Saturday, December 31, 2011

Merry New Year...

... the rest of my life...

"And I love
that you are the last person I want to talk to
 before I go to sleep at night.
And it's not because I'm lonely,
and it's not because it's New Year's Eve.
I came here tonight because
when you realize
you want to spend
the rest of your life with somebody,
you want
the rest of your life
to start as soon as possible."
"When Harry Met Sally" - Harry Burns

Happy 2012 to everyone! 
May the New Year bless us all with love, health, and "the flirt!"

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tada! New look, new features, new RENEWAL for the New Year!

It has been almost one year since I started this journey... HOLY COW!  I have spent the past several days reflecting on where I started and how important this blog has been to my journey.  My reflections will come as our 1 year anniversary arrives, but for now, I wanted to be sure to start the NEW YEAR with a fresh look, a new blog header and new features.

Over to the right, I have added a few things... I've posted my current list of races for 2012 to help remind me... EVERYDAY... the reasons I need to get my butt to the gym.  I've also added a list of my favorite posts from the past year... funny... inspiration... special goals.  Reading through all of the posts from the past year has RENERGIZED ME and reminded me of things that I need to get back to... regular posts... WEEKLY photos (no matter what)... exactly why this blog has been a big part of my success.

I've also added links to most of the music from the blog this past year.  About 6 months ago, my music player site closed, and I have been unable to find another music player online.  I don't have music constantly playing for you, but I have links to the songs so you can check them out.  I hope they inspire and move you the way they do for me!  GOOD NEWS... MUSIC DAY IS BACK!  This is one of the main features that I've missed, as it usually hooked into the Goals of the Week, too.  WOOO HOOOO!

I will be posting my goals for 2012 this weekend and I hope you are working on yours, too!  I found a post from almost a year ago where I wrote about creating goals... it sure helped remind me to focus on the small goals... one day at a time!

Make it a FANTASTIC DAY, everyone!! :-)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Construction zone...

... Yes, one of my goals was to freshen up the blog for the New Year... and, well, obviously, the blog is a "Construction Zone" while I am playing.  Please ignore the odd colors, half posts, and odd new banner that will pop up periodically while I'm trying it out!  Things should be good to go shortly! :-)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas...

On our way to Christmas Eve Mass
(without the jackets and ties, of course)...

May the SPIRIT of Christmas bring you PEACE...
May the GLADNESS of Christmas give you HOPE...
May the WARMTH of Christmas grant you LOVE...

May God bless you with all these gifts,
... and throughout the coming year.

From our family to yours...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

50 Pound Difference...

"Your goals...

... minus your doubts...

...equal your reality."

- Ralph Marston

Set your goals, change that negative soundtrack in your head... and MAKE YOUR OWN MAGIC HAPPEN!

Monday, December 19, 2011

What a Difference... PHOTOS!!

I admit it... I went up another 2 pounds in the past 2 weeks... but I'm not worried.  It is the holiday season and I am enjoying myself.  Isn't that what a life change is about...?  Losing the weight... getting healthy... excercise... and LIVING your life.  In the past, I could have easily put on 5-10 pounds during the 2 months of Thanksgiving and Christmas... and let it stay come January.  I'm up 4 pounds all together, HOWEVER, I have NO INTENTION of letting those few pesky pounds stick around after the holidays.   Sooooo... I thought it would be a good idea to do a comparison with my Week 1 photo... to remind myself just how far I've come...  
237 pounds

200.6 pounds

Since my heaviest (250 pounds), I am down 50 pounds... 37 since I started this blog.  I have come so far and I AM NOT going back there... but I am going to enjoy the holidays.  I am working out 5-6 times a week... my next tri is now only about 9 weeks away. 

I am also working on my goals for 2012, which I will share in a week or so.  Take the time to set your own goals... is it weight loss or maintenance?... working a bit more on self confidence?... or simply finding new ways to wake up with a smile each day?  Work on your goals... and MAKE THEM HAPPEN! :-)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Our Cancer Story... Happy 7th Anniversary, my Sweet Husband!

December 16th is a day that will never be forgotten in our family... the day Jeff was diagnosed with cancer.

The journey that we started 7 years ago TODAY changed our lives... there were really, really bad and dark times... but there were also very uplifting, loving, and hysterically funny times. There were moments that we didn't think it could get any worse, followed almost immediatly by a wink, or a gentle hand squeeze, or the look that Jeff and I give each other when nobody else exists in the world... it is just us... together... in perfect love... knowing that things would be alright.

