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"healthy life"


Ideal weight; what does that mean?

It's Friday night. My son is busy with his friends in their fort they made for the sleepover, my husband is working super late, and I am sitting listening to music, drinking wine, and finally getting around to my next blog. If you have been reading my blogs, you know that I am working on my personal weight battle testimony. Well today, I decided to jump ahead to the current battle thanks in part to some of my clients.

Recently, I have shared with clients and friends about my current dilemma regarding my ideal weight. I say current, but it really has been ongoing for about a year. See, late last spring, I dropped down to my freshman year of high school weight. I never thought I would see that number again, so when I did, I thought, "If I can get this low, what is the lowest weight I can be?".  I didn't know it was happening at the time, but I also began to get sick. I felt that "just before a cold" feeling all the time. I also had a lymph node that remained swollen for over a month. And for the first time in my successful healthy lifestyle change, I started focusing on a number. The number became more important than anything else. I started making poor nutritional decisions: If I wanted to have wine, I would just eat veggies and hummus for dinner and drink wine. Or I would track my calories on My Fitness Pal and start working out multiple times a day so I could indulge in whatever I wanted. Quickly, I went from keeping my focus on my health, fitness and nutrients to focusing on numbers. I weighed myself obsessively (and still do) because I thought if I monitored it, I was immune to gaining weight.

All of that poor nutrition and wearing on my body started to reek havoc on my hormones. I even had a month where I missed a period and thought I was pregnant- I had every typical pregnancy symptom and was terrified! (I'm a mom of 1 and the idea of another, especially since he's 10, is a nightmare of mine.) I believe that the poor decision making coincided with some hormonal changes that were occurring and destroyed the healthy balance I had worked so hard to achieve.

I decided that I had to stop tracking calories and get back to a healthier food focus. I tried to stick to my tried and true methods only to feel disappointed when I saw the scale go UP!! I was eating better, getting better rest, and remaining active, but I was gaining! That sent me into a great obsession with the number on the scale, and I continued to make poor decisions when I felt frustrated with the situation. Well, about 5 pounds later, my husband and I started a cleanse. And the cleanse definitely helped with the hormones; however, it did not help with my food focus. During a cleanse you are required to keep foods out of your diet, so I became obsessed with what I couldn't have. I cleansed for a month and felt better physically and lost a couple pounds. For the first time, I felt like I was getting back to my healthier self. I still was struggling with fatigue and that feeling of getting sick, but things were looking up. But then....the holidays hit!  It was the holidays, so I was trying to be realistic and my mantra became, "Just maintain". Maintain was what I did.

Successfully making it to the other side of the holidays, I thought I was in the clear...I was wrong. Again, my eating was better, but my weight started to go up a couple more pounds. Even though I continue to get better about my nutrition, I struggling with my weight. I say I am struggling, but really, I am just 7-9 pounds higher than I had been. Since I cannot seem to control the scale, I started talking to people about my weight. I confided in my closest friends about gaining all that weight in a short time and asked them if they can tell. My bestie (who I can trust to break the worst news to me) gave me the most shocking answer of all. She said: "I don't notice any changes in your clothes or the way you look. And actually this summer, if you had lost any more weight, I was going to talk to you. You were getting too skinny." Now, my mom said that to me this past summer, but my bestie? She is about my height and I outweigh her by 20+ pounds. We are close to the same size in clothing, we just have different body shapes. I never expected that from her! It made me stop and really think- I've become mentally unhealthy. It's time to make a change in my head, not my body...I'll keep you up-to-date as I learn to love my body and not focus on the scale.

 You can't buy friendship like this!!



Failing does not equal failure

Sadly, becoming a US Marine did not alleviate my weight struggles. Leaving boot camp I was SKINNY, I could run like the wind, but I still was considered overweight by Marine Corps standards. Within a month of leaving boot camp, I gained the 7 pounds I lost in boot camp plus another 20 pounds!! I thought since I was "skinny", I could eat what I wanted. Of course, I didn't take into consideration that I was not living like I had in boot camp: I watched TV, slept late, played on my computer and found more time to be sedentary. By time I got to my training school, I was so overweight they put me on BCP, the Body Composition Program. On the days we did not have physical training (PT), I had to go to a "special" training group where we ran until our legs fell off. Actually, I ran 7 days a week, a minimum of 3 miles a day until I developed tendinitis in my knee from overuse. Medical put me on light duty which meant I wasn't allowed to run: That proved difficult when trying to lose weight. Honestly, in a few weeks time of running I was at the same weight at which I started boot camp, but continued to go to BCP.

