Monday, September 30, 2013

My Weight Loss Journey

I can do that with my pants now, but too bad my body doesn't look like the one in the picture!  *sigh* It will come, in time, I guess.  It's been slow-going, but that's ok ...because it is going.  I continually keep reminding myself that I didn't put all that weight on over night.  Or in a month.  Or even in a year.  Therefore, I can't expect it to just be gone in a month or two.

Losing weight for me, has been different for me then it is for a lot of people.  Therefore I'm not sure if anything I say will help anyone else.  The journey hasn't been one of a lot of exercise.  Nor has it been one of a strict diet.  No pills or magic juices.  No herbs or "hunger-controlling" shakes.  Just some simple changes in my life.

Even as a small kid, I couldn't stand to eat breakfast.  I don't think there's ever been a day in my life where I'd wake up hungry.  Quite the contrary, when I'd first get up in the morning, the thought of food would literally make my stomach convulse.  It made me nauseous.  

In all honesty, I don't think I really get hungery in the sense most people would think about it, at all.  Nothing about my body is ever simple.  The way I would feel hunger, is that all of a sudden I'd get really sick to my stomach, and I'd feel like I was going to pass out.  I'd immediately think "Oh my gosh!  I need to eat something, I'm getting SICK!".  I'd look at the clock and  then think to myself "jeez, it's 4pm and I haven't eaten anything yet today.  No wonder I'm getting sick!  -Or it may be 2pm, or 5pm, or even 7pm.  

When my kids were little it wouldn't be a problem, because although I'd still personally skip breakfast, I'd eat lunch and supper with them when I made it for them.  I would always remember to feed my kids, I just have some sort of problem remembering to feed myself! lol  Once the kids hit school age, I stopped eating lunch too, because I wasn't making a lunch for myself.  My youngest child just turned 18, and for the past few years she was so busy with afer-school activities that I didn't really have a set time for our supper. 

The weight just started slowly creeping up on me from my poor eating habits.  My body was in starvation mode, so when I would eat something, my body would hoard it not knowing when it was going to get food the next time.  Bad, bad, bad eating (or more like non-eating) habit!

Meds have attributed to some of the weight gain too.  The weight gain I had on Amitriptyline is just ridiculous.  The med didn't even help my symptoms.  At all.  I felt like all I was doing was taking my fat pill.  Regardless, I stayed on it forever because my rheumatologist at The Cleveland Clinic swore by it and it's pretty much the only med that they prescribe there for Fibromyalgia patients.  -At least at the time I was going there, anyway.  I finally said the heck with it and stopped taking it.  I seriously didn't feel one ounce different taking it, than I did not taking it.  Stopping the Amitriptyline has definitely helped me with my weight loss.

In April of this year, I'd finally just decided that I'd had enough.  I'm sick of being lonely, and knew that my chances of ever having a guy be interested in my again were slim to none with the way I looked.  I was up to 271 pounds.  Besides wanting to find my soul mate, I just detested the way I looked.  I wouldn't take pictures with my kids or my grandkids, because I was too ashamed of how I looked.  I was embarrassed when I'd go to the store or anywhere in public.  

My best friends mom had been on an extended vacation to her home state, helping to take care of her elderly mother with dementia.  She'd been there a few months, and was nearing the time she was going to come back home.  This lady has been kind of like a 2nd mom to me.  I'd known her for 20 years.  My dad knew their family before I was even born!  She called me and wanted me to fly to MD and stay with her for 10 days, then ride home with her.  I'd never flown before in my life and I've had an ungodly fear of heights my since I was little.  I agred anyway though, thinking it would be good for me to get away for a bit.  Imagine my embarrassment and horror when I went to fasten my seatbelt on the plane, and it wouldn't even come close.  I was so embarrassed when the flight attendent handed me a belt extender.  Just humiliated.

This would be a good time to say that I had zero self-esteem, from all of the nasty, vile comments my ex-husband would make before he left me.  -He left me 2 months after my diagnosis was confirmed at The Cleveland Clinic, siting my health issues as being "too stressful" for him.  There's a whole blog post on here from last year about chronic illness ending in divorce for me.  The airplane seatbelt ordeal?  Yeah, it tanked me to about -100 on the self-esteem scale.  

After I'd been at the house for about a day, Sara said to me "Amy, we're going on a diet.  I have a lot of weight to lose, and so do you.  I'm worried about you being so heavy with the health conditions you already have.  I'm not saying this to be mean, I'm saying it because I love you."  I knew she was right.  I didn't want to be fat anymore.  Well, she was pretty strict on the diet thing.  Now don't get me wrong, I was stuffed.  I never ever went hungry.  But she forced me to eat.  She'd allow me 30-45 minutes to get woke up, then no matter how much I protested, she forced me to eat breakfast.  She hates carbs, and was a strict carb natzy, but I had all of the protein, veggies, and fruits that I could ever want.  

