Hello Blog!

Oh how I’ve missed you! I haven’t written a new blog post in, well, for-ev-er! Life has a way of throwing curve balls just when you think the track couldn’t get any curvier. That’s when you strap in, hold on and find out what you’re really made of.

You also find out who is there and who isn’t when the dust has cleared somewhat. And that’s always surprising isn’t it?

I’m back from vacation. It was wonderful to be away for two weeks and enjoy the sunshine, palm trees and beachy air. We found places in Florida we love and it has confirmed our decision to move. The Florida life is what this girl needs. I think I can handle one more winter here, knowing it will be my last.

Our favorite 2 places were Punta Gorda and Venice. Punta Gorda is a completely different lifestyle as every house has a canal in the back with a boatdock. The canals lead to straight to the Gulf of Mexico. I mean, how amazing is that? Venice has two of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen and the town itself is small and has little shops lining the streets. It reminds me of Uptown Westerville and has a small town feel to it. I could picture being in either location and loving it.

The downside, I ate WAY too much on my two week hiatus and was shocked at the scale when I got back on the first morning. Nothing jump starts motivation than a backward step. I’ve been watching the calories and back to my work out routine (which in all honesty, did not suffer while I was gone. I did yoga, went on bike rides, long walks, but oh dear Lord did the diet go on the back back back burner!) and I’m happy to say I’m only 3 lbs away from where I was before vacation. I know I’ll get there and won’t make that mistake again!

I have my class reunion this weekend too and plugged into my calorie calculator how to lose 20 lbs by this Friday. It kept saying “error” so I yelled at it and put it away. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life!

Oh, and speaking of getting back into the groove of things, I went to my yoga class Saturday and for the first time ever, I “flipped my dog”. After all this time in yoga, I’ve been terrified to even try it. But I did on Saturday, figuring, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I fall? Ok. I fall. Who ever learns something from not falling and failing? But I didn’t fall! I’m sure it wasn’t the prettiest thing and I’m fairly certain I wasn’t doing it completely right, but I flipped and did it. That hand was reaching for the sky baby!

Some day I’ll blog about my hiatus and reach out to others about it, but for now, I’m back! The good, the bad and the ugly surround us all every day. It’s our reaction, and our perception and our ability to move forward in situations that brings us to our knees that defines who we are. And most of the time, when we’re on our knees, we’re there for a good reason. Stay there. Pray about it. Meditate about it. And you’ll be amazed at how you can once again get up and move on with new perspective.

Namaste.

Venice beach

What are you doing?

Lately I have been hearing rapid fire questions, sometimes with such voracity it takes me by surprise. Things like, “What are you doing?” “How did you do that?” or my personal favorite, “What’s your secret?”

Things like that freak me out. Freak. Me. Out. First of all, I’m the fat girl who is not used to being questioned about fitness. Second, I wonder how many people pay even a fraction of attention to what I put out there, almost daily, about what I do. I’m the exact opposite of being shy. I blog, I tweet, I Facebook daily. Multiple times a day.

Now, before I continue, I want to be clear that I am not angry, mad, upset, or heaven forbid, insulted. Just freaked out and shocked. I still don’t see me as others see me. I still see the flaws and lumps and the additional pounds I want gone. I know, I know, I need to work on that. Add it to the list of things to work on.

It finally dawned on me a few weeks ago that what some people were asking without asking is if I was on some NutriSystem or Weight Watchers type program. It hadn’t even occurred to me that people were inquiring about that. Michael mentioned it might be a possibility after he witnessed such an occurrence and saw me stammering and stuttering like crazy. Lightbulb moment. OH! They’re wondering if I joined Weight Watchers! Maybe I could join Marie Osmond and become a spokeswoman for NutriSystem. (I’ll only do it if I get to meet Donny!)

The short answer is no. I’m not doing any of that. No meal plan is delivered to my door. No pre-measured amount of food is planned out for my day. I eat. I drink. I Starbuck. Mmmmmm it IS peppermint mocha season, isn’t it?? I live with a chef! How could I do that even if I wanted to?

I made a commitment to myself last year to get in shape. I honor that commitment every single day. I added yoga to my very non-existent workout routine. It was hard. I was awkward. I couldn’t do half of the poses. I could barely touch my toes. On a GOOD day! I sweated. I cried. But most of all, I kept coming back. And guess what happened? My body started to respond. It started to change. And when those changes started happening, it motivated and change my eating. All by itself. Why was I working so hard and finally seeing results, and then eating a big plate of nachos? With extra cheese and sour cream? I started making better decisions.

Not everything I eat is healthy or good for me. (remember….chef.) But more is than not. I still had a piece of leftover Halloween candy. It was calling my name. So it was a mercy act. I had to put it out of its misery.

