Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Hey all, I've had more medical stuff going on. More weight loss stuff will be posted soon, but I had to write something spiritual. It was weighing on me heavily, and I needed to share. 

At church right now, we're going through the Beatitudes in relationship to making disciples. This week, Ritchey preached on Matthew 5:5. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

When I was a kid, I went to Kanakuk Kamp for three summers. Each year, they give out character awards and one of the traits they said I embodied was meekness. In the past several years, I've almost viewed that as a flaw. I've overcompensated and become much more aggressive. This is a good thing in some ways, but I was reminded that being meek doesn't mean being weak - it means being thoughtful. It means responding to things instead of reacting to them. And really, the change has been because of insecurity. Meekness is something I need to work at recapturing, because as was pointed out in Ritchey's sermon, the opposite of being meek is acting in a carnal way. I have gut reactions to things and have flares of anger that I almost always regret. I have control over how I respond to things, and it's important that I work to be Christlike in those responses.

I've caught myself in the car, immediately jumping to road rage if someone does something I don't view as productive on my commute. I roll my eyes too much at things I don't like. I try to have a witty retort to any criticism. I need to stop that, and realize that my meek nature isn't something that needs to be stifled. Being meek means having a true view of oneself and realizing that my identity comes from God and not from others. Being meek means expressing that truth in attitude and conduct, and in my relationships with other people.

Self-worth

There's this interesting phenomenon I have experienced - sometimes, I forget that I'm bigger, or I know I'm doing really well with weight loss, and I have tons of confidence. I feel good about myself. Then, inevitably, a downpour of things happen to bring me back to reality. 

Now, I'm sure that everyone, regardless of weight, has gone through what I'm about to share. If you have, I am very sorry. It's a truly terrible thing to feel. 

 I have inserted a humorous Dr. Who GIF to make this intense entry less intense.

I have inserted a humorous Dr. Who GIF to make this intense entry less intense.

Once the previously mentioned downpour hits, all of my personal accomplishments and anything that makes me feel good about myself seem to become insignificant. I become so downtrodden I believe I'm not (insert any number of positive adjectives here) enough to do anything. I don't believe I'm worthy of the friends I have, and it can be a completely paralyzing thing. During these times, I want to go home and curl up in my room and avoid the world. 

"Gee Sarah, that sounds an awful lot like depression."

Yes, you're right. It's something I've struggled with for a very long time. I think there is a stigma on mental health in this country, and in the world, and admitting that I suffer from depression should not be considered a sign of weakness. My depression heightens my emotions, so I feel things very strongly. Whenever I go through anything difficult, it takes me a lot to get through. I believe that because of my depression, and because of the things I've gone through in my life, I've become an incredibly strong person. 

At Kanakuk Kamp when I was 11, I was initiated into the Kickapoo tribe. For those unfamiliar, Kanakuk is Christian athletic camp in southern Missouri. There are four tribes for campers - Kickapoo and Kiowa for girls, and Choctaw and Cherokee for boys. 

Since it was a Christian camp, Bible verses permeated a lot of what we did. I remember a chant - "Kicks can do (clap, clap) all things (clap, clap) through Christ (clap, clap) who strengthens us!"

I now know that this chant was based on Philippians 4:13, but that chant echoes in my head whenever I'm feeling incredibly low. 

Those words of hope seem to tie into what we're learning at church right now, despite the subject matter being from a B.C. origin.

For the past few months, we've been studying the life of Solomon. While he was incredibly wise, and wrote some great stuff, he was kind of a messed up dude. He violated a lot of the specific laws laid out to him pretty much directly from God, he spent more time on his palace than he did on the temple, and he had a whole mess of wives and concubines. 

There's some debate on the author of the book of Ecclesiastes, but general consensus puts Solomon on the byline. There are some dark lines in Ecclesiastes 2, and since people think Solomon wrote it at the end of his life, it's probably because he was doing quite a bit of self-reflection. 

In his early days, Solomon asked for wisdom from God. There were many things he could have asked for, but wisdom was what he wanted. In this self-reflection that is the book of Ecclesiastes, he's realizing that there's really not much of a difference between a wise person and a fool. 

"For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind." - Ecclesiastes 2:12-17

Despite this little bit of self-loathing, there is a nice realization in the very next chapter. And no, I am not quoting The Byrds here, though that is an excellent song. 

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." - Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4-5

So maybe it's OK when I feel sad and down on myself - it's natural. There is a time for it. Even the wisest man in the Bible got a little depressed. 

To the nitty gritty, not so emotional stuff - I started Contrave yesterday! There were even further issues with my insurance, so I just paid out of pocket for it - about $147. However, that's a price I'm willing to pay if it helps me feel like myself again. 

