Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Day 28: 4 down, 48 to go!

Today marks 4 weeks since I started tracking my food and writing daily reflections. A few things I’ve noticed:

  • My craving for sugar has reduced drastically. Usually, I crave my sugar cereal every morning something fierce. But the other morning, I realized I wasn’t as in to my Captain Cruch as I usually am. And that is nothing short of a miracle. It felt so...sugary. 
  • Not surprisingly, my portions have also dramatically decreased. Whether my appetite was actually bigger before or whether it was just me not caring if I was hungry or not, I definitely find myself satisfied after very normal portions. 
  • My desire for healthy foods has increased. It’s kind of weird how that works. I find myself looking forward to my fruits and veggies at lunch. Okay, so dipping the veggies in ranch helps, but it’s not that many calories in the scheme of things. But I really enjoy the taste of my healthy foods much more than usual. 
  • I’ve been very strict about logging my food and keeping my blog. I wish I could be this hardcore about all the things I’m trying to improve in my life. 
  • Knowing even just one person reads my blog really helps motivate me to keep doing this. That accountability piece is very important for me personally when it comes to meeting goals. I’m learning this more and more about myself. That’s why My Fitness Pal works for me.
  • For the first time today, I thought maybe my clothes were feeling a little less tight. I still haven’t stepped on a scale- I am determined to feel the changes instead of tracking my progress  on a scale.
  • I haven’t felt resentful of this new lifestyle. Every once in awhile, I miss eating mindlessly. But the benefits far outweigh (no pun intended...) the occasional sadness. It reminds me of the gospel. I know this is cliche, but it’s true. Sometimes, we feel like follow the commandments restricts us. But the blessings we get from doing so empower us beyond what we thought possible.
Also Disneyland. See you on the flip side! 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Day 27: New ‘Do, New You

I think cutting my hair revitalized me more than I could have predicted. I know it sounds strange, but something about it gave me a confidence boost.  Recently, I was in a rut. I couldn't picture teaching for the rest of my life. Everything seemed harder than it once was.  I questioned if I was happy at my job.  I wondered what needed to change.  But this week, I'm feeling renewed. I think maybe I can do this. I think I can get back my teaching energy.  I think I can keep trying to be a better teacher and musician.

When I started Motab, I felt like my life was drowning under choir. I didn't feel emotionally capable of both my job as a choir teacher and my calling as a choir member. In addition, I recently accepted a position on the American Choral Director's Association Utah board, adding even more choir to my plate.  Oddly, however, I'm having a lot of fun with my ACDA responsibilities.  It doesn't feel like more choir. I get to help highlight and support choir teachers like me.

On a totally unrelated, yet equally important note: why are chocolate chip cookies SO caloric? Sure, they're made purely of butter, straight sugar, and chocolate... but they're small...right?  I can't get a straight answer from My Fitness Pal. I see anything from 110 calories per cookie to 230 calories per cookie.  Ugh. I choose the first one.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Day 26: Never Trust a Skinny Cook

I’m really starting to understand that saying.

Today, I made cookies for my dinner group. I knew I was going against my body’s intuition by eating as much of the dough and cookies as I did, especially because I wasn’t craving the sugar. But I truly wanted to know if they were going to taste good before I took them to my party. It was a catch 22 if I ever saw one. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Day 25: "A sign between me and them"

Ezekiel 20: 12 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.

Today in Relief Society, we talked about the Sabbath Day.  I really appreciated this lesson, especially at this phase of my life.  When I joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, my concept of sabbath day worship turned on its head.  I was used to the same sabbath day routine I'd participated in my whole life: go to three hours of church, maybe choir practice and a meeting or two, and spend the rest of the day doing quiet things at home.  As a member of the choir, I spend anywhere from 3-4.5 hours every Sunday morning for my calling, in addition to my Sunday meetings at 1:00 p.m.. When we have extra rehearsals, sometimes I struggle to make it through all three of my church meetings and I have to go home and rest.  We also don't fast on fast Sunday because of the physical aspect of standing/sitting and rehearsing Sunday mornings. We are told to fast on a different day of the week.

These changes from my normal routine have been really tough for me to get used to.  I am someone who operates really well in black and white, and not so well in gray.  If I can remember the intention of the sabbath day - that it is a sign between God and me- then it helps me to strop wrestling with guilt on days when I can't make it to every meeting.  Everyone's worship will look a little different.  Remembering that it is a way to demonstrate my commitment to the Lord also helps me try hard to make it to all the meetings I can and strive not to use choir as an excuse to be at home when I have enough energy to be at my church meetings, even though it's sometimes hard to focus.  This is an ongoing process for me, and it's something I will constantly be refining.  

