Tag Archives: Exhaustion

Challenging Myself to a Healthier, Thinner Me

What does a 9 hour desk job plus 2-3 hours on the couch watching TV, combined with the more than occasional quick bite at the fast food restaurant along with an adult beverage or two from time to time added to new medications that cause fatigue and lack of desire equal?  About twenty pounds added to a frame that was already a little too heavy for my liking.

I have always struggled with my weight.  My family falls into 2 categories – the half who seem unable to keep weight on no matter what they do and have metabolisms like hummingbirds, and then those of us who just smell food and gain 5 pounds.  It was really hard as a child, and when looking back, I was by no means obese or really overweight, but because of theater and dance, I was always around these lithe little girls who seemed to have shed their baby fat at the age of two.  From the age of 4 I was always aware of being the chubby one.  Many fad diets and an under active thyroid during puberty didn’t help, so I never was the one you saw wearing the short shorts or skirts.

My obsession with dieting and my yo-yoing weight gave me stretch marks by the time I was 13 years old.

When I was living in New York, working as an actress, I did buckle down, join a gym and combined with my daily walking commute, did manage to get down to a healthy 135 lbs – just right for my 5′ 6″ frame.  After moving to Atlanta, though, back in 2000, stress, and an unhealthy relationship that (in retrospect) really messed with my self esteem, I became an exercise junkie and borderline anorexic – eating only salads and the occasional piece of fruit.  My weight, plummeted down to 110.  Finally I was as thin as my sisters!  I could fit into a size 4 jean!  It didn’t matter that my hair was coming out in clumps, and I barely had enough energy to stay up past 7:00 pm – I was skinny!  Then one day in 2004, something strange happened.  I was walking from my car to my office, and my legs went completely numb.  It was as if suddenly they had fallen asleep.  I shrugged it off as a pinched nerve and went about my day.  Later that afternoon at the gym, as I stepped on the treadmill, I found I could barely pick my feet up to jog, and tripped on the treadmill.  I made an appointment with my doctor who referred me to a neurologist.  At the time I was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis.  A lesion was found on my spinal cord, and I was told that often it is nothing, and that I was lucky to catch it early and treat it with steroids before permanent paralysis set in – but I should get the occasional MRI every few years because folks who experience TM, often develop Multiple Sclerosis.

Soon after this attack I left my job with the cushy medical benefits so, it was a good 7 years before I had insurance again, so, no doctor visits to follow up on this fluke attack.  I broke up with the unhealthy relationship, and jumped into a healthy one with a guy who loves me, and unfortunately my cooking.  After settling down into a comfortable marriage and taking a break from theater, exercise also took a bit of a back seat to spending time snuggling with my new husband and Furkids on the couch.

Then in June of 2011 I began to be plagued by headaches and double vision.  After many months of mis-diagnosises, it was finally determined that I had Multiple Sclerosis.  The treatment of steroids, and the following medications to treat the lingering nerve damage, fatigue and to stave off future attacks has left me feeling tired, unmotivated, flabby and  gross.  And 165 pounds.  That’s right.  I just publicly announced my weight.  That gives me a BMI of 26.6 (Overweight).

So along with 99.8% of the population, I have committed myself to losing weight in the new year.  One of my goals on the Big Adventure List is to lose 30 lbs by April 24, 2014.  This will put me at 135 lbs and a BMI of 21.8 (Normal) – A very reachable goal in my book.  But it isn’t just about looking good.  It is more about taking control of my health.  I want to eat cleaner.  I want to get out and enjoy nature more without being winded.  I want my joints to feel better.  And yes, I want to look good.

So, my short term goals for this long term challenge are:

  1. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
  2. Bring homemade meals for lunches – No more BajaFresh, 😦
  3. Workout 3-4 times a week (Cardio and strength – Planet Fitness Membership already done!)
  4. Morning yoga / stretching
  5. Multivitamin every morning
  6. Cut back on alcohol consumption
  7. Smaller portions at dinner time and no food after 7:00 pm
  8. Go to sleep by 10:00 pm and get 8 hours of sleep

I’ll be using the SparkPeople and MyFitnessPal tools plus a million othe apps on the iPhone to help me out.  Any other suggestions will also be greatly appreciated!!