I've been going to the gym - I went on Monday and Tuesday last week, and then Saturday, yesterday, and this morning. It's funny, when I really get into working out, I get sorta addicted. Part of me wants to go again tonight. Contrave has anti-addiction medication in it - I hope it doesn't lessen this one!

I also made my favorite protein shake recipe after the gym today. It's super good, and fills me up for the entire morning. 

Cinnamon Peanut Butter Protein Shake

  • Enough unsweetened vanilla almond milk to cover the blades of your blender
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp unsweetened vanilla instant pudding powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup crushed ice

Pour the almond milk in first, to cover the blades. Add the protein powder, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, pudding powder, and cinnamon, and pulse your blender a few times. 
Add the ice and blend until ice is fully crushed and shake is frothy. 

It's soooo good. Not even lying. I hate protein powder, but this makes it tolerable. You can see that I drank it all!

In my workouts, I am doing the 30 minute circuit at Planet Fitness because I know exactly how long it will take me. Yesterday, I also did the abductor, adductor, and torso rotation machines. 

I need to start incorporating more just straight cardio into my routine, so the elliptical may be what I hit up this evening. 

Let me know if you have a favorite cardio exercise, or if you have an awesome protein shake recipe!

Dealing with issues...

Hey! It’s been a while. Sorry for my absence, but I was dealing with some stuff.

In some ways, the last six months have been awesome. I’ve had great times with friends, I’ve accomplished a lot at work and school, and I feel like I’m continuing to learn about myself and what I like to do (aside from work all the time, ha). 

In other ways, the last six months have been pretty brutal. I’ve been dealing with some health issues that have made me feel like somewhat of a failure. I had set all these goals for myself, and I was feeling like I failed myself and those rooting for me every single day. My PCOS reared its ugly head, and went full on Medusa.

Toward the end of fall, I was dealing with intense cravings. I was hungry all the time, and it is really hard to ignore constant hunger. I knew mentally that I didn’t need to eat, but my body was telling me otherwise. 

I took a trip to the magnificent and lovely Dr. Amy Brose (a doctor I will recommend to ANYONE who asks), and she put me on Phentermine, an appetite suppressant and stimulant to try to curb my hunger. At first, it was incredible. I started taking it in mid-December, and I lost 12 pounds in my first month. I had tons of energy, I was concentrating better at work, and was just having a great experience, other than a racing heart from time to time. 

Now, if talking about lady issues skeeves you out, please skip the next section until you see the word “OKAY!”


On January 4, I got my period. It didn’t stop until about four days ago. Yeah, it lasted three months. Three terrible, cramp-filled months. I was getting pretty pissed at Eve through that time period (ha, Bible humor).

I knew weight loss could impact cycles, so I thought maybe my 12-pound reduction had something to do with it. Then more weeks passed, and I thought my fairly intense workout regimen I started just before the New Year impacted it – so I stopped working out all together to see if it would help.

Through all of this, Dr. Brose was incredibly busy, so I visited her colleague Dr. Emily Lott (also an incredible lady). She sent me immediately over to the medical imaging place in their building to get an ultrasound to make sure there were no cysts or endometriosis, or anything else insane.

There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, so I went and got blood work done. My female hormones were at pre-pubescent levels, so that sparked some concern. I was referred to a gynecologist.

I had already been calling gynecology offices, practically in tears, for the weeks leading up to this referral. Did you know most gynecologists can’t get you in for an initial appointment without a month’s notice? It’s true. The office that Dr. Lott referred me to told me (at the end of February) that I could see a female doctor on March 28. MARCH 28! I called other offices (in tears) and found one that could get me in the following week with a Nurse Practitioner.

I have an intense amount of respect for NPs. My sister-in-law is an NP – they’re incredible. However, the one I saw sucked. She said my hormone levels were that way because I was on the Pill (oh yes, did I mention that? I was on the Pill to treat my PCOS through this whole ordeal. Yes, something that should have been controlling my cycle was doing nothing at all). She changed my Pill prescription and said she’d see me in three months.

I was not about that life. Nope, not at all. I waited anxiously until March 28, when I could get in to see Dr. Mary Clare Reardon at Northland OBGYN. She was such a blessing to me. She took time with me, talked to me, didn’t judge me when I started tearing up talking about everything. She gave me options, and I was ultimately put on Progesterone, and was advised to stop birth control all together.

She basically explained that my body was trading off shedding each uterine wall every single week. Stupid body.

I started Progesterone April 2 – I was supposed to start April 1, but was going out with friends, and didn’t know what effect it may have. Let’s take a look at some of these side effects listed. Stomach upset. Changes in appetite. Weight GAIN. Edema. Fatigue. Acne. Drowsiness OR insomnia. Headache. Depression. Irregular bleeding. I was skeptical, to say the least. The worry was exacerbated by the fact that I got a full-on period the day after I started, so that was no fun.

