Friday, October 31, 2014

Meg's Musings: Being Free

People tend to have a lot of mixed feelings about being single, for obvious reasons, but one thing I'm pretty sure of is this: people in general are very uncomfortable with adults who are happily single. So uncomfortable that it becomes their job to find other "lonely" mortals to throw in your direction, like you're not capable of making human contact if you so desired.

I'm wondering why. I mean, I get it. It's about stability, or something. The appearance of stability is something I am giving up right now, I suppose, but it is replaced by some other things that are pretty great. It took me a while to notice any upside to the single life. But now it hits me out of the blue sometimes, like last week, when I was sitting in a movie theater in the middle of the day by my damn self because that's just what I felt like doing when I happened to pass by a movie theater and, as it turns out, Gone Girl was just about to start.
It's the "ME" factor that makes this phase of my life kinda cool. I used to be uncomfortable being alone because I was on the run -- running from a lot of things, but mostly, running from who I was at that point in my life. I didn't like that person. She wasn't me, she wasn't fun, we didn't agree on most things, and I didn't really like being alone around her. But then I made her change, and now... hell, I like her so much that I'm comfortable being around her all the damn time. "Her" is me, of course, and my point is... I like it. I like being alone now. And for once, it's not because I'm running. It's because that is what I'm choosing, and this choice is a healthy one for me right now.
Ain't gon' lie though, people think it's weird. Weird to be single in your late 20s and most definitely weird to be perfectly content with that. But it's not weird. It's fun when a last minute trip to the lake comes up and you just throw your stuff in a bag and take off for a weekend. It's cool when  a new job opportunity comes up in a lakeside town an hour away, and even though you already just moved to a new state 3 months ago, you say hmmmm why not?! I'll go for it. Time for a new adventure.

It's freeing to throw the time table to the wind. To be responsible without having a plan. To find your sense of adventure. Trust. Independence. A go-with-the-flow spirit.

It's a breath of fresh air for someone who has spent too much time just surviving the storms of life. I'm still alive and that's a beautiful and miraculous thing. This is what healing feels like. I'm presently free.

- Meg


Steph Says: #momlife

Mommyhood. It's serious stuff.
Especially when the one who calls you Mama is this little rascal.

She does.

Rascal Mae is not a handful. She's about six handfuls. Personality plus, mile-a-minute, firing on all cylinders 12 hours a day. Thank sweet baby Jesus that she loves to sleep just as much as I do. Otherwise, we'd have problems.

Since accidentally becoming a Stay At Home Mom, or SAHM (and I say it in my head with this fancy southern drawl... sahhhhhhhm), I've really started to embrace this new life. At first, I was beyond depressed. Like sobbing-every-day mind-constantly-racing depressed. I felt like I was a failure by not "doing it all." Let me put it this way: as a child, I wasn't into baby dolls. I played with Barbies because Barbie was an independent woman. Barbie could do whatever she wanted. She could be a veterinarian one day and an astronaut the next, all while wearing some killer heels and rocking some fabulous hair. Let's not forget her incredible selection of stylish clothes. 

Yes, I follow @BarbieStyle on Instagram. Yes, I am a grown woman.

I wanted to be Barbie. I needed to be super mom, career woman, wife of the year, and Pinterest project queen all with a smile on my face and holiday-themed cupcakes on my table (that of course had a perfectly coordinating tablescape to match). Come to think of it, I did try to "do it all" during Rascal Mae's first year, and that's probably why I was such a complete mess. Postpartum depression is real, y'all. It's lonely and scary and it sucked the life out of me and my family. But that's not where we're going today. Back to SAHM life.

It took me a good three months to get used to this new situation. To realize that being a SAHM wasn't giving up. (Sidenote: Please don't get me wrong. This doesn't mean that I ever thought being a SAHM means YOU have given up! This is all me. My personal opinion about MYSELF. Not you other awesome SAHMs out there reading. You're still reading, right? I didn't morally offend you yet, did I?) I wanted to work. I needed to work. I truly believed, once upon a time, that having a family wasn't going to be part of my life plan because I was going to have a corner office overlooking Central Park and assistants to verbally abuse a la Miranda Priestly/Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada

It finally clicked that there are so many working moms out there who want to strangle me right now because I have this awesome chance to literally watch my little girl grow up before my very eyes, and I wasn't taking advantage of it. I was wallowing in self-pity.
Okay- so there are still moments of wallowing, but less often and less severe.

