Author Archives: JenFlem

About JenFlem

I am a book lover, a travel freak and a self proclaimed nerd.

My One Year Fitness Journey

Standard
My One Year Fitness Journey

Today marks the one year anniversary of my fitness journey.  On December 14th last year, I walked into my office, sat down at my desk, and decided to make a change.  I cannot tell you what clicked that day.  I cannot tell you why the switch flipped.  I just knew I could not go on ignoring my body and health.  Let me give you a little background…

Back Story

At the age of 10 I went from eating like a bird to REALLY enjoying food.  Unfortunately, the weight came along with it.  I can remember at the age of 12, my grandmother offering to pay me a dollar for every pound I lost.  By the age of 13 I was around 200 pounds.  During my 9th grade year, I decided I was going to lose weight because I was not moving to high school as a fat chick.  I successfully lost about 50 pounds by eating one candy bar a day and exercising 2-3 hours every night.  Sound unhealthy?  It was.  I was perpetually sick with some cold or virus, but I lost the weight and that was the only thing that mattered at the time.  I finally hit a place that if I didn’t eat, I would get this excruciating pain in my stomach and shoulder.  That was what finally brought me out of my downward spiral.  Things leveled off and my weight held through high school.  Then college happened.  Instead of the “freshman 15” I gained 30 pounds my first semester.  It continued to creep upward over the years.  During that time I got married and that is when I really started packing on the pounds.  I was happy and living my life and didn’t care about what I ate.  Life was full of possibilities and adventures and food was totally not on my radar.  When I hit 280 pounds, I tried Weight Watchers the first time.  Lost 30 pounds and went off plan.  When I hit 300 pounds, I tried Weight Watchers a second time.  Lost 5 pounds and went off plan.  I tried again and again.  I would lose weight and then go off plan.  Sound familiar to any of you guys?  So, about 6 or 7 years ago, I gave up completely.  I stopped trying to lose weight.  I was so sick of constantly thinking about food and how to lose weight.  I decided I was just meant to be heavy.  I embraced my inner curvy goddess and got on with living.  During that time of living it up, I ballooned to 340 pounds and that brings me back to where I started my story.

One Year Ago – December 14, 2015

As I said, I walked into my office and sat down at my desk.  I was hot, and sweating and out of breath.  My knees hurt, my ankles hurt, and my feet hurt.  I was a mess.  Two years prior to this, I had been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).  There is a lot to it, but it basically means I don’t process sugars correctly.  My doctor had told me I’d probably have the best luck losing weight with a low-carb diet.  But, as I said before, I was living life and not worrying about weight at that time.  So, when I sat down at my desk last year and decided to do something, low-carb was what I decided to try.  I had never tried low-carb in all of my attempts to lose weight, so I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try.  I started THAT DAY.  I had not planned it.  I had not bought groceries.  I had no prepared lunch with me.  So many times I had to have everything lined up and ready to go before I’d start a “diet.”  This time I just dove in.  No safety line.  No contingency plan.

I researched the crap out of the low-carb, high fat (LCHF) diet.  I read the pros and cons, what the research showed, what was happening in my body as I adopted the diet, what I could expect as I detoxed from sugar.  I read it all.  Anyone who knows me knows I geek out on information.  I love learning new things, so this was my focus for months.  It started off a little rocky since I had no idea what I was doing, but I started losing weight, 11 pounds the first month.  I sat down at that point and made a chart listing about 30 mini-goals that would get me to my goal weight of 155 pounds.  I absolutely could not comprehend a weight loss of 185 pounds.  That number was so staggering to me.  I couldn’t imagine ever losing that much weight, so the mini-goals broke it all down into manageable chunks.  Usually, it was 10 pound increments, but not always.

