Health

Namaste

Today’s post is one that have been thinking about a great deal, and I will probably spend a lot of time writing it.  Because it is about something that is extremely near and dear to me.  And that something is my yoga practice.

When I tell people that I practice yoga daily, they make a few assumptions.  They assume I can do this:

Yoga

Or maybe this:

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Or at least this:

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They will tell me, “You’re so lucky to be flexible!  I could never do yoga.”

But the first time I walked into a yoga class, I could touch my knees when I folded forward, if I were warmed up.  My shoulders were hunched forward, my left leg was shorter than my right leg, I didn’t even know that you were supposed to be able to move your hips, and I was unable to sit or stand up straight.  I not only lacked flexibility, but strength as well.

I had intended to lose weight before going to my first class, but that did not seem to be happening quickly, and my curiosity finally won out.  My best friend in Michigan loved yoga and kept talking about how great it was, and how nobody judges you.  So I had to see for myself.

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Jocelyn is moving across the country, just so she can go to yoga with me more often!

Adventures at the Gym

I wrote about that first yoga class, and a very inexpensive gym, here.  I made my baby steps for over a year, going through spurts of consistent practice.  After I moved from the apartment to the boat, I missed class for quite a few weeks.

When I went back, we had a different teacher.  She moved a lot faster and did more complicated poses.  I was unable to keep up, and unable to figure out how to modify them.  She did not offer any suggestions, and I felt like I did not belong.  When I got home, I texted our previous teacher, who said that she was no longer teaching at that gym.  She suggested that I try the gym where she practiced, which happened to be very close to the marina.

The good part about living on a teeny tiny boat is that you often have more disposable income.  So we paid to join this very fancy gym.  They had a separate room just for the yoga classes.  They had mats we could borrow–which was great, because the cat had destroyed mine–and something I had never seen before: props.

There were blocks that brought the floor up to my hands when I could not reach it, straps that helped me hold my legs up in the air, and these weird wedge things.  I asked a girl in the class what those were for, and she said she thought they were for sitting on (they are not).  So we both began every class by sitting on a wedge thing.

wedge

I don’t think the teacher had any idea what to do with me, but she often encouraged me to be creative with my use of the props.  I felt welcome, and my flexibility improved a little while I was going there.

Then that teacher moved to Arizona, and the gym reduced their yoga classes to one evening a week.  We had one teacher I really liked–a young new mother who passionately taught us about something called vinyasa.  She encouraged us to practice with our eyes closed, which I loved and still do, and to move at our own pace.  As we did those first sun salutations, I felt like I was dancing.  She had no individual advice for me, but we often talked after class, about listening to my body, not being self-conscious, and about letting go and moving with the breath.

Motherhood quickly called her away, and we had an older lady teaching our class.  I set up my mat in my usual space, in the front of the room, off to the left.  The teacher–she never even told us her name–came in and set up her mat to the left of where I was sitting.

“We face this direction in my class,” she told me.  I nodded and turned my mat to face the left side of the room.

“I am telling you, in case you don’t want to be in the front,” she said.

“Okay,” I replied, and continued setting up my props.

“You might want to go to the back, so you can watch everyone else,” she said.

“Thanks, but I’m okay,” was my response.

“Go to the back of the room,” she insisted.

Embarrassed, I took my mat to the back of the room.  I did not watch everyone else, because I preferred to practice with my eyes closed.  Being in the front of the room was important to me at that time, because I was still working through body image issues.  It was my way of telling myself that I belonged.  Maybe this teacher was just trying to help me, but I did not take it that way at the time.

I was acknowledged one other time during the class.  We were supposed to clasp our hands together behind our back and lift our arms.  The teacher suggested that we might want to use our strap for this.  My shoulders were extremely tight at the time, and I had a previous injury to my left shoulder.  I tried it with the strap, but it hurt a lot.  It was much more comfortable without it, even though I couldn’t lift my arms very high.

The teacher walked to the back of the room and told me to use my strap.  I said that it made my shoulders hurt, but she just handed it to me and repeated that I needed to use it.  So it did, even though my shoulders complained, loudly.

The funny thing is that I didn’t even stay until the end of class.  On the schedule, the class was supposed to be one hour.   Iliana was allowed to stay in the childcare room for up to two hours, so I had come and hour early to run on the track.

When we first started, the teacher said that, by the way, her classes were always 90 minutes.  I did not have that much childcare time left, so I was not unhappy to pack up my mat and props and leave the class 30 minutes early.