Four days later, though, I STOPPED BLEEDING. I stopped bleeding! I couldn’t believe it. 2016 had been a mess so far, and it was finally better!


OKAY! If you wanted to skip over all the lady issues, you can join us again!

Through all of these issues, the Phentermine stopped being effective. I really couldn’t feel any difference anymore. I went to see Dr. Brose on Friday, and shared my concerns with her. The scale reiterated what I said. She said that can happen, and recommended a few other options.

I ultimately settled on a medication called Contrave. It’s a mixture of an anti-depressant and a medication given to drug addicts to help them get over the addiction. I don’t have it yet – there are some problems with my insurance – but based on what I’ve read, I’m really excited to get going on it.

Side story – the last time I went to the gym from that moment until yesterday was probably a month and a half ago, when a thin, older, obviously yoga-doing lady stopped me after my circuit and said, “You are such an inspiration.” I smiled on the outside, but I was mortified on the inside. I went to my car and cried. I thought of myself as some sort of freak show. “Oh, look, the fat girl is working out. What an inspiration.” Ugh, so frustrating.

Anyway, that’s enough about my problems. Let’s talk about some of the fun things I did over the past several months.

I went to a campfire at the Cable's house and had an awesome time with incredible people!

I went to Wisconsin with Carrie and saw some of my favorite people! We stayed at a super cute house and I made breakfast for Amy and her adorable daughter. 

I dressed as Beetlejuice for Halloween!

I watched the Kansas City Royals win the World Series, and I attend the Victory Parade/Rally with friends!

I visited Minneapolis to see my best friend Ashley Jo Bronk! (no pictures of anything but donuts - not conducive to the tone of this blog)

I threw a Friendsmas party with my best friends in attendance!

I decided to go to my work's Christmas party at the last minute, and had a great deal of fun!

I met Marco Rubio at a rally in March! May his campaign rest in peace...

I, along with my friends Amanda and Rebecca, got to pay for people's breakfasts and lunches with my work's money in honor of my work's 65th birthday!

Thank you for your patience while I figured out my problems. I will be back stronger than ever now that I have my health somewhat under control. 

Soul Cyster Saturday vol. 2

This week's Soul Cyster is Laine. She is 22, and is a third year graduate student studying clinical psychology - she wants to work with children and adolescents! She lives in Seattle, and is another one of my PCOS subreddit ladies. I am so grateful for her contribution this week! 

I thought my gynecologist was just a jerk. I was diagnosed with PCOS in February of 2014. When I was diagnosed, I had just turned 22 years old, and was a few months into a graduate school program. I was working my butt off and hadn’t really thought much about the symptoms I’d been experiencing. I went to a gynecologist because I had moved to a new city for school and wanted to have one in the area, so when I went in, I figured I was just getting a checkup. She asked me if I’d always had hair on my face and acne, and I thought she was so rude. But, she’s still a doctor, and I was a 22-year-old with no medical knowledge, so I told her the truth: no, both of those were new in the last two or three years. I had never had significant acne, even as a teenager, and the peach fuzz mustache I'd had growing up had become hair all over my cheeks, chin, and upper lip over the past couple of years. She asked about my periods, but I had had a Mirena IUD in for several years (which I LOVED) and therefore had no periods. She asked about my weight, and I told her that I actually hadn’t always been overweight—in fact, I had been regularly called “skinny” in high school only four years earlier, but I had steadily gained weight over the past couple of years no matter what I tried. 

 The beautiful Lane. 

The beautiful Lane. 

At around this point I was a little scared, because I was realizing that she wasn’t rude but in fact had a theory about something that might be wrong with me. I had blood tests and a transvaginal ultrasound. Although I had no ovarian cysts, my blood tests showed results consistent with a PCOS diagnosis. I later confirmed this diagnosis with two endocrinologists, because when you don't want something to be true you try everything to disprove it. 

I went through a lot of emotions when I was first diagnosed. I was relieved in a small way, that I had an answer for symptoms I'd be ignoring. I was also relieved that my inability to lose weight was not just because I was incompetent and hopeless, but because there was legitimately something making it difficult. Those were good things. But I was also terrified. There was no cure available, and I had always desperately wanted children. Being faced with the possibility that it would be very difficult for me to conceive naturally was a hard pill to swallow. There was no treatment that would get rid of PCOS, nothing that I could do that would make it go away.

