Check, Please!

408341_10150584180680757_1637822576_nI met my husband just over 7 years ago. The very first time he took his shirt off, I asked him about a mole on his back. Throughout the years I’ve paid close attention, and I’m glad I did. Today he had a small procedure to have it removed, and we are all breathing a little easier.

 

IMG_1839As of now, the doctor can only call what was taken off a neoplasm (An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). The dermatology office will send his sample off to pathology to be tested for further details.

 

1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer, and there are 63,000 new cases of melanoma reported each year. There’s a 98% survival rate in those who are treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes, so it’s important to perform frequent skin checks and take preventative measures.

 

 

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My sister GLOWING on her wedding day with her tan by Sun Kissed Spray Tans.

To prevent skin damage limit your sun time in the sun. You’ll also want to use and SPF 30 or higher, and apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. The sun is most damaging between 10AM and 2PM, so avoid direct sunlight during those hours. Most of all, avoid tanning beds! If you’re local, Linsey Bavin of Sun Kissed Spray Tanning does an AMAZING spray tan. She has countless recommendations, plus my friends, family and I have all had great experiences with her! My sister looked flawless on her wedding day, and the bronze really made her dress POP without causing the worry of sun damage. Spray tanning with a professional like Lindsey is a great alternative to traditional tanning.

 

 

You’ll also want to keep an eye on any damage that’s already done. Make sure you’re getting your yearly physical exam so your PCP can take a look with professional eyes. Check yourself monthly, and “have your partner’s back” by taking a look at the places your spouse can’t see on themselves. If you see something unusual or changing shape/color make an appointment with your doctor. Remember that if you can spot it, you can stop it.

 

IMG_1842Be on MOLE PATROL, and know your ABC’s.

This is what you should be looking for on existing moles:

A- asymmetrical (if you draw a line down the middle of the mole, the two halves don’t match.

B- border (is the border uneven, scalloped or textured)

C- color ( color is changing from brown to black, or black to red /white.)

D- diameter (is it getting larger?)

E- evolving (change in size, shape, color, elevation, itching, bleeding or crusting.)

F- firmness.

 

You can keep an eye on these things yourself. To perform a self exam grab a bright light, full length mirror, hand mirror, chair and a blow dryer.

 

-Start with your face and head using the mirror. Check your scalp by using a blow dryer to easily part your hair.

 

-Move down to you hands, arms and armpits.

 

-Use a mirror to focus on neck, chest and torso.

 

-Have a partner check your backside, or face away from a full length mirror and use a hand mirror to view behind you.

 

-Sit down and check your legs and feet.

 

Keep a log of any spots or new freckles. Note their color, size and location.

 

Congenital moles can go much deeper than what you see on the surface, sometimes requiring more intense surgery. It’s very important that changes in these moles are detected early and examined by a doctor. They may elect to map it (measure its size over a period of time) to document changes before intervention.

 

IMG_1840Skin checks can detect much more than moles, so they should be done on all members of your family (no matter the age.) We are currently watching a hemangioma on Anna. She was born with it, and it’s getting smaller but we continue to map it. She was also born with a mark around her eye that has lightened, then disappeared with time. Jacen and Arielle have been free of marks, but skin checks have revealed eczema and other conditions over the years. Nothing but good can come from examining and documenting!

 

I kept an eye on my husband’s mole for 7 years before he finally had his PCP take a look. It only took one visit with a dermatologist to decide it needed to come off, and I can only imagine what would have happened if we continued to wait. I’ve hated that thing since the first day I laid eyes on it, and I’m happy to see it go. Today we are celebrating mole removal day, and being thankful for the health and happiness of our family.

 

Stay vigilant, stay safe, stay healthy.

Kate and the Kids.

EMDR explanation

 

I’ve had a lot of family, friends and followers ask for more information on my EMDR therapy. I found this on Facebook today, and thought it perfectly summed up the practice.

I hope it clears some things up! I encourage anyone with PTSD to pursue this treatment, it has worked wonders for me.

Wishing you the best of luck,

Kate and the Kids.

The most relatable wedding vows I’ve ever heard.

img_1706Last night our little family attended my cousin’s wedding. The happy couple tailored their wedding to their unique style, and almost everything was unconventional. The one thing that really stood out to me were the vows they recited. They were unlike any I’d ever heard before, but something all of us live everyday.

I quote these loosely, as I was too emotional to remember them word for word.

“Will you anger, annoy, or frustrate your partner?”