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Day 24: Guts, Guts, Guts

My only reader Ann requested that I start titling my blog posts with a summary of the day. Today’s title is a quote from Ramona and Beezus. I chose it because I did something a little gutsy today We weren’t having luck getting guys over for dinner and games, so I asked one of the Elder’s Quorum presidents to refer names of people who might like to come to a dinner party at my house. I texted five and mentioned their EQP passed their names along. Three were able to make it. Two of the guys who came I never met before. We had a wonderful time eating Dream Dinners and playing Code Names. And they didn’t seem to think it was too weird to be reached out to by someone they never met!

Speaking of Dream Dinners,  my food preparation at the store yesterday was a royal joke.  They completely underestimate the cooking expertise of some of the people they are dealing with.  I made several Amelia Bedelia level mistakes and it took me way longer than it should have to get my four meals prepared.  My favorite mistake was when the recipe said to zest half a lime.  For some reason, I thought zest meant an amount, like a pinch.  I saw the zesting tool and some limes in a bowl. One of them had the green skin off half of it, so I scraped the zester one time (a "zest") across the white part of the lime without the skin.  It seemed odd, because so little lime actually went in to my recipe.  I knew something was off, but I assumed I was using the tool wrong.  Someone saw my confusion and intervened, explaining that it's the SKIN I want to zest, not the lime itself, and showed me how to use the tool.  I also made one entire 6 person meal for 3 people by accident and had to do the whole thing again.  On that same dinner, I dumped everything in to the same bag when I was supposed to keep the marinade separate.  Danielle had to rescue me and fix it. So embarrassing.  

I cut about 7 inches off my hair today. I don’t miss even one of those inches. And I had no intention of cutting it before last night. Then, all of a sudden, it was like a light switch flipped and I knew I wanted it gone. There was no ambivalence. I needed a fresh start and Trinity made it happen. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Day 23

Today we had professional development and my performing arts team went to lunch. I wanted that Sloppy James (Wasatch Brew Pub’s version of a sloppy Joe) and tots. Bad. Enough that I was willing to own my decision- I knew I would have to be accountable for it. When I ate every last bite on my plate, I thought perhaps I went overboard. I definitely went at least five tots past full. However, it’s 9:00 pm and I’m still not hungry. That large meal satisfied me for the day. And I don’t believe in ignoring hunger pains anymore. I honestly am just not hungry. When I am, I will eat. In Brasil, their big meal of the day is lunch. My appetite is definitely smaller now that I’ve been tuning in more to my body cues. But I need to be careful to eat better foods instead of eating something big for two meals that’s filling but not healthy. As long as I can make days like today the exception rather than the rule, I think I’ll be okay. One of the classes I went to today had candy on all the desks and I couldn’t resist. But knowing I would be logging my food absolutely limited how many pieces I ate. I noticed I was satisfied much sooner than I would have realized before starting this process. I think it might be working, but I’m still not sure! I am happier, though.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Day 22

A couple students performed songs from The Greatest Showman at the talent assembly today. I saw the movie and thought it was cute, but didn't think much about it after.  My students have been blasting it at lunch, but I need that half hour for sanity so I shut myself in my office.  Today, out of curiosity, I looked up the songs on youtube on my way to choir tonight. And what a thrill! The music is charged with passion and energy. The melodies are emotional and filled my soul.  It just goes to show that sometimes you have to listen to songs a few times in order to really appreciate them.  I went from indifference to wanting to hear the songs over and over again!

In choir tonight, as we were singing, "As I Have Loved You," I thought about how I've been singing many of the songs we practice ever since I was a little girl.  The song felt so familiar and soothing.  I realized that, in a way, I've been preparing for my time in the choir my whole life.  That was a cool thought.  

I feel very privileged to work with Mack Wilberg.  As we were singing a piece he arranged and orchestrated (Alleluia by Caccini), I was in awe of the beauty he created with his unique, rare gifts.  There are very few people in the world who are born with such enormous talents, and therefore overwhelming responsibility.  He literally devotes his life for the sake of all of us-  all those who hear his music and are touched by it and feel the Lord's Spirit through it.  What a selfless life.  He is one of the noble and great ones.  

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Day 21

It's hard to keep my end of this New Year's bargain on days when I felt tempted and weak.  I got home from work and had the strongest desire to binge eat.  I mentally gave myself permission to do it if I was really that hungry. I made a huge plate of leftover Chinese food for early dinner and dug in.  I didn't make it through the whole thing before I was full, so I stopped. Crisis averted temporarily. But then I took a nap and woke up wanting cold cereal (my biggest vice) in the WORST way.  So I had a bowl and a half of Lucky Charms.  While the day didn't turn in to a total binge fest, I did make some choices that were not the healthiest. But I am here to own them and reflect on why I made the choices I did.  That's all part of the Intuitive Eating method- discover why you're eating beyond physical fulfillment and work to eliminate mindless eating from your life. 

