Notice of Changes

You will notice that some of my albums are "empty" on my Facebook page and that some pages and pictures are missing on here and on Natural and Free. Don't worry - they won't stay that way. :) In light of some recent events, I've had to watermark my photos and designed images. Until that is done and I get a chance to upload them, my FREE Fibro Banners and Badges and Inspirational Designs {By Me} pages will be down, and the albums under the same (or almost the same) names on my Facebook page will be empty, and pictures will be deleted and watermarked at various times for as long as it takes to get that done. I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. Thank you for understanding! In the mean time, if there is an image you would like that you saw or have an idea for a new one, feel free to email me or leave me a comment, and I'll do what I can to get one to you. :)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why I Use My Calorie Counter

A picture taken last September of a double rainbow I thought you'd enjoy! :) 
I'm not sure if I took it or my hubby, but isn't it lovely?
 
As I've mentioned before, I use My Calorie Counter on EverydayHealth.com.  For those of you who know me outside of the blogging world, you may find this surprising.  Why?  Because I'm generally really against counting calories, counting fat grams, counting carbs, exercising for weight loss, etc.  I suppose that by saying that I use My Calorie Counter and LIKE it makes me sound like a hypocrite, but I promise, I'm not.  Let me explain.
 
When I "fell off the wagon" and started eating basically anything and everything and gained back nearly 100 lbs. of what I'd lost, I realized that I'd lost sight of portion sizes, lost my ability to exercise self-control and stopped caring about my health in lieu of short-term gratification or self-medicating my emotional hurts with food.  I realized that this HAD to stop, and I was kinda at a loss of where to go and how to start, etc. since all my doctor could really tell me was things like "Eat better and exercise more" (Ok, so that wasn't all he said, but I didn't want to ramble. :) ).  It's not that he didn't want to give me direction or guidance, in fact he gave me lots of information and helpful tips.  The problem was I needed something with accountability that didn't require me to join a group that I paid for.  I realized I didn't want to have embarrassing weigh-ins or join a health club or gym either.  What was I going to do?
 
Enter My Calorie Counter.  I found that I could customize it.  I could be as public or as private as I wished.  I could even make daily notes on what worked and didn't work for me.  I could join groups or not.  I could make friends or not.  It was FREE.  Hallelujah!  Jackpot! :)
 
I realized something I hadn't realized before, too.  Maybe I am just dense or maybe you're like me and this will be eye-opening for you like it was for me.  Did you know that you don't have to burn all the calories you put into your body in order to lose weight?  Did you realize that your body burns x amount of calories even if you do nothing, and if you don't get enough calories you can actually GAIN weight?  I can honestly say I didn't.  Joining My Calorie Counter showed me this truth, and I'm grateful for it.
 
Ok, so if I'm against counting calories and exercising for weight loss (I think you should use it for fun, tone and health), among other things, why do I use a program designed to count calories?  Well, for one, I expect this to be somewhat short term.  Once I get used to recognizing proper portion sizes again, once I can eyeball about how much I should be eating for each meal, I need this tool.  It keeps me honest.
 
I also like that I can keep track of how foods and daily events effect me.  This is great for noting what my triggers for my Fibromyalgia are.  That is beyond worth its weight in gold. :)
 
I have found, too, that the thought of having to record the fact that I ate that candy bar (worth 1/2 a meal's calories - YIKES!) to be enough to deter me more often than not.  That's a good thing.
 
I am learning more about food and exercise, too.  Did you know that men can eat what amounts to a whole other meal a day than a woman and still lose weight?  I know, so unfair, but it explains a lot.  I've realized now that I cannot compare my eating habits to my hubby's because our anatomies are simply too different.  He can eat more than me, so therefore he should be eating more than me - by quite a bit.  If he's eating normally and I'm eating as much or more than him, especially if it's not veggies, then Houston, we have a BIG problem.  Talk about eye-opening!
 
I've realized that you can burn a lot of calories by doing housework and playing with the kiddos!  Really!  It's amazing.  Extra motivation to keep up with the laundry and bathroom and to take time out to dance around my living room with my 2 year old or playing hide-n-seek with her or chase my boys around like a crazy lady.  Bonus for all. :)
 
Whenever I've not been able to keep up with my calorie intake right away (like we've been over to my folks for the day) and I have to enter everything when I get home, I realize that I do quite well already balancing calories in with calories out.  I think part of that is because I'm now aware of my eating again - it's not an idle exercise anymore.  I'm glad of that.  I figure in a few months, I'll be a pro and not really need the program anymore, but I like the extra accountability so I'll probably stick with it. :)
 
Now, I don't deprive myself - I eat that chocolate (the proper kind that doesn't make me sick, that is) when I really want it or eat that juicy steak.  The only thing is that now I eat less or I plan for the indulgence.  This is a change I think works for me.  I've lost 12 lbs. and 13 and 3/4 inches since starting the program on August 5th, 2012 (22 lbs. overall since July-ish), so I think I'll stick with it, too. :)
 
If you're struggling with being honest with yourself about your eating habits, I encourage you to try My Calorie Counter.  It may be just what you're looking for to turn your health around. :)
 
