14 May 2012

My Dukan Diet: History

I didn't think I was fat. I really didn't. I've always had an hourglass shape. I swell uniformly. My waist is always smaller than my bust and hips, so sometimes it's hard to tell how bad the weight gain is. Well, I didn't think I was quite THAT fat, anyway.  Until I saw the hundreds of pictures from my bridal shower popping up on Facebook. Oh. My. Who in the world is that...? Poop. That's how people think I look??????

(This one's probably the best of the batch. I'm sucking it in, here.)

I worked really hard. I truly did. When I moved to Greenville on 29 March 2011, I joined Curves (again), and began working out 5 or 6 days per week. No change. Several people told me that calorie counting was the way to go. "The numbers don't lie," they said. I counted calories. I had an app on my phone, and didn't put a bite in my mouth or take a sip of anything without logging it in. I cut out sugar. I cut out alcohol (except the occasional glass of wine with my fiance). I didn't always make the wisest decisions, but I counted the calories, and the numbers? THEY LIED.

I managed to, just barely, shave off 10 pounds before my wedding, over the course of 6 months. I worked my ever-loving rear end off to do it. I was running between 1000 and 1300 net calories for most of those 6 months, which should have taken off WAY more than 10 lbs, especially with my workout ethic. I was walking with my friend (a couple hundred calories off) several miles each time, several days per week. I was working out at Curves (300-600 calorie workouts-- thanks, Curves Smart system, for tracking my calories) 4, 5, 6 days per week-- in addition to walking. The numbers didn't work.

Now, before I get flack from people who think they know better than I do, I need to explain something. I understand that some people can count calories and work out and lose weight. I am not one of them. Before you tell me how wrong and stupid I am to think that way, let me tell you this. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and that, my friend, is a game-changer. I'll write other posts about this interesting phenomenon, but let me sum up..

PCOS helps you put on weight. PCOS helps prevent you from losing it. Many women (though not all) with PCOS tend to develop weight problems ranging from mildly overweight to morbidly obese, because our bodies are hormonally unbalanced. The cause of weight gain and difficulty with weight loss is that the hormones (which are out of whack) cause a basic metabolic problem. The metabolism doesn't do what it ought. Even if you treat the symptoms of PCOS (yet another post to cover that), it's incredibly difficult to maintain or lose weight. The fascinating part is that a weight loss of as little as 5% (if you weigh 200 lbs, that's only a 2.5 lb loss) can begin to restore the balance to the hormones, which in turn affects the rest of the issues with the disease.

Back to the pre-wedding efforts-- I worked really hard, and got really depressed about how hard I was working without seeing the results I expected.

About a month before the wedding, my Matron of Honor (Full Time Wife-- FTW) suggested I try the Dukan Diet. I couldn't wrap my brain around it at the time. I was working so hard, trying to lose weight. I was preparing to get married some 800+ miles away from where I lived, and the traveling back and forth was wearing me thin ragged. My husband's boss (the scumbag) retracted the approval for him to work remotely during the week prior to the wedding, which meant our entire wedding travel plans had to undergo a last-minute overhaul, and I just couldn't even begin to think of starting something new.

I got married, and we traveled back to Greenville to set up house, then went on our honeymoon to Jamaica. Within a couple of months of the wedding date, I had gained back the entire 10 lbs I had worked so hard to lose, as well as an additional few. I now weighed more than when I had started. De. Press. Ing. Really.

In the mean time, my beloved mother had taken the FTW's advice to heart, and had begun the Dukan Diet. The weight was peeling off her, quietly. She began to suggest I start working on my weight again. Initially, I just didn't have it in me. Working so hard to produce such paltry results was exhausting and depressing. I was trying to learn how to be a wife. I was attempting to set a new home in order, while still in the middle of renovations. I was learning that being married meant that everything about me had to change, and I was working so hard on that. The idea of putting a full-time effort into weight-loss, too, was more than I could do.

Over the first few months, I was trying to find a foothold. I began to gain some ground. The house began to settle. I started thinking about who I want to be, and what I need to do to be that person. My husband and I began dreaming of the future together, post-wedding. What would it take to get there? What would it look like? I knew I didn't want it to include pictures like the ones from my bridal shower.

