Back At It Again

I know that some of you started following me because this started off as a blog about writing, and then it started talking about traveling with a little bit of lifestyle content thrown into the mix. And then all of the sudden, the writing content stopped. There was a little travel content here and there, but it mostly became a lifestyle blog.

Let me tell you what happened…

My friend died.

Some of you who started following me because of my writing content may have noticed I haven’t done a full blog post about writing since around August or September of 2017. At that time, I was growing frustrated with my “current” work in progress because I was overwriting. My original word count was supposed to be around 85,000 words but I was starting to believe the story would really end up being around 110,000 words.  Yeah, that was a big baby. I know. But the real issue with the story was that there was just too much content. All the stuff that was there was needed information told in a way that wasn’t direct exposition. I was introducing too many of my plots at once. So I decided to take a month off from writing. I was supposed to use that time to figure out how to trim down my bloated first act or simplify the entire story.

By October, a very close friend of mine had died. His death was life altering for me because I always felt he was the one that got away. I live in North America and he lived in South America. We met during his high school study abroad experience. We became friends the moment he sat down next to me in French class. We started walking to and from school together because of how close we lived to each other. We became inseparable that year, with all of our inside jokes and shared curiosity.

Over the years, throughout high school and college, we stayed in touch. His death destroyed me because he was my biggest regret. I regretted the fact that I wasn’t brave enough to let him know how I felt when we were younger. By the time we were in college, we’d talked about things and even tried to visit each other once or twice. But he was in med school in Brazil and I was studying film in the U.S.

He was only 21 and cancer had stolen him.

Unbeknownst to him, he had leukemia.

My mother is currently in remission from the same type of cancer that killed him.

He was almost done with medical school.

He’d just delivered his first baby in May 2017. I can still see the photo of him smugly grinning as he carefully cradled a newborn baby; he and his instructor dressed in matching light blue scrubs and hair caps. That image will forever be burned into my mind because it’s the last smiling image I saw of him before the waves of “condolences” and “gone too soons” crashed against my computer screen, sending me into a black hole of depression that made me abandon social media for two weeks and writing for five months.

I failed NaNoWriMo not because I was busy, but because I couldn’t write. I had no creativity left in me. The story was dead. All I could think about was what this world had lost. We’d lost someone who was trying to do something good for the world. We’d lost someone who knew what he wanted to do and how to do it. I’d lost someone I’d loved and I knew I’d loved him because, outside of my father’s death, I’d never felt so hollowed by the news of death.

And so, after five months, I finally seemed to have recharged. For the first time in five months, story ideas are organically germinating in my mind. For the first time in five months, I feel like I have agency in my life and I’m not faking it.

 

Making Better Choices

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post about my 8 goals for this year. One of those goals was weight loss. I know. I know. That is so basic. It’s always on everyone’s list. It’s the worst repeat offender of all time. But when I put something on my to-do list, I do it and that’s all a New Year’s resolution list is. It’s just a big to-do list stretched out over the course of the year. In February, I took some time to re-evaluate myself and my lifestyle. I’ve never been a super active person, mostly because of how uncoordinated I am but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand that working out is essential to a long healthy life. So, I work out. I do 1 hour of cardio three times a week and 30 minutes of resistance training four times a week. Plus, I walk everywhere because I don’t have a car. Yes, my legs are very strong.anigif_enhanced-buzz-9965-1402961405-27

But even with me doing all of this, I wasn’t really losing weight. I was staying toned but I was dropping weight at a glacial pace. What gives?

This made me re-examine my diet. Overall, my diet is good. I used to make the joke that I’m chubby because of my love of ice-cream. Over the course of a two-week experiment, I realized that it was actually true. I am chubby because I love ice-cream. Here, let me explain a bit.

Once February hit, I started taking this whole “30 lbs weight loss” thing seriously, so I started making adjustments to my eating habits. My normal diet was never really bad, it was just lacking a few key ingredients like…vegetables. So, I’ve been adding more of those into my meals.

I’ve also been snacking better. Instead of eating junk food when I’m craving something small but comforting, I’ve started snacking on fruit such as apple slices with peanut butter and plain/vanilla yogurt with granola and fruit. When I’m making a salad, instead of buying the garden salad mix which is basically just iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots, I started buying bags of expensive leaves. Yes. I said leaves. I’m talking about kale, spinach, chard, and arugula. I feel like I’m being ripped off because they honestly look like leaves I can find during the summer time on the trees outside my house, but I digress. I still eat my salads with ranch dressing but I no longer add the cheese and the croutons and all that extra stuff. I do eat my salads with baked chicken and I can attest to the fact that it tastes amazing.

