Makeup makes me more Trustworthy?

While doing my daily mindless 10 minutes of internet surfing, I came across an article about women who wear makeup appearing more trustworthy… say what? It seems a little absurd to me, but researches at Procter and Gamble, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found women who apply and little something to their face daily not only look more attractive (duh, who doesn’t look better with a little mascara and gloss?) but people also think these dolled up women appear more trustworthy and competent. For me, I wear makeup daily because it makes me feel better about myself and let’s not forget I am also single in the city and you never know when I might bump into Mr. Right. But I’d hate to think my competence level was being decided on a day I got a little crazy  wearing a bright blue eyeshadow or some sort of glitter. I would hope someone would at least engage me in polite conversation before judging a book by its cover! However, this study begs to defer. Researches asked study participants to look at various pictures of women with all different looks for 250 milliseconds and rate them. The ratings went up depending on the amount of makeup. Wow!! This doesn’t mean I’m going to change my makeup habits, but  it is food for thought.
Now the question to you is… do you judge a book by its cover?


Women Are Supposed to Cook, Right?

I’ve been married 10 years, I have two kids, but I am not a good cook.  I should be though, right?  If you are a wife and a mom you should cook.  That’s what I’ve always thought growing up.  It probably doesn’t help that my husband is a great cook.  He cooks and I clean.  I must admit, I clean well.  I like to clean.  It’s sick I know.  My friends call me Monica from the TV show Friends.

Anyway, I do want to cook more and cook better.  I just don’t know where to start.  I see these other women writing weekly shopping lists and planning out menus.  The only thing I ever really cook besides Mac N Cheese is anything you can throw in a Crock-Pot.  I have a recipe book for my Crock-Pot, so I can find ingredients and throw them together and push start.  I can do that!  And it tastes great when it’s done.  That’s the extent of my cooking though.

What menus are these women planning?  How are they so organized that they have coupons for each item?  I can’t even bring myself to use the FREE Soy Milk coupon that keeps printing out at Stop-N-Shop.  I suck at using coupons.  I wish I could be more like these awesome homemakers, but I just don’t know where to start???  Help anyone???

Please give me some tips!  I also want us to start eating healthier!  I picked up some yummy veggies at a local farm yesterday, and my husband (of course) made an awesome vegetable stir-fry with brown rice, so that was good.  We don’t always eat that healthy, though.  I try and have a fruit, veggie, and main meal for my kids each night, but it’s hard.  They also usually fight me on the veggies and leave them on their plates!  Any tips for that?

I just got a book called “The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Your Child to Eat – and Eat Healthy” by, Elizabeth Pantley.  I will let you know how it helps me and all about the book once I am done!  It should be a start and helpful for me!

I think it probably just comes down to making cooking a priority.  I may not ever be as talented as my husband who can just see ingredients and create his own dish, but I know I can follow directions/recipes if I really want to.  I do love to bake!  I bake cakes, cookies, muffins, etc., so I know how to follow directions correctly.  I just don’t cook.  Cooking is different than baking.

I guess it’s just easier being lazy sometimes.  It’s easier throwing a frozen lasagna in the oven than making it from scratch.  I will put my mind to it and try harder.  I think I will make it a point to cook at least 3 meals this week from fresh ingredients.  Post some easy recipes for me if you have any!  Thanks!

* Do you feel pressure to be a good cook because you’re a woman?

Kristin Wheeler

How Cancer Changed my Identity (Click for a Cure)

The early morning air was frigid.  The snow crunched under my feet, and a single tear rolled down my chapped cheek.  Headphones on, I was listening to Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying,” but this time, the words  cut through me and took up residence in my head.

