Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Unintended Consequences

I have been spending a lot of time grieving lately. This is expected. However, I'm surprised by the amount of confusion I have been having over who I am. It's not just that I'm no longer Ron's wife. I'm also no longer his caregiver, a role I had for some time. I am a single mom. I am a single woman. I am the head of my household. What else am I?

I don't exactly need a detailed user guide for who I am right now. It's not that important. However, I have wanted to start my new life out by making good decisions. I am doing my best to do that, but I've had a couple of bad decisions really smack me upside the head lately.

Ben and I are in Montreal. I took Ben swimming in the outdoor, heated swimming pool. He was hesitant, but I convinced him to go. I made a quick decision to put Ben on my back and started to swim. Well, Ben has really grown since I last swam with him on my back. I nearly drowned in 6 feet of water. The lifeguard came in a grabbed me. Someone grabbed Ben. Ben never went under, in fact his hair never got wet, but if I wouldn't have been helped, we both would have been in a lot of trouble. I still don't know exactly what happened, except I went under and couldn't get a full stroke to swim. I got stuck and started taking in water. By time I got back inside, a few people from hotel management were there to care for me. I was extremely embarrassed. Everyone was so kind and gracious. I felt like the worst mom ever. I was hoping to help Ben be less afraid of swimming. I failed...miserably.

My other bad decision is that I did something recently in an effort to protect my heart. I told the truth. (I'm being intentionally vague here.) I took my time making this decision. I thought out what I was going to do. What I did was certainly unusual, but it was well thought out. Well, I thought it was. The truth did not set me free. Instead of protecting my heart, my efforts only ended up smashing my self-esteem to bits. Instead of feeling confident, I ended up feeling undesirable, repulsive, and even freakish. Repulsive is probably the word that's been in my head most. Obviously, I've left a few details out here, but even if I put the whole story into words, it wouldn't be clear. I was there, and I still don't know what happened. I was hoping to protect my heart. I failed...miserably.

This week, I have come to understand just how much I need grace. I've learned how stupid I can be in a quick moment. I've learned how stupid I can be even after having taken time to think things through. I will continue to strive to follow God by praying, studying His Word, and seeking His will. When I screw up, and I will screw up, I will find His grace.

Maybe I can also learn from my mistakes and make a few less of them. That certainly would be a lot less painful than this past week has been.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Grieving

Now that all the services for Ron are over, real grieving has started for me. It's amazing how physical the pain can be. It feels as if my heart is quite literally breaking. Last night, I picked up Ron's jacket and just held it as if it were him. You would have thought it was a scene from a Hallmark movie.

I was prepared for how much I would hurt. I was not prepared for this identity crisis I seem to be going through. I'm now Ron's widow, a single mom, and someone who feels as if chunks of her are missing. My pastor described it this way... It's not as if marriage is like two fists joined together. Instead, it's more like to hands joined together. When one is taken away, the remaining one has all these gaps. That's the way I feel. There are big, scattered holes all over me. Most of those holes will heal with time, but probably not all of them. It's going to take time to figure out who I am without Ron.

Grieving during the Christmas season has it's challenges, but there are also many, many benefits. It's really a good time to experience the miracle of the Savior. Christmas has a way of making me feel closer to God. This is especially true this Christmas. The other thing is that Ben is now officially done with school for the year. We get to spend time together. Being with my son is healing. Ben brings out the best in me, just like his dad did. Plus, Ben and I just have a lot of fun together. We're going to spend a few days in Montreal. We'll have a lot of time together, and I'll get a much desired change of scenery.

I'm looking forward to the day when I start feeling normal again. I hope it's soon.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

In Memory of Ronald James Broach

Ron passed away peacefully last around 7:45pm. I had just gotten back from karate. I was sitting with him and "A Better Way" by downhere was playing in the background. I started telling him a story, and he took his last breath.

Ron and I were not perfect, but we were perfect for each other. He was very romantic. Stories of his proposal to me, of gifts he has bought me, and places he has taken me make woman sigh and men squirm. The man just knew how to make me feel special.

Ron and Ben were perfect for each other too. An uptight Ron would just melt after he spent just a few minutes with his boy. Ben has Ron's particular side, Ron's sense of humor, Ron's ability to have deep, complex, philosophical conversations. Unfortunately, Ben also has Ron's sense of rhythm. :-D

Ron's friends and family know him as an intelligent, caring, generous, dependable and incredibly witty man. Actually, witty doesn't cut it. Ron had a bizarre sense of humor, and this sense of humor helped us through the worst of times.

In Ron's own words, his legacy is his faith. He wanted to be known and remembered as a man of God. In this, I believe he has succeeded. I have no doubts that God greeted him with the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

I will miss you sweetie. I'm not sure I know how to be me without you here, but I will keep you with me. I promise to be the mother to Ben and the woman of God that you would want me to be. I love you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weak Woman--Strong God

I had just dropped off Ben at school. I was on the tollway heading home. The minivan started to make a funny noise. Suddenly there was smoke, and I realized I had blown a tire. Thankfully, I managed to get to the shoulder without hitting anyone.

Many years ago, I knew how to change a tire, but I haven't done that in 20 years, so I didn't trust that I remembered how to do it. Plus, embarrassingly enough, I couldn't figure out where the heck my spare was. (It's underneath the car. Weird.) I went to call someone, but then quickly realized my cell phone was on my counter charging.

That was it. Any strength or sanity I had left quickly vanished. I wept. I sobbed. I just totally crumbled for several minutes. Despair and anger took over. How could this be happening now? Seriously. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN NOW??? My husband is in the hospital dying, my tire blows out, and I have no cell phone? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I had nothing left.

Suddenly, I looked up, and I saw a truck drive by with the name J.C. Germain written in big letters on the side. I immediately thought of Jesus Christ and Jason and Heather Germain. I think you all know who Jesus is, but you may not know Jason and Heather are. Jason Germain is one of the lead singers of my favorite band, downhere. Jason has shared a story during the downhere concerts about a time when he and his wife were going through financial difficulties. They were sharing an old piece of junk car with the other guys in the band. They decided to borrow their manager's car. This car was a piece of junk too. Windows were being held on by duct tape. While they were driving, one of the windows just fell down into the door. Jason's wife, Heather, sobbed. Then the police pulled them over. The police officer asked Heather if Jason was beating her. What a miserable experience for them. My heart breaks every time I hear the story. (Ron and I have been to several downhere concerts, so I've heard the story a few times.)

When I saw the truck drive by with Jason and Heather's name on it, I remembered that story, and suddenly I didn't feel so alone. I remembered who got them through their difficult time. I started listening to a song Jason wrote--Great Are You. I immediately started to calm down. I prayed. I called to J.C. :-) It was nothing fancy. I just handed over the situation to God and asked Him to handle it. As I finished my prayer, I saw a road construction truck drive by and slow down. A couple of workers got out to put up some construction signs. I asked one of them to call someone for me. He was happy to help.