I also added a barre class to my twice weekly yoga class. It’s so funny how a year can change perspective on what is difficult. Barre is HARD! Barre is challenging. Barre is non-stop moving the entire time. I sweat like crazy. I breathe…..LOUDLY. I have a tendency to look down at what my feet are doing, but with playful reminding from my dear friend Julie, I *try* to look up more. My form is crap. But I’m doing it. My back might not be perfectly straight, but it’s straighter than last week. And one of my favorite parts of barre is that my yogi is also my barre instructor. I love her. Between her and Julie, they encourage, they cheer me on, and they never ever ever let me feel like I am less. How can I go wrong?

A friend of mine, Trisha, is doing Crossfit and is seeing the same amazing results. She is dropping weight, getting healthier and looks stunning. Not that she didn’t look amazing before, but she has that glow that naturally comes with get in shape. I admire her dedication and commitment for setting a goal and sticking with it. And she would say the same thing I am. There is no secret. It’s working hard. Every day. No cheat day. No “I’m going to splurge on milkshakes and french fries” day.

And while I’m still waiting to hit that magic number of 70, the over 65 lbs I’ve lost isn’t too shabby. I had to return a yoga top today that was too large. Actually, it was a size large. And it was too big. Say WHAT? Me who used to have to have to shop in the women’s department? This is the part that freaks me out just as much as the questions. I still have to stop myself and steer towards misses. I hold clothes up, eyeing them and think, no, this isn’t going to fit. Until I try it on and find that it does. How exceptional!

It may not be time to shop for a bikini quite yet, I have time before next summer to get me there. I know I can do it. Even if I don’t have the guts to actually wear a bikini on the beach, the fact that I could is what is my goal. I started off November revising and clarifying my goals for the month, knowing it was going to be challenging with holidays, and baking, and cold weather, and getting dark at 5:30. That small act of examining where I am and where I would like to be was huge for me. It helps ward off bad thinking and voices in my head telling I can have that one thing. On the other hand, I can still have my peppermint mocha from Starbucks. But a Tall instead of Venti. And sugar-free instead regular syrup. Oh, and hold the whip cream, but I’ll take the sprinkles.

yoga on the beach

First Snow Falls and Goodbyes

The predictions appear to be true. The world is coming to an end!! Accckkkkk!! Ok, not really, but the usually inaccurate weather forecasters said we would get our first snow of the year were actually true this time! I woke up to a text alert, telling me school was cancelled today. Good thing, because school was already scheduled to be closed because the kids are on Christmas break until January 6th! Not sure what that little glitch was, but thanks for the early morning wake up text. I really appreciate it. No really. 

I made a cup of a new Donut Shop coffee in the now beloved Keurig (seriously, how have we lived without this thing for so long? I want to hug it and I keep it clean, and I’m constantly making sure it has enough water for that spontaneous cup of coffee. Or tea. Or hot cocoa. Oh myyyy!!) and it has not stopped snowing, not slowing down. I really wish we had a snow blower. I have friends who have one, unfortunately, it’s not logistically possible to load it and come across a busy road to my neighborhood, just to use the snowblower. Unless they delivered it to me after they used it, then I used it and brought it back to them. Hmmmmmm…

But in the meantime, it’s blowing and swirling and snowing and we keep being told how cold it is going to get. Dangerously cold. Which also makes me think about homeless people and how I complain about being cold and it’s nothing compared to them. A few friends have discussed gathering coats, hats, scarves, gloves, sweatshirts even, to donate to a few shelters. We have a new offshoot of our church called The Bridge, which helps homeless and near homeless people get back on their feet. I’ve been knitting scarves and gathering coats. If you have something to donate, please let me know. Think about it. Pray on it.

But today is also a day of goodbye. My parents are heading to Jekyll for the next several months, so tonight we’re going out to our annual dinner which has in the past turned quite crazy! We’ve become a little more subdued over the years, but we always have that potential to get out of hand! It’s always fun, lots of laughter, but it’s bittersweet. No matter how old I am, it’s comforting to know they are less than 5 minutes away from me. But here’s the flip side…..I question their sanity for staying here at all! I would be down there year round. Sell the house here, move to the beach. Yep. I mean, there are palm trees in our yard there!! Palm trees!!! No snow. No negative wind chill factor!! Beach! Sunshine! Biking trials! But they haven’t made that decision yet. Only they know when it’s right to move there permanently. 

But as I watch the snow swirling around off my roof, I can’t imagine, given the choice, that I would stay here. Planning our move to Tampa/St. Pete gets me through days like this. A house with a pool. Minutes from a beach. Sunshine. And at least one palm tree. 

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Scars and Triumph

I had someone suggest to me to that I write about my scars and enlighten those who may not know how I got them and shed some light. Well, I can certainly do that and can also answer questions anyone may have. I will say I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered that this person thought I could contribute anything meaningful on the subject or once again embarrassed by the appearance of my scars. I will outwardly chose the former, although inside I know it’s the latter.

