Losing It Contest

Iraq Journey

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Telling Them

March 1, 2010

It was time to tell them. To hope they’d understand forex trader.

Sitting on the couch, the four of us, cuddled close. We tried to explain.

We tried to smile.

“Daddy’s going to be far away. He’s going to do really nifty cool Marine stuff. He gets to ride on a bus and an airplane!”

Where is he going? Are we not going to see him anymore?

“Do you remember when Daddy went to Iraq when you were smaller? This place is close to Iraq. It’s called Afghanistan. Can you say Afghanistan?”

I don’t like those words! Our three year old furrowed his brow. Those are bad words!

Our two year old buried his head in Daddy’s shoulder. No go, Daddy. Stay home.

Their daddy’s rich brown eyes were glassy.

Daddy’s going to fight the bad guys, boys.”

Fight giants, Daddy? The two year old’s eyes were wide.

Will you be home when I get four, Daddy?

“No, Daddy won’t be home for your fourth birthday. No, not Christmas, either. But when you turn five, it’ll mean it’s almost time for Daddy to come home.”

But I’m not three. I’m not four either. I’m 21 now. I’m big and I’m going to go fight bad guys, too.

Help you, Daddy. Take mine sword!

“You have to stay here, guys. You have to take care of Mommy.”

No, Daddy. The three year old curled into a ball under Daddy’s arm. His little shoulders shaking and small voice broken with sobs.

No, Daddy.  The two year old stood on Daddy’s leg and wrapped his arms around Daddy’s neck, summoning all his toddler strength and squeezing hard.

My Marine looked at me over the heads of these, our precious ones, part of both of us. Our love displayed in the form of two little boys. One looks like him and acts like me. The other looks like me and acts like him. Binding us together for the rest of our days.

The moment, silent, still.

My throat closed so tightly, it threatened to suffocate me.

Is this really happening again, my beloved?


I’d like to give another family close to the military—whether you are the family, you are close to a Marine, Soldier, Airman or Sailor, or you know a military family who could be encouraged—a duo of books that have touched a tender spot in my heart.

The first is one I picked up at a library book sale months ago. I read it alone during nap time later that day and couldn’t stop the tears.

The book is simply called Daddy’s In Iraq, But I Want Him Back.

It was our story, in someone else’s words.

But really, it was the story of any family who has been through deployment. Because it’s not just the spouse or the parent who goes to war. The family left on the homefront is fighting a battle all their own, and just as important.

The second is Rain On Me, a powerful book of love-filled words by my sweet friend  Holley Gerth. She gifted me with a copy of her devotional a few weeks ago when I was in Nashville and I read it through, cover to cover, in two days. The gentle truths were written in the midst of a personal storm—and I couldn’t soak them up fast enough.

Holley has graciously offered a copy of her beautiful book to a reader here, and I’ve also secured a copy of Daddy’s In Iraq But I Want Him Back. We’d like to bless a family in or close to the military with this set of books. They are sure to be a treasure to whomever holds them in their hands.

To win the duo, simply leave the name of a military service member or family you love (even if–especially if–that family is your own) along with their branch of service. I’d like to make a list of these people, whether or not they’ve been through ten deployments or none, and keep them in prayer over the coming months. I’m not going to get gimmicky on you, because that’s not the point of this giveaway, but if you tweet about this and let me know you did so, you’ll get an extra entry.

I know you’ll be blessed.

Speaking of It

February 25, 2010

Please stop,” he asks.”You know I hate it when you talk like that.

Come on,” she says. “It’s getting ridiculous.”

Get used to it,” a friend tells another. “She talks like this about herself all the time.”

Do I look fat in this skirt?

Back when I was thin…

If I was still skinny…

Have you seen these thighs?”

Ugh. I look like a cow.”

I thought talking about it meant I was okay with it.

I didn’t want people to assume I was oblivious to my weight fluctuations.

I thought if I could talk openly, candidly, jokingly, other people would feel they could talk about it too.

They’d know it was all okay.

But it wasn’t okay.

It wasn’t okay with me.

And it certainly wasn’t okay with the people around me.

The truth was they didn’t care whether I was wearing a size four or a size eight or a size twelve. They didn’t notice every two pound gain or loss. They didn’t love me more based on how many days a week I spent at the gym.

But they were sick and tired of hearing me talk about it. The bashing. The joking. The bemoaning.

Those closest to me begged, pleaded, implored.

The rest rolled their eyes, changed the subject and coughed with meaning.

I imagined that talking about my weight issues (or perceived issues) would clear the air in my conversations, and people wouldn’t have to skirt around  the issue that was, to me, the loudly sounding elephant among us.

