Category Archives: Lifestyle

Mardi Gras, Travel, Wedding Things and Such…

It’s been a few weeks since I said anything here, and I appreciate the messages and comments asking if I’m okay. I’m okay. It’s just a busy time, and blogging hasn’t been a priority. I have to say that I still enjoy it though, so I’m happy to be spending quiet time at home today.

I’m down a little over 80 pounds, which hasn’t changed much in the last month. I’m not exercising much, but I hope that if I exercise it will break this plateau. The numbers haven’t moved in the last few weeks, but I can wear jeans that I couldn’t wear at the beginning of the year. Two pairs of jeans that have been too tight since 2013 now fit again. One is even so big that people keep suggesting that I buy smaller pants.

The picture on the left is from about five months ago when I finished dead last at the New Orleans Saints 5k, and the picture on the right is from a few weeks ago. I’m obviously still big, but I feel so much smaller and lighter on my feet than I did that day. I’m incredibly proud of my progress, but I’m still striving to change what’s in my heart and head. My life’s purpose is not to lose weight; it’s to love people.

I’m doing an in-depth study of the book, “Made to Crave,” by Lisa TerKeurst, which unpacks the reality that God made us to crave Him, not food. People here have suggested that I read it in the past. Is anyone else reading it now? Has anyone read it?

It’s incredible how much my life has completely changed in the last several years, and I’m seriously ready for God to change this part of me too. The number on the scale is important, in that, I need to live at a healthy weight, but none of that will really change for good I don’t invite God in to really change the way I feel about food.

 

Speaking change…my wedding is only a few months away, and everything is going well so far. People keep asking if I’m stressed, but it hasn’t been stressful at all since I wrapped my head around the fact that I get to spend my life with Michael.

The venue, the food for the reception and the registries are complete. We’ve secured a block of hotel rooms, and the invitations are sitting in my kitchen waiting to be addressed. It’s still a bit early for that, I suppose, but I’m ready to do this. My soon-to-be sister-in-law is an event planner for one of the most popular venues in New Orleans, and she has been a tremendous help! I’m thankful for my future family of chefs too because they’ve made the process of choosing foods so easy for me.

I’ve always joked about want to register everywhere if and when I actually got married, and it was, indeed, as much fun as I thought it would be! It was most fun at Bed Bath and Beyond because they made a big deal about it, and I got to use the scanner gun thing. Target was cool too because I could scan things with my phone. There’s no way I’ll get everything that I scanned, but it’s okay. It was one of my favorite parts of wedding preparations so far.

Last week I came home to a gift from my Amazon registry, and I want to thank Connie for the beautiful salt and pepper shakers. I’ve loved them for years, and I was so touched to receive such a sweet surprise from someone from my blog. Thank you so much, Connie! It really made my day! I’m already using them, and Michael gets to use them too when I cook for him too.

Have I mentioned that I cannot wait until we live in the same place? It’s going to be an adjustment, but I’m looking forward to when I can go to sleep and wake up with him everyday. Is it June yet??

My plan (after blogging) today is to finish up our little wedding website. I enjoy quiet weekends from time to time, and I carved out some time to relax at home this weekend because it’s crazy in my neighborhood due to Mardi Gras and the NBA All-Star game. (Seriously, it took 45 minutes to get from my exit to my parking garage, and it usually only takes 3 to 5 minutes.) Next week I’ll be in San Francisco skipping out on the revelry, and I’ll be back when Carnival Season is over.

I’m looking forward to heading back to California because it’s been several years since I was last there, and any time that I get to spend with Leslie is awesome. She’s one of my closest friends, and I never would have met her if I hadn’t started this blog. Isn’t the internet cool like that?

Now Leslie is like family. I’m excited to meet up with her in San Francisco, and I’m excited that she’ll fulfill such an important role in my wedding this summer.

Life is good right now. It’s not always easy or perfect, but I have so much peace. I’m joyful and hopeful about what’s God has done and is doing in my life. I’m in awe, and I’m thankful.

