Balancing My Buckets

My best friend from college texted me today asking for my top advice on how to start a blog.  While I hardly feel qualified to give her legitimate advice, one of the things I did tell her was to “just start.” How hypocritical of me to tell her to simply get something posted when I myself have only posted a whopping one blog post this entire month.  Granted, it’s mostly because I’ve got Vlogust happening over on my Youtube channel, but while that’s the truth, it’s also a totally reasonable excuse for me to hide behind. 

The truth is I’m trying really hard to find my “flow,” but it’s proving to be a struggle. The balance between blogger work and housewife work is quite frankly a little pretty difficult for me to figure out. If I’m being honest, without having a legit 8-hour work day income to show for the work I put into Diva and the Divine, it makes it difficult to prioritize putting in the crazy amount of work for such a small amount of payout when at the same time the whole housewife thing (which technically pays nothing, but it is, in fact, my job..for now) needs to take priority because my husband depends on me to be there. 

As a woman, there’s always this internal struggle to do what others expect of you first, often putting caring for yourself on the backburner. While this is only sort of the case for me, I still have several totally separate yet completely intertwined “buckets” that my activities and choices fall into. 

Bucket 1: Housewife

Being a housewife is truly a blessing. As you know, we don’t have any children (except for our dog, Gracie) and we are not planning on having any. This means that being a stay at home housewife is mostly just managing myself and my husband, which you would think would be pretty easy. Still, a 6.5 lb puppy makes messes and kicks up dust from who knows where, while my hardworking husband comes home and somehow manages to create more dirty laundry than I do, is often the reason I have to go grocery shopping more often than I would if it was just me, and the clutter that occurs between the two of us makes me feel like I could always be picking up, cleaning, or organizing something. Even without kids, housewifing can be a 100% full-time job. I honestly don’t know how you mommies do it. I know a handful of stay-at-home moms raising their beautiful kids, and I see some of what they post on Instastories (I have one friend in particular who posts the honest look at stay-at-home mommyhood and all its realness) and I salute you all. That job is not for the faint of heart.  And don’t even get me started on the mommies that also have jobs outside of the home. You all are the real MVPs, and I’m over here griping about how hard it sometimes is to manage a completely self-sufficient man (except when it comes to remembering where things are…that’s apparently solely my job) and a 6.5-pound pup. 

Now, in my defense, living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease often means that many tasks (I’m looking at you, folding laundry, deep cleaning, and grocery shopping) takes me a bit longer and uses up a higher percentage of my energy than the “normal” person, but still..even knowing that fact about my body I still want to be the woman who can accomplish it all. Spoiler alert: Odds are I won’t ever get there. I need to start accepting that as fact and moving on.

Bucket 2: Blogger

This is where I want to be spending most of my time. Do you have any idea how much time creating a blog post or a Youtube video actually takes? Odds are the answer is at least twice as long as you think it does. I can easily spend 6 hours at the computer finishing up a video and blog post. Not starting and finishing…we’re talking 6 hours on a project that’s already halfway complete. No, I’m not exaggerating. Putting in the work to make my brand as lucrative as I’d like (which is to say actually adding an impactful income to the family bank account) would mean that I’m working at minimum a 40 hour work week. I know that’s what most people do to begin with, but they actually have the cash flow to back up that work. I know, I’m complaining and my lack of success is likely due to poor time management, but I swear I am actively trying to get my head screwed on straight, a schedule in order, and actually make this what I want it to be. 

I am one of those people who is a lot of brainstorming with a significantly less amount of production to show for it. I have lists of ideas everywhere. I get giddy with excitement when I come up with a new title for a post that I’m sure is going to help someone or motivate someone. I love using my blog and channel to help people, and ultimately that’s what I want to do: Help others. However, I probably crank out one post for every 5 that I come up with. Even as I’m typing this word-vomit post my head is spinning with 42,057 other thoughts floating around in there trying to pull my focus. It’s what I deal with every single time I try to work. There’s a reason I went into music in college. Singing tunes out the crazy. Typing does not. 