I went to a dermatologist, who prescribed spironolactone and birth control pills. I had to remove my adored Mirena IUD to start the birth control pill treatment. I have seen two top endocrinologists. The hair on my face and the acne cleared up over the next six months or so, with the help of medication, so those symptoms were ameliorated significantly. But my first endocrinologist did not want to prescribe Metformin, and had no other suggestions to help me lose weight. My weight continued to creep up despite 5-6 days a week of workouts and the recommended calorie intake to lose weight. I was frustrated and beaten down, exhausted from trying at something I could never win. I had been trying to lose weight for over a year when I went to a second endocrinologist, who told me she also would not prescribe Metformin and that I should keep doing what I was doing, but “don’t get too obsessive about calories”. I was about 30 pounds overweight at this point, and feeling utterly hopeless. Hearing doctors, who I have always trusted with every aspect of my health, not know what to do was scary. Hearing them tell me to "just keep on keepin' on!" when I was crawling closer and closer to obesity was scary. Hearing them tell me how important it was that I lose weight, while providing no guidance or help, was the scariest of all. 

Frustrated at the lack of answers, I started doing a huge amount of my own research, and joined a group on Reddit with other women with PCOS. Many women recommended a keto diet, but that diet was not sustainable for me personally. After a few more months of searching, I learned that some women with PCOS have lower resting metabolic rates, meaning that they burn fewer calories naturally than other women. I had my resting metabolic rate (RMR) tested at a local university, and they found that my body was burning about 500 calories less a day than would be expected for my weight, age, and height. I had been eating 1700 calories a day, the recommended intake for weight loss for a 5’10 woman of my weight, while really I needed to eat less than 1300 to lose weight. It has been extremely difficult to lower my calories so much more than I already had, but armed with that knowledge I have lost 21 pounds since July, and am now 15 pounds from my goal weight. It has been difficult to cut so much and feel left out as my friends with 23-year-old metabolisms eat half a pizza without a second thought, but I owe it to myself and my health to do everything I can. 

It is extremely difficult still, and it is very lonely and frustrating that the medical community does not have the answers I need. I am still terrified for the future as I get older and want children of my own. But to other women with PCOS, I would tell them not to give up. Look for your own answers, do your own research, be your own advocates. It is worth it to find the way to your best self. If I had listened to my doctors and accepted what they said at face value, I would likely be obese. Taking responsibility for my own health care and not giving up is the reason I'm not. YOU are the person you can rely on and trust. If you don't like what you're hearing, please do not give up. Believe that you can do it, because I can tell you from experience it is possible! 

Laine touches on some really good points - it's important to do research and figure out what will work for you! There are so many different facets of dealing with PCOS, and she has not let it defeat her in any way. I am so pleased to have her as part of my community!

Fitness Friday

I'm sure you've all had a week that has just been every kind of exhausting you can imagine. This week has been that for me. 

I've been dealing with some exciting (in one case) and tough (in another) things that have involved friends of mine (here's a fact about me - I'm like how Elliott was with E.T. in the movie - I feel what my friends are feeling). I'm also wrapping up one of my classes in my Master's in Adult and Continuing Ed, and I decided to wake up at 5:30 a.m. for three days to work out before work. 

 This is what my car's clock looks like in a Planet Fitness parking lot at 5:31 a.m.

This is what my car's clock looks like in a Planet Fitness parking lot at 5:31 a.m.

It all started a few weeks ago when my friend Katie and I talked about how nice it would be to have a workout out of the way before heading to work. We postponed our plan for a while, but when she came over briefly on Monday evening to talk and watch Monday Night Football (go Pack go), we decided we were going to start Wednesday. 

I am NOT a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, but I woke up with the help of six alarms set on my phone. 

Katie and I decided to do the 30 minute circuit, for time's sake and for a full body workout. I've done the 30 minute circuit before, and I think it's great for ladies with PCOS, because you aren't working out so long that it messes with androgens that make you get bulkier than a lady would like to be. 

I wound up repeating this morning routine Thursday with the addition of our friend Amanda, and then Friday with just Amanda. By Friday afternoon around 2, I was really starting to feel the effects of my early mornings. It became very tough to focus, but I ate some grapes and caught my second wind. 

I kind of violated the rules of the 30 minute circuit - they say not do to it two days in a row, and to take a day between each time you do it, but it's so structured and you can see the end of the workout visually that I can't help but love it. 

 I eat those step up stations for breakfast!

I eat those step up stations for breakfast!

If you've never been inside a Planet Fitness, I'll tell you a little bit about how the 30 minute circuit works. 

There are a total of 20 stations - 10 weight machines, 10 step up stations. There is a stoplight on the wall above all the stations that has two colors - red and green. When the light is green, you work out on the station where you are, and once it turns red, you move on to the next station. Each station lasts 60 seconds, with 30 second breaks between stations. There is a list of suggestions on the wall of what to do at each step station, but I'll tell you what we did: 

Station 1: Basic step ups
Station 3: V step ups
Station 5: Knee ups
Station 7: Butt kickers
Station 9: Front kicks
Station 11: Back kicks
Station 13: Calf raises
Station 15: Modified skaters
Station 17: Side kicks
Station 19: Wall sit

We repeated this on day 2, but on day 3 we took out the wall sit and did squats with a step up between each one. 

