Managing high cholesterol…also known as…winning the cholesterol game

In January 2013 I had my blood work done.  My cholesterol came back high.  I was stunned.  I was in denial about my weight, I felt healthy, it had to be wrong.  I had it ordered again, it was high.  I had it ordered again in October, it was higher.  My total cholesterol was 201, normal is below 199.  My LDL had shot up to 123, normal is below 99.  LDL is bad cholesterol.  This was bad news.  The doctor advised me that I was now at risk for heart disease.  She said that a large portion of my cholesterol issues were genetic but that I needed to change my diet and exercise.  She also said that because my cholesterol was continuing to go up that I would have to be put on a medication for it, and it would be a lifetime medication.  I was upset, because by this time I had been a member of the gym for seven months and had lost some weight so I considered myself fit, and fixed, and just fine.

On an unrelated visit to my OB, the nurse who does my annual and is a homeopathic doctor happened to glance at my lab work.  I told her the doctor was insisting I go on medication.  The nurse said, "NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT."  She said that doctor was getting paid to tell me that, and there were so many natural remedies for high cholesterol.  She told me to go to a vitamin shop and purchase:

Red yeast rice with COQ10

Spirulina powder

DHA

I went to Whole Foods and bought them, but you can get them at any pharmacy.  I took them for three months and had my lab work retested.  All of my levels had gotten lower.  My HDL good cholesterol had gotten better.  The doctor asked what I was doing and I told her all of the herbs.  She looked down at her labs, looked back up at me and said, "off the record you made a really good choice, you never would have been able to stop taking the medication I would have prescribed you."

After that she did particle cholesterol.  My cholesterol numbers were getting better but my heart disease danger was still very high.  I made a choice to change my diet and exercise.  I stopped the herbs, increased my workout and became very strict about eating healthy.  I started cooking every thing I ate.  I made whole, clean foods.  I cut out almost all sugar.  I decreased my dairy.  If I eat gluten it's a whole grain, unbleached, natural product.  I did this for three straight months.  I worked out 3-4 times a week at the gym and focused on running both days on the weekends. 

In three months, without a single herb, or doctors pill I managed to make my cholesterol 100% normal.

Total cholesterol 2013 – 201    Total cholesterol 2014 – 177 (as of this weekend)

LDL cholesterol 2013 – 123     LDL cholesterol 2014 – 95

I am no longer a risk for heart disease. 

I wrote about this for one reason.  When they first told me about  my cholesterol and mentioned diet and exercise, I brushed them off.  I told myself I was healthy.  I was going to the gym, who cares if I was grabbing taco bell on the way home, I worked out, I was healthy.  I ignored it all, and it got worse.  Making the choice to change my life to eat clean, and healthy is the hardest choice I've ever made.  I spend all day Sunday cooking now.  I can't just have fast food on nights I'm exhausted and tired.  I don't take weeks off from the gym.  I went on vacation for my wedding anniversary and still tracked my calories, excluding dinner, and then went to the gym while there.  When I go out to eat I try and order as clean as I can.  If I splurge I do it at a local restaurant that uses locally sourced, organic, hand made foods.  I don't consider Olive Garden an option for dining out now.  If I want Mexican food I choose a local place that makes their sauce, their tortillas, etc.  If I want Italian I find a bistro that makes their pasta and sauce.  Then I know at least I'm taking in good calories, rather then over processed, over bleached, chemical filled, foods that are created not to expire on a shelf.  I want to eat food that will expire because it doesn't have preservatives.

Choosing to cook all of my food. Choosing to not eat cookies all the time or junk food is hard.  It cost more money, it takes time, it is not the easy choice.

But you guys, it's the best choice I've ever made.  I feel good. I feel better then I've ever felt. I've lot 63 pounds.  My attitude towards life has changed.  People tell me my personality has changed for the better.  I am visibly happier.  I am more enthusiastic and energetic.  I'm out doing stuff with my kids.  I take them on runs. I take them on hikes. I try and get them moving.  I get up and get stuff when I need it now.  If something is upstairs and I'm downstairs I used to just say, "I don't need it that bad." Now I run upstairs and grab it.  I'm more conscious of my time so I spend it doing better things.  I make sure my kids have a healthy breakfast made daily. I take the time to pack their lunch and snack every single day so that they are also eating clean healthy foods.  I take the time to make sure the dishes are done, the kitchen is clean and the house looks nice before I leave in the morning.  That time used to be spent reading, sitting down in a chair. 

