Monday, August 3, 2015

Weight Loss Journey Check-In

I'd like to check in once a week to update my health and weight loss journey even if just for my own eyes to document the changes. This past week had gone what I thought was swimmingly.  I was working out to my Leslie Sansone videos and really sweating it out.  I've progressed up to the 4 and 5 mile walks at this point leaving the rest in the dust.  I feel great about that.

Juicing has become a mainstay in my diet and I've been juicing lots of fruits and vegetables and eating healthy in between.  I stepped on the scale a few days ago and found that I had gained 5 lbs.  Yikes!  When I first started out this year, I promised myself I wouldn't become obsessed.  I didn't want to count calories or even study nutrition.  Foolishly I believed that if I ate what God put on this earth for us to consume in its most organic and wholesome form, I was golden.  Working out was just to speed up the weight loss process.

Using the Vivofit2 has really benefitted me and keeps me pretty much plugged into my fitness process and right after I gained 5 lbs., I started using My Fitness Pal to track calories.  Even though I was staying pretty close to 1,250 calories each day, the carbohydrate load of the root vegetables and fruit was sending me way over my limit.

Thankfully I'm married to a very smart pharmacist who informed me that my metabolism has always been sluggish, added to that are all the medications I'm on for systemic mastocytosis and then flooding the liver with carbs on top was just not a good idea.  I'd have to start counting carbs and cutting back on my fruit, carrots and beets.

I was pretty devastated at first.  Oftentimes I open the freezer and grab frozen cherries or mangos to satisfy my sugar cravings.  Obviously that's part of the problem.  So Saturday I pulled out and dusted off my South Beach Diet books (remember when I said I couldn't stick to the South Beach Diet? I adore eating my words. At least those are carbohydrate-free! . . .ha!) and my spiralizer cookbook and went to town on recipes for this upcoming week.

Saturday I watched my carb count and I weighed yesterday and lost 1 lb.  Well, at least my weight loss plateau was breaking.  For my workout yesterday I decided to fling out my Richard Simmons videos.  I put the Disco Sweat video in our DVD player and after 17 minutes hadn't broken a sweat and was really just over Richard Simmons at that moment.  I mean he was great back in the 1990's, but everything seemed so over-the-top and dated that I didn't want anything to do with the videos any longer.  They will be headed to Goodwill.

We purchased a Roku a few weeks back so I clicked over to Beach Body on Demand and signed up.  I found a beginner's workout and thought it looked rather easy except after 23 minutes, I was drenched in sweat and had to stop just 8 minutes away from the end of the video.  Yay!  I definitely found something challenging to go with my walking videos.  I cooked a healthy dinner last night and got on the scale today and wa-la, 2 more lbs. down so I have 2 more to lose to get back to the original weight loss of 45.

This means I'm counting calories and carbs again; something I said I would never do.  But hitting that weight loss plateau and then starting to gain weight again was scary enough so I decided this whole process is really like a science more than a diet and it's time I delve into deciding what is best for my body.

Tomorrow morning I am meeting the holistic medical doctor for the first time in north Kansas City.  I drove up there today so I know where I'm going tomorrow.  Last night all of the negative speak started playing in my head telling me that she will surely turn me away because systemic mastocytosis is too complicated and over her head.  I mean I see that all the time when I have to go to the ER.  I always know if the ER doc just finished Googling the disease before coming into my room because the speak sounds like Google research.  I'm sure she'll have to do the same, but I'm hoping down deep that we can work together to find a holistic approach to this disease instead of a pharmaceutical approach.  Last night wasn't the easiest night to look towards the future with rose colored glasses. I experienced bone pain for at least 3 hours before I finally could fall asleep.  Nothing I did touched the pain and for those few hours I started filling my noggin' with the ideas that this will never work.  I'll have to take prescriptions for the rest of my life.  Thankfully this morning I met with my therapist and we worked together to dispel the fears.  At least now I'm looking forward to the meeting with more hope and less trepidation.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Spirit of God and EMDR

Please read Part I before moving on to this entry.  Here's the link:

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I went into Monday's EMDR hoping to file away the hurt and anger concerning my grandmother's visitation and funeral in January.  Words and actions are powerful and even though the incidents that play around in my mind were not directed at me or had anything to do with us (my dad, brother and I) at all, they still played a major part in my thoughts as of Monday morning.  At this point, though, anger was my primary feeling and my therapist isolated this anger and tied it to the incidents before we started EMDR.  Before beginning, I was to rate my feelings of this defined anger 0-10.  I rated them a 10.

