For My Uncle Kreg

“At least I don’t have cancer.”

That’s what I always told people who asked how I could have such a great attitude about my medical problems. That was before my uncle was diagnosed with cancer. I had no idea how true those words would ring.

I always thought he would win. I always thought he would beat it. I never once thought “What if he doesn’t?” I think I was doing it to be strong. Strong for my aunt. Strong for my daughter. Strong for my uncle. Strong for myself. But now I wish I would have asked “What if the worst happens? What if he doesn’t make it?”

I would have gone to see him every day. I would have called him more. I would have sat and listened more. Instead of being afraid to talk to him, afraid to disturb him, I would have asked. I would have thanked him for everything. All the times he just sat and had coffee with me, or dinner. Thanked him for his guidance. For listening to me. For treating me like another adult family member; like my view and my opinion mattered. I would have told him just how much he mattered to me.

It’s not very often that I question the way God works, or why He allows things to happen. But this is one of those times. I still needed him here. I needed him to talk with me and have coffee with me. I needed his guidance and his outlook. My husband needed his guidance and his example. Who is going to mentor him now? Who is going to sneak candy to my kids in plain sight? He won’t be there to see Cruz grow up. He hasn’t really even gotten to notice all the cute things Cruz does now. You know, if it weren’t for uncle Kreg, Cruz probably wouldn’t even exist. Sure, my husband always wanted another baby, and every only child wants a baby brother or sister, but it was my uncle’s constant “So when is the other one coming?” That finally broke my grudge against pregnancy. But he never really got to know him.

And then I think about how selfish that is of me, because if I still need him that much, I can’t imagine what my aunt and my cousins must be going through. 25 years. They’ve been married for 25 years. They’re best friends. I can’t imagine what it must be like, after all that time, to look down the road without him. His oldest daughter’s baby is younger than Cruz. If I’m this torn over him not being able to see Cruz grow, I can’t imagine what she is going through. Or my middle cousin. 19 and going through college. He won’t be there when she graduates. He won’t be there to walk her down the aisle. Or watch her kids grow up. Or my youngest cousin. He’s only 16. He won’t even see him graduate high school. He claims he’s never having kids. Uncle Kreg won’t be there to change his mind like he changed mine.

But we know where he is now. There is no questioning it. He is in heaven. He is with Jesus. He has no more pain; he is healed. He has a joy that we cannot even fathom. And he will be waiting when we get there.

Uncle Kreg is still with us in some ways. Whenever the Oregon Ducks play. Whenever someone gives Promise, or Cruz, or his little granddaughter a cookie. Whenever we help someone, just because they need help. When I look at my kids, or my aunt, or my cousins, and remember how much he loved all of us.

During his fight with cancer, uncle Kreg told me about a book he wanted me to read. A book about one young man’s struggle with the same cancer. I am reading the book now, and I feel so sorry that I never really knew what it was like when he was here with us.

Many times, he told me that if he made it through, his dream was to spread awareness of this cancer. To speak in high schools and colleges and hand out this book that talks about the pain and loneliness of cancer in such detail. Such detail that it gave me nightmares.

You see, my uncle had testicular cancer. A cancer that none of us had ever heard of, yet it is the most common cancer among men ages 15-35. It is also the most curable cancer – if you catch it early. By the time my uncle was diagnosed – because he passed out and went into seizures one night – it had already spread to his lymph nodes, lungs, and brain.

It makes me angry to think that it is the most common cancer in young men, yet most people have never heard of it. Why isn’t there more awareness of this cancer that affects so many people? Awareness can save lives. It could have saved my uncle’s life.

So I intend to help carry out my uncle’s plan. I intend to spread awareness. If he, one of the least, maybe THE least deserving person that I know, had to die, I will help make sure that it was not in vain. That it does not go unnoticed.

Talk to your sons about testicular cancer. One awkward talk could save their lives.

http://testicularcancerawarenessfoundation.org
http://togetherwewillwin.net

Dedicated to my uncle Kreg, who read my blog posts from the very beginning.
2/14/65 -8/31/13
You are greatly missed.

