One Month Later

It’s been a few days since I looked at my blog because I’ve been busy with things that are more important, but now it’s time for an update. My aunt, Debbie, came into town last week because her youngest granddaughter, who’s only four years old, has a tumor on her brain. it didn’t look good when she arrived, but after a six hour surgery we’ve learned that she does not have cancer. We’re so relieved, and it feels good to know that she’ll be able to go home without having radiation or anything else that could harm someone as little as she is. She’s laughing and playing now, and it will be years before she understands the severity of what she was facing going into that hospital. Kids are so resilient, and we’re all so thankful that she’s going to be okay.

It has been one month since I have consumed a sugary drink from Starbucks, and the same goes for doughnuts. If you don’t struggle with food, then you may not be capable of understanding how empowered I feel as a result.  That’s okay. You don’t need to. I feel awesome because I’m no longer a slave to caramel macchiatos and fresh glazed doughnuts even though I’m still a regular at Starbucks.

Starbucks New Orleans LA

Shannon and Ariel love coffee as much as I do, and they have helped me stay accountable.

Last week I decided that since I was feeling so good about not eating those sugary things, that I’d add all other sugary things as well. I decided to try one day without consuming sugary snacks, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I decided to try it again the following day, and I was successful in that too. Starting now, for the next month, I’m limiting sweets to Saturdays, but I was mindful of what I ate over the weekend as well because I was reminded of how incredible I feel when I’m in control.

I have a long way to go, but I’ve made more progress in the last month than I have in years. A month ago I was completely fed up and disgusted with myself, and today I feel like there’s hope for me. I’m taking it one day at a time, and I’m happier with myself than I’ve been in a long time as a result.

What’s your trigger?  Do you prefer sweet or savory foods? Do you have any tips for staying in control of your cravings?

 

 

 

Sneaky Addictions

If you asked me if I struggle with addiction, my quick answer would be no. I’m not addicted to alcohol, and I’ve never even contemplated using drugs (with exception of that one time that I considered smoking something at a Pearl Jam show at Bonnaroo.)

Drugs and alcohol don’t do it for me. I enjoy a glass of champagne from time to time, and I’m not opposed to drinking a beer or two at a game or out with friends. It’s just not my thing, but ‘my thing’ definitely exists.

I don’t have caffeine daily, but I have it most days. When I spend a few days away from Starbucks, I get a fairly strong urge to go. It’s safe to say that my new found love for Passion Tango Tea (unsweetened) isn’t going to lead to waking up in an alley somewhere, but I do recognize that I could easily become addicted to Starbucks and those cute little gold stars if I’m not already.

Starbucks Passion Tango Tea

A few days ago I spent about an hour without access to my cell phone, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. At one point, I needed to call Dad, and I couldn’t. I also missed calls from Mom, who seemed a little worried that she couldn’t reach me (because I’m usually so accessible.) I couldn’t post a photo of something cool that I saw on Instagram, nor could I waste time wondering why Facebook wasn’t showing me anything new. I couldn’t text my friends to tell them how crazy it feels to be without my cell phone for an hour. The number of times that I reached for my phone, which wasn’t there, was ridiculous.

I’m addicted to food too, which is a tricky thing. We all need it to survive, but I often crave more of it than I should. I’m learning learning to accept that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying food. I like it. I like the things that we associate with it too – being with friends, celebrations, comfort, etc. I just want to continue trying to control my intake because whether we’re talking about Apple products or coffee or most other things that interest me, moderation is the key to living a healthy life.

Sugar seems to be the basis of my food addiction. I’m not a doctor, but I know my body pretty well. I also know that sugar is hidden in a lot of things, and I’m striving to avoid those things. My avoidance comes from a desire to be healthier and fitter than I am now, and right now that seems more important than eating dessert or using pecan creamer in my coffee.

Right now it feels like I’m headed in the right direction, and I find myself thinking about what else I can do to make progress. I like this phase a lot more than the phase that I was in prior to it. I can honestly say that I’m trying, and I hope to see some results that will motivate me to continue down a healthier path to self-control.

Do you have any addictions that may not seem like a big deal? Do you call it something else?

