Post- Easter Sugar Detox

Confession time- I’m detoxing from sugar again. There’s a big difference between a lifestyle change and a diet. A diet has an expiration date, an ending. Some kind of time limit or numerical pound goal. A lifestyle change is forever, which includes holidays for the rest of your life.

I am proud to say that I (most importantly) had a great Easter and school vacation week with the kids. It was only the second holiday in seven years that did not include a fight or emotional breakdown. I even mingled with my in-laws without a panic attack. All good things.

The other thing that I’m very proud of is my ability to refrain from binging. My previous “all or nothing” mentality would have set me off for the whole day, not being able to stop the sweets after dessert. In private, I would have consumed a bucket of Easter candy, emptied the fridge, maybe even stopped to load up on fast food on the way home. I would justify this behavior as a “cheat day” that I should live up before getting back on the diet tomorrow. No more of that.

Something I would like to get better at is being able to eat mindfully at family gatherings. Mindful eating at home has changed my life, and has empowered me to control my portions without going hungry. I still struggle with this at holidays. My social anxiety prevents me from ever reaching my baseline calm, and prohibits me from being mindful. I can’t focus on my food because I still hold that cloud of self awareness, self consciousness and defensive thoughts. Most of the time I’m actually just trying to hold my plate without dropping it, or getting the fork in my mouth. (When my anxiety is at its worst, I dissociate and have poor depth perception. I can’t control my hands, and often embarrass myself.) I noticed this Easter that I cleaned my dessert plate for the first time in years. I really feel that if I had be able to focus, I would have felt satisfied sooner and ate a smaller portion.

It’s done, it’s over with. It’s a new day.

My sugar goal is always less than 21grams per day, and no more than 6grams at once. Since most food has naturally occurring sugar, it’s impossible to meet these goals while consuming refined sugar. My diet is usually made up of protein and fibrous vegetables- although I do love my fruit. One banana can mess up my whole day, so I have to pay close attention to the choices I make, and the portions.

I’m mentally okay with my sugary decisions over the holiday. I knew when I ate them that I would need to detox eventually, and that I’d probably be sick for a few days. I still wanted to enjoy myself, and that’s allowed. As long as I do not allow myself to be completely derailed for long periods of time, things are acceptable in moderation.

It’s not required, but I like to start my detox on full liquids. There’s a huge misconception that this means you’ll go hungry, but it’s not the case. Obviously liquids include water, broth and sugar free drinks. It also allows sugar free jellos and puddings. Most importantly, it includes high protein liquids- creamed soups, protein shakes and low sugar Greek yogurt (check your labels! Some yogurt has a ton of sugar.) If I’m really hungry, a sugar free chocolate pudding and a scoop of natural peanut butter really hits the spot! It’s one day, and it’s worth it.

Starting a detox on a liquid diet will lessen the impact of sugar withdrawal. The biggest complaints of “Keto flu” or sugar detox are headaches, mild nausea and sweating. Staying hydrated will make each of these symptoms less painful, and prepare your body for the most success.

The next few days, (usually day 2-4 depending on my body cues)  I transition to easily digestible proteins- soft foods, fish, and nut butters. These items are easy on your stomach if you’re experiencing flu symptoms, low in sugar, and will satisfy hunger with their high protein count.

By day 5 my body can usually handle the full keto diet, even tough meat like steak or dry protein like chicken. I’m back on track, and feeling great!

Exercise really helps move the sugar along. Activity will get your circulation going, moving those cells that have stored glucose. Sweat removes toxins and sugar from the body, and staying busy lifts your mood, re enforcing positivity and increasing your chances of success.

Today is a new day. This moment is a new minute. Forgive the choices you’ve made in the past, but don’t forget them. Learn from them. I’m starting my sugar detox today. Who’s with me?

Apples and Oranges

More than once I’ve said the phrase, “my parents didn’t give me a sister, so God did.” Just like that, my best friend became family. The rest is well- known history. I’ve always been so thankful for our relationship. Most days I wish she really was my sister; that we’d had each other since birth. Other days I trust that ‘everything happens for a reason,’ and this is exactly how it was meant to be.

One day a group of our friends were laughing about how differently a pair of biological sisters looked in our school. One was really, really attractive. The other.. Had a great personality? We quietly laughed along with them, but as the group dispersed my sister said, “maybe it’s good I didn’t have a biological sister. I would have died if someone told me I was the ugly one.” (Trust me, she wouldn’t be. She’s gorgeous.) Those words never left my brain. At first it was a bit of disappointment that something could take away from our desire to be actual sisters. Eventually it became fear. As I grew to raise my own children I always wondered how they would feel about each other. I never want any of my children to feel like ‘the ugly one.’ I carried a lot of anxiety into parenthood. You can’t control what others will say about your children, so how do you prepare them for the future comparisons?

It took approximately 32 hours into my niece’s life for someone to compare her to my kid. I wouldn’t have ever been hurt by the typical “she’s the most beautiful newborn ever” comment until this girl stopped to specify that “Jacen looked like a grumpy old man” and “Anna was sick.” Yep, now I understand that ugly sibling comment.

I feel the same way when people compare Jacen and Arielle in their intellectual and physical development. He’s a much stronger reader, she’s more athletic. They’re definitely cut from two different types of cloth. When others compare my kids to their face, it might make the stronger kid feel special for a moment or two. After that conversation ends, they end up dwelling on the area where they fell short. They feel inadequate, and those feelings last much longer than one fleeting moment.

My absolute BIGGEST problem is the comparison in metabolism. All three of my kids are built differently, and it’s never okay for someone to point out their body type. The only people who should care about a child’s weight are their doctors, their parents, and themselves.

Rebuilding a hurt child is so much more difficult than preventing damage in the first place. I can only do so much to reverse mean words. Bullying is usually associated with peers at school, but some of the most hurt comes from backhanded comments by adults. It ends up causing resentment between siblings, and turmoil at home.

The comparisons and competition are starting to take a toll on my children. They ask a lot of questions, and I see self confidence issues building. I’ve recently adopted that old algebra term, apples and oranges.

If your compliment builds one person up, and puts someone else down, rethink it. Children should be incomparable, and be able to focus on being their own, personal- best selves. As adults, we need to support those individualities. Each child is unique and different. They all have strengths and weaknesses, and they’re all working on getting better in some area. They’re apples and oranges.

The last thing I want to deal with at home are ‘Marcia and Jan’ complexes. Jacen and Arielle compete enough in social milestones, games, and sports. They don’t need to compete in personal characteristics. Comparative compliments only result in bitterness, and they drive siblings apart.