That was the last time I set foot in the yoga room at that gym.

dancer
My favorite balance pose!

It Starts…

I went a few months without yoga, and after we bought a new boat, we could no longer afford the fancy gym membership.  So when I decided to start working out again, I was looking for less expensive options.

I found a free Zumba class at a nearby apartment complex, and I began pricing out yoga classes.  There were a lot of studios in our area, but they were all more expensive than the gym had been.  I googled “donation yoga class,” and much to my surprise, got a hit.  A small studio, not far from the marina, was temporarily offering class for a donation, one night a week.

I had no idea what to expect at a yoga studio.  I had such mixed experiences at the gyms, and I wondered if someone as tight and weak as me would even be welcome somewhere specifically dedicated to yoga.  I pictured a room full of people doing handstands.  But the price was right, and I was eager to start practicing again.

So on February 1, 2016, I ventured in to Moonlight Yoga and met the person who would change my life forever.

I was used to being invisible in the large gym classes, and I really did not want to draw a lot of attention to myself, since I didn’t exactly have a “yoga body.”  So I quietly made my way into the studio, deposited my money into the box, and was drawn like a moth to a flame, over to the vast prop rack.

blocks

It was like Christmas!  I grabbed myself a blanket, a strap, a couple blocks, a strange-looking cushion to sit on, a bolster, and a sandbag.  The mysterious wedge was also there, but I left it.  I found myself a spot kind of in the middle of the small room, next to a table that I could use to help me balance.

As I was getting settled in, a petite woman with the bounciest curly hair I have ever seen, approached me with a disarming smile, and introduced herself as Cass.  She asked me my name, and if I had practiced before.

I said, “I look like a beginner, but I’m not.  My muscles are very weak, but there is nothing wrong with them.”

Cass said we could work with that.  I told her the names of the gyms where I had practiced, and said the problem was that the teachers I liked kept leaving.  I joked that I had yoga teacher abandonment issues!

Cass laughed and said, “Well, I have been here for years and I am not going anywhere.”

Maybe it was because only one of my previous teachers even knew my name, but I felt anything but invisible during that first class at Moonlight.  Cass very quietly helped me to modify nearly every pose we did, using my multitude of props.  I didn’t just feel like I was not in the way–I actually felt welcome.

That night, Cass messaged me on Facebook, thanking me for coming to class.  We chatted a bit, and discovered that we both had experience working in special education.  She didn’t say anything about my wonky muscles, and I came back to class again the next week.  And the week after that.

One time in class, my shoulders hurt too much for me to hold downward dog at all.  Cass stopped the flow we were doing, and had all of us do shoulder stretches.  It felt amazing, and I had no more pain for the rest of the class.  I tucked that away in my mind, because I knew that I now had a tool I could use, whenever my shoulders were sore.

One night on Facebook, Cass posted that she had helped someone get into a handstand.  I jokingly commented that I wanted to do a handstand.  Cass surprised me by responding, “If you are determined, then I can get you there.”

She messaged me and said that her favorite quote was, “She believed she could, so she did.”  I got that printed on a tank top, upside down, so it will read rightside up when the time comes!

handstand

Well, if I wanted to do a handstand, then I would need to find it in my budget to go to class more than once a week.  So I told Cass that I would be going on Thursdays too.  She said, “I don’t teach that class, but CJ does.  You will like her.”

So off I went, not nearly as defensive as I had been at my first class with Cass.  CJ was very quiet and calm, and I told her all about my wonky muscles.  She said that was fine, and throughout the class, she encouraged us to be curious about what we can do, rather than being judgemental of our bodies or focusing on our limitations.  Every time she had the class do a pose, she would work with my individually to help me modify it.

After class, I noticed that CJ had a book by Ekhart Tolle.  I asked her about it, and we ended up spending the next 30 minutes discussing our favorite books and authors.  I only left because I was almost late taking Iliana to her scheduled activity that evening!

What evolved was a friendship defined by books, coffee, smoothies at the food co-op, and tales of unusual misadventures (that we both seem to have!).  CJ introduced me to yoga nidra, which did more to teach me about my own mind, than anything else.

Increasing Awareness and Beginning to do the Impossible

As I began attending yoga class 3 days a week, I learned more about my wonky muscles.  I built strength and learned that my challenges with flexibility were due to tight shoulders, hips, and hamstrings.  With regular practice, I made slow but consistent progress.

