I mean...what's not to love?

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Girl Who Gets Her Training On Track And Avoids Donuts

I’ve had a good month. My training is basically on track apart from a few blocks of days due to illness and travel. I’ve been watching my sugar intake (I’ll never do one of those detoxes, but because of the emotional instability I suffered even attempting one, I knew sugar was a strong influencer on my moods) and making sure my calories pack the nutrition I need for my training. I’ve been limiting my nightly beers to the weekend or the periodic week night. Nothing whatsoever has actually changed on the scale, but I look in the mirror and like what I see because I like who I am when I’m NOT looking in the mirror.

But man…when I am struggling to find time to be active and the gray mood sets in and I console myself with donuts and beer…I feel with 100% of my heart, mind and soul that I am the ugliest and grossest person on the planet.

Again…the scale doesn’t have to change AT ALL. I don’t even have to have put on any weight to feel like a fat slob. Although I know the cycle well enough to know the pounds will come, but they don’t have to come before I change the outlook on my body. And sometimes the gray moods sets in first and that mood is what keeps me from being active and then that just spirals the whole system towards the individual servings of cake that Publix sells by the cash registers.

The funny thing is, when I’m falling down one of those unhealthy spirals of hatred and shame, there’s a part of me that KNOWS how connected everything is. How I need to be active and avoid these sugar binges and daily beer and that if I don’t…I suffer terribly emotionally. I know this with every logical part of my brain. BUT…if someone (like my husband) reminds me of that I will DENY THE CONNECTION WITH EVERY BREATH.

NO! It’s because I’m missing Dad. It’s because I haven’t gotten any sleep. It’s because our house isn’t selling. It’s because the kids are misbehaving. GOING FOR A RUN WILL SOLVE NOTHING.

YET! Every time I get it all on track and I feel better…those other things are often still there. I only got 5 hours sleep last night. I’ve been missing Dad a lot lately. Our house didn’t sell and is now off the market. All of those things depress me greatly but I can handle them and stay at a more level emotional existence when I’m also working out regularly and avoiding sugar and nightly beers.

So, if you see me and I’m in my gray period and not running and possible hiding in my van and eating donuts…just know there’s no point it telling me to stop with the sugar and go for a run. I’m going to hate myself and hate you for suggesting the thing. BUT IT IS THE TRUTH.

I think I just want my emotions to be more complex that that. I want my body image to be something that relates to a journey and a system of checks and balances but you know what? It’s just very simple. If I avoid sugar and nightly beer and get my workouts in? I can walk past a mirror and think, “Damn, girl. Looking cute!” But if I’ve been getting too much sugar and not being active and having 2 beers before bed…I don’t even like to go in public with my husband because I feel like the only thing anyone thinks when they see us is: What is the prince doing with that troll?

Some people might say it’s all the sugar and I might not argue with that. I’ve learned how sugar affects my mental stability by trying to give it up. I can’t even do those detoxes because the one time I tried I fell into too deep of a depression. This is obviously a sign of how addicted I was/am, but I just can’t give it up 100%. But, I avoid the bowl of chocolate at work and go for the hard candy. I’ve been grabbing Larabars instead of the cheaper granola bars. So I’m keeping under control, but I’m not giving it up cold turkey.

I feel good. It feels nice to feel good. The numbers on the scale haven’t moved and that dress I want to wear in two weeks still has bulges in unflattering places but I like myself in it because I’m feeling good about myself in general. The trick is being aware of that and avoiding the missteps that lead me down the spiral. Yesterday was one of those almost-misstep days. The pressure in my sinuses was killing me so much my eyes hurt and when I don’t feel good I want to eat to console myself. I had a few beers with Sunday dinner which already had me feeling a little sluggish so I did eat more than usual at lunch…but I tried to at least make it healthy binging. I was already considering skipping my Tuesday morning date with the treadmill. Then a friend needed a running buddy and it was perfect because she’s been going through the same stuff – the I NEED A WORKOUT OR I GO CRAZY stuff – so that run kept me from falling into that pit of despair. I’m up early enough now to get my 6 miles in before work, and I didn’t consult my sugar addiction in a dark parking lot last night.

