K*I*S*S- Keep it Simple, Sweetheart!

Happy Sunday!

It’s been a very busy week, and sadly, I was not successful being keto. But I graduated my middle child, cheered for him at the meet of champions and spent several evenings watching for and hiding from tornadoes.  One must love Oklahoma in the Spring!

But at least school is out for the summer and things are going to be much more relaxed for me.

After eating grain free for 5 days, the pain in my joints had begun to ease up quite a bit.  But once the week got away from me, and I gave in to the temptation of drive thru on the run just to make it through the week, the pain began to return.  Just a nice reminder that preperation is paramount! My goal for the week is to have my lunch and breakfast prepared the night before on days when I have to leave the house early.  My plan for breakfast is to prepare some keto waffles and keep them in the fridge to be thrown in the toaster paired with berry compote or almond butter… or maybe both, and some precooked bacon or sausage.

When I  eat healthy I seldom want a meal mid-day, but I will prepare a snack just in case.  I’d love to hear what your favorite ‘go to’ snacks that keep in a hot car.  Of course nuts and pork rinds will be at the top of the list.

Dinners are always my biggest challenge, since I tend to want to prepare tasty recipes with many indredients.  This is something I’m going to be working on.  But here is my plan for the week.

  • Sunday: Steak with herbed butter, twice baked cauliflower, salad
  • Monday: Pulled pork roast in the crock pot (a good opportunity to try some keto bread recipes to make pulled pork recipes) vegetables in butter
  • Tuesday- Leftover pulled pork, vegetables in butter
  • Wednesday – Left Over pulled pork, vegetables in butter. (Freeze any leftovers)
  • Thursday: Garlic Butter Shrimp over zoodles,
  • Friday: Pork Rind Nachos
  • Saturday: At the Renaissance Festival!  Smoked Turkey Leg… not sure there is much more available to me, so I would be wise to eat before going in.

10257875_10203701874888945_3586306757417276_o

It feels good to have developed a meal plan for the week that is uncomplicated and I should be able to stick with. I can’t wait to get out and take some pictures and just enjoy the atmosphere of the festival this weekend.  And then it’s off to South Padre Island next weekend. Lots of opportunities to eat health down there, and lots of me time to relax and get centered.

Wishing you all a healthy and successful week.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…

Wow. Just…wow!

Is it possible that, once again, I am right back where I started? Of course it is.  Making changes takes… well changing.  And I haven’t yet. At least not in a positive way.  But I’m still trying.

 

This year has brought a lot of realizations for me.  First, my handsome son, a state track placer and scholarship recipient, will be graduating in 9 days! Im still trying to let that soak in.  It still doesn’t seem real. And before I know it, he’ll be gone to college! And my daughter will be starting her senior year.  Unlike my son, she no longer needs my help. She’s chosen a path and will graduate as a certified welder, and her teachers say she is absolutely amazing! She has no problems managing money, she is confident and strong.  Truly, she is already raised. And she isn’t even quite 17 yet.

So here I sit, feeling like my whole life is leaving me and trying to make plans for the future… only the things I want, and the things I am reasonably able to do are not the same. Things like amusement parks, hiking trips, backpacking, kayaking, scuba diving, traveling by plane, ziplining, horseback riding.  I want to travel out of the county, but who wants to be seen as the obese American?  And I’d like to LIKE what I see in the mirror. I’d like to meet someone to share my adventures with. I’d like to be stronger, and happier, and just feel like my life isn’t completely out of control.

Those are all the things I’ll need to remind myself of as I start AGAIN… WHY I am doing this.   And what are my milestones.  When can life truly begin again.

Now I know some of you may be saying, ‘you don’t have to wait for life to begin’. But I beg to differ, and here is why.  One of my biggest challenges in my journey is avoiding distraction. It’s staying on plan, and that is REALLY hard to do when I can’t plan in advance,or don’t have the energy to prepare myself for success (by preparing foods in advance, having the house clean, laundry done, etc. )  All of these things are VITAL for me, and to be quite honest, I’m currently lucky to do ONE of those things each WEEK.  My endurance is terrible, my pain in unbearable, and I my mental clarity is sorely lacking… something that I know from experience is a direct result of eating processed foods and grains. For me, those things are equally as addicting as crack and heroin.

