Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Updating When I Should Sleep

Don't ask me why, but I'm totally updating when I should be sleeping. I clicked over here from my Twitter profile and was looking at my blog, and I realized it just really needs a quick update.

I haven't kept ya'll updated on my weight loss. I am still losing. I've hit the 33 pounds lost mark. I'll take it. :) I'm eager for more to come off, but that takes me refocusing a lot.

I'm amazed at how many pieces of clothing I put on that are too big. I've got 2 pairs of jeans that fit. The others start to fall off after I wear them for 30 minutes or so. I constantly am adding to the pile of shirts in the bottom of the closet that are too big. Thankfully a lot of winter tops that were too small last year look amazing now, so I'm still not having to really clothing shop (thanks to hand me downs as well). It's such a change to pick what I'm wearing based on what's not too big instead of what's too small. I don't mind though. My waredrobe is dwindling, and sometimes I go to work looking like a ragamuffin, but at least I'm a much smaller ragamuffin!

I used to say I couldn't really see the difference in me yet. I can see it in pictures now. (I think I'm close to be able to see it in the mirror now which I know sounds insane.) The one along the side of this blog makes me want to gag. This weekend I was looking on Facebook at pics from our January Disney Trip to share with someone, and I thought, "I really should print these finally for my album." I don't like how I looked in any of the pictures. Those shirts were XL, and now if I wear an XL it's to work out, or I've got to tie it at the waist like a teenage girl! I look back at those pics and wonder how I ever thought looking like that was ok. Disney (both trips) were amazingly happy memories of mine. I just wish my body had been as "happy."

Anyways, I'm still losing - slowly but surely - when I'm not having my setbacks. Last week was really bad, but I'm back on it this week. I've started running 3 mornings a week with a friend, and thankfully the effects of all my working out this summer haven't disappeared. I can run for 2 minutes solid when I push myself, so I interval train those days (walking and running). I'm trying to come up with a routine that works during the school year. 2-3 hours in the gym a day this summer wasn't so bad really, but I just don't have that many hours in my day anymore (and Sprinkles would miss me too much). :)

Anyways, like I said, just needed to do a quick update. My bed and fuzzy blanket are screaming my name. May God bless you all.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Quick Update

I realize I haven't posted about my weight loss lately, so I should probably do that since people keep asking. I just want to state, I started at 236 pounds. That's a LOT of weight on a 5'1" frame. My weight loss journey feels rather epic right now since I want to get down to 150. I'm at 210 right now. I'm thankful I'm catching this now and losing weight now instead of getting heavier.

As of today I've lost right at 26 pounds. I want to have lost an even 30 by the time school starts again (4 weeks from now). The last 4 pounds have taken me all summer - about 6 weeks. It's been a battle to say the least. I'm counting on it being easier to start really losing again once I get back to work. It's easier when I'm working because I'm not able to go out to lunch instead of eating my healthy cooked meal. I'm more hungry for dinner after work because it's been a long day, so I'm not tempted to skip a real dinner (which can hurt your weight loss). I also have actual bells going off all day that help me meet goals like drinking 3 cups of water between each set of bells. I never thought I'd be able to lose weight during the school year, but more and more this summer I'm realizing how much easier it is while working.

When I'm working, I'm on my feet mostly all day, and I'm burning more calories. To counteract the loss of activity this summer, I've started working out. I think I've been going about 3 weeks now. I try to do 5K on the treadmill daily. I'm gradually getting faster at it and less self conscious about it. At first I really hated how much sweat was produced by my work out, but now I don't care because it means my body isn't so hot while I work out! I also had horrid shin splints when I started, but those are really calming down. It's nice to see my body changing.

Today my shoe and sock were rubbing painfully against one of my heels, so I paused my treadmill to fix it. When I went to start the treadmill again, I hit the stop button which reset my treadmill 0.45 miles from the end of my 5K... I gave up and stopped. I did, however, use the time I skipped on the treadmill to start my weight training for my arms. I'm not doing weights on my legs (for now) because they're big enough, but my arms could use some strength and some muscle. I'll do that every other day now.

My biggest fear is that my body is getting too used to my workout, and now that's contributing to my plateau. I like doing 5K a day because I can watch for improvement. I have a set goal. I know I shouldn't let my body get used to my workout though. Maybe I should try a 5K program that works with interval training to get me running the 5K. I might look for something like that.

OK, so biggest surprise lately for me -- even when you eat a salad at a restaurant, the sodium levels are still waaaay higher than something you would make at home. Salt intake is something I am really noticing makes a HUGE difference.

Another surprise has come about today. When I was in the weight section, there were mirrors all over, and I could really get a look at myself. Today I randomly grabbed a size L shirt to workout in (I usually stick to XL for workouts even though I can comfortably wear a L now and look nice), and I was wearing fairly skin tight to the knees workout pants. Normally catching a glimpse of my full length reflection would cause me to shudder and turn away. In fact, I don't have a full length mirror in my apartment. Today though, I stopped and looked, and I could REALLY see the changes in my body! I'm not under 200 pounds yet, but I'm happy with the changes -- not happy with my body yet, but happy it's changing.

Biggest thing I'm not going to miss - back fat rolls. Sorry, was that TMI? TOO BAD! They're pretty much gone now, and I LOVE my smooth back! :-)

Thank you for all the support you have all shown to me. All the compliments and comments about me "shrinking" really help. I'm doing this for me, but it's great when others notice, and it really keeps me going. :) Thanks again!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Joanna: Now 10% LESS!

I realize that with all the help problems with Sprinkles and the end of the school year I haven't updated my blog with weight loss info for a while, so that's what this post is about.

