A Simple Christmas

It was one of the best Christmases ever, if not The Best. It wasn’t that anything spectacular happened. It was a relatively low key month. I don’t go crazy with baking cookies and putting up Christmas décor or anything like that because…well, it could drive me crazy! If I know that baking 49 different kinds of cookies is going to end up with me in a bad mood, feeling stressed, and yelling at my girls, then why bother? It’s not like we need more sugar at this time of the year! The same goes for those other things. I considered an advent activity, but after thinking it over, it seemed like something that would end up being overwhelming, so I decided not to. Maybe next year.

curlysisters1

What made this Christmas good was not because of all the amazing, heart-warming things we did, but just a deep sense that life is good, that we are blessed. 2013 brought some difficult decisions and changes, but for some reason, I look back and call it the best year we’ve had in a long time.

IMG_13892

It’s just so good to enjoy the small things of life. After Lauren was stillborn over 4 years ago, it was really rough for awhile. There were months of deep grief. After Emily was born, I thought things would be better, and they were for awhile, but then came months and months of hormonal problems and depression and high stress which was likely exacerbated by Emily being a high maintenance baby and toddler. A lot of the next couple years are a rather dark blur. There were plenty of good times to be sure, but it just felt like I was living under a dark cloud.

girls42

It’s so much better now. Supplements and changing my diet helped a lot, I think. I lost 30 pounds this year, and while I was hoping for more, I am glad for the positive benefits that have accompanied that. I haven’t been exercising faithfully for too long, and I know if I am going to make it through another grey winter, I am going to need to find a way to get motivated. I trained for and ran in a 5k this year, and while I am NOT a fast runner, I found running to be amazing for my mood. It’s hard to do in the winter, though. I don’t have a good place to run right now, but I do miss it. I hope I can get back to it in the spring and maybe make another 5k one of my goals… as well as crushing my previous time!!

3k+a2

I didn’t set out to write about diet and exercise. Most of the time I don’t even want to think of it! I have gotten so lazy lately and my diet is far from being on track. I have to break my sugar habit again now, because of all the holiday treats! Anyway, my point is that overall, I feel so much better than I did for so long, mentally and physically. I can tell that it’s winter, though. I always feel worse in the winter.

So yes, our simple Christmas was perfect. We got together with Kendall’s family at a cabin in November, and we were at my brother’s place last weekend with my family minus the sister in Belize who we really missed. We opened our gifts on Christmas eve while enjoying the warm fireplace, and then had the ones of Kendall’s family that were around and not working for lunch on Christmas day, which netted a few more presents, much to the delight of our girls. We have one more family gathering next week and that’s it for the holidays.

I am looking forward to the year ahead. I haven’t made any official New Year’s resolutions, at least not yet, but I would like to make a few this year that I can work toward. I don’t make absolutes like “I won’t eat any junk food for a year” or “I will not lose my temper in 2014” but I want to make progress in areas like that. I find that when I make small goals to meet on the way to an ultimate goal (such as weight loss) I feel motivated when I reach the small goal to keep going toward the next one.

I will leave you with a few Christmas pictures.

I bought a gingerbread house kit because there was no way I was gonna make one from scratch. It actually tasted good, but I wasn’t fond of the candy included… or my gingerbread decorating skills. Oh wait! I could just say the girls put it together by themselves, and that’s why it’s not perfect. Yes, that’s the story I will go with! {cough, cough!} Oh well, they were happy!

100_8341

These girls are only 3 months apart. They had a lot of fun together. 100_8370

100_8371

Christmas eve… I found the camera out in the cold vehicle, so it didn’t cooperate very well for picture taking. Not that it ever cooperates that well. I would buy a new camera if I wasn’t so confused about what to buy for what I want. There are too many options!

100_8408

We got a Bible for Emily. She was beyond thrilled. That was easily her favorite gift. The second best was a knock-off Doc McStuffin-ish coloring book!100_8405

Christmas day they got almost more gifts than they did Christmas eve from us. It doesn’t take much to make them happy, so they were thrilled. I think they got way more than enough!!

000_0460

000_0461

And that pretty much wraps up the year for us.  Only 5 more days left until a brand new year. I am looking forward to it!

Advertisements

Of Diets and Such

I have my windows open today for the first time in a long time! There is some sunshine, it is only 73 degrees, and there is a breeze. I’ll take it!

