Monday, October 31, 2011

The Fridays Just Keep Coming

Happy Halloween Lovlies!
My lack of blogging last week was due to a busy week at work and yet another bout of fall sickness.  This time my sinus infection came back with a vengence, and caused a tooth and jaw ache so horrible I thought I had an absessed tooth.  Thank goodness it was just the sinuses.  I began a new type of antibiotic on Thursday, and started to feel my face deflate a little last night.  Whew!  Between my kids' ear infections and my sinuses, I am wondering if there's an end in sight!
Despite being sick, I had a pretty good week.  I ate on-plan all week until Friday.  That has been my story for a few months now.  Friday comes and I get into celebration mode.  And "Friday" lasts all weekend long.  By the time yesterday came around, and I took my quasi-sick kids to yet another Halloween function, I was starting to feel low about myself.  As we watched other kids playing in the state-of-the-art aquatic center and vowed to come to swim next weekend, I imagined I would look much like a beached whale in my swimsuit.  Oh if I could drown myself in apathy and chocolate!  I ate a lot of chocolate this weekend, not limiting myself in the least.  I gobbled down pumpkin seeds until my tongue was sore from cracking them.  I ate McDonalds (including ice cream) and we had a family dinner on Saturday at our favorite restaurant.  And though the Ahi tuna wrap is pretty clean, I had plenty of salty, greasy chips and salsa and some fries beside. My indifference to my diet left me feeling kind of emotionally strung-out by the end of the weekend.  And like always, I justified it by saying I would get right back on track on Monday.  And I always do, but the yo-yoing is so unhealthy. 
I think I will try to pull things back and stay more in control on the weekends, at first giving myself one day, be it Friday or Saturday, to be a little wild with my diet, and then eventually reigning it back in to one meal per week.  My body certainly doesn't need all those excess calories, and if I keep ingesting them, I will need to get my "fat clothes" back out of storage.  How sad is it that I haven't gotten rid of them yet?  It shows a lack of belief in myself.  I think I will donate them this weekend, it will be a strong, healthy thing to do.
Today as I was doing my longer-than-normal interval cardio session, an idea popped into my head, something to keep me on track and give me a goal to work towards.  I want to be in a size 12 jeans by next summer.  I am currently in size 16 in most brands, so that's just two more sizes to go, it is a reasonable and obtainable goal in that amount of time.  Thanks again to my friend Tony for the suggestion.  His advice is always on point.
Still no news from the college as to if I am accepted for the January term yet, it has me on pins and needles.  I am simultaneously nervous and excited for my journey to begin.  If (or, more appropriately, when) I am accepted, I will have access to a really nice gym and pool.  Whether or not I will have time to use them are another story! 
Well, I am assuming it will be another busy week that will pass quickly.  Here's hoping you have a safe Halloween and a great week!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Unstoppable

Today I got back a little of what I've lost along the way, inspiration.  It came by way of this month's issue of Oxygen magazine.  It might just be me, because I need this right now, but it seems like they targeted all the issues I needed to read about and be reinspired by this month.  There was even an article in it about how easy it is to slip into indulgence mode, and justify in a multitude of ways.  For me, lately, I have noticed that I have the mindset that I can just eat a little something naughty by justifying, I'll just eat this now, and get back on track on Monday (or, after I recover from my cold, from this recent stress, from my period...etc).  Putting off focusing on my health is just a convenient way of saying I'm too lazy or too self-indulgent to deal with it right now.  I'll get on top of it later.  Always later.  So yesterday as I was considering whether or not to have a handful (or more likely a bowlful) of my kids' cereal, I thought, I always say I'll change things later.  Maybe now is my "later".  And I decided I will never get stronger, never get back to where I was if I keep being so easy on myself and continue eating so mindlessly.  So I skipped the unneccesary calories and fat and busied myself helping the kids with their homework.  The desire to have said sugar subsided nearly instantly.
One of the short articles in Oxygen this month is about mantras, and how powerful they can be.  As I was reading through the mag and looking at all the great figures, something warm and uplifting returned to me as I remembered my mantra: I've got more in me.  And all the feelings of strength and triumph returned to me.  It wasn't magic, but it was certainly magical.  Those five little words make me feel like I can move mountains.  I have said them to myself when I want to skip a workout, and they have given me the drive to get out of bed and get that 5am workout out of the way.  I have said them when I my muscles are fatigued and I think I can't squeeze out one more rep, and somehow they gave me power I didn't know I had.  I even said them when I was running my 5K and every part of me wanted to quit, muscles aching, joints begging for me to throw in the towel; and those words filled me with pride that made me push on to completion.  I am not the choices I have made in weakness, I am the choices I have made in moments of greatness.  And I may have forgotten this in the past, but I know it now, I am unstoppable!

