Friday, December 5, 2014

The only acceptance you need is from yourself.  Block out other people's opinions.  You are doing this for you.  Progress takes time.  Be patient.  Unknown

This time last year, I was making preparations for writing my essay for my application to take part of the FIT Challenge.  When I found out this past January I was accepted to participate, there were lots of emotions going through me.  I was happy, overjoyed, scared and fearful of making a fool of myself during process. 

However, no matter what I was feeling, I knew I could not let temporary feelings control a permanent decision upon my life.  I knew that no matter during the six months that were promised in the gym with a trainer, I had to take full advantage of that time in order to get healthy so that I could get the rest of my life back.  Realistically, six months really is not a long time when you have a life time of mistakes to fix. 

When I applied for FIT, I knew I was unhealthy and needed help.  I knew the extra weight was not good for me, especially being "Hobbit" sized.  I knew if I didn't get help, that I would not have a lot of time left because I was slowly killing myself with my diet and lack of exercise.

 However, I will admit that none of those reasons were why I applied.  Yes I wanted to lose weight, but it was for the wrong reasons.  There was somebody that I was interested in, and thought that by losing the weight that it would help my chances of a relationship with them. 

Over time, I realized that it was pointless, and that in order for my journey to be worth it, is that I truly had to learn to love myself and forget what others thought of who I was.  In the end when I get to where I need to be physically, emotionally and mentally, I have to live with myself and be okay with who I am.  The opinions of others don't matter because not all of them will be standing at the finish with me. 

Yes, I want my trainer, Ryan Rose at Health and Strength,  to be at the end and be proud of the results we have reached together.  However, I know now that it is very important that I learn to accept my life decisions and be proud of the person that I am now and love her.  Despite my past, my flaws and scars, they are part of what made me who I am today.  Hopefully, my journey will be something that can help to inspire others.

I admit, that it has been a struggle through out this journey.  There were moments that I came very close to giving up and walking away from it all.  In the end, I stuck it out because I would not be able to live with myself for walking out on myself when I was given an opportunity that is priceless and has given me a new lease on life.  What I have gained from FIT, you can not put a price on that and I am forever thankful and blessed for it. 

For those of you that are thinking of applying for FIT, or already have, make sure that you do it for yourselves.  It will only work for good if you are doing it for you and no other reason.  It took a lot for me to learn that and that I did not to be validated from anybody else in the end.  Yes, I took in a lot of advice and consideration from my trainer that I knew was going to help me.

Our trainers are professionals and are there to help us. Though at times it feels like they are killing us or that they might hate us even.  That is not the case, they care about our well being and want us to do better for ourselves in the end.  I know that at the end of each FIT Challenge Season, each trainer wants each of us to walk away from the experience to be able to eat and train on our own. 

Yes, I still see Ryan once a week.  I waited two months post FIT to see him because I wanted to do it on my own for awhile.  However, I chose to go back and see him because I needed to refocus and I  needed his assistance in training for the Santa Hustle half-marathon. 

The half-marathon is tomorrow morning at Cedar Point.  It is my first half-marathon, it is something that I am very proud of considering that back in January, I was 314 lbs when I met Ryan, and could not run 10 feet without getting short of breath.  Now, I am running a half-marathon!!! Realistically, I can see me walking a portion of it, ideally I would like to run all of it.  BUT I am doing it.  Like last year, my only goals are to finish and not come in last. 

Though I know that I still have to make more changes in my life physically and mentally, they will come together at the right times.  Each of the hurdles have all been worth it.  I am also thankful for the people who have stuck with me through out this process, even though it was very hard at times. 


Monday, November 17, 2014

"The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life- mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical." Julius Erving

Each day, we should all strive to be a better person than we were yesterday, so that the person we are tomorrow will be proud of who we are today. This is something that over this past year, I have just started to take in to consideration.  Regardless of what I am doing, I have committed to try new things to improve myself.

Participating in the FIT Challenge this year with my trainer, Ryan Rose, at Health & Strength Gym, he and I have had great success in many areas of our journey together that go far beyond winning. Over coming the many smaller battles along the way, played a bigger role in my weight loss than most realize. 

