Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Living With A Disabled Person

When I met my husband 7 years ago, he was a young healthy man in the prime of his life. He worked hard as an airplane mechanic. His job involved a lot of heavy lifting and manual labor. When he was 18 he was in a horrific car accident in Japan. He hit a telephone pole and was stuck in the car for 7 hours with a compound fracture to his left leg. Luckily he was the only one majorly injured in the crash. He spent 6 months in a hospital on a morphine drip. They grafted the vein in his left calf to repair the ruptured artery in his leg. After much time and rehabilitation he was finally able to walk again. At that time, he was approached by a social worker who wanted to sign him up for disability. No one thought he would ever live a normal life again. But Sean said no. He, like me, grew up in a conservative household and were taught the value of hard work and not taking from the government. Both Sean and I have held steady jobs since we were legal to work. We both paid our way through life, not relying on handouts from others. (although my parents paid for my school and let me live at home while I was in college and I will be forever grateful to them for that) Sean amazed everyone. He went to aronotics school and received 2 associated degrees and passed his FAA exam and became a licensed airplane mechanic. His motivation was the tragic death of his mother in a plane crash when he was only 13. The crash was caused by a mechanic not doing his job right, and Sean wanted to do what he could to make sure that didn't happen on his watch. In fact while in school for being a mechanic they showed crash videos, and one day it was a video of the crash his mother died in. He had to leave the room. Things were great for a couple of years. Then his back starting hurting. He ignored it and kept on working. Then there was an accident while he was working on a plane in Louisiana. The exact spot where the vein was grafted and a skin graft was put in its place was ruptured. He came back to Texas and spent months at the wound doctor and hours a week sitting in a hyperberic chamber. Did he give up? No, he went back to work. This time for Boeing here in San Antonio. But, he couldn't escape his pain. After everything that he had been through and overcame he knew he could no longer work on airplanes. So we made a plan. He would work part time odd jobs and go back to school to get a bachelors degree and become a special education teacher and a coach. But things just kept getting worse. His back just gave out on him. He went to a specialist and learned that he has severe arthritis. The doctor said his back looked like swiss cheese. So he had a neuro transmitter implanted in his back. Basically metal leads are inserted into his spine which connect to a battery implanted in his butt cheek. The idea is that you feel vibrations instead of pain. We had high hopes, but it didn't work for Sean. Then Sean had his first DVT. A DVT is basically a blood clot. The first time Sean had a cluster of 5. After hospitalization we took him to a hematologist and learned that he has not one but two rare genetic mutations that cause blood clots. He was put on blood thinners and his whole life had to change. He has to be super careful not to fall or cut himself. When he is traveling he has to stand up and walk around at least every two hours. Later Sean would be hospitalized for more blood clots. The worst was when two of them traveled to each lung causing what is called a Pulmonary Embolism. We almost left the hospital when a nurse noticed his oxygen levels were a bit too low. So before they let him leave they did a CT scan of his lungs and we weren't going anywhere. At the same time that Sean's body was falling apart on him, he became more and more depressed and moody. I remember it like yesterday. The best way to describe it was like always having to walk on egg shells. Where had the funny full of life man I had fallen in love with gone? In a short amount of time he lost his grandfather, an uncle and a very close family friend. He was devastated and there was nothing I could do but be there for him. It was after his grandfather passed that Sean had a full blown breakdown and we learned that he was Bipolar type II. Now we had a debilitating back injury, a leg wound that would not heal, a one in a million blood disorder called Thrombophilia and bi-polar. That is when we gave in and applied for disability. It took almost 2 years and countless denials, but Sean was finally approved and declared disabled by a judge who said he should have been approved the first time he applied. Sean is committed to doing anything he can to get better. He has lost 40 lbs. He continues to go to school to pursue a teaching degree. So what is it like to live with a disabled person? I won't lie, there were moments when I wanted to run away. Not from Sean, I love Sean with all my heart, but from the stress and the constant bad situations. But, I never left. I never ran. And I am so grateful I didn't. For every challenge that Sean has, he has ten things that are wonderful. His smile. His kindness. His sense of humor. His strength. His honesty. His love. Last week I pulled a muscle in my back and could hardly sleep for 3 nights. It was torture. Totally awful. No matter how I laid I could not find a position I wasn't in pain. And I realized, that this is what every night is like for Sean. He barely sleeps and I can understand why. Imagine going from a healthy hard working man, to a life of pain. It truly puts my petty complaints into perspective. I am so grateful for the seven plus years that Sean has been in my life. We have held hands through all the struggles that life brought us, and we came out stronger on the other side. I know no matter what, that he will always be by my side supporting me. I would not trade our life together for anything or anyone in the world. I believe that things are going to get better. Sean will keep working hard on getting healthy. Someday he will get that teaching degree and he can get off of disability and go back to work. In the mean time, I am proud to support him. I am proud to be his partner. I admire him so much for his strength and courage. And I am grateful that I get to call him the love of my life.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Number One Secret to Sustained Weight Loss - Patience

