Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Facing My Issues

October 2009                                                      August 2012
This past Sunday at church, I was wearing a t-shirt with our current sermon series title on it.  The front reads, "I've Got Issues" and the back says, "And So Do You."  It has been a fantastic series that has dealt with the issues of anger, family, and fear over the last three weeks.  We've got one more week to go, and I know it'll be great as well! 

As I was looking at the picture of me in this shirt, I couldn't help but think about my weight loss journey.  You see, everyone has issues in their lives.  Those areas of life that we try to tuck away because we don't want others to know that we're struggling with something.  No matter what the issue is, it will eventually surface, no matter how hard we try to cover it up, but when those issues result in carrying around extra physical weight on our bodies, it's impossible to hide at all.  You can dress yourself in the nicest clothes, wear the most expensive accessories, and sport a trendy haircut, but when you are overweight, none of those things can mask the fact that some facet of your life has gotten out of control.  The photo of me conducting a marriage vow renewal ceremony from October 2009 shows how hard I tried to look my best, yet there's no mistaking that something is definitely going on behind the scenes.

I understand that some people deal with medical-related issues that have caused weight gain and that is an entirely different situation altogether, but that is not the case for everyone who deals with their weight.  Some people eat to dull some hurt from past the past or a current fear, or they turn to food for comfort after a bad day.  I grew up in an environment where indulgent foods were plentiful and physical activity was non-existent and got stuck in a cycle of eating more and moving less.  I figured that since I had always been heavy, that would just be my lot in life.  I've known people who used to be an athlete or were regularly involved in some type of activity that required eating a lot to keep up with the physical demands but then that season ended, yet they still eat the same way.  Others simply love food and have a hard time regulating how much they allow themselves.  The list of food and weight related issues goes on and on...

The beautiful thing I've discovered in my life, is that when I stopped and faced my issues, and I mean I've really been taking a look at the hard truths in an honest and straight forward manner, well, that is what has given me the power to change.  As long as I kept trying to convince myself that the habits I had engaged in for so long were okay, it was impossible to live the life I so deeply wanted to be living.  By facing my issues, I am overcoming them by leaps and bounds!

Freedom can be found, but only if you face your issues!

Friday, August 17, 2012


Just a quick update...For those of you who read my blog from 08/06/12 titled, "The 'P' Word", I just wanted to let you know that I have busted through that plateau phase and am now down over 5 more pounds since that post!  To date, I have now lost 120.4 pounds total!

I have discovered that a plateau is not a final stopping point, unless when you reach one, you give up!  It may be a frustrating place, but I choose to think of it as a yield sign, not a stop sign...It's a time of slowing down, looking around and assessing the situation, making the proper adjustments, then moving forward once again!

Happy Friday my friends!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dreams to Reality

As a follow-up to my last post, I’d like to answer the question that I get asked most frequently about my weight loss…

“How did you make the decision to lose weight, and how have you stuck with it for so long?”

My answer is simple, really.  The short of it is…I came to the conclusion that the difference between dreams and reality is making a commitment to take action!

Now, here’s the rest of the story for those of you who appreciate a little more detail…Like many people who want to lose weight, I used to spend a lot of time wishing things were different for me.  I wanted to lose weight, and being the avid research and information buff that I am, I understood the ins and outs of proper nutrition and exercise and the benefits they would bring.  I read all about the mathematical computations for BMI and BMR and the function of the energy burning and storage systems in the body and how calories work in conjunction with those factors.  I had the desire to change and the knowledge to change, yet the problem was that I never did anything to cause change to happen.

I would be frustrated that I didn’t have the energy to play with my kids for very long.  I had hung onto the idea that since I was healthy (as in, I didn’t have any medical conditions and was not on any medications) that I was still doing fine, despite my weight.  I could still buy clothes that fit me, although it was getting harder to find my size and then nothing ever seemed to look quite right, but I justified it by thinking that if I could find my size then I was not alone.  I felt like if there were others out there just as big as me, I couldn’t be all that bad off, right?  I blamed it on the environment that I grew up in, ignoring the fact that I had left my parent’s home years and years ago and continued on in the same poor habits I developed there.  I shunned the word “excuse” and convinced myself that there were valid reasons I had gotten to the size I was at.  All along, I would want to lose weight with everything in me, yet it never happened. 

In the end, I finally reached the point where I decided that enough was enough.  If change was ever going to happen, it was only going to come if I got up and did something about it!

 I began my journey on my knees.  I spent time in prayer, first of all, asking God to forgive me for my failures and for all of the lies I had told myself, and for not taking care of my body, which He had lovingly created.  I then asked Him to give me the strength to make the changes that were needed to help me become strong and healthy, so that I could function at the very best level possible to accomplish all that He has for my life.  Lastly, I prayed that God would help me change my tastes, my cravings, and my desires when dealing with food.  I then immediately changed nearly everything about how I eat and view food, and eventually incorporated exercise into my schedule.  Now, it’s just how I life my life!

That is how my decision came about.  So how have I continued for almost 14 months?  It’s wrapped up in one word:  COMMITMENT.  I made a commitment the day I said those prayers.  A commitment to God, to myself and to my family, that I would do what it takes to see this thing through and reach my goals, and in the process I changed my entire lifestyle to reflect that commitment, from the way I think to the way I act.  This wasn’t some temporary diet program that once I reach a certain weight, it’s over and I go back to my old ways.  This is a commitment to lead a better life, one that’s characterized by balance, moderation, and healthy choices.  One where I realize that I’m far from perfect, but at the same time, I can love who I am and be confident in knowing that I am truly giving it my best and living life to the fullest!