But suddenly, not very long ago, it occurred to me that not once had the recipient of my self-depreciating weight comments been anything other than completely uncomfortable.

I thought the Monster wouldn’t be so big if I could name it.

Though my mind told me the talking–the sad attempts at humor, the self-degrading jesting, bringing it up often–would make me feel better, I broke a bit more every time I spoke of it.

I thought talking about it meant I was okay with it.

The truth couldn’t be more distant.



One of my most sought-after goals in the Losing It competition is that of changing my thinking.

Last week I bared my soul to you about my struggle with consistently eating for health instead of starving myself into long term metabolic damage. I have to change my thinking and remember that food itself is not the enemy.

The next goal on my totem pole is that of the way I talk, and, at the root of it, the way I think. Constantly berating myself for real or perceived flaws does nothing to reach the end destination. Instead, it draws attention to the very thing I’m trying to convince everyone isn’t a big deal.



The Week 1 report:

Food: I ate three meals a day, every single day. That is huge. I even ate some snacks. We’ve been able to find a few resources for good, whole food here in our new town, which has been wonderful–I’ll be talking more about that in future Losing It posts.

I also ate Chinese (total weakness of mine) and ice cream on a date night. But I’m totally forgiving myself for that, being it was our last real date of that sort before the deployment.

Water: It is so hard for me to remember to drink water. I didn’t drink enough, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m going to aim to finish two of my big water bottles every day, because I can actually feel the dehydration.

Exercise: I have a new exercise program I’m planning to use in place of the gym since I don’t have the same options available any longer in our new tiny mountain town. I planned to start it this week, but didn’t ever get enough boxes and floor space cleared out of our new house to actually do so. Instead, we went snowshoeing, walking, sledding and skiing.

I definitely burned a calorie or a trillion and after the skiing yesterday (WITH the boys!) I can hardly walk. Just sayin.

Losing It: As of this morning, I’ve lost two pounds this week. That’s right on track.

>Losing It (but not our sanity) is a 10 week weight loss competition hosted by Mary at Giving Up On Perfect, along with Jessie at Vanderbilt Wife and me. If you’d like to join in the fun–and the loss!–go to Giving Up On Perfect and link up to your own post about the challenge. If you link up six of the ten weeks and are the contestant with the highest weight percentage lost, you will win a gift card to Dick’s Sporting Good, a pedometer provided by Weight Watchers, and a six month subscription to The 6 o’Clock Scramble, a healthful menu planning service.

Thanks for joining us on our journey toward health!

The Touch and The Need

February 23, 2010



Swollen eyes. Messy hair. Breakfast. Stuffy noses. Thomas the Tank Engine cartoons.

Snuggling. Clamoring. Climbing. Hair pulling. Snuggling closer.

Tired boys. Irritability. Whining.

More clamoring.

Mommy. Mama. Mommy. I need you. Can you? Mama. I need. Please? Mommy. Mama. I need this. Can I? Will you? Hold me. He hit me. Mama. I want that. Mommy? I need.



More clamoring. More whining. More touching. More climbing.


“Stop. STOP. No touching. PLEASE. Nobody touches Mama. Just… stop.”

My hands gripping the roots of my own hair.

Looking at their daddy. My teeth interlocking.

I’m going to freak out. Five minutes. Just five minutes without being needed. Or touched. I’m done. I’m going to lose it.

Um,” his look was gentle. “You kind of just did.





Sitting at the edge of the couch. Slipper clad feet planted purposely, firmly on the floor. Pulling the laptop from the coffee table.

So much to do. Catch up. Stay on top of the game. So much noise coming from the silent screen.

Five minutes. Just five minutes. To focus.


Whispered. From the other end of the couch. Cautious. Because of the freak out.

No turning of my head. Fingers typing. Absent. “Yes, babe?”

I just need a little kiss.

Stinging. Deep. So deep.


Laptop closed and slid back on the coffee table. Slippers kicked off and feet propped up. Sinking back into the overstuffed cushions.

“Come ‘ere, guys.”

Snuggling. Giggling. Holding. Arms entwined. Fingers running through messy hair.


Sometimes the touching is too much. Sometimes the needing is never ending.

Sometimes the freak out is legitimate.

But sometimes the touching is simply traded in for another form of contact. And sometimes the needing comes through notifications and electronic chimes.

Sometimes the issue isn’t the touching or the needing.

It’s simply who is allowed to touch and need.

Mama? I need a little kiss.

I See (Really Nice) Dead People

February 21, 2010

This is our back yard:


It is quite literally our backyard. That’s the back of our house, between the trees.


We do our walking and sledding and exploring in the middle of a (very, very old) snow-covered cemetery.


