And So It Begins

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Sitting in Church Sunday morning, I prayed God would give me a revelation regarding our Halloween costumes for that night’s annual trunk or treat. Originally, I had come up with the idea of having Brian wear his tux and me a gold sequined cocktail dress going as James Bond and one of the sexy Bond girls. Hey now, I may not be the now infamous seductress Pussy Galore from the classic Bond flick “Goldfinger” but let me throw on a shiny gilded cocktail dress and matching spiked heels and I’ll give her a run for her money, at least in my husband’s eyes. After some thought, I figured the only way to truly get the Bond, James Bond theme across would be with martini glasses, shaken not stirred, roulette tables reminiscent of Monte Carlo and a plethora of pistols, rifles and shotguns none of which belonged in the Church parking lot surrounded by children all well under the age of accountability.

Somewhere between Amazing Grace and the closing prayer, an idea popped into my head. Saturday, the University of Tennessee suffered a most embarrassing loss at the hands of our beloved Crimson Tide. What better way to memorialize this defeat than to decorate our trunk as a tailgating scene between two opposing fans. I drew the short stick and had to dress in the bright orange of the Tennessee Volunteers looking vaguely similar to Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin, something ex-coach Phil Fulmer could surely relate to on the sidelines in his bright orange track suit.

Brian and I were decked out like two fanatical fans, one a Rammer Jammer houndstooth loving Alabama fan and the other a Rocky Top singing Go Big Orange yelling devotee passing out candy to little witches, mini Minnie Mouses, army men, famous sports figures, and a variety of Disney princesses. Not only were our football teams opposing, so were our theories on candy. Mine: Buy only candy you despise so as not to eat any. Brian’s: Buy only candy you love, eat as much as you can while you pass it out and then get sick on whatever’s left over.

Our basket was full of Sweet Tarts, Laffy Taffy, Nerds, Twizzlers and grape flavored Bubble Yum. I had stocked up at Family Dollar on all my least favorite candies. Brian was all kinds of tore up because we had no Snickers, no Kit Kats, and absolutely no Twix. They might as well have been crack cocaine, crystal meth and a handful of OxyContins as far as I was concerned. I had a plan to help me abstain from Halloween candy and there was no deviating.

And, it was working. Right up until the time I spotted Captain America’s trunk filled with Kit Kats.

And so it begins, a two month march to New Year’s Day, candy corn, pumpkin pie, Santa Claus cookies, and coconut cake all along the way. The next two months are a blur of social functions filled with tradition, deep-fried Cajun rubbed turkeys, honey baked spiral cut hams, and pots full of black-eyed peas with a dime for good luck. Four back to back holidays revolving around food.

It was going to take me, Jesus and a set of scales to get through the next two months. Help me Jesus!

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
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Produce Department Spontaneity

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Some weeks, I get tired of the same old thing. Seems like I eat grilled chicken breast with steamed broccoli, baked salmon with green beans, pork tenderloin with a giant salad and REPEAT. I decided this week to shake things up so when I walked through the produce department Saturday to stock up for the week, I spontaneously grabbed a couple bunches of dark green curly leafed kale and a handful of leeks. Having kale and leeks in my buggy made me feel like a fancy gourmet cook. You can shake a mule’s tail and write your name on a barn door but that don’t make you a farmer and having kale and leeks in my buggy sure didn’t make me a Top Chef either.

I’ve cooked kale before. Sautéed kale, baked kale chips, or even finely chopped in a salad. While kale chips are good and satisfying if you are a fan of salt and crunch like me, you are completely delusional if you can fake yourself into thinking they are salty, crunchy deep-fried golden Lay’s potato chips.

I’ve never cooked leeks before. I googled how to cook leeks for at least a half hour and found one common denominator among the recipes. Apparently, heavy cream and leeks are meant for each other. Well, that and leeks are the hardest vegetables known to man to clean, full of sand. What was I thinking when I grabbed this vegetable that looked like a green onion on steroids?

