Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Blog!

If anyone's still out there, please follow me over at my new blog!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stationery card

Wave Of Cheer Holiday Card
Turn family photos into holiday cards at
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Where I've Been

I don't know anyone who actually still checks to see if I've posted here or not.  And this is likely to be my last entry in this space, other than a notice when I relocate.

Two entries ago I was doing a little "10 days" meme, which I never finished... but the question was about who I'd been closest to for the longest.  And I posted a picture of my mom and I.  Little did I know that just a couple months later, she would be gone from my life.

My mom died.

After I wrote that entry, she was actually able to come home from the nursing home.  On March 1st, she came home.  She was so, SO happy.  I was so, SO scared.  I was scared of her ability to take care of herself at home and scared about the physical toll it would take on both her & my Poppy, who nearly died in November & spent a few months in the nursing home himself.  But she wanted to try it... "How will I ever know if I don't try?" she said.  So, she tried it.  I told Eddie, "I don't see it lasting more than a month," and sadly, it didn't.  It lasted just over two weeks before she started falling again.  Three falls in 2 days, and it was time to go back to the nursing home.

She wasn't thrilled, but she was OK with it, because she got to go to a different nursing home, one closer to home and one that her sister was a resident of also.  For a week she spent time getting to know the facility (which was much larger than the last), the staff, the residents, and of course, playing Bingo, her favorite!  Her last week there though, was a different story.

I remember it being a Friday night at about 10pm, I got a call from the nursing home saying they sent her to the ER (in the attached hospital) because she was really weak & out of it.  I dropped what I was doing to be there, as I always did whenever she had to go to the ER--my Poppy is housebound now & he can't be there for her, so I always went.  The did a bunch of tests, we talked about how she'd been like this in the past before & the next day would be OK (she had a lot of diabetic lows, which would make her be kinda goofy & out of it at times), and they sent her back to her room a few hours later.

The next day I tried to call her to check in, but I didn't get an answer--this wasn't abnormal, as she didn't always get to the phone if it was across the room, so Eddie and I went about our errands for the day.  Late in the afternoon that Saturday, I tried calling again, and no answer.  I also had heard from a cousin that she'd been trying to reach her most of the day with no luck.  Something didn't seem right, so I called the nursing home.  The said that she'd still been very out of it all day & spent the day in bed.  They were vague & short.

Then about an hour later, her physician called me.  And if doctors are calling you, it's usually not to chit chat.  He said that he reviewed her labs & tests from the night before, and her kidneys were completely shutting down.  She'd been in renal failure for years, but not to the point of needing dialysis.  Her mental state was being impacted because the toxins of her medication were building up in her body & not being filtered out by her kidneys properly.  The immediate plan was to hold her meds & push fluids so that what had built up in her system could hopefully get out in the next 24 hours or so.  If that wasn't going to work, we were going to have to talk about if dialysis was an option or not.  We were floored.  This seemed so sudden.  Don't get me wrong, my mom had been chronically ill for years--my whole life, practically--but she always bounced back... and to hear that she might not this time, I didn't know what to do.  I immediately called my Poppy, who had also talked to the doctor, and went to his house to discuss the situation.  It was late in the evening, and as I said before, he's housebound, so we decided we'd try to take him to see her the following morning. 

We went the next day, a Sunday, and she was completely out.  She didn't wake up at all while Poppy was there.  He was devastated, kept trying to talk to her to get her to wake up, but she wasn't budging.  He just kept looking at me and saying "I wish she'd just wake up..."  She did eventually wake up, but not until that evening.  She was very confused, and I would spend an hour calming her, only to have something happen that would agitate her again, and then I'd spend another hour calming her.  I was doing my best in a horrible situation. 

The following day we talked to the doctor again--her kidney funtion hadn't improved just by holding meds, and it wasn't looking good.  If we were going to attempt dialysis, we had to do it now.  The risks and benefits were laid out before us.  She would need a surgical procedure to place a shunt--it's likely she wouldn't survive the procedure do to her many comorbidities; if she did survive the procedure, she would have to be able to travel a couple hours three times per week to endure the treatments--several days prior she rode the bus to an appointment and it wiped her out completely, there's no way that she'd have any quality of life having to do that three times a week.  However, my mom was always very clear that if she was in the hospital or something, she wanted them to do what they could do save her.  So we were torn.  As her POA's, my Poppy and I had to make the best decision for her.  Do we try, and more than likely lose her anyway, but cause her to be miserable the whole time we're trying, or do we make the decision to let her go peacefully, without pain?  I couldn't believe I was being faced with this decision.

I went to her room, where most of the time she was out of it.  She'd have moments of clarity, but they were mostly laced with confusion.  She could see I was upset, and I saw in her eyes the mom that I knew was there, beyond the confusion.  She asked me what was wrong with her, and I told her.  "Will I have to do dialysis?" she asked me.  "Well, that's what we have to talk about..." and I explained to her the situation.  She squeezed my hand and shook her head at me and said "No, no, no, I would be miserable, miserable, miserable..." and then the fleeting moment of clarity was gone and she was groggy and mumbling again.  I knew what we had to do, as horrible and difficult as that would be for our family.  Keeping her here would be horrible for HER.

The decision was made, and she was put on comfort measures until it was time.  I've lost a parent before (bio dad), and it was sudden and shocking and horrible, but watching someone die and knowing that it's coming is a whole different kind of pain.  My husband and I were there pretty much 24/7, right up to the end.  We talked to her, shared old stories, listened to favorite songs.  My Poppy wasn't able to be there the whole time because of his own health, but he did come daily, sometimes several times daily, for several hours at a time.  I knew he'd need to save what energy he could for the days to come. 

On April 1st, only an hour or so before the sun rose, my mom left us.  Part of me left too.

The following day, Eddie and I drove 16 hours round-trip to Arkansas to get my sister so she could come for the services.  While on the way down there, he complained of pain when he sat, that was getting more and more sensitive.  In the days before my mom passed, we'd been doing a lot of sitting on hard chairs, and he'd complained of it before, but on this trip it was getting worse.  The pain grew so severe that he wanted to go to the ER as soon as we returned.  He could hardly walk because of pain in the crease of his leg, like where the elastic in the leg of your underwear would hit.  We went to the ER, and long story short, he had a badly infected hair that had turned into an absess.  Sitting on it in a bumpy car all day had aggrivated it & it was spreading infection throughout his body.  They wanted to keep him overnight, it was such a serious infection.  We informed the staff what had just happened with my mom, and how we really wanted to get this taken care of ASAP so that he could be there as a pall bearer & be by my side at her funeral.  They said he needed to stay overnight & we'd see what the infectious disease doctor had to say the next day.  They also ran some tests & CT scans of the area to see how large it was.

The next day came & Eddie was feeling better.  The cyst had burst on its own the night before & released a ton of pressure, so he was feeling confident that he'd get to go home w/o having to have it surgically taken care of.  He sent me home for a shower (I stayed with him in the hospital that night) and to work on a picture collage for my mom's services.  While I was doing that, he called, very upset, because the infection doc didn't have good news.  The type of infection he had was basically a flesh-eating bacteria (necrotizing fasciitis) that was life threatening if it wasn't aggressively treated and the bad tissue removed.  They wanted to take him in for emergency surgery that afternoon. 

They told him that they werne't sure how far the bacteria had spread & how much dead tissue they would have to cut out, but that if it was a lot, he'd likely be in the SICU, sedated for several days.  We had to sign paperwork... a living will... just in case.  I had just lost my mother, had been faced with making the awful, difficult decision to let her go, and now I might be faced with doing the same for my husband???  This couldn't be happening.