If you noticed my blog title and you thought about it a bit, you'd realize I've reached my first goal: I have lost (a little over) 10% of my body weight! That's 23.8 pounds lost (0.2 pounds over 10%). I wanted to lose 10% by the end of school (from Spring Break until then), and I did! I can't even begin to describe to you the overwhelming joy I feel from this!

People are really noticing my weight loss and asking me about it. It feels great, and the encouragement I gain from people asking what I'm doing does wonders for me! I bought some new shirts in a smaller size the other day, and I'm fitting into my size large school shirts again now. I can deal with pants that are too big, but the huge shirts drive me insane!

My next goal is 40 pounds total by the end of summer. I've got 10 weeks to hit this goal, and I really think I can do it. Today was the first real day of summer (although I'm working for the next 6 work days on curriculum writing for the school and then for the district), and I spent the day enjoying more sleep and figuring out how to still get in enough water when I don't have small water goals from bell to bell. Sprinkles always takes a while to adjust to me not getting up early in the summer, so he woke me up around 6:30 for a walk. Oh well... it was extra exercise before it got too hot! I'm looking forward to finding the new gym in my complex this summer and joining the Lewisville library, so I'll have new stuff to read while I'm on the treadmill.

OK so I'm happy about losing weight; Sprinkles seems to be on the mend for real this time; summer is here! Life is good. :)

People ask me some questions about my weight loss that I thought I'd address at the end of this post:

Q: What are you doing to lose weight?
A: South Beach, no exercise yet. I've said this so much I'm sick of saying it! People, do I need to wear a sign? I could swear I've told just about everyone now...

Q: South Beach? How did you find out about it? Did you buy the book? Can you send me food lists?
A: Part of any diet working is you doing the legwork yourself so you understand why you're doing what you're doing. I bought the book at a half-price bookstore, and I read it completely cover to cover. I understand how and why South Beach works which helps give me more motivation to keep going. If I send you a food list, you won't understand the how and why and are more likely to decide little changes/cheats are ok and the diet won't work for you. Then you think South Beach failed... but honestly it was really you not getting it. Besides, there's a little thing called Google. If you really insist on getting the food list instead of shelling out less than $10 on the book in a used book store, then google "south beach food lists" and find them yourself. It's not that I don't want to help you or that I don't want you to do South Beach; I just want you to have all the tools you need to succeed.

Q: Wow, how do you have such good will power?!
A: It came from the 2 weeks on Phase I. It was sort of a detox from carbs and sugar. Now if I eat ice cream or cake it's because I want to do so not because the craving is so bad that I can't resist. I choose if I'm going to "cheat" and I realize that real life happens, and I can't always not eat "bad" stuff. I don't miss white rice, white bread, and potatoes most days. Sometimes I miss cake a bit, but every few weeks someone has a cake for something and I snag a small piece. :) I don't think it's will power -- I think it's that my body has reset itself.

Q: I can really tell how much weight you've lost! Can you tell?
A: Honestly typically I can't tell at all. I know my clothing is looser. I know logically that the 23.8 pounds had to come from somewhere, so I should be able to see it's gone. But... I look in the mirror, and usually I don't see it. Every once and a while I get a glimpse and see that my stomach is smaller and my face is slimming down, but it's not something I constantly notice. So... yes, I depend on you, my friends, to tell me you can tell a difference! lol. I can't wait to see my parents in August, so they can see the change in me (haven't seen them since April). I really can't wait to see my extended family at Christmas because by then my weight loss is going to be super obvious.

Q: How much do you want to lose?
A: 86 pounds, at least. That's 36% of my starting weight, and I'm about one-fourth of the way there now.

Q: Energy level still high?
A: Yes. The improvements to my energy level is only getting higher each day. I love it! I still take the occasional nap, but lately that more from the evenings with Sprinkles being sick or me staying up worrying about him. Usually I'm ok without naps. Wonder if that will change once I start exercising or if I'll get more energy...

Anyways, there's an update on my weight loss. I'm still going strong and still on South Beach. :)

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Sprinkles is Home!!

Sprinkles got to come home this evening. The good news -- he did GREAT at the vet (no vomiting or diarreha), and he did well with the IV. The bad news -- the final bill was around $530. Holy crow -- that's about $200 more than I expected! Argh. I'm still spinning a bit from that, but it would have been soooo much more if I hadn't had the Wellness Plan and if he'd gone to the ER vet. If this is what it took him to get healthy, so be it.

Thankfully he's home without any meds to force into him. The vet wants him on the food he refused to eat for the next month, but we're trying it in dry form. He said that if Sprinkles is hungry, he'll eat, so I'm not to give him anything else. Fair 'nuff... hope that works!

He seemed very very happy to see me when I picked him up, and he was more than happy to jump in the car and cuddle in my lap until we got home. Once back in the apartment he ran around checking everything out. Right now he's draped across the top of the couch napping. Hopefully we're out of the woods, and he's fine. :) Thanks for the prayers. Continue to pray that he doesn't relapse. :)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Update on Sprinkles & Biopsy

I decided a post to update on my family's health would be good, so here we go. For starters, this evening I noticed I had a message on my phone, and when I checked it, it was the nurse from the dermatologist. The spot they removed was a normal mole -- no cancer, nothing abnormal. Hurray! Thank you all for your prayers and kind words. That was super scary, and I'm glad it's over. I'm going to continue getting screened every 6 months to a year (as you all should), and I'm going to stay pale... and healthy. :)

On to Sprinkles! I'm going to sum up what's happened thus far (for those of you who don't see my facebook status updates) and then move on to where we're at now. Also, I'm going to speak fairly frankly about what's happened with him, so don't eat and read this!

