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:

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.