Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Weight Loss Wednesday: Numbers

As you all know, a big part of my weight loss journey has been SHARING my journey. I've talked about the ups and downs, the emotional journey, I've shown you countless before and after photos, I've shared recipes and workout tips...I've been totally honest with you, for two full years.

So today I am here to tell you: I had a hard day,

Today was my yearly physical. I am about 4 months overdue. Since my last physical, I have lost 62 lbs. 117 total. I was really excited to go to the doctor today. I was expecting her to be very enthusiastic about how far I've come. I was also confident that my blood work would show how much healthier I've become.

For the most part, she was great. She was happy with how far I've come, and proud of my accomplishments. But towards the end of my appointment, I expressed to her that I'm finding it harder and harder to drop lbs (I've only lost 17 lbs since February). I said that I was wondering if it was becoming more difficult because I was getting closer to where my body needs to be, and I wanted to know what she thought about that. She told me she was going to look at a few things, and then come back in.

She came back, and handed me the BMI chart. I  am not going to post a picture of the BMI chart here because I do not want it to be a negative trigger for someone else. But basically, according to this chart, which has not been updated since the 1800's, I still fall in the "unhealthy" category. In fact, I am still borderline obese.

I burst into tears. This is not what I was expecting, or hoping, for her to say. First of all, to be considered a "healthy" weight on that chart, I still need to drop a whopping 30 pounds. And, as I mentioned before, considering it has taken me 5 months to drop 17 pounds, the thought of having to do another 30 seems near impossible. I know it's not, and I do ENJOY working out, I was just hoping I was getting to the point where I no longer needed to do 5 days of workouts, every single damn week.

Secondly, that chart is kinda BS. I have done a lot of reading on that chart today, and there are several articles talking about why that chart should not be a measurement tool. It doesn't account for bone structure or muscle mass. According to that chart, my brother in law Dave, who is an extremely healthy, active, strong, slender young man, is obese. Most people ignore that chart. So for her to hand it to me as if that was my answer was a slap in the face.

I cried, you guys. I cried a lot. I cried when she gave it to me, I cried for an hour in the parking lot, I cried on the phone to my mom, and I cried in Tom's arms.

But after thinking about it for the day, and chatting with a friend who has also lost 115 lbs, I am NOT going to let that chart, or this appointment, define me. I have set a personal goal for myself and I am not too far away from that goal- so THAT is what I am aiming for, not some number on a chart from the 1800's.

ALSO- I know for a fact that my health is improved, so even though this scale wants to call me unhealthy, I'm not. News flash, overweight does not always equal unhealthy and normal weight does not always equal healthy.

When you've been focusing on weight loss for two years, when it is the main focus of your entire LIFE, it's really hard to ignore numbers. Every SINGLE day I count calories in and calories out. I measure my waist. I step on the scale. I check my clothing size. I increase how many reps I do. I increase the weight I lift. It seems as though everything is about numbers. So it's really easy to tell me to ignore the numbers and to focus on how I feel, but at the end of the day, at some point, I need to stop focusing on losing weight and start focusing on maintaining it.

I am really damn proud of myself, by the way. I just want to make that clear. I know that I have a few friends who are worried that I am spending too much time focusing on getting to that goal weight rather than being proud of where I am. Trust me, I'm proud. I just have a little bit to go before I can say "You've done it, Megan".

Thank you all for your incredible support, and for reading the not so fun posts like this one. I'll close by telling you what Tom said tonight:

"BMI should stand for Bitch, Megan's Incredible".

PS: If you want to read some of the articles on why BMI is not accurate, here you go:

Monday, June 29, 2015

In Sickness And In Health

I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

I'm going to take a wild guess that you've heard this at least once in your lifetime. I'm sure we've all been to at least one wedding, right? Or at least seen one played out in a movie, or read about it in a book. I know I've heard these vows exchanged.

I've always loved this part of a wedding ceremony. The promise to be there for the one you love, for the rest of your life, no matter what comes your way. These words, these vows, are what has made me the kind of person who really, truly believes in the Holy Sacrament of Marriage, not just the ceremony itself.

And over the past year and 9 months, I have seen these words come to life through the words and actions of my parents.

My dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer on September 22nd, 2013. It shook our world up- within days, everything we knew changed. It meant my mom was now considered a caregiver. It meant doctor appointments and medications. It meant side effects and stress. It meant fear. Late last summer, we hit a pretty big bump in the road when my dad went through a month of steroid psychosis. Most of you know the story, but basically, it was Hell. It was the most difficult, fearful time of our lives. But my mom was there with him, every single day, holding his hand, asking the difficult questions. Sure, she broke down. How could she not? But she did not give up on him. And my dad, who was barely recognizable, would show signs of his love for her. One night, when he couldn't speak, he simply kissed her on the head, again and again. Another time, when I played their wedding song for him, he weeped. And, another time, when he snapped out of the state for just a few moments, he held her tight and apologized over and over. He knew the pain that she was feeling, even if he couldn't speak of it.