So why did I want Lucky Charms so bad? I had the entire afternoon/evening free today.  I am not motivated to go walking/running when it's so  cold outside (California girl- what can I say).  My roommate was gone, and I honestly was feeling lonely and a little discouraged. Cereal is definitely a comfort food for me.  While I was legitimately hungry, I only wanted cereal, so that's what I picked. 

The positive in all this is that I did not decide to eat the entire bowl full of Hershey kisses on our coffee table once I already "messed up" by eating a bunch of cereal.  In the not so distant past, I definitely would have done something like that.  So even though I'm not perfect at this, I'm starting to implement a few healthier habits into my life!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Day 20

I prepared a big bowl of Bear Creek potato soup, along with a very casual salad (cheese and celery on lettuce), for dinner tonight.  I wasn't hungry for all of it, so I didn't finish it. Seems basic, but it's what I'm trying to do now- make conscious choices based on how I feel and what my body tells me it needs.  I'm a big believer of not going hungry when possible.  If my body wants food, I should feed it. I need to be very aware of what I choose to fuel it with, however.  How will filling up on ice-cream make me feel when I'm done? What will be a choice that will satisfy my body's needs more?

I saw pictures of myself again today from a month ago that reminded me how purposefully ignorant I've been for a long time now.  I've put on about 40-50 pounds over the past 4 years. Because I'm tall, I can hide it more than some, but I got to the point where I can't do that anymore.  If I reflect on how I've gained the weight, it is from choosing to be totally unaccountable for what I eat.  I want that to stop.

I still haven't stepped on a scale since I started this, and I feel good about that choice. Weight loss in a specific time frame is not the goal. Maybe in a few months, I will weigh myself to see if "mindful eating" and reflecting is beneficial.  Mentally, I know it has been. I feel more in control of my life; I feel less tired; and I feel more comfortable in my own skin.  None of these things really have anything to do with weight loss. I hope that will be another benefit, but time will tell!

To get my sugar fix, I took 2 Hershey kisses to work today in my lunch. It was just what I needed.  When I saw the bowl when I got home from work, I wasn't even tempted.  Had I told myself I could never eat them, I would have been tempted beyond ability to control. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Day 19

Today involved a frozen custard concrete from Freddy’s. I did get the mini and was not craving more when it was over, so that’s a step in the right direction.

Hailey and I worked on a puzzle together and talked. I love doing that.

I wore my workout clothes for about 6 hours and worked out for 0 minutes. Obviously not a day for the books in terms of healthy living.

Even though Shauna and Graham left already, I still have the urge to sleep on my little blow up mattress in the small room next to mine again tonight because it just felt so cozy. Downsizing is so fulfilling sometimes. I don’t need an enormous bed. I think I’ll keep it, but I could live happily without it.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Day 18

Today we sang a song for our Music and the Spoken Word broadcast called, "I'll Begin Again" from Scrooge. While our text was slightly abridged, here are the lyrics for the original song:

I'll begin again 
I will build my life 
I will live to know 
I fulfilled my life 
I'll begin today 
Throw away the past 
And the future I build 
Will be something that will last 
I will take the time 
That I have left to live 
And I'll give it all 
That I have left to give 
I will live my days 
For my fellow men 
And I'll live in praise 
Of that moment when 
I was able to begin again 

I'll begin again 
I will change my fate 
I will show the world 
That it is not too late 
I will never stop 
While I still have time 
'Till I stand at the top 
Of the mountain I must climb 
I will start anew 
I will make amends 
And I will make quite certain 
That the story ends 
On a note of hope 
On a strong amen 
And I'll thank the world 
And remember when 
I was able to begin again 
I'll begin again! 


I thought a lot about these words this morning as we were rehearsing.  I pondered on the concept of starting over. Life is about beginning anew over and over again. 

In a spiritual sense, we start over every week when we take the Sacrament and covenant to follow Christ and keep His commandments. 

In our daily lives, we face disappointments and rejections. There isn't one person who is immune to heartache and chapters of his/her lives coming to a close.  We all have to start new phases of our lives periodically.  I love how Scrooge commits to live his days for his fellow men.  I feel like many would echo his sentiments.

When my mom found out we were singing this today, she told me she played it for Anna a few years ago when my sister was going through her scary battle with Guillian-Barre Syndrome.  And, as my mom commented, Anna has done just as the song promises: she started over again, re-literally learning how to walk, and now spends her life in service to those around her.  It was special to hear that connection to the piece from our own little family history.

The only part I don't agree with is the line about throwing away the past. I don't want to throw away my past- neither the good nor the bad.  I learned from all my mistakes and disappointments and the strength I gained as a result gives me the courage to start over every time I have to.

"Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it." --from the Anne of Green Gables series

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Day 17

I ate very unhealthily today. I’m just making an observation and trying to avoid rebuking myself. I don’t feel great physically. I can tell a difference when I’m being more careful about my food choices. But I don’t want to give up because I had an off day, which is why I’m reflecting and observing rather than chastising and giving up.

It has been a complete joy to have Shauna and her fiancé visit for the Sundance film festival where Grahm’s Documentary (he was a co-producer on it) is premiering. They are such a beautiful couple. Their personalities are perfect together and they are so supportive of one another. It’s inspiring!

I’m also really grateful today for Melissa for 100% understanding every feeling and emotion I have in my career, both the hard and the amazing. We got together tonight to wander through home furnishing stores (I love that activity). It is just a breath of fresh air to have someone understand so completely. There is something so powerful in not being alone in something. Solidarity is powerful.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Day 16

I really don’t have a lot to say right now. But I focused on my body cues during Friday night dessert and only had 2 homemade chocolate peanut butter truffles instead of 7. I call that a win.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Day 15

Today my piano students had their term 2 piano recital. As I watched them perform, I was struck by how different every kid's talents are. Some kids are great at keeping a steady tempo. Some kids have exquisite musical expression.  Others don't give up no matter how hard it is for them. It reminds me that we all have different gifts that contribute to the lives of others. We aren't all intended to have the same gifts- we complement one another and help each other grow through our strengths that might be someone else's weaknesses and vice versa. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Day 14

Today’s blog reflection features ten items still on my bucket list:

1. Learn an entire Beethoven Sonata and memorize it
2. Perform as a lead or supporting role in a musical
3. Travel down under, mate!
4. Go on my first cruise
5. Have a child
6. Fall in love again
7. Do a triathlon 😬😬😬
8. Write and self-publish a book
9.  Redo my kitchen
10. Make a smart investment

You can tell which one of these items scares me the most. But I’ve always loved swimming, I’ve recently found a passion for riding my bike, and I’m learning to endure running. Let’s do this.

Through these two new year goals of writing and reflecting, I’m gaining so much. My quality of life is so much better when I am conscious of what I put in to my body. I am less tired. I am less hungry. I am less dependent. I think I dream bigger like this. I doubt I’ve lost much (if any) weight, but I feel so much more comfortable in my skin. I feel so much happier and confident. How can taking back control of my eating habits make such a change in me psychologically? I guess that’s what this year is about- learning from this process.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Day 13

In light of my recent realization that this posts are like watching paint dry, I decided I need to actually WRITE for this goal.  Not just catalogue my day.  So today, I did a little free form poetry.  It's something I do when I need to process, vent, worry, heal.


I've heard it twice. Read it once.
Apart from the millions of times
I've heard it and read it.
Only three times counted.

The first time I heard it
I was young-
Naive. Uninhibited. Uneducated.
I said to take it back.
Unsay it.
Consider what it means.
I, myself, had no idea.

The second time I heard it 
It came out too fast
There wasn't proof,
No evidence that it mattered.
I didn't want it to go away
This time.
I wanted it to wait for me-
Wait for it.
But it was taken back.

The last time was too long ago
Too uncertain
Too unwilling
Too late.
Stayed too long
Too late.

I got it. Sort of.
But I wasn't done yet.
It wasn't supposed to stop.  

All is now silent.
It's hanging in the air
Incomplete. Lifeless.

A couple thoughts about my healthy living goals.

1) I realized today that, when I'm tracking my food, I feel less fearful.  When I am not being conscientious of my eating habits, I am in a quiet but constant state of worry that I won't be able to stop or turn back to what I once was. I'm afraid of losing control and not having the courage or strength to regain it. When I'm tracking what I eat and being aware, I feel very much in control, or at least confident in my ability to shape my own reality.

2) I've learned over the years that skipping a meal as a punishment or to make up for an unhealthy meal really isn't a great idea.  This morning when I ate just a little too much cold cereal (a MAJOR weakness of mine), I considered leaving my lunch at home.  But I knew how mad that would make me when I was at school and had nothing to eat. Often when I don't bring my own food, I'll go buy some.  And if I'm hungry enough, I'll do it no matter what decision I made in the morning when I was too full. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Day 12

It has been such a glorious long weekend...I really don't want it to end. At the recommendation of some friends, I started the series, "Madame Secretary" tonight on Netflix.  I think I'll like it.  It's cool to see a strong female lead who kicks butt at what she does, but also values family and motherhood.

