I'm Mandy, a mother of a handsome handful of a toddler. I'm the wife to a relocated Jersey boy at heart for almost five years. I'm a "youngster" in "Corporate Legal America." I'm one-seventh of a dynamically loud and loving family. I'm a woman with newly-diagnosed hypothyroidism, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Metabolic Syndrome trying to find a course of treatment that works. I'm a twenty-something trying to find her way on a journey to discover faith, friends and fitness. Most importantly, I'm me. I'm just trying to figure out who that is exactly...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cristian's Cruisers...

Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the United States.  Autism affects about 1 in 110 children and on July 11, 2011, my son became one of them.  Cristian was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder.

If you are in the Milwaukee area, please consider walking with us on September 11.  If you are not in the Milwaukee area or will not be able to walk, please consider donating at: http://www.active.com/donate/DylansRun2011/cruisers.

By participating in this event, we are helping to change the future for all families that struggle with autism by raising money to find answers and by raising awareness about the devastating toll that autism has taken.  Perhaps even more importantly, this event will help Cristian and so many other young children understand that they are not alone, thereby assisting in maintaining a positive outlook on life.  It is my personal goal to ensure that my son does not need to worry about how people might perceive him, but instead to know that he is supported and understood by those around him.

Together, we will find the missing pieces!  Thank you for your consideration.

Hey...you!  Please donate!

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Journey to Loving Myself...

This entry comes with a slight warning.  Some of the content is uncomfortable to read.

My journey with eating disorders started young.  I had undiagnosed anorexia when I was 7.  I wouldn’t eat breakfast due to scheduling, tell my teachers at lunch I was full from breakfast and tell my parents I was too full from lunch to eat dinner.  I was discovered when my parents found a sock drawer full of lunch money.  I did it because a boy in my class called me fat and jiggled my arms.  My parents took me to my doctor and the doctor said it was all in my head and I was fine.  Oh, and that I could maybe try a diet if I was feeling low.

I turned to bulimia Thanksgiving Day of 2006.  We took in my Godfather’s family as our own when he suddenly passed away a month after his wedding.  Unfortunately, this brought great stress to our family.  Instead of putting my unwanted two cents in, I kept shoving my face full of food until I made myself sick.  For some reason, controlling what went in and out of my body stopped the stress and made me feel in control of the situation.

For me, bulimia was more about stress relief than weight loss.   However I made myself think it was some kind of a diet.  If the calories did not have time to absorb, then they didn’t count, right?  When things got too rough at school, work, in my marriage or with friends, I had a built-in defense mechanism.  I was not even overeating – I was eating normal meals and throwing them up.  At the height of my bulimia, I was purging three times a day.  Work, school, home, malls, and even restaurants - I had no shame.  I learned how to throw up so quietly most people never even noticed.

I also became very good at hiding my red and raw knuckles (of which I still have scars) and blood shot and tear-filled eyes.  I would say that I thought of something sad or that I had a coughing or sneezing attack that sent me into tears.  I even continued for months after my husband caught me because the toilet didn’t flush properly.  It was only becoming pregnant with my son that made me stop.  I didn’t even stop for me, but for him.  He didn’t ask to be born, so I had to make sure from the very start I would take care of him – even when I did not want to take care of myself.  I don't know where I would be had I not become pregnant with Cristian.

After his birth, I started back up after I found out some troubling news in my marriage.  Not only had food become my enemy, but I had become my own enemy.  How could I expect this man to love me when I couldn’t even love myself?  It was then I realized I needed to seek help.  With the help of a therapist, I was able to realize that the bulimia needed to stop immediately for their sake.  And mine.

Honestly, I still think about purging once in awhile.  When things get too crazy or when I just had to have that last bite even though I knew it would make me uncomfortable.  The last time I purged was in November, due to familial stress, and I would like to keep it that way.  I was one of the lucky ones – as far as I know I have no lasting effects from all of the damage I was doing to my body.

In the program I started last week, I am learning that there is definitely a healthy way to lose weight.  You do not have to deprive yourself.  It’s as simple as making wise decisions, realizing that each day is a new day, and being active.  I did none of that when I was bulimic.
It’s easier said than done, I know.  Having lived both sides of the coin, embracing my curves and not having to hide in shame or run to the bathroom after every meal is much more appealing than the alternative.  Every action has an equal reaction.  Even if it doesn’t affect you, it will affect someone.  Bulimia may be a secret disease, but the effects are much more widespread.  I do not consider myself “cured.”  I consider myself recovering.  I will most likely be that way for the rest of my life.

