Tales From Texas, Part 4

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

TexasClick here to read part 1 of Elizabeth’s “Tales from Texas” series.
Click here to read part 2 of Elizabeth’s “Tales from Texas” series. 
Click here to read part 3 of Elizabeth’s “Tales from Texas” series. 

My culinary journey into Texas ends with the “Texas BBQ” that my sister ordered from T-Bone Tom’s, who enjoyed some Diners, Drive-ins and Dives fame. Of course, here in the glorious South, BBQ means pork, mustard sauce, white bread, coleslaw, hash and rice, and maybe some cracklin’s on the side.  Well, in the great Texas, it’s a whole different ballgame.  They are all about the beef.  Well, hello?  They are Texas, where pretty much all the beef comes from, right?

So the package of a typical Texas BBQ is smoked brisket and sauce, smoked sausage, potato salad, coleslaw, pintos, bread (untoasted Texas toast), pickles and onions on the side. While we don’t typically cook brisket in the South and call it barbeque, I’m a big brisket fan.  I love corned beef so much I check the prices on it every time I’m in the grocery store.  I love meats that “string” when they are cooked.  I was really looking forward to this food.  My brother-in-law picked it up and I helped set it all up on the table for my sweet niece’s 3-year-old birthday party. I’m not sure how many of the other pre-schoolers got their fill of Texas BBQ, but the rest of us were in good shape.

The brisket was simply fantastic: smoked, that nice dark “bark” on the outside and perfectly cooked.  The sauce was a red sauce, of course, because the rest of the world hasn’t discovered the magical versatility of mustard like we have! I’m sure the smoked sausage was great, but being a less-than-enthusiastic sausage eater, I didn’t try it myself. The potato salad was a pretty typical old-school style, as was the coleslaw, but the pinto beans were awesome.  I guess you’d say they were pretty much the “charros” that you find so often in this part of the country. While all the grown-ups polished off most of the barbeque, the toddlers turned their attention to my niece’s very elaborate fondant-covered dragon cake.  Fine, kids.  Eat your cake.  We’ll handle this brisket!

My first trip to Texas was really great.  I was able to spend great quality time with (most of) my family (my husband couldn’t get away and come with us 😦 ).  Taking my child to NASA was an awesome experience and I know she learned so much. Frankly, so did I.  Visiting the Kemah Boardwalk was fantastic.  Vivver wanted to ride the Boardwalk Bullet roller coaster.  She was tall enough to ride, so off we went.  It is a major league coaster and when it was all over, she was in tears.  But, by the end of our day there, she bolstered herself up and wanted to do it again.  She did fine and confessed to me later that it was her mantra “I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok” that got her through it and actually allowed her to enjoy the crazy thrill. 🙂

ElizabethElizabeth writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)”. Follow the page on Facebook. All the cool kids do.

The Fit Bucket List

By: Lydia Scott

1 year weightloss progress

May 22 marked one full year since my lifestyle reboot that we chatted about in my previous blog post. In the last year, I’ve dropped my second 70 lbs. and am now on my way to losing the third and final 70 lbs. I have been cleared of all cardiac issues by my cardiologist; and have conquered a plethora of physical accomplishments I truly thought I’d never be able to do.

Like what? Like:

  • Not have to physically pull myself up the steps and then stop to rub my aching, burning knees.
  • Get on and off a gym-quality elliptical all by myself.
  • Use every single one of the programs on that there gym-elliptical. Yes…the programs. Those crazy ones that make you cuss while swearing you hate the darn thing! I’ve conquered every one of them. This is a HUGE deal for me personally.
  • Do real squats, without falling on my butt and without crippling my almost-cartilage-free knees!
  • Dead lift. *giggle*
  • Become the person who shows other people how to work out. Yeah…me. And no one has broken anything yet!
  • Work all day, come home and cook dinner, then go out to the garden, then work out, and not be a zombie afterwards!
  • Tie my shoes without having to stop to pant in the middle of the tying process.
  • Change out the 40 lb. water bottle at work, by myself, and also without dying or crying.
  • Unload bags of dirt from my car, by myself, as my sweet and proud husband steps to the side because I definitely did not push him aside while I proclaim “No, I can do it!” Definitely not…
  • Double-check the kitty litter I just picked up to make sure it is, indeed, the 20 lb. container, because it felt way too light to be the 20 lb. container. I’ve also done this with carry-out pizza from Schiano’s, because I swore the pizza used to be heavier and maybe they didn’t put the right one in the box. They did get it right. Every time.
  • Get on the floor, and not be panicked trying to figure out how I’ll get back up.
  • Actually do yard work for more than 30 minutes at a time.
  • Agree to go to Crossfit with my friend Leah, although it has been temporarily postponed due to reasons beyond our control. (Let’s just say one of us was injured saving a clowder of orphaned kittens from a herd of stampeding elephants. Yeah. That was it.) But still…I AGREED TO GO TO CROSSFIT. While sober.