He went into surgery that evening, and it was the longest 3+ hours of my life, not knowing, waiting, worrying.  Was he going to be OK?  Finally the surgeon came to see us, and he had GOOD NEWS!  The infection hadn't spread nearly as far as he had expected; in fact, this was probably the least-severe case of this bacteria that he had operated on!  That said, they still took a lot of tissue, probably about the size of a softball, and his wound had to be left open for several days to help it heal from the inside out.  The surgeon told us that unfortunately a lot of cases of this don't end well because the bacteria silently spreads & has spread so far before it's detected, that it's usually too late.  Too late.  I can't tell you how relieved I was that it wasn't too late. 

I truly believe that if things hadn't transpired exactly as they did, I would have lost Eddie.  If my mom hadn't passed, we wouldn't have driven to AR.  If we hadn't gone on that long drive, it wouldn't have aggrivated the abcess to the point that it would have been as painful... it would have just been spreading, and Eddie probably would have just thought he had an infected hair that would go away, like happens sometimes.  If it hadn't gotten so painful, we wouldn't have gone to the ER.  And if we hadn't gone to the ER, they wouldn't have done tests to know that this was a serious bacteria.  If all of this hadn't happened, I may have been going to my husband's funeral too.

As it turns out, Eddie had to spend 10 days in the hospital recovering, and had to have a second surgery to do a skin graft & close up the wound.  He had to miss my mom's funeral, which was hard for both of us.  Hard for him, because I know he very much wanted to pay his respects, and also be there for me, and hard for me because I had to keep it together for the rest of the family.  I had to be the strong one, so I was.  Eddie's recovery has been a long one.  He's been home for nearly two months, and we're still having to pack and dress his wounds, but they're getting smaller every day.  I'm so thankful for that.

But missing my mom, that has been really really hard.  I've felt alone a lot of the time, even though physically, there are people around me.  It's not something you would ever understand unless you had been there.  I know in time, it will get easier.  I know that, but I also know that I will never--ever--be the same.

Monday, February 14, 2011

30 Day Challenge--Day 3

Day 03 - A picture of the cast from your favorite show

Even though it's been off the air for years, Friends is probably my all-time favorite show!  Having all of the seasons on DVD means whenever I'm sick or having a bad day, I can pop in a disk & laugh my butt off for a few episodes!  They're never not funny to me!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

30 Day Challenge--Day 2

Day 02 - A picture of you and the person you have been close with for the longest

As far as friends go, I've had excellent friends, and been very close to all of them at some time, but at different times in my life--not consisently from childhood til now.  I actually can't name a friend that I've been super close to for my whole life, up til now, except for my mom.

As I mentioned in my last entry, my grandparents adopted me, so this mom is actually my biological grandmother.  She's raised me since I was a baby though, and she still tells the story to this day about how she was in the room when I was born & I grabbed her little finger & melted her heart.  This picture was taken at our wedding in August 2009.  Not long after our wedding, my mom was having a lot of falls at home, so for the month of October 09, she had to be in the nursing home.  I was doubtful that she'd get to come home, but she did after a month, for about 6 more months.  On April 30, 2010 though, she had to go back to the nursing home, where she's been since.  I don't know if she'll ever get to come back home again or not, but I do know that no matter where she resides, we'll continue to be close.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

30 Day Challenge--Day 1

Several bloggers that I read have been doing this 30-day picture challenge on their blogs.  I enjoy seeing/reading all of them, so I thought I'd do my best to take part.  I can't guarantee I'll post 30 days in a row, but I will complete all of them eventually, that's for sure!  It's fun to learn more about the people behind the blogs, and I've learned some stuff I never would have known if it weren't for this challenge!  Hopefully you'll learn some stuff about me too!

Here is the outline for the challenge if you're interested in participating yourself!

Day 01 - A picture of yourself with fifteen facts.

Day 02 - A picture of you and the person you have been close with for the longest.

Day 03 - A picture of the cast from your favorite show.

Day 04 - A picture of your night.

Day 05 - A picture of your favorite memory.

Day 06 - A picture of a person you'd love to trade places with for a day.

Day 07 - A picture of your most treasured item.

Day 08 - A picture that makes you laugh.

Day 09 - A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most.

Day 10 - A picture of the person you do the most messed up things with.

Day 11 - A picture of something you hate.

Day 12 - A picture of something you love.

Day 13 - A picture of your favorite band or artist.

Day 14 - A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without.

Day 15 - A picture of something you want to do before you die.

Day 16 - A picture of someone who inspires you.

Day 17 - A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently.

Day 18 - A picture of your biggest insecurity.

Day 19 - A picture of you when you were little.

Day 20 - A picture of somewhere you'd love to travel.

Day 21 - A picture of something you wish you could forget.

Day 22 - A picture of something you wish you were better at.

Day 23 - A picture of your favorite book.

Day 24 - A picture of something you wish you could change.

Day 25 - A picture of your day.

Day 26 - A picture of something that means a lot to you.

Day 27 - A picture of yourself and a family member.

Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of.

Day 29 - A picture that can always make you smile.

Day 30 - A picture of someone you miss.
1.  I married my best friend on 8/22/09 at a location that I've dreamed of being married at since I was a teenager--Allerton Park in Monticello, IL
2.  I was adopted by my grandparents when I was in 2nd grade.  This makes for a lot of confusion for people because I call both my bio-mom and grandma-mom by the name of "mom".  It gets especially hilarious when I talk about when my mom (grandma-mom) gave birth to my dad (bio-dad).
3.  I was raised an only child, but I have seven half-siblings.
4.  Four of those siblings were adopted by other families when they were very young.  In the last year I've gotten to meet two of them after over 15 years.
5.  I can't straighten my arms all the way, never have been able to.  They only straighten to maybe a 45 degree angle.  No idea why, never got them checked out because it's never really inhibited my life in any way.
6.  Friends is my favorite TV show and even though it's been off the air for years, I still quote episodes or relate situations to how "this like that one time on Friends when...".  I also have all 10 seasons on DVD.
7.  I have about a zillion hobbies, but I don't take the time to actually do any of them anymore.  This is something I'd like to change.
8.  I wouldn't ever drink pop if it wasn't brought into our house.  I don't purchase it on my own and never order it at a restaurant, but if Eddie brings home a case of diet coke, I drink it.  If it wasn't there, I wouldn't think twice about it.
9.  I always wanted to have a daughter and name her Emily Rose.  Then I married a guy with the last name LaRosa.  So much for that one.
10.  My favorite color is pink.  Sometimes I buy things that I wouldn't normally want/need, just because it comes in pink.
11.  I collect Willow Tree figurines.  I don't have a huge collection, but they are filling up space on our fireplace mantle nicely.  I always wanted to collect something.
12.  We have 3 cats and a dog.  I adopted two of the cats from the humane society when I got my first apartment as an adult.  The third cat was inherited about a year later when I had a client unexpectedly die (I was a case manager for adults with developmental disabilities who lived on their own in the community but needed some support/guidance for some things).  She had a kitten & an adult cat.  The kitten was easy to find a home for, but the adult cat had vertigo & was kinda "special".  I decided to take him in & it was the best decision ever.  He's a sweet boy.  Dora is our dog, and we got her a year after we were married.  She's a little over a year and a half.  There was a time when I wanted to give her back, when she was a puppy, but I'm glad we stuck through it because she's a great dog now!
13.  I have a professional certification, but it's one that most people have never heard of.  The letters after my name are CADP (Certified Alcohol & Drug Preventionist).
14.  I have been at my job for nearly two years.  This is the longest I've stayed at a full-time job, and I still enjoy it!
15.  I took four years of Spanish in high school, but I can't speak much of it at all anymore.  If you don't use it, you lose it!

