Thursday, March 9, 2017

And in that moment, I realized I was a masterpiece....

I have been sick all week.  A week after bragging that I had not been sick all winter, I got knocked down with a hell of a cold where I endured one day feeling like death at work, missed the two following days because I believe in taking care of myself and not infecting my co-workers and spent yesterday well enough to work, but not 100%.  Today was the first day in almost a week that I felt like a human being again, just in time for the hubs to get nailed with it overnight.

After I went out to get him set up for the day and headed to work, I was in my work bathroom changing into my uniform.  I usually get to work fairly early so I generally have the bathroom to myself and having been former Army, having kids, and a major surgery for my bone tumor, I have no qualms about changing in that bathroom in the open.  I mean it's not like I'm's just changing from street clothes to my ABU's, but it's a 180 from what I was like in high school and the pure terror I felt changing for gym because I was embarrassed of my weight and my boobs, which came in large and in charge at age 12.

So there I was...feeling about 90% healthy, halfway into changing, and it happens...."Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard comes on the radio.  If you don't know the true power of this song to get you moving, you must experience it at least once.  I start dancing...because I felt healthy, because I was flashing back to when I wore teased Aquanet hair and ripped denim jeans, because the music and joy was in me.  I was dancing my blue jeans and bra....loose, stretch marked belly skin slightly hanging over my body, with all it's scars and imperfections, just feeling the joy of the music and the moment.

And I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  Now there have been times in my life where the sight on myself would make me stop dancing...would make me start to look at my flaws and take away my joy.  Today was not that that moment, I realized I was a masterpiece.  Physically and mentally, my body has done amazing things...made babies, healed from surgical and emotional trauma, pushed itself to exhaustion, held my babies, loved my husband....this body.

It always saddens me when I see women tearing away at themselves through comparisons with other women.  Each of us have a body unique to ourselves.  Some of us are thin,some are thick.  Some muscular, some soft.  A wide range of colors, an infinite collection of exquisite uniqueness. All beautiful.

I remembered being that girl that was terrified to change for gym class and in that dance this morning, I think she healed.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Pinterest Recipe Success...Cottage Pancakes (Low Carb, High Protein)

I love Pinterest...let me correct that, I am a Pinterest disciple.  I have found so many helpful things on Pinterest, as well as some hilarious shit.  It's been especially helpful with finding exercises, active activities, and healthier food options.  I love pancakes, but I wanted something that had more protein and less carbs.

Kathleen's Cottage Pancakes

I made these this morning and they come from the Fountain Avenue Kitchen blog.  Clicking on the caption of the above photo will take you to the recipe.  The only alteration I made to my attempt is that I halved the recipe, since it's just my hubs and I, but used the same 1/4 tsp of baking soda and I added a little bit of vanilla, because I love me some vanilla in my pancakes.  These turned out WONDERFUL.  They has a great taste and the hubby really like them.  I was so proud of them, I took the photo to record the greatness for posterity :).

This is a great recipe if you still want pancakes, but don't want to heaviness of a traditional pancake.  It comes out very similar to a crepe, but can also be livened up with fruit or other spreads.  Honestly, these were wonderful with just the butter and maple syrup as, even though it didn't have sugar in the recipe, it had a slight sweet taste to it due to the cottage cheese.  Give it a try!!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What's it worth to you??

With my full time job and National Guard drill, this is my first day off in eleven days, so I slept in, laid in bed and cuddled with my pillow for a while, and am chilling at Cafe 407 in Liverpool, sipping on the most exquisite hazelnut cappuccino.

Hazelnut Goodness at Cafe 407

I guess I could have gone to the gym.  I will go later with the hubby, but right now, after 11 days of work, only three of those eleven without some sort of workout, I decided to relax and take a break.

Don't worry, I am getting to my point.  I see frequently on Pinterest fitness boards, on Instagram, on Facebook these resounding messages...."No'll do it if it's worth it to you....fat lasts longer than flavor"....yes, I get it. To be healthy, we should exercise, we should eat healthy, but have you ever looked at some of these pages and wonder how much of life is being led?

The hubs and I are still going strong on our new lifestyle of eating healthy and exercising.  We are seeing ourselves get stronger, having more endurance, sleeping better, just overall feeling like badasses. We are not waivering in the slightest, but we also love to live life, to experience the world around us. It could be a life thing.  Many of those that are on Instagram are young, they feel like they have their whole life ahead of them, all the time in the world.   My husband is 50, I am 44, and I have had a brush with cancer.  We don't see our life as an infinite set of days...we understand that our time here is precious.

Now I am not going to go into some existential life and death thought stream and I am not knocking those that try to motivate others to be their best selves.  I guess what I am asking the fitness community to remember is to live life outside the gym and eating plans.....

