Our miracle RAINBOW BABY BOY arrived 8/2018

1st IVF = BFN
2nd IVF = Baby A, born May 2015
3rd IVF = Miscarriage at 14 weeks
4th IVF = BFN
After we paid for 5th IVF, positive pregnancy without IVF!

Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

My Foray Into Fasting

C finished his fries, without any help from me!
Never, in my life, have I gone to In-n-Out without eating SOMETHING. If I didn't order something for myself, I would at least steal some from my children before I handed it over to them (sorry, kids), or eat what they didn't finish; hungry or not. I mean, I can take half of C's fries and he can't even say a thing about it.

Yet yesterday, while hungry, I gave them each their own cheese fries without taking even one. Not one! I could have easily done this and at least the younger of the two would have been none-the-wiser. How did I accomplish this amazing feat? It was solely due to the fact that I had started my fasting app and was already counting down the 16 hours until I could eat again. I'm not exaggerating when I say that to me, it feels like a superpower.

Starting my fasting app on my phone is like activating an invisible magic shield around me, seriously! I have tried everything and finally, found something that works! And it's simple! I do not eat anything for 16 hours (sometimes I go 19 or more) and then I eat whatever I want for 6-8. Then, BAM! I activate the protective shield again. 

Now, before you think I just don't snack a lot, like eating things that are really bad for me or have an appetite, my friends can attest: I do! On our first date, I ate more than my husband, who is 6'4" tall. Granted, I was training for an ultra-marathon but still, I can really put it away. And running only burns about 100 calories per mile. To put it another way: You have to run the length of a football field to burn off ONE M&M. One. Resisting chocolate that I love may be hard, but so is burning it off. I asked myself why am I doing all this work by running and undoing it all by eating too much?

There are several different types of, or ways to, fast. This one is called the 16:8. I've done it every day since the end of December and am "only" down 4 pounds, but more determined than ever! I say "only" because it feels like it should be much more, but this is actually the rate one is supposed to loose at. Too rapid, and it isn't likely to be gone for good. Plus, I have also stopped the gaining trend that I was on when my eating was out of control.

My energy and confidence are though the roof, too! It feels good to finally be doing something to get to where I want to be, health-wise and also to feel good in my clothes (and skin) again! I feel in control again.

So, why did I start fasting? My primary care doctor recommended it. I met with her in the fall, and was lamenting that although I got close to my pre-baby weight awhile back, I had since gone back up again. I entered summer 10 pounds from where I wanted to be, but started December almost 30 pounds from my goal. Returning to work was tough, and I was eating too much because I was busy or stressed or lacked the time to do meal-planning. Or because it was a way to unwind after I put the kids to bed, while watching my murder mysteries. My doctor told me to start intermittent fasting, and told me that it was what she does.

Getting my eating in check needed to happen. I run more days than I don't; always 3 miles. But exercise is only 20% of it! What you put into your body is actually 80% of the reason we look the way we do. And running is so hard! Did you know that you do not even burn enough calories running a marathon (26.2 miles) to even loose a pound!? Yep, I can get out there and run for 5 hours and still not loose one pound. So, regulating diet just has to happen no matter how active we are.

Fasting, just like any other diet, will not work long-term unless you stay on it.  But this is so easy that I seriously cannot imagine myself ever not doing it. Proponents of fasting say that we have been lied to and that not eating for a period of time will increase our metabolism, not lower it. Breakfast is a marketing ploy and evolutionary speaking, something that humankind is not accustomed to doing! We would get up and go try and find food, not sit in bed eating it. 

Is intermittent fasting for everyone? No. But there is something out there for you, and if you haven't tried fasting, it may exactly what you need. I've tried a lot of other things before this. Most recently, a family member's husband got down to his goal weight by simply tracking his calories on an app. It tired what he was using for months and every day, felt like a failure. I started out strong every day, but would quit reporting whenever I went over my targeted calories; usually around 4pm. I could not stick to it and tracking everything I ate almost made me think even more about food.