He said I was in my early forties, with a lot of  life before me
And one moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays
Talking bout’ the options and talking bout’ sweet times.
I asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end
How’s it hit ‘cha when you get that kind of news?
Man what did ya do?
He said

I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denyin’
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’…

You always remember exactly where you are when you get the news.  I was a morning anchor in Cleveland,  and my husband had just been diagnosed with cancer.  Melanoma.  True to my nature, I remained optimistic, but I would be lying if I said the thought of being a widow in my thirties didn’t enter my head. My husband is a fighter, much like my sister-in-law, who at the time,  had just beaten breast and thyroid cancer.  He wanted to keep the issue private and just wanted the cancer GONE, so shortly before Christmas he had a five and a half hour surgery at The Cleveland Clinic to remove the cancer that had spread across his face, down his neck and into his chest.  It was quite possibly the longest five hours of my life. To say the wait at the clinic–alone–was agonizing is an understatement, but I’m happy to say that although he hasn’t been cancer free, he has been melanoma free for six years.

Since that day,  cancer has taken the lives of  several friends and family members-  most recently, my grandmother,  who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.

Many of you have asked where I am and what I’ve been doing since I left my job as the evening anchor in Providence.  We initially traveled around the country, but when we got to Georgia, where my parents live, they had some unexpected news for us.  My dad–the full of energy, West Point graduate, Air Force General–has cancer.  Specifically, stage 4 throat cancer. He has a tumor at the base of his tongue and the cancer has spread to his lymph nodes. He has had four chemo treatments so far and, I think, 20 radiation treatments.  Honestly, I’ve lost count.  This round of chemo is over and now he must continue going to radiation TWICE a day, five days a week, for three more weeks.  Doctors will then see about removing the –hopefully dead– nodes and will check to see if surgery to remove the tumor is an option.  My dad also has Leukemia (CLL) & Diabetes, which makes all these treatments a little more complicated.


radiation for cancer patient


I am the youngest in the family and am used to everyone looking after me, regardless of whether I need it: older siblings to protect me, parents to be over-protective. Being here, as my dad battles cancer,  has forced me to see myself in a new light…that of caretaker. For the first time in my life, I feel like I can really be of help to my parents.  I don’t have a job that I am tied to, yet if the right opportunity presents itself I can take it. This is the first time in my adult life I’ve ever spent any considerable amount of time with my parents, and the most time they’ve ever gotten to spend with my 20 month old daughter.  She is such a welcome distraction, not only to my dad, but to my mom, who is taking my dad’s diagnosis especially hard.


grandfather and granddaughter

Dad & Paige amusing each other


grandfather & baby

Fun at the pool!

Click for a cureI don’t know what the future holds for my dad.  We can only live one day at a time and be hopeful for many more great years together. I know it will get worse before it gets better, but I am so grateful for this time we have together.  So many families have been touched by cancer, including many of you reading this article.  My hope and prayer is that we can someday find a cure.  I am not asking you to donate any money; I know times are tough and everyone has charities that are important to them.  I would, however, be so grateful if you could find the 15 seconds it takes to “like” a company on Facebook. Overhead Door Garage Headquarters has generously offered to donate $1  to the Tomorrow Fund for each facebook “like” Overhead Door gets from the start of this campaign.  My hope is that we can help “close the door” on cancer by sending  thousands of  “likes” their way and, in turn, thousands of dollars to the Tomorrow Fund to help find a cure for this horrible disease.  So, please, spread the word, re-post, and take thirty seconds to check out Overhead Door Garage Headquarters and “like” their page.  When the campaign is over, we will be doing a check presentation.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

baby & grandfather

How Vitamins Make Me a Better Me

Nature Made Vitamins

I grew up taking Nature Made vitamins. They were just part of my life. My dad always said, “Breakfast is the most important meal of thevitamin dispenser day,” and right next to that hearty breakfast was this vitamin dispenser that my parents still use.  At some point, in my adult life, I grew tired of taking all those pills and I just stopped doing it.  Then I had a baby and everything changed.  It seemed no matter what I ate, how much I slept, or how many walks I went on with the baby to “get some fresh air,” I remained exhausted beyond belief.

I finally went to the doctor and had a thorough exam, including blood tests.  He told me I was severely deficient in Vitamin D and suggested I take a supplement, along with a multivitamin.  He said it would take a few weeks to notice some results.  I could easily handle taking two pills a day, especially if they made me feel like myself again.  The energetic, happy, always on-the-go woman my friends knew me to be, and  my daughter deserved me to be.  Watch this short video to find out what happened after my second week of taking the vitamins.