After searching recipes online for what seemed like eternity and wishing heavy cream and a stick of butter were considered heart healthy, I settled on leeks sautéed with garlic in a little chicken broth. So, tonight’s menu is mustard glazed sockeye salmon and sautéed leeks.

These leeks better be good. After googling, you-tubing and cleaning these cousins of the onion, I still have to cook the darn things.

Broccoli takes like three minutes in the microwave. So much for spontaneity!

Ecclesiastes 11:6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.image

Spas and Stadiums

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Some days are hard. Some days, I want to shove milk dunked Oreo cookies in my mouth until the black chewed up cookie makes my smile look like a methhead’s rotted toothy grin. Some days, I want to dial up the pizza delivery boy and dine on a circular disk of nothing but carbs and fat rather than eat the umpteenth grilled chicken breast that week. Some days, I just don’t care.

On those days, I have to remind myself about all the little things that are better now because of the lifestyle changes I have made. Tonight, I thought about two things I was recently reminded of.

1. Have you ever been to a spa where they hand you a robe and instruct you to change your clothes and head into the relaxation room? I have. Let me tell you, when you exceed the unadvertised weight limit of those spa robes, the relaxation room ain’t so relaxing. First, there’s that anxious moment when you try the robe on and pray to God Almighty that the thing will at least wrap around you enough to maintain some shred of common decency. It is extremely hard to relax when you think all the folks sipping herbal tea listening to the sounds of trickling water in the relaxation room can see everything you got and then some. Those darn little robes are always marked “One Size Fits All” which is a flat-out lie from the devil. I had a massage a couple of weeks ago. When they handed me a robe, initially, an anxious feeling flooded my mind as I slipped the satin fabric around me. I had forgotten I was smaller now and it wrapped around with more than enough to cover what didn’t need to be seen. Now, I could actually relax in the relaxation room.

2. We are huge football fans. Tennessee’s Titans and Alabama’s Crimson Tide are our teams. They balance each other well. Bama almost always pulls out a win and Tennessee almost always forgets to play the last quarter of most games. Tennessee keeps us humble. If we were strictly Alabama fans, we could get obnoxiously cocky rooting for the most dominating powerhouse of all time playing in the most dominating powerhouse of all conferences, the Southeastern Conference. But, without sounding too unabashedly arrogant, I digress. Being a big old football fan, I find myself going to football games in stadiums across the south. No matter what stadium, no matter where, one thing holds true. Stadium seating is not One Size Fits All. I have wedged, squeezed and stuffed myself in plastic stadium seats, ashamed of my fat rolls billowing out the side encroaching on my neighbor’s personal space. I have sucked in my gut and side walked the row to get to my seat trying not to take out small children with their cotton candy and grown men with their plastic Budweiser beer bottles embarrassed of my thick thighs and wide rear. At the latest football game, I realized I fit in my seat. My seat and only my seat. So what if I hip checked the old man who sits down the aisle from us and screams like a wild hyena every play. It wasn’t because I was too big to fit down the aisle. It was my passive-aggressive attempt to shut his screaming up once and for all.

Most of the time thinking about all the little victories along the way doesn’t make the days any easier. It just makes the way I handle them better. I mean Oreos are awesome but even they can’t make my problems any less of a problem. But cupcakes on the other hand……….nah, not even cupcakes.

Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.image

The Aging Process

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I took my nieces and nephews to a playground to enjoy the beautiful fall day, golden sun streaming through green leaves just barely beginning to turn oranges and yellows, a day just cool enough you needed a light jacket. Somewhere among all the swinging and sliding, I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a rather large blue bruise on my calf in a faded out mirror on the side of a giant plastic fire truck slide. How in the world did I get a bruise halfway up my calf? Who knew? I bruise so easy a feather brushing up against me could leave a purply blue smear.

