What Does That Mean?

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Ever wonder why my blog is named “Finally Finding Me”? Well, let me tell ya.

I started blogging at a pivotal time in my life. I had experienced post partum depression after having two of my sons. I had gone through a lot of issues with self-esteem and self-worth that had negatively affected my marriage. I struggled with alcoholism and had not been the mother I should have been to my sweet boys. I had been an absolute mess for years.

After a medical emergency that put me in an amazing position to come to Christ (I’ll blog about that some day), getting alcohol out of my life and focusing on God first and letting Him heal me and restore my family…I decided it was time to start blogging. I find writing to be extremely therapeutic. And so, Finally Finding Me was born, because I felt like I was finally finding me after all of the junk I had eliminated from my life.

Now, do you completely find yourself in one instant and that’s that? Absolutely not. I’m still finding me in different ways, but for the most part, I would say I have a pretty good grasp of who I am and my worth. That being said, I still have my struggles and allow the negative voices to creep in every now and then and I have to remind myself of Whose I am and just what I’m worth.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled big time with body image and bad feelings about my weight and things like that. Having gained 16 pounds in the past four months for seemingly no reason that I can pinpoint besides it possibly being connected to some health issues I’ve been having has really been a little rough on me. To be honest though, I told Brian a couple of weeks ago that while I’d of course like to be thinner, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. That is the absolute truth. I told him that I just feel like I like the person I am and who I am becoming.

Now, as I was starting to pack for a big camping trip today and realizing how many of my clothes don’t fit because of my recent weight gain, I was feeling slightly bummed about it, but certainly not to the point that I used to would have been. I instead was thinking about how that wasn’t going to affect my time or ruin my fun. That was something that really made me realize just how far I’ve come, because the old me would have ended up crying and yelling with frustration. Not anymore.

You know what really made a huge impact on me though? A friend had stopped by to pick something up from me and we were talking about how she had to tie some of her daughter’s tank top straps in the back with a ribbon to keep the straps from falling down and she had to have her wear belts with all of her pants and shorts because she was so skinny (she is 10). I said “I can’t say I’ve ever personally experienced that.” and kind of laughed. My friend went on to say, “I see pictures from when I was younger and I was tall and skinny like that and then something happened, I think it was called kids.” We both laughed and then she said “No, really though, I love my body.” She went on to say that sometimes her kids make jokes about her belly and stuff, but that she truly loves her body. You know what? That made me realize that I’m actually learning to love my body too.

No, I’m not skinny. In fact, right now I’m pretty chubby. But you know, I’m realizing just how little that really matters to me. Of course, I don’t want to be unhealthy, but I also no longer care about working hard to make my body look a certain way. I want to be active and try to eat decently, but I refuse to have to obsess over every little thing I put in my mouth or force myself to do workouts that I hate.

I just want to be happy being me, whatever that looks like. No matter what my outside looks like, my inside doesn’t change and I’m really liking who I am on the inside. I think that right now, more than ever, my blog title fits. I’m Finally Finding Me.

Headaches, Throat Lumps, Weight Gain and Exhaustion

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These are just a few of the things I have been dealing with over the past couple of years. I have had freezing cold extremities, total brain fog, etc. that I have been dealing with and tried to tell doctors about and was brushed off and even talked to condescendingly, instead of taken seriously about something that was really bringing me down.

I rarely go to a doctor, like maybe once every couple of years (besides my yearly womanly checkups) and I am pretty much a toughy when it comes to pain or just dealing my way through different things, but this has been going on for years and was really starting to make me feel depressed. I mean, how discouraging to be treated like you’re making things up when you try to tell someone about something that is very real and upsetting to you.

Well, just before Christmas, I started getting this pain in the left side of my neck and jaw and even into my ear. I got where I could feel a distinct lump in my throat on the left side, yet nothing was able to be felt from the outside, but that area was extremely tender. It scared me, but with the excitement of the holidays, I tried to ignore it and it eventually went away. A few weeks later though, it returned and even worse than before.

I am a migraine sufferer and they take me down for at least two days a month and the next time I got a migraine, the pain in my neck and ear intensified. After that, the pain would come for a few days at a time and then kind of go away. I kept trying to ignore it and just shrug it off, but then it got so bad that it was actually starting to scare me.

I made an appointment with my primary care physician and promised myself that I was going to make sure that it was looked into and that I was not going to be dismissed. My doctor was really awesome and agreed that it needed to be checked into. He did blood work and said that before we got into any kind of scans or anything, he would like to send me to the ENT to do a scope into my throat and things like that and asked me if I was ok with that idea. I told him I was and they made me an appointment to see the ENT.