The entire 4 years of serving in the Marine Corps, I never made it back down to my leaving boot camp weight. I yo-yo-ed my way through the entire 4 years. I was always cutting it close with body fat percentage and always knew I would just "be bigger". I remember one day a male Marine telling me that his friend would never be interested in me because I wasn't "the prettiest" person: Code for you are bigger and have too much acne. It was heart wrenching, but because I believed he was right I just agreed with him!!!!! WHAT?!?!?!? Thinking back, I am blown away by myself! However, all of the things this Marine was saying about me, I had said to myself for years. You're not pretty enough; you're not skinny enough; you're not athletic enough; you're too slow; you're not smart enough; you'll never be that good; you're just average at best; you're likeable, but not the kind of girl good looking guys date; you're the friend. All of these thoughts (and so many more negative ones) would cycle through my head constantly from 9 years old to this point when I was 20. His comment was nothing I hadn't heard before from me. Truth of the matter is I couldn't stand up for myself because I had no legs to stand on. I disliked myself more than he thought I was unattractive.

Here's a win for you young girls out there though: That friend of his and I ended up dating for years and almost got married. When I told my boyfriend at that time what his friend said, he was shocked! He couldn't believe his friend said that, and he really couldn't believe that I would believe I was so unattractive. So there are good guys out there, but before you go looking for one, make sure you believe you are valuable. I was fortunate that he was a good guy, I could have just as likely ended up with a guy like his friend reinforcing my negative thoughts.

It has been nearly a decade and a half since that conversation and I remember it like it was yesterday. I used to spend time beating myself up over not standing up for myself that day; but the truth of the matter is that if I do that, I am still treating myself negatively. We are all bogged down by the perceived failures in our daily lives. Our culture values success more than we value hard work, trying and improvement. I believe if we focus on the latter, we will be more successful in life. Look at all the things you have learned by trying and failing. You don't get better by being successful the first go around, you get better by trying and failing until you figure it out. If you don't fail you're not pushing your boundaries which means you cannot improve. And if you do fail, YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE! You failed, but you are not a failure. Those are two very different and distinct words. Get comfortable with failing without beating yourself up and assuming you're a failure.

Let me use strength training as a metaphor: If you want to strengthen your arms, you have to strength train. You will go to the gym and workout your arms using several different exercises. Each week you go, you have to increase the resistance. If you stay with the same five pound weights for 2 months, you didn't improve your strength- you maintained. You have to breakdown your muscle fibers so much that you fail at the movement by the end of the last rep. When you give your muscles the protein, rest, and recovery time, they will build back stronger and thicker- constantly improving.

The same concept applies to life: When you keep push your boundaries (upping the resistance), you will come to a point of failure. Then you will reflect, assess and reset (rest and recovery). When you do that, you will get a little closer to pushing through that boundary- constant improvement. You will be wiser and stronger for the next unforeseen obstacle too. Don't be afraid of failing, embrace the opportunity to learn.

All my best for a healthy, boundary pushing, learning week!
Me, my mother, and my big sister at Boot Camp Graduation
(My uniform was sized a the beginning of boot camp and I was swimming in it!)

Me and my big sis!

Me and both my big sisters! 
(I was probably about 15-20 pounds heavier than the previous photos)



Battle of the bulge begins

Now that I decided I would like to become a Marine musician, there was one thing standing in my way: my weight. When I enlisted in the Marine Corps (pre-9/11), the height and weight standards had not been adjusted since 1955. In order to enlist, you had to be under your weight max for your height. I had about 7-10 pounds to lose, and I was determined to do it!

