Almost 40 and Single

I used to think it would be a tragedy of sorts to be nearly 40 and single. That if not married or at least in a serious relationship then somehow I’ve failed as an adult. After all the narrative I was told was that happiness only came from finding the one to live life with.

But what is not spoken of as much is JOY. Happiness is fleeting and runs away from the shadows of life. Joy, however sticks around. Joy is there for the long haul and still there in the midst of hardships.

For a long time, I believed that marriage was some kind of reward. As if getting married was some statement of who I am deep down in my soul. That If I was good enough to warrant a partner in this life, that this was some stamp of approval.

I lived in this tension long after I became a Christian. It has taken me most of these past ten years to begin to understand how wrong I have been. Years of longing for something that wasn’t or isn’t meant for me just yet. Years of jealousy over others getting to have what I wanted. Believing that somehow I was lacking because I didn’t have a mate.

This was the way I lived. At least, until I started to believe that love is greater than the small box I had placed it in. Instead, Believing in the enormous, unending love of God.

I understood that I am loved by God intellectually. The disconnect was with my heart and spirit. I kept turning away from what was right in front of me and towards my idol of marriage.

One of the breakthroughs began when I started to develop deeper friendships. Friendships that not only provided companionship but also pointed me to Jesus. One time, after having my heart hurt over some unrequited feelings I reached out to a friend. Instead of the comforting words I craved, she only said that she couldn’t help me. Only Jesus could.

Those words stung. I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to be told how awesome I am, that it was his loss blah blah blah. In that moment I was hearing what I needed. I needed Jesus, full stop.

Through my tears in that moment, I cried out to Him. To be fair I have cried out many times since.

I’m grateful for my church and the real community they offer to all who want it. It comes with a price, being part of a community. It means being lovingly confronted at times. To pull back the mask and embrace the God who loves us.

I will be 40 next year, odds are I will also be single when I do. I no longer believe it’s a tragedy. The tragedy would be if I were still missing God’s love not only for myself but for all.

Single is a box I check on forms, not the entirety of who I am as a human being.

I am defined by who I am in Christ. I am the beloved daughter of Christ. I was thought of before the creation of the world. God created me to exemplify His love and holiness with my life.

If I never marry, I have the peace and love of Christ. If I do marry, I still have the peace and love of Christ. Either way I am blessed and that is what matters.

My Health Journey

Six years ago I learned how to be healthier and that running isn’t the devil. But so much can change over time, mindset, metabolism, schedule and motivation. I’ve found what works for me, what foods or moods can trigger me. That just because I know how to make better choices when it comes to my health, it doesn’t mean I will or want to.

The things I have learned about my body over these six years are numerous. I will continue to learn more as I get older. I’ve learned what I don’t want just as much as what I want.

Why I Don’t Stress My Weight

It’s not that I don’t care that my weight is where it is today. At my “ideal ” weight, I was the least joyful. The process of losing weight was easier in some respects than maintaining my “ideal” weight. Losing weight, I had a goal to meet. It’s the same as when I did Whole 30, I also had a goal to meet in doing that. I do well with goals it seems, especially if they are public ones too.

But maintaining an “ideal” weight that in the end isn’t so ideal isn’t healthy either. Nor is letting my continued apathy towards where I am right now. How will this look in my life as discover new goals? I honestly don’t know yet. But I do understand better that ideal isn’t necessarily a number on the scale.

Where I am today and where I would like to be has a ways to go.

Lacking Motivation

I also lack the motivation to do what I need to do to get there. When I lost the bulk of my weight, I was doing two intense workouts a day, seven days a week (I learned later on about rest days). It wasn’t something that can be maintained in the long run.

I also don’t want to stop eating the way I have been. There, I said. It’s been a stressful time with my move and moving into a new role at work but it’s also been my choice. It’s not that I eat nothing healthy but ending each day with ice cream doesn’t help that.

A New Start

I know what I need to do. It’s about owning the choices I have made to get here. To understand why I have chosen to eat the way I have ( tastes good, makes me feel good, convenient).

Previously as I posted about healthy eating or a motivational picture, I was not always following my own advice. That is the reality of blogs, social media et al. It’s not the entire story.

The reality of getting healthy is that it’s something that can fall away. I didn’t believe I would end up making the same choices that have lead to my weight gain when I was in the midst of losing it. But here I am and the reality is at times it can feel easier to fall back into the habits that I know. Instead of habits that are good for me.

This takes routine as well as motivation. But life doesn’t adhere to routines, at least not for long. Things shift, an illness, a change in jobs and *poof* it changes. Sometimes it’s easier to get back into it. Other times it takes longer, or even not at all.

This is where I’m at right now. Trying to make the better choices, owning when I don’t and meeting myself where I am. And most importantly, not comparing myself to others. The other day as I went out for my run/walk, a gentleman ran circles around me at the park. It hit me that I too had been at the point where I could run laps nearly non-stop. One day I may be there again but I have to want it and work up to that once again. That’s what I mean by meeting myself where I am.

