Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The GM Diet

Well...here we are. Yesterday was my last day of the GM Diet and as promised...I am here to give you my take on it. To read the diet for yourself....go to the link above. However...to recap why I started this diet: I went to the doctor, blood pressure was sky high, I have a reunion this week, a landmark birthday looming......and most of all.....I am really really far from a size 6! Oh...and as a side note, when they did my breast MRI, although they found it normal they did find an incidental finding of gall stones. For now they are just gall stones causing no problems, however....if they cause me issue, I will have to have my gall bladder out. Nice! To avoid this, the doctor said to stay away from high fat foods. Gotcha! Another reason to make better food choices.

So I chose the GM diet because it seemed like a good way to cleanse my system. The diet is basically made up of fruits and vegetables. You drink LOTS of water and throw a little protein in for good measure. It says that you will loose 10-17 lbs in a week. I would think if you were very heavy and you never drank water...this might be possible just in water weight loss BUT any time you lose 10-17 lbs in a week you are risking your health as well as guaranteeing yourself that the weight will be back the minute you eat anything with calories in it. Reading the diet I did not expect to lose that kind of weight. My thoughts were that I would lose some weight and that it would be a great kick start to clearing out my system, pulling me off diet soda and sugar and preparing me for whatever food plan I chose from this point on.

I have to say that while on this plan I stuck to it like glue. It really was not difficult and I was never hungry. It does not give you specific times a day to eat like breakfast, lunch and dinner. It says....eat as much as you want, or if it gives you an amount of what to eat....you can eat it at any time. The diet also has a great soup that is reminiscent of the Weight Watchers Zero Points soup. It is all veggies with Lipton onion soup mix and whatever seasonings you want. You keep it on hand and you eat it whenever you are hungry. My kids loved it! I had to throw a fit to make them stay out of my "diet" soup. Truthfully too....I was extremely motivated to stay on this diet after my blood pressure scare and knowing that I have this reunion coming up.

Also...I am not a fan of weighing everyday. Your body changes everyday so weighing that often, in my opinion is fruitless. Weighing once a week in basically the same clothes at the same time of day gives you a much more accurate picture of where you are....again...in my opinion, but for this diet experiment...I did weigh everyday to see how my body reacted to each days food choices. It was interesting. My final analysis on weighing daily: If you are trying to lose weight and have a lot to go....weigh only once a week. This way you will see bigger results than if you weigh every day and you won't be depressed if one day you weigh a little more than the next. If however you have reached your goal weight and you want to maintain it....I think weighing daily might be a good idea. This way you are keeping yourself accountable and if you have gained a day or two you can adjust your intake quickly before you have hit a 5 or 10 lb gain. Of course again.....this is just my opinion.

Okay...on to the diet. I will break this down for you and tell you about each day. Day 1, is all the fruits you can eat (except for banana's), plus 10-8oz glasses of water (which you drink daily). My fist thought was hmmmmm. While fruit is very healthy for you and high in fiber....it also has a lot of natural sugar. I was really worried that I would gain instead of lose. It does however say that you will get the most weight loss if you stick to the melon family on this day. Since I am a melon lover...this was the route I chose. I ate a whole cantaloupe in the morning and for lunch and a half of a watermelon for dinner. So let me tell you here....I was not the least bit hungry all day (that is a lot of melon) and with all my water....well lets just say between the two....I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. This was a good thing though as I knew it was cleaning my system out. When I weighed the next morning I had lost 5.2 lbs. Now there could be a little variance here because my starting weight was from the doctors office and my loss weight was on my home scales. The point is...there was a loss. 

Day 2, you start the day with a large baked potato and a pat of butter. Your body needs complex carbs and good fat to function properly. I must say that potato tasted awesome. The rest of the day is veggies, raw or cooked. You can eat as much as you want and they encourage you to eat until you are stuffed. Now here I take issue with this. I don't think you should eat anything until you are stuffed, because it doesn't matter what food it is...your body will not feel right or comfortable. I think eating until you are full is plenty good enough. At any rate I ate tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans....all my favorites and I was a happy girl. Most veggies have few calories and they are a good source of fiber. Even though it said you could eat any veggies....I steered clear of corn (high in starch) and peas (high in sugar). Of course I drank all my water. After my veggie day I had actually gained a pound. Grrrrr. But since I knew that my body was adjusting to pure healthy fruits and veggies and that I had not veered off at all....I continued on.

Day 3, was a mixture of fruits and veggies with the exception of banana's and potatoes. Today I stuck with a fruit mixture (mixed berries, kiwi, grapes and melon) and veggies such as tomatoes and green beans. This was also the day that I introduced the soup into my diet. I ate a couple of bowls of this. I also made sure that I limited the fruit to two serving size bowls and ate mostly veggies. On my next weigh in....I had dropped two pounds. My body was doing it's thing.

Day 4, for whatever reason was my most favorite day. Today I ate banana's, drank milk and ate soup all day. It says you can have up to 8 banana's.....but I could not/would not eat 8 banana's. I know the banana's were to replace any lost potassium but banana's are also loaded with sugar. They are like natural candy. I did eat 4 med. banana's and drank 3 tall glasses of 1% milk. For some reason that combination of milk and banana's really made me happy. It was delicious. I also had about three bowls of soup. This was also the only day I cheated. I had to make cheesecakes and I did test the batter but it was only a small taste and that was it. It says by this day you should be losing your taste for sugar. Apparently it was working because I felt no need to do more than take a small taste of the batter. When I weighed the next day I had lost .4 lbs.

Day 5, today they say eat 2-10oz. portions of lean beef and eat tomatoes. They also tell you to drink extra water as your body will be producing uric acid which needs to be disposed of. I also believe that uric acid is what can flare up gall stones. I was a little leery. Now I love beef but not in large quantities. I had purchased two small (about 3oz. each) already seasoned steaks from Dillons. I ate one for lunch and one for dinner and ate tomatoes and veggie soup in between. This day was really hard for me. I guess after eating all those fruits and veggies and then coming back to beef....my system wasn't ready. It took me a good 30 min. to get each one down. I did drink the extra water too...didn't want a gall bladder attack. By the next day I had lost .8 lbs.

Day 6, was another beef and tomatoes day...this time eating as much lean beef as you wanted and 6 tomatoes. I fixed two 93% fat free hamburger patties. One I ate with my tomatoes and one I crumbled up in my soup. Another difficult day. It was just too much meat for me. Again I drank extra water. After day 6 I had gained .2 lbs.

Day 7, the final day  you were allowed veggies, brown rice and fruit juice. Now I wasn't sure of the fruit juice since most of it has a lot of added sugar. I decided upon V-8 veggie juice and V-8 fruit fusion with 100% juice. There is no added sugar. I also ate veggie soup but for some reason skipped the rice. Just couldn't bring myself to eat plain brown rice. I ended up drinking all the V-8 veggie juice and half the bottle of the fruit fusion. I think if I were to do this again, I would use my Ninja blender and simply make juice from whole fruit. After all of this...today when I weighed I had lost .4 lbs.

My total loss was 7.4 lbs. I also lost about a half inch around my waist. Granted this is just the tip of the ice berg, but all in all I would say that it worked. During this time I also walked for 30 min. 4 of the 7 days and my blood pressure stayed well below 120/80 usually closer to 115/70. It worked well enough that I think I will start it again and stay on it through Friday.

