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My mother

I will always say that I am grateful for the experience of participating in Extreme Weight Loss.  Jason and I had the opportunity to work and become friends with Chris and Heidi Powell—and they are amazing people.  We both met other fantastic people through the cast and members of production—some of which we are good friends with today.  For every negative and frustrating moment, there are many more positive ones.

But production, is production.  They have a limited amount of time to tell a story that captures the audience and hits home with them.  They also choose which story they want to share.  Jason and I were the first couple ever chosen on Extreme Weight Loss and that is the route they went, focusing on us as a couple.  It wasn’t the wrong way to do it—it was just ONE way to do it.

But that’s not the story I wanted to tell.

I wanted to talk about my mother.

I thought about never sharing this information, but it really isn’t secret.  Anyone close to me knows this information.  It got me to thinking that anyone who watched and enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) just saw me in a certain light.  I had no problems other than being overweight (or so it appeared).

There is so much more.

Part of my reason for doing the show was yes, obviously, to lose weight.  But it is amazing to inspire other people.  The more and more I thought about it, so many people do not know my real story.

I spoke on that stage on our final reveal day for about ten minutes about my mother. About the kind of mother I wanted to be because of her.  How much I loved her and how much my children meant to me.  A culmination of all the moments I had already shared on camera about my mother.  Moments that I hoped would make it to air time, but never did.  With the exception of the people in the audience that day, no one heard a word about my mother.  But I wanted everyone to know.

So I am going to share.  I feel that I went through some very unique experiences and came out on the other side a better person.  A better mother.  A better wife.  A better friend.

If even one person can take away hope from hearing about my story, then that is okay by me.

An oldie, taken in 1970 something, of my mother.

An oldie, taken in 1970 something, of my mother.

Part IV–Eat The Food

 

HealthyLifestyle

For the last and final part of this series, this is how we bring it all together. If you remember from previous writings, I am a visual thinker. I learn better from doing rather than reading. What you see above is what is technically called a Mind Map. Its usually used in a brainstorming activity. I’m using it a bit differently than that. This is what my picture of balance looks like. Yours may look very different. I know this looks very complex or a lot, but its really not. If you look at other so called “diet” programs they only look at the food or the exercise. But you can see it so much more than that. Which is why I decided to use this format. You could even include so much more than the above diagram even shows. But that’s a lot to get better at before I add more. I would love to hear what your mind map would look like. What is on yours that isn’t on mine?

There is this great philosophy / practice group on Facebook I follow called “Eat the Food” or ETF. I’m not going to do it justice but here goes.  The basic principal or so I gather is to quit beating yourself up for your food choices. Stop the pressure of dieting and break the negativity cycle. I know this sounds crazy simple, but its really not. Its very difficult to undo years or lifetimes of bad relationships with food and ideals. For example, I was out of town and I ordered a Crème Brule. I love the caramelized sugar on top. Well of course, someone who recognized me, kept staring and finally came up to me after and asked if everything was OK. She was clearly concerned with my food choices. Well would you ask that if you knew that I was counting that in my calorie intake for the day, did an extra 30 min in the gym, I had been waiting all week to reward myself with this one treat? Of course not. Now at the time none of that was the case, but I was trying to work on just being ok with my decision. I wanted to eat it. I loved the taste of it. I knew the dairy would make me bloat a bit for a day or so, and I wanted to just enjoy something. However my exercise of trying to be guilt free about a food choice was wrecked by someone who had no idea what they are talking about. Not caring and just enjoying your food by not being a victim of it is part of just eating the food.

image

Its all about balance. Not moderation! Moderation is limiting. Balance is just right. I had a very good week this week. Your positive encouragement has been a large factor. But I also got two great workouts in at @McHughAthletics, and was down about 5 pounds in 6 days. That feels so good but drove my eating habits again the wrong way. Granted most of it was sodium and water reduction. But I admit I ate a lot less the last two days because I was having success. Its just as easy to not eat anything than it is to eat too much. Balance. Now I am trying to make sure I get my calories in today.

