Mission Statement

I started this blog to chronicle my weight loss, but it has turned into so much more. I continue to write to hold myself accountable, but also because I have received messages that have made me cry from people who are touched by what I have shared. I promise I won't hold back, if you promise to be kind with the intimate details of my world that I share.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Valuable Lessons

This past weekend I took my kids camping at Port Aransas, on the beach. My friend Shelly asked how we staked our tent on the beach, and I just have to share the story about Hunter and how we never would have survived this trip without him. This has little to do with weight-loss, although I could definitely tell you about how greatful I was to be 80 lbs lighter at the beach! (and consequently tell you about the 10 lbs jump in my scale this morning, but from the edema in my feet, I can tell you that would be from sodium ingestion and sunburn) While writing about Hunter, I wanted to share with you what he taught me and what I learned on my own about camping on the beach.

Now keep in mind--I'm a MASTER camper. On the banks of the lakes of Nebraska I can survive in a multiple of weather conditions from being so cold you're in thermals and thermal sleeping bag (never camped in the snow though, I hate snow and nothing would make me purposefully spend all day and night in it!). I can start a fire with nothing but matches and what I find around me and then cook a meal on that fire that would knock your socks off, I can put up a tent without assistance, I can potty in the woods. And I can sleep on the hard dirt ground for an entire weekend and wake up feeling refreshed. I can camp. Thanks to my mother, Gayle Roberts and the girlscouts, I can survive in the wilderness for a weekend, but I myself have NEVER camped on the beach, and I was bringing with me my 3 kids, Mini Me (6), Baby Girl (4) and Little Man (3) and my 16 year old sister, who also had never camped on the beach before. The 5 of us were one family of a two family beach trip. The other family was staying in a camper in Aransas Pass. Going into this I did a lot of research online and got a general idea of what to expect from camping on the beach... ya, right.

OK, let me back up to Thursday afternoon. My plan was to leave as soon as I got my paycheck--so be on the road at 1ish depending on how long it took to deposit my check. Check came at 12:45 so I was more or less on schedule. It wasn't until after I got the van loaded and I was heading to pick up the kids from daycare I realize I can not find my debit card. I had switched purses around so I figured it was in my other purse, or fell out on my bed so I turn around and head back to the house. nothing. Checked at daycare because I knew I had it out there... nothing. Checked pockets of pants I had on (which were now packed in a bag at the bottom of the trunk)... nothing. Checked my seat in van, etc. So I got kids and went to bank. We're sitting at the bank for over 30 minutes waiting for a banker so I could cancel my card, get cash and get a temporary ATM card (after already looking for almost an hour for my card). While I'm sitting there, Little man all of a sudden gets excited, jumps up, grabs something from his pocket and hands it to me exclaiming, "Look mommy, I found your card at the daycare and picked it up for you!" I had dropped it that morning and since Wells Fargo lets you put your photo on your debit card, it is something Bajung would recognize and know immediately was mine. My hero! These master search and find skills came in handy later when he found my sister's phone buried on the beach. There was some speculation on whether or not Little man himself had been the one who buried Falon's phone, but I would like to argue on his behalf that there was another kid at the beach that day who is especially known for playing with phones and was caught red handed with several phones on the beach... just sayin'... he did find the phone and bring it back and I believe someone owes him $5. Ahem.

Alright, so the reason why this story was important was because it put us at the beach around dusk, we were losing light and losing it fast. Because of this, I picked the first spot that was A) by a shower, B) by a lifeguard stand, C) within vision of a portapotty and D) near a trash can. I wasn't being too picky, but I knew what to look for. We pulled the tent out and were looking through the box for the stakes when all of a sudden Brandon says, "Oh crap, I took them out at Christmas!" We had no stakes. Now, keep in mind--regular stakes just staked in the ground weren't going to work on the beach--I already was WELL aware of this. My intention was to do what is called a "Deadman's anchor". This is where you tie the stakes to the tent using rope and bury them sideways into the sand deep enough that the sand offered enough resistance to prevent them from pulling up. This brings me to lesson number 1 about camping at the beach--BRING A SHOVEL. Seriously. I know, they take up a lot of space and so if you are packing a van and thinking about the tools you need you will try to talk yourself out of this item. Don't. Seriously. You will thank me for telling you this peice of advice. I promise. Now that you've bookmarked this page as "Number one rule of camping on the beach", let's move on.

