From the BlogSubscribe Now

The cycle

As I wrote in my last blog post, food simply gave me comfort.  It gave me comfort because a lot of my good childhood memories revolved around family dinner, holiday dinners, BBQ’s and the like.  One great example is my mom’s homemade stuffing that she made at Thanksgiving.  We didn’t do stuffing out of a box (no offense to those that do), so Thanksgiving Eve is full of wonderful smells and memories.  Mom usually had it together that night in preparation for Thanksgiving.  My brother and I usually started getting out Christmas lights (and untwining them) while my mom started the stuffing.  I always helped break the bread for the stuffing and it seemed as though we had enough to feed an army.  We probably did.  The Thanksgiving after my mom’s death I made the stuffing myself.  I had to.  With tears running down my face and a glass of wine in my hand, I thought about my mom, Thanksgiving, and all that would never be again.

This confuses people sometimes because I am not filled with hate or anger towards her, and I haven’t been for a long time.  I simply miss her.  I wish I could have done more.  I will always wish that I could have saved her.

And so, in addition to eating more than my fair share at holiday parties, I developed a habit of not wanting to eat in front of people period.  No one other than my immediate family (I do not have this issue today).  This also began an unhealthy cycle of not eating and then eating more later.  I was never a binge eater—I have heard it described before and that does not fit me.  I used to be an emotional eater for sure…but it wasn’t like if something bad happened I ran for food.  It just comforted me when it was there.

I don’t know when I decided I didn’t want to eat in front of people, but I know it was when I was young.  I developed slightly faster than other girls and I was never a stick figure anyways.  Looking back, I was not fat.  But at the time, I thought I was.  I had no idea what to do with my body and I just felt like I looked different then everyone at a way younger age.  This might be TMI, but I was wearing a bra in the fourth grade.  So, yeah, I was already self-conscious about my body.  I do not feel that I was necessarily influenced in a bad way when it came to my body though.  My mom was thin for most of her life and she did gain weight after having my brother and me, but she lost it all at one point too.  But she nor my dad were never obsessive about their bodies, or ours.  I was involved in extracurricular activities until high school…which is when I withdrew and pretty much stopped being involved in any dance or athletics.  Which is when it began to catch up.

What I did not have was any real knowledge on the GOOD stuff to eat or the exercise to do.  Back then, in our family anyways, if you played sports great.  If you didn’t, oh well.  No, I didn’t know the best nutrition choices to make when I did eat either.  And again, I don’t blame my parents.  To me it feels like we have way more information today regarding food and nutrition then we ever have.  So while they could have taught us to eat better, I don’t get angry about it.

What I did know was my junior year in high school I was miserable at my school.  I had withdrawn so much from everyone I really didn’t feel a super strong connection.  Not at that point anyways.  I had been toying around with the idea of switching to a public school.  Just to try something different.  At this time I was attempting to come out of a deep depression (remember, Jerry had died the summer beforehand) and I wanted some change.

What I really wanted, thinking back, was to run away.  But I couldn’t.  How could I run away?  That was never an option, it was merely a dream.  With all of my mom’s continuous issues and me feeling so alone at school, being overweight just made it worse.  I just did not like myself anymore.  I know now something about myself that I did not know then.  Bear with me, while I digress for a moment—it will all make sense after I explain.

I don’t often like to give myself credit for things. I don’t know why.  I encourage my own children to be proud of the things they accomplish.  But I do have a hard time listing my strengths for people—unless it’s on a resume. ;) But I DO have strengths.  A lot of them.  I have overcome A LOT of stuff in my life.  I have a fire inside of me at times, and I remember my junior year, I felt my dim little flame turn into a full blown fire.

You see, one of my greatest strengths is that I may get knocked down…I may even get knocked down HARD, but I ALWAYS get back up.  And when I get back up…well, I am ready for anything.  I am no quitter.  I am not saying that this is always that easy either.  But I had had enough.  I wanted to change.

