The Blood Pressure Project

I have many hobbies. I knit and crochet, and have a massive quantity of scrapbook supplies that I haven’t used on a scrapbook in quite some time, but treasure nonetheless. My small apartment holds the makings of many projects. And yet, I look enviously at my students and the projects they engage in. Some are school related…such as my champion Battle of the Books team and their project of reading 15 specific novels in a few months in order to compete in a contest of their comprehension and knowledge of the books. Much to my boastful delight, they take it very seriously and bring home the trophy every year! There are other students too, that have told me about personal projects. One year, a young girl wanted to learn how to crochet so she could make and sell potholders. She wanted to send the money to the ASPCA because she saw the commercials featuring images of abused animals and sad music playing in the background.

With an intense focus on their goals, these students have been successful with their projects. While I don’t really have time for projects like these kids, I do wish I had something to focus on. I have run two road races in the past and that seems to have worked for me. They were projects that required training and a specific end goal, but that end goal ended with the finishing of the race. Each time I had the best intentions to keep running and sign up for other races, but I never did.

Yesterday I was presented with a new project that really isn’t optional. An appointment with my psychiatrist led to a same-day appointment with my primary care doctor. My blood pressure has been an issue for many months. I had dental work done last month and even my dentist was concerned about my blood pressure. The appointment with my psychiatrist was at 8:00 in the morning and my blood pressure was high right off the bat. 167/107 when I went in and 165/105 when they checked it again on my way out. Considering my psychiatrist spent most of the appointment discussing my physical health rather than my mental health, I felt that I should take his advice and get in to see my primary care doctor asap–which ended up being an hour and a half later.

When all was said and done yesterday, I spent this morning making plans for this new project. Both of my doctors want to see me back in a month–not the usual three months they give me–so I truly cannot procrastinate with starting this project. I have a month to get my blood pressure started on a downward path. Losing weight is ultimately what needs to happen here. This means that exercise needs to become a priority again, which leads me to believe that it was some sort of divine intervention that after repeated messages and inquiries on Let Go and Facebook Marketplace, nobody actually followed through to buy my elliptical. I was trying to sell it because I stopped using it and wanted more space in my living room. Silly reasons to get rid of something that had helped me so much in my past attempts at weight loss.

This will be the third time that I’ve started a weight loss journey. I hope it will be the charm. I’m going to mix the elliptical, weight training, and running in with a low-salt diet. I really do enjoy running and I am looking forward to getting back out there again, though I am going to stay away from races for a while. I’m afraid of running the race and not continuing with my running regime after it’s over. Running, for me this time, has to be a means to an end. I have to use it as a part of my project to lower my blood pressure, not just to run a race.

I watched a Facebook live video yesterday of a woman who lost 100 pounds in one year. She said that you have to consider your weight loss journey as who you are now. Not just as something you do part time or do some times but not others. You can’t quit because you make a mistake and gorge on junk food. You have to learn from your mistakes and keep going. I’ve made mistakes in the past in my attempts to lose weight and those mistakes were simply that I did not keep going.

I want to lose weight and lower my blood pressure in order to be healthy in a way that I never have been before. Granted, there’s no Battle of the Books trophy that I’ll get when I achieve my goal, but then again, this project doesn’t have an end. It will be something that I just keep doing and maintaining. A daunting task? Sure. But not a task that is unfamiliar and certainly not one that is impossible. Here I go.

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I ran the race.

And it was tough. The first mile consisted of a really steep hill that I walked up, as did many other people who were in the rear of the pack. Once the route descended the hill, I was able to run. Not for the whole 4 miles, but as much as I could possibly run in intervals of varying lengths.

I had done a great job of getting out of bed every other morning at 6:30–of course it helps that 6:30 is when my husband leaves for work. I would get into my running gear and tackle the couch to 5k app, slowly building myself up to run in longer intervals. I was ecstatic when I got to week 5 day 3, which is running for 20 minutes straight. I had told myself that once I got to that point, I would stop using the app and just focus on distance. Time had run out by then and I was only able to do one run without the app before the race. For that run, I was able to go for about 2 miles without stopping to walk. Granted, my pace is that of a turtle, but my shuffle run is still faster than my walking pace. And really, just the fact that I was getting out there in the morning, like I had said I was going to, was enough for me. The temperature every morning was in the high 70s with pretty high humidity. But it never bothered me. I expected to come home sweaty each time, that’s what happens when you run during the summer months. Even on days when we were under a heat advisory, I still ran, because in the morning before the sun gets high, the temperature isn’t in heat advisory territory. So when several people talked of braving the heat and the humidity being the worst part on race day, I just kind of laughed because it really didn’t affect me. I had long since gotten used to it.