I got back in the car and listened to a few more downhere songs. The pain didn't go away, but I was so comforted, so held. Soon, a tollway truck stopped by. The nice man put on my spare, and I was on my way.

My motto as of late is "Weak woman; strong God." The last few days have been so, so hard. I won't and I can't pretend that the pain and despair isn't overwhelming. It is. I am hurting more than I ever have. Still, I am being cared for by God and by all of you. It's nothing short of amazing, truly amazing.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Voice of Truth

I think I have figured out what has been going on in my head. I have been wondering if God is angry with me. I've been worried that I have ignored His attempts at correcting me. On the other hand, maybe I'm being deceived and these doubts are being used as an attempt to separate me from God. Despite my confusion, I know tonight that I cannot be separated from God. I will continue to ask for His love, beg for His mercy, and accept His redemption. I will pray for discernment.

I'm sitting in the surgery waiting room while I type this. Ron's surgery has gone well, but his lungs have taken quite a beating. Only one lung was working, and it wasn't working very well. The tumors were crushing his windpipe. The doctor is hopeful that this will give Ron some relief.

It's been a long, hard fight, and Ron, Ben, and I are battle fatigued. My baby boy is strong, but he sees what his daddy is going through, and he is scared. We do what we can to comfort him, but he still hurts. He gets a lot of comfort from music. He often goes to bed with his Mark Schultz songbook. (We actually got a picture of Ben asleep using the songbook as a blanket. We printed a big copy of the picture and had Mark sign it. We have one for us and one for Ben. Mark personalized both for us. Plus, we gave Mark a copy. He seemed to really enjoy it.) Ben also really enjoys singing Chris Tomlin music. I wasn't a big Chris Tomlin fan previously, but Ben has really influenced me and we sing Chris Tomlin tunes pretty frequently. Ben was super excited to see Jason Gray in concert. Ben really loves Sing Through Me and New Way to Live. He lost his tooth on the way to the concert and he got to show Jason the bloody spot where his tooth was. How cool for both of them. :-) Ben's favorite song from the new Downhere album seems to be Coming Back Home. Something about hearing my little boy sing "You won't fail me. You won't let me down..." makes me cry, yet is so very comforting.

I'm so thankful we've had the last 2.5 years with Ron. The doctors originally thought he'd only live for six months to a year. Still, it's been such a hard fight. In the last week, we've been to four different hospitals. I'm just so very tired. Sometimes it gets hard to think clearly. I'm still hurting and frightenend, but I will pray for discernment and fight anything and anyone who tries to separate me from my God.

Thanks to all of you who love us and pray for us. We are so grateful.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mark Lee's Summer Reading Program

I joined in on Mark Lee's summer reading program a few months ago. I'm extremely happy with how this turned out. It was just the motivation I needed to pry myself away from the computer and the TV and get my nose into a book. My husband spent more than 30 days in three different hospitals over the summer, and I might have gone a bit nutso if I didn't have this diversion, so I am grateful to Mark for doing this. Well, I still went a bit nutso, but that's OK. ;-) Mark is giving out prizes, so I have been trying to figure out why I deserve a prize. Hmm. Most organized reading list? Person who read the most books while sitting on really uncomfortable chairs? Actually, Mark has already given me two prizes. The reading club was a real blessing to me. I'm so glad I participated. Plus, the new Third Day CD is awesome, so I have enough prizes. I think I owe Mark a prize instead. So Mark, if you read this, what do YOU want for YOUR prize?

Non-Fiction

My non-fiction books focused on fitness. Fitness is practically an obsession of mine now, as I've not been fit for a long time. After losing a chunk of weight and getting my life back, I'm even more driven to be healthy. I'm amazed at what eating better and exercising have done to make me happy. Exercising is my best stress buster, and this has been one heck of a stressful summer.

Body for Life for Women, Dr. Pamela Peeke
I first read this awhile ago, but I've re-read the whole book several times now. This is the book that changed me from a morbidly-obese coach potato to a woman whose lost over 50 lbs and on a typical week walks, runs, boxes, and lifts weights. It's not a big secret, to lose weight you need to eat less and move more. This book gave me the tools to do that. I have a much better understanding of how I think, what motivates me, and how to change my negative habits. This may seem melodramatic, but this book has given me a complete physical rebirth. I am so thankful.

Marathon: You Can Do It, Jeff Galloway
Jeff Galloway teaches people, even people like me, how to run a marathon. The book is easy to read. It doesn't use a lot of hard-to-understand jargon. The basic philosophy is to use walk breaks when you run long distances. I never would have even tried to run long distances, but Jeremy Thiessen (from the band downhere) introduced me to the Galloway method. Even though I'm 60 pounds overweight, I was able to run my first half-marathon a couple of weeks ago. In addition, I'm hoping to complete a marathon this fall. This is a good book for anyone attempting to run a marathon. It has a lot of good information.

Margins: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Richard A. Swenson
I read this first a couple of years ago. I'm re-reading it though because I need to hear these lessons again. This book teaches us to live with margins. It gives practical advice for living with less and being happier.

Runner's World Complete Book of Beginning Running, Amby Burfoot
I should have read this book back in February, when I started running. How helpful it would have been. This is a well-written, well-organized book that not only teaches you running basics, it really helps you stay motivated when you first start a running program. I think it's a great book for someone who is just starting to run, as well as for a person who is still a novice runner, like me. In addition, it has information for walkers who want to make the transition to running.


Fiction

All the fiction books I read ended up being in the "Christian fiction" genre. I didn't plan this, but it just happened. At first, I was going to do some heavy reading and re-read books like Hugo's Les Miserables. However, I was already taxing my brain with doing a lot of heavy-duty medical reading about cancer drug trials. I didn't want reading to be another chore. I just wanted to get lost in stories.

Almost Friends: A Harmony Novel, Phillip Gulley
Almost Friends is a light and quick read. It's not filled with a lot of action or glorious prose, but it's just a thoroughly enjoyable story. The main character, Sam, is a pastor who is somewhat disillusioned with his church. The book follows Sam's story as he is challenged to be the pastor he has been called to be. There are characters in here who remind me of some of the people in my hometown church. Consequently, I laughed out loud as the frustrated pastor tried to deal with some very annoying people. It's a good, fun story to read with a great reminder of love and tolerance.

A Change of Heart, Phillip Gulley
Another book with Sam and his congregation. Light reading, yet thought-provoking. Again, I laughed out loud while reading this book. This book did a good job of making me look at my own heart, my own convictions, and my motivations.

Levi's Will, W. Dale Cramer
Levi's Will follows Will Mullet as he leaves his Amish community as a boy, grows up, goes to war, and has children of his own. The story shows Will struggling to heal the relationship he has with his father, as well as to heal the relationship he has with his son. You can feel Will's pain as he struggles for forgiveness, and you can feel the peace he gains when he starts to truly understand God's love for him. I could not put this book down, and I was so very moved by the essence of God's love, which is so well described in this story.

