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Food Health Uncategorized

My thoughts on COVID-19.

*This post was written on April 5th, 2020. The Coronavirus pandemic is still a very dynamic and changing situation worldwide at this time of writing. Some information posted here will become outdated as time passes, so please continue to check with your local news outlets and government agencies for more current updates about restrictions and precautions.*

*Stay safe!*

It’s really easy to get caught up in all of the negatives in today’s news reports. For example, I live in Michigan, which is one of the highest reporting states for confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. Our community is only about an hour’s drive away from Detroit, which is currently a hotspot for the virus. It’s definitely not the best-case scenario for me and my family, but we definitely could have been dealt a worse hand during all of this.

Looking at all the statistics, it gets even more depressing. Here are some that I’ve been hearing recently below:

I’m not writing this to cause even more anxiety, but it’s important to be aware of how serious the situation is. It’s even more important to focus on the positive things that are coming out of all of this:

While it is encouraging to see this information above, it is important to note that we’re not quite out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot.

I am one of the fortunate ones who still have a job. I work in a warehouse that supplies a local delivery chain, so I am still considered an essential employee. My husband and in-laws were not so lucky, as they are independent contractors who perform work that is not considered essential at the moment. All of their jobs have been suspended until further notice. Meanwhile, my employer has prioritized social distancing, sanitization of equipment and work stations, and regular deep cleaning of facilities as precautions. My hands are usually raw at the end of my shift these days.

We are also lucky to have access to grocery delivery options and supply stockpiles from previous Costco shopping sprees. But it’s still kind of eerie to enter a store these days to see firsthand what is happening – there aren’t many people around, limits on milk, bread and butter have been set, and some pantry items are still elusive like sugar and some canned goods. I am very thankful to have toilet paper and sanitizing wipes in my house. And knowing how to cook things that are edible. Because takeout and delivery foods become really expensive pretty quickly.

boil_water_shef_meme
Hey, gotta start somewhere, I guess.

Speaking of cooking, I’m noticing that people are banding together online to help share easy-to-cook recipes with simple ingredients. I joined a Facebook group myself, and I’m looking forward to making some of the dishes that they have been kind enough to share with the rest of the online world. If you are looking to improve your culinary skills to save some money and some sanity, definitely try reaching out to the people you know on social media to see what kinds of ideas they might have for you. Maybe they could even spare a cup of sugar. (By dropping it off at your door, of course.)

Honestly though, it’s been so encouraging to see online how people are navigating the changes to daily life, like how one guy is using his drones to walk his dog during the lockdown in his area, how food providers are donating meals to first responders, and how people are simply paying it forward during some trying times. I definitely recommend following John Krasinski (Jim from “The Office”) on his Twitter accounts – his personal Twitter account and his new account, Some Good News if you’re trying to get away from all of the depressing content that’s filling up the newsroom these days.

During these next few weeks, it’s going to be crucial to keep a positive, yet informed attitude. Social distancing and isolation really suck the life out of most of us. (Introverts and people who hate socializing, in general, are rejoicing like crazy right now, though. Really, this is what they’ve been waiting for!) As for me, I enjoy being at home for the most part, but the moment someone else forces me to do something is usually the moment when I don’t want to do the thing anymore. I don’t like other people telling me what I can and can’t do, dammit. Even if I’ve already been doing it for a while.

covid19-pingu-meme
The parks and rec centers in my area had to close down because people were like this.

We celebrated PJ’s birthday on the 3rd, and while we weren’t able to do much, she still enjoyed the day with cupcakes and running around outside (within social distancing guidelines, of course). She also got to stay up late watching Disney movies over and over again while eating pizza and candy. Not a bad set up for a 3-year-old, really. Dan has been using the spare time tending to his streaming channel on Mixer, and I finally got a chance to hop back on here for an update on things. Now I really have no excuse to forgo writing for months at a time. Seriously, I really appreciate you guys sticking around after months of nothingness.

Let me know if you’ve got any positive things or stories to share below! We’re all in this together. Believe it or not, many lives have already been saved so far by following these crazy precautions. And to all of the first responders and fellow essential employees, I salute you and I am praying for your safety and sanity for the next few weeks.

Stay safe out there and wash your damn hands!

Categories
Health Work

Here’s how to say no: Advice from a recovering people-pleaser.

