Binge Eating Recovery During Special Occasions

Yesterday I had my physical. My doctor told me I’d gained a few pounds since my last visit. I was expecting this, as mentioned previously I’m on a new medication that causes weight gain. It didn’t stop that sucker- punch feeling, right in my stomach. In addition to the guilt of gaining weight, I was completely drained from spending so much time waiting in the exam room. I had to bring Anna with me, and although she is very well behaved, three hours in an office can be especially trying.

 

When we finally left the office, I had to run into Walmart for some groceries. Anna was spent, and I was right there with her. My feet felt heavy, my shoulders huddled forward as my confidence and energy quickly depleted. I tried to keep a running total in my head as I threw items into my basket, and my anxiety grew as I watch the total rise. We are broke, really broke. What can we do without?

 

There were so many negative feelings inside of me when we reached the seasonal department. Exhaustion, depression, financial guilt, anxiety and frustration caused the sting of new tears in my eyes. I fought them back as I walked through the aisle, Valentine’s day merchandise surrounded me. Pink, red, and glitter should have lifted my mood. My eyes were drawn to all the little hearts and stuffed toys. I was tempted to buy Anna a little something for being such a good sport with our errands, but I knew it would eventually end up just being another piece of junk at the bottom of the toybox. The last thing we need is more useless junk. Then, there I was: standing in front of a wall of chocolate.

 

034000666140Oh, how quickly I found those Reese’s hearts. Thousands of justifications popped into my head. I deserve a treat, peanut butter has protein, it’s only 97 cents, I could use a sugar pick me up, I haven’t eaten yet today. I held one in my hand for a moment.

 

Guilt. Instant guilt.

 

Why am I wasting money on something so trivial? I was just told this morning that I gained weight, why would I buy something like chocolate? I’ve worked so hard cutting out sugar, is this really worth keto flu?

 

It wasn’t worth it, and I put it back.

 

On the drive home, Anna dozed off. I found myself alone in the quietness, which is never a good thing. My thoughts wandered as jouska set in. I started to think about the days that I would have bought that chocolate. I remembered that I would have not bought just one. I know I would have ripped that first package open while I stood in that long line to pay. Probably two or three more while I was alone in the car. I’d hide them when I got home, not because I didn’t want to share, but because of the shame that comes with buying them in the first place.

 

I thought about how I’d have handled stress that evening, knowing a bag of Reese’s were hidden in my nightstand drawer. I’d shut the bedroom door, and while I was alone I’d start tearing open one after another. The sugar would drowned those unhappy feeling for a few seconds. I’d chase that feeling of happiness by eating more and more, trying to extend those few seconds to maybe a minute or two. Eventually I’d look down at my lap, which would be littered with all the empty candy wrappers. Guilt sets in again, the unhappiness creeps back. What have I done? Why have I dug myself deeper? After bingeing I’d feel even more sadness, exhaustion and guit than before I started eating the chocolate. I’d want to be immediately free of that guilt, that heaviness, that sugar. I’d purge. I’d cry on the bathroom floor wondering what’s wrong with me.

 

Anna stirred in the back seat, bringing me back to the “now.” I could take an outside view of all the feelings I’d just been thinking about. I know that I’m not in the habit of making bad decisions anymore. I can say no, I can walk away and not buy the chocolate. Notice I didn’t say “I’m not that girl anymore.” The truth is, I will always be that girl.

 

Food for me is a drug. For most addicts, they are told to avoid their addiction all together. Don’t drink a drop of alcohol, stay away from the people you spent time with while you used drugs, don’t even walk into a casino if you’re recovering from gambling. Food is different. It’s required for basic living. I’m not able to keep away from my addiction all together, and the temptation to fall back into my old ways is always right there in front of me.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATomorrow is my birthday. I’ve had to plan everything out ahead of time to avoid the temptation to “treat myself” too many times in one day. I know that I’m going to the juice bar for lunch, and what I’m ordering. The same for dinner, right down to the dressing and side that I’m omitting. I’m looking forward to a great day, but also scared of the sugary bait that awaits me. It’s not just food I discover on my own. So many people think it’s kind to bake a treat on my birthday, and as much as I appreciate the thought, it’s like offering a drug addict heroin “in moderation.” No day is special enough to make me forget how hard I’ve worked to get here, and how awful it would be to go back to my old ways.

 

I mentioned that people like to offer treats on birthdays. It’s also holidays and gatherings, where the buffet of food stretches all the way down the kitchen table. It’s not okay to tell me to “treat myself” for one day. It’s not okay to have a birthday surprise delivered to our table. It’s not okay to make me a plate, or guilt me into eating something I shouldn’t. That’s enabling, that’s pushing. You don’t realize the negative ramifications of that kind of behavior. I can’t always depend that others will be as strict as I intend to, so I’ve had to change my own way of thinking.

 

Originally, I thought “yes! It is my Birthday! I’ll treat myself to as much as I want!” Then, with lifestyle changes came, “no, I can’t have that.” I’m not sure why, but that statement seemed to invite negotiation. Using “can’t” made others want to rationalize the bad choice, like it was up for discussion. I’ve now had to change my mantra all together with, “ I will not have that.” It seems to be strict enough to end the nagging, but can still be said in a friendly, lighthearted way.

 

My vice is still hidden deep inside of me. My demons are easily accessible in every grocery store, bar, restaurant, drive thru, party and fridge that I visit. It is a minute by minute battle, and I fight it every single day. Sometimes I make mistakes and give in, and that’s an easy way to unravel. I always appreciate the support of my close family and friends, but rely on my own moral compass most. The most I can do it try to be better each day. Addiction recovery is a very long, very difficult road but I’m gaining coping mechanisms every day. Getting help was the best decision I ever made. It gave me my life back, and it makes every day a little bit easier. If you’re struggling, I encourage you to do the same.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

Schedule Your Darn Physical Exam.

img_0626Who has time to make it into the doctor’s office for a well visit? It’s never convenient, and it seems like it’s never a quick visit. You’re going to put it off, you’re going to dread it.. but it’s time to put your grown up pants on, and schedule your CPE!

 

CPE (clinical physical exam) is a necessary evil. These days diabetes and heart disease run rampant. It’s important to get ahead of the game to prevent these conditions, or catch issues early on. These appointments are typically no cost to patients through all insurances, as long as the visit adheres to preventative care.

 

img_0629Physical exams are also an important time to ASK questions! It’s the time to have that dark freckle looked at real quick, or ask if your menstrual cycle is within the realm of normal. What about birth control? Skin conditions? Diet questions? Trust me. Just go and get it over with.

 

Physical exams reduce the risk of chronic medical conditions with well visit monitoring. Your vitals during a CPE can be used as a baseline for comparison if an issue does arise at a later date.. and women, make sure you’re getting your pap and breast exams done!

 

img_0627As with most things, it seems that are own physicals always end up at the bottom of the to-do list. Funny though, that we keep our children adhered to their recommended well visit and vaccine schedule.

( #momproblems. )

Make your health a priority. Make an appointment for your 2019 physical. Schedule it today!

.. and if you’re feeling really productive, call your grandmother, too. It will make her day to hear from you.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

S.O.S Blueberry Muffin Fiber Bites (recipe)

img_0658Jacen’s had a long road with Ehler’s-Danlos Syndrome. This little known disease is a chronic medical condition that affects muscle and ligament elasticity. img_0661

Jacen has the obvious weakness in muscles like his arms, legs and abs.. and tons of joint dislocations. Specifically in his case, the weakness also extends to his cardiac tissue and GI tract.

 

 

img_0656Since the day Jacen was born he’s suffered with his tummy issues. Periodically, his tummy becomes so distended he looks pregnant. At its worst, he’s even needed hospitalization and an NG tube.

Pediatric constipation has become a wide spread epidemic, as low income families rely on prepackaged, high preservative food to make ends meet. American diets are high in affordable items like cheese and bread, as access to produce continues to err on the expensive side. Even children without medical conditions like Jacen’s struggle with chronic GI issues.img_0663

 

We are currently mid-struggle with a severe GI flare. I’ve been in constant contact with his doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital (bless that man, I love him.) It’s not looking good, and we are trying some home remedies to avoid being admitted.

img_0664The Doc is pumping him full of medicine, but diet and water intake is crucial in these times. I whipped up a batch of emergency fiber bites to help him out, but really the whole family loves them!

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Semi-Homemade Emergency Fiber Blueberry Muffins.

 

Ingredients:

1 box cake or muffin mix (whatever you have on hand.)

1 cup almond milk

1 bag frozen blueberries

2 cups almonds

1 cup steel cut oats

⅔ cup (or one individual container) applesauce

 

Choice of toppings

(We chose sprinkles to try and cheer Jacen up)

 

Directions:

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Soak almonds and oats in boiled water (off heat) for 15 minutes to soften.

 

 

Strain excess water, immersion blender almonds/oat mix. img_0671

 

Combine 1 cup almond milk, ⅔ cup applesauce and cake mix in a bowl. Add blueberries (we chose to also use the immersion blender on the fruit to reduce the choking risk for our 1 year old. This step is completely optional.)

 

Combine batter, oats&almonds, and blueberries.

 

Transfer to cupcake molds.

 

Bake at heat and time recommended on box mix. (Because we have not used egg, cooking time may be reduced- it also means it’s safe to lick the spoon!)

 

Cool and add toppings.

 

You’ll notice the batter goes much further with the added ingredients, usually doubling the net batter. These freeze incredibly well, and are easily transported for breakfast on the go. Try heating them up with a scoop of ice cream for dessert- YUM!

 

The nutrition facts on these little guys vary depending on brand of ingredients, ours worked out to be 25 grams of fiber per serving! Almonds, oats, and applesauce are fiber POWERHOUSES!

 

For best results with tummy issues, drink plenty of water with your high fiber foods.

 

You’ll notice no where in this recipe does the word “keto” show up. It’s definitely not low in sugar. Sometimes in emergency situations, we have to balance getting the right nutrients in our bodies via the most efficient method. In this case, I need my son to get his fiber in, and disguising it as little cupcakes works best.

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If you try this recipe, I hope everything comes out okay for you!

 

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.  

Don’t brush this one off, take a moment to breathe today.