I realize that some will argue that they need me time, and they NEED to relax and read a book, but you know what you NEED more? To live a long, healthy, problem free life. 

I want you to know that it's possible to change your lab results with diet and exercise.  That paying for a quick fix pill for your entire life is not the only choice.  It's a pricey choice with many side effects.  If you watch the Biggest Loser the same thing happens.  They change their diet and exercise and suddenly they are no longer on medications, no longer using C-pap machines, no longer a diabetes risk. 

You guys, what you put into your body matters.  It really does.  Next time you go to the doctor and they tell you something is wrong, your labs are off, you might be diabetic, or have high cholesterol, don't brush it off.  Make yourself a three month deal like me.  For three months commit to fitness, commit to eating clean, commit to making a life change.  Then, redraw your blood and see if there is ANY change at all. 

It took me an entire year.  Nothing worth having comes easy though.  It took time because I had to learn how to eat.  I had to learn the difference between diet food and clean eating.  I had to learn that I needed to eat, often, but high quality food. I needed to build muscle.  I needed to not only focus on cardio and pick up some weights.  I'm still learning.  I have a trainer and I learn new stuff every week.  I research clean eating online and learn something new daily.  My eating is constantly changing for the better which means I will only get better.  It may have cost me more money in food, I may have read less books but you know what? I probably added at least ten years to my life.  I've improved my childrens lives and added years to their life.  I've improved my marriage and my friendships.  Please, don't ignore this.  Don't get upset when the doctor mentions your weight.  If they are mentioning it, it's probably necessary.  Make the change.  Just for three months.  The time will pass no matter what, why not pass it in a healthy way?

New blog coming

Hi guys.  I'm* working on fixing this blog so that I can post mobile.  That would mean I could actually post blog ideas when I had them, from my iPhone or iPad.  My home computer barely works, and I get in trouble for blogging during family time.  I'm not allowed to blog at work where my nice computer is, so it makes writing difficult which is frustrating because I have so much to say. 

I'm still kicking ass on my fitlife journey.  I rewarded myself with some new clothes this week.  I went through a rough week, and when I came to the end of it making good choices, and not self destructive choices I felt I earned a reward.  Look at my cute red pants.  So cute.

I've been trying to run on weekends.  I have shaved a few minutes off my time. I've found that running before 8am makes it a million times easier to just get it out of the way.  I also have weird amounts of energy that early.

I have a running partner too.  My 9 year old is running with me.  This weekend at 7:45 in the morning we went for a 2.5 mile run and he did incredible.  I was so so proud of him.

I'm learning so much about meal planning.  I'm also learning a ton about macros.  I'm learning where I can get protein as a vegetarian, I'm learning how much protein I should have, how many carbs, how much fat, etc.

This is all stuff I would love to share with you guys.  I have so many new tips and things to teach you all, to encourage people, but damn is it hard when I can't post at work, or at home.  I'm getting that fixed though.  Then I can post in bed in the morning when everyone else is asleep, or in the kitchen while I cook dinner, or in line at the store while I'm waiting to check out.  The possibilities will be endless and I cannot wait.  I have recipes, powders, and exercises to teach.  Stick around you guys, I'm coming back to blogging full force as soon as this is fixed.

*When I say I'm working on it, I mean my IT guy Lee, because I don't understand a single thing about how this blog works. Not at all.

Seeing red … A numbers game

I am shocked I haven't gone certifiably insane during this whole healthy life journey.  If you aren't careful a person can get very caught up in the numbers.  Numbers like:

How many carbs did I have today? What percentage of my day was fat and what percentage was protein? Out of the carbs I ate how much of it was good useable carbs? How many glasses of water did I drink? On and on and on.

The number that is kicking my ass this week is the scale.  The scale and I go through different periods.  Sometimes I get on it I see a loss and I'm happy.  Sometimes I get on it and I see no loss but no gain and I'm okay with it because I know I still look good.  Sometimes I see a gain and I'm fine because I probably retained more water that day or worked out too hard. Sometimes I see a gain and I see red. Sometimes I see a loss and I want to smash the fucking scale to pieces.

