June 30, 2017

Lower Body Lift Update! (5 years post-op)

I've been meaning to do this post for, oh, about three years now. Haha! Can you believe it's been five and a half years since my lower body lift?

So, I've been wanting to write a quick update and post some updated photos for anyone that's curious how my scars are looking after over five years. I don't think there is a huge difference in the one-year post-op photos and these new photos, but I guess that's a good thing? I am still absolutely thrilled with the results of my surgery, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

As a reminder, or to those that are newer to my blog, after losing 125 pounds in 2009-2010, I was left with a lot of loose skin. I still have a lot of loose skin on my arms and legs, but the worst was my abdomen. I had to stuff my skin into my pants, which was so annoying!

It was very uncomfortable to exercise in any way with the loose skin. I got rashes under the "apron" of skin on my abdomen whenever I would exercise, and the motion of it bouncing when running was comparable to running without a bra--NOT comfortable, to say the least.

So, I asked my insurance company if a tummy tuck would be covered in any way. I was really surprised that I met the criteria for having them cover a huge portion of the surgery I ended up having! I had to have lost 100 or more pounds; kept it off for at least 6 months; and have a problem with rashes from the loose skin.

I did a lot of research to find a surgeon, and the first consult I went to was with Dr. Donna Tepper in the Henry Ford Health System. I instantly liked her and felt very confident with her, so I didn't even go to any other consults. She was very insistent that I would have much better results with a circumferential tummy tuck (also called lower body lift, or belt lipectomy). Basically, they make an incision that goes all the way around your body, instead of hip to hip like a regular tummy tuck. The remove a "belt" of skin, and then pull up the lower half and pull down the upper half to meet at the pubic line, and then stitch it together.

I had lots of stretch marks--from pregnancy, yes, but also from being so overweight for so long. The stretch marks went all the way up past the bottom of my rib cage, so I knew those wouldn't be removed (the ones in the very low abdomen can be removed with the belt of skin). I was okay with having stretch marks if it meant I wouldn't have a large apron of skin on my belly.

I was terrified of the surgery, but my surgeon was super confident that I would have amazing results, and I really trusted her. My surgery went flawlessly, and I followed her post-op instructions right to the letter. I wasn't allowed to sit up or even recline at all for 10 days--I had to either be standing or lying flat. It was a challenge, but I did it! This was to help make sure that I didn't get any openings in the incision line. I didn't have any complications during recovery, which was awesome.

I documented everything in detail, which you can find on my "Plastic Surgery" page (the tab under the header of my blog). For now, here is a five-year post-op update.

I haven't had any problems whatsoever with the results of the surgery. My scar has faded a lot, and I barely even notice it anymore. For the first year or so, my stomach felt kind of numb and very weird (for lack of a better way to describe it). I hated having my stomach touched in any way, like if my cats walked on it or if Jerry touched it while "cuddling" in bed or something.

Now, it feels almost back to normal. I still have mild numbness around my belly button area and just below the hip bones on my sides. It doesn't bother me to touch it at all, but there is a slight lack of sensation there.

As you all know, my weight fluctuates a lot--since surgery, my weight has been as low as 121 pounds and as high as 160 pounds. When I gain weight, I do gain in my stomach--the fat accumulates on each side of and on the top of my belly button. I also get love handles on my sides--those are the first to appear and the last to go when my weight fluctuates.

The only part of my surgery that I would say that I wish was different is that I don't accumulate any fat around my incision line. That may sound like a good thing, but when I gain weight, I gain above the incision line and below, which leaves an indentation where the scar line is. When I'm at around 125-130 pounds, my silhouette is pretty smooth. But any higher than that, and there is an indentation around my hips.

Because of this, I have a hard time finding jeans that fit properly! I like low-rise jeans, but I have a very small butt, and no real hips to hold them up. So, I constantly have to tug at them to keep them from falling down. I don't have this problem with mid-rise jeans, so I prefer those.

I really wish that I didn't have the loose skin on my thighs and arms (my thighs are terrible), but for now, the scar wouldn't be worth it to me. Also, the thigh surgery is very complicated; everyone I know who has had it said it was very difficult to recover from. In the future, however, I may have the surgery because the skin on the insides of my knees rubs together when I walk, and it's getting worse as I get older.

My arms don't look great, either, but again--I don't hate them enough to have the surgery. Here is a photo of me holding Luke, and all I could focus on was the stretch marks and odd looking loose skin.

There is one pretty embarrassing issue with my arms, too! You know how people (pre-teen boys, mostly) make fart noises by cupping their hands under their armpits and lowering their arms quickly? Once in a while, my arm pits make that noise out of nowhere when I just lower my arm quickly! It only happens when I'm wearing a very loose shirt, and I don't think anyone has ever noticed it. But it always surprises me when it happens. Just an odd random tidbit to share, haha.

Anyway, on to the pictures! Since that is probably the only reason you are reading this post ;)  As a refresher, here are a few that led up to today's:

"Before" pictures--you can clearly see in the pic of me bending over all of the loose skin and where my abdomen "should" be.