 

 

 

I Can’t Believe That It’s Been Almost Three Years

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost three years to the day since Uncle Wesley died. I was pretty lost during that time.  I lacked faith in myself and in God. I struggled with my beliefs, my utter disdain for people in church and my lack of understanding in why someone like Uncle Wesley had to suffer so viscously.  I also struggled with guilt because I was so relieved that my parents were both healthy.

I was in a bad place, and one Sunday after a week that we were’t sure if he would live through, my uncle preached an entire sermon about faith. I talked about it on my blog right after it happened.  He believed in God, and he had faith that God’s will was best until his last breath.  It’s still hard for me to think of the last night that I saw him without getting teary-eyed.  He told Mom that he loved her, and with one tear streaming down his closed eye, he smiled as he went on to meet Jesus.

He knew how I felt about church and God, but he never failed to remind me of God’s love for me. He accepted me even though I was a complete mess, and it was obvious that he was at peace in spite of his imperfect life. I talked about that on my blog as well.

…feeling the peace that surrounds him already and the faith he has as he spends his last few days on earth has truly been a testament of his authentic belief to me.  People professing to be “christians” usually just piss me off, but Uncle Wesley has shown me what an imperfect human’s life should look like at its best and its worst.

I was filled with a lot of bitterness and anger at that time.  I was completely lacking in direction, and I was hanging on to hope by a thread.  I had no idea that the next few years would lead to extraordinary life change, but it did.

In December of 2012 I met my friend, Jeff, at the mall through my friend, Shannon, and I couldn’t have imagined that he’d become such a close friend!  As we stood by the makeup counter at Macy’s (waiting for our friends) he invited me to church.  Here’s how it went:

Jeff: Hey, you should come to church sometime.

Kenlie: Uh, I’ll be friends with you, but I’m not going to your (expletive) church.

Jeff: Okay.

During that conversation I explained to Jeff why I thought GOD was real, but I also explained why there was no way in hell I was going to church.

As a kid, I was in church (or church activities) several times a week. My dad was the pastor so I was there for EVERYTHING whether I wanted to be or not. I had to put a smile on my face and go regardless of what was happening in my life. I had to sing whether I wanted to or not.  I saw good things happen, and I saw a lot of horrible things happen – things that hurt me, things that made me angry. I did what I was told to do because well-behaved kids do that, but I was never overly concerned about GOD’s presence in my life.

After meeting Jeff I spent the next several months going out of my way to curse and drink in front of him. I waited for him to judge me or tell me off, but he didn’t.  Instead we became friends and eventually, because it’s hard to say no to Candi, who is now his wife, I walked into church.

Now it’s no secret that I have a relationship with God. I love Jesus, and I often talk about how incredible it is that He loves me in spite of myself.  Uncle Wesley’s birthday passed earlier this week, and I smiled as I thought about what he would think of me now. The truth is he’d love me now just as he did then, but I wish he was still here so he could see the changes that have taken place in me.

I wish I could tell him that he was right, that I get it now, that I know God loves me, and that I love Him back.  I wish he could be here Sunday as I lead worship at my church because he loved hearing me sing and because he loved worshipping Jesus. I wish I could have conversations with him about faith. I wish we could sing southern gospel together like we did even when I was far from God. I wish I could talk about the verses in the Bible that have impacted me recently.  I just wish he was here.

Uncle Wesley and Me

There’s a lot of hope, peace and contentement when you believe in God. You get to cling to the fact that you’ll see your loved ones again in Heaven. I’m able to acknowledge that what’s happening in Uncle Wesley’s life today is far better than what would be happening if he were still alive.

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since he left earth. My life is different now, more settled…I’ve gained some weight, but I’ve also gained peace, friends who know all of my junk and love me anyway, a church family that is filled with other imperfect people who are working on being faith distributors. I’ve begun the process of healing from a time in which my entire world was rocked. I have a steady routine that I didn’t have back then, and I’m more honest with myself and the people around me than I’ve ever been before.

I miss my uncle, and many people that I love still miss him too. I know, in as much as my human brain can comprehend, that Uncle Wesley is in a far better place where he is.  I know that, but I miss him anyway.

 

 

 

 

Giving Thanks and Showing Thanks

I spend a lot of time being thankful for all of the good things in my life, and as the weather gets cooler and the pumpkins start showing up everywhere, I find myself feeling even more thankful for everything in my life.

