Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011 -- 12 Days After Jaw Surgery

Happy Christmas!
     Today marks 12 days since I had surgery. I thought I'd make a video, attempting to speak throughout the recording, to provide some information and updates. This is helpful for me as I compile information from my experience, but I'm sharing because it may be helpful for others who are also going through this or who will go through this or similar types of jaw surgery. It also helps me share the experience with my family and friends, so no one worries :-)

     I have made significant healing progress so far. I had my 1-Week Follow-Up appointment on Wednesday last week and that went exceptionally well. I had expected to have all of the elastics replaced after the doctor initially removed them (so I could clean my mouth a bit better) but then he came back and decided I only needed two elastics for now. That made things a bit easier but also a bit trickier.... now I can talk more but it also wears me out like crazy!  I talked to my Mom on the phone twice, I think, and both times it was a short conversation (compared to our usual conversations) but I was just exhausted from talking like this that I have to end the phone calls within a short while. 
    Oh! I made this video (below) in the car after that follow-up appointment:

     Anyway, I won't be biting into turkey or anything this Christmas, but I am quite pleased with the variety in my liquid diet so far. Not just variety, though.... nutrition has been my top focus. Sufficient healthy calories, protein and fiber plus supplements to assist in my body's recovery such as nerve repair and to protect my muscles from significant loss... I am tempted to try blending a cookie and milk though ;-)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Talking & Eating After My Jaw Surgery

    I've had some people ask me how I am doing with speaking after surgery. Honestly, not so great. Well, I'm communicating effectively, but not necessarily speaking, per se. I made a video to demonstrate!

 (If the video doesn't show up, you can see it here)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jaw Surgery Video Update - 4 Days Post-Op

     I made this today (Saturday, Dec. 17th) before I put the jaw bra back on. It's basically just showing the swelling and all so I have a reference for later, but I'm sharing because I know, like me, there are many people who have to go through this and information I provide may help some.

Apparently the video is temperamental and doesn't work every time, so here's a link to it.

     Honestly, it looks far worse than it is.... I'm not going to be running marathons or over-exerting myself anytime soon but I don't feel as bad as I expected to feel....

A Few Days After Jaw Surgery...

     My surgery went well.  I went in early on December 13th for all the prep stuff and the last thing I remember before waking up was the nurse helping me with my bra because I had left it on. I'm like that... they're heavy. I didn't think it would be a problem haha

Part of my hospital wardrobe... I laughed at my "happy feet."

    Anyway... When I woke up it didn't really seem that traumatic... My husband gave me my phone and set up my iPad on the little cart so I could type into the Speak It! app.  You see, I anticipated being unable to speak clearly and I have this thing about being misunderstood.  So when I received the iPad last year for Christmas, Speak It! was one of the first apps I installed, knowing it would come in handy after surgery. Of course, at that time, I hadn't realized I'd be waiting a whole year before surgery.... but, it's done.

     There was a blood clot in my lower jaw or something so when I first woke up I had this tube coming out of my mouth. That's what that was for. 

I tried to put the video here but it seems to not work all the time. Here's a link to the video I made after surgery while sitting in the hospital overnight.

    I had to stay overnight, and yes, one night is common unless there are problems. I was so thirsty it was absolutely ridiculous!  I had a great nurse staff that helped me all night, though, and they sort of got a kick out of me because I was so "self-sufficient".

    Wednesday, my husband came to get me. First I had to see my surgeon again for x-rays and to have the blood clot tube thing removed. They gave me stitches for that spot so.... I don't actually even know how bad it looks. With my lips swollen, I'm not motivated enough to push them open to peak at my mouth and honestly, I'm probably better off not looking until it's healed some. After my x-rays they gave me the run-down on my medicine regimen and a whole ton of other things. They were all quite impressed with the Speak It! app, as well, and that was fun. When you remove the frustration of not being able to talk clearly (or at all) and the surgical team's frustration of not understanding you, things run a lot smoother. 

    I found it quite funny that the thing on my head is called a "jaw bra" and the surgical team was tasked with stuffing it full of gauze. (Haha! Seriously!? A stuffed jaw bra?!) Primarily, the gauze was to catch drool and all since my lips were swollen and my mouth was still kinda "eewww"... I started laughing but it hurt so bad haha so I typed in the Speak It! app so they could laugh about it too. It's a training hospital too so a lot of the doctors are getting their hands-on experience and I try to be understanding and keep the mood lighter...

    I must have been complimented a dozen times, though, on how it's so great I can still be so funny and positive even when I feel like crap. Honestly, I FEEL my body is working harder to recover, but I don't feel like "crap" completely. This is considerably easier to deal with than a cold or the flu, albeit longer. But things could have been worse. And.... if I can't keep my sense of humor at times when I need it most, I might as well just throw in the towel.

   Anyway... the swelling got worse on Thursday and probably Friday too, but that's common. Today, Saturday, it feels as if some of the swelling is going down, although slowly. There's no real "pain" but the tingling from the nerve trauma is a bit uncomfortable, especially when coupled with the swelling. I'm tired... but that's probably common too.  But I feel okay, with all things considered. It's actually a pleasant surprise because I expected to feel much worse.

