Saturday, May 14, 2016

Election fraud, voter suppression in Nevada

This may not even work but I'm afraid that someone will get this video removed from Facebook. Not sure how I could download it... This is the craziness that happened at the Nevada State Convention Saturday May 14, 2016, where the election was stolen and voter suppression was very obvious. People had been fighting for a recount all day, they were there since 7am and this video was shot at about 10:00 pm. They finally got a motion to recount and the lady in charge ignored it, adjourned the meeting, and left.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Years Scale Monster

Hearing talk of New Year's Resolutions, and suffering some unfortunate social consequences for myself recently has gotten me thinking (moping) for a couple days about myself and wondering if I should "try" to lose weight again so my life can be better.  (I know there are many many people who are "concerned" about me and would encourage me to lose weight.  I can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices without them having to say anything.)

But you know what I just realized?  I don't have a clue how much I weigh.  I haven't owned a bathroom scale for many years now.  And I truly honestly thank God for that.  Because for those years, I have had freedom from self-hatred, self-punishment, self-deprivation, and so many other things.  I don't have access to the data that I used to judge, scold, berate, and hate myself with on a daily basis and sometimes a dozen times per day.

I still have other data, of course, like what size of clothes I have to buy, the fact that most guys won't talk to me, little kids who ask me why I'm so fat, and the stories all around me of people who change their life and are happy, healthy, and beautiful now- all because they lost weight.  Not to mention overhearing the droves of people who congratulate and praise those people for having done that.

So, yeah I'd like to have all those benefits that people who lose a bunch of weight get.  I'd like to have better dating opportunities, get more compliments, have more energy, etc. 

But make no mistake!  I NEVER EVER EVER want to go back to living with that monster on my bathroom floor that dictated how happy or unhappy I could be that day, how much I needed to hate myself, what type of punishment I might need to inflict a bit more so I'd make better progress toward my goals, or if I should just give everything up and kill myself and remove the burden from the world of having to put up with me being in it.  (Sounds dramatic, but that is VERY often how my thinking went due to a lifetime of disordered thinking about body image and all the very real social and practical consequences of being fat my whole life.)

I know it's taking me a very long time to get around to doing something about my supposed "health" and that disappoints a lot of people, but I am still in the middle of doing the first big important thing for my health- shedding the ideas and ideals that got my body to where it is in the first place, and no longer making my body a big, fat, evil enemy that I have to hate, control, and abuse into submission.  Since society, friends and family are constantly reminding me of those ideas, ideals, and attitudes, this has been and still is a very difficult thing to do.  The majority of people have bought in to everything the diet industry wants us to.

But I do think I have made progress because for the most-part, I appreciate my body so much more than I used to.  I don't look in the mirror with hatred and disgust any more.  I even like what I see a lot of the time. I enjoy using my body to do fun things like swim, bike, and hike.  I measure success and health by how I FEEL, and what my doctor says about my health (which is usually very positive), not what the measurements say.  I dress in clothes that fit and are comfortable and make me feel cute (when I can find clothes like that, which is difficult and another story for another time).  I don't waste money on too-small "goal" clothes, and I have even gotten rid of an entire wardrobe worth of really old "goal" clothes that I had been carrying around with me for over 15 years, like some demented ball-and-chain-of-shame.

It still really sucks to be a fat girl.  I still hate it.  But the crucial distinction is that this hatred is no longer aimed at MYSELF.  I am pretty accepting of myself, and just wish more people around me would come over to my side, and allow me, themselves, and everyone else to enjoy the benefits of just being a human being, no matter what their bodies are shaped like.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ramblings about peace

I am going on vacation in 2 weeks.  I will be spending over a week just sitting at the beach, playing, thinking, splashing, reading, soaking up the beauty of the earth.  I am so excited and hopeful that this will really open up my soul to peace, joy, and clarity.

To help in this effort, I already have a list of about 30 books I'd like to read..haha.  Okay that's a bit much, I'm going to have to narrow it down.  So in that effort, I have to think about why I am really doing this.  What do I really want to accomplish on this trip?

Well, what have I been missing?  I have accomplished a lot.  I just graduated with my Bachelor's Degree.  I have 2 awesome kids.  I'm doing some dating and making friends and trying to connect with people.  I'm trying to stay active with hiking, biking.  I plan to hike my favorite mountain this August.  I have a job lined up teaching science to 8th graders.  I have a nice home and car, and a lot of the "things" that help me do what I value.

What are the problems I still have?

I think the major one is that I can't seem to keep it together for very long.  I am lacking order and discipline.  I often stay up too late, eat too much, play too much at the expense of being a good housekeeper or a better mother.  Maybe my priorities are out of whack, maybe I'm short on time and the priorities that are lower leave me annoyed, maybe I just still feel inadequate and it's hard to get things in order when my mind is bogged down by deep-down feelings of inadequacy.

What do I want?  How do I wish my life were different?

I'd like to be more organized and at peace.  I'd like my home to be cleaner on a regular basis.  I'd like to not leave projects laying around all the time cause I'm always on-the-go from one fun thing to the next.  I'd like my home to be a haven where I can do the things I love, parent great kids, and think clearly.  Right now I'm buried in so much clutter, my brain is too stressed out to think unless I escape and ignore the house.  I like to have things clean and organized, but it seems to take sooo much time.

