Today I took a ‘rest day’ from working out. Part of it is because I woke up late and part is because I don’t feel good. Just nauseous and hot flashes, boy don’t we love being women?
But I also feel good about it. When I first decided to take a rest day, I thought oh no, this is how the quitting starts. Then I reminded myself to allow space for grace. I don’t feel well and I need to work more on my health and less on my goals. They go hand in hand and neither could happen without the other. So it’s a mental health day.
Mind you, part of it might be due to the fact that I stayed up late, and then I went to Walmart at 8 am to buy chili fixings. I spent a hefty amount of time cooking and the only time I really got to take a nap was when Naomi threatened to ruin the apartment.
The chili was really good. Check out my Instagram story to see the fix! (@JadeBethJ)
Something great happened the other day. I posted on social media about how I was so excited about Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour. I also said that I didn’t have the money to buy it right now. I’ve been on EVERY waiting list possible for a while. Then a woman reached out to me and said that she sees my posts in the book groups and appreciates how I’m always positive and helpful. She said that I have great vibes and she’d like to buy the book for me.
We chatted for a little bit and she ended up emailing me an Amazon gift card to buy Black Buck (as well as a little extra for other books I might want in the future). Not only did it make me happy to get a book I’ve been dreaming about, but it made me realize that the way we move on social media is seen by so many.
It’s an obvious thought, but I never really care who’s watching because I am who I am. In-person I am just as awkward, nerdy, overly excited, and overly talkative as I am online. It’s wild because I can definitely be too much for people but they just aren’t my people! Not everyone is going to like me and it’s taken me a long time to discover that it has nothing to do with me. I’m a drama queen who loves books, crying at mushy things, and turning the channel the moment I get second-hand embarrassment. Now, people who watch me without interaction don’t really KNOW me, know me, but they get pretty darn close.
So I got a book for simply being myself. My heart is happy.
Today was much easier than I thought it would be. I woke up quite late but only because my guy, Naomi, and I stayed up until 3 am last night (this morning?) playing around, watching videos, and eating fajitas. Then I stayed up until 7am reading a book because…I couldn’t stop reading. It was just so good.
Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Even as a kid whose adoptive parents were pastors that spent all day in church, I loved Sundays. It’s a great start to the week. A day to relax and do yoga. Not have a care in the world. Obviously, that hardly ever happens, but at least it feels like that’s what it should be.
After we hung around in bed watching TikToks (and add a little hanky panky), my guy went to work. Naomi and I started our new routine. I sat her down and we talked about what we wanted to do for the day. I listed everything out for her, pausing for her baby gibberish input. She loves to feel heard. Then I cooked, we ate, and I did a little work while Naomi sat in her high chair munching on cucumbers. I wrote down what we ate in my food journal and wished for some gummy sugary things. Oh yeah, and completed a few easy homework assignments.
I knew that I planned to work out as my new habit and so I did! I propped up my Ipad to distract my mind with HGTV’s Design Network Star while I lifted my singular 15lbs weight, stretched through yoga poses, and finished with an ab workout. I then spent a hefty amount of time giggling with Naomi on the floor.
She’s down for her nap now. Isn’t it odd how you miss those baby giggles after they’ve gone to sleep but boy, oh, boy are you tired and glad for a break? Yeah, I know how that feels. So I figured I’d sit down and get some work down as well as write this blog post.
I’m trying out this new parenting “tip” I found on TikTok (who says you don’t learn on social media).
I definitely want to try a gentler style of parenting because I know I can get irritated quite quickly and am also quick to freak out. That’s not the type of high-strung parent I want to be. So usually, when I look over and see Naomi trying to scale her stroller, I jump up and say “no climbing! No climbing!” It’s mostly out of fear. See, Naomi is my rainbow baby and I know that I have this intense fear that something will happen to her. A part of me still can’t believe she’s mine and that she’s healthy. So, anytime I see her in danger I’m all over her.
Anyway, back to the TikTok tip. Try to be more positive or uplifting when trying to get the baby to listen or stop doing something.