The main focus of coarse is to lose weight and be healthy.  However, little did I realize when I met Ryan how much more important it was to change mentally and emotionally as well.  By changing how I thought and processed things, it was going to help me make better decisions in regards to my physical well being. 

By changing my mental aspect on life, it has allowed me to become a better person emotionally and physically this year.  It really helped me a lot earlier this year to open up to Ryan and talk with him about the different issues I was dealing with so that we could work through them together.  It really helped talking to him because I was no longer eating my emotions, I was getting my frustrations out in the gym with him, and getting a different prospective from him.  Plus, sometimes it just helps to have some body to talk with who cares.

There are many things on my journey with Ryan that I am very proud of.  However, I am most proud of the effort we put in to getting me to run.  It was a HUGE struggle for Ryan to get me to run in the early stages, and something that left in tears often because I felt like I was letting him down.  However, we got there after a long, much needed conversation in the gym one night after I was able to open up to and trust him. 

This year, I have participated in several 5K races, and have improved my times on all of them but one.  My first 5K was the Santa Hustle last year that Castaway Bay/ Cedar Point hosts in December.  This year, I am doing the run again, however this time, I am training for the half-marathon that day. It is something that I am quite proud of considering that this time last year, I could barely walk a mile with out getting winded, much less think about running a 20 feet. That in itself is a huge success. 

Overcoming my physical, mental and emotional issues this year to become an over all better person has become such a blessing.  It means that I am no longer holding myself back and taking life by the horns and living it the way it is meant to be lived.

We all have our own idea of what success means to us.  This year, has been a great year for me, because I have had so much growth in many areas of my life that I did not think was possible in such a short time. 

I have been very blessed and thankful that Ryan has been on this journey with me, and been by my side through it all.  Ryan truly has been a great asset to my life and I am lucky that he is in my life. Ryan truly invested a lot of time in me, and I strive daily to make him proud of who I've become and be a positive reflection of this amazing man.

For those who are thinking of applying for the FIT Challenge, consider the whole journey and process.  Its not just a physical journey.  Its will consist of mental and emotional changes, and it will get hard.  It will all be worth it. Your trainer is there to help and guide you through the whole process, be honest and fair to them and surely.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

On any journey we make towards reaching a goal or dream, it is most important that we believe in ourselves along the way, no matter how hard the journey is, or unexpected obstacles come up.  There are always surprises along the way, both positive and negative ones we do not expect. 

It is important not to get frustrated or caught up in the moment and lose focus in the sudden change of events.  This is all part of life.  Things happen.  Its part of life to have these speed bumps in our journey.  They are part of a greater life lesson that we will eventually need at some point. 

In my journey to become healthy, there have been a lot of setbacks through out life.  I know I lost focus many times. One of my biggest struggles was being much harder on myself than what I should have been. 

During the course of this year, one of the greatest lessons I have learned from working with my trainer, Ryan Rose at Health & Strength, is that it is to have a positive mental attitude.  That the negative mental struggles don't belong in our lives if we strive for greatness.

One of the mental challenges that I faced prior to FIT  was not acknowledging the small victories and progress along the way to the greater goal.  This is a very important step in the process to make sure we are staying the coarse.

Its a been a long journey for me.  Its now mid-November I have realized so many little changes physically since I started working with Ryan.  Recently, I attended a movie with a friend, and could comfortably sit in the seats without feeling crowded and uncomfortable.  Also, the realization that you are sitting on the floor indian style with no struggle, for long periods of time.  These are things that most people take for granted.  For me, these are small victories that bring me great joy. 

Changing mentally during this amazing transforming to a much more positive attitude has be so important.  It has been a challenge at times, and Ryan still has to remind me sometimes that I have to let go of the past, or to start adjusting to who I am now, versus who I was back in January. 

Ryan told me recently, that I needed to start doing activities that for normal sized people.  This was something that was needed to be said because I had kept holding myself back because mentally, I was still over 300lbs.  It was an amazing moment actually because in that moment, I was hearing mentally, that I was finally a normal person, even though we still are on this journey.

