About Suicide… Addressing Matt Walsh on Robin Williams

I have to say that I have never liked Matt Walsh’s blog. Hesadness-701907-m comes across as so very unforgiving and uncaring about people who do whatever it is he’s currently bashing. He seems so black and white and hateful in his rhetoric it is irritating. I seriously feel upset and sick inside when I read his blog, even though I might tangentially agree with what he’s talking about. I just can’t handle it. (I feel this way about a lot of talking heads.) His experiences seem to be the only ones that matter and mean anything; who cares about what others feel and think and have experienced on the subject? There’s no leniency from him.

It really upset me when I saw his blog about Robin Williams though.

Yeah, I guess you have a “choice” when you commit suicide, but when the choice seems to be between a world where you are a burden on people who seem to no longer love and care for you, where you are in agony and despair because you know you are useless and can’t do anything right and everything is going wrong and it all seems like it will never get better … While on the other hand you have what seems like a way to release your family and friends from having to deal with you and your uselessness as well as have peace in your mind… The choice is distorted and weighted the opposite way you would think. It takes immense strength to choose not to die in that moment. Everything seems to tell you it’s the right thing, to leave this world, and it can be incredibly hard to not go through with it.

downloadOn top of that, Robin was believed to have bipolar disorder, which carries somewhere around twice the risk of suicide as unipolar depression, a different beast than Matt intimates he suffers from. There is a much higher risk (as we see in Robin’s life) of substance abuse and such things that bring even more crushing guilt and feelings of uselessness and impaired judgement.

Just because Matt has in the past chosen not to commit suicide doesn’t mean he will always be that way. When an episode is bad enough, a person who has been lucid and had time to think enough to say no in the past may drop past the level where they can no longer make any sort of choice and, unlike in depression where often people don’t have the drive to carry anything out and so have time to talk themselves out of it, people with bipolar in a mixed state feel a pressure from their mind and an energy (it’s almost a compulsion) to do something about their agony. But, you know, since Matt hasn’t committed suicide yet, I guess nobody has a real reason to do so. It’s just cause, y’know, they don’t have joy in their soul.

Ouch.

Yes, I have a soul and it has its own unique qualities and abilities and my soul has power over my body and mind, but it doesn’t have complete control over my asthma, my hypothyroid or my bipolar disorder. My asthma could kill me just as certainly as my bipolar disorder could in the right circumstances, but with both I do my best to use medication to keep them from taking over my body and doing so. 

I don’t expect everyone with cancer is those peppy happy fighters we hear about all the time, where nothing ever gets them down and they pass away with a smile on their face. Just because some people with cancer live their lives that way doesn’t mean that those who don’t, haven’t tried or can’t or aren’t as good of a person as the ones who do. We all struggle differently and we all have circumstances and turns of events that others don’t know the full extent of. I try my best never to judge people for this reason. I have no idea what’s going on in their hearts and minds.

Anyway, people who are in the depths of depression should certainly not get the impression that suicide is the answer. It’s not. (And if you are one who is struggling with it now, don’t do it. Things will get better if you wait it out. Someone does love you and will be crushed if you were to die. The world does need you and knows you more than you think it does.) The idea comes from distorted thinking that is yes, chemical (as a person with bipolar disorder you can see the chemical pattern more clearly, it is like a light switch on a timer going from light to dark rather than a random event), though you can sometimes teach your brain to rewire to an extent with therapy and practice but sometimes/often needs augmentation with chemicals.

When someone is depressed, they don’t need to buck up and see the blessings they have and just “be joyful”, they need to be looked at in the eye and told they are needed, loved and that you would personally be crushed if they were lost, and they need to know you are sincere. And then they need help from a professional, if they are contemplating suicide… And hopefully you will try to help make sure they follow through if you really do care. Stay with them if you can.

All that said, if someone does commit suicide that you love and you didn’t stop it (it’s ok if you were fearful or didn’t know or couldn’t be there or think you said or didn’t say something), you can’t hold the blame. You did the best you could and you can’t force people to do what you want them to do, especially when they aren’t thinking right. 

That’s all of my ramblings for now! Just had to get that off of my chest.

Just for reference, my grandmother suffered from bipolar disorder (she did not stay on medication) and crushed everyone when she committed suicide despite seeming to “have it all”.

Realistic Weight Loss

Image Before I even start, read this article: http://m.runnersworld.com/weight-loss/incredible-weight-loss-myths-exposed?page=single

This information is really good and really accurate. Keep it in mind as you read on.

Having been successful at weight loss in the past, and being an obsessive researcher, I thought I’d share with all you all New Years Resolutioners how to do this thing. Not through magic diet pills, detoxes or juice cleanse, just through old fashioned work.

I’m working on weight loss myself again. With my recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder, came a lot of lack of motivation, fogginess in the brain, hard time remembering and sticking to things and lack of energy. I was put on a medication called Lithium, a natural substance that generally works very well at helping bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of this medication came in the form of TSH (Thyroid hormone) levels three times what they should have been, putting me in the unfortunate position of dealing with the effects of hypothyroid. These just added on to the effects of my bipolar disorder. In the end, it means I gained a bunch of weight and wanted to be a slug for the rest of my life.

Anyway, long story short, longer – I’m on thyroid medication now and on a different mood stabilizer and anti-depressant (Geodon and Wellbutrin, for those who care) and sugar makes me want to vomit(?!?). It seems to be a weird side effect of one of the meds, and I’m not complaining complaining a lot. My brain is finally starting to feel better. I can tell because I’m making something called Bouillabaisse for dinner this week, I’m writing a blog post, and I started writing my novel again. Yay for that!

I also learned this week that all forms of hormonal birth control turn me into a really aggressive person who wants to punch people. I don’t know why, since I’m pretty much a very passive person that hates yelling and violence and anger, but BC turns me into the Hulk, except for I’m not green and bulky. Sucky. My only other options, besides the old standby, are sterilization and Paragard, both of which cost way too much money. Thanks, Obama (sarcasm).

Ok, I swear, I’m done with the life story.

Before I start this, I must note that I am a cheap person. And this is why I use this as opposed to going to a crossfit box or whatever. I would love to do crossfit, but it is REALLY expensive.

So, on to HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT FOR CHEAP ACCORDING TO ME AND SCIENCE:

Commitment

is the number one thing. You need to make a plan, then commit that you’ll do the steps no matter what the results. It’s the habit that matters, the weight loss sometimes takes quite a while. Don’t plan to lose 30 lbs; plan to run for 30 minutes 3 times a week and lift weights and count your calories. Specific habit goals. Set a reminder on your phone. I know you have one that will let you set alarms. I use an app called “Life Reminders” which is ugly and makes awful alarm noises (which, I suppose I could change, but the awful noises make me move faster and also I am lazy), but which reminds me on a schedule that I need to take my meds, set up appointments, go to the gym, whatever.

