The F word

Losing weight isn’t easy; it’s not supposed to be. Your body wants to hold on because there’s that sense of survival. So that’s why you have to work hard! Gaining weight isn’t easy as people think either but it’s a sneaky bastard. Weight creeps up on you and when you turn around, you’re pounds past where you wanted to be.  However if I look back, there would be clues or triggers that would be like breadcrumbs on a path, pointing me to how I let myself slip. 

With being back at work, and general life factors, I’ve gained back 5 of the 32 pounds I’ve lost. No pain, no blame, and no shame, just the realities of being on a weight-loss journey. I’ve told you before about how I’m not going to throw in the towel, so I’m not. I told you I would share with you the ups and the downs and so this is my down. 

The last few weeks have been a challenge both emotionally and physically. I couldn’t pinpoint it on to one particular thing but remember, for me, emotional swings equal poor eating. One event that shook our world was the day that I noticed I had a mass in my right breast. I’m used to having cysts but I knew this one felt different. It was hard, large and immovable. So 4 weeks went by of exams and tests where fear made me immovable. Fortunately  I’m fine. I’m more than fine, I’m Fabulous. I realized how you can become imprisoned by your own mind. Having these moments you learn quite a bit about who you are as a person, who truly is there for you, and it’s a true test of Faith.

A huge and monumental moment that had me vascillating from one feeling to the next involved my oldest son’s graduation. This was a joyous occasion, please don’t get me wrong but tough for a mom! As he is preparing to go to university, I’m preparing to let him grow or go. I’m so very proud of the man he is and the man he’s becoming. He is kind, generous, and thoughtful. I know this is a major milestone for him but I shed tears because of the little boy that I still remember and want to hold every single day.  He symbolizes a first of many things to come in my future and so I have to prepare myself for growth but also prepare myself to welcome in more joyous occasions.  Remember as one door closes…

The rollercoaster of life is ever present and I have to do a better job of managing my emotions. Now I’m moving on to enjoying what’s really important and that’s my Family. Adventures, snuggle times (when I can get them), loving moments and having Fun with those who are important to me are what I am choosing to fill my days with…not fear, regret or pining for days gone by. I have learned that I don’t have time for drama and definitely if it’s not mine. This is my life and I only have this chance to live it, so I am de-cluttering and becoming true to myself. I’m not Filling it with worry, fear and what-ifs. Five pounds, f*a# it, that’s a stumble.

Slaying the Beast

There’s a nemesis amongst us women. It comes to us in a voice, softly whispering, “No, you cannot” or urgently stating, “There is a ceiling that you cannot shatter”.  It’s a subtle chant that tickles just a little bit in the shadow of our minds and has made a comfortable home in the corners of our spirits.   This tiny naysayer tends to overpower the real voices that surround us. The ones from our loved ones that say,  “You are beautiful” or “You are good at what you do.” Somehow that little voice of doubt that we have within ourselves, seem so much more powerful than the voices of many and the voice of our higher power. Why do we do this to ourselves and how did we get here?

I don’t have all the answers, quite frankly, I may not have any.  For me, on this journey, I have learned this: head up, eyes forward and one day at a time.  I stand today 32.6 pounds less in body weight, stronger spiritually and more connected to my loved ones. I am not concerned about my impression on others, rather, my focus is more on the empowerment of those in need of it.  So as I grow, they grow and in the end, I have found myself more at peace and more grounded.  Bad days or moments no longer consume me.  I am happy and because of this, I am able to give more of myself freely but not foolishly.  

Dear reader, know this, as you continue on your journey, that voice of doubt will weaken.  I am not disillusioned to the fact that there will be moments of struggle, where it will try to overcome,  but you must not waver. I must not waver.  So head up, move forward because today is a good day.  Today I am winning.