We live in a world of immediate gratification. We want to watch a TV show - we want it on demand. We are hungry - we drive through fast food. We want a new car - we buy it in credit without saving any money to put down. We want to talk to someone - we send a text. We go on a diet - we want results ASAP! But when it comes to real weight loss, the kind that stays off, the truth is that sometimes slower is better.

The first week I went on my healthy eating plan I gained 5 lbs. Did it urk me? um yes. Did I give up? no! And for the first two months my weight loss was very slow. Sometime just 1 lb per week. And I am fine with that. Then something amazing happened and I have started dropping up to 5 lbs a week. I don't know why, but I don't care. I will take it. I am down to 240 lbs. Meaning I have lost 43 lbs in total. I know I will hit plateaus along the way. There will be weeks where I will lose no weight or even gain a couple of pounds. But I know that due to hormones weight fluctuates. I accept this as just a part of the process. I know that as I start exercising more and more, the pounds might come off slower because I am building muscle, but I will see the results when I take my measurements. Or they might come off faster. the point is, I don't know. And while I can control what I put into my mouth, I don't have any control (especially having PCOS) in how long it will take my body to lose the weight I need to lose.

Of course the best way to get through the journey of weight loss is to make it a life change.

In a life change you have to be realistic. Cheat days are , in my opinion, an important part of getting through this long term change. Here is a list of things I believe help with "patience" and staying motivated and eating healthy. 

  • cheat days so you don't cheat and binge but learn how to get on and off the wagon and keep going
  • keeping track of your progress on a calendar - both weight and inches lost 
  • making small intermittent goals
  • celebrating every pound or inch you lose 
  • have support - have people you can turn to when things get tough
  • don't set yourself up for failure - realistic goals are the key
  • read ! follow blogs, joing support groups, get involved 
  • above all else just remember that wars are won one battle at a time, you may lose a battle but that doesn't mean you won't win the war!!!

Do Not Give Up! I didn't and I am so grateful. I am finally seeing real positive changes in my body. Had I gotten upset the first week when I gained 5 lbs or the first couple of month that my body was fighting losing weight, I never would be here today celebrating losing over 40 lbs. I am changing my life one day at a time.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Anger is bad. Anger is bad for your health. I spend way too much time being angry, which stems from the fact that I am a pretty darn sensitive person. Sometimes I am grateful for being a person who feels things so strongly, and sometimes I wish very hard that I didn't feel the emotions I do. I am working very hard to change that. I have been practicing and reading all about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (my therapist says it's just cognitive therapy with a bunch of catchy new terms- I however find it very useful) It teaches mindfulness and the art of emotion regulation. When I get angry, I can literally feel it in my body. For instance my interstitial cystitis will start acting up and I end up either in bed in pain and/or going to the bathroom every 15 minutes. My urologist actually told me," the greatest thing you can do for your IC pain is to relax" - and of course not consume anything acidic. When I get angry my neck and back tenses up. If I get angry bad enough, I get a huge lump in my throat and an sick feeling in my stomach - which usually ends with me crying it away. I love the phrase that "being angry is like letting someone live rent free in your head."or "drinking poison hoping the other person will die". I couldn't agree more. There is a fine balance in life between just letting things go and being respectfully assertive. You don't want to be a door mat and at the same time you don't want to lash out in anger and possibly do or say things you can't take back. The art of communicating your feelings, without starting WWIII, is a fine art indeed. I am learning. I may make some mistakes along the way, but I learn each time I try. Here are some healthy alternatives and distractions I have found useful when I feel overwhelmed.