Here is an example.

About two weeks ago I reached 142 on the scale.  I was over the moon.  I felt like a sexy, fit, healthy, mass of awesome.  I was the lightest I had been in 14 years.  The next day I hit 141.  There was some fist pumping and naked dancing involved.  Then, through a series of unfortunate events I saw 144 on the scale.  I was destroyed.  Not because that is a bad weight but because I knew how I had gotten there.  It involved a sandwich, an injury, and one bad mood.

It took me five whole days to see 142 on the scale again.  One would think I would be happy.  I am not.  I am not because it should be 138 not 142.  I shouldn't have had the gain to start with.  This time around, two weeks later 142 feels fat, it feels like shame, it feels not good enough.  It makes me want to throw my glass scale at a wall.  I feel frumpy, I feel like the same clothes that fit at 152 are suddenly now tight and gross looking.

WHAT THE FUCK.

This was me at 152.  I felt skinny, and cute and full of progress.  Today I won't even look at those jeans because I just know they would look awful on me.

This was a progress shot around 150…I was so proud.

This was a progress shot at 141.  I was feeling it that day.  I had only small critiques, I was rocking my red booty shorts, I didn't hate my stomach above my C-section scar.  I was the bomb.  Today….I won't go near the mirror. I weigh one pound more then I did in that photo, and that one pound is murdering my mind.

I finally fit into my little red lounge shorts two weeks ago.  I felt stunning. I strutted around the house in my little outfit feeling the best I ever had.  Today, I crumpled up the little red shorts and shoved them in the bottom of my drawer because I just know they will not fit.

Last week I was progressing photos left and right.  I was feeling good. I was feeling like I had muscle. I was confident at the gym.  I was loving me.  Today I want to wear a mumu.

I've been wearing my little shorts to the gym, seeing progress in my legs, learning to be comfortable with the fact that my legs will never look like the younger girls at the gym, but they look better then they did.  Wednesday and Thursday I wore pants to the gym, because I couldn't stand my legs at 143.

I know this will go away, that it's a mental phase, and that in a week I will feel normal again but this week, this week has been hard.  Some weeks I can ignore the scale. Some weeks I know that my weight might go up but my body fat goes down.  This week, this week everything logical has left my brain and I'm mad at the world.  I'm eating as clean as possible. I'm watching my macros. I'm working out as hard as ever, where are my fucking results.

I know, I know somewhere in the rational part of my brain that I only weight 142 pounds, I am not going to have huge losses anymore. I'm going to maintain and it's going to take even more time to reach goals then it ever has.  I've tried changing my goals from numerical goals to gym goals. I want to be able to do cleans.  I want to be able to do a stupid overhead squat.  I want to see definition in my back.  I'm trying to not give myself numerical goals.  It's almost impossible, because the back of my mind always has a tiny number bouncing around inside of it laughing at me, teasing me.

I hate, HATE, the weeks I cannot make my head be rational.  It's worse knowing I'm being completely irrational and still continuing to do so.

I wrote about this for one reason. I  wanted everyone to see this journey isn't easy.  That 17 months in I still struggle.  That I'm not some perfect little fitness geek who has amazing results every day and who never judges herself harshly. I wanted you all to also see that I'm not quitting.  That I'm mad as hell right now and nothing is going my way, but you can bet your ass I took myself to the gym four days last week and still ate clean.  I did not binge, I did not stay home and be lazy, because I knew in the end I would rather not look back and regret the time wasted, the workouts lost, and the food eaten.  I want people to see every side of this journey.  The good parts, the progress photos, the weight loss celebrations, but also, the bad parts.  The self loathing, the mind fucks, the weight gains.  All of it, so that when it happens to you and you want to give up, you won't. Because this has happened before and I always manage to pull out of it, and come out ahead, and you can too, as long as you don't give into the negativity and let it win. 

But how did you lose the weight

I just realized I spend a lot of time talking about my progress but not enough time talking about HOW I've lost the weight.  I'm going to tell you what works for ME.  Just because it works for ME does not mean it is right for YOU.

The first thing I did was join a gym.  I joined a gym to see if I could stick with it.  I worked out on my own for five months.  About three months in I began to change my food slowly.  First I just tried counting calories.  Then I met my trainer and I got a little more serious about my calories. 