After Ryan told me to start doing more stuff, the next week, I started taking Yoga at my sponsor gym, Health and Strength.  Ms. Karen, the instructor, and the other ladies in class are great have made me feel comfortable.  Its also helped me tremendously to add something new to my routine.  Its a welcome addition that is both challenging and relaxing at the same time. 

Back in January when I met Ryan, never did I realize that at this point in time, we would have come this far.  The confidence that Ryan has helped me find in myself is amazing.  Overcoming those fears and believing in myself again is amazing.  The weight and getting healthy is important in this process and it is why I started.  However, everything else that Ryan has helped me find in myself is priceless and I don't want to lose that.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November!!  Its a month in which we remember people, memories and things in which we are thankful for.  Granted, we should be thankful all year long for the gifts bestowed upon us.  However, it is nice to take the time to be reflective, because life does happen, and we forget to slow down enough, and say "Thank you!"

This past year, there are many, many things in which I am grateful for.  My life has changed so dramatically since January.  By participating in the FIT Challenge earlier this year, it has given me so much more than just a chance to lose weight. 

I knew that losing weight was going to be a big focus in doing FIT.  However, never did I realize the changes I would encounter mentally and emotionally as well.  In the past, I stressed out way to easy and would let things bother me way more than they should have.  I also kept people at a distance and would not let them get to close. 

I was a lot like the person that Katy Perry sings about in the beginning of "Roar."  A girl who bit her tongue, and didn't want to rock the boat.  Then this girl realizes her self worth, and that she is worth it.  We all need to learn to learn to be the star in our own lives, and be our own hero.  That I deserve to be doing so much better for myself than what I have been doing and to stop listening to people tell me I am not able to do something.

The changes are still happening in my life, and sometimes, it gets confusing for me.  There are times I want to go back to my old way of doing things.  However, I know that its not the healthy way of doing it, that I need to step back, and re-evaluate things.  Its a matter of putting things into a better perspective now. 

I realize that ultimately in my life, the decisions that I make are mine, and that I have to live it for myself and not have to worry about others.  However, at the same time, I try to make sure that its the right decision, no matter how painful it is at times.

I also want to give a great reflection of those who have stood by me through this entire process and been through this transformation with me.  Especially my trainer, Ryan Rose at Health and Strength. During the two months post FIT when we were not working out together, he still was giving me advice and making sure I was doing things correctly.  I knew he had my back. 

One day, over the summer, I was talking with Christian Walton, the husband of my fellow FIT Challenger Edie.  Christian is a landscaper.  He was telling me that he can do the most awesome, amazing job at making a yard look wonderful and amazing.  Once he leaves, its up to the home owners to keep up the lawn by weeding and anything else that needs done. 

This really stuck with me.  Because if the homeowner lets the yard get weeds and overgrown, not only does the house look bad and makes the homeowner look lazy and bad.  It also makes Christian look bad because he put all his time and hard work  into making them look good.

I know that I am not a yard or landscaping, but I see myself as a reflection of my trainer.  Ryan did put a lot of time and sacrificed a lot in order to help me get to the point I am now.  I am at the point where my decisions regarding my health are my own.  Yet, at the same time, they are a reflection of all that he has taught me.  In the end, I want to be able to maintain everything Ryan and I accomplished, so that it still makes both of us look good. 

I am forever thankful that I was giving the opportunity to participate in the FIT Challenge and experience new things.  Its been a complete life changing process for me.  Its been hard for me at times.  Its been emotional and tough at certain times.  However, its all been worth it for me to make the necessary positive changes.   
Several years ago, I attended a dinner for the Sports Hall of Fame Inductees for my high school.  One of the Inductee's that year was Dave Adams, a stand out athlete in high school who went on to play for the then California Angels farm team as a pitcher.  One of the things I remember about Mr. Adams acceptance speech that night, was that he looked at everyone and asked, "If you had a table with four chairs that would eventually seat the four most important people in your life as your Hall of Fame, who would they be?"

Even now, several years later, I think about that question, and wonder who I would put at that table.  Who are those who have made the greatest impact on my life?  The answers today, are much different than what they were several years ago.  We grow up, life happens, circumstances change.  There are several people in my life who have helped shape and mold me to be a much better person than what I use to be. 

