Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper that my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stonger in the presence of my Savior.
I'm off for a long weekend at the beach! I packed up, dropped Molly off at camp, and hit the road with a few friends this morning. The rest of the crew is leaving Memphis later this afternoon to head down. There are 10 of us in all so it should be a crazy time.
I'm excited about having some down time and being away from Memphis for a few days. I was ready for a break from work and ready for some relaxation. I'll be back on Sunday, hopefully rested and ready to dive back in to real life!
Last week, my friend and old roommate is moved out of Memphis. She and her husband are both from Michigan and both of their families are there, so they are packed up and moved back home. Jamie and I met in 2009 and lived together for 3 years. I haven't seen her as much since marriage (per usual) but I knew that I would be sad when she left. Last weekend, they had a going away party at Railgarten (and I failed to take any pictures) but when I got there, I gave her a hug and immediately started tearing up. Sheesh! It was a good night and before I left we made plans to hang out again so that we wouldn't have to actually say goodbye.
Tuesday, after work, I went over to the house and helped load up the car before the movers came the next day. Then Wednesday, I headed back over and we ate pizza and sat on the floor in her empty bedroom reminiscing about the past and laughing at all the memories. Then we took some pictures and said goodbye. I held it together pretty well, but then cried on the way home. I thought that was the end of it, but then Thursday I got a text that they couldn't fit their plants in the car, so I went over one last time to get the plants and flower pots. I got to say goodbye one last time, take their final picture in front of the house, and watch them drive away for the last time...
Goodbyes are hard, guys! Friendships in general are hard, but there are certain friendships that just stick. Jamie and I are super different, but she knew me better than a lot of people. Living together for a few years helped with that too. It's hard to hide things when you live with someone- even if you want to sometimes!
But Jamie is the kind of friend that I could literally do anything with. We spent many a day curled up on the couch eating ice cream and watching hours upon hours of Netflix. We went through the entire Prison Break series in a ridiculously short amount of time! I'm pretty that I got drunk with her for the first time. (I was approximately 25...)
We had a few fun trips together- a spontaneous trip to Hot Springs for a spa weekend, that got cut a little short when my cousin went into labor, and a fun trip down to Miami cruising around in a bright blue convertible for the JT-JayZ concert.
We were part of the original Peter, James, and John. You know, other than the original, original Peter, James, and John. We set aside time for intentional conversation and book discussions and prayer together.
We spent multiple weekends getting all gussied up and going to bars for "husband hunting." We met some interesting people and got a lot of numbers, but there were no potential husbands. Until Jamie decided to try online dating AKA I entered in all the profile information and started all the initial conversations and questionnaires. Then once I had narrowed down some men, I passed them over to her for approval and actual dating. And that is how she met her husband!
Jamie- I'm glad that you are going to be closer to family. And get to be around your nieces and nephews. But I'll miss you. So thankful for your friendship all these years. Can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for us next!
Through the past few months, some friends and I ran 4 races as part of the M-Town series. It was an interesting set of races. First of all, they were all at night which is not my favorite. I am much more of a fan of morning runs. I never know exactly what to eat before races. Or when. And then I don't feel like I run my best. Oh well.
The first race was Zoom through the Zoo. It was a 4-miler, not a 5K so that was a fun challenge. And it was on a Thursday night, so I knew that I would still have to work the next day. The race was hot, but we got to run by the elephants and giraffes which made everything better! But there were some hills at the end. No bueno! Dear people designing race courses, please don't put a hill in the last mile. Kthanks. After the race, there was barbecue and beer and live music so we hung out for a little while. The barbecue was delicious. The beer was light and tasted like bad water, so I decided that it wasn't worth the calories. Ha! Performance grade: C
After that was the Harbortown 5K. The weather was nicer. It wasn't scorching hot which was nice and I love running through the neighborhoods. It kind of reminds me of Seaside, minus the beach (the Mississippi River isn't quite the same as the ocean...). I felt okay while running, not super great, but it ended up being my fastest time so I'll take it! There was more live music after the race and some post-race food that I didn't eat because I was already doing Whole 30 by then. Performance grade: B+
Race 3 was the Gibson Guitar 5K. It was miserable! It was definitely the hottest race of the series. I hadn't been eating well so I didn't feel like it was a strong run. And the hill on Beale is a killer! Another race that ends with an uphill! This was seriously one of the worst races that I've run in a while. And I felt like I could throw up when I crossed the finish line. Blah! I held it in though, chugged some water, and started feeling better. Performance grade: D
The final race was the Stars and Stripes 5K. Races in July are always kind of a crapshoot, even at 7pm, but thankfully this one wasn't as hot as it could have been. It had rained off and on that day which cooled things off a little bit, but left things super humid! I'm pretty sure I was dripping sweat before I even started running. My only complaint was that the finish line was on gravel and it was really hard to give a final kick when I was having to concentrate on each step. But overall, it was a pretty good race! Performance grade: B
Day 29: I legit forgot to eat breakfast this morning. Not really sure what happened. I had my coffee while I read and let the dog play, per usual, and then I went about my morning. I realized it when I was sitting in my office and my stomach growled. Thankfully one of the docs is semi-doing it too and had some Whole-30 compliant trail mix in her office so I took a cupful of that!
I snacked on some grapes while working on notes and then ate chicken with roasted veggies for lunch. That has kind of been my staple this month. Roasted broccoli is one of my new favorite things!
After work, I hit up the greenline before I even went home. I got a little over 4 miles in, but it was HOT! I was, once again, reminded why I prefer running in the mornings.
Came home and grabbed an orange while I let the dog out. Then after I got cleaned up I ate shrimp and a banana for dinner. I'm kinda running low on food. I should probably hit up the grocery store this weekend!
I have lots of thoughts about this being almost over. I have said from the very beginning that I wanted pizza and wine on my first day finished. There are still times when I crave that, but overall I don't really have a desire for either. Which is crazy! My plan is still continue with it 90% of the time. I plan to do Whole30 at home, but not be as strict when I am going out to eat or hanging out with other people. I think that will be a good balance.
Day 30: This is it! It's a little bit bittersweet that this is the last day- even if I am going to continue it for the most part. I had scrambled eggs this morning for breakfast. Then snacked on almonds and grapes mid-morning. Finished off the fajitas for lunch. For dinner, I had some grilled chicken and guac. I surprisingly didn't end with roasted veggies...
