A Year in Review: Not A Dumpster Fire

IMG_3859.JPG

Before I write this, I have to admit that I just ate four Jeju tangerines rapid fire and I don’t even care because them mo’fuckers are delicious. I bought a whole bag of them and if there are still any left by this time tomorrow, I will consider it a personal victory. Even the Korean lady who owns the mart saw me staring at them and was like “THOSE ARE SO DELICIOUS!” And, because my Korean is still bullshit, all I could do was fake drool, say “yes,” and put my hand over my stomach like some weirdo who was about to go into a tangerine-induced coma.

Anyway, as it is almost the end of 2016, I figured I would start the process of reviewing what I have accomplished and looking forward to what I wish to accomplish in 2017. For many people I know, 2016 has been a year of absolute bullshit. I mean, if you look at the state of the world, the tension, the loss of some very talented human beings, and the black hole of abyss we seem to be hurtling into faster and faster every day, I can see how 2016 would be a year that people wish to erase from their memories.

But, honestly, this year has been one of the biggest years of my life growth-wise. I have learned so much about myself and other people, as well as started to really figure out the trajectory of the rest of my life. Yes, there were days where I wanted to dig a hole and leave myself there until spring, but the fact that I didn’t, and the fact that I continue to learn from my various mistakes, just shows me how far I’ve come in my life.

The growth has not been without its hurdles. In fact, the last few months of this year have felt like one challenging clusterfuck that would never end, and honestly, looking back on it, I’m not sure what triggered it. I’ve felt a lot like this lately

IMG_3890.JPG

Like, my ability to care about things is temporarily stunned. I’ve had a solid few weeks where my concern for other people has been at an all-time low, and for the first time, I didn’t feel guilty about it. I didn’t want to give people any part of myself. I didn’t want to affirm, justify, or make people feel better and I know how shitty that sounds, but I understood after a few days of harrowing emptiness that I was, in fact, just that– I was empty. I hadn’t cared for myself in a few days and I was drowning. Self-care is so important, but sometimes, I think it is easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the world we live in, especially around the holiday season. But, there it is. I just didn’t give a fuck. I was irritated with people I cared the most about, and honestly, felt a lot like this

img_3885

 

Mostly because I wanted corn chips, but also because I just felt this anger that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I wasn’t caring for myself. I was trying to be everything to everyone else while not being anything for myself, and if you’ve never experienced that kind of drained, emotional fatigue, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Well, maybe I would for a corn chip. I kid. Kind of. The important thing that I learned here is I cannot, under any circumstances, forego self-care and I need to come up with a good regimen that I can stick to, that makes me feel good, and aids me in achieving my goals.

This year, I’ve lost around 20 pounds, give or take, depending on the day. I started running again. I started cooking more, and experimenting with different kinds of foods. I started hiking mountains, really fucking hard mountains, including one at 4:30am to watch the sun come up. I started playing soccer with a bunch of girls and fell in love with it. I wore a two piece bathing suit on a crowded beach, full of other expats. I ran my first 5k race in three years and finished under the time I wanted to finish under. I moved in with the love of my life. I joined a gym again. I hosted my first, real adult Thanksgiving dinner and cooked my own turkey. I helped stage a production of the Vagina Monologues in Daegu, a city where it has not been performed in many years.  I took countless trips throughout Korea, watched the sea part in Jindo, and looked at the Green Tea fields of Boseong. I saw a mural village in Seoul. I went to beer festivals. I helped a garden grow on the roof of a building. I watched paper lanterns release into the sky over Duryu park and went to a chicken & beer festival. I went camping multiple times. I smoked hookah, I drank good beer, I pretty much quit smoking (eh, not completely) and I haven’t bought a pack since July.  I dressed up, stayed sober, got drunk, had hangovers. I went home. I said goodbye to some important people. I said goodbye to Kentucky.

2016 wasn’t perfect, but it fucking showed me just how good my life is, and how good it can be. I am on the way to becoming the person that I want to be, even if, as I’ve said before, it feels like my progress is small and negligent. I want to lose more weight. I want to leave Korea. I want to backpack through Southeast Asia with Rob. I want to get my CELTA. I want to run a half marathon again. I know all of these things are possible and they’re not only possible, they are things that I CRAVE. They are successes and victories that I desire more than anything.

I’ve been standing in the way of myself, I’ve been prone to self-sabotage, and I’ve succeeded at times. These are not battles that will go away overnight, or maybe ever. But, as a few people I’ve been consulting with have said, I just need to “Show up.” I need to show up, do the work, and fucking get it done. I ran tonight for the first time in over a week because I’ve been sick, and my god, that run sucked. It was hard, my lungs were angry, and my legs felt tight. But, I won’t suck tomorrow. How I do today does not determine every other workout. My emotions today do not determine what I can achieve tomorrow.

