Noom-ing is a real thing

Several months ago, well, maybe more than that, (time flies when your trying to lose weight and don’t), I wrote about trying out Keto. Well, Keto did work for a while until we went on vacation. Even though I tried to stick to it, I ended up going off it once we got home. I don’t know why, I just did. After speaking to my hairdresser, who had lost about 20-30 lbs, I asked her what she was doing. She gave me the name of her nutritionist, who I contacted.

She told me she worked in Keto, Macros, and Mindful Eating. Sounded good to me so I hired her. She then gave me an eating plan with my total amount of macros I was allowed in a day. The calorie portion of 1500. From past experience with my body, I knew it was too much food for me. I have never lost weight in the past by eating over 1200 calories. I know that about my body. However, she is the expert so I gave it a try. I gained 12 lbs. I was devastated, of course, as I had never weighed that much in my life.

We went over what I had been doing and even though I wasn’t following it to a T, there was no reason for me to gain 12 lbs in a month, none! She told me my body had been in starvation mode for so long which was why I was gaining weight and eventually it would reverse itself. I was discouraged, depressed, wanting to throw in the towel. But really, that’s just not me. I am determined I am going to beat this.

Another friend of mine told me about a program she was doing: Noom. Huh? What the heck is a Noom? She told me she lost 22 lbs in 4 months and she is like me, it’s hard for her to lose weight. So I did some research on it. They had a free 14 day trial and if you liked what you were doing, you could sign up for a 6 month membership for $149. Okay, I’ll bite. I put a reminder on my phone and it said, “If this doesn’t work, do not buy it, cancel it today!”

They gave me a coach and access to their food logging system and exercise log, thousands of recipes, and some psychological encouragement. They also put me on a 1200 calorie per day “diet”. It’s not really a diet, they break food down into 3 groups, Red, yellow, and green. Red you eat limited amounts of, yellow is good but not as good as green. You can eat anything you want as long as you stay within your calorie range. You have to weigh every day and log it into the system. They want you to develop healthy habits.

So the first 14 days, the scale went up a couple more lbs, even though I was logging everything I ate. And like I said earlier, I am determined to win this, I am in control, not my body! So, I continued with the program. I mean I’ve already thrown a ton of money into my weight loss these last 15 years, whats another $149? But on the third week, I saw the scale go down. In fact after the 4th week, I had lost a total of 6 lbs! Big thing for me!

Here is what I have noticed from the help of the nutritionist and NOOM. I am very MINDFUL of what I am eating. I am making better choices and in my head I’m not saying, “oh, one of these won’t hurt” cause yes, it will. Ask me how I know this….Saturday we had company for the first time since starting this and I had two old fashion high balls, it made a big difference in the scale of 2 lbs. Those 2 lbs took days to lose and now I am almost back to my Saturday weight. I am putting too much work into this to blow it on a silly alcoholic drink. So, I learned my lesson. A lesson I would not have learned if I hadn’t been weighing myself every day.

I measure everything! I don’t trust myself just yet to “guesstimate.” I am also eating the same foods, some may think this is boring but I don’t think it is, in fact, I do change it up a bit but make sure macros, the fats, proteins, and carbs are equal or similar. I do no carbs at night with dinner, another change I made where I am seeing a difference. I am eating fish, cod, mahi mahi, salmon, shrimp, chicken and a veggie or salad for dinner. Breakfast I have a low carb tortilla with 2 scrambled eggs and 2 pieces of bacon and for lunch I have a Prophorma 1 chocolate protein shake with either 1 T of peanut butter or 1/2 avo. My snacks are 1 cup sugar snap peas, or 2 T peanut butter with 3-4 celery sticks, or 20 almonds. Dessert at night is 20-40 frozen green or red grapes, or a JOJO bar. This is working for me.

Having found my sweet spot with my food intake has caused me to start seeing results. I had to limit my workouts because I hurt my knee but today my doctor told me I could ride my bike, or do squats without weights. No dancing to Zumba or doing any Shaun T workouts. They cause me to twist my knee and then it’s hard for me to walk. My goal was to lose 55 lbs, but my doctor told me to make it 25 lbs, baby steps.

So here I go again on my own….wait, that’s a song! But it’s true. NOOM says I will be at my goal weight by August. I hope it’s right. I’ll be happy with “almost” at my goal weight, anything is better than where I am today. My doctor told me I could be a nutritionist! She’s right. I know so much about food at this point, I know I could coach someone else. However, we are all different. What works for one person may not work for another. I found that out this past year. As always, I will keep you updated to my progress and maybe, no promises, I will post pictures!

Until next time!

The Gall of some people! Have you no shame???