Thr3e, Ted Dekker
Kevin, a 28-year old seminary student, is pursued by a psychotic man named Slater. Slater threatens to bomb different places if Kevin does not solve a series of riddles and "confess his sins." Kevin cannot understand how Slater knows so much about Kevin's past. Kevin's friend Samantha, and FBI agent Jennifer fight for Kevin's life. This really was a great page-turner. I enjoyed it and do recommend it. However, I have some issues with the way the story ended. There were some things that just didn't make sense. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just warn that you might be slightly disappointed with the ending of the book. Still, I am definitely going to read more of Ted Dekker's books.

Grace in Thine Eyes, Liz Curtis Higgs
This is another book I just couldn't put down. Davina is a 17-year old girl living in Scottland in the 1800's. Up until now, she has had her brothers protecting her from everything and everyone. When she goes away to visit her cousins, several awful things happen to her. This book is not for young kids. Several adult issues are dealt with in this book. The biggest reason that this book appealed to me is that I kept thinking that what was happening to Davina just wasn't fair. It wasn't right. Where was God for Davina? I guess it made me reflect on how I've really been feeling about my own situation lately. I could feel Davina's sadness in my heart, and I was inspired by her courage, her persistence, and her grace. I will read every book in this series.

Found, Karen Kingsbury
This book is another book in a series. I never seem to pick up the first book in the series of any author I read. That's no problem here though. Dayne Matthews, Hollywood superstar, finds his biological family, his one true love, and his faith. However, all three are threatened by mistakes that he has made and other circumstances that are out of his control. It is a good story of persistence and trust. I will read the other books in this series too.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Musings--More Than You Wanted to Know

Just some random thoughts... Some silly... Some serious... A few a bit personal...

I cannot watch The Biggest Loser without crying. I can so relate to their stories.

We went to the Jason Gray/Rush of Fools/Big Daddy Weave concert last Friday. Ben lost his tooth in the car on the way to the concert. In the middle of the concert, he started crying because he's afraid that Daddy is going to die. It was an emotional time for all of us. Still, it was great to go. The music was incredible and the message was very relevant.

We saw downhere last Wednesday. The band was awesome. The audience was awful. Most people were gracious, but a few were really, really rude.

I think downhere's "Hope is Rising" would make a great marching band song. There's lots going on in the song. Plus, I think right after Jeremy's drumroll is the place to have the band turn, face the audience, lift those horns and bring it home. Sigh.

I was arranging "Hope is Rising" as a marching band song while I was in the car. I missed my turn home. Hmmm. Maybe that's because I have no idea how to arrange music.

I like intertwining "Manic Monday" by the Bengals with downhere's "Bleed for This Love." It's a funky little duet I do with Marc.

Marc: Out of solid rock, I made a river.
Lori: Six o'clock already I was just in the middle of a dream.
Marc: To a desert drought, I brought the rain.
Lori: I was kissing Valentino by a crystal-blue Italian stream.

I think Marc would be a lot of fun to sing and dance with. I don't sing all that well, and I definitely don't dance, but if I had to pick someone to sing and dance with, it would be him. Well, except, you know, I'd be way to shy to actually ever sing or dance in front of Marc.

OK, actually, the person I most want to sing and dance with is Ben, but Marc comes in 2nd.

What about Ron? Well, Ron's not a singing and dancing kind of guy, but he'll slow dance with me on occasion.

I may end up dancing with Ron on Saturday. We're going to his 20-year high school reunion. Yes, I'm a cradle-robber. Actually, I'm only 4 years older than Ron. This is the year for my 20-year college reunion. We're not going to my reunion.

I bought a little black dress for the reunion. I have never owned a little black dress. Although I'm still pretty chunky, it's actually a flattering dress, despite being little. Let's hope I don't hyperventilate when I wear it in public.

I was at Target and found a cute pink polka-dot bra at a nice price. When I checked out, I purposely chose the 50-something female cashier. You know what happens next. The teenage guy opens the register next to me and waves me over. When he picked up the pink bra and stumbled for the tag, my face suddenly was the same color as the bra. There was no real reason for me to be embarrassed, but I was anyway.

That reminds me of an embarrassing check out from years ago. I bought an ovulation prediction device. It's basically a big box that screams I'm going to have sex with my husband and try to make a baby. The teenage boy ringing me up pointed out that it was $20 off with my frequent shopper card. I didn't have my card. He swiped his. The marketing people had to have been scratching their heads over a teenage boy buying something like that.

For the record, the embarrassment was worth it. The kit worked. Now we have Ben. :-)

I'm thinking that's more than anyone ever wanted to know about me, so I'll stop here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Too many emotions

I struggle today with emotions that have just come flooding through since I admitted to myself (and you) the doubts I have. It started Sunday night/Monday morning when Ron woke up at about 3am and was disoriented. He started to feed the dogs. His disorientation may have been caused by medication, or it may have been caused by cancer progressing to his brain. We just don't know. I just lost it. I couldn't sleep after that.

I remember when my grandmother was dying. The last time I saw her, I was about 11, she pleaded with me to get a gun and kill her. I remember hugging my dad for the last time when I was 5. He died in the hospital, so I didn't see him struggle. I was 26 when my step-father died. He died at home. I wasn't living there, but I cam home when I could to help my mom. I am the one who walked into his room and discovered that he had died. He was 6'2". He weighed about 80lbs when he died. I remember his agony.

I understand that death is a part of life. I understand that everyone goes through sorrow and despair. However, I am still afraid. Is God punishing me? Is He disciplining me? Am I surrounding myself with love to the extent that I'm ignoring His message to me?

At about 4:30am, Monday morning, I removed my Facebook account and downhere account. I didn't mean to do anything so melodramatic. I didn't realize my posts on the downhere board would change, and I didn't think anyone would notice the Facebook thing. I just didn't want to be influenced by outside thoughts. Plus, I knew my doubts and bitterness were about to come spewing out. I didn't want to risk my posting something stupid on the downhere boards, especially with a new album coming out for them and the potential for a lot of new people to join the boards. I figured limiting my outbursts to my own blog was prudent.

The kind of funny thing about all of this is that I picked the worst week to try and remove Christian music from my life. Jason Gray just released his new album. Downhere's album came out Tuesday. We had plans to see Downhere in Decatur on Wednesday and Jason Gray tonight. Skipping Jason's concert isn't an option. It's just a few minutes away, and we promised Ben. I had planned on skipping the Downhere concert. We weren't taking Ben since it was 3 hours away and on a school night. However, Ron wanted to go, so we did.

I did enjoy the Downhere concert. There is no way to listen to their music and not feel closer to God. It's just impossible for me to do. I felt bad for the guys though. It was a rough crowd. It was mainly a youth group event, and a lot of the kids were just really, really rude. So many people were moved by the music, but a few jerks made it difficult for everyone else to enjoy themselves. I found out after the show that one kid heckled Jason the entire show. Wow.