So we're on the beach, we're losing sun, have no stakes and really just want to be at the point where we are sitting back with our Coronas and fantasizing that we are never going to leave this place (this fantasy is natural on day one... by day 4, you're fantasizing about showers.). Brandon and I are heading to the van so we can drive back into Port Aransas and find out where I can buy some beach stakes when a well weathered gentleman, Hunter, walks by, holds his beer up and greets us. I say hi back and chuckle that we have to go buy some stakes. He immediately offers to help and tells us to meet him at his camp site. We get there and he had a frame from a canopy that someone discarded. He grabbed it out of the trash and put it aside to fix with other items he finds discarded on the beach. It turns out that Hunter and his lady, Cathy, live on the beach after being evicted. While he was pulling peices off of this canopy that was to him like finding gold, Hunter had made a remark to his wife about how he knew she hated when he helped other people out because they always just get bit in the end. I assured him that I was the right kind of person to help and I seemed to be the queen of good karma because I always end up getting a helping hand right at the time I needed it, and always paid it forward when I could. He told me he just does God's work. After Brandon, Hunter and I twisted and pulled the metal rods off of this canopy, he asked us, "You bring a hammer?" Lesson number 2 about camping at the beach, BRING A HAMMER. Ok, you *may* luck out and find a Hunter on your beach, but I promise you, this was a one in a million situation. And if you ever do find yourself camping on the beach--the tents without cars in front of them are probably local homeless people (AKA Beach Bums)--they are helpful and greatful for a beer and someone to chat with. Hunter handed Brandon a giant rock and said, "Here, your hands are going to blister, but this will work." By the way, my hand is still sore and I am pretty sure Brandon is going to end up with flesh eating bacteria from his blisters and cuts, so bring a hammer. Then hunter said, "Here, take this PVC pipe, you're going to need it, you got rope right?" This I had done right, but here's rule number 3 of camping on the beach (or really camping anywhere) BRING LOTS OF ROPE. Okay, now that you have your rope packed, add twice as much. I did this and still at one point found myself thinking, "I could have probably used one more thing of rope. I kind of like rope.

So we headed back to the camp site with Hunter and he helped us use giant peices of metal to stake down the tent. This is important, when camping on the beach--your stake needed to go down far enough that you literally CAN NOT pull them up by hand. I think the metal pieces we used were between 18-24 inches each and our tent wasn't going anywhere. Then he showed us the secret to successful camping on the beach. And this is rule number 4 of camping on the beach-ALWAYS USE A FRONT ANCHOR. This is where the PVC pipe and rope come in handy. During the day, the beach gets a nice cool breeze most of the time (unless is happens to be Sunday and we're trying to remove a tent) but at night that breeze turns into some hardy winds. (Which brings us to rule number 5-ALWAYS BRING LIP BALM WITH SUNSCREEN. Between the sunburn and the windburn my lips are on fire today.) So the front anchor is to pull the tent BACK towards the wind/shore. Otherwise at night your tent will blow over and since you have it staked in so well, you will break your frame. Basically take rope from the frames of the tent and anchor them both to one PVC pipe in a triangle shape. This will keep that seaward wall from collapsing. And in case anyone was wondering--you face the door AWAY from the ocean, otherwise the sand will blow into your tent. Thank you God for sending us Hunter! (ps--make sure you flag your anchors, or people could trip on them and that would suck!)

While we were putting up the tent, I asked Hunter what the sign meant when it said "Contained Fires only". He explained to us that you have to dig at least 2 foot down and build a wall against the wind coming from the beach. After getting the tent up, it was well past dark, which brings me to rule number six BRING A PROPANE LANTERN. The beach is dark at night; you'll want a lantern. We were already covered in sand, it was dark, and there was no way we were going to dig a fire pit yet that evening. I was kind of feeling like a camping failure. But later, when I sat there feeling the breeze,watching the waves and digging my feet into the sand, I already wanted to stay there forever.

Speaking of digging your feet into the sand here's rule number seven of camping on the beach, SAND. Yeah, I know that's not a rule in and of itself, but these are my rules and if I want to make "Sand" it's own rule I will. When camping on the beach you will be in a never ending battle against sand. It will be on your skin, in your food and COVERING your kids. Avoid it from getting into your tent AT ALL COSTS. This means you will need a foot bucket. I intentionally packed the beach toys in a rubbermaid bucket and just dumped them out for the kids to play with, that way the bucket could be used for feet. Unfortunatelly, I did not think to bring a second bucket for hands... and with my age group of kids, it became the swimming bucket as well.