  •  a hot bubble bath
  • .a nice long walk
  • .working out
  • .reading 
  • taking a nap
  • calling a friend to talk 
  • writing a letter I never send
  • meditation
  •  yoga 
  • listening to my favorite music
  •  a hot cup of herbal tea
  • playing with my dogs 
  • cleaning the house 
  • walking away from a situation to take a few quiet moments alone 

The best thing to do, is to first breath and relax, and then find a healthy distraction like the one above. Once you have calmed down, then you can make a plan for your anger and finding out what your anger truly stems from - usually hurt or fear. Then you can deal with the real underlying emotion. Usually you will find that after taking the time to digress the thing that made you so angry is no longer such a hot button. The most important thing to remember, is that anger is YOUR response- no one "makes" you angry - therefor you have the ability to control your emotions and your actions.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Exercise for PCOS and Weight Loss

So I have talked a lot about diet, but I know I also need to get to working out. Yes I admit I have lost 38 lbs without working out. Of course I highly recommend working out, but I have been battling hypersomnia and lack of energy. Funny is that working out will help cure that! Right now I am relying on Adderal to get me up and out of bed and moving. (not recommended unless medically necessary) I have made huge strides with my hypersomnia over the past 3-6 months. First I had to realize I had a problem. I was sleeping from 3 am to 8 pm. I had a hard time getting out of bed. I could barely go grocery shopping - it was that exhausting. But slowly I have become more and more active. I don't sleep more than 10 hours a night. I get outside. I garden. I go shopping. I clean the house. I do things.  My goal is to start working out to gain natural energy so I can get off of the prescription meds. So my big goal before I start my new job August 19th is to get moving!

I also want to look good for my wedding. I really want to work on toning my arms and my back, since this is a strapless dress. I much prefer a little muscle on a girl, much more than I find skinny girls attractive. 20 weeks, I should be able to get some body sculpting done. I was a competitive power-lifter in high school and college. I know how to work out. I just need to do it! I actually have a home gym. We call it "the room no one ever goes in". To start I am doing DDP Yoga and Zumba. I also plan on doing free weights to work on toning my arms and back. I got lucky, at my old job, they would give us $500 a year to buy exercise equipment, so I bought an elliptical and a treadmill, a boxing bag, and tons of free weights and benches - plus there is a TV in there with a DVD player to do videos. It is an awesome home gym, if only it got used more. 

I used to be such an athlete. In high school I would wake up every morning at 5 am and do Tae Bo. (my all time favorite work out). Then I would have gymnastics 2-3 times a week. Cheer practice 3-4 times per week. Then for a year I did powerlifting 5 days a week. I even got into running, and would run 2 miles in my hilly neighborhood a few time a week. When I didn't run, I loved to go for long walks and just listen to music and zone out. I weighed 125 lbs. I could bench my weight. I was proud of that. As a girl that is quite the accomplishment. We just don't have the upper body strength that men do. 

After high school, working out became less about being athletic and more about looking good. I became a gym rat. When I wasn't working out at home, or going for long walks, you would find me at the gym. I love to lift weights. Absolutely love it. 

