Friday, October 30, 2015

Dear Mom...

Dear Mom...

It's been 46 days since you left this world to be with our heavenly father.  I knew this day would come.  I knew I would have to deal with grief of losing you but it happened so fast..and so not the way I thought it would.  We always thought Dad would go first...and with the length of your mother's life and her siblings...I often thought you would outlive me..

It was not to be.

I have watched others deal with the grief of losing someone they loved and I always thought others handled it with such grace.  I don't feel graceful now.  I feel like I am stumbling through life.  I feel like I can't focus on things for long...I don't sleep and everything reminds me of you.  I walk into the house you shared with my father for decades and I feel like you will appear around the next corner.  I am having a hard time accepting that you are not here.  How could you be gone?  You were just with me in NC and planning a trip to New Orleans.  How could you be an angel now? We were just talking about how it would be great to attend the first wedding of one of your grandchildren.  How can this be ??

And as we as a family go through the house and gather up your things, everything I touch has a memory.  I try to decide what to keep that will help me not lose the memory of you...but its so hard to choose.  I play the moment you left this world over and over in my head and it hurts so much i forget to breath.  Someone told me that losing your mother feels like you are having a heart attack all the time..and that is so very true.  My heart aches. My heart hurts.  My head can not believe you are gone.

We had our moments of utter frustration.  You hated that I loved being a triathlete but you tried so hard to be proud of me.  Your little girl wasn't always into makeup and polished nails...but into getting sweaty, dirty and tired over miles and miles of pavement and water.  This was a life you didn't understand but when I would return from a race, you listened to the details with great attention and loved me regardless.  You would hug me goodbye, give me little notes and we would go shopping because that is what we both enjoyed.

I always wanted to take you to a nice lunch in the mall but every time we went shopping, you wanted Honey Chicken from the little Chinese place in the food court.  Ugh...gross take out Chinese food but you loved it.  So we would share a plate and talk about shoes and clothes and scarves and life.  There were moments I was so frustrated by this..but I would give anything to do that one more time with you...just one more time.

How do I do this Mom? How do I honor your memory? How do I take care of Dad as you did? I am lost...but know that I will do the best I can to be the best citizen of the world because you raised me right.  If only I could have the heart and sweet soul you did.  You were amazing.

Miss miss you more...And I love very much.

Your loving daughter...Your daughter who survived when the others did not..


Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Emotional Roller Coaster ..

Caregiving is a series of small acts of care 
that alter the course of someone's life…

Im very blessed that at almost 52 years of age, I still have 3 of my 4 parents…my mother, my father and my mother in law.  Last October, we said goodbye to my husband's father Robert…and it was one of the toughest things I thought I would ever have to do.

But what is tougher is being helpless in the care of elderly parents.  We all know that the aging process brings slowness of the body, weakness of the mind for some and eventually the end of our days but what sometimes we are not told is how difficult is it to watch a loved one in pain.  

In the last two weeks, my mother and my mother in law have faced some serious health challenges.  My mother is dealing with heart and breathing issues.  My mother in law in the last 5 days has undergone a full knee replacement.  It's been a crazy couple of weeks and I would have given anything to switch places with either one  of them so that they would not have had to endure the pain, discomfort and the general "fear of the unknown" that both of them have had to go through.  Both of them are tough women…both of them have lots of support from their family and friends.  They are blessed beyond measure and, we believe, in the end, both will be in pretty good shape after the procedures that they face.

But at the end of the day, I have come home an emotional mess.  It has been an interesting journey for me to see how food plays a role in stress relief in my life.  For YEARS, I would use food to calm me down….to remove the stress in my life but in reality, it simply just made it worse.  Increased weight and the effects of weight on my body only made things more difficult as the pounds piled on.

Being in Destination Boot Camp and following the State of Slim Program with Anchutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado has taught me that the better way to deal with stress is with a different mind set.  This has not been an easy transition and these two weeks have proven that I have a long way to go to remove food from the list of stress relievers in my life.  

In these two weeks, I have cried a lot and let my emotions out instead of holding them in.  It is almost embarrassing to me to admit that I cried this much.  In my family, we really never showed emotion in this way.  I was taught to never cry in public…to never let the world see you vulnerable. The only way I could find to deal with the emotion was to eat…stuff it down…and keep it hidden.

Writing this blog is just one way I am learning to deal with the emotion and stress of seeing family in pain and being powerless to change the situation.  I have done what I can..hug them…kiss them .. listened to doctors..made doctor's appointment…do daily chores when needed…and cried…a lot.  I hope I don't sound like too much of a mess in all this but I am slowly finding my way in how to take care of me…and take care of those that mean so much to me.  It is a learning process.  I am sure I will trip and stumble in that process but I will get there..and I will be better for it.  Hopefully they will be better as well.

