The Aftermath - WE WILL REBUILD!!!

Today, a full 2 years after I wrote this, I am finally releasing it. Y’all the aftermath is real. And it continues:

I always expected to just "snap back" after the cancer was out of my body. I expected to just jump up, put my pearls on and PUSH THROUGH. My mind and my heart and my will are CLEARLY stronger than my body. 

I decided that 3 workdays off (5 total days including a weekend) was "enough" recoup time for a double mastectomy, and 2 workdays off for reconstruction would be just fine. Working keeps my mind off of the mess that cancer left me with. 

This is where I get on my "WHERE IS THE AFTER CARE!?!" Soapbox... I am trying to just get back to normal with my job, grow my hair back, lose the treatment weight, plan a wedding, coach fitness classes.... NO BIGGIE, RIGHT!?!?! But, I have never, in my life, felt so fatigued or depressed. (maybe DURING chemo), but you have support systems during chemo. And when the cancer and chemo don't kill you - and you SURVIVE - you are locked out of the house without a key. Not even a packet or handout that says, "Call here for help getting your life back..." And without fail, at least a hundred times, you will hear, "Welcome to your "new normal". Hey... guess what... I don't want this "New normal"!!! Then you get called ungrateful or made to feel guilty because you should "just be thankful you are alive."

I seriously had to contact two agencies just to know WHERE TO GO to get bras after mastectomy and reconstruction. Picture this: I have incisions from sternum to armpit and I am an emotional wreck (from all of the meds to kill my estrogen and lack of sleep), so I am SOBBING in a blood-stained surgical bra with no idea where to go. I messaged my friend at Remember Betty (God bless her for dealing with my crazy emotions), and she referred me to a sister organization A World of Pink in New York that helped me get into bras that fit, as well as breast forms. But y'all... these two organizations aren't local... they aren't even in my state! 

Chemo, Surgery, Radiation, Hormone Therapy - all of them WRECK YOUR BODY and it takes a huge toll on your mind. It isn't a "push through" type of deal anymore. Like I need ACTUAL SUPPORT and DIRECTION.. and the oncologist sends you to your PCP and the PCP sends you back to the Oncologist - and everyone says, "Diet and Exercise - this is your new normal". I don't know the answer - if I did, I wouldn't be crying on the daily. I do know needs though... and I think the following things should just be standard for after-care: Individual and family therapy, Nutrition programs, Modified exercise programs, support groups, resources for medical supplies like bras or mastectomy clothes.

Just because cancer has been removed, doesn’t mean you are “healed” and can snap back just because the cancer is gone. It is a very long road.




Dear Boobs

It is mastectomy week. No lies, I have been a crying mess. I am prettttty sure I left tears and cry snot on row 5 at church yesterday. I am trying to cope with this impending loss and the unknown that comes along with a double mastectomy. I came across "The Dear Boobs Project" on Facebook, and felt like I should participate. I wrote a "Dear Jane" letter of sorts to my boobs. I know, weird...right!? But hey... I have never done things "normal" per-se. I wanted to share this letter with all of you. I hope that someone that has to walk this breast cancer journey will identify with my experience, and if it helps one woman, it was worth sharing. Thank you all for the prayers and encouragement as well as the physical and financial support from my family and friends. I am so grateful. I appreciate everyone loving me through this journey. 

Love Y'all!!!!


Dear Boobs,

It is 3 days before my double mastectomy to remove you… and I have to admit, although you are trying to kill me… it is hard to go through this process… and just be ok with amputating you.  And honestly, as I typed that… I realized that is the pattern I followed a big portion of my life… refusing to let go. Many of my life-lessons involve coping with “loss” and this is another one of those. Loss of people, loss of control, loss of things in my life that seemed important, loss of relationships and now the loss of you… “just boobs”… mounds of fat and flesh… nothing that can’t be replaced according to others views. But to me, it is a loss that I am mourning a bit.

This weekend, I kept thinking, “This is my last weekend with my boobs”. Not like I am going to do anything differently with or without boobs – but the unknown freaks me out a bit. So does the loss of my nipples. It is a hard pill to swallow to lose something that “symbolizes” being a woman being taken in just a couple of hours of surgery. This entire journey with you has been pretty wild. 39 years and some months you have been a part of my body and I just have to cut you off. Right now, nothing makes it easy to deal with, nothing. I am pissed, sad and tired of treatment and KNOW that I have to get rid of you to save my life. I am having to use all of the other “things” that make me a woman: Grace, Strength, Courage, Humor and above all FAITH to fight off the negative thoughts and the fear of this loss.

I remember being ridiculed in 3rd grade when you grew faster than the other kids and the boys snapped my bra. I hated you then… why do I want to keep you now?

I remember being thankful I had you when I was 14 and wanted to pick out the cute swimsuits, but got frustrated when you were to big to fit in my homecoming dress.

I remember having to have a special piece in my wedding dress to cover the cleavage that I always seemed to have.

I remember you swelling to monumental size when I was pregnant (19 years ago!?!?!) and then shoving cabbage leaves in my bra when you got engorged after having my beautiful baby.

I remember feeling let down as gravity took its course after having a child…and your stretch marks showed up.

I remember gaining weight after a divorce and during a rough 2nd marriage and you grew big again – my bras looked like hats. You were heavy and needed so much support, but I rocked you!

I remember you shrinking down to nothing after I lost 149 lbs in 2015 on Extreme Weight Loss. I threw away all of the big bras and stared sadly and the droopy skin on my chest. I wished for “new boobs”. I kept you tucked away in sports bras all of the time. I went to 2 surgeons to ask about implants.

I remember December 19, 2016 – I felt the lump. I was gripped by fear at the ping pong ball in my chest – protruding out of my pale boob skin. I made friends, family, doctors look and feel and give their opinion. I went and got a mammogram and biopsy. I flashed you more than you have ever been flashed before. Pulling you out of my bra and putting you under pink capes, getting squished and poked and prodded became the norm for a while. January 24th 2017 was your “judgement day”. I heard, “Invasive Ductal Carcinoma” “Tumor Grade 3 of 3”, “4cm”, “Hormone positive”, “Double mastectomy”. It was a no-brainer. I would HAVE to say goodbye to you. I have to much life to live – a son that was graduating high school, an amazing man I was about to marry, I couldn’t let you get in the way of that. You must go to save my life…because it is a REALLY GOOD LIFE!!!! I am sorry you can’t go along with us.

I remember being thankful for the Extreme Weight Loss process – because it prepared me for this journey, somewhat. I wouldn’t have felt the tumor if I was still in the DDD bras. You COULD HAVE killed me. Not only I am thankful for finding the tumor, but I also got a taste of what the flat chested life is like – and until I get reconstruction, I will just keep telling myself I have hidden my chest before, I have been disappointed with my boobs before, but most of all: I AM DOING THIS TO SAVE MY LIFE.