It was when I started my last job that I stopped working out. I was always a waitress. That meant long shifts on your feet carrying heavy ass trays. It was a work out in and of itself. Somehow I had more energy. I could work all day and go out and stay up all night. When I got my cubicle job, I was sitting for 8 hours a day. At first it was awesome, but I slowly starting gaining more and more weight. I had less and less energy. I didn't even have the energy to work out. If a physical labor job didn't hurt my neck and back the way waiting tables did, and it paid what a desk job pays, I would do it in a heart beat. 

When you think about it, cave men were constantly on the go. Hunting, gathering, whatever. (only took one anthropology course in college so don't beat me if my facts aren't perfect) Humans aren't meant to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day and then drive through pick up their dinner and park their pre-diebetic butts on the couch for four hours watching TV - only to repeat the same pattern over and over. This combined with our love affair with processed carbs is why I think we have an obesity epidemic in America. But hey, we aren't the fattest country in the world anymore. Now that honor goes to Mexico. Sorry Mexico. I looooooove your food, I just can't eat it. 

Not that America isn't much better.....

So one of the best quotes I ever heard about exercise came from, of all places, Richard Simmons. Yes that Richard Simmons.....

You are welcome for that photo. Just try and get that out of your head. But, for all his glitter and flash, he really helps a lot of people. He said "IF YOU LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT EXERCISE, YOU WILL JUST BE A SMALLER VERSION OF YOUR FLABBY SELF". 

I have heard that diet is probably 70-90% of losing weight, but exercise is they key to truly changing your body. And for those of us with PCOS we know that exercise is key in regulating blood sugar and insulin levels - which is the key to unlocking freedom from the PCOS nightmare. 

Here are some interesting articles and videos about exercise:

Now go work out !!!

Treating PCOS with Diet and Exercise ⎢Daily Dose With Jillian Michaels |...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My Wedding And Fitting Into My Dress

I always knew I wanted a non traditional wedding. Most little girls dream about their weddings. I never did. So when my now common law husband asked me to marry him 4 years ago on Christmas Eve, I was ecstatic. I cried tears of joy. But, I was in no hurry to plan a wedding. I find "events" very stressful, and while I can handle a lot of stress, when it comes to stress about "happy things" I just seem to have a defective button. For instance, I could get yelled at my a customer for an hour and it would just roll off my back, but me trying to plan and go through with my own birthday party requires at least 3 melt downs.

Me after the proposal....

 Sean and I had set a date a couple of times, we even went as far as booking a hall, but it just didn't work out. Sean kept getting sick. Our wedding money was spent 100 times over on medical and hospital bills. Also we were legally common law married, so there just never seemed to be that motivating thing to have a wedding. I knew I really wanted a wedding, but I was far too concerned with it living up to lofty expectations and failing. I needed to take a leap of faith.

 That all changed for me when my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. I realized that I very much wanted a wedding, and I can't wait to change my last name. But, more than anything, the thought of having a wedding and my mother not being there was not okay with me. Like, if my mother passed I would probably not ever have a wedding. She has always talked to fondly about her wedding. Even though she and my father were together, like Sean and I, for many many years - it meant the world to her to say vows in front of the people she loved. There is something significant about that public display of commitment that I completely respect. It was that final push that made me realize that I was putting off something I really really wanted for very selfish and insecure reasons.

My parents wedding....

Of course planning a wedding when you and your parents are broke is quite interesting. However, I found that it has been kind of fun. Not spending $20k on one day took a lot of pressure off. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT, IT JUST HAS TO BE. So we went small. We found a venue, a historic honky tonk , with everything I wanted in a venue : charm, an old stage, a wooden dance floor, Christmas lights hung from old wood beams, and character to boot. And it only cost $600. It even comes with a second modern building for prep or dining or whatever you want to use it for. Here are some wonderful pictures....

