Dear Santa, Restore my Mind, Body & Soul

Every year I start posting “Dear Santa” letters to my website, the Unwritten Letters Project. I’m going to add the photo widget to the sidebar of the site tonight and start soliciting the letters. If you have something you’d like to ask Santa for this year, I really recommend writing a letter. I challenge any reader to try it and tell me how it feels afterward. Did writing it down help you at all? I really am curious. Has almost 4 years managing this site been worth it? Do people really feel help, hope and healing from this process? Please comment and let me know if you write a letter or have written a letter, and how did it make you feel? Thanks everyone. 🙂

Also, I am in the midsts of some medical issues currently. I go in for a test Friday to see if I need kidney surgery, so prayers would be nice. And so:

Dear Santa,

This year I would like my health to be restored for Christmas. Thank you.

Yours,

Alex

Dear Santa 2012

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Halloween Brings Out the Devil in Me!

Left: Me as a devil for Halloween 2011
Right: Me as a devil for Halloween 2012

So, I thought I should post this picture to give you all an update on where I am today. I wore the same dress today that I wore for last year’s Halloween, to see how far I’ve come. I can definitely see the difference, and I can honestly say I’m pretty proud of how much I’ve accomplished this year so far. 🙂 I’m now working for AmeriCorps at a Public Health Department in Illinois, and I absolutely LOVE my job. I don’t have time for a full update now, but Happy Halloween, everyone! Be safe & healthy.

Alex Buys A Bathing Suit Edition

Hello again.

It’s been a month since my 3-Month Transformation post, so I guess I’m due for an update. Last week my family and I went to Gulf Shores, Alabama for 5 days. We usually take a yearly trip to the Gulf, and I always look forward to it, but this year was different from the last 12 years… I bought a bathing suit. Most of you probably cannot fathom or understand why buying a bathing suit is a big deal, but I haven’t worn one since I was 12 years old, so I am pretty proud of myself. I by no means have a bathing suit body that is desirable, haha, but this is a sign that I am becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin. Another milestone, and my mom can attest to this, is that I started wearing sleeveless shirts while on vacation, too. I actually came home with a tan…weird. I have such a long road ahead of me in reaching my goals, but it’s these little milestones that are so exciting. Most of my friends can walk around in a bathing suit or tank top without fear or skepticism, and I’ve always envied them and admired their confidence. Hopefully one day soon, that will be me. 🙂 Until then, it’s pool time! Enjoy summer.

Cheers.

Noticeables

Contrary to popular belief, I am not in high school anymore. In the past few days, well really ever since I moved to this small town, I’ve been mistaken for a high schooler more times than I would care to admit. I think the extra weight makes me look younger, so people naturally clump me in the 16-18 age group and assume I’m one of those hipster teenie-boppers strolling down Mainstreet. False. I am a bona-fide woman with an education, fools! I was buying a case of beer the other night and received some pretty confusing stares the entire time. I’m investing in a shirt that says, “I’m over 21, promise.” While I’m on the topic of investing in shirts, I think I’ll find one that says, “creepers step off” or “if you aint got teeth, I aint got time.” Gah. I love this town, but sometimes I miss the big city.

Also, and I know this has nothing to do with fitness, bullying or PCOS, but why do people in small towns INSIST on displaying ceramic animals of every nature in their front yards?!? I do not understand this trend and quite frankly, it freaks me out a little. I’ve seen fake turtles, deer, bunnies, ducks, and even dogs…I mean, come on. You live on a farm/in the country…why do we need to display fake, creepy looking animals in the yard when the real things are all around us? Mini-rant over.

In regards to my fitness goals and whatnot, I’m still very much on track. I’ve strayed a little recently with the nutrition….trying to find some solid motivation and strength in that department. Maybe someone has advice in that area? I have all the motivation in the world to work out and have been on this two-a-days kick recently since I’m going to the beach in less than two weeks. There have been too many Birthdays in April/May, so really, people just need to stop having birthdays and tempting me with yummy treats. Geez everyone, do you really need to be a year older??

It’s graduation time in this small town, and a lot of really important people in my life will be leaving me soon. My tactic with goodbyes has always been to act like it’s not goodbye, even if I know it’s forever. My sister Maggie said, “Goodbyes are only sad if you know you will not say hello again.” So, if I convince myself that there will always be a hello, I will never have to be sad, right?? 🙂 Well, I have to finish up working at the gym, so I’ll catch you all later!