I'm hoping to continue this routine through this weekend and every morning (except Tuesdays - I have four hours of class on Tuesday nights). There is something so great about getting work and knowing that you've accomplished something already. 

Let me know what you do for fitness in the comments!

 

Soul Cyster Saturday, vol. 1

Since this is the first in a series, I'm going to be longwinded in my intro - forgive me! As I've mentioned before, I deal with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (commonly called PCOS), a disorder that affects around 5 million women in the United States alone. There is no known cure for it, and it really can only be managed to a symptom reduction that makes life better. As the name suggests, it can cause multiple cysts on ovaries, and it increases androgen (male hormones) levels. Increased androgens can cause a whole host of issues including infertility, weight gain, acne, unwanted hair growth (except where you want it - on your head - it can cause male pattern baldness), depression, etc. 

I've met lots of women with various mixtures of the symptoms of PCOS, and I want to have their stories told. I want PCOS sufferers to know they're not alone. Each Saturday, I will feature another woman who has those four terrible letters hanging over her head. I'm calling it Soul Cyster Saturday, a name I borrowed from a support group I found when I was first diagnosed. 

My first Soul Cyster is Marly, a lovely lady I met on a PCOS subreddit. I posted a contributor request, and she was so enthusiastic with her reply! She even wrote her post while battling a terrible cold. Marly is 28, like me. She lives in Canada with her husband, two annoying dogs (her words), and one awesome cat (her words as well). What Marly has dealt with really moved me, because she has not had any easy time of it with her diagnosis. Here is Marly's story:

Introducing yourself is hard. 

If we were all gathered together right now, I would likely stand up, ruffle my hair nervously and say "Hi, I'm Marly, and I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome." "Hi Marly" you would drone back, and I would sit down again, part of this experience with you, but still pleasantly anonymous. 

This is not that gathering. This is my life with PCOS.

I was diagnosed with PCOS at 15, after my doctor decided that the random abdominal pain, wildly irregular periods, and the hair that was showing up on my stomach just weren't adding up to anything good.  

 My stupid PCOS hairline. 

My stupid PCOS hairline. 

I spent a few hours at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, where they took blood, my weight and height, and subjected me to my first (but certainly not last) internal ultrasound. 

I remember being upset. I remember being in pain from the exam, and remember the prescription for birth control (Marvalon, at much too high a dose) to "even out my cycles." That was it. That was literally the only treatment I received.

For the next three years, while I wilted my way through the rest of highschool, I watched cystic zits come and go, watched my hairline inch farther and farther back, and felt my body develop into a shape I was certainly *not* impressed with.  The birth control did nothing to help my other symptoms, but I'm told it prevented more cysts from developing, for a little while. 

By the time I went to college, I had stopped taking the birth control pills, and developed an eating disorder to try and control my weight. Both were terrible choices at the time, but they were the only options I felt like I had. 

Now, this may seem like a sob story so far, but while I've been focussing on the negative impact my diagnosis had on me, I haven't mentioned all the other, more amazing aspects of my life so far. I've always had a wonderful, supportive family, and friends who have been there for me through every cancelled plan and hospital trip. One of my best friends ended up becoming a nurse, and insists that seeing my struggle to find a caring, helpful doctor were what inspired her to it. 

No one told that I would forever struggle with my weight. No one told me that my period would come and go, sometimes disappearing for years, sometimes lasting for months. No one told me what I already suspected about myself: I was never going to be a Normal Girl, with long hair and a defined waist. I was not going to have clear skin, or a pleasantly hairless body.  I was not going to be traditional beauty - I was going to be Different. 

Did I mention the doctors? They were mostly assholes. When I went to my GP, her reaction was mostly "Oh, this again? Take more birth control." If I didn't go to the hospital for prolonged bleeding, I was being negligent of my health. If I did go, I was just being whiny about period cramps. No one was offering me CARE or TREATMENT, just birth control and internal ultrasounds. So eventually, I gave up. I researched alternative healthcare. I tried acupuncture, and about a zillion diets that supposedly helped my ladyparts somehow. I read about insulin resistance and flirted with the idea of Metformin, but found only more rejection when I broached the subject with doctors.  Now, I maintain as health conscious a diet as I feel comfortable with. I eat my veggies, I stay away from unnecessary sugar, and if it's your birthday, I eat the damn cake. I am not thin. I'm a little chubby, actually, at 160 lbs and only 5 feet tall, but I've found a place where I'm happy, and my body feels right to ME. That's what matters, I think. Some of you might struggle with your body image, or weight, or sense of beauty as well.  Know that it doesn't matter if you aren't like other women. It doesn't make them better, and it doesn't make you worse. If they knew the war you fight with your body, it would be them wishing to be more like you - to be as strong as you.