My efforts for weight loss started with regular exercise. I ran a mountain in NJ with a friend’s dad on at least a weekly basis in addition to running with my recruiter a few days a week and playing soccer 1-2 times a week. I ran distances I had never ran before and never thought I could. I had a lot of support surrounding me and my efforts, and I probably lost about 2-3 pounds over a month. When that wasn’t doing what I needed it to do, my mom hired a personal trainer for me. (Thanks, Mom! You’re the best!) I went to him 2 days a week on top of everything else I was doing to lose weight. The trainer provided me a nutrition plan which consisted mostly of canned tuna and egg whites. It was a body builder’s nutrition plan for sure. I didn’t cut much weight, but I did get stronger and better at the events for what would become my Physical Fitness Test (PFT) in the Marine Corps. When the trainer’s nutrition plan and exercise regime didn’t do enough in my short time period, I ended up resorting to the cabbage soup diet. If you are not familiar with that diet, it goes something like this: 

1-      Make an obscenely large vat of cabbage soup (cabbage, tomatoes, broth, celery, and onions).
2-      Eat 2 bowls cabbage soup a day and drink water. You may have limited fruits and veggies, and few days in you are permitted to have lean protein too.
3-      Sit on the toilet for 7 days. With all of the fiber and water, you use the bathroom frequently. 

Not to anyone’s surprise, the cabbage soup diet didn’t get the weight off. So my mom took me to my long time family doctor to have my thyroid tested. I had been seeing Dr. C since I was 2, so he knew my history of “big-bones”. When I arrived at my appointment, he said that I looked like I was in the best shape I had ever been in. I explained what I was trying to do and the drastic measures I had taken so far without success. Once the blood work came back normal, Dr. C hesitantly prescribed a limited number of diet pills to help me reach my goal. Guess what: Diet pills don’t help shrink your bones! I lost a little more weight and I lost several more inches, but I still couldn’t make weight.

Finally, my recruiter submitted for a body fat waiver. Basically that meant that the Marine Corps would be OK with my weight not meeting the standards as long as I was less than 26% body fat or less. When I was measured, I think I came in at 22% and officially began my dream, turned mission, to become a US Marine. Regardless of the road ahead, on April 26, 1998, I proudly enlisted in the Marine Corps.



Just let me get off the phone! HS Part 4

My senior year of high school I knew where I wanted to go to college and applied for early admission. Of course, to be sure I had a place to attend school, I applied to and auditioned for several schools. I was going to college to become a professional musician and get a teaching credential (because the performance market for musicians is competitive and doesn’t always pay). If I hadn’t already shared, I played bassoon for many years. By December, I was offered a full music and academic scholarship to my top choice school, The Catholic University of America in Washington DC.  Life was on track. 

Flashback: The summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school my family took a vacation to Washington DC. While there, we visited Annapolis and the Naval Academy. I actually fell in love with the school immediately, but I couldn’t major in music. For me, that was a deal breaker so I never planned to apply. I did, however, decide to request information about NROTC.  (I swear this is coming to a point).

Fast forward: It was January of my senior year and I receive a phone call from a Naval ROTC recruiter while my boyfriend is over. I told him I was not interested so that I could get back to hanging out with my boyfriend, but this Marine Captain was a salesman. He kept pushing. I told him that I wouldn’t have time for NROTC because I had scholarships and soccer to keep up with. Being the salesman he was, he pushed to find out what types of scholarships. When I explained I had music and academic scholarships, his role changed from pushy salesman to excited, desperate salesman . He asked what the music scholarship was for. When I told him bassoon, I believe he put me on mute, did a cartwheel,  and broke out the champagne bottle (I'll never really know, but I'm pretty sure that's how that went down). When he turned off mute he asked if I had ever thought about joining the Marine Band. My favorite band to see perform was the President’s Own, but I was not at that professional level yet. So the conversations went like this:

Me: “Like the President’s Own?”
Capt: “The President’s Own is a little different, but the Marine Corps actually has 13 fleet bands you can join.”
Me: “I didn’t know that. But I am not interested. Like I said I have a full scholarship to my top choice school.”
Capt: “You could just take an audition.”
Me: “I’m really not interested.” (Bubble thought, “Will this guy just go away already?!”)
Capt: “Why aren’t you interested in even taking an audition?”
Me: “I am happy with where I am going to school. It was my top choice.”
Capt: “Did you know that if you join the Marine Corps, you can get free money for school?”
Me: “No.”
Capt: “How about I contact your local musicians’ recruiter, and you take an audition. She will come to your school or home for the audition. Once you audition, she can let you know if you qualify to apply for the program.”
Me: (Bubble thought, “I will do anything to get this guy off the phone and hang out with my boyfriend. Plus, I can audition in my sleep.”) “OK.”

After that, he got my information and the other recruiter called, we set up a date and I was back to doing really important stuff like hanging out with my boyfriend. 

