The Graceful Skinny

A homeschool mom of one sharing my thoughts, curriculum reviews, organization techniques, and planning ideas with others in the homeschool community.

Weekly Update: Getting back to the Swing of Things May 6, 2011

Getting back into the Swing of things, monkey, zoo, weight loss bloh The Graceful Skinny

I have decided that I am going to flat out refuse to let this wall that I recently splat against take me down.  It may have taken most of a month and practically 10 pounds to do it but there you go.  I have already lost about 4.4 pounds since my doctor’s visit last week.

After realizing the amount of weight that I was starting to gain I went through a mired of emotions.  I will be honest here and admit that I came very close to letting myself succumb to the helplessness and dejected feelings. But then I started noticing that not only was I not helping myself, but I was re-gaining the weight and fast.  I realized that if I didn’t snap out of it soon I was going to be starting back at the beginning of this whole process all over again. I couldn’t let myself do that.

So I have decided that I am getting myself over this stupid wall even if it’s the last thing I do.  I am going to make this happen! And today, for the first time in month and a half I got in my 30 minute biking activity in on my Wii Fit.  I didn’t hit the same top mileage that I was hitting but today’s score was within the top 4, which is a bit better then what I set out to do for the day.  I knew it was going to be hard so when I started I set a goal to at least make sure my mileage made the top 15 scores.

Imagine my surprise though when I got halfway through my workout and realized that I had missed it. I finally get how people say they enjoy their workouts, because to be honest, I have never really understood that before now. I mean really, who actually finds themselves actually enjoying the all out exhaustion and sweaty grossness that you get from workouts? Well, much to my surprise, me apparently. There is something truly gratifying about taking things into your own hand and taking control over the mess that is your weight. There is a message that the work out speaks.  The workout acts like a microphone that announces to the world and yourself that you are going to refuse to stand down and let the fat and the pounds win. I not only can do this, I am doing this! I can lose this weight and it is going to come off.

So to all of you out there struggling or feeling defeated like me, join me in the rebellion! Don’t let this crap win. We CAN do this and we WILL do this! And in the end, we will feel so much better because of it!

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Weekly Update: Better Late Than Never April 25, 2011

My wonderful readers, I am so very sorry for my inconsistent posting this past month. April has been a bit rough health wise and it has caused me to slack in other areas. I stared this blog as a way to be an encouragement to others and try to do my best to keep a positive outlook in my posts. However, this once I must ask your forgiveness if I come across as a bit negative and whiny, because today I just need a bit of time to vent.

I am tired of being tired. I am tired of medical issues and weight issues and fertility issues and pills and hormones. My issues with asthma and the steroids at the beginning of the month started a bit of a chain reaction.  Aunt Flo went weird (yet again). Provera was needed. And now I am left with 7ish pounds of weight that I am going to have to re-loose!

Though as run down as I am, if I stop for a minute and listen it becomes obvious that God is trying to teach me something through all of this.  And while this is something that I have known for years being able to step back and take peace in this knowledge is not all that easy.

It’s at times like these where I feel so run down and frustrated and find myself screaming out to God, “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!” It’s at these moments when I finally stop and really listen that I hear God gently whispering back to his reminder that I never could do it, nor was I ever supposed to, and as crappy as all this is to deal with, there is something unbelievably freeing at this reminder.

God is there watching over us and taking control over everything.  When I stop and think about how easy it is to slip into the grind of the daily life and trudge through it all, it is these moments that cause us to break that really bring us closer to God.  And as crappy as they might be to get through, as much as I would LOVE to push the fast forward button on life just to skip all of this, I wouldn’t trade a single piece of it because God has truly used it all to bring us closer to him.

So while I may have my moments of acting like an exhausted two year old, in the end its all good because God is in control and for that I am ever grateful!