If I were to have to select somebody today to sit at that table, there is a very strong possibility that my personal trainer, Ryan Rose at Health and Strength gym would be sitting at that table.  In the very short time that I have known Ryan, he has helped to mold me and shape me into a whole new person physically, mentally and emotionally. 

When I made the decision to get healthy, and lose all my extra weight, I wanted and needed the best person for me who was strong not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and who was much more stubborn than myself who could make me change.  Ryan was all of these things and so much more. 

There were days, it felt like Ryan was coming at me with a sledge hammer knocking down walls that I had been hiding behind for so long to get through to me.  Though I longed and wanted to get healthy and lose the weight, there were days it was tough emotionally to let go of the negative past because I didn't know better, even though I wanted so much better for myself. 

The tough days with Ryan, are the ones that I am most thankful for because they have made the most difference to help change me to who I am today, and who I will be tomorrow.  Yes, I am grateful and thankful for the great and awesome days we have had, which there are many, many more positive days with Ryan than the tough ones.  However we don't change if we are not challenged.

For many reasons, I am thankful that Ryan and I work out at Health and Strength for this journey.  Not only has Ryan made an impact on my life, but so has the staff and other members of the gym.  Living in a town with no relatives has been hard at times. 

However, those who are at Health and Strength have become my family and support system.  For with out them, I am not sure that I would have lasted as long on my journey. It has been a true blessing to be around so many people who understand and are supportive of the journey that I am on.  Many who are or had been on the same path I am now on. 

There are many times, thinking and even telling my story to others about my journey with Ryan, I get tears in my eyes and cry.  I am very proud of how far we have come and how much we have accomplished together in such a short amount of time. 

There are sincerely no words to describe how much pride I feel in knowing Ryan is my trainer and knowing that he's had my back through all of this.  I am forever thankful for him and so very proud of this man and the difference he is making, not only in my life, but in the lives of so many other people. 

Ryan definitely deserves to be sitting at my personal Hall of Fame table with a medal.  He will always have a special place in my heart.  Regardless of how long he stays in my life, I know that he is somebody that will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”  Jack Canfield   

It is natural for most people to have fears or phobias.  Rather we let our fears control us or we
conquer our fear is completely up to us. 

I can only speak for myself, and I can say that I let my many fears control my life instead of taking the bull by the horn.  I was scared for so long of making mistakes and wrong choices for my life.  It took so long for me to make decisions some times, that the opportunities would pass before I deciding I wanted it. 

The end of last year, I had finally had enough with my health and physical shape being so out of shape.  That is when I decided to get the help I much needed and signed up for the FIT Challenge and started working with my trainer, Ryan Rose at Health and Strength. 

There were only six months as part of FIT for us to get my health back on track.  Six months is not  a long time considering how out of shape I was.  It seriously was like we were fighting against time to get me away from deaths door. I knew that if I continued down the path I was on, that I would not have much time left.

Its been about three months since the FIT Challenge has ended for me.  I am still in the gym most days, sometimes twice a day.  Its been amazing to have a place to go when I need to release negative energy. 

I will be honest though, the past month I've had to start working out with Ryan again because I needed help refocusing.  It had been a struggle for me to be on my own and not getting the results that I wanted or needed to get to my goal weight.  Though I have continued to lose, even without Ryan, I need the accountability that he provides, as well as the guidance and advice.

In the last workout I had with Ryan, it was a struggle for me.  Even with him pushing me, I was not getting where I needed to be or should have been.  Ryan looked at me, and told me, "You have to stop cheating yourself.  Your better than this, you deserve better than what your giving yourself."  It was frustrating to hear because, ultimately, I knew he was right. 

I had thought long and hard about what he had said.  So often, especially women, we tend to cheat ourselves for what ever reason.  For myself, I know that all though I wanted a lot of things I never went after them because I believed the lies others told me about not being good enough, or I was afraid to take the risk.

