The Castaway Plan

I have always wanted to go to Positive Changes and get hypnotized to love eating healthy and exercising. I wanted to hypnotize away my love of yummy food. I felt like that is the only way I could ever stop eating the foods I love that are so bad for me (chocolate, pizza, ice cream, creamy pasta dishes, cheese, breadsticks – take your pick). But lately I have kind of been starting to change my thinking on my own. Unfortunately it hasn’t taken complete hold yet, but when I stop and think about it this is what comes to mind… To have the health and body that I want to have, I should eat as if I am stranded on an uninhabited island.

Now let me clarify – I don’t mean to starve myself into anorexia. But as I am trying to think of food as fuel versus my favorite hobby, it brings to mind the survivor type shows my family watches. Survivor, Survivorman, The Island, Dude You’re Screwed, Ultimate Alaska Survival, Naked & Afraid, Alone – to name a few. We LOVE our wilderness survival shows in our house. Often on these shows they struggle to find food, and without food they have no energy to build shelter, gather fire wood or walk themselves to civilization. I remember on one episode – I think it was Naked Castaway – the guy was finding small snails or limpets of some kind on a rock, eating them and saying how many calories were in each one (something ridiculously small like 15 calories) and how many he would have to eat to get enough nutrition. On the show Alone, the men were almost starving on rainy days they could not get out and find food. Catching a fish was the highlight of their stay and kept them strong for another day. One guy was busting his balls trying to catch a moose to eat. A moose! Like who would that fill up? Starving people, that is who. So when I want to graze out of boredom or gobble up some deliciousness for the fun of it, instead I need to think about how if I was on that island, and I’d had a banana for breakfast, a citrus & beet salad for lunch, and a chicken & shrimp skewer for dinner, that would totally be enough to keep me surviving and moving. I don’t have to eat three slices of pizza to survive. If I was stranded on an island there would be no pizza, I would be happy to find snails and a coconut. (yuck) But you get the drift. I don’t want to starve myself, and I don’t want to eat like I’m poor circa Hunger Games. I just want to retrain my body to become more realistic on what it actually needs to survive and function. I have let my food cravings dictate my life for far too long. Now my body needs to use fat stores for energy. And replacing junk food with nutrient rich foods makes me feel great after eating instead of tired and bloated. When I do “cheat” I need to eat smaller portions because I am not climbing trees, chopping logs, or hiking across glaciers to burn enough calories to justify eating like a lumber jack or a navy seal. I sit at a desk for most of the day. Instead of feeling deprived when I can’t have French Fries, and am getting sick of sweet potatoes and chicken, I need to remember if I was stranded on an island I would be ecstatic to have sweet potatoes or chicken, its more than most of those “survivors” get in a day. Give me some salmon, squash and an apple and I should be good. No one needs Ding Dongs or Cool Ranch Doritos to survive. I wonder how many chemicals are in that cool ranch powder flavoring anyway?

In America we have so many choices in food and drinks; we are used to it all at our finger tips. (And the commercials – damn you Olive Garden!) But if you really look next time you are at Grocery store, it is REDICULOUS! We have a hundred different kinds of breakfast cereal. We have three or more brand names of every sauce or condiment there is, plus an original and fat free version of each. We have thirteen different flavors of Ranch dressing. And the number of different flavors and brands of potato chips is out of this world. How many brands and styles of every stupid thing is there? Juices, Pop or Beer – don’t get me started. But if I was surviving in nature (where none of those foods exist because those are all contrived with chemicals in labs and factories) I would have basic choices of meats and vegetables and need to make my meals from those. I am learning to bring vegetables of all kinds into my daily menu and it feels good. The Whole30 program started me on this course and now it is my responsibility to keep going, to keep making good choices, and to retrain my brain myself, without being hypnotized.

Thirty-Seven

I am thirty-seven years old. I think I am at that age where you decide to take good care of yourself to stay healthy , young and active, or to let yourself get older. It is definitely a conscious choice that needs to be made. My husband already decided to let himself go years ago to be old and seems to have no desire to change his mind. Not me, I want to take the you healthier, more active route, but it is not easy. It is a constant life change that I need to practice.

I have weeks where thirty-seven doesn’t phase me. These weeks I do 3-5 workouts of 30-60 minutes each, and I feel great. I feel stronger and more athletic than I was in my twenties (although I am still not athletic). Some weeks I remember to take my vitamins and try to make healthy food choices. Although I am never perfect I certainly feel wiser than in my younger days. These are the weeks I feel like I am taking better care of myself than ever before. Even when I can’t see results on the scale, I feel better and younger inside. I forget my age. I swim or wrestle with my kids. I bounce on the trampoline. I dive off boats. Life is great.