“I may.”

“Is this your intent?”

“No.”

“Will you cause physical, emotional or mental pain to each other?”

“We may.”

“Is this your intent?”

“Absolutely not.”

img_1553I’ve heard a lot of sugary-sweet wedding vows. I’ve heard funny ones, I’ve heard very personal ones. These were by far the most honest, real, raw vows I had ever heard, and are something every relationship can relate to. I could say these words to anyone I love- my husband, sister, mother, even children. The ones we love most are often the ones who see us at our worst, but facing challenges with the best intentions will set us up for the most realistic version of success.

Of all times to hear these vows, they came at the tail end of our vacation. They came after a long road trip in a packed minivan, and cramming six people in one hotel room for four nights. After sharing one hotel with our extended family, and running into people we knew everywhere. Trust me, their words hit home. Family can be annoying, stressful and frustrating- but it isn’t our intent. At the end of all of it, we love each other immensely.img_1626

I will carry their words with me, and keep in mind that people make mistakes. Forgiveness is a huge part of every relationship. When you really love someone, you must try to be patient if they explode some intense feelings in moments of weakness, but trust that their intention is not to hurt you.

Their vows came to me at a time when I really needed this reminder. I hope they help you as much as they helped our family.

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the kids.

Lets talk quantum physics and health.

img_1512Vacationing in New Hampshire has gifted me a ton of down time to get reading. I feel like I never have time to sit down and focus, but I’ve plowed through a book per day since leaving home.

Yesterday I read about chakras. When I picked up the book, I had little to no understanding of what they were.

I have appreciation for holistic medicine and healing practices within reason, but I’m always searching for the scientific proof. Hearing that chakras dealt with energy, I assumed it was an intangible spiritual source. Once I cracked the book and started reading about chakras on a molecular level as based in quantum physics, I definitely had my interest peaked. I had a hard time putting the book down, and read it cover to cover while my kids swam in the hotel pool.

So, a quick overview: there are seven chakras that deal with energy in the body. Much like layers of tissue interconnect to make your physical body, layers of energy connect and flow too. Energy comes from the electrical impulses generated by the neurons in atoms. When energy in any given chakra is blocked from being part of the interconnected flow, physical and emotional repercussions occur.

I am in absolutely no way an expert on this- I picked up my first book yesterday and continued researching on the internet.

Of the seven, the solar plexus chakra really struck a chord with me. This chakra is located in your abdomen about two finger widths above your belly button. This chakra corresponds with self confidence and self worth. When this chakra is out of harmony, we feel driven to keep up appearances and strive for prestige to hide that we do not respect ourselves. Sometimes, even hate ourselves.

Physically this often manifests in stomach issues, eating disordered and fatigue. Emotionally it causes issues with self esteem, trust, responsibility for making decisions and sensitivity to criticism.

The chakra is often blocked by repressed anger and issues with control and power.

Reading through this chapter, every line caused aching in my stomach and chest. I struggled for so long with the inability to explain how I was feeling, feeling alone, dealing with the physical pain- everything. Everything hit me hard. I never knew others felt this way, let alone wrote books about it or practiced healing it on a global scale. It was the ease of being accepted, but also the heartbreak that these awful feeling effect more than just me.

One of my favorite things in the world is learning new words and phrases. In this case, I feel like I’ve gained a huge communication tool that will help me express and identify my feelings. As we know, acknowledging a problem is step one in fixing the issue.

I’m not capable of healing myself. I need the support of my family and friends, guidance from my therapist, supervision from my medical doctors, and tons of research on all of the options available to me.

Not very long ago, I had a friend who took his own life. I think about it everyday, and constantly wonder what could have been done differently. What if he had these words and phrases to communicate his feelings? What if he had support, the right kind of help, knowledge, hope? I’ve been in really dark, really low places. I’ve had the thought that people would be better off without me. I’m not putting up with those thoughts anymore. I’ve seen the hurt suicide causes as a ripple effect, and I would do anything to prevent my children from feeling that kind of hurt.

My family keeps me driven to succeed, to be healthy. I want the best for them, and I’m really starting to believe that their best life includes having me in it. I want to have a healthy body, to play and be active with them. I want to have a healthy mind where I can process issues in an effective and productive way in order to provide for them. I want to be spiritually healthy, where I can spread positivity and bring my children joy in mindful moments.

These desires are what really drove my interest in researching chakras. Since all energy is connected, each healthy goal depends on the success of the others. Health is work, health is actively making better decisions, health is being educated.