Wish me luck!

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Spaaaahhhh!

Every once and a while you need to stop and just relax. It is next to impossible to do that these days with deadlines, phone calls, doctor’s appointments… the list goes on and on.

And nothing makes it harder to relax when you are battling illness.

You may already know about my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis almost a year ago and why I am embarking on this adventure, but what many folks don’t know is that my mother has also been fighting lung cancer for a year as well. As she is a fairly private person, she has kept her illness on the down-low, but I asked if I could share a bit of her story so you can see why a day of relaxation was over due for her.

Almost one year ago to the day, my mom got the bad news that a tumor was in her lower right lung. Being a smoker for so many years, it may have been inevitable, but she has been smoke-free for over 5 years, so it seemed a little unfair. However, she never showed any fear or worry about the diagnosis. From the beginning her attitude was, “Okay, so what’s the next step?”

Well the next step was an intense daily chemo regimen followed by radiation treatment. Throughout the whole process the prognosis was great, the tumor was shrinking and besides some tiredness, her side effects were minimal (and she looked great bald.  So jealous.)

Then in February, she started having a problem with fluid building up in her lungs and had to do a rather painful procedure called a pleurodesis that had her in the hospital for a while. Other than boredom and the occasional annoyance at the nurses, she really was a trooper through the whole situation.

Once she was out, though, it turned out that she needed to go through another round of chemo. Great news to get before Mother’s Day, right?

I knew I wanted to do something special for her, and I kept thinking, “Spa Day.”  I don’t know why, since she has never been crazy about massages and facials. Somehow, though, I just felt that she was holding in a lot of stress and might just be open to the idea.

Then Lesley at Bucket List Publications sent me an awesome email – Spa Sydell would treat us to a Mother / Daughter day at the spa so we could check that off our Bucket List -it was perfect timing all around!

We set up our day on a Sunday morning. It was quiet when we arrived to the Midtown location, and the staff was friendly and very attentive.

First on the menu was an hour long Swedish Massage. We were put in a couples suite, so we could see each other through a window. I had Patricia start on me. She combined a wonderful combination of Swedish Massage, Acupressure and a little deep tissue on my neck. I was definitely a noodle at the end.

Then it was on to our facials. Barbaretta was amazing.  After assessing my skin, she got to work with steaming open my pores while cleansing my face and performing a gentle exfoliation. She also treated me to an additional shoulder, hand and foot massage.  For a moment I thought I was getting a mini-manicure when she placed my hands in plastic baggies, then slipped them into heated mitts. Then I realized that was just her way of letting me not be able to defend myself while she performed pore extraction. Who knew there were so many nerve endings on the tip of one’s nose? Then it was onto a moisturizing mask and she finished off with a soothing face cream. I couldn’t keep from touching my face afterward, it was so smooth!

Then it was on to the mani / pedi. I sat this one out, since the tragic loss of my two large toenails while training for the 50 Mile Carolinas Challenge Walk last spring. My mom got the full treatment and left with her toenails a bright “Cajun Shrimp” color and her fingernails trimmed and buffed to a high shine.

After 3 hours of pampering, we were new people! After a yummy lunch at Zoës Kitchen, we felt ready to tackle the week (chemo for her and Dr.’s appointments and traffic court for me – boo).

The glow we have from our spa day will stay with us for a while, though. Thank you so much Spa Sydell for the wonderful day and thank you as well to Bucket List Publications for making it happen!

               

Spa Sydell Midtown

Hmmm, maybe some shopping after?

Do we have to give the robes back?

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Adventures In Babysitting

In my 20’s, I really wanted to be a mom.  I would be an awesome mom, just like mine.  My kids would be involved in sports, theater, dance – all of the good stuff.

