Wednesday, March 28, 2012

To mom, with love

My brother, sister and I had the honor of eulogizing our mother today...

There are countless stories to share about our mother.  Just about everyone she knew has talked with us about how quickly Mom could throw together a meal, and fry chicken like no one else.  On Sunday, Tonya reached for a bowl at Shanna’s, and the one she grabbed was chipped.  Tonya reached for another, and it was chipped too.  Shanna laughed out loud and said, “Those were Mom’s dishes.”  We’re pretty sure Mom never had a full set of unblemished dishes for more than a week.  She was a little clutzy…  Mom loved parties, adventure, music, old movies, traveling, and the outdoors.  We have so many fond memories of roller skating, riding bikes, scouting, swimming, fishing and picnicking with our mom.  And Antioch Park will always be “our” place.

But more than all of these wonderful times together, Mom gave us an even greater gift. 

It is no secret that Mom’s life had its fair share of pain and turmoil, but we are so proud of how hard she worked in her final years to mend her heart and reconcile relationships with each of her children.  In the last couple of years, Mom made every effort to live intentionally; really taking the time to know each of her children – not just as her children, but as the adults we’d become – and allowing love to be a verb and not just a feeling.  She’d learned how to give of her time and her heart unselfishly, rising to the occasion and mothering her children in ways we’d previously not dared dream of.  She patiently sat through as many difficult discussions as we’d needed, genuinely taking the time to make amends … and allowing us to do the same. 

As her children, our constant hope and prayer was that Mom would arrive at a place of genuine happiness, belonging and peace.  In the end, she found just that!  While her physical body was failing her over the last couple of years, Mom’s heart and emotional well-being was better than ever.  She was surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and Michael.  She delighted in those around her.  She loved well, and was well-loved. 

The reconciliation of our family is a precious gift, and we are overwhelmingly grateful to Mom for being so bold, so brave, and so humble in order that we could become the family we’d hoped for.  The Lord moved in Mom's life – in OUR lives – in mighty ways … and He continues to do so even as we speak and cling to one another.

While our time has been cut short, we will forever cherish every moment we had with Mom.  She will be deeply missed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

We're having FUN in the kitchen

So, we've been on Weight Watchers for 13 days.  And in those 13 days, the meals that have come out of our kitchen are COMPLETELY different from anything we've made before.  We're eating things we'd refused to even TRY before, and liking all of it (okay, Bryan and Luke didn't like the eggplant parmasan very much).

In ten years of marriage, we'd never once made fish.  We've had it three times in the last week.

In ten years of marriage, we'd never once made shrimp.  We've had it five or six times in the last two weeks.

Shrimp with zucchini, peppers, onion and tomatoes

And we've had multiple dishes with our shrimp and tilapia and loved them all.

In ten years of marriage, we'd never once made stuffed peppers.  We've had them twice.

Ground beef and beans!  Reminded us of chili without the crackers.

In all my life, I've only once had an omelet.  And, I'd certainly never made one.  Veggies for breakfast?  No thanks.  But now?  I'm throwing every veggie at my disposal into my eggs!

I don't know how to fold an omelet, so it's basically scrambled eggs (one egg, one egg white) with veggies.

Between the ages of 18 and 22, I considered myself a vegetarian.  But, what I recently discovered is that I was actually more of a carbivore, as loads of pasta, crackers, bread, chips, cheese, dips and butter - with the occasional raw fruit or veggie - really can't be considered a vegetarian diet, can it?  Aside from steaming some veggies, I'd never actually COOKED with veggies till now!

We keep asking, "Why didn't we eat like this sooner?!?!"

In the first week, Bryan dropped 6 pounds and I dropped 4.  I also lost 1 1/2" inches in my waist, and measurements of my thighs and arms were smaller too.  AMAZING.

Since I can eat all the fruits and veggies I want, I really don't feel hungry.  And I quickly adjusted to the smaller portion sizes.  Now just two fajitas fills me up, when previously it would have been three, plus chips and salsa, plus guacamole or cheese dip, plus a soda, and perhaps a little ice cream in an hour.

