Category Archives: Lifestyle

My Mom Had A Stroke (Actually, She Had Two)

The last seven days have been the most terrifying of my life. Mom flew in one day after I did, and when she arrived I told her that we needed to go to the Emergency Room. The right side of her face was droopy, and she was having a hard time saying her words. She refused to go.

She lost her job (and healthcare benefits last year) and has looked all over to find work. She’s approaching her mid-sixties, and even with her incredible work background and education she hasn’t found work. She was willing to do things way beneath her level of expertise, but she lives in a very small, oppressive area where life has been hard over the last year.

My mom carries the stress of her family on her shoulders. She’s the strongest person I know, but she’s tired. My aunt Debbie has been incredibly sick for over a year, and before that her granddaughter was fighting cancer. Mom cares about them and worries about them. She’s been under a lot of pressure, though who knows if that’s why she had the stroke?

A couple days after refusing to go to the ER, my aunt called me and urged me to convince her. I left work knowing that Mom would protest, but this time she didn’t. She knew things were getting worse, so I met her at the ER.

The next several days were rough. My sister caught the next flight out when I texted her that Mom’s CT scan showed that he did, in fact, have a stroke. (Mom assumed it was Bell’s Palsy.) She spent that night at her local hospital, and they released her. Before she arrived at home, which is only a few minutes away, my sister brought her back to the ER because she couldn’t lift her arm and leg. She had experienced another stroke.

At that point they sent her to a hospital near my home in New Orleans. She went through several tests, and they confirmed that she had a blog clot in her brain. It’s really small, so the doctor prescribed meds that should dissolve it over the next few weeks.

My sister and I brought her home last night, and she seems much better than she did when she entered the hospital. She had two strokes in one week though, which makes the risk much higher that she’ll have another one over the next few weeks. They gave her a pretty strong dose of medicine, which should (hopefully) counteract that.

I know that God is in complete control of this situation (and that He’s here in spite of my fears.) I just want Mom to be okay, and I am praying and believing that she will be.

My sister goes home tomorrow, which means that I’ll spend as much time with Mom as possible. I’ve missed several days of work, which I wouldn’t change for a minute. I just want to be sure that she’s okay too.

I’ve never been so scared in my life. I wish I could say that I wasn’t worried at all, but I’m human…and I’m trying to have faith. I’ve felt a lot of peace, which seems like enough.

We’ve been surrounded, supported and uplifted by people who love us and were willing to put that love into action this week, and I’m so utterly thankful for that. If you’re a person who prayers please pray for my family, especially for Mom.

 

My Life and Work in SHAPE Magazine

When I got to work today I learned that SHAPE Magazine posted an article about where I work, why I love it and how I see myself these days, and I’m sharing it here because it feels like a good update on my life.

kenlie-tiggman

Check it out, and share your gym stories and/or what you’re doing to promote a healthy lifestyle for yourself.

http://www.shape.com/weight-loss/success-stories/im-300-pounds-and-i-found-my-dream-job%E2%80%94-fitness

 

Friend Makin’ Mondays: Spring is Here

It was nice to reconnect with a few old friends last week, and it was also fun to connect with a couple of new people. That’s what I love about Friend Makin’ Mondays, and I hope you guys will hang with me as we continue to grow together again.

wpid-friend-makin-monday-for-post3-300x179

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Spring is Here

  1. What city do you currently live in? New Orleans, LA
  2. What’s the weather like where you are? It’s perfect right now. Of course it could always rain tomorrow. 😉 Seriously though, it’s been gorgeous (70’s and breezy.) I wish it was this beautiful all year!
  3. When you eat at a restaurant do you prefer to eat inside or outside? At this time of year I don’t mind eating outside, but when it gets hotter I usually prefer the a/c.
  4. What is your favorite season? It was always Winter until I moved to New Orleans. Now I think early Spring is my favorite here (even though I still love Winter most.)
  5. When you go on vacation do you prefer the beach or the mountains? It depends. I always love a beach vacation, but I love spending time with my family at their home in the Rockies.
  6. What do you like most about Spring? The beautiful temperatures, blue skies and baseball season. I loved baseball more before I lived in New Orleans too, but I still catch a game here and there.
  7. Share one of the greatest moments of Spring from your childhood. When I was 5 years old (maybe younger) I found the golden egg at an Easter egg hunt, and I still have the trophy I won. Ha
  8. Do you prefer to wear shorts, capris or dresses at this time of year? Or do you prefer something else? This lady does not wear shorts. I wouldn’t be opposed to some brightly colored bermudas if I could find them, but I’m most comfortable in dresses. They make me look put together, and they’re usually comfortable too.
  9. What do you miss about Winter? Snow…We don’t really have Winter here in New Orleans, but I travel enough that I get to enjoy snow from time to time.
  10. What do you look forward to about Summer? Swimming!

