December 28, 2012

My Infertility Journey: The End of the Road

Well, my friends. After picking off all of my nail polish (nervous habit), I have the results of my preliminary ultrasound.

It was not good news.

My remaining ovary has a blood filled cyst. Basically, instead of my follicle releasing an egg, mine fills with blood. It was the same thing that happened to my other ovary and we didn't find the issue until it ruptured and I became very ill. What does this mean for my fertility? It means it is gone. Game over. My OB wants to do another ultrasound, pre-ovulation, to see exactly what is going on, but that is just to determine what our next steps are. Most likely, it will mean a hysterectomy as we have really covered all the other bases and I don't not want to take BCP's. I'm about to turn 37 in 5 short months so really, there isn't much left fertility-wise to try and preserve not to mention, if you take my remaining ovary, is there any reason to preserve anything else? A hysterectomy is pretty much a done deal.

To say I am crushed about this diagnosis is an understatement.

However, I kept my composure with my doctor. She complimented me on the vast change in my weight, said I looked gorgeous, and promised me I have so much to look forward to including raising the beautiful boy I so miraculously was able to have four years ago. I thanked her and quickly ran to my car where I sobbed. Once I collected myself, I called my husband to give him the news. He wasn't entirely surprised; however, I don't think he was as much invested as I was in having another baby. He was worried about me and my health and the health of my potential unborn child. There were so many risks and that scared him, so for him, this might actually be a relief with the exception of my impending surgery. I love him so desperately for wanting to take care of me.

This diagnosis doesn't exactly come as a shock. I knew there was a ghost of a chance with this being the most likely outcome. At least I have closure. The 2 1/2 years I spent trying to conceive Jackson were the worst. I had all the tests done and they could not find anything wrong with either me or my husband. Unexplained infertility is awful because there is no closure, no answers. I would much rather have this answer and not have to wait around with any false hope. While the answer sucks, at least I know the truth.

Top off my day with my kiddo having a double ear infection and not wanting anything to do with taking his medicine (I kid you not... we tried every trick in the book to no avail), him getting really pissed off at me,  telling me he hates me and I had a break down. I sobbed through Dora. I sobbed when he finally gave me a hug goodnight and said, "I love you too Mommy." I didn't get it together until I read an email from one of my dearest friends and finally, a smile emerged from my broken, tear-stained face. How grateful am I to be surrounded by people who never fail to pick me up when I am down!

But, you know me. Nothing can keep me down for long. So, I have dusted the sad away. We have the closure we need to be able to move forward with our lives. No looking back. No "what ifs". No regrets. Our family is complete and we are at peace.


December 25, 2012

Christmas Bliss

I was woken up yesterday by the pitter patter of little feet and an excited little voice, "Hey guys, my bunny is awake. It's time to get up! It's Christmas!" It's hard not to get caught up in his excitement. Tired, I stumbled downstairs to get some breakfast ready for the kid and feed the dog.

We had planned on having our own family Christmas on Christmas Eve morning, before the festivities with my parents in the afternoon. Just us. Our little team. As we sat down to open our gifts for each other, I opened the blinds and as if it was ordered up for me, it was snowing the most perfect, light amazing snowfall. With every present my son opened, they were all (even his new bed sheets) welcomed with, "This is awesome!" and "WOW!" After all the presents were opened, my husband and I exchanged a hug, kiss and Merry Christmas and as I turned, Jack ran up to hug me, jumping up into a full arms and legs bear hug. He kissed me on the cheek, looked me in the eyes and said, "Merry Christmas, Mommy."

When you are infertile, it is moments like those that you can only dream about. Moments like those that make every ounce of struggle and fight to bring them into this world worth everything.

Overall, I have had a very enlightening holiday season. I discovered things about myself that have really helped to bring everything full circle. I didn't give myself enough credit for my weight loss. I took a lot of things for granted. I was so inside myself that I didn't realize how many people I was pushing away- including my husband. This clarity? It has utterly changed my life. I am so overflowing with love and happiness that I wish I could bottle it up and gift it to others.

My Christmas was about as close to perfect as it could get. A kid whose child-like wonder is contagious. Seeing him perform in his first Christmas program a week ago was a moment I do not ever want to forget. A moment I waited and wanted ever since I knew I wanted to be a mom.



Singing with my best friend, regardless of my lingering pneumonia and tempo mis-cue on this song, still so much fun. So grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to do one of the things I love the most.

If there is one thing that has become the most clear to me over the last month, it is that being happy, positive and enjoying life is much more fun. Life is entirely way too short to spend time being unhappy or trying to solve things that are beyond our control.

I am beyond grateful for everything that I have. The life that I live. The incredible people I am surrounded by. The special people who inspire me every single day. They are always in my thoughts and hold the most important pieces of my heart.

I cannot think of any better song to sum up how filled with joy I am this Christmas- Unspeakable Joy
 My cup runneth over.

December 19, 2012

My Infertility Journey: Keeping the Faith

Before I begin this post, I want to explain why I am sharing this extremely personal experience with the entire universe. I feel like infertility is a taboo subject. Most women find it too personal and too painful to talk about. I feel that way too in many ways, but I also want other women who may be going through the same thing to know: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We don't have to suffer in silence. We have each other.

I went in for my annual appointment with my OB. For most women this is a routine annoyance in their day. The appointment that every woman hates. Go ahead, ladies. Tell me you actually ENJOY this appointment!

This appointment was far from routine for me. I knew I was going to ask her about having another baby. I knew the answer may not be what I want to hear. I was on edge. My blood pressure was through the roof. I was nervous.

So I got around to telling my doc that we really want to have a second baby and I literally LOL'd when she said, "So what do you want to do, wing it?" Ummmm... Let's see. It took 2.5 years to conceive Jackson. We have been trying on and off for FOUR YEARS for this one. I think I've been winging it long enough. Not to mention, this woman did surgery on me. Took my tube. Took my ovary. I'm thirty freaking six years old. There will be no winging it for me. She kind of apologized and said she in no way sees me as 36 with limited years of fertility left (if any). Which I guess is a compliment? Thanks for not calling me an old hag? I'll take it.

I will spare you the details of the exam, but I will tell you, the results were not entirely good. My remaining ovary is swollen. I have tenderness. What does that mean? It means the endo is winning. So what happens next? My OB will do the baseline studies to check and see if I have a viable ovary. I have an ultrasound scheduled for next week to make sure that my remaining ovary does not have a growing endometrioma (ovarian cyst). If I do? It's game over. My ovary will likely need to be removed and I will need to proceed with a full hysterectomy.

If everything looks okay, then we will move to the next phase which consists of a follicle study which is basically a series of ultrasounds to see if my ovary is functioning correctly leading up to ovulation. If all looks good, we will schedule a lap surgery to remove any endo and I will then be referred to a fertility specialist to proceed with IVF.

If it seems like a lot to go through, you're right. It is. Then why? In a promise to myself, I want to live my life without regret. I know if I don't take the steps to try and complete our family, I will always wonder, what if?  I have to try.

Even if I end up without a baby, I will know in my heart I did everything I could. Plus, I will feel good about taking control of my own health. Pushing my doctors to use their knowledge to find a solution. Not settling for the answer "You'll just have to live with it." That isn't good enough for me.

So until I get a more definitive answer, I will continue to stay positive and keep the faith.

December 18, 2012

A Reflection: Choosing Joy in the Midst of Tragedy

On Friday, as I was in the midst of a busy day, I took a break in the afternoon to check my personal email, Facebook and Twitter. The usual breaktime fodder. I noticed pictures of candles and prayers consuming my Facebook feed and then saw the headlines from Connecticut that brought me to my knees. A shooting in an elementary school? How? Why? WHY?

Tears sprung to my eyes and my heart felt heavy. I felt sick.

As a mother, I could not even begin to comprehend such unspeakable tragedy. I could not find words as there were none that would suffice.

As I looked within my social media outlets to find more information, I was troubled by what I saw. Troubled that it has to turn into politics. Troubled that anyone for one second had to turn it into a platform other than what should just be about prayers for the families, peace and love. While there is a time to try to find some understanding and a way to stop something so incomprehensible from happening again, Friday was not that day.

