It's late and I need to haul my fanny to bed since tomorrow is Monday, but I wanted to pop on to report one very EPIC yay for the day.  
  • This month I officially broke my record for MOST WORDS WRITTEN IN A MONTH.  Ever.  Just over 22k (prior record about 20.5k and that being very rare in itself).  
  • In that vein, I'm also ecstatic about a scene I wrote over the weekend that was unplanned and turned out to be just AWESOME (and has me seriously crushing on the love interest in this triangle that she's NOT supposed to end up with).  
  • Also, hubs and I did our first ever newborn photo shoot for our friends who just had an adorable baby girl.  The photos turned out GREAT (it helps that the subject was cute as a freaking button).  The Aaaaaw factor was pretty darn high.
  • And it's worth noting that I made kick ass bacon gouda burgers for dinner.  Small but always worth celebrating.

One of the things that I have always struggled with over the course of my life is my weight.  I am prone to be, shall we say, thick.  Nothing about my body suggests the waif-like thinness that is so popular and striven for.  I'm not quite 5'4" tall, and I'm SOLID.  Even during the brief period of my life when I got down to the coveted size 2 my freshman year of college (courtesy of a major depression), I was still very solid.  Then I met my husband, got happy, and progressively gained 5 pounds a year for the next several years.  

I learned yo-yo dieting from my mom--a mix of useful health knowledge with a lot of completely nonsensical behaviors (like, if I fell off the wagon and had dessert on Friday, oh well I've blown the week and should keep blowing it until I can start over on Monday because who starts things on the weekend?).  I've never been good at starving myself (I don't consider that a bad thing), so since i was a teen, I have made great effort to try to balance out my 6'4", 240 pound linebacker appetite with exercise.  I picked up weight lifting at age 14, martial arts at 18, yoga at 19, various and sundry other cardio and fitness activities between then and now which I've kept up with varying degrees of success.  I started running this year at the ripe old age of 32.  

Sometime when I was in grad school, well after my marriage started, I began reading a lot of stuff about health and fitness.  The goal was, of course, to find that elusive perfect way for me to lose weight.  But an unexpected side effect is that it began a mental shift for me, one wherein I continually paired health with fitness, not weight loss with fitness.  And somewhere in there, I made a conscious effort to start thinking in terms of health rather than weight loss or being "skinny".  Because I'm never going to be truly skinny by those standards.  It's just now how I'm built.  Plus, numbers on the scale don't mean a whole heck of a lot.  According to those standardized height/weight charts, I should weigh approximately 120 pounds.  Given I have 106 pounds of lean body mass, I'm thinking that largely does not apply to me (weight lifting for the majority of the last 18 years, remember).  People consistently peg my actual weight at 15-20 pounds less than it actually is.  I think, too, part of it was watching the decline of my grandparents' health, seeing my friends go through pregnancy at every point on the fit and healthy spectrum, and generally making a very conscious decision that I want to be fit and healthy.  

This is not the normal view in American society.  It is counter to so much of the socialization women experience in relation to body image.  People rarely talk about health (at least until it starts to decline) for women.  It's always about how we look, whether that's our size or some other thing we're unhappy about.  It's an absolutely toxic crazy train, and I'm thrilled to be off of it.  If I have a daughter, I hope I'm able to instill positive self image and healthy habits.

Do I still diet?  No.  It finally registered that I simply need to have a healthy lifestyle.  One in which I splurge sensibly and eat healthy the rest of the time.  Do I still count calories?  Yep.  Because doing so, measuring what I eat and keeping track of it (on Sparkpeople), keeps me honest.  People are psychologically prone to totally underestimate how much they consume, and in a world of Super Size Portions, that is a very bad thing.  But I don't obsess.  I don't go crazy.  I don't limit myself so much that a single meal out with friends leaves me in tears because that one meal was my entire calorie budget for the day (been there, done that, don't wanna go back).  I still need to drop a few pounds (so say my favorite Levis), and I still weigh.  But not daily.  Not with obsession or focus.  I weigh twice a month, and I've finally hit on a calorie budget and fitness regimen (one that I actually ENJOY) that means I drop a conservative pound every two weeks--even with dietary indulgences and days I don't actually count my calories.  Which is actually what has me thinking about this today because I had quite a few of those dietary indulgences the last couple weeks and my back kept me largely off my exercise program this week, and I'm still down a pound.