You may ask too why I decided to limit myself to things like no caffeine, no wheat, no dairy and low sodium. A couple reasons. I love coffee but hate what happened after I missed a cup. The headaches were debilitating. I don’t care what anyone says, I get some of my water from decaf coffee. I love coffee. Hate the caffeine. As for wheat, I may or may not be gluten intolerant. All I know is that when I eat something with wheat my abdomen measurable bloats. Sometimes almost 6 full inches. It makes me hate myself, therefore I don’t do it. Sodium is the worst one. When you lose a lot of weight you have a lot of extra skin. Fat cells don’t go away, they just deflate. However they love to fill back up with water. When I have way too much sodium I bloat so much that sometimes clothes don’t fit. Plus again that restarts the cycle and I hate myself that much more. Dairy is sort of the same thing. I have some bouts of lactose intolerance, however cheese is one of the highest sodium and calorie things out there. See previous point about sodium. Smile Albeit wheat, sodium or dairy the bloat will go down but it gets worse before it gets better. It takes an upping of your water and extra hydration to get your body to normalize, thus causing water bloat on top of it. Therefore I just don’t do it. I don’t eat fast food, havent since I turned 30 which was several years ago. I will take part in wheat, dairy or sodium as long as I am choosing to do so knowing full well the consequences. There are some foods that are worth a few days of torture as long as you are aware. Food is just that…..food. Its not good or bad. Think of food like guns. Guns by themselves are harmless they cant shoot themselves. But they can be used for good or bad, enjoyment (sport) or harm.

Before I wrap things up I had an idea while writing this. So many people have told me they can relate. Which I appreciate more than you know. But so many of you are so much better than me at your balance and keeping it off and should be celebrated for it. Now I can’t help you get on some reality weight loss TV show. After the Biggest Loser finale fiasco and some of the truths coming out of it, you may not want to. But I can help you be celebrated for your achievement and let you know your not alone either. I bought a domain name after that post called the www.downpoundclub.com I’m thinking we have categories like 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 200, etc.….when you click on that category you can either add yourself or see others who have lost that much weight. Maybe contact them if they so choose. I don’t know where it will go but I think I like the idea of it. (just give me some time to find a developer willing to donate some time Smile  )

As for me this has been a long therapeutic blog session. And yes I will do better to keep up here more because it has been so helpful. Thank all of you for your kind words, and letting me share. This kind of started out to stave off the reason if you see me out why I don’t look at svelte as you saw me at the end of the show. But I’m learning I don’t really need to do that. I’m learning a lot and sometimes faster than I can digest it. No pun intended. One of the things I learned from the man, Chris Powell, himself is – Action Conquers Fear. In the spirit of that here is a recent pic. Be gentle, I just jumped off the proverbial cliff.

Thanks again and keep in touch.

Jason

JasonPic

PS – That’s our new puppy Elsa. She is going to be HUGE. She’s only 16 weeks there. As for the facial hair, I’m trying it out. What do you think? Shave it or keep it? Smile

Part III–Spiritual Repairs

 

First off I’m sorry to disappoint if you thought this was going to be more of a “religious” post. I’m of the opinion everyone has a right to their own beliefs and I like to keep mine to myself. I admit spiritual may sound a bit misleading then, however it’s the best word I can think of to describe this part. So here we go….

I will admit to you that the physical repairs, I get it. Its hard but I get it. The mental repairs again, even harder, but tangible and I am beginning to understand it. This one is the strangest and most difficult for me. The reason being is it has to do with attitudes and what you say to yourself in your head. (Don’t deny it, we all talk to ourselves, some just have more voices than others.) Smile

One of my major “spiritual” struggles is to be more positive. You see I’m a planner by nature. I always plan for the worst that way you can never be disappointed. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism, maybe its just pure logic. Either way its tough to change. Its tough because its not tangible. I mean there isn’t some prescriptive guidance to fix it. Sure there are thousands of books on how to be more positive. But reading about it and doing it are two every different things. I’ll even go as far to say that I wouldn’t want to be one of those love everything, crazy positive people. But again its all about balance. My scale tends to shift to the not so positive side. I’m not excusing it. I just don’t classify it as negativity. But lets face it, whatever you call it, I end up looking like the glass is half empty guy.

How do you fix it? Well again something I’m learning is that negativity comes from being the victim or having a victim mentality. Now when I heard my therapist tell me I had a victim mentality – first I was angry, then I was shocked, then I began to disagree. I will never nor have I ever seen myself as a victim. I’m just not the type, If I don’t like something, or want to change something, I will. However come to find out that isn’t all encompassing. I’m not like that when it comes to weight, exercise, eating or those types of things in general. I asked my therapist to prove it. Yes, I’m that kind of client. I just don’t believe I have a victim mentality for those things. She told me I had already proved it. She had asked me a few questions for example: “How did I feel when: I got on the scale? ate something healthy? exercised?” and more I cant remember. She reminded me I said I felt frustrated, angry, like I “had to”. In other words – “powerless”. Damn it. I hate it when she’s right sometimes.

This is where it gets really hard and well a bit “fluffy”. She told me a story about a book where the main character survived a Nazi death camp during the holocaust. But not how you would think. The main character took the power back in the one place they couldn’t take it away from. The mind. The mind was freedom. Nobody can control your thought, feelings, attitudes. It’s the one thing nobody can touch but you. I know that is an extreme example and I warned you it was going to get a bit “fluffy” from here on out.