 

A deeper look into the medical issues in my life- Part 2: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis April 18, 2011

the gracefulskinny weight loss blog hashimotos thyroidits conditions

Whenever I hear the name Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis I always get a mental image of some crazed samurai randomly attacking my thyroid gland. In reality that image is not too far off from what is actually happening.

Essentially Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune disease in which your auto immune system randomly decides that it doesn’t like the thyroid anymore and then attacks it every so often. This causes the thyroid to go crazy.

During an attack your thyroid is likely to go into overdrive occasionally causing Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism happens when there is too much thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) being released meaning that your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels are too low.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism are as follows:

  • Heat intolerance
  • Increased Metabolism (This will make you more likely to lose weight and less likely to gain.)
  • Frequent and or loose bowel movements
  • Thinning of hair
  • Change in Appetite
  • Fatigue

After an attack your thyroid shuts down and doesn’t work as well. This causes Hypothyroidism. Your thyroid becomes hypo when the thyroid is under producing the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). This causes your body to over produce the TSH in order to try to get more T3 and T4.  This is why when the vampires (lab technicians) draw blood to test your levels they look at the TSH levels.  When your TSH levels are high that means that your thyroid levels are too low.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism are as follows:

  • Cold Intolerance
  • Decreased Metabolism
  • Weight Gain and/or a significant struggle to lose weight
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Dry Skin, Hair & Nails
  • Constipation

Over all it is easy to manage with proper medication and regular monitoring.  It might take a while for the doctors to find the right level of medication for you but once they do Hashimoto’s becomes more manageable.

Things to look out for with Hashimoto’s:

  • Hashimoto’s and other thyroid diseases are very commonly linked with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • It is not uncommon for Hashimoto’s to cause Nodules to form every now and then.  I have been told that they are mostly harmless and just a part of the disease but you never know.
  • Stress and weight can be contributing factors.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis while not commonly known about is actually the most common form of Thyroid disease.  It is estimated that it affects about 14 MILLION Americans and that it is seven times more likely to affect women then it is to affect men.

Celebrities with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis:

  • Kim Cattrall
  • Jillian Michaels
  • Linda Ronstadt (musician)
  • Nia Vardalos (actress/writer)
  • Oprah Winfrey

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis can sound scary and overwhelming when you are first diagnosed but once you become familiar with what you are dealing with it becomes very manageable.

Websites that I have found useful in dealing with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis:

You can find Part 1 of my Medical conditions series HERE

 

Weekly Update:Glad to see Spring! March 18, 2011

 

So I’ll fess up now, I had a bit of a re-laps into laziness for a bit there. It was so bad I just completely brushed off my weekly updates. For that I am sorry. I think part of it was that I had a bit of a gain period and I hadn’t fully lost it last week. I don’t think I really wanted to face it. However I am proud do say that I was able to kick myself back into gear and I got a 30 minute workout done this week. Did pretty good to!

 

For those that don’t know, I use my Wii Fit to track my weight and to do my exercise. I like it because it keeps track of everything from your BMI (which is actually a bit more accurate then my Doctors office calculations), it also keeps track of my activity and how much time I spent actually moving.  It then calculates out how many calories you burned. It makes exercising feel less like a chore and more like a fun game. My favorite activity as of late is the 30 minute free ride biking one.  To move you step with your feet on the board just like you would when you are riding a bike.  You work the same muscles but from the comfort of inside your own home which takes away all weather based excuses to avoid the workout.  Not only that but it keeps score for you. It has become my challenge when I do it to do my best to match or beat my high score. This forces me to keep pushing myself and work myself harder and harder. I am also noticing that the more I do it the easier it is to go further. I almost always end with my legs like jelly and exhausted beyond belief but it amazes me that when I started out my high score was 4-5 miles. I was overjoyed when I finally hit seven miles. Now? Well I actually hit 11.4 miles this week.  And on that ride I was shooting for 10.6 miles.  Part of me wonders if I could actually pull that off on a real ride. It might be something I would have to try sometime.