Day 31: It's over! Weird! Woke up and drank some black coffee while I read. Typical morning. Then I went to the gym. Ran and lifted before heading to Kroger for my first post-whole 30 grocery trip.
Still got all whole 30 compliant food! Might as well! I wanted to get some more shrimp, but they didn't have the one brand that doesn't have any sulfates or preservatives or any of that stuff so I guess I'll have to try somewhere else. I made more grilled chicken and guac for lunch.
For dinner, I went out for pizza with friends. I was honestly super nervous to go. I was used to this Whole 30 thing and was worried about how it would make me feel...
The pizza was delicious. Although I did feel uncomfortably full, I didn't get sick. I had a few sips of their drinks, but didn't get my own. Overall it was alright. I'm glad I didn't feel bad, but I'm also kind of glad to be back on the Whole 30 train.
The next day, I went grocery shopping to get a few more things. And I did some cooking. I branched out a little bit. I cooked some chicken in the crockpot and the chicken broth had yeast extract. And I got some trail mix with sweetened cranberries. I also added some hash browns to my breakfast cups. I know that technically I could have had potatoes on Whole 30, but I just avoided them. So I guess in a way I am slowly reintroducing things. I'm still planning to do it 90% of the time- just a little looser.
Overall, I would 100% recommend it. I did it in an attempt to change the way I thought and felt about food. And partially to lose weight, because... And I feel like it definitely worked in some ways.
Warning: this is about to get deep (at least for me...)
I've mentioned that I have had some disordered views about food and I know that they are unhealthy, but the logic doesn't always translate to my actions and emotions, so I was hoping that this would strip all of that away and help me to view food differently. In that way, I think that it did. The foods that I cooked were still good, but food wasn't an event. Eating was just something that I did. It wasn't an activity. I ate when I was hungry. I stopped when I got full. I didn't continue eating because the food was good. I didn't eat out a lot so I wasn't overwhelmed by huge portion sizes. I didn't feel the need to control what I ate in front of people only to go home and binge later. I didn't have to feel guilty about what I was eating or how much or when. It was a good feeling. I'm hoping that it will continue.
I did have one moment during the 30 days that it came rushing back. I was talking to some friends about day 31. I mentioned that I wanted pizza and wine (and maybe fries). They saw it as a celebration. They all eagerly agreed to come with me. That we could all go out together for pizza. My immediate snap reaction (in my head, because I never say my immediate reaction out loud) was "absolutely not. I'm not eating all that in front of people. I'll eat in the comfort and privacy of my own home!" But I didn't say that out loud. I smiled on the outside, while silently freaking out. Maybe that's better. I was hoping that maybe going out with them would help me to continue to see food in a healthy way. After having some time to reflect on everything since the initial suggestion, I definitely felt better about it.
Other than my attitude and feelings towards food changing, I feel better and I have more energy. Also, my clothes fit better which is always a positive. I've been able to wear some things that I had hanging in the guest room closet and have pulled out a few things from my "wishful thinking" box. It's been fun, but it's also been hard. I've cheated and weighed. A few times. Confession: before Whole 30, I was weighing anywhere from 3-4 times a week to twice a day. So even though I have stepped on the scale in the last 30 days, it was better than it had been. And I did lose weight. For people that want the stats: I lost 12 pounds and about 8 inches.
I also hinted around the fact that I almost quit Whole 30 about halfway through. It was working. I was feeling better and seeing results. I got on the scale and was able to see just how much I was losing. And then I started thinking that I could do more. I could workout more and eat even less and see better, faster results. I skipped a few meals and snacked on as little as possible. I knew it was getting unhealthy though. And I was still trying to work out. I did a few workouts with other people and I could tell I was sluggish. I was tired and didn't feel like it was a good workout. As much as I want to be skinny, I would rather be strong. So I decided not to quit. I started eating more so that I could workout harder. My runs felt better (other than the heat!) and I felt better lifting. I also recovered faster since I was eating so much more protein!
Overall, it was awesome! I feel great. I have a better attitude about food. And I'm still going!
Day 22: Typical morning. Black coffee while sitting outside playing with Molly. Breakfast cup on the way to work. Weird thing that I don't think I've mentioned, I have gotten into the habit of brushing my teeth at work now. After coffee and breakfast, I used to grab a mint or stick of gum before going to talk to patients upclose and personal, but since neither of those are options now I have a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash in my desk drawer. (Now that I think about it, the toothpaste and mouthwash both probably have sugar in them. Does that count since I spit them out?)*
Snacked on almonds and grapes while working and then had my shrimp and zoodles for lunch. Hey, I actually ate lunch! I also had a honeycrisp apple. Because. ;)
For dinner, I had some balsamic glazed chicken with roasted veggies. Roasted veggies are kind of my go-to side. They are quick and easy. And delicious. I also drank a lemon La Croix. I'm pretty sure I'm working my way through all the flavors. I know I haven't had sugar in a while, but this one legit tasted like lemonade. So good!
Day 23: I had big plans to run this morning, but Cindy had other plans. It was storming when I woke up, but I was determined so I went to the gym before work. Got a quick run in on the treadmill. I don't like treadmill running, but this morning was actually pretty good. Drank a huge glass of water while I got ready since I was still sweating after my shower then grabbed coffee and a breakfast cup to eat on the go.
Snacked on a honeycrisp apple. Didn't eat lunch again, but it was another super short day! Came home early and had some peel-and-eat shrimp (it was actually a lot more than I had originally thought!) Then I had some Asian glazed chicken and roasted veggies for dinner.
Day 24: Woke up and had coffee and a banana before heading out to the gym. I did a super quick treadmill run and then lifted. It was actually a really good workout and I felt strong doing it. That's always an added bonus! When I got home, I didn't want to eat a real meal, but I felt like I needed something so I had a Lara Bar. They are the only Whole 30 compliant bar and they say to eat them only in moderation, but this was my first one. And it was delicious! Highly recommend!
For lunch, I had Asian glazed chicken with baked kale before going shopping with some friends. And shopping wasn't the typical, miserable experience. Clothes actually fit better! Score! For dinner I had garlic shrimp with zoodles.
I went out with friends that night and felt a little punch-drunk. I had So. Much. Energy. Is this the tigerblood that everyone was talking about??
Day 25: Coffee and breakfast cup before church. Then ate some strawberries and kiwi during class. After church I ran to the grocery store to grab a few things. I think I made it out with only 6 things! It's easier to get just a few things when you go like every other day...