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and share you link in the comments! Also remember to take a few minutes to comment on posts that others share.

Happy Monday, Friends!

 

 

An Open Letter to Chris McClarney: Thank You

I wrote this intending to send it as an email, but when I didn’t find one I decided to post it here. I’m thankful for the music and lyrics and how it will forever remain in my mind now. I don’t know if Chris will ever see it or not, but I had to let it all out.

Dear Chris,

Last Saturday was an emotional day for my family and me, and your song, “God of Miracles” played a powerful role in it. A dear family friend, Charlene, went on to meet Jesus a week ago, but my mom and I spent her last moments in this life with her first.

She had been sick for several months, but I didn’t realize how ill she was until she chose to move into a Hospice facility in New Orleans last Friday.
Charlene was an amazing woman of God, and several years ago while I was steeped in sin, shame and bitterness, she told me that God had a plan for my life. I scoffed at her with condescension as she said, “He’s never going to stop pursuing you, and I’m never going to stop praying for you.”

A few years after that conversation, I realized for the first time (even though I grew up as a pastor’s kid) that I’d never be able to earn salvation; it was God’s free gift for me, and I didn’t have to work for it. I simply had to accept it. That realization changed my life, and as a result of my relationship with Jesus I’ve surrendered the anger, self-loathing and bitterness that I carried for far too long.

Now, as a worship leader at NOLA Church, a place I swore I’d never go to when I was initially invited, I listen to a lot of amazing music, and our bass player added “God of Miracles” to my playlist a few months ago. I’ve listened to it hundreds of times since I first heard it, but it helped shape my view of death and eternity over the weekend.

When we arrived at Charlene’s bedside my mom sang one of her favorite songs, “He Touched Me.” (We always sang when we were together.) I thought she’d ask me to follow up with a different Southern Gospel tune, but instead she said, “sing the song you were playing on repeat in the car.”

Charlene was on morphine to ease her pain, so I assumed she wouldn’t know what we were singing anyway. In spite of that I sang the song a cappella, struggling to get through it without breaking down. At the same time Charlene began to lift her hands, and though she had not been responsive before that, her sister asked her to give us a thumbs up if she knew we were there and wanted me to continue the song. She gave a feeble, yet distinctive thumbs up, and at that moment I realized that the Holy Spirit was empowering me to walk with her through the painful moments shortly before all of her pain would cease. By the second verse, the four of us in the room, knew that God’s presence was there and filling in what would be the last few minutes of her life.

“Let faith arise, and see the kingdom come, I lift my eyes, for the battle has been won. My God is faithful, and every single word He says is true.”

As I sang those lyrics I thanked God for His mercy and comfort and for the example of unwavering faith that I saw first hand as my precious friend went on to see Jesus.

Today I sang at her memorial. I woke up heavy hearted, knowing that we’d all be saying goodbye to her a few hours later, but what happened instead was a celebration of her life and her choice to live her life fully surrendered to Jesus.

family

“God of Miracles” is the last song that she heard before moving on into God’s glory, and I’m forever thankful that I was able to worship through her last moments with her, filled with the promises and truths that exist in those lyrics.
Thank you, Chris…

Sincerely,

Kenlie

Chivalry Isn’t Dead; We Just Don’t Appreciate It

If you know me you probably know that I consider myself to be pretty independent and self-sufficient. I’ve traveled around the world (with others at times and alone at times,) and I’m not afraid to step out of my comfort zone. I’m a well-educated professional who enjoys my work. I live alone, and I’ve become fairly handy inside my little home. I can lift heavy things, put furniture together and fix little issues when they arise, and regardless of the number of grocery bags I bring home, I make one trip from my parking garage to my apartment.