One day it all clicked.  You cannot lose weight without eating right. This meant a complete overhaul of my food.  Abs are made in the kitchen not the gym.  The first thing I did was join a private Facebook group with other women trying to lose weight.  We made a pact to eat clean and log all of our meals, along with photos to share with each other.  For me tracking my food is necessary.  I use the My Fitness Pal app and it works wonders. I tracks my calories, my protein intake, my cholesterol and sugar.  I had to learn how important protein was.  For my body and workout load I need 105 grams of protein a day.  I had to learn that my trainer was right, focusing on weights was far better at burning fat then cardio. I typically spend five days a week going hard on weights alternating upper body and lower body every other day.  Once a week I do a strictly cardio day. Once a week I try and get in a good hike or a long walk with my dog.  I make sure to use every possible muscle during my workouts.  I learned to squat at least seven different ways, all of them working a different area of your legs.

I made the change to clean eating.  The first big change was eliminating almost all processed foods, anything artificial and anything with fake food dye in it.  However I don't eliminate any other food.  My morning protein shake has a quarter cup of raw oatmeal in it.  At lunch I have a half of a whole wheat flat bread with my avocado and toppings.  I splurge on cashew butter. I keep chocolate chips in the freezer in case I get an insane sugar craving.  I don't eat eggs which means I had no problem giving up cookies or cakes.  The lack of eliminating foods makes this so feasible.  My morning protein shake includes organic chia sees, unsweetened coconut milk, organic plant based protein powder, frozen fruit, or sliced apples, and some Stevia.  I snack ALL DAY LONG.  I honestly probably eat every hour or two.  Raw cashews, apples, fresh cherries, avocados, and hot sauce are staples in my daily life.  I subscribe to the Graze Calorie box for good clean snacks when I really really need a treat.  The biggest hugest change I made was cutting out all coffee creamer.  I now use unsweetened coconut milk and Stevia.  Nothing else.  If I have a late night junk food craving I eat a quarter cup of good vanilla yogurt, sliced strawberries and ten chocolate chips. On the rare occasion I have oatmeal or granola for breakfast it is filled with at least a quarter cup of fresh blueberries, and topped with coconut milk. I cut out ALL soda.  I only drink water, sparkling water and coffee.  Nothing else.

I make sure to have protein AFTER my workouts so I can replenish my muscles. 

I workout often.  When I cannot workout I do things like sets of 100 squats while watching TV.  I focus on my planking in all positions to help my oblique, core, and the rest of my body.

I do not exceed 1200 calories.  I also track my workouts on Run Keeper which imports my calorie burn to my Fitness Pal so I can see what my calorie deficit is for the day. I wear a Polar Watch to track my daily gym burn. 

I've eliminated cereal, cookies, ice cream, ramen, from my regular foods.

If I am out and about and need a quick breakfast Whole Foods helps

At night to cleanse my system I add this to boiling water and drink it, along with a shot of apple cider vinegar.

At work when I'm in the middle of my snacking I usually turn to this as a quick fix for carbs, and healthy fat.

Whole Foods rescues me for lunch sometimes too

I keep these protein bars in my gym bag for a quick clean protein fix after my work out.

My morning oatmeal prep

How I pack for work

Quick dinner ideas, Portobello, avocado and seasoning

I work out hard.  I do not screw around at the gym. I don't chat, flirt, or behave lazy.  I go there to do work.  I have a trainer who taught me all of the muscles in my body and which order to work them so I don't fatigue myself.

This has been over a year long journey and honestly it never ends.  There was no quick fix. I refuse to join some program or buy into a meal replacement shake. I just eat clean as often as possible and work out as much as I can.  I subscribe to the 80/20 rule.  That means 80% of the week I eat on point and 20% of the week stuff like dining out happens.

I've stopped rewarding myself with food. When I hit a goal I do something for myself, a pedicure, new work out clothes, etc.  I never reward with food.  If I have a bad day where I mess up and eat some chips I don't panic, I just continue on my path.  There are no gimmicks, no pills, no quick fixes.  This is the healthy right way to live and it works.  I hope you finally wake up one day and realize you are ready for a change also.  Because this has been the most incredible thing I've ever done for myself.