The pluses for me on this plan were:
It made you drink water
It got you in touch with your inner fruit and veggie love
You are never hungry and gradually you get most of the protein, carbs and fats you need
You don't feel bloated
It cleans your system out
It kills your craving for sweets
I haven't had a soda in over a week

The negatives:
While you are getting protein, carbs and healthy fats sporadically....you are not really getting a daily balanced diet
The large quantities of fruits if not selected properly can cause you to gain
I think the meat days are just too much meat
I think 8 banana's is just too much

My final thoughts: The GM Diet is a pretty decent quick start, but like any quick start....when you change back to normal eating...you are likely to see a weight gain until your body acclimates itself. I would not recommend this long term but it is a good way to stop sugar cravings and get you used to drinking lots of water. All I can say is....while I didn't lose 10-17 lbs. (and who should in only a week?) I did lose enough weight to be satisfied with the results.
My official rating 1-4 (1=not great 2=okay 3=really good 4=outstanding):
Food- 3 (it is a little boring)
Program- 3 (for a quick start it is great)
Money- 3 (just regular grocery store foods but depending on the season fresh fruit and veggies can be pricey)
Support- 1 (you are your own support)

Here is one last disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I don't know the ins and outs of all things diet. I am an expert where my own body is concerned but not yours. As I said...you should always consult a physician before trying any diet or exercise...especially if you suffer from any health issues.

So there you have it. The GM Diet. If anyone out there try's it...I would love to hear your results.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Jenny Experience

Well I am pleased to see and hear that some from my other blogs are reading this one. It is also nice to know that people are interested in health and weight loss....especially since we Americans tip the scales in obesity compared to most other countries (pun intended).

I can't speak for anyone else but one of my biggest issues with weight loss is when I am cooking. I am a taster. I don't usually cook by recipe so I have to taste here and there to make sure things are right. As any taster will tell you....depending on the meal or item you are preparing...you can taste your way up to several hundred calories pretty quickly which really doesn't fit into any meal plan. I always thought that if I either had a private chef or was on one of those high dollar pre-packaged meal programs that I would be golden. I even went so far as to stock up on Weight Watchers frozen meals and Lean Cuisine frozen meals one time. The problem with them is....being frozen meals...depending on your microwave...they don't always cook right. Even when they do, the meals are chock full of preservatives and the taste is far from appetizing, so that ended up being a bust.

I used to watch those commercials for Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig and think to myself...if I just had the money to do that, I would be thin in no time. I mean, Kirstie Alley did it...so why couldn't I? The one that impressed me the most though was Marie Osmond and her Nutrisystem loss. I have always been a Marie fan and in my much younger days I was often told I looked like her...which was a bit awkward since I had full intentions of someday marrying her brother Donny. I mean really.....no one wants to be the girl who looks like the husbands sister! But I digress. Marie looked phenomenal after her Nutrisystem triumph. However, it might be mentioned too that in Marie's case...Nutrisystem had a little alot of help as she was dancing 7 hours a day 7 days a week on Dancing with the Stars at the time. Still though...to be able to just have your meals ready to go and not have to worry about cooking, tasting or really any excess time in the kitchen which is nothing but temptation....what heaven that must be.  And don't ever let anyone tell you that star power in advertising doesn't sell. Having a weight issue makes these stars more like the average joe. It gives small town mom and Beverly Hills mom something in common. So when we see Kirstie, Marie and Mariaha struggling and losing and them looking at us from our tv sets while we eat a meatball sub and they look fabulous and they tell us....."you can do it too!" we believe!

So last March my youngest was about to have a major surgery and I was eating my stress by the handfuls. I had gotten a little bit back from taxes and I played with the idea of joining one of these pre-packaged meal programs. After reading up a bit it looked like both Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig were pretty comparable in product and outcome so I did the enie meanie thing and chose Jenny. I made an appointment to check it out and went in. First of all...they are salesmen that talk to you. Granted they are all former clients (or so they say) but they are also salesmen. You can tell because after every explanation they would say "So are you ready to sign?" Usually those tactics turn me off....but I was kind of frantic that day and I wanted to lose...so I listened and before I walked out....I had signed. Let me just say here...it was one of the more expensive purchases I had done in a long time. You pay your signing fee and your first weeks food up front. I had something going on the next week and was not going to be able to make the appointment so I actually ended up purchasing two weeks of food that first time. So after signing up and paying for two weeks of food...I had spent nearly $1,000.00. Yeah.....it was a lot!

The way Jenny works is....you have a counselor whom you meet with weekly. They weigh you, discuss the week ahead and help you plan your menu which for the most part is already set up for you. The only tweaks they make are if you are allergic to something or really don't like a certain food. They have menu's for vegitarian/vegan's and I believe they also have a diabetic menu. The first month or so....you eat strictly from their menus with the addition of maybe yogurt or a salad. You are given breakfast, lunch and dinner along with two snacks and a dessert. After you have become familiar with the portions and eating 5 times a day...then you start weening off their food and start preparing your own within the guidelines they set for you. Weekly the meals run about $170-$180 and if you lose all of your goal weight within the year you get half of your original signing fee back.

I will say that Jenny food is very good. Half of the food is frozen and half is shelf packaged so that it can be stuck in a purse or brief case and go with you anywhere. I really never tasted anything that I didn't just love. The first two weeks that I was on Jenny I followed it to the tee and lost 6 lbs. I was thrilled. Then it was time to go to St. Louis for the surgery. It was my plan to get another two weeks of food and take it with me while I was there. Then it dawned on me that I would have no place to put the frozen stuff. Plan change....so I got all of the shelf packaged stuff to take. The nice thing about Jenny is all their breakfast meals are interchangable as are their lunch and dinner. I was set to go. Then I found out that because we were flying on Wings of Hope to STL, that I had to pack extremely light.....therefore....no Jenny! I did manage to take some of the snack bars that Jenny has but other than that I was on my own. STL proved to be more stressful than anyone expected and I fluxuated between eating the wrong things and not eating at all! Neither works for weight loss so I ended up gaining back the entire 6 lbs while I was there.

After we returned home....I tried to go to Jenny at first....but David needed constant attention and people brought us food (WONDERFUL FOOD) and I was just too tired and too stressed to care. My counselor called a couple of times but she didn't ask me why I wasn't coming....nor did she really try to coax me back in. Not my idea of a good counselor especially since Jenny prides themselves on their counselors being the big draw to weight loss. Truthfully....a little coaxing might just have gotten me back. Soon though I realized that financially I couldn't pay that kind of money weekly and I just gave up. Sound familiar to anyone? We have all done the "give up" and this time it really hurt because there was a lot of money involved. Like most big companies though....my money was their main priority and once they had it.....their desire to keep me was zero. I never heard from my counselor again.

If I had to rate the program.....I would say that if you can afford it, I really believe Jenny could work for you (given a good counselor). As I said the food is amazing and I can see why the stars lose on it. If I had Kirstie money....I too think I could have easily shed my weight on Jenny. I feel like our local Jenny needs to work harder on retaining customers as I think the counselor effort spent compared to the money I spent was very sub par. So here are my ratings 1-4 (1=not great 2=okay 3=really good 4=outstanding).

Food- 4
Program- 3
Money- 1
Support- 1

Again....had I had the money and had I had a counselor who was more involved with her clients and less involved with the commission I would say that I could have been successful on Jenny. All of the components are there for success and if it is something you would want to try ....I say go for it. You will never be hungry and you will love the food.

