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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I Owe You A Photo!

So I said I would post an updated photo when I'd lost 10 pounds. That actually happened a few weeks ago but I've been busy! Jay and I (forever after known as J+C) are rehabbing a house. It's a labor of love on an old Victorian that has been hogging the lion's share of both our time and attention recently. Some day I may buy it and love it forever. Until then, we are exchanging some of the rental costs with our sweat equity. That makes time for blogging (and eating well, working out, working, taking care of children, sleeping, bathing, etc) nearly non-existent.

As such, I'm a bit behind on an update.

Firstly- GAPs. It's harder than one would have thought. Initially I felt great! Then die off started so I began rotating every other day and eating carbs on my off days. When bacteria and yeast die they release toxins into your system and that makes you feel like poo. Feeling like poo plus rehabbing a house equals a lot of crankypants behavior. Crankypants behavior leads to a lot of trouble in paradise (aka: fighting.a.lot.) So, about a week in I decided that now is not a good time for me to try to stay GAPs compliant. Especially since I was having a hard time keeping my blood sugar stable. Instead, I've been on the "grab something quick from the grocery store" diet. Thankfully since I've been so active, the scale has been kind and I've only gained 2 pounds in the three weeks this hell, er, love story has been underway.

Today I weighed in the afternoon and the scale said 195.2 and that means I've officially lost 10 pounds and I owe you an image of where my body is right now. I took some snaps in the mirror at the gym so they aren't the most fantastic quality but as I tell my children:

You get what you get and you don't throw a fit

Here you have it ladies and... well, probably just ladies. I can't imagine I have many male readers except for the occasional peek by J and I think he's just checking to see what mean things I might be saying about him. ;)

First up is a front shot. I think I need to start wearing tighter pants so you can see my legs a little better. 

Next up I made you a little comparison in Photoshop so you can see the difference without having to dig for the last picture post. I'll probably do that every 10 pounds. 

Firstly, I notice that the places I've seen the biggest change in my clothing are the places I notice have dropped the most. Namely, my stomach and my boobs. I am wearing bras that were not in rotation when I was 206 and I have had to retire a couple that are now ridiculously huge on me. Also, while it's still sorta gross, my tummy has shrunk noticeably and indeed, my pants are fitting much better these days. I am also truly surprised at what a difference a 10 pounds loss or gain makes. 

The other thing I noticed? My hair is a hot mess after working out. :P

So my goal this month is to get back on a regular 4-day-a-week work out schedule after my kids start back to school next Monday and to watch more closely what's going in my mouth (which, again, will be easier when I'm not running back and forth incessantly between houses and juggling the back and forth of nine kids all day). I have a new commitment now that I'm healthy again and feeling like my normal self. July was rough. I've not lost as much weight as I had hoped at the 9 week mark- but I'm going to say that a 10 pound loss in 2 months isn't half bad. 



Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Nourished Belly

Today begins the first of a 30 day GAPS diet cycle. What's GAPS you ask? Read about it here, here, and here. And as you can see from the food list, it's not as restrictive as it first looks. The introduction phase is very simple- warm, nourishing stock and boiled meat and veggies. Plenty of water. Lots of good foods to feed the happy critters I'm trying to grow inside my intestines. My gut flora is clearly off balance and this diet will help me get it back to a healthy state.

And as an added bonus, I've no doubt I will begin to shed pounds. Right now I am holding strong at my 193 number (13 pounds lost) and I expect it to fall fast as I will be naturally limiting calorie intake through my food choices (there are only so many calories one can consume when one is eating mostly vegetables and boiled meats) as well as after an entire month of inactivity getting back into the working out saddle.

GAPS diet enthusiasts report clearer skin, healthier hair and nails, a re-charge of energy and vitality, just to name a few. My greatest challenge will be to incorporate fermented foods into my diet. I will mainly be relying on kombucha and plain greek yogurt as we are moving this month and I can't see myself spending the required time to ferment my own veggies while we're in transition between houses!

Gut flora imbalance has been implicated in autism, ADD, allergies and other autoimmune disorders, colitis, and a host of other Western diseases including, it might surprise you to learn, depression and mood disorders. Basically the theory goes- if the gut is sick, the body is sick. If the gut does not have balance, the body does not have balance. If the lining of the intestines, which is a direct pathway to the blood stream, is "leaking" then the body is being slowly poisoned by the foods we consume. Further exasperated that by eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in processed, non-nutritional empty carbs, high doses of bad-bacteria-and-yeast feeding refined sugars, and massive amounts of bad oils and 'fake' foods (ie: high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, etc) and you've got a real recipe for disaster, or chronic illness, on your hands. Large proteins from the foods we eat can "leak" into the blood stream through the lining of the gut and then the immune system reacts to these foreign particles by attacking the body in various ways. Additionally, when good bacteria is missing from the system the bad bacteria and yeast are better able to flourish, causing another host of problems. Years later, while these two conditions have quietly been wreaking havoc on the body for decades, a person is told by a doctor to take ever mounting numbers of pills to try and control body-wide system failure when the problem is in the gut and is as easy to fix as repopulating the gut with beneficial bacteria and eating to support their growth.

The GAPS diet isn't so much a "diet" as it is a transitional, healing way of eating for a non-determined length of time. Basically, you eat this way until you are well. Then you pretty much need to continue to eat clean for most of your meals most of the time to maintain your health. Once the gut is healed it can handle an occasional influx of 'bad' foods (aka: date night pizza!!!) but overall the commitment needs to be a clean, non-processed eating for life if one would like to reap the benefits of a healthy gut. Some choose to stay on GAPS for life because the symptoms of their conditions are only improved by this method of eating. I'm committing to 30 days and then I'll re-evaluate from there and decide if I can move towards a less restrictive eating plan.

My focus now is completely on health. I'll still weigh in and I'm hopeful that my body will shed it's unneeded and unhealthy fat stores. But my focus isn't on losing weight but rather the healing of whatever happened to me last month. It was a huge wake up call. I just watched my lover celebrate his 35th birthday and I stand to face mine in November. I was reminded often this past week that we're now "half-way to 70". And he's right. I stand on the precipice of the part of my life when my body will begin to decline (slowly! hopefully!). If I want to retain the vim and vigor of a young woman then I must treat my body as the beautifully made, precious commodity that I have unwisely taken for granted. I have used my body as a garbage dump. For the sake of ease or pleasure or taste I have frequently loaded it with non-nutritive, harmful foods. And now I am paying for those choices. It's not too late for me (or for you!!!) to take back the temple and nourish it back to health. GAPS will help me do this literally from the bottom up.

