Wake Up!

First off – so sorry for no post last night. I’ve apparently still got Eggnog brain (actually…no I don’t…eggnog disgusts me)…so take two: I’ve apparently still got sugar plum brain and didn’t even realize that yesterday was Monday. Oops.

With that being said, I hope that all of you had an amazing Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa or whatever else you might celebrate. I hope you received everything you asked for.

Santa left me with a few extra presents that I didn’t ask for…one being a little of his big round belly. Thanks for the poundage, Kris Kringle! Next year you’re getting celery sticks and not cookies.

 

He also left me with a weird attitude. The right side of my brain is the new-found positive me. The left side of my brain is the old negative, condescending me. Why?!  I thought the left side was gone. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get to sleep in my own bed on Christmas Eve. Maybe it’s because I gained a little bit of weight. Who knows…I just wish it would go. This negativity scares me. I’ll catch myself questioning whether or not I’ve truly made any progress. What the hell am I talking about? I’ve lost 50 pounds. Way, way more than I’ve ever lost at one time in my life. Why do I question my progress? Why do I discount myself? Why do I feel less beautiful today than I did a week ago?

Maybe my focus waned a little bit over the holiday and my fear of reverting back to my old ways is allowing some of this negativity in. I’ve got to wake up and stay focused on me. This whole journey is about me. This roller coaster ride of life is taking its toll. I’ve got to wake up and focus on what this is all about. I’ve got to wake up and focus on how far I’ve come. I’ve got to wake up and focus on the continuing to make progress. I cannot stop now. Wake up, Hannah.

Wake up.

There’s a new day waiting for me and it’s passing me by while I lay under the covers until the last minute every morning, wishing the world would go away. But the world’s not going anywhere. The world always keeps turning, it’s always spinning…the world doesn’t care if it continues to move with me or without me.  I’ve been in the dark so long that the world has just about forgotten all about me. Maybe it’s time to make it remember.

It’s time to get up and start moving.

Time to move toward my dreams. Time to move toward the life I know I want and deserve. I’ve wasted day after day, year after year, but it just doesn’t matter. Yesterday is gone, and today is right here, so bright and beautiful and full of possibility but…

My life gets in the way. I’ve got deadlines and responsibilities. I’ve got conference calls and reports. I’ve got sales tracking and inventory inquiries. I don’t have enough time to get everything done.

But wait…
Do I really think I’m the only one with deadlines and responsibilities, pressures and complications?

Sure, life is hectic, hectic, hectic, and there’s never enough time to do everything.  But, there’s always enough time to do the most important thing, and right now the most important thing is for me to GET UP.

Get up and start moving.

Get up and start living.

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself so long that I think that’s how I’m destined to feel.

Of course my life could be so much better.

So I’ve got to make it better.

It is within me to grab the reins of my life and take control. I have started to do so for the last 50 pounds. I cannot and will not stop now. There is still half the journey left to go. No, it won’t be easy. Did I honestly expect it would be? But I know it will be worth it. I know that this isn’t where I want to be, where I am meant to be.

I can lie where I am, feeling sorry for myself or I can get up and make something out of this beautiful day. I didn’t get where I am overnight, and it won’t get better in a matter of days… but it will get better. I know in my heart of hearts it will get better.

 

I’ve been hiding under the covers for far too long.

 

It’s time for me to wake up.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ~ Joe Lewis

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Walk On Water

I’ve always been of the belief regardless of your specific spirituality that it is sometimes hard to deny that there is a divine power. A higher being of some sort watching over all of us.

Being a person that is so nerded out in the science world, having things happen that I can’t explain really throws my brain into a complete tizzy.  As much as I want to believe that there has to be a scientific explanation for everything, I know this isn’t always the case. While I might have a hard time wrapping my mind around it…I know there are many occurrences that can be explained only as something heavenly or godlike.