I really enjoyed seeing everyone after the show, but felt guilty as I knew I was holding back a big secret. What was I supposed to say? "Great show. Great new album. I'm not sure I believe the Gospel anymore. Have a good evening. Drive safely." Doesn't quite work, does it?

So, today, I'm not isolating myself as much as I had planned. I've listened to Ending is Beginning a lot. Although I have had plenty of opportunity to listen to the album, I had never heard Hope is Rising until Tuesday night. Ron was reading the lyrics on the album and told me that there was a song that I really needed to hear. Wow. I am so blown away by how Jason so eloquently writes what is on my heart. I've joked about this before. I think I deserve a writing credit!!! ;-) Seriously though, how appropriate is this song...

"I've lost all my earthly optimism
That it's going to be alright
That the good will win this fight....

The dream became despair
The love became a lie

Just now, I've reached the end of my line
Just now, I'm too tired to keep on trying"

I'm amazed at how precisely Jason has captured my despair. It's nothing short of amazing.

Now, I suppose, all I need to do is find the hope.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Is The Gospel True?

That's the question that goes through my head today. Is it true? Is the love for real? I just don't know. Is it all just a big lie? I can't pretend anymore. I can't put on a big "C" on my chest and play Christian cheerleader. Everything is not OK. It's not going to be OK. I'm too tired for the facade. The doubts have just come crashing though. My grandfather died when my mother was 6. My dad died when I was 5. My son is 5 and... My pastor says this is merely a coincidence. I call it some kind of curse.

I think about the Old Testament. I see the suffering. I see the anger and punishment that God displays. How can I believe in both the Old Testament and the New Testament? How can God be the God of both? If God is angry at me, how will I know if I declare with blind optimism declare that He loves me? Maybe He is trying to discipline me, but I have been defiantly putting my fingers in my ears while singing my nice Christian songs.

God is good. I am not. Is there grace? Is there hope? I don't know. If there is, I can't find it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Does God Love Me? Not So Much

It was a rough night. I didn't get much sleep. This morning, I have been thinking about whether God loves me. My answer? No. If He does, He is awfully angry with me. I can't pretend anymore. I can't ignore the pain in my heart that tells me that He abandoned me some time ago. So, I'm shutting down some of the outside world. No more church. No more CCM. No more Facebook, Twitter, downhere boards, etc. Just me, God, and the Bible. We'll see if He has any mercy or grace for me. I doubt it. I think there just comes a time where a person is too blanketed by sin to be redeemed. God has shut the door on me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

BFLFW--Principle 3: Joy Yourself

Leave it to me to take weeks to figure out how to post about joy. You can see this is a problem for me. Actually, it's something my husband and I have talked about quite frequently lately. What gives us joy? What makes us happy? Honestly, that's been hard to answer lately.

I think one of the phases you go through when facing terminal illness is a time where you just shut off your feelings to everything. Ron was told he was terminally ill when he was first diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, he's survived longer than anyone thought possible. However, it's also meant we've had to deal with the ups and downs of this for 2.5 years. This summer, Ron was in the hospital for approximately 30 days. It got to the point that I didn't know if he would survive or not. I think after being overwhelmed by fear, sadness, anger, biterness, etc., everything just shut down.

I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I think it gives my mind and body a break from all the drama. However, it does make joy elusive. What gives me joy? Not much.

I haven't completely turned into a robot though, so a few things have snuck into my heart and allowed me to feel something. KLOVE played the song "Here I Am" by my favorite band, downhere. Then, Jon Rivers announced that the guys were going to perform a few songs on KLOVE on September 23rd--the day their new album comes out. That news made me break down and cry. I had sent a message to Jon Rivers about downhere. I prayed that they would be on KLOVE, and now they are. Plus, their song is one of Jon Rivers "future favorites" on 20 The Countdown Magazine. I'm just thrilled.

Also on the music scene, Jason Gray's new album is out. I just downloaded it today and haven't listened to it yet, but I love New Way to Live. It's such a great song and so powerful for me. I've waited for a long time for this song to be released. I'm very thrilled to finally have it.

I've also been spending time running. I love to run. I really love to cross finish lines, so I race. I really enjoy weightlifting. I don't know why, but I do. I now have awesome biceps and triceps. (The bottom part of my arm is still flabby, but I'm getting better.) Sometimes lately, running and lifting seem more like chores instead of joy, but I'm still doing them. They are both good activities for my physical and emotional health, so I'm going to keep doing them even when I don't really feel like it. I don't debate about whether or not I'm going to bathe or brush my teeth. I no longer debate about exercising. I just do it. I'll talk more about that next week.

Spending time with friends is also such a joyful activity, but something I've not made the time to do lately. My friends can turn my mood around so easily. Why do I not do a better job to make time for them?

Simple things like reading a book or magazine, having a small piece of chocolate, singing with the radio in the car, petting my dogs, etc. Things things also bring me joy.

My son has been doing imitiations of cartoon characters lately. He's actually pretty good. Sometimes he has Ron and I falling about ourselves laughing. For 5 years old, the boy has an incredibly sense of humor. Ben brings me a lot of joy.

My husband brings me joy. A few days ago we celebrated our 8th anniversary. We had a real date. We went to a fancy restaurant and saw a musical. It was a very romantic evening. I just loved being with him. Sometimes it's difficult to let my husband bring me joy. It's easy for my heart to start closing off to him. It's easy to push him away. I honestly cannot fathom losing him, but something deep inside me is just so afraid. That's why it's hard to let myself experience joy from him. It's difficult to stay so vulnerable. Sometimes it's easier to harden my heart and shut off the love I have for him. It just doesn't work though. I love him too much, and that love just can't be shut out. It just comes gushing through. When that love comes through, sometimes the other emotions find me too. That's alright. I'll deal with each one as it comes.

So, what does joy have to do with weight loss? Well, I think when you have real joy in your life, you don't need to keep trying to make yourself happy with temporary pleasures, such as eating junk food. Having real joy in your life doesn't guarantee perfect eating. If it did, there'd only be one principle in this program and the book would be really short. :-) Finding what gives you joy just helps you understand you better, and that is really what this is all about.

Next week, and I do mean next week, I'm going to write about Getting the Job Done.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

BFLFW--Principle 2: Find Your Motivational Bulls-Eye

Principle 2 in the book deals with finding what really motivates you. It makes you dig deep and figure out why you want to lose weight and what is going help you fight the 4pm fight against the Oreo cookies.

Dr. Peeke suggests that you start with your Global Motivations. These are your general reasons for wanting to get fit. These generally fall into categories such as health, appearance, psychology, performancy, and relationships.

