Back On Track After Illness

I started to write a blog the other day about my sinus surgery. It really wasn’t until I started to write everything down that I noticed just how long my sinuses have given me problems. I actually first started presenting issues back in May of 2018. That was a year ago!

The past year has been amazing from doing my TEDx Talk, launching my book, and having my dream book signing at my favorite book shop Savoy. I was even nominated for an Athena award, celebrated 10 years with my husband, and moved! Did I mention that I teach POUND several days a week and take karate?

In the midst of all these great things I also took 10 rounds of oral antibiotics of increasing strength and duration, took prednisone for far longer than I ever wanted to, had a PICC line of antibiotics since my “severe persistent maxillary sinus infection” seemed to never go away. Through it all I rarely paused.

Figuring out I’m allergic to a host of plants, animals, and fungi and starting immunotherapy has been great but finally going in to repair my deviated septum and tool through my sinuses has been incredible. I sleep better, breathe better, and even though the first couple of days I felt like I was hit with a bat it is all worth it.

Now that I’m feeling better I got to see just how much this has affected me. I was always very diligent with journaling my food and meal prep but the past few months have been so draining that I barely kept up. It’s easy to make excuses when you don’t feel well. Being under the weather is always a great excuse to slack.

If you’ve been around these Blog parts for a while you’ll know that I’ve had a very unhealthy relationship with scales. It was bordering on obsessive and emotionally controlling. When I had RNY Gastric Bypass I only weighed myself at the doctors office until those appointments became less frequent. I then implemented what I call the Rumble Strip.

On a roadway the rumble strip is the lines placed in the asphalt beyond the white line. When your tires hit them it makes an alarming sound jilting the driver back to attention. My rumble strip is a pair of pants. I have a pair of jeans that I love. They fit well and the true test is how they fit fresh out of the dryer. If I ever want to check how I’m doing I’ll throw on those pants and let them be my guide.

I haven’t done it in a while and with my general slack and boatload of excuses I knew it was time. I put them on yesterday after 3 solid weeks of limited activity recovering from my surgery. They went over my hips and zipped just fine. The button, however, not my finest hour. I’ve officially hit the rumble strip and I’m finally feeling well enough to tackle it!

So many people ask about getting back on track. Not just after weight loss surgery but after any way that you’ve lost before and began the slow creep back. The best thing is always to go back to basics. You know what you did that worked so return there and begin again. The month of June I’m doing a 30 Day Re-Focus where I’ll return to my basics and get back on track.

What are Basics?

  • Count macros and calories
  • Journal all food (if you bite it write it)
  • Chart how I feel when I eat
  • Be sure I’m pausing and taking 10 seconds (read about that HERE)
  • Increase step goal to 15,000 per day
  • Move 60 mins per day
  • Meal prep!

What are NOT Basics?

  • Getting upset about gain
  • Isolating and not addressing the issue
  • Continuing to live in your excuses
  • Not trying to correct the behavior before it gets out of control
  • Hating yourself

Remember:

  • You cannot hate yourself happy
  • You cannot shame yourself thin
  • You can take steps to correct
  • You can reach out for help and accountability
  • You can bounce back
  • We can do it together
  • Give yourself 30 days

Before May 31st

  • Weigh yourself
  • Take measurements
  • Make sure you have a place to journal your food
  • Find an accountability partner or check in with me
  • Have at least 3 days of healthy and portioned meals ready to go
  • Be ready to take this challenge on!
  • NOTE: You will not weigh in or take measurements until July 1st. Feel free to put on your Rumble Strip pants to check progress if you NEED to see how you’re doing before July.

You’ll be amazed what 30 days of focus can do! Let’s do it together. I’ll be posting some free reference guides and helpful planning tips.

Farewell 2018

Thank you 2018. What a whirlwind year! Goals achieved, dreams realized, and relationships cultivated; tempered with loss of loved ones, physical health issues, and personal challenges. From the joy of publishing my book and speaking on the famous red dot of TEDx to the tragedy of losing my aunt, this has been a year.

