Candi Cares

Encouragement, motivation, discussions on health & wellness, financial advice and love. All packaged in a nice little blog and sent from me to you.

Change is Inevitable. Suffering is optional.

“Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”

In May of 2008, I remember sitting in my office working on a spreadsheet and suddenly, the room started spinning.  Imagine the feeling you get after getting off of a rollercoaster and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  I went home early that day and went to sleep, only to wake up the next morning seeing two of everything.  Let me tell you, turning on the television and seeing two Matt Lauer’s staring back at you is crazy weird.  But it went away as quickly as it came, and I shrugged it off as something related to my contacts.

I called my mom, because she’s a nurse and told her about my vision that morning.  She wanted me to get checked out immediately.  I, of course, felt she was being the typical Mother and overreacting, but I made an appointment with my doctor anyway.

My doctor did the exam, and told me that he thought everything was okay, but said I should get an MRI, just to be absolutely sure. I had never been in an MRI machine before, so I was actually looking forward to getting the scan.  Oh, how naïve I was back then. (FYI, if you’re claustrophobic, ask for something to relax you….you’re welcome in advance for this unsolicited advice! Lol.)

I got a call the next day from my doctor.  “The scan found something,” he tells me.  “I want you to see a Neurologist so he can discuss the findings.”

At this point, I’m still oblivious to how serious this is.  The absolute look of terror on my mom’s face should have been an indication, but, again, I thought she was reacting like any mother would react when given less than stellar news about their child.

We go in to see the Neurologist, and twenty minutes into the visit he says to me, “Yeah, you have some disease activity…..looks like Multiple Sclerosis.  We probably should do a spinal tap.”

Blink.  Blink.  Long Stare.

I’m sorry……..come again? I must have had something in my ear.  I thought I heard you say I had MS.  You know, the disease that causes people not to be able to walk or care for themselves….am I on candid camera??? 

And then I went a little nuts.  Because this cannot be happening.  I’m 25 years old!  I’m young! I’m supposed to have my whole life ahead of me! Is this some type of sick joke?

He tells me “not to worry” and that most likely I won’t be affected until I’m much older. You just may need a wheelchair by the time your forty.  That’s at least twenty years from now….want a pill to help you sleep tonight given what I just told you?” (Note to self:  Look into giving a course to doctor’s on how to break bad news to patients.)  

I remember being so low.  So incredibly low that I felt I had no one to turn to.  My parents couldn’t take it away.  My friends couldn’t take it away.  I felt completely alone and scared as hell.   I didn’t want to eat.  I didn’t want to sleep.  I just wanted to cry and scream and cry some more and throw things.

I was pissed off at God.  I was pissed off at life.  Woe is me, was my new mantra.

I remember that I started listening to Charles Stanley’s (my favorite preacher) sermons on the computer.  I started reading my Bible.  I decided that if God had done this to get my attention, then boy was he going to get an earful from me.  And then during one of my screaming sessions with God, I remember being overcome with a feeling of peace.  It was the first time since I got the news that I felt like I was going to be okay.  I can’t really explain it, but I can totally relate to the biblical saying “peace that surpasses all understanding.”  That is what I felt that day.

I remember going with my parents to get a second opinion.  I was able to see the top Neurologist dealing with Multiple Sclerosis in the area.  I was prepared for him to tell me that I would be in a wheelchair.  I was prepared for him to tell me that my hopes of husband, family, playing with my children and traveling were over.

He told me quite the opposite.  He looked me in the eyes and said what I wanted to hear so badly “Yes, there is something going on.  Yes your life will be a bit different.  But you will be fine.”

He went on to explain that attitude is everything when it comes to how well people handle this horrible disease.  He told me that it affected everyone differently and that other than beginning to inject myself every week (joy), that there was nothing else that I needed to do other than get enough rest and take care of myself.  “We’ll take each day as it comes,” he told me.

Before this diagnosis, I thought that I had control.  I lived in that fantasy world where nothing bad happens to you and everything is butterflies and rainbows.  When you are faced with a devastating diagnosis you are forced to grow up fast.  Things that once were so important just aren’t anymore.  Things that used to make you upset don’t even phase you.