I felt compelled to jot this sentiment down here since it seems like everyone around me finally started to recover from their holiday hangovers. I’m just now getting back into the swing of things myself. After time off, it may seem inappropriate or invoke feelings of guilt to decline projects or tasks that come around. But becoming a “yes man” can do more harm than good sometimes. Believe me, I’ve learned this the hard way more than a few times. I’ll still relapse every now and then and bite off a bit more than I can chew, but I just have to remember that I’m only human… And that I need to do things like sleep and shower to keep me sane enough for the next day.

Ironically, learning how to say no has allowed me to become even more productive, despite taking on fewer assignments. Know why? Because if I don’t have a million and a half things to do, life becomes less stressful. Less stress allows me to focus better on the things that do matter. It also prevents me from binging on Taco Bell because of the self-induced time crunch I’ve put myself into because I haven’t carved out time to pack a proper lunch or dinner. Saying no isn’t just good for my physical health either, it is also wonderful for the soul. How nice and liberating it feels to not be compelled to help people all the time, 24/7.

That being said, I understand that there are goals to be accomplished. It’s the new year, and everyone is on that New Year’s Resolution bandwagon right about now, trying to keep to new commitments or changes that will be beneficial in the long run. But old habits also have a tendency to die hard.

If one of your resolutions in 2019 is to take care of yourself, I’d highly recommend starting with this magical word. And look, you don’t have to be an ass about saying no to things (unless you really want to, I’m not judging you). There’s plenty of ways to decline politely and with grace.

Here are some baby steps to get started:

1. Say the actual word out loud.

Not something like “I’m not sure” or “I don’t think so”… Just “no” should suffice. If no seems too harsh, you can also try some other decently firm options:

“Not for me, thank you.”

“I’m afraid I can’t.”

“Thanks, but I’ve got a lot on my plate right now.”

2. Save the explanation.

This will save both time and energy. You also don’t want them to try to find a way around a fabricated excuse to try and win you over. Sure, the whole “my kid is sick” thing can work, but only so many times before someone starts to question what you could be feeding them.

3. Remember opportunity costs.

Nothing comes free. What would it cost to take on another request? Sleep? Money? Time? That desperately needed venti quadruple shot caramel macchiato from Starbucks?  The choice is yours. Would it be worth it?

4. Don’t procrastinate.

Sure, you can hold off your official answer if you’re not sure about your decision yet, but this will only satisfy whoever you’re answering to temporarily. They’ll be back.

5. Keep your boundaries in check.

If you’ve said no once already, don’t be afraid to say it again. If they start to be pushy or rude about it, then you can just ignore them. Or be rude back. Whatever is your style, I guess. Just remember to reinforce your position. Don’t be a doormat.

6. Prioritize.

If this happens to be a work thing, and your supervisors are asking you to tackle more than you can handle at the moment, you can always say something like “I’m game to take on this project, but I would need a few weeks to get it done right. How would you like me to tackle this while working on tasks A, B, and C?”

7. Go on, be selfish.

I get it. It can still be hard sometimes to say no, especially when it happens to be towards your toddler who is now throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store because you wouldn’t get them a candy bar. Or when your mother in law tries to guilt trip you for the 10th time this month. Remember to put your needs first and take care of yourself.

Go on, embrace your inner Ron Swanson.

ron swanson nopeee

 

Categories
Health Tech Work

Why “unplugging” from the internet is important for me.

I fondly remember the camping trips I used to take growing up. We loaded up the car until things were starting to spill out of the doors, ran around the house a bit to make sure we didn’t forget anything (except the kitchen sink) and headed towards our favorite camping spot. It wasn’t too far away from where we lived, but it was far enough to be out of the noise of the city, and away from any responsibilities and obligations that we had back home. This was our vacation ritual almost every year, and we all looked forward to it every season.

Once we arrived, the bags got unpacked, the food got cooking, and our phones got turned off and packed away for an entire week. Yes, all the way off. Not on silent or vibrate. We went completely off the map.

Nobody could reach us easily and we could enjoy our family time in peace. I feel like this practice would cause some panic attacks now – but it seemed to be completely normal to do this sort of thing only 10 years ago.

Ha, “only” ten years ago. Look at me throwing around decades of time like it’s nothing. Psh.

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Here’s a cringy childhood photo from the early 2000’s – proof that I really am getting older.