I also saw a Tweet that said: "Hugging our children won't change anything."

Really?

Perhaps by teaching love and peace to my little boy, he will turn around and teach it to others. It may not make a difference today or tomorrow, but maybe, just maybe, sometime down the road he will remember that his mama taught him how to love and bring peace to others.

On Friday, my office closed early for the day and instead of rushing off to do errands, I drove immediately to my son's school to pick him up. I just wanted to see him. Hug him. Be with him. He was so excited that I came to get him early- he was still on the playground for recess. He came running up to me and asked, "Mommy, why did you come and get me so early today?" The only response I could give my 4 year old was, "I love you and missed you all day. Let's go home. Pizza tonight?" To which he responded in all his innocence, "Okay, mommy. I love pizza party!" That was all he needed to know.

We got home. I made pizza. I sobbed over what I was seeing and hearing, my son all the while oblivious to the horror that took place 1,200 miles away. We then turned the TV off altogether and just spent time with each other. That night, while putting my son to bed, instead of trying to rush him to sleep I stayed with him just a little longer. He fell asleep and I stayed in his room, listening to the sound of his tiny, sweet snores thanking God for the miracle that he is and and the pure joy he brings to my life.

My husband came up to look for me in Jack's room thinking I might have fallen asleep, asking me what I was doing. I said "No, I didn't fall asleep. Everything is fine. Tonight, I just wanted to be with him."

 It doesn't feel fair that these parents don't have their babies anymore. It doesn't feel fair that their holiday will be filled with so much sadness. My heart aches for them as I cannot even fathom what they are going through. These babies... just a year or two older than mine. Gone.

I have struggled to write this post. It has actually taken days to find the precise way to put my thoughts into words. However, I don't think there is any way to make sense of it. We can only learn from it. Hug our kids closer. Teach them and those around us to live with love, peace and forgiveness in our hearts instead of anger and hostility. Recognize and reach out to those who are crying out for help. Take a moment each and every day to thank God for the tiniest of blessings that touch our lives: friends, family, jobs, a roof over my head, food to eat. Live life without fear or regret. Never take a single moment for granted.

While I am sad and grieving in my heart for these children, teachers and families- I am also choosing to move forward. I'm choosing joy and will do what I can to spread it to everyone around me.

From my family to yours, we wish you a holiday season filled with only peace and love in your hearts.




December 14, 2012

Choosing IVF

I think Jackson would prefer a playmate that
actually interacts with him.
I have been compiling in my head all of the many reasons why I want Jackson to have a sibling. Compiling the reasons why I would be crazy enough to want another baby. In my head, the pros outweigh the cons. Most women are able to say, "I want another baby!" and WHAM they are pregnant. It doesn't work that way for me. I am missing half the plumbing not to mention, I suffer from a debilitating disease that has caused years of pain and infertility. My only hope to complete my family and fulfill my dreams is to go through IVF for baby #2.

There are however a lot of reasons not to do it and these are my rebuttals.

Let's start with the whole health thing. In my head, the pros outweigh the cons by a mile. You know... no biggie. If I try to have another baby I'll either miscarry or destroy my womanhood forever (which was bound to happen whether I tried to have another baby or not). So from a health perspective alone (let's not discuss the mental anguish that goes with having a miscarriage), I may as well give this another go, yes? One of the biggest factors I didn't attempt IVF for baby #1 is because of my weight. BMI supposedly plays a big factor in the IVF process. I believe it is recommended to have a BMI under 30 to increase success. Regardless of that BMI number (which I think is kind of a load of crap anyway), I am 1,000 times healthier than I was when I was TTC the first time around and now have a healthy BMI of 25 to boot. I have to believe that will make a difference.

Finances. IVF is fucking expensive yo. I sat down and thought about my next new car which I am due for in a couple years. Now, if I can afford a Lexus, I can afford to make a baby. Period. No doubt, it is painful to think about the expense of getting pregnant when others are so easily able to get knocked up at no cost at all. The truth is, the cost is an excuse. I do have some funds available through insurance. The majority of IVF is not covered, but I may be able to use it for some tests and drugs. Beyond that, there is always financing available. I simply cannot use money as an excuse not to try this.

Sibling rivalry. What if Jack and his new brother/sister end up hating each other? I hope that is not the case, but I am willing to take the chance that it will work out for the best. Jack has expressed his interest more than once about his desire for a brother or sister and his apparent confusion as to why his friends have one and he doesn't. It breaks my heart. I honestly believe that he will be a great big brother and great helper for his mom and dad. I have gotten "the grass isn't always greener on the other side" argument about keeping Jack an only child; however, despite the years of aggression my sister and I had for each other growing up, I wouldn't have traded it for anything as we are close now as adults. I don't want the fear of rivalry to dictate this choice.

Fertility Drugs. IVF requires a number of drugs to be taken, injected or whatever other means they intend to make eggs and babies. My history with fertility drugs is not a positive one. As is the case with most prescription medication, I am highly sensitive to them. If they list a side effect, I will likely experience it. There is also the weight gain that comes with the drugs. If it doesn't work out, I'm left with an extra very unwanted 10-20 pounds and no baby. After my ridiculous amount of hard work over the last 2 years to lose weight, this does not excite me. If it DOES work out... I'll be having a BABY and that will include some extra pounds anyway (although... this time around, I will hopefully have the willpower to pass up on my cravings for Burger King burgers). It's worth a little bit of weight gain and a little bit of crazy to get my 2nd baby in my arms.

I recently got the chance to chat with an adult who was born from IVF back in the 80's. He discovered me and my blog via Twitter and wanted to share his story with me. He provided me with a great deal of inspiration to add to my many reasons not to give up. He said, knowing what his mom had to go through to bring him into the world gives him purpose. I love that and heck if I don't want to meet this guy's mama- she sounds awesome. But it is so true- women who go through treatment or adoption to have a baby go to the ends of the earth to bring their babies into their hearts and into this world. It leaves little room for doubt- these babies are MEANT to be here.

With all of this said, it is not an easy decision. It will affect my mind, my body and my family. I may not get the answer I want to hear. I may be wheeled in a week later to have a full hysterectomy. Regardless, what I need the most in my infertility chapter is true closure. Not a list of stats. A simple yes or no will do.

December 12, 2012

Wordful Wednesday: Winter Wonderland & Holiday Blessings

Minnesota finally received its biggest snowfall since something like February 2011. I was getting worried, I mean, snow and freezing cold- it's what we're known for in this place! I may be a freak, but I totally love it. I am a true, Minnesota girl!

Even more importantly, my KID loves it!

Snow & Snuggles? All is right with the world. 

Pretty sure he's happiest about the snow. 

Teaching him important life skills necessary to living in Minnesota.

I'm thinking... "I need snowpants too"

It isn't a snowstorm until you make a snow angel! 
I love this kid! 
I find it easy this time of year to get stressed out and distracted from the things that truly matter. My son reminds me to take a step back and look at things through his eyes. Remembering that the holiday season isn't all about buying the right presents or serving the right food but about love and togetherness. Playing in the snow. Enjoying how beautiful life truly is.

For the first time in years, I am at peace this holiday season. I haven't been stressing out over the fact that I haven't bought many presents or even that I have no idea what to get anyone. Nobody is fighting about where to go or on what day. I just feel... happy. Content. Blessed. I am in such a good place in my life right now. I am thankful for my beautiful family and friends- without them, I would be nothing. Thankful for a new job and colleagues who gave me an opportunity to succeed, continue to challenge me and love actually showing up every day. Thankful for an online community whom I look to for guidance and support as a professional, mom and of course entertain me and give me a laugh when I need it most. Thankful for new, special friends who came into my life this year that have surprised and inspired me in more ways than I can count.

As you get bogged down by the insanity of the holiday season, pissed off at the shitty traffic that came with a 12 foot snow dump and frustrated with a never-ending sinus infection try to remember and be thankful for the things both big and little that matter the most in life. Love. Peace. Happiness. A White Christmas!


