It’s Working!!

People! I was so excited to get on the scale this morning and discover I had finally dropped below 125. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m short, and though medical professionals would say I’m within a healthy weight range, I am not happy with where I am. Or shall I say, where I was? Because I’ve lost almost 7 pounds since starting this process, and my goal is to lose another 9.

I’m still on this diet plan of six small meals per day, and I’m still really loving it. I believe it’s something I’ll be able to sustain even after I hit my goal weight. I’ve also been drinking my daily greens and the occasional skinny coffee and chocolate mousse meal replacement (my new BFF from It Works!!) and I’m exercising every day with my daughter. I invested in two cheap yoga mats so it’s a little more comfortable to do the floor exercises. We’re up to day 18 and doing 50 second planks (which apparently are no longer “her jam” lol).

The best news of all is that I still feel so much better. Light on my feet most of the time. In the past, a trip like the one we took to the zoo would have knocked me down and I would have needed several days to recover. It’s no small miracle that I was able to be up and around Sunday, given all the physical activity I did on Friday and Saturday. I have energy to do the things that need to be done, with plenty left over to do the things I enjoy, like spending time with my family, running, walking the dog, etc.

Now if we can just get this knee back in shape so I can get back to training for my half. The weather has been kind of perfect for running and I really miss it. I might get out for a short jog tomorrow, we’ll see.

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The Zoo Snooze

You may say I’m crazy, but I spent the night at the zoo last weekend and I LOVED it! This was a really fun event put on by the Girl Scouts and my daughter was super excited to be going. She’s an animal lover right down to her core so this was right up her alley.

We rode down Friday late afternoon to Binder Park Zoo and stayed until Saturday afternoon. It’s only an hour away from us but I don’t think I’ve ever been. After this trip, I’m sure I’ll be back. I was extremely impressed with the staff and the conditions of all the exhibits. None of the animals looked sad, like they sometimes seem to be at the zoo. They all looked happy and relaxed.

We saw SO many animals! Peacocks, a sloth, bears, kangaroos, a snow leopard (if you can find it in the 2nd row photo), goats, red pandas, zebras, and my new favorite: giraffes!! We also saw a lot of other animals I didn’t photograph, like rats, bunnies, doves, tarantulas, turtles, ostriches… the list is longer than my memory.

There were so many great moments throughout this trip but my favorite and most memorable moment had to be watching Natalie feed lettuce to the giraffes. The joy on her face was just priceless! Those giraffes just came right up to us as we all stood on the platform. I couldn’t get over how enormous they were! I mean I know giraffes are tall, that’s kind of their thing, but the heads attached to those long necks were huge! And they were so stinkin’ friendly! All those giggling girls with their arms out and those gentle beasts just came right up to us. Just stunning. I’ll never forget it.

Several times throughout the second day Natalie would tell me how much fun she was having and she would thank me for coming with her, or thank me for letting her come. We walked over 6 miles that second day and there was not one complaint from anyone. And if anyone was going to complain, I would have expected it to be my daughter, but no, she was truly grateful to be there and sharing this experience with me. Neither of us had ever seen a giraffe in person before and we got to share that first together.

These are the moments, folks. Natalie is only 9 once and she’s quickly approaching 10. I’ve got to grab hold of these opportunities while I have them. This was such an incredible adventure for the girls to have and I’m so happy I was there to share in it. Who knows what the future holds but I’m hopeful it’s full of lots more exciting adventures.

With lots of recuperating in between, of course. This momma took a serious nap when she got home!

My son’s 6th grade field trip

Last week was our children’s last week of school. For my son, this was the ending of his first year of middle school. He is no longer a 6th grader, no longer a novice. This was a challenging year for him, as he adjusted to life with a locker combination, waking up ridiculously early, moving from one class to another, and having to keep up with homework assignments and tests from multiple subjects. I’ll be honest, he struggled a lot in the beginning of the year. He has a lot of energy, and he had a hard time focusing. That quality may never change, but he changed nonetheless. He worked extremely hard to manage everything and he ended the year in even better shape than he had expected to. Attending the end of year class trip was an enormous privilege, one that he very well could have lost. But he didn’t! AND, he asked me to be a chaperone on the trip!