Let kids be kids. Let them grow and develop on their own. Let them forge healthy relationships where they can celebrate differences instead of competing or conforming. Choose your words wisely, and focus on supporting each child individually. The hurt will linger, and it isn’t healthy. Just be kind.

Kate and the Kids.

Building a Mountain with Individual Grains of Sand

560536279.984385I write every day, even though most of it doesn’t make it to the blog. It’s something I do as part of my self- care routine, and I’ve seen a major change in my mental health since starting. My writing prompt for today was “someone who inspires you.” This is a perfect example of a topic that normally would be kept to myself, since it isn’t directly relevant to wellness. The more I thought about this person, the more I realized how important it was to share my feelings about her. Something that first appeared as irrelevant began to fall into place, and quickly picked up momentum and importance. I now know that this topic is everything in wellness. This person took care of me when I was sick, tried to raise me nutritionally sound, and has always supported my emotional health. This person, of course, is my mom.

 

 

 

560535737.678986My mom is 59 years old, and for most of that time people have taken her for granted. They assume she is easily capable of much more than she has, but she is constantly pushing herself to the limit to meet and exceed their expectations. From the outside, maybe it looks like she has it easy. If it does, it’s because of her poise and grace. In fact, she has not had an easy life. Maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s just an undying need to take care of others, but this woman often shorts herself to keep others happy.

 

 

 

My mom is one of six siblings, and was born right in the middle. Even as a kid she had a ton of responsibilities, and carried more stress than a child should. She was a Navy BRAT, and moved all around the country several times. Living on just my grandfather’s income, the family of eight had a tight budget. These things aren’t ideal, but they shaped her.

 

 

 

560535576.646327When I was very young, I had a group of extended family members living under one roof. I don’t remember exactly if someone asked her for help or if she did it on her own, but there was an issue feeding everyone in the house that night. Without a second thought, she grabbed the keys and we headed to the grocery store. She didn’t have as much in her wallet as people expected, but she was smart. When we first walked into that store she didn’t know how she was going to pull it off. I remember brainstorming some options; pasta was super cheap. Hotdogs, mac and cheese, canned raviolis. She knew there was no nutritional value to these things. How could she get the most for her money, and feel good about what she was serving? All of a sudden, her expression shifted from stressed to inspired. I could practically see the cartoon light bulb go off next to her head. She picked up a bunch of eggs, cheese, bread, milk and butter. These five staples stretched far for her money, and gave the kids a pretty wide range of options. She got to the house ready to whip up scrambled eggs, french toast or even grilled cheese. At least there was a little protein and calcium there. When we left, she was happy. She had helped, and she could relax knowing her family was fed. I know that we went home to a house with food on the table that night. We had heat, electricity and a stable place to live- but these things don’t come easy, and she worked for every dime she put into keeping us afloat.

 

 

 

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Those dimes slowly but surely added up, but it was like working for individual grains of sand to make a mountain. It wasn’t just money either, my mom had dreams that were always so difficult to obtain. She always kept pushing until she reached some version of what she desired.

 

 

 

 

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My mom wanted a baby, badly. She watched others become teenage parents and bring children into the world without trying. She wondered why these babies came so easily for people who were unprepared, but she had her ducks in a row and it still just wouldn’t happen. She’d worked hard for a stable life- so why couldn’t she have this one thing that she really wanted? It weighed heavy on her emotional health. After a very long wait and loss, she tried IVF. She was told her procedure had failed, and she mourned another cycle wasted. Surprise! Finally, something had gone in her favor. She was pregnant with me, and she was elated. While others were gifted children easily (and for free) my mom stretched herself to the limit to get what she wanted. It took more time, more work, and in 1989 IVF was not cheap – but she made it happen. Finally, a grain of sand!

 

 

 

560477721.746285When I was really young we lived in a teeny, tiny house in a crowded neighborhood. We had a sex offender living just a few houses down, and once again my mom felt shorted. She’d worked hard saving for her home. She moved in with certain expectations, then realized the flaws. The houses were so close together that we heard the neighbors across the street fighting daily. There wasn’t much space in the home, so she turned the dining room into a nursery for me. She always said it was the size of the house that made her want to move, but I don’t think she ever slept easy with a pedophile living in the neighborhood. She set herself a new goal, and started dreaming of raising me in her ideal home.

 

 

 

560535522.846620I’m not sure my parents ever saw each other in my younger years. Every memory I have was either with my mom during the day, or my dad at night. My mom put herself through community college for nursing, raised me, and worked overnights to support us. My dad worked days, and spent the evenings with me. I never really noticed my mom being stressed or tired. It wasn’t until I grew up and became a parent myself that I started to realize what she went though. Those days were long and stressful, but she never let me see it. She always had time for me, always seemed happy, and always put out this image of having her shit together.

 

 

 

Through all the rough cards she was dealt, she basically faced them alone. I only remember meeting one friend of hers, and they grew apart after having kids. She didn’t let her guard down often with her family, and didn’t see much of my father due to their work schedules. She sucked it up, and usually internalized it.

 

Eventually she finished school, and started to conquer her ambition of finding the perfect home. We put our house on the market, and mentally prepared ourselves for a better situation. Naturally, nothing went smoothly. The stress and time demand only increased as I started dance lessons, ice skating and school. The house had to be kept spotless at all times in case the realtor stopped by with an interested buyer. That tiny little plate became more and more full, and I don’t know when she ever found time to sleep.

 

The house went on and off the market for what seemed like forever. We tried a few home renovations to make it seem more appealing, and just kept saving for when our opportune home did finally come to us. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my play dough, and my mom sat next to me filling a binder with magazine clippings. She saved everything that she liked, every home and garden article and a ton of photo inspiration. It was basically Pinterest in the 90’s. Some nights I caught her hunched over the binder, once even crying. It was another grain of sand weighing heavily on her heart. I think this was the first time I really noticed that she had big dreams, but they weren’t easy to obtain. I saw the frustration with the process, and the hopes getting higher and higher. I was starting to think the day would never come where she’d get what she wanted.

 

She built the home she wanted. She put her savings and her dreams into that house. Moving in was probably the most exciting thing about my childhood, because my mom was truly happy. I wish I could say things got easier from there, but they didn’t.

 

full (97)As an only child, I got bored often. The house was quiet, still usually just two of us in it at a time. I ran her ragged with swim team, skating, girl scouts, horseback riding, clarinet lessons and a few attempted seasons of assorted sports. She was tired, really tired. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t keep up, so I developed a lying problem to spice things up. Sometimes it was just my craving for attention in a quiet house. Other times I wanted to appear more interesting at school, and cover up my bland home life. Either way, I started a ton of problems. Even when I grew out of the lying, I kept pushing her buttons. I was a well behaved student, but came home as a tornado. Even when she took me to therapists, my bipolar disorder went undiagnosed. That quiet, shy girl who lacked confidence in public was a violent, angry mess at home. I took a swing at her multiple times, and damaged the house. I knew how hard she worked for it, and how deep it cut her to watch it become less and less perfect. Every time we battled I went right for the kill, and tried to inflict as much hurt as I could. She didn’t deserve it, at all. I just didn’t understand.