 

I preach a whole lot about slowing down, being mindful, and taking a breath. It dawned on me this morning how pointless it is to continually write about this if my readers aren’t practicing these things too. I wasn’t born with the innate ability to breathe in a mindful way. Calming my body has been a LEARNED skill, taught to me by my therapist or my own research. If you haven’t been exposed to this, you might not know where to start, so let me help you.

 

The very first step (in my opinion) is learning how to breathe mindfully. Slowing your breathing will lower your heart rate and blood pressure in a moment of high anxiety. In turn, your body will decrease the amount of adrenaline and cortisol it is releasing. You will be able to calm your body down naturally.

 

I use this method in both moments of high emotions, like when I’m overwhelmed, and also at the beginning of my meditative sessions. I find this type of breathing gives me the opportunity to connect with my internal self, and step away from the stresses of the outside world.

 

This exercise is portable. You can use it anywhere, any time as a coping mechanism. That’s what makes it so great! While learning this technique, I find it best to find a quiet spot where you can focus on yourself without distraction. Olympic athletes do not learn their skills during competition time, it takes years of practice in a private gym. The same philosophy should be applied to your mental health skills. Learn them in times when you DON’T need them. Practice your skills routinely, then they will be perfect and helpful during “competition time” or for our purpose, moments where you need to calm your body in the real world.

 

Learning calming breathing is quick, and easy! Let’s start now!

 

Sit in a chair. Square your body off so your shoulders are over your hips, and your feet are side by side, grounded on the floor. Place your hands where they are comfortable, for me I rest them on my thighs.

 

Close your eyes.

 

Start to become aware of your breathing, without trying to change it. Focus on the air coming in, and try to mentally map it’s route. It comes from outside your body, it enters through your nose or mouth. Follow it down into your lungs, and feel your chest expand. Repeat the awareness a few times. Are you breathing quickly? Does the air make it all the way into your chest? Are you expanding your lungs to their full extent?

 

You’ll notice quickly that your breaths will naturally slow and become deeper, even without trying to change it. Take note of your body sensations. When you’re relaxed, how do the muscles feel in your back and shoulders? What is your core body language? Do you feel the heaviness and grounding in your feet? These will become your baseline goals for calming in the real world.

 

This is mindfulness.

 

Shutting out the world for a moment and focusing on what’s happening right now is the definition of mindfulness. When you are able to just focus on the breathing that is happening now, without trying to change anything, you are thinking about this exact moment as it happens; not future breaths, not previous breaths. Just this breath.

 

I encourage you to practice breathing regularly. Try to pick a time that you could make routine. Is it the few moments in the morning that you’re waiting for the shower water to heat up? Is it the last moment before you sleep, sitting on your bed and preparing to relax for a restful night? How about in the car, when you first sit down after a long day of work. You haven’t picked the kids up from daycare yet, and you are completely alone.

 

Mindful breathing doesn’t have to be a big deal. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. It’s an incredibly useful tool, it’s free, and it’s portable.

 

My writing is coming to a close. You’ve been able to take the time to stop and read, can you take another moment to stop and breathe? There’s no time like the present to start.

 

Wishing you luck, love, and calm.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

Love yourself, so she learns to love herself.

I’ll keep tonight brief: you have to be the best you, to be the best caretaker. Children learn from modeling and repetition. Don’t say things about yourself that you wouldn’t want your daughter to say to herself. I promise you, the things she hears you say now become the voice inside her head for life. Use that power responsibly.

Strong women:

May we meet them, may we be them, may we raise them.

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the kids.

Interrupt Anxiety With Gratitude.

img_0538I spent this afternoon with my older children at the ice rink. It brought back memories of my figure skating days (good and bad,) but it was so much fun to see the kids laugh at their mistakes, get active, and keeping getting up every time they fell. We are closer this evening than we were this morning, there’s nothing like getting a little silly to bring us all together. I am so grateful for happy children. Children who persist, and give their all.

 

img_0534I had to step a bit out of my comfort zone just for a babysitter. I agreed to bring Anna to a family member on Mike’s side of the family. I was hesitant at the offer, and almost put my phone away to act like I never saw her message. When I looked at Arielle, knowing how badly she wanted to skate with me, I realized I had to put my mom pants on and suck it up. There’s no doubt in my mind that the aunt I left Anna with is perfectly capable, and so sweet. Anna loves her and had a great time, and I’m actually very excited that I was able to see her on a day that wasn’t a major holiday. I hope this is the beginning of forging a closer relationship with Mike’s family.. But it didn’t stop me from anxiously rehearsing in my head the whole drive to her house. It didn’t stop me from feeling awkward or wanting to turn around or cancel.. But I want this. I want to have a good relationship with my in-laws. I want my children to grow up close to ALL of their family members. I want Arielle to be able to do the things she’s longed for, even when it means getting through my own anxiety. I am grateful for family who wants to be involved with us, and who want to help my children have special days. I’m grateful for their patience with me, as I work through my issues. I’m grateful for their ongoing support and love.img_0536

 

img_0533Walking into the rink is usually the worst part for me. I spent so much of my childhood in ice arenas, and like 96% of that time was excruciatingly awkward for me. I was so terrible at socialization, it was difficult to fit in. I was an automatic oddball, being so much bigger than the other girls on my team. Memories of being measured for matching synchronized skating outfits in front of my peers, or announcing my size to order team jackets- it still knocks the wind out of me just remembering. On the ice, I remember hiding in the corner. I obsessively feared that if I used the whole ice (as required to practice skills) I would get in the way of stronger skaters, cause an accident, or embarrass myself. I literally forced myself into a corner, and was famous for “holding up the boards.” I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting any better or progressing to the next level when I spent so much TIME on the ice. Looking back now, I can tell you that I didn’t get better because I was anxiously doing footwork in a 4×4 square of ice, instead of practicing my routine as intended. I guess that’s the accountability you gain as you age. From all of this, I am grateful for the progress I have made. Today I was not consumed by my overwhelming memories of awkwardness. They did not send me into a spiraling panic attack. They were benched while I focused on getting the kids’ skates on. I’m grateful that I have family and friends who make me feel included, instead of a lonely oddball – now we’re all just oddballs together and it’s WAY more fun.img_0535 I’m grateful for how far I’ve come; to not feel heavy on skates or self conscious of my size. I’m grateful for the self worth that I’ve acquired- being able to skate with the public on the entire ice, instead of standing in a corner.

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I am grateful for so many things today. I’m grateful for the past, as difficult as it may have been, it made me into who I am today. Into the mother I am today. I am grateful for my children who keep me laughing, and make every day of my life worth living. I’m grateful for the family who step up to help, who want to spend time with the kids, and who understand the work I’m putting into getting healthy. I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made on myself, and the help that has been made available to me.

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There have been times in my life where I felt like I was slighted by God. That I had nothing, was nothing, deserved nothing. Pulling out of a dark place like that isn’t easy. There were many days I did not want to exist, and even days I considered.. Erm.. taking steps to make myself not exist anymore. Things are different now. I love being alive, and I don’t want that to change at all. I want to spend every day with my babies. I want to have happy days with them. The ultimate blessing, the thing I am most grateful for, is being able to see how lucky I am to have this life. I can not take it for granted, and I will not let myself be in a position to wish it away. I am here, I am blessed, and I am so grateful.

 

With healthy hearts (and frozen, ice-rink toes,)

Kate and the Kids.

Bringing dadirri out of meditation and into conversation.

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January 26th is Australia Day! Although there is currently controversy about moving the date of this holiday (sparking many celebrities to take a stand against celebrating this year) it didn’t stop me from thinking of my favorite Australian things. No matter the day of the year, I’m always celebrating the beauty Australia provides- the gorgeous scenery, the cool animals, and the God of Thunder- Chris Hemsworth.

 

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Take a moment to soak in all that Hemsworth glory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on, having Australia on my mind has reminded me of one of my favorite Aussie words: dadirri, (noun) meaning a deep, contemplative listening. This is one of the words that cross my mind as I close my eyes and settle in at the beginning of a meditation session. Thinking of Australian heat and sunshine brings me to a happy place. Using dadirri as it’s intended meaning, intently listening to nature, can draw meditation to an organic place bringing us closer to the natural world.

 

Dadirri also reminds me of applying the same deep, attentive listening to my social relationships. I often preach about the importance of support. To me, having support is not just an A-B closed circuit. Support is a web where we can reach out for help, but also provide help when others need it. Listening to those in pain and giving love can help us with our own confidence. Connecting with empathy releases serotonin (the love hormone.) It’s often a natural reaction to hug those needing aid and comfort. A hug benefits both parties. Being a support person is just as important as the party requiring the help.

 

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(there’s no support like sister hugs. those things help ALL tears.)

 

I haven’t always been a great listener. Not having a healthy mind affects the way you interact with others. Unsure of how to comfort, I’d often interject with my own stories to try and relate, or sometimes vent my own woes (accidentally giving off that “one up” or “I have it worse” perception. It’s not the appropriate time to make things about you.

 

Having anxiety, or overly wanting to be a supportive friend often made me try to think of what I’d say next. I’d be zoned out and rehearsing my next response in my head, then realize I completely missed the conversation. That’s an overzealous fail, but with sincere intentions.

 

What am I doing to improve myself? First, I’m focused on my long term goal – strengthening my relationship with my loved ones, and raising them up to be the best they can be. Next, I’m evaluating what hasn’t worked in the past: making things about me, or focusing on my own input instead of theirs. Finally, I’m making changes.

 

Finding yourself in a situation that requires your listening skills should first alert you to put away distractions. Put your phone down, shut off the tv, or step into a private place. (One of my biggest pet-peeves is when my husband scrolls Reddit as I speak.) If someone is reaching out to you, they deserve your attention. Make eye contact if they’re in front of you. If it’s a phone conversation, tell them to bear with you while you step into a quiet place to talk. If it’s via text, don’t set your phone down and walk away. Do your best to be responsive and involved.

Read the room/audience. The way I listen to my sister is different than the way I support my ten year old daughter. My tone is different, the questions I ask are different. Gauge your interactions appropriately, and accept that these situations present themselves in all different forms.

 

Ask questions, specifically open-ended questions that allow opportunity for additional details or emotions. Yesterday I called my sister before I acted on a particularly difficult task. I was looking for emotional support and validation that I was doing the right thing. She asked me questions like “what happened that made you want to do this?” and “how would it feel if this bad thing continued and you didn’t complete your difficult task to stop it?” I called looking for HER validation. Instead, her questions lead me to finding MY OWN validation. It was the difference between being pushed in the right direction versus being empowered to go the right direction myself.