In other words I am acting like a victim when I say in my head, “I have to work out”, “I have to eat right”, “I have to fit in these clothes”, “I have to….”.  There is a big difference in those statements when you WANT to. “I want to eat healthy”, “I want to work out”, “I want to fit in these clothes”. I’m beginning to see its not so bad when in my head I can tell myself I want to do something instead of because I have to. Its mind boggling to me because I’m not like that in any other aspect in my life, except this one. The ultimate freedom is the ability to choose your feelings and attitude in any given circumstances.

I still hate the word victim. But for lack of a better term I get it. For me this is the hardest part. I don’t want to do something unless I think I am good or successful at it. I had figured that out once. But I didn’t know I had. When we were on the show there was a point for the last couple of months I was at my wits end and stressed to the max. I hit a major plateau. (You have no idea the pressure to lose a large a number as possible on those shows, for example the latest Biggest Loser “winner”) That pressure doesn’t come from Chris or Heidi either. They do everything they can do, to get you to not succumb to that pressure. But I digress….sometime during that plateau, I accepted my plight and let it all go. When I did the weight began to just fall off.

In our society we put so much pressure on ourselves to eat a certain way, look a certain way, etc. You can be happy at 400 pounds and extremely unhappy at 200 pounds. I’m living proof.  That’s because it has nothing to do with the weight, size of clothes, or even what you eat. Its not holding onto all the anxiety , stress and negativity. Its choosing to eat something good or bad. Its choosing to exercise hard core or go for a walk. Its choosing if there is something you want to change, choosing to change it. Not change it for someone else, but change it because you want to.

Of all my struggles this one is the most difficult. But this is the one only you can fix. You might be different, but for me this one thing is the difference between success and failure. Its not exercise, food, etc. If I don’t fix this, I don’t think I can be successful.

Back to my last post…last week was one my lowest points. I was out of control. Everything was out of control – eating, activity, pressure, anxiety etc. I had some very good weeks before then. I was talking to an expert, I was doing all the right things. But last week for a reason I don’t know yet, it all fell apart. Fiercely independent, wickedly smart and very driven are great attributes to have when your on a path to success. They are the absolute worst attributes when you fail. You don’t ask for help, you get frustrated because you should be able to figure this out and you put more and more pressure on yourself to right the ship.

I think I have a good idea of what I need want to do to make things better. Maybe you can relate, maybe you can’t, maybe you agree maybe you don’t. All of which is ok, because the biggest reason I am writing all this out is so that when I do fail again (and I will) I can read it to remind myself a few things.

Sorry this one was so long. But it really is the most important and difficult topic, well at least for me it is. Which brings me to our last part this week, Part IV……see you tomorrow.

Part II–Mental Repairs

Brain

Let me start by saying I really appreciate all the positive comments from you, it really has been helpful. I really do mean it when I say you out there really are the inspirations. (Which totally gave me an idea, but more on that later). Sure my last post came with a handful of haters but what doesn’t? If I didn’t sound appreciative of the opportunity I was given to be on the show, I apologize. I am, but I guess I don’t see something wrong with admitting that I should have done things different and talking about the struggles that right or wrong directly came from it. I really hope we aren’t a society who believes everything we see on TV. :) That being said…on to part II.

As you can see from the first post, I hired a personal trainer. I needed help fixing my fitness. I went to an expert. Don’t get me wrong, Chris will always be the best personal trainer I have ever worked with, but he is crazy busy! If there is one thing I have learned, its when you need help and have to ask, ask the best. I value my time, and I don’t want to waste it.

Which brings me to part II of this series. The worst part – mental. Comparatively the physical or fitness part is the easiest to fix. The second hardest is this one.

Here are some statements that may surprise you:

  • “I hate my body worse than when I was close to 400 pounds.”
  • “I have a borderline severe anxiety attack when forced to get on a scale that is not the one I have been using forever” (doctors love this one)
  • “I can’t even look at myself in the mirror”
  • “I can’t look at a picture of myself”

Someone actually said those things….Me. The amount of confidence degrading self loathing has been monumental. Those four statements barely skim the surface. On the outside you would NEVER be able to tell this. If you have been in a meeting with me, you definitely wouldn’t believe it. But alas its true.

So what do you do when it gets this convoluted? Go find an expert….

I went in search of a therapist. That is a lot harder than you think. I basically need someone who works with people with eating disorders. Yep that’s me now. Mr. Eating Disorder. or should I say Mr. Extreme Eating Disorder. If you ever take this route, make sure you have a first session before deciding on someone. The first therapist I met with told me she was an expert on eating disorders. Within the first 30 minutes of our first session and first time meeting me she was already telling me I needed Wellbutrin and Weight Watchers. She clearly didn’t get it, epic fail. The next one was via Skype (which I thought was brilliant with my travel schedule) however she told me I was depressed, needed a prescription and barely let me talk. Again this was within the first 30 minutes. The last one I tried was an epic fail only because he wanted me to fill out about 20 pages of background on myself then went straight to asking me those same questions. Then at the end of the session told me eating disorders wasn’t his main focus but that he could help me.

