Confessions of a Facebook “Creeper”


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I admit it. I search for people all the time who aren’t my friends on Facebook. Usually, this happens during bouts of nostalgia when I find myself thinking about the people with whom I grew-up and wondering where they are, what they are doing, what they look like and how happy they appear.

I want to compare where I am, what I’m doing, what I look like and how happy I am with my childhood friends. I am always relieved and slightly joyous when I see that there has been weight gain, wrinkles, weariness…good. It’s not just me.

There are many people with whom I wish I had kept more regular contact. People with whom I am no longer “friends” – not even on Facebook. Sometimes I creep these people to see what life is like for them. I did this yesterday and spent a considerable amount of time looking at a few childhood friends and I was genuinely glad to see how happy they appeared. I was pleased that they had experienced adventures, travel, fun, love and beauty.

I considered sending a few friend requests, but got lost in thoughts of how it would be perceived by these people. I suffered from depression for most of my time in high school. This was before depression was really understood, talked about or treated. But, the biggest casualty of my depression was my social life. I withdrew from all of my friends and lost most of those relationships. One of the biggest hangers-on of this time period is embarrassment. I feel embarrassed all the time about how I was and I assume that people remember me in a negative light.

I was moody, judgmental, shy, confused, lonely and lost.

During these years my FB posts would have be the kind that you just get tired of seeing so you block the person so you don’t get the constant drone of negative status updates in your feed.

When I think about these years I am always overwhelmed with sadness for the many memories I have about stupid things I did as a result of my state of mind. I’ve been working on forgiving myself, and giving that girl a chance to heal and find acceptance; strangely, creeping on Facebook kind of helps with this. I’ve managed to ‘rekindle’ a few of these lost relationships and they have been extremely meaningful to me. Every time I send a request to a long, lost, friend and then we message back and forth a bit, and eventually just start to share life through the regular news feed, it helps normalize what feels like an extremely polarizing time for me.

I wish I could sit down with all of my old friends and have an open discussion about those years, explain what was going on in my world, express my regret for how I may have treated them, share my sorrow for all the lost time and then make-up for some of that time and move-forward as friends again.

My mind is full of many happy memories with them. I remember hours and hours of time spent together, laughing, talking about boys, playing stupid games, sleepovers, doing makeup, playing sports, passing notes in school…I see snapshots in my mind of us together on hammocks, acting cool at school dances, playing flag football, flirting and silly things like stuffing our shirts with balloons. The memories are full and rich.

But, then there are years where the memories are filled with pictures of school dances, football games, pep rallies and lunches filled with all these faces growing and enjoying life—but mine is not with them. These memories haunt me like shadows. Life was happening all around me, but I wasn’t in it.

So, I creep on facebook. I try to fill-in some of the gaps. I reach-out. I rekindle. I make progress.

I am so thankful for those friends with whom I’ve managed to reconnect because, the truth is, the folks with whom I grew-up really do mean a lot to me. They were the people that helped shape me into who I am today. They were my original cheerleaders, challengers and role-models. They were my squad, my family, my community. They exist in my memory as a deep and vast resource of life, joy, sorrow, lessons-learned, new experiences, comfort and friendship and I am so thankful for the ability to creep into their lives now and get a little piece of what once was.

I’m Back…


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I took a break from writing for a little bit. I was going-through treatment for non-recovery PTSD and the idea of trying to write on top of everything was a bit overwhelming to me. I was worried that everything I would write would be trauma-focused and that’s not really the point of what I’m trying to do here.

Now that I’ve completed the 10 weeks of treatment, plus a little down-time I gave myself, I’m good to go again. I will write about my experience with PTSD and treatment, etc. But, it will just unravel naturally, as I feel the urge to write about it.

I’m excited to be back to writing and cannot wait to get back into regular practice.

Putting Me First


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Ok, so writing is a bit challenging at the moment with everything that is going on. I’m in week 4 of my Cognitive Processing Therapy for my diagnosed Non-Recovery PTSD. This is EXHAUSTING. And there is a substantial amount of homework involved that really drains me.

Also, I have started a new job and, in the words of a co-worker at the moment, “it’s Oscar season!”
I’m planning the organizations largest event. Not only is it, typically, the largest event but, apparently, I’m very good at my job and have almost doubled the numbers from last year.

And then, I am continuing to work on the lifestyle and mindset changes necessary to become the healthier me I desire to be.

