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I am hoping that everyone had a great 4th of July holiday with their family, friends and neighbors. The kids and I had fun decorating the front porch earlier in the week and then fireworks with my parents on the 4th.  The good news is, we got the air conditioner situation figured out so now the kids and I have a/c. That is a massive, major plus especially during these heat wave… yuck. This heat can suck the life and motivation right out of the most determined person!

Even though, I am not making a lot of head way physically, I am learning a lot about myself as a person, woman and mother. For starters, I give up way too easily, lol! One of the ways I have been trying to overcome that flaw, is to push thru what ever it is I am feeling. If the kids are fighting, the baby is crying, the house is trashed and I have a headache, it is a lot easier to sit on the couch and watch the Law & Order marathon then it is to push thru the headache, discipline the kids, console the baby and clean the house. And after a full day of letting my family and myself down, the last thing I want to do is hop on that elliptical trainer and work out for an hour. It is just a good old fashioned ‘domino effect.’ I am my own worst enemy. One of the things I have to constantly remind myself is, Things are not going to change over night. Nor are they going to change within the first week. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone that I am a very impatient person. I guess that is another flaw I need to work on, lol! However, I refuse to quit and know that everything is going to fall into place, in due time.

I am very excited to announce that my 18 month old daughter, Faith, has finally taken her first steps. She was diagnosed with a genetic deformity called Chromosome 15q Duplication Syndrome (or Dup 15q for short) which has caused delays in her fine/gross motor skills among other developmental milestones (speech being one of them). One June 25th, while in Occupational Therapy, she took her first steps!! It was definitely a time for some serious celebration! I don’t think I could have posted it to Facebook fast enough, lol! When a couple has a child with special needs, caring for them and all of their medical issues can get very overwhelming. All of that gets doubled when there is only one parent in the picture, which makes it easy to forget all the little things in life that makes life worth living. When I am at my wits end I have to force myself to stop and remember all things I am thankful for. I strongly suggest that everyone Keeps a little journal to write down everything you love and appreciate in life. Write in it everyday… It only takes a couple of minutes but the positive effects are endless.  When you are having a rough day or in an overwhelming situation, pull the journal out and skim through the pages. I promise, it will instantly lift your spirits.

The Little Things

Life is Precious

GEDC1648Today we are celebrating my son’s 8th Birthday. I cannot believe that it has been 8 years since he was born. Thinking back I cannot help but remember how difficult the pregnancy was for me and how I was faced with some very serious decisions. Being pregnant is supposed to be a joyful and exciting experience but I am sad to say that this this time around was none of those things for me. I was full of anxiety and fear as I wondered what each day would bring.

My daughter, Dasha, was 7 months old when I found out I was pregnant for a 2nd time. Obviously my boyfriend and I did not use the common sense that God so graciously gave us. Almost immediately I started to have complications with my heart. I have mitral valve prolapse and it was getting worse every day that I was pregnant. My heart went thru a lot of strain being forced to endure a  9 month pregnancy, labor and then delivery of my daughter.  Now 7 months later, I am asking my heart to do it all again. When I was 10 weeks pregnant, I had an echo cardiogram to get an idea of what was going on.  That was when my cardiologist gave me some earth shattering news, “You might not make it thru the pregnancy and I strongly suggest you look at all your options. You need to think about terminating the pregnancy.” I was speechless and didn’t even say good-bye before hanging up the phone. Later that day, my Ob/Gyn called me to talk about what my cardiologist had discussed with her. By that time I had found my voice and told her that terminating the pregnancy was NOT an option and it was not to be brought up again. She respected my wishes but explained to me that she could not continue seeing me, as she was not qualified to handle such a high risk situation. Once the word got out to my loved ones about the risks I faced, they all wanted to discuss what my choices were. “You have a 7 month old daughter that needs her mother in her life. Do you really want to risk forcing her to go thru life with the burden of losing her mother when she was just a baby?” The hardest person I had to face was my mom. She had already lost one child to a heart attack (my brother was only 16 when he died. She never really recovered from that, as no mother would) and now here she is being forced to face the possibility of losing another child. I would always tell my concerned family, “It is not my decision to make. God has given me this child for a reason and if it is to leave this world to bring him into it then who am I to defy God’s plans for me?” I knew the risks were very high both for myself and my unborn child, but I had to trust that there was a reason for it all. Maybe this child is meant to cure cancer one day and if I decide to terminate then that would never happen… I had a lot of thoughts like this running through my head as the days turned into weeks and my heart grew weaker. I was told that my heart would not be able to handle the strain of the contractions so a c-section was schedule 4 weeks before the actual due date, so I did not run the risk of going into labor unexpectedly. Through my dreams, I got to know the child that was growing inside of me and knew that I was having boy way before the sonogram could tell me. Immediately I knew that I was going to name him Anthony Michael (Anthony after his father and paternal grandfather & Michael after my father)… Good strong names for a strong man he will turn out to be.  I continued to grow very weak and was put on bed-rest; I was not allowed to be alone and needed help caring for my daughter. But Anthony thrived… Finally the day came for us to go to the hospital so we could meet Anthony! Despite the odds, we both made it thru the pregnancy and the surgery. And even though, my heart was still very weak, it slowly got stronger with each day that passed. I just needed to give it time to recover.