For lunch I had the rest of the Asian glazed chicken with some homemade guac. And watermelon.
I took a Sunday afternoon nap and took the dog for a walk then I realized that the fridge was getting a little sparse so I decided to do some meal prepping. Since I was going into the last full week, I basically cut up all the veggies so they would be ready to cook this week and marinated a bunch of chicken that I can bake or grill tomorrow afternoon.
Then I just snacked for dinner. Mandarin orange and almonds. And a La Croix, of course!
Day 26: Back to work... Bleh! Coffee, breakfast cup, and banana for breakfast. Garlic shrimp with zoodles for lunch. With some grapes and carrots.
After work, I cooked a little bit. Grilled some fajita chicken with veggies and baked some more Asian glazed chicken. I think it's my favorite! I just snacked for dinner again. Had some watermelon and sampled both of the chicken options when they were finished cooking. And I officially finished off my almonds. I'm pretty sure that I have eaten my weight in almonds this month!
Day 27: *TMI alert* My period was 2 days late. I know that may not seem like a big deal to some people, but I'm regular. My cycle is 28 days long. I start between 4 and 6 am. As I said... regular. So I can only assume that it is related to Whole 30. I have been eating (generally) organic with less hormones and no soy so I guess it just shifted things a little. I assume that if I continued this things would regulate to a "new" normal, but I don't know what will happen after this month.
Went for a good run this morning when I woke up. Came home and made some coffee while I was getting ready then grabbed a breakfast cup and an orange for the road. Had fajitas with lettuce wrap for lunch. With carrots and a tangerine La Croix. I went to dinner with friends. This was only the second time that I've eaten out this month. That's pretty impressive! I would think that I was saving money if I didn't feel like I had been to the grocery store every other day. Ha! I did eat an apple pie Lara Bar as a snack because I wasn't sure if there would be anything for me to eat. But I ended up getting a hamburger- no bun, with everything on the side. I ate it with a knife and fork and added onion, tomato, and lettuce. Instead of the house chips, I got a side of broccoli- with no butter. Pretty good!
Day 28: Had coffee and a banana while I read this morning. Then I finished my last breakfast cup. And this time I'm not making more. It's kind of weird knowing that I'm at the end and that as I finish things, they are just finished. Except not really, because I am going to keep doing this- for the most part.
Snacked on some grapes. Grilled chicken and guac for lunch. Had plans for dinner a devo that night. Wasn't sure if there would be anything that I could eat, but I decided to risk it and not eat beforehand. Wrong choice. I maybe could have eaten some of the meat, but I'm pretty sure it was soaked in butter. So I just skipped it. By the time I got home, it was too late to eat anything so I just went to bed. Oh well!
* I checked. They're okay since you aren't ingesting them. Whole 30 also recommends chewing on mint leaves. Hmm...
I've heard about Dietrich Bonhoeffer for a while. My previous pastor talked about/quoted him a lot so I was distantly familiar with him, but I recently picked up the book from the library and sat down and read it- over the course of a few weeks. It's a beast!
First of all I would say do not check this book out from the library. This is a book you want to buy and read and underline and make notes and revisit periodically. I'm actually contemplating buying it at some point so that I can reread it.
For those of you that don't know the story, the very brief version is that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Germany during World War II. He was a strong follower of God and saw Hitler for who he was. He ended up getting involved in a plan to kill Hitler. In case you aren't up on history, it didn't work...
The prologue ends with this: "The man who died was engaged to be married. He was a pastor and a theologian. And he was executed for his role in the plot to assassinate Hitler. This is his story."
The story is incredible and very intriguing from a historical point of view. I felt like I finished the book with a different view of the situation as a whole. Yes, Hitler was horrible. Yes, there were people that knew what he was doing and stood by and allowed it or just did nothing. But there were also a lot of people who didn't know what he was doing. Or didn't know until it was too late. Germany had lost WWI and the people were discouraged and wanted a powerful leader who would show the world once again how great they were. Initially he was charming and said all the right things. He worked his way in quietly, before anyone knew what was going on.
Isn't that how sin always is though? The devil presents something that looks really good. Something that seems like it could fill the exact void in your life. And before you know it, that things has been eating you away from the inside out. Sin is a sneaky little bitch!
Other than the historic aspect, Bonhoeffer was an incredible man of God who fervently sought after the will of God and truly led his life as an act of worship. Wow! He struggled and questioned (like all of us do) but he also clung to God throughout it all! It was super encouraging and very convicting! Some of the things he said were like a swift punch in the gut- in the best possible way, of course.
Bonhoeffer wrote a book called Life Together about what genuine Christian community should look like. I talked to some friends and we are about to read it and go through it together. I'm pretty excited about it. Also, I little nervous. I'm not great at the whole community thing. That vulnerability will get you every time... Ha!
But seriously, I 100% recommend this book to everyone. Read it. Then come find me and let's talk all about how much you love Dietrich and how challenged you are to step up your game!
Day 15: Today is the halfway point! Made it! Feeling good. It's downhill from here, right? I feel like I'm just kind of in the groove of this now. It just kind of seems like it's what I do now, which is good! Not too much is going on emotionally.
Berries and almonds for breakfast. We had our weekly meeting at work and lunch is provided so I brought my own and set it up on a plate so I could feel like I was eating with everyone else. I made an asian glaze chicken with sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and coconut aminos. (It's similar to the recipe for the asian glazed salmon on my Pinterest page, but I modified it a little bit). I ate it with some roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes, with some grapes for dessert. It was so good! Even the docs that have questioned why I'm doing this agreed that my love looked really good. Success!
For dinner, I ate the leftover shrimp and zoodles from the day before- after adding some more lime juice and garlic. So much flavor!
Day 16: Banana and almonds for breakfast. Didn't really eat lunch. But not in a disordered way. Work was just busy and I wasn't really hungry so I just pushed on. I had an orange after work when I got home and then headed out to my parents' house. My dad had grilled burgers so I had a delicious burger with tomato, onion, and avocado on lettuce. I ate that with a side of roasted broccoli. So good!
My mom is thinking about doing Whole 30. I'm not super excited about it, for certain reasons that I'm not going to post about. But she also said that she doesn't want to give up wine so she poured me La Croix in a wine glass to make me feel better. Ha!
