It’s Been a Good Run

Once again, it has been far too long since I posted anything… excuses are many.  I have several drafts of various topics sitting in the wings – relationships with a chronic disease, working & being productive, some food posts complete with recipes and even a tattoo post!  I don’t know if writers block is a thing for a less than regular blog poster, but I certainly feel stricken by something like it.  Life, time, exhaustion, I could go on, but I will spare you.

But, this week, I had an extra large helping of reality and I need to put it down on paper, as it were.  And, what I REALLY need is some conversation & advice from my fellow IBD warriors, friends, family and suffers alike.  As I have mentioned before, I have always considered myself very lucky in terms of my disease – I am alive, I have all my bowel, can count all my notable flares on one hand and my symptoms have remained under control…. until now.

Truth time – for several months now, I have been very aware that my Crohn’s has been less in remission, more front and centre than I cared to admit.  Food sensitivity is at an all time high, sending me back to the early days when I had to plan my meals & snacks around where I was going to be.  Have a meeting at 1?  Better eat by 11:30 so you have plenty of time to get it out of your system.  Mornings have become a crap shoot (hahaha, accidental puns are the best) – I can get up at 5am and STILL be late for work because it takes 45 extra minutes before I can leave the house, and I may have to stop at Tim Hortons during my drive as well (Tims and MacDonalds are the best for bathroom stops).  My stomach makes so much noise during the day that my office mates are sure it’s possessed.  There is blood and mucus again, not all the time, but often.  Cramping, bloating & urgency are just part of my day to day routine now, and I have just adapted to it like it’s nothing.  But, I have also developed some new complications, things I have never experienced before.  Abscesses, obstructions, strictures, fistulas – all new and fun words I have had the pleasure of learning about in-depth over the last few months.  I mean, I have adjusted to all of this like a champ, I have changed my routines, add more time for bathroom breaks at the gym, stick around extra time after eating out, my work days are far more structured than anyone around me likely realises and in general, I had convinced myself I was A-OK.

Earlier this week though, I headed to a regularly scheduled GI appointment, and my little glass bubble of denial came crashing down around me.  It was already an appointment I was dreading, as I have been debating requesting a referral to another doctor (hang tight, you will get an idea of why…), but after sitting in his waiting room for 90 minutes PAST my scheduled appointment, I was just anxious to get my new RX for Immuran, my new blood req. form and be on my way.  Instead, we discussed, out loud, what I didn’t want to hear – that the symptoms I am describing means my disease is very much active.  His thought is that Remicade is not working as well anymore, he casually mentions that he is going to change my medication from Immuran as a supporting drug to something new – Meth-a-something or other, it’s being more widely used now.  Ok.  We discuss scheduling a blood draw during my next Remicade appointment, ok.  He tells me he will likely want to do a scope again soon – well that sucks, but ok.  He is concerned  that my abscess, which will NOT go away, is actually a fistula…. and hearing him say it outloud, I know I have suspected it for a few months now too.  He wants to make sure there is no stricture developing.  Damn, ok.  Oh, and if this new drug doesn’t work out, we may have to look at surgery later this year. Uh…wow, not ok.

Needless to say, I left his office in a daze – prescription in hand.  But it’s not until I get to my office that things start to get a little worse for me… see, it’s METHOTREXATE he has scribbled down on this piece of paper, and that sounds familiar.  All he has told me is that I will take it once a week and should “think about taking Folic Acid” with it.  Let me tell you, this is the understatement of the year, and I can tell you now that if I was kinda considering looking into changing GI Doc’s before, I most certainly am now….

Methotrexate.  I knew it sounded familiar, I have heard of it before.  Perhaps you have too – know what else it’s used for?  Chemotherapy for Lung & Breast Cancers.  What else?  Abortions.  OH, and lately, treatment for auto-immune diseases like Crohn’s & RA.  I should state, before I go on, that with what I have read online on medical websites, it is supposed to have a good rate of success for situations exactly like mine – moderate to severe Crohn’s Disease that is no longer responding to a treatment like Remicade alone.  Ok, positive aside… and forgive me, because right now, I am finding it VERY hard to be positive.  This drug that my GI casually handed me a script for, as if he was putting me on an anti-biotic, is huge – I will say again, it’s used for Chemo freaking Therapy.  Abortions.  Obviously, in my case, it’s given in a lower dose, but it still causes some fairly significant side effects… nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, hair loss, mouth sores, liver problems… and it is so toxic to an unborn fetus that even males who are attempting to have a baby or have a partner that is already pregnant should not take it.  That Folic Acid he suggested I might want to take?  Yeah, that’s an absolute requirement, not a suggestion or option.  Methotrexate depletes the level of Folate in your body, Folic Acid is the synthetic version of that is absolutely your only shot at reducing side effects.

