Thursday, May 23, 2013

What It Is Like To Be A Fat American

I hate being fat. I am thankful for a lot of things. That I am alive. That I have friends, family and dogs that love me. That I have my wonderful Sean in my life. That I can sing and write and garden. But, I HATE being fat. I don't hate being fat because some magazine says I should be a size two. I honestly don't find women that thin attractive. Sorry if you are one of them, but women that skinny tend to look like adolescent  boys. I would say the most attractive size is somewhere between an 8 and a 12 - depending on how tall the woman is. And yes, I still feel like I look like the Michelin Man crossed with the Pillsbury dough boy.

 What I hate about being fat is the way my body feels. I hate when my pants dig into my gut when I am sitting at a restaurant. And no, I am not wearing too small sizes. That's another thing I hate. I hate trying to find an article of clothing that actually fits. Either they can be too tight at times or they start falling off after I wear them for over an hour. So I live in yoga pants. I hate not being able to wear dresses because my big fat thighs rub together and it hurts. I hate the heat. Being fat and Texas heat do not mix. I hate not being able to wear shorts. I miss shorts. Shorts are so cute and comfortable. I hate getting tired so easy. I miss my energy. I hate it when my feet hurt from just standing or walking around. I also hate the way society looks at and treats people my size. It is automatically assumed I eat like crap and lay on the couch all day. So not true. I don't think anyone ever thinks - maybe they have an endocrine disorder. Not that I always ate perfect, but there were times I was literally dieting and still gaining weight because my insulin and hormones were so out of whack. There are also a lot of overweight people who got there because they were/are depressed and eating made them feel better.

 It is a crazy world we live in. A complete paradox. On one end you  have this ultra presuristic society that says "thin is in" - "you can never be too thin or too rich". Millions of women across this country gauge their self worth by a number on a scale. I am guilty of falling into that trap. On the other end, you have constant junk food shoved into your face. Commercials, check out lanes at grocery stores, restaurants with their gigantic portions and of course fast food for us over-worked under-paid over-booked and out of time Americans. Then once you get fat, it's constant bombardment of diets, gyms, products shoved in your face to lose weight. This thing. This "overweight American" is like a giant living breathing organism that feeds off of its own destruction. So yeah, I could smile and say cliché things like "beauty is on the inside" and it is but I am also going to be honest and say being fat sucks. I hate being fat. So what is it like to be a fat American? Shitty.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Loosing Weight is Hard - But Worth It

I thought about writing only when things went well, but I realized that wouldn't be REAL. In every journey there are obstacles. My doctor likes to describe PCOS as a freight train. I call it the "freight train - weight gain". She says that you have to stop the freight train before you can put it in reverse. It just so happens that the freight train of PCOS is very large and very powerful. Don't Give Up. Sometimes you will lose weight and sometimes you won't.

The most important thing is that we learn to live healthier. Moving mountains is hard. Stopping freight trains is even harder. I like the idea that you can move a mountain one pebble at a time. Your progress may be slow, but it is still progress.
I gained 2 lbs this week. I really don't know what to say. I stuck to my diet 95%. I couldn't tell you how or why I gained weight, but I am not going to let one bad week's results stop me. I have still lost 25 lbs. Who knows how much I will lose next week. And, that's just it. I won't find out unless I let there be a next week. Don't give up. I'm not.

Hang in there. - Casey

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Living With a Stigma : Mental Illness

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. I don't think it is a month that is celebrated very much. I mean, what is there to celebrate? Mental Illness sucks! But, what sucks almost worse than having a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bi-polar, borderline, schizoid etc. - is the way people treat you. Especially the people closest to you.  I know that living with a person who has  mental illness is hard. I mean, I actually know. My husband is bi-polar II. I have had to read suicide notes written to me. I have had to check him into treatment. I have had to learn to recognize when he is up or down, and when to let stuff go. I often do check ins. Are you up? Are you down? Are you safe? I don't love my husband any less. I don't think any less of him. And, I don't treat him like he is less of a person. It's not his fault that he has bi-polar disorder any more than it is his fault that he has Thrombophilia (a rare genetic blood disease) or severe Arthritis. It is literally NOT HIS FAULT AT ALL.

