September2013 284

The change from March 2013 to July 2013

 

I haven’t previously publicly written about my weight-loss journey. Sure, I talk about it on Facebook, but that’s definitely different than opening up myself to complete strangers. It’s not a spectacular story. There’s no epic catalyst that pushed me to change. But there is a story and there is a catalyst.

The weekend of May 13, 2013 I was in Dallas for BlogCon. If you’ve never heard of it, imagine a conference at a beautiful resort hotel, going to panels, trading advice, business cards, phone numbers, and stories, heated debates, staying up til near sunrise only get up two hours later, impromptu karaoke in the hotel lobby at 2:00 a.m., too much caffeine, more pictures than a person would care to count, and the greatest people you’ll ever have the privilege to meet all crammed into a weekend. THAT is BlogCon. It was an amazing weekend. Without exception one of my favorite trips (and I travel 1-2 times a month).

A friend of mine gave the keynote address and then had to hop on a plane to attend a funeral on Mother’s Day. She’d lost several close friends and family members in a 12 month span. She and her husband began their own journey to become and stay healthy. I bake for them a couple times a year and had already begun modifying and creating recipes to accommodate their new, paleo lifestyle. In her speech she urged everyone to do whatever it took to get and stay healthy. She said she was tired of burying her friends and family.

Monday was the last day we all spent together in Dallas. A bunch of us were having dinner and laughing and enjoying one last meal together. My friend, Chad Kent, took a picture of me that ended up on a poster highlighting the weekend. Everyone loved that picture. I hated it. All I saw was fat. All I saw was misery. There I was in a beautiful city, in gorgeous hotel, with people I love, and I looked miserable and miserably fat in every picture. I was heartbroken.

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I decided to try this paleo thing. May 16, 2013 I went through my kitchen and kicked out all processed food, grains, and refined sugar that weren’t ingredients for baked goods my friends regularly ask me to make (I’m the go-to gal for certain baked goods and need to keep certain ingredients in-stock). My biggest hurdle was the bread. I still miss bread. So very much… But I digress. I began working out. I searched YouTube for videos so I didn’t have to darken the doors of a gym and embarrass myself. I cried through the first couple of workouts because my body wouldn’t move the way the perky instructor on the screen was instructing it to. I was mortified to tell people I was exercising and eat healthily. Clearly all my fat was still in place so, in my mind, how could I expect people to believe me?

As many times as I’ve been told the psychological journey in losing weight is the hardest, I never fully grasped the concept until I began my own journey. I refuse to own a scale for this fact alone. If I had a scale, I’d obsess over the number and not focus on being healthy. At 32, I’ve never been healthier- my doctor and I even found out I have a pretty intense gluten intolerance that was causing nearly all of my health issues, but have been able to manage it by staying paleo and being a control freak about every piece of food put in front of me.

I’m not at my goal yet. I’m closer today than I was yesterday. I’m within view of it in a way I never thought I’d be. I actually see the size I’d like to be as a reachable size. I’m even seeing smaller sizes as possible. But every time I look in the mirror I still see that same fat face from Dallas. I still see every roll, pound, bulge, and jiggle that was there before I began. That almost triple chin I had still haunts me with every turn in the mirror and every candid picture I don’t control. This past weekend I bought a skirt from the “normal people” section of the store. It’s not a small or anything, but I didn’t have to search in the plus size area for it. I was so excited. Until this morning when I put it on and looked in the mirror. Again, I saw every tiny imperfection showing. Chances are, no one else does, at least not to the extent I see it all. But from my point of view I only see that 300 lbs. girl in the mirror, mocking every victory I’ve had in the last 365 days.

I haven’t kept 100% on track in the past year, but I keep going back any time I deviate. I continue to push through the setbacks and personal disappointments. Some days I cry because I want to taste “real” bread again. Some days I buy a bag of peanut butter M&Ms and eat only that for dinner. Those days are rare, but, I might as well be honest: they happen. I’m not perfect. I still have fat. I still get winded walking three flights of stairs to to the top of the parking garage at work where I eat lunch on the nice days. Some days I want to just call it quits and give in to cheesecake and cupcakes and biscuits and cookies (I have an intense sweet-tooth), but those days pass and I drink my fruit and eat my salads and chicken and remember I’ve never felt better, I’ve never been healthier. Maybe this time next year I’ll have reached my goal. Maybe I won’t have yet. Maybe I’ll have a new story. Maybe there will be a huge change to my journey. Who knows? But for now, I’ll keep going.