Something I hear often from people is that they are just so overwhelmed when they walk down the vitamin aisle at the store; there are so many brands and so many different options!  Nature Made has a really cool feature on its website that helps you figure out exactly what you need.  It’s called a “vitamin assessment” and, after answering some questions, Nature Made recommends a customized vitamin plan that’s right for you, based on your lifestyle.  The company also has a terrific rewards program that gives you high value coupons worth up to $7 off Nature Made products, exercise DVDs and other fun things.  As an aside, I noticed the company recently came out with some new products and I’m eager to try the Skin Beauty & Wellness pack. I’ve never tried what, for lack of a better term, I’ll call a “vanity pack,” but the clock is ticking and I’ll take all the help I can get! 😉    Have you tried any products like this?  How do vitamins make a better YOU?

***Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Nature Made and received promotional items to thank me for taking the time to participate. Please vote for my entry at between 9/20/11 and noon (PT) 9/26/11.***

When a Loved One Suffers from Dementia

grandma in nursing home


It goes without saying I have an immense amount of guilt for living so far away from my family. I’m in New York.  Most of them are in Arizona.  I miss a lot. I obviously can’t make all the birthday parties, family BBQs and most of all I am missing spending quality time with my Grandma. I grew up spending a lot of time at Grandma’s house. Unlike most kids who dreaded going to Grandma’s … I looked forward to it. I was my Grandma’s only grandchild,  meaning… I was spoiled. Not just spoiled with toys, my own room at her house,  but lots and lots of love. I would spend hours playing with my paper dolls, watching classic movies like White Christmas or Easter Parade or just snuggling on the couch with my Grandma. She always made me a special omelet in the morning. Bottom line, I had it made with Grandma.

As I grew up, there was less spending the weekend with Grandma but we had dinner at least once a week together. While at college, I would drop my laundry off and she would do it for me. When I moved out of Arizona, I would still talk to her on the phone almost daily. Even if it was a short conversation, it was always nice to hear her voice. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years, Grandma has gotten older and she was diagnosed with dementia. She is now living in a nursing home and my phone calls now consist of my Mom putting the phone to her ear and pretty much telling my Grandma what to say. I know when my Mom tells my Grandma to tell me she loves me, my Grandma means it. But it is hard not to be able to carry on a conversation with her. While at home at Christmas, I tried to spend as much time visiting her as possible. One day, I wheeled her wheelchair out by the Christmas tree and we were sitting and chatting. It wasn’t until my Grandma started talking about Katrina that I realized she didn’t know who I was. I tried telling her I was Katrina to only have her tell me… No, you aren’t. Or that I didn’t look like Katrina. But still the sassy spitfire who is my Grandma wasn’t holding back on the kisses! For being a stranger to her, she was pretty affectionate! I told my Mom later that I believed Grandma was giving kisses to strangers! Grandma has days when she doesn’t know who my Mom is or days when she is flat out mean to people, it comes with the disease. But we know deep down, my lovable Grandma is in there. Not a day goes by I don’t think about her or wish I could see her. My Grandma is lucky to have excellent care, a wonderful daughter (my Mom) who visits her daily, sometimes twice a day and lots of love all around. Not many people get to have such a great relationship with their Grandma like I do… I just hope my future kids will have the same thing with my Mom. But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…

Does your parent or grandparent have dementia?  How has that changed the family dynamic or your experiences with them?


