This week I'm prepping the blurb and title for the new book. All along I've had one sub-title in mind:
She was resigned to the weight gain and extra pounds. It was midlife with fibromyalgia and chronic pain. She almost gave up hope. Then Dina Goodman, more than a hundred pounds overweight, got tired of the excuses and tried one more time to drop the weight and this time it worked!
At the height of the pandemic Dina was working in health and human services, fielding call upon call from individuals in the throes of mental-health crisis because of pandemic grief or isolation. The stress from the secondary trauma had long since driven her back to food and drink and extra weight. Just before COVID hit she had actually found a “comfy” weight. Not as small as she wanted to be, but not so big that she couldn’t enjoy floating the river with Gus, her husband, or camping with her grandkids. “Comfy” was enough for a grandma with a husband who lavishly loved her no matter what the scale said.
The stress, the isolation, the pandemic, the failed attempts to medically mitigate her pain and thyroid issues all added pound upon pound until she was not only back to her weight before “comfy,” but beyond it. The pain was nearly unbearable. Forget camping with the grandkids, she couldn’t even get down to sit with them on the floor. There was no way she could float the river or leave Gus at the fire pit for a leisurely solo hike. She hurt too bad. Hope was almost gone, but something, likely a nudging from the Holy Spirit, compelled her to not give up just yet. She had another try in her.
She reached out to a friend who was sharing her weight loss journey on Facebook. The friend, Shannon, had joined a program designed by a critical care physician. It made sense to Dina and appealed to her. Shannon encouraged Dina to pray about it. Dina did pray, and on March first of 2021, she joined the program. The program focused on “whole health” and wellness. Though mild caloric restriction is part of initial phases of the plan, so are healthy food options, high protein, probiotics, vitamins and minerals. More than this, a large focus of the program is tackling mindsets that distort healthy food associations. Dina’s work in mental-health affirmed the program was going about things correctly.
After just three days on the program she was pain free and on the floor playing with her grandchildren! Gus pointed it out to her and she was amazed she hadn’t even noticed. The weight loss program mitigated her long-time pain; it was enough to keep her engaged. The high protein and “lean & green” meals knocked out her hunger and helped her identify when she looked too food for emotional support rather than nutritional value. It was fascinating and freeing to her. As a life long Christian she’d never thought of herself as an addict to anything, but through the program’s education, she realized her emotional relationship with food was, in fact, addictive in its nature. The pounds came off quickly and in less than nine months she was down nearly a hundred pounds. Her results aren’t typical for the program, but it makes sense to her, because of how dramatically, her mindset, not only her nutritional habits changed.
Sadly, the ravages of COVID took their toll on Dina and Gus. Both fell prey to the virus in November of 2021 and battled with COVID pneumonia. Gus, like so many, wasn’t able to overcome the virus’ hold. The man, loved and revered by many, went home to be with the LORD November 21st, 2021. Dina was left to grieve. She sees now how God was gently preparing her for Gus’ loss all those months before. A whisper of encouragement to carry on. A decision to embrace something new and change her mind and nutritional habits. With all of the preparation equipping her, she turned to Christ and to family and community support instead of food to cope with the grief and loss. A year into her health journey, Dina is just beginning her grief journey and life without Gus at her side. He always loved her, no matter what her weight was. He adored her for who she was, but she’s still grateful he was able to see her near her goal weight before he moved on to heaven.
Today, Dina is down 119 pounds. She found her healthy, “ideal” weight based off of her physician’s BMI charts. With the weight off and pain gone, she’s beginning to incorporate exercise and movement into her lifestyle. Short walks, bicycle rides, planks and resistance bands currently comprise most of her activities while she waits for hiking trails to open up. Dina’s current goal is to find her healthy, “ideal” caloric intake to match with her ideal activity level.