Aunt Brenda and Uncle Kreg at my cousin's wedding, 2 months before he was diagnosed.

Aunt Brenda and Uncle Kreg at my cousin’s wedding, 2 months before he was diagnosed.

Uncle Kreg holding my son, Christmas 2012, almost 1 year after being diagnosed.

Uncle Kreg holding my son, Christmas 2012, almost 1 year after being diagnosed.

Us at Relay For Life 2012. Uncle Kreg is in front.

Us at Relay For Life 2012. Uncle Kreg is in front.

Testicular Cancer Awareness bracelets in orchid, the color of its awareness ribbon.

Testicular Cancer Awareness bracelets in orchid, the color of its awareness ribbon.

Sunrise

It’s 2:57 AM right now, and I’ve been wide awake since 11. I fell asleep in my spot on the couch, but woke up when my legs and hips started hurting. I tossed and turned for a few hours, but the pain wouldn’t let me sleep. So here we are. I’ve given in and taken some meds, and I’ve got my cup of coffee in hand.

This isn’t so abnormal. At least, not for me. In fact, for me it’s abnormal to sleep all night until 6 or 7 AM. A normal night for me would be to fall asleep around 9 or 10, toss and turn most of the might, and finally get up around 4 am for a cup of coffee and some pain relief.

There was a day when I thought getting up any time before 5 am was crazy. That wasn’t so long ago; only a year and a half or so. Now getting up at 4 is just normal to me.

 

But don’t feel bad for me. In a lot of ways, getting up before the sun is a blessing. Who else gets to watch the beautiful sunrise every day?

 

As a stay at home mom, I generally don’t have a lot of time to myself. Getting up so early allows me to have some time to myself that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I get uninterrupted time to read, talk to God, and work on my blog. For most people, that’s a decision between sleeping while the kids are sleeping or getting the laundry done. The pain won’t let me sleep, and I can’t get off the couch (also the pain), so I can spend some quality me time guilt free. See? It’s all in perspective.

Dirty window, pretty sunrise.

Dirty window, pretty sunrise.

Skinny Girl Tip of the Week: Fruits and Veggies

Skinny Girl Tip of the Week: Fruits and Veggies.

Did you know that the #1 most consumed vegetable in the U.S. is the French fry? It’s even the most common vegetable given to children, down to age 2! It’s no wonder we have an obesity epidemic.

The recommended daily intake of fruits is 2-4 servings, and veggies is 3-5. Do a quick self check about how many servings you usually get. If you meet the recommendation, pat yourself on the back. The fact is that most of us don’t get anywhere near that.

The biggest problem that causes for weight is this: If you’re not getting your calories from fruits and vegetables, you’re getting them from somewhere else. And 500 calories a day in fruits and vegetables is not the same as 500 calories a day in donuts and potato chips. For one, fruits and veggies are pretty low calorie, so you can eat more for less, so to speak. Also, they are filled with fiber and water, so they will keep hunger at bay much longer than a donut. And the most important reason; fruits and vegetables are full of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Vitamins and minerals that keep your immune system strong, your brain functioning, your muscles healthy, and even your organs and skin doing great.  Donuts and chips are filled with sugar and fat. Not the same effect on your body.

The good news is, your lack of fruits and vegetables is easy to fix. Make a commitment to add at least one fruit or vegetable to every meal. That doesn’t meet the recommendation, but it’s a whole lot better than nothing. If you’re really committed, have one at snack time, and add two to a meal when you can. Fresh is best of course, but not always possible, so frozen or canned is good too. Just remember that when they’re frozen, try to avoid the microwave – it depletes nutrients; and when buying canned, buy it canned in 100% juice or light syrup. I’m allergic to most fresh fruits and vegetables, so what I’m not allergic to I eat fresh, everything else I buy canned or frozen. And let’s face it, sometimes it’s just convenience.

Now, I know all the reasons you’re not getting them. You’re busy, they’re expensive, they go bad quickly, some of them are fattening, you don’t like them… I could go on. But instead I’ll tell you why these reasons aren’t reasons, just excuses.