I also want to be a better mom and devote more time to my kids and help them learn to be obedient, self-disciplined, open-minded critical thinkers, boys with integrity and other good values, etc.  I don't feel like I'm doing anything about that right now cause I've been concentrating on myself so much (mostly out of necessity...just graduated from college, remember.)  My environment stresses me out and also makes it so I keep people at arm's length so they won't see this part of my life and think poorly of me.  (There is another clue- I still think too much about what others think of me.)  I think the environment also stressed my kids out, and it is probably an unconscious source of contention in the home.

My life is good outwardly...and I want to connect to people.  But then I'm afraid to bring them in *until* I spend a couple weeks getting my house clean and organized.  I don't want anyone to see the truth of how I live among clutter with disobedient and often disrespectful children.  I only want people to see the good stuff, naturally.

I suspect that all this physical clutter comes from some place deep within myself.  Is it true that if I "fix" something about my life, all other stuff will come together?  Or does housekeeping simply take work and discipline?  Perhaps I need to learn to be more disciplined, so that is what I most need to work on?

Perhaps it's all based in the disconnection from God I've had recently as I've become inactive in my church and questioned a lot of things.  Maybe that is what I really need to spend time looking at.  Giving up religion with its natural built-in discipline has probably caused me to "let loose" in many ways.  But I'm not sure that being religious helped me be more organized either, I don't know.  I do think at certain times in life when I was very stalwart in my faith, I was more happy and at peace.  I attributed it to praying and God giving me the gifts of charity and peace.

I've thought about trying meditation as a way to help me get inner peace.  See if it works as well as prayer.  I think that could help me determine if peace can come from within myself...or if it really is a gift from God.  Which would indicate that there IS a God.  But if meditation works just as well, then what I've suspected may be true- that Godly things are really a product of our Physiology.

Do I actively resist cleaning and organizing?  Like right now...I'm looking up books and writing this blog instead of cleaning out my fridge, putting the rest of the groceries away, or countless other projects I could be doing to get my home in better order.  Do I come up with other priorities and reasons to avoid it?

Part of my hesitation and frustration is that the kids have chores that they didn't do yesterday and it's kind of hard for me to do my stuff until they do.  (One son empties the dishwasher, the other is supposed to clean the floor by the chairs where we eat.)  I hate mopping and it needs to be done so badly.  It's one son's job to do that each week but he doesn't do it very thoroughly, so it needs a good deep clean.  The kitchen is somewhat of a source of stress because I'm not that good at throwing meals together that are healthy and delicious.  I have a hard time thinking of what to make. A messy kitchen makes this even worse, or perhaps is an excuse to hide the fact that I'm not good at cooking daily meals.  Maybe that makes me feel inadequate, which is something to run away from.

I guess I determine if there is a God.  And if there is, reestablish contact with Him.  And if there isn't, I need to establish contact with the peaceful true Self inside of me.  I need to reconcile science with my spiritual side, cause that is where the upheaval began I think.

I think I also need to work on vulnerability more and at NOT running away from things that feel like inadequacies.  I probably need to come to realize that there is no such thing as inadequacy.  There is no need to please or impress anyone.  I guess just myself- I am inadequate for myself and I judge myself harshly on that.  I need to love myself, clutter and all.

I could explain my clutter and see the love and logic in it.... What does it consist of right now?

1- Christmas decorations that I still haven't gotten all the way put away and stored
      a.  Higher priorities have trumped this- student teaching took all my time and thought, trying to take care of kids.
     b.  I value memories- I want the decorations to be put away properly, not just thrown into the storage area, and I haven't taken the time to get them organized properly so our special ornaments are protected and easy to find next Christmas.
2- Desk-top clutter, mostly supplies from student teaching and classes in college
     a.  Higher priorities taking over....instead of cleaning up- pile it there, move on to the next thing I need to study or plan for class...then those things just pile up over time.
3- Cooking/ eating clutter- dishes, etc.
     a.  I value trying to teach my kids to be responsible, so I will NOT do their kitchen duties for them, I wait for them to do them.  My youngest son is terrible at doing his stuff and the dishes have really piled up under his hand.  I value peace and love and have a hard time following through on getting him to do things, because he fights with me and holds his ground really well.  I'm losing power struggles with my 7-year-old, to try to maintain some peace and sanity.  But then it's robbing us of those very things anyway.
4- Graduation stuff.  Cards, gifts, party supplies, etc.
    a.  Graduation was almost 2 weeks ago.  I have slowly been chipping away at this clutter, and I *have* gotten a lot of it cleaned up and put away.  These last items are easier to leave cause they won't rot or go bad, and don't take up a lot of space except various corners of coffee tables.
5- Clean laundry
   a.  It's good I keep up on washing clothes (mostly)....can I really spend an hour folding it when we can just dig through and find something clean when needed?  It's a nuisance, yes, but it's not the end of the world.  The piles of clothes in my room are ugly and annoying so I'd rather they be put away.  But there will be an all new batch of clean clothes to replace them soon and it will never end.  Do I want to spend my life folding laundry?  Maybe I should just give the kids their clothes and have them shove them in their drawers, sans folding.  Or they can fold them if they so wish.  And do the same with mine.  But I have so many clothes, I really *have* to fold them or they won't fit in the drawers.  And lots get hung up.