I am still working on the GM Diet and I am anxious to see how this all pans out. The reunion is getting closer and although I will not be a size six by next Friday....I wouldn't complain if I had accomplished a 6 lb. loss. Lets hope the weight loss fairy is my friend!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Real Change

Well...it has been awhile since I have written on this blog. If you have been a past reader...you will notice that both the name of the blog and the look are different. Of course if you know me....I don't look like I eat celery. In fact...far from it. This blog has always been about my "struggle." Okay...it has been about health and weight loss and mostly a lot of bitching. As much as I would like to say differently...there is a real good chance most of that won't change....especially the bitching part. What might change is I hope to blog more frequently and I hope to blog about things that are relatable in health and weight loss and give something informative to my readers. It came over me the other day while I was walking (yes....I was out walking) that I have been doing many things wrong in my life where weight loss and health are concerned. This blog is evidence of my starts and stops, my optimism and my dips into complete despair over my health and my weight. I know I am not alone. I thought about just leaving this blog to fall into the blog abyss where forgotten blogs must go..... and to start fresh....but then I decided....NO! This is real. Millions of people are dealing with health and weight issues and at least half of those people have stopped and started over and over again constantly looking for that one thing that will actually work. This blog will let you know what works for me and what doesn't. It will keep me accountable and it may help someone out there to take that first step into real change.

Real change....you ask? Of late I have known several people who finally hit their change point and took action. It has been life changing for them. One has committed to working out on a regular basis and the change is amazing. One has decided to finally get serious about a life change and has changed how they view and eat food. It has changed their entire family for the better....and one....a very good friend of mine has changed both food and started exercising. She has lost over 30lbs and she looks phenomenal. So it can be done...but they were all ready for real change. Real change is that moment in your life when you know that you have to make a change and commit to it for the long haul. Sometimes it is a health issue that brings you to the realization that you can't continue down the road you are on, sometimes it is an event, maybe a picture you see of yourself, or maybe you just decide you are tired of feeling like you currently feel. Whatever your real change point is....when you hit it.....the commitment and determination go with it.

My real change moment happened in the last couple of weeks. It wasn't just one thing...it was a combination. First I have a class reunion looming next week, and although I have known for a year it was coming....only the last couple of weeks has it really hit me. Also....I have a landmark birthday just around the corner, but the three catalysts that sent me head long into the realization that things had to change and this time for good all happened within a few days of each other. First there was my yearly MRI to check my breasts for cancer. Because of our family history I have an MRI every six months and a mammogram every six months. The two switch off and never does this time come around without me working myself into a big stressful ball of fear. Yes....being this vigilant makes the chances of them catching any possible cancer very early and thus making the prognosis excellent...but that doesn't alleviate the fear of having cancer in my body. In one day it was pointed out to me multiple times that the more fat you have on your body...the easier it is for cancer to take hold. Not what I wanted to hear. The second thing that sent me into change mode was that my cousin who is just a few years older than myself had a massive stroke and died. I had not been to the doctor in awhile...therefore I had no idea where my blood pressure was and I was almost to the point that I really didn't want to know. Brilliant right?! The final and probably most persuasive thing.... was the fact that when I went to the doctor to get my MRI results(which by the way were just fine)...they took my blood pressure and it was 145/110! Both the doctor and I nearly had heart attacks right then and there. It was at that moment that I decided that if I didn't have a stroke on the way home.....things were going to change. There would be real change!

After going to Immediate Care because of my doctors concern....my blood pressure was on the way down and the doctor there told me he was pretty sure what I was experiencing was stress blood pressure where it spikes in moments of upset or stress. He asked if I had a lot of stress in my life and all I could do was let out a somewhat hysterical laugh. How do you tell someone that you idle on stress constantly? His advice to me was to get a blood pressure cuff and take my bp a couple of times a day for a couple of weeks. If after doing that the majority of the pressures are normal then it is undoubtedly stress related. However....if the majority are high....I need to see my doctor and see about getting on bp medicine. Sigh...I really don't want to go down that road. He also told me to start eating better and to exercise at least 30 min. 5 times per week. When you are sitting in a doctors office and talking about potentially life threatening health issues....you are pretty committed to doing just about anything!

A friend loaned me a blood pressure cuff and I made my mind up from that moment on I was going to change how I ate, as well as how I treated my body. The question was.....what exactly was I going to do? There are million and one diets out there and for the most part....I am not a fan of many of them. Diets to me scream temporary. I am not looking for temporary. If I do this and follow through....I don't want to have to turn around and do this again in five years. I want permanent. I was also very angry at myself. While I really wanted to blame stress, life experience and body changes on my current weight....the truth was I had done this to myself. I had used food as a way to self medicate myself through stress, life experience and body changes. I was/am for all intensive purposes....a food addict. Just like any addiction.....I choose food to make me feel better, to block out things I didn't want to have to do or think about and I have chosen food time and again over my health. I was an addict living in denial and like any addict until I hit rock bottom I would never make up my mind to get back on track and get my life back. I write this here because I know at least one person who reads this is going to be able to identify with it. Maybe this will precipitate a change in someone else too.

At any rate....before I even decided how to proceed with my eating I was out walking. Let me say something here about walking. Walking is my go to exercise when I am not doing anything else. It is said that in order to stay fit and healthy a person should walk 10,000 steps a day. That averages out to be about 5 miles. If you have a sedentary job or your favorite activity is sitting in front of the tv....the chances of you hitting that mark daily are slim. I found that even on days when I am running up and down stairs cleaning and never find a moment to sit down....I usually only average at best about 4,000-5,000 steps...of course you need a pedometer to have an accurate account. That is why it is important to try and get in at least a 30 minute walk a day. That will average you another 4,000-5,000 steps which will get you close if not right on the money for the steps you need.

Walking is an excellent starter exercise no matter how much you weigh nor your physical shape. For the extremely over weight/out of shape person.....start out walking 10 min. at a time and work your way up. Walking is good aerobically and gives you a place to start. I know it is hard to watch shows like The Biggest Loser and see the trainers working extremely overweight individuals to their breaking point and see the end results of major weight loss and then think....how is a little walking going to help me achieve the results I want? The fact is though....unless you have the money for a trainer....you have to start somewhere and you can't go from A to Z without first starting at A and working your way to Z. That is what walking is. My suggestion to anyone starting out is start walking. Don't start out trying to do 10,000 steps either. Get yourself a good pedometer or if you have a smart phone....download yourself one. The one I have is great for walking. It is the GPS+. It is free and it tracks your steps, your miles, your time, your calories and it has a stop watch and music settings. It also keeps your workouts in history and allows you to send them to Facebook if you wish. Once you have a pedometer....plan your walks. If you are completely out of shape and overweight....start with 10 minutes. If you can do a couple of 10 min. walks a day then great....if not at least you have that 10 minutes. If you are moderate start with a 15-20 minute walk and if you are in okay shape but just haven't done it for awhile.....start with 30 minutes. Plan on doing this for at least five days. I say this because you need that time to make sure you have the right shoes (you don't want blisters rubbing or foot pain as that will be a mental reason to quit). This also lets you work on pace. Is 2.2 mph the best you can do or can you amp it up to 3.0 mph? After five days you will feel a sense of accomplishment. In most cases you will be ready for more. Every five days....add time. When you reach your 30 minute mark....before you do more time....work on pace. If you did a mile and a half in 30 minutes try working up to 2 miles in thirty minutes. When you have worked yourself up to 3 miles in 30 minutes....move on to 45 minutes. You will start to see the challenge in walking along with the health benefits. You will start losing inches, drop pounds, your stress levels will decrease and things like bp and insulin levels often improve.  So here is where I challenge anyone reading this. If you are ready for a change...whether you need a whole body overhaul or you simply want to feel more fit.....for the next week I challenge you to walk. The weather is beautiful right now and it is a perfect time to get out and enjoy the season. Start where you are comfortable and you might even jot down your current weight or how you feel, maybe your bp or some note to compare how you feel the day you start to how you feel on the 5th day. I think you will be surprised.