 

Well I have to say that when I hopped onto the scale this morning I was not expecting much. It is a rare day indeed when I show any kind of loss the morning after Aunt Flo rolls in. It’s not uncommon at all for my weight to go stagnant throughout the period.  I was overjoyed and immensely proud of myself when I saw the numbers for the week. It just goes to show myself that if you actually get off your butt and do the work the results will come. (Don’t you just hate it when logic comes back to rub it in your face?)

 

So on to the results for this week:

 

  • This Week: 1.4 pounds down!!!
  • Total Weight Loss: 31.4 pounds down!!!

 

I am very much not ashamed to say that I did a bit of a happy dance around my living room when I saw that number.

 

So dear readers it’s your turn to update me! What is your favorite way to get in exercise? What do you do to kick your butt back into gear when the laziness attacks? How has your week gone?

 

A Deeper Look into the Medical Issues in My Life- Part 1: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) March 8, 2011

Image Source: The Mayo Clinic

It dawned on me lately that I have been so busy focusing on getting the weight off and just dealing with my medical issues that while I have a basic understanding of the issues in my life I have yet to take a deeper look into a lot of them.  It is so easy when dealing with medical issues to get caught up in your own struggle that you forget that there are so many others who are dealing with them too.  That being said, I have decided to take the next few weeks and take a deeper look into my different Conditions and Diseases that I have been left to deal with. It is looking at being a 3-4 part series.

In my initial research for this post I started my search looking for lists of celebrities that have been confirmed to have the various medical issues.  I found many blogs full of bitter women discussing rumors of celebrities.  I quickly became very grateful to God for protecting my heart from that negative view point.  Seeing those women belittling and bemoaning the world around them because of their condition makes me grateful that I am filled with the ability to look at everything with a positive perspective.

After looking a little deeper into the subject I stumbled across some good websites with some wonderful information.  This post is for the many readers who follow along not just for the weight loss journey but also find themselves Sisters (or Brothers) in arms in the battle with one or more of my medical conditions.

POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME a.k.a. POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME a.k.a. PCOS

So what is PCOS? PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is found most commonly in women with some sort of hormonal imbalance.  The unbalance of the hormones causes the development of follicles in your ovaries to cease the development process mid way through. The would be egg then dissolves leaving small little pockets in your ovaries called cysts.  This then causes your periods to become irregular or non-existent.  The problem in my understanding is that these cysts aren’t just empty pockets. With each cyst comes an extra dose of hormones that further throws your body out of whack.

According to my gynecologist in a recent appointment, women with PCOS have two healthy states for the body to be in, option A: on birth control, option B: pregnant.  The in-between of no birth control and not pregnant is bad because it increases the chance for more cysts to develop on the ovaries.  The more cysts the harder it is to deal with the syndrome.

In most cases the common first step for a woman suspected to have PCOS is to have her loose 5- 10% of her body weight. This is because studies have found that fat cells are carriers for extra amounts of hormones such as estrogen. The fat cells release these extra bits of hormones causing a vicious cycle of making the problem worse. However all those extra and unbalanced hormones wreak havoc on a woman’s ability to lose that weight.  It is almost a catch 22 and is very discouraging for a lot of women.

So what are some of the issues that are commonly found with PCOS?

  • Insulin Resistance
  • Adult onset/ extreme acne issues
  • Hair issues (excessive hair growth/ hair loss)
  • Thyroid issues
  • Irregular/ Non- existent periods
  • Weight issues most commonly obesity issues
  • Excess levels of androgens (a.k.a. male hormones)
  • Multiple small cysts on the ovaries
  • infertility

In poking around for this section of this article the fact that I came across that was most surprising to me was that even though PCOS is not something that is very well known or talked about it actually affects 1 in every 10 women. I think that what keeps women from opening up about it is the infertility, especially for the single ladies out there.