The evening of May 21st Sprinkles starting having bad diarrhea and vomited some. On the 22nd he spent the day at the vet. While his energy was a bit lower when I dropped him off, he thankfully was not dehydrated. They did run quite a few tests and $250 later he was diagnosed with a tummy infection (like a stomach flu) and was on a couple of antibiotics (pill form). He was also supposed to be on a prescription canned food for a while, but he wouldn't touch that, so I ended up having to cook chicken and rice for him.

About 4 days later, Sprinkles and I ended up back at the vet for the opposite reason as before -- nothing was coming out! A $30 enema later, he was fine with no apparent reason for the constipation. Frustrating but ok.

From that visit 2 Tuesdays ago to Tuesday this week, Sprinkles had high energy, was playful, and ate well. However, Monday night he started to have some diarrhea again. That Saturday he vomited a bit as well, so as much as I wanted to think he was healing, I knew something was not right, so I dropped him off at the vet on Tuesday. Now, I need to mention that Tuesdays are the only day my normal vet isn't in, so both times I had to see a different vet who I now know I really really don't prefer. Anyways, she diagnosed him with a sensitive stomach and sent us home with another $30 of meds to aid digestion and suggested a food for sensitive stomachs (although not a specific one -- just told me to find one that said that on the shelf, so I went with IAMS).

That brings us up to today, Thursday. This morning right as I was about to leave for work, Sprinkles had a bout of diarrhea and vomited. It all looked like the rice he ate the night before -- not really digested. Thinking that meant I should quit transitioning him slowly (since the rice wasn't agreeing with him), I gave him dry food for breakfast (and his meds). He gobbled it all up. I came back home an hour or so later and checked on him, and he was fine. Sometime between 9:15 am and 4:45 pm, he vomited all of his breakfast into the bathtub (convenient, eh?). I called the vet (the one I like spoke to me personally), and he said to bring Sprinkles in.

Have I mentioned that I was so worried the first visit to the vet that I sobbed at the reception desk when I got there? No? Yeah, this visit was much the same. I cried the whole time the vet talked to me. (OK, and I cried for about 45 minutes after I left the vet.) I'm worried, but more than that I'm frustrated! I just want him to get better and be healthy. The vet said that he was glad to see Sprinkles with such high energy. That's a good sign. If it was life threatening, his energy level would be way low. He thinks that Sprinkles has not gotten over the stomach infection yet, and that his stomach/bowel is very irritated by the food right now. He said that it's all working like a hose and just letting out (one way or another) what goes in instead of absorbing the food's nutrients and the medicines we're giving him. His almost $400 solution is that Sprinkles needs to stay at the vet for 48 hours on IV fluids and antibiotics. I am going for this solution. They are not going to feed him, so his stomach and such will have time to heal. He will stay hydrated, and they will observe him. I'll have daily updates and have him home by Saturday evening.

I cried a lot this afternoon from the worry and frustration but also from leaving Sprinkles. He's constantly with me when I'm home -- I mean at my feet, laying on me, following me, in my face, with me. It's weird to be here without him, and I don't like it. He'll also be alone at the vet for some hours in the night, and it makes me sad to think about him alone in a cage. The vet seemed confident that this is what Sprinkles needs to get better, and I have to trust that. I have to feel positive that Sprinkles' energy is still normal to high, and the vet says this is not life threatening but is something we have to fix asap.

So that's where we're at. I'm trying to look at this as an opportunity. I was able to clean the mess in the bathroom without puppy dog underfoot. I can work tomorrow and not have to come home between noon, when the kids leave, and 5 pm, when our staff dinner starts, to let him out and feed him. I can sleep in on Saturday without someone jumping on me. I also called maintenance to snack my bathtub while Sprinkles isn't taking up residence there.

I'm trying to ignore the lonely feeling and dread I'm feeling at going to bed without him lying on my feet. I was very comforted that the vet said, "You and Sprinkles are valued clients. I've worked with you for years, and I know how much Sprinkles means to you. I will do my best to care for him and help him." OK -- him saying that made me cry more (poor man), but it helped.

Again I am writing this knowing my friends and family will read it. Sprinkles needs your immediate prayers. He needs healing and to be able to get back to normal. My pocketbook needs healing from this -- lol. (I do want to take this moment to say that the Wellness Plan at Banfield is top notch. I would have and would be paying a LOT more without the plan, and the emergency vet would have bankrupted me.) I need my baby back healthy. Please pray for healing and a long term solution for his sensitive stomach. I think what's happening now is a relapse from the original illness, and we need prayers that when I get him home, I can feed him what he needs to settle his stomach and avoid another relapse. Please pray for him and me.

Monday, June 01, 2009


So I went to the dermatologist today for a couple of reasons, the biggest of which was to get a dreaded mole (I hate the word "mole", so I'm going to use "spot" from here on out, k? k.)check/cancer screen. The doctor said everything looked ok except a spot that I pointed out on the back of my shoulder. He decided to do a biopsy. (I knew it was likely that I'd have at least one spot that he was "worried" about -- there's so many that of course statistically speaking, one would be worrisome. That's why I've been dreading this check-up so much.) I asked him if he was thinking it was melanoma or another form of skin cancer, and he said that he was mostly sure that it wasn't, but it was just weird enough that it should be checked.