Now, here we are 8 years later, living life to the fullest. Anthony is even a big brother to his 17 month old sister. We do not know what is in store for us nor should we make the mistake of thinking that we do. One thing I have learned is you cannot let fear run your life. Other wise, you could make some very wrong choices and end up missing out on some very special miracles. Anthony is only one of my Miracles. What are some of yours?

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“Laying the foundation for a happier, healthier life”

  • Start Date: June 15th, 2012
  • End Date: August 31st, 2012
  • Duration: 78 days

The next 3 months are what I like to refer to as “laying the foundation” in my body transformation journey. Without a good strong foundation the structure you are building will eventually crumble and fall down. I am dedicated to making life-long healthy changes for my family and me. And in order to do that, I need to train my mind & body to automatically “do” healthy. Sounds pretty simple, huh?

I wrote down some of the things I want to work on during the next 3 months. As you will notice I have included some things that aren’t necessarily health related but more home/lifestyle/family related. That is because I feel that all areas of ones life directly effects the other areas. At least they do for me. I am emotionally and mentally affected by my environment. If I am surrounded by clutter and disorganization then that will effect my emotional and mental well-being in a negative way. And if that happens, chances are I wont feel much like eating right or working out.

HEALTH & FITNESS

  • Drink more water and less soda  (This has always been an issue for me since I have an unhealthy love affair with Dr. Pepper)
  • Start eating healthier (#1. Stop skipping meals #2. Stop snacking mindlessly through-out the day #3. Don’t eat past a certain time in the evening)
  • Start working out consistently to build up strength and cardio endurance (#1. Start the Rip:60 workout system #2. Start using my rowing and elliptical machines (obviously not at the same time, lol) #3. Put my Zumba workout DVD’s and Wii Fit to good use)

HOME, LIFE & FAMILY

  • Train myself to get up at a decent time in the mornings so I can get my day started (Summer ALWAYS messes up my sleep/wake schedules)
  • Start planning out meals with the kids (they might actually eat what I cook if they have a part in the planning and prepping stage… I can only hope)
  • Organize my house: Find a home for everything or get rid of it (this has always been one of my biggest challenges in life. I am extremely organized but lack the discipline to follow thru with the systems I set up. So everything usually ends up in boxes and bins, underneath the beds or in the closets. My mom has said more then once, “For someone who is so organized, you sure are messy.”  By the end of the summer, all of that will change.)
  • Continue to build my AVON business so that I have repeat sales every month (As a single mother, having a steady income is EXTREMELY important, lol)
  • Start working on my mini-projects around the home and start doing arts & crafts with the kids (It is important to me to be more active and involved with my kids. Being overwhelmed by the symptoms of my Narcolepsy and the stress of raising children, it is easy for me to forget that there is more to being a family then just making sure the kids are fed and bathed.)

I definitely feel that these are some really good places to start building my foundation for a happier, healthier life. I know that it will take some time before both myself and the kids get used the changes around here. Especially since we are all pretty set in our ways, lol. But these are positive changes so it will all be worth it in the end. Let the journey begin :0

Like most people out there,I  have struggled with weight, nutrition and healthy living. I know the older I get, the harder it will be for me to lose weight. I also know that if I can make the changes in my life to exercise and eat right, then ANYONE can. I challenge you to join me to reach your goals, what ever they may be. Do you want to lose weight, tone up, gain more flexibility, learn how to eat better, increase your energy & endurance levels? What ever your goal is, chances are, they are the same as mine. And if not, that’s fine too!

I am here to be completely honest about my weight loss journey and hold myself accountable for the choices I make. The reason I have failed time and time again, is because I never included anyone in what I was doing or the changes I was trying to make. The reason for that was so I didn’t have to deal with those people and their comments if I failed. I always went into my endeavor with blinders on, never taking my measurement and DEFINITELY not taking ‘before’ photos. I didn’t want any documentation that I was ever as big as I was! Like, if I ever got skinny I would be able to hide the fact that I was ever fat!

The reason this time is going to be different and I am going to succeed is because:

  1. There is no other option! Its that simple!!!
  2. I’m telling everyone in my life (and obviously on the Internet) about my plans to lose weight and get healthy. There will be no more hiding behind the curtain of shame.
  3. I have taken all of my measurements (and even added my own to the list), did a basic physical assessment & ACTUALLY took my “before” pictures. I keep all of that information accessible so that I see it everyday. It only motivates me to want to change those numbers and images into something that I can be proud of. This is it… I’M DONE BEING FAT.