More drama in the family. This is really getting old. Just when we think things have finally settled down, something new pops up!

We found out today, our son’s one sister called him up to borrow $5,000 out of his inheritance money. The same money all of them have been fighting us on about using for his special needs. They fought us when we wanted it to go into a “special needs” account. They refused because first of all they would have to keep track of it and report it to the Feds, secondly, they didn’t want it all to go to his special needs. Why? Well, we found out today. It’s so they can have access to his money whenever they wanted it.

She called him up this morning at his group home and asked if she could borrow $5,000 to move. She’s been living in a condo which was purchased by her now deceased grandmother. She stopped paying her $800 portion of rent back in October because after having a contractor in to fix some leaks in the bathroom, they found asbestos in the walls. Their heater then went out, to which her aunt gave her a space heater until they could get that fixed. Their washing machine went out as well but that is not the responsibility of the landlord to fix. So, she just decided to stop paying rent.

This past month, her aunt sent her a notice to move out so they could fix the problems in the condo and of course, she doesn’t have the money to move. Because rather than save the $800 a month she wasn’t paying, she pissed it away like she did her portion of her inheritance. Now, she asks her brother, who is 18 but naive to facts on money, due to his autism, if she can have $5,000 of his money! We call bullshit as did the Director of his group home. She saw immediately how deceptive and how she coerced him into saying yes. The aunt who is in charge of his money, or trustee if you like, told her she would need a phone call from our son to get his approval. Unbeknownst to him, he just said yes. I’m thinking this may be illegal.

After hearing about this, the Director called APS and the police so we can protect his money as well as himself from predators like his sister. My husband placed a call to his ex sister in law and told her we were calling APS on his behalf, of course we had to leave her a message because she wouldn’t pick up her cell phone or her house phone. See how these people roll? His daughter also refused to pick up her phone because she knows she is in the wrong! She skirts on other people’s money and has her entire life. She squandered away her $80,000 inheritance and has nothing to show for it. We paid half her rent when she first moved out to CO for 6 months because she thought she was going to move in with us. She had asked her sister several years ago to borrow $5,000, which she was given, but she was able to pay it back because she had another inheritance she was getting. However, the money has run out and now we want to know how she is going to pay her brother back. She isn’t. And there will be nothing he can do about it.

This is just wrong in so many ways. Like I had published before, these are family members who didn’t care about their brother until he was sent away. They never attended any therapy sessions, nor did they ever call to take him out somewhere fun. Never. In four years! But now that he’s 18 , they feel they can take advantage of him. And we saw through this. From the very beginning when our son gave his permission for them to be involved in his progress, he did it out of love, they did it out of greed.

We have since advised him to rescind his yes answer and we told him why. We also told him he really should consult with another adult before telling someone they can borrow that type of money from him. We told him not to feel bad about it but he didn’t have to say yes just because she was his sister. We told him they were taking advantage of him and his good nature and it wasn’t right. He needs that money for himself. I mean that’s what they all have been preaching to us all this time. So, once again, patience has paid off. We now see their true colors that we have been talking about all this time. And I will repeat this until I am dead. Our interest is Daniel having a successful life and being able to live on his own even though he is autistic. The lies being told about us are unreal. Some have reached my family and for some God awful reason, they are being believed by certain family members. This makes me sick! Unless you were here, and saw it with your own eyes, don’t fucking judge me.

We will now use every tool in the book to get Daniel to move with us to Savannah. He needs to be protected from the greed in his sisters who are poisoning his thoughts. There is no way I will feel comfortable leaving him here in Denver so he can be coerced and deceived by his family. As parents, that is our job and we will do it until the day we die.

It Doesn’t Take Body Parts to be a Woman

Donna: “You think that if you got no uterus and no breasts, you’re still technically a woman?”
Erin: “Sure you are. Yeah, you just…you’re actually a happier woman because you don’t have to worry about maxi-pads and underwire.”

This quote from the Erin Brockovich movie resonated with me to the core.  In 1991, due to female complications, I ended up having a total hysterectomy.  I would tell my girlfriends, “It’s the best thing I ever did for myself.”  But in 2002, when I found a lump in my breast and the doctor’s misdiagnosed me, I ended up having an advanced stage of breast cancer, causing me to have a double mastectomy. As I was being wheeled into the operating room, these words played in my head.

At the age of 47, I was single for the first time in a very long time, an empty-nester, working a job I hated but going to school to start a new career I was excited about. 

It was surprising, once I heard those words, “you have cancer” how nothing else would permeate my mind.  Even though I had been getting mammograms every year from the time I was 40, the outcome was always normal.  How could this be?