I wanted to do things.  I wanted to do something—I wasn’t sure yet that I wanted to be a teacher, but I knew I wanted to go to college.  My dad did graduate from high school, but my mom had to get her GED.  They were married so young, and had my brother so young.  I admit, I wanted something different for my life.

I began to think about the effort that they had put into my education, despite all of my mom’s issues she wanted us to go to a private school.  I started to think about changing my life, starting new in a new school…just starting fresh.  Usually, when I make up my mind to do something, I do it.  I may not embrace change, but I will face it, especially if I am working towards a goal.

Then I met Jason.  I met this wonderful boy.  He was BOY back then.  We had so many conversations, so many talks about anything and everything. I told him about how things were at home and I did not feel any need to hold back with him.  Not even at first and not even a little.  I never felt judgment.  I felt safe. I felt happy.

And I totally fell in love.

Changing schools was easy after that.  I transferred to John Glenn for the rest of my junior year.  I felt myself come out of my depression and I thought about all the goals that I wanted to accomplish.  That we wanted to accomplish together.

I share this because I always believe that a person can take their life into their own hands and change it.  So many people I know are unhappy in their careers—and I know things are not always so easy, but I say GO FOR IT if you want a change!  You are given this one life and I really feel that we can accomplish what we set our minds to.  I 100% believe that.  The road may be rough, but you need to believe in yourself.

After I transferred schools I was sick of being fat.  I didn’t know anything about diet and nutrition so unfortunately I found out about a doctor that helped with weight loss.  I was actually prescribed Ephedrine.  Yes, the real Ephedrine.

Now, I didn’t know any better at the time, and I really just think my mom was trying to do something to help me.  She may not have known the effects of Ephedrine back then, but she just wanted to help me lose weight.  So I continued an already vicious cycle of not regularly eating and added a quite potent drug on top of it.  One of the doctor’s instructions, and I’m not kidding, was to “not eat, EVER, until you are truly hungry.”

Do you know how often you are hungry on Ephedrine?  No very much.  I think the longest I went was four days without eating.  I didn’t even think about it either, I had so much energy.  I think one night I stayed up and cleaned the entire house.  So yes, I dropped 30 lbs. in probably 30 days and was back to a normal weight at 150.

Which only helped a vicious cycle.  I am not an anorexic, and I have never been a bulimic.  But I under ate a lot in my life and I still struggle with this today.  I am so busy, there is something always going on that I have to take great care to plan my meals and even take them with me if I am going to make sure that I simply even EAT.  Otherwise, I am at the mercy of whatever is available.

I realize I digressed off of my mom a bit because this is important in why I became overweight and why it became such a terrible cycle.  I was never taught truly the proper way.  I know that way now and I have awesome resources to share, but this cycle went on and on for years.  Her problems went on and on for years.  It wasn’t until much later that I actually went to therapy to talk about my mom, to talk about my weight, and to truly figure it out the healthy way.

If there is one thing I am thankful for, it is that I started therapy before my mother passed away.  I came to some major conclusions while in therapy and my mother and I made great strides in our relationship.  We were in a good place when she died.

The last words I spoke to her were, “Love you mom” and she responded with, “Love you too”.

I am beyond grateful for those last words.

Jason and I at his graduation in 95'.

Jason and I at his graduation in 95′.

jasonprom

Jason and I before his senior prom.

The connection

Wow.  So I knew it had been awhile, but I did not know that I was nearing thirty days since my last blog.  I know I have repeated it over and over again.  I could say it is because we are busy (we are, very), I could say that it is because of kids activities (it is, partly), or I could just be honest and say that it is hard to write about.

It is hard to write about.

Writing is one of my most favorite things to do.  When I was younger, I would write short stories endlessly.  And in a bit of a cliché manner, most of my stories involved some sort of family heartache with triumph in the end.  There always needed to be a triumph.