My dad has, thankfully, recovered from that psychosis. But things have never been the same. He had to retire early, he could not drive for several months, and he is on several different medications. My mom holds it together for both of them. She has his pills perfectly organized, she knows the name of every doctor he meets with, she sits with him at his appointments.

But perhaps most importantly, they are there for each other. Neither one may ever fully understand what the other is feeling, but they listen to each other. They support each other. They ask questions and they do their best to help each other. They look at for one another and put each other's best interests forward. They are a team, navigating through these choppy waters.

Some may say "Any married couple would do this!"...but I am really not so sure. You hear so often of couples giving up when disaster strikes- but my parents have held on to each other, to faith, and to love.

I feel so lucky to have them as my parents. I did a project once in college that involved describing your family tree in relationships. Basically, the point of the project was that, most likely, if one is surrounded by strong, committed relationships that value honesty, respect, and compassion, that person will also form that type of relationship. If this is the case, I have nothing to worry about. My parents have lived out their vows from the moment they spoke them out loud. They've modeled those values into our lives, and they have shown us, through action, what it means to be someone's partner, for better or for sickness, and in health.

And so, on their 36th wedding anniversary. I want to congratulate my parents, and also to wish them many, many more years together. This love story is one that will be shared for years and years to come.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Saying Goodbye

Last week, we found out that my Aunt Ellen lost her battle to cancer. I was heartbroken. Ellen was a true gem, the kind of person that lit up a room, a woman with a heart of gold and a gentle soul. I know that these are the kinds of things you say about someone who has passed away, but it's all true for Ellen. She was special, period.

I never got to say goodbye. I knew that she was not doing well, she had entered into hospice care just a few days before. My plan was to write her a letter and drop it at her doorstep, since I knew that she wasn't doing well and may not be up for a visit. But I didn't write it in time. She passed away before I could follow through.

And so I spent the next few days feeling both sad of her loss and guilty that I did not get to say what I wanted to say to her.

Last night, I had a horrible dream about it. The dream was that I was at her funeral, except...she was there. And she came to me and told me that she was still alive, and that I could say goodbye. But I couldn't- the words just wouldn't come out. All I could do was cry.

I woke up feeling extra down, like I had missed my chance again.

And so that is why I have come to this blog, to say goodbye to our dear Aunt Ellen. I know a public blog post is not the same as a private, heartfelt letter, but it is my hope that these words will somehow make it to Ellen's Heaven.

It's no surprise that as a little girl I was drawn to Ellen. That's the kind of person she was- people wanted to be around her. They wanted to hear her jokes, her hearty laugh, and to grasp a piece of her kindness and wisdom to hold onto for themselves. We grew close on one of our trips to Florida- she kept me laughing the whole time. I once had a sleepover at her house, and I just remember feeling so special and loved around her. She took a deep interest in me, even though we had no blood relation. My favorite thing about her (and her two sisters) is how head over heels they were with my brother. They adored him (for good reason!) and they loved to embarrass him with hugs and kisses. I always laughed when Ellen and her sisters would seek him out in a room full of people. I remember watching them at his wedding, they had the absolute time of their lives.

The last time I saw Ellen was almost a year ago, at my Uncle Mike's funeral. She walked into the room, immediately found me and told me she had a present for me. It was a pack of napkins with a cute design on them. She had apparently seen them and thought of me. It was a small gift, but it meant something. She was thinking of me.

At that same funeral, my sister and I kept looking for "The Kissing Aunts". We so desperately needed the comfort of Mary Ann, Peg, and our sweet Ellen. All three of them are incredibly special women, and we just needed to be around them, to feel their warmth and love.

I'm a lucky girl to be surrounded by so many strong women in my life. Growing up I had many role models. Ellen was one of them. I admired her confidence, humor, zest, and passion. If I could go back, I would change a few things. I would make a point to connect with Ellen more. I would ensure she knew how loved she was by me and by my entire family.

Ellen, I know that wherever you are, you brought the party with you. I know that you are sprinkling that sunshine and smile. You left quite an impact on many hearts back here on Earth, and so many of us are better, sillier, more loving people because we knew you. You really were a gem, and I feel lucky that I was able to know you. I adored you, and I always will.

Moving forward, I want to make a point to tell people how deeply I love and appreciate them. I know, again, that is something everyone says, but we don't always follow through. But I don't want to lose anyone else without them knowing how special they are. Everyone should hear about the impact they have made on others lives. I don't know how we can get better at this, but we must.

My challenge for you, my friends, is to tell three people in your life that you love them. Right now.

Thank you for reading about my sweet Ellen. May she rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Weight Loss Wednesday

This week, I thought I would share some recipes/meals that I eat. I'll go through each meal, and list some snacks for you.

