Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Am a Runner

I am a runner. In fact, I have spent many years of my life running from...
 
As a child, I ran from the other kids who made fun of me because of my weight, and found places to hide and cry...
 
As a teen, I ran from the pain of feeling alone and misunderstood because I was always the biggest kid in every class...
 
As a college student, I ran from the reality of the food choices I was making and the harm I was doing to my body through over-eating and making excuses for my size...
 
As an young adult, I ran from the belief that I could ever make a change and lose weight, and I held onto the idea that being obese was just my lot in life...
 
Today, however, I no longer run from, but I run to...
 
I run to the truth that, with God as my foundation and my help, change is indeed possible!
 
I run to a future of healthy living and well-being!
 
I run to prove to myself that there is an athlete who has lived inside of me all along, and I have finally set her free!
 
I run to show my kids that they can set huge goals in life and reach them through commitment!
 
Today, I run because...
 
I run because the joy I experience in the freedom of movement is overwhelming! (I will neither confirm nor deny that I have had a "Sound of Music" mountain top moment, running, with my arms flung open wide and twirling on the back half of the track at the local park...more than once!)
 
I run because I have always been the slowest and the last in every sport and always dreaded gym class because I couldn't keep up, but I now know my body can be pushed farther than it ever has before!

I run because I want to encourage others that you don’t have to be at your goal weight to get up off the couch and start moving!
 
I run, simply because.....I can!
 
As someone who used to barely be able to walk to the mailbox and back, words can hardly explain the feeling I get when I lace up my shoes and hit the pavement. To finish and know that my body has carried me 3, 4, or 5 miles on my own two feet in a matter of minutes makes me well up with tears of thankfulness and amazement. To me, running represents healing, restoration, change, and freedom.
 
I am a runner!




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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Armed and Fearless

As I have lost weight, my body has changed in various ways.  While it’s fun and exciting to see myself shrinking, the fact is that some areas will bear the marks of my extremely overweight days long after I reach my goal.  When you start out where I did, it’s pretty much inevitable, so it’s just something I’m learning to live with.  One of the more prominent areas where I deal with this is in my upper arms.

As a woman (who now has so many new shopping avenues available to me), I’m finding so many summer dresses and tops I really like that are very cute, but sleeveless.  While the size of my arms has gone down considerably, I still have a great deal of toning work to do, but even with that, I’ll probably always have some loose skin left there, and  I’ve been pretty self-conscious about it.  So, for every sleeveless garment I’ve bought, I’ve also got a jacket or sweater to go over it and cover up my arms. 

This past week, as the temperatures have soared from the high 70s into the 90s (hello summer!), the last thing I’ve wanted to wear is multiple layers.  When I got dressed for church last Sunday, I put on a sleeveless top and instinctively grabbed a jacket, then became very upset over feeling so bad about the way my arms look and feeling like I have to cover them all the time.  After an encouraging conversation with my husband, I ended up spending part of the day with the jacket off, bare, flabby arms and all, and you know what?  The world didn’t end over it.  No one stopped and stared and pointed at the lady with the under-arm flaps.  No one laughed at me or asked why I dared to show off my not-so-perfect biceps.  I wore a sleeveless top…and it was okay…

Here’s the reality of it…if we’re honest enough to admit it, we all have areas about our bodies we feel insecure about.  Wait, can I say that again with a little more emphasis?  We ALL have areas about our bodies we feel insecure about or would like to change in some way!  There’s just no getting around it.  There may be some pudge here, or some flab there.  Maybe we’re not as buff and built, or as slim and trim as we used to be or would like to be.  Face it, we’re human and time and gravity do a work on us! 

What I’ve learned this week, however, is that while I’m working to improve my strength and muscle tone as I continue to lose weight, it’s okay to be real.  It’s okay to accept that this is me, where I’m at today.  I’m not as good as I will be, but I’m sure better than I was!  That measure of self-acceptance comes along with a heaping dose of peacefulness and contentment, and I’ll take that any day!

So, if you see me fearlessly baring my imperfect arms this summer, just know this, I’m thankful for the strong arms that God has given me!  These arms help me express myself in worship as I raise them in praise.  These arms have gone around the shoulders of hurting people to extend comfort in times of need.  These arms have carried my babies close to me and held them for hours of rocking.  These arms embrace my husband and hug my children and other loved ones.  They may not be perfect, or sculpted, or beautiful, but they’re mine and they have served me well.  While I strive to make them better, I’m going to do my best not to complain and grumble about the way they look any more.

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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Friday, May 31, 2013

I Did it!

I DID IT!!!!  On Memorial Day morning I completed my first official 5K with a time of 36:18!  What a crazy, eventful, and exciting day it was! 

I trained well in the weeks leading up to the event, and had my pace and time down into a good range.  I could easily walk the 3.1 miles in 44-45 minutes, and had done it with a mix of running and walking in about 39 minutes, so I was confident that I could finish with a decent time.  Honestly, I just wanted to finish, and not be the last person over the finish line!  I’ve spent so much of my life being last when it came to any kind physical event, competition, or game, that I really hoped to simply come in somewhere in the middle. 