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Dreamt of Roller Coasters

When I originally went to college more than a decade ago, I had recurring dreams of driving somewhere and getting lost, and everyone I asked for help was cold or didn't understand the words I was saying.  I would always have a very sinking, empty feeling, and was full of anxiety in the dream, and many times I was even crying.  After taking several psychology courses, I was able to analyze my own dream, it equated to me feel very directionless and confused about where my future was headed.  I did horrible in college, but did manage to get my Associates of psychology after more than 7 years of messing around. 
Last night I had a dream of being on a roller coaster inside a building.  It was something that was required of me for as part of my "coursework", and I was comfortable with it until we slowed to get ready for the descent to the platform to get off.  I had so much anxiety about the fall, though controlled, that I felt I would pass out.  Just before descent, my alarm went off.  It was one of those dreams that I was so deep into, that it took longer than usual to pull out of it to turn off my alarm.  As I began my cardio, I couldn't shake the dream, and I didn't have to go very deep to analyze it, because it was only echoing thoughts I have been having this whole weekend.  I am on a roller coaster with my health/weight and I am worrying that I am falling off the track.  For the first time since I began this journey, I feel like my yo-yoing is starting to have a negative effect on my total health.  My blood work came back good, yes, but after that blood test was out of the way, I began letting things go.  I ate catered food several times for lunch (because it was free, and it was delicious deli sandwiches from a bread company) and I ate sugars like they were crack, seeking it out every few hours to keep the sugar high going.  I am starting to eat in secret and hide the evidence.  And, when I was driving my kids around this weekend, my belly full of donuts and crappaccino (the powdered, gas station kind, gross) the realization of what I am doing hit me.  My jeans, the ones that have been loose since I bought them, felt a little restrictive.  A month ago when I wore them, I had the belt on the fourth notch, and now it was most comfortable on the second notch.  Yikes.  And sitting in my car, breathing a little heavier than I should be, with a sugar headache, but still clenching the bag with more sugar in it, I felt like I was losing control of the whole thing.  My stomach felt all bloated and fat, and still, when I got home I ate the box of candy I bought, I ate it until my stomach felt stretched and uncomfortable.  I ate so much junk that day, that it was hard to eat real food when it came time.  And at 5:30pm when we were out to dinner at McDonalds, my older son commented that all he'd had to eat so far was ice cream and candy, I was horrified at what I was doing not only to myself, but my kids.  It comes full circle, back to the most important reason I began this journey, to be a good example for my kids.  Lately, I have been anything but, and I am taking them with me. 
A huge proclaimation here will not hold me accountable, so I am not going to make one.  I think this week I will surround myself with the very things that have inspired me all along, the South Beach Diet book, Oxygen magazines, and my husband and kids.  I think it is much like my first attempt at college, without direction I am lost and empty.  I need to look at the junk food as what it is, complete garbage, and not as an indulgent treat that will make me happy.  So, I think a very effective strategy for me is to come clean with my husband, and tell him what I've been doing, fess up to the crap I've been eating, and stop the eating in secrecy thing, to help hold myself accountable.  If I wouldn't eat it in front of my hubby, it isn't productive to be putting in my mouth.  I think I will also begin my search of effective supplements to curb the hormone-based cravings.  I have heard Evening Primrose Oil is very effective, has anyone had success with it?  Part of my success in this has been, and will always be, not letting there be exscuses.  PMS can easily be an exscuse, and I have been using it as such for several months now.  This is why I am 159 again, and the jeans that used to be loose, are now fitting normally.  Time to fix this before it gets away on me.  Halloween is just 2 weeks away, I don't want to have all that candy in front of me and weak resolve.  It could be a total catastrophe!
Now that I have applied to go back to college, and have a plan for my future, my life will only continue to get more complicated, I need to have a solid foundation of health (and healthy mind) or I will end up having those recurring nightmares of being lost, or being on a roller coaster. Or worse, fall back into the familiar abyss of depression and self-loathing.  At least in dreams, changing negatives are as easy as waking up.
The journey continues.  Hopefully the roller coasters were just a temporary diversion.
Have a great start to your week!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blissful Start

