Is this what they always meant by “happy weight”?

Happy Sunday evening! I am currently typing this while being serenaded by my dad singing karaoke in the living room, and I would not have it any other way.

Today we are gonna take it back to a topic on which I have not focused in a while, the one that pretty much started this blog 8(!) years ago. The topic is weight and body image.

I’ve gained maybe 10 lbs more or less since moving back home to NY, which I suppose is a combination of less walking, more lifting, honestly more stress eating at times, and definitely some stress from work.

I have not stepped on a scale in 2021 I don’t think, and I am not very interested in doing so, because it’s not going to be helpful for me to live a healthier lifestyle. But I know I’ve gained weight due to the fact that I am not getting more than 5-6 pullups despite consistently practicing them. I’m getting stronger but I’m also just getting heavier. Measuring progress through my fitness has been helpful, because I am interested in my performance and how I feel.

True, there are many times I eat dessert many days in a row and really don’t feel too hot. But a mark of my health to me at this time is how I am able to…

  • note the results of a decision that I made (e.g., feeling bloated and ready to nap vs. being energized to fulfill my responsibilities / workout)
  • recognize why I made that decision (e.g., because it was a social celebration? because I was just stressed? because I felt like I needed to help finish food?)
  • make the same or a different decision again when faced with a similar situation

It has taken many years (almost a decade) to be able to look at my eating habits objectively and subjectively with a mindset of both healthy critique AND grace given to oneself. I believe this has to do with the fact that I am at a weight that allows me to have energy for all the things I need/want to do (i.e., lift kettlebells well, do burpees smoothly and quickly, be on my feet all day at work) and also allows my body to go comfortably between mealtimes without thinking about food too much. Feels like what people would call a “happy weight,” which might be stated as “set point” in literature that I won’t go into here.

That being said, I do recognize that discipline around food ought to be practiced when accompanied by virtuous reasons (e.g., allowing oneself to feel uncomfortable in this one facet of life, honoring hunger cues, making eating choices for a long life). And I do think that if I were a little lighter, I could do more pull-ups and run faster, and the only person who can help myself with that is me at the end of the day.

However, though this dynamic between enjoyment and discipline, grace and healthy critique, in my fitness and food journey, still mildly pushes and pulls into less virtuous areas of thought (i.e., just wanting to look better and maybe see my abs a bit more), overall I am grateful to say that it has been freeing.

I think it has been the fruit of a lot of honest conversations with myself and with God. And for you, it might be conversations with yourself, a trusted one, and a healthcare professional. That’s where I was too. It’s been a constant confrontation of things I don’t like about myself, my situation, what I have to do, what I don’t want to do… Digging into those parts, with help, and rooting out brokenness in seemingly unrelated areas of my life that were certainly affecting my relationship with food and fitness.

I know some, maybe even many, people who are reading this are not in a good headspace right now, and it might not help for me to say, “Things will get better. Keep your head up,” but in case it does, just know that there is a way out. Better yet, there is Someone who wants to meet you exactly where you are, first and foremost, and then bring you out of there.

Here to chat if you need. Thank you for reading and supporting me. ♥︎

Wisdom from a quarter of a century

May all the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. In memorial today of all those who gave their lives for the freedom we have in this country.

Quarter of a century! Which means I’m closer to being 30 years old than I am to being a wee high school grad. Before all you 30+ year olds start coming after me, I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with this! We all go to die one day ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

a recent photo of my unmasked face, in case you were wondering

I have not done one of these “things I’ve learned” posts in a while, so to celebrate turning a ripe but fresh 25 years old today, here are 25 things, both serious and jovial, that I have learned in my 25 years of life:

  1. Vulnerability is extremely powerful, for better or for worse.
  2. It is very possible to be great friends with people who vehemently disagree with you on important topics.
  3. If you squish a grain of white rice between your fingers enough, it feels like you’re making a mini mochi cake.
  4. Your brain really is still developing a LOT in your early twenties so chill o u t and remember that you still have a long way to go.
  5. The music you listen to on a daily basis really does shape your daily disposition, for better or worse.
  6. In the words of Olaf the snowman, “I like warm hugs!”
  7. No human person is immune to any certain emotion, sin, circumstance, or bad habit except by the grace of God.
  8. The voice message feature on iPhone is very useful for when you have a bunch of things to explain that are too much for just texting but you don’t want to alarm the person by *gasp* CALLING during the daytime.
  9. Aligned with popular practice but contrary to what I used to prefer, a hot cup of tea in the silence of the morning is quite peaceful and is now one of my favorite things.
  10. I have an issue with procrastinating going to sleep on time because I am not ready to start the next day, which really starts when you go to sleep the night before.
  11. Motor learning principles help with SO MUCH in the realm of movement, strengthening, skill learning, rehabilitation, and honestly just life. Specificity, intensity, frequency, feedback, external focus… all of it.
  12. It is possible to become significantly stronger and to improve functional motor patterns using one kettlebell for a whole year.
  13. The weather really is a hot topic, no pun intended.
  14. Communication is one of those things that is mighty scary until you do it enough that it isn’t… but then you have to remember that it’s still scary for some people.
  15. Dancing is one of the best gifts I have received; it brings me so much joy.
  16. Taylor Swift, by many objective measures, has very well-done music, but I still don’t love her music.
  17. No matter what age a person is, there still always exists a sense of “what in the world is going on?” regarding SOMETHING.
  18. Talk to someone in person before you assume literally anything about what they are trying to say on social media. And really speak to them with clarity and respect, because it’s easy to keep assuming what they are saying even after the conversation starts.
  19. It is possible and rather helpful to ask God for the grace to be humble enough to ask for His help.
  20. That “real quick” thing will always take longer than I think it will.
  21. By the same token, it is really impressive what you can get done in an 8-hour period of time when you’re really under pressure.
  22. Say the motivational quote or cliché that you think everyone’s already heard before, because there is chance that the person who needs to hear it may not have heard it before or may have just never applied it to their life sincerely.
  23. Simple does not mean easy.
  24. Keeping a clean beach towel in the car is helpful for at least 5 different types of emergencies, not to mention a helpful backrest for ergonomics.
  25. God is faithful, He is enough, and He the answer to everything. I honestly could not fight those statements even if I wanted to.

That list was hard to think of, but fun and good to make! Hope you learned a thing or two, no matter what age you are. Would love to learn from you as well! Drop a piece of wisdom you’ve learned in your years thus far 🙂

Have a wonderful week, friends. Thanks for being here. ♥︎

Growth this year so far…

Now that we are almost halfway through 2021, I figure it’s a good time to check in again.

On the for real though, I thought about coming back to blog at least ten times in the past three months, but it was one of those things that felt too far gone to just pick up again because thinking about how much I could say was too overwhelming. It still is, but what can ya do?

My last post was published just before Lent. Those 40+ days were lonely at times as I gave up videos, music, and podcasts (except for the daily “Bible in a Year” podcast, because I didn’t want to be 40 days behind on that). I found myself really being averse to silence, trying to fill it with other things like calling friends, playing Words with Friends, or just scrolling on social media instead. But I really tried to embrace that silence and talk to God more about everything, and it was a very rich time. Giving Jesus a chance is the best decision you will make, day in and day out, no doubt.

I feel like I’m finally getting into the swing of things with work now as well. My colleagues do feel like a family, and I believe I am growing in confidence and competence overall, which help foster a positive feedback cycle. So many people are teaching me nuggets of wisdom, whether they know it or not. I am definitely still asking questions and trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing sometimes, but I am grateful to be serving others in this profession of physical therapy.

I’ve had the privilege of visiting some of my friends’ babies in Boston a couple times since February. You read that right. I have (several) college friends with babies now. I don’t think there was a time for me to process that this the new norm, so it just is. I am somewhat stunned still, because I still feel like I’m the 14-year-old baby sitter coming over for the evening when I show up to their houses. But I am also incredibly joyful that this time has come. Cool auntie Alison is HEREEEEE.