Once the shock wore off, I got to work.  I started doing research on my cancer, Invasive Lobular Carcinoma.  I saw the words, “Mammographically occult…”

I remember when I found the small, pea size lump at the 8:00 position on my right breast.  I was doing a breast self-exam (BSE) and when I found the small hard invader, I immediately made an appointment with my primary care doctor.  She felt it too and sent me over to the radiology department to get a mammogram and an ultrasound.  The radiologist, a woman, told me she wasn’t able to feel a lump and asked me to place a lead bb where I “thought” it was. 

After the results came back, she told me it was a fluid filled cyst, come back in a year for a follow up.  That was in April of 2002.  In December of 2002, I felt the lump had gotten bigger.  Now it was the size of a quarter.  I wasn’t worried, after all, it was a fluid filled cyst and probably had more fluid buildup.

By April of 2003, the lump was now the size of a large lime and the skin around it was itchy.  It had been a year so it was time to call the doctor and schedule my follow up.  When I called to make the appointment, I told the scheduler about the lump and how it had gotten bigger.  She immediately found me an appointment for that day.  My primary was on vacation so I had to see a different doctor.  As I sat on the table, wrapped in my paper gown, he came into the room.  He had a kind face and a professional demeanor.  He asked me a few questions regarding my past appointment the year before and then he moved the paper gown to the side and started doing a clinical breast exam.  As he was examining me, he was asking me questions regarding family history and personal habits. He sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound that day.

The same radiologist who had examined me the year before and claimed she couldn’t feel a lump, could now feel the lump.  While she went over my file, I could tell from the look on her face, she wasn’t happy.  As the technician was doing my mammogram, she was extra careful to be sure what she was getting was the entire lump, so much so, I was bruised from the machine squashing my breast so hard.  But the pictures came out clean.  Nothing showed up on the mammogram.  She was just as puzzled as I was.

Next stop was downstairs to get an ultrasound.  And there it was.  A large, black mass that seemed to have fingers coming out of it as if to say, “here I am, come and get me.”  A core needle biopsy the following week confirmed our fears, it was breast cancer. 

Treatment was surgery, aggressive chemo, and radiation.  I opted for a double mastectomy because lobular breast cancer is not detectable with a mammogram.  Nineteen lymphnodes were removed from my right side, and seven had cancer.  My tumor was 7x6x3 cm, stage 3B.  Six rounds of chemo and 60 rounds of radiation and life expectancy was two years.  So much for finding that true love; so much for working that dream job; so much for growing old and seeing grandchildren.

The support of my family and friends was phenomenal.  We cracked jokes, they cleaned my house, they cooked me meals, they kept me company.  They formed a team “I love Lucy” and we walked 60 miles for the cause.

I wrote my first book “One in Eight” and did a workshop in high schools for seven years telling my story to young women so they could become their own health advocates.  Everything I didn’t know then, I taught them now.

This year I will be celebrating 16 years of being cancer free.  I found true love five years ago when I met my husband; I went to school and graduated Cumma sum laude with a BA degree in Creative writing and English (my dream job, to be a writer); and I have several beautiful grandchildren, thanks to my kids and my husband’s kids.

It doesn’t take body parts to be a woman, it takes a fighting spirit, a loving family, and a good heart to be all we can be.  I can honestly say, I am one lucky woman.

Red Lipstick just ain’t my thing….(the new edited version) Flash Fiction

For years I didn’t understand what was happening to me.  Young women, brutally murdered, appearing in my dreams.  It wasn’t until I finally accepted the fact, dead people were talking to me, did they start appearing during my waking hours.

Invading my head like the Americans did on the beaches of Normandy, nothing I did could stop it, no matter how hard I tried. 

Getting drunk and passing out; kept them at bay for a while longer; but when I got high, well, that was a different story. The voices became louder, demanding attention; placing images of their desperate last moments into the mind’s eye.

I’m not sure when it all began; my earliest recollection was in ‘51.  I was 7 at the time, living in Brooklyn.  My mom, a stay at home mom, as were most of the mom’s back then, wasn’t home one day when I arrived from school. The door was unlocked.

Our house was shaped like a railroad flat, my room was in the back.  Facing the mirror on my dresser, I saw a man’s reflection by the front door.  He looked like Fred Astaire. He had opened the front door just a tad, enough to lean his head in, black tux, black top hat.  Tipping the hat, just slightly, he smiled.  Thinking I heard him say, “Ready to go?”  Turning from the mirror, he was gone. The door still ajar.

Walking slowly towards the front door, heart beating rapidly, the thought of fainting was pliable. An electric shock coursed through my hand and up my arm as I touched the doorknob, watching as the long, black hairs stood straight up.  He was gone.