 

As part of asking questions, ask for clarification. This makes the speaker go into further detail, or repeat the important highlights. This is just as important for them as it is for the listener, as it reinforces the most meaningful points of their speech. It also lets the speaker know that you ARE listening, and your brain is processing what they say.

 

Resist the urge to finish sentences or give unwanted advice. Let them speak for themselves. Interjecting in an overpowering manner can take the conversation in an unintended direction, leaving the speaker more confused or feeling that they have ‘unfinished business’ with their original issue still weighing on them. This can be incredibly frustrating. I once had a good friend who often fell into “circumstantial speech” which is a pattern characterized by rambling, unnecessary comments or irrelevant details. For example, she would tell a story about fighting with her boyfriend but get lost in the details of ‘was it Wednesday or Thursday? Oh, it must have been Wednesday because Thursday I went to the laundromat to make sure his work clothes were clean. He gets in a lot of trouble at work if his uniform isn’t just right. I’ve been using this new detergent that smells great but it’s a little expensive…” The temptation was always there to stop her to say that it didn’t matter what day it was, just tell me about the fight. That kind of interjection was not what she needed, I had to just be patient and let her get there on her own terms. Sometimes, the fight would end up being about the laundry detergent. She would want to spend the extra money on soap that smells great, but her boyfriend can’t justify the expense on something so trivial. If I’d gotten frustrated and tried to redirect her back to the fight, her flow and confidence would be knocked off kilter. Just be patient and let them get it off their chest.

 

I want the best for my kids, so I’m working hard to encourage good listening skills. We try to practice the “give me 5!” method.

  1. Give me your eyes- look at the speaker without distraction
  2. Give me your ears – listen to the speaker, even if that means turning off the radio or television.
  3. Give me your mouth- keep your lips still while you listen and resist the urge to talk over the speaker.
  4. Give me a quiet body- stay still while listening, stop what you’re doing with your hands, resist the urge to bounce your feet or legs. (motion in body language can often make the speaker feel that they are being rushed to finish the story, or that you have become uninterested.)
  5. Give me your brain- process what is being said to you. Formulate questions to ask at the appropriate times, think of consoling words or actions to use at the right time.

 

Listening is a skill, and needs to be practiced to be improved. No one is perfect, and organic body sensations can be hard to change (such as rehearsing your next comment for the conversation, when you should be listening.) The best we can do is have good intentions, and make ourselves available to those who need support. Even the worst listeners have the ability to comfort, even if it’s just physical contact or being present. I aspire to bring dadirri from meditation and into my conversation skills- to slow my own mind, and allow it to fill with the sounds of others. It’s difficult, it’s a process, and it’s a goal. I’m not there yet, I don’t know if I will ever be. Being aware of my own intentions, and my desire to support others is already the first step.

 

May you find your dadirri- for your own health, and the support of others.

 

With healthy hearts (and listening ears,)

Kate and the Kids.

Progress is not linear.

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There’s a huge misconception that taking one step backwards is failing. Instead, picture yourself driving. You approach a road block. Police are redirecting traffic while a crew works on removing a tree that’s fallen in the road. There are downed power lines and puddles from the recent storm. You must turn around and backtrack a bit, but you end up taking a detour. It takes a little bit longer, but you’ll still make it to your destination. The detour made it SAFER for you. Sometimes it’s worth taking the extra time to avoid dangerous trees and downed power lines.

 

 

So that’s where I am today.

 

I weigh myself on Friday mornings. I’ve been maintaining between 153 and 158 since June, even though my goal weight is 150. I just can’t seem to break those last three pounds. Today when I got on the scale it read 160. I won’t lie, I got a little teary eyed.

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I’ve come a long way, and for the most part I can appreciate that my new life is much more than a number on the scale. It’s fitting on roller coasters with Arielle, and conceiving Anna after reversing my PCOS.  It’s shopping at stores that don’t carry plus size clothing, and getting hugs from Jacen where is arms fit all the way around my body. That doesn’t stop my heart from sinking when I disapprove of my weight.

 

 

 

I think the most profound change recently was the addition of Seroquel. My psychiatrist started prescribing this for better sleep, since I was having nightmares every time I slept. This medication for sleep was chosen over some of the others because it also benefits mood disorders. It can take the manic highs down when taken daily. There’s a huge, very common side effect of weight gain. I would consider that my tree in the road.

 

There are other factors that I need to be accountable for also. Late night munchies, cream in my coffee, not meeting my water goals, focusing on yoga instead of cardio, etcetera. These are things I can change now. Not on Monday, not the first of them month. Right now. I even dumped my morning coffee that I’d made with cream. I decided to make a cup of tea instead.

 

Right now I’m on my detour. I believe the benefits from my Seroquel outweigh the weight gain. There are things I can do to manage my weight, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be the same person without my medication. It’s safer this way, and I’m choosing to take the detour.

 

This doesn’t have to apply only to medication. Weight fluctuates. Gaining a pound or two here and there is okay. It’s normal. It just means you have to evaluate your recent choices, and make the decision to do better. Don’t fall into the binge mindset of “well, I already fell off the wagon. Let me get in some of my favorite cheats and ‘last suppers’ before continuing on my diet.” That mindset is not a detour, it’s digging your hole deeper. When you do get back on track, you’re starting in the negative. Don’t make the mistake, start right now. Get yourself a cup of water, think about how you can make dinner tonight a bit healthier. It’s never too late to make a change.

 

Progress is not linear. There are ups and downs to every journey- physical, emotional, spiritual. It’s important that you don’t let one bump in the road derail you all together. Take a breath, take back control, and take the detour. You’ll get there in due time.

 

With healthy hearts (plus patience and a bit of faith)

Kate and the Kids.

Hygge of Cooking

Yesterday I posted a recipe for my Keto Ramen. As I took my full bowl in my hands, the warmth of the broth drew me into the moment. I love to focus on heat. It calms me, it soothes me, it makes me feel secure. I closed my eyes for a moment to savor the comfort.

 

With my eyes closed I could smell. I imagined the cartoony cloud of scent, swirling over my bowl and around my nose. I began to feel the difference in my mouth. The lovely aroma had triggered my salivary glands, and my body prepared for delicious food.

 

I was excited to finally taste it, and it was delicious. It warmed me from the inside- yes, obviously the heat from the broth, but more than that too. I was warmed by the accomplishment of making something delicious, something nourishing. Being successful and fruitful, providing for my family- there was more satisfied in that moment than my hunger.

 

Giving up processed food has been difficult for my husband, less so for me. I like knowing what’s going into the things I eat, and I enjoy therapeutic art of cooking. Similar to meditating, cooking lets me slow down and focus. It’s grounding and centering. It has a clear purpose, (feed and nourish) but also allows room for creativity (flavor, texture, temperature, plating.)

 

The need for producing food has been around since the dawn of life. There’s the obvious perk of cooking your own food to make healthy. There’s also a bonus of saving money, versus eating out. Cooking can be so much more than that.. So much more than checking that dinner box on your to-do list. It can be an opportunity to work on *you.*

 

Preparing meals for the family is a necessary task, so it’s a good chance to turn it into a positive, mindful experience. Being present in a small task, such as chopping vegetables, keeps our brains working with small motor movement. When our bodies do something mildly physical, the brain naturally wants to focus on what’s in front of us, resulting in organic mindfulness.

 

Creativity found in cooking has been shown to improve memory and intellect. Preparing food in a low-stress environment boosts happiness and confidence. Being able to take your time and focus on the preparation strengthens your bond with your meal, inducing feelings of both physical and emotional fullness.

 

Recipes and techniques are typically learned from observation and modeling. Preparing food can often become nostalgic as we reminisce about the friends and family who taught us our skills. Family traditions begin to surface in our minds, even happy memories of family gatherings and meals. Making dinner can increase your connection to family, and even become a platform for bonding with your cultural roots.

 

The best part for me is the appreciation for the food I have, for I know what it has been through. I do not take it for granted. It can not be replaced by reheating another box from the freezer. It may be replicated again with the same recipe, but it will never again be exactly like this one. It is mine, and it is my effort.

 

I find all of this incredibly helpful in overcoming my binge eating disorder. Slowly, mindfully preparing food reduces my desire to overeat. I appreciate what is on my plate, instead of mindlessly rushing for seconds. Being able to immerse myself in the process, from preparation to consumption, elongates my time with the food. I feel more satisfied and often like I’ve eaten more than I have because I’ve been exposed to the aroma for so long. I’ve been able to leave the “clean plate club,” stopping when I’m full instead of when we run out of food.

 

You have to eat today, so try making it a positive experience. What can you take from your meal aside from nourishment? How do you feel eating your food? What did you think of as you prepared it? Try it, and see if you find mindfulness like I did.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

Not Your Mama’s Ramen. (Recipe)

For many years I’d only heard of Ramen in the 10/$10, college staple meal kind of stereotype. It wasn’t until recently that I was introduced to the beautiful world of authentic ramen.img_0337

 

First of all, these dishes are beautiful. We eat with our eyes first, so I try my best to plate our food nicely. Second of all, it’s a great way to cram in veggies, protein and good fats in a family- friendly meal.

 

We took our ramen in a Keto direction, swapping traditional udon noodles for zucchini noodles. The starches weren’t missed. This ended up being a major hit in our family, and Jacen asked to add soft-boiled eggs to our “common use” menu!

 

Typically traditional Ramen starts with making a fatty soup base by boiling a whole chicken (usually about a 3lb bird.) Personally, I hate tediously fishing bones and cartilage out. I chose to use 1 package of skinless, boneless chicken thighs and they worked perfectly!

 

Ingredients:

Dark meat chicken, thighs preferred

Oil- grapeseed, avocado, olive oil, or coconut oil. (optional, recommended for keto followers)

Green onion

Canned baby corn cobs

Frozen asian stir fry veggies

Eggs

Rice vinegar

Chicken bouillon

Pepper

Seasonings to taste

12 cups water

Zucchini noodles/ udon noodle/ shirataki noodles/ pasta.

 

Directions:

In a pot, slow boil 12 oz of water, dark meat chicken and a cube of bouillon.

