Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weight loss Wednesday

I did it! I am pretty sure I broke through my weight loss plateau. I didn't drop a ton of weight, but I did drop a lb. meaning I have lost 64.4 lbs. getting closer to 70! Now, if my weight hikes back up, I will be heading to my doctor to make sure there's nothing medical going on that would be holding me back from losing. I don't think there is, because I've still lost inches in my waist, but I just want to be sure.

I have started to incorporate HIIT training into my workouts, and I think it's making a big difference and strengthening my endurance. I will keep that up and keep trying to shock my body. I am also doing some zig zagging with my calorie intake to try to get my metabolism going. 

Some other successes besides the plateau break? 

-I did the color run on Saturday in 45 minutes. Last year it took me an hour. That's a whole 15 minutes shaved off my time! I ran a bit more this year. 

-lost about an inch and a half off my waist in the last month.

-can keep up in all my classes, even boot camp.

-lifting heavier weights

Some of my challenges include the SLOW weight loss, and the fact that I have some excess skin on my tummy area now. It is frustrating because it makes my stomach look bigger than it is, and it's tough to conceal it. I have heard again and again that because I'm young my skin should go back to normal, and I sure hope so. I will keep working at tightening my core, but I also know I can't spot reduce.

Emotionally, the plateau took a toll on me. I began to wonder if I can actually do this. I know that I can, and I can't give up. I just need to talk to the right people to get the help I need. I have those people, just need to reach out and have the conversations. 

I am not feeling to well today, so I apologize this post is boring. Just wanted to share the good news. I will keep marching on to reach my goal weight. I promise.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fault In Our Stars.

Warning: This post contains spoilers. If you are planning on reading or watching Fault In Our Stars, don't read this!.

To the teens who have watched or read Fault In Our Stars,

I hope it meant something to you. I hope it made you feel something. I hope it made you angry, sad, confused. I hope you walked out of that theater with a new perspective. I hope you realize how precious life can be.

This book/film, while terribly sad, is important. Not only does it show you the realities of childhood cancer, but it shows you that life, at any point, can take a turn. That we are lucky to be on this earth, right now, and that we need to live it to the fullest while we can. That we should not waste our time on silly drama, but that we should embrace those around us and love them with all of our might. Because we CAN.

Although I read the book a few years back and knew what to expect, I was still sobbing in the theater on Saturday night. I can't help it. It's just not natural to watch something like that happen. We avoid illness and death and all that other scary stuff because we assume it's not going to happen to us. But it could- it could happen to anyone. It's happening to my dad right now. And while he is fighting and is healthy, it still scares me to my core. The fear that was displayed in that movie is very real. It is something way too many people are dealing with, right now. And we don't even think about it, because we are too worried about other little things.

It's time to start thinking about it, and to start doing something about it. If Fault In Our Stars made you feel something, if you shed a tear or felt some emotion, there are ways you can help comfort those who are dealing with cancer, just like Hazel and Gus. You could become a volunteer and visit people, try to cheer them up. You could donate your books, your old toys, to the children's wing at hospitals so that they have something to do. You can donate $ to your local hospital or to various cancer organizations (I suggest American Cancer Society, because I happen to know the amazing things that they do). You could run a 5k and dedicate it to someone who CAN'T run because they are too sick. Those are just a few ways you can lend a hand and your heart to show cancer that we are paying attention, and we aren't going to back down.

Fault In Our Stars is a love story, but it's so much more than that. Please know that. Please live each moment mindfully. Realize that your words and actions mean something.

I empathize with you as you wrap your head around this story. And if you've ever lost someone, I know it hurt to relive that grief through the movie. But know- this is your only chance you've got to be truly alive and to make a mark. Ready. Set. Go.

Love, Megan.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Kissing Aunts

Today I am answering this prompt:

Yesterday was Father’s Day in many countries. If you could dedicate a holiday to a more distant relative, who would it be — and why?

Perhaps they are not "distant" relatives, but I would like to dedicate a day to celebrating aunts. Specifically, my three "kissing aunts".

My Aunt Mary Ann, Ellen, and Margaret are three of my favorite people in the entire world. Technically, I don't think they are really my aunts...not by blood, anyways. Mary Ann was married to my Uncle Jim, my dad's brother. Ellen and Margaret are her sisters. So what does that make them to me? I am not sure. But I adore them. Everyone does.