We met at the middle school with all the other 6th graders and chaperones to board charter buses for the 2 hour drive west. We were headed for Michigan’s Adventure, an amusement park in Muskegon. Our day at the park was memorable, for sure. Luke rode a few rides, he walked around with some friends while I hung back and read my book. He swam and rode some rides at the water park. We ate Dippin’ Dots (did you know they have a dairy free flavor?)!

One really exciting thing Luke decided to do was ride the RipCord, which is basically a thrill ride where they pull you up super high (180 feet, to be exact), you pull a cord, and then you go flying. It’s insane, and it has always made me really dizzy and freaked out to see people riding this ride. It’s one you have to pay extra for, and I told Luke he would have to pay for it out of his birthday money if he really wanted to go. This kid loves thrill rides. I don’t even think he’s afraid of heights. He paid his money and waited TWO HOURS with no complaints. And as you can see in the photo, he was happy to wait and ready to go. I got the whole thing on video so we could show dad when we got home. It was terrifying and a lot of fun all at the same time.

The amazing part about the whole day for me was that Luke actually wanted me there as a chaperone. Though I could groan at having to walk around all day with a bunch of middle schoolers, I didn’t. Because I know in the coming years he may not want me anywhere near him and his friends. And since I don’t get to bond with him over baseball like his dad does, it was really great to be able to spend this day with him. That, and at the very end of the day, we enjoyed a fresh elephant ear as we hustled back to the buses. He and I share a love for this sinful confection, and we discovered that our favorite parts of the “ear” were opposite (he likes the crispy, I like the doughy) so there wasn’t even any fighting over the last bite.

All in all it was a fantastic day and I hope I never forget it. I am so proud of Luke for all his hard work this year and I look forward to making more good memories with him down the road.

Summer break has begun!!

We started off our summer break with a trip to the dentist yesterday (because I’m the best mom ever) via Spec-tran. Then today we went to Taco Bell via bikes (theirs) and feet (mine). I refused to buy fast food for the kids so they opted to pay for their meals. I was just in it for the miles.

This run went pretty well, considering my recent knee problems. I wore a new knee brace that was surprisingly comfortable to wear. I still had some knee pain beginning in the 4th mile, but the compression from the brace seemed to keep it tolerable. What I noticed in the beginning was that the added support on my right knee seemed to help me lift the left leg when I began to experience a little foot drop. I’m not sure how or why that works but I’m not complaining. The drop foot used to be so much worse and now I barely think about it. I’m just praying my body continues to cooperate as I add on more miles.

I really love that my kids enjoyed riding their bikes while I ran. This will allow us to go to a lot more places around town. They get their fun and I get my training runs. It’s a win-win. Of course the ultimate bonus is that we are spending quality time together.

I am super excited for this summer. Kids are getting bigger, I am getting stronger, it’s gonna be great.

Food

My relationship with food is a tad dysfunctional. I’m what Oprah (or most therapists) calls an “overthinker” and that’s certainly true when it comes to food. But I can never seem to find a middle ground. Either I’m obsessing over what I should be eating, or I’m eating whatever is available. Like, I love leftovers. You cook once, you eat for days! But sometimes the leftovers aren’t even mine. They are left from my family members, who won’t eat leftovers (with the exception of cold pizza). So I see them in the fridge and I think, “Hey we don’t want to waste that delicious food I prepared a few days ago! I better eat it.”

But the other day I was introduced to a novel concept by a friend who is also a health and nutrition coach. She talked about eating only what your body needs, and pairing healthy proteins and carbs. So you aren’t feeling deprived, and your body starts using those fat stores. I think. I maybe have it a little wrong. But here’s what I started doing. New Plan: eat 6 meals a day, up to 200 calories per meal, every 2 to 3 hours. Each meal should have a healthy protein and carb, heavy focus on the protein. And drink lots of water! And exercise.

Folks, I’ve been on this new plan since Memorial Day and I have needed zero naps to get through the day, and I’ve lost 3 pounds already. It’s crazy! I almost think it’s a fluke but I’m gonna keep going with the plan in case it’s actually working. I mean, what a concept. Exercise daily, eat healthy portions of nutritious food, and your body is happy. I’m doing all this because I had gained weight this past year. Not a ton, but enough that I had to buy new pants and I don’t feel so good in my skin. So I had started counting my calories and I lost a whopping 6 pounds and then… nothing. I was stalled for several weeks. So it’s incredible that in less than two weeks I got the scale moving in the right direction again. My end goal is to lose another 16 pounds. Folks, that may not sound like a lot, but on a 5’1″ frame, it’s significant. It’s as if I’m carrying around a gallon and a half of milk around my waist and legs. I would really love to shed those gallons.

