“Before” and “After” Who, What, When, Where, How or Why?

Last night I participated in a Twitter chat for SweatPink. We were sharing our “A-ha Moments” both to help each other and to try and win a trip to IDEA Blogfest. Personally I’ve had many “A-Ha Moments” in my lifetime, but recently I have two and more importantly the moment when I realized the two were not only connected, but completely dependent on one another.

young attractive business woman working on laptop and celebrating

My two moments were when I realized last year I needed to do something about the state of my mental health and then again this year when I realized I needed to do something about my dietary/physical health. It’s hard for me to say I wasn’t active (I’m very active) I just didn’t always make the right food choices.

In the world of blogging, especially “fitness” or “lifestyle” blogging the idea of weight loss comes up again and again and again. Along with it is the tradition of posting “Before” and “After” photos to highlight a lifestyle change or general transformation. How do we pick and choose which pictures are the befores and which are the afters? At what point is there a line in the sand? And can there ever only be one line?

I’ve mentioned previously I’ve gained and lost weight a few times in my life. In middle school/high school I went from an unknown weight down to nearly 100 pounds. To go from barely fitting teen-age clothing when you’re 10, (this was before plus sizes were more readily available) to wearing a size 2 or 4 was a huge shift. My idea of self, along with other people’s views of me, majorly changed. Was that my before and after? Was that just ONE of my many befores and afters?

Then in college I went from 180+ pounds to the 130′s. I went from an adult size 18/20 (or more) down to a size 10. It’s sad for me to think about now. I was within 5 pounds of a “healthy” weight according to BMI, but because I was a size 10 I told myself I was overweight. I was at the best running shape of my life, but I let the jeans and my hip bones decide what I would think. Was that my long lost before and after? It’s certainly what I have highlighted in my “About Me” section.

weight

Honestly, I tend to delete or hide from pictures when I’m heavier, so my “befores” are far and few between. The funny thing is, like many people have pointed out, there are many ways to take pictures at different angles, in different lighting, and with different clothing to instantly improve a look. My October 2013 picture? Same girl as the photo below. One of my all time “I hate being this heavy” pictures. These were taken within 24 hours of each other!

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Which brings us to “today”. Over the last 6 weeks I’ve managed to decrease my weight by nearly 12 pounds. I’ve gone from a size 16 to a size 12. Mind you that’s certainly a branding issue as well as a size concern. I’ve gone from hating nearly every photo of myself, to actually liking everything I’ve seen lately. Does that mean this is the end of my before and after?

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It’s hard to tell. There’s a piece of me that thinks/knows if I keep eating healthy and working out there is more weight I will lose. Part of me knows with even more effort I can continue to lose….but do I want to? How important is it to me to make some magic number on a chart? How important is it to wear a certain size jeans? If I’m happy with my looks and my behaviors, when is enough enough?

Oh, and these are just the physical questions. I often wonder if there shouldn’t always be more than meets the eye when it comes to health and fitness journeys. What about the unseen aspects? What about the people we involve in our lives? Is it not important to note the good and bad significant others? Times when we are close with our family of origin or when we are not? Work stress? School stress? Or what about people who give birth once or twice or more? Does their journey take on different befores and afters?

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With me there’s always the push for people to consider mental and emotional changes as well. Before and after the discovery of self esteem and self worth. Before and after learning how to not use food as a crutch or comfort. Before and after understanding how to stand up for yourself. All of this plays a crucial role.

Now tell me, what are your A-HA moments? What changes have you made or have yet to make? Do you follow a set “before” and “after” or is everything on a continuum?

What to Do When Someone is Complaining

I had a different post ready for today, but this was a much more timely and important issue to address. What should you do when someone is complaining? Mind you there are of course exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, if the person is someone you care for or about, this is generally the solution.