What I’ll take from every joy and pain of 2018, is that life ebbs and flows moment by moment. We tend to trick ourselves into the newness of a year on January 1st but a new opportunity is born every second. Not just on January 1st, not on Monday morning, but every moment you’re alive is a chance to do better or be better. Don’t get sucked into the hype of a new year. Be present in moments. If you stumble, all is not lost! With the simple blink of an eye, by the grace of God, you can try again.

Thank you 2018. If you’re reading this then my heartfelt thanks to you! What a gift and pleasure to share this space with you all. I can’t wait to show you what’s planned for 2019!

God Bless!

Regina

Did You Do It Yourself

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to have a booth selling and signing my books at the Rhode Island Women’s Expo. I loved sharing Food, Sweat, & Fears with new people.

Weight is so personal. You could see it in how people chose to engage at the booth. Some didn’t want to engage at all, while others had more curiosity. Many people opened up and shared stories of about themselves or a loved one battling the issues of weight. Most people seemed like they were looking for The Secret Missing Link Of Weight Loss.

The most frequent question was this:

Did you do it yourself?

The battle rages on. People still seem to believe that weight loss surgery has no element of work and is considered “cheating” weight loss. There was a woman who had surgery and called it cheating! I was stunned. She intimately knows how much work is involved in this process and still called it cheating!

My work is not done. I will continue to speak and share my message about the surgical options for weight loss. Surgery is NOT for everyone but removing the stigma from this option can save lives.

Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix or even a guarantee of weight loss. Long term success eludes most people after surgery. This can be directly attributed falling back into unhealthy eating behaviors after surgery. When you’ve spent your life exhibiting poor eating choices – like me – or you use food as a primary coping strategy – like me – this can be extremely challenging. You have to do the work. No matter how you choose to lose weight there will be work to do.

Coming out of the Thanksgiving Food Olympics and heading straight into Christmas Cookie Season, makes me really sensitive to people’s comments. Probably because the hardest workout I do this season is shaking my head from left to right refusing your offers of cookies and cakes.

I have to do that all by myself.

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Did you know you can preorder my new, expanded cookbook Healthy Fare today? Ships before Christmas! Check it out here: Healthy Fare

Self Improvement and Self Acceptance

Have you ever heard a quote that instantly made you pause? Something that strikes right into the heart of who you are or what you believe? My friend is a yoga instructor at our YMCA and she’s implementing a series of quotes on self acceptance into her classes this session. She provided me the quotes she was going to use. I read down the list and they were all wonderful but one really stopped me from reading on. I was almost forced to consider its meaning. I love that.

“No amount of self improvement can make up for any lack of self acceptance.” Robert Holden

Whoa! Pump the brakes! I was transported to the very origins of my weight and body image issues. In a flash, I was back to battling with my body, how much I hated it, and how badly I wanted it to change.  I never maintained any long-term success.  I remember losing a lot of weight and not being happy because it was never enough. Then the frustration would set in and I’d find myself back where I was or worse.

What was missing in all of this – which was the soul of my TEDx Talk – was acceptance. I needed to love and appreciate my body just as it was. I had to find value where I didn’t see it before. My body always had value, even if I never noticed it, including my Jiggly Arms!

That self acceptance clears the path to self improvement. You can want to improve yourself by getting in better shape, being more active, or whatever but until you have genuine gratitude for who you are as you are you’ll be spinning the spiral of “never good enough.”

Love yourself today because (drum roll)

“No amount of self improvement will make up for any lack of self acceptance.”

Another reason this speaks so clearly is that I’m working on a program based on my experiences with food and body issues. I did a soft launch with a few people a few months ago and saw that it needed some restructuring before a full launch. Ultimately, I needed more time to put it together and run it effectively. Here’s one of the days of the original program:

When you love something isn’t it easier to take care of it? You are the same way! Your body is the same way! Self love seems simple for some but for people with long-standing issues with their body the concept is almost revolutionary.

