More Is More

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More Is More

I read an article today about one of the original cast members of the movie, Steel Magnolias. There are many lines in the movie that are memorable, but the one that really caught my attention today is “….more is more.” I’ve reached an age in life where more is definitely more and I need to get on with life to make sure that I’m able to spread more to others. I don’t mean to imply that I should spread myself thin, I simply mean that spreading Love and Peace to others should be my daily goal, not how much exercise can I squeeze in the day nor what can I buy today, but instead invest in the most simplistic form of reaching out to others through love, fellowship and food. I’ve decided that while I’m in-between jobs I am going to make good use of my spare time and volunteer. My passion is healthy eating and holistic wellness, however, there is a huge problem of people going hungry in this country. We are one of the richest countries in the world and there are millions of people who will go to bed hungry tonight. Talk about an epidemic………..I totally understand the feelings of fear regarding a potential Ebola pandemic, but what about all the children who are dying or are malnourished due to lack of food?

I personally know of a family that receives government assistance in the form of food stamps. The family consists of a woman and her son. They were getting right about $300 a month in food stamps. That’s for the whole month! My family of five typically eats about $300 dollars’ worth every week. I know there are many others out there who eat on that amount and feed more people. So, the question is, how are the unfortunate poor supposed to feed their families healthy food while on such a strict budget? I suppose one could suggest that if the family lived in the country they could grow a garden and reap the benefits of what Mother Earth provides, but what about those who live in the city? Or those who live in a neighborhoods that have laws forbidding them to grow vegetables in their own yards? I actually live in such a neighborhood where it is against the law to grow a vegetable garden in my front yard. Against the law to grow vegetables in one’s own yard? I can have a small garden in my backyard, but not the front. I’m sorry, but in my humble opinion, that is absolutely crazy. I pay my taxes, but because I live in the city limits I am not free to do as I please with MY yard.

Another concern I have revolves around the cost of health foods versus unhealthy foods. Let’s take one of the biggest fast food restaurants in the world, (I will not mention their name as I think their food is probably the unhealthiest fast food that money can buy), let’s call it the yellow arches restaurant or simply YA fast food. As an example: let’s say that you are a family of 6 with 4 being children and you decide that you will give the kids a treat and take them to YA for dinner and you only have $20 to spare. Are you going to buy them burgers for only a $1 each or are you going to try to feed your family of 6 each a healthy grilled chicken salad with low-fat dressing for around $6 a piece. Simple math shows that you can buy 6 small burgers, 6 order of fries and 6 small drinks for less than $20; while purchasing healthy salads and bottled waters for everyone will cost around $42, more than double what your budget allows. This example clearly shows that eating healthier is not a viable option for many families across this country alone, let alone considering families across the globe. So, because healthier foods cost approximately double the amount of unhealthy foods, this “pandemic” creates more and more unhealthy people, which causes healthcare costs to spin out of control due to obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Those three diseases alone are preventable, in most cases, through educational opportunities and practical application. How does one practically apply nutritional education when one lives below the poverty line? This is the constant conundrum that drives me to finding solutions to this rapidly evolving problem, (pandemic).

While I am considering every possibility for change, I will devote my time to helping those in need through volunteering at my local food bank. I challenge each of you to take 30 minutes of your time once or twice a week helping others. It’s really nice to think about those in need, but in order for good intentions to create a real difference, those nice thoughts need arms and legs and fingers and toes in order to actually do something about said thoughts. When you help others, help will be there for you when you need it. I am firm believer in “what goes around, comes around,” “you reap what you sow,” and the law of attraction. In this case, MORE IS MORE.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

16 oz fresh cranberries

1/2 cup water

Lemon juice, squeezed from 2 lemons

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup local honey, (I used Muscadine grape honey)

Directions:

Put the cranberries and water in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Cook until the cranberries “pop.” Remove from heat, add in the lemon juice, cinnamon and honey, if desired. You can use cane sugar, brown sugar, or whatever sweetener you wish to use in place of honey. Allow the mixture to cool. Put into a airtight container and place in the refrigerator. It will keep for about 2 weeks. Makes about 6 (1/2 cup) servings.

***Adjust the sweetness to your tastes. I like to eat them with a bit of tartness.

Finding Joy in the Journey

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It took a trip to the grocery store today for me to figure out what the next step in my life should be. I know, it sounds crazy. However, I was literally walking down the cracker aisle and struggling to make a selection. I’d come to a point in my life where I couldn’t even choose what kind of crackers I wanted to buy. How pathetic is that? So I stopped and asked myself, “what do I want?” I paused and quieted my mind, stopping the incessant chatter that goes on inside my mind all the time. I must have looked a little crazy to the innocent bystander who had no idea what I was doing. After a seemingly long time, the answers came flooding in and not just about crackers :)

Suddenly, it was if the flood doors opened and it all made perfect sense for that brief moment. Do you ever have moments of clarity? Or am I the only one who struggles holding on to one thought at a time for more than a millisecond? Once I had made up my mind to only purchase items that I wanted my life began to zoom into focus. This weight loss journey is about much more than food, as I imagine it is for many of you, too. I’m reminded of a piece of art that I recently saw and admire for its very simplistic message, “Find Joy in the Journey.” For me, it’s usually when I am doing the most mundane of chores that I find a small glimpse of peace and clarity for what options are before me. I don’t think there is only one specific thing that any of us are supposed to do in this life. I think there are many different avenues of which we can choose from. I am hopeful that I can find what I’m looking for in one of them.