Dina is no longer “on plan” and foods other than just “lean & green” are allowed back in. For Dina her tastes have completely changed, what once was not enough cake, is now far too much and way too sweet. She allows herself small indulgences but notices what her body resists and what makes her feel ill or less than her best. She prefers the holistic approach to her food and cooking and is glad her family has embraced it as well. The family has always enjoyed cooking together, and they still do, but now the foods are better for them and the recipes they try are health and wellness minded.
Dina’s one more try was worth it. She found a healthy weight and nutritional lifestyle she can embrace and maintain. She enjoys coaching others into healthier life and mindsets now. She welcomes anyone who is curious about the program to reach out to her on Facebook. She trusts God to continue to prepare and equip her for all that’s in front of her and is grateful for all she has despite the loss of Gus.
** In the Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan(Registered) is 12 pounds. Clients are in weight loss, on average, for 12 weeks. **
Wendy Jones was reluctant to change her health, fitness or nutritional lifestyle. Her mother, gone too soon at the age of 53, lost her life largely due to the use of Fen Phen. Wendy’s boyfriend, Tim, was of the mindset that if death is inevitable, it at least doesn’t have to come from starvation. With an aversion to dieting aids and a culture of eat-what-you-want surrounding her, Wendy took the blows to her health as they came and accepted the extra pounds as part of life.
Sure, she knew that just a little bit of walking, like she’d done for one short month in her thirties, was enjoyable and netted a noticeable weight loss; but the effort and the stress of changing her lifestyle wasn’t worth the pay off. She’d tried many of the fads, the shakes, the weight watching, the pressure to try this exercise or that fitness routine. It frustrated her and turned her off. She didn’t need someone telling her she was overweight, the mirror did that just fine. She didn’t need someone to push her to do an exercise her body raged against. She just needed … to move.
There was more to it than a move, but purchasing a home and moving last summer was the catalyst that got her health and fitness on track, on her terms, maybe for the first mindful time. It’s sticking too! On a keto diet often strict, but admittedly holiday dirty (or gracious depending on how she looks at it) Wendy has lost 45 pounds in about 6 months.
How did a move motivate the change? It started when her boyfriend, Tim, passed away. The reality that life was short and her weight and health were out of control overwhelmed her. She knew she ought to do something but not what. She was grieving and didn’t want to do anything. How did she stick with healthy changes when she never had before? The overwhelm of it all stopped most of the momentum before it ever got past her thoughts.
Wendy’s a teacher and COVID sent her home for far too long. Her fit bit told her she took fewer and fewer steps each day and her seat told her she was the dictionary definition of sedentary. Anything she lost all those years ago walking, were long since put back on, along with other pounds that added on over the years and COVID months. Her dizzy spells got worse with medications meant to treat the issues that were causing some of her weight retention. Headaches and lack of motivation made even going upstairs for a charger cord nearly impossible. But she had to move, and a lack of motivation to pack and haul food from an old pantry to a new pantry got her thinking about food.
She wanted to eat what was left in her house before moving to avoid packing it. One by one, the processed foods and packaged products came out and got used up. She noticed that nearly everything was somehow processed, refined or preserved. The fresh foods were gone soon enough and she was left to use what she had. It was enough to get her beyond thinking. She looked into keto. Less carbs meant more whole, fresh food. Whole, fresh food was fancy, like the cheesy eggs she now enjoys for breakfast instead of sugar cereals.
After the move, she made a mindful switch on the foods she purchased. She bought more fresh vegetables and foods and discovered that she actually enjoys prepping snack bags for the fridge. She has healthy treats ready to grab-and-go whenever she or one of her daughters wants to eat. She preps healthy, fresh snacks and her kind of salads (the kind light on lettuce and loaded with other yummy whole food additions) on Sundays, and often reloads again on Wednesdays. She’s noticing that the girls, who she didn’t want to deprive, ask for less junk with the availability of more healthy snacks at the ready.