Devastated.  That was my first feeling.  Something you may not know about me is that I have very much wanted to have my own baby for some time now.  I am with an amazing man who is an incredible father to two beautiful girls, and I have been fortunate enough to become a step mother because of it.  But I want one of my own.  My baby drive has been EXTREMELY HIGH for the last year, and I was really very sure that within the next year, I could be getting the ok to get pregnant – afterall, Remicade has been approved for pregnancy, and I was quietly excited.  I am not getting any younger and the news that my disease is active and the medication option given to me is used for ABORTIONS speaks volumes to my chances now.  Even writing this is painful – tears have been a super common accessory for me as of late.

Terrified.  That came next.  I was not given any indication of what I might expect once I start taking this medication from my Doctor – I got to find that out sitting at my desk at work, following my appointment.  Reputable medical websites list significant and scary side effects, but more than that, posts in forums and blogs I have found online confirm they are far more common than not.  I tried to stay hopeful, since technically Immuran and Remicade both list serious side effects as well, and knock on wood, I have been very lucky there.  But my hope fades quickly – I posted on my GutcheckYYC instagram, asking for feedback and experiences from others, hoping I would get many “it’s not that bad” or “it’s working for me, worth a few side effects!”.  Those posts didn’t come… instead, I got stories of medication induced bulimia due to the vomiting.  I got stories of hair falling out and spending 24 – 48 hours after taking it in bed because it affected people so badly.  I found out it can be taken as pills (as was prescribed to me) or can be self injected once a week.  I got MANY response from folks saying it might have worked, but they couldn’t take it long enough to give it a chance – 3 months of vomiting for a few days each week hardly seems worth it.  Bottom line is, I have become so enveloped in these horror stories, I cannot even focus on anything else.

This weekend I took the RX to my pharmacy, after some great advice from many friends and family, hoping to get started on the Folic Acid and further educate myself.  Instead, I left frustrated and even more concerned.  For starters, I need a prescription strength Folic Acid, over the counter doses are not high enough… he didn’t give me one of those, so I have to wait until the pharmacy can reach his office to correct that.  I am told I should be getting blood work on a very regular basis to monitor, among other things, my liver function because it could have some issues.  I am told I cannot take any NSAID’s at all while on this drug – I know, I know, you shouldn’t with Crohn’s anyway, but when you suffer from migraines as I do, taking nothing is hardly an option.  Bottom line here is, I am facing one of the biggest decisions I have had to make since I was diagnosed – what do I do here?  I need some help.  I need some folks who have had experience with this drug to reach out to me… I’m begging someone to tell me a success story with it and Remicade together.  I am praying for a response from someone who can tell me the side effects are out weighed by the fact they are in remission and have seen success despite it all.  I don’t know what to do here.  Do I want to get on the operating table?  Hell no.  Do I want to become sicker and sicker as Crohn’s advances further?  Absolutely not.  But, do I want to take something so toxic?  How do I proceed?  I just do not know.  As I had to leave a fun event on Friday night early because a trip to the bathroom revealed I was  bleeding, I think ok, maybe I need to do this.  But then the bleeding stops and I spend the weekend busy with workouts, errands and dates with my man and I wonder… if I start taking that, does it mean I won’t have the energy or ability to do these fun things anymore?

So that’s where I am at.  I won’t lie, I’m kind of a mess.  I tear up very easily, I am having nightmares.  I don’t want to be a burden to my family, to my friends.  I don’t want to lose my hair 😦  I don’t know what to do yet.  Don’t worry though, I am not just sitting idle, waiting for an answer to magically appear.  Part of my process is doing this blog – open conversation helps me sort stuff out, so lay it on me.  I have emailed my coordinator for Remicade to ask about the process for requesting a second opinion/referral to a new doc as well.  Bottom line here, whether I take this medication or not, I am a human being and do not feel as though I am treated that way – I feel like I am a number.  I should be allowed to play an active and invested part in my own health and treatment plans, and that is not an option I feel I have with my current GI.  I am also going to make an appointment with my Family Doctor for this week to discuss this new medication as well.  I am not going to put anything in my body until I understand it.