Then there are the other weeks. Weeks where I drag and drag and drag. Getting to bed too late and ditching my early morning workouts for thirty more minutes of sleep or a drowsy bath instead. I forget to take my vitamins. I eat pizza, chocolate and Doritos to settle my cravings. My eyes grow heavy at my desk each afternoon from three to four; until I do the head bob and have to get up to walk around. I am desperate for a nap I never get when I get home at night. These are the weeks I feel my age. I am sleepy, my mind is not fresh or alert, I am sluggish, my eyes are droopy. I don’t have the energy to keep the housework or take the kids to the park. I only want to lounge around. I don’t like those weeks but am having one right now – coming off a vacation and my period, I haven’t exercised in 4 days – and today I am certainly feeling my age.

It just reminds me that I can never stop. Going forward I will always have to exercise and eat right to keep feeling good. Any breaks I take, just take me backward into sleepy despair. That is an exhausting thought.

Well, maybe next week…

Half-way There: My Journey to Stem Cell Donation

We are now one month away from my donor collection date, which is planned for May 7th. I’ve gone through all the information, the bazillion consent forms, and the medical tests and I feel ready.

A secondary benefit that is coming out of this process is that I am finding out how healthy I am. I think because I have Asthma and allergies, take two medications daily, and see the Chiropractor a few times a year, I felt unhealthy. My husband often teases me that I am falling apart (when I complain of some ailment or ache). But the truth is, I’m pretty healthy. My blood tests came back good. I’m disease-free. My sugar levels are all fine. (Thank God that Milk-Dud addiction didn’t cause Diabetes.) I’m not pregnant (no duh). My chest X-rays were clear. And my EKG is perfectly normal. So if nothing else, I’ve gotten multiple medical tests and a clean bill of health on someone else’s dime. The doctor that did my physical cleared me, and a doctor from UCSF, where the procedure takes place, called me to see if I had any questions. Although my NMDP coordinator didn’t say I had the official ‘all clear’, the doctor said I was cleared. Whoohoo! I would feel so bad if I was this girl’s one shot and wasn’t healthy enough to help.

Although they have not given me any specific diet to follow or do’s or don’t’s, I find myself trying to make healthier choices. I want my blood to be the best blood it can be for her, and for my body to recoup quickly. So I have been trying to get more iron in my diet, eating more red meat, kidney beans, greens, cream of wheat, and making sure I take my daily multi-vitamin. And even though I am not getting marrow removed from bone, my wacky brain has me drinking more milk and taking in more calcium – strong bones, strong bodies – Milk does a body good!
I was already trying to lose weight before this started, then kind of gave up for a bit when I went on my bacon cheeseburger bender; but now I am trying again and trying harder. Walking two miles on my lunch break, yoga, dieting, drinking more water, less soda, and avoiding alcohol all together. I’ve lost three pounds in a week and would like to lose another five before the procedure.

I am also totally over any nerves I had about the process. The NMDP put me in touch with a lady who donated a year ago so I could ask questions about her experience. She experienced headaches every day of the shots, but they went away one day after. And the machine broke down during her PBSC Collection, but it didn’t hurt or bother her in any way. She had a positive outlook on the whole thing and wished me luck. Facebook and Twitter have also been a huge help. I’ve been able to connect with a man on Twitter who was going through the process right now and he was kind enough to give me daily updates on how it was going and the symptoms he was experiencing. He didn’t have much pain at all until day 4 & 5. And when I announced what I was doing to my friends on Facebook, I got a record setting 50 likes and 22 comments – all wonderful, encouraging, praising comments. It made me feel so good. I’ve also had a number of friends express interest in possibly signing up on the registry themselves. So I am very happy to be sharing my story if it can possibly inspire someone else to volunteer, and they end up being a match to someone some day, and that saves another life. Then I’m making a difference in multiple lives. The thought makes me giddy and gives me warm-fuzzies.

So now I just wait, hope that I don’t catch a cold between now and then, and pray that everything goes well with the patient. I wonder if that family is sitting around wondering what I (the donor) is like as I am wondering what they are like? I am sure they are very worried about the process and the risks for their daughter, and if it will be successful. I sure hope it is. Once she starts her chemo that will kill off her immune system in prep for receiving my stem cells, it will be so dangerous. There would be an extremely high risk of death if I was to change my mind at the last minute after that process had started (or get too sick to do it). So I am praying to stay healthy, stay safe, and don’t let them down. I want God to send them peace of mind that I won’t change my mind. I’m in it to win it and I’m taking my vitamins.

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