Monday, November 30, 2015

Who do you say that I am?

In New Testament scriptures, Jesus asks, "Who do you say that I am?"

This past week, I've been thinking about that question. Not only in how it applies to my faith.  However, it's made me question who I am as a person. Take away all outside influences from  church, politics, the news, peers, work and social media, I wonder, "Do I tell the world who I am, or do I live by who the world says I am?"

It's a simple question.  I have spent forty years with myself, you would think I knew who I was, right? What are the basics of who I am.

I can say that the last few months have been extremely difficult.  Lots of crying and tears. The emotional and mental part of my weight loss journey is starting to catch up.  It's over whelming.

Of course, it comes at a time when I start a new job, and injured.  Both stressful situations by themselves.   I am up to the challenge and accept it.  I know that I will conquer the challenge and come out on top a much better, stronger person.

There are many days I feel like a life of contradictions.  I feel strong, but have moments of weakness.  I cry often behind closed doors.  I love dumb jokes and love to laugh, yet I take life to literally and am serious most of the time with people. I don't hold back telling someone I love them, but hide my hurt feelings and cry alone to avoid confrontation.

One day, a healthy lifestyle change will emerge in me to make positive self esteem and respect.  Learning who I am. Offering the many gifts God has placed in my life and blessed me with.

In a recent conversation with a friend, I told him that this year has been emotional in many ways.  I ran my first marathon, turned forty, and started dating again.   It's been hard, but it's every bit been worth the struggle to be standing here today.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me. " Tracee Ellis Ross
Frustrated.  Anxious.  Fearful.  Grateful.  Blessed.  Thankful. A wide range of emotions.  Yet I have felt all of them this past week.  Sometimes within a matter of minutes of each other.  Its been an emotional roller coaster for me.
As I mentioned in my last blog, I was having complications with my left foot upon returning from the marathon in Dayton.  After Ryan sent me home from the gym that day, I did make an appointment to see the doctor.  However, the pain in my foot was bad enough, I went in to the ER because I could hardly walk. 
After x-rays and a brief meeting with the attending doctor, they diagnosed me with a heel spur and Plantar Fasciitis.  They put me in a walking boot, and put me on medications to help me. 
When they asked if I had questions, I looked at them and asked, "When can I run again?" The look on their face was priceless.  They just replied, "It may be a few weeks, that running was why I was hurt." 
Its kind of ironic, that the one thing that I struggled with in my journey to start doing, is the one activity that I truly miss doing now.  I very much have a love hate relationship with running.  However, its become my outlet in life, my stress relief.  My addiction.  I can not wait until I am able to start back to running.
The hardest part of being unable to run right now, is learning how to work out in the gym, without doing any cardio.  To learn how to workout around the current needs that I have.  Just doing upper body workouts or working on my abs.  At this time, I am only allowed to do things in a seated position while I am in the gym so that I am not putting pressure on my foot. 
Learning to listen to my body, and respect the needs it has so that it can heal properly is important.  Mentally, I want to be able to  put a good full body workout in.  Physically, my body is telling me to calm down and heal. 
What it comes down to right now, is that I am scared of going back to my old ways.  I don't want to become that woman again who is over 300 lbs. and miserable.  As much as I tried to pretend I was happy then, deep down, I was not. That girl is in my past, where she needs to be.
I very much enjoy the active life that I have now where I am spending time doing fun things with friends, and just enjoying life.  Loving myself enough to be goofy and crazy doing random things with friends or family.  At this time, I just have to be cautious of what I eat and my activity levels. 
This way I am not injuring myself and can focus on other aspects of my life.  Making better life choices.  Choices that need to be made soon so I can become an even better version of myself.  Though these decisions are hard, I know they are needed, and I have to respect the process that I am going through. 
All though right now, this part of the process scares me.  Not knowing how soon I will be able to fully start training again for more races.  Its hard.  Even if I may not be able to do long distance runs again, and just do short races, I will be okay with that.  I just want to keep becoming a better version of myself.  Knowing that I have done something I had never done before, that is something I am proud of. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly." Proverb