As for the food.....I have been on every diet, meal plan, etc. known to man and the bottom line is they probably all worked....I just didn't work them. In future blogs I will talk about many of the plans I have been on and what I liked and didn't like about them. This might help someone decipher what might work for them. Yes...I said I wasn't a fan of a diet...but because next week is my reunion....I settled on what I call a "quick fix" diet for two reasons. One...I am a firm believer that anyone who starts a weight loss life change needs to see results from the get go or they are likely to quit before they get started. Also....I wanted to lose a few pounds just to feel good about me before this life altering event. The diet I chose is a 7 day diet called The GM Diet which I got off another blog through Pintrest. I chose this diet because it is very low fat, but it is rich in fruits and vegetables. It is also a diet that can help your body detox from sugar which my body really needs that. I am currently on day 4 and taking notes as I go. When I have finished the whole 7 days I will let you all know what I think about it and how I feel. From there I am not sure where I will go with my weight loss plans but whatever I try and wherever I go from here I will definitely take you all along for the ride.

Now before I leave you all...a few obligatory words of wisdom and caution. First of all....whether we like it or not, weight is both sexist and age discriminatory. If you are younger...you will likely lose faster and if you are a man you will likely lose faster. Yes...as often happens...we middle aged women get the short end of the stick. Not all diets/weight loss plans are created equal. We need a certain amount of protein, carbs, fat(yes good fat) as well as fruits and veggies in our diet to keep our bodies running optimally. If we deprive ourselves of any of the things we need it can throw off metabolism, insulin, potassium, etc causing us grave and sometimes even life threatening issues. Before you start any weight loss efforts...I urge you to see your doctor (especially if it has been a while). Tell him/her what you are planning to do and what plan you have chosen. Not all diets work on all people. If you have allergies or illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease....a special diet maybe recommended by your doctor. Also get okays for exercise if you have issues with hips, knees, feet or heart. Again...the doctor may recommend a special trainer, physical therapy or certain exercises particularly designed for your needs. It doesn't pay to have to quit due to injury before you even get started.

So these are my words of wisdom for today. I hope you come back to this blog often as I will tell you how I am doing, discuss health related issues, weight loss programs, exercise....and yes...I am sure I will bitch along the way. I also would like to hear from you. I want to hear your successes, your dips into despair and also the things that you find work for you. Until next time...thanks for reading.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Showing a Little Love

Boy...this blog has sure been unloved this month. Of course...all my blogs have been. Life has just been too busy to blog! I know....how could I say such a thing? It is true though.

Amazingly....instead of thrusting me into a head long depression like I thought it might....being laid off has been exceptionally good for me. I am actually very happy and very productive. In fact....it is rare that I sit down in a day. You would think with all the moving I do...that the weight would be falling off of me. Much to my dismay, this is not the case. In the last two weeks I have gained a pound. Had I been sitting around at a desk all day...I am sure it would have been more like 4 lbs, but I am still not happy that I haven't been taking care of business where my weight is concerned. The fact is...I have been so busy that I haven't taken time to eat right, write down my points or work out. Two weeks into this whole being at home and baking cheesecakes thing though...and I think I am starting to master time management.

This morning after stepping on the scales and being filled with mixed emotions of sadness because I gained for a second week and completely being thrilled that I hadn't gained more....I immediately put myself in a mental time out and then got myself back on track. I am writing down everything (it works...trust me) and I went to the gym. Once again my mind tried to make me overdue with the whole working out thing, but after another mental time out....I worked out sensibly. I can't afford to do anything stupid like injure myself at this stage of the game.

Time is speeding by and I foresee this year not passing in days or even weeks....but more like huge chunks. We are already at March's door step and then I won't be conscious of time again until David's surgery. Time will then catapult me into summer, then Old Settlers, then my class reunion.....then that birthday with the unbelievably huge number....and then Christmas. In just a few chunks I will be staring 2013 squarely in the eye. That being said....I will be staring at it in a different body and I am bound that the next half century (as depressing as that sounds) is going to be fantastic.

Well...love has been shown and now it is time to get back to the speed that has become my life. Hopefully by this time next week...the workouts will have kicked in and there will be some "happy" numbers to report. One can only hope!

Monday, February 6, 2012

One Hurdle at a Time

If we really look at the facts and pay attention to what the numbers and statistics tell us, we are living in the fattest nation in the world and we are the fattest generation ever. WOW! The numbers are staggering but it is too early to be shoving them at you. Suffice it to say that the life longevity we have gained through science and medicine is quickly being swallowed up by our eat on the run, fast food, super-size it mentality. Not a very pretty picture this early on a Monday morning....especially after Super Bowl weekend where large quantities of alcohol and food were likely consumed. Sigh.

Add to all of this the fact that the older we get the harder it is for the weight to come off and it is enough to make a plus size model sit down and cry! Again with the facts....we know that every second past 35 that we hold extra weight on our bodies means that we are fighting a losing battle for our ultimate health. Even 10-15 extra pounds starts putting us at risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer and possibly an early grave. It also means that we start losing our flexibility and the gravitational pull of the earth has just that much more to pull.....meaning everything will drift south just that much faster. It is hard on our bones our organs and our self esteem. These are hard truths to put your mind around....especially when your mind wants us to see you as you looked a quarter of a century ago. Again....sigh!!!

I have been playing the passive aggressive weight game for years. I have chided myself as I licked the cheesecake bowl and sat on the couch watching Wii Sports instead of participating, wondering why the weight wasn't just slipping off. I have joined Weight Watchers time and again....refusing to be honest with my points or to even write them down and have been dumbfounded week after week as the numbers just didn't go in my favor. In truth....I have been playing with the exact same 10 pounds for several years and trust me...there is much more than 10 pounds that needs to be gone.

So what have I learned? Well...this year my age becomes a number that shouldn't define me....but somehow does. This year I have several big events coming up and this year my son is undergoing a life changing event and for me....this means change needs to come and it is now or never! Granted...I want that change for my self esteem. I want to look in the mirror and see only one chin. I want someone to take a picture of me and me not to cringe when I see it. I want to see people I haven't seen for 30 years and not have them walk away going....."damn that girl has let herself go!" Most of all though...I want to be healthy and strong so that I can see my son through his surgery, help him recuperate and be the strong mom he deserves not the mom who can't do what needs to be done because her back hurts or she is out of breath. I also know somewhere deep down inside that if I don't do this now.....it might never get done!

I have officially been on WW a full month this time....and this time it really feels different. Before....I was never all in. I have rebelled and only been willing to put so much effort into my journey in the past. I would not write down what I ate or keep track of my points, telling myself I knew where I was at....and constantly going over. I refused to try WW recipes or to lighten up my own. I also did not incorporate WW with any kind of exercise and all of my past efforts have ended up a bust. Maybe because there is so much more on the line this time or maybe because I have something to prove to myself....but right here....right now....I am starting to see real change in me.

I will admit that the exercise has not come yet, but next week new things are happening in my life and exercise will be a priority. As for the WW though...I AM LOSING!!! No it is not miraculous....it has been work, but not hard work. I simply gave into the idea that millions have lost weight on WW but not by rebelling or refusing to do what is tried and true. So I am writing it down and keeping track of my points. I will admit that I am not 100% yet, but I am a good 80% and that is better than I have ever been. The work is showing through. The first two weeks both showed losses. The third week was a slight gain, but I expected it. That was the week David had his first Shriners visit in St. Louis and we spent several days with my mother in law. There were tacos, carrot cake, pineapple upside down cake and other goodies. I went with intentions of being good but half way through....I gave up. However.....I did watch what I ate and tried to make healthier choices or eat smaller portions. The end result was a pound and a half gain. I was not even disappointed because I knew next week I would do better...and better I did. This week I came back with a 3.5 pound loss, and that was with Super Bowl goodies thrown in!!!! Of course they were lighter versions and healthier choices. See...I am catching on!!!