Also, of course, I am a Mother and a wife.

But, I’ve been doing really good at trying to take care of myself in the midst of all of this. I have made huge strides forward. I was recently very sick, and still have a bit of a cough and some sinus yuckies, and I didn’t binge-out on comfort foods. True, I didn’t totally neglect myself either, but I was mindful through it all.

And, for a while, I had stopped doing my mini-workouts during my workday. But, I realized how unfair that was on me. I had stopped taking breaks at work and was even eating my lunch at my desk, while working.

I could feel how the lack of these breaks was, actually, draining my energy and making me less effective in my work. So now, I am back to focusing on taking 2 breaks during my workday to get active. I climb the stairs, go for a walk or close my door and do some yoga or a 7 minute workout (the App).

I have refocused on trying to ensure that I am eating more veggies and fruit during the day as well. It all makes such a huge difference.

There are a few more changes I am trying to make for my personal well-being. One of them is to do some kind of household chore every day so that it doesn’t all become too much at once. If I do a bit every day, I should be able to stay on top of it and it will decrease my stress. Bonus- It’s added energy being spent. Like free exercise.

I want to be in bed, eyes closed, by 10:30pm. I have this persistent eye-twitch lately that’s driving me nuts. I know that it is the result of way too many nights awake past 11:30pm.

And, ultimately, I’d love to have more tv/video/game-free time. More still and quiet time. Even if this looks like 30 minutes of yoga before bed. Which is also a thing I want to make a “staple” of my day-to-day. At least, a little, yoga. It feels so good to stretch-out.

Part of “putting me first” is actually letting-go of part of me. I have a tendency to want to do everything, and have everything, absolutely perfect. I have had to work on letting-go of this desire and allowing things to be done “good enough” or not at all, so I could do some self-care.

I’m not that great at putting myself first, but I am learning to find some times when I allow myself to become the priority. Even if just for 10 minutes. I really believe this is helping me, my marriage, my work-life and my family be much healthier, happier and well-rounded.

251.5 Celebrating a HUGE Victory


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After a particularly exhausting therapy session (for non-recovery PTSD), I left the Psychologist’s office feeling torn-apart, raw, vulnerable and extremely exhausted.

‘I just want to eat my feelings away’ I thought to myself as visions of French fries and deep fried wontons from my favourite Chinese delivery place danced in my head.

I pictured all the yumminess that I could stuff in my face to avoid how I was feeling and dull the pain. I could feel myself start to salivate. The crunch of the wontons mixed with that tangy sweetness of sweet & sour sauce. The hot, salty warmth of a perfectly fried potato…

Then, from somewhere inside of me, this other voice spoke-up and said ‘We need to stop doing that. We need to stop ‘eating our feelings’.”

And then the most incredible thing happened. I listened.

This is the first time I can recall, since I’ve been aware of those thoughts and my food addiction (using food to dull negative thoughts/feelings) that I had been able to say ‘no’ to the pull to make myself feel better with food.

This is monumental. It is HUGE.

It is what I’ve been working-towards, and writing about over and over again, but it’s the first time I have had such a clear, obvious, perfect, undeniable victory.

In the past, I would justify ordering- ‘I’ll just have the fries and a few wontons…’ ‘I deserve this, I’m working through a lot, it’s the least I can do for myself..’ ‘People eat this stuff all the time, why can’t I?’

Why can’t I?

Because, unlike most people, I’m not just eating it because it tastes good, I am eating it to dull something that is going on in my life. I’m eating it to escape. Food is to me as alcohol is to an alcoholic, or drugs are to an addict. I use food to escape. I use food to feel better. I use food to dull the pain/thoughts/fear, etc.

And so, on this day I made a conscious decision NOT to use food that way. I went home and ate a normal dinner with my family. Since then, I have had other victories, making the choice to not eat something because I was aware I only wanted to eat it so I would feel better.

I ask myself ‘Why do I want that?’ and if the answer sounds like ‘to feel better’ than it’s a red-light (a no-go). However, if the answer is: ‘because I really would like a piece of chocolate right now’, than it’s a green-light because there is no emotion involved.

Having a food addiction is different to other addictions. We don’t HAVE to drink alcohol to survive. We don’t HAVE to consume narcotics, etc. to survive. But, we do HAVE to eat to survive. We need food. Therefore, as an addiction, it’s not something that one can avoid. I have to eat.