Over the last several weeks, my fellow co-workers and I have been watching caterpillar's go their the different stages into becoming beautiful butterflies.  It has been an incredibly fascinating process to watch, as they grow into full blown caterpillar's, form their cocoons, and then break free and come out a butterfly.  Just this week, we released the last butterfly so he could join others as they migrate south to Mexico for the winter. 
Watching the caterpillars over the last several weeks, has had me extremely intrigued in many ways.  I would get really excited at the different stages.  There were times I would just sit and watch them.  Made me think about the journey that I have been on the last couple of years as I struggle to get healthy. Many times, I would think, "I wonder if Ryan gets as excited watching me go through my different phases, good and bad, as I do watching these caterpillar's."  Of coarse, he is the only one who can answer that. 
This week, has been an important week for me in my journey.  It has been a week of rest and recovery from running the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio.  It is always important to make sure to take care of our bodies after such an intense workout.  I had used the day after the race, as my rest day, and then go into the gym that Monday to do yoga and use the bike to stretch out my muscles.
It was also part of my recovery plan to make sure I ate and hydrated properly and still go enough sleep before and after the race.  This was important so that I did not get myself sick during or after the race.  I needed the proper nutrients and rest to keep my energy levels up.  There are a few things I still need to work on when doing long distance races, but its a learning process for me since I am still new to the running world. 
I will admit, when I made an attempt to go to the gym to do a light workout on Tuesday, Ryan sent me home.  He insisted I take additional time off because he took one look at me, and could tell my foot was in pain.  I am not sure at which part of the race I hurt my foot because at one point, my whole body hurt. I just kept running despite the discomfort because I chalked it up to being normal due to the distance being ran.
However, I am thankful for the additional time away from the gym to fully recover and give my body the proper rest it needs so it can heal properly. My body needs the time to adjust to a normal schedule.  The rest and recovery part of the process is hard for me.  Mentally, I want to be in the gym because that is what I have grown accustomed to.  Physically, my body is telling me to stay away to regroup.
The last 20 months, has had its share of challenges in my journey to a healthier, better version of myself.  It does not matter if my journey is perfect, or I become the best at something.  It is always a matter of me becoming a perfect me, the best me possible. 
It has been an incredible blessing to me, that Ryan has stuck with me through this whole process.  He has had a front seat to watching me turn from a cranky, tired catipillar who could barely do anything in the gym, to a girl is restless not getting to run and exercise.  The transformation he has helped make is nothing short of amazing, and I look forward to continuing to work with him in the future to see what else happens.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Preparing to Do The Impossible

As I Write This Blog,  I'm on my way to Dayton,  Ohio for the Air Force Base Marathon.  It seems so surreal that race weekend is  here already.   Months of training for this.    At first it felt like time was going so slow.   Now,  it feels like it appoached  so fast.

The last few months,  this has been more of a mental journey for me.   Learning who I am becoming as I adapt to my new physical self.   It's a struggle at times letting go of my old self  image so I can move forward.

There have definitely been a lot of tears, especially in August when I turned 40.  It hit me then that I was in much better shape than  when I graduated from high school. Not a lot of people can say that.  Fortunately for me,  I had the help of an amazing trainer whose been great for, pushed and  challenged me in ways I never thought possible.

I can say that I'm a much better person,  mentally,  physically and emotionally because of my time with Ryan Rose.  He's truly kept me  grounded in this process, while showing me a way to being truly dependant of myself and flying on my own with the support of many others. My hope is that I Always do my best to honor him in a positive reflction in my fitness  journey.

There were many times in my  life I thought how nice it would be to run a marathon.   However, in those moments, it was physically impossible  due to my extreme size.   Now,  I'm a third of my old self. Running my first Marathon with 15,000 other athletes.

This year,  I am running  in honor of those fighting invisible medical issues.  Rather it be depression, PCOS, PTSD, Auto Immune Disorder, Mental Illness,   and those who deal with addiction, rather it's their private addiction or a loved one who fights it. This run is for all of  you.

This run run I obviously am doing for myself as well.  I benefit from this race physically and mentally. Running is mostly a mental sport and you have to keep pushing yourself.  For myself, this is allowing  those barriers to come down   I've kept up for so long.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Its hard to believe that it is fall already!  This is one of my favorite times of the year.  Its the season of sweatshirts,shorts, football, and pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING!  It is also the time of year where kids start back to school. 

I remember always being nervous starting school.  Excited about the new year and what would happen, what memories would be made.  It was always nerve wrecking as well because I was always
nervous about my class load, and if I were pushing myself hard enough, and if I would be able to fit in everything I wanted or needed.

I grew up in small, Appalachian village an hour east of Columbus.  The high school had corn fields and a chicken coupe up the hill the smelled awful in the spring and fall when we opened the windows.  We had FFA, 4H, Drive your tractor to school day, and we always had the first day of gun season off of school for the deer hunters.

In the last few weeks, I have had conversations with others about school starting because my friends either have kids in school, or they are in the education system.  I am still in touch with several friends who became teachers after high school.  In our conversations, we see the striking differences in our generation, and the youth today.

Most of the kids I grew up with, were average sized kids.  There were a couple who may have been classified as underweight, and some who were considered overweight or morbidly obese.  However, most were fairly average. 

What concerns me with this generation, is that it is not the case any longer.  Kids are much bigger now than what they used to be.  There are many reasons for this. I believe that technology plays a large part in that.  Kids have easy access to computers, cell phones and game units to help them stay "connected" to others. 

The kids in school who were not comfortable with themselves due to their size, it shows. Those who do not understand what the student is going through, take advantage of the situation and tease and taunt the less confident.  Depending on how long the teasing, bullying lasts and the age at which it starts, it can leave a lasting impression on a very vulnerable child that can lead into adulthood. 

While I was in  high school and college, my way of staying connected was picking up the house phone saying, "Lets go outside and play game XYZ!!"  We were outside being active socially, not looking at our phones every two minutes to see what someone was doing.  Cell phones were just starting to take off while I was in college, so there was no unlimited calling to whoever I wanted.  There were long distance charges. 

To this day, I still keep in touch with my former high school English teacher.  Mr. Frank had spent some time as an elementary school principal.  Mr. Frank had explained that more often than not, he could tell by the students, if the parents are in shape or if they are overweight because the habits are passed down to the kids.  He did say that its not always the case, but it is more often than not.