Let me know if you decide to do this challenge, or if you're already doing it, I'd love to keep up with you!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Highs & Lows

This week was a rollercoaster, health/fitness-wise.

Let's get the Lows out of the way first... I like to end on a high note.

1.  I ate crap this weekend.  Not ALL weekend, but portions of the weekend.  No idea why, other than just boredom/laziness.  I have a plan though--my plan is that I need a plan!  No, seriously.  I'm going to start a weekly meal plan/workout plan list so that I don't lose focus during the weekends.  It's so easy to just be lazy (I didn't get dressed at all Sunday, no joke) and get off track when I don't have a structured day. 

2.  I didn't get Day 3 of C25K in during the first week.  Our weather here was crappy, and I am an outdoor runner, rather than a treadmill runner, and I didn't get the third day in. 

3.  Also, I had to stop once during day 2.  I paused my podcast and picked up where I left off, but I needed a 20-30 second break to get my breath--trying to focus on my breathing, in thru nose, out thru mouth, but sometimes I forget.

4.  I'm thinking that realistically, I'm not going to be able to run a 5K by April 29--not the whole thing, anyway.  I realize the C25K program is designed to work up from nothing, but week one is a challenge for all 300+ pounds of me... We'll see, I just gotta keep at it.

OK, now that that's out of the way, let's evaluate the highs from the week, shall we?

1.  I RAN ON THE TREADMILL.  Don't get me wrong, it certainly wasn't a "fast" run... in fact, some people could probably walk the pace I jogged (3.2), but it was a huge huge huge accomplishment to overcome my fear of not only running publicly, but also to do it on the treadmill.  I wasn't sure if I'd actually do it, I was so scared/terrified, I actually wanted to cry, but I bucked up and I did it.  I did NOT enjoy it, in fact, I think I held my body so tense the whole time that I ached the next day because of the tension, not the actual exercise!  But, I did it.  Will I do it again?  Maybe, but certainly not as my first choice.

2.  I lost weight this week!  I was worried about my progress this past week because of being sick, plus being on meds (steroids included) that can tend to make you hold on to weight.  However, I was amazingly surprised/shocked on Thursday to see that I had in fact lost.  A whopping 9.2 pounds!  I was so floored in fact, that I insisted I get off the scale & get back on it to verify its number!  That means that I am at a weight I haven't seen in a very long time, and also one that puts me only 4 pounds away from using our home scale (I've been over the weight limit for quite some time)

3.  In addition to losing a large chunk of weight this week, I reached/exceeded my 5% WW goal!  I was so happy to FINALLY reach that!  I had been flirting with the same 10-15 pound loss/gain for like 6 months, then this past month I've finally committed to things again & I surpassed that 10-15 pound mark & I'm at 22.8 pounds lost in 2011!

4.  I was also the biggest loser at WW this week!  Eddie had claimed that title for several weeks running (damn men and their fast weight loss!), but this week I earned it!  (He did have a substantial 4+ pound loss this week too though!)  It felt good to do so well!

5.  I actually noticed weight loss in my face in the last week.  Usually I don't notice a difference in myself when I lose weight, until it's been a drastic amount.  However, last week I looked in the mirror after getting ready for work & I thought "you know, your face looks thinner!"  So I snapped this picture:
For comparison, this was me back in October with our baby niece:

Surely the difference isn't just in my head.  LOL. 

So yeah, highs and lows... they're always gonna be there, I just gotta hope that the good outweighs the bad in the long-run!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Branching Outside My Comfort Zone

Throughout the course of a long journey, sometimes you have to take detours... to go a different way than you were used to going.  Maybe a different way than you've gone your whole life.  Usually when you're used to going a certain way, you get pretty ticked that you have to take a detour--think about it, you're driving to work the way you've always gone, you know exactly how long it takes you to get there, what traffic will be like, etc, but then there's construction & you have to take a different way.  It's frustrating because now it's going to take longer to get there and it's unfamiliar territory.  But sometimes when you take that detour you discover things you would have never known existed if you had gone the "usual" way.

Weight loss is no different.  Oftentimes an overweight person knows just as much about nutrition and "diets" as a non-overweight person.  Most of us have TRIED to lose weight before, it's not that we lack the knowledge necessarily, but something derails us over time.  I'm no exception to this, as you know if you've read this blog for a longer period of time.  Maybe the thing that derails us though is doing things as we've always done them... taking the familiar "dieting" route.  Yes, you know what works for you at first, but sometimes you have to take a detour from that comfortable route after awhile.  I know I'm not alone in saying that the first few weeks eating healthy & moving more, you're really motivated... you're eating great foods, going to the gym, etc... but then maybe you get bored.  Or tired of eating the same low cal/fat/carb/whatever foods.  So you quit.  I've been there.  I've done that.

But maybe what we need to do is take a detour--go off the beaten path that you've made time and time again and spice things up!  What that means to you will be very individualized... to me though, that means trying new foods and trying new activities.  I used to get stuck in the rut of buying basically the same groceries every week because I knew points values and it was easiest.  Figuring out new recipes or snack ideas took longer and took more effort.  And exercise?  Forget about it!  I hated to exercise in public at all, let alone running on the streets of my town!  But you know what?  I need to do those things.  I need to take the detour every once in awhile, and while it might take me longer to go that route, and it might be scary because it's unfamiliar, in the long run, branching outside that familiar, comfortable zone is going to be the key to my success.

I'm starting with small steps--doing the Couch to 5K program, working out at a busy gym (when before I would have gone home if I'd seen that many people there!), and trying new foods that earlier in life I'd declared that I "hated".
(the first time I ate McDonald's in over a month--Fruit & Maple Oatmeal!  Only 7 Points Plus!)

So what are you doing to step outside your comfrot zone?  What detours will you take?  Ultimately we all want to end up in the same place--happy & healthy, but sometimes we have to take a different route to get there!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Couch to 5K

Well, this week started week 1 of c25k.  It's Thursday, and I've only done day 1 because we've had a nasty winter storm this week, but I'm hopeful that I'll get out there tomorrow & Saturday and finish up my first week!

It felt so good to actually complete w1d1.  Let me just state that for the average person, jogging 60 seconds & walking 90 seconds consecutively for 20 minutes probably wouldn't be a big deal.  But I am not your average person.  I'm like 2.5 average people put together.  And I haven't ran since high school, and only then because I had to, not because I chose to.

However, I did it!

By the end, I was SO ready to be done, and my "jog" was more of a "bouncy walk", but I freaking did it... willingly... without someone chasing me!  (in the snow, no less)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shout Outs

I'm pretty excited today, because not only did I find out I won a prize pack on one of my favorite blogs, but another favorite blogger (who I think of as a huge inspiration/kind of like a celebrity) linked up to me today in her entry!  I wanted to return the link love & send some traffic their way! 

If you haven't already checked her out, head over to Diana's (AKA Scale Junkie) space and leave her some love!  I won a great prize pack from Cheerios that she was sponsoring on her blog--I get a box of my FAVE cereal, a gym bag, water bottle, and cereal container!