 

 

 

Wedding Things

I can’t believe that January will be over next week. I have a long road ahead, but it feels good to be moving in a healthy direction. I’ve lost 80 pounds in nearly four months, and that’s just a fraction of the changes that are happening in my life right now.

I’m getting married in June, and last week we picked the venue, booked the date, decided on the cakes (yes, wedding cake and groom’s cake) and chose the menu. We’ll have 3 choices for the main course, heavy hors de vours and an open bar. Michael and I don’t drink much, but we figured some of our guests will enjoy it.

I came up with a wedding hashtag (because that’s how my brain works,) and I started a wedding registry on Amazon over the weekend too. (Who knew that was a thing?!) And we will probably register at Bed Bath and Beyond as well. Can’t we register at Target too? Ha…

It’s hard to shop for wedding dresses, but thanks to Kiyonna, I’m pretty sure I know which dress I’ll buy. Kiyonna is one of my favorite brands, and though my size is changing too much to order now, I’m looking forward to trying on the dress in the spring.

I’m thankful that companies like Kiyonna exist because, honestly, I’ve lost about 80 pounds, in addition to what I kept off before, and I’m still too big to have many choices at a place like David’s Bridal. Wedding dresses tend to run small (at least that’s what I’ve heard,) and they go up to size 26. That’s about where I am in now in traditional plus sizes. There’s just no way I’d be willing to order a dress without having an idea of how it’ll look or if it’ll even fit. No way, man….

The next few months will be busy. Michael is in the process of taking his CPA exams, we’re traveling a few times in the coming weeks and months, and we’re looking for a new place to live. I’ve been in the same apartment for nearly 5 years, but it’s kind of small for two people.

I’m looking forward to the changes that are coming, and I’m so thankful for everything happening in my life right now. 2017 is already a good year, and I’m looking forward to enjoying it even more.

 

End of the Year Reflections

I suppose the end of the year always makes me reflective, and this year is no different. Many of my friends are so glad that 2016 is almost over, and there’s something so hopeful about starting  a new year. I’m ready for that too, but 2016 was a great year for me.

At the end of 2015 I started going into an office everyday, and over a year later I had no idea that I could like that so much. I’ve always enjoyed being around people, but getting to work with the people I see everyday has added so much happiness to my life. I feel so much joy when I think about the people whose lives have been touched, and I feel thankful for those who’ve touched mine.

 

I struggled to let go of people who weren’t good for me at the end of 2015 too. Letting go of those people made it possible for me to meet someone who actually loves me.

I technically met Michael for the first time in December of 2015, but I started having feelings for him when we attended a Bible study together at the beginning of the year. That time of intimacy and healing among friends led me to fall in love with that man while allowing God to move in our lives and heal us from past hurts.

In the Spring I had the most terrifying experience of my life when Mom had, not one, but two strokes. I was so afraid of losing her for a while, but God was gracious once again. I knew at that point that I wasn’t turning away from Him, and I told Him that no matter what, I needed Him to continue holding me. God really showed off His strength in my weakness throughout that time, and my faith was renewed over and over as a result.

When the Summer came I got health insurance for the first time in a long while, and I found a new doctor who suggested that I have weight-loss surgery. My process was streamlined because of my experience with Weight Watchers, and on September 28th I went through with the surgery.

The surgery took much more out of me than I realized it would, and the healing process felt a little like hell on earth. I faced feelings of regret, fear and faced an unexpected lack of self-confidence. I was miserable for many weeks, but the weight started coming off. As hard as it was I am so thankful that I went through that process. I’m also thankful for the opportunities I have now to remind others that it will eventually be okay again…better than okay.

Throughout the post-op, healing process I was reminded how loved I am. My mom, Michael and a few friends did everything they could to make me happy and comfortable even when I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was forced to recognize how loved I am for no reason other than people choose to love me. That was a pretty awesome realization.

