Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dear Buddy - Rest in Peace

I feel a little silly. I am crying over a hamster. On Tuesday night, our little hamster Buddy passed away. He was our first family pet (technically second since my husband and dog early in our marriage)! He was a birthday gift to my youngest daughter more than 2 years ago, and even though I fought every step of the way against getting her a little hamster (but compromised because I didn't know how to take care of a turtle), I have grown to love him.
Buddy filling his mouth with his favorite treat - granola

Buddy has lived a long life for a satin hamster, and he was special. So while it seems a little weird, I have been bawling my eyes out since Tuesday evening when he died. I have been crying for a couple of reasons. The first, because I truly did care about this little guy. The second, because this is the first real lose my children have ever felt in the short lives. Trying to explain death is difficult. My daughter told me she didn't know her heart could hurt so bad.

While he was a birthday gift for my daughter, he truly was a "family" pet, and he was a unique one at that. He ran in circles before he had to pee.... just like a dog! He purred... just like a cat. Yet, he still seemed to want to always escape... just like a hamster. We truly were blessed.

We knew his time was coming to a close. He had been sick for the last week. He had started to shun food and water and he was no longer nocturnal, as he slept most of the time. On Tuesday night, when my husband checked on him, he was breathing very shallow. We knew it was time so we called all the kids around us to say their final goodbyes. It was a very emotional evening for us. He may have only been a hamster, but he was a big part of our family.

Cuddling one last time. We held him
for two hours that night. I hope he found
comfort in peace that his family love him!
I told my children that in death, we must celebrate life. So we discussed some of our favorite memories of Buddy. My daughter used to get him out of his cage and watch Saturday morning cartoons. She would fall asleep with him in her hands. How we didn't lose him, I am still not sure. But that hamster loved Saturday morning cartoons... or cuddling... or maybe both. When we gave him treats, whether it was some kind of nut, or granola, or raisins, he would fill his mouth so full. We always would laugh at how big he could get those little cheeks. Once we even gave him a taste of a pickle. I never saw a funnier sour face. This is the only hamster I know, that liked to give Hamster kisses. That could be because my daughter Bella trained him to do so, because every night before she went to bed, she would bring him downstairs in order to say good night.

This little escape artist chewed through 3 cages, yet, he never completely ran away. He always came back... because we were family. It was such a joy to have him as part of our life, and I am pretty sure we will never have another hamster again. There isn't another one out there that will ever be able to replace him.

Today, my heart is still breaking over this crazy little hamster. Yet, I know he is in a better spot. And just like I told my children, he will always be in our hearts. Rest In Peace Buddy. We miss you!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What a Difference a Month Makes - 21 Day Fix and Beachbody

I just love this!
It has been awhile since I have last written anything on my blog. There are some really good reasons and some really lousy excuses that go with this. The good reasons -- I have been working on myself and my health. I haven't really shared this information because I was afraid. I was afraid of putting myself out there; I was afraid that someone would feel I was trying to sell them on Beachbody; but most importantly, I was afraid of failing.

This meant, I had nothing good to say. You might even chalk it up to a form of writer's block. At least that is how I viewed it. I didn't want people to know. I didn't want to feel like I was phishing for compliments. I wanted them to take notice and cheer me on without me having to ask them.

My lousy excuses... I work full-time. I have a husband and kids. I have been running back and forth to appointments. This leaves me with very little time to focus on my writing, especially since I was already focusing on my health. These are lousy excuses in my book because I feel like I gave up a part of me by not writing regularly. For me, this is almost a necessity because it is who I am and what I need to do to be well balanced. Part of working on myself should include writing, as well as my workouts and spending time with both family and friends. The last time I was a success in my health, I was writing about it daily. It kept me real with myself and it kept me accountable.

So my journey began a while ago, but I am just now writing about it.

At the beginning of the year, I finally took off my rose-colored glasses and realized how disappointed I was in myself. I had let myself go, both mentally and physically. I was a wreck! Most people probably didn't even realize this because I do a really good job of wearing a mask. This is my protection. I don't let many people in.

Back in 2011, I had lost a serious amount of weight doing the Beachbody program P90X. I hated myself for gaining it all back. My skinny clothes started getting pushed to the back of my closet, and every time I went to the store, I found I had to buy bigger and bigger sizes. I blamed it on the manufacturers because it was obviously their fault and not mine. So I had signed up to become a Beachbody coach once again. Not so I could sell the product, but so I could become a discount coach and use the products myself. Yet, I continued to fail.

I was and continue to go through therapy sessions to treat my depression... something that is a whole different blog post by itself. VA finally approved my disability and I was being treated. Treatment left me completely vulnerable and the weight continued to creep up. I couldn't even find the motivation to workout and my eating habits were atrocious.

At the start of 2015, things were going to change. I was on way too many medications for depression and anxiety. I was becoming dependent and honestly, I wasn't really that happy on them either. I thought this was causing me to get fluffy. After all, I would never admit to being fat. But lets talk realistic. I was fat.