For example, say Naomi is hitting someone or slapping something. Instead of saying “hey, stop hitting” (insert angry mama face here — because those baby hits DO hurt), try saying “keep your hands to yourself, please”. Another example might be: Naomi is climbing on the stroller and I run over saying “No! No climbing”. Instead, maybe I can try “feet on the floor! Feet on the floor” Not only will this help me keep my cool, but it will teach her more words and give her something else to do. (also see “don’t touch that!” and exchange it for “that’s hot, play with this instead”). Now I know this is probably just one tip in the many parenting tips you might hear, but this is one I’m excited to implement.
One way I used it today: Naomi was pulling her diapers out of the storage box we keep them in. Normally, I would say ‘Naomi, stop pulling those diapers out! — *goes over to baby* — now help mommy clean up the diapers, please.’ You might not see anything wrong with this, and maybe ‘wrong’ is too strong of a word, but today I said “Naomi, those diapers go in the box. They are not toys. Now help mommy clean up the diapers, please”.
I always say please (and thank you) to my daughter, not just to teach her manners but because it’s my thing? I guess. So, I feel that I have this more positive approach in my repertoire already, I just need to hone it. Learn how to use my words as my FIRST instinct and not immediately scream or yell at her out of frustration or fear. This mom thing is a learning curve for her but also for ME. I’m trying my best and know I must learn from others as well.
Words Naomi might learn from those examples: Feet, Play, Floor, Hands, Hot, Toys, Please, Diapers, Mommy, Help
Weight loss since having the baby has not been easy for me. I want to be one of those aggressive achievers and just say “I just didn’t want it bad enough” but that’s not true. I want it bad, so bad I’d cry in the shower, but it wasn’t until I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg that I realized the reasons why I haven’t been able to make headway.
I won’t go far into the book right now, because I plan to review it, but it changed the way I saw my life. Far beyond weight loss. It changed how I saw my buying habits, my daily routines, and even my issues with relationships and boundaries. The book talks about why we do the things we do and why it’s so hard for us to STOP doing them.
The book uses real-life examples for how we’re led by our choices, how small habits we start now rule the rest of our lives, and how marketing creates needs in us that we wouldn’t normally have. I feel that this came at a perfect time as I’m trying to declutter, minimize, and track my spending.
So with the tools from the book in mind, I noticed that many of the reasons I haven’t lost weight were combinations of childhood traumas, bad memories, and insecurities.
I eat too much.
One of the reasons that I eat too much is because I eat to be full. Oftentimes, I eat until my stomach feels sick or because I have food still left on my plate. I don’t know about you but I grew up with my adoptive mom constantly saying “the kids in Africa are starving and look at you wasting food.” This was exacerbated by her trip to Ghana, Africa on a mission trip when I was nine. So, not only does my lack of portion control affect how much I eat but my inability to stop eating until my plate is full makes it worse.
Another reason is because in my formative years, when I was creating a relationship with food, I didn’t get enough to eat. As you saw in my creative nonfiction essay “Levels of Acceptance” my brother and I were sometimes treated like animals while in the foster care system. We were expected to eat on the floor, in a locked room, or in a closet on a paper plate while the foster families we stayed with enjoyed dinner at the table.
My adoptive mom told me – after reading the essay a few years back – that she would’ve approached food and mealtime differently if she had known I’d been starved at other foster homes. What she doesn’t know, and what I still don’t have the heart to tell her, is that some of the places we went (for respite) while living with her did the same thing to us. Also, her putting locks on the fridge didn’t help. We often joked how I had such a huge appetite when in reality I was merely trying to eat a ton of food because I didn’t know when I’d have it again, especially when there were so many foster kids.
If you haven’t seen the movie The Platform on Netflix, you should watch it. Today.
I’d rather just…not.
When I was a sophomore in high school I got a job just so I could buy food for myself. My mom got so angry at me once because I wasn’t buying cool clothes or other necessities. She said, “you work so much but you have nothing to show for it”. My response was “FOOD. I spend all of my money on FOOD”.
One of the greatest things about having a naturally stocky and athletic build was that it didn’t take much work to lose weight when I was a teen. I had a high metabolism, an active life, and walked everywhere. Especially to the library. I ran track from late middle school until my senior year of high school. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. My motto was to eat as I pleased and work out just enough to maintain my weight – 116lbs at the time (and 5’1).