I’m spending some time working on my solar plexus chakra. I’ve researched, and feel that a good starting place to unblock this chakra would be meditating, using self love affirmations, focusing on healthy eating instead of binge/restriction cycling, and being more active in decision making. (I often let my husband take the wheel in family decisions, but it’s time to be involved and empowered.)img_1541

This is just a start, there’s so much more to improve on. Success is about small steps every day. I challenge you to learn one new thing today, whether its researching an interest online or picking up a book. If you’re at a loss, look up the 7 chakras- see which ones speak to you.

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the kids.

Sixty to eighty thousand.

Humans have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day. For a long time, most of my thoughts were self degrading, negative, terrible things. Learning to change those thoughts is a very long, very work intensive process, but it’s the key to living a whole-healthy life.

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Buddhists have a phrase they use- “second arrow.” It basically means that when a person makes a mistake, it’s bad enough. When they continue beating themselves up for it, they lodge a second arrow into their heart. Living with a brain of negativity made my heart more of a pin cushion filled with millions of arrows.

EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) has helped me release a lot of the hostility I held for myself, but new insecurities pop up daily. One hour of weekly EMDR with my therapist can not undo years of hurt plus the daily bad thoughts. img_1481

This week I’m on vacation with my family, and I’m determined not to let my arrows bring down my time with my family. We are making so many amazing memories, we’ve had so many laughs. I’m not letting this time be tainted by my own negativity.

My initial reaction while on vacation is to think about “what will our pictures look like?” I attempt to micromanage what my children wear, how they act, where we go, and of course my own appearance. It puts so much stress on everyone, and results in volatile emotional breakdowns when things don’t meet my expectations . This is the first trip we’ve taken since being diagnosed officially with OCD. After being diagnosed, I was able to get the correct treatment and medication, and spend a whole lot of time trying to control my symptoms with EMDR. We are at the end of day 2 of vacation, and there have been zero fights, zero tears. I feel like I finally have a handle on those negative thoughts.

img_1485I preach a lot about mindfulness, which to some sounds like a hippy dippy yoga term. I used to think the same way. Getting educated on what mindfulness actually is has changed my mind completely.

Today we took the kids sledding. In the past my thought cloud would have been consumed about the way we looked, making sure everyone was smiling, being preoccupied about good pictures, being uptight and uncomfortable. Today I was able to focus on just what I was doing- sledding. Minute by minute I thought only about the moment I was in. I didn’t think about the future pictures, I didn’t think about my insecurities from the past. I took photos as they happened instead of forcing them. I was part of the family, not an outsider watching them have fun. It was the best vacation day we’ve had in years.img_1469

We have been forced into a time where multi tasking is expected to be a necessity. I specifically remember in high school, being told we would need to be able to seamlessly do multiple tasks to be successful. Most job postings even list multitasking as a position requirement. In our “down time” we are usually watching tv and scrolling our phone. Multitasking has taken over, and has trained our brains to take on too much at once. It paves the way for multiple thought tunnels, and we feel the need to fill all the tunnels at once. This makes mindfulness incredibly difficult.

img_1500I tend to picture this as the train map at the T-station. We’ve been trained to put a thought on every track of the map. Soon we realize the trains we have put on are our anxieties, sadness, insecurities and negativities. We are multitasking our thoughts. Mindfulness is focusing on just one line. Sledding was my redline today. Staying on one track brought me to happiness. In the past I would have tried to process all the lines at once, getting overwhelmed and confused. Staying on one line, keeping my mind zeroed in on one thing- that’s mindfulness. It’s appreciation for the moment we are in, and the effort of enjoying it to the fullest.

The more I practice mindfulness, the more I notice the positivity in my life. Focusing on our activity today put my body issues and depression on the back burner. I spent more time being happy than being hit with second arrows.

We only get 60-80 thousand thoughts in a day. Let’s work on making more of them happy thoughts!

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

Dealing with Shame Boomerangs

Have you ever tried to push a bad thought out of your mind, but it just kept coming back? How about being anxious about something in the future, but even when you tell yourself ‘I’ll deal with it later,’ the thought pops right back into your brain? Sometimes negativity and unprocessed feelings result in a shame boomerang; no matter how far you throw them away, they just keep coming back.

 

I’ve dealt with shame boomerangs for my whole life. I would try to forget about mean things people said about my weight, but they bounced right back into my mind time and time again. I wanted to repress the times I embarrassed myself, or was deathly socially awkward- but the memories kept flying right back at me, slapping me in the face.