Kettlebellarmine (aka my 35lb KB that I named last year when I got it during the lockdown) now has a 97lb/44kg friend that I have named Goliath. Swinging kettlebells has continued to be an excellent way for me to grow in strength, motor control, and patience above all.

Occasionally, I’ll bust out some dance moves and grooves, like this one time I choreographed a little bit to “Name” by Justin Bieber and my fave girl Tori Kelly (in many ways, I’m the same 2015 Alison).

Felt good to dance again 🙂

I am thankful to have had more opportunities to see family and friends as people become vaccinated and feel more comfortable going out into the world within < 6 feet of each other. Hugging people is just the best. I never thought I was a physical touch kinda gal until last year. *slaps your shoulder as I laugh*

The biggest area of growth has been in my desire for God, to just be with Him. Something a friend recently told me was that my desire for Him is only ever a response to His first desire for me. By no means does this mean that if you do not desire God, He must not desire you. Rather, it is one’s prerogative to choose to just listen for His call — His desire for you — in the first place. If you even at this moment have the desire to know what He’s all about, that’s Him inviting you. He is the most unimposing host.

Happy May! Holy taquitos, it might as well be the Year 3000 (@jonasbrothers); time is flying so quickly. Here’s to more blogging this season! *clinks a glass* that’s probably filled with nothing but water

So tell me:

How have you grown this year so far?

What are some highlights of the spring time for you (if you’re reading from the Northern Hemisphere)? Or the fall for you (Southern Hemisphere friends)?

“Alison, this year will be hard.”

“Alison, this year will be hard. But I will carry so much of the burden with you if you let Me. You will grow in so many ways, in more ways than just one. You are ready for it. I am with you always. It will be very good.”

I was prayer journaling on January 3, 2020, and these are the words I had in my heart that God was responding to me after I probably word-vomited a bunch of my anxieties and fears to Him.

This journal entry was written before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, before I left Boston, before my relationship ended, before political and social battlefields blew up, before death and anxiety consumed everyone’s minds, before starting my new career, before being in solitude for 6 months. I’m no prophet, because this could apply to many different years of my life, but it was made very clear to me this year that things would be particularly difficult.

“I will carry much of the burden with you if you let Me.” There were many times I did not let God carry the burden with me this year, because I thought I didn’t have time to think about anything except all the things I just listed. Those were the times when “difficult” became “crushing,” and when I felt the ground beneath me collapse. But in all the times I allowed Him to come and be with me, “difficult” became “difficult but peaceful.”

I’m not here to say that every hardship can be turned into a happy ending now that it’s December 31st. There is a bitterness that humanity tasted this year that won’t go away by holding hands (definitely not that) and singing kumbaya. Hard days are made harder when you specifically asked God to help make the day easier and He didn’t. Death and loss are harder when you prayed that God would perform a miracle and He didn’t.

But God is not wrong. Do not be mistaken — COVID (and all the other bad things of this year) needs to die in H-E-double hockey sticks; I hate it all so much. But as Fr. Mike Schmitz says in this video: God never promised we would not suffer, but He did promise that He would always be with us. “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20)

My last post about solidarity is an ode to this fact. I said to God about 20 times before 8:00am this morning at work: “I can’t do this, Lord. I can’t do this.” But He made His crown of suffering readily visible in my mind. On January 3, 2020, He promised I would grow, and I would not have grown on this day, in this year, had He not let me suffer with Him, as much as I wished He didn’t let me.

“It will be very good.” Death is not good. Suffering is not good. But into whatever I allow God to enter, suffering and death included, it will be very good. Just like the day Jesus suffered and died is called Good Friday.

Some things I still feel have not shown to be very good at all — continued death, continued division, continued hopelessness. Some things I can see are indeed very good — the Zoom calls with relatives; the virtual book clubs; the new, rediscovered, and transformed relationships; the job that both drains and sustains me; the time I received to fall in love with God again.