If you’re reading this, know I probably love you. I probably love you more than you can ever begin to understand. I will keep loving you. Thank you for loving me and for being there for me this year.

2017 is our year.

IMG_3895.JPG

 

P.S. I just ate another tangerine.

The Winter Rut is Real, Y’all

img_3781

As most of you know, especially if you live in South Korea, the winter has officially set in, and to be quite blunt, I fucking hate it. My nose is already preparing for the annual run of the blood out of my nasal cavities because it’s so fucking dry, my skin is already sloughing off of my shins, and I really loathe putting on a coat and scarf just to step outside for a few minutes. I know some of you will argue your position– you’ll make some fucking bullshit claim about how winter is so wonderful because of the holidays and snow and fires in fireplaces and eggnog and Christmas trees and sweaters AND I AM NOT LISTENING TO YOU. I mean, there are good things about the holidays, such as making Thanksgiving dinners and drinking 15 bottles of wine with your friends…

img_3711

But, there is absolutely nothing better than an afternoon on the beach in a bathing suit drinking a cold beer in the middle of the summer. There is nothing better than wearing tank tops, sandals, and maxi dresses. There is nothing better than the sun setting after 8:30pm, and if you say differently, you’re a monster. I’m sorry you had to find out this way. But yes, you’re a monster.

Anyway, there is another major reason I hate winter, and the sun setting at good ol’ 5:11pm (which is 19 minutes before I even teach my first class, by the way), and that is the winter slump. It is real, it is damaging, and even at 29, I am still trying to figure out how to navigate my way through the winter months without going absolutely batshit insane. I am one of those lucky people who suffers from S.A.D., and man, those people who named it really thought they were fuckin’ hilarious, eh? So, the winter months really wreak havoc on my sleeping, my general mood, and my overall motivation. I started noticing it a couple of  weeks ago– the downturn in my moods, the need to sleep for more than 8 hours at night, and the compulsion to eat everything in my line of view. I made some attempts to move forward in my life, like going to Suseong Lake and walking around, which actually helped quite a bit.

img_3728

Suseong Lake is an absolutely gorgeous part of Daegu and being in the sunshine, the slightly warmer than frigid temperatures, and getting my heart rate up was something I desperately needed to keep myself sane. The problem, though, is that this motivation has been dwindling as December has started. I went to the gym last week and ran a 5k on Monday, and outside of that, I did little to no physical activity during the week. I mean, I walked around downtown, but that was it. I didn’t play soccer because it was canceled, I didn’t go back to the gym for weight lifting or more running, and I certainly didn’t stick to my goal to wake up before 11am every day.

This weekend, I planned on having a sober weekend, but one beer turned into two turned into 6am downtown, and while I don’t necessarily regret it, it is an indication that I am slipping in my dedication to myself and to the higher goals that I have for my body. I woek up on Sunday with my hangover, and while I got out and about and saw some friends, I managed to drink three more beers that evening. I am trying not to punish myself– I didn’t get shitshow drunk, but I definitely had more than I intended when I woke up on Sunday.

Monday was probably the final straw for me, I think. I stirred when Rob’s alarm clock went off at 11am, but I felt like I couldn’t force myself to wake up. Then next time I looked at my clock, it was 2:30. I managed to get myself out of bed, shower, and get to the area where my job is located. I bought a crappy Paris Baguette sandwich and a coffee, went to work, felt miserable, came home, ate some more bullshit, felt even more miserable, and tried to force myself to make a plan for today. Well, I woke up late again today. I almost chalked it up as a failure, but instead of allowing myself to be down, I went to check out a gym that my friend Caitlin recommended that was, apparently, right outside of my job. Y’all, this was the best decision I have made in recent memory.