***
 
Oh, before you go...
My recipe/information blog for those with or those caring for those with the top 8 food allergens, Natural and Free, is up for Top 25 Food Allergy Moms - 2012 on Circle of Moms!  If you want to support me in this, if you have been to Natural and Free and feel it worthy of the title, I'd be honored if you would click on the icon above and vote on my blog or follow this link: http://www.circleofmoms.com/blogger/natural-free?blogroll_id=78.  Once you get to the page, find my blog (it's currently at 33, but that could change - you'll see my picture and Natural and Free) unless you use the link which is a direct link to my blogger profile and takes the searching out for you :), and click on the little thumbs up button next to the word "vote".
Voting ends October 17th. You can vote once every 24 hours if you wish (so if you vote at 3pm today, you can't vote again until 3pm tomorrow). You don't have to be a member of Circle of Moms to vote (or even a mom or woman for that matter), either, so if you really want me in the top 25, encourage those you know to vote, too. :) Thank you so much!
Oh, and while you're there, check out the other nominees. You can vote for more than just me if you wish, just only one vote per blog per 24 hours. I know I personally have voted for a few of my blogger buddies who are more than deserving of the title. :)
Thanks for the support, and have an amazing day! :)
 
 

Friday, September 28, 2012

I Have Exciting News!

 
My recipe/information blog for those with or those caring for those with the top 8 food allergens, Natural and Free, is up for Top 25 Food Allergy Moms - 2012 on Circle of Moms!

If you want to support me in this, if you have been to Natural and Free and feel it worthy of the title, I'd be honored if you would click on the icon above and vote on my blog or follow this link: http://www.circleofmoms.com/blogger/natural-free?blogroll_id=78. Once you get to the page, find my blog (it's currently at 31, but that could change - you'll see my picture and Natural and Free) unless you use the link which is a direct link to my blogger profile and takes the searching out for you :), and click on the little thumbs up button next to the word "vote". Voting ends October 17th. You can vote once every 24 hours if you wish (so if you vote at 3pm today, you can't vote again until 3pm tomorrow). You don't have to be a member of Circle of Moms to vote (or even a mom or woman for that matter), either, so if you really want me in the top 25, encourage those you know to vote, too. :) Thank you so much!
Oh, and while you're there, check out the other nominees. You can vote for more than just me if you wish, just only one vote per blog per 24 hours.   I know I personally have voted for a few of my blogger buddies who are more than deserving of the title. :)

Thanks so much for the support!

In other news...

I'm doing pretty good for the most part, but adjusting to fall weather, as gorgeous as it's been, has been a lot more difficult than I imagined.  The cold nights are leaving me stiff in the morning (and causing pain issues more often), and I have developed a head cold of sorts and am currently fighting off a fever (Boo! Hiss!).  It's been an adventure to say the least!

I have discovered something new that has lifted my spirits (aside from the votes for my blog which just melt my heart, just so you know :) ), though: aroma therapy!  I had no idea that the fall smells were such a relaxing, uplifting thing for me.  I have some Wallflowers from Bath and Body Works in their autumn line of fragrances and they simply put me in an amazing mood!

Not only that, but I have a few candles that have lavender and/or vanilla scent in them that I have enjoyed that are also very calming and uplifting.  If I'm feeling particularly stressed, I light one and within a short time, I'm feeling better.  Promise!  It's true!

The other thing that has helped is my new found love for homemade tea lattes like Sweet Chai or Mint.  The aroma is divine, and there is nothing like holding a warm mug in your hands on a crisp day, especially one that smells delicious. :)

If you suffer from Fibromyalgia like I do, I would encourage you to look for aroma therapy scents for around the house.  You may not find the smell of Chai soothing and lavender may make you sick, but you may notice that the smell of pumpkin makes you smile or apples or berries or something spicy.  Go to a store like Bath and Body Works and take the time to smell their soaps, lotions, candles and Wallflowers.  They have amazing sales and scents to please almost anyone, so you're sure to find something you like that fits the bill. :)

Aim for finding a scent that makes you think happy thoughts or sends you into "Ahh!" mode.  It doesn't have to be a candle or Wallflower if your hubby or family can't handle the smell throughout the home.  It can be a soap or lotion that you can get out from time to time.  You may find that having some form of aroma therapy is more than a little helpful like I have. :)  It's worth a try!

Have a great weekend, and thanks again for reading me and for your support! :)
 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Doctor's Visit Yesterday

A picture I took a few years back of a beautiful autumn tree
at my parents' camp in honor of the upcoming season! :)
 
 
I went to the doctor's yesterday as a follow-up on my Fibromyalgia.  I will say it was an interesting visit.
 
For one, I've lost 10 lbs. since he saw me 6 weeks ago.  He was pleased with that, and so was I, of course. :)  Losing weight never hurts anything when you are overweight.  Hopefully it will continue to come off, and I think it will as long as I follow "the rules", if you get me. :)
 
My doctor was very surprised to hear that I was doing so well without any real meds for Fibromyalgia.  I'm not on an anti-depressant, I'm not on a daily pain med (just one as needed that I don't need unless I can't/don't avoid triggers and only if they lead to pain - they don't always)...I'm not on anything except a natural, whole foods diet (with few exceptions), light daily exercise and some vitamins/supplements.  He still wanted me to try an anti-depressant, but I told him I really didn't want to go down that path unless absolutely necessary, and he said (basically), "Well, you seem to be doing very well with what you're doing, so I guess it's not necessary."  Music to my ears. :)
 
I told him about the difference my diet, exercise habits, environmental changes (as much as I am capable of controlling) has made, and that I originally thought I was crazy when I noticed that weather could trigger pain or eating this or that could make me feel better or worse, etc.  I then told him that I personally knew about 4 or so people with Fibromyalgia who assured me I was NOT crazy, that those things absolutely did matter, and I even had my research online and in books and with some new online blogger buddies confirm it, too.  I was amazed at the look of astonishment on his face.  He really had no idea that Fibromyalgia was like that.  I mean, he did the research - he shared it with me - but to actually hear that diet makes a difference, that light exercise helps, that environment, etc. can affect it so easily blew his mind.
 