 

I’ve made a lot of process with my past using EMDR. I find the more work I do reprocessing old trauma, the amount of painful flashbacks decreases.

 

That doesn’t stop current day boomerangs.

 

I deal with a lot of stay at home mom guilt. Every single day I feel bad that the house isn’t clean enough, but I also feel bad when the baby spends too much time in her pack and play while I clean. With only my husband bringing in income, I second guess every purchase- even food and household necessities. I spend the whole drive back from the grocery store beating myself up over how much I just spent. There’s also a huge misconception that because I stay home with Anna, I have a ton of time on my hands. At first people were very supportive of my weight loss, now they want to know why I don’t spend my whole day working out since “I’m just at home all day anyways.”

 

These thoughts, this shame- it doesn’t just hurt when I experience it initially. My boomerangs come back all day long, sometimes for weeks at a time.. And there are new boomerangs added daily.

 

In order to avoid feeling like a boomerang juggler, I’m finding that I need to process and resolve the shame as soon as I can. Don’t put off for later what you can process right now. Spending time with Anna/ putting her in the play pen and our financial woes are themes that aren’t going away anytime soon, but I can still process the small events. When I leave the grocery store, I have to accept that the financial decisions I made were necessary, and my worrying will never bring the price of milk down. Sometime money just has to be spent. I also have the ability to make daily choices regarding my time balance with Anna, the trick is to make a smart decision and stand by it.

 

Shame boomerangs are solved by being more confident in your initial decisions, processing negativity as it appears, and taking care of things in a timely fashion. Don’t let yourself be buried by all the things you put off dealing with.. They’ll always come back to haunt you. Face it now, be strong today, take steps to make it a better tomorrow.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

Let’s be honest, It’s not always pretty and happy- But It’s never too late to turn it around.

I spent yesterday with my sister and her husband. At one point she asked me how I was doing. I told her I was doing fine, laughed and asked her how SHE was doing. I didn’t get it at first. She gave me this “try again” look, and asked me again; How are you doing?

 

When she explained her concern, she cited that I hadn’t been blogging enough. She knows when I have good days because I want to share my positive energy and lift others. It’s the times where I go radio silent that she worries. The truth is, I “blog” every day, but most of my rough drafts don’t make it to the internet. Unless my writing has the ability to make a positive impact or help others, I don’t want to share it.

 

I’ve found that most of my writing this week has not been helpful for others, but it is helpful for me to write my feelings down. I’ve needed to vent, but I don’t need to do it on a public forum. Things have been crazy for us lately. The kids have been sick, I’m disappointed in a friend, hurt by a family member, and always stressing out about keeping our family organized. Knowing these are the events I’m going through won’t help you, but I hope the way I’m coping with them will.

 

The first thing that I had to learn this week is that when people in your life make bad decisions, it isn’t your fault. It isn’t your child’s fault, nor your spouse. It is that one person who made the decision’s fault. It’s normal to be angry, disappointed, and sad- but it’s not okay to take those feelings out on the people you are close to. I found myself in a moment of irritability and snapped at my son. I immediately realized that I’d misdirected my anger. I changed my tone, apologized, and we continued our conversation without issue. It is not his fault I’m on edge, and he doesn’t deserve to absorb my bad energy.

 

IMG_4735.jpgThe second lesson I had to learn to live was the age old “accept the things you can not change.” My son has a chronic illness. We manage his symptoms, but the days can be trying. There is no use in stressing and obsessing over it. We take him to see his specialists, we follow his treatment plan. Losing sleep over my frustrations doesn’t help anyone. It also applies to the relationships of my friends and family. It breaks my heart to see people be malicious to each other. It hurts to see them end their friendships and marriages, but there is nothing I can do to stop their choices. I just have to be supportive when they need help getting through the process.

 

 

IMG_5055Finally, I learned to practice what I preach. I let my goals go this week by trying to keep the other people in my life together. I’m stressing out about getting the kids packed for our trip this week, I’m trying to be accomodating to my husband’s short term overnight work schedule, I’m focusing on spoiling my niece who will be arriving next month, I’m worrying about the strongest person in my life- who happens to currently be going through absolute hell. I missed a few workouts, I ate some things that made me sick. I didn’t take time to breathe. I’m not sleeping. I KNOW what I need to do, but it’s much easier said than done.