I will keep you updated on how it goes. :)


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Attack of the Colitis Diet- Part Deux

So we ordered pizza.

Now, if you'll remember, pizza has been, for the past several weeks, a huge no-no food for me. What was I thinking? I suppose in retrospect, I was thinking that I had been on antibiotics and that it should have 'cured' my issues. I wanted to test. I wanted to gauge my body's reaction. And dammit, I was tired. I'd just spend five days camping with disgustingly sick children. I had to unpack the car, start the soiled (SOILED=VERY NASTY) laundry. I just needed to shove some food in my face and get on with my evening. 

Well. Haha. Joke's on me. Because I did nothing that night that didn't involved pain medication and curling up into a ball.

My guts loudly and profoundly said: Fuck you, lady.

I am on my daughter's bed, crying, curled into a ball around my stomach, sweating and moaning and cussing and hoping the Vicodin would just kick in already. When I wasn't doing that I was cursing myself for a fool while I sat on the toilet because my bowels just went ahead and decided not to digest, well, anything. Delightful.

Saturday rolled around and I don't think I ate anything other than a handful of chips at my mother in laws and some rice we ordered from the Chinese joint. All seemed well in tummy-land at this point- I just wasn't taking a chance. To add insult to injury, I woke bright and early and practically SKIPPED to the gym to weigh myself because I was sure... sure!!!... that after a week of pretty much eating almost nothing I clearly would have dropped poundage.

Um. Yeah. 1 pound. I weighed in a 199. I was near tears when I left. My damn body has turned on me, I thought. I can't even lose weight as an anorexic.

Sunday morning dawned and I left my house early to get to a 7am family photo shoot. It was a challenging one: extended family, four year old, baby, and three horses+ a sweet black lab. I worked my tail off for two and a half hours and then drove home, dropped my camera bag on the front table, marched myself upstairs, and fell asleep until 1pm.

As soon as I woke up I knew I was screwed. First symptom of The Terrible Illness was excessive sleep. The kids were still randomly falling asleep throughout the day for hours at a time. I was mentally hysterical that I was coming down ill again so soon after getting the colitis under control. I hadn't even begun to eat again.

Monday. Sick. Really sick. Can't get up sick. Tuesday- I realize that in addition to The Horrible Virus I am also developing a raging case of strep. I have been on what are literally gut blowing up antibiotics for well over a week and I've got strep. I've had one of the strongest broad spectrum antibiotics known to man for a week and another really strong one one top of it, half the time intravenously. This is the stuff that they give you when you've got e.coli or have been exposed to anthrax for the love of the goddess!!!! Must be one motherfucking badass strain of strep and all I can think is: 

Are you fucking kidding me!?!?!?!?!?!?

I put myself on the penicillin we have in the house. Strong dose. Best thing for strep out there. Wednesday dawns and one peek down my throat practically sends Jay running for the hills. He's vulnerable to strep and has had it more times than his 10 fingers can count. I have pus pockets on the back of my throat that are so large they are touching my uvula and I've been on penicillin for well over 24 hours. It's getting worse, not better. 

Now I'm mad. I'm all done with this shit. I'm going to heal myself the way I know how (without western medicine) and

So I load my crew up and head over to the Whole Foods in St. Louis. A ten minute conversation with the health specialist there confirms what I already know. I have a sick gut and the antibiotics at this point are going to make everything worse. I purchase one $50 bottle of extremely strong probiotics, two (and should have gotten about 20) glass bottles of organic cranberry kombucha tea, and a large container of coconut milk kefir and get the heck out of dodge. I'm really starting to feel crummy on my drive back home. I stumble in the door, lay down on my bed, and cry like I've lost my soul.

Jay leaves for work somewhere in the 2:30ish hour. I have lost track of time from here and for the rest of the evening. I literally crawl downstairs and lay down on the couch. I'm feverish. I feel icky. I fall into fitful sleep while the kids watch TV. I wake. I'm hot. Like, really really hot. I can feel the heat pulsating off my body with my heartbeat. Time is odd now... sort of stretched out and floaty. It's hard to explain. Jay texts me that he'll be home for his lunch break around 6-ish. Somewhere between five-thirty and six I start praying to the Universe with my heart beats. Let him be home soon. Let him be home soon.

He calls sometime after 6 to say he's on the way home and I think all I could croak out was "help me". I was delirious. I kept having dreams that my spirit was floating up to the top of the solar system. I remember being somewhere between the sun and mercury and communing with The Creator of All Things. Only they weren't like 'dreams' because I was still mostly conscious of what was going on in the room around me. It was very bizarre. And very scary when I would finally drop back into my body. I realized at one point while waiting for him that I had finally achieved the state I try to get into when I meditate. Complete relaxation of body and stillness of mind.

When Jay arrives he feels me, says "you're not that hot", and then forces me to stand, practically carries me into the bathroom, and thrusts me into what he claims was a "lukewarm" shower but which I would describe as "motherfucking ice water". I immediately begin to sob hysterically. My mind starts to wake up a bit. I cry that I'm going to pass out. He helps me sit and runs the tub. I'm still hysterically crying. I remind myself of me in transition during labor. And honestly, that's quite similar to where I was mentally. Totally sunk down in myself, finding the bottom limit of my reserve of energy, pushing myself to go further, actively working to calm myself and going with my body. As the fever broke (which he later revealed was very likely upwards of 105 but he didn't want to scare me further by telling me where I really was) and I came back to myself I understand immediately that my throat is better. My body is relaxed as it hasn't been in weeks. I am starting to heal.

Let me just step outside the story for a moment. I am always, always amazed and humbled by the workings of our bodies. The innate wisdom already located within our cells. I needed that fever. Was it scary? Yes. Was it necessary? Absolutely. It was completely the catalyst for my beginning to heal. It wasn't instant- it has taken me until today, 3 days post 'heating', to get back on my feet but it was from that moment on that I could tell I started to get better. Bacteria don't like heat. They grow best in a normal human body temp. Start to heat that sucker up and you inhibit their growth and they can't multiple as rapidly (or at all). Eventually, get it hot enough, and they start to die. Jay and I have a running, fun debate about fevers in humans. I claim that rarely will a human body heat itself to it's own detriment (save for heat stroke- but my point is that the human BODY isn't heating itself there... it's the outside temp affecting the internal body temp) and he's convinced you'll cook your brain if you leave a 105 fever to do it's thing. It's my opinion that rarely will a fever cause brain damage. I'm sure there's plenty of anecdotal evidence to the contrary, but it doesn't make sense for the body to kill itself to kill off a parasitic invader. In fact, temps can skyrocket to 108 and still maintain basic organ systems. If it happens, and I'm sure it does, it makes sense to me that the bacteria/virus itself "breaks" the internal system to the point where the body will indeed risk sacrificing itself at the chance of killing the invader. 