This does not compute with a woman who just had a baby and is nearing 30. This year I will be 29 and had the same mindset although I’m 176lbs. I still thought that if I just worked out a little bit I could offset the five strips of bacon I had for breakfast (on top of the two eggs, one piece of toast, and the smattering of tomatoes and mushrooms – see, I eat healthy most of the time. I just eat too much). This is just not true. To make this work, I needed to create a fitness habit, a healthy lifestyle, and change my relationship with food overall. But I don’t want to. I love food. I love eating. And I love bacon.
I even have a bacon tattoo.
As I talked about in my recent post, I have this fear of failure and fear of success. Although I’ve done major work this year to love myself and feel more confident, I still don’t know how beautiful I’ll feel (said with starry eyes and overdramatic jazz hands). A part of me is afraid that I’ll lose weight and I still won’t be beautiful. Or that I’ll start a new lifestyle that is health-forward, but I’ll still be fat. And back rolls, side fat, chafing thighs, and looking like I’m 6 months pregnant every time I eat is not my jam. This is counterproductive because the fear stops me from working out which means I’ll never get rid of those things. It’s a vicious emotional circle.
I’m ready to move on though. Thanks to the universe for my growing emotional intelligence.
I try too hard too fast
To cut this short, and not unload all of my personal trauma on you at once, I’ll say the last part is
“the hard try”. I’m the type of person that wants to get started TODAY once I make a decision. I fall in love with hobbies and want to buy all the accessories or take all the classes or join all the Facebook groups. So when I say I want to lose weight, and I hate the fact that I can’t wear an outfit I like, I’m ready to go. RET TA GO. This is not a healthy approach. I go hard for the first few days, I burn myself out or stress my muscles out and then I quit. Then I cry about how nothing is working or how ‘I just can’t do it’.
This time I’m trying a One-One Method. I’m adding One Habit and One Nutritional change. For the habit, when my guy leaves for work (or after lunch on days he’s off), I’m going to work out, or walk (with the baby), or do a yoga session, etc. This introduces an excersize to my life every day. It doesn’t have to be hard-hitting or a long session. It can be a few stretches or a two-mile run. SOMETHING.
To help with a healthier foodship (get it? haha), I’m going with the Eat More, Weigh Less method. This usually entails eating more fruits and vegetables and carbs than meat as well as other things. Obviously, your interpretation may be different than mine, and that’s ok. This week, I’m starting with paying more attention to my portions for every meal.
— I’m also continuing my food journal and have added Naomi’s meals as well.
To help create this habit without burning myself out, I’m doing this for one week and will reevaluate next Saturday. I’m not rushing myself or looking too far into the future or being afraid of what the outcome will be. I’m staying present. Oh, and I’m not telling my guy. This is on me and I can’t use him as a crutch anymore.
So, if you’d like to hear more about me, or what’s going on, or if you just want to be nosey subscribe and stick around for more posts. Or follow me on Instagram (@JadeBethJ) to see my story progress.
I took these photos today. I’ve gained back the weight and I’m back at 176lbs exactly. How wild.
One of the hardest things about being a small business owner is honesty.
Being honest with yourself about how much work you’re willing to put in (and how much you have already put in), whether you’re ready to start or if you’re just dreaming, and whether the idea you have is truly a good idea. On occasion, I find myself asking if this was the right move. I love books, I love to write, and I love bookbinding. However, being a small business owner was something I just fell into. I made a few journals for myself when I was pregnant, with my now 2-year-old, and then others asked me to make one for them.
Even at that time, when I said ‘hey! Let me start an etsy shop!’ (and created The Elyzabeth Collection) I still had no idea what I was getting myself into. I’d go out on a limb and say that I’m still not an expert on it, although it’s been two years. The honest part is that I did not put in any ‘hard work’ until this year (2021). I was so busy with school and being a new mom, and health issues, that I just filled orders as they came. I didn’t focus on marketing, copywriting for product descriptions, or creating profiles on social media accounts. I didn’t get branded materials or focus on discounts for returning customers.
There were a lot of things I didn’t do and I’ve been honest with myself about that.
This year, there are many things that I would like to do with the shop. I know that my life is about to be uprooted – as I’m going to graduate school in the fall – but I do want to make sure that the shop is a priority for me. It never was before. I want it to succeed, if for anything but for the fact that I want others to embrace journaling and writing. I want to share what I have with others and hope to create a community of writers. I know that some people will look at my shop and say ‘but where do you show that passion on your site’ and I agree with you.