In our conversation, Mr. Frank, had wondered if there were a direct correlation in being in a lower level income bracket and a families fitness level, which then also ties in with the intelligence of the person or family.  If a person is not getting fed properly, or getting the proper nutrients, they are not able to concentrate on studies or work and do not always have the energy to do high impact activities. 

My conversations with my friends in the education system really made me think.  We are all individuals, and want to see a change in how kids today eat and be more active socially, away from technology and learn to be more confident in themselves by physically interacting with kids, and learn new perspectives from one another.

It makes me wonder if there is a program that could be started where low or medium level income parents could come in and be taught how to eat healthy on a budget.  How to plan healthy meals, and prepare them, and have the kids involved in the process so they can learn how to be more active in their dietary needs early in life.  This way, they can learn to try new foods other than Ramon noodles and chicken nuggets.  (I know, popular staples in most house holds with kids.)

It is my hope, to one day see the kids start putting technology down, and be more active with their friends.  Not just physically playing sports, but getting to know them on a more personal level that goes beyond lol, bff, likes and comments on Facebook.  Making lasting memories with family and friends instead of learning to live a life where it is acceptable to be fit, healthy and happy long after you leave school.

Friday, September 4, 2015

"They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." Andy Warhol

In many conversations that I have with others, often times we talk about our lives goals, or why we have  not gone after certain dreams or desires.  The most common response is that they don't have time to make the change, no matter how bad the situation is. Other times the person is scared to go after the dream because of failure and the ridicule they may receive from loved ones.

In the last month, three people from varies points in my life have passed away.  It really has made me think about how precious life is, and how we should maximize our time while we have it.  Telling those who mean the most to us how we feel, and forgive those how have wronged us, and to also forgive ourselves for our mistakes, to others and ourselves. 

My one friend who died, was just a couple years younger than myself.  He was such a perfect example of the kind of person I strive to be.  Always laughing, joking and having fun, while at the same time, being somebody that I could talk to openly about life and well, just anything. 

His death hit me hardest, because it very well could have been me.  Seeing his struggles with his heart issues, I knew that if I didn't get my weight under control, my weight was going to control my life.  I wanted to live life out loud, with others, instead of hiding behind closed doors being scared of others.

By learning to eat right, and be in the gym most days, its definitely prolonged my life a lot. Its provided me with a much better quality of life by deciding to get healthy, and go after my life long dreams.  Its provided me with the confidence, self-esteem and mental changes needed to think more clearly to make better decisions for my life.  Though there are still adjustments that I am making, and goals I am reaching for, its a much better, improved life than before.

I would encourage anybody, to make the time to improve the situation they most want to improve.  We have but one life to life, and one body to live that life in.  Enjoy the life that you have while making those improvements.  Learn to love your life, your self, and those who are in your life, family, your friends, even those you adopted as family. 

There are simple swaps you could make to improve your health.  Instead of eating out at lunch while at work, pack your lunch.  Doing this, not only saves you money in the long run, but it saves you calories, and you know exactly what you are putting in your body.  (The money you save by packing your lunch, you could invest in a gym membership.)  When you go to the mall or grocery store, park a little further away and get more steps in. If you watch t.v. you could use the commercial breaks to walk up and down the stairs or do weights. 

I should take the time to say thank you to Fisher-Titus for sponsoring the Fit Challenge, and the Couch to 5K meet ups in Norwalk and Sandusky.  It is a great cause that has changed my life greatly, and I am grateful to see that its going to be continued so that others lives are changed as well.  Godspeed to those who are taking the steps to get healthy.  It will greatly improve your life by leaps and bounds.

In two weeks, I will be in Dayton, running the Air Force Marathon.  Quite often lately, I've been told I am crazy for doing it. Which I laugh with them and agree, because who does this so soon after a major weight loss. Apparently I do, because its been a goal most of my life to be able to run a marathon, and to one day make it to Boston. 

These last two weeks before the race will be hardest because I have to start tapering, cutting back on the intensity of my workouts and runs. This is the part where I have to be mentally strong, and prepared to make it through the race.  The training and physical part are easy to overcome.  The mental part, will be conquered  as long as I stay focused on the goal. 

To my trainer, Ryan Rose, thank you for all your efforts in getting me to this point.  You've seen me through some horrible times, and have been a great trainer and friend to me through this.  Your simply amazing.  You've also been part of my proudest moments as well.  Thank you for all you continue to do.  I could not be more proud of you than what I am right now. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

"If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail." Unknown

Those that I am closest with, can attest to the fact that my life revolves around food.  At any given time, I am either eating, talking, thinking or cooking food. 

I have the appetite of a growing teenage boy some days, often walking through the front door, throwing my things down and saying, "I am starving." Its more often than not heard when I come home, physically exhausted from the gym or a run.

Food is an essential part of our lives, and is a necessity to live.  The quality of our diets, definitely affects the quality of our health and our lives.   Over the last couple of years I can say I notice a complete and total difference in how I feel mentally and physically just from making the switch from eating poorly to eating mostly healthy foods.