The Social Media Lies

There is a world outside of the internet. Beyond the stream of uncensored information. An endless stream I’ve become addicted to checking in on.

Before I’m out of bed I’m checking my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’ve allowed it to dictate my emotions, causing me to believe in the lie I’m not cared for.

I’ve allowed twitter feeds to play on my emotions, causing me to be blinded with anger at the state of the world.

Most of all it has distracted me from the truth of Jesus.

It’s not that these things are bad. It’s good to be informed and aware of the world around me. But what isn’t good is my getting caught up in other people’s reactions. Yep, I’m a comment section ghost. Reading what other ppl write in order to judge them. It sounds like a harsh assessment but it’s the truth.

I forget I am just as fallible and am too judged

These platforms are great for engaging with people. But we must not allow for it to become a substitute for creating and caring for relationships. I know I’ve allowed it , my perception through the social media lens to affect my relationships. I have even compared the number of likes a friend’s post had against my own. Seeing that as some kind of yard stick of how cared for I am.

I forgot in those times that I am loved by God.

Developing this awareness is a first step. I’ve made sure to fill my time with other pursuits. Reading more books, calling or texting people. There are still days where I’ll realize most of my day had been spent scrolling through my various social media feeds.

I have been sold the idea that for me to matter I must have a voice on the internet. But that’s a lie. Because I am more than my social media imprint. It’s good to have a voice, good to engage with the world.

And it’s also good to understand the reality of social media. I am a commodity on those platforms.

But greater than that I am loved and cared for by God.

Six Healthy Life Lessons

Six years ago I off the proverbial couch and began my health journey. I’ve learned and am actually still learning so much! In honor of being a healthier person I’m writing of my top six lessons.

1- Don’t expect that losing weight will fix everything in your life.

This was a hard one for me to understand. I believed that lie of “if only”. You know the one, where we say if only_______ will solve our issues. I believed losing weight would mean an end to my singleness & lead to a more exciting life. What I didn’t understand is that getting healthy was more about taking care of my body & not a reward for doing so.

2- Everyone Has An Opinion

Seriously, everyone has one and won’t hesitate to tell you. When I began my journey, people were quick to tell me what I was doing wrong or they could never do it etc. Some of this is good advice, some of it blarney. Take all of it with a grain of salt. What worked for their third cousin won’t necessarily work for you.

3- Have Grace For Yourself

When starting something new there is excitement and we go all gung ho! My whole world became exercising twice a day six to seven days a week. For over a year I went hard with my workout routine. I believed another lie that this was the ONLY way to be. Guess what? It wasn’t sustainable and after a while I fell into a slump of not exercising. Which lead to beating myself up. I’ve learned to accept the ebbs and flows of life. I had to learn that work outs did not need to be my whole life.

4- Don’t Allow Permissiveness

On the other side of spectrum, allowing new habits to fall by the wayside can happen if allowed. I’ve been there, going from working out and then dropping off from doing anything. Something I didn’t believe would ever happen. But it did. Getting back into a workout routine was hard. I try not to allow myself to fall out of the habit by being more flexible. I work at planning the week ahead and looking at my commitments. Some weeks are more successful than others.

5- It’s Not The Food, It’s The Attitude

Often food can be demonized. One of the biggest lies out there is that there is bad food. When in reality, it’s the attitude and consumption of it. I can tend to seek out food for comfort. In fact I’m a recovering binge eater. My attitude towards keeps evolving in a good direction. I’ve come to a point with food where I’m much happier. At times I say no to the office cake and at others times no. Having a healthy attitude towards food means enjoying food but not allowing it to control me.

6- Love Your Body

Today I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom as I headed out to the pool. And I smiled at myself because not only did I feel good but I liked the image reflected back at me. It’s taken me a long time to get to this place. I love my body not because it’s at the “perfect ” weight, or shape. I love my body because I better understand who I am. Mind, body and spirit have learned to embrace imperfections. To love my body for what it is and for what it can do. Getting to this place has been hard. It has meant that I’ve had to let go of lifelong lessons imposed upon me throughout my life. I’ve learned to cease comparing myself to other women. By doing so this has allowed for such freedom. My body has carried me through 38 years and Lord Willing will continue for many more. Learning to love my body is one of healthiest lessons I’ve learned.

Behind The Why of Fitness

This time of year is a boon for the fitness industry. People decide to take care of their health and in droves join gyms, subscribe to a new eating plan and at some point in the month all enthusiasm is lost.

If you feel stuck or discouraged right now, take a moment to reassess. Find out your Why behind wanting to do it. Understanding the reason behind wanting to be healthy will help you succeed. Write it down, tell a friend. Doing so will help to stay on track.

It’s something I didn’t think through when I began my health journey six years ago. Though I had lost weight and achieved many goals physically I was still searching for my Why. As the years go on it keeps evolving. At the heart of it I want to avoid the health issues that my family tends to have.

But there are other things playing out. I believed that being thin would equal happiness. But instead it lead to an obsession with the amount of calories consumed or freaking out about getting workouts done.