Until finally I found the Dr. I have now. She is amazing. She gets it. She is there to help, she understands what I am going through. She even told me that she can only help me so much. I really needed to get everything checked out by a medical doctor to make sure it wasn’t physical as well. Genius! This was the first time I could talk to someone that helped to solve these problem who knew how to communicate effectively and had a plan to fix it. After a few months of sessions I have learned quite a bit about myself.

I learned I am fiercely independent. Duh. But it always comes back to bite me because, hey! - I’m smart enough I should be able to figure it out myself. It usually doesn’t take that long for me to figure out something new, especially when its crazy technical and complicated. So its frustrating that this behavior which seems so simple is so tough to change or figure out. I also learned how I am dealing with stress. (By the way I am visual thinker, so analogies work best on me.) Think of a pot with a lid on it boiling on the stove. You’re the pot and the boiling water is your stress. When it gets too hot and starts to boil over, what do you do? You take the lid off. For some people when things get too stressed or too much is going on or for whatever reason they “take the lid off” by having a drink, yoga, cigarette, etc. I “take the lid off” by eating. It doesn’t always have to be bad food either. In all honesty there have been days where I have eaten perfectly clean and healthy. However its all moot when you eat 6 pears or 4 apples or 5 meal bars or in my case all of the above. Its not only quality its quantity no matter how healthy it is.

Lastly, the most important realization I had to come face to face with is that I am a food addict. Damn it!  I hate, hate, hate that label. Of course being a food addict is the best (or worst) kind of addict depending on how you look at it. Unlike booze, smoking, sex, drugs or even Yoga, food is acceptable anywhere and everywhere. You can hide in plain sight. (Although who would argue if Yoga pants were acceptable anywhere and everywhere Smile)  As an outsider I would think come on….who is addicted to food? I wouldn’t have put myself in that category. I mean I actually eat very clean, I haven’t had fast food in almost 8 years, and I love fruits and vegetables. So ok fine, I’m a food addict. I think more specifically I would even create a subcategory that I am a sugar addict. I’ve even joked that I would snort lines of sugar. Smile  Mmmmm….sugar is my drug of choice. Smile

mmm…sugar….ok ok….back on topic…..

I’ve been trying to do what my therapist suggests. For example, when I was travelling I usually stay at a Residence Inn (I’m already smart enough so I don’t need a Holiday Inn express. – jk) I usually stay there because they have a full kitchen and I can cook for myself rather than make choices and eat out. Sounds like a good plan right? Wrong. I was eating all this food, albeit super healthy, when I was stressed about the days next meeting, missing the fam or whatever. So she told me to eat out. Make better choices when I eat out and don’t bring anything back to the room. One bad meal is better than 15 healthy ones. Damn it, she’s good. That’s just an example of someone who is thinking about what help you and what YOU need.

To go back and explain the statements from above I made about myself, the amount of pressure I put on myself would turn coal into a diamond. Those statements I made sound strange to some, Im sure. But there is a whole new set of challenges when you lose that much weight in about 9 months. Where I come from, you don’t judge someone or something you don’t understand because you haven’t walked in their shoes. I’m not here to berate the show, whistleblow or whatever negative connotations some may be thinking. I don’t think I have any right to tell you how to be successful. There are so many varying factors, even between Rachel and I our problems with food  are very different. I do know I would be in a much better place knowing what I know now. Let me save the rest of that conversation for the last part. :)

I have been following this amazing group on Facebook that a good friend introduced me to. Its called Eat the Food….so simple. But it really is. Its this group of incredible people that are strong, proud and fighting their own perceptions and demons. Everything they post resonates with me. Which leads to the next part…

I have to admit I had a rough week last week, I fell and failed hard….which brings me to part III – Spiritual Repairs. See you tomorrow and thanks again for your support.

Part I – Feb 1st is my (New) New Year

Happy New Year 2013

Jason here. It has been a while since I have written anything of magnitude. I have written and re-written this blog post at least 15 times. But I have to honest, its been tough. I have even referred to it as a “dark time”. I’m sure many of you would ask or even wonder, “What the hell are you talking about?!??” You just lost all that weight and you were on TV, and I could go on and on.

