Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How I Got Healthy

There were periods of time (as in years) of Collin's early life when I was using nachos and sundaes to make it through The Days. I don't necessarily regret that decision - I needed every tool I could get my hands on and eating tasty food worked, if only temporarily - but I definitely did not enjoy the more long-term effects: slowly increasing weight, exhaustion, achy joints, and more. Collin was barely three and I could hardly carry him up and down the stairs. I finally reached a point when I realized that what I was doing was not working, that the costs were vastly outweighing (pun intended!) the benefits and that something needed to change.

I've always been fairly medium-ish, but by the time I reached this turning point, I (like most women I know) had also tried pretty much everything to lose a little bit of weight. Nothing worked. At least not well or for long. But, with my sister's guidance, I had been making a slow transition to real, unprocessed food and in doing some reading on it, I came across the idea of a Primal diet. It made almost too much sense to me and sounded a little too good to be true, but the enthusiasm in the online community was also infectious, so I started experimenting with it. Within 48 hours of going off of grains, all of my achiness completely disappeared and I stopped needing a nap every day. Soon, I was eager to see what might happen if I committed to a Whole30. I was astounded. That was over a year ago and I haven't looked back.

Things I Did:
- Ate fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, seeds, and nuts (until I totally overdid it and gave myself a raging nut intolerance)
- Did some strength and speed exercises twice a week for 15 minutes

Things I Did Not Do:
- Count anything, calorie or otherwise
- Control portions
- Go to the gym. In fact, I kind of jumped for joy when I read about the chronic cardio effect and kissed those slogging workouts good-bye

I found amazing recipes for things like chorizo sweet potato skins and shredded chicken with bacon and learned new, more delicious ways to make vegetables. I found snacks like jerky and Larabars. Sure, I sometimes missed some foods, but I was really too busy being almost freaked out by the way my body was just kind of morphing on its own. It was like I was finally giving it what it wanted so it could do its own thing.

My Results:
- Lost 40 pounds
- Dropped 4 clothing sizes
- Improved sleep
- Decreased anxiety
- Increased strength and energy

This was in a matter of months. You know I would not lie to you.

Now look, I'm not about to post before and after shots of myself in a sportsbra or anything, but I am strong and healthy and I feel good in my clothes. If you're a parent of a kid with special needs, I don't have to tell you what a tremendous gift this has been. So many of the little things in this life become big and you end up (very willingly) making sacrifices that adversely affect your own health and well being. What freedom to discover that it doesn't have to play out that way! No change I made required me to take any extra time away from Collin and, in fact, now that I am so much healthier, I have more time and energy to spend with him and advocate for him.

When people ask me (and they do) what I did and I tell them, invariably they immediately tell me all kinds of excuses for why they would never be able to do it; the most common by far is the one or two or seven foods they couldn't live without. You might think the same thing. And to that, with love and a genuine desire for your welfare, I say:


Nobody is saying you can never have any one thing again. You better believe I had a (big ol') slice of homemade apple pie on Thanksgiving and real hot chocolate at Christmas and Graeter's ice cream in the summer. But when I have those things, fully enjoying them (even though they are invariably not quite as amazing as I remember or imagine them to be), part of the joy is realizing that there is no amount of bread or dessert or queso that comes even close to matching the awesomeness of being a fit and happy mama for Collin.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

In Case You Missed It

I got the chance to write for Cincinnati Children's about advocacy this week.

It's a two-part series that you can check out here and here.

It was not surprising that I was asked to address this subject by a medical center that makes advocating easier by looking out for patients and their families in so many ways. The first time I called to schedule a slew of second opinions and they connected me with a special scheduler who would coordinate all of the appointments to be on the same visit, I knew we were meant for each other. Only a facility like that would want to further assist parents by empowering them in caring for their child.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I've finally reached the point where the staring doesn't really bother me on most days. It's just that Sunday wasn't one of those days.

So when I looked up in church to find a blond six year-old boy staring wide-eyed at Collin in his push chair at the end of our row - eyes unfocused, movements uncoordinated - I clenched.

When the staring gets to me, this is what happens. I mentally and physically tighten, bracing myself against a blow, or maybe shrink wrapping myself around my cherished, amazing boy to protect him from harm or prying.

But then I thought: Wait a second. What exactly are you protecting against here? The little boy wasn't sniggering. He wasn't pointing or mocking. Even if he had been, Collin wouldn't have known. He was smiling and dancing to the music with reckless joy, totally oblivious to this boy's stares. So...


It's me. I'm the one who has a problem with the stares, and not because of Collin. Well, at least not wholly because of Collin. True, he is most precious to me and I cringe at the thought of other people looking at him like he's an oddity or a pitiful sight. But more than that, I don't like being the object of stares. I don't like us being different from everyone else so obviously and so relentlessly. When people stare, it makes me feel isolated and more aware of my struggles.

It's not pretty, but it's the truth.

But another truth is that most of the time, I don't even know why people are staring. OK, maybe they're rude or nosy. But maybe they have a family member with special needs and they feel drawn to Collin. Maybe they wonder why he's so happy. Maybe they're just trying to figure him out, with no malicious intentions at all.

I looked back at this boy and realized that that was precisely what was going on. He was trying to figure Collin out. Having never known a kid like him, he was trying to understand what he was seeing. Why would I not want that?

So, I let out the breath I had been holding and unclenched. I tried to relax and gently get myself out of the way so I could watch this boy learn what he could about my son.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Collin's First Bike

It's red and shiny and he looks amazing on it. 

By the end of the session, he was giving Ms. Michelle not-so-subtle signals by pushing hard on the pedals to get her to let go so he could go faster. 

And also, I cried.

First Tricycle Ride from Annie Kratzsch on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Vacay 2013

What with the upheaval from selling our house and moving and the financial heebie jeebies that come along with trying to build a house, we decided to forego our beloved beach trip this year. We opted, instead, for that terrible term but delightful idea: a staycation.

We canceled all appointments (except for an EEG that was too hard to reschedule) and stopped making lists and flew by the seat of our pants about as much as two Type-A workaholics and a supremely schedule sensitive 4 year-old can manage.

Well, let me tell you, it was just what the doctor ordered. Kyle and I got to go on a few dates, we all went to the pool multiple days, visited the farm, and generally just enjoyed our little selves, whether we were out doing something fun or lazing at home.

The only bad thing about a staycation: when I'm away on vacation, I start to miss home by about the 6th day, which helps me to be ready for the end of vacation; but, because I was already at home this week, there was nothing to slow down my momentum and I really, really wanted to just keep on sailing through VacayLand (which, as you know, is a real place) with my boys.