Monday, March 26, 2018

Wellness Journey: Part 4

Phase 3 of the Skinny Utah program is the Remain or Maintain phase. I completed the program and am happy with the results. For those tuning in for the reveal and you want to read about the whole long journey read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Here is a before and after...or After and before!

Left: March 20, Weight: 176.2. Right: Dec 2017, Weight: 207.4

So far, I have lost 30 pounds in 10 weeks on the Skinny Utah program! Before I go over my goals for this next phase I want to list some of the things that I have learned so far.

1. I can do hard things. Sounds a bit cliche, but it's true.

2. I can go without sugar and still be alive!

3. When I was in ketosis I could feel it. I felt chilly all the time. I felt like I was burning fat too.

4. Hard is hard so pick your hard.

5. Reduced body odor and sweat.

7. Cleared up my skin.  It's smoother too because it's hydrated and happy.

8. I need to be accountable to someoene in order to be more successful.

The following are things that in general help people like me, to lose significant amounts of weight. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a pro at this. I have no training in nutrition. I have not read a tons books on dieting. I am sharing this based on my own experience and because I have a poor memory and want to be able to reference this later, if I need to go through this again. Weight loss in general is hard work. These are some simple things that have helped me lose and then maintain so far.
  1. Be mindful. Before, I would eat any crumb, child's leftovers, scraps left on the table, etc etc. I hate to waste food because in my mind, wasted food = wasted money. So I would eat the table scraps, the broken pieces left in the bottom of the bag, fallen candies on the floor, etc. I am getting disgustingly honest here. I would rather eat a chocolate chip that fell on the floor than toss it in the garbage. And then I became a human garbage disposal without me even noticing. Since this journey I have realized that good food is more expensive. However, it is more filling and can be more satisfying, the more I eat and it and get used to it. I can purchase less, but higher quality food because I am eating less of it and it fills me better.
  2. Water. My sister-in-law Emily, who is currently in med school, told me an interesting biological fact (I hope I get the info right). The nerve that connects the stomach to the brain gives the same signal for thirst and hunger to our brains. In other words, sometimes when we think we're hungry we're actually thirsty. I had read that in multiple places that water is a great replacement for a snack. I had experienced it for myself over 12 years ago when I lost all the baby weight after Samuel was born. But I got used to substituting water with food or soda.
  3. Less or no sugar. The first week of this journey I had headaches daily adjusting to the lack of sugar. Now, when I eat any processed sugar, in tiny amounts, I get a headache almost immediately. I am still on a search for alternative sweeteners that don't taste gross. I have tried powdered stevia and the aftertaste is vile. Although a version of stevia is in my protein powder and it tastes fine. I have purchased liquid stevia and not yet tried it. I recently tried powdered Splenda, no calorie sweetener, made from stevia plant. That was much more bearable to eat. I have tried a small amount of coconut sugar but it's not very strong. I want to try Swerve. Honey is good but I want to find more alternatives. I think I will try the goal of one treat per week. It'll force me to be more mindful and not just mindlessly bake and eat. It will help me make wiser baking and shopping choices too. But I will also not feel deprived if I allow myself to eat it sometimes instead of never. What do you do that helps?
  4. Portion control. My portions just kept getting larger and larger over the years. I believe my stomach expanded. It used to be that one can of soda used to be too much for me to drink because I would get full from the bubbly drink. By January of this year, I could easily consume at least 36 oz of soda and still not be full. I didn't think that was possible but I proved to myself that it was! So, when I was limited to 500 calories per day I thought I would die of hunger. But, to my astonishment, I am still here! And when I had to eat more food in Phase 2, I felt so full and bloated. I guess my stomach has shrunk!
  5. None or less fast food. Like I said earlier, I got into some expensive and unhealthy eating habits=eating fast food at least once a week. Most of it was fried or greasy. I dine out at a restaurant two times during the whole 9 week program. It was hard to find restaurants that did not use rancid oils (canola, vegetable, etc) or sugar in everything. Since then, especially because it's my birthday month and I get all these freebies from restaurants, I have eaten out more often. But I scour the menu online before ordering. I have made healthier choices. I still look forward to eating a juicy hamburger on a white bun or pizza complete with sauce and cheese but I am trying to hold off. I want to take on the fun and junky foods slowly so I don't binge and gain a ton back. 