So now it’s time to figure out how to do this without getting overwhelmed and giving in.  The only way I’m going to do that is by taking it one step at a time.  One new habit at a time.  A lot of personal reflection. And plenty of forgiveness for my shortcomings.

I began the first step yesterday by cutting out grains.  This one is huge for me.  When I eat grains my joints become inflamed and painful, my mind becomes muddy, I have chronic severe headaches, and the pressure in my brain begins to worsen. (Literally. I have a condition called pseudotumor cerebri, or Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension)  When I cut wheat in particular, not only do my symptoms improve, but i quickly begin to drop water weight at a rapid pace.  I will hold myself to just this step until May 20th. And May 21st I will add a new habit. And will add a new one when the last has become manageable, until my life is back in control.  I won’t worry about my next step for now. Today it’s simply no grains.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

12255493_10206887707966300_1633988014_oIt’s a New Year, and most of us have made a habit of making New Year’s resolutions; to lose weight, to make more money, to find love, to quit smoking, and the list goes on.  We believe that we can pick something and make a change.  Baby steps.  And most of us fail miserably.  Why?

I’m no different.  In July of 2014, I made the usual resolutions to improve myself.  I knew I was unhealthy, depressed, and on the verge of just giving up.  I am a girl who does NOTHING in moderation.  Work, play, art, relaxation… and giving up.

The first half of the year I chugged along, getting through each day one at a time.  Barely.  I felt like life was dragging me along, and I had no control.

In July, I decided to FINALLY to go to the eye doctor (since I’d been wearing the same glasses for 10 years) and get myself contacts for the first time ever. My eye doctor discovered that I had signs of intracranial hypertension. (Increased pressure on my brain), which can lead to blindness, stroke, and other health issues. WHAT?!?!

In addition to this new information, I’d been trying to ignore the fact that for over a year,  I hadn’t been able breathe, had a chronic cough, frequent chest pains, and chronic severe pain and depressionI finally broke down and went to see my doctor after years of ‘sucking it up’ because ‘I was fat, and it was to be expected’.

A few blood tests and an MRI later I had answers.  Rather than the lung cancer, brain tumor, or severe heart disease that I expected, we found that I was severely anemic which was causing insufficient oxygenation, and therefore difficulty breathing, chest pain and fatigue.  I was borderline diabetic, but none of my symptoms were related to that.  The intracranial hypertension was idiopathic (no known reason).  The only treatments are 1) weight loss, 2 )spinal taps to reduce pressure and 3) diuretics to decrease fluid.  Medication was started immediately.  (No one is sticking a needle into my spine… yet.)

And I resolved to lose weight.  And I did.  I lost 60 lbs.  In six months.  Then I stalled out.

Now there were a lot of changes for me in 2015. I met someone that made me happier than I think I’d ever been. I was already beginning to feel better with 60 lbs gone.  I had a hysterectomy in March, and a few months later I was no longer anemic, nor was I borderline diabetic.  As my energy level increased, so did my level of activity. My patient load nearly doubled at work, and I took on more photography sessions and events.

And then I broke.  That great guy chose someone else.  My weight loss stalled.  Lots of speedbumps at work and  technical issues in my photography business, and before I knew it I was buried in work both at work and at home.  I worked 8-5 or more at work, and then came home and worked on photography until 3 or 4 am.  I was back to being fatigued, eating opportunistically in drive-thrus, pizza delivery, and convenience stores.

The only thing that kept me going was the fear of not being liked.  I know. Pathetic.  But I’d promised all these pictures to people, and I hated the thought of letting them down.  It took one post on facebook by someone who felt they needed to publicly berate and humiliate me for having to wait for her pictures to tip the scale and send me plummeting.

My confidence collapsed, my passion for photography dwindled, my will to live was extinguished.  Suicidal thoughts were daily.  I resented my wonderful, beautiful teens for existing because it meant that I couldn’t be selfish and check out.  I couldn’t end it because it would forever affect them.  I felt trapped in a life where I was unloved, unappreciated, unwanted, and unnoticed.

Of course, most of us know that reality is nothing but our own perception and interpretation of our experiences and surroundings, and your reality is not MY reality. Nor is mine, yours.  In the matter of days, the friendly smiles and interactions I’d enjoyed with coworkers, athletes, coaches, parents, and friends turned from the relaxed, joyful, and satisfying exchanges to what felt like judgemental, impatient, and painfully short interactions.