There were lots of temptations being at my parents' house though. My whole family will be in town so my mom stocked up on groceries. I was very tempted to just dive head first into some chips and Panchos cheese dip. But I held off...
I've also been having some food dreams recently. Not that I want a Twinkie (which I've never had) or a Snickers, but that I had already eaten something. The other night I had a dream that I had eaten rice and I woke up very concerned. Rice?! Other than sushi, I hardly ever ate rice before this started, but apparently that's what I dreamed about...
Day 17: Typical breakfast: banana and almonds. Then I did a hellacious workout with some friends. It was a fundraiser for an organization called Never Thirst that aids in building wells in countries and areas that don't have access to clean water. The workout was a BEAST though! We were on a team of 4 and the stations were squats, kettle bells, situps, and burpees. At each station, there was a team member do an active movement, one person doing a static exercise, one person resting, and one person holding a jerry can of water over her head. After all of that, we had to do a 1-mile run with the jerry can. Oh yeah, and this was all outside. I was worn out by the end of it! Probably dehydrated and definitely didn't prefuel properly. Oops!
When I got home, I chugged water. And ate some watermelon. I also heated up some chicken. Before Whole 30, I would have made a protein shake, but since my protein powder is off limits, I had to stick to actual protein!
Then I went back out to my parents' house. I lounged around some and at some point ate another hamburger that my mom had saved for me. It was so good! My whole family was in town so we relaxed by the pool- or in the pool, because it was so hot!
That night I went to a cookout with some friends. I initially planned to bring food to throw on the grill, but I was running late and not super hungry. I did eat some grapes and carrots. And guac- with a spoon. Because, guac.
Day 18: I don't remember what I had for breakfast. I think an orange and pistachios. Switching it up a little! After church, I ran to the grocery store to pick up just a few things. More chicken and shrimp and some veggies that I was running low on. Then I headed back out to my parents' house. My mom had made some spaghetti (with sauce that I could actually eat!). She had told me earlier what she was cooking, so I brought over some zucchini noodles to eat my spaghetti with. Yum! Then I had some raspberries and blackberries for dessert. I was still very tempted by all the delicious looking food that I couldn't eat. Chips, queso, ice cream, wine...
After some pool time, I headed back home. I was still hungry on the way home. Like thought that if I weren't doing this, I would have stopped by a Wendy's drive-thru. That's when it hit me. Something that wasn't on the timeline and so I hadn't mentally prepared for it... PMS cravings! (Sorry, if that's TMI.) When I first started this, I was pretty excited that my period wouldn't happen until the end of the month when I had all this under control, but I did not take into account the cravings. My bad! They are real!
I got home and ate some chicken and carrots before deciding that I had eaten more than enough and calling it a night.
Day 19: Almonds and banana again today. Maybe I'll make some more breakfast cups today. Snacked on some grapes while I was working on notes and then had some chicken fajitas for lunch. After work, I marinated a bunch of chicken for the week. Then cooked some with some broccoli and sweet potatoes. Feeling much better than yesterday. Don't feel like I want to eat everything in sight anymore!
Day 20: Woke up this morning and didn't have to go to Bible study, so I decided to go for a run instead! It was 20+ degrees cooler than in the afternoon so it was a good decision, but it was still hot. And humid! Came home, jumped in the shower and got ready. Then grabbed coffee and a banana on the way out the door. I had a banana with almond butter at my desk this morning. It wasn't as good as peanut butter, but it will do for now.
I was also in such a hurry this morning that I didn't grab anything for lunch. Fail! But thankfully, I left work at 1:45. I had a few errands to run before going home. I was tempted to swing by Chick-fil-A. I blame it on the lack of lunch. I didn't stop though. I went straight to Whole Foods. And then I bought some peel-and-eat shrimp because I was hungry! I also bought some bacon.
After a few more errands, I came home and cooked some more breakfast cups, but with bacon this time. I thought I would switch things up. Then I ate some shrimp and watermelon. The peel-and-eat shrimp was definitely worth it!
I also baked some of the chicken that had been marinating so that it would be ready to go. I didn't really eat dinner. I mean, I ate the shrimp at like 3 or 3:30 so that kind of counts. Oh and I did try a breakfast cup after they were finished cooking! Day 21: In some ways, I can't believe that it's been 3 weeks already. And in other ways, it seems like it's been forever! Ha! I tried on a pair of pants for work today that I really like and they were too big. Like noticeably too big. It was kind of exciting! But also kind of sad because I really liked those pants. Maybe it's time to do a little shopping. Maybe. I really hate shopping, so we'll see.
I had a bacon and egg breakfast cup this morning. It was good, but I think I've discovered that I don't love eggs. They're okay- just not my favorite.
Had a meeting at work at 3:30 so I was determined to be super productive! Saw all my patients and left work at 1:45 again! (All the praise hands!) Ran to the gym for a quick workout and then home to eat a little bit more of the peel-and-eat shrimp before heading back to work for the meeting.
When I got home around 5:30, I cooked some balsamic glazed chicken that had been marinating and made some more garlic/ghee shrimp with zoodles. I snacked a little bit while I was cooking, and ate an orange, but didn't really eat a full meal. This whole eating at random times thing is kind of throwing me off!
Guys, last week was rough! I initially said that I didn't think it was related to Whole 30. There was a lot of external factors that were contributing to the overwhelming stress, but looking back I do think that Whole 30 probably heightened some of those emotions.
Sheesh! I'm glad to be coming around the other side of that! I'm not going to say that I'm out of the woods just yet, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. (That was a lot of different metaphors...)
Per usual, I am going to post nothing about what is actually going on. Ha! It was a whirlwind of a few days, I was super emotional and moody. I know it's bad when people at work start to ask about what's going on. I'm usually much better at compartmentalizing! But I was pretty weighted down with emotions and work wasn't helping things so I think that made it harder to separate everything. But I actually had a few good, honest conversations about what was going on and how I was feeling about it. Granted, those conversations were probably with all the wrong people, but I had them and that's a start...
Long story short: Being a vampire is hard work and I was not cut out for the circus!
Day 8: Food day was easy today. Breakfast cup. Cilantro lime chicken and zucchini noodles for lunch. Banana and almonds for "dinner."
Still feeling good. I have energy, but I don't necessarily think that it's more energy than normal. Today was the day that my pants were supposed to feel tighter and thankfully I didn't notice that!