 

It’s a new week, and a new day. I can recognize my own problems, so I need to take the initiative to do better. Going forward I’m letting go of other people’s problems. I’m putting myself back at the top of my priority list. I’m accepting that I can not control others. I’m going to be that bad ass mother that I know I can be, and totally run my shit. I’m taking my life back this week, and I’m not planning on dropping the reins again anytime soon.

 

What are you doing different this week? Where can you take the control back? Where can you let go of negativity?

 

Wishing you strength, empowerment and positivity.

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

Teaching My Family Self-Care

 

 

We talk a lot about self-care in my home. I fully believe that everyone needs time to recharge, including my husband, children- even my pets.

 

This morning my son had a rough start to the day. Jacen is always incredibly well behaved, I can count the number of times he’s been in actual trouble on one hand.. Not bad for an eight year old, but today was one of those days.

 

I set a rule yesterday and Jacen broke it this morning. He got himself into a spiral of anger and bad decisions. This situation called for duel treatment- punishment for past decisions, and encouraging self-care to stop future bad decisions.

 

Self-care is incredibly important for children. They are learning new things about their bodies and emotions every day, so time to reflect on those things can be extremely beneficial. They’re also very scheduled during the school day, often putting their own desires or interests on the back burner during class time. Self-care time is an opportunity to say “you know earlier I wanted to build my lego set, but I had school. It would make me happy to do that now.”

 

My eight year old son isn’t going to pop on a $20 face mask and pour a glass of wine. Sometimes self-care has to extend further than a Facebook Meme. Jacen likes to read, take naps, and do science experiments. Arielle prefers to draw, listen to music and go outside. Every child is different, but it’s a great opportunity to let THEM take the reins. I learn a lot about my kids when I stop directing them to activities, and let them ask for things instead. Even my one year old needs some time to run freely and explore between her scheduled meals and naps. Self-care is all about taking a few moments for yourself. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. It certainly doesn’t have to be an expensive facial.

 

Tonight Jacen is coloring cat mandalas. These coloring books are intentionally indicate to induce mindfulness. I can already see a change in his body language. He is certainly upset that his tablet has been taken away, but without his self-care time the anger of his punishment would have snowballed his bad attitude even further. Watching him color on the floor, I notice that his breathing is calm and steady, not angry and fast. The color in his face has returned to normal instead of his frustrated red. His hands hold the pencil gently instead of being clenched in rage. His body is already reflecting the change after just 30 minutes of downtime.

 

Taking time for ourselves isn’t limited to times of high emotions. In fact, getting in a self-care routine reduces stress, anger, and anxiety as a preventative measure. I’ve made the change of taking a few moments to myself everyday. Sometimes that means letting Anna cry it out in the pack and play while I take a shower. She’s in a safe place, it’s okay to take a break. It usually includes blogging, although not all of my first-draft rants make it to the internet. I just like being able to ink my feelings, so I can get them out of my chest. My husband likes to drive, scroll Reddit and tinker with fixing things for his self-care time. My mom drinks her tea in the morning while she reads the newspaper. My sister snuggles her labradoodles. There are limitless options, and something for everyone.

 

There is no age restriction for self-care time. Everyone needs it, and I’m seeing a positive change in our family dynamic as we each start to take time for ourselves regularly. I encourage you to try it out in your home. Let me know in the comments what you like to do for your self-care time!

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

Getting Back to the Basics of Weight Loss.

I recently shared that I’d gained some of my weight back while taking Seroquel. In total, it ended up being 12 pounds in about six weeks. I was willing to put up with the weight gain (to some degree) in exchange for the benefits it was providing in my sleep and mania. Unfortunately, other side effects surfaced. I have now stopped taking the medication, and I’m determined to lose my 12 pounds again, plus the remaining 20 to my ultimate goal.

141pounds down, 32 to go. (That’s hard to hear after being able to say I’d lost over 150 pounds for so long!)

I’ve been back to the basics of weight loss- tracking my nutrition and getting active. After 20+ years of failed dieting, I discovered I have the most success when tracking calories, sugar, protein and water intake.

Prior to starting Seroquel, I had maintained my weight of 150 pounds for six months. During that time I was in a routine of eating about the same every day, so I stopped tracking. Now that I am in “lose” mode again, it’s important to know what’s going in to my body.

I have a target calorie range set by my nutritionist. I don’t share my target because this number was calculated by my current weight, goal weight, height, age, and medical history; so everyone’s target is slightly different. Going over the range will obviously be too many calories to lose weight, but being under can put your body into starvation mode and halt your progress too.