One of my first major milestones happened during the summer of 2016.  A lot of people liked ending class by going “legs up the wall.”  My legs did not want to go up the wall, but I could kind of convince them to, if I put something under my bottom.

legsupwall

Then one day, I happened to be sitting in front of the room in class, right next to Cass.  I mentioned that I was able to get my legs up the wall more easily there, probably because I was in a corner.  Cass said, “No, the corner has nothing to do with it.  It’s easier, because your hamstrings are lengthening.”

After savasana was over, I noticed that all of my props had been put away.  Cass gave me a huge grin and said she was proud of me.

The shape of my legs changed.  They had always been square on the back, like Ball Park hot dogs.  Now they were becoming more rounded, as my hamstrings became more defined.

From a very early age, I had been told that my legs were 1 1/8 inches uneven.  I wore a lift in my shoe for awhile.  But one day that summer, I noticed that walking felt different.  More balanced.  I sat on the ground, stretched out my legs, and noticed that they were the same length.  I had stretched out my hip muscles a lot, and that affected the way the length of my legs appeared.

My legs were looking different, feeling different, and hurting a lot less.  I decided it was time to have another go at a goal of mine: running a 5k.

I began training with my neighbor and best friend, Deanna.  We would wake up early, run around Clear Lake Shores island, shower, then ride to yoga together.  We noticed that we felt a lot more limber during yoga class, after running.

 

5k
My tiara didn’t make it through the race!

And so I ran my first 5k…and second, and third.  Each time I set a new personal record.

Tools for the Journey

I faced a lot of growth and challenges during the past 2 years, and yoga was my rock through all of it.

During the 2016-17 school year, I lost contact with a very close friend and mentee, and yoga helped me to sit with the difficult emotions, rather than stuffing them down or numbing.  During a yoga nidra class with CJ, after the guided meditation was over, I found a way, using visualization, to say good-bye to this friend.  After class, I told CJ about it, and she sat with me, holding my hands, while I cried.  Not trying to fix anything, not worrying about coming up with words, but just being with me while I processed.  It was one of the most beautiful things anyone has ever done for me.

After Hurricane Harvey,  Cass got the studio open as soon as possible, and a large group of us met, with fans still running to dry the flood water.  Cass lovingly led us through a restorative class, and at that moment it seemed to all of us that everything was going to be okay.  Being back with my second family was a return to normalcy.

As soon as Harvey ended, my challenges begun.  Yoga was the one constant through my difficult year.  There were evenings when I spent most of the class in child’s pose, with a blanket over my head.  I felt safe.  I felt protected.  And I knew that I could sit with my emotions, undisturbed.  Other times, I threw myself into my sun salutations and felt strong.

Yoga saw me through a shoulder injury that put me on leave for 3 weeks.  I took off my sling when I got to class, and promised not to put any weight on my shoulder or do anything that hurt.  Cass and CJ both helped me do stretches to relieve the pain and to maintain my range of motion.  In spite of constant fighting with my insurance company and doctor’s office, which led to me getting neither a diagnosis nor treatment, my shoulder recovered fully.

sling

The most important yoga class during this past school year, was the 6 am class.  This class met twice a week, and during the school year, I was the only student, at least once a week.  Cass and I had many conversations during these classes–sometimes while doing poses and sometimes while sitting on our mats.  She absolutely refused to let me fall into self-pity, even when it could be argued that I was entitled to it.

It was from these conversations that I learned to count my blessings, even when the world felt like it was falling down around me.  I learned to find reasons to be grateful, regardless of my circumstances.  I learned to stay hopeful, and I learned that I still had choices.  I always had choices.

The most important lesson I learned from those early-morning conversations was that I had value.  I saw how a pattern of not valuing myself had led me into my current situation, and that if I was going to get out of it, I would need to see my own worth.

When I look back on the past year, what stands out is not the pain and abuse I suffered, but the love I experienced.  It was a rare time, when I was able to see how many people loved me, and how much.  I will always remember those 6 am conversations with great fondness.

The most beautiful part of the story is that after I was able to get out of my situation, when things improved for me, the 6 am classes began filling up again.  I don’t know what you believe about God or anything being at the center of the universe, but it seems like more than a coincidence to me.

mat

Triumphs and Victories

I still had a Facebook account when I started going to classes at Moonlight, and it was helpful if we checked in.  I tried to do this frequently, but I always wanted to say something different and witty.

One time I said that I was training for the Yoga World Championships.  Then I googled it and found out this was a thing.  It seemed so wrong, since yoga is my nature non-competitive.  I then decided that my event would be savasana.

