A Host of Health Hullabaloo

June begins Month #6 of 2019’s getting our s*** together New Year.

I wish I had better news for you, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Getting our s*** together took a back seat to getting my physical health — and associated sanity — back on track.

I think I went to see a doctor once a week for two months. It was exhausting.

My biggest scare happened the last week of April, when a large, painful lump appeared protruding at the base of my throat.

Two doctor’s appointments, three vials of blood and a sonogram later, and we discovered fluid-filled nodules on my thyroid. Words like “cyst,” “cancer” and “biopsy” were flung about by my primary care physician and the radiology tech.

Eep.

Thankfully, the nodules deflated on their own before my scheduled ENT appointment. The ENT decided that — since they’d shrunk and he saw no solid masses in my sonogram — I didn’t have to have a biopsy.

Hallelujah.

Fluid-filled nodules rarely become solid masses, and solid masses rarely become cancer. However, the ENT said that if the nodules constantly flare and cause constant pain, he’d recommend REMOVING MY THYROID.

No.

I’m keeping that sucker. Stand down, cysts. Stand. Down.

Turns out, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis runs in my family. Another chronic something to add to the chronic list of chronic nonsense in my new normal. (An update on the chronic back pain to come.)

I just sighed heavily.

Filters

Still rocking accident grams.

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Finances

I don’t even know what a retirement account is anymore.

Fitness

Considering I hurt myself doing the most minuscule of movements, I’m giving up on this one. I’m going to sleep in, read books in the evening and enjoy my rolls. I weigh 140 pounds of no-longer-gives-a.

Food

Here’s a win.

No more takeout two or three nights a week. My husband and I cook dinner at home nearly every night. At least four nights a week. Another night is leftovers. Two other nights consist of what a Junior League friend of mine coined as “Snack Dinner” where we fend for ourselves (aka sandwiches).

Here’s an ongoing loss.

My toddler eats six things. “Cackers,” yogurt, Annie’s bunny-shaped macaroni and cheese (Not any other kind of macaroni and cheese. Don’t come at him with some tractor-shaped crap. Only bunnies.), peanut butter sandwiches, “nanas” and toddler pouches.

I see toddlers eating salad on Instagram.

How?

How do you do it?

If you approach my toddler with anything other than those six things, he loses it. We prepare a plethora of different types of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner — and my kid won’t eat any of it.

He doesn’t even eat chicken nuggets.

CHICKEN NUGGETS!

My baby-food baby used to eat soft carrots, mushy peas, blueberries and oatmeal. No more. Last week, I made him a colorful fruit salad of watermelon, blueberries and strawberries for dinner. It was practically dessert. Straight up trash, according to him.

Actual dessert? He’ll eat that. “Coocoos” (cookies), cake, ice cream, chocolate. Loves it.

I guess that’s seven things. I’ll let you know if he deems it necessary to ever eat eight things.

I ate canned beets as a child. They were terrible. But I ate them. Because I was fed them, and you don’t not eat at grandma’s house.

Jeez. This kid.

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Enjoying chocolate “coocoos.”

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

I joined Junior League of Wichita in 2016, and my favorite event of the year is here: Trash Bag Handbag.

Organized by the League’s Child Advocacy Committee during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Trash Bag Handbag aims to raise awareness for children suffering from abuse and neglect in our community and children in out of home placements.

OUTOFHOME

Starting Monday, April 8, League members swap out handbags, purses, backpacks and totes with… trash bags.

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Why?

Often when children are removed from a home and placed in police protective custody, they don’t have time to pack a bag. They might not have a bag. Instead, their belongings are shoved into a flimsy plastic bag, or a trash bag. Trash Bag Handbag’s goal is to raise awareness about this issue and funding for bags.

Real bags.

Donations go to ICT SOS in creating fresh start bags, which include clothing, hygiene items, gift cards and comfort items. Fresh start bags can go to any of ICT SOS’s partners to help children.

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Helping us in our endeavor to raise awareness this year are eight community leaders: Annette Lawless, Anchor/Reporter for KAKE News; Claudia Amaro, AB&C Bilingual Resources, LLC; Judge Kevin Smith, Sedgwick County District Court Judge; Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacey Cruse, 4th District; Susan Estes, Junior League Sustainer; Susan Humphries, Kansas State Representative; and Vendla Smith, Owner/Director Zinta Inspired Language. 

