My weight loss journey-July 2021

Holy setbacks Batman!

Thankfully I only gained 1 lb in July and that is a miracle. Between the 4th of July holiday weekend and the 60+ hour work weeks I am amazed that is all I gained. I’m the type of person who draws a line in the sand, regroups and starts over. That is what August was going to be for me…a fresh start. With the overtime behind me I’m getting back to my meal planning and back to the gym! I had a plan…and it was a good one then Thursday, July 29th I get told that the overtime is going to continue through August oh, and by the way you are working on Saturday too. I almost cried.

My work week has been 8-5 Monday, 8-7:30 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday then back to 8-5 Friday and Saturday. Yes, you read that right…6 days a week and three 11.5 hour days. Oh, and I have an hour commute each way. I’m struggling. I’m exhausted. I’m desperately trying to regroup and try to figure out how I can make this work. My decision…food is key. I just do not have time or energy to exercise so my diet needs to be near perfect.

I have had suggestions from fit people I know try to help me figure out how to fit exercise in my day. I’m up by 5:30 AM and leave the house about 6:30 AM and get home around 6 or 8:30 PM depending on the day. I get ready for bed at 9 and I’m asleep somewhere between 10-11pm. Giving me 5.5-7.5 hours sleep depending on the night. My early days I spend as much time as possible with the kids before they go to bed because I don’t see them at all on my late days. That is honestly the hardest part…not seeing the kids.

So I average about 6.5 hours of sleep a night and I’m at work, commuting or with my kids the other part. What do I give up? Work is set and I don’t want to work the OT as it is, but it isn’t optional. Sleep? I’m exhausted as it is. Time with my kids…yeah, I’ll give up sleep first. My kids are still little and they grow up so fast. I’m not making excuses. It’s just my reality. I have pondered this trying to work out a solution on those many hours commuting. I have goals so I was going to cut my gym time down to 30 min. But as if the OT wasn’t crushing enough Friday I get an email from the gym saying they are going back to mandatory masking for everyone while in the building vaccinated or not as of August 1st. That sealed the deal for me and I put my membership on hold.

So that’s where I am. My first month that I did not loose anything and actually gained a pound. I am determined NOT to gain anything in the month of August and my goal is to lose at least 4 lbs with diet alone. I’ll check in again at the beginning of September with an update.

When a “day off” not really an actual day of rest

At some point “days off” work didn’t actually become a restful day to recuperate from work and enjoy life but they became just more work. It starts slow. You do your laundry, get groceries or run a few errands but easily have time to hit happy hour, grab lunch with a friend and catch a movie or go to the park with your family. My life has not been like that in some time now. It makes me wonder what happened? I see photos on Facebook of people out doing all kinds of things but not me. I always seem to be busy. Now, I’m not saying that I never get out, because I do. Just not as often as most other people.

I knew I was busy but I didn’t really understand until a few days ago. I took a day off of work so my husband could go to the dentist. He would not be done in time to get the kids off the bus so I took the day off of work. Now, my thought was I have a lot of things I need to get caught up for my photography business on so I’ll just get up like I’m going to work and pop open my laptop in the living room and get some work done. 13 hours later I finally got caught up…kinda. I still have more to do. There is always more to do.

Now I’m behind on my blog posts. How did this happen? Well…I have been busy. We are behind at work so there has been a lot of overtime. We had several people quit to take care of their kids when the schools did not reopen in the fall. No one has applied for those open jobs in almost a year now. Because we have been working short staffed we now have 4 people out injured (I will be joining them briefly when I have my carpal tunnel surgery after the kids are back in school). All of these vacancies have now brought us to the point that we have been opening for Saturday appointments for the last 3 months to try to catch up and now this month we are opening in the evenings too. So in an effort to be a team player I have been working from 7:30AM-7:30PM 4 days a week and 7:30-5 on Fridays. My coworker has been working 6 days a week taking the Saturdays since she works from 8:30-5 on weekdays. Add in my kids, photography business, household chores and getting up at 4:30 AM to get to the gym (that just opened on June 15th) before work and I am one busy, exhausted woman.