I’m 42 years old. I am at my lowest weight since the age of 20.5 years old. I’m eyeing my size 14 white 8th grade graduation dress that is hanging in my closet with full intention of being able to button it in the next couple of months. Granted, I am definitely not going to be caught dead wearing it in public. I mean, it’s a 12 year old girl’s graduation dress from 1985! Um, yeah…not the fashion statement I wanna make. But I will probably take a picture of me wearing it. Get your blackmail files ready.

Riverbanks Zoo Zip Line from The State

So, that’s where I am right now. Where do I plan to be in the near future? What are the next fit bucket list goals?

  • Horseback riding. Technically, I could do it now, but I want to wait until I get to 200 lbs. It’s just nicer for everyone.
  • Zip lining. But it can’t be over crazy wide open, high spaces. ‘Cause I would totally freak out for reasons that have nothing to do with my weight! I’ll take a low zip line through some woods.
  • Hiking in the mountains. Not rock-climbing super hero kind of hiking, but just the general “hike through the woods and not pass out” kind. I need plantar fasciitis-friendly boots. Have any suggestions?
  • Tubing down the river. Just waiting to buy a swimsuit that fits!
  • Actually doing Crossfit, successfully. At least once, LOL!
  • Being able to get onto the floor and back up again without having to get on my knees.
  • Being able to plank. I’m close, but not quite there yet. Well, unless you put a big, squishy pillow under my belly. Then, I can totally plank like a superstar! For hours, even! Ha!
  • _______________________________________________________________

You see the last one is a blank space. Why? Because I’m sure you guys out there in Every Woman land have some awesome ideas for challenging activities that this so-far-lifetime-member of the physically unfit club has no clue even exist. Toss me your best ideas! But, ummmm…can we try not to go too high in the air, dangling over open expanses while I imagine the horrible plummet to the ground which is sure to be at least 50 kajillion miles below?

Not that I’m afraid of wide open spaces above the ground or anything. Nope. Not at all. Not. At. All.

By the way, I keep track of all my activity and food and stuff on www.myfitnesspal.com, so if you want to join the journey and the fun, look me up at “Ldscott716.” We can do this together!!

LMC Nurse Notes

Did you know that Lexington Medical Center is hiring nurses? LMC is looking for nurses with at least one year of experience in Med/Surg, Critical Care and Labor & Delivery to work night shifts, and they’re offering a $2,500 signing bonus! Learn more and apply online by clicking here.

They have also launched a new web series, called “Nurse Notes.” Meet Nicole Smith, a Lexington Medical Center nurse who takes care of critical care patients. In this video, she talks about the most rewarding parts of her job.

Getting Real About Mental Health

By: Leah Prescott

LeahThis has been a long time coming. I think I’ve mentally written this post dozens of times and have been re-writing it on paper for months now. As much as I consider myself to be an honest and open person, I don’t think I’ve ever completely shared with anyone about my reality, maybe not even with myself. Why come clean now? Because growth doesn’t happen without transparency, and openness can be healing. Hopefully healing for myself and others. Plus, May is Mental Health Month, so that was finally the push I needed.

Anxiety is something I have long struggled with. I was a worrier as a child. But it wasn’t until a few years ago, after I became a mom, that things took a turn for me. My worrying nature became a true disorder and began to inhibit my life.

At first the diagnosis surprised me, then I found it far too easy to believe. So much made sense now that I had a name to put to the struggle. Realizing what Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is has helped me to know how to fight it. GAD affects about 3% of adults. Statistically, women are twice as likely to struggle with clinical anxiety as men.

Some of my symptoms include IBS, dry mouth, cardiac symptoms, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, repetitive negative thoughts (OCD), insomnia, irrational fears, phantom skin sensations and good ole’ panic attacks. Sometimes these symptoms hit me at the most unexpected times. I often have panic attacks when I am doing something seemingly relaxing, like reading a book at the end of a long day. In essence, my body is letting all the stress catch up to me whether I like it or not.

Now I find that my anxiety is the lens through which I view the world. I know that my life is good, rich and wonderful, but I can’t even count my blessings. I am ultimately thankful to God that in Him I have no real reason to fear. But over all of that lies the ugly and dirty lens of anxiety. It dulls and mutes the colors that would otherwise be so beautiful. If I am being completely honest, there are many times when anxiety strangles the joy in my life.