Junior League of Wichita Major Fundraisers

We are an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Our focus area is child abuse prevention, intervention and awareness. Much of our volunteering and fundraising goes to supporting that mission and combatting child abuse and neglect.

Holiday Galleria, an annual shopping event held at Century II in Wichita, is our first major event of the year. Net proceeds support the League’s mission. The event has contributed more than $5.8 million and more than $44 million in the form of volunteer hours to the Wichita community.

SINCE2016

Kitchen Tours, an annual home touring event, is our final major event of the year. Net proceeds also go to supporting the League’s mission. During Kitchen Tours, homeowners across Wichita open their doors to showcase their historic kitchens, remodels, local businesses and more. This year, we’re strolling around Wichita’s College Hill neighborhood to tour some of the city’s oldest and most interesting homes.

Our Projects

The League decides on one major project in our focus area to dedicate fundraising and volunteer efforts each year. Sometimes projects last multiple years.

Most recently, the League has partnered with and committed $150,000 to the Wichita’s Children’s Home for a period of three years. Our goals are to help young moms through mentorship, assistance with secondary education opportunities and by stocking the BabyMobile, a van that delivers critical self-care items to young parents transitioning to independent living.

You can help stock the BabyMobile and the Wichita Children’s Home by donating items on their wishlist.

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How You Can Help

During Trash Bag Handbag April 8-12, swap our your usual bag for a sack. We use grocery store-sized blue sacks, but any old sack will do.

Engage people in conversation about why you’re carrying your wallet, phone, gym clothes, lunch, etc. in a sack instead of a bag and talk about what the League and our ambassadors are doing to help children in the Wichita community.

Can’t commit to the bag? Don’t worry. We get it. Wear blue, donate and encourage others to do so as well.

More than fundraising, though, we want to raise awareness about the issue of child abuse in our community. Yes, the funds are needed. Fresh start bags are needed. More, Kansas needs more mentors for children, more CASA volunteers and more foster parents to fill the gap between caring homes and children in need.

Interested?

Disclaimer: Ambassador Judge Kevin Smith is not raising funds. He is an advocate for children in our community and will be a voice for the event.

Alone Moments

Being alone in your house when you’re a parent is… indescribably amazing.

The silence. The stillness. Not being touched. No one’s talking or fussing. Even the mess doesn’t cry out when you’re alone.

It’s just so damn peaceful.

Today, my husband took our son out of the house for a daddy-and-son playdate for two hours and left me alone.

In the house. 

For two hours.

Neither of us is ever alone in the house.

This house is rarely silent, and it’s never still. There’s constant movement. There’s always talking or fussing. The mess is chaotic as it gets made, and cleaned up, and remade, and left for tomorrow.

The cycle isn’t terrible — but it certainly isn’t peaceful.

Unscripted alone moments are rare. Sure, when I drive to and from work, I’m alone in my car — but that’s not a moment. When I’m rushing through a seven-minute shower, I’m alone — but that’s not a moment. When I’m running errands or grocery shopping, I’m alone (with other people) — and those are not moments.

True alone moments are when you don’t have to think about what happened or what’s next or what’s happening now. When your body can take a break from doing, and your brain can take a break from considering.

Thought and action are natural during alone moments. No reason. No consequence.

Just nothing.

I showered, exfoliated, used moisturizer. I let my hair air dry. I ate apple slices with peanut butter without little bites taken out of the best parts.

how toddlers eat apple slices

Finding — and obtaining — truly alone moments as a parent feels impossible, and I can’t remember being alone for any amount of time when I felt I could allow my brain to turn off and my body to relax its tension.

And my kid is 2.

We’re both overdue, and I plan to pay that amazing man back for those two hours with two of his own.

BABR: January Update

January was the single. longest. month. ever. Yesterday was January 74. My New Year’s Resolutions for finances, fitness, food and house should be complete since it’s already 2020.

What happened during the longest month ever?

My son played with penguins at the Sedgwick County Zoo. So friggin cute.

Fetched a stick. With his mouth. Because that’s what the dog does.

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And turned 2. He’s playing with the packing paper in his birthday present from Kiwi&Co. The actual present was trash as far as he was concerned.