The weight of it all

Yes. I'm still talking about fitness.  Get used to it. I suppose I could change the name of this blog but I don't want to. Just because I chose to stop putting my kids lives out there for the world to see doesn't make me any less of a misguided mommy.  Now I'm just a fit mommy.  You guys all traveled through the first years of parenting with me when all I talked about was poop, and baby clothes, and granny panties.  Now you can follow along with me on this life changing experience.

I've talked about this before but since it's happening right now at this very minute I thought I would bring it up again.  Weight loss is 80% nutrition, 20% exercise and a billion percent mental.  By far the biggest struggle I've had is convincing myself I do not weigh 198 pounds again.  I think people who maybe just gained baby weight and lost it don't quiet understand the struggle of spending at least 10 years of your life overweight and then losing 55 pounds in just a year.  I took ten years to adjust my head around being fat, I cannot adjust it around be thin in only 15 months.  Everyone has their own coping mechanism and mine happens to be photos.  My iPhone right now is 90% pictures of me in various states of undress or different gym outfits and maybe 10% family.  This has been the most helpful part of my mental journey.  This weekend I gained three pounds.  Normally I'm not bothered by that because usually It's after a good workout and my body fat is dropping so I know it was muscle.  This time however I knew it was poor food choices.  The first poor food choices I have made in almost 90 days.  Those three pounds quickly manifested into ten pounds in my head.  By the time I hit the gym I no longer weighed 146 pounds, I weighed 178.  By the time I made it home I was almost back to 198 pounds in my mind.  My stomach was protruding and fat and looked like I was carrying a four month pregnancy. I felt gross and could not wait to take off the cute gym shorts I had loved hours before and hide my thighs immediately.

Tonight though I did something different. Instead of hiding I got in front of the mirror and started snapping away.  I'm a firm believer that mirrors don't lie.

Wait. That girl in the mirror isn't 198 pounds.  Shes kinda hot. Let's double check.

Those are two totally different girls. How did I not see this? 

This morning I started the day out feeling so thin, my shirt size was smaller, my pants too baggy…where did it all go wrong?

Wasn't I just the girl proudly wearing a cute little romper around feeling like the most beautiful girl in the world?

I know what happened.  I went form 143 to 146 without a body fat loss.  In my head I can gain weight as long as my body fat drops.  If I gain and the body fat stays the same my mind spirals out of control with doomsday scenarios.

It's so strange that I can lose 55 pounds (52 as of today) and yet I'm still at the store buying large shirts,

When will that fat girl mentality go away. When will I walk into a store and confidently pick up a medium, or hell even a small and know that it will fit? When will I stop second guessing myself and the words of everyone around me?

I've been accused of being a gym rat.  Of spending too much time at the gym.  Of wasting too much time taking photos and doing side by sides.  I've been told to let it go, move on…insert the chorus of "Let It Go Here."  This makes me so fucking massively angry.  How dare you judge my journey.  How dare you judge my methods of getting there.  I eat clean.  I work out. I hike. I run. I go to the lake and hike the rocks and then spend the day relaxing.  I rent giant inflatable slip n slides and spend the day with a bunch of nine year olds racing down the slide with them.  I take my dog for walks.  I do squats while I watch TV.  I am living a healthy lifestyle this is my normal.  But telling me that my way is wrong or frowned upon is the worst thing you can do.

I'm bipolar, manic depressive and have one of the worst cases of self abhorrence I've ever seen.  Telling me that my way isn't right isn't going to encourage me to do it your way, it's going to encourage me to stop it all.  If you really love me you need to accept my methods. Spending nights at the gym is what works for me.  It's motivating.  I walk in and people stop me to tell me how incredible I look.  People stop me, ME, now to ask for advice.  People stop me and say "I've seen your photos you are such an inspiration." That doesn't happen on a walk.  That doesn't happen on a bike ride. That happens in the gym.  You develope this incredible group of friends who become a solid support system. Who notice if you stop coming, who notice when you are having a bad day and need a push, who notice your achievements.  I've never been on a hike and had someone stop me to tell me how inspirational I was.

