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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.

Withdrawn

When I decided to share about my mom, I honestly thought that I would be able to break it down into about 5-7 blog posts.  I was obviously wrong and it will take me longer to tell this story.  If you are reading this and waiting for the connection with food and when I started to turn to it, it is coming.  But there is SO very much I have to share and it all ties together for me.  Please be patient.  If you are reading this just because you know me and want to know more, well, no worries, you are going to get it all.  Thank you to everyone for reading.

I had every intention of finishing up last Friday and writing again on Monday.  I love to write.  I love it with all of my heart…but writing about this stuff is hard to do.  I don’t dwell on everything I have seen in my life and honestly, I very rarely think of the bad stuff because really, who wants to think about stuff like that?  I would rather remember my mom for all the good things she did in her life.

So I went back to write, and I just couldn’t.  It is emotionally draining for me to go back to that place and when I write about it, I have to go there.  So I took a break.  But now I am back.

I believe I mentioned that while I had a sprinkle of odd memories (finding my mom in the laundry room passed out) during my young childhood, it wasn’t until junior high and high school that I started to figure out something was not quite right.

Up until high school, I would consider everything pretty much happy in my life.  I grew up with great kids through school, I loved attending St. Mary’s, I was actively involved in sports and dance, and I felt safe.  I felt happy.  I felt secure.

Lots of changes happen when you transition to a high school, of course.  But if you attended a public elementary and junior high, chances are you will know people when you move to high school.  My tiny little Catholic school probably had less than 25 kids in our graduating class, and a few of us went on to the same high school together, but with the exception of those few girls, I, of course did not know anyone.

This isn’t usually a problem for anyone—it’s just the nature of high school.  You meet new friends, find new social circles—its all part of life.

Which might have been just fine if I wasn’t dealing with stuff at home that I didn’t want ANYONE to know about.  Even my best friend from elementary school—someone that I had known my entire life—I did not want her to know.

My protective bubble was gone and for a period of time, so was I.

If you know me now, you know that I am a pretty social person.  I love getting to know new people, I love making new friends, and I love being a good friend.  I love the people that are in my life and I love having these connections with everyone.  I know it sounds totally “Pollyanna-ish”, but really, I enjoy life.  I am a total extrovert (though not pushy) and I enjoy socialization.  It is a part of who I am.

This was not who I was in high school.  In high school, I recall being quiet, withdrawn, and just not that into anything.  I felt out of place and I was terrified that people would find out my secret.  I quit playing sports (which I loved) and I quit dance classes (which I was not so great at, but enjoyed) and I just…pulled away.

How could I invite someone over to my house if I wasn’t sure if my parents were going to be arguing?  Or if my mom was high or drunk? Or if my dad had even been drinking and they got into a fight?  How do you welcome someone into your life when you yourself are unsure of what you will be walking into on a DAILY basis?  My answer?

You DON’T.

Instead, you survive, in the only way that I knew how at that point in time.  I pushed people away.  A few, (very few) people knew what was going on and I was simply afraid and embarrassed to let anyone else know.  I may be confident and independent now, but I simply was not back then.  I wanted to be anything but different.

It hurts my heart now to admit how much I withdrew from people because it simply isn’t who I am.

Sharing everything and pretty much bearing my soul—I have already said that it is terrifying.  This is one of the scariest things I have ever done.  But there has been one part of my story I have contemplated not putting in at all.  It is something that I regret ever doing, but that is how low I felt at that time in my life.

I would rather not go into specific details.  But when I say I have been in that darkest place—the darkest place that one can go to?  I have.

My mom never knew this.

My brother never knew this.

My dad never knew this.

My grandmother never knew this.

It is a secret that I have shared with very, very few.

I share this for HOPE.  There is always HOPE.

I have BEEN to that dark place and people CAN and DO come back from it.

Had I been successful, I wouldn’t be able to write this for you.

There would have been no Sam.  No Sabrina.  To simply write those words brings tears to my eyes.

Thank goodness for second chances.  Which is why I always give them.

Sabrina Sue and Samuel Nickolas.

Sabrina Sue and Samuel Nickolas.