I was really reluctant to share this post today, but God had on my heart for me to do it and I strive to be obedient.  I started this blog to uplift and encourage others who go through the same struggles that I go through and to help you know that you are not alone.  I have accepted that in order to do that, I will have to be “transparent” in a sense, so that others can see themselves through my experiences.  I want to give a voice to those who don’t yet have the strength to speak for themselves.

It’s been 4 ½ years since that initial diagnosis, and by the Grace of God I have been symptom free ever since.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me, but I know that whatever it has in store, that I am equipped to handle it.   I wanted to end this post by sharing with you all what going through this experience has taught me.

– I have learned to be a little kinder to people.  To be a little more forgiving.  You truly have no idea what someone may be facing personally.  Give people the benefit of the doubt as often as you can.

– I have learned that patience is indeed a virtue.  Not everything in life comes to you exactly when you want it to.  Things take time.  Relax.  Everything happens exactly when it should happen.

– I have learned to let go of those things that I cannot control.   When you are told that tomorrow you could wake up and not be able to see or walk, you gain a new perspective on life.  I only focus on what I can control today (things like my happiness, eating right, exercise and getting enough sleep).  I let tomorrow worry about itself.

– I have learned to laugh as often and I can, and never to allow life’s issues to “stress me out.”  At the end of the day, nothing is worth sacrificing my health and my happiness.  It truly isn’t that serious.

– I have learned to go after my dreams today, because you really don’t know if tomorrow is promised. You only have this moment.  Make the most of it.

And most importantly, I have learned that God really won’t put more on you than you can bear.  That he is who he says he is.  And that he is with you through every single storm of your life.  He never changes.  And every test and trial is an opportunity for him to show his greatness through you.

You can’t have a testimony without a TEST.  And this is my life’s test.  My goal is to forever share my testimony of living my best life, no matter what obstacles have been placed in my path, and to do it with a smile on my face and hope in my heart.

And to my fellow struggler’s, know that you are NEVER alone.  No matter what your cross is to bear, you have God and you have me here rooting for you!  You will be victorious!

 

Be Blessed!

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Quote of the Night

I saw this and just had to share it.  Truer words have never been spoken.  Read it, receive it and believe it.

“Sooner or later, you start taking yourself seriously. You know when you need a break. You know when you need a rest. You know what to get worked up about, and what to get rid of. And you know when it’s time to take care of yourself, for yourself. To do something that makes you stronger, faster, more complete. Because you know it’s never too late to have a life. And never too late to change one.” ~Nike

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“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

In honor of Nelson Mandela’s 94th Birthday today, I decided to discuss one of of my favorite Nelson Mandela quotes regarding the impossible.

There have been many challenges i’ve faced in my life that I felt were impossible for me to conquer.  Some were work related, some health related and some just personal goals that I thought I would only accomplish “In my dreams.”

I want to share my absolute favorite “Impossible” scenario with you.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Boyz II Men more than popsicles and red velvet cupcakes (in other words….a whole lot).  I’ve been a fan since the tender age of eight years old, and it was always a dream of mine to one day be able to meet my favorite member, Shawn Patrick Stockman (or Shawn Patrick as I affectionately call him).

In my mind, the opportunity of ever being able to meet and be conversational with him was impossible.  He was a celebrity who lived the celebrity life, and I was just Candice….a girl from Maryland, who loves to laugh at corny jokes and make youtube videos.  The closest I thought I would ever get to him acknowledging my presence was possibly a sidewards glance at a concert.

Years and years went by, and I never got an opportunity to even be in his vicinity.  I wrote the  fan letters (Dear Shawn Patrick….your my favorite! Please write back! xoxoxo, Candice.)   I joined the fan club.  I wore the t-shirts and bought every cd.  But he still didn’t know me from any other random person on the street.  It seemed my dream of meeting him was indeed impossible.