“You are ready for it.” The times of the past are now 1000x sweeter when I think about them. Seemingly dumb and insignificant memories and experiences of friends, family, and faith have become powerful motivators for me when I’m feeling very low. I am grateful for every sweet and bitter moment that has readied me to be standing in my kitchen typing all of this half asleep right now (before 9:00pm, might I add).

God has kept all His promises this year, and at first it seems to be at my dismay. I wish it wasn’t so hard and I wish He didn’t ask us all to go through 2020. But even the “best” year is not good unless the One who is Goodness Himself is with us. He is with us, if we allow Him to be, and that is very good.

Happy 2021!

So tell me: Anything you want about how you feel about this year or the next!

The thing that is worth it.

pray.

Last week brought several challenges at work that have caused me to grow and {hopefully} become a better clinician and communicator to my patients. I am grateful for compassionate and wise mentors who are my colleagues as well, who continue to support me in this journey as a brand-spankin’-new physical therapist.

Last Sunday, when I committed to staying off Instagram for the next few months, I also committed to silent prayer for 20 minutes per day and 10-15 minutes of prayerful reflection at the end of the day. I also committed to being more mindful about avoiding emotional eating at the end of long, draining work days. And importantly, I committed to staying accountable to my great friend, Sarah, with a checklist of whether I actually stayed faithful to those commitments each day. All she has to do is read my text (and give me a little bit of tough love if I was not faithful).

When I committed to these things, as small as they are, I wanted to make so many excuses as to why I should not or could not do them. But what I knew in the depths of my heart was that there would be every amount of doubt, fear, and pride in me that fights against me sticking to these commitments, because actually following through with them would be worth it. Whatever that means… it would be worth it.

Even after just one week, staying faithful to all those commitments has been worth it, because I now get so much more time intentionally spent with the One who Loves me and the One who I love. And doing that makes all the difference in how I handle work; in how I live singly; in how I can give to others; and in the degree of freedom, joy, and peace within me (which grows exponentially as I spend more time with Him).

A word of encouragement: If there is something in the back of your mind and the depth of your soul that you have been thinking about doing to improve your faith life, your relationship with God, your inner peace — whatever you want to call it — do it and commit to it today, because it will be worth it. And don’t be afraid to put up a little fight for it against all the things/feelings/perceptions that hold you back.

eat.

I made Bisquick pancakes yesterday after Mass — the “ultimate” version on the back of the box, along with banana slices in there — topped with plain Greek yogurt, pb, and maple syrup and served with a glass o’ milk. I was a HAPPY gal.

I also have been working through a very large batch of frozen tilapia, which I have been seasoning with Costco seasoning salt, fried in olive oil with sauteed onions, some other vegetable (either kale or spaghetti squash) and topped with feta cheese, and it is dynamite. Often followed by some sort of carby thing because I’m not trying to be keto.

move.

I am currently typing with both of my hands wrapped intricately with athletic tape thanks to some gnarly rips from Kettlebell Sunday Swings yesterday. We did a snatch ladder going up 5-6-7-8-9-10 each arm and then back down the ladder. OWWW.

Other fun moves included a hike up Bear Mountain on Saturday with a new Sunday Swings friend, Charlie (@teamwagon)! It was an absolutely GORGEOUS weekend here in NY, so we took advantage of the weather while the fall foliage is still magnificent.

Great convo, moves, and grooves!

God is good.

groove.

I played the game “Among Us” virtually with some friends last night, and I must admit that it was a hysterically fun time. I must also admit that a 10-year-old patient of mine told me that he was playing it with his friends a couple weekend ago, and this was my reaction: “*gasp* I’m going to play that with my friends TOO!” Felt like a weird point of connection with someone younger than half my age.

Hope you all have a blessed week 🙂

So tell me:

What is something to which you have committed for yourself that was worth it?

Have you ever taken a social media break of any kind/length? How did it go for you?

What was the most fun thing you did this weekend?

Have you played the game Among Us?