Bucket 3: Chronic Dieter & Weight Watcher

This might sound silly giving weight loss a bucket all it’s own, but every single day it truly feels like it is it’s own highly time-consuming bucket. Not only do I want to spend time prepping meals, tracking calories or Points, and getting to the gym for myself, but it directly corresponds with bucket #2, as 95% of my followers consume my weight loss related content more than anything else. The fact that I haven’t gotten where I want to go yet in this arena infuriates me to no end, but I also believe there are some huge mental roadblocks here. My biggest one: If I hit my goal weight I won’t be able to talk about my weight loss journey anymore and people will stop watching/reading. Is this fact? It could be, but what a stupid reason to be mentally stalled out at achieving something so important to me. 

So what if people stop watching? Quite frankly, for one reason or another, my views have tanked on YouTube anyway (I fully blame something on YouTube’s end, but hey, it could be my fault too), so it doesn’t actually matter! The “worst” has already happened, and guess what? I’m still here, I’m still creating content, and the people that are meant to see it will see it, so stop screwing with yourself and just get it done. Then you’ll have an entire bucket that can just go away! Won’t that feel great?!

(Clearly, this is turning into a pep talk for myself)

What’s the point of my ramble? 

The point was to have something to publish today so the advice I gave to my friend wasn’t completely hypocritical. Even more importantly, it was to give all of you a little insight into the way my mind has been messing with me lately. As I typed out all of this, as legit as it all might be (or not), I see what I wrote as a giant list of excuses for why I’m not doing what I want to be doing. Am I being too hard on myself? Maybe. Am I actually spot on and these are all just excuses, and I just need to get it together and get things done? Very likely. Either way, it’s out in the open and you guys now know what the struggles are and you can keep me accountable to managing my time and tasks, and hopefully, I can balance my buckets better.

I am truly inspired by all of the women out there working hard, hustling towards their dreams, and raising little ones on the way. Kids or no kids, I want to be more like you, and that is what will motivate me to get up and try harder tomorrow. 

 

 

 

 

I Slept In Today

I know that’s a ridiculous title for a blog post, but it’s the truth. Because I failed to set an alarm last night when I went to bed (at 1:30 am…) I ended up waking up at 9:30 this morning. I’ve had a weird day ever since. 

If I’m being honest, I was initially pretty mad at myself for not setting that alarm, as I like to be up somewhere in the 7:00 hour because I like to have a leisurely morning of sipping coffee, poking at my phone, and doing morning reflections before I start my day.  However, it wasn’t long until I realized just how energized and motivated I felt. I poured some coffee (which I also failed to set up properly the night before) and headed straight to my desk to write in the guided journals I found at Michaels for only $3 yesterday. They had me setting goals, intentions, and gratitude, getting my head on straight, and creating a well prioritized  to-do list for the day.

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This Week’s Struggle Bus | The Diva Diaries

You know, before I went the “professional” blogger route and started curating totally informational content and worrying about how much reach and engagement my posts had, Diva and the Divine was a place for me to journal about life. It started as a place to do some professional stuff, sure, but it also acted as a place for me to talk about life updates and experiences so my friends and family could read it during my season away while my husband and I lived in North Carolina.  Today, I’d like to get back to those roots, because the struggle has been oh so real this week, and I feel the need to talk about it. 

All week long (it’s currently Thursday morning) I have been feeling terrible.  Terrible about myself, terrible about how little I’ve been getting done, moody, crave-y, and completely unmotivated to do anything other than sit on my butt and binge watch Will & Grace (I mean, the reboot starts tonight, so at least there is a legit reason behind that desire). Meanwhile, everything that I want to be in this ideal dream life I have for myself is the complete opposite of everything I’m currently being, feeling, and doing, and it’s really taking its toll. 

While all week has been a mess of these emotions, yesterday is when a light bulb sort of went off.  My vice amid all stressors is food.  Always has been.  After a solid 4 weeks of awesome weigh-ins (which I’ve been talking about over on Youtube), this week I went off the handle.  It wasn’t even a “just make a bunch of bad decisions every meal” type of situation, but it was almost worse than that.  I would eat really well planned and thought out meals, low in Smart Points and packed full of protein and nutrition.  If I would have stopped where I know I should have, I’d be on point for another week and likely seeing a loss on the scale.  Instead, I have been making horrible choices, typically right after one of my gloriously healthy meals.  For example, I have a bunch of awesome Trader Joe’s pumpkin goodies that I bought for a TJ’s Haul video, and I have a lot of the higher Smart Point items pre-portioned out so it’s easy to grab one portion, track it, and enjoy it…but have I been using my system the way it was intended?  Of course not! Instead, I have been taking several of those pre-portioned treats and indulging in them in one sitting,