Guests will be transported to a different time. It will be the folksy wedding of my dreams. The nice thing about not dreaming about a wedding when you are a child, is that you have no grandiose expectations. We plan to take our vows on the dance stage. Sean is agnostic, and while I am religious, it doesn't matter to me at all whether we get married in a church or not. I believe God is all around us. That stage will be my church on that special day. 

The plan is pretty simple. People will arrive, be shown their seats, and encouraged to grab a drink and a small plate of appitizers. Then after about 45 mins to an hour Sean and I will take out places on the stage to say our vows, while our guests sit comfortably at their tables. After the ceremony, we will have BBQ and philipino food cooked by Sean's step-mother. We will have a full band. Towards the end of the night we are going to have about an hour of karaoke. We have been blessed with people helping so far. Sean's good friend is providing us with an ice cream bar of galato as our gift. My aunt is going to arrange the flowers, which will be simple roses in glass vases. I worked at this very fancy wedding destination called the Vineyards, and I learned a lot about weddings. I learned that the owner's wife bought the flowers from Sam's and then arranged them herself and made a killing off of it. So all our flowers will come from Sam's and my aunt will arrange them. The only things I am still looking into is a photographer and possibly a photo booth. I just love those old time photo booths. We will provide beer, wine and champagne - while guests are welcome to bring their own bottle if they want anything harder. It is going to be very laid back, very non traditional and hopefully a wonderful night. 

The first thing I did, when I decided no more excuses, was to buy the dress of my dreams. It was a $600 designer pink lace dress that I fell in love with the moment I saw it. Even better I got a deal and only paid $360 after taxes and shipping for the dress. What kind of shoes do I plan to wear might you ask? Crocs! LOL Crocs has a whole line of super comfy dress shoes and I found the perfect white wedge heel. Here is my dress.....

I knew when I bought the dress it would not fit. Designers just don't make clothes for big girls. And that is okay. It has been hanging in my closet for me to see every day to motivate me. So far I have lost 38 lbs!!! I would say that it is working. TODAY FOR THE FIRST TIME I GOT THE GUTS TO TRY IT ON. It almost fits. First I am proud to report that my breasts actually fit into the top. That was my #1 concern. But I have lost something like 6 inches from my chest and it has really helped. The only issue is the satin slip built in underneath is getting caught on my hips. I think 20 lbs and this dress should fit just right. I have 20 weeks until out wedding on December first. If I just lose 1 lb per week, I should be fine. My hope is that I can kick it into high gear and lose up to 2 lbs per week and lose 20-40 lbs more before the wedding. Nothing motivates a girl more than the thought of photos that will last a lifetime. Plus, since I got the dress at such a bargain, if the big day comes and it doesn't fit I will just buy another dress. I have already mentally prepared myself for that. Worse case scenario I have a gorgeous designer silk dress to wear later when I do lose enough weight. 

The goal is in sight. I am making fantastic progress. I truly hope this day is a wonderful one, that I can share with the people I love. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Status Update: Casey 38 PCOS 95

I've been keeping track on my weight loss and my battle with PCOS. As of right now the score is Casey 38 pounds lost and PCOS 95 pounds to go until I reach my normal healthy weight. I am getting there. It was Casey 0 PCOS 133. Yes in a matter of only a couple of years I let my PCOS get so out of control I gained 133 lbs. Crap, I used to weigh 133 lbs just 7 years ago. In this case, two Casey's is not better than one. But as of today it is Casey 38 and counting! My wedding is roughly 20 weeks away. My intermittent goal is to lose another 20-40 lbs in the next 20 weeks. It is always important to keep the BIG GOAL in the back of your head, but smart to keep small achievable goals along the way.

 To me, every single pound is a milestone. Every day I eat healthy and exercise is a milestone - a reason to celebrate. If all you focus on is "the big picture" it will seem so far away it will be hard to stay motivated. Would I kill to be back down to 150 lbs wearing a size 8, um yeah - duh! But I don't judge my success on simply reaching that one goal. Getting down to 245 is awesome. I never thought I would say that I am ecstatic to be down to 245, but when you weighed 283 - 245 IS awesome!