I am finally getting the hang of this thing and I have a couple of pretty lofty goals ahead for myself. While I am over the moon at this weeks loss, I am still in the midst of that 10 pounds I continuously seem to play with. Not until I have gotten beyond that will I be truly doing the happy dance and I am sure wherever you are.....you will be able to hear my shouts of joy the minute I am a gram under that 10 pounds. As I said though...that 10 pounds is just the tip of the ice berg. David's next appointment in St. Louis is mid March and I hope to see a substantial loss by then. However it is the appointment after that which is the biggie. In mid April he will be having a major surgery which will require on my part a great deal of both physical and mental strength along with stamina and down right good health. His recovery will be a couple of months and then there will be lots of physical therapy for months to come after that. For all of this I need to be in fighting condition and the only one that can ensure I am there is.....this girl! 

So what does all of this mean? It means starting this time next week I will be doing safe and healthy workouts with both a mixture of cardio and weights. I will continue to write if I bite it and continue to try new light and healthy recipes to fight the boredom of eating the same thing every day. I have a WW cookbook which is 4 ingredient meals in 10 minutes. I love it and the food is REALLY good. There is absolutely no reason that I should backslide this time....especially when I have so much riding on success.

So I guess today I am just a little bit proud. I have had a modicum of success this week and it is spurring me to keep at it. I know that the road is going to be fairly long and I am not even over the first hurdle. Heck.....the finish line is so far away it is not even in my sights, but at least this time I am running and rather than looking for the finish line....right now I just have my sights set on the next hurdle and maybe......that is how I will win this race. One hurdle at a time!!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Milestone

Well....I have hit a milestone. I lost 1.6 pounds this last week and I have gotten my first milestone star of 5 pounds. I have officially lost a sack of potatoes. Woo Hoo! Honestly....I was not sure the scales would show a loss. I gave up on exercise last week after Monday, Friday I ate over my points and Saturday and Sunday I stayed within my points but didn't make great choices in what I ate. I was mentally prepared for a gain. Yeah....this weekend was kind of stressful. Why? It just was. Probably the mental preparation for going to St. Louis, the nagging worry that they might not be able to help David once we are there and just a million other little things that go with living in Lisaland. Several times over the weekend I had the I don't give a sh!t! feeling. But I tried my best to persevere. Truth is though....that if I had made better choices, the loss numbers might have been greater. As it is though.....I am good with 1.6 pounds and when I have made it through this current week, it will be much easier to get down to business with continuing to make changes and get serious about working out.

This week is going to be another week where my will to change is going to have to override my stress levels and my need for comfort food. Today and tomorrow will be all about  getting everything ready and not forgetting anything. That is stressful in itself. Then the trip. It is an 8 hour trip and long road trips stress me. (I also haven't forgotten my last trip where I got lost in East Hell and thought I would never find my way out.) Once there....my mother in law is a fantastic cook and I know she will be conjuring some wonderful food because she is celebrating Z's birthday and then there is going to be family in and out. The beauty of WW is that I can eat what everyone else eats....I just have to decide how much and what I want to use my points on. Finally...we will be running all the time, so normal eating times and meals won't always be possible. I also know that a trip to Steak n' Shake is on the agenda. I looked at the online menu and I have decided the only thing I can have on there and stay within my points is a glass of water. Even their salads have ridiculous points. I could feel my arteries clogging just reading the menu.

The last three weeks and especially the last few days have taught me that I can do this! I have a goal and I keep it pictured in my head and I can meet that goal if I want it bad enough. I have what it takes I just have to want my goal more than I want the second helping or the huge slice of cake.

Well...I am off today and I have a list longer than my arm of things I must do. Organization will help keep the stress down, but to be quite honest...laying down and going back to sleep would make me so happy right now! Not gonna happen though. Guess I am ready to get this day into full swing and to keep myself on track. Wish me luck! Oh and....Yay me on my milestone!!!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

So....About Last Night.......

So....about last night......

Well Z turned sixteen yesterday and last night my house was inundated with high school kids. This morning my house smells of teen and shame. The shame is on my part. Okay....really I shouldn't be ashamed because I did fairly well, but I didn't do as well as I had hoped I would do. What the heck am I talking about? Keep reading!

They say it takes 28 days of repetitive behavior for a habit to form. While I had not hit the 28th day yet, apparently I was far enough in to be getting the thinking right. As I said....yesterday the Z-man turned 16. He was planning on a night of friends, karaoke and then his guy friends staying the night. The festivities started right after school and I came home with pizza, soda and cake. Just what I was thinking in purchasing sugar for already uber hyper teens is a mystery to us all, but I did. Z has kids over quite often for these little all nighters but last night was a larger scale. I think there were about 20 kids in and out throughout the evening and about 15 guys ended up staying the night. Right here let me give a shout out to Little Ceasars Pizza. I was able to get six large pizza's for $30 which more than fed all the kids. LC has pepperoni, sausage and cheese pizza's in the large size ready to go for $5 a piece and their pizza is good. Any place else I would have paid at least twice that. For a budgeted mom.....it was awesome. Now....back to our story.....

So for nineteen days I have been a model Weight Watcher girl. I have been hyper vigilant on my points and haven't veered once. Last night though....some of the old thinking of (I don't give a sh!t...I want cake) started rearing its ugly head. Luckily I recognized the thought process and behavior and put it in check before any catastrophic damage was done. I had done my points carefully throughout the day so that I would be able to have two slices of pizza (cheese and sausage were 5 points each) and a slice of cake (7 points). Once those were used up....I was actually full. Then it began.

It was a Friday night and the kids were coming in and out of my front door as if it were revolving. Z was super charged with it being his birthday and all the other kids followed suit. The minute the cake and soda started hitting their systems my house and yard became very energetic and loud. They weren't doing anything wrong....they were all just wound up. They were chasing each other up the stairs, running through the yard and being super loud wherever they went. It had been a long week and I could feel my nerves starting to twitch. Soon they wanted to head to the ball game and then go karaoke. Since Z is now 16 he can drive without restrictions and he was preparing to take a couple of kids in his car. My stomach was in knots as they took off. Once I knew they had reached their destination....my body went right in for the kill. I grabbed a piece of pizza and a piece of cake. Immediately I felt alarms going off in my body. I kept telling myself that I didn't care. I had been really good and tomorrow I would get back on track. I deserved this after all. My son just turned 16! All these thoughts were trying to block out the sound of WARNING LISA! YOU ARE ABOUT TO DERAIL YOURSELF!!!! As I sat down and took my first bite of pizza.....the warning took a hold. I said....What am I doing? I was not hungry, I was stressed. I was worried. I was tired and I wanted some comfort, but I was NOT hungry. Since I was feeling all these emotions I allowed myself two bites of pizza and two bites of cake. David happily ate the rest.

Yes...I went over my points a bit and I made sure I documented it, but I didn't do anywhere near the damage that I would have done a month ago. I would have eaten the pizza, the cake and probably had more never looking back and excusing myself because I was stressed. So now....it will probably take me another 28 days until I have the thinking completely down, but I can see that I have changed my thought processes dramatically. In fact I have been trying to figure out how I can change my eating the next two days so I can stay full and still cut back a bit. After all....Monday is weigh in day.

The rest of the party went fine....although I haven't had the nerve to go down and do an actual body count yet. The sugar kept them wired until well after 1 a.m.. and between that and our house getting TP'd no one got much sleep until close to 2. Oh well....16 only comes once and in the words of the great John Mellencamp "hold onto sixteen as long as you can....changes come around soon to make us women and men!"