 

The why. Well, only some of it.

Courageous.

I have seen many of you write that to me over the past few days.

From Webster’s Dictionary online courageous is: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

It is so very hard for me to hear this word because I do not think of myself as courageous.  I think of myself as merely wanting to share in hopes that this will help someone else.  But I can see now, reading the definition, why people would think I am courageous.

I see the word persevere and think I am great at that.  I will try and try and try again.  I may have my lows, but I never truly give up.  I can say that about myself.  Somewhere, along the way, I learned this perseverance.  With my mom, I never stopped trying, but I did accept at one point, that I could not save her.  If I am being honest though, it still breaks my heart.

My mother had been in and out of hospitals for as long as I could remember.  But even now, I do not think she ever had an actual diagnosis.  I am not a therapist or a doctor, but I knew and loved my mom for all of my twenty-seven years before she was gone.  I can say with 100% certainty that she suffered from severe (major or clinical) depression.  When things were bad, they were very very bad.  I do not know if she suffered from bi-polar disorder or not.  She did fit some traits. She had manic phases when the house would be clean and spotless, and she had days when she did not get out of bed.  But she never had that actual diagnosis, so I cannot be certain.

This next part will probably come to a shock to those of you who even knew the tiniest bit of what was going on.  My mom did display traits of multiple personalities at times.  I have no medical background, and again, I say that though she was admitted (several times) to psychiatric wards at hospitals, she was never under the full care of a psychologist or a psychiatrist.  I hate to say it, but her medical doctors did not help, as they were often the ones who were prescribing her the medication and well aware that she was abusing it.

All I can go on, is my memories and what I have seen.  I have seen my mother change completely in front of my eyes, on multiple occasions.  Sometimes I was left to wonder if it was because of drugs or alcohol or if something else was going on.  But several times she also told me that I was not talking to Sue (my mom).  The person that I saw some of the time—the anger and extreme emotions—that was not my mother’s true personality.  So it confused me very much when she turned into this angry person that I could not reach.  Like I said, this started to make more sense as I became older and was more aware of such disorders.

Out of all of her addiction, battles, and depression, this haunts me more than anything.  Because when I research multiple personality disorder (or dissociate-personality disorder) she actually fits some of the traits:

  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Sleep disorders
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

I will never have answers.  What I do know is that my mom experienced trauma at a very young age and very much of it.

My mom was molested as a child by a close family member.  There is no other easy way to say this other than to just put it out there.  She never received proper therapy for this and it was a family secret for years and years.  I can only imagine the pain of keeping that secret and what it must have done to her.  I know it sounds totally cliché, but back then—the 60’s and 70’s, I think this stuff was just swept under the rug.  You just dealt with life—things happen!  I agree, to a point.  Life does happen.  But abuse, any abuse is hard to recover from.  What was done to her…I cannot fathom.  When I think about it (I try not to) all I can feel is her pain.  I know that she did the very best she could for as long as she could before she gave into her pain.

My parents married young and my mom had my brother at 18.  She had me when she was 22.  They built a brand new home together, next to my grandmother (my dad’s mom).  They ran a party store together and probably, by all accounts, had it together pretty much and were successful.

I know that my mom also suffered from severe post-partum depression.  She told me.  We had long talks about how she felt after delivery—it is even written in my baby book.  I know that she got it more with me then with my brother.  I’ll admit, for a long time, for a very long time, I wondered if I was the source of her pain.  Why did she get post-partum depression so much worse after having me?  Did I cause her that much pain?

As an adult, I KNOW better.  But as a child and teenager you start to wonder about the WHY of all of it.  You look for answers and when the answers are not written out directly in front of you, sometimes you look inward for answers—because there simply is nowhere else to look.

So my parents “seemingly” had it together.  I am sure, some of those days were the very best of their life.  They were young, they had a home, and they had a business.  But they were young.  And they fought.  And they both had tempers.  And my dad drank.  And life is HARD.  I think there is no one answer, but the want to numb her pain grew and took over.