My Global Motivations have pretty much stayed the same since I started this program:

  • To be healthy and prevent disease
  • To look good in clothes
  • To have more energy

This is a great foundation, but it's generally not enough to get you through the tough parts of your day. What you need to do next is to figure out why you want to change. This next level is the Target Motivations. You need to dig deep for these, and they should be personal. Here are mine from the first time I went through the exercise:

  • I am tired of the pain.
  • I am tired of being tired all the time.
  • I am sick of frumpy clothes.

The next step is to identify each Target Motivation and put a run to/from mantra for each one. OK. I admit it. This seemed way too weird for me at first. Still, I did it. You know what? It worked. It really worked. This is the step that made the absolute biggest difference in my life. This is what gave me the ammuntition to fight the 9pm munchies. This what gave me the power to get back into the gym. Here are my latest motivations and mantras.

FIRST RING
Motivation:
To honor God in what I do.

Mantra:
Run from the limited power of myself; run to the limitlessness of God.

SECOND RING
Motivation:
To love and honor myself.

Mantra:
Stop neglecting my body, my spirit, and my mind. Understand that I deserve to be healthy and that I do have the discipline to truly take care of myself.

THIRD RING
Motivation:
To be a great wife and a great mom.

Mantra:
Stop abandoning Ron and Ben; run to loving them. Ron needs a wife who can stand with him and FIGHT. Ben needs a mom to help him grow to be healthy He needs a mom who has the energy to run, jump, and play.

FOURTH RING
Motivation:
Look good in jeans, a belt, and a tucked-in button–down white shirt
Look good in running clothes

Mantra:
Run from frumpy, dumpy big shirts; run to fitted white shirt
Run from oversized t-shirts

FIFTH RING
Motivation:
Run a marathon.
Run a 34-minute 5K

Mantra:
Run from being an invalid; run to being an athlete

Remember, these motivations are personal. What is it that you really, really want? Even if it seems goofy, try doing this exercise. Don't just think the answers. Write them down. Look at them from time to time. I hope this principle is as helpful to you as it was to me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

BFLFW--Principle 1: Embrace Adversity

This is the second post of the series "Body for Life for Women" by Dr. Pamela Peeke. If you want to catch up, you can read the first post in the series, but it doesn't really say much.

Principle 1 in the book is Embrace Adversity. You are going to change your life over the next twelve weeks. There are going to be obstacles, and you are going to overcome them. Dr. Peeke explains it better than I can. "Anticipate that there will be obstacles in your path. Then, when you meet up with them--and it's not a matter of if, but when--you'll greet them as opportunities to sharpen your skills at keeping your self-care on track. Instead of getting frustrated by those obstacles, embrace them. Remember that in the midst of difficulty lies opportunity. Identify the opportunity to allow adversity to make you a stronger, wiser woman. " The rest of the principles will give you the tools to do this.

The first principle in the book asks you to sign a contract with yourself. This contract basically says that for the next twelve weeks, you are make your physical well-being a priority. It doesn't mean that for the next twelve weeks, you are going to obsess about everything you eat and exercise like a mad woman. For the next twelve weeks, you are going to focus on getting healthier.

The first time I did this, I used the exact contract from Dr. Peeke's book. Every twelve weeks since then, I've tweeked it a bit. My latest contract was short and sweet and didn't say much at all. I think it's because I was really tired of fighting this seemingly unending plateau. For almost three months, my weight stayed about the same. It was frustrating for me, because I was exercising a lot. However, I wasn't doing as well with eating. For me, I needed to just get back to the basics--eat less junk and move more. My latest contract reflects my simple needs. Honestly, though, my last contract didn't work well at all. It had a lot of measurable goals, including how many fruits and veggies I'd eat, how much weight I'd lose, etc. I generally like measurable goals. In this case, however, it just didn't address what I really needed to work on, which is my attitude. So, I'm returning to my roots. I'm skipping over the measureable goals and going back to working on my attitude.

Date: August 22, 2008I, Lori S. Broach, commit to starting my Body-For-Life for Women on Friday, August 22, 2008, completing this 12-week weight removal segment on November 14, 2008.

I believe that I can accept and complete my challenge to the best of my ability. I realize this is work and accept the self-care price I must pay to achieve my mental and physical transformation.

I will continue to:
  • practice the 10 Power-Mind principles to help me stay the course
  • pursuing progress, not perfection, in my eating and training
  • take my mini-chills and strive to become a master regrouper
  • be self-assertive and fight for the right to take care of myself

I will work harder at:

  • not ruminating, bitching, moaning, whining
  • keeping my daily Mind-Mouth-Muscle journal
  • expect and adapt to adversity and embrace tough times as learning opportunities
  • eating at least two veggies and two fruits daily
  • finding joy to neutralize my stress
  • acknowledging and rewarding myself for my achievements along the way

By completing the Challenge, I signify honor and respect for myself, and affirm that I deserve health, happiness, and joy.

What is the right contract for you? I don't know. Write what moves you. Write what you want from the next twelve weeks. My contract reminds me to continue doing the steps that I do well, while challenging me to work harder on things I'm struggling to do.

Next week, I'll post on Principle 2: Find Your Motivational "Bull's-Eye." It's a very powerful principle.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Fitness Friday--The Inaugural Post

Starting today, I'm going to post about fitness on Fridays. Fitness is a big deal for me these days, and I want to share my journey.

The next several Fridays, I am going to write about the book Body for Life for Women. I've lost 55 pounds because of following this book. It's helped me transform the way I think about losing weight.

The book has 10 principles. I'm going to dedicate one Friday to each principle.

Next week, I'll start with principle 1. If you are on a quest for fitness, please join me.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Here I Am, Lord Send Me

Today, I am blogging for the 40-Day Fast. Today is also Brody Harper's day to blog for the 40-Day Fast. Please check out his blog too.

I was very excited when I first read about the 40-Day Fast opportunity. I figured it was a great way for me to finally do something for someone else for a change. I signed up and eagerly waited for the Fast to begin. However, as the start day approached, I began to get nervous about being the right person for the job.

On day one, when Brant Hansen blogged about Compassion International, I really started to regret my decision to participate. On one hand, here's Brant who has first-hand experience serving those in extreme poverty. If you look at his picture on his blog, you see a tough, rugged guy who looks like he could dig a well single-handedly with his Swiss Army Knife.

On the other hand, there's me. I'm a soccer mom who is afraid of bugs. Actually, phobic is much more accurate. On day one of the Fast, I was talking with my husband on the phone and filling him in on the day's events. My son and I found a firefly outside of our window. We took some really nice close-up shots of it. My husband was thrilled and congratulated me on my bravery of getting so close to a bug. No, he wasn't being sarcastic. So there it is. Brant visits the slums of Nairobi. I'm cautiously approaching a firefly on the outside of my window.

It's not just my ridiculous phobia of bugs that made me question my appropriateness for the Fast. Since my husband was diagnosed with cancer, we don't do much in the way of service projects. We are the service project. Thankfully, we have had many, many people help us fight this battle over the last two years. It has been a blessing. Still, sometimes we've wondered if we have anything left to contribute, or if we have become the leeches of our congregation.