Now, I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details (because I could talk about this forever), but with a little persistence and hard work,  the impossible happened, and happened more than once.  Twenty years later (yes, I said TWENTY years later),  not only has Shawn Patrick smiled and waved at me from stage, but he also knows my name (yay!) and seems genuinely happy to see me when I see him at a concert.  And then this here picture happened and I darn near peed my pants! (Don’t we look like a Christmas card??)  This picture is the perfect representation of what I thought would only be a dream “coming true.”

And as crazy as it sounds, being able to have this “impossible dream” become a reality helped me shift my mindset in other areas.  If I could meet Shawn Patrick, what else could I accomplish that seemed impossible?  What other dreams could I make a reality, if only I tried?

I truly believe that there is no limit on what we can do and accomplish in life as long as we believe that we can do it and put in hard work to achieve it (see yesterday’s post about “Just doing it” if you need a reminder.)

The biggest obstacle to overcome is mental.  When faced with the impossible, you have to find the inner strength and drive to make it possible.  You have to find that inner voice that reminds  you that you can do anything that you set your mind to, and remind yourself that anything seems impossible if you never try to accomplish it.

And for those people in your life who try to plant seeds of doubt and uncertainty in your mind when you are trying to make things happen, rehearse in your mind the three quotes I hold dear regarding the impossible:

“The person who says it’s impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.” ~Unknown

“Impossible? Things are happening everyday.” ~Cinderella

“I am the greatest.  I said this even before I knew I was.  Don’t tell me it’s impossible.  Don’t tell me i’m not the greatest.  I’m the double greatest. ~Muhammad Ali

And repeat this to yourself daily:

“I will get there.  I will get there somehow.  Cross that river.  Nothing’s stopping me now.  I will get through the night. And make it through to the other side.  Get there.  Get there.” ~ Lyrics to “I Will Get There” by Boyz II Men. (Buy their NEW CD TWENTY in stores now! http://www.boyziimen.com) **I couldn’t resist, lol.**

What impossible in your life will you work on making possible today?  The world and it’s many possibilities are waiting!!

Just Do It!

I would like to start off this post by saying that I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking things through before acting on a plan,  and making a list and checking it twice (especially if you are trying to determine who is naughty or nice…just sayin).

I do, however, think it’s wrong to think so long and so hard about doing something that you forget one important thing…… actually doing it.

And that is the story of my life.

I can analyze the heck of out a new idea or something that I really think I should try.  I consider all of the things that could go right or wrong,  the best way to go about implementing the idea, the pros and cons of the plan.  I can spend days and days, and weeks and weeks on end “thinking” about the next action to take.

Take this blog for example.  I had the idea to share my thoughts via a blog around this time a year ago.  I thought about what I would write, who would read it, and what I could say to help other people on their own journey.

And here we are almost a year later and I am JUST now getting around to posting.  Tsk, Tsk Candice.  Tsk Tsk.

I learned the power of “Just Doing It” not just from the Nike commercials, but really by observing a Sorority sister of mine.   She is the type of person who gets things done.  She makes a decision that something needs to be implemented and immediately begins working on it.

I used to stare at her in awe and ask “How did you do that? What about all the things to think about? What about all of the things to consider??  What if this goes wrong?  What if that goes wrong?  She laughed at me and said “Candice, if I spend all my time “thinking and considering” I won’t have any energy left to DO IT!

And boy is she right.  What matters at the end of the day is not what you think about doing, but what you actually do.  Thoughts and planning do nothing for you if they are not followed up by implementation and work.

When you look at people who have made a significant impact on the world or in their lives, you know them not by the idea they had, but about the WORK and ACTION they put forth to make a dream a reality.  I wouldn’t be glued to my iphone right now if Steve Jobs had only thought about creating Apple.  The way we communicate with others has been changed because of his ACTION!

The Bible says “Faith Without Works is Dead.”  I think that is a very important verse that people really don’t consider when they are on the journey to good health.  Thinking about eating fruits and vegetables don’t give you the vitamins and nutrients they provide.  Eating them does.  Thinking about going to the gym and planning what exercises you are going to do don’t increase your endurance and help you lose weight, actually GOING to the gym does that.  ACTION is where its at my friends.