I went to dinner group at Chris and Allie's for the first time in nearly a month! It was so great to all be together again. We have a series of reality shows we watch together after dinner group throughout the year, and my favorite of all is "Amazing Race," which we got to see tonight.  Amanda, who is also gluten free, was in charge of the dessert. She brought Sweet Tooth Fairy GF sugar cookies for the two of us.  There is no way those things aren't less than 150 calories*. They are SO good.  After I was done, I desired more treats.  But I stopped to think about whether or not it was my body or my mind that really wanted more.  Did I really feel physically satisfied after one dessert? If I was being honest with myself, I had to admit that I WAS satisfied.  So I resisted the urge to seek out chocolate, which is what my heart wanted.  But it didn't want it bad enough to do it this time, which is a step in the right direction for a chocoholic like myself. 

I set out to do my four mile walk/run again today. It's like spring here in Utah, and it's the middle of January! Of course I decided to try to find my way from Legacy Trail to the grocery store and ended up extended my trip by a mile.  If I could have one thing on this good green earth that I don't already have, it would be a sense of direction.

I feel like these posts are utterly boring and doldrum, but they help me stay focused on what my goals are.  Bless anyone who is reading them- you help me be accountable.

*After logging my food on My Fitness Pal, I think 150 was perhaps a large underestimation for such a divine cookie. It had to have been closer to 200-250 calories. You know a food is delicious when you can almost taste the calories!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Day 11

Today I had Sunday dinner with some of my friends. Ashley is a chef and made an AWESOME meal.  There were seconds to be had of almost everything if we wanted it.  I looked more than once at the extra chicken cordon bleu sitting on the stove- it was prepared gluten free and was absolutely delicious.  But upon reflection, I knew my body was satisfied.  Stopping was okay.  And I felt no guilt have a nice big piece of flourless chocolate cake topped with raspberry and chocolate mousse, because I knew I could stop at one piece and be content.  I'm learning how to eat treats guilt free. Intuitive eating talks about cutting out language such as, "I was so bad today" after eating a dessert.

After dinner, we did dishes and David and I had an impromptu "riff-off" over the sink. After, we had story time where we took turns reading out loud in the rocking chair. It was delightful and an excellent alternative to the typical, "watching a movie" activity that we often revert to when with our friends. We read in different accents and Ann told hilarious stories from when she taught elementary school.  We had being together.  It's in moments like these that we find true joy.  I'm grateful for sweet friends.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Day 10

I love Cap'n Crunch. 

I went on a walk/run today and it felt great! I really love walking the legacy trail by my house and listening to podcasts.  It makes exercise fun for me, and not a burden.  One thing that really helped me be successful today was setting a reasonable goal. I decided I wanted to complete 4 miles in an hour, which means 15 minutes per mile. I can't quite walk 15 minutes in a mile, so I had to run at least part of every mile to make it to my goal.  It eased me back into the idea of running again.  I think I'll do that goal a few more times and then change the goal slightly, perhaps making it a little more rigorous. 

Movie popcorn has become kind of a must for me when I see movies.  Melissa, Steve, Joseph and I saw The Post and I definitely wanted popcorn. I ate a lot of it, though maybe not as much as in the past because I was truly more mindful of what I was doing.  Consequently, I was not very hungry at dinner time. I listened to my body cues, though, and decided to share something with someone instead of ordering a full meal.  If I had gotten my own, I would have most likely eaten it anyway, even though my body was telling me it had enough.  It's baby steps like these that I'm hoping will eventually develop into habits.  Note that I didn't restrict myself from getting popcorn when I wanted it, or else I would have HATED my "diet" and just been counting the minutes until I didn't have to be on one anymore.  And then the cycle would begin again. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Day 9

I was thinking today about my motivations for becoming healthier. I used to always want to lose weight and be skinny because I thought that’s what guys would primarily look for when choosing a partner. I knew I didn’t want to be with someone who focused on my weight; yet, I still wanted to be attractive and to me, that meant to be skinny. I’m not that girl anymore. I no longer allow everything in my life to be motivated by whether or not it will get me a date. It’s insanely liberating. Of course I want to be beautiful to a special someone someday, but I realize now it’s about so much more than being a size 4.  Weight comes and goes.

As a result of this more mature frame of mind, I have become increasingly more content with my body as it is. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see someone who is overweight. When I look at pictures, however, I realize that I am not at all what I used to be when I was younger. When I go shopping for clothes, I don’t like the way much of what I try on fits. I got a little tired of that this past year. So when I started this, I wanted to feel better in my clothes and not continue the eating habits that were driving my weight up.