When the race started, I felt great and headed out at a quick pace (for me anyway).  Thankfully, I remembered to hit “start” on my mapping app as I crossed the starting line.  This became very important later in the day!  As my app announced my distance through my earbuds every half mile, I knew something was drastically wrong when I passed the 3-mile mark and the finish line was no where in sight.  Now, the joke in our family has always been that I am totally, and completely, shall we say, “directionally challenged”.  Having a GPS system on my phone has saved me more times than I care to remember.  Well, before the race started, I looked over the course map as one of the volunteers was going over the 5K and 10K routes that were set up for the day.  I felt great as we started, and when my husband was at the halfway point taking pictures, our camera documented that I was just a couple of minutes behind one of our friends who was also running the race.  The back half of the course, however, proved a bit more challenging for me!

Apparently, in order to get the entire 3.1 mile distance into the course, there was a small detour through a parking lot that the 5K runners had to take towards the end of the course.  Well, it happened to be very close in location to another section of the course, and the volunteers directed me into this area at the wrong point, and then wouldn’t let me out without circling around the cones set-up a couple of times.  Then, once I finally made it out, volunteers made me go back through it again at the end (which is when I should have made just one half-loop through it). 

Once everything was said and done, I covered a total of 4.5 miles, instead of 3.1!  Initially, I was pretty frustrated about it.  After all, this was my first official 5K, and it took me 51minutes to actually cross the finish line for my 4.5 miles.  But the more I thought about it later on, the more I realized what a blessing in disguise it actually was.  You see, I never again have to be afraid of being able to complete a 5K.  After everything I went through a couple of years ago in a 5K walk that I couldn’t finish, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about this run.  Even though I had covered the distance many times over in training, being surrounded by other runners in a race environment was scary.  Knowing that I ran above and beyond the 5K distance has stripped away the fears associated with it, and next time will be even better because of the confidence boost this has given me!

Once the race was completely over, I was able to speak with the people at the timing results table, and they were able to take my running app and verify the altered course that I ran, along with the split times for each mile I covered to figure out my average speed and they calculated my total time for the 5K distance at 36:18. 

I guess you could say that, had I just ran 3.1 miles, I would have been an overcomer, but running 4.5 miles made me more than a conqueror! 

Several of the folks from our church pastoral team ran this race together, and we had shirts that said, “RUN YOUR RACE”, which references the scripture that states, “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV).  Truer words could not have been spoken for me that day!



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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Calling Names

I mentioned in a previous post that from time to time I was going to address some of the emotional issues that come along with weight loss.  So, here you go!

Most people tend to carry around several titles throughout their lives.  Me?  I’m a Christian, wife, mom, sister, friend, blogger, employee, daughter…you get the idea.  Throughout my childhood and teen years, I carried around a whole host of other names, although none were of my choosing.  In my very first post on this blog, Why Polyester?  I talked about the horrible names my pediatrician called me during an office visit when I was just 7 years old.  That doctor wasn’t the only one who used to call me names because of my weight.  Getting teased was a daily occurrence for me at school. 

While so many kids made fun of me from time to time, there was one particular girl and her group of friends who tormented me. Every. Single. Day.  I had the unfortunate problem of going to school from first grade through high school graduation with this girl, and she never let up on me.  She was the harsh, classic bully that intimidated me, stole my lunch money and school supplies, threatened me, and found every possible way to humiliate me about my size in front of other classmates whenever she could.  The list of cruel names she had for me back then seemed endless.    

As an adult, the names continued to come at me, only from different sources.  In clothing stores I was labeled as an “extended size,” at the doctor’s office I was labeled as “morbidly obese,” and on more than one occasion I have been referred to as the “plus-sized gal,” and the “heavy-set lady” among other descriptions people have had for me in both social and professional realms.

As I have now lost 167 pounds (!), I’ve been dealing with getting past the negative names I’ve been called throughout my life, and ironically enough, it’s been due to complimentary remarks that people have made.  You see, very well-meaning friends, people who I know care about me and are supportive and encouraging to me in my journey, have said things to me like, “Hey Skinny!” or called me “Skinny-Minny” and similar things.  There is a part of me, that when someone says something like that, I feel very, very self-conscious.  It’s kind of like the idea of nick-naming someone for a characteristic that is completely opposite of the way things actually are…like calling a guy who’s 6’8” tall “Shorty”.  See what I mean?  At a size 18, I know that I am far from being anywhere near skinny at this point.  Thinner than when I started? Absolutely!  But really and truly thin?  Nope, not yet.  So, I have to resist the emotional urge to feel like I’m being made fun of when people say things to me like “You’re going to blow away if you lose much more weight!” I know in my head that they’re not making fun of me, they love me and are acknowledging my weight loss in a light-hearted and encouraging manner, but part of healing from the past means I have to remind my heart of this fact regularly.