Somalia: What Starving Really Looks Like

At 5:50 this morning my eight-year-old daughter was standing at the side of my bed, whining to me that she was “starving”.  I stumbled downstairs with her,  half awake, thinking to myself that she would not do well in Somalia.  After fixing her a bowl of oatmeal, I opened my laptop on the counter, and still feeling frustrated with her dramatics, said,  “This is what starving really looks like.”  As she ate her breakfast, we watched the news video of Somalian refugees fleeing drought and famine to find food in neighboring Kenyan and Ethiopian refugee camps.  Some of the children in the video had been walking barefoot for weeks.  She stared at my face intently as I started to cry, and then looked back to the screen at the parade of children literally starving to death.  Some had not made it.  Like so many “mommy moves,” I am not sure if it had been the right thing to do.  It was a bit drastic perhaps, but these days I guiltily scrape scraps of food from our dinner plates into the trash as I wonder how to help my kids understand.  My daughter is an active, and slim child who could eat all day.  She probably did wake up with her stomach growling, but in our home with a brimming pantry, and full refrigerator, she has no concept of what it truly means to be hungry.  To watch the images of suffering gives me a sense of helplessness, but organizations like World Food Program, UNICEF, Save The Children and SaveOne,  get money donated as directly as possible to those in need.   By donating to them, I feel I’ve at least done something other than sitting by and idly watching this tragedy unfold.

Do any of you know of other ways to help?  What are ways that we as parents can help our children understand what is going on in the world and how lucky we are to live in this country?


Kids and Food Allergies: A Life-Changing Diagnosis

My daughter and son both have friends they’ve met through school with food allergies.  Some kids are allergic to one food, but others are allergic to many.  Obviously, the more the kids are allergic to the harder to accommodate their food needs.  The eight foods that account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions in the United States are: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.  When kids are allergic to milk, usually they can drink soy, but if they are allergic to both it  gets even trickier.  You need to find things like Rice Milk or Coconut Milk as substitutes.  The substituting of foods can become pricey and hard to find.  Most kids with allergies need to find what they can eat and of that what they like to eat.

It can even get harder when parents need to take kids out to eat.  My daughter’s friend’s parents usually look online for ingredients to restaurant menus (which have become a little more accessible in recent years), or they call and ask the restaurant.  Most try to be accommodating, but there can’t always be assurances that things are safe.  Some items obviously come prepackaged from plants that also make food with allergens, so traces can get into the foods.  A trace can be harmful to kids with severe allergies and very dangerous.  The most common symptoms of a food-allergy reaction is hives. Here are other symptoms people can have as well:

  • tingling in the mouth
  • swelling of the tongue and throat
  • difficulty breathing
  • stomach cramps
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • eczema

Parents need to be vigilant though, because a severe allergy is different to an intolerance; it is not just a bit of a rash or a bit of an itch, it is actually life-threatening (anaphylaxis).  I’ve seen my friends’ kids have reactions before, and it is very scary to witness.  My friends have also told me many stories of rushing their kids to the emergency room, and some from just a trace of peanut butter on a straw.  It’s scary to think how a trace can set off such a huge reaction, but it can!

Once parents figure out what their kids are allergic to, they can find things for the kids to eat to keep them healthy and thriving.  There is always the threat and worry parents have to live with daily.  Kids are not home all day and protected, they need to go to school and other events outside the home.  Kids need to do their best to learn how to protect themselves from coming in contact with allergens.  This is something  kids with allergies must learn from their parents.  Obviously, a younger child will have more difficulties with this, as they are curious about foods and have more of an “I want to try” type attitude about the world around them.  Schools in recent years have been more accommodating for kids with allergies (setting up special eating areas for peanut eaters like my daughter’s school has, and selling better types of food), but it’s still difficult to keep the child 100% safe from coming in contact with different types of foods.  I remember watching Trace Adkins, a Country Singer, on Celebrity Apprentice.  He was raising money for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network because his 6-year-old daughter, Brianna, suffers from life-threatening reactions to peanuts, milk and eggs.  I remember him saying that his wife met his daughter every single day at lunch time because of the worry of a reaction occurring.

What do children with food allergies do if they come in contact with foods they are allergic to?  Well, if they have a reaction, usually doctors prescribe an antihistamine, such as Benadryl®; however, if there is a severe reaction, then epinephrine may need to be used (also called an EpiPen®).  Parents work with doctors to know what is best for each child and how severe the allergy usually is for that specific child.  Most parents I know with kids that have food allergies carry medications with them all the time, and they also have a set stored with the school nurse.  Reactions can happen quickly or slowly, but you always want to be ready just in case.