The frustrations that I was having yesterday were still very much present today. I'm still not sure if it's Whole 30-related. I did for a minute wonder if maybe it was doing something to mess with my hormones. I have heard that it has helped some people hormonally to help to regulate them, but I was already super regular so maybe it's throwing things off. Ugh! Either way, my emotional state is hanging by a thread. Some friends came over tonight to talk about it so we sat on the back porch and drank La Croix and I cryptically told them nothing. Welcome to my life! Ha!
Day 9: I cheated today. I weighed. Oops. I know you're not supposed to. I know that this whole thing is very much a mental challenge as much as it is a physical one. And I cheated. I have lost some weight, which I'm going to pretend like it was good for me to weigh and have some motivation, but really it stems back to a lot of unhealthy habits that I'm trying to change with all this. Maybe I should move the scale out of the bathroom until the end of this!
Food wise: Another breakfast cup. (This is going to be pretty standard for the next week.) I got hungry before lunch so I ate an orange and that seemed to do the trick. I had tacos for lunch with lettuce tortillas. They were spicy, but really good. Had some almonds when I got home from work. And then turkey and baked kale chips for dinner.
I'm already thinking about what I'm going to do when this month is over. I'm trying to decide which things are going to stick and which ones I'm giving up on. I've gotten used to black coffee, so I think I'm finished with creamer for good! I've thought about not bringing grains back in the house. I won't be as strict about not eating them, but I won't buy them at the grocery store or cook with them. And limit sweets, of course. We'll see how it goes. I still have a long way to go. And I'm about to enter into The Hardest Days... Day 10: My schedule gets all messed up on the weekends. Had my coffee in the rocking chair outside while Molly played as usual. But then I kinda of just laid around the house and did a whole lot of nothing. I have been feeling better (emotionally) off and on, but I was feeling pretty depressed off and on today and didn't really feel like eating. At about 3, I decided I should probably get something, so I heated up some jerk chicken and had half a chicken breast with grapes and almonds. I also ate a banana around 5 before I met some friends for a 5K.
The race was miserable! It was hot and humid and I was not properly fed. Or watered. I made it through, but just barely. I chugged some water and ate an orange after the race. Then we met some friends at Levitt Shell to listen to music. My friends got chicken and shrimp kabobs with veggies. It seemed pretty safe so I asked what they cooked with. They both kind of looked at each other and said it was a handmade recipe. Once I questioned them about specific ingredients they said it had soy sauce, so I passed. Sad planet. I ate the other half of the jerk chicken when I got home. It was kind of a weird day for food.
Overall, I'm still feeling pretty good physically. I was thinking back on the week and I think that the main difference that I've noticed so far have been that I don't feel bloated. I've heard that was the first thing a lot of people noticed, but it's true. I also don't feel like I have the 3pm sugar crash. I used to hit a wall sometime after lunch. I would be exhausted and just want to take a nap. I definitely don't feel like I'm in the "tigerblood" invincible stage yet, but I feel like I have much more steady energy levels without the peaks and valleys, so that's a plus!
Day 11: My Sunday school class always brings breakfast. I brought a breakfast cup to eat so that I wouldn't be tempted with bagels and croissants and all things carbs! I did take communion today though, so technically I did have a bite of bread...
I just snacked after church- almonds and a banana. Then had some cilantro lime chicken and zoodles for dinner.
I had a minor headache pretty much all day today, but I think it was because of dehydration from the heinous race last night. I tried to chug water, but ended up giving in and taking some medicine in the afternoon. Still not convinced that it's Whole 30-related.
Day 12: I just reread my post from last week, and I'm definitely not feeling as enthusiastic about the whole thing as I was when I first started. The newness has worn off, and yet I'm still going. I've also been lazier about cooking and so I feel like the food I'm eating is boring. Or just repeats and that's not super exciting either. Maybe I need to do some cooking this week to get some excitement back!
Breakfast cup with black coffee this morning. I snacked on some almonds while I was working at my desk. I keep them close by.
I got home around 3. Drank some more water and grabbed an orange while I played with Molly. Then I decided to go to the gym and lift. I hadn't been in a while and it was pretty rough, but I made it through.
Confession: I have thought about quitting the past few days. At not even because I want to eat more food. I'm worried that it has been getting a little disordered. Sometimes the Type-A in me takes things overboard and does things way too much. I thought that this might be getting to that point. Bordering on the verge of unhealthy. Something either had to change or I was going to have to quit.
I decided to change things. After the gym, I made dinner. I heated up some jerk chicken and roasted some veggies. Super easy, but I start. I also marinated some chicken and put some salmon in the fridge to thaw. Hopefully things are back on the right foot. Time will tell.
Day 13: I take back (mostly) everything that I said last week. I think a lot of the crazy tiredness and emotions were Whole 30 related. But I'm glad that stage is over! I know that I'm not even halfway finished, but I really do think that I could keep this up longer. Well, I at least feel like I would feel better if I kept it up. I'm thinking about maybe continuing Whole 30 at home after this month, but being looser with the rules when I'm out.We'll see...
Breakfast cup again today. I'm almost out of them... Fajitas for lunch that I never ended up eating yesterday. After lunch, I grabbed a La Croix and realized that I was no longer craving sweets after lunch. The La Croix was delicious, but I didn't feel like I needed it to satisfy some other sweet tooth! Baby steps! Also, I wore a dress to work today that I haven't worn in probably a year. Hopefully by the end of the month, I feel like I'm getting a whole new wardrobe!
For dinner I snacked on some turkey with an orange and almonds. Grazing is better than nothing, right?
Day 14: This was an unusual morning. Molly barked a few times overnight, which she never does when she's in her kennel. Then I started hearing her moving around and scratching at like 4:30. Usually she is still fast asleep when I wake her up at 5:30 so I was a little concerned and went and got her. But then my morning routine was off. Ended up taking my coffee to-go, as well as a banana and almonds. Tacos for lunch.
I was feeling motivated and decided to cook for dinner. I made shrimp with zoodles.
Halfway through cooking, my power went out... again! It only lasted about 20 minutes, but I was a little nervous. Thankfully, my gas stove was already lit so I was able to keep cooking through the outage. I ate half the shrimp and put leftovers in the fridge. Then I cooked the chicken that had been marinating so I would be prepared.
Overall, I'm feeling better. I feel like I've hit a stride this week so hopefully I can keep riding the wave!