Just a few days later was the audition; I rocked it. I played everything they asked and then some. The recruiter offered for me to enlist with the musician’s contract. I told them I would think about it and contact them later in the week. 

I vividly remember going home that night and my mom was making dinner. She asked how it went. I told her that they want me to join. And my mom said, “I think you would be nuts to not join!” I was caught off guard a little. I knew she supported the military (my sister had just joined the Navy), but I didn’t think she would support it over college. She told me that I could still get those scholarships in 4 years, PLUS, I would have the Montgomery GI Bill to help me get through my daily living expenses. She also said. “You are 18 years old, you will get paid to play your bassoon, and get to travel the world. I would go for it if I was you.” So I decided to do it. 

Now would begin a true struggle with my weight. The Marine Corps has tight height weight standards and I was “big-boned” or “athletic”. It was an uphill battle I did not anticipate. I will post all of that journey next week. Until then, keep moving!



Chiropractic is not just for back pain

Chiropractic Care = Active Life

When I was in high school, I worked for a chiropractor who swore I would grow up and become one too. His basis for thinking this was that he, too, wanted to be a music major like I was planning, and he was a goalie for hockey and I was a goalie for soccer. That was it, no honest foundation for believing in it; just enough similarities to convince him it could be true. Now that I’m in the wellness industry, I reflect back on those conversations and see how close he was to reality. And the truth of the matter is I haven’t grown up yet, so there is always a chance (small chance, but a chance) that I will be a chiropractor.
Although the odds are not good I will become a chiropractor, I believe whole heartedly in the benefits of chiropractic care due to my experience working for one and using one in recent years. When you’re young, you don’t see the benefits of what good things you have going for you, so I didn’t appreciate it as much as I do now. 

Back in 2011 I began seeing Dr. Jason at Active Posture Chiropractic because my knee was perpetually sore and inflamed. It was, and still is, a nagging overuse injury combined with arthritis. When I started seeing Dr. Jason, I was hoping I could continue my new-found active lifestyle without having surgery or the typical “stay off the knee and rest” response from most physicians. Not to say that rest is not a reasonable response; sometimes that’s exactly what we need. But like I have admitted before, I am not always smart and rest or any version of it was not really an option in my mind. Dr. Jason and his top-notch holistic chiropractic approach proved to be extremely helpful. We worked together religiously for about a year to treat not only my knee, but my spine, hips, and shoulders as well. Thanks to his treatment, I maintained my insanely active, 7-day-a-week workout lifestyle. After that year, my finances controlled my treatment or lack thereof. I saw Dr. Jason, but only on occasion as funds would allow. While I was going through that time of minimal treatment, I felt pretty good. I thought I was operating close to 100% most times without the chiropractic care. I had actually convinced myself that chiropractic was a “nice-to-have” rather than a necessity. I spent a good 8 months with minimal chiropractic care and finally returned to a regular schedule after I was rear-ended in April. I knew Dr. Jason was my fastest path to a healthy body which is a bit of a necessity in my profession. Since that time, I have seen Dr. Jason at least once a week. With this round of treatment came light bulb of insight- Chiropractic is not optional for an active person! He knows my body is going to be a wreck when I arrive due to my daily trashing of soccer, Tabata, high intensity interval training, and running- oh and not to mention training my clients and teaching group exercise. He knows that he is going from the feet and ankles to the knees to the hips and up the spine and shoulders. Most of my joints have some form subluxation, and Dr. Jason adjusts all of them until next time.  He never asks me to stop being active, although he does encourage more rest days. In fact, he shares with his patients that an active lifestyle will assist in recovery from many ailments. Of course he doesn’t expect all of his patients to be as insane and obsessive as me, but he does want them moving.

Since returning to chiropractic, I have become especially in tune with the subluxations in my body. I have one exercise I love because it pushes my boundaries, but I only do it on a day I know I will be adjusted within 24 hours.  Otherwise, I don’t do it because it will always knock a rib out of its proper place. I also feel subluxations when I am lifting weights. I could be performing chest flys and feel like my shoulders are too weak to support the weight I normally use, which now I know indicates my shoulders are out of alignment.
The teachings and reminders from my chiropractor continue open my eyes on how to stay smart with the movement of my body. Staying smart with my movements allows me to live a more active lifestyle. For my less intelligent moments or just life happening my chiropractor is there to save the day!