There’s Always Time for Truth

A couple of months ago, WordPress emailed to say my subscription was due – to renew my domain name so I could still own refractionofmelia.com and use it. I ignored it for a long time because I had not written in it for so long and had forgot I even owned a blog. But I renewed it, thinking that one day I might write in it again. I guess that’s today.

It has been a year. Almost to the dot – I looked at my last post and it was August 10th of last year. I do not even know how to begin the update. Probably 100 million things have happened in the last 12 month to my health, running, weight, mental health, emotional well-being, and family & friends. It’s just too much for one post. Hell, it might be too much for one blog.

So I will start slow. I can’t guarantee I’ll be here every day writing nor that it will always be exciting. It might actually be depressing and sad and infuriating sometimes but I promise you it will be a story of a journey from top to bottom to even lower than bottom to practically burned to ashes. But it will include success, too. And resurrection. And stories of the most amazing friends and family and forgiveness and support that you will have ever heard. And truth. I promise it will be nothing but honest.

Honesty Truth #1:

Sometimes It Really Sucks To Lose Weight

Honesty Truth #2:  

You Learn Who Your Friends Are When You Set Your Life On Fire

Honesty Truth #3:  

Stubbornness Causes Cortisone Shots

Honesty Truth #4:

You Have To Just Breathe

I started this blog years ago about being obese, losing weight, and trying to run a half marathon. I will now have to begin again with a brief update. Later I will write more about my Honesty Truths listed above but for now, you should know that I am no longer obese. I have in fact lost 100lbs and after being a size 22/24, I am now a 9 or an 11 depending on what type of clothing I am wearing. I will talk about how I did it and how (unhealthily so) quickly I did it and everything & everyone who played a part in that journey. But not today. Today I will end by saying that I hope you’ll read about my journey and comment and question along the way – I don’t mind answering your questions. Today I will end with a photo that is my before/after – the me on the left is at a conference in July 2013 and the me on the right (yes, with a guy dressed as Austin Powers) is at a conference this July 2014. Today I will end with telling you that this blog is going to be about so much more than weight loss and exercise and running – it is now about how I survive/d the fight with demons.

before after

end of summer thoughts

So in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a blogging hiatus. I meant to get on here and explain why and then just didn’t have time. When I started blogging again a few months ago, part of the reason was to dedicate myself to some “just me” time and allow myself to focus on me and not work or other things. I had let my life get to a point where there was never any time for me and I wanted to change that.

And then, well, this summer has completely changed my life. In the last couple of months I’ve gone from work, work, work to still doing a lot of work, but a lot of taking care of me and myself as well. So many things, ideas, plans, and goals have changed in my life just since spring. A lot of the change has been positive and involved be taking care of myself physically – which in itself is time consuming. With the arrival of my son here this summer and our goal of running the 5K together, along came many hours of training with him on top of my own running schedule. I also added in a personal trainer, which involved more hours of my time. Then I decided that I was going to start making better, solid, healthy decisions for my health and family and well, there goes almost every hour of my day.

Now the summer is almost over. My son goes home this coming weekend – one week from today. It’s my least favorite weekend of the year and every year on the drive back from Nebraska, I cry. I’m an excellent “drive-through-the-tears” driver. You would think that after 11 years I would get used to it, but I don’t – it never gets easier. And in only a couple of weeks, the semester starts again and my mad crazy of awesome begins at work again. My goal through all of this is to not stop taking care of me. I’m thrilled with how I feel and the results that I can see from training and living healthier and I have no intention on stopping – but it will be a struggle. I’m kinda notorious for working 60+ hour work weeks during the school year and my challenge will be to find a way to balance that with my fitness regime I’ve got going on. I have faith in myself though and I also have one hell of a support system at home (seriously – I have no idea why this man I live with puts up with me and my “hey, guess what I want to do now?” ideas lol).

This is me saying then that I won’t be here as often. Definitely not every day but I will keep in touch with updates and struggles as always. And photos – I so love doing photography that I want to continue doing photo posts. That’s all for now – talk to you all soon. 🙂

if nothing ever changed…

…there’d be no butterflies.