During that first week, I felt better than I had in my entire life.  I was so much slimmer looking and physically comfortable.  Always.  Morning, noon, night.  For the first time in years!

Before starting this, I thought all those rolls were gross fat, but I honestly think I was B-L-O-A-T-E-D.  I felt miserable constantly.

And then I started eating better and felt FANTASTIC.

Then....  The day after our first weigh-in, I started my period.  Let me tell you, I have felt huge, miserable, cramped, uncomfortable, and discouraged for the last five days.  I cannot believe how miserable menstruation makes me feel.  At times I've wondered if I've already plateaued (really, after one week?), but I feel so miserable and I'm still eating well and exercising.  It has got to be my cycle.

The bright side?  I NOTICE the discomfort now.  Before, I felt like this ALL the time.  I was so puffed up every moment of every day that I didn't even notice PMS.

All of the cheese and crackers in the world are not worth feeling like this 365 days a year.  Thank you, Weight Watchers.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Weight Watchers 101

I've gained 25 pounds in the last 4 years ... nearly all of it in 2009 alone.

I weigh as much today as I did when I delivered each of my children.


So...  Now I am two hours into a Weight Watchers membership.

All of this is so shocking to me.

Five years ago, I could down a Totino's Party Pizza, chase it with a Coke and dessert if I wanted, and still have my size 6's falling off of me.

Then the reality of aging and living with PCOS came down on me.  I've got to exercise and carefully consider what I eat.  Blech.

The first thing I wanted to log into my Weight Watchers food tracker was a fruit smoothie.  Three strawberries, half of a banana, 1/3 of a cup of blueberries, a few blackberries, 1 cup of skim milk, 1/2 cup of grape juice, and 1 TBS of chia seeds.  Now, I will concede that this makes for a HUGE smoothie.  (But I totally would have drank the whole thing yesterday!)  And, on their own, each of the fruits has no points, but - for whatever reason - these foods, blended together, come to NINE points.

I'm only allowed 26 points a day.

I wanted to jump off a cliff.  Or strangle someone at Weight Watchers.

I love fruits.

But even my doc told me that I needed to adopt a diabetic diet for optimal health and weight control.  PCOS equals a pancreas that doesn't properly process insulin.  And now Weight Watchers is telling me - again - that all that fruit is not a good thing.

After concocting my NINE point smoothie, I settled for 2/3 of it and put the rest in the fridge...

Then I began building my grilled chicken salad that I'll have for dinner.  Mixed greens, cucumber, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and grilled chicken.  Only the last two ingredients have any points.  The total for the salad (which will certainly leave me feeling more satisfied than that delicious smoothie) is only FOUR points.  Evidently vegetables and fruits are not created equal.

Darned sugar in fruits...

Neither are salad dressings.  My full-fat favorite blush wine vinaigrette is three points.  An almost-equally yummy fat free raspberry vinaigrette is only ONE point.  Salad with dressing comes to a total of FIVE points.  Salad, glorious salad!

But I wanted to throw in TEN - count 'em, just TEN - yummy multigrain club crackers...  Another FIVE points.  Those ten measly (delicious) crackers DOUBLE the points value of my dinner.  I also left off shredded mozzarella cheese.  It probably would have only added one point, but I'm sure I'll be jonesing for a Tootsie Roll or two later ... and I love chocolate more than cheese.

For lunch?  Steamed broccoli and shrimp with some brown sauce (we picked up the sauce up at Chinese restaurant up the street).  Before the sauce, the broccoli and shrimp come to THREE points.  I'm thinking about throwing in a 1/2 cup of brown rice, but that about doubles the points of the broccoli and shrimp - as does sauce.

While I still hate Weight Watchers for showing me - mathematically - just how bad cheese, crackers, rice, bread, sauces, dressings ... and even fruit in bulk ... can be for me, I am grateful.  I just can't ignore this stuff anymore.

A sleeve of crackers and half a cheese ball has got to come out of my dinner rotation.  Sob, sniff...  Get out the plates, serve up proper portions and step away from the kitchen, Woman!

In under two hours, I have begun to get the concept of portion control and ingredient selection.