So why is it so hard to disconnect these days? Well, the internet is a lot more than what it was back in 2008, cell phones can now do so much more than just contact people, and a sort of obligation of availability seems to have taken hold of a lot of people. We now have online presences to maintain on our social media profiles and websites.

I think we’ve gotten to a place as a society where if we decided to unplug from our online lives, people will actually become concerned that we’ve died or something. (I’m still here, WordPress!) We’ve forgotten that we also have lives offline that need tending to.

The whole morning routine is even impacted by technology. Checking email, catching up on the news, even working out, it all usually involves being online or connected to our smartphones and/or the internet now. I have always done my best to keep a healthy boundary between my offline life and the online world. There are several reasons why I do this, and the biggest of these is to make sure I can stay healthy and productive IRL.

Even my husband and my in-laws will get irritated with me every now and then because I don’t always have my phone on me. There are certain days where a smartphone would be a distraction to me, and if I’m at work or on a job with them somewhere, I will more than likely not have my smartphone physically on me.

Just look at my life for the past few weeks:

  • I’ve picked up more hours at a part-time job, and my employer would not appreciate me updating my blog/Facebook on the clock.
  • We’ve closed on a “fixer-upper” that needs some TLC before someone in Toledo can call it a home, and have been chipping away on the to-do list for that. (Another post on that later!)
  • I have a 1-year-old.
  • The laundry has been piling up.
  • I have friends to hang out with.

… You get the idea, right?

Besides being in a busy season, here are some other important reasons why unplugging needs to be done regularly for me.

For Mental Health

I think of it like brushing my teeth. It’s annoying, but it needs to be done every day or some funky stuff will start happening in my mouth. The same thing applies to my brain. And my eyes. My head will literally start to hurt from all the light of the screens I stare at for hours, and looking at perfect, flawless photos of friends and other things I follow 24/7 is definitely not good for my mental mojo.

Turning off the computer and putting my phone away lets me be more aware of my surroundings, and allows me to be grateful for my life around me. It is good to live in the moment.

For Work

It really wouldn’t be safe for me to be distracted by a YouTube video while trying to use sharp and dangerous power tools that could cut off my arm. I can only multitask to a certain extent – and the more places my attention is, the less effective my work is.

This also applies to my writing. I find if I do it too much, my creativity suffers a bit. If I allow myself to unplug and experience the world going on around me, then I can jump back into the online world later and put those things on paper (or on this blog) for others to read about.

For My Daughter

There would be something seriously sad about missing a big moment of her childhood now because of my inattention due to my smartphone. Or from working too much. Or from being away a lot.

PJ is growing up so fast. Walking has now turned into running – sometimes clumsily into random objects. I really need to keep an eye on her now!

She is a big reason why the unplugging time for me is absolutely mandatory. PJ will not be this little forever, and I’ve got to cherish every moment that I can before I miss it.

For My Husband

Unplugging is definitely a thing that we both can struggle with sometimes, and I know he loves his time online with his friends playing Overwatch or PUBG on the Xbox, and then zoning out on Netflix after a long day. But we’ve both come to a shocking realization – everything on our bodies is starting to hurt and we are getting older by the minute.

There are so many things we want to get out and do together before we get so old that we can’t move well anymore – and we also need the time together to keep our relationship solid. Even if it’s just a few minutes in the morning sipping coffee together in the kitchen before we head to our jobs. Quality time offline to connect and check in with each other is so important!

For Freedom!

*cue screeching ‘Murica eagle here*

wat-eagle-reddit-murica
“lol wat?”

It is so liberating to not have any strings attached when I decide to go offline and to explore and to just live my effing life! As I’m wrapping up this blog post, I’m already thinking about what I’m about to go do next on a rare day off. I’m waiting for Dan and PJ to wake up from their naps. Maybe we’ll go to the park or something, but everyone is definitely looking forward to spending family time together today until Dan has to report to work this evening.

Gotta take advantage of chances like these to relax! I’ll be back soon with the story of our latest project soon.

 

Categories
Health

Parents, we need to talk about mental health issues.

Warning: This post contains strong language and triggering content.


“We want to do a lot of stuff; we’re not in great shape. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep. We’re a little depressed. Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup.”