Totally the motto of my life right now. This evening I realized how crazy different my life has become – even from just a few short months ago. So, let’s play this game. Six months ago, I never thought I would be the kind of person who:

  • runs over 30 minutes straight at a time, more than once a week.
  • can only work through problems in her mind by going running to process them all.
  • runs in the morning, afternoon, or evening without caring who saw her.
  • actually leaves a park and runs in the street and on sidewalks in neighborhoods.
  • goes to the fitness center or goes out running while traveling.
  • eats food for fuel and not just because “it is time to eat”.
  • doesn’t really crave the sugary desserts anymore.
  • actually gives up coffee and caffeine for the most part.
  • drinks huge amounts of water every day.
  • actually carries a water bottle with her all day.
  • works out twice a day.
  • hires a personal trainer to actually LEARN how to do shit properly.
  • just doesn’t give a shit what people think about her in her spandex running shorts.

It all just seems crazy to me. Crazy good, but crazy nonetheless. I honestly love my life right now. Truly. Not just the health and fitness part either – I have so many great things happening for me right now that I am feeling just really and truly blessed. 

thinking about change

I’ve been thinking almost all day about change – how life has a tendency to throw changes at you along the way. I think sometimes we get zoned out in our life – like we’ve been traveling on the interstate for hours across the midwest, not really thinking about where we’re going – just knowing that we’re going somewhere, that we have a destination. And then, you drive over the hill and bam! there’s construction, a detour, or the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever seen – and you wonder to yourself, “how did I not see this coming?” or “were there signs along the way that I missed?” or some other questions that you make you think that maybe, just maybe, you’ve been zoned out for too long. It’s time to start taking a look around and thinking about where you are, what kind of trip you’re currently on, and where it is that you’re going.

That’s where I’ve been today. Lost somewhere so deep in reflection that I seem to have missed most the day. But I think it’s important to take time to stop and look at where you are and really, really paying attention to the changes that are upon you and deciding if you’re up for the challenge. Or if it’s time to pull over and just enjoy the view of the road ahead of you.  🙂

Changing Directions and Refocusing (for billionth time)

My life runs at me in so many different directions sometimes that I lose control of what I am juggling. In the past, what rises to the top of the priority list is work, family, and friends – and what sinks to the bottom as if connected to cement blocks was always, always, ME time. Or my personal endeavors. Or personal interests. Or personal goals. Or … you get the idea. Not surprisingly, one of the first things to go is always this blog.

I find that fascinating actually – here I am wanting to document my journey in a way that is both meaningful to me and also helpful to others, but still it falls. I could understand if it was only my personal journal, then of course it would sink because it was something just for me (sad, but true). But, I have always wanted this to be for two audiences: me and others. I plan to work harder on creating a more equal balance between the two and hope the two converge into one large drive to post regularly.

Of course a lot has changed in these last seven months – as things are always wont to do in my life. So I will try to catch you up a bit as we move forward. Most importantly, I have scheduled a whole lotta ME time in my day which has been wonderful. I am going to mark down “write blog post” in my evening scheduled time and post as I have tonight.

Just a note to say hello – with a few photos of my spring/summer pretend-photography-adventures. More to come.

vegan AND gluten-free? are you nuts?

Yes, yes I am. And I do really love nuts, thanks for asking. 🙂

As I’ve changed my eating lifestyle throughout the years, I’ve learned so much about my own body and how it handles certain types of foods. First of all, as I had long suspected, sugar is a killer. If I eat anything with sugar after 6 or 7 at night, I’m pretty much guaranteed to have one heck of a headache in the morning that nothing will get rid of quickly. I later chose to be vegetarian, and then vegan, for ethical reasons and learned along the way that my body really does not like meat nor dairy. This lesson was a hard one to learn because every time I fell of the vegan wagon and ate dairy or (sadly) meat, I would be sick. Really sick.

Some of that sickness was due to me pretty much being lactose-intolerant (this happens after you’re vegan for a long time) but there were many other health symptoms that came back. Issues that I had dealt with my whole life and assumed they were “just the way it’s supposed to be” but that went away when I was vegan. Probably the easiest example to give without going into too many details is acne – once I stopped eating meat and dairy, I pretty much stopped having issues with acne. Acne was a huge deal for me in my life and I’ve had it way past the teenage years timeframe that it’s known for – I had it through my 20’s and 30’s. But, when I watch what I eat, it goes away. If I stop eating vegan, it comes back. I can give you citations to research and science crap that will explain why so let me know if you’re interested in learning more – I’ll put my librarian hat on for you.