Cheers!

My 3-Month Transformation

This picture was taken October 31st, 2011

This picture was taken April 2012, approx. 3 months after lifestyle change!

Hello again!! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written, but that does not mean that I’ve been slacking on the PCOS research or implementation of my new lifestyle. It’s been approximately 3 months since I began the PCOS-related diet restrictions, medication regularity and workout routine, and I am SO proud to say that I’ve shed just about 30 pounds! It hasn’t been easy. If it is, then it’s not safe, so if you feel like it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do in your life, then you’re doing it right!So far, other than the mere satisfaction of seeing results and knowing this is the outcome of severely hard work, I’ve had some amazing things come out of all of this and only THREE months in! Here’s a checklist of why I’m so happy I made this decision and why I will continue to push forward.

1. Confidence. After being bullied your whole life, your confidence level severely diminishes. Now that I have more energy and know that I am doing everything I can to make me healthy, I have so much more confidence in everything I do on a daily basis. Whether it’s walking into the grocery store in my spandex workout pants (hehe) or talking to someone who I thought would never give me the time of day, confidence is important to have regardless of how you find your way there. 🙂

2. My gym is my 2nd family. I will preach until the day I die that I am a city girl at heart and belong in Los Angeles or New York, but I can talk until I’m blue in the face about the benefits of a small town. The first day I entered 159 Fitness I was hooked on the hospitality and comfortability I immediately felt. A small-town gym offers more personal recognition, one-on-one time with trainers and in-depth solutions to any personal health issues I’m struggling with. Although they kick my ass and make me wish I could just have an ice cream, they make showing up every day more of a blessing than a chore. AND, some of the best people I’ve ever been privileged to know and call friends, I met at this small-town gym. 🙂

3. THEY FIT! This might be one of those no-brainers of getting fit and losing weight, but for someone who’s tried her whole life to lose weight without results, it’s a bigger deal. My mom bought me a pair of jeans TWO years ago that got pushed to the back of my closet because I swore I would never get in them. Turns out, I was wrong. I finally got into them! My mom was just psychic, as always, and knew I’d kick my own ass one day.

4. Perspective. It bothers me that there will be people who say, “30 pounds, no big deal,” or “she doesn’t look that different in those two pictures.” Well, perspective is important. While helping the instructor pick up after class today, I was holding about 26 pounds-worth of free weights in my arms. I turned to her and said, “This is less than what I’ve lost, and it’s really heavy…” We both just smiled really big. You really don’t know how much you’re carrying around until it’s gone. And perspective for onlookers is so important. You might think that “yeah, she has a lot more to lose” but if you see through my perspective, this is a big deal and instead of being ignorant or arrogant, instead, be supportive so that long way I still have won’t be lonely.

5. Inspiration. My mom thinks it’s weird that I can get inspiration or motivation from watching TV shows like “America’s Next Top Model”, haha, but I’m weird like that. However, if you’ve ever gone to the gym, you know the feeling of being inspired by other people at the gym. I participate in classes with 70+ year-old men and women who work just as hard as I do, I sweat just as hard as the girl next to me whose half my size and even though you all might have different health issues, ages, injuries or reasons for joining the gym, there’s a commonality among all of you, and it’s important to respect that and gain inspiration from those who are showing up to sweat with you. 🙂 I never want to let them down, not show up for a class, because what if I’m an inspiration to them, too?

Ok, I could go on and on, like how much my family is awesome for supporting me and how much I love actually becoming an employee of the gym, etc. etc., but I’m sure most of you stopped reading at check point #2 because I talk too much. But anyway, the update is that I’m having fun working hard, and I plan on losing at least 30 pounds more in the next 3 months. 😀

Cheers!

One Last Explanation. Acting? Really?