 

 

 

I moved out as soon as I could, and ran away to South Carolina. I hoped that starting fresh would give me a better chance at mental health success, but fell flat rather quickly. I got myself in some serious shit. The ambition of being independent and self sufficient was actually met with uncontrolled mania. I spent money like I had it, and met up with strangers all the time. I went on dates almost every night, and I have no idea how I escaped becoming another internet dating statistic. I met Jacen’s father and ended up pregnant just weeks after relocating.

 

 

 

48029_463861310756_4809468_nIt broke her heart to find out I was pregnant. Even more so when she realized his father was a total scumbag. Pile on that I quit school, and ended up moving back home with her. I was a complete disaster, and yet she seemed to forgive it instantly when she met my son. She was in the operating room during my c-section, and will never let me forget that she held my baby before anyone else. That moment forged an incredible bond, and she’s been the best Nana in the world ever since.

 

IMG_3355She held my hand and helped me get on my feet as a new parent. She stepped in with the baby when he was a newborn, and supported us while I attempted school. I ended up quitting college again, and started certificate classes for medical assisting. She took Jacen while I went to school, supported us financially, and even set me up in an apartment so I could start being an independent parent. Again, her savings dwindled as she took on both her own mortgage and my rent simultaneously.

 

 

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Now that I’m grown up and in a good place, she has been able to relax into her role as a Nana instead of a co-parent. It doesn’t stop her from bailing me out when I get stuck, but at least Mike and I have it mostly together. She’s never stopped impressing me with her love and generosity for her grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

1209009_10151906345900757_1743428923_nMy mom hates animals. HATES them. She’s a nurse and super in tune with germs and disease, so she avoids those little bacteria factories like the plague. I mean, she totally appreciates their importance in the world, she just doesn’t want them in her little world. She doesn’t want to touch them or anything. That being said, I can’t begin to tell you the number of times she’s taken a deep breath and a gallon of Purell to make sure her grand babies take part in every experience they want. She’s endured farms, petting zoos, pony rides and so much more. I never thought I’d see her overcome her animal/bacteria phobia, but she has. I’ve even started to notice her smiling, even laughing through it. The things you can overcome for love.

 

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Animals aren’t the only thing either. She’s put on a brave face through amusement park rides that make her nauseous, just to set an example for timid little Jacen. She’s slowly started to join in on the fun when we dress up, and even took a ride on a sled this winter. She’s constantly growing, and letting go of that guard she’s had up for so long. She worries less and less about how she looks to others, and cares about providing her grand kids with love and involvement.

 

 

 

IMG_0396_polarrMy kids are her core source of happiness. I wish I could tell you that their existence solved all of her problems, but they didn’t. They just provide moments of joy, a break from working for those grains of sand. When she doesn’t have positive things to say, she doesn’t say anything. She releases minimal details about her personal life, and has become a woman of mystery to many of her loved ones. They don’t ask, and she doesn’t voluntarily tell- but I can assure you she’s working as hard as ever. Fifty nine years, and still, nothing comes easy. She’s still pushing through. She’s lost some of her supporters from years ago, but gained a new generation of people who love her. The problems still come up, but she faces them bravely. People still ask for help from her, assuming she has the means for it. Financially, emotionally, even just finding the available time- it can all be like getting blood from a stone, but she tries her best to find a way.

 

As I’ve grown and become a parent myself, I now have appreciation for all that she’s been through. I spend time feeling bad- it must have been so disappointing to want for a baby so long, and end up with me. She probably envisioned raising a perfect little girly girl, but ended up with an obese, ungrateful daughter with mental health issues. Even though I’ve done my best to change those things now, it doesn’t erase the trying years I put her through. I can only work to make the present as good as I can.

 

IMG_1113The stress is still snowballing, growing in size every day. It seems that once she finally accumulates a hill from all those individual grains of sand, a big, old, dirty boot stomps all over it. No matter how many times she starts over, she always finds the strength to keep pushing. For a long time, she carried most of that sand with little help. These days, she is exclusively moving it alone. I don’t know how she does it, but the kids and I are cheering her on, and loving her immensely with every grain she carries. She dreams of a day where she can proudly relax on top of her sand mountain, and a world where her grandchildren do not have to work as hard as she did. She is currently rebuilding from that dirty boot that knocked her down, but that mountain WILL come. She’ll make sure of it.

 

47291_462203275756_8293762_nI hope you now see why I couldn’t just let this one sit unpublished. If you’re going through something, if you’re feeling alone, if your hill has been stomped- find her strength. Get back up, pick up that sand, and keep pushing. It isn’t about where you come from, what you’ve been given or the card you’ve been dealt. Happiness and success comes from perseverance and hard work. She’s always inspired me so much, let her inspire you too.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

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My Ongoing Battle with Self-confidence

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I’m pretty open that growing up obese has landed me in therapy. Everyone assumes this has gotten better with my 150 pound weight loss, but my weight still LITERALLY keeps me up at night. As I write this at 3AM, memories and anxieties about my weight flood my brain. I wish I could just let it go, but it doesn’t feel like I’ll ever see that day.

 

 

blurFor the most part, I was a happy kid. I was oblivious to my weight issue until the fourth grade. That year I moved to a new town, and struggled to make friends. I was different, I was new. I was a target. As I approached sixth grade, the bullying really started. Pre-teen girls are the most evil, volatile people on the planet.  Girls that were my best friends one day would be my biggest bullies the next. I realized that using the stairs between classes would leave me out of breath and sweaty, so I had a hard time focusing on my school work. I spent the entire period staring at the clock with anxiety about moving to the next classroom. Even outside of school I struggled with my extracurricular activities. I heard snickers and mean comments at horse back riding, as my fellow students ‘feared for the horse’s safety.’ Synchronized ice skating had me vomiting in the bathroom stall before we got measured for our matching outfits. Even my parents made me feel like a disappointment. I just couldn’t escape the feelings of inadequacy, and I didn’t have a single place that I felt comfortable with myself.