New Year’s Update: Filters

I open Instagram Stories on accident a lot. Fun filters FTW.

New Year’s Update: Finances

False start. Planning to hot wire this car in February. (Side note: Got the actual car fixed, so we have at least SOME of our s*** together already.)

New Year’s Update: Fitness 

Like every red-blooded American woman in January, I said 2019 is going to be THE YEAR I get back into shape.

Yeeaaaahhhh. Right.

I joined Title Boxing Club in 2018 to slough off pesky baby weight — which came back like a flood when I stopped breastfeeding, rude. High energy. Hitting. Kicking. Skipping… burpees. Sweat rolling down my face and pooling on the mat. Exhilarating.

I’ve never been a fan of cardio, but I loved. boxing. And it was so good for my back.

Until it started acting up again. Until I got busy. Until I couldn’t swing 5:15 a.m. classes because I was so damn tired and in too much pain.

My goal for 2019 isn’t to get back into shape. I want to be pain-free. Fitness is absolutely a part of my road to recovery — I just have to find the right fitness.

I’m testing some options.

Kundalini yoga, which blends chanting, meditation and breath work with familiar yoga poses. The theory behind it is a little hocus pocus, but it’s the only yoga I can do. Most of the work can be done lying down or in a position that doesn’t challenge my back. Think bridge pose or holding a lunge for a long time and “breathing through the eyes.” Whatever, it’s nice.

Thirty-minute fitness classes at work on Tuesdays and Thursdays (which I’ve been proscribed from this week by my physical therapist because they’re hurting me), blending a dash of cardio with strength training and core. Combine these with Popsugar’s Active app workouts, and I’ve got 15-30 minutes scheduled every day.

My physical therapy stretches and abdominal work. The stretches relieve inflammation in my nerves, and the ab work teaches my transverse muscles — the deep abs that got all stretched and destroyed during pregnancy — to activate when I move. After 10 reps, my core is exhausted, but it’s not a workout.

I did pretty well with my fitness resolution for about two-and-a-half weeks. Now, I’m faltering.

False start? More like a stall. Hey, the Jeep needs new tires, too.

New Year’s Update: Food

I lost six pounds between Thanksgiving and my son’s birthday using Noom — counting calories, daily weigh-ins, little challenges. But I was over it. I cancelled that membership (theme?) and gained four pounds back just three weeks later.

Hey, when it’s Christmas break, and you have all the time in the world to plan your meals, go grocery shopping and prep smoothies — well, you’re for sure going to keep that up when you go back to work.

Ha, no.

Fitbit is free, so I’m going to try to use it like Noom — even though it’s not as good, and I don’t really want to.

New Year’s Update: House

It’s been vacuumed.

New Year’s Update: Time

January was 74 days long, and I still don’t have a second of time until 10 p.m. when I write blogs and don’t shower.

 

Noom Weight Loss App: A Review

noom weight loss app review header

I signed up for a 14-day trial, and then paid for a two-month subscription of Noom, in November 2018. My eight-week program was scheduled to end Jan. 17, 2019, so I cancelled it.

Let’s Rory Gilmore this, and look at Noom’s pros and cons.

Pro: Counting calories worked (for me), and Noom’s system was really good. 

Turns out, calculating how many calories the foods I choose to consume contain prevents me from over-over indulging, reduces my portion size and makes me question whether or not I really need a bowl of ice cream after dinner.

Who knew?

Counting calories helped me lose weight — even if I didn’t stay within the cheetah-fast weight loss of 1,200 calories a day. (They also have rabbit-fast and tortoise-fast, which is a misnomer.)

I’ve tried to “food journal” in the past. Pen and paper, habit trackers, Fitbit — all were pretty terrible because I had to look up how many calories were in a thing and write it down or enter it in. Even Fitbit’s food tracker didn’t have basic stuff (when I tried it, to be fair). For example, Fitbit knows how many calories are in a McDonald’s Big Mac. I don’t need to know that because I’m not going to eat a McDonald’s Big Mac. Hork. I was eating homemade tomato soup with four main ingredients.

Prior to Noom, to count calories, I had to do math.

No.

Noom made it SO easy to put together custom dishes, calculate calories and enter meals. They did all the math.

The only thing I had to Google was how many calories were in an “IPA beer” because no way was it as high as they said.

I was right.