Its been a struggle some days to eat right on really busy days.  Especially on the days that unexpected things come up, and I am not able to eat at my scheduled time, or I forget my lunch at home. Although, I normally try to plan ahead and set every thing out so that there are no unexpected blunders or surprises with my food during the day. 

Every week, when I get my schedule for work, I sit down and make a schedule for my weekly workouts, including my independent runs outside of the gym, and my sessions with Ryan, and other strength training in the gym.  I fill in my weekly planner around other things and see how active I will be each day.

Once I get my weekly planner put together, that is when I make my grocery list and meal plan for that week.  One of the things that I have learned working with Ryan is how important it is to eat and plan according to my activity level.  If I am going to be more physically active, of course I am going to need more energy and fuel to get through the day verses a day where I get to be lazy where I need less food.  Its still an issues of calories in vs. calories out. 

On the days that I know I'll be doing long runs, I will plan my food intake to have a little bit of carbs the night before and to eat properly for it in the morning before I head out the door.  The other days when I know I wont be as active, its a  lot of veggies and lean proteins. 

At this point in time, I know that my diet will be changing in a few weeks when I run the Air Force Marathon in Dayton.  This is something I am nervous about.  Not the race, as I am confident in my training as far as that goes.  (I still have to train hard for the race leading up to the mandatory tapering process and necessary rest period doing what is right.)

My food intake in the days leading up to the race is what I am concerned about.  This is the first time that I am traveling for a few days since I have lost all my excess weight.  So that is going to be tough by itself to see if I can stick with the meal plan, especially for a major race.

Leaning to eat around my daily activities is starting to become a natural habit.  It is still a learning process for me though.  Planning for all the different scenarios  through out the week is important so there are no surprises. 

I do plan for cheat meals as well.  My cheat meals are normally not to horrible though because they are calories that still have to be worked off in the gym.  They are there more to keep me focused mentally so that I do  not have binge sessions with food and go way off coarse when life gets emotional or hard. 
Its just a matter of planning for day to day life.  We have to treat our body with respect and fuel it properly.  Just like you put premium fuel in a Benz, you should be putting premium fuel in your body for it to run well so it does not break down. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Success in life comes when you simply refuse to give up, with goals so strong that obstacles, failure, and loss only act as motivation." Unknown

Throughout life, we all have a set of goals we make.  A list of challenges we strive to beat to better ourselves.  Some of those goals are harder than others, that require smaller goals we must conquer first. 

The reasons why we start toward a goal or challenge are different for each of us.  Over time, the reason why you started may change, however, it is important to remain on the path toward the goal and stay motivated towards finishing regardless of why things have changed or the challenges that have come up.

When I originally started my weight loss journey, it was because I had an interest in dating again, and knew where I was physically, had to change.  Two years later, and close to my goal weight, my motivation for getting healthy has changed.  I had to learn to love myself through this process, instead of seeking love from other people to feel love.

Just like other goals and challenges in our life, we have to stay focused toward what we are working for.  Even when the reason we started is no longer valid.  Staying motivated takes work.  There are times it takes work and it is challenging at times when things get really hard. 

When things have gotten hard for me, especially at this point in the process, my reasons for sticking with it far out weigh the reasons for giving up and quitting.  The difference now, is that through this process in getting to know who I am, I have learned to trust my instincts and to also love and respect myself enough to keep  moving forward. 

During my health and fitness journey, I have kept making new goals to challenge myself.  Making new, harder goals that were once impossible for me to attempt,  have kept me focused and motivated to stay with this. 

In less than a month now, I will be running my first marathon in Dayton, Ohio.  There are times I wonder what possessed me to sign up for a full marathon.  I wonder if I am ready at times or if I am crazy for trying it.  However, at the same time, I can say that at this point, I feel ready for it, confident in my training that things will be okay regardless of my time. 

Like my other races in the past, my first race of that distance, I don't set a time on when I expect to finish.  My only goal for this race like all of them is to finish, and not come in last.  For this race, I am just there to enjoy the race and get the experience so that I know better what to do to run the Boston Marathon one day. 

Yes there are days it gets really hard for me.  There are definitely days I want to stop and quit it all.  I don't want to get up early some days to train.  Some meals are harder than others because I would love to be able to go back to eating what I used to occasionally. 

Those are the times I have to stop and reevaluate where I am.  Even though in those moments of weakness now, looking back, I don't want to go back to where I was physically or emotionally.  I am a much better, stronger person today because of the positive changes that I have made. 

No matter what are goals in life are, rather it be weight loss, finishing a degree, getting promotion or starting a business even, it is important to stick with goals.  Even if the reasons why we started are different now, it is important to stay focused, re-evaluate and keep moving forward.  We all become better because of the challenges we face, stick with your dreams.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Loving Someone On a Difficult Journey

Recently, I have been getting a lot of questions from others about how to help their loved ones lose weight.  That is a hard question to answer in some aspects, while still simple in a different aspect.  I am not a doctor or personal trainer to be giving out professional advice on how to help someone. 

However, the best thing that I can tell anyone, from my perspective of a person who has been through a major life transformation is this.  It applies to those who are going through situations beyond weight loss, like what I have been through.  It applies to drug addicts, alcoholics, or what ever addiction the person has in their life. 