Smart Workouts Where You Push Yourself

I’ve recently discovered a thing called HIIT which when I started doing it was the worst thing ever, it seemed like, but now I realize that it’s actually really awesome. Instead of plodding along at an 11 minute mile pace for time immeasurable, I warm up for 10 minutes, jog slowly for 90 seconds and then run as fast as I can for 30 seconds. Then I repeat until 20 minutes is up. Then I cool down. I’ve done HIIT twice and I’m already seeing that my jog speed and my fastest run speed are going up. And it is WAY more interesting than endurance running, though it is tough to get used to. HIIT can be done with the cardio activity of your choice, not just running. Jump rope, cycling, etc all work too.

Treadmills at the gym usually have an option to do speed training, which is what HIIT is. It will let you put in your jog speed (you can even walk instead of jog, it’s still ok) and then your run speed (as fast as you think you can run for fifteen seconds when you’re starting out) and you just press the button to toggle. There are some HIIT apps that will tell you when to press the button (or run faster/slower if you’re outside) and now that I think about it, I should get one so I don’t have to stare at the time display while I’m trying to watch Firefly on my phone. Hmm.

ImageHere’s an article, geared toward guys, but still good info, about how HIIT helps you burn more calories than endurance running EVEN WHEN YOU’RE DONE EXERCISING FOR THE DAY. This is something that really does “kickstart your metabolism” (unlike a juice cleanse… yuck.) It also builds muscle, where endurance running does not. And also, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn walking around. It’s fantastic.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ultimate-8-week-hiit-for-fat-burning-program.html

The website has a nice program for beginners, intermediate, etc too. It’s geared toward men, but don’t let that put you off if you’re a woman. You’re not going to turn into a creepily muscular woman if you do HIIT. You will never produce enough testosterone to look like a man just because you ran too much or lifted too heavy.
If you choose to endurance run, which is fine, just make sure that every day you are pushing yourself and increasing your speed or distance, whatever suits your fancy. Otherwise your body stops burning as many calories as it was when you first started running and the fat burn stops.

This will help you lose more fat than running in the supposed “fat burn heart rate zone”. That does indeed use fat as fuel, but in higher intensities, your body burns the carbs you’ve eaten instead as fuel, then later moves on to the fat. You will lose more fat by burning more calories through the same amount of HIIT, than by running in the “Fat Burn Zone”. See this article for more info.

http://m.runnersworld.com/weight-loss/incredible-weight-loss-myths-exposed?page=single

THE MYTH:
EXERCISE IN THE FAT-BURNING ZONE

THE TRUTH:
The “fat-burning zone” lies between 50 and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. When you exercise at this low intensity, your body draws energy from fat. As your heart rate goes up, more energy comes from carbs. So it seems logical that to lose fat you should keep your heart rate low, says Jason Karp, Ph.D., owner of Runcoachjason.com. But that’s not the case.

“Running at higher intensities causes you to burn a lower percentage of fat calories in favor of carbs,” says Karp, “but you use more total calories.” And that’s the key to slimming down. Plus, since you torch more total calories, the absolute amount of fat burned actually increases, too. So it pays to pick up the pace.

Of course, lower intensity exercise still has its place. Long, slow runs build aerobic fitness and endurance. But to kickstart a pokey metabolism, you need intensity. Karp suggests interval training (condensed runs that mix in intense efforts with recovery) because studies have found these workouts burn more calories during and after exercise (see “Torch Calories” below for Karp’s interval workout). “It also cuts down on boredom,” he says, “which makes it more likely you’ll stick with your program.”

 

Weight Lifting

ImageIncorporate weight lifting into your routine. It strengthens and builds your muscles, which help you burn more fat and helps you look toned. Lift as much or as little as you want, you’ll never look like a manly woman by lifting weights. You have to take testosterone supplements to look like those people. It also strengthens your bones, which is good for when you are old and whatnot.

This website is my favorite for weight lifting info. You can read through all the information if you want to learn how weight lifting affects men and women and what benefits it has, or you can just look at this page that I’ve linked to for a good beginning routine. This is the routine I use and I like it a lot. He has intermediate and harder ones set up as well. You will want to look on Youtube to see how to properly lift and start with low weight while you’re learning proper form.

http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/the-beginner-weight-training-workout-routine/

Eating Right

ImageI have a huge amount of disdain for “diets”. They are generally fads that will, in ten years when we look back, be silly. Yes, even you, Paleo. People latch onto diets, juice cleanses, detoxes, etc because they are in vogue, not because there’s actual science behind them. I know, high protein diets are fashionable right now, but low-fat ones were fashionable ten years ago and now most science tells us that was stupid. And we all know what happened with the cabbage soup and grapefruit diets… (My mom made us do the grapefruit diet eating as a kid because it was “healthy” and I will never forget the horrificness of it)

This page again:

http://m.runnersworld.com/weight-loss/incredible-weight-loss-myths-exposed?page=single

THE MYTH:
TO LOSE WEIGHT, CUT CARBS OR FAT

THE TRUTH:
Most get-thin-fast plans revolve around the idea that restricting your intake of one particular nutrient, usually carbs or fat, is the best way to lose weight. But the results of a 2009 New England Journal of Medicine study suggest otherwise. For two years, participants followed one of four calorie-restricted diets with varying amounts of carbs, protein, and fat. After 24 months, all participants lost about the same amount of weight (just nine pounds). “This study proves that calories are the most important factor for weight loss,” says Tara Gidus, R.D., a Florida-based sports dietitian and marathoner. “To lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you burn—regardless of what percentage of carbs, protein, or fat you’re eating.” Gimmicky diets just distract us from this simple truth. Here’s how runners can learn to reduce their total caloric intake to kick start weight loss—and still have energy to run their best.

1 FIND YOUR CALORIE BURN
To estimate the number of calories you use during daily living and exercise, go to nutritiondata.com/tools/caloriesburned. Plug in your sex, age, weight, height, lifestyle (meaning, you’re deskbound, or you’re always moving at work), and exercise regularity.

2 START SUBTRACTING
Trim 10 to 15 percent off of that calorie total—but don’t cut more than 500 calories per day. “This is conservative compared to most diets, but it’s realistic if you want to sustain training,” says Gidus. Record what you eat, and tally your calorie intake with the huge database at nutritiondata.com.

3 KEEP UP THE EXERCISE
A recent study reported that subjects who cut calories or cut calories and exercised lost the same amount of weight. But the diet-and-exercise group improved their aerobic capacity, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, and blood pressure—without having to go into starvation mode.

4 BE PATIENT
Gidus says a healthy weight-loss goal for overweight runners is one to two pounds a week. “Trying to drop more than this can eat away at muscle, leave you fatigued when you run, and slow your metabolism, making weight loss more challenging,” she says.