Sara started me off on this weight loss adventure.  She was so afraid that I'd go back to my old habits once I returned home.  I didn't though.  I admit that I'm not nearly as strict on carbs as she was, but I do eat a higher protein - lower carb diet.  I do (most days anyway) eat at least 3 meals a day and try to eat a snack or two.  I've been really bad the past few days though, and haven't been eating enough.  I haven't been eating breakfast.  I'm so incrediably proud though, of every pound that I've lost, that I will start forcing enough food (including breakfast) down my throat.  The weight loss kicked off with Sara on April 25th of this year.  I've noticed that every so often I start to fall back into the non-eating trap, but once I realize it I pull myself back up and start making sure I eat again.

I didn't exercise at all before.  I still don't exercise very much, because between my low lung function with the COPD, the pain my arthritis causes me, and the every day pain and fatigue of fibro, I just can't do much.  I do, do some now though.  I can only make it on my exercise bike for 2-3 minutes at a time.  If I possibly can that day, I ride it though.  On a really good day, I'll do it twice a day.  Some days instead of riding the bike, I walk around the block.  Again, on a good day, I'll do it twice a day.  Just recently, I started doing Zumba.  I do it here at home, using YouTube. I searched "beginning Zumba routines" and I have a few saved to a favorites list.  Right now, I can only make it through 2 songs in a row.  It's just a little over 7 minutes to complete them.  If I can, I do it twice a day.  Some days, I can't do it at all.  I figure that when you're as obese as I was (and still am), that any movement or exercise is better than no movement or exercise.  I'm not going to let it discourage me, because soon those 7 minutes will turn into 10 minutes.  Then 15 minutes. Then 30 minutes.  Then before I know it, I'll be able to do the whole 60 minute work out.  

I researched a lot about this food thing, since it's my biggest problem.  I learned that I don't have to gag down a big breakfast.  As long as I eat something as soon as I physically can after getting up, that it's ok.  The dietician I went to, told me even if it's a handful of dry cereal that's still enough to start my metabolism for the day.  I've also learned about all of the anti-oxidents in strawberries and blueberries.  After my breakfast, whatever it may be that day, I try within an hour or two, to go make a big huge glass of homemade fruit smoothie.  I use a handful of whatever frozen fruit I have on hand.  I make sure that I use either strawberries or blueberries in it, mixed with at least one other type of frozen fruit that I've picked up.  I add about 1/2 cup of plain yogurt to it, along with some honey to sweeten it, and either some juice or skim milk.  I pour it into a quart sized glass and I sip on it for a few hours.  -I've never been able to drink things very fast.  Within an hour or two after making the smoothie (usually I still have some left in my glass) I try to eat something for lunch.  Sometimes a low-fat turkey or ham sandwich, sometimes a salad, sometimes a couple eggs scrambled with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese and some red & green bell peppers added in.  I keep my smoothie sitting there and usually "snack" on it between lunch & supper until it's gone.  

I don't add sugar to anything anymore except for one cup of coffee in the mornings.  I have to have it sweetened, and I refuse to use any type of artificial sweetner.  My rheumatologist at The Cleveland Clinic told me that artifical sweetner had been proven to cause more pain in fibro patients so to avoid it at all costs.  After that cup of coffee in the mornings, all I drink the rest of the day and night is ice water.  I've found in my research that the ice in the water helps you to burn more calories.  They say that your body uses more calories because it has to heat the water back up to normal body temperature, so the colder the better.  I've also learned that fresh lemon juice also helps to burn fat, as does cayenne pepper.  So, I try to always have fresh lemons in the refridgerator, and I cut & squeeze a couple of wedges into every glass of water.  I try to add cayenne pepper sauce to a lot of my food.  

Really, this is about all I've done to lose my weight.  I don't count carbs ...I just try to be conscience and not eat a lot of them.  I don't weight or measure my food.  When I found out that a lot of my weight problem was because I don't eat enough food, I was kind of mind-blown.  I'll be honest, I still don't usually eat as much in a day as I truly should.  I tried keeping track of everything I ate in a day for a couple weeks, and it was pure torture to try and hit the numbers that I was supposed to hit for a day.  -The calories, the protein, the carbs, the sodium, etc.  I kept track of all of it.  I was so full and it was honestly tiring trying to take in as much as I was truly supposed to.  It's just mind-blowing!

So, I've lost 39 pounds now since April 25th.  It's slow going, but it's going.  Every pound shed gives me back just a tiny bit of self-esteem.  Every pound shows me that I'm in control of this thing. Not the other way around.  Every pound, makes me a little more proud of myself.  I ran across a few photos of me earlier this month, that had been taken in January of this year.  I truly didn't realize what 30-some pounds lost looked like until I saw myself in January.  I seriously almost bawled at what I had looked like.  I made a college to show myself then, and show myself now.  That's the picture that's below.  I'm sure when I lose another 30-some pounds and college that pic with my current pic, I'll be just as blown away.  I will not ever give up.  One day, maybe a year or so from now even, I'll be back down to a healthy weight.  I'm not in a rush, I look at every single pound as a victory!  Thanks for getting me started on this Sara.  I'll always be grateful, and I'll always love you!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Juppy Baby Walker Momemtum Review

Remember the days of bending over to hold your babies hands as they learn to walk?  Remember how painful and back-braking this would get?  Well, those days are now over thanks to the Juppy Baby Walker Momemtum!  