Mary Ann is obviously the one that I know the best. She is the kindest, most gentle woman you will ever meet. She is soft spoken, but strong. She is open about her faith. She offers words of advice and comfort to everyone she meets. Mary Ann is one of the most special people. She will pray for you, nourish your soul, and take care of you. She's seen a lot of grief in her life, but remains strong. She is intent in her conversations and makes a point of letting you know how much she cares about you. She is the kind of aunt who will send you a card on every birthday, or just to let you know she's thinking of you.

Margaret is bold, brave, and courageous. She stands up for herself and what she believes in. She is not afraid to stand out. She is fun, sassy, and friendly. Along with her booming personality, she has a huge heart. She has served as a foster parent and mentor for at risk kids. Margaret is one of those people that you don't want to mess with, yet you listen when she speaks and soak up every word. You also admire her, she's a strong woman.

Ellen is a little bit of both. She is one of the funniest people I have ever encountered, and also the friendliest and most outgoing. But she can also be very gentle and soft spoke. She knows just what to say to make someone laugh or to cheer them up. Like her sisters, she is strong in her beliefs. When I was a little girl, I loved spending time with Ellen. I had a few sleepovers at her house and just enjoyed each moment I had with her. We live nearby each other now, and are long overdue for another sleepover.

Together, these three women make up "the Kissing Aunts"- a nickname my brother gave to them when he was about 10 or 11. The aunts would always attack him with kisses and love on him to embarrass him. But he loved it ;-). It is a running joke in our family, and every time we are reunited with them, we all sit back and laugh as my brother gets attacked by their hugs and kisses. It's rare that we see all three of them together anymore, but when we do it is full of laughs.

These three certainly deserve a day dedicated to them, and all the gratitude that would come with it. I know I am not the only family member who feels this way. I admire each of them for their gifts, and for the lessons they have taught me. They mean more to me than they probably realize. I hope that one day I can take bits of each of them and become the best version of me.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Anna Clendening

I don't usually watch America's Got Talent, but a few days ago I knew that Anna Clendening, one of my favorite people on Vine, was going to be on, so I searched the interest for her audition clip. I found it, and I am oh so glad that I did.

Please take the 8 minutes to watch this audition:

If you didn't watch, let me recap for you:

Anna has suffered from anxiety/depression for several years, resulting in her becoming bedridden and unable to leave her own home. Anna's story is important. It is unique. Not many people with that terrible of an anxiety disorder can go on to audition for a talent competition, much less one that is filmed in front of hundreds of people and shown to millions on TV. For her to do that, took every ounce of strength and bravery she had in that little body. You could literally see the relief in her face when she finished her song. She knew that she had just taken a huge step.

I got a little teary during Anna's audition, but I totally lost it when they asked her how she got the courage to come to the show, and she said "my parents". I want to hug her parents so tightly for that. For encouraging their daughter, for loving her through her darkest times and for pushing her out of that tunnel and helping her to the other side. They didn't ignore it, they didn't assume she was an emotional teenager, they listened, they cared, and they encouraged. My parents have done the same for me, and I credit them for most of the confidence and courage I have mustered over the years.

A lot of people are questioning Anna's story, which just makes me sad. Some are saying there's no way she suffered like that, because she is so "Vine famous", and how can she make Vines if she is so anxious? Perhaps, my friends, Vine was her outlet. Perhaps that is how she began to heal. And even if she is "Vine Famous", that does not mean she is not human. That does not mean she is not allowed to have suffering. I think sometimes people doubt that things like anxiety and depression really exist. I feel sorry for those people. They must have very closed minds and hearts. Anxiety and depression are all too real. They vary from person to person, and each who suffer from them deals differently- but they exist. Let me just put it very straight forward for you: when you are that full of fear, you begin to hate yourself, and the world you live in. Facing it becomes the most difficult task you could possibly imagine. It's not as simple as "getting over it". It takes months, years, of therapy, of self love, of finding your outlet, to be able to begin to heal. Anna is healing. We should be applauding her, not doubting her.

Anna, thank you, for helping people like me know that we are not alone, and that we can beat this.

Anna, I have never met you, and likely never will. But I feel more connected with you than I could ever express. Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for sharing your story. I can promise you that you touched many hearts with that audition, and that you will only continue to do so by spreading your music and your message. Keep showing that brave, girl, it looks really good on you.