Having had weight loss surgery opened up doorways inside my mind that have been closed for many years. When each one opens a new set of fears or lost hopes and dreams come to the surface. This is a painful process, but I have to go through it in order to reach the other side. Now, the question is what do I do with all those pent-up feelings? A wise medical professional advised that I release these pent-up emotions through anger therapy. He had read a paper written by a medical professional in Canada that suggested trying anger therapy for patients who suffer from anxiety. He further suggested that anxiety is simply anger that has been held inside the patient’s mind and needs to find a way of release, (anger that has been turned inward). This information was given to me several years ago in response to my having an anxiety attack. I explained to the doctor that I really didn’t want to go on anti-anxiety medication, but I wanted to get to the root cause of my problems. Anger therapy, in the sense that it was explained to me, is finding a way to vent all the pent-up anger that some of us carry around with us. The article suggested high-impact aerobic activities like kickboxing, running, hiking, aerobic exercise, etc. I became quite intrigued with the information as it seemed as if the article was written about me. So, I started walking every evening and especially when I felt upset or overwhelmed. I also began deep breathing exercises for 10 minutes at a time twice a day. I cut out all caffeine and limited sugar from my diet. I started drinking more water and cut back on drinking diet sodas. I’ve since given up diet sodas and personally they were the hardest to give up. I stopped watching the news everyday or reading disturbing headlines. I don’t mindlessly watch TV anymore. I am very intentional about what I watch. I record the 3-4 shows I watch per week so that I can skip all the commercials and only watch them when I want to. Anyway, I could go on and on, but the gist of this whole dialogue is that it WORKED for me. I did not take the anti-anxiety medication that was prescribed for me and I haven’t had an anxiety attack since that day 3 years ago. I’m not suggesting that I won’t possibly have another one, but if I do, I will remind myself the steps I’ve taken before to help me through it. (To any of you reading this who takes anti-anxiety medication – I am not advocating that you stop taking your medication. You have to do what is right for you. I am simply explaining what worked for me).

In my moment of clarity down the cracker aisle, I realized that I’m not going to figure it all out in one moment. That’s why it’s called a Journey. This is just one small dot of time in my weight loss journey. I have to be willing to face those feelings that  I thought were long ago dealt with, but in reality I stuffed them down inside my mind with food. I used food as a security blanket. It’s warm and comfy as long as you stay still, but as soon as you want to get out from under the blanket and be fully present with yourself and others then the blanket begins to feel stifling. To date, I’ve lost 60 pounds and I’m hoping to lose about 90 more pounds. I can’t even imagine what my life will look like and feel like when I’ve lost all the excess weight. But one thing is for sure, I am ready and willing to find out and I am ever hoping to find joy in the journey.

Nutritious Foods after Weight Loss Surgery

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I always try to keep some Tyson Grilled & Ready Chicken Breast Strips on hand all the time. You get 19 grams of protein in just 3 ounces and only 2.5 grams of fat. For those of you that don’t know, I am 5 months post-op for vertical sleeve gastrectomy, (weight loss surgery). I’ve lost 60 pounds to date. Woo hoo! You pop the chicken breast strips in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes and voila’ they are done. I’m eating some homemade cole slaw with mine today, but you can add whatever you want. Some days I eat some raw veggies and a piece of low-fat string cheese. My new and improved stomach can hold about 6 ounces at one time. Others of you who have had weight loss surgery may be able to hold more or maybe even less. My nutritionist has encouraged me to eat 3 times a day and maybe 1 snack, but it’s been hard due to my work schedule. I usually end up eating 4-5 times per day and the 5th time is usually a snack. I say, “whatever works for you, do it.” Only you know your own body. I eat about every 4 hours throughout the day, which in my opinion is optimal to maintain steady blood sugar levels. Trust me, no one wants to be around me when I’m cranky due to lack of food.

For anyone interested, here is my cole slaw recipe:

1/2 head cabbage, your choice of green or purple – it all tastes the same to me, (the purple is festive!)