Several years ago I wrote about the first few hours after diagnosis... I believe this is the forth year in a row I have posted this story on this special day... and the first time I've shared this story with most of you.  Jeff and I have been overwhelmed with the touching comments that so many of you post each year... so as long as you enjoy and/or are touched by our story, I will continue this annual tradition.
This story is Dedicated to my love,
my Sweetheart, my best friend,
my hero, my husband, Jeff.

Snickerdoodles, peanut butter, sugar cookies and spritz cookies…that should finish off our holiday baking. Go on a city drive of Christmas lights. Buy a pair of jeans to match the pink sweater for Jessica. Spend an afternoon in Julian and get hot apple cider. Finish wrapping gifts.

It was December 16th, 2004 and a week before Christmas. I was sitting in the waiting area of the Gastroenterology Department of Scripps Green Hospital writing my list of last minute Christmas ‘To Dos.’ Anna Grace, then six months old, was waiting with me for Daddy to be done with his colonoscopy. Jeff hadn’t been feeling well and hadn’t been eating very much. As he was preparing for the colonoscopy, he told me he was craving a Double-Double from In-N-Out. I promised I would take him there as soon as his procedure was over.

“Mrs. Locher?” Dr. Nodurft was standing in front of me. “May I have a word with you?”

He guided me through a door that led to the examination rooms. I walked down the hallway, pushing Anna’s stroller in front of me. All morning, the nurses that walked by Anna had stopped and made some comment about how cute she was or how happy. There were two nurses standing in the doorway of an exam room, waiting for Anna’s stroller to pass by in the little hallway. This time the nurses didn’t look at Anna. They looked me in the eye. They didn’t smile. They looked down at the floor. For a split second, things started moving in slow motion. Could there be a problem with Jeff? As the cold fingers of dread started twisting in my stomach, I calmly reminded myself that Jeff was 44 years old, in great health, and in good shape. I knew I was being led to the transition room where my slightly drugged up husband would be waiting for me, right? Everything would be fine! Everything would be fine!

I wasn’t led to the transition room, but a small exam room. There wasn’t room for the stroller, so I left it outside and carried Anna in. Dr. Nodurft entered the room with us and another doctor followed behind us. The room seemed to be filled by the exam table and I remember how white the paper liner looked on the table. Did I say the room was small? That feeling of slow motion was starting again and I had a bad feeling. There couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with Jeff. Don’t doctors give you bad news in their private office, or in a family waiting room…or in a private, small exam room…

NO! I was cuddling our beautiful baby girl…Jeff waited so long to become a Daddy…nothing could stop him from watching his children grow up…from walking his daughters down the aisle…to watching his son become a father and passing the family name to the next generation…why were they just standing there? But, I knew the answer, didn’t I!?

“As you know, your husband was here today for a colonoscopy. He has been bleeding internally and we needed to find the source of the blood. We found a tumor…” I tried to concentrate on the next words coming from Jeff’s doctor, but I seem to have gone deaf.

“I guess I won’t be taking Jeff to In-N-Out.” I told the doctor about my earlier promise. I smiled and was silent. He seemed to know that I needed a moment to process reality.

I was standing there, holding Anna. I was dizzy and darkness was creeping in from the sides of my eyes. Shouldn’t the doctor take Anna from me so I don’t drop her? I sat down in the only chair in the room.

I knew what my next question was going to be, but how would I ask it? I started my question several times, but only uttered a few disconnected words… “Is…will…it’s not…he can’t be…Jeff is not terminal…” came out more as a shaky statement than a question.

Dr. Nodurft explained we wouldn’t know anything without more tests and until the pathology was completed on the specimen that would be collected during surgery. We talked a bit more and I was told that Jeff was still out and wouldn’t be ready to see me for awhile. The good doctor suggested a nice, quiet spot outside by the reflection pond where I could make some phone calls. He assured me he would come get me when Jeff was awake and ready for a visit.

I sat down by the pond. Nobody was around but the coffee cart barista. I don’t know what the temperature was, but I was cold and shivering. Anna was so quiet…almost as if she knew what was happening. She just looked at me as tears flowed down my face.

I remember thinking of a line from one of my favorite TV shows, "Lost." Jack, the young doctor character, explained that in order to deal with the emotional situations related to his work, he would allow himself to give into his fear/pain/grief for a count of ten. Then he would take a deep breath and concentrate on what had to be done to rectify the situation. I slowly counted to 10, took that all important deep breath and called my Mom.