  6. Keep body moving. I became more sedentary. I am not sure if it was because the food I ate made me more tired=wanted to sit and sleep more. Or if I was just lazy. I like to think the former. I enjoy certain forms of exercise but not others. I like aerobic activities like Zumba or walking more than weight lifting or hardcore things like P90x or circuit training. I want to pick up running again too. I have started HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercises per the SkinnyUtah program 3x/week. It burns fat faster by getting your heart rate revved up and then rest to allow heart to calm faster, does that make sense? I only need to do this for 5-10 minutes per day and then exercise in addition to that. My goal is 4-5 times per week. 
  7. Vitamins and nutrients. I want to take a good multi-vitamin, Vitamin D (the happy vitamin), and others. What do you take?
  8. Sleep . When I am more rested I am less stressed, wake up with a better attitude to bring on the day, and I eat less! Plus, I have read that you digest food better if you get more restful and enough hours of sleep in the day (less at night + a nap during day or at least 8 hours straight at night). I did really well the first few weeks, but then life got busier and it forced me to stay up later. Then Colin started waking up at night causing me to wake up with less effective sleep. I also eat less when I don't stay up late....see next tip.
  9. Stop eating before 9 pm. Or 8 pm. If I get hungry after dinner I try to eat a fruit or veggie. And drink water. 
  10. Planning. I have had to be more organized with meal planning to make sure I am prepared for myself. If I didn't thaw meat out my go-to was tuna fish or eggs. But if dinner was later I would get hangry which would force me to binge snack. Before I would go to yogurt or bread to hold me over until I had dinner ready. Or buy take-out or frozen pre-made meals. Now, if I am not as prepared I eat almonds to hold me over until I am done cooking. 
  11. Stress.  How does this not exist in life? Some weeks are just plain stressful. But...when I am stressed I eat, as I discussed in the earlier posts. So, avoiding it by saying "No" to projects or  to people can help. I am trying to organize my life more too to manage my stress.
  12. Little rewards or incentives, what's your motivation? When I lost 20 pounds I took myself to have my eyebrows threaded. When I was done with the program I got my hair cut/dyed. I am trying to find non-food related rewards. 
  13. Keep track, be accountable. When I don't write down or record on an app like My Fitness Pal, I lose track of what I eat. I tend to eat more snack and larger portions when I don't weigh or measure my food or write it down. I am getting better at guessing how many calories are in my foods but I still need to be more vigilant, especially now that I am not accountable to someone. 
  14. Less processed food. Buy less, see less in the cupboards, less temptation to eat it. The better for my body. I am really trying to eat real, whole foods, as much as possible. I don't think I want to go totally "clean" and eat nothing processed ever again. In fact, I have already eaten out and processed foods. It's not very realistic for our family situation right now. However, I am trying to do better. I cannot change overnight but I can make one choice at a time. I still buy my kids sugary cereals and fruit snacks but I try to buy whole fat Greek yogurt instead of sugar loaded brands. Make homemade cookies instead of pre-packaged kinds. What do you do?
  15. Gratitude. I wrote 5 things down daily that I was grateful for that day. Simple to more deep things. I have stopped doing this and I have noticed my attitude has become less positive. I need to start again because it just adds to the overall health.
  16. Determination. Find the motivation and get the willpower. For me, the money that I paid certainly helped. But mainly, I wanted something and went for it with all that I had. 
So I started at size 18/20. I am now at a 14/16, still L/XL. As my mom said, I was born with hips. Regardless of the weight loss, I still have a larger frame, especially my hips (they were great for birthing, haha) so I still wear larger sizes (grumble).  But I'd like to be 155 pounds again. This is what I weighed when we lived in Paris, between Samuel and Jocelyn. I am about 15-20 pounds away from that goal. I have only been in the maintain the same weight on my own for a couple weeks now. I am still learning how to stay at this weight. My goal is to continue working on adding new foods to see how my body responds. To continue to eat healthy and enjoy food. I was gluttonous before and it was kind of gross. I would just about anything put in front of me, whether it tasted good, or not. I have gained a healthier appreciation for food. I want to get to a healthy relationship with food where it becomes FUEL to my body and not a treat or "must get through my day until I can eat again" mentality. It's a learning process that I am willing to take on. I don't want to fall off the bandwagon again. I have more confidence in my health and myself than I have had in years. Now, I hope to keep making my overall health, physical, mental and emotional well-being my priority and to keep it that way! 