Sooooooo I had Oreos

Not my finest weeks in this weight loss journey.  To start, I weighed in today at 225.2 which from my last report to you, dear reader, was at 226.6, putting me at a loss of 28.8 lbs.  The positive point is that I still went down; the not-so-positive is that I gained 3 pounds in these past 3 weeks then had to regroup and reset to get me to 225.2 so technically I should be at 222ish. Follow? šŸ™‚

The spiral started with eating some chips, then later had Oreos (just 5) and wait for it, had a burger with fries! (Not in the same day, mind you!) This plus not getting in my walks and fluids during my adjustment back to work all led to my stall. Oh well, what do you do? Start over.  Is it the end of the world? NO! I wanted some Oreos so I had some.  The difference from my previous attempts is that most of my meals still consisted of healthy, protein packed goodness with fresh veggies. 

I  can give several reasons to why I felt like eating junk food.  For those who haven’t been reading the past blogs, I’m an emotional eater. These last few weeks, I felt as though I was fighting everyday, not literally fighting with fists but battling with all my being. Whether it was adapting to new challenges, to adjusting to the changes in my children’s lives, or trying to keep up with life, I simply just felt spent. So, I wanted to watch some Grey’s Anatomy and enjoy a few Oreos. So here’s the important mantra that helped me through: I have no one to impress but God. 

My goal is to lose the weight and I am heading in the right direction.   So if I have a pit stop, I’m not going to cry about the calories and throw in the towel.  I’m taking this one day, one meal, one step at a time. In my previous blogs, I wrote about preparing for situations ahead. However, I failed to prepare myself for the adjustment from a controlled environment (home) to work where unexpected situations occur. So what are my take aways? Bring my water jug to every meeting, set my “get up and walk” timers habitually, and remember to take a moment at the end of the work day to breathe and reset before dinner (my weak time period).

Tomorrow, I will start with a smoothie and move on. Here’s the thing,  fellow weight loss partners, it’s a lifestyle change and a journey.  I will have my moments and then I keep going. You do the same.  Until next time…

Room to Grow

My youngest and I have been butting heads quite a bit lately, to the point where I am feeling a space between us. One particular night, the gap felt overwhelmingly wide that the mere thought of it left me exhausted and spent. We don’t yell or scream at each other, its more of I’m trying to reach out to him and he’s more or less just wanting to do his own thing because he’s a teenager. On that particular night,  I found myself crying in my room and my youngest overheard.  He knocked on the door and asked if I was okay while I quickly dried my eyes and said, “Yes, I am. Everything’s good. Go to sleep baby. ” Before he went to bed, I made a point to tell him that he did nothing wrong.  I wanted him to know that I was just having a hard time letting him grow up.  We made a pact to talk more and for me to allow him the space to grow.   I kissed him goodnight and walked out into the living room.

I didn’t realize my oldest, who is graduating, had come home from work. He was sitting in the dark and quietly asked, “Mom why were you crying?” So we sat in the dark and talked about how some parents have a hard time with their child’s transition from baby to young adult. I asked him if he knew the meaning behind the saying “youth is wasted on the young”.  He didn’t know so I gave him my interpretation. When you’re young,  you are wanting to race to that next milestone, that next step that makes you closer to an adult. So you’re younger years become a time of just chasing, chasing, chasing and never taking the time to just relish the moment that you’re in. When you get to my age, you wish time would slow down and you realize quickly that the time you thought you had, well, has already passed you by. So my crying is more of grieving for wanting more time with them as children, reflecting on times where I might have made mistakes but most of all, my tears were more a realization of how many aspects of their adolescence I will miss. I told him that when you hear me cry with such fierce, you should understand that it’s more that I realize the blessings I have and how much of a treasure that each one of you are to me.   I’m grieving because my time with you thus far has been filled with wonder, beauty, and so much love. This bond we have is indescribably precious. Mourning is all I can do and what I must do to allow us to move on to the next phase in our lives together.  Take my tears as a symbol of how wonderful of a gift you have given me which is to share in a love so intensely warm and genuine that I’m able to lay this part to rest and welcome what is coming…more joys and discoveries.