I’m strong and capable, yet I still love it when a man opens the door for me. Yesterday at Starbucks, the man I used to vaguely mention here, carried my heavy backpack to my car before we parted ways. Sure, I can carry the bag myself, but he has offered to carry it to my car as long as I’ve known him (for over a year now,) and I like it.

I’m attracted to the kind of man who comes to hook up the Xbox in my living room because it’s a good excuse to spend time with me. Sure, I could have hooked it up myself, but there’s something so sexy about a man who wants to take care of things like that for me. I also think it’s absolutely hot when a guy checks my tires and knows which ones need to be replaced asap. (Thanks, hot guy.)

Yesterday a woman who, no doubt, considered herself to be much stronger and more capable than I, made a comment under her breath about how women like me set us all back. Seriously? We all have the same right to our opinions, but it’s clear that this stranger and I look at this issue differently.

The man who carried my bag yesterday didn’t do it because he thought I couldn’t. He did it out of respect for me. He carried it affectionately, and I received it because I believe I’m worthy of that respect. Does that mean I go around demanding that men open doors for me or carry heavy things? Of course not…It means that when I man treats me with respect, I appreciate it.

I believe that women should be paid as much as men when their work is equally good. I also believe that women have a right to preferences within the confines of their relationships. It’s just hard to believe that there are women who think that men who behave like gentlemen are jerks. (I know it’s true, but it’s been a long time since I saw such a vitriolic response in real life.)

I do my best to respect others, so I didn’t feel the need to say something snarky to the disgruntled woman. I didn’t say anything at all. Instead I spent a few minutes thinking about the different reasons a woman might feel so strongly about this issue. Maybe someone hurt her, or maybe no one has ever shown her appreciation. Maybe she feels like she has something to prove, or maybe she was simply having a bad day.

I’ll never know why she had such a problem with the man’s desire to treat me well, but I do know that I’ll continue to enjoy it. Whether a man is carrying a heavy bag for me, opening a door for me or pulling out a chair for me at a restaurant, I’ll like it. Like most people, I enjoy feeling cared for and valued, and that’s not likely to change.

Am I the only one who likes being treated this way by a man? Does anyone else feel offended when a man holds the door open for you, etc? If so, will you explain why?

 

Okay, Let’s Talk About Richard Simmons

It’s been quiet around here lately, but I don’t think I can stay quiet about Richard Simmons any longer. I had mixed feelings about discussing him here, so I just didn’t. Thinking of him makes my heart swell with sadness, but after the media reports that surfaced last week I think it’s time speak up.

Richard went into hiding, or something two years ago, and I miss the man I’ve adored most of my life. Even as a kid, before I thought of myself as overweight/plus-sized, I admired him because of his love for people. And many years later, when I wrote him an open letter on my blog, his response was prompt and overwhelming. I never thought that the larger-than-life fitness icon would care that I wrote him a letter, so I was blown away when I received the first of many emails only a few days later.

At the time I was at the top of my weight-loss game, but everything slowly began to crumble when the pesky airline made me feel like I was as worthless as they thought I was. Regardless, I got on a plane and flew to Los Angeles to take a class with him at Slimmons, and those workouts were among the coolest things I’ve ever experienced in my life. (It was so cool, in fact, that I thought it was a good idea to move to Beverly Hills just to be close enough to exercise with him regularly, so I did.)

Richard Simmons

Richard made me feel like anything was possible, but even more importantly, he made me feel like I was lovable just like I was. (I hadn’t discovered that yet.)

Richard Simmons and Kenlie at Slimmons

When he went into seclusion he stopped emailing people he communicated with regularly (myself included.) At first, I wondered if I had unknowingly offended him. I wondered if he had given up on me since I was struggling with my weight again, but several months later I learned that it wasn’t me at all.