Of all things I did in prep for surgery, I believe that cleaning out my kitchen was probably the smartest. When you can't talk and you can't eat, there's a lot of comfort in at least knowing you won't struggle to find stuff when you go to the kitchen to prepare your liquid meals...

My medicine regimen.
Honestly, though, I'm only really taking the Ibuprofen for inflammation, sudafed to prevent sinus trouble, a saline and medicated nose spray (also to prevent sinus trouble), and an antibiotic. They gave me medicine for nausea, medicine for constipation, medicine for pain, and even additional medicine for swelling... but most of that seemed unnecessary because I wasn't nauseous and I'm not constipated (i.e. from the diet change or from the medication) and the pain isn't enough to warrant taking something stronger than the Ibuprofen....

Oh, there's a Rx mouth wash too because it's difficult to brush at the moment. I'm supposed to still brush the parts of my teeth I can reach but I can't really reach much so I rinse with the mouth wash using a little angled syringe to do my best... 

And my syringe... I have several, but this one is my favorite. One of the night nurses made this for me using a different tube on the end. I believe this is a nose tube haha, but it is firmer than the other tubes the surgeon gave me and shorter so I feel there's more control.

For the record, I am NOT a Redskins fan, The cup is from a football game we went to last year but it's stable and convenient at 32oz. so I can keep track of how much water I'm drinking...

Thursday December 15th -

Friday December 16th -

This was moments before the pouch exploded and the contents flew up and plopped right in my lap!
Personally, I find the syringe easier but a lot of people like the pouches better so I gave it a try.

Saturday December 17th - without the jaw bra on, after washing up. It's really not as bad as it looks, I think.

A lot of the swelling makes it difficult to see what happened to the bones. I'm getting the photos and x-rays and all from my surgeon later and going to add them to one of my larger sites. But for now, there is a difference. I can see it and feel it and it was nice that my husband made several comments about it too... Guys aren't always to most observant but, if he can see a difference and know it'll be an improvement then I trust something was done right :-) 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bodhi Day 2011

     As the National Buddhism Examiner for, I write articles about Buddhism and Buddhist Teachings. I try to include a variety of topics, and sometimes I fall behind on publishing new articles, but I have been working on improving my consistency.

    Today marks the 8th day of the 12th month, and although I'm referring to the Gregorian calendar, this day is now commonly celebrated as Bodhi Day among Buddhist sects in Japan and other regions. I am a member of Soto-shu Buddhism, which is Zen Buddhism from Japan, and specifically I am part of the Soto Mission of Hawaii.
    Bodhi Day marks the Buddha's Enlightenment and as such, it's a big deal to Buddhism although not a "big" holiday. When I first went to my temple, it was in December 2007 and the minister was telling me about Bodhi Day. His service that week would celebrate Bodhi Day along with the regular service. Coming from a Catholic background I made the comparison, saying, "So.... it's like the Buddhist Christmas?" It was funny but not completely far off since both are meant to celebrate an important event that's central to a belief system; for Buddhists, it's the Enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha and thus the creation of Buddhism, while for Christians, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus (even though many have decided Jesus was actually born in the spring -- but that's a different story for a different day).
     I wrote about Bodhi Day last year but when I went and reviewed the article I found it somewhat lacking. I wrote what I believe is a better article for this year's Bodhi Day, although I will probably find that one lacking next year. And that's okay! Like all other Buddhists, I am forever learning more and more about being Buddhist and as I learn my opinion and views change (sometimes). I would be disappointed in myself and my personal growth if I look back on this article next year and think it's "perfect" haha....

     Anyway, Happy Bodhi Day! I will miss the services in my temple this weekend because I have lived on the mainland for the past 2 years, but I will eventually return. In the meantime, I continue learning and I continue trying.... and perhaps one day I will attain Enlightenment too (^^)v

Here is a link to my Examiner article for Bodhi Day 2011  At the bottom of that article I have links to some of my other National Buddhism Examiner articles that relate to Bodhi Day, for those who may be interested.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Preparing for Jaw Surgery & Liquid Diet

                For my procedure, I will have both my upper and lower jaws operated on in order to correct my bite. There are a lot of risks with stuff like this, but primarily the big risks are permanent nerve damage and TMJ issues. TMJ issues involve the joint that attaches the lower jaw, which I already have occasional trouble with since the first time I had braces so I figured it can’t get much worse. The permanent nerve damage could be in my face or in my lips or just in part of my face or lips, but this is apparently “rare” for most people, but the risk increases as you get older.

Liquid Diet for 6 Weeks!

                Following the surgery I will have to stay on a liquid-only diet for 6 weeks, followed by 6 more weeks of liquids and soft foods only. During the first 6 weeks I’ll have a sort of bite-guard wired to my upper jaw (I think) to force me to adjust to my new bite and all liquids are consumed through a syringe (no cups, no straws). So… it’s probably not going to be much fun.