Here is Anna covering a song that has meant a lot to me with my personal struggle of anxiety:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday---early :)

I know this is a day early, and I know I just posted about weight loss on Sunday, but this day have been a bit eventful in the weight loss world and I wanted to share some things with you all.

So, this morning I got on the scale expecting to be at 65 lbs lost. I know, I know. Stop getting on the scale. But I was really hoping to see that  number.

What I saw instead was a "gain", putting me back where I was a few weeks ago. Now, I had a bad Saturday with food, but one Saturday should not back that much of a difference. I was frustrated- I seem to be stuck in the same 4-5 lbs and keep losing it, then gaining it back, then losing it. I had a moment of panic thinking that I will be stuck at this weight forever and won't reach  my goal.

But instead of giving up, I put an "ask" out there to my friends, to myfitnesspal, and headed to the gym to do a weight workout and to talk to my trainer.

I heard a couple different things, but something I heard from several different people is that I'm not actually eating enough calories. My daily allowance is pretty high, due to my weight and height, but I never eat my allowance. I am usually 400-500 calories UNDER my allowance, actually. Even more so if I have an intense workout, which is 3-4 days a week. So, what people told me is that my body is going into a bit of starvation mode. It doesn't want to work because I'm not giving it fuel.

It's dangerous to tell a girl like me that I can eat more. My mind says "sweet! I can eat more! Let's get some fries!"

But I know that's not what people mean. Instead, I have to eat more, but eat healthy foods in between my meals. This is still a scary concept for me. I guess because our whole lives are spent talking about cutting calories, and now I have to figure out how to balance those calories and actually eat what I am supposed to eat. Today was my first day at this, and here is my food diary.

Breakfast: Egg whites (6 tbs), spinach (1cup), whole wheat sandwich thin, 2 tbsp of peanut butter.
Snack: Whole grain blueberry muffin
Lunch: whole wheat sandwich thin, turkey, pepperjack cheese, 1/2 cup spinach, 1 bag of skinnypop popcorn
Snack 2: 1 oz honey roasted peanuts
Dinner: Panera Thai Chopped Chicken Salad

I am much closer to my calorie allowance than usual. I am silently worrying that eating more than I am used to today is going to cause me to gain 10 lbs, but I know that's not true and that this is yet another adjustment I have to make. I did go over my sodium intake today, but I am hoping I can flush that out with water.

I am also praying that I can keep focused, and that my mind does not slip back into food addiction. Like, I don't want to start thinking "it's okay, i need more calories, I can eat this....". Because I have to make sure I am eating the RIGHT foods! A lot of people suggested protein shakes/bars. I have never tried them before, but I think I will!

So what do I do now? I follow everyone's advice and sneak protein in where I can for my snacks. I keep up my water intake. I increase the weights I am using when lifting. I go to bed at a decent hour, and get my workouts done in the morning like I used to do (with the exception of kickboxing on Monday's!) I keep going. I don't stop. I do not quit. 

I solemnly swear I will not step on the scale until July 1st. This will be very, very hard for me but I also need to quit stressing on the #'s and quit making it run my journey for me. 

As always, thanks for listening and reading and supporting me! I did want to share a piece of advice I got from one of my Myfitnesspal Buddies, and it certainly made me relax a bit:

When I lost my weight I had roughly 4 plateaus where my weight would just fluctuate back and forth back and forth back and forth.... it was so frustrating!! When this happened I just stuck to my "basics" (which for me boiled down to drink my water and make sure to hit my protein goals) and tried not to stress over it. What would happen for me is when my stall broke I would drop a larger number suddenly one day and then go back to my more normal pound a week sorta thing. 

Stalls are totally normal and a very real part of the weight loss process. I compared it to my body having a temper tantrum... "no, I don't want to burn anymore so hahaha" kinda thing. Your body is going through a lot of changes and at first it responds but then it just sorta... stops... for awhile before it starts losing again. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8th

Let's go back in time. Let's go back to June 8th, 2013. Yep, exactly one year ago today.

Earlier in the day I was speaking on a 
panel for Mercy Volunteer Corps. In the middle of the session, I started feeling really dizzy. By the time I left, I could barely see straight. I assumed it was anxiety. I drove home in tears, and when I got home I laid on the floor in my bedroom, feeling the room spin. My heart was beating way too fast and I was seeing flashes of light out of my eye. I went on like this for hours. Sam and Lauren went to a concert, I declined because I couldn't walk in a straight line and my breathing was heavy. I called my mom and dad, terrified. I thought that I was dying.