I think the above quote from Jerry Seinfeld describes my current relationship with coffee almost perfectly spot on. It gives me a good kind of anxiety that helps me cross things off my to-do list every week. Like I’m in control of something in my life.

Now, I hate to admit it, but depressive episodes still happen to me every once in a while. After PJ’s first birthday passed, I thought I was going to be in the clear from postpartum depression, and this emotional and hormonal crap could be put behind me.

Well, yesterday just proved me wrong.

Seemingly out of nowhere after being productive and finishing up dinner, I started feeling sad, which caused me to ruminate about all of the things I couldn’t control in my life, reliving all of the bad things that were happening to me while I saw everyone else around me thriving, happy, and unaware of my emotional anguish and pain. That set off the thought pattern of depression – that I am useless, I’m a burden, I suck at everything, I’m a piece of garbage (but at least I know I’m a piece of garbage human being, and that makes me feel a bit better).

This inner dialogue from BoJack Horseman really hits the nail on the head of the kind of thought process that happens to me while I’m in a bout of depression:

“I don’t deserve breakfast. Shut up. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, what does that do? Go get yourself some breakfast you stupid fat ass.”

“These are cookies, this is not breakfast. You are eating cookies. Stop it. Stop eating cookies and go make yourself breakfast. Stop it. Don’t eat one more cookie. Put that cookie down. Do not eat that cookie. I can’t believe you ate that cookie.”

(I shouldn’t be able to relate to a fictional character so much, especially not one like BoJack.)

That fun voice in my head decided to pay me a visit after being on vacation for a few months apparently. I was completely unprepared to deal with it. I was feeding PJ dinner and she was throwing a fit. Dan decided to attend an evening church service out of town, my in-laws were at a barbecue somewhere else, and I was in no shape to drive her to my mom’s in that mental state. I felt trapped.

Luckily, as I was about to get into the really bad part of it, my father in law shows up at the door, told me the barbecue was pretty boring, and that they would be more than happy to take PJ for the night so I could try and recollect myself.

These guys win the in-laws of the year award. Seriously.

It was breaking my heart to have PJ witness this latest meltdown. I needed someone to come get her while I had to deal with this on my own. Again. She was even trying to feed me dinner and could tell something was off with me. I put on a brave face, told her that mommy wasn’t feeling well, then sent her away with her Paw-Paw before collapsing on the living room couch in hysteric tears.

“This too shall pass… This too shall pass…”

I poured myself a few too many glasses of red wine, then settled in for a Netflix binge session, and managed to keep myself spaced out until Dan finally got home. Then he got the lovely task of helping me decompress and getting that voice in my head to go away. I needed him when the depressive episode started, but I also know it’s unrealistic and unhealthy for him to be there to walk me through this sort of thing every time it happens.

I’ve also been dealing with this sort of thing for a while in college, but it never registered to me that it could be depression. I just dismissed those negative feelings and chalked them up to stress and insomnia issues from the heavy workload I was taking on at the time. I was taking up to 16 credit hours and working three different jobs. I coped with everything by drinking, partying, and smoking hookah.

But now I’m a parent and an unconventional work-near-home housewife. I go to church (almost) every Sunday. I can’t go party with my friends like I used to in order to decompress. No more drinking and being irresponsible for a few hours out of each day. I have to be responsible 24/7 now. I can’t break out the hookah either while PJ is awake, and at the end of the night, I’m just too exhausted to care about anything. I’ve been trying to find new ways to cope.

The good news is that I’ve replaced some of the bad habits I used to have with good ones. I’m gonna sound like an old lady here, but gardening really helps keep my mind out of that downward spiral. I love working in the dirt outside and being in the fresh air, and most importantly, not being stuck inside the house.

I’ve also taken up a morning yoga practice with the free Down Dog Yoga app. Back when we made more money, I had a YMCA membership and I would take yoga classes there. I only was able to get a few classes in before falling pregnant and ultimately canceling my membership. But I’ve gotten back into it and it helps me stay grounded and be more aware of how my body is feeling.

That, in turn, has also helped me clean up my diet in the past few months. I’m eating my fruits and veggies every day, drinking plenty of water, and taking vitamins as needed. I’m basically doing all of these things that are supposed to help with mental issues just short of taking medication for it, as I cannot afford those treatments or any sort of therapist at this time with our miserable healthcare situation.