My answer is this.  You have to love the person through the process.  The entire process.  Not just the end of the journey when they in are recovery, but in all stages of their journey. Even in the very early stages where its obvious they need help, but are unwilling to accept it.  Love them, and encourage them.

Don't sugar coat the situation they are in, but by no means should a person be made to be ashamed or belittled either.  We all need to know the consequences of our actions and how our personal decisions affect those around us.  We also need to be shown the positive rewards of what life will be like if we make the changes to do better for ourselves.  Not only for ourselves, but for our loved ones as well.

There were a lot of times during my struggle with food addiction and obesity, that people would say really rude, hurtful things.  I was bullied many times, looked down up and discriminated against because of my weight. Even by those who I thought were friends or cared about me. 

Several people tried to talk to me about me about losing weight and how it was important for my overall health.  Give me tips on what I should and should not do. All things I already knew.  Things I had heard many times before from doctors and other "concerned" loved ones.  What I would tell them most of the time, is that I didn't want to be lectured about food and be included on outings where some sort of physical activity was included.  An activity that I could do, or slightly above what I normally did so that I could challenge myself.

In order for anybody to make a complete change in life, and for it work, first and foremost, they have to want to change.  It can not be forced upon them or bullied into doing.  It has to be a sincere need and want on their part. 

It is also important that they have a strong support system that is going to love them through the process.  It has been a great blessing for me that I have had a wonderful support system around me on my journey.  My trainer especially has been absolutely amazing for me. For with out him, I know I would not have done as well.  His guidance, knowledge, support and love really made a difference in my life.  He never went easy on me, and never let me give up on myself.  That meant a lot to me.

There are a few select others who have loved my through this and hugged me and listened to me cry when it was hard.  That is what helped get me through this difficult journey.  Knowing that there were people who loved me enough to see me through this. 

For those who want to see their loved ones get help, the best I could tell you is to love them.  Be there for them.  Listen to them and give them positive feedback and encouragement, while directing them down a better life than where they currently are. 

As I sign off, the song, "I'm Going To Love You Through It" by Martina McBride comes to mind.  It means a lot to me.  Granted, the song talks about someone who has breast cancer.  However, it touched my heart just the same because the love I felt from others on my journey meant a lot. 

From "I'm Going to Love You Through It" By Martina McBride
When you're weak, I'll be strong
When you let go, I'll hold on
When you need to cry, I swear that I'll be there to dry your eyes
When you feel lost and scared to death,
Like you can't take one more breath
Just take my hand, together we can do this
I'm gonna love you through it.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Learning To Challenge Myself Beyond My Limits

Back in January, I chose to began a journey to challenge myself to do forty new things this year that I had not done before.  Or at least a different version of something I had done before.  It did not matter what it was, it was just a way to challenge myself to see what I have been missing out on since I tend to stick to the same routines a lot and seldom go out of my comfort zones. 

Well, initially, it came about because around Christmas time, my trainer and I were talking.  He told me that I needed to start meeting strangers and getting used to new things.  That I had to stop living my life like I was still living life like I was in my old body.  (This is paraphrased, and not exact wording.)  He loves to push my buttons to test my limits.  Pushing me out of my comfort zone so that I can become a better version of myself. 

However, after I went home and had thought about it for a long while,  I knew that he was right.  That I had to live a life that was fitting for the person I was becoming, and to stop living my life like I was the same person physically from my past. Essentially, it came down to the fact that I know that I am not the same person, physically, mentally or emotionally now when I first met Ryan.  I am not even the same person from six months ago or when he and I first had that conversation.

Doing this challenge, was more about finding new things that I like to do.  Trying new things I didn't know if I would like.  Some of the things I have tried, I will not do again.  Some of them, I may.  It is more about experimenting with life and taking risks.  Finding new passions and directions in life that we may not otherwise encounter by not challenging ourselves.

I have learned so much about myself during this process.  Learning to be flexible has been a struggle for me.  It is okay to go off my timeline, or off plan once in awhile.  There have been times when I have changed plans for the day and replaced the original with an even better plan that came up. 

Like the day spent with friends at Cedar Point.  My original plan was to go to the gym that day after work.  However, my friend messaged me that she was in town with the kids.  I gave up my plans for the gym to see them.  I knew that I was going to get cardio in by walking the park all night.  Plus, I could catch up with a special friend and spend time getting to know her kids.  It was a great night learning new things and getting different perspectives and life challenges.

One of the things that surprised me is that I agreed to hang out with somebody at Cedar Point one day.  I have known this person for about a year now.  He and I still barely know one another as we hardly see one another.  Most likely, the adventure to ride roller coasters won't happen, due to conflict of schedules and limited contact.  However, I was surprised the invitation was put out there, and that I actually accepted it. 

This gentleman is nice, and a great guy.  Someone I enjoy talking with.  Just not somebody I ever expected to receive an invitation to hang out with sometime.  Normally, he is not somebody I would consider saying yes to.  Yet I did because he is a great guy, and was willing to give anyone was chance to get to know them.  I enjoy just getting to know different people at this new stage in my life.