(Awwww... Look at the happy fat lady!
Oh, and no, this isn't even the worst...)

Two conversations happened. A friend suffered a miscarriage, and she had a very serious conversation with me. "I just want to encourage you and all the ladies in my life to be really serious about getting your health in order BEFORE you get to the point where you start having babies. It's the best thing you can do for you, your husband, and your children. Be healthy first."

My parents came for Christmas. While my dad and I were out for a walk on our street, he was telling me about how proud he was of my mom for her weight loss. "She's always been able to just get really mean with herself. When she decides she needs to make a change, she just gets really disciplined, and she doesn't let herself get away with anything. Even when I tempt her with dessert or try to get her to have a nice meal, she says, 'That's not on my diet, right now,' and doesn't give in."

From those two, brief exchanges came many hours of thought. I made some internal decisions, then talked them over with my husband. I decided that the woman I want to be is someone who is known for the discipline in her life, like my mom. I also decided that I wouldn't drag my health baggage and carry-ons into my husband's or children's lives. I want to be fit for my family, so that I don't have any excuse to not live life fully. My husband, who is an amazing, supportive man, reluctantly agreed with my thoughts. He didn't feel I needed to lose weight. That's just how wonderful he is. He said that he would support me, as long as what I'm doing makes me healthier. Thin isn't a goal that's acceptable to him. Healthy is.

In January, I started the diet.

More to come...

Much love,

Sharing Five: 5/14/12

Here are five articles/blog posts I've read lately. Each has given me something on which to think. Enjoy!

And here's a picture, just for the fun of it. This is Zelma. (a.k.a. Mama pig, previously known as Wadcutter-- but that was when I got her and was told she was a boy. Nope. Pregnant girl.) She's sitting on one of my pig slippers that were crocheted (that word looks goofy to me) by my Aunt Polly. Cute, eh? Interestingly enough, the afghan on which the slipper is sitting was also crocheted (there it is, again) by my Aunt Polly. Yes. My guinea pigs are spoiled. Yes. I have guinea pigs.

Much love,

10 May 2012

My Best Friend(s): My Husband

(Isn't he handsome??)

This is my handsome husband. Whom I love. To pieces. I still don't quite get why I'm the one who was blessed to get him. I think both of us feel that way, and there's not really anything wrong with having a mutual admiration society in your marriage. Yes, I know, we're newlyweds. Yes, I know, it's annoying for everyone to observe us basking in our bliss. Yes, I've heard that we'll "get over that" or that the "honeymoon will end" or whatever. No, I'm not willing to cede my future to the cynics. I love him, and I'm incredibly thankful to be his wife. So there. 

I have probably learned more about what my relationship with God is all about since HE surrendered his life to God than I have in the majority of my life, put together. I'm not talking book-learning, head-knowledge. No, that's been an accumulation of years. I'm talking about the nitty-gritty, day-to-day details of walking with God. I tend to be a bit of a know-it-all (and if you agree with me, it WILL hurt my feelings-- just because I know it's true doesn't mean I'm strong enough acknowledge that others can clearly observe that chink in my armor), and the idea that this brand new baby Christian has taught me so much is quite humbling. On a nearly daily basis (or more often), my relationship with this man makes me crave to know God better, hunger to learn more, and thirst to be filled with the Spirit. That's why I picked this 18-month-old picture from our engagement photo shoot. It's the only one I have of him with his Bible, but he never goes anywhere without it. 

I long, so much I can taste it, to be the kind of wife that is an adequate ezer kenegdo* for this man. I grieve over the times when I don't do as well as I'd like, because I want to be able to minister to him in the way that God created me to. He thinks I'm too hard on myself, sometimes, but the truth is, I let myself off easy more than I'd care to admit. I'm selfish when I should be looking after his needs. I'm self-absorbed when I should be stepping up. I'm less than I'd like to be for my husband, but I'm learning. I'm growing. I'm trying. Not always successfully. It's a process. I've gotten to where I say that a lot. Most things are a process. 