I have a cousin (by marriage) who has 3 children who all have autism that they are able to keep controlled (cured even, in a sense) by keeping them away from allergens (they all have a lot of very serious food allergies) and eating right, among other things (food is not the only thing that needed to be changed/worked on - it's taken years and lots of effort to figure it all out - but as she says, you can't begin to address the rest of the health/behavior issues until the food is taken care of).  She has been saying for years that paying attention to diet is essential for maximum health, and I know she's right, especially now.  She is an inspiration, and I encourage you to read her blog - great stuff, and very helpful.
 
Anyway, I realized yesterday that our medical community really doesn't know as much as they should about the effect of diet on the human populous.  How many things could we "cure" or "reverse" if we just made an effort to eat the way God intended?  Think of how many of the major diseases were practically unheard of as little as 30 years ago, and think of how our diets have changed in that amount of time.  I don't think it's coincidence.  I think we need to be more aware of what we put into our bodies, and I think if we strive to rid our bodies of the preservatives and processed food, then we can regain our lives, our health and even eliminate some diseases (like some cancers and Fibromyalgia) or at least greatly reduce them.
 
I am not against modern medicine...when it's needed.  I think we tend to medicate first instead of pray and seek God's wisdom, instead of seeing if changing our diet can help, instead of seeing if we have an allergies, etc.  I would rather spend a little time and effort into looking into changing my lifestyle and aiming for total wellness, than just medicate the symptoms.  Don't misunderstand me - my kids get vaccinations, but not every last one out there (there are a few we disagree with giving to our kids for our own reasons), and we all take antibiotics as needed and my husband, oldest son and I all take medications on a daily basis prescribed for medical conditions (like Hashimoto's Thyroiditis in my and my son's case) that can only be treated with medication, and we all have medications to use "when needed".  However, we strive to take as little medication as possible simply because we know that the body can get dependent or it can do more harm than good.  Because of this practice, we are able to get away with lower dosages when the meds are needed than some, and that's a good thing. 
 
I know there are those of you out there who are on lots of meds, and I'm sure you believe you need them, and it is likely you do - at least a good number of them - and that's ok.  I believe that medication, vaccinations, antibiotics, etc. is a personal decision to make first with God, then with your family, under the supervision and counsel of your doctor.  I don't recommend self-medicating, so always talk to a doctor about anything you want to try, including diet, vitamin/supplement and exercise changes - I believe that's the safe, right thing to do, but you're welcome to disagree if you wish.  It is also so very important to go to a doctor who will listen to you and talk with you and who makes you feel heard.  If you don't have that, then you're in a battle with them from day 1, and that's never a good thing.
 
Anyway, I digress. :)  I said all that to say this: God has done amazing things in my life the last couple of months, and I am so grateful, and I hope that by telling you about my journey that it can help you on yours.
 
I hope that you all have an amazing day.  It's nearly autumn, the leaves are changing, and I love it. :)  This is my favorite time of the year, and that alone has improved my mental state tenfold (not that it was bad to begin with) so that makes me feel even more in control over my Fibromyalgia.  God is good. :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Explanations of the Unnecessary Kind

Just a picture I took a few years back that I thought you might enjoy,
because who doesn't like a cool almost-sunset-at-the-beach picture? :)
 
I was thinking that I should explain my blog title and my reasons for a few of my recent posts.  I know it may not be necessary, but I really want to do it...Really. :) 
 
The reasons and explanations are vast and varied, so I'll tackle them in my favorite way to tackle things: bullet points!  They really are amazing little things...You should try them sometime.  They'll make you smile...or frustrate you to the point of screaming, which can be a release, so still a backward way to de-stress.  All in all, no pressure...but you should try them.  Go on!  Everybody's doing it! :D  (HaHa...Yah, I am in a mood today - I apologize now for the insanity, but it can be so much fun! :) )
 
Ok...Onto more serious things...Ahem. *wipes smile off face, and attempts to look serious, but the smirk keeps sneaking through*
 