Am I just lazy?  I spend time on other things.  I've gone to lunch with lots of people, I've gone hiking and biking, I have thrown parties and tried to connect to people.  People are more important than the order of my house.  But then when I come home, I'm stressed out.  If I could accept that this is just the way I am, would that make me feel better at home?  I don't think so.  Even if no one comes over, the clutter stresses me out cause I can't find what I need when I need it, I can't find a flat surface to work on a project, I can't find a place to sit, etc.

I value being adventurous, exploring, being child-like.  If I'm in the middle of finally organizing and putting away my Christmas decorations, and my kids want to go outside and have a water fight, am I going to stay and put the decorations away?  Hell no!

But I do envy people who have no fact, they seem to not really even live there, it's like a hotel.  haha  Okay so maybe I don't want it be THAT sterile, but I guess I need places that can be clean and livable, AND have other areas that have projects and things that are okay if they are not put away or clean all the time.  I need an extra room for that.  But all my extra areas are very public in this house.  I have 2 living rooms kind I use for my office and want it to be neat with a half office/ half sitting area, and doubles as a game room when needed.  How can I make this space work for me and not have to stress and kill myself for 2 days cleaning before someone is scheduled to come over?  I guess a little at a time.

This isn't really helping me figure out which books I should take with me...

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Today I was privileged to watch this TED talk, which really resonated with me.  Do yourself a favor and watch it, then keep reading.

What unravels connection?


Whoa.  That is poignant to me.   She said, "shame is the fear of disconnection."  And THIS.  This:
"Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?"

That is me, to a T.  I cannot tell you how much I identify with that fear.  I distance myself from people even though I literally CRAVE connection with others.  I try to hide in corners.  Hide my body so that people who might not like it won't have to see it if they don't want to.  Then I hide any character flaws (or even character traits) BEHIND that body so they won't have to see or dislike those either.  I try not to laugh too loudly, talk about anything controversial, or offend anyone.

I have accidentally offended people before, and the SHOCK of them telling me I did something so horribly wrong, was so debilitating that I would do anything to avoid that happening again in the future.  It's whenever I get what I sometimes call "confident", and I tend to let my personality loose a bit more, that I get smashed back down by a negative experience of someone getting offended by me in some way.  So I get the idea that there is something inherently wrong with my personality.  And I swing back the other way to humility (or is it humiliation), curl up in my cave, and try to be as small and as quiet as I possibly can.

My therapist told me the other day that he thinks I would naturally probably be more open and free (and extroverted) than I ALLOW myself to be.  It's true, I hold myself back a lot.  I also worry about lack of wittiness and intelligence.  When I am too free to talk, I too frequently say stuff that is stupid cause I didn't think it through, I didn't get the punchline, I don't have the cultural knowledge to understand it, etc.  I think I'm just pretty socially awkward a lot of the time.  I hate that feeling of being laughed at or not taken seriously because my lack of intelligence hindered me in the conversation.  I am afraid to talk about my ideas in case there is something in them that might show a lack of knowledge on my part and I will look like a fool.

I want people to like me, so I try to be a people pleaser.  But do they end up liking me for that?  Not really.  Is it actually possible to please everyone?  Hell no.  (Like my recent usage of the word hell is displeasing to many people I know.)  It's not even possible to completely please the top 5 people I admire the most, all of the time.

Do I have any really close or "best" friends?  No.  Have I ever had any?  Not really.  I've actually thought about talking about this topic for a long time, but here again I was afraid of offending those who were pretty close friends and might feel bad that I didn't think we were really that close.  But if they are honest with themselves, I'm sure they'd also realize we were never really that close.  At least certainly we aren't now.

I don't think I have ever had a best friend.  Not in the way I want at least.  I see other people who have a best friend they can call up anytime and both vent about whatever, they hang out and want to spend time together frequently.  They support each other through hard times and love each other no matter what.  They don't let much time go by without contact.
I have had elements of these things, but never the full thing.  I have even felt like a few different people were MY "best friend", but I knew that I was not theirs.  And I will tell you the truth that it hurts to be in that situation.  I usually tell myself that I'm expecting too much and being ungrateful.

I feel like a whiner to even want this stuff.  I'm a grown woman, why would someone my age and status in life want or need or think she could have a "bestie"?  That's something you either had in high school (or college) or you didn't, and that stage of life is over.

Well, I'm sorry, but that's stupid, and I hope it's not true.  I'd like to have close friends.  Even if I don't have one "bestie", I'm sure a lot of my friendships could be a lot more than they currently are.  But in order for that to happen, both parties have to be willing to be vulnerable.

Now let me be grateful for a minute.  I have a good number of awesome friends.  I love them.  They are wonderful, and I'm so glad to have people that will do things with me, come to game nights, go swimming with me, encourage and support, etc.  I'd like to see some of these grow and blossom into even deeper, more meaningful relationships.  I can't be the only one who wants more connection.  At least I hope not.  I know that logistics and practicality prevent a lot of connection- we're busy people with families, jobs, etc.  But I think we can do better.  In my case at least, technology also gets in the way, and that's really unnecessary to let that happen.