About a week later I went to the ENT and he did a scope and said he couldn’t see anything of concern, but that my left tonsil was larger than my right and that I had a couple of pockets in it that were large enough that food particles could get in them and that being a migraine sufferer, I am more sensitive to things and feel things more than other people might. He decided to have me try taking an antibiotic and a steroid to see if that would help and set me up with a follow-up appointment for 6 weeks later. I was excited and hopeful that that was all that was going on.

Well, a couple weeks later I was still having issues with my throat and ear and then I got a migraine and pretty much thought I was going to die. The pain in my ear especially was so intense that I felt like I was losing my mind. I have never had one so bad. I gave it a couple days and even after the migraine was gone, I was still in so much pain that I basically began to panic a little. I have never felt so incredibly miserable and in so much pain in my life (well, besides childbirth, but you expect to feel that way then).

I knew it was more than a tonsil with a food particle stuck in it and since I had finished the antibiotic and was almost done with the steroid and had gotten no relief and instead felt worse than ever, I knew I had to have things looked into further. I called my doctor’s office where one of the girls in the office typed up all the information and sent it back to the doctor and after he saw it, she called and said that he agreed it was time to do some kind of a scan and they set me up for a CT scan of my neck.

Fast forward to 2 weeks later and I got the results that the CT scan had found nodules on my thyroid and the doctor wanted me to go in for an ultrasound of my thyroid. I have that appointment today at 3:40. The results from the ultrasound and the CT scan will be sent to my ENT for my follow-up appointment next week.

I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I trusted my instincts and stuck to my determination that I was going to be taken seriously and have things looked into. I have gained 16 pounds in 4 months, could pretty much sleep all day every day if someone would let me, have feet and hands that feel like ice the majority of the time and just all around feel cruddy a lot of the time. It makes me feel really down sometimes and I am just so over it.

I don’t know what today’s ultrasound will reveal or what the next steps will be, but for now I am just thankful that my doctor cared enough to hear me out and take my concerns seriously. I am praying for answers and for a plan of how to start feeling better, without this being anything serious.

If you would, please say a little prayer for me. I know the power of prayer and I will be very thankful for any that are sent up for me.

I will be sure to update with what, if anything, they find and how things are going along the way. I’m just so ready for answers.

The Struggle is Real…For Real

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It’s time to be honest about how I’m doing with my whole health journey. Let’s just say, not all that great. I have been a little more active, but not eating good at all. I was feeling more confident about myself though and then the usual happened.

I swear that every time I start to feel comfortable with who I am and where my body is, suddenly something happens and I feel like the most disgusting creature on earth. Ok, maybe that’s a little overboard, but I do end up feeling just really crappy about myself and my body.

For instance, on Tuesday I went out to dinner with some awesome girls from my Youth Group and one of the Youth Pastors who is also a friend. I figured I would get dressed up a little for the occasion. I was feeling a little thick around the middle (which has been a bit of a struggle since the unexplained weight gain I’ve experienced recently), but was overall feeling pretty good. Here is what I wore…

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I had a really great time out with the girls and came home feeling great. That fell apart a couple hours later.

Before bed, I decided to get out what I was going to wear the next day for the field trip I was going on with my youngest son, Asher. I figured it would save me time in the morning and I’d just feel better knowing at least that part of getting ready was done. Well, that’s when it all went downhill. What I was picturing I would wear looked absolutely horrible. These 10 pounds have made several of my clothing items unwearable. I’m talking clothes that fit loosely on me last summer that I even considered getting rid of because they were a little too big (I’m actually 15 pounds heavier than I was at this time last year) are now too tight. You can imagine my irritation, disgust and finally devastation after outfit after outfit I tried didn’t fit me or just looked terrible. I’m not going to lie, I had myself a good little cry.

Why is this getting to me so much? Why, when I just get feeling accepting of myself do I feel like I suddenly can’t stand what I’m seeing in the mirror? I think I know why. Because every time I feel like I am overcoming this, the devil knows it is my weakest point and the thing that bothers me more than most and guess what? He uses it against me. Because when I’m feeling good about myself, I’m more thankful to God and I’m more confident and I find myself getting out there and being happier and being in more circumstances where I can be a good witness and glorify Him. Um, the devil clearly isn’t into me being that happy, confident person. So, what better way to detour me than to fill my head with the lies that I’m fat and gross and people are surely looking at me and thinking “Wow, what happened to her? She got fat!”. If that doesn’t make you want to stay home, what does?