And then I withdrew.  I avoided eye contact, conversation, and any form of interaction. When I did attempt social interaction it felt forced and insincere, because I just didn’t feel like I had anything to offer anyone and would influence negatively anyone I came in contact with.

I cried daily. Not just drippy tears, but ugly faced sobbing that would be so humiliating if anyone ever saw you.  I cried from the depths of my soul, and while I experienced mild temporary relief from these outburst, the physical pain became stronger every day.  It became unbareable.  At times I felt as if I just breathed too deep I would physically shatter into a million pieces.  Yes, even the physical, autonomic act of breathing was like being sliced with razorblades.

For the first time in a decade, Christmas turned out to be a blessing for me (where it usually was a soul numbing reminder that I was alone in the world.)  This year it because an opportunity to focus on others rather than on how lonely I am.  And now, as I enter a new year, I am climbing out of the hole I’d slid into months ago.

So now that I am attempting to climb out of this hole I’ve dug for myself, I’m looking into 2016 to chart a course to a better life.  Weight loss? Sure.  Love? I’m open.  But the changes I need to make are not so superficial, nor are they goals for just this year.  What I want is to build a life that I have more control of while being flexible enough to handle the things I am not in control of.  To love myself enough not to care if others do, while loving them inspite of how they show their love, or lack of, towards me.  To foster healthy relationships while gently separating myself from those that affect me negatively.  To focus on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. And to remind myself that it is okay to say no, and limit the work that I accept (in photography… my day job boss probably would be less understanding, and that’s the job that pays the bills.)

May you all discover what makes your life worth living, nurture those things, and minimize the things that wrestle away your will to go on.  Share your passion, release your pain before you cause pain to others, and embrace the beauty and love you experience every day.  Don’t forget to breathe, put down social media and enjoy human to human connections more, and make time to build new relationships.  Be kind. Don’t make assumptions. Always do you best, and don’t ever think your best isn’t good enough. And learn not to take things personally.  Be gracious. Be honest. And above all, be true to yourself.  Be fearless, and do the things that you are afraid of. Move forward, not backward.  Love  yourself.

A Little of This, and a Little of That

It has been an interesting week.  After weeks of stress and long working hours, things are beginning to slow down a little.  Still much work to be done, but a little more time to get it done in.  Unfortunately, I must be sedentary to get it done, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I have struggled to remain on plan most of the last few weeks, and haven’t always been successful.  There have been trips to fast food resteraunts, where I’ve not eaten entirely paleo, but did manage to stay grain free which is a huge part of this battle for me.  I went to my favorite bistro one day, a quaint little place that offers gluten free breads and wraps, and fresh, homeade soups.  Unfortunately, they goofed and gave me regular bread on my grilled ham and cheese, and it left me feeling sick for 3 days.  I’m just now returning to normal.  The headache was a little more persistent than usual, and really brought me down.

At least, I think that is what it was.  In March I underwent a partial hysterectomy.  And I’m so very glad I did.  No more anemia, quite a bit more energy, and I can wear white pants for the first time in my life!  On the downside, since I was never very regular to begin with, and I still have my ovaries, I am beginning to realize that I still have some PMS symptoms:  The food cravings, and most of all, the sudden need to cry myself silly for a day. What’s difficult about that is that now I never know when to expect it, so when it hits me it is difficult to know if I’m truly depressed, or if I can just expect to feel normal again tomorrow.  I suppose it doesn’t really matter.  After a day of misery and self loathing, I WILL wake up the next day and I’ll know then.  Thankfully, this morning I woke up my usual self.  Strong, determined and ready to conquer the day.

I have been hovering between 280 and 285 for over a  month.  It’s been frustrating, and every other attempt, I would have started sliding back into my old ways.  Not this time.  I may not have been on point at every meal, not always paleo, but always gluten free (by choice anyway.)   This morning I stepped on the scale and was happy to see a 279.2.  May that trend continue!

And there have been several non-scale  victories.  This week I played raquetball twice.  It was awesome, and felt so good to use my body in an agressive fashion!  It’s been a long time, and I liked it!