Boobs, it has been a good run. Thanks for the memories. I am sorry that I have to cut you out of my future… but it must be done to save my life. Saving boobs is never worth losing my life. Ta-ta… (pun intended 😉)



The Cost of Cancer

I have wrestled with writing this, because it is a hard reality that stares me down daily as I continue on my cancer journey. I struggle with some areas more than others, and I want to encourage those WITH cancer that you are not alone... and to the people that love someone with cancer - I want to share how you can support your loved ones on this journey. So I am going to get super vulnerable and super real in this particular blog. I am writing this on the day that my amazing fiance and friends have set up a benefit in my honor... (which makes me SUPER uncomfortable - because I hate admitting that I need help or accepting help)... this is a common trend in my life - I am super independent and am pretty sure "let ME do it!!" was a common staple in my childhood vocabulary. Help me is not a phrase I like to use.... and I don't pull it out until I REALLY need it - so if I ask for help - you can bet your butt that I truly need it. I have found out (the hard way) that the cost of cancer isn't just about money. And paying the toll of this ruthless disease will often leave you crying and praying on the floor... begging God to take it from you. I have never in my life identified so much with the life of Job until now. I am going to try to explain from my experience the best I can - but it sorta seems like a reverse of the "priceless" credit card commercials! LOL

Money - Money is up front because it is the easiest to explain. I literally decided to write this blog on the day of my very last chemo - because I woke up that day to my electricity being cut off. I was embarrassed to tell my son why we didn't have light or AC - and I had to squint in my dark bathroom to get lidocane on my port so I could get to chemo on time despite not having electricity. You can BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR that cancer is going to cost you money. What insurance DOESN'T cover adds up - "I am sorry, but a PET scan isn't covered by your insurance... so we can't tell you if or where the cancer has spread.", "You need to take this Claritin (OTC) to prevent the bone pain this life-saving chemo medication is about to cause you." All of the little medical things that you NEED but aren't covered add up. Plus, stuff RADICALLY changes - and it will cost you money. You will need to crank the AC because of hot flashes $$, You will need new clothes because of surgery or weight gain or loss from treatment $$, You will need healthy food to fill your fridge and fuel your body $$, And you may need to pay someone to do the things you physically can't if you don't have someone to help (yard, car, house repairs, cleaning). You may lose your job or extra income (I had to quit coaching - which not only broke my heart, but took my extra income). AND REGULAR LIFE STILL GOES ON - My son graduated this year - hands up from all of the senior mammas that have had THAT expense!?!? CHA-CHING, Also, had my AC mess up twice $$, Bathrooms re-done $$ and child support end all within the same 6 months. My kiddo starts college this month.... Real life happens. Cancer doesn't exempt you from normal or abnormal expenses. So for everyone that keeps trying to sell me stuff... THIS IS WHY I KEEP TELLING YOU NO!!!! ;) 

TIME - Cancer will eat your time. I have spent so much time in doctors offices and infusion chairs in the last 7 months... but it goes deeper than that. Cancer takes quality time from your loved ones. When your kid stands by your bed while you cry in pain instead of going on a vacation with you, Or your "date" with your fiance ends up being him watching the doctor touch your boobs then going to eat pho, or time with your friends is you apologizing for not being able to stay longer or do what you used to because you are exhausted. You miss holiday stuff because you are sick (I legit do NOT even remember Easter). You desperately want to be invited to everything, but feel guilty when you can't attend everything. Cherish your time. Time spent on your loved one with cancer (even if it is just a few minutes for a call or text) will ALWAYS be appreciated and cherished.

Your Body - This one gets me. I worked SO HARD to get a healthy body. Cancer is a jerk. It takes and takes. I have paid a LOT in this department. Chemo is like putting drano or bleach directly into your veins. It not only kills the cancer cells - it kills good stuff too. The drugs used to accompany the chemo (steroids) will do a number on your body as well (weight gain... ugh). I thought "losing my hair" would be such a big deal... and such a big loss. After all of the other things cancer has taken/will take - hair is nothing. I am freaked that I will be losing my nipples... I know, weird. But it really, really bothers me. I am also sorta sad that I am being thrown into menopause... not that I wanted more kids... but just having to give that up because of cancer is a heavy blow. Dear Cancer, You can have my hair, my size smalls, my breasts, my ovaries, my lashes and brows and vibrant skin, you can have my energy and all of the cries in pain that you brought on, but you CAN NOT HAVE ME!!!!!!!! Because cancer has changed so much stuff in my body, I am obviously struggling. I want to look a certain way. I want to feel a certain way. But I don't. And right now I can't. What I CAN do is eat healthy and be as active as possible (which means less active than I am used to...but still moving!)

Mind - Cancer will play tricks on your mind. Chemo brain is real. You will forget things. "What day is it?" and "What was I doing?" are questions you will ask yourself often. You will struggle with your worth. You will feel like you are "losing your SH*&" several times a week or even several times per day. You will need to see a counselor, but with money being tight to save your life - and time being tight because you are trying not to lose your job, you just make sure your kid gets counseling and you skip it on yourself - which can seriously add to the "cancer crazy" going on in your head. For me, anger has been my go-to throughout this journey - but it will be a rollercoaster in your head... so my advice is this: Get out of your "head" when you can - I look at sunrises, sunsets and stars to remind me to "look up" in this journey. I also take bubblebaths and walks to get out of my head. 

Your relationships - This journey is not for everyone. You will lose friends. Some people will get pissed that you are "different". You ARE different - you will doubt yourself, you will doubt others' loyalty to you. You feel like a burden to those around you. You feel like you are taking to much from relationships and not putting enough in. Your treatments may be to heavy for your friends or family to carry. You will have family members and friends that just need to take a "backseat" until this cancer stuff is over. Some people can't handle it - and that is OK. For every one that can't handle it - you will have two that can. Surround yourself with the ones that CAN handle it and give everyone else grace. Try not to get your feelings hurt when you aren't invited to things or if people don't call to check on you. Be grateful for the ones that DO! :) And if your friend or family member with cancer doesn't call to check on you - or call just because - see the section above... they likely don't even remember what day it is. Grace goes a long way in relationships. 

So although the cost of cancer is huge and you have to trade in a lot of stuff to have your life... Cancer cannot take your faith, your spirit, your laughter, your peace (unless you let it), your JOY or the essence of WHO YOU ARE! Cancer can GIVE YOU - perspective, a new opportunity to make a bucket list and check stuff off, a fight that you can win!!!! Cancer can't have ME. Put your pearls on and PUSH THROUGH!!!!




When You Lose Your "Super Powers"

So, I guess this is the part when "Sh*&T gets real". I have been able to juggle a lot (being a single-mom, working full time, coaching part time, being active in my non-profit, still make time to work on my self spiritually and physically by praying, working out and meal prepping. And somehow made time hang with friends and family.) I truly felt like I embodied Wonder Woman. I could do anything. THEN cancer hit. I was like, "yeah... I got this... I am GOOD!" But slowly, started putting things down... coaching... non-profit... each time feeling like I have failed at something... like I am losing my super-powers. It hit me hardest last week as I was trying to prepare for Mason's high school graduation... I used to work-out for HOURS a day... and now I can't pick-up a case of water because my back hurts so bad... I can't try on clothes without getting winded. I have these crazy bursts a few times a week where I box or go to trampoline class or walk a few miles... but I am definitely weaker (and it pisses me off). 

The oncologist told me I would likely "feel" the cumulative effects of the chemo around the 6th treatment of my 2nd round... My doc was right... I get my 7th treatment tomorrow and I feel completely exhausted. It takes every single ounce of energy and focus (and a crap-ton of caffeine) to complete my work and basic stuff like showering. I want SO BAD to be able to go to the gym and not have to worry about germs so I can box with my friends. I want to be able to have more energy to cook amazing meals for my son and fiance without having to "save energy"  or crash afterwards to do so. If money wasn't an issue, I would take Fridays and Mondays off so I could actually take meds and sleep through the chemo effects instead of working through pain. It feels like every day I lose another "super-power". I try to celebrate events with friends and I wonder if they are disappointed that I am sitting like a log instead of interacting because is really hard to ignore the searing pain in my body that just doesn't go away now. 