 

Cut calories. That’s IT. It’s a simple as that. Eat fewer calories than you are burning and your body will use fat as fuel. I use MyFitnessPal on my phone to keep track of my percentages and vitamins and calories. There are other good apps though, or pencil and paper if you don’t want to be fancy. Get a food scale to really help you learn how to measure calories in a portion.

And carbs are not your enemy. There’s a reason why the top athletes out there (Michael Phelps… boy, he’s sure a fatty) eat lots of pancakes on race day. Carbs are fuel for your muscles. It’s the calories that matter for weight loss.

If you want to cut calories by drinking juice or taking detox pills, I guess you can, just realize that juice/pills do not “detox” your body or “kickstart weight loss” (please, find me an actual scientific study that says it does. And no, an article on Natural News doesn’t count as a scientific study.), it deprives your body of important nutrients and makes you feel sick and makes you lose water weight, which they call detoxing, but is not. It’s a placebo. And no, that weight you lost was not sustainable. It’s also really bad for your insulin levels. Sugar from any source without fiber and fat to temper it will cause your insulin to spike.

Here’s a great op-ed on the whole detox thing:

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-detox-scam-how-to-spot-it-and-how-to-avoid-it/

Now, this does mean you can conceivably lose weight by eating only a half a box of Oreos every day and nothing else. (I have done this.) But you won’t feel good.

Feeling good is a different thing entirely from weight loss and what you eat doesn’t help you lose weight, it’s really really how much you eat. IF you want to feel good AND lose weight, then follow this plan:

ImageYou generally want to try to cut out sugar entirely if you can, or to a reasonable amount every day (this is my biggest hurdle. It’s easier for me to cut sugar out and get it out of the house than to limit it, honestly. Sugar is really really a useless empty thing that just makes you gain weight and makes you feel happy temporarily. And it’s SO ADDICTIVE). Then, according to reliable sources (including, but not limited to, the government’s and any real nutritionist’s health guidelines as well as http://m.runnersworld.com/weight-loss/incredible-weight-loss-myths-exposed?page=single) , eat 50-55% of your calories in healthy carbs, homemade whole grains, beans, VEGETABLES, FRUIT, etc. (Unrelatedly, did you know apples have natural fluoride in them and keep your teeth healthy and the fiber cleans your teeth off? This interests me, so I thought I’d share. Apples are nature’s toothbrushes.)

25-30% of calories in fats. Nuts, extra virgin olive oil, some saturated fats like butter, egg yolks, whatever, as long as it’s within your calorie goal. No trans fats.

15 to 25% of calories in protein. Protein is good for you, but too much is not good for you. Keep it in range. Some people have good results with higher amounts of protein, but really, you don’t need to eat a whole ton of meat to be healthy. I’m a mostly non-tofu-eating vegetarian and am able to lose weight and build muscle just fine (you should try leg wrestling me some time. Also, I can lift a lot more than most of the women also lifting at the gym). I eat about 15% protein through occasional eggs and dairy, mostly beans and quinoa and stuff like that, without even trying. My levels of iron, b-12, etc, etc (‘cept my thryroid) are fine, even when I’m not on supplements.

If you are a meat eater, try venturing into the scary land of making bone broth (bone marrow is really good for you and if you don’t think about it too much, it tastes good) and eating occasional organ meats, which are also very good for you. Of course, eating fish (best for you) and chicken is good, and red meat is fine too. It doesn’t really matter because you shouldn’t be eating a lot of meat every day so it doesn’t make that much difference what type of meat you eat. I mean, really, cut down on your meat consumption. Especially if it’s fast food meat. Yuck.

And those are really my points, here. I hope this helps someone out there.🙂 Good luck to you! Stick to your goals no matter what! You can do this!
Cheers,

Christina

 

My Bipolar Experience – World Mental Health Day

I’m not especially good at writing personal narratives, but I feel like I should share my experience with bipolar disorder. Today is World Mental Health Day and as I’ve considered writing this blog post in the past, today seemed like a good day to do it. I am hoping that it will help you to understand bipolar disorder a little better. Maybe get rid of some stigmas. Maybe help somebody who has been struggling with something similar. Or maybe none of these things will happen, because I’m just a romantic.

People tend to skip over things on their Facebook feeds about mental health, I’ve noticed. It’s easily dismissed in our culture for some reason, like it’s imaginary or as ridiculous as the ideas of the wingnut birther friend you have. It’s sad that we feel this way, as 1 out of every 4 people has at least a brush with a mental health problem. From anxiety to schizophrenia, you know someone who has one of these issues of the mind. And they’re not imaginary.

I’ll be telling you about just one of these mental illnesses. Bipolar Disorder.

Let me give you some background here. The earliest advent of bipolar disorder in my family, that I know of, was with my great-grandmother – Sylvia. She was committed to a mental hospital at a young age, so presumably she had Bipolar I, perhaps with psychosis, if it was bad enough to be committed. I don’t know. Apparently, back then there wasn’t good enough treatment for her to remain free. I can only imagine how hellish that was for her, as being committed was pretty much like being in jail. For the rest of your life. Her daughter, also named Sylvia, was adopted to another family. I’m not sure if it was related to great-grandmother’s mental illness or not, but probably.

My grandmother, Sylvia, was diagnosed bipolar as well. She took lithium for it, but either it didn’t work well enough or she went off of it, as she had some troubles with the disorder (she was bipolar I, I will explain more about what happens with the disorder later) and eventually, when I was a young girl of about 4 years old, took her own life. Devastating to everyone.

My own mother went through much of my young life thinking she had depression. She took medication for it, but this did not help very much. When you have bipolar disorder, taking depression medication alone can aggravate your condition, instead of helping it. She was often tired, she had a hard time dealing with it and was eventually hospitalized for it several times. Finally, when I was a teenager, they put her on lithium (a mood stabilizer) and it helped a lot. She eventually went on to have ECT and has changed medications and is just now starting to feel completely better.

Now here’s a description of bipolar disorder.

There are two types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I and II.

Bipolar means that your moods have “episodes” that are manic or depressive. For most people, this means a few times a year, they will have a period of a few weeks where they are manic and a few more weeks where they are depressive, or for most of the year they are depressive, with bouts of manic moods, or vice versa, but their moods don’t swing often. If they aren’t having an episode they are normal. For some people, like me, who have rapid cycling bipolar, they have mood swings every few weeks or days. For a few days, I would be manic, then for a week, depressive.

Here’s a good description from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

Signs & Symptoms

People with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods called “mood episodes.” Each mood episode represents a drastic change from a person’s usual mood and behavior. An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode. Sometimes, a mood episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression. This is called a mixed state. People with bipolar disorder also may be explosive and irritable during a mood episode.

Extreme changes in energy, activity, sleep, and behavior go along with these changes in mood. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are described below.