Its not just learning about myself now.  Its about learning about other people I had never been about.  Being introduced to different types of cultures and backgrounds.  Why they are at this point in their lives.  Learning about their past and where they see their futures.  How they came to be the person that they are. It is interesting and entertaining to learn about others and enjoy the company of others as we get to know our selves and each other.

Through this journey, and making an effort to do and try new things, has really challenged me to be a better person.  It has taught me a lot about myself and what I am capable of mentally, emotionally and physically.  Where most of the growth has come from is mentally.  Ryan has told me all along that anything we try in life, we can do.  We just have to put forth the effort because the mental aspect of anything is the only thing we really have to overcome.  It all comes down to the effort and the work we are willing to put into reach our goal. 

Even after this challenge is over, I will continue to try new things.  Learn about different aspects of this great world we live in, so that I can become a better person for myself, and a more productive member of society.  I will also come up with challenges for myself so that I can continue to become even better at things.  I am not do a lot of things well, I just want to be able to try a lot of things so I can keep my brain active. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Looking For a Hero

On any given night in America, ladies sit around talking about how they wish "Prince Charming" or a "Superhero" would come sweep them off of their feet.  They want a guy to come in and take care of them and all of their needs for them. 

Many times I have been one of those girls in this very conversation.  Yet, at the same time, I had a deeper yearning to know that I could take care of myself without having to need a man to take care of me.   More than anything, I just wanted somebody to discuss things with and get a different perspective or guidance from.

In 2013, my life had gotten so far out of hand due to life events happening that caused me to allow myself to reach 350 lbs. That is a number I never dreamed of seeing on the scale.  Yes, it is just a number, but one that caused me to be so ashamed of myself that I rarely saw my extended family or friends when I made the trip home. Those trips home even, were few and far between because I kept making excuses why I had to stay home.   

What it came down to, was I was to embarrassed at how big I had let myself get.  I was so ashamed of my size, that at my sisters graduation party in spring of 2013, I refused to eat in front of the party guests because I was scared of being judged of what I was eating or how much. 

After that weekend, I made a pact with myself to start taking my life more serious.  It meant making better, smarter choices for my health needs so that I could be a starter in  my life instead of sitting on the sidelines.  \

It was not fun being in the doctors office so often because you were sick for weeks at a time or so often.  I did not enjoy that I had to use a CPAP machine in order to be able to wake up in the mornings. 

In December of 2013 I sent an essay into the to apply for their FIT Challenge.  A local weight loss challenge the newspaper, "Sandusky Register," sponsored that put five people against each other to see who could lose the highest percentage of weight in six months. 
I found out in mid January 2014 that I was one of the five chosen to receive a free trainer and gym membership for six months to help kick start my way back to a healthy life.  Each week, I would have to write blogs about my progress with my weight and what I was dealing with.

I was so desperate to get the much needed help to get healthy, that I was willing to walk 40 minutes each way to the gym daily in negative degree temperatures and knee deep snow  to meet my trainer, Ryan Rose, at Health and Strength gym.  Extreme? Yes, however, I knew very early in the process, that if this opportunity was going to work, I had to put forth the effort. Especially knowing six months is a very short time to fix a lifetime of bad mistakes.

In the six months that I had with Ryan, as part of FIT Challenge, he provided me with a wealth of knowledge and tools to help me get my fitness and nutrition in order so I could take care of my needs after our time together with no help. Ryan taught me how to take care of myself  properly in the kitchen and in the gym.  Making smarter, wiser choices for myself instead of letting others make those decisions for my life so I could be a happier, healthier version of me.

When I started working with Ryan, I weighed 314 lbs.  When the FIT Challenge ended that July, with Ryan's assistance and guidance, I had lost 92 lbs., bringing my weight down to 222.  This accomplishment meant I was the first female winner in the history of the FIT Challenge and also had lost the most weight lost by any contestant ever.  Out of my group of contestants as well, I had lost more weight than the other four combined as well. 

In the time that since winning the FIT Challenge, my journey to a healthier me did not stop.  I continued to not only continue going to the gym, I have also continued working with Ryan as well once a week. 

I also started to compete in 5k's as well.  Eleven months exactly after meeting Ryan, I ran in my first half marathon, weighing 179 lbs.  It truly meant the world to me that day that when I crossed the finish line that day, that Ryan was there to meet me with a hug.   It was a very proud day for both of us.

This past June, I completed my second half marathon, and I am  currently in training for the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio, hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It is just a matter of continuing to challenge myself at this point. Challenging myself mentally and physically so that I can grow in all aspects of life.

These days, my weight hovers between 155 and 160.  The lowest I have been is 150.  Most of the extra weight that I have, I believe  is excess skin that needs to be removed.  However, I do not have the extra money to cover that surgery. 

I am no longer concerned with the my actual weight, as long as I can manage to live my life in a normal, healthy manner.  Learning to make smarter choices for myself that will not take me back to my old life. Being positive and remaining active is all I am concerned about now.

One of the most important things that I have learned through working with Ryan, is that I had to learn to love and respect myself enough to save myself.  I did not need a prince or superhero when I was strong enough on my own to save myself.  Ryan has guided me through this process like a champ, and stuck with me along the way, even when it was tough for us. 