But I digress.

That fever was bliss. And by Friday morning I was able to get out of my house for the first time in almost a week and take a swim in the salt water pool at my gym (no germs were spread in the making of this outing- salt water kills strep bacteria). I have been on a strict regimen of rotating salt water and unfiltered apple cider vinegar gargles, thrice daily 85 billion, 13 strain bifia based probiotics, 10,000 IU Vit D3 supplementation, and as much fermented foods as I can choke down. Don't get me wrong, it's not been a walk in the park. I felt like complete trash yesterday afternoon after being up all day. I almost gave into the temptation to try the penicillin again because it's certainly a faster way to get these assholes under control. But I committed to cleaning my body the correct way and I've stuck to it. This morning I woke to an almost completely clean throat and a body that's finally, finally healing itself. I learned that I need to be on strong probiotics for at least 8 weeks to give them a chance to completely recolonize my gut and heal my immune system. I also need to vary and rotate the strains I am using to help give them a chance to get a foothold in my system.

Moral of the story gentle reader is this:

Your gut is the place where your immune system is born. Did you know that your immune response begins in your intestines? Did you know that every bite of junk you put in your body compromises that system? And that once the lining of your intestines get sick it's a long, hard road back to re-establishing health? Good bacteria are what you want running the show in there, not things like h.Pylori or group A Streptococcus bacteria, or e. Coli. They blow. 

My goals now are to research the GAPs diet and begin to heal my body further. GAPs goes beyond Paleo and I hear it's challenging. But you know what else is challenging? Trying to run a business, take care of a family, and spend my free time with my loving partner when I'm curled up on a couch crying in pain or high as a kite on Vicodin most of the time or in and out of the hospital. You know what's a bummer? Being on steroids for internal inflammation or having a resistant strain of strep take over your body because it's got such a good foothold. Not being able to go and do the things you want, keep your house neat and clean, shop for food for your family, or work at the career you love because you're too damn sick to get out of your bed, much less leave your home. Those things are hard. Those things suck. Eat bone broth and fermented foods for three months? Not so much in comparison.

So while this blog has always been about health and a little bit about weight loss now it's complete focus is on this journey toward healing my body. 

But just to throw you a bone, I did finally weigh in yesterday morning before I swam and I'm down 7 pounds from my pre-sick weigh-in and 13 pounds total from my high weight. I wore a shirt today I haven't had on in well over a year and got tons of compliments, even from Jay who swears up and down he loves my body no matter what (his comment was sort of a dumb boy moment but I relished it all the same). I have a long, long way to go but I've sure made a hell of a start. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Attack of the Colitis Diet-Part One

It's been a kinda nutty two weeks.

Shortly after my last post in which I expressed concern about what I was observing when I ate grain and how disheartening it was to find that most people thought I was overreacting or crazy, I decided to listen to my body and myself and follow my Paleo diet to the T again. It was the evening of July 4th when it began in earnest. I can't for the life of me remember what I had to eat that day, but I know that grain was not involved. In fact, I ate very little as I wasn't feeling well. I didn't think too much of it and assumed it was just left over from the pizza I'd had a couple days prior. The next morning I felt fine and ate my normal Paleo breakfast of a couple eggs over hard in coconut oil. About 45 minutes later I realized that I was having bouts of intestinal pain. They came and went much like contractions; waves of increasing pain that took all my concentration to get through but once departed I was fine and felt normal. I ticked off likely suspects: gall stones, no (don't have a gallbladder), pancreatic attack, no (those feel different), kidney stones, no (have had those and while the pain was of similar intensity those pains don't come and go they just punch you in the guts and keep punching until you're on the floor writhing in pain). Nothing fit. I wrote it off as the beginnings of a nasty stomach virus and didn't eat the rest of the day. I pretty much hate vomiting more than I do having my face ripped off so I avoid eating when there's a good chance I'll be ill.

By the dawn of day three my stomach was fine and completely flat. Actually I noticed this with some sense of elation. After carrying two full term babies in my body at the same time my tummy is simply not the same beautifully round thing it was before. It's sad and hangs and is the thing I hate most about my body. And the upper portion is usually swollen... only this morning it was noticeably flat. I had kicked around the idea of not eating again this day but as I was clearly better I went ahead and, at 10am, ate my normal eggs for breakfast...... And 45 minutes later realized this was a big mistake. The pain was back. It was more and more intense, sometimes causing me to break out in a horrible sweat. I would curl up on the couch, moaning and twisting in pain. The kids were scared. I posted on Facebook and got several answers that said: "hospital", "appendicitis", etc. When my partner came home from work he suggested, strongly, that I be seen by someone but I held out- assuming again this was passing and I had maybe done some damage to the lining of my intestines by eating grain again. I thought some more about Celiac's disease and considered some research online. I ran though the testing required. I realized how hard it can be to get diagnosed.

By 6 I knew I was going to have to get myself to a doctor. I opted for the ER as at this point I was only getting 30 minutes between attacks of pain and I knew I was going to need big drugs. I left my other half at home with the three littles and drove myself to the hospital (don't panic- it's only five minutes away). I prayed I would get back before another wave hit but the triage nurse warned me they were busy and I knew with unexplained abdominal pain I was going to be low priority. I waited in the lobby for about 30 more minutes, suffering through a painful attack and several trips to the bathroom. I rocked and moaned my way through it, reminding myself all the while of the many laboring women I've attended in my years as doula/birth photographer.

Once I was back, they were very quick to see me. The ER doc ordered a CT and I was given a muscle relaxer. At that point, I was under suspicion for appendicitis and kidney stones. Once back from my CT, when it was clear that my kidneys were not involved, I was given that drug from heaven- morphine- and I was able to rest and relax for the first time in 72 hours.