That’s why I’ve been working-on teaching myself to be more mindful of ‘why’ I want to eat. Do I want to eat that because I’m hungry, or because it will taste good? Or, do I want to eat that to make myself feel better, dull the senses, escape, etc?
I’m feeling pretty stoked about that massive victory and excited at the idea that I might, actually, be able to start getting some power over all of this. Feeling that I have the strength within me to conquer these things is really inspiring and I hope to just keep pushing-forward and becoming more reliant on myself and less reliant on food when things are tough.

253 The Vacation I Never Wanted that Won’t Go Away


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I went on vacation recently. This came after a few very stressful months at work that included a job change. I had planned on staying “on track” during vacation, I didn’t plan on taking a vacation from my healthy habits. I was doing another monthly challenge with some friends and I was determined to come-out as a winner.

I didn’t.

And, I went on VACATION. I ate cake, fast food, chips, chocolate, treats, etc. and I stopped working out.

Oh, and I stopped writing.


I don’t know what it is about vacations, but when I arrived at my parent’s house I was EXHAUSTED.
I spent most of my time, when not looking after my son, or doing something with my family, too exhausted to think, let alone move.

This exhaustion and vacation lifestyle has remained even after we returned home. We’ve been home for 2 weeks, as of tomorrow, and I haven’t been eating normally or exercising.

Having said that, I have been trying to be mindful of what I’m eating and how much (as I was on vacation) and I have done a lot of walking.

But, yesterday I was thinking about this vacation that I never wanted from my healthy habits and how it seemed to refuse to go away and realized that I just needed to take the power back and tell it that it was over between us.

So, today I did just that.

I’m busy at work, lots of adjustments to the new position, things to learn, stuff to sort-out and tidy-up, etc. We have a huge event on October 4th for which I am responsible and the list goes on…

My little alarm popped-up on my screen saying: “STAIRS!!! Or 7 min w/o!!!” reminding me to either climb the stairs in the building or do a 7-minute workout, yoga, or something to get up and move.

For the past 3 weeks of work, I have been snoozing these alarms endlessly and not taking the time to do my workouts.

I decided today that I wasn’t going to let this happen anymore. I hit “snooze” one more time (because I like the satisfaction of clicking “Done” once I’ve actually done it and not before), grabbed my keys and headed to the stairs.

I huffed and puffed up 8 flights. Got to the top, did 22 push-ups and a few stretches, and then headed back down to my office.
And I feel spectacular.

I am already making plans to ensure that my afternoon exercise break also happens today.

So, bye-bye vacation. It’s been grand, but it’s over now.

Oh, and ‘Hello, Everyone!’ I’ve missed ya.

250.4 My Life in Lbs


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I am getting excitingly close to leaving the 50’s and entering the 40’s.

I decided to take a look at my weight loss to date and figured-out that I am getting close to a 50 lb landmark.

It depends on which number I choose to look at, which is complicated a bit by the pregnancy/birth of my son.

Here’s my chart from Lose It:



My son was born October 17, 2013 and while still pregnant I had last weighed-in at 315 lbs.

After he was born, I got down to 283.5 on November 14th, 2013, but as you can see it went up from there for a while.

There’s a weird spike to 295 on March 25, 2014, but since there’s a previous mark that is 292.6 on January 2, 2014, I choose to pick an average there of 293 and just say that on January 1, 2014 I was 293 lbs.

With that little explanation, here’s a quick synopsis:

Jan. 1, 2014  (293 lbs) to Jan. 1, 2015 (280 lbs) = 13 lbs lost

Jan. 1, 2015 (280 lbs) to Jan. 1, 2016 (276 lbs) = 4 lbs lost

Jan. 1, 2016 (276 lbs) to Aug. 10, 2016 (250.4 lbs) = 25.6 lbs lost

Total lbs lost = 42.6

Getting so close to 50 lbs down.

I love this graph because it reflects a journey that hasn’t been easy, but I look it and see that I have never given-up. I look at it and I see hard work, perseverance, lessons learned, changes made, struggles, victories, tears of joy, tears of shame and, most beautifully, the creation and birth of my son.

To look at this chart is to see my life-the spikes represent times when life was difficult, dark times when I struggled to get out of bed in the morning and to eat anything other than toast, chips, chocolate and cookies. You can see times when the clouds seem to have parted and I go ‘great guns’ and drop a bit, only to rebound and hit another spike.