So I started looking at those relaxed, refreshed people out enjoying life all the time and wondered what they have in common. What are they doing (or not doing) that allows them to just chill out? With 1 exception the thing they all have in common is lack of a job. They have someone else providing the money they live on. About half have a minimal gig they do from selling something from a MLM of some sort or teaching an occasional class on something. By minimal I’m talking 1-2 days a week for about 2 hours actually working. Something to give them something to do. All have teenage or older kids. Only one had a full time job but her kids are grown and out of the house and no grandkids yet.

This made me realize that I’m not being fair to myself. I’m not comparing apples to apples. These women are not gone from the home almost 70 hours a week commuting or at work. Most days I’m commuting or at work for 15 of the 24 hours in a day. 9 hours to sleep, shower and go to the gym. No wonder I look exhausted. The 6 hours of sleep I get a night keeps me functional but not relaxed and refreshed. Makeup? What’s that? I’m lucky to just have clean laundry for everyone and groceries in the house (that I have delivered because I do not have time to shop). I’m not one of these women. I will not be one of them until my kids are grown and I’m retired. So until that point, I am ok and doing pretty good managing it all like so many others out there. The apples can stay apples. I’m ok being an orange. Maybe someday soon I can pull it all together for a day at the beach…

Self help and exercise

On my morning walks I have started listening to self improvement books. I feel that way I can work on my body and my mind at the same time. Pretty efficient huh. Yeah, I thought so too. My current book (The Creative’s Curse by Todd Brison) inspired this post.

If you have been reading my blog for a while now you know I think of myself as just a mom. I’m a regular person. I’m not rich or famous or glamorous. I work hard and try to make the most out of my life. I didn’t have any special privileges growing up. In fact I grew up in a poor neighborhood and went to the “bad” schools. I have had to work hard for everything I have.

I’m also old…well when it comes to blogging, social media, websites and technology I’m a dinosaur. I have no clue what I’m doing and find myself googling terminology because I don’t know what people are talking about. Because of this, through listening to the books and doing webinars I have learned that I’m accidentally doing things right. My website is “branded” not because I had a clue what that was before I took the class but because I thought it looked better. I post a new photo on my Instagram every day. Not because I’m trying to raise my engagement and grow my audience but because I take a lot of photos and it drives me crazy when half my social media feed is all from the same person so I post one photo a day. I try to post one blog post a week. Also not for engagement but because it forces me to write something once a week. When I’m busy with large photography projects or home life I don’t work on my book. The blog keeps me writing.

You may wonder what any of that has to do with anything, well frankly I have no idea what I’m doing. All this stuff is where youngsters excel. I have found myself talking social media with these whipper-snappers as they try to explain to me how social media works like I’m 105. I had one youngster try to explain it to me using her Instagram as she carefully crafted a post for her 800 loyal fans. Saying how she has so many followers he should teach a class for people like me. After she made her post she wanted me to make one so she could help me. So I pull out my phone and start to craft a post for my 7,000+ fans. She looked at how many followers I had and asked me who’s account that was. I said mine.

In the book I’m listening to he is talking about his social media following (it’s lower than mine). In my last book by a different author he talks about his success and what strategies got him there. He also has less than I do. So the question on my mind is how can people who have not achieved the level I’m at teach me to do better? I’m already doing better than they are. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m apparently doing it right. I just post stuff I like at a frequency that doesn’t overwhelm or annoy me.

I’m not delusional. My ego is not inflated. I understand I’m just a mom. I work a full time job. Play with my kids. Do laundry. I have a photography business. It in no way replaces the income from my day job that supports us. I have this blog that I write to get things out there and force me to stay writing. (I started this blog after reading Single Wide Female) I honestly did not think anyone would ever read it. When I got my first follower I called my friend because surely it was a fluke. I’m still shocked when I get new a new follower every few days. I appreciate you guys. You keep me going.

So here I am. Just a mom. Walking at the crack of cock a doodle dark to try to loose weight because she does not have any other time to exercise. Listening to audiobooks because it’s the only way things get done is multitasking. While keeping up with the kids, my job and my side hustle photography business…and a few writing and charity projects tossed in the mix for fun. And I wonder why I’m so tired…

Kicking butt in 2021!