Even better, BEFORE I played, I realized I was able to raise my foot onto the opposite knee (to put on my socks and shoes, and TIE my shoes )  without having to grab my foot and PULL it onto my knee!!!  I just put it up there, pretty as you please!  I sat there stunned for a moment, just staring at my independent foot in wonder.  Now for anyone who has never had the pleasure of having to wrestle with their body to get shoes and socks on, this may sound strange.  Why do you think I have been wearing slip on shoes for the better part of 5 years?  The effort it took to lean over and grab my foot, while my abdominal organs were being forced upward into my chest cavity by my lap, was traumatic. First you feel all the blood rushing to your face, then the air being pushed out of your lungs to make way for everything below to take up residence where the air should have been.  I had to suffocate myself anytime I wanted to wear shoes!

And thus the woman who wore only slide on shoes was born.  I must admit, I am not the least bit sad to see her go.  Step one, wear normal shoes!  I’m hoping someday I will even get to wear heels again!

I spend a good part of today planning a weekend getaway for next weekend. It’s been a while since I just escaped with a friend and no kids.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything that didn’t involve work in some fashion.  So next week, Ashley and I are headed to Eureka Springs, Arkansas!  And for once, the plan isn’t to spend a bunch of money (just half that lol).  Instead we are making it an active weekend.  Friday night, dinner and dancing is on the agenda, Saturday we will be hiking the Blue Springs trails… AND taking pictures of the botanical gardens.  A little shoppin and relaxation in the afternoon, then dinner and some more dancing in the evening.  Sunday we will head out for Buffalo River and do some more hiking (and picture taking)  I’m excited!

I hope you are all finding ways to be not only active but having fun while you do it!

Back on Track!

Fajita Salad
Fajita Salad

True to form, I have been off plan for the past couple of weeks.  and it’s been a CRAZY two weeks.  But things are finally starting to slow down, and I was able to FINALLY get back on track, effective today!

I know what your thinking.  “More excuses.”  A reasonable thought.  I know if you want it bad enough you are going to get it done.  And I DO really want it.  I want ALOT of things, and sometimes everything converges together and I have to choose one.  Family, photography, work, sleep, or weight loss.

As a single mother, not working is not an option, and per usual, when things in one area of my life go crazy, they ALL do!  For the first time in a while I’ve had more than 40 hrs worth of work to get done in LESS than 40 hours.  At the same time,  ‘my on the side’ photography business went wild.  Baseball/softball/tball season  is one of my busiest times anyway, but this year the months worth of work had to be crammed into 2 weeks because half of the season was rained out!  And I had requests from twice the number of teams that I did last year!  (I couldn’t possibly say no, when I’m trying to build this burgeoning little business.)

In the last 2 weeks I haven’t slept more than 4 hours a night, trying to process thousands of pictures, all the while, my computer has been acting up and taking 4-5 times as long to complete tasks.  I’m surprised I have any HAIR left, and I haven’t yanked it out in frustration.

Which brings us to today.  I finally crawled into bed at 630 this morning and slept a full 5 hours. Woohoo.  When I woke up I got back to work, but instead of continuing to fight with the computer, I focused on fixing whatever was causing the problem.  By 5pm I’d made a bit of progress, but I needed a break. What better time to plan a menu for the week and go grocery shopping, right?  And thats what I did.  Then I came home and COOKED!  For the first time in weeks!  Todays picture (above) was my plate just before I finally got to eat, since I’d forgotten all day, unless you count a handful of blackberries for lunch.

For me, in order to be successful, I have to go by the KISS philosophy.  “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”  So I fired up the castiron skillet and fried up some beef fajitas (with bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, butter, chili powder and garlic.)  I served mine over a bed of lettuce and made my own dressing by simply mixing salsa and sour cream together.  Yum.  And so easy.  A little homemade guacamole on some black bean tortilla chips.  And wallah!  I’m a happy girl.

While I was at it, I boiled up some eggs for a quick, on the go, breakfast, and packed some leftovers for lunch tomorrow at the office.  In the morning I will start my crock pot and we will have some BBQ pulled pork, coleslaw, and BBQ beans.

Now I realize this is not strictly paleo, but I’m not beating myself up for it.  And that makes me a winner. Because I’m moving in the right direction, and accepting of my limitations now.  I’m just so glad that I have finally figured out that life is not black and white, win or lose, succeed or fail.  There’s a lot of gray in there.  And if you beat yourself up every time you aren’t perfect, you are just setting yourself up for more failure in the future.

Love yourself, do your best, and own it all. The victories AND the challenges.  And know that it is all part of this amazing journey.  I hope you are all had a blessed day!