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I also gave up ice-cream or more accurately, broke up with it. I used to eat ice-cream every single day as if it was its own food group. The only reason my weight didn’t balloon out of control was probably due to my workout schedule. I still eat ice-cream but it’s not allowed in the house. And if it is in the house, it has to be one of those pint-sized containers. I read an article about getting unhealthy food out of your reach. For me, I really enjoy ice-cream so it recommended that I didn’t have it in the house. If I wanted it, I had to go out and buy it. For ice-cream, that means I either have to buy it in the pint-size containers (so there isn’t any left for the next day) or I have to go out to an ice-cream parlor. Both of these options are kind of pricey if I do it multiple times a week, so I know I’d be able to stick to this rule. I hate wasting money.

Over the course of two weeks (even without me working out) I lost a noticeable amount of weight. I’m currently working on revamping my workout routine as well so I can maximize my time and get the best results. I really want to lose the weight but I also want to make sure I can keep it off and live a healthy life. So, I’m not going to do anything crazy or stupid to lose the weight. I’ll keep you updated on my journey. I’ll start posting pictures once I go down a pant size.

Inspiration in the Dark

A while back I made a post about my yo-yoing weight and how I wanted to make a permanent change because I was tired of how my life was going. It’s been a few months now and I wanted to give you all an update.

It’s important to note that I have severe scoliosis—it just isn’t obvious—so my workouts are a bit limited. My limitations come in when I’m dealing with weights. I’ve been advised by a few doctors not to lift weights so my workouts usually consist of toning exercises (basic Pilates and resistance training with a resistance band) and cardio. I can do the Pilates and resistance training at home because I have yoga mats, medicine balls, exercise balls, kettlebells, small dumb bells, and several sets of resistance bands. But the one thing I can not do at home is the cardio because I hate running. So for the cardio, I was going to the gym and using the elliptical for an hour, four times a week.

This went on for about a month and a half before I lost my motivation and gave up. But wait, don’t roll your eyes just yet, let me explain. I lost my motivation because even though I was slowly slimming down I was losing a lot of muscle. Yeah, you see, I’d actually stopped doing the Pilates and resistance training and was focusing my time on the cardio because that’s all I had time for and it was working. But because I wasn’t toning my body, I lost a lot of the muscle I had in my core and ended up looking flappier than before. A good example of this is the fact that I am smaller than I was when I made the original post but I now have “love handles” because my stomach isn’t as firm as it used to be. Once I realized what was happening, I tried to correct my error but it was already too late. I’d lost some fat that used to sit around my tailbone area and because it wasn’t there to cushion me, getting down on the floor and doing the moves I used to do became painful. My tailbone and spine began to take on too much pressure and it became really painful. So I just stopped altogether.

I didn’t lose or gain any more weight until I went to Texas in the beginning of August. While I was down in Texas, I stayed with a family that was on a diet and I didn’t want to be rude so I ate what they ate and their portion sizes and I actually lost weight. I probably lost about four or five pounds over the span of two weeks just from eating better but because I don’t diet, the moment I got back to St. Louis I ate everything that I’d literally been dreaming about and gained the weight back.

This was around the time my brother became an inspirational figure to me. My fourteen-year-old brother has always been skinny and as he’s gotten older, he has also gotten taller. He has the same body type as our dad. He’s naturally skinny but with him growing so much, he was starting to look slender. He didn’t want to be slender going into high school so for the past month and a half, he’s been going to the gym and working out. Over this short amount of time, I’ve seen him put on muscle and start sculpting his body into the image he wanted. It was easy for him because he was already skinny, all he had to do was put on the muscle. But, just from watching my own friends try, I also know how hard it is to put on muscle and he’s done it all without taking supplements or drinking protein shakes or anything like that. He just eats up everything now, but I get it. He’s hungry, so I can’t really get mad at him for cleaning out the fridge. But watching him get abs, rounded shoulders, and develop the muscles in his back and pectoral region really inspired me to get back in the gym and on the yoga mat.

I know I can make a difference before the year ends.