 Because I get to have breakfast with Beast every morning.

I get to have ice cream dates.

I get to take "usies." She loves them. Can't you tell?

I get to have bathroom pj dance parties.

I get to witness sidewalk chalk masterpieces.

I get to play dress-up with my very own living, breathing, giggling, toddling, kiss-giving, stress-causing, letter-learning, book-loving, six-handfuls, wouldn't-trade-it-for-the-world baby doll.

And that's SO MUCH better than being Teacher Barbie. 
Although I still wouldn't mind having her closet.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Steph Says: Pump Challenges and Personal Records

You'll come to realize that I adore challenges. Growing up, I wasn't athletic at all, so now it's like I'm trying to cram in ALL THE CHALLENGES that I missed out on in my younger days. It goes a little something like this:
Hey Steph, wanna eat healthy and take some supplements for 24 days? Nah. I'm good.
Hey Steph, wanna do the Advocare 24 Day Challenge? SHYEA I DO!
Hey Steph, wanna lose 4% of your body weight this month? But cookies...
Hey Steph, wanna join this DietBet in which you have a month to lose 4% of your body weight? WHERE DO I SIGN UP?

You get the picture. 

So when my gym started a 6-week Body Pump challenge, you betta believe I was all over that like white on rice. 

Now let's talk about Les Mills Body Pump. One of the best things about my gym is the series of Les Mills classes that they offer. I'll be honest, I'm still a little chicken when it comes to lifting. I am just not at the point where I feel comfortable walking into the weight room and busting out some deadlifts like I own the place. That day will come... But that day is not today. So the group fitness classes are right up my alley, and I'm completely head over heels for Body Pump. I get to lift heavy things in a very choreographed setting without feeling like a total and complete spaz...just a regular ol' spaz.

Back to the challenge: Attend 18 Pump classes in six weeks, get a T-shirt. I think there are other incentives too...
But I want that T-shirt.
Do I NEED that T-shirt? Like I need a hole in my head. But. It. Will. Be. Mine. 
I took some measurements (and pictures, duh) so that I can see the difference 18 Pump classes will make.
Starting Stats:
The bags under my eyes are Prada.
Bicep: 12.5
         Chest: 38            
Waist: 34.5
Hips: 45.5
Thighs: 27

In other news, I ran annihilated a 5k this past weekend. I'm getting faster and faster which is so exciting for me, and it had been almost a year since my last real 5k. Back in November 2013 I finished in 41:25. I remember than run so well because it was my first 5k after Rascal Mae and I ran all 3.1 miles without walking, which at the time was astounding to me and my little 13:30 average pace. (I just said "average pace" in my head in the Nike Running app lady's voice. Anyone else? No?) Fast forward to this weekend: I finished in 33:30.
That's eight minutes faster.

And that's a MAJOR personal record for this girl.
I averaged a 10:36 minute mile. At the beginning of the summer I set a goal (a challenge, if you will) to run less-than-12-minute-miles.

I think one of my favorite things about running is that I constantly get to challenge myself. Go further. Go faster. Be braver. Get stronger. Become the athlete I never was.
Because baby, I love a challenge. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Meg's Musings: Things I've Learned about Health & Fitness

Sometimes I'm Dumb.. Just Ask My Friends

For a while now there's been this running joke amongst my friends that well... I'm kinda frickin dumb. I mean really, how long did it take me to realize that this doesn't fit in that outlet, and it won't make the lamp come on? Sigh. It was early. I was sleepy.