First, though, I wanted to share some non scale victories (since the scale is not my friend these days- went up last week, now back down, but stuck):

  • I did pull-ups yesterday. I used to be terrified of doing pull ups. Everytime we have to do them in Bootcamp, I skip them. Yesterday I looked at my trainer and nodded. She helped me get set up, and then I did them on my own. I didn't do very many, but I still did pull ups- for the first time in my life.
  • Lately in Group Exercise classes, when the instructor gives us a way to make it harder, I choose to do it that way. And I do it well.
  • I did the Stairmaster for the first time in months yesterday and made it 70 flights in 17 minutes.
  • I feel so much stronger. It feels like this came out of nowhere, but recently I feel so incredibly strong. I can't quite describe it- maybe it's because I have started doing kickboxing twice a week, but man, I feel like a BOSS.
  • I successfully made it through a 21 day challenge without bread, pastries, or chips! I did have a little chocolate, but really only in the form of protein/granola bars.
Alright! Time to share some meals!

Before I started my weight loss journey. I didn't really believe that breakfast was the most important part of the day. After all, I never ate breakfast, and I was fine, right? #Sarcasm. I wasn't really all that fine. Trust me, you need breakfast. A good, healthy breakfast. 

I usually make some sort of egg white scramble. 
-3 tablespoons of liquid egg white
-1 cup of raw baby spinach
-1 cup of another veggie (my favorite are mushrooms)
-A little shredded cheese

On occasion, I put this on a whole wheat tortilla, or I add a slice of turkey.

The downside is that this is really low in calories. Which may seem great, but I know that my breakfast should be a bit higher in calories. You could add a piece of fruit. 

I usually drink green tea--I have cut down on coffee as it makes me crave sugar.

If I don't have these ingredients on hand, I will make oatmeal. I usually just make regular, steel cut oats and add raspberries in it. There are lots of things you can add to oatmeal, including chia seeds or Greek yogurt. 

If you need to grab breakfast through a drive through, here are some options:
  • Smoothie from Beyond Juice or your local smoothie spot. Try to get one that has a lot of nutrients and little sugar.
  • Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon Sandwich, Spinach Feta Wrap, or Yogurt from Starbucks. I love Starbucks because I love their iced green tea (Venti, unsweetened, no water).
  • Yogurt Parfait, Power Almond Oatmeal, or Steel Cut Oatmeal from Panera. (Pro Tip: I have also ordered the Avocado, Egg White, and Spinach breakfast sandwich but asked for it in a bowl, without the bread. Panera is good at accommodating, so they shouldn't have a problem making that!)
  • For my Chicago friends, there is an awesome place called Protein Bar that I discovered while in Chicago on business. They have breakfast scrambles, oatmeal, and smoothies. The breakfast scramble I had was delicious and full of yummy veggies. 

Yes, you must, must, MUST eat snacks my friends ! I have 3-4 snacks a day. The key is to be sure that you are eating the recommended serving size. Ex: Trail mix is usually 1/4 of a cup, which is pretty tiny. Measure it out, put it in a ziploc bag so that you know you're eating 1/4 of a cup.
  • Apple
  • Grapes
  • Banana
  • Celery with Peanut Butter
  • Baby Carrots with hummus or peanut butter
  • Cucumber with hummus
  • Chopped peppers
  • Kind Bars (Peanut Butter and Jelly is my favorite flavor)
  • Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps
  • Kashi Bars 
  • Nature Valley Bars
  • Trail Mix 
  • Greek Yogurt
  • String Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Babybel Cheese
  • Skinnypop Popcorn 

Most of the time, I am bringing leftovers from dinner for my lunch. But there are times when I have to pack something else or grab something while I am out.

Usually, if it's not leftovers, I either make a wrap with a whole wheat tortilla, turkey, spinach, and hummus. I'll eat greek yogurt and some chopped veggies to go with it. Or, I'll make a big salad with spinach, lots of veggies, and a light dressing. Sometimes I do tuna with very light mayo on top of spinach (I eat a lot of spinach!)

With my job schedule, there are a lot of times I am out and about and have to grab lunch. My favorite thing to do is to make a big salad with lots of veggies from Whole Foods or other similar health food stores. .Here are some other healthy options if you are out and about:
  • Unwich from Jimmy Johns. I usually go for the Beach Club, without Mayo. Try to go for turkey or veggie- the other meats are full of sodium. Also, I try to always have snacks on hand so that I don't get chips. 
  • Mediterranean Salad, Chickpea Veggie Salad,  T-K-Y, or Mushroom Melt from Potbelly. 
  • Burrito Bowl with brown rice, black beans, salsa, veggies, and lettuce from Chipotle. 
  • LOTS of options at Panera. Panera is one of my favorite places to go- most of their food is healthy, AND delicious. They have their nutrition facts readily available, so just be aware. My favorite salads are the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad, the Greek Salad with Chicken and the new Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa salad. 
Alright, here is where I will share some actual recipes. I try to cook dinner at home most of the time. I usually go for a protein, a veggie, and sometimes a starch. Here are some of my favorite recipes:

I have a LOT more recipes. These are just the ones I've made recently that I loved. Please feel free to ask me if you need a recipe, or if you need to know where to look to get some great recipes. I also have some good recipes for party appetizers/side dishes.

Also, if you have questions about what to order at certain restaurants, ask away. I've become quite savy at working menus!

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