But, the general trend has been downwards and recently, the trend is pretty impressive. I have, clearly, learned a lot through my journey.

This morning I am feeling encouraged. I feel strengthened and validated in my pursuit of health.
I am not perfect. But, when I look at my life in lbs, I see a warrior who refuses to be defeated and is constantly honing her skills as she levels up and prepares to, once and for all, take down the big boss.

251.4 I’ll Have a Diet Pepsi, Please


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I did it! Ha.

Below the 252 mark. And, this was after going-through my cycle-slumps. I am excited because I see so much progress in my mindset and my capability to get-through the rough patches with less damage to my health and well-being.

I have entered another 4 week challenge. This time there is $$ involved, so a little extra incentive to meet my goals.

Having said that, after 1 week of having “Pop” as my bad habit I was trying to break, I have decided to switch to another bad habit. If I did fail and have a pop I  found myself saying “well, I’ve already lost the points, I may as well drink as much pop as possible to make it worth my while”.

Not helpful.

This way, if I decide to have a pop on a Friday evening as a treat at the end of the week, I can just have one and will not have to ‘make it worthwhile’ by drinking a lot more than I would have without that mentality of making the loss of points worth it.

Diet pop.

Ugh. It’s totally my arch nemesis.

Some of you may be wondering why I make such a big deal out of it. I mean, it’s not like I even drink it every day. Even if I did, it was just one can/day. So, what’s the big deal?

3 things:

  • It really seems to kill my gut
  • There are certain foods I like to eat with the pop. I don’t like drinking pop on its own. To me, it goes with certain things. Thinking about it right now, I would LOVE to sit down with 4 pieces of toast and a nice, cold, diet pop. Toast with marg&Nutella, toast with marg&Jam, Toast with marg&honey and either toast with pb&j or toast with just marg…That’s a lot of calories to consume just to enjoy a pop.
  • The artificial sweetener, etc. in pop makes me crave more sweets. Sugar consumption breeds sugar consumption and since artificial sweeteners not only taste sweeter than refined sugar, but have added chemicals that cause reactions in the brain, they breed even MORE sugar cravings. What starts off as an innocent diet pop craving once, leads to one/day, leads to a couple plus a small bag of chips, which leads to a few more, a big bag of chips and a bag of aero bubbles… get the picture.

I want to become a person who does not drink pop at all. Full stop.

If I declare, here and now, to the world that I don’t drink pop, do you think it will stick?

Can the random, weirdness, of the internet keep me accountable to never again consuming pop?

Is that an unrealistic goal at this point?

It can be tough to know which ‘demons’ to work on at any given time. I have found that the best way to do this is to really listen to my instincts and trust myself.

And, if I’ve learned anything, it is that the very fact that I’m asking those questions is a signal that I’m just not ready to make that much of a commitment to ditch the soda.

Because, at the end of the day, I am doing a great job and taking that 100% away feels like a punishment right now. When I make the decision, I want it to come from a positive place of empowerment, not weakness, just like all the other changes that have stuck have been. I think that’s why they have been successful.

So, I’ll have a Diet Pepsi, please.


At the moment I’m focusing on the following:

Exercise Daily: 7 minute workout, 10, 0000 steps, and either: extra walk, yoga/stretch or stair climbing

3 Servs Veggies/Day

3L water/daily

@ least 10 minutes of meditation time before bed. This can be writing, reading, yoga, stretching, playing guitar, walking…anything that makes me slow down, unplug and breathe.

Sticking to my calorie goals

And decreasing negativity.



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My clothes are heavy and dragging me down as they dance in the water. My hair is thrashing around, wildly, like it’s moving to an African drum beat. When my hair finally breaks apart, I am able to look up and see the sun above the water, hot and heavy, and becoming increasingly distant as it seems to be pushing me down into the depths of the sea. I take a deep, inner, breath and propel my arm upwards in an attempt to pull my head to the surface, but instead of doing so, I find myself gripping my newborn baby’s ankle and pulling him beneath the water with me. Suddenly, it’s as though a mountain has attached itself to my legs and as the sun continues to push me down, I am plummeted to the belly of the sea, dragging my child with me.

We are gone.

This was the nightmare that haunted me for months after my son’s birth. I would wake-up gasping for air, soaking wet and sobbing.