These are some from the early stages post-op:

I had to wear a compression garment for six weeks

I believe this was on Day 2 post-op. My belly button was still packed with gauze.

This is the incision line across my back (obviously right above my butt). I like that she did the incision very low, so that it doesn't show at all when I wear panties.

I believe these ones were about two weeks post-op. The incision was looking cleaner, but I was very swollen:

And then here are today's photos. My skin looks much better without a camera flash, haha. The above photos were taken with a camera instead of a smart phone (I didn't have a phone yet). And the flash from the camera made my stretch marks stand out big time!

(I was tempted to put a filter on them to make my skin look nicer! But, I don't like using filters because I feel like it's "cheating" or something. So all of these are unfiltered.)

My scar is barely noticeable! Again, I love that the scar is so low that you can't see it at all when wearing panties (I pulled these ones down low so you can see the scar).

This is what I mean when I say that there is no fat that accumulates on my scar line. (Again, I pulled the undies down low so you could see the scar). See how the scar indents a little, giving me the appearance of love handles? But it's still a good trade-off!

So, as you can see, my surgery is holding up well! I am SO glad that I had the surgery when I did, because it makes me feel confident and happy with my body. Also, it's MUCH more comfortable than the loose skin! If anyone is considering it, I would definitely recommend it :)  Here are all of the info and details that I wrote about before and after the surgery.

June 28, 2017

Catch-up and Wednesday Weigh-in

Yeesh! I meant to write more frequently last week, but I swear the days go by so fast. With the kids playing baseball every day, we've been busy. And we're going on vacation Friday, so we've been getting ready for that.

Anyway, it's hard to even begin a post because it's been so long since I've written, so I'll just write some bullets and keep it simple.
  • Someone abandoned this tiny kitten at my younger brother's house, and Nathan asked me if I wanted him/her. While I would LOVE a kitten, there is no way that I can have another pet. I tried so hard to find a home, though, and finally managed to find a rescue that would take him/her (still don't know the sex). Just before I was going to take the kitten to the rescue, however, one of Nathan's friends ended up taking the poor kitty in. 

  • This is not very interesting, but speaking of cats, Phoebe has found a new favorite place to sleep, and she looks so adorable there! She blends right in with the teddy bear, and sometimes I don't even notice her lying there.

  • The fish flies hatched... ugh. These are the gross bugs that the people around Lake Erie get every summer (I think they're also called May Flies, although they tend to hatch in June). Living right across from the state land, and having a street light in front of our house makes us a huge target for these nasty bugs (they are attracted to light). They're harmless, but they smell like fish ("fish flies") and they're really annoying because they just cover everything. 

  • This year, however, Mother Nature did us a huge favor! The day after the big fish fly hatch (they all come at once, usually overnight), we had a huge storm. The wind was crazy, and the rain was so bad that I could barely see when I was driving home. I only had to drive a few miles, but I was going to pull over on the side of the road and wait for the rain to stop. Then I saw huge branches coming off of trees into the road, and I thought it would be more dangerous to just sit there. Thankfully, we got home safely. And the storm ended up being really great, because it completely got rid of the fish flies! They usually hang out for a couple of weeks before they die and smell even worse, but they were all gone after the storm. 
    Eli took this picture
  • We were at baseball practice right before the storm came, and the sky actually looked pretty cool! But the coach called off practice just in time, because as soon as we got to the car and started driving home, the rain started coming down in sheets.

  • The glasses that Noah and I ordered last week came in. Mine don't have a prescription--just an anti-glare coating because my night vision is so bad. I only wear them when watching TV or using the computer at night, or when I'm driving at night, because they keep me from seeing halos around lights--it's awesome! I was so excited the first time I drove at night with them, because there weren't any halos around headlights of other cars. And Noah just looks so much older with his glasses (especially when he actually does his hair--this picture was during a lazy afternoon at home, so no "cool" hair for him, haha). 

  • Lucas (my nephew) is getting SO big!! He's almost four months old already. He's been smiling, laughing, and cooing--I love this age! My brother (a pilot) has been getting outfits for him from each country that he flies to, and it's so adorable I almost can't stand it. Brian went to Scotland recently and came home with this. So cute! Becky said maybe he'll get a kilt next time, hahaha. 

  • Wednesday Weigh-in was kind of a surprise today:

I was at 132.4, which is down 0.8 from last week. I'm still consistently losing, even though it's much slower than last time. I am hoping that means it'll be easier to keep off. As I see my weight get lower, it makes me a little nervous that I'm just going to gain it all back soon, per usual. But the changes I've made have been lifestyle changes--the correct medication (to treat bipolar, rather than depression) has helped me to stop emotional eating because my mood is stable; and I've pretty much stopped drinking alcohol altogether. I don't plan to totally quit, but I save it for special occasions and limit myself to two drinks. The last time I had a drink was actually in Portland a month ago. Not drinking alcohol has helped me to not snack when I'm not hungry. Before, alcohol would make me want to eat everything!  
Well, we leave for vacation on Friday, so this may be my last post for a while. We are going to the far western part of the upper peninsula, and there is no cell or internet service. It's going to feel so odd! But I'm kind of excited to find other non-electronic ways to spend time. I'm actually going to bring a notebook and write the old fashioned way--I can't even remember the last time I did that. I also have some books I want to read. 