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May 6, 2014

“Writing is what we do when we are at a loss for words.”

I said that to a friend on Twitter tonight in response to an article we’d read describing a young woman- Emily Letts- who recorded her abortion and said it was “cool”. I watched the video. It’s not visually graphic but left me shocked nonetheless. I wish I could rant and rage and scream over what this woman did, but I don’t have it in me. Not tonight. Her words shook me. Her boldness baffled me. Her video saddened me. And I’m left with so many questions. Questions without answers.

I took to Twitter to try and 140-character my way through all the thoughts and couldn’t find the words. A friend of mine has a Monday evening blogtalk radio show and invited me to come on at the end to discuss my reaction/response to Ms. Letts and I was nearly speechless. The best I can describe what’s going on internally is ‘lost’. I feel lost, upside down. This post isn’t faring much better. All my thoughts are disjointed but it’s better to write than to hold it all in.

I briefly spoke with my mom about it.  She said, “I’m really proud of you. I know this isn’t easy for you but I’m proud of you and how composed you are.” My mom and dad (mostly mom) have been my sounding board and support system every time I take to witnessing these atrocities. I could take the easy way out and not watch the videos or read the articles or read the near-300 page grand jury reports. Yes, I went through the Gosnell grand jury report- every sordid word and every gruesome picture- but part of being in New Media is digging through the blackness of humanity. And my parents are always there at the end to help pick up the pieces of my heart and sanity to help put me back together.

The back story: I’ve struggled with infertility since 2005. I went through tests, surgery, rounds of fertility drugs- the works. In 2006 I found a faint “+” at the end of a plastic stick and had to keep asking my friends if I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. I quickly made an appointment to see my doctor and got started on prenatal vitamins. My doctor told me he didn’t know how I was able to conceive but by the time I was able to get for the full exam I wasn’t pregnant anymore. We lost the baby at around 8 weeks. My doctor said it was an anomaly and probably my last and only chance at having a baby. The doctor pulled me off the medications because they were making me sick and said he didn’t see the point of anymore surgeries. Being a mother- the one thing in life I longed for most- was ripped from me. Nearly a decade later, a huge lifestyle change (being paleo and gluten free has done me wonders), finding peace and sometimes losing that peace, and my body has corrected itself and begun to function normally- something my former OBGYN said wouldn’t happen. There’s a shimmer of hope now for whenever I *finally* earn my MRS degree, but a big part of me is afraid to let that hope grow too much “just in case…”

So every time I read about a woman throwing away the blessing of the miracle of life because “Oops!” or she doesn’t feel like being “burdened” or whatever, I grieve to my very core because I know how precious life is. The mindset required to willingly and actively discard a world of possibility and joy is one far beyond me. I know the feeling of emptiness after the surprise of life and can’t begin to imagine what resides in a person that removes the humanity to the point of destruction of life. I’ve laid in bed talking to my belly, begging a child I can’t see to, “Please live.” I cannot fathom stealing a breath untaken from the lungs of a life yet lived.

I love to cook. And I love to bake. If you follow any of my social media (this blog included) you know this already. If I’m not following politics I’m probably in my kitchen throwing random ingredients together in an attempt to either fully destroy my kitchen or create another drool-worthy masterpiece. Part of the what makes the whole process a success is the right cookware. And I’ve sorely been lacking in that area since having to sell off all my original cook- and bakeware. I’m super picky about my pieces and want each one to be multi-functioning and worth the price, material, time, etc, which is probably the biggest reason I’m STILL working on my collection.

Well, this chick is three pieces closer to her dream kitchen thanks to a small company called DowntoEarthenware. The owner and earthenware creator extraordinaire, Zach Schnare, is based out of the tiny town of Collinsville, Illinois. As far as I’m concerned Collinsville is one of my favorite places on earth- 1. for the friends and their bakery, Kruta’s Bakery, and now 2. for Zach and his bakeware. I’ve been a glass and non-stick gal my whole life, but my friend, Ginny, told me about Zach’s Facebook page and suggested I take him on his offer to trade a couple Apple Bakers for a review of the product. And that I did (I snagged a sweet deal on a pie plate, too).