1/4 of a large red onion

2-3 carrots, peeled, (if they are organic, you don’t have to worry about peeling them)

1-2 tablespoons of reduced-fat Mayo, (I prefer Blue Plate or Duke’s – whatever you prefer)

1-2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar

2 teaspoons of local honey OR 2 packets of no-calorie sweetener

garlic powder, to taste

black pepper, optional

Sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Chop all the veggies with a sharp knife or pop them into a food processor and it’s done in less than a minute. In a separate bowl mix together the mayo, vinegar, garlic, pepper, salt and either honey or no-calorie sweetener. Once mixed, add the wet ingredients to the veggies and stir. Place in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Makes about 4 (1/2 cup) servings.

***I used 2 teaspoons of local Muscadine honey in mine simply because I am trying to eat more “whole” foods. If you are diabetic or glucose intolerant/sensitive, check with your physician or nutritionist before using honey. You can also use raw cane sugar or whatever else you use for an alternative sweetener to regular white sugar.

The ingredients in cole slaw have some great nutritional benefits AND it’s much cheaper to make your own! Cabbage is a good source of fiber, calcium, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Vitamin K, potassium and Vitamin B6. Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A and red onions help improve your immune system. There are many benefits to consuming apple cider vinegar and you can read about them here: http://authoritynutrition.com/6-proven-health-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar/.

Well, that’s all for today folks! Until next time………

Not All Who Need Teaching Are Ready To Be Taught

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For the last two months I worked as a temporary employee at a local oil company. My role there was an Accounting Clerk and let me tell you……….I learned very quickly that I am NOT naturally inclined to Accounting. Ugh!!!!! There are some out there who thrive in that environment and maybe you are one of them. I mean no disrespect to anyone, but it’s not for me! I can’t believe that it’s been so long since I’ve posted on here, but when you work a full-time job and then go home and work a second full-time job as a seemingly single parent – some things get pushed to the wayside. However, I’m back! I officially left that job this morning and will be starting a new job this coming Friday working from home. Now that I’ll be working from home, I will hopefully have more to time to devote what is most important to me, health and wellness, and sharing what I learn with each of you. Wherever you are on your journey, I’m right here with you.

I’ve come to learn that in life there are three main types of people who come into our lives. Those who we learn something from. Those of whom WE teach something. Those who come across our paths and there is really no action needed, except to observe. Not all who need teaching are ready to be taught. I have experienced all three in these last few weeks. I suppose the best lesson that I’ve learned is that not all people are what they seem. Even the ones that you think are really good people can be deceitful and lie to your face all the while planning ways to contribute to your failure. It is their actions that I watch, not necessarily the words that come from their mouths. My Mother once gave me some wise advice – keep your mouth shut and your ears open, you’ll learn alot. Wow! What profound words, Mom! I also learned that sometimes when you meet someone and think that they are snobby or aloof, that’s not always the case. Maybe they are preoccupied in their own misery to notice anyone new in their immediate environment. Anyway, enough already about my most recent job. My heart goes out to those who are absolutely miserable working there. You know who you are.

One thing that I noticed immediately about myself while working at my last job was that every chance I got, whether it be on my lunch break or one of my 10-minute breaks, I would read everything I could about alternative and complimentary health. My heart was truly NOT at my job, but a million miles away thinking about the kind of life that I really want. My hope and goal is to be a teacher to those that would learn, a messenger of hope to those who would dare to consider that life could be better and a beacon of communication to those who are searching for answers. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts about envisioning what this blog can become. I am devoted to learning all that can and then providing that information on here. One thing that I found a little funny about myself while working at my previous job was finding myself playing nurse-maid and counselor to those around me. A few days ago my co-worker came to work with obvious cold-like symptoms. I could hear her hacking cough, her sniffling nose and her demonstrative sneezes through the cubicle walls that separated us. My first thought was not that it was annoying me and keeping me from working, but how could I help her? I immediately began thinking of natural remedies to help her. I wrote them down on a piece of paper and walked over to her desk. I began to ask about her symptoms and the duration of each. As I handed her the paper, I realized that it was as if I was handing her a prescription. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself and explained to her what I just realized about myself. As she read the paper, she began to ask me questions about what I had written down. I patiently explained to her why she should follow my advice and the scientific reasons behind it. It never even occurred to me that one of my bosses could have come by and saw me not working, but counseling my co-worker about her health. Just last night while going through the check-out line at the store, the cashier began telling me about her dermatitis and what treatment would I recommend. Everywhere I go people come up to me, friends, family and total strangers, and talk about their health problems. I think that instead of ME finding my calling – it has found me. Thank the Good Lord above!!!!!!

To any of you that may read any of my posts for the first time or to any of you who follow this blog……..thanks for reading and/or following. I am back with a renewed sense of urgency to continue the path for which I believe I was born to follow. My purpose is beckoning me along with a seemingly sense of urgency. It’s as if the Universe is telling me that I don’t have time to dawdle anymore. It’s time to get down to business and fulfill my life’s purpose. This blog began as a way to connect with those who struggle with obesity and weight loss. Which, by the way, I am down 60 pounds so far! Woo hoo! I am beginning to realize that I have so much to contribute. This girl needs teaching and I’m ready to listen and learn. As I learn, I will teach. In order to teach, the teacher must first learn the lesson.