(we chose to boil on the lowest heat setting for about 3 hours to extract the most fat from the chicken.)

 

When broth is oily, remove the cooked chicken temporarily.

Increase heat to a rapid boil.

Shred cooked chicken and replace into broth.

Add green onion – we like the aesthetics of long pieces, but cut them smaller for picky eaters!

Add frozen veggies

Add baby corn cobs

Season to taste- we love Mrs. Dash’s asian blend.

Add more oil if desired  (grapeseed, avocado, coconut or olive) this is especially important to Keto followers!

Continue boiling until veggies are soft.

 

 

 

In a separate pot, soft boil eggs.

( I didn’t know how to do this before today, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to share the directions. )

Bring water to a boil.

Add a splash of rice vinegar.

Carefully add 6 cold eggs to the boiling water using a slotted spoon or wire basket.

 

Boil for exactly 6 minutes.

 

Immediately move to ice bath, let sit for about 6 more minutes.

 

Peel when cool.

 

 

Finally, cook your noodles. I prefer to remove my eggs from the boiling water with a wire spoon, then use the same boiling water to cook my noodles. (I hate washing dishes.) Zoodles and udon noodles only need to boil for about 3 minutes. If you’re using any other noodles, follow directions on the package.

 

Last, go on and plate!

 

I like to put our noodles first, then our veggie and chicken mix. Flood the bottom of the bowl with broth, add a halved soft boiled egg on the side.

 

Enjoy- it’s amazing.

 

With healthy hearts ( and full tummies!)

Kate and the Kids.

 

Finding peace, strength and warmth in my own home.

It’s in the single digits where I live in Massachusetts. The wind hurts, and I’m cold down to the bone. It’s the kind of weather that brings on the desire for hygge (the danish word to describe feelings of warmth, coziness, simplicity and happiness.) The temptation to stay in bed and never get out of my pajamas is almost overpowering.

 

Almost.

 

For me personally, lazy days of hygge lack the aspect of happiness. I find excess sleep or deviation from my routine set off my depression. If I give in once to my desire to stay in bed, it’s hard to break the habit. I’ll end up staying in bed for days at a time, giving into my own negative thoughts. I have more good days when I stick to my schedule. I get up with Jacen at 7AM to help him get ready for school. It’s imperative that I don’t go back to sleep when the bus comes. I choose to get active. I always feel energized and productive after I work out, and it boosts my confidence for the rest of the day.

 

In a previous post I’d mentioned that my gym membership wasn’t working for my family, and we chose to start the new year in a different direction. We’ve been making use of our gym at home, and it’s worked out better than I’d ever expected. I love being able to exercise with the kids. I spent too much of my life living unhealthily, and I never want my children to go through the same woes I did. It’s been wonderful having them get active beside me, or calm their bodies with yoga when they need to wind down.img_0266

 

Using our home gym has the added benefit of spending time in a space that’s tailored to our family. We’ve added a UV mood light, which mimics sunlight in the winter to reduce seasonal depression. There’s also a salt lamp, our own music, and an oil diffuser. Right there we’ve tackled three senses- sight, smell and sound. My favorite part of all is our windows. Natural lighting lifts my mood, and I find watching nature to be particularly calming. 

 

 

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My workouts start with stretching on a yoga mat, especially when my herniated disk acts up. I always end my workout with shavasana (a meditative, relaxing period at the end of a yoga session, typically done laying down.) Today as I lay on my mat, trying to clear my mind, I felt a gentle heat stretch across the bridge of my nose.

 

I opened one eye to take a peek. Sunshine, glorious sunshine. Through the window it’s almost impossible to tell that it’s 7 degrees out. The memory of shivering at the bus stop just moments before is practically overshadowed by the warmth. I closed my eyes again, and sunk into the heat.

 

The word apricity delicately flutters around my mind. I love saying it, as pronunciation alone seems elegant and graceful to me. It’s defined as the warmth of the sun in the winter. I can sink into that definition, almost feeling the snug glow in my body. Focusing on the warmth lets my muscles relax, and breathing becomes easier. Apricity.

 

The sunlight brought my shavasana to a deeper level. In my mind it reinforced that our home gym is uniquely ours and special. Moving from the YMCA to our own space creates an atmosphere unlike any other, and deepens our relationship with our home. I like bringing those feelings of relaxation, completion and productiveness into our living space. I hope it creates the same security and warmth in our children as it does for me.

 

There’s new show on Netflix called ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.’ It’s become quite popular, even if only in memes.

 

One thing that I’ve learned from Marie Kondo is the importance of surrounding yourself with things that “spark joy.” Her method includes parting with items that don’t give you that ZING! feeling of happiness. Looking around my gym space, I feel her ideals in my soul. It’s been incredibly effective to purge items that just take up space, freeing up room for our home gym. The gym is not just square footage in our house, it’s a living entity. It produces feelings of alacrity, and has been a place where our family has forged memories of togetherness and health.

 

Making your living space *yours* is essential to living your best life. What kind of feelings do you want your home to project? What works best for your family? For us, having access to a meditative space has brought in a ton of positivity.

 

 

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I received a bunch of confused looks and questions when I shared that we had cancelled our gym membership. It was hard for others to understand what I meant when I said “it wasn’t working for our family.” I want to integrate whole body health into our every day, every second life. Being able to come into the gym as we need it has really changed our lifestyle. It’s become an accessible tool, right at our fingertips. I’m seeing more activity in the kids, and a better understanding of meditation for all of us. Meditation can seem like a far away theory, something that seems too time consuming to incorporate into your day. Making a calming space readily available allows our family to tap into that resource easily, and makes meditation time more realistic.

 

Today I encourage you to make decisions that feel right for your family, even when it doesn’t make sense to others. Have confidence in your moral compass, and follow your gut. You have the ability to make a change, and to bring positivity to your family. You never know, you may even discover a bonus in your changes. Maybe a bonus like apricity.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

“You Can Do it!”- coffee

 

I’m a pretty average mom. I love my kids, target, wine and coffee. That last one is the kicker. Coffee loves to cheer you on with a “you can do it!” but it’s really just an enabling friend. tenor

Yesterday was my sister’s baby shower. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, full of anxiety. I was nervous to socialize, about my decorations, and about getting everything set up on time. When my alarm finally went off at 6:00, I leapt out of bed. I was so sick of staring at my ceiling and making lists in my head. The first thing I did was run over to the coffee pot.

 

img_6826Fast forward a few hours to setting up the hall. I was a jittery mess. My hands were shaking so badly that I couldn’t operate scissors, build a cardboard cake stand, or write clearly. I definitely had the opportunity to take a rescue benzo, but I didn’t want to be tired or hazy for the shower. I decided to power through and try to make the most of my extra energy.

 

 

The shower was beautiful, just like my sister. I got many compliments on my decorations (and to my surprise, many compliments on my blog too!) Now that it’s behind us, I’ve been able to take some time to reflect. img_0162

 

Caffeine can be helpful during a low day. Sometimes a coffee is the only thing that will get me out of bed on a depression day. The energy makes me feel confident and alert while boosting productivity. It can be a great tool for an immediate, non prescription, low cost fix. The problem comes when caffeine is used during a mid to high mood day. Because caffeine can lift me from a depression negative to my baseline happy, it also has the potential to take me too high, causing mania and anxiety.

 

Yesterday is a great example of this. I woke up and already had things on my mind, but craved the confidence the caffeine provides. I also tricked myself- I told myself I had too many things on my list and needed a boost to get them all done. The reality is, I had a completely manageable number of things to do. I needed to calm down and focus.

 

img_0161I was incredibly lucky to be surrounded by friends and family at the shower. My friend Heidi was quick to jump in and help with the things I couldn’t steady my hands for. My sister built up my confidence by being appreciative and supportive of the work I’d done in her honor, and the thought of celebrating my niece-to-be kept me striving for success. I was grounded by my mother, grandmother and kids when I needed to take a moment to sit and collect myself. Even when I shoot myself in the foot, support of loved ones keep me on track. img_0158

 

The truth is, I actually set myself up for disaster by guzzling down several coffees that morning. If I’d been in a different environment I’d have likely crashed and burned. It goes to show you how important and meaningful a support system can be.

 

I’m cutting back on the coffee. For the most part I stick to decaf, and just had a temporary lapse in judgement. Someone this week suggested trying green tea instead, and I’m going to give it a shot!

 

As always, the first part of learning from our mistakes is taking accountability for our own choices. The second part is accepting help, love and support. No matter what the issue is, no matter the day- there’s nothing you have to do alone. Always reach out, always ask for help when you need it.. Even if it’s only encouraging words.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

 

Self- Guided EMDR

img_0063This afternoon I balanced my sick baby on my lap, and pounded my keyboard as words of frustration flooded my screen. Anna’s had a fever since Sunday night. We are all tired, physically and emotionally. Our insurance deductible reset for the New Year, so affording care has been frustrating. We broke down and brought her in to be seen last night, even though we dread the bill. The provider refused to do any testing – no strep test, flu, rsv- nothing. They observed Anna for 1 hour and sent us on our way. She’s been alternating between inconsolable and sleeping since. The crying is overwhelming. Being clung onto for days at a time is draining. We all just want her to feel better, and get things back on track.

 

All that being said, my frustrations will not take over an entire post. I’ve been actively trying to live a more positive life. Although those frustrating feelings are normal and totally allowed, I’m not giving them that kind of credit. I’m ready to leave them in the past. Entire post deleted, let’s start fresh.

 

When things were at their most overwhelming, I decided to put Anna in her crib. She cried, but I knew it was a safe place where I could leave her alone for a moment. I stepped into the next room, where I could still hear her or be there quickly if she needed me. I needed to do something for myself, something to recharge me to tackle this day.

 

When we close an EMDR session, we typically end in a visual of a “calm, safe place.” Many times my OCD does not let me leave a session at my therapist’s office. I continue to obsess and process throughout the week, so I have been taught how to direct EMDR on myself at home. I’ve only been able to maintain short burst on myself, and for that reason I have only brought myself to my safe place. I will not process trauma with EMDR on my own. I feel that level of EMDR requires intervention, supervision and guidance by a professional. I decided that I needed to take a break from our little home, filled with loud cries and sick kids. I went to my safe place instead.