Cancer. The big C. One of the most dreaded words in the English language. It’s scary because it’s usually a death sentence. By the time it’s caught, it’s usually too late. I think everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed with some form. It affects all ages, races, rich, poor, men, women, everyone. It definitely does not discriminate. “Oh, you live in this big house and carry that gorgeous Prada bag….we’ll just skip you on this whole cancer thing!” Yep, doesn’t matter.

I have Melanoma. Multiple melanomas. My first diagnosis came when I was 27. I was just married to my second husband (also known well as Michael! I should start calling him my current husband so no one is confused.) my oldest son was only 5 and I received the call. Now, it is not like they show it on TV. I wasn’t called to come in and sit down in my doctor’s office and her saying, “Chrissy, I have your test results back. I don’t know how to tell you this, but you have cancer…..” (Cue the sad music) It was actually much more factual than that. They told me over the phone that my biopsy was positive for melanoma and I would need to come in and have another surgery to remove more tissue and have clean margins. Clean margins. That phrase has been repeated to me so many times I can’t count at this point. The area was in the middle of back, right between my shoulder blades. I now have a roughly 3 inch scar that was my first. She also had to go in extremely close to my spine, but thankfully, it had not spread that far.

I cried and I cried. I cried because I was scared, I cried because it hurt, I cried over the little things like how was I going to wear a backless slinky dress ever again because, ya know, I was soooo known for wearing backless slinky dresses!!! I cried because my Grandma died from melanoma and now here I was at 27 being diagnosed with the same thing! I’m only 27!! How can this be???

As I said, I have many, many scars, quite a few additional ones on my back, a few on my left arm, and the ones I’m most self-conscience about….2 huge ones on my left leg. One on my shin going vertical, one going horizontal across my thigh just above my knee. Wearing shorts and a tank top for me is quite a spectacle and it took me awhile to be brave enough to actually leave the house! The surgeries on my leg were pretty rough. The each required more than one surgery to get those clear margins and the cuts were long and equally deep. Some muscle was taken from my thigh along with the surgery. My doctor keeps saying the scars will fade over time. Ummm hmmmmm. Still waiting.

The recovery from each one was boring and horrible. I wasn’t supposed to move unless I was going to the bathroom or after a week, I was allowed to shower. Shower, back to bed. It exhausted me anyway, so I was glad to lay back down. It does NOT help my physique however! And it seemed like every time I would be cleared to resume normal activities, another one would pop up! For quite a few years, I was having a surgery every 6-9 months. That’s a lot of scars!!!

Now here’s the question (or I should say statement, because everyone seems to like to it point out) that I get all the time… “How can someone who has been diagnosed with cancer keep going in the sun and hanging out at the beach and and and…….” Well, let me address this one with “Because I can!!!” My doctor (who by the way and for the record, is one of the best skin cancer doctors around and I have gone to her since before my first diagnosis and I trust her with my life!) knows that I go to the beach. She knows I go out on my boat. She knows that I go to the pool. She knows I have been to tanning beds. She knows all of it. My type of melanoma is due to 2 factors; heredity and early long-term exposure. Neither one can I do anything about now. I can sit inside, or slather on SPF 100, or wear long sleeves and a huge sombrero (well, I couldn’t, but you? You could totally pull that off!) but that isn’t ME! The beach is ME! Sunshine and warm breezes and cool drinks with little umbrellas and cabana boys coming over to mist me so I don’t get too warm…. that is ME!!

I have done all of the above mention taboo activities even after my initial diagnosis. I am now……over 27! My doctor rocks! Do I want to hear on the other end of the phone “It’s melanoma again, let’s schedule something for this week.”?? Hell no. But I’m also not going to let it keep me from living my life. I can claim triumph over my life, and live with the scars.

Beach time yet?

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So I woke up this morning thinking about the beach. This isn’t unusual, I think about the beach as often as most men think about sex. But today, I was thinking about how our trip down to our personal paradise wasn’t that far away. Well, it feels like it now when there is still talk of snow in our local forecast, but it isn’t so far away that plans aren’t being made and prepared for now.

We usually vacation over the 4th of July. I love to go to the beach and watch the fireworks over the ocean. It’s also a way to get another day of vacation time without taking a vacation day for my husband. The no-see-ums of August aren’t out yet, and the weather is hot! Perfect for getting up and exercising early in order to get some relaxing beach time in when it’s too sweltering to move in the mid afternoon hours.

But before I’m ready to head back down to my chair at the edge of the ocean, I need to lose what I gained over the winter. Doing yoga has made me a tad bit stronger, I feel it in my arms. I’m a bit more flexible than the 2×4 I was when I started. I’m more like a 2×2 now. But I need to start running again. I loved running last summer. Even when it was hot. Even when we had to get up so early to go just as the sun was coming up. I loved setting a new personal best on my time. I loved when other people could start to notice the changes. I loved the clothes. I loved the running community embracing a 40 something newbie and the encouragement I needed to keep going.

I’m hoping that combining my yoga with running, I’ll be beach ready soon. Maybe a new bathing suit will be in order, or at least a new pair of flip flops.