Peace & Love – may you find it, embrace it and spread it around!

Blind Faith

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Today I was reading about all the chemicals that most of us put on our bodies everyday by way of deodorant, shampoo. soap, etc. We put chemicals on our skin. We drink them. We eat them in our food. We breathe them. We are told that they are good for us. We naively go along with this belief system until something stops us dead in our tracks, no pun intended. A close relative has been recently diagnosed with Lupus, which is an autoimmune disease. For those of you who don’t know what that is, you can read about it here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupus. I have been there from the beginning with her before she received her diagnosis and along the way since. It is a horrible disease and it slowly kills its victim, but not without causing all kinds of havoc upon the body with really weird symptoms sometimes. So, through my researching this disease it has become more and more apparent to me that what we put in and on our bodies DOES affect our overall health. I’m not suggesting that she brought this disease upon herself. I’m simply stating that I have made the connection in my mind that some diseases are completely preventable with changing one’s diet and exercise. Even though she suffers daily with this disease and as of today there is no known cure for it, she can, however, improve her overall quality of life, her immune system and energy levels by her attitude, better food choices and other such common sense remedies that most of us have forgotten. 

We are bombarded by the media about how being exposed to the sun is so bad for our skin. Yet, we need to get sunshine everyday for our bodies to produce Vitamin D. Granted, we don’t need to lie out in the sun and bake for hours. We can get adequate exposure at around 15-20 minutes. We, as an American society, horde up sunscreen like there is no tomorrow and because we use it all the time most of us walk around with Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D has been shown to help facilitate normal immune system function, the normal growth and development of bones and teeth, and improved resistance against certain diseases, including cancer. Obviously, we can take supplements when we are lacking the “sunshine” vitamin. I have been taking Vitamin D for several years after I was diagnosed with some benign thyroid nodules. I was advised to take Vitamin D to help prevent those nodules from turning into cancer. I take it religiously and hope for the best. For those of us who are carrying around extra weight, vitamin D deficiencies are problematic and very common. If you are interested in reading what the correlations are between obesity and Vitamin D deficiencies, you can read about it here: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/link-between-obesity-and-vitamin-d-clarified.

Over these last few months of beginning the whole surgical weight loss process and then having the subsequent weight loss surgery, I have been awakened with a passion for helping others, especially the bariatric community. I’m hoping that with sharing my surgical weight loss journey with you that you can find hope for leading a healthier life, too. It’s not easy! I’m sure you know that if you are like the millions of other Americans who struggle with being overweight and obese. I have been remiss in adding some of the recipes that I have been using for the last 3 months since surgery. I plan to add some meal plans, recipes and suggestions on here as soon as possible. The more I read the more I feel fired up with excitement to share what I’m learning with you. I have been making changes all the time and implementing them into my family’s diets as well. I am currently researching everything I can about creating natural beauty products. I look at it this way: if I went to all the trouble I did having weight loss surgery and having to drastically change my diet and lifestyle then I’m going to change everything else, too. I stopped drinking tap water 3 months ago. I only drink filtered water now. We have hard water where I live and I definitely don’t want to end up lining my kidneys and bladder with calcium and lime from tap water, which can cause all kinds of health problems. I feel like I was given a new leash on life having had weight loss surgery. I take care of my body now and I’m careful about what I put in and on my body, but, I’m still learning so I know that there are some things that need improvement and change. 

The premise for this blog is really still in its infancy. I have hopes and dreams for what all I want to accomplish. I finally feel like I have found my calling in life and I’m going with my gut, pun intended, and moving forward on blind faith.As I learn I will share with you. We will combat the disease of Obesity together, one person at a time. One moment at a time, if need be.I learned a very valuable lesson a few years ago: in order to teach, the teacher must first learn the lesson. I must have been destined to be a teacher because I have sure had my share of learned lessons. Hopefully, we can all learn something and pass it along until the message is loud and clear and collectively, all of us will become the change we want to see in the world.