One time when I checked in, I said that I would be triumphant.  Another time, I was excited that I was able to do deer pose in class.  Deer is a restorative shape, but at that time it was challenging with my tight hips.

deer_pose_twist
It’s not challenging for me anymore!

I posted on Facebook that night that I was victorious for accomplishing this.  Cass responded with, “Everytime you come to class, it is a victory.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

yogainpark
From left: Cass, Deanna, me, CJ

Note:  Please visit Cass’s website.  And if you are on Facebook and would like more positivity in your newsfeed, you can follow her page here!

 

Health, Uncategorized

The Skinny of It All

rob6

I have been skinny most of my life.

When I was a teenager, I was too skinny.  But around the time I got married, I settled in at a healthy, happy weight, near the middle but slightly on the lower end of my healthy range.  This is what I weighed in the picture above, taken early in our marriage, before that lovely green car behind us died tragically in 2003.  I’ll call this happy, healthy weight “X.”

From time to time, I bounced above X, but I always found my way back.  One summer, I made it up to X+15, which horrified me.  My doctor recommended the South Beach Diet, so I gave it a try and was back to X within a month.  So that is how I continued.  I didn’t worry about my diet until I got to X+10, then I would do South Beach and get back down.

Then this happened:

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This, my friends, is X+45.

Fortunately, I was one of those disgustingly annoying mothers who had a very easy time breastfeeding.  Couple that with the fact that I was a tightwad, and that Iliana had serious stomach issues and wasn’t keen of eating solid food, and you get 22 months of calorie-burning breastfeeding goodness!  It didn’t take me long to get down to X+10, and for the next few years, I hovered between X+5 and X+10.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was embarrassed that I had to buy a size 8 for my brother-in-law’s wedding…  Iliana (she was 3 in this picture!) wore her dress on special occasions for the next 4 years.

I kept losing, slowly, even after Rob’s mom died unexpectedly in 2011.  I was looking pretty good by the time we set sail the summer of 2011, and I was between X and X+10 during the summer of 2012.

me (1)

Meanwhile, my work situation was becoming less and less wonderful.  It was getting more cut-throat, while the pay and benefits were decreasing.  The hours were increasing, taking me away from Iliana.  I began to see work as the price I had to pay, for 3 months of cruising.

And in 2013, I began to question that price.

That year, I was moved from the middle school to the high school.  At first I was on my guard and gained weight from emotional eating.  I wrote my first blog post about the topic, at this time.  I started a small support group, which was helpful for a couple of weeks.

Then it hit the fan at work, and I was thrown into insecurity.  I began to eat a pizza everyday for lunch.  First, one from Subway, but eventually that evolved into a Hot ‘N Ready.  As I made plans to make changes in my life, it only got worse.  I felt unsafe, and food grounded me.

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Here I am with my sister-in-law on my first visit to Texas.  I was between X+15 and X+20.

I thought moving to Texas would bring relief, but I found myself caught up in the same drama at work.  I gained a lot of weight that first year, getting up to X+43.

iliandme.jpg

We had a “greatest loser challenge” at work, and I took fourth place, getting down to X+30, which is where I remained for the next 3 years.  I was not excited about this weight, but I started working out and practicing yoga, which taught me a great deal about accepting where I am in any given moment, physically and emotionally.  (More about yoga in a future post!).

I began to notice that I was emotionally eating, and that I was unable to detect my hunger cues, so I started working with a dietician.  This was incredibly valuable, as she helped me to see my patterns and to brainstorm alternatives.  My dietician introduced me to the book, “Intuitive Eating,” which gave me many tools that I had been previously lacking and helped me to stop demonizing certain foods.  Through working with her, I was able to weigh myself regularily, without attaching so much emotion to the number on the scale.  It is just a data point.

xmas

Then came the 2017-18 school year.  This period of time brought more significant challenges than I had ever faced before in my life before then.  I began to use food as a coping mechanism more than ever.  It started out with a candy bar here and there, especially after work.

I stopped weighing myself during this time, but my weight was definitely creeping up.

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By Christmas, I was grabbing fast food after work, because the feeling of a full belly was so comforting.

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In the end, I was ordering a pizza for lunch–a whole pizza, delivered.  I would munch on it all day, to soothe myself at work.  Then I would still grab fast food on the way home, before eating dinner.