This morning I felt like I was walking through a dream.  A really pleasant one.  My car was covered in silver, shimmering goosebumps from an overnight rain, the slate-grey-blue sky partially punctuated by a magnificent salmon-orange-yellow sunrise;  a blanket of leaves painting the grass in impossibly brilliant mosaic.  And a mild breeze brought sweet leafy, almost cinnamon-scented air to my nose.  It brought back so many warm memories.  When I think of fall, I think of it in a very ideal array of all the things that are delightful to my senses, and today was the epitome of all of those things combined.  It was a very uplifting feeling, and a great way to start my day.
When I was getting the kids on the bus, I kept thinking, I wish I was able to go for a walk right now, in this light and this air, instead of having to do it when it's dark out.  Incidentally, I don't walk outside anymore, it's just too dark at 5am.  So, I have gone back to acting like a caged, pacing animal inside my apartment.  While it's not the most exciting thing to do, it works. 
 Yesterday was an interesting day, that gave me some things to analyze.  I started the morning off with a great leg and glutes workout, and it made me feel so amazing!  I had my usual breakfast plus a piece of fruit to help restore glycogen and aid in healing the muscles, and I was basically on-plan all day.  Then, some issues came up with finances and at first it was a negative situation, then it turned positive.  I also had a very restless feeling (it was a very slow day at work) and really had the driving feeling to go back to school.  It was driving me crazy to be sitting here in an office, doing nothing very productive, when I should be studying or improving myself in some form.  I did a little more research on what it is going to take to get back to school, and it just got me more excited.  I should have my transcripts this week, then I can start to plan my class load and decide when to go back.  While I was bored, I went and got some gummi bears from the "healthy snacks" machine at work.  I thought to myself, fat free does not equal healthy.  There were 88 grams of sugars in that bag.  I ate them all.  I felt on edge, like I wanted to launch, but had nowhere to go.  But in general, I was in a great mood and excited to move forward.
After work I needed to stop and get a few things from the store, and as I was walking down miscellaneous aisles, I grabbed microwave popcorn and a box of halloween Pop Tarts, and fully intended on eating them.  On the way home I thought to myself, man, that was a great workout this morning.  Too bad I'm about to completely negate it.  Is that what I want to do.  No.  But I really feel like I need to eat some crazy junk.  In hindsight, I should have gone home and done a little cardio, followed by a good meal.  I knew the sugars I'd consumed earlier had taken my mind and body hostage, and consuming more of it would only keep the chain reaction going.   But I didn't listen to reason.  And that is why I feel like a blob today, bloated and jiggly.  I need to tap into whatever I had going before my reunion, it wasn't strength or willpower, I just didn't care if there was garbage around me, I just went about my business of getting healthy.  I think it's going to take a lot of inner examination to discover where that part of me went. Sigh.
Well, every day is a new chance to be strong.  Even though the bloodwork is done, I still have a doctor appointment at the end of the month, to discuss the results and I will have my weight and blood pressure checked at the same time.  So, I am not out of the woods yet.  As messed up as it sounds, being forced back on medicine might be good for me, because it would make me mad enough to work toward getting off it.  Again.  Time will tell.  Then again, part of what made me strong before was knowing that I was changing my destiny, not waiting for the magic to happen but actually making it happen.  Maybe it's as simple as that.  I hate to look down and see a jiggly, flabby belly and huge flabby arms.  Those things can disappear if I make them disappear.
With the wonderful start to a picture-perfect fall morning, I am sending out the good vibes in hopes that you are getting an equally blissful piece of fall today.  Breathe it in today, it may be snowing in a few weeks!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dangerous Combos