Kids with food allergies can live a normal and full life, but just like any child with special circumstances they need to know what to do to keep themselves healthy.  It may be more difficult for a child to participate in certain events with other kids, but in most cases parents can help with accommodating their child to keep them involved.  Getting a diagnosis of a food allergy (for kids and adults alike) is a life-altering experience.  Your life is changed on a daily basis, because you do need food to survive.  Your way of life, where you shop, what you cook, where you eat, what things you participate in, what trips you take, may all have to be changed in some way, but with making these changes life can still be fulfilling.

Parents and kids need to stay educated, aware, and involved in protecting themselves from allergens.  There is no cure as of now, and the best way to avoid a reaction is to avoid the allergen.  Hopefully everyone (food allergy affected or not), can come to together in awareness to help protect people that are dealing with food allergy reactions and make life a little easier and safer for them!  There are many affected with this, as more than 12 million Americans have food allergies.  This means that it’s 1 in 25, or 4% of the population.  More statistics are listed at this site.

Lastly, here again is the “Welcome to Holland” article I posted in my Special Needs post.  My friend, who has daughters with food allergies, said she could really relate to the Holland article as well.  It is definitely appropriate for people in many circumstances.

* Are you or your children affected by food allergies?  How has the diagnosis changed your everyday life?


Kristin Wheeler

Do You Have the Post-Event Blues?

If you compete in sports, I am sure you can totally relate to the feeling of complete accomplishment and exhilaration that you experience when taking part and finishing a sporting activity.
As some of you may know, back in May of this past year I completed my FIRST MARATHON!    I had promised to report back once I had completed the race to tell all of you how I did.     I remember the unbelievable feeling I had crossing that finish line and getting my medal.   I was trying to hold back all the tears when hugging my loved ones who were there to be a part of the special day.  It was a day like no other, and one that I will cherish and remember for the rest of my life.  However, I woke up the next morning to find myself feeling very down, sad, and dare I  say, even depressed.  I should have been ecstatic, but instead I was left feeling empty inside…and more than a little sore.
How is it that I was sad and ready to cry even though the goal that I had been working so hard for was finally accomplished?!  I was mad and upset with myself for how I was feeling.  I could not understand it, and, unfortunately, that made it all the more harder on me.  I thought I would feel better in a day or two, but I was mistaken.  Fact is, I was still feeling down after a full week had passed and I was starting to become concerned.   I did what any person would do and turned on the ole’ computer and started to GOOGLE my heart out!   After some research, I realized that what I had been feeling was in fact, normal.   I was experiencing the post-event blues, my friends.
Post –event blues?  What is that? This type of sadness or depression can be commonly found in runners, but can also be found in musicians or people planning  a big event such as a wedding or a reunion, etc.  When anyone spends large periods of time either mentally or physically preparing and training for an event such as a marathon and then, in what feels like a second, it is over, it can be hard to deal with– on an emotional level.   It is similar to the letdown many of us experience the day after Christmas or after a huge event or fundraiser for which you have been working and planning.  It was such a relief to know the feelings I was experiencing were normal and natural.  So, now, the question became, what do I do to feel better?  Can I feel better? You certainly can fight those negative and depressive feelings, and here are some tips that can help.\
1.         Rest and RelaxTake some time off and just rest your mind and body.   I trained for over 18 weeks for the marathon, and I  needed at least a week or two off to rest and help my body heal.   My body had just gone though a huge ordeal, and it needed some time to recoup and rest in order to be back in working shape.   If you have just planned a huge event and you are suffering from the letdown of the day being over then  you can take this opportunity to catch up with friends or go out to that movie you have been planning to see.   Do something for YOU!  You accomplished something extraordinary and special to you, and you need to enjoy and revel in it.
2.         Get back into a routine After the mini-vacation, you need to get back into a daily or even weekly routine.  It is important to start slow and take your time.  Your body and mind are going through a huge emotional and physical roller-coaster, and it takes a lot of drive and willpower to get back into the grind.  It is not going to happen overnight. You need to get yourself back to being energized and focused on the next event in your future.  Set a pace that you are comfortable with and proceed from there.
3.         Plan New Events And Set New Goals for Yourself This one was very important and necessary for me to get out of my depression.  A huge part of why I was feeling so depressed was the fact that I had accomplished this huge dream of mine, and I no longer had that to look forward to.  It really hit me harder than expected. I needed to set a new goal,  and once I did, I found my spirit and enthusiasm returning as quickly as it had disappeared.  I started to set my sights on another full marathon for the end of October. Focusing on setting a new goal for my finish time and starting a new training schedule felt good…and I was quickly becoming myself again.