And now, it’s time for me to go pour a glass of wine and start dinner… because if not for any other reason, I am going to do my best to lead a productive life, to the absolute best of my ability.  I spent my day meal prepping, I have a week left in my 60 day challenge and I am going to crush this week no matter what.  I want to thank you as always for reading this far, truly, it means the world to me.

I promise to keep you updated, and I promise I will do whatever I can to stay healthy… just don’t know which way that takes me… yet.

 

Advertisements

New Year… Same Me?

Just so you have a visual, I am currently using a scarf as a blanket because it is so bloody cold in Calgary right now, I don’t think I have been truly warm for coming up on a week now.  We are talking -31 with wind chill, snow and ice everywhere, 2 hour commutes home and cars that don’t want to start – it’s that soul sucking cold that makes you want to crawl into bed with a heating blanket and just sleep until spring.  I’m telling you, those hibernating animals are onto something.

Anyway, I digress, the whole point of today’s post is to set up some goals and intentions for this week, month and year.  I decided a long time ago that resolutions at New Years were a solid thought, but kind of a futile exercise for me – I will admit, I hardly ever keep them and really just feel like it’s setting myself up for failure.  It’s always the same anyway – eat better, exercise more and consistently, drink less, be a better person, smile more, be an adult with your money… guess which one of these is hardest to keep?  So instead, this year, my “resolution” is to just be more goal orientated – short term, long term, and some in between.  I’ve set up a few things for myself to hopefully put me in a better place to get a lot accomplished this month, so here’s hoping (especially since it’s already almost half over…).

First thing’s first – as always, fitness and nutrition are making their appearance as the staring role, however this year it’s different.  This year, it’s not about specifically wanting to lose weight or fit a certain standard of appearance, it’s about wanting to feel better, be stronger, be healthier in general – that means a balance in all things.  The weight loss should come as a side affect of that, but it’s not my primary goal.  This year, my long term goal is simply to be a stronger, healthier and happier version of me – not just physically, but mentally as well.  Food and I have been in a life long love/hate relationship that often consumes my every waking minute.  Listen, I LOVE food, I love eating, I love the culture of it, I love eating out at a restaurant with my man, with a nice glass of wine.  I love going to a pub for wings & a few pints with friends, and I LOVE ordering a pizza and curling up on the couch and watching a Hockey game or a movie. I love cooking big meals for friends, I love having good left overs for lunch the next day at work.  Getting the point?  And here is the thing – that is ok.  What 2017 is about for me is being ok with that, and putting a balance in that allows me to also be happy with myself the next morning.  As for the working out, I’m going to focus on my love of that process too, because I also love walking into the gym, preworkout surging through me, settling into my routine and the feeling of accomplishment that follows.  I love being sore the next day, I love seeing the progress, and most of all, I love the confidence that it all creates.  See what I did there?  That’s a balance.

This year, I am also going to be nicer – to myself mostly, I try to be a good person to others, but I’m sure I could work on that too.  I’m going to be a better Mom, a better wifey, a better friend, a better daughter and sister, a better listener, a better communicator.  I have friends that I haven’t talked to in ages, I’m going to do better at letting them know I miss them, that I think about them, that time and space don’t put a dent in our history.  I’m going to remind people I’m freakin hilarious, and if you don’t hear from me for a bit, you can still say hi… I’m always here, even when I get caught up in my own world and let days, weeks or months pass after forgetting to respond to that text.  It’s a good time to admit something too – I don’t know what you would call it, maybe a bit of anxiety mixed with depression and lack of self confidence, but I have to tell you, sometimes I worry that when I don’t hear from someone for awhile, it’s because I have done something to offend them or upset them.  A huge fear of mine is that someone out there that I love is mad at me and I don’t know it, or don’t know why.  I am a lot of things – loud, abrasive, opinionated and trusting a to a fault, sometimes I know I rub people the wrong way, but I like to think the ones that know me know that it’s never intentional.  I get into funks where I kinda just look at my Facebook feed and go “look at them living life and not needing me in it”.  TRUST ME, I know that’s not the case, I know that’s in my head, but it’s out there now.  Imma work on it this year, aight?