There were 1,016 people registered for the Firecracker 4 Miler this 4th of July, and according to the results website, there were 860 or so actual runners. I placed somewhere in the 740 range. I had no aspirations of doing anything spectacular for pace, I just didn’t want to come in last. I was very close to the bottom of my age group, but I wasn’t last and that’s o.k. with me.

What was spectacular about the race was the people. The event was hosted by the local running club that I’m a member of. I don’t go to their meetups out of self-consciousness, but I’m a paid member. It was many of the members that served as volunteers for the race. There were people at every turn in the route clapping and cheering for every person that rounded the corners. They didn’t know my name, but they could see my number and having someone call out “Come on 64, you’re doing great!” when I was huffing along was amazing. The people handing out water at every mile with big smiles as I approached were encouraging. Seeing my husband randomly on the side of the route taking pictures when I didn’t expect to see him and hearing him cheer me on, was a great motivation. Even the ladies running behind me commented on how sweet it was for him to do that.

But the moment I will carry with me came as I rounded the last turn that would lead me to the finish line. There was a lady waiting for me. Judy is the wife of the man I teach with. I teach English and he teaches math. He doesn’t have a Facebook page, but she does, and we have been friends on there for several months. She’s of retirement age, but is in great shape and running races like this are the norm for her. She had called out to me earlier in the race. She was about a mile ahead going in the opposite direction I was. We quickly passed by each other and I didn’t think much of it until I saw her on the corner of that last turn. Obviously she had already finished the race and gotten her medal, in fact, she placed 2nd in her age group. But there she was, back on the course, waiting for me. She hopped off the curb and started jogging beside me. Words of encouragement poured out and though I was very much out of breath, I thanked her as best as I could. She kept pace with me for that last quarter of a mile, continuously assuring me that I was very close to the finish line. When we reached the very last few feet, she stepped off the course and across I went. From extended arms I took hold of my finisher’s medal (which is all I really wanted), a banana, and a bottle of water. People were clapping and cheering and my name was being called over the loud speaker as I crossed, as though I was the first. It felt great. I didn’t see Judy after that, I had wanted to thank her again after regaining my ability to speak without my breathing getting in the way. I did get to thank her on Facebook later. It is very true what they say about runners being the best people.

the last leg
My fantastic hubby captured the moment. I’m the one in bright pink on the right, and Judy is on the left in the tank top and white hat.

This race was Judy’s last for a while. She told me this when we bumped into each other the day before at the packet pick-up location. Her knees have really been hurting her lately. I told her, this is just the beginning for me. And I meant it. I’m determined now to lose weight. My diet prior to the race wasn’t the best. But now I’d like to get rid of the weight so that I can be a better runner. So that in a future race, I can be an early finisher so that I can step in and jog with someone who needs an extra boost to the finish. It may take me a while to get to that point, but I’ll get there. I’m not going to give up, this truly is just the beginning.

The purpose of a teacher’s summer…

…is to relax and rest. Two months off in the summer is the reward for 10 months of having very little free time because of lesson plans, paper grading, and a thousand other extra things that I’m responsible for. There are exactly two and a half days until summer break and my principal has already let us know that when the kids leave on Thursday, she wants us to leave with them. You don’t have to tell me twice! I will lay rubber in that parking lot just as soon as that last kid is picked up.

This summer, I fully intend to do a lot of knitting and a lot of reading. Doing all of that in a reclining position on the couch with my feet up is also in my plan. But this summer, I’m going to do something different. I’m going to actually get up early each day and go running. I have to get up early because here in the southeast, there’s a small window of time each day before the crushing heat and humidity take over, and I plan to take advantage of it. I want to run, I love running, and I’ve been very, very bad at it lately. Bad, only in the fact that I haven’t been consistent in my efforts.

Now though, I have to be consistent because I have already paid my registration for a 4-mile race in the downtown area of my city on the 4th of July. I’m cutting it awfully close on training time. To be fair, I did re-start my couch to 5k app a couple weeks ago, however, school kept me busy and a new baby kitten kept me busy, and a whole host of other excuses kept me indoors. After May 31st, I will have no excuses. There will be nothing to keep me busy besides what I come up with myself. I’m doing this.