I’ve been very open about my struggles lately, and one of the best ways that I’ve found to navigate through difficult times is to be thankful for all of the positive things.

I know it’s not the holiday season yet, but I’m starting early with thankfulness this year.  I want to make a positive impact on the people around me too, so I’m getting a head start now.  Here’s a list of things that I plan to do to take the focus off of me and to affect people positively over the next few months:

  • Write a letter to someone on paper or a card, put a stamp on it and mail it.  I love sending and receiving letters and cards in the mail, and one thing that I’m thankful for is that I have friends who enjoy sending cards and thoughtful little gifts.
  • Spend time with someone who may not love this time of year.  I love the holidays, but there are people who don’t feel that way.   Sometimes the holidays remind us of people we’ve lost and/or people who won’t be here to celebrate with us.
  • Spend the afternoon (or at least a couple of hours) in a coffee shop or bookstore simply to enjoy the surroundings.  I do this a lot, but I still wish I did it more often.  I’ve met some awesome people who have amazing stories that I might never have met without taking time to look up from my computer.  (I need to do the latter more, as I am currently sitting in a coffee shop…looking at my computer. Ha.)
  • Take a moment to think about the little things that make life good.  I write a lot, and I think I enjoy it because it helps me focus in on my thoughts, as I have a tendency to think about a million things at once.  This year, instead of filling my glass pumpkin with candy, I am filling it with fall-colored notes about my reasons to be thankful. I did it last year, and now it’s definitely a thing.  One note says, “I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the worship team at NOLA Church.”  Another says, “I’m thankful for my apartment, its location and the things in it.”  Some of the notes are about really big things while other are small, but when I look at the pumpkin which is stuffed full of blessings, I’m thankful for that too.

Pumpkin

  • Share something you have with a friend.  I like crafty things and baking so making something for someone just because will make everyone feel good.
  • Compliment someone everyday.  I’m pretty good at this already.  I tend to say what I think (when it’s positive) so it’s not weird for me to tell someone what I like about them.  I know that when someone takes time to compliment me, it means a lot.  I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

I’m not saying that focusing on the positive will eliminate every issue we have, but it will go a long way toward helping us get through it.  Last week in class, my professor said, “Optimism isn’t something that you have; it’s something that you do,” and I’m doing it.

 

Who Has the New iPhone 6 or 6 Plus?

I’m a slave to Apple.  I admit it.  When a new iPhone comes out, I want it.  I currently have a gold iPhone 5s, and it works beautifully.  There’s no reason for me to get a new phone. No. reason. Whatsoever. And yet, I find myself looking for reasons to justify it.

I’m pretty sure that I could trade in my phone, which means that it would cost very little, if anything, to upgrade, but do I really need to carry around a mini tablet just because it’s the latest thing?  (Yes. No. Ugh…but I want it! But do I really?)

The marketing team at Apple is brilliant because they know that people like me crave instant gratification.  They know that we’ll cave because we have to have the latest and greatest in technology, but this time, I wonder if it’s really worth the upgrade.

It seems as though all the newest iPhone has to offer is upgrades that are already available on Android devices.  I had a  Samsung Galaxy 4 at one point, and it was so big that it was overwhelming to use.  I couldn’t text with one hand because my thumb couldn’t reach the other side of the screen.  That was the thing I disliked most about my Galaxy, except that it wasn’t an iPhone.

I own a Macbook, an iPad, Apple TV and an iPhone.  If there’s an Apple version, I usually prefer it.  I like that everything works together seamlessly, and the folks at Apple count on it.

I’m not planning to upgrade right now, and that doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop wishing for the new iPhone 6.  The 6 Plus is too much.  It’s ridiculous, but the 6?  Yeah…I want that.

Are there any other Apple junkies here?  Have you already upgraded to the new iPhone?  If so, which one?  If not, do you plan to?

 

Regaining Weight and Regaining Control

Earlier this week I wrote a post about the anger that I was feeling, but I wasn’t ready to discuss how to change it.  Here’s an excerpt from what I said:

What can I say? I know that I should skip the venti iced nonfat caramel macchiato at Starbucks.  I also know that I should start my day with a workout instead of sleeping in for an extra half hour.  I know that I should swap out the food that I eat at restaurants for salads that I eat at home, and I know that I should drive by Krispy Kreme without stopping…ever. (Seriously, who needs a doughnut from Krispy Kreme?  They’re grossly overrated.)