Now I’m moving into 2017 planning a wedding to a man who makes my life feel like a Hallmark movie. Seriously though…we compliment each other well.  I don’t have dreams of a big, crazy wedding, but I can’t wait to get it done so I can wake up next to him everyday. I spent a big part of the afternoon researching venues and talking with friends who have gone through this process in the area. I think I may have found the perfect place, but I won’t know more until after the holidays (next week maybe.)

There’s so much to be thankful for at the end of each year, but this year has been pretty wonderful overall. It wasn’t all easy, but the positives outweighed the negatives for me.

I don’t think life is patterned in yearly segments, but I am looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings. I hope you are too.

Happy New Year!

 

He Asked Me To Marry Him Today

It was nearly eight years ago when I started sharing the details of my life here, and throughout that time I’ve grown and changed so much that it would be hard to explain to a stranger. Let’s just say that it has been an incredible journey filled with ups and downs.

This year wasn’t easy, but overall, it has been one of, if not the best, in my life, and it got even better today. Michael asked me to marry him, and I said yes. 

I’ve prayed/wished/hoped/dreamed of being loved by a tall, strong, handsome, smart, Jesus-loving man who understands me and accepts me for as long as I can remember, and at the beginning of the year I found him.

We have been through some major life events together over the last year, and today added a pretty big milestone to that list.

I didn’t think this week with my family could get any better than it already was, but Michael proved me wrong. This was already the best Christmas season ever, and now it’s even better than that. I can’t believe I’m going to be Mrs. Michael. 😉

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays…

 

Hello, Normality

Last week was awesome. I felt good all week, and I am still feeling continued improvements on a daily basis. I went back to work last Monday, and being there made me feel so much better! It made me feel normal, which is something I had been craving lately.

kenlie-and-dadDad came into town on Tuesday. I was so happy to see him because it’s been almost a year since I was in Oklahoma. He was supposed to be in early afternoon, but due to delays he didn’t arrive until almost 7 pm. I worked until he arrived, then headed to the airport to pick him up once he landed. I didn’t realize how close my office is to the airport until last week, but that’s a good thing to know.

cafe-du-mondeI didn’t work Wednesday, so I could spend the day with Dad. We drove across the Causeway just because, and we had coffee at Cafe Du Monde every morning. Dad had beignets too, but oddly enough, I didn’t crave them at all. I seriously have not wanted anything sweet since I started the liquids phase prior to surgery, and that feels like a major win to me.

 

He met Michael the night he arrived, and we all drove to Mississippi to have dinner with Michael’s parents the following night. It was such a great evening, and it felt good to know that Dad really enjoyed his time with Michael’s family. Our dads chatted over dinner for hours, and I managed to eat two pieces of sushi.

kenlie-in-msI ordered a naruto roll, which was filled with spicy crab and wrapped in cucumber. I didn’t eat the cucumber, but I did manage to eat the inside of two pieces. I also ate a shrimp, a scallop and a few bites of zucchini that Michael and his mom shared with me.

We all laughed when we saw the picture we took together after dinner because Michael’s dad doesn’t smile in photos. Michael joked that catching his dad smiling in a photo is like seeing Big Foot. My mom and I are spending Thanksgiving with them, so maybe I’ll have to tell him jokes. I’ll just need to come up with a few funny ones first.

On Thursday I had to work, so I brought Dad to the office with me. My space was being renovated (because I have an awesome director who recognized that I needed more room,) but it was cool to show Dad where I work. I even tried out my new desk and chair while he was there. That afternoon I had to attend a networking thing, so Dad went to that with me too. I kept apologizing that we had to go to the meeting, but Dad actually enjoyed himself a lot. I think we both learned a few things too.

Later that evening Dad joined me for rehearsal at church. I’m a vocal leader on the worship team, and it was so good to be back in rehearsal with my people. Dad got to visit with my pastor for a few minutes, then I took him to Trader Joe’s for the first time. After that, Michael joined us at my place for dinner.