Con: Counting calories is still a time-consuming effort no matter how easy Noom made it. 

Noom promised I could spend 10 minutes a day using the app and lose weight — not counting the time needed to meal plan, prep, cook homemade meals and work out.

Here’s the thing.

I don’t have 10 minutes a day. Don’t believe me? Right now, I chose to write this blog — I know — instead of showering.

And, y’all, I smell.

Bad.

My workday is billable. Eight hours of which I account for every minute.

My hometime is hectic. Sixteen hours where I account for every minute of whatever my toddler’s trying to destroy/trying to jump off/trying to eat. Hometime, of course, includes cleaning, cooking, living, wifing and (not)eight hours of sleep. Throw in the 15 minutes I spend “getting ready” for my day, and I couldn’t spare 10 minutes to learn a lesson and track my meals in Noom.

I mean, I did, but by Week 7, I was OVER it.

Pro: No food was off-limits. I could eat anything I wanted.

As long as I didn’t exceed my calorie goal, I was golden.

Let’s be honest, I was rarely golden. Often bronzed.

Noom encouraged me to eat Green foods — fresh fruits and vegetables and other non-calorie-dense foods — but it didn’t ask me to stop eating foods it classified as Yellow and Red. The system was easy to understand and work within.

Plus, it does all the math for you.

Con: Some foods were surprisingly considered Yellow or Red. 

Chia seeds are stupid healthy. Harvard says so. They’re the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids — those are the good ones — and a complete protein. Plus, when you mix them in a smoothie, it makes the smoothie creamier and thicker without adding dairy.

This is a win-win for me.

Except, chia seeds are a Red food. TF, right? Upon further examination, all nuts and seeds are considered red foods because they’re calorie-dense. (Calorie dense foods pack a lot of calories in a little package, so you feel less full after eating them.) My Red food ratio was always over because I put two tablespoons of chia seeds in my morning smoothie.

It definitely wasn’t because of that “IPA beer”…

Pro: Noom focused on food but didn’t forget about all the other s*** that helps with weight loss. 

Exercise. Hormones. Sleep. Science.

Counting calories and making better food choices are the foundation of the Noom weight loss app. After laying that foundation, Noom introduced a slew of other building blocks to help with weight loss.

Calories in = weight gain. Calories out = weight loss. It’s all about the ratios, and Noom added half the calories you lost in a workout to your total daily calorie intake.

The app has an entire week on the hormones working when you’re hungry, digesting and storing or burning calories — and why. (Hands down, my favorite week. What do I remember from high school biology? “The mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell.”)

They also covered sleep, but I’m a mom, so hahahahahahahahahahaha.

Ha.

Con: I can’t remember all this s***. 

I used up all of my study potential in college, and then I killed a number of brain cells — specifically memory cells — in the process of creating and birthing a life.

I’m dumb now.

Ask me what Noom said about sleep.

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Ha.

Pro: Coaches and support groups work for some people…

Having a coach and support team might help you change your lifestyle and lose weight. I’m sure there’s research on this — not that I could find it. A Google search turned up several results on how to become or find a weight loss coach. Not quite what I was after.

Weight Watchers works for some people, so it’s a whole thing. I don’t know.

Con: …but not for me. 

Motivational support groups and high-energy health instructors are… not my thing. Thinking positive thoughts does not make me more positive. Writing down the people and things I’m grateful for doesn’t improve my mood. I’m still grateful for them, but that concept just doesn’t work for me.

I think it’s called visualization, and I’m going to need a fiction book to make that work.

Plus, at the end of a long day, there’s still dinner to make and a toddler to entertain and laundry to (not)do. I would ignore notifications from my Goal Specialist for daaaaaays. I cleared out notifications from the group every time I saw one.

It was just another minute in a day I didn’t have.

Final Thoughts

If you like counting calories, tracking your every pound and talking to strangers on the internet, Noom will totally work for you. Granting you don’t also have a health issue being monitored by a medical professional. I’m not a medical professional. Don’t listen to me.

Caveat: You have to follow the rules at least a little bit.

I “followed” the rules for seven weeks and lost almost six pounds. My starting weight was 146.4. My final weight was 140.8.

Did I meet my ultimate goal? (Be pain-free, for those who don’t remember.) No, I did not.

But that’s another novel.