As I moved into my 30’s, though, I started to realize a few things.  One, kids are expensive – especially if you want them to have all you had and more.  Unfortunately, an opera degree and a career at the time in musical theater wasn’t something that lent towards saving for a college fund.  Second, being the youngest of 3 girls, I luckily didn’t have the pressure of producing grandkids, since my parents already had 3, with two more in the works.

When Matthew and I started discussing marriage, he was emphatic that he was good with not having children.  I found that I was okay with that as well.  Many people, including my family, didn’t believe me and it took some convincing that I was completely happy being my nieces’ and nephews’ Favorite Aunt, and doting all my attention on my own Fur-Kids.

Then when I got the diagnosis that I had Multiple Sclerosis, I realized that maybe it was all part of some master plan that I did not have children.  To be a Super Mom, you need tons of energy and patience – two things that I have been struggling with over the past year.

Now, all my friends are having kids, and it is a blast to see them with their babies, so every once in a while I get the “What-If” twinge.

I was in the middle of one of those twinges, then my sister had me watch her 11 and 8-year-old for a week and that twinge quickly was satisfied!

Don’t get me wrong – I love Caroline and Jackson dearly. They really are two of the most well-adjusted, intelligent, funny and talented kids I know.  How did they get this way?  Because these are two of the most involved children I know!  It was a week starting everyday at 6:15 am and going until 10:30, filled with carpools, school projects, talent shows, dance class, soccer and tennis practice, and many, many snacks.

And I got to do it all by myself.  It really was fun, especially getting to see Jackson interact with his school and soccer friends as he had two school shows – Oceans of Fun and Passport to Fun.  I also learned that he has a new obsession with hair gel.  Yes, he is an 8-year-old Zac Effron in training.

And Caroline – how do I describe her?  Imagine a Tasmanian Devil crossed with a baby giraffe, add the intelligence of a future rocket scientist, and then have it talk at about 30 words a second and you start to get the idea.  It was great getting to see her practice her solo and duet for an upcoming dance competition – was this really the girl who just a few years ago was just learning to shuffle ball change?

Needless to say, we ended the week with all limbs attached, no permanent scarring (just some accidental face tattoos, by falling asleep while doing homework) and only one ballet shoe ruined (by Bailey the Wonder-Dog).  We even managed to make waffles, teach Abby how to swim, and play board games!

I however, was exhausted…  Two days later and I’m still needing sleep.  It really was an adventure – plus it gave me an appreciation for all the Super-Moms I know out there!  Now I’m really looking forward to a Spa Day with my Mom to thank her for all she did that I never really appreciated!

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April 2 – Napping…

One of my earliest school memories was my preschool teacher complaining to my mother that I would not take a nap.  All this poor woman wanted was one hour of escape from 4 year old screams and cries – but I wouldn’t give it to her.  I would lie on my mat and talk, or sing, or sneak a book to read.  Why would I waste an hour of my day sleeping when there were so many more fun things to do?

Fast forward 30 some odd years, throw in a chronic illness and a hectic job and you have yourself a woman craving just 15 minutes where she could lay her head on her desk.

Unfortunately, my job does make it difficult to take a catnap midday. There is always someone calling, coming to the door or a tour out that needs some help.  However, I could feel my health suffering because of my fatigue.  I needed to find at least 20 minutes to carve out of my day to just unplug.

So yesterday, I did it!  My first midday nap while at work!  I know it seems simple, but it really did make all the difference.  I locked the door, put a sign out that said “Will return in 15 minutes”, turned off the ringer on the phone and let my guides know to call my cell if there was an emergency.  Then I stretched out on a cot in the back and closed my eyes for 15 blissful minutes.  I was helped out by a handy-dandy app on my phone called Power Nap with Andrew Johnson.  He is a hypnotist with a soothing Scottish accent that had me relaxed instantly and let me feel refreshed and energetic the rest of the day (good thing, since my day went to 8 pm!)

This was a “Thing I’ve Never Done” that is sure to turn into a “Thing I’ll Want to Do Everyday” for sure!  Maybe a move to Spain where the whole city shuts down mid-day is in the cards for me…

 

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