I had one of those Tim Tebow-esque interventions last week…

It was Tuesday afternoon. I was in my car, stuck in random mid-afternoon traffic, feeling the initial tinges of road rage creep up as I got frustrated with sitting through the same stop light one too many times.  The fear of my impending unemployment was extremely heavy on my mind.  Stressful thoughts were firing one after the other: Right now is a horrible time to be searching for a job.  What path do I take? What direction do I go? Is it time to go back to school? Do I follow my passion and pursue a medical career? Do I take a safe route? What about money? What about insurance? Will I lose my ground? Will I lose my faith in myself if I can’t find something right away?

A wave of emotion rushed over me as I sat there. I felt defeated. I felt myself going backwards 10 steps in that moment and didn’t know what else to do but sit there at that red light as my mascara started to creep down my face.

The radio had already been turned up…I was listening to K-LOVE. Partly because there had been commercials on all the local stations it seemed like and partly because I thought I’d explode if I heard another Katy Perry song that hour.  I wasn’t really paying attention to the songs that were on…my brain was too busy pumping me full of fear of the unknown.  But then a song came on that I’d never heard before, and my mind stopped running 100 miles an hour…so I listened.

I didn’t know who was singing the song or even the title of it…but the chorus hit me in the stomach like a ton of bricks:

When you take that first step into the unknown
You know that He won’t let you go

So what are you waiting for? What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities, they try to alter you
But you know you’re made for more, so don’t be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes, and you can walk on the water, too

“Walk on Water” by Britt Nicole

Here’s the whole song in case you want to listen – the lyrics are on the video…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The song’s message and the moment it was played can be explained by nothing other than divine intervention.  I had to pull over I was so moved and blown away by what had just taken place. And when the song ended, I wiped my tears. Put a smile on my face, and drove away knowing that no matter what happens to me, I have faith in my ability to handle it, I have faith in my ability to face it, and I will no longer afraid to move.  This feeling that I’ve had about myself over the last few weeks (aside from my minor breakdown at the intersection) has been me walking on water.

I got home and my entire week turned around…which is purely coincidence I’m sure…

I got fantastic news that afternoon…I entered a contest a few months ago sponsored by Jovial Foods, makers of amazing GF pasta. Contestants were required to submit their favorite food memory. Entries would be narrowed down by Jovial the first week of December to 15 finalists, and then the ‘general public’ would vote on their favorite of those finalists. The person with the most votes after the voting closes on December 20th wins an all-expenses paid trip to Italy!!! And if that isn’t enough, there will be cooking lessons alongside my most favorite GF chef and author of all time: Gluten-Free Girl.   I wrote about my sweet Grandmommy and her swimming spaghetti, and found out after I got home that I’m one of the finalists!!! One of the 15!!!! Can you believe it?!   And so I need your help now! Please go to https://www.facebook.com/jovialfoods and ‘Like’ their page…then click on ‘Vote Now’ on the left-hand side – click the link to vote, and then scroll down to the bottom. Please vote!! If you deem my memory your favorite, please take a second and vote for me…I’ve got a lot of ground to make up and would thoroughly appreciate your help!

As if that news wasn’t amazing enough…it didn’t stop there…

My position was being eliminated because one of us was not needed in every single market. In lieu of 1 or more per market, the company was consolidating to 1 per region…my region being the Southeast.  I interviewed for this new regional position, hoping that there might be some chance that I wouldn’t have to be unemployed after all.  Well, my loyal blog followers, I am happy to say that after 2.5 years of hard work, I got the promotion, and got the regional job. Yay! I no longer have to stress (at least not right now) about all the things that I fret over at the stoplight. I am relieved. I am grateful. And most importantly, I am proud of myself and the name I’ve made for myself within the company thus far.

But no…that’s not it either…my week got even better this morning….

Pudge has a lot less pudge now!  I am officially down over 50 pounds!!!!!! 50 pounds – are you serious?! Me?! The girl that has failed at a million diets and attempts at weight loss in her lifetime? The girl who thought so little of herself that she didn’t feel like she deserved to be happy or healthy? The girl who refused to look at herself in the mirror for fear of taking her level of disgust to a new high?  The girl who so many times in her life didn’t feel like fighting anymore?