At the 2 month mark from my week of boot camp in Colorado, I have lost almost 22 pounds.  I can wear a pair of size 12 pants that I wore the night before my Ironman attempt in 2013 so I know I am getting close to that magical weight which is the lowest I have ever been in my time since my gastric bypass. If my scale is correct, I have lost 3.5% of body fat in 2 months (those sensors are always kinda iffy) and in my right thigh alone, I have lost almost 2 inches in 2 months.  I am grateful for all of these things but I am especially grateful for the changes in my emotional health and my mind set towards the world.  The work is not completed…but I am moving in the right direction to be a better daughter, a better daughter in law, a better wife, a better friend, a better athlete and a better citizen of the world.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It's not about perfection

Strive for Progress….Not Perfection…

It's a mind set that I have struggled with most of my life.  Things are black….or white.  You either do it RIGHT or not at all.  Perfection is the goal…

But a weight loss goal is NOT about perfection…it's about the journey….and this weekend proved that to me.

I attended the Daly/Maloney/Aaron/Cooley family reunion in Westminster MA. outside Boston over the weekend and it was amazing to see all of Steve's cousins, aunts and uncles.   The irony of the weekend  was that Steve helped plan this reunion but his work schedule kept him from attending.  The magic of technology brought him into the party via FaceTime and Skype…but it was tough to be there without my husband.  All of the family made me feel very welcomed…but it's just not the same when I am not on Steve's arm.

A party such as this calls for celebration and in this Irish family…that means food and drink..and lots of it.  I came to Boston prepared to stay on program with my nutrition…but was overwhelmed by the food choices at the party.  The amazing Cupcakes, New England Clam Chowder (that's "chowdah" for those that need a lesson in the New England accent…like me), French Toast Casserole, snack food and more won the battle that I have been really good at fighting since June 15th and Destination Boot Camp.  I didn't go totally crazy…and I even had an "Indulgence Meal" planned (that is a meal I have once a week that can be literally ANYTHING I WANT)…but even with that…the eating and snack ball was rolling and I found it hard to stop.

The old me would have had a pity party.  I would have told myself that eating off plan was the end of this attempt at losing weight.  If I wasn't PERFECT with my food and nutrition….all hope was lost.

This time…it has been different.

I traveled to North Carolina on Sunday to pick up my car and my dog that my friends had graciously taken care of during my time away and decided that dinner on Sunday was where the "gravy train" stopped.  We ate healthy and got me back on track.  My friend Martha and I talked a lot about my "all or nothing" view of food and weight and nutrition and I learned a lot from this experience.

The irony of all this: I finally lost a good amount of weight when I stepped on the scale this morning and broke though to a total of 19 pounds lost.  I'm not losing weight at a rapid pace…but like in many of my races, I'm not racing the rest of the world…I am racing my best best pace…and my best "me".

This journey has shown me that I have so much to learn about how food affects my life and that the true "progress" of it all is knowing it won't always be perfect.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Food Serenity...

“From food addiction to food serenity - freedom tastes great!” 
― Vera TarmanFood Junkies: The Truth about Food Addiction

Don't say those two words…what will people think of you?? You're NOT a food addict…there is no such thing.

Oh yeah there is….

Everyone has their thing..whether its the glass of wine you have that turns into a bottle as you cook dinner to the person who has to get those 3 hours a day of workout in…all of us have SOMETHING that maaaayyyybe we take to an extreme. Workahlolic, Alcoholic, Meth head or Nicotine freak…the human animal sometimes finds comfort in the "feeling" of overindulgence….

But when you find that path that works to keep your life in balance…..Wow…it's golden…it's special…and you wanna hang on to it for the ride of your life.  It is the ride that can change your life and change the course that you thought was set in stone.

The "me" that writes this now…and the "me" that got on a plane and headed to Denver looking for answers to the ever pressing question "Will I ever get to my goal weight" are two TOTALLY different people.  Can 30 days really make a difference? I can tell you it can..and it has.

I walked into the Anshultz Health and Wellness Center with a spec of hope and a lot of pessimism.  I was at the end of my rope thinking that this weight was just a product of age and genetics.  I figured I would give ONE more thing a shot to help me get to this goal weight that was set years ago but may not be attainable.  I have even had doctors tell me that I should be happy with the huge weight loss that I have maintained for 16 years…but when you are still considered "obese" by the charts and "morbidly obese" for your height, there has to be a way. There is got to be a way to get healthy.

After 30 days…Im still on program.   If you had told me that I would be able to type that 30 days ago..I would have laughed.  I have never been in this position before EVEN after my gastric bypass..I cheated.  But today…I tell you..I am in a very wonderful place and I pray it continues.

Maybe this is suppose to be my time.  Perhaps I hit the "rock bottom" that we hear about in so many recovery programs.  Maybe…just maybe…I found the answer.

