Good & Bad News, Obesity, and Plans for Change

After all the imaging – several ultrasounds and an MRI, I know more about how well I am than I do with what is wrong with me. Specifically, I need to recognize and feel blessed that my bones and ligaments are in good shape, and now I know my veins are in great shape too.

My foot and leg specialist examined the MRI and told me that my bones were good; the diffused swelling was probably vascular. The vascular specialist did what most specialists do upon first meeting – they look at the problem area, and prescribe imaging. He said he felt he knew what it was. According to what he saw – reddish discoloration, swelling, etc, I had poor veins that were allowing too much blood to sit in my legs and this could be fixed with non-invasive procedures. I brought up my weight and that my primary doctor thought it could be the culprit and he told me that he could not conclude that my weight affected my leg and caused the issues. I was worried about what poor veins meant at the ripe age of 29.

Then, I got a call a week after imaging, and his answer was totally different. He said my detailed ultrasound showed that my veins were in great health. He assured me I got good genes and at the age of 29, I didn’t need to worry about my veins for a long time. Except, that meant I was ruling something else out and still had no answers. He then told me, go ahead and lose some weight because it could be the combination of a desk job and being obese.

I think those words were as detrimental as if he had told me it was a vein issue. While I am thankful that I have healthy veins, I know that if I needed a procedure done it would be quick and non-invasive. But what he told me? That is the scourge of my existence. The fact that I want to lose weight and haven’t lost much even with effort. It means that I’m finally fat to the point it’s causing extreme stress on my body and I have to do something ASAP. It means that on top of eating better, I need to be stricter and follow a fitness regimen. And I loathe the physical activity part more than watching what I eat.

You see, being fat, more specifically, morbidly obese, and being so most of your life, it’s not a 20 or even 50 pound goal. Every time I hit the gym, I’m working and stressing my body in a mass that is more than half what it ideally should weigh. I’m working on positivity, and on making this journey healthy because the other part of me just wants to use any means necessary. I can’t let that little voice overcome the big voice I’ve created that says I can positively change not desperately change.

I’d like to work out for 45 minutes to an hour at least three times a week, hopefully going up to four.

I’d like to pick 2 days of the week to work on meal planning and keeping on track food-wise. 

I’d like encouraging words, not threats, from people around me. Things like, “I believe in you, let me know how I can support you.” Not things like, “You know, if you don’t lose the weight you’re going to get worse” Or things like, “How come ______?”

Onward.

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Things I’m Working on as I Ease into 30

Life moves so quickly with each passing year. It feels crazy to think that 30 quickly approaches. I can’t say I’ve done anything dramatic to prepare, but I feel good about what I’ve prepped for this new decade of life.

1. Letting go of social pressures about fertility and motherhood

I’m starting with a big one. Entering my 30’s means coming to terms that I only have about a decade left to conceive. Did you know a pregnancy at age 35+ is a “geriatric pregnancy”? Ha! So I have 5 years before my womb is a geezer. (Thankfully, this term is being replaced with “advanced maternal age”) I’m letting go by fully acknowledging my desire for motherhood. That sounds counterproductive, but to me, it’s an empowering move to note that I WANT to nurture little ones. Be it from my womb, another woman’s womb through fostering/adoption, or just being an even more invested auntie/mentor and encouraging little ones to feel loved and do their best in this world. Even if I don’t have the chance to be called “Mom” I can nurture. And I will.

2. Start investing in skin care and quality goods

In my twenties I explored a lot of fashion and makeup. My emphasis was on how I wanted to present myself to the world around me. It was about finding what made me feel my best and finding my own style. I feel like I’ve found a great balance between comfort and style that reflects me, and it’s time to settle into a better skin care routine for self care AND the changes my body will make in this decade. A couple gray hairs have magically sprouted, and my undereyes aren’t looking as peppy as they did in my college years. It’s time to reinvest in quality products. It also goes with the Konmari method I’ve tried to implement and with minimizing “stuff” to maximize quality of life.

3. Catch more Zzzz’s

I was not kind to myself in my mid twenties. Between dating and trying to tackle too much, I averaged about 4-5 hours of rest a night. I’ve worked my way up to 6.5, but ideally, I’d like to reach 7-7.5 and at least try for 8 hours twice a week.

4. Tackle weight and eating. Once again.

I’m tired of having to wonder and hear that some health issues may be weight related. I accept that they play a part in my current health issues, so I want to either gain health from losing or identify that it wasn’t a factor if that’s so. I know how to eat right and understand that I should be exercising. Now it’s up to me to put it to practice and really strive for results.

5. Dream/seek/pursue the friendships and connections I want

Remember this post I wrote on friendships not usually lasting seven year’s time? I’m really feeling this currently. I’ve got a few solid friendships that have been steady and true and have resisted the test of time. However, I’ve noticed a few friends I clung to fiercely in my 20’s were loyalties that really provided me no merit or were quite superficial even though we enjoyed each other’s company. I also felt quite lonely the past 5 years with most all of my closest friends moving away. I understand now that I need more than a socializing partner in crime. I need people who are driven. I need people who are supportive. I need people who encourage and can mentor me in my faith. And I need to also be that person to others. More substance. More investment. More meaningful relationships.