Short term goals now!  This one I am super excited about too, over December, after returning from Mexico and browsing through all them bathing suit pictures, I kinda realised, at what point do I stop complaining about the way I think I look (real or imagined) and ACTUALLY make some real, lasting changes.  As if they heard my thoughts, Magnum Nutraceuticals, the Canadian supplements company I strongly support and use, put out a 60 Day Challenge on Instagram.  Completely free,  participants would receive a full 60 day plan – not just workouts, a full nutrition, supplement and workout guide.  Just the kick in the ass I needed, so I promptly signed up.  The guide that was sent is great, nothing unrealistic for the average person, easy to follow and understand, and it even includes videos from the awesome team at Magnum to demo exercises you might not understand.  The workout plan is based on a 3 day split for weights – upper body, lower body and full body, abs with each, and 2 days of LISS initially, moving into HIIT a few weeks in.  There are two days of active recovery built in as well, which is great.   The supplement guide is suggestion based – none of it is required, but there is detail on each one they suggest and why, plus how to take it.  Being a Magnum supplement lover already (I plan on doing a blog post on supplements later – having IBD and taking stuff is a tough little game of trial and error), many of the suggestions are already in my stack… the H1-5 BCAA’s & Quattro protein are a staple in my house, and while we bounce around with several different pre-workouts, the stimulant free Opus is one of my favs.  Thanks to a sale at my favorite Supplement store right after Christmas, I was able to affordably round out the suggested stack by adding their CLA, Acid, and a vitamin pack called Primer, which I was excited to try.  The best part of this plan though?  The nutrition plan… it’s MACRO BASED.  I will discuss my experiences with Macros separately, because that is a whole other subject I will go on about, but the bottom line here is while there is a bit of a learning curve, Macros = setting me up for that balance thing I was speaking of.  No boiled chicken, brown rice and broccoli for this girl – I just had what I have dubbed “second breakfast” that included egg whites and turkey bacon, smothered in sriracha, so I’m a happy girl.  The #MAGNUMCHALLENGE formally started this past Monday, January 9th – the only other requirement to be eligible for the prize ($650 prize pack from Magnum for top male and female changes) is to send in “before” pictures.  So, my goal this week is to crush this first week, and so far so good – macros are on point each day, workouts are getting done (and let me tell you, I under estimated these, but i will go into that more in a later post) and I’m actually remembering to take all my supplements in the stack!   Medium term goal is to complete this challenge and remain dedicated to it – so far, I feel like that is going to be pretty easy to accomplish!  I am still working up the nerve, but I am pretty sure I will post the before and after shots for you all too… a little extra motivation for me to bust my booty.

A few other short term goals for this month?  I would like to blog a heck of a lot more… I have a bunch of topics I want to discuss, including the rest of my story, medication experiences, some complications that are on my horizon and my personal fav thing to discuss – TATTOOS.

One final note, for those keeping score at home, the Gut Check Charity Spin & Yin is kicking butt!  I only have 5 seats left and some amazing prize donations coming in, I am so excited for the big day.  I am going to take lots of pictures and video and will be sure to post on the end result to share with anyone that can’t make it.  Don’t forget, you don’t have to be in Calgary to participate – you can become an honorary rider by donating directly to the CCC through my personal page.

Happy hump day beautiful people… let me end today with the recipe for these delightful egg cups I had for second breakfast.  ENJOY!

Turkey Bacon & Egg Muffins

makes 12 egg cups – 6 servings (2 cups per) *when using a standard muffin tin

Preheat your oven to 375

line your muffin tins w/ muffin cups if you want to prevent sticking

  • 6 whole eggs
  • 1 container of egg whites (I use the Kirkland ones from Costco)
  • 1/2 package or 12 strips of turkey style bacon, diced into small pieces
  • 1/2 a large white or yellow onion, diced
  • Franks hot sauce – optional & to taste
  1. use a bit of coconut oil to fry up your onions and turkey bacon, until the bacon has some crisp to it and the onions are browned
  2. in a large bowl, whisk your eggs and egg whites together *if you are adding hot sauce, add it here
  3. once bacon & onions are cooked, spoon evenly into each of the muffin tins
  4. divide your egg mixture between each, I find it helps to tap the pan down a bit, let the eggs settle in with all the bacon & onions, then top each up – fill right to the top
  5. bake for 20 – 30 minutes on the middle rack until they are set – have risen a bit in the middle and there is no more liquid
  6. Pop out and cool on a rack
  7. keep in your fridge or freeze them in baggies

I keep mine in the freezer, pop out two the night before, stick in the fridge, then in the morning before I head to work I peek off the wrappers, sprinkle in a bit of cheese and a LOT of sriracha, then heat up at work and eat.

