Back At It

Hiiii.. I’m backkkk..AGAIN! I recently realized that I am one of those people who just refuses to go away. You know what I mean – I won’t give up. I have conquered a lot of things in my life but losing weight (and keeping it off) is not one of them. Yes, its been over six months since I’ve written and yes, I am still talking about my weight. My weight is something I think about 24 hours a day, seven days a week and let me tell you – its exhausting. I just want to be happy and healthy. “So why don’t I, you say?” IT’S NOT EASY PEOPLE!! No one ever told me how hard it would be to lose weight once you are in your 50’s!! Oh, I didn’t tell you? Yes, I turned 53 last month and I am still in shock about it. Sigh…But back to the weight loss. I say all this to say, I’m still trying to get a handle on my weight so that I can be healthier, not have all the aches and pains and just honestly, to feel normal. Normal as in I’m tired of being self-conscious, tired of my doctors giving me that look, along with the chastising head shake. I just want to enjoy me and my life, so…..here we go again!

How I Survived Thanksgiving

FEAR NOT! Confidence-Building Insights, Tips, and Techniques for Freelance Writers - the eBook

OMG, I survived Thanksgiving but now Christmas is coming! Thanksgiving, by the way, happens to be my favorite holiday of the year. Besides all the good food, it’s a time to get together and share quality time with family and friends. However, all the food wreaks havoc on my weight loss efforts. Listen, I gotta be honest here..I am NOT gonna pass up on all that delicious food during the holidays so there’s no use fooling myself or making myself feel guilty about it. I constantly tell myself that all I can do is enjoy the holiday and when it’s over, move on.

Although I knew I would gain some weight during Thanksgiving I was still scared to death to get on the scale. But, after talking to myself about moving forward and “what was done was done”, I did get on the scale. I gained 3.5 pounds. Now I know some of you may be gasping out there but for me, this wasn’t so bad. I truly thought that I would have gained more. So nowwww I get a chance to make up for all the goodies I had Thanksgiving weekend. One thing that is in my favor is the fact that I have been walking more. My biggest achievement so far since my Achilles tendon surgery has been that I can now walk to and from the subway. The subway is about 8 or 9 blocks from my house and takes me about 15 minutes each way (going and coming). So, we’ll see how it goes. Until next week!

*I gained another pound since I originally started this post for a total 4.5 (sigh). But, I can’t dwell on that – I must keep moving forward. Pray for me!

Maybe I Need Losing Weight For Dummies

Weight has been an issue for me as long as I can remember. Growing up I was always the biggest kid in my class. Being called out of my name was a regular occurrence and sadly, I kinda got used to it. By the time I got to high school I had ballooned to about 170 pounds. I tried everything under the sun to try to lose weight, including diet pills and they worked – well, thy worked for a little while anyway. After a couple of weeks my body became immune to them and whatever weight I lost, I quickly gained back.

Once I got into my 20’s things changed. I lost about 75 pounds and fell in love with exercising at home. Now hold on. I was by no means skinny ( I never wanted to be) but was at a healthy weight for me.  My doctor once told me, “Desiree, there are people that say that they have big bones but you – you really had big bones.  I had tons of exercise tapes and DVDs and every day without fail, I would come home after work without fail and  do one of my work out videos. One my favorites at that time was “The Firm”. Talk about a workout! My butt was getting firmer by the minute!

All was good until I got into my 40’s. Sigh.. What can I say? I now understood all those stories that I had read about “middle-age spread”. No matter what I did I could not seem to lose weight. Okay, I’d lose three pounds one week, only to gain two pounds the next. It was a vicious cycle of losing and regaining the same five pounds. The good news was that I was still exercising at home anddddd I was still able to handle the more advanced workouts. There was hope!

Fast forward to now. Another sigh.. After having my Achilles tendon surgery a few months ago, I was out from work for eight weeks – four of those weeks were non-weight bearing. What that meant was, I could not walk or have a toe touch the ground for the first four weeks after surgery. Now, what I didn’t mention was that within the past three years I had gained more weight and weighed more than I ever have in my life. It pains me to even write about it let alone say it out loud but the truth is, I had tipped the scale at 307. OMG! I didn’t recognize myself and my body was shutting down. Let’s see, last year it was sciatica, I tore my Achilles tendon (the first time) and this year it was my Achilles again (re-tore). I know it all stemmed from all the weight I had gained.  If only there was a “Losing Weight for Dummies” book out there….