Hind sight is 20/20 or so they say. First off let me address the elephant in the room. (Fighting everything in me to not include a self-deprecating joke). Yes I have gained weight back. Everyone after the show has gained weight back. Some more or less than others. Honestly that’s not the worst part. Let’s just say life is tough to adjust to after living so “extreme” for a year.  But I’m not going to point fingers (although I easily could) into some of the dark corners of making a reality show like ours. Only because there are so many good people that we met as part of the show. Also I don’t want to confuse Chris and Heidi as part of the problem. They are cast members just like we were. You could not ask for two nicer, more helpful people. If there is anyone who understands everything about living healthy, it’s Chris and Heidi. So maybe one day when I am feeling up to it I will delve into the depths of reality TV from a cast member perspective but out of respect for the few people in “production” that really are good people, I won’t.

As for me we have new traditions around here. New Years Day is always Jan 1. However for us February 1st is our New Years Day. That’s when I get my head on straight and realize the need to recover from the pre and post holidays. This year is different though. I need to fix many things. I have referred to myself as “broken” to those who know me well enough. Finding a balance has been a nightmare. I only know extreme’s. I know extremely unhealthy lifestyle and extremely healthy lifestyle. Trust me when I say both are bad. When I say broken I mean physically, mentally and spiritually. But enough of that. That again is for another blog post. I’m working on fixing things. Only took me 6 months to come around but here I am. So lets start with #1 of the big three.

Physical Repairs

I’m going to be honest. I hate working out. I’m one of those people who just doesn’t enjoy it. There is a big difference between working out and activity though. I enjoy flag football, hiking, swimming and even snow blowing as of late. (we have a big driveway) that don’t remind me of working out. Those are fun activities. However we don’t always have time for that in life. So unfortunately I have to work out. Which for me with my travel schedule and a very rough winter has been limited. Most of the time I am stuck in a hotel gym on a god awful treadmill. However with Feb 1 bringing a new year I signed up for a ton of sessions with a personal trainer.

Lucky for me we have a new Athletic Performance Center a few miles away. Sean McHugh and his wife Ashlee own the McHugh Athletic Performance Center. (https://www.facebook.com/MchughAthleticPerformanceCenter)

Sean McHugh is a retired College and NFL player (won a World Bowl and Super Bowl!). He played for the Lions for a short stint then went to play for the Steelers the year they won Super Bowl XLIII. Now he is also my personal trainer. You want to talk about intimidating. But he knows what he is doing and already has me figured out. We had our first workout on Monday and here is what it looked like:

1 Minute of work 30 seconds of rest with 3 rounds and a two minute break between rounds:

  • Dumbbell curl then press then squat to burpee
  • Walking Lunges with weight overhead
  • Chest press with legs off the ground
  • Arms raised switch jumping lunges
  • Yoga Ball shoulder presses
  • Ball Slams
  • “Drive the car” Tricep work on incline bench
  • Agility Ladder alternate jumps

After 6 months of being what I would call out of shape it was a rough workout. One of the roughest. I grunted and shook and everything in between, but I survived. Sean is tough but I trust he knows what he is doing. He already figured out that my issue is mental. If he watched the show he would already know that. Smile

My plan will be to meet with Sean two days a week for an hour and in between I will be walking and making sure I get activity in during the day. My Treadmill desk has been in the garage where it is too cold to workout but I think I am going to move it in my office I really need that extra movement right now.

I have three physical goals now. First is I need to take off these 50 pounds I put back on. Yes its 50 pounds. The second is once I do take the weight off I want to work on strength training. I really loved weight lifting / strength training.  I really want to get strong enough to participate in an actual meet. I follow this amazing group on Facebook called Detroit Barbell and would love to join up. The third is I would like to get one last plastic surgery procedure done. (more about that one when we talk about mental repairs.)

By the end of the week all of these will be out….be gentle..this took a lot for me to write. Smile

Part II – Mental Repairs, Part III – Spiritual Repairs and Part IV – Eat the Food and My 6 things.

TrekDesk

If you watched our episode of Extreme Weight Loss on ABC July 2nd 2013 and again on October 20th you saw many things. Many a struggle and triumph. However there was much you didn’t see. Not for lack of importance but sheer lack of airtime. Many of you have asked what we ate or how we exercised…what exactly did we do. Well I want to share with you an important answer to those unanswered questions.

After the 90 day weigh in I was finding it difficult to find more time. I know that may sound strange to look for more time. But my schedule was very rigorous. I would get up around 6 or 6:30. Workout from 7 – noon-ish and then do my real job to support my family from 1pm to 9pm. My problem was that I was so sore after I quit moving for the day that the mornings the next day were very rough on my muscles. The other thing that wasn’t talked about on the show was how insanely tight my muscles were. One of my trainers would literally have to roll my calves on a 4 inch PVC pipe so we could alleviate the pain and knotting that went all the way up to my shoulders.