Anxiety has kept me from travel and from social events. I have lost friendships because I was basically too overwhelmed to maintain them. I will always, always regret missing my best friend’s wedding. Her wedding happened soon after I started having panic attacks and the symptoms at that time were too much for me to cope with. I never said goodbye to my grandmother in the hospital because the mental stress felt like more than I could stand. Looking back, I can hardly believe that I let GAD get the best of me in those situations, but it can be strong and persuasive.

I have tried a few different treatments, a few different SSRIs (a type of medication). Sometimes they help, but I am still trying to find a good fit with my medication. I would like to try therapy but haven’t worked out the logistics of that yet. I have tried taking ice cold showers with some success. I have tried different supplements with varying results. Vitamin D directly applied from the warm South Carolina sunshine definitely helps me! Exercise is also effective, but it’s really hard to fit it in to my life right at the moment. As I am typing this, I realize how crazy it is to not do everything I can to treat the problem, so I resolve to tackle the exercise challenge soon. I wish I could say I have discovered the perfect solution, but GAD is always changing and evolving. What quells the anxiety today might not work tomorrow. You just have to deal with the symptoms as they come.

Why am I sharing all this right now? I guess because anxiety reminds me that I am human. Very human, and very, very imperfect. I think my experience with anxiety has given me better empathy for others. I know that even when I appear calm and capable on the outside, I might be battling my demons on the inside. So I try to give others the benefit of the doubt; I just don’t know what anyone is going through, so I do my best to show them compassion and empathy even if I don’t understand their behavior.

I don’t want this post to be overly negative. I have so, so much to be thankful for and my life is overwhelmingly a joyful one. Knowing I am not in control helps me remember Who is in control. Without God I would be losing this battle, but with His strength I know I have already won.

I want to reach out to anyone else who is experiencing these symptoms or feeling overwhelmed beyond hope. Anxiety and Depression are very real and very treatable. Things can get better. But you have to fight. If you want to fight, but just don’t know how, it might be time to talk to a doctor or counselor.

 

Why I Love Working Out Before the Sun Comes Up

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Rise and Shine

Since adopting a healthy lifestyle, I’ve become an early morning exerciser. As I reviewed here, there are a lot of incentives to working out in the morning. but at the time I started, it was just the most convenient time. After the first week or so, it just became a habit, and I didn’t think much more about it.

This week, I was reminded how much I like working out first thing in the morning. I was enrolled in an off-site training workshop that didn’t start until 10 a.m., so I figured I had the luxury of sleeping in. I had a leisurely breakfast, drank my coffee in bed, checked email and even watched a few minutes of the morning news. I made it to the gym by about 7 a.m.

As I was doing my post-workout stretching, I looked out the window and said, “I really prefer to be here when it’s still dark.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind sleeping in every once in a while, but I do prefer to get to the gym when it opens at 5 a.m. or shortly thereafter, and here are a few reasons why:

  1. There are no distractions. When I get right up and get to the gym, there’s not a lot of time to think about it and/or change my mind. If I have extra time, even thirty minutes, I tend to lollygag and often lose track of time. Even waiting until 7 a.m., I got involved in the news, started replying to work emails and thought about everything I could do around the house with an extra hour. It took some determination to leave that behind for the gym.
  2. I get my water in early. Water is great for us, and I like to drink at least 64 oz. per day. With an early morning workout, that’s easy! If I get 64 oz. in, it’s a good workout; if it’s a great workout, I can get up to 96 oz. Yes, I’m going to the bathroom all morning, but I’ve also gotten my water requirement taken care of by 7 a.m. On days when don’t work out in the morning, I rarely get that much in.
  3. I have incredible energy to start the day. I may be tired when I get to the gym, and I may wear myself out working out. By the time I’m home, showered and dressed, though, my energy levels are soaring. It’s a great way to start the work day.
  4. I get to eat two breakfasts. Yep, and it’s nutrition counselor-approved. I eat a small breakfast before I work out – usually oatmeal with blueberries – and then have something after I get home, but before work – generally a smoothie. And it’s all guilt-free; I need to fuel up for my workout, and then have a little something to recover.
  5. By 7 a.m., my workout is done. I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. No matter what comes up during the day – a headache, a late work day or an invitation to happy hour or dinner – I don’t have to worry about fitting that work out in. On the flip side, there’s not much to keep me from working out first thing in the morning. Unless I’m sick or the gym is closed, there are no meetings, happy hours or other events that keep me from getting to the gym.
  6. I eat better. When you get up at 4:17 a.m. and workout for 60-90 minutes, you’re much less tempted to indulge in something unhealthy. I get up too early and work out too hard to blow it on a stale Krispy Kreme doughnut someone brings in to the office.
  7. It’s very empowering. Especially when I was out of shape, getting to the gym before the sun comes up and actually doing that workout was the hardest thing I did in a day. After that, facing a hard day at the office seemed a lot less daunting. Even now that I’m in better shape, I feel much better about facing the day after a good hard work out.