As I can continue the process, however, I realize so many more things about changing my lifestyle that are way more important. When I’m aware of my caloric intake, I feel much more in control of my life. I feel much less dependent on food. I have a smaller appetite, which allows me to eat less and enjoy food more. I hope I will really begin to see a difference in my level of exhaustion and also the back, neck, and shoulder pain.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Day 8

After a week, I think I’ve now finally boiled my fitness goals into only two things:

1. Record my food every day in My Fitness Pal for a year
2. Write every day for a year

Call this an experiment, but I really believe if I hold myself  accountable for everything that I eat and I am reflective every day of my experiences with food and life, I will naturally restore my body to it’s most natural weight. The accountability with food makes me aware of what’s physically going into my body. The writing helps me mentally remain in a positive frame of mind and interpret the things I feel rather than using food to process.

Notice things that aren’t on this list (because I tried before and it wasn’t successful):

1. Weighing myself
2. Making a weight loss goal
3. Cutting out sugar
4. Making a daily calorie goal
5. Restricting when I can eat

I’m still trying to figure out the exercise piece of this puzzle, because I do want to have that. That will be next week’s project!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Day 7

Anna is 23!!!

In December, fires raged in Southern California just miles from my home. Hundreds of structures burned and thousands were evacuated. At least one life was lost. Once they got the fire under control, the rains started and flooding and mudslides came with a vengeance due to the hillsides being burned away.  Houses once threatened by fire were swept away instead by water. Multiple lives were lost. I think about life and how sometimes difficulties keep coming. We sometimes hope that once a particular trial is over, that we get a break for awhile. It doesn’t always happen like that. Sometimes we are kicked when we are down. Sometimes we have to endure many heartaches back to back. But life is our greatest teacher and the growth that happens when we are brought to the depths of humility can not be valued- it is of inifibte worth. It is when we are at our lowest that we turn to Him, the only one who can truly save us. 

It also reminds me that a house is not a home. A house and all one’s possessions can be scorched or swept away in a matter of minutes. A home is forever.

We celebrated with a sisters dinner tonight. I exercised my intuitive eating brain and stopped before my plate was empty because I was completely satisfied. I ended up taking some home, which I never do at Teppenyaki. So this was a small victory for me. I’m craving sugar less after my holiday palooza and hopefully breaking the addiction! 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Day 6

I nearly forgot to write! I need to sleep. My room is a royal disaster and my roommate did my dishes sitting in the sink for two days. Shoot. She is the best.

We stared the stunning Brahma Requiem in Chorale today. It’s going to be incredible.

When I got home from rehearsal, I was hungry. And what sounded good to me was a bowl of cereal. So I ate it and was satisfied and stopped there. I didn’t restrict myself from eating because it was late. I ate just what I needed to be satisfied. I didn’t need or want anything else. Normally, I load up on a bunch of things when I’m hungry, just because I can. Now I am trying to focus on my body signals telling me when I need to eat and when I need to stop.

When I look at it with a long term perspective, no scale, and no time frame for weight loss, I feel so much more peace and enjoyment in the process. One day at a time.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Day 5

We saw Aida tonight. The music in that show is just insane. Elton John is a legend.

Made a healthy(ier) choice today. At Texas Roadhouse, I bypassed my favorite loaded mashed potatoes for the green beans. With bacon.

First day back at work after break and I did the Backstreet Boys hoedown lesson. It’s pretty startling when you ask, “how many of you were born in the 90’s? And only three of the 40 people in the room raise their hands. Starting next year, there will be no 90’s babies left in high school!

My body just feels better with less sugar.

I’ve mostly moved beyond wishing I was on stage when I see a musical. Mostly.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

There has been a very sweet spirit surrounding today.  It's hard to describe. I tend to process slowly when it comes to death.  When I heard that President Monson passed away, I was happy for him.  He lived a long, beautiful life that he consecrated to the Lord.  I am still happy- he deserves all the joy awaiting him on the other side.  But today, what his life meant to me really started to sink in.  I remember when he was called to be the prophet almost a decade ago.  I was listening to conference in the car for some reason and I remember being overwhelmed by the Spirit confirming to me that he was a prophet of God as we confirmed him together as a church.  It startled me with it's intensity in the middle of the highway and I've always remembered it.

Our broadcast this morning for Music and the Spoken Word was a tribute to him.  One thing he and I share in common is a love for show tunes. It was a treat to sing two this morning in his memory ("Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "You'll Never Walk Alone"). 

Here is a portion of the spoken word shared today by Lloyd Newell:

His lifelong ministry was to rescue and help the widows and the orphans, the lost and the forgotten, the dying and the downtrodden. Somehow he always seemed to know when someone needed a visit, a kind word, a thoughtful gesture.
So it came as no surprise when, a few years ago, someone asked President Monson what he would like as a birthday gift and he responded, without a moment’s hesitation: “Do something for someone else … to make his or her life better. Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely and do something for them. That’s all I would ask" (see “Prophet’s Birthday,” by Gerry Avant, LDS Church News, Aug. 23, 2008).
He wasn’t asking anything he wasn’t already doing himself. As he once said: “We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. ... Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say ‘I love you’ more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved" (see “Finding Joy in the Journey,” Ensign or Liahona, November 2008.)