It’s exhausting keeping it in check sometimes. But I have to keep an eye on all of the unhealthy emotional triggers in my life because it kinda all needs to be in balance for me to stay above the gray. I’m glad I’ve been able to do that lately, teeter in the gray direction but shift other parts of my life (maybe get more sleep that night, or eat super healthy) to try to get the whole system back level. I’m not depriving myself of anything, I sometimes have that nightly beer, I sometimes enjoy a donut…but I’m just trying to keep it balanced and continue being active.

Because it feels good to love yourself, you know? That self-hatred thing is exhausting.

I mean...what's not to love?

I mean…what’s not to love?

The One Where I Publish A Blog Entry About The Blog Entries I Didn’t Publish.

I woke up at 3:15am this morning but don’t need to be at the Y at 5am to run so I have all of the extra time and you know what I did? I wrote two blog entries – long and complex entries – and abandoned them both in the draft folder.

One entry was me trying to vent a little about how we never can make any progress on reducing the number of mass shootings in this country because we’re too busy staking claim on the SIDE of the debate. I’m a peace-loving pacifist and I’ve seen some legislation I won’t support, but we can’t seem to discuss it because you either love guns and hate Obama, or you want to take all the guns away and love terrorists. And complex legislation with amendments added on to appease opponents makes it so that there’s very little that either side could ever fully-support, so we’re basically treading water an never getting anywhere. WE ALL WANT TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF MASS SHOOTINGS…but we can have reasonable discussions about it because no one will listen to anyone not on their side.

But I abandoned the entry because I couldn’t seem to really work it into a point and it was long and rambling and…DRAFT! Save that for another day.

The second entry had me talking about the different versions of myself. The “TODAY I CHOOSE JOY!” Zoot, the Gray Gloom and Doom Zoot, and the In Between Zoot. But it got a little weird and it was basically me just talking to myself and I couldn’t get the groove going so…DRAFT! Save it for another day.

Basically I had about 90 extra minutes to blog this morning and it’s time for me to click “publish” and all I have is this entry talking about the posts I left in draft.

But then it occurred to me that this is the point. I just sit down every weekday morning (and some weekends) and write because that is how I start my day. Since January of 2004 this has been – more or less – my routine. I have to write, and I have to publish something. It’s such an interesting compulsion, that I’d rather write something about not being able to write anything, than not write anything at all.

So…here is the crappiest entry ever published on this blog. Or the most meta entry I’ve ever published. Sorry neither of the other two entries panned out and that somehow I thought this would be better than either of those.


How Rob Lowe Helped Me With My Self Esteem

I’ve bragged a million times about how much I adore the Nerdist Podcast. Because they’re all long-format interviews, which most notable people aren’t used to, you can really stumble into some wisdom from unexpected sources. The most recent gem was regarding self esteem and I learned it from Rob Lowe.

He was discussing at first how frustrating it is to hear someone reference someone else’s low self esteem as though it were a problem that could easily be fixed. He said someone told him that his problem because of his low self esteem and he joked that he was like, “Great. And how do I fix that?” because it’s always declared like there is an obvious fix. “Oh! That’s just low self esteem!” It was funny, but isn’t it so true? We tend to throw that out a lot as the “reasons” people make certain decisions, but it’s not that easy of a thing to fix.

He then mentioned how he was 50’ish before he learned the trick to having high self-esteem. He talked about how a friend told him you have to make decisions for yourself that you would make if you had high self-esteem and eventually your outlook on yourself will improve because you’re basically treating yourself better. He joked how it seemed so obvious but he hadn’t really thought of it like that before.


I often think about how my general confidence has improved greatly the last few years and I know it has a lot to do with my new social life and my new active life that I’ve pursued since Dad died in 2009. But I never really understood the cause/effect relationship of those things until Rob Lowe pointed it out. I was forcing myself to do things that someone who loves themselves would do. I found healthy hobbies to pursue that keep me active. I found peer groups that surround me with love and support. I dedicate time to things that filled me with joy and energy instead of stripping it all away.

