Thursday, July 30, 2015

Things I Love Thursday

Linking up with Alissa over at A Journey to Thin today for Things I Love Thursday! This is the first time I'm participating, so today it's just a ramshackle of things I'm currently loving.

Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Dressings
Have you tried any of these dressings yet? In my grocery stores, they in the cold case by the produce--NOT on the regular dressing aisle or with the other dairy products. They're amazing, and only 35-45 calories / 1 point for 2 tablespoons! I've tried the Cilantro Avocado, Caesar, Classic Ranch, and Mango Chipotle; the Cilantro Avocado is definitely my favorite, but I tried the Mango Chipotle today and it was awesome! They don't taste "light", and they're super creamy and flavorful. I have not seen the Salsa Ranch yet, but I hope my store gets it soon--I want to try it!

Starbucks' Mocha Coconut Frappuccino
So, I don't know if you heard, but Starbucks has FINALLY brought back their Mocha Coconut Frappuccino! It's my absolute favorite drink in the whole world, and the last time they had it was in 2012. I haven't seen it advertised in either of the stores I frequent, so the only reason I even knew it was out was because I saw it as an option in the Mobile Order & Pay section of the Starbucks app on my phone. Upon further research, it's actually been out for a whole week! I'm not sure if it's just my stores that are being so secretive about it, but I'm a little upset that I missed out on a whole week of the goodness. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably saw a glimpse of my excitement yesterday:

My New Haircut
I chopped off my hair last September, and I've been going progressively shorter every time I get it cut.
September 2014
My regular stylist left, so I had someone new last weekend when I went for a trim. She's a little more daring than my former stylist, and I love my hair! See above Starbucks photo. 

And that wraps up this week's edition of Things I Love Thursday!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Love Your Body Tuesday: Hands

There is a lot on the internet these days regarding body positivity, body love, body confidence, no shame, etc. A quick search of any of these topics will return hundreds of links about the issue.

I love this. I think it's great that people are finally trying to change things, and we now live in a world where women of any size can wear whatever they want, even a bikini if she so chooses.

That being said, a lot of us still hate our bodies (or parts of them anyway). Even when I wear my bikini, my eyes instantly go to my perceived "problem areas". I'm basically "faking confidence" whenever I wear something outside my comfort zone, with the hope that eventually I'll fake it so much that I actually believe it. I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only person who does this.

I mean, really--how many people out there actually genuinely love every part of their body? 

It's out of this line of thinking that my new blog post series was born:

 I wanted to do something to actively force myself to acknowledge every part of me in a positive light. Every week, I will highlight a part of my body and talk about what I like about it.

Feel free to join in and grab the image above if you want!

This week, I'm going with something easy - my hands.


These are my hands, in all their unfiltered glory.

My hands are not small, nor dainty; they are big, and strong. My mom used to tell me I had "piano fingers" because my fingers were so long (unfortunately, long fingers do not equal grand pianist.)

I have a cluster of light freckles on my right hand, between the knuckles of my index and middle fingers. I've always liked them, because they're unique. Lots of people have fingers and skin and knuckles, but not many people have a random freckle-cluster on their hand. The freckles have been there for as long as I can remember; in 3rd grade, a friend told me they were a sunburn. Odd, the things we remember from our childhood. 

It's there, I swear. 
I also have unusual thumbs, and I'm double-jointed! Both of these attributes have provided me a source of conversation any time I found myself feeling awkward in a social situation (so, pretty much all the time). My friends and I used to joke that my thumb, when bent backward, looked like the Starship Enterprise. I can also bend those three fingers on each hand at the first joint. Great for making scary claw hands!

My hands provided comic relief before we entered our wedding reception as husband and wife.

They embraced our children before they were born.

They have held and comforted babies new to this world.

They link us together as a family.

These hands, my hands, they hold my husband's hand as we walk down the street or drive in the car or sit on the couch. They hold my children's tiny hands as we cross streets and go down stairs and walk along sidewalks. They braid my daughter's hair and caress my son's head as he goes to sleep.

My hands are beautiful.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Weigh In (7/25)

It's a good thing I declared I was getting back in the saddle, because this week's weigh in definitely reflected my poor choices as of late...

Talk about a wake up call! That's 3 weeks straight of gains... the previous two, I could easily chalk up to other things, but this one is no joke.

It's over and done with, and I faced the music. Now it's back to my regular routine!

On Friday, we received notice that we (the entire Eastbank of New Orleans) were under a boil water advisory until further notice. Something happened in the middle of the night that caused the water pressure to drop too low or something, and it wasn't until around 10:30am that we were notified not to drink the water, brush our teeth, shower, etc, without boiling the water for at least 1 minute. So, that was awesome (not really).

When I got up Saturday, the advisory was still in effect, so I went to my WW meeting unshowered (maybe some of the extra weight was the added dirt I was carrying around? no?), but I managed to brush my teeth with bottled water so I wasn't completely disgusting. I went to my hair appointment right after that so at least I got my hair washed! I finished my meal planning and grocery list, and then went to Costco, Target, and Rouse's to do my shopping.