You know how it goes, when you are broke, you always see things you would love to buy, but when you have money, you never find anything all that great?  That's where I am with food right now.  After a successful week on the ketogenic phase of the diet, I started to feel a little stir crazy on Friday afternoon.  I knew my husband was in for another really busy weekend without us, and we weren't going to get our usual weekend cheat meal/family time.  I also discovered on Friday, that the only day my schedule would allow for me to get bloodwork would be today, so I was stuck in between a rock and a hard place.  I wanted to be squeaky clean so the bloodwork would be good, but the devil on the other shoulder wanted junk food SO BAD because it was the weekend, I was stressed out about the estimate for my car repair (leaky gas tank), and I am so used to the ritual cheat weekends.  Plus, I discovered another thing about myself; my husband being away makes me feel like eating the worst kind of junk ever.  Part of it is because I am ashamed to eat it in front of him unless he's eating with me, and some of it is, wanting to make it seem more fun for my kids.  How messed up is that??  And what's more messed up is, it works.  Movie night absolutely MUST include popcorn AND chips AND something sweet.  Boy, what Daddy's missing out on!  Didn't we have a great time?  There are always extra smiles and chuckles and happy dances.  Yikes!  What am I doing to my kids? 
This weekend, I took them to an outdoor adventure at the Wildlife Sanctuary in town, and it was the best time!  There was face painting and story telling, digging for "fossils" and feeding the ducks and geese.  We even got to pet a duck, it may have been the softest thing I've ever touched.  We were served lunch there, a high-grade hot dog, chips and a pickle.  I only took a hot dog, and ate it with a bun, despite my goals.  That was OK, I thought, not like I'm eating a candy bar or something.  Then, my son had a few chips and a pickle left on his plate (he's dramatically terrified of bees) and I didn't want to waste it since the lunch was provided for free.  I ate his 4 chips and a pickle spear.  I still felt OK with that, since pickles are OK on SBD and it was only 4 chips.
Yesterday was the day my husband went to Chicago for a photo shoot, and was gone all day and night.  That is when it got really intense for me.  I wanted to buy every kind of junk food out there, and consume it all.  The only thing that stopped me was the blood test looming over me.  I did have to do the grocery shopping and had to bring the kids along.  They picked out some Combos snacks for their school snack.  Gulp.  I love Combos.  Then, I did allow them to pick out some ice cream, since it's way cheaper to get it from the store than the ice cream shop.  I haven't been even thinking about or craving ice cream, so I knew I'd be OK with that, but I bought some sugar-free fudgesicles for myself, just in case.  I also broke down and bought them some fun size Butterfinger candy bars.  At the time I bought them, I wasn't planning on eating any of them, just something for the kids.  When we got home, I had exactly two Combos and one Butterfinger.  Whew!  That's a nice treat, and plenty.  Then I gobbled up two fudgesicles.  I made sure I ate a great, on-plan meal to help fill me up and keep the cravings at bay.  It worked, thank goodness.  By 8PM I had to begin my fast for the bloodwork, and having to drink plain tap water was brutal.  Not being able to so much as chew some gum was even worse.  By the time I was getting the kids ready for the bus this morning, I was planning to eat all sorts of crazy things today, now that the bloodwork is out of the way.  But, after I left the lab, I came home and ate my normal eggs and turkey bacon breakfast (with a piece of whole wheat toast this time) and felt full and satisfied and the cravings had subsided.  There I was left with wistful feelings of having the "freedom" to eat something crazy, but deciding there wasn't really anything all that great out there to fantasize about, now that I could eat it if I wanted to. 
So, my extent of my "crazy food rebellion" today has consisted of a high fiber bar (our machines at work are filled with only "healthy choices") and 10 pieces of Reeses' Pieces candies from a gumball machine.  The cravings have died down considerably.  It baffles me a bit, but I'll take any help I can get.  Just don't put the Combos in front of me, that might end differently.
Hope everyone had a great weekend, and you week is off to a great start!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