I recognize now, as an adult, that I was exercising one of the very few outlets I had to get out my emotions, my anger, and my pain.  But to me, back then, it was just writing.  I could pick up a pen and write in my journal or on pages of loose leaf.  When I was tired of writing, I stopped.  There was no audience.  No readers.  I wrote for myself.

I realize now, that while I AM writing for myself still, I am now sharing this journey with others.  So it isn’t necessarily fair to take so long to finish the story that I started.  There is an ending.  But it is hard to write about.  It is emotionally draining.  But I know that this truly is the least of my problems nowadays, so I am forcing myself to “pick up the pen”, so to speak.

The loss of Jerry was tremendously hard.  The only healing that has come, has come from time.  I was a teenager when that happened and it rocked my entire world.  I have learned to cope with it, as we all must cope with loss in some way.  But it wasn’t easy at the time.

I remember I was starting my junior year of high school and the last place I had wanted to be was in school.  I felt separate from everyone else.  When friends were talking about boys and parties over the summer, I thought of Jerry.  And again, I talked to no one.  Only one friend at my school knew about Jerry, and so, I withdrew further.

Oddly enough, with all of my family issues, we were a close knit bunch.  I spent a lot of time with my family.  The boyfriend I had, at the time, lived down the street and he spent a lot of time with my family.  So despite (or in spite) of all of the issues, we were all close.  While I had lots of friends and outside sources of comfort in elementary and junior high, I did not have that in high school.  Part of that comes from me simply pushing people away because I did not want anyone to know.  But that only furthered my isolation and it really lead to nothing good.

Now might be the time that I make the connection for you in regards to my comfort with food.  It is very simple, yet incredibly powerful.  To me it is powerful.

Most often when my mom was “normal” she cooked dinner.  She cooked big, large meals that were more than enough food for five people and my grandmother living next door.  A family of four might peel 4-6 potatoes for a side with dinner.  My mom peeled the whole bag.  I don’t know why, but everything was in mass proportion.

Also, usually before some sort of large holiday or family gathering there would be a BIG slip up.  She would usually overdose when she had been doing very well for some time.  Or, to be blunt, she would get drunk.  The drama of the situation always caused concern about the upcoming holiday.  But, to my memory, she was always able to pull off the holiday in full form.  Full dinner, full everything despite being high days beforehand.  So holidays were remembered with joy.  With comfort.  With normal.  With hope.

I can almost remember my own thoughts back then.  My silent prayers of “This is it!  She has decided to change!  It will be better.  SHE will be better.  It ALL has to be better.”

And then.

Better never came.

Not really.

Family dinners equaled comfort.  Safety.  Family.  NORMAL.

And then, when there was no family dinner, there was always food.  Chips, pizza, corn dogs.  Every possible processed food you could think of.

And then, when there was no family dinner, sometimes there was pizza night.  Or Chinese night. Or fish and ribs night.  Or pizza night.

My family loved pizza.

And then, there was always Grandma.

My grandma.  My rock.  Truly, my rock, throughout my entire life.  My one continuous support that I knew would never leave me, would never overdose on anything, and would always be there to comfort me.  She was right next door.  Always.

She always had food too.  It was in that loving sweet grandma way—the way that you always know that grandma will have warm home baked cookies (and she did, a lot of the time), and hugs, and words of wisdom about life.

And food.

Food.  Comfort.  Safety. NORMAL.

That is where it begins and that is where I connected the dots.  In my circumstance there is no grand formula and there is no magical ONE thing that happened.  It all came down to comfort and a craving for being normal.  I wanted to be normal more than anything at that time in my life.  So even though I know I started gaining weight at a rapid pace between my sophomore and junior year (and during) it really didn’t matter because I didn’t understand the connection at that moment in time.

I just did not see it.

But I started eating.

A lot.

My grandma, Sam, Sabrina and I at her 90th birthday in July 2013.

My grandma, Sam, Sabrina and I at her 90th birthday in July 2013.

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!

warriordash

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.

hospital1

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.

water3water1water2

 

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.

samrun

 

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

football1

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