So, there I was, standing in my room, looking in the mirror and crying. Feeling sorry for myself and just wanting to somehow come down with some sickness that would keep me from having to go to the school in the morning and be seen by all of the teachers I used to work with and the parents I know and having them see how “gross” I’ve gotten.

Well, you know what? I recognized what was happening and when I went to bed, I prayed hard for Jesus to help me see me like He does. For me to see past weight and to not let the devil leak his lies into my life.

I woke up in the morning feeling much better. Now, did I feel super confident, no. But did I feel like it would have been better for me to be sick and miss out on a great day making memories with my son than to be seen looking a little different than what I would ideally like to? Of course not! Just typing that makes me realize how irrational and unhealthy those thoughts were! You know, I didn’t see one person look at me with scrutinizing eyes. Asher hugged me several times, sat on my lap when we were having ice cream and cuddled with me on the bus ride back and he didn’t once look at me with any kind of disgust, but only with complete love and adoration. The people who love us don’t see the imperfections we see, they simply see us.

Here’s what I ended up wearing for the field trip. I didn’t like the outfit and didn’t feel great in it, but it was my best option for the moment, so I took it. Please excuse the mess in my room from me frantically throwing clothes around, trying to find something to wear.

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I honestly didn’t take this picture with the intention of sharing, I took it to try to get a better idea of what I would like from others’ perspectives. I’m smiling only because I feel totally weird when I don’t smile in pictures. You know what though? I want to be real. The struggle is real and it’s something so many of us deal with. So, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be real, even when it’s messy or not all sunshine and rainbows.

I talked to my husband and we are going to go back to juicing (I want to do it twice a day and then have a healthy dinner) like we had done for a little while. I felt really good then and didn’t have the bloated, miserable feeling I’ve had lately. I’m going to step up my activity level a bit too. I started doing squats Tuesday night and yesterday and am going to continue with that, along with adding some other exercises. Those will go along with my walking and possibly spending several minutes a day dancing like a lunatic to some fun music (hey, I have to be inventive and make it fun because I am not a fan of working out at all). I just know I will feel so much better. Cutting waaaayyyy back on sodium will be a huge help too.

So there ya go, my latest moment of breakdown. From that breakdown though, I’m building back up and I’m still going shopping for shorts this weekend. To all of you girls/women struggling along with me…we’ve got this! The struggle is real, but we will win!

Physical Appearance vs. Contentment

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And here, my friends, is my greatest nemesis when it comes to contentment. This is the one that I still struggle with, but that as I’m getting older, I’m starting to gain more confidence in. Physical appearance and more specifically in my case, my body. Now, this can apply to your facial features, your hair, your skin, etc. The one thing they all have in common is that none of them should get in the way of your happiness or contentment in life.

I’ve struggled with acne for pretty much as long as I can remember. When I was in junior high/high school, I had acne so bad that I had to see a dermatologist. I remember hearing my cousin (when she thought I was sleeping) saying “Danielle is so pretty, but she has zits so bad.” I couldn’t be mad at her because I knew my skin was terrible. I wish I could say that it ended when I was young, but I have suffered with cystic acne along my jawline since I had my youngest son (9 1/2 years ago). I’m talking huge acne that couldn’t be popped in any sort of way and once it was gone, would leave marks for a good month. Just within the last two months or so, I have noticed that stopping. It’s about dang time, since I’m 37 years old! The reason I mention this is because I know it seriously affected my confidence and made me extremely self-conscious in a lot of situations. Not very conducive to being content with your physical appearance.

In much of the same way, I have struggled with my weight for years. I am very short (barely 5’1″) and have a pretty thick build. When you’re this short, even a 5 pound weight gain is noticeable. You can imagine what I looked like pregnant and I did not do well losing the baby weight. 3 kids later, with holding onto a decent amount of weight from each of them…I found myself very uncomfortable with my body. Now, some lifestyle changes (like stopping drinking alcohol almost 7 years ago) helped me lose a lot of that weight. About 5 years ago, I did really well and lost 30 pounds and felt amazing. I kept it off well for almost a year and then 20 of it slowly crept back. Most recently, I gained 10 pounds within a month and a half (and am currently having some medical things checked out to see if it’s part of some other issues I’m having) and I have felt so down about it. I’m thick everywhere and my clothes are fitting tightly and I’m not really digging it. I’ve been struggling with feeling like I don’t look good in anything.