Dad flew back to Oklahoma on Friday morning. I dropped him off at the airport then headed into the office. When I got there my boss, who is also one of the best friends I’ve ever had, thought I had gone in to work, but my plan was to exercise. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of exercising, but she insisted that I exercise instead. Everyone in the office felt that way. (How cool is it to work in an uplifting environment that also has a state of the art gym on site?) I walked around the track because the treadmill still makes me nervous for some reason, then I worked.

By the end of the week I was beat, but I still had a weekend to enjoy. I spent Friday night at home, and friends stopped by for a few minutes. I spent Saturday with Mom, and we shopped in a town that’s about an hour away from each of us. I bought a pair of jeans that was a size smaller than I expected, and I bought a few other fall items that were on clearance. (Why pay full price when my size is, apparently, changing?)

On Sunday I lead worship at church for the first time in weeks, and it felt so good to be back. Singing is one of my passions, serving Jesus and one of my passions, and I love connecting people with Him. I missed doing it, and even though I was a little more tired than usual, I jumped right back in. The entire worship experience was awesome, and after that I spent the day with Michael’s family. This time they came to New Orleans, and we had a great day. We went to dinner last night, where I ate a few bites of delicious food. I also spent a lot of time talking and trying not to eat too quickly.

I’m happy to say that I tolerated the foods I tried all week. My weight-loss seems to be stalled, but there’s not much I can do about that, apart from being more active and practicing patience. I’m adding to my step count each day, but I know that I need to be more intentional about walking. The treadmill still makes me nervous, but I made an exercise date with a friend tomorrow. She’s going to meet me at work, and we’re going to walk together.

After a relaxing Monday, in which I planned out my week and some holiday events, I am heading back into the office tomorrow. I’m progressing enough that I’m starting to feel good about it, but I am still dealing with emotions. (More on that later.)

I greatly appreciate every kind and supportive comment and all of the prayers and encouragement while I was healing. If you took the time to be there for me, then I sincerely thank you.

Let’s hope this is the beginning of my newer, healthier life…

 

Finally! Happy Monday!

I feel so much better! It’s been almost a month since my surgery, and I finally feel like myself again. I’m walking more, spending time with friends and getting back to normal. I’m even going into the office for a while today.

It hasn’t been easy, but it seems like the hardest part is over. Now I just need to continue trusting the process, being patient and living my life without focusing on the scale for a while. I think if I do those things, my weight will decrease without me worrying about it.

The last several days have been good, and I’m so incredibly thankful for it.

 

The Aftermath: The Truth About Weight-Loss Surgery

I seriously wish I had something to talk about right now, apart from my surgery and healing process, but I don’t. It has consumed the last two weeks since I’ve been home from the hospital.

Today was emotional for me, just like many other days in the last two weeks. The difference today was that I feel stronger than I have in a while. My heart still races when I walk out of my apartment down the long hallway, to the elevator, then to another elevator, then to my car. I’m still nervous each morning as I step into the shower, but I’m doing it.

I’m struggling with the things I’m missing right now:

  • Eating Food – I haven’t chewed a piece of of food in a month, and I still have a week and a half to go.
  • Singing – I can do it, but it takes my breath away. Leading people into worship at church is one of my favorite privileges, but I need to continue to heal before I do it again.
  • Snuggling and Hugging – We can hold hands, and we do. I just can’t curl up with him to watch a movie or anything. My top love language is physical touch, so that’s been difficult for me. I haven’t hugged many people in the last few weeks, which is categorically unlike me.
  • Shopping – I like the instant gratification that comes from doing things like this, but I’ve been too tired to bother.
  • Cooking – It would be too hard to cook right now since I can’t eat, but I’ll be able to make a few recipes from SkinnyTaste.com in the coming weeks. I can’t wait because I just want to feel normal again.
  • Spending Time with Friends – I had a couple of visitors this week, they brought so much light into my day! I’m so thankful that I have such amazing friends. I just miss seeing them and doing things we usually do together.

I know it sounds like I’m complaining, and I’m not trying to. I’m just trying to express how difficult it is to experience all of these changes at one time. It’s insane.