December 07, 2012

Fabulous Friday: Recognizing Your Beauty

You all know that I lost a shit ton of weight over the last year. Yes, I feel great. Yes, I know I look different. I mean, I've seen the photographic proof. I've seen the numbers both with weight and the inches. Somehow it never seems to be enough. But do I ACTUALLY believe I am beautiful? Will I ever feel awesome about myself? Will the former fat girl in me ever leave me alone? I actually found some clarity recently, but I still think it begs the question:

What does it take to make you truly feel awesome about your self?

Does someone need to tell you?

Your spouse?
Your family?
Your child?
A stranger?

Does something need to happen? 

Fitting into and shopping for smaller sizes?
Being comfortable on an airplane?
Wearing a bikini with confidence (how the hell do you do that)?
Running 3 miles without stopping?

Did losing weight make me beautiful or is that what I thought it took to be beautiful? I lost all the weight... WHY DON'T I FEEL BEAUTIFUL??

I'm not certain what the answers are for you; however, it took a whole lot of the above for me to finally get there. Why did it take so much? Is it so hard just to believe that I am worthy of feeling this way?

Frankly, yes it is hard to believe. When you have struggled your whole life with weight, it is hard to even fathom that you could actually be in the body you always imagined having. I could look in the mirror or take a thousand pictures of the new me, but it still isn't enough. Yes, my spouse has told me I look great (but he is SUPPOSED to think I'm beautiful no matter what, right?). Yes, my family has told me (same rule for them that applies to the spouse). I love when my 4 year old tells me I'm pretty, but would he tell me that anyway? It's kind of dumb when you think about it, but when you get attention from strangers...  That is kind of the ultimate validation. A low whistle when you walk by. Being hit on at the bar. There is something awesome about finally reaching a pinnacle where a total stranger finds you attractive enough to make a comment, in which case I blush furiously, shake my head and flash my wedding ring reminding them that someone got there first. The person who always loved me no matter what size I was.

But alas... there is more. Other things needed to happen. Shopping for smaller sizes- when the sales lady asks if you need another size and you say, "Yes, can I try that in a 6 (holy shit)?" Or you come out of a dressing room and another person says, "That dress looks amazing on you. Definitely buy it." When I got on an airplane in August and I felt comfortable in my seat and at Disney where I never felt too big for the rides (too short... well, that is another issue). I shopped for bikinis last summer and actually didn't hate it (there is proof... but I am much to shy to share it here). Being able to run a 5K without blinking. Running a 5K in 33 minutes. Wha?? The old fat girl I used to be couldn't do that. Signing up for a 7K. Considering a 10K. The old me wouldn't have been able to fathom running either of these distances. The old me wouldn't have been running at all!

Holy crap. That's a lot of work to feel awesome about myself.

All of this is finally a reality for me. I finally feel beautiful and awesome, but not because I lost weight. No. It is because I finally started believing in myself. There is a confidence in my step. Even a little ego in my smile. Guess what? I've earned it. I worked hard for it. I will need to work hard to keep it. I've got this.

Will everyone else have to continue to work as hard to remind me?

Nope, because I'm already there.


November 26, 2012

A Scrooge No More

For years, I despised the coming of the holidays. The family tug-of-war. Where do we go? How many turkey dinners is it possible to have in a single day? Then the baby came along and that actually made the struggle worse as everyone wanted to see him. We tried a joint family holiday (yikes). Not knowing what to buy for presents for family. Not knowing if I should buy presents for co-workers. Shopping for the presents with ten gazillion other people. Procrastinating on the outdoor decorations until there is a blizzard blowing outside (true story). Weight gain. Gah.

I could go on. But...

So Proud Of His Tree
Something magical happened this holiday season. My child is old enough to get caught up on the spirit and I have to say, it is contagious. He loves all of the lights. He loves hearing about Santa (he asked if he could give Santa 3 choices this year). He was excited to learn Christmas songs. He keeps asking when his elf Ernie will show up (we are holding out on Ernie as long as possible... that is another whole blog post though). He helped me decorate the tree and is so proud of his work. How could you not be happy being around him?

This is also his first year of Sunday School and I am so happy that he is enjoying it! Every Sunday after the hubs and I pick up Jack from class we "recap" about what he learned in Sunday School. I just love that he's learning about the true meaning of Christmas and having it be about more than just presents and Santa. He will be singing in his first ever Christmas program and my family (you know... the same ones that were stressing me out every year?), they will be there in full to support him and I LOVE it!

I will also be singing for Christmas with my best friend this year. I love singing with her on the holidays because it is a reminder of how long we have been friends, of everything we have been through together over the last 15 years, how our love for music always bring us together and especially it is a reminder of how much I truly love Christmas.

Here is a little snippet of my BFF and I singing together this past Easter (shameless plug... she has a Christmas Album that she recorded and I'll be pimping it out for her next week):

So, forget about the stress. Forget about the stuff that needs to get done. Forget about yourself.

Look for the beauty in the holiday season!

November 13, 2012

Infertility Sucks, But Miracles Do Exist

Five years ago, I got a call from one of my dearest friends. After struggling with infertility, going through treatment, multiple miscarriages they were in fact, finally (yes, I'm throwing out the "f" word infertiles) pregnant. I was so, so happy for her. But I will confess, painfully jealous. I cried a lot that night. Cried out of happiness for my friend who got her miracle. Cried for myself because mine hadn't arrived yet. Once I got that cry out of my system, I knew it was time. Time to let go. Time to move on and be happy not just for myself, but for my friend whom I knew would be an amazing mama.

My husband and I let go. We decided that it was time to let go of the notion that we would be parents and embrace our life as dual income, no kids people. After letting go of the stress of trying to get pregnant and month after month of BFN's, we actually started to enjoy our marriage and our life. We made plans to travel. We even joked about opening an Applebees-esque restaurant & bar where children wouldn't be allowed. Yeah. We were "those" people.

I chuckle. Several weeks after a night of pretty heavy boozing, trips to both Mexico & Tahiti on the calendar, I ended up being one of those fertile people I loathed. Infertiles, you know of whom I speak. I will never under any circumstances say that it happened because I "relaxed". I got a BFP. No rhyme. No reason. Just a miracle.
My Ridiculously Cute Miracle Baby

Well, a couple weeks ago, that same dear friend invited me out for drinks and dropped the bomb that they are miraculously pregnant with their 2nd baby. They went through all the stages- deciding that having one child was okay. Deciding to try again. Deciding not to try again. Looking into adoption. Passing on adoption. Looking into IVF. No medication. No rhyme. No reason. Just a miracle. Amazing.

Upon the announcement of their news, I got the slew of "Are you okay?" emails from mutual friends and family. You know what my answer was and still is? I AM FINE!! Actually, I love it. I loved their news so much that I got choked up not feeling sorry for myself for once, but truly, for them. I am so overwhelmingly happy for them. I am thrilled they give infertility a big FUCK YOU.

Miracles are real. My friend and I will share that bond always. Our miracle babies. We feel so blessed it is ridiculous.
Our Miracle Babies. We love that they are buds. 

When I lost my left ovary and tube a year ago, I was all but told to forget about visions of another miracle baby. I was given scary statistics about a 60% miscarriage rate for someone with my condition, not to mention how hard it would be to get pregnant with one ovary in the first place and a questionable one at that. Being my stubborn self, the answer wasn't a flat out NO, so I never really got any closure.

Despite this crushing diagnosis, the idea of a 2nd baby still haunts me. I see how good Jack is with his younger cousins. I think he would be an amazing big brother. I have found it hard to adjust to the idea of him being an only child yet often find myself thinking I'm crazy for thinking I could handle another. I even had a random dream a couple weeks ago that I had a daughter. Her name was Katie. My Kate.

So I'm just going to confess, right here, right now: I want another child. So much so that my husband and I had the conversation about taking the steps into IVF. I'm going to have another discussion with my doctor and start there. Perhaps she doesn't want to touch my situation, which heck, I couldn't blame her. I will then ask her for a referral for a RE and take this to the next level. I want this. Not out of jealousy of my friend. Not just for me and my husband. FOR JACKSON. He deserves a chance to be a big brother. If I get another "no way in hell" answer from a specialist, then I will accept my fate. I will be okay. We will be okay.