What I love so much about this is the simplicity.  It is so easy to turn someone's day around through a small act of service. It might even change his/her life. President Monson lived his whole life this way. Serving each other is what he desired most from each of us as members of the church he led for so many years.  When I was making my New Year's Resolutions this year, I wanted them to be manageable and realistic. What President Monson taught is simple and meaningul.  I'm going to try to find one small way to serve someone each day and also pray for at least one person outside my family in my regular prayers.  In doing so, I hope I can honor the life he lived and the influence he had on me and my family. Growing up, my mom couldn't wait for him to speak in general conference.  Because of her love for her talks, he is the first apostle I remember loving, too.  Like President Monson, I also love poetry and loved the way he recited them. His voice is so familiar to me. I already miss it.

My bishop shared another story about President Monson that really moved me during testimony meeting today.  It came from a talk given by Carl B. Cook of the seventy in October of 2011.  Here is an excerpt from the talk:

At the end of a particularly tiring day toward the end of my first week as a General Authority, my briefcase was overloaded and my mind was preoccupied with the question “How can I possibly do this?” I left the office of the Seventy and entered the elevator of the Church Administration Building. As the elevator descended, my head was down and I stared blankly at the floor.
The door opened and someone entered, but I didn’t look up. As the door closed, I heard someone ask, “What are you looking at down there?” I recognized that voice—it was President Thomas S. Monson.
I quickly looked up and responded, “Oh, nothing.” (I’m sure that clever response inspired confidence in my abilities!)
But he had seen my subdued countenance and my heavy briefcase. He smiled and lovingly suggested, while pointing heavenward, “It is better to look up!” As we traveled down one more level, he cheerfully explained that he was on his way to the temple. When he bid me farewell, his parting glance spoke again to my heart, “Now, remember, it is better to look up.”
As we parted, the words of a scripture came to mind: “Believe in God; believe that he is … ; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth.”1 As I thought of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s power, my heart found the comfort I had sought in vain from the floor of that descending elevator.
Since then I have pondered this experience and the role of prophets. I was burdened and my head was down. As the prophet spoke, I looked to him. He redirected my focus to look up to God, where I could be healed and strengthened through Christ’s Atonement. That is what prophets do for us. They lead us to God.2
I share Elder Cook's testimony of the role of prophets in emulating the Savior and pointing us heavenward.  Thats what President Monson did.  He was a "good and faithful servant" to the Lord. His life is an example to me and I hope I can live 2018 in a way that would make him happy.

Day 4

Being accountable for my food choices through recording in a food diary makes all the difference for me.  The difference is truly remarkable.   I've noticed that trying to fit my diet in to a certain set amount of calories isn't helpful. It's easier for me to just be aware constantly of how much I'm putting in my body.  Naturally, I eat smaller portions and healthier food when I do that. I've also noticed that when I restrict myself from all "junk" food, it results in binging behaviors. So I'm trying to learn how to enjoy and then step back.  Tonight, I made peanut butter truffles for Hailey and me and she provided Martinellis.  I refilled my glass only once and didn't binge on the truffles.  It makes me feel like it's okay to eat things I love when I demonstrate the self-control to enjoy them without over-indulging.  I already feel healthier and it has only been four days.

P.S. I got pulled over yesterday for speeding because I was listening to "Shine like the Sun" from 9-5 and singing with gusto...and apparently stomping on the gas.  The nice cop gave me a warning for my 14 mile over infraction (84 in a 70).  I felt VERY grateful.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Day 3

Is getting monthly pedicures an appropriate New Year’s resolution?

Ann suggested open mic night in Bountiful for something fun to do tonight. It was delightful. As a music teacher, I loved seeing so many young people (probably late teens and early twenties) getting up and expressing themselves through music, much of it original. The passion was evident in every single person. There was even a sweet older gentleman, probably in his eighties, who sang, “Proud to be an American.” I took a turn singing one of my classic audition pieces from college, “What I did for love.” It’s kind of a rush! I can see why people keep coming back. It seemed like we were among the “regulars.” They were all really good, too! Some of the kids seemed troubled, but music was their way to cope with the hard things. One girl, probably a junior in high school, read the most riveting, thought provoking poem about a father’s suicide. It was fictional, but undoubtedly represents many true situations. It was brilliant. 

The evening made me stop and contemplate when music stopped being my passion and started becoming my job. I used to spend hours on the piano and I would write my own songs. But somewhere along the way, it became work. I still love it, but it’s no longer my hobby. It makes me sad. Maybe one day, I’ll pick up the guitar again and try to finally learn it. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Day 2

Sooooo stoked about the things my new Apple Watch can do to help me be aware of my movement throughout the day. I have a good feeling about this!