So while I wasn't perfect....I was pretty darn good and I am proud of myself to know that I am finally not only physically trying to make changes but the mental is starting to change too. Will this be my last stumble? Of course not. Change does not come over night and it is not without its uphill battles from time to time. If change was easy....I would have done it a long time ago. As it is.....some days are giant leaps and others are the tiniest of baby steps. As long as none of those steps go backward....then I am good with the journey.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Defying Gravity

Well...it is really really official that I am fine. I had my follow up exam this morning with my doctor and I was given a clean bill of health. What a huge relief. So now on to what this particular blog is all about....Happy ME!!! Well okay let us say....trying to be a healthy me!

Today ended week two of me actually doing Weight Watchers the way it was intended. After two full weeks of sticking to my points like glue...I have lost 4 lbs. It is not exactly a Biggest Loser loss, but trust me, I will take it. This weight was lost with me eating only within my points and drinking lots of water. There was absolutely no exercise involved. While it is a loss...in my book there is more to a healthy body than weight loss. I feel like as much as I hate exercise and holy batman I truly do......it is necessary to make everything function at its peak. So today I began. Sigh!!!

I was still on the fence as I crawled from my bed this morning as to whether working out was going to happen today or not. I then decided just not to think about it and do it. As I was driving to the gym I made up my mind that this workout was going to be an easing into it workout and not a crazy workout where I end up feeling awful or hurt myself and then I don't want to do it again. I limited myself to 10 minutes of walking and 20 minutes on the elliptical. Man...I thought I was going to die. Missing all those months sure does show. I am going to try to workout at least 4 times this week. It will be a gradual progression back into the workouts I need to be doing. It will also be interesting next Monday to see what WW and working out combined do for the numbers.

So since I am doing this...I thought I would share info as I go. This maybe a recipe, a workout or just something that works for me and maybe will work for you. Today what I am sharing is water. Most people do not drink enough water and it shows in their skin and in overall how they feel. I try to drink 6-8 glasses a day. When I do it like I should then my body definitely tells me when it feels dehydrated. I can feel it in my lips (they start chapping), in the dryness of my skin and even in how my hair looks. So one day as I was playing on Pintrest I found this really interesting recipe for water from Jillian Michaels. It is actually super water as it cleanses the liver as well as body impurities. It is also great for people who really don't like the taste of water. Michaels recommends drinking this for 7 days as a way to help with weight loss numbers. The drink is simple:
Mix 60 oz of purified (bottled) water with
1 dandelion tea bag (you can get these at most GNC's or online at GNC)
1 Tbsp sugar free cranberry juice
2 Tbsps. lemon juice
Drink it throughout the day and drink it all.
The drink does not have a bad flavor and it is actually thirst quenching. It is also your recommended amount of daily water. My David who is not a fan of water will guzzle the stuff. The added bonus that I have found is that sometimes when walking or working out my fingers tend to swell a bit and they don't when I drink this. And this is great for not only someone on a diet but also women who bloat at that time of the month and anyone who needs to up their amount of daily water. It you try this...let me know what you think.

So a new year and a new healthier chapter has begun in my life. So much is happening this year a reunion, a birthday and with any luck multiple trips to St. Louis to improve Davids life. I want to be fit and healthy for it all. As I was working out this morning a song came on my playlist an I decided to make it my theme song for the week. We all need a soundtrack to our lives and this week...this is mine. I really think I might just try defying gravity!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Preach a Little....Teach a Little

Phewwwww! In case you haven't already heard.....I AM FINE! No....not in the bragging sort of way. I am fine in the my girls have no lumps sort of way. Maybe this means I will actually get a good nights sleep tonight full of no dreams or at the very least peaceful dreams.

As scared as I was....and I was definitely scared....the clean bill of health made all of the fear worth it. It also gave me some good life lessons and I am about to preach a little to all the wonderful women who read this and the wonderful men who read this who have women in their lives that they love.

I found my lump by doing a regular self breast exam. I am a firm believer that women should start these as young as possible. The reason for this is that whether you realize it or not....your fingers get to know your breasts. Once a doctor gave me some kind of a gel filled bag and said that in it were lump/knots of varying sizes. He told me to feel around on the bag until I could find all the lumps. I was only able to feel the largest one. The rest were undetected. He said this bag was a facsimile of a woman's breast. I felt then and there that if that is how hard it was to find breast lumps...I would never even know if I had one. I was wrong. The more exams you do....the more familiar you are with what should and shouldn't be under you fingers. Twice I have found lumps and twice they were actually something....just not cancerous tumors. The first time was a cyst that just burst/dissolved on its own. Today there was actually something there but it is just under the skin like a small clogged duct. So in both cases my fingers did feel something that was there and shouldn't be. Because of all of this....I will continue to be vigilant in my self exams (I do the 1st of every month).

Second...when you reach the age of 40, regardless of how clean your family history is....get regular mammograms. If you have a active family history of breast cancer, your doctor may advise you to start even earlier. While mammograms are not particularly a fun way to spend a half hour or so.....they can be life saving (especially if you are not great at doing the self exams). For those who have as yet to experience a mammogram: in a screening mammogram an x-ray machine is used to take pictures of your breasts. Before all is said and done, your girls do feel quite squished (I am now a AA thanks to this mornings activities) but the few seconds of discomfort are worth it to hear the doctor say "All is well." After a screening mammogram you are then allowed to leave and your results are sent to your doctor. If you do feel a lump or something is found on the screening mammogram, then a diagnostic mammogram is done.  A diagnostic mammogram is much like the screening only a little more in depth making sure to take pictures of the suspicious place. Following the diagnostic you are ask to wait until the radiologist reads your films. Usually if there is a question following the films a sonogram is done on the area. After the radiologist reads those too....then you are invited back and the radiologist gives your their findings. This is usually followed by a follow up visit with your doctor in which you and your doctor discuss the results. If something has been found then a biopsy is usually done to determine whether it is a cyst or a tumor and if a tumor what kind. If it is the worst case scenario then you and your doctor form a game plan to remove the tumor and get you healthy.

The important thing to remember is that breast cancer and colon cancer are two VERY curable cancers because with proper screening, both can be caught in early stages and survived. Late stage cancers that have gone unscreened and undetected are the ones where the mortality rate is very high. As women....we owe it to ourselves and the other women we love to keep up with these screenings. If you are a man....let the women in your life know just how much you love them by encouraging them to stay proactive with their health. A few minutes once a month and a half hour once a year really isn't too much to do to ensure a healthy future and peace of mind.

Okay the lesson and preaching are over. I am fine and David gets to go to Shriners on schedule with a healthy mama! Now it is time to get down to the business of getting really healthy and changing less than stellar habits. Still through it all....I have been a good little Weight Watcher girl even though I have not had the desire to workout this week. Next week though....will be a different story. I plan on changing my destiny one day at a time!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Life is Interesting

Life is a lot of things, but I would have to say one thing that sticks out the most is that life is interesting. More interesting than that is how we humans handle the more "interesting" times life provides us. I myself throw emotional tantrums when life gets interesting in a way that makes me scared, mad or just plain unhappy. People don't see me do it outwardly but on the inside I tend to fall apart. My mind races to the worst possible place or shuts down altogether and something inside me screams out about the injustice of it all.That is when I look for the most self sabotaging things I can find. When I was young it was alcohol. It is flat out amazing that I didn't turn into an alcoholic because I was ticked off and unhappy a lot. As I grew older though and life really swung out of control....food and I started our love/hate relationship. I loved to eat when I was upset but afterwards I hated what the food did to me and the fact that food was where I chose to bury my sorrows. It has taken me a lot of years to admit this stuff but once I admitted it....it seems that I am aware enough of it that I am trying to change. Believe me....this week has been a test.