Then, on March 1, I went on leave from my job, permanently.  I wasn’t losing weight yet, but the pattern was broken.

selfieleave

The above picture is a selfie that Iliana and I took the first day I got to walk her to the bus stop!

Elijah's

My second week on leave, we took this picture of me at my “happy place,” Elijah’s retreat in Jacksonville, Texas.  When I got home, I finally stepped on the scale.  X+50.  I was 5 pounds heavier than my pregnancy weight!

After leaving my job, I did find that I was emotionally eating a lot less. I started going to yoga daily, which helped me to better process my experiences over the past year.  And I decided that I was ready to start actively working on weight loss.  I began with my old standby–low carb–and lost 7 pounds in 2 weeks.

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After this initial success, I went out for smoothies with one of my closest friends, who had gotten me through my challenging year with near-weekly smoothie dates on Saturday mornings.  I mentioned that I was eating low-carb, and she said, “I always had a lot of success with Weight Watchers.  I am a lifetime member now, which means I don’t have to pay to go to meetings.”

The seed was planted, so of course I had to check it out.

I browsed Weight Watchers’ website, and I really liked the simplicity and flexibility of the eating plan, and I knew that the emotional support at the meetings would be beneficial for me.  So I took advantage of an offer where I paid for 3 months upfront, and got 50% off.

My first meeting was an extremely positive experience.  I found that the positive atmosphere stood in contrast to the typically punitive attitude toward “dieting” that is pervasive in our culture.  It felt good, and it fit very well with what I had been learning in yoga and with my dietician.

Yes, we had to weigh in first, but it wasn’t the daunting experience I thought it would be.  People talked about weight and numbers very matter-of-factly.  It was one indicator of progress, and for me, it was a starting point.  I set my goal for X, and enjoyed hearing all the practical ideas people shared in the meeting.  I felt immediately accepted, and I loved our leader.  She was one of those people who instantly lights up a room.

In Weight Watchers, you earn charms for meeting milestones, and it did not take me long to earn my 5 pound charm.  And right after I earned it, I spent the weekend downtown at a moped rally.  I had asked for ideas about this upcoming rally, in the meeting.  Some people recommended choosing healthier choices at restaurants, carrying my own snacks, or even just not tracking and getting back on track after the weekend!  As much as I prepared, when it came down to it, I chose the latter.  And had a great time!

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At this point, I was X+38!

After the rally, I got right back on program.  I found that I felt better when I was more active.  Not exercising, per se, but just incorporating more activity into my day.  Weight Watchers has “fitpoints” that you track, so I wore a pedometer and started walking whenever I could.  A day’s worth of laundry could earn me nearly 9000 steps!  As my fitpoints goal increased, I noticed that I was hungry a lot more.  I started allowing my weekly points to go into the negative, by 20-40, and I kept losing 1-2 pounds a week.  If I was not as active, I gained weight.

And before I knew it, I earned my 10 pound charm!  By this point, I was getting comments about my weight loss, and I had to retire some of my clothing.  My yoga pants were falling down in class!  But the flowered dress still fit…

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Things slowed a bit after that, but with consistency (and a few ups and downs), I found myself at X+31 the first week of June.

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What you don’t know is that Iliana was showing the earliest signs of heat stroke in that picture, and her temperature spiked to 102.5 that night…it was terrifying…

With consistency, as well as taking a break during the occasional week, I made slow and steady progress.  I found that working through emotional eating required diligence.  I had to make more changes to my life, and make sure that I was spending time with people who were supportive.

And so here I am, currently at X+27!

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So….In the spirit of the many guest posts I wrote when I was a “serious” blogger, I am going to end this story with a take-away!

Here are some lessons I have learned in my weight loss journey:

  1.  Start with the groundwork.

    I worked with my dietician for over a year before I lost a pound.  At my first appointment, I had expected her to give me a meal plan that I could follow, so that I could lose weight quickly.  Instead, she helped me to see that I already knew a lot about nutrition.  And you likely do, too.  The information is readily available, and following any diet/food plan will result in weight loss.  Low-carb and low-fat are equally as effective.  So the important question is, why aren’t we eating the way that we know to eat?  I was unhappy, and food was my addiction that helped me cope with being unhappy.  Finding peace and happiness required a MAJOR life change that had nothing to do with food.  I don’t think weight loss would have happened if I had not quit my job.  Weight gain is a part of a larger picture, and a lot has to be unraveled before the pattern can be permanently changed.