So… I’ll say again that the difference between dreams and reality is making a commitment to take action!  I'd love to hear your stories!  What you doing today that will enable your own dreams to come true?  Leave a comment below if you'd like to share!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Questions & Answers

At this point in my weight loss journey, I get asked a lot of questions from people who have been watching my transformation.  I thought I'd take the opportunity to answer a few that I get pretty often.

Question: "What are you eating these days?"
My Answer:  Lots of whole foods, very little processed foods, no fast food, keeping between 1400-1500 calories per day.

Question: "Did you have weight loss surgery?"
My Answer:  No, I lost over 90 pounds in the first 11 months through changing my food habits, and have continued to lose as I upped my game by joining a gym to add cardio and strength training since May 2012.

Question: "How can you give up sweets/chocolate/bread/etc.?"
My Answer:  I haven't!  I can't imagine living the rest of my life without bread or mashed potatoes, but I don't eat them every day, and I've found healthier alternatives I've switched to that I love.  

Question: "Do you ever have a 'cheat day' and eat whatever you want?"
My Answer:  No, I don't have anything or anyone to cheat but myself if I were to eat something crazy.  I'm not on a diet program, so I have no specific restrictions.  My focus is on eating in a well-balanced manner each and every day.  For example, my sister makes the best cakes with fondant anywhere, and I enjoy some of that at family birthdays.  I'm not cheating by having a small piece.  I know it's coming, and I plan ahead for it to fit into my calories.  I don't eat a huge chunk of it.  A small piece is enough to enjoy! To put it into perspective, I eat broccoli 5 or 6 days a week, but I have eaten cake maybe 5 or 6 times in the past year.  I AM eating whatever I want to, because I truly want to eat the way that I am these days!

Question: "Don't you crave junk food once in a while?"
My Answer:  No, not really.  Once I was about 6 months in, I realized my tastes had completely changed.  My biggest craving now is watermelon!  If I haven't had any in a few days, I find myself making a lunchtime run to the grocery store and loading up on 2 or 3 pounds of seedless watermelon and I eat it over the next couple of days.  I buy it in the pre-cut bowls in the produce department, and that's my big splurge!

The question I get asked most often, without a doubt, is two-fold...
"How did you make the decision to lose weight, and how have you stuck with it so long?"

I'll answer it in my next blog post, so stay tuned!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The "P" Word

One of the things I always want to convey through this blog is the real-life aspect of weight loss.  While I do not advocate using a public forum to vent frustrations or complaints, there are definitely real challenges to face when you set out to lose weight, especially when the amount you intend to lose is significant, and I believe it’s important to share those things as well. 

For the last two weeks, my scale has not budged downward.  In fact, I’ve had daily fluctuations, but stayed within the same 3-pound range for the last 17 days.  I have not strayed from my food plan, and continue to eat between 1400-1500 calories per day.  In addition, I’ve been doing great at the gym and have not missed a single workout.  So what’s going on?  Let me tell you…

(Before I go any further, I know that many people believe you should only weigh-in weekly, or even monthly, to avoid the emotional highs and lows that can be a part of daily weigh-ins.  For me, however, daily has worked for the last 13 months, so I’m sticking with it.)

Because of the detailed progress spreadsheet I keep, where I track my daily weigh-ins, I can look back and see that this is not the first time I’ve reached, what most would term, a plateau.  The term “plateau” (according to dictionary.com) has several meanings, all having to do with reaching a place where progress ceases to rise.  There are two definitions, however, that really stand out to me.  The first one reads, “remain at a stable level of achievement,” and the second one calls a plateau, “a period of little or no apparent progress…” (italics mine).

When you know you’re doing the work, yet you’re not seeing the expected results, it’s important to remember that word “achievement.”  Just because I didn’t lose 2 pounds this week doesn’t take anything away from the 115 pound loss I have already achieved!  When you reach a plateau, that’s a good time to look back at how far you’ve really come!  The second important thing to think about is the second definition I mentioned.  Just because your progress doesn’t look apparent on the scale doesn’t mean you’ve come to a screeching halt!  For me, it’s a signal that my body is ready for me to change things up a bit.  It’s time to increase the incline on the treadmill and add in more interval training, it’s time to change around the order in which I perform my strength training exercises.  It’s time to flip around what time of day I eat my larger calorie meals vs. my smaller calorie meals, etc.  From experience, a few small changes will go a long way in getting things kick-started back up again.

Another interesting thing I realized about my plateau periods.  Each one has come when I’ve reached a weight that I maintained for a long period in the past.  For example, the last plateau I experienced came when I got back down to the size I was 10 years ago.  I had been at that weight for the better part of 5 years or more.  Right now, I’m made it down to the size I was in my last two years of high school, which I continued to be throughout college and for a few years after that.  Each of these plateaus came when I reached a point that my body was comfortable in for a long time in the past.  While my body may want to stay here to visit for a while, I’m packin’ it up and movin’ it on down the street to a much smaller address!  The eviction notice has been served!

With each of the plateaus I’ve went through previously, as I come out of them, I’ve hit great new loss levels quickly.  That being said, I am poised and ready to break through to new lows very soon!

My take-aways from plateau periods include:
1)     Plateaus will happen, they are inevitable!
2)     Don’t give up just because you’ve hit a plateau!
3)     Plateaus are a chance to realize how much you’ve already acheived!
4)     Plateaus should not become comfort zones!
5)     Scale progress may not be apparent in a plateau, but there are other kinds of progess!
6)     Plateaus are a chance to change things around and make it more interesting!
7)     Don’t slack off when you reach a plateau, keep working and you’ll break through it!

“Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
~ Galatians 6:9 ~