I am feeling more lonely and depressed than ever - and I don't know if it is the steroids, the toxins from the chemo, the lack of sunshine and movement because of the illness, not sleeping more than 3 hours at a time because of insane night sweats and pain,  being left behind by people that used to check on me, the bad thoughts about myself because of the hair loss and weight gain from treatment or a mixture of all of it. When people say, "You don't understand unless you have felt it..." it is so true.... I thought I understood... I thought I was prepared for this journey... I thought I would be the one to get through this with flying colors. But truth is, it is hard. I wasn't prepared, I cry daily. I am limited and mad about it. I fake a lot of smiles, I overdo it and push past my own limits on the regular. I HATE to complain so this little blurb was hard to write. 

Here is the cool part though.... I am strong in my faith, I KNOW how my story will end. I know where my strength comes from (I have to beg for renewed strength daily), I may be in a valley, but I know He won't leave me here - AND he has provided many "flowers" in this valley:  He has sent amazing angel friends that leave toilet paper and water on my front porch and text me hilarious things to keep my spirits up, my wonderful son and fiance that love on me when I am at my worst (and still make me coffee ;) ), He has sent the best oncologist and chemo nurses ever to help me fight and cheer me on. He gave me the best family that will just stop by and weed my flowerbed (thanks Aunt Beth), or paint a beautiful picture (thanks to my lovely niece) or just remind me that I am loved and prayed for... and maybe I really didn't LOSE my super-powers after all... because the power wasn't mine to begin with... it is HIS... and He is the one in control. (But you BETTER BELIEVE I am praying He gives me super-natural energy super-powers... cause momma is tired ;) )



Finding Grace in the "Middle"

If you know me, you know that I have always been a very ALL or NOTHING, BLACK or WHITE, IN or OUT, NO IN-BETWEEN type of person. I am usually going 90 mph. all of the time, juggling everything. That is ME. That is how I operate. 

Being limited frustrates me. Being underestimated frustrates me MORE. I believe I CAN and WILL do ANYTHING I set my mind to. I can "put my pearls on and PUSH THROUGH" ANYTHING... right!? 

Cancer has put me "in the middle"... Let me explain: I am physically limited by this disease. I can't "go hard" like I am used to... but I refuse to "sit out" completely... so I am "in the middle". I can't juggle things like I used to: a full time job, traveling 1 week out of each month several times a year, all of my mom-duties in raising my son, housework, a non-profit, family time, friendships, community things, house repairs, workouts, coaching, etc. I have had to take some of those things off my plate to fit in chemo and cancer stuff - and therefore, here I am... "in the middle". Even when people ask me the dreaded question, "How do you feel?" - I want to just answer, "In the middle" because let me give you the reality: On chemo - I don't feel good. I will answer, "fine." or "okay." and that is me sitting in the middle - and really being fake with you. I feel like crap. I feel limited. I have ridiculous pain. I am struggling with crazy stuff that I never thought I would have to... but, I am not flat on my back - I am still standing and functioning - so I am "in the middle".

The middle is not a comfortable place for me. To me, it feels like complacency.  I want to be ALL IN, I want to GO HARD, I want to be at every family event, I want to be able to juggle like normal and do everything and not even flinch. Through this journey, I have realized I don't have grace for myself. I EXPECT myself to be 100% all of the time. I am my own worst critic and I hold myself to an unrealistic standard. 

I have prayed for God to meet me here in the middle. To give me grace for myself like I have for others, to help me to let go and be still. (I suck at that part.... being STILL is the worst!!!) I have found that He equips me every single day. I am making it. I am surviving. I may or may not be 100% on any given day, but His LOVE and GRACE for me is always 100%. 

This journey is definitely teaching me PATIENCE and GRACE (two things I was lacking). This is a time that I am being refined in my character and spirit. It is not the funnest experience... trust me... But I am excited to see what God does in this season. I am blessed beyond measure... even when I am in the middle.... ESPECIALLY when I am in the middle. 



Round 4 With The Red Devil

I knew cancer wouldn't be pretty. I heard that AC or "The Red Devil" Chemo was the worst. I know that no matter how much I tried to prepare for this... I wouldn't be prepared. I had to have 4 dose-dense treatments of AC. The first 2 seemed somewhat manageable (horrible... but manageable.) My third dose knocked me down quite a bit. The morning of my last round of Red Devil I was a crying mess. The only way I can describe the feeling in me is to tell you to imagine the worst pain you have ever experienced... childbirth? a surgery? an injury? Get that in your mind... Now, imagine that painful experience happening every-other-Friday. You know when it is going to happen, you know how bad it is gonna hurt and the only way is THROUGH it. This Friday I was scared of the pain that was about to happen... Especially, because it was a BIG WEEKEND for Mason... PROM... I don't want cancer to dull my kid's life. 

They say "You win some, you lose some", and Chemo won this round. I am sick. I can smell everything (including people standing too close in the check-out at the grocery store (gross) I for real had to check my pits in Target one day to make sure it wasn't me.. because I EASILY could have been me since showers are literally painful after chemo.) I can't taste anything (unless it is over the top spicy or salty), The nausea, pain and fatigue have held on much longer this time. The toxins are making my fingernails hideous, and essentially just tearing my body up! 

BUT... God. He is here. He has walked this road before me. Although this year has been tough. And my circumstances aren't my favorite right now... I am reminded (especially at Easter) that God sent his son Jesus to suffer the worst pain imaginable... to feel the most lonely anyone has ever felt... for me... and for HIS Glory. My Nana and Paw-Paw (who are in Heaven together right now) always told me how much God loved me and that WITH HIM I can get through ANYTHING. I watched my Nana go through a terrible illness with FAITH and STRENGTH and FIGHT. I pray that I live up to her legacy... and that God works through this circumstance for His Glory. 

I also learned with this 4th round that my BOUNDARIES need to be LEGIT. I have adopted a "no extra" policy. I am a mom of a senior in high school, I am an employee (an executive assistant to a CVO of an amazing company), I am a homeowner, I am a fiance to an amazing man, I am a friend, I am a mentor, I wear a lot of "hats". Several of those things are full-time gigs that take so much energy and work. When cancer and chemo are added to the mix, it makes for a really stressful life if we allow any "extra". What I consider "extra": Any unhealthy relationships, Any person that is argumentative or negative just for the sake of being right, Any type of item that you want to "sell" me... (I have researched what helps cancer... and my doctor has to approve everything... so pleasssseeeee, for the love, don't try to sell me your supplements or products or insert what you are selling here: _________________________. It is "extra" and I don't need it. I am fighting for my life. I don't have time or energy for sales pitches. If there is something I want or need - I will buy it or ask for it. It has been pretty freeing to cut out everything "extra". I would recommend boundaries to everyone. There are literally times that Tom or Mason and I have a discussion and just say, "no extra" - and then we delete, say no, set a boundary or just remove or dismiss the "extra". 

The journey is weird. Mine isn't like anyone else's. I will make my own mistakes, I will live and learn, I will make great choices and terrible choices, I will feel great and I will feel terrible. But the cool thing is, this is a season...and I am looking forward to fruit that it bears in the future. Thank you all that have invested time, resources and prayers into me and my family during this crazy time. I appreciate you so much more than you know. HAPPY EASTER!!!! 

Behind the Cancer Curtain

I have never been one to mince words. I am about at REAL as it gets... but being real about cancer can get tough. I hate to complain. I hate to whine. So when people say, "How to do you feel?" I cringe. Do you want my REAL answer or my "fake it till I make it answer?" (FYI.. I HATE GIVING THE FAKE ANSWERS!) Real answer: I feel like hell. I am weak, exhausted and pretty barfy. I am craving weird crap and gag at the thought or mention of cheese. I feel like being bald makes my hips look bigger and I am trying to deal with the effects that chemo and steroids are having on my body without completely losing my shit.. and it isn't going great right this second. I am juggling my job, raising a MAN (who graduates from high school in a couple of months), trying not to fail as a fiance to the best guy ever, plus trying to keep the dishes done and wear clean panties and still smile. Fake answer: I'm ok.  I have found that cancer makes it hard for ALL OF US to know what to say... You don't know what to ask, and I don't know how to answer - and we all end up in this crazy unspoken alternate universe where I am saying, "I'm ok." and you are saying, "You got this." 