I went in, and I was immediately sure I wanted to join the gym. Everyone was super friendly, even though there was an obvious language barrier. So, I paid for one month, which included the use of the gym and the classes, which includes yoga, spinning, and other classes that will be beneficial for cross-training while I’m running. They have a sauna, a shower, free weights, treadmills ALL OF IT. I went back tonight after work to try out the spinning class AND IT WAS SO AWESOME.

img_3777

It was definitely difficult. The whole class was conducted standing– there were no songs where we were sitting, climbing hills, or any of the other aspects of spin class I was familiar with coming into this class. It was like a combination of k-pop dancing, infused with strobe lights, shouting “aye!” at different points throughout the class, and a very enthusiastic instructor who introduced me to the whole class. They clapped for me. The whole environment was so welcoming and I am so proud of myself for doing something that seemed kind of intimidating at first, because doing anything in this country can be intimidating, and the payoff was huge. The gym is across the street from work, so I can take my gym bag and go before work, after work, anytime. I AM SO PLEASED WITH MY DECISION.

img_3779

My ability to pick myself back up after a week or so unmotivated has also forced me to reflect on this person that I am now. There were so many times that I started trying to get in shape before and quit when things got hard, or when I feel off of the fitness or food wagon. For some reason, this seems more permanent. It’s like I finally understand that I need physical exercise to keep my brain happy. My food intake is still questionable, but I know all things come together in time. I am not perfect, I can’t expect myself to be perfect. I have to be gentle and understanding, even when I am ready to rage against myself. As stated in my previous blog, my self-hate has no place in becoming a healthy person.

I have changed. My body has changed. My mind has changed. I will continue to change. I just need to keep reminding myself how far I’ve come, instead of looking forward and being overwhelmed by how far I still have to go. I just have to look at the below picture to see the difference.

wow

Keep moving forward, y’all. It’s all we can do.

 

Health Cannot Be Rooted in Self-Hate

It is not a secret that I am not kind to myself. This is an aspect of my personality that I have been working on throughout the past year. Some days, I am better at it. Other days, I find myself in the center of a hate spiral that has been building for days. One of the things I’ve learned about self-improvement is that it does not occur overnight. You don’t have an epiphany and then everything changes and you never doubt yourself again. I wish that was how it works, but it’s not. It takes time, it takes kindness, and it definitely does not benefit from self-hate.

I have let self-hate drive a large part of my life for a very long time. I have allowed it to convince me that I am not worthy of many things. I have allowed it to convince me that the love of my life, who loves me very much, will eventually run away when he figures out I’m actually not that smart. I have allowed self-hate to permeate every single part of my life and sometimes, it’s shocking when I find it hidden somewhere in my life I thought was safe from my own negative, and often vile, self-talk. Exercising and health are apparently not safe from this self-hate and I witnessed it in myself last week.

There is a woman in Daegu that I have grown to dislike simply because she’s beautiful, thin, and well-liked. This goes against everything in my feminist repertoire. But, it is important that I understand and address what it is so I can move beyond it. But, this woman has been present when I’ve been disgusted with myself– disgusted with how fat I am or how gross I feel. It’s comparable to being back in 9th grade and thinking all of my problems would be solved if I was just thin and pretty like other girls. I compare myself to this person constantly and it’s not healthy. She’s done nothing to me. She’s a perfectly lovely person. But, I have allowed myself to make her the villain and that’s just not fair to her or to me.

I truly grasped the gravity of this situation when, last week, I was running intervals on the treadmill in a gym. I was struggling through one of the last intervals of my workout (which was 40 minutes long, by the way) and instead of giving myself a good inner pep talk about how I can do this, I automatically chastised myself and thought “Well, she could do this. If you did this more, you would look like her.” I finished the interval, but I hated myself. That is not the point of exercise and it is definitely not the kind of health I’m looking for– I don’t want my health to be rooted in hating someone else, or hating myself. That’s not health. That’s punishing myself for not looking like someone else. It’s just another way to tear myself down.

I want to run because it makes me feel good when I’ve done something difficult. I want to run because with every step I take, my heart and legs and body are getting stronger. I don’t want to run to look like someone else or to accomplish what it is to be normally beautiful. I don’t want to push myself through a hard run so I’ll be thin like her or her or her. I want to push myself through a hard run because I want to accomplish things that are hard. I can do hard things.

If my health is rooted in self-hate, then it is not healthy. It is not for me. I want my health to be rooted in a desire to maintain the best lifestyle possible, to keep my brain happy, to keep my lungs open. Using someone else to fill the void of self-hate will not work for me, and I am adding it to the list of things that will no longer stand in my life. I want to be all versions of healthy, not just the outward version. I don’t want to dislike people simply because they’re thin and beautiful as much as I don’t want people to assume I’m a sloth because I’m overweight. My health cannot take shape at the expense of hating myself, or someone else. It won’t sustain itself.

I had a great week this week after the treadmill incident, after I saw what could happen to me if I allowed that kind of mindset to build and grown into a monster. I was gentler with myself. I danced in my kitchen to The Fitness Marshall’s sweat set. I won trivia with my team. I played the best game of soccer I’ve ever played– proof I am improving mentally and physically. I’ve enjoyed the autumn sunshine walking to work. I ran 5k on Saturday. On Sunday, I got up early, hangover free, and hiked a mountain.