Yea, this happened. I sent this to them this morning, in fact, to remind myself that maybe I still have some work to do ;-)

So it's pretty surprising that I'm actually not dumb. I have a flippin' Master's degree, a published thesis on Native American history and literary culture, and I'm writing a damn book on roughly 200 years of Civil Rights history. So why am I always doing... well, such stupid sh**?

This post is about some of the things I've learned recently, mostly about how things that happen in your life change the way your body functions, and how my whole health/fitness/intelligence/being a normal person train followed a pretty winding, zig-zagged track before I hopped off board.

Getting Sick -- How it Started

Like I said in my previous post.... I got sick. Really sick. And I've learned a lot in the last few months because I have finally taken the time to listen to my doctor and read those lab results (seriously, who does that? DO IT!) and study my health/medical issues -- I'm talking the most intense studying you've ever engaged yourself in.

My doctor handed over everything I needed. He told me to study it, and to tell myself that this is the most difficult and serious course I've ever taken in my life. He said my future depended on it. Ummmm, yea I'm listening now, Doc.

So I did something I usually only do for other people -- I invested in myself. Now there's an idea.

It's not a big secret that I was unhappy with the changes taking place with my body. We live in a world that measures success by what things "look" like, and no matter what we try to believe to the contrary, what we look like matters. It mattered to me. I wouldn't have minded gaining a little, I guess, as long as I was happy. But I was not happy. I was everything but. I was unhappy. I was miserable. I was going through some shit.... some really tough, heavy shit. I was sad. I was scared. I was not okay. So ya know, I did what anyone would do. I woke up and got help.

I'm lying, and I hope you caught my sarcasm. That's very literally the LAST thing I was willing to do, and it's obviously the last thing that I tried. But, now that I've done it, here are some things I've learned.

(I'll talk about all of them eventually and exactly what happened, but for now, just the basics):

1. Your hormones control everything in your body -- how you feel, what you think, how you look -- EV-E-RY-THING!

They help you to function like a normal human being. But sometimes things happen that make your body stop producing them. Physical and mental trauma will easily do that to you. Or any kind of prolonged illness or intense stress, or other medications, and a ton of other stuff.

Sooooooooo your hormones are minding their business, just hormone-ing along, and insert .... (something that makes them stop hormone-ing along and makes them faaaa-reak the hell out)

Yea, that's about accurate. So your whole life changes, because when your body doesn't make enough of them, it can make you do some weird things liiiiiiike.........

A.) showing up at work missing very important articles of clothing -- yea that was fun


B.) driving aimlessly around a town you've lived in your ENTIRE LIFE because you're so confused that you can't recognize anything around you. (True story... that's a whole 'nother mess for a whole 'nother day)

Seriously, if you go through any serious trauma or an intense event/illness that throws your hormones into crisis, it will MESS. YOU. UP.

Bad News: They can totally wreck things up fitness wise, they really take a toll on your body, and they can mess with your head

Good News: When you find the problem, they are completely fixable, praise the good Lord above! It can help you go from this, to this!

2. What you look like does matter

And I'm not just going all 21st century image-is-everything on you here. What you look like does matter, and it matters a lot, because while sometimes your body image changes temporarily for normal reasons (you stopped/started exercising, you're drinking more, you're not sleeping enough, blah blah blah).... it may also be changing for more important reasons. So for me, I had to figure out that the physical changes on the outside of my body were telling a more serious story about something that was going terribly wrong inside my body.

I needed to listen to that. So now I pay attention to my body. What I look like matters.

Bad News: You can get really out of shape even if you are eating right and exercising all the time
Good News: When it's bad enough, it gets your attention, and you can fix it! Or your Doc can

3. Your lifestyle makes all the difference in the world. Period. 'nough said

Yes, I know how to count calories so I know that you can eat breadcrumbs for breakfast and raisins for lunch and then proceed to consume a friggin keg of Michelob Ultra for dinner, and voila! You're within your calorie goal! Success! No.

I've done the calorie counting, and trust me, I've averaged in my share of beer or whiskey no matter how many meals I had to cut out because let's be honest, I needed some help coping with life. And we all may have occasions wherein we go off the map and party, and that's different for everyone.