So I was devastated when yesterday still happened, despite all of this positive change, and so I had reverted back to an unhealthy old method to numb myself of any feeling. I’m at least able to function today, but I’m still beating myself about it a little bit.

All I can do for now to keep this thing at bay is to stay busy, get out of the house regularly, and make sure to take care of myself with good food and regular exercise. (Words of encouragement would also help! It sounds dumb, but it does help.) It sucks that there is still a great stigma to this sort of thing in the US, but I am comforted to find that I am not alone in this struggle. There are other people who are dealing with this sort of thing have created these communities online to help each other out.

And while it is terrible to see suicides happen, the notable deaths of people like Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, and most recently Tim Bergling (aka Avicii) due to mental illness have helped to show that this thing can affect even the most influential, powerful, and most amazing people on this planet. These people, along with other living, high profile individuals who have struggled with these illnesses are coming out with their own experiences and helping to create a dialogue about mental health that has been badly needed.

Another scary thought ran through my head recently, too: If I haven’t been taught how to regulate my emotions, how well would this kind of thing end up for PJ if she experiences this? How would I be able to help her get through it? I don’t want my daughter to develop bad habits like I did. She deserves to be more educated about these issues. Much more than Dan and I were growing up.

We shouldn’t feel ashamed to talk about mental illnesses, because they literally affect everybody. From those who are suffering themselves, those with loved ones who have these issues, and for those with friends and peers who are struggling. Let us not argue about how or why this thing happens, but let us create a united front on how to deal with it and get help.

So let’s talk about it!

Categories
Health

What to do when your IUD doesn’t love you back.

A quick disclaimer – Aw hell, you read the title, didn’t you? If you don’t want to read about lady probs, then stop right here and go read something else. Okay? Cool.

Also, I’m not a doctor. Talk to yours if you’ve got any concerns with an IUD or any other birth control related things.


Everything was going so well after I had my little T shaped device put in place this past September. Before this, I had relied on the pill to keep me protected from an unplanned pregnancy. The period control was a nice perk, too. The Intrauterine Device (IUD) was revolutionary to me. No more having to set 15 alarms and 20 other reminders on my phone to take my pill. For the hormonal dosages of the pill to be over 99% effective, it needed to be taken every day, at the same time of day. That was going to be hard for me with my newly frazzled mom brain, and I was not about to risk having another unplanned pregnancy while I was underemployed.

So before I got booted off of my health insurance from my previous employer, I decided to rush to my OBGYN’s office to get the copper IUD, called ParaGard. With nursing and dealing with some crazy postpartum depression, I didn’t think hormonal options were the best choices for me at the time.

My doctor informed me that I had to sign some paperwork before the procedure could begin, basically saying I wouldn’t sue anyone and that I was aware of the risks involved. After that was done, the rest went smoothly. I received a card with the date of insertion, date of removal and the doctor’s name to keep in my wallet. It was set, and I could forget about it.

And another cool thing? This little thing could give me up to 12 years of protection! Boom. I was sold.

slate_getting_an_iud_can_be_insanely_painful_is_there_a_better_way
There were different versions of the ParaGard. I got something that looked like this one. (Photo from flocu/Shutterstock)

After this, the doc told me to come back in for a follow-up appointment to check and see if the IUD stayed in place. **If you get an IUD, PLEASE DON’T DO WHAT I DID and not do the follow-up.** I wasn’t having any problems, and my insurance had run out, and I was stupid and didn’t go because I didn’t want to run up any more medical bills.

Fast forward to March of 2018 – and everything was still going great! That is until I hopped in the shower recently. It was that special time of the month, but something felt off for the past week.

As I was washing up, I started cramping up like crazy. Mild cramps, but they came out of nowhere. To my horror, I reached down and felt the IUD falling out of me. I could feel the plastic part, and that was obviously, very very bad.

I panicked.

I had no idea what I was supposed to do, so I had Dan immediately call the doctor while I was on Google self-diagnosing myself (which only increased my anxiety and did nothing helpful). As I tried to sit down on the couch, I started getting pain that felt like someone was stabbing me, so of course, I became concerned. The doctor’s office told me to go straight to the ER to have it pulled, so that’s where we went.

