Vermont & Doggie Parenthood

In early August we visited our favorite campground in Vermont.  We’ve been going on family camping trips for as far back as I can remember.  When my siblings and I were young, our family of five would go multiple times over the course of the summer; now that we’re older, we’re lucky if we’re able to synchronize our schedules and make the trip once a year.

kelseyathomevt3We first discovered Winhall Brook Campground several years ago and it quickly became one of our top spots.  A quiet campground sat upon a river, it’s the perfect place to go to unplug and decompress.  At night, you can see the stars so clearly that it’s like you could reach out and grab them.  This time of year, the trees are so green and lush that the air literally feels lighter; more pure.

Not much has changed since the time we first visited; the hiking trails, the river and, our favorite, the volleyball net (which we use to play badminton) remain the same.  What’s different this time around is that I now have a fiancé who joined us, as well as our little pup.  Our family of five has grown and I can only assume that over time it will continue to grow.

kelseyathomevt2Camping with a dog (a lap-dog, at that) presented its own challenges that made for a completely different experience than I was used to.  Camping had always been my time to get away and unwind, but after the first night away with Tessie, I realized my time was not at all my own.  Granted, Tessie had never been camping before and I don’t think she really understood what was going on, so she was clingier than usual.

Instead of just worrying about myself, I was making sure Tess was eating, going for walks and being occupied.  Because we were out of our normal environment, there was a definite learning curve for each of us.  We’ve had Tess for a little less than a year now and we still face foreign and difficult situations which we have to navigate, and camping was no exception.

kelseyathomevt4No matter what happened during the day- like Tessie growling/barking at my parent’s dog because she thought their dog was encroaching on her food bowl- at night we were all able to settle in around the fire and let the happenings of the day go.  Tess would snuggle up on my lap and we would drink and chat and just be with each other.  And, at the end of the day, that’s all you really want from your family.

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All photos were taken by my awesome sister, Madison, on her Canon.


 

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Beyond the Scale

I wrote this several weeks ago but have been hesitant to share it.  Whilst rereading it, I realize it comes off a little… depressive.  But I’ve decided to leave this post as-is because these are all things that I felt at the time I wrote it.  But I think it’s important to note that I do not only feel this way.  Losing weight has been a struggle, but it’s also helped me to learn more about myself.  And while some days are hard, most days are great and I’m a very happy and grateful human.  This is all a part of my journey and I treat each experience as an integral part of that.


As life would have it, shortly after I posted about my weight loss I realized that I wasn’t healthy. On paper, sure, I was healthy- my weight was the lowest it’s been in years which, of course, has other positive bodily effects. But I didn’t feel good.

I was falling into detrimental habits that I am unfortunately all too familiar with. I was obsessing over the number on the scale. People noticed my weight loss and told me how great I looked and congratulated me on such a feat. This should have motivated me but instead it tore me apart. My weight directly affected my self-worth, and as the number on the scale went down my esteem went up- and vice-versa. Suddenly, I only saw myself as a number on the scale.

Feeling like I had no purpose other than to be skinny, I turned to food for comfort and started gaining weight… Again. My mind began to fog. Those around me noticed my weight loss, so surely they would notice my gain. My face isn’t as thin as it was only four weeks ago; my waist not as slim. In my mind, everything I was eating was “bad”. I felt guilty eating anything. When I was home alone with only my dog I would actually put food back because JEEZ terriers are so judgmental!

In hindsight, I can tell that my behavior over the past month has been destructive. But I didn’t realize how bad things had actually gotten until two weekends ago when Jeff and I went away. On our mini-vacation, the hotel we stayed at offered a buffet breakfast. I could have eaten every single item lined up there and even if I felt like I was about to burst I would keep eating just because it was there. While I was eating delicious pancakes all I could think about was the next thing I was going to eat. It was here that I realized just how much of what I was eating was being eaten just because it was there. Starving or stuffed, food was my life whether I even enjoyed it or not. I always had to be eating. I felt ashamed.

In the beginning, I was determined to lose weight to look “good” in a bikini. I didn’t want to look back on my wedding photos and hate what I saw. I wanted to feel good about myself. But as people began to notice my weight loss, my reasons why morphed into just one reason: I wanted people to think that I was skinny; and if they didn’t, it meant I was nothing. (I realize that this has everything to do with me and NOTHING to do with my family and peers who only saw how hard I was working to reach my goal and were graciously congratulating me for it.)

But at the time, I couldn’t see what was happening. I was losing weight and so my self-worth and esteem were high and that was all that mattered. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t stop thinking about the leftovers in the fridge. It didn’t matter that no matter how much I lost it would never be enough. It didn’t matter that if I felt I’d indulged too much I would degrade myself with words like “fat” or “pig” or “ugly” or “dumb”. It didn’t matter because every day I was getting skinnier.