One day I went for a walk in between meetings and the next morning I was a little less sore. I know that sounds counterintuitive but more movement made me less painful. Since we had a great gym fully equipped I thought maybe there was a way I could work while walking on the treadmill. So I searched on Bing for a treadmill desk. The very first thing that popped up was the TrekDesk. What happened after that was no less than awesome.

I looked on Facebook and sure enough I found TrekDesk the company as I had some questions. I sent a message to the company with my situation and my questions. Not only did I get a response back but the owner contacted me directly. After a brief phone call about his story and what I was looking to achieve, I decided the TrekDesk was the right tool for the job. I learned a lot more from Steve on a follow up phone call that you just cant learn from experience.

I received my TrekDesk about a week later. If you noticed from the show our three car garage was transformed into our gym. They did a beautiful job of installing three flat screen TV’s at the front in front of the treadmill rower and elliptical stations. Since the treadmill was in the middle I installed my TrekDesk on my treadmill and hooked all three screens to my laptop and had a triple screen working environment.

From the first day I was hooked on my TrekDesk! The very first time I used it, two hours went by and I didn’t even know it. By the time a week had gone by I could already tell my muscles were looser. When the show started I was diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis. Come to find out once my calf muscles were limbered up from the movement on my TrekDesk, I had no more pain in my heel or feet, my shoulders were looser and I had all around better flexibility. After two weeks if I was sitting in a normal chair at my desk I began to notice myself hunched over slumped and cramping up. I had no idea I was doing it to myself.

If you know me at all, you know efficiency is very important to me. There are only so many hours in a day. The fact that I could improve my health, my flexibility, and work at the same time was the perfect storm to help me break through my plateaus.

Many more tips and tricks they didn’t air on the episode coming soon.

Just to prove it here is the Diary Cam that didn’t make the show.

Any questions please let me know and I would love to answer them!

Get Yours Here!

Where have we been?

Yes, it has been some time since Jason or I last posted.  The tail end of the last summer was a crazy ride.  I wanted to update our readers that we ARE here and we ARE doing great, things have just been beyond hectic.  Some of these events include:

  • Us completing our second Warrior Dash
  • Rachel traveling to Arkansas to visit friends
  • While in Arkansas finding out that our daughter, Sabrina, required an emergency appendectomy
  • Jason flying to Arkansas for above surgery
  • Us traveling home as a family
  • Jason traveling for work
  • For the first time ever, Rachel traveling for work
  • Labor day mini trip

So, yes, it has been insane.

At the end of July we participated in our second Warrior Dash and had a BLAST!  We had several people come up to us and tell us they had watched and loved the episode.  It was great to really meet people and see what people thought of our episode.  The race itself was so much fun!  We are looking forward to planning better next year so we can have an even bigger group next year.  It is a such a fun race and a group of people makes it even more fun.  This year Jason and I ran it together.  This race was very different this year, as we weighed so much less than last.  The obstacles were easy and it was just more relaxed in general.  Plus it felt awesome to do the race because we wanted to, not because it was a challenge.  We plan on doing this every year!

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The day after the Warrior Dash I drove the kids to Arkansas to visit friends while Jason was traveling for work.  We lived in Bentonville, Arkansas for two years and we made some great friends while we were there.  It had been some time since we had been there, so I thought a trip would be fun.  It was, until two days in and Sabrina became ill.  At first, I thought it was just a stomach bug or food poisoning.  Anyone that is a parent knows that these things sometimes just happen.  But as Tuesday night wore on and into the late evening, she kept complaining of stomach pain.  She didn’t even want to roll over.  I had been getting a more “uneasy” feeling as the night wore on and I knew something was not right.  Since we used to live in Bentonville, I didn’t even call our old pediatrician, but just took her straight in first thing in the morning.  The doctor examined her and told me that he suspected appendicitis.  Though I’m not a doctor, when he told me, I had a strong feeling.  It was the same feeling that drove me to take her to the doctors that morning–something wasn’t right.  She was very sick and in so much pain.  It wasn’t like Sabrina at all.  Thank goodness we had good friends to lean on during this time.  We went straight to the hospital and after a CT it was confirmed that she had appendicitis and she would require surgery.

Though Sabrina is great now (and fully recovered), it was horrible to go through.  As a parent, when your child is in pain you simply want to relieve in.  In this circumstance, my worst fear (and only means of recovery) was surgery.  Though I knew it my head it was a routine procedure that is preformed around the clock at hospitals, this was my baby.  My SIX year old baby, who would have to go under anesthesia.  But, thankfully, everything turned out alright.  You could tell even the very next day that she was feeling better.  I am so very grateful that it was something that could be fixed.  And, if we weren’t home at least we were traveling to a place that had great friends and support.