Recently, the band downhere released their latest single, "Here I Am." This song speaks of being an offering to God. It's a song I am moved by more and more every time I hear it. Here is a small sample of the lyrics.

"When setbacks and failures, and upset plans,
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands,
Are you not the closest when it's hardest to stand?
I know that you will finish what you began...

Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness,
And the fear that I'll fail you in the end,
In this mess, I'm just one of the pieces,
I can't put this together but you can."

You can see the full lyrics and hear the song at Jeremy Thiessen's blog. This song reminds me that God knows the struggles I have been through and despite my brokenness, He can use me.

I got to see this song performed live at a music festival called Lifest and spoke to the downhere guys after the show. I shared with Jason Germain, the guy who wrote the song, how powerful the lyrics were to me. Jason reminded me that even Jesus took a break here and there. He reminded me of the story of Jesus on the boat with his disciples. A terrible storm hit. Where was Jesus? Sleeping. Jason suggested that this was my season to rest. I walked away from Jason knowing that God could use me, that God would use me, but that God was also going to give me some rest.

Today, I interrupt my rest to fast and to try and make a small difference in the life of someone else. I attend a United Methodist Church. Big denominations have big money and big responsibilities. What do United Methodists do well? We host potluck dinners. Besides that? We are good at putting together relief supplies. We have it down to a science. There are a number of "kits" we assemble in a way that makes them usable to a great number of people while also following the strict rules that often govern product entry into other countries. I am joining the United Methodist Committee on Relief to build health kits. My family and I are going to assemble a few ourselves. There is a traveling children's choir from Africa visiting the area. I will join with others in our community, build some health kits, and send them home with the children.

Today I ask for your prayers for me, my family, and people like us who sometimes feel too small to help when there is such great need. If we trust that God can overcome our weaknesses, He can and will.

"Little is much when God's in it.
He changes the world with the seeds we sow."
-downhere

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Downhere at Lifest

Ron and I are at Lifest. Well, we're currently at our hotel taking a break, but we're in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for Lifest. We got here yesterday and quickly went to the festival. We patiently waited for our favorite band to take the stage. It started to rain. It wasn't bad at first, so we just covered up and decided to wait it out. However, then it started to really storm. We decided to get cover, but that wasn't easy. Ron is using a wheel chair for the festival. He can walk, but he gets tired quickly, and festivals generally require a lot of walking. Anyway, pushing a wheel chair on wet grass isn't easy. Thankfully, as I got to a road, a nice man helped us get to shelter. We waited in the media tent. Then some volunteers let us wait in their trailer and gave us coffee.

When the storms let up, everyone around us figured we would just pack it in and go back to our hotel. I'm guessing we looked as cold and tired as we felt. They were surprised when we said that we were staying. Truthfully, I was quite ready to leave, but I knew the next band on stage was going to be downhere, and that was motivation enough for me to stay.

The guys played a shorter set because everything was pushed back because of the storm. Still, they were awesome. I loved hearing their new single "Here I Am", which has kind of become my theme-song for the 40-Day Fast. We got to talk with the guys after the show, and as usual, they were very kind and supportive.

I've been following contemporary Christian music on and off for a long time. It's amazing how much God has spoken to me through this one band. I told Jason Germain that I thought God let him listen to my prayers and that's how he came up with songs. I told him that I didn't know whether to thank him or start asking for a writing credit on the next album. OK, that's really corny, I know, but that's how it feels to me. Such great music. Such great guys.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Which Third Day CD Should I Buy?

As of today, I'm officially a Third Day fan. Before this, I really didn't consider myself a fan. I didn't dislike the group. I just didn't really know their music. That has changed though.

Most people become fans of a band and then check out their blogs. Not me. I was on the blog of Downhere band member Glenn Lavender where I found a link to Mark Lee's blog. It said "This Guy Falls Down." I thought that was a really great title for a blog, so I took a look. I followed it here and there. When Mark posted that he was a fan of the Sammy Hagar years of Van Halen, I knew I liked this guy. I now not only follow his blog, I follow his Twitter feed (very funny), and I joined his summer reading club. Getting to know Mark online has been very educational for me. Eventually, I felt weird following his blog but not knowing his music, so I looked into it.

OK. I had heard of Third Day, but I just couldn't name any of their songs. OK, OK. I admit. I knew one of their songs. I didn't like it, so I didn't think I was a Third Day fan. (No, I'm not going to say which song I don't like.) Once I started paying attention, I realized that there are a ton of Third Day songs I really like. "Cry Out to Jesus", "Show Me Your Glory", "I've Always Loved You", the "Creed" remaket, etc. Mac Powell is really easy to pick out on the radio, so I don't know why I didn't figure out I was a Third Day fan a long time ago.

Well, I need to make up for lost time, so I am going to pick up one of their CDs. The question is, which one? I already downloaded "Call My Name" on iTunes. I blogged about that song earlier too. I could wait for Revelation to come out, but I'm not really a patient person. So, if you have a suggestion as to which CD to buy, let me know. If you are a not a Third Day fan, I encourage you to check out their music. It's good stuff. I wish I would have figured that out a long time ago. :-)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dwelling in the House of Self Pity

The last 24 hours have been strange for me. My emotions are all over the place. What a roller-coaster ride. Well, here's the story...

Yesterday, I was at home with my mom and my son. My husband was still in the hospital finishing up this round of chemo. I was tired, since I had stayed with Ron at the hospital the last few nights and hadn't gotten much sleep. I was sitting right here on the couch, where I am right now, when my Dachshund, Xena, came to share my lap with my 2-day old Sony Vaio. All of a sudden, Xena puked. Thankfully, I moved the computer just in time. However, what was all down my leg was regurgitated poop. Yup. The dog ate poop and barfed it up in my lap and all down my leg. Puke is bad. Regurgitated poop has a smell so awful it nearly makes me woozy.

I cleaned up the couch and floor, through my clothes in the washer, and took a shower. Considering the sheer volume of puke on and around me, I thought Xena was done. Nope. When I got out of the shower, she had left me two piles of regurgitated poop in my room. Swell. I just started to freak out. After nearly hyperventilating, I just got down on the floor and cleaned the mess. As I scrubbed the carpet, I started feeling as if things just couldn't get much worse. How could God let my dog puke poop all over me and my bedroom while my husband was in the hospital fighting cancer? How much more crap (pun intended) can I take?

When I was done with all that, my mom had dinner ready for us. I sat down at the table and took a deep breath. I really could have cried at that moment, but I felt blessed to have food on the table, especially good food that I didn't cook. Right before Xena had puked on me, I was looking at the 40-Day Fast and checking out where my name was on the schedule. People all over the world go to sleep without having enough food. It is mind-boggling to me. It is positively heart-breaking to me. I realized that I needed to stop being such a drama queen over puke. Most people in the world have a much rougher life than I do. At that moment I looked up at my mom, and she and I just laughed.