My coworker that I share an office with told me today that I’m super annoying. That may offend many people. But I wasn’t offended at all. Do you know why I’m annoying? I am getting stuff done and checking off my “to do” list items one after another. Apparently, that is really annoying to people who are not doing anything.

She said it’s like being trapped for 8 hours with a super peppy cheerleader. I told her in my defense… I was one in high school. I feel awesome so far this year (even though we are only a week in). I am getting stuff done. I am getting up and exercising before work every day. I am eating healthy. I am cleaning closets and purging old toys and books. I am organizing my business and revamping my social media strategy and website. I have a LONG to do list and I’m ticking off items one at a time.

Accomplishment is annoying. When did that happen? I find people who are smashing goals as inspiring. I see someone who lost 100 lbs in a year and is now wearing a sexy cocktail dress at their 50th birthday party as inspiring. Their smile is contagious. It makes me want to put down that cupcake and hit the dance floor! If someone overcomes obstacles and achieves greatness it’s inspiring, not annoying. That’s why they write books and make movies about things like that. But you know what all those people at the top have in common? They all had nay sayers in their lives who told them they couldn’t do it or that it was stupid or they were annoying and should just settle in like everyone else.

I don’t want to be like everyone else. A boring life of mediocrity sounds like an absolute nightmare to me. I have goals. I want to achieve things. I want to travel and see things and do things and inspire other people to rise up out of the muck and dare to be annoying. I hope to someday inspire others to do the things they dream of no matter what that dream is. They don’t need to be anything special or different to do great things they just need to try. Then if you fail regroup and try again. Keep trying and modifying and trying until one day you did it! Despite the nay sayers and the people who thought you were annoying.

I know some people are thinking about their dreams as they read this and think…yeah, right. That’s easy for you to say you have done so much already. Well, I started out with nothing…twice and rebuilt my life. Nothing was handed to me either time. In fact both beginnings were full of drama. Both times I had a job. My clothes, some personal stuff and that’s pretty much it. Both times I was super broke. Here I am now. I worked hard for everything I have achieved by doing what most people are not willing to do… work for it.

Who am I really? I’m a woman in my 40’s. I’m a mess. I’m overweight. I’m a wife and a mother to two little boys. I’m a special needs mom and a heart mom. I’m a working mom. I’m a photographer, an artist and a writer. I’m not anyone special. I’m just someone with goals and dreams who isn’t afraid of working hard to achieve them. If I can do it, you can be annoying to people around you and achieve amazing things as well.

Be annoying… Achieve great things in 2021.

Dare to (travel) dream

One of my best friends lives in Australia. We talk almost every day. I know it sounds crazy but with modern technology it’s possible. She has a friend that lives in the UK that I have never met but have gotten to know in group chats with the three of us. The three of us travelers and we are all struggling with the lockdowns of our countries. So we have started to make plans for the three of us to get together on two different trips based of when our countries free us to roam again.

One of the trips we are planning is for the two of them to come here to California. I will be their lovely tour guide and we will enjoy a few days here in the wine country before starting our road trip north. Talking about where we can go and what we do will largely be figured out by what our UK friend wants to do since I live here and my Aussie friend has been here several times.

The other trip we are talking about is a meetup in the UK. No big plans there yet but it will be a shorter trip of 5-7 days. The two of them will be working some of the days leaving their evenings free. My Aussie friend has a branch there with a team she supervises so she will plan it as a work trip. We will coordinate schedules and I’ll probably play tourist while they are working and meet up with them for lunches and evenings.

I’m looking forward to us all being together. It will be interesting to see how people react to 3 women who are obviously really close but who all have very distinctly different accents. I know when my Aussie friend and I are together we get a lot of people who ask how we know each other. It really confuses people. We are 3 strong, independent women who travel well. We have all traveled the world alone. We all love food and wine and a good laugh with friends.

So even in a pandemic you can close the borders, but you can’t stop people from dreaming about their next trip.