It’s going to be a bit tougher this time because I’ve only ever run a 5k, which is about 3.2 miles. This is a full 4 miles, but man oh man am I excited to get out there and try. I really can’t explain what it is that makes me like running so much. Maybe just the sense of accomplishment… I don’t know. But I do know that I’m eager to run this particular race. Perhaps because when I ran my first 5k, I didn’t know there was such a thing as a finisher’s medal, so I went home empty handed. With this race, I am determined to get that medal at the end.

Training for that race will take the first month of my summer break. I don’t plan on stopping after that race–I want to keep a running habit going, so we’ll see what the second month brings. That’s going to be my main purpose this summer–running. One of the songs I listen to when I run has the following line: “Surprise them with a victory cry.” If I make it through this summer and actually develop a running habit and run that race and get my medal, I will surprise myself with a victory cry when back-to-school time rolls around. Wish me luck.

 

Unfinished

Last year, a friend posted the link to a writing contest on Facebook. It was for a literary journal and they were looking for non-fiction essays. With dreams of winning the top prize, I knocked out the story of my mental health journey and entered the contest. I did that all in a matter of two or three days, without editing. I didn’t win. I’ve already got something started for the contest again this year–I know to take it slow this time.

I had quickly become a fan of this journal and began to follow them on Facebook myself. Over the summer they started a reader column in which they give a word, and then the readers submit their response to that word. The first one was ‘small’. Man was my entry good! But it wasn’t accepted. I recently tried again with the most recent word ‘unfinished’. I haven’t gotten a response yet, but I felt it important to include my entry here because while I have been so focused on issues related to my mother lately, my fitness journey continues to be present in my mind. I can’t give up on that.

Here is what I have to say about it:

“As a work in progress standing, reflected in a mirror, I know that the image I see has not changed from the day before. It will not change tomorrow. I see imperfection where my husband sees beauty. I must remind myself each day that I’m not so concerned about the outside façade, but the health of what’s most important on the inside. I take too many medications at my young age for my physical health. An unintentional laziness makes the refills necessary. I created a new healthy lifestyle once before and every day I hate that I haven’t done it again. Vivid dreams at night of running and a desire to become a mother without the worry of complications drove me to train for and successfully complete a 5K. The incredible feeling of pride in myself for being able to run the entire distance and cross the finish line will never diminish in my memory, and yet, it is difficult to recapture the motivation to begin again. That initial spark may never come back. The second time around will require something different. And whatever it takes to get started again, I know that going to bed every night with regret in my heart for a day filled with wasted opportunities is not the answer. The answer lies in the mirror. It is necessary to see myself each morning as a person in transition, a person who is capable, a person who is simply unfinished.”

Wish me luck–both in getting my piece accepted into their next publication and for getting back on track with my physical health.

Summer Rules

While teachers in the local public school system were heading back to work today after the long Memorial Day weekend, I was enjoying my first official day of summer vacation. With the last day of school for me being last Friday, I have been in a perpetual state of relief since then. But now that break is officially here, I have to hold myself accountable to the things I promised myself I would do once I was out of school for the summer. I have two main goals for the next two months–re-develop my diet and exercise regime and read as much as possible so that I can prepare myself for the great leap I will be taking in August from teaching on the elementary level to the secondary  level. I have heaps of books I have purchased lately to help me with this preparation, which I suspect I will not truly be prepared for until after the first day of school in the fall.

So that I will not look back on these upcoming months with regret when they are over, I have come up with some rules that I’m going to use to guide me through June and July. I’ve developed a routine like this before, so I’m positive I can do it again. And like before, I plan on losing count of how many consecutive days I have been at it. I don’t plan on stopping after school starts back.

Rule #1: Drink only water. As an added bonus, I’d like to keep track of how much water I’m intaking so that I can log it on my FitBit app.

Rule #2: Complete the Couch to 5K app. I’ve already run a 5K, but I’d like now to pick up my pace. I’m going to re-work the program, except I’m going to replace my slow, feet-shuffling jog with a faster, longer stride.

Rule #3: Don’t sleep all day. I’m going to run in the mornings before the steamy southeastern heat and humidity kick in. I’m not counting out a nap later in the day, but an early start is what I’m initially after.