 

 

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Fast forward to being an adult at 303 pounds. That’s when the medical issues really kicked in. I had high blood pressure, PCOS, and struggled with infertility. I was taking the highest dose of Metformin (a diabetes medication) that is recommended by the FDA, and was on my way to being on insulin. My health held me back from some really big things- you know, like happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

tmpImageI started my weight loss journey because I wanted to beat my PCOS and conceive. Ironically enough the days after losing weight and getting pregnant were some of my most emotionally unstable. As the months passed, I was obsessed with the number on the scale. I refused to finish meals, avoided carbs like the plague, and insisted on continuing a vigorous workout routine. I guess it worked, as I lost body fat my entire pregnancy. I was pretty happy with myself until I ended up with a preterm baby.

 

 

 

 

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The months postpartum were my darkest. By day I posted glowing Instagram photos about my blessed life. By night I sobbed while on the phone with the suicide hotline. This didn’t happen once or twice, but daily between October and February. More than once the employees at Michael’s found me crying in the aisle, hiding from my family at home. I had thoughts about driving off the Sagamore bridge every time I drove to the cape. My husband was baffled. I had everything I ever wanted- weight loss, beautiful babies, even quitting my job to stay home with the kids. One day he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “this is outside my realm of helping. I think we need professional help.”

 

 

With that comment, I started therapy. His words never left me, “WE need professional help.” That’s real love. He stuck out my worst days, and held my hand through every part of my mental health recovery. He’s involved in my treatment, and does his best to make every single day easier for me. I guess that why he’s still so confused over my obsession with my body.

 

I’m currently the smallest I’ve ever been, but I’m just as sad as I was at my biggest. I’ll always be the girl who carried those 300 pounds. I have the same insecurities and low self confidence, now with the added anxiety about regaining what I’ve lost. I obsess. I track my food. I weigh myself several times per day. I cry- a lot.

 

 

The things that I went through as a kid stick with me. Those were the days that shaped me. The days that I felt I wasn’t safe anywhere, and that I had no one by my side. The days where I was alone in a crowded room, and was targeted by bullies just for existing. Those are the days that I carry with me, and just can’t let go of.

 

 

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and psych meds have definitely made an impact on my mental health. It’s been 13 months since my last call to the suicide hotline. I feel healthier and happier, and I have a better relationship with my family than ever before. I’m starting to feel less alone and more supported. My blog has connected me with new friends, and even strengthened existing relationships by communicating feeling i was never able to talk about. There’s just one thought that haunts me: I have everything I’ve ever wanted, and I’m still not happy. I wonder if I ever will be.

 

 

I’ve spent 10 months stuck at my current weight. I’m so close to my goal that it hurts! Even though my weight hasn’t changed, my self confidence regresses every day. I’m still wearing the same clothes, but I see myself as bigger and bigger. It feels like not losing is the same as gaining. The anger and frustration consume me.

 

 

IMG_3136Getting myself healthy – physically AND mentally – will always be my number two goal. Number one? Doing my best to prevent my children from ever feeling this way. I constantly fear that genetics will take them down the same path I traveled. As a family we try to eat healthy and stay active. It isn’t always easy. Healthy food can be expensive on one income, and Jacen’s Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome can keep our active time pretty short. We keep doing our best. We budget and cut things in other places. We try to keep exercise fun and watch Jacen’s body cues. Most importantly, we use positive language. We talk about the science behind healthy bodies, and are open with our feelings. My kids know that it’s just as hard for me as it is for them to resist the soda and cake, so we indulge in “sometimes treats” every now and again. We don’t focus on weight with the kids, but more so choosing healthy foods that are full of nutrients. We zero in on “getting strong” instead of burning calories. By talking about the way we feel, the kids know it’s okay to struggle with sports. Some people are not athletically inclined, and it’s alright to be frustrated. It’s not alright to give up. It’s not alright to dislike yourself for where you fall short. You just have to keep trying, and keep trying to be a better YOU.

 

 

Someone once told me that I should speak to myself the way I speak to my children. I would never tell them they were fat, worthless or inadequate – so why do I tell myself these things? It’s a hard pill to swallow, and a hard habit to change. It is a double standard, but ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ are two completely different animals. I try my best to set a good example on the outside, but inside is a very dark tornado of self confidence issues.

 

 

The way I was treated in my young days forever control my brain. I’m always flashing back to times I was deeply hurt, and triggered by things people say. It’s so important to think about what you say to others, as your words can have a lasting effect. Don’t be one of those memories that someone carries with them. Don’t be an anxiety. Don’t be a bully. Let’s set a good example for our children, and do our best to produce a healthier generation. I may never be cured of my mental illness, so I strive to prevent it in my children. It’s easier to avoid starting a problem in the beginning than to fix it after the fact.

 

 

Be kind to others. Work on being kind to yourself, especially during the most difficult of times. Join my journey into self-acceptance, and let’s get healthier together. Let’s do it for our kids, and for ourselves.

 

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

I refuse to beg someone to love my children.

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Christmas of 2009, I found out I was pregnant with Jacen. I was terrified, but his dad assured me everything would be okay. Just 9 months later, my due date was rapidly approaching when he changed his mind. His dad bailed, and I was left to raise Jacen alone – or so I thought.

 

47723_463861380756_838014_n (1)I mourned when his father left, but it only took 12 hours to get the fuck over it. There was one e-mail exchanged, and when I realized he wasn’t coming back I changed my gameplan. I promised myself and Jacen that I would not beg for anyone to be our lives. We had eachother. I wanted to be there, and he deserved a family who wanted nothing less.

 

155138_10150093736085757_860416_nMy biggest fear about being a single parent was that my son would not feel loved enough. You see, when his dad left so did a whole side of a biological family. He now only had one set of grandparents, no aunts, no uncles. Would he be sad without them?

 

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I shared these feelings with my mom. I shared them with both of my best friends. It didn’t take long before I realized that the people who were there, listening to me vent, were people who wanted to be in our lives. They loved us. They were family. The non-biologicals stepped up into the aunt and uncle roles, and before I knew it we had the big family I’d wanted for my children.

 

 

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Not everyone stayed. I had a friend who was there 100% during my pregnancy and Jacen’s first few months. She disappeared over time. She wasn’t around to see us, and the text messages gradually decreased. Again, I would not chase her down. My son did not go a single day missing this girl, as his aunts and uncles were RIGHT there to pick up the slack.

 

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I’m happy to say that my children have never grown up wanting for love. As time passed, our circle grew. I dated, I made friends, and when I got married I inherited a whole family of people who love us, including my beautiful ‘step-’ daughter. (Although I don’t use that prefix unless I’m describing the timeline of our family.) We were busy, and we never had to do anything alone. There was always someone who wanted to come spend time with the kids.