Symptoms of mania or a manic episode include:

Symptoms of depression or a depressive episode include:

Mood Changes

  • A long period of feeling “high,” or an overly happy or outgoing mood
  • Extreme irritability

Behavioral Changes

  • Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted
  • Increasing activities, such as taking on new projects
  • Being overly restless
  • Sleeping little or not being tired
  • Having an unrealistic belief in one’s abilities
  • Behaving impulsively and engaging in pleasurable, high-risk behaviors

Mood Changes

  • An overly long period of feeling sad or hopeless
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.

Behavioral Changes

  • Feeling tired or “slowed down”
  • Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  • Being restless or irritable
  • Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
  • Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.

Bipolar disorder can be present even when mood swings are less extreme. For example, some people with bipolar disorder experience hypomania, a less severe form of mania. During a hypomanic episode, you may feel very good, be highly productive, and function well. You may not feel that anything is wrong, but family and friends may recognize the mood swings as possible bipolar disorder. Without proper treatment, people with hypomania may develop severe mania or depression.

Bipolar disorder may also be present in a mixed state, in which you might experience both mania and depression at the same time. During a mixed state, you might feel very agitated, have trouble sleeping, experience major changes in appetite, and have suicidal thoughts. People in a mixed state may feel very sad or hopeless while at the same time feel extremely energized.

Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression has psychotic symptoms too, such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to reflect the person’s extreme mood. For example, if you are having psychotic symptoms during a manic episode, you may believe you are a famous person, have a lot of money, or have special powers. If you are having psychotic symptoms during a depressive episode, you may believe you are ruined and penniless, or you have committed a crime. As a result, people with bipolar disorder who have psychotic symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed with schizophrenia.

People with bipolar disorder may also abuse alcohol or substances, have relationship problems, or perform poorly in school or at work. It may be difficult to recognize these problems as signs of a major mental illness.

Bipolar disorder usually lasts a lifetime. Episodes of mania and depression typically come back over time. Between episodes, many people with bipolar disorder are free of symptoms, but some people may have lingering symptoms.

For me, a stressful period of time just this last year triggered it, so I’m a late diagnosis. One day I would feel great. I would be super happy and excited and the world would be beautiful and my kids so cute and I would get a hundred things done and I was super mom and I loved everyone and I’d buy all the things that we needed and I’d try to get Andrew to let me do things like renovate the kitchen and I couldn’t sleep at night because my mind was going a mile a minute and I was obsessed with researching random things and yes, maybe TMI, but sex was prominently on my mind and every man was attractive (yes. this is embarrassing, but now that I know that it was the manic period talking, I will share this even though it’s hard to. I felt extremely guilty about this, but couldn’t seem to make it go away, no matter what strategies I tried.😛 )

Then a few days later, I would be so tired and the day would drag. I’d want to sleep all day and I’d take several naps if I could get my children to play outside. I seriously hated my children, my life, and sometimes my husband and would think about things like adopting out my kids or divorcing over Andrew not doing the dishes (WHAT????? YES. IT MAKES NO SENSE.) I’d want to disappear or in some cases, think about/plan suicide (not every time I had a depressive period, just sometimes). I couldn’t remember common words that I knew that I knew, 4 or 5  or more times through the day. I couldn’t remember names of people I knew. I had a hard time explaining anything or staying on track when I was describing things. I couldn’t remember hardly anything about the day previously. I couldn’t focus on reading. I would be mean to everyone and snap at them or spank them for things I normally wouldn’t. I did force myself to take care of my kids with food and diaper changes and stuff, but beyond that hardly anything. I would read my scriptures and pray a lot during the depressive periods, but heard nothing. Felt nothing. Was pretty sure God hated me or, more probably, just didn’t exist since I was doing what I was supposed to and there was nothing. I was praying to figure out what was wrong.

And I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I kept researching brain fog and thought maybe my eating or exercising habits needed to be changed… I was exercising three days a week though, eating a healthy vegetarian diet, and had been for a year. And then, one day, after book club, I was chatting with my friend about things (I was in a depressive period) and the subject of bipolar disorder came up, as she was dealing with it. I asked her some questions about how she felt during the episodes. A light dawned. Waaaaaaaiiiiiiiit a second, my mom has bipolar disorder. Her mom and grandma had bipolar disorder. My sister and brother had bipolar disorder. OH. Yeah, your brain does not work or make connections very well, when you’re in the midst of the disorder (it felt like my problem solving abilities had gone out the window). I looked it up on the internet. Check. Check. Check. Yep, bipolar II (that means your episodes aren’t as extreme as someone with bipolar I. Like, I didn’t go seek out an affair, or spend $1000 on a dress or actually carry out my plans for suicide or anything. Instead, I just was eyeing random guys despite the fact that I adore my husband and he’s fantastic, and spending hundreds of dollars on things we “needed” for the house and planning suicide). Also, this was a direct answer to my prayers. I seriously was getting to the point where I was for reals done with it all and just at the right time, my friend helped me see what I needed.

And this is why watching your friends/spouses for signs of disorders is important. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do when you’re having mental problems. You feel like it’s probably something you’re doing wrong, that you can fix without help. You feel guilty about your behavior and worried. You know that most people think that people just don’t try hard enough to self-help and they just go on meds for a crutch. A simple word from a friend, a kind suggestion to “have you seen a psychiatrist to see if they can help you out? My friend knows a good one…” can go A LONG way. Or if you struggle with a disorder, not being afraid to mention it. So others know they’re not alone.

So anyway, now came the hard part. I didn’t want to have bipolar. I thought my mom had it because she didn’t exercise, or eat right, or go outside enough or cooperate with the therapists she’d seen. Or she didn’t read her scriptures and pray enough. Or whatever. It was totally curable with fish oil, sunshine, exercise, therapy and proper food intake, right? And it went away, right? After some research, I realized that it was actually 99% a lifetime disorder. That people get the idea after they’re on medication that they don’t need it anymore because they feel fine. And then they swing into a major depressive episode and kill themselves. Yeeeeaaah. Never ever ever ever ever imply that anyone on medication should go off it. Their doctor and them alone are the judges of that. It’s ok to make suggestions of augmentation (Do you want to come running with me? This MIGHT make your medicine work better!) but you can do some real damage implying that something will “cure” what they have or they don’t need the meds.

And so, I learned that having a good diet will help some medications work better, but not all. Exercise just means you need to make sure you drink more water so you don’t get a lithium overdose. That therapy is nigh on useless (yeah, that was upsetting) because bipolar depression has to do with your prefrontal cortex being small. With salts and neurons not working together right. With circadian rhythms being off. Not hormonal imbalances and things happening in your life to make you depressed (like most unipolar depression, for which generally the things I’ve listed help.)

Here’s a comparison for you.