                I worried about nutrition, though, so I have taken time to compile and adjust recipes for the liquid diet to make sure I’m getting enough micro and macro nutrients. I want to give my body the best fighting chance at a full recovery!

Information on Jaw Surgery

                I also, like many, scoured the web looking for what other people have done. I found a lot of people who complained of only being able to eat chicken broth or canned Ensure during their liquid diet. I would not survive on that!  I decided that when I finish my menu I’m going to put it into a PDF with all my recipes, nutrition info, tips, and FAQs from my work with my surgeon so I can share it with others who may be in the same situation. I am also getting all of my photos, images, and information from my surgeon so I can show just how bad my open-bite got and how the surgery improved it (knock on wood!).

                My surgery is going to be a week from tomorrow, on December 13th… I was initially told I’d be ready for surgery in December of LAST YEAR, so it’s been a frustrating journey, and I’m really anxious about having the surgery done now but I’ll be so glad when it’s behind me! I might be stuck on a liquid diet throughout the holidays, but I see it as “temporary discomfort for improved long-term quality of life!”

                For anyone that stumbles on this blog post looking for information on jaw surgery, what to expect, or information for help getting through the liquid diet during recovery – stay tuned! I’ll post a link to my site when I finish the page. If you need the info sooner, leave a comment and I’ll email you the information. Thanks!

My Road to Jaw Surgery... So Far!

                When I was a teenager, like many people, I wore braces. I wore them for about 2 years. They were pretty awful but I dealt with them. The braces came off when I was about 18-years-old and I was given a set of retainers…. But it wasn’t enough. The braces worked to straighten my teeth and temporarily close my open-bite, but over the course of about 10 years my teeth moved, and moved, and moved… and moved some more. Finally, I had reached a point where I was only able to chew food with 4 teeth in the way back on both sides. The saddest part? I still had all four wisdom teeth so you can imagine how uncomfortable that is if that’s all you can chew with.

Braces as an Adult

                Last year I decided it was time to seek treatment… again. I had noticed that my speech was starting to be affected by the open bite, so even if the chewing wasn’t bad enough, the speech difficulty was enough to push me to see an orthodontist. On top of that, I had started grinding my teeth more while I slept because they weren’t lining up properly, and that was causing a whole mess of problems all on its own!

                I went to an orthodontist hoping to get something like Invisalign haha…. Good luck!  They immediately informed me that my problem isn’t “tongue thrust” as I was always told. That problem is actually somewhat “archaic” and the real cause of my open-bite and problems was a malformed jaw. Basically, as I grew up my jaw grew (or didn’t grow) as it was supposed to and the result is my chronic open-bite and subsequent eating, speaking and bruxing (grinding) issues.

                The orthodontist explained that I would need traditional braces which would actually make my open-bite worse while preparing my jaw for surgery. Surgery would then fix the alignment and sizing issues to correct my bite permanently and the braces would complete their work straightening any uneven teeth afterward.

Orthognathic Surgery

                Now… I can’t speak for everyone in this situation, but when some doctor tells you that the only way to fix your teeth is to literally remove your jaw from your skull and reshape it…. There’s a bit of panic! But, I took my referral and went to my regular doctor to have the referral put into the healthcare system so I could see a surgeon and be evaluated. Once the surgeon evaluated me and I was given the approval that the surgery would be covered by my insurance, I went back to the orthodontist for braces to start the process.

                Initially, I was told that I would have braces put on in July 2010 and by December 2010 I’d be ready for surgery. Well, I had braces put on in July 2010 and by December I went back to my surgeon to find that my surgeon had been reassigned and I now had a new surgeon. This is common in military healthcare facilities so I let it slide and went through the evaluation with the second surgeon. He told me I wasn’t yet ready for surgery and I would need my wisdom teeth extracted. The kicker is – when they extract your wisdom teeth, you have to wait at least 6 months for surgery to allow the bones to heal!  I went in for the teeth to be pulled in March 2011, and they took only the bottom wisdom teeth. I had been under the impression all four were coming out, but they explained (with thumb-popping motion and all!) that if the upper wisdom teeth need to come out, they can just “Pop!” them out during surgery haha….

Still Not Ready for Surgery!

                So, I waited. I waited until September which was 6 months from the extraction and when I went back I again had a new surgeon. I was frustrated but remained as pleasant as possible. Flipping out or getting upset wouldn’t make me feel any better and it certainly wouldn’t make them work any more efficiently, so it seemed pointless. This third surgeon seemed a bit more capable, though. But again, I wasn’t ready!! 

FINALLY Approved for Jaw Surgery!

                I gave disapproving looks as they explained that my teeth just weren’t quite where they needed to be yet. This was quite frustrating because I was having more and more trouble speaking comfortably and eating because of the wider open-bite. But, I had to be understanding. I certainly didn’t want them to rush my procedure and screw up! So I went back to the orthodontist for more adjustments and when I returned to the surgeon in November I was given my approval for surgery!