On an appointment for my third epidural shot for my sciatica, my doctor suggested that I look into Aqua Aerobics.  He said that it would be great for me because 1) it was low impact, 2) it burned lots of calories and 3) it took the pressure off your joints. As I laid on the steel table inside the operating room (that’s where they took me to give me the shot) with my hospital gown open and my butt exposed to the GAWDS, I thought about what he said.  As soon as I get off this table, I am going to look into this.

I discovered a wonderful Water Aerobics class at the Y. I started going to class twice a week and like a miracle (I know that was cliche) the weight started to come off. Praise the Lord!  I couldn’t believe it! In the beginning I wasn’t sure how this was going to work as I couldn’t swim (was traumatized as a kid but we’ll talk about that later) and couldn’t grasp how this would be enjoyable for me. Let me tell you, I loveeeee this class! I can feel my cheeks stretching from ear to ear from smiling so much during class. It’s so much fun! By the time I went in for my surgery I had lost 17 pounds. My surgeon was elated because he had told me that the more weight I lost before surgery the better because going under anesthesia while overweight makes things more difficult. I was so happy but my happiness did not last.   I started worrying about the surgery and how I would have to be off my feet for such a long period of time. My mom (God bless her) was coming up from Virginia to take care of me and I knew that those southern comfort meals from my childhood would wreak havoc on my now 52 year old body.

Fast forward to after the surgery (I lived!) – by week seven I was able to walk – albeit slow but I was walking.  It had finally become the time where I was able to step on the scale to assess the damage of my being off my feet for four weeks. I really did not want to do it but knew that I would have to in order to move forward. My worst fears had come true. I gained 11 out of the 17 pounds that I lost. Also, since I had stitches from the surgery I wasn’t cleared to go back to the pool just yet. There was a huge risk of me getting an infection, not to mention the weather had changed and was now cold.  Ughh, another setback.

Physical therapy was like a Godsend.  My therapist (Melissa) and the rest of the staff helped me so much. The folks at One on One Therapy were great and just last Wednesday I completed twelve weeks.  Now what? It’s too cold to go be in the pool and although I am 80% better, I won’t be running any marathons anytime soon. My challenge now is to find an exercise routine that would burn as much calories as I would be burning at the Y in the pool.

I am on Weight Watchers (I have had a long on again, off again relationship with them) and in addition to them I also look into other free weight loss sites, one being SparkPeople. I discovered Coach Nicole on there when I was unable to walk on my foot from the first Achilles tear that I had.  Nicole has several “seated” exercise videos on their website for folks like me who can’t stand due to injury, disability or from being severely overweight. Yesterday, I did the “11 Minute Seated Cardio Video Workout and her “9-Minute Arm and Shoulder Video Workout”. Although you are sitting down you are still getting a really good workout.  My goal is to build up enough endurance and strength so that I can get back into my regular standing exercise routine and also so that I can walk without having to stop every couple of blocks because my back is killing me. Since the surgery I have been driving my car to the train station and then get on the train from there but I don’t want to have to depend on my car to get around.

So this is my life and where I am right now.  To start my new physical therapy free week right, I made a nice, healthy dinner – baked salmon with lemon, brown rice and steamed broccoli.  Pray for me!

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My College Experience – 30 Years and Counting

My college journey has not been easy. I graduated from high school back in 1982 with flying colors. My college experience however, was the total opposite. Not because I couldn’t keep up academically but because I simply didn’t have the tools needed to attend college. Let me explain.

Growing up, I was never taught the importance of going to college. My parents, who were both raised and never finished high school. To them, graduating from high school was the equivalent of graduating from college so there were no talks about going off to college to further my education. Instead, it was always ingrained in me the importance of having a job so, that’s what I concentrated on.

Just as the excitement of graduating high school was over, my friends had started hearing back from some of the colleges they had applied for. All this talk about going to college and reading about all the different programs they offered peeked my interest and made me think about the future. Hey, I want to go to college too! Unlike my friends, who started school in Fall of 1982, I applied to start in the Spring of 1983.  Low and behold, I got accepted into to a Community College!  What I didn’t realize was that without financial aid, there was no way that I would be able to afford to buy the textbooks I was going to need for my classes, nor would I be able to afford the tuition. At the time that I got accepted, I was working part time in a fast food restaurant. What am I gonna do?

I didn’t qualify to get financial aid but I was a candidate to be a Work Study student, which meant that I could work at the school (with pay) while taking classes. Sounds good, right? Well, I barely made enough to afford the carfare I needed to get to school, let alone buy books. Needless to say I was only able to complete one semester. I was devastated.