I’ve even notice I did it with my entertainment choices. I watch way more scripted television that I do reality TV now – and I think that’s because reality TV always kinda made me feel bad about myself. Partly because I was finding entertainment in what had to be negative impact on someone else’s life (I’m not sure many who go on a reality TV show ACTUALLY ends up better in the long run because of it.) and partly because I was boosting my own ego by comparing myself to the idiots on my TV…and that’s never a good way to build esteem.

I think about how I spend my energy every day, and how right now I do so much more FOR myself than I ever did before. I don’t think I ever made the decision, “I’m going to live my life as if I love myself…” but that’s exactly what I accidentally started doing and so I have been reaping the benefit for years now. The benefit of actually starting to love myself.

At least much more than I have in the past. I’ve suffered from self-hatred in the past, and it’s really been a long time since I’ve had any of those moments of true self-loathing. I can’t even remember the last time, to be honest.

I’m still hard on myself, and I still get frustrated with some of my choices in life, but 99% of those relate to my own body image and my relationship with food. SO! I decided yesterday to start thinking more like Rob Lowe when it comes to how I treat my body. Treat it as though I love it, even if the love isn’t quite there yet. I was actually listening to the interview while on the treadmill so I stuck it out the full 6 miles even though I had already been contemplating stopping at 6. I stood stronger yesterday in the attempt to give up Diet Coke than I have recently. When I wanted a treat I made a relatively healthy choice since I’m emerged in 100K training now and my body needs GOOD energy, not sugar which is quickly burned.

I’m also going to try to apply Rob Lowe’s method to improving my feelings about my body and my relationship with food. Am I super-stressed and wanting to hide in the Publix parking lot and eat 6 donuts (a situation that arises at least once a week)? Well, is that a decision I would make if I loved my body? Maybe during the off season, but not when I’m also trying to get my body ready for a 100K. And also – what would better help my anxiety? Because if I truly love my body and myself then I want to ease my anxiety and the donuts always make it worse later. In the moment? BLISS AND COMFORT. But then an hour later? I hate myself.

Instead I would like to color. Or play in my bullet journal. Or read. Something else to distract me from the downwards spiral and allow me to level out and calm down. If I loved myself, then those are the decisions I should make. And since I want to love myself, I should make those decision and know that the love grows from those type of decisions. I’ve grown to love myself over the years of facing my social anxieties and finding groups to help motivate me to stay active, I just need to apply those same efforts to my body and my spirit so that I can heal those parts of my bruised and battered esteem.

So…on days where I just lose all love for myself and am riddled with anxiety and want to drink 4 beers and 10 donuts just to soothe the frayed nerves (because it all does soothe it momentarily) I’m going to try to look at it like Rob Lowe does.

Is this what I would do if I loved myself in this moment? No. Because if my friend was suffering I would try to counsel her to try things like therapy or meditation or medication or art or…I would not tell her, “Hey! Go have 4 beers and 6 donuts! It will totally make you feel better!” And I should try to give myself that same counseling I would give a friend that I love.

Thank you, Rob Lowe. For being a little bit like Chris Traeger, even in your real life.



Awkward Zoot Can’t Sleep

We’ve all discussed our own social anxieties before, and how it turns us into homebodies…right? So I can jump right into my stories from The Night I Did Two Social Things In One Evening without any preface?

I’ll give a little bit of preface.

I have intense social anxieties that – for years – kept me as a homebody. I have made parabolic improvement since 2009 and many people tell me now that they’re shocked I even have social anxieties, but if they could have seen me tossing and turning in bed last night? They would have believed me.

I had TWO…yes, TWO social obligations last night. ON A WEDNESDAY NIGHT! I’M SO POPULAR!

But the problem is, after any social event, I need some sort of tranquilizer to calm my brain which spends the hours after I leave replaying EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT. and analyzing it for Stupid Things I Said And Did. And last night? Last night I had TWO events to analyze.

Luckily they were both events filled with people I have gotten to know quite well over the years, which helps. Events where I know NO ONE always create a much stronger post-event anxiety. BUT SITLL! I got home late (after 10pm) and had gotten up at 3:30am so I was REALLY tired but could NOT go to sleep because I just kept analyzing things I said and did all night. Was that a dumb thing to say? Did that sound offensive? Was that rude?