What part of your body do you struggle with loving?

Can you accept it right now?

Can you thank it for something it’s done? Try it.

If you’re interested in being a part of the Compass Course launch let me know by filling out the form below.

Hard To Get Wrong

Remember the old joke about a man lost in New York City? He asks a New Yorker: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? The New Yorker answers: Practice, practice, practice.

Practice is the basis of excellence. Even if you were gifted with a talent, practice hones snd refines your skills. Karate is no exception to this at all. I learned a few months ago what I was doing wrong with my training and I saw the benefit of the switch I made last night at my Belt Test.

A few months back Sensei noticed that my last kata was my best kata. I was proud of myself for about 1.2 seconds. He followed his comment up telling me that my first kata should be my absolute best because I’ve done it the longest. He suggested I work on all of the kata from beginning and working up to my latest and if I make a mistake go back to the beginning. I started doing that during my practice at home.

In class a few weeks laterI discovered my next practice flaw. We were working on basics and Sensei said:

Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until it’s hard to get wrong!

That showed me something about myself. I’m a list maker and I like putting check marks on said list. Done. Complete. Move on.

Karate can seem like a activity where you can make a list and check things off as you go but in reality you can’t. In the beginning, you learn basics and patterns of movement. As time goes on you learn techniques to deepen your skill level. This process is continual.

Last night I tested for my Blue Belt with Black Stripe. This is my final Blue Belt. With the launch of my book, work, and moving I’ve had to practice in any corner of time I could find. I’ve done more practice in the shower, in front of the microwave, and in public places more than I care to admit! The joy was seeing how these microwave moments and my new understanding of practice came into full swing yesterday.

Belt testing usually begins with a workout. More like a You Feel Like You Might Die Session. Yesterday’s workout did. Not disappoint. As I’m typing this I feel like my thumbs are as sore as my abs! After the workout we generally take a break and then Sensei will call each group up to perform their kata and their kumite in front of the class starting with white belts. There are several belt ranks that would test before me so I was looking forward to kicking back and watching the show.

This. Did. Not. Happen!

Sensei called us back to our lines and we did each kata until it was our final kata. I was not remotely expecting that! I had about 2 seconds to ponder what was happening and we started! My anxiety was about to explode but then I remembered that this is just how my practice has been over the past few months and like most Saturday classes! You stay in the group until you’re way over your pay grade and you respectfully bow out. I had to just focus and do what I’ve been doing in the shower but do it in the dojo with scores of people watching… thankfully, with clothes on!

When I walked into the dojo at 44 years old with no clue or expectation of what the next 18 minutes looked like – let alone the next 18 months – I never expected this. The physical challenges, mental exhaustion, and trying to get to Carnegie Hall with all my practice! Another thing I never expected was to walk into a place and join with a group of other human beings searching for their own sense of health, challenge, and purpose. I also didn’t expect to love so much. Karate is a path that can feel like you are walking on your own but every step you take is on the hands of masters who went before you lifting you up and you’re. holding the hands of your peers steadying you on the way.

This was the hardest belt test by a country mile but the one I’m most proud of. I still have a ton to learn, techniques to deepen, and practice to do but I’m ready to continue down the path with the greatest friends a girl could ask for!

Beautiful Destinations in Pain

If there’s one thing that’s universal it’s struggle. We all struggle with something. Do you struggle with fear? Anxiety? Failure? Success? Do you struggle with loss? Gain? Misunderstanding? Do you struggle with food? Weight? Alcohol? Drugs?

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. – Zig Ziglar

I’ve seen this quite every where and often quoted to unknown or a million other people. Who said, it is secondary to its power. It’s a powerful quote because it is so true. No matter what card we were dealt, we’re all playing a hand and theres joy in knowing that our struggle will shape us… and will shape someone else.