You’re busy – It takes less time to peel a banana then it does to get a twinkie, or even a granola bar, out of the box and unwrap it. It takes even less time to pick up an apple and just start eating.

They’re expensive – Um, a can of fruit is about a dollar. Some places less than that. And you can get a bag of frozen fruits or veggies anywhere from $1 – $3 (sometimes more), depending on the size. Fresh fruits and vegetables are, unfortunately, on the expensive side. But if you think of it I in terms of what you’re saving in future medical bills, it puts things in perspective. Not to mention the pricelessness of feeling better, looking better, and teaching your family good eating habits, so that your kids don’t have to do this later. I mean, if someone could make you thin and healthy if you paid them $500, would you? Thought so. Oh, and you’ll be buying less junk, so it pretty much evens out.

They go bad quickly – If you buy them and don’t eat them they are going to go bad. So you have to actually eat them. If they do tend to go bad before you can eat all of them, cook veggies into a meal or sauté them by themselves (in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil! Not butter!). Fruits can go into pancakes, smoothies, or deserts. Even if you don’t plan on eating them right after cooking them, they can be frozen. Easy dinner sides on a rough day! Start off small with fresh produce, and if you use it all, you can more each week. Keep canned and frozen produce on hand for when you run out. They never go bad J

Some of them are fattening – When I hear someone say “I can’t eat avocado, it goes straight to my thighs.” I want to slap them. Um, honey, if you have extra weight, it’s not from a vegetable. It’s from the mayonnaise, and salad dressing, and cheese sauce, and deep fried whatever around the vegetable. You can’t get fat from vegetables!! Do avocados and other vegetables have fat? Yes. But it is an entirely different kind of fat than what’s in your mayonnaise. This kind of fat is good for you. It goes straight to your brain and muscles, not your thighs. You actually need the good kind of fat to lose the bad kind of fat. And it has the added benefit of being good for your heart and brain. It’s Omega-3. You can also get this from nuts, seeds, and fish (and olive oil!)

You don’t like them – Here in America, we tend to stick to our comfort zone when it comes to food, produce included. We don’t think outside the box of apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, broccoli, and peas. There are sooo many different kinds of fruits and vegetables. There are bound to be some that you like, you just have to do a little searching. Try the ones you don’t recognize. Make a fruit salad or a smoothie. Drizzle some chocolate over those strawberries (in modest amounts). The health benefit of the strawberries outweighs the detriment of the chocolate calories, if you’re careful. Besides, did you know that chocolate is good for you?

I’ll post a list of fruit combinations and toppings I love later in the week. For now I’m just going to warn you to be really careful with the salad dressing. Drop it all together if you can. If you have to have a dressing, use olive oil and lime, or balsamic vinegar, which are actually good for you.

So, eat at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal. Don’t worry about it being canned, fresh, or frozen. Just be careful with those syrups and get your vitamins and fiber! Oh, and don’t forget to give them to your kids, too!

Disclaimer: I am not a food scientist or a doctor. Everything I know I have read from magazines like Glamour, Redbook, and Cosmo; or on various websites. In other words, I’m a nerd and I read a lot.

Skinny Girl Tip of the Week: Hydrate!

Skinny Girl Tip of the Week: Hydrate!

I know, you don’t need to hear this one because you’ve heard it over and over. Buuut I gotta tell you anyway. The good news? I want you to forget that myth that you have to drink 8 cups of water a day to be healthy. Think about it: We’re all different sizes, with different weights, diets, and activity levels. How could there possibly be one magic number for all of us? But it is still very important to get enough water.

Here are some reasons to stay hydrated:

1) Water carries nutrients throughout your body. It transports all of the vitamins and minerals from those calories. Let’s make those calories count!

2) Mild dehydration is the #1 cause of daytime fatigue (allaboutwater.org). So when it’s 2pm and you don’t have a reason to be sluggish but you are, it’s probably because you’re not getting enough water.

3) Water takes up space in your stomach! Translation: You’re likely to eat less calories if you’ve got some water taking up room.