This is a hard season for friendships. I feel like I talk about this a lot, but it's not getting any easier. I'm 30. In the South. 90% of my friends are married and about 70% of them have kids. (Statistics are completely made up, but likely pretty close to accurate.)
Last weekend, I went to dinner with some friends (all married) that I hadn't seen in a while. We ate and caught up on life. We They talked about marriage and the hardships of it. I smiled and nodded and continued to eat. They talked about spiritual life as a couple and some of the hard things about marriage that no one ever tells you before you get married. I'll just file that away for later...
Then they talked about friendships... how they each had their own friends coming into the marriage but they want couple friends that they both like and connect with.
I get it. That's totally normal and I want that for them. I want them to have couple friends that they can do couple-y things with and go on double dates and all that fun stuff. But when they were talking about it, all I could hear was that I'm not in a relationship and so I don't qualify for this potential new friendship that they are looking for and therefore will get phased out. Logically, I know that's not how they meant it, but I can't help but feel a little bit hurt by it.
I had a good time. It was good to connect and catch up, but I left the night feeling a little discouraged. Expectations are crazy. They'll get you ever time!
Alright, I've been doing Whole 30 for a whole week. It's been... enlightening. One of my docs sent me a link to the timeline to give me an idea of what to expect.
First of all, for those few people that don't know what Whole 30 is, it is a diet modification. You eliminate all grain, alcohol, sugar, dairy, soy, etc. for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, you can add food back in one at a time to see how your body responds. While a lot of people lose weight on it, it is not a weight loss program! I wanted to do it for a few reasons... One, just to be healthier. I have not been eating well. When I get lazy, carbs are my go-to. I could have popcorn and wine for dinner daily. Probably not the best for my health. I also felt like my diet was not helping my workouts at all. I want to run more. And faster. To do that I have to fuel better. The other reason that I wanted to do it was mental. Obviously, I like a good challenge, but I also wanted to change my views towards food. I have not had the healthiest attitude towards food in the past. I have told people that I don't have an eating disorder, but I definitely have disordered eating. My views towards food and eating, my attitude towards my body, the reasons I chose to eat (or not to eat) were all wrong and needed some major adjustment, so I figured that I would do something to jump start things.
So here's the first update:
Day 0: I had planned to cook the weekend before, but that was difficult without power so I came home from work on Wednesday and opened a beer and did some meal prep. It reminded me that I actually like cooking occasionally. And it makes things so much easier to eat well when the food is already there and ready.
I had already decided on a "last meal:" Mexican. I ran some errands and then went to Las Delicias. I decided to place a to-go order and then sat at the bar and ordered a margarita while I waited for my food. The introvert in me is totally content sitting at the bar alone. I pulled out my book and started to read. Until the guy beside me commented on the size of the book. In his defense, Bonhoeffer is a beast! Literally and figuratively! He asked me some questions about the book. I put it away. He ordered another beer and we ended up talking for a while. We talked about work and sports and family and free time. Then after an hour, we said goodbye and went our separate ways. He didn't ask for my number so I didn't offer. I thought it was a pretty good first date! Ha! He obviously felt otherwise...
But I came home and ate a delicious last meal- with chips and queso and all the things! So good!
Day 1: I can totally do this! I woke up feeling really good and motivated. Went for a run around the neighborhood. Came home and made some scrambled eggs and avocado. Yum! I loaded up my work bag with La Croix, almonds, berries, and lunch. I felt ready to face the world!
We had our weekly meeting at work. It was actually a Caribbean salad so I could have eaten it (if I had brought my own salad dressing), but oh well. Cauliflower fried rice for lunch was a success. It was actually really good! But I was tempted to eat a cookie. I have gotten in the habit of having dessert after lunch. Time to break that habit!
For dinner, I had some leftover chicken and veggies. Not super exciting, but I wanted to eat it before it went bad. Today I was also acutely aware of how much I eat out of boredom. And how many unhealthy eating habits I have and unhealthy food views. I knew that before I went into all this, but it became even more obvious on day 1.
Day 2: Preparation is the key to this whole thing, I've decided. And I was not today. My chicken had been marinating and I had to cook it. Then I was too lazy to wash the pan and make eggs and I hadn't prepped breakfast muffins so breakfast was lame this morning. I drank my (black) coffee while I read, per usual, but just grabbed a banana on my way to work. Then I ate some berries and almonds at work before I started seeing patients.
For lunch I ate the cilantro lime chicken I had cooked that morning. I had that with some zucchini noodles. And some pineapple. Delicious! I didn't feel hungry at all or like I was missing anything physically. But after lunch, I again wanted something sweet to quench that craving. My cran-raspberry La Croix seemed to do the trick this time!
I snacked on some more almonds after work before meeting some friends for a 5K. I've never been very good at night races. I haven't figured out what to eat and when, but this one felt pretty good even despite the super high humidity! I had some post-oranges. They also had chicken wraps from Sonic that I skipped out on. It was late by the time that I got home and showered so I don't think I ate anything that night, but I was still feeling ok, so I just pushed on.
Day 3: Woke up feeling good. Don't feel like I ever went through the "hangover" stage. I drank some black coffee and then went to the gym to lift. I didn't feel unusually strong or energetic, but I didn't feel like it was an incredibly hard workout either. I'll take it! After the gym, I ran by the grocery to pick up a few things that I realized I needed. How do just a few things cost so much?! My food budget is shot this month!
When I got home, I ate some leftover cilantro lime chicken and a handful of carrots. Then I got a burst of energy so I showered, cleaned the house, and then did some cooking. Meal prepping is key!
Saturday night was my first real test. I went out to dinner with friends. I considered bringing my own food, but then decided against it. I figured I would just risk it. Worse case scenario, I hang out with them and then eat when I get home. I ended up getting the fish tacos. Kind of. I don't know if you still call them tacos if you leave off half the ingredients and don't eat the tortilla. But I got grilled fish with pico and avocado. Very good.
After dinner, they got ice cream and I drank the La Croix that I had brought. No quite as satisfying, but it will work. Again, I was feeling fine physically but was aware how much eating is mental and emotional and social. This is going to be good for me...
Day 4: I really need to make some breakfast cups so that I have something easy to grab and go. But since I haven't done that yet, I had a banana and a handful of nuts for breakfast. After church, I decided on a burger for lunch. I made the patty (with garlic and onion) yesterday so I just baked some kale chips and sliced some strawberries and called it a day. Oh, I also roasted a sweet potato for the bun. Very tasty!