I knew a young woman (I’ll call her Sally) who suffered from multiple miscarriages. It was absolutely devastating for her and the emotional toll of her losses claimed her marriage and her self esteem. Sally suffered for years carrying the burden of these losses. A few years later another woman (I’ll call Jane) was also silently struggling with the same situation. Jane was unable to carry a child to term and couldn’t vocalize her pain. No one knew how much she suffered. She feared people either wouldn’t understand or would just pity her. Her silence was destroying her.

I was blessed to find myself in the same room with these two women – both strangers at a support group run by my church. As we all shared our struggles they both listened. When it was Sally’s turn to speak, she began to share her story of her miscarriages and how she was struggling to maintain her faith that She’ll be a mother one day.

Suddenly, Jane burst into tears! I was taken by surprise because she was silently listening the whole meeting. Sally immediately stopped and directly asked Jane if she was okay. Between sobs, Jane choked out her story of miscarriages and the pain she was experiencing, how worthless she felt, and how it took up every corner of her brain making it impossible to move forward. She thought no one could possibly understand her feelings of loss and fear.

Sally, who moments earlier was just sharing her struggle walked to Jane and put her arms around her and listened. When she was done, Jane collapsed into Sally’s arms finally unburdened from the weight of her silence and her grief for that moment. Sally was now a comforter, telling Jane that the losses are painful but she knows that one day she’ll hold her babies in heaven and that gives her peace. It was like I could see beams of light coming from their hearts that became entwined. Their shared struggle became a place of healing for both of them. God bonded them through their losses.

I never saw Jane after that but often thought about her and prayed for her. Sally, I’ve seen over the years and I know that she’s happily married with a child now. Something she thought was impossible a few short years earlier.

Imagine your struggle – whatever it is. Imagine the pain, the difficulty, the loss, the fear. It’s all too easy to imagine that these feelings are unique to us, that no one will understand. Until you vocalize your issue you will be internally suffocated by your silence. Imagine your struggle again. Imagine opening yourself up and sharing with a person you trust or in a support group and discovering you are not alone… and you never were. There’s freedom in that, there’s healing in that, there’s life in that. There’s a purpose to walking down these difficult roads.

I let my pain fester in silence for years but once I was unburdened by it and shared my experiences I found healing and joy. Your difficult road is leading you to a beautiful destination. With faith it will be the most beautiful destination of all.

Terror, Typos, And Roundhouse Kicks

I’ve blogged for over a decade on various platforms so sharing parts of my life or general observations of the world around me isn’t new. I first got my stride writing on MySpace. Everyone had anonymity through embarrassing screen names which made what you were sharing have a layer of privacy. As the platforms shifted we lost that anonymity. Facebook literally put a face to our feelings and comments. Despite shedding that last layer of privacy, we continue to share. One would think after all these years of sharing that writing a book would be what comes naturally. One would be wrong.

When I started writing I wanted to be open and honest which were two things I’ve spent a lifetime NOT being about my weight. From lying about how much I was eating to how much I weighed, openness and honestly were not a part of my program. Diving into those feelings and emotions were terrifying but the more open I became the better I felt AND the more I realized that I was never alone in those feelings.

Writing was emotionally challenging. The rewrites were unreal. I struggled with sharing too much or too little. I struggled with sharing parts of other people’s stories that overlapped my own since I felt they weren’t mine to tell. Then I struggled with my anxiety.

Should I write this?

Will anyone understand?

What if it’s universally hated?

These thoughts are the devil and sometimes incredibly paralyzing. I’d write, then rewrite, then try again, and again… and again. Then I noticed that these changes and rewrites were really more about delaying progress than seeking perfection. Procrastinators are truly perfectionists with anxiety! I was starting to lose my nerve but I had many books already sold from the preorder so I knew I had to turn off the internal chatter and just do it!