                But… then the reality of the situation sets in and I started to stress out and worry a lot. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

True Citrus - Drink More Water... And Like It!

     As many who interact with me often know, I am always striving to improve. One thing I always struggled with (among many!) is drinking enough water. FDA and nutritionists and doctors and trainers and people off the street will tell you, "Drink eight cups of water a day." Well, eight cups is 64-ounces and for a long time I'd be lucky if I reached even half that amount.

     With my workouts increasing in intensity and frequency, I find that my body naturally craves more water. Not at first, mind you, but over time. When you're working out for 45 to 75 minutes a day, 6 to 7 days a week, you start listening to your body when it tells you it needs something because when you ignore it, you FEEL the punishment during your next workout.

    When I don't get enough water, it's not just my body that struggles, it's the numbers on the scale. My weight can fluctuate more than 5 lbs in a single day when I skimp on water!!! I know a lot of people don't believe that water-weight stuff, and the numbers may vary for everyone, but for me it's pretty noticeable.
    I get tired of water though. And I can't stand the taste of sugar-free drink mixes... they're all too sweet and full of weird colors and flavors I just don't find appealing. Adding lemon or lime wedges to water isn't quite enough for me either.... but it seemed like there was nothing in between. Everything was either too much or not enough.
     I originally tried this with Splenda w/Fiber but I have since cut that out of my regular diet, except for a little I add to fruit. I tried different kinds of Stevia, and I tend to find Truvia the most appealing. Now, I know a lot of people have problems with Truvia and argue for the use of straight, natural Stevia... and I hear their arguments and acknowledge them. But I like Truvia so I use it. (I do use natural Stevia drops in coffee, though, and to sweeten yogurt.)

    I came across these packets of crystallized lemon juice one day at the grocery store called True Lemon. I had bought them for a while to use in iced tea, but then the company started making more flavors and I decided to step it up a notch. The True Citrus Company now makes True Lemon, True Lime, True Orange, and True Grapefruit... plus a lemonade and raspberry lemonade sweetened drink mix using Stevia. They're not all available everywhere, and they generally run about $4-$5 a box (of 32 packets) in the area I live in right now. That gets pricey over time, but I'll come back to that in a moment.
     So I started experimenting and eventually decided I like to use a 20-ounce cup and one packet of any of the True Citrus flavors. I sweeten to taste with 1 to 3 packets of Truvia, depending on how I feel at that moment and I find that by doing this I'm able to consume well over 100-ounce of water a day. On average, I fill my 20-ounce cup about eight times a day, so that's about 160-ounces of water. Can you do the math?  That's almost 300% the "daily recommended" amount, and I'll tell ya -- it makes a difference!
     Anyway, back to the price. Truvia is also WICKED expensive so I'm still working on cutting costs there. But I found that the True Citrus Company sells packets right from their website and in bulk quantities they're cheaper than buying from the grocery store. They also have a special offer code to add a free box of lemon, lime, or orange to your order. So I finally placed an order! I got 150 packets of True Lime in a neat box that opens like a display, 100 packets of True Lemon in a similar display box, an I ordered a lemonade kit with two boxes each lemonade and raspberry lemonade. I saw the True Grapefruit and decided to try one box of that as well, and used the code to get a free box of True Orange. Shipping was reasonable and the package came within the week.
     But the real surprise was when the package arrived. I do a LOT of online shopping and I have only been impressed by the way something was packaged and shipped to me one time before this. A couple of years ago when I placed my first order with, the books were wrapped and shipped to me as if they held personal significance to the person who packed and shipped them, and I thanked the company for such care. The True Citrus Order came in a box filled with quality packing material to keep everything safe. There was a letter from the VP of Customer Relations telling me more about their products (in case I was new, I imagine) and a second sheet of 20 tips for using the True Citrus packets. They also included two sample packets of the True Grapefruit to try, since that is their newest flavor.
     I was so surprised at the care that went into packing that order, I think I spent about 30 minutes telling my husband about it. I couldn't find the words to describe it, so for lack of a better phrase -- it seemed truly packed with love! I not only saved money by buying from the company's website, I received my order fast and it was packed and shipped with such care that you would have thought it a fine China set.... not packets of crystallized fruit juice. It's just one of those things that made me stop and think, and it made me happy that  my purchases, though somewhat small, help support a company that really cares about their products.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What Next...?

          Now that I've completed my graduate program ~ though I won't find out I actually passed my exams and graduate for a few weeks ~ I've been working on a schedule for myself.  When I have a deadline for something, I tend to work more efficiently so I thought a schedule would help since now all of my time is my OWN, with school over.
        Even though there have been changes to Examiner, I want to continue writing for them but I find that it is one of the hardest places for me to be motivated to write for when the income is relatively low.  I set up my schedule to include Examiner writing on Sunday for 90 minutes, plus an hour a day Monday through Thursday after lunch. I imagine that, if I create a list of article topics in advance, this should allow me to maintain a minimum of two articles per week per Examiner position (I have four).