“Mom?” I could barely get the word out.

“What’s going on?” Her voice was shaking by the end of her question. She knew where I was.

“They found cancer…” came out in one gush of breath, as if I had been punched in the stomach.

Mom was sobbing by the time she finished her “Oh my God!”

I gave her the limited information that I had. “They don’t know how bad…Jeff is being admitted…surgery tomorrow…Jeff doesn’t know yet…”

I guess Mom knew the “10-second Fear Rule” because she was quickly down to business.

“I will call your Dad and get him home…”

“You don’t have to pull him out of work,” I inserted because I knew Dad had used all his vacation time for the year.

“I can tell you that he will not be able to work after he hears this news. I will pack while he gets home and we will be there as soon as possible.” She already had a plan for getting Anna from me at the hospital, picking up Jessica and Christian from school, and staying at our house with the kids as long as we needed. Isn’t that what Moms do best? They take care of business when their kids need them!

The next call was to our church. I knew Jeff would want Father Jim to pray with us before the surgery. I requested Jeff be added to the parish prayer chain. Both requests were granted.

Next, Jeff’s Dad. The receptionist was telling me Jeff’s Dad was out of the office just as Jeff’s doctor walked up. “Jeff is awake and ready to see you.” I would track down Jeff’s Dad after I had a chance to see Jeff.

Anna and I were led to the transition room. I knew my eyes were swollen from crying, but my “10-seconds of Fear” were over (actually, by that time, I had gone through many, many 10-second counts) and I was going to be strong for my incredible husband.

I could hear the beeping of the medical machines from all the patients hiding behind their privacy curtains. I could hear the nurses’ shoes squeaking on the floor. I could smell that unmistakable scent of “hospital.” Our eyes met. I was strong. He looked like he was still out of it. Everything else faded away. My grasp tightened on Anna’s stroller. There was a long pause, smiles from both of us, and almost simultaneously we both said, “I guess we’re not going to In-N-Out.” He had been told. He reached for my hand. Our grasp was strong. Neither of us let go. So many questions. Not many answers. No guarantees. Yet, we both felt a slight feeling of calm, serenity, peace. The feeling was buried by the fear and sadness and questions and that “spiraling out of control” feeling, but it was there. You can call it what you want…denial, hope, naiveté…I call it faith. No matter how small that pinprick of a feeling was, we knew everything was going to be okay. Looking back, I can pinpoint that moment, that first look and coming together of husband and wife during a life-altering situation, as the moment that God stopped walking with us, but gathered us in His protective arms and carried us. Together.

Ironically, as I finish writing this story, I am sitting in a waiting room. Anna is asleep in her stroller. It is one year later and Jeff is having his first colonoscopy since going through surgery to remove the tumor, which came with a foot of large intestine, some small intestine, his appendix and 29 lymph nodes. He was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer, has endured six months of chemotherapy, and two additional surgeries. He is still dealing with side effects from the chemo, but we know those will fade one day soon.

“You can come in now.” The nurse is standing at the recovery room door. I had been pretty calm until this moment. I thank the nurse and start pushing Anna toward the door. The nurse is smiling at me and commenting on how cute Anna is. Although I smile back, I think I have stopped breathing.

I hear machines beeping, nurses’ shoes squeaking on the floor, and recognize that antiseptic smell. There are five nurses walking around the room. They all smile at me and make cute comments about Anna. Jeff’s nurse leads me to his bedside. He appears to be asleep.

Jeff’s nurse hands me the report from Dr. Nodurft. The first thing I see is a happy face. The report reads, “Well done, Mr. Locher! Your colon is perfectly normal! Great news. Next colonoscopy is recommended in three years. Let me know when you get back to cycling and we should go sometime!”

A single tear is rolling down my face. “Thank God! Jeff is going to be fine!,” I enthusiastically say to the nurse. I look over at Jeff…he hasn’t moved…his eyes are closed… and he is smiling.

I love you, Sweetheart!  Make it an INCREDIBLE day, Everyone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Annual Christmas PJ Party... and 4 pounds...