A few times today I cried and said that I wished I could take it all back and that if I could go back in time I wouldn’t go through with surgery. I know how stupid that sounds even as it’s coming out of my mouth. I just want want to feel like my old, energetic-enough-to-get-through-the-day-and-night self.

What I have been reminded of over the last couple of weeks is that I’m surrounded by people who love me. Mom and Michael are both sincerely willing to do every little thing I need. I’ve acted like a baby. I’ve been difficult to handle because I’m dealing with anger over being hungry and tired. They’ve both stopped me in my tracks and prayed for me until I felt better.

Dad is coming to visit next week, which makes me happy too. I’m also feeling so much better today that I think I may head back to work next week. I’ll probably work less than I do regularly, but it gives me something to look forward to.

It’s still hard, but it’s getting easier. I’m finally out of the haze of discomfort that I’ve been in, so I’m starting to feel like things might be okay soon. The hardest part is almost over, and that’s a relief.

Surgical recovery is different for everyone; I know that. I also know that no one seems to remember being in so much pain or needing much time to heal, so I’ve documented this pretty closely. I don’t want it to define me, but I also don’t want to forget how hard I had to work for this.

When there’s a time down the road when I have to do something hard I’ll look at posts like this one, or the posts about the 5k I finished in last place when I weighed well over 350 pounds. I’ll remind myself that I’ve gone through hard things before and that I can do it again.

 

 

 

 

Less Than Two Weeks After Weight-Loss Surgery

It’s been almost two weeks since I had surgery. I wish I could say that I feel better, but I don’t. I actually feel pretty terrible. I’ve made some great strides in terms of healing. I don’t feel pain or bloating anymore, which is awesome. I’ve dropped about 40 pounds, which is also awesome. I’m just miserable too.

Saturday I spent the day in the emergency room because I was dehydrated. My dear friend, Brandon, came down from New York to visit me. He brought me tea from Starbucks (and gift cards to use when I can tolerate it better later.) He spent time inside with me, but on Saturday we ventured out for a walk.

brandon-and-kenlieMy energy level is at zero. I’m not in much pain at all, but I’m exhausted. Just taking the elevator and walking the length of the lobby to him made me tired and shaky. He knew we’d go slow, and we did. After stopping several times on one block (the length of my building) I told him I could go another block. I was wrong. 

We stopped so I could lean against a wall, and he snapped a selfie of us. He immediately noticed that I was leaning into him, cold and sweaty and started walking back toward my building.

When we accessed the back entrance I immediately sat down. I felt dizzy and sweaty even though I also felt cold. I think I passed out because the next thing I remember was Brandon saying, “Kenlie, wake up. Look at me. Focus on your breathing. Keep your eyes open.” It felt like this phase lasted for an eternity, but they said it was about 20 minutes.

At that point Brandon called Michael, who was upstairs doing my laundry, and he came down. They quickly made the decision to call an ambulance, and Michael went into first-responder mode. (He’s an Eagle Scout, and he used to work as a first-responder, which I was thankful for yesterday.) Bran continued to get me to look at him, and all I can remember is looking at his chin and trying desperately to open my eyes.

The ambulance arrived in less than two minutes – one of the perks of living in the center of downtown, and it only took about two more minutes to reach the hospital once they hooked me up to fluids and checked my vitals.

I spent the next several hours at the emergency room, where I was greeted by a friendly anddehydrated empathetic doctor. When I told him what was happening he said he’d be miserable and much crankier than I  if he had only had 60 calories so far too.

They ran several tests and gave me two liters of fluid. The second bag even had a few added calories, and I was relieved that I’d be hydrated again soon. (Seriously, can’t I just lie around with an IV for the next few weeks?)

After several hours they released me and told me to see my primary at some point early in the week.

I know I’ve said it already, but this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done…ever. I’m exhausted all the time, but I’m finally able to sleep in bed. I couldn’t do that a week ago. I haven’t eaten anything since September 15th, which was almost a month ago. I don’t know anyone who had to do liquids that long prior to surgery, and I’m still a few weeks away from eating semi-solid foods like eggs and mozzarella sticks. (That’s a day I’m looking forward to.)