2.  Consider professional help to get you started.

I worked with a dietician and a therapist.  Emotional eating is an addiction.  It is a              very socially accepted addiction, but it is an addiction nonetheless.  I was                              overeating because I was unhappy.  If I hadn’t worked with professionals to learn              tools and to gain the clarity to make changes in my life, I may have replaced my                  overeating with a different addiction.  It would have been the same scenario as the            AA members smoking outside, before their meeting.  Ending the cycle is hard, and              having  access to professional support can be very valuable.  I paid out of my                      pocket to see my dietician, and I will likely do it again after I reach my goal, to                      help me maintain.

3.  Actually read the book “Intuitive Eating.”

It’s not what most people think it is.  It is not about eating whatever you want and               forgetting the consequences.  It is about honoring your hunger and respecting                     your fullness.  And about allowing all foods into your life.  In the end, the focus                   turns to nutrition and making informed choices.  This book and the workbook                     have helped me tremendously in Weight Watchers.  While a lot of people in my                   meeting are strict about what they eat and avoid, I have indulged in poutine and                 lost weight!  Rob and I go out to a bar and split a burger and fries, and I order a                   beer.  A lot of people on Weight Watchers avoid pancakes, but I eat them (in                         smaller portions) most mornings.

4.  Approach it with a truly body positive attitude.

Like intuitive eating, the phrase “body positive” has been distorted in popular                     culture.  Notice how many “before” pictures I have, and how I am smiling in all of               them.  I enjoyed seeing and posting the selfie and Iliana and me, on my first day                 on  leave from my job, because I could see how happy I was.  I was beautiful in                   that  picture,  because that was such a powerfully life-changing day.  And in the                   picture when I was my heaviest, I was sitting in my happiest place, having made it             through an unbelievably awful school year.  I did not hate myself for being obese,               and I do not hate myself for being overweight.  However, I love myself too much to             remain a slave to an addiction.  I love myself enough to find peace and happiness.             Overeating was a poor substitute.  I love myself enough to be healthy.  I feel more               energetic when I eat balanced meals and am active.  My moods improve when I                 take care of myself.  Yes, I feel prettier when I weigh X.  But that does not mean I                 am ugly when I do not.  Being body positive means getting to know your body.  I                 weigh myself daily, so I can see my patterns.  I fluctuate by 1-2 pounds, then I                       dump down when it is close to a week.  One time I dumped the day after a weigh-               in!

5.  Find movement that you love!

I have never forced myself to go to yoga.  It makes me happy, it makes me feel                      good,  and it is a community where I belong, am valued, and am connected.  I                      modify, based on what I can do each day, so it never “kicks my butt.”  My practice                has become such a joyful part of my life, that I happily get up and go to class at 6                am twice a week!  Sometimes I do extra side planks during sun salutations, and                  sometimes I spend most of the class in child’s pose.  But showing up is never a                      problem.  Find your version of that, and you will never struggle to be active again.

6.  Find supportive friends.

Enlist your tribe!  I found supportive friends in my yoga class, and one of them                    actually joined Weight Watchers with me.  I have connected with a number of                      people from my meetings as well.  The reality is that not everyone will be                              supportive when you are making changes.  Weight loss is about so much more than            weight loss, and it will lead to changes in your relationships.  Make sure that you                are around people who are positive and supportive.

7.  And LAST…find a flexible food plan (or two).

The food plan really does come last!  Because if you don’t do the groundwork, you              will not stick to it.  But when you do it, remember that any diet will cause you to                  lose weight, if you can follow it.  So pick something that is easy to follow, for you!                The best advice I read, was to have two food plans.  Start with a food-list plan (such            as low carb or low fat), then have a counting plan (such as calorie counting) as a                  backup.  That way, if you eat bread or a doughnut, you are not off the hook.  You                  can count calories and stay on track.  Weight Watchers is primarily a counting                    plan,  but it also has a food list component.  I use it as my framework, then vary                  how I eat within it.  Sometimes I do vegan, sometimes I do low-carb, on and                          sometimes  I just eat small portions of my American favorites!

What has helped you on your weight loss journey?  Please share in the comments!

 

 

About Us

17 Years!

Today is Rob’s and my anniversary.  I wrote a post about our wedding and newlywed life on my old blog, but today I wanted to share some of my old pictures of the two of us together.

Here are some from while we were dating, back in high school and college:

At that time, I was a “big sister” to a boy named Eddie, who was included in many of our adventures!

On New Year’s Eve, 2000, right at midnight, we got engaged!