       Demand Studios is my favorite place to write because it's where I make the bulk of my income (naturally my favorite haha).  I recognize, however, that I don't want to rush my articles for them, nor do I want to sacrifice Demand time to write for other less-economical sites, so I have created my schedule to write Demand articles six days per week for about four hours each day - Monday through Saturday from about 8am to noon.  After writing for Demand I break for lunch then work on Examiner articles Monday - Thursday for an hour.

       Web design is a sort of passion now, for me.  I had to learn to do it and I've grown to love it.  But it's TIME CONSUMING and once I start, I rarely get anything else done haha.  So, since I want web design to be on my schedule I've limited myself to Friday afternoons and Sunday mornings.  So Sundays I'll write Examiner articles for 60-90 minutes then do web design for a bit; Fridays I'll write for Demand till noon, have lunch, then do web design till dinner.  Works out neatly, for me.

Now for the BIG stuff....

       My Novel!  I may have mentioned here before, but now that I'm done with school (at least for now) I'm going to write a novel.  I've had ideas for a long time, and I've wanted to write a novel since I won a Young Author's Award in the 2nd Grade for my story "Sparky the Fire Dog" (stop laughing, it rocked!).
      Since I work for myself, my time is my own and I'm scheduling in a couple of hours a few days a week for my novel only :-)  I noticed something, though.  When I work (freelance writing), I do all my research and writing at my desk and my mind goes into "work mode" when I sit down.  I don't want to write my novel at my desk because I feel like my creativity is shut off and I focus too much on content, standard writing styles (for the websites I write for) and factual information - not really the best for creative fiction.

       So I've been working on a writing space ~ sort of like a fort in my living room except I'm not using sofa cushions.  I'm turning one corner of my living room into a faux cafe with a bistro table where I can write in my "cafe" instead.  It sort of changes the feel for me (and my creative mind) so.... we'll see how that works out!  I'll post pictures once I finish :-)
       I won't be posting information about the novel details, simply because I feel that would be counterproductive for myself.  I will, however, offer a select few the opportunity to read and critique it once finished - so far my baby sister and 2 or 3 friends have volunteered.  I have decided I will NOT self-publish.... I'd rather never publish than self-publish.  But I will work hard to find representation and have my novel published and hope that leads to the opportunity for more fiction writing because it is a true passion of mine.  Assuming I succeed, I'll be holding contests on my websites for signed copies and other cool prizes :-)

      My other big thing is my podcast.  Although I'm a bit off right now because my speech is affected by my braces, I'm working on a podcast which I'll design a new website for.  I'd like to make the podcast short, maybe 10-15 minutes, and eventually do a new one daily.  I'll be organizing myself during the podcast to maximize my own productivity and boost my own motivation for the day and offering tips, suggestions, and other tools to help others become more efficient as well.  I used to struggle a LOT with efficiency - so I'm eager to help others learn what I have.  I'll record my podcasts from my "cafe" as well :-)

      If the morning podcast works out I may add a shorter afternoon one every now and again, 3-5 minutes, sort of like a "second wind" podcast to push through the rest of the day.  So - watch for news on that as well!

A Preemptive Congratulations...

         I took my Comprehensive Exams (for graduation) the week of May 31st. Ironically, that was the same week I had to go to North Carolina for my sister-in-law's wedding and because of the holiday (Memorial Day) I didn't have access to my exam until Tuesday.... so it was a bit of a stressful week!
         Most of the exam I completed before we left for North Carolina, but I had to finish it in the hotel there. If I'd been home the whole week I would have been finished in 2 to 3 days but instead I took the whole week for the exam. Oh well!  At least it's done :-)
       Now I just wait.... and wait.... and wait a bit more until they read and grade the exams.  Mine was 54 pages when I submitted it.  Apparently, only about 30% of the students pass immediately, the first try with the exam.  Another 40% or so pass with revision.  I've had mostly A's throughout the program, however, and I do write for a living so I'd like to think I'll be in that 30% and pass the first time.
       My husband got me a "preemptive congratulations" cake to celebrate.  (hmmm, the picture didn't load as big as I thought... it says, "A Preemptive Congratulations" in the middle).
       Basically just celebrating that I completed the exam haha.  He said, "I can't imagine having to write 54 pages.... I'd fail that."  Honestly, it wasn't like I aimed for 54 pages though.  During a review session one of the instructors said the average length is 30 to 50 pages so I figured I'd set up my word document to respond to every part of the exam questions (in essay form, mostly) and if it passed 30 pages I was good.  I tried not to fluff it up with useless content too, so those 54 pages are about the bare minimum for what I needed to respond to the questions.
       All in all, I do feel a great sense of accomplishment.  Granted, half-way through the program I realized Forensic Psychology is not what I thought it was, but I had already committed to the program (and the student loans!) so I finished it.  After all, a Masters Degree is still a Masters Degree and shouldn't be knocked just because I was slightly disappointed in the topic.
       I'm so glad to be back home though!  I need my routine so I function optimally - geez! I sound like a piece of equipment haha.  What I mean is, I have a routine and that allows me to reach maximum productivity when not interrupted.  That's partly why I complain a lot during the week if I have to run a lot of errands or go to a lot of appointments.... I don't complain "here" but I complain haha.
       When I'm uninterrupted, however, I am extremely efficient in my work and that allows me plenty of time for things like reviewing my Japanese, working on my websites, and simply relaxing with a book for FUN for a change.