Regular depression = broken leg

Bipolar = missing leg

Broken legs are put in a cast (medication) to help support the leg as it heals. For some, the cast comes off after a period and the leg is healed. For some, they need physical therapy (… therapy) to strengthen the leg. Some few may need pins/metal put in the leg permanently or never be able to fix the leg entirely and so need crutches/wheelchair (permanent medication). They eat good food to help the leg heal. They exercise to keep it strong. Their leg can be healed permanently sometimes. They might get a broken leg again in the future of course, because you can’t always fix it forever. But often, there is some relief and some hope of never having it again.

Missing legs are gone. You cannot use physical therapy on a missing leg. You cannot exercise a missing leg. You cannot eat good food and grow back your missing leg. It will be gone forever. You have to find a prosthetic (medication) if you want to walk. You will try on several prosthetics. One might be too short. One might be too long. One might give you a rash. One might make you fall down every three months. One might fit just right, but it falls apart after a little while. You might have to put it on while laying on your back to make it fit. Once you find one that mostly works, after a while you might think, I don’t need this prosthetic! And then you fall down and break your other leg.

So anyway, that’s why bipolar is a different beast than depression. My doctor and a few of his assistants were talking to me about therapy, because I was like… wait, can’t I get therapy, just like with unipolar depression? Who’s a good therapist? And they all said, no. You can go to understand the disorder and to recognize when you’re having an episode, but that’s it. One of the assistants told me that in school, a psychiatrist came to talk to them and he was explaining that even as a psychiatrist you can talk to a bipolar all day long, run through exercises and stuff and it changes nothing. They’ll still basically go home feeling the way they did already and kill themselves.

I really really want to mention that telling someone with depression or bipolar disorder that they would feel better if they read their scriptures and say their prayers is a cruel cruel thing to do. It makes them feel like they’re just not good enough for God, and that’s not the case. And you do not “feel better”, by the way. My mom had a doctor tell her this once, and that was devastating (she was already doing those things). For me, the help came from a friend, not any sort of spiritual revelation while praying, and also, when I needed it most, a talk in General Conference about mental disorders that was exactly the right thing. And a Priesthood blessing, coupled with medication, pulled me into a good place. But it had to be direct, because it seems like that spiritual reception antenna is broken in the midst of these episodes. And not everyone will even have that sort of thing happen.

Currently I’m taking lithium (a mood stabilizer) with wellbutrin (an anti-depressant… ok, when taken with a mood stabilizer). Luckily, they seem to mostly be working. They might work for a long time. They might not. It’s really hard to say. They don’t permanently fix the problem even if they are working, because you can still go through depressive/manic cycle… it generally makes them milder and further apart.

One thing that sucks is considering having a baby when you have bipolar disorder. Going off your medication is a bad idea. The stress the bipolar cycling puts on the baby is not a good thing, along with uh, yeah, the chance of suicide. If you’re not on meds after you have the baby, you can have postpartum psychosis (people with psychosis are generally those mothers who end up killing their infants. Yes, they generally have a treatable disorder that no one noticed or was too scared to do anything about. Not to say everyone with psychosis does that… the lady on the news who thought President Obama was talking to her and rammed into the barrier probably had bipolar with psychosis, and she had a one year old.) You need to stay on meds. However, many of the medications can cause problems with a developing baby, so you have to switch to a safer one – which may or may not work as well. Being on an antidepressant while I’m pregnant scares me, as there is some evidence that it is linked with autism (which also appears in my family). And nursing while taking medication is a worry too, as is waking up with the baby every night, which can trigger manic episodes. Also, passing on bipolar disorder to your children is a worry, but I’m glad I was born, even if I do have bipolar disorder to work through. Every child you give birth to will have challenges of one sort or another and at least this one is treatable.

So anyway, be aware that mental illness can seem bizarre and scary and untouchable by you, but we need your support. Your love and help. We don’t know what’s going on either, and so a kind word and a helping hand can be such a comfort when everyone seems to draw away. And I hope this doesn’t scare you away from me. I’m much better now that I’m on meds, and I’m happy again.🙂 So please be my friend, even though I’m crazy!

Kitchen Upgrade!

Before I start, I wanted to make a shout out to my brother, Zen, who helped me figure out the hard parts of my kitchen. He helped frame and drywall the pantry and helped put in the cabinets and counters and did all the lighting and outlet wiring installaton. We couldn’t have done it without him. I’m lucky to have such a smart brother!

And thank you to the rest of my family who came down and helped with various projects and especially Kyrra who came down everyday for like two weeks to help me do stuff (so much caulking…) and take care of the kids. I have the best family ever!

And last but not least, my husband did a lot of the really dirty work of crawling under the house and in the ceiling and of course helping with everything else. He’s super awesome (and handsome.)

And now on to the pictures!🙂

So when I bought my house five years ago, the biggest thing that I loved was the kitchen. It was huge compared to other homes we had looked at and it looked like luxury to me. Here is a picture of it:

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Well anyway, over time I realized that the kitchen was REALLY OLD (the hood vent didn’t work, the fan was falling off the ceiling, old chipping laminate countertops and a chipped cast iron sink and there was a thirty year old compactor in there) and so I convinced Andrew to let me rip it up.

And we really ripped it up… We tore out everything except the stove. And now I really do love it.🙂 I’d say 70% of the work was done by me alone. I dragged cabinets in and out. Ripped them off the wall. Painted. Put in the floor (I had to level it with self-leveler and that was a giant, fun, mess). Mudded the pantry (WORST. THING. EVER.) Cut shelves and supports and trim and drilled and screwed and glued and cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned. The pantry was the hardest and most expensive thing, but it is SO awesome. However, pretty much everything was really hard and had complications. So worth it though.

 

But anyway, THE KITCHEN.

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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 Things I love about my kitchen: My microwave is in the pantry instead of taking up counter space. Pantry. Tall new faucet and deep single basin stainless sink. Pot rack. Island counterspace! No more gap between the stove and the counters! My stick-vac is also in the pantry. And also it’s just brighter and nicer and stuff!

Where did I get things?

Pot rack, all countertops – IKEA
Lights – Home depot and KSL
Cabinets (solid maple!) – used KSL
Cabinet pulls and knobs – Somewhere on Ebay
Everything else – Home depot
Paint – Behr Premium Ultra. I used Subtle Touch for the walls, Powdered Snow for the white cabinets and trim and Silver Hill for the dark cabinets.

How did you lose the weight?

I’ve been getting this question a lot lately and I often don’t have the two hours that I feel is necessary to explain how I did it. Which is my motivation for this blog post. What I usually answer is:

I exercised three times a week by doing the couch to 5k program and I calorie counted.