Losing weight truly is about much more than just shedding pounds from your body.  Living as an overweight individual results in a host of emotional baggage, and through the grace of God, I’m learning to drop the emotional weight I’ve carried for so long right along with the physical weight!

Healthy. Healed. Whole.  This is the theme for my life!

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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Crazy Pain

Wow, I have had some crazy stuff going on with my back since Friday! 

As I've talked about in the past, before I started on my weight loss journey, I had a bad fall in a local park that resulted in extreme back pain and sciatic nerve issues in the right side of my back and my right leg.  That went on for such a long time, and was the worst physical pain I had ever endured.  As I have lost weight over the last 22 months, that sciatic pain had completely went away, and I can't remember the last time I dealt with it.

Fast forward to this past Friday.  Friday morning, I went to work as usual, with no back pain or issues at all.  By 10:30am, my back had started hurting, truly out of nowhere, and on the left side of my spine.  It literally started hurting while I was sitting in my office chair.  I had not done any kind of strength workouts for a week, and had done no lifting or anything out of the ordinary.  I can't pinpoint any specific action that could have caused this.

The pain got so bad that I left work early Friday and went to the chiropractor.  He did an adjustment and sent me home to ice packs and rest.  I proceeded to spend the entire weekend flat on my back in my bed, as it was the only position I could be in to get any measure of relief!  Even though I was in bed and resting for almost three whole days, doing nothing, I felt completely exhausted, and couldn't even get myself to read and dozed in and out of movies on the television.  My sweet boys came and went to entertain me from time to time by reading Dr. Suess books to me, performing little skits they made up, and climbing into the bed to watch movies with me, on the strict instructions that they had to lay still and couldn't bounce around because any kind of movement made me hurt.

Today, I had to come into work, and have been on pain relievers and using a heating pad all day, but haven't had much relief.  This feels just like the sciatica I used to get in my heavier days in my right side, only now it's in my left side.  The wrong movement makes it feel like an electrical shock in my back, that then travels down my leg with a searing pain.  There just aren't words to describe how bad it hurts.  Off and on over the weekend I would just cry, telling my husband that I never, ever dreamed I would have this kind of back pain again since I've lost so much weight.  Not to mention, the frustration over having done nothing specific to injure myself or set it off. 

So, for now, I continue to pray for healing and rest as much as possible and I appreciate your prayers as well as I mend!


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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

22 Months and Still Going Strong

Well friends, today marks 22 months since I started on my weight loss journey and I’m happy to report that I’m still going strong, and continuing to learn things along the way!  For month 22, I lost 6.6 pounds, which brings my grand total to-date to 165.3 pounds lost!

Back in January, I came to a point when I decided that I would purposely go into maintenance mode for a while, instead of trying to actively lose weight.  To be honest with you, there was a little part of me that wondered how I would handle maintenance.  Would I feel like I could splurge more often and end up gaining some of the weight back?  Would the thought of eating more per day feel scary?  Would I truly be able to maintain my losses?

Well, the answers came in a good, well-balanced way!  I have spent the last three months in maintenance mode, and did not go overboard with it.  I basically ate the same things I eat in loss mode, just a little more of it.  I continued to track my intake and to weigh-in daily.  Through the process, I discovered that my habits really have changed for the better, and I am not the same person I was before I started losing weight, where my personal health and nutrition are concerned.

About two weeks ago, as I was nearing the end of my planned maintenance season, I began to ask myself if I really wanted to jump back into losing mode or just stay on in maintenance indefinitely.  After all, I reasoned, losing over 160 pounds without the aid of surgeries or specialized programs was a significant accomplishment, all of the symptoms of my back injury and reflux have been gone for a long time now, I weigh less and wear a smaller size than I did when I was 13 years old, and I have complete freedom and mobility.  I asked myself if it was worth the effort to keep going on the weight loss journey.

Quickly, I realized that the answer was a resounding yes!  Why?  Because, I am worth it.  I am worth being the best me I can possibly achieve, and part of that includes not giving up on my goals, be it with weight loss or in other areas of my life (which is why I continue to read hundreds of pages of textbooks each week and write more papers than I can count, because I WILL finally earn my degree!)  And today, I want to encourage you as well.  Let me remind you that you are worth pursuing your goals.  Don’t give up in the middle of your journey because you’re tired, or it seems too big of a job to finish.  Don’t get complacent and satisfied with the progress you’ve made part-way and never make it to the finish line.  Don’t lose sight of the dreams you have in your heart and the goals you’ve set for yourself, because you can accomplish them!

I have just 59.7 more pounds to lose until I reach my goal of losing 225 pounds!  What’s your goal, and what are you going to do to make sure you reach it?

DON’T FORGET:

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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Quick Update

Hey folks!  I wanted to stop in and write a quick post to let you know that I haven't fallen off the face of the planet, really!  My writing schedule for school this semester has been insane, plus I've had a couple of skits to write for church the last two weeks, so when I score a few minutes of down time, I'm spent, and just cannot get myself to write anything else!