Why am I writing this?  I don’t want pity.  I do not want to place blame on anyone except myself.  I simply am writing this in hopes that I can get one girl or woman to look in the mirror before they purge.  Look in the mirror and realize that it is not worth it.  You ARE beautiful.  DON’T do it.  God made each and every one of us the way we were meant to be.  Getting healthy is one thing, but mutilating our bodies for stress relief or weight loss is completely different.  If we cannot love ourselves, how can we expect to love others or have others love us?  More so, what fundamentals are we going to teach our children if we tell them one thing and do the complete opposite?

I may have body parts that jiggle.  I may need to wax hair from my face.  I may need foundation to cover a pimple.  My feet are wide and big.  I am me, though.  Every day I love that person a little more.  If anything can come from a negative situation, my bulimia has taught me that I am worth loving – as long as I love myself.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It'll be alright again...

"If you don't lose the weight, you will die young."
"I know you want to be there for your child, but do you only want to be around for part of his life?"
"I can't tell you want to do, but I can tell you that there needs to be change."

What can one even say to that? 

After being tossed around from doctor to doctor for most of my life unable to nail down a diagnosis, I finally met with a doctor who both diagnosed me properly and wants to treat me properly.  Both of which I wanted.

Honestly, I thought that a diagnosis and some pills were going to fix everything.  Wrong, as proven by the quotes from yesterday's appointment.

Sure, I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Hypothyroidism.  That does not change the fact that I need to lose weight.  It does, however, make the task much more difficult.

I have dieted or watched my food intake or even done some more drastic measures (that's another blog post) for the majority of my life.  I have yo-yo'd more than a Duncan factory.  I work and work and seem to get nowhere fast.  I like instant gratification, and anyone who's dealing with obesity knows that there is no instant (and lasting) gratification in weight loss.

After crying like a baby at the appointment, I realized that it was a hard slap in the face that I desperately needed.  I claim to do everything I can do, but let me be honest with you for a second.  I like carbs and I hate exercise.  I know what you are thinking.  "Surprise, surprise, the fat girl loves to eat and be sedentary, but also loves to whine about it."

I now realize I need to make a lifestyle change.  Where do I go from here? 

The doctor recommended two options:
  1. An up-front pricey intensive weight loss program, like this one offered by a local hospital.
  2. Bariatric surgery, insisting that I would qualify and the insurance will more than likely pay for it.
My mind is blank at this point.  I'm still getting the hang of liking my husband again.  Every day brings something new with my two-and-a-half year old.  Work is steady and consistent.  Why does life have to throw a wrench into this?  I am finally coming up with a schedule that fits my life.

I see people half my size workout half as much and eat twice as much and do not have to consistently struggle.  It boggles my mind how much work I have to put into this.  It's like another full-time job only it messes with my mind.  I can't go into a grocery store, a restaurant, a clothing store, a mall without thinking of numbers.

Clothing sizes, calories, pounds, fat grams, serving sizes, inches, grams of fiber...these numbers float through my head so consistently I know them as well as my own phone number.

I know I need to change, but why does it have to be so difficult?

*/whiny rant*

Needless to say, I opted for choice #1.  I do not want to have bariatric surgery unless it is absolutely necessary.  I still have options, which excludes bariatric surgery as an option.

I start the program February 16.  I will learn how to eat and exercise properly and for the long haul.  I hope it does so while helping me to still enjoy life.  It's a year-long program that will take a lot of work.  I will need love and support and prayers along the way.  I know that I have this in my life.

Even with a positive attitude, there is still a wrench thrown into my plans.  If you know me, you know I thrive on schedules, lists, and plans.  To-Do Lists are my friend.  There is nothing quite like scratching that last thing on your list, just to make another.  Just as much as I like my schedules, plans and lists, I do not like them messed with. 

The wrench is that Blake and I wanted to start trying for another child in the summer.  It's been part of our plans for awhile now.  Yes we throw back and forth whether we can handle another, but quite honestly, find me one parent who, in the middle of a tantrum or meltdown, doubts their abilities.  We do want Cristian to be a big brother and we do want another little one.

What's the problem, you ask?  A pregnancy at this point is not feasible.  Not with the PCOS.  Not with the hypothyroidism.  Not with my body working against me.  The doctor basically said that I was lucky with my first pregnancy and I shouldn't take my chances on a second one right now.  I need to get myself into check before another.

Sure, no problem, wait.  I didn't want our children to be so far apart in years.  Growing up, I always wanted kids two years apart, just like my brother and I.  When I had my first child, I became more realistic.  We then figured that around four years would be okay.  Now, we're looking closer to six.