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Unfortunately, you just can’t control some people. I had cousins that I’d reach out to and ask to take their kids. I realized that even though the kids were together at my house all the time, their family had not once asked to take Jacen. I stopped asking, they never offered, and now we only see each other at family parties. My kids haven’t even noticed a change. There is also extended family who don’t bother with my children between holidays- then they get offended when my kids don’t recognize them. We once had a family member tell Arielle to “go see Auntie.” They were very offended when she ran over to Jean-Marie, but she’s the only auntie my kids have really known. Once again it was pointed out that she was not a “real” Auntie, since there was no blood relation. They couldn’t be more wrong.

 

335509_10151261206665757_402075821_oBesides my own mother – who is the absolute greatest, most loving member of our family – my SISTER is the only person that has been consistently involved in Jacen’s whole life. She asks to see us, we ask to see her. It’s a two way street, and the kids absolutely love her. There isn’t a day that her love has wavered. She stuck out my untreated bipolar days, my awful fighting, and some serious boyfriend drama. We got through it together, and her love only grew as each of my daughters joined the family. Even in her own life changes, she hasn’t missed a single beat with my kids. I’m overjoyed to now be an auntie to her own daughter, and I deeply promise to uphold the high auntie-standards she has set. We are family, and we want to see each other.

 

 

 

12043196_10153808412375757_7317638145714140690_nWe surely have strong family members who want to see us, and love us very much. That doesn’t mean everyone does. There is still family who we only see on holidays. There are many biological relatives that my children would not recognize. There are even people who have been around for years, and recently decided to excuse themselves from our lives. Jacen and Arielle are now old enough to see this. They’ve asked questions, but they honestly have not shed a single tear over it.

 

To be completely blunt, Jacen feels like he has lost a grandparent. Over the last few months, this person has failed to spend time with him. They ignored his requests for support during Jacen’s funrun, and even fail to have a conversation with him when they are under the same roof. The kids ask questions that are hard to answer, but they’re also really smart and almost immediately switch their focus to the people who are involved. They know who the true family members are, and understand the meaning of mutual love.

 

Here’s the honest truth: you can fake a relationship with children on social media, but eventually these kids grow up smart to your game. You can brag about your awesome family at the bar with your friends and it still won’t change the fact that the same kids don’t recognize you. When you fail to be present, you can’t cover it up with an emotional Facebook post. You may have your followers fooled, but the kids aren’t. They aren’t even seeing what you put online. In their minds, you have zero involvement. Memory is built by exposure. If they don’t see you, they won’t remember you. End of story.

 

 

52595984_10157329692430757_1838163839963627520_nMy children are very loved. It might sting a little when someone walks out, but that feeling is overshadowed by the people who support us. Relationships are products of the effort put in, which is why they love our handmade family most. As they get older, they begin to realize that the best families are based on quality and not quantity. When people fall out of our lives, it only makes the relationship with our base pillars even stronger. I find the truest family bear more and more weight over time, but it’s also more and more love. The amount of affection does not change when someone walks out- it simply shifts to a more deserving person.

 

What role are you in today? Do you feel like you’re chasing someone down to love your child, or are you the person dropping the ball? Are there calls to be returned, plans to be made, play dates to keep and not cancel? Is there mutual effort being put in? There are two sides to every relationship. What can you do today to keep those two sides in balance? Step up and return the effort when it’s given, but also know when to walk away when someone isn’t worth the energy. Family first, give them the loved ones they deserve – people who let their affection flow instead of forcing it when it’s convenient. Trust me, the kids will recognize true love when it’s there. They’ll return it.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

The Bystander Conundrum

IMG_2610My niece is here, an I could not be happier! She is absolutely perfect in every way, from her beautiful face to her cute little personality. She’s been sticking her tongue out and making the silliest puppy noises. She’s a goofball already, and I’m looking forward to watching her grow and interact with my own children.

 

Not everything this week has been as positive as meeting Ms. Nora. There’s a person in my life who is mistreating and verbally abusing someone I love. It’s hard to watch, and my ability to protect this person is limited. It hurts like hell, it’s frustrating, and I’m spinning my wheels trying to think of a way to help.

 

superman-family-217_01For years I’ve witnessed the torture, and haven’t been able to stop it. I can only “damage control” so much after the fact by supporting the victim. It’s not like people have failed to pointed out the abuse, or tried to stop it. The aggressor denies that her words are actually hurtful, and insists that she is in a position to voice her opinions. Sometimes I feel like I’m standing in front of a train, trying to stop it by hand. The fact is, the brakes can only be activated from inside.

 

qlqcszmkp9yzOne of the most profound things I’ve ever heard is a quote by Louis C.K. – “When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide you didn’t.” It doesn’t matter who brings the issue to your attention- a concerned family member, a friend of your own, or the victim themselves. If someone tells you that you are constantly over aggressive and hurtful, you need to take a hard look at yourself. The aggressor is the only one who has the power to change their actions. Else wise, the environment may change when people stop interacting with the aggressor altogether.

 

I’ve been spending far too long trying to figure out where I belong in this scenario. When I feel the urge to speak my mind, the words “know your place” seems to pop into the forefront of my mind. Will I make the situation worse? Is there any point in arguing with a wall? Can you make someone who dodges accountability see their wrongs and change their actions? I don’t know. The last thing I want to do is make this person even more mean, but I’m full of energy to intervene. I’m seeing something, so I think that means I’m supposed to say something. I just don’t want the victim to take the push-back from my actions.

 

I’m trying to find balance between my mama bear- protective side, and my level-headed mom side. I’m trying to figure out what to do. It’s keeping me up at night, which is why I’m blogging at 4 AM. The trying doesn’t seem to get me anywhere. I know there’s action to be taken, but how? Where do I start? How do I help fix the cracks before my loved one breaks altogether?

 

It’s harder to put someone together later than it is to stop them from being torn down in the first place. Let’s all try to avoid this situation all together. Don’t be the aggressor. Be understanding. Be kind to each other.

 

Kate and the Kids.

New Baby Etiquette

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My niece is currently 5 days past her due date. I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement to meet her! I only want the best for my sister and her baby, and it reminds me of all the things other people did with my new baby that drove me crazy. From a mom, here are the things we want you to do.