This really is the bare-bones of what I did. I sometimes think people are looking for something magical, like “I did the liquid amino diet!” or “I just combined green tea and lemon juice and drank it every morning and the pounds magically melted off!” (Side note: I did try phentermine for about a month through my doctor, and it kind of helped… mostly because it gave me energy because losing weight is tiring. But it also gave me scary heart palpitations and it made me cold and I couldn’t sleep at night and stuff, so I went off of it. I lost just as much weight on it as I did off of it. If you can’t lose weight without it, you won’t lose long term weight with it. Also, it costs money and you have to go to your doctor once a month which also costs money and I hate spending money when I don’t have to on things I can do myself.)

But anyway, no, I am boring. I just did five hundred hours of research (as I always do before I start doing anything in my life) and discovered that the magical secret to losing weight is eating less calories than you are expending so that your body uses your fat to power itself instead. Exercise helps a lot because you don’t have to cut what you have been eating as drastically.

For example (made up numbers, I’m too lazy to look up real ones):

If I have been eating 3000 calories per day , and I am sitting on the couch all day and want to lose 2 lbs per week without exercising, I will eat 2000 calories a day instead. This is hard.

If I am exercising three times a week and burning 500 – 600 calories each time, I can eat 2300 calories a day instead. I know that doesn’t seem like much, but man, when you’re craving a 300 calorie chocolate bar, it’s enough to help. I find it much easier to calorie count if I exercise along with it because of this principle. I don’t feel nearly as deprived.

Thoughts regarding losing weight

Why calorie counting is awesome:

My favorite calorie counting places:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ – The app I use now. Make friends with me! Nitetiger4 is my username.

http://caloriecount.about.com – What I started with before I had a smartphone.

Eat what you want and lose weight! YEAH. Just keep it under calories! Every once in a while (not every day) I eat something like three pieces of chocolate cake and then have a salad for dinner to keep under calories. This is what I consider a cheat day, and I do it when it comes up organically (like a holiday or a party or something), I don’t plan in advance to have one or else I somehow end up having them every day and I feel sick. If I let myself have a cheat day where I eat everything I want and have 3000 calories instead of the 1600 I’m supposed to be eating, I tend to derail for the next week. I do sometimes make exceptions for big holidays, but if I do it for like every birthday and Sunday dinner, then I stop losing weight so well.

So anyway, if you want to eat a cookie, eat a cookie. Just count the calories. Although I’ve learned not to eat it for breakfast or you will rollercoaster all day and give up. Save it for after dinner. I feel much less deprived on calorie counting because I don’t feel like I fail when I eat a cookie, unlike other diets where it’s like “OH NO I ATE A COOKIE AND DR. ATKINS WILL FIND ME AND KILL ME FOR EATING CARBS!”

Anyway, over time, hopefully you can modify to eating well along with eating less, but I feel like doing both at once is what sets people up to fail because you feel deprived of food you love and your body is deprived of calories and so your brain and your cells are all screaming at you to just eat that piece of cake please and then you eat a hundred because you failed to follow your diet and so you might as well.

Motivation:

What is your motivation?

– I want my body to look better.

This is a way to set yourself up to fail, imo.  I’ve gone from semi-whale-obese size at 5’9″ and 260 lbs to now 180 lbs (still another 10 to go to be in the healthy range and 20 so that I am in the middle of the healthy range). You know what though? I feel the same about my body. I still look at it and I don’t feel like I’m a sexy skinny thang, even though people come up and compliment me on how I look all the time (and by that I mean, people who know what I looked like before.) Their compliments are nice, but they’re not really motivating for me. I’ve gone from a size 20 down to a size 12… and yeah, I still see in the mirror how my hip to waist ratio is insanely larger than anyone else’s in the world rather than the fact that I have lost 4 inches around my chest and a bazillion from my waist and hips.

(Side note: It is kind of interesting to be able to see my cheekbones now, and I do notice my skinny fingers. Sometimes I stare at my fingers for 10 minutes because that’s the only place I can really tell that I lost weight and it’s kind of weird to see the difference. I had to move my wedding ring to my middle finger the other day because it kept falling off my ring finger. So that’s semi motivating, I guess, but not enough to keep me going.)

So yeah, I feel the same about my body as I did before, which is indifferent. I like myself as I am, and I always have been content with being me.  My body is now saggy and baggy where I lost all the fat, instead of being rolley polley. No one tells you that happens sometimes (not always… you’ve probably seen pictures of people that don’t have this problem. This is why there are no pictures of me in a bikini on this blog.) Supposedly, if I lose the last 20 lbs and gain more muscle I will be less saggy, but I’m not counting on it. And I don’t care. Because if I cared, I would give up and go back to being 260 lbs and eating like an elephant because I’ve realized that you’re only going to be as happy as you are where you are now. Getting a bigger house, more money, losing weight all seem like they would make you happier than you are now, but THEY DON’T. So be happy now and find a different motivator.🙂 Smile and love yourself and kick the media in the shins and yell in their face “I DON’T CARE THAT I DON’T LOOK LIKE YOUR PHOTOSHOPPED MODELS AND NEVER WILL. I LOVE ME BECAUSE I AM FAR MORE THAN A DRESS SIZE!!!!!!”

Is your motivator to look better to the world? Consider this. Do you go up to women that you have always known to be skinny and say to them “You look so good!” and by good, you mean they are slender. No. Do you like being friends with slender women over larger women? Probably not. You might tell slender women they have a cute outfit, but you probably also say that to larger women with a sense of style. Random people don’t run up to me on the street and tell me that I am skinny and good looking either. It’s always people who know what I looked like before. Sometimes you might get lucky and someone random will tell you that “You could be a model!” but usually they have ulterior motives and they are men. Anyway, looking better so the world will notice? Yeah, you’re going to probably be disappointed, especially if you’re married. They only care if they knew you before, so when you move away from your friends and you’re skinny, no one will tell you about it anymore. Because that’s considered impolite.🙂

This might be an ok motivator though for those who are still looking for an SO, I guess, but if you’re not confident with yourself now, you probably won’t be when you’ve lost weight. Also, won’t you always be frightened that your SO married you for looks and what will happen if you gain the weight back? (I would be.) Also, you probably won’t stay motivated, because it takes a long time to lose enough weight that guys/girls will notice you more than they did before anyway.

Do you want to lose weight for your significant other? Meh. Your husband probably doesn’t care (unless he’s a douche.) Let me tell you that my skinny, handsome husband looked at my pictures of me when I was 260 lbs and said “Well, I guess love really is blind.” meaning that looking back now, he can see how big I was, but then, he didn’t really notice. He loves and has loved me for who I am personality wise – not how I looked. And now that I’m smoking hot (lololol), he reaps the rewards of sticking with me when I was fat… I guess. But though he does compliment me on how good of a job I have done losing weight and sticking with exercising, he really doesn’t love me any more or less than before. Also, my stomach has an insane amount of bright red stretch marks from having three children and they will never go away (unless I get plastic surgery, but see my qualifier above… YOU WILL ONLY BE AS HAPPY WITH YOURSELF AS YOU ARE NOW, SO WHY BOTHER), so if he was sticking around for looks, those would have frightened him off long ago.