In hindsight I would have probably brought more rubbermaid buckets. One for your kitchen items that has a lid, one for your towels that has a lid and then at least 2, 1 for hand, 1 for foot, if you have small kids you'll want another one dedicated to "play". Where we were actually located was about a football feild's length from the shore. This was both good and bad. On the one hand, I didn't worry about a kid wandering into the ocean. They were able to run around a very large area of beach pretty freely and not be at risk of drowning. This was also a problem though because it meant a further walk to "rinse off" the sand (which by the way it only sort of soothing, hence the location near the showers) and also meant that they couldn't easily get water to make sand castles up by where the tent was. Because of this, I spent a FORTUNE on water (it was difficult to keep the kids from using drinking water in the sand) and had a bucket of water that was really hard to keep clean enough to wash hands off in.

Which brings us to rule number eight of camping on the beach, WATER. Water probably should have been rule number 3 because it's right up there with the shovel and the hammer. I know you'd think that water would be before the tools since it's part of the 2 basics that our bodies need for survival, but trust me on the tools. Water is important because you A) are in some pretty brutal elements and will need to remain constantly hydrated and B) because you will be eating a lot of sand without it. Cooking on the beach was a lot of fun, but it was also stressful because one misstep and you had a meal you couldn't eat. When I prepared food I would do everything I could to keep the sand off everything. The minute you can feel grit on your fingers, you have to rinse them again and dry them with a new hand towel. This brings me to rule number 9 of camping on the beach. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY TOWELS. Remember that once a towel gets sand in it, it will feel disgusting to rub on your skin and will be worthless for drying your hands to cook. When I cooked I had one towel for wiping things off with and another for wiping my hands with. The hand wiping one was kept away from blowing wind. This is important. If your hand is gritty at all--you're getting sand in your food and this sucks, bad. When I cooked I tried to have a seperate hand bucket close to where I was at so I could continue to dip my hands to remove sand. It would never fail that I would be just about to pick up food and Little Man would come up and brush against my hand. So not only do you need to remember that you will need at least a gallon per person of water to drink a day, you'll need lots of water for keeping yourself clean.

The best part of camping on the beach is the morning. There's a time between sun rise and 11 am where it feels as if this is your own little peice of paradise. The only people out are other campers, occasional runners and the cleaning crew. Friday morning I woke up to Mini Me unzipping all of the windows of the tent because she couldn't wait to see the ocean. To be honest with you, neither could I. So we ran out and started enjoying the beach. The kids swam twice before breakfast was even ready. Two thoughts came into my mind while I was making breakfast. One-Shade and two-fire pit. Both of these needed to be taken care of before the sun got too brutal to bare. The fire pit was a priority, because we needed to build it while it was still cool so we didn't melt digging in the heat.

We happened to pick a spot that was close enough to a preexisting hole that wasn't completely filled in yet that we could use it to start. We got the kids out with their buckets and started digging down two feet (remember what I said about having a shovel, yeah, this is where that's important). The night before my sister and I had decide to build a sand castle on the wind wall for the fire pit, this turned the building of the fire pit into a fun activity for everyone--and ended up cool enough that we even got a word of approval from Hunter. This wall also made a barrier between the fire and the kids when it came time for S'Mores. Rule number ten of camping on the beach BRING A PROPANE STOVE. The fire pit was amazing. But cooking on it sucked. The hotdogs ended up covered in sand and the S'mores were even difficult to enjoy--and that says a lot coming from the queen of S'mores. You know why they call them S'mores right? Because when you're done you say, "Mmm, I want S'more." Having a fire by the beach is an amazing experience though, so be sure to take the time to make it, just don't expect it to make your meals unless you were a Marine or something.