The CT was inconclusive. I had a swollen appendix but not one that required surgery just yet. I also had a mildly inflamed colon, or large intestine. Now, everyone kept stressing this was 'mild' and I just have to say nearly two weeks later.... I do not EVER want to experience what it would be like to have a severely inflamed one.

I was admitted for IV antibiotics, fluids, and observation. I was to consult with a surgeon in the morning. They kept me comfortable on narcotics and oral rest. Blood was taken and vitals were watched. So long as I did not eat... I experienced no pain.

The following day I met the delightful Dr. Chung who I had fantastic rapport with immediately. He'd reviewed my CT and was not concerned at all about my appendix. He had no other answers for me, however, and left me to wait for a consult with the GI specialist. He was ready to discharge me with pain meds and Zofran for nausea control. I didn't see my GI doc for quite some time and his was a more cautious approach: A gradually increased diet throughout the night and next day and discharge if I was getting better. I was kept on the antibiotics that the ER doc had ordered as a precaution though my GI made it clear he didn't think that was even in the realm of necessary. His diagnosis: I had the virus Isabella had had the previous week, though it was completely different symptomatically. I did not concur with this assumption. I asked about further testing for GI issues and his plan was to wait, see what happened, and discharge me the following day if I tolerated food well, which I did. I went home feeling somewhat better. I rested and geared up for the family vacation that we'd planned months prior. Though I dearly wanted to stay home, I did not want to disappoint my family or my loving partner/kids who'd been looking forward to the trip. I was still wiped out and mostly afraid to eat, but I felt well enough that I got in the car Monday afternoon after shooting a newborn session and we headed down to the Missouri Ozarks.

A week of camping and floating doesn't really mix well with two antibiotics that make one more sensitive to the sunlight than usual. As my GI was clear that he felt they were precautionary and unnecessary, I decided to take the decision into my own hands and stopped taking them on Tuesday, which was the first day we went floating. We had a delightful time. I was worried about my strength but I did okay in the canoe and even kayaked the last two miles with a toddler sitting jump seat on both front and back. I rested well that evening. I ate a normal dinner (was ravenous from the hard physical activity).

We decided to go ahead and float again the following day as well... which is where things began to take a turn for the worse. Almost as soon as we were on the 10 miles of river my daughter Claire, who is four, began to whine that she wanted to go back "home" to grandmas (grandma lives in her camper for much of the year and travels from cool place to cool place). To my complete surprise she curled up in the bottom of my canoe and slept almost the entire day. We got on the river at 10 and pulled off at seven and she was probably up and active for the best part of two hours total. It was hard to tell if she had a fever because we were in the sun so we just tented her with a towel and wide brimmed hat and kept her hydrated. Once back at camp, she went to sleep. I ate well again and fell into a restful sleep.

But Wednesday night is when everything unraveled.

I was awakened later by Benjamin. He was puking. He and Claire were both feverish again. I caught puke twice, and dosed babies in the dark with ibuprofen. I was miserable and wanted to go home but had no idea how to get us all there. If there's anything worse than puking in a tent, it's puking in a car going 80 down the interstate....

A camp day was decided upon the following morning and we played Scrabble and chatted with my brother, sister-in-law, and parents. Benjamin was clearly ill and he slept all day. What to do? Stay or go? It's a mother's prerogative to worry, but I know with my logical brain there isn't really more to be done at home than where we already were and I had the added bonus of helping hands in my mom and sister-in-law. No point in sticking them in the car for three hours. The day wore on and it was hot and sort of miserable. I kept the babies in my mom's camper for most of the day as it's air conditioned. 

That evening, Jay purchased a bottle of blackberry wine for me at the camp store and I decided since I'd been doing so well that a glass would be fine. Shortly after, the bloating was terrible and then the twisting and churning began. Damn it!!! Not again! I'd been eating just fine for two days. I had not been avoiding grains with zero consequences to my stomach. Immediately I realized the antibiotics were not as 'unnecessary' or as 'precautionary' as my GI had suspected. I worked all evening with my mom to prepare a fish fry (a family favorite!) and then when the fish came out of the fryer there was no way I was risking a bite. I was angry, frustrated and in a lot of pain. I took two pain pills and camped out on the air mattress in our tent. Sometime later all THREE children climbed into bed with me. Two of them were very sick. I was vomited on twice by Ben. Claire was delirious in her sleep and kept talking, getting up, and rambling nonsensically. I barely slept and after being doused in vomit I slept sitting up against the air mattress for a couple of hours.  

Friday dawned with happier children who had stopped regurgitating and when on fever reducers acted fairly normally. As for me, I was determined to get the hell out of dodge. I woke with the sun and began packing our things. I'd had enough. Poor Jay kept asking to hang out just a little longer but I'd reached the point of All Done. If you've never been trapped on a half-deflated mattress in the dark in a tent on Vicodin trying to catch puke in a small plastic bowl then I suggest you give it a shot. Fun times, that.

We came home. I felt better. I had started my antibiotics again as that was clearly the missing puzzle piece. I dosed kids again and they curled up on the couch in the AC and fell asleep. I felt well again, just a bit bloated, and I'd been on antibiotics again for about 24 hours. We decided to order in dinner as both of us were completely wiped out.

We ordered pizza.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Doubt Rears It's Ugly Head

I suppose had I gone to a doctor who would have actually listened to my symptoms and done more than pat me on my head and send me on my way with a bogus diagnosis of depression and a prescription for therapy, I would get taken more seriously. And moreover, would perhaps stop breaking the rules so much. If some authoritative person had said "You have Celiac/you're allergic/your thyroid is bonkers" and told me 'this is how you need to eat- for life' then I wouldn't feel the need to dip my toes in the water so much.

How much grain can I have? Maybe it's not really linked. Can I have it now? How about now? Will it hurt this time? How about this time? Is the pain related or is it in my head?  

I feel like my toddlers; ever testing the boundaries. When this started, I suppose I was just searching for answers. I was looking for a way to lose weight and feel better. I wasn't expecting to discover how very badly I react to grain. Until I completely eliminated it from my diet and then tried it again I had no idea what a number it was doing on my system. I was looking desperately to fix what was wrong with my body because something was clearly wrong but it never occurred to me how deep the problem might run. Never did I expect I wouldn't be able to cheat, that flour was going to be off limits for life. What do you mean date night can no longer revolve around the soft, pillowy, yeasty goodness at Cicero's Pizzeria? The pain will be intense from about an hour after eating until 3 days later when the intestinal distress tapered off. I am shocked, dismayed, and somewhat in denial about these truths. Worse yet are the people in my life who don't believe me. Their lack of support makes me doubt myself and what I know that I know.