Also, if you're not currently a reader of Julia's (AKA jewlia goulia) you should be--and why aren't you, btw?  She's lost over 140 pounds in the last year or so and is such an inspiration!  She also suffered a tragedy this week with the sudden loss of her mother, so please go leave her some love too!

Hope everyone's having a fabulous weekend!  I've been pretty sick, but I powered through a 1-hour dance-cardio video today on the on demand FitTV station on our cable.  I also officially registered for the Illinois Marathon's 5K today!  My friend isn't going to be doing it with me, so I'll be training for this one on my own.  C25K starts tomorrow!  Any recommendations for good podcasts for it?  I know they're out there, I just gotta find them!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Challenging Myself

Earlier this month, I shared my goals and many of them were health/fitness related.  I've been working all month to take steps to cross some of those off my list.  I've been keeping all our meetings with the trainer, keeping a sticker chart of days that we exercise, and I've lost over 10 pounds this month alone!  Things are going well!  February is going to see me challenging myself even more.

We only have time with our trainer for about 5 more weeks.  The last couple of weeks have been good, but I let her know that we could be pushed a little more.  I want to take advantage of her while I have her, and I want her to push me.  And push she did yesterday, we had one hell of a workout & my arms felt like jello afterwards... so much so that it hurt to turn the steering wheel once I got into my car!  I want to be challenged, so I'm looking forward to that.

I've also pencilled into my calendar three 5Ks in 3 months.  My goal is to be able to run one this year.  I don't know how much of these three will see me running, but I will give it a try!  In April I'm planning to participate in the Illinois Marathon's 5K (you even get a medal for finishing & you end on the 50 yard line of Memorial Stadium--the football field at the U of I--I'm very motivated by these factors!).  I'm hopeful that a friend of mine will have interest in completing it with me.  Last summer we discussed doing it & training with the C25K program.  I've sent an email her way about it, so we'll see what her thoughts are.  Regardless, I'm doing it!  In May then is a local 5K called the Kirby Derby.  Eddie's goal this year is to be able to walk a 5K, which is a feat for him since he's walked with a crutch for so long & not been able to walk long distances in a long time.  He's planning to do the Kirby Derby with me.  I can't wait to see him succeed!  It will be such an accomplishment for him!  Then finally, in June, I'm planning to do a Race for the Cure up in the Quad Cities with my friend Jenny.  We've done it two years, then missed last year due to scheduling conflicts, but this year we're hoping to do it together again!  I also emailed her about C25K & hope that she'll take me up on my offer to jog at least part of it!  Three 5Ks in three months!  Woo!

I've also joined an online challenge.  A blogger I read, That Wife, is hosting a weight-loss challenge. It goes from February-September, and the person in the challenge that loses the largest percentage of weight gets a 2-hour photo session with her (she is a photographer!) and a disk of images to go along with it.  I'm lucky enough that she is living in Chicago right now, so if I won her challenge I could get some amazing pro-pics done with Eddie in the Windy City!  Another of my goals from my list up there is to get professional pictures taken, so what a great way to incorporate my fitness goals with some of my other goals!  If you're interested in joining her challenge, click her link up there & check it out!

I'm feeling good about all the challenges the upcoming months hold.  I had a really successful January and I can't wait to see what February holds!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lack of Control

No, this isn't an entry about how I've gone all crazy and been bingeing like mad the past week or so (though I know some of you crazies that read this would love that, right?).  This is an entry about a *different* kind of lack of control... a good kind, actually.

The times in my life where I've been one to gorge on food because of whatever reason (happiness, sadness, all a previous reason to binge), I thought it was due to lack of control.  I thought I lacked the control to straighten out and not eat like crazy.  When in reality, it was just the opposite... I was in total control.  But control isn't always a good thing.  When things have been amiss in my life in the past, the one thing I could control was food.  I was deciding that if I couldn't control all the other stuff that was going on, I could at least control food, and I was going to control it to my little heart's content... in a bad way.  I was going to make the decision to eat whatever junk I wanted--because I was the boss & I was in control.

At the time, I didn't realize that... at the time, I thought it was a total lack of control that made my weight soar over 300 pounds.  But hindsight is 20/20 and I didn't lack control.  I freaking OWNED that food. 

So flash forward to now... eating healthy, living the WW plan, etc.  I should be IN CONTROL now, right?  Only the thing is, if I'm "in control" it means that food is something that I need to have power over.  I give food enough credit that if I'm not in control of it, then it will control me, right?  I give food way too much credit. 

I read a lot of weight loss blogs, and I know that not everyone will agree with my rambly thoughts up there... but I've seen so many of my online weight loss friends become OBSESSED with food, exercise, counting calories, etc.  And in my mind, that means that food and things associated with it (even if it's HEALTHY food, etc) are the ones controlling you, not vice versa (Who has seen a number on the scale, for instance, and let it dictate their entire mood, for example?).  Do I believe in being aware of what you eat, what activity you're doing, etc?  Yes, of course, but I'm moving beyond the aspect of control... on my part, or food's part.  It's just not that important.  My health is important, of course, but I will not allow food to be the thing that makes me happy when I'm sad or celebrates with me when I'm happy.  Food's purpose is to nourish my body, and that's it.  So rather than agonize over food and what's off limits, etc, I'm letting go of that control.  Call me crazy, but as long as I think of food as this big, powerful thing that can threaten my success, I'll be constantly worried that I won't be able to succeed.  I'm throwing that idea away.  I will succeed.  You'll see.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

A friend's facebook status had a quote that he'd seen somewhere and was reposting.  I'm following suit & reposting this quote as well.  I think it's great, and oh-so-true.

"It is not what I think I am that molds me and drives me, and it is not what you think I am that molds me and drives me. It is what I think that you think I am that molds me and drives me."

What are some of your favorite quotes?  I'm thinking of doing a weekly words of wisdom entry, because I love to get inspiration from the words of another!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Steering Clear & Other Strategies for Success

As some of you may know, I work as a prevention specialist at a local mental health center.  What that means, is that the bulk of my job is spent in classrooms throughout the county teaching life skills to students, in an effort to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use.  One lesson I teach is about peer pressure refusal strategies... you know, ways to handle peer pressure, such as saying no, walking away, etc.  One of the strategies I teach though, is something called "steer clear".  This strategy teaches that if you know something is going to be going on somewhere, where you think you might be pressured to do something you don't think is right, you simply steer clear of that situation and avoid it entirely.  This strategy can also be applied to weight loss.  For example, if I don't want to be tempted to get a Big Mac, steer clear of McDonald's.  Seems simple, right? 

However, just like kids can't always steer clear of those tempting pressure-filled situations, neither can adults when it comes to their weaknesses--mine in particular happens to be food.  Sometimes there are people in our lives that either intentionally or unintentionally can sabotage our efforts for success.  You would think that family and friends would be supportive when you're trying to better your life, but it doesn't always work that way.  I've decided to take the concepts I teach in my peer pressure lesson (for 5th graders, btw), and apply it to my own life.  I need to take the skills that I teach to the kids and utilize them for me when I find myself in those situations where I'm feeling pressured or not supported by others to reach my goals.  There are nine strategies I teach, and I think just about every one of them can be useful in certain situations I might find myself in... maybe you can relate?