Rule #4: Eat only food that is prepared at home. Eating out makes it too easy to get off track with my diet goals.

Rule #5: Use the elliptical on running ‘off’ days. The Couch to 5K app requries only 3 days of running per week. I may increase this by repeating some of the days, but when I’m taking a running break, I have found that going for 20 or 30 minutes on the elliptical helps increase the strength in my legs.

Rule #6: Make time to read every day. I really do have many books that I would like to read this summer. In fact, I’m already halfway through The Life of Pi, one book that I see as a potential book to teach my future 8th graders.

Six rules shouldn’t be too difficult to follow. Eagerness and a desire to make the most of my summer is what I’ll take to bed with me tonight. Hopefully it will last through the night and help get me out of bed in the morning. I have no reason to suspect it won’t.

Begin Again

The universe is trying to get my attention today. On the ride to work this morning, the radio station I listen to played “Fight Song”. On the ride home from work this afternoon, the same radio station played “Fight Song” again. Both times that I heard the song I was shoveling fast food into my mouth. I don’t have a good reason for why I was doing this. I have found that in the past month, fast food has become a part of my life once again, my clothes are getting tighter, and laziness has crept back in. I’m not happy about any of this by any means. In fact, each night that I lay in bed, I feel passionate about the next day and how I’m going to get back on track tomorrow. However, tomorrow has yet to turn out the way I intend it to the night before.

The weather has turned warmer and the thought of running in the afternoon heat does not appeal to me. There are alternatives to this though. With the days becoming longer, I don’t have to run as soon as I get home for fear of being caught in the dark, I can wait for the sun to begin to set when the temperatures aren’t as high. For every excuse that I have, there is a way to get past it.

In December, when I began this journey, there was a spark…a click…something that pushed me forward toward my goal of running a 5K. I don’t have another 5K lined up, and when I think about my ultimate goal (of being healthy enough to have children), it seems too far off to be reachable. Where is that spark again? I think the answer to that question is that it may be a while before it comes back, or it may not come back at all. But in the meantime, I think I’m just going to have to fake it until I feel it again. I’ve decided that I need to set a goal for myself that is short term, something that is attainable. Weight loss is my ultimate goal…has been all this time. Losing 20 pounds by July 1st is something I can do. I just have to do it.

So tomorrow, I begin again. I will get up a little earlier than usual in order to spend time on the elliptical. I will pack my lunch for the day. I will drink water throughout the day. Depending on how I feel, I may even get on the elliptical again when I get home. I am determined. I will not go to sleep tomorrow night wishing I had done better during the day with regard to my health. I will persevere again. I’ve done it before, I will do it again.

 

I finished.

Better than I could have imagined. I think that adequately sums up my experience running a 5K for the first time last Saturday.

The weather that morning was very mild, unlike previous years that caused me to bundle up tightly when volunteering early on race day. With my husband and his mother accompanying me, I was a bundle of nerves prior to the race starting. But there were plenty of friendly, familiar faces surrounding me as well. Parents of students I have taught, the students themselves, co-workers, and friends from church all showed their support when I walked by with that number pinned to my shirt. I don’t know how it would feel in any other race where I don’t know as many people. I felt like I had the homecourt advantage.

The race itself was a bit more grueling than my training had prepared me. Whereas I was able to run a full 3 miles without stopping to walk earlier that week, the course of this race featured three very prominent hills that made it difficult to not stop and walk for a bit. With that said, I was just glad I didn’t get lost. Seeing a course outlined on a map didn’t give me much confidence that I would remember where to turn. There were plenty of signs and volunteers along the way that pointed me in the right direction though.

At the beginning, I had to talk myself down from throwing up, my excitement and bowl of cereal were that high in my system. Though it didn’t take me too long to find my rhythm and settle into my usual pace. My excitement rose again as I crested the final hill and saw the long, straight road to the finish line. That was the best part of all. A moment I will truly cherish. Kids I knew from school lined the street and held out their hands for me to slap as I ran by. Voices cheered and hands clapped as my strides got longer and faster toward the final turn towards the end of the line. A broad smile across my face can be seen in every picture that was snapped of me coming through the inflated arch that marked the end of the race. The older couple that I know from church that took pictures and cheered my name e-mailed those pictures to both my pastor and principal later that day! There was so much pride felt as I finished the race. I know my small family in attendance were proud. And so were the members of my extended family who were with me that day, albeit from a long distance away, keeping in touch with texted updates.