I've never had a biopsy of anything done before, but I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be my new favorite activity. In fact, I told my doctor that I hadn't had one, but that he should know I was scared of needles, and I had a hunch that what he was about to do on me was fairly needle-like and freaky. He laughed and put my exam table up about as high as it would go. I jokingly asked if he was trying to make sure I didn't flee from him to which he said, "yeah, a little." lol. Turns out, I didn't look or even attempt to look at what he was doing, and for the most part, I didn't feel anything. I did, however, have to keep reminding myself to breath. When the doctor asked if I was ok in the middle of doing his thing I actually admitted that I was trying to remember to breath. He told me they were "all fans of oxygen around here" and if I could keep breathing that would be great! He was really kind.

I actually held it together ok in the office. Although I am fairly certain that when he said he was going to do the biopsy that the fear I was feeling showed quite obviously. I don't think my calm, cool, collected exterior hid my inside panic very well. If I fooled the doctor, he was kind enough not to say anything except to tell me not to worry and that the results would be in in a week.

When I got to the car and called Mom... that was when I couldn't talk for crying. I know a biopsy technically isn't a big deal. I know people regularly have melanoma spots that get taken off, and no more action is needed, and they are fine. I also know that nothing else on my body looked like this spot (good) and nothing else near it looked bad (good), but that it was not normal (scary). I know as well that I had a sister who died from melanoma, so forgive me if I panic for a week waiting on test results. I fear cancer. Melanoma is very deadly, and according to my doctor my sister and I have a much greater risk for it since we lost Shelly to it. It's scary.

So here I am on my blog sharing something fairly personal with the world. I don't care though because I'm scared. I'm praying often about it, but I'm still scared. I think the only way I can get through my week to 10 days of waiting for results is through God's help and by knowing others are praying for me. Please don't try to comfort me by telling me this isn't a big deal -- it's a big, freakin', scary deal to me. It's something, according to my mother, I'll have to face in life considering our family history, but nonetheless it's frightening. I don't think it will ever be less so. So pray for me. Pray for comfort from my fears. Pray for good test results. And when you're blinded by my pale skin at the pool this year, know I choose to be pale because they had it right in the Victorian times -- pale is awesome. :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ways to Scare the Pee Out of Me

I have a short pairing of humorous events I've been meaning to blog about for a while, but I haven't gotten around to it. This evening's event pushed me over the edge into blogging about it though. :)

First, you might recall my sister, LaRae. Here we are at Disney World in the Magic Kingdom:
She looks harmless enough, right? Like someone who loves her little sister so much that she's willing to walk around all week at the World in matching sweatshirts and kindly supporting said sister's desire to wear sequined mouse ears all week (despite being 25)? Someone who would never try to, oh I dunno, scare the ever living daylights out of a person, right?

OK the sweatshirts and ear support are deceiving because my sister is a lover of practical jokes. Wait, not really practical jokes, more jump out at someone and scare the poop out of them humor.

So, a couple of weekends ago our parents came in town on a Saturday morning. LaRae called to say they were coming to pick me up early because she needed me to flat iron a spot in her hair, so she came in (I left the door unlocked) without trying to scare me, waited patiently for me to finish my own hair, and had me fix her hair. She then told me to hurry because we were running a little late, said she'd go to the van and bring in the pillows for Mom & Dad, and then wait in the van for me.

I quickly finished cleaning the bathroom, went to the kitchen to feed the dog, locked him in the bathroom, shut all the mini-blinds, turned off all the lights, and started to leave. I grabbed my keys and opened the door only to hear this voice behind me say, "Don't lock me in!" I jumped about 10 feet in the air (quite a distance for a hobbit!), screamed bloody murder, continued to open the door, screamed "S**T!" at the top of my lungs out the door, and started to run (all in about 5 seconds) before I realized it was LaRae. My entryway has a bit of a hallway to it, so she sat on my hall tree waiting to scare me! Turns out Sprinkles actually came to the door, sniffed at the door, ignored LaRae, and returned to me where I was cleaning the bathroom without making a noise! (Some guard dog!) When LaRae and I made it to the van, my dear brother-in-law had actually heard me (8 garages down from my apartment) scream obscenities! Ooops... LaRae said she was proud that I at least was starting to run!

Yes, I scare easily. LaRae LOVES to jump out at me because it's a guaranteed funny reaction.

Wanna know what else scares me? Roaches -- well creepy crawling things in general really. So you remember Paul, right? The friend that came over late one night to save me from the Box of Impending Doom?? Ah yes, now you recall him. Well, Paul and I carpool to work. Today he witnessed (from the passenger seat) as I slammed on the brakes because a small spider was hanging from a web from the top of my window and crawling down towards me. Not only did I slam on brakes, but I also completely lost my train of thought in the middle of a story as I squealed and frantically put down my window and then really really freaked out as the spider went into my window cavity thing instead of out the window. He had to endure the ride with me constantly, spaztically looking at my side window in fear of the spider crawling out.

I can't really emphasize enough the depth of love Paul has for his friends. He is willing to do just about anything for them. So leaving the freaky little spider behind, I came home tonight, chatting on the phone with my sister (yes the one who loves it when I get scared), and O.M.G! There is a GIANT roach on my crown molding in my living room above my hallway door that leads to the bedroom and bathroom. Roaches make me want to throw up. I seriously shudder uncontrollably around them. LaRae told me I could kill it, but what if I made it fall on me?! I decided I would wait out the roach, so I went out on my porch to enjoy the evening.

Thirty minutes later the roach was winning. He had not moved one iota, and he looked like he was just taking a nap for the evening up there. I decided maybe if I turned on all the lights and shined a flashlight on it that it would run down the wall. Don't the scurry when lights come on? No dice. Roach - 1, Joanna - 0. After frantically ducking through that doorway a few times I decided I needed to call in my secret weapon: Paul.