We started the EMDR and the way this works is through bilateral brain stimulation.  Traditionally, people watch a series of lights on a light bar go back and forth for a period of time and then when they stop, the people then relate to the therapist what they "saw" in their minds.  This does take some getting used to, especially if you are a person who has a wall up and find it hard to let the mind go where it will. I, however, can't get used to the lights so I hold a contraption that has two wires leading to small buzzers and they vibrate back and forth in my hands while my eyes are closed. After 30 seconds or so, Tim turns them off and we both take a deep breath and he asks me what I saw.

I've struggled with a few of my EMDR experiences but Monday was a different story.  I focused on some things that were said during visitation at the front of the church where my grandmother was in a casket for the viewing. Again, it's important to understand that the family involved were up there with visitors and these are things I witnessed from afar and yet bothered me to my very core.

In my first vision I saw myself standing at the very back of the church looking at the visitation from a detached angle. During my second vision I was standing in the parking lot of the church and I started realizing that the things that were bothering me were not my fault in any way, though I felt some guilt, as well, that my grandmother's final goodbye was being tainted by the actions of family.

The next vision surprised the heck out of me.  I was standing on Main Street in Sycamore, Illinois in front of my childhood church after the fire.  This church has always held a deep meaning to me.  It was our family church.  My childhood was spent running up and down the red carpeted stairs going to Sunday School and singing in the children's choir.  As a 4th generation church member at the time, the previous 3 generations of both sides of my family were baptized, confirmed and married at this church.  Family lineage started the church when it was in a different location in Sycamore prior to being built at this location.  This church was built through the funds of another family member so you see, this place was an oasis in my memory until it burned in 2004.

Evidently, the pipe organ's blower system was in the basement and had caught fire that Sunday in February.  They evacuated the church and got everything under control.  The next day the fire department came back and thought they had gotten out all the hot spots but evidently not because later that evening, the church caught on fire and when the firemen arrived and opened the back door, a backdraft recorded as the worst one in the US was created and a large explosion occurred causing the interior of the church to start burning beyond recognition.

Here are a couple of photos of the church while it was on fire:

And the day after:

I've come to grips with losing my hometown church.  They eventually tore it down and moved it to a new location out in the country so parking was better and they could expand when necessary.  They used as many of the things they could out of the old church like the stone, the concrete cross at the top of the church as well as the steeple.  The old church bell is located there, too.  The new church is lovely though I've pretty much only attended when I go home for funerals.

So in my 3rd vision I was standing in front of the church in this current condition and I noticed a sign in front of the church that read, "We will rise from the ashes."  I thought this was really interesting because I hadn't thought about St. John's fire for quite some time and yet there I stood.  In my 4th vision I was still standing in front of this church but I saw a white mist dance back and forth through the large window above the front door of the sanctuary.  It was almost like what you would imagine the spirit of God to be like; pure white, quick moving and peaceful.  When I told Tim what I saw, I was sitting in utter amazement but immediately started to understand this message.

What I told Tim was that like the church with the strong and beautiful exterior still standing with its insides reduced to ashes, the family I was upset with is the same way.  They are strong on their exterior but inside they are full of ashes due to years and years of disappointments and hurt. And I believed that the sign I read about rising above the ashes was a direct message to me from God to rise above the situation and love them where they are at without judgement.

This hit me between the eyes and right to my heart.  It was an amazing experience but we weren't done yet.  In my 5th vision I was taken back to the hospital room where my grandmother was dying.  The family was crying and this time instead of feeling absolutely nothing, I felt sympathy toward my family who was obviously in pain and hurt.  There was no focus on my grandmother in this vision, just towards the family in the room.

During my 6th vision I was taken back to the church and the visitation. There was the white mist again except this time it was circling the casket of my grandmother creating a sort of force field of white that rotated so incredibly fast around and around.  I knew right away what this meant. Nothing that happened at the visitation or funeral affected my grandmother in any way.  God had her safe in His arms.  The guilt I was feeling about not doing or saying anything was gone.  Gone!