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hospital

After that fun trip (ha ha), the kids and I were happy to be home and just “be” for a little bit.  However, Jason’s travel schedule has been somewhat insane.  I can’t even keep track of all the places he has been this summer, but some of them are Seattle, Nashville, Virginia, and Texas, just to name a few.  Then, just two weeks ago I headed back to Conway, Arkansas (flying this time) to go for training for my Rhea Lana’s event in October.  So that was a new and different experience for us, since this is really the first time I am heading back to work (other than photography) since the twins were born in 2007.  It was a bit of a switch for our schedule, but Jason is an awesome dad and stepped up to the challenge.

While I have loved staying home with Sam and Sabrina, it was really exciting to think about new challenges ahead and me going back to work.  You can read more about Rhea Lana’s here, but I am SO excited to be bringing this to Michigan.  I LOVE these sales–consigning my clothing, volunteering, shopping–and now, I get to bring one to Michigan and to all our Michigan moms and families.  I cannot wait because I just know moms will love it!

To wrap up our crazy summer we decided to take the kids to a mini vacation to a local water park.  It was nice to just get away, even for a day, with the kids before school started.  Sam and Sabrina had a great time, no one got sick, and we had some awesome family time.  It was also fun to remember not too long ago we would have avoided such a water park, or went there and wanted to hide because of our shape.  No more.  We can both climb the stairs AND go down the slide with no problem.  I know that these kind of memories cannot be replaced.  They will never remember mama and daddy sitting the fun stuff out.  Nope.  They will remember us playing, splashing, and sliding, right along with them.

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Jason also has been taking the kids to the track to run with them.  Sam, especially, LOVES to run.  I know most kids like to run, but he loves it.  And he is fast.  I’m not saying that because I’m his mom.  The boy is fast and loves to run.

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One of Jason and the kids.  Just for fun. :)

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Sam and Sabrina head back to school tomorrow for first grade, so hopefully we will be back to our regularly scheduled programming!

I’m a mom. And this is what I strive for:

Writing this blog has been a bit of a challenge—and not for the lack of content—but because of the abundance of information that Jason and I want to share.  We feel that though we both went through this together, we do have some different views and tips.  We both have really been trying to hold back on our information—and to space out what we have to share.  But this one just can’t wait.

Again, if you watched our show, you met our two wonderful children, Sam and Sabrina.  But you didn’t get to see as much of them as we liked.  And it bummed us out kind of, because they are just simply awesome kids.  Sabrina is full of questions and curiosity.  She is ALWAYS listening.  Sam has a sweet soul and THE. BEST. LAUGH. that you may ever hear.  They are both full of spirit and happiness.  And I’m not just saying this because they are our kids.

Okay maybe I am.  But I’m their mom and that is what moms do.

And long before Chris Powell ever came into our lives, Jason and I had decided long ago we did not want to pass on our “unhealthy” behaviors.  We decided, pretty much from birth on that we didn’t want Sam and Sabrina to ever really love food in an unhealthy way.  Part of that was to lead by example.  Part of that was to provide them with better choices than we sometimes chose.  Really, I feel, it came down to balance.

You see, for a long time, I strived for perfection.  I wanted my diet and exercise to be perfect.  I never wanted to sway from my plan.  It was all or nothing.

And that kind of thinking, led me to 290 pounds.  Not just that—there is more where that came from, but a lot of it.  I didn’t want my kids to ever think they had to be perfect.  Life isn’t about being perfect.  Perfect is not realistic, it’s just not.  So instead, I strived for BALANCE.

It really started with my children long before I practiced it myself.  Jason and I wanted them to eat healthy and to have a wide variety of food choices.  But we also knew that we couldn’t always control their environment if they weren’t with us.  So, we simply gave them the best choices that we knew how.  And we hoped that because of those healthy choices and options they would learn to make the better choices.  Balance, not perfection.

For example, something that was missed that the TV camera’s filmed was “The Healthy Game”.  The Healthy Game is a quick game played in the car or when making dinner…really, wherever.  I would simply ask, “Apple.  Healthy or unhealthy?”  And Sam and Sabrina would answer accordingly and it opened up a discussion about different kinds of foods.  With some foods it really is more than just a simple yes or no so it was fun to sometimes take apart the food and see what we could come up with.  Eventually they would start the game off and play with each other or with Jason and me.

Today, Sabrina eats a huge variety of food and favors almost any kind of fruit.  She could demolish a cantaloupe in one sitting.  But you know what?  She also loves ice cream and has it, on occasion.  Not every day or night, but on occasion, when we stop and get ice cream as a family.  BALANCE, not perfection.

Sam, my son who I raised in the exact same fashion, cannot stand cantaloupe and prefers no skin on his apples.  His palette has been a little tougher, even with all of our hard work.  But he also enjoys asparagus with sea salt and loves grilled chicken and shrimp.  If you were to offer him soda (okay, I really say pop here in Michigan) of any kind he would turn you down flat.  But he loves birthday cake.  And you know what?  He has it, on occasion.  BALANCE, not perfection.