We were married July 7, 2001, at Zion Lutheran Church in Freeland, Michigan.  My mom told us not to smush the cake, so of course we had to!

Newlywed life!

At our first “tiny house!”

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Christmas!

On May 27, 2007, our family grew by one person!

It’s been 17 years of adventure, and I am grateful to have found someone who has been willing to explore, learn, and grow with me.  Today, the weather is supposed to be beautiful, and we have many plans for fun activities outdoors.

Happy anniversary, Rob!  And here’s to many more!

 

Boat

Loco Lobo

That boat you see at the top of the page, is our Chris Craft Commander 47, named Loco Lobo (Spanish for “Crazy Wolf”).  “Loco” is the fourth larger boat we’ve owned and the third boat we have lived on.

We began our adventures the summer of 2011, aboard Moonraker, an Islander I29 sailboat.

 

That summer was cut short when we ran the boat aground, but the next summer we sailed and lived aboard for 93 days.  We sailed from Bay City, Michigan (on Lake Huron) to Grand Haven (on Lake Michigan).  It was a wonderful experience, and we weren’t excited about returning to our house.

So the next summer, we moved to Texas!  We lived in an apartment for a year, then we bought our next boat, an Ericson 35-Mark 1.  It was appropriately named, Breaking Tradition.

 

On Breaking Tradition (or BT, as we called it) we had about 100 square feet of living space.  Iliana had the v-berth, where she had room for a youth matress on a platform, and some play space, also on the platform.  She practice piano on a partial keyboard, on the kitchen table.  Rob and I converted the dinette at first, for our bed, but eventually we upgraded to a twin mattress.

Sharing a twin mattress got old, by the time a year was up.  So when we had the opportunity to purchase Morning Mist, an Irwin 37 center cockpit ketch, we jumped at it!

 

Morning Mist was a huge (or as we say dow​n here, “Yuge!”) upgrade to our lifestyle.  We had a decent sized kitchen, Iliana had her own bedroom, complete with a desk, which would hold a full-sized keyboard for piano practice, and Rob and I shared the V-berth.  We lived on Morning Mist for 2 years.  It was about 400 square feet.

Across from Morning Mist, was an iconic boat in our marina, a large power boat named Loco Lobo.  Our first summer on Morning Mist, a friend knocked on our boat at 4 am.  He said he needed Rob, because Loco Lobo was sinking.  What ensued was a battle that took the rest of the night, but they were able to save the boat.  It had been partially submerged, however, so the carpet and wallpaper were stripped.

A year later, we had the opportunity to buy Loco Lobo, for the same price we had paid for Morning Mist.  In the past, we would have been hesitant to move to a power boat, but Rob had been working as harbor master for two years, and it seemed we would be in port for awhile.

We had intended to fix up Loco Lobo while we lived on Morning Mist, but when Morning Mist’s a/c quit working, we moved onto Loco full-time.  We had no carpet, but we slept on a Futon in the living room.  Iliana had a full sized mattress in her room, on a loft bed.  Loco saw us through Hurricane Harvey, and after the storm we began fixing it up.

We have approximately 480 square feet of living space on Loco Lobo, so while it is still considered a “tiny house,” it is nearly 5 times the space we had on our first boat!

So are you ready for the grand tour of our “floating mobile home”?

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Here is our cat, Popcorn, enjoying some television in the living room!  In the winter, we put a fireplace video on the TV.

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Our main salon is large enough that we can use apartment-sized furniture.

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Iliana’s keyboard has a permanent home, and the mirror has become her art gallery.

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The stairway to the aft cabin.

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Rob’s mom made this sun catcher, which has been in every place we have lived.

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Our dining room table and fish.  (His name is Luke Skywalker).

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This “Collector’s Casseroles” sign, which was made by my grandma, has also been in every place we have lived.

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My Fly Lady calendar!

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We do have a small galley for a boat this size, which is why we have so much space in our main salon.  The refrigerator is apartment-sized, and we have a large dorm-sized refrigerator on the aft deck as well.  The stove is electric, but we also have an alcohol stovetop for when we lose power.

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If there is a camera, Rob is in front of it!

So that is the main salon.  Iliana’s bedroom is in the bow of the boat.

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This preteen’s room is girly pink and modern.  And notice the sign that says, “Captain’s Quarters.”

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Ili’s bed, with her pile of emoji pillows that she inhereted from a live aboard kid who was leaving the marina.

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Her desk is underneath the bed.

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Her desk, aka creation station!

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And of course, a video game chair!

