Hi, everyone! Well, it’s been yet another long hiatus for me from this blog/website, and honestly it’s because the time required to plan the recipes, cook the recipes, re-cook if they didn’t work right, get a photo, write the recipe in here and write a post was extremely overwhelming! So at a certain point, I simply stopped forcing myself to make time for it because it was no longer enjoyable.
During the absence, there have been some big life changes. There was a new job, going back to college (the same one I’d gone to before) to complete the remaining 4 credits and the thesis paper needed to graduate and the passing of our beloved Kali last October and her illness for the year leading up to her passing.
The new job wasn’t just a new job, but involved being part of a small group starting up a company, which has been an adventure for sure and has come with lots of stress (and so, for me, stress-eating) and sitting at a desk/not exercising.
Kali was the first pet of mine that has passed away. She was my original furbaby, with me for almost 12 years, and grew up along with Gizmo. She was diagnosed with fairly late-stage kidney disease in January of 2018. We gave her fluids at home every day, changed her diet etc. and gave her almost another year of quality time with us, but ultimately it was never a curable disease and she went over the rainbow bridge in October of 2018. To say this was a difficult time would be a gross understatement, and in hindsight it is obvious that this contributed to depression issues I’d been experiencing for some time.
Not finishing my degree – especially given how close I was to finishing – had been nagging in the back of my mind for years, but with 40 quickly approaching, it was turning into a kind of pre-midlife crisis where, among other things, it felt as if I had not accomplished anything of substance during my time here on planet Earth and never finish anything I start.
Having one of the absolute best husbands in the world truly comes in handy in times like these. He knew how much this bothered me and also how scared I was to look into going back, largely due to not knowing whether or not all of the credits obtained previously would still apply, so he took the time one day to call and find out all of the information needed in order to get the ball rolling for me to go back and finish. Yep, I picked a winner!
The experience included the fall 2017 semester (to take the course needed to complete those pesky 4 credits) and spring 2018 semester (to write the thesis). It was such a giant mix of emotions, being back at the same campus where so many memories were made almost 14 years prior while still working with the same professors but now being the “old lady” in a classroom full of teenagers. While the experience was ultimately a “success” – in terms of walking away with a degree – and is no doubt a huge accomplishment, the process, combined with the above-mentioned stressors plus some others, led to an extreme exacerbation of my anxiety, depression and panic disorder issues.
Unfortunately, being my heaviest weight ever due to gaining a bunch of weight from these issues as well as medications and an overall sedentary lifestyle and problematic relationship with food only exacerbated the issues and required higher doses of medications.
I’m no prude when it comes to medications when necessary, but naturally would prefer not having to take too many, especially at high doses, so this definitely ended up playing a role in the decision to try and get healthier, with the hope being that maybe between diet and exercise it can at least get to a point where I don’t need to rely quite so heavily on medications.
Jumping back a bit to Kali’s passing, Ilya and I had discussed several times since then what we might want to do in terms of future furchildren. With the dog love of my life Gizmo fast-approaching 12 years old, it could go one of two ways: Either we could get a fairly youthful puppy to give Giz a renewed sense of purpose as a mentor, or we could wait until the time I never want to think about happens and then at some point after that get two dogs at the same time, around the same age.
We heard from our veterinarian and others many times over the years how bringing a young puppy in with an older dog can do wonders for both of them, but Giz has always been the only dog in our lives and, to be honest, the prospect of him sharing the limelight (and snuggle time!) didn’t seem too likely.
So we had discussed this a few times, but never in any real serious way or with any plans to take action anytime soon. Then one day in early April, while scrolling through Facebook, the below photo jumped out and pulled all of the heartstrings. At first it seemed like the post would be a “dog needing a good home” kind of post, but it turned out to be a “need help finding this dog’s owner” kind of post instead. (sidebar: It was a friend who had posted the photo, as the dog had been found tangled up in her mom’s barn with the leash attached).
Fast forward several days, and what pops up in my Facebook feed again but the same photo of the above cutie again, but this time shared by a different friend and with the post advising that the owner was found but did not want the dog back, so now he was in need of a good home. He was thought to be about 7 months old and judging from the photo looked about the same size as Gizmo. They believed he was a mini Australian Shepherd that would get to be about 25-30 pounds – slightly bigger than we would have chosen – but he was just SO CUTE and seemed absolutely perfect for what we would look for in a puppy. (As it turns out, he’s either a toy Aussie or Aussie/Pomeranian type mix, as he is only 15 pounds and full-grown according to the vet).