I had to go home between every stop to put the cold stuff away because it was like Dante's Inferno outside, and in my car--only one of our cars has air conditioning, and since Marc was taking care of the kids so I could run all these errands, he got to have the car with a/c. Since it was so hot, and I still couldn't shower, I also changed clothes every time I went home. It was awesome.

We were finally allowed to use the water around 5:15 Saturday evening; the tests came back and it turned out the water was fine the whole time. Big sigh.

It feels good to have lots of good food in the house again. This morning, I had my blueberry overnight oats and a banana, and I have some dinner leftovers, a peach, and strawberries to get me through the day.

It's gonna be a great week!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Back in the Saddle

Time to get real with myself (and all of you)--I've been way off track this week! I haven't been bingeing or going completely hog-wild, but I definitely haven't been making the best choices. I haven't been getting enough water, or exercise, and all of these things combined just have me feeling.... BLAH. I also have not gone to the grocery store in over a week. I haven't tracked my food all week, either, and that just has me feeling all kinds of lost. 

So, I'm back in the saddle, starting..... NOW. Food log for the day: 

I have not eaten that cookie yet... I actually got 2 cookies with my meal, but I'm leaning towards not eating any of them at all. I mean, 4 items and just about all of my points are gone?!? I'm posting on Instagram too so people can quickly give me a virtual slap!

So, here's the plan. It's just me with the kids tonight and we have no real food in the house. Will probably go to Chick-fil-a and get grilled nuggets and a side salad for a total of 5 points. Tomorrow, I have my WW meeting at 8am, followed by hair appointment at 10, after which I will be going to the grocery store. I will meal plan and write out the grocery list tonight after the kids go to bed. 

We're not perfect all the time, and we're going to mess up. It's a fact. The best we can hope for is progress, not perfection.

Update: Crisis averted! Cookies are now in the kitchen trash, far away from my cubicle. Special thanks to the Lovely Ladies group for giving me a kick in the pants!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Just One Piece

On our way home on Sunday, we stopped at Cracker Barrell for lunch. As we were standing at the register paying for our meal, I noticed they were selling individual Lindor Truffles--heaven my own personal hell in a wrapper.

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you may recall that Lindor Truffles, usually packaged in bags of 12 truffles, are a huge, massive, goliath of a trigger food for me. If you need a refresher, read this post, or this post, or this post.

I have not eaten one single Lindor Truffle since I started therapy for fear of the monster it might unleash. I'm not sure I've even touched one. During my months in therapy, I would walk down the specialty candy aisle and gaze longingly at the bags, smelling the creases hoping to catch the scent of my beloved truffles. I remember becoming so enchanted at one time that I went so far as to put a bag in my cart, only to come to my senses and return the bag to its shelf shortly thereafter. I knew better.

For me, Lindor Truffles were are like an ex that you just can't get out of your head. You know they're bad for you, they're no good for you, and you definitely don't like the person you become when you're around them... but you forget all of that when you're in their presence. When you see them across the store, when you see them in another room, when you walk by them... all you can think about is how you felt when you were with them--how they made you feel as if everything would be okay, that you were the only person in the world who mattered; that life was truly beautiful. Like you can't get enough. Then they would leave, and everything would fall apart. The things you felt, the wonderment you'd imagined, it would all come crashing down, leaving you broken. Abused. Shattered. Disgusted. Humiliated. Ashamed.

So, yeah, I haven't eaten or purchased a Lindor Truffle in a very long time. Not even one piece. That is, until last Sunday.

Last Sunday, I purchased one, single, individual truffle. And you know I did next?

I forgot about it. No, seriously. I actually forgot about it. I was full from lunch and decided I wasn't ready to eat it yet, so I threw it in our cooler so it wouldn't melt.

Yesterday when I got home from work and opened the fridge, I saw it sitting on the bottom shelf, all by its lonesome. When Marc unloaded the cooler Sunday evening, he must have put it there. I'd completely forgotten about it, and was truly surprised to see it in the fridge yesterday evening. Three days after I bought it.

And you know what? It's still there.

If that's not an eating disorder recovery victory, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Weigh In (7/18) + Staycation

I'm a little late posting this--staycation took priority! In any case, here's last Saturday's weigh in:

As you can see, I was up a bit; I stayed well within my PointsPlus for the week, so I'm sure it's due to the pizza I had for dinner the night before, as well as other random bloat.

I do not, however, have high hopes for this week's weigh in--if I just maintain, I'll be thrilled! Saturday-Monday, I decided I would not track my PointsPlus--the first time I haven't tracked since December! I wanted to simply enjoy myself, and I think I did okay for the most part. I didn't go crazy, and I tried to stay mindful of what and how much I was eating.

Here's a little recap of the weekend:

On Saturday, we left for Texas right after my Weight Watchers meeting. About an hour into the trip, we hit some pretty bad construction traffic which set us back an hour. Poor Karinne had to use the bathroom on the side of the road; once we were finally able to exit and take a detour (we were in the middle of nowhere and the exits were miles apart), we stopped at the first gas station we saw so the adults could pee. Of course, as the fates would have it, the restrooms were closed! We were desperate, and since we couldn't be sure that we'd find another place along the detour, we went behind the building and peed. I really felt at home in the backwoods of Louisiana, let me tell you!