 I am of a rare breed that isn't ashamed that I also have mental illness. I am open about it. I talk about my depression. I talk about being bed ridden for months. Not because I want anyone's sympathy, but because I want to let people know where I have been. Why I didn't show up to their invite. Why I haven't called. Why I missed Thanksgiving. I want them to know - it's not them, it's me. Some people completely understand. I recently hung out with two wonderful friends I hadn't seen in a year, and had a fantastic time. It was like no time had gone by at all. They understood. But not everyone understands. I think it is hard on older generations. I think it is hard on certain members of my family, because they grew up with mental illness in our family and it scared them. I think it still scares them. I also think they are scared they will see pieces of themselves in me. Sometimes I feel like a leper. I've noticed people are very careful when they talk to me, like they might snip the wire that makes the bomb explode.  YOU MAY FEEL LIKE YOU ARE WALKING ON EGG SHELLS AROUND ME, PLEASE KNOW I AM WALKING ON EGGSHELLS TOO. Please stop. In my dreams, we all stop walking on egg shells and just start treating each other like human beings. I am far from perfect, but having a mental illness does not make me less of a person. I shouldn't be treated any better, worse or different than any other human being.

We have come so far as a society towards acceptance and education of people who are different. From civil rights to gay rights to compassion and education for people with disabilities such as mental retardation, autism, physically handicapped, etc. I hope in my life time we as a society become more accepting of people with mental illness. Only a tiny fraction of a percentage of mentally ill people are harmful, most are just average people who suffer from depression and/or anxiety. You can't catch mental illness. Although you might be lucky if you did. Some of the funniest, most famous and most talented people suffered. Robin Williams is bi-polar and is hands down one of the greatest comics of all time. Princess Dianna had borderline personality disorder and she was one of the kindest most giving and loved people of the 20th century. I like to think of Sean and me like Robin and Dianna - although that is a pretty funny couple if you think about it. Here are a few more people from NAMI's website...

  "People with Mental Illness Enrich Our Lives"

Information about famous people throughout history who have had a serious mental illness.

Abraham Lincoln
The revered sixteenth President of the United States suffered from severe and incapacitating depressions that occasionally led to thoughts of suicide, as documented in numerous biographies by Carl Sandburg.

Virginia Woolf
The British novelist who wrote To the Lighthouse and Orlando experienced the mood swings of bipolar disorder characterized by feverish periods of writing and weeks immersed in gloom. Her story is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

Lionel Aldridge
A defensive end for Vince Lombardi's legendary Green Bay Packers of the 1960's, Aldridge played in two Super Bowls. In the 1970's, he suffered from schizophrenia and was homeless for two and a half years. Until his death in 1998, he gave inspirational talks on his battle against paranoid schizophrenia. His story is the story of numerous newspaper articles.

Eugene O'Neill
The famous playwright, author of Long Day's Journey Into Night and Ah, Wilderness!, suffered from clinical depression, as documented in Eugene O'Neill by Olivia E. Coolidge.

Ludwig van Beethoven
The brilliant composer experienced bipolar disorder, as documented in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.

Gaetano Donizetti
The famous opera singer suffered from bipolar disorder, as documented in Donizetti and the World Opera in Italy, Paris and Vienna in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century by Herbert Weinstock.

Robert Schumann
The "inspired poet of human suffering" experienced bipolar disorder, as discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

Leo Tolstoy
Author of War and Peace, Tolstoy revealed the extent of his own mental illness in the memoir Confession. His experiences is also discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Inner World of Mental Illness: A Series of First Person Accounts of What It Was Like by Bert Kaplan.

Vaslov Nijinsky
The dancer's battle with schizophrenia is documented in his autobiography, The Diary of Vaslov Nijinksy.

John Keats
The renowned poet's mental illness is documented in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Broken Brain: The biological Revolution in Psychiatry by Nancy Andreasen, M.D.

Tennessee Williams
The playwright gave a personal account of his struggle with clinical depression in his own Memoirs. His experience is also documented in Five O'Clock Angel: Letters of Tennessee Williams to Maria St. Just, 1948-1982; The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams by Donald Spoto, and Tennessee: Cry of the Heart by Dotson.

Vincent Van Gogh
The celebrated artist's bipolar disorder is discussed in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb and Dear Theo, The Autobiography of Van Gogh.

Isaac Newton
The scientist's mental illness is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.

Ernest Hemingway
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist's suicidal depression is examined in the True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Ernest Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him by Denis Brian.

Sylvia Plath
The poet and novelist ended her lifelong struggle with clinical depresion by taking own life, as reported in A Closer Look at Ariel: A Memory of Sylvia Plath by nancy Hunter-Steiner.