  • My blog title: Why did I pick the name Fibro, Fit and Fab! ?  Well, I'm glad you asked (or wondered, or at least are going to read this regardless of any vested interest you may have in knowing or not knowing the answer to this question)!  The answer has 3 parts aside from the fact that I just wanted something reasonably short that was memorable.
    • Why FibroWell, of course, this is for Fibromyalgia, the condition that kind of inspired me to start a personal blog again.  I thought about just using the word "Fibromyalgia", but I realized that having to type out Fibromyalgia each time was not going to go over well with my reading populous (unless they bookmarked the page) because who wants to type out that three dollar college word each time or tell a friend, "Oh, I found this blog about Fibromyalgia that might help you/that is helping me!  It's called Fibromyalgia___." *random comment about how that's great and what's the address*  "It's Fibromyalgia___.blogspot.com." *random comment on how is that spelled* "Um...Fibromi...No, wait...Fybromi...no, no, that's not it...Um...Let me look it up" - Get the picture?  Anyway, so I decided I should go with Fibro instead - obviously the right choice since it's easier to remember and spell. 
    • Why Fit: I knew I wanted to talk about working towards becoming fit again (the struggles, failures and triumphs), too, so I knew that Fit should be in the title somewhere.  Easy enough so far, right?
    • Why Fab: As to the Fab part, well...Who doesn't want to feel fabulous, and I'm not just talking about because you look good.  I wanted to talk about what makes me feel amazing and helps me stay upbeat.  I wanted to focus on the fact that life can still be fabulous, no matter the health issues and heartaches you may have.
So there you go - why my personal blog is called Fibro, Fit and Fab!  I know your life is more complete now knowing that. :)
 
  • Recent posts that seem unrelated to the purpose of this blog: You may not believe this, but I really struggled posting the two posts prior to this one (the one about my daughter and the letter to the teenage me).  Why?  Because they weren't "on topic"...or so I thought.
     
    I wanted to and in fact did berate myself for using this blog as a release about things that weren't exactly Fibromyalgia topics in that they weren't about how I dealt with Fibromyalgia, they didn't mention Fibromyalgia, they didn't talk about current struggles with it or new medications or vitamins I was taking or exercises I was doing for it.  I even contemplated taking them down and starting a whole new blog to put them on.  What stopped me?  A revelation that only God can give, well, two actually.
    • It's my blog and I can talk about anything I want!  Seriously!  I don't have to justify it.  I can go off topic - It really is ok.  But this isn't the main thing, because I really do care about being on topic and being a help, so I think this point is kind of moot.
    • The posts are related to Fibromyalgia.  How?  Those things are part of my life, just like Fibromyalgia is.  Fibromyalgia does not define me.  It is part of me, but it is not all me.  If I can't blog about an adorably cute thing that my daughter did that made me smile or a heartfelt letter to my past self that makes me focus on how amazing God is and how far I've come, then Fibromyalgia has won.  I have lost "me" to it.  The purpose of this blog is to keep me, to improve me, despite Fibromyalgia, so those everyday things must find their way here.

      Those with Fibromyalgia, or any other chronic condition for that matter, must find normal.  We need to experience life in the best way we can and live.  We cannot live if all our thinking is devoted to our condition.  Our thinking must encompass all of our lives, not just the part that screams the loudest to be heard.

      I find great peace, comfort, help, love and joy in the small (or big) moments that distract me from my Fibromyalgia.  I find solace in sharing those things with you.  I love giving you the chance to see that, even with Fibromyalgia, there are still things in my life that make me forget all the pain and hardship of that and focus on other things - good things, things that transform me, things that amaze me. 

      I need to never forget that there is me, my life, my God, my friends and family and all those other things that need just as much attention as my condition does.  The more I dwell on those things, the less my Fibromyalgia is forefront in my mind (though I can never completely forget about it) and the more I am defining my life not my Fibromyalgia defining it for me.
I know that I didn't have to share any of this with you, but (as I said before) I wanted to.  I consider each and everyone of you friends whom I pray for (yes, I pray for the "unknown faces who read my blogs" and the known ones, too), and I want to share "me" with you because of that fact.  I guess it sounds strange that I want to pour my heart out to strangers (though I know I have friends and family who read these blogs, too), but it's how I roll. :)  Besides, some of you out there need to know that someone has been and is there, too, who you can come to if you need to talk, and I hope you know that you can come to me.  Just send me an email or comment below, and know that I am all ears. :)
 
May you have an amazing week!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dear Sixteen Year Old Me


Well, you're 16 and it's the summer before your Junior year of High School. 
 
You survived driver's ed, which terrified you, but not as badly as you thought it would.  You even LIKED some of it, which terrified you more, but you keep that hush-hush.  Don't worry - I won't tell anyone. :)
 
You are about to survive your first major break-up in a few months, and I'm happy to tell you it will be your last.  You will try to date another guy for a little while, but I ask you not to - he's all charm and no character.  When you're dad tells you that he'll tell the guy he can no longer see you so you don't have to break the kid's heart, he means it and he does exactly that.  Remember to tell your dad a million times over "thank you" for this, because that one simple act spares you years of hurt since the guy was a lot more trouble than anyone could imagine at the time.
 
You will think at times that you're alone.  You will struggle to make sense of life.  You will go off to a college just because your twin sister goes there in just 2 short years, and that's just where God wants you - you meet your future husband there and your life changes forever, especially since it's your husband who is the one who helps lead you to the Lord when you're 29.
 
You know those cute guys from High School who you think see right through you?  You know those classmates who seem to have it all and don't care at all about you?  Years from now, at your 10 year class reunion, they will all want to talk to YOU and see how YOU are and tell you what an amazing person you were then and how glad they are to see you.  You will be shocked...especially because they mean it.  You weren't the "band nerd" you thought you were afterall.
 