6. Get rid of “just” and limit my “sorry” in the business communication

As a feminist, I believe in equal standing with my male counterparts. It is my duty to present myself as so. In the past I’ve used phrases like “I just wanted to” that lighten my voice and representation of self among my male peers. It’s important to me to be more deliberate in speech and have better command of my presence in a meeting/email and speak with confidence in my skills. Because I am more deliberate, I want to also save my apologies for instances that truly require them – not as a preface or for good measure. I’m still working on rephrasing but I mindfully ask myself if something really warrants an apology or if I can actually single out a miscommunication/issue – which is the better way of handling it anyway.

Before: “Sorry for the confusion.” Now: “It seems like there was a misunderstanding. Let’s discuss X and resolve it.”

 7. Truly seek out to be less of a church attender and more of a part of a church family

Leaving the home church of my youth was hard and making new connections has been harder. I really need to work on building relationships with people. I miss the smaller church feel of knowing everyone but I love the opportunities and teaching here.

8. Find balance in family time and pursuing my goals and self identity.

I don’t think this is hard for everyone but this is really hard for me. My immediate family is close knit and we are there for each other. Period. But, they often ask a lot of me, or I take on too much and forget my needs and to have time for myself and my goals. I’ve got to remember it’s not all on me and that it’s okay to say no when I need to.

9. Asking “What’s Next?” in my career, relationship, etc.

This is also a hard one for me. Yes, I should embrace what I have now, but yes, I should constantly strive towards better and best. I’m not settling, I’m seeking out, setting up, and carrying out plans for my future.

10. Initiate hard conversations. Be direct. Take calculated risks. 

I’m an internalizer. I’ve always been one. When someone hurts me or withholds information, I take it as a personal offense but hardly address it unless I need to. But, a sign of maturity is dissolving assumptions and miscommunications, and I need to practice that. Recently, I noticed that a very close friend and I hadn’t been speaking. She lives many states away and was also a bit MIA on the social media scene, didn’t send me a Christmas card like she had every year before, etc. So I internalized and wondered if she was “ghosting me” (ugh, I know, I hate that term too) and wanted to slowly get rid of me by losing all interaction. Our brains take us to awful places when we allow them to assume. I confronted her respectfully and she admitted there was a lot going on and it had nothing to do with our friendship but all to do with life situations, and that was so refreshing and amazing because now I’m able to get an instant answer and offer her my support in her efforts.

I also know that when I’m intimidated by something, I tend to want to avoid it. Again, that’s not how adulting works. So, I have to be ready to ask the questions I need to and take the risks I need to, with as much research as I can beforehand.

Here we go! Less than a month! Thirty, I’m ready!

Annual Spending Recap and 2018 Forecast

I printed out my 2016 and 2017 spending summary from the credit card I primarily use and did some research on my spending habits. Some things surprised me and other things didn’t.

TL;DR: I spent more and saved more.

I spent more. There were some big ticket items that help account for this. I got four brand new tires, had a costly auto service, and bought a new overpriced (but much needed!) laptop. I also decided with minimizing that investing in things is worthwhile so even if I haven’t consumed more items in total, I am purchasing better quality items for makeup and skincare. I’m using a $50 moisturizer now. Who am I. Oh yeah, a nearly 30 year old who needs to care a little more about aging than before. 😉 I do see some frivolous spending in the first half when I was Lularoe crazy though. I also got hung up on curated styles and other people’s capsule wardrobes and got a few basics that didn’t work for me. That won’t be happening this year. One other thing I noted was that in previous years, I was decorating my apartment and buying a lot of second hand items from sale sites that required exact change and cash only. Since I worked on finalizing my room in 2017, I did much less impulse shopping and didn’t withdraw quick cash for spending so I could track better.

I spent more on vacations this year but I didn’t even do a long distance/extended trip. I learned that multiple small trips end up costing more and you don’t feel as fulfilled/restful after weekend type trips. The time with friends was more than worth it though. Ideally, with an increase in vacay time this year, I’d like to do a longer restful trip and a shorter fun and full frills trip.

I saved more money. My savings account grew more this year than last year although there’s generous room for improvement. Even though I spent more on my credit card, I isolated it to one card and didn’t use my debit card hardly ever, or petty cash. So yes, technically I spent more on my primary credit card, but that’s because it’s the sole card I use and therefore track better.

I spent less on merchandise. Some of my simplifying and minimizing has paid off. I didn’t set a foot into a mall this holiday season to shop for gifts and deals. I haven’t impulse-bought clothes in large amounts. I don’t search out trinkets. I don’t blind buy makeup and skincare like I used to.