With the traffic and detour, and stopping for lunch, it took us about 8 hours--not terrible! The kids weren't terrible either, so that was a HUGE plus. They were whiney in the beginning, but did much better than I'd feared.

On Sunday, Marc and I packed up and left his parents' house sans kids around 11; we'd meant to leave earlier, by 9:30, but shortly before were planning to leave we realized that the laundry room had completely flooded. Since Marc's dad was already at work, we weren't about to leave his mom with 2 small kids by herself to clean up that mess! Turns out the drain had come out of the washer; Marc's pretty handy, so he was able to fix it. While they worked on the laundry room, I kept an eye on the kids and cleaned up the breakfast dishes and toys.

Finally, we left. FREEEEEEEEEEDOM!!!!! (That was definitely a Braveheart yell)

We took our time going home. We stopped when we wanted, enjoyed a sit-down lunch, took some back roads; it was a beautiful day for driving, and we didn't mind one bit! Long drives are much more enjoyable when nobody's bugging you for a toy/snack every 2.68 minutes. 

We arrived back in New Orleans around 7pm; stopped by the house and checked on the cat and grabbed some clothes, and headed to our hotel. It was NIIIIIIICE! We had sushi for dinner, and called it a night around 10pm.

We got up on Monday with a plan of breakfast, pool, World War II Museum (rated one of the top museums in the world), and dinner out. We went to The Ruby Slipper Cafe for breakfast, and it was fantastic!

Eggs Cochon - Biscuit, pork, eggs, hollandaise

Ruby Slipper in the background
I ate half, and took the rest back to the hotel. It was delicious! I love the story behind The Ruby Slipper:

We headed back to the hotel and got ready to go to the pool. Unfortunately, in typical New Orleans fashion, by the time we made it up to the rooftop pool, the sky was gray and a storm was visible in the distance. The wind was also picking up, so it was a bit on the cool side up there. We sat by the pool for a while, until the rain started, then moved under the covered bar area. After a while, we gave up hope that the sky would clear and went back to the room to get dressed and go to the National WWII Museum.

The museum was incredible; we spent 4.5 hours there, and still didn't see everything! It is DEFINITELY worth the admission price. If you come to New Orleans, make sure to go there; I wouldn't bring young children though, as some of the images are quite graphic, and aside from that, it would be pretty boring for them.

We were starving and pretty hangry after that, so we went to Starbucks and had a snack and FaceTimed with the kids for a minute. We hung out for a while, and made our way over to Bayou Burger on Bourbon Street. We wanted to go there because Marc had heard good things about their food, and it offered a prime location for people watching (the best thing about Bourbon Street, amiright?). The balcony was closed, but we were able to get a table right by the giant front window. We shared the Super Tots, and I ordered a beer and the Croquer:

"Bayou Burger’s twist on a French classic…Two burger patties with grilled ham and melted
gruyere cheese with a garlic cream spread on pressed brioche bread topped with a fried egg"
Between the tots and the beer, I was pretty full; the picture shows how much I left behind after I stopped eating. I know it sounds weird from the description, but it was soooo good! I try to be pretty adventurous when I go out to eat, especially at new restaurants that are known for funky food. (FYI, if you check in on Yelp, you get a free appetizer!) 

We walked down Bourbon for a little bit, and then went back to the hotel since I had to get up for work the next day. The next day was Tuesday, and back to reality!

All in all, we had a fantastic time and I thoroughly enjoyed being a tourist in my city.  If you're interested, check out Instagram and Facebook for more pictures from our weekend!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mental Health Monday - On Pain

Welcome to Mental Health Monday! This link up is hosted every 1st and 3rd Monday as an opportunity to share experiences with mental illness to let others know they are not alone. 

I had half of a post written for today's Mental Health Monday, but I had to change gears because of something that happened yesterday.

Yesterday at 8 in the morning, a bright, shining soul left this Earth to be with her Savior. Ashleigh, whom I've mentioned a few times, passed away yesterday morning following a valiant fight against a horrible, terrible form of breast cancer. I never had the privilege of meeting Ashleigh; I came to know of her story through a dear friend of mine (who is also battling cancer) who is friends with her.

Ashleigh was 30 years old and left behind a husband and 2 young children, so young that they will most likely have no memory of their mother.

I can't even imagine.

How do you even begin to deal with that? How do you tell your 2-year-old son that his mommy's not coming home? That he will never see her again? How do you comfort a 1-year-old who wakes in the middle of the night, desperate for his mama?

While I realize that you just get through it, it doesn't stop these thoughts from invading my head at night. It doesn't stop me from imagining myself in Ashleigh's place, thinking about how I might deal with the knowledge that I will almost definitely not live to see my children grow another year.

Ashleigh's story has stuck with me for so many reasons. We are the same age, with young children, and she is a friend of my friend, whose own cancer has proven difficult to treat.

