Mrs. Howard, It’s Not Breast Cancer

Written By: Kim - May• 19•15

These are the words that every woman wants to hear who has ever found a lump in her breast. I heard these words from my radiologist this month after a bilateral mammogram and ultrasound. I am sure that you understand the relief I felt. Despite the research I did which showed that I had no signs of breast cancer, I needed medical confirmation.

I can tell you that I cried for several minutes after the doctor and technician left the exam room. Sheer relief washed over me and I simply could not contain my tears. I am extremely grateful that they were not tears of sorrow.

©2011 Crystal Woroniuk  courtesy of stock.xchng

©2011 Crystal Woroniuk courtesy of stock.xchng

Because I am an ugly crier (flushed face, red nose and red, swollen eyes – Clare Danes has nothing on me.) I texted my husband the good news. He was in the waiting room. I did not want him to be alarmed when I walked out looking traumatized, despite my attempts at superficial recovery. We celebrated with lunch afterwards.

Heart disease will likely kill me first – even after the weight loss. I have heart disease factors from both parents. The good news is that my annual check up results continually show no signs of high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Beast cancer does not run in my family. But did you know that statics show that more women without a family history of breast cancer get it? Yes, you read that correctly. I was just as surprised as you.

Do your breast exams monthly. I know a few women who’s lives were saved because they found the lump first. Get a mammogram annually. No, it’s not a pleasant experience, but child birth lasts a hell of a lot longer. In the scope of our lives, mammogram pain is small and finite. It was only through my monthly exam that I noticed the cyst. Cyst, not tumor. And even if it was cancer, I would rather know sooner than later. I would prefer to get treatment sooner  so that I have a better chance at beating any cancer.

Take your health seriously, ladies. Get an annual exam. Schedule the screenings and keep the appointment. What is more important than taking care of your body? If you won’t do it for yourself, just think of all of the people in your life who depend upon you. Think, just for a minute, about the huge void you would leave if you died too soon.

And, men, you need to know the facts about breast cancer in your gender as well. It’s not just for women only.

60 Pounds and Counting

Written By: Kim - Dec• 23•13

When I started this blog in January 2011, one of the goals that I publicly declared was weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. You see, I figured if I declared it publicly, then it would happen. Well, it doesn’t always fall into place like that. I joined the gym and was consistently hitting zumba and yoga classes three to four times weekly. My body was toning up and people noticed. However, my weight was not really changing. You see, the problem was that I had not learned to change my eating habits nor my approach to food.

Not my coach, but a good friend. This was taken in April 2013.

Not my coach, but a good friend. This was taken in April 2013.

Fast forward to the early spring of this year when I ran into a friend of mine. She too had always struggled with her weight, but had lost 30+ lbs.

She looked great and wanted to know if I was interested in joining her on a transformation. I am married to someone who sells for a living. I don’t buy into sales pitches easily. I blew her off at first.

Then, she followed up via email and said she needed people to practice on because she wanted to become a certified health coach. This was her second approach. I caved and said I would help. I didn’t think it would hurt.

No matter what I have weighed, in shape or not, I have never shared my weight with anyone except the doctor’s office because they force you to step on that stupid scale. So, here I am shopping at Walmart declaring that I need to lose more than 50 pounds—that’s when it became real.

I said the number out loud and to a friend. I never shared that with anyone. Ever.

I realized it was not “a few pounds” but significant pounds that I needed to lose if I was going to be at my 1991 wedding weight. As I continued to shop around Walmart that day, I noticed how many people were overweight. It really began to sink in that I was not getting any younger and if I wanted to be happier with myself again and healthier in the long term, then I had to act. If I did not want to end up in a wheelchair shopping, then I had better do something. And, hey, I could try it for a month and see.

I started the Take Shape for Life program on 14 June. As of today, I have lost 60 pounds with another 10 to go. You see, I miscalculated the weight I needed to lose in order to be the size I was when I married my husband in 1991. This has not been easy. Detoxing from sugar and carbs that first week or two was awful. I was so cranky, even my family members were telling me to eat a bar. I wanted dinner ready right when I walked in the door, I was so famished. I could not look at food on the TV or in magazines because all I wanted to do was eat. I was totally focused on food like I never was before.

But, by the end of the week, I lost six pounds. This was my wakeup call regarding how many empty calories I was putting into my body and how often during the day I was doing this. After a month, my clothes, were fitting better. So, I pressed forward to the next month. Then, I started tracking what I was eating through My Fitness Pal app. Talk about another wakeup call: Do you know how many calories are in two Double Stuf Oreos?

I can tell you that there is no good time to start this. When I started this past summer, my children’s swim season was at its height and nothing smells better at 6 am than a Chick-Fil-A sandwich. Or, maybe a hotdog at 9 am once the grill starts up – those are always yummy. Oh, did I mention the colossal donuts? You know, swimmers need carbs. Ack! The food was everywhere, but I could not partake. While I could not avoid the smells, I did at least avoid the visual. Did I mention that this is hard? Really hard. Let me tell you that losing weight as a middle-aged, 40-something mother of two teens is not for the faint of heart.

My good friend who also changed her life. This was in November 2013.

My good friend who also changed her life. This was in November 2013.

By the fall season, my old pants were falling off me. When I walked into a store in late October and purchased three new pairs of dress pants that did not have a “w” next to the size, I was elated. I was now one size away from my goal. When I would walk by a mirror and look, I would quickly think, who is that? It had been more than 15 years since my stomach was smaller than my chest. I started belting everything I wore to work until I was ready to start taking in my professional clothes to get tailored. The defining moment was when I tossed all of my bathing suits in the trash. Next summer, Momma’s going to need a smaller size for sure. Then I set aside summer shorts and shirts for donations. Elation. I can’t describe it any other way.

When I walk into a store, I have to remind myself that I no longer need to shop in the plus size section. My knee high boots are no longer tight. In fact, there’s so much more space around them, that when I replace them, I will need a smaller calf size. The weight loss has impacted every part of my body and for the better. That said, my annual checkup blood work in November revealed that the Take Shape for Life plan has positively influenced what’s inside and out. My numbers haven’t looked this good in years.

So, here’s what I have learned these last six months:

  1. I am an emotional eater. Stress and boredom do me in.
  2. I can survive, and be healthy, on many less calories than I was consuming before as long as they provide good nutrition and sustain me until the next small meal.
  3. When I eat out, I can choose where I eat and what I put into my body.
  4. The visual reward of being healthier lasts much longer than the food I eat.
  5. This is not easy, but a support system and encouragement from my coach, family and friends is tremendously motivating.

I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I know how hard this is. I am Italian and German. If you think we don’t love food, then you are mistaken. I grew up with a Mom who cooked and baked like a professional. But if I can do this, anyone can. Really.

If you want to change your life and your health, please make a move. Do something. You will not regret it.