I'm still not really following the timeline. I don't feel like I want to kill things, but I did take a 2 hour nap this afternoon. I don't know if it has anything to do with Whole 30 or if I was just tired and it's dreary and raining and perfect sleeping weather...
I don't remember what I had for dinner that night. Or if I even really ate. I have also realized during this week that I snack a lot. I eat lunch at work everyday, but I usually just graze at night. Besides nuts, there are not a lot of foods to just snack on. I probably had some almonds and watermelon and called it a night.
But my nap (and too many people texting me) made it hard to go to sleep this night and so I stayed up later than usual, which leads me to...
Day 5: I hit a wall on this day. Around lunch, I was exhausted. On the timeline, the tired stage is Day 6-7 but I might be hitting it early. Or my lack of sleep last night might have caught up with me. I ate nuts and berries at work for breakfast. It's kind of my quick grab go to. For lunch I had fajitas. I used lettuce instead of tortillas and they were really good. I also put a little bit of ranch on them which was a nice sauce with it.
My mom wanted to go to dinner tonight, but I said no. Not really because I was worried about what to eat, but more because I have spent so. much. money. on food and I feel like I actually need to eat what I bought.
Day 6: Nuts and berries for breakfast again today. Cauliflower fried rice for lunch.
I went to the grocery store (yet again) after work today. Just grabbed some more spinach and eggs and some Whole 30 approved sausage so that I could make some breakfast cups. I can only eat so many almonds and blueberries.
Ran errands today. Got home later than usual. Cooked some fish that I had been marinating and made the breakfast cups. Then I had an easy turkey sandwich for dinner. What exactly is the definition of a sandwich? Does it still count if it doesn't have bread?
I'm feeling good today. The tiredness is gone, which makes me think it was more related to my lack of sleep than it was Whole 30. And 2 people at work today asked if I had been losing weight. They say it's okay to weigh at the beginning and then again at the end, but not to weigh while doing it, so I don't actually know. I'm not doing this to lose weight, although that would be a nice bonus. I don't think I have though. I can't really tell a difference in my clothes. But hearing that from others was a nice pat on the back to keep me motivated to keep it up!
Day 7: I've made it a week! Had breakfast cup this morning. Nice change up from squirrel food. And super filling.
For lunch I brought the salmon I cooked last night. With an asian glaze. And some stir fry veggies. It was really good. It will probably be repeated before the month is over.
I got off work super early so I headed out to my parents' house to hang out at the pool. Pool time is not quite the same with La Croix, but I made it work. When I got home, I was looking in the fridge trying to decide what to eat and that's when I discovered that I don't really like eating dinner. I am more of a snacker. I used to think that it was because cooking was too much trouble after work, and it would be different if I had food prepared, but now I realize that's not it. I just prefer to graze after work. It used to be popcorn and wine or cheese and crackers. Now it's turkey and watermelon or almonds and an orange but still just snacks.
After diner is when shit hit the fan. My emotional strength was stretched to its limit and it broke. I sat on my back porch crying, while my dog looked at me curiously because she didn't know what was wrong. I don't know if this is Whole 30 related at all. I really don't think it is, so there will be a whole separate post on this coming...
** I was going to link the recipes, but then I got lazy. Here's my Pinterest board. These are the general recipes that I followed. I didn't measure everything- especially spices. And there were a few that are Paleo, not Whole 30, and called for honey. I didn't substitute anything. Just left it out.
A lot has happened in the last week. Most of it inside my head (per usual). But I have been thinking about things a lot. About how much God has taught me in the past few years. This week I was reminded, once again, that God has a sense of humor. And probably laughs at me a lot. But I was also reminded that He loves me fiercely! He protects me- mostly from myself. He wants what's best for me, even when I don't know what that is. Or I try to fight him on it because I think I know better. Or just because I'm stubborn and want to do things my way even if I know that they are hurtful and destructive and deadly!
And He loves me anyway. More than I could ever ask or imagine. That my friends, is unconditional love. Grace and mercy are incredible things! I have never once regretted my tattoos, but in moments like this I am even more thankful for permanent reminders of mercy and holiness. And thankful for remembrance- that even though I fail again and again, I am reminded of how far I have come. I'm also glad that every once in a while, I can see the humor in situations and laugh with God at this inside joke I call life...
On the whole blogging thing. I'm going to try to catch up though. I was doing so well (for a week). Monday was Memorial Day and I was off so I was planning to actually have a productive weekend. I was going to clean the house and do lots of cooking (today is day 1 of Whole 30) and get ahead on some blog posts, but then... "the storm." And I was without power for about 48 hours and so I did nothing.
I hung out with friends on Saturday and felt like I was away from Molly a lot. I have bad mom-guilt so when I got home from a cookout, I hung out with her for a while and then brought her into bed with me. The kennel is her domain. She feels safe in there and will sleep through the night. Everywhere else, she's on high alert all the time. So as soon as the wind started to pick up while she was in bed with me, she went crazy! I woke up and looked outside to see what was going on. It was pouring rain with straight line winds. I stood at the back door watching limbs falling off the tree in my backyard. Then the power flashed a few times and went out. I continued to watch the wind for a little while before going back to my room. I lied in bed and tried to think through what to do.
Sunday morning when I woke up, I got dressed, packed a bag and loaded up my car and drove out to my parents' house. I was there by 8. Molly and I hung out all day while I texted with some friends and tried to make a plan for the next few days. MLGW was saying it could be a week before power was restored everywhere and I didn't know when I would get power back. I was trying to be optimistic about things, while trying not to think about the hundreds of dollars of groceries I had just bought the day before...
Sunday night, we were having a going away party for a girl from church. We moved locations but it was still on. I optimistically loaded up my car and drove home. Still no power. I fed Molly dinner and headed to the party. Afterwards, I drove back home and loaded up all my food and went back to my parents'. Thankfully, I didn't have to throw out much. All my freezer food was still frozen! It had been less than 24 hours and I hadn't opened the fridge or freezer, so pretty much everything was still good. I did throw away all dairy. It could have been a little bit sketchy and I can't have it on Whole 30 anyway!