If you have experienced anything similar to this, or if you have any remedies for helping to fight the depression, please share.


Sometimes Losing is Good

One of the inevitable outcomes of a crappy few years is the slow and steady erosion of health and fitness.  While some people run off to the gym to work through stress, there are those of us who run for the wine glass and the remote.  I can’t say exactly when I let myself go, but gone I have!  It wasn’t that long ago that I regularly attended yoga classes and watched what I ate.  It’s kind of scary to think of how quickly I was able to pack it on and loosen it up.  Yuck.  I think what happened with me is a confluence of events initially launched by the passive act of turning forty.  Up until then I had the ‘thoroughbred’ of metabolisms.  I could have eaten a horse, actually, and maintained my svelte figure.   It was enviable and remarkable really, and as a result, I appeared to be one of those skinny girls we all secretly hate.  I became indulgent and lazy.  Then along comes the big 4-0, a few babies birthed on either side of it, and I’m not so smug anymore; more like snug.

I’m going to admit here to having tried a few radical measures to drop the ‘offending fifteen’ as I’ve come to address them.  First, there was the ambitious attempt at preparing for a sprint triathlon.  I should have known when I had anxiety training in the lap pool, that open water would turn out to be the deal breaker.  Next was ‘40 days of Yoga’ which was going gangbusters until my husband took a three-week business trip in the middle of it, leaving me without early morning child coverage.  Then somewhere along the line I joined Gold’s Gym with my pals, but unfortunately discovered that I don’t like to work out in a fishbowl.  The most successful effort was also the most radical: Beyonce’s Lemonade Diet.  She didn’t invent it, but she glamorized it when she lost 20 pounds doing it before filming “Dreamgirls”. Seriously, though, who doesn’t want to look like Beyonce?  It was ultimately a colon cleanse, and it works great, yet it’s not for the undisciplined.  I lost the weight on it, but as I faced those tough few years (see my previous posts “Surviving Unemployment” and “When Someone You Love Dies”) they steadily and stealthily crept back.   Little *bleep*s.

Enter: Medi-Weightloss!  I’d heard about it from my OBGYN when a few years ago he sauntered in to examine me 60 pounds shy of when I’d seen him the year before.  I was duly impressed, but skeptical he’d keep it off.  So when he came in at my annual exam the following year looking lean and fabulous, I sat up and took notice.  I asked him all about this program thinking maybe my husband or I might need it one day.  He said it was doctor run and really worked.  I stored that information away, and never forgot it.