I’d never heard of an ‘Apple Baker’ until DowntoEarthenware and had no clue what to do with one! Google had already become a close friend since going paleo in May of 2013 and subsequently finding out I have a gluten intolerance, so I put my typing fingers to work again to figure out exactly what to do with the strange pieces of pottery. As far as the colors, ease of use and cleaning, I’m impressed. I love the bright colors and the blue/green is right up my alley! Cleaning these things seems like it’d be a chore, especially because I use sticky things like honey in my baking. Nope. Not with these pieces of pottery. They clean up almost effortlessly. Seriously, I rinsed them out with some hot water after they cooled down and nearly all the residue from use was gone. After hand-washing them (no scrubbing needed) and making sure they’ve thoroughly dried they’re ready to be stored for another day or are ready for another round of apples.

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These things are the work of genius! I’m now completely in love with the Apple Bakers. Why have I never heard of them before this?! I’ve never been a big fan of apples but oh man! This is like customizing apple pie without the guilt of the crust or added refined sugars! Using the Apple Bakers is so easy. I’ve stuffed the cored apples with blueberries, cranberries, cinnamon, coconut flakes, honey, and nutmeg (not all at the same time though). So far my favorite way to prepare apples is to core them, stuff the middle with pecans, place the apple on the cone in the middle of the baker, drizzle with honey, sprinkle with cinnamon, and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees (see below for how I pair my apples for an absolutely delish Saturday paleo brunch).

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Next up was the pie plate. I’ve missed my pie plate but hadn’t been able to settle on the right one (it’s taken me several years of looking at pie plates and never being satisfied for some reason or another). Overall, earthenware has intimidated me. Let’s be honest, if you’ve never before baked with pottery, it looks like you’d spend more time cleaning it or trying not to shatter it than you would actually baking with it.

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This pie plate is quite different from my old trusty one I couldn’t seem to replace, but I’m good with that. The deep dish style works great for paleo apple pies:

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And paleo quiche:

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Practically speaking, clean up is along the same lines as the Apple Bakers- wash it when it cools down and make sure it dries completely before storing. I always brush the bottom and sides with a light coating of olive oil and nothing sticks- NOTHING, not even baked cheese. The red is beautiful and rustic and, despite the abuse of my kitchen testing, has maintained looking new- no discoloration or fading.  I burned my first attempt at a paleo pie crust, but it was an even burn in the pie plate, which, color me impressed because I’ve never seen anything burn evenly in an oven (I don’t normally see anything I bake burn for that matter). We’ll chalk the burned crust up to human error because, other than that, every attempt has been a success. Not only does the bakeware burn evenly, it bakes evenly. Even baking is one of the reasons it takes me so long to pick out a new piece of bakeware, I’m skeptical of everything. I’ve seen too many companies advertise how spectacular their product works only to be wholly disappointed. Zach didn’t tell me about the pie plate would bake evenly or be easy to clean up. Those were happy surprises. Honestly, I love using DowntoEarthenware. I can’t say enough great things about DowntoEarthenware. This is my new favorite bakeware company. Hands-down, favorite and worth every penny of the price. Go like them on Facebook and grab your next favorite pieces before they sell out.

Heaven help us all. Billy Ray Cyrus let someone re-make ‘Achy Breaky Heart’. Worse yet, they made it into a rap. Ugh! Cue the vomit and seizures.

I tweeted a play-by-play of the awful awfulness under the hash tag #MyAchyBreakyEars, but really, I couldn’t do the train wreck justice. If you so dare, brave the video and shake your heads with me at the downfall of music.

 

My parents have been married 17 years today.

I’m 31. The math isn’t hard. The dad I’ve been exponentially blessed with isn’t biological and that is the most insignificant drop of fact in the world. Dad is the definitive example of a man. He’s shown me how to be a lady, how a man should treat a woman, how not to settle for less. I have his personality- his stubbornness, his tenacity, his sense of humor, his nerdiness, his awkwardness, his type of passion for things that strike my fancy, his argumentativeness. Dad taught me to cook, sans recipe. The level of frustration we send my mom to when he and I get in the kitchen together knows no limit- she always asks what we added/did. We shrug our shoulders; we don’t know. We just create. I am his daughter to my core.