Monday, April 18, 2011

TurboFire - 2 Weeks in...

       I was sick for a couple months on and off, and a lot of it was just from school stress but my workouts suffered a bit. I started using TurboJam which I had only recently purchased. I figured, I had so many other Beachbody programs I should get that one too.

       TurboJam is so much fun!!!  It's fast, compared to some the other Beachbody programs, but it's easy to learn and catch on to. I started with Slim in 6 originally, and Power 90 which I consider "beginner level" (both of them). Anyone can do them and anyone can benefit from them whether you're working out now or not.

TurboJam and ChaLEAN Extreme

       TurboJam was not my first Chalene Johnson program, I had been using ChaLEAN Extreme for a couple rounds and loved my results. And TurboJam is no where near as tough as the toughest programs I've used, namely Shaun T's Insanity. But it's fun. TurboJam infomercials boast about the "hip music" and I have to say, it's probably time for an upgrade on that program because a lot of the music is about 20 years old haha, but it's still fun to listen to and the moves are energizing.  It's the type of workout where you feel refreshed and rejuvenated when finished - like you're ready to tackle anything else in your day!

      Anyway, so I used TurboJam for like 7 or 8 weeks to sort of relax between tough workouts while I decided on what to do next. My husband wanted to use P90X, which we've had for a while but haven't used completely. I've done a few of the workouts from it here and there, sort of sampling it.  We have a pull-up bar but now that we're back in apartments it's tough to mount the pull-up bar securely... let's just say it's not worth the risk of injury or damage :-)

      We invested in a pull-up bar tower, or station, whatever you want to call it; those stands in the corner of the gym with the pull-up bar on one side and arm rests for ab workouts on the other. So that's assembled and waiting for my husband to start P90X with, but I wasn't feeling it.  I love all the Beachbody Trainers and I love the results they produce and the structure of the programs, all the effort that goes into their design and the quality of the products.... but I'm a girl and Tony Horton just doesn't motivate me to "push play" every day for three months on end.  I can do it, with other motivation, but at this time I just wanted something new.  I had contemplated getting Insanity: The Asylum, but it's only a 30 day program and I felt like I wanted something completely different.

Starting TurboFire

       So I asked a friend about TurboFire.  She told me her results (12 lbs in the 12 weeks, without following the eating plan, plus major inches lost!) and she explained that it was similar to TurboJam but faster and felt more efficient, if that makes sense.  I decided to give it a try.  I only had a couple weeks left of school, exams in mid-May but they won't be a problem, and I was only a couple weeks from my 30th birthday... so I decided to splurge and give myself the TurboFire program.  A splurge it was because even with my Coach discount I spent a good $100 or so on it, but I feel "worth it" :-)

      The package arrived and I went through all the information, looked at the schedules, looked at the TurboTracker, looked at the workout titles (ex. Fire 45 Class, Fire 55 EZ Class, HIIT 15, Stretch 40...) and decided rather than think about it I was just going to jump right in.  I changed and put the first workout on the calendar in the DVD player and pushed play. 

TurboFire Workouts

       Let me just say, yes, the moves are a lot like TurboJam moves, but the speed is something from another planet!!!  If I hadn't taken the time to get comfortable with TurboJam first, TurboFire would have intimidated me to the point of contemplating sending it back.  BUT, for the record, there is a special section on each DVD menu that says "New to Class" and if you do that instead of the main workout option Chalene stops in between segments and shows you each set of moves, slowly so you can understand and catch on, then switches back to the workout for the full speed segment.
       I was sold, though, after the first workout. TurboFire was exactly what I had hoped for and exactly what I needed :-)
       I had sent for the 3-Day Trial of Jenny Craig believing that we would both (my husband and I) be trying it for a few months. During my first week of TurboFire I noticed right away that I cannot get by on 1200 calories of Jenny Craig food and keep up with my workouts.  Recovery Formula helped me get through the workouts, drinking it during the workout rather than after, but I needed to do some diet tweeking for sure.  I talked to a Jenny Craig consultant and learned that they do adjust the calories for people like us that do a lot of working out already, but the cost was just a bit too much.  We decided that we weren't both going to try it. 

TurboFire Eating Plan

      I went through the TurboFire "Fuel the Fire" nutrition plan guide and decided it was worth a shot.  Here's the thing, in the past I always TRIED the eating plans that came with the Beachbody programs but after like a week or two I'd sort of slip.  There is something different about the one with TurboFire though.  It's as if all the previous plans were steps to creating a more-efficient, easier to follow eating plan.  I loved it!  I immediately opened a menu template and created a plan for the week.  If I can do it for just one week, I can make a real judgment call on it, right?

