Here’s what happened…

Hey everyone. I thought it was time to write a blog post explaining not only where I’ve been the last couple of years, but why I’ve been gone. I’ll try to start at the beginning, without dragging it out too much.

I started blogging about my low-carb experiences around 2003. I’ve been riding this LC train since late 2001. It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve learned so much over the years and I’ve made some of the most amazing friendships that I will cherish for the rest of my life. At other times it’s also been stressful, painful, frustrating, and disabling. I’ve learned that nutrition can be as volatile as politics and religion. People have strong opinions about what is and is not healthy. My belief is that the truth often times falls somewhere in the middle. My belief in the low-carb, ketogenic lifestyle has evolved over the years. It’s still the way I eat and the way I will live the rest of my life, but I also know people have different nutritional needs and specific situations can call for changes that may not apply to everyone.

So after hitting my weight loss goal in 2003, I was on cloud nine. I’d never felt so healthy, or so good about myself – for the most part. I say for the most part because I did often struggle with fatigue, which was part of the reason I looked into the LC lifestyle to begin with. I was also diagnosed with depression in 2000. So I started off with a few things against me.

After maintaining my goal weight for roughly six months, my fatigue continued to get worse and my weight started to creep up. I’d been adhering to my plan a good 75% of the time, but that wasn’t enough. So I went back to a strict induction type plan and worked hard. Sadly, it didn’t help much. I still gained weight and I was still exhausted. Finally a friend recommended that I get my thyroid tested. To make a long story short, I gained and lost and gained and lost and gained for the next 10 years while I fought to get a diagnosis. After lots of reading I was convinced my thyroid was the issue, but I couldn’t get a doctor to take me seriously. In 2013 I finally got the diagnosis of Hypothyroidism. It took another year of adjusting medications before we hit my sweet spot and I started to feel more like myself again.

During this time I used my diet and exercise to manage my depression. Anti-depressants and I have never gotten along. Despite my need for medication, the side effects were always too awful to continue using them. I learned to manage the best I could. This meant battling my inner demons on a regular basis, along with dealing with life, people, etc. Putting yourself out there in the public with a blog or website like this – it opens you up to some pretty  harsh criticisms. There were days when I could let the insults and jokes roll right off me. But on the days when my inner demons were on full attack, the naysayers often won too. That’s the thing about depression; it can take the rational and irrational and turn it all against you in your head. I got tired of fighting myself and the world too. I could do little about myself, but I could walk away from everything else. So I slowly started sliding back from all things publicly related to nutrition. I just did what I could privately, worked a little in my Facebook support group, and kept my head down while I tried to figure some things out. (When hackers destroyed the website a year or so ago, I tried to fix it, then shrugged it off to fate and moved on.)

Fast forward to my 40th birthday. Something slowly began to switch in my brain. I didn’t care as much what anyone else thought. I was learning to love myself and my life, regardless of what anyone else believed. I was slowly starting to change my mindset about life.

Then the unthinkable happened. In late April of 2014 my mom fell ill. After weeks of treating what we thought was a cold or pneumonia and her not getting better, they did some intensive testing and doctors informed us they’d found a mass on her lungs. It was made official in July 2014 – my mother had lung cancer – stage III B. They started talking treatments. And we were dismayed to hear the doctor speak of her lifespan not in years, but months. We prayed and hoped for the best.

As you can expect stress and worry got the better of me – of a lot of my family actually. For me, that meant focusing less on taking care of me and more on caring for everyone else and finding ways to distract my thoughts. I reverted back to some very bad eating habits.

Treatments continued, with mom doing okay some days and not so good others. The treatments allowed her to keep her hair, but she struggled to eat and became very thin and weak. In December of 2014 she was declared cancer free. It was the best Christmas gift any of us could have asked for. During the latter part of the year, after some lengthy visits with my mom on the topic, I decided to pursue my dream of writing fiction novels. By Christmas I was finished and looking at a January 2015 publishing date. All seemed right with the world. I was even starting to take care of myself again, despite the long hours of writing and lack of sleep.

I published Ulterior Motives and enjoyed having ALL my family around me to celebrate my new endeavor. I started on my second book, Shadows of Jane. Mom started to go downhill again. By February 2015 we learned that the cancer had metastasized to her brain. This time the treatments robbed her of her hair and what was left of her strength. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever watched a loved one go through. I can only imagine what it was like on her end. On May 8th, 2015 at 12:38 am, surrounded by her family, my mother slipped away. I had the privilege of being at her side when she slipped from earth to Heaven.

My beautiful mother and I at the zoo. We both loved photography and shared that hobby together as often as we could.

My mom was one of my best friends, and this was a loss that cut me deeper than I would have ever imagined. I slept even less, worked more, and I pretty  much stopped cooking and ate whatever was cheap, fast, and convenient (that rarely means healthy and in this case it absolutely didn’t). I attended the LC cruise shortly after her death and pushed through like a trooper, but my heart truly wasn’t in it. I developed a weird aversion to certain foods – specifically meat. I couldn’t figure it out for a long time, but that didn’t leave a lot of choices for healthy low-carb eating. I gained weight easily.

About a year after her passing someone explained to me that my food aversions were likely a form of grief and I’d eventually get back to normal. Thankfully they were right, but I went through hell before I got there. The one year anniversary of mom’s passing also fell on Mother’s Day 2016. This made the day doubly hard and I was already dealing with a very bad bout of depression that had me considering checking myself into a clinic of some kind. I was suicidal, overwhelmed, and defeated.

At that time life dealt me one more crushing blow and it almost did me in. I sought out help from my doctor who put me on anti-depressants. I had also been recently diagnosed as type 2 diabetic and had started Metformin. Slowly I started to climb out of the hole I was in. I worked hard to start losing weight again and managed to take off 6 whole pounds from the start of the summer through the end of the fall. In November something clicked and I found my will to fight for my health and well-being again. I started a combination of strict low-carbing and intermittent fasting. The weight started to fall off of me.

Now here I am – I’ve lost a total of 42 pounds since November 2016 and I am down 2 jean sizes. I’m feeling like a million bucks and I know the rest of this weight will disappear in good time. I’m continuing to work hard, stick to the plan, and enjoy all that life has to offer.

My outlook has changed since my mom was diagnosed. I’m creeping up on 44 years this August and I don’t intend to waste another minute of time worrying about a past I can’t change, a future I can’t control, or what others think of me. I’m doing the things I love, surrounded by the people I love. I’m chasing big dreams, sharing my experiences, and holding nothing back.

This is the new me. The better me. This is the Amy I should have been all along. I hope you’ll like her as much as I do. And if you don’t, that’s okay too. Life is a series of events that surprise us in good and bad ways – it’s how we handle those events that shape who we become. I will continue to grow and learn during this journey, and I intend to share it all here.

 

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