If I don't write again, I hope everyone has a great weekend and Fourth of July! 

June 25, 2017

A "Walk Your First Half-Marathon" Training Plan

Finally! I have been meaning to post this for a while. When I wrote the Six Month Half-Marathon Training Plan for Beginners (a running plan), I received several requests from people asking me to write a half-marathon plan for walkers.

Walk Your First Half Marathon Training Plan

I have trained for and walked a couple of half-marathons (I've also walked a couple without training--don't do that!), and it is actually much tougher than one might think. In fact, I found walking a half-marathon to be harder than most of the ones I've run. While walking, you will be on the course roughly twice as long, and that really takes a toll on your body. Even as an avid runner myself, a "simple" seven mile training walk felt very difficult and left me sore for days!

Just last month, I walked a half-marathon without really training for it; I thought since I was a runner for the last seven years, I wouldn't have any trouble walking a half. Let me just say, it kicked my ass. Not as bad as the others I've walked, but it certainly wasn't not a "stroll in the park", either.

Walking the Indy Mini Marathon 2017
Starting to get tired at only mile 7

The first half-marathon that I walked was in 2008, and I was well over 200 pounds. I thought to myself, "It's just walking, anybody can do that." So, I made the mistake of not training for it. On race day, I felt like I was going to die. It was awful!

Pretty sure I was near death at this point in 2008's race

The following year, in 2009, I was even heavier--253 pounds--but I made sure to train for the race. And that year, even though my weight was up quite a bit, I felt much better than the previous year! My longest walk before the race was 10 miles. It wasn't easy, but the training prepared me to get that 13.1 miles done on race day.

Katie Indy Mini Marathon finish photo 2009
Feeling pretty good after the race in 2009

If you are thinking of walking a half-marathon, I can't stress enough how important it is to train for it! You need to toughen up your feet so you don't get blisters; train your muscles to endure a very long period of exercise; figure out a fueling plan; and prepare your cardiovascular system to handle the endurance of such a long race.

That said, I have written a plan for people who would like to walk their first half-marathon (or second or tenth--it will train anybody). This plan is 13 weeks long--roughly 3 months. If you are physically unable to start with Week 1, I recommend walking four days per week for as long as you're able, until you can walk for two miles without stopping. Then you should be prepared to start on Week 1 of the plan.

This plan assumes you have gotten permission from your doctor to follow it as written (or with your doctor's modifications). Feel free to change around the days of the week to fit your schedule. I wouldn't recommend doing the interval walks back to back with the long walks, but other than that, it can be rearranged as needed.

I think the plan is pretty self-explanatory, but feel free to ask me any questions! Best wishes as you train to walk your first (or hundredth) half-marathon!

Here is a printer-friendly plan!

I just have a small favor to ask... if you share this plan, please share this blog post rather than the plan itself. I only get paid as a blogger based on the number of page views I have on my blog, and since I spend so much time writing these free plans, it'd be awesome if you'd share this page :) Thanks you!

I've also written a post about tips for training for your first half-marathon, and even though I had geared it toward runners, most of it is fitting for walkers as well. Enjoy!

June 21, 2017

Organizing (and Wednesday Weigh-in)

What an exhausting day!

I'm only starting to write this at 10:00 pm. When I woke up this morning, I remembered it was Wednesday Weigh-in, but that feels like a million years ago. This has been such a long day.

I know I've said this before, but ever since my bipolar diagnosis and new medication, I've felt like a different person. In a great way! I have had SO much more energy, but not in a crazy/manic way like before. I just don't have the desire to sit and do nothing--right after breakfast, I want to work on a project or just get stuff done.

And somehow, my new "hobby" has been cleaning and organizing. It sounds so weird, but I actually really enjoy my daily cleaning routine (nothing major, but I look forward to folding and putting away laundry, cleaning out the litter box (!!), dusting, etc). Most of all, I enjoy organizing.

Before the medication, when I was in a hypomanic state, I would pick a project around the house to start, feeling excited and charged; and then I'd lose steam and never finish it. Now, I am able to focus on a task and complete it, which has been awesome! I've gotten almost my entire house organized now, just by taking on one project at a time over the last couple of months.

Today, I decided to organize photographs (the actual printed photos, not digital). As I was grabbing photos from several different places they'd been tucked away, I pulled out a big box of stuff that I have saved for memorabilia. I call it a "memory box", and it's just full of notes Jerry has given me, mementos from when I was a kid, my old school newspapers that I wrote articles for, copies of the magazines I've been in, etc.