In 1990, I was working as a secretary for the government full-time and felt like this was a good time in my life to finish what I started years before. I got accepted into New York City College of Technology (now known as City Tech) and was majoring in Hospitality/Culinary Arts. I started the semester with a vengeance and determined to make up for my failed attempt back in 1983. I was about 3 semesters in when I started having health problems. I have asthma and back then my asthma was not controlled so every other month I was in the emergency room. College doesn’t take kindly to excessive absences and I was put on academic probation because of it. This can’t be happening I thought. My college dreams were being pushed further behind.
In the mid 90’s, a close friend of mine and I tried going to TCI (Technical Career Institute) to try our hand at technology. We both got accepted and were in the same classes. It didn’t take us long to realize that technology school wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. We stopped going after one semester.

I still yearned to go to culinary school so my sister and I enrolled in a Pastry Arts program at a well known Culinary school in New York City in 1998.  I was elated! It was an extensive 18 month program, and guess what? We finished the program! I had finally finished something I started!

Having completed from the Pastry Arts program was great but we only received a certificate for the program.  I knew if I wanted to get further in my career I would need to get a Bachelors Degree. I started working for a well known university back in 2002. Part of the perks of working for the school was paid tuition for employees so I took full advantage of it. Yes! Things were looking up. I am going to get my degree and for free no less!

I loved my classes and was doing great in school even after my niece and nephew came to live with me…. until I got laid off in 2009. I thought, this can’t be happening. My hopes of getting a Bachelors degree were slipping through my fingers.
The following year I got a job at another well known university and they also had a free tuition program for their employees.  I couldn’t wait to finish what I had started so many years before. The curriculum was not easy and there were times that I wanted to give up but friends and family encouraged me to keep going. I was just too close to the finish line to give up now. I am proud to say that I FINALLY graduated on May 21, 2016 with a BA degree in Psychology!

I am now 52 years old (my birthday was a little less than month after graduation) and my college journey has taken 33 years. It has come with many challenges but it was totally worth it. I try to live my life like that old saying that goes, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.”

My Fifty is Different

So far everything that I have seen online regarding women in their fifty’s has been about starting over after divorce, having empty nest syndrome, being a grandmother or being a widow.  There’s not a magazine, blog or book that doesn’t have the word Menopause in it when talking about women over fifty.  Don’t get me wrong – these are important topics but what about women like me who, a) have never been married, b) don’t have children and c) still get a period?

My parents did not have a good marriage. Okay, who am I kidding? My parents had a lousy marriage and our household was riddled with dysfunction. It is no surprise that by the time I was a teen I already knew that marriage was not going to be at the top of my list of things I needed to do. But even with all the odds against me, I still had love in my heart with hopes of meeting someone I could love and for them to love me.  Oh yeah, I found love alright but just like a chapter in a Psych 101 textbook, I didn’t have the tools that would allow me to tell the difference between love and abuse (in my case it was verbal).

I would have been the mother or 5 children but an abortion in my early 20’s and 4 miscarriages put an end to that. It took years to finally make peace with myself over the abortion. My boyfriend at the time was in school and did not want a baby. His college career was his main focus and I was ruining his plans. Never once did he think about my feelings about it.  Everything was about him.  I didn’t have the emotional support I desperately needed at home so I turned to my then, high school best friend for advice. Since I had just started a new job and my boyfriend did not want any parts of becoming a father, my friend and I both agreed that it would probably be best not to go through with the pregnancy. There were many dark days after that but I just thank God that I was able to make it through it and most importantly, I was able to forgive myself for what I had done.

I never had dreams as a little girl of being married or to be a mother. You know how you hear women say, “Since I was a little girl I have always dreamt of being married and having children.”  Uh, that wasn’t me.  My thought process was always “okay, if I get pregnant I’ll keep it” (except for that one time) but children were not something that I needed to have. Or so I thought.  With each pregnancy I was filled with the excitement of becoming a mom and when I lost the baby I would be devastated.  I know that this may sound weird to some but it wasn’t until I was fifty that I really grasped the reality that my child rearing days were over – that made me sad.  Suddenly, it was all so final.

Several years later my niece and nephew came to live with me due to some difficulties their mom was having at home.  They were in their very early teens at the time and they taught me something very valuable.  They taught me that although I didn’t have children of my own, my motherly instincts kicked into full gear.  I had become a single mother without even thinking about it.  I loved those kids as if they were my very own.  They are grown now but the love I have for them has never changed.  In my eyes (and theirs) they are the kids that I never had.

