A Lifestyle Change

Over the past year or so, I have been dealing with the prospects of weight loss surgery. I have been jumping through numerous insurance hoops, scheduling twice monthly appointments with the nutritionist and monthly check-in appointments with my primary care provider. I have seen an Internist, I have had bloodwork done, I have started taking vitamin supplements (I was Vitamin D and B-12 deficient). I had a barium swallow done that showed I have a hiatal hernia, which apparently isn’t a big deal, and also that I do not have acid reflux. I have met with the surgeon and discussed procedure options that will be determined by my upcoming endoscopy. All these things in addition to dealing with typical day to day life and trying to not eat like it’s my last meal before I’m put to death. To date I’ve lost about 13 pounds, and have around 12 more to go before I’ll be given the green light for surgery. I’m excited, but I’m also nervous as hell! A few years ago I had a bilateral pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs) and could have easily dropped dead from them, which I obviously didn’t. Since we have no idea where the clots came from and they don’t appear to be hereditary, I have to take blood thinners for the unforeseeable future. People who undergo surgery are at an increased risk of clotting and as being someone who is already prone to them, it freaks me out! The surgeon assured me that they have successfully done this surgery on people with the same risk factors as me and have had no more complications that anyone else. That put me at ease a little bit, but until it’s all said and done I’ll still be nervous about it.

Anyhow, my point is…I’m fat, I’m trying to lose weight and I’m hoping to have weight loss surgery to help get me to where I need to be. I have some pretty bad osteoarthritis in my hips and knees, to the point where another surgeon told me that I need hip replacement but he would never operate on me at my current weight. That was definitely a catalyst to push me in the right direction since my quality of life has drastically decreased since being diagnosed with OA. Stairs are a bitch to climb, walking sucks 80% of the time, I’m in constant pain and can only take Tylenol for pain since NSAIDs are out of the question while taking blood thinners.

I have been making more conscious choices when it comes to buying and eating food. Choosing fresh vegetables, meats and proteins as my main nutrition and steering away from carb loaded foods like breads and pastas. I’ve found that having a protein shake in the morning serves me pretty well until around 12:30 when I’ll have a prepackaged frozen lunch or a low carb meal that I make myself. Pretty much any of the single serving frozen meals, such as: Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, Healthy Choice, have around 250-310 calories. I might eat one of those and a handful of fresh vegetables, or a side salad and I’m good to go until 4pm or so. At that point I might eat some more vegetables, a piece of fruit, string cheese, or drink of cup of coffee. Then plan to make a carb conscious dinner that is full of protein and vegetables, and I try my best to choose healthy snacks for after dinner time. I’m not saying I never mess up, or say screw it and eat some chocolate, but I am aware of what I am putting in my body, because I keep track. I have gotten better about knowing the approximate nutritional value of the foods I eat most of, and make sure to avoid those if I’ve already gotten myself off track for the day. I’ve been making sure to drink lots and lots of water throughout the day and have started seriously altering any of my Starbucks orders. lol I started following this guy on Instagram, who not only works at Starbucks, but started creating recipes for himself and has been kind enough to share it for others who struggle to keep the calories down when it comes to coffee. The main difference is not ordering a latte and instead getting cold brew with light cream. Now, I’ll be the first to say that sugar free syrups taste kind of gnarly, but even if you add 2 pumps of regular syrup along with the SF, you will significantly cut down your calories! Give his page a look if you’re a coffee lover, you just might find a new favorite!

Here are a couple of our recent dinners, and some of my lunch options. I’ve been trying to take more pictures of the food we eat because it inspires me to remember to choose healthy, bright colors when I go grocery shopping!

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Solitude & Confinement

What do those words mean to you? To me it sounds like prison, especially when used together. It’s been a month to the day that someone close to me chose to swallow a bunch of prescription medication than to try and faced another day of pain and suffering from depression. LUCKILY, they are alive and doing much better and getting the counseling necessary to help manage the depression and anxiety and struggles of every day life. I have been through the whole ordeal of talking someone down from the proverbial ledge before, so it makes sense that those are the reasons I went to college and got my bachelor’s degree in counseling and psychology…because I am a great listener; I like to help people. Getting someone to see more than just black and white is something that I excel at, and I’m damn good at it! I have never had to fight through deep, depressing, dark times like some people have. I have suffered loss and heartbreak, divorce and disappointment, but never to the point that I felt I couldn’t continue with life, but I do understand we don’t all have the same coping skills. We don’t all have supportive friends and families. We don’t all understand that there are ups and downs in life and that in some moments “the end of the world” is just a phase of discomfort that will pass with time.