At least I will know that I tried.

November 12, 2012

Fa La La La Let's Not Gain Weight This Holiday Season

I'll confess it out loud: I am the queen of holiday weight gain.

Perhaps most people start their holiday eating downfall at Thanksgiving. Mine starts much earlier: Halloween. Candy everywhere. I have zero willpower against a mini Hershey's bar. We dumped the remains of our candy into the last few lucky trick-or-treater's bags; however, my son still came home with a load. We kept a few "special occasion" treats and put them in a place that is significantly difficult for me to reach. Then there is work. Everyone seemed to have brought their extras in and are placed ever so strategically so I have to walk by it every time I go to the printer. Since I didn't post any Halloween pics... this sounds like the right time to show you the awesomeness that was our costumes this year:
Zombie Plastic Surgeon 

My best friend. I gave her a special face lift. 

I'll leave you with a cute Ninja Turtle. 

After a busy week and weekend filled with much more eating out than I care to do, I stepped on the scale this morning. Ouch. I have exceeded my weight threshold by 5 pounds (now 10 pounds over my goal) and must get back in action before the slide goes any further.

I freaking love holiday food. Cookies. Chex Mix. Candies. You name it. I love it. However: I will not let this holiday season get the best of me. I will not let this holiday season ruin my hard work.

I am so glad that I decided to use Weight Watchers as a tracking mechanism. I knew that reaching my goal weight wasn't going to mean I could let go of the tools I used to get there. I clearly cannot be trusted to be left alone. I tracked my weekend food this morning and I was shocked at how many awful choices I made when I clearly thought I was being "good". Frankly, I deserve to gain weight after my hideous weekend. Yikes. Tracking is SO important. No matter which tool you use whether it is Weight Watchers, SparkPeople, My Fitness Pal or just a plain old notebook just write down what you eat! Be accountable!

I also need to figure out my fitness. Yes, I'm running in a 5K fun run on Thanksgiving so I have to stay active if I want to be able to walk for the rest of the day next Thursday (okay... Thanksgiving is next Thursday? WTF time. Slow down already!). I am the CLASSIC example of the theory: Oh, I worked out so now I can eat like a pig. I must get rid of that mentality. Immediately.
My Running Buddy- At the Monster Dash
My initial reaction to my weight gain this week was wanting to run back to Medifast. That is not the answer for me. I NEED to learn how to deal with this in the real world. Don't get me wrong, Medifast was excellent at helping me lose a mass amount of weight, but for a measly 5-10 pounds? I must be able to do this on my own eating real food.

So what's my plan you ask?

  • TRACK TRACK TRACK. I've already blown through my points allowance this week, so I have to be on point every day if I don't want to see the scale creep up anymore. If I can remain honest with tracking, I should be able to make it through the holidays relatively unscathed. 
  • WORKOUT. While I don't have time to sit down with a trainer this week (and realistically, it probably won't happen until the new year), I know what to do. As I discovered yesterday, running outside when it is cold as hell out is not my gig. My lungs STILL hurt today after yesterday's 2 mile jaunt. I was actually thinking about starting the 5k-10k training program via treadmill to just SEE what I'm capable of. My friend really wants to do the Women Rock 10K next summer and I need to know what I'm able to do (19 minute mile is their minimum... I run an 11 min/mile 5K... not sure what a 10K will look like). Anyway... I digress... I plan to work out a minimum of 30 minutes every stinking day until I am under my threshold and then commit to a 5 day a week plan. Sound brutal? Well... it should be. I know better. Now I need to make up for it. More importantly, fitness needs to be a regular, routine part of my life if I hope to keep the weight off. 
  • DRINK WATER. Since starting my job downtown, I have been inundated with a Caribou or Starbucks in nearly every skyway in this city. Admittedly, my coffee/caffeine consumption has tripled. It started out with my fascination of the Northern Lite Dark Chocolate Mocha (which boasts upwards of 200 calories or something nutzo like that) to being a little smarter and just filling up my mug with dark roast (FYI, I bought a new travel mug while waiting in line... I kid you not this thing keeps my coffee smokin' hot all day long). While I do get 60oz of water in as a daily average, I could probably be drinking much, much more and I intend to do so. 
I'm serious about training for a 10K. Don't laugh (I'm laughing...) :) Who has some training recommendations? Websites? iPhone apps? Help!



November 09, 2012

Fabulous Fit Friday: I Made A New Friend!

One of the most challenging parts of starting a new job is the loneliness. Yes, people are kind. Yes, people are friendly. But making friends at work doesn't exactly happen overnight. As I head into my 6th month in my new world, things are finally starting to slip into place. My work is fun and challenging. I have some semblance of work/life balance shaping up. I work with people who are fun and smart.

One of the things I have had trouble with adjusting to in my new work world is my workout routine, especially now that it is dark so early in the evening, the motivation has been lagging. Thankfully, in a sidebar conversation with a colleague the other day, we decided that we need to start working out together over lunch! I have a gym membership and there is a location here in Downtown Mpls that I can visit. So what is my hold up? THERE ISN'T ONE. We decided that starting in January we will take Zumba together at least once a week as a minimum. I'm just SO excited that I found someone who appreciates fitness as much as I do! I felt like a teenager coming home from my first day of school screaming, "Mom, I made a new friend today!"

How are things going in the weight maintenance department you ask? I'm officially retired from Medifast and I am happy to say it isn't because I was a quitter- it was because I ACTUALLY COMPLETED THE PROGRAM. Holy shit. After years of failure on making lifetime at Weight Watchers, it feels good to say that I made it. Yes, my weight has fluctuated as my body tries to figure out exactly what I'm trying to do to it. Yes, I gained a few over Halloween. I am officially tracking and maintaining via Weight Watchers Online and it has been invaluable in helping me stick with my healthy lifestyle. You know what is amazing? I am okay. I'm okay with gaining a few pounds and I'm glad for it because it means I am conscious of what is going on. I'm still surprised when people say I'm "skinny". This week, I donated blood (and feel good about doing my part because the supply is heading to victims of Hurricane Sandy)- they had asked if I was eligible to donate platelets but besides being too short, I was also under the minimum weight requirement. I can't say that has ever happened to me! It feels awesome that I can legitimately be done with the "weight loss" mode of my life and learn how to be this new me.

I did decide to run in one more 5K for the season: the Turkey Day 5K. I LOVE that my good friend Kathy is getting into running and that I have a buddy to do these events with! I have a feeling that she is going to start kicking my ass soon. I'm so proud of her. I'm really excited about doing this 5K though because at least I won't feel quite as guilty about indulging on that Thanksgiving dinner. My husband and son are planning to join me that morning and I have an extra incentive to finish under 34 minutes- I want to watch my kiddo compete in the Kids K which is 1 lap around the track. He is SO excited to race like his mommy and I am so thrilled that I could even remotely be such a good fitness role model for him.

Overall, I am in a really good place. I am content with my weight. I am content with how I look. I'm content with my job. Stay tuned for a future blog post on the one thing that might be missing.

November 07, 2012

Wordful Wednesday: God Bless the U.S.A.

I am hating that I don't have the time to write like I used to! I'm working on finding balance between work, being a mom and completely spacing out at the end of the night.

THE most important thing I did this week is exercise my right to vote. I'm not going to go into a tirade about who I voted for or why. I'm not going to sit here and de-friend those who have an opposing view from my own or tell them that they are morons or idiots. The beauty of this great country is my right to vote. I have the right to my opinion. So all of you haters out there who stomping all over each other today? Cut. It. Out. Grow up. I witnessed some seriously horrific comments on Twitter and Facebook, most specifically pointed at Republican voters (not even kidding... someone called Melissa Joan Heart a "c" word for voting for Romney). You should be ashamed of yourselves for your blatant hate. Now can we all just put our rude and hateful opinions aside and start getting some shit done?


Regardless of the results, the haters, the whiners and the closed-minded individuals who ruined the spirit and energy the a presidential election usually holds, I am still proud to be an American. Proud to have a chance through my vote to make my voice heard.

God Bless America.