Yes, this girl. This girl is now happy. This girl is now on her way to being healthy. This girl now thinks she’s beautiful and amazing. This girl now can’t help but stare at herself in the mirror and admire how fantastic she’s beginning to look.  This girl has never been more in love with herself.  This girl has overcome the depths of hell. This girl has overcome her eating disorder. This girl has proved the naysayers wrong. This girl has conquered her fears and overcome her demons. This girl is walking on water.

“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”  – Voltaire

I Am Not Alone

I’ll get the ugly part out of the way first…another gain. Definitely time to refocus on the diet.

 

 

The next weigh-in will be different…and lower….I promise. (Headed to the beach next week and won’t have my scale, but will have a post.)

***********************************************************************

Now…to this week’s topic…

I’ve had a few people in the last few weeks question why I do this blog.  Why I bitch week after week about my weight struggle. Why I post my weight for the world to see.  One person actually told me she was surprised I post a picture of the scale, and that I was glorifying being overweight, and that I needed to exhibit a bit more discretion.

Well first off…in case you were not aware, you are not forced to read this blog. It’s not shoved in your face as punishment.  I don’t expect everyone to agree with what I’m doing, but I certainly never expected to be chastised for opening up about something I’ve battled for most of my adult life.  If you think what I’m doing is stupid or immature or disgusting, then stop reading.  That simple.

Secondly, I am not attempting to glorify being overweight.  There is nothing glorious about my muffin top or my overeating.  There is nothing charming about weighing over 200 pounds or wearing plus sizes.  There is certainly nothing splendid about my cellulite or my poor self-image.

So why do I do this?

I write this blog not only to help myself, but to help others that might be struggling with the same thing.  Someone that might be fighting a weight battle or fighting a battle to be healthy.  Someone that might be struggling to find happiness in themselves when they look in the mirror.

I know what it’s like to feel like no one understands.  I know what it feels like to feel you’re fighting a battle on your own.  And I’m not just talking about food or weight…although it’s all sort of tied together for me.

As I have touched on in past posts, I have long struggled with depression.  It is quite well managed now, but I have certainly been through a serious roller coaster.

It all started in college. Off to school, not a care in the world, and certainly much more trusting of the world than I should have been.  I was happy…I was satisfied that I had graduated 6th in my class and was a freshman at UNC.  I was on top of the world…and that would soon come crashing down.

This next revelation is something that I believe I’ve only divulged to my sister.  The spring semester of my freshman year, I found myself as part of a frightening statistic.  I was the victim of date rape…I went out on a date.  I walked away from my drink, and ultimately paid the price for my lack of judgment.

No, I didn’t go to the police.  Yes, I felt at fault for the entire chain of events.  The aftermath and the emotional struggle that ensued sent me on a downward spiral in every aspect of my life that took years to overcome.  I fell into a deep depression and became extremely unmotivated.  I withdrew socially from those around me.  Since that horrifying incident in my life, I have discovered that the US Department of Justice says that one out of every four college women is the victim of date rape.  This statistic makes me sick to my stomach. It was an atrocious, disgusting crime that I kept inside.  This is the first time I have truly opened up about it in 10 years, because like many other women who fall victim to this crime, I blamed myself for its occurrence.

Hurting and embarrassed, I ate to suppress my feelings.  Food became my security blanket.  Food didn’t judge me or hurt me or leave me.  It became my safe place…and I went to it often.  I subsequently gained 60 pounds, which only fueled my self-hate and self-loathing.  Once on medication, the depression got better.  I sustained for a few years, and then felt like since I was feeling better, that I could stop taking anti-depressants.  You can guess what happened.

