The Best Defense is a Good Offense…

All of life is about growing and changing.  Even as adults.  Maybe especially as adults.  The more experiences we encounter, the more we realize the need for change.  Obviously, we could float along at the status quo, but would we ever truly be happy or see success if we did that?  No, of course not.  As a parent, I feel like I’m constantly pulled between the needs of my children and the wants of my own selfishness.  And there’s no way around that – we are as humans selfish beings.  We have the opportunity to lay aside our selfishness to serve others, but we often don’t chose to… or at least find that process difficult.  Call it my humanity, but giving up what I want for my kids is just crazy.  And yet, it happens.  Day after day.  Because God puts within a parent a heart of service.  Whether we want it or not, we have this amazing desire to do whatever it takes to help our children succeed.  To the point that we often forget who we were before they came along, and lose track of our interests and hobbies for the sake of becoming merely “Becca and Grayson’s Mom.”  As a mom, we give and give and give.  All day long.  Our pitcher constantly gets poured out to water these little beings we are raising.  So what are we doing to refill the pitcher?

I think so often we as moms get so wrapped up in our kids and their needs that we forget about ourselves.  When this happens, our pitcher of water starts to dry up.  And when the pitcher is empty, how can we pour anything else out to help our kids?  We feel tired, dry, depressed, frustrated, and yes, even angry.  Anybody with me on this?  I bet you are.  Because I know that I’m not the only mom who has ever felt the weight of the final straw.  I know I’m not the only mom with regrets.  Those “oh how I wish I hadn’t said that” moments.  And when those moments start turning into frequent events because your pitcher of water is constantly dry and you just don’t have anything else to give to your kids, it’s easy to start feeling hopeless and helpless – and stuck.  Like there is no other way to live but with a dry pitcher and feeling anger and depression pressing in on all sides – like you are some sort of human waffle being burned on all sides and formed into a shape that you don’t want to be.

Ya’ll, I’m here to tell you – IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!!!  I recently took a class on how to combat mommy anger, and the biggest thing I pulled from it (other than the concept of GRACE, which I’ll mention later) is that we as moms need both offensive AND defensive strategies to help combat our anger.  So I wanted to share some of mine with you to maybe give you some ideas.. and I also wanted to encourage each of you to take the time to go through this seven day course.  It really will change the way you interact with your kids!

Offensive ideas:
-Take the time to tidy that one area that you’ve been putting off for whatever reason… because just walking by that area has been adding to your stress unknowingly.  It’s amazing how just FINALLY tidying up our mudroom has reduced the anger in my life!  I never realized that that out of the way place was causing my anger meter to start higher with the kids.   (You’ll learn all about your anger meter and your personal triggers when you take the course!) But now, when I walk through there, I’m not constantly thinking “oh I’ll get to that someday.”  Because day after day of thinking that builds up to a LOT of stress.  Ya’ll, when I cleaned it out, I found the Easter egg hunt plastic eggs from LAST Easter.  I found a Christmas present that was supposed to be exchanged.  I found shoes that haven’t fit the kids in over a year.  I found last summer’s half empty bottle of sunscreen.  It had been building for a LONG time.  I also found those library books that we (yes, even still) need to return…

-Find a comforting scent for your home.  Whether you are into candles or Scentsy or DoTerra or YoungLiving or any other such thing, it doesn’t matter.  Having a scent in your home that refreshes you is just such an incredible and powerful thing.  It might also help your kids!  You might talk to them about what scents they like and let them have some input.  It could be that you’re already using a scent that puts THEM on edge and you don’t even realize it!

-Plan to have ME TIME every day.  I prefer to have mine first thing in the morning before the kids get up, with my quiet time.  (I love Hello Mornings – you should check it out!)  It’s amazing how committing that time to begin the day with me and God has made me start out refreshed.  Instead of crawling out of bed depressed and dragging about all the chores I have to do, I start my day by greeting the Son and watching the sunrise!  Nothing better.

Do these offensive strategies fix it all?  No.  Because as Alicia says in her course, anger isn’t going away.  And my main triggers are my kids and their behaviors and words.  So that’s where those defensive strategies come in (which really, they can be offensive too… you’ll see why)!!