 

There are quite a few different methods of doing EMDR on yourself. The first method taught to me was the ‘Butterfly Hug.’ You sit with your body squared off, then cross your arms like a mummy in a sarcophagus. Your right hand will touch your left shoulder, and your left hand will touch your right shoulder. Close your eyes and alternate tapping. Focus on your safe place. What does it look like, smell like, feel like?

 

The butterfly hug is my preferred method. I feel more in control, and I like being able to close my eyes to really focus. If I’m wound up to the next level, I use this GIF to do the work for me. Just follow the dot with your eyes (don’t move your head, just your eyes) and try to focus on the image.

 

 

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img_0087Where did I go in my safe calm place? I recently learned the word thalassophile. It’s a lover of the sea. That word in and of itself brings back visuals of the beaches in Bermuda. Having the word on my mind brought me right to those sandy shores.

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First, I see blue. Bright, virant blue. Then I notice the edge of the waves turning white as they crest tord the sand. The water isn’t like the water here in Massachusetts. It’s not murky and dark- you can see right through it. I see tropical fish swimming around my feet. I love the little white ones that remind me of mermaid angels. I smell salt in the air, and coconut sunscreen on my friends. I smell burgers grilling at the beach bar, and Rum in a tropical drink- it’s called a Swizzle, and it’s a specialty in Bermuda. My shoulders tinge from the bright sun, I know I’m burning, but I love the warmth. I can hear my friends laughing in the distance, steel drums being played at the bar, and the tide coming in and going back out.

 

 

img_4359I remember happy things. My friend Heidi’s gorgeous smile when she told me the sun brought out my freckles. Watching the girls face away from the shore, take their tops off, and hoot while they swung them over their heads. The sound of Dustin’s voice, and his little accent. Nik and Jean-Marie taking a kissy selfie- It is their honeymoon after all. These things make me smile.img_4177

I focus on remembering how the salt textured my hair, and how the sand felt on my feet. I remember finding comfort during my pregnancy by hollowing out a place in the sand for my bump. It was one of the rare times I could lay on my belly. Warmth. Warm sun, warm water, hot sand. Comfort and security in that warmth.

 

img_0084The last thing I remember is dragging my feet as we lazily made our way back to the ship. We walked slowly, took a bunch of pictures, and tried to make those last moments last forever. The sun had zapped our energy, and we were in a sleepy daze. I think we knew at the time that we would want to revisit this place in our mind again, and we all tried to soak in every last second, every last smell, every last memory. 

 

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I opened my eyes in Jacen’s room to find my body relaxed. I was breathing normally. The tears in my eyes had turned from overwhelmed to nostalgic. In the few moments I had taken for myself, Anna had cried herself out to sleep. This break, as short as it would be, was so necessary. It was how I took control of my day, how I loved myself enough to realize I didn’t deserve to spend any more time in a frustrated state, and how I strengthened the bonds with my friends in Bermuda (and they didn’t even know it was happening!)

 

I encourage you to take back control of your feelings. Anger, sadness, frustration and being overwhelmed are all normal, common feelings. Being normal or common doesn’t stop them from sucking. You don’t have to carry those feelings, try EMDR and flip them around. Try meditation, journaling or mindfulness. Do something to make yourself happy.  Reach out to a friend. Don’t keep yourself in the darkness today.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

 

 

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(EMDR can be difficult to initiate on yourself if it’s new. If you’re having a hard time, just stop what you’re doing and focus on these waves for 20 seconds. Focus on your breathing, and feel better!)

 

 

Forgive me, for I have sinned.

So, my wagon hit a little bump in the road today. It’s does not mean I’m completely off the wagon. I woke up this morning, and I began mindlessly binge eating. It started with a healthy breakfast, followed by crackers and candy. I looked down at all the crumbs and torn open wrappers on my lap, and just started to cry.

 

I had to take a second and HALT. In binge recovery, that stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. We use the acronym as a reminder to stop what we are doing, and figure out WHY we are over eating. Honestly, it’s almost never hunger for me.

 

I believe this morning was a combination of tired and anger. I was definitely in a “just woke up” haze, and the sick kiddos have cut into my sleep allotment. The anger I’m feeling is a very mild, subtle anger. I’m mad at myself. I’m mad at some of the financial issues my husband and I are facing, I’m mad that I’ve been at the same weight since June. I’m mad about some of the social decisions I’ve made recently, and (mostly) I’m mad at some things I’ve done in the past.

 

One of the worst times in my life was planning my sister’s wedding shower. I had just found out I was pregnant, and had to stop my psych meds cold turkey. The stress was too much, my social anxiety was out of control and I was so mean to the other girls in the wedding party. A few years have passed, and I’m in a much better place but it doesn’t stop that anger and embarrassment from surfacing.img_2596

 

My sister’s baby shower is this weekend. Everything is so parallel between her wedding and baby showers, I feel like I’ve been here before. Things have been smooth sailing thus far, and I’m so excited to celebrate my niece to be.. that was up until Friday. I realized this weekend that I’ll have to work with the same girls both in preparation and day of. The worst part for me is that I actually really love these girls, but I feel like my past behavior really ruined our relationships. It’s the dread, the embarrassment, the guilt that’s dragging me down. It’s hard to shake, and it’s tempting to fall back into my old coping habits.

 

But recovery and therapy has given me tools, and I need to use them.

 

The first step is just to stop. Put down the bag of candy. Pause. Do not dig the hole any deeper. Next, reflect. ‘Why am I doing this?’ Today, it’s because I wanted to heal my angry wounds from years past. Finally, How do I move forward?

 

The ongoing theme in my whole-body healing has been accountability. I have to take responsibility for the awful things I’ve done. By acknowledging that I was wrong I can take the steps to fix it. In this case, I have dual accountability. First, the reason my relationship with my sister’s friends is so horrible is because I treated them badly. My depression did not hurt them, my anxiety did not hurt them. Although they may have fueled my actions, I was the one who made things the way they are. The second is admitting that I made a mistake by over eating this morning. It happened, it’s over with, I can’t take it back. There is no moving forward until you can admit your own mistakes.

Making a plan of correction. For my social woes, I know that my friends deserve an apology. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do that, since it’s been about 2 years. I tried around Christmas time to get up the nerve to mend things, and ended up not seeing the girls during the holidays. I’m using EMDR and coping mechanisms to be kind, and trying my best to be honest about things that make me overwhelmed. Nipping those overwhelming feelings in the bud will hopefully avoid that angry word volcano.

 

In both problems, there is no changing the past. No time machine. It’s also important not to go too far in the other direction to over- compensate. Restricting my calories or skipping meals will only end up making me hungrier, and one emotional straw will break my back into another binging episode. I also don’t want to over-do it with my friends. Going too far will come off as fake or insincere, and that’s the last thing I want.

 

When I get in a rut, a binge eating mistake or a social problem, it’s easy to want to punish myself. I have a huge habit of beating myself up, or “trying to make up for it.” ..Pretty much anything to avoid taking accountability for my own actions. I can treat myself so harshly.  I am my own worst critic. I was once told that I needed to treat myself more like how I treat others. ‘How would I treat my child or my best friend if this was their problem and not mine?’

I would not tell my children to restrict eating to make up for indulging. I would not tell my best friend she was worthless or undeserving of friendship for a past mistake.  I might feel those things for myself, but I don’t truly believe them.

 

Just like with anything else, I’m taking my steps to get better.

 

I admit that I have emotional issues, and I’ve coped with them incorrectly in the past.

 

I believe that I can get help.

 

I accept help from my medical team, my family and my supporters.

 

I analyze myself- why I do things, what things I’ve done, what I need to stop doing and what I need to fix.

 

After analyzing, I admit that I have done wrong things, and I can not keep going the way things are.

 

I trust that the help I get from my doctors and supporters will assist me in my shortcomings.

 

I am willing to make amends for my past wrongdoings.

 

I would like to correct the relationships I have corrupted.

 

I continue to look into myself, and work on myself.  I admit when I am wrong.

 

I seek education and betterment on my conditions, with intent to use them to live a healthier life.

 

I intend to carry the message of these 12 steps to others in need, be it in person or via my blog.

 

These are the 12 steps associated with AA, but they have been incredibly helpful on my own journey with food addiction and mental health recovery.

 

Bad things happen. Mistakes happen. You can’t take them back. The only thing you can do is admit you were wrong, and do better going forward. It doesn’t matter what the mistake is- you “cheated” on your diet, fought with a friend, broke your New Year’s resolution- it doesn’t matter. Just admit you were wrong, and move forward. DON’T GIVE UP. There are bumps on every road, but you have to keep going. You’ll never reach your destination if you don’t keep pushing on.

 

Forgive, do better, but don’t forget.

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the kids.

Filling my Cup with Hygge

I’ve been doing a lot of research on Hygge lately. Hygge doesn’t have a direct translation in English, but it encompasses feeling of happiness, coziness, acceptance and well- being. Our family has been dealt a bit of stress, and I’m finding the need for hygge even more important than usual.

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One of the most meaningful things I’ve heard as a mother is, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” It seriously needs to be printed out and handed to all expectant mothers with their positive pregnancy tests. The number of women who suffer from postpartum depression, the moms who are burning themselves out to keep their kids going, every woman everywhere- we all need to practice self love. We need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. It’s like when you fly on an airplane, and they tell you to secure your oxygen before assisting others. It’s seems counter-intuitive and selfish, but we can’t save others if we’re knocked out.

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With that in mind, I realized that I needed to challenge myself with a hygge activity amidst the sick kids in my house. I chose to fill my cup with yarn.

 

Crocheting for me keeps me mindful and calm. Counting stitches occupies the space in my mind that are sometimes filled with the dark thoughts and anxiety. The methodical, repetitive motions scratch the itch created by my OCD. On top of everything, the effort and time I spend with my projects produces a tangible, rewarding item in the end.

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Today Anna and Jacen are sick. Jacen is still feeling the effects of the medicine from his hospital visit on Friday, and Anna has a temp of 103. It’s been a rough day, but it’s also afforded us a lot of down time. Laundry and dishes took the back burner, snuggling and family became priority. I found myself able to crochet and comfort Anna at the same time. I had to keep my cup full before I could fill theirs.

 

I don’t think we’ve come out the other side of this illness quite yet, but I know I’ll be the best caretaker for them when I’m taken care of too. Love yourself today, find some time for hygge.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids,

Wicked Quick Keto Chicken Fingers

Ingredients
2 pounds chicken tenderloins
3/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper to taste.