After I dropped the kids back to their respective parents, I made my way home where I immediately stood in front of my full length mirror examining the “bruise”. Sweet, Jesus! It wasn’t a bruise. It was the beginning of an enormous varicose vein that more closely resembled the dark blue lines of the Mississippi River zig zagging down a Rand McNally road map. My heavens, I was only thirty-five years old. Weren’t these reserved for wrinkled up old blue haired ladies? Just as I was convincing myself it was barely noticeable, nothing a bronze hue from a couple of trips to the tanning bed couldn’t cover up, my husband walked in. Horrified, I pointed to the protruding vein and asked him if he thought it was noticeable. “Oh, yeah. I noticed it a few weeks ago, especially that kinda knotted part at the bottom of it.”

I burst into tears. Uncontrollable tears. Sobbing, whimpering, scrunched up nose tears. At first, Brian thought I was joking. I’m not a cryer especially over some silly vanity thing like this but it was at that point that I came to a shocking realization. No matter how many squats, crunches or lunges I did, no matter how diligent I was in applying my high dollar face cream, no matter how many calcium capsules, omega 3 fatty acid gel caps or Women’s One a Days I swallowed up, there was nothing I could do to stop the aging process.

After the crying spell ended, I flew into a tirade. “Do you know how hard I’ve worked to finally have calf muscles just for them to be ruined by this nasty vein?” “Honey, your legs look great, especially when you wear those spiky black high heels,” Brian tried to reassure me. “No, they don’t,” I seethed. “They do, I promise,” he continued trying to calm me down.

No amount of kind words, flattery or little white lies were going to smooth this over. He had noticed this big old vein and not breathed a word to me. How many times had I had food in my teeth and he just let me keep on talking? Had my skirt been caught up in my pantyhose and he turned a blind eye? What else had he noticed and kept to himself?

After alternating between cussing and crying for about an hour, two things dawned on me. One, the only way to completely stop the aging process is to die and I sure liked being alive. Getting old wasn’t so bad considering the alternative. While I can exercise, eat right and do my best to preserve this body, crow’s-feet will eventually creep in, stuff will begin to sag or sag more, and the elasticity in my skin will go like a snapped rubber band. That is just a part of life.

What was the second thing that dawned on me? Every morning at 6:00 News Channel 5 runs a commercial for some vein doctor. I better go to bed. I got to get up early tomorrow.

Isaiah 46:4 And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
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The Aging Process

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I took my nieces and nephews to a playground to enjoy the beautiful fall day, golden sun streaming through green leaves just barely beginning to turn oranges and yellows, a day just cool enough you needed a light jacket. Somewhere among all the swinging and sliding, I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a rather large blue bruise on my calf in a faded out mirror on the side of a giant plastic fire truck slide. How in the world did I get a bruise halfway up my calf? Who knew? I bruise so easy a feather brushing up against me could leave a purply blue smear.

After I dropped the kids back to their respective parents, I made my way home where I immediately stood in front of my full length mirror examining the “bruise”. Sweet, Jesus! It wasn’t a bruise. It was the beginning of an enormous varicose vein that more closely resembled the dark blue lines of the Mississippi River zig zagging down a Rand McNally road map. My heavens, I was only thirty-five years old. Weren’t these reserved for wrinkled up old blue haired ladies? Just as I was convincing myself it was barely noticeable, nothing a bronze hue from a couple of trips to the tanning bed couldn’t cover up, my husband walked in. Horrified, I pointed to the protruding vein and asked him if he thought it was noticeable. “Oh, yeah. I noticed it a few weeks ago, especially that kinda knotted part at the bottom of it.”

I burst into tears. Uncontrollable tears. Sobbing, whimpering, scrunched up nose tears. At first, Brian thought I was joking. I’m not a cryer especially over some silly vanity thing like this but it was at that point that I came to a shocking realization. No matter how many squats, crunches or lunges I did, no matter how diligent I was in applying my high dollar face cream, no matter how many calcium capsules, omega 3 fatty acid gel caps or Women’s One a Days I swallowed up, there was nothing I could do to stop the aging process.