To this day, I can’t think about this without the surge of an upcoming panic attack. I stop as I write, close my eyes, practice my box breathing. I become aware of the sensations around me. I hear people talking in the hallway. I can feel my fingers resting on the keyboard in front of me. I smell a mixture of my morning mocha and my perfume. The aftertaste of my last mouthful of mocha is bitter on my tongue.

When I first mentioned the struggles I was having to my doctor, and told her about the nightmares, she said ‘It sounds like you might have some PTSD from birth trauma’ and that was that.

The first 4 months of my son’s life were a living hell for me. I felt like I was constantly in a war zone, battling for not only my survival, but his as well. This was made worse by the fact that I often felt like I was the biggest threat to my son’s safety, which meant that I was also fighting a war against myself all the time. I used to say: ‘It’s you and me, kid. You and me against the world.’ I felt like nobody got it. Nobody understood, or cared, about how dark it was for us. How much we had to fight to survive.

This added trauma on-top of trauma. I’ve started therapy to help me work through this. The other day my therapist asked ‘What things remind you of the event?’

What things remind me of the event?

Pretty much every aspect of my life is a reminder of the event, because ‘the event’ (my son’s birth), literally changed everything in my world. Everywhere I look there are reminders of him, every thought inside my head circles back to him, every emotion finds itself linked to him…I am surrounded by triggers.

But, I’m learning that there are certain environmental factors that bring me right back to the trauma and leave me swirling quickly out of control. Feeling trapped and feeling hot are major triggers for me.

I have identified a few, regular, times when this happens which means I am able to prepare and plan for them and when I am in the situation, can practice calming techniques to stave-off a full-blown panic attack.

But, there are still moments when I am caught by surprise.

This happened while camping last weekend. My son was exhausted, and so was I. We both like routine. He has always, naturally, been a ‘routine’ child and has always loved daytime naps. While camping, we were both thrown out of routine, and neither of us had slept well the previous night – I had, about, 2.5 hours sleep and while he slept longer, it was very disturbed. So, we needed a nap.

We were lying in our tent and it was HOT. I lay there, sweating bullets, trying to calm him and soothe him to sleep, despite the fact that he was also drenched in sweat. He kept looking-up at me with these pleading eyes to help him feel better. I felt helpless. Powerless.

I could feel the surge of a panic attack approaching.

Box breathing. Box breathing.

What can you feel? What can you hear? What can you see?

What can you see?

I looked above me to the top of the tent and saw that the sun was directly over us and I suddenly felt like an ant under a magnifying glass.

The panic was rising.

I looked up again and I saw the sun above the water, pushing me downwards.

I couldn’t breathe.

I’m trapped. We’re trapped. We’re going to die. I can’t breathe. I’m going to lose it. We’re being tortured to death. I have to get out of here. We’re under attack.

I grabbed my car keys, my son, and said to those around me “We’re going for a drive…” I’m sure I said some other things, not even sure what, or what was happening, or who heard me, or where anyone else even was.

All I could see was that my son and I were being tortured and I was getting us the hell out of there before we drowned to death.

It was everything that I had felt for the first 4 months of his life compressed into a few minutes. I have had experiences and moments like this every day since my son was born. Sometimes they are super intense, like it was that day camping. At other times, it is a small surge that I am able to overcome with grounding techniques.

But, every time it happens, it brings the trauma back to the surface and seems to add another layer on to it.

I am reminded of the line from the West Wing where the trauma specialist explains to Josh that the goal is to allow him to remember the event without reliving it.

I cannot wait for the moment when I can think about the day my son was born and smile at how incredible it was to hold him for the very first time, without feeling like I’m under attack and that I’m going to drown and bring him down with me.

To remember the beauty without reliving the trauma.

255.7 What Lies Ahead


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I’ve been doing really well at getting myself back on track. I’ve been loving my fruits and veggies and drinking plenty of water.  

My husband and I went for our usual ‘it’s the Friday before a long weekend lunch’ together and I ate all of my salad instead of leaving it and filling up on French fries. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still had the French fries, but not as much as I would have if I hadn’t finished my salad first. 

I’m not going to lie and say that the salad was totally more enjoyable than the French fries, but I will say that I enjoyed them equally. Perhaps, if I really think about it, maybe the salad did slightly edge-out the fries, because there was more going on there.