Today, I am 52 years old and although I am still not interested in getting married, I would love to have some companionship.  I mean come on, even I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.  When my father died in 2006, I went into a deep depression and became celibate. It wasn’t something I had planned to do but I was simply mentally drained and cut off all connections with men and dating. I was celibate for 8 years when honestly – I just couldn’t take it anymore! I needed to get laid! I hit online dating sites with a fury. After sifting through a lot of losers I actually met someone I actually liked and was instantly attracted to. That doesn’t happen often with me. We dated for about a year and although it didn’t work out, we still talk as friends today.

I’m over the online dating scene now and am ready to look into other ways to meet people.  At my age there aren’t a whole lot of choices.  Think about it – guys my age are either married/divorced and are not looking for anything serious.  I have never liked dating men much older than myself and have almost always dated guys who were younger than me.  I’m not saying that this always worked well but guys my age tend to look much older than I do. Sorry fellas but, I don’t want to date someone that looks like he could be my father.  I’m thinking of trying out speed dating or maybe taking up a cooking class. Who knows, I might just meet my future husband. Now wouldn’t that be something!

Back at it again…

Sigh.  So, I had surgery on my Achilles heel exactly 19 days ago.  Yes, you read this right.  My Achilles is torn again.  Back in November I was home, mending from a torn tendon but after 5 months of being home and then returning to work, my heel began to hurt again.  After physical therapy and wearing that Gawwd awful boot and then getting a second opinion, I was told that I needed surgery.

I had the surgery on July 28th and thankfully, it was a success.  There were no issues during the surgery and most importantly – I LIVED!  I was so worried about the surgery that I never gave the recovery a second thought.  That was a huge mistake!  Upon leaving the hospital I was told that I would have to do ONLY “non weight bearing” activities for 4 weeks and then be in a cast and boot for another 4 weeks (ughhhhhhh!).  Were they serious?  That means that I would not be able to walk on my foot at all for a whole month.  How the hell am I gonna do that?!!  The hospital gave me 2 choices – crutches or a walker with wheels.  After 2 near spills on the cold hard tile, I told the nurse, “I’ll take the walker for $10,000 thank you very much.”  However, the walker is not without its challenges.  Hopping on one foot for 3 weeks straight wreaks havoc on your leg and foot.  If I keep going like this, by the time I walk again my left side is going to need surgery.  As I blog this I am waiting for my knee scooter to arrive.  At least with the scooter I won’t have to hop anymore and would be more mobile.  At least that’s what I am hoping.

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Thank God for family and friends.  If it weren’t for my mom coming from Virginia to New York to take care of me, I don’t know what I would have done.  I need someone here around the clock so there’s nothing better than having your mom take care of you. Brings you back to your childhood, don’t it?

So….I’m back to reading, Hulu and blogging.  Is there anyone else out there that had to have surgery and is bored to tears like I am?  Let me know in the comment section below.

 

So Much is Happening..

Where to begin? Let’s see.. Oh, on My 21st I FINALLY graduated from college with a BA in Psychology! My niece (who is really like my daughter) also graduated with her BA degree in Business on June 11th.  To say that the past couple of months have been filled with celebrations, is an understatement.  Oh, let’s not forget my birthday is also in June.  It has been an exciting time.

It’s been almost 2 months since I graduated and I still can’t believe it.  What I am struggling with now is, what the heck am I going to do next?  I want a career change – not just a job but doing something I love.  The problem is I have no clue what that is just yet.  I’ll figure it out.  I am what you call the “Jack of All Trades and Master of None.”  Sigh.  I love, to cook, bake, write, am told I am hilarious, and love animals.  Now what am I supposed to do with all of that?!

Here are some pictures from our big day!

 

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10 Years Already..

Today is the 10 year anniversary of my father’s death.  Wow – those 10 years went by so fast.  I still can’t believe it.  My father and I did not have the best relationship by any means.  It certainly wasn’t the kind that a little girl longs to have with her father but still, I love and miss him.

Life has a way of making you look deep inside yourself so that you realize things about yourself that were staring you right in the face all along.  A good example of this was the time, after he had passed away, that my mom and I were looking at old family pictures.  One of the pictures showed my much younger father in his military uniform (he was a Marine) and it was at that precise moment that I realized that I did in fact love my father, though for many years I swore that I didn’t.  But, I did..I do.

If only we could go back in time and start fresh – a clean slate if you will, maybe things would have been different.  Or maybe not.  Regardless, I wish there was a way to go back to this….

Dad & Me

Love you Dad!