I want to talk for a bit about dating as it relates to this too.  I have had people I felt well-matched with but they didn't agree.  I once kind of asked a guy out and was pretty harshly rejected.  He literally looked me up and down really quickly when I said he should keep me in mind for going hiking with sometime cause I'd love to go with him, and he said "alright" very half-heartedly.  Yeah that went nowhere, and that hurt.  Maybe it was his way of saying, "you don't look like you can do much hiking."  So here's the interesting thing.  After doing that I felt like 100 bucks cause I had been brave enough to (kind of) ask a guy I liked to do something with me.  As I thought about it later I was sad about the rejection, but realized he was being a little bit shallow and I was glad I never did anything with him, cause it would not have been a good match.

So TERRIFIES me....but I think my strategy is going to be one of genuine vulnerability and quick action.  If I like a guy, I'm just going to ask him to do something with me.  And those guys who aren't interested will reject me in one way or another and I will more quickly move on.  Instead of my old strategy of waiting around forever for something to happen, hoping it will, and it never does.  If people can't naturally see the value I have, I am going to have to be more proactive about showing it to them.  And if they are then unwilling to even take a look, they're not worth my time.
I think a similar strategy will work with friends.  In fact, I started to do something kind of like that last summer, spending some fun one-on-one time with a bunch of different friends.  It was really fun and helped me determine better who I would like to be closer to.

Can I also say I'm on the lookout for some 2nd moms?  My mom is gone.  I need great women in my life who care about me and will advise me.  There have been people I would love to take this job.  I'm going to try to be less shy and just pursue those relationships.

Vulnerability means to be authentic.  It is courageous.  Courage is, as Brene' Brown put it, "to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart."  There are a couple of distinctions between people who suffer from shame and lack connection, and those who have deep connections to others.  Those with good connection with others know that this vulnerability is important and their vulnerabilities are what make them beautiful.  They also believe they are worthy of love and connection.

So as a person who desires more connection, I am working on these things and will be seeking more and better connection with others.  I am working hard on believing I'm worthy.  I'm not there yet, but making progress.  I think it may be the biggest hurdle of my life.

I do believe that vulnerability is important, but more in theory than in practice.  I think I am more okay with being vulnerable with my weaknesses than with my strengths.  (Weird.)  I don't like to let my personality show a lot in case it's too weird for people, even though I like it just fine.  I don't let my thoughts and ideas show.  But then how will I ever find people who are similar to me and I get along well with, if I'm not being genuine?

This has been a very disorganized post- more of a journal entry than a blog anyone else would really benefit from reading.  Normally I would edit it to be nicer, or even start over from scratch.  But since I'm talking about vulnerablity and authenticity, I'm just going to leave it as-is.  I don't expect there will be many who actually read it to the end.  But perhaps those that do will have some interesting things to say, ideas to talk about, and time to spend with me.  Or perhaps the thoughts here will just get you thinking about your own relationships, ability to be vulnerable, etc.
If I know you and you too are seeking more connection and if I am worthy to be in your inner circle, please do let me know.  I think this life can be much more fulfilling, pleasant, and peaceful than we let it be.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hiking Plans

This week has been quite the baptism into what I have decided to call my "active season."  I am just finishing up a very sedentary season because I have had to commute to where I'm working and haven't even ridden my bike for weeks.  This week I went to Capitol Reef with some awesome friends from school and did stuff like this:

I scrambled up the rocks from the bottom of that ravine to this vantage point (and a little past that).

Then I went backpacking up a pretty strenuous trail to a campground, which was crazy and full of unexpected adventures.

This summer- as it has been many previous summers - it is my goal to hike my favorite peak and the only one I have ever scaled before - Mount Timpanogos.  It's a very high and very popular mountain peak to hike in my area, probably the most popular in Utah.  (Click here for info on the hike.)

It is not just a goal I've had for a while and want to finally check off my list, but I feel it is a metaphor that will be rather fitting as a way to celebrate the completion of my college degree that took me 10 years.  I've done a lot of personal growth (and am still in the middle of doing that), so it will also be a good culmination of that and a way to express my appreciation for all the good things that have happened in my life.  Plus it'll be wicked fun and beautiful!

So, in order to work my way up to that strenuous 15 mile hike, I have plans to do a lot of fun hikes this summer leading up to the Timp hike in August.  Two I for sure want to do that have also been on my list for a while, are Squaw Peak and Big Baldy.  So here, I am going to list information for many local hikes I would like to try some day, and several of which I will do this summer leading up to the Timp hike. I suspect this will be useful information for many people in my area anyway, so here you go.  (Work in progress...I wanted to get this published but I will add more hikes to this in the near future.)

Sites with good info on lots of hikes
Provo Trails on - lists 6 easy, 2 moderate, and 2 strenuous hikes in the Provo, Utah area, with info on each hike including pictures, directions, etc.

Salt Lake Trails on - lists 5 easy, 9 moderate, and 3 strenuous hikes in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, with info on each hike including pictures, directions, etc.

6 Family Friendly Hikes to Waterfalls - article from KSL

I am going to categorize these hikes to my own specifications of how I will work my way up through them, obviously others will want to do it the way that works well for them.  By "kid friendly" I mean preschool/ school-age kids.  Depending on what your kids are used to, toddlers and infants should probably be in a carrier for most of the kid friendly hikes because I'm not really listing here what I would consider to be strolls rather than hikes.  "Moderately kid friendly" are a bit longer or steeper, so probably wouldn't work for most preschoolers if they've not already been conditioned for that kind of thing.  All the moderate hikes I plan to do without my school-age children.