Enough about me. This man is a fantastic husband. When I started the Dukan Diet (post on that before too long), he was so supportive of me that he lost 7 lbs in the first 2 weeks of MY diet. He was so careful not to eat anything I couldn't have in front of me, not to expose me to any temptation, to support my food choices. So supportive. Amazing, right? Even more amazing when you've been unsupported on a diet. It's a whole different animal, this way.

Some things he does really well:

  • Remembers to take the trash out, every single week. I don't even think about it until the trash truck is going by and stops to get our trash. 
  • Takes care of our home. Our yard looks like someone cares about it. He does beautiful work.
  • Knows how to work. 
  • More specifically, knows how to run, ground, and whatever else one does to electrical wiring. 
  • We have yet to encounter a project on this formerly-fixer-upper (formerly because he's pretty much got it fixed up) that he doesn't know how to fix.
  • Prays with me every night. 
  • Keeps in touch with family and friends. One of the things he understands about taking care of his own, personal introvert is that she may not always keep track of the important relationships. It's just not on my radar, sometimes, and he's got it covered. 
We've been going through a sermon series on Ruth at church, lately. That's a great book, isn't it? If you haven't given it much thought, I'd be happy to recommend 2 sermon series on it that you can access online. One is the one that's being done at the church we attend now, preached by Matt Williams. The other was a six part sermon series called "Redeeming Ruth" preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church, Seattle, WA.

If you have studied Ruth, you know all about her struggles and about Boaz, her kinsman redeemer, and how he exemplifies the work of Christ. It really is an amazing story. Well, the truth is, this man is my Boaz. He willingly pours out his strength for me, often without reward, and for others. He redeems. He restores whatever can be restored. He gives out of the grace that he's received. It's my honor and privilege to be his wife. I hope someday to be a good one.

Much love.

*Ezer Kenegdo is the term used in Genesis when God created woman for man. The only other uses in scripture are in describing God Himself. Most versions translate it as helper, helpmeet, etc-- which is kind of weak. Makes me think of the kid who hands out the scissors to the class in first grade, "teacher's helper." The more accurate idea behind the term is that of an essential counterpart, a mighty savior who comes along and delivers help when it's desperately needed by someone who can't make it on his own.It's a warrior term, and the uses of this terminology referring to God tend to be in war-like settings. Gives a different meaning to what a woman is supposed to be, eh?

09 May 2012

My Clean Home: Part 1

Our Guest Room

Welcome to my home. :) This is where you'd stay if you were coming to see me now. Our gorgeous soft, minty, spring green guest bedroom is in order. This is one of the things that makes me want a clean home. I want to be able to offer hospitality to our friends, family, and loved ones. Yay!

While my guest room contains a few furniture cast-offs of the house (for now), I still think it has wound up being a comfortable, pretty room, and it's about twice the size I thought it was. We even made drawer and closet space for guests. A time will come when the old dresser will be replaced with something nicer. A time will come when there is a place for the DVDs to go. A time will come when our guest room will change, one way or another, little bits at a time, but it will be a place where the people we love will find comfort, welcome, and a home away from home. 

In time, as we grow in our marriage, we hope to have more children. Children biologically ours, children we foster, and children we adopt. We want to be a home for the ones who have no home, and we want to welcome our flesh and blood into our home, too. Then, these rooms of ours will change, too, if we're still in this house. This may stay the guest room, or turn into the office, or be some combination of the two. I don't know what the future holds. I know that the present includes a clean, second bedroom. 

Much love,

My Best Friend(s): TheFullTimeWife

What do I say about a girl whose moniker initials, FTW, is often read as "for the win"? Definitely a winner, that one.

Look at that picture. Isn't she GORGEOUS? Love my friend, I do. She's going to have some beautiful children. Seriously cute.
My friend, 
You have taught me loads about life, love, holiness, and happiness. I don't know where to begin or end. Let's hope I don't make a pig's ear of this where all of the internets can see it.. :)

We first met in college. Both of us were daughters of ministers. Her parents--full-time on the mission field. Mine--full-time in a mission organization. We launched out of college (Christian, denominational college, by the way-- the same denomination that actively sponsored our parents' ministries), with our woefully-poor decision making skills straight into our respective rebellious phases. Sigh. A decade-plus later, we have walked strangely parallel roads, fraught with potholes and detours, and find ourselves, each married, at opposite ends of the country, pursuing lives of redemption and holiness.