George. My best friend.  We did everything together.  Though no one else could see or hear him, we always had a fun time. He was around for quite a while and then he wasn’t.

Oh, and the basement. Something was there. It lived behind the heater in the darkest corner. Just a dark shadow with long spindly fingers, always tripping me as I ran up the basement stairs. It knew I knew.  Never did see its’ face…I hate basements.

As I got older, the hissing in my ears was a clear indicator someone was trying to contact me.  At first, it was only every once in a while. The quieter the house got, the louder the hissing.  Always playing music whenever I was alone and falling asleep with the TV on.  God forbid I acknowledged them.

The 1970s and 80s were the worst decades for me.  Many women were brutally killed.  Bundy, Berkowitz, Kemper, Bittaker, Norris, Bianchi, Buono, BTK, Gaskins.  There is no rest. Even those I couldn’t understand came to tell me…what? I don’t know…little sleep and the hissing just got louder…

Eyes…the eyes of their killers…empty, crazy, soul less. And red lips.  Lipstick? Blood? Didn’t matter, red was fear.  And now, it’s my turn.  Peace finally. The hissing has stopped. They came to help me.  My ending, red with fear.

Though finally at peace, I can’t rest.  Another chosen one. Strong, sane, believable, unable to have written this on her own. She, too, has inherited the hissing.

Another year

It is amazing how much can change in a year.

For instance, my step son was taken out of our house a year ago due to his violent outbursts and meltdowns. The progress he has made is monumental. It’s like he is a different person. We don’t see the anger in him any longer, and he seems more at peace with himself. We don’t believe this would have happened if we had not taken the drastic steps needed in order to get him to where he is today. He is actually a pleasure to be around and we can have a conversation with him. He got the help he needed from professionals and he continues to get help from the staff at the group home where he currently resides. Trust me when I say, don’t try to do this yourself if you have a child who needs mental help. Leave it to the professionals, this is what they are trained to do.

I just celebrated my 63rd birthday yesterday. Thank you. So grateful to be able to say I hit another year milestone. After someone has been diagnosed with cancer, and you have death staring you in the face, every birthday is a miracle in your life.

This coming year holds many changes for our family. We have decided to relocate to the South, the low country. We’ve had enough of the high country in more ways than one! Hubby and I are both experiencing a hard time breathing. So much so, it wakes me at night, it feels like I’m drowning but it’s just my lungs telling me I need more oxygen. So now, I use an inhaler every night before going to bed so I don’t wake in a panic.

Of the seven kids we have together, only 3 are speaking to us or me anyway. I’m being blamed for my step son having to leave the house so I’m the POS who has been negatively influencing my husband. The only thing I can say about that is, you didn’t live here when the shit was hitting the fan. And when you did live with it, you just ignored it. I am the one who insisted on the testing and the real diagnosis. Because we are moving away, yes, I’m being blamed for that too, the adult girls believe we are abandoning them and his grandchildren. Yes, one adult daughter is telling her kid I’m not her real grandmother. Which is really too bad because I love that little girl. I never professed to be her “real” grandmother. Her “real” grandmother died so when her grandpa married me, I just took over the role. But I’m not welcome into that role any longer. Grandpa will have to remember the birthdays, the Christmas presents, etc. because I’m not the grandma any more. And whereas it does hurt our feelings, we will get over it. When those kids are older, they will realize what they were forced to miss out on. We can only hope their children don’t do the same thing to them in the future.

My writing is finally going somewhere. Yes, I’m a published author but I haven’t had anything published since 2012. Not for lack of trying. I have been writing, in college I had to write an essay every week and my last year of college included all my creative writing classes, so sometimes I had to write multiple stories. My co author and I have been writing a serial killer novel for the last 6 years and I do believe we will be done with it this summer. Then the real work begins. Finding a publisher interested in it, after all the edits, and if I remember correctly, the last book was a real pill while it was in the publishing stage. It was more stressful and frustrating than it was to write the darn thing.

I recently submitted two of my stories to contests. Women on Writing holds several contest every year, so decided why not give it a try. Even if I don’t win anything, at least I gave it a try. One was a creative non fiction piece and the other was a flash fiction piece. I will post them on a separate blog and maybe you can tell me what you think of them. I’m always up for some creative criticism, especially when it comes to my writing.

Even though we have some strife in the family dynamics, we are very much looking forward to the changes we are facing in this next year. My husband and I are partners, we support each other. We love each other. We are a team. We will continue to move forward in our life because you just never know what the future has in store for you. You have to take life by the horns and make the most of it. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. I refuse to die with regrets! L