I do have several posts that I'm planning to get out soon...Some interesting happenings and perspectives I'm looking forward to sharing, so bear with me!

In the meanwhile, I hope you all had a beautiful Easter!

DON’T FORGET:

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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Out of the Picture

This past weekend, I took a new photo to mark my weight loss progress.  So far, I have lost 161 pounds, and I was wearing a new outfit, so I thought it was a great time for a photo!  I’ve put it next to a “before” photo just to show the differences in the two.  In the before photo, taken in October 2009, I was wearing an outfit in a size 36.  In my newest photo, my dress is a size 18, and my jacket is a 14/16!  Ahhhh!!!  That means, from my largest, at a size 36, I have now come down 9 dress sizes to an 18.  That, my friends, feels pretty amazing!

As I was pulling out my before photo file today, I ended up looking through several albums I have stored online, and came to the realization that I don’t have a whole lot of “before” photos to choose from.  For almost every event, be it birthdays, Christmas, vacations, etc., there are only one or two photos of me, which I call the token “yes, mom was there” photos, and in those,  I almost always either have my children standing in front of me, or they’re head-and-shoulders-only shots. 

I mentioned in a previous post that being extremely overweight causes a lot of emotional baggage, in various ways.  I believe this is a great example of that fact.  At my highest weight, I did my best to always be the one behind the camera.  I have, literally, thousands of photos of my children, but only a handful that include me.  And then, I used to go through and delete many of the photos I was actually in (from when someone else would grab my camera) from off the camera before even uploading them to the computer.  I didn’t want to leave a photographic trail of myself for anyone to look back on and remember what I looked like.

You see, at my largest size, I struggled in two ways with being unseen.  First, I often felt overlooked, with my accomplishments and abilities often being ignored or passed by because of being so overweight.  At the same time, however, when you’re really big, the last thing you want is for anyone or anything to draw unnecessary attention to you.  So, you do your best to stay in the background, even though you’re longing to be part of whatever is going on.  So, both literally and figuratively, you’re out of the picture and going through an emotional tug-of-war over it.

As the weight continues to come off, I’m working through these issues.  I’m no longer afraid to have my picture taken, and I am learning to not be afraid of stepping out anymore.  A few years from now, when I look back through photos, I believe my albums will be filled with pictures that show me having the time of my life! 
 

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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Eeeewwwww" at the Pool


While on vacation in Chattanooga last weekend, I spent some time in the pool at the hotel.  It was your typical chain hotel indoor pool, which meant it was fairly small, and having more than 2 or 3 families in there at once made it feel very crowded.  My natural tendency in most situations is to keep to myself and to avoid crowded spaces, so when we first entered the pool area and I saw several other people already in the pool, my first reaction was to skip swimming altogether.  My sons, however, would not let me get away with it, and since I had promised them some pool time, well, I had to grin and bear it for their sakes.

We had been in the pool for about a half an hour, along with a man and his two sons, who looked to be about 5 and 9 years old, or so.  Also in the pool, was another family with the dad, mom, and teen-aged son.  The teen was asking his parents to take him to go eat, and what happened as they got out of the pool broke my heart…

As the mom from the other family got out of the pool and began to dry off, I saw that she was an extremely overweight woman.  The 5-year-old little boy from the other family immediately noticed her and started pointing at her and saying “Eeeewwwwww…” very loudly.  His dad looked at the woman and smiled (smirked?), but did nothing to correct his son’s rude behavior.  The child pointed and said it again a couple of times as the mom looked back at the boy and then quickly left the pool area ahead of her family.

Now, the 5-year-old boy may very well have been saying “Eeeewwww….” about any number of things, as boys that age sometimes do.  Maybe he hates the color blue, which was the color of the mom’s swimsuit.  Maybe he heard them say where they were going out to eat and it’s somewhere he doesn’t like to go.  Maybe he wasn’t pointing at her at all, but saw a mosquito flying through the air in front of him.  Maybe…

Regardless of what the child was truly thinking, I saw the look in that mom’s eyes, and I automatically put myself in her shoes.  If it had been me 20 months ago, before I started losing weight, and the boy had been pointing at me, I would have believed he was making fun of my weight and how I look in a bathing suit.  I would have ran to my hotel room and cried until there was nothing left of me, and vowed to stay away from the pool for the rest of my trip, lest that boy be there to make fun of me again.  My day would have been ruined, and I would have been crushed as I felt the sting of being publicly humiliated.

Behind the smiles and the laughter and the joyful exterior an overweight person might portray, very often are many layers of emotional scars received from the words and actions of others regarding their size.  For all of the excitement I’ve experienced through losing 161 pounds so far, I’ve also had to face the insecurities, the hurts, and the mental scripts that formed within me through nearly 40 years of being overweight.  I plan to address some of these in upcoming blogs.