We went to Flower Hospital in Sylvania, Ohio. It is probably one of the best hospitals in the area. My ER wait was maybe 5 minutes. They got me in a room right away. We had to be creative to get a good look inside to see what was going on. They literally couldn’t find it. They propped me up on a bedpan and tilted me onto it, which caused an excruciating amount of pain. They still didn’t see anything. An x-ray was done, along with a pregnancy test, a urinary tract infection test, and some other blood tests. Everything came back negative, but they finally managed to see the device in the x-ray, which indicated that it was indeed, on its way out.

Once we saw this, I thought – “Great! Now they can get this thing out and we can be done with this.” Except the guy comes back in the room shrugging saying “We can’t find the string, so we can’t get it out.”

I was about to throw the bedpan at him. What did he mean by this?? They weren’t just gonna send me home, were they?

Yup, they sent me home. Gave me a Motrin, prescribed me some Miralax (what?) and Dan pushed me out of the hospital in a wheelchair. I was still in pain, nothing was solved, and I still had to shell out $400+ for the co-pay towards the visit. Apparently, they “didn’t have the proper training” to remove an IUD at the ER. ‘Murica.

IUD-fell-out-displaced-misplaced-paragard-copper
At least it wasn’t as painful as childbirth.

I managed to suck it up and endure the pain through the night and during an entire 45-minute examination the next day for another job I had applied for. Then I went straight back to my OBGYN.

When I arrived, they stuck an ultrasound wand up there and wiggled it around for what seemed like an eternity, because it was just so freaking painful. And they still couldn’t find it. I was sobbing, getting close to the end of my rope.

Then as the tech was removing the wand, lo and behold – the ParaGard had been completely expelled out of my uterus and into my vagina. It was stuck up there, but I was just glad that it hadn’t migrated outside of the uterus. It was time to finish this, once and for all.

The doctor came in and gave a quick tug, and that was that. Except in my case, I doubled over in pain, crying from the resulting cramps that came from the sudden removal of the device. Removal is typically quick and relatively painless. I had to get Dan to come to the office to drive me home. Luckily, the pain went away later that evening, but I still felt off for a while after the removal.

I’m happy to report that I’m A-OK now but sad that the IUD didn’t end up working out for me. I was one of those special cases where my body just decided it didn’t want it anymore and forced it out. I mean, it is a foreign copper object in your body, after all. My body was just doing its job, unfortunately.

So, lessons learned from this entire experience:

1. Stay calm and call your doctor immediately if something seems wrong.

Really, it’s better to be safe than sorry on this one. It sucks that I had to fork over a good chunk of cash to the ER for something they couldn’t fix. Next time, I will insist that they look closer and remove it (which according to my OBGYN they should have been able to do in the first place) so I can at least get my money’s worth and not end up paying $400 bucks for some damn Motrin.

If you are in excruciating pain no matter what, GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM.

2. Check yo self before you wreck yo self.

I just happened to be in the 2 – 10% of women who have an expulsion during the first year after insertion. Lucky me.

Be sure to perform self-checks with an IUD regularly by checking the string length (you can see how to do that in more detail here) and follow up with your healthcare provider every once in a while to make sure that everything is where it should be. It’s worth it to avoid some scary situations like a runaway IUD or an accidental/ectopic pregnancy. If you’re still up for action with a displaced IUD, make sure to use backup birth control methods. Stay vigilant!

3. Talk to your doc about the next steps.

If an expulsion happened once, it can happen again.

This kind of thing may be more likely if:

  • You’re 25 or younger.
  • You had an IUD placed immediately after having a kid.
  • You’ve never been pregnant.
  • You have heavy periods and/or cramping.

If I’m brave enough to try this again, I’ll definitely ask my doc to use an ultrasound machine to make sure a second IUD gets placed correctly. Normally, the insertion is a blind procedure.

Fortunately, there are other methods of birth control to choose from if the IUD isn’t the one for me. Until then, I think I’m just going to leave my body alone to heal for a little while and wait until I can hopefully get some better health insurance.

I wouldn’t mind if PJ ended up having a sibling someday. But today is definitely not going to be that day.

Categories
Health

How I forgave myself after I messed up. Again.

January is just about halfway over. I already fell off of the fasting bandwagon earlier this month, after I tried to get through all of January without coffee. (I am weaksauce.) Although, I was coffee-free for about 10 days straight. That’s a record in my book. My addiction to caffeine is a bit stronger than I’d like to admit.