4) Water keeps your body working like a well oiled machine. It keeps your metabolism up, your muscle working at max peformance (you can work out longer and more efficiently), and keeps your brain functioning.

5) Water is calorie free! If you reach for a bottle of water instead of a can of coke, even just once a day, you save 140 calories. Do it twice, and that’s almost 300!

So, if I don’t have to drink 8 cups a day, how much should I drink? Our body has lots of indicators for when we need some water, thirst being the best one. Again, if you’re feeling fatigued, down some H2O. Researchers also say that the need for hydration is often mistaken for hunger, so have some water before that snack and then see how you feel.

Also remember that there are lots of ways to get your ‘water’. While drinking plain water is definitely the best one (I drink about 3 16 oz bottles a day), sometimes you just get sick of water. It’s ok to switch it up for some tea or coffee. Of course if you add sweetener, you’re adding calories, but it still hydrates you. Juice is a good option, but I try to but the calories by adding some water or club soda. Another creative way to spruce up water is to add a few berries, slices of fruit or cucumber, or citrus wedges. Eating fruits and vegetables count toward your water consumption too! So does soup, and any other food containing a lot of liquid.

It’s important to remember that I am not a medical professional, I just read a lot, and I know what has worked for me. It’s also important to remember that there is such a thing as too much water (if you start feeling nauseous, time to back off.). So try to keep a cup or bottle close at all times, find what works for you, and enjoy!

Drink up!

Drink up!

Skinny Girl Tip of the Week: Eat!

Skinny Girl Tip of the Week: Eat!

You’ve heard the analogy that eating is the human equivalent to putting gas in a car. It’s totally true. Starving yourself is not the answer to weight loss. I know way too many people who have gone on 500 calorie-a-day diets to lose weight. But guess what? They’re not thinner. And they’re still trying to find that miracle diet. Why? Because starving yourself DOESN’T WORK. Even if you were to lose 5 or 10 pounds, your body can’t live on 500 calories a day forever. Eventually you have to go back to eating a healthy amount. And when that happens, you gain it all back. This happens for two reasons:

1) You haven’t learned new eating habits. Healthy eating habits. You don’t know any different so you go back to eating the same junk that got you there in the first place.

2) When you starve yourself, it screws up your metabolism. Our bodies are smarter than we realize. When you starve yourself, your body goes into hoarder mode. It’s so glad to finally have food, and it’s afraid you’re going to starve it again, so it clings to the calories you put in, as well as the fat that’s already there.

If it’s clinging to the fat that’s already there, how easy is it really going to come off when you diet and exercise? It’s gonna fight to keep what it has.

Eating gives you energy and spurs your metabolism. This makes your body way more effective at burning calories when you exercise, as well as when you’re just vacuuming the carpet, or even while you’re sleeping. Feeding your metabolism is key in losing weight and keeping it off.

So eat when you’re hungry!

I’m not going to tell you to eat breakfast if you’re not hungry and it makes you sick to your stomach (though it wouldn’t hurt to down some water or a cup of joe. And no, your coffee doesn’t have to be black.).  But when you start feeling sluggish, it’s a good indication that your body needs some fuel.

That being said, when you eat, try to make wise choices, and stop when you’re full.

Even if it’s between meals, have a yogurt or a banana or a granola bar. Motherhood, or life in general, is crazy busy. So if you just ate breakfast a couple hours ago and you hear your tummy growl, don’t feel guilty about grabbing a snack. You’ll burn more calories, think better, feel better, and your loved ones will thank you  😉

Skinny Girl Tip of the Week: Exercise!

Skinny Girl Tip of the Week: Exercise!