Since Monday and finding my lump....I have known of two people close to my age that have died of cancer. I have seen nothing but commercials for Cancer Centers of America and since cancer seems to be a hot button here in the USA, I have randomly turned into several TV shows whose main focus was cancer. I am about to put myself into a self-imposed media blackout. Every time I am inundated with this stuff I feel my heart race and apparently my blood pressure is reacting to my stress, because it  has sent it from a nice 117/78 to a not so nice 136/96. It is all just stress, worry and fear. You know...the inner tantrum I was speaking of.

I am somewhat proud of myself though. In all of this....I have not gone off Weight Watchers once. I confess that I have done zero exercise, but I have eaten healthy and not once have I reached for any of my go to comfort foods. Peanut butter is often one of my comfort foods and being on WW peanut butter is acceptable if you can fit into your points. It fit nicely into a peanut butter sandwich the other night on Sara Lee 45 calorie bread. For a mere 5 points....I was comforted. Okay...so maybe I am still reaching a little for the comfort food, but it isn't like I downed a whole carton of Chunky Monkey. In fact....even after my little comfort sammie, I still had points to spare. Yay me!

I did wind up at the doctor yesterday though (my GP) and found out that my back is in fact muscle pain. It appears that lifting a 70+ lb. child  along with carrying my 25 lb. purse and my equally heavy work bag (all on my left side) can cause muscle strain and pain. Who knew????? So we are back to the muscle relaxers. It is feeling magically better today. I have also gotten to take Z to the doctor where he was diagnosed with the latest virus. For two days he has had his head stuck in a trash can as he has dry heaved all his internal organs out.  Hoping tomorrow will be the end of PukeFest 2012 and that David doesn't come down with it.

So you see....I have been a bit preoccupied and other than the media blitz on cancer....I really haven't had much time to dwell. Don't get me wrong....I have gone to and through the worst case scenario in my mind. It wasn't pretty....but seldom do our worst fears come into play. If they do though....I have to have faith that everything will work out the way it is suppose to. There are simply some things we have no control over.

This morning I woke up and felt around for my lump. I know that will be the first thing the x-ray tech will want to know is the location. I couldn't find it. Is it still there and I was just willing myself not to feel it? Has it vanished like the last one? Who knows?! I refuse to get my hopes up nor will I let myself fall apart physically or any further emotionally until I know something. The thing is....tomorrow since it is a diagnostic mammogram and not a screening they will hold me there until the films are read. They will then call me back (they being the radiologist) and tell me what they see or don't see. If they don't see anything.....I am good to go and on my way. However....if they do see something then all I will know is that they do in fact see something. That something could be a fibroid cyst or a tumor. I will then have to wait until Monday to see when I can be scheduled for a biopsy. Once biopsied I will have to wait longer still to see if we are dealing with cancer or not and if we are......what course of action to take. Unless nothing is found tomorrow....I could be sitting on the edge of my seat for some time to come....and anyone who knows me......knows that I am anything but a patient person!!!! Arrrggghhhh

So why all the detail and why do I feel the need to inundate my blog readers with all this stuff? Because.....regardless of the outcome.....I am not the first woman who has gone through all of this and I will not be the last. It is of some comfort to know that others have gone through what you are going through and.......survived! It is nice to know that you are not alone and if you have questions...there might just be someone out there not particularly connected to the medical community that has been there and can help. I have a couple of those people who have been there....done that....and are still here to tell about it. They have been my inspiration and though I am sure they don't know it.....they have helped me not fall apart physically. Maybe someday...I can do the same for someone else. Even if this does prove to be nothing more than a cyst.....the not knowing is enough to drive you mad.

Yeah....life is interesting. It can be smooth or it can knock you off course. It can give you great joy and it can also give you great sorrow. We never know what is just around the bend....be it or good or bad, but with a little bit of faith and wonderful friends and family the road is surely a whole lot easier.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The "C" Word

I know! Day 2 on this dusty old blog. Well...there is a reason. I like to think of this blog more as a place for self-improvement instead of self-expression. Yesterday I talked about lies we tell ourselves and also about my addiction which is FOOD. I also admitted that I am a stress eater. Any amount of stress (and I always have stress which explains a lot) and I am looking for the yummiest thing I can find to comfort me. Thus I guess the name....Comfort Food. Well yesterday...I jumped a big hurdle with stress eating. I was highly stressed and yet I didn't dive for the cookies. In fact....I did just the opposite. It was as if all hunger or desire for food shut down. Fear not...I am sure my appetite will be back in full swing soon, but for now.....food is not even on my radar.

So why all the stress? Because once again I am dealing with something I hoped I would never have to go through. The "c" word has come back into my life...and no....I'm not talking cheesecake. I am however referring to cancer. I can't even say it out loud and I can barely type it. But here is what has come to pass. I am like a pitbull on crack when it comes to being hyper vigilant about cancer screening. My mother ended up with four primary cancers and two of her sisters along with one of her brothers have had breast cancer. Mom and another brother also had colon cancer. As we have gotten older.....I have had several cousins who have had breast and colon cancer. After watching my mother fight through, suffer through and eventually die from this horrid disease it has become a great fear of mine....especially while my kids are still young. I have though been tested for both the breast and colon cancer gene and both came back negative. You would think this would give me peace of mind....and it did until Jan. 1st of 2012.

The first of every month I do a regular breast exam and on Jan. 1st, I thought I might have felt something in my right breast. Not being sure and not wanting to truly admit I might have felt something....I thought I would wait a week and check it again. Sadly my little lump was never far from my mind as a local news woman who had fought breast cancer for 7 years died this week and it was pretty much all you saw and read about locally. So yesterday afternoon after I got off work I decided to check again and see if I still felt the lump. I did. Was it bigger? More prominent? Was it the same? I had no idea. All I knew was this is the month we are suppose to take David to Shriners Hospital and I didn't want this standing in the way. I called my doctor and said I had found the lump. I was not due for a check up until February but the nurse immediately scheduled me for a diagnostic mammogram on Friday (yeah I know....Friday the 13th) and a follow up with the doctor on Monday. In medical time this was very swift. In patient time....it is an eternity. Thus my new stress.

So here's the deal. Reality tells me that I have been vigilant in keeping up with screenings and testing and if this is something....then chances are very good that it has been detected early and I will be fine. There is also the possibility that it is a cyst or some other benign foreign lump. This is not the first time I have gone through this. In 2008 I found a lump doing a self exam. I went to my doctor and he too felt it which prompted him to send me to a breast cancer specialist. By the time I got to her...the lump was gone. I guess I was hoping that between the 1st and yesterday that is what would happen to this one. No such luck.

A little side note. When I first started doing self breast exams....I always wondered if I got a lump if I would be able to feel it. In fact...I highly doubted it. Apparently though...after years of doing so, you know immediately when something doesn't feel like it should. So don't scoff at self exams!!!!!!!

Added to all of this....I have an extremely creative mind.  Most writer/artistic types do. So now I am questioning everything. I have dealt with left side pain for several years. I even had a CT a couple of years ago and the doctor feels that is is muscle related (duh...I lift David all the time). Muscle relaxants do seem to help and yet my mind is questioning whether it is something worse. Possibly something related to the breast lump. I have known so many people who were fine and then gone because cancer was unknowingly growing inside them and spread. Ridiculous? Of course....well maybe....but I am alone with two kids and their future is what I have to worry about. They have already lost so much and Z has had more put on his plate since he was four years old than any kid should have to deal with. So yeah! I am a wreck...and a bit bewildered that I am not breaking land speed records to find the closest McDonald's. I guess I am just trying to face life head on and deal. A Big Mac will only make me fatter and....I will still have a breast lump. Why compound the issue?!