1.  Say No.  This seems like the most obvious way to combat the pressure to do something you don't think you should do.  It's oftentimes easier said than done though, and this strategy works best when combined with another, because unfortunately sometimes "No, thank you" isn't enough to stop the pressure.
2.  Broken Record.  The broken record strategy just means that we keep repeating our reasoning not to do something if someone continue to pressure us.  For example, if someone offers me a slice of cake & I politely say, "No, I don't care for any," then they continue to tell me how delicious it is, I would simply repeat the same phrase--like a record stuck repeating itself.
3.  Ignore.  I find this most effective when I have people in my life who make little side comments about how I "can't have this, since you're on your diet" or things of that nature.  No matter how many times I reiterate that I can have anything I like, and that I'm not "on a diet", it doesn't get through to some people.  In those cases, rather than waste my energy on setting the record straight, sometimes it's just better to ignore the comments & move on, knowing that I'm doing something good for my body & my future.
4.  Walk Away.  Sometimes removing yourself from the situation can be the best thing, especially because some people can be relentless in their efforts to negatively influence you.  Are your coworkers trying to tempt you into eating the cake in the breakroom?  Leave the breakroom!  Sometimes this strategy is best used in combination with another.  As I mentioned before, sometimes saying "no" isn't enough--if the pressure continues, just excuse yourself & get outta there!
5.  Better Idea.  When teaching this to the kids, I tell them that if someone tries to pressure you to do something you're uncomfortable with, suggest something else instead.  So if they are wanting you to smoke, for example, you could say "I have a better idea, why don't we go hang out at my house instead."  Well, adults can use the same technique when pressured to eat badly.  A lot of times old friends want to catch up over lunch or dinner.  If they suggest somewhere that I know I'll be tempted to eat something not-so-good, I can always suggest a better idea--a restaurant that I know I can eat something at and still stay on-plan for the day!
6.  Make an Excuse.  As an adult, it seems silly to tell you to make an excuse to get yourself out of the situation, but if these other strategies don't work, use it!  Someone brought donuts to the staff meeting this morning?  "No thank you, I'm still full from breakfast".  It's as easy as that--just make an excuse to diffuse the situation!
7.  State the Facts.  Sometimes people honestly just don't know that you're trying to eat healthy or avoid certain foods.  You can't blame someone for politely sharing their food or inviting you out for an unhealthy meal if they don't know what your situation is!  So state the facts--let them know that you're trying to lose weight or eat more consciously and that you appreciate their offer, but no thanks!  Even when you share this info with some people, they may still pressure you, but utilizing one of these other strategies can help you with dealing with that situation if/when it arises!
8.  Reverse the Pressure.  Those people I just mentioned that still pressure you despite knowing the facts?  Well, reverse the pressure on them!  This is most easily done by turning the situation back to them & asking them why they continue to ask you, despite knowing that you're trying to do something good for yourself.  It puts them on the spot, which sometimes can quiet their mouths!
9.  Steer Clear.  Once again, we're back to what I started with, steering clear.  This is a really important strategy for me to practice and use.  You wouldn't encourage an alcoholic to go to a bar to get a glass of water, so avoid tempting situations that you know would make you feel weak & likely to give in or "relapse". 

This weekend Eddie and I had date night (see our date blog at ) and we went overboard with popcorn & pop at the movies.  I had intentions to get their "healthy" option, which is a cup or two of popcorn, water, and a nutrigrain bar... but at the last minute, the decision was made to get a large popcorn & pop.  Had I steered clear of the concession stand entirely, the crisis would have been averted.  And you know what, even though I had points for that popcorn & pop, it didn't just end there... my body had a taste of the "old lifestyle" food, and it craved it all weekend.  The next day, I felt like I couldn't get satisfied.  I was constantly hungry & wanting sugar & salt.  Junk led to me wanting more junk.  Thankfully after about 24 hours, those cravings went away, and despite the cravings we still stayed within points all weekend.  However, if I'd used some of these strategies, I may not have found myself in a jeopardizing situation. 

So while I know that these 9 refusal strategies might seem childish or common sense, they really can be helpful to keep in mind.  I know I'll be more aware of them now & try to use them on a more regular basis to deal with the enablers in my life & those that try to sabotage my success.  What do you think?  Could you appy these to your life?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Workin' It

I spent the last week fully devoted to being on plan with the new WW program.  I stayed within my daily/weekly points, but I just wasn't confident come weigh-in day.  Usually I know if I've had a good or bad week.  If I've stuck to the program, I know I'll lose weight... if I've not stuck to it, it's likely that if I lost, it's not much, or perhaps I've even gained.  This week though, the equation didn't work out in my head.  I followed the program.  Which should mean I knew I'd lose weight... but I just wasn't so sure.

Eddie and I both were having issues with the amount of points we were given... we'd find ourselves with 20 or more extra points in the evening after dinner, but we didn't want to eat just to eat!  We were actually having a hard time eating all our points!  We certainly weren't feeling deprived... in fact, several nights we had treats, just as long as we had the points for them... one night we had wings for dinner, one night we had pizza, and one night we got ice cream.  I think that's why I felt skeptical--we were staying w/in our points, but we still were indulging from time to time.

But all my worry was for nothing.  The program works, even when you doubt it... if you follow it, you will lose weight.  Bottom line.

8.4 pounds for me, 10.2 pounds for Eddie.

We ROCKED this new program this week!  Granted, as we lose weight and our daily points values go down, we won't be able to indulge like this, but it's great to be able to take baby steps to go from our old lifestyle to a newer, healthy one.  Right now, we dont' have to totally give up those treats, but as we lose, the treats will become less and less... it's just nice that it gets to be gradual, so we don't feel deprived. 

We've also been going to the gym.  Five days we exercised last week, which was more activity than we'd probably had in the previous year!  It feels good to be doing something for ourselves & putting ourselves first!  I was talking to Eddie this morning about how it's as much of a mental journey as it is a physical journey.  Sometimes when good things happen, you get it in your head that it has to be "too good to be true".  And sometimes, that really is how things are... but when it comes to following the program & losing weight... as long as you put in the work, you'll reap the rewards.  So while it may seem "too good to be true" that we lost a combined 18+ pounds last week, the fact is that we earned those pounds and we worked hard to shed them from our bodies.  As long as we continue to do that, it will never be too good to be true, because we earned it & we should be proud!

Goals for this week are going to be to continue our exercise routine (we're going to the pool after work today!) and to spread our points out a little more.  Last week we found ourselves with extra points in the evening, so this week we're going to try to boost our breakfasts & lunches a little more so we won't be tempted to get those "treats" as much in the evening.  It's great to feel confident about our journey.  I should remember this day in the future if I'm feeling down or discouraged... I am capable of doing well, I just have to put in the work to earn it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Gravy

I tried this recipe, found on, and it was SO delicious... delicious enough that I didn't even get a picture taken of it because we ate it right up!  Trust me though, it looked as good as it tasted, and wasn't really very difficult at all to make.

Makes 4 servings, 7 Points Plus each

3/4 pound(s) raw lean beef tenderloin, trimmed of all visible fat
3/4 tsp Durkee Ground Cumin Seed, or other brand
3/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tsp olive oil
2 medium onion(s), thinly sliced
8 oz mushroom caps, fresh, sliced
3 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced
1 1/2 cup(s) Swanson 50% less sodium beef broth, or other brand
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1.  Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray the rack of a roasting pan with olive oil nonstick spray and place in the pan.
2.  Sprinkle the beef with 1⁄2 teaspoon of the cumin, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1⁄8 teaspoon of the pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned, 6–8 minutes.
3.  Place the beef on the rack in the pan and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 135°F, 25–30 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let stand 10 minutes (The internal temperature will increase to 145°F for medium-rare.)
4.  Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, garlic, and the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon cumin, 1⁄4 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and mushrooms are browned and softened, 9–10 minutes. Add the broth and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a boil. Boil until the liquid is reduced by about one-third, 7–8 minutes. Yields 2 slices beef with 3 tablespoons sauce per serving.