I also have to be careful about protein. It’s important to get enough to keep my muscles strong and my body functioning during weight loss, but too much protein can make you gain weight. This is my new downfall. As part of my new healthy lifestyle, I always think of protein first, then sugar, then calories. If I’m not tracking I choose protein dense food all day and get frustrated when the weight doesn’t come off. Tracking reminds me to keep my protein in check, and to obtain some of my calories from high fiber food. It’s all about moderation.

I added a punching bag to my home gym this week, thanks to some birthday cash. Where I cancelled my membership at the YMCA, having new equipment keeps things exciting at home. When I get bored, I tend to skip workouts. Let’s avoid that.

My Apple Watch tracks my activity for me. My daily fitness goal is just to close all three rings. (Workout of 30 minutes or more, burn 570 calories, stand for 12 hours.)

Keeping my fitness goal simple has been the key to my success postpartum. Before getting pregnant with Anna I had all kinds of crazy schedules and lists of routines. It’s just not realistic with a 16 month old at home. Simple goals make it easy to be flexible and take advantage of spur of the moment activities. For example, on Fridays my mom watches the baby so I can attend my appointments in peace. If I have time between appointments, I like to walk the industrial park. I’ve also power walked the mall with Anna in the stroller and gotten cardio in on empty staircases. It doesn’t matter how you get active, just that you do. I take my workouts when and where I can get them, so it’s nice that the watch can track anything.

I’ve fallen for a lot of fad diets, supplements, and shortcuts. They all fail. There’s no way around it- long term success is based on calculating food in and activity out. If you’re struggling, try getting back to the basics with me! I’d love to add some Apple Watch friends, and to hear about your progress!

Wishing you luck and simplicity.

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the kids.

Why Instagram is killing my Mental Health Progress

 

I’ve recently decided to go dark on Instagram, and debating deleting my account all together. I can’t stop comparing myself to other people, and it’s messing with my head.

 

IMG_0912For the last couple of years I’ve really loved Instagram. With 18,000 followers I had the hope of being sponsored and getting paid while staying home with the kids. That opportunity is incredibly rare, and although it’s hard to give up the dream, it’s necessary.

 

 

IMG_0917I have some serious goals for myself, and they all boil down to being a healthier person. I had the best intentions when I started following fitness accounts, but now 99% of my feed is made up of Instagram models with bodies that are unattainable to me. No matter how much weight I lose, I’m not going to grow a pair of voluptuous boobs overnight. The extra skin on my stomach will not magically disappear, my nose will not change shape, and my bank account won’t allow for daily smoothie bowls (let alone tropical vacations in my bikini.) And yet, there I sat scrolling through a billion pictures of perfect women and asking myself ‘why not me?’

 

IMG_0916Here’s the honest truth, a whole lot of work goes into those perfect pictures. Most of it isn’t real, and most of it is actually taking place in a stressful moment of trying to work the best angle, and yelling at your boyfriend for taking such horrible pictures. I was spending too much of my precious time comparing myself to people who I would never become.

 

 

I found myself in a dark spiral, losing my self confidence, worth, and appreciation for the things I DID have. That’s not the kind of person I want to be. That’s not the example I want to set for my family.

 

IMG_0865In reality, the grass is NOT greener. They used a filter. Things here are pretty amazing. My mind and body feel the best they ever have. I’ve been blessed with an incredible family, and we have a really good life together. Instagram was taking away from that- and that’s not okay.

 

I’m not sure yet if I need a break for Instagram, or to leave it entirely. Just like in a relationship with a person, there has to be a line between a small problem and toxic. Some things can’t be altered just because you want them to work, and being a healthy person means walking away when you need to.

 

Today, take a look at the honest and raw things in your life that are absolutely beautiful. Maybe it’s a person, a feeling, a characteristic of yourself. Appreciate it without comparison. Be gracious for the life you live, even if you are working towards a better life. Take a look at what’s dragging you down, and remove the toxic things from your life. You have the ability to put yourself in the best environment for your health. What changes can you make today?

nofilter

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

My First Bikram Yoga Class!

For my birthday this year, I treated myself to my very first Bikram yoga class. I’m so excited to share my experience with you, and I encourage you all to try a class yourself!

