Thursday, December 28, 2017

Reflections on 2017 and Resolutions for 2018

Yes, I'm one of those. I actually followed through with my New Year's resolution for 2017. I promised myself at the beginning of the year, is what I gave myself at the end of the year, which I think is something to be proud of.

My resolution was three fold, because not only am I pretentious, I can't just make a simple resolution. It has to have meaning! But I digress. My resolution did mean many things to me this year, so it's especially meaningful that I met it.

First Fold

At the shallow end of my resolution, I wanted to lose weight. Doctors told me I needed too, and that Diabetes is managed better with less weight. I knew all of that for years. However, I was sick of being overweight and whereas my husband continued to lose weight (100 pounds since 2011!! How fantastic is that?!), I just slowly continued to gain. My pants "shrunk" in the washer. Vanity sizing convinced me I was still a medium and I was in denial when my pant size increase as well as my shirt size. After seeing some less than flattering pictures of myself (it's easy to be in denial of weight gain when you just look in the mirror), I resolved I needed to cut the crap (the food and the denial).

Second Fold

In the middle of my resolution, I wanted to be healthier. I've read think pieces on having HIV was better than Diabetes, and I wanted to live, or give myself a fighting chance, on living a good, long, quality life. I didn't want to endure the side effects of Diabetes just because I liked food a bit too much and I was getting lazier and lazier. I was sick of being tired all the time, and my limbs had started to hurt (!!) because of just lounging around all the time. Even though I like my job, I sit for most of the day, and there has been substantial studies on why sitting most of the time is terrible for you. I wanted to change that.

Third Fold

And finally, the deep end of my resolution had nothing at all to do with weight, or physical health. It had to do with mental health. I resolved to say what I mean, and mean what I say, and know the value in my time, to put myself first, be more confident and above all, trust myself.

Writing that out sounds like a teenage girl's mantra, right? She got bullied a bit and she writes that in her diary, trying to boost her moral to get through the rest of her junior year of high school. But it was mine, and I was going to follow it.

The reasons I made it my resolution this year, and to become part of who I am are complex and long winded. My early twenties were entwined with someone that in retrospect I had no future with (hindsight is 20/20) and too late did I recognize the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. My middle and late twenties were riddled with actions I'd taken because I thought it was something I was supposed to do, not because I really wanted to do. Much of that was professional - I was told that I couldn't get a job unless it was in education, or another field that was in demand. I had the misconception that everyone knew much more than I did and I should shut up and do what they said (laughable to anyone that knows me, but professionally, this was true!).

In graduate school, I met my husband, so naturally some of my actions worked out for the best. ;-) But most of those actions I took because I thought I didn't "know any better" and surely other people knew what they were talking about more than me, but what I realized is that a) everyone is going through life for the first time, and even though people have experience, they aren't the end all be all of all decisions and b) at the end of the day, you have to live with those decisions, and if you aren't happy, it isn't worth it. You only have one life to live, and it shouldn't be spent being miserable.

How did I do this year? 

I did lose weight. 25 pounds (!!11) to be exact and my diabetes is now more controlled than ever before. I started off slowly, going to the gym three times a week, and in March, I started going to the gym every day, with walking to the Library on Saturdays (20 minutes up and 20 minutes back). In April, I started logging what I ate, followed CICO (Calories in, Calories out) and weighed myself weekly (at the same time on the same day). I still have a bit to lose, but I feel better, use less insulin, and my doctor's appointments are far less stressful. There were a lot of hiccups along the way, and I'm not perfect. I have a cheat day, and there are times, like the holidays, where I overeat and I feel awful afterwards. But you pick yourself up and you continue on, and you don't let mistakes get in the way of your health.

CICO is the biggest change in how I looked a food and weight. Anyone that says that calories don't matter and that exercise is the solution are wrong. Seriously! If you are struggling to lose weight and you don't know why, buy a cheap scale off of amazon, and measure using Myfitnesspal or Fitbit app and seriously measure serving sizes. You'll be amazed - I was. There are unhealthy snacks that are very calorie dense, but also, things that are "healthy" are also calorie dense (oatmeal, and almonds for instance). Be aware of oil, butter and other cooking condiments. I limit caloric intake, and ignore Myfitnesspal recommendation of 1200 calories a day (I do 1550 calories right now). There are websites that can calculate your height, weight, and how active you are during the day and can help you calculate.  Stick with it, it's worth it.

It also helped that my husband unflinchingly followed along with whatever I wanted to do. We got on a meal plan, ate more veggies, and our cheat day usually meant cooking at home something we wouldn't normally eat. It's absolutely true that it's harder to lose weight when your partner isn't on board, and I'm so grateful he still is. 

My "deep end" resolution will probably be ongoing. I still struggle with it, but I committed on following through. I had to make hard decisions this year professionally and personally. Professionally, I went back to school, which is less of a hard decision but more of a continued commitment. I finished my certificate for website design, and now I'm deciding if I want to continue, and what I want to continue in. Personally, I've had to cut ties with a few toxic friendships this year, and I had to start standing up for myself with family and friends. It's hard because though I like to think I march to the beat of my own drum, I am a people-pleaser, and I want everyone to like me, but that's simply impossible.

I turned from a door mat, to someone that just distanced myself because I didn't want to confront anyone. However, the first action is unfair to me, and the second was unfair to the other person. Its hard to know when to confront or to let it lie, and it's something I'm still working on now.

What do I want 2018 to look like?

What is noticeably absent in my reflection is the political atmosphere of 2017, and I think part of my resolutions for 2017 was to focus on myself to give myself some semblance of control where I felt lost every time I listened to the news. I am extremely blessed to live in a state where the state's attorney has filed numerous lawsuits against the federal government, and that our representatives, though in the minority, do not succumb to lobbyists and toxic donations. However, there is still more work to be done.

So for 2018, I want to give more of my attention to actually supporting what I think is right and opposing the GOP and their evil antics. I'm not sure how that is going to look, but I'm sure it's going to involve time and money, and actually talking about topics with those who oppose my viewpoint, instead of shouting into the echo chamber that is social media. We have a lot of work to do to take this country back and turn it into a somewhat decent place.

I also want to write more, and get back into my blog. I kept reading this year, I never stopped but the reviews were lacking, and even if a few people read them, they are a good way to keep the mind active and to constantly improve my writing. I read a ton of books with no intention of stopping, so why not review them again?

Finally, I'm going to let you all in another another secret of mine: I've been writing a book. I started last year with an ex-friend, and I'm continuing the project solo. It's frankly awful, but I want to finish it, and then revise and edit it throughout 2018 to make it completely mine. I only have about 6 chapters left and it would be a wonderful gift to myself if I turned it into something I was proud of.

I'm not going to stop working out, or standing up for myself, but now I think it's the year to focus on personal projects as well as continue the effort in opposing the Trump Administration.

How did your resolutions go this year? What do you want to focus on for next year? How will you meet your goals?

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