 

Until next time…………….Namaste’  :)

Spreading Love Through Food

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Spreading Love Through Food

So I went to the doctor today because I have not been feeling my fabulous, sexy self for the last week or so……I really hoped that losing weight would help with some chronic conditions that I have suffered with my entire life. They have improved, but unfortunately not resolved entirely. I’m talking about having weak lungs, not anything to do with weight loss surgery. I was born with weakened lungs and have dealt with asthma and bronchitis my entire life. I can literally go weeks without having to use my rescue inhaler. Last week something triggered a reaction and things began to spiral out of control. So anyway, I saw my regular family doctor today and reiterated that I have had weight loss surgery and have lost about 40 pounds. I wasn’t expecting a pat on the back or anything but they didn’t remark upon it at all. Okay whatever…….I thought. So as I’m going to the check-out window to pay my bill I look down and see that there are several sheets of paper in my hand. I look past the initial one and find 2 sheets explaining the benefits of weight loss and a sample menu. WTF????? Didn’t I just explain that I had undergone weight loss surgery and have to date lost 40 pounds? Obviously, the doc did not listen. How many other patients will not be heard today? How many conditions will go undiagnosed due to human error? How many will have to suffer because they didn’t use the correct words to convey their symptoms?

I am fortunate and blessed that I have taken anatomy, physiology and terminology classes and have also worked for various doctor’s offices. I would really hate to think what my overall health would be if I were like so many others in the world who don’t how to talk to a doctor or health professional. Still yet, I couldn’t help but feel a little pissed that I was so blatantly judged and labelled. You see – I know exactly how it feels to be a fat person and also a thin person. I have been both. It’s physically hard living as a fat person. At my highest weight I had almost no energy to do anything. The least bit of activity completely wore me out. The emotional pain was unbearable. To live in a world that is consumed with having a perfect outer appearance and being perpetually young is really hard if you don’t fit into either of those. It’s make you feel invisible.

I’ve come to the conclusion that all of us have a purpose for being here on Earth. I really believe that each of us were born with some kind of gift or talent that if we exercised would create a better world for all of us to enjoy. The problem is that most of us go around searching in all the wrong places trying to figure out what else there is to life. I have said countless times over the course of my life that I wonder what is missing. “Is this all there is to life?”

One day a couple of years ago, seemingly from nowhere, the thought hit me…….”In order to teach, the teacher must first learn the lesson.” Wow! In that split second it all made sense. You ever have those moments of such divine clarity that you feel overfilled with understanding to the point of imploding? That was one such moment for me. For those 4-5 seconds everything made perfect sense to me. I said those words over and over in my mind and out loud committing them to memory. At the time I was working in one of the worst possible industries for me – Sales. I was so unhappy working in that particular job. It caused me undue stress which ended up negatively affecting my health.  I’ve come to realize that some jobs are not worth doing. It’s best to know what your strengths and weaknesses are in order to move on to something better suited to your personality, aptitude and values.

So what have I learned about myself, especially since having weight loss surgery? I think I have finally found my calling. Friends, family and even total strangers come up to me with their problems and asking for my advice. Here in the last few years the questions have been more and more to do with health and wellness. I have decided that if given the chance to go back to school I want to become a Dietitian/Nutritionist/Nutritional Counselor/Health Coach. I realize that there some differences between those titles, but ultimately the end result is the same. I want to help people who are struggling with health and wellness. We all have to eat in order to survive. I strongly believe that what you put into your body will either help in the body’s innate healing process or it will enable sickness and dis-ease to take root thereby creating a breeding ground for preventable conditions such as hypertension and diabetes and obesity. I can help people struggling with obesity.  I can approach each individual with empathy and understanding. I can learn to help others who are suffering with other diseases and conditions. Maybe changing their diets won’t cure their problems, but it can definitely improve their overall quality of life. I’m currently working on creating a diet and menu for my Mom who has Lupus. I am convinced that some of her symptoms will improve over time as she incorporates some of the Earth’s natural remedies into her overall diet. I’m not suggesting that she will be cured. I encourage her to continue taking the medications that have been prescribed to her.

In the meantime, do something to help yourself and buy local organic food whenever possible. The big supermarket chains won’t notice if you don’t shop there, but the local farmers will. You can make a difference in the lives of the farmers in your area. Learn what foods are in season and try to create some new and healthy dishes that your family will grow to love. If you do nothing different with your diet at all at least try to drink more water. Most people walk around dehydrated and don’t even know it. Dehydration can turn serious really quick.

Until next time…….be safe, be healthy and spread the love.

 

Learning To Be Happy Just As I Am

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Good morning, good afternoon and good evening to all the beautiful people in the world!

It is still morning here where I am and I just finished my breakfast of 2 scrambled eggs with a piece of low-fat string cheese. I’ve also had 3 small bites of plain oatmeal with a chopped strawberry and I am stuffed!!! For those of you that don’t know, I had weight loss surgery back in May and to date I have lost 40 pounds. Woohoo and hallelujah! My days consist of eating 3 meals, usually 4-5 hours apart and one small snack before bed. I drink water and water-based drinks all day long in between meals. However, after a meal I cannot drink anything for about 30 minutes. My altered stomach can only hold so much. Putting food and liquid in there at the same time makes me very uncomfortable. If I put too much liquid or food in my stomach or put it in there too fast, it will come back up. Sorry if that is too much information, but that is my daily reality! Most days I don’t even think about my altered stomach, but it has taken weeks to finally get to this point.