Rule number 11 of camping on the beach, MAKE SURE YOU MAKE SHADE. During the worst part of the day is when the sun is directly above you. That means you have no shade from your vehicle or your tent. If you're going to be on the beach, you will need shade. I had thought of this ahead of time and simply bought a 10 x 20 tarp and brought lots of rope (see rule number three). Before the trip I had an idea of using the side of the van and the tent frame to make shade. While it worked wonderfully, there were a few things I could have done to make it work better and I am going to price out my idea versus buying a premade canopy. Keep in mind that while the daytime wind isn't too bad for a premade canopy but, the night time wind would be awful so you should either make sure it's really well anchored or bring it up in the morning and down at night. My idea would be to create a canapy using PVC pipes and a tarp, doing pretty much what I did this time covering the tent and providing a "porch" to sit under. This would be slightly harder to construct at a campsite than a premade canapy, but I believe it would be incredibly sturdy so you wouldn't be messing with it all weekend long. The tarp I had was 10X20 and covered the tent and gave a nice sized sitting area. I used these really cool bungee ties I found at walmart that allowed me to anchor it to my van and remove it easily to take up and bring down. It worked really well, but made me really need a good reason to take off in the van. Plus, it ended up making my van doors stay open way too much which means my interior will probably never be sand free again and my battery kept dying from kids turning lights on that ended up being on all day. That tarp was a lifesource for me during the day when the sun was beating down. I even put it back up after taking it down Sunday when we ended up staying longer than we expected. The biggest downside of hooking it up the way I did was that on the last day, when my back was sunburned, it sucked to have my back rub on the tarp when I was coming in and out of it, so it definitely needs to be higher off the ground next time.

Rule number 12 of camping on the beach, SUNSCREEN. This should go without saying, but sunscreen is necessary on the beach. You will burn. But you can control how much you burn. I went through THREE things of sunscreen in 3 days. Bring extra. The best thing to do before applying sunscreen is to go hop in the shower first. Rubbing sunscreen into sand and salt sucks. Once you're already sunburned, it sucks more. Be sure to spend a little time in the early morning in the sun without sunscreen on, there are studies that Vitamin D is absorbed better without the sunscreen, so do it when the sun is still softer and not so harsh and but don't under estimate what being in the sun 18 hours a day will do to your body. Once you get a burn, the sun actually hurts so make sure you keep that sunscreen handy and use it frequently! I actually brought the rub in stuff and the spray stuff. I found that the rub in kind was great for getting a good layer all over right after taking a shower so I was relatively sand free. I think the rub in kind works better then the spray kind, but once the kids are covered in sand and you're trying to reapply, the spray kind is awfully handy. I also brought a hat and umbrella (which died in the wind but still covered my face and shoulders when watching the kids play). I also went through a bottle of Miracle Mist Plus. Once I started to burn, I started to spray myself frequently with the spray to relieve the pain and replenish my skin. I am greatful today that I was so deligent. I just spent three full days in the sun and managed to sleep through the night without the pain of the covers rubbing my skin keeping me awake.

Rule number 13 of camping on the beach, STAY OUT OF THE TENT. The tent is for sleeping and dressing only. As soon as a child was awake, they were stripped down and put into their swimsuit. We each had a sundress and Little man had a tshirt in the car that we could thrown on if needed. This way there was no reason to go into the tent during the day. Entrance into the tent was only done after sand free. Remember when I said I found a place close to the showers? This is rule number 13a. At the end of the day, everyone was showered. If you have a place near pay showers you can do a complete shower, if not, don't worry about getting agressive with your sand removal, everyone does it. After showers, we walked to the tent. I had the footbucket right next to the tent. If anyone stepped into the tent, they had to step into the bucket first and then onto a towel I left immediately on the inside of the tent. (Next time I am going to bring my welcome mat to put on the outside as well.) I brought three swimsuits and just changed into the dry one in the tent after my end of the day shower and slept in it. I changed kids in the car, then carried them to the foot bucket, dipped them in and handed them to my sister who dried their feet and put them to bed. This worked relatively well, until my sister decided to hang out with her new friends too late and crawled into the tent covered in sand! She swept it all out the next day, so I guess she made up for it, but waking up with sandy feet in my sunburned back was not pleasant.

Camping on the beach was amazing, yet at the same time, it made me appreciate showers and soft sand free beds even more! The highlight of my trip was when I folded up our tarp, the rope, the cool bungey ties, two large piles of firewood that I had bought and all of the stakes and supplies Hunter lent us (except for the rock he lent us, I found it when we got back home and was dissapointed that I robbed him of one of his most important tools) and tucked them under the bench at his and Cathy's home on the beach with a note thanking him for doing "God's work" as he humbly told us was all he did that night be stumbled upon us. As we headed to the pay showers I saw him read the thank you note I left him, and as we left town, we saw him piecing together the canopy frame he found and let us pull apart and using the 10X20 tarp I gave him was going to provide his lady and himself some well needed shade. Thank you Lord for Hunter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Earning my Stripes

Isn’t it funny how we can get all wrapped up in little things and forget the big picture? I’m sure I’m not alone here.