When I met Ryan that first day in the gym, I never dreamed he would be more than my trainer.  He is my friend, my brother, my hero, whom I love and respect. What he has taught me about life you can not put a price on.  The new memories I am making with loved ones, is a priceless gift that Ryan has been a huge part of. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Finding My Normal

Over the coarse of the last several months, my trainer and I have been having conversations that I need to start acting like a normal person.  That I need to stop saying things like, "I couldn't do that before!," When I would tell him about an activity or something I had done outside of the gym.  It needs to get to a point in my life that I am not comparing my life before and who I am now. 

Finding my new normal, is hard.  It is an adjustment.  I want and need to feel normal in my current body.  I love the person that I have become.  Yet I wonder as I sit here tonight, I can not help but wonder,  "How do I love me, and let go of my past self, while appreciating the struggles I have overcome while embracing the stronger person still inside for the world to see?"

I have been an overweight lady for so long, it is all I remember.  That lifestyle and way of thinking is hard to overcome.  Deep inside of me, I know that I need to get rid of those old habits and thoughts as they are hindering my progress towards the future I want and desire. 

There are a couple things that I can think of that I know needs improvement on my part. The biggest thing is that I need to learn to open up to people.  I need to learn to talk to those loved ones when I am hurting, struggling or when they have done something to hurt me.  At some point I need to verbalize this in a healthy way so the relationship can be maintained and I no longer push that person away.

There are some days I am so confused that I don't know if I need a hug and a really good cry, or if I just need a super hard workout to get all my aggression out.  Perhaps I need all of it together.  Right now, I know there is a lot of bottled up energy and aggression.  It is not healthy to internalize it and bottle up it up again to the point where I start eating my feelings.

The other thing that I need to focus on, is loving and accepting myself.  Respecting myself enough to move on past mistakes, forgive them and move on in a more positive, productive way.  This way, I can be a much better reflection of who I want to be, and hopefully be a great reflection of those who have helped me to get where I am today. 

Figuring out my new lifestyle, my new normal is more challenging than I thought.  Letting go of the girl I was to become an even more amazing person is a challenge. I know that old girl is dead and I need to let go because she has not part of my future.  My future self is waiting and is excited about the possibilities to come with the plans I have today for us. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Eating my Emotions

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we'll ever do.  Brene Brown

When I was younger, I used to think that I would have life figured out as an adult.  The truth is, next month, I will be forty years old, and it feels like I have more questions than answers and this point, and even more unsure of what direction to go in.  Life at times, seems so complicated and going in so many different directions. 

Life has often thrown out several curve balls that I had never saw coming, others I had seen or suspected of.  With these life lessons, I did not always handle them very well.  From a very young age, I had bottled things up, and didn't talk about what was wrong. 

Regardless of if these life events were good or bad, I did not know how to deal with the stress of them.  Both good and bad moments, I shut down emotionally from everyone.  Even when I had to be around others, I did not say a whole lot about my feelings, I just literally ate my feelings. 

The worse I was feeling emotionally, the worse I ate.  The more processed, greasy, salty or sugar filled it was, the more it numbed what ever I was feeling mentally or emotionally.  Food hid the pain and became my comfort and my friend.

Feeding my feelings was the only way I knew how to deal with things.  It was the wrong way.  It is not the only way to deal with emotionally charged situations in life.  There was one day I was talking with my trainer about half way through the FIT Challenge and told him I did a lot of my emotional eating, and not eating because of a physical need. 

Even now, over a year later, it is something I struggle with.  Verbalizing my feelings and emotions. To stop hiding them being afraid that what I am feeling is wrong.  Even worse, being afraid I would hurt someone else's feelings, or lose a relationship because of my emotions, because  my "feelings were wrong." 

I realize that this has to change, and change fast.  I can't change one bad behavior and trade it for another.  Although I am no longer stuffing myself with bad foods, I have lost focus in other areas of life.  I have started to push others out of my life that I know deep down, care and hate that I am hurting myself in the process of doing so. 

Recently, I was called out on bottling up everything.  I know it happens, and it needs to stop.  I realize this and the person who called me out, is the one person that I am scared most of losing in my life. 

I know that there is a moment coming soon that I am close to having a complete melt down and explode from all the bottled up emotions I have.  I am hoping that when it happens, I will have been able to defuse a lot of the built up emotions, both the good and bad ones, so that its not a bad melt down.  Once these emotions are released, I believe that I'll be truly be free and can finally be free to move on with life.

I don't want to be held prisoner of my past any longer.  I want to be free to express my feelings in a healthy way.  To open up freely with my loved ones who are in my life.  To have healthier, happier relationships with not only myself, but with those whom I love and cherish as well. 

I realize that I am a work in progress.  That things take time.  However, it is all part of the journey.  The hardest part is admitting that you need to change, acknowledging it and acting upon it.  It helps to tell others that you want to change that portion of your life as well.  Not so that they can help your or keep you accountable for it, those are own responsibilities.  For myself, I know its just easier to get things done if another person knows what I want to change because I will actually do it if they know.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Finally Freedom from my Inner Demons

As I sit down to right this, it is Independence Day in America.  There is so much to be thankful for in life.  I am forever grateful for the  freedom and protection that our military personal have fought so hard to seek for us.  They fight so many battles in places that we do not see, nor do we know the struggles that they must fight within to keep our borders safe.  I am forever grateful for their service.

