Sunday, March 6, 2016

What are you doing to lose weight?

This is the number one question I keep getting asked; I get private messages, emails and texts messages all the time. I typically give a quick comment and don't really go into much detail because of time. So I thought I'd try and give a short run down of what has worked for me as I have lost 60 pounds, since I started in August 2015.

I hit my max weight in 2015 at 299 pounds. I was not active in any shape or form. I am a sugar addict (really), I love SUGAR! I drank an average of 52 ounces of Dr. Pepper daily. I was a purest claiming that the sugar was less harmful for me then the artificial sweetener (ha, ha).  I had a drawer full of M&Ms, licorice and a bag of kettle potatoes chips by my computer. I worked late and I ate until I went to bed. I constantly felt like stomach hurt, I felt bloated, my ankles swelled and I had head aches. When I cooked, my meals were typically all one color...very seldom did you see anything "green" on the plate. And bread was almost always part of the meal.

My sweet daughter, who has always been very health minded often expressed her concern for my declining health. She tried to offer help in her sweet, humble way with no changes in me. I didn't consider myself unhappy or miserable and certainly didn't believe my weight had any affect on me (but in hindsight I have changed my honesty about that topic). I have never been a dieter and figured why try when so many of my friends have lost and gained it all back over and over! But I had been watching a friend change her lifestyle so much that she had lost over 100 pounds and without surgery. I was intrigued and always watching her. I knew she might be the help I had always needed!

First and foremost, not any one weight loss program works for EVERY ONE. You have to figure out what rings true to you!  When I learned about Candida /yeast overgrowth (click tab above to learn more) and how it affects our bodies, I knew in my GUT (no pun intended) that I was suffering from this and needed to treat my body accordingly. So when I was advised to start a 28-day Candida cleanse and start my journey of "No Wheat, No Sugar, No Dairy" I jumped and haven't looked back.

My Healthy Routine: 

  • 8 Hours of Sleep (toughest for me, but makes a huge difference)
  • Every morning I have a cup of Hot Lemon Water + Cayenne Pepper (hated this at first but crave it now)
  • Breakfast - Green Smoothie + Multi-Vitamin & Probiotic
  • Lunch - Greens (I love eating out so I try to stick to salads)
  • Walk - I enjoy walking the most and try to do 2.5-4 miles (takes me less then an hour & I try to go 3-5 times a week, but life happens and I don't always get outside) 
  • Dinner - Protein (chicken, turkey, salmon) + Lots of Veggies

Other Helpful Tips: 
  • Activity Tracker - Huge help for me to be held accountable for my activity. I will purposely park far away, run up and down the stairs to get my steps in.
  • Water - I drink half my body weight in ounces every day! So get a water bottle or two that you love because you will take it everywhere. I have it with me in my purse everywhere I go and love filling it up with take out ice and water wherever I end up.
  • Weight Watchers - I needed someone else to hold me accountable for my weight loss (or gain) and my WW family does that for me. I learn great things as well from the classes and attendees as well. I have tried holding myself accountable, but honestly that just got me to where I was, fat! I also think if you can find a group that supports learning healthy ways of living, it can only benefit you. I started my journey with a "Wellness Class" taught by my friend Annette Wasden. 
  • Be Flexible - Although I started this journey focused on "No Wheat, No Sugar, No Dairy," let's be honest, it's hard to go 100% off those things. I find excluding small servings of cheese or ranch dressing is unrealistic for ME. A breaded fried pickle or crouton on your salad will not kill you. But sugar is something that I try my hardest to avoid because I know I'm an addict and I'm sure if I start eating it again, I won't stop!
  • It's Okay to Experiment - I love taking cooking classes to learn new ways to cook. These have been a lifesaver for me. I also love to experiment...we have tried four different "healthy" brownie recipes and only one worked out to be edible. Don't get discouraged, keep trying! Flour substitutes are still a mystery to me and I am still learning what works for me!
  • Journal -  Write somewhere about your feelings, your GOALS and your challenges. This has been a huge help for me!
  • Incorporate the Atonement - I should have put this at the top of the list, but I would not have made it this far or continue to find success and healthy living without my Savior. Without applying his Atonement to everything I do from how I eat to how I feel about myself I would not be here today writing this. You do NOT have to do this ALONE! Make sure you are turning to a higher power as you start to make changes. I noticed when I made Him a priority over everything else, it all seemed to work better. When I started my days in prayer and scripture study, I found the time I needed to do the other things and I felt more order and less chaos in my life. Seriously I could not express enough how much this has helped me.
Best of luck on your journey to learn what works for you and start making changes! I will continue to post ideas, tips and recipes here on this blog, so come back and visit!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Walking with Apostles

As the weather changes and it warms up enough to spend more time outside I have enjoyed going for walks. And I LOVE walking with a friend, my daughter or husband...however those times are rare. It is hard enough for me to find time to walk, but including another person makes it harder. And honestly, I want to walk in the SUNSHINE!