What has helped you? Other than genes, how do you maintain your weight? How do you balance your life?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wellness Journey: Part 3

I kept going back and forth on the date, realizing there was no ideal time to decide to make a change. I couldn't wait for the motivation, my schedule to clear, for it to be convenient for any change to occur. That is what I learned early on. It's never convenient to change because it's hard. So I just went for it and chose a date.

I started Skinny Utah on January 6, 2018. Starting weight: 207.4.

This is a brief synopsis of the program timing. The first two days I was instructed to load up on healthy fats. The next 40 days were like an extreme Ketogenic diet. Then the following 3 weeks were a re-set phase, adding back in healthy fats. The third phase is Maintain phase, which I am currently in now.

The first two days I was instructed to eat three normal meals plus a  dessert, if I wanted. I wasn't going to be able to enjoy these foods for a long time. So I did. I splurged at Cafe Rio complete with my last Dr Pepper. German pancakes for breakfast and our traditional Galettes des Rois, I didn't want to miss out on that.

Day 3 is when the hard began. I wanted to share something that I learned from my aunts. We had a Knell ladies night in October, during that first health challenge. My aunt Emily, I believe, remarked how one of her friends coined this little phrase about weight and health. "Hard is hard, so choose your hard." That really struck me. It was HARD trying to lose weight and be healthy. But it was harder to be in pain, tired and unable to fit into my own wardrobe. I had to choose which hard to battle because either way it was going to be difficult.

The program is a 9-week regime. Here are some bullet points that just make it easier to explain.
  1. 9-week program divided into 2 phases
  2. It's supported and supervised by a professional nutritionist and doctor
  3. They do not sell or encourage protein bars or shakes, meals, etc. Just eating real food.
  4. It is supplement based-they provide you with natural supplements to your bodies specific needs
  5. It includes a Bio-Scan which points out my bodies unique food preferences and shows me my stressed organ biomarkers
  6. They guarantee that if you follow the program exactly that you will lose at least 20 pounds
  7. You go in for a BCA every two weeks (measure body fat, water weight, bone density, BMI)
  8. Report to them 3x/week online
  9. No exercise the first 40 days
  10. It's like an extreme Ketogenic diet 
  11. The only food consumed during the first 40 days were two servings of protein (limited types), two servings of fruit and two huge servings of  veggies, totaling 500-800 calories per day
  12. Drink half of my body weight of water in ounces
  13. No additional fats, oils, dairy, sugar, gluten, anything except the fruit, veggie and lean proteins
  14. Intermittent Fasting (to learn more about that read this )
  15. Sleep is importatnt
  16. Keep a gratitude journal
  17. Keep track of everything I eat, drink and bowel movements
  18. Weigh yourself at the same time each morning and write it down
  19. Avoid body soaps, creams, pedicures, massages etc with added fats and oils or chemicals.
That's the gist of the program. Sound intense? It was but it became easier each day.

The first two weeks were difficult emotionally, physically and a bit mentally. I was sooo tired, the first 5 days I went to bed before 9pm so I wouldn't pass out. I felt nauseous. I had headaches from toxic withdrawals. I craved sugars and all my comfort foods. I was a bit moody, especially at night. I asked for support a lot on Marco Polo app with friends and family. Although, I was prepared with a strict menu I was not expecting the time it would take to prepare two protein laden meals a day for myself in addition to cooking for my family, journaling and noting everything. More on that later. In general, it was hard. Had I not paid money to participate or didn't have emotional support from family, I would have thrown my hands in the air and given up. Easily. That would have been the easy thing to do. It's what I had done with all other previous diets.

The supplement schedule I created so that I wouldn't forget to take them. They're regimented by time of day, quantity, etc. I used pillboxes like an old person :)

I journaled my food and weight and other physical details on the right and my Gratitude was on the left. 

However, I did NOT feel hungry. I was amazed that the little amount of food and tiny bit of fat in the meat for only two meals a day sustained me. I began to feel more energetic the second week! The cravings began to go away, for all things garbage. Emotionally I still had cravings for sugars, carbs, dairy but I did NOT crave them physically. I found this to be most surprising. I almost always felt full and if I didn't it was because I did not eat enough veggies. Once those two weeks passed it was smooth sailing for the next month.  It was so exciting to step on the scale each morning and watch it go down!! It definitely got me out of bed in the morning.