 

 

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  1. Respect the fact that that mom is also meeting her baby for the first time. She will never get another “one day old” with this baby, and the parents want to soak up every moment of those valuable first hours. Let them have time to themselves, and ask them when you can come by. NO SURPRISE VISITS.
  2. Offer to step out. New moms are learning to nurse. It can be stressful and awkward to do this with an audience, and can feel even more weird to ask for privacy. The visitor should offer to leave for a few minutes when it’s time to nurse, don’t wait for mom to ask. Go get a cup of coffee and take a break. And please, God, do NOT expect mom to “just cover up” on your behalf. She’s probably less concerned with her naked body, but more so self conscious of learning a new still while someone watches. After all, you wouldn’t want your first piano lesson while on stage at the recital.Give her time and space to learn.IMG_1751
  3. Take a suitable gift– don’t drag the six foot teddy bear into the room. Remember that mom, dad, baby, and visitors will be in this little room for a few days. Gifts and flowers make the room feel real crowded, real quick. Parents also need to get all the stuff dragged out to the car and brought in the house. They don’t want to spend time doing it. They want to get their new baby home..
  4. Offer to wait until baby comes home to visit. Everyone is excited to meet the little bundle of joy, but you have their whole life to meet them. Mom and Dad only have a newborn baby for a short while.
  5. Don’t visit if you have a cough or cold. Duh.
  6. One pump in, one pump out. This is a nursing saying for washing/sanitizing your hands every time you enter the room, and every time you leave it.48029_463861310756_4809468_n
  7. Don’t take toddlers with you unless mom requests them. Toddlers have an astronomical numbers of germs, even when they don’t show symptoms of illness. Newborn are incredibly receptive to sickness- both your new baby and the other babies on the floor. You never know what another baby’s situation is; there could be breathing issues or complications. They’re also way too much energy for the hospital room- especially if you plan on holding the new baby instead of wrangling your child.47723_463861380756_838014_n
  8. Plan a short visit. Mom is tired, learning to breastfeed, taking care of baby, and constantly being poked and prodded by hospital staff. Don’t overstay. Typically a 20 minute visit is customary- just enough time to meet the baby and congratulate the new parents.
  9. Refrain from perfume, cologne, and cigarettes. Astringent cosmetics on the skin can irritate baby, and strong smells can be overwhelming.47723_463861395756_5733537_n
  10. Don’t comment on the physical appearance of mom or baby. Obviously, say they’re cute, but don’t point out a cone head, hairy skin, skin conditions, mom’s lack of makeup, etc.
  11. DON’T BE A KIBITZER. REFRAIN FROM UNSOLICITED ADVICE. It’s okay to answer mom’s questions, but wait for her to ask for help. She wants to learn on her own. She wants to do things her way. Just back off, your kids probably didn’t wind up perfect anyways. What do you know?
  12. Watch the signs. We all want to be there, and we’re all going to have trouble maintaining that 20 minute rule- but there’s more. If baby or parents look really tired, look overwhelmed, or appear less engaged in conversation, WRAP UP THE VISIT. Be respectful, even if this means cutting your 20 minutes even shorter.IMG_1728
  13. Don’t post birth announcements, baby stats, photos, videos or news on social media without mom’s okay.

 

Mom and baby have been through a lot. They need time to rest, recover, and get to know each other. Let the parents set the rules and the pace. Be kind, patient and understanding. Most of all, love the crap out of that baby!

 

Hoping to meet my niece soon, and I apologize ahead of time if I give an attitude while enforcing baby etiquette. I do it out of love.

Kate and the Kids.

We’ll be back after this short break!

Hi Guys!

 

I just wanted to do a quick check- in since I haven’t been able to update in a while. Things have been crazy with niece due to arrive any day, having 2 kids with the flu, and my own health issues. As my fellow mamas know, the kids come first. I haven’t been writing, but the inspiration has built up. There are so many things I can’t wait to share with you all! Hang in there, the best is yet to come!

 

Kate and the Kids

Mr. Golden Sun, Please shine down on me!

 

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“Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it. -David Suzuki

 

 

March has decided to grace us with some beautiful weather. For months I’ve been telling my therapist that my seasonal depression hasn’t been as bad this winter, but it only takes one day of sunshine to realize how much weight is lifted off my shoulders. I’m especially breathing easier because my niece is due to arrive any day now, and the fear of her coming mid blizzard is starting to ease up. My poor sister has had anxiety about the possibility of being snowed in and in labor during her entire pregnancy.

 

 

IMG_0292One thing she and I are really looking forward to is spending some time outside while she’s on her maternity leave. We are hoping to get some vitamin D by walking the Cape Cod Canal, and the waterfront in Plymouth. Trust me, I remember how crazy those first few weeks with a baby are. We are trying to keep our planning minimal and expectations low, while still crossing our fingers for opportunities of time in the fresh air.

 

 

 

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With my son’s testing at Boston Children’s Hospital, my own dislocated jaw, (and the following days of being knocked out from the muscle relaxer) and the 5 days my family spent with the flu, I’m behind in the old meditation department. It’s been shown that only 5-10 minutes walking outdoors clears your mind. It’s organic meditation, even when you’re not planning it. Natural sunlight is great for mood, unplugging reduces stress and migraines, and any type of movement or activity releases endorphins associated with productivity while burning calories.

 

IMG_4527About a year ago I had thought about becoming a Tinkergarten teacher. I enthusiastically believe in their mission of getting kids to interact with nature (and each other) at an early age. Unfortunately Anna was a newborn, and my bipolar treatment was still in the beginning stage. It wasn’t the right time for me to take on the commitment, I needed to focus on fixing my own mind.

 

Even without teaching a formal class or getting paid, I intend to use some of their lesson plans with my own children. For the last few years, I’ve kept them busy by taking them to a ton of special events. With an untreated bipolar mind, this was my way of making the kids happy and “spend some time with them” without actually sitting down and having one on one conversations. Although events are fun, we are cutting back this summer. I plan to take it easy, and really get out into nature.

 

img_0084One new technique that really stood out to me during my research on wellness is the practice of earthing. Earthing is spending time barefoot outdoors and absorbing the earth’s free electrons from its surface through the soles of your feet. In our region, many people talk about the stress relieving properties of feeling the sand between your toes while at the beach. This theory extends to all types of terrain, and is definitely something my family will be trying this spring. After all, getting dirty benefits your heart, skin, and immune system. Who couldn’t use that?

 

I leave you today with advice from a tree:

Stand tall and proud,

Go out on a limb.

Remember your roots.

Drink plenty of water,

Be content with your natural beauty,

Enjoy the view.

 

Looking forward to getting outside,

Kate and the Kids.

Surviving the Flu in a Big Family

IMG_2357Thursday afternoon we got the call- Jacen needed to come home from school, he had a high fever. I’ve been incredibly lucky with Jacen, aside from his Ehler’s-Danlos he almost never gets sick. He’s had antibiotics less than 5 times in his life- not bad for an eight year old! As soon as I got to the school I could tell this was a different kind of sickness for Jacen.

 

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It was a long night, as both Anna and Jacen started showing symptoms. We got an appointment with the doctor the next morning, and got confirmation it was Flu B. (We already had Flu A earlier this season.) Mama grabbed a coffee and buckled up for a rough few days.