Side note: Did I post this here yet? I can't remember. Sometimes I post on Instagram and think it was on the blog, and vice versa. Anyway, I walked into the pantry on one random day last week, and I noticed Jerry had taped all these hearts to the wall. On each one, he wrote something cute or funny. I couldn't believe how much time he'd spent on it! He had been up all night because he was on a midnight shift, so he worked on it during the night.

He's always been very corny, and that's one of the things I love most about him. We've been married for nearly 14 years and together for over 18 years, and he still does this stuff.

Anyway, the memory box was a huge mess, as I usually just throw things in there whenever I come across something I want to keep. So, I emptied and sorted it. Look at the mess in my living room as I was sorting photos! The memory box is in the bottom right, and I hadn't even started taking those things out yet.

Actually, that doesn't even look bad. I should have taken a picture later, when you couldn't even see the carpet!

It felt good to get all of that done. Then I went out to return some stuff to different stores (still trying to come up with as much money as possible for Eli's orthodontics) before making dinner and going to the boys' baseball game. That's another thing I've been really focused on lately--our budget. It's actually been kind of fun! We've never followed a budget for more than a day or two before, and this time, we've been at it for three weeks. It's been going really well, too.

I've discovered how much I used to buy out of impulse. It didn't matter where I was, I would always think, "Oh, we need this" or "We need that". But the reality is, we didn't need those things at all. Also, instead of buying things for the kids, we've started giving them allowance and they have to use their allowance to buy what they want (obviously, we provide their necessities). Jerry and I also give ourselves an allowance to use on things that aren't really necessary (I bought a few pairs of shorts at Salvation Army, for example, and Jerry buys his beloved craft beer). Having a certain amount of money to spend on things really makes me stop and think about what I want/need.

I even typed out a bunch of recipes that my family enjoys and that are cheap to make, and I made a binder full of them. I shop once a week to get the groceries for those recipes, and nothing else. No impulse buys. I was shocked when I saw how much money we saved last week just by cutting out the unnecessary things.

I feel like I have so much to say! But it'll be all over the place, so maybe I'll just try and write a little several times this week, instead of throwing it all into one place. The gist for today is just that I actually enjoy cleaning and organizing, which is totally crazy. I also enjoy budgeting our expenses, and paying down debt. I truly feel like a different person than I was just four months ago!

Anyway, Wednesday Weigh-in was good...

At 133.2, I am basically back at my goal weight. I haven't cared much about it at all, but I do notice that I feel more confident. Yesterday, the kids were staying the night at my parents' house, so I decided to surprise Jerry by putting on some cute lingerie. When my weight was up, I never felt comfortable doing that, because I noticed in the mirror all of the places the extra weight was sitting, and even though Jerry couldn't care less about it, I felt self-conscious.

Yesterday, I felt really good. And Jerry wasn't complaining ;)

I have definitely noticed that staying busy has helped me not to binge eat or just eat out of boredom. Since I am pretty much constantly moving or working on something now, I only stop to eat when it's a regular mealtime, and I quickly get back to whatever I was working on. There were a couple of evenings where I was home by myself and I tried to just sit and watch a movie, and I found the urge to start snacking. I realized it was because I wasn't keeping busy. I knew I wasn't hungry, but I was bored.

Staying busy has been a huge factor in getting back to my goal weight. I still haven't run in a long time, and I don't miss it. (Not sure if you noticed the new header on my blog--but it'll be a filler until I decide what to do with my url). Instead, I stay busy and active in other ways, and I am enjoying it so much more.

Anyway, I am exhausted, and my bed is sounding so comfy right now. G'night!

June 18, 2017

Springing into summer

We have had a fun weekend! Nothing crazy eventful; but fun, nonetheless.

On Friday, Jerry, the kids, and I each had eye exam appointments. It was Jerry's first-ever eye exam, which I thought was just crazy! He's 36 years old, and had never had his eyes checked. The kids had never been to an eye doctor, either, but Noah started complaining about not being able to read the blackboard at school, so I knew it was time they went.

I got glasses when I was about nine years old.

This will end up being a meme somewhere,
I just know it! hahaha
My sight was pretty bad, and then I got contacts in middle school. In 2002, I used some money that my grandma had left for me and got LASIK eye surgery.

At the time, it was fairly new--I didn't know anyone who had had it done. But it worked perfectly, and my vision was 20/20 in my left eye, and 20/15 in my right eye. (My left eye has a mild astigmatism, so it's slightly worse than my right.)

Anyway, my vision has been great up until a couple of years ago, when I started having problems seeing at night, especially while driving. Bright lights in the dark (even watching TV in a dark room) was bothersome. I was worried that my vision was getting worse, so I figured I'd better get checked out, too. I hadn't had an eye exam since just after my LASIK surgery 15 years ago!

I was kind of worried several of us would end up needing glasses, because I had no idea what our insurance would cover. We just found out Eli needs some orthodontic work--an expander and braces--which is INSANELY expensive (about $7500--isn't that crazy?), so we're trying to save every penny we can. From what I remembered, glasses were very expensive as well.