The worst part of it all is that it’s a very conscious choice.  The few times I’ve done it I’ve actually stopped, acknowledged the fact that I was about to make a very deliberate choice to self-sabotage myself (which is something I do a lot…) and that I have the option to put the stuff down and walk away.  Instead of doing that, I found myself saying ” oh that’s nice… but F@!% it” and making the choice anyway. I think the fact that I completely made the mindful choice to self-sabotage myself is the part that I’ve been spending my time beating myself up over.  I’ve been doing so well for an entire month, praising the Weight Watchers plan’s flexibility and how I can make it work, and then completely going off the handle.   Of course, beating myself up over the one thing creates this downward spiral into a week that has just made me feel terrible. 

Last night, at my wit’s end over the fact I haven’t been motivated to do anything and then topping it off with that whole self-sabotage situation, I did something I hadn’t really done before. I decided to take the time and think about the why behind all of this misery I’m subjecting myself to.  Why was I doing this? What was the real reason behind these feelings?  

Then something totally unrelated and yet seemingly 100% related happened.  As I was sitting there watching WIll & Grace and trying to figure out what was going on with me mentally, I got a horrible, double over in pain cramp in my lady parts.  I call these “lighting cramps” because they show up full force, out of nowhere, and feel like painful electricity racing through my lower abdomen.  Since my IUD insertion, I’ve been using an app to track my time of the month, since I no longer had the pills to tell me exactly when my period was coming, so I immediately opened the app to see just how wrong the timing of this cramp was (I frequently end up with random cramps nowhere around the time of my period… my IUD experience has not been a positive one).  It said “next period in 5 days.” With a few exceptions in the 2 years I’ve had the IUD, the tracker has been pretty spot on with my timing.  How is this relevant to my rant?  

I know that since getting the IUD my PMS has gotten much worse than it has in the past. I like to believe that I experience most of my PMS symptoms a day or two before my period.  For some reason, since I was analyzing my emotions anyway, I decided to do a little research about women’s favorite thing (said with the most sarcasm ever): PMS. 

After a bit of Googling, I learned several things.  First of all, the onset of PMS symptoms isn’t just 2 days before but can start as early as 1-2 weeks before your period.  This puts me right in PMS prime time.  Lovely..

The second thing I discovered is PMS apparently gets worse with age.  I’m 30 now, so maybe I’m falling into that category of people. Perfect!

The last (and perhaps most relevant) thing I learned is that there is not only PMS, but a more extreme version of PMS called Premenstrual Dysporphic Disorder (PMDD), that has a larger emotional impact on women, and starts about a week before your period.  Symptoms include:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression or feelings of hopelessness
  • Intense anger and conflict with other people
  • Tension, anxiety, and irritability
  • Decreased interest in usual activities (I don’t want to blog, work, workout, or basically do anything I normally do)
  • Difficulty concentrating (!!!!!)
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Feeling out of control
  • Sleep problems (I often have sleep problems)
  • Cramps and bloating 
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Hot flashes

Everything bolded is what I’ve been dealing with emotionally this week…

Now, I’m not one to self-diagnose, but I’m also not one to want to add another medical problem to my plate, but this just seems to fit, right? I might be someone who has PMDD rather than PMS, which would explain all of the emotional battles I’ve been dealing with this week.

On the one hand, I can’t decide if the answer is to go to a doctor and get an official diagnosis (and then a legitimate treatment) or if I should try and figure out how to manage it on my own, fully understanding that there might actually be a reason behind my utter lack of motivation, self-control and general feeling of the blahs. Either way, I actually feel better knowing there is the potential to have an actual issue rather than it all being in my head and I’m just a general failure at life. 

All of that being said, today is a new day.  I’m feeling pretty positive about my ability to make good choices and resist the urge to give in to my bad ones.  Granted, 99% of the time mornings are never an issue. It’s lunchtime and beyond that, I need to worry about, but I’ll take that one moment at a time today, and while tomorrow’s weigh-in is likely to be dreadful, it will be time for some real talk over on my channel as well.  