IMG_3640.JPG

I’ve been, for the most part, feeding my body with good foods. I’ve been seeking creative outlets. I’ve been keeping up with my bullet journal and it has helped so much. I’ve been planning with Rob for the future. Rob and I cleaned the hell out of our apartment. I didn’t drink all week. I’ve been trying to look forward at things I can change and control instead of obsessing over the past– over things I ate, runs I didn’t do, or anything else I can find to dismantle my progress. I have control over the future. I can change and grow and bloom and break free of the bullshit chains I’ve placed on myself. I am not weak. I am not a person who hates others because of their appearance. I refuse to be that person. I refuse to be molded and hardened by a society that wants to tear people down because of how they don’t feel or look or think. I won’t.

IMG_3643.JPG

If yesterday showed me one thing, one great thing, it is that I am fucking capable of anything, even if it feels like the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m on fire. The only person who can stop me is me and I will not be stopped.

Have a great week, y’all.

The Blur of October: Starting Over

img_3419Hey, y’all. It’s been a hot second and a half, but I figured it’s about time to write an update about how my life is going, well or otherwise. It hasn’t been going well, but being honest has always been one of my main tenants for keeping a weight loss blog, or an emotional blog. Since September, my life has been kind of a clusteruck whirlwind, and while I am tempted to be angry with myself for how far I’ve allowed myself to backslide, self-love is probably the most important in times of disappointment.

In the middle of September, I took a two week trip to Kentucky to see my family and to experience Kentucky as it turned to fall. Unfortunately for me, it stayed fuckall hot while I was there, but being in Kentucky was simply amazing. I ate all of the food, drank all of the craft beer, and thoroughly enjoyed my time with my friends. I managed to keep away from cigarettes, I ran a couple of times, but at the end of the trip, I rolled my ankle at a restaurant and put myself out of running commission for well over a week. It was then I sort of knew that I was probably out of the running for the Ulsan Half Marathon, which was my ultimate goal.

By the way, that race was yesterday and I didn’t run it.

After I got back, I had a much harder time of adjusting to Korea again than I had before. I didn’t sleep well; when I slept, it was either from 2:00am-3:30am or from 11am-3:30pm. I was living on sleeping pills, I was extremely depressed, and I started feeling like I was going crazy. October was a hard month for me, but in addition, October is also a party month here. Every single weekend, there was some sort of shenanigan happening– birthdays, award ceremonies, weddings. You name it, October had it. Before I get into the logistics of October, and my feelings throughout the month, I want to preface this with a statement: October was fun. I spent time with the greatest friends in the world and a lot of good, lovely things were part of my life in October.

img_3598

But, instead of counteracting my depression with exercise and eating well, I allowed myself to totally abandon my goals and slip into a place that has proven very hard to escape. Instead of exercising, eating well, and confronting my issues, I turned back to one of my old habits, which was drinking my issues away. I ran less than 5 times in the month of October. I ate bullshit. I drank Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays.I had gone 90 days without a cigarette and in a moment of self-destruction, I caved and had one. I spent a lot of October hating myself, and, as a consequence, my depression, and the side effects, got worse.

img_3454

I couldn’t focus. I shied away from my closest people. I tried to keep my problems in my head instead of allowing my friends around me in, to comfort me. I couldn’t find justification for how I felt. Wasn’t I happy? Didn’t I have everything? But, depression doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t show up when things are going poorly and disappear when things are going my way.

I spent October feeling like a fat failure but without any sort of gumption to change or fix the way I was acting or living. I had reached a point of not giving a flying fuck about myself again. A lot of my unhappiness was in the notion that I wasn’t running my half, I had a cigarette, I drank too much, and I punished myself. I punished myself by mentally letting go and fully engaging in the hate cycle and when I had enough, I was so determined to get through it on my own that I didn’t trust my closest people to help me through it. I live in a vicious world of high standards and a low threshold of self forgiveness.

After many conversations with my best friends, and after many evenings spent listless, I am starting to drag myself, albeit kicking and screaming, out of this dark place. I started keeping track of my bullet journal again. I’ve started making food in my house again. I’ve started sleeping at regular intervals again, communicating again, and tonight, I ran again. It was hard.

It was so tempting afterward,  after 2.2 miles felt terrible and like death, and I had run almost 7 miles before America, to tear into myself, to tear myself down with venom and rage because I was not what I was 2 months ago. But, I didn’t. One of my main focus points in the next few weeks, is to gently and calmly start reconstructing my schedule. Slowly, but surely, putting the pieces back into place where I know I will be the most successful. I am not a punching bag for myself; I would not tolerate the kind of toxic behavior I force myself to endure, from myself, from someone else.