About 3 months in, I hit my stride.  I had the eating plan down.  I was finally past my sugar cravings.  I had lost about 25 pounds, and I was feeling good enough to start adding some movement.  I started with walking because that was about all I could do at that point.  It was March and the weather here was beautiful, so I’d hit the track 2-3 times a week.  My knees really dictated what I could do in the beginning.  I’d go walk, go home, ice my knees, take an Aleve, and go to bed.  If the pain had subsided enough, I’d do it again two days later.  That was my routine for the first two months.  In May I went to a store dedicated to running and running shoes and got fitted for a good pair of shoes.  Best $120 I ever spent.  Being overweight for so long, I had some pretty severe issues with my feet and ankles.  The shoes helped get everything in alignment and almost immediately alleviated my knee pain.  At this point, I was really ramping up the speed and distance of my walks, so I decided I wanted to add some running to my routine.  BIG MISTAKE!  It was too much, too soon.  My body was not ready and I ended up with a case of hip bursitis.  That took about 3 months to get over, but I never stopped eating right and exercising.  I just changed things up.  I joined a gym, backed off the intensity of my walking, and started lifting weights.  What a revelation!  I love lifting!  Who knew?!  When I reached up to rub my neck and felt a muscle there, I about fell out of my chair.  I was hooked.

Exercise had always been a downfall for me in past programs.  I really hated it, so I would always try to find a buddy to workout with.  If they couldn’t go, it was my reason to skip it.  This time, I found out I really liked competing with myself, increasing my weights, my times, my personal records.  I mean, who else do you really need to complete with besides yourself?  We are usually our own worst enemy, so it seems fitting.

Present Day – December 14, 2016

What am I doing now?  Since June my routine has changed very little.  I eat LCHF everyday.  I lift weights and do cardio 2-3 times a week.  I also got a Fitbit and started increasing the amount I walk everyday.  If there is a time I can get up and move, I do.  For all of you who hate exercise, trust me, if I can do it, you can too.  I was the epitome of sedentary.

I still have aches and pains.  Workouts are still a struggle sometimes.  There are days I can walk 3 miles with no problem and others where 1 mile feels like a marathon.  On the days when the motivation is not there, I do it anyway.  On most occasions I’m ok once I get going.  On the days I’m not, I do what I can, afford myself a little grace, and get back to it a couple days later.  I have learned to listen to my body.  If something seems off, I don’t push it.  Usually things improve in a day or two.  If something is hurting, I tweak my workouts and see if things improve.  So far, it has worked.

My original goal was to lose 100 pounds in a year.  I have lost 82.  It is not where I wanted to be, but I’m not upset in the slightest!  I HAVE LOST 82 POUNDS!  I am almost half way to my goal weight.  I have lost 24% of my body weight.  Science says that every pound lost alleviates 4 pounds of pressure per square inch off knees and feet.  That equates to 328 psi that I’m no longer putting on my feet!  My blood pressure is down.  My cholesterol is down.  I have dropped my BMI 13 points.  What in the world would I have to be upset about?!

When I started this journey, it was an experiment.  Now, I feel better than I have in years.  There are tons of goals I have hit that have nothing to do with a number on the scale.  I realized that it is so much more than that.  I had given up on who I was and what I wanted from life.  I had settled for being less than my best self.  That ended a year ago.  I started a diet one year ago to lose some weight.  I ended up gaining my life back.  I have no regrets – not one skipped carb, not one glass of water, not one workout, not one walk.  I don’t even regret the aches, pains and injuries.  They have gotten me to where I am and I have learned a lot along the way.  I may only be about half way to my goal, but that’s ok.  This journey doesn’t end when I hit goal.  It will be daily choices for the rest of my life.  Luckily, I have found a lifestyle I’m happy to live with.

If you are reading this and have even the slighted inclination that you want to do something to get healthier, DON’T WAIT.  Don’t wait until you have the right groceries.  Don’t wait until you have a gym membership.  Don’t wait until you’re motivated.  Don’t wait until January 1st.  It won’t be any easier to start a month from now.  If you REALLY want to make a change, start now.  Do something!  It might just save your life.

Five Fascinating Facts about Edgar Allan Poe

Standard

I love EAP!!