Is it worth it to me to put off or not enjoy a surprise visit from my oldest son because I planned on going to the gym? Nope...
Is it worth it to me to not enjoy the box of Ferrero Rocher that my hubby bought me for Valentine's, worrying about the sugar and calories involved? Nope....
Should I feel bad when the hubs and I end our work weeks with vodka and sodas, having deep discussions, listening to Rush, and laughing our asses off? Nope....

Will all of this slow down my progress? Probably.  It will take me longer to get to what I am working towards, but I would rather enjoy the moments.  Those moments are NOT going to ruin my progress and in the end, when we breathe our last breath, it's not going to be the workouts or eating plans that we remember.....

It's going to be the wonderful moments.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A little over one month in and who cares what the scale says...

I believe society, women especially, are brainwashed with numbers...the number on the size of our jeans, the number of likes a post may get, the amount of calories in ice cream, the number on the scale...always the number on the scale.

I started on yet another attempt to lose weight the last week of 2016.  In the past, I've had mixed success in losing weight.  One time I got down to 135 pounds and while I looked good, I wasn't strong like I wanted to be.  Then I was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma and spent a year and a half at a very stressful job and put it all back on.  Back to the last week of 2016...I decided to get serious, to get strong and to heal...not only from the stress, but from the toxic body image that has plagued me from my teen years.  I started off strong and posted almost every workout, most of my meal prep, and I'm pretty sure I generally overloaded and annoyed my Facebook and Instagram friends. 

On the outside I was looking empowered, but on the inside, I was still worried about that number on the scale.  For two straight weeks in the beginning of strength training and eating well, I not only didn't lose weight, I gained weight and it set my mind on this cyclical nightmare of overthinking and damning my metabolism.  Here's the thing...I was still kicking ass and I was feeling pretty wonderful until I saw that number.  Sometime within that time, my hubby and I went to breakfast at Café 407 in Liverpool. I went there for the food, because I love me a good coffee shop, not knowing that the café itself funds a bigger project called Ophelia's Place.  I picked up one of their brochures and saw this....

When I got home I checked out the website, learning more about their mission. It really spoke to me. Mulling it all over, I realized that I STILL wasn't working out and eating well because I loved my body and wanted to nourish it, it was because I hated it, felt like it was flawed and needed to be fixed. Want to know something more amazing? I realized that my weight, that number on the scale, has affected my body image far greater than anything else. Far more than having children (I loved being pregnant) and far more than even my partial hemipelvectomy for chondrosarcoma. Let that sink in....cancer affected my body image LESS than my weight has.

There was no going back at that point. I took the scale and I put it in the closet. I went to the gym and I worked out like I honored my body, not hated it. I ate better because I wanted to nourish it, not starve it. My husband and I became consistent in our new lifestyle and branched out to try new things, like the new Suspension Trainer we now have in our basement.

Today, I stepped on the scale only because we were in a new month and guess what? I've lost one whole pound in a month of going to the gym, sometimes twice a day, hitting the treadmill, lifting heavy, lifting light, jumping on the mini trampoline, doing yoga trying not to fart, tabatas in the basement, working and sweating my ass off more than I ever pound....

......and I could give a shit less. For the loss of one pound and the toxic mindset that my body is flawed, this is what I gained:

1. A more positive attitude.
2. Looking in the mirror and seeing what makes me beautiful, not what is ugly.
3. Not comparing myself to everyone as my body is unique to me.
4. The knowledge that life should not be overshadowed by a few pounds.
5. That I am, indeed, a fucking goddess.

For too long, so many of us have thrown away our accomplishments, have been discouraged, because of the gravitational pull of our bodies to the Earth. We forget our hard work and we forget our beauty. I always cringe when I see a commercial or a post on Instagram when a person loses weight and states, "I'm never going back to that person again!" Honey, you're still that person, just in a smaller shell and that bigger shell was just as beautiful as the smaller. Don't get me wrong, I love that in my hard work, my pants are no longer digging into me and I am starting to see just the baby bit of muscle definition, but, even at 135, I was the same person I am now. Weight doesn't change you, life experiences, lesson learned, making mistakes, living life...that's what changes you.

If you want the TL/DR version of this whole post, let it be this....screw the scale, don't compare, don't let others put down your unique beauty or pray on your self-esteem. Take care, love, and nourish yourself.

Here's to Month 2!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

On Not Caring What Others Think At the Gym....

I've always been intimidated at the gym...the scale of that intimidation falls from highly to slightly depending on where I am fitness or motivation wise.  I was not an athletic girl in middle and high school.  I loved science and reading and music.  Most of my exercise was in marching band.  I was on the track team once, but only joined because of a cute boy and since I couldn't run well, I was put on shot put, an event I came in dead last in our regional meet. 

Needless to say, I wasn't a jock.  While I was a highly active child, string bean thin, riding bikes and playing outside, once I hit puberty, which coincided with my best friend moving away and the death of my grandmother, I put on quite a bit of weight and have been overweight to varying degrees my whole life.  Even when I was in the Army National Guard, I wasn't highly excited about fitness.  I hated running and, admittedly, didn't put in the work to be optimal.  When I got out in 2003, I even said, "The only time I plan on ever running again is if I am being chanced by a dinosaur!"