So what plans and goals are you going to ACT on pursuing today?  And whatever it is that you decide to do, good for you!  The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.

Have a blessed one!

All or Nothing at All

As I finished my workout at the gym today, I started a conversation (in the sauna of all places) with a girl who is on the same road to good health that i’m on.  We were talking about the things that caused us to quit in the past, and were surprised that we both identified the exact same thing as our downfall to reaching our goals.

The All of Nothing Mentality.

I have never liked to live my life in the grey….never liked lukewarm bathwater…never “sorta kinda” did things.  My life has always been black of white.  Hot or cold.  And i’m either eating only fruits,vegetables, lean protein and going to the gym everyday or i’m glued to my bed eating chinese food and cinnabons.    This is the way I have always functioned.

I realize that in order for me to finally achieve my goals, this is a mentality that i’m just going to have to give up.  There is no person other than Jesus who did every single thing exactly right.  We as human beings are going to have good days, and not so good days.  Some days we make smart choices, others…not so much.  But the key, I’m learning is to accept quickly that you made a mistake and move on….not throw in the towel and say “forget it” because you weren’t perfect.

I mentioned in one of my youtube videos that this is why I have started and stopped my weight loss journey so many different times.  At some point, I made a mistake, or had a gain, or skipped the gym and I couldn’t forgive myself and move on.  I felt unworthy to finish because I did something I know I shouldn’t have done.

I’m trying something new this time around.  I’ve decided to strive for middle ground when it comes to my healthy lifestyle.  Middle ground to me is accepting that sometimes, I will have an unplanned piece of pizza or birthday cake.  It’s accepting that one day, I may not make it to the gym.  But that it’s ONE MEAL and ONE DAY, and it does not have to turn into a whole week of bad choices.  I can and will make the decision to forgive myself and move on.

A past leader of mine gave me a great analogy that I wanted to leave you with on this topic.  She mentioned that we should view our journey to good health, much like we view a long car ride out of state.  If you were two hours into the trip and you took a wrong turn…would you say “to hell with it!” and turn around and go back home?  Of course you wouldn’t.  You would find your way back to the right road and keep going.  Why is your health journey any different?

The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Today, as I move one day closer towards my goals, I am making a different decision and changing my mindset.

And if I can do it, you definitely can do it!  I tell you no lies. 🙂

The Food Police

If there is one thing in life that I can’t stand and makes me want to throw extremely heavy objects through glass windows, it’s the food police.

C’mon…you know who I’m talking about. Food Police are those annoying, gnat like people who make comments like the ones below:

“Oh…..your going to eat the french fries??? I thought you were trying to be healthy!”

“Do you even KNOW how many calories are in that sandwich….won’t you be bloated afterwards??”

“Oooooohhhhh, girl you know you should have balsamic vinaigrette instead of that dressing!”

“How many carbs are in that pizza?? You really should try to keep those down.  That’s why your not losing.”

Now, no matter how well-intentioned a food-policer may be, they only succeed in doing one thing with their comments.

Pissing me the **** off!!

Who gave you permission to make any comments about what i’m eating?  Did I ask you for your opinion?  Am I all up in your plate giving you my thoughts on your meal???  Oh, I’m not?  That’s right…because IT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS!!  You telling me what I should and should not eat, pretty much guarantees that I am going to do the exact opposite of what it is that you want me to do, if only as my way of giving you the proverbial middle finger (even if it’s only in my mind).

If you are reading this post and you suspect that you are a Food Police to someone in your life, please, I beg of you…..for the love of all that is holy….Stop it.  Seriously. You are doing more harm than good.

The wonderful thing about being an adult is that we all get to make our own decisions in life.  We get to decide what clothes we will wear in the morning.  We get to decide how we will style our hair and how we will spend our money.  One of the luxuries we get is also being able to decide what we do or do not put into our mouths.  When someone tries to tell someone else what to do with their life and their choices, they are trying to control them.  And nobody wants to be controlled.

Unfortunately, food police are never going to completely go away.  They are a necessary evil.

I have learned through my own weight loss journey that I’ve had to develop a new way of handling them because my attempt to “show them that they couldn’t control me” was only hurting me.