After immediately claiming him on Facebook, then asking the hubs for approval (ha!), we arranged to go out that same day to meet the fluffy sweetheart. We were going back and forth as to whether or not it would be a good idea to bring Gizmo, and ultimately only brought him so that he wouldn’t be left home crated so long. As it turned out, Gizmo ended up deciding for all of us that this was the newest member of our little clan.
Upon arriving at the location where the puppy was being held, we went in on our own to meet him first. He was, as we’d been advised, extremely nervous and skittish around people and while he was absolutely adorable and a total sweetheart, we didn’t know if we’d be up for it. Enter Gizmo. We decided to see how they’d do together (thinking if the puppy was as afraid of Giz as he was people, then it probably wasn’t meant to be), but the moment Gizmo was brought in, Frizbee’s tail started wagging at lightspeed and they both were instantly so good with each other. To say my heart melted all over the floor would be a total understatement! Here’s the footage of them meeting for the first time, so your heart can melt too.
They say things happen when they’re meant to happen and that was clearly the case with this little love. We’d been toying around several different ideas for names on the way to meet him, but once we actually met him it was clear Frizbee was the right choice (he jumps really high in the air and flips mid-air, almost like he’s trying to catch a frisbee).
So that is how the dynamic duo that is Giz and Friz came to be, and how this blogger realized that she needed to seriously take some steps in getting healthier if she was ever going to stand a chance of keeping up with the puppy energy, because man does Frizbee ever have puppy energy! Not the first night we brought him home; that night he passed out right away in the car like an angel. Ha!
In all seriousness, though, it has been so wonderful to see Frizbee transform so quickly. He is still a bit timid at first when seeing/meeting people and some loud noises still scare him, but he has come SO far already. He was terrified of all the dog toys we had when he first came home and didn’t understand how to play, so big brother Gizmo taught him and now he goes to the toy basket and picks out toys for himself and absolutely loves playing. He has loved all dogs since the moment we brought him home and that definitely hasn’t changed! He absolutely loves the dog park and anything that involves being outside, other dogs and/or being with his humans and brother Giz.
Thank goodness we got him during warmer months or I don’t know what we’d do because this dog honestly never gets tired. The only time he was even remotely tired out (and it only lasted for about half an hour) was a day that he was at the dog park for 4 hours and ran around for almost 12 miles worth of distance (he wears a GPS collar which, among other features, tells us how far he runs around and such each day. The GPS is due to him running off about a week after we got him, but that’s a story for another post).
So it’s easy to see how being greatly overweight with aching knees, slow mobility, etc. would be less than ideal after bringing this bundle of adorableness and energy home. Also, getting healthier had been on my mind recently anyway, given how quickly the big 4-0 is approaching and knowing that is supposedly when your metabolism decides it’s had enough and retires.
Add to that a whole host of health issues (the previously-mentioned anxiety & panic disorder and depression, being at the high end of prediabetic range, high blood pressure, asthma, the previously-mentioned knee issues due to weight strain) and it was time to officially get serious.
Ilya and I had tried some meal delivery services before, but they didn’t have enough selection, weren’t flavorful enough/got boring, and/or were not exactly geared towards healthy eating. When discussing this at work one day, though, a coworker mentioned a place called Project Lean Nation and they have turned out to be a complete game-changer, working wonderfully for us, especially with our super busy lives these days! Frizbee needs hours of physical activity every evening after work, so we often won’t get home until 8pm or later and having these delicious meals that are packed with healthy, fresh ingredients that only take 2 minutes to heat up is a lifesaver.
I talk a lot about Project Lean Nation and our experience using them for meals , snacks, support etc. in the live videos over on the Healthy by 40 Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Healthyby40Blog/). They are not paying me at all for this, but we just truly love them. It’s not just a place to buy some food, but a support system as well. They provide full body scans there to show you your hydration level, body fat levels, etc. and talk you through the difficult stuff involved in trying to change to a healthier lifestyle. They have groups that workout certain days a week, too. It’s really a fantastic place.
If you don’t have one locally, you can still sign up for the meals, though. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something like that where the meals are made from fresh, healthy ingredients and come to you ready to heat up.
We picked up our meals today and are excited to try the 4 or 5 new ones they added in this week. It’s nice that they do that to switch things up, since one of the main problems I’ve always had with healthy eating is getting bored eating the same things over and over.
With all of that said, the journey has officially begun and I’m excited to share tips/resources/recipes/etc. and hopefully receive some as well. It will be wonderful if we can build a community of people who are trying to get healthy but have obstacles such as time, money, resources, etc. and can help each other out.
Make sure to follow the Facebook page
(https://www.facebook.com/Healthyby40Blog/) in order to benefit from the additional information that gets posted in live videos on there, as that is where a lot of content will be shared that is more easily-accessible. Thank you all for joining me in this journey!