It’s time to rebuild, even if it is grueling and hard. It’s time to take care of myself, even when the desire to collapse is at its strongest. It’s also time to love myself with a kind of ferocity I’ve never had before and realize now, more than ever, that my weight does not define who I am. A bad run does not make me a failure. Eating a carbohydrate does not mean that I am weak. I am not a perfect person, I am insanely flawed, and for fuck’s sake, that’s okay.

October, you were rough on me. You were fun, drunk, and an absolute blur. But, it’s time to take up the reigns of self-care and get back to it.

img_3420

November, show me what you got.

 

 

Fuck The Scale

I have had a very trying couple of weeks. It has been one of the more difficult stretches of time I’ve had in Korea in the two years that I’ve been here and that’s because, simply put, I can’t seem to shake feeling down and defeated. I feel, though, that it is necessary to discuss one of my lower weeks as I am a big proponent of honesty and being open about not only my successes, but my failures, too. But, it’s hard though. It’s hard to be forthcoming about shitty eating habits and fights with my partner and a lack of exercise. All of these things seemed to permeate my life in the past few days. But, after an excellent night at soccer on Monday and a so-so run last night, I am feeling a bit better, even I if I still feel de-motivated.

So, in my eyes, I have been a failure recently. I have failed in many ways, but the biggest way I’ve failed has been in what I have been eating and the lack of cooking in my home. I’ve been turning to convenient and expensive options to feed myself, knowing that it won’t make me feel good and won’t fuel me in the best way possible. I don’t cook for myself because I’ve been lazy. I haven’t been seeing the bigger picture, and in a way, I think I’m trying to sabotage myself  because I’m really good at fucking up my own progress. I’ve been putting off running because I am scared I won’t be able to run as long as I need to be successful. I’ve been sleeping until 1 or 2 every day because I would much rather sleep than face the day sometimes. But, after what I deem to be an excellent weekend, and many necessary, fulfilling conversations, I finally feel like I’m moving back in the right direction.

This weekend, I spent a lot of time surrounded by excellent people and talking with them about the numerous problems bouncing around in my brain. I had an awesome dinner with two lovely women on Saturday night and wandered around with them downtown, beers in hand, just enjoy the nighttime and this random store we found ourselves in. It was a sunglasses shop, but it was full of random shit.

img_3208

For example, this room of just blue leaves. Either way, it was fantastic.

The next day, I went to the city of Busan with Elvie and we had such a great time faffing around in different parts of the city. We went to the biggest mall in Busan, Shinsegae, and found a PF Changs, which was just amazing, honestly. Shinsegae is humongous and it was fun exploring and looking at all of the different and far too expensive shops housed inside the massive structure. They’re currently building one in Daegu, which is set to be the biggest mall in Korea! Yikes!

img_3206

We also ate all of the food. I’m pretty sure we went on a food tour. I ate homemade sausages, sushi, a bacon ranch cheeseburger, drank a nutella marshmellow milkshake, and had dinner looking over the Gwangali beach, which is one of the most beautiful places in Korea, in my opinion.

img_3203

I tried my hardest not to feel guilty about all the food I was eating as I was also walking an extensive amount. But, the reality of my lack of exercise throughout the previous week (except walking) and the added knowledge of two days of heavy drinking, made me feel huge and bloated. In reality, I know I didn’t gain any weight, and I enjoyed all the food I ate, but there is a certain relief that comes when you can recognize the difference in food choices and how they affect you both physically and mentally. I enjoyed my day of eating all of the food, yes, but it is a reminder that I cannot eat that way every day again. It all comes back to the idea of balance– balance between food tours and being responsible and respectful with what I put inside my stomach. There is a bigger picture here, so while I’m eating for daily benefits, I am also eating for future benefits. I’m thankful for the reminders that my food choices are important, even if in the moment, it seems like they aren’t.

I had a victory on Monday, though. I’ve been playing soccer with a bunch of ladies in Daegu since March and every week, it seems like it’s gotten progressively easier for me to play, run, and keep up with the other players who are, by far, more in shape than I am. When I started playing, it was so easy to get winded because I wasn’t used to running, and I was miserable, so I would count down the minutes until I could leave and go home. But on Monday, I was running up and down the field and it was over before I knew it.

img_3207

I was feeling so good about myself and my progress. I felt like I was finally growing into my body love and appreciation. But, the next day, my partner disclosed his weight to me and I weigh a substantial amount more than he does, which sent me into a very real hate spiral. I was so upset.