I changed some things up a bit--I couldn't find a beef tenderloin roast that was this small, but I was able to find beef tenderloin steaks, so I used them instead.  Because they were smaller individually than a roast, I browned for less time (about 4 minutes total) and cooked them on 350 for 25 minutes.  They were cooked perfectly & SO tender!  I also used 2 cups beef broth, as that's what comes in a can & I didn't feel like wasting 1/2 cup of perfectly good beef broth.  Because this made it a little more liquid-y, I added a tsp flour (cornstarch would work too) to thicken it a bit more. 
Again, this stuff was SO good and I'd highly recommend it!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day Two Success & a Recipe

Day Two=Much Better Than Day One!

I successfully squeaked my way through a really great day two--though I feel like I'm eating so much now, since fruits/veggies are zero points!  I love having that freedom to eat an orange or a banana & not think about how that's a few less points I have in my budget for the day.  I also had a ton of points at the end of my day (and you're supposed to eat all your points so you make sure you're eating enough) and I treated myself to a dish of ice cream.  No guilty feelings necessary because the points were there, I measured out my ice cream, and I enjoyed every bit! 

Dinner was a new dish.  I got it from the WW website, but I modified it a bit.  It's a really versatile dish that you can eat just on its own, or you can throw it in a tortilla, eat it on a bed of lettuce, top some brown rice with it... the options are endless!  We opted to cook some brown rice & add some taco seasoning to it to make a seasoned rice, and it was pretty good... but it was a TON of food per serving! 

Southwest Chicken
1 pound chicken breasts, diced & cooked
2 small onions, thinly chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup canned corn, drained
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp taco seasoning (reduced sodium)

1.  Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a skillet & cook onions & peppers until tender.  Add beans and corn and heat through.  Set aside in a dish.
2.  In same skillet, cook your chicken breast through.  Once cooked, add the remaining olive oil, lime juice, and taco seasoning.  Stir to coat. 
3.  Add your veggie mixture back into the skillet & mix all items together, making sure veggies are heated through.
4.  Serve as-is or with rice, tortillas, lettuce, etc.  It's also good topped with low fat sour cream (for extra points) and salsa!

Makes 4 generous servings at 8 Points Plus each.  If served over a cup of brown rice, add 4 Points Plus

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day One Meltdown

So wanna hear a good recipe for disaster?  Starting your healthy eating/exercise plan on the same day that you go back to work after having 4 days off, as well as it being that lucky time of the month for me.

I did good for 2/3 of the day.  Really good.   In fact, I still had 35 points left going into dinner and I'm wondering how on earth am I gonna eat all those points?  (Anyone else doing the new WW have this same issue... now that fruits/veggies are zero points, I feel like I have soooo many points & don't know what to do with them!)  So I go to make dinner... and the kitchen is a mess.  There's no clean silverware or plates because we haven't gotten them cleaned up for our big holiday fun times... and I have a total meltdown.  All I can think about is how I want to eat the Reese's that I got in my stocking and I want to have my favorite pizza that wasn't open on our "last night of freedom".  And I pouted like a big dumb baby.  And I cried. 

It was DAY ONE and I was already having a freakout?  We were supposed to work out with our trainer that day, but she called sounding sick as a dog, so we didn't work out.  I have high anxiety about going places & doing things that I've never done before, so I opted not to go to the gym on my own w/o the trainer there to explain how things work.  So I blew it off. 

And then I start to feel guilty because I'm supposed to be there for Eddie and it's DAY ONE and I'm already talking about how I want to eat crap for "just one more day" and he's trying to be supportive, like we talked about, and telling me about how good we did all day & how he'll cook dinner & wash dishes, and I was just being a brat & wasn't having any of it.  I wanted my damn peanut butter cups and pizza.  Like a freaking child.  And so I ate them.  And temporarily it made me feel better--but I've gotta find a way to feel better w/o running back to the old standby, cuz that's what got me here!  So I counted my remaining 35 points for the day, as well as the 49 flex for the week as all used up, and I turned on the Biggest Loser for some focus. 

Today is a new day.  And yesterday wasn't a complete failure.  I ate way healthier yesterday than I have for several weeks.  So I binged a little at dinnertime--I'm not proud of it--but I still did better than before.  Until 6:30PM, it was a great day.  And so today I'll work harder to stay focused all day.  I know I can do it, it's just a matter of doing it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sharing My Goals

Every year for as long as I can remember I've made a goal list, rather than making resolutions.  I know, call them what you want, they're pretty much the same... but I liked the idea of goals better... resolutions often get forgotten about within a few weeks!  Last year I made a goal list, but I failed to evaluate it periodically as I'd done in the past, and I didn't achieve all that I had hoped.  Not long after the new year in 2010 though, I decided I'd like to put together a list of 101 in 1001.  The idea is that you list 101 things that you'd like to do in 1001 days (about 2 years, 9 months).  It took me a long time to put this list together, but I finally finished naming my goals in December (9 months after starting the list!).  So, rather than annual goals for 2011 & 2012, I will be working on my 101 in 1001 list!  Here you have it!

101 in 1001—started 2/1/10

1. Send birthday cards instead of emails/texts in 2011
2. Reconnect with an old friend
3. Meet Mathew
4. See Christina again
5. See JC again
6. Spend time with Hannah
7. Take Robin to a movie
8. Invite Hope up for a visit
9. Cater in Red Lobster to Mom
10. Have a discussion with Poppy if/when he leaves nursing home

11. Go to a psychic for fun (11/10)
12. Sing karaoke by myself
13. Write a future me letter to be opened on day 1001 (9/23/10)
14. Have shamrock tattoo re-done
15. Eat a meal with chopsticks
16. Bake a red velvet cake from scratch
17. Meet a celebrity
18. Complete elephant journal 10/10—12/11
19. Actively participate in therapy
20. Complete homemade xmas gifts for Mom/Poppy
21. Make myself an afghan
22. Frame & hang more pictures for house
23. Organize clothes & store them by size or season
24. Continue to keep “peace” journal
25. Have a Monticello garage sale
26. Clean parents’ upstairs
27. See my car turn over 100,000 miles
28. Finish thinking of 101 things! (12/28/10)
29. Re-read the Harry Potter series
30. Treat myself to a pedicure for no special reason

31. Have a baby
32. Go on a date to the drive-in
33. Celebrate our first anniversary (8/22/10)
34. Take a hot air balloon ride together
35. Finish our 52 dates jar
36. Go to a pro-sports game together
37. Go on a road trip together with no planned destination
38. Offer to mow the lawn w/o being asked
39. Get professional pictures taken
40. Initiate more "you know"

41. Get 100 blog followers
42. Read all 20 Rebecca Caudill books from a single year
43. Successfully read 50 books in 1 year’s time
44. Complete a Project 365
45. Blog about 52 dates, 52 weeks
46. Take a class for fun
47. Make anniversary photo book (9/10/10)
48. Start an etsy shop
49. Complete 2 scrapbooks
50. Organize craft stuff & set up work area
51. Make Eddie a hat
52. Join or start a club of some sort (like stitch n’ bitch or a book club)
53. Make stuffed animals as baby gifts in 2011
54. Re-read the Time Traveller’s Wife
55. Read The Giver series