Easy: Kid Friendly
Devil's Kitchen
Location: Nebo Scenic Loop in Payson Canyon
Distance: 0.5 miles round trip
Info: Sounds like it's a bunch of rock formations! :)
Additional Info and directions to trailhead:

Bridal Veil Falls
Location: Provo, Utah
Distance: 0.2 miles round trip
Elevation: 150 ft. gain
Info: This is a short little hike from the pool at the very bottom of the falls to the base of the big waterfall.  Very short and kid friendly, although the trail can be a little narrow/ steep in some spots so you'll need to watch little ones closely or carry them in a pack.

For added exercise or fun, you could hike or bike up the Provo River Trail from wherever- it's a really nice paved trail that is well used.  If you park at Nunn's Park just south of Bridal Veil Park, it would add just 0.8 miles each way.  Going from 800 North in Orem via the Provo River Trail is just 4 miles to Bridal Veil which makes a fun family ride.  The pool at the bottom of Bridal Veil is a fun way to cool off.  If you have good water shoes/ sandals and are adventurous, you can even hike straight from the pool up the waterfall itself rather than taking the 0.2 mile trail.
The pool is just in front of where my son is standing, and those are the rocks you could climb straight up to the waterfall.

Additional Info:

Grotto Falls
Location: Nebo Scenic Loop in Payson Canyon
Distance: 0.6 miles round trip
Info: Sounds short and easy!
Additional Info & Directions:

Battle Creek Falls
Location: Pleasant Grove, Utah
Distance: 1.2 miles round trip

Battle Creek Falls
Info: This is an easy little hike with a pretty waterfall at the end, very kid friendly.  It's a tad steep at the beginning, but nothing unmanageable for kids.  Might take an hour to get to the falls, and it's fun to take a picnic lunch or snack to have at the falls.
Additional Info and directions to Trailhead:

Warm Up: Moderately Kid Friendly

Scout Falls
Location: Timpooneke Trailhead, AF Canyon
Distance: 2 miles round trip (or 2.8?  The site was a little confusing)
Elevation: 700 ft gain
Info (from source): When you leave the parking lot, pass the outhouse to pick up the trail, then immediately go to the right. The other trail will require bushwacking to find the right trail again, so you might as well take the right trail to start with. You meander through trees for awhile. At the next junction after 1.4 miles, go left to see Scout Falls or left to continue to the summit. Scout Falls is only 100ft off the main trail.

Timp Falls
Location: Provo Canyon, on the Aspen Grove trail up Mount Timpanogos
Distance: 2 miles round trip

Timp Falls

Info: This is a fun little hike and at the right time of year, you will see a lot of bonus waterfalls from mountain run-off.  It is the kind of hike where you could go as short or as far as you want.  I'm putting it under moderately kid friendly just because it is slightly steep at times, so if you go all the way to the falls, it could be a little harder on little tikes.  You might find for your family that it's actually plenty easy.
Additional Info:

Stewart Falls
Location: Aspen Grove in Provo Canyon
Distance: 3.5 miles round trip
Elevation: 100 ft gain
Info:  Beautiful waterfall that is over 200 feet tall!  It's a fairly even up-and-down hike on a slightly narrow trail.  Once you get to the waterfall, you can hike down a pretty steep part to the bottom of the falls and there is a nice area to sit and have a snack, and if it's hot outside, enjoy the spray from the waterfall.  This hike goes off from the same trailhead parking area as Timpanogos Falls, Emerald Lake, and Timp Summit- (Aspen Grove TH).  This has a separate trail to the south of the other.
Additional Info and directions to trailhead:

Fifth Water Waterfalls & Hot Springs
Location: Spanish Fork Canyon
Distance: 4.5 miles round trip
Info: Locally known as the "hot pots", this is a popular destination.  I've heard people tend to hang out in the pools nude, so be prepared for that if you're bringing kids, or try to go at off-peak times.
Additional Info & Directions:

Timpanogos Cave
Location: American Fork Canyon, Utah
Distance: 1.5 miles, steep
Elevation: 1,092 ft elevation gain, total elevation: 6,730 feet
Info: strenuous, steep, but paved and short.  Smaller children may struggle a bit or take a longer time.  To take the tour of the cave, you have to buy tickets.
Additional info: Cave tour and stuff (National Monument website)

The Y
Location: Terrace Drive in Provo, Utah
Distance: 2.4 miles round-trip, steep
Info: Fun hike for kids cause they get to climb on the Y, and it's fun to eat lunch up there.  The trail is pretty wide and well-maintained, but it's rather steep so beware of that.  Nice views of Utah Valley and Utah Lake from up there.
Additional Info and directions to trailhead:

Moderate: Steepness Practice

Big Baldy
Big Baldy is the large round peak spanning between Battle Creek Canyon and dry Canyon (labeled)
Location: Orem/ Pleasant Grove, Utah
Distance: about 5 miles round trip
Elevation: 3200 ft elevation gain
Info: This can be hiked from either the Dry Canyon trailhead in Orem, or the Battle Creek trailhead in Pleasant Grove.  When I do it, I'd like to start at one and end at the other to get the full range of scenery.
Additional information:  On

Y Mountain
Location: Terrace Drive in Provo, Utah
Distance: 6 miles round trip
Elevation: 3346 ft gain, 8,522 total
Info: The hike to the Y can be extended to go to the summit of the mountain.  The trail sounds a little complicated, so be sure to look at the directions and maybe see if you can find a good map.
Additional Info & directions:

Mount Olympus Summit
Location: Wasatch Blvd, Salt Lake City (about 4500 S)
Distance: 7.5 miles round trip
Elevation: 4100 ft gain
Info: Beautiful hike, very steep
Additional Info & Directions:

Moderate: Distance Practice
Squaw Peak
Location: Provo, Utah
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation: 2709 ft elevation gain, 7876 total peak elevation
Info: This hike heads up the popular and beautiful Rock Canyon in Provo, Utah, and then goes around the back side of this peak until it comes to the front and heads to the peak.  I have gotten about 3/4 of the way up this when we ran out of water, so make sure you take plenty of water!  I'll be taking my 3 L Camelbak and maybe a bit more.  (I drink a lot of water!)
Additional Info: Directions and trail info at rockcanyonutah.

Squaw Peak is the jutting point to the left of Rock Canyon, right about the middle of the picture

Emerald Lake
Location: Aspen Grove Trailhead, Provo Canyon
Distance: 9.6 round trip
Elevation: 3500 ft gain
Info:  This is going up the Mount Timpanogos trail but ending before heading to the summit.  (Only 2 more miles/ 1100 ft elevation gain from here to the summit of the mountain.)  It is a pretty area, a great "practice run" for the real thing.
Additional Info: This link has great details on the hike to timp, including a bunch of stops on the way.

Strenuous: The Goal
Mount Timpanogos Summit
Location: Aspen Grove Trailhead in Provo Canyon, or Timpooneke Trailhead in American Fork Canyon
Distance: 15 mile round trip, Timpooneke
Elevation: 11,700 total, 4,800 ft gain
Mount Timpanogos

Info: I plan to take the Timpooneke trailhead.  The difference from what I understand is that the Timpooneke is 1 mile longer each way but less steep than Aspen Grove.  That is one reason I will take the other trail, but also because I plan to take a separate hike to Emerald Lake via the Aspen Grove trailhead earlier in the season, so this way I will get to see pretty much all the scenery both trails have to offer.
Apparently I only have pictures of Timp with snow on it!  I look forward to getting some new pictures when I go. :)
Timp in the early winter- view from Alpine Loop

Additional Info:
Timpooneke trailhead:
Aspen Grove trailhead:

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I'm an endangered species (Eating Disorder Awareness Week)

From all my life experiences, observations of those around me, taking in the messages from the media, talking to neighbors and loved ones, I have finally come to this conclusion:

I am a member of an endangered species.

What species you ask? "Fat woman who is not trying to become less fat." And I don't just mean that I'm "between diets" or just not trying to lose weight right NOW. I mean I honestly don't care about losing weight anymore, ever. I don't own a scale. I don't weigh myself. I eat what I like. I exercise and play cause I love it. If I don't like it or it makes me feel icky, I don't do it.

I've spent my time being on the other species, actually several other species. Let me paint a picture of the different species I have been a member of, in chronological order, although this is a VERY truncated version. Believe me, there are millions of women in each of these species. (Please note I'm using the phrase "fat girl" throughout, even though I am a woman, not a girl, but this started when I was a girl. And "fat" is not a value judgment, it is just a trait, like short or tall. I don't use this phrase as an insult, so please don't take it in that way.)

Thriving Species
Average girl who thinks she's fat.
Average girl who eats emotionally and becomes actually fat.
Fat girl who is actually, physically addicted to sugar and comfort eating.
Fat girl who knows that being fat is completely unacceptable.
Fat girl who decides she won't be a fat girl anymore
Fat girl dieting.
Fat girl losing weight.
Fat girl failing.
Fat girl binging.
Fat girl deciding (again) it's not okay to be a fat girl.
Fat girl dieting.
Fat girl losing weight
Fat girl falling off the wagon (again).
Fat girl binging and becoming even more fat than when she started (the "yo-yo-ing up the scale" phenomenon)
Fat girl eating ANYTHING sweet just to get a fix, without knowing if she even likes the food that much.
Fat girl deciding it's not okay to be a fat girl.
Fat girl tired of not being loved, of not being desired, of not being "ok" cause she's fat. Being fat is not okay.
Fat girl giving up sugar entirely.
Fat girl detoxing from sugar.
Fat girl losing a LOT of weight.
Fat girl is now average girl.
Average girl missing out on food with family and friends.
Average girl exhausted from undernourishment and overexercise.
Average girl still not happy
Average girl reaching out to friends and making treats for a party.
Average girl falling off the wagon BIG TIME and eating all the leftover treats from the party.
Average girl gaining weight and continuing a 3-year-long binge "last supper" while still off the wagon. (Cause she knows she'll have to get back on the wagon soon, so she has to eat the stuff she loves NOW while she still can.)
Fat girl sick and tired of this cycle that has been repeated more times than she can count.
Fat girl wishing she was still the "fat girl" of a couple decades ago, when she was actually just average, instead of approaching morbid obesity. Why couldn't she just have been happy with that? She'd kill to be that "fat girl" again now. 

By the way... all that ^^ is not just a "normal" cycle.  It's very disordered.  Dieting is disordered eating, and contributes to actual eating disorders.  I have had an eating disorder for most of my life.  Yes, with an actual diagnosis by actual professionals.  Dieting mentalities contribute to eating disorders.