The mental illness of one of the world's greatest artistic geniuses is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

Winston Churchill
"Had he been a stable and equable man, he could never have inspired the nation. In 1940, when all the odds were against Britain, a leader of sober judgment might well have concluded that we were finished," wrote Anthony Storr about Churchill's bipolar disorder in Churchill's Black Dog, Kafka's Mice, and Other Phenomena of the Human Mind.

Vivien Leigh
The Gone with the Wind star suffered from mental illness, as documented in Vivien Leigh: A Biography by Ann Edwards.

Jimmy Piersall
The baseball player for the Boston Red Sox who suffered from bipolar disorder detailed his experience in The Truth Hurts.

Patty Duke
The Academy Award-winning actress told of her bipolar disorder in her autobiography and made-for-TV move Call Me Anna and A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness, co-authored by Gloria Hochman.

Charles Dickens
One of the greatest authors in the English language suffered from clinical depression, as documented in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb, and Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph by Edgar Johnson.

What an impressive list! So, in conclusion, I am going to go on embracing who I am - mental illness and all. I am so much more than a condition, I am a human being just like you. Know that I work tirelessly at how I act and behave. If you can't accept me for who I am, then that is your problem, not mine. Thank you to everyone who supports me and loves me. Happy Mental Illness Awareness Month! Maybe, just maybe, it is worth celebrating.

Diet: What I Am Eating

We all know how important diet and exercise are to living a healthy and happy life. This could not be more true for women with PCOS, Interstitial Cystitis and Depression. Because of our bodies messed up endocrine system, it is highly recommended by all the health journals I have read and doctors I have talked to - to consume a low glycemic diet. Here is a bit about low GI diets from WebMD:

The glycemic index has been a popular weight loss tool to help dieters lose weight. Also referred to as the glycemic index diet, GI diet, and low glycemic diet, it is the basis for many popular diet plans, such as South Beach, Nutrisystem, The Zone, Sugar Busters, Glucose Revolution, and Ending the Food Fight.
The glycemic index measures carbohydrates. The index is a list of how blood sugar levels rise after you eat a small portion of a carbohydrate food.
fruits and vegetables
Originally, the index was developed as a tool to help diabetics manage blood sugar control. In theory, if it works to help control blood sugar in diabetic people, then it should work for weight control.

For the whole article, here is the link:

This way of eating, works well for both Sean and I, since he has diabetes and I have PCOS. We both have insulin resistance, just from two different diseases. The best thing though, is that with proper diet and exercise Sean can cure his diabetes and I can control my PCOS.

A typical day's meal plan would go as follows...

3 eggs
2 strips of bacon

Salmon salad
(fresh cooked salmon over a bed of Romaine mix lettuce with flax or sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumber and a small sprinkle of feta cheese and a vinaigrette dressing)

Grilled Chicken
Bean Medley (black beans, pinto beans and white beans cooked together)
Broccoli, Peas or other green vegetable

NUTS!!! Almonds are the best
I like to go to the local health food store and stock up on trail mix as well
sugar free jello
a piece of whole fruit i.e. an Apple
Celery sticks with peanut butter
Whole Fruit Smoothie - frozen strawberries, pineapples, mango, peaches mixed with Rice or Almond Milk with Splenda to add sweetness
sugar free chocolate - vanilla swirl pudding with a spoon of peanut butter in a bowl

I do not count calories, I simply eat when I am hungry. However, if you find after a few weeks that you are not losing 1-2 lbs a week, it is smart to keep a food journal. You very well may find that you are eating more than you think.

I also take one cheat day a week. I do this for many reasons. One is that staying on a diet is HARD, having a day off to quench that craving helps one from feeling like they cheated and then going on a binge. Also, it helps boost your metabolism. If you aren't eating enough, your body goes into starvation mode and it doesn't matter how healthy you eat - you won't lose weight. So give yourself a break and take one day a week to eat what you want - within reason.

Supplements are also important. I take three different kinds. All are made by New Chapter. They are 100% organic and top of the line. They are very expensive in the health food stores, but if you go to you can get them for 25% of the price. *** I am in no way affiliated with New Chapter, I simply recommend their brand from my own personal use *** I take:

Every Woman Daily Vitamin once in the morning once at night. Beyond the normal A-Z vitamins it also offers Herbal Blends that offer immune, stress and hormonal support.