But when you find out that something is wrong with your body, your worldview changes, and your whole life kind of starts to revolve around it. Mine certainly did, so for me, I'm not thinking so much about calories as I am about the fact that I would like to be here on planet earth for a very long time. I plan to have much happier times ahead of me than the ones I have behind me, and I want to be at my best to enjoy every second of them. I want to be out there, enjoying life with my people. I want more moments like this...

And less nights like this...

Bad News: Everything you eat, drink, or do does something to your body, either good or bad. And the fun stuff is usually pretty bad for you 

Good News: You are in charge of that and hell, with all the terrible, scary, unpredictable crap that can happen to you in this life, it's nice to be in charge! Seriously, though, you learn to crave what's good for you -- especially if your life depends on it

4. SLEEP matters.

Anytime I am really stressed, or sick, or I'm just dealing with too much, I can't sleep. So I've spent the better part of 8 years NOT sleeping. It happens to all of us. No matter how much we know it's bad for us, when we are afraid and stressed, we don't sleep right. And when we don't sleep right, the body goes into crisis mode and releases hormones that do some really weird things to your mind, and they make weight loss nearly impossible. In fact, they tell your body that you need to GAIN weight -- crisis mode style.

I could probably dedicate this entire blog to the insane side effects of sleep deprivation, but we'll save that for later. The point is, if you are stressed or sick, your sleep usually suffers -- and then you get more stressed and more sick because skimping on sleep reeks very real and very physical havoc on the body. Catch 52. It'll kill ya. It makes you look really damn old too. That ain't good. And it makes you do dumb sh**!

Bad News: Not sleeping, or not sleeping enough, is probably one of the most destructive things you can do to your body and it will really mess you up -- also, it catches up with you later and there really is no such thing as "catching up on sleep," so once you've "lost" it, it's gone

Good News: There are things you can do to make sure you get enough sleep and the right kind of sleep. Do them!

5. Being happy is good for you

Seriously... being happy releases good hormones, relaxes your body, helps you to sleep at night, AND promotes weight loss. No wonder happy people are smiling.

But if you're going through a long period of stress and anxiety and fear and illness, well... good luck "getting happy." Apparently, though, there really are ways to control this. But they require some effort and sometimes, some physical exertion. Working out releases endorphins, tells your body that you're happy, reduces stress, and reverses the aging process. It's worth it. DO IT!

It ain't always easy, and I get that! I like my space (like a lot... like "leave me alone! I like my friggin space!") and I don't always love talking about my problems, so when I am going through my "junk," I have a tendency to isolate. I did a lot of that in the last 8 years. It didn't end well.

So I'm learning... I'm talking about the things that happened to me all those years ago. I'm making sense out of life in my own way. I'm reconnecting with people I shut out. I'm working out. I'm improving. I'm learning to laugh again. I'm getting happy.

Bad News: Hard times are stressful, and stress mentally and chemically changes your whole body, making it nearly impossible to be happy

Good News: Stress is controlled by your lifestyle and hormones, and you actually can change it -- you can get happy

I wish I had known this a long time ago. But I get it now. It's time to get on track. My future depends on it. So it's time to get healthy. It's time to be happy. It's time to bounce back. I got this.

- Meg

Monday, October 13, 2014

Steph Says: Why I Left

Presently Free.
It means a lot of things, but the most obvious one is that we're no longer tied down by our past profession--teaching.

Ahhh...teaching. There were the rough days, yes. The days I wanted to crawl under my desk and hide from my next class. The day a certain student crawled under my desk and scared the crap out of me when I "found" him hiding an hour later. The days that were supposed to be holidays spent catching up on endless papers to grade. The days that I seriously questioned my sanity. Why did I even want to become a teacher in the first place?

No...really... Why?
My degree is in Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Relations.
Yea no, it's nowhere near teaching. And yet, there I was.