56. Run a 5K
57. Complete the C25K program
58. Meet my 5% WW goal
59. Meet my 10% WW goal
60. Lose 50 pounds
61. Lose 75 pounds
62. Lose 100 pounds
63. Bike 5 miles in 1 trip
64. Bike 10 miles in 1 trip
65. Keep a sticker chart of gym use in 2011
66. Complete all personal training sessions
67. Be able to run 1 mile
68. Take a daily vitamin (finish whole bottle)
69. Consistently post progress/recipes to Teale’s Meals (100 posts in 2011)
70. Contact 94.5 about progress in July 2011

71. Eliminate credit card debt
72. Donate to Mix Christmas Wish in 2011
73. Put $ away for life insurance policy
74. Settle work comp case
75. Pay off hospital bills
76. Open a Christmas Club account in 2011
77. Pay for most Christmas gifts with Swagbucks in 2011
78. Make a budget & follow it for 6 consecutive months
79. Don’t eat out for one month straight
80. Create bill organization so I don’t forget when things are due

81. Create a nursery
82. Make homemade ice cream with our ice cream maker (5/25/10)
83. Start a garden
84. Re-do the back yard landscaping
85. Add lattice to shed bottom
86. Plant morning glories by lattice in front
87. Have a fire in our fireplace (11/10)
88. Successfully host a party at our house (12/24/10)
89. Paint spare bedroom
90. Put up blinds/curtains in every room

91. Travel to Hershey, PA
92. Travel to Gatlinburg, TN (2/12/10)
93. See the Grand Canyon
94. Get a passport
95. Go to Canada for Melissa’s wedding in June 2011
96. See Niagara Falls
97. Make a photobook about Canada trip
98. Keep a travel journal when we travel
99. Visit the St. Louis Zoo
100. Visit the Sears Tower “ledge”
101. Go to IKEA

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Gift of Opportunity

I know I haven't written here in awhile, but I do hope there are a few who will read this & share in my joy. It's gonna be a long one, but bare with me!

A local radio station does a "Christmas Wish" every year, and this year I decided to submit one for my husband to be the recipient of. I doubted that we'd be selected, but I figured it was worth a shot. This is what I wrote:
My Christmas wish this year is for my husband, Eddie. We met almost three years ago and hit it off immediately. Neither of us were looking to date someone, but when it's meant to be, it just happens. Our first 9 months of dating were seamless. We had fun, we were active, and we were always on the go. Eddie proposed in December 2008 and we began to plan for our August 2009 wedding. About a month into our planning, however, Eddie injured his knee at work. He worked in a highly physical job as a diesel mechanic, working on semi-truck trailers. The injury was very debilitating and didn't get better on its own. He was unable to do his job and was placed on work comp and scheduled for surgery in mid-May 2009.

It was a struggle to plan our dream wedding without him working, but we did the best we could. On top of the added stress of wedding planning, we also had to worry about how his knee was healing. After his surgery, recovery was difficult. He had begun to gain weight due to not having the physical activity that he once had on the job, and this weight gain made healing even harder. He went to physical therapy for months. It was not only tough on him physically, but mentally it was hard on him too, because as a new husband, he had to stay at home while I went to work. It was an untraditional role & was difficult for him to accept it. Finally though, in late October 2009, Eddie was released back to work, which we thought was a great thing... until two weeks later, when his same knee was re-injured.

He was devastated. He had been off work for nearly 10 months before he finally got to go back, and now another injury! This time we were told that if it wasn't better in 12 weeks, his job would no longer carry him on their insurance. So now we had the added pressure of hoping his knee healed before our "deadline" so that he wouldn't be one of the many uninsured Americans who is unable to get insurance on their own due to pre-existing conditions. (During Eddie's time of being off work, he developed high blood pressure, diabetes, and gained nearly 100 pounds). He was not in a good place physically or mentally. Our 12-week deadline came and went, and we had no other choice but to enroll him in a COBRA plan to keep him insured. This giant bill each month made things even more difficult on just my meager income. We made it work though, because we had no other choice.

Eddie's knee didn't get better on its own, and he had to have a second surgery just about one year to the date of his previous one. In May 2010 they operated again, but unfortunately he has once again not healed properly. The doctors told him that he'd likely never return to his field (one that he spent several years learning at a trade school--and we still pay the bill on!) and that short of a knee replacement, there wasn't much they could do for him, especially at his weight. We decided to seek another opinion and went to a specialist who agreed that weight loss would be necessary before another needed surgery.

My husband and I are both very overweight people. We've both tried to lose weight in the past, and had successes, but unfortunately gained the weight back, and then some. Eddie's weight has creeped up since his injury, and I hate to see how physically he's not able to do what he once was, and I also hate to see how that takes a toll on him mentally/emotionally. It's discouraging to be 25 years old and not be able to walk around the block because of extreme pain & needing to use a crutch most of the time. Because he is extremely limited physically, exercise is nearly impossible, unless it works only his upper body. The only other option for weight loss is learning to eat a better, healthier diet, and doing the best he can that way.

I have had success with Weight Watchers in the past, and earlier this year joined again. It was a gift from my parents to pay for a membership for me for a year, because financially we were unable to afford the $40/month for me to attend. I was so thankful for that gift they gave me, and I tried to incorporate what I learned at WW meetings to our home life so that Eddie could benefit as well, even though he wasn't a member. He had a bit of success following along with me, and I would take him to free meetings whenever they were offered so he could see others that were in the same boat he was. We recently attended a meeting where a panel of successful members spoke about their success. After the meeting Eddie spoke up and told about his struggles and thanked them for being so inspiring. Afterwards, a kind stranger approached us & encouraged Eddie to join the program so that he could have success too. We explained that our financial situation simply does not allow for us to spend the money each month on a membership. To our surprise, this member graciously offered to sponsor a 3-month membership for Eddie to at least kick-start his weight loss and get him working toward his goal weight so that he can have another surgery. We were so amazed by this wonderful gift! It's only been a few weeks on the program, but Eddie has lost nearly 10 pounds, and I'm so proud of him! Unfortunately though, a 3-month membership isn't going to get him to his goal weight. Sure, he could still follow the program without the support of meetings, but those meetings are so, so important to a person's success, that I really want him to be able to continue. I've contemplated giving the remainder of my 1-year membership to him because I know that his quality of life will not improve without weight loss. I know we both need the program though, so I hate to have only one of us do it--we need the support of each other so we can reach our goal.

That's why this year, my Christmas wish is for Eddie to have a few more months of Weight Watchers meetings covered so that he can at least lose a little more before having to do it without the support of meetings. I know that he can lose the weight, and I'm going to be right there beside him, supporting him & trying to lose my weight as well. Having the support of each other, as well as other members at the meetings is really going to be the key to our future success. I realize that you can't grant every Christmas wish you receive, but I appreciate you taking the time to read them all and take them all into consideration. I want the best for my husband, and it makes me so sad to see him in excrutiating physical and mental pain day in and day out. The fact that we can't be as active as many newlyweds in their mid-twenties could be is hard, but we try to make the best of it. We try to be thankful for what we do have instead of focusing on what we're limited to due to physical and financial reasons, and we'll continue to do that, even if my wish for him can't be granted. Thank you and have a blessed holiday season.

I got a phone call yesterday.  It was the radio station.  She said that they were moved by my letter & they thought that my wish was really unique & wanted me to tell them my story again on the phone.  After telling a condensed version, she told me that they wanted to help us out and grant my wish, but they wanted to do a little better than what I was asking for.