This week has been both good and bad… it’s good because I’ve been able to stay home for 4 days in row. I don’t know when that last happened. Maybe never. It’s good because staying home means I don’t cheat on my diet and that means better weight loss. I actually spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen yesterday cooking and baking, and didn’t even mind it too much. The kitchen is not my favorite room of the house. Not even close!!

But it’s been a fairly rough week as far as being a mom goes. A couple days ago, it wasn’t very pretty around here. This morning was a really rough morning.  Emily has been kind of hard to live with again. She rarely obeys me and she’s often really mean to Kierra, and that makes it hard for all of us. Nap time is my favorite time of the day, really! Then we have some peace and quiet. Yesterday Emily was awakened early from her nap because of a thunderstorm. I knew she was scared, and didn’t have the heart to tell her she had to go back to bed, but she didn’t get as much sleep as she needed, and it still showed this morning in her behavior.

But… we carry on. Some days are harder than others, but I choose to believe that Emily won’t be like this forever. She’ll either outgrow this or we’ll figure out what makes her act like she does. I hope that time comes sooner rather than later, but if it’s later, may God give us lots of grace and wisdom!

100_7461(and no, we do not actually drive on the road like this. Kendall came home from work and they rushed out to meet him)

Back to the diet thing. I feel like talking about this today since I had the lowest number on the scales today that I’ve seen in almost 9 years! I don’t remember what I weighed when we first got married, but I know in the year before and the 2 years after marriage, I gained at least 60 pounds. I still am not sure what all that was about. It was mostly stress, probably, because Emily has been a high stress child for the past 2 1/2 years, and that’s when my weight started climbing again. Not as quickly, because I knew more about nutrition and health and exercise than I did before.

So by the end of  2006, I had reached my about my highest non-pregnant weight. Then I got pregnant, and only gained 20 pounds which I lost in a week or two after Kierra was born. I stayed about that weight until I got pregnant again, except for a brief moment when Kendall and I went on the South Beach diet. I did lose then, but gained it all back fairly quickly. That was such a short phase in our lives that I don’t really count it!  I got pregnant with Lauren the end of 2008 and weighed the same as I did before Kierra. I was pretty sick that time which helped me not to gain too much, and I lost all that weight within a week or two after she was stillborn. I ended up pretty much exactly where I had been. Not more, not less.

About 6 weeks later, I got serious about losing weight, and from September 2009 to March 2010, I lost 30 pounds, averaging just over a pound a week, simply by cutting back on portions. When I got pregnant with Emily, I knew I wouldn’t be losing for awhile, but I figured that I could just resume where I left off soon after she was born. That was so naive of me!! I gained a few more pounds with her than with the others because I didn’t get very sick, and then I didn’t lose the normal 20 pounds after delivery. I ended up 7 pounds more than I was before pregnancy with her, and that is where I stayed. I hung around  that one number for the next year and a half, a few pounds less if I was really strict, and a few pounds more if I wasn’t. I literally could not lose weight the way I could before. Believe me, I tried. Then last summer, we were gone a LOT from the end of May to the middle of June, and I gained a few more pounds that I could not get rid of.

I think the reason for all this was a lot of stress and hormone imbalances and depression. I don’t know what caused what, but I believe they were all closely intertwined. There were some really dark moments and a lot of frustration when things that were supposed to help (like exercise) only made things worse. Then I read a book called The Mood Cure by Julia Ross that made a lot of sense. It explained so many things to me. I had 3 of the 4 mood disorders that she talked about. What fun! No wonder I was so messed up! When I take the recommended supplements, it helps a lot. My problem is, I hate taking pills so I have a bad habit of skipping them for extended periods of time. Very unwise of me, I know.

Anyway, these supplements, when taken faithfully, helped ease the stress and the dark cloud and the lack of energy and motivation, but it didn’t help my weight. By the beginning of this year, I was at my very highest weight since losing those 30 pounds. (I only gained 15 back, so I was still smaller than I was once was, thankfully!) Like any good woman, I resolved to lose weight in the new year.  😉 But I wasn’t very faithful in a diet, although I did exercise fairly faithfully and lost some inches, and a couple pounds.