When do YOU exercise? Why is that time of day especially well-suited for you? What are the benefits of doing your workout at that time of the  day?    

LMC Nurse Notes

Did you know that Lexington Medical Center is hiring nurses? LMC is looking for nurses with at least one year of experience in Med/Surg, Critical Care and Labor & Delivery to work night shifts, and they’re offering a $2,500 signing bonus! Learn more and apply online by clicking here.

They have also launched a new web series, called “Nurse Notes.” Meet Cindy Arneson, a Labor & Delivery nurse and recipient of the Lexington Medical Center Gold award for excellence in nursing. In this video, she talks about what it’s like to be with a family as they welcome a new baby.

Off the Hook

By: Lara Winburn

This past weekend I was the planner for a beautiful wedding. There was a stunning bride, a dapper groom, flowing wine, and so much happiness it made bright sun beam around the happy couple.  I started thinking about marriage and all of the many blessings  it has brought me. My husband is a patient, kind, helpful, and funny man. I am still moony-eyed over him.  In this married life, there are many “favors” I ask of him. “Can you do me a favor?” is a question asked by me so much it may have been the first full sentence our daughter said. (I think it is a nice way to ask when you have A LOT of requests, don’t you?) He will gladly tote my luggage, take out the trash, and Let Husbands Off the Hookdrive so I can nap on a road trip. I am so happy we share our lives, but reflecting on marriage also reminded me that maybe we don’t have to share everything.

Maybe sometimes I should be sharing with someone else. I have learned some things should be shared or requested of best friends, work-out buddies and handy men instead of husbands. Even in the happiest of marriages, I think sometimes husbands should be off the hook.

I recently bought a new dress. I am not a big shopper, so this is a feat and a blog for another day. Anyway, I love this new dress. It is nothing fancy but it fits and it has pockets. (Doesn’t everyone love a pocket?) I should mention it is a shift dress, no real shape.  I put it on and proudly asked, “How do you like my new dress?” His honest response was “Where is the belt?” BONG! As fashion consultant, husband is off the hook.  Ask a friend, ask a stylist, ask a stranger on the street but if you are wearing an item of clothing that you really love, just don’t ask him.

I have also decided that when it comes to diets, the newest gym, or exercise challenge it is better to let the husband off the hook. My husband is tall and thin and does not need any sort of diet plan. He does not need to know what I ate for every one of the small six meals I had today. He does not need to give any input on whether it looks like I have lost weight or inches. (If you have to ask, it may not be that noticeable.) I will leave my fat burning questions for a workout buddy, a trainer, or friend.

Opinions on hair, husband off the hook.  Last year, the hubs and I were watching a movie. It was a bit of a chic flick because it was my turn to choose. As we watched, I asked “Do you think I could do that to my hair?”

He looked at me and said “What hair?”

I said, “Katherine Heigl’s hair, don’t you think I could do that to my hair?”

With the blankest stare, he said “I have no idea who you are talking about.”

“The actress in the movie, the star of the movie, her hair right there on the screen – that braid sorta thing. Could I do that with my hair?”

More blank stares….and out of my mouth slipped, “Sometimes I wish I still lived with my best friend.” In my defense, my best friend and I did live together for 8 years before we got married so we had watched lots of movies together and she would have totally known that I could and should do that to my hair.

Hair stylist he is not – husband is off the hook. Same best friend, same hair dilemma…After I recently cut a good 6 inches from my hair, I took my second official selfie and sent it to my bestie and my husband. The response from bestie was “So cute!” while the response from hubs “wow.”

My response was, “Good wow, bad wow?”

Radio silence……me: “You better answer now.”

More radio silence… my husband responded with, “Good. Great. Awesome.” Reads with some real feeling , doesn’t it? Once the hair is laying on the salon floor, just let the husband off the hook and send the selfie to you best friend.

I could write an entire blog about my husband, my partner, and the love of my life. But I think he, too, would appreciate that I willingly admit there are some “favors” he should not be asked to do. In fact, he may be astonished to learn when he reads this, that sometimes I actually refrain from asking: “Hey, will you do me a favor?” My kindness as a wife is to let him off the hook…