Defensive ideas:
-Adult coloring is the latest and greatest craze.  And ya’ll, I have fallen into it hook line and sinker.  It is WONDERFUL!  When I am upset with child behavior, I can say “ok – we BOTH need to take a time out.  I’m going to choose to color while I take my time out to calm down.”  Sometimes I allow Becca to sit on her car rug and play ALONE with the cars.  It calms her just like coloring calms me.  (note: coloring is a very active process for her that excites her and also causes stress.  But when she is upset and playing with cars, she either sits or lays on her tummy on the rug, rubs the rug with the palm of one hand, and drives the cars repetitively back and forth on the same spot.  This gives her the sensory input she needs to calm her down incredibly.  Obviously, for many kids, coloring would be calming as well, and playing cars might be too much excitement.  Know your kid!)  Offensively, I love to color in the evenings after a long day to de-stress so that I sleep better, which thus starts me off on a more well-rested day the next day.

-Food is an addiction for many Americans.  It’s why so many of us are obese.  Alcohol is also a very dangerous addiction.  I have found that I used to defensive eat before I started the Best Body Countdown back in January.  (Read about my weight loss journey here.)  Thankfully I’ve never defensively drank.  But, I have discovered that coffee is a very benign addiction that calms me considerably.  On days when I’m just frustrated out of my mind with the kids and my anger is about ready to bubble out of the pot, I make a pot – of coffee.  The world can swirl and spin out of control around me, but that moment of standing at the coffee pot and sipping the first sweet sips of hot relief are freeing.  It’s a moment that I can close my eyes and just escape.

-Another way that I have found to escape and calm myself down is to duck into the pantry and read the daily verse from my morning Bible study again and say a quick prayer.  Like literally taking two minutes (sometimes less) to run away and hide.  Offensively, I figured out that I was regularly ducking out around 4:00 each afternoon, so I set an alarm on my phone that goes off daily at 3:45 to remind me to go ahead and step out and reset my mind before it becomes a defensive need.  I also love using that quick moment away to look up the verse on my YouVersion app and make a photographic reminder of the verse using their easy photo/verse maker.

Obviously, I have discovered these things over time, and they are what works for me.  They might not work for you, or you might need to modify.  I HIGHLY recommend that if you are struggling with anger, or even extreme frustration, that you take the course and come up with your own combative strategies.  (I’d love it if you’d share them in the comments below!!)  You’ll also learn how to approach your emotions, how to voice them, how to offer yourself grace, and so much more.  Don’t think that offensive and defensive strategies are all the pieces to the puzzle… you’ll have to take the course to get the rest of them. 😉  (Yup, I’m an affiliate, so your purchase helps out our family, as well as yours!!!)

Click on any of the text links, or click the photo below to learn more!

I. Fit. Well.

In 2010, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. In late 2011, I got pregnant with our first child. I weighed a bit more than I wanted to, but hadn’t really been interested in doing anything about it. At that first check in for Becca’s pregnancy, I weighed 170lbs. Due to my RA and a large flair about midway thru my pregnancy, I got put on prednisone… And gained a LOT of weight. When I went in to deliver her at 38 weeks, I had gained over 75 pounds.

2 weeks before delivery
2 weeks before delivery: 5-30-12

Due to other health issues (gallbladder removal the week after she was born and not being able to eat for almost 8 weeks), I lost that 75 pounds relatively easy (though not in a manner I would recommend!), and when I went in the fall of 2013 for my first appointment with Gray’s pregnancy, I weighed in at 172.

I only gained about 40 pounds with his pregnancy, but found myself in the fall of 2015 18 months from delivery, with no plans for more kids… And weighing around 180-185. I was not happy, and not feeling healthy. I had started going to the gym occasionally- mainly for the playcare room to give me a little reprieve from the kids. (Guilty mama admission there!) But I often made excuses and it definitely wasn’t a regular thing.

Part of our family Christmas photo shoot - I wasn't huge, but was not happy with my body, and certainly wasn't feeling good carrying around extra weight... plus a kid or two.
Part of our family Christmas photo shoot – I wasn’t huge by any means, but was not happy with my body, and certainly wasn’t feeling good carrying around extra weight… plus a kid or two.