I think, as women, we are taught that we should be thin and delicate and smaller than our partners. We should be able to be picked up and swung around and carried on his back and any number of bullshit ideas that contribute to our negative feelings about ourselves. I’ve found out that a number of my girlfriends weigh more, or have weighed more than their partners. Some of them say it doesn’t bother them and others professed that it did, indeed, mess with their heads, even if it was just a little bit. I spent the whole day obsessing over the idea that my partner weighed so much less than me. I used to to shit all over my self-worth. I used it to beat myself up, say negative things about myself, convince myself I didn’t deserve him because I weighed more than him. It was ridiculous the lengths I took this number on a scale and what kind of ideas rest on the concept of weight. I started getting angry about it, and I went out last night and ran a 5k. I ran and I sweat and I pushed and I achieved, and motherfucker, I am SO MUCH MORE than a FUCKING NUMBER. I am SO MUCH MORE than 108.5kgs. I am so much more than 239 pounds.

So, I put together a collage of my body from April, then July, and last month.

img_3213

My body has changed and my body will continue to change, but my success in this life, and in the endeavor to be healthy does not rely solely on the amount of weight I have lost. Yes, it’s nice to see a physical number reflected on a scale, but it does not define me and the capabilities of my body. The inches I’ve lost is a nice reminder of the work I’ve put in, but what I can do now without feeling winded, without wanting to quit– those things matter so much more to me than numbers or some sort of other bullshit that seeks to qualify who I am as a person or what I’m worth.

Fuck the scale. Fuck numbers. Those things aren’t me. Those things aren’t my heart, my determination, my drive, my intelligence. Those numbers don’t represent my close friendships, my relationship with my very loving partner, and my future successes. FUCK THE SCALE.

Don’t ever let a fucking number tell you who you are.

img_3196

 

Depression: The True De-Motivator

IMG_3148

I am a diagnosed clinical depressive. I am not shy about this. I was diagnosed when I was in college by the therapist I was seeing through my university, who after a questionnaire, immediately referred me to the psychiatrist on campus for further evaluation. Depression is something I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager, and although I originally dismissed it as overwhelming teenage angst, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized just how detrimental depression has been in my life and in my relationships, not only with other people, but especially with myself. My depression often hits me after huge highs or events. For example, every year, after my birthday, I am depressed. When depression hits, it is hard for me to find motivation and it’s even harder for me to believe in myself. This week was one of those weeks.

It’s so easy to feel like a failure when you’re on a mission to be come healthier. There is this stigma that if you make a mistake or if you miss a workout, you have failed yourself or the people who will inevitably ask how your weight loss journey is going or how your training is shaping up. These people mean well, I’m sure, but there is a creeping guilt when you look someone in the face and express to them that you’ve had a rough, off week; there is the same guilt if you’re just trying to enjoy a beer and someone scrutinizes your fucking choices.

Often times, if you’re following people on Facebook or Instagram or whatever who are on the same journey as you, you only see their perfection; you are privy to their healthy meals, their intense workouts, and their feelings of euphoria as they continuously shed pounds. What we don’t often see, and this can be extended to many aspects of life viewed through social media, is the fucking struggle. You don’t see the tears as someone is defeated and has to stop half-way through a hard workout. You don’t see the “bad decisions” people made throughout the week when they chose a food that wasn’t necessarily the best choice. You don’t see the look on someone’s face as they step on the scale, after a week of hard work, only to be let down by a static number. But, there is a struggle, at least for me and that struggle is often exacerbated by depression.

On Tuesday of this week, I had a particularly frustrating run.I pushed this run from Monday to Tuesday because I just did not want to leave my house after work. But, Tuesday afternoon, I put my shit on and got outside. I felt slow, my energy was low, I had to stop to walk multiple times, and I didn’t run nearly as far as I wanted to, or planned. I got home afterward and just couldn’t figure out why it was so hard or felt so terrible. I’m sure the humidity played a part, but I just couldn’t find the fire in me that I had a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t want go to soccer, but I went anyway. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I normally do. From Tuesday on, I slid down and down and down.

My eating habits were shit. I ate at restaurants for lunch every single day this week. I barely drank my protein shakes. I didn’t exercise on Wednesday or Thursday. I worked more this week than normal. I spent too much money. I slept more than 9 hours almost every night. I picked fights with Rob to satisfy some need to understand and justify why I felt so fucking sad. Eventually, I just accepted that I was depressed. I felt my feelings. I walked through them. I examined them. I let them be.