Here are some comments that I say back to a Food Policer when they start analyzing my plate.

Food Police: “Candice, are you really going to have those fries, I thought you were trying to be healthy!”

Me:  I sure am!  I planned for them and i’m going to have them!  Why…do you want one?

Food Police: “Do you even KNOW how many calories are in that sandwich?”

Me:  So How Bout them Cowboys?  Do you think Tony Romo is going to get his act together this year?

Food Police: “Oooooohhhhh, girl you know you should have balsamic vinaigrette instead of that dressing!”

Me: I hear that vinegar kills gnats…I really don’t want to ingest something so toxic.  You should be careful!

Food Police:  “Do you know how many carbs are in that pizza?”

Me:  No, but i’m sure your going to tell me.  And i’m still going to eat it.  So why don’t we pretend that you already told me and save ourselves this conversation?

Follow my advice and you too can effectively handle the food police!

And if none of the above advice works, the moment they mention something about your food, just start crying.  People don’t know how to handle tears and will have to walk away.  Either way, you get to eat your meal in peace. 🙂

Happy Eating!

Are you Happy?

I saw the above picture come through on my facebook feed that asked the question that I think we all have pondered from time to time…are you TRULY happy with your life?

I would say that I am generally satisfied with my life from day to day.  I try my best not to dwell on the “bad things” that can usually get people down. But am I truly happy?? Well…i’m not so sure.  And since the answer for me is not an unequivocal “YES I’M HAPPY!” then who’s responsibility is it to change this?  You guessed correctly…..the answer is me.

I think that there are so many things that I want to do with my life.  That I want to be, that I want to accomplish and that I aspire to do before I leave this earth.   But I have always let fear, procrastination and worries of what others would think, hold me back from accomplishing those dreams.  And it has left me feeling more and more unsatisfied with the direction my life has been heading.

Take this blog & my youtube channel for example.  Ever since I was a child, i’ve loved writing and i’ve loved expressing myself in front of a camera.  I created a youtube channel to document my weight loss journey back in 2010 and found great satisfaction in making my weekly videos.  I loved doing it and loved that my journey could inspire others.

But then I stopped.  I rationalized that it was because I wasn’t doing well with my weight loss and nobody wanted to watch a failure, but I suspect the real reason was because somewhere really deep down inside, I didn’t feel that I deserved to be able to have a youtube channel because “who am I to inspire others?”  I didn’t start doing this blog because I constantly told myself “Nobody wants to hear what I have to say.”

And, my friends, I’m here to tell you…you are what you tell yourself you are.  You are what you believe you are.  If your internal voice tells you that you are never going to be happy, then you won’t be happy.  If you tell yourself that nobody should care what you have to say, then they won’t.

The point I am trying to make is that I think the key to being able to say YES to the question about being happy is for you to do two things:

1) BELIEVE.  Believe that you deserve to be happy.  Remind yourself every minute if you have to.  Positive affirmations come into play here.  Tell yourself all of the great things about you and your life and then tell yourself again.  Sooner of later you will have to begin believing it.

2)  ACT!  Don’t just wish that you could find happiness.  Fight like hell for it.  Like the above picture says, change something that your doing that has been making you unhappy…whether it be being overweight, not changing your career….whatever it is….WORK HARD to change it!

I have decided to be happy.  I am going to blog and make videos and help others because that is what fulfills me.

What about you?  Can you honestly say that your happy?  And if not…what are YOU going to do to change it?  You get one life people. Live it on purpose!!

Protein….it’s what’s for breakfast

A long long time ago….probably around my sophomore year of College, I decided that I needed to lose weight extremely quickly (probably to satisfy my then boyfriend, who I later on learned preferred me fat….insert big eye roll smiley icon here..)  Low/No Carb Diets were all the rage during that time, and I decided to join the bandwagon. I had endless 3 egg omelets stuffed with ham and cheese for breakfast, philly cheesesteak sandwiches (minus the bread of course) for lunch and steak and broccoli and cheese for dinner.And I lost weight.  I felt like crap and envied people who ate bread…but I lost weight!