The word infertility brings with it lots of big bad and downright scary connotations with it. I remember sitting at the computer when I was first looking into PCOS and was trying to figure out what it was and why I was being recommended diabetic medication to treat it. The terror that set in my gut at seeing that one little word was significant. It was only with my husband by my side that I was able to face that fear and put it past me.  If I had been diagnosed while I was still single I am not sure what I would have done.  The day I was sitting in my Gynecologists office and he confirmed that I indeed have PCOS my heart sank into the deepest pit of my stomach convinced that meant that I could never get pregnant. There were a few moments there where I was swimming in guilt and shame convinced that because I had allowed my weight to get out of hand that I had created my own down fall.   It was then that my doctor reassured me of two very important things; number 1: my issue with my weight was NOT the cause of the PCOS just an effect, number 2: of the different ways women become infertile this by far is the easiest to undo.

Why it is important to not ignore this or attempt to face it alone?

The journey and battle with PCOS is a hard one. I doubt that even the strongest woman could face this issue alone without breaking down.  The path to getting everything balanced is rough and challenging.  Everyone is different and every case reacts to treatments differently.  Because of this there is always a bit of a guessing game in the process to find the right meds at the right levels to balance out your case. And because our bodies are forever changing that small window of happy balance will change from time to time as well.  Having that support around you while you go through these ups and downs makes all the difference.

As far as why it is best not to ignore this goes, there is  the obvious that the longer you go without balancing this out the worse the long term effects can get.  However there is an even bigger reason to face this and get treated and monitored that is the insulin resistance that very commonly tags along for the ride with PCOS. If left untreated that insulin resistance could develop into Pre diabetes or Type II diabetes.

For a condition in women that is so common there are so few who actually openly talk about it. Don’t let yourself feel ashamed about it. You never know who you might be helping by opening up. And if I can help just one  person to feel that they are not going through this alone all the better.

Who are a few well known people who suffer PCOS?

From what I could find of a few rather reliable looking websites here are a few that seem to have confirmed PCOS:

A few websites that I have found informational:

Final Thoughts:

After taking some time to really look into PCOS I find that while being diagnosed with it can seem very scary and daunting, it is not something to be ashamed about nor is it something to hide in the closet. Too many of our Sisters in Arms don’t speak out about it making it this big dark black hole to many as they are diagnosed.  For something that occurs so commonly in women, knowledge of this syndrome should be more common place.  If you are one of my readers who happens to be a sister in arms with this syndrome know you are not alone! I am here to stand beside you and we can get through this!

If you are just learning about PCOS and are in the process of figuring out whether or not you have it know this, It is not the end of the world. With proper treatment and monitoring from the doctors PCOS is very manageable and you can go on to lead healthy normal lives.  And yes, my doctor assures me, it is very possible to get pregnant with this condition. It just means you have to jump a few more hoops to get pregnant then other women.  But in the end, it just makes those babies that much more special to us.  Are there hard times ahead? Yes, but aren’t there always hard times ahead. The best thing you can do is to is to trust in God and remember that he is always in control and that PCOS is VERY treatable.

For those out there that wish to reach out to me with questions about PCOS and feel uncomfortable about posting in the comments thread, feel free to contact me at PCOS@thegracefulskinny.com .

 

What does 30 pounds look like? March 7, 2011

"Rachael" Gracegul Skinny weight loss diet blog medical conditions thyroid issues PCOS

In honor of FINALLY hitting the 30 pound down mark I thought I would take a chance to celebrate with what has become one of my favorite things about this blog.  That’s right folks! It’s another round of what does the weight look like!

So what is thirty pounds?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.

 

30 pounds down weight loss graceful skinny blog

 

 

My new Sewing Machine! This baby rings in at whooping 33 pounds. It’s heavy enough that my family has made it a rule that I am not allowed to carry it on the stairs. The first time I tried to pick it up it took me 3 times because it wouldn’t even move the first few.

 

Just think and I have been carrying that around! Crazy!

 

 

 

 

 

2.