 

 

 

So Excited!

Where has the time gone?  I did NOT intend to leave such a gap between my posts… but life has this nifty little habit of getting in the way of so many things.  And now, suddenly, it’s just days away from Christmas and so much has happened.

I have lots of ideas I will spit out over the next few weeks, but FIRST, some amazingly exciting news – though for anyone that follows my @GutcheckYYC instagram account, it’s old news.   On January 28th, I am hosting what will hopefully be the first instance of an annual event – the Gut Check Ride to raise funds for Crohn’s & Colitis Canada and their “Make it Stop.  For Life” campaign.  This little event includes a charity Spin & Yin (combo Spin & Yoga) class and a fun little after party, and I could not be more pumped to share the details with you.  The class is being held at my favorite spot, Hot Shop  Spin & Yoga – at their Northwest/University location in Calgary.  The amazing folks there have very generously donated the studio and instructor time, so all proceeds raised for the event go towards my cause.  I do have a few spots left, for anyone in YYC who wants to participate, there is a minimum $30 donation required – comment below or use the contact page to email me.  If you cannot attend, but want to contribute, you can make a donation directly to the CCC through my donation page to attend in spirit as an “honorary rider”.  Spin is something I have really gotten into this year, and I can assure anyone who is on the fence that this is will be a completely positive and fun environment that only encourages everyone to do the best they can.  And… if it’s the Yoga that has you hesitating, let me tell you… this girl is completely green as well.  I have attended a total of one single yoga class in my entire life, and am about as flexible as the wooden stir stick in my coffee right now.  For real, I would be lying if I told you I was not at all intimidated, so if I can do it, so can you!   Afterwards, I encourage all participants and any honorary riders who want to partake to join us at Brewsters in Crowfoot for a pint and some food.

To make the Gut Check event even more successful, I have been seeking the support of local YYC businesses for donations of prizes for contests and raffles during my event – the name of the game is fundraising here folks.  Calgary is full of some amazing businesses, and in today’s economy, supporting local has never been more important, so I began reaching out to businesses that I love.  We have some exciting prizes lined up, including a few freshly filled Growlers of locally brewed Kombucha from True Buch (a personal fav of mine… but I will get into Kombucha in another post), and a Gift Certificate from the incredible Cru Juice, a Calgary based cold pressed juice company that has saved me in times of flare ups.  We have two beautiful, hand crafted necklaces from the wonderful Sophie of Tribes Society Jewellery & Metalwork, also based in Calgary and a Gift Certificate from White Rose Vegetarian Kitchen, located in my own community of Bowness, this place is wonderful for veggie and meat eaters, with an appreciation for great food, alike!  We also will have the Promo Team from Popeye’s Supplements on hand hooking up participants with some samples and some supplement advice.  All around, this is shaping up to be a great event, I cannot wait to post pictures and share with you how much money was raised!

Why am I doing this?  Well, aside from the obvious self-preservation motivation of you know… wanting to find a cure for this little disease of mine, I find myself overwhelmed by this urge lately to raise awareness for the CCC and all they do, as well as these diseases that fall under the IBD catagory.  As you have already seen a bit, through my previous posts, my experiences leading up to diagnosis were not exactly pleasant… and the scary thing is, I had (and still do honestly) it relatively EASY compared to a lot of other people.