We had our eye exams, and when Noah was getting his done (I was in the room with him), I could tell for sure he was going to need glasses. And I was right. Then it was my turn, and I surprised myself by still seeing 20/20; although, the halos around the lights were a problem. So, the doctor recommended that I get glasses with anti-reflective lenses. The lenses would make my vision clearer during the day, but especially so at night.

Since the glasses weren't entirely a necessity for me, I decided to wait and see what the insurance covered before deciding if I'd get them. I was shocked to find out that our insurance covers 100% (up to $200 for the frames) for each of us! So, Noah and I shopped for some frames. I ended up picking out these ones:

They should be in sometime this week. I'm excited to see if the lenses actually help!

Noah picked out very cute frames (he would probably hate that I use the word "cute"). I'll share a pic of us both when we get the glasses.

Anyway, yesterday, we were invited to a party at our friends' Jake and Emma's house. They had a "celebrate summer" party last year, which was a lot of fun, so we were all looking forward to that again. The kids were excited to go because there were other kids there to play with, and Jake and Emma have a pool.

It was very humid yesterday, so I ended up wearing a sundress. I hardly ever wear dresses, but I really didn't want to be a sweaty mess. I have several sundresses handed down from my sister and from Becky, but I ended up going with my favorite green one. I just love the shade of green, and I feel comfortable in it.

I played a game my friends call "Holey Board"--it's similar to Corn Hole, but you use washers instead of bean bags. I'm terrible at all yard games, so I always feel sorry for my partners. Jerry was my partner in Holey Board, and we played against Jake and Eric, who are masters of it.

Eric and I, rivals in Holey Board. He's way better than me.

Somehow, Jerry and I ended up winning, and it was due to me accidentally-on-purpose making the winning toss!

Just before this, Adam (in the picture) said, "I think Katie WANTS to be good..."
(like I was trying my best, but I just naturally suck at it). And before he could say
anything else, I made the perfect toss and won the game ;) I totally planned that.
After that, Joe and I partnered up to play Corn Hole against Adam and Liz. I wasn't good at that either; but a few times, I managed to get points--and then Liz would throw, and she always ended up canceling out my points! Joe and I actually won that game (although that was entirely due to Joe's skills). I clearly need practice.

I really should get some yard games. They'd be a lot of fun to play with the kids. Jerry and I have (jokingly, but not really) started a mental list of "things we want to buy after we pay for Eli's orthodontics", hahaha. So, I'll just add yard games to the list.

We all had a lot of fun, and are already looking forward to next year. I always love hanging out with my high school friends!

Jerry is working today, unfortunately. But later, we are going to my parents' house for dinner. Per my usual Father's Day tradition, I made my dad a pecan pie (his favorite). I don't know if he actually thinks my pie is the best, but that's what he says--so I make him one on Father's Day and on his birthday.

Today's pie is a little overdone, I think. Our oven has been screwed up lately--I'll preheat the oven, and then after I put something in it, the temp lowers down a LOT--probably to about 200 degrees. So after baking this pie for 45 minutes, it looked like it had only been in for about 10 minutes. I tried again, and the heat stayed at 375, but I overshot and baked it a tad longer than I probably should have. I am just hoping that we don't need a new oven! Another item to add to our list ;)

Anyway, I hope everyone has had a great weekend (and Father's Day, to those celebrating)!

June 14, 2017

Summer vacation

Now that summer vacation is here, the days are really blurring together. We've been super busy with baseball--the kids have practice every day and games on Mondays and Wednesdays. Eli is also on a second team that he tried out for recently (I'm SO glad that he made it! He was really looking forward to it). It's a team that plays a tournament at the county fair. So he has practice on Saturdays as well. Lots of baseball going on here!

Eli actually almost didn't sign up to play this year at all. He was very worried about getting hit by the pitch (he was hit several times last year) and since the kids are older this year, the pitches would be faster. I talked him into it, and I'm really glad that I did, because he loves it.

Ironically, something much worse than getting hit by the pitch happened at Monday's game. He was playing short stop, and someone was stealing second base. He had to cover the base, and the catcher made a bad throw to second. Eli ran to catch it, which was right in the baseline, and I noticed the runner was watching the ball instead of where he was running.

The runner collided with Eli so hard that they both flew into the air and crashed down on the ground. Eli was facedown in the dirt, and wasn't moving. My heart felt like it stopped, and I was panicking inside. Jerry was the base coach, so he ran over right away, and I just kept waiting for Eli to stand up.

I had seen exactly what happened, and it felt like it was in slow motion at the time. The runner's head was turned to watch the ball (as was Eli's) and they were both running toward each other. Eli grabbed the ball and turned to tag the runner, who was inches away, and the runner just plowed into him (accidentally). The runner's helmet smashed into Eli's face, and I will never get that noise out of my head.