October 18, 2012

A Mommy Fear Comes True

I'm not a helicopter parent by any measure. I stand back and let my son learn things on his own. I let him try new things. I try not to interfere or nag until it becomes a safety issue. I try to keep my "no" items to the things that matter the most so that he understands when I say no, I mean it.

When we started building our house 5 years ago, we had given up hope of having a baby. We picked a model and our FABULOUS Country Joe Homes sales manager exceeded our expectations by adding in the little extras that we loved but didn't think we could have such as a pantry and a large wrap around front porch. It was our little dream home. We didn't put much thought behind designing something child-friendly, because we were under the assumption we weren't having one.

Cue our shock 4 months later when one pregnancy test after another showed up positive.

We were able to make small changes- such as what color to paint his room and what kind of carpet we should get that would withstand the spills of a child. We couldn't do anything about the large staircase or the location of the upstairs rooms and bathroom.

Here is how our house is laid out (for the most part):



On the 2nd floor you can see that to get from the bedroom next to the master to the bathroom, you'll have to walk right in front of the stairway. From the time we brought Baby Jack home, this has been a worry of mine- when he starts heading to the bathroom on his own, he'll have to walk right in front of that huge, long staircase. We watched him a million times run down that hall to the bathroom and back without incident and finally gave him the freedom to leave his room on his own at night. I always hear him get up (we still have him on a monitor) and hear the pitter patter of his little feet trotting down the hall. I never go back to sleep until he is safe in his bed.

Early this morning, the sound of the door opening and his feet in the hallway awoke us at around 4:45am. My husband thought he had been in the bathroom a long time and went to check on him. Jack emerged from the bathroom, gave his daddy a leg hug and proceeded to try and run around him only he cut his turn short and went tumbling down the stairs. In an effort to try and grab and save him from the fall, my husband fell head over heels right behind him. I didn't see any of this, I only heard the sounds of bodies going down the stairs and of my child screaming in terror. In a panic, I jumped out of bed and ran after them. Father and son were embraced at the bottom of the stairs. I quickly grabbed Jack into my lap to cradle him, put my hand on the top of his head to feel for any growing bumps and then felt the wet, stickiness of blood. Nausea flooded over me; however, I immediately I jumped up, turned on lights and ran to the kitchen where I hoisted him up on the counter to see what had happened to my baby boy. Seeing no gaping wounds, I caught a glimpse of my husband. He was a disaster. Arm bleeding, chin dripping with blood, swollen face. He took the brunt of this fall. I checked Jack from head to toe: barely a scratch. How is this possible? Seeing the state of my husband, I knew he needed medical attention. He stubbornly refused my offer of bringing him to the hospital and told me to just make sure Jack gets to school. Thankfully, my husband only required a couple stitches on his chin and had no broken bones (I'll bet he's glad I started making him take multi-vitamins!). He is in pain though with his bumps and bruises (yet apparently not so much pain that he's able to hold his XBox controller?? Fishy...).

Seriously though, my husband is a hero. He sacrificed himself and did whatever he could to keep our son from getting hurt. True love, man. True love.

My mommy instincts are still screaming even though everything turned out shockingly okay. I know it is time to take action: What are we going to do to keep something like this from happening again? As you can see from the floor plans, there is a bedroom right across from the bathroom. I hate the idea of having him go through such a change (he's been his current room since birth), but hate the idea of him getting injured on that stairway even more. Sure, we could put a gate at the top of the stairs, but what a pain in the ass those things are to fiddle with, not to mention you can STILL fall down the damn stairs after you go through it anyway.

I vote new room. We can paint and decorate it up and make it feel like it's truly "his" room that he can be proud of. It will get him closer to the bathroom, remove the issue of the stairway and may even get us over the overnight bedwetting hump. Now to get my husband on board with this idea...

What are your greatest mommy (or daddy) fears? Did you take specific action to keep them from coming true? 

October 16, 2012

My Romantic 7 Year Anniversary

Yesterday, I celebrated 7 years of mostly wedded bliss with my husband. We know couples who have taken fabulous vacations on their 7 year anniversary. Upgraded their wedding rings to add more bling.

We did nothing of the sort.

At the last minute, I rushed out to find a suitable gift for my husband. Very out of character for me as I usually research for months for the perfect, most creative gift. We follow the traditional/modern gift chart for our anniversary, mostly for fun, to see who can come up with the most creative gift. The 7 year gift is either wool or copper. Sounds easy, right? Oh so wrong. Now, with some research, I probably would've come up with something unique in the copper department, but flying by the seat of my pants? No luck. So, I'm stuck with wool. Also sounds easy, yes? Oh so wrong. EVERYTHING I looked at that would fulfill my husband's picky clothing palette was cotton! There were gorgeous merino wool turtle necks and v-necks, but no crew necks. I made one final stop into Banana Republic (yeah, I might be obsessed as it is one of the few smaller, less expensive shops to go in Downtown Minneapolis). I settled on a merino wool half zip sweater and crossed my fingers. Walking back through Macy's, I also bought him a new pair of wool gloves that have a heater and touch finger so he can use his iPhone with them on and completely random, a new belt for his new skinny waist. I never shop at the last minute so I was not confident in my selections. Never mind that I could have bought him a bottle of scotch and nice cigar and he would've been content.

Not surprising at all, the bus was running late. So, I had the hubs pick up the kiddo from school and I swung by to pick up our romantic dinner of take-n-bake pizza and cheese bread. Yes, I classied that up with a little red wine. My husband then left to take the kiddo to swimming lessons while I played with my new iPad 3. My gift. Which I guess has some copper in it? Husband then dropped the child off at home and made his way to the gym while I put the cranky, tired kid to bed.

By the time he was home from the gym and showered up, the kid fast asleep, we were exhausted. I quickly sped through the DVR, watched The Voice and off to sleep I went.

Romance at its best!

We do have a sitter for this Saturday and we will attempt to go on a date. I say "attempt" because I begged to do something other than our go-to date night dinner and a movie and as you all know, the ideas in my head are usually much more exciting than reality.

There you have it! Pretty much sums up how our anniversaries are spent now that we have a little one. The good news? There's a lot of love still there, even after 7 years of marriage and a full decade of togetherness. No, our marriage is not perfect. Is there such a thing? We bicker. We sometimes do not spend much time together. Our anniversary serves as a reminder of our commitment to each other and our lives together. Despite our busy and exhausting day, we were able to look at each other, look at our surroundings, look at our son and say, "We've done good."


October 15, 2012

Motivation Monday: Moving On

No doubt, Medifast was an excellent weight loss catalyst for me. It helped me detox my body from sugar and carbs. I lost an insane amount of weight. It was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone. They do give you the tools you need for a lifetime of maintenance; however, there does come a time when they set you free.

While I am still struggling with a lingering 7 pounds, despite being back on 5 and 1, I've decided to just let it go. At 157, I am still at the lowest weight I have been at in years and frankly, it is quite an accomplishment. I find that the longer I stay on Medifast, the more psychotic I get about that number. It HAS to be more than that. My boss asked me the question, "Why do this to yourself? You look fantastic." Sometimes rather than comb over and over about what I am eating and what I am doing to be stuck in this rut (and to be honest I am dumbfounded that at 1000 calories a day, I am not losing weight), I should really be looking in the mirror and asking myself, how do I FEEL. Like most women, that is a loaded question. Depending on the level of bloat on any given day you can range from feeling like a sexy goddess to Honey Boo Boo. So, during a little break today, I looked in the mirror. In my cute corporate outfit, consisting of my Banana Republic Shawl Collar Wrap top (and I'm including a link because it is the cutest most flattering and comfortable top ever), tie belt, black pencil skirt, black tights and Mary Janes- I feel pretty. I feel fit. I look healthy (don't take into account my lingering sinus infection giving me my lovely red hued cheeks). You can't tell I have extra skin or cellulite still clinging to my behind. My hair is done. My makeup is perfection. My clothes make me feel pretty and confident.

How I feel about myself is more than just a number on the scale. Why is that so hard for me to get through my skull??