Well, I am going to let you in. I am gonna give crazy of the cuff realness. I will answer your weird questions. I will gladly give tips on what to say and what is going on behind the scenes of what cancer is like in my world (DISCLAIMER: EVERY ONE'S CANCER JOURNEY IS DIFFERENT - SO...DON'T EXPECT ALL CANCER PEEPS TO BE AS CRAZY AS ME....I personally am not the pink-ribbon wearing, breast cancer awareness gal... I just can't be that right now...) 

When you don't know what to say or do:

FIRST AND FOREMOST: IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY... It is OK to say, "I don't know what to say..."

1. Cancer is pretty lonely - just saying, "You are brave." "You are loved." means SO much. Texts, FB messages, Post it notes, Cards in the mail, Outings any way that you can SHOW UP for the person is helpful. 

2. When you say, "Call if you need something" -  I am just gonna say it... I am not gonna call. I am a stubborn, obstinate and independent person. I hate asking for help. HATE IT!!! So if you offer something specific... "Can I bring you something from the store?", "Do you have laundry I can fold?" I will take you up on it... But if I call because I need something, that is sheer desperation, because I don't ask. 

3. Permission to be pissy - Roid rage is real. I don't know what is worse - chemo drugs or steroids that go along with it... They make me super crazy. Chemo and steroids make simple tasks huge ordeals (shopping, cleaning, getting showered and dressed) so extra effort makes the roid snaps happen a little quicker. All I ask is that if I snap, or gripe or vent - please just give me a pass for now. We will hopefully remain friends and laugh about this later.

4. Hair loss - Everyone deals with this different. I am ok bald (except the making my hips look bigger part). But saying, "Not everyone loses their hair on chemo..." gives false hope and gets really annoying. Let's just say, "You are gonna look beautiful no matter what hairstyle you have." And for the love, PLEASE ask before you touch someone's bald head. And remember, even though they seem like they are confident - you never know what is going on in their heart and mind. Sensitivity and kindness go a long way.

5. Hugs: I get asked ALL OF THE TIME, "Can I hug you?" - I like hugs. Yes, you can hug me! UNLESS: You are sick (I can't risk getting your germs) OR It is 2-4 days post chemo and you want to hug me or pat me hard (I can't tell you how bad my joints and even my SKIN hurt after chemo) - be easy! 

6. What is your stage/prognosis/who is your doctor? - I had someone ask me, "What is your prognosis?" I legit almost said, "Death!" (because we are ALL gonna die!!! heck, I could be hit by a bus tomorrow!!!) There are some questions that lead to unsolicited medical advice - or google links about your cancer and how to treat it. SO, those three questions - I really don't answer unless you are a family member or very close friend. 

I have said it before, cancer is so weird. I have never felt so alone and supported at the same time. My best advice for dealing with a loved one's cancer is this: Be positive! Show up for them! Make them laugh! Don't expect them to call if they need something - if you see a need and you can help - just do it.. they will appreciate it! Give them permission to be pissy every now and then! Don't give unsolicited medical advice! Love on them as much as you can! Support their family members that have to see the daily stuff! and when in doubt... MAKE THEM LAUGH!!! I can't say that one enough... Laughter is amazing... and healing! 



My HERO!!!! 

My HERO!!!! 

After Chemo SUUUUCKS!!!!! 

After Chemo SUUUUCKS!!!!! 

But for real...

But for real...

Drop Expectations - Embrace Your Journey

I have always put very high expectations on myself, and on others. I finally felt like over the last year, I was letting some of that go... giving grace. Expecting the unexpected. Living my mission in joy! 

Then... December 2016... I wasn't feeling well - it actually started close to my last post. I came home from my 3rd business trip within 3 months and felt like I had gotten the flu. Two weeks of straight up misery and after finally feeling better, the Monday before Christmas (December 19th to be exact), I felt a lump in my breast. I EXPECTED this to be nothing. I EXPECTED this to be a cyst. I EXPECTED the doctor would say, "It is a swollen gland, go home.. take this medicine."

But the lump triggered a series of exam, diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy... which finally led to a phone call that I did NOT EXPECT... January 24, 2017... on a random afternoon... "Tiffany... you have cancer. Invasive ductal carcinoma." A 4 cm. mass was aggressively rocking my world. I just met the love of my life in August, my son is graduating from high school this year... I have a full time job... I do NOT have time for cancer!!! 

I started the expectation game again... I EXPECTED more out of myself - to have energy to maintain workouts and keep my house clean, to eat only plant-based meals, to be one of the "lucky ones" to keep my hair through chemo. I realized real quick that I not only had to drop the EXPECTATIONS of myself, but also the EXPECTATION of what cancer would do, how I would feel, or what would happen. No lies... cancer is a bitch. chemo is a bitch. steroids are bitches too. I just lost my hair this week. I have eaten cake twice this week, and I am not only too exhausted to work-out, I am not allowed to get my heart rate up to my fat burning rate with the type of chemo I am on. 

I also had to change my expectations of people... because they will surprise you every single time. My son and fiance (oh wait, did I tell you I AM ENGAGED... yeah.. so there is that!) have blown me away with their love, encouragement and spirit. They have FAR EXCEEDED EVERY SINGLE EXPECTATION I have had. There have also been people that showed up with support and love when I least EXPECTED! I also had to deal with the disappointment of expecting people to understand cancer.

I am going to be the first to tell you... CANCER IS WEIRD! This journey is NOT what I expected...I didn't EXPECT to be fighting cancer before the age of 40. I didn't expect the questions, the stares, the people who want to be in my life because I have cancer, the ones who don't and the ones who stay in spite of it. YOU CAN NOT PREDICT or EXPECT things to happen in a certain way or order. I had 2 months to "prepare" myself for chemo - just to realize that you have NO IDEA unless you experience it. The crazy strength it takes to just fight for normalcy. The pain. The fear. The loss. BUT....God. He is here... in the midst of my illness, in the midst of my exhaustion. I have faith. My faith doesn't remove the fear... but it helps me fight it. It makes me have hope that cancer can be used to help others. 

The last 3 months have been a ROLLER COASTER!!!! I after the cancer diagnosis came treatment plans, then my paw-paw passed away, then chemo port was installed, the treatments started, I got engaged... There are peaks.. and valleys... There is immeasurable pain mixed with immeasurable joy and gratitude. What is the best thing about a roller coaster? NO EXPECTATION except that you will get off of it with a story to tell.... Once I dropped the expectation of the dips and turns and ups and downs of this journey... I threw my hands up in the air... and embraced the ride... I felt free. God is the navigator of this journey. He knows every dip and turn. He has got this. 

I came to the realization of something a couple of months ago: My mission is to encourage and inspire those facing adversity by sharing my story and leading by example. I can not live my mission without facing adversity myself. I hope that I can encourage and inspire you. Blessing and hugs to you all! 



Hiding Out

Nothing positive comes from guilt and shame and hiding. I know this now... but man, it has been a very hard lesson to learn.

