The S-Talk: Sugar, Teenagers, and Emotional Eating

I have many a time reached for something sweet when I felt overwhelming waves of emotion. I’m significantly better about not reaching for a Reese’s peanut butter cups or a two-serving brownie frosted with caramel and chocolate because something has distressed me or I don’t feel good. It hasn’t been easy to overcome a lifetime of emotional eating, but I’ve made some darn good progress. Now, as a foster parent, I’m trying to teach my kiddos some of what I’ve learned.

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Confession Time: Cakes, Cakes, and More Cakes

I try pretty hard to be healthy on a regular basis. I eat a fairly reasonable amount of sweets. Sure, I have fibromyalgia, but I also exercise just about daily. I floss. I brush my teeth twice a day. I once gave an impromptu lecture on how to determine which types of yogurts were healthiest to my foster kiddos who preferred yogurts that were essentially the equivalent of almost eating a snickers for breakfast. I know. I’m a killjoy.

I also love cakes.

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Teaching a Teenager How to Grocery Shop

One of my foster kiddos is turning 18 in May. She’s nearly an adult, and we’re trying to ensure that we’re helping her acquire some valuable life skills while she’s living with us. We’re all hoping that she’ll be reintegrated with her family before she turns 18, but we can still teach her fundamental life skills… like planning for a week’s worth of groceries and appreciating the cost of those groceries.

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Exercising with Fibromyalgia

The need to exercise to improve fatigue and pain symptoms for fibromyalgia seems counterintuitive, but for me, exercise has made a dramatic difference in my energy and emotional well-being since I began trying to reincorporate exercise into my life. A year ago, I was probably lying on the couch, feeling lethargic and overwhelmed by how much pain I was in. I had been on part-time FMLA leave for a few months and mostly working from home. Going into the office was a draining, exhausting mess. I was struggling to increase my workload back to 32 hours a week and to manage general life demands. I had not yet been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, though I was certainly beginning to suspect it. At the time, I was more worried whether I could endure vacuuming, making dinner, eight hours of work, or sleeping through the night—never mind exercise! At this point last year, I was only just beginning to find some relief with medication. Exercise? Ha! No way!

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Happiness Project Resolutions

As I wrote this weekend, I’ve been looking to adopt resolutions that I think will make my life happier. Since I’m an upholder, I should be rather adept at adopting these different resolutions to improve my happiness without too much assistance, but hopefully the formal commitment of the blog will be an added boost to following through on these resolutions.

Get Organized

  • clean closets
  • organize bookshelf
  • make personal files from our dump drawer
  • make knitting needle organizers
  • organize pantry
  • organize crafting materials

Finish Old Projects

Make Health a Priority

  • exercise daily
  • walk daily (at least 1 mile with Alke)
  • stand at desk more (twice a day instead of usually once a day)
  • be chill:  soothing music and aromatherapy
  • treat myself to a hot bath with essential oils once a week
  • Enjoy one treat a day (either alcohol or a dessert)
  • take a positive action when something goes wrong rather than a negative one (e.g., going on a walk or playing Frisbee with Alke instead of eating my weight in chocolate)
  • listen to my body and respect its fatigue

Be More Productive

  • Start my mornings off on the right foot
  • workout before coffee (no wasting 30-60 minutes on the computer!)
    • read Latin for 30 minutes / drink coffee
    • write for 30 minutes
  • Balance crafts with relaxation when watching a show or movie
    • Let myself off the hook if I’m genuinely too tired to craft on a low-energy day, but otherwise spin or knit while watching a show or movie
  • monitor my internet habits in the evening and try to switch to more productive tasks instead (reading, writing, crafting, or house-related chores – blah)
  • incorporate crafts for others as volunteer work into my regular crafting time
  • make a reading list and start tackling the different books I’d like to read

Cultivate Relationships

  • have friends over for board games or crafting sessions
  • offer to do something nice for someone
  • stay in touch (call, text, email)
  • show appreciation
  • encourage my husband to make time for his friends
  • ask what my husband would like to do on a given evening with his limited free time – and be willing to cheerfully do that
  • be giving – make gifts for people whom I’m thankful to have in my life
  • “work” when my husband is working on the weekend
    • read Latin or Roman history or write Latine
    • be in the room with him where possible
    • complete a task that he doesn’t have time to do (e.g., grocery shopping, laundry)

Thoughts on My Resolutions

Overall, I feel as if I’ve picked up on important themes in my likes and dislikes. I want to ensure that the relationships I have with my friends and family are strengthened where possible. Because my husband works so many extra hours on the weekend, I feel that I can bolster our relationship by working with him or doing tasks that would allow him to have a little more free time on the weekend. As a teacher who needs to work several hours on the weekend (and sometimes on weeknights), one of the simplest and greatest gifts I can give him is time. Additionally, I want to lead a more productive life, which ties not only into addressing my feelings of helplessness due to my fibromyalgia but also into my desire to live a more meaningful and creative life regardless of my health.

As the gardening hobby is shelved until early spring, I imagine I’ll have the opportunity to focus on my crafting and writing during the winter. I feel as if gardeners need to have other hobbies to help them survive the winter months, so I’m grateful that I have diverse interests to productively fill the winter hours that I otherwise spent in the garden during the summer. I’m always itching to start a new craft project or dreaming about different projects that I could start, but I also have a backlog of tasks that I’d really, really like to finish. Their incompleteness feels like an albatross, a reproach. Besides, finishing an old project justifies an expenditure for new future projects!

Beyond focusing on relationships and finishing crafts, I’ve already attempted to change my morning routine to be more productive. I’ve begun exercising before I’ve had coffee, thus giving up that wasted bit of time in the morning where I drink my coffee and browse the internet. Let me tell you: this resolution is not easy to keep. Despite getting up at 5 a.m. every day, I consider myself neither a morning person nor a functional human being until I’ve had some coffee. Besides, I am usually itching to see what happened in the world overnight. The first week of adopting this resolution was very, very hard, but I think that I’m slowly improving my ability to exercise and then drink coffee. Either way, I feel much more accomplished if I’ve already exercised, read some Latin, and written for 30 minutes before my workday has started at 7:30.

I’ll keep you posted as I accomplish different finitely measurable tasks and otherwise try to increase my happiness. Despite the pain and fatigue, I think the next few months are going to be quite happy indeed!

Which resolutions were you most surprised to see based on my brainstorming? Which resolutions would you be interested in adopting yourself?

Fibromyalgia Book Reviews: Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Friedberg 2006)


In my quest to live the best life that I can, I have begun reading more books about fibromyalgia. Most of the information I have so far acquired about fibromyalgia has come from reading various websites around the internet and discussions with my doctor. Of course, in the nebulous darkness of the internet, what counts as credible information isn’t always immediately beyond perusing the main medical sites. I want to improve my quality of life, so, like any bookworm, I decided it was time to get serious about reading books on my condition.

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Exercising with Fibromyalgia: the April Fitness Challenge

Exercising is a challenge when all you really want to do is take a nap, especially when the exercise exhausts you further rather than invigorates you. After aggravating my back and then developing fibromyalgia, my exercise routine has not been what it used to be. I can’t exactly run a 5k and throw punches anymore. I have been struggling to find workouts that I feel successful doing, that are fun, and that will help develop my strength. It hasn’t been easy, and I am not particularly fond of how weak I have felt.

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