If you Fail to Plan...

With my refire on the SBD, my metabolism is so revved up that I can hardly keep my tank full.  My belly is constantly growling.  Usually an once of peanuts helps with that, but I still have to be careful with peanuts because they taste so good that I want to keep eating them.  As far as crunchy,salty snacks go, I pretty much only eat peanuts.  Anyway, as funny as it sounds, it is great to be feeling hungry, because that means I am eating clean and my metabolism is responding accordingly.
This morning I was set to do a weight session, when I realized my kids had misplaced the key for the weight stack.  So I improvised and did some intense interval cardio.  I will be able to do that weight session after work, and I will have much more energy to do it, considering all the protein and good fats I've had today.  I am actually looking forward to it.
I almost let stupidity take over this morning.  I had a lot to do after work last night, and it has been a busy week with working long hours on Monday and parent-teacher conferences on Tuesday.  Anyway, I decided last night, that instead of cooking my lunch for today, I would spend some extra time with my kids, and prepare my lunch this morning.  I'm sure you can guess, I didn't feel like cooking it this morning either, and I procrastinated and procrastinated while I readied my kids for school and got myself ready.  I was trying to come up with acceptable, convenient alternatives, but since I am on Phase 1, I couldn't.  The thought to just have one meal off plan crossed my mind for an ever-so-brief moment.  Then I remembered one of my favorite quotes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."  And I stopped to ask myself if what I really wanted was to fail, and that was really effective for me.  No, my intention was not to fail, but to be lazy and have a lunch that may have consisted of high carb, high cholesterol garbage was just another way of saying what I was planning to do, out of sheer laziness.  Needless to say, I went ahead and made my lunch with plenty of time to spare.  And it was so satisfying.  And I know my stomach will be growling again soon, signalling that the clean food I've eaten is being well-used by my body.
So it would seem, the best way for me to stay on track is to hold myself accountable, by not sugar-coating or down playing what I am considering doing to my diet/health.  "Just a little bit", "just once", "no one will know but me", these things all mean I'm not holding myself accountable.  I'm all for a cheat meal from time to time, but it should be planned or it can too easily lead to a slippery slope of indulgence and slackness.  And that is something I have learned, firsthand. 
Today the scale said 154, a number I haven't seen in a month or two, so I know I am heading down the right road.  Due to an upcoming photo shoot, my husband won't be eating a cheat meal this weekend, so I have to decide if I even want to "go there" at this point.  I may just get my kids something cool and enjoy a Diet Coke instead.  I really want this blood work to come out good.  The health of my kidneys and liver depends on it, because I know they want tol stick me back on those poisons they call medicine.  I don't want to give them a reason to even consider it.  For now, I am really happy that I don't have any cravings.  For just this little while, this is back to being easier than I expected.  And that is a victory any way you slice it!
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Results Quite Possibly Typical