The hardest times were travel, social events, traditional events (several birthdays), and times where I normally eat comfort foods (movie theater soda and popcorn). In general, January was very slow month. It was perfect. I kind of hibernated the first two weeks. I learned that I eat fast food and soda when I am out running errands during the day with Colin. So, I avoided that. I avoided the temptation, the sights the smells, all of it. Plus, I saved money by not shopping or eating out! But once February rolled around and I was in my routine, things got busy. I was extremely busy leading up to these two weekends with church calling, PTA commitments and creating a video.

Two particular events could not be avoided. I flew to Colorado for my sister Jennie's birthday/Olympic party. I avoided decadent chocolate cake, chick-fil-a, delicious looking Korean food and even prevented my sisters from going out to eat because I was so limited on what I could eat---basically nowhere. Then the next weekend, the last days of the first phase, we traveled to CO again, this time driving, to Tyler's Gpa's 90th birthday party. There was food all over--birthday cake, pizza, yummy treats, munchies, etc. Despite this busyness and social food of the weekend, I did not break. I owe it to the fact that I came prepared with my food scale, griddle, my supplements and even my own food. And again, full family support and not scrutiny. One night was pizza night, another comfort food that I sorely missed, and Tyler surprised me with a filet mignon steak that I could eat while I sat and smelled and saw the delicious pizza. It really hit the spot and I don't regret making the choice to eat that instead. It's still melting in my mouth :)

A note on Intermittent fasting. It was not as hard as I thought it would be. For this program, they asked me to eat within an 8-9 hour window of the day and fast for the remaining. So, I skipped breakfast. It wasn't' too difficult because I was nearly doing this anyway. When I began exercising in the fall, my friend Cierra read that if we eat before a workout that we simply burn what we just ate and not much more. So, I pushed myself to wait until after the workout to eat. Plus, my belly thanked me not shaking around breakfast. So I typically ate a brunch of eggs or oatmeal around 11 each day. With this program it got later and later especially when I was busy. I would sometimes eat as late as 2pm. I do not recommend this! I started to get light-headed and faint, lol. So I really tried to eat around noon.

I did begin to get bored of the same meals over and over again. I was allowed to use spices, herbs and Himalayan salt. They just couldn't have added salts or sugars. I made salad dressings with their recommended recipes but I just got used to eating plain romaine, especially in a pinch. The nutritionist, Karen, shared this recipe with me. Chicken stock, spinach, ground meat (I chose turkey) and I added some herbs and onion and bell pepper. Super quick and yummy!

I was basically in Ketosis the first 45 days, in my case. By the time I finished the first phase, I had lost 26 pounds!! This is the best photo I have of that busy weekend. I was preparing for an audition so this is a screenshot.

That is another subject. Although the scale was constantly going down I did still meet discouragement along the way. I did gain more confidence in myself. I felt beautiful again. However, I was met with two difficult trials. Two things that really really wanted me to break down and eat sugar. They were fairly small things but still sad for me personally. The first was the fact that I auditioned for a play that I really, really wanted to be in. It was honestly a big motivation to lose weight for this play because I thought it would help my chances in casting. Sadly, not only was I not cast at all I was not even given a callback. I was heartbroken. It still makes my heart hurt to talk about it. The second disappointment was that I did not win a second Facebook health challenge that my friend hosted again. I thought for SURE I would win the most body weight % lost. It happened simultaneously with this plan. I got 2nd place, losing by less than 1% . I could have won over $300 which I would have then used to help pay for this program again. Ugh, I was so ticked. Especially because the very next day I dropped another pound and I would have won!! So, despite the good things that happen, bad things do too. And life moves on. However, I DID NOT EAT MY EMOTIONS. It was the first time in a loooong time. Though, my family saw me eat them in a healthy way...I baked healthy brownies and yummy healthy ice cream as my solution. Fortunately, by this point I was allowed to eat cocoa powder and that helped immensely because all I wanted was Culver's custard or my cookie dough.