Interesting Literature

1. He was the first person to use the term ‘short story’. At least, Poe’s use of the term is the earliest that has yet been uncovered, from 1840 – nearly 40 years earlier than the current OED citation from 1877. This is fitting, given that Poe was a pioneer of the short story form. (We’ve offered our pick of Poe’s best stories here.) Poe wrote ‘I have written five-and-twenty short stories whose general character may be so briefly defined’ in his preface to Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. This fact was discovered by Martin Greenup – see his ‘Poe and the First Use of the Term “Short Story”‘, Notes and Queries, 60.2 (2013), 251-254.

Poe12. Poe carried on writing even after he’d died. At least, if you believe the rather outlandish claim of Lizzie Doten, the psychic medium whose 1863 book, Poems from the Inner Life, included…

View original post 435 more words

Is Geek Chic? Is Nerdy Nouveau?

Standard

From my other blog…

Bibliophage

A funny story about Fantasy…
A couple of years ago I had a conversation with a woman I worked with.  We discovered we were both avid readers and started comparing notes like all readers do.  We talked for about 20 or 30 minutes about books we loved, but I could tell we were both holding something back.  I finally asked if she read Fantasy.  She responded with a resounding, YES!  She was more into Historical Fantasy, while I was more into High and Urban Fantasy.  We laughed about how neither of us wanted to admit we loved Fantasy.

The books that originally drew me into reading had been Horror/Paranormal.  Then as I got older I abandoned this genre and moved on to something more respectable.  During college, as an English major, all I had time to read were the selected reading lists for my classes.  After college I stopped reading all together due to…

View original post 508 more words

Ten More Facts about Sherlock Holmes

Standard

I love anything Sherlockian!!

Interesting Literature

What connects Sherlock Holmes, W. G. Grace, Peter Pan, and the Mary Celeste? Our previous collection of Sherlock Holmes facts proved so popular when we posted it back in May that we decided to write a sequel. This seems especially timely since the hit BBC TV series Sherlock will be returning for a third series in a few weeks. So here we are: ten more facts about Sherlock Holmes and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

1. The original name of Dr Watson was Ormond Sacker. In the early drafts for plot outlines, Doyle has Holmes’s friend and sidekick named ‘Ormond Sacker’ rather than the altogether more common and humdrum John Watson. Doyle must have realised that Watson’s everyman status was better served by a more down-to-earth and usual name, and altered it. Which brings us to our second fact …

2. Dr Watson’s first name was John – except for…

View original post 875 more words

Saturday Poem – St. Vincent Millay

Standard
Saturday Poem – St. Vincent Millay

The Death of Autumn

by Edna St. Vincent Millay


When reeds are dead and a straw to thatch the marshes,

And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind

Like agèd warriors westward, tragic, thinned

Of half their tribe, and over the flattened rushes,

Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak,

Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek–

Then leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes

My heart. I know that Beauty must ail and die,

And will be born again–but ah, to see

Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky!

Oh, Autumn! Autumn!–What is the Spring to me?

The Scribe: Irin Chronicles Book One

Standard

From my other blog.

Bibliophage

The ScribeTitle:  The Scribe
Author:   Elizabeth Hunter
Genre:  Urban Fantasy & Dare I say…Romance

Publisher:  Self Published by E. Hunter
Release Date:  October 15, 2013
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Purchased from Amazon
Pages:  306

Read Dates:  Oct. 23-29, 2013
4 Stars

Goodreads Description
Hidden at the crossroads of the world, an ancient race battles to protect humanity, even as it dies from within.

Ava Matheson came to Istanbul looking for answers, but others came looking for her. A reckless warrior guards her steps, but will Malachi’s own past blind him to the truth of who Ava might be? While ancient forces gather around them, both Ava and Malachi search for answers.

Whispering voices. Deadly touch. Their passion should be impossible… or it could be the only thing that will keep them alive.