Then, Friday happened. Friday was one of the best things that could have happened for me. I needed to get a long run in. My goal was 4.5 miles and since I ran 5 miles a couple of weeks ago, I figured it wouldn’t be as hard as I thought it would be. It was hard finding the motivation to do it because I was still struggling with feelings of sadness and inadequacy. But, I put my running clothes on and fucking did it. I upped my intervals from 10/1 to 15/1, so I was running 15 minutes and walking 1 minute. My goal was to do that three times and I would be around 4.5 miles. But, at the end of my third and final set, a runner’s high I haven’t felt in a long time kicked in. I hit my fucking stride. I felt good. I felt strong. So, I did another 15 minutes and at the end of that 15, I kept running for another 6. I ran 6.3 miles or 10.1km in 1:08. I felt like I was on top of the world. I stood outside of my apartment and cried because I was so fucking proud of myself, which is a fleeting feeling– I rarely feel proud of anything I do. But, I felt proud on Friday night. I pushed myself. I found my strength and kept fucking going, even when I didn’t want to keep going and I succeeded.

IMG_3177

So, this week has been a week of learning and feelings for me.

This week, two of my good friends left Korea. This is the shittiest part of expatriate life; the friends you make, while they are lifelong friendships, will eventually move on to the next place, whether that be another city, another country, or back home. It’s been rough, but it’s important to remember that I, too, will be leaving this country soon to start my next adventures. I guess I just wasn’t prepared for how much it was going to hurt to say goodbye.

I learned that your sweat can actually smell like ammonia! Basically, from what I understand, if your body does not have enough carbohydrates to keep up with the energy demands, your body will turn to other energy sources, including protein. Your organs can’t handle the excess ammonia, so it pushes it out via sweat glands. SCIENCE!

I also learned that it’s really cool to have a friend who is an Occupational Therapist who can teach you how to tape your foot to relieve plantar fasciitis pain. It’s actually just really cool to have friends from all walks of life who can offer support and advice on numerous, troubling topics. I am very thankful.

IMG_3163

But, here’s the most important thing I’ve learned this week: even if my progress is slow, it is still progress. I am still moving forward, even if there are are setbacks, even if I am depressed, even if I eat cake (which I am doing as I write this). The picture on the right was taken on Christmas Eve, 2015. The picture on the left was taken a little over 8 months later on Friday, August 26. Since December, I have made HUGE strides, not only in my physical fitness but in my emotional well-being as well. It is important to remember that. Most days, my progress feels so small and subtle. But, it is STILL there. My goals sometimes feel far away, but I have lost 27.5 pounds, or 12.5kgs. In December, I couldn’t run for 5 minutes and I ran 6 miles on Friday night. Progress cannot be judged only by side-by-side portraits. I feel better. I AM better. I make better choices. I can do this. My only real enemy is me.

So, for the rest of the night, I am going to watch Sherlock with my partner, who is amazing, and finish eating this piece of carrot cake. Because I can.

IMG_3175.JPG

Tomorrow, it’s back on the grind. Run. Eat well. Be kind. Some days, I don’t feel like the same person anymore and that’s okay. It’s okay to change and to grow and to slough off the layers of bullshit that have accumulated on our skin for years. I have no desire to return who who I used to be and I think, after many years, I have finally found the right exfoliant.

Keep sloughin’, y’all.

 

The Art of Doing Shit I Don’t Want to Do & The Glory of 5 Miles

IMG_3102

Good afternoon, friends. I hope everyone is having a good week thus far. This has been my summer vacation so I’ve been relaxing, having fun, and enjoying not going to work for a few days. I went to Namhae Island in the south of the peninsula, went hiking, my best friend came down from Seoul and I managed to run my first five miles in years in the middle of it. It has been an exciting few days  It all ends tomorrow, though, so I thought I would type out a blog entry about the beach party, the hike, and a pretty interesting breakthrough I’ve had concerning my habits.

I don’t want to mince words here: I fucking hate exercising. I hate feeling out of breath. I hate struggling. I hate how long it takes to burn off one fucking piece of bread. I hate how easy it is to gain weight and how tiresome and frustrating it can be to lose weight. I hate the long process of motivating myself to run. If I am running at night, the pep talk usually starts as soon as I wake up. I hate exercising. But, I’ve been doing it anyway.