How about exercise? I managed to get in 30 minutes of exercise today, even if I did have to improvise with some interesting looking weights. Hey, my upper arms are still pretty weak, and wine bottles filled with water made for great dumbbell substitutes for triceps kickbacks!

It is also fairly hard for me to attempt anything like running and jogging in place without a proper bra. Otherwise, it’s just downright painful. I was able to jog in place for 10 minutes straight today while watching Netflix.

Progress, right?

In my previous post that talked about the changes in my postpartum body, I had mentioned that I had hit a weight loss plateau at around 200 pounds. Well this week, I managed to break it! I dipped to about 198 on Wednesday, before completely ruining my progress on Friday – after I tripped up and ate half of an extra-large pizza from Vito’s. Oops.

I gained the 2 pounds back at my weigh in this morning, along with some belly bloat and shame.

I guess if I have any more job interviews that ask me what my greatest weaknesses are, I should just list them as follows: coffee, pizza, wine, and chocolate.

coffee_and_computer
The oversized coffee mug from Target makes 3 to 4 cups of coffee look like one harmless mug.

Another thing also happened in the past week – I received the great honor of being a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding! The bride and her matron of honor met at my house for a quick brunch and planning session, and I was just thrilled to have some company over! It’s officially my first time being part of the VIP list in a wedding party, so I wanted to do my best to help plan and get my friend prepped for the big day. That’s also why the blog hadn’t been updated in a hot minute – my bad, guys!

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Of course, I said yes, duh.

Even today, it is still a bit difficult for me to forgive myself if I end up overindulging at dinner, or if I forget to upload a blog post, even if I’ve committed myself to upload at least twice a week. Once something happens that disrupts my progress, it’s easy to just throw in the towel and just conclude that it will happen again, so why even bother trying to keep up, right?

Don’t quit on me just yet.

Here’s the thing. Habits are tough to break. That’s not always a bad thing since good habits take time to develop. Once they’re in place, it is easier to stick to them.

I didn’t always drink coffee. Especially not black coffee. That habit developed after I had started working early in the morning at an inventory service that crammed us all in a van and lugged us around to various places in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. We would all be reporting for duty at 4 am. I had just graduated high school not long before that.

It got worse when I picked up a job at an O’Reilly’s while in college. There were a lot of days that I would be studying until past midnight, and I would just put on my work uniform to bed at 2 am. I would roll out of bed at 6:30 and be at work to unload the truck pallet at 7 am.

So naturally, I developed a habit.

If I can do that with a simple cup of black coffee, then who says I can’t start a new habit that is good for me?

I actually was doing really good with my fitness goals before I became pregnant – I had a membership at the local YMCA and I took advantage of the free fitness classes and facilities there. Along with hitting up the gym 3 times a week, I was also filling in my “off” days with regular yoga classes that I enjoyed! I was even meal prepping regularly! Guys, this was big for me.

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Proof that I actually did meal prep, even while pregnant. I can do this again.

I started to pick up more classes to switch up my routine and step up my intensity level of training. I was going to the gym every single day of the week! Then I found out I was gonna have a baby after three months in. I had to slow down and take it easy after that. Starting today, I am slowly getting back into a regular exercise routine. And it is not easy to do that when I had been enjoying my lazy time on the couch with Netflix and video games during the final days of my pregnancy. The lazy time had also become a habit.

With the bad habits I’ve developed over the past year, I’ve also started to create new ones that are more beneficial – subbing tea for coffee some mornings, eating better with portion control in mind, and limiting the amount of time where my eyes are glued to a screen. (Because my eyes need a break, too!)

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Enjoying tea and oatmeal while having a rare reading opportunity.

It may not seem like much at first, but keep in mind, this is how a lot of habits start. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until things go unchecked and start to become a bit out of hand. For example, I should not be drinking 12 cups of coffee a day, but I could easily do so. Yes, I have a problem. I know.

So if I keep focusing on things that will end up improving myself in the long run, maybe that will distract me from giving the bad habits the time and energy I would otherwise spend on them.

Starting up a new habit is tough, but with enough persistence and patience with myself, I’ve learned it is possible for me to start getting back in shape. There will be days that I don’t feel like doing any workouts, but I know that I have to do it, even if I don’t feel like it. And I can’t beat myself up when I fail, or I will be too afraid to try anything again.