 My crazy hair is my biggest "I rule, PCOS can bite me" habit. It changes color monthly!

My crazy hair is my biggest "I rule, PCOS can bite me" habit. It changes color monthly!

This isn't the end, by any means, and I will continue to struggle with PCOS for the rest of my life, and in many ways I'm sure I don't anticipate. For now, I am learning the difficulties of family planning - I am 28 now, and my husband and I are trying to start a family. So far, I have hitting more walls with my doctors, and trying to keep up with terms like Clomid and Follicle Maturity, and considering whether or not i want to get a needle in the bin every day for a month, or hop straight to in vitro fertilization. It's a tough road, and a hard one; two months before my wedding I experienced my second miscarriage due to "unknown infertility." My reproductive organs are crappy, and they might always be. I will struggle, I will cry, and I will eat all the chocolate ice cream in the house sometimes. I honestly hope that you do those things too. There is no shame is struggle, or in tears. 

I am not my diagnosis. PCOS is not what defines me, and it does not shape who I am as a woman. It may have taken me more than a decade to work it out, but I am no less of a woman because of a few (hundred) little bubbles.  I am braver, stronger, and more resilient because of them, and so are you.

Marly's story is truly inspiring and heartbreaking, all at the same time. I am so honored that she was willing to share it with me and with all of you! Thank you, Marly! You're so great, and I'm so lucky to have found a friend in you through this experience. 

Shopping Spree

I've never been superbly fashionable when it comes to my own wardrobe. I think I'm fairly good at picking out clothes for other people, but my style has definitely never been the most important thing to me. 

I've gone through certain style phases, though. For about three or four months in 2002, I was all about Hot Topic. Yes, I wore raver pants with pointless zippers, and no, I do not have them anymore. 

After that until I graduated college and started a grown-up job, I leaned toward band t-shirts, hoodies, and Converse. This would still have been my free-time uniform if all my band t-shirts weren't too small now. I went to a lot of shows in what I like to refer to as my former life, so a closet full of shirts bought at these shows made sense. 

Since I started my job about 5 1/2 years ago, my weight has fluctuated, but my fashion has been somewhat stagnant. Most of the clothes I wore for a long time were from Lane Bryant, Torrid, and Target. I have had a very small rotation of outfits that I repeat each week. In the last year or so, I've become obsessed with oldnavy.com. Comfortable clothes I don't have to leave my house to buy? Sign me up!

 

 My remaining band t-shirt collection. A few of my favorites are missing due to frequency of wear. Sad day.

My remaining band t-shirt collection. A few of my favorites are missing due to frequency of wear. Sad day.

 Ahh, Converse on black and white film. I developed this picture myself!

Ahh, Converse on black and white film. I developed this picture myself!

Regardless, this left me feeling a little bit frumpy. My mom and I like to binge-watch shows on HGTV and TLC, and until it ended, we LOVED What Not To Wear. Stacy London came out with a new show early this year called Love, Lust or Run, and there were several plus-size ladies on the show who she made look amazing. 

I began to wonder if it was possible for me to look good in clothes that weren't super baggy. I started researching stylists in Kansas City, thinking I might meet with someone who worked for a store and go from there. In my research, I found Ladybird Styling

Molly Bingaman founded Ladybird in 2010, after getting a BFA in Fine Arts. She previously did some interior design, and started as a stylist after she realized she had a knack for it, and not all people knew how to dress best for themselves. She wound up being trained by The Queen Stacy London herself, which is INCREDIBLY amazing. 

 The beautiful, kind, talented and wonderful Molly Bingaman - photo pulled from Ladybird's site.

The beautiful, kind, talented and wonderful Molly Bingaman - photo pulled from Ladybird's site.

I requested an initial appointment, and was contacted by her assistant to set up a time for a free consultation. We met at Headrush Roasters a few weeks ago, and after she spent some time getting to know me and asking about my size, lifestyle, and style fears, she discussed how we could work together and what kinds of options she had. She offers closet audits, closet remixes, shopping assistance, and shopping trips on your behalf. She even does style parties!

A shopping trip together seemed like the best option for me, so we booked it and she asked me to create a Pinterest board with the kinds of style trends that spoke to me the most. 

We met at Lane Bryant on Saturday, and she had a fitting room all set up and ready to go for me. I immediately was drawn to the layers and jewelry that I would never had picked for myself! It was so exciting, but I felt a sense of fear that the clothes would look bad on me. 

 This is what the dressing room looked like when I got to the store! Molly took this picture and I stole it from her Facebook. Hope that's OK!