I continued on an up and down cycle for years.  I would stay in bed for days.  Depression ignited my overeating and overeating led to my depression.  I would cry for no reason, and then I would be on the biggest high for no reason.  I felt worthless.  I blamed myself for many things… being fat, being raped, not having my dream job.  I had even managed to blame myself for my great-grandfather’s death; Convincing myself that if I had called him like I was supposed to when my mom told me to, that he wouldn’t have died.  But since I got busy, karma fought back and he passed away.  I did things without any regard for consequences.  I had a hard time breaking through self-defeating dialogue I’d been replaying in my head since I was young…repeating over and over again if I messed something up that I was a “stupid ungrateful bitch.” That everything gone wrong was my fault.

I have been at the absolute bottom more than once.  It is a place that I hope to never go back to again.  It kills me to say that I know my darkest times have damaged more than myself.  I destroyed every ounce of trust with my family.  I temporarily devastated the relationship with my mom. I take full responsibility for the destruction.  I take full responsibility for the hurt and the pain I caused.  I have enormous amounts of regret when I reflect upon the turmoil that surrounded me a few years ago.  Depression has robbed me of a lot of things, but I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t gone through the depths of hell.  I’m thankful for my faith in God and constantly reminding myself that I would never be handed more than I could handle, even though at times I was not so sure.  I thank God every day for those amazing women that shared their stories and their struggles with me through 30 days of rehab, and helped me understand that others understood my pain.

I get emotional now as I type this, not because I’m embarrassed or upset about the things of my past. I am emotional because I have come so, so far from where I was, and I am so blessed.  I know now that there are no such things as failures, just different levels of success.

I want to be sure to mention one thing. The purpose of tonight’s post is not to gain sympathy.  I’m not writing any of this so you feel sorry for me. I’m not writing it to bring you down either. I’m writing this for the same reason I write about my weight loss struggle…so you know someone out there understands.

I have written all of this with a heavy heart.  I lost a friend from high school last week.  He unfortunately did not see that light at the end of the tunnel, and he succumbed to his struggle with depression.  He may have felt he was at that place I had been so many times…the place where you feel like no one comprehends your pain…no one comprehends your hurt and your despair. I wish I had reached out to him, I wish I had shared my story.  I wish I had portrayed to him how certain I was at one point that there was no way out – but there ultimately was.  I made it out.  Emotionally battered and bruised, I made it out.  And I made it out because I discovered I was not alone.

So why do I write this blog….because I can only hope that through sharing my stories and my struggles, not only tonight but in previous posts, that you know you are not alone either.

In memory of Scott McCreedy

12/2/81-7/22/11

“You can’t have rainbows without rain.”  – Unknown

 

 

Diagnosis and the 5 Little Stages

I’m grieving. Yes, I am grieving the loss of bread…pizza crust…everything bagels…beer.  I’m grieving stress-free trips to restaurants…grieving easy family get-togethers and stress free events.

I was diagnosed with celiac disease last week.  So thankful (to the point of tears) that I finally have a firm diagnosis for what has perhaps been plaguing me for over a decade. It’s likely that issues I’ve been fighting since I was a child could be the result of CD.

As this is my first post about it…I’m going to go ahead and nerd it out for a paragraph or two and give you a few ins and outs of the disease (afterall, it’s helpful to be educational every once in a while)…

Celiac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease affecting mainly the small intestine that affects nearly 1 in 132 individuals in the US. Those suffering from the disease are unable to ingest gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, rye and malt. Eating gluten acts as a poison (always exciting), damaging the hair-like projections called villi that line the small intestine, leading the intestines to stop absorbing nutrients. (See picture below.)

The pictures show the difference between healthy villi (left) and damaged villi (right). The damaged villi gets brittle and flat. The efficiency to abosorb nutrients to our body has reduced tremendously.

If CD goes untreated, it can damage the small bowel and lead to an increased risk of certain long-term conditions and cancers.

The cause of celiac disease is unknown, although according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, it may be linked to a group of genes on Chromosome 6. Some experts believe that stressful events such as surgery, severe emotional stress or childbirth may trigger symptoms for the first time.