The fact of the matter is, Crohn’s and Colitis are not simple, they are not easily explained with a short list of symptoms.  There is no list of foods that all of us can avoid that will promise a stay from symptoms.  There is no list of guaranteed symptoms I can tell people to watch out for.  Even the name Irritable Bowel Disease can be slightly misleading, in my opinion, because our symptoms and experiences are not limited specifically to tummy troubles.  My experience is not the same as others, and if you have IBD, or know someone who does, some of my points may ring true, and others may have you going “oh, I didn’t get that”.  Every single day I hear something from someone else, through social media or my own daily interactions, that makes me go “hmm… I didn’t know that”.  It is only through the awareness, programs and communities that Crohn’s & Colitis Canada exposed me to that I began to find my own place and voice in this new world.  Attending the GUTS 2016 conference in Calgary re-inspired me to get involved, and I hope maybe I can inspire someone else.  You don’t have to have IBD, or even know someone that does, to get involved either.  Three Albertans will be diagnosed with Crohn’s or colitis TODAY… and the instance of children being diagnosed is sharply on the rise as well.  The CCC is the only National, volunteer based charity focused on finding cures for Crohn’s and Colitis, but it doesn’t stop there – they are also dedicating to improving the lives of those of us affected.  There are programs like the recently launched in Calgary, GoHere, that has collected over 166 businesses to provide washroom access (could have used this one in Mexico, but I digress…), and Camp Got2Go, a summer camp in Bragg Creek for kids with IBD.  There is the PACE Network – elevating patient outcomes in Canada with IBD Centres of Excellence at the U of A and U of C, which are taking the lead in advancing treatments to reduce steroid overuse (if you have read previous posts you know how I feel about steroids).  There is also the Gutsy Peer Support Program, a confidential online portal with volunteer mentors who provide psycho-social & emotional support to 250 mentees.

Oh, and did I mention RESEARCH?  The CCC has invested over $100 MILLION since they were founded in 1974.  This year alone, they are investing $6.5 million to research in Canada, fuelling 7 research grants at 2 Alberta Universities.  I strongly believe that while we may not have a full on cure in my lifetime, we are well on our way to something very real.  Every day, new and promising ideas come forward about treatment options and that is thanks largely to the CCC and people like you and me who want to make a difference.

I will step off my soapbox now, I know I just spewed a lot of facts and stuff at you.  Either way, I hope to see some of you on the bike on January 28th, it is going to be a GREAT time.

Are you doing something in your area to raise awareness you want to talk about?  Comment below and let me know what you are doing, I love hearing about all the different ideas and efforts around the country & world.

And of course, Merry Christmas to you and yours.  I hope you have some time planned to sit around with family and friends.

 

It’s No Surprise To Me…

… I am my own worst enemy, and every now and then I kick the living sh!t outta me…

Not going to lie, I have had that song  and this topic, in my head for weeks now.  In fact, there are many drafts sitting on hand, having started this post more than a few times.

It’s one thing to talk in general terms about the insecurities we have as women, as humans, or to admit that you have “fat pants” that you wear on applicable days.  Hell, I could easily sit face to face with you and admit that my middle name should be “yo-yo” for all the times in my life I have had to re-stock my closet with different sizes.  What I struggle with is talking about how I see myself, truly… how I talk to myself… how despite all that, sometimes I get stuck in my own head and cannot motivate myself to do what I need to do to feel better.  It is hard to admit that in this state of mind, I can easily justify making things worse by making poor food choices, which naturally leads to more guilt and self loathing.  It is painful to tell you that at a certain point I can SEE what I am doing, I become very aware of it, and sometimes not even that is enough to snap out of it.

At a certain point, when I get really bad, I catch myself doing what I consider the worst stage of this little spiral – I start to use my disease as an excuse.  That statement right there fills me with shame.  You see, from day one of being diagnosed with Crohn’s, there is a specific characteristic of our “community”, of any chronic illness community at all really, that has always bothered me a great deal.  That is the penchant for letting the disease we suffer from become us, and the tendency to let it become an excuse to do very little and be miserable, and in that moment, we let the disease win.  In that moment, it has you.  And when I let it, I am just as bad as the people that drive me crazy.  When I was first diagnosed, I spent a lot of time on google, and I found a million forums and blogs about IBD, the majority of them full of negative comments about how miserable life is with a disease, all suffering, no bright spots.  People would post asking for advice on how to handle some symptom or scenario and dozens of others would respond, eager at the chance to talk about their own bad experiences.  What I am saying now is likely going to piss some folks off, but it doesn’t make it less true – but rarely, if ever, did I see anyone say “it will be ok” or “you will get through this”.  Disappointment, frustration and sadness is all I feel when I see that.  Yes, IBD makes life less than ideal, and I am well aware that I have had it relatively easy compared to many others, there is no denying there are bad times that are worth talking about.  However, we do not speak enough about the good, and THAT is what I want to change by being honest with you.  There are a ton of great days, there are little wins, little tips and tricks you pick up along the way that work for you – things you learn to adjust in your life.  We need to share more of these things.