I've learned through so many past experiences to listen to what my body is telling me. Sometimes it's hard to figure out. Sometimes it's a piece of cake. But always, always is the urge to doubt what I know. I had a fantastic doctor when I lived in Texas who believed, like really believed, that his patients were the source of both the problem and the solution. He encouraged me to do my own research and we'd often talk at length about what I'd found and how it applied. And he always stressed that tests can be wrong (and often are wrong) or inconclusive so we have to rely on more than just a lab coat to be sure we're headed in the right direction. Namely symptoms and intuition.

I have a long history of these symptoms. Brittle nails. Headaches. Unexplained stomach pain. Easy weight gain.

Is is Celiac's? Thyroid? Insulin resistance?

Who knows. 

At this point, I just want to feel better and stop doubting the path in front of me. If eating paleo makes me feel better and it isn't hurting anyone then I suppose it matters not if I'm "right". All that matters is that I've had to trim my long and strong nails twice in the last month, my hair looks normal again, and eating grain makes me double over in pain for three days. And I haven't had one debilitating headache this month.

Good-bye sweet pizza. You will be missed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Oh. Bread.

There is no doubt. Now that I've cut bread from my diet for three weeks, I just absolutely cannot eat it. If I do (and I've tried more than once because, well, sometimes carb cravings just reach up and bitch slap a girl) I suffer. Horribly. Like, you'd think I'd have gotten it the first 2 or 3 times I tried. But no.... Saturday night, after working on a shoot from 6:30-4 and then coming home and crashing hard for a four hour nap, I decided that since I'd eaten like shit for the entire day that I'd just go ahead and cap it off with some, wait for it!....... McDonald's. Big Mac and fries, baby. And a Dr. Pepper.

Now, I know this is a bad plan. I just didn't realize how bad.

I writhed. In pain. For an hour, before finally falling into restless slumber. Woke the next day still unable to eat because of the stomach pain. Bloating and gas soon followed. It's two days later and I'm still paying for that decision. My waist measurement is still up a half an inch! Bread has become my foe. It seems that I can tolerate a small amount of sugar per day. Dairy is still no problem for my digestion and I do treat myself to a bit of cream in my coffee and sometimes cheese on a salad. But bread. Bread is my enemy.

I'll be honest (I mean, really, this is all about accountability), I've had a rough week. I've been deviating from the plan more than is good. I've given myself permission to make bad choices too many times. I've been craving bad foods and leaving myself with few choices because of bad planning (and a hectic schedule). When I eat clean I feel better than when I don't. It's that simple.

Today I weighed in a day early. I did NOT weight last week. The numbers were on my mind too heavily. I needed to take a step back from the scale and just focus on working and eating well. I didn't do anything "in the gym" but I did take a long, tough hike up the bluffs and I swam twice. I was rewarded, McDonald's day aside (ugh), with a decent loss since my last weigh and a drastic decrease in one of my measurements. Check out weights and measures for more specifics.

A couple of side notes on other things I've noticed that are changing besides my weight in my next blog post. I'm out of town on business this week so eating right is sure to be a challenge.


Sunday, June 17, 2012


I'm not what one might call a "patient" person. In fact, I'm pretty sure the man I live with is the only person I know who can outplay me in the 'instant gratification' department. Scratch that. I'm positive he does. But only marginally.

One thing I find particularly difficult is the initial decline in weight loss. This isn't the first time I've ventured on a journey of losing a significant amount (but by god, it's going to be my last!). The spot I'm in right now I find to be the most difficult. I've made a large loss (9 pounds total when I weighed at Jay's Mom's house this afternoon) but I'm not into my normal clothes yet. I feel triumphant that I've found my way out of the crazy steep incline of weight gain I was on and yet I've found my metal arrow pointing to "frustrated" a lot this week. Why? Because I'm still 195 pounds which is just too much weight for my frame. Because I am still awkward in this too-big body. Because I have an entire wardrobe I purchased two years ago when I dropped to 175 (and stayed there for quite some time) that I still cannot squeeze my ass into even when I suck in and jump up and down. While the loss I've made has changed the way my body looks significantly, I'm losing it unevenly (always first from the last place I put it on) which means I am starting to see the actual muscle definition from the weights I've been lifting while I still have to practically lay down on the bed to button my jeans. I recognize that irritation at a 9 pound weight loss in 12 days is irrational. But there you have it.

Patience. It's virtuous for a reason. Those clothes will be in rotation once again, very soon. Until then, I will continue to wear my one pair of in-between jeans and two pairs of too-big capris and I'm gonna like it, damn it. And today it really hit me how much difference 10 pounds makes. I caught a glance of myself in the reflective surface of the patio door and realized how much better my favorite shirt looked on me today than it did on Memorial Day. :)

My diet has been a little iffy the past two days, thanks to a date night (at Buffalo Wild Wings- HOLLA!) and Father's Day (not horrid, but not as clean as I would like). Time to get back to basics, chug the water, and get moving. I've been slammed with business demands the past two weeks. I just haven't been able to make my workouts the priority I was committed to making them. I thought when my six were gone for the summer I could easily focus on myself and I've found that other things have crowded into that empty space instead. I've come to realize that there will always, always be demands on my time and attention. Part of making myself the priority is learning to say no but also to make focused decisions that put my goals first. It's easy to lay in bed until 10, get up and work for a few hours, run errands in the afternoon, then go to the studio and work there, meet Jay and the kiddos at home for dinner, do housework, work on editing in the evening, and go to bed exhausted without having done one physically demanding activity. Getting up at dawn and running or swimming would go a long way toward making my body more fit, my mind more clear, and my day more productive. Patience and persistence. Onward we go.


Friday, June 15, 2012

That Scale is a Tricky Bitch

I had pretty much convinced myself on Tuesday morning that while I felt smaller and my mother commented to me after seeing my "before" pics on Monday afternoon that I had clearly already lost weight, the number on the scale at the Weekly Weigh-in wasn't going to be any different. And why should there be change? I've been working out and dieting for three months hard core and the scale hadn't budged. Actually, when it did move it went UP! I've been pinging back and forth between 203 and 206.5 since just after Christmas. I tried a juice fast (which gave me terrible headaches), I tried a low calorie diet (1200 a day, baby), I tried running and swimming 5 days a week. Nothing made any difference at all. I went to my doctor and she told me I was exhausted from having nine kids and my metabolism was probably just slowing down. I have been beyond frustrated by my lack of answers to why I can so easily gain weight but not lose it no matter how hard I try.