In college, I discovered my passion for event planning. Nothing made me feel more satisfied or fulfilled than seeing an event I helped to plan go off without a hitch. I had found what I loved to do... but after graduating and moving back home, I struggled to find a job in PR. I remember one person I spoke with saying, "Oh, you're looking for a job in PR? Bless your heart," which here in the South is a nice way of saying "Someone please put this poor, feeble-minded individual out of her misery."  Yea... we can be real sweet 'round here.

I ended up working for an advertising firm that really didn't respect my talents, and frankly, I was miserable. I'd get in my car at the end of the day and just cry because I was so relieved to go home.

Another crucial moment in my life when I realized I was worthy of so much more.

So my mom, who taught elementary school for years, suggested I look into becoming a teacher.

School schedule? Check.
Weeks off for holidays? Check.
Two months off for summer? Check.
Molding the minds of young scholars? Check. (Okay, who am I kidding? Uncheck that last one. I tried though!)
Never once was I under the impression that teaching would be easy, but I deffffffinitely underestimated just how difficult it would be.
The life of a high school English teacher (or any teacher, for that matter) ain't all sunshine and roses and A+s, my friends. It's tough. It is not for the faint of heart. The bad days will outnumber the good ones. But still... I did it. And I absolutely LOVED it.

I loved my job.
I loved the people I worked with.
I loved the friends who became so much more than coworkers.

"The Group"

I loved the school supplies.
I loved sharing To Kill A Mockingbird with my English classes.
I loved the crazy, fun, school spirit of it all.
I loved the chances we got to make total fools of ourselves.

Mmmmkay, maybe not LOVED...

Most of all, I loved my kids.
My kids. My babies. My students.
These kids still have so much of my heart. Not a day goes by that I don't think of them and miss them terribly. I've been lucky enough to stay in touch with a few of them that I was especially close to, and I'm super thankful for that. They were such a blessing to me and I will never forget how much joy they brought to my career.

And yet, I left them. I left Atticus Finch. I left the amazing pranks and Christmas surprises like this one:

Three years in a's a Christmas miracle.

I left those incredible, beautiful, wonderful kids--kids who will forever own a huge piece of my heart.
I left because yet again... I realized I was worthy of so much more.
And so were my kids.

Wait, what?

At the end of the day, I knew I wasn't the best teacher out there. You know the saying, "Those who can, do, and those who can't, teach?" Well, I CAN DO. English? Literature? Writing? That's me. So when a kid struggled to understand how Great Expectations was something worth reading and not just a torture device imposed upon them, I struggled to answer them. 
Why do you have to read Great Expectations? BECAUSE IT'S GOOD. Yea, Dickens is long-winded and I think he liked the sound (look?) of his own voice (words?) a little too much, but overall it's an incredible mystery all about the redeeming power of true love... BUT IT'S GOOD, so just stop complaining and READ IT!!!
At that point, I'd already lost the battle. And to be quite honest, in five years of teaching, I never figured out how I was supposed to win the war.

So what's a girl with a degree in Mass Communications/PR who has fallen in love with working in a school to do?

Risk it all on a new job, of course. 

I don't really know how to make this long story short, and I'll spare you the gory details, but basically I found out that my dream job as an assistant event planner was opening up at another private school much closer to my house. It was PERFECT. 
Part time: I'd get to spend more time with Rascal Mae. 
Event planning: my favorite. 
School setting: I'd still get to work with kids.

So I apply, I interview, and the principal doesn't seem to be thrilled with the fact that I'm under contract at another school. (Mind you, we signed contracts in mid-April, before this new job even existed.) 
After two weeks of major soul-searching, prayer, and tears, I decided to take a risky leap of faith and end my contract with the school I considered my second home, in order to open myself up for this new opportunity.
It was a huge gamble... and unfortunately, it did not pay off. After three more weeks of climbing the walls, I found out via email that someone else had been hired for the position. 
I was completely heartbroken. 

Now here I am, with no job and no real prospects. I've applied. I've gone on interviews. I've been turned down. I've hit emotional rock bottom.

But I'm climbing out of this pit. I'm getting stronger. I'm making myself better.