Sometimes these thoughts, fears, invade my head, trying to convince me that I have no right to feel pain--anything that I am going through is nothing in comparison to what Ashleigh and her family, and my friend and her family, have gone through this past year. My pain is nothing compared to what Ash's husband, Brad, is going through now with the loss of his wife, left to raise 2 young children on his own.

But here's thing--pain is pain. Just because there are young mothers dying of cancer, children starving, fathers being killed on the battlefield elsewhere in the world--it doesn't diminish my pain. It doesn't diminish the pain I feel about my broken family, friends that I miss, or wishing that we had just a little more breathing room in our budget.

Pain is subjective, and nobody--nobody--can tell you whether your pain is or isn't worthy of being felt. Feel it, let it in, let it wash over you like the ocean's waves... then let it go. And keep moving forward. Keep going, don't stop, and you will make it through.

Ashleigh's faith remained strong until the very end. She never stopped believing, never stopped fighting, and she never gave up hope. Take a moment to read a bit of her blog, My Journey with Inflammatory Breast Cancer, and say a prayer or send warm thoughts for her husband and boys for the the coming days/weeks/months/years.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Thoughts - Vacation Prep (7/17)

Remember when I said that Marc and I really really needed a vacation from the kids? Well, it's happening! Tomorrow after my Weight Watchers meeting, we'll be driving 7+ hours to my in-laws' house in Tyler, Texas; then on Sunday, we'll drive back to New Orleans sans kids! (We will meet them in Alexandria, Louisiana (halfway between Nola and Tyler), on Thursday to retrieve our children.) I AM SO EXCITED.

We thought it would be nice to stay in a hotel in the French Quarter on Sunday night; the nicer hotels are all way out of our price range, but one of Marc's connections (one of the perks of his job) was able to hook us up and get us not just one, but TWO nights in the Hotel Monteleone for free! It's a very upscale, very New Orleans hotel. There's a rooftop pool and I fully intend on spending most of Monday poolside in my brand new bikini, Bloody Mary in hand :D

I'm pretty nervous about the drive, actually; last year, the longest trip we made was 4 hours and it wasn't terrible. The year we moved to New Orleans, I made several trips back and forth between Birmingham and New Orleans alone with the kids; Karinne wasn't even 2 yet, and Ryan was 3-4 months old. Between all the nursing stops and what I like to call "sanity" stops, it took about 6-7 hours to make what's normally a 5-hour trip. Those trips were miserable, horrible experiences. There were times when all 3 of us in the car were definitely crying! Anyway, I just don't know how it's going to go with the kids now that they're a bit older. I know we'll probably stop at least every 2 hours so Karinne can go potty, and a longer stop for lunch and play. Ideally, the trip would take about 6.5 hours, but I'm fully expecting this trip to take at least 7-8 hours.

I went out and bought lots of different kinds of snacks; some healthy, some not-so-healthy, but none of them are things I keep in the house so hopefully the novelty factor will entertain them for a minute. I also bought various coloring books, and mini-Mr. Potato Head toys, and we'll take their crayons, paper, magnetic paper dolls, and other random toys with us. I'm also taking a couple of cookie sheets with us to use as lap desks, and magnetic clips (to hold paper) so they have a decent surface to color on. I also found a CD of "Toddler Favorites" for $5; now Marc and I won't have to sing "I'm a Little Teapot" 30 times in a row (hopefully). We don't own an iPad or portable DVD player or anything, so one of my coworkers let me borrow her DUAL SCREEN portable DVD player; we're not planning on using it the whole time, but will definitely show at least a movie or two!

I know we'll be fine, and the trip will just take as long as it takes. Hopefully the visit will go well and Marc's parents will be willing to do this again the future. I also hope that Ryan goes to sleep more easily for his grandparents than he does for us!

Wish us luck!

Have you ever taken a long road trip with your little ones? How do/did you keep them entertained? Should I just give them Benadryl and call it a day?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Coffee and Running and Daiquiris, Oh My!

I feel like it's been far too long since I updated, but in reality it's only been a couple of days; I've been pretty active (I think) on Facebook and Instagram, so be sure to follow me over there! I'm pretty far behind on reading everyone's blog posts, so I'm working on that today as well.

If you aren't already following me on Facebook and Instagram, here's what I've been up to since Monday:

I had some extra time before work this morning, so I sat down with Geneen Roth's Women, Food, and God (still awesome!) and read for a few minutes while at Starbucks. My drink in this picture is a Tall Toffee Nut Mocha Frappuccino Light, with whipped cream and caramel drizzle for 5PP.

I went for a run along Bayou St. John last night after work. Bayou St. John is a little body of water near my house, and the surrounding neighborhood is named for it. I've been doing a lot of biking and a little running at the gym because it's so dang hot and mornings just haven't been working out for me lately, but I really wanted to get out and go for a real run. It was so hot and humid; I had water with me, but I still had to stop a couple of times for a couple of minutes just to allow my heart rate to go down. I did 2.8 miles at 2:1 intervals, but I listened to my body and just walked the last half-mile or so. It was brutal, but so worth it! I hadn't run this route before; I thought there was a paved path all the way along the water, but it actually stops about a quarter mile down and turns into a well-worn path through the grass. Occasionally I stepped off and ran in the street, but stuck to the grass path mostly. I'm sure that made the run a bit harder as well.
My route
Stopped for a short break

 And the most important part of this post--my first drive-thru daiquiri experience!