When the time came for her to get married, I beat myself up badly for not being near her. I had moved to Florida, while she was still in DC. There were so many things I wanted to do for her and with her, and it just wasn't possible at the time. I did get to go to her perfect wedding in the Bahamas, but wished I could have done so much more. Still do.

Fast forward a couple of years, to my wedding. I live in SC, and she lives in CA. Getting married in Missouri is long-distance for both of us. You know what this crazy-amazing friend does? She hauls an extra, super-huge suitcase (checked luggage, y'all) halfway across the country and throws the mother of all bachelorette bashes, with a THEME, needless-to-say, at a restaurant she hasn't been to, without a vehicle to drive around and make arrangements, with what might be the best cupcakes I've ever tasted, while being the best Matron of Honor, ever. Really. I'm NOT hyperbolizing here. Spank me with a spoon! Look, proof!

(Source. Of course, it's from HER blog. She wrote a post with lots 
of pictures about her victorious event-planning prowess! Check it out.)

We've cried together over the years, prayed- for each other, about each other, with each other, shared hard times, broken times, bleeding times, good times, laughing times, crazy times, drunken times (sigh.. again), questioning times, stupid times, joyous times... At one point or another, each of us received a talking-to from our respective parents, "Maybe she's not a good influence. You shouldn't be hanging out with her.." and I know both of my parents are two of her biggest fans, now. They and I have seen her blossom into a woman who strives to follow God with all her heart. She's not a bad influence, now, and (I hope) neither am I. 

Someday, I hope our paths bring us back to the same town, where we can raise our children together, play cards once a month with our husbands as we sip glasses of St. James wine and laugh about the crazy days of our youth, talk in concerned tones about how to raise our children to make better choices, sigh about the new wrinkles around our eyes (well, mine, anyway, not hers--she has that gorgeous Asian skin), and tease our husbands about the varying age differences in our marriages. In the mean time, I reach across the miles to the sister of my heart in prayer, dropped notes, birthday gifts, and text messages. When I remember to make the call, or when she does, we talk, either briefly or for an extended conversation. Mostly I pray for her, though. I know she prays for me. It'll be amazing when we stand on the other side of this life and look back on where we've been from eternity's view. I know we'll be astounded, and I can't wait for that, too. 

Loving my friend, and getting a tad misty, 

08 May 2012

My Best Friend(s): Introduction

Interesting concept. Best Friend. Best. Friend. Hard to say, when you're pinned down. Depends on what you mean. Depends on what answer is what you're really looking for... Who is your best friend? Well, there are a few really good answers. When I contemplate that, I really realize how very blessed I am.

My best girl friend is TheFullTimeWife. (Even if she does persist in posting recipes that tempt me and I can't have while I'm trying to lose weight...) She and I have known each other since college, and boy, could I tell you stories.

My best family friends are my parents, followed closely by my Aunt Polly.  I have in no way done anything to merit the friendships of the people who have seen me at my worst, yet they treat me like an equal, a friend, an intimate, not as a daughter, or worse-- a somehow less-worthy, wet-behind-the-ears youngster. How blessed am I??

My best earthly friend is probably my husband, which a lot of people can't say. I'm honored and humbled to be blessed with a husband who is a man of God.

My best friend? Well, at the risk of giving the Sunday School answer, I want to say Jesus. (Random side note: there was this little boy in my Sunday School class at church when I was in Kindergarten-- whom I won't name because we ended up in college together and there's the off-chance someone would read this, know him, and then tease him about it-- whose answer to EVERY question was "MARY MAGDALENE!" Well, at least for the period of time we were in that Kindergarten Sunday School class... I'm sure it wasn't ALWAYS that.)