A couple months ago I stepped on the scale, did the math and got excited that I had lost 80 lbs. Then, when I took my shoes off and did the math again, I realized I was wrong. I was at 70 lbs. (yeah, my math skills really are that bad) That 10 lb difference did something to my head. It made me go from complete elation to a feeling of defeat. I couldn’t concentrate on the fact that I had ALREADY LOST 70 LBS, all I could think of was that 10 lbs I had not yet lost, but for one morning, thought I had.

I can’t tell you why this affected me the way it did, but it made me feel defeated. And since that point, I have been watching the scale slowly work it’s way towards the 80 lb mark… even putting a couple of those pounds back on again. Then, earlier this month I decided enough was enough and I was going to reach that 80 lbs by the end of the month. Period.

This morning, I stepped on the scale and officially hit the 80 lb mark.

There’s several reasons why this point was important to me—mainly because it’s the half way point. My goal has always been to lose 160 lbs from where I started. I probably have another 30-40 or so to lose after that, but I’m going to let me body decide what a good weight is for my frame once I get over the 160 lb mark. So my focus has always been on 160 lbs. I’ve taken it in small increments, 10 lbs, sometimes 5 lbs at a time so that I don’t get deflated. But that 80 lb milestone has always struck me as the big one.

It means half the work is done… ok, it means half of the weight is lost-anyone who has lost a lot of weight or done any reading of blogs of people who have lost a lot of weight know that the last 20-30 lbs gets to be the toughest. I’m prepared for that. I’m ready for that. I know what to anticipate.

What I didn’t expect to happen was to look in the mirror this morning and think to myself, “This is what losing 80 lbs looks like?” It’s not that I don’t know deep inside myself that I have accomplished something big—but I look at my reflection and all I see is a fat woman. I don’t remember what my body looked like 80 lbs ago, and I can’t “See” a difference. This is probably because I didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking at myself in the mirror back then. But, also, because I do remember what my body looked like the last time I was at this weight… and it wasn’t what I saw this morning.

This morning I saw the evidence of three babies and a whole lot of extra weight pulling on my skin, making it sag and leaving cellulite and stretch marks. The last time I was this weight I was in my 20s and although still a big girl, I wasn’t ashamed of what reflected back to me. I liked the way my hips curved and the roundness of my breasts. Now I just see what happens after you breastfeed three children and the stomach of a woman who carried a 10 lb 1 oz baby (don’t you dare forget that 1 oz, because I never have).

I once saw a picture that showed a woman’s belly—she obviously had given birth from the stretch marks that made their roadway across her belly. Below the picture it said something along the lines of not being ashamed because they weren’t stretch marks, she was a tiger who earned her stripes.

A tiger huh? Could I look at my reflection and see a tiger? One day will I be able to look at my body and see how far I’ve come instead of only how far I need to go?

I’m sure I will. Every once in awhile I get a glimpse—a muscle showing in my arm that I didn’t see before, a pair of pants that were once tight and no longer are, a cheekbone that shows up in a picture… Step by step I will uncover the tiger within. And until then, I will celebrate the milestone that I may not SEE in my reflection, but I can FEEL in my heart.

Here’s to 80 lbs!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Live It

Strangely, I sat down to write about getting a new tattoo from my sister and her boyfriend as an early birthday present and ended up writing the previous post about my Chiropractor... my mind just works that way sometimes.

So my beautiful sister and her man are part owners of Billy Cannon's Smoke and Ink on William Cannon at the Marketplace. Sean is truly an artist. I said I wanted "Live It" written on my wrist in a feminine cursive font. He hand drew it out in a few minutes and took around 15-30 minutes to actually complete the tat. He got exactly what I was envisioning without me so much as pointing at a picture in a book.

As a matter of fact, the only books in his shop are of his work, no posters of chinese font and tribal designs on the wall. Although, I'm sure if you want a tattoo of a longhorn on your bicep to show the world how you bleed UT orange, he would be more than happy to humor you with cliche. By the way, I say this while admitting I have a Chinese symbol on my neck and a "tramp stamp", so I know cliche. Luckily I have been told by someone who claimed to read mandarin that it means "loving life", which isn't too far off from "passion" which is what I thought it meant. Regardless, I'm glad it doesn't actually mean "dog moon cheese" or something else ridiculous.