Anyway my point is, don’t be motivated by how you will look because you will be sad and give up when you don’t see the results as quickly as you wanted to.

– I want to be healthier. ( And I want to set a good example for my children.)

This is my motivator. I want to be less likely to die from a heart attack. I don’t want to get diabetes. I don’t want to be tired and not be able to play with my kids. I don’t want to have sleep apnea from being too big. I don’t want my body to fall apart as I get older and not be able to do things anymore. I don’t want to wait to take care of myself until my kids have moved away and it’s “”””easier”””” because I will have my habits set and I’ll be too old and tired and by then my body is past its prime anyway and your body is already hurt and tired from years of you not taking care of it and it will be much harder than you think. I want to exercise and eat well so I can help hopefully stave off the depression that runs in my family. I want my children to see me eat sensibly, so that they eat sensibly as well. I want my children to see me exercise and compete and then want to exercise and carry that habit into adulthood. I want my children to take care of themselves and love themselves. I need to do this now because the longer I wait, the harder it is. I don’t want to wait until something exterior (losing SO, bad health) forces me into it, I will take control now and do it because I want to.

Did you know that your children will grow up to pretty much be exactly like you? This is a scary thing, but statistically it’s likely. So take care of yourself and set the example, so that your kids don’t have to say “I don’t want to be like my mother/father” and then fight with their habits their whole lives. Also, meet some older people who have been heavy their whole lives and see exactly how their bodies are falling apart and how many surgeries they have to have and how easily they break and realize how you really, really, really, don’t want to do that to yourself.

There are other reasons, but these are the two main ones that have been in my head. There are probably some other good ones for you. Just analyze your reasoning and motivation to make sure your motivation is strong enough to carry you through the hard parts.🙂

Finding a goal:

What’s your goal?

Mine was originally this: Get to 160 lbs.

Um, yeah, that is a good goal, but it’s hard when you have 60 lbs to lose to feel motivated after a month and you’ve lost 5 lbs.

Your first goal is this: I WILL FORM A HABIT OF EXERCISING THREE TIMES A WEEK AND COUNTING MY CALORIES EVERY DAY. You may not run far. You may eat way too many calories. That’s ok. The goal is the habit at first. Then move on to staying under your calorie goal and running further or faster every week.

After that, try something like:

Lose 3 lbs in two weeks. Lose 6 lbs in a month.

Be able to run for longer than 30 seconds. Run a mile. Run a 5k.

Short goals and a long term goal are a good combination to help keep motivated. Tell Facebook and your SO your progress and when you meet your goal. People will cheer you on and it helps.🙂

Exercise:

Three times a week. Thirty minutes each time, at least. Whatever you choose, you’re probably going to hate it for the next month, if you keep doing it, so just be resigned to that and pick something. Find a program to help you progress in your exercise so you see progress there and so that your body doesn’t get bored and start making you burn less calories as it gets used to what you’re doing. I used Couch to 5k (http://www.coolrunning.com), but you could find another program for biking or elliptical or swimming or whatever, I’m sure. It’s really important that you push yourself so you see results (Jillian Michaels talks a lot about this. It’s hard because we promised you would see results… and honesetly to see results it has to be hard.)

Make sure whatever you choose is easy to get out and do. This is why I picked running, because all I needed was shoes and my shoes were not going to get a flat tire or be closed for the holidays and I could do it inside or outside during the various seasons and the gym and the road are right outside my door, which means I can get ready to run in ten minutes and be back in thirty and I don’t have a lot of time to get demotivated once I get started getting ready. Also I can take my dog running and she appreciates the exercise and will mostly not trip me or judge how I look when I’m running.

If you can find a buddy to go with you, this helps a lot because you don’t want to let them down and not come. This is most motivating if it’s just you and one other person and the other person is always consistent, so that you know that they will be left waiting if you don’t show. However, it’s not necessary. I ran by myself for four months with my dog and showed up for myself just fine because I was committed. Which leads me to…

Be committed and plan:

You must be committed to losing weight and you must plan how you will implement it. For me, it had to become the most important thing in my life. I found my motivation and figured out my plan, and then I said to my husband something like: “I am going to do couch to 5k. I am doing it three times a week for 30 minutes, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 o’clock. If the kids aren’t in bed, you’re just going to have to handle it and get them to bed.” (I also told him “Don’t bring candy home ever, unless I tell you to, because I will eat it all. You can eat all the candy you want, just not in the house please.”)

You have to make yourself go through with it NO MATTER WHAT. I liked telling my husband the above because he’d then say “Wait, aren’t you going running tonight? You better go get ready. I’ve got the kids. We’ll play Skyrim when you get back.”

Also, setting a time, the same time every time you go, is really helpful in making it a habit. It doesn’t matter what time of day you go, according to studies, just as long as it’s a good time for you and that you know you can commit to. (I am just now getting into morning running, because I HATE WAKING UP EARLY. So that’s I chose evenings when I first started)

It’s really really really hard to start exercising and stay consistent (especially if you’ve never exercised before), so you must tell yourself that it is the most important thing ever and you will do it even if you don’t want to and you’re so tired and the kids and blah blah blah. Do you skip Downton Abbey on Thursday night (I don’t know when it’s on, I’m just guessing) because you’re so tired and the kids bit you all day long? No. You cannot miss exercise either and it must be as important to you as your favorite TV show or book or whatever, even though you hate it. (Also, you can try telling yourself that you can’t watch Downton Abbey til you get that exercise done.) It must come first.

If you can get past the first three weeks of consistent exercise, it becomes a habit and it gets a lot easier to do. The first week of couch to 5k was pretty much hell for me. I could not run for 30 seconds without feeling like I was dying. But I pushed on. I was gasping and flopping down the road pretty much like a giant whale that grew legs. After three/four weeks, my body had adjusted and my habit had been formed and it was so much easier and I was burning way more calories every time I went out and I was finally seeing results. Push through.

(Also, after 10 months of running, I am JUST NOW starting to actually kind of enjoy it for itself. I kind of liked it before too, because I discovered that it really relieves my stress, but now I am starting to like running just because it’s kind of fun to reach the top of hills and see the vistas and push yourself and stuff)

You must be committed to calorie counting too. Again, it takes time to build the habit of entering everything you eat into your phone or computer or onto your piece of paper, but don’t give up. Keep trying. You’ll see results if you push through the initial hard part.

Now for me, I have to keep calorie counting. If I start thinking I can wing it, I go into maintenance mode (where I don’t lose weight, or I start to gain a little). Some people get the hang of calorie counting and then can just keep doing it without keeping track on paper, but I wouldn’t count on that person being you. So you might have to calorie count for a year or so and once you’ve lost the weight, every now and then to get back on track. Just deal with it.