My mind wasn’t healthy;  I was so detached from my body and what it truly needed.  For some, like myself, there is so much more to losing weight than eating less.  For me, it’s a lifestyle change, and as I’m adjusting my whole life I’m having to deal with stuff from every part of my life that has brought me here.

A lifestyle change isn’t always just about eating less, but may include changing how we handle problems or learning to eat mindfully instead of eating just because it’s there.  Everyone’s journey is different, and this is a part of mine.  I’m having to realize why I feel compelled to eat a whole bag of chips instead of a healthy-sized serving.  I need to recognize when my body feels satisfied instead of just eating until I can’t breathe.

I wanted to share this because this is honestly where I’m at.  It’s certainly not pretty, but I promised to share the good, the bad and the ugly parts of my journey.  Going through this has been difficult, but I think it’s also made me a better person.  Writing this has helped me learn more about myself and by sharing it here, I hope to shed light on an issue not often discussed when people talk about losing weight.

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Mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health.  I’m taking some time to reevaluate and prioritize my long-term goals.  Bodily health means nothing to me if my mind and soul aren’t also healthy.  My personal journey is about finding balance in my body and in life, and my blog is a direct extension of that.  Holistic health considers all parts of the body and though for the moment I’ve lost sight of that, I’m hopeful and know that each struggle only makes me stronger.

~

Island Time | Block Island, RI

This past weekend, my fiancé and I visited Block Island to not only celebrate his birthday, but to bask in and appreciate our planet’s beauty, as his birthday falls on Earth Day.

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It was overcast and rainy when we arrived; this combined with the fact that it’s the island’s off-season made for an extremely low-key and quiet weekend.  We ferried the car over so we could explore the lesser traveled areas and admire the beach-front properties.

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We visited the bluffs and hiked down- and then up!- ten flights of stairs to the rocky beach.  We visited several other trails but didn’t do much walking on account of the rain.

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And you know I have to include at least one food pic!  We ate at one of the four restaurants open this time of year, the Mohegan Café & Brewery, for both lunch and dinner on Saturday (we were going to try another place for dinner, but they closed early, I’m assuming because there was no business).  Jeff ordered these delicious coconut shrimp- perfectly fried and crunchy and nicely complemented with a sweet Thai chili sauce.  The mixed drinks here were only okay, but we enjoyed all the food we ordered.

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We stayed overnight in the Honora Sullivan room at Dodge Cottage, a part of The 1661 Inn, the only place on the island that’s open year-round.  The room was clean and cozy and The Inn offered a delicious buffet breakfast (which was included in the cost of the stay) with eggs, pancakes, ham, baked goods and mimosas.  The staff was friendly and accommodating- we would definitely stay here again!

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Sunday ended up being a beautiful spring day.  We walked the beach to the North Lighthouse, and of course got some nice pictures along the way.

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Jeff and I have been to BI before during it’s peak tourist-season, but traveling here when everything’s quiet is a totally different experience.  It was the perfect way to celebrate love, life and the beauty that Earth grants us.

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~

My Weight, Disordered Eating & Where I am Now

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.  My feelings toward my body and food and the relationship between the two have always been skewed.  When I was in grade school, I was bullied for being overweight.  I couldn’t wear the clothes my friends were wearing because I couldn’t fit into them.  When I was maybe 11 or 12, my behavior with food changed; this was about when I started dieting.

I remember being on the South Beach Diet and Weight Watchers; there may have been other programs that I tried, but I can’t recall them.  The South Beach Diet was the worst- I ate bland, unappealing food and I don’t remember seeing much in the way of results.  I look back on Weight Watchers more fondly, because when I first started this program I lost 50 pounds.  Now that I’m able to look back on this time in my life with fresh eyes, I believe this is when my food addiction festered.

I treated food much like an alcoholic would treat their vice.  I would sneak food in the middle of the night so that no one would see me.  I would lie to my friends about what I was eating because I was embarrassed to admit the foods that I liked were “bad.”  I didn’t like to eat in front of others because I was so self-conscious.  Weight Watchers teaches accountability, and one of the tricks to the program is to write down everything that you eat.  At the time, I was so embarrassed by what I was eating that I would eat in private so no one would see me, and I would then pretend that it didn’t happen.  This went on for years, and I still struggle with some of these behaviors today.