There was a sign at his studio saying that he’d be back next month, which became the next month and the next month…I soon learned that he stopped responding to my friends like KeepItUpDavid, who were in constant contact with him as well, and months later no one had heard anything from him.

Richard SImmons and KeepItUpDavid and Kenlie

TMZ reached out to my at one point last year, but I refused to talk. The Today Show used footage from when I worked out at Slimmons for the first time to tell viewers that Richard had resurfaced, but that wasn’t true either.

Richard Simmons Kenlie Today Show

There’s been radio silence from Richard until last week when he called in for an interview with Today. It was such a relief to hear his voice that I shed tears for a moment at my desk. At the same time I was sad to hear his quiet, almost calculated words. He sounded sad, which made me sad.

I don’t know what he’s going through. (I have some theories, but I won’t be elaborating on them.) He has the right to live his life privately if that’s what he wants to do.  I just want him to be happy, and I hope he knows that no matter what, I love him, I’m praying for him, I miss him, and I hope I see his face again someday.

 

The Post Mardi Gras, Good Grief I Need To Get It Together, Valentine’s Day Blues, Or Something Like That

I’ve sat down to blog several times lately, and I’ve been almost immediately distracted by other things. I wanted to share the details of my food intake during the week of Mardi Gras. In short, I ate a lot of random junk that can barely be considered food. If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen the fried Oreos that my neighbor delivered to me during my afternoon nap. You may have also noticed that I enjoyed King cake with friends on more than one occasion.

king cake sucre new orleans

This city shuts down for Mardi Gras. It’s amazing. Stores close, and everyone goes to parades…lots and lots of parades. The revelry lasts for two weeks, and people take it very seriously. I had more fun this year because I found a way to get back to my apartment while avoiding most of the traffic. (This isn’t easy to do when you live at one of the most popular parts of the parade route.) I also went to a couple of parades with co-workers who have become friends, a former colleague and friend and the guy I started dating recently. My favorite neighbor spent a lot of time with me during the week too, and I got very little accomplished. On Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday) I brought Christopher to Starbucks with me, and we met several of my friends there and played board games all afternoon. It was such a simple day, but I loved every minute of it.

My friend, Andrew, who was here in New Orleans for over a week, returned home to New York late last week. And Christopher  is there right now for work, so I took the opportunity to get some sleep, clean house, spend time with people who matter to me and to consider meals for the next few days.

Mardi Gras consists of 14 days of over-indulgence, coupled with time off, but it’s over now. Thankfully, Valentine’s Day is over too. Every year I feel so much pressure to be loved on that day, and every year I feel positively ridiculous about that. I know that I’m loved everyday by my family and friends and Jesus. I’m also happy that I’ve met someone who’s smart, handsome and easy to talk to and makes me laugh until my face hurts, but the pressure of this holiday is way too intense for something so new. Instead of going out on a date, I spent today singing love songs at an assisted living home near my church. They ate ice cream sundaes, and we had some awesome conversations.  The idea was to serve and honor the lovely people there, but they ended up blessing me far more than I could have blessed them.

I’m ready to get back into the healthy groove that I’ve been carving out lately because I feel so much better when I’m doing good things for my body. I spent a lot of time discussing healthy recipes and nutritious lifestyles with one of my favorite people this weekend, and I feel motivated to consume healthy and delicious meals this week. I’ve also caught up on some sleep that I’ve been missing lately, which feels great.

It’s a new week, and I’m ready to make it a good one. I’m taking on more responsibility at work this week, which means I’ll have more opportunities to exercise. I also have my food planned out for Monday and Tuesday. Bring on the quinoa, black beans and chicken! It’s crawfish season too, and I’m already loving that!

crawfish

Is anyone else fighting to get back into the groove this week?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Have Anything To Add To My New Orleans Adventure List?

I met a tall, handsome and seemingly friendly guy over the weekend who (unintentionally) helped me see that I’ve been missing some of the best things my little city has to offer.

He talked about taking me to Dorignac’s, a local grocery store that has practically everything, a big Asian market on the West Bank, the king cake festival that’s coming up in my neighborhood, day trips to fun places and more.