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Now, let me tell you that I have not worn shorts in summer for probably 14 years or more. I have worn the occasional bermuda shorts, but usually only while camping. My legs are thick, they have cellulite, I have stretch marks behind my knees and over the past 2 years I am developing varicose veins. I have been very self-conscious about my legs for years. I have felt far too embarrassed about my legs to wear shorts in public where I would be exposing myself to the possible ridicule of others. I have opted to wear clothes I am uncomfortably hot in, just to avoid the possibility of people seeing my legs. Now here is where this post is really going to take off…

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WHO IN THE HECK CARES if other people think my legs are hideous? Do I look at other people and judge them by their legs or any other part of their body? NO! If you do, shame on you! Do my legs match the idea of “sexy” or “attractive” legs? Not as far as society’s standards go, but my husband finds them pretty dang sexy and attractive and darn it, I’m going to choose to let that be enough! And truthfully, shame on me for allowing what others “might” think to keep me from being comfortable and confident in my own skin.

Why in the world have I bought into this idea that my legs need to look a certain way to be acceptable and worthy of wearing shorts or dresses? Why haven’t I valued myself more than to worry so much about my physical appearance? Aren’t I so much more than that? Of course I am! I’m a woman who loves fiercely and cares deeply and is a total goofball and laughs with sincerity and loves to do things to bring joy to others. I am not my legs, my stomach, my arms…any of those things. Those are just things I have, like most everyone else, but they have nothing to do with the kind of person I am. Guess what, YOUR body had nothing do with the kid of person YOU are either. We are all so much more than our bodies.

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I declared to Brian the other night that I am going to go buy myself some shorts and I am going to wear them this summer and be comfortable when it’s hot. I’m not going to let my size or skin or whatever else determine my happiness. I deserve to be comfortable. I deserve to enjoy life without constantly thinking about what people may or may not be thinking about what I’m wearing.

I’m a Christian and shame on me for allowing the world to tell me what beautiful looks like when I KNOW that I AM BEAUTIFUL and it has little to do with the skin I’m in and everything to do with what’s in my skin. I have a husband and family who loves me like crazy and friends who love me and a life that is so incredibly blessed. None of those things are conditional upon what my body, skin, hair, etc. looks like. They love me for me and it’s time for me to love me for me too.

So, if you see me out rocking some shorts this summer, you’ll know I’m choosing contentment over obsessing over my physical appearance. You’ll know I’m choosing to enjoy my life.

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It’s Time To Go On A Journey

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It’s time. Time for me to take a little journey to getting myself healthier. It’s not just about losing weight, but about feeling better and knowing that I’m doing something better for my body. It’s time.

Today I am embarking on a 21 Day Challenge with an amazing friend of mine who I have seen be extremely successful in her lifestyle changes and health goals over the past few years. She seriously inspires and amazes me and helped me so much last year. I am so excited that she is going to help me once again.

Let me just say that I am only 5’1″…depending on which doctor I go to because some say 5’3/4″. In any case, I’m short. Really short. You know what happens to a really short person when they gain even 5 pounds? You can usually tell. Well, I am over 15 pounds heavier than I was this time last year and have gained 10 pounds in the past month and a half.

How do you gain 10 pounds in a month and a half? Good question and I honestly have no good answer for it. I have done absolutely nothing differently as far as my diet or activity level. I truly cannot figure it out. However, I have been having some concerns with a lump I can feel inside of the left side of my throat and a pain that radiates from there into my left ear and even into my left eye socket at times. It’s been kind of coming and going since before Christmas and I just kept kind of dismissing it, but now with the unexplained weight gain, I know it’s time to have it checked out and thankfully I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow afternoon to do just that. That is step one of my journey to getting healthier, because I tend to rarely go to the doctor and I can just tell that I need to go get some things checked out.

Step two of my journey is changing my relationship with food. I LOVE food. If you had seen me at our Mother’s Day get together yesterday, you’d know what I mean. I had a serious mess of nachos on my plate that I ate every-single-bit of. I had a taco and some chips and guacamole. Later I had some churros and Mexican cheesecake and margarita cookies. This girl knows how to put down some food. However, it leaves me feeling bloated and miserable and somewhat ashamed. Who wants to feel like that? No food is worth that! So, it is time to change the way I view food. I can still have those things on occasion, but much smaller portions to be sure.