What are the symptoms?  Well…there are many. Celiacs may experience some, all or none of these:  abdominal cramping, distention and bloating, chronic diarrhea or constipation – or both, fatty stools, anemia, malabsorption, nausea and vomiting, depression, mouth ulcers, bone or joint pain, fatigue, infertility, and osteoporosis.  I experienced most of these (although to preserve any dignity I still have I will not specify which ones)…and there are also additional things my doctor believes may be the result of CD.

Now that you’re edumacated on the what and the why…you may be wondering how you cure it.

Well (frown) – there is not currently a cure for celiac disease. There’s no medicine to fight the effects of gluten should it be ingested. However, (happy face) the relief from the disease is 100% in my control (and some of you know how I am about control).  I am in charge of my “treatment” – no pill to take, no shots, no weird concoctions to drink every morning…100% Hannah E. Hayes regulated.

Eliminating all gluten from the diet is the only way to combat CD. It is the only proven treatment for healing the gut and promoting regrowth of intestinal villi. (Three cheers for happy villi!) The time it takes to fully recover depends on how long the intestinal damage has been occurring.

According to my doctor, my insides look like a war-zone…but after being on a completely gluten free diet for the last few days…I feel like I’ve been reborn.  Distention has been alleviated…stabbing pain in my side is gone. I feel incredible.

However, as a self-proclaimed carbohydrate addict, this has not been an easy last few days…I am currently in the midst of what I would like to call: My Gluten Free Journey through the 5 Stages of Grief

1)      Denial – My doctor had suspected that this is what had been plaguing me…but prior to the results, and even a while after, I was in a serious state of denial – As bad as I was feeling, I was sure there was no way some stupid bread protein was causing all my distress…afterall, how stupid does it sound? “Sorry…that pasta you just ate is making your villi lay down.”  Someone at work was eating pizza in front of  me and all I wanted to do was lick it. Certainly licking it wouldn’t hurt me (although it turns out, it may have), but he probably would have hurt me for licking his lunch. I was convinced that I’d never be able to live or follow this new diet…I of course was wrong.

2)      Anger – The day of the diagnosis – as I was trying to figure out what to pick up for lunch on the way to work, I became extremely upset. I felt like gluten was in EVERYTHING. And in all honesty…it’s in a lot of things: Soy sauce, vegetable broth, bread (obviously), beer, lunch meat, salad dressing, soup…even Communion wafers (how will I explain that at the pearly gates?!).  I was angry that even going to a family function where food would be served would be such an ordeal. I was pissed off about having to stand and wait for the pharmacist today so I could ask her whether or not my Adderall has gluten in it. (Side note : Some pharmacists need to get it together – not you of course, Betsy.  Pharmacist said, “well I don’t really know what gluten is so I don’t know what to tell you.” I can’t be the only one that has a gluten restriction in Greensboro…certainly I’m not the only one who has ever said anything to this Pharmacist about it. As cross-contamination is one of the most detrimental issues with a gluten-free lifestyle, I found myself quite frustrated with the lack of concern.)

3)      Bargaining – Maybe, just maybe, I’ll start to feel better…then a little bread won’t hurt…soup won’t hurt…a sip or two of beer won’t kill me.  Despite my doctor’s warning (that I needed to treat this like I would a severe peanut allergy) – I was contemplating whether or not I’d be ok with a cheat day…or a cheat meal at least.  Well, without really trying to “cheat”, I had a flavored vodka drink the other night. While plain vodka should be free of gluten, most manufactures make no gluten-free claims when it comes to flavored liquors as there is significant cross-contamination normally. Well – that one little drink, fought back. While it wasn’t severe, I could certainly tell that I had made my insides extremely angry…so despite my original theory…there is no cheating or slipping up. I can’t take feeling that poorly anymore…it’s not worth it.

