Almost six years ago, we moved into a new place in my dream neighborhood.

In less than a month, we will be moving out and into a new place.

This house has been good to us, but this house is starting to fall apart and the landlord won’t fix a thing. For example, over two years ago, strong winds knocked a huge tree in our backyard to the ground, knocking down a huge portion of the brick retaining wall with it. To this day the wall remains broken, even though we’ve asked him on more than one occasion to please have it fixed. And that is just one thing of many things. Also? The very large backyard is a giant hassle to take care of. As much as I love this neighborhood and the World’s Best Neighbors, it’s time to move on.

We found a beautiful, yet simple home just a few miles down the road that is perfect for our family.

I’m struggling with feelings of sadness over leaving this place. We’ve made many wonderful memories here. But I believe this move is absolutely the right thing for our family. Change is good. I do look forward to making new memories with my family and our friends at the new place.

Let’s just hope that my marriage can survive The Moving Process. Because The Moving Process is an evil whore.

No Shame.

You know how on the Biggest Loser when the contestants look at pictures of their bigger selves they say things like “I don’t even know that person.” Or “I don’t like that person.” I don’t feel that way at all when I look at pictures of myself at my heavier weight. I know exactly who I was when I was 237 pounds. Gaining weight was part of my (wait for it) journey (gag, I know!) It is only because of the challenges that I faced through the weight gain and loss that I was able to realize how strong I am. At my heaviest, at my sickest, I didn’t know that I was capable of doing things like handstands or running three miles. But now I do and I am grateful. And maybe just a little bit proud.

I Really Am Stronger Than I Think. And So Are You.

I’ve been doing boot camp consistently since September. Six week sessions with one week breaks in between. The last Thursday of each six week session, we do what is called “The Wall Workout.” It’s intense but super fun.

There are four exercises. We do each exercise a total of four times.

At the end of the fourth round, we do something that I have not been able to make myself do.

A handstand.

Every time she says “ready?” I stand there, staring at the wall, telling myself “Just do it!” But I have never found the courage to actually kick my feet up and try it.

I’m scared I won’t make it. I’m scared I will make it halfway and then come crashing down. I’m scared I’ll break my neck or hit my face on the sidewalk and knock my teeth out. I can not bring myself to even try it.

Today wasn’t any different. I said I was going to try it. And then, as everyone headed for the wall and kicked their legs up in the air, I stood there frozen with fear.

I didn’t do it.

And as we were getting ready to cross the street to head back to our workout mats, my instructor said “YOU CAN DO IT, YVONNE!” And all of my Boot Camp Sistah’s chimed in. “You can totally do it!” And then, one of them said “maybe you can do it if we cheer you on and help you.”

And so I agreed to try it with their help.

I took a deep breath. I walked quickly towards the wall. I put my hands on the ground while I kicked my feet up. One of the ladies held onto my legs to help me get set against the wall. Then, she let go and they all counted down from ten while I held myself up.

I felt a lump in my throat and couldn’t stop myself from crying just a little bit.

These women who I work out with every day were there for me. They believed in me and helped me believe in myself. THIS is what I love and value about boot camp. When I don’t think I can, they are there to remind me that I am stronger than I think and that yes, YES I CAN.

What I Posted on Facebook Today That I Should Have Posted on This Blog Instead.

People have asked me what kind of diet I’m on. Here’s my answer: I’m not nor will I ever be on a “diet” ever again. I never say “I can’t eat that.” Or “I’m not allowed to have that.” I can and will eat whatever I want. I am insulin resistant, I struggle with thyroid disease, so I know what foods are good for my body and what foods I should avoid. I make healthy choices that will allow my body to function in the best way possible, However, I also allow myself to splurge every once in a while. There is only *one* thing that I have chosen to not eat and have not touched since I started boot camp in September– Caramel cheesecake bites from Del Taco. Because… oh my God. Those things. Amazing. Want 4 of them at a time.

The past few weeks, I definitely haven’t been eating the healthiest food for my body but instead eating things that were comforting in times of stress. Here’s the thing: I won’t beat myself up about it or feel guilty about it. I just keep making better choices and kicking butt at boot camp.

I’m not perfect. Life is short. Chili cheese fries are good. So is ice cream. So I’m not going to say I CAN’T EVER HAVE THEM. I can and sometimes I do. So there.

She Just Gives Really Good Advice.

“Can I comb your hair, Daddy?”

“Sure you can.” He replied.

She combed what little hair he has left at the top (I call his hair The Dr.Phil Lite) carefully, trying to get every hair in place.

When she finished, she exclaimed “I combed it exactly the way you like it!”

She took him by the hand and walked him down the hall into the bathroom so he could look in the mirror.