The aft cabin of our boat is the least finished, since it was submerged when the boat was sinking.  However, we have been plugging along at it!  It now has carpet, but not wall paper.

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The view from the stairway.  As you enter, there is an office area to the right, with a large desk and closet.  Right now, that area is storage for our washer and dryer (which currently do not work, but are fixable) and construction materials.

But to the left…

After nearly 4 years of sharing the bath house with the other boats, we have a working head!  The shower is the absolute height of luxury.

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We have a queen-sized bed.

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A rather large closet.

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And a very ugly dresser that will be removed to make room for the laundry machines!

As you can see, our decluttering is a work in progress.  I have been following the Fly Lady system, which I will tell you about in another post.

We look forward to showing you the improvements we make to our floating home, as they happen!

About Us, Uncategorized

Here We Go Again!

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At 10:00 this morning, I divorced Facebook.

I will go into my reasons why at a later date, but I had expected the absence of social media to create a lovely void, one that could be filled with positivity and purpose.  Instead, I was met with just a void.

I was tired, lacking direction, still peeking over at my laptop, as I tried to get motivated to clean our “house” (pictured above).  I cleaned out my email inbox, and excitedly checked, everytime a new message appeared.  Somehow, it lacked the excitement of Messenger and its “woop-ding!” notification sound.

Before I had left Facebook, I had notified the friends and family I wished to stay in touch with, and many of them said they would miss seeing my photos.  I had planned on doing an email mailing list, when my husband suggested that I write a blog once again.

I had written a semi-successful minimalist blog, Our Journey to Ithaca, for four years.  It had been a great experience for me, and I had found a lot of joy in writing and connecting with the minimalist blogging community.  But as the friends I had connected with began to end their blogs, it seemed that the time was right for me to wrap mine up as well.

And now the time seems right for me to jump back in.

So Who Are We?

We are the Rosselit family, the crew of the m/v Loco Lobo, the Chris Craft Commander 47 that we call home.  We have lived aboard for nearly 4 years, and we have lived in the comfort of our floating mobile home for almost 1 year.  Our cat, Popcorn, joins us on the boat and likes to board other vessels in the marina, especially if cat food, catnip, or other treats are provided.

Here is a little about the 3 of us…

me

My name is Bethany, although my husband calls me “Frog” and sometimes “Pirate.”  I love vintage recipes, thrift store shopping, yoga, and Weight Watchers….and wine!  I taught special education for 15 years, but took leave from my job back in March.  I plan on substitute teaching in the fall.  The shedding of my identity as a teacher has been an unusual but kind of exciting experience!

iliana

This is Miss Iliana, the self-appointed captain of Loco Lobo.  Iliana is 11 and has done it all!  She has been a flyer on a special needs competitive cheer team, a princess in the Miss Amazing beauty pageant, and a bronze medalist in Special Olympics track and field.  Iliana owns a boat of her own: an Opti sailboat.  She attends sailing camp every summer.

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I asked Iliana what she would like me to include in this post, and she wanted me to mention that she is raising money to pay for a trip to Washington, D.C. with her fifth grade class next year.  Ili will have the opportunity to fly there with her class and chaperones (not me!), stay in a hotel room with other kids, and visit a lot of historical sites, which she is very excited about.  If you would like to help Ili fund her trip, she is selling Puffin Pastries in the Houston/Galveston area.  Please contact me, using the form, if you are interested in buying some.  She also has a Go Fund Me site.

I should also mention that Iliana has autism, but that is not the most interesting or most important thing about her.

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This handsome devil is none other than my husband, Rob.  Yes, that mustache is real, and yes, he spends more time primping in the morning than I do!  And yes, that is a penny farthing!  Rob is the harbor master of the marina where we live, and he can be seen riding his bike to the food trucks, running an amazing 5k time, and walking the docks.  He is so dedicated to his marina that he didn’t let a little water deter him from his duties, during Hurricane Harvey!

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So Welcome Aboard!

This is an old-fashioned lifestyle blog, plain and simple.  I will be sharing our stories, recipes, thoughts, or whatever else comes to mind.  I am not out to monetize.  I am hoping to build a small community, a positive corner of the Internet, where we can all share stories and support one another.  This is my writing, in my voice, without regard for SEO or increasing page views.

I will not be posting on a schedule.  I will share whenever something comes to mind.  I plan to enable email subscriptions as my next task, so feel free to subscribe if you would like to see our updates in your inbox!

I look forward to sharing our adventures with all of you!

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