 

  1. Tamilflu:

 

IMG_2392The kids were prescribed Tamiflu. After my own swab came back positive in urgent care, they sent some in for me too. I almost had a heart attack when I saw the cost of the medication. Anna’s prescription was just under $80, Jacen’s $145, Mine was $106. I had to take some time and weigh my options. The first thing I had to consider is that Tamiflu does not “cure” the flu- it treats the symptoms and can lessen the impact & duration of the illness. Second, I asked about generic alternatives- turns out these prices WERE the generic, Oseltamivir . IMG_2388There are no prescription strength alternatives that may be cheaper. Third, I had to weigh the family on a case by case basis. I have no chronic illnesses that may become life threatening with the flu- I would be toughing it out without the Tamiflu. Jacen has a genetic condition, and had a procedure done earlier that week- he was a prime candidate for serious illness with the flu. Anna is a previous NICU baby, with a history of breathing issues. Also a high risk patient for complications.  I didn’t have a choice- I took a deep breath and swiped the card. I just had to keep telling myself it was medicine, it was something we needed, and we would figure out another place to cut back this week. The kids got the Tamiflu, I got some extra strength Tylenol.

 

IMG_2394As soon as we got home, I loaded the kids up with Tylenol and their first dose of the Tamiflu. It took about 45 seconds before each child threw the medication right back up. I cried as I cleaned up the vomit, all I could think about was the $250 I had just spent at the pharmacy- all that money and it ended up on my kitchen floor instead of inside my sick kids. I knew I couldn’t afford to let this happen again, so I jumped on Pinterest looking for tips. Unfortunately the medicine has a very strong, bitter taste. It will overpower most liquids it is mixed with. The typical juices are off the table. I found a lot of positive reviews on mixing with coffee creamer, so we gave it a go. My husband picked up a peanut butter cup flavor, and the kids were excited to try it. The creaminess coated the acidity and bitterness of the tamiflu extremely well, and they have not thrown up a single dose since. It’s also been nice that I don’t have to battle with them to take their medicine. They like the taste of the creamer so much that they look forward to it!

 

  1. When I say “Flu” you say “Ids!” FLU-IDS, FLU-IDS, FLUIDS!!!

IMG_2391Having the flu draws a lot of fluid out of your body, (sweat, boogers, vomit, mucus, all that fun stuff that makes you want to gag when you read about it!) and the loss of fluid is for a reason! It’s your body’s way of pushing germs and toxins out of your body, and accelerating healing. It’s important to replace the toxic fluids that exit with clean, nutritious fluids.Drink a ton, I mean as much as you can physically handle! In our home we opt for herbal teas, water and electrolyte replacers like gatorade and pedialyte. When those don’t sound appetizing, we offer sugar free pudding, popsicles, low sugar ice cream, broth, soup and snow cones. Dehydration will only make you feel worse, so do your best to keep drinking!

 

  1. Jello for sore throat

 

This is one of my secret weapons! I learned this trick while working in pediatrics. For a sore throat, make “tea” with a tablespoon of powdered jello mix dissolved into a cup of hot water. (I use sugar free jello and have the same great results.) Drinking the tea will coat the sore parts of your throat and decrease pain. Jello is naturally low calorie and fat free, so it’s a no-guilt way to get some fluids in!

 

  1. Pineapple juice for a cough

 

In the holistic community, it is believed pineapple juice is five times more effective than over the counter cough syrup. Personally, I’ve adopted a joint holistic and western lifestyle. I still treat my children with Tylenol and Tamiflu, but I also believe herbal teas, spices, and juices will expedite healing. Pineapple juice contains a mixture of enzymes called bromelain, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. The enzymes soothe a sore throat and help break up mucus.

 

  1. Get some rest.

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IMG_2395This week Anna has become the poster child for resting while sick. She has not hesitated to stop, drop and nap whenever she needs it. She has fallen asleep on the floor, while standing up, while sitting in chairs, mid conversation, and mid activity. A girl needs her beauty sleep! Even I slept for about 30 hours within a two day time frame. It’s the best thing for recovery! When you sleep, your body is able to focus its functioning power on healing and fighting illness. It also means you’ll sleep through the most miserable of your symptoms. If you’re sick, sleep. Easier said than done, right? Especially for a mom. Take help when it’s offered. If it’s not offered, ask for help. Don’t be afraid to put the babies in a safe place- like a crib or pack and play- and nap when they nap. As always, remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup, and mom needs to heal and recover too.

 

 

  1. Flu Shots

 

IMG_2262Don’t be confused. Anna contracted both flu A and B this year, and Jacen caught B. We all got flu shots. THIS DOES NOT MEAN FLU SHOTS DO NOT WORK. Flu shots are proven to reduce symptoms and length of illness. They can also be lifesaving for people who have chronic illnesses. Just like with any vaccine, you are not only protecting yourself but those around you. When you choose to get a flu vaccine, you are lessening the impact of the virus for yourself, but also the virus that you may give to others. This is especially important when you are around someone who is chronically ill. Not everyone who is chronically ill appears so, like Jacen and Anna. Both were high risk kiddos, but even our close friends and family may not have realized it. Most of the time sick kids do not look sick. Get your flu shot. Protect yourself, protect others.

 

I am happy to report that we are all on the upswing. I had anticipated that the flu would have us down for much longer, but we have bounced back within just a few days. I hope you and your family are able to avoid the flu this year, but if you do, may it be as minimally painful as possible.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

If you’re stuck, don’t accept defeat. Accept accountability. Accept help. Accept change.

I’ve had a really rough couple of weeks. It makes me want to avoid blogging, as I really don’t want to share negative thoughts- but they happen. They’re still here, and they’re normal. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away, so here they are.

I’ve had some serious frustration with people in my life making bad decisions. Small scale, my eight year old son has driven me crazy with the immaturity these days. Large scale, drunk driving is never okay. Motherhood is both difficult and terrifying. We do our best to raise good kids at home, to teach them to make good decisions. It’s difficult. We also know we can’t control anyone but ourselves. There are others out in the world making bad decisions everyday, decisions that endanger our family. That’s terrifying.

MISTAKES happen. We hope no one is hurt from our mistakes, and take the opportunity to learn from them. Repeatedly making the same mistakes are not accidents – they’re a conscious decision to do the wrong thing. Accountability is the first step.

When we refuse to take responsibility for our actions, it leaves room to repeat said actions. My son and his friend were caught talking during a quiet time in class. My son immediately told his teacher that his friend started the conversation, and he was just responding. The other child was punished, Jacen was not. It’s now become a habit where my son has disruptive conversations in class and blames the other person. If he cries, if he plays the victim, he can justify his own bad actions and keeping doing them. Ultimately he is only hurting himself. His friends will realize that Jacen throws them under the bus, and will not want to be his friend any more. He’s also missing out on important lectures, and will fall behind if he doesn’t change his behavior.