When you go off to college, you will be convicted about your walk with God.  You will start to feel deep in your soul that you are not a Christian.  I beg you - LISTEN.  Don't wait until your 29 to get saved, don't let your pride get in the way.  Stop telling yourself you're crazy, that the conviction will go away - it doesn't.  You will waste years of your life in misery on the inside, smile plastered in place on the outside, that can be avoided if you JUST yield now.
 
In 4 years time, you will be tempted to break up with the guy you're dating (your future husband, believe it or not) - don't. He's the right one for you. The other guy that you think likes you? He doesn't. He's a user and is just stringing you along. Don't fall for it! In fact, when your dad talks about asking him to help out with the camp, beg your father not to let him. Stay as far away as you can from guys like him.
 
You get married just 2 weeks shy of your 22nd birthday - just 6 years from now.  I know right now you don't feel very lovable or wanted, but I promise you, you are and you will feel differently soon since you will meet him in just over 2 years.  You won't date at all in those 2 years before you meet him, and you may be tempted to lament it, but don't - that is God's gift to you to spare your heart.  Be grateful for it.  You will see your sister and other girl friends struggle through multiple relationships that shatter them.  God is sparing you from that fate...and that is a valuable gift.  Be there for your sister, your friends, and be grateful to God for guarding your heart.
 
When you get married, you will expect it to be a fairytale life - it's not.  You will eventually begin to become the wife and mother you want to be, but it takes a lot more work than you could ever imagine.  You love your husband and your children with all your heart and would do anything for them, but you almost forget that for a little while. 
 
The first day you hold your firstborn son in your arms in just 8 short years, thank him.  His birth keeps you where you are meant to be when the times get hard before you are saved.  Wanting him to grow up with a mommy and a daddy in his life keeps you faithful, as hard as that is to admit. 
 
Each time you look at each one of your 3 precious children for the first time, make sure that you thank each of them for how they transform you, how God uses them to teach you more about Him and His love, and how they keep you from making so many more mistakes and keep you striving to be the best you can be.
 
I know right now you think you have to be perfect.  You get straight A's, you try to do what's right, you have all the right answers...but that's not what life is about.  Life is meant to be lived with integrity and honesty.  When you can't do it, that's ok - you aren't meant to do it all.  You are meant to rely on God.  We NEED Him.  We need Him as a Savior, an Advisor, a Friend - He is all we truly need and He sustains us...Though we forget that far too often. 
 
You wear a pretty mask of perfection, but that's all it is - a mask.  Take it off.  Be real.  Confess your hurts, your fears, your insecurities.  We all have them.  Go to your parents, your siblings, your grandparents, your pastor, the ladies like Karol Stanley and Ginny Kalmbach who love you so dearly and pray for you so much.  They will listen, they will pray, they will help.  Maybe if you go to them now, something this 34 year old version of you failed to do, you won't face the hard years without God that I did.  Maybe you will be spared so much hurt that you heaped on yourself in the name of "I can do it alone" that I had to face.  Oh, that that could be so!
 
I sit here typing, crying, looking at the daughter you will have in 16 years.  She's beautiful...and so much like you.  I am writing this letter in part to share it with her one day, to let her know about what I was like at 16, so that when she is 16 maybe she can live those years better than I did.  That is my prayer for her...and I know you'd agree with it.
 
You've come a very long way from who you are at 16 in 18 years.  The road isn't easy, and you mess up sometimes, but you have a family who is there for you.  When they say they will love you no matter what, they mean it.  Never let a day go by that you don't tell them you love them.  Hold on tight to them for as long as you have them.
 
Take care of yourself, and stay away from the crazy trends.  Classic is best, and you REALLY don't want pictures of yourself wearing some of those 90s outfits...Trust me.
 
Sincerely,
The 34 Year Old Version of You
 
 
 
(I wrote this as part of a challenge posted on Chatting At The Sky as part of a promotion for a book called Graceful by Emily P. Freeman, which is a book talking to girls between the ages of 14 and 18 about "letting go of your try-hard life.")

If You Get The Blender Out

If you get out the blender, you'll want to make a smoothie.

 
If you make a smoothie, your 2 year old will notice.
 
If she notices, you'll have to keep it out of reach.
 
If you turn your back, the sweet little 2 year old will figure out how to get the smoothie you thought was out of reach.

If she gets that first sip, you will have to try to coax it away from the dear, sweet little girl.
 
If you try to coax it away from her, she will turn up those sweet blue eyes at you, and you won't be able to take the smoothie back.

 
If you don't take the smoothie back, you may get a sip or 2, but your daughter will soon finish it, making sure to slurp up the last drops noisily.
 
If she slurps up the last drops noisily, you will remember just how much you loved smoothies when you were little.
 
If you remember how much you loved smoothies, you'll be tempted to make another one for nostalgia sake.
 
If you decide to make another smoothie, chances are, you'll need a blender to do it.
 
 
May you have a memorable day! :)



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Adventures with Fibro Fog!

If you live in the States like I do, you have celebrated Labor Day.  This year, Labor Day fell on the 3rd, just 2 days after my niece's birthday and a week before my mother's.  We all got together and had an impromptu party for my niece mainly, but my mom got her presents from me, too.  It was a wonderful time, and Mom loved her gifts (and so did my niece), and everyone loved their cake and ice cream.