“I love it!” He said. “But I sure do wish I had more hair.”

“Well” she said, all matter of fact like. “Why don’t you choose Bosley then?”

We both laughed until it hurt.

Yes, I’ve Become That Girl Who Always Talks About Boot Camp.

Last Friday I completed yet another 6 week session of boot camp.

I believe this was my most successful session yet. I did not miss a single class (5 days a week!) I never said I wanted to punch anyone in the face and I didn’t fart once during class, not even during the highly fartable workouts!

I was also committed to trying to hate running less (which is a goal I have every single session, but I can’t seem to shake the Running Hate. Probably because I’m so bad at it? And because I’m always the slowest one? And I hate the way it makes my lungs feel? And because it is the WORST?)

Since September of last year, I’ve lost 23 pounds, 19.5 inches. I can run a mile 1:50 faster (from 12:05 to 10:15) and I can do 35 push-ups, up from 7.

But that’s not the best part about this whole boot camp thing. Sure, the weight loss is awesome, but the confidence I’ve gained is worth more to me than lost pounds. I have always been the girl who says “I can’t.” I never would have never believed I would be able to run 3 miles, only strong, fit women can do that! I would have never believed I could complete a 365 rep challenge that includes 100 competition style burpees and finish in 23 minutes! I would have never believed that I could push a truck up a hill or do a handstand and not break my face. But guess what? I’m 178 pounds, 41 years old and I can do all of those things and THEN SOME. I may not be the fastest, or the strongest, but that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that I no longer tell myself “I can’t” because I finally believe that I can.

(my boot camp sisters. So grateful for each one of them!)

I start a new session on Monday and my only goal this time is to do better than I did last time. I will push myself harder, feed myself better and enjoy every minute of getting healthier and stronger. (And hopefully faster? Because Oh, how I want to run a mile in under 10 minutes!)

The Wedding Ring: An Awesome Update.

When my husband came home from work, I told him what had happened. After dinner, he took apart the plumbing under the sink and to see if maybe, just maybe the ring had been caught in the p-trap. I was in the other room doing laundry.

Gabriella came running into the room.

“Daddy found it, Mommy! HE FOUND YOUR RING!”

I ran into the bathroom and there he was, holding my (filthy, dirty ring.) We all laughed and celebrated. I asked G to come close so I could tell her something. “I want you to remember this moment.” She listened carefully. “When I asked you if you knew what happened to my ring today, you could have told me a lie. Even though you were scared, you told me the truth. And because you told me the truth, we were able to find my ring. If you had chose to tell me a lie, we never would have known and when we move, we would have left that ring and it would have been lost forever. You can ALWAYS tell Mommy and Daddy the truth. Even when you’re scared to.”

While we were talking, Tony walked into the room with my now clean and sparkly ring. He got on one knee while Gabriella giggled. “Are you going to ask her to marry you again?”

He did. And while he began to put the ring on my finger, I held my breath, unsure if it would fit.

It did.

Best night ever.

And Now I Know the Truth About My Missing Wedding Ring.

When Gabriella was a bit younger (maybe 6?) she loved to play with my jewelry. I had asked her to please never play with my wedding ring. (At the time it was in my jewelry box because it no longer fit me due to weight gain.)

A few weeks ago, I decided to take my rings out to see if they would fit me now that I’ve lost some more weight. I found the engagement bands, but not the wedding band/diamond. I called my daughter into my room and asked her about my rings. “When you were little, did you play with my wedding rings?” She denied it and I didn’t push the issue with her. I’ve been looking for the ring daily, hoping it would turn up in a drawer somewhere. I didn’t panic much because I figured it was just misplaced and I would eventually find it.

I was searching through some little drawers on my dresser just now while G was sitting on my bed. “I know you said that you didn’t lose my ring, but I’m starting to think you may have lost it when you were little and are too scared to tell me.” Her reaction was not what I had expected. Her eyes filled with tears. “I am afraid to tell you, Mommy. I know what happened to it.” I told her she didn’t need to be afraid, that she could tell me the truth.

She took a deep breath and then she confessed that when “she was little” she was trying it on to see what it looked like on her when it slipped off of her finger and fell down the bathroom drain. “I wanted to tell Daddy when it happened so he could try to get it, but I was so scared he would get mad.”

I felt sick to my stomach, but didn’t feel angry with her at all. She was just a little girl when it happened and I am sure that carrying around that secret, that guilt has been difficult for her. I pulled her close to me as I fought back tears and told her that I wasn’t angry with her, just a little bit sad. I told her that I’m happy to finally know the truth so that I can stop looking for the ring now.