Oh, when I go to the UK for our meetup; I will be bringing as much wine as I can for those evenings together. It’s my job. Well, that and Levi’s in their sizes. 😁

My weight loss journey-the January push

I decided 2 months ago that January 4th $hit gets real and I put together all my rumblings and bad starts and struggles into a solid diet and exercise routine. I had a lot is struggles to overcome with stores being out of stock of items I wanted for my meal planning, gyms being closed, our garage being full of boxes for our Christmas decorations and the list goes on and on…

I knew there was going to be challenges. So I planned for it. I think I worked out most of the kinks now although, I’m sure I will face others as time goes on. Last night I did my meal prepping for breakfast and lunch. I put my workout gear out. I set my alarms. I made sure the garage was clutter free and ready to workout. I also made sure that the heater I plugged into the WiFi plug was on so it will actually turn on in the morning. (Seriously genius. I can even program it to come on automatically so it isn’t actually freezing at 5am when I’m in there trying to workout.)

I joined a DietBet to keep me on track and track my progress. Then yesterday my sister joined the extreme hip hop 90 day challenge. I like Phil’s step workouts and it was only $25 for 3 months so I joined too. I don’t plan on adding in the step workouts for a couple weeks but it’s ok. He only does workouts 4 days a week and I workout 5. I like to start them late so I always have new workouts.

So, you might wonder how today went? Well, it went great. I hit all my exercise goals. I need to find shoes that work well for rowing and I need a playlist with songs that have a good cadence for rowing as well. So that’s a kink, but not a bad one. My meal planning helped out when I was running late for work. I was hungry when I got home from work for sure but I still stayed in my calorie range. I still want to fit in yoga tonight after my kids go to bed. But overall, I think it’s a success.

Weight loss-Accountability Month 2

Well, one more month down and another 7.5 lbs are gone. 7.8+7.5=15.3 total so far. Not bad. I swear I still can’t tell. But I’m hoping that changes soon.

I saw this and could not think of anything more appropriate for this post.

So I did better on some things and failed at others but it’s a work in progress. My diet overall is getting better. I’m meal planning and logging my foods. I also increased my water intake. I still need to get 32 more ounces down to be at my goal. I can do 64 in a day pretty easy but I want to double that. Again, a work in progress.

My exercise is still hit and miss. My goal in 30 min cardio in the morning, a 10 min walk mid-morning and another mid-afternoon (I’m pretty much sitting chained to a computer all day at work so I’m trying to break it up) and 15 min of yoga in the evening to stretch. It seems pretty easy, but I’m still struggling to get all of them in and fail in at least one of those 4 each day. I told my co-worker Monday $hit gets real and I’m setting an alarm for our walks. Whomever has a scheduled patient at 10:00 that day goes for a walk as soon as they finish. When that person gets back the other person goes for a walk. I’m setting an alarm for 10:15 and 3:15 to remind us.

You might wonder what changes I’m making this month. Well, I joined a diet bet to try to keep me on track. I do this periodically to challenge myself. I’m working hard on trying to get my exercise to become routine and I’m going to work on refining my diet more to make it healthier.

Overall, I always hope to just wake up one morning and be at my goal weight. I’m a very long way away from that. I always hope for more of a loss but I’m loosing at a nice 1-2 lbs a week pace so I can’t really be upset about that. I also lost 15 lbs through the holidays, in a pandemic. So that’s pretty awesome.

Accountability-my weight loss journey

So I decided “Enough is enough!” At my birthday in October and set out a tough plan to get in shape and finally loose the baby weight (after all my baby is now 5 years old). My plan was simple… watch what I eat. Log my foods. Get some exercise. I had a few friends who also wanted to do the same that were going to join me. We all decided November 2nd (a Monday) was the official start date. Well my walking buddy flaked… as did my yoga buddy… and my bike riding buddy… and my eat healthy buddy. Apparently they were not as committed as I was.