I'm presently free.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Meg's Musings: My Story

Well, let’s be honest right up front. I’m not very funny. Not gonna lie to you, I get a kick out of myself sometimes, and I’ll have you rolling on the floor if I tell you about all the ass-backwards foolishness I get into, but that’s more like “I wore my shirt inside out today and started a fire in my kitchen” and not so much like “I’m so damn funny-cool that you’re stuck between a laugh and a full-fledged crush”…. That’s Steph’s role. I like to think that I’m quiet and contemplative, but that probably had a louder ring of truth in past years. I’ve come out of my shell….like a lot. Somewhere between marriage, divorce, sickness, and BAM, recovery, I figured out (..ha…yea right… still FIGURING out) who I am. Life got crazy there for a hot second, but I found the door marked Exit and I took it in a hurry.

This is Why I Fight
Let me say this very loudly. My marriage did not work, but you won’t hear me say a damn word against him. I'm not discussing that. Truth is, I had a ridiculously terrifying past long before I met him, and it scarred me in ways I can’t begin to explain. So take it or leave it, love it or hate it, it made me a person who does not have the ability to stay when the gut says to go. But understand that when I talk about the deepest scars of my past or speak out about the long-lasting effects of abuse and the dark clouds that have followed me, and other women like me, long after we have gotten away, (which I will, because come hell or high water I will find a way to help other people in that way), I am NOT talking about my ex-husband. Got it? Rant over, moving on (story of my life).

So that was the big road block of my past, and it cut me off from a lot of roads that I would like to have – and that I should have – taken. It cost me a lot of years, friends and family, nearly cost me my life, and led me down some ill-chosen paths, but it gave me a lot, too, and not just some horrible memories and a lot of bad dreams. It gave me a heart of steel, and a spirit of resilience. It took me a long time to bounce back, and most people who know me well would raise an eyebrow if they heard me say that I’ve bounced back, but in my mind, I did – I’m a survivor. And now I’ve got a beautiful set of metaphorical boxing gloves, because I’ll be damned if that didn’t make a fighter out of me. So, you want to know what my fight song is? Well, I’ll let you know when I figure it out, but I do know that I am tough as nails, and I’ve got a hell of a lot of fight left in me, so I am back.

My Life Back Home: Family, Faith and Football

So I’m going to back up just a bit and stick with me, because this story is good. My mom is a beautiful little lady who, if you asked her what she’s done with her life, would probably consider that question for a second, and then she’d hit you with this killer smile and give you a really meek version of, “well…not much, really. My husband is the one who has really done things with our life.” She really believes that, too, by the way, but it’s a damn lie. The woman is tough as hell, all 98 pounds of her, and the proof is in the pudding: she survived cancer four times. Four. I’m not good at math, but I can count to four, and that’s far too high to count when you’re throwing around the Cancer word. It started when I was three, and she was twenty seven. I’m twenty seven. The idea of having cancer at my age is unfathomable to me, but that’s when it all started. So I grew up with this frighteningly real understanding of life and death and the overwhelming presence of fear. You know, when you’re three, you need your mom more than you need like, I don’t know…air? So that fear is a pretty devastating one, and they did everything in their power to protect me from it.
They did a pretty good job, too. When Dad took her to get her “cocktails” (chemo), I would stay with my nanny or with our neighbor, Nancy. And in both of those houses, I started a life-long journey of taking refuge in something that never failed to make me feel alive: sports. You know how you have those people in your lives who dominate the realm of your childhood memories and shaped your life in ways you can’t quite describe and won’t ever forget? That’s what Nanny and Nan were to me, and for that matter, that’s what sports were too. My nanny’s husband was a coach, and in the days before they had kids, she and I spent a lot of nights just the two of us, visiting the field house or sitting out at the football field or beside the home team dugout in the spring. 