Once Phase 1 ended Phase 2 was a bit more complicated. I had to increase my calories dramatically by adding healthy fats. I had to be more vigilant. It wasn't spelled out for me as exact as before because I had more freedom. Something else I learned from this is that I am a hand-holder. I need my hand held by someone else to be pushed and motivated. I like someone else to do the research and tell me what to do and I will obey. I drove the Dr's nuts because I always had a long list of specific questions. I wanted to follow the plan 100% so that I would not fail. And I did about 98%. I admit that there were about 5 times when I "cheated". I ate three cheeze-it crackers on the long ride home from CO. Even that crappy processed powder cheese tasted so good. Several times I licked my fingers after making a dessert for the kids. Or tasting the dinner sauce. Took a bit of a brownie. Besides these times I was perfect. And when I did cheat, my kids would notice! Cecily in particular would call me out! "Mom, you can't eat THAT!" It was so helpful and encouraging that they cared enough to notice and remember and keep me accountable. And I notice two things about baking. The kids were asking less often "What's for dessert tonight?" And when they did want dessert, about once a week, I asked them to make it themselves. I couldn't resist eating the dough or smelling the baked goodness so in the first few weeks I avoided it and let them practice their skills.  Jocelyn made these experimental cookies. I took a photo juxtaposed to my snack. Cantaloupe has a lot of fructose so I had to weigh a tiny amount to eat for my snack that night...luckily, the cookies looked pretty gross so the temptation wasn't as great, haha.

So in Phase 2 I added almonds, natural nut butter, oatmeal and avocado and other healthy fats including coconut oil and small quantity olive oil. They were soooo delicious. Still no dairy or starches. I had to force myself to eat enough calories the first week because I became full so easily compared to what I was eating. But they stressed that I needed to eat enough to re-set my metabolism. It took 3 weeks to do so. And it worked! The scale never decreased or increased more than 2 pounds. I have never been that consistent. I was amazed. And I started exercising again, doing their recommended HIIT type exercise 3x/week in addition to whatever I wanted. I am starting slow by doing walking and Zumba videos at home. I could also eat breakfast now. Choosing to fast on some mornings was okay but it was important to eat after a good workout. I make green smoothies with added protein (plant based) powder almost every morning now.

It's been an exciting journey. That's the gist of the Skinny Utah program. Would I recommend it? Yes, definitely. Can you do it on your own? Some of you, probably yes. The supplements, BCA and Bio-scan were not life-changing on their own. But the combination of them with the 9-weeks of constant support was the ticket to success for me. Will I keep the weight off? I hope so. I have more to lose still! But of course, I am not perfect. I will fail. But why set myself up for that? I have had this experience now in my tool belt. I have tools and experience, which I personally learn great from for future life experiences.

Ready for a before and after? Stay tuned for Part 4 :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Wellness Journey: Part 2

I need to backtrack a bit. Early in 2017 another friend, Cierra, committed to workout with me. Our typical week included three times a week. She'd bring her youngest over right after our older kids went to school. We went through the BeachBody brand workout, "T-25", which was intense. I ended up feeling more injured (neck and shoulders) and achy but more toned.  By May, I had lost 11 pounds! But gained a lot back by September.

It's a lot to share stats on here because it's a private matter. But as I did my own research, I wanted to read real stories, with real facts. So, I will be vulnerable and share these details.

I hadn't realized the weight had slowly crept on. Or the pain and fatigue were getting worse. I thought it was just old age. And that this was my lot in life. I say this with sarcasm but I began to believe that I would simply look at food and gain weight. I didn't enjoy looking at myself in the mirror. It was discouraging.

This was my heaviest point. February 2017. 217 pounds.

We took the summer off of exercising and I became addicted to Dr Pepper again. But then we started working out again in the fall with Zumba. Less painful and more fun. We kept that up for the rest of the year. It was so motivating to exercise with someone else. We were accountable to each other. Plus, I was moving my body and burning calories. And visiting with Cierra during and after was like the cherry on top.

After the Fall Facebook Health Challenge ended I had a renewed desire to become healthy. I randomly saw a Facebook Ad during my daily browsing. It was for a program that linked to a local TV spot for Good Day Utah, or something like that. It was called Skinny Utah and they guaranteed a 20 pound weight loss in 40 days. I thought it was kind of bogus and ignored it. But, as Facebook does, once you click on an ad, it bombards you with more. I was intrigued and did some research.

The program is called "The New You-Total Health Weight Loss". I researched and read reviews from previous participants. There wasn't much online that helped because I discovered it's a relatively new program in Utah. However, the program creator has been running it in Seattle (Skinny Seattle) for over a decade (maybe nearly two). The Dr who created the program, Dr Thomas Panah, was a licensed chiropractor but went on to study functional, integrated and pastoral medicine. His mission is to help people discover their potential, to feel better all around and weight loss is an added bonus. I read and watched all the testimonials of those who went through the program.