When life is good and good things are happening, I think we can obviously handle more that is thrown our way.  But when you are already a vulnerable person and bad things happen, it takes an incredibly strong person to overcome that feeling of emptiness and depression all by yourself.  I am talking about deep, deep strength that unfortunately, she did not have on her own.  It pains me very much to say that.  She was STRONG and she overcame so much, but her pain overtook her life.  I know she felt alone and I know she felt no one understood her.  I know she felt shame.  This also began during a time when there was a stigma attached to depression, anxiety, mental illness and therapy.  Some people still have that stigma TODAY.  I can’t imagine having to face that stigma back then.

How did she cope?  She turned to prescription medication, and later, alcohol.

How did I cope? By trying, at every possible turn to help her.  And fix her.  And fix ME, if that was the problem. I could be perfect.  By running away, several times, though only for a few hours–because who else would fix it? By coming back and trying again. To fix her. To help her.  To SAVE her.

And finally, with food.  Because I promised myself long ago that I would never be addicted to pain medication, that I would never be an alcoholic, and I would NEVER let my children see some of the things I have seen.  I was so busy trying NOT to be an addict with pills and alcohol that I didn’t even see I was an addict with food.

It simply never occurred to me.

A favorite picture of me and my mom.  From the 1980's.

A favorite picture of me and my mom. From the 1980′s.

 

Why?

I guess I want to preface this blog by saying that I do not feel sorry for myself for my experiences, nor do I harbor any regret or anger towards my mother.  It will become clear why I could have these feelings, but I do not.  I love my mother very much and always will.  That’s not to say that I didn’t have moments of anger with her.

I share this as a therapy of sort (though I’ve had plenty) and given the opportunity that Jason and I had—I feel like the audience missed something.  If you have ever attended a casting call for a weight loss show, they inevitably ask you why you THINK you are overweight.  It did not have to do with my husband.  It had to do with my mother.  My personal story.

Jason’s personal food issues and mine—those are separate in certain ways.  Yes, we found a way to be comfortable with each other and bad food habits—and it grew.  But my struggle started long before I met him.

Forgive me for this sounding possibly too “cheesy”, but I share also because I “feel” that I have to. Yesterday (April 28th) was the ninth anniversary of my mother’s passing.  Today (April 29th) would have been her 58th birthday.  Around this time anyways I am inclined to speak and talk about her, but never about her personal issues.  It isn’t just something that I bring up in everyday conversation.  I just say I miss my mom simply because I do.  But something else has been nagging me to write and share.  It just won’t go away.  Maybe someone is reading and my story will resonate with them.  Maybe someone is reading this and is ready to change their life.  Maybe some people are just simply reading this.  And that is okay too.

But I struggled where to start writing.  Do I tell you all the wonderful stuff about my mom (there is so much) first? Or do I dive right in to the not so great stuff?  Do I share a horrible memory from my childhood or a tender one?

I wasn’t sure exactly where to start, because it all plays a part.  Everything I experienced in my childhood played a part in shaping who I have become today.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  All of it.

Lastly, I share for hope.  I may be the ever optimist, but I always believe that someone can change their life if they truly want to.  The want takes courage, desire, and determination, but I firmly believe that we all have it in ourselves.  I know this from first hand experience.

It isn’t simple.  It isn’t fun and it is definitely not easy.  When we are at our darkest hour the road seems beyond rough ahead.

But it can be done.

Tomorrow, I will share more.

As a side note, if you know me personally I may come across as an open book.  I know I am pretty open and social to everyone.  But choosing to share this this publicly, is actually very hard for me.  I do so for the purposes I stated above, but is still hard for me to do.  I appreciate that anyone takes the time to read this.

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.

 

waffle

(homemade whole wheat waffles–recipe to come soon)

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

Did Jason work?

Oh, the internet.

I’ve stumbled across some interesting reading online about Extreme Weight Loss and specific participants, us included.

Some things, I won’t even bother replying to.  I knew that Jason and I opened ourselves and our life up to scrutiny when the show aired.  As grateful as we were to have the opportunity to lose weight and get healthy again, we knew it came at some costs.

This is a television show. Yes, a weight loss show, but still, a television show.  You have to take some things with a grain of salt.  You just do.  Remember that for every minute of footage taken, there are fifty minutes that you didn’t get to see.  It doesn’t make it any less real—it just means that maybe you are not getting the whole story.