     I created my menu, went to the store for anything I didn't have and - get this! - I can eat according to the TurboFire nutrition plan for less than $100 a week, which is like 1/3 of what Jenny Craig would have cost me and less than I had been spending already!  I stuck to the plan for the one week menu I made and felt incredible!  I had the energy I needed for my workouts, I had the balanced nutrition I desired for health and weightloss, and I didn't feel deprived at all.  Not only did I not feel deprived, I had to eat more than I usually was eating and that was an adjustment... but not a bad one :-)
    So I've made the official decision to stick out the TurboFire eating plan with the TurboFire program.  I got the Advanced workout discs as well so I am actually on a 20 week schedule instead of a 12 week (90 day) schedule with the classic program.  I am also impressed that the program includes sculpting and toning workouts in the regular and advanced workouts because I had thought it was all cardio, which was my initial reason for avoiding it in the past.  I've never been so happy to be WRONG!

     I'm on my second week of the TurboFire nutrition plan and feeling great still.  I even plan my snacks because if I don't, I won't eat them.  I balance the menu to allow me to make similar salads or vegetable dishes for dinner or meals we share that coincide with my husband's Jenny Craig plan also... I know for a lot of people, eating differently seems like too much work, but it's really more do-able than most would think.
TurboFire Results
     How are my results so far?  I'm not usually the type to look for results after only two weeks of a program, but I started to notice changes already and decided it was worth checking measurements and weight even though it's only Week 3 Day 1 of TurboFire.....
Drum roll please....

      I am down 3.4 lbs and 5 1/2 inches in 2 weeks!!! Those 5 1/2 inches include 3/4 inch from my waist, 1 inch from each thigh, and a full inch off the widest part of my hips!  I'm actually dropping BELOW the weight I've struggled to pass for the past 3 years, it's been like a nightmare-plateau and TurboFire has started pushing me through it....

Being a Beachbody Coach
     This is why I do what I do.  This is why I LOVE Beachbody, LOVE the Beachbody trainers, LOVE the company, LOVE the products (ex. Shakeology, Results & Recovery Formula), and LOVE sharing my experiences and knowledge as a Coach with others in hopes of inspiring others to make the same cahnges I have made.... to break life-long bad habits, to stop making excuses and start making changes, and to recognize that it's never too late to renew your relationship with yourself and what better way to show your body that you care than by giving your nutrition intake a make-over and giving your body a workout it can enjoy. 
     People ask me all the time how I find the energy, the time, the motivation to workout... these are people who haven't learned to love their workouts yet.  I hated working out, the very idea of going to the gym put the most obnoxious frown on my face.... but I've come to not only love my workouts, I look forward to them and I MAKE the time for them every day.  My workouts helped me beat depression and anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems, digestive problems, migraines, and more... and I becaem a Beachbody Coach so I can encourage, inspire, and help others make positive changes.... one small step at a time.... like I did!

Want Help With Your Weight-loss Journey?
      Now that school is ending in less than 6 days, I'm working on re-vamping my websites and becoming more active with my business as a Beachbody Coach.  Anyone who is interested in making their health and fitness more efficient - less time wasted with improved results - or making improvements to health and fitness with simple steps that get you to your goals, I encourage you to check out my website and watch for updates because I'll be adding a lot over the next couple of weeks.  I'm also looking for a few people who may be interested in working from home, increasing their own accountability in their own health and fitness journeys for maximum results, and interested in sharing their experiences with others to motivate and encourage people to make positive changes in their lives too. 


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vegetarianism and Buddhism

     When I first became interested in Buddhism, one of the misconceptions I held was that all Buddhists were vegetarians.  While, in hindsight, this seems unrealistic, it is a common cause of questions among new Buddhists.  I thought I'd write about it today for my Buddhism Examiner position and I included a personal note on my own experience with vegetarian diets at the end of the article.

     As always, feel free to post or email questions, here or on the articles, and I will try to respond to messages, questions, or comments in a timely manner.  Questions asked will sometimes become Examiner articles if the question is a common one often asked, or if it's an interesting one that I feel others may benefit from sharing.  (^-^)v

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Articles on Japanese Culture, Japan, Buddhism, and Vegetarianism

Japanese Culture Examiner Articles

     These articles are, as the title would suggest, related to current events so to post a bunch of links here for news already past would seem silly.  If interested, the articles can be found here and I will post more regularly so bookmark me!

National Buddhism Examiner Articles

This one I feel like I got off track a bit.  I had it all planned out then sat down to write it and realized, it's a difficult topic to really approach in a short article!  Not my "best" but I tried to keep it coherent...

These two go together and are in response to a request I received to write about Buddhist meditation.

Vegetarian Examiner Articles
     Though my Vegetarian Examiner position is "local" to Fairfax County in Northern Virginia, some of the articles I publish are general or universal, I simply find ways to localize them "enough"...