We talked about politics and a variety of other things as well, and he made me realize that while I love my life, there’s a lot more to enjoy. I have no idea if I will hear from him again or enjoy any of them with him, but he unknowingly inspired me to make a list of things that I want to do in and around my city in 2016.

Here’s my list in no particular order:

Go to Dorignac’s (because people who know seem to think it’s the best.) While I’m at it, I should check out the new Fresh Market that opened across the street. I’ve been wanting to do that.
Explore City Park, and relax on one of the many giant swings. I’ve done this; I just want to do it more often.

Visit the WW2 Museum. I honestly cannot believe I’ve never been there. It’s walking distance from my home, and WW2 has always personally been the most compelling part of American History. I can still remember walking through concentration camps in Germany wondering how anyone was ever strong enough to endure those places.

Take a ride on the Creole Queen. During my walk yesterday I stopped to watch the boat depart, and I realized that I wished I was on it. I’ve never really even considered taking a ride down the river, which is silly because that was one of my favorite things about New York City when I lived there. The difference here is that I don’t think I’d take a sail on the roughest, deepest part of the Mississippi River! I’ll take the paddle boat instead.

Creole Queen Cruise New Orleans

Drive to Mississippi to eat barbecue at The Shed. I’ve been hearing how great this places since I moved here, and I love BBQ!

Enjoy an early morning or afternoon at the Lakefront. It’s beautiful over there! How on earth have I managed to skip that?

Eat King Cake at Sucre. I’ve done this once, but you can only do it for a little while each year. I should probably do it again because I love it. I’d love to go to the king cake festival too, but I don’t mind going to Sucre by myself. I preferred to go to the festival with good company.
Drive to Baton Rouge to buy Lush Cosmetics. Okay, I do this occasionally, but I think I need to do it more often. I’m seriously obsessed with bubble bars and bath bombs.

Ride a street car. I’ve never done it. They pass down my street, yet I’ve never done it.

Visit the Insectarium. I know it’s weird, but I want to see what it’s all about. I might even taste a bug just to say to myself that I did. In New Orleans, we eat crawfish, which are really just mud bugs so…

Go to Oak Alley Plantation. I was there over a decade ago, but I don’t remember much about it. I’d love to go there now.

Go to a Mardi Gras parade. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I kind of want to walk down to the street during Muses and maybe a few others too. I’d definitely enjoy this one more with a tall, strong bodyguard, but we’ll see how I feel in the next week or two.

Walk down Royal Street in the French Quarter…just because it’s pretty (and nothing like Bourbon St., which is mostly awful.) I do this sometimes, but it’s been quite a while since the last time.

Eat crawfish (either at my favorite seafood restaurant, or on my rooftop. Actually, I’d like to do both.) I didn’t eat much crawfish last year, but I’m hoping to enjoy it more this year.

Drink a cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde. I tend to do this when friends and family visit from out of town, but I like it. Why not do it more often?

I’m sure there’s a lot more to add to the list, but this feels like a good start. I’m not sure which one I’ll do first, but I’ll do a few of these in the next week. I’ll document it on Instagram too, of course.

Have you ever been to New Orleans? If so, what was your favorite part? What’s the coolest thing to do in your town?

 

How Making Music Keeps Me From Junk Food

I’m several days into my no junk food challenge (even though we didn’t start officially until Wednesday.) I have to confess that I’ve had two pieces of King cake (on different days) since we started. It was pretty easily justified in my mind because King cake is only available between now and Mardi Gras, but the thing is…i don’t even really like Mardi Gras or King cake. Seriously, I just don’t care about it…until I tell myself that I can’t have it.

I did Body Combat yesterday, and my weight was still down a bit this morning. I feel so awesome all day after I do a workout the intimidates me at least a little. I just know that it would be easier to control my weight if I controlled my cravings. (Um, is any of it easy? No, but that’s why we continue seeking self-discipline, right?)

The same goes for doughnuts and other obscenely, sugar-laden foods. I’ve had 3 or 4 doughnuts in the last year and a half, which is a far cry from the days in which I allowed myself to fall into a daily habit. I’m doing well so far today, and I’m paying close attention to things that keep my cravings at bay.