Her weight loss wasn’t on purpose, in fact it was so slow she really didn’t notice until she saw an “old” picture from 2019. The change was dramatic! She didn’t think she was ever THAT big. She hadn’t felt that big. She wondered what she looked like now and took a full length selfie. The difference was evident, not just to her but her Facebook following too.
It’s been all intake and nutrition for Wendy, exercise was NOT in her plan. She hated to sweat, there was no motivation to move. She knew food was the way to go for her, but oddly enough, she remembered those walks from years ago along the ACC woods loop. She enjoyed them, and after the move, she started to walk again... down random streets in the old section of her beloved town. Unscripted, spontaneous zigs and zags along friendly streets to see what the town has to offer from day to day. Sometimes it’s for her easy to get up and invite her young daughter, Dalilah, out for a walk with her. Sometimes Dalilah invites her, but Wendy is exercising, on her terms. Her exercise looks like a friendly neighbor keeping tabs on her town. She’s changing her food intake, on her terms, getting comfortable cutting veggies and the quiet joy that comes from an unexpected pleasurable activity. She’s changing her health and fitness for the better, her way, one snack, one step at a time.
Weight loss goals aren’t necessarily a focus in her life, but she does think it might be nice for once to walk the full 5k the town hosts each October. She’s thought about it for years. Maybe this is the year she does it! Maybe this is the year the scale drops under 200! No matter what, she’s proud of her changes and intends to keep at it and see where a healthier mindset takes her!
Tranquility today: 12:25 am snacking on the last of the berries & broccoli from the fruit and veggie trays listening to Passenger who Keeps On Walking. 4 women connected by technology, motivation & ... me?! This life coaching gig is a full circle trip. Is it about coaching at all... Or is it … respite?
My auntie Laurie and uncle David Iverson gave me respite once (yeah, Emma Rose them... way back when). Two glorious weeks free of chaos & confusion, I got to cross-stitch and watch Ben Hur in black and white. They were two weeks of safety and serenity for me... I don't know what they were for my uncle Dave, or cousins Em & Micah, but I know my auntie doesn't even remember them. Now, I want to give kids safety, and people rest & reprieve even if just for a moment from the stress, chaos and demands of life to connect with... themselves, their laugh, their emotions, their wants, their humanity, divinity... breath... life. I'll be honest, I hoped for 5 today and had to beg for 4. I'm not proud, but I'm not super duper embarrassed either... I believe people have a right to be safe enough to feel and breathe and process... And as imperfectly unsteady, unready and human as I am... I believe I can offer moments of respite & reprieve, rejuvenation, reflection, & maybe even rejoicing. But, unlike auntie, I hope I never forget this unmonumental "beginning".
It's officially the LAST day of the year. I've looked for tranquility everyday this year. Most days it's been there, sometimes tucked into the trials, but there. They’ve often been life savers, these tranquil nuggets in this chaotic cacophony we live in:
sharing the Blessing song with parents of a newborn grandbaby,
a hot jetted bathtub and a certain bearded mountain man,
a 15 minute meditation,
an online worldwide waterfall hunt after someone sends me a picture of an amazing waterfall,
a playful tryst in another new home,
a Bible verse that jumped out and hollered at me
an hour and a half Haystack hike,
a warm under-the-covers sleep-in on a too-cold morning,
getting lost in a book on a plane,
a naked stretch out on sun drenched triple pile carpet… like a fat, happy cat!
a wrinkly arm hug from a forgetful, frail woman,
still making index card memories, every… single… month… with a man worthy of my love,
a grandchild's laugh as we walk the neighborhood circle,
a warm cup of something good and time for no one but myself,
oddly enough… mourning with those who mourn, because my time has come and gone and will come again and as morbid as it is, this time with them reminds me of who I was before loss changed me and that I will change again into someone new the next time it happens,
a tick tocking clock while I read the Bible and Calathea plant unfolds to the light of day
a slightly planned waterfall hike with a world traveling baby brother,
a dock and tent in some forgotten Tennessee town
line dancing on cousin Rick’s property during the Barrett Family Reunion
a Bunko game with real-live, not zoomed people, after too much isolation
no work days to just read and write until she wakes
warm fuzzy socks to squish cold toes into,
… a twinkling Christmas tree and empty fruit & veggie trays.