All of the positive feedback at my gym has encouraged me to take classes to be a trainer.  I may never become a trainer but what better way to get in shape then to take the classes and learn all about your body.  I have the most incredible trainer ever.  He's seen me at my lowest, my heaviest, my saddest, my most broken and beaten down moments and he's picked me up and cheered me on and supported me through every single moment I question if I had one more squat in me, one more dead lift, one more minute of fitness left. He's stood by me, never missed an appointment, always had a smile waiting, and encouraging words.  He's never let me give up.  He has always treated me as though I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.  Perhaps to some paying for a trainer is the wrong way to do it.  For me, paying this man to be by my side daily has been the best choice I could have made to change my life.  He is truly one of my closest friends.  Not many people can handle my moods, my self loathing, my temper, the moments when I shut down and get lost in my head and just cannot keep going. He does.  He stops the workout, helps me clear my mind, and then punishes me for even second guessing myself.  I've said it a thousand times before I owe Rockey my life.

You don't get this kind of feed back and support outside on a hike or a bike ride.  I'm sure there are people out there who don't need that reassurance but they didn't spend 10 years at a dangerous high body weight, with heart disease inducing cholesterol.  Maybe those people with just a few pounds to lose have no idea what it's like to have been an XL bordering on an XXL they don't know that when your solution to everything is emotional eating and self hate that gaining back every pound is a real fear.   People need to realize every journey is different.  Mine started and ends at the gym. I feel safe there. I feel welcome there.  I feel supported there.  I am praised there. I'm an inspiration there.  People stop me at the gym now for advice and tips because they have watched my progress this last year and a half.

Remember before you judge anyone method of losing weight to realize that most likely they have chosen the method that they know is the safest to keep them from falling back into old habits.  They pay for that trainer because his job is to hound you, and encourage you and tell you that you can do just one more set, just one more curl, just one more, and then high five you and whoop loudly at the gym celebrating YOU. 

No I won't stop taking before and after pics. I won't let it go, I won't move on from that.  Because those photos are what saves me from feeling super depressed and eating a bag of ramen, a family size bag of lays, an entire container of chocolate chips, and jelly straight from the jar, all in under ten minutes.  Those photos stop me in my tracks, clear up my perspective and save my life daily.

Look at her.  Isn't she beautiful?  Isn't she worth it?  Thank god she took that picture that morning, so later in the day when the self loathing kicked in she could flip to that photo in her phone and realized, she is perfect in an imperfect way.

Things I've learned while on crutches

In a gung ho moment of fitness this past weekend I took my husband on an eight mile hike up the side of a mountain.  On the way down I surpassed gung ho and went supernatural fitness geek and tried to run down the fucking mountain.  I made it about a mile before I hit a soft spot, my ankle rolled past a 90 degree angle and I crashed harder then a Windows Computer.  My husband said he was looking down, then looked up and only saw a giant cloud of dust from where I crashed.

This is it now…strangely bruised.

This is it right after…something doesn't look right.

 

The doctor gave me crutches and an air cast. Here is what I've learned so far:

*People take crutches very seriously.  If the hospital gives them to you, everyone gets very mad if you don't use them. 

*Do not ever for any reason wear a strapless dress with crutches.  Your dress will fall down, and you will flash your office, and every parent at your childs swimming lessons.  The creepy old dude will stair at your bra and smile.

*You can only wear certain watches with crutches.  Otherwise the watch will cut off the circulation to your hand, it will go numb, and you won't be able to hold the fucking crutch.

*Crutches, plus the wet floor surrounding the swimming pool is a disaster. You will fall.

*My armpits hurt.  Like way worse then any exercise I've done at the gym. Ouch.

*People will get very offended if you try and say you are going to the gym to do squats….while still in an air cast.

*I can do a single leg plank.  Weeeee look at me.

*Everyone at the gym will ask you stupid questions, "Did you finally crash doing box jumps?", "Did your trainer finally push you too hard?", or "Did you dance too hard at 4th of July."

*I pee a lot.  I know this now because I have to use my crutches every time I want to pee at work or I get yelled at.

*I apparently find injuries cool. I've never really had a fitness related injury and I'm just obsessed with it.  I like to check the bruising often.  I've posted tons of photos of my bruise on social media just to keep everyone up to date with it.  I told the nurse at Urgent Care that it was just the coolest thing I had seen in forever because every side of ankle was bruised.  I keep telling people, you can't get injured sitting on the couch. Having a fitness related injury is probably the most exciting thing that has happened to me all year.