That's what I like about fasting - it is mindless. Yet it is also making me mindful of just how much unplanned eating I was doing! So much more than I realized. I would finish off my daughter's bean and cheese burrito when I wasn't hungry, eat a few handfuls of cheetos when packing her lunch and have slices of cheese just because. I like that I can have whatever I want and that no foods are off limits. None! So now, when I'm packing her lunch at night and I want those chips, I pack them to have the next day. Often times, when the next day rolls around, the craving has passed. At night, when I was usually snacking, I now have mint tea. And I actually look forward to it.

That's the thing: When we can eat whatever we want, whenever we want, we don't really enjoy or appreciate it. Now, when I split an ice cream sundae with my husband, I savor it, instead of just wolfing it down. He’s been doing this too, and is down 10 pounds even though he’s only doing it a few days a week.

Eating small, healthy portions frequently was just so much work! Also, it gave me numerous opportunities to royally mess up throughout the day. Think: The break room of any school, which is steps away from my office. I never passed up something when I wasn't hungry, let alone while hungry and now, it's a non-issue. It's almost easy.

It is also shrinking my portions without effort. When I started this, I thought well, I'll just have "whatever" I want during those hours. But I'm finding that I don't. When I go over 16 hours without food, it doesn't take nearly as much to fill me up. And, as Dad has always said: Hunger is the best spice. A kale salad never tastes as good as when you're starving.

Many people have become rich over new diet schemes and plans. There's the paleo diet, Atkins, low-carb, Keto, HCG, Zone, and countless more. But what I like about intermittent fasting is how easy it is! And, according to this review of 9 popular diets, it is one of the most effective. 

Other diets try and make things more complicated than they need to be. It’s simple: calories in and calories out. Have a deficit of 3,600 and you’ll loose a pound. Excess of 3,600 and you’ll gain. It doesn’t matter what time of day you consume them, how many of them are macros or what the ratio of protein to carbs is. Calories in-calories out.

It's really more of an eating pattern than a diet. And it's one I can live with, long-term. Hopefully, it will also help me live longer, as proponents of this lifestyle tout. And if none of what is written below is true? Well, at least I'll be hitting the beach in Coratia this summer and not hiding from the camera.  

Many studies have been done on intermittent fasting, in both animals and humans.
These studies have shown that it can have powerful benefits for weight control and the health of your body and brain. It may even help you live longer.
Here are the main health benefits of intermittent fasting:
  • Weight loss: As mentioned above, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories (113Trusted Source).
  • Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes (1).
  • Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases (17Trusted Source18Trusted Source19Trusted Source).
  • Heart health: Intermittent fasting may reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance — all risk factors for heart disease (120Trusted Source21).
  • Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may prevent cancer (22Trusted Source23Trusted Source24Trusted Source25Trusted Source).
  • Brain health: Intermittent fasting increases the brain hormone BDNF and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease (26Trusted Source27Trusted Source28Trusted Source29Trusted Source).
  • Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats lived 36–83% longer (3031).

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

December, 2019

We started December with a successful snow-seeking mission. Here in Southern California, flat-landers like us flock to the local ski resorts at the first flurry. It actually rained for a few days here, which equals snow up there. And so the resorts opened and traffic piled up. We avoided those areas and instead, drove to the sleepy, quite community a stone's throw from where I grew up: Oak Glen. GrandpaGlennie came with, and A had a blast sledding down a small hill, pushed by her uncle. "Again! Again!" She would cheer as soon as she finished one run, and Uncle Glen would oblige. I took a few turns with her, and C went down once as well, although he didn't enjoy it nearly as much.

We brought our three dogs with us (foster dog Colette stayed behind), not knowing that there was actually a dog park at the old stone school house. They had a blast galloping off-leash and romping in the snow. I didn't notice it at the time, but little Trevi was by me every step of the way on our sled rides down the small hill. Only in reviewing the photos once we were home did I see that she ran beside me and never let herself get more than a few feet away from me. She is such a good friend, or co-dependent, depending on how you look at it.