 

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400.

Arrange chicken into a 13x 9 baking dish.

Spoon and spread mayo mixture to coat the top of the chicken.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Calories 342

Protein 33g

Sugar 0

 

We hope you enjoy as much as we do!

With happy hearts,

Kate and the Kids

 

 

Support of Siblings

I write a lot about the support I’ve received on my journey. It always shocks me how many people have stepped up to help me when I felt undeserving and worthless. Sometimes I feel guilty, like I’m a burden or attention seeking. That’s the depression talking. I strongly believe that everyone deserves support- ESPECIALLY when they feel they don’t deserve it. When I assess my situation from the outside, I want to scream and shout “YOU ARE DESERVING! ACCEPT THE HELP!”

 

Support comes in so many ways, and the need for support comes from so many origins. Maybe it’s just a matter of showing up to a friend’s performance, or sharing their small business post. Maybe it’s checking up on someone during an especially stressful time in their lives- just a call, a text, being tagged in a meme that will make them smile.

 

This weekend Jacen is a little under the weather. He was seen at the Children’s Hospital yesterday for some ongoing GI issues related to his Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS.)

 

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Unfortunately the medicine he was given has made him very nauseous and bothers is stomach. Mike and I canceled date night because Jacen couldn’t be away from a bathroom long enough to get to a babysitter’s house.. Plus the mama bear in me needs to care for my sick baby. Mike ran out this morning for gatorade, and melted my heart when he surprise Jacen with a “get well soon” present. The pups have been extra snuggly, hoping to make him feel better. Even Anna has been dragging her toys and books over to Jacen to cheer him up.

 

What really hit me  was Arielle’s reaction.  Before we knew Jacen would be sick this weekend, we had plans to bring the kids to Auntie’s house so Mike and I could have date night. They were  excited to play Mario Kart with their uncle, and snuggle with their labradoodle cousins. Sometimes they even get to sneak some orange soda and pizza. It was definitely disappointing when we realized we would all be staying in for a lazy day.

 

Mike and I started planning and scheduling in our head. How could we save this day? We were thinking one parent could stay home with Jacen while the other did something fun with Arielle- especially since she’s been begging to go ice skating.

 

When I brought up going to the ice rink, her eyes lit up! Then I had to break the news that Jacen would not be able to come, and it would just be her and I. She spent a moment on the fence, time with just the two of us is always so appreciated. Instead she looked over at Jacen and said, “my brother isn’t feeling great today. I’m staying home with him.”

 

That is support. That is genuine love.

 

Today, Arielle is supporting Jacen by sitting on the couch with him in their pajamas, watching TV and playing quiet games. She’s even helping Jacen get his medicine down and his fluids in by being his little cheerleader. They played “drinking games” with gatorade, and had so much fun. Jacen is going through a rough patch, but you wouldn’t know it. He’s smiling, playing, and laughing – even during the worst of it. He wouldn’t be acting that way without Arielle’s time and friendship.

 

What Jacen is going through this weekend isn’t cute. It isn’t fun to watch. (It’s honestly pretty gross.) He gets bullied at school sometimes for similar issues, and it’s easy to make a joke out of it or be nasty. Arielle has not flinched, has not said a mean word at all. She’s had plenty of ammunition to make a malicious joke, and instead has turned her energy into cheering up her brother. She has only been kind and helpful. He is so lucky to have her. We are so lucky to have each other.

I love talking physiology, as you’ve probably noticed. Being on the receiving end of support increases hormones of love, acceptance and confidence building. Being on the GIVING end, has an astounding number of its own hormones! It promotes happiness, and reward endorphins. It’s a win/ win situation!

Support does not to be grande, expensive, or a big deal. It doesn’t require fixing anything, or to do anything in particular. Support is just an action that makes someone else feel that they are not alone. It doesn’t even have to be time consuming. It’s just a moment, a smile. It’s a kind word, a small action, a hug. Everyone needs support sometimes, and everyone can give support all the time.

 

Be kind. Be understanding. Be helpful. Be supportive.

 

With Happy Hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

Mental health and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day






I wish I could tell you life after starting treatment was all rainbows and butterflies, but it’s not. Being treated may help manage symptoms, but real world problems still pop up.  Mental health is a life long war, but there are daily battles. Minute by minute we have to make decisions to either cope, or give up completely.

When 2019 started, my psychiatrist left the practice, and my insurance deductible reset. I ran out of one of my medications last week, and it’s been absolute hell jumping through hoops to get it refilled.

Obviously being without a medication means the psych symptom will be affected- but withdrawing also has so many physical side effects. I’ve had the most painful, debilitating migraines. I’m constantly nauseous and dizzy, and I haven’t been able to sleep.

The nights have been long. I’m either awake or having terrible nightmares. My husband has woken me up several times for talking, crying or yelling in my sleep.

On top of being sleep deprived, I’ve been dreading Jacen’s doctor appointment all week. As part of his Ehlers-Danlos treatment he is followed by a laundry list of specialists at the Boston Children’s Hospital. It’s top of the line care, and I’m so thankful to have such an amazing medical team, but driving into the city absolutely sucks.

I have a huge issue with driving. I avoid it as much as I can, and work on it with EMDR weekly. If you add New England weather, highways, the confusion of the city and my POS car it’s totally a recipe for disaster.

Enough back story, let’s talk about our day:


While merging onto the freeway in my overtired and anxious state, I received a text message. The text was in regards to my sister’s baby shower next weekend. It was a small detail, but threatened to shake up my preparations.

Living with OCD and Bipolar disorder doesn’t leave much room for surprises. The OCD in me obsessed about details and planning. I’ve been making lists, organizing and budgeting since I found out my sister was pregnant. My mind is already super structured. Add to that all of the emotions that come up when plans change. Emotions that run so high in Bipolar patients. I was immediately consumed by my anxiety.


My therapist likes to use the analogy of anxieties being like beach balls in a swimming pool. One or two is manageable, but if the pool is packed wall to wall, there’s no room to swim. They’ll even start overflowing the side. I had to pop some balls in my pool before I could breathe again.

 

The biggest ball in my pool was getting Jacen to the hospital. I had to get rid of the smaller ones so I could focus. I pulled off at the next rest stop. I was afraid by not engaging, they would proceed without me and undo the work I’d already put in. I was also in tune with my feelings enough to know I was not in a good mental place to vocalize my thoughts without projecting the feelings of ALL my other beachballs.I responded to the text message by answering her question the best I could, and saying “I have to revisit this conversation when my feelings settle down. I’ll text you later.”

 

Text sent, one ball out of the pool. I let Jacen and Anna sit in the car for a minute. I needed to calm down before I drove again. I got some air, and stretched my legs. I tried to clear my mind a bit, but still ended up vomiting.

 

Anxiety sucks.

When I got back to the car Jacen was playing baby shark on his tablet for Anna. I watched through the rear windshield for a moment, just to take it all in. From where I stood behind the trunk, I could see Jacen looking at the tablet and singing. Anna wasn’t looking at the tablet. She was looking at Jacen’s face, beaming ear to ear and trying to master the mama shark hand movements. There it is. There’s the calm and the happy.

 

As we pulled out of the rest stop, I made a conscious decision to keep my pool the way I wanted it. I asked questions about Jacen’s ‘cocoa & movie’ day at school. We laughed about Anna’s new hairstyle- this spunky little ponytail that makes her look like a unicorn. (It’s silly, but functions to keep the hair out of her eyes.) I just kept asking open ended questions when the conversation started to calm down, and it would pick right up. Before I knew it, we were pulling into the parking garage.

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When we finally got checked in and seated in the waiting room, I gave the kids their snacks and tried to regroup. I knew at some point I would have to process those crazy beach balls and coherently make arrangements for the shower. I also still had to make the two hour drive back home. Better to sort myself out before getting back behind the wheel.

 

So the beach ball analogy belongs to my therapist. I visualize things completely differently.

Step into my mind:

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ouch

 

For me, anxious thoughts and mental lists are always running through my mind. They pop up like comedic subtitles, similar to the old school house rock movies. 

The problem is that they pop up quickly and multiply, but they don’t go anywhere. I end up with this overwhelming cloud of words that grows and grows in my chest, until I can’t breathe.

 

 

word cloud

 

So now I have a choice: book or volcano?

 

That word cloud will eventually hit the walls, build up pressure, and need to escape. Before treatment that cloud would create an angry volcano. Mean words, things I never meant, insults and anger would fester like magma in my heart until I finally blew. Hot lava would run out, slow and viscous but deathly hot. It would smother those close to me. Fiery spatter would project fast, and bystanders would catch blistering droplets of my spiteful outburst. Even those far away would be caught in a cloud of ash, as the darkness of my hate and anger spread. Finally, all that hot lava would cool into hard rock. They rocks would pile high, creating walls that would never completely fall back down. Word volcanoes kill relationships.

 

angry volc

This is where blogging has really accelerated my progress. I have chosen to force my word volcano into a dormant state. Goodbye volcano, hello book. I know let my word clouds out, one sentence at a time. I just get them out of my chest and into writing. My cloud now comes out like beautiful apparition of ink. I see calligraphically ornate images dance out of my mind and settle onto a page, where they stick. When all the words are out, the weight is lifted. I can turn the page, close the book, even put it on a shelf. Those thoughts are out of my chest and put away. That’s what blogging does for me. All my lists, all my worries, clouds and thoughts- having them here means they aren’t my ball and chain anymore.

 

Join me again in the waiting room of the hospital.

 

I sat and wrote, I got my thoughts out. The cloud cleared, the beach balls were out my pool. You see, the old me would have just accepted this as a bad day. I’d let myself get depressed and angry. I’d take it out on my sister or husband when they asked me about my day, and I’d reply with a volatile snap back. Not anymore. Now I know these things were just speed bumps on a day that still had potential.


I’m so glad I was able to get myself together before meeting with the doctor. My list making was zoned in on Jacen. I was able to discuss his progress, problem, symptoms, and even a plan of action for the future. I wrote things down, asked questions and felt organized. It was the most productive appointment we’ve had thus far, and I can’t help but wonder if they’d all have been as successful if I’d gotten myself together sooner.