Thanks for listening to my rant.  Do you have any thoughts, suggestions, or experience with anything I talked about today?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Self Sabotage

Self-SabotageSelf-sabotage: There’s no doubt that at one point or another, you’ve experienced a time when you’ve self-sabotaged yourself.  Lately, I’ve felt like I have managed to turn self-sabotage into a new art form.  It feels like it’s my calling, and let me tell you, I’m wickedly good at it.  The unfortunate reality is, of course, this “art form” is one that is doing me all harm and absolutely no good.

I decided to write about self-sabotage in terms of overeating, especially while I’m trying to lose weight, but before I started typing I did a quick Google search to see what the official definition of self-sabotage even was. According to Psychology Today, self-sabotage is

“behavior that creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals. The most common selfsabotaging behaviors are procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort eating, and forms of self-injury such as cutting.”

It turns out that, while some of the behaviors mentioned I have no issues with to speak of (I’ve never once thought about any self-injury or self-medication..other than via food of course), I realized that not only am I a true artist at the food thing, but I am the freaking master of procrastination.  I knew this about myself, of course, but didn’t necessarily equate it to my own personal form of self-sabotage, because I was so focused on the food thing.  However, it turns out that the only thing I do better than sabotage my healthy eating is procrastinating.  It’s no wonder I’ve felt stuck with the same goals and no progress for so long. Read more

Sunday Shenanigans | The Diva Diaries

It’s 8:30pm on Sunday night. Mister left for the airport a few hours ago (typically he doesn’t leave until Monday mornings), so it’s just me and my fur baby. Our shenanigans mentioned in the title aren’t all that crazy, as I’m already in pjs, makeup removed, and watching the latest episode of Shark Tank with Gracie on the couch sleeping next to me.  We Engebretsen ladies sure know how to party it up on a Sunday night, huh?  To be fair, in an effort to get a little bit of a headstart on my week, the kitchen is clean, I have a video rendering, and I’m working on a blog post, so all is not lost in my evening.  

I also need to get off my butt for a whopping 800 more steps to reach my step goal for the day, and I didn’t even go to the gym today!

Life in the WW arena was all about balance toady. I was way below points up until dinner, where I wanted to enjoy a bowl of Trader Joe’s organic creamy tomato soup. It’s only 4sp per cup and it is to die for delicious.  Since I had plenty of room for a bit more indulgence, I knew what I needed to pair with my tomato soup.  Any guesses??

 

If you guessed a grilled cheese sandwich, you were spot on.  After all, those two items were made for each other, don’t you think?

Since the only things in my kitchen that came anywhere close to ingredients for a grilled cheese was a high fiber wrap for 1sp and fat free shredded cheese, I decided the best answer was to hop over to Panera and order a sandwich from there, but it wasn’t just a regular grilled cheese.  Did you know you could customize that sucker to become a super tasty (and yes, calorie heavy) beast? My sandwich was made on sourdough bread with white cheddar, parmesan and gouda cheeses, crumbled bacon, and tomatoes. Imagine dipping that baby into a bowl of hot tomato soup.  It was so good.  It wiped me of the rest of my points for the day, but you know what? SO worth it.  Sometimes you just need to have some yummy comfort food, and having to say goodbye to my husband a mere 48 hours after he got home last while in the midst of what I can only guess are hormonally induced emotions…well, it didn’t take much for me to decide that this meal was the way to go.  

Since Panera is reasonably nearby, my bargain with myself is if I order from there, I walk to go pick it up, which I did, and I didn’t add any sweets to my order! Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind, but the sandwich was more than enough.  So… steps, no sweet treat, and a satisfying comfort food meal that I don’t feel at all guilty about.

Tonight’s final objective is to go to bed at a reasonable hour, get a solid night’s sleep, and start tomorrow with a hardcore workout and a perfectly on plan day.  

After all..a lifetime of healthy living is all about balance. 

Fat Tuesday | The Diva Diaries

Today is Fat Tuesday.  I never really liked the name “Fat” Tuesday, especially since becoming a Weight Watcher.  To me, it just seems like this day where we can basically toss all of our dieting rules out the window and be fat, and this bothered me for a few reasons. 

  1. One day of indulgence is not going to make you fat.  I repeat: One day of indulgence is NOT going to make you fat. You gain weight, I mean really gain, when it’s day after day after day of indulging.
  2. Those of us on a diet sometimes have a hard enough time controlling ourselves.  We need to A) not have a day that encourages us to throw everything out the window, and B) come to terms with the idea that we have the power to have a little indulgence in moderation worked right into our plan.  Going to the extreme is not necessary.