French fries are kind of 2-note foods, a bit of salt and some mush with an occasional crunch. But, the salad had sweetness, crunch, juiciness, softness, salt and the overall satisfaction of knowing that it was accomplishing much more for my body than the fries.

I also ordered a Diet Coke, which I immediately regretted because I had promised myself to just have water. Then, because I had ordered it, in order to feel like we got ‘our money’s worth’ I felt I needed to order another glass (free refills make a $3.00 Diet Coke feel justified). But, I mentioned to my husband as soon as the waiter had brought my second glass that I should have just ordered water. 

So, when I finished that glass, I asked the waiter to bring me an ice water. I am very proud of the fact that I realized I was feeling bloated and the pop was giving me a sick feeling. In the past, I would have thought ‘I don’t care. I’m enjoying myself. I’m going to eat/drink what makes me happy.’

Feeling sick doesn’t make me happy. I was mindful enough to realize that I wasn’t enjoying how the pop was making me feel and I had the power to make the best choice for my life.

Now, what lies ahead.

We are going camping this weekend. Camping is all about fun and food indulgence. Burgers, hotdogs, sausages, pancakes, s’mores, chips, pop…

I have been trying to construct an alternative universe in my head to prepare myself to make healthy choices. I’ve even been trying to convince myself to not buy myself pop for the weekend. I’ve been trying to fill my thoughts and day dreams of different kinds of fruit, salad, veggies and water.

And, if I’m going to indulge, I’ve been thinking it might be good to indulge in something that, in the very least, includes vegetables. For example, I was thinking today about picking up a nice veggie dip that I can enjoy with some carrots and celery instead of buying another bag of chips.

We already have Sun Chips and Dill Pickle Smartfood packed for the weekend and, thanks to my workplace, a dozen MASSIVE banana chocolate chip muffins…

I’ve also been ramping myself up to, in the very least, complete my 7-minute workout and meet my 10,000/day steps. Our little rental vehicle is going to be packed to the hilt, but I am determined to, not only bring, but use my yoga mat every day.

As I’ve said before, I am really learning how important it is to think about and plan for what lies ahead.

This weekend is a great opportunity to see how I can do at this when there are some clear battles ahead of me.

Oh, and the pop in the fridge that I was hoping to make last until the weekend…I had 1 or 2 cans since I wrote about them, but there are some left over. So, I say: “Yay! For progress!”

257 And Feeling Fantastic


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257 is a number I never wanted to see on my scale again. And yet, there it was. 2 mornings in the past 4 days. I’m not going to say that it doesn’t bother me at all, because I am disappointed.

But, it’s just disappointment.

I am not feeling guilty, ashamed, regretful or down on myself. I’m not calling myself names and moaning about how I failed again, etc.

Instead, my reaction has been: “Ok, that happened. Yes, it sucks. Move on.”

I feel fantastic. I feel even stronger and more prepared to avoid the pitfalls in the future. I’ve been exercising daily and back on a healthy eating track. I am aware that I need to keep an eye-out for warning signs that I am pushing myself too hard, too fast. I have, once again, increased my veggie/fruit intake and am increasing healthy proteins.

I went through one menstrual cycle without a major crash. I had increased my protein intake leading-up to, during and for a short time after menstruation to ensure that my energy had a bit of a boost. I also doubled my iron supplements during the bleeding time. I was so glad when I didn’t go into the same crash as before.

It’s exciting to me to see all the ways I have grown, the lessons I have learned that seem to be helping me develop a truly, holistic, long-lasting lifestyle that will allow me to really keep it up so that I can, not only, continue to lose weight, but will be able to maintain the loss.

Part of the journey has been allowing myself to make mistakes without beating myself up about it. Embracing failure has really revolutionized my weight loss.

I evaluate the times I’ve slipped by asking myself questions like these:

What were the warning signs?
What could I have done differently to set myself up to make a better decision?
When did I first realize that I was doing something that wasn’t the best for me?
Why didn’t I stop it at that stage?
What could I do to empower myself to stop and refocus on something healthy?
What do I need to do to prepare for the next time this happens?
What are some tools I can have ready to go so that when I see it approaching, I will be able to, easily, grab what I need to avoid the pitfall?

Yes, I’m 257 again, but I’m smarter, more aware, stronger, more prepared and truly am feeling fantastic about the path that lies before me.