Sometime in 2013, when I was trying to get back in the Air National Guard and after my enlistment, I started to get pretty excited about fitness.  I think it had something to do with the fact that there were many on this base that took it pretty seriously.  Many were in cross fit, scoring "Excellent" on their Fitness Assessments.  Their attitude was infectious...but I preferred running because I was by myself, at my own pace.  Being in the gym with all those cross fit enthusiasts wasn't very motivating to me.

2014, however, saw my chondrosarcoma diagnosis and subsequent surgery.  If I was intimidated before, it was through the roof when I was cleared to work out again.  For one, I couldn't walk fast, much less run, because I still had a residual nerve damage that caused a transient foot drop (this eventually resolved itself mostly) when I tried to walk fast or run and my floppy foot would trip me up.  In the gym, after doing leg work to build up my right leg, which had atrophied, I would have to grab a hold of something to get myself off of the floor, or limped off the machines.  I let it get to my head and discourage me because I was comparing myself to people.  People who had been working hard and killing it longer than me and people who didn't have to come back from a major bone resection and muscles reattached in ways that still boggle my mind (my orthopedic oncologist, Dr. Timothy Damron, is a rock star).

This defeatist attitude allowed me to stay away from the gym and put on more weight. In 2017, I don't plan on letting it get to me anymore.  Something in my mind is finally clear of all that nonsense.  I walk right up to cables, regardless of the swole bros and gals (I say that respectfully), and get to work, even if that means I'm using light weights or my leg gets wobbly.  I hit the bench press even if I am only pressing 65lbs.  I walk on the treadmill regardless of whether my weak leg makes me walk heavy like Frankenstein's monster or makes me drift like I'm taking a sobriety test. The way I see it, I have just as much right to be there as anyone and I will not slink back into the shadows.

I say this because there are many people who avoid the gym.  You might feel like you are being judged or made fun of. Hell, maybe, in the past, you WERE judged or made fun of.  Maybe you compare yourselves to others.  Maybe you have a significant amount of weight to lose or, like some of my fellow CS survivors, have physical disabilities, or not familiar with the equipment.  We need to stop caring what others think.  We need to own our fitness and not let this intimidation bring us down.  We need to say, "F**k it!" and walk into the gym like a boss, like a bad ass, like a warrior.

Let's do this!!!

Monday, January 9, 2017

How motivation comes at the best times....

This weekend was an odd weekend.  I had drill, was pretty draggy, my residual nerve damage in my right leg from my CS surgery flared up....and I found out that an uncle of mine died of cancer.  I wish I could say we were close, but I did have fond memories of him and it saddened me, especially since I didn't find out until after his funeral.  Last night I soaked in my Epsom salt bath with lavender and jasmine oil and let it soothe my damaged leg and pained heart.  The bath helped, as did a much needed early bedtime, and I was ready to get back to it this morning. 

I only occasionally have nerve issues with my leg, but when it hits, it's like a reminder of my cancer diagnosis and my altered state of physical being.  I knew that my morning workout was going to have to be easier, even though I wanted to push harder, so it discouraged me. 

Our base gym has two televisions.  Most of the time it's on two channels, Fox News (which I mainly ignore) and ESPN.  So, I'm on the treadmill and this commercial comes on. 

I'm very familiar with Jim Valvano and his awesome 1993 ESPY speech. I've watched it more times than I can remember.  This commercial for the Jimmy V Foundation really got to me and that's without even hearing the audio.  My cancer fight was pretty simple.  I had surgery, I healed, I go to my scans, but it was still a fight.  It wasn't like the people here in this commercial, but I know what it's like to overcome the news and everything afterwards.  It reminded me that I was a fighter and to not give up. 

After that commercial, I upped my speed and incline and instead of lamenting that my fellow Airmen in the gym were running and squatting heavy, two things that are hard for me, I remembered that I am in no competition with them, nor does it matter if I can keep up....I'm coming back from my own battle, one they do not know or cannot understand unless they go through it.  

Hope and perseverance are things you have to have to live a life after a cancer diagnosis.  There are stretches of time where I don't even think about it.  I don't fear it like I used to, but I also know the possibility of a scan coming back questionable.  I know my life can turn on a dime.  Those with cancer that have to fight so much harder than I ever did have my utmost respect because even in their darkest times, they continue to motivate and inspire.  Life is a fragile thing so live it out loud as best as you can.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy Anniversary, my love!!

Today, my sweetie (Cafe Racer) and I are celebrating our third anniversary!!  He's my rock, the sweetest guy I've ever know.  He has seen me at my best and at my worst.  He saw me through cancer, through times of self-doubt, and always encouraged me to follow my dreams.

Happy Anniversary, my sweet man!!  I am thrilled that you are my partner in crime in this crazy trip called Life!!

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