While I am NOT a licensed counselor or a psychiatrist, I HAVE been trained to watch for the warning signs and symptoms of depression, and am knowledgable of the additional symptoms of antidepressant medications. If you have someone in your life that suffers from depression, pleeeeease check on them often. Make sure they have resources available to them and are able to communicate their feelings with someone, even if it isn’t you. Even with the knowledge of the signs and symptoms, it is possible that they will appear ok and still attempt suicide, such was the case for the person mentioned above. It was a normal day, no known additional stresses, no seemingly physical upset or signs of distress. It was abrupt. It was shocking. It was heart and gut wrenching. It was eye opening to just how brutal depression seeds itself deep down inside of a person.

Image from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Be an ear, be a shoulder, help them to not feel alone and isolated in their feelings. Let them know that it’s ok to not be ok, but that sometimes when it’s too overwhelming, they NEED to reach out for help. While it is not the popular opinion; for the person suffering, suicide is an option to end the pain and suffering, yet avoidable if they get the help they so desperately need.

Resources:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

Warning Signs of Suicide

Talk, Behavior and Mood Changes

Choices & Personal Growth

A big part of my life results from the choices that I make. Sometimes I elect to not change things that are bothering me, which in turn bothers me even more. Other times I make changes and either reap the benefits or wonder why I bothered at all. I’m certainly not one to post everything on social media; I just tend to share the good things like most people.

Over the course of the last year, I have overcome a few major hurdles that have left me not only blaming myself but questioning my life’s purpose. I’m sure you are familiar with the drill: “Why is this happening to me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” “Could I have done something differently?” “Am I not good enough?” It makes me so angry that anytime something goes wrong, 9 out of 10 times I place the blame on myself. It isn’t fair to me and it isn’t fair to the person who wronged me.

I am a people pleaser, and I enjoy it when people like me and appreciate my company. This makes it hard when you want to yell and scream and cuss them out, but always prefer that they still think you are the bee’s knees. Then comes the question of whether or not I am respecting myself by keeping my mouth shut, accepting half-assed apologies or allowing other’s negative behavior to bring me down and make me question my own worth. Throughout my entire life I’ve been overweight and have let that define who I am. I have insecurities that stem from comments, looks, being passed over, being divorced, being cheated on, being lied to, and from being passive and from not standing my ground when someone fucks me over. I am thankful to have a support system in the form of friends, family and practitioners that are helping me to better my life and to get my health back on track.

In addition to physical changes, I have made some extremely difficult decisions to try and ease the stresses in my life and alter the family dynamic in our house. For example, I supported my oldest child’s decision to go and live with her dad and to continue her alternative schooling in her hometown. The choice was bittersweet for me, as I wanted to do what was best for her, but I also wanted to do what was best for our family. With two teenage sisters sharing a small bedroom and with no placed for either of them to quietly retreat to within the house, it was a no brainer. She seems to be thriving in her new environment, but the decision still leaves me feeling like a failed parent. *points finger at myself, yet again*

My biggest goal for this year is to practice forgiving myself for any wrongdoing and to stop wallowing in blame. In order to move forward and to find joy in my life, I have to trust in myself to make calculated decisions.

Happy Valentine’s Day

I saw this image online yesterday and decided to re-create it since it reminds me of me and my lover. He’s handsome, he’s amazing, and he’s the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. We truly appreciate one another and find ways to celebrate our love daily, never hesitating to tell one another how we truly feel. I love you babe, our love is beautiful and amazing!!!

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Parenting: Am I Protecting My Kids Or Punishing Them

There’s nothing like a teenager or two to make you doubt yourself and feel like an unsuitable parent on a daily basis. I have plenty of friends who assure me that it doesn’t just happen within my household, that it happens in theirs too. Sure, I can be stubborn and set in my ways at times, I’ll admit to that. I’ll also admit that when my kids piss me off with incessant whining and arguing, I will say “No.” just to spite them. And don’t you sit there and act like you’ve never done it yourself!

A situation came up over the last couple of days that required me to make a very difficult decision in a short amount of time, and it wasn’t without tears, yelling and screaming from the kids. Normally that behavior would have resulted in “Excuse me?! I gave you my answer and I even explained to you why I chose that answer. You will not speak to me that way, so you’d better calm down and watch your mouths, because I’m not going to put up with it!” But this time it was different and I wasn’t entirely confident in my reasoning to begin with, so I actually let them argue with me about it. To better explain, I need to divulge some personal information regarding the situation.