With the future in mind, I had him promise me to take risks,  to not be afraid of what others think, to ask out that pretty girl, to apply for those jobs he doesn’t think he is qualified for, and not be afraid to be rejected. Because you have one life and the higher power will decide when it is your time. Time flies by in an instant so do what you can with what you have and fill your life was so much passion that one day you will find yourself, like me, grieving for the gifts that you must store away, to make room for the ones that have yet to be discovered.  

Thank you to my beautiful boys for all the happiness you have given me and the certain joys that lay ahead.

I offer you another sample of a day of “healthy” eatingĀ 

I learned quickly in my early years that managing your clock is important whether you are a student, stay-at-home hero, or a recovering patient (like me).  Going back to work, even during my ramp up, I’m busy.  I have to be even more diligent with my time because I have to add in activities such as home physical therapy exercises and to prepare separate meals for myself.  Although my family will eat most of the dinners I prepare , there are lines they will not cross, especially if it’s made out of kale and squash. Below are simple, quick, yummy and “healthy” meal ideas I’ve used in the last couple of weeks.  “Healthy” is in quotes because I have learned that nutrition and what is deemed good for you are in the eyes of the beholder.  I back this statement up with the unending articles of one type of diet over another so adjust anything I present in the camp that you are in.  For example, if I use gluten-free and you want whole wheat, go for it.  My mindset, and what appears to be working, is how I feel afterwards and if my body responds positively to the ingredients I use. Moderation is key when eating so some guidelines I aim for in a meal are: 4 to 6 ounces of lean protein, no more than 1/2 cup of fiber, fruits (esp. berries) and/or lots of veggies. For snacks, I try to keep fruits with raw nuts and eat them early in the day such as mid-morning.  Otherwise, my mid-afternoon snack, if needed, consists of veggies with hummus (read ingredients to make sure no hidden sugars, corn or wheat products).  Below is a sample day of main meals:

Breakfast-

Overnight oats

  • 1/2 cup of steel-cut organic oats
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp smooth Almond butter
  • 1 tsp of raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of fresh berries
  • 1 pint size mason jar

Add and mix all ingredients except fruit in clean mason jar.  Make sure oats are completely covered so if you have to, use a spoon to mash them down.  Place in refrigerator overnight.   The jar should look like this:

I don’t have time to make this mason jar look magazine ready. Remember, I’m busy!

Since I use steel-cut oats, I make mine on Sunday morning and I make 2 to 3 jars for the week with the remaining days choosing other alternatives such as a smoothie (refer to My Health Routine (while during recovery). Variety people! In the morning, I like to throw berries in and heat for a minute in the microwave (lids off please since they are metal).

Lunch –

A simple but delicious (at least to me) salad that can be quickly assembled.  If wanting to prep the night before because it’s not a day off meal or you are simply preparing for the week, place all ingredients together with the exception of salad dressing and avocado.  I would put the salad dressing in a mini container and swap out avocado for a mini Wholly GuacamoleĀ® pack. Place all ingredients in your salad containers and once ready to eat, simply add them. For one salad serving:

  • 2 cups of 50/50 spinach and spring mix (sometimes I just use kale but never iceberg or romaine, the darker the greens, the better, but again, baby steps so if you have to start with either, romaine is preferable and a-ok).
  • 4 ounces of lean grilled chicken breast (or rotisserie chicken breast with no added ingredients which you can ask your grocer, otherwise poach chicken breast in water for roughly 20 minutes as another alternative)
  • 1/2 cup of organic, low salt black beans-rinsed, drained and patted dry
  • 1/2 of a small avocado or 1 mini Wholly GuacamoleĀ® pack
  • 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes ( I like the medley ones mixed with orange, yellow and purple)
  • Optional-Salad dressing: 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil, 1/2 Tbsp of Balsamic vinegar (remember I eyeball it so taste along the way), squeeze of half a lime, salt and pepper to taste; I don’t usually need salad dressing especially when I am using guacamole but if you need that extra something this can be added.