So on Tuesday morning, I posted my lament to Facebook and then dragged my ass into the gym to weigh. I don't keep a scale at home anymore. Two reasons: 1) My children can't stay off of it and have broken two and 2) I become obsessive and will weigh myself several times a day and make myself crazy. So. I weigh at the gym, on the same digital scale, every week on the same day around the same time of day. I walked up to it like I was being marched to the guillotine. I actually stood there for several minutes, eyeing it up and sort of working up my nerve. One full week of eating Paleo and working out so hard there have been times that just sitting down hurts. I had convinced myself it was going to say 204.4 again and I was going to come unglued right there in the Women's Center next to the treadmill. I sucked it up, pressed the ON button and stepped onto the scale....


That's right.

5 pounds lost. Five pounds. I was nearly hysterical in my delight and relief. Relief because it proved to me that I am doing the right thing. PROOF! The number reinforces my commitment but also my firm belief that this is thyroid related and eating to support my thyroid is the best way to care for my body. I would be surprised if, three days later, I've not shed another 2-3 pounds. I feel like I have. I feel good, too. So much better than I have been feeling the past five months or so. And just to reiterate what the scale said and to double check that this wasn't water or something like that, I did remeasure and have lost a full inch from my bust and waist and a half inch from my hips. Sweet, sweet victory over that damn scale.

I realize there will likely be plateaus in my future. I'm not worried about it. I know now that this is the answer to my quandary. As my friend Sarah stated on my Facebook thread-

"Never see 200 again!"

Until next time-

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cheater Cheater, Fried Fish Eater

Before I dove into this new eating lifestyle, I planned an overnight camp-out at my parent's place. Just me and my love in a tent mostly made of screen in the woods on the side of the property they use as a home in their off months (they travel in their RV most of the year). The lightening bug show was five star.

They offered to take me and my sweetheart, Jay, out to eat at this awesome little spot call The Barefoot in Hardin, Illinois. I knew it was coming from the very beginning and I have been looking forward to and dreading it all week. Owned by a delightful family (grandson Evan was our waiter/bartender and super sweet/efficient as all hell), The Barefoot is the kind of place that never fails to satisfy. A small, family run, river town business, their hand breaded catfish is absolutely divine. I felt like we ordered half the menu. Catfish nugget sandwich, crinkle cut fries, crab rangoon, mini-tacos, and three glasses of iced tea to wash it down. I knew I was going whole hog on the pig out and I wanted to make it good. Can't waste the few and far between cheat days.

But While the totally tasty morsels of delicate, perfectly breaded-and-seasoned fish were as wonderful as always, I was barely done eating when my stomach loudly said "hell to the fucking no". It was immediate discomfort. Bloat. Ick. Thankfully it stopped there. I did not vomit or pay in other, less delicately described ways for my errant eating, but it was so very clear to me as it could not have been before: bread and carbs = total distress for my body. After a week of perfectly clean eating (okay okay, soy sauce aside) one meal of head first dive into soft, yummy white bread was all it took to remind me- this is how I will feel all the time if I go back. I don't wanna go back. I woke this morning feeling just fine and consumed eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, salad, and grilled chicken during my day. No carbs. Feels better. I never, never thought I'd want to avoid them this much. I mean, I suppose I always figured I could do it because I've got the determination of a rhinoceros (Wait... is a rhino 'determined'? Seems like they might be, to me.) but I figured I would feel deprived, sad I was missing out, always wanting a nibble of this or a night out to eat there. And perhaps I will occasionally take the plunge... but I can honestly say that I don't suppose I'll feel much in the way of what one might call deprivation.

It hurts too much to be good for me. 

No weigh in this morning because I was out of town. I'll give a number in the morning. I've been chugging water all day to try and beat the bloat that settled in this morning after consuming both alcohol and carbs in the same night. Erg.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

I Resisted the Popcorn

Last night my beloved youngest brother and his beautiful partner (whom I adore) came over for dinner before we headed off to the theater for the opening of Prometheus. I'm not a critic so I won't go into the details of my disappointment at the movie, but I will state proudly that I said "no thank you" to buttered movie theater popcorn. AND Dr. Pepper (which is, hands down, the most likely suspect when it comes to temptations to cheat). WIN!

Yesterday was the first time all week I had a complete dinner fail. My brother, god love him, requested my home made ricotta gnocchi for dinner. It's a huge no-no for me because it contains flour. It's also one of my all time favorite meals. I had the good idea that perhaps I could make a paleo friendly portion for myself by subbing in coconut flour and ignoring the fact that I was consuming cheese (dairy in moderate amounts seems to have no negative affects on my body). Heh. Didn't go as planned. Lacking any sort of gluten or other binder to hold them together the little nuggets of yummy goodness dissolved as soon as they hit the boiling water. Sad face. I had to improvise at the last second and fry up a few chicken tenders in coconut oil. I whipped up a quick salad to go with. I love how flexible paleo can be at a moment's notice!

I am currently resisting the urge to go weigh myself, for two reasons. One, if I have lost no weight (which is likely after only five days) I will be disappointed and frustrated. Two, if I get all obsessive about the scale again it will be the most direct path toward failure. I mean, really, if it didn't matter if you ate chocolate and sugar and junk all day while lazing around on the couch because working out and eating right didn't drop any pounds at.all.... what would you choose? I have to move away from the idea that this is a short term change to lose weight and look better and toward the idea that this change is for life because it's about my health rather than my body image. Losing weight and feeling better go hand in hand in this undertaking but I think... no I know, it's vital to my success to keep them in the right order of importance.

Whether I've lost 4 pounds or no pounds on Monday morning, I am making the correct choices for my body and my life. A big initial loss would certainly give me a jolt of further motivation. I'd be lying if I said anything less. However, I've got to brace myself mentally and know those numbers may not budge (like they have been for the past three months) so I don't give in to the binge eating that's always followed.

Short post! I am running off to an ordering session in just a few minutes and then it's Baseball Saturday for my step-son and more editing this afternoon. Busy busy! I have often wondered what I did before my six kids... and now I remember. I did the exact same things I do now just with less juggling! I miss them, and they are terribly homesick already, but I am indeed enjoying a summer break from parenting nine.