In the meanwhile, that other mom and the little boy remain in my prayers.  My hope is that the mom can overcome the hurt that was so evident in her face that day, and that the little boy will grow to learn to speak only words of kindness to others.
 
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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Highs & Lows

I had the opportunity to spend the last three days in Chattanooga, TN, and had a great time!  While I was there, I definitely experienced some highs and some lows...

The high points of my trip...literally...included standing at the top of Lookout Mountain!

On top of Lookout Mountain
And running up stairs...I climbed several sets of stairs that are decorative/fun features out in front of the Tennessee Aquarium and at other locations in the city, and I counted almost 500 stairs total I climbed on Friday!  This is pretty amazing to me, since I used to avoid stairs at all costs, and now I climb them for fun!



I actually did not get out of breath at all climbing these!



In times past, you would have found me sitting here watching everyone else instead of climbing the stairs myself!

Another high point of my trip was tackling the Chattanooga pedestrian bridge!  Not only did I walk across it and back, I walked over 5 miles around the city and enjoyed every minute of it!  I kept thinking over and over again how wonderful it was to feel so free and to be able to walk wherever I wanted to go!



And, as I said, there was a low point during my trip as well...I took the one mile walking tour of Ruby Falls, a cave with an underground waterfall that lies over 1,100 feet below Lookout Mountain!  It was beautiful!



It was a great long weekend that served as a wonderful reminder to me of just how far I've come on my journey.  I look forward to many more vacations filled with new adventures and activities in the days ahead!  I'm trying to get up my courage for ziplining, hot air balloon rides, and rock climbing in the near future!

DON’T FORGET:

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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tomorrows and Yesterdays

In costume, from "The Music Man"
Well, it’s over…the 3+ months of rehearsals, followed by 18 performances during the course of the last three weekends, and “The Music Man” has now become another part of my history.  It’s kind of bittersweet, really.  The schedule was extremely intense, and in many ways, I was ready for it to be over to return to my “normal” life.  There were a lot of things I had to put on hold to be a part of this show.  Among those, I have not been to the gym in a while, and I took a session off from school.  Getting home from rehearsals and shows anywhere from 10:30pm-midnight kept me from getting up at 4:45am for the gym, and there’s no way I could have kept up with schoolwork during the production while still working full-time.  On the other hand, I have to say, upending my schedule was well worth it and I was truly sad to see it come to an end!  I gained a whole new theatre family with our cast and crew, loved getting to experience it all with my oldest son, was reminded how much I love performing classic Broadway musicals, and had a few life lessons reinforced along the way. 

For instance, it can be so easy to get stuck in a rut of how we think we’re supposed to be living our lives, can’t it?  I mean, if we’re at least reasonably responsible, we get up every day and tend to our duties, whether that be to family, school, church, work, or other things.  In doing so, time, money, and energy can be stretched thin, and dreams often get set off to the sidelines.  Trying something new, or taking a leap of faith, or embracing an adventure, fall outside of the realm of the possible, because they just don’t fit the mold of what we expect of ourselves, or what the others who influence our lives expect of us.  We get caught in the trap of “tomorrow…”

Pushing dreams, risk, and exploration off until “tomorrow” keeps us chained to the past.  It's the classic case of doing "what I've always done".  Think about it…Examples of saying you’ll “get around to it” at some point in the future find their way into everyday matters, such as:

I’ll start eating right tomorrow…means you’ll keep putting junk into your body and gaining weight today

I’ll forgive that person tomorrow…means you’ll continue to bear the damaging weight of a grudge today

I’ll take the steps to start my own business or apply for that new job tomorrow…means you’ll still feel chained to your desk today

I’ll invest in relationships with others tomorrow…means you’ll stand alone today

I’ll try something new tomorrow…means you’ll miss out on opportunities and excitement today

At one point in the script for “The Music Man”, one of the characters speaks the most profound line of the entire show.  He says,

“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.  I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering”
 ~ The Music Man ~

I want each of my days to be worth remembering!  I spent far too many days being afraid to try new things, afraid to let go of what was comfortable and familiar, and afraid to grad hold of something new.  Our lives are made up of days.  We only get so many of them, and I want each and every one of mine to be extraordinary!

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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sidelines to Frontlines

Whew!  The last week and a half has been crazy in so many ways!  Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of last week were our full dress and technical rehearsals for “The Music Man” and Wednesday night was our final rehearsal that doubled as a preview night for a small audience of friends and family.  Everything went really well and the entire cast and crew were excited about opening night on Thursday.

Thursday morning around 11am I received a call from our director, saying that the actress who was playing the role of “Mrs. Paroo” (one of the major roles in the show!) had just come from the doctor and was very sick with the flu and would not be able to perform.  She asked if I thought I might be able to learn her part and fill in…without going into all the details of that very stressful, yet extremely exciting afternoon, in the end, I was able to memorize all of the lines and songs, capture the Irish accent that was needed for the part, and perform the role…with just 6 hours of rehearsal!  I felt honored to be able to perform the part for all 6 shows over the weekend.  God was truly with me and enabled me to perform this role, of that, I have no doubt whatsoever!  His ability far exceeds mine every time!  It was so much fun and something I will never forget!