There are a couple of things that I will discuss on this blog.  But this specific thing is most important, so I had to start with it first.

When the twins were born in 2007, I quit my job as a special education teacher, choosing to stay home with Sam and Sabrina.  Jason continued to work full time at Microsoft.

Last year, when we found out about the show, we freaked out a little bit.  How were we going to be able to do this with him working?  Not just normal working either, but traveling.  Seriously, how were we going to do this?

We had many a conversation and we even discussed the possibility of not doing it.  But how could we turn down an opportunity like this?  We couldn’t.  We had to make it work.

Jason took off about TWO WEEKS of work.  Yes, that is it.  He did put his travel schedule on hold for the summer (as much as he could), but he was working.

The reason I have to share this is that the show didn’t point this out as much, and Jason needs credit where credit is due.  If you watch the episode you might wonder if he even worked at all.  Oh, he did! On the average day, sometimes he would get up early and catch up on some work emails.  After that, we had breakfast and packed our food up for the day.  Sam and Sabrina would attend Cross Fit and kickboxing class with us.  Basically, from 7-12 we got the majority of our exercise in and then Jason would start work, sometimes working until 9:00 pm at night.  I, of course took care of Sam and Sabrina while Jason was working.  If we hadn’t finished our time commitment by the time the kids went to bed, we would head to our home gym and plug some cardio time while either talking or watching TV.  Many a day, we were in bed no earlier than midnight.

And that was when he was HOME.  Jason travels, quite a bit, for his job.  So when he was on a business trip he had to find ways to meet his exercise commitment on the road and eat properly.

I have to say all of this because even though this year was hard and stressful on me, it was ten times harder on him.  He was working so hard to support our family and then on top of that, exercising an insane amount AND eating on plan.  Every time he or I became stressed we just kept telling ourselves that we had this one year to get through—just ONE year.

And at the end of it all—all of the stress, the chaos—we are both eternally grateful.  This year truly pushed us to all boundaries.  Literally, there was no extra time.  There was no time for excuses.  There was no time to drag our feet.  We just had to do it.

Which is how I know now that we were just making excuses before.  We had just told ourselves them for so long, we believed them.  But we both know now that if we had time to squeeze in four hours of exercise a day, then ONE hour is really no big deal and it can be done.

So this was my mad props to Jason.  To my wonderful husband who works so very hard for our family—I’m amazed at what you have accomplished this year and I cannot wait to see what the future brings for us.  It can only be good things. :)

Juicing

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When I say juicing I mean juicing in regards to fruits and veggies…not what Jose Conseco used to do. :)

A few times through out the year Rachel and I juiced for a few days to reset our bodies. I still do it because I enjoy it and it make me feel better. Plus I like making up new recipes. Here is one I made this morning. Use less or more to taste, plus I made a pitcher to last me the day if this seems like a large quantity. If you have any questions on juicing we can answer that on another post.

  • 2 Large Slices of seedless watermelon
  • 1 Pineapple
  • 2 Bosc pears
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 4 Gala apples
  • 4 large carrots
  • 12 strawberries
  • 1 small lemon

 

 

This is what it looks like when done:

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My other favorite non-fruit juice recipe is a Gazpacho Juice Recipe:

4 plum tomatoes
1 handful yellow bite sized tomatoes (optional)
1 cucumber
2 stalks of celery
1 red pepper
1/4 small red onion
2 cups parsley (I used a couple handfuls)
1 lime (peeled)

Then I add a little splash of vinegar to give it the same flavor. You can also add some green pepper or an extra cucumber to taste.

 

Enjoy and we cant wait to hear your recipes!

Very Low Sodium Taco Seasoning

Here is a recipe to make a very low sodium taco seasoning:

6 teaspoons chili powder
5 teaspoons paprika
4 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

I usually multiply this recipe by 10 or 20 and make enough to last us for quite a while. You can buy all of these spices in bulk at your local Sam’s Club or Costco.

Use to taste in ground turkey for some healthy taco seasoning!