My Marmie and I tend to butt heads. We don’t see eye-to-eye. But she lets me be me. She cheers me on when I doubt my path. She holds me on the couch when I need a hug. She lets me cry and rant when I don’t know why I’m crying or ranting. Mom taught me how to love music, not in lessons and books, but with melodies and singing. My beautiful mother has experienced the shackles of oppression and hardship and poverty to, in the end, stand. She may be battle-scarred by the fight, but she still stands. Marmie has taught me to endure. She’s taught me faith. She’s taught me to seek God, to praise Him no matter how low things get. I’m a better woman because of her.

We live in a society that throws in our faces romance is dead, yet I still see grand gestures by a quiet man. The world has become tone-deaf and children grow up not knowing good music, but my ears are filled with beautiful melodies. Our pop-culture once celebrated marriage, now fights against it, but my parents are an humble beacon and example.

Happy Anniversary, mom and dad.

*Update* I have been challenged to a friendly wager by my dear friend, and #MisfitBaby’s mom, Ginny Kruta. #MisfitBaby has been making the political rounds already and she’s not even a year old. She has been seen with the likes of Texas Governor, Rick Perry, former presidential candidate, Herman Cain, and Miss America 2008, Erika Harold, who is running for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District seat.

The wager? Who can get the most pictures of politicos. #MisfitBaby or my bacon brownies. A Doctor Who t-shirt is at stake here so please press that donate button and send your political contacts my way!

Last year, with the help of some amazing strangers-turned-friends, I had the privilege of taking my unorthodox bacon brownie recipe to the largest conservative political conference in U.S.- CPAC. And the brownies were a success!

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dc 071Texas Governor, Rick Perry ate two.

dc 003THE @GaltsGirl and bacon aficianado, Michelle Ray

dc 060Jonah Goldberg

dc 061Bruce Carroll

dc 116Brandon Darby

dc 120David Webb

dc 123John Lott

dc 127Mike Flynn

dc 036Holly Bacon and Larry O’Connor

This year I’ve been given a challenge- to get photographic proof of Texas senator, Ted Cruz, eating a bacon brownie. Now, this isn’t the only reason to return to CPAC with my bacon brownies in tow, but it sure is a fun one. Since last year I have re-worked the recipes (one for normal folk and one for paleo/gluten free folk) and made them even better than before. But I can’t do this again without your help. A kitchen has been donated and kitchen assistants have been lined up. All that’s left is the money. I need $150.00 to make this happen. Any amount you give will help. Anyone who donates and is attending CPAC will be guaranteed access to the brownies until they are gone- all you have to do is walk up and ask for one.

Donate here or on my main page. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to bake for you.

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First, I’m being as anonymous with the people involved as possible to protect myself and them. With that in mind, there are several details and some background story that is missing from this post. I apologize if this muddles some things for you, reader.

I’ve written about my encounters with rape, sexual assault, and molestation. I’ve talked about them on air a few times. And life marches on. And my faith and relationship with God has taught me how to heal. I know it’s strange, but most days I forget I’m a survivor. Most days are just days and my history doesn’t get in the way. I don’t shy from my past and I don’t let it control me. But some days the memories of those acts march right up to me and slap me hard in the face. So hard tears well up in my eyes as if the reminder became corporeal at the instant of contact then dissolved back into the ether, leaving me stunned.

Today of those moments came. I don’t know what provoked me to look but I did. One of my Facebook friends knows the man who raped me when I was 15. I knew several years ago they were friends with him on Facebook and occasionally spoke to him. This person knows what he did and chooses to still be friends with him. That is their business. I’m not here to regulate their life or anyone else’s. This person and I have had a rocky relationship through the years and have recently come to amicable terms and we are back on Facebook together (it sounds like more drama than it’s worth and some days it is, but whatever. It is what it is). At work this person came to mind and, for some stupid-brain reason, it came to me to see if they were still friends with the guy. At that point I could have ignored the thought and kept working, but I didn’t. My fault. They are still in contact with him.

This person- who is supposed to love and care about me- is remaining friends with my rapist. I cannot control this person’s life or friends. I don’t want to. That’s not my style. But it hurts to know they don’t care enough to at least pretend around me they’re not friends. Strangely, though, I’m more upset that I’m upset about it. I feel like I should be past this. It’s been 16 years and I’m not a naive teenager anymore. I have a voice. I have a future. I have a life. And this piece- this in-the-grand-scheme-of-things-tiny piece- of my life has a way of grabbing hold of me and shaking my core. It still effects me. It may not happen often. I may go months without issue, but sometimes…

Sometimes a reminder comes up and slaps me. Hard.