My nephew Zack had been very ill for the last couple of weeks, and after making a couple turns for the better, ended up making even more turns for the worse. I received the phone call Tuesday morning that he was to be taken off of life support later that day. I was going to keep this news to myself, as my kids were still home due to a delay from school because of inclement weather. I ended up deciding to tell my oldest first, and we commiserated on how terrible it was. She continued to get ready for school and my other daughter came in a few minutes later asking what her dad was talking about on Facebook. She had seen his post about Zack and I told her what was told me an hour or so earlier. “He is being taken off of life support and has a less than 5% chance of surviving….” She asked a few questions regarding who was there and who would be there and I told her I wasn’t sure. She went back to her room and started a conversation on Facebook messenger with her dad. They found out that he was driving across state to go and say goodbye and to be there with the rest of the family, and they really wanted to go. I called their dad and asked him what he was saying to them and he assured me that it was them begging to go, not the other way around. He said he would come and get them if I wanted them to go, but neither of us were sure if it was a good idea or not. He was stressed out, emotional and trying to tie up a bunch of loose ends before he was able to leave town for the 7+ hour drive, so he told me to tell them that we’d decided it wasn’t a good idea and to quit messaging him so he could finish getting ready. I called them down from their room and calmly explained that after having a conversation, we didn’t think it was the best idea for them to tag along. I understood that they wanted to go and pay their respects, but I also didn’t want to subject them to such an extreme situation. I was instantly the bad guy. My oldest was yelling. bawling and telling me it wasn’t fair…that she deserves to go and be there with him and be with the family and my other daughter said she wanted to be there too. I again explained that it wasn’t going to be a peaceful, happy time and that it would be extremely sad, emotional and overwhelming for them and everyone else involved. Their dad called me back before I had finished my argument and said he felt horrible for not letting them go. I had to agree that I felt like an asshole, but I was trying to protect them from experiencing death and heartache.

The truth of the matter is, they would be affected either way…directly and indirectly no matter which path was chosen. I told them they could go if they could manage to not fight with one another on the ridiculously long car ride and to take things with them to keep themselves occupied. They packed their things and waited to be picked up and begin the uncomfortable journey across state.

They arrived at the hospital around 9:30pm last night and gathered with the rest of the family. I received a phone call around 12:15am Wednesday morning saying that Zack had passed… I paid my respects to my ex and inquired how the girls were doing; he said they were very shaken up and upset. Understandably.

I hate that they are all the way across the state. I hate that they are teenagers that aren’t too keen on calling or messaging me to let me know how they are doing. I hate that their dad doesn’t bother to tell me how things are going and to just give me general updates about the well-being of my children. At least I don’t have to live with the guilt that I am the one who prevented them from seeing their cousin one last time and saying goodbye. The long term effects are yet to be known, but I can only hope that they will process it as a learning experience and a lesson in life and death. I love my kids and don’t want to see them hurting…I’m still questioning whether or not I made the right decision. I can’t change it now.

The Decision

After graduation in June, I applied for and was accepted into graduate school. I set my start date to September 1, 2016 and set about to enjoy my summer with the kids. I was excited and looking forward to being able to set my own pace and schedule, until I thought about the student loan dept I currently haimg_1345d and the deadlines I’d be expected to adhere to. I was especially leery since I had applied to a program that I didn’t really want to take. I’d been going to school for 4 years for human services/psychology and was about to embark on a career toward business administration.

I know…you’re thinking “Just how in the hell are those things even related?” Well, they aren’t. I talked things out with my boyfriend, who happens to be super supportive and he told me to go with my gut and quit school and start looking for a job. I stewed about it for a couple more days until I emailed my enrollment coach and broke the news to her. I immediately felt like an enormous weight was lifted from my shoulders!

Next came the job hunt, which is done 99% online these days. So far I’ve had to go in for a skills test (typing/10 key) and have had an interview. I’m very confident that I will get the job I interviewed for, as it went very well! I answered all their questions without hesitation, they liked the questions I asked them, and we all got along very well. I’m excited at the prospect of having a job by the end of the month! In the meantime, I’m still applying for jobs and waiting for the “Congratulations!” email. Wish me luck!!!

 

 

So, I have a bachelor’s degree now…

I graduated two days ago and since then I’ve been extremely emotional. If you look at me wrong, say the wrong thing, take too long to respond to me, I lose it emotionally. I’ve cried at least ten times in the last 48 hours, and it’s getting ridiculous. I know it isn’t because I graduated from college, I think it has more to do with not knowing what the future holds for me.

Talking about future prospects freaks me out because I’ve been out of the workforce for so many years and have been a student for the last four years….it’s daunting to think about getting a job right now because I want to get my masters. Also, I’m having a hell of a time figuring out where to even look for a job. Do I want to look where I currently live or where I hope to live in the future? There are many factors that will weigh that decision, but I’m not sure I’m capable of having those conversations right now.

I’m proud of myself for having made it this far and part of me is scared to stop, due to the fact that I may never find the time to go back!

evergreen grad 2016 5

Me and my bestie, Tish!