Turns out he was bored and waiting on his wife, Jennifer to come home, and he said he'd come help me. Whew! He came over to vanquish the giant roach of doom, and I swear that the first words out of his mouth when he saw the thing were, "wow that is a giant roach!" Ha! See, no exaggeration! Paul confirmed the hugeness of the roach. He kindly scraped it down into a cup, threw it over the balcony, and saved my sanity for the night. I paid him two Cadbury eggs. I think it was a fair trade off. :) So, thanks Paul! You rock!

OK, so that's two ways to scare the pee out of me (thankfully not literally): jumping out at me and roaches. We'll save other ways for later. Speaking of scared though, incidentally my dog scares easily too and is scared of thunder, a trait that was all too evident this morning at 6 am (30 minutes before I needed to be up) as he stood ON me and barked every time the apartment shaking thunder occurred. No, he can't be scared quietly and cuddle under the covers with me. Instead, he has to yell about it. I guess that was just his way of opening the door and yelling "S**T!" into the breezeway, so I shouldn't be too annoyed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

How to Cook

How do you live without a microwave??

Tonight I was getting ready for my parents to come to town tomorrow, and part of getting ready was cleaning. I had some soup in a large container in the fridge that I thought would be better in smaller Pyrex dishes, so I got a spoon and doled out the soup. I had a little bit leftover, so I decided to microwave it for an evening snack.

While I was microwaving the soup, I was also hanging up laundry (by the kitchen). I heard this weird *pop* noise, but I wasn't sure it was the microwave. Well I wasn't sure until I realized Sprinkles was strangely interested in the microwave (picture head tilted, gazing up at the microwave in confusion). Anyways, the food was still spinning, the light still on, clock still counting down, and motor still running...

I went to put my laundry away, and I realized a fire alarm was going off in a nearby building in the complex, so Sprinkles and I stood on the porch until we heard sirens approaching. When I realized the sirens stopped super close to my building, we went on a walk to investigate. The building around the corner (the one right by mine across the courtyard) had alarms going off, and 2 firetrucks in front of it, and a lot of people were outside watching what was going on. Amazing how many people decide to walk their dogs when a firetruck comes into the complex! Anyways, no hoses out, no smoke, no fire, but it took a good 5-10 minutes for them to turn off the alarm and get it to stay off. Not brazen enough to hit on a hot fireman, I decided it was time for Sprinkles and me to head back home.

OK, so I get home and realize I forgot my soup. Hm, must mean I'm not really hungry, but I press '2' so it will heat for 2 more minutes. That's when I notice that the microwave is making a slightly odd and louder sound than normal, but I pass it off thinking that maybe hearing the alarm so close and so loud for so long messed my ears up a bit. Yeah, my soup came out stone cold. Grrrr. I called the complex service request line and left a message. I actually told them my parents will be here tomorrow, so I could really use them fixing/replacing my microwave tomorrow. Usually they're fairly fast. I REALLY hope they're fast this time.

I'm just annoyed. I know appliances break, and it's no one's fault, but it's irritating. I mean, how do you heat leftovers? How do you cook South Beach pizzas and heat South Beach wraps? I know I have a stove top and oven, but that's all so time consuming! I realize people lived without microwaves for a long time, but wow I really hate knowing mine doesn't work. I also hate that I have to wait for my complex to fix it. Granted if they didn't I'd have to pay for one myself, but at least I could go do that tonight and have a working microwave in a half hour.

The saving grace is that I have a microwave...at school. I had my own microwave in my apartment in Searcy (and it was nice). When I moved to a complex that provided microwaves (a built in that goes with the stove vent), I took mine up to school for the math storeroom for us to use. Oddly enough we don't use it, but I'm "storing" it on a filing cabinet in the storeroom anyways. If they haven't replaced it by Monday, I think I'll bring that one home with me. It's heavy though... so I hope they replace mine fast. :)

I know... pointless post, but it's on my mind, and it's MY blog. ;-)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Numbers Numbers Numbers

I'm a numbers kinda gal. I deal with them all day when I teach. Beyond that though, I see the beauty in numbers, in the organization and logic of math. So, it should come as no surprise to any of you that I LOVE spreadsheets (I make them for everything I can), and I like to use them to figure how long it will take me to do things like pay off my credit card.

Today I made a Hungarian Pot Roast in my crock pot. The prep work took me about an hour this morning, but I think I could do it faster. You do need some special paprika which I found for a good deal at Sprouts. I'm not sure anyone should know as much as I do about different types of paprika as I do, but it sure made a tasty pot roast! Honestly I had no clue that pot roast could turn out so AMAZING without potatoes and carrots!

So tonight I was sitting here on my porch... ok side rave here. I LOVE my porch! It's my new favorite spot (aside from Disney World). If you follow me on Facebook, you know my status is constantly about me being on my porch or loving my porch. I feel like my apartment has gained 40 or more square feet overnight! I have this whole new, peaceful, comfortable domain where I can go to cuddle with Sprinkles or read or play on my laptop. A couple of summers ago I got a couple of Adirondack chairs for it, and I have a couple of nice tables out here. Sprinkles has a big pillow bed, and the porch even has a power outlet. It's good livin' out here.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, I'm on the porch (the place I can't wait to leave work and head to nowadays), and I'm full from the aforementioned amazing pot roast, and I start thinking about my diet (South Beach). It's been 3 weeks, and I've lost 11.2 pounds. I can't help but think, "wow! I'm eating good, really yummy food, and I'm actually losing weight!" which made me pull out my cell phone and use the calculator and calendar to start projecting my weight loss goals. I haven't gone as far as to make a spreadsheet, but I have some goals in mind that I wanted to put into writing (more to make me accountable than because I thought you'd really care).