I keep most of my deep deep passions inside me. Mostly because I’m afraid of what they can be and what they can’t be. However, that’s part of the reason the shop isn’t as successful as I would like. I’ve kept it in a box and prayed others would see the light shining through. I hope to rectify this with new products, a cleaner website, and better branding. I want to show more of myself and not be a mirror of shops I see on Instagram and studio youtube videos.
I know that I said I would be reading books by different black authors – as a part of my Black Literature intensive – but I just can’t stop reading Octavia E. Butler. I’m not sure if I’m just more open to science fiction, and speculative fiction, now that I’m an adult or what but I love it. With every book I read in this genre, I’m drawn away from romance, thriller, domestic thriller, and even memoir! It feels almost impossible that I didn’t start reading them until now. Reading or writing!
Kindredis about a black woman living in the ’70s who unwillingly travels to the past. During her time in the past, she’ll become a slave, deal with assaults (physical and verbal), and learn the truth of her ancestors. The book tackles interracial couples, the tensions between white and black people in the 1800’s, gender roles, societal expectations and so much more.
I listened to Kindred (because the Parable of the Sower series worked so well via Overdrive) and it was phenomenal. All of her narrators have been amazing so far. Or maybe it’s because I’m alone in Florida without a black community or family supporting me, that I always feel like I’m getting a hug from black narrators. I knew from the first twenty minutes that I wouldn’t stop listening until the story was over.
The characters are strong with depth and purpose. Every character felt important, and every scene was beautifully written. I aspire to her level of style. It’s like the ‘minimalism’ of writing. Every chapter and every scene pushed the story forward. There were no chapters that drug, making me want to skip ahead or roll my eyes. It held me enraptured from beginning to end.
I feel such a kindred spirit in Butler. All the things I want to say about the world, she does. All the solutions I’ve come up with are expertly addressed in her work. I love this novel and I’d love to own a physical copy. Maybe that’ll be the next gift I give myself.
I think I’m going to read Fledgling next, although I’m not sure how to feel about the synopsis. It’s…weird. But at this point, I’m willing to read anything she’s ever written. The other day my mother-in-love told me she was listening to a podcast that mentioned Butler, one that described her writing as genius, and we spent a hefty amount of our Zoom time discussing the topic.
I’d love to discuss this author with you: Have you read any of her books? Do you have any thoughts on Fledgling? What about comparable authors? After I finish Octavia E. Butler, I’d love to read more black authors writing in the same genre. Do share!
I don’t want to spank my daughter. I don’t want to yell at her or scream at her or make her afraid of me. I don’t want to get frustrated or angry or overwhelmed. I want to be an alien. Somehow removed and somehow present. I want to pull her into my arms and say “I know you’re angry that mommy won’t let you climb in the chair and fall and break your neck but it’s all going to be okay.”
I want to temper my gasket when it’s about to blow and scream beneath my breath to let out steam. I want to be gentle and firm and soft and unmoving. I want to be caring and unbothered by tears. I want to stop her in her tracks with the raising of an eyebrow and the listener of giggles with selective hearing.
I want to tell her about things like racism and homophobia and inclusion and exclusion and something surrounding personal boundaries. I want to protect her from everything that might hurt her feelings or bruise her ego or make her afraid to walk out the door. I want to show her what it means to be a woman but also how to stop gender roles in their tracks.
I want her to use my strength as a guide but also learn how to lean on others in her time of need. I want her to be mindful and honest and emotionally intelligent but distant enough to protect her heart. I want her to believe in god but not the god or a god just god in general. Someone who will love her when she’s afraid that she’s unloved.
I want to teach her about art and literature and culture and music. I want to show her how to follow the rules but also how to break them by not using commas. I want to introduce her to the joy of reading but also let her choose her own passion. I want her to go to college but only if she wants to. I want her to be an artist or a musician or an accountant or a writer (please let her be a writer) or an architect or travel agent.
I want her to be happy. And sad and afraid and excited and passionate and angered by society but also redeemed by it too. I want her to be whoever she wants to be but I’ve gotta do my part. So first of all I need to become the best mother I can be.
Alongside my fear of failure sits my fear of success. It’s just as crippling. The intense and overwhelming thought of “what if I do it? Like, what if I DO it? What then? Can I live up to the pressure to be great?” Part of it comes from my previous lack of confidence.