I have lost 2 pounds since restarting on Monday, and I am starting to realize that, unlike other diets I have tried, my results are very reliable, if not typical on this diet.  Not to mention, when I am on the ketogenic stage, I feel FANTASTIC!  Not sure why that is.  I would expect to be void of energy due to a lower amount of carbs, but the opposite is true.  What's more, I don't have nearly as many aches and pains, and I sleep like a baby.  It is a stange phenomena, but one I'm glad I discovered. 
Today we are in the midst of an Indian Summer, with daytime temperatures hitting nearly 80 degrees.  The leaves are all a magnificent yellow-orange, the sun golden against the most impossibly blue sky.  If only every day could be like this!  To sweeten my already great mood, I have an extra optician in my office today, so I was able to take an hour long lunch break and get out in that gorgeous fall weather to crank out an extra cardio session.  I worked harder than I have in a good long time, and when I was done, I felt ready to conquer the world!  No 3PM slump for me.
My goals for this two week keto phase have nothing to do with the numbers on the scale, but to come out with sparkling clean bloodwork so I can continue staying off cholesterol and blood pressure meds.  Once I get through October (I'm trying not to even think about the bags and bags of candy my kids will have in the house) I can start to shift my focus back to the more shallow business of physique and the numbers on the silly scale.  For now, I am happy knowing I am back on track and healing my body.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Magic of Weight Loss

I am still having a mental aversion to lifting weights.  It irritates me slightly, because I have a great home gym now and can do so much I haven't been able to do for the past year.  But every time I say I'm going to lift, I end up copping out and doing cardio instead.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to come home on my lunch break and get in a weight session.  I skipped it.  This morning I had planned on doing a weight session, and was being wishy-washy about it when my husband asked, "When's the last time you did a weight workout?"  I answered him with a laugh.  He said, "Seems to me, there's your answer."  So I finally did it.  And wouldn't you know, the first set of chest presses felt so good, I was happy I was doing it. 
It reminds me of when I was really on track, and someone asked me how I get motivated and how I have the energy to get up at 5am to work out.  "Energy begets energy" I told her, and today reminded me of that.  Of course I was tired when I woke up, and having to do my weight session right upon waking is more difficult than when I wasn't working and could get a meal in and leisurly do my weight session at 9am or later, once the kids were off to school.  But once I began my workout, that's when I felt awake.  The blood pumping into the muscle is such an amazing feeling of vitality!  The output of energy, the increased blood flow, the exchange of oxygen, and pushing myself harder than I have in a couple weeks made me feel awake, more flexible, stronger and most importantly, so happy.  It is amazing what a weight session does for my mood!  It's such a strange phenomena, that my mind wants to get in the way of doing something that makes me feel this good, I have just gotten in the bad habit of not demanding more of myself.  When I feel so groggy and want to skip a workout or just do cardio instead, I need to remind myself that my silly little interval cardio isn't what keeps my energy and metabolism revved up all day, and isn't what is going to give me the lean, muscular body I have always wanted.  And if remembering that doesn't work, I will remember my own advice; energy begets energy.  And I might add, using strength builds strength, internally and externally.  There is your magic.
Have a great day everyone!  Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Restart...Again

The total lack of dedication and commitment showed, for the first time in nearly a year, on the measuring tape this morning.  Yikes, I knew I felt flabbier, and the proof was right in front of me.  I value the reading from the measuring tape far more than the scale, which has only fluctuated a few pounds despite.  Now, I'm not saying it was a huge gain in any one spot, but it is there.  So depressing.  Not that I didn't know what I was doing, and what the result would be, it just stings a little bit to see it in concrete terms.
But I am in a good place today, as this is my official "restart".  Back to Phase 1 I go, and so far, it is a non-issue.  It has been a very productive morning for me, in the way of taking care of phone calls and faxes that needed to be made both personally, and involving my work.  There is a great sense of accomplishment in that, and it has completely distracted me from thinking about food.  I know that won't always be the case, but for now I am going to take it as the gift it is.  I decided to go back to the ketogenic phase because it will help me break my cravings for sugar, which I have created by eating the very thing.  I generally feel very good on the low carb phase of the South Beach, so it isn't that hard for me to stick to it.  I will decide whether I want to do it for 1 or 2 weeks as I go.  The sugar cravings usually subside easily within a day or two.
I did some low-intensity interval walking this morning, as I am planning a weight session on my lunch hour, providing I don't have to deliver the kids to the babysitter.  The inconsistency of my schedule irritates me, but it's not impossible.  At least I have the equipment at my home so I don't have to try to find time to get to the gym.  Not that I wouldn't love to go to a gym, it's just not in the cards for me right now, timewise.
My journey began 10 months ago, and while I knew I would struggle at some point, I'm glad it's happening now instead of earlier, where I likely would have decided it's too hard and given up.  This restart feels a bit like it did in the begining, I know I've got some challenges ahead, but I also know nothing is impossible.  Who knows, by next summer I could be in a bikini! ha ha.
Here's hoping you are all having a fantastic Monday!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Familiar Comfort