I slept at my parents' house Sunday night and Monday I obsessively checked MLGW outage map. Then I decided that I had to be productive! I ran some errands, read at the pool, and then showered (and straightened my hair for the first time all weekend!) Around 2pm, there were some posts on NextDoor that power was starting to be restored to my neighborhood. There were still some streets without power though so I wasn't sure, but I decided to risk it. I loaded everything up--including all my food--and drove home. I have a friend that lives closer to work than my parents that offered her place if I didn't have power, but luckily when I got home power had been restored!
I haven't had any heat/air conditioning on since mid-March. I thought I could hold out until June1, but when the power came back on, I decided to turn on the air. Just because I could!
I came back to work on Tuesday to madness. It has been super busy! But I am thankful that I am back home and have electricity. There were plenty of limbs down, but all of my trees are still upright. It could have been much worse! Molly, a girl after my own heart, also does not like change and uncertainty and was very excited to be back home in her space!
There are still plenty of people without power. I think this morning MLGW was saying 45 thousand- which is greatly improved from the original 188 thousand, but it's still hard. We still have people in the hospital that don't have power and need oxygen and other medical equipment. And there are people that are temporarily displaced while their homes are being rebuilt after fallen trees. Keep praying!
I haven't actually done any volunteering so this post is a little bit premature but... my blog; my rules!
I have been looking for volunteer opportunities for a while now. I felt as if something was missing and that I needed an outlet outside of work. I also felt called to do something more than myself- to give back to my community. So I was on the hunt. And there are a lot of opportunities working with children. Those were always the first things that would come up. The problem: I don't love kids. I really only like them on a case-by-case basis. :) So my search continued...
Not long ago, I was at Overton Square crawfish fest and they had vendor booths set up. We stopped by the booth for Literacy Midsouth and talked to the volunteer for a little while. Everyone grabbed a koozie and moved on, but I got a bookmark with more information and continued to think about it.
Then I went home to find out more information about it. It is basically a program to teach literacy in Memphis. Most of the learners are adults with a specific goal (to get their GED, apply for a job, get a driver's license, etc.) or ESL adults. I was intrigued and so I filled out the volunteer application.
Last Saturday I went to volunteer training. It was a good training, but a lot of information. I should get an email soon with information about the person that they matched me with and a baseline assessment to get a better idea of their starting level. I'm a little overwhelmed. I'm worried that I'm not qualified to do this- that I won't be patient enough or won't be able to effectively communicate. But I'm also excited about it. I'm excited to be able to help someone else in this way and expand someone's world through words!
I'm also pretty excited about just getting to hang out at the library!
Somehow I have turned in to an impromptu therapist. And it's kind of freaking me out!
It started off innocently enough. One of the girls from work would talk to me about her crushes or dates she had been on when she would see me on the floor. It then progressed to random texts. No big deal. Dating and crushes- I can handle. I may be a total train wreck when it comes to myself, but I am generally better at giving advice to others. But then she kind of started dating this guy and I know better than anyone that flirting is all fun and games, but dating brings up all sorts of previously repressed shit!
What started as talking about frivolous escapades quickly escalated to insecurities and past hurts. And wow! I felt privileged to be let in, but also like I was responsible for something fragile and had to treat it that way. I felt inadequate and as if I didn't have the words that would make things better and take away hurt. Therapy is a big responsibility, y'all! One night after a particular text, I had no idea what to say. I literally had no words. I was afraid to say the wrong thing and make things worse, or say something flippant and appear calloused. So I got in the shower. It's where I do my best thinking, after all! And I prayed- for guidance, for the right words to say, for the way they were received. Then I got out and texted her back. I don't know if anything I said was helpful or resonated with her at all, but I hope it did.
It made me start thinking. I always say that God wants us in a place of total dependence on Him and that He will do whatever it takes to get us there. Most of the time, for me, this involves tears, kicking, and screaming. But I think this was another subtle way to get my attention and bring my focus back to Him.
Guys, I can do nothing without Him! He continues to remind me to return to Him. To come to Him for strength, and peace, and rest. To return to Him to provide daily bread- the nourishment that only He can!
Today is my mom's birthday! We are planning to go out to dinner and celebrate...
But last weekend, we threw them a surprise party and it turned out better than I expected. There were some flaws in the initial plan. The twins are very stubborn and controlling! Ha! Our initial idea was to have my uncle suggest that the 4 of them go out to dinner. They turned that down because they said that they didn't want "a big party." We had to move on to plan B (or C). My aunt thought that my uncle had brought her to Memphis for a nice dinner just the 2 of them and my mom thought she was going to dinner with me and my dad. The one hitch in our plan: it was the weekend of Music Fest so traffic/parking downtown was crazy!
The "kids" all met at my house and ubered down. We had a private room reserved. Everyone stayed in the room to set up the table and place pictures and I went outside to wait and act as the decoy. My aunt and uncle arrived first. At first my aunt thought it was just a coincidence that I was down there. Then when she realized we were all together, I acted like it was just going to be the 5 of us. "You don't mind if I join in on a couples dinner, do you?"
When my parents showed up, my mom and aunt went and got drinks at the bar while my dad parked the car. I anxiously waited for my dad to park, while keeping an eye on my mom and aunt to make sure they didn't wander too much. Then I sent my cousin a text that we were walking in and the hostess took us in. I wish I had a picture of their reaction to the surprise. You could literally see every emotion pass over their faces. They smiled, laughed, and ultimately cried. They were both so surprised! And shocked that everyone was in town. My mom cried the hardest when she saw my brother. She had no idea he was in town from Seattle. It was even better when we told her that he had been in town for days and even spent the night at her house one night without her knowing!
There were plenty of hugs and some pictures before we finally sat down. There was a set menu for the dinner with a few select options for each course. Everything was incredible!
We spent dinner listening to stories about the twins growing up and hearing about how they met and started dating my dad and uncle. We were all laughing so hard we were crying. I'm pretty sure our waiter was a little bit scared of us!
Then between the entrees and dessert, all the kids stood up to share how much the twins meant to us and what we had learned growing up with what felt like 2 moms. There were some laughs at some of the memories, but overall these were pretty sentimental and I'm pretty sure I cried through every single one of them! When the prepared speeches were finished, the spouses and husbands said some impromptu words. Super sweet!
Overall, the night was amazing! The food was wonderful. The wine was flowing. And the memories made and reminisced were priceless!
Happy birthday, Paula and Pamela! I love you both so much. You have made me the woman that I am today. Finish Strong!