So the past couple of days I have gone walking with the Apostles and Prophet. You heard me! Have you not ever wanted to walk with them, learn from them and listen to their counsel WHILE you are enjoying a beautiful walk in the sunshine? Instead of music, opt to pull up a recent talk given in Conference or Devotional given at BYU. They're simple to download and they have been the perfect companions for me as I walk. Ironically the one I listened to as I began my walk was, "We Never Walk Alone," by President Monson. And another I highly recommend that I completed my walk with was "You Are My Hands," by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Here's some great resources for downloading amazing addresses: 

Click on the address and select "download" from the right.

Monday, February 15, 2016

It's Not About the Scale (from size 28 to 18)

So following my Weight Watchers meeting on Feb. 8th, I was a bit discouraged. I had hoped to make my goal for 60 pounds total loss and only needed to lose 2.4 pounds to make it. I had worked hard, tried yoga, did a little zumba and walked in the VERY COLD and watched what I ate. But I only rang in at .4 pounds lost...not even a half a pound to celebrate. I was crushed. I tried to hide my disappointment and smile, I've come so far. But I am really trying to set goals and stay on track and I am never prepared for a low number on the scale.

So I called my mom....because who else do you call when you're bummed?

She told me it wasn't about the numbers on the scale. She reminded me how much better I'm looking and suggested I find an old pair of pants. I was SHOCKED when I realized that the largest pair of pants I was sporting last summer were a size 28. And that day I had put on a pair of 18 pants that my mom had bought me knowing I may need them sooner then later.

I was so thrilled!

I grabbed my husband and asked him to snap this photo. I needed the REMINDER!

Then I decided I should POST it to show my friends and family that my change in eating and lifestyle is WORKS!!

I was so flattered and humbled by the sheer number of friends and followers that liked the photo and commented. I saw how very many of my peeps hoped to one day experience GOOD HEALTH! 

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Story Continues....2 Years Later

Two years ago this blog was all about my BRCA1 diagnoses and my prophylactic surgeries that followed. But then it just ended...this blog that is.

Following my surgeries....

I was depressed.

I had anxiety. Going out in public was traumatizing for me.

I was paranoid that everyone was looking at my chest (which most often they were).

I struggled with my newly formed body. This disproportions of my breasts size (which were smaller) to my ever growing belly made it so very hard for me. I felt like a pear or bowling pin. Sure my breast were perkier, but they didn't fit my body anymore.

And it was the loved ones that surrounded me that pointed out my apparent depression. 

I took Zoloft. I felt okay. But I was not at one with my body. Talk about insecurities!

Each return doctors visit I was counseled in a kind way that losing weight would be beneficial for me (obviously). Did you know that your risk of having cancer increases exponentially if you are obese. Which I was!
Me and My Genetics Counselor

I weighed eventually weighed in at my largest weight to date...

299 pounds

I knew I was ONE pound away from being 300. I could not believe I'd let it get this out of hand. I continued to medicate my aching heart and soul with Dr. Pepper...lots and lots. I had a desk drawer full of SUGAR...lots and lots. Black licorice and mega M&Ms were my poison of choice...a long with a helping of Lays Kettle Potato Chips.

Now I wasn't a bing eater. I didn't eat an entire bag of any one thing. But I NEVER made healthy choices when it came to food and I soooooo loved my Dr. Pepper.

I knew things had to change.

I knew I felt yucky. My stomach was always upset ALL.THE.TIME.