Step three of my journey is getting my body moving more. I spend far too much time sitting. I only work 1-2 days a week and that isn’t consistently. Not to mention that after Memorial Day, we are off until Late September or early October. That gives me a lot of free time and I don’t always (ok, probably hardly ever) do much with it that involves me being physically active. I have got to change that! You may remember my post about my fitbit. If you don’t, you can read it here. Well, for Mother’s Day I got 10 new bands for it! All colorful and fun and something to match any outfit I could possibly have. I don’t want it just to be a fashion statement, I want them to be a fun accessory to something that is a great motivator for me and tracks some of my physical activity progress for me, so I’m going to be sure to do that!!!

I thought about posting my weight because I don’t think that’s something anyone should be embarrassed or ashamed of, especially when they are trying to take steps in a more healthy direction, but I also don’t want this to just be about weight. I want this to be about getting healthier and more active. For me to find new activities that I enjoy and can do with my family so that we can all see the benefits of being more active. I want it to be about changing the portions of the foods we eat and trying to make more healthy choices. I want it to be about positive changes that make me feel better in every sense.

I’d like to take you on this journey with me and update as I discover new things and have successes and even be honest about any set-backs I might have. I’m all about being real, so real is what you’re going to get. Now, I’m off to finish my salad for lunch and get some more water in before I do a workout, which may or may not involve watching one of my favorite t.v. shows while jogging in place, doing jumping jacks and mountain climbers. We’ve all got to start somewhere!

I Think This Thing’s Broken

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I’m pretty sure my fitbit is broken because since I got it for Christmas, I’ve gained 10 pounds. That’s not how it’s supposed to work, right? I mean, I got it and it was going to motivate me and be just the thing I needed to start running (ok, slow jogging) again and get my flab a little more firm. Hmmmm…for some reason it’s not working. It must be broken.

I mean, I started off great. I was running in place in my living room. One day I did 13 miles that way! I was killin’ it! I would do challenges with people and I was determined not to let someone beat me. I would check my phone at night and literally get back up out of bed and run in place to get back ahead of whoever had moved ahead of me. And then…I started not really caring if someone beat me. I would tell myself “I’m not going to put so much pressure on myself that I’m obsessing about staying ahead of people.” I would opt to sit on the couch and watch that episode of Once Upon A Time, instead of walking or jogging in place while I watched it. In fact, I’d sit and eat something while I watched it. Seemed harmless enough. I just kept telling myself that once the weather got better I would get out and start “running” again and it would be all good.

Well, the snow melted, but then it was too muddy (we live on a dirt road). Then, when it got dry, I made other excuses. See, as I’ve mentioned before, I tend to be a spaz about things. One of those things is this stupid obsession with not feeling safe while I’m out “running”. I had a weird encounter with a truck last year that drove by me, turned around in a driveway down the road and turned back in my direction, drove a little ways, stopped and then started to drive slowly as I ran closer. I was totally freaked! I had my phone in my hand, so I pretended to answer it and started talking and then they hurried up and drove past me and away. Um, not cool for a girl who is already paranoid. Having my phone with me really did make me feel safer, but it wasn’t exactly ideal to “run” with it in my hand. I bought myself a running belt (Brian calls it a fanny pack) that I can carry it in that is mesh, so I can even play music on my phone and hear it (I do not wear earbuds when I run. I can’t stand to not be able to hear everything that’s going on around me.), so I thought that might be what I needed. Um…still didn’t get out there.

I have a ton of great workout DVDs, but my living room is small and in the winter I didn’t want to go in my basement and work out because of spiders, but now my spider guy has been here and sprayed and they are all dead, so technically I could go down there but I don’t like being down there when no one else is home because it makes me feel vulnerable and trapped.

Can you see the problem? I have an excuse for everything! I’m driving myself nuts!

I feel like I would do better if I had someone to walk/jog with, but the really real reality of it all is…I’m lazy. Yup, I’m just putting it right out there. I am lazy.

I hate cleaning, but I do it because I don’t want to have a disgusting house. Now there’s a difference between dirty and messy. I try to never have it be dirty, but it’s definitely messy more times than not. I have tons of cool stuff to do craft projects with, but that would require me going to the basement and getting the supplies (which are horribly unorganized – which is another part of the problem) and so they just sit down there, not being used. I have a sewing machine that I enjoy using and have a list of a few things I could really stand to hem, but that would require me going to the basement and getting it and setting it up at the kitchen table and well…that’s just too much work.

The thing is, my fitbit isn’t broken, but my motivation definitely is.

So friends, here it is. A public declaration of my lazy tendencies and a cry out for ideas for how to break this cycle. What motivates you to be active? What motivates you to keep a tidy/organized home? What ideas do you have that might make something click in this spazoid (yup, total 80s word, deal with it) head of mine? Help a girl out!