I'm giggling as I write this post and remember (or try to remember) our Annual Progressive PJ Party... held this past Saturday night.  We have the most amazing group of friends that Jeff and I met when we started volunteering at Orange Glen High School 7 years ago.  Four years ago, we started a Christmas Progressive Dinner tradition.  We start at one house for appetizers... then move to the next house for the salad course... then to another house for the main course... and the final house for dessert and Bunco... YES, Bunco... with the guys... and it is HILARIOUS!  
Here are the girls...

So... are you wondering why I'm telling you about a night out... lots of eating and drinking... while I'm trying to lose weight?  BECAUSE, I'm NOT trying to LOSE weight... I'm getting my LIFE BACK!  There is a BIG difference!  YES, I am working out and losing weight... but I also want to keep this weight loss as a part of my everyday life.  Which means that I WILL GO OUT and have an INCREDIBLY DECADENT night... and I WILL (once in a while) EAT ANYTHING I WANT!  
... and here are our guys...

And I gained 4 pounds... yes... in one night.  3 pounds came off within 2 days.  I'm still 1 pound up... and I'm OK with that.  You know what else happened that night...?  I was My Husband's Girlfriend... Jeff and I had a wonderful night... flirting... having fun... and he was my Boyfriend, too! :-) 

When you feel confident... and happy... and flirty... it doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing... the only thing that matters is your spouse... how much you love them... and how much they love you back... and the playing will just... happen... 
Yes... we see you, Seltmann... :-)

... yes... I often have
"tunnel vision"
when it comes to Jeff...
I only see him...
I get dreamy... I would like to say that I see a musical number take off, but that wouldn't be realistic, now... would it...? :-)  Make it a "dreamy" night, everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2011

YMCA Poster Model and Road Runner ADVENTURE RUN!

 'Tis the crazy season full of Christmas cards, social events, and baking.  However, my first international distance triathlon (Desert Tri in March) is less than 3 months away, so I'm also working out like crazy!  After a short 4 day vacation, I got back to my gym (Palomar YMCA) to find TWO POSTERS OF ME up all around the Y... and matching program flyers on the counter!  Soooo... I am the face of the "Lazy Man Triathlon" and the "Holiday Training Program."  I am actually doing the Lazy Man Tri... I'm doing an Ironman (2 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run)... one workout at a time.  Since the challenge goes for 10 weeks, I've challenged myself (and the YMCA Tri Club) to complete TWO IRONMANS in the 10 weeks... if I stay on track, I think I will do 3, but I'm giving some leeway for the holidays! :-)

Road Runner posts a HUGE map and the
name/location of each of the stops. 

For one of my running workouts, friend and YMCA Fitness Director (Hi, Briony), told me about the Adventure Run at Road Runner Sports, San Diego.  THIS... RUN... WAS... SOOOOOOO... MUCH... FUN!  First, it is a free event... and was only held in 4 cities in the US in 2011 (expanding to 12 cities in 2012!)  Here is the scoop... you show up around 5PM to get through registration and check out several sponsor companies, many with give-a-ways and product samples!  (We put on sample Asics shoes for the run and Fuel Belts.)  At 6PM, they reveal a HUGE map showing several different ticket stops.  The goal is to find/run to as many stops as you can in 60 minutes to collect raffle tickets... but you HAVE to be back within 60 minutes!  We were running like crazy into a Bowling Alley, Subway, LA Fitness, and Tommy's Burger (yes, getting weird looks from the customers of these places!).  We would collect our tickets and could earn extra tickets by doing the physical challenges at many of the spots. 

Anna, Briony and me... making sure we have all the information we need
from the map so we can START RUNNING!

At 7PM, you grab your free beer (running and beer... OH, YEAH!) and get ready for the raffle... $5,000 worth of prizes for this month's run!  The raffle was just as much fun as the run... high energy... music... crowd toss prizes... and we won several prizes, too!  Even Jeff and Anna were there (Anna was 1 of 2 kids that did the run, but she and Jeff ran about 2 miles and did several physical challenges in the 60 minutes... and she LOVED it!)

We had an AWESOME time and we can't wait for the 2012 Adventure Run season to start in March!  I was even more excited that Anna and Jeff joined us...  running is the one thing that is keeping Jeff from joining me in triathlons (due to chemo nerve damage in his feet)... and I think he was pleasantly surprised that he can do the run (I always knew he could!)... he can do the swim and  has been cycling for 40 years... NO PROBLEM!  I may have a new triathlon partner in 2012! 

Who knew... I am becoming my husband's girlfriend (again), and my fit husband [may] become my racing partner... no matter what, I love him.  Enough said! :-)