The Fall of Man

They found him. Gunshot wound to the chest on his birthday. Although, it makes sense, his heart was what hurt the most. His wife passed away four years ago in a car accident. He was the one driving the car… He had sold his house two weeks before he took his life. He wanted to move out of the city and on with his life. But, with no job prospects and no real friends anywhere else, he must have lost all hope. Deep down, we all knew this day would come; we just thought it would have happened shortly after she died, not now.

My uncle Steve is was an introverted, angry man. He didn’t like the outside world. When he met and married my aunt, his second wife, new life was pumped into his veins. He turned himself around, started going to parties, meeting people, and he even thought about having children! He said and did things he, and we, never thought he would do. But, when he accidently hit the other car that caused her death; he also died. The spark she implanted in him was gone; he went back to his old ways, hating the world and everyone in it. Each year that he remained alive, we considered ourselves lucky.

The last time I saw him was the day before his birthday. We were at a family gathering at my grandmothers. It was to celebrate her birthday, as well as his. He retreated to the living room for most of his time there, and when he was in the kitchen, he wouldn’t talk to anyone. All he wanted to do was play with his smart phone. When my grandmother talked to him, he answered her with a strong tongue and boiling anger in his eyes. No one could say or do anything to please him at this point.

I didn’t even bother trying to talk to him for fear that he would lash out at me. In fact, in all the years that we’ve been family, I’ve never said more than a few sentences to him. He wasn’t the type of uncle to show up at your high school play, take you out for ice cream, or make small talk. He was a man who just wanted to be left alone.

Sure, I could cry my heart out, take off of work for a few weeks, and preach to everyone about how you need to, “hold you loved ones close.” But, I can’t. I’ve never loved this man. To me, this isn’t a heartbreaking loss.

In fact, this isn’t a loss at all. My uncle did not die; he’s very much alive. Today he turns another year older…and colder, that is true. And, as I sat near him the other day, not speaking a word, I was reminded of how awful of a person I truly am. I realized in that moment that the man sitting near me is a man I’ve known my whole life; but he’s been nothing but a stranger. I realized that if he died tomorrow, even from suicide, it would not have a major impact on me. Sure, I would feel awful. No one deserves to die, no matter what the cause! And, no one deserves to feel alone. But, to me, it wouldn’t feel like a major loss. I can honestly say that it would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away.

Four years ago, this was where my family found themselves; on suicide watch for my uncle. It’s awful to admit that someone who is supposed to be such a huge part of your life doesn’t matter to you. Writing those words, “It would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away” makes me feel like a terrible person, but I know deep down that I’m being true to myself. Although, sometimes, we have to admit that even those people in our lives who are supposed to be family and the closest humans to us, mean zilch. That is why we all must create our own “families.” “Families” that are made up of blood relations, friends, acquaintances, dogs, cats, etc. “Plant your own seeds and grown your own garden because you have the power to choose who you become and who is allowed to influence you along the way.”

Granny Smith – over and out

A Day Without Peanut Butter and Other Nutritional Mishaps

I’ve written a bit about it before, but my nutritional journey has been fairly similar to a lot of other individuals; some days, it looks like I’m on the right path, and others, I feel like a fat child who’s received free range at a local doughnut shop. My health has gone up and down over the years, but like many of you, I’m looking to get it back on track.

As a child, I was raised with two grandmothers who made sweets…ALL.THE.TIME! Sweets are my downfall, but I know that it’s something I need to eliminate. Couple my love off sweets with my moderate exercise routine, and I was….an average sized child. As I got older, I quit a lot of the sports that I joined as a kid. One summer, I decided that TV was going to be my best friend, and I gained about 15-20 pounds…in three months! I stepped into the first day of the following school year unrecognizable. And, ever since that summer, it’s been a struggle for me to lose any weight…and keep it off!

But, I found myself on an exercise kick years later and managed to lose about 30 pounds and shed some inches! I felt good, but not skinny enough. As I strived to keep losing, my body shut down and I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. I was constantly going that I had forgotten to get proper sleep. And finally, it had caught up with me. Once I was diagnosed, it was hard to bounce back. No matter how much sleep I got, I was still tired the next day. I was doing yoga almost every day, but I was losing my results; my muscle was slowly turning back into fat.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I joined a zumba class and started to get my body working again. And, recently, I’ve joined Team BeachBody as a coach and have completed programs like the 21 Day Fix, Rockin’ Body, and Hip Hop Abs in order to get myself back on track. I’ve started drinking a protein shake that helps cut cravings, and I’m reading a great book by Maria Menounos, “The Everygirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness,” which has workout tips, nutritional information, and a plan to help you live a more active life.

While all of this wonderful information is coming in, I keep hitting brick walls and getting flustered. It’s hard for me to resist sweets and my favorite restaurants. I was reminded of how important my health is this week when I came down with a terrible cold. I still haven’t bounced back, but it’s making me refer back to my old ways. I’m not exercising as much as I should be, and I’m eating with more of a carefree attitude. That’s definitely NOT a part of the plan!

So, what can you do if you constantly feel like you’re hitting a brick wall like me? Going back and forth, not being able to truly commit to something is the worst. I’ll share with you a trick from Maria Menounos. At first, enjoy what you want, but start cutting back you’re food intake and moving more. It’s simple! Say you typically have 8 slices of pizza for dinner, try eating only 7 and then have a side salad. Week by week, cut back a bit more and make that salad bigger, and soon you will be eating 1 or 0 slices of pizza and enjoying the salad! Second tip: move more! Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs. Instead of parking close to the store, park further away in the parking lot. By making small changes today, you can create healthier habits that last a lifetime! Make goals for yourself, start a food journal. See what you’re eating and what you’re doing every day, and think about how you can improve.

For me, I eat peanut butter daily. So, one day, I said to myself, “Let’s see if I can go the whole day without peanut butter.” And, when I accomplished that, I tried two days, three, four, five. Before I knew it, I had gone ten days without peanut butter. Simple, small cut backs and additions can get you back on track.

Have a happy and healthy life! And remember, we’re in this together!

Granny Smith – over and out