By the end of summer (August 15th), I'd like to have lost 40 pounds. That would put me about halfway to my goal weight. Right now I'm just following South Beach. This summer I'm going to add in working out at the pool and at the complex gym. I'm hoping that will stop me from plateauing. When I go back to work at the end of summer my debt should be paid off, and I should NEED new clothes by then. I want to get back to work and for people to be surprised and notice how much I've lost. It's for me and all, but I want people to be able to tell I've dropped 40 pounds!

By my next birthday (February 22nd), I want to be at my goal weight (or lower). That means I'll need to drop another 40 (or so) pounds from August to February. If I continue working out and eating right, I should be able to do it. My goal weight is 150 pounds. Honestly that still puts me at the high end of the BMI scale for my height, but I'll be happy at 150. If the weight keeps coming off after that, so be it, but I'm not stressing if I hit 150 and plateau.

Daily, I am still amazed at how much more energy I have. I'm able to get so much more done in a day, and I'm enjoying being more active. It's not even that I'm going on walks and stuff. It's that I'm keeping my apartment really clean and picked up, that my laundry gets done when I need it instead of piling up around my ears, that my dishwasher is run almost daily, and that I'm able to cook for all 3 meals each day and not grow sick of doing it all! I've been trying to cook at least one new recipe each week, and every one that I've tried has (thankfully) turned out wonderful. I'm enjoying cooking and keeping up with my apartment. I LOVE not feeling like I always need a nap!

I'm still waiting for my blood pressure to go down. It's lowering some, and this should be what stops me from having to go on medicine for it. Already I've noticed I haven't had heartburn since I started this, and I haven't been nearly as achy as I am at times. The positives from this diet far outweigh the sometimes cravings I have to deny myself. I still miss and want cake.

I remember at Christmas I couldn't go after Christmas shopping with my mom and my sister because I knew I wouldn't be able to stick to my new budget. Now I can go to the mall or my favorite shop without overspending or even spending at all because I have it under control. I'm hoping this diet will eventually be that easy... one day I'll be able to go to my favorite restaurant and order the right thing that fits with my diet and not be sad that I'm missing out on the bread basket or whatever. :) I'm looking forward to that.

I think what I most look forward to is that at the end of the summer I'll have really worked hard and succeeded at being a new Joanna. I'll have paid off my credit card debt and have learned to manage my money. I'll also have lost half of the weight I need/want to lose. The journey to pay off my credit card has taken years. The journey of weight loss is going to take at least a year. I'm learning that changing yourself and changing your lifestyle takes some serious time, but wow I'm looking at those numbers on my debt and my weight go down, and nothing feels better!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gone to South Beach... BRB!

So I've started the South Beach Diet. To be honest while I do feel it is a new way of looking at food, a new lifestyle, and all -- I'm still going to call it a diet. :) It's super different though. Instead of the old Weight Watchers idea of looking at fat and fiber, I'm looking at sugars and fiber. It's just a different way of seeing things.

Right now I'm in Phase I which means I can only have veggies (but not corn and carrots), lean meats, low fat cheeses, nuts, beans, and assorted condiments for two weeks. It's not as bad as I thought it would be (and believe me I about cried when I saw the food list at first). I've done it for a day over a week now, and I've lost 6.8 pounds. I can't see the difference in my body yet, but there are some big differences in my life that I notice:

1. I drink a TON of water now. Never before on any diet have I been able to easily drink the amount of water I'm supposed to drink. Now I drink water all day and enjoy it.

2. My refrigerator is full, and my pantry is almost totally barren! Typically it's the other way around for me. My crisper drawers are full; my freezer has veggie stir fry mixes in it; and at the end of the week, I need to buy more! I used to find months old frozen veggies in the freezer and rotted fresh veggies in the crisper drawers.

3. Grocery shopping has totally changed for me. I stick to the edges of the store where the fresh stuff is, and I barely go down any aisles. It's not as expensive to eat healthy as I thought either since I'm just cooking for one.

4. I used to never eat breakfast, and now I eat it daily. I used to say it just made me hungrier earlier to eat in the mornings. Not true anymore -- that was my body burning through the carbs super fast and leaving me hungry!

5. I don't depend on food/snacking so much anymore. Although I'll tell you that you can overdo celery and no sugar added peanut butter. I still have a stomach ache today from that...

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my food. Those first few days I had fairly constant headaches from the lack of caffeine (if it's not real Coke, I didn't really want it anymore, so I switched totally to water). I also wanted to go out and buy a cake and eat the whole thing, but ultimately I didn't want to ruin what I was working towards. I can still enjoy a good steak or a really good meal... I just can't have the carbs. Most of the time I don't miss the stuff I can't have. I tell myself I don't need it, and I move on. Although out of everything I miss I think potatoes rank high on the list, but I'm even starting to stop missing those. I didn't believe that you could reach a point where you didn't miss stuff, but I'm getting there fast. In a week I'll be in Phase II and get to add in some good carbs and some fruits, but I won't be jumping on those. I'm going to do those slowly because I don't want to plateau.

