is why we rescue dogs instead of buying from breeders.  If I could have this little man in my life from a shelter, why on earth would I buy a puppy?  Sure, there are breeds that Tyler and I know and love (he’s crazy about Beagles, I’m in love with Yorkies).  But a yorkie puppy is absolute minimum $1,000 (up to over $3,000) – and that’s probably from a puppy farm.  Both of our dogs cost less than $150, came potty trained, crate trained, spayed/neutered, and well cared for.  Neither of them have had emotional scars or abuse that makes them difficult dogs.  Both have been very sociable with both people and other dogs, no problems around children, and have been perfect companions for us.  If you are thinking about getting a dog, please, please, please, look at shelters first.  If you work full time, please consider adopting an older dog (there are so many and they are so great).  If you have your heart set on a puppy, please still look at shelters first.  Often when people have  litter of puppies that they can’t keep, they end up at shelters or on petfinder.com.  Buying from breeders only encourages breeders to keep producing more dogs, and there are so many wonderful dogs out there that need homes.  Dogs are awesome and everyone should get one – but please get one that really, desperately needs you from a shelter.  Pretty please.

Fat and Healthy

How is it possible?  I mean, really.  These two things do not go together in our heads.  If you are fat, you are most certainly not healthy.  If you are healthy, you aren’t fat.  We have massive government programs to reduce obesity and increase health.  It is certainly proven that being overweight/obese can absolutely contribute to a multitude of diseases and health problems – I am not contesting that.  But I am contesting the idea that someone’s waist size is the primary indicator of their wellbeing.  All my life, I have seen overweight people eat vegetables or riding a bike and think “Good for them, they really need it.”  And I have seen thin people eating junk food and not thought twice.  This week, I was challenged to think differently.

End of All Things

May 2009 Sunrise with friends in Spokane

I remember the first time someone implied that I weighed more than I should.  When I was eleven and getting fitted for a dance costume at some fancy parlor, the woman at the store looked down at my stomach and said “You’ve got a little pooch there, don’t you?”  I felt so uncomfortable, and I didn’t know what to say.  My mom had a tummy, my dad is overweight, I figured that’s what “normal” people looked like.  I’ve always been a “big” girl, and therefore always believed I was unhealthy.  Health wasn’t ever a big priority for me, it was just one of the things that defined me.  In fact, never once in my twelve years in grade school did I ever have a PE teacher force me to run an entire mile.  I always walked part of it, and they never bothered me about it.  Running a mile seemed like something fat people couldn’t do and apparently my teachers agreed.  I didn’t understand nutrition.  I didn’t do sports.  I assumed I would continue to live like the majority of Americans:  drinking soda, eating fast food, sedentary, and overweight.  For all eternity.

Butte Challenge

May 2012 Butte Challenge: My first 5k

Then, in January of 2012, I ran my first mile of my life.  I weighed about 190lbs and my BMI classified me as obese.  It was such a major accomplishment for me.  I lost some weight that year, but mostly I learned that I am so much more capable than I ever thought I was.  That year I did my first 5k and I ran the whole thing (number 66, in case you hadn’t worked that out).  As Tyler and I got settled into our married life, we intentionally but very naturally incorporated scratch cooking into our lifestyle.  We bought BPA free water bottles and started drinking more and more water.  Still only ever barely dipped into the “overweight” category of my BMI, but we were taking care of our bodies.

The past year or so has been challenging for weight for both Tyler and I.  Tyler had just started a job that took him away from always being on his feet at a retail store and put him primarily sedentary behind a desk.  I worked at a few camps over the summer and got incredibly carried away with camp food and very little activity at home during my teacher summer.  Our scale broke in our move to Kennewick and it took us about three months to replace it.  Lack of monitoring meant that when we did eventually weigh in again, we both ended up surprised and alarmed.  We started going to the gym, adding more vegetables into our diet, increasing water intake again – all the things you do when you want to be healthy.  Here’s the infuriating thing, though:  My weight has not gone down dramatically.  Not at all.  Only seven pounds since the beginning of the year.  Every time I stepped on a scale or looked in a mirror I feltlike an utter and complete failure.  Nothing has truly changed.  My “thin” clothes still don’t fit.  And I don’t want to buy more “fat” clothes.  So I was unhappy with myself every single day, and working out to punish myself for every poor food choice I ever made to make myself look like this.

