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Saturday, November 28, 2015

I May Bend But I Will Not Break

It amazes me how words can leave such a lasting impression on a person and the emotions they can evoke when we least expect it.

Good or bad.

Today, I was reminded of how one can be haunted by their past with a quick lash of the tongue. I won't reveal what was said or who said it, but the words were strong enough to transport me instantly back in time to the first moment I heard those five little words.

I felt like everything I have accomplished and have overcome in the past few years was nothing.

I felt shamed.

I felt ugly.

I felt like I was standing in that hallway all over again...listening to that boy I liked telling my friend "if only she were thinner." 

I was weakened.

And for a few hours, I couldn't help but feel a little defeated...

...a little devastated...

...a little sorry for myself.

The words were getting louder. "IF ONLY SHE WERE THINNER."

I got in my car and cried, uncontrollably, for several minutes.

The kind of crying where your eyes are swollen and bloodshot and you can't breathe because your nose is full of snot, and then you start to choke on that snot because it's dripping down the back of your throat.

I am not a pretty crier.

I pulled myself together enough to visit an encouraging friend. It was either that or shop. Not gonna almost trumped my friend but since it was Black Friday, I didn't want to face the crowds with all my snottiness.

After listening to what I'm sure sounded like the teacher from the Peanuts, my friend quietly reminded me that I am a strong woman and that all of my emotions will soon be in the past...(and that I should go home, not shop, and not drink).

Other words of wisdom were shared, and those five little words that had been haunting me for the past few hours were quickly replaced with five new ones, "You are a strong woman".

Yes. Yes, I am.

After a quick 15-minute pep talk, I was able to lift my head and wipe my tears away. 

I might have even managed a smile before I left.

On my drive home, those new words were pumping through my veins and my internal iPod started to play Helen Reddy's "I am Woman" in my head (thanks for owning that record when I was little Mom). My favorite verse from that 1975 song is:

You can bend but never break me
'Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul

I may bend, but I will not break.

I will use those words as fuel to my fire to achieve my goal.

I will be stronger.

I may have allowed myself to be temporarily weakened today, but I will not allow myself to be permanently defeated tomorrow. 

Let us all remember that we are masters of unspoken words but we are slaves to the ones we let slip out! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Let's talk about body fat! I know...good times. However, here me out...

There are two kinds of body fat: Essential and Storage. Essential body fat is necessary to maintain life and reproductive functions while Storage body fat protects internal organs in the chest and abdomen.

Body fat is important for transporting fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are important for our health. Fat is also a great shock absorber and serves as "human insulation" by assisting in the regulation of body temperature.

Although body composition refers to the relative percentage of muscle, fat, bone, and other tissue of body, it is almost exclusively associated with fat percentage. Even though I have a Body Composition Scale that gives me readings for body mass, body water %, body fat %, visceral fat, etc., I agreed (don't ask me how) to undergo Body Analytics through Hydrostatic Testing (where you are weighed underwater) to get a true base line for my body fat and lean body mass percentages.

It was a little intimidating to strip down to a bathing suit and then climb into what looks like a giant stainless steel bathtub while two people stood by and watched. I was even more nervous that I was going blind them with my glowing white legs. Nevertheless, I persevered and I did it...aaannnd I didn't burn the retinas of the man and woman performing the test.

The test didn't take very long and afterward I received a report that included my Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) in addition to the breakdown of my body fat and lean body mass.

The woman who explained the results to me was very encouraging. She asked me how many calories I was consuming per day and after I told her it was between 1,000 and 1,200, she said that if I want to increase my lean mass and reduce my body fat I need to take in between 800 and 1000 more. I was like, "wait...what?"

How often do you get to hear someone tell you that if you want to lose weight, you need to eat more?

Because I am working out every day, my body needs to fuel itself through food. Muscle is the engine that burns fuel. Fat needs to be burned by muscle. Cardio and resistance training helps burn fat and build muscles to that you can have a bigger engine to burn calories. The bigger the engine, the more calories you need to maintain it.

Even though I have been swapping fat for muscle these past few weeks, she said that will eventually come to an end and when it does, my body will use my muscle for energy instead of fat, which will eventually make my body fat percentage higher, even if the number on the scale is going down.

While the numbers from my Hydrostatic test were a little depressing, they are, in fact, the reality of what I have to deal with on my quest to rebuild my body. I won't share what my body fat percentage is just yet but I will say that I would like to reduce it by half...or rather...I will reduce it by at least half.