In a few days I can start consuming pre-made protein shakes, which should help because the powder one I usually love is currently the most appalling and disgusting thing on the planet. I seriously have more disdain for the protein shakes than I do for the current presidential candidates!

I can also start “eating” Greek yogurt in a few days, and I hope my body can tolerate it because I’d like to take advantage of the fact that we finally have a Trader Joe’s in town.

My mom has been my champion, and my boyfriend has been amazing too. Their love for me is so evident, and I’m thankful (even though I’m also cranky.) Dad is coming down to visit later this month, and I hope and pray that I’m doing better by then.

Right now I’m struggling. I can’t believe I did this to myself. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t know it would be this hard. If I had known I wouldn’t have done it. I’m not kidding.

People who have experienced this surgery say that I’ll look back at some point and think it was worth it. I hope that’s true. I’m pretty sure I know it’s true, but it doesn’t feel that way right now.

I live my life by choosing to look at the positive, but right now it’s hard to see. I hope I see the bright side soon because I can’t be bothered being sad for long.

Better Than Yesterday

My attitude changed dramatically after yesterday’s blog post. People started praying for me, and Michael and I prayed together too. It was so cool to realize that while I was intentionally worshiping God I felt no pain at all.

I was a little sore throughout the second part of the day yesterday, but I went to bed last night in very little pain and woke up the same way. I also accomplished a major post-surgical goal (insert poop emoji,) which felt great.

I’m still tired after basic things like showering. It’ been a week since I’ve cared about my hair and makeup, and I still don’t care right now. All I’m doing these days is drinking liquids and walking. I have also spent more time outside in the last few days because the weather has been perfect (at least as perfect as it gets around here.)

Life is so quiet right now, and I’m more disconnected from the internet than I can remember. I’m thankful that I have this break and even more thankful that I have some fun things to look forward to later this week.

My favorite guy from New York will be here this weekend, and it has been way too long since I last saw him. Michael and I also plan to spend some time with friends from our church in a comfortable environment that won’t be difficult for me.

I’m also down 30 pounds since the liquids phase began almost 3 weeks ago, which is a small reminder that the foggy pain I felt most of the week is worth it.

 

 

I Don’t Want Everything To Change

I’ve been extremely open about the fact that I’m having weight-loss surgery this week, and the majority of people have been encouraging.

I keep hearing that my entire life is about to change, and people say that with such hope. That statement, which always comes from well-meaning people, is so discouraging to me.

I don’t want my entire life to change. I want to get my weight and habits under control, but I’m already genuinely happy with my life. I’ve had to work through a lot of things to get to this point, and I just want everyday things to be easier.

My relationships with God and among friends and family are stronger than ever, and I have the love of a man who has walked in my shoes. He’s the one I’ve been waiting for, and I honestly feel like I couldn’t ask for more.

I have a job that allows me to share joy with people everyday. I get to offer hope to people when they need it, and they encourage me as much as I encourage them.

Mom’s health has improved significantly since she had strokes in April, and Dad seems pretty healthy too.

My home is cozy and comfortable, my church family is awesome, and all of these things make this season of life a beautiful one.

I feel more loved, fulfilled and valued than ever could have imagined, and I don’t want any of this to change. I just want my body to shrink. I want to move more easily throughout the airport as I fly to Colorado with Mom and Michael at Christmas, and I want to enjoy certain activities that are currently prohibited due to my size.

I believe that change is a good thing. I never want to stop evolving, so when I hear someone tell me that it’s all about to change I try to remember how much has changed already. So many things had to fall into place before major surgery/weight-loss became an option.

Good grief! I’m tired of focusing on the topics surrounding my body, and I’ve taken time to serve in areas that allow me to focus on other things. I just can’t escape these thoughts right now. I’m so excited, nervous, happy, anxious, ready, curious, etc.

I’m just ready.