Then December rolled around and I was determined to start the gym habit before the January new years crap. At some point, though I don’t remember what date specifically, I walked into the dietician’s office bc my best friend was sitting and chatting with her. I butted into the conversation when she said she was going to do the 52 day Best Body Countdown and said “oh sure I’ll do that with you.” I didn’t even know what it was or what I was signing up for. I was just doing it to support Johannah.

Best friends... not really knowing what we were getting into or how awesome we'd feel 52 days later!
Best friends… not really knowing what we were getting into or how awesome we’d feel 52 days later!

What I didn’t know was how it was going to change my life. Drastically. I’ve been told by several doctors that regular exercise would help my RA- and ease the pressure on my joints. And now? Now I’m seeing that. I have an amazing trainer who in one quick session was able to teach me some really awesome ways to modify exercise to allow for joint pain, and to still push my muscles to build strength. I have learned so much about my body and my own autoimmune hindrances, and I’m learning ways around them. I’m learning how to listen to my body, and stretches, strength training, and cardio routines that are making me not only lose weight, but become a stronger person.

The other piece to the best body pie that I didn’t really think about when I dove in was just that – pie. I have always (esp when pregnant) had a sweet tooth. I find it really hard to pass up baked goods- brownies being top on that list. A good brownie is pretty darn close to Heaven, in my books. So hearing the words “only 5 grams of added sugar a day,” sorta felt like a death sentence. But I was determined. I had paid my money and I was going to do this for Johannah, if not for me. But somewhere around day 45 (about 8 days into the countdown), it became less and less about doing the program just to support her, and more and more about building a healthier me… While supporting her.

A meal sample - with the log from MyFitnessPal with the nutrition info.
A meal sample – with the log from MyFitnessPal with the nutrition info.

Now? I’m proud to say that having a salad with kale, spinach, and swiss chard is my typical lunch. Every day. Instead of being obsessed with ice cream and/or brownies, I pop cherry tomatoes like they are going out of style. I eat peanut butter I’ve fresh ground myself at the store with local honey on a high fiber English muffin as a decadent treat for breakfast every couple days. Breakfast? Oh yeah, I eat breakfast every single day. Three solid meals and a strong snack every day. My water intake wasn’t a problem before, but now I make sure I maintain my regular intake before I consume any other beverages. Pop and tea are a thing of the past. Coffee and wine? They are here to stay, but with the rest of the way I’m living my life, I can easily consume my one or two glasses wine once every or every other week with no worries of the calories or sugar.

Yup, yup I’m on fire. And there’s no stopping me now!

I truly have learned how to control my portion sizes and make smarter, healthier choices for not only my meals, but also my activities and daily routines. I have made fabulous progress, and this is no where near the end! I plan to continue these habits the rest of my life! I’m so thankful to my support system- my best friend/accountability partner (who pushed me to be my best every step of the way!!), the staff at the gym, and to my wonderful hubby who encouraged me and pointed out my visible progress milestones along the way!


My stats:
Increased plank time by 1:44 (from 1:00 to 2:44)
11.8 pounds lost
3 1/4″ lost around the waist
Lost 1/2″ fat at the halfway point, Gained 1/2″ muscle back by the end- around my left thigh

I can’t say thank you enough to the whole Fitwell team.

Come to find out, not only did I complete the program, I lost the most weight of anyone participating from our gym! They rewarded me with a new Fitbit Flex and a free membership to the next TRIBECore workout group ($150 value)! WOW. It’s so amazing to not only feel good about myself and be proud of my progress, but to see these people who believe in me… Enough to literally INVEST in me… Wow. Just wow. I have never felt so encouraged!  To know that they believe in me is just amazing.  I never doubted Johannah or Cody’s support of me because they are truly my best friends, but to see the support from the gym staff is just incredible to me.  I’ve found not just a gym close to home with excellent playcare for the kids while I work out, but I’ve found a FAMILY that is an incredible support system!

Want more information about the program?  Check out Sohailla Digsby’s website here to join in the next round of the program and countdown to YOUR best body!!