In the beginning, after weight loss surgery, I had alot of head hunger; meaning that I thought I wanted to eat, but I really couldn’t physically ingest more food. I started out eating every three hours just like a newborn baby. The consistency of the foods I ate were more along the lines of baby food-consistency. I went through a bit of feeling depressed for a while when my family came home with junk food and I couldn’t eat it. However those feelings have passed, thank God. Nowadays, I eat for fuel so that I can have energy to get through my day. At least I no longer have strong food aversions. It’s really hard trying to eat when everything is unappetizing. I think I went through a mourning phase for food. It was a shock to my body. I had pretty much whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and then all of a sudden I was consuming 300-500 calories a day. I haven’t had any Advil or caffeine since the end of April. That was hard giving up those two things! The hardest thing for me to give up was diet soft drinks. I used to drink them all day long. I had actually convinced myself that diet Ginger Ale would settle an upset stomach. In reality, I don’t think it did. I could have just taken a Gas-X and got the same results.

I don’t have hunger pangs and I no longer eat “by the clock.” So how do I know when to eat? Usually when I need to eat I start to feel shaky. My heart races. I start feeling cold all over. I feel empty and light-headed. I can drink some water and feel okay for a few minutes, but when my body needs fuel, it needs food. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much for me to feel full and within a few minutes I feel exponentially better. I have to be careful what I eat, though. I have to be conscientious of how much fat, sugar and carbs are in the foods that I eat. If I get too much of any of those I will start feeling nauseated. If I eat too many carbs I will start feeling uncontrollably sleepy. I try to get my carbs from veggies and fruits. Every few days or so I might eat some whole wheat crackers. This morning I had three small bites of oatmeal. Oatmeal seems to be a better choice of carbs than crackers for me. I have eaten about 4 bowls of Cheerios in the last 3 months. Sometimes I crave them, but it’s not very often. I haven’t eaten any bread. I don’t want it. I tried a piece of pasta and it didn’t make it past the inside of my mouth. The texture tasted so disgusting to me. I haven’t had pizza since April. It used to make my mouth water just smelling it, but now I don’t have any feelings towards it at all. Isn’t that funny that I keep referring to food and how it makes me feel?

Some of you might wonder if I could have just lost the weight without having surgery. The answer is no. I tried for years to lose the weight on my own and the most I ever lost was 26 pounds and that took 6 months. I never realized how addicted I was to sugar and carbs until I had to go on the 10-day pre-op liquid protein diet. I went through withdrawals as my body shifted into ketosis. I was then that I realized just how much of a problem I had with food. It wasn’t a matter of self-discipline it was literally a matter of addiction. Yes, a food addiction. All of us need to eat in order to live. I ate whenever I felt hungry, of course, but also for every kind of unhealthy reason as well. I am an emotional eater. Even now after having weight loss surgery if I begin to experience something very unpleasant, I immediately start thinking that I need to eat. I have begun to realize that having a burning sensation in my stomach and/or a feeling of not being able to take a deep breath has nothing to do with hunger. I used food as a way to deal with stress.

I won’t lie and say that it’s been easy. It hasn’t! I can’t “eat” my emotions anymore so I have to find other ways to deal with the emotional roller coaster ride inside my mind. I am much more vocal about my feelings. I no longer stuff my emotions with food. I literally can’t. I am more out-spoken. I don’t try to be whatever everyone expects of me. I am real and this is a feeling of being raw and exposed. I laugh when I feel like laughing. I smile when I feel like smiling. I give my honest opinion when someone asks for it. I have learned to say “no” when I don’t want to do something. I feel empowered. Sometimes I’m bossy. Sometimes I’m in a bad mood. When I need time to myself, I take it and I don’t feel guilty.

Overall, weight loss surgery has worked wonderfully well for me so far. My only regret is that I didn’t have it sooner. I have said for years that if I hadn’t lost the weight on my own by the age of 40 then I would have weight loss surgery and that’s what I did. I gave myself the gift of better health and improved quality of life. I am learning to be happy just as I am and it feels wonderful!

Existential Crisis

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I think I’ve been going through an existential crisis of sorts. Either that or I am going bat-shit crazy. Since having weight loss surgery I have undergone so many changes so fast that it would make any sane person’s head spin and sometimes I don’t feel so sane. Some days it feels like my mind is about a month behind what’s going on with my body. For example, I recently purchased some new clothes in my new smaller size. One specific piece of clothing is a cotton top that is periwinkle, my new favorite color. I put it in the washer and then the dryer. When I got it out of the dryer I really thought that it had shrunk. I was starting to feel upset that the new shirt had shrunk when I got the idea to try it on just to make sure. Lo and behold, it had not shrunk, I had. It was a bewildering moment. My brain was clearly not in sync with my body.