I stuck with my plan and found several problems that I had to work through the first was the amount of leftover Halloween candy I was eating every afternoon when I hit an energy drop about 2:30. OMG the first week of my new diet I gained 3 lbs. not a good start at all and all 4 of my friends flaked on me in the first week! I had no support and LOTS of candy (in the future I’m sticking to my traditional blow pops. Screw the chocolate. I can’t plow through 20 blow pops in 5 minutes.) anyway… week #1= epic failure.

Week #2 I had to get it together so I meal prepped and started drinking iced tea to keep a steady flow of caffeine all day and try to avoid the afternoon slump. It kinda worked. I got really bored with the food and was still hitting a slump and craving sweets in the afternoon.

Week #3 I actually solved a few issues.

1) Sorry to any of you who actually like the healthy green juice. It’s nasty. I also don’t like the collagen powder stuff. So I solved that issue by putting them together, mixing it with a small can of pineapple juice to try to mask the taste and texture and just chugging it and following it up with a glass of water to get the taste out of my mouth. Both are being discontinued as soon as I run out hopefully by the end of the week.

2) The afternoon slump: For this I solved by taking 1 scoop of a pre-workout instead of 2 scoops and mixing it in a shaker bottle with another pineapple juice. The sweetness from the juice fixes my sewer craving and the caffeine and b-vitamins help with the slump. Yeah, it’s 2 juices a day right now but I’m not diabetic. They are only 100 calories each and they are packed with vitamin c. Oh and I’m dropping the morning stinky green juice as soon as I run out and swapping it for a protein shake to hold me over until lunch. I would just toss the green juice and collagen but I don’t like to be wasteful.

3) Get off my butt! I am chained to my computer all day and it sucks! With all this covid stuff everything is on the computer, my charting, the million emails, meetings, trainings… I don’t go anywhere anymore. I use to at least have to walk to a conference room but those days are over. So I try to take 2 laps around my building in the morning and 2 in the afternoon every day. It is literally a 5 minute walk from my desk, around the building and back to my desk. but it helps my focus, posture and I get a little bit of fresh air outside as well. I do my rowing machine in the mornings when I can get to it (it’s currently not accessible until we put all the boxes for the Christmas decorations back away).

I still have not fit in yoga in the evenings but I’m trying to work that in somehow at least 2-3 times a week but I hope to get a regular 20-30 minute evening practice going every night before bed. I also want a morning cardio maybe step aerobics or Zumba (also about 30 min) to add to the rowing machine I’m currently doing and to add in some weights for a total of 1 hour before work.

So I’m not there yet, not even close. But I made some good progress and I lost 7.8 lbs in the first month! (10.8 if you add the 3 that I gained and had to loose to get back to the starting weight).

I planned on updating weekly with progress to keep myself accountable. But…life. I am working full time with 2 small kids at home and I am running my photography business on the side and working on my book. So, I’m busy. But busy is not an excuse. I just need to figure it out. Everyone needs a piece of me so doing something for myself is hard. But nothing worth doing is ever easy. I’m sticking in there.

DIY beauty salon

Covid has been tough. The closures have me trying new things that I have not done since I was a teenager. Enter DIY beauty salon!

Now let me start by saying that I am NOT a fan of the DYI salon. I am willing to pay professionals because it is really not my thing. I tried and begged for a speakeasy style salon experience… I have cash… I can go to the back door… I’ll bring you coffee… but sadly I just could not talk my way into some services.

Enter the DIY salon. So I started with my own facials. It was not even close to the amazing salon experience. I lack a steamer and the patience for massage but I can clean, tone, mask and moisturize so I have been doing that. I started with sheet masks once a week. Then I moved to gel and mud masks. Some made a slight difference (usually the moisturizing ones). I figure when I’m wearing a mask all day at work I can pamper my face a little.

Then I saw an add for Hanicure face masks. They are on the pricy end for a DIY. But the before and after photos were pretty impressive so I tried it. I have to admit…I was very impressed with the results. But at $110 for 4 masks it is more than I want to spend on a weekly pampering.

Hanicure before / Hanicure after

I was pretty impressed but needed to find a cheaper solution. So I tried a Zombie mask. Reviews said it worked as well as Hanicure but the results don’t last as long and it has a funny smell. I figure at $30 for 8 masks I’ll give it a shot. Sadly, I don’t see a difference in the before and after photos.