A is continuing gymnastics and loving it. She is cautious and risk-adverse (which we are thankful for) but does a great job with every challenge her teacher gives her. She is also loving school, though we are already working through some mean-girl scenarios. I knew this would come eventually, but never expected that it would be an issue even before kindergarten. To complicate matters, some of the girls are periodically nice to her, and this confuses her and has prevented her from cutting them off completely. She has such a kind, sweet heart, and it's tough when I learn that others are hurting her with their words or actions. Rather than asking her to tell the teacher, we're trying to give her skills on how to respond, and help her make good choices with who she chooses to be friends with. I also try to help her understand that anyone who hurts her is hurting in some way, otherwise they wouldn't lash out.

The second weekend in December found us still trying to decorate our tree, keep up with clean laundry and continue wrapping presents. But we don't let any of that get in the way of fun outings! On Sunday, the kids and I left at 7:30am to have a Santa Brunch at the American Girl store in LA. It was actually really nice that it was so early, because there was zero traffic and a whole lot of parking. The event took place before the store opened for the day, which I liked. Santa was there as we entered and she had her photo with him. Both of her dolls were seated at our table and given plates, cups and a place-mat to keep. They served us warm cinnamon rolls before our entrees. I brought C and I'm pretty sure he ate about half my omelet! A had mini pancakes. The portions were great, and our meals even came with dessert. After that, it was time for some shopping...even though Christmas is around the corner. She picked out a Bitty Baby with accessories that she named Eyelash.

Later that same day, my husband and I attended Handel's messiah performed by the Pacific Symphony. While it was nice to slow down and listen to beautiful music without multi-tasking, after about an hour I started wishing that we were at a hockey game instead. Then, there would be more action and at least some fighting. Right then and there I decided that would be his Christmas gift. During intermission, we purchased some skittles that we were not allowed to eat inside. Apparently, the giant box is mean to be consumed in the lobby at lightning speed. But didn't stop my husband; there's a reason that they call him Nate Danger. During the performance, he started eating them, which caused me to start giggling. And nothing is as funny as when you are trying to be quiet. We left after two hours, beat the line of cars out of the parking structure and went to dinner at TGI Fridays where we were able to have a conversation without being interrupted by our kids. Of course, the conversation was mostly about our kids.

Not wanting the month to be too busy, we opted to skip both kids' Christmas performances, which helped. "Can we do this?" I asked my husband, when I was first considering not going. Of course we can! For A's class song, I left it up to her. At first she said she did want to go, but when I explained that we would not be home until it was dark and almost time for bed, she (thankfully) declined. Because her class was in the beginning, parents are held hostage for well over an hour while all others perform before collecting them from the classroom and then fighting traffic to leave the parking lot. We also chose to no have her do after-school dance so that she can be picked up each day at 2:30 or 3 at the latest. Time with her is invaluable, and the last thing I want is to have less of it.

I worked at my photography business every weekend in December. I had Christmas portraits as well as a first birthday and a 50th birthday party to attend. I actually enjoy it! When I used to waitress eons ago, I couldn't really enjoy the day if I had to go in to work that evening. I would be happily going about my day and then remember that I had to work later and it would steal my joy. I'm very much an introvert, and being behind the lens suits me. I get to be an observer, and enjoy taking in the atmosphere without really having to interact with anyone. I also enjoy editing the photos, although I still have a lot to learn. I love that I can do this part from home, and take little breaks to play Barbie Dreamhouse, let C bounce up and down on me or give tickle-attacks.

The extra money helped us not get quite so far in debt with all of the Christmas presents as we would otherwise. I was able to treat my girl to (almost) anything she wanted at the American Girl store without feeling guilty, buy them some extra presents, and save toward their birthday parties next year, which of course I'm already planning. While I can definitely be a procrastinator in some areas of my life (any doctoral paper) there is nothing I enjoy more than planning their parties. It is my happy place. If I'm stressed out, overwhelmed or missing Mom, I start visualizing her next party, browsing pinterest boards or email some vendors and it quickly dissipates.