I’m not going to say that I’ve cured my insecurities – because they are definitely still there – but I am starting to see the roots of my issues and can address them. After manifesting emotional intelligence and a deeper connection to who I am, I’ve been seeing all the bad habits, all the internalized shame, all the fear that’s been holding me back.
“Can I get an example? Because this all feels vague,” you might say.
Alright, I have been struggling to lose weight ever since I had my baby girl. In the beginning, I was very adamant about taking care of my infant, my mental health, and focusing on school. I made sure that the pressure of “snapping back” (when women immediately lose the preggo weight after giving birth – ex. Having a flat tummy the next day) wasn’t something I was focusing on. It was amazing.
I embraced my body, even though it let me down with each of my pregnancies and losses before Naomi, and referred to my stretch marks as “Baby Ink”. I enjoyed the swell and drop of my breasts and the changes my body went through. It meant that I was finally a mom with a healthy baby. It meant that I was getting my dream.
Then January 2020, I finally felt comfortable and ready to lose weight. I got my gym membership back, I restarted my yoga practice, and I ate proper portions. I was getting it. Then Covid 19 hit. It set me back emotionally and physically. I was scared for my family, scared for my new baby, and stuck in another state. I had no money, no safety net, and no place to workout. I gained 11lbs due to stress and comfort eating. I could barely read – and I’m usually an avid reader.
This year so much has happened but I’m ready to restart. It feels like this is my 2020 do-over but it’s much harder than I thought. My old fears have come back up. I know I can do this. I know I can lose the weight: be healthier, be stronger, and more. But I’m also afraid that I’ll try my hardest and that nothing will work. That I’ll start running again and my body will let me down. That no matter how much weight I lose I still won’t be beautiful. This isn’t a “down on myself” type of thought. I believe that I’m pretty, but the fear is of change.
I expect a drastic change when I drastically change my habits and if it doesn’t work out, where will I go from there? Was it all a waste? Am I really a failure or have I just peaked? And on. It’s the fear of succeeding and not knowing what that feels like that holds me back.
This is the type of negative self-talk I’ve discovered is a daily occurrence for me. I want to change it. Mantras and positive thoughts and yoga sessions to center myself. Running to get in shape and in tune with my body. Changing my style to feel more adult and be more professional, especially because I’m going to graduate school in the fall. Minimizing my belongings so that I can prepare for our move to a new city. Being healthier so that I am a happier mom, student, partner, and business owner.
I know I can do it all but that fear of success, that rivals the fear of failure, is always there in the back of my mind.
To circumvent that, I’ve been watching tons of Youtube videos, looking at transformations on TikTok and Instagram, and reading books for mindset. Not to compare myself to others. Well, not exactly. But to show myself what could be possible. To see transformations and know that I’m not the only one in my predicament. That I’m not alone – which is a big deal for me.
I plan to get up in the mornings to run, which is already hard for me because I’m a night owl. However, the odd thing is that every time I’ve gone running or walking early (in the last 2-3 weeks), I’ve felt happier all day. More productive. More energized. More motivated to get other things done. This is just one of the changes I’ve wanted to make but it’s the biggest one in regards to my weight loss.
It’s one of my most drastic changes to kill that fear of success. I can do this and I will.
I’ve heard these words so many times in the last few months. My guy, Tony, first noticed my lack of shaving during a steamy moment of ‘let’s kiss before the baby wakes up’ late one night. He’s very supportive of me and my extreme measures to understand the world, and my place in it, but this is one he just couldn’t get behind.
Part of it might be my fault because I didn’t tell him what I intended to do or why. They (the proverbial They) always tell you not to share your goals before you do them. Anyone who knows me knows that it’s nearly impossible for me to keep my goals to myself. Especially when I believe they will change my life.
The fact that I didn’t share this one with anyone proves the experiment.
It wasn’t on purpose, so don’t go thinking I’m a martyr or a saint (Well, you can if you want). Late one night, I felt a soft breeze across my leg, as we’ve been prone to keeping our bedroom door open lately, and then I felt something skitter across. Shooting up, I slapped one, two, three times at my shin until I realized there was no spider, or ant, or mosquito. It was just hair. Long, downy, rust-red leg hair. I tried to remember the last time I shaved but I couldn’t.