*I'm addicted to the gym.  I'm freaking out not working out.  I'm totally losing my head not doing squats. I cannot handle not doing calf raises, and I am just itching to get on the leg press machine. When did this happen? When did I become codependant on the gym?

*You can't carry coffee with crutches.

Check it out this morning…rad huh

Tattoos and health

I'm having a new tattoo drawn up.  Everyone is going to wonder where I will put it, why I need more, why don't I spend the money on something else.  Here are the answers.  Up until three years ago all of my tattoos were basically hideable.  They weren't in places the whole world could see. This was strategic.  Not because I worried about jobs or being judged, but because I felt I was too fat to have visible tattoos.

The day I got Lucille on my arm

Was also the day I had silently told myself I was going to get healthy.  I put this tattoo in such a visible spot because I know that I'm the kind of person who can't have a tattoo like that on a huge fat arm.  I've always wanted sleeves but I knew I was too fat.  I realized one day that if I just went ahead and got the tattoo that I would have no choice but to get the arms that matched it. 

From there I got my ribs done.  I wanted encouragement to lose weight, to lose belly fat, to feel comfortable lifting up my shirt and showing someone that tattoo, or feel okay wearing a bikini and showing it off.

My next tattoo will continue down my ribs over my hip and onto the top of my outer thigh.  Why? Because I need the motivation to keep losing weight, to keep working harder on my leg muscles, to not quit at the gym.  If I quit now all of these tattoos will be wasted.  They will be that thing I hate; a beautiful tattoo on a hideous canvas.

This is another reason why I get so bothered with people judging my ink.  They have no idea that the Lucille tattoo on my arm probably saved my life.  I've lost 51 pounds since I got that tattoo.  Isn't that right there enough of a reason to not bother me about my ink, to not judge me?

I don't know that I will ever stop getting tattoos.  I love them.  I love seeing them in the mirror, I love looking down and catching a glimpse of the beautiful colors on my arms. I love when my feet are in the sand and I see my tattoos peeking out.  I love working out and seeing the tattoos in motion.  I love that as I lose weight my tattoos just look better and better and encourage me more.

Everyone has their own motivation for getting healthy.  My tattoos were only one of the many things that motivated me.  I encourage you to find your thing, your motivation and get started.  You may hate every second of the workout and the healthy eating while it's happening, but damn will you love the rewards. 

Putting yourself first

I realize that my weight loss has become a huge topic on this blog.  I would apologize except in the last three days I've had four different people tell me that my photos and blog have inspired them to change their life.  So I'm going to continue talking about it. 

Yesterday I posted this photo on my IG showing off one of the new bras I bought.

I received this comment;

"My bras are so old…like over 10 yrs but I keep telling myself you need to lose weight to deserve something new…but maybe feeling good may help.  You've inspired me to get new under clothes and to join a gym. After seeing this I'm more inspired. I keep saying I am worth it. Normally all the money is spent on the kids and the dogs. It's time for me I think."

I know people wonder why I'm so open with posting about my new Victorias Secret purchases and this is why.  Comments like that are why.

One of the most important things I had to learn was that right now, during this it is OKAY to put myself first.  For a long time I had to buy underwear at Walmart or, if I was feeling fancy, Target.  I couldn't fit into the stuff at Victorias Secret. After I had lost the first twenty pounds my very very good friend who works there told me to just come in and try stuff on.  I didn't want to I knew it wouldn't fit.  When I went in I was shocked to find out I fit into their large underwear and their 38D bras.  I tentatively bought a few styles of underwear and a couple bras.  I noticed a change in myself immediately.  No one can see what I'm wearing under my clothes but I knew.  Walking around all day in a sexy bra and panty set made me feel so confident.  Feeling confident made me feel happy and feeling happy made me work harder at the gym.  The next thing she had me try on was their sports bra.  Best $52.50 I ever spent. Having a sports bra that supports me magnificently while also making me feel sexy was a game changer.  If I felt like I looked good at the gym I worked out harder.  I notice a lot of people at the gym in baggy pants or huge Tshirts and I always want to tell them to change.  Change into something that makes you feel good and look good, because the better and more confident you feel the harder you will work out.