The same can be said for someone who drives home drunk.

Blaming others only justifies bad decisions to yourself. It doesn’t change that others were put at risk. Getting away with it doesn’t mean you can do it again. Your life will not get better escaping accountability. You will lose the people who are close to you when they realize your selfishness puts them at risk. Do not confuse SUPPORT while recovering from bad behavior and ENABLING bad behavior to continue. There’s a difference. I can be a friend, I can be an ex-friend. It all depends on how you accept my love. I will not enable bad decisions by sticking by someone who wants to repeat the same mistakes, I’ll only be a support person for someone who wants to turn it around.

These feelings extend to so many situations, like when my son leaves his homework on the kitchen table, then blames mom and dad for not reminding him it’s there. Trust me, it will happen again. Continually stopping for fast food and blaming you work schedule or budget won’t cause a change in behavior. Avoiding a mental health diagnosis or treatment won’t make it go away. You can not continue blaming a downward spiral on the way others treat you, instead of taking accountability for your own brain chemistry and bad choices. Take accountability, take support. Make a positive change. Don’t take advantage of your situation and play the victim.

I’ve had a hard time these last few weeks watching others make bad decisions. I do not punish my son because I want him to be miserable. I punish him because I want him to start making better choices. I do it because I love him. I’m not joining MADD (mothers against drunk driving) to shame or embarrass someone after a DUI. I do it because I love them. I want to keep them safe, I want to keep others on the road safe. I want to encourage positive change.

We all have something in our lives that needs to be shifted from negative to positive. Where can you take accountability today? Where can you decide that this problem was not caused by others, but by your own choices. Where can you take the reins back, and steer toward a better you?

Today I wish you wellness- physically, mentally, socially. I hope you decide to make a positive change, and keep both yourself and your family well.

With healthy hearts,

Kate and The Kids.

PCOS- they told me it was “reversed.”

1918173_211215425756_6279772_nFor almost my entire life I have struggled with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.) When I was a teenager, it meant I was a “late bloomer” who didn’t start getting a cycle until 16, and never grew breast tissue. Yeah, that made high school super fun- especially with the weight issues and glasses.

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Over the years following I found other symptoms popping up- facial hair, extremely oily skin, anxiety, depression, and weight problems (in addition to my binge eating disorder.)

 

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As an adult my cycle could last up to 30 days at a time, requiring surgical intervention twice. I’ve also been mortified on several occasion when I’ve bled through in public, ruining chairs, clothes, pretty much anything. It’s a painful, miserable condition- but the worst of it came when Mike and I started trying to conceive after our wedding.10806273_10152945403270757_5871925310345855693_n

It took 4 years, medication for insulin resistance, intervention with IVF, additional surgeries and a whole lot of heartbreak before we decided to stop trying. I took the time to focus on myself, and put all my energy into becoming happier and healthier.

17951449_10155389457315757_5116608580662651941_nAfter I lost my first 100 pounds, I was shocked to find out I had become pregnant without even trying. Ecstatic, I had labs drawn and the doctor happily told me that I had “reversed” my PCOS through weight loss. On cloud 9, I walked out of that office happier than ever; My PCOS was gone and I was finally having my baby.

Fast forward a few years. I’ve continues to lose weight, making total pounds lost 150. My healthy, beautiful, smart baby girl is 16 months old.. Aaaaand I’m back to suffering with my PCOS. “Reversing PCOS” wasn’t exactly true. I had it managed to a point where I could conceive, but the smaller symptoms remained. 22365602_10155969697000757_7313680637017225948_n

PCOS is a genetic, hormonal, metabolic and reproductive disorder. It can have some pretty serious associated symptoms, like severe depression, anxiety, obesity, endometrial cancer, and type 2 diabetes. PCOS affects 1 in 10 women, so it’s important to be educated on prevention and treatment. I’ve run into many women who have suffered with PCOS. I’ve learned some tips and tricks; like Red Raspberry leaf tea for cramps, and how caffeine actually has a negative effect on the days we feel particularly run down.

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PCOS patients usually have issues with their cycle due to malfunctions in their ovaries. A normal ovary releases about 20 follicles per month, usually one matures. At ovulation the mature egg releases into the Fallopian tube. The mature follicle releases progesterone and the uterine line thickens, period follows.

In a PCOS ovary, the body doesn’t make enough hormones for an egg to mature. The follicles will grow, but since none mature some will remain as cysts. No egg is released, no progesterone is produced and the uterine lining does not thicken.

The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown, but there is a trend in PCOS patients that elevated levels of androgen and insulin may be related to the condition.

PCOS is not limited to obese woman, but women who produce more insulin to break down their diet are at a higher risk for the condition.

Currently there is no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can be managed with some medication. At my highest weight of 303 pounds, I was taking 2,550mg of metformin ( the highest recommended dose) to manage my insulin resistance. I was also prescribed hormones to force ovulation, then more hormones to stop the bleeding. All of these meds made me feel terrible all the time, and the hormones interfered with my mental health.

Losing my weight was the biggest thing that helped my PCOS to the point where I could conceive Anna. It wasn’t easy, but I had a strong motivation to keep pushing. The nutritionist I see still has me on a diet that is very similar to Keto, but is designed to keep the PCOS hormones at bay. IMG_1709

I follow the rules, I stay true to my diet and take my mental health meds- and yet sometimes I still have a PCOS attack. Today I am struggling with severe pain, lightheadedness, low heart rate, nausea, weakness, sadness, exhaustion and did I mention pain? It’s terrible. Even without missing any of my antidepressants, I’m feeling extremely low- as if I’ve neglected them all together. This condition truly has me by mind, body and soul.

PCOS is so common, which is good and bad. On one hand, we should be able to easily connect with each other, support each other, and push for research into a cure. On the other hand, it out right SUCKS to know people are out there suffering as much as I am. I’ve recently opened my mind and heart to additional aspects of holistic medicine, and I’m ready to try out some of my new tricks. Hopefully, the next time I blog about PCOS I’ll be able to share some helpful treatments! Until then, stay in the know and stay healthy.

 

All our love,

Kate and the Kids

 

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.

Free Kate and The Kids Swag!

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Anyone who joins our e-mail list this week will receive free Kate and the Kids items! We have tumblers, mugs, key chains, snack containers and more. Just e-mail your mailing address to katefasci@gmail.com ! You’ll be added to the e-mail list, and your item will be sent out this weekend!

 

With healthy hearts,

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?

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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.

 

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