The days before Thanksgiving I went in for a free consultation. They did a BCA (body composition analysis) and discussed the program with me, the benefits, the cost, the reasoning. I brought Tyler along to make sure I wasn't getting into something unsafe or crazy. It seemed sound and honest and helpful. Although it cost much more than I expected, I knew it would be worth it in the end. I signed up and was excited to begin. After deliberating over when to officially start, due to the holidays, parties, etc I decided January would be the best time for me. I put on 6 pounds of holiday pounds.  Less stress and parties and commitments, and I could actually focus on my health.

Wellness Journey: Part 1

I've been on a health and wellness journey. A journey to take better care of myself, whom I have neglected for years. In general, my metabolism began slowing (I am nearly 38), my energy slowing, my mood increasingly more negative, my joints aching and feeling more pain than I realized and growing heavier each year. Something needed to change. This is the backstory. Part I. I don't know how many parts there will be yet....but it's a probably ongoing. I am recording this for my own records. And in hopes it may help someone else in the process.

In 2013 while I was greatly pregnant with Colin when I fell flat on my butt going down the stairs. Luckily, Colin was fine. I didn't think there was any major damage done until a short time later my right thigh went numb. I went to physical therapy but was confronted with no relief. So I decided to wait until after Colin was born, thinking he was sitting on a nerve and it would be relieved. Well, fast forward 3 years. My leg was still numb. 

The day I found out I was officially licensed!

2015 was an intense year.  My friend Jessica and I also actively began training for a half-marathon.  Early in the year I studied and prepared to become a licensed real estate agent. I became officially licensed that June and began work. We installed our lawn and other yard projects. Tyler toured with Motab that summer. Then we decided to move to Colorado for Tyler's job and to be closer to family. We listed our home in August. After about 2.5 months on the market it did not sell so we took it off and decided to try again in the Spring. The combined stress got to me and the migraines began. I began stress eating. I quickly put on 20 pounds by the end of the year.

Half-marathon 2015. Weight: 205ish pounds
Then in 2016 I started getting frequent migraines. About once a week to three times a week. Some were debilitating to the point that I had to shut myself up in my bedroom in the dark. I was constantly self-medicating with magnesium supplements (recommended by family Dr), Advil or the $1 Dr Pepper from McDonald's, just to ease the pain a bit. But then a miracle happened. A friend of mine, Sheila N, told me about her son's migraines and the chiropractor she discovered to help him. I had tried chiropractors in the area to no help. Because this one came highly recommended, I was willing to try it. I was unwilling to turn to medications, the earring that suppresses the pain, or a migraine specialist at that point. Fortunately, this place was covered by my insurance. Willow Creek Chiropractic. I met with them and received X-rays and a consultation. I discovered my spine was a little crooked, my hips turned out too far and uneven (one was taller than the other) and my neck was too straight. These were mostly likely caused by the fall on the stairs (explains the hip and pinched nerve in leg) and other injuries (slipping on ice). To remedy this I frequented the clinic three times a week for 3 months. Finally, I was migraine free. Then, as I progressed, I went less often. Until finally, about mid-way through 2017, my leg had returned to normal as well. The pinched nerves, probably diet and stress, were the culprits. Dr Marler literally changed my life.

By the time 2017 rolled around I was the heaviest and unhealthiest I had ever been in my life, 3 years postpartum. Although I exercised regularly and counted calories, though never consistently, nothing seemed to work to relieve body aches (though no more migraines!), fatigue, grumpiness and weight gain. 

Then a breakthrough. Autumn 2017 A friend, Julie S, created a Facebook group, a weight-loss challenge. It was an 8-week program with strict, point based rules. (daily tracking of food, at least 64 oz of water, checking in daily, 5 servings of fruits/veggies, no eating after 9 pm, only two treats per week and exercise 5x/week). Although I did not win, I lost 11 pounds! I finally had hope that I could indeed lose weight. And the realization that diet was an integral part in that. A hard pill to swallow. It was true progress. Not only did I like that the scale had moved down but more importantly, I felt less pain and more energy. It began to change my outlook and prepared me for the next phase. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Jocelyn's 10th Birthday

Jocelyn is a bright, persistent, strong girl. And I love her for it. Sometimes we butt heads because I see myself a lot in her (but I wasn't as smart and driven as she is). I can trust her to babysit now. She loves her pet chickens, still enjoys collecting beanie boos, gymnastics (we signed her up last fall), piano, learning the Articles of Faith, working on her Faith in God, reading Harry Potter (she's on #4 now), playing with her BFF Jocylynn down the street, painting nails, watching "H2O, just add water" on Netflix (a mermaid show....I love it too), playing "teenager", listening to music, and a bunch of other girly stuff. She's growing too fast!