 

 

What does 30 Pounds Look Like? Weight loss blog The Graceful skinny diet

 

If we talk in terms of Butter we are looking at 120.5 sticks of butter!  That’s more butter then even Paula Dean could cook with! Can you imagine walking around carrying 120.5 sticks of butter? I sure can’t! Yet, that is what I’ve been doing! I can’t believe it!

 

 

 

 

 

3.

What does 30 pounds look like? Thirty Pounds weight loss blog the graceful skinny

 

If we calculated out into M&M’s that would be 150,000 M&Ms! Holy cow that’s a lot of chocolate!

 

 

 

So now it’s your turn dear readers! What objects can you come up with that are 30 pounds?

 

Weekly Update: Dancing through the Potholes on the Road of Life! February 25, 2011

Birthday cake the graceful skinny diet wieght loss medical issues asthma pcos hashimotos celebrations blog diet

 

Well dear readers my week has been quiet interesting and busy. Due to my birthday on Monday I spent the weekend celebrating with Friends, family and loved ones.  I refused to deprive myself and even caved and brought a few special treats to munch on throughout the week.  I set my expectations low for the scale and relaxed and enjoyed myself knowing that this is a rare occurrence.

 

My birthday was wonderful! It was filled with my wonderful friends and family and some great food. The best part of it all was the beautiful sewing machine that my husband gave me! I have been wanting to learn to sew for the longest time.  He conspired with my friends and family and I now have everything that I need to learn to sew. I am almost done with my first project!

 

But alas, it wouldn’t be my life without a few trips to different doctor’s offices and yet another referral. I had my physical on Tuesday. It was probably a mistake to go in for a physical the day after my birthday but I wasn’t thinking about that when I scheduled my appointment.  So yet again I had all the fun of fasting and giving up 4 vials of blood to the Vampires to test. I was subjected to an EKG and a Breath Test due to my asthma. The EKG was good. The breath test however, came back with results showing I have the lungs of an 84 year old. It is possible that the test was not accurate however I am being referred to a pulmonologist just to be sure.  Oh yeah we also get to tack on yet another medication to help with the asthma.

 

My blood work came back with a mixed bag of results. It would appear that my TSH levels (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) are perfect. Both my general practitioner (GP) and my gynecologist were happy with those numbers. However, apparently my cholesterol levels are still high.

 

My GP wants me to consider medication for it, but my gut tells me strongly not to.  This gut feeling was re enforced when I went to the drug store to pick it up and the pharmacist explained some very likely complications this cholesterol medication would cause with my treatment plan for the PCOS.  Needless to say I have declined the option for this medication.

 

It just goes to show you that when it comes to your medical issues, you can’t just sit back and assume everyone else knows what they are doing 100% of the time. You can’t relax. You have to stay on top of things. Sometimes that might mean you have to get annoying, others it might mean that you have to get stubborn. But always falls back on you to fix the issues of the day.

 

Needless to say, I have been busy this week. Which is frustrating, because it means I haven’t had nearly as much time with my new sewing (to me) machine as I would have liked.  And while I could have easily have let all this negative news get me down I choose not to. I am choosing to focus on the good side of things.  But enough with that. You probably are just sitting there anxious to see the damage all that celebrating did right? I know that I was when I stepped on the scale this morning. It took me a moment to actually peak at the screen and see my numbers for the week.

 

Imagine my absolute shock and surprise when I actually did take a look at the numbers!

 

The Results for the week are:

 

  • This week: 1.1 POUNDS DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!
  • TOTAL WEIGHT LOSS: 30.5 POUNDS DOWN!!!!!!!

 

 

In all honesty, I think that is the best birthday present I could ever give myself! And it goes to show that you can indeed have your cake and lose weight to! I can’t describe how great it feels to finally break through the 30 pound wall. And in just 4-5 pounds more I will officially be out of the obese category! How great is that!

 

So dear readers now is the time I hear from you! How has your week gone?  Anything exciting going on with you?