I’ve also noticed that as I lose more weight some of my interests that have lain dormant for years are resurfacing. I am much more interested in fashion and beauty products. I’m actually considering going to Cosmetology school in a few weeks. Me? Going to Cosmetology school at the age of 40? I’ve wanted to do for more than 20 years. I specifically remember a time when I was around 20 years old that I seriously considered it. I visited 3 different schools in the area and gathered all the necessary information to enroll. At the time, I ended up deciding not to pursue it. I had just recently begun giving private music lessons from my own personal studio space inside a large music store. At the time I really thought that I was going to become very successful as a Musician. Teaching music was my “day job” and I was going to become the next best Music Composer or so I thought. I had aspirations of writing theme music for movies and TV shows. My dream was to get signed by a record company as a New Age pianist. Wow! All the things we dream up when we’re young!!!! Only a couple of years later I became a Mother for the first time. Over the next 15 years I taught piano and violin lessons as a way to make extra income for my growing family of three sons.

I have recently been looking for a job again. It’s been about 10 weeks since surgery and I’m ready to get out there and start making some money. I have had no luck so far in finding a job. I’ve only been searching for about 4 weeks. I have had a couple of interviews but I have not received any job offers. Since weight loss surgery I really can’t stand the thoughts of working in an office. I have worked through a temp agency for the last several years as a medical office associate. I’ve done it enough to know that I absolutely cannot stand the thoughts of doing that for the rest of my life. Now that I’ve lost about 35 pounds I have so much energy now that it would be really hard for me to sit behind a desk all day long. During the last few weeks I have taken several personality and career aptitude tests on the internet. None of them have ever suggested that clerical type work would fulfill me. I know that…without taking a test to confirm it. So….it dawned on me today…..while I was feeling rather low and sorry for myself….maybe now is the time to revisit the idea of going back to school. For the last several years I have contemplated the idea of becoming a Licensed Massage Therapist, an Esthetician or Hair Stylist. I have this idea of becoming both a Licensed Massage Therapist and Esthetician. I’ve though about going to school to become a Massage Therapist first. It only takes about 6 months to complete. Get a job and then take Esthetic classes part-time while working. Or vice versa. Then I think about just taking the whole Cosmetology course so I have more options.

I live in an area that is economically depressed and there really aren’t many job options except working in healthcare AND hair, of course. I’ve come to the conclusion that most women are very particular about their hair. One time when I was at my hairdresser’s waiting my turn I noticed an elderly lady waiting patiently in the lobby area of the salon. When it was her turn to have her hair done she slowly stood up and steadied herself on her walker. A few minutes later my hairdresser announced that she was ready for me. As I sat in the chair she explained that the elderly lady was her 87-year-old grandmother who still came in for her weekly wash and curl. The lady had pretty advanced dementia and could barely walk, but “by grannies,” (pardon the pun), it was still a top priority for her to have nice looking hair. She couldn’t remember her children’s names half the time, but she knew when it was time for her weekly hair appointment.

The last temp job I did was at a women’s cancer center. I sat at the check-out window collecting co-pays and making future appointments for the patients after they saw the doctor. You would not believe how many women would schedule their doctor appointments and chemo treatments around their hair appointments. I am totally convinced that there is definitely a demand for a talented and hard-working hair stylist these days. I look at it this way: anything worth having in life takes hard work and I’m not afraid of a little hard work. I’ve thought long and hard about the longevity of a cosmetology career for myself. I’ve asked myself what will I do when I’m 50 or 60? Will I still be doing hair or waxing old lady’s upper lips? There are far worse jobs out there. I can’t really worry too much about what I’ll be doing when I’m 50. That’s 10 years away. I might not even live another 10 years. With my Dad having been diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago and my Mom’s recent Lupus diagnosis….who’s to say that I’ll even live that long? Yes, I totally get it that all of us need to somewhat plan our future resources. I am fortunate and blessed that my husband’s job allows for not only his retirement but mine as well and I don’t work there, he does.

I envision myself going to school, finishing at the top of my class, getting an awesome first job, working under a brilliantly talented boss learning as much as possible and then one day opening up my own hair salon. That has been my dream for so long. Maybe I will do just that and by the time I am 50 I will have a successful career and a profitable business. I have the guts to do that very thing of what I just mentioned at the age of 40 than I would have at age 20. I realized something else today, too. Each of us were meant to be different from one another. I can’t compare myself, my life, my successes with others. I am unique and my family situation is unique. I’ve done what I’ve supposed to do with my life up to this point in my life. I did what I was meant to do. Having weight loss surgery is the catalyst that has finally helped me to pursue dreams from long ago. I’ve also learned throughout the years that what I do for a living has nothing to do with my intellect. In fact, I am more interested in pursuing something that will allow me to be creative. I value my creative and artistic abilities much more than intellect. Although it takes a bit of intellect to create a successful business. I have decided that I will be happy no matter what I do, but I would really like to be able to have the best of both worlds. And if that means I need to go back to school to make it happen then that is what I’ll do.