After the crying spell ended, I flew into a tirade. “Do you know how hard I’ve worked to finally have calf muscles just for them to be ruined by this nasty vein?” “Honey, your legs look great, especially when you wear those spiky black high heels,” Brian tried to reassure me. “No, they don’t,” I seethed. “They do, I promise,” he continued trying to calm me down.

No amount of kind words, flattery or little white lies were going to smooth this over. He had noticed this big old vein and not breathed a word to me. How many times had I had food in my teeth and he just let me keep on talking? Had my skirt been caught up in my pantyhose and he turned a blind eye? What else had he noticed and kept to himself?

After alternating between cussing and crying for about an hour, two things dawned on me. One, the only way to completely stop the aging process is to die and I sure liked being alive. Getting old wasn’t so bad considering the alternative. While I can exercise, eat right and do my best to preserve this body, crow’s-feet will eventually creep in, stuff will begin to sag or sag more, and the elasticity in my skin will go like a snapped rubber band. That is just a part of life.

What was the second thing that dawned on me? Every morning at 6:00 News Channel 5 runs a commercial for some vein doctor. I better go to bed. I got to get up early tomorrow.

Isaiah 46:4 And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
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Hairstyles and Hateful Words

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Last week, I was getting my hair “blown out”, one of the latest crazes in self-indulgent pampering. All across the country, these blowout bars are popping up and thankfully there is one near me. You walk in and a super trendy chick washes and styles your hair. You leave looking like a million bucks with $35 less in your pocket. I am semi-addicted.

My hair is really long so it is so nice to have someone wash and dry it. By the time I scrub shampoo through my locks, blow dry and then try to curl all my long layers, my arms are numb and I need a nap instead of date night with my man or a night out with the girls.

On my most recent visit to the Blowout Company, I sat in the swivel chair while Hilary effortlessly blow dried my hair. The client at the station next to me was throwing the gosh darndest fit I have seen thrown since my three-year old niece took her five-year old sister’s American girl magazine. Now keep in mind, the entire time this fit is being thrown, my hair is being dried which had rendered me virtually deaf from the blow dryer blowing in my ears so if I realized she was throwing a fit, she was throwing one heck of a fit. I cocked my head to the side and strained to hear the onslaught of hateful comments culminating with the lady wadding her hair up in a ponytail, slinging $20 down on the counter and storming out huffing and puffing. Throughout this obnoxious woman’s diatribe the sweet little hairstylist Kelsey was trying to rectify the situation by asking if she could change whatever it was the lady didn’t like.

What didn’t the lady like? She fired off that her hair was too poofy. I gasped in horror at those words. Any God-fearing Southern woman worth her weight had never uttered those words. She must be a Yankee. I found it unfathomable that hair could be too poofy. The higher the hair, the closer to God, my Pentecostal Moma always joked. Was the Miss Georgia World Suzanne Sugarbaker’s hair too high? Did Governor Ann Richards from the great state of Texas wear her hair flat as a flitter while in office? Did Scarlett O’Hara let her hair fall just because Sherman was burning Atlanta? Absolutely not!

Poor little Kelsey. There was nothing she could do to please this lady, using the term lady rather loosely here. I tried to soothe the wounded ego of this sweet hairstylist, one who’d done my hair on numerous occasions always to my satisfaction. To these twenty somethings, I was a wise old woman full of sage advice provided by the twists and turns of my thirty-five years on this planet. I tried to tell the girls that this woman might have a controlling husband who doesn’t listen to a word she says or maybe a smart mouth kid who she had to beat to get out of bed for school that morning. Whatever made her go off, it sure wasn’t the hair. The poofy hair just gave her a means of venting her frustration over whatever the real reason happened to be.

I had been guilty of that. Maybe not going off on some helpless stylist fixing my hair but I had done it. When I asked Brian what he wanted for dinner and he didn’t care, I had pouted and whined because he had no opinion. I was in actuality mad because he didn’t insist we eat deep-fried egg rolls and General Tso’s chicken from Chinatown or white pizza and cannolis from New York Pie. I could blame it on him instead of me, giving me a free pass, almost like it would be fat and calorie free. I had copped an attitude with a skinny blonde sales clerk for not having a size bigger than an eight in a certain shirt not because I had to have it but because she could fit in any of them and there was no way I could squeeze one arm in an eight.