I am going to make a very bold gesture, just to prove to myself how serious I am about getting healthy. I will post my “before” pictures and measurements for all to see, in the hopes that they will motivate others to make healthy lifestyle changes. I want people to see that I am a real person, with real struggles and body image issues… Just like you. Once a month, I will redo my measurements and assessment and post how I am doing. I will also post tips, advice and updates along the way to also help you. I encourage anyone and everyone to join me in the decision to live a healthier life. So, who’s up for a challenge?

**Please note that I am NOT a licensed nutritionist, medical doctor or fitness trainer. Any and all health related posts are from my personal experience, and nothing more then my opinions. What works for me, may not work for you. Before starting any exercise or diet regiment please consult with your doctor and discuss any and all health related concerns you may have.**

I know the last thing everyone is thinking about in June is shopping for Christmas. After all it’s summer time with the bathing suits, BBQ’s, flip-flops and sun burns! There are the bon fires, lighting bugs and pool side festivities. So why on earth am I bringing up Christmas shopping?! It’s simple. Year after year, I vow that that year will be different; that I will save up enough money and buy something for everyone. I start making my list of all the people I want to give a gift to: the teachers that put up with my kids all year, my parents for putting up with me, my aunts and uncles that I’ve never been able to buy anything for. Then there’s my Brother and cousins, and kids of my cousins…. You get the point, lol! But as my luck would have it, every year I find myself completely broke and unable to get anything for anyone. Just the other day, I was at Wal-mart and I saw the most perfect gift for my Brother. It was as if God himself put it on the shelf just for Shawn! I make the mental note to make sure I get that for him come Christmas time. Then it hit me, “why not get it now, so I’ll definitely have it for Christmas?” That started the wheels in my head turning (which could actually be a lengthy ordeal, lol), “I should start getting gifts for people now so I don’t find myself getting overwhelmed come Christmas time. I’M A GENIUS!!” (I actually say that to myself, lol)
So here is the plan of action I feel is reasonable that EVERYONE (even me) can pull off, without having to take out a 2nd mortgage on your house.

  1. Make a list of everyone you want to buy for and then break them up into categories: Family, friends, teachers (obviously if you start doing this in June or July, school will be out for summer. But it’s a given your kids will have teachers when school starts back up) & so on.
  2. Put a price cap on all gifts AND STICK TO IT (there really is no point in doing this if you are not going to stick to the budget you set in place for yourself.)
  3. Go over your budget and set aside a fixed weekly or monthly amount that you can safely spend for gifts. If you can only afford 20.00 a month then only spend 20.00.
  4. Keep your list and gift money on you so when you are out and come across the perfect gift for someone on your list, you can get it & cross that person off of your list.

Keep doing this for the next several months and you will have all of your Christmas shopping done before anyone else even had a chance to start. This is also a great for the kids to do as well. It will help teach them about the value of money and budgeting.

Lets face it, with all the things that we have to deal with on a daily basis, the last thing on our minds is exercise. That is until we try buttoning up our pants and realize that we have to go up one size bigger…yet again. Or, unless you are like me and try squeezing into those pants because you absolutely refuse to spend more money on clothes. I consider myself an expert on excuses, since I am pretty creative when it comes to making them up (Not necessarily something to be proud of, I guess). Then a month ago, I found myself face to face with a full size reflection of myself. Since I have spent the last several years avoiding full length mirrors, it was easy for me to be in denial about how big I have gotten. So, naturally,  I was horrified. “Who is that person,” was the question that I repeated to myself. Right then and there, I vowed , to not only make changes in my life, but to actually follow through with them.

We owe it to ourselves and to our families to be healthy. The last thing I want to teach my children is to be unhealthy and overweight. When I came across this article Get Sneaky: Fun Ways to Sneak in Daily Exercise from http://www.socialmom.com, I was excited. “I can totally do these things,” I said to myself. And so I did. I used the article as a starting point and then slowing found myself wondering how I could turn the simplest task into a workout regiment. Here are some things I have come up with:

  • Before checking the mail, I do 20 jumping jacks. When I come back from the mail box, I do another 20 (on days that I didn’t do a lot of activity, I will repeat this regiment 1-2 more time.) To spice it up, I will sometimes do lunges to or from the mailbox. And I totally don’t care if anyone sees me and thinks I’m completely crazy, lol. At least I’ll be the Smokin’ Hot Crazy Neighbor, when this is all said and done!!!)
  • I have a goal of 1000 jumping jacks a day. If (who am I foolin’? I mean, “when”) I am sitting on the couch watching TV, I will do a minimum of 10 jumping jacks each commercial. If I’m feeling feisty, I will do more but 10 is the minimum.  (I know that some people may not be able to do something that is considered high impact, whether it be because of your knees, back or other parts of your body. Find something that works for you and your body type. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you move your body)
  • When I pick up my youngest daughter from her playpen, high chair or the floor, I will turn that into bicep curls. Its not only great for developing my ‘guns’ but Faith loves the interaction with me. Another variation is, when I’m sitting on the couch, I will place her on my ankles and do leg lifts with her. Again, she loves the interaction. And it is totally fine that she thinks I am doing it to solely entertain her 🙂
  • This is my own variation of the ‘parking lot’ suggestion from the article. As they suggested, I park furthest away from the door so that I get those extra steps in for the day. But as an extra bonus, once I am done loading up my groceries in the car, I will walk the cart BACK to the store and carry my Faith in my arms BACK to the car. (I will be honest, there are some days that are just WAY too hot to be roaming around the parking lot, so I dont do this every time I go shopping, lol)

So, these are a couple of extra things I have added to my day. Once you realize how easy it is to sneak exercise into your daiyl routine, you will find yourself wondering, “Where else do I have a couple of minutes and what can I possibly do with them?” Or, am I the only one? If you have a “Sneaky Exercise” suggestion, Please share it with the rest of us!

I did not realize how hard it was going to be for me to post my “before” pictures. I have been trying to do it since Monday but every time I was about to hit the ‘post’ button, I would lose my nerve and hit the ‘draft’ button instead. I thought I was doing pretty good just to take the pictures, in the first place. And even better when I uploaded the pictures onto my computer and saved them in their very own “Before Pics” folder. But I knew that those pictures were doing me no good if I was able to forget about them. So I did something I have never done before, I sent them thru the Walgreens website to be printed and picked up at the store. If I had the ink in my printer I would’ve totally opted to go that route…especially if I could foresee the embarrassment that waited for me at Walgreens, lol. My pictures were accidentally put into someone elses envelope and theirs in mine. When I got to the counter to pick them up, I saw that the pictures were of some beautiful couple expecting their first baby. I almost didn’t want to tell the clerk that these were the wrong pictures because I knew he was going to have to search for mine in all the envelopes from that morning. I just didn’t want him to see them but I knew I had to tell him. I was standing off to the side, while the dilemma was being resolved when a guy came up to the counter asking for his pictures. As my horrible luck would have it, MY pictures were inside HIS envelope! I could have died, lol! “Are those your ‘before’ pictures,”he asked me. I guess the traditional front/side/back poses gave them away. I could feel my ears turning bright red as I answered him. “Well, I could only imagine how great the ‘after’ pictures are going to be,” the stranger said as he walked away. Oh, Thank you, Awesome Stranger at Walgreens!!

Needless to say, even though I was flirting with the edge of my comfort zone, I had not officially stepped outside of it. The final hurdle still awaited me when I got home. I needed to post my pictures and measurements here. So here I am 4 days later, struggling with myself. At first, I thought it was because I didn’t want other people to see me; I was afraid of the judgment or shame others may feel toward me.  But earlier today it dawned on me; That wasn’t it at all. I don’t mind how others see me. Its all about how I see myself…and I am very disappointed. Unfortunately, I am my own worst enemy. So with that “ah-ha” moment, I decided that I just needed to quit whining and toughen up. Plain & simple.

Smile

Here are my “Before” Pictures as of June 15th, 2012

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MEASUREMENTS:

  • Neck- 13.25
  • Shoulders- 46.25
  • Chest- 38.5
  • Upper Arm- 15.5
  • Waist- 38
  • Hips- 46
  • Butt- 48.25
  • Thigh- 29
  • Calf- 17
  • *Waist to Hip Ratio- .83
  • *Body Fat %- 39.36
  • *BMI (Body Mass Index)- 36.27: Obese Class 2

*These figures are estimates based on weight, height and other body measurements. To get accurate measurements I recommend asking your doctor for them when you go in for a physical or if you are a member of a gym, they usually do these for free for you. Or you can do what I did and go to http://www.bmi-calculator.net to get estimates.

PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT:

  • Push ups (military)- 3
  • Crunches-17
  • One Mile (walking)- Still needs to be determined

So, there, you have it! I am very proud of myself for over-coming one of the limitations I had for myself. Today I post pictures of myself on the internet; Tomorrow I will take over the world, lol!! The possibilities are endless!

Helpful Tip: I have always heard that visualizing the results you want, will help you achieve those results. To help make those desires a reality, you should draw the changes you want directly onto your pictures. So I ordered double prints and did this on one set. I have to say, I highly recommend that EVERYONE does this with a set of your ‘before’ pictures!!  It really hits home that everything I desire is tangible, as long as I work hard for them.

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