My 7th vision I felt the white mist standing next to me in the church.  Tim asked me if there was a temperature to this mist and I told him it was a nice cool feeling.  We then focused on my 8th vision and all I saw was white; the most brilliant, peaceful white you can even imagine and it filled me with peace.  There was so much incredible peace that my words will never convey the feeling.

My final vision took me in the kitchen of this part of my family's home. They were sitting at the kitchen table and I was standing up. Behind me stood my dearly-departed grandmother and behind her my mother, also deceased. What I heard in my mind was that I needed to be the hands and feet of God.  I needed to love this family where they are at in their walk of life. And that both my grandmother and mother loved them to the best of their abilities even though it was difficult at times and it was my turn to do the same.  I heard the word "love" over and over.

Afterwards I was stunned.  I was calm.  I was relieved.  I was grateful.  I felt nothing but love toward this part of my family.  Tim then asked me how I would rate my anger at that time and it was and still is a 0.  I never expected God to come in to these EMDR sessions or my old church, for that matter.  This is more powerful than 3 years of speak therapy would have been. Just 45 or so minutes of clarity and the answers I was seeking.  Now I look back upon those 2 days of saying goodbye to my grandmother and I can see through the muck.  The actions made by others are a distant memory.

But most importantly what I took with me was that God is real.  He is out there willing to communicate if we only listen.  That no matter what occurs in this life, He is there and our family members who have died are safe in His arms.  I wish you knew how much this calms my soul.  Sometimes in life, I find I hyper-focus on things of inconsequential nature and this often will shove out God.  Experiencing His peace on Monday is life-changing.  Even though I've been a good Missouri Synod Lutheran Christian girl, affirmations like Monday are always needed for my soul to continue on this journey called life.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

EMDR Therapy

I'd never heard of EMDR when I finally decided to do something about my lifelong fear and phobia of fireworks and thunder and balloons and guns and. . . . .  .(anything noisy and startling).....

What prompted me this year to finally seek help?  There's a new permanent fireworks stand in our lake neighborhood.  This means that any time we head to the lake, we can potentially be exposed to fireworks since they are so readily available and pretty much since the stand opened, we hear fireworks. Some are far away and some super close. The sound makes me angry and scared. The entire situation literally makes me want to go and kick someone's behind. I have such pent-up anger whenever I'm triggered by loud noise. I do a fine job of keeping it bottled up, but it's still there.

Three years ago, I met a woman who was new to the lake neighborhood.  Her boat was docked next to ours and she told us she was a therapist.  At that time, I broke down and told her about my phobia and she gave me a name of someone in town who could help me.  I've kept that name in my phone for 3 years and every once in awhile looked at it but never had the gumption to call.

When I finally called a few months back, the therapist said she couldn't take me on at the time but then gave me a list of names including one in her office that she would recommend. Since the office is a little over a mile away from where I live, I called and made an appointment with Tim.

Just an hour before my first appointment, I felt sick.  I was in the bathroom for such a long time and realized that nerves were getting the best of me.  I come from a family who doesn't believe in therapy.  This was so obvious when my mother was dying and we were offered to have hospice come in. I was embracing the idea until my grandmother said, "We don't need hospice.  I've seen so many family members die.  I've never needed hospice for one of them. We can do this ourselves."  That's pretty much the crux of my entire life. We can do this ourselves.  Don't ask for help.  Figure it out yourself. Therapy is for weaklings.  I could go on, but you get the idea.

When I met Tim for the first time, I started feeling at ease.  He's a track pant and t-shirt kind of guy and his office is like a living room with a long, leather sofa and a matching leather ottoman. There are a few bookcases against the walls and a TV on a console.  He has a desk, small refrigerator and a bank of windows along the back wall that face the trees from his 5th floor office space.  Even though I first kept my arms across my chest while I began talking, obviously in protection mode,  I felt oddly comfortable.  We had a few sessions of background talk and discussing my phobia.  It may have been 4 or so sessions before we began EMDR.

I was hoping to get to the heart of the matter immediately but that's not how EMDR works.  In fact, I've never figured out yet why I have a phobia of loud noises.  The visions just come in their own ways and I have been amazed each and every session.  Things from my childhood have popped up and been discussed.  Small things, really, in the scheme of life but some of those things have shaped my life today.  Tim tells me that things can get stuck in the brain and EMDR does a good job of getting them unstuck and processed. He's right.