 

Until next time……..or until my next existential crisis………..Peace & Love – may you find it, embrace it and spread it around!

There’s Nothing But Blue Skies Ahead

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I can’t believe it’s been a month since I’ve written a post! No wonder I’ve been going around with a crazy-eye look…..it’s been scary around here. So much has happened since my last post. Oh my goodness, I don’t even know where to start and to be honest, I’m not sure that I should really share that much of my personal life with the entire world anymore – not that it has stopped me before.  Suffice it to say, many things have transpired that needed to. Have you ever heard the saying, “all things happen for a reason?” I wholeheartedly believe in that concept.

I have been busy working on myself and pondering life-altering questions, like “who am I? what do I want out of life? what am I willing to sacrifice?” I watched a You tube video a while back and the person that posted the video posed the question of what is it that you are most resistant to doing in life? What suffering have you gone through that has created a passion inside you that you must now fulfill as your calling in life? After much consideration….let me tell you, I have driven myself crazy with that one, I decided that I am most passionate about helping others through nutrition and counseling. So that sort of sums up the first two questions. The last question stumped me. I don’t currently have the education or credentials to jump right in and become a nutritional counselor, but I am willing to sacrifice time and money to get to the place where I can. Now that I’ve come to that conclusion, I’ve also realized that there was a reason that I started this blog. Of course, I started it as a way to log my progress and hopefully along the way could inspire others who are struggling with weight loss, too. But now I also realize that this blog could be so much more. This blog is my jumping-off point, so to speak.

I have so many ideas of how I want to implement “my calling” into every aspect of my life. I will be changing this blog from time to time as my vision becomes reality. I have so much information that I want to share. I feel like the life that I’ve always envisioned for myself is finally coming to fruition. It doesn’t happen overnight like a fierce thunderstorm, but more like a light and steady rainfall that you hardly even notice until you step out in it and you feel the first raindrops upon your skin. I currently have two other blogs on WordPress and I am contemplating how to incorporate all of them into one. It’s going to be a huge blog.

Back to weight loss, I have lost a total of 35 pounds so far! Woohoo! Yay for me! The first two to three weeks after weight loss surgery were the hardest. I used to get depressed when my family came home with candy bars and junk food and I couldn’t eat it. The most tempting for me was diet sodas. Thankfully, all of that has passed and I no longer have any desire for those things. It really took several weeks for me to get over the sugar withdrawals. Nowadays, I’m doing good if I get 10 grams of sugar for the entire day! Most days I don’t even get 10 grams.

I am eating a low-carb, low-sugar, low-fat, moderate protein diet. About 95% of the carbs I eat come from vegetables and fruits. I do eat 3-4 whole wheat crackers every other day or so. I still haven’t had any bread. I tried pasta last night and it made me want to gag. The texture is so gross to me now. I have finally got to the point where I eat 3 meals and one snack. It was a very gradual transition for me to go from eating 6 small meals to 3 meals plus a snack. I usually eat my snack after my last meal of the day. I try to get in a daily walk. I try to walk a different route each time so that my muscles are always guessing. I have got to the point where I can walk 1 mile within 20 minutes, which is awesome for me. Before weight loss surgery it took 30 minutes for me to walk 1/2 mile. Usually twice a week, I go on a short hike up in the woods and I usually walk for an hour or more. Again, I like to keep my body wondering what I’m doing so that my body will not get used to the same routine all the time and only use certain muscles.

I have taken pictures of myself over the last several weeks and I can tell a big difference. I’m actually able to see my jaw bones in my face again. I have gone down two dress sizes. I’ve sold most of my bigger clothes on eBay. I visit my local thrift shops quite frequently and buy inexpensive clothes to replace the ones that swallow me now. Overall, I feel lighter. Weight loss surgery has not been a cure-all for everything though. I still have to work hard at weight loss. It is an everyday struggle. However, the surgery is an awesome tool to have. I eat until I’m full and that’s it. I don’t worry about food again until it’s time to eat again. I don’t think about it. My family has gradually begun eating healthier, too. I don’t have cravings. I did have a strong aversion to food for a while, but thankfully, I am pretty much over that now. It’s really hard to follow a strict diet when you don’t want to eat and you feel nauseated when you do.

Another by-product of weight loss is quite interesting. With each pound that comes off, more and more of my true authentic self rises up. I don’t put up with anyone’s crap anymore. I let people know how I feel and also let them know if they have crossed a boundary with me. When I’m upset I don’t hold my feelings back. I have every right to be treated well. I am becoming more social. I have contacted some friends that I haven’t seen in a long time and we are making plans to get together. All in all, things are pretty good right now. I can foresee a better future and I’m looking forward to it.

 

Until next time…..