I have so much more to share about being a mom and raising children in this crazy busy world where convenient foods ARE easier for our busy lifestyle, but not always necessary.  There are quick and healthy recipes for a TON of things out there.  The same goes for snack ideas.  I went through this year trying to find time to take care of our children and our house, exercise, do laundry, take the kids to their activities, attend family parties and functions, and just LIVE life, all the while things were crazy and busy.  Many times I didn’t think I could do it.

But I did and I want to share how.  To inspire others.  To motivate.

And if you are a mom, trust me when I say that I get it.  I know you are tired and busy and life is overwhelming and hard.  But you can do it.  Really.

BALANCE.

Stay tuned.

 

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(homemade whole wheat waffles–recipe to come soon)

Warrior Dash

Even when I was severely overweight, I always dreamed about doing “one of those crazy mud runs”.  If you watched our episode, you see that I share this information with Chris Powell.  True to Chris Powell fashion, he made my dream come true.

I personally had always wanted to do one.  These runs looked so much more fun to me than a normal race, with fun obstacles to complete along the way, getting dirty, etc.  But I knew in my heart I would never attempt to do one while I was overweight.  The Warrior Dash is the run that we ended up completing on the show.  At first, I had regretted saying this because I had to “face the music”.  I knew that even a few months in I had lost weight and improved my endurance, but I had never been a runner and this had some running involved.  I was scared, but I wanted to face my fears.

Jason, on the other hand, had never desired to do one.  So when Chris asked him to join us in the race, he kind of joked around that he would support us from the sidelines.  But I truly knew Jason wouldn’t let me do the race alone—and he didn’t.  He faced the music as well.  I knew he was scared about it as well, but he faced his fears too.

When the race started I remember my heart beating and thinking we were going to get run over by the people behind us.  I was worried about people judging us—wondering what the heck we were doing here.  I was fearful about not being able to finish, but I dismissed that thought almost immediately.  I knew that once we started we WOULD finish, no matter how long it took us.

And in the end, we had a complete BLAST!  I cannot say enough good things about the Warrior Dash—and I know Jason agrees.  It was awesome—just like being a kid again going through these obstacles, getting dirty, having fun and being active.  It was just awesome.  And the people?  Everyone was beyond supportive and nice.  At certain obstacles if people were having a tough time, fellow racers would help them.  No one seemed concerned about having the fastest time (like I have seen in other races).  It was a great combination of camaraderie and fun and not once did I feel judged—by anyone!

When we finished the race and ran over the fire, a fire lit in my belly as well.  I knew that it would be something I would want to do again and Jason confirmed he had the same feeling.  We ended the race full of motivation and excitement.

Because we had such an awesome time last year, we are heading back to do the Warrior Dash again this year!  We hope for it to be an annual event and to eventually have a big team of people to participate with us.

The awesome organizers of the Warrior Dash even asked us to kick off a couple of races beforehand. We will be there from around 12:00 pm and running in the 2:30 race on this Saturday, July 27th.  We hope to see you there!

And if I can, I hope to add some words of wisdom and hopefully, motivation.  Even though this was something I desired to do, my fear had been stopping me.  Once I decided to face my fears, it was when I truly changed my life.  Maybe your fear isn’t a mud run, but a twenty minute jog.  Or even a walk.  Or doing a deadlift.  Or maybe attending a yoga class.  My point is that we all have had those fears.  But facing the fears?  Well, not everyone does that.  But I can guarantee you that if I had not done the mud run ( or Jason) we would have just always regretted it.  No more.

Face your fears.

Believe.

You can.

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On the road again…

This week I am in lovely Seattle. As far as cities go, it’s one of my favorites. Luckily for me this trip I am in the city 90% of the time. The episode only touched on the fact that I travel for work. It is a mandatory part of my job. Also I work for Microsoft.  This week in Seattle is an event called TechReady. Its a great time for employees out in the field to get together and share ideas, concepts, and technologies.

But as any of you out there that travel know, sometimes it’s very challenging to stay healthy while travelling. In my experience there are two major challenges. Eating and Exercise.

Exercise is challenging because generally a hotel gym has a treadmill, elliptical, and if you’re lucky a flat bench and some dumb bells. Plus usually when you head to the hotel gym everything is already in use.

Food is very challenging because for me, I love food. I love experiencing the cuisine of that local area or city I am going to. But its also very easy to justify eating anything considering you might even be on a per diem for expenses as well.

I will post over the next couple days addressing both and how I try to survive while on the road and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

If you have any questions, please ask and we can learn from each other! I would love to hear your tips as well!

-Jason