So instead of getting discouraged that I only exercised 30 minutes today, I can pat myself on the back, and get ready to do it again tomorrow. Instead of giving myself a guilt trip over eating too much food in one sitting, I can set myself up to prevent that for the next meal I have. I will get there, I just have to take things one day at a time.

Categories
Health

My postpartum body, 9 months later.

 

The weight loss resolutions for the new year hit me a little harder now than they did in the past.

After encouraging everyone to load up their plates with extra helpings this holiday season, it’s time to get people to feel bad about their life choices and get them to the gym to repent for the excessive eating and drinking. Hooray.

(I’m nibbling on some dark chocolate as I’m typing this one, guys. The struggle is real.)

But how have things gone with my weight since I’ve delivered? Unfortunately, I’ve hit a plateau. I’m lucky enough to have lost some weight, but I am definitely far from my goal.

Before discovering I was pregnant, I was already quite overweight according to the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart – clocking in at around 180 pounds. I didn’t gain a whole lot of weight until the last trimester of my pregnancy – my final weigh-in before the big day was about 240 pounds!

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Me with a big belly.

I immediately lost about 15 pounds after delivering PJ, who was about 8 pounds and 2 ounces of all that. I lost quite a bit of blood, fluids, and the placenta of course. I don’t think I need to go into too much more detail with that – let’s just say my delivery was pretty badass.

While I was still in shock and swollen, I would spend the next several hours in the recovery room at the hospital with a hungry, crying baby and a very sore and bloated body. I felt like my stomach was a giant, deflated balloon. My boobs basically went up several cup sizes overnight, and not in a good way. The transformation was pretty painful.

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April 3rd, 2017 – She’s here!

Of course, I didn’t expect to bounce right back after that ordeal. I figured, it took months to get to that point so it would take a few months or longer to get “back to normal”, right?

I got lucky and lost more weight in the first three months postpartum. I wasn’t even exercising yet. For me, it might have been a combination of drinking lots of water, and pumping and nursing PJ almost constantly. Also, I think it helped that I somehow stayed on my feet once I returned home, easing myself back into daily chores like laundry and loading the dishwasher, but I was lucky to have Dan do the bulk of the housework while I was recovering.

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Generational photo with my mom and grandma at Easter. I felt like the Michelin Man.

A few months later, I noticed that I was beginning to notice the more permanent changes to my body as it healed – the tiger stripes I’ve earned all along my lower abdomen and around my butt. Those areas were quite red and swollen for a number of weeks before they faded into pale slivers, but they were still very noticeable.

Not only that, but there was also a lot of extra skin. Enter the dreaded “mom pooch”.

Despite this, my clothes were starting to fit better around the 6-month mark. But even still, as I managed to squeeze back into my pre-pregnancy jeans (a miracle!!), they just didn’t fit the same without shapewear. I would just have this big mound of extra skin hanging over the waist area. It looked worse than just your run-of-the-mill muffin top. And that killed me and my already floundering self-esteem.

Still, the postpartum shapewear did wonders to make me look a bit more like my former self. Even if it felt like a crutch sometimes, it was definitely needed to make me feel like… well, me again.

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Top left, still pregnant. Bottom left, 3 months postpartum. Right, 6 months postpartum.

Now I’ve only been able to rock a bikini once in my life. Once. Back in my high school days. And even then I was pretty shy about it. After a baby with how I look now? I’m not even close to ready for a bathing suit, much less a bikini.

But I would love to be able to show off my stretch marks in a cool way someday when I get closer to my goal weight. Maybe I’ll get some ink to make them even more beautiful. When I can afford a good piece, of course. Girl’s gotta eat. (in moderation, now.)

I’m thankful to be where I am at now. Also, I’m blessed with a husband that not only thinks I’m still beautiful, he makes sure to tell me on a regular basis, even if I don’t always agree with him.

Currently, I’m at 200 pounds, and my goal is to get to 150 by the end of this year. Not a new year’s resolution, since those fail a lot. This is a goal for myself to be healthy for me and my family. Until then, I’m doing my best to celebrate even the smallest changes within me and embracing my body today with its curves and all.

I mean, my breasts are probably never going to look this great ever again. For real. Gotta celebrate that win while I can!


How about you guys? Have any wins or struggles you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below – just know I’m rooting for you!