Anyway, after making sure Eli didn't appear to have broken bones, he was helped up and he walked off the field. I brought over a washcloth that I had (I brought ice water with washcloths in it, because it was 92 degrees outside, and I thought the kids would like that to cool off). Eli had a cut over his eye (which we later learned was probably from his sunglasses that broke when the helmet hit him). He also had lots of marks all over his head, like scrape marks. Later, we discovered several bruises here and there.

There was a paramedic at the game, who came over to check him out (basically to check for a concussion). He seemed to be okay, just a bit dazed. He remembered everything that happened, and he didn't black out at all. Anyway, he turned out to be fine, and he even went to practice the next day. I told him he doesn't have to be scared of getting hit by a pitch anymore, because what happened then was probably the worst thing that would happen to him in baseball. So, he got that over with ;)

Yesterday, I met my friend Jenni for frozen custard and a walk. We met at the custard place, and then we walked along the river and chatted for a while.

Vanilla custard with rainbow sprinkles!

We were good friends in high school, and then lost touch as we went our separate ways after graduation. Then when Jerry and I had game night a couple of months ago, she randomly came--and it was awesome! We got together once after that, and then made plans to meet yesterday. It's fun getting in touch with old friends.

Today was Wednesday Weigh-in, and I totally didn't even realize it was Wednesday until late this morning. I weighed in this morning when I woke up, but didn't take a picture of the scale because I hadn't realized it was Wednesday. So, I was 134.0 this morning, which is down a little from last week, I think. (I just checked--last week, I was 134.4, so I was down just under half a pound this week.) I think my weight might be stabling out now, which is cool. My goal weight is 133, and it's interesting that my weight loss is going very slowly now that I'm approaching 133 again.

But again, I just haven't cared that much about my weight lately, if at all. I spent my whole life thinking about my weight and trying to lose weight; it's interesting that now that I stopped caring (really stopped caring, not just thinking that I don't care) the weight is actually coming off without much effort (no counting or calculating anything, etc.).

I have had terrible insomnia lately. It all started when I got back from Portland. I'm sure it wasn't jet lag--I've never had a problem adjusting to the time zone difference. I just don't feel tired at all, and I've been going to sleep at around 3:00 AM every day. It's frustrating because I want to sleep but I don't feel at all tired at night--and then the next day, I'm dragging. I'm going to mention it to the psychiatrist the next time I go. I may just change up the time of day that I take my medication (but I don't think it's the medication that is giving me insomnia, because nothing has changed except for my sleeping habits).

Now that the kids are on break, though, it's been much easier. I still stay up late, but now I can actually sleep in (the kids do, too). It's actually kind of fun being a night owl! I always get in the mood to text friends, though, and clearly nobody is awake at those hours except for my west coast friends. And Jerry, when he works midnights.

So, I've been slowly but surely working on organizing photos (still!). I've been dating all of my photos that I scanned several years ago--photos from 1982, when I was born, until 2004, when I got a digital camera. After I get them dated, I have to tag the people in them. So, it's basically a never-ending project! But something fun to work on at night. The pictures have been making me feel super nostalgic, though! It kind of makes me want to be in college again ;)

It also really makes me miss my old roommate, Sarah. She's my friend who lives in Arizona, and I only get to see about once a year. We were best friends from when we were toddlers all the way through college. So, I've been thinking about going to see her next year, possibly for our birthdays (hers is on January 22, and mine is on January 25--we were born the same year, and lived just two houses apart).

Well, the kids want to watch a TV show together, so I am going to do that! G'night. :)

June 10, 2017

2017 Summer Running Checklist

Can you believe that summer is just a couple of weeks away? I can't either. For the first time (maybe ever, but at least for several years) I am entering summer with a great mindset. My weight is just about a pound from my goal weight (which never happens in the spring); my mood is stable, thanks to the bipolar meds and good therapy; I have some fun things to look forward to; and I'm happier than I've been in a long time.

I need to take some more pictures. I don't have many at all these days! I have been doing the 1SecondEveryday videos, so here is a screenshot from one of them. Becky and Luke came to Noah and Eli's baseball game on Wednesday. Luke just sat there like a little angel watching the game. He gets cuter and cuter every time I see him.

Last year, I wrote a "Summer Running Checklist"--a list of different sorts of runs to do, like a Summer Solstice run, an evening run, a trail run, a Stone Age run, a Forrest Gump run, etc. There are actually 49 different runs on the list!

I've had a few people ask me if I was going to create a list for this year, and I hadn't really thought about it. But, since I haven't been posting much, I figured it wouldn't hurt to update the list and post it here for anyone who may be interested in doing the challenge. Most, if not all, of these can be done as a walker as well.

Anyway, here is a small screen shot of the list. The full PDF can be downloaded and printed for ease of filling it out.

Here is the link to download the PDF. It fits on two pages when you print it out.

Summer starts on June 21st, which is less than two weeks away! Since I'm not running right now, I obviously won't be participating in the challenge, but I love to see photos and thoughts of those who are. So, you can use the hashtag #CookiesSummerRunning on social media to share your progress (remember, if your profiles or pages are private, I won't be able to view/comment on your posts). 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Enjoy!