 

Before we left the hospital, we headed down to the food court for lunch. It was packed. “Crowd anxiety” goes into the word cloud, along with “child abduction” “pickpocket” and “nowhere to sit.”
Jacen asks for pizza. Add “mother’s responsibility” “pediatric nutrition” “messy” and “greasy.” .. Follow quickly with “childhood” “treat” “special occasion” and “moderation.” We negotiated to a slice of pizza and an apple.

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We grabbed our lunches and miraculously found seats. I was actually feeling better. I let my word cloud out by telling Jacen “I’m relieved we found seats, it was so crowded. I’m proud of you for staying close, I’m always afraid of losing you when it’s busy like this. Your pizza smells great! Isn’t this a nice treat?” That ornate calligraphy leaves my chest again. Instead of sticking to a page, it sinks into Jacen, and again find ourselves in a happy conversation. It’s at this point that I realize Anna has found her way into my peanut butter. “Mess,” “embarrassment,” “mom fail” and “peanut allergies.” Oh dear Lord.

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We got cleaned up, and bounced back.

 

Traffic.

2 hours home.

$40 for Jacen’s treatment for the weekend.

45 minute drive to pick up Arielle.

1 hour drive back home.

 

I just wanted to be home, but we had to stop at the grocery store. I tried so hard to stay in the positive. All three kids were full of energy. They were loud, and in the way of other shoppers. Anna tried to wriggle out from her seatbelt and escape the cart. The lines were so long. I think we were in that market for roughly 84 years.

 

When we finished up, it was 20 degrees and windy. I could barely work the straps on the carseat while my fingers were numb. Shivering, I popped the trunk and almost cried. This is the moment I realized my trunk was full with our stroller, and our backseat was full with the three kids. Where the hell was I going to put all these groceries? I was so cold I thought I’d throw up again. I jammed bags in where I could, and Arielle tried to help me play trunk- tetris. On the short ride back the only thing I could think was, “…and it will still be 20 degrees and windy when I have to UNload all these bags.”

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Frozen, hungry and tired we finally got everything (and everyone) in the house. I worked quickly to throw together healthy dinners- veggie pasta, chicken, cheese, fruit, vegetables- the whole darn pyramid. Not just the whole pyramid, the perfect arrangement of ‘this one likes barbecue sauce’ and ‘ I don’t eat chicken’ and three different fruits for three different children. I even had the meals served on the correct colored plates!  I placed them on the table and turned my attention to the baby.

 

Boom.

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Both perfect plates of food pyramid splattered across my kitchen floor. I’m not going to lie, my kids watched me cry on the floor in front of the stove.

 

I bet you’re thinking “page 5! We must almost be done. Surely this poor girl has been through enough today!” No. Sit down and buckle up, cause shit’s about to go sideways.

 

I mom’d up, got off the floor and stopped crying. I was starting on meal #2 when the older kids shrieked that the dogs were eating off Anna’s highchair table. I shooed them outside so the baby could eat in peace, but quickly realized the dogs were faster than she was. I’d be re-making dinner for the entire family. That’s when Dorothy, our youngest lab, decided to show off her Olympic long jump skills. First, over the wall of the puppy pen. I chased her around the yard, and tried to get her back in the enclosure. Nope. I swear, she stopped to make eye contact and smirk at me before she ran and hopped our fence too.

 

20 degrees and windy.

 

Without a coat or shoes I chased that damn dog into the street, and down three blocks. I still can’t believe I got her back home with no leash, no collar, and numb fingers.. Oh, and still no shoes.

 

I STILL would not accept today as a bad day. All the dogs were inside, the kids were sitting nicely. I went back to preparing a second meal for all THREE children. It was a partial pyramid. A dilapidated, partial, microwaved pyramid. Honestly, I would have ordered pizza if we weren’t coming up on 9PM.

 

Dinner attempt number two barely hit the table before all three dogs swarmed the highchair. I have no idea who did it, I have no idea if it was tooth or nail. Anna was screaming, and bleeding. The cut wasn’t bad, she was more so startled by all the activity. The tears rolled out with no effort to hold them back.. My tears, not Anna’s.

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I got the dogs in kennels, and the big kids fed. I took care of Anna’s foot, dinner, and pajamas. I was so happy when I realized that I was the only one downstairs, and the night was finally coming to an end.

 

I sat down to start blogging. Bad things happened today, but it wasn’t a bad day. There was plenty to be happy about, plenty to be proud of. I responded to an overwhelming text very responsibly. I had some great  conversations with Jacen. We have a plan on making him feel better. Word cloud to blog. This very long day was finally coming to an end.

 

Over the quiet taps of the keyboard clicking, what did I hear? Jacen violently vomiting from the other room.

 

May your night be better than ours.

With happy (even on the bad days) hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

This is your Brain on Friendship.

 

For the New Year, I did something pretty non-traditional. I cancelled my gym membership. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s cancelled. The gym I was using didn’t work for me, it didn’t work for my family. It was outrageously expensive and I was stuck in a rut, doing the same workout daily. I made the plunge, and have been successfully working out in my home gym. I have no excuses anymore.

 

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I do have a lingering fear that my success will derail without my gym membership. I try to stay motivated, but I no longer have classes, trainers, or exercise groups. Because of this, I was especially interested when an old trainer of mine reached out on social media. He had noticed my 150 pound weight loss, and congratulated me. He asked what I was doing for training these days, and offered to meet up with me for a refresher.

 

I put if off for a few weeks. I’m still super self conscious and high anxiety. I hate going new places, so I knew I’d be out of my element at his gym (where I’ve never been before.) I finally gave in this week, and decided to be a gym buddy this morning.

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First of all, reconnecting with an old friend is a great feeling! Depression is an isolating disease, and being isolated makes depression worse. It’s terrible cycle where you’re stuck in a hole and digging deeper. Spending time with friends releases the hormone oxytocin, which in turn doses you with dopamine and serotonin. Combining socialization with physical activity will up the ante. Exercise releases similar brain chemicals that lift your mood. For the socially awkward, like me, it also relieves the pressure of a face to face conversation. There are things to do, activities to focus on, and natural ice breakers.

 

After I got over the hurdle of anticipation, I had a really great morning. 700 calories and 90 minutes later, I physically feel great. It was a nice boost of self confidence to have someone see the change I’ve made, and get excited about my journey. I was definitely happy exchanging stories about our kids, what we’ve been up to and how much we’ve changed. Driving home I felt the best I have in weeks.

 

As I drove, I started to think about my “highs” lately, and they all center around my relationships. Most excitedly is my niece to be. Even just seeing her on the ultrasound screen made my heart skip a beat, so feeling her kick made me cry. It was the smallest bit of affection, but the contact made me feel so connected with her! Her mama is always sending me positive texts. She tells me about the baby kicking, or her thoughts about my blog posts. When I get to see her in person, her hugs work some kind of hormonal magic. She makes me feel so loved, so safe, so warm. My husband is constantly pulling me out of a funk. He’s learning so many tips and tricks. He’s really trying to understand mental illness and help me. Even just planning our February vacation with my mom sets off little burst of happiness. I’m looking forward to spending time with her, and I know the kids are too.

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Socialization is such an important part of health- mental and physical. It’s not easy when the depression pulls you under, but the right friends will always throw you a life preserver. It’s amazing what the human body can do, and how it can provide us with natural antidepressants. We just have to stimulate our brains the right way! Call a friend today. Lift your mood. Make today a great day!

 

With happy hearts (and great friends,)

Kate and the Kids.

Discount Meal Prep and My Recipe for Baked Ricotta.

When I first started the keto diet, I stuck to the basic meat and veggies. I didn’t want to over complicate things until I understood my new eating habits, and how they would affect my body.

You can only eat so much chicken and broccoli before you start to lose your mind.

Baked Ricotta  (AKA crust-less Ricotta pie, AKA Ricotta Bake) was first introduced to me in one of my binge eating groups. The ingredients fit within the keto requirements, and individual portions can be prepared in bulk and frozen for those of us with over-eating issues.

Basically the ingredients are ricotta cheese and an egg, mixed and baked at 450 for about 25 minutes.. but there’s so much more you can do!!

I frequent the discount rack at our grocery store. They mark down ultra ripe produce to 99 cents per container. The downside is that they’re so ripe that they’re about to go bad, so they need to be used or frozen the day you buy them. No problem for this mama! I’ll take deals on clean food where I can. It isn’t cheap to feed a one income family of 5 non-processed food, but it’s 100% my goal. Ambitious, I know.

 

So here was my amazing mega- find on the discount rack:

 

Looking at the ingredients bestowed upon me, I knew immediately what I was whipping up. In addition to the discount ricotta, produce and eggs, I also grabbed shredded mozzarella cheese and steel cut oats.

 

The detailed recipe I use:

 

base ingredients:

8 oz Ricotta cheese

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

*optional 1/2 cup grated cheese. It binds the ingredients better, and will result in slices vs. scoops. It isn’t always something I have in the house, so I typically omit it.

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basic topping ingredients:

1/2 cup red sauce

1/2 shredded mozzarella

 

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Mix ricotta cheese, Parmesan, beaten egg and seasonings together.

Place in an oven proof dish, either casserole- style in a 9×13 or (my preferred) in cupcake tins.

Top with marinara and mozzarella cheese.

Add any additional toppings. (I pulled some ground beef out of the freezer, used my discount mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes)

Bake at 450 for about 25 minutes.

Freeze in batches.

To reheat:

Place wet paper towel over ricotta bake, microwave until hot or reheat in the oven for 10 minutes.

 

Viola! Baked Ricotta.

 

 

 

So, you’re probably thinking- what about all that other stuff you bought? Well, it all had to be used or frozen the same day, so I did a major meal prep haul.

 

I first whipped up a double batch of steel cut oats. Although oatmeal is technically not keto friendly, now that I have reached my goal weight I have reintroduced whole grains in small doses. My children also LOVE oatmeal, so we go through it fairly quickly.

I peeled and boiled my zucchini, and threw it in my ninja until it was blended thoroughly. Then, I folded the blended zuc into the cooked oats. This is similar to zucchini bread where the produce adds moisture, vitamins and fiber but doesn’t have a detectable taste. Add 2 pinches of salt.

I sorted my produce into similar- flavored piles. For this haul I got apple & cinnamon, pear, and “tropical” mango, orange &kiwi.

I blend each pile separately in the ninja blender, then incorporate into 1/3 of the cooked oats.