I cleaned out a closet this weekend. A closet that hasn't been touched in 8 years. A "hoarder spot" in my house. For 8 years, I piled stuff in.. turned off the light and shut the door. I would pull something out every now and then, but for the most part, it was a "dirty little secret" a place of my house no one would EVER get to see. My house looks normal from the outside, common areas clean and tidy and inviting for family and company. But that closet... it gave me anxiety knowing what was behind that door... I didn't want to deal with it... the thought of facing the daunting task of cleaning and organizing it made me feel queasy.. and a little scared.. What if I couldn't do it? What if I couldn't finish this project? What if someone SEES inside this closet!?! That feeling in my gut was familiar... and the feeling that tells me, "Tiffany... do it. Go for comfortable getting uncomfortable." 

Piece by piece, and box by box I pulled things out. Trash mixed with memories and childhood things, stuff that was useless and like four glue guns! LOL I would stop every now and then to look at pictures or hold something Mason or Christian had made for me and cry. It was a rollercoaster of excitement and frustration, with great hope of an organized and tidy space. I cleared 4 bags of trash, donated an equal amount and lovingly packed and organized the rest. 

In all of this, I found that the closet was a great parallel for many things in my life. Pretty with and perfectly normal on the outside - with absolute chaos on the inside. Getting real, getting vulnerable, showing inside my "closet" is necessary to de-clutter, heal, and move forward. It is humiliating to share with everyone what that closet looked like - some of my closest friends had NO IDEA what was behind that door. I was so ashamed... but l had to realize on my own that hiding out and being embarrassed about a little junk was holding me back. No one could clean it out for me. I HAD to face it head on. I am glad I did.

What chaos is in your "closet"? Can you get real and clean the "junk" out? Is hiding the contents of your "closet" making you feel better or worse? The process and the journey can be painstaking.. but always, ALWAYS worth the effort.



Closet "Before"

Closet "Before"

Closet "During" - LOOK! There is the floor!!! And MASON! :) 

Closet "During" - LOOK! There is the floor!!! And MASON! :) 

Closet "After"

Closet "After"

Focus. Focus. Focus.

It is so easy to lose focus, which can lead to lost motivation and not achieving goals. It has been an entire year since I filmed my finale. I have done a lot of thinking on HOW I got big and HOW I lost weight and it all comes down to what and WHO I focus on.

For me, relationships are a huge part of what makes me tick... relationships with God, my son, friends, family, co-workers, people at church... etc. I have found out about myself that I stay in unhealthy relationships (friendships or romantic relationships) too long before I take care of me, walk away and refocus. Unhealthy relationships are tied to food for me, and as weird as it sounds - that is how I can gauge how a friendship or a romantic relationship is going... if I binge or restrict my food more around a person, or I feel like the way they perceive me or talk about me is negative... I lose focus... I go on a rabbit trail of pleasing that person and step out of what I need to be focusing on. On the other side of that coin, I have amazing and supportive friends and family and cast mates that keep me on track... and during my year of transformation, that circle was very small. It was only a few that could handle me on low carb days and my crazy workout schedule.

So PRESENT DAY, I got out of a very unhealthy romantic relationship (that I stayed in too long), I am focused on my relationship with God, but I have realized that I need to make my circle smaller. I need to invest in my son, WHO IS GOING TO BE A SENIOR NEXT YEAR!! (insert moment of panic), I need to nurture the healthy relationships in my life and allow the not so healthy ones to fade. I need to focus on not being such a "people pleaser" just to hang on to relationships that aren't healthy anyway.

Going back to tools from the show - Dr. Holly had us make a list of 3 types of people 1. People that are in your life that are positive and healthy for you, 2. People that HAVE to be in your life (like bosses, family members) that aren't so healthy for you and 3. People that are not positive or healthy for you that you do not need in your life. This exercise was very eye-opening for me then, and I am going to use it again. INVEST IN AND NURTURE the people under category 1, LIMIT TIME AND ENERGY on people in category 2 and CUT OUT the people under category 3. It sounds a little harsh huh? But truthfully, you have to save yourself first. By doing that exercise I was able to focus my energy and attention on those in my life that were there because they were genuine. And focus on my own health so I could help others.  To be honest, I wish I would have done this list exercise more over the last year and saved myself some "rabbit trails".

My new commitment is to do this exercise. Prioritize. FOCUS on my priorities. Set goals and hit them. My priorities are going back to basics. 1. God 2. Mason 3. Me 4. Everything else. It is OK and VERY HEALTHY to WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF BEFORE EVERYTHING ELSE!!!! I lost sight of this many times in my life (including this past year) and jumped through hoops for others (even at my own expense) in an attempt to "rescue" or "help" those that didn't even ask for it or want it. My "people pleasing" became a roadblock. TIME TO REFOCUS!!! :)




I have dealt with so many things since my finale... Loss of one job, Starting a new job, skin removal surgery on my thighs, a lot of traveling, changing therapists and other every-day issues. I let life creep up on me. I don't think I really started breaking promises to myself until The beginning of September. My mindset started getting the best of me. I started feeling lonely, unworthy, not good enough, like a failure.. those feelings naturally took their toll on my mind... After all, what you TELL YOURSELF is what you become. Day after day of negative thoughts turned into broken promises... lack of meal prep, skipping workouts and negative thinking. It has affected my body, my mind and my relationships. I have gained weight. I can see it in my hips and thighs. I can feel it and it scares the hell out of me. It takes everything in me not to resort to disordered eating (especially when a couple of my loved ones told me they could tell I have gained a little). So I did something crazy... I watched my episode. I reminded myself of WHO I WAS... WHO I AM NOW and WHO I DON'T WANT TO BE! I gained inspiration from that broken, jacked up girl that I was.. that girl who wanted SO BAD to be where I am now. The girl that PUSHED THROUGH so much to get to this place. I decided this week to RESET IT ALL. I will meal prep. I will go to therapy. I will work out. I will not tell myself that I am anything less than FREAKING AMAZING. I will start my morning in prayer. I will give 5 things I am grateful for everyday. I will be the best mom I can be to Mason and I will PUT MY PEARLS ON AND PUSH THROUGH this little rough patch by RESETTING MY MINDSET! If you are having a rough time... if you are feeling down... If something bad has happened in your life... if you feel lonely, rejected or sad... take 24 hours to wallow in it - feel those feelings then STAND UP... FIX YOUR FACE (ladies, put your lipstick on)...FIX YOUR ATTITUDE (it starts with GRATITUDE), PUNCH THAT RESET BUTTON and CHOOSE TO START NEW! DON'T STAY IN IT!!!! I wallowed a little too long... September to almost November... WASTED in a negative mindset. NO MORE!!! Today I CHOOSE to push through.



Birds of a Feather

This blog is tough to write for me because I am very much a "people-pleaser" and don't like hurting people's feelings. But, I have realized this about myself: I feed off of others - whether depressed, over-eating, exercising, positive, negative, etc. Whatever vibes those around me send out.. I pick-up.. and sometimes it is not a good thing.

You have heard the saying, "Birds of a feather flock together"? I believe that to be true in many ways. When you are a food addict... and you hang with other food addicts... the behaviors that come along with that are "ok" if you are SHARING the gallon of ice cream right?? Like alcoholism and drug addiction... if you hang out with addicts.. you stay in addiction.

I am VERY MUCH triggered by my friends or family that are food addicts. I had instances where people were in a different part of their journey than me and their struggle made me want to binge. I have tried helping people just to end up sabotaging my own progress.

The cool thing is... every day is a new chance to start new. To hang out with the "birds" that inspire you, encourage you, workout with you. Take a good look at where you are in your journey... including the company you keep. Is your "flock" of friends and family supporting you or are they sabotaging you? Can you love some people from afar while you work on yourself? Canyou cut some people out completely?