Jocelyn has been asking for a legit mermaid tail and fin since she was 8 years old. She didn't get it when she turned 9 last year. Well, she's much like I was at that age and nagged and persisted all of 2016. She even settled by asking me to make her one or converting her leggings into a fin. All summer she just put both legs into one leg of the legging and let the other empty leg just hang free. She didn't mind that it looked goofy because it allowed her legs to stay tight together to mimic the mermaid tail.  Finally, I was on board. She had proven how much she wanted it and would use it. Now we just needed to work on persuading Tyler. I suggested that she write him a convincing letter of the reasons why it would be a good investment. She did that and waited a few weeks for the opportunity to leave it next to his bed one night. After reading her 4 page dissertation he realized that he couldn't say no. We led her to believe she wasn't going to get one for Christmas and maybe for her birthday. But she did let us know that she'd settle with the actual fin because, although that portion was more expensive, she could use it with her leggings and she could save up for the mermaid tail during the spring.

So, on Christmas morning, to her surprise, she DID get the fin. She was so happy and thrilled that she actually cried. It was really awesome gifting her something that meant so much to her. 

Then, it was an even bigger surprise when two days later, she got the complete set with the mermaid tail. We had already planned a swim date that week with the Stoehr's at the APEX because she couldn't wait to practice in it. (btw, she had already borrowed a friend's fin and qualified in the swimming criteria they suggest on their website. With her strength and swimming abilities, I was not worried about her drowning). Then, she was able to go again with Gpa Stum and cousins on Saturday. It was fun to see her swim in it. She is FAST! She gets a lot of "ooohs and ahhhh" from other little girls and even boys as "the mermaid" swims by. And, it was fun for her to make new acquaintances with other mermaids at the pool.

On the 27th, Jocelyn asked Steph to do her hair for her party. We held it at the stake center to accommodate both huge families and because Steve was hosting a stake wide basketball game series so the guys went over and played during the party and Steve was able to pop in for a bit. Jocelyn's request for dinner was Little Caesars pizza, Fresca, ice cream and pop poke cake. 

After dinner and dessert (of which, we couldn't light candles....lame. I felt badly about that part since we were in a church) the kids ran around and played games. Jocelyn requested Scattegories (one of my faves) and Exploding Kittens. 

This is the only photo I have with her wearing it. This summer I'll have to get some fun shots. 

 So far she's loved it! She's been able to wear it a couple more times since that week. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Colin's 3rd Birthday

I'm just going to say it. I hate December birthdays. With Colin and Jocelyn's bookending Christmas it makes for a busy month. One of these years I'll have a hang of it by giving the kids the credit and fun they deserve and at the same time simplifying and not overlooking Christmas. It's a balance that I am learning to create.

So, sadly, on Colin's actual birthday, the 20th, the MOTAB annual dinner (ie, the only time they recognize and give thanks to their choir, orchestra, etc the whole organization plus their families) by hosting a nice dinner and program at the Grand America Hotel. Normally this event falls the Tuesday after the Christmas concert. But this year the concert was a week later so the dinner fell on Colin's birthday. So we didn't really want to miss this dinner and chose to celebrate his birthday later that week.

That morning he was pleased to get a haircut, haha. I decided just to pay someone to torture him instead of me painstakingly take the time to do it. And I didn't want to wait another week to have Steph try at it when we were in Colorado. So, I took him to Cookie Cutters. After he picked out which vehicle to sit in and facetiming Tyler he calmed down a tiny bit. He was still terrified but the stylist was so fast she got him cut in about 10 minutes or less. He got a balloon and a lollipop and was happy again.

After Cecily came home from school they went outside to play with the chickens in the snow. They tried feeding them raspberries which are the little red drops behind Scalina there. 

Two days later we celebrated. He wanted a pirate cake. We looked at Pinterest and he helped pick out how he wanted it to look. I actually made zucchini bread for his cake because I was making some for neighbors already and it was one of those ways of simplifying. Sadly, we only have video footage of him in front of his cake not an actual photo.

