Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February Photo Challenge days 5-7

10:00a.m: Bela and daddy video chatting

Dinner: Sinigang. A fabulous, amazing, favorite Filipino dish prepared by step mother Evie. Love her.
Buttons: Bela is currently obsessed with this little phone.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February Photo Challenge

Day 1: Your view: This is the table in our kitchen. I sit here in the mornings to pay bills, video chat with hubs, do art and crafts with Bela, and to eat our meals, as well. I love my huge fruit bowl!
Day 2. Words: I spent all morning Thursday preparing foods to freeze. It really makes days so much easier with the husband deployed. And its very cost effective, as well!
Day 3. Hands: My sweet Bela napping. I can't help but notice she has her daddy's hands...and lips.

Day 4. Stranger: I was out and about with Bela yesterday, but I can't take my eyes off her to take a picture of a stranger. Bela LOVES to run away from me in public places. So, this is a picture that inspired my hair style in October 2011. Yes, that is the last time I got my hair cut. And yes, my hair actually looked awesome the few times I styled it like this!

Weight loss confessions

So, since my sister is gone and I don't have too much longer til my husband returns from deployment, I have really been ,committed to eating clean and exercising.

Clean eating has been amazing. With my food allergies, its the healthiest and best way for me to eat..well , really its the healthiest way for anyone to eat! I actually started clean eating in october, and it has truly been a lifestyle change that is not only positive, but fun, and most importantly delicious.

Not only that, I have really been enjoying exercise for the first time in years! I have Brooke from,
Oh, The Joys of Parenting, to thank for literally transforming my mind and views on strength training! Brooke, thank you SO much! You are such an inspiration to me and so many other women out there!

So, let me start a little about my history. As a child, I never had weight issues. No one in my family really has. I was definitely an active child. I wasn't really into sports, though I did play softball til I was about 14. But I was a cheerleader, took some gymnastics and dance, and really just enjoyed dance and even running, and strength moves, like pushups, pullups, handstand pushups, and other crazy dance related strength moves.

I was strong. I had strong legs, strong arms, and a crazy strong core. Even after I joined the military, I continued to be strong. I ran long distances, and would do a lot of dance related core exercises and leg exercises. I could do just as many pushup as my husband in one minute, (about 60 straight legged pushups), and I could do 10 one armed pushups with my right and 6 with my left hand.

The only point I am making is that I was strong, and I was definitely proud of the work I put into it.

Fast forward some years...

I got out of the military and gained about 10 lbs. We moved to Iowa, and I committed myself to running and eating healthier. I lost the 10 lbs and then some, but also found out that I no longer enjoyed running. I have run 2 marathons in my life, and now I hate running long distances....how does that happen? It still makes me very sad, actually. I believe my heart will always love runners because I know how strong mentally you have to be to complete a race. Running is something you can do anywhere, it is always challenging, and it is the most free you will ever feel....when you love doing it.

In 2009, I had my daughter, Isabela. I gained about 50 lbs in my pregnancy! I lost 20 lbs almost immediately, thanks to breastfeeding. But the other 30 weren't so easy. I still have those 30 to lose and them some.

Anyhow, after I was finally able to exercise, I became extremely discouraged and frustrated.

Thank you csection, that I didn't plan on having. That I never wanted! But at the same time, thank you Jesus, that Bela was born healthy and alive!

Anyhow, I went to the gym, and just like my midwife told me, I had absolute no core strength. My "abs" felt like jello. Literally. In fact, I had no abs.

It took me 3 months just to be able to do 5 perfect pushups.

When I first saw my post pregnancy body, I cried. My stomach had stretch marks and loose skin. I felt horrible and for the first time ever, I didn't want my husband to see me without clothes. Even though he certainly assured me that in his eyes, I was beautiful and sexy and so forth.....um yeah, he better, right!

Anyhow, the first year, I lightly exercised and lost 10 more lbs, once the summer came around. ( Living in iowa in the winter is horrible. Incidentally, the Bela's first winter was one of the record worst winters Iowa had ever seen. Also, Bela was sick during her first 9 months, until we figured out all her food allergies, and I my number one priority was her health, making my health second.)

The second year was even more discouraging than the first. Even though I had regained some of my core strength back, weight loss seemed impossible. I signed up for weight watchers and followed it strictly for 3 months, I was still breastfeeding, and I was doing 45 minutes of cardio everyday.

I lost absolutely no weight. I had a thyroid test done and it came back fine. My doctor said some women hold onto excess weight until they are done breastfeeding, but inside, I knew that was not what my body was doing!

So, I continued with weight watchers for an additional 3 months and I did p90x for 2 months. I didn't lose ANY weight.

For 3 months after that, I changed my diet to a whole foods only diet and quit exercising. I lost 5 lbs in one month!


Then, we were up to move from Iowa to Shreveport. It was a tough, very transitional move. We came down 2 months before the movers moved our stuff and stayed with my dad and Even.

After not living in Lousiana since 1998, I was thrilled to be around amazing, Cajun food and Chris and I ate crawfish and catfish like every week.

After making those bad decisions and not exercising, I gained 10 lbs! Of course, that was all my fault, but that brings me to October of 2011.

And so here we are. The last time I jumped on the scale was in October, and I was at 165. I am 4'11, so that is ALOT and puts me in the obese category, actually.

So, why haven't I weighed myself since then?

Well, the scale discourages me. I am scared that if the scale doesn't move , then I will get discouraged and angry with myself. Also, I am scared that if the scale doesn't move, then I will give up.