This is probably the single most important tip I could give you. There are so many health benefits to exercise; it doesn’t stop at weight loss. Cardio helps you lose weight, and cardio combined with weight training really improves your metabolism, making easier to lose weight and keep it off. Exercise also boosts your immune system, is more effective at fighting depression than antidepressants, it helps pain relief, improves circulation, gives you a longer life span, and so many other benefits. I know, you’ve tried, and failed, at exercising to lose weight. This issue is close to my heart, beca…use I have a disability, making it very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to exercise. But you know what? I did it. And I got results. And if I can do it, just about anyone can. It’s difficult at first, more of a battle of the mind than anything, but YOU CAN DO IT. And if you are consistant and refuse to give up, you WILL SEE RESULTS. So make time and not excuses. Pick five or six days out of the week and just do it. Crank up the headphones, break out the stroller, and jog around the block. Stick your feet under the couch and do crunches. Hold on to your dresser and do squats. Grab a gallon of milk and do reps lifting it in the air. There are plenty of things you can do to fit exercise into your budget and schedule. JUST DO IT!

To my readers:

The above was a post I  made on a fitness Facebook page. I had to keep it short and sweet, and none of the members of that page have a disability. However, I do, as do many of you. So I would like to add to my post.

Back when my daughter was born, I could walk about as far as I wanted to. It required some extra effort, but I could do it. So I bought a treadmill and an Easy-Shaper (A fancy contraption that helps me to crunches and other ab-exercises). It was hard to do the treadmill, some days more than others, but it didn’t hurt, and I rocked it. I lost those 40 pounds after about 6 months of getting serious.

Fast forward to when my son was born a year ago, and everything hurts, all the time, and I can’t walk for 5 minutes. I had 25-30 pounds to lose, and I knew my treadmill wasn’t going to do me any good. I decided to try a stationary bike (I can’t ride a 2-wheeler for balance reasons), so a friend and I traded her bike for my treadmill. I couldn’t do the bike unless I was wearing my braces, but I could do it. Most days. So on the days I could do it, I did it as fast as I could for as long as I could. I aimed for 20 minutes twice a day, which became 10 minutes twice a day. For a while, I couldn’t do it at all. Then, last week, in an effort to lose that last bit of baby wieght, I set out to do 15 minutes, twice a day, for 11 days (until my son’s 1st birthday). I only lasted nine of those days, until I just couldn’t anymore, but I can tell it made a big difference. I’m still doing my ab exercises on my easy shaper, and eventually I’ll go back to taking it slow on the bike. All that to say… EVEN YOU CAN DO IT! You might have to modify some exercises for yourself, and there will probably be a lot of trial and error, but you can do it! If you have a doctor or therapist you see regularly, ask them to help you design a program that will work for you. And if you find some things you can’t do, DON’T GIVE UP! Keep searching, and run with the things you can do!

To my readers who do not have use of their legs, I have done some online research, and found some effective exercise ideas (even cardio!) that you can do from a wheelchair! Usually, links don’t work when I post them from my laptop, but here are the sites:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/108802-exercises-people-wheelchairs/

http://www.ehow.com/way_5518274_exercises-people-wheelchairs.html

http://www.ehow.com/video_8000390_abdominal-exercises-wheelchair.html

 

Getting Fit: Skinny Girl Tips

So, my sister started this great getting fit page for moms. Just a community where friends can share their tips, ideas, successes, and frustrations. I am not overweight now, but I was after my daughter was born. Getting fit is a tough road for anyone, but having a disability adds extra challenges. But with patience and determination, I did it. I did it again after my son was born a year ago.

I did not use fad diets or expensive memberships to do it. I did it on my own, with simple diet changes and excersize. I believe that if I can do it, just about anyone can do it.

So each week on my sister’s page, I share a Skinny Girl tip of the week. Just a simple change you can make to get the weight off and keep it off. I thought I would share with you, too! Disabled or not, I think these tips can help anyone who wants to lose wieght or be healthier.

Before and after pics are soon to come!

 

Skinny Girl tip of the week:

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. Right now, it may seem like you’ll never reach your goal. And in 6 months, if you don’t start now, you’ll still be the same. But what if, 6 months from now, you had a totally different body? That can happen! If you stay determined and consistent,  you could lose those 10, 20, or 40 pounds in 6 months! Just remember that there will, and should be, a few cheat days and mistakes. And don’t worry, it DOES NOT mean that you can’t eat like a normal person. Imagine yourself a totally different person by January. YOU CAN DO IT!