When I made a list of my support system vs. people that I had to cut from my life... I literally only came up with TWO people that completely could not stay in my life. The rest...I keep at arms length if needed and I don't miss a therapy session. Staying on track takes a "flock" of support. Choose your "flock" wisely! :)



The million dollar question: What do you eat?

Honestly, this question is usually the second question out of everyone's mouths after seeing me. First they ask, "HOW DID YOU DO IT!?!?!" then when I explain that I lost 149 pounds in one year with proper nutrition and exercise they ask, "WHAT DO YOU EAT!?!"  The answer is long... So it warranted its own blog post. (complete with pictures).

  • Carb Cycling - This ENTIRE year I have followed a carb cycling plan (Choose More, Lose More for Life by Chris Powell) specially designed for my nutritional needs. I have 3 low-carb days in a week and 4 high-carb days in a week.
  • Calories - I DO count my calories because I eat FIVE times per day! (YES 5!!!!) BUT I never count in my calories from plain green veggies (like celery, cucumbers, spinach, etc.) those are "free" My calorie intake has changed throughout the year but I usually comfortably sit at 1500 calories per day in maintenance.
  • Schedule - You have to stoke your metabolism like a fire so I eatMeal 1 thirty minutes upon waking andthe other meals every three hours thereafter... so if Meal 1 is at 6:30 am then meal 2 would be at 9:30 am, Meal 3 - 12:30 pm, Meal 4 - 3:30 pm and Meal 5 will be at 6:30 pm.
  • Tracking - TRACK YOUR FOOD!!!! I use a food tracker (like My Fitness Pal) to keep track of my meals and calories. Some people use food journals. ALSO track your PORTIONS!!! (I ALWAYS use my food scale, measuring cups, etc.)
  • Food Specifics - I eat protein at every meal. I eat fresh fruit, potatoes, rice or quinoa as my carbs, I eat lots of vegetables (Brussels sprouts are my fave), My favorite healthy fats are peanut butter, almonds, avocado and macadamia nut oil. I don't eat gluten and I eat VERY LITTLE dairy. I like my diet to be made up of as many whole/natural foods as possible.

Take a peek into my meal log... Here are two of my ACTUAL MEAL LOGS from when I was at Extreme Weight Loss Bootcamp last summer:

I also made a photo journal of what my food looks like on a High Carb day (Meals 1 - 5) and a Low Carb day (Meals 1 - 5)

HIGH CARB DAY - Meals 1 - 5


Carb cycling has worked so well for me.. and believe me, I have tried EVERYTHING in the past. I have a "reset day" on Monday where I eat 750 extra calories of ANYTHING I WANT... (that is when I eat whatever I have had cravings for that week... sushi or cake is usually my favorite thing on reset day :)  Best of luck on your journey!



Surrounded by Support

On any journey... you will need support. If you are embarking on a weight loss journey (especially if you have a significant amount to lose) You need to have your SUPPORT SYSTEM ON LOCK!!! Weight loss journeys can be the most tricky in finding a solid/consistent support system... because all of us are imperfect. Some people will not keep promises, could be jealous of your progress or could simply be a "negative Nancy". Dr. Holly Wyatt taught me a really cool trick in finding your support system. Make a chart with 3 columns:

  • Column 1 - list the people in your life that are GOOD FOR YOUR JOURNEY. These are the people that are supportive, positive and help you reach your goals. These people are your biggest cheerleaders and want you to succeed. (THIS IS YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM - KEEP THESE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE) - Add to this list as much as you can.
  • Column 2 - list the people that are NECESSARY in your life (it could be a spouse/parent/child or boss) but they are NOT good for your journey (for instance they are constantly negative or putting your down, they try to sabotage your weight loss efforts or talk about you behind your back), (These are people that you need in your life (you can't exactly FIRE your parent) so you will have to learn great coping strategies in dealing with these people during your journey - this is where I recommend therapy ;) for everyone!)
  • Column 3 - list the people that are NOT good for your journey and NOT necessary in your life - Their traits are the same as above ^^^^^ These are negative, jealous or sabotaging people but the difference is you have no ties to this person other than a "friendship". (THIS IS THE OPPOSITE OF YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM - YOU CAN CUT THESE PEOPLE OUT... BUH-BYE)

My list changed a lot throughout my year of transformation. Some people moved to different columns... people I thought were my friends... weren't. Don't be afraid to WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF, DO YOU, STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE and TAKE CARE OF YOUR NEEDS without worrying about others. THIS IS YOUR JOURNEY!!!!!!!!!!


Positivity breeds Positivity - Hang around POSITIVE and UPLIFTING people and it will rub off on you!!!! Most of all BE A POSITIVE PERSON so you have more people that WANT to support you!!! One of the most positive people I know is my sister-in-law Ashlei. Not only was she one of my biggest cheerleaders during my transformation.... but she also cheered me on being a special needs mom because she is a special needs teacher! She is empowering and beautiful. Go read her blog. here

More time with Family - I am BLESSED to have a VERY LARGE family!!!! I always have someone in my corner. My parents, step-parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephew and my AWESOME SON have been here for me not only the entire year but for life!

Use Social Media - Join weight loss groups, nutrition groups, follow cast members of Extreme Weight Loss or others on weight loss journeys!!! See the pictures from two of my AMAZING Facebook friends who cheer me on and even created their own "Pearls EWL Watch-parties"

Open your eyes to the world around you - The people you work with every day, the friends you meet at the gym, people you meet in the produce aisle!!! There are people that will be surprising resources and support.

Best of luck on your journey!!!! Blessings and hugs!!!!



Face your FEARS

They say every journey begins with a single step... but sometimes, the fear of taking the first step grips you so tight that you never move from where you are.

Last year, I took one step that led to many more toward a healthy life. I auditioned for Extreme Weight Loss. That step included being vulnerable, exposing my weakness, admitting prior defeat, asking for help, driving on ice to the open casting call two hours away from home, countless pages of paperwork, making videos for the casting team and basically being 100 percent honest and real. THAT WAS SCARY!!!! I was afraid. I was afraid of what others would think, how I would look, and that I would be judged for being fat. I was scared to show the real me. I wondered if people would like the real me. Little did I know that the first step was the first of many on this journey.

Being the parent of a child with autism, I am not new to fear... Autism parents deal with our children's anxiety and fears (sometimes over the top and unrealistic fears like toilets flushing, fear of germs, crowds or certain sounds)! We stay in schedules and routines to avoid change - and sometimes, it causes us to have our own fears (fear of meltdowns, fear of parenting wrong, fear of losing our minds!)

I am going to admit, I am sort-of a "fraidy cat". I'm the girl that has missed out several times because I won't take a risk because of fear. I was held back by fear in so many areas of my life. FEAR of change, FEAR of pain, FEAR of failure, FEAR of loss, FEAR of being hurt, FEAR of people not liking me, FEAR of being a bad mother, FEAR of food, FEAR of starting new things, and pretty much FEAR OF EVERYTHING!!!!!

One of the first statements Chris Powell ever said to me was, "Action conquers fear". Chris and Heidi have shown me many times that if you just take that FIRST STEP into that thing you fear.... when you ACT and you are IN THE THING YOU ARE AFRAID OF that the fear goes away!!!! And it is SO TRUE! So if it scares you a little bit....GOOD!!!!! ACTION CONQUERS FEAR!!!