I want to talk about that daiquiri for a minute--drive-thru daiquiri stands are pretty much a New Orleans-only thing, I believe, but we've lived here for 2 years and hadn't tried it out yet. It was such a beautiful day on Sunday, and the kids were asleep in the car, so we thought, "why not?" You can get all kinds of flavors; I got Pina Colada, and Marc got traditional Strawberry.

I took 1 sip, and immediately it was way too sweet and fake-syrup tasting for me; a few seconds later, I took 1 more sip, just to be sure, and sure enough, I definitely did not like it. In the past, I would have drank it anyway because we paid money for it and I didn't want to "miss out on the experience," but this time I just held on to it and dumped in the trash when we got home. Score one for mindfulness! Paying attention to the food (and drink) I'm eating and really thinking about whether I like something, and choosing to only eat what I love has had such a huge impact on my eating habits; it's also played a huge role in helping to control the urge to binge. Turns out all those things they tell you to do actually work when you put them into practice; who knew? ;)

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Clothes Monster

I feel like there is nothing more terrifying sometimes, than trying on clothes--especially bathing suits.

Saturday, I wrote about my disappointing shopping experience and how it was disappointing for all the "right" reasons. I realized that it wasn't a big deal when something didn't fit well; in the past, I would have thought such horrible things about myself: "You're such a fat pig," "Why can't you just lose weight," "You're so ugly and fat." My heart breaks for the girl who thought these things about herself, how she thought she didn't deserve to wear cute, trendy clothes because she was bigger. Most of the stores out there certainly reinforce that idea with their lack of plus-size clothing in the store. I know I'm lucky that I can fit into an Old Navy XXL (hello vanity sizing!), but you'd better believe that I remember when I couldn't and how frustrating and maddening it was to only be able to shop in a few stores, most of which were either overpriced or completely unflattering.

I dream of the day when stores start carrying all clothes in all sizes, and plus-size women will no longer be relegated to 4 racks of clothing in some dark corner of the store or to crazy overpriced specialty stores. I've always felt like a big spotlight was shining on me every time I shop because the special sections and stores just scream, "HEY EVERYBODY, LOOK AT ME SHOPPING FOR FAT GIRL CLOTHES!" Why is it anyone's business what size I wear? How many women wear clothes that are too small because they refuse to be seen shopping for plus-sized clothing? It sucks, and it's not right that women (and men, but mostly women) put so much stock, so much of their self-worth in the size of their clothes and the number on the scale. These things, they're just numbers. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.

That being said, my primary focus for shopping this weekend was to find a bathing suit, and perhaps a couple of cute pieces that fit--not too much, but just one or two things that actually fit me that aren't leggings ;) Transitional wardrobes are hard! Anyway, I was actually looking forward to bathing suit shopping--a first for me! I really wanted to get a high-waist bikini; my current (one-piece) bathing suit is on its third summer, and while I love it, I just wanted a new one. I'm sure you've seen the various memes out there that say something like "To get a bikini body, put a bikini on your body!"; I also like this graphic from The Huffington Post:

This post from Angelina at Run.Chew.Sparkle inspired me to finally take the plunge and just go for it!

I'd been eyeing Target's selection but they never had the bottoms in my size--the most important part of the high-waist bikini, lol. I was going to just order one online, but then last night I went to Target to see if they'd restocked or had any returns; I was in luck! They actually had my size!

I wound up having to get a smaller size for the top (in the picture I'm wearing a 20W top); so I came home with an 18W top and 20/22W bottoms. I also got a pair of shorts (!!!) in a 20W; I feel like I've been a 22 forever, so I'm excited to finally be down a size!

And let's talk about this picture for a minute--I just posted a picture of myself in bikini on the Internet, for everyone to see. It's so crazy, so far out of my comfort zone--but I did it. And I love myself for it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Saturday Weigh In + Shopping

I was up just the tiniest of bits at this week's weigh-in; no biggie though, since I expect it following a large loss.

.2 is definitely a maintain, in my humble opinion
This week's meeting topic was about finding your pleasure, and taking the time to do something just for you. It was fitting, since I decided I wanted to go bathing suit shopping yesterday! I really wanted to find a high-waist bikini, but Target, Walmart, and Old Navy were completely picked over and really had nothing in my size.

I tried on the ONE bathing suit that Old Navy did have in stock in my size (XXL), and the fit was horrible! I do have a somewhat long torso, but it's usually not an issue; however, it was a struggle to get the suit even to my armpits, and the top was gaping--my breasts did not even come close to filling it out (and I'm a DD). Huge disappointment because I love the suit! It also has a low scoop back with a strap across so it looks kind of like a bikini from the back.