Zombie mask before / Zombie mask after

I also tried my own mani-pedi and while I got better at my manicures my pedicures still look awful. I just can’t seem to get it even. I have cut myself with the clippers, gotten 2 ingrown toenails, cut myself with a nail file, and I still get hang nails. I am obviously bad at it.

Enter Covid Cuts… now I did NOT color and cut my own hair. That is something I can’t fix if I screw it up. But I cut my kids hair. My younger son looks fine. He has gotten 3 haircuts so far. My older son got 2 haircuts. Covid cut #1 he moved and the guard came off the clippers and I shaved a triangle shaped bald spot into his head. Oops. After that mistake my husband said there is no way in hell I’m cutting his hair! I had to wait for the bald spot to grow in that why my older son only got 2 haircuts to his brothers 3.

I honestly believe that we all have a place in society and deeming some jobs “essential” and others “non-essential” is stupid. I can see closing for a couple weeks but for 8 months… everyone needs a haircut at some point. They provide an essential service (unless you are going for that “Castaway” look). When I got that first ingrown toenail I was wishing the nail salons were open to fix it rather than having to do it myself. Nail salons are essential. It isn’t just having cute fingers and toes. Massages although relaxing can be therapeutic as well. Facials can help treat acne and sun damage as well as fight the signs of aging.

We all have a part to play. All of our jobs are essential when someone needs us. While I can do a lot of things, I’m just not able to do everything. I have a job that I’m good at. I can’t do my own mani pedi, cut hair or teach my kids. There are people out there who went to school to learn how to do those things. I’m 100% on board with letting them do it. hopefully everyone in California will be back to work soon.

Adulting

At some point in my life I became an adult. I’m not sure when or how, but it happened. I’m married, with two kids and a mortgage. That isn’t what made me an adult though. This realization came to me as I pulled a shirt out of the washer.

You may wonder how a shirt made me feel like an adult. Well, I got paint on my shirt the first time I wore it. Blue paint on an orange shirt. Not good. The paint had dried by the time I saw it at the end of the evening. I scrubbed it by hand and only got part of it out. The next day I put stain stick on it and washed the shirt in every load of laundry I did. It was still there at the end of the day, although less than in the morning. I added more stain stick. A couple days later I washed it with my kids clothing (they are seriously dirty boys). As I pulled the shirt out the paint was finally gone!

I stared at the shirt sans paint and marveled in the fact that I have mastered laundry. Now it isn’t just the paint on the shirt… In February my sisters house caught on fire and I was given the task of trying to salvage what I could of their closets. Of the 3 of us working on this task I was the only one to be able to get the smoke smell out of the laundry. I even got the smell out of the singed towels that were on fire and used to sop up some of the water from the fire hoses. I showed my sister what I did and she followed my instructions and saved most of their wardrobe. I have mastered laundry. I’m now advising others on how to remove stains.

There’s a young woman that I work with. She is smart and reliable and has a small child just a little younger than my youngest despite the 25 year age difference between us. She often posts “how to” questions on Facebook and I always have an answer. Recently she told me that having me around is like having a live “life-hacker” right there.

Most recently we were plagued with wildfires in my area again. One was really close to us. I have several friends and family that lost their homes. Evacuations came up to the other side of the freeway from us so it was time to prepare for evacuation. It only took us 15 minutes to prep our family of 4 to leave our home with all the photos, documents and irreplaceable mementos. Now we can be out in 5 minutes. Thankfully the winds died down and they got the side of the fire near me under control so we didn’t need to evacuate. When I went back to work a couple days later my coworkers were amazed that I could gather things up that quickly. I thought 15 minutes was a long time.

All of these things as well as many others have shown me that at some point I became an adult. I don’t feel particularly old and wise… ok some days I feel old but I never feel wise. Yet here I am. Master of laundry. Imparting my wisdom of my years into those younger (and sometimes even older) than myself. I’m prepared for emergencies. I am an adult.