Instead of the normal walls of cookie-cutter tattoo's, they have some pretty cool local artwork. Including a painting of the freaky clown guy from Night of a Thousand Corpses that if so dead on I keep the creeps sitting too close to it.
Billy Cannons is split into three sections including a smoke shop, tattoo shop and a small cafe type area with a stage where they host open mics every Monday night. It's very South Austin and way to hip for this momma, seriously, when did I get so old? Check it out if you need some ink or just feel the need to rip some chords on some random Monday night.

My tattoo today is probably the most meaningful of all of the ones I've gotten so far. Over the last couple of years I have found a dream, a goal, a mission, a vague vision and a whole lot of commitments. In order to fulfill any of these things I figured I needed a motto. "Live It" is a daily reminder to live my mission, to be the best me every day, and to live the commission. I can't think of a better way to open the door to being able to show someone unconditional love, can you?

Getting to the Bones of the Matter

I haven't talked about my chiropractor much other than to refer to him as "The Hot Chiropractor" on facebook, but this man is amazing. I have never met a doctor who cares this much about his patients.

He met with me during the initial visits and really got to know me and my situation--from my weight concerns to my financial concerns.

I am an uninsured, single mom, living below the poverty level, extremely in debt and sometimes barely holding on from bill to bill.

He and I set up a billing plan for ongoing care with a barter system. I ended up not being able to afford the bill, so he worked out another, lower, billing plan, that I was then easily able to handle in exchange for my care. He even makes a same day appointment when I need something adjusted right away.

On top of that, he is one of the sponsors in my weight-loss goals this year! If that's not cool, I don't know what is.

Let me explain to you why this is so important to me. Like I said, I'm uninsured. That means if I get sick or injured, the cost of that expense comes out of my pocket, or gets added to my credit--because sometimes, a single mom just can't pay a $14000 hospital bill because I got early pnuemonia and a kidney infection at the same time.

I have had off and on again pain in my right shoulder since my middle daughter was born. I would wear "Baby Girl" in a shoulder sling carrier 24/7. My oldest daughter, "Mini Me" was 22 months at the time. I was also the child care provider for one of my friend's kids full-time and occasionally had several others as well as worked in the church nursery. The sling allowed me to have my hands free to keep her out of everything, but put stress on my right shoulder. Later, when I first started my weightloss journey, I injured myself on a machine at the gym. What could have been a minor issue went untreated for almost a year until I started to see my chiropractor. Then, on top of that, my son jumped on me at the swimming pool once and knocked my clavicle out of joint last summer. If that isn't bad enough, I sleep on that arm very strangely at night, using it to hold to pillow against my head-this all causes the joint to occasionally slip out on it's own now and then. In most cases this kind of AC issues would need some rehab--well, I don't have money for rehab, but I do have a great chiropractor and an awesome trainer (who also works with me on a barter system) so I can get my shoulder strong and continue building those muscles as I continue to lose weight.

See, here's the thing about being obese, your bones have to migrate in order for your skeleton to hold your frame. Knee caps rotate slowly over time, muscles compensate, your entire skeletal frame gets off. Then, as you lose weight--at a MUCH more rapid rate than what you gained it, your frame needs to go back into place. For someone who already has the kinds of knee problems I have, joint concerns are big for me.

In our intial appointments, Dr. Drake and I discussed my concerns about preventing injury while I lose weight, and he has been incredibly helpful of keeping me from hurting myself throughout the process. His services include offering exercise suggestions and occasionally has patient events where he goes over health and nutrition information.

Since I have started seeing Dr. Drake I no longer have a chronic pain in my foot that I thought was the early sign of buritis--at 32 years old!! I also have noticed a reduction in shoulder pain, neck spasms and misalignments--which consequently get immediate care for them when they happen instead of just waiting for it to "work itself out". I have become much more aware of my skeletal structure, posture and frame, especially when exercising--this alone I'm sure has prevented injuries. I even go see Dr. Drake if I have a sinus infection or cold (although I keep most of those away with a netti pot, but that's a whole other blog topic I could get into).

Seriously, if you are in the Austin area and need a chiropractor, or know someone who does, send them to Drake Chiropractic of Austin. The Dr.'s over there are great and the receptionist Katherine is amazing! She keeps my children away while I get to relax in the adjustment room. I'm sure you can imagine with three very active children between the ages of 6 and 3 having that few moments of peace helps with my over all health as well. All of Dr. Drake's office staff are great, and you can tell they are genuinely happy to work with him and his wife. Plus, they're all pretty hot.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This is No Ordinary Love

I know this blog is “supposed” to be about my weight-loss journey, however today I’m going to stray a bit from that central topic to the broader topic of generally bettering myself. It’s my blog, I can do that.