Enjoy your weekend! It will be interesting to see what this first week holds on Monday mornings weigh in. ;)


Friday, June 8, 2012

Department of Weights and Measures

My fiance Jay and I have a joke. Jay works in the hardware department of Lowe's and he runs into many a character in his daily customer interactions. Once upon a time, a man came in who just could not accept that the nut he was being offered was, in fact, the size Jay proclaimed it to be. No matter what he said or did this gentleman just would.not.believe it was the correct size. Finally, in desperation, Jay told him that the bolts and nuts in his department were standardized by the US Department of Weights and Measures so he could be sure that the labeling on this particular nut was absolutely correct... and henceforth we've had a running joke about the Department of Weights and Measures. They do their job. And don't you forget it.

Welcome to my own little corner of W&M, which will be done (accurately!) on Monday of every week (weights) and the 5th day of every month (measures) to track my progress, give me inspiration, and let me know when it's time to kick it up a notch again.

6/5/12 - 204.4



7/3/12- 200.0

7/14/12- 199.0

7/20/12- 193.0

8/14/12- 195.2 *afternoon weigh-in

  •    bust-44"
  •    waist-39"
  •    hips-45"
  • bust-43"
  • waist-38"
  • hips-44.5"

  • bust-42.5"
  • waist-38.5"
  • hips-44"
  • bust-42.75"
  • waist- 37.5"
  • hips-43"

Day Five! I'm Alive!

Today is the fifth day of my new eating habits. I'm doing quite well and have yet to really struggle with cravings for sugar, yeast, or junk. Are y'all familiar with Pinterest? If not, you need to hop over there and request an invite to participate. It's been revolutionary for my eating habits, my business, and my level of organization! Sure, sure, you can get mired down in all the "impossibly detailed crafty crazy" pins but as far as planning my meals (and my photo sessions!) goes... nothing rivals its visual bookmark genius.

Last night I enjoyed a mostly paleo friendly version of lettuce wraps which I gleaned from a "paleo" search on Pinterest and it was completely delicious. They seriously tasted like the PF Changs version I adore. Why "almost" paleo friendly, you ask? In my experience, most huge shifts in eating habits, unless you have unlimited finances to spend on stocking your pantry immediately (I do not), have a good week or two of an adjustment period. There's always that ONE ingredient you're missing when preparing a meal and substitution must happen. Last night it was regular soy sauce. I will have to find a paleo friendly substitute but in the mean time I'm not overly worried about a few minor variations. That may seem less than fully committed to some, so let me explain:

I'm a recovering perfectionist. When beginning something new in the past, especially something monumental like completely changing my eating and exercising habits and trying to fit something totally new into my life, I've often been very hard on myself and have required strict and perfect adherence to that new regime for the onset. This makes me feel like I'm "doing it right" and have successfully pre-jumped all those difficult hurdles that everyone else has to face. This, of course, isn't even close to the truth so when I do a half-pike off the back of the wagon my shame and humiliation are that much worse. Rather than picking myself up and admitting that I'm human and I'm going to screw up, I'll just quit to save myself the horror of failure. For some reason I considered quitting to be better than failure. Odd but true. Actually, this goes for many of the 'new' things I've tried in my life, which is why I have a long string of jobs, hobbies, and people I've started and then "quit" shortly thereafter. One misstep, one screw up, one failure and I tell myself that I may as well stop now because clearly, clearly, I am not going to be able to do this right. Better to not do it at all than to do it imperfectly.

In order to combat this insanity (and believe me as someone who's been dealing with this mindset my entire life, it can absolutely drive one insane) I have had to learn to back off and allow myself to be an imperfect creature. I must give myself room to stretch into this new lifestyle. Does that make it okay to give myself license to go on a three day carb binge? No, of course not. However, said three day carb binge is also not an excuse to throw my hands up, declare that I will never, ever get this right, and go back to my old eating habits, and live with chronic illness for the rest of my life. I may never understand why I have come to believe I am supposed to be above human frailness. I will continue to combat that mindset for my lifetime, I'm sure. But if I need to use some soy sauce to make a delicious meal because I've already been to the store twice and I'm starving and I just need to make this food.... I've deemed that part of the learning process. Surely my gut is much happier now that, for five days, it's only invaders have been three teaspoons of regular sugar, a packet of regular mayo, and a couple teaspoons of soy sauce? Compared with constant, all day inundation by gut irritants and empty carbs---- I'm okay with the deviations from perfection.

My official weigh and measure stats are being added to the link list at the top of the page. I'm considering adding meals and recipes, as well, but I'd love to hear feedback. Are you interested in seeing/hearing about/learning how to prepare the foods that I'm eating? It's quite a lot of effort so if you have no interest and just want to hear my random ramblings, let me know. Or, if you'd be down with starting something like this yourself or you're just curious what the crazy lady is eating... let me know that, too, in the comments section down below.

I feel fantastic both physically and mentally. I've been super, super sore from intense work outs and took yesterday off completely. I have a lot of "desk" time today because I have a lot of editing to finish to prepare for an ordering session and disk delivery. Perhaps I'll stop every 30 minutes and do some push ups and squats then take a nice stroll this evening before my brother and sister-in-law come over for dinner? We're seeing Prometheus tonight at the theater and man is that buttered popcorn going to be hard to resist!!! My sweetheart has threatened to sit on the other side of my brother so I can't reach the bag. I lurve him. ;-)

Until next time!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Before the After

I really, really, really don't want to post these pictures. I am a horrible perfectionist. I like to look nice in pictures. I use my copy of Photoshop liberally (and have the training to be good at it). These were taken with my iPhone, just before my workout last night, in so-so lighting (I'm a professional photographer so I'm picky about these things), in my work out clothes, no makeup, hair a mess, shot from a BAD angle....

So. It takes a lot for me to put this out there. This is determination personified. I will let you see how bad I can look. I did not suck in my tummy (more to come about the wreck of a stomach my twins left behind after their 39 week stay...). About the only way I could look worse is if I had the flu. This is what 200 pounds plus a little looks like on my 5 foot 4 frame without a smidgen of liquify to make it more palatable...