While we were there, however, I decided that my mother deserved something special on her actual birthday, so I talked to my mom and asked her what type of cake she wanted for her birthday.  She informed me, much to my delight and surprise, that she'd much rather have pie, but not just any pie.  Oh, no.  This was a very special blueberry pie made with tapioca that her mother used to make her as a very special treat.  Oh, well, now I just HAD to rise to the challenge!  I promised my mom her very special pie on her birthday, just a week later, and told her that we'd have it at my house.

Now, this would normally not be a problem, except the day before her birthday I ended up down for the count due to my Fibromyalgia, mainly the IBS issues that can come with it in the morning, but fatigue, stiffness and pain were there in full by evening.  I was so disappointed, but determined to rest and make that pie, no matter what on Monday!

On Monday morning I woke up feeling a little better, but not 100%.  I prayed that the Lord would help me be able to do what I'd promised, that He'd help me be able to at least function, and that I'd have an amazing time with my family that evening.  After that, I felt that I should take it easy and make the pie after lunch, during my daughter's nap time, which still gave me plenty of time to get everything ready.  I took the morning to relax and fold some laundry, doing my best to stay still.  Everything was going just as I thought it should go, and I was pleased and thankful.

Fast forward to 12:30pm, just a 1/2 hour before I was going to start the pie and house cleaning, my daughter wakes up from her nap (she normally eats an early lunch around 11am or 11:30am and then goes down for a nap and sleeps until around 1:30pm or 2pm), and now I know I have to wait until the boys get home from school before I can start the pie.  Oh, dear.  I quickly did the math - My folks were coming over at 7pm or 7:30pm, and I was going to start getting things ready a full 2 hours later than expected...YIKES!  Four hours to do what I'd planned to do in 6.  Ok then! 

On top of it all, Fibro Fog set in!  Those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Fibro Fog is similar to what some people call Mommy Brain or forgetfulness or "being blonde" (no offense intended to all my blonde readers out there :) ).  I decided to take a deep breath, offering up a quick prayer, expressing to the Lord that this was NOT the plan, but it was in His hands, so I trusted Him to help me through this, did my best to fight off the panic that was starting to set in, and began to do what I could before starting the pie, which wasn't much. 

The laundry I'd hung outside wasn't dry yet, so that was out.  I wiped down the bathroom and prayed it would stay clean after the boys got home.  I did the dishes that were there.  I vacuumed and straightened.  I then rushed off to school to get my boys and returned home, feeling a bit overwhelmed since we didn't get home until closer to 3:30pm than 3:10pm like I thought we would.  My timeline was now down to 3 1/2 hours instead of 4.  I looked up toward Heaven and thought, "Are You sure You know what You're doing, Lord?" which He assured me in His Own way that He did, so I just kept plugging away the best I could.

When I came home, I realized that I hadn't started thawing the blueberries (I could only find 1/2 of what I needed in fresh berries, so the other half were frozen).  I grumbled at myself and then got them out of the freezer, determined to start the pie by 4pm, hoping that the berries would be thawed enough by then.  I threw them in the sink in a colander with the fresh berries which I had to de-stem, and let them sit while I helped the boys get everything settled and reminded them that any homework or chores needed to be done soon because Grandma and Grandpa were coming over tonight.  I didn't know how God was going to get it all done through me at this point, because I knew I could not do it.  I was spent already and still had so much to do.  I'm sure God must have smiled at this point, because it's not until you are at this point, the "I can't" point, that God can truly step in and say, "I know, but I can!"

I'm going to take a moment to integrate this right now before I go any further: my kids are just wonderful.  They can be such a big help.  They did exactly what they needed to do and they even played together so that I could do what I needed to do. :)  Unfortunately, with my Fibro Fog, I struggled to remember what all that was!  God knew that would happen, too, and I know that He had a hand in touching their little hearts to help Mommy as much as they did. :)

At any rate, since I had no choice but to be still and wait on the berries to thaw, I sat down to check on Facebook (do NOT do this if you have things to do, especially when you have Fibro Fog), and before I knew it, it was 4:15pm.  It hit me suddenly that I was forgetting something.  I got up to go into the kitchen and saw my batch of thawing blueberries and quite literally squeaked.  The pie!  My timeline was going out the window!  Thankfully my timeline is not normally God's, and He is able to do so much more than we give Him credit for!

I got the the blueberries (which were still partly frozen) mixed with the tapioca and other ingredients and let them sit as per the instructions.  Now I had to make the pie crust, but I had 15 minutes yet, so I went to straighten something else.  About the time the timer went off to tell me the filling was now ready to be used, I went to go make the crust...only to realize I forgot to get the butter out of the freezer.  Lovely.  At this point I was sure that everything would be a disaster, but God whispered in my ear that it would be ok, just breathe and trust Him to help me.  What choice did I have but to believe Him?

I put the 2 sticks of butter (I decided to make 2 pies to have enough for my mom to take some home and my family to have leftovers) into the microwave for about 20 seconds while I got the other ingredients for the pie crust out.  I got the flour all over trying to put some on the counter for rolling, not to mention the mess I made trying to cut the still partially frozen butter into the flour in the bowl before adding the milk and realizing I have to mix it with my hands (don't worry - I always wash my hands thoroughly before cooking or baking) since the butter was still too hard.  I FINALLY get that all mixed in, I get the dough divided up, and I'm rolling it out when it dawns on me that this is the pie crust recipe I put on my Natural and Free blog, so I should take a picture since I don't have one up yet!