I attended class at Bikram Yoga in Falmouth, Ma. If you’re local, please check out their website! https://bikramyogafalmouth.com/ 

IMG_0728Bikram yoga is a hot class, and every session is made up of the same 26 poses. If you’re interested in taking a class but nervous, YouTube some bikram classes online and learn the poses. I wanted to take this class for so many reasons, and it’s been on my bucket list for quite some time. Hot yoga is great for your muscles, stretching in the heat really loosens things up. These classes also incinerate calories, yet are still low-impact. Finally, I wanted to do something for myself that was new, and a little scary. As I work on my mental health, I find I am able to do more things on my own and try new things without a support person accompanying me. It was important for me to do this on my own, to prove to myself that I can handle my own nerves in intimidating situations.

 

It was 1000000% worth it.

 

I was pretty anxious about the class, so I called ahead to see if I needed to reserve a spot ahead of time. At this point, I was still unsure and ready to back out at any moment. When the owner of the studio called me back, she was so kind! She left me a very sweet voicemail, welcoming me to the class and suggesting I bring a towel, mat and a lot of water. Listening to her message made me feel more comfortable, and cemented the fact that I was going.

all in together

 

I think she could tell I was a little nervous when I first walked in. She welcomed me right away, and gave me a quick overview of the studio. As I stood at the counter signing my waiver and paying, other participants of the class made their way in. They were all so friendly, and started stripping off their coats and boots (it was 5 degrees on my birthday.) To my surprise, they kept stripping. Off went the sweatshirts, the long pants, the t-shirts.. Almost everything. Lots of bodies in sports bras, and men in teenie weenie shorts. I quickly became aware that you did not have to currently have an ideal body to participate in this class, and it made me feel so much more comfortable. I elected to keep my long yoga pants on, and my t-shirt.

 

When class kicked off, the heat really kicked in. It felt so good compared to the frigid temps outside, and my body was more relaxed and flexible than ever. It only took a few minutes to figure out why my classmates were so scantily clad. I was sweating everywhere, and we had barely started. I mean lots and lots of dripping sweat, from everywhere- even obscure places like my forearms and shins. I don’t think I’ve ever sweat there before.

 

This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but I spent 28 years hiding my upper arms. At my biggest, they were bigger than most calves, and so embarrassing. When I lost my weight, they turned into huge bat wings. Without sleeves, I look like a flying squirrel. And yet, there I was in a room of imperfect bodies, sweating my ass off. I didn’t give it another thought, I took my t-shirt off, bare arms and all. No one noticed my bat wings. No one was looking at anything other than their own reflections as we stretched. I finished my class in my camisole, and I was still so hot.

 

Walking out of that studio I felt so relaxed, so productive, so healthy, so proud.. So EMPOWERED. The physical aspect of the class made my body feel relaxed and healthy. The pace and tone of the class relaxed my mind. Overcoming my fear of new places had me feeling confident. Taking this yoga class organically provided so many feelings I’ve chased (improperly) for many years. I’ve spent  too long being ashamed of my body, feeling like I had to cover it up with fancy clothes and a pound of makeup to feel beautiful- especially on my birthday. Now, I can tell you that it feels much better to love yourself the way you are. Every body has flaws, even when we try to hide them. Instead of focusing on the bad, or trying to hide it, let’s focus on the good. Let’s celebrate what our bodies can do by getting active. I felt more beautiful being myself- sans makeup, sweaty and half naked in a room full of strangers than I’ve ever felt all done-up at a bar.

 

Don’t be afraid of yoga classes. Don’t be afraid of being a beginner. Everybody has a first day, everyone has to start somewhere. Why not start today?

 

Yoga or not, I encourage you to love yourself the way you are. Celebrate what you CAN do instead of being upset about what you can’t. Baby steps will still get you to the top of a mountain, even if it takes a little longer.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

bikram

I planned my perfect birthday, and here’s what happened.

 

In past years, I’ve always gone out of my way to feel beautiful on my birthday. I’d slather on the makeup, sky high eyelashes and painful heels. I’d round up my friends and head to a club. We’d drink too much, spend money we didn’t have and feel disgusting in the morning.

 

 

That didn’t sound too appealing to me this year, maybe I’m just getting too old.

 

1c8d5ec78bbe186d739ed95cf049660c--chris-hemsworth-body-chris-hemsworth-shirtlessInstead, I wrote out what my perfect day would be like. No wrong answers, everything that I’d want. Next I crossed off things that were out of the realm of possibility; Chris Hemsworth delivering my breakfast in bed, (shirtless, of course) waking up in a tropical resort with a flat stomach and golden tan, or going outside to snuggle with my new alpaca. None of those were going to happen, but I did have a few remaining wishes.