Tips and Tricks

I hate these. I can never remember them when I read them on blogs. Here are a few though, just in case you can retain this information.

– You will not see results at first, most likely. You will hate every day when you wake up and it’s exercise day (if you’re exercising right, that is, where you push yourself) and you will probably hate inputting all of the food you eat and how at the end of the day you’re still kind of hungry but you can’t eat anything. And you will hate how your husband eats candy all the time and hasn’t gained any weight. And then you will weigh yourself and see no change or a small one, most likely and you will want to give up. Don’t. Keep going. One day you will get on the scale and you will have lost a pound. Be proud, even though it’s only 1/60th of your goal. You did something! And all those little 1/60ths will add up to 100% of your goal one day and you’ll have done it. Just keep going because it DOES work. And it DOES work for everyone, even you. It just takes time. The habit is your goal at first, really.

– You will be tired. People say that when they lost weight they got more energy, but I think this happens when you’re maintaining your goal weight. While you’re losing the weight and exercising you are tired. This is because your body is having to adjust to using fewer calories, so it tries to make you slow down so you burn fewer calories. It doesn’t like to burn your fat stores if it can help it. So you just have to realize that this will be a challenge that you’ll have to push through. You might be crabby like me while body realizes that it’s going to have to burn the fat stores, but again, you have to push through it. Eventually you do adjust and you’re not quite as tired.

–  I say weigh yourself every day first thing in the morning, after you use the bathroom and before you eat or drink. Be naked. I weigh myself every day because I can’t stay motivated otherwise. If I do it every day I immediately see that the whole cake I ate yesterday made me gain three pounds and I can more easily not eat cake today, rather than seeing it a week later.

– Eat (non-cream-based) soup for dinners as often as you can stand it. Eat the leftovers for lunch. This is lovely advice. Soup is low calorie and fills you up . It keeps you from having cravings too. Also, you can eat more ice cream at the end of the day if you eat more soup during it.

– Recalculate your calories downward every 15 lbs you lose. Your body requires less calories when you have less weight for your muscles to haul around, so to continue losing weight, you must eat fewer calories.

–  Drink water before you eat. This helps you feel more full and eat less.

– Don’t drink soda or gatorade or really, anything that’s not water (unless you need caffeine in tiny amounts for migraines). Wean yourself off (before you start calorie counting, preferably.) Even diet drinks are bad for you and your weight loss, according to studies. Protein shakes, ok. Green smoothies, pretty ok if you don’t drink too much or have too much fruit/milk in them. Maybe coconut water too, if it’s pure. Don’t drink juice. Soda, juice, gatorade, mostly sugar. Not good for you. Too many empty calories that just make you have cravings and make you hate life.

– Don’t give up. Never ever ever give up. You keep trying til you get it. One day you will.🙂 Don’t be sad when you miss a day, just get up and try again.

Anyway, good luck! If you have any questions, feel free to post below since I’m sure I’m sure I missed something. I’ll try to respond.🙂

Finding My Feet

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At the age of 12, I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma. Every time I would try to run or play for extended periods of time, I would be left gasping for breath and feel tingly and panicky from the lack of oxygen. I was given a “rescue” inhaler, told to use it when needed and was left to figure out the details. From that point forward, it was a struggle for me to exercise and maintain my weight. At school, when we were required to run the mile, I would give up after 20 seconds because of the wheezing and it would take me the rest of the mile to get my breath back, even with my inhaler. My mile time was somewhere around 18 minutes.

In February 2012 (at age 26), I started having severe asthma attacks in response to my cottonwood allergies and I had to go see the doctor for help. He prescribed me a daily steroid inhaler and my attacks diminished. I was 60 lbs obese at the time and had just had my third child. Around this time, I heard about a program called “Couch to 5K”. Up to this point, I had made the excuse that I was too tired to exercise and my asthma just wouldn’t allow it. I was too exhausted mentally and physically after taking care of my three children, all age 4 and under, to waste my relaxation time on exercise. However, one day I realized that I didn’t want to wait until I was old and my children were gone to take charge of my health, as my parents had done. I had steroids to keep my asthma from flaring now, so that wasn’t an excuse anymore. I realized that my children were impressionable and the example that I set for them now is the one that they will follow. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t just for my health, but for my children’s health that I needed to lose weight and start exercising and that I needed to make time.

A few months later, in early June, I started the couch to 5k program. I told my husband that I would be leaving at 8 pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights and I would be going running for half an hour, so if any children were still awake or if anything was left undone, it would be his responsibility to take care of them. I looked on the internet for a 5k that I could run in three months that would be my “goal” (a goal is so important, I really think!) and I chose the Racing with Passion 5k in September. My first session of training was tough. I was tired after running for the 60 second spurts and I was slow. I had a hard time breathing, even though I was using the steroids and my rescue inhaler. I just had to keep in mind that this was important and that I could do hard things. That if I gave up, nothing would change and I would end up being like other family members. And I perservered and I made it through that first time. And then I kept working.

The first time I had to run for a mile straight in the program, I was scared. I didn’t think I could do it. But I tried it and I did it. And then that mile became two miles and then three miles. I discovered that instead of being more tired and grouchy during the day, as I thought would be the case after adding running into my regimen, I was actually a lot happier and more kind to my children and somehow, I had more energy. (The only time I skipped running was one week with a health problem, I stuck to the training nights that I said I would and I knew that if I made an excuse for “just tonight, I will not run” that I would stop running and my hard work would be for naught. If I came home from something late on a night that I was supposed to run, I went running anyway.) I lost 30 pounds over those three months and I’m working on the other 30.

When September came and it was time for my “goal” 5k, I didn’t know what I was doing, so I lined up with the other people near the front, with my regular running clothes on – an old tshirt, a pair of red yoga pants from a thrift store, my dollar store “athletic” socks and my $20 Champion running shoes from Payless – and a camelbak on with my music player in it and my earbuds in my ears. It was cold and I hadn’t brought a jacket, but figured I would warm up after running for a bit. I felt discouraged as I took off running with the other front runners, because I didn’t know at the time that the faster people start in the front and if you’re slower you should be nearer the back. However, I figured I would just run at my regular pace and keep going, even if I was dead last (which is what I thought I was as so many other people passed me at the start.)

I ran and I ran and I ran and I didn’t stop. I ran the whole 5k without stopping. As I neared the finish line, my husband, my three children, my mom and my brother all stood waiting and cheering me on. My kids were so excited to see their mom running the race. I finished with a time of 35:34.8 (11:26 min/mile), a personal best for me and 39th out of the women which was somewhere in the middle and 6th in my age group. When I hugged my husband after finishing, my four-year-old daughter looked up at me with her big blue eyes and asked with excitement:

“Mom, did you win the race?”
I smiled and answered, “Yes. Everyone who finishes wins the race.”