That was until I “slipped up” and had a bagel for breakfast one day after finals.  (I rationalize that it fell into my mouth because it had been neglected for the past three months, therefore I am not to blame).  The next day, I stepped on the scale and saw that I had gained three pounds.  From a frikkin bagel!  I was so pizzed off that I decided to have everything I had been desperately craving and depriving myself of during the past few months.  I ate like a person who had never seen food or carbs before.  In less than two weeks, I had regained everything I had lost during the past three months.

And that, my friends, was the end of my low/no carb diet.

But I did learn something during my low/no carb diet days, that I still take with me on my current journey to good health.

Protein is your friend.  Protein helps you feel full and satisfied much longer than certain refined carbs do.  Especially in the morning.  I find that if I have some kind of protein (veggie omelette, quiche, homemade egg mcmuffin, etc) when I start my day, that I am definitely less ravenous and tend to make smarter choices at the rest of the days meals.

My current favorite breakfast is a three egg white omelette filled with spinach, mushrooms, onions and 1 oz of shredded 2% cheddar cheese.  I also cook the veggies in two teaspoons of olive oil to meet my healthy oil servings for the day.

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And I feel great after I eat it.  But best of all….i’m not glancing at the clock every single minute waiting to see when I can eat my next meal.  Protein rocks my socks!What are your favorite protein packed meals (especially breakfast meals)??  I’m sure there are some great recipes that I am missing!Make your day a great one!  Remember…whether you think you can, or you think you can’t….you’re right.

This is a post about a giant cookie.

Do you see this ladies and gentlemen?  This right here is what is so wrong (yet so right) with the world!

Why is this cookie so huge?  Why do I want to eat all of it in less than 30 seconds?  Why aren’t cookies good for you and peas bad for you? Why does it have sprinkles on it instead of frosting?

Why..Why…Why?!?!?!

Is it time for bed yet?

Is planning really the key to weight loss?

As I reflect on all of my past weight loss successes and failures, I noticed a common pattern that I figured I would share with you lovely people.  Every single time I lost a significant amount of weight, I was planning my meals in advance, cooking for the week on Sundays and tracking everything I ate.

And the weird thing is…I loved doing it. Really, it’s true!

So why, oh why does it seem so difficult for me to want to start doing the  exact things that I know will make me successful this time around?

I suspect that it is my inherent laziness and overwhelming desire to spend the entire day in bed watching the twilight series.  Yes…I blame Robert Pattinson for my failed attempts at weight loss! Damn vampires!

I know that planning doesn’t have to be an arduous task.  It actually fits quite nicely with my personality.  I’ve always been a planner…especially when it comes to finances.  I plan every single penny of my money before I spend it.  It gives me a sense of control  in my otherwise chaotic life.  I know that it helps me.  I know that planning is a good thing.

That’s why I have decided to get over myself today and go ahead and DO IT!  Today is the day that I get back to planning my meals.

But HOW are you going to do it Candice?  I thought you’d never ask! 🙂

Step 1:  I’m going to go through the weight watchers site, the internet and youtube videos to find 3 new recipes to try this week.

Step 2:  I’m going to look at what ingredients are needed to make these recipes and write out a grocery list.  I am also going to think about what staple items (fruits, veggies, oatmeal, almond milk, etc) i’ll need for the week and put those on there.

Step 3:  I will get in my car, turn on my Boyz II Men CD and drive to the grocery store and buy everything I need.  I will park far away to give myself an opportunity to walk more (I may just think about doing this part and not actually go through with it….pray I make the right decision, lol).

Step 4:  I will come home and make all of the recipes, portion them out (because i’ve been known on occasion to eat whole pans of meals if it’s not portioned out.  Sad but true) and place in the refrigerator.

Step 5:  I will pat myself on the back for being so smart and wonder why I ever thought this was so hard to begin with.

This is the plan, and i’m sticking to it!

Who’s joining me?  And what are you going to make?!  I’ll share my recipes on my youtube channel (www.youtube.com/wwmoviegirl)

More fun tomorrow!  Happy planning!

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