Not only is this better for mommy and daddy's backs, it's also better on baby because they don't have to have their arms extended over their heads.  The Juppy also comes with built-in safety features too, with two velcro straps that overlap the zipper on the back.  The Juppy provides a sense of safety and security for your child, as they start to take those first steps!  It helps to build their self-confidence, as they know they're safe & snug while taking those first steps!

I really do think this is the neatest thing since sliced bread!  People with chronic pain conditions suffer enough from standing and walking.  Add in stooping over, and we're done for!  The Juppy is not only great for those of us with chronic pain though, as stooping over makes anyone's back ache!  I know that my 20-week pregnant daughter-in-law really appreciates the Juppy right now lol.  

The Juppy comes in a variety of colors: Yellow, Blue, Pink, and Light Blue.  With Christmas right around the corner, this would make an awesome gift!  -Even for parent's to be.  You can pick up one in yellow, so it's unisex if the gender hasn't been determined!  

Here's a picture of my granddaughter using the Juppy Baby Walker Momemtum, and she feels so safe & secure that she's even waving to grandma!

Make sure that you stay in-the-know with Juppy, by "liking" them on Facebook, following them on Twitter and Pinterest, and of course checking in on the Blog regularly.  You can even find them on YouTube and watch demonstrations of the Juppy Baby Walker Momemtum in use!

The Juppy requires parent assistance at all times, so you don't have to worry about your baby falling down stairs or getting somewhere they shouldn't be.  It's a "one size fits all" -not to exceed 35 pounds, and is made from 100% cotton that's machine washable!  The parent straps accomodate heights from 4'11" - 6'11" so anyone can use it and save their backs!

I'm very happy to have received this product to review, and want to thank Juppy for the opportunity!  This product is awesome!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Educational Alphabet Flash Cards Review

I had the pleasure of reviewing this set of educational alphabet flash cards sold by Educational Toys Planet. I have to say that I was very impressed with the cards. They're a sturdy thickness, so that they aren't easily bent up by little hands. The photo's are bright and colorful, and the letters and words are a nice size!

These cards are rated for ages 3+, but in my personal opinion it's never too early to start working with your child on educational things. My granddaughter is 26 months old and I can tell you that she has been loving these cards! She will sit and work with these cards for a half-hour or more at a time, and she's learning them too! She names the letters, and the pictures that match the letters! Here's a few pictures of her and my son working with them:
With Christmas slowly sneaking up on us, these cards would make an awesome stocking stuffer! You can get a set of your own by clicking HERE! I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Family Game Night Giveaway

Welcome to the Winning Movies Family Game Night Giveaway!

Hosted by: Savory Savings

Sponsored by: Winning Moves

And a shout-out to our co-host: Giveaway Monkey!


Spending quality time with your kids, family and friends is of increasing importance and a great way to build good relationships and effective communication.  But sometimes, it is just hard to figure out what to do.  What really could a 45-year-old have talk about with a five-year-old for an extended period of time?  How about crocodile teeth?  Or number sequences?  How about the five-year-old telling the adults they are “IN TROUBLE!”?  Family games nights are a great way to have quality interactions with everyone in your family.  And companies like Winning Moves are helping that happen by being the leading producer of amazing games such as Crocodile Dentist, Crazy Eights, Trouble and more!  Krista over at Savory Savings had a chance to review these three fun and interactive games with her family and shared her thoughts in a review post. 

Family Game Night can build so many special memories. My youngest child will be 18 this coming Sunday, and we still have a game night at least once a month. At her age, it's now spread to include a group of her friends to play with us. We just had one this past Saturday, and it feels so good to me to sit there and see a group of 18-21 year olds sitting around my table laughing, and having good healthy fun. There are so many badthings they could be out doing. I know that my daughter will cherish these memories for a lifetime and carry the tradition on to her own children some day. With having fibro and other chronic pain conditions, sitting around a table playing board games is something that my body can handle. I can still be included in the fun, and can build memories forever. – At her age, our favorites now are Cranium and Mad Gab!

Even better, now she gets to give away some games from Winning Moves to one very lucky winner to grow their family game night collection!

This giveaway is open to US residents, ages 18 and older.  It will run from September 24, 2013 through October 8, 2013 at 11 PM CST.

Good luck!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pizza Casserole

We all have those days where we just don't feel like cooking.  Pizza Casserole is one of those recipes that I keep in my arsenal for a low-energy and/or a high pain day.  It's so quick and easy ...and good!

Cook a box of Rotini Pasta al dente.  Make sure it's al dente, so that it doesn't get over-done in the oven.  Once done, drain the pasta and mix in a jar (or 2 if your jars are little) of pizza sauce.  Mix in pepperoni and any other pizza toppings that you like.  Put into a 9x13 casserole dish.  Top with shredded mozzarella (or Italian Blend) cheese.  Slap some more pepperoni on top, then bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  

That's it!  So quick, easy, and simple.  Great if you need a quick, easy meal.