After a while I noticed my new under things getting baggy and I realized I had gone from a large to a medium at VS.  My bra size had shrunk from a 38D to a 34D.  I could fit into their cute shorts.  I could fit into their cute jammies.  I fit into their cute shirts.  I slowly bought new stuff.  Matching bra and panty sets.  Fun colors.  Stuff that would make me happy.  Yesterday I wore that bra above. My Beetlejuice bra.  I love how that bra looked on me.  It was so cute.  No one saw it but me, but I knew all day how cute I was and it kept me smiling the whole day.  When I arrived at the gym and I was changing near the mirror I looked up and saw myself in my super cute bra and awesome matching lace panties and I smiled.  I knew I was wearing those pieces because of all of my hard work at the gym.  I knew that more hard work would get me more cute lacy under things.  I changed into my gym clothes and went out to kick ass in the gym.

My friend has also taught me how to curl my hair, apply some basic make up and how to accessorize.  All of this makes a difference.  Look at my cute ensemble

Last year I would have thrown on some baggy white shorts.  A pair of flip flops.  A pony tail in my hair and a baggy tank top.  This year I bought shorts that fit.  I put on wedge shoes that accentuated my calf muscles and made my legs look longer.  I accesorized with jewelery that made my outfit pop. I put on some mascara and blush.  I took the time to curl my hair.  I've noticed such a change between then and now.

I bought a new white dress last weekend and I did a comparison to the last time I wore a white dress.

I don't have a picture of the finished look but this time when I got dressed I curled my hair, I ended up putting on a cute watch, necklace, bracelet and make up.  I put on cute shoes and even wore perfume.  Last year I would just throw on a dress and flip flops and feel like that was enough.  My grandma commented to me recently that I look different now, I look like I care.  That's an important point.  Because I do care.

I think it's important to realize that before you can make any of these big changes you have to care.  You have to put yourself first.  You have to accept you might not be home for dinner every night.  You might miss some work.  You might not get home until after the kids go to bed.  You might have to miss one baseball game.  It's so worth it though.  The thing is, I have years left with my kids.  Taking a year and a half to work on myself in the grand scheme of things is nothing because they get the reward.  They end up with a mother who is happy, for reals happy, who is healthy, who can run with them, who can play with them, who is going to live a long time.

Look at me. 

I am happy.  I care.  I no longer drop off my kids at school and look like the mom who doesn't care.  I don't look like the mom who couldn't be bothered to put herself together.  I'm no longer the unhealthy mom who looks like she couldn't even run a lap with her kids.  When I show up at the school with my kids now I'm smiling, I'm healthy, people stop me to tell me how different I look.  How good I look.  All of this is possible though because I made the choice to put myself first for a while.  Sometimes as parents we forget about ourselves. Our lives become only about our kids and their happiness. However if I had continued on the path I was on my kids would have suffered.  I was a risk for heart disease with my cholesterol, I couldn't run with them, or bike with them.  I didn't want to go to the beach because I didn't want to wear a bathing suit.  I was unhappy and cranky and self loathing.  My self hatred caused me to be down in the dumps daily and never smile.  I was not breeding positivity I was breeding self hate.

Last weekend my best friend and I loaded up my boys and took them to the lake on our own.  I never would have done that before. I wouldn't have gone to the lake without my husband.  I wouldn't have worn this bikini:

I wouldn't have spent the entire day at the lake with a genuine smile on my face feeling happy and enjoying the time with my kids.  I would have covered up, felt ugly and projected negativity ruining the day.  I'm on the road to learning to love myself but what I have learned is that I am worth it.  I'm worth the money spent on new bras, I'm worth the money spent on buying two new bathing suits this year.  I'm worth the new size 8 pants I had to buy because my old ones were too big.  I'm worth the extended lunch breaks.  I'm worth the time I spent at the gym and not in the garden.  I'm worth the time I spent exercising and not cleaning the floors every week.  I'm worth so much more then what I had let myself become. 

I'm sitting here now in the cutest lace bra in size medium leggings and a size medium tank top and I am so happy.  No one will ever know what my bra looks like, but I know, and knowing how cute I am capable of being and what all of my hard work results in keeps me moving keeps me motivated.  When I feel like I don't want to work out tonight and I undress in front of the mirror, that cute little bra that everyone thinks is so silly is going to remind me to get my ass in my gym clothes and to the gym.

Sometimes it's the little things in life that help remind us of the bigger picture.