My performance that morning ended up taking me 45 minutes exactly, which put me 4th out of the 8 women in my age group. Much to my surprise, I was only 38 seconds behind the 3rd place finisher. Being pleased with myself for just finishing the race (and not coming in last–though that would have been ok too) is accomplishment enough for me. I set a goal, and I achieved it. I worked hard to train and have come a long way physically since I began. That same evening, I downloaded the 5K to 10K app. I’ll complete day 2 of that training tomorrow.

My family is crazy, and other facts about my life this month…

 

 

I don’t mean crazy in the fun, free-spirited way, I mean that they have lost their minds. Or have they? The short hand version of this foray into the psyche of the minds of my family is that my father, who walked out on my mother and I 16 years ago and who I haven’t spoken to since before I got married 3 years ago, called me out of the blue one night a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to apologize for everything he had put me through since his sudden and very unexpected departure from the lives of my mother and I. I don’t want to diminish the sincerity of this surprise apology, but the series of events that have followed this phone call is on the verge of tearing what remains of my family apart, to the point that I almost wish I could go back to having an absent father.

What has ensued since that phone call can only be described as weird. With both of my parents being married to my step-parents, they are now in the middle of planning their respective separations from said spouses and their reunion. How many kids go through their lives and wish that their parents were back together? At the age of 33, this is about to happen with my parents, and I think it sucks. There are so many thoughts swirling around my brain about this, that I have sort of gone numb to it all. I don’t feel anything but exhaustion when I think about it. My sisters, who share a mother, but not this man who has swept in from out of left field, are on the eve of shutting out our mom if she goes through with this relationship with my father. This post could get very lengthy if I tried to explain the history of my family and what has led to this impending divide. Suffice it to say, I am glad that I live a great physical distance away from it. I can choose to answer the phone and be a part of it, which I’m not so sure I want to do right now. This has all happened at an incredible speed and I am desperately trying to stop the swirling and figure out how I truly feel about it all.

All of this during the weeks leading up to my first 5K, which I am finding it incredibly difficult to focus on right now. I tried to go running yesterday, after back to back phone calls with my mother and one of my sisters and I just could not focus. I had to turn around after running only four tenths of a mile. My personal best is 2.46 miles in 31 minutes. I have a route that I have mapped out in the neighborhood that I run in, and I am determined to make it that last half of a mile to equal three total miles. I haven’t done it yet, and the race is this Saturday. I have faith that I can push this out of my mind long enough to get ready for the big day. At least I think I do.

In addition to the turmoil in my family and the race preparations, I have been debating a significant change in my career as an educator. I have taught elementary grades for the past 10 years. My principal would really like for me to move up and teach middle school English/language arts. I have resisted and debated and contemplated, and finally, last Friday, I turned in my letter of intent stating that I would move up. I’m incredibly nervous by this new challenge and have had that mixed in with the other thoughts demanding my attention.

I am beginning to feel a constant state of anxiety, which is absolutely maddening. But, I’m a stronger person than I was 16 years ago when my dad left, and now that he has re-entered my life, I’m going to prove to myself that I can handle anything that comes my way. I will not let this drag me down to where I was. I will push forward and I will survive the craziness. I’ve got this!

Sexy and I Know It

Several years ago there was some sort of trend on Facebook for a brief day or two. It consisted of your friends picking out the sexiest picture of you from the photos you had on your page. I could be completely wrong about what it actually entailed, but I do remember that a good friend of mine commented on a picture of me skydiving. She said that it was my sexiest picture. It was an interesting thought…what makes a person sexy? Clearly, to her,  it was my daring, full of adventure side that was captured in one brief moment as I was free falling toward earth. Of course, it wasn’t sexy about five minutes after that photo when I got sick to my stomach after the parachute opened and I threw up all over my flight suit on the way down. But that’s a story for a different day…