We’ve been trying to figure out what to tell our (very imaginative) almost four year old, when he thinks to ask about the funny shaped rocks with letters.

Well, son, there’s a bunch of dead people out back. Let’s go meet ‘em.

Personally, I could spend all day in a boomtown-mining-era cemetery. John and I have already taken a morning getting to know some of the families buried out there, learning their stories through numbers and names etched on stone.

My heart broke for the young Ella Foust, who lost a toddler the same year she bore another daughter, only to have the second little girl die at age 6. Ella followed both of them three years later, in 1895, at age 31. The space for James Foust’s name is empty, leading us to wonder if the grief drove him away from the snowy mountain town that claimed the lived of these three girls he loved.

I love an old graveyard.


But our almost four year old has the most ridiculously active imagination I’ve ever seen someone his age.

His talk of the friends we can’t see starts to freak me out a bit until I remind myself John reminds me that this is the boy who pretends and believes he’s 21 years old, can drive and is Peter Pan. Also, he mentions that thing about having a God who is bigger than anything or anyone else… dead or alive. And that we don’t personally believe that the dead, you know, walk the earth or anything.

Let’s hope that’s all true, I said with raised eyebrows and a hand on my hip. Because otherwise he’s gonna have a whole heap o’ new friends to play with in that backyard. And I’ll be alone with all of them as company for the next year.

Don’t worry, he replied with a smug grin. This is our cozy little mountain mining town, remember? They’ll all be nice ghosts.

I love-punched his arm.


Ok, Mrs. Ehlenfeldt, you can live just outside my back gate. I’d just better not find you making pancakes in my kitchen some morning.

What would you tell two extremely imaginative boys if YOU had a cemetery for a back yard?

The Number

(and a chance to win!)

February 19, 2010

(I know this is a long and rambling story, but it took some serious guts to get it all written, and I decided to just leave it as is… bear with me, if you will… there’s good stuff in the end. Promise.)

Let me tell you about my darkest, most hated enemy.

I call it The Number.

I dread meeting The Number.

Sometimes just thinking about it makes me sick.

I engage in mortal combat with The Number… and yet it always seems to win.

The Number has the potential to send me into a pit of depression and self-loathing, of insecurity and despair.

I meet The Number on the scale every morning.

I know, I know. Weighing every day isn’t healthy. Or it is healthy. Or something. But The Number and I have been constant companions for so long that I hardly know what to do without it.

We weren’t always enemies. We weren’t friends, either. We were simply indifferent to each other until one fateful 8th grade day.

I stepped on a scale, out of curiosity, and gasped. There was The Number, scowling at me. I glared back… and vowed to lose 15 pounds.

I did. But by the time 9th grade hit, it wasn’t enough. High school friends (yes, even the sweet conservative homeschooling girls) compared weight like new dresses. I’ve gained two whole pounds this week. I need to lose ten pounds. UGH, I weighed 102 this morning. Do I look pregnant?

The Number and I were at serious odds. So I did what every high school girl does… and stopped eating. As much as I could get away with it, dinner was often my only meal. Dinner and ice cream–a lot of ice cream. It worked, it made me fit in, and I felt good about my “self control.”

When I got married at 18 (I know… that’s another story) my 5′6” frame held 118 pounds. I told people I weighed 120 because I was trying to gain weight to fit into the wedding dress I’d bought months earlier and I was tired of being reminded to eat. I wasn’t exceptionally active (jogged a piddly half mile a few times a week and did a Pilates video most mornings) and had little muscle tone, but at 18 and thin, I wasn’t too worried.

Ever heard of the freshman fifteen? Tack on marriage and you’ve got twenty. Over a year later, we found out we were expecting our first little one, which added yet another 35 pounds of baby weight, but it was all gone within a month of holding the baby in our arms. I was back to my pre-baby weight, but still a good 25 pounds over what I’d been two years prior.

Thus began the freaking out.

I knew I wouldn’t ever be 18 again. I knew it was illogical to expect a pre-baby body again. But still I did.

I began to make self-conscious jokes about my weight, thinking at least people would know I was aware of it. (Now, remember, I was a very healthy size 6 or 8 at the time, but compared to my wedding day size 4, I was convinced I was overweight.) My insecure self secretly hoped to be reassured–again and again–that I wasn’t fat. I jogged in the mornings with my husband, the baby in the jogging stroller, and cut my calories to (wince) 700-800 a day.

Then, 11 months after our oldest was born, I was shocked to find out there was another baby on the way. I mean, we clearly knew how these things happen; we just weren’t expecting it to happen so soon.

I went into this second pregnancy happy to be much thinner than I was at the beginning of my first, but I still lamented the baby weight I knew was soon to come. I ate more during both pregnancies, for the babies’ sake… but my family will tell you they still had to remind me to eat breakfast and lunch.