Fast forward two years and I’m staring down bathing suit season with my love-handled hips and muffin top belly mocking me.  It’s time for the big guns to be brandished, so off I go to the local Medi-Weightloss Clinic in Warwick, RI under the auspices of researching a story for this blog.  After filling out my paperwork, an adorable Medical Assistant named Zoey called my name and showed me to a room.  For the next hour she ran through various tests.  First she weighed me – obviously – then she measured my height.  This data was then put into a special electronic device that I stood on which spat out a diagnostic (Tanita Slip) having to do with body fat percentages.  She told me by reading it I would see that I fell within the range of fine, or, not overweight.  I told her I knew I was not obese, but that my goal was 15-18 pounds of weight loss.   Next, I had an EKG, blood drawn, my blood pressure checked, and my pulse listened to, all while chatting easily with this adorable woman.  She also measured my waist so we could see my progress going forward.  Zoey hugged me goodbye since she felt we had connected (I don’t think it’s policy), and said the doctor would be in to see me next.  In came Dr. Gaffney, also delightful, who listened to my heart and lungs, checked my pulse on my legs and then my thyroid, etc.  I have to say, the exam was thorough.  Then she went over the program with the packet Zoey had given me.  She explained that I would come weekly for an exam and a shot of vitamins, and one time between for an additional shot.   She produced a zippered tote bag with a water bottle (that I love now), my supplements, a food journal, and Keto Sticks.  We talked about the sample menu in the pamphlet and how I was going to eat only protein that first week in the amount of 500 calories a day, along with tons of water.  That initial visit was the pricey one: $268 less the $25 coupon from the site, but it includes a full physical and blood panel.  Subsequent weekly visits are $70.  I went off then to shop for the deli meats, shrimp, chicken breasts, etc. I would be eating, as well as Smart Water that I needed to drink once daily.

The week went well.  I returned for my shot midweek, and was in and out in ten minutes.  When I checked my ketones on day four, I was in fact “in ketosis”, which is when our bodies are using fat for energy.  Woo hoo!  My first weekly visit involved a weigh in that showed changes in a few areas: According to the Tanita Slip (analysis of body composition) I’d lost five pounds of fat, my body fat % was lower as was my BMI (Body Mass Index).  All good.  I saw Dr. Gaffney again and she showed me the new diet for week two which includes vegetables.  Never has a cucumber tasted so good!  The plan was to keep to the 500 calories, but now I get 2 helpings of veggies and a healthy fat each day such as 12 nuts or ½ an avocado.  Yum!  One of the best outcomes from this experience is that I have developed a greater appreciation for savoring flavors – you have to when you eat less often and less variety.  Back to my exam, the doctor then reviewed my food journal, and we discussed integrating exercise going forward.  Oh, and there is no alcohol in the first month of the program, but caffeine is allowed.  Did I mention that they called me mid-week each week?  I ended up having questions that they promptly answered for me.

I have had my second weekly visit, and it went much like the first.  I was down another 4 pounds (more than ½ way there!) and all the other numbers on the Tanita Slip were lower, too.  I feel great.  I now have control of my weight, and the process of getting it where I want it.  I would wholeheartedly recommend this program to anyone, but particularly to someone quite heavy.  I think the clinics do a great job making sure their patients stay healthy and safe through the process, and that’s critical. Unfortunately, even as a growing franchise, there are a mere 80 locations across 22 states right now, so not everyone has one nearby.  Six more are opening soon, and I hope that trend continues, because this country needs a solution.  Did you know “that two-thirds, more than 190 million Americans are overweight or obese?  Obesity-related diseases are a $147 billion dollar medical burden every year, and childhood obesity has tripled in the last thirty years.” Shocking, isn’t it?  (Read more at: Battling Obesity in America)

Although I’m about halfway to my “goal weight”, I know I can get there.  It’s going to take about a month in my case.  That’s pretty quick if you ask me, considering how long it took to put it on.  In total, I spent $466 on the program, which I think is money well spent – especially since I didn’t have to buy new warm weather clothes to hide under.  Also, if you were due for a physical anyway this would be a great way to get more bang for your buck. This turned out to be a wonderful experience, and I hope more people try it.  Here’s the website if you or anyone you know wishes to shed some pounds.

The happy outcome for me is that I learned good eating habits, and I no longer fear the beach, my bathing suit, or a tank top.  I’m free to enjoy the glorious Rhode Island summer instead of agonizing over how to dress for it. What a relief!  Who knows, maybe I’ll take up surfing…


Please share a weight loss success story you have.  Let’s encourage each other to be “losers” together!