Here's where we begin to get into an evolutionary tangent that does not have as many women in it, and I have become more and more endangered, as I know precious few people who join me where I'm at.

Endangered Species
Fat girl starting to think: do I really want to count calories for the rest of my life? Do I actually LIKE jogging and doing exercise videos? (The answer is no.) Do I actually want to lose weight so I can appeal to the men and other people who I currently feel are shallow for ignoring me the way I am now? Why would I want to be associated with people that are shallow? Why do I even care about their opinion? Whenever I go to the doctor and get lots of tests and stuff, they always find that I am perfectly healthy, to my surprise since I'm so big. Can someone actually be fat AND fit at the same time? Am I actually okay the way I am? Can I go ahead and accept myself as-is, and stop punishing myself physically and mentally? How much stuff could I get done if I didn't spend so much time obsessing about food, calories in, calories burned, exercise, weight, dating, my looks, etc.? How much more attractive and happy would I actually be, just by becoming confident and content with myself?

This kind of thinking has eventually landed me in my current species:  Fat girl NOT trying to become less fat.

This revolution has taken a couple years. It began with a dedication to STOP dieting, and STOP weighing myself. I've been successful with that and am committed to it. My brain and body are still adjusting. I have gained a little more weight and then come to a stopping point since then. I'm no longer yo-yo-ing my way up the scale, I'm just stable where I am. I still eat a lot of foods I love, cause no food is off-limits.  But I don't eat junk just to get some calories or some sweetness out of desparation, I actually eat things I like.  I no longer hoard and hide food and eat thousands of calories in one sitting, in secret, cause it's so shameful to eat foods you like.  I eat out in the open and no longer try to hide.  I no longer binge.  And I do physical things I actually like- biking, swimming, playing with my kids, hiking.  I even tried snowshoeing recently which was a blast.  I do NOT jog or do exercise videos.

My brain and body are learning to trust the fact that food will always be there. I won't make it forbidden ever again. So there are still cravings there, and I do still believe there is a bit of a physical dependence on sugar (that's a whole different topic for another day if anyone is interested).  But I also LOVE a variety of foods, and nothing is "good" or "bad", it's just food, some of which makes me feel great and some doesn't make me feel that great so I cut back on or avoid those that don't feel good to my body.

This revolution for me though, is really about self-acceptance and changing my paradigm about body image, society, etc.  It's okay to be any size, just like it's okay to be any color.  If you use things like race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status in place of "fat", it really makes it clear what JERKS we are all being to ourselves and each other.

Fat girl decides it's not okay to be a fat girl.
Black woman decides it's not okay to be a black woman.
Gay man decides it's not okay to be a gay man.
Hispanic teenager decides it's not okay to be a hispanic teenager.

Do you see my point?

I see people all around me in various stages of that Thriving Species list.  Friends, colleagues, loved ones, going to extreme measures.  Exercising 10 times per week, tracking and counting every single bit of food they eat, having nothing but crackers for lunch, eating a total of 800 calories per day, making certain foods that they really love "forbidden", and so forth.  (For an explanation of why low-calorie diets are BAD for your body and your metabolism, you can see this post I did.)

I just wish these great people would realize how detrimental it is to be there, and instead join me here in my species.  Cause it's not just a species of NOT trying to lose weight.  It's the species of loving yourself, no matter what, and appreciating the GIFT that your body is, no matter what.  It's not about being unhealthy, or being fat, or "giving up" on something.  It's about loving yourself.  Respecting yourself.  Taking good care of yourself.

Change your evolutionary trajectory, it's not up to chance, it's your choice.  Choose to love yourself and see your body as a gift.  Use it as a tool to do all the AWESOME you have going on in your life.  Make your body your friend and ally.  To do that you have to stop treating it like the enemy.  Cause we're all friends here.

As my friend Lisa D'Alessio just beautifully said: 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Why I'm Not Making "Resolutions": A Case Against Dieting

I haven't made New Year's Resolutions for a long time, but I do still enjoy making goals for myself.  I do it twice a year, in January and July typically.  I write down goals of stuff I plan to do anyway, not lofty crazy things.  This year I plan to graduate from college!  Let me tell you about why I no longer follow the "New Year's Resolutions" crowd.

The scene may be familiar to you, you may have even done it yourself in the past few days.  You might be gearing up to do it right now!  The thinking goes something like this:

"Okay, self.  This is it.  We've been slovenly and stupid, but THIS is a new year!  This is THE year, this is OUR year, the year we ______[turn 25/ turn 30/ graduate from college/ stop being stupid]_____ and it's going to be the year we transform our body as well!  Let's DO this!"

Feeling all pumped up, you set out to make a goal real by writing it down and planning it out.  The actual goal is unstated and goes something like this: "transform my physical body into something unrecognizable but totally hot, sexy, and above all: acceptable to others."  For me this particular body has never existed since I've always been a fat girl, but I just knew it could exist.