This last weekend was another “Discovery Weekend”. For those that are not familiar with Discovery, you can read a bit about it here. The best way I can sum it up is to say it’s life changing--and quite possibly, one of the best things that has ever happened to me. The things I purged from my life and the dreams I have been able to recapture the last three months have been amazing.

The final seminar, Discovery 3, is about creating a mission. Going into missions I was certain that my Mission was going to be about helping others struggling with weight-loss. Surprisingly, my mission took a turn that at the time surprised me, but today, after reflecting on the matter, makes so much sense.

I haven’t talked very much about my marriage. Mainly, that’s because I hesitate to say anything bad about my ex. Regardless of what kind of man I experience him as, he is the father of my children—and they love him wildly. I am hopeful that he becomes the man he needs to be to deserve their love, but in the meantime, I do my best to shelter them from the mirage. I also want to be careful not to demonize him because I understand that everyone has their own baggage that they carry, and he did have a background that is worse than some of the scariest nightmares I have had.

The reality though is that he did not value me in our marriage. But then again, I didn’t value myself much either. As I have grown, I recognize that I had a responsibility to value myself in such a way that it would weed out any man that did not have honorable intentions for me.

As I have learned to value myself, an amazing thing happened. I fell in love with a wonderful man. His love has been the most incredible feeling ever. Right up there with the love I feel from my God and from my children. You know, that unconditional, “I love you just because you are you”, feel it deep inside your body and soul until you feel like you’re going to explode into a million butterflies of joy—yeah, that kind of love.

Recently, a couple of my girlfriends have been having boy-problems and I find myself getting more and more frustrated with their situations. Because I used to settle for the same drama-filled relationships in the past, I can empathize with why they find themselves continuing to get dragged back in. But because I know how love is supposed to feel now, I find myself getting angry at the way they are allowing themselves to be treated.

So, like I mentioned, this weekend, I had Discovery 3. And next weekend I am moving. When you are a single mother and you have to move, that leaves the responsibility of the world on your shoulders. Not only do I need to wash the laundry, clean up cheerios off the floors, clean and feed my kids, now I have to some how find the time to pack all of my belongings… (and I didn’t have last weekend to do it because I felt it was important to keep my commitment to attend Discovery 3).

The reality of the situation though, is that even when I was married, all of these responsibilities were on me. In fact, 6 months before I finally left my husband, we had moved from an apartment to a duplex. That move was one of the most difficult of my life. I was working, taking care of my house, my kids and my husband. And he was... well, sleeping or out with his friends. I can honestly say that he did not pack a single box. And on moving day, half of my home was not finished being packed because I just couldn’t get to it all. After he and our friend carried our belongings onto the truck, there were still two van loads worth of belongings that I had to come back for later—with three kids in tow.

Saturday of Discovery, my boyfriend offered to watch my children for me. Saturday night, I came home from Discovery to find my living room full of boxes and my children and my boyfriend passed out-exhausted. He had spent the entire day packing my home for me!

Standing in the doorway, looking at my sweet, exhausted, sleeping family, I realized my mission in life is to share this love with others. So with my class the next day I put that feeling to words:

My mission is to help women I meet learn their value and self-worth in their relationships by sharing my testimony and love.

Of course a mission is nothing without a plan of action. And in the conference room at the Hilton this weekend, I thought I had a clue about how I could best live out my mission. But this morning, I realized that I have been living my mission since the moment I realized I needed to leave my husband—I just didn’t know it.

I can tell you the moment I decided to leave my husband. I was watching an interview of some football player’s ex-wife. I don’t know who she is or who he is, but I remember clearly what she said when asked why she chose to leave her husband. She said, “I thought about how I would feel if my girls ended up in a marriage like mine, and I realized I needed to give them a better model of what marriage should be like.” That was it for me. It broke my heart to think about my girls married to a man like their father—a man who is a combination of my father and step-father. It broke my heart even more to think of my son becoming that man. I knew that if I couldn’t be in a healthy relationship for myself, I had to do it for them. And so I left. Now it wasn’t overnight, it took months to get the courage to put action to what my heart was saying—but that was the moment the decision was made in my heart. And that was the moment that I promised myself that any man that would be in mine and my children’s lives needed to be worthy of their love and a role-model for them to look up to. Somewhere along the way, I recognized that I deserved that man as well. And gratefully, God has guided him into our lives.