In a very strange way, I am grateful for this horrible experience. Never again will I take for granted being a normal size. If you wear anything smaller than a size 14, and you want to complain about being fat, then you need to balloon up to a size 22 and learn to shut your winy mouth up! You're happiness with your body is completely relevant on your perception and experience. You don't have to be miserable and feel fat or ugly at any size. You can choose to be confident in who you are and how you look. It is completely up to you. If I wake up in a bad mood and choose to feel fat or ugly that is my problem and mine alone. Same goes for you. So be grateful for the body you have and treat it right! The biggest lessons I have learned from my battle with PCOS is gratitude and acceptance. Try it, it does a body good.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Getting Back on The Diet After Vacation

Well we got back from Las Vegas on Friday. We had a wonderful time. We went for the shows and for The Food. Somehow I only managed to gain 3 lbs. Not bad! This is why I believe in cheat days. It is unrealistic to imagine staying on a diet every day. If you do that, when you do cheat - which you will, then you will freak out and binge eat and before you know it a few months will have gone by and you will have gained back all the weight and then some. Been there, done that. So I let myself have a cheat day once a week. This way every week I practice falling off and getting back on the wagon. Eating healthy 85.71% of the time is something I can do forever, as a lifestyle. 100%, um no. Here is some of the wonderful food I enjoyed while on vacation....

The Buffet at Aria....

Room service at 4 a.m.....

A-mazing steak and lobster at Brand at the Monte Carlo.....

Unbelievable Sushi at MGM....

And finally on my birthday The 4th of July a 4-course meal at The Stratosphere.....

So how did I eat all this and only gain 3 lbs? MODERATION. When you are going to cheat the key is to cheat in moderation. I was able to enjoy some of the best food I have eaten in my life, without ruining my diet and weight loss. Also if you can steer clean of high calorie beverages when you cheat that helps a lot. I don't know about you, but I would rather eat my calories than drink them. 

Upon returning home we had a birthday dinner with the family and yes there was a chocolate cake. If it is your birthday- EAT THE DAMN CAKE!!! Then Monday it was right back on the wagon. Before we left for vacation we completely cleaned out the fridge. When we got back we headed to Sam's and the grocery store and re-filled the fridge and pantry with healthy food. Last night we had a lovely stuffed salmon filet with peas and wild rice pilaf. Yummy! I think that is my favorite meal. 

So to sum it up. Cheat days and/or cheat meals are, in my opinion, an important part of a healthy lifestyle, because they teach you how to get right back on the wagon. This allows for you to go on vacation, have a cheat week, eat birthday cake and not ruin your diet. Viva Las Vegas ! 

Amazing Video About Weight and Insulin Resistance

This video is truly amazing. What touches me most about the video is how he talks about how he was "doing everything right". Like him, and many women with PCOS, I worked out daily and I spent 90% of my time on a diet. Yet I couldn't stop gaining weight. I went to doctors, in fact I went to a freaking endocrinologist, who told me I just needed to lose weight. What Dr. Attia is saying here is what I believe to be the truth. In America we have an epidemic far greater than obesity, we have an epidemic of insulin resistance that is causing people not just to be overweight and obese but to have serious life threatening and life altering sub-diseases. For me the key is eating low-glycemic and exercising. And not just low-glycemic to lose weight, I plan to eat low-glycemic forever. Because once I do lose this weight I want to keep my insulin regulated and my hormones at healthy levels. That old myth that a calorie is a calorie is WRONG. Just look at us. We are fat. We are sick. And we don't know why. I hope the medical profession keeps going in this direction. Let's treat the cause and not the effect. Let's prevent this from happening to future generations. Imagine the money that would be saved from insulin resistance/ obesity related medical claims. Imagine the quality of life that would improve! Just imagine.