Ava has grown up thinking she is crazy.  She has heard voices in a different language her entire life and has been treated by multiple shrinks with little to…

View original post 598 more words

Cancer Sucks!

Standard

Breast Cancer Awareness MonthAs most everyone knows, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  This year, as well as 6 years ago, breast cancer has become all too personal for me and my family.  My mom was diagnosed 6 years ago with breast cancer in her left breast.  Luckily it was caught very early and she made it through with a lumpectomy and radiation.  At that point, we crossed our fingers and hoped it was done with her.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t.  This past January it reared its ugly head again.  This time it was Stage II in the right breast.

After having had countless mammograms over the past 6 years and several scares along the way, my mom had decided that if the cancer ever returned, she would opt for a double mastectomy.  Her surgeon completely agreed.  She underwent surgery at the end of January.  Unfortunately, the left side did not heal well due to her previous radiation.  She ended up with a large hematoma and had to undergo a second surgery to clean the surgery site.  After this grueling process, she had chemotherapy to look forward to.

With the cancer being Stage II and outside the milk duct, mom had to undergo 6 chemo treatments.  Due to her weakened immune system, she ended up catching a horrible stomach virus right after her first treatment.  This almost put her back in the hospital, but she recovered just in time to get her second treatment.  Numbers 2, 3 & 4 went fairly well, but she started having allergic reactions at the injection sites.  Number 5 resulted in a blown out vein, but they were able to complete the treatment.  Number 6 really took it out of her, but she made it through.  She lost her hair – She felt like crap – She struggled everyday.

So is this the reality of breast cancer?  NO, not even close!  That was just a checklist of what happened.  A run down of the cold, hard facts of the case.  It doesn’t even begin to touch the emotional side of what cancer does to a person or family.  I don’t think there are enough harsh, horrible and gut-wrenching words for what cancer feels like.  Does “Getting the wind knocked out of you” or “Getting the rug pulled out from under you” even approach what it feels like?  Not hardly.  Cancer is an utter shock and shut down of your system.  You are completely bereft, floating in the middle of an ocean of hurt, fear and anger.  You are so scared it is impossible to even know how you feel.  One minute you’re numb and the next you’re ready to slam someone against a wall.  Of course even if you really decided to slam someone against a wall, the poison you’ve had pumped into your veins in the name of healing has made you so weak you couldn’t. It was 7 straight months of praying in between each crisis.  It was bad news on top of more bad news until all of a sudden it was over.

Pink Breast Cancer Ribbon Royalty Free Stock PhotoMy mom handled it much better than I think I would’ve.  When she first battled cancer 6 years ago, she tried to put on a brave face and not show anyone how bad it really was.  This time around she decided to just feel how she felt from day-to-day and minute-to-minute.  It was raw emotion and it was ugly sometimes.  She often wondered if she would make it through the process.  I am glad to report she did.  She is currently cancer free as far as the doctors can tell.  She had her last chemo treatment is July and her strength is improving, her stamina is up and her hair is growing back.  Of course none of these are happening fast enough to suit her.

I always knew my mom was a fighter.  I know it even more now.  As she walked this road, she would usually fall apart with every piece of bad news, but after a day or two, she would get her head wrapped around it and would dig in her heels for the fight.  I have always loved my mom, but I can say it now with much more awe and admiration.

So what have I learned through this whole process?  I don’t know exactly.  I’m still picking up bits of truth and wisdom, but I can impart these jewels…Love your loved ones now, don’t wait until later because there might not be a later, enjoy every second of the life you’ve been given, stop and smell the roses more often than not and GET A FREAKIN’ MAMMOGRAM.

Ladies, if you have been putting off a mammogram because it’s not a comfortable process or you don’t have insurance, or this, or that…STOP MAKING EXCUSES!  Get it done!  Mammograms might not be 100% accurate, but they are a hell of a lot more reliable than nothing!

I’ll leave you a saying that has come from all this…
When life gets tough, put on your boobs and get on with it.