If you don’t suffer from social anxieties you’re sitting here thinking: That’s awfully self-absorbed. No one thinks about you that much.

But if you do suffer from social anxieties, then you have cataloged all of the times you heard someone complain about someone else being rude or dumb or offensive (because there are people who have done that) and you catalogued it and now assume that type of person is at every gathering you go to, waiting for you to screw up. Logically, we know it’s not something to really worry about. Especially if these people are already our friends and like us. BUT YOU CAN’T TURN IT OFF WITH LOGIC. So you toss and turn and try to think about ANY OTHER THING but that thing you said that maybe was really stupid. And did you talk to that other person enough? And should you have offered that thing? And did you call that person the right name? And the most common Zoot awkwardness of all: SHOULD YOU HAVE GOTTEN THAT EXCITED?

(I am super-excitable.)

So I was really tired having been up from 3:30am to 10pm and run 6 miles and worked a full day and gone to TWO social engagements yet STILL…STILL…I couldn’t sleep.

IMG_0086I did eventually try to shift to zen mode. I got a surprise in the mail yesterday. This shirt that says “Today I Choose Joy” which is one of my FAVORITE mantras and I wore that shirt last night and it did bring me so much joy! And I got to spend time in two of my favorite circles: My beer drinking athlete friend circle, and my book club circle. Two circles I’ve found since I’ve gotten the courage to escape Social Anxiety Jail and braved making friends. And I started to breathe deep last night and lie still and really meditate on that: I have wonderful friends. Friends who don’t care if I’m awkward, they might even love me BECAUSE of it. I have people in my life who know me well enough to send me PERFECT SHIRTS. I have enough friends to have TWO events on a Wednesday night that I did NOT want to miss. I faced the social anxieties head-on and became part of some wonderful communities and instead of obsessing over stupid things I said or did, I tried to just breathe in the blessings and try to calm down.

I’m not sure if that worked or if I was just SO TIRED I eventually passed out.

Either way? I stopped tossing and turning and Awkward Zoot Who Is Social Awkward…finally fell asleep.


31 Days of Bullet Journal Joy

Another bonus entry for my bullet journal peeps! An instagram photo challenge for October.

For October! 31 Days of Bullet Journal Joy. #bulletjournal

A photo posted by Zoot (@bulletjournaljoy) on

1) monthly outlook What does your monthly page look like?

2) page you consult most Which page do you flip back to the most often?

3) fave writing implement Pen? Pencil? Fountain pen?

4) do you doodle? If so, let me see!

5) show me your index What does your index page look like?

6) how do you plan ahead? If you have an upcoming event without a monthly page yet…what do you do with it?

7) healthy habits Do you use your bullet journal to log food? Exercise? Meal plans?

8) when do you plan? Do you plan your next day at night before bed? Or in the morning over coffee?

9) bookworm Do you have a Books To Read list? Or Books I’ve Read? Or Book release dates of note?

10) gift giving Do you keep lists for gift ideas?

11) big project page Show me a big project you’re working on.

12) OOPS. What do you do when you mess something up? White out? Washi tape?

13) your professional life Do you bullet journal for work?

14) your personal life Do you bullet journal personal events?

15) show me your stash I want to see where you keep your supplies!

16) do you tab? What do you use tabs for? What kind do you like?

17) favorite journal Moleskine? Leuchtturm1917?

18) dots, grid, lines or blank?! What type of paper do you like?

19) stickers: yay or nay? Do you decorate your pages?

20) the mundane Grocery lists? Chore lists?

21) travel plans Do you plan trips with your bullet journal?

22) shelf of glory! Show me where the bullet journals go when they’re full!

23) want to washi? How do you use washi tape?

24) colors Do you use one color of ink per page? Do you like color at all?

25) keepsake pages Do you save things on your pages from events – like programs or movie tickets?

26) dear diary Do you write in your bullet journal about your day?

27) protecting the goods Do you have a cover of some sort?

28) to do Just your basic To Do list

29) wish lists Show me your wish list

30) hand lettering Do you hand letter anything?

31) how full is full? Show me a FULL bullet journal.