It was then I discovered the intricacies and potentially issues with self publishing. There were formatting problems, platform delays, and shipping issues. With every delay my anxiety was rising because this process was only to take about 40 days from book completion took way longer than that. I wanted my first signing and book pick up to be at Higher Grounds Community Coffeehouse and I had to reschedule it 3 times waiting for my books to arrive. I made the decision to order my pre-ordered books and first round of books to have on hand – sight unseen. An enormous leap of faith for a perfectionist. Even doing this resulted in people ordering from the Amazon bookstore receiving their books before I received mine!

Last Thursday after months of delays and oddball issues my books arrived. In looking them over I noticed some typos and some formatting issues. Things I definitely should’ve caught but I was so concerned with the forest that I failed to see the trees. Amazon’s self publishing arm is very new and apparently still had some kinks to work out from the author end of things. What’s beautiful with self publishing is that the books are print on demand and easily updated. I’m working on this formatting issues and typos now. If you’ve ordered one of these original books thank you and I hope the typos aren’t too distracting from the story itself.

What I’m most proud of is that I did it. Knowing things weren’t completely perfect I still did it. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, once said:

“Done is better than perfect.”

For a person who obsesses over minute details, this is a challenging concept. Historically, I’d rather do nothing than something substandard! I’m discovering that karate is helping me immensely in this area.

When you watch a trained person do a karate move it looks effortless – almost simple. Yet, when you try to mimic the movement you become keenly aware that it is not simple. It’s really a million tiny moves working in perfect harmony! A roundhouse kick is a prime example of that for me. Looks pretty simple, right? You’ve seen it on TV and movies forever, right? Try it. Everyone from Bruce Lee to Steven Stegall to Patrick Swayze made it look easy. It’s not.

My kicks will only improve with the combination of time and training. Time alone will not do it. I could be enrolled in karate for 50 years but if I don’t practice I won’t improve. Training is also not enough. You can learn the basics of a kick in one session but you won’t master it that day. I really want to master it that day! REALLY!

I have to continually remind myself:

I will not master anything immediately.

Procrastination is the devils way of blocking your progress.

I have never been alone in my feelings of self-doubt, anxiety or fear and that sharing that – even imperfectly – is of great benefit to someone who needs it.

And done can really be better than perfect.

Sometimes.

To see Food, Sweat, & Fears on Amazon click Here

Finally

When I offered my new book for pre-sale to the readers of my blog I naively thought I was in the homestretch of the process. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From my own challenges and insecurities of telling such a personal story and wanting to tell it honestly and openly but without compromising the many other stories that intertwine with my own was an undertaking. When I thought I was finally able to communicate my vision without infringing on others I ran into platform issues with publishing that I did not anticipate or account for.

IMG_0615In the midst of this, I was selected to be a speaker at TEDxNewport which was a long-standing dream for me and one of the most incredible times of my life. The preparation for TEDxNewport was extensive and was coupled with the busiest season at work. Needless to say, more delays. I’ll be sharing my TEDxNewport experience when the video becomes available.

Finally, after delays, technical problems, insecurities, and more Food, Sweat, and Fears is shipping!! The pre-sale was successful so they are coming via freight. As soon as they get in my hands I’ll post the pick up locations and book signing dates. The book is now available on Amazon if you did not pre-order. If you’re local, books will be available for sale at signings and some store locations which I will share when finalized. If there’s a bookstore or library you think should have this book reach out!

 

If you’d like me to come to your school, business, or church please contact me through the contact form HERE. Weight is only a part of the story. The issues of anxiety, fear, faith, and self-value are universal and so very necessary right now. Let’s talk!

Click the book (and check out early praise) to go to my Amazon author page! I’m currently working on expanding my first eBook Healthy Fare into a full scale cookbook. Follow my author page to know first when new material is available.

Thank you for your continued support! I am blessed beyond measure!

Bariatric Test Kitchen – No Pie Pumpkin Pie

My favorite season is autumn. Living in New England we are blessed with perfect fall weather. From the crispness in the air and the beautiful foliage on the trees it’s an incredible place to be this season.