Baby #2 was born and I found bouncing back after the second baby to be a bit harder. The weight didn’t fall off, but I was too busy with a toddler, a newborn, and my husband’s upcoming deployment to fret about it.

When the baby was two months old and my husband had been in Iraq for two weeks, a friend suggested I join the gym down the street. She and I started out walking on the treadmills a couple afternoons a week while our littles played (or slept) in the child care program.

But I tend to be a bit radical. A month into the membership, walking wasn’t enough. Soon I was at the gym five or six days a week, running, weight training and attending every class I could fit into my schedule. I’d never been so active–or so fit–in my life. I had found my happy spot.

I lost around twenty pounds, and though I was nowhere near my 18 year old weight and had yet become a pro at the weight-related comments (if you can name it, the monster isn’t so big, right?), I felt I was making progress, gaining muscle tone and enjoying the stress relief exercise provided.

But I still wasn’t eating much. Nightly ice cream was my staple and weekend binges were common, though I always “made up for it” by eating as little as possible the next day.

My husband came home from Iraq, I took my running outside and began training for a half marathon.

I never did that 13.1 miles.

Life got crazy. My previously very stable, very well respected father rocked our world by leaving my mother and my brother unexpectedly in a scandalous affair and shattering the foundation upon which I’d built much of my life. My family was a mess and even as an adult daughter, I was a complete emotional wreck.

I would spend a day crying, shoveling brownies, chips and Taco Bell into my mouth, and follow it with a week of guilt  and starving myself. My stress level was at a lifetime high and I was spiraling into a pit I didn’t recognize. I gained five pounds and hired a personal trainer to help me figure out why The Number was going the wrong direction. I spent six weeks working with her… and I gained ten more pounds.

I saw one doctor and had my first round of testing done. I saw another doctor. I had more tests. I gained more weight. I cried. More tests. New diets. Less exercise–because what was the point if I was just going to keep packing on the pounds?

I cried more. For my dad, for my mom, for my brother, for what this stress was doing to my own husband and children.

I prayed that if God was trying to teach me some sort of lesson about body image or letting go or insecurity, that He’d do it quickly. I prayed for answers.

I finally saw a doctor about two months ago who sat and talked and listened and tested and figured out  the root of the problem.

A) A vicious cycle of starving, binging, starving. “It seems to work at 16… then you have children and it’s a whole different story. You’ve broken your metabolism.”

B) Stress. “Intense, sudden stress mimics hormone disorders. It sends your body into survival mode.”


In the past year I’ve gained 35 pounds.

I have everything from a size 4 to a size 14 in my closet and I’ve worn all of them at some point in the past three years.

(You know what I’ve learned above all else in this? People still love me regardless of the size on my tag. But that’s a topic for another day.)

It’s time for some changes. Changes toward overall health–mentally and physically.

This is why my two friends, Mary from Giving Up On Perfect and Jessie from Vanderbilt Wife, are partnering with me in hosting a ten week weight loss challenge that focuses our own individual health goals. None of us will be sharing The Number publicly, because the goal is about overall health, but instead will tell the body weight percentage we’ve lost.

And we want you to join us.


>Mary will be hosting a link up every Friday for the next ten weeks for you to link to your post about your own weight loss. The participant who loses the highest percentage of body weight through healthy means and links up at least six of the ten weeks will–perks!win a gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods, a pedometer provided by Weight Watchers and a 6-month subscription to the healthy, whole-foods-based menu planning program, The 6 o’Clock Scramble.

So grab the button from the sidebar, use the banner, and join us in our rally for health and change in each of our lives.

I’ll be sharing here, each Friday, about my healthy endeavors (I tend to be a bit of a whole foods junkie, believe it or not) and my balanced exercise goals. Mary will host the link up, but you can click over from here or Jessie’s blog as well.

My goals:

  • As for food? My main goal is to eat. To fix and eat three, solid, healthy, portion-controlled meals each day. And maybe (gasp!) to fit some wholesome snacks in there, too.
  • I would be thrilled to lose 20 pounds during this challenge (that’s a healthy two pounds per week). But I’m not going to freak if I don’t. I do need to lose weight, but most of all I need to be healthy.
  • Drinking water is imperative, especially at our new high-altitude home. As is getting adequate sleep. I’m going to aim for a hefty dose of both.
  • I’m going to attempt (this is a biggie) to stop talking about my weight, other than in relation to this contest. No jokes. No attempts at self-depreciation. No, “Do I look fat in this?”

I’m going to get healthy.

Because The Number is not going to rule my life any longer.

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