Monday's appointment, though, was the most phenomenal.  We've discussed a great deal about my mother's passing in 2009 and my grandmother's passing in January.  My grandmother's passing has bothered me immensely not because she died but because I was there and watched her die and felt not one single emotion.  I didn't feel like crying.  I didn't feel like rejoicing.  I didn't feel any love.  I didn't feel any hate.  I felt nothing.  Nothing!  My grandmother and I had an incredibly close relationship over the years up until my mother had a stroke and then things went south.  At least for me. It's a very long story and not one I will blog about, but I started losing love for my grandmother.  Her death bed talk to me was not one I ever imagined.  I walked away and started feeling hurt over things she felt she had to tell me in our last conversation we would ever have.  She wasn't mean, but old things were brought up concerning my mother's death and then she talked to me about the will and so on and so forth.

After my grandmother's death, all hell broke loose in little increments outside my nuclear family.  The visitation and funeral left me with jagged thoughts and memories.  I won't talk about everything here for respect, but let's just say I left the cemetery and my hometown in a mood so bleak that my inner thoughts were struggling to make sense of everything.

Conversations that were made have found their way back to me and I feel anger well up.  True blue anger.  For pete's sake, my family outside my dad and brother is so small that it seems silly to throw up a wall that no one else can penetrate but that's exactly what I did.  I threw up a wall to a few family members.  Like a child, I erased them from facebook and let's face it, that made me happy.  So there, I thought!  You can't see what's going on in my life.  You are banished from my family tree! Take that!  This is the G version of the feelings I have for certain family members.  Unhealthy, right?

While talking with Tim about the goings-on, he said I did the right thing by keeping up healthy boundaries.  Oh good!  I'm vindicated.  Healthy boundaries, that's what this is!  Except no matter what, I felt bad.  I'm not a healthy boundaries type of person.  I'd rather throw crap on the table, battle it out, get to the heart of the issue and then go on with our lives happy like before.  I'm not a person who just walks away from people I love. So this internal fight was going on day and night.

One day I woke up to a friend request from a certain family member.  I hit delete.  Then I felt guilt.  Tim and I talked about this and he kept telling me that healthy boundaries are necessary in life.  Ignoring is the best thing. Then I received another friend request and the guilt was all-consuming.  For nearly a week I hemmed and hawed.  Years of past hurt directed at my nuclear family by this family member came rushing by.  I kept thinking that by ignoring, this person will have to think about the ramifications of everything they've done.  The saying, "Make your bed and lie in it" is finally coming true.  Karma at its finest.  But then my better side kept saying, "What what Jesus do?"  Seriously.  Would He ignore?  No.  He certainly wouldn't.

This takes me to Monday's appointment with Tim.  I came in angered and upset because at the lake last week we heard fireworks yet again.  I was mad that it felt like I was regressing.  The fireworks made me rage in anger and the thunderstorm this past weekend made me cower in the bathroom like the days before EMDR.  He immediately honed in that the situation was probably not the fireworks, per se, rather they were the trigger to a larger problem.  I then told him about the second friend request and that I was feeling guilty.  I gave him more backstory and during this I mentioned that I was starting to soften my resolute because I was slowly realizing that these family members come from a place of hurt.  People act out because they are hurt inside and who was I to continue throwing hurt their way?  I'm not the cause of their original hurt, but if I ignore them, then I'm adding to the hurt.  I said this out loud while talking to him and he gave me some insight and we decided to see if I could come to terms for this situation though EMDR.

The visions that came to me were so intriguing and life-altering that they will be blogged about in another post.  Until then, I cannot recommend EMDR enough.  If you are having issues of any kind, seek out a therapist who practices EMDR and watch what bilateral stimulation can do for you!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Getting Fit Part 2? 3? 4? 5?

I'm staring at a blank blog screen once again because it's time I get back to blogging.  So much has occurred since my last blog post and I will gradually get into things over time.  For now, though, let's talk about working out, eating right and weighing less. . .
. . .
. . .for the umpteenth time.