This is what the dressing room looked like when I got to the store! Molly took this picture and I stole it from her Facebook. Hope that's OK!

Guess what - they didn't! Did you know that blouses have secret buttons now that prevent you from popping open in the bust? I didn't! And it looked amazing! I never thought I could pull off a high-waisted ponte skirt, but I did! Molly even told me I looked like a fashion blogger, which are words I certainly never thought would be used to describe me. I was able to wear the heels she picked out without falling over. I wore necklaces that looked super cute and flattered my outfits. She listened to my feedback and picked out clothes that not only flattered me, but fit my personality. 

I decided to do this as a treat to myself to show that even though I am working on changing my appearance, I want to have a wardrobe that will change with me, and boost my confidence as I go through possibly awkward phases. 

I would recommend Molly to anyone. This experience was absolutely incredible, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. We were able to pick out clothes that work together really well, and I feel like I have much more insight into what works for me for when I shop again!

So, without further ado, here is my "haul" from my two-hour shopping trip with Molly!


Self-image

So, I know I said I would talk about fitness today, but something more important has come up!

Aside from a quick photo session for a church directory in an empty classroom last year, I hadn't posed for a professional picture since the summer before my senior year of high school. 

Back at that session in 2004, I was asked to bring things that were significant to my high school experience. I brought a copy of the school newspaper, and my choir letter. 

 Yes, I lettered in choir, and yes, I hung the letter on my wall next to a poster of Orlando Bloom from Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Yes, I lettered in choir, and yes, I hung the letter on my wall next to a poster of Orlando Bloom from Pirates of the Caribbean. 

For about an hour, I awkwardly posed with those objects, as well as an uncomfortable chair and a fake door in a photo studio. 

As I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the prints, I was sure that I would look like some sort of model wearing the respectable blouse my mom made me buy from Kohl's. 

Here's an example of one of my senior portraits. I call this one I Am So Over Wearing Nice Clothes And Posing.

I didn't look like a model, but I did look nice. I was pleased as I exchanged pictures with all of my friends. (Side-note: Does anyone still have pictures in their wallet? I kept a stack of about 12 senior pictures where money was supposed to go until halfway through my freshman year of college, then scrap booked them). 

Even though the experience was overall pretty OK, I had no desire to do any portraits until I got engaged or married. That is, until I decided to lose weight and saw the amazing skills of Lacey of Lacey Rene Studios.

Lacey moved to town a few months ago with her husband Michael, when he took on a family pastor role at my church. I remember being at church on a Wednesday night and being so excited when Ritchey announced the Morefields' impending arrival. He told us a little bit about the two of them, and mentioned that Lacey is a photographer. After I had met them in person, I felt comfortable Facebook stalking them and saw her work. I was totally blown away by her use of light and her capturing of real emotions. I could tell she made people incredibly comfortable during photo sessions. 

I had seen quite a few before photos that were mirror pictures or were not at all flattering. Even though I want look better than I do now, I also want to capture who I am at this moment where I've made a tough decision to change my life. I think there is a lot of beauty in that, and it warrants more than a selfie. 

So, on August 9, I messaged Lacey on Facebook, and said,

Lacey responded that very afternoon with enthusiasm and pricing options and describing how honored she was to do it. 

On Sept. 5, we met in the parking lot of Good Ju Ju in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, and she used her skills to photograph me for about 20 minutes. I am so happy with how these turned out! :-) Thank you so much, Lacey! I am so happy and honored to have you in my corner. 



Little Victories

I had a four-hour class tonight, and instead of eating to focus (yes, that's something I do), I had my 6-inch Subway sub and was actually able to focus way better than when I am thinking about food!

The last two days have gone pretty well for me. Generally, in a day, I'm supposed to have 12 ounces of protein and 75 grams of carbs spread throughout six meals in each day. I'm trying to stick to it, but it's a gradual transition.

My cousin Heather (check out her blog - Heather Homefaker) lost a significant amount of weight a few years back, and she gave me some great advice in a comment on my last blog. She said, "Instead of look at it as giving up chips/cheese/ice cream, try thinking of it as you'll just be eating less of those things."

That is an incredibly comforting thought! Knowing that I can maybe have a few Doritos on a Saturday without guilt makes it easier to stick to it during the week. Does anyone else feel the same way? It's like a culinary safety net.

What I ate yesterday: 

Breakfast: Jimmy Dean Delights Breakfast sandwich

  Such an amazing breakfast! Full of lean protein, and I don't even like turkey sausage.


Such an amazing breakfast! Full of lean protein, and I don't even like turkey sausage.