I can tell you that yesterday I ran my 65th Triathlon and did incredibly well but the big "success" of my month was the scale is down 16 pounds…and I am still on track…

God is good.  Life is good.  May I be blessed with many more days of this feeling of "Food Serenity"!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hope is alive and well

I opened my blog page with ever intention of writing an update about my experience with Destination Boot Camp in Denver.  I was going to tell you all about the amazing workouts we did (7 minutes of burpees….really??… carrying 1 ton of weight up 3 flights of stairs as a team…OH MY!!) or about the kind, wonderful, inspiring people that I met there both in my group and working for Anschutz Health and Wellness center  (that might require an entire blog entry in itself) but I had a hard time putting my thought to paper.  I would start, stop, change the entry and erase it all and start again.  I have learned in my journaling  that, if that happens, I am not being REAL with what I am posting and I need to search my heart for the real message..

And here it is: Hope is alive and well.

What type of hope?? Well, I entered into this plan with Destination Boot Camp hopeful but a bit cynical.  I mean, hey, at 52 years old, Ive tried a lot of plans to try to get me to my goal weight.  I have had 3 surgeries including an emergency procedure to correct issues related to my gastric bypass…so I am not opposed to thinking outside the box to try to accomplish this goal.  I have to say, this is the first time I have felt real hope in getting this goal accomplished.

So here I sit, starting week 2 at home at 12.5 pounds down from my starting weight.  I have been consistent with my eating and my exercise (although the exercise has never really been a problem) and I feel DIFFERENT!! I feel excited about the possibilities and so hopeful that I have finally found a program that works for me and I can follow.  I feel very blessed to have met the people on my team who have been very supportive in the journey so far and I believe will continue to help me attain my goals.

But the part that amazes me the most is me.  My body reacted to the lack of junk food and the eating clean so fast that it was like a lightbulb flipping on.  My workouts are stronger.  My days at work are easier and I sleep through the night.  To the world this is not a big revelation but to me … to be consistent even for just 2 weeks is a very big deal.

I am also very blessed by my friends here at home who have gotten behind me in attaining these goals.  They know that my husband working overseas has been a tough adjustment and have been so kind to include me in so many things. Most of my friends know how important Ironman is to me…and for months…I wouldn't even talk about it because I thought it would never be possible.  I see the possibilities now….and the early planning has begun… (more on that later down the road).

I have just 17.5 pound left to lose before my doctor will release me for long distance training again.  I think that it will take a lot of time to get to that point but Im trying very hard to enjoy the journey…as always, Ill keep you posted.

As one of my favorite endurance athletes, Diana Nyad always says: ONWARD!!!

Monday, June 1, 2015

One Person…One Year…One Amazing Transformation

I find it amazing how we as a nation are brought in by reality TV.  We watch people who get engaged to people they barely know(and usually break up weeks later), people get MARRIED to people they DON'T know( crazy) and celebrities that film themselves behaving badly and more.  We watch people fight addictions of every type and substance…and people survive in the wild "naked and afraid".

But the show that caught the world by storm (that includes me) was the Biggest Loser.  In it's original seasons, we were fixated on the incredible weight loss…the season finales and the thousands of dollars that people would win for losing weight and "playing the game".

But health, wellness and body weight is not a game…it is a journey and it wasn't until the show "Extreme Weight Loss" came to the screen that I was in awe of some of their transformations.  Don't get me wrong, I know its still a reality show but this show did have a different side: it was based on scientific research at the University of Colorado with trainers that wanted the best for their clients.  It mimicked as much of "real life" as it could to keep the producers happy and kept the weight loss and the resulting skin surgeries that followed real and honest.

Upon the season premiere of this year's installment of transformations, I found myself in a place where no weight loss surgery patient wants to find themselves: depressed, gaining weight and fearing that "this" was all there was.  My knees finally got the gel injections that they needed to continue with my training but in the time I waited for a doctor to listen to me and help me, I gained 15 pounds from my lowest Ironman Florida weight.  My clothes are tight…I feel sluggish in my general work life..and  basically…this is not the person I want to be and I must take responsibility for my lack of discipline.

At the end of Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition, the University of Colorado advertised a boot camp in Denver that mimicked the show without the bright lights and the cameras.  I was intrigued.  I followed the website address and found their program…and also found that it only accepted 30 participants at a time.

So I sent in some info and talked to a representative at the University of Colorado Anschutz Wellness Center.  They gave me the particulars…I gave them mine…and I thought a lot about the possibilities. The program includes a week in Colorado, a transformation coach for the entire year that checks in with me weekly while at home, extensive medical testing and a food program that should help my body get to the weight I need to be to make another attempt at Ironman. It includes an exercise program but as one of their representatives told me over the phone "I think you might have that covered "…

So my hubby and I talked about it. I consulted my trainers Ben and Hector..and I waited for a return call from the Wellness Center.  On Saturday, after a beautiful beach 5k with our friend Melissa S. and my husband, I got the call…Im going to Colorado.

So all I ask of all of you that follow my blog is: pray for me.  I was scared to tell anyone about this decision because I thought I would be judged that I failed yet again at maintaining my weight.  I have had a difficult time transitioning from Ironman training to weight loss training so I hope that this program will do the trick.  So follow along if you like…I will begin to post here again…the good, the bad and the ugly…

One year…one transformation…with the ultimate goal…a healthy body…a healthy weight…and an Ironman Finish.