Dad and I used to go over to Nan’s house for Monday Night Football every week, and in the days when Troy Aikman was reigning king of Dallas and the Saints had all our love but not a winning season in sight, I was hopelessly devoted to both. Yea, I know… Saints and Cowboys? Oil and water. Not exactly a football boundary that you want to straddle, but hell, I was a kid. Cut me some slack. I had one foot in both worlds, and I stood over that New Orleans-Dallas equator like a champ, because I was a Saints-lovin’ Cowboy with a penchant for the dreamy Texas quarterback. But you get what I’m saying, right? I bet for about two minutes there you forgot that I was telling you a story about my mom having cancer, didn’t you? See? There it is. Escape. Safe place. That’s sports. And it's kind of a standard of living in our family. In fact, if I haven't heard from my family all week, I need not worry -- a New Orleans gameday is just around the corner, and that's as much about family as it is about pigskin.  Now try telling me that it’s just a game.  It was a part of my life as early on as God and family were – just part of who I am.

The Door Marked Exit

Speaking of who I am… Steph said it better than I can, so I’ll just second what she said about teaching. I loved where I worked because I had some badass friends there. Case and point, the creator of this blog. But, like I said: door marked Exit. Found it. Took it. God is good. So I’m living in Texas now, and I’m a writer, which so far means that people ask you to undertake these crazy cool, amazingly interesting research and writing projects, and then they actually pay you for it. I mean, really…. Life is good. I moved to Houston with the intention of working on my Ph.D., but then, enter…. Life? Fate? Opportunity? I don’t know what you’ll want to call it, but I got the call of a lifetime, for me at least. I’m writing a book about baseball. Let’s get back to that later.

My Journey to Health & Fitness

So my journey to health is like a love story in reverse. I had this crazy fast metabolism all my life. You know how they say to appreciate the good days before they’re gone? MAN I wish I would have soaked up every minute of that and stored it up like a little chipmunk for later use. I was tiny. And I loved food. Wait, hold up. You need to re-read that a couple dozen times because that’s how much I like… Really. Love(d). Food. I could associate food with every emotion or occasion in my life. Bad day? Cheesburger, please. Stressed? Tacos. Rough morning? Pancakes. Homesick? Sloppy Joes. Seriously, the list goes on and on. I’ll save myself the tragedy. And then, of course, there was my old buddy and nemesis: Jack Daniels.

But then, I got sick. I’ll talk more, eventually, about exactly what happened to my body and the insanely intricate roadmaps your hormones take to try to restore balance to an illness-ridden system. But for now, let’s just go with that. I got sick. And every part of my body felt the reverberating effects. All of a sudden…whoa…excuse me? Food like…..has stuff in it that makes your stomach swell up and your jeans get tight? … the hell? When did that become a thing? My metabolism got SLOW…. Like, what’s slower than a snail? Megan’s metabolism. So I tried to ease up on the calories, eat clean. Nothing. Then, I got so sick I couldn’t workout anymore. Bummer, since that was way cheaper than therapy. And then, a lot of “stuff,” one thing after another  – new teaching career, wedding, marriage, divorce, and then, those damn people who wanted me to be happy, they made me start confronting the past – insert STRESS, killer of all that is good.  So I traded in my washboard abs and buns of steel for…. Well, a lot of flab. Ugh. And I went on wallowing in that for a couple of years or so, and then woke the hell up, shook it all off, got my ass back to the gym, left Louisiana and a lot of bad memories behind, found this amazing doctor in Houston, and long story short….. I got better. And in the process, I got 20 pounds lighter…. And counting! I found this great new gym, small and intense, and got myself into a badass training regimen. I can’t play Zydeco music on washboard abs yet ;-) but it’s a work in progress.
On the left, clearly, I was still (very) sick. Check that progress on the right, though! Better by the day

My Fight Song

Steph had a brilliant idea when she started talking about her fight song. I spent a lot of time thinking about what my fight song would sound like. I’m one of those lone souls whose spirit is constantly adrift – new roads, new experiences, and new lessons to learn everywhere I look – so it’s always hard to say exactly where my life is going, but I do know this: It didn’t go where I thought it was going, and I’m damn grateful for that. So I’m not sure where I’m headed. But I can write. And I have a story. It’s not a pretty one, and I’m not always a pretty person. But they say it’s always darkest before the dawn, and I’ve decided that it’s time for my sun to rise. It took me eight years to fight my way back to the surface, and there are so many women out there who have been down that tortuous road, women who, right now, are resigning themselves to the fact that they will never find their way out. I need to get to those women, and I need to help to pull them up to the surface. This blog is my warm-up. It’s time for my sun to rise. 