My dad came to pick me up and I trudged into their house, feeling dizzy and off. We sat down and had a very serious discussion about my health. We talked about whether this was linked to my weight. At that time, I was at my heaviest weight. And I wasn't really trying. I would eat healthy in front of my family and friends, but sneak food whenever I could. My parents encouraged me to talk to a doctor.

This wasn't the first time we had that conversation. But that time was different. I knew, darn well, that I had to do something, or that my health was going to fail. 

And so, that is the day I began. I was terrified of failing. I was worried I would fall back into the same routines and that I would never be able to beat the food addiction or lose weight.

I have not binged since that day last year. That is a statement I am proud to make. I have not snuck food, I have not eaten an entire pizza by myself, I've barely even visited a fast food place. And when I do? I order the healthiest thing that I can.

As you all know, I also began working out. I started at Sola, waking up at 5 am to do swimming or the bike. I couldn't do much else. But over time, I grew stronger and faster. I became less afraid. I tried new things. I beat goals. I became the best version of me.

I am down 63 lbs now. Which means I am 1/2 way to my goal. It could take another year to get there, and I know this. I am okay with this. Every step that gets me closer to being the healthiest I can be is a step that I want to take.

Today I want to reconfirm my commitment to my health journey. Today I begin chapter 2. I want to thank each of you for standing on the sidelines and cheering me on. I hope that you will be there with me for the next leg of the run, or that you will be waiting for me at the finish line. But I understand if you're tired. Know that I appreciate your support, more than I can ever say.

You all have goals, I am sure. You all have something that you want to beat. I want to tell you that you can reach these goals, and you can leave your demons behind. It takes work, dedication, and commitment, but you can do this. And you have me cheering you on.

As I end this chapter and begin the next, I want to share the song that's been on my mind all day, as I reflected on my fight over the last year. I fight that I am winning. Please take a moment to listen.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dear Ryan

Dear Ryan,
I'm sorry that I am a few days late on your letter this month. But guess what? I have gotten to see you a lot this month, and even spent last night with you while your mom and dad went out with their friends. 

Let's see. After Florida we all were in such a state of bliss and happiness that it was tough to get back to work and school. I bet your little brain had a tough time getting adjusted to day care again, and I am sure you missed the beach! I sure missed getting to see you every single day. 

In May, we celebrated Mother's Day with a brunch. We also started playing softball. So far you have come to two games. Last year, you just sat in someone's arms while we played. This year, you run around like a wild man and play with your friend Will. You also cheer for mom and dad while they play. Sometimes you have to make sure your mom and dad are still paying attention to you, so you run over to one of them and hug their legs. Don't worry, Ryan, no one could ever forget you. We're always watching out for you and protecting you! 

We had a picnic at Papa and Granmda Carolin's house for Memorial Day. You and I spent some time in the basement playing with your play kitchen. You are so smart. You even know how to wash dishes. You constantly amaze me with the knowledge and wisdom that you pick up from watching other people. At our dinner, you kept trying to play with Seamus like you do with Clancy. Seamus has older bones, though, and it hurts him a little more. You will understand that soon. 

Last night I had the best time playing with you! I was so scared that you were going to cry when your mom and dad left. But you didn't! We ate dinner together: macaroni and cheese for you and a turkey sandwich for me. You also polished off two cups of fruit! After dinner we went for a walk. You kept pointing at cars and asking me "what's that?". You are such a curious little boy! When we got home from our walk you spent the rest of your time playing with Clancy, chatting with Grandma and Grandpa on the phone, and watching "ball" on tv. Then we headed upstairs for night night, where you picked out a book to read (one that Tom had given you!), plopped on my lap, and gave me a hug and kiss. 

You are still calling me baba. I love when you do that, and I hope it sticks. Sometimes you call me papa on accident. You also call grandma papa. We are trying to get you to call her mimi, but so far, no luck. I know one of these days something will stick!

I also wanted to tell you that your cousin Brendan graduated from 8th grade! He also won an award at school for being a kind, compassionate, leader. We are all so proud of him. He is a wonderful role model for you. He plays "ball" AND he's a good person! 

Ryan, someone mentioned to me this week that I am lucky to have such a close family. It's true! We are lucky! All of us love each other and enjoy each other. I hope that you always feel the love, because there is a lot to go around. And we all just adore you. 

I love you, Ryan. Thank you for always putting a smile on my face, and thank you for the love you give to us.