This morning, I woke up early to run a 5-mile race. I was nervous, because I've run 5K races, but this was my first 5-mile race. You get all levels of runners/walkers at 5Ks, but 5-mile races tend to attract more serious runners. My run went beautifully though, and I beat the goal time I had set for myself by 4 minutes. I was one of the last people to finish, but it was just an incredible feeling. It was very emotional for me also, because on this date last year, I weighed the most I have ever weighed in my life, not including during pregnancy. Last year on this date, I was morbidly obese, had high cholesterol, and was pre-diabetic. Today, I'm 55 pounds lighter, I run, lift weights, box, take karate, and in general, I'm just more active. I play WITH my son instead of just watch him. I'm so thankful for the second chance I've been given. I have been able to lose weight by finally seeing healthy eating and exercise as a gift, and not as a punishment that I should resent.

Tonight, I finally have some peace. Ron is still in the hospital, because the chemo has caused some problems with his kidneys. I am still stressed, but yet I'm still OK. Things are tough, but so am I. Things have been hard for us, but so much harder for so many others. Through it all I just try to remember that God is good, and that He loves us.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Planned Spontaneity

Kat, from The Secret Life of Kat, asked her readers about their summer plans. Here are my thoughts...

It's important to us that Ben has a good summer. It's hard though, because being in the middle of a cancer fight doesn't make it easy to make plans. However, when we don't make plans, too often we end up still in our pajamas in the middle of the afternoon watching way too much TV. We only have one child, so I think this makes things easier for us then for others. Here's what we have done to help Ben have a good summer.

1. We asked Ben what he wanted to do this summer and started a list. He has definite ideas of what he wants to do this summer.

2. We signed up for the summer reading program at our library. Ben is so excited by this. He's read a ton already. I also signed up for the library's summer program, plus I'm participating in Mark Lee's summer reading program.

3. We have signed up Ben for a couple of things through our park district. Our park district has some really cool, inexpensive programs.

4. We are trying to plan our bigger adventures (e.g. a trip to the zoo) during the time that Ron is off chemo and after he's had some time to recover. However, we also know that we have to be flexible.

5. We leave plenty of time to be spontaneous. Sometimes the football calls, and we just have to go outside and play. Other times, we just go to the park.

6. I am not a very good cook at all. I'm trying to work on this. For now, I go to a place called Dinner by Design and create some meals in advance for our family and stick them in the freezer. This helps us avoid a ton of fast-food dining. Some people could easily prepare meals in advance all on their own, but I'm not there yet. Plus, when we are really lacking in time because of doctor appointments, someone from church will go to Dinner by Design and make the food for me.

Summer Reading List

I've decided to join Mark Lee's Summer Reading Club. I'll be spending a substantial amount of time in the hospital with Ron, so this will get me to spend some of my time constructively, instead of several hours of mindless time online. Plus, Ben joined the library's summer reading program and is very psyched about it, so I joined the library's reading program too.
Here are a list of the books I'm going to read. As I read a book, I will write a short review.

Week 1:

Body for Life for Women, Dr. Pamela Peeke
OK. I'm cheating here a bit. I first read this awhile ago, but I've re-read the whole book several times now. This is the book that changed me from a morbidly-obese coach potato to a woman whose lost over 50 lbs and on a typical week walks, runs, boxes, and lifts weights. It's not a big secret, to lose weight you need to eat less and move more. This book gave me the tools to do that. I have a much better understanding of how I think, what motivates me, and how to change my negative habits. This may seem melodramatic, but this book has given me a complete physical rebirth. I am so thankful.

Margins: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Richard A. Swenson
Yeah, I'm cheating here too. I read this first a couple of years ago. I'm re-reading it though because I need to hear these lessons again. This book teaches us to live with margins. It gives practical advice for living with less and being happier. I'll write more about this when I finish re-reading it.

Week 2:

Almost Friends: A Harmony Novel, Phillip Gulley
This book and the next two in my list are Christian fiction novels that were on a recommended list at my local library. I'd never checked out Christian fiction, so I was intrigued. Almost Friends is a light and quick read. It's not filled with a lot of action or glorious prose, but it's just a thoroughly enjoyable story. The main character, Sam, is a pastor who is somewhat disillusioned with his church. The book follows Sam's story as he is challenged to be the pastor he has been called to be. There are characters in here who remind me of some of the people in my hometown church. Consequently, I laughed out loud as the frustrated pastor tried to deal with some very annoying people. It's a good, fun story to read with a great reminder of love and tolerance.

Levi's Will, W. Dale Cramer
Levi's Will follows Will Mullet as he leaves his Amish community as a boy, grows up, goes to war, and has children of his own. The story shows Will struggling to heal the relationship he has with his father, as well as to heal the relationship he has with his son. You can feel Will's pain as he struggles for forgiveness, and you can feel the peace he gains when he starts to truly understand God's love for him. I could not put this book down, and I was so very moved by the essence of God's love, which is so well described in this story.

Thr3e, Ted Dekker
Kevin, a 28-year old seminary student, is pursued by a psychotic man named Slater. Slater threatens to bomb different places if Kevin does not solve a series of riddles and "confess his sins." Kevin cannot understand how Slater knows so much about Kevin's past. Kevin's friend Samantha, and FBI agent Jennifer fight for Kevin's life. This really was a great page-turner. I enjoyed it and do recommend it. However, I have some issues with the way the story ended. There were some things that just didn't make sense. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just warn that you might be slightly disappointed with the ending of the book.

Week 3:

Runner's World Complete Book of Beginning Running, Amby Burfoot
Review coming soon

Grace in Thine Eyes, Liz Curtis Higgs
Review coming soon

Found, Karen Kingsbury
Review coming soon

Call My Name

I've had a lot of difficulty praying lately. I just don't know what I should say. I've been praying to God regularly for nearly 30 years, so this is unusual for me. I don't know what to ask of Him.

I know I should be praying for strength and not asking for things to be easier. I could ask God for strength, but it would be incredibly insincere, and He and I would both know it. (However, I do positively love having other people pray for strength for me.) What I want is for this to be easier.

I'm at the hospital with Ron right now. The biochemotherapy that he is receiving is so toxic that there are special rules in place for handling it. Everyone needs to wear special thick gloves to handle the IV bags. Ron needs to flush twice everytime he goes to the bathroom. Anything that comes in contact with his body fluid needs to be specially decontaminated. All of these rules are in place because the drugs are so nasty, and that's being injected into his body.

He has a port, a PICC line, and still needs to get a shot in his abdomen every day. Over the last two days, he's suffered through vomiting, diarrhea, severe chills (rigors), fevers, extreme exhaustion, etc. We've only been in the hospital for two days. We have four more days to go.

We've been battling this cancer for over two years. This is a blessing, as the doctors originally gave Ron six to nine months to live. I am truly thankful. It has been a long battle though, and we are both so tired.