Rolling off the bed, I moved slowly to the bathroom to shave. I came to a stop. I pivoted. and I went back to the bed. Crawled between the covers. Pulled my legs up tight to my chest, total fetal position. And I cried.
I didn’t want to shave. I also didn’t want to be ugly. I wanted agency, control over my body, and an ability to be lazy if I wanted to. I also didn’t want to go to the gym and be self-conscious over every pull-up or every row or every pair of shorts. After twenty minutes of pity party and boohoo and why doesn’t anyone find me beautiful, I sat up. I washed my face and I made a decision that would change everything.
“Ummm…no sexy times until you shave that nonsense.”
After my introduction to TikTok, a social media app I told myself I wouldn’t get (because I knew I would get addicted, which…I am), I started something I called the Regain Your Beauty Challenge. Along with my intense desire to have control over my body, and the way it looks without outside societal influence, this was the perfect time for me to notice how disgusted I was with my appearance when not using filters. I had used the “Pretty Filter” on Snapchat for so long, I think I’d forgotten how beautiful my eyes are, how my skin glows when kissed by the sun, how my cheeks are so big they make everyone else smile.
I’d forgotten what I looked like. What JADE looks like. So for seven days straight, I created a video where I looked at myself, took in my features, and admired myself without filters or changes in lighting. I got to know myself again. It was only the beginning of my rediscovery.
“So…are you going to shave your underarms?”
It didn’t end with legs. I didn’t shave anything. Everything went to the dogs. My legs, my vagina, my underarms, I even got a chin hair or two (don’t tell anyone). I didn’t pluck anything. I didn’t even search for them like I usually do.
I told myself that I needed to learn how to stop feeling shame for what my body does. I needed to stop internalizing everything that everyone says is wrong with me. Yes, this was an extreme take but I needed to do it. I didn’t explain to Tony, and maybe I should’ve, but I felt like it was my body and I wasn’t going to let him pressure me either. My decision to shave would be mine.
So, I went to the gym with my very supportive sports bra, a sleeveless workout top, a pair of longer biker shorts, and my Brooks runners. I did everything that I knew would show off my hairy bits, and then I cried in the car. I had kept my headphones on, even as I sprinted to the car on wobbly legs. Their eyes had touched me like spider legs. Every time I did a squat or lunge, I had looked around to see if anyone was looking at me.
“Hey, I got you some nice razors.”
After the first embarrassing month, checking to see if others were staring was no longer a problem. When February rolled around, I stopped wearing my shirts with sleeves. I went to the grocery with a tank top on and reached for things on top shelves. I wore this oversized shirt, with hidden shorts beneath, to a coffee shop around the corner from my house (socially distanced sipping, of course). When my guy asked if I was going to shave with the razors, I said “Eventually” and happily moved along my way.
There was a moment of reckoning, the day before I shaved. Which was yesterday. I had on this very cute dress and headed over to a friend’s house for a mom break away from the little baby (Naomi) and the big baby (Tony). We sat down to watch Raya and the Last Dragon (a fantastic movie, I might add), and there it was. A hairy leg sticking out from beneath the edge of the blanket. My friend looked down at it and so did I. There was a brief moment of silence before I said “I’m so freaking hairy, yo”. We laughed until our bellies hurt and our eyes filled with tears. We had to stop the movie so we wouldn’t miss anything. There might’ve been wine involved.
I didn’t feel shame. I didn’t feel embarrassed. I felt free.
And now, after a nice spa day complete with shaving my entire body, my new skin care routine, and burning incense, I’m revitalized. I feel more confident than I ever have in my entire life. I’m almost thirty, I have 30lbs to go before I’m at the weight I want to be (post-baby), I daydream of a time when I can afford the clothes that would fit an aesthetic I just created: Soft Minimalism, and my hair is a crazy frizzy halo of black magic…
And I freaking love it. Gaining self-esteem and confidence is a journey. It’s a marathon and I’m training for a marathon (no, I’m serious…I’m running again) so I know I can do it.
I’m beautiful and I don’t care if other people disagree. I know that I’m just as beautiful and light as my soul. It just took me getting hairy to truly realize it.
A recent tweet I wrote explains it all: “The more I love myself the more beautiful I grow – every day.”