Another reason that fall is amazing is that it’s OFFICIALLY PUMPKIN SPICE SEASON! I love the smell of Pumpkin Spice! Can you believe that out of the thousands of pies I’ve consumed in my lifetime, I was never a fan of Pumpkin Pie? Surprises me too. Then one of my friends asked me to test out a recipe she found on one of my favorite websites: Bariatric Eating. It’s the No Pie Pumpkin Pie that was created by the founder of the site Susan Leach. (What does bariatric mean? Click here!)

One of my favorite things to do it take common recipes and make them better for bariatric people OR test recipes that other people give me. So when my friend asked me to test this recipe out a new idea was born! Welcome to the first episode of Bariatric Test Kitchen. It’s where YOU send me recipes and I’ll either make them healthier or try something that you’ve found.

Take a look and let me know what you think! The information to send the recipes is in the video.

Thank you to everyone who has supported my first eBook it means a lot to me and I hope you find this quick book helpful especially as you get further along after surgery when things start to get harder.: Healthy Fare:Bariatric Friendly Recipes & Helpful Guides  


The Final Final Exam

Before I begin, I just want to explain why I haven’t posted so frequently as of late. I’m in the final push for my book Food, Sweat, and Fears and it’s taking my free time as well as all of my writing! Writing can be exhausting and add in work, husband, family, karate, POUND training, karate camp, traveling, and puppies and it becomes a recipe for limited time. Back to our regularly schedule program…

At East Coast Karate we belt test quarterly and it was time to test for the Orange Belt! I’ve been practicing and attending classes regularly and it was all coming together. Attending the Rhode Island Karate & Kobudo Camp increased class count and my experience way more than the required number of classes to be eligible to test. Karate always stretches me emotionally as well as physically but this time it was different.
The first twang of discomfort came when we were to test on a Wednesday. We always test on Thursday but Sensei has a training camp in North Carolinta so the day was moved. I know it seems silly but it really did throw me off. Although I’d been training for three months I don’t know why this loss of a single day was a big deal. The last few classes I was feeling strong and confident. Then came Monday.

Monday’s class was my last  opportunity practice before the belt and it felt like I was doing everything wrong. I know what I know and yet I couldn’t get it. I was hoping the welling nerves would pass. They didn’t. Practicing at home wasn’t going so well either.

The day of the belt test I headed to the nail salon. We have a large group of people in our belt rank and many of us commit to matching our nails to our new belts. As I’m sitting in the pedicure spa I’m getting crazy nervous! Why am I so anxious today?

Then I did the stupidest thing EVER! I went home to practice before the test and decided to record myself. NEVER again on testing day. I can only say with any certainty that the video looks like a tangle of limbs and afro. By the time I get to the dojo I’m 100% in my head. When it was time to test I still felt like I was failing a final exam after studying for weeks! I looked calm and relaxed but inside was a completely different story.

When the test was underway I felt like I was doing horribly. I knew I could do better because I’ve done better. I did make it through but I wanted so much more. Watching the upper belts made my desire to improve even greater. I need to get out of my own way!

As Sensei was getting ready to hand our belts he mentioned something that will forever change my approach to the test. This isn’t a final exam like I was feeling all day. He said, “This isn’t a test as much as it’s a performance. The test was the three months of hard work leading up to today.”

Mind. Blown.

Performance? As a singer I get performance. As a karate student taking a belt test it feels like I need to pass something and if I don’t so well then I fail on some level. The reality is that Sensei wouldn’t have us test if he thought we weren’t sufficiently tested! Why didn’t I see this before? It’s crazy how a single word can change the way something feels completely. Kind of like the word exercise feels more like a chore but training does not.

The pressure has been removed from the equation now that I understand that I wouldn’t be on the floor if I didn’t know enough to be there. My next belt test will be in December for my blue belt and I plan to treat it like a recital! Orange Belt Test is officially the final final exam.

Me and Sensei Dave (David Ahrens, Kyoshi)Missing a few but here are the Orange Belts!Getting belted!

p.s. I didn’t delete the video so I’ll show you all in a few years after I get my Black Belt!