My mission now is to adjust my diet and meal schedule to accommodate the extra calories. Quality calories from good food sources.

I'm not worried though.

I've got this.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

No Diggity - No Doubt!

I think most people can relate to the frustrations of having a stall when it comes to the scale. Those "stalls" usually lead to people feeling like a failure and they give up.

My diet and exercise regime brought a weight loss of just under 20 pounds in the first three weeks. Woo Hoo!

However, this past week has brought a big fat Z.E.R.O.

Now, my diet has been on point and between my basal metabolic rate (BMR) and daily workouts, I know for a fact that I am burning more calories than I am taking in. It's at this point that most people start scoffing at their scale while yelling (screaming) "What the French...toast?"

Had I not already been in this situation previously, I would have been yelling profanities that would have put any sailor to shame. But, because I have been in this position before, I had to remember everything I had faced in the past and the reasons behind the dreaded "stall".

If my words can help anyone - pay attention because the following information is what gets me through my scale stalls.

First and foremost, a little BMR 101! To lose weight by diet alone, you want to eat less than your BMR (also known as your resting metabolic rate). Your BMR is the amount of energy needed to support the body's most basic functions when at rest in a neutral, or non-stressful, environment (a.k.a. the number of calories you need per day to stay alive). BMR can be responsible for 70% of the calories burned per day (just sitting there...doing nothing).

To calculate your BMR, click HERE.

Once you know the number of calories needed to maintain your weight, you can easily calculate the number of calories you need to eat in order to lose (or gain) weight.

One important tip to remember about BMR is that as you lose weight (increase activity, etc.), your BMR rate changes so it is extremely important to measure it often.

Next - 1 pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. Simply put - if you want to lose 1 pound a week (through diet alone), you need to reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories per day. It's that simple.

However - I am doing more than just dieting. In addition to my caloric reduction, I workout 7 (yes, seven) days a week. I climb between 94-102 flights of stairs and then I row for an hour, averaging 12,000 meters...every day.

Because I row on a resistance rowing machine, and am climbing the stairmaster, I am working the shiznit out of my thigh muscles. Side note (because that's what A.D.D. is for) - Most people think rowing works your arms but in reality, rowing is 70% legs, 20% abdominal, and 10% arms. Even as I type this, my thighs are on fire.

So why isn't the scale moving? This is where body composition gets a little complicated.

Since my body hasn't been trained in two years, it is hyper-responsive to resistance training right now. So much that I am actually building muscle while losing fat at the same time. Pound for pound.

I know this "honeymoon phase" will not last forever so I have to take advantage of this time while I have it. The more muscle I build, the faster my body will burn calories.

FACT: Muscles burn 5.5 times more calories than fat tissues.

Hello! It's a no brainer that we want more muscle than fat.

I have heard time and time again that muscle weighs more than fat. Truth be told...a pound weighs a pound regardless of what it is. Muscle just happens to be more dense than fat so it takes up much less space than "fluffy" fat. (reminds me of..."I'm not fat, I'm fluffy." Who else loves Gabriel Iglesias?)

This is why I can see a difference in how my clothes fit but why my scale isn't "moving". I'm losing fat but because I am gaining muscle, they are basically swapping places keeping my weight the same.

How do I know this? I have a body composition scale that in addition to telling me how much I weigh, it measures my muscle mass, body fat and water percentages, and provides me a daily caloric intake.

This information keeps me on track because if none of the numbers are moving, then I know I need to make adjustments elsewhere (including actually increasing my daily caloric intake because reducing by too much can make your body hold on to fat for survival and it will burn muscle for energy instead of fat).

I won't lie and say that the lack in reduction of my weight didn't sting a little because it does BUT I know that my body is changing for the better.

I can see it.

I can feel it.

I will continue to push myself beyond what I think my body is capable of doing because I AM getting stronger every day.

I do not doubt myself (or the process) because I have overcome this before...and won!

I've got this.

No doubt!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Droppin' "F" Bombs with a Smile

I was recently in Phoenix for work and during a group meeting we had an ice breaker to get to know one another. The topic of the ice breaker was, “If your life story was a movie genre, what would it be and why?”