I’m here. Today, this day. I am here. Aware and awake and … me. Not 100% me, but me. I’ve been in a COVID funk for, gosh, years, do I really have to say that? Yes, literally years now. I have flashes in time, traumatic memories and moments that this evil one has scarred me, and those I love with. It’s not over, but I trust God and science that it is diminishing. I, so far, am surviving, not thriving, but today feels brighter. I, we, those I am closest to, have survived thus far. There have been casualties, and there will continue to be. Some have lost their lives and some are yet to lose theirs. Some have lost their livelihoods, and some may yet lose their careers. Some have been scarred by the physical or psychological ravages of this evil one, some are still in the thick of their trauma. No one is unscathed.
But I’m here. Today, this day. I am here. At peace. At my keyboard, with mountains in view… writing, for the simple pleasure of writing! And it occurs to me that though I don’t always write with the mountains in view I think I like to write best when they are. Now it occurs to me, that’s not fully accurate, there was that wonderful dock, on the banks of some river in Tennessee, the name of which I’ve now quite forgotten. Maybe, I like to write best when there’s peace in my soul, and maybe I most easily find peace when I’m wrapped up in Creation’s beauty.
Anyway, I’m here. He hunts (he of course is the grizzly bear I call my husband, well usually I call him Jeremy, but grizzly bear works too). She sleeps (she is my 90 year old grandma with dementia who lives with us. I usually call her Gramma, or Gramma-lady in written word). They will be here soon (they are some of my grandchildren, I usually call them by name). You are here too. Not at the same time as me, but you are here now. Hello you! Welcome to my peaceful moment!
This moment is 8:56am Pacific Time on November 27th in the year of our Lord 2021, I sit in one of my most favorite unnatural places. Inside walls of wood and sheetrock I hole up. The heater just clicked on, cars hum by outside, olive green clock ticks lull me from the kitchen. My soft and cozy, fuzzy brown double recliner holds me, and I pause writing for a moment to reach for, and hold, something of my own. A warm cup of goodness! Ahhhh... Feet up, laptop propped on legs, I am here, and I am at peace, for this moment.
The house is remarkably clean. I spent hours yesterday before she woke cleaning it and listening to Rachel Hollis’ “Girl, Stop Apologizing” from my Audible app. I’m not a neat freak, I cleaned to prepare. Christmastime is here! We will decorate, and for some reason, in my mind, I need it to be very clean before I can decorate. This is a special decoration year for me. I am in MY own home for Christmas for the first time since 2016. I have Christmassed on the Chicken Farm, where I was quite welcome, but never quite “at home”. We Christmassed last year in a house that, though it belonged to us in name, was the “home” of the Gramma-lady. This year, my name and my heart are in this house, and I think that’s what makes it my own even though I share it.
It’s Saturday, soon she will be up. We will go to get the grandchildren, and a day of introductory Christmas fun will ensue. I can only speculate from my peaceful seat now, how it will all play out but I know it will not be like this. Not quiet. She likes the TV on ALL THE TIME, so loud it drowns out the clicks of the heater and tocks of the clocks. They are tiny humans but so big with noise and questions and giggles and rattles and musical toys. No, it will not be quiet, but Lord willing, just as blissfully peaceful.
May your day too be filled with peace, despite any noise, any trauma, any business that ensues. Peace be with you!
I’m known for asking questions, please indulge me... I have a question for you today. You are here now.
Where is “here” for you?
Wait… one more question… Would you stop for a moment and breathe deeply? In …. out … in again. Hold. Think. Feel. Exhale.
What are your feelings and thoughts at this moment?
Do you have peace? If so, why? If not, why not? Share publicly, or privately, or just with yourself.
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