Now, all of that being said, I kind of did participate in the “fat” part of today.  First, I didn’t really track today, and I don’t even feel guilty about it, but that’s because of some of the decisions I made.  I had a regular breakfast (5 sp), but later in the day I got sidetracked with my niece before going to the gym, and that resulted in me getting hungry at my parent’s house, which never results in good choices (Note to self: get better at keeping a snack in your purse at all times.).  I treated myself to some crackers (I did choose Triscuits over the buttery onion crackers) and this amazing spreadable cheese my mom gets from the Amish bakery when it visits her work every few months, and followed that up with a handful-ish of peanut M&Ms.  Rockstar move..I know. 

Every year on Fat Tuesday there is a pancake dinner at my church (the Lutheran church.  My YouTube subscribers know that I regularly attend 2 churches.  I call one the “Little Lutheran Church” and the other is “the bigger, contemporary church”), so it’s ingrained in me to have pancakes for dinner on Fat Tuesday.  My original plan was to go to the dinner and enjoy regular old pancakes with my parents, but I was later informed they weren’t going, so I changed plans and made myself protein pancakes instead.  It was a much healthier option, but it was also followed up with a mini chocolate bar from Trader Joe’s.  It was delicious, indulgent, and worth every un-tracked bite.  At least I’m keeping the healthy and unhealthy choices pretty balanced.. Gold star for that. 

Fat Tuesday also means so much more than a day of indulgence.  Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent beginning.  Lent is regarded in the Christian faith is a time for repentance, renewal, and typically some form of sacrifice, which is why many give something up for Lent. It’s the start of the 40 days leading up to Easter, aka the whole reason our belief system exists. It has been quite a few years since I’ve chosen to give something up for Lent, but instead, I’ve been choosing to add something to my day, sacrificing my time in an effort to spend more time with God (I wrote a whole post on this several years ago). This year, Lent conveniently coincides with my discovery of a new (to me) weight loss book that mixes faith along with diet called Made to Crave.  I’m halfway through it (since starting the audio book yesterday..I couldn’t stop listening) and I think its message is perfectly timed for me to use this new way of thinking about healthy living alongside the Lenten season.

In a nutshell, this book talks about as humans we are made to crave, but where we should be craving God, we’ve replaced that desire for other things like material possessions, alcohol, sex, drugs, popularity, and of course, food. The book talks about how this desire to lose weight and get healthy can also be (and should be) a spiritual journey to get closer to God.  If we fill our cravings with God, there will be no room to be ruled by food.  If we focus on our obedience to God and how he would want us to treat our bodies, which are a gift from him, we can more easily overcome our physical and emotional setbacks and get up and moving.  

To many of you, it may sound like a bunch of crap, and if that’s the case, then maybe this isn’t for you, but something in this book clicked for me, and I am so excited to take this new approach to my weight loss.  Starting tomorrow, it isn’t about eliminating one thing for Lent.  It’s about seeking to be more obedient to God by taking better care of this body he gave me.  I want to get better about eating more whole foods and less sugar (perhaps by giving up regular indulgences like candy and non-WW friendly goods in the process). I want to focus on getting stronger and more functional rather than just thinner.  While this adventure of mine will last more than the duration of Lent, these 40 days will definitely give me a great start.  

Here we go.

 

The Diva Diaries First Post

Well hello there. Welcome to a brand new section of my blog that I’ve decided to call “The Diva Diaries.” I was inspired by the book I’m currently reading, The Adventures of Dietgirl, to start a journaling section of the site that I can basically treat like a much less formal (I know my blog isn’t “formal” anyway,) place where I basically write as if I was writing in my notebook journal.  The book is the story of one woman’s weight loss journey all written in journal entry format, and the more I read, the more I was feeling compelled to do something similar.

I’m not sure what you can expect from my Diva Diaries posts because it’s a journal, so it’s going to be whatever is on my mind. My goal is to center it around my ongoing weight loss journey, but you never know where my mind might go.  What I can promise is plenty of struggles, discoveries, victories, failures, and everything else that goes into this crazy little thing called life 

On Tuesday’s vlog, I decided to ask if you would like to see some more journal type entries from me, like what I was reading in the book, and there were enough people who said yes that I decided it was a go!  So last night I created an image, and the Diva Diaries was born.  

I weigh in tomorrow, so things will officially start then!