Parks and Rec – “That Sucks”

Sorry, the video owner won’t allow embedding so good old fashioned link right there. In all seriousness though, I think sometimes as friends and loved ones we care so much about people all we want is to comfort them, help them find a solution, or offer our own insight. Speaking from personal experience though, I don’t always need or want any of those things. Especially the first time I bring up an issue. Usually I only want to know I’ve been heard. I want to know someone is willing to say “That sucks” even if they don’t think it’s a big deal. Even if there’s a million other things wrong in the world, I want someone for one moment to say they’re sorry I feel less than stellar.

Genes-Shares-His-Horribly-Sad-Curse-Of-Living-On-Bobs-Burgers
At times I feel cursed because little things go wrong in my life, usually I feel lucky because nothing huge and major has ever happened. Every medical, social, emotional or whatever issue I have ever experienced has been a ripple in a pond. Never enough to gain the attention of others, always enough to make an impact on my life. When all is said and done, this is why I get upset, this is why I get irritable. My loved ones often remind me things could be worse, but I am completely aware of that fact things can be worse. What I want (once again) is for someone to say “That sucks” even if the problem will fix itself or fade away the next day. If I want advice or insight I will ask “What do you think”? Or “What should I do”?

I know everyone has issues at work.
I know we all stress about money at times.
I know “someone” is out there for me.
I know it’s a good thing I only have slight hearing loss.
I know I should be proud of my achievements even if other people pick on me.

For the last week or two I’ve been totally out of sorts. I thought it was allergies, I thought it was tapering for my events, I thought it was food choices. I even wondered if I was getting sick or having a hormonal issue. Then I went to counseling this afternoon (yep, still involved) and over the course of an hour looking at so many things from so many angles, she shared I’m probably stressed because a lot popped up over the last few weeks. Then it hit me, not only has a lot popped up over the last few weeks, but almost everyone I have talked to has simply told me, “You’ll be fine” or “That’s OK”. I don’t want to say NO ONE said “That sucks”, but I will say it seems like a majority of people didn’t. I am very thankful to have friends and family who love me enough to put in the effort of comforting or fixing. HOWEVER, a little validation goes a long way. Simply say “That sucks” and maybe “Is there anything I can do”?

Always remember even a splinter in a lion’s paw can impact its day. My crisis isn’t a crisis because you say so, it’s because of the impact it’s having in my world.

Friday Food : Sausage, Spinach & Tortellini Soup

My Mom made this soup a few times over the winter and I have been craving it hardcore. She told me the general recipe and I went and did my own thing…naturally. I’ll share exactly what I made and then share a few suggestions on ways to adapt.

Sausage, Spinach & Tortellini Soup

Sausage, Spinach & Tortellini Soup

What you need:

  • 1-2 pounds Italian sausage
  • 16 – 20 oz uncooked tortellini
  • 42 oz chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 12 oz baby spinach
  • spices: Basil, oregano, red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:

Prepare tortellini according to package and set to the side

Prepare the sausage according to package and set to the side (could probably be done while tortellini is cooking)

In a LARGE stock pot, combine the broth, sausage and spices. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add your tortellini and spinach, cover and allow to simmer for 5-10 more minutes

Pour in your milk and stir until well blended

Serve and enjoy!

Makes approximately (12) 1-cup servings

Comments:

Tortellini comes in so many sizes, I would really recommend not getting caught up on those details. Try between 16-20 oz and you should be fine.

I used 2 rolls of Bob Evan’s Italian sausage (rolled up in the section with other lunch and breakfast meats), which is A LOT. You could easily get by with 1 roll (1 pound). It was be very much healthier, but I really like sausage sooooo there ya go.

Other ways to make it healthier would be to use a different sausage, perhaps turkey? Or vegetarian then increase your spices. Use whole wheat tortellini and find additional vegetables to use. I think if you’re into it, mushrooms would also make a nice addition to the soup.

I used College Inn broth which has a 42 oz size, you can use another brand or canned and use about as much liquid. Water + bullion cubes is another idea.

Having whole milk in the house I used it. You could use evaporated milk for a creamier base, but I didn’t feel like going to the store for an extra trip and mine turned out fine. I like a more “soupy” soup over creamy anyway.

You can also top the soup with grated Parmesan cheese.