I’ve explained PCOS, the reasons why I’m an activist for bullying prevention, so the only thing left to explain is why I’m crazily passionate about the hardest industry to break into, film. Not only is this a hard industry for the average women to get into, but having difficulties with weightloss and confidence has made this whole journey even harder. But somehow I still yearn to be involved in this industry. I lived in L.A. for a few months in 2010, ran out of money and came home to save for try #2, which will hopefully happen in August 2012. I was told to have a backup, so I went to college, got a degree and work to make money where I can, but for any of you who have a passion, you know that it’s really all you can think about when given a free moment. Performing is the only thing that makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing, if that makes sense. Yeah, I am good at other jobs, I really like working in

I played Mrs. VanHuysen's cook in "The Matchmaker" 2010

Communications, but it’s not what makes me happy. A lot of people knock down passion and say, “do what you can make money doing,” but I want life to be about so much more than that. I don’t think it’s too selfish to ask to be happy. One of my very first friends in high school, Maggie, always told me that “if you can think of one, just one, other thing you’d be more happy doing, then you’re not suppose to be doing it.” So, don’t try to convince me to give up my “dreams” because as long I can still dream, I will always work on getting there. I always tell people that performing/entertainment is in my bones, so I live with my dreams everyday, and eventually I’ll find a way to live inside them instead of chasing them.

Producer of "Restaurant: Impossible" Mark Summers and I, 2010

Since getting back from L.A., I’ve done a few projects in St. Louis, even working on a show for the Food Network called “Restaurant Impossible.” That was a pretty amazing couple of days. Now that I’ve moved into the country, it’s harder to incorporate this into my life. My mom came up with a brilliant idea a few weeks ago though. We live in a really small town where even the high school can’t afford a theater department, so the theater/performing culture and opportunities are pretty much nonexistent. Therefor, we’re going to combine our experiences to create a theater production company here in town that incorportes all ages, so the schools and community members can be involved. I had a theater scholarship in college for acting and directing, I was a member of the improv team, and I did a few productions with the community theater company as well, so this should be pretty fun. And I don’t need Hollywood/New York to be happy in performing. Who knows, maybe having a small community theater company will make me happy. I have a feeling I will yearn for something larger, though, so chances are I’ll be headed to a bigger city within a year. I’ll keep you all updated, of course.

Anyway, even though my “size” isn’t widely accepted in the entertainment industry, that doesn’t mean I should ever give up. I’m working on living with PCOS, I work out every day, and maybe one day I will be “average.” Until then, hopefully everyone can just accept ME. Thanks for reading!

Vitamins, Vitamins, Vitamins

Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. Any advice I give is strictly based on opinion or personal experience.

This post will be about more than just vitamins, promise. 🙂 The weather in the Midwest decided to suck today, so writing is always a good indoor option. I’m starting “The Hunger Games” after this post. Back to vitamins.

I’ve read some articles online about the importance of adding various vitamins on a daily basis for women with PCOS. Yesterday I started taking B12, coQ10 and Folic Acid. I also had two Vitamin waters. Something I was always scared of was vitamin overdoses, mostly because I’m paranoid about what goes into my system, but also because the symptoms of vitamin overdose are not fun (look it up). The good thing about B vitamins are that they’re water-soluble, so no worries there. If you do decide to add various vitamins or a multivitamin, just make sure and do your research on the effects of each and what they do for the body. We’ve all been taking vitamins since our Flintstone vitamin age, but now that I’m working on actually balancing everything so that I can lose weight, more research and monitoring is necessary. It sucks that so much work has to be put in just to lose half of what someone without PCOS can lose, but giving up isn’t really an option. So, if you’ve added vitamins and had success or have any advice on which vitamins or multivitamin to use, please share!

Today is also day 3 of my high protein, low starch lifestyle change. (I hate the word ‘diet’). It actually works out pretty well. I have a lot of will power when it comes to food, so really it all comes down to having the proper food in the house and not allowing for temptations. My family and I need to go grocery shopping really bad, haha, but for now, I’ve made it work. The ONLY fast food restaurant in my town is Subway, which is such a blessing. I highly recommend the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki SALAD with the parfait. And not having burger joints in town is great, not that I ever eat burgers (my least favorite food), but french fries are always tempting, unfortunately. I do indulge in Taco Bell occasionally because it’s my weakness, but at least it’s not french fries…right?

As for my workout routine? I started a heavy workout regimen during the last week of January. I’ve only missed 3 days since then of working out and that was my Birthday weekend. 🙂 I’m loving it and the people at our little gym in town, so that’s a great motivator.

Alas, I said this wouldn’t be a “this is what I ate” and “this is how many calories I lost” blog, so I’ll stop there. Let me know if you have any questions, advice or words of encouragement! All much appreciated. 🙂 Thanks for reading.