Another incredible change that I’ve noticed is that I don’t have nearly as much brain fog. I don’t struggle as much to remember or to process things. I find this especially true on the days I’m drinking my “greens”, my It Works drink powders that have my fruits and veggie nutrients and just a tiny bit of caffeine. It’s all about the veggies, people 🙂 I’m still taking a B12 supplement but I think all of these changes put together is really helping my brain to work better.

My favorite change of all? No napping required. Stable energy levels. I’m getting up at 7ish every morning, and I have the energy throughout the day to do things. Not boundless energy like when you chug a Red Bull, but normal, constant energy. Up in the morning, devotions, coffee and breakfast, a few chores maybe, then another meal (snack), more work around the house, lunch, and on it goes. I’m not feeling like I’m losing half my day like I was when I would crash at 1 pm and wake up 2 hours later. That, and I’m kind of always eating. And do you know who loves eating? This gal, right here.

It’s like some kind of freaking miracle. I’m here, present in my surroundings. Life is finally not moving too fast for me. I’m able to keep up, and without much effort. I am so grateful to be where I am today, and I’ll never forget where I was 6 years ago. I’m going to stay on this path to better health and wellness, because there is so much life going on around me and I want to be a participant, not just a bystander. Amen? Amen.

Walk MS 2019

If I already blogged about this, forgive me. I’m just pretty sure I didn’t, so you’re getting this report a month late.

So! In May Mindy’s Minions gathered again to walk 3.1 miles around the capitol city in support of everyone living with multiple sclerosis. This is such a fun and lighthearted event, but it also does so much good, seriously.

The National MS Society puts on this event, and I am always eager to support them because they have been such a huge support to me from the beginning. Even before I was diagnosed with MS in October 2009 they helped me. During that summer, I had this strange and painful itching in my right arm. I was googling on the interwebs to find out what could be causing it, and I stumbled on their website. What I found was a detailed description of my symptoms, one far more detailed than I could have written. In short, they nailed it. I remember the moment so clearly. I was on my lunch break, sitting in my cubicle, and I had to hide the tears that were rolling down my face. I knew at that moment what I had, and I was terrified.

I was later diagnosed, of course, and the Society helped direct me to support groups for people like me. The first group I walked into was probably 80% older folks who were confined to wheelchairs. So, again, I was terrified. I thought I was staring into my future. It wasn’t until I found a support group for people my age that I started to have some real hope. Our group is a little more dispersed now and doesn’t meet in person anymore, but we still offer each other regular support through a private Facebook group. We share our struggles and our victories, we talk about our changes in diet, exercise, and medications. We are there for each other when we feel like no one else can understand. It’s been a true gift to have these people in my life, and I wouldn’t have them if it weren’t for the National MS Society.

So I raise money to give back. I walk, WE walk, to show our support. It’s an exercise in solidarity. I am surrounded by amazing family and friends all year long, but this day is special to me. It’s a day for my family and some of my dearest friends to come together and show their official support of me and my battle with this awful disease. I could not fight this alone and I am truly grateful to have these people in my corner.

I’m a big girl now

Something great that has come out of my disability in the past 6 years is that there isn’t much in life that I take for granted anymore. That is a huge gift, to have a grateful heart the majority of the time, without even having to try.

Yesterday I had a hair appointment to get my wig trimmed. Not literally, that’s just the phrase my husband uses for getting his hair cut. Anyway, the salon I go to is about 2 miles away, and in the past I would have utilized the paratransit bus system to get there. However, though it’s a great service that I use quite often, it does come with drawbacks. You have to schedule ahead of time, and then you have to wait. They give you a 15 minute window to work with, which is fine, but it can be a little nerve wracking at times. I had decided that since the weather looked decent, I was going to ride my tricycle. And I did! It was fabulous. I felt so free and uninhibited. I got where I needed to go, at my own pace, all by myself. Which sounds silly when I say that out loud because for Pete’s sake, I’m a grown woman. But you guys! I know you all get it, right? I did it! All by myself!!

You have to celebrate the little things when they are good so you make the good things bigger. God loves to work in the details and I love that about Him. Find something to celebrate today, no matter how small.

I may be deaf and half-blind, but I am and will always be… still Mindy