I guess I finally got to the point with my body and my diet that I got to with my spending a few months ago -- it was totally out of control. A while back I wrote about changing my spending habits and working to pay off my credit card debt. I'll be done paying off my credit card in August (or September) because I've really been sticking to my budget. I've gotten to the point where I've learned to live comfortably within my tight budget, and I don't miss shopping sprees anymore. At Christmas time I couldn't go day after Christmas shopping with my mom and sister because I knew I couldn't trust myself NOT to spend money. Now I can go through my favorite clothing store, look around, and leave without buying anything (even that really sparkly top that would look so cute on me)! I decided if I could conquer my money issues, I could conquer my food issues.

I've talked with some of my friends about being supportive. In fact, I've been a bit more stern than I probably needed to be, and while I apologize for that I must say that I have no room for criticism with this new step in my life. Most of my friends have been exactly what I need -- asking how it's going, NOT acting like they can tell that I've lost weight when it's only been 5 pounds (because you can't - don't lie to me!), and being sympathetic on my first day on the diet (when I just wanted to sit around a whine exhaustedly). Thing is... I'm going to be talking about this. I'm going to be sharing my successes when I have them and looking for someone to help me make sense of it all if/when I plateau. I need my friends whether or not they're on South Beach with me or not -- I need them to be there for me. :)

You have to understand, I'm doing this to try to make myself happy with me - to be something I can be happy about. I'm not happy with how I look, and I'm ready to change that. I look back at pictures from late high school and my 1st 2 years of college, and I like the weight I was then. I can get back there and be happy.

I'm also doing this to improve my health and lifestyle. I want to be able to run around with my niece and nephew more easily. I want to sit next to someone and not feel self conscious about how much space I'm taking up. Most importantly I want to bring my blood pressure down before it nudges over borderline into high, and I have to go on meds! LaRae and I have been talking about how much different it will be to visit Disney World again when we're much smaller. :) I look forward to that!

I know somewhere down the road I'm going to have to add in some exercise, but that probably won't happen until this summer. It's pretty amazing to me that I'm willing to start a new diet while state testing season stress is still going full tilt, but I'm ready for a change I guess.

My goal is to hit my goal weight: 150 pounds in a year or so. I'd be super excited if I made it to that weight by the summer after this one coming up. It's time for a new Joanna (spending conquered, onto the next battle)!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nightmares & Burglaries

My nights have not been so pleasant lately. I've been having vivid nightmares -- so bad that I sometimes wake up gasping for air, clutching for Sprinkles, and at their worst, with my face wet with tears. When I was on antidepressants I would have vivid dreams, and while some were nightmares, others were just weird and not altogether disturbing. This is different; I'm not on meds. I'm just apparently going insane.

A week or two ago it started with a bizarre dream: LaRae, Randy, the kids, and I went back to Disney World. We decided to go deluxe and stay at Caribbean Beach (which is moderate, not deluxe), and somehow in an attempt to save money, we ended up in this group room where we had dorm-like bathrooms (with rows of showers with glass walls) and pool lounge chairs for beds. It was a nightmare in the sense that no one else seemed to be concerned at all about how not ok it was for us to pay so much money to stay in a room with strangers, glass-walled showers, and no real beds!

Last week though, it got bad. It started with me dreaming that I lost Sprinkles on an airport train (through a series of strange flashes of events), and no one was concerned. I was sure he was gone, and I woke up shaking and searching for him. I finally fell back to sleep to have the nightmare end with me finding him finally. Then the nightmare decided I couldn't have happy ending, and I dreamt that Mom and Dad had died, and when we went back for the funeral - LaRae, Sprinkles, and I - we stopped over in Woodstock and then went on to Lake Butler to bury them. Since the house is paid off, our aunt and uncle (I'm not even bothering to say which set since it was a nightmare, and I think it says something about them if I name them) asked to start living in the house. When we came back from the funeral, we needed to stay in Woodstock for a bit, but they'd already moved in. They told me I could sleep outside or on the couch as my old room had already been converted into a study! In the end, my sister was arguing with them that I had to have a place to sleep because even though we said they could use the house, it was still technically ours. I sat in the corner numb and unable to speak. I woke up feeling abandoned, panicked that I had lost those that I love the most, and scared.

Back in the real world -- Friday my aunt's house in Georgia was broken into. They only got away with about $14 in quarters partly because she was smart to keep her real jewelry hidden in separate places and partly, I think, because she interrupted them while they were robbing her house. That's right -- you read it right -- she INTERRUPTED them! From what my dad tells me, she pulled into the garage (midday mind you) and noticed that the door into the house from the garage was open. She thought it was strange but quietly went in the house. From just inside, she thought she could see that the door to the back porch was open, and then the noticed the guest room just inside the garage door had the light on and the door open (which she knew she kept closed since she wasn't using that room lately). She turned around, went outside, and around the house. The door to the basement was closed and locked, but the door on the porch was open, so she went to the neighbor's house. The wife was home and called the police. When the husband came home, he went over (before the police) with a bat or something. The door to the porch was now closed, so he went in. The robbers were gone, but they found a large knife from the kitchen in the guest room (that she had been standing maybe 10 feet from the door!) and one on the floor of the kitchen. When she got home, she apparently hemmed them in. The prospect of them hurting her is terrifying and I am so grateful that she is physically safe. The police refused to even take fingerprints. Jerks. Dad was over there last night putting in some more deadbolts, but Mom said she's not sure when my aunt will ever feel safe going back and staying the night there.

The fear from LaRae's house being broken in to last summer was so strong. We were so lucky that they were out of the house by the time we came home. I can't imagine what would have happened if they had still been there. This break in at my aunt's terrifies me even more. Last night I thought of it just after the lights were out, and I was scared to go to sleep. How does anyone feel safe when jerks like this exist?!