Therefore, I have made the decision to end Medifast. I went through transition once and yes, I gained. In retrospect, I know what I did wrong. I understand why it happened. Now it is time to move on. I will never be "done" with weight management and it is an issue I will always struggle with. As part of my maintenance, I have decided to subscribe to Weight Watchers online. I always told you I'd go back to WW as a maintenance program!! What I have always liked about Weight Watchers is that it allowed me to be human. It allowed me to have indulgences without getting crazy. It helps to keep myself in check with portions and serves as a solid reminder how important it is to have a BALANCED diet. Let's face it. There is nothing okay with 900 calories a day and the truth of the matter is, my body is probably putting on weight because it is starving and going into my fat reserves. Logging back into Weight Watchers, I am CLEARLY not eating enough. With 26 points, on my Medifast maintenance, I was only eating 15 of those points, plus tack on exercise? Yikes. Starving. No wonder I've been dealing with illness and exhaustion. I think a change will do me good and maybe I'll even get rid of those stubborn, lingering pounds. I also believe that Weight Watchers is what you make of it. I found it was not effective for me for weight loss but extremely effective for maintenance

After spending the last two years of my life solely focused on nutrition, I am planning another change to my healthy living program. I want to shift my focus back to exercise and training which is why in November I will start myCoach at Life Time Fitness:
myCoach connects you to your own personal fitness coach, who will create your plan, check in with you and provide the support you need to succeed! You’ll get together (in-person) once a month to assess your progress, review and refresh your program. Then it’s up to you to do the work!
While myCoach won't tell me to eat right, it will help me design a workout program that works for me and is fun for me. It will help me focus. Best of all, I only have to meet with my coach once a month. Other check-ins are electronic. Perfect! It has been very hard for me to maintain a weekly weight check at Medifast. The closest office isn't that close and their hours pretty much suck. These weigh ins kill Saturday mornings for me. Time that I could be spending with my son. TIME is something I don't have much of. The gym on the other hand is open 24 hours a day. No real excuses. I can go after the kiddo goes to bed. I can manage meeting with a trainer once a month. This is something I'll actually be able to do and stick with.

One thing I have learned: maintenance is actually just as hard as losing weight.


October 04, 2012

My Head Is Spinning

My head is spinning.

Firstly. I got the flu. The knock down, drag out, kick me in my ass flu. Where did I get it from? It is a mystery. Doctors won't say it happens, but I got sick 5 days after I got my flu shot after being pretty healthy for the better part of 2012. Coincidence? I think not. Anyway it sucks. Really sucks. I cannot train for the Monster Dash given the fact I can barely walk two feet without busting out in a coughing attack. This means a lot of hard work over the last month down the drain. I am about a week out from being back up to speed. I am also singing in a wedding in 10 days. This bugger knocked me down for 8 days straight. My husband likes to think I was a total baby wuss. However, this wuss didn't miss a day of work over it despite a body that ached from my hair to my toenails and a daily temp of 101. I'm hard core like that. Perhaps I'll get over my issues with using PTO for sick time. I just feel like I need it for much better things like holidays and trips to Disney World (which I swear to you I'm going to blog about someday). Needless to say, after developing secondary infections (sinus & bronchitis) I got some strong antibiotics and I am slowly getting back on my feet again. Does anyone find it strange that not a soul around me got sick? Did I really keep my bubble that tight around me?

The second thing that has me in a tailspin is the fact that my always growing son is about to reach school age. There are a few things about this that have me mildly freaking out:

1) His age. He is one of those lucky kids who was born close to the age/grade cutoff. So what to do? Make the exception and send him to Kindergarten a year early? Wait a year? We feel like this one decision could be so important to the future of his education and we have no idea what the right choice is. If we send him early, will he be ready? Will he fall behind? If we send him later, will he be bored? What to do? What to do? Moms. I need you. What did you do with your late August/early September babies? Do you have any advice? Any regrets?

2) With being school age, we no longer have the comfort of him being in one place all day. Two full-time working parents have to figure out where to send their kid before and after the bell. To tell the truth, we both dislike the idea of having to do this at all. Both my husband and I were spoiled in the fact that we always had a parent waiting for us after school. Always there for that afternoon snack. Always there to remind us to get started on that homework. After feeling like I made the biggest decision ever in my career, changing jobs, changing companies... I am now re-thinking everything. I think my husband saw this coming a mile away, yet didn't mention it. I both love and hate that he makes me figure these things out for myself. He knew I'd choose my son above all. However, this is all still a year or two down the road. My hope, and yes, this is lofty, is that my current job will either let me go part time or mostly remote. There are a number of my colleagues who this company has made concessions for and I can only hope that after a couple years of a strong performance, they will consider me an asset and do what they can to keep me. Like I said, lofty. The other option is to find freelance or part-time marketing work. The flip side of this is that my husband may go back to consulting and if he's traveling, that will force me to be at home. There's no way I could continue this job and these hours with him gone all the time. I wouldn't do that to myself and I won't do that to Jack.

3) We are also intrigued by the idea of a private education. We are impressed with our church's K-8 school and suddenly, this option is now on the table. Is this crazy? So many of his preschool buddies are heading over to the public school. Will he even care? Will he even notice? The money isn't a concern- it is actually less than we had been paying for these last 4 years of daycare. The classes are smaller. They teach religion. He'll still be able to be in community league sports (if he wants). They get brand new Macs starting in 6th grade. This kind of feels like a no-brainer, right? I freaking HATED Catholic school. Now, I'm a girl though and girls are just innately evil and mean. Add rich to that and you've got a verifiable mean girl nightmare for a 10 year old girl. I begged my parents to send me to public school in the 6th grade and thankfully, they complied. They pulled my brother out too although, I'm not entirely sure why. Money? Perhaps. Thing is... I learned that pubic school girls can be as equally nasty as the private school ones. Ugh. Why does this matter? I'm just on the fence. We live in a wonderful school district and I've heard nothing but great things about the public schools. What to do? Help a mama out here.

So many things going on... so many important decisions to make. Nobody ever said that being a mom (and a professional and a wife) was easy.

September 25, 2012

The New Girl Syndrome

I am now 3 months into my new job and still very much still the "New Girl".

I'm not sure when I will shed this title, but I long for the day it will go away. While I am no longer crying my eyes out when I get home, I am still in that phase where I feel uncomfortable and... stupid. I'm surrounded by people who have worked for the company for a decade or more so they are all very knowledgeable and know just about everybody.

Most days I am able to take being the new girl in stride. I use it as an excuse for some of my incompetence; however, I also use it as an opportunity to create how I want to be viewed as a professional within the organization. It's exhausting. I often wish I could fast forward to a year from now when I know I will feel much more confident, competent and happy.

I am in that place where I am wondering if this is the right position for my skills. I feel as though the position was created to dump the busy work that my colleague hated onto someone else. Trust me, I get it. I did the same thing at my last job when someone new was hired to help the team. I confess. I gave her all my garbage work. So as the new girl, I kind of have to accept my lot and pray that these duties get shipped off to another world. The rest is just waiting. I hear a lot of, "You are going to own this in the future," and, "You will be responsible for that eventually." WHEN, I ask. WHEN??!!

I also dislike working in Downtown Minneapolis. I have heard from many that you either love it or hate it and I am sad to say that after a few months (not to mention an upcoming winter looming ahead) that I am leaning closer and closer to the hate side. While I sometimes enjoy my 30 minutes of glazed eyed zoning that takes place on the bus every day, I also dislike many other humans. Particularly those with bad breath, bad odor and uncontrollable bodily functions. I even had a girl fall asleep ON me last week. If you know me well enough, you know I have issues with personal space. I like my bubble. I dislike sharing that bubble with strangers. I miss being able to run errands in the middle of the day. Yes, there is a Target here in downtown; however, I am limited in space. I am not going to be able to carry loads of Christmas gifts and toys onto the bus. I miss being able to go to Medifast for a weigh in over lunch. I miss the MALL. OH god how I miss going to the mall. I often feel trapped when I am down here as though I am stuck here until that 4pm bell rings and I can escape back to my real world. For about a week, I felt incredibly cool walking among the corporate elite but now? I'm just annoyed by it. I long for someone to meet for lunch. I long to find a way to make this feel right.

I know it is early in this job and I seem to be asking a lot. I know I sound whiny.