I take New Chapter Whole Mega Fish Oil once at night before bed - Fish Oil is super important for women with PCOS because 1. we have a high risk for heart disease and 2. we have inflammation and fish oil helps reduce that

And, I take New Chapter Diet & Energy once in the mornings. My depression causes me to be very lethargic. I have gone as far as being prescribed Ritalin and Adderall. Those drugs are poison. You might as well go smoke crack. I am trying to regain my energy through diet, exercise and natural supplements.

To help with my digestion I take Acidophilus Pearls with my night medications. My mother actually reccomended these. They help to keep you regular, which is important since women with PCOS should not eat dairy and also because high protein intake can lead to irregularity. Buy these on Amazon as well - they are half the price than at the store.

I also take prescription Metformin, a diabetes drug that helps control insulin levels. And, I take prescription Spironolactone, a drug that reduces testosterone levels. It is the over abundance of testosterone in women with PCOS that causes acne, excess hair growth in places we don't want and excess hair loss such as Alopecia and Male Pattern Baldness.

I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist, but I have gone to many. I also have read countless amounts of material on PCOS. The biggest thing is finding the right combination of foods, supplements, medication and exercise for you. We are all unique beings on our own individual journey. Good luck on yours !

Monday, May 13, 2013

Weddings and Weight Loss

There is nothing like a good old fashioned wedding to motivate you to get your butt in gear and lose some weight. Also, Sean, my wonderful common law husband -  soon to change my last name soul mate, is having problems with an enlarged liver and spleen. They have ruled out hepatitis and medications and think it is from obesity. This really is life or death for us to get healthy. If Sean and I are going to take control of our health, we are going to have to do it together. We need each other's support. And, it really helps to have everyone in the household on the same healthy eating plan to prevent slip ups. If you are trying to get healthy too, I highly recommend a health buddy. It can be anyone. If you don't have someone, join an online forum like weight watchers or try joining

 Sean and I have made some significant progress over the past 6 months, but now it is time to kick it into high gear. We both lost about 30 lbs in October 2012, when we both came down with mono.  But then in late December we both gained back a few of those lost pounds. Two weeks ago we started eating a low glycemic diabetes and PCOS friendly diet. I also got off of the birth control pill, to prepare for us trying to start a family after the wedding. Don't worry mom, I promise not to get knocked up before the wedding. It's 2013, but I respect your wishes - 'cause I love you. But the baby thing is another topic we shall bring back up in about 6 months. The wedding is December 1st, 2013. That means Sean and I have 29 weeks to lose weight. We are hoping to lose 1-2 lbs per week - so 30-60 lbs additional by our wedding date.

 So far Sean has gone from 302 lbs to 272 - for an impressive 30 lb weight loss. He lost 6 lbs in the past 2 weeks. MEN. ugh. But I am happy and proud of him. I am down from my high of 283 lbs to 256 lbs. That is an impressive 27 lbs. I lost 4 lbs in the past 2 weeks. We both have lost about 10% of our body weight so far. One of my motivations is this beautiful dress I ordered for the wedding, which I have hanging in my closet.

Here is what it looks like on a human being.....
I think it is much prettier in person. 100% pure silk, blush color with lots of lace details. Love it!

Now when attempting to lose weight, it is very easy to get discouraged. We went to visit my mother, who is sick with stage four breast cancer, and at the end of the day we took a photo. Everyone looks fantastic and happy and I look like a cross between the Michelin Man and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

I wanted to badly to un-tag myself, but I know this photo means a lot to my mom, so I sacrificed my pride and let it stay out there for all of Facebook to see. And now all of blog land can see it too. Even after losing 27 lbs, I still don't recognize myself. I've got a long way to go.
You know, I think it is ok to embrace whatever we are feeling. I know some people would say, "oh you have to stay positive" But, if I don't address the fact that I truly feel like I look like a cross between the above two pictures, then I am going to bottle it up inside, get frustrated and give up. I think it is much better to be open about how I feel and get a good laugh at myself.

 Weight loss is hard. Especially for people with PCOS and Diabetes. Add chronic pain and depression and its an extra steep up-hill climb. So if you are reading this and you know me and you wonder "What can I do to help" I would say, just a nice "Good Job" when I post our weight loss. Or a "Don't Give Up" if I have a bad week. If you are reading this and you are on your own weight loss journey and/or also have PCOS, chronic pain and depression, I would say "It is ok to feel whatever you are feeling. Don't be afraid to be honest with yourself and others. Pretending you are happy when you are not may pass the time, but it doesn't change your situation. Only you can change your situation and make a happier - healthier life for yourself". That is what I am working on. Changing my life for the better.