I tried on a ton of clothes; I was trying desperately to get some new, cute clothes because my most of my clothes are all getting to the point where they just look frumpy because they're so baggy. I appear to be in an awkward place where most XXL's are too big, but XL's are a little snug. I also tried on several different styles of rompers; I really didn't think I'd like them, but I actually loved the way they looked! Just one problem--Old Navy seems to be clueless as to how to fit clothes for women. The rompers all had adjustable ties in the top, but they were useless; if it fit my bottom half, the top half was literally hanging off of me, to the point that even the ties couldn't help. If it fit the top, it was waaaaaay too tight in the bottom. I am not even pear-shaped; or if I am, it has never been a problem before.

I wound up getting a dress and a casual button-down shirt. (If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you've already seen this.) The dress isn't perfect, as it gapes in the armpits, but I think it looks pretty good and I'm in desperate need of lightweight summer clothing!

Fashion blogger, I am not! Haha. (Dress appears to no longer be available online.)
NSV - Despite this shopping trip being extremely frustrating, it was frustrating for all the "right" reasons, if that makes sense. Sure, I came home mostly empty-handed, but it wasn't because I hated the way I looked in everything; I came home empty-handed because things just didn't fit properly or they weren't a good fit for my body. When something didn't fit right, I simply said, "oh well" and moved on. It was kind of amazing! I was trying on clothes I never would have even glanced at a year ago--rompers, shorts (the lone pair in my size that was in stock), a BATHING SUIT... the whole experience was so therapeutic.

I feel like it was a glimpse into a future where I can walk into any store and actually find clothes in my size and try them on, and I can actually choose my style rather than just buy whatever simply because it fits. I can't wait!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Thoughts (7/10)

  • The kids' bedtime has been horrendous lately. It was already annoying over the last several weeks because Ryan would get out of bed multiple times until he fell asleep, but ever since the 4th it's been insufferable. I'm thinking he might still be afraid from the fireworks? He won't go to sleep unless I'm in the room with him and he screams his head off when I leave the room. I'm worried that we're setting up a bad precedent, but I'm literally at my wits' end. I have no idea what else to do. Tonight, after being held hostage for an hour and a half, I finally just sat down in the chair in their room and he was out within 5 minutes. Perhaps this is the way bedtime needs to go from now on. I know the idea of staying in the room while the kid falls asleep is no big deal to some people, but it frustrates me because for so long, he'd just go to bed. He'd lay in bed, talk to himself a little, and be out. Now it's like an endless tug of war that I'm forever losing.
  • Ashleigh is still not doing well. She is very much dying, and it breaks my heart. Her doctors actually expected her to be dead already--a family member even brought her 2 babies to the hospital to say goodbye--but she's still here. She said she heard one of her doctors say something about a "miracle." She's definitely not cancer free, but God's given her a little more time on this earth and she's taking full advantage of it. Also, someone has started a fundraiser in her honor - all the proceeds will go towards research for her particularly nasty variety of breast cancer. Although breast cancer is one of the most overfunded diseases, her particular form (triple negative, inflammatory, metastatic) receives little to no money for research. Consider purchasing a t-shirt if you feel so inclined: Light & Momentary
  • Ben & Jerry's has outdone themselves with this flavor:

That is all. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Blog Header + Social Media

Just a quick update!

I finally sat down and made a header for my blog; very easy to do with PicMonkey as they have a Design option for "FB Cover" that is the perfect dimensions.

Speaking of Facebook, I took the plunge and made a Facebook page for the blog. Please go like it, as it looks a little sad right now with no followers :) Love Yourself Healthy on Facebook

I'm also going to attempt to be somewhat active on Instagram. I've always just used it as a means to make pretty pictures, so there are a lot of pictures of my children on there. I cleaned it up and updated it some, so it's ready to go! @steeners

That's all the shameless plugging for today!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Family Fun Day(s)

I don't normally write much about our day-to-day lives, but I really wanted to post about the fun we had over the July 4th holiday. Since Marc's schedule is somewhat unpredictable, we don't always make the most our of our weekends. Also, because we both work, a lot of cleaning happens on the weekends; we've been working to improve that lately, and it paid off because instead of spending last weekend cleaning house, we were able to get out and enjoy some time with the kiddos.

I was off work on Friday and Marc was working, so it was just me and the kiddos all day. We didn't do much--went to Chick-fil-a for a while for lunch and the park later on. The kids' bike helmets were in the car, and they insisted on wearing them. I wonder if that says anything about my driving?

When Marc got home, I went to the gym and rode the bike for 35 minutes, then hopped on the treadmill and ran 5 minutes and walked 5 minutes. I like to read my Kindle while on the bike, and I started Geneen Roth's Women, Food, and God. So far, it's really, really hitting home. I'm planning a few posts in the future to talk about it. 

Friday evening, we went to City Park's "3rd of July" event. The United States Marine Corps Band plays from 7-9, and then they have fireworks. We've always been pretty strict with bedtime, so we've never taken the kids to see fireworks before. This was also our first time seeing fireworks on Independence Day since, oh, 2008? We were in Korea 2009 & 2010, and in 2011 it was the day we were moving into our new house and I was 9 months pregnant and exhausted. Needless to say, it was a pretty big deal for us to go this year! We ate dinner, and then walked to City Park a little after 7. They both hated the loud noise; Karinne watched with her hands over her ears, and Ryan refused to look. I hope we didn't traumatize the poor kid! Overall though, we had a lot of fun!