Snack: 1 cup green grapes

Lunch: Leftover homemade beef stew with lots of yummy veggies

Snack: String cheese

Dinner: Hamburger patties with cheese, half a baked potato and peas

Snack: Some beef jerky

What I ate today: 

Breakfast: 1 slice whole grain bread with 1/2 tbsp natural peanut butter

Snack: String cheese

Lunch: 1 hamburger patty on a Grands biscuit

Snack: String cheese

Dinner: 6 inch Subway sub

Hiccups

"The amount of physical and emotional pain and suffering you experience because of a decision is no barometer of whether you're being obedient to God."

Today did not go as planned. I woke up late, didn't have time to make a healthy breakfast, and I was tempted by the brownies my mom made for her Bible study group. 

I really wanted to start today, but I didn't. And that's OK, but only for today. I now know where my weak points are in the foundation of starting this life-changing plan. 

The one triumph I had today was getting to church. I go to an amazing church full of wonderful people, with an amazing leadership staff. The quote above is from my pastor's sermon today. We have been studying Acts over the past several months, and he has split the book into four parts. He's treating it like a TV series by splitting it into seasons. We are now in the fourth and final season, and the premiere was over Acts 21. 

For those who are not familiar with the Bible, the Book of Acts was written by Luke, and is also known as the Acts of the Apostles. It picks up right around the time Jesus ascends to heaven after the Resurrection. 

Acts 21 showcases the concerns the apostles and other believers have for Paul as heads to Jerusalem. They believe that since the believers in Tyre prophesied that Paul would be imprisoned, he should not go. 

Paul responded by saying, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am read not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."

The bottom line of Ritchey's sermon echoes the quote above - we often have to put ourselves in uncomfortable (or even dangerous) situations to live out the will of God. 

Now, I'm certainly not comparing my weight loss journey to the trials of the apostle Paul. However, going to the gym and lifting weights or working out on the elliptical in front of muscular, skilled, fit people is incredibly difficult for me. Giving up chips, cheesy things, and ice cream is tough for me as well. But that's the point, isn't it? 

I think being on this journey is 100% in God's plan for me, and I need to pray every single day for HIs perfect wisdom to guide me in my weaknesses. I am incapable of doing this on my own, and I think figuring that out is an accomplishment in itself. 

Tomorrow is a new day! I expect you to get on me if I don't write about going to the gym and eating SUPER healthy in Tuesday's blog.

I plan on posting on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. Sundays will be more of an emotional reflection of how I'm doing, Tuesdays will be about food and recipes, and Fridays will be all about fitness!

-Sarah Bee

The Beginning

So here's a random thing. I met Zac Efron a few weeks ago. 

 I'm next to the love of my life, the Silver Fox from Catfish. 

I'm next to the love of my life, the Silver Fox from Catfish. 

I won a radio contest, and my winnings included a free flight to and from Chicago, a night in a pretty swanky hotel, a free screening of the movie We Are Your Friends, and a meet and greet with none other than Mr. Efron himself. I was perhaps more excited to meet the film's director, Max Joseph, but don't think I didn't get a little giddy about meeting the latest movie version of Link Larkin. 

Anyway, being in the line for the meet and greet made me painfully aware of how uncomfortable I am with myself. Being on a plane and having to ask for a seatbelt extender was even more heart wrenching. I've been big since I was a tween, but never big enough to need accommodations. 

My mom picked me up from the airport, and I cried in the car. I played my tears off as being due to a splitting headache, but it was a much deeper pain than that. 

I deal with a metabolic disorder called polycystic ovarian syndrome. It's like diabetes' distant cousin. I like to explain it this way (thanks to a very smart Rachelle) - in the average person, after consuming a slice of bread, blood cells absorb the glucose and send the absorbed glucose where it needs to go. In a diabetic person, the glucose arrives at the blood cells and is ignored, despite ringing the doorbell and knocking on the cell's door. The cell is looking through the window and refusing to let the glucose in. With PCOS, the doorbell is broken, and the cell is not aware of the glucose desperately trying to be absorbed. 

This makes it a lot harder for me to lose weight than your average 28-year-old woman (which is already hard enough). If I lose weight, I can get rid of or minimize the effects of PCOS. It's kind of like an unfunny joke. 

Earlier this year, I met with a dietitian (the aforementioned Rachelle), and started on a diet plan. Like every other time, I failed. I didn't fail quite as hard, but I failed.

Regardless, when my dietitian told me she was leaving the grocery store where she worked and going to a new weight loss company, I was excited. My initial appointment was Aug. 21, and it couldn't have come at a better time. 

I started initially immediately after my appointment, but I wasn't ready yet. I've gotten myself into a better headspace, and I feel prepared to tackle this challenge. 

I've tried starting a blog since I graduated with a journalism degree 6 years ago, and this feels like the perfect opportunity to have something to write about. 

I start Sunday, and I will be chronicling the entire journey. I'll let you know how Day One goes. 

- Sarah Bee