I go wash my hands and get out the camera.  I try several shots, and think I finally have one that will work, and put the camera away, re-wash my hands, and just when I'm getting myself all covered in flour again, my husband calls.  I jump about out of my skin, but grab for a towel, wipe off my hands sort of and answer the phone.

I look at the clock, and it is now 4:45pm.  My hubby will be due home in 1/2 hour.  I haven't made dinner, and I'm still working on pies.  I tell him what's going on, and he says he'll pick something up (along with the ice cream I'd forgotten to purchase, because what's pie without ice cream) or we can have the pizza we keep on hand "just in case" (the only pizza that doesn't totally destroy my stomach that's not homemade is Jack's Bacon Cheeseburger pizza, so we keep a few in the freezer for emergencies), and I am over-joyed that that's one last thing I have to worry about, the whole time I'm caught between laughing and crying over my forgetfulness due to the Fibro Fog.  The Lord took this moment to again let me know it would be ok...no matter what happened.

About this time, in what seemed like a horrible twist of irony, my Fibromyalgia decides to throw in some aches and pains, but I can't quit now!  It's my mother's birthday!  She WILL have pie!  I am determined to do this!  I forget about the Lord's help...I'm going to do it MYSELF!  He (in the only way God can) steps aside, and let's me struggle as I roll out the dough, get it in the pans, remember that I haven't pre-heated the oven, so turn that on, put on the top crusts and get them all fancy looking with egg wash and sugar.

Just as I'm standing there admiring the beauty of them and grateful that I'm nearly done, something nags at me.  I forgot to dab the tops of the filling with butter!  Seriously!?!?  Ack!  How in the world was I going to undo my masterpieces?  This is the point that God taps me on the shoulder and asks, "Are you SURE you can do this alone?" and I have to humbly admit that I can't do it alone.  I need Him, even in this simple thing, and He graciously yields His strength to me and His wisdom on how to fix the matter.

I was able to take a butter knife and carefully pry back the tops to add the butter and carefully re-sealed them, and I was so grateful that the Lord helped me think of the perfect way to fix the pies!  You couldn't even tell I'd had to basically take them apart.  I was grinning from ear to ear, thanking the Lord profusely. 
 
By the time I got that all done, the oven was ready to go, and my hubby was walking in the door.  It was nearly 5:30pm now, my folks were due to be there in possibly as little as an hour and a half, the pies would take up to an hour to bake and I didn't have dinner ready.  Now I wanted to cry again (Can you tell what a roller coaster ride of a day it was?).

I quickly told my husband the situation, and he said he wanted the pizza, so he'd wait (An amazing answer to prayer if you've ever had a hungry hubby come home after a long day at work!).  I knew that would be pushing it time-wise, but it was the only option really, so I agreed to it rather than scrounge around for a quick alternative. 
 
I got the pies in the oven, and chanced to look outside...and see the laundry I'd forgotten all about.  I raced outside and got that in, thankful it was now dry.  I left it in the laundry room, knowing that I had no where near enough time to fold it before my folks came and get dinner ready, etc.  I then went about doing the new pile of dishes and finishing cleaning anything else I forgot, the whole time grateful that my kids and hubby weren't complaining that food wasn't ready and that everyone was in good spirits.  The Lord was giving me His peace, but I will admit I wanted to fight it in lieu of being frazzled because there was still part of me that doubted that it would all work out.

The pies were done within 45 minutes, so the pizzas went in at around 6:15pm.  My poor little girl was starving at this point, so I gave her her milk and told her dinner would be ready soon.  She took the milk and that kept her satisfied until it was time to eat.  Thankfully the pizzas were done by 6:30, and I had everyone eating within just a few minutes after that.  Praise the Lord for that! :)

I had snapped some pictures of my pies (something that took this much effort and taught such great lessons must be remembered - I'll post the pictures at the end of the post) while the pizza was cooking, so while everyone was eating, I rushed to upload them and add the pictures of my pie crust to my other blog.  At this point, I was exhausted, didn't know up from down, but the house was clean and the pies were made and I was happy that my folks were coming over.  In the midst of those thoughts, the Lord reminded me of this verse, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13, KJV), and I knew that was the only way I had gotten anything done at all that day.

My hubby went to take a shower, and I enjoyed the breather while we waited for my parents to arrive.  They showed up at closer to 7:30pm (very unusual for them since they are normally early, so another small miracle), which meant that I had about 1/2 hour to relax after everyone was fed...and to make sure that everything we indeed totally straightened. :)  That was an unexpected blessing from the Lord!  This verse was especially true right then: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us," (Ephesians 3:20, KJV)

We had a wonderful time watching some Youtube videos that we'd made for the camp my parents run, for lack of a better term, and looking at Facebook photos of my new 2nd cousin who is absolutely adorable! :)  We talked, we laughed, we ate pie...very GOOD pie, I might add that my mom said was "perfect".  If only she knew...
 
When they left around 9pm, I was exhausted, but happy.  I hurt, but I was able to smile.  Why?  Because, even in my weakness, even when it seemed like I'd forgotten nearly everything, even when my plans got flipped upside down and things went no where near according to plan, everything turned out better than I could have hoped.  Why?  Because when I couldn't, God did.  I think I need to say, "I can't" to God a lot more often, because when He does it, it truly is perfect.
 