We packed tortillas as one of our snacks, and in typical New Orleans fashion,
Karinne decided she needed a mask. 
Ryan pooped out around 8:30; we didn't mind since that meant we didn't have
to chase him around.
Walking home after the fireworks ended. They're a little tired ;)
Marc and I were hoping the kids would sleep in a little bit on Saturday since they didn't get to bed until 10, but alas, they were up by 7am. We wanted to get some donuts, so we decided to go to District Donuts on Magazine Street since our usual place was closed for the holiday. I've heard so many great things about District, and ohmygoodness I'm so glad we finally went. It was delicious. I did not take any pictures of my Berries 'n Cream donut, but I should have! It was not-too-sweet cream filled with strawberries and blueberries inside and on top. Yum!

Ryan ate his donut, finished Karinne's, and ate another 1/4 of a donut
before we finally cut him off.
Karinne insisted on wearing her crown. 
After breakfast, we headed to City Park. We decided to rent this bike contraption that we always see people riding on the weekends, but have never done ourselves, and it was so fun! Hot as balls, but fun. It was about 900 degrees outside with 300% humidity, and since I wasn't planning on doing physical activity when we left the house, I was wearing jeans. Lesson learned--always be prepared! Haha. I didn't take any pictures because we were having such a good time, but here's a picture of the bike thing:

Marc and I pedaled and the kids sat behind us facing the opposite direction.
For lunch, we went to Parkway Bakery, a restaurant known for their po' boys. We hadn't been there since we first moved to New Orleans, but I just had a craving for a good sandwich. I had an alligator sausage po' boy, Marc and Karinne shared a gigantic shrimp po' boy, and Ryan munched on a grilled cheese. We also had fried pickles. Everything was delicious!

After lunch, it was time for naps, and we just kinda chilled out for the rest of the day. It was perfect!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Be Kind to Yourself

Every year, my company sponsors a 4-day family vacation trip to Florida. We all go together and have a great time with our families, and it really gives us all a chance to connect (there are only 13 employees) and get to know each other better.

After last year's trip, we were looking at photos from the trip on the big screen in the conference room, and there was a somewhat close-up picture of my profile, hair partially covering my face, my big Jew nose front and center. I was embarrassed when the photo popped up, and in my typical self-deprecating fashion, said, "Man, check out that nose!"

Here's the thing--I wasn't embarrassed of my nose. I've always loved my nose because I think it's unique and it's a nod to my Jewish heritage. I was embarrassed because for the 2-3 seconds the photo was on the screen, I was the center of attention. I was so worried about potentially unflattering photos of myself showing up on the screen that I became ashamed of any photo in the slideshow. I had to be sure to get in front of any potential flaws someone might notice, and let them know that I was already fully aware. I couldn't let anyone get the idea that I actually liked the way I looked! It was disaster control, without the disaster.

I was cleaning up the folder with all the photos from that trip to put on our company server, and when I came to that picture, I just stared at it, analyzing every detail. Then it hit me.

It wasn't me in the photo. 

You guys, it was my boss's daughter. We're the same age, with similar coloring and similar features, and in being so utterly concerned with the chance of an ugly photo of myself being visible on a big screen for all to see my flaws, I didn't even notice that the photo wasn't of myself.

I instantly felt horrible for insulting her photo. When I looked at the photo again post-realization, all I saw was a happy woman smiling at her son. Yes, her son was in the photo too and I still thought it was me! I couldn't believe that I'd commented on her photo like that; if I'd known it wasn't me, I never would have thought those things because they simply weren't true.

And therein lies the crux of this idea of being kind to ourselves. Why did I think it was okay to talk about myself like that, to think such negative things about my appearance? Yet, once I realized the photo wasn't me, a switch flipped and suddenly I thought it was a beautiful, candid photo? If I wouldn't say or think it about another person, why is it okay to say or think such things about myself?

I learned a huge lesson that day about practicing kindness and self-love. If you wouldn't say it about another person, don't say it about yourself. We have to be kind to ourselves before we can be kind to others; even more importantly, we have to love ourselves before we can love others. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Weigh In + July Goals

My regular weigh-in day is Saturday, but since my WW center was closed due to the holiday, I went to a meeting on Friday and weighed in. It was packed since people from 2 Saturday meetings were there as well; I don't think they expected that many people to show up. It was refreshing though, seeing how many of us are so committed in our journeys right now.

Previous weigh in: 249.8
This weigh in: 246.8
Total loss: 35.6 

I had a great weigh in: I lost 3 pounds! My weight's been doing this big loss then gain/maintain then big loss thing, but my losses seem to make up for the weeks that I'm up so it's pretty obvious that those "gains" are just water. I'll take it! I was just looking at my "Goals" page, and I'm only about 1.5lbs from my next mini-goal of 245, which is my lowest weight post-2nd baby. That number seems so small to me! I still haven't given myself my 25-pound mani/pedi; sorta defeats the purpose of tangible rewards if I don't take advantage of them, huh?