When cooled, separate into single portion containers to freeze.

 

I also cooked those sweet potatoes, mashed with salt and nutmeg, and froze them.

 

Let me tell you, my freezer is STOCKED. It’s nice that there are different flavor options when the kids choose their oatmeal. The cooked sweet potato is great to heat up quickly as a side for Anna’s lunch. The baked ricotta has been used as both the star of the plate (paired with baked eggplant chips topped with Parmesan cheese) and also as a side to our typical meat and veggie dinners. It’s incredibly versatile and delicious, and I love that my toddler can eat it herself without the fear of her choking.

 

This entire stock cost me less than $20. All home made. All natural. No additives. All healthy.

 

 

We’ve been using this stock for almost a week now, and still are not sick of it. While cooking, we make a point of using different flavors in each batch. After it’s prepared, the pairing options are unlimited. It’s fed the five of us multiple meals- still working from the same investment of $20.

Don’t fear the discount rack! Save money, stay healthy. Use your brain and your freezer. You’ve totally got this, and your family’s health will thank you!

 

With happy hearts (and full tummies!)

Kate and the Kids.

 

Finding Confidence Without Justifying.

This morning was about 36 degrees. Here in Massachusetts, that’s a heat wave for January. I decided Anna and I needed some fresh air.

 

We bundled up, and hit the pavement. She isn’t a fan of having to wear the snowsuit, so we tried layers instead.. She still gave me the sour face for not being able to move freely. She got over it when DJ M.O.M. started bumpin’ baby shark on the speaker. (sorry to anyone in the neighborhood who heard our toddler rave.) We were moving, grooving and happy.

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We walk by a ton of our neighbors. They love to tell me how beautiful Anna is, or compliment my weightloss. Anna loves it most when she gets to pet the dogs. She’s a little Dr. Doolittle, I swear. We’ve never had anything but positive interactions.

 

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Well, I guess I can’t say that anymore. A grumpy old man walked up and scolded me for having my baby out in such cold weather. There was a fire lit inside me- anger, frustration, being annoyed- but I just swallowed it and said “have it under control, thanks.”

 

He seemed surprised when I kept walking, like he was expecting me to be ashamed and apologize. Maybe he was anticipating I’d engage and throw bitter words right back at him. Those are options, but not the only options.

 

There was a time in my life that words like his would have completely knocked me off my game. With low self confidence, I’d have completely believed his harsh words, been overcome with embarrassment, apologize a million times, and headed home to right my wrong.

 

I’m not that person anymore. I don’t need to change myself for a disapproving loudmouth. I’m not going to let you make me feel that I’m wrong, or that my worth is anything less than what it is. I don’t have to apologize OR explain myself to you.

 

I do not have to explain that Anna has one million layers on, or that we haven’t left the house in days. I don’t need to make you understand the road I’ve traveled or why staying active is important to both Anna and I. I have to do what’s right for us, for me. Even though I have taken appropriate precautions, I don’t have to justify them. I owe nothing to you. Not even a conversation.

 

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I won’t lie, as I walked on the anger grew in my mind. “I should have told him to fuck off.” “I should have yelled.” “I should have made him feel as stupid as I did.” “I should have stood up for myself.”

 

When the voices in my mind quieted down, I realized that I had, in fact, fought back. I stood up for myself without turning into a rage monster. I didn’t embarrass myself, I didn’t cause a scene. I was quietly and simply confident.

 

Grace has always been my intent, but not always my capability. Working with mood disorders and a younger brain (full or hormones at that) I’ve seen my fighting side. I’ve yelled out of rage, went right for the kill, and said the meanest things I could think of. I’ve even thrown a punch or two. More commonly though, I would retreat back into my low self worth. I’d meekly apologize several times, try to come up with an explanation. I’d run and hide away, beat myself up for being so stupid.

 

Not anymore.

 

I do not need to explain myself. I owe myself dignity, and owe nothing to anyone else. I don’t need to answer you, and I won’t. I’m not going to engage in negative people. End of story.

 

This has been a new concept to me, but I’m starting to really get the hang of it. Here are my tips.

 

  1. Don’t miss a step. Keep walking, and LITERALLY don’t let them slow you down.
  2. Simply acknowledge that you heard them with a short reply that doesn’t really engage. Acknowledging their words will empower you by standing up for yourself, instead if just sweeping it under the rug. You’ll feel confident and domineering for kindly taking control of the conversation.

Some of my favorite responses:

  • Got it under control, thanks.
  • I hope your day gets better! (said with sincere poise, this can be especially liberating to say to a customer service worker who has been less than kind to you.. And it feels much better than yelling or insulting them.)
  • The mother of all comebacks, look at them as if you pity them and drop an “ooohhh, I’ll pray for you.”

 

Mic drop. Walk away. No further engagement.

 

Hold your head high. Trust your own compass. Have stake on your own intelligence. Speak with conviction, without insult and without shame. You are amazing, and you don’t need to justify why. Be confident.

 

With happy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

Work it, Girl! – Even when it’s a literal pain in the back.

Exercise has been a crucial part of my weight loss journey. It was torture to move all 303 pounds of me originally, but I soon became addicted. I loved the feeling of accomplishment after a good cardio session. The more I lost, the more confidence and motivation I acquired- especially when I discovered my first “runner’s high.” For those that haven’t herd this term, it refers to the feelings of euphoria and reduced anxiety after a long and effective aerobic workout.

As I rounded 150 pounds, I looked forward to my daily 3.3 mile walks. I’d pop Anna in the baby carrier and take her right with me. Bonding, euphoria, weight loss- what could go wrong?

..Until the “POP.”

I wasn’t lifting, or twisting, or doing anything unfamiliar. I was just wearing my 9 month old in the baby carried when I herniated a disk in my back. Driving and sitting is excruciating. I was put on a weight lifting ban, and started physical therapy.

It’s been a few months now, and the pain comes and goes. From what I understand, when the disk bulges on the nerve it causes electric pain in my back and leg. When it’s closer to where it’s supposed to be, I have less pain.

The injury has forced me to change my workout routine- but there’s no way in hell I’m giving up. I can’t imagine carrying those extra 153 pounds around ever again. I will not go back.

So what’s plan ‘B?’ I still walk, but I have to use the stroller or wagon for Anna. Unfortunately that means I cant take her on the track with me at the gym. I’m totally digging HIIT workouts at home. I use a free app as a timer. I warm up with 15 minutes of cardio, then lift and and move in intervals with the timer.  I’m careful with lifting, and cross reference with my physical therapist if I’m unsure. For cardio I walk outside with Anna, do step inside, and lots of jumping jacks.

The best thing for my back pain has been yoga. I’ve loved the relaxing aspect of yoga for years, but now that my body is aging I have a new appreciation for the stretching.

This is the routine I’ve found most helpful for back pain:

  1. Child’s pose – best stretch ever, and great for mental grounding.
  2. cat/cow pose – gets disks moving and warms up the surrounding muscles.
  3. downward dog– stretches my back and spine, and often puts enough distance between the vertebrae for my disk to work it’s way back to its painless place.
  4. Windshield wiper– slow stretches for yoga, slow tight sets for an awesome ab workout.
  5. repeat child’s pose
  6. end with shavasana, relax, meditate. Let you back muscles rest for a few moments. enjoy the peacefulness and rest.

 

Yoga and distance cardio (or HIIT) have been my winning combination lately. As with anything, if you’re hurting consult a doctor.

 

Just to bring this all full circle, I’d love to tell you how exercise and yoga affect mood. Endorphins released during physical activity diminish the perception of pain- some say it even mimics morphine. It’s been scientifically proved that activity reduces stress when used as an outlet, decreases anxiety and depression, boosts self- esteem, increases productiveness, and creates opportunity for more restful sleep. It increases your energy to assist with depression and lowers blood pressure to ease anxiety. Physically, it strengthens your heart, improves various muscle tones, and makes you feel fit and healthy.

Whether you’re looking for physical or emotional benefits, exercise is the way to go. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, out of shape, or don’t know where to start- start small. Go for a walk. Stretch. Lift a gallon of milk a few times. Tomorrow, walk longer. Stretch deeper. Do a few more reps with the milk. I promise if you just take one extra step each day, you’ll soon be confident enough to try new things.

Believe in yourself as much as I believe in you. You deserve health, you deserve happiness. You can do this. 

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

 

Shake your Bad Mood Today.

It’s so hard to pull yourself out of a funk, especially during these dreary days of winter. Here are three ways to consciously make the change.

 

  1. Do something good for someone else! Hold the door for someone, engage with your blogger friends by following and commenting on a post. Share a small business owner’s event or page on social media. Throw some quarters into an expired parking meter. Bring a surprise coffee to a friend or coworker. Help an overwhelmed mom carry a few grocery bags to her car- or even that super heavy case of water. Give sincere compliments, in person or on social media- it always makes someone feel good.
  2. Be interested. Talk to someone- friend or stranger and initiate a conversation with genuine questions like “where did you learn to do that?” or “where did you get that?” Breaking the ice with an open ended question is a door to open conversation. Asking a yes or no question doesn’t offer much wiggle room.
  3. Hug it out. Greet you friends with a hug, it will make them feel your relationship is stronger than ever. Hug a grieving friend. Let them release the hug first, when they’re ready. Hug your children- let them know they are safe and loved without using words. Hugs release Oxycontin and serotonin, so you’ll be feeling better too!

 

Make the choice to create your own happiness today. Even when things seem hopelessly against you, take a breath to regroup and change it. The only thing standing in the way of positivity is your own effort. Make it a good day.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids

 

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(Pictured- my oldest daughter Arielle carrying snacks for my middle child, Jacen during a recent hike. She later told me how good it felt to be prepared and help her brother when he got hungry. She had a much better day that afternoon!)

Keto Pepperoni Chips

66% of Americans favor pepperoni pizza as a topping in addition to cheese. Unfortunately traditional pizza isn’t keto friends. I gift to you a recipe for baked, sliced pepperoni to satisfy your crunchy snack needs while on Keto. Awesome served with cheese (no crackers) or dip!
Facts:

Serving size 14 chips

Protein 5g

Sugar 0

Carbs 0

Fat 13

140 calories

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper (easiest clean up!) and arrange pepperoni
    slices in a single layer.
  3. Bake for 6 minutes
  4. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  5. Cool and enjoy!