I was in the car the other day struggling with what to say to God. I'm so tired, angry, depressed, and frightened. I have turned my back on God and have become too comfortable in my own sin. I don't know what to say to God. I don't know if I even have the right to ask him for anything since I have been so disobedient. I am sometimes so sad, I just can't even get out the words that I do have.

While I was thinking about this in the car, Third Day's "Call My Name" came on the radio. I really love this song, although I need to learn the words. I tend to "sing" the guitar part. Somewhere, Mark Lee is getting unexplained headaches every time I hear this song. :-) Call My Name and I'll be there. That's what I need to do, isn't it. Just call His name. That's what I did, that very moment in the car. Despite my shortcomings and the distance I had put between us, I could feel Him. I could feel His very presence. I could feel warmth on my shoulders. It is difficult to describe. It is amazing to be so undeserving, to fall so short, but yet to still be loved by God.

Oddly enough, I'm not really a Third Day fan, even though I've been following Mark Lee's blog for some time. It's not that I don't like their music, I just don't really know it. They are a pretty well-known band, so it's strange that I don't know their music. I think that's going to change soon, as I really, really, really want their new album Revelation.

Here are the lyrics from Call My Name...

"Bung a bung bung. Bung a bung bung. Bunga bung.
Whing a whing whing. Whing a whing whing. Whing Whing."

Well, that's the guitar part. :-)

Here are the lyrics: http://www.klove.com/lyrics/lyrics.asp?2805

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Rules I Break and Why

In my last post, I wrote about striving for progress and not perfection in my quest for healthy eating. In that post, I pointed out that I purposely break a rule commonly followed by people who eat healthy… I don’t eat 4-6 small meals a day. I realize that I break several standard healthy eating/exercise rules, so I thought I’d tell you which ones I break, and why.

Rule Broken: I don’t eat several small meals a day.

Why: OK, I covered this pretty well in my last post, but I’m going to add more here. I tried doing this several times. I really hated it. I was grazing all day, my mind was constantly on food, I never felt full, and I never enjoyed what I would consider a real meal.

My Alternative: I have at least one big meal a day. I aim to keep in a certain calorie range. How I divide those calories usually depends on the day. Most days though, I get at least one big meal.

Rule Broken: I don’t go to exercise classes.

Why: I don’t enjoy doing things in big groups. When I stopped trying to force myself to take group exercise classes, exercise became a lot more fun.

My Alternative: I workout by myself, with my husband, or with my personal trainer. Sometimes I run a 5K with a friend or two.

Rule Broken: I don’t have the stereotypical supportive trainer.

Why: I’m a woman who has had some major healthy problems and whose husband is terminally ill. People all around me have been incredibly supportive, and I love that. However, people tend to handle me with kid gloves. They are afraid I will break if they say the wrong thing to me.

My Alternative: Mike really enjoys making fun of me. He teases me mercilessly. He pushes me when I work out. He smacks me around when we are boxing. He doesn’t treat me like I’m going to break. Admittedly, I have had a few meltdowns in front of him. Recently, I got all melodramatic and was going to quit working out with him because I felt like a pathetic loser. Mike emailed me and told me, “You are someone that has busted their butt and even through all the crap you have gone through you are still working hard to achieve your goals. That is an amazing pathetic loser. What is it to be a winner, because if pathetic losers try that hard I want to be one as well…I will see you soon for our next appointment and bring the pathetic loser along because I liked her and how hard she worked.” Mike pushes me to my limits physically and emotionally, and most of the time, I take it quite well. When I start to crumble, Mike knows just what to do to get me back on my feet. This is not what I expected out of a personal trainer relationship, but is exactly what I needed.

Rule Broken: I drink Coke.

Why: Diet pop sucks.

My Alternative: I have a limit of one a day, and many days I don’t have one at all. One Coke once a day is better than all the diet crap in the world.

Rule Broken: I don’t drink a lot of water.

Why: I don’t really like it.

My Alternative: I drink some water, some milk, some G2, Propel, or Gatorade, and some juice. Occasionally I have coffee or tea. I used to walk around with a big container of water that I would force myself to drink. Ugh. No more.

Rule Broken: I weigh myself every day.

Why: Often experts say to ignore the scale and just weigh yourself once a week or once a month. However, I like to start the day with a little motivation, and the scale does that for me.

My Alternative: I weigh myself everyday, plus I weigh myself before and after long runs to check for dehydration. In addition, I take measurements every couple of months to see how my body is changing. I also like to have one pair of jeans that are too small as my motivation to get into the next smallest size.

That’s all the rules I can think of right now that I break. I’m sure there’s more. I think what is important when you are trying to lose weight is that you need to do what works for you and not necessarily do what works for someone else.

A Can of Peas, Please

I've lost 54 pounds over the last several months. I’m very happy about that. Basically, what I have done is to exercise more and eat less. I’m also trying to eat better food too. I have a lot of weight left to lose, but I’m happy with my progress.

The other day, I was talking to a woman who had recently lost 20 pounds. She was telling me all the different rules that she follows. She always waits an hour to workout after she eats. She doesn’t eat within three hours of going to bed. She eats every two hours throughout the day. She had many other rules that she followed, and she told me that she never realized that losing weight was so complicated.

I didn’t say anything to her at the time. I figure what works for her is great. However, she and I definitely go about this weight loss thing in completely different ways. I don’t have a lot of rules. For me, tons of rules mean tons of ways to fail. I’m more comfortable with something a little more laid back. This makes me more confident that I’ll be able to keep up my efforts for a lifetime instead of just trying new diets every couple of months.

I’ve tried the eating every two to four hours method. I know this works for lots and lots of people. It just doesn’t work for me. I feel like I’m grazing all day, and it drives me batty. I eat three to five times a day, depending on my schedule. I try to make one of those meals a big meal, because I like big meals. :-) This works for me.

I’m trying to eat better also, but I’m not super strict with my diet. One of my big goals is to eat more vegetables. For years I tried to buy raw, organic vegetables and cook something impressive. It just hasn’t happened. Today, I’m content to cook a big can of peas. Yes, I said canned peas. I admit it. I love canned peas. Well, they have to be the small early summer peas, but I love canned peas. I can eat a whole can of them myself. I realize there are much better ways to eat vegetables, but I think this is much improved over ordering McDonald’s fries and try to pass them off as a vegetable.

The book that has been my main reference material for my fitness journey is “Body for Life for Women” by Dr. Pamela Peeke. One principle that Dr. Peeke stresses is to strive for progress, not perfection. This was definitely a major problem for me in the past. I would try to go from a mainly fast-food diet to a diet of perfectly cooked meals at home. When I didn’t do things perfectly, I just stopped trying to be healthy. It was always an either/or for me--either eat perfectly or forget the whole thing. Now, I’m eating much better than I used to eat, but I still have a way to go. For now, I’ll take my canned peas though. They suit me just fine.