Almost Done!

     So I managed two more A's for the first two courses I took this semester, which ended last week.  And I started my absolute last two grad school classes last Friday! They're not going to be easy, but they won't be extremely difficult either... if that makes sense.  One is basically a structured research paper which I'll research and write over the next seven weeks; the other is a course on ethical problems in forensic psychology.  Ethics seem easy, but they can get complicated.

     I seriously can't wait to graduate though - I like having more time to work and school sucks up a lot of my time right now so I work less.  BUT I do manage to get in some writing, and I'm trying to keep up with my Examiner posts each week, at last as best I can.  Some weeks, I fail miserably, but I aim for at least one post in each with a goal of two or more for each Examiner position.

   I published a few that I haven't posted here so I'll give some updates then post links.  First, I don't think I posted here yet but I now hold four Examiner positions: Fairfax County Vegetarian Examiner, National Buddhism Examiner, National Japan Headlines Examiner, and National Japanese Culture Examiner. 

   At first, it was tough just writing for the one local vegetarian position, because I'm not from this area and it seemed difficult keeping up with the 2 articles a week.  I added the National Buddhism Examiner position and my writing frequency increased but still fell off here and there.  Then I saw the two Japan-related positions and snagged them both!  Now, I seem to be doing much better at keeping up with them, and constantly improving.  Last week I was a bit sick, plus stressed with the end of the first half of the semester and start of the second half, but I'm picking back up again.

    The Buddhism Examiner articles are my most popular, by far, so I hope to bring the other three positions up to the same level of popularity.  I'm always open for ideas or suggestions, questions to answer in articles, or requests for certain topics related to the different writing positions!

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's on my list of things to do....

Is it? Is it really? Do you actually write your goals down?
Did you know that people who write down their goals (daily to-do lists, short term goals, long term goals, etc) are significantly more likely to achieve or accomplish their goals than people who use "mental lists" and "mental notes to self"??

Did you know that people who are more efficient in life with managing their time, getting tasks done, being productive, AND still managing time for things they WANT to do (e.g. hobbies, travel, relax, TV, etc) are generally happier, healthier, and require a lot less time on a therapist's couch?
Yeah, that's right... they also tend to feel more productive, more successful, and have less stress, better sleep patterns, and better relationships with others.

"Until you commit your goals to paper, you have intentions that are seeds without soil."

I write down a list every morning (or the night before) of everything I need or want to do that day (the next day).
This gives me a road map of what my time management needs to look like.

I keep the goals realistic - I don't write down more than I can realistically accomplish in one day.
I also keep the goals (or to-do list items) specific, which for me is the key to getting them done.
For example, I don't write down "Clean the kitchen" or "Write 12 articles" or "Get homework done"

I write down things like:
  • Wipe down the kitchen counters
  • Wipe off the stove
  • Empty dishwasher and clean the dishes
  • Do assignment 3 for Module 5 (homework)
  • Read pages .... to ..... (homework)
  • Dust the TV stand and speakers
  • Dust the bookcase
  • Vacuum the living room
  • ......
  • ......
  • etc.
For my work-related items, I write down the company the articles are for, then make a list of the article titles so I can cross each off as I finish them:
Demand Studios
  • How to Fit Dimmer Switches
  • How to Make a Martha Washington Costume
  • .....
  • ......
  • ......
  • etc.
And I make the list to include at least 10 articles, if that's what I plan to write that day. Then write down another company, such as the Examiner, and write the titles or topics of articles I'll write for those positions... and so forth.

Do you have children? By teaching them to do this, you can reduce frustration with school and life later! They are never too young to start learning to be more organized and more efficient with their life management, or perhaps "clock management" (like in Football haha).

Help your children lay out plans for their school assignments, working on long projects little by little (e.g. read 10 pages a day, but write the page numbers down for each day's list) and you will save yourself a TON of arguments later and help your children work more efficiently which will make them more productive when they become adults and have careers.

For my daily to-do lists, I can use an App on my phone or iPad, but I prefer to use index cards and paper. For school assignments, household tasks, or running errands, I write my to-do list on the blank side of a ruled 3-by-5 index card, holding it with the 3-inch sides on the top and bottom, resembling a small sheet of paper. I prefer the ruled index cards because they seem stiffer and more durable than the completely blank ones.

For my work assignments, whether writing or web design or Coach tasks, I fold an 8.5-by-11 inch piece of paper in half and write the day's list out on one side. This allows me to turn the paper over and write on the other side the next day, and use the inside for notes while researching articles for the day, or for tomorrow's work.

I also use colored pens. Staples sells these clear plastic boxes of 7mm tip gel pens and I use those to write out my tasks. I use a different color for different work sites; for example, I'll write my Demand Studios assignments in dark blue, then my Examiner assignments in purple, Suite101 in pink, Experts123 in dark green, and so forth.

When I cross out a completed task, I use a black marker and put a line right through it! This shows me I finished, and it's a visual representation of the work I accomplished in one day!!