I spent more in medical/health/wellness. This was a struggle for me. I’ve been AWFUL at taking care of myself because I hate that this category is so costly…but as my brother lovingly reminded me…it’s better to go in for a routine oil change and not let things slide where it starts to affect other things and becomes costly to fix. I met my deductible in November for the first time in years. I figure if I might need expensive procedures done I might as well meet it earlier in the year and plan on saving for it and above it.

I spent significantly more on dining out. This really surprised me. I couldn’t figure out what made this category inflate so much. I don’t usually get fast food. I bring my lunch 95% of the time. Then it hit me. All those weekends I went over and helped my brother and watched the baby? I almost always bought lunch for the three of us, and sometimes needed a coffee or dinner for me on the way home. My boyfriend and I also take turns paying or go dutch for the most part, so when I do spend, it’s for more sit down type places. I don’t expect or rely on him to pay, although I full appreciate it when he does. We’re not really fast food people when we go out to eat. I usually made food Monday and every other Wednesday, the days we hang out, but I also have art with my friend in hospice on Mondays and between the emotions there and it being dinner time by the time we meet, we’ve gone out more. Aha. It’s adding up.

2018 Financial Forecast:

  • Make monthly financial goals
  • Itemize monthly spending so I can budget better since months fluctuate
  • Be more active and mindful reviewing my retirement and investments
  • Set a specific amount aside towards a new car fund (Goal: Downpayment in 2 yrs)
  • Rework some income into nontaxable savings. An FSA health account. Putting a higher percentage into retirement. Doing more research on investing.
  • Work on being less trigger happy on Amazon. Especially cheap e-books!
  • Allow myself to eat out more -IF- I can fit it to my food plan and it saves me enough in groceries/specialty food and stress. Sometimes time and stress of cooking factor into it.
  • Research big ticket items I’ll need to save for in the next 5, 10 years, and tuck away some for weddings – either for attending and gifting or maybe down the road my own! My cousin is engaged and the wedding is cross country.  Eurpope. Adoption. Possible home ownership…even if it’s a mobile home/tiny house.

Bye, 2017. Hello 2018.

2017 was an uncertain beast with a few highs and lots of lows. Bye. Glad you’re gone.

The year gave us trouble from the very start until the very end. My aunt, the matriarch of my mom’s side, fell ill and the cold the lingered much longer than anticipated. Given that she is mid seventies, lives alone, and is hours away, my mom and I decided to visit a couple days to brighten her spirits and care for her any way we could. We left Friday and had a great time with her. She was definitely getting better, but hadn’t ever dealt with so much congestion. On Sunday, New Years Eve, we packed up and drove back to town.

On the way home, we got a call that my brother was feeling some pain near his belly button. We thought it might be something gallbladder related. He said he’d go to urgent care and get it sorted. Urgent care told him go to the ER, so they ended up there. He asked if my mom and I could come down and bring food for my SIL and nephew since the wait was long. I just drove 5.5 hours. We got into town around 4:45, grabbed gas and food, and quickly ate and made food to bring to them.

No joke, the ER was packed. There was maybe *A* spare chair and we were warned to wear masks as people were quite ill inside. We gave my SIL food, grabbed my nephew, and spent most of the night in the hospital waiting area entertaining a 15 month old. After an hour, we became “those people.” Kai was not about that sitting still life and we figured it was better he was ambulatory rather than vocally shrieking so we chased him around, let him climb the chairs, and carried him around. Around 10:50, my brother and SIL finally appeared. He didn’t have gallbladder issues: he had a hernia from the appendix removal he had years ago! Grrrrreeeat. On the bright side, his gallbladder was good and no emergency surgery was needed. On the bad side, they told him no heavy lifting including his son, and that surgery still might be on the table. Since he still has a concussion, that comes with risks. So, we wait and pray in the meantime.

My mom and I got home in time to watch the ball drop and I sipped a smidgen of wine and excitedly welcomed 2018. Phew. I can only hope for brighter days for me and my family.

My resolution this year is three small but powerful phrases borrowed from Athena International:

“Live Authentically.
Learn Constantly.
Advocate Fiercely.”

Live Authentically: Being free to be me. Owning messes, admitting flaws, embracing my good qualities and areas of growth. Not allowing other’s opinions to pollute my outlook of self and self worth. Understanding that my voice resonates and has the power to do good or harm and it is worth speaking up when there is injustice or I am not represented correctly.

Learn Constantly: Wanting to know more and desiring new experiences so that I can improve my outlook, myself, and how I see the world around me. Enlightening my thoughts so that I can be more knowledgeable, wise, well rounded, and ask more questions and generate more curiosity. Being open, not ignorant or cautious, while understanding my intrinsic values and morals.

Advocate Fiercely: Continue contributing my efforts towards awareness and funds raising for foster youth in my area. Be respectful but vocal of what is important to me and be a voice for the helpless. Be more knowledgeable in how politics impact daily life not just for me, but for my fellow people. Dispel negativity, help shed light where I can, and lift others up so they can also be fierce and empowered.