So last night I tossed and turned, so this afternoon I took a nap instead of going to Small Groups (with church). Again, a nightmare ruined my peaceful sleep. This post is long enough, so I'm not going into what the nightmare was... I just don't get why I'm having nightmares. At work, there's stress like every Spring (state testing season and all), but I'm not letting it get to me like usual. I'm more calm, more zen, and more happy than I have been any other Spring so far. After 4 years I finally feel like I have it figured out enough to stay calm. I'm handling everything better.

Maybe I'm not handling it. Maybe I'm just holding it all in, and I'm shoving it so deep down that it's all coming out as nightmares? I don't know the reason for the nightmares or if something deeper is going on in my mind that I'm not fully aware of. I just know that I need to have restful sleep to stay healthy and doing my best in all aspects of my life. Do you believe nightmares have hidden meanings? The theme seems to be loss (even in the one I didn't tell you about). Now on top of stress and long hours at work, I've added fear to the mix, which I'm fighting, but when the lights go off, the mind will wander. It's just weird is all.

On a happy note, I had an awesome Valentine's Day with Katelyn and Joshua that if I have time, I'll write about in a happier post. :) Thank God for great, precious neices and nephews!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Contemplating the "Add"

I teach high school. I see high school drama daily. There's a reason we call it "high school drama." It's hormone-driven, brought on by the lack of wisdom of youth, and typically totally unnecessary. Sitting there reading this I bet you can easily recall bits of your own high school drama. Often I think that drama is some of the stuff we most regret, but back then could we really stop it from happening?

"I'm so sick of drama!" It's an anthem painfully screamed by many to no avail. Heck, I still scream it (with a bit less melodrama of a 15 year old) at work and at home from time to time. Being sick of drama doesn't make it go away. Being aware of the drama doesn't make it go away. Drama is drama is drama.

So I'm on Facebook, been on there for a year or so. Like most of the newcomers to Facebook, I didn't discover it until I was out of school. When I first joined, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of friend requests I made and received. It was great! Every time I turned on my computer more people wanted to catch up with me! I had a lot of friends and acquaintances in high school, but I also knew drama (and often it was "band drama" which I am now convinced is some of the worst high school drama out there). I also had quite a few friends in college, and I was able to find them all and catch up on Facebook. Ah, the joy of the internet -- allowing us to "catch up" without even speaking! If only I'd found this sooner!

Truth is that I've always been looking forward in my life. I hit a point in high school where all I wanted was to leave and be at Harding. I was so focused on Harding and my goals that I lost some friends along the way. I was miserably depressed (totally undiagnosed until college) and needed a fresh start. In college I was focused on the joy of being at Harding... for a while. Then I adopted the "eyes on the prize" attitude and craved my own classroom. I don't know that I lost college friends from that per say, but I did weed out the ones who weren't helping me be the person I wanted to be (in that last year or so).

So now I'm a teacher. I'm done with being a high school-er. I'm through with Harding. Where is my prize? It's Heaven. I'm ok waiting a while for that one -- making my mark on this earth and trying to bring more souls with me when I go. That's the big difference I guess: I'm trying to bring people with me to my final prize.

OK, I'm digressing from my title of my post. So recently I've put in friend requests to a couple of people that I counted as either best friends or ex-boyfriends from high school, and (I'm sort of ashamed to say) they didn't add me. You can tell, you know? It goes from saying "friend requested" by their name to "add as friend". They ignored my request. Not one to give up easily, I requested their add again, this time with a kind note. DENIED! What?! How could you not want to be my friend! Ding Ding Ding! There it is. Did you see it? High school drama -- snuck right back in and claimed my mind. Suddenly I'm stuck sitting here feeling like one of my students: rejected and like the world's against me. Sigh.

I started reflecting. See in my "eyes on the prize" journey from teen years to now, I lost touch with people. I'm very much an "out of sight, out of mind" person. If you leave, if you move, I lose touch. You can't count on me to be the one to pick up the phone. Now, if you pick it up, I'm much more likely to keep in touch and return calls. It takes effort though, and I hate the phone. If I'd kept up better with email addresses, or we'd had Facebook after high school, I think it would have been so much more different. I wouldn't have hurt feeling by not keeping up like I should have.

College friends all pretty much add me. Not enough time has gone by for them to realize that I'm horrid at keeping up. Thank you Facebook for helping me reconnect with them before it was too late to catch up.

After reflecting (and agonizing a bit), I talked to my sister (who must have a hidden "How to be the Best Big Sister and Give the Best Advice" manual around somewhere), and I thought about it, and I came to one big conclusion: who cares?? Easy, eh? No excuses really. So I didn't keep up; you didn't either. I refuse to be defined by my past, and if someone who was my friend can't give me the chance to see that I've changed, so be it. Really it all comes down to the fact that we're all human. We all make mistakes, and we're all worth knowing. So we lost touch; use this time to get back in touch. Don't hold grudges. What's the point? I think I have learned to forgive so easily because I have been forgiven much (by God and those who love me).

So it comes down to this really. Do we let high school drama come back up in our adult lives, or do we just get over it, re-connect, and move on? I choose the latter. I have no time for drama. I have no patience with drama unless it's true high school drama. After all I'm a high school teacher. One of the reasons to be one is to help my students through that drama, so one day they can say "I don't care if you didn't add me. Quit being petty." I miss those I can't catch up with, don't get me wrong, but I won't shed any tears over it. I can't because I'm sick of drama. :)

Authors' Disclaimer: Should you find me on said Facebook, I will honor your friend request as long as I know who you are (since my momma taught me not to talk to strangers) and you are not one of my students (as the district asks us not to add you).