The radio station and Weight Watchers are paying for BOTH Eddie and I to have 1-year memberships!  Not only that, but they are also paying for he and I BOTH to have 1-year memberships to our local gym, along with 6 weeks with a personal trainer!  I thought that in itself was unbelievable, but there was more.  My WW leader, Jennifer, has offered to go grocery shopping with us to be our personal shopping consultant while we spend a $300 gift card to a local grocery store for healthy food.  I was floored... and she kept talking!  Then after losing some weight, we're going to need new clothes, so they are also providing us with a $300 gift card to our local outlet mall.  I was speechless.  All I was asking was for my husband to get a few more months of support with the program, and they went so far beyond my wildest dreams.  This is truly a gift for both of us and will be such an amazing year thanks to the people at the station and the people that donate to make this kind of thing possible. 

This time last year, Eddie and I asked for half of our Christmas gift from my parents to go to a local family in need to help them provide Christmas gifts for their children.  We felt like it was the right thing to do, to give them a Christmas they could enjoy... and a year later, someone is doing that for us, only it's so much more than just a Christmas gift... they are giving us a gift of opportunity.  We have the opportunity and now we have the means to actually make getting healthy a possibility and a priority.  I couldn't say thank you enough... there just weren't words.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thankful x2

November 5, 2010:
I'm thankful for afternoon snuggles with Eddie, and our pooch Dora who likes to butt in.  But I'm also thankful for Dora sandwiches, cuz she gives some pretty good snuggles herself!

November 6, 2010:

I am also thankful for Walmart's Halloween selection being $1 or less so that I could get this sweet butterfly princess costume for my cat!  Also thankful that Princess Prettygirl has a pretty good cat sense of humor & allowed me to put this ridiculous costume on her with very little protest!!!  (It only stayed on about 5 minutes, I don't torture my cat, I promise!).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Progress & Thankful Day 4

Today I am thankful for support and partnership in my weight loss journey, especially from this guy!  Eddie joined WW with me last week and he had an amazing week eating on plan.  So amazing that he earned the snake at our meeting tonight!  The person who loses the most weight at the meeting that week gets to take the snake home.  Two weeks ago, I got the snake, and tonight, he got to proudly take it home--with a whopping 8.4 pounds lost!  So proud of him & thankful for him!

I also had a pretty good week and had a good loss to show for it.  Though I did battle a bit with the Halloween candy, I still put up 3.4 pounds lost on the scale this week.  This also put me below a weight that I was hoping to see disappear soon, and I"m so glad that it's a goner!  I'm down a little over 7 pounds from my May starting weight (remember, I had to lose that chunk I gained over the summer, so thankfully all that is just about gone!) and Eddie's down a little over 8 pounds.  We both got to celebrate with our 5 pound star stickers tonight!

Here's to another good, on-plan week!   

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tart Apple Pork + Thankful Day 3

Today I'm thankful for my big kitchen & amazing Calphalon pans that we got as a wedding gift from my aunt.  We could have never afforded them on our own, and they're wonderful!  I'm finding myself doing more cooking lately, and I'm so glad I have the space to do it (and a husband that cleans it for me from time to time!)
* * *
Tonight I decided to give another new recipe a try.  This is from, and while I modified it to make more servings (and it altered the points amount), the recipe I'm posting is straight from the WW website.

Tart Apple Pork (4 servings/6 points each)
16 oz lean boneless pork chop, center-cut, trimmed of all visible fat
1 Tbsp rosemary, fresh, chopped
1 Tbsp thyme, fresh, chopped
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tsp canola oil
2 medium apple(s), Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 large onion(s), thinly sliced
2/3 cup(s) apple juice, unsweetened variety
2 Tbsp honey mustard

Sprinkle the chops with the rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops and cook until browned and cooked through, 4–5 minutes on each side; transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.
Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in the apple juice and honey mustard; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Return chops to pan and cook, turning once, to heat through, about 2 minutes. Yields 1 chop with 1⁄2 cup apple mixture per serving.
* * *
What I did differently: I used the generic "crystal lite" that was apple flavored, rather than buy apple juice that we wouldn't drink.  I thickened the sauce a little with 1 tbsp flour (I didn't have cornstarch or I would have used that).  I also used more pork, so I doubled most things.  The recipe as written yields 4 servings, at 6 points each though.

This was pretty good.  I was hesitant, as I'm not usually one to care for cooked fruit (I don't like fruit pies, generally), and I'm also pretty picky about honey mustard, because I don't really like mustard.  This turned out all right though.  Eddie ate it up & said he'd definately have it again.  I think I would too.  The pork chops by themselves were really good too, with the salt/pepper/rosemary/thyme on it, and I'd probably have them by themselves sometime too, because I really enjoyed the flavor of it.  Overall, a success.  It was easy to make, it just took about 40 minutes of active cooking/preparation in the kitchen... not a recipe that you can just pop in the oven and forget. 

Pork isn't something I often think about getting, but I do enjoy it when I take the time to make it!  What are your favorite pork recipes?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spaghetti Squash

When the husband and I visited the pumpkin patch last week, the produce was all half price.  This meant that spaghetti squash were only $2, which was cheaper than I'd seen them before when I'd considered buying them.  I'd never tried them, but everywhere I read said that it was a great, healthy alternative to actual spaghetti, and that there was hardly any difference in taste/texture.  Let me just say that I was quite nervous to try this... I get in a comfort zone with my foods and hesitate to try new things sometimes.  I also have a very "meat & potatoes" husband, so convincing him that we should try this was a feat.  He agreed to try it, so we purchased two.  And tonight I gave it a try.

First, you cut your spaghetti squash in half, long-ways.  It's pretty firm, so try not to cut a finger off in the process.  Next, take a spoon and scoop out all the seeds in the center.  Place face-down on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  (sidenote--next time I'd cook mine a little longer because I had 4 halves on a cookie sheet & I don't think the heat distributed evenly; some parts were a little more firm)

Once they're finished cooking, fluff out the "spaghetti" gently with a fork.  It'll look something like this:
We tossed a couple tablespoons of butter in the spaghetti with some salad tongs, as recommended by a few recipes. It smelled pretty good at this point, but I was still pretty nervous.  The shells will look like this when they're scraped clean:
While the squash is cooking, I made my own sauce, which I've posted about before... I usually do some variation of the same type of chunky marinara--canned seasoned tomatoes of some sort, onion, garlic, spinach, etc.  I basically just make it to taste.  I also like to add parmesan & sometimes shrimp, which I did tonight.

Once both the squash & sauce were finished, all that was left to do was add the squash to our bowls, top with sauce, and give it a try...

The verdict from my husband?

He gave it a definate thumbs up!  He couldn't tell the difference between the spaghetti squash and regular spaghetti!  I wasn't AS sold on the spaghetti squash has he was, but I would try it again.  I'm a big texture person, so that was my only problem... the texture was a little more firm than I thought it would be, and that may just mean I need to cook it longer next time.  It also looks like sourkraut, which I don't like, so I tried not to look at it much.  LOL.  Next time I think I'd also just use a jar of pasta sauce so that it coats the "noodles" better, as I think that would help with my texture issue.

Overall, not a bad meal... and totally low in calories/points.  If you didn't put the shrimp in it like I did, it's a completely vegetarian meal!  You could certainly use meat sauce if you wanted, but that would add to the calories/fat.  With just veggies or shrimp, it's only 2-3 points per serving, which is definately pretty awesome for a huge bowl of "pasta"!

Any other recipes for spaghetti squash that you've tried & liked?  Link up!

Thankful Day 2

Thankful for my freedom & the right to vote!