After spending the previous 8 straight days at the theatre, we were due for some much needed family time, and thanks to the President’s Day holiday, the boys were out of school and I didn’t have to work, so we were off to the zoo!  Using my runner’s app, I logged in over 3 miles of walking the paths and trails while we visited our favorite animal friends, and even after such a long week, I felt energized and enjoyed the day.  Our local zoo has a huge outdoor jungle gym, complete with wooden forts and a maze of rope nets to climb through.  In the past, I would have happily made use of the benches they’ve provided for weary parents, but not anymore!  I climbed through everything right alongside my boys, and although I have to admit that I was a bit scared of the nets, I jumped on out there and climbed through them anyway!  Before we left, we took a ride on the carousel, and for the first time since I was a child, I actually climbed up and rode on one of the animals myself, instead of just sitting on a bench watching the boys go around.

So, between moving from an ensemble role to the part of Mrs. Paroo over the weekend, and choosing to play and participate in activities with my kids instead of just watching them have fun without me, I feel like this weekend I’ve taken a huge leap from the sidelines to the frontlines.  These are things that I would have never dreamed of doing 157 pounds ago, and I’ve loved every minute of it and been so thankful for these experiences!


Riding the carousel at the zoo!  Not the most flattering picture, but the only one we had time to grab before we had to get off or pay for another ride!
(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Functional is Fabulous!

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity!  Our rehearsals for “The Music Man” have ramped up to four days a week and are running between 3-4 hours each.  I can hardly believe the show opens next week!  Along with the show, I’m also still working 40 hours a week at the investment firm, with an additional 10 hours of commute time to get there and back each week, I’m taking care of my responsibilities at church, and I’m managing to sit down to dinner with my family every night.

We had our first rehearsal with costumes Monday evening, and it’s amazing how much that changes things and the extra amount of energy that takes.  I have four major costumes I wear in the production, and counting all of the shoes, hats, individual garments, and other accessories, I’ve got over 30 pieces to deal with personally, in addition to keeping up with all of my son’s costume pieces and changes as well.  I promise, I'll have pictures soon!  Oh yeah, and in between running back and forth to the dressing room and changing costumes every few minutes, I actually have to make it on stage for my scenes!

As I think about the frantic pace this show requires for rehearsals, and as we head into six performances each weekend for the next three weeks (one performance on Thursday and Friday evenings, and both matinee and evening performances on Saturdays and Sundays), I cannot help but realize that before I began losing weight, I could have never met the physical demands of a production like this.  I was barely managing to make it to work and church, and there’s no way I could have added a show of this level.  I was still directing productions with our church drama department, but I had to do it from a chair, which for someone who is as hands-on as I am by nature, that was an awful restriction to deal with!  Physically, I just could not have done “The Music Man”, and I would have missed out on the joy of performing in one of my all-time favorite productions and being able to do so with my oldest son.

In the past 19 months that I’ve been losing weight, however, I’ve experienced a complete turn around in my physical capabilities and mobility.  There was a time a couple of years ago where I had reached the point where it would take 20-30 minutes for me to go from a lying down position on the couch or bed to standing up because the pain in my back was so severe, and that is no exaggeration whatsoever.  Once I was finally standing, I could not remain on my feet for more than 2 or 3 minutes.  I couldn’t bend over to tie my shoes or put on socks.  Trying to go into a store was terrible…an aisle or so in, and I would be bent over the shopping cart in tears, trying to take the pressure off my spine and looking for a bench somewhere to sit down.  I could barely get in and out of the car, and I always had to be dropped off at the door of anywhere I went with others so that I took as few steps as possible.  I retreated farther and farther into the role of a spectator in life, because I just couldn’t participate any longer.

The limitations I experienced when I was heavier were horrible, but I can honestly say that now, even though I’m not yet at my goal weight, I have absolutely none of the pain or problems I used to have.  Losing 157 pounds has given me my life back!

I can literally pop up out of bed.
I can get down on the floor and play with my children.
I can dance around the kitchen with my family.
I can stand as long as I need to. 
I can go to events and attractions and walk around all day. 
I can park at the far end of a parking lot. 
I can shop without dropping.  
I can stand all the way through the worship part of the services at church.
I can run.
I can do whatever I want to or need to do without my body holding me back.

My life, which used to be framed by the words “I can’t” is now defined by all of the “I can’s” I can possibly come up with!  Regaining complete function and mobility is fabulous! 

So…on with the show!

(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Give Up and Gain

In a recent conversation about my weight loss someone asked me, “What was the hardest thing for you to give up?”  As I thought about it, there’s no one particular food item that came to mind as being particularly hard to give up.  Aside from fast food (which I talk about here), I haven’t really cut many things out completely.  Instead, the past 19 months have been teaching me how to live my life with a healthy balance in my food choices, which is something I’ve never had until now. 