June 08, 2017

Lifestyle changes

Hey friends! My writing has been so sporadic lately, but I'm not even apologizing for it (not that I ever needed to, but I used to put pressure on myself to write frequently). I didn't even post my Wednesday Weigh-in yesterday (although I did weigh in, so I'll post it below).

I've been pretty busy, but not with the usual stuff. My lifestyle has changed quite a bit over the last few months, and it's actually for the better. For once, I am going into summer feeling very good about myself and just where I am in general right now.

It's been a huge change from just four months ago! I'll write more about that in a bit.

For now, my Wednesday Weigh-in...

I had to go back and look at what last week's weight was, because I couldn't remember for the life of me. Last week, I was 135-even, so I'm down 0.6 pounds this week. Still losing, although slowly; and it's so odd that I honestly don't really care that much! I don't think about my weight very often, and when I do, it's in a factual way. I don't think about being close to my goal weight again, or trying to lose that last little bit, or even whether I gain five or ten pounds. I feel so free from all of that!

I have never felt this way before. I think once I was diagnosed with bipolar, and accepted that diagnosis (finally), I was able to move on with my life. I look at things in a different light now. I finally realize why I am the way I am, and my new medication helps me to be stable instead of always being at one end of the spectrum or the other (depressed or manic--never really in-between). I used to self-medicate with food for depression, alcohol for anxiety, etc. Now that I am stable, I don't feel the need to do that anymore--and it's awesome!

I had to explain to my family what bipolar is, and why I am different from them in many ways--I was really nervous to do so, but they were very supportive of what I had to say. I've always been "different", but I was always trying to fit in with them; so, I made myself unhappy by trying to be someone I wasn't. After explaining the situation, I finally feel free to be myself, and it's very liberating.

Take vacations, for example. My family has always liked the beach, tropical or warm places, cruises, camping, and doing lots of planned activities. Those are things that I just don't enjoy; but, I always went along with them because I thought my idea of vacation wasn't "good enough" somehow. My ideal vacation is traveling to a new city (or familiar cities I've enjoyed, like Portland) and walking around the city just taking it all in. I love to visit friends who live in parts of the country I don't get to see very often. And my very favorite thing to do is to visit their favorite places, rather than do the touristy things. (Sometimes touristy things are fun, too, but typically I like the local favorites.)

Jerry and I in Brooklyn last fall
I like chatting with friends in dive bars (not the highest-rated-on-Yelp places, but places that my friends regularly enjoy), and trying their favorite restaurants--nothing fancy. I usually ask them to choose what food to order, because they tend to know what the local favorites are. When I went to Portland for the first time, I discovered that I love hiking, especially when I can see waterfalls.

Jerry, me, and our friend Mike on the Staten Island ferry
Walking around NYC, Boston, Portland, San Diego, St. Louis, etc., have been my sort of vacations. In fact, I've planned a vacation for Jerry and I in the fall--we (along with Caitlin) are going to Portland. I know I was just there, but Caitlin and Jerry have never been. Also, we're going to be in the city (I didn't see the city last month, because I was in central Oregon), and they can get the Portland experience that I enjoyed so much the first time I was there. I'm certainly no expert at showing people around Portland, but I have a few favorite places that I'd like them to see.

I've been working on getting the most of my Delta SkyMiles (charging things and then paying it off every month), so I was able to get tickets for under $200. Usually when I go to Portland, I actually get my ticket for free due to my SkyMiles! (Since I just used the SkyMiles last month, I didn't have enough to get free tickets for the fall--but $200 is a great deal). The tickets are usually about $400-500 for round trip to Portland, so I wouldn't be able to go as often if I didn't use SkyMiles. The more I travel, the less scared I am to fly, and the more I enjoy going places.

Oh, you know, just a typical Saturday night roasting marshmallows
with BART YASSO at Runner's World headquarters in Bethlehem, PA ;)

[Side note: I recently learned that there is a referral program for Delta Amex, so I'm just going to throw this out here--if I refer someone to the Delta Amex card, and they are approved, then I get 10,000 bonus miles. So, if you're interested in getting one anyway, I'd love it if you did it through this link! I've been using this card for probably about four years now, and it pays off in a great way for traveling. I'm not saying that just to get the referrals--honest. I figured since I mention my SkyMiles on my blog frequently when I plan trips, I might as well post the referral link and maybe get some bonus miles out of it. (And right now, they have a limited time offer of getting 60,000 bonus miles when you spend a certain amount in the first four months. Depending on the destination, 60,000 miles can get you about two round-trip tickets!) I also like that you get to check bags for free--that alone saves me $50 per trip.]

I can't believe I let my fear of flying keep me from traveling for the first 29 years of my life! I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do.