Feeling angry sucks, and feeling angry and helpless sucks even more.  Verbally abusing myself won’t change anything either.  I understand that it works for some people, but I love myself too much to do it (at least most of the time.) Losing weight isn’t easy, but it’s possible.  How many times have I said that over the years?  Maybe it’s hard.  It’s obviously harder for me than I like to admit, but there are some simple concepts that would lead to big results if I’d simply do them:

  • Skip the calorie-laden drinks at Starbucks.  This seems like common sense, and it is.  I decided that I’d allow myself to drink them from time to time, which then became pretty frequent.  It’s fine to have a coffee or tea with no sugar and a splash of milk, but the 270 calories and load of sugar (even with the 16 grams if protein) just isn’t a good idea.  I don’t drink sodas. Why in the world would I drink sugary milk?
  • Exercise on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and a weekend day.  This is easy enough, and yet, I’ve gotten so incredibly lazy.  I don’t sit at home and watch TV or all day or anything, but I tend to leave my house shortly after noon (without eating lunch.)  I work as a private tutor during the week, and I go to class as well.  I lead a small group on Wednesday evenings and go to band practice on Thursday evenings.  I’m not lazy in a traditional sense, but I’m not making an effort to sweat before I leave home.  (Did I mention the cute, little gym upstairs at my building? I’m embarrassed to admit how long it’s been since I exercised in it.)
  • Prepare healthy foods that I can take with me on the go. I used to do this. It requires some extra effort, but I used to believe that Sunday nights existed for food prep.  At some point (a long time ago) that changed.  It needs to change again because a little effort goes a long way, and little changes like that go a long way.
  • Say NO to Krispy Kreme.  I know so many people who think that their doughnuts are sub-par, and they are.  I know it, but when I drive by, I want them.  I don’t always get them, but I get them more often than I should.  I used to love cokes.  I would drink them everyday.  I was a slave to them, and one day I stopped drinking them.  Now, years later, I think they’re so ridiculously disgusting.  Perhaps it’s time to have a similar experience with doughnuts.

If you talk to someone who has lost a significant amount of weight, if they’re being honest, they’ll probably tell you that it’s hard to get everything right all the time.  (I know this is true because I hear it often.)  I’m not sure if it gets easier or when, which means that I’m focusing on a couple of minor changes that will lead to better results.  Right now regaining control is my biggest concern, and I’m making a couple of minor adjustments to do just that.

My focus this month has surrounded Starbucks because I’m there frequently.  Exercising before Starbucks is better than not exercising, but skipping sugary coffee drinks is obviously better that that.  I’d like to see some changes in myself, and I’m giving up the macchiatos for the next month.  At that point, I’ll decide if I want to have one before limiting them again, but my guess is that I’ll be over them.  I don’t drink coffee everyday, but I like the environment.  My goal is to have unsweet tea or unsweet tea when I’m there.   I drink a lot of water there too because one of my favorite barista pals always reminds me to hydrate.

I’m also banning Krispy Kreme from my life for the next 30 days.  Am I the only one who feels like short-term goals are more manageable?  I’ve proven that making number goals without adjusting my habits doesn’t work.  Maybe now I can prove that creating goals in the form of new habits will, in fact, allow the number goals to work themselves out.

I’m much happier and much more relieved than I was when I wrote the previous post, but I’m still not happy with the fact that I let myself spin out of

I’m in Washington, D.C. right now, and I’m sticking to the Starbucks rule too.  I still can’t say that I’m in control, but I’m working on it again, which is more than I could say at the beginning of the week.

 

I’m Worn Out, But…

The last few weeks have felt incredibly busy and productive and slow moving all at the same time.  I made a big decision that I’m at peace with now, but I stressed over what was right for a few weeks first.  I also just took my last Summer exam, which means that I have two weeks to decompress from school before it starts again.  I don’t always whine about needing a break from school, but right now, I’m happy to have one.

I’ve gotten a lot accomplished, but I’m tired.  Last night I could sleep.  I usually snooze only a moment or two after my head hits the pillow, but I knew that I needed to be up at 4:45  am.  I’m not sure why it’s so hard to sleep when I know that I am starting my day early, but my mind just wouldn’t slow down last night.  At least I can say that as a result, I know that I aced my final exam.  I scored a 99% on my midterm for the same class, and I’m guessing that my final exam will be similarly scored.