There are things I have definitely cut way back on.  Butter, sauces, dips, and dressings are what I consider trouble served in a little cup.  Think about it…in a restaurant, these items are served in innocent looking small portions on the side of a plate, but they pack a huge calorie wallop with little to no nutritional value, and I’m just not willing to accept that any more.  While I may occasionally have a tiny amount of one if it’s very a good quality, I’ve found that most food actually tastes much better if it’s not swimming in a pourable or spreadable topping!

I really can’t think of anything else that I’ve completely eliminated.  I have made more healthy substitutions and swaps than I can keep up with, and as a result, I haven’t ever felt deprived of things I really enjoy. Throughout my 156 pound loss to-date, I have eaten out at restaurants at least a couple of times each week, I’ve had cake at birthday parties, and survived several church potluck events.  My family and I eat the same meals for dinner together every night (except when I swap broccoli slaw for pasta…I haven’t gotten the kids on board for that one yet!), and we make homemade pizza every so often.  Portion control, more nutritious ingredients, and overall healthier choices have made all the difference!

As I think about it, I guess I have given up some other things, but in doing so, I’ve gained so much more…

- I have given up spending time in front of the television…and gained lean muscle and functional strength by going to the gym to workout!

- I have given up fast food…and gained freedom from severe reflux problems!

- I have given up a negative self-image…and gained a sense of empowerment!

- I have given up the idea that I can do this on my own…and gained a new understanding of Philippians 4:13 that tells me I really can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

- I have given up living in a constant state of denial…and gained a clear sense of reality!

- I have given up feeling out of control…and gained a peaceful balance!

- I have given up overeating…and gained my mobility!

- I have given up defeat…and gained victory!

The value of what I have gained far outweighs what I’ve given up.  There’s just no comparison!  What will you gain if you make the choice to give something up today?

(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fast Food Flashbacks

I have mentioned from time to time that I used to eat a lot of fast food.  By “a lot” I mean, in the five years (or more) before I overhauled my lifestyle in June 2011 to reflect healthier choices, I went through the drive-through anywhere from 10-12 (sometimes more) times each week.  Most days Monday through Friday, I would pick up breakfast to eat in the car on the way to work, and then run out again to get something for lunch.  Saturday lunches were handed through the window quite often too, especially during our busiest seasons of rehearsals for our drama productions at church, and many Sunday mornings found me in line yet again to get breakfast on the way to service.  It’s hard to write about this, because admitting your bad habits is never easy, especially in a public forum.  My hope, however, is that by sharing my experiences, other people can find that change IS possible!  The fast food addict is who I used to be, but it is definitely not who I am today!

As I look back, I’ve realized that my addiction to all things served in a paper bag began years ago, when I was still a teenager.  With the independence of driving and having a little money in my pocket came the ability to eat a burger and fries just about any time I wanted to.  It was easy enough to dispose of the trash before coming home, so my parents never knew just how much junk food I was consuming.  As someone who has been involved in music since I was 12 and theatre since I was 14, I’ve always had evening rehearsals and performances to attend.  Once I started going to those on my own, I developed a terrible habit of getting things like milkshakes and fries late at night on my way home.

Since I’ve been in rehearsals for “The Music Man” for the last few weeks, as I’m driving to and from the theatre, I pass by 10 different fast food restaurants (that I can readily think of to count right now), and typically I don’t give them a second thought.  One night recently though, I had what I call a “fast food flashback”.  It was a little thought that I could pull into one of the places for a “snack”.  Now, what’s totally absurd about this is the fact that I have only eaten something from a fast food restaurant 4 or 5 times in the last 19 months, and those have been when we were traveling out West and literally had no other options, and then I only got simple fruit cups or plain grilled chicken and we went inside and sat down (to avoid the drive through itself).

As quickly as the thought came, I was surprised by it, but immediately pushed it aside.  I smiled at the strength I felt as I drove on by, knowing that I truly have no desire for that kind of food anymore.  What it made me realize even more, however, is that temptation will rear its ugly head now and then.  The key to overcoming it, I believe, is threefold.  First, I am determined to see my commitment through to my goal weight and then continuing on to live a healthy lifestyle for the rest of my days.  Second, I did not entertain thoughts of giving in to the temptation.  I didn’t start thinking about how good it might be “just this one time” or how much I “miss it” (I really don’t miss it, and actually, the smell of fast food makes me sick to my stomach if someone around me has it these days).  Lastly, I opened up and told someone I’m accountable to about the temptation.  Even though it was no more than a fleeting thought and I felt no desire to actually run through the drive-through, I told both my husband and my sister about it.  Talking about it with someone I can trust helps strengthen my resolve and re-emphasizes my commitments. 

Have you ever had a "flashback" of a prior habit?  How did you overcome it?