Yes - I do realize there are others out there worse than me, and when I tell people that I am fat, I often get a look of disapproval and those kind words that make things even worse, stating that they didn't know why I was being so hard on myself. So I joined Weight Watchers. I had a herniated disk in my lower lumbar spine and I couldn't work out... so I had to focus on eating. I started Weight Watchers at...(BIG SIGH!)... 198.6 pounds! On my 5 foot 7 inch frame, I was considered obese, but I hid it well. At least that was what I had been told. Saying that to myself just seems like another excuse not to be healthy. When I look at pictures now, I realize I didn't hide it well at all. In fact, I looked like a stuffed sausage. Harsh words? Maybe... Negative... absolutely.

The thing about a weight loss journey is it is a roller coaster. Not every day is going to be positive. You are going to say hateful things to yourself, things that you would never in a million years consider saying to another human beings. These are those words coming out. It has definitely been an emotional ride.

It wasn't until I had already dropped several pounds that I was able to start incorporating exercise back into my regiment. My back was finally starting to feel better... and so was my mood. No pun intended, but as the pounds melted off, I had felt a large weight being lifted from my shoulders! So I started the 21 Day Fix program.

As a disclaimer - I did not do this program as it was intended. Since I was already on Weight Watchers, a program that I was comfortable with to help me with my eating habits, I did not follow the eating program suggested by creator Autumn Calabrese, with the exception of regularly including Shakeology in my diet. I also started off knowing that I wasn't going to be able to do workout after workout for a solid 21 days. I was still being treated for my herniated disk in my lower back and I was aware that I worked long hours. I didn't want to overdo it. So, I did what I have always done. This technique has allowed me to be successful in the past... so I modified.

This program took me from February 10th until March 17th, which is approximately 2 weeks longer than the actual program. This doesn't bother me, because I am seeing positive changes.

I have done several Beachbody programs in the past... P90X is my original, but I also have TurboFire, Yoga Booty Ballet, 10 Minute Trainer, PIYO, and P90X3... but 21 Day Fix is simply becoming one of my favorites. The workouts are short, only about 30 minutes. This means it is doable for just about anybody. They also have someone that modifies the moves, and you see these modifications right from the beginning. My husband, who had his knee replaced in November 2014 is able to do almost everything in this program, with modifications. If he can do it that quickly after knee replacement surgery, anybody can do it. There are also 7 workouts. This means you only repeat each one 3 times during the entire 21 days. How can you get bored when every day of the week is different?

However, this is what I really enjoy with the 21 day fix. While Weight Watchers is helping me lose the weight, (It is hard to stand on a scale in front of somebody every week and not behave with your food!), 21 Day Fix is helping me tone up. Between Shakeology and gaining muscle, my weight loss has been accelerated. Since I started Weight Watchers, I have lost 21.2 pounds. (I have gained muscle which has caused the scale to go in the other direction, but one pound of fat takes up so much more room!) It is not an outrageous amount, however, a weight loss journey should be slow, because that means it is becoming a lifestyle change and not just a fad.

So here are my results from the 21 Day Fix... Round 1 (Measurements started February 10th)

5.8 pounds lost
1.3% body fat lost
14 inches gone

I don't know about you, but the inches is what I am looking for. I am wearing jeans from 4 years ago. (Yes - I might be a bit of a hoarder to have kept them that long, but I couldn't bare to part ways with them because they were expensive jeans!) These jeans are equivalent to the size I was wearing in High School. And you know what? They are actually getting big, even though the numbers on the scale are about 25 pounds heavier than I was in high school! I am only stating this to articulate the fact that it isn't always about the number on the scale. It is about the whole picture!

Speaking of pictures... here is the before!

Here is the after!

Can you tell the difference?

I still have a ways to go. My journey isn't even close to being done! And frankly, these pictures kind of suck! It would be easier if I didn't take them myself with a tripod. So here they are - completely raw with crappy lighting included!

Today I share this with you. I am making myself very vulnerable by posting these pictures and talking about my inside thoughts, something I haven't done a lot of lately. 2015 is going to be a year of changes. Tomorrow I start Round 2 of the 21 Day Fix, and this time I am dragging my husband with for the ride. Together as a team, not only will we both be stronger, but we will be setting a good example for our children.

As I continue with this journey, I realize I am no longer interested in just being a discount coach. I want to use Beachbody as a means to help motivate others to be successful in their own health journeys. I want to create a team who wants to work together and become stronger. Mostly though, I want to inspire others and work with them to help achieve their goals.

I am asking for your help and your support, and in return, I hope that you ask for mine.

If you want to follow my journey, please like my Facebook page Stacy Harris: Health, Fitness & Life Feel free to message me if you have any questions, because it is my aim to help others, but it is up to you to take the first step.

If you want to check out our Challenge Packs at Beachbody, visit my website or if you want more information on Shakeology click here.

Virtual Mirror