And I am so sick and tired of fixating on my weight. I want to make a TRUE lifestyle change. And for me, that means no scale.

It means taking joy in committing to exercise and clean eating. It means being proud that I have stuck to almost 4 weeks of constant exercise and eating healthy. I'm not gonna let the scale take the joy away from me.

Instead, I am going to make this a life change that doesn't involve that evil scale! I want to base my feelings on what I have committed to, what I have FINISHED....not what the stupid scale says!

So, just to back up just a little. In November I found out I was allergic to gluten and dairy. Bela is too. And as soon as I got rid of those allergens, I could feel my body starting to get smaller. Just recently, I saw on Dr Oz that true food allergies can cause you to NOT be able to lose weight!
I really think that was what was happening to me. Because when I stopped exercising and started a whole foods diet, I was also eating vegetarian, so I was having no dairy at all. I wasn't eating wheat, because I was scared of over consuming on carbs, like so many vegetarians do. And that was the only time in 2 years that I had lost weight...
Not to mention, I feel so much better, physiologically, after removing the allergens from my diet.

SO anyway, in mid January, I reached out to a friend that I great admire, Brooke. I linked her blog above, but here it is again.

She is a marathon runner, weight lifter, body building, healthy eating, mama of 2, who has been in school, raising two kids, decorating her home, and being incredibly busy with her beautiful family. She has an amazing figure, but really, she is one of those women who inspires everybody that comes into contact with her!

Anyway, she turned me on to learning how to lift weights, and because of her, I started researching everything about strength training and the best cardio for fat loss.

I haven't been weighing myself, but I have been taking progress pictures, and when I reach 8 weeks, I will post them. AHHH, thats super scary for me!

In just four weeks, though, my body has already changed. For the first time in almost 3 years. My legs are already toned. I have lost inches around my tummy. I feel amazing...most importantly. I am getting strong again! I can do 25 perfect straight legged pushups in one minute...I can't wait to see how many I can do in 4 more weeks!

I am so thankful for women like Brooke, for because of her, I am actually loving exercising again. I don't want to miss one day!

And because of the research I did, I learned you don't have to kill yourself doing an hour or more of cardio on a machine! Which is GREAT, because I HATE cardio machines!

After I lift weights, 3 times a week, I walk on an incline on the treadmill for 20 minutes. I can walk on the highest incline for 10 minutes now, at 3.2. Think that sounds easy? Try it! I walk on the highest incline til I lower it a little, while increasing the speed, and I only do that for 20 minutes (total). Some days, I switch it up for the stair master, and do intervals on that! No wonder my legs are looking so toned lately!

On the other 3 days, I do high intensity interval training. I run 6, 30 second sprints ( running as fast as I can) and rest for 2-3 minutes in between. My goal is to up my sprint time, and up my distance as well. (I want my sprint time to be 1 min, resting 2-3 minutes, and my distance to be 2 miles)

Two other days a week, I've also been doing zumba with some girls for church. I'm not gonna say I love it, but I do love being around other people, and the class itself is ok.
I think I just don't love it, because I actually used to do latin dance and teach some basic classes, so it just makes me want to REALLY go dancing...plus, I've never been an aerobics girl, despite my dance background. But, I am naturally sociable, so its still enjoyable for me. I will say its ALOT easier than walking on the highest incline on the treadmill or running sprints!

So, basically, I lift 3 times a week, do HIIT 3 times a week, and I do run once a week, as another goal is to be able to run at least 3 miles in 30 minutes. And of course Zumba. Clean eating, and making sure my fat intake stays between 20-30 percent of my diet.

I am going to start checking in once a week, so I have some added accountability. Fitness Friday perhaps?

Lastly, thank you for reading this far. I know it was long and poorly written.

a little update

Well, it certainly has been a while.

All is well here in the Stephens household. My oldest sister, Angela, was here for about 3 months, and she left back to California in mid January. We definitely miss having her. She was such a great help and comfort to me and Bela while Chris is deployed.

While she was here, in support of her eating disorder recovery, I did not exercise or have health food in the house. This was agreed upon, before her visit, between me and her therapists, as these types of things can trigger someone so new in their recovery.

Alot of people do not understand this rationale, and its okay because you don't have to. Ever since 1992, I've been living with a sister who has had anorexia. I have visited her in more than 19 hospitals, I've seen her at 50 lbs, I've seen her so close to death, so many times.

Before she entered this treatment center, she was very sick. So sick that she passed out in the middle of the supermarket, and had to be rushed to the hospital. Where once again, she was told that she would die. We quickly found a place that would take her in, a treatment center vs a crappy medical hospital program, and flew her out before she would be court forced into the local hospital.

And for 2 years, she was at an amazing place that would not let her go. Would not let her quit. And because of their dedication and commitment to her, she is not at the highest part of her recovery. I have never in my life, seen her so well, so healthy, so beautiful!

So, I made the decision to go along with her treatment facility rules of: no health food or diet food in the home, no talking about diet or exercise, and no exercising around her.

I am SO glad that I made this sacrifice for only 3 months. During these 3 months, I got to know my real sister. Outside of her disease. One that I haven't known, talked with, played with, since I was 8 years old.

It was such a joyous and fleeting moment of my life, but I am thankful for every single moment of it.

Now, Angela has been given a wonderful employment opportunity by the same treatment center that has brought her to this place in her recovery. I have hope and faith that she will continue to live in recovery and live a very happy and full life.

My dearest older sister. We love her SO much!