In a recent post I talked about food having an emotional connection in my mind, so it makes sense that music might alleviate my cravings, right? Um, music moves me, and when I’m singing I forget about everything else around me. (Sorry, neighbors! Just kidding…kind of.)

I cannot stop singing this song, so I spent a few minutes recording it. It’s as though Natalie Grant cracked my heart open with a hammer and poured out this song. She hit me at my core with this song, so I had to record it. I seriously wish I could sing as loudly as I want to in my apartment. (Actually, if I’m wishing for things I should probably wish for a microphone or some recording time in a studio.)

 

When I’m singing I can’t be bothered with mindless eating. Th same thing applies to knitting. I have a few other hobbies, but those two are the best when I’m trying to get my mind off of junk food — or food, in general.

I don’t know how to explain it, but life-giving, love songs seem to quench my desire for snacks. This is a new development, so I hope it proves true in the long run.

Until next time…Keep singing, err, at least I will.

 

 

Plus-Size Weight Training, Cardio and TRX…and Junk Food…

I’ve wanted to sit down and blog several times over the last few weeks, but between work, travel and the other things I enjoy I haven’t made the time. I wanted my next post to be a holiday recap, but it looks like that will happen later (if it happens at all.)

Right now I want to talk about fitness. It almost feels weird to say that, even though at one point we discussed that frequently here. I’ve been journaling my food for about a month now, and I’ve started incorporating workouts into my daily routine. It seems to be working too because I didn’t gain weight over the holidays. I actually lost a couple of pounds. (I’ll do an official update here next week.)

plus size weight training

If we’re connected via social media you may know that started working at the YMCA late last year, and being there has been awesome on so many levels. I love the work I’m doing, but I also love coming out of my office and entering the gym. It’s hard not to be motivated when you’re surrounded by regular people doing extraordinary things.

Weight training is a big deal, especially for women who want to get fit. I used to do it pretty regularly, and I forgot how much I love feeling my sore muscles because I crushed it at the gym.

Last week I told my boss that I wanted to try some classes that intimidate me, so the first on the last is Body Combat. I’ll do it Thursday, but today I tried TRX. I hadn’t even attempted that since I went to IDEA in Los Angeles 5 years ago, but I’m so glad I tried it today.

it made me feel good to know that I’m not starting from square one. My body is a lot stronger than it was when I started this journey, and I am relieved because I’m finally shifting my focus away from my failures and onto my future.

TRX

There’s no way for me to make this look attractive, but I don’t care. I felt awesome when I remembered that my body could do difficult things.

I felt fierce as I got familiar with the straps and the different exercises. I still have a lot to learn, but I was able to work up a sweat. I also spent some time doing circuits with compound movements before taking a ride on the recumbent bike. I’ve always loved the ‘bent because it was the first piece of gym equipment I wasn’t afraid to try when I was new to the idea of exercise.

In addition to exercise I’m spending more time preparing meals that will have a positive impact on my body. It’s not always as convenient, but I’ve noticed that if I meal prep for two or three days at a time I can do it pretty easily.

This week I’ve eaten a lot of chicken, a few boiled eggs, veggies, quinoa, almonds and cheese, (though not all at once, of course.) Smoked almonds are ridiculously salty, but when I eat an ounce of them it seems like I’m making a better choice than a bag of chips. (I love raw almonds too, but I had the smoked ones in my cabinet.)

Today one of our trainers suggested that I join the 21 Day Junk Food Challenge, and I agreed to do it. I’ll post the details on Instagram, and I’d love to hear from you if you want to join me in the challenge. The goal is to eliminate junk food for the next few weeks, which sounds simple, right? Uh, if it were actually simple for me this blog wouldn’t exist, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

If anyone wants to join me in the challenge, leave a comment here or on Instagram, and I’ll come up with a prize pack to give away.

I left my home at 5:30 this morning, and I got home just before dark. I’m usually home later, but I’m eat tonight. I had a long and productive day, and I’m looking forward to doing it again tomorrow.

Until then….