- Meg

Friday, October 3, 2014

Steph's Story: This Is My Fight Song

Heyyyyyyy and welcome to our blog! Megan and I are super excited that you're reading this (and we hope we don't scare you away)! We met while teaching together and quickly became best friends and swole sistas based on our combined adventures in teaching and a desperate need to somehow get our frustrations out. Rather than saying what we REALLY thought to our dear students (out of love, of course) we started working out together. Long story short, we both decided to leave our teaching jobs at the end of the 2014 school year and here we are, living over 200 miles apart and trying to figure out what to do with ourselves.

This blog is going to be all over the place, which is only fitting for us. We'll talk fitness, fashion, books, lifestyle, career paths, internet humor, and maybe even a little about sports (Meg) and motherhood (moi).

Now buckle your seatbelts and keep your hands and arms inside the rollercoaster at all times. Hope you're tall enough for this...

So first, my little backstory.
I have struggled with my weight since about, oh, second grade. That's when my first crush didn't like me back (thanks Philip) and my grandmother fed me cookies to patch up my seven-year-old broken heart.
Then my grandpa would tease me about gaining weight, and I'd cry, so good ol' grandma would make me feel better with the help of her best girl, Little Debbie.
'Twas a vicious cycle.

Fast forward a decade and I'm graduating from high school in a size 22 with little to no understanding of how calories work. It was NOT cute, I was NOT happy, and I was NOT interested in doing anything about it other than hate myself. I was miserable, and I used food to comfort me. Diagnosis: Classic case of eating my feelings. Apparently, they were delicious. 

The around my junior year, something just clicked and my inner voice shouted "Get it tagethah, gahlfren!" in her best Brooklyn/Boston accent. I finally realized that I wanted more for myself and that I was capable and worthy of much, much more. I started going to the rec one day a week watch out nah and walking the LSU lakes with a good friend.
Sidenote: Collegiates. If you have an amazing, FREE rec center available to you, USE IT. If you happen to be lucky enough to attend the great Louisiana State University, WHY ARE YOU READING THIS INSTEAD OF WALKING/RUNNING THE LAKES. For shame. 

So I lost some weight, met this amazing guy, graduated from college and gained some love lbs (you know what I'm talking about. You get comfortable in a relationship and ya let yaself gooooo). When he proposed to me on Valentine's Day in 2010 awwww I buckled down again and lost some more weight with a feeble attempt at running and learning karate from a one-armed Vietnam veteran...but that's a whole 'nother story for a whole 'nother post. 

Now about that feeble running attempt. I had read about the Couch to 5k app in Mama Laughlin's blog and I decided to give it a try. I remember my first 15 second jog... I thought I was going to die and they'd find my body lying on the side of the road. I'm not even kidding. But 15 seconds by 15 seconds, I slowly ended up being able to run 20 minutes without stopping. Then, almost a whole 5k race. And then seven and a half miles...I felt like a BAMF to say the least. (More about my life as a runner in a future post, promise!)

And then, in 2012, the hubs and I decided that we were pretty great and there needed to be more greatness in the I got pregnant. And HANGRY like you wouldn't believe.
And gained 82 pounds.

Eighty. Two. Pounds.

I'll let that sink in.

Womp womp. No, it's not twins. 

Rascal Mae was born on May 4th, 2013... 7lbs, 12oz. She was perfect and pink and girly and wonderful. But once the fog of "did I really just become a mom" wore off, I was like WHADDYA MEAN SHE WEIGHS LESS THAN EIGHT POUNDS?!?!? 

As soon as I recovered from the c-section, I started running again, joined a gym, and have dropped 86 pounds in 16 months.

And here I am today: looking honestly the best I've ever looked in my entire life and damn proud of it...

...and I'm not done yet. This is my fight song.