I am.

Change is freaking hard and this was a big one. I wish I was adjusting better. No, I'm not giving up. I am one of those people who when they make a commitment, they stick it out for better or for worse. I don't feel like this was the worst decision I have ever made. The work I am doing is adding a skill set to my resume that was lacking.

I just need to learn to be patient. I need to see this thing through and know that I am not going to feel like the new girl forever. A year from now I'll look back and chuckle at it and WISH that I was the new girl again knowing that I will be bogged down in a pile of work.

September 24, 2012

The Great Bedtime Battle

Since becoming a mom, I have learned a level of patience that I had no idea existed within myself. I'm not certain my husband has quite grasped on to the concept yet, so for now, it will have to be my "thing".

Some of my virtual mama friends out there have entered into the potty training phase and have expressed their frustrations. OH the frustrations. I often imagined that my son would still be in Pull Ups going into Kindergarten as I really saw no light at the end of that tunnel for a good long time. My strong-willed child put up a good fight. Just like everyone said it would happen, suddenly he would be potty trained and we woulnd not even realize when it happened. I look back and cannot pinpoint an exact day  or even month when it happened. I have not forgotten how frustrating it was. The accidents, the excuses. We tried everything from rewards charts to candy to toy bribery. We are still working on overnight accidents and he hasn't gotten the whole wiping thing down yet, but we aren't stressing over it either.

Just like everything with our son, he chose to do it in his own time. In his own way.

Like many parents, bedtime is definitely a battle. Our child has no off switch,  so getting him to shut off for the night is one of the most insanely frustrating experiences. It's THE main reason my husband and I take turns putting him to bed. If it were an easy process, I wouldn't need every other night off from this duty. Just like potty training, he is taking his own sweet time when it comes to going to bed on his own. We have established such a flawless routine that attempting to break it in any way is proving disastrous.

Out of the blue, he decided he was big enough to go brush his teeth, go potty and get his jammies on by himself. If we DARE try to interject, he gets ANGRY and tells us to leave. He wants to do it by himself! Also out of the blue for the first time, he got out of bed on Saturday morning, came into our bedroom and declared, "Mommy and Daddy, it's wake up time!" He proceeded to explain that the bunny is awake so we all need to be awake now too. Now, the bunny clock has to be just about the best invention ever:


We were having issues with Jack waking up in the middle of the night thinking it was time to wake up for the day. He didn't seem to understand that it was 2:30am. It was a battle. So, we bought him this sleep/wake training alarm clock from One Step Ahead so he would know when the bunny is sleeping, he should be sleeping too. Holy crap. It actually worked. Yes, he still wakes up with bad dreams and needs a hug or needs help getting to the potty, but he knows to go back to bed because the bunny is still sleeping. We noticed on our video monitor (yes... he is 4 and we still use it... don't judge me), that he will wake up before the bunny is up but sit in his bed and play with dream lite or his stuffed toys until the bunny is awake. This this is like magic and we love it.

However, this magical clock did not cure his bedtime battle struggles. He WILL NOT let us leave the room and we must painfully wait until he is fast asleep before we can slip out. We thought maybe with all of his newly discovered independence that he would suddenly decide he can go to bed by himself too. So, we asked him if he was willing to try and if he would do it, we would reward him with a shiny, new light saber. Both nights we attempted this, we failed. He is dependent on our nearness and obviously thinks we are abandoning him if we don't lay by his side. Cradling him in my lap while he shook in fear with giant alligator tears rolling down his eyes, I reassured him over and over that I wouldn't leave him. My patience nearing its breaking point as I longed for my "me" time, my stomach grumbling for my next scheduled Medifast snack, I took a deep breath and snuggled in next to my sad, little boy. He fell asleep quickly, holding my finger in a death clutch that said, "Please don't leave alone, Mommy." As I freed my hand and tiptoed out of his room, I blew him a kiss and promised myself that we would no longer try and push this issue with him.

As with everything we've "struggled" with along the way, he will learn to go to bed by himself in his own time. It may be a month, heck, it could be a couple more years. I do know for sure, it will be in his time. When he is ready. Truthfully? Despite the sometimes frustrating push back he gives us (i.e. I need to go potty again, I'm thirsty, my tummy hurts... etc etc etc), I have learned to love this quiet time. Most of the time we snuggle and read books on my Nook and then just talk. I've learned more about his day in the 10 minutes before he falls asleep than dinner and playtime combined.

I selfishly treasure my time with him, so why be in such a hurry to get him to grow up!?

I was not compensated in any way for promoting the sleep training clock. It is just that kick ass that I had to share it with all of you. 


September 21, 2012

Fabulous Fit Friday: A Fresh Start

Since I hit my goal back in June, I have gained about 10 pounds. Fuuuuuuu...

Here's the thing... I don't know why! I followed the stabilization plan. Even when I did stray (ahem... Disney World), my food was accounted for. I have stayed around 1300 - 1600 calories per day and continued to exercise moderately. By all measures of science and biology or whatever, I should actually be losing weight.

I have been beyond frustrated.

A few weeks again, I met with a wonderful counselor at Medifast who felt my pain. I saw her the day after I came back from my vacation and she chuckled a bit that I was so flabbergasted by my weight gain. Bloated and vacationized, she told me to give it another week before I hop back on Jump Start. One week later, no change. I saw a different counselor who seemed to be unsympathetic and actually made me feel pretty shitty about my situation. She basically said no way to going back on Jump Start (WTF people.... don't you want my money??) because it would mean starting over with stabilization. Why this bothered her, I don't know. If it should be bothering anyone, it should be ME, right? Who the hell wants to start over?? I was so frustrated and put off by this session that I got into my car and had myself a good cry. I paid these people to help me come up with solutions! All I got is negative back talk. No support. No options to try.

Fast forward one week later. Sitting in the Medifast lobby, I was PRAYING I wouldn't get this same girl again. I was not in the mood to have to defend myself (despite working my ass off all week... I somehow still felt like I would have to justify everything in my journal). Thankfully, I got a different gal (and for the life of me, I don't know any of their names except for the one I don't get along with). She sat and LISTENED. I told her how frustrated I was and how I didn't understand the weight gain. I all but begged her to let me go back on Jump Start to lose these stupid 10 pounds that wiggled back in. Thankfully, she agreed.

Why was this a big deal to me? Losing 10 pounds in my world is all but impossible. Eating regular food, I tried to implement some of my old Weight Watchers tactics, but with no luck. My weight had stabilized. I guess that is kind of the point, huh? Thing is... my clothes... my beautiful new clothes... were starting to get tight. Isn't it weird that when my weight was at this weight on the way down, I felt awesome, but now that it jumped up to it I feel frumpy and gross?

Regardless, I am hoping to lose about 12-15 pounds over the next 4 weeks. I will then start the stabilization process over in which I will gain a little back (about 3-5 pounds is average) and that is where I should stabilize. We have discovered that I am likely lactose intolerant (a possibility for the bump in weight) and my re-start of birth control pills to control my endo is another reason. The stress of starting a new job (not to mention being surrounded by fabulous food) is yet another. Vacation. I could go on. Regardless of the reasons excuses, I am going to take care of it.

Look. I know it isn't always about the number on the scale. A colleague told me she didn't understand why I was fretting over 10 pounds and that I looked fantastic. Another colleague guessed me age- he thought I was under 30. Holy hell. He made my whole day! You would think the stupid 10 pounds wouldn't be a big deal, but it is. Yes, my beautiful new clothes are getting tight; but, more importantly, there are bigger issues with food that I am struggling with. Being back on Jump Start exposes those issues and puts me in a place where I have to deal with them head on. I needed this.

This is my fresh start for autumn. I needed exercise motivation so I signed up for the Monster Dash 5K with a good friend of mine and am officially in training again. I am super stoked to have discovered a BEAUTIFUL park, just a quick 5 minute drive from my house: Cleary Lake Regional Park. It's about 3.2 miles round trip around the trail so it is a perfect training location.

Be happy. Be healthy. Get out and enjoy the amazing fall weekend to come!