All that said, clearly, I do let the negative side envelope me from time to time as well.  I try, however, to keep it inside.  I might tell myself, in private, that I can’t make it to the gym today because my stomach hurts and I don’t want to get all the way there only to spend 30 minutes in the bathroom and then have no energy to workout.  But I won’t say it out loud to anyone else.  All this attitude does is work against me and I am hoping that by sharing this with you that I might find my self again too.

My true self is a loud mouthed, opinionated blonde who loves horror movies, music from the 90’s and really loves her little life.  I am hilarious (clearly), extremely social and, as it turns out, fairly vain.  I have always been insecure, I have just learned how to hide it a bit better as I got older.  When I was a teenager, I was, by all standards, considered a fat kid.  I was lazy, never considered the pros and cons of food choices and suffered for it – I was bullied for a long time.  After I graduated high school, I dropped a bunch of weight and found a new confidence I had never had before, but I hadn’t really made any positive changes – needless to say, I entered a cycle of unhealthy yo-yo’ing – well into my 20’s I went up and down.  Then, after being on Prednisone for a while, I hit my highest weight ever and swore I would never let that happen again.  It took me until I was almost 30 to realise that I had to think about what I ate, for my overall health and weight, as well as get serious about activity.

Like many people, my relationship with the gym is kind of a love hate thing.  However, now, in my 30’s, it is generally more love.  I am in the best shape of my life, doing more than I ever have before – weight lifting has made some real changes, changes I can see and feel, the satisfaction of bumping up my weights because I am getting stronger is the best feeling.  The challenge lies in getting over these bumps in the road where I let the negativity set in, and sometimes, it comes out of nowhere.  When I am going to the gym 4 – 5 days a week, I feel confident and good, it’s amazing how my outlook on my own body can change over night after a good gym session.  When I am at the gym, I am on top of the world – I have no problem with motivation once I am there, being surrounded by other like minded people helps me, and I will stay until I can’t lift my arms anymore or walking makes my legs shake.  I’m good at it too – I know what I’m doing, my education ensured that, and while I realise I don’t look like those fitness folks on Instagram, I really do love it.  When I get into a good cycle and am going consistently,  I even start to become part of the regular crew of muscle heads in the free weight area and I love it.  I can SEE changes, and while I still have some flaws and some things I don’t love about myself, in this upswing, I know I’m not training for a competition, only for myself, and I’m good.  I walk with confidence and my head held high.  When my pants don’t fit quit right, I’m able to easily understand it’s because I upped the weights on the squat rack, when my blouse won’t fit, it’s because my shoulders and arms are finally showing the results of hard work.

But… in an instant, I can drop off into a downswing.  Lately, it’s a shake in my confidence that has got me down.  You see, I was feeling great, just like I said, I was sure I was kicking some butt and doing well.  Then I saw a bunch of pictures of myself over a few days I thought I looked great.  Literally, on each of those days, I looked in the mirror and thought “you look good, nice job”.  But the pictures showed a person I didn’t recognise, flaws I didn’t see in the mirror, and in that moment, I shut down.  I’m sure my friends and family think I’m crazy – all adamant they don’t see what I do, but I can only think of one thing – is that REALLY what I look like?  And just like that, I am looking in the mirror and seeing every single dimple, seeing rolls I didn’t see before, a double chin suddenly, and it’s all downhill from there.  I know it’s not logical, if I really feel that way, what I should be doing is hitting the gym again, but instead, I retreat into my mind.  And my mind is not very nice.    So, that’s where I have been for the last few weeks, but I have to admit, even by writing this out, I feel a little better.  In fact, I was planning a gym trip today, a slow ease back into things, but I am bed ridden instead with one hell of a chest/sinus infection – a little oops on my part for getting a Remicade dose when I had sign of acute infection (what I thought was just a cold, but a mistake on my part none the less).  So, once this little set back works its way out of my system, I will begin my climb back up out of this hump and into the light again.

It’s a funny thing, the logic that gets me here, but I am working really hard to reduce the frequency of these swings to the negative, I can’t promise that it will never happen again, but I am working on it.  That’s all I can do.  I have already made some improvements, my eating habits have improved a great deal over the years, and while I’m not perfect (I LOVE me some pizza and the occasional late night DQ run), I do my best to make solid choices and follow the 80/20 rule.  All I can do is go up, right?  Thanks, again, for stopping by.  Have a great weekend!