I always send Jerry a plane selfie before I take off. Just in
case it's the last picture he ever sees of me. Hahaha!
Anyway, that was a huge tangent--the whole point of all this is to say that I am thankful that I finally feel comfortable enough to be ME, and do the things that I enjoy without feeling guilty or that being different from my family is a bad thing. In reality, I am a pretty cool person with my own interests ;) I still like spending time with my family, of course, but it's fun to branch out.

Along with my bipolar diagnosis and new meds, I have made some pretty significant lifestyle changes. Firstly, I have all-but quit drinking. I wasn't an alcoholic or anything before, but there was no need for me to drink at home alone, or even just home with Jerry. All summer long, I liked to have shandy or summery cocktails. When going out to eat, I would usually have a drink or two (which is not only expensive, but the cocktails that I like--margaritas!--are high in calories).

So, I've cut way back on that. Now, I probably only drink twice a month, and when I do, it's in social situations and I limit myself to two. I certainly don't judge others for drinking, though. Jerry still enjoys a craft beer just about every day--he loves craft beer, and I don't see anything wrong with that. Cutting back is just the right choice for myself.

Another big change is that I stopped running--which may sound like a bad thing. However, I wasn't happy with it anymore. I was always dreading it, and I just didn't feel like I was excited to set new running goals. I hope that I will be interested in it again one day, but if I'm not, I'm okay with that, too.

Instead, I've been enjoying just being active throughout the day in other ways. This summer, I'd like to ride my bike more often, as well as take Joey for long walks in the Metroparks. I'd like to do more yard work and projects in the house, which doesn't sound like exercise, but it's pretty grueling sometimes--and I always feel sore afterward! I can take the kids swimming at the rec center, and maybe even try out kayaking or things like that.

I feel like I've droned on a enough, so I'll leave it at that. But since lots of people have asked how I'm doing, I wanted to post an update. I'm doing very well! I'm much happier than I was several months ago, and I have a really good outlook on this summer. Usually, I worry about summer throwing me off track (with life in general), but I am looking forward to a new type of summer :)

June 05, 2017

A fun zoo outing (and comparison photos)

On Saturday, we were invited to go to the zoo with the company Jerry works for. Once in a while, they'll host a fun outing somewhere, and this year, they chose the Detroit Zoo. They actually rented out the entire zoo just for employees and their families!

The zoo normally closes at 5:00 pm, and our event started at 6:00--so we had the whole zoo to ourselves. Usually (well, almost always), I regret going to the zoo. It's always miserably hot, the animals aren't very active (and I feel sorry for them being in a zoo in the first place), it's expensive to get in, and there are SO many people. It always sounds like a fun idea to go for the day, but then when we get there, I regret it.

This trip was entirely free to us--including parking, zoo admission, a huge dinner, and drinks. So, there was no reason not to go. Since it was in the evening, I hoped it would be cooler outside than when we usually go.

Anyway, the weather was nice--hot, but as the sun was going down, it was getting cooler. When we got there, they gave each of the kids a little stuffed giraffe, and Jerry a portable cell phone charger. We were all hungry, so we went over to the food tents right away. They had pulled pork, chicken breasts, hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, salad, rolls, and probably a dozen other things. So much food! They had beer and wine, as well as tea, pop, and reusable water bottles.

The four of us sat down and ate, and by then, the sun was down enough that it felt great outside. We started walking around the zoo, and it was fantastic not to have big crowds to wade through. Nothing super eventful happened, so I won't bore you with details. But I did take lots of pictures, and today, I went through old pictures from the zoo to compare. It's crazy to see how big the kids have gotten.

And Jerry and I took our traditional binoculars photo. I have no idea why we started this--just being goofy, I guess--but now we take this photo every time we see these kinds of binoculars. I can't find ALL of them, but here are a few, in chronological order:

1999 (the photo that started the tradition)




Clearly, our weight has fluctuated as much as our hair in the last 18 years ;)  I think I actually like this year's photo the best, probably because I was in a much better mood than the other times at the zoo!

Here is a photo of the boys and me that we have started taking the last couple of years. It's cool to see them get taller.




In 2009, I crouched down and used the kids to try and hide myself as much as possible, because I was embarrassed of my size. The kids have grown, so I obviously don't have to crouch down anymore, but I like to for comparison's sake. They are going to be taller than me soon!

Another picture I like to compare is of Noah and me. Again, I tried to hide my body as much as possible...

 Two more sets of pictures, and then I'll be done, I promise ;) These ones are just the boys:





They grow up so fast! Anyway, we stayed until 9:00, and we all had so much fun. We feel spoiled now, so it'll be hard to go to the zoo in the crowds again! But it was awesome that Jerry's company did this for the employees.

I did make a short video of the evening, so I wouldn't overload this post with photos of animals. I used the 1 Second Everyday app to compile several clips (nothing terribly exciting, however):

All in all, it was a super fun evening! We almost didn't go, because we were doing so much yard work and house work Saturday that we didn't want to stop. The kids weren't even sure if they wanted to go--but we were all glad that we went!

Hope everyone had a great weekend :)

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