Just like the crazy fit throwing poofy haired lady, I’m going to get frustrated, irritated, and upset. However, I’m going to make an effort to know what it is at the root of the problem whether it’s a stressful day at the office, a cupcake craving I can’t shake or a spat with my husband.

One thing I can guarantee. It won’t be because my hair is too poofy. Have you ever heard of anything so silly in your life?

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
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Let’s Get Honest

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Folks, the wedding went off without a hitch. I squeezed myself into my wedding ensemble and while it was touch and go for a moment on the dance floor during the Wobble Wobble, nothing split, ripped or busted open. Thank you, Jesus! I didn’t reach my goal weight by the big day and given my wedding cake consumption I may be farther behind than I was when the week started.

While at this weekend wedding, several people inquired how I had lost so much weight. I gave them my standard reply, “Low carb, high protein and lots of exercise.” But that wasn’t true. Well, not entirely.

I recently posted a side by side before and after weight loss photo on Facebook. Want to get some Facebook love? Post anything about losing weight. Whether it’s losing two pounds or two hundred, dropping one dress size or six, walking one mile or running a marathon, people go nuts. And, rightly, they should. The Facebook encouragement I have received every time I’ve posted a status parlaying a little victory now and then has kept me fighting the good fight. This most recent side by side photo was met with all sorts of positive reinforcement and friends reminding me I have always been beautiful no matter what size.

Without sounding vain, they were right. I had always had dark silky hair with very few bad hair days. Except for the early 90’s, White Rain spiral perms sprayed to the ceiling looked bad on all of us! I was no exception. I had always had dark green eyes with golden brown star bursts that sparkled in the light. More than one boy in school had told me that, maybe not in those words, but I knew my eyes were pretty and they didn’t change no matter what I weighed. I had well-defined calf muscles. My calves might have been too big to zip a pair of equestrian boots around but all the years of walking around in high heels had given me some pretty nice shaped calves no matter how big they were. I had small, delicate feminine hands that made ladylike gestures when I talked. Of course, I found the irony in having small hands. God didn’t see fit to bless me with flat abs, narrow hips, or shapely thighs but he gave me small hands. Wonderful. I didn’t have to shop in the plus size glove department. Way to even things out, Jesus. I always felt like nice hair and a well endowed chest was God’s way of leveling the playing field between full-figured girls and their skinny counterparts. Thank goodness, God blessed me with both….until I lost weight. Now the second gift to the full-figured no longer applies.

That brings me to the half truth in how I’ve lost so much weight. Yes, I do eat low carb high protein for the most part and exercise several times a week but that’s not it. I’m going to be completely honest. Two years ago, I could not have said all those things about my hair, my eyes, or my calves. I didn’t like what I looked like and I wasn’t happy with who I was. I decided it was time to see a therapist.

I chose a counselor that specialized in behavioral modification and eating disorders. I wasn’t sure if I had an eating disorder but at 100 pounds overweight, I figured there was a pretty good chance I might. I assumed she would be a pseudo-nutritionist and we’d talk about food for the hour I was there. What we did was talk about the pressures I felt at work, what my marriage was like, my relationships with family and friends, character flaws I wanted to change, learning it was ok to say no and set boundaries. Then, we talked about food.

We started simple. At first, all I worried about was eating after supper. I placed an X on the calendar for every time I was successful. Then, I focused on not eating when I wasn’t hungry. Same thing, X on the calendar to mark my success. Over time, we developed a style of eating designed to fit my lifestyle much like the training of Pavlov’s dog. Together, we figured out what worked for me.

So, the cat’s out of the bag. Low carb, high protein, a bunch of exercise and a little bit of therapy. Shocked? Probably not. If you didn’t already think I was a little crazy, you haven’t read much of this blog.

Proverbs 1:5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.image

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