(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Firecrackers and Pilot Lights

As we’re now a little more than a week into the new year of 2013, I have to admit that the sheer number of television and radio commercials dedicated to weight loss products and services is a bit overwhelming.  In addition, retailers are on the proverbial bandwagon as well by putting all things workout-related on sale this month.  It’s as though the whole country starts a collective diet and exercise plan about the time the last of the Christmas dinner leftovers have been eaten or thrown out.

While I’m obviously a strong advocate for eating healthy foods and exercising, and sincerely applaud anyone who decides to make healthy improvements in their life, I can’t help but think of all the money that will be spent for gym memberships that will only be used a few times and forgotten about, and all of the trendy workout clothes that will be purchased only to be donated to the local thrift stores in a few months.  So many people go into the new year with the best intentions for their “resolutions” of diet and exercise.  Sadly, a majority of those resolutions go unfulfilled.

The way I see it, a person can make a resolution regarding changes they want to make in their life, and they’ll either become like a firework or like a pilot light.  Let me explain…

Fireworks are exciting!  They are typically displayed at important times of the year, most often during the holidays or at a big celebration.  Fireworks go off with a “BANG!” and because of this, they draw a lot of attention.  They get the “ooohhh’s” and “ahhhh’s” of onlookers and infuse the air with energy…but only briefly.  You see, that’s the thing about fireworks.  After the initial flash, they sizzle through the air as the spark burns out and they fade away.  There's no long-lasting comittment with a firework.  Fireworks are the perfect example of the expression, “well, it was great while it lasted”.

A pilot light, on the other hand, is not very exciting at all.  Honestly, most people don’t really think about a pilot light all that much.  It’s small and usually hidden away underneath or behind an appliance like a hot water heater or a stove.  No one boasts, “Hey, have you seen my pilot light lately?  Come on out to the garage a take a look!”  The beauty of a pilot light, however, is that it has an ongoing job to do and it just keeps on burning.  Did you catch that?  It just keeps on burning…

Resolutions can be like the exciting, but temporary firework, exploding into the new year with lots of pizzazz but forgotten about rather quickly.  Resolutions can also be like the ho-hum, yet continually burning pilot light that stays committed to getting the work done, day in and day out.

Me?  I’d rather be a pilot light than a firework any day!

(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy 2013!

Wow!  When I look back over 2012, it was an incredibly full year!  Some of the health and weight-related highlights for me included:

- Losing 92.1 pounds during the year
- Not having to take reflux medicine even once this year
- Regaining strength in my back and reclaiming my mobility
- Joining a gym
- Discovering that I actually enjoy working out
- Running a 5K distance in the local park in under 46 minutes
- Going down FIVE sizes in jeans (from a 32 to a 22)
- Going down from a size 30/32 to a size 18/20 in tops/dresses/jackets
- Teaching my “Reflections” Bible study series to a great group of women

In my blog from 11/1/12 titled “2012 Year End Goals” I listed 7 specific goals I made for myself to accomplish between 11/1/2 and 12/31/12.  Here’s my list of hits and misses:

1) Lose 15 pounds (this will put me exactly 75 pounds away from my final goal weight!) 
            RESULT: I lost 19 pounds across November and December!!!

2) Work out 3 times a week, even on holiday weeks
            RESULT:  As I noted in a previous post, I am in rehearsals for a show called, “The Music Man”, which I am having a fabulous time with, however, it has thrown my gym schedule into a tizzy!  I have not been in the gym nearly as often as I would have liked to have been, however, I’m getting in some cardio in dance rehearsals, and I’m getting ready to start the 30-Day Shred video workouts at home.

3) Increase the intensity of my workouts (higher weights, increased sets/reps, etc.)
            RESULT:  My trainer at the gym has reformatted my workout to help me accomplish this, and as soon as my show finishes, I’m going to head into my new routine.  For now, the videos at home will at least provide a fresh approach and keep me moving.

4) Register for my first 5K run
            RESULT:  I had planned to register for the local zoo’s 5K, which is held in January, however, I’ve got a rehearsal I can’t miss on the day of the run, so I’m going to look for a 5K for March or April instead.  I just need to find one now and get registered!

5) Increase my running speed/endurance (move from running intervals to extended periods of running)
            RESULT:  I have been making improvements in this area, but still have a long way to go!  This will be an ongoing goal.

6) Go down one size in jeans
            RESULT:  Yes!  I was in a size 24 on November 1st, and am currently in a size 22, and  am not too far from moving down again to a size 20.  The last time I wore a size 20 jeans,  I was in the 7th grade!

7) Pay attention to and appreciate the people and interactions at holiday gatherings more than the food
            RESULT:  I had one of the best holiday seasons I can remember having!  I truly enjoyed my time with family and friends and didn’t stress over food.  I wasn’t fixated on the goodies, but I wasn’t scared to eat either.  I kept things in balance far more than I indulged.  I had more hugs than cookies, and that equals success!

How was your holiday season?  Did you accomplish your goals?  What are you working on for 2013?




(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)