 

 

The first realistic thing I really wanted to do was take a hot yoga class. Next, I’d head to my favorite juice bar for lunch. Most excitingly, I’d get to relax in a Himalayan Salt Cave. Finally, I’d end the day with pedicures and dinner with my friends.

 

No alcohol, no sugary dessert, no things. Just relaxation and a bunch of great memories.

 

At the end of the day, I’d had so many great experiences. All of these things STILL cost less than a night at the club. My body felt healthy, my anxiety was reduced, and I woke up the next morning feeling BETTER than the day before (instead of hung over.)

 

I’m so excited to share my individual experiences with you! One day fueled a whole lot of blog-brainstorming. They were all so awesome that I couldn’t fit all of my words into one post. I think it’s better this way- these were all such cool experiences that I’d rather give them each their time to shine, and hopefully encourage you guys to try them too!

 

IMG_0726What really made my birthday special this year was who I shared it with. Dinner with my biggest supporters and closest friends was such a comforting close to my day, but that wasn’t who I spent my daytime hours with. I spent my whole day, all of these experiences, by myself..  by choice! This was huge deal for me, as I usually am too scared to try new things alone. I almost always bring a support person with me everywhere I go. After working on myself for about a year, I’m finally able to do things on my own. I spent the whole day with myself, working on myself- and it was amazing. There was a lot of time for meditation, and all of my choices were directed at making myself a healthier person. I spent the day with me, and realized I’m a pretty great person these days. I no longer have to fear being alone with my thoughts. I no longer require another person to hold my hand so I can make it through the day. I’m good just being me, and that’s the greatest gift I could have asked for.

 

With healthy hearts (and excitement for posts to come,)

Kate and the Kids.

Family, Insults and Toothpaste.

img_0691Our family has been binge watching “We Bare Bears” this week. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s an adorable show by Cartoon Network, and episodes are available on both Netflix and Hulu. The bears always refer to each other as brothers, even though they are different breeds.

 

 

img_0690In the episode we watched tonight, Ice Bear was hit in the head and started acting differently. In a moment of anger he tells the other bears they are not brothers, citing that they are three different types of bears.

 

 

Jacen turned away from the TV with hurt eyes and said, “that just made me so sad. I can feel it in my chest. They’re still brothers!” I agree with Jacen 100%. That one line cuts all blended families mighty deep. If one obscure line in a cartoon can create such sadness in a little boy, think about how much it aches when he hears that Arielle and Anna are not his “real sisters.”

img_0659It was one line, and we moved past it. We continued with the show and our night. It still lingers in my mind though. It makes me remember the times when Arielle was young, and repeating things like a parrot. She hurt us more than once by saying we weren’t “really” family, and that’s coming from one of our own.

 

It wasn’t her fault. She was about four and very confused. She had a lot of people coming in and out of her life at the time, and she didn’t understand the weight that her choice of words carried. She was just repeating words and phrases that she’s heard about us when she was with her other parent. She may have said it to be a little mean or defiant, but it hit much harder, and broke a lot of hearts.

 

img_0541As with most things, it got better with time. As Arielle has gotten older, she’s been able to form her own opinions, which includes that we are, in fact, family. No elaboration needed.

 

It’s hard to forget when hurtful things are said. I’ve been on the receiving end, and I’ve also handed out my fair share of low-blows. I can immediately recall my teenage years where I broke my mother’s heart on a daily basis, or even two years ago when I was an uncontrolled bipolar ripping my sister’s head off. I can’t take those things back, as much as I wish I could.

 

I once heard a comparison between mean words and toothpaste that really stuck with me. Picture just a tube of toothpaste. Now, imagine squeezing it out- all of it. The whole tube. It’s probably pretty easy to get it out, and happened quickly. But here’s the hard part: now put the toothpaste back into the tube. I bet you can’t. Even if you try, there’s going to be a huge mess left behind, and you’ll never scrape all that toothpaste off the counter. That’s just like mean words. They come quick, they fly out easy but they’re impossible to get back in the tube. The wounds will heal, but the scars never completely go away. You can’t ever take them back completely.

 

I encourage you to chose your words wisely today. Especially with family, whom more often than not are the ones we take our stress out on. Remember that words are toothpaste, and they don’t go back in the tube.

 

Be kind, be accepting, be understanding.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.