And so my mission, which started with wanting to protect my own beautiful daughters’ hearts, extended to a desire to show my girlfriends that they are worthy of a healthy love, has now become a purpose for my life.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

HEB Slim Down Showdown

Alright, this is my oficial entry video for the HEB Slim Down Showdown.

Monday, February 27, 2012

My 400 Mile Weekend

Over the weekend I put about 400 miles on my vehicle. I literally went from one activity to another starting the moment I got off work Friday until Sunday evening without stopping. Then I slept. For 13 hours. And it was glorious.

When I wasn't actually driving, I spent most of the weekend focused on the details of a tight schedule and keeping track of three small children--the youngest of which ended the weekend wearing his sister's shirt, a pull-up and his tennis shoes, with socks pulled to his knees--yeah, it was that kind of weekend. The times I wasn't taking kids to the bathroom, looking at maps and watching my clock, I spent thoroughly enjoying my time.

I was able to squeeze in dinner with my dad, a bachelorette party, the Special Olympics (congrats to the Texas School for the Deaf, the 3-on-3 Basketball Champions), a few moments hanging with my sister, a birthday BBQ, church, a picnic lunch at the park with some church family and even had time to make my video entry for the HEB Slim Down Showdown.

Up until this point I have been hesitant to mention the HEB Slimdown Show Down for a couple of reasons. Mostly because I am really selfish and didn't want all 2 people who read this blog applying to be a contestant. Well, ok, that wasn't the real reason. The real reason is because I'm afraid to dream.

Perhaps I'm not alone here. There are dreamers out there who make a picture of what they want for their lives and they go after it. I admire those people. Then there are dreamers out there that have this foggy idea of where they want to go with their lives and sometimes think they have what it takes to get there, but in the end decide they'll never make it and so they stop and go back to what they have always done. Anyone relate to that kind of dreamer? Yeah, me neither.

I have a little smiley face stress ball that fits in the palm of my hand that reminds me to dream. In a house with three young children, it's always fascinating where I end up finding that yellow ball. Saturday morning I rescued it from Hanabanana, our hamster. One of the kids decided she would enjoy playing with the smiley face ball and put it in the hamster's cage. Luckily the bright yellow really catches my eye and so I was able to pull it out before poor Hanabanana had tiny pieces of foam embedded in her teeny little intestines. Hamsters have intestines, right?

When I retrieved the ball from the cage I told the kids, "You almost fed my dreams to the hamster". Perhaps I should explain to them why the little yellow ball represents my dreams, as I should probably explain it to you, the reader, but really, I prefer to just let you think I'm slightly imbalanced. It makes it make more sense when I need to talk to myself in the corner for a bit.

Now that I've taken this blog entry through as many turns as my road map has this weekend, I'll get back to the point.

This weekend I managed to be everywhere I needed to be, with some minor missteps along the way. I followed my plan, stayed busy and yet somehow managed to remind myself to enjoy myself along the way. That's the same attitude I need to have with my dreams. There has to be a set path to follow, a direction I want to take and a road map to get there. As I make my way along the path I may come across a few mishaps along the way (Like a son who decides to nose dive into the creek on a chilly day) and so the plans may need to be altered to accommodate these mishaps. In the end though, I need to be able to look back and recognize that I worked hard, accomplished what I set out to do and enjoy myself along the path. Otherwise, why am I doing it?

So, today I'm announcing a dream. I have a dream to finally be fit and not be carrying around all of the extra weight that has been holding me back for so long. As I accomplish that dream, I want to inspire others to accomplish their health goals. I want to show that you can do it as a broke single mom with no time, energy and money. As part of that weight loss story, I want to participate in the HEB Slimdown Showdown.

I, along with my dear friend Kristin, made my application video yesterday (with my half naked son in the background!) and I will be mailing it off hopefully tomorrow. (We're experiencing one of those mishaps--we can't get the file to upload on the computer, eek!) I should hear back sometime in April or May if I am a contestant. Please keep me in your prayers and thoughts as the selection board receives and reviews my application.

Please also go to the bottom right hand corner of this blog entry and subscribe to my blog. Part of the Heb Slimdown Showdown is being able to show that people like what you have to say about weight loss, I'd love to show them I already come with a following!

And in the meanwhile, I'm continuing on my journey, mapping my path and putting one foot in front of the other.