One of the ways of exercising I find most difficult is hiking. It’s a constant battle for continuous endurance. It’s a true test of how long you can keep going without completely collapsing into a pool of your own exhausted tears. But, I keep doing it. I keep agreeing to go on these insane hikes with my friends, and while I bitch CONSTANTLY throughout the hike (and I do mean constantly– I am not a good hiking partner), by the end of it, I feel so fucking accomplished. My friend Ingrid and I decided to attend the Namhae Beach Party this weekend but, instead of going with the buses at 10am and heading immediately to the beach, we instead left Daegu at 4am, got to Namhae at 7am, and hiked the local mountain there, Geumsan, before drinking beers in the sand. I researched this mountain and it said it was a fairly easy course– BUT I HAVE BEEN TRICKED BEFORE, KOREA.

So we hiked. And it was not easy. And I bitched. And I had regrets. But, I fucking kept going. Even though I stopped multiple times, even though I shouted “FUCK” as loud as I could at seeing another set of large steps to climb, even though I was sweating my ass off and it was humid as fuck and I just wanted to drink on the beach, I kept going.

And then we reached the top.

*Disclaimer: All pictures that follow were taken by Ingrid, not me*

IMG_3092

The top was beautiful. The view of the beach below was beautiful. The caves at the top were beautiful. The temple was beautiful. It was all so fucking beautiful and I had this thought, this mindblowing thought that I had never considered before amidst my embarrassment at my heaving breath and sweaty body–

IMG_3093

every single time I run or hike or move when I don’t want to, every time I push through the desire to quit, I am making progress and I am victorious. Every single time I do something I don’t want to do, I am successful.

IMG_3091

Success isn’t about reaching the top first or getting up the mountain without stopping. Success isn’t about hiding deep inhales and struggles or pretending that I feel no exhaustion or frustration. Success, at least for me, is taking those feelings and changing them into fuel to keep going, even when it seems impossible. The feeling of sitting at the top of a mountain that you conquered, looking out over the view below, feeling your heart rate slow, and appreciating the fucking majesty of nature is something I am growing to appreciate more and more after every single hike.

IMG_3089

The weight may not fall off of me as fast as I want it and getting fitter may take longer than I originally anticipated, but it IS happening and it is showing in small ways. It’s just so important to notice the small changes instead of focusing only on how my belly is getting smaller or my face thinner. Those things are inspirational, too, don’t get me wrong, but there is something so powerful about truly noticing the power of my legs for the first time or feeling, finally, a gentle voice encouraging me on instead of the angry voice that has condemned and hated me for the past 29 years.

IMG_3087

A lot happened to me on this hike and in the hours that followed. It was not a tall mountain, but it was challenging, and because I keep doing things that challenge me, because I keep doing shit I don’t want to do, I am winning the battle against myself. I have never been good about motivating myself or pushing myself to keep going because I think I have always come at this idea with anger and punishment instead of worship and reverence for all the things my body CAN do and WILL do if I just ask it nicely and am patient with it as it tries to get better. It’s okay to be out of breath when climbing a mountain– it’s a fucking mountain!

IMG_3086

I know I am capable of great things, both physically and emotionally. The only person that ever stops me is me.

So, last night, taking these concepts and new realizations about myself, I tried to put them into practice during my run, which, in all fairness, I did not want to fucking do because Daegu is a humid pool of bullshit right now and it’s just hard to do anything physical for an extended period of time when the sun is up. But, I put my running shoes on, rode my bike to the local elementary school track, started my Strava, and started fucking running. I’ve been running in 10/1 intervals, which means I run for 10 minutes, walk for 1 minute, run 10 minutes, and so on and so forth. There are four intervals in one workout, and last week, I struggled through 3 of them and then 5 minutes of the fourth one. Last night, I was determined to do better than that. I ran through the first one and considered stopping, I finished the second one and started finding my groove, I finished the third one and did not feel tired, and as the fourth one came to an end, I decided to run a 5th one, which would put me right at 5 miles, so I did.

IMG_3103

This is the first time I’ve run five miles in years. I can’t remember the last time. I’ve now run over 1/3 of what I need to run for my half in November. I was worried about being able to reach that distance, but my run last night proved to me that I can fucking do anything.

I’ve been without cigarettes for 38 days now. I made it through an outdoor beach party while drinking copious amounts of alcohol and did not have one cigarette– I didn’t even really want one. The impulse was there, but the desire was gone.

The rest of this month is going to be excruciatingly stressful, but all things I am doing are necessary for my future success, even if it means working more than I want, sleeping less than I want, and not having as much fun as I want. But, this is part of life. This is part of the grind and part of achieving the goals I’ve set for myself on all fronts, not just the physical. Being successful requires sacrifices and I cannot keep giving energy to thoughts., things, or people who will not and do not help me grow to be the best version of myself.

It’s time to fuckin’ shine, y’all.