Brickyard

Spring Break 2014 in Boise with girlfriends

This week, I got some additional insight into my health.  In the past 12 months I have had a full metabolic panel taken three times. Nothing big, just checking in.  A year ago, my labs looked pretty good.  This week my labs looked AMAZING.  My doctor raved for five full minutes about how much she loved my labs.  My cholesterol is phenomenal.  She said it looked like I was on medication to lower it, it was so good.  “Better than mine!” she said with a grin.  Did I mention what a petite human my doctor is?  She said my kidney and liver functions look like I’m a teenager.  And while I’m not that far past my teenage years, I feel like  that is still an accomplishment. I beamed widely for a moment, but then I was puzzled.  I looked at my doctor and said “You know, technically, I am obese according to my BMI.  I am really quite overweight still.”  She looked right back and said, “But your labs show that you are doing everything right to take care of your body.  Everybody’s built differently.  You are healthy.  Your body is working on the inside exactly how it is supposed to.  Keep up the great work!”  It was by far the best doctor’s appointment of my life.  What could be better than your doctor looking at you square in the face and giving you a complete and total approval of all the choices you are making?  I was over the moon.  And my paradigm was busted.

There are many thin people who are unhealthy.  Lots of thin people eat terrible foods, drink only beverages packed with high fructose corn syrup and never work out.  And plenty of overweight people eat great food, hydrate like crazy, and exercise several times a week.  Everyone is on a journey.  Some people are on a journey from thick to thin, others from thin to thick.  Some people will stay the same size their whole lives.  Here’s my headline here:  it doesn’t matter.  How much you weigh does not impact the fact that eating vegetables is good for you and eating processed junk food is bad for you.  Whether an obese person is on a walk or a body builder is doing dead lifts, both of them are making positive choices for their bodies and their lives.  If I see someone on the street, the fact that I can see what their body looks like and guess at how much they weigh gives me a teeny tiny little piece of the puzzle of what that person’s health is, not to mention what their story is.  I know just as much about the inner workings of their body as they know about mine.  We are all humans making the best of our situations, and what we see is truly skin deep.

Palm Selfie

March 2014: Palm tree selfie with my mom in SoCal

So I’ve decided to see myself differently.  Even now, looking at these recent pictures, I don’t see an obese girl.  I see a happy girl.  Just this week, the girl in those pictures ran a 5k on Monday, biked 10 miles on Tuesday and is hiking Badger Mountain over the weekend.  I may not be the most thin girl you’ve ever met.  And you know something?  I never will be the thinnest thing on two legs.  But that doesn’t keep me from being healthy.  And I certainly won’t let it keep me from being happy.

Seattle

If you’re not in the mood for the long version, here’s the short one:  We are moving to Seattle in June.  Tyler took an exciting new job that he starts today and after this school year is over Tyler, Harvey and I are bound for the west side of Washington and we are very excited!

This is not news to all of you, but I would guess that most of you did not know this was on our radar, or that the decision has been made for a while now.  Here’s the long version:

Tyler has a good friend who used to work with him here in Tri-Cities at Robinson Tech.  This friend started working for TrustCC –  a security consulting agency based out of Seattle, WA.  Since this friend started working for TrustCC he has been telling Tyler how fantastic the job is and how great Tyler would be at this work.  In fact, when we moved to Kennewick last summer, we partially did so because the job required Washington residency.  At the time, we thought he could work from home in Kennewick and I could continue to do the job I loved in Umatilla, OR (we found out three days after we moved that this was not the case – the job could only be done from Puget Sound).  But we loved our year in Kennewick.  We got to spend time with my family, particularly special because it was my sister’s senior year in high school and possibly the last time we would live in the same area ever again.  I got to work another year in Umatilla (which has been phenomenal) and Tyler got to work another 9 months for Robinson Tech.  We are both glad that we got to work quite a bit longer in our jobs to really feel like we completed the work we had started out to do and make sure that our workplaces had good replacements for us (still on the search for an awesome teacher to take over this awesome program here in Eastern Oregon!)

TrustCC Tyler

Tyler actually starts training at his new job today and will be in full swing of that work shortly.  He may have to spend a few days at a time up in Seattle in the next couple of months, but we know that this is just part of the transition and helpful for us to get used to.  As part of this new job, Tyler will be spending some time on the road to different parts of the country (about a week out of every month) and I think this is a good time for Harvey and I to get used to living just the two of us on occasion.  I think it will make all three of us even more grateful for the time we do get to spend together.

As far as work for me on the West Side is concerned, there are several leads I am pursuing.  I went to the Tacoma Teacher Job Fair over spring break, handed out 30 resumes, interviewed with a few districts and found out about a few potential jobs.  Most of them are not official or posted online yet (much like the position I am vacating), but I will continue to keep a look out and keep my name on the minds of districts on the other side of the mountains.  The beautiful thing about being an educator is – worst case scenario – we can always make rent with me subbing.  I hope we don’t have to resort to that, but it’s there – just in case.