 

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Compile all ingredients and enjoy!

 

Dinner –

This is the hardest meal to prepare for and to remember because of our busy lives, we are in a rush in the morning or at night.  So make sure to prep the day before by pulling out the frozen meat/protein you are wanting to use for the next day unless you bought it fresh and it’s already in the fridge.  Set a calendar reminder if needed but dinner time is important and the easiest time where you can fall into a trap and grab something quick like drive-thru. So grab these items on the way home if you don’t have them because they can cook in separate pans simultaneously.

Salmon with butternut squash/kale mix

Salmon:

  • 4-6 oz of wild caught raw Salmon (per person)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I like my salmon full of its natural flavor, feel free to use your favorite recipe but adjust based on difficulty (time people, time!) and ingredients to be aware of such as butter, soy, etc.

I simply brush olive oil on both sides of the salmon, sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper and then cook in a hot skillet brushed with olive oil for 10-15 minutes.  You will know if it’s done when it begins to flake.  I’ve read where people don’t recommend flipping but I like a little crisp on both sides of mine so I will flip half-way through. You do you!  I’m not a chef, just a mom on a mission. If grilling, use a cedar plank that has been soaked in water for an hour.  Simple but great and better yet, quick.

Butternut Squash with Kale

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into cubes
  • 1 16 ounce bag of kale
  • 1/2 cup of onion, minced (more if you like)
  • 1 Tbsp of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp of Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil in large electric skillet or large pan and add onion.  Cook until onion becomes slightly transparent and then throw in garlic.  Add butternut squash and the other Tbsp of Olive Oil.  Stir frequently, flipping to allow the squash to brown a little or caramelize (I’m using a big cooking word here, may not be correct, as a warning) on all sides.  When squash is slightly tender, add kale.  Continue cooking until kale is bright green and a little tender and the squash is fork tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

I will adjust this recipe and add cumin or maybe some spice such as red pepper flakes or even shaved almonds.  You can make it a hash too as its own meal by combining with cooked ground turkey.

When plating for dinner, you should have 1 serving of salmon and a cup of the butternut squash/kale mixture, leaning toward it being kale heavy.

**For you or your family, who may not like squash or kale,  replace with a salad or steamed vegetables from one of those freezer packs you can buy and microwave (no sauce).  If having steamed veggies, I add 1/2 of a sweet potato zapped in the microwave oven for my fiber portion of my plate and if the whole family is down with sweet potatoes, then make enough for everyone.  If your kids are like mine, I use regular potatoes for them.

I hope you enjoy these recipes!  Be creative, explore other recipes, make your own and experiment.  Once you get the hang of what you should and shouldn’t eat, you will be quicker at meal prep.  Remember, being healthy comes from making the meal yourself.  With baseball season starting, I am currently making sure that ingredients I need are always on hand in the fridge , freezer and pantry.  So prepping for those baseball nights or weekends is exactly like prepping for the work week.   Be diligent!  You can do this.  We are walking this journey together.

 

Boundless (Standing on my Own)

Dear Readers,

To begin, I completed my first week working half days as recommended by both my surgeon and Physical Therapist.  I faced several challenges in many areas but I grew from every situation and the best part, I recognized how much I have grown.  This week I said goodbye to the back brace and stood on my own, which was symbolic in many ways.  No matter what lay ahead, I knew that what I’ve learned along the way would serve me well and there will be obstacles that would simply needed to be overcome on my own..   Catch those last 3 words, folks, I will repeat it:  “on my own”.  There are always strength in numbers, but there are times when you have to face battles by yourself and when you do, you have to look inward and stay true to the skills, tools and lessons gathered along the way.

Weight wise, I ended the week at 226.6 lbs which puts me at a loss of 27.4 lbs thus far on this journey . Not as much of a difference as I would like but stressing out over starting the first day and making it through the week (refer to Approaching the next mile with meatloaf) really took a toll on me.  As many articles have stated, sometimes just being stressed can hinder weight loss even when you are doing everything else right.  However, I am still continuing to lose weight and that is great, heck, that is a win.