So....I know I am not the only one who has/is going/gone through this. I know many facebook friends and family members who have been right where I sit today...wondering and waiting and yes....fearing the worst. Some walked out of their doctors office in relief and others had a battle a head of them. All that I know though (other than my mom) are still here and fought their battles with grace and courage. I have no idea if I will be one of the ones crying with relief or one with a battle in front of me, but which ever way it goes....I am sure you all will hear every little detail. And let me thank you in advance for reading and commenting. In case you all didn't know it....you all have become the support that I need and you have no idea just how much it is appreciated. And if you get a chance.....if you could keep my family in your prayers because Shriners is so important for David....we would surely appreciate it. Thank you all.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Lies We Tell Ourselves (and others)

Honesty seems to be a running theme when anyone talks about self improvement. Possibly the reason is that when we aren't honest with ourselves....that is when things tend to spiral out of control. I have found that often, even the most honest of people can be in so much denial about something that they habitually lie to themselves. The lies we most often tell ourselves (and others too) often concern some sort of addiction or addictive behavior.

A perfect example of what I am referring to would be my mother. There was no more honest woman on the planet. She would rather have her tongue cut out than be dishonest about anything.........except her smoking. Back in the 1950's when mom took her first puff, cigarette smoking was not looked on as a vice. It was viewed as manly for men and elegant for women. A woman who smoked had a mystery about her. She was deemed very modern and sexy if she was seen holding a cigarette. Apparently lung killing smoke and ash tray breath were also sexy back then. Sadly even the medical industry didn't know or were in their own form of denial as nursing school was where my mom learned to smoke. When each of the nursing students did their psych rotation they were "forced" to smoke with the patients. It was believed that smoking relaxed the patients and kept them calmer. I guess then the nurses smoking with them kept them even calmer. At any rate....Mom said 26 girls (all non-smokers) started the rotation and when it was done...all but two were hooked. Yes folks....that was the medical field for you back then. And we all know what BS that the info they were given was. It would be interesting to know what percentage of those girls ended up with lung cancer. Mom did!

Once addicted though....smoking became a crutch for mom. Just like anyone with an addiction smoking was what she used to cope. When she divorced, when she and Dad fought after the divorce, when times where tight, when us kids acted up or when she was just alone.....cigarette smoking was how she handled life. And believe me....no one has that kind of an addiction without a lot denial and self lying going on. My brother and I were both horrid asthmatics and common sense would tell you that it was exasperated by her smoking. She convinced herself though that it wasn't her smoke but pollen, grass and anything and everything else. Thus our asthma raged until we moved out. Magically our asthma symptoms resided. Mom's answer to that was that we simply had grown out of our asthma.

My brother and I literally spent years begging her to quit smoking. After my uncle died of lung cancer and I watched my aunt and cousins suffer I once again begged her to quit smoking. Mom took our pleas as us finding personal fault with her. She was NOT going to get lung cancer and we were trying to take away the only enjoyment she had in life. Yeah....coughing up phlegm everyday for 40 some years is nothing but pure enjoyment? 

It wasn't until they found Mom's uterine cancer and then her lungs collapsed after surgery that she was finally jolted into the reality of what she had done to herself. Once out of the hospital she quit cold turkey and never looked back. Later....she realized just how much in denial she had been believing that her four pack a day addiction was just a moderate problem. She had lied to herself and everyone else around her for years. It took almost dying and losing everything for her to realize that she really was addicted and even that realization was too little too late. She ultimately died because of her addiction.

My son sadly did not learn from his grandmothers mistakes. At 25 he is a heavy smoker and has been since he was 18. To compound this addiction....he is also addicted to pot. I hear the same type of self lies from him that I used to hear from my mother. Pot shouldn't be illegal. It is safer than alcohol. He only uses it to relax. There is no long term effects from smoking pot. I have heard it all and yet his life tells a different story.  He has no ambition and he will always choose cigarettes and pot over any one or anything in his life. I want to shake him and wake him up, but I know all too well that decades of pleading didn't work with my mom. The only thing that did was having reality hit her smack dab in the middle of the face. I just hope when it happens for him...it is not too late. 

After thinking about all of this I ended up doing some major soul searching of my own. While I only smoked for about five minutes in my life (yeah...I thought I was cool) and I only smoked pot once (it made me sick as a dog), I too am not without my lies and addictions. My addiction.....food. 

In my lifetime....I have lost and gained the same 10-15 lbs over and over again. I am short (5' 1 3/4") so five extra pounds sticks out like a sore thumb. In my late teens and twenties I yo-yoed with those pounds over and over again. In my early thirties I was thin......very thin and then after I met my husband and started having kids I was happy and my weight issues went to the back burner. My husband loved me (as much or as little of me as there was) and I stayed at a healthy weight . After my youngest was born prematurely and then my husband and mother died....healthy weight went out the window. Food became my comfort. I was dealing with loss and with my oldest sons antics (drinking, drugs, running off, sneaking out) and I was in over my head. So I did with food what Mom did with cigarettes and my son is doing with pot.....I started lying to myself. I refused to look in a full length mirror and I told myself that I needed the comfort. I was almost a recluse hiding from the world and not wanting to face the day to day realities that I was alone and doing everything all by myself....and if you listened to my oldest....doing it all VERY VERY wrong. It didn't help that at the same time I went through a total hysterectomy and was thrown into menopause about a decade too early. My thyroid was out of whack and I was using all these things as excuses for the fact that I couldn't put down the banana bread, ice cream, fast food, etc.

Now none of my children has ever called me fat. My father on the other hand has numerous times. Funny though...his insistence that I was fat happened when I was young and really wasn't fat at all. I have been fully aware of my addiction to food for some time. I have also been aware that my clothes size has also blossomed with my ever expanding waist. Still....knowing that I was gaining and that it could have ill effects on my health (open me up for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc) didn't keep the fries, the burgers and the shakes from finding their way to my mouth.  It wasn't until someone pointed out to me that my children had already lost one parent and didn't need to loose another that I really started admitting my own personal addiction. Yes...I have been lying to myself and in turn others about why I have gained for years, but the bottom line is.....I have and the only way to change the situation is to admit that I have gained and to take steps to quit denying and making excuses for my bad behavior. I have to find solace in something other than pizza  or sweets and stop putting food in my mouth as a knee jerk reaction to a bad day. I also have to get moving again.

Last year when I was working out....I was feeling so much better, but my love of exercise borders between slim and none. Therefore....it takes very little for me to throw in the towel or make excuses not to hit the gym. I think I also have an underlying desire to sabotage myself when I work out. I push myself to the very limit...often times causing me to hurt myself...thus giving me a reason to give up...thus making me feel like I need comfort.....thus causing me to find the nearest McDonalds. Yep...I am all about feeding the addiction.

So....after a long talk with myself I came to the conclusion that the only real failure here would be if I didn't keep trying. I know my weaknesses, my excuses and my sabotage points. I know that with the highs there will be lows and that some days.....every minute will be a battle to stay focused and on track. The important thing though is that I have decided to choose myself over my addiction. I choose having time to spend and time to live,  over time in the fast food line. I choose slow but steady exercise over my tv and computer and most of all.....I choose watching my kids grow, graduate, marry and have families of their own rather than an early death from some disease related to my unhealthy eating habits. Maybe if my mother had decided to choose herself or us kids over her addiction she might still be with us. Who knows?!

This is not a new years resolution....those rarely come to fruition. What this is....is a choice to love myself and my kids more than I love food. No more lies!