Now, July goals. I swear I just made my June goals! Where is this year going?! Anyway, let's review:

Stay within PP for the week: I have done GREAT with this one. Just to clarify, this means stay within my daily, weekly, and activity points for the week. I only went over my PointsPlus for the week once, and that was 2 weeks ago; when it was all said and done, I was -21 for the week (and I had a .8 gain to show for it). Considering that prior to setting this goal, I'd gone over consistently several weeks in a row, this is a huge improvement.

Exercise 3x per week: Eh... working on this one still. My training plan has helped!

In bed by 11pm Sunday through Thursday: I've also done really well with this one! There were a few nights that it didn't happen because I was binge-watching Orange is the New Black, but overall I'm pretty proud of myself for just going to bed some nights when I normally would have stayed up until 12 or 1am.

I think that instead of writing all new goals, I'm just going to build on this list. I really liked my June goals, and I want to keep them up so the best way to do that is to keep them front and center. I also want to increase my water intake; a few weeks ago, I was part of a challenge to drink 100oz of water every day, and I felt great! (I also lost 4.4lbs that week, so that may have something to do with why I thought so highly of it.)

Mental Health Monday: No Shame

Welcome to Mental Health Monday!  Every 1st and 3rd Monday there will be a link up for writers to share their experiences with mental illness – either from their own experience or from the experience of helping and walking with others.  The goal is to reach out to the world and let people know that they are not alone in their struggles.  You are never alone.  Join us – link up, visit new blogs, support others.  Speak out:  “I am crazy…CRAZY AWESOME!”

My most recent experience with severe depression started in 2012. I didn't recognize it for a long time; I chalked up all my sadness to circumstance. I’d lost my job, our primary source of income; I gave birth; we had to start using WIC and SNAP (food stamps); we weren’t getting calls from any of the hundreds of jobs we’d applied for;  we had to sell our house; we moved to a new city; etcetera. My ego was beaten and bruised, and I doubted everything that I’d ever thought about myself. 

I thought that if I could just get a job, things would be better. Well, I got a job in October 2013, exactly a year and 2 weeks after losing my job. Things didn’t get better. I didn’t enjoy anything, I didn’t want to do anything. I practically sleepwalked through Ryan’s first year of life. I don’t remember much except that both he and I cried a lot. I’m certain that Karinne was there too, though I can’t recall any particulars. Depression stole a lot from me, and my husband and children, during that time. 

The bingeing was out of control. I’d get cookies and cupcakes and pretzels and eat them all in one sitting. My triggers of choice were bags of Lindor truffles and Ghirardelli squares; I’d buy them with the intention of eating one or 2 per day. However, they were always gone within a day, sometimes 2—always attempting to hide the evidence. Eventually, I started bringing the bags of chocolate to work. I’d hide the wrappers in various garbage cans, so maybe people didn’t notice that I was eating all of this chocolate. 

I was embarrassed, and I felt so ashamed.  Why couldn’t I control myself? Why was I so weak? Why didn’t I have any willpower? I’d cry as I stuffed more chocolate in my mouth, hoping, praying for numbness so I didn’t have to feel this way anymore.  My depression was affecting my marriage, my kids; Marc asked me to talk to someone, but I refused—talking to someone would require admitting that I was broken, that something was wrong with me. I couldn’t be broken, I had to be strong! And then I’d binge because I wasn’t strong; I felt like a fraud. If only I could stop stuffing my fat face, I could lose weight and then I could be happy. It was a vicious, vicious cycle.

It wasn’t until a particularly awful binge episode in my car in the parking lot at work that I finally started to think that maybe I had a problem, and maybe I couldn’t fix it myself.  I started to research Overeaters Anonymous, which led me to Binge Eating Disorder, which led me to a few different blogs where I learned that I wasn’t alone in my feelings and way of coping. I knew I had to change something. I joined Weight Watchers, and I started googling therapists who specialized in binge eating. A few days later, I made my first appointment with Mary. I was ready, and I was excited. And yet, I was still ashamed. What will people think of me if they find out I’m seeing a therapist? 

My husband was proud of me. My mother-in-law was proud of me. My therapist was proud of me. I was somewhat active on a WW message board and posted about it there, and they were very encouraging. 

Unfortunately, some people do respond exactly how you fear. I decided to tell my boss, since he’s a Christian and I thought I could use the extra prayer, considered all that I’d discovered/remembered all at the same time. That turned out to be a mistake; instead of being encouraging and praying with me, he implied that I was having problems because I wasn’t Christian enough, didn’t trust God enough. It was a terrible experience that I regretted because I trusted him and I feel like he violated that trust, but what’s done is done. Now that I’ve been through therapy and I know my boss’s personality a bit better, I know that just because lots of people seem to trust and admire someone doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily deserving of all that trust and admiration. 

I’m proud that I didn’t let my boss’s reaction deter me from continuing therapy; I knew that I needed it, and I was confident in that decision.  I want you to know that there is absolutely no shame in seeking treatment for your mental health, and the more of us that speak out about it, the more accepted it will become and more people will be inclined to seek the treatment they need. My only regret about all of this is that I put it off for so long. It’s the best thing I ever did for myself and my family.