It was my first time hosting the 9th annual girls' Christmas party. We've been getting together since before I was married and Delia and I are now the only two who have been to every one (we missed you, Kim!). I cooked a prime rib and the girls brought the sides. Delia and her daughter drove over 2 hours to be at the party even thought she had a 6am flight to Park City the following morning.
Image may contain: 7 people, including Megan Heather, Kay Keng Phy, Delia Park and Cindy Gleason, people smiling, people sitting and christmas tree
We all have different mile markers along the road of life to denote when we have finally "arrived." For some, it may be the ability to vacation. For others, it could be a hefty savings account or stock portfolio. For me, it is having more than one Christmas tree, apparently. About 15 years ago, I worked at the museum at Cal State while I was completing my undergrad and graduate degrees. I worked with a woman whom we will call Sharidy (well, because that's her name) who talked quite a bit about her Mom's 5 trees. I remember thinking they must live in a mansion to have room for that many trees, and being slightly disappointed when I visited and realized that 3 of them were table-top sized. Still, multiple trees were nearly inconceivable to me, living in my 250 square foot studio apartment where putting in a full-sized tree would have blocked my entrance to either the super-small galley kitchen, or the bathroom.

Last year was our first Christmas in our new home and we purchased one, large fresh tree for the formal living room. I had filed away this multiple tree aspiration of mine, and although we did get a small tree for A's room, that was it. But the former owner left a 7 foot pre-lit tree in the attic, and I had my husband get it down this year. I put it in the entry way near the stair-case and placed all of my Mom's ornaments on it: strands of pearls, pink bows, angels and topped with a pink Santa. It felt good to have them out of the box and on display. My hubby found another pre-lit tree on black Friday sale and then I happened upon an estate sale while out for a morning run with the kids and scoped up another for only $5. We left the new one in the box but put the others up, as well as a small, fresh one in A's room again, for a total of 4. Thinking of how proud Mom would be and how much she loved Christmas, I decided we will always have multiple trees. I thought back on how blessed we are to have the room, and thought back to my days working at the museum and paying $395 per month for rent in my small, studio apartment in Redlands.
Image may contain: christmas tree and indoorImage may contain: christmas tree, plant and outdoorImage may contain: christmas tree and indoorImage may contain: christmas tree, plant, tree and outdoor
We celebrated Christmas with my Dad and brother a little early, because we were going up to Oregon to stay with my in-laws beyond the New Year. Mom and Dad always went above and beyond to make all of my Christmases magical and he continues to do so. This year was my hubby's turn to receive the "wow!" gift, which will be passed on to Charles.

The aftermath.
My husband drove up to Oregon with the dogs, and the kids and I flew days later. Before we left, A and I went to Disney on Ice with our neighbor friends. We had seats on the floor; second row. Being close made a huge difference, and we plan to make it a tradition. I also got together with my childhood friend and her family. Time with her passes far too quickly, the mark of any good friendship.  
Auntie Andrea and I have been best friends since 6th grade.

Christmas in Oregon was great for A because she was able to spend time with her cousins, grandparents, Uncle Ben and her pony. It's a vast, magical place, compared to the postage stamps that we live on here in Southern California. Our favorite thing to do there is let pony roam free. We walked 3 miles most days (kids in stroller) and I also ran 3 miles almost every day. while we were there, we celebrated Uncle Ben's birthday, as well as JP's.

Baby C walked almost the entire loop around the lake which is about .7 miles. We only picked him up on the rocky, gravel road because wanting to pick up and throw every rock he saw slowed our pace. He protested, because he wanted to walk more. As we were rounding the back part, I imagined him walking this same path once we're gone and tears instantly welled up in my eyes. Yet the thought is comforting at the same time: to have a place that we leave to them where they have built so many memories. That I'm not the end of a chain, but rather a link.
This month, C started hugging us randomly and just hasn't stopped. It's so cute to see him walk over to sister, lean in and wrap his arms around her. Or grandpa, Grandma, Trevi or a singing Santa Claus stuffed toy. Then, he's off playing. He can navigate stairs (both up and down), loves to throw balls and now nods his head yes. When I ask him where something is and he doesn't know, he puts his hands out, palms up. Its about the cutest thing ever.

Things I don't want to forget about this month:

Currently Reading: 

  • Tree lighting at SJB when Charles started running in the direction of the bigger kids.
  • Words: uh-oh, woah, dada
  • Shaking head yes while on a hike out behind our house
  • When I opened his car door he said "Hiiiiiii clear as day and waved with a huge smile."
  • "Mommy, can this be my song?"
  • Conversations about Heaven with A.