I could see the relief on her sweet little face after she made her confession.

It is not a good feeling to know that the ring my husband chose for me 24 years ago was washed down the drain and possibly gone forever (because maybe, just maybe it’s still there?) but it was a really good opportunity to have a conversation with my daughter about telling the truth, even when you’re scared to tell the truth.


The Answer to Loving Myself, My Body.

This morning I read a post I had written in 2007. You may be familiar with the post– I read it at live the first BlogHer Keynote in 2008.

As I read it again this morning, I marveled at how much I’ve changed. “What is the answer?” I asked in the post.

I never thought I’d find the answer. I truly believed that I would always feel that way about myself, my body.

Six years later, I can honestly say that I no longer allow my weight or the way that I view my body to negatively affect the way that I live my life. Turns out that for me, the answer was to change my behavior. I began to take care of myself, to treat myself with the same respect that I treat others in my life.

I work out daily. I make healthy food choices, but don’t deprive myself. I never turn down an invitation to spend time with family or friends because of my weight. I don’t feel guilty for spending money on taking care of myself. Boot camp is not cheap, but I’m worth the expense. It keeps me active, healthy and motivated.

I’ve been doing boot camp since September of last year and I still weigh 184 pounds. I still wear a size 14. I still have bumps and lumps on my chubby legs. I have sagging skin from the weight loss. I still struggle with the way my body looks at times, I would be lying if I said I didn’t. But here’s the difference– I no longer focus on those things. I focus on how strong I feel, I focus on the joy that I feel when I’m spending time with family and friends. I focus on love, laughter, on living my life. I allow myself to feel proud of my accomplishments, no matter how small they may be. Did you know there was a time where I couldn’t run for five minutes without feeling like I was dying? But now, I can run (slowly) for three miles and feel TOTALLY GREAT when I’m done? I am proud of that. I CELEBRATE THAT.

For me, that has been the answer to stop the self hatred and to start enjoying life and loving who I am, in this imperfect but perfect for ME body.

Sweet Bandit.

“Let me get him a puppy.” My mom said, shortly after we had to put our dog Willie to sleep in 2007.

I didn’t think I was ready to even entertain the idea of a new puppy. But my mom felt a new dog was just what Ethan needed. You see, Ethan and Willie were very bust buddies. The days after Willie died, Ethan’s heart was broken. He couldn’t bear to go in the backyard, too many reminders of Willie were lingering back there for his tender little (broken) heart handle.

I wasn’t ready for another puppy, but I was overcome with sadness for my son, so I agreed to let my mother find a puppy for our grieving family. It just so happened shortly after this conversation with my mother, a friend of the family mentioned that she was getting a puppy from a woman whose lab had puppies, TOO many puppies (I believe it was 13 puppies? Nuts.) She invited me to come with her if I was interested in getting a puppy. Perfect timing.

“Pick the biggest puppy.” My husband said as I walked out the door.

I found the biggest puppy and he was the cutest thing I had ever seen. I picked him up and instantly fell in love.

I brought the little guy home and Ethan was smitten.

“What do you want to name him?” I asked.

“I want to name him Bandit, because he has stole my heart.”

It was a rough few weeks for me. Bandit was very young and so he was very needy. I slept with him every night on the couch for the first week. I would get up to take him potty and to pet him when he would cry. And OHMYGOD, how he would cry. Sometimes? I’d cry because it was just like having a newborn baby all over again. But man, I would do anything for my children’s happiness and dammit, I loved that puppy.

Bandit grew up to be a huge dog. He was so large and weighed so much, he could knock you on your butt. When he’d come running towards you, you would have to brace yourself, plant your feet firmly in the ground and hope for the best. But that dog was so amazing, he would never run towards the little kids. He would always approach them gently. I loved that about him.

Such a beautiful, fun loving, dorky, hyper, dog.

A few weeks ago, we knew something was wrong with Bandit. There was a growth on his nose. Then, we heard that one of his brothers had cancer. When I heard that, my heart sank. I knew the news wouldn’t be good for Bandit.

Our fears were confirmed by the vet. Cancer. Nothing they could do.

We had to have him put to sleep.

I didn’t go with Tony the night we put him to sleep. I couldn’t bear it. I just couldn’t. But when I got the call that it was over, that he was gone. I just lost it.

It was a sad night for our family. And it was especially sad for his best buddy, our other lab, Luke. He howled for hours the morning after and still to this day, he’ll run to the gate on the side yard and cry. It’s awful.

Bandit was only 6 years old. Seems so unfair he had such a short life. But I am grateful we had him in our lives for those 6 years. He was such a funny, loving, loyal, pretty dog. I’ll miss him forever. We all will.