4)      Depression – Am I sad about no more gluten? Hell yes I’m sad. I’ve always wanted to travel to Italy…for the food of course. The pasta, the pizza, the meatballs (why can’t I have meatballs? Breadcrumbs are used as a filler)…wine is ok…so I can enjoy that. But I can spend a lot less money and fly over a lot less ocean and enjoy wine here…I’m sad that I won’t be able to enjoy wedding cake at my sister’s wedding…I feel like such a burden with my family, especially in the event of a get together…I’ve got a cousin with a severe peanut allergy and no one has ever yelled at him for being special, so I don’t know why I feel like it will be different with me…I guess there’s just a lot more involved in determining whether something has gluten vs. whether or not it’s got nuts.  I’m sad that I’ve been diagnosed with a disease that I’ll never be able to get rid of. I’m sad that my future children will have to be tested for CD and may have the same limitations.

5)      Acceptance – While I may be sad at what can no longer be – I feel fantastic. All of my symtoms went away. All of them! I haven’t thrown up in 3.5 days (which is a record lately). I don’t hurt after eating. I have energy again! ENERGY!!!! I haven’t know what that was like for months!  I started researching the heck out of being gluten-free…I’ve read other blogs on the subject…downloaded recipes…even found an amazing Gluten-free bakery that just opened in the area (www.lindysgoodiesbakery.com).  Corn tortillas are my new BFF.  The vast array of gluten-free options coupled with the fact that I have never felt better or healthier in my life is why I have happily reached the point of acceptance with my celiac disease. 

And…the icing on the cake…I lost weight this week!!!

Can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that I’ve got some direction. It hasn’t been an easy road, and to those of you that have suffered along with me, I apologize for the roller coaster…but get ready.  A new and improved Hannah is emerging…and she is going to let nothing stand in her way! Except maybe a biscuit…

“The most significant change in a person’s life is a change of attitude. Right attitudes produce right actions.” ~Willam J. Johnston

This Isn’t Me…

I woke up fat.

I woke up today, wiped the sleepy out of my eyes and gazed in the mirror.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

This isn’t me.

The “me” in my mind’s eye was fit and spirited, healthy and vital.

The “me” staring back at me was pasty, weak and lifeless, sporting a layered look even though I had yet to get dressed.

This isn’t me.

The “me” in my mind’s eye looked good from every angle and was more than just a pretty face.

The “me” staring back at me was rotund and flabby, uncomfortable looking and miserable.

Somehow, we convince ourselves that we’re doing okay, even when presented with an abundance of evidence to the contrary.

We understand that our actions have consequences, but the truth of those words slip tantalizingly through our fingertips.

We know what we need to do, and yet we falter and fail and can’t for the life of us begin to understand the reasons why.

And then one day, it dawns on us…hopefully.

I’m having an extremely difficult time right now. Between the abundance of digestive issues I’m currently experiencing and a complete loss of every ounce of energy I’ve ever had, I have hit a complete stand-still.

I am sad at my lack of progress and I am dejected in my own skin. I am tired of clothes not fitting. I am tired of whatever food sensitivity I’m currently experiencing creating the feeling of Thanksgiving dinner after eating 2 or 3 bites. I am tired of telling people I’ve tried every diet, and here I am…still topping the scale at over 230 pounds.

I’ve tried so hard all week to keep my internal dialogue positive…but I have so much fear of failing that I think I’m starting to subconsciously sabotage myself to prevent success which I then might screw up.

I just want to feel normal. I want to be able to get up when my alarm goes off and not hit snooze for 2 hours. I want to make the best decision food-wise and not even think twice about it. I want to be excited about working out. I want to stop feeling like this is going to turn out like every other time I’ve attempted this same feat. I want to feel good in my own skin. Is all of this too much to ask?

This certainly isn’t me:

I’m not a person that knows better but can’t do better.

I’m not a person that’s too frightened, worried or weak to make a positive change in my life.

I’m not a person that just doesn’t give a damn.

This isn’t me.

I can grab the reins of my life and take control of what I eat and how I live.

I can push myself harder and further than I ever thought possible.

I can scale a mountain by taking one uphill step at a time.

I can do this.

“Stopping at third base adds no more runs than striking out.” ~ Unknown