How Special Needs Children Change Your Life

I decided to travel down to my hometown in Virginia (just outside of DC) to see the birth of my sister’s first child.  After having two kids myself, and absolutely loving the days I gave birth to them, I wanted to share in this miracle with my sister (without having to endure any pain myself this time).  She said I could be in the room with her, and I was so excited to help her and see her first child be born.  I think if I could have another occupation in life, it might be to be a labor and delivery nurse.  I know it wouldn’t all be roses, but being able to witness so many miracles might be worth the hard times.

It was early in the morning when we went to the hospital.  My sister got hooked up to all the monitors and was getting ready for the big event.  I had both my kids and our parents in the room as well.  They would have to leave after the labor progressed to the pushing stage.  Unfortunately, it never did get to that stage.  My sister’s baby’s heart rate was dropping, and they needed to perform an emergency c-section.  Obviously, I was not allowed to be in the room.  I waited with my kids until we saw sweet little Evelyn get whisked away to the NICU.  I had just enough time to get one quick picture.  She was a little blue after the birth, and the doctors said she needed some attention.  Then, the wait began………

(Evelyn in the NICU)

I felt so sorry for my sister.  Evelyn was being looked at for about four hours before they even came to see her in recovery.  From previous experience, I know the feeling of giving birth and wanting to hold on to your little one and stare into his or her eyes.  My sister was feeling sad, worried, and detached from everything.  I wish the doctors had been more attentive to my sister’s needs and given her some reassurance and answers quicker.

Finally, after the doctors came in, she got a few answers.  First, her daughter was breathing well and she could see her soon.  Next, she has three holes in her heart, a straight line across her palms, signs of low muscle tone, and a protruding tongue.  Finally, they said, “We think your child has Down Syndrome.  We will know in a few days after the blood tests come back.” Silence, shock, tears………  My sister was 29, no signs or risks of having a child with Down Syndrome.  It was quite shocking for everyone.

There are two things I remember clearly after that.  First, it took my sister all of a minute to seem at peace with everything.  She was so strong, and just said, “This is my daughter, I love her, she needs me, and we will do everything we can to make her as healthy as possible.”  Since then, my niece has undergone heart procedures and is doing well.  She is 3-years old now.  Secondly, I remember running out to Borders to try and find a book for my sister about Down Syndrome, and I found one with stories that mothers wrote.  It was titled Gifts.  One particular story struck us and as we read it aloud in the hospital room, and to everyone it seemed to make a difficult situation a bit better.  The funny thing about that story is now my sister is very close friends with the mother who wrote it.

Evelyn is my niece.  She is a smart, fearless, sweet older sister, who just happens to have Down Syndrome.  She is a part of our family, and is just like the rest of us.  She will have hopes and dreams when she gets older, and she will live life to its fullest.  Of course,  raising a child with special needs can be tough and there are many challenges and health risks she will have to overcome and endure throughout her life, but she has just as much hope and possibility as anyone else. She is currently thriving and progressing well and has been fortunate enough to participate in wonderful early intervention programs in the DC area.  She attends preschool 5 days a week, knows her ABCs, counts to 10, knows all her colors, sings, dances, loves tee ball, swimming and being a big sister.  We are truly blessed to have Evelyn in our lives, and I am truly proud of my sister for being a strong and proactive mother.  Evelyn is where she is today thanks to my sister and the care she gives her.

(Evelyn with all her cousins)                      (Evelyn – Age 3, with cousin, Kendal)

So remember, even if things seem shocking and scary when you are not expecting certain news in your life, it might turn out to be a blessing and a gift.  The day Evelyn was born, the dream my sister had of her future and family was gone forever, but a new vision and dream began, one that included patience, understanding, sympathy, hope and awareness of a world we would never have known. The world of disability, one that changes your life forever and makes you truly a better person.  The next time you come across a person who may have Down Syndrome or any disability, remember, they too are worthy of your greeting, your smile, and your friendship.  It is probably best described in the article, “Welcome to Holland,” which is a must read if you have not read it already.

(My sister’s family)

Do you have family members with special needs? How was it when you first found out that they needed extra help?

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Kristin Wheeler