On Long Hair and Banishing Dementors


It’s always hard to get pack to posting when I have been neglecting the blog for a while. Not really neglecting… we had some stuff going on and I needed to process out of the public eye so to speak. And I have done a lot of processing and made a few changes while I was at it.

I have started a lot of diets over the years, I probably begin at least a few times a year in fact, but I haven’t actually been able to do anything about this “baby weight” for the last few babies. The last time I got serious about exercise and diet, all I succeeded in doing was exhausting myself.

At the beginning of August, I hit one of those points when I had to either lose a few pounds or buy a bigger size. So I fired up MyFitnessPal again and began half heartedly tracking my food. Even that was enough to knock a couple pounds off. After a couple weeks of doing that, I had a day when I actually did my hair.

My hair lives in a bun of sorts most of the summer. It is hot out and I will likely be in the pool at least once a day, so why bother styling it when it will just be wet again in a few hours? But on this day my hair was dry and clean and I knew I wouldn’t be swimming, so I got out my straightener and Did My Hair for real.

My hair has gotten pretty long lately, probably as long as I have ever had it. Straightening and slightly curling the ends made it look so pretty and shiny, I pulled out my phone to take a picture…


… and I was kind of shocked at what I saw. It’s amazing that you can look in the mirror every day and refuse to really see yourself, but that is just what I had been doing. On that day I saw myself, and I didn’t look like myself.

(Disclaimer because this is the internet and someone will get bent out of shape: I am not making a statement about anyone’s body but my own. I know the shape of my frame and my body was not reflecting that.)

I went ahead and took the rest of my “before” pictures and I began to buckle down and really get serious about my diet. I also dusted off my fitbit and started walking. I couldn’t handle anything else right then, that was my starting point and for the first time in a long time, the changes stuck and I began to lose weight.

I started feeling better right away and the pounds started really dropping. I’m not losing super fast, just about a pound a week on average, but I am now within spitting distance of 20 pounds lost. I’ll post those before, during, and finally some after pictures in some other post.

Feeling better physically rippled out into other areas of my life and I began placing a higher priority on my self care. I actively sought out time to journal or just be alone for a while (hard core introvert here) and I took a close look at my cluttered home and started working on that as well. I also started running again.

I love running. And I can’t believe I just said that. I was the least athletic kid in school – the slowest runner, the last to be picked for teams in P.E. classes, I didn’t even know how to play most sports. (I once volunteered to be the catcher in a baseball game, thinking that would keep me out of the way of the ball. See? I was clueless.) But running is like a brain cleanse for me. I am slow, and I still take lots of walk breaks, but it turns down the noise in my brain for a while and makes me a happier person.

So here I was – exercising, eating right (mostly), journalling, getting better rest, and other things to take better care of me. And then came my birthday.

My 45th Birthday.

Gosh, how did I get so OLD?

On the morning of my birthday I went for a run. Since it was later than I usually would go, I took a different route – one that I hadn’t wanted to take in the pitch black morning. This route took me through a tunnel under the street.


Does that remind you of anything? It’s a little bit different, but it looked (and felt) very much like the tunnel in Harry Potter where Dudley and Harry meet up with the Dementors. I realized in that moment that I have been fighting some pretty serious Dementors and right now, I am winning.

I am winning. The thought very nearly took my breath away. While I have my bad days, for the first time in a long time (I can’t even remember how long!) my depression symptoms are at a very low point. That tunnel was such a gift on my birthday!

I have a long way to go, both in terms of my physical and mental health. I am figuring out what kind of maintenance needs to happen and when to help me stay here and even keep making progress. I know there are setbacks ahead of me and I am trying to have some contingency plans in place when those happen.

Through all this, the grace of God has sustained me in both the good and the tougher days, and my husband’s unfailing support (including  inconveniences on many work days) has made it possible for me to get to where I am now. With their help, I will keep going!

If you want support or to follow my journey you can find me on MyfitnessPal as NineLivesAZ and on Fitbit as jengroft at gmail (etc. You know how to write an email address).


  1. Thanks for this! It sounds terrible, but hearing about other peoples’ struggles with depression, weight issues, etc. (my biggest problem is anxiety) really helps me. It’s like ‘oh, huh. Other people have this, too. Other people get this. This is my cross to bear, but it’s not different or less or worse or anything than other peoples’. It’s just mine. I’m not a horrible or pathetic person just because I struggle.’ Sometimes all I can see is the things I am NOT doing, and don’t see the very real progress and healing going on. I continue to cry out to God about my fear and my struggle, and fail to look at or remember or thank Him for the things that are going well. It reminds me of that song – ‘When my eyes are on the storm, I wonder if you love me still. But when my eyes are on the cross, I know you always have and you always will.’ So, yes, facing down the dementors, and WINNING. Thanks for the reminder. Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle…Our Lady of Victory, Pray for Us.

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