 I told all of the teachers and students today about our transition.  It was a difficult day.  Some were sad, some disappointed, some very angry.  I just had to remind them (and myself) that teaching is entirely temporary.  If I stayed until all of them graduated, then I would still be “abandoning” the students who are younger than them.  Teachers will come and go through their lives, students will come and go through mine.  I can tell myself that until I’m blue in the face and it is still unbearable to think of leaving these students who I have come to know and love so dearly.  But I know that there are many more fantastic, hard-working students on the West Side that I have yet to meet and grow to love, too.  And I can’t wait to meet them.

Veggies

Can I be real for a second?  I talk a big talk.  I really do wholeheartedly believe that the more things we eat that grow in the ground, the longer we live.  And I really do eat tons more vegetables now than I have at any other point in my life.  We have gone to the gym more in 2013 than we did in 2012 and 2011.  And I now weigh almost as much as I ever have in my entire life.  WHAT.  THE.  HECK.

Except, not really.  I do know why.  Adding in some green beans to a meal that includes 2 cups of pasta and 7 pieces of garlic bread followed up by snaking on more empty carbs throughout the evening doesn’t make for a healthy lifestyle.  But I ate some green beans!  And a few baby carrots!  And then, handfuls of cereal and some Christmas cookies and a piece of toast slathered in Nutella.  It’s not a complete equation.  There is no reason for me to be surprised that my weight continues to climb.

Husband and I talked extensively about this on the way home from our Christmas trip to the San Juans.  He was so burned out from all the sugar consumption of the holidays.  Disappointingly, it seems that I never really get burned out on sugar.  But both of us were indeed craving vegetables.  We also both just felt like we haven’t been doing our part in taking care of our bodies.  Especially the last few months with Lucy, we have not wanted to go to the gym – we wanted to be home with her.  And there is boatloads of research that supports that stress absolutely contributes to weight gain, for a variety of reasons.  Now just seems like the perfect time to get back on the horse and try to live a healthier life again.  We’re going to pretend like it’s not just a New Year’s resolution since we’re really re-booting on December 30th, but there really is something perfect about New Year’s coming immediately after all of the sugar, fats and gluttony that the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas brings out in Americans like us.

New Year 2014

We got home last night and made a boatload of vegetable juice.  We drank some then, and the rest we will drink today.  Disappointingly, it was the first time our juicer had had a workout since we moved to Kennewick in July.  It’s just one important step.  Here’s what we’re going to try to do better in 2014 (and the last two days of 2013).

 –  Eat more veggies.  Neither of us minds eating vegetables, it just simply isn’t an integral part of every meal that we eat and it has to be.  There is nothing better we can do for our health, except possibly

 –  Drink more water.  Also something we have been good at in the past and it’s time to re-boot that.  We both own water bottles and keep them with us at all times.  Part of what will help us is doing water challenges – seeing which one of us can drink more water in a day and keeping in touch throughout the day on how our water intake is doing.

 –  Make the gym a regular routine.  We joined Gold’s Gym in October and our attendance in October and November was actually pretty great, until Lucy started going downhill.  Now that that chapter in our lives is closed, it’s time to get back in that habit.  Bring a gym bag in the car every day so that you always have the option.  It seems like once we meet up at home to go to the gym together it is so much easier to just stay home.  So we will work much harder at meeting there to work out together.  Also, having a FitBit is making me want to go out and move more to get more points and blinking dots on my wrist, so I am looking forward to that being an additional motivator.

 –  Continue to cook for ourselves.  This is something we actually rock at.  We pretty much never go out to dinner, especially just the two of us.  The times we eat out are when we are meeting up with friends in a city we don’t live in, but when we’re home, we make our own food.  Granted, those meals almost always start life as a frozen chicken breast, but still, we save ourselves a ton of money by eating this way.  Our job now is to incorporate more veggies into these, and less starches.

 –  Meatless Mondays. This is a thing that many people already do and I’m sure isn’t a foreign concept to many of you.  The main motivator behind Meatless Mondays is that Americans eat way too much meat.  I mean way way way way too much – about 7 times as much as the recommended allowance. And that contributes to our fast-food way of life, commercial production of cows, hogs, and chickens, etc.  If all Americans just ate vegetarian one day per week it would greatly reduce our carbon footprint as well as a million health benefits for that individual, and for the planet.  We have always believed in it, but never made it a part of our lives.  So we are going to try that (starting today!) and see if we like the results.  If you have any favorite vegetarian dishes, we could really use some help on those!

 – Continue to support each other in our health pursuits.   Again, we actually rock at this one already.  We love each other so much and ultimately want both of us to live healthier so that we have more years to spend together.  Being on each other’s team is an integral part of our support system, and we will continue to do that for each other as long as we both shall live.  And that includes water intake and veggies!

So here we raise a glass to a happier, healthier 2014!  And we wish the same for you.

Tyler and Sarah

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