I won't pretend that I have it 100% together and figured out, because I don't. I still try to push past fear every single day. (This week it was fear of box jumps and next week could be sky diving.. who knows!?!?) Some fears are greater than others and some fears hang on tight. My fear of food and slipping back into disordered eating is one I will probably continue to struggle with (therapy helps!), also my fear of dating and relationships (that one is tough...but I am working on it) Even my insane and unrealistic fear of crosswalks.... (yeah, I know it is weird) has gotten much better this year! :) :)  

My tips for pushing past fear: Find your mantra (see my blog post about finding it), Remind yourself that it is only scary at first - ACTION CONQUERS FEAR - once you are DOING what scares you your fear will turn into success, Do it more than once - (Extreme Weight Loss Season 4 Kenny O'Neal taught me this) ANYONE can push past fear once... but it takes someone brave to do it again and again! (THIS is how I got through box jumps at Red Rocks this week!!!! I had Kenny's voice in my head and some amazing cast mates and friends cheering me on! I did 4 jumps.... and probably 87 thousand attempts... LOL) Celebrate success - give yourself permission to feel like a bad ass! Be proud of pushing through fear! Keep reminding yourself "I can do hard things. I can do scary things. I've GOT THIS!"

Put your pearls on and PUSH THROUGH FEAR!!!!!! :)



Breaking the cycle

I get many questions and requests about how my son eats. He has always been a very picky eater with many food aversions (due to his autism spectrum disorder). I knew that when I came home from Extreme Weight Loss Boot Camp that getting my son on-board with my new lifestyle would be the fight of my life.

I am not sure if many of you know about the many feeding issues associated with autism, but I have experienced them first hand - food aversions, food jags, refusal to eat and gagging when trying new things have plagued me as an autism mom... and now... I am adding NEW FOODS???

I admit that in addition to the food issues that come along with autism... I created awful eating habits in my son. I am still working through the guilt I feel about this... I fed my kid fast food, I let him have soda, I packed his lunch with pre-packaged snacks. He watched his mom eat her way to 360 pounds with convenience foods. I taught him through my actions what portions to eat, that drive thru was a necessity when you were as busy as I was, food was comfort, food made things more fun and that processed food was ok because "that is all I could afford." I was raising a child to be like me... unhealthy, reliant on fast food, addicted to salt, sugar and processed food, not eating for fuel.....and let's just call it what it is.... I raised a FOOD ADDICT. The minute I realized what I had done to my son..I bought the pre-packaged foods, I packed his lunch, I cooked his dinner and served up huge portions, I took him through the drive thru on nearly a daily basis. I taught him how to be a food addict... I was crushed. I lived in that guilt for a minute... a long minute... then realized the only way to break the cycle that I started was to start a new cycle of healthy living.

Mason is 16. Telling a 16 year old ANYTHING is difficult. Telling him, "Mommy is a food addict and she has turned you into one too." SUCKS!!! I was embarrassed. But it MUST start with a conversation. I had to explain what was wrong with our eating in the past and how we were going to fix it in the future. I believe in being open and honest with your kids and owning your mistakes and pushing forward with dignity. During our talk, I laid out the new "ground rules".

  • No more drive thru - (if we have to get something from ANYWHERE we will always walk in)
  • No more soda (we are gonna drink water like it is our job)
  • Mommy's trigger foods are NOT ALLOWED in this house (Cheetos/Taco Casa)
  • You can only eat processed or off-plan foods when you aren't at home (with friends, grandparents, etc.)
  • You will at least TRY new meals
  • Monday Funday with mom we will be our ONE NIGHT every week to go out to dinner at a restaurant

The rules were hard to enforce... but necessary to get my kid off the processed junk!!! Here are a couple of tips that I have given my friends that have kids on the autism spectrum that helped me the most during this transition:

Play the "water game": for every plain bottle of water you drink - you can have a flavored water (Mio or Dasani drops) 

Veggies!!!! - Find a vegetable that your child will eat and SERVE THE HELL OUT OF IT!!!!! Mason's veggie is bell peppers. He eats bell peppers and hummus, chicken and bell peppers, sautéed bell peppers, stuffed bell peppers... you get the idea

Kid friendly doesn't have to be processed. I make him fresh grilled chicken strips, pulled-chicken in the crock-pot, tacos and protein pancakes. I have substituted things in recipes to be able to make him healthy versions of his favorites: Sloppy joes and pizza!

Mason has lost weight, his acne has gotten better and even his attitude is better after making dietary changes. I am so proud of him for pushing through food aversions, trying new things and making healthy choices.

Here's to many more healthy years with my son!!!!! :)




Don't let excuses hold you back!

When starting a weight loss journey or journey to health...we have stories we repeat (what happened to us in the past or why we aren't capable of changing in the future), reasons why we can't workout or eat right, and things we tell ourselves to comfort and quiet all of those stories and reasons. Let's take a look at some of those stories and reasons

  • I am too busy to workout/eat right etc.
  • I am too tired to workout or prepare healthy food after working all day
  • I have a child/spouse/parent with special needs that requires a lot of attention
  • Healthy food is too expensive
  • I can't afford a gym membership
  • I always fail at diets
  • It doesn't work-- I have tried it and it doesn't work
  • I am "big boned"
  • I barely eat...and I am still gaining weight/not losing weight
  • My knee/back/arm/(insert body part here____) hurts
  • I have a slow metabolism
  • I have thyroid disease
  • No one will work out with me/I don't know what to do
  • I don't like the way this tastes
  • I am too big to workout

Let's call these stories and reasons what they really are: EXCUSES. Now, before you get offended because you have used one or more of these excuses... let me tell you... EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE EXCUSES above trapped me in a 360 pound body. Those were MY B.S. STORIES... MY REASONS... MY EXCUSES!!!! And I used them all to make myself feel better about squeezing into size 28W capri pants. But until you find your "why" and get your mind on the right track to your goal... you will keep using your excuses. I want to help all of you turn your excuses around. I want you to be able to tell  your excuses to sit down and shut up so you can achieve any goals that you want! (and focus on the words THAT YOU WANT). This journey is not for everyone. Some people are happy with where they are in life and this advice is not for you... this is for those that are physically at a weight they don't want to be at... and WANT change. I wanted and needed change... so here is my "sit down and shut up statements" for my excuses above:

  • I am too busy to workout/eat right etc. - EVERYONE on this planet has the same 24 hours in a day. How are you going to spend yours? I am a single mom, I work full-time, I am the president of a non-profit, I workout 1-2 hours a day six days per week. Get creative with your time - cut out tv or watch your show on the treadmill, use 2 hours on a weekend to prep your meals for the week. Schedule time for your workouts and no matter what keep that appointment.
  • I am too tired to workout or prepare healthy food after working all day - We are all tired... especially when we are obese or have a disease that makes us tired. Don't stay up late playing on the internet or watching tv (take the tv out of your bedroom). Put your head on your pillow and SLEEP!!!! Aim for 8 hours (that may mean an early bedtime!) If you know you are going to have a busy day and will be exhausted prepare a healthy meal ahead of time to be re-heated (Watch the blog for some of my quick recipes!)
  • I have a child/spouse/parent with special needs that requires a lot of attention - I used this excuse for 7 years - I packed on 100 pounds using this excuse. I never would do anything for myself. I lived to be a mom. I was "autism mom super hero" but could have done so much more if I would have scheduled more physical activity and meal planning around those therapy appointments. Become a pro at multitasking... what can you do besides "sitting" while your loved one is in therapy/dr. visits/etc? Your loved one NEEDS you to be healthy.. it's not just for you... it's for them!
  • Healthy food is too expensive- Yes, it can be...BUT you need to check your portion size...4oz of plain chicken breast makes a pack of chicken go a long way. Buy produce at Wal-mart or Aldi to save money. Buy frozen veggies in bulk, use coupons, STOP buying the boxed or processed food and drive thru and put that money toward healthy foods. Drink WATER instead of soda. Inexpensive, healthy staples in our home: Chicken breast, brown rice, frozen broccoli, bananas, eggs, fresh bell peppers, bagged spinach and yogurt. All of these things are CHEAP!!!!
  • I can't afford a gym membership - Who says you have to work out at a gym? Make your own body-weight circuits you can do at home, find a good walking trail or place to hike by your house, buy used fitness equipment for your home off of Craigslist or Facebook trading posts in your area, do those fun 30 day abs/arms/burpee challenges you can find on Instagram. Utilize the "First time is free" deals at local gyms to try out. Usually big chains like Planet Fitness or 24 hour Fitness have inexpensive monthly fees. The YMCA is a non-profit and offers scholarships for those in need.
  • I always fail at diets- I used this a LOT... it is because I wasn't eating enough calories of healthy food during the day and would be STARVIN MARVIN by 6 pm and BINGE OUT on dinner or snacks. I was always trying the Fad diet Du Jour.. If you have failed at 1 or a million diets - blow that off... get up, dust yourself off and change your lifestyle. There are no magic pills.
  • It doesn't work-- I have tried it and it doesn't work - How long have you tried it? Have you asked health or fitness professionals  to help you troubleshoot why it isn't working for you? Track your food and exercise. Be honest with yourself and the professionals and ASK FOR HELP.
  • I am "big boned" - Your bones are not as big as you think they are. I feel so dumb that I used this excuse after I had a DEXA scan at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center and saw these skinny little bones covered with muscle and lots and lots of fat.
  • I barely eat...and I am still gaining weight/not losing weight - Look into how Sumo wrestlers eat... they don't eat breakfast, they restrict food all day then have a BIG high calorie meal at dinner. I did that for YEARS (I would have coffee for breakfast, a few things at my desk during the day and then be STARVING at dinner so I would consume a day or two worth of calories in one sitting. I would justify it by saying, "Well I haven't eaten all day". I do NOT want to be on the sumo wrestler meal I had to force myself to eat properly (several small meals -consuming all the calories I needed for fuel throughout the day - not just at dinner). YOU HAVE TO EAT TO LOSE WEIGHT!!
  • My knee/back/arm/(insert body part here____) hurts - MODIFY, MODIFY, MODIFY.... Use what doesn't hurt. If your arms hurt....go walking, do squats. If your knee hurts when you jump... do low impact things like biking or swimming. You can work around almost all injuries. I have been low impact because of knee pain for almost this entire year.... and still lost weight. Talk to your doctor about what you can and can't do... then make a plan to work around it. And DIAL IN TIGHT on your nutrition!!!
  • I have a slow metabolism - so fix it. You can. When you feed and hydrate your body properly stuff starts working right! Your metabolism is like a fire.. you have to stoke it to get it to burn efficiently (eating breakfast and then small meals every 3 hours, drinking water like it is your job (about a gallon a day) and getting physical activity). If you just throw a big ol log on your fire (eating once a day after restricting) that fire is gonna burn out and that big ol log is just gonna sit there.
  • I have thyroid disease - Yep. Me too. Hashimotos and hypothyroidism since I was 18... take your medicine. stay on top of your labs. Proper nutrition and exercise will help your condition.
  • No one will work out with me/I don't know what to do - Have you asked anyone to work out with you? Have you asked a trainer or gym staff for ideas? Have you googled "Workout ideas"? No one is going to walk up and hand you ideas. And the answer is always going to be "no" if you never ask.
  • I don't like the way this tastes - Food addiction is real and its a struggle. Wrapping your head around "food is fuel" can be daunting. Once you only have those tasty but processed/sodium and sugar filled goodies every once in a while, your body will CRAVE the whole foods. Use garlic, herbs, stevia, no salt seaonings or jalepenos to dress up your "fuel"
  • I am too big to workout - Watch an episode of Extreme Weight Loss on ABC. EXCUSE INVALID!!!! ;) 

I truly hope that by sharing my excuses and how I pushed past them helps at least one of you! Put your pearls on and push through!!!!!




It's a "mind thing"

Everyone asks me specifics of my diet and workouts... and want to just "copy" my eating and activity and expect to have the physical change I have had... they get disappointed if they don't get big physical results within their specified amount of time. This is why I don't just pass out copies of what I eat.

You HAVE to get your mind right before embarking on a weight loss journey. You have to change more than what you eat and how you workout. You have to let go of things in your past, make new habits and as I always say, "change your ways." I can honestly tell you that I not only eat and workout differently... I THINK differently. You have to. You have to change your thoughts, the patterns and routines you have always had in the past (I had to RADICALLY CHANGE the routines, thoughts and actions that got me to 360 pounds) to start a NEW future!

Throughout my life, I have struggled with several eating disorders - from anorexia to laxative abuse to binging and restricting. At 360 pounds, I was eating hardly anything all day then binging at night. I would use excuses as to why I wasn't losing weight. I believed my own lies that I told myself, "If I don't eat anything all day it is ok to eat a bunch at night", "I am too busy to workout." "Healthy food is too expensive", "I am too big to go to the gym," "I have a thyroid disease, " or just the plain, "I can't". You see... I had made up my MIND as to where I was gonna stay... because my B.S. excuses kept me locked in that body... mindlessly eating family size bags of cheese puffs at my cubicle saying, "I can't, I can't, I can't".

I am so grateful that I have had amazing therapists help me change my thinking and Chris and Heidi Powell and Dr. Holly to help me change my attitude and routines! So my suggestions for you all to "get your mind right" are:

  • Trust the professionals - Don't be afraid to seek therapy (for grief, eating disorders, pain in your past, depression, former abuse, divorce, anything you feel you need help with).
  • Find alternatives to mindless eating - When you want to eat out of boredom or because you are emotional - have a game plan. I do "beauty stuff". It is no secret that I am super girly, so when I feel like I want to binge or eat out of boredom - I straighten my hair, exfoliate and moisturize, put on makeup, take a bubble bath, apply lip gloss or lotion, put on teeth whitening strips or make a homemade body scrub or face mask.  I also like to take a walk and pray or read. Your game plan could look like mine - or different - do you have a hobby? what besides food makes you smile? What do you not do for yourself normally that would be a treat besides food?
  • Prepare for Success - Think about what you are going to eat before hand so you aren't put in a tough spot to choose something unhealthy or skip a meal (just as bad). Pack protein bars and almonds for EVERY occasion :) Pre plan and prep meals, make a fancy pants schedule - whatever helps you.
  • Give up the guilt - stop feeling guilty for past mistakes that got you to where you are. Today is new. You CAN start over. Get up... dust yourself off.... and go again!!!! #putyourpearlsonandpushthrough
  • Change your words - Tell yourself, "I CAN!!!!" "I GOT THIS!!" "I DESERVE THIS!!!"
  • Nix negativity - Or as I like to say, "Don't be a titty sack." Negativity breeds negativity and if you constantly ruminate on negative thoughts and words you are gonna stay in  that negative headspace - and probably bring others down with you. Say 5 positive things about yourself and others EVERY SINGLE DAY to exude some positivity.
  • Shut down excuses - You can't keep promises to yourself (like healthy eating and working out an hour a day) if you keep making excuses. TRUST ME, I used EVERY excuse in the book to get out of burpees or suspended ab workouts..... I know them all. Until you call yourself out on your excuses and just do things even if they suck...then you will stay trapped where you are.
  • Move forward - Don't look aren't going that way.... EVERY choice you make can push you forward or take you back... choose wisely. One baby step forward is still getting you there.

Blessings and Hugs, YOU GOT THIS!!!!!, Put your pearls on and push through!!!