Because I was part of the team who picked the ice breaker, I had a little time to prepare my response. I struggled with this because I wasn’t sure if I should be honest or lie to my co-workers. I discussed my anxiety over that with my co-presenters and because they know my story, they actually encouraged me to be open and honest…so I did.

When it was my turn, I said “I feel like my story would make for an epic award-winning, true crime, Dramedy.”

Of course, everyone’s ears perked up at the words “true crime”. I have been with this company for 16 years now and I can count on one hand how many know my story.

My dad went to prison when I was three. He didn’t get out until I was 12 so I basically grew up visiting him in various prison facilities. To me, this was normal and I didn’t see anything wrong with it.

He lived a “rockstar” life when he got out of prison and didn’t take very good care of himself.

He was an alcoholic. He was a drug addict.

He was an abusive man. I walked in on him beating up my step mom one night.

I called the police.

He went to jail, again. Only for four months but it was long enough for my dad’s side of the family to turn on me. I was told, “you don’t turn your family members in.”

This became my “normal”.

Because of this I found myself attracted to men who had a “bad boy” image which led me into relationships with men who led a true criminal lifestyle. You may remember me discussing how I drove my behind all over the state of Washington in a previous post.

I also came out of a very violent marriage where being held at gunpoint, knifepoint, being choked out, and having things thrown at me was a constant. I accepted this behavior because to me it was normal.

It took me MANY years and one divorce to learn from my mistakes but trust me when I say that I am over it.

My dad passed away when he was 50. His lifestyle had caught up with him.
In high school, I learned that everything happens for a reason. We may not ever know what the reason is but I do know that God puts us where he wants us.

In my senior year of high school, my best friend and I drove to her boyfriend’s house because he wasn’t answering her calls. When we got there, they started arguing. We weren’t there very long when she stormed out of his bedroom and said we were leaving.

We got into her car and we sped off. She was driving at a very high rate of speed down dark and curvy roads.

He was chasing us.

She refused to stop.

We hit a curve going 85 miles an hour and she lost control of the car.

I don’t remember much after that.

The police told me that we flipped the car end over end four times down an embankment on the opposite side of the road.

She wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

My best friend died that night. A big part of my heart died with her.

As I previously mentioned, her boyfriend was chasing us. Because I don’t remember anything in the minutes before we wrecked, the police couldn’t determine if he was at fault.

I believe in karma. Fast forward five years later – he gets into a head on collision with a tree. He is now paralyzed.
I was diagnosed with a kidney disease when I was 30. Approximately 30% of the filters in my kidneys are destroyed (scar tissue has grown over the glomeruli). I am prone to kidney infections, especially when I get a cold or the flu. They are also easily irritated and get inflamed which causes extreme pain.

The doctors say I can live the rest of my life with my kidneys if I can continue to manage their behavior but there may come a day when a transplant is needed.

Because my disease is an autoimmune disorder, I am susceptible to other autoimmune and autonomic disorders. After ten years, this caught up with me in a big way and now I have a heart disease and hypothyroidism (see previous post where I discuss this).
Yes, that is a lot of drama so why did I refer to my life as a Dramedy movie genre?

Laughter. If my life were a movie, I would make sure there was a lot of humor to lighten the darkness of the drama.

I find that when it comes to dealing with pain, drama, or shady people, laughter gets me through.

I am that annoying person that looks at the positive in everything.

Two years ago, I was sitting in the ER waiting room with excruciating pain in my abdomen and all I could do was giggle.

I think I laughed the most at the fact that it felt like labor pains but I knew it wasn’t because I had a hysterectomy 12 years prior.

Every time the pain hit, I just laughed. I thought for sure the doctor was going to come in and tell me that it was just gas. No joke.

You can imagine the look on my face when the doctor came in and said they needed to take me into emergency surgery because my appendix was about to blow.

So, what does this life story movie business have to do with my weight loss journey?

Nothing. Other than the fact that I let myself slip back into a few old habits and forgot to not take my slip up so seriously.

I am back in the gym and loving every minute of it.

I laugh through the pain of my blistered hands from rowing.

I laugh when my thighs are so stiff it hurts just to get in and out of the car. I have also dropped a few "F" bombs because of this but I say it with a smile - so to me, that's OK!

I laugh because crying gets me no where.

I may not have overcome things as serious as others but the fact that I have come out from some very dark places in my life and I still have a smile on my face says a lot.

Laugh on my friends! Your situation is what you make it.
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