A thought about food. I had one lindor truffle, and the world didn’t end. I didn’t even exceed my calories. And I had a fairly active day. So it is possible to eat chocolate and stay healthy I think. I had the worst headache yesterday and today coming off all that sugar from the holidays! I’m looking forward to sugar being something exciting again! When you eat it that much, it loses it’s appeal little by little. It’s weird!

The past couple days have been full of technology, which is not my favorite thing (regardless of how Kip feels).  I had to deal with a broken phone, a broken modem, and a broken computer.  Thanks to the technologically savvy people in this world, I survived.

The Tale of the Mac Book
By Katie Houston

The Genius Bar at Apple
Really makes me mad
They are good at what they do
But the lines are so, so bad.

Yesterday I went early
To be put on the waiting list
It was a 4.5 hour wait
And my opportunity was missed

Outside this morning I waited
Though it was 35 degrees out
I sat outside Apple for 25 minutes
To be the first of the Genius Bar crowd

To make a long story short
I was helped by a very nice guy
But when he saw what the problem was
He sent me to have it fixed at Best Buy

He thought it would save me money,
But this proved quite untrue.
It would have been cheaper at Apple
Being fixed by the friendly dude.

A new hard drive was in order
But one thing was crystal clear:
I couldn’t bear to go back to Apple
And wait at the Genius Bar for another year.

“Enough!” thought I,
This Mac has served me well.
It’s time to buy a cheap PC
And my broken Mac I’ll try to sell

I left Best Buy with a box in hand
Ready to commit to a PC world
It only cost me $180
But little did I know the tables would turn

Handy man Adam Proctor
An IT tech and my friend
Saw on FB I was to sell my computer
And was interested in taking it off my hands

He came to look at it
And when he saw the computer I bought
Offered to install the Mac hard drive
Because a PC? He couldn’t bear the thought!

To Walmart we went
And found the hard drive we needed
Hours later my computer had new life
Clear proof that Adam succeeded!

He only let me pay
For the cost of the hard drive
I spent $85
Instead of $255.

Not only does it work
My computer is now so fast!
And with the new drive and updated software
Many more years it will last.

Adam could have fixed it himself
And sold it for a profit
But instead he served a friend
Which means an awful lot.

So to Best Buy I will go
To return my little PC
I’ll stay true to Apple
But no more Genius Bar for me.

The End.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Healthy Living Day 1

Hi there, Me.

With the new year, I have a desire to start fresh, along with millions of other humans around the globe. I’m sitting here in Starbucks, waiting for the Apple Store to open, and pondering what I want for my life. I feel at peace and i’m realizing the value of quiet self reflection.

As I assess my health, there are many truths that are part of my current reality. I’m over 200 pounds. I’m addicted to sugar. I’m tired all the time. Regular exercise is not part of my life. I have chronic neck pain. My lower back isn’t doing too hot, either. My body is almost always tense and my mind is often worried. I miss writing. Social media does me no good. Dieting causes me to lean towards extreme behavior. These facts lead me to consider what I want to do to morph these truths into something new.

First, I want to master intuitive eating. I read the book a few years ago and truly believed in the principles behind what I read. If I can learn to listen to the cues my body gives and follow them, my food  and sugar consumption will be more reasonable. I won’t need to think of it as dieting, but as eating to live (and not living to eat). I won’t be restricting myself as a punishment, but tuning in with my body to eat only as much as I need. I think this will require a spiritual aspect as well- consistent prayer reminding me of this principle will aid me in following through every day.

More than anything, I want to take this one step at a time and not put pressure on myself to lose weight in a specific time frame. In fact, I’d like to go scale free for the year.  I am eager to write every day. Writing has always been a refuge for me. I want to track my goals daily here and take time to reflect. I think this will benefit me both physically and mentally. I also plan to remain aware of my calorie consumption through a food journal on my fitness pal. It’s  easy to remain ignorant; yet, when I’m aware, my behavior automatically changes for the better.

I want to prioritize exercise this year, as much for the mental benefits as the physical benefits. Running and biking are good for my heart, mind, and spirit. I no longer want to put other things in feont of something that that benefits me so greatly.

The happier and healthier I am personally, the better equipped I will be to reach outward. As I strive to maintain my physical health, I very much want to turn my eyes outward daily, looking for people to serve and ways to support those close to me.

I look forward to reflecting on a year on how I’ve done changed. If I can take this one daily blog entry (and therefore daily self reflection) at a time, I think I will see a big difference. And all of this must be accompanied by fervant prayer for the strength to endure and regular scripture study  to help
open the time to accomplish my goals. When I read, I have more time.