There were times throughout the week where I felt like a boxer preparing to get into a ring. My ring composed of something as simple as a flight of stairs or something complex as having tough conversations.  But I prepared myself for each and every one of those battles:  completing home PT exercises, praying for God to give me the strength and the words I needed during the right time and remembering to take time to meditate on the daily devotional. Saying simple words such as “I don’t have to impress anyone but God” helped me especially during tough personal conversations.  Whoever your higher power, remember those words and believe.

I can tell you that in my earlier years, I was a force to be reckoned with but as I grew older, life lessons wore me down, but let’s not get this twisted, I have never been, nor will I ever be, weak.  You , dear reader, may have been down a tough road and sometimes, find it tough to see a light, but there is one, and you may have to scratch, crawl, and dig yourself out of the hole to find the light, but YOU DO JUST THAT.  I have done that and I am embarrassed to say that I have allowed myself to be shafted or not reach my full potential thoughout my life thus far.  Getting through my first week, having tough conversations and staying true to myself were all indicators of how I am not the force I once was when younger, I am STRONGER.  I can climb those flight of stairs and I can lose this damn weight and most of all, I do have a voice that will be heard. I am a bright, intelligent, and beautiful woman who has a place in this world for a reason so although I may not always roar, my strength can be seen in my silence.  Another mile down, on to the next.

“When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter becomes irresistible”–Mahatma Gandhi

Stronger when kneeling

This week was filled with ups and downs for me, the highs being at work but there were lows. These lows were all on me because I allowed self doubt to creep in because, shamefully , I was embarrassed to walk around with a brace, to show an ounce of  weakness that served as a representation of my inner ones.   I stumbled and led myself to pizza and a donut.  But guess what…I don’t care.  I ate healthy for most of the week and jumped back on the horse.  I fell down and while kneeling, I prayed. Then I looked in the mirror and saw who I am, who I really am. I am beautiful, strong, filled with love, covered with scars and more importantly, I am a fighter.

I returned  to work this week for just a few hours and I can’t express how much I loved being with my team and regional manager. See it’s not everyday that you’re surrounded with such vibrant, beautiful women who role model enduring strength. I’m not sure if I am conveying my message clearly  I simply mean that in my utopia, power, strength and resilience are not traits that come with gender, they come from instincts, from experience, and from an inner willness to continue on, to thrive. 

“If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door.  If you love the sky and the water so much you can’t almost bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.” — Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with Wolves

All I know is when I hear or speak to those that are around me, I’m in awe. They each exude a sense of empowerment and a beauty in the way that they move, speak, work and collaborate. Throughout my recovery, these women gave support, moved mountains, and succeeded in ways that I can’t express. Each one of these women are at a different stage in discovering her path,  but this will come with time and through more experiences. As you have read in my previous blogs, I’m on my own path and I’ve learned along the way, that age isn’t an indication of the lessons you learn. Confidence and serenity grows inside us along the way and those beautiful pearls of wisdom are gathered as we stumble, falter and rise.

I work with very humble individuals on my team who would tell me when I say “thank you for all that you do” with the response of “its because of you.” As thankful as I am for their belief in me, I don’t believe in wearing their individual successes as badges of honor.  My role is to open doors for my team to explore, to aid in the team to blossom, to push themselves, to see that they can do more than they realize, and to also trust themselves to work as a team to reach a joint goal or vision.  They’re hard work is all their own and very well deserved. As a manager, I hope that my badge is the ability to create a team that understands how to work together, to be each other’s puzzle pieces and to endure. These were lessons I’ve learned along the way from great women who led me in the past such as my mother and Ann H. I’m excited because of the new lessons to come, because I’m already a touch bit  stronger and wiser.  So hello world, one mile down, onto the next one.