As I got older, I developed breasts and thighs and started to gain back the weight I had lost in grade school.  I also stopped consciously watching what I was eating so I kept gaining.  Being a high schooler, my weight and my health weren’t a priority.  But people in my life would make off-hand comments about my weight.  I even had a boyfriend at the time whose friends mocked me for “exceeding his weight limit.”  I pretended that I didn’t notice these things or that they didn’t bother me.  This is when I started purging.

This period in my life didn’t last long; I at least had the mind to realize that purging wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t going to give me the results I wanted.  When I graduated high school, I kind of forgot about my weight.  I knew I was overweight, but I had a boyfriend who paid me attention so I wasn’t really thinking about it.  Doctors would voice their concern towards the correlation between my age and my weight but, again, it wasn’t a priority so I shrugged it off.

My behavior with food was still reminiscent of an addiction, but it truly became more of a coping mechanism.  During any period of stress, moment of anger or sadness or even happiness, I would either drown my sorrows in a bag of chips or reward myself with a chocolate bar (or four).  This behavior is still one I’m battling today.

In 2015, I began schooling to become a massage therapist.  Throughout the course of the program, I realized how important mind, body and soul wellness is.  It wasn’t until I graduated that I finally started getting serious about my health.  I started to incorporate exercise into my routine, but it was sporadic- one week I’d exercise six times, then nothing for 3 weeks.  When I moved out of my parents’ house, I started eating far less junk food.  I began introducing vegetables into my diet and drinking more water.  I felt better overall, but I was still overweight.  In late November 2016, I started Weight Watchers, again, and I’m still on the program now.

As I’m typing this, I’ve lost 31.6 pounds so far.  Four months ago I was the heaviest I’ve ever been at 221.2 pounds.  As I’ve been on this health journey, I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning- not just about wellness, but about myself.sidebysidenovmar2sidebysidenovmar

The media and internet is so flooded with information about what’s “good” and “bad” for us, visuals about what we should look like and diet plans that guarantee you’ll lose 10 pounds in the first week or your money back!  I want to share my journey here so that perhaps someone will see a realistic, holistic and intuitive approach to bodily health and mind and soul wellness.  This isn’t a quick fix.  This isn’t a “Biggest Loser” success story.

This is me: a real woman making real changes to promote a balanced life.  It can be ugly, it can be raw, but I want to show that it can be done and it is so worth it!

Welcome to my journey.

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Snippets of Our New Home | Photo Diary

As I predicted, moving out of one place and moving in with someone else in another has presented a set of challenges that is completely foreign to me.  Even though Jeff’s laid-back attitude is the perfect complement to my Type-A personality, we still have to work at finding balance in our new roles as homeowners.

I was met with my first challenge while unpacking both mine and Jeff’s things.  I wanted our home to be a cohesive mixture of our own individual styles and personalities, which meant incorporating Jeff’s vast collection of Guinness pubware into my décor.  Luckily for me, though, before now I never really had a style.  By combining our collectibles and other items, I was able to create a style that is completely unique to our house.  And by doing so, I’ve managed to create a home for the both of us- a place that is welcoming and cozy and ours.

While it was overwhelming at first, I’m quite proud of what I’ve done.  We still have much to do, and perhaps we’ll never be done designing and changing things.  But for now, we have a beautiful little home that showcases who we are and, as promised, I’d like to share some photos of the progress we’ve made here.

Like I showed in my Movin’ Out post, the house was not finished when we decided to put an offer in.  The transformation is gorgeous and we couldn’t feel more blessed to call this place our home.


 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am so proud of the blue cabinet that I, myself, assembled.  It took me a couple hours but hard work pays off!  This accent piece (bought at Target, of course) not only gives us ample storage for our many DVDs, but it complements the blue décor I’ve chosen for the living room.  Jeff’s Dubliner Pub sign even has some blue-ish, teal tones that tie in with the theme nicely.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAhh… The kitchen.  I think it’s my favorite room in the house.  The beautiful cabinets and tile make it a place I really want to be in.  We’re still on the hunt for a dining room table so we’ve been eating off of a pop-up table and mismatched chairs- an eclectic theme, if you will.  Jeff had this metal motorcycle silhouette which looks awesome in the tiny entryway near the back door.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur contractor told us that when he bought the house, there was a window in the middle of the shower.  He thoughtfully removed that eyesore (not necessarily referring to the window, but instead to the potential of someone seeing me showering) and gave us a beautiful skylight.  It makes the room feel so much bigger and provides that gorgeous natural light.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd finally, our beautiful backyard, captured here in the middle of our first snow storm of the year.


 

Like I said, we still have much to do: hanging pictures, collecting more furniture; and Jeff has a lengthy plan for our yard come springtime.  But we’ve put a lot of love into what we have here, and that’s enough for us.