I thought last week would never end!  Marked by stress, illness and feelings of obligation despite, I struggled to come out the other side with my sanity intact.  Never mind taking care of myself, that's what antibiotics are for, right?
Thursday was my grandmother's funeral, and it's a day I won't soon forget.  When I was young, we used to visit my mom's side of the family every weekend, and spent many weekends in my grandmother's care.  I remember waking Sunday mornings to the smell of Grandma's cinnamon carmel rolls baking, and watching her wash laundry on the antiquated wringer washer.  Being back in that tiny town (it has been so many years) flooded me with the warmth of nostalgia.  Giant oaks, elms and maples showed of a fantastic array of color, set against an overcast sky, the leaves looked impossibly vivid.  Everything seemed much simpler, maybe because of the size of this tiny town, or maybe colored by my warm memories, and there was such a euphoric feeling that took over me, unexpectedly, on a day when I expected to be flooded by sorrow I was feeling anthing but.  Sadly, it has been years since I have seen most of my relatives on my mom's side, even though they live only a few hours drive away, due to my own antisocial behavior, so despite the circumstances, it felt really good to see everyone. 
I am not the biggest fan of organized religion, hopefully that doesn't offend any of my readers, it is just something that I was not raised with and have always found it to be a little curious.  This service was so strange to me.  My cousin sang a beautiful song and there wasn't a dry eye in the church.  The service to honor my grandmother was about smells.  Yes, you read right.  It was preached to us that, before one gets baptised, they smell of the dirty humanly flesh of sin.  It was likened to a field of manure.  Then, when one gets baptised, God takes a whiff of them (actual words, I kid you not) and they have "the aroma of Christ".  I thought it was my natural cynisism making me feel like this was the most odd thing to say to remember a loved one who's passed, then my mother looked at me and whispered, "Kind of odd, eh?"  and we shared a quiet chuckle.  Needless to say, eyes were completely dry the rest of the service! 
The day concluded with a luncheon, an enormous buffet of homemade foods that my aunts and mom had made, some of our family favorites, many of them were my grandma's recipes, and I ate the comfort food, and it did a splendid job of making me feel warm, and nourished in a way I haven't been in years. 
So, what should have been a sad day, ended up being my best day in a long time.  It strengthened my sense of completeness, and made me realise that this family unit is, ultimately, warm and inviting.  I will make more effort to spend time with these relatives while I live in Wisconsin.
My health is slowly improving.  My throat felt much better after just 24 hours on the meds, and I am left with just a head cold for now.  I feel a lot better.  Tomorrow I will start my ketogenic portion of the South Beach Diet once again, and see it through the full 2 weeks.  I should be ready for bloodwork at that point.  It will be interesting to see what results.  I have been getting so used to "sleeping in" until 5:30, that perhaps the getting up at 4:50 might be the toughest part of getting back on track.  But, I need to do this for my health, so that I can get to a point where no doctor even considers me "at risk" or tries to force meds on me again.  That is my goal.  It is a series of trial and error, but I will surely get there.  With my grands, greats and great-greats all passing from heart issues, I have every reason to not let my health fail because of bad choices.  Life is far, far too short for that!