Two days ago, while going after my greatest running achievement so far, I was reminded of that picture that my friend had declared sexy. It was such a warm, sunny afternoon this past Monday, that I decided to go running, even though I had gone the day before. This was Week 5, Day 3 of the Couch to 5K program and it involved 20 minutes of straight jogging. No walking interval inbetween. Man, I was nervous! Could I do it? I was pretty sure I couldn’t, but I was giving it all I had. Because the sun was beginning to set as I ran, I was able to see my shadow. My heart sank a bit when I saw it. I know I’m still overweight, but here I could almost look back at myself and see this person who is overweight….attempting to run. I felt foolish. But only for a moment because I immediately thought of my “sexy” skydiving picture and I knew right then that this shadow, this picture of me running, that’s sexy. I may not have been the picture of perfect fitness, after all, it took years for me to get this large, I’m not going to shrink all that much in two months, which is unbelievably how long I have been working at this. But right then, I knew that I was giving it my all and when the music dimmed in my earbuds and the voice of the digital coach came on to say that it was time to cool down, I couldn’t have been more proud of myself. I had gone the full 20 minutes without stopping to walk once! Any neighborhood observer would have caught a glimpse of my arms and fists raised in a brief instance of Rocky Balboa style victory.

While I didn’t take a picture in that moment, sort of a memento of my personal accomplishment, I did post about it on Facebook. The outpouring of love and support I received from friends and family made me feel beyond good. My knees the day after though? They hurt as bad as they did when I sprained them during that now infamous skydiving adventure. But again, a story for a different day…

Thank you, Tim McGraw.

Each time that I have stepped on the scale in the past two weeks, I have been dismayed. A time or two, the numbers have gone up, other times, they have stayed the same. I replaced the batteries in my scale out of paranoia that I had gained back the weight I had lost as my scale seemed to indicate. It is true, that perhaps I am building muscle in my legs. I have completed week 4 of the Couch to 5K routine as of yesterday. In fact, I garnered another kudo from a man letting his dog out in his front yard as I trodded by. He smiled and asked how I was doing. I smiled back and mumbled something about being fine. He then said, “You’re doing a good job”. Creepy seeming or not, that compliment made me feel good. Add it to the bank of other compliments and thumbs up I have gotten from total strangers as I have made my way through the neighborhood near the apartment complex we live in.

Exercise doesn’t seem to be the issue. Today, I spent 45 minutes on the elliptical, as a way of still pushing forward with my excercise, but not burning out on the running. After all, the Couch to 5K plan is only supposed to be for three days a week. I think where I have gotten off track is the food that I eat. I declared war on carbs at the very beginning of my fitness journey. I swore off fast food and soda, and while I still haven’t started drinking soda again, I have on a very rare occasion, eaten a quick breakfast from Burger King on the way to work. I haven’t been as diligent about eating smaller portions when I cook dinner. There are a variety of things that I have noticed about my eating that I know I need to improve. Knowing that the weight isn’t coming off as fast or as easily as it did at the beginning, is a wake up call for me.

The nagging disappointment that I feel vanished tonight as I was preparing dinner. I typically listen to music while I’m in the kitchen and the song that came on that gave me pause, was courtesy of an old 90s country song by Tim McGraw. “Don’t Take the Girl” is such a good song and even though I don’t listen to country music now, I do have my favorite songs from the country phase I went through for a brief time in high school. The basic premise of the song is that a young boy begs his dad to not take the little girl in the neighborhood fishing with them. Ten years later, the same young man begs a criminal to take anything but his girlfriend (the same girl from his boyhood). Five years later, again, the man is begging for the girl not to be taken. This time, the girl is in danger of dying after giving birth to their child and the man is begging God to not take her. The song reminded me of why I’m even on this fitness journey. I’m not too concerned about being skinny for the summer when it eventually comes again. Though it would be nice to have more shapely thighs when my husband and I go to the beach. My true reason for wanting the weight to come off is to bring children into this world. I’ve mentioned it before in other posts, and for some reason, I have almost lost sight of why I’m doing this. It is true that I am very eager to run that 5K in March. I love to run, but that’s just the avenue I have decided to take to reach my bigger goal, motherhood.

The song tonight that came up on my playlist popped up at the right time. I needed the reminder that I don’t want to be the girl in the song whose life is in danger after she gives birth. It has been in the back of my mind for a long time. If I don’t do something about my health, my pregnancy could put my life at risk. My short-term goal is to lose 15 pounds by my next physical, which comes up about a month from now. So, with that said, I need to put my game face back on and get serious again. Try to recapture that vigor I had at the beginning and resist the temptation to slip back into old eating habits. This month and a half of my journey will NOT be for nothing.