I'm what you call a yo-yo dieter.  I get some inspiration that falls from the sky and decide to diet and workout.  Boredom sets in.  And hunger.  Sugar cravings. . . you name it.  I fall off the bandwagon and gain weight.  It's easy to gain weight!  I'm nearly 45 years old who no longer has her girl parts so instant menopause 4 1/2 years ago for starters.  I have systemic mastocytosis which the medications to calm down the mast cells all have weight gain as a side effect.  I'm blessed with family genes that includes plenty of globular fat cells.  And I have an unhealthy addiction to sugar.  So guess what?  The minute I stop doing what is healthy, weight gets piled on like nobody's business.

So up and down I go but since my last weight loss stint back in 2010 and early 2011, I really haven't been committed.  My lowest weight at that point was 93 lbs. LESS!!! than my highest weight which was recorded early this year.  I about croaked when I saw the numbers on the scale at my primary care's office.  Seriously croak.  Then I started internally berating myself as any normal human would do.  Of course looking at myself in the Christmas pictures that were taken added to the berating.  What I saw in the mirror every single day isn't what I saw on film.  Thankfully, my mother taught me self-love so my mirror was loving me and film, well, film was not so loving.

I finally had enough.  What worked in the past was never anything I was able to commit to for the long haul.  Crash diets like South Beach left me feeling I needed more.  Weight Watchers and their point system got old really quick, so this time I decided to just start to eat better overall.  No calorie counting.  No working out.  Just finding healthy recipes on Pinterest and whipping up some healthy goodness in the kitchen.

I found the spiralizer and started spiralizing vegetables so that we would get rid of pasta in our dishes.  My husband actually liked this idea and was digging the new concoctions I was coming up with at meal time.

Look at what just one sweet potato looks like after being spiralized:

Pretty, huh?

We continued on our new eating journey and I started having fun in the kitchen once again.  It is challenging each week to come up with a healthy menu, but so far so good for the most part.

Halfway in to the new eating venture, I started feeling punk every time I ate something that was not so healthy.  This occurred every single time.  Healthy eating meant feeling good.  Empty calories with sugar meant feeling terrible.  I also started to distinguish that certain foods made my mastocytosis worse.  So I took it one step further and started looking into low histamine diets.

We worked with that for awhile integrating things like turmeric and ginger and started immediately enjoying the benefits all the while the scale crept downward for the both of us.  If I was hungry for a burger, I found alternates like this "burger" I made with large portobello mushrooms, eggplant, tomato, onion and homemade guacamole.  Does this look good or what?

After a couple of months I lost 35 lbs. or so just eating healthy!  So I wanted to take it a step further and we started to juice.

I absolutely love juicing!  Putting fruit in the juicer as well as juicing beets and carrots satisfy my sweet tooth cravings and the greens give it a great taste!

Recently I started working out again.  I dusted off my workout videos and believe me, they needed dusting!  My husband and I jumped on the Vivofit2 bandwagon and we both have the Vivofits that track various different things and that's been quite eye-opening and fun.  All in all, I've lost 45 of the 93 lbs. I'd like to lose.

And today, I started counting calories and logging on to My Fitness Pal to log in my meals and workouts so I can track what's working and what's not.  This week I'm stalling at the weight loss even though I'm sweating through hard workout sessions.  I'm thinking I'm eating too much fruit.

I use Instagram quite a bit to show pictures of meals we make so if you're not currently an Instagram user, why not sign up and follow me?

Here's the link:

It feels really good to start taking care of my body once again and since I'm doing this to lose weight and feel better and I didn't start a fad diet of any sort, I think we will be sticking with this since it's been ongoing for a few months now and doesn't feel like a diet at all, to be frank.  I'm also doing this because I'd like to get off my medications and go to something more natural.

Next week I have my first appointment with a holistic doctor who practiced conventional medicine for 14 years before breaking away and offering up a private practice with holistic modalities.  I'm pretty excited so I will blog about the appointment next week after I attend the first visit which is between 2 1/2 to 3 hours long.  Can you imagine that long with a health practitioner instead of the measly 15 or so minutes you normally get?

I'm also seeing a therapist so I've got the whole mind/body thing going on.   I had a phenomenal visit with him yesterday that I will most likely blog about as well.  We are doing EMDR and I just can't say enough about this practice and how powerful it is. And going about this right before I turn 45 seems like a good idea.  It's been a great few months which thankfully is starting to put the sadness behind me that occurred at the beginning of this year.  I'll write about that in an upcoming blog, too.

It feels good to be back!