Ok, so I know it's goofy to say that. "Jesus is my very best friend!" and a little creepy, maybe, especially to those who don't have a relationship with Him. But the thing is, most of the time, He's the first person I talk to about everything. Most of the time, He's consulted on every decision, from the minor to the major, the life-changing, to the mind-numbing. I talk to Him ALL the time about my husband, who I want to be as a wife, my other friends, my family members, the people whose lives I touch, however briefly in whatever way... I'm learning to follow in His footsteps. I want to be just like Him when I grow up. I want to make decisions that honor Him and please Him. I want to be the one who is always hanging around Him, the one He couldn't get rid of if He wanted to (though we all know He totally could, if He REALLY wanted to)..

That being said, I do want to say a few things about some of the people I love, and this post is going to serve as the introduction to those posts. I've been meaning to get to this since the wedding, but I haven't done it. That's partially due to the fact that my best Friend has been working on me in a lot of ways, teaching me how to be a wife, uninstalling some malware programs that had been acting on my heart, etc..

I got to thinking about (yes, I know that's not grammatically correct) this series of posts again this past weekend. A dear friend of mine came and stayed with us, and my husband's best buddy and his wife came through town, too. The nature of friendship came up in conversation. I'm an introvert. I'm also a gypsy. Well, maybe not per se, but have moved at least every three years for nearly my whole life, occasionally, more often.

Here's the truth. I'm really not good at pursuing friendships. I prefer solitude and studying to parties and socializing. I could be completely happy with watching the sermon online every week and never going near all those people. Not to say that I'm afraid of or dislike people. I really don't mind them. I'd just rather not have to be stuck in a group of them, especially a large group of them. Even if the large group is composed ENTIRELY of people I love. I don't have trouble communicating with them; I'd just rather not, most of the time. It makes me tired to be around people. (Turns out there are some valid, scientific reasons for this. Articles I like about introversion include this one.) I'm more energized when I'm alone, especially if I'm studying or doing something productive. My husband has learned that if he wants to get together with someone we love, he has to initiate it, because somehow it will slip my mind, fall through the cracks, and otherwise not happen, if it's left to me. Even if it's someone who is closer to me. Sad, eh?

That being said, there are relationships I want to honor, because they are important to me. And, because I'm not so good at remembering to say that directly to the persons-of-interest themselves, I've been trying to be better about dropping a note in the mail, sending a text message, etc. This is one of my acts of penance attempts to let them know how much they mean to me. I am not posting these in any particular order. That would be too hard to determine.

Much love,

To Blog, or Not To Blog

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a blogger. Most of the time, most people would say, “Probably not.” I don’t post regularly. I don’t even post semi-regularly. I want to. I think about it often. So often it’s a matter of “is that too personal?” or “I’d have to write a book’s worth of info to get the whole backstory, just to make that point…” and then it doesn’t happen. I even have a reminder that tells me weekly to “Write a blog post.” I figure weekly is much better than I tend to do. Each week, I shuffle the reminder back, and then it’s the next week. Meanwhile, the “ought to” feeling builds up, and I still don’t post. This is me, trying to rectify my own self-produced angst over not writing weekly (at least). Sometimes, when I do post something, then I think of something else, but feel silly if I post more than once per day. Oh, I’ll just wait on that for now. And, it never goes up. Sigh.

So WHY in the world did I start a second blog, if I never post on the first one?? Harrumph. Silliness.

Here’s the deal:
  • I’m going to write stuff, and put it on here. That may mean I post multiple times one day, and then nothing for awhile. I’m GOING to be okay with that. Mmmmkay? 
  • I’m going to attempt to write what’s on my heart and mind, with or without the book-of-a-backstory, and if it doesn’t make sense outside of my own skull, I’m GOING to be okay with that. Alrighty? 
  • Sometimes I’ll post on my “personal” blog, and sometimes I’ll post on my “theme” blog, and these posts may or may not make complete sense with or without the context of the other location, and I’m GOING to be fine with that. With me? 

I’m just going to do it, whether or not anyone reads it, now or ever, because there are some things I need to articulate, for me. Being the introvert that I am, getting the extroverts in my life to sit down and shut up (haha) long enough for me to explain my theses on life is just not an option, and if I don’t have any outlet for the things I’m learning, I’m going to get frustrated. Frustration is not going to make me the person I want to be. So there.  There you have it. Here we go.

Much love,