 We sure love our little Colin. He's still a sweetheart. He's such a good example of goodness to our family. He reminds us to pray, he's always willing to help out. He tells us he loves us daily and avoids contention. We are so grateful he's in our lives.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November 2016

November started out great! Stephanie and I took our boys to Cabela's to see the stuffed animals, fish and outdoor gear. They loved it. Then we made a little video of these two wishing Papa Stoehr a happy birthday. 

Jocelyn won Honorable Mention/Merit Award for her essay in the Reflections contest at school. 

Colin is my favorite little shopping buddy.

 Baby Andrew visiting with Steph and Hannah.

I went to the Dr's office and they're doing major renovation at Alta View Hospital. Colin was in heaven watching the diggers.

 Cecily lost her first tooth!

Sadly, we lost two of our hens this month. Falcy (like a falcon) suffered a broken leg or something that caused her to be paralyzed. I worried she'd had a disease that might spread to the other birds so we quarantined her. But she was unable to reach her food and water and was losing weight. We thought it would be best to end her suffering. The bird vet down the street charged $50 to euthanize her so we had to do it ourselves. It was sad to lose one of our hens so soon.

Then over Thanksgiving break this beauty died. We called her Jewell or Winter. Our barred rock hen that we'd only had for a couple months. But she didn't have any of the same symptoms of the first. I worried it would spread to all the birds but fortunately it didn't.

Jocelyn's pile of kleenex that I found next to her bed as she cried herself to sleep knowing that we were going to take this hens life. 

After having a year of migraines and still no feeling in my right thigh I'd heard about a chiropractor who was helping another child in my neighborhood with his migraines. So I made an appointment and was relieved to find out our insurance covered about half of the visits. I started going 3x a week. They give me exercises to do at home including adding a curve back into my straight neck.

Harvest season was mostly over but on the warm days Cecily and Colin went out to the garden and picked up the old bean pods. She discovered that some had hardened inside allowing us to replant. Cecily wanted to immediately but I told her we needed to wait until next year.

The girls and I went to Brighton High School's production of The Little Mermaid to see a young man in our ward perform as the French chef. After we showed up I learned that we could only pay with cash. They directed me to an ATM. Because we were already running late and not wanting to pay the ATM fee I told the girls we'd just come back the next night to see it. As we were leaving the vice-principal could see we were a little disheartened and ushered me his way. He lead us into the theater and gave us free seats! It was so kind of him! We supported the program buy buying some candy and snacks during intermission with the little cash that I did have in my wallet. It was fun to take the girls to experience live theater. It made me miss my old productions so badly too.

Right before Stephanie and Kyler moved to Colorado we met up at the Bean Museum on BYU Campus. Hannah met up with us too. They had never been before. I love how it's still free. And they have revamped it too. The boys had a blast and it was fun to let them play one last time before they moved miles and miles away.

I loved the colors of the many pumpkins that we grew this fall. In late November they were still in good shape even after sitting outside for all of October. So I brought them in and baked, pureed and froze the filling for year round pumpkin treat goodness.

Usually once a week I swap babysitting with our neighbors, the Smith's. Jocylynn is J's bestie. Jaley is C's bestie. And Colin cries out for his "best friend" Jayden. Sometimes I take the boys shopping with me. They have a blast in the car. They are hilarious. They sing, they talk, they put their arms up when we go down hills. They're best buds and are so cute together. When Colin gets hurt he usually cries, "I want Jaaaaayden". 

Tyler splurged and bought his Uncle Jacks old apple cider press. We collected apples that we'd had left from Stoehr's buying us some (Honeycrisp), Jack gave us some red variety (can't remember the name right now) and our neighbor (who also provided some for my applesauce) gave us Granny Smith, which Tyler also used to make the yummy apple pie. We sampled some that night at our going away party for Steph and Kyler. Tyler calls it liquid gold. We drank some more over Thanksgiving. And we have a gallon left in the freezer. Tyler hopes to make many many more over the years. I  hope he makes enough to justify the cost of the machine. But I suppose I am looking at it less as an investment and more as a hobby (sort of like our chickens, haha).

First, you quarter the fruit. No need to peel or core.

Samuel is learning some knife skills.

Then you push the apples through the grinder and it dices them into tiny pea sized pieces. 

Then, you squeeze the juice out of the chunks by pressing it. The juice comes out of a little spigot down into a pitcher.

 Colin wanted in on the action.

It was this exceptionally warm November day.