I kept hearing about the Trim Healthy Mama diet. And yes, any THM’ers reading this, I KNOW we aren’t supposed to call it a diet, but a lifestyle.  I may follow this long-term, but I still am going to call it a diet since the first definition of diet is “what a person or animal eats: the food that a person or animal usually consumes.” That totally fits!!

Anyway, you can read more about this book at http://www.gwens-nest.com/natural-remedies/trim-healthy-mama-book-review/. There is also a facebook group that you can join-http://www.facebook.com/groups/trimhealthymamas . It has a LOT of information . You can buy the book  at http://www.trimhealthymama.com/

Now I will tell you about my experience with Trim Healthy Mama. I started this diet exactly 4 months ago in March. The book is kind of expensive, so I borrowed it from the library to see if it worked. I spent a week reading it (it’s a big book) and that gave me 2 weeks to implement what I read to see if it worked.

Essentially, the premise of the diet is that you don’t eat large amounts of carbs and fats together. Apparently, our bodies burn carbs first, and if we also ate plenty of fats, by the time our body is done taking care of the carbs, it’s tired and never gets around to burning the fats we ate. But if we eat them in separate meals, our body is better able to efficiently metabolize both. Things like pizza are not off limits, if you have a very low carb crust with it. Regular pizza crust is not low carb at all, if you wondered!

It’s a big learning curve at first, but it soon gets much easier. The first few days were absolute torture for me. I made the mistake of deciding to wait a couple days to have any carb (or E for energizing) meals, and my body groaned and protested and screamed for carbs and sugar. Most of the time I do one E meal a day (usually breakfast) and 2 meals with healthy fats (S for satisfying) a day. That works the best for me. After the initial detox off sugar, and after adding in healthy carbs, I was fine. In fact, I soon realized that I seldom have low blood sugar symptoms anymore. I never officially tested my blood sugar, but I am positive it would dip very low if I didn’t eat often enough, which caused me to get very irritable if I didn’t eat soon enough and led to eating more than I should have and to eating things with unhealthy carbs to make me feel better.

This is essentially still a low carb diet, since the E meals have a limit of about 45 carbs. That means you want to be smart about what carbs you eat. I forgot to say that each meal should center around a protein, and then the carbs or fats will round it out. There aren’t really calorie limits and you aren’t supposed to let yourself get really hungry. How the diet ends up looking is a little different for everyone.

How you lose varies greatly from person to person, too. Some people lose 20 pounds in the first month. I lost 7.  Some people feel way better physically than they have in years within a short time. I can’t say that I can tell a dramatic difference. But then, I don’t think I am allergic to any of the food I ate before. Some people feel physically terrible when they cheat on their diet, and I can’t say that I do. I almost wish I would, because then it would be easier not to cheat.

It’s been up and down for me with this diet. I do believe it works for most  people. I believe in the principles behind it. It might not be The Only Way to lose weight, but I think it is a good way. In the past couple months, I haven’t been losing much, but we were away more than at home, and sometimes it was impossible to eat the THM way, and I often didn’t make the best choices I could have. I don’t crave bad food as much as I used to, and I don’t actually LIKE some of it like I used to, but there are some things that I still have a hard time saying “no” to. This diet is fairly forgiving, but you can’t cheat almost every day and still hope to lose, and that’s what I’d been doing.

But today, I finally saw a new number on the scales, one I haven’t seen for a lot of years! That puts me at 19.5 pounds lost in 4 months. It’s not dramatic, but it’s so much better than having gained a couple more pounds, which I undoubtedly would have done in the chaotic busyness of the end of May and the month of June otherwise! My clothes are pretty much all too big, and some of them are WAY too big. That’s a good problem to have. The downside is that I can’t really afford a new wardrobe right now, but I am sure we will figure something out!

Also, along with the too big dresses, I measured myself for the first time in a long time today, and since March, I have lost inches almost everywhere. One problem area measured 6 inches smaller. Woohoo! I have a long way to go, but I am glad to have gotten this far, and I have renewed motivation to stick to this thing!

I don’t have an official before and after pictures, but here I am September 2009, January 2013, and July 2013.  36 pounds lost total, 21 pounds since January, and 19.5 pounds on Trim Healthy Mama. These aren’t great pictures, especially not for before and afters, but you can at least see my face, and that alone says plenty. I think I will keep on trying. It may be slow, but it is progress!

before middle 100_7445