I wasn’t able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I had believed the lie that being thin would mean acceptance. My Why had been skewed.

What I had missed was that God made it possible for me to be healthy not for my own glory but His. I still miss it. Losing weight was needed, dealing with the compliments and attention was hard to get past. Because then it becomes all about the outside. The pressure I placed on myself then became I need to maintain this weight for acceptance. To not disappoint others.

I had to admit that a lot of my motivation was external. In hopes of being the right kind of person that would be loved. I longed for the compliments about losing weight. When I didn’t hear them as much it meant I had failed somehow.

In this journey I had to confront these motivations. As I did so, the pressure to be perfect began to fall away. My Why today is different from my Why if yesterday. Today I try to workout consistently and eat well not to gain admiration but to care for myself. Plus it’s a habit that keeps me balanced, physically, mentally and spiritually.

The Why is just as important as how one goes about being healthy.

Wholly Reintroduction

In my previous post I wrote about my Whole 30 journey. After thirty days of pulling back from dairy, legumes, sugar and grains it’s time to reintroduce it all. I learned from my friends to not go out and stuff my face with ALL THE FOOD!

My stomach would not respond well to that to say the least.

So I began the process of introducing each of the foods one by one. The better to see how each of them affect me. I began with legumes, the next week were gluten free grains, dairy and finally grains.

I reintroduced dairy and grains in the same week. I had gotten away from as much meal prep and my job got busier. What I noticed most is that I feel heavier when I become full. These foods especially grains tend to sit in my stomach. Making me feel uncomfortable. There was one morning where I bought a breakfast sandwich. It felt like a brick sitting in my stomach.

Doing Whole 30 taught me a lot about food and my eating habits. The reintroduction showed me that how sugar sneaks into my diet. Whole 30 gives me a base to return to again and again.

As the demands of my job and life have increased I have fallen off the wagon so to speak. Once my life settles down a bit I plan on another reset. I now have the tools to better what triggers me ( HELLO STRESS!) and choosing the easy options.

I have struggled with my relationship with food most of my life. Whole 30 isn’t a cure all but it has given me the tools to use in the future.

Yet Another Whole 30 Post

I first heard about Whole 30 from friends who were doing it. And I thought it was nuts! Why in the world would anyone WANT to do this thing? Removing all grains, legumes, dairy and sugar from your daily diet. How much work is that?!

You know what? It is nuts. I admit that. It is alot of work to put into food. Where usually there is minimal thought put into what goes into my mouth. The time I learned about this program I was not in a place to participate.

Fast forward a year later and I find myself joining a group of friends in a FB group. The intention was to encourage each other through the group and meet weekly for a pot luck. Well, we managaged one pot luck at the start of September. Then Hurricane Irma blew through my hometown and my Whole30 Journey.

Promising myself that I would finish what I started, I began again ( somewhat on my own) in late October. I finished my 30 days just before Thanksgiving. It was a great experience, I learned a lot about cooking ( that my skills in this area have come a long way) and I enjoyed eating it. This was crucial to being successfull. Food is meant to be enjoyable.

Thanks to my friends who are veterns at Whole 30 I got some great advice that helped me along the way.

1- Figure out the Why behind doing it. Everyone has a different reason for trying it out. My why was to see if I could do it but also to better understand my relationship with food. This is an area that I have had trouble getting a handle on.

2-Figure a time that works for your life. This is 30 days of a lot of cooking, planning what you will cook, how you will eat. Seriously, if you wake up each day not knowing what Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be then you will fail for sure. Double up on recipes, you can portion it out, freeze some for later etc.

3- Prepare to stock up your pantry ( I suggest start getting things a few weeks out so you don’t end up having to spend a lot all at once). Some of the items can be pricey but worth it, especially the Light Tasting Virgin Oil, Coconut Aminos, Dates. I did not buy all the oils because I could not afford it. For instance for some recipes I substituted apple cider vinegar for rice vinegar. Ghee I used a few times and hardly used the coconut oil.

4- Prepare your loved ones. They will need to understand there will be some limitations to what you eat ( especially for family gatherings). But also let people you live with know whats up. You will need space in the fridge and pantry for your food. You do not however need to tell everyone. Face it when the work place donut, cake, pizza comes around all I had to do was say No Thank You. Or as my boss persisted in offering me food I found saying I had eaten sufficed.

5- Get a support system. The FB group fell apart after the craziness of the storm but I still had a few friends I checked in with through out my journey. For other questions I googled Whole 30 forums. As always accountability helps to achieve goals. Having to report where I was at made me want to succeed even more.

6- Read Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig. This helped prepare myself mentally.

7- Have grace for yourself. You will forget to read all the ingrediants, realize that meal planning was only enough to get to halfway through the week. OR life will happen and you aren’t able to continue.

I am by no means an expert on Whole 30, and I am sure there are those out there who would say I did this or that wrong ( which I am sure I did). But I did my best, I enjoyed cooking and trying new things out. I am now in the reintroduction phase ( more on this later). But I now feel as if I have a foundation to return to when I find myself getting off the rails. That to me is the most important thing.