I knew my life was in chaos and I seemed to have NO control over anything. I wasn't focus on my career, I felt very distant with my religion and I felt unhealthy.
Someone one asked me if I was "sad that I was overweight?" I was taken back by the question, because I always felt very happy (at least on the outside). I was outgoing, I loved my friends. I didn't sit and stew about my weight. Honestly, I didn't think I was sad. But looking back at the me then, and the me now....I am a lot happier!!
I had a friend, Annette that I'd watched her TRANSFORM over a year or so as she dropped her weight. She had lost around 120 pounds...NO SURGERY, NO BOOT CAMP. She learned she had Candida and started addressing the issue with how she FED her body. It was amazing to watch and I was very OBSERVANT. Thankfully she started teaching "Wellness Classes." There is a story I'll share another time about her classes. But that angel, she continued to invite me to attend her classes and I would graciously decline. Until one day....

Thanks to a wonderfully sweet friend, I went to my first class that begun my new JOURNEY. I will always be thankful to that friend for being inspired to offer me a ride. I was on the fence about attending and that was the one thing I needed to get me there.... a friend to drag my butt.

The more I learned about Candida the more I was convinced I had been suffering from this. The more I learned how to feed my body better the better I felt. I am constantly asked HOW I have lost my weight. That will take a little bit of explaining, so be sure to check back. I'll write another post about it soon. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

I'm a Mutant: Now What's My Super Power?

I was asked to speak to a classroom full of Physician Assistants at the University of Utah today by my genetics counselor, Wendy Kohlmann. I agreed because I don't mind speaking in public and also because I love the idea that my experience could be helpful to future doctors and others facing BRCA1.

I've had my friends ask me how it went and I thought I'd share a bit about that experience here on my blog. You know the blog I don't keep very updated (because frankly after the surgeries all happened I didn't feel like sharing at the time...I'll fix that later).

Anyway, I had the privileged of speaking with a 53 year old gentleman, George who has a very rare genetic mutation that causes colon cancer. His father passed away at age 23 (53 years ago) and his grandfather before him. It's called FAP for short, but sadly I'm not good at remember medical terms. He was one of the first to be officially diagnosed with this hereditary mutation and has been part of clinical trials to figure it out every since. Of his four children, two of them have it and are currently being treated. He was a simple man and so willing to put his awful experiences to good use. Love him and it was a nice contrast having us speak together. Just to put it in perspective...1 in 400 people are BRCA positive and 1 in 8000 people have FAP. We each shared our history and experience with our mutations to a class of about 40+ students. Then we opened it up to questions. We spoke to the group for about 1 hour and 20 minutes and had such a great response from people saying thank you for put a face on genetic mutations for them.

I loved that we were able to talk about what we would love to have PAs do for us or in our experience could have done for us. These students seemed to genuinely want to be better doctors. And for me, I was grateful for the opportunity to share (probably over shared).

Most of what I shared about myself and my mutation I have already posted about here on my blog. But here's an excerpt from my presentation that my husband really liked and told me to share...

I never really considered myself a “Mutant," that was until I was diagnosed with the gene mutation BRCA1. You know, the cancer gene that Angelina Jolie made popular in 2013. 

So we are big fans here at our house of any X-MEN movies and apparently them being mutants was not always met with acceptance. However, when I imaged being a mutant or let's say "super hero," I thought of having super strength or flying because those are cool. I never I thought that carrying the hereditary breast cancer gene mutation a super power. But now I’m thinking more and more that it really is a super power. They say power is knowledge right? Why wouldn’t the knowledge that I am at increased risk of both breast and ovarian cancer a super power? I would like to think that I could kick cancer in a battle of strength and stamina and I could soar over treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, but why would I want to if I didn't have to. And more then anything that I could live a long cancer free life to watch my children grow. 

And I realized more then anything, I wanted to take the BRCA test for my future grandchildren. So of course there is the burden of knowledge, that much is true. But I’d rather carry a burden of knowledge than an appointment card for chemo.

Did you know that a  recent study regarding low utilization of BRCA testing reported that fewer than five percent of people who should consider having BRCA testing have learned about it and followed through with testing thus far. Fewer than 5% is awful.

I will forever be grateful for this amazing lady, Wendy Kohlmann. I entered her office four days after burying my father-in-law after his battle with colon cancer. I was nervous and pretty uninformed. She was patient and kind. She was my connection to Huntsman and the Doctors I would eventually need to work with. She was the kind face I needed during a really ugly time in my life. I can never thank her enough for her amazing support of me. And if she asks me to speak again...I'm there!!

If you'd like to contact Huntsman Genetic Counseling offices, they will meet with you for free to determine if you qualify for testing. I would highly recommend you take an hour or two and do this for yourself. Contact their clinic coordinators Mike Wynder or Chris Moss at 801-587-9555.