I haven’t spent much time online, which seems to be a theme in my life these days.  I mean, I still post occasional photos of my iced, nonfat caramel macchiatos from Starbucks on Instagram from time to time, but I seem to consistently lack a need to connect here in the way that I used to. (I’ve been saying that a lot lately…at least when I’m here. Ha)

I’m weighing in at Mom’s house once a week, and it’s so refreshing to see the numbers on the scale inching down.  I’m not in the mood to be judged by the numbers here, but they’re moving in the right direction for the first time in quite some time.  I started tracking my food intake when I left Fitbloggin after visiting with friends who understand my weight issues, and I’m trying to make good choices one day at a time.

It’s funny.  Even at my lowest weight, which was 284 pounds, I was still obese.  I was just less obese than now, and it felt so much better (physically) than this.  I was more confident – not so much due to my size – but rather because I was in control.  I want the feelings of self-control to become second  nature again so I’m working on it.

The last few weeks have been tough, but I feel like I can finally relax again.  I’m worn out, but I’m happy.  I’m also keenly aware and thankful for everything that makes my life awesome.

 

Just Checking In

It’s finally Friday!  My week has been extraordinarly busy, and I got a lot more accomplished.  That said, the week has been dragging, and I’m so happy that the weekend is almost here.  I’m also thankful for the time that I got to spend with some awesome ladies last night.

Starbucks.jpg

After considering whether or not I wanted to purse a teaching certificate, I realized that it’s nor necessary for me.  I’d really prefer to teach at the collegiate level, which means that I can get a Master’s in Communications and work a second job as an adjunct professor.  At that point, I can decide whether or not to pursue a Ph. D.  (How cool would it be to call me Dr. Kenlie? Ha.)

I took another giant life step forward this week.  I’m not ready to discuss it online, but I’m feeling confident about my future, secure in my faith in God and ready to see what else He has planned for me.

As I continue to evolve, I find myself changing the way that I do things online.  There are certain things that I just don’t plan to seek approval for anymore, which means that I don’t have much to say today.

Throughout the last week, I’ve continued to be more mindful about what I eat, but I still need to find my way back into a healthy cardio groove.

Finals are coming up this week, and I’m ready for class to be over.  I love school, but I do not love every class.  I’m learning, but I’m worn and looking forward to the two week break after my last final exam on Wednesday.

Have I mentioned how thankful I am for the work that God is doing in my life right now?  I don’t wish to elaborate, at least for now, but I’m in a very good place and grateful for it.

Does anyone else feel like this week was long and busy?

 

When I Grow Up

I’m officially 34 years old now, and as I look back at the last year, I feel pretty awesome about what lies ahead.

I talk about school a lot, but I rarely get specific. I’m studying public relations and marketing, but I’ve also inadvertently used my electives to study health sciences.

I guess it’s weird to be a student at my age, but I like it. In fact, I love being in the classroom, and recently I joked that if I could get paid to go to school, I’d do it forever. Then a light bulb went off in my mind. I could be a teacher.

I’ve always joked that I like money too much to teach, but under the right circumstances, it could be awesome! It would give me the opportunity to help others learn, and it would also create a level of stability in my career that I haven’t experienced up to this point. It would also allow me to spend time traveling, which is something that I enjoy. (I’m writing this post from a plane too.)

Living in New Orleans has been a better experience than I ever imagined, but I can see myself moving on at some point. Why not get a teaching certificate first?

I love learning, and there’s something so awesome about seeing a child who didn’t think he could do it realize that he could. (I experienced that earlier this year, and I’d like to again.)

I realize that it takes a certain kind of person to teach, but I think it’s something that I’d be good at. My mom was a teacher, and my sister is a teacher now. Maybe it runs in my blood?

If I go into teaching, I’ll still be involved in other things, but I think that’s okay. I realize that it’s an important decision to make before I commit to getting certified, but I have a few months to think about it. I’ve just been thinking about it a lot recently, and it seems like a great idea.

Are there any teachers reading this? If so, what made you decide to become an educator? What do you love about it? What do you wish you could change?