Oh, and to those of you wondering about those pies?  Here's what they turned out like:
 
Yum!  God and I sure make amazing pie. :)
 
I hope you have a terrific rest of the week!  I'm off to go do the rest of the things I need to do today with God's help, because I can't do it without Him!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Progress

I am not one who likes pictures taken of myself, especially when I am not looking my best.  I am normally the one wielding the camera, too, but I must admit that is on purpose. :)  I just never liked to see "the truth".  I wanted to stay in denial.  I was CONVINCED that I didn't look as large as I was, or as sad as I did, or as ____ as I did (you fill in the blank with what you like, it was probably true at some point).  Well, that really wasn't the case (the camera doesn't lie as much as we like to think it does), and sometimes it's good to see the truth.
 
*Takes a deep breath*
 
Ok.  It's time to get truthful.  I don't like it.  It hurts my pride.  However, I think I need to - for me.
 
I will be posting pictures, most of which I don't want to share, but I need to remind myself where I was, where I want to be, etc.  It will help me stay focused to my commitment and remind me that nothing is impossible with God. :)
 
Here is my first picture:
 
This picture was taken back in 2005, if my records are correct.  I was around 265 here, and quite miserable.  I wasn't a Christian and my marriage was in a rough spot.  Looking back, I am so grateful for my boys during this time because they kept me from leaving my family, from ruining my life.  I know some of you may be shocked to read that, but that's truly where I was at that point in my life.  I thought losing the weight was the key to my happiness here, too.
 
 
Picture number 2:
Fast forward to 2007.  I was around 150-155 here.  This was just a month or so before I was saved.  Things were still rocky, but they were improving at least family-wise.  I was a mess due to my paranoia about food, and I was beginning to realize that joy didn't come from being thin.  My hubby never gave up on me, though, and loved me through it all.  In fact, he's the one that I turned to when I decided to ask the Lord for forgiveness, when I realized I needed to accept Christ's payment on the cross, when I realized I needed a Savior...My husband is the one who walked me through the passages in the Bible and prayed with me.  He is truly an amazing man!  I love him so much!  I don't know where I'd be without him.
 
 
Picture 3:
This was taken in April of 2012.  I was not at my new heaviest, but I'm not 100% sure what my weight is here.  I'm guessing I was around 220, maybe 230.  This is before the Fibromyalgia.  I was happy with life, but not with my health as far as weight went.  I was trying my old tried and true methods to weight loss, but they weren't working like I'd hoped.  This was around the time I was beginning to go to the doctor's and telling them about my fatigue.  This was also the time where my marriage had started making huge strides towards amazing!  I had worked through my personal issues (that took a LONG time, and there were lots of ups and downs), and was able to open-up with my husband more, and we are still doing so very much better than we were even then.  I closed the door on some bad habits, and I am so glad I did!  God is now where He should be in my life, and my family is all the much better off for it, and so am I. :)
 
 
Picture 4:
This was taken the end of May, 2012.  My weight was now up to 235, if not higher (My weight peaked at it's highest since 2005 in July of this year (2012) at 245 before it went back down to 240ish, being 241 on August 1st.).  This was just over 2 months before my Fibromyalgia diagnosis, and just 2 weeks before my first major Fibromyalgia symptoms began (i.e. joint pain, weakness, stomach issues, headaches).  It was at this time that I was determined to get my life back without meds, by using diet and exercise and prayer to regain my health, and to be the example everyone thought I was.  Oh, I was a good person, I loved my family, etc., but I hadn't and still haven't arrived.  I am still working on my personal walk with God, my relationship with my hubby, on being a good mommy, on being a good friend/sister/daughter, etc.  I know I will never be perfect, but I can at least be real and genuinely care.  I always have been one to want to help and be there, but I had twisted motives - there was that part of me that wanted to be recognized or feel good for doing it.  Now my main motive is just to be a blessing, and that has made all the difference in the world!
 
 
Last Picture:
This was taken today with my fantastic webcam.  I mean just look at the amazing quality. LOL :)  I think this captures the thinker in me.  I had some nice ones of smiles and such, but this one shows the true me.  I am the thinker, the solver, the planner.  I am quiet and watchful.  I can be the happy, cheerful type, too, but this is who I really am.
 
Today I am 228 lbs.  I've lost (if you count my brief time at 245) 17 lbs. overall, 7 of that since August 5, 2012 when I started My Calorie Counter, just 3 days before my Fibromyalgia diagnosis.  I have also lost 10 1/2 inches overall since August 11th.  I'm thinking that the whole, natural food diet, the light exercise, and all the other changes I am making are working, don't you?
 
I tell you, these pictures showed me something amazing.  When I was 265, I was miserable, and I thought it was because I was fat.  I was able to get skinny, and I was still miserable, so my weight wasn't the issue.  While I was skinny, I got saved and found out what true happiness was all about.  I started to gain weight again, which upset me, but I was still happy because my marriage was getting better and I now had God in my life.  When I was at my heaviest in 7 years, my life got flipped upside down but I was still able to stand because I now had a Savior and my family firmly planted in my life.  Now that I have the right focus - keeping God first, then my family, and striving to be the best I can be for Him and them - I am able to lose the weight I need to and am getting healthier every day, being more pain-free without meds every day, being overall better every day...and I couldn't be more thrilled!  Now that is progress.
 
May you have an amazing weekend!