So why gluten-free also? Well, I have friends who either have celiac disease or have a strong intolerance to gluten. And there’s some research about how gluten affects your body that I could share with you as well (again, just ask me). But for me, when listening to others describe some of the effects and symptoms they’ve had before going gluten-free, I hear myself and I too would like them to go away. Therefore, I’m going to give it a try. This of course is going to be an interesting project and change for me. Thankfully, going vegan taught me how to cook and bake – and now, I will have to do this even more so I don’t end up buying unhealthy processed & packaged food.

One of my friends shared the blog Gluten-Free Goddess with me. And while perusing it (and falling in love with the recipes!!) I learned that the author also bakes vegan. She has a great “Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet” with helpful tips, including this gem:

“Baking gluten-free and vegan translates to one simple truth that is hard to teach. Because it can only be learned by experience. This one simple truth?

Unlearn everything you think you know- or thought you understood- about baking.”

The whole page and blog is wonderful (with great photos!) and if you’re interested in learning more, I would definitely recommend going there. I feel fortunate because I never really learned how to cook/bake before going vegan so I don’t have too many of the traditional ideas about baking to unlearn. But there are definitely some things there that I needed to unlearn. It will be a new adventure for me  for sure – but one that I believe will have amazing benefits.

Today is officially day one of vegan, gluten-free eating. I’m looking forward to seeing how this choice improves how I feel and pushes me closer to my goal of being healthy overall and running a half-marathon. Oh, and my new one: being a cross-fit athlete by the time I’m 40. Yeah, I’m serious. But that’s another post. 🙂

but what do you really love doing?

In the continued development of making sure I make time for me and my family & friends, I ran into a bit of a snafu. The problem isn’t *how* to make time – I working on that pretty well – the problem has been answering that question “what to do with my spare time?” which of course led to the “what do I like to do?” question. Oddly, this question has caused me some grief – turns out it’s difficult for me to figure out how to do this “spend more time on me and my friends/family” thing and that I really do not know the answer that question.

As has been mentioned before, change is constant for me – I get bored quickly – with hair, clothes, furniture arrangement, etc. (and let me stop for a moment to be thankful that my constant desire for change doesn’t cross over to foundation things like jobs, people, and virtues). But I do really believe that I’m constantly searching for what I truly, truly love to do – what hobbies, past-times, etc., do I want to do? This is important to me to figure out so I can accomplish this goal of spending more time in the “spare time” category and less time in the “working time” category. But figuring this out has been hard. For those of you who spend lots of time around me, you probably have seen this manifest lately with the many questions about what books you think I should read or other similar requests.

I suppose you will not be surprised when I tell you that I still do not have an answer to this question. This post does not end with “Melia Erin’s 10 things she loves!” or anything of the like. But, I do have one idea on how to figure it out and it came to me Friday evening. In my attempt to avoid the TV and internet (because my emotions were on overload and needed a break from the news), I started reading an Oprah magazine. Laugh all you want, it’s okay – I fully admit that the fact that I read Oprah and Real Simple magazines might surprise you. But anyway, there was an article in there about taking a leaps of faith and discerning between a fear-based and love-based decision. Included in this article was this excerpt:

“You can gain more clarity by getting into the habit of imagining the choices you’d make if you had no fear — of failing, of losing, of being alone, of disapproval. Take a minute now to practice:  What clothes would you wear tomorrow if everyone were sure to approve? What music would you listen to today if nobody else was around – not even your mind? What books, movies, or food would you enjoy if no one ever judged you?”


So, that’s kind of where I’m starting. I don’t normally fear what people think of my choices or anything like that, but this little task of “what would you do if no one was around?” seems to be a good starting point for me. I know for some people, this would be a fairly easy task but for me, it’s not. I’ve spent so many years working and studying that I just really don’t know. For example, with the exception of my recent requests of what to read lately, almost every book I’ve read in years has been non-fiction or scholarly. There were a few in there that were not – last winter break I read the entire Harry Potter series; when I was recovering from an appendectomy two years ago, I read some mystery novels; and most recently I read The Passage by Justin Cronin (good, but way freaky – do not read it straight through until 2am like I did – you won’t get to sleep – trust me on this). But mostly, it’s just been articles and scholarly stuff.

This will definitely be a “to be continued…” journey for me. Don’t be surprised if I seem to randomly ask you questions about what fun hobbies you have or what YOU really love doing. I’m curious now how many other people know what they’re passionate about and if they find ways to incorporate them into their days.  Sounds like a good winter break project to me. 🙂