I feel good about myself.  I have a positive self-image at 32 that I could never have related to as a chunky teen in high school.  I'm physically fit, healthy across all medical standards (BP, cholesterol, blood sugar), I've made peace with my thunder thighs, and I'm able to focus more on the positive aspects of my body (uber tiny waist) than the negative (though I confess, I'm on a warpath against my tricep jiggle).  That healthy, happy attitude plays in to how other people see you.  Same as confidence makes people more attractive.  

So if you're a woman (or a man!) who struggles with body image, with weight loss, I encourage you to take a little time to think about whether your focus is on the wrong thing.  Instead of measuring your success (or failure) by whether you fit society's totally unrealistic ideal body image, look at what you can do to improve your health.  Pick ONE THING to change (like I picked exercise)The socialized messages that go along with HEALTH are a lot more positive than those that go along with SKINNY.  And as we've established, we can all use a little more positive in our lives.
My day got off to a marvelous beginning!
  • I got to do a normal, full workout.  My back is pretty well back to normal (if a little bit stiff).  I should be back to my normal running routine on Monday!  I could do it over the weekend, but...well, it's not cool enough to do that yet here in Mississippi unless you're up early, and I hold moral objections to getting up early on the weekend.
  • I remembered that it was unit test week (I teach upper level psychology classes online), which meant I had no weekly discussion questions to grade!  Two hours FREE!
  • My boss is out of the office, which, given she is often a very stress inducing person, is also much cause for celebration.  I got to work in glorious quiet.
  • Perhaps the biggest yay of the day is that I read through Act 3 of my current book and actually liked it.  I have been struggling with what I like to refer to as The Dreaded Valley of the Shadow of the Middle, mired up to my eyeballs in it for three months.  And I've generally felt like I was doing something wrong with the plot that was going to lead to massive rewrites during the revision pass.  Buuuuut, maybe not.  It's always nice to go back and be pleasantly surprised by prose you didn't think was that good.

All in all, a pretty fabulous Friday!
Most of today was spent setting up the structure and explanation for this blog, but I would be remiss if I didn't actually record my positives of the day (which was, after all, largely the point).  

So my Yays for the Day:

  • I can move without HURTING again.  I hyperextended a nerve on Tuesday (who knew you could do the same thing to nerves as to muscles?), so I've been pretty gimpy the last couple of days.  I wasn't what you'd call comfy in my office chair today, but I was able to sit in it all day, which was BIG improvement over the prior to days.  I should be able to get back to running on Monday.  YAY!
  • I discovered a FABULOUS new soundtrack on Spotify (Spotify is another of my addictions and is what is currently keeping me from going bankrupt buying new music to write to) for writing fight scenes.  The score for Army of Two by Trevor Morris is phenomenal.  I've never even heard of this movie, but it's got that good, dig deep, find the extra OOMPH to go GET EM to almost every track.  GREAT for choreographing fight scenes (I'm a writer, remember?  Fight scenes are one of my specialties).  This might even make it on to my running mix.
  • Also, Big Bang Theory starts back tonight.  I have missed me some Sheldon.  Bazinga!
So this is my inaugural post.  Welcome.  I've already talked about what this blog is intended to be over here, so it doesn't seem to bear repeating.  In a nutshell, I am striving to become a more positive person, abandoning my natural cynicism on a desert island with a pistol and a single shot.  

I've already made strides to cut negative, toxic people out of my life, as much as I can.  And I'm seeking out more of the naturally positive people who make me smile just by popping up in a chat window to say "Hi".  The people who enrich and enhance my life just by being in it.  I want to be that naturally positive person for someone else.  

So here I am, on a journey to turn myself into an optimist.  Not the kind who turns a blind eye to problems, but the kind of person who adheres to the philosophy that it will all turn out all right in the end--and if everything is not all right, it is not the end.  

My roadmap to this end goal is to strive to find the positive in the everyday.  So that if somebody asks me, "How was your day?" I can recount something awesome instead of the annoying thing my boss did or this disappointment or that rude remark someone made.  Life is full of stress.  That's a constant that isn't going to change as long as I'm breathing.  The trick is learning to manage it and focusing on the positive.  

I'm not making any claims toward having all the answers.  I'm DEFINITELY not claiming all my posts will be interesting to other people.  But maybe I'll have a few gems pop up from time to time.  And I hope to pick up some more of those positive people along the way.  

Welcome to my positivity safari.