September 10, 2012

Medifast: A (Long) Testimonial

Before Pictures (notice most of these are from the waist up??):
That's me on the right. Taken in summer 2010.
The photo that inspired my healthy journey. November 2010. 
From January 2009


AFTER PICTURES!!



I am still hoping to do more "official" after pictures but I couldn't do a testimonial without some photo proof!

When I started my Medifast journey in January, I was skeptical. Let's face it, I had been working another program on and off for 6+ years seeing varied levels of success and was basically ready to accept that a 188 pound Joanne is who I was supposed to be. Medifast promised results. I was skeptical.

MY STORY
I have always had issues with my weight dating all the way back to 10 years old when I "developed" faster than the other girls. The truth is that 10 year old boys don't find curves sexy and the other girls don't envy you for them. They call you fat. Enduring nicknames from the boys such as "thunder thighs", I developed a thick skin. Involved in sports, I was able to keep my weight somewhat in check throughout middle school and high school; however, the college freshman 15 hit me hard. Fairly mortified, when I moved back home halfway through my freshman year, I took my health seriously. I took a tennis class and started working out regularly at the community center. When it got warm out, I started inline skating with a girlfriend nearly every day. I was a lean 135 pounds heading into my sophomore and junior years of college. I was grateful to have landed a job working at the front desk at Life Time Fitness my last couple years in college and to me, being fit was an important part of the health club image that I wanted to live up to.

I then entered the workforce and my first career job as an IT Recruiter required a LOT of lunches with clients and consultants on a nearly daily basis. Not taking into account the effect it would have on my body, I steadily gained weight throughout the year I was at that horrifically stressful job and found myself up from 135 in college to 179. Yikes. I even had a boyfriend dump me because of my weight gain. Back to fighting the weight battle. I was able to get down to about 165 and hung out at that weight for a good couple years and that was the weight I was at when I met my now husband. Low and behold... I gained what I like to refer to as "relationship weight." You know, the weight you gain when you start dating someone because 1) You eat out all the time and 2) You don't care as much anymore because you landed "the guy". When we got engaged, my weight had soared to 185 lbs. I joined Weight Watchers but was afraid to lose weight in fear of not fitting into my dress and having to make costly alterations because of weight loss. So, I focused on toning up, doing pilates and making healthy choices and holding my weight steady.

Married and blissful, we wasted no time in starting a family. I got pregnant 5 months into trying and sadly miscarried. Devastated, I began a steady weight climb thanks to emotional eating mingled with fertility treatments. By 2007, I was at 211 pounds and SHOCKED at my weight and mortified at the pictures of me at my sister's wedding. I rejoined Weight Watchers online and was able to lose around 15 pounds before I got the joyous news (after 2.5 years of zero luck): I was pregnant! Too sick to eat most of the time, I didn't start gaining weight until well into my 20+ weeks of pregnancy where I put on a startling 30 pounds in the final half of my pregnancy. The day after I gave birth to Jackson, my weight was 240 pounds. Now, I know... you can't really count the day after giving birth as I was pumped with IV fluids and medications. I was down 20 of those pounds within no more than 3 weeks. It was a slow go of weight loss after that. Exhausted and suffering from postpartum depression, I honestly didn't care about my weight. I didn't care what anyone thought. I kind of just wanted to sleep. All the time.

My brother got married in November 2010 and I had lost very little weight for his wedding. When I saw the pictures, I about died. Was that me? Those pictures are going to be on Facebook forever. Ugh. My weight still high at 211 pounds was a wakeup call. I rejoined Weight Watchers (do you see a pattern here??) but this time I got a Monthly Pass and started to attend meetings. You can read more about my initial inspiration here. It took 6 months, but I was able to lose 20 pounds on Weight Watchers. But 6 months after that... I had still only lost 20 pounds and to say I was frustrated is an understatement. I'm sure there were many reasons for my stall: lack of portion control, too many carbs, hormone therapy but most of them really just felt like excuses. I had been following a gal named Erica on Twitter and she had been losing a massive amount of weight on the Medifast plan. I was more than a little jealous of her success at first and of course, Weight Watchers blasts all of "those" programs. But, Weight Watchers was no longer working. Let's face it, a 6 month plateau isn't really a plateau is it?

Medifast promised results. I was skeptical, but willing to give it a solid try. Starting my Medifast journey at 188.3 pounds, I put down the money and made the commitment. The first week, I lost 7 pounds. 7 POUNDS! I knew that wouldn't happen every week, but I also knew after just one week that this was a plan that was going to work. My losses slowed down to an average of 2 pounds a week (totally healthy weight loss by any program standards). Although I didn't make my goal weight loss of 38 pounds by my  original goal date of April 11, I wasn't far and for the first time EVER on a weight loss plan, I knew that I would make it. The last 10 pounds were a bear, they didn't want to let go but I persisted and WON.

Throughout the program, as I kept getting smaller, it was kind of surreal. These little milestones like losing 15, 20 and 25 pounds went by so quickly that I didn't even have a moment to celebrate them. My celebrations have been kind of ongoing: replacing my entire wardrobe, running 3 miles a pop without falling in a heap of sheer exhaustion, WANTING to have my picture taken and enjoying eating healthy (as in, grilled zucchini is the BEST THING EVER). Probably the craziest part of all of this? My husband has never seen me this small. I can tell he's checking me out and I know he's proud. My Medifast journey has inspired him as well. Even though he is not doing Medifast, he has committed to taking his own healthy journey and his habits will help carry me through my transition and maintenance. I am kind of hoping he'll ask me to marry him again so we can renew our vows as the new and improved US. 

I will shout it from the rooftops: I LOVE MEDIFAST. I would love to tell you that it has been easy, but that is not true. I have been tempted. I have even fallen off the wagon. The support I get from my Medifast counselors on a weekly basis has been the key to getting me to my goal weight. Yes, they scolded me for my discretions but we moved on and worked on finding ways to helping me through those challenging moments rather than dwell on mistakes that were made. They never stopped believing it was possible for me.

I have received a lot of flak for joining this program.
* It's not a "real" weight loss program and is unhealthy
* I'm just going to gain the weight back when I start eating real food again
* I did something similar once and gained the weight back. You will too.

It shocks me how unsupportive people can be but it is also eye opening- some of these comments came from people I know very well. They are basically saying that I will fall back into my usual patterns and gain weight again. They were simply calling my bluff.

I am counting on Medifast to be there for me through my transition and maintenance. Despite my desire to jump head first off the wagon into a juicy pile of hamburgers and french fries, I know that is no longer my reality. Part of my resolution, starting back in 2011, was to lose the weight and keep it off for good this time. Medifast is giving me the tools I need to succeed; however, it is up to me to make sure I use them.

I want to prove everyone wrong.

I am either donating or selling all of my "big" clothing so there won't be anything to wear if I gain weight. My husband is embarking on this journey with me and I am counting on him to help me stay accountable. I will need to journal. I will need to continue eating healthy. Medifast was my catalyst to get me to the weight I need to be at and it is up to me to keep it there. I'm not a fool- I know it will take hard work and determination but I am ready for the challenge. I have no excuses to not lead a healthy lifestyle- I want to be around for my son for a long time to come and I will do anything to make that happen. Frankly, I don't want to ever see 240 pounds again.

It's not all about the weight. In November 2011, I went in for a general physical with my GP (my weight was around 190 at this time). Here were my numbers back then:
Cholesterol: 202
HDL: 36
LDL: 140
Triglycerides: 132

Here they are NOW:
Cholesterol 165
HDL: 46 (this is the good cholesterol- you want this number to be higher)
LDL: 99
Triglycerides: 97

To say I am thrilled with these numbers is an understatement. It is a total testimonial to the importance of weight loss and a healthy diet.

Need proof? It's in my numbers.

Could I have really lost 90 pounds over the last 3.5 years? Yes, I did. While I did a great deal of it on my own and with the help of Weight Watchers to get me started, Medifast helped me get rid of the last 40 that I wasn't sure would ever go away. I am so thankful that I found them and didn't give up. I am thankful they weren't the gimmick that everyone thought them to be.

I am no longer staring at a light at the end of the tunnel. I am outside in the light and it is bliss.

 
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