So, time to get writing.  I knew I had to set SMART goals, which included being specific, having time limits, writing it down, etc. Mine were usually about like this: "Okay, I want to lose 100 pounds this year, that's just 2 pounds per week- that's totally healthy and doable!  So, I will completely stop eating all sugar and sweets.  It'll be hard but it's worth it and I can do it.  I will only eat 1200 calories per day and I might even lose weight faster than my goal, and be really looking good by summer!  And of course I will have to exercise, so I will work out 30 minutes, 6 days per week.  I'll swim Mon/Wed/Fri, jog and strength train the other days, and go on a big hike for an hour every Saturday,"  and so on, you get the idea.  I plan every detail and set helps in place, like trying to find workout buddies, getting into online support groups, buying a year gym membership ahead of time so I have no excuse there, maybe buy new running shoes (even though I hate running), throwing out all the sweets in my house, etc.  Environmental control.

These are great goals that I have envisioned a dozen times as the key to "releasing" the real me out of its fat suit prison.  But here was the problem.  They were lofty, they were a stark shift from what I had been used to, they were unsustainable, and in fact they were unhealthy and setting me up for failure.

How will your body react if your norm is to eat around 2,500 calories per day, and only a little walking as your physical activity, and you suddenly cut your food intake by HALF and jump up to a "perfect" workout regimen?  My body reacted like this, as would most:  "Holy crud!!  What the hell is going on?!!  We must be starving, and running to try to find food! What apocalypse is going on out there?  Oh man, this is it, this is the end.  Emergency!  Emergency!  Going to code red- crisis management mode!"  My body senses a sudden catastrophic world event on many January 1st's.

Now time for the science nerd in me to come out.  What happens physiologically while on a low-calorie diet that your body is not used to, is that all food coming in as much as possible will be stored as fat for later in case the emergency gets even worse, and muscle gets broken down to be used for quick energy.  Cause if you're in a crisis, keeping your brain well-fed, and planning for the worst is top priority.  Your brain is not able to use energy from fat, and if you are starving your brain by eating a severely low-calorie diet, muscle is the quickest way to get energy to your brain.  Your body doesn't really have a way to tell how much fat it already has stored so that it can "cap" it at a certain amount, which is why you can get very morbidly obese people.  Your body will just keep making more fat when it is in these crises even though you already have a lot, or when there is a plain old excess of energy coming in.  Losing that muscle lowers my energy and makes sustaining this plan much more difficult.

(That was the cliff-notes version.  If you would like more details on why your brain doesn't use up your fat and a basic run-down on how energy is metabolized in your body, I got you covered.  But I'll put it on my science blog so as not to bog this post down.  Click here for that.  Bio Geo Nerd: Your Metabolism Doesn't Know It's the New Year )

Think of it like a budget crisis.  You're going along with a good job, everything is good, then you lose your job.  You have no money.  You pare down your budget and only pay for the ABSOLUTE necessities, taking more and more out of the budget that you possibly can.  First you get rid of perks like entertainment, start getting things at thrift stores, eventually you might even have to sell your car and take the bus, or even lose your home.  Occassionally you get some money as a gift, and you stick all of it in your savings to help get through this crisis since you have no idea how long it will last, and you continue to live on the bare minimum and leave your savings alone.  This is crisis mode.  
And the worst part, is that doing this screws up my metabolism.  So when the diet fails cause I can't sustain starvation (duh), my body has now gotten VERY good at making fat.  And it keeps using that talent, especially now that I'm back up to my normal 2,500 calories per day average.  Going on that diet just doomed me to being BETTER at storing energy (fat).  Just like our budget analogy, if you were able to get through the crisis by being miserly with your money, you will continue those habits and can build wealth while living on almost nothing.  That's great if I'm going to end up walking hundreds of miles in search of resources that have disappeared due to some catastrophic natural disaster, but for me living in the 21st century and wanting to get fit and also be attractive to others, it's not good news.

And guess what?  I've done this to myself dozens and dozens of times!  I've been helping my body hone those skills to be metabolically conservative, and been getting fatter and fatter.  My metabolism is in a bad state for the world I live in.  And I did it to myself.  By dieting.  I have "yo-yo dieted" my way UP the scale for the past 2+ decades, and now here I am.

Food and my body have been the enemy. My mental state of being completely obsessed about food, weight, dieting, my body have caused an eating disorder of the mind.  Through much counseling and introduction to the book "Intuitive Eating", I realized I had to quit dieting for good, and also learning about the Physiology and Biochemistry of it clenched that.

So, I don't diet.  I don't make weight-related New Year's Resolutions.  There may be some people who have not screwed up their body as badly as I have. I hope you haven't restricted yourself to the point that your body and brain are starving, and your body has to develop the talent of living on a shoe-string calorie budget.  It does a good job of scrimping, saving, putting away every calorie it possibly can, like a true miser.  I can just imagine my metabolism as an Ebeneezer Scrooge- never putting coal on the fire, but instead, hoarding all the gold into the money bins of my fat cells.
So instead, I choose to live an abundant life.  Enjoy food, really enjoy it.  When I eat what I want and actually pay attention to how great it is, and when I don't make any certain foods "the enemy", I can enjoy the pleasure of eating without overeating, and without guilting myself into wanting those forbidden foods more.  When I deprive myself I end up eating a lot of stuff I don't even like just to get a sugar "hit" or try to satisfy cravings with low-cal junk that makes me more hungry.  I'm letting my body know I'm there to take care of it.  I'm not going to jerk it around anymore with deprivation-abundance cycles.  I'm regaining my body's trust, however long it takes. I'm just going to take care and enjoy life, and my body and I are going to be on the same side.

Me last October, RIDICULOUSLY excited to be out riding with my kids.
Have a blessed 2015!