I will post a new image every 10 pounds or month- whichever comes first. And they will all be no makeup, in random "mommy" clothes... but I might make her shoot me from a better angle next time. *wink*

Working out with Lesley

My trainer, Lesley, likes to do what's called "burn out" at the end of my sessions. That's when you've worked about as hard as you think you can work, when you've hit that point where your legs are liquefied, shaking, and weak, when you don't think you can actually do one.more.exercise.... then she says "Awesome! Do 10 more lunges and 10 more squats!". After she peels me off the sidewalk, I am grateful. I want to work my muscles to the literal point of exhaustion so they will use all the protein I am consuming to repair themselves to bigger, leaner versions of themselves. 

I am left with just enough oomph to walk to my car and drive home. It's divine.

Our training sessions have thus far been outdoors, around her home. I enjoy this so much more than a gym. Last night as the sweat was rolling down my body I was atop the bluffs in my home town, high above the Mississippi River, enjoying the beauty of huge thunderheads rolling off to the south and the sky to the west turning pink and orange as the sun dipped to the horizon. As I lunged and squatted and dipped my way down the street I couldn't help but think how very majestic nature is to behold. It can sometimes be hard to focus on how majestic when you've just run up 38494972 stairs and your lungs are screaming for air and your thighs are screaming "what the fuck!?!"

Last night was the trifecta of difficult, too. Not only was yesterday the dreaded first day of my period, I frequently suffer from blinding headaches (another sign of hypothyroidism) and the one I had last night was a real pisser. Add to that some tummy trouble and the idea of going balls out in my work out was, shall we say, less than appealing. But I knew if I called and tried to whine that Lesley would tell me to get my butt in gear. No whining, no excuses. It paid off. The headache was more manageable after sweating it out last night and I feel fantastic this morning. That first step can be torturous though. Which is why I love working out with a  trainer. It's all about accountability, man. That's what this blog is about and that's what my work out partner is about. In addition to her correcting my bad form on lunges and benefiting from her creativity ("Here, hold these 3.5 pound balls above your head and walk up this steep hill") she also keeps me honest. While Lesley and I are friends, she's probably not going to drive over to my house, drag me out of bed, and shove a foot up my ass to get going.... but just knowing that I will disappoint her, that I will have to answer for my actions, helps me get going on those harder days. 

Yes, yesterday was a good day. All first days should be, eh? Lots of motivation and determination. Eating Paleo is never really all that hard. My partner made the most delicious baked chicken last night (he's a fantastic cook and supportive as all get out... I'm a lucky girl) and I hoovered that along with steamed broccoli, asparagus tossed in olive oil and garlic and pan fried, plus a small serving of carrots. I detest cooked carrots but I needed another color besides the green of my other two veggies so I forced myself to eat them. I did not get to the gym for an official weigh and measure to go with my before pics (which Lesley snapped last night and they are AWFUL!) so I'll get in there this morning. First challenge of the 'new' lifestyle.... I have a client meeting at 10am at Panera. I made this appointment before I made the decision to be done with the tempting tasty treats of life. Now, later when I'm at my goal weight and my body has stabilized, having one tasty treat at the old Bread Co. won't be a huge deal so long as it's an isolated incident and not an every day or even an every week occurrence. Unfortunately, day two is not the day to go there. Instead I'll be having black coffee with a little bit of cream and I'll be taking my own Stevia packets. Wish me luck (or strength of conviction, probably). 


Monday, June 4, 2012

One More Last Day

The blog is named after my propensity to start a diet.... tomorrow. One more last day of gluttony. One more last day of eating poorly. One more last day of making poor choices about the way I nourish my body....about my health.

My very last "last day" was yesterday. And I can say, with certainty, there is not one junk food, fast food, or bad food choice I want to put in my body right now. There isn't a food out there worth how poorly I have been feeling since topping 200 again.

Here's the facts as I know them:

  • I am 35 years old this fall
  • I have nine children who need me to be an active, vibrant part of their lives
  • I am the sole proprietor of a busy photography business that just leased it's first real, actual real estate. 
  • I strongly suspect my thyroid is in the process of giving up on me... even though my TSH levels are within normal range. I've had too many symptoms this past year to have it not be so... including gaining 20 very stubborn pounds that just with a low calorie diet and exercise. 
  • Right now, my thyroid symptoms have mysteriously vanished and my body seems willing to let some of this extra weight go. I am taking the opportunity to really go for it and lose the 70 pounds that have plagued me since I was 22. 
  • My reading and talking to others has led me to believe that a low carb/Paleo type eating style will benefit my possibly thyroid condition in addition to decreasing my body fat while supporting the muscle I plan to build. 
  • In the fall of 2010 I did a modified Paleo diet and exercised 5-6 days a week. I lost 25 pounds in 6 weeks and haven't felt that good since I quit. My goal here is to not quit, ever again, because I know it's the way my body should be fed in order to work at it's optimal level.
This is no longer about my weight or my body image... this has simply become about health. I do not want to be chronically ill for the next 35 years. I do not want to rely on pills and western medicine just to survive. I refuse to give up my vitality at my young age. I will not bow down to the Standard American Diet and the sickness that comes with it... 

Gentle reader, either real or in the confines of my imagination, you are here to bear my witness and keep me on the straight and narrow. Making good choices can be difficult but I've got two things going for me here:

I am ridiculously honest when I commit to something and I'm very easily embarrassed. 

If I know I will be forced to spill the naked truth here that I pigged out on cake and I've gained three pounds and I skipped a session with my personal trainer, I will be less likely to make those choices. I want the upcoming progress pics to show change-not that I've been sneaking and lazing and not getting it done like I said I would.

I expect there to be difficulties and pit falls and plateaus, but what I promise here is that I'm going to commit to 30 days of eating a healthy, modified Paleo diet. Modified in that I will consume some dairy (mainly greek yogurt in reasonable quantities) but still rich in plant matter and healthy animal protein. I will work out with my personal trainer (who likes to torment me- but in a good way) Lesley Elkins, twice a week in addition to engaging in physically challenging activities that I love the other five days of the week. These will include (but are not limited to!) hiking the bluffs surrounding my beautiful Mississippi River town, biking the river trails, swimming at my local gym, running/walking in my historic neighborhood, and camping/boating with my life partner. And then we'll see where I am on the birthday of my country, July 4th, and set new goals. 

Yesterday was my last last day, ever. Today has begun a new chapter, a new try, a new determination to take care of this body... the only one I will ever be blessed with in this life. Thank you for caring enough to read. :)