As I sit here tonight, I can finally say that I am celebrating my own personal Independence, freedom in my own life.  The last few months have been incredibly hard for me.  It has been a struggle emotionally and mentally as my physical self has gotten much smaller.  With my transformation, so much has changed internally for me. 

Its not always possible for the physical, emotional and mental states to be on the same page when your going through a major life change, such as an excessive weight loss.  Especially when you are doing it for the public to watch and in the beginning stages of a mid life crises.  On top of all the random things that have been happening the last couple of months, I have been very emotional and have not known which way to do.

My eating had not been the greatest, and that was affecting my mood as well.  Yes, different foods do affect your mood, regardless of if we realize it or not.  For myself, I know that if I eat poorly, regardless of my gym time and workouts, I will be moody and cranky, and not always link  my mood and food together. 

However, I can say that today, I am finally over coming my demons.  No, my journey is not over.  I still have a lot to learn and I am most defiantly not finished.  However, I have beat my demons.  My inner demons are not going to win, or get the best of me regardless of the negative lies that they may try to tell me.

This afternoon I was talking with a friend of mine from back home about running.  I absolutely hate to run.  Yet I do it anyway.  Running is purely a mental sport.  It is you against yourself.  You have to make your body keep going even when it gets hard.  Its just one step at a time regardless of how long you run.  There are times in runs you have to slow down or go faster.  But you finish and push through to the end. 

Running is a mental sport where you are on your own.  Even if you are on a team, it is an individual sport where you solely have to rely on yourself to push forward and finish.  With that mentality, that is how I have to get through life.  Taking risks on my run through life, so that I can pick myself up when and if I shall fall.  There are days that I will fall, and may be down for a few days.  However, I realize that no matter what, getting back up is the only other option I have so that my demons don't win.

By my running, no matter how dreadful it is some days, I do it.  It has been the best therapy for me.  Time and time again, by running, I have surprised myself with how much I could do.  How far and how fast I could go.  The more I do, the better I feel about my life.  The more free I become and feel about my life. 

Running through these walls have been the most gratifying feelings for me.  Finally feeling free of what has been holding me back.  Yes, I know that I am not done with my journey.  I still have work to do.  However, my demons are no longer going to be controlling my life.  Working past those walls and putting those demons in the past where they belong is by for the best thing I can do for myself and those around me. 

We chose the path that we go down in life.  Not others or our past.  We must decide to what to do.  Today, I chose to be happy and free within myself. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Keeping It Simple

Simple things.  Simple seems so small.  We don't always think about the little, simple things that make up our everyday life.  Well, because they are always there, and we don't always have to think about them.  We take them for granted all. 

There is so much power in a moment.  No matter how simple and mindless it seems.  Looking back upon my life, it seems that it is the small moments that have made all the difference in my life.  Those little moments that built up over time without realizing it that lead to the greater, end result. 

The last year and a half, my primary goal has been to get myself back to a much healthier state, physically.  At least the physical aspect is what was the main focal point when I started because that was the most obvious and in most dire need because I was in really bad shape to begin with. 

Little did I realize at first that I needed to work on the mental and emotional aspects as well.  It was not until the Fit Challenge was almost over that I realized how important that my physical, mental and emotional states all depended on each other to work well in order for me to be completely healthy.  I used to think they were all separate.  Although I was physically out of shape, I really thought that I was okay emotionally and mentally. 

In reality, I knew because of my physical state, I was lying to myself about how I was doing mentally and emotionally.  Though others saw it, they knew that in order for the help to work, I had to come to terms with all aspects of it.

It is by no means easy for a person to admit that they need help.  Losing weight is hard work if your on your own.  To do it with the whole community watching, was even harder for me because I did not enjoy the attention that came with it.  However, I was more than willing to accept the attention and try to remain positive about it because I desperately wanted and needed the help.  When you are ready for the change, you will do what ever it takes to get to your destination.  No matter the extremes you will take.

Sometime about half way through the process, I was getting frustrated with everything.  I was at a point where adjustments were being made all at once with all aspects of the process.  Adjusting to the new changes in my life were hard and making those changes accordingly were hard for me.  There were times I was crying several times a day, for several days in a row.  I didn't know how to accept or deal with the new changes and process them.

One day, my trainer looked at me and told me that I needed to just calm down and enjoy life.  That I needed to enjoy the process of change, but to learn how to live life again as a normal person.  For a good portion of the last eighteen months, I had been so focused on losing weight and getting healthy, I had forgotten to live my life.  

Its still a work in progress for me to start doing "normal" things again, and simplifying my life now.  Its getting easier for me to make out swaps so that I can do fun things with friends and family, doing fun things with them and learning to adjust my food intake according to my activity levels for the day.  Learning to make those adjustments are necessary so that I am not stressing out any longer and putting myself in a situation where I am back over 300 lbs. like I used to be. 

There are days that simplifying things is harder than it should be.  However, as I purge out the old lifestyle, it is getting much better for me.  I am making better decisions in my life about what I need for me and my needs, while hoping that my actions and decisions are a positive reflection of who have helped me greatly in my life and have stuck with me along my journey to a better person.