My mind has been spinning for the past twenty-four hours.  I have been sullen and mopey.  Listening to the radio, a song came on that yelled at me.  SNAP OUT OF IT!  THINGS WILL BE ALRIGHT!  WHAT IS MEANT TO BE WILL BE!

You can probably tell that from my love of schedules, lists and plans that I can be a bit a control freak.  But for as faithful as I claim to be, I do not let things just happen enough.  That changes now.  I'm going to go with the flow.  I am going to let things happen as they are meant to be.  God is the master planner, not me.  I think I'm in control, but He really is.

Right now, he's telling me that it's alright, and it'll be alright again.  If I do not take care of myself, I will not be around for the child I have let alone another.  It's not about being years apart, it's about being raised with love.  It's not about having to do work, it's about getting the most you can out of a situation by putting in the most you can.  I have never strayed away from hard work before, so why should I do it now?

As one of my favorite musical artists, Sugarland say...

"Sometimes you gotta lose 'til you win."


Riddle Me This...
  • How do you handle things not going your way?
  • Have you ever been verbally slapped in the face?
  • Are you a control freak planner?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Open Unto Me...

In between test after test to nail down a diagnosis and treatment with my endocrinolgist, working full-time and being a full-time mom and wife, extended family issues and the general "blahness" that winter brings, I will be the first person to tell you that I have not been the perkiest or most content person so far in 2011.

That changes now.

I have never been overly religious.  I was baptized non-denominational, confirmed Lutheran during a stint where being religious was cool (WWJD bracelets, anyone?) and we were married by a Justice of the Peace.  Blake was born and raised Catholic, though hardly practicing.

Come on, you know you had one...or nine.
We knew that when I was pregnant with Cristian that we wanted to find a church to call our own.  Somewhere where we could raise him that was warm, welcoming and familial.  I did some searching on the Internet and found Tippecanoe Church.  The first thing I read was: "Tippecanoe Church: A Relevant Church for the Unchurched and Dischurched, too!"  Intrigued, I visited with my parents and it was a different experience.  People who I'd never met before hugged me.  I was wished well on my pregnancy.  Instead of wine and wafers there was bread and grape juice.  There was a nursery downstairs and kids time during the service.  I was immediately sold. 

Blake loved the church as much as I did, and we haven't looked back since.  It will be three years in March and we are so thankful to our church family.  They were there when our marriage was struggling.  They were there when there were family troubles.  They have held Cristian in light and he has made some great friends.

Our church is doing GREAT things.  I am so blessed to be part of a great community.  We are giving back to men who need help and showing that there is still good in the world.  If you have some extra funds or are in the Milwaukee area and have some extra time, please give back.

Back to the point of this all...I need to stop thinking of all the negative and focus on the positive.  I may have illnesses, but I am still alive.  I may be busy working, but I have a job.  I have a beautiful son and a wonderful husband.  There may be some family issues, but it has allowed me to know my TRUE family.  Winter isn't fun all of the time, but I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and love in my heart.

This all occurred to me at church (and now the entry is brought full circle) when we, in unison, elderly and young, homeless and wealthy, sick and healthy, said the following departing prayer:

Open unto me...light for my darkness.
Open unto me...courage for my fear.
Open unto me...hope for my despair.
Open unto me...peace for my turmoil.
Open unto me...joy for my sorrow.
Open unto me...strength for my weakness.
Open unto me...wisdom of my confusion.
Open unto me...forgiveness for my sins.
Open unto me...tenderness for my toughness.
Open unto me...Thy Self for my self.
Lord God, open unto me!

Religious or not, these are words we can all use at times.  Just to remember that we are only human and we are still loved.  You don't have to believe in God, but you should believe in something.

Start with yourself.  I'm working on that part for 2011.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Blogger BFF...

Have you ever read a blog and thought "Wow, that person and I could be friends in real life!"?

That is exactly how I feel about Jasmine over at Eat Move Write.

She and I share a lot of the same views on life and after a major weight loss, she is still true to her roots and is real.  She eats.  She feels pain.  She has setbacks.  Actually, her 2010 was a lot like my 2009.

Plus, she has giveaways!  I would love to have giveaways someday if my blog grows in popularity.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think you should stop over to Jasmine's blog and try to win Popchip, a $45.00 shopping spree to HSN, Chiobani Greek Yogurt or Oikos Greek Yogurt!  Tomorrow is another day of giveaways! [Edit: Today, she's giving away $25.00 to The Rusted Chain!]

Bottom line -- I adore Jasmine and I adore “The Eat Move Write Week of Giveaways."  You should definitely think about doing the same.

And Jasmine, thanks for being you.  Your blog is definitely what I needed to start reading!