What it all comes down to, is that we have to have faith in ourselves, and believe in our dreams and goals, even if others don't believe in it.  We have to live with ourselves on a daily basis and the choices we make. We have to do what is right for us no matter what.  If we want to move forward in life, we have to over power our fears and conquer them head on.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Motivation comes from looking at the things you what and realizing what it takes to get it." Unknown

There are may different reasons why individuals want to lose weight and get healthy.  For myself, I had the AHA moment when my youngest sister graduated high school.  The picture I saw of the two of us, is when I finally realized just how big I had gotten.  It was in that moment, I saw the person everyone else was seeing. 

From the mental aspect, we don't see our physical bodies in the same way others see us.  In saying this, during this physical transformation that I am going through, I know that in losing over one-hundred pounds, my body is going to look a lot different than what it did when I started.  However, mentally,  I still see the much larger frame compared to the one I have now. 

During my weight loss journey, my wardrobe has changed several times over because my sizes have changed so rapidly.  Most of the clothes have not stayed in my closet for more than a few weeks.  When your losing weight this fast, it is hard to keep up with it at times.  Right now, I am very grateful to friends, like Ginger and Erica, who have given me clothes or gift cards during my physical transition.    Its been a true blessing, and that, I am most grateful.

Most women, and I mean most, LOVE to shop.  I am not one of them.  Personally, I would rather be get my tooth pulled, its much less painful  than shopping.  I can't imagine how many of the grey hairs my mom has are because of trying to shop for me as a child because I am that difficult to buy clothes for. 

This past year, its been even harder for me, because I have to shop the clearance racks. Don't get me wrong.  I love clearance racks, and have always shopped off of them.  Its just harder now, because the sizes that I need, are not always there.  Plus, I am not crazy about the idea of ever wearing prints, lace or off the wall colors or cuts.  Personally, I like to stick with simple, classic and basic cuts and styles that can be used for multi-purposes.  Garments that could transition from ready to wear to evening wear if needed.

When I am out shopping, I have gotten to the point that I need somebody with me.  Why?  Because they need to pull me away from the racks that I used to wear.  Mentally, I still see the old version of myself, and having a friend with me, helps keep me in perspective. 

The other day, while working out with my trainer, Ryan Rose at Health and Strength, we were talking about shopping.  We were discussing my size.  I told him the size shirt that I was wearing, and he was like, "Yea, that is way to big on you.  This is what you should be wearing...."  (Sorry Brandi, your not getting my size today.)  I thought Ryan was wrong.  So afterwards, I went to the mall and tried clothes on to see who was right.  Needless to say, it was a bittersweet moment.  The size that I was able to wear, was much smaller than I was in January, yet, I had to admit to Ryan that he was right, once again. 

This week, I knew it was time for me to start shopping for more clothes because everything is getting to loose on me for it to look good, even with a belt.  At this time, I am just buying, the basic necessities in very limited quantities until my weight is where it will stay.  Most likely, I'll just buy a couple pair of dress pants, some button up blouses and a sweater. 

The sweaters, have become one of my favorite things this year to wear.  Seriously, I am always cold now because my built in installation is gone.  I used to joke with friends about how I was always hot, now, it seems like I am getting cold all the time. 

As I continue to lose, and my weight eventually stabilize, hopefully it will be easier for me to shop because I won't have to replace items so fast, and I'll get to accessorize more.  It is my hope, that I will eventually leave stores with more than frustrations and tears. 

Before I close, I want to wish Godspeed to the current FIT Challengers tomorrow as they will be participating in the Fright FIT 5K at the Norwalk Reservoir.  Race time is at 10 am, so if you are free, please go out and support them, and run or walk with them.  I know how much it meant to me when I ran it back in May with my group.  The support from the community is special and really does mean a lot. 

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Goals are like stepping-stones to the stars.  They should never be used to put a ceiling or a limit on achievement. -Denis Waitley

With all things in life, it is important to set goals, and strive to meet those goals with all that we have within our souls.

For myself, it was important to me that I lose weight so that I could get to a healthy weight.  I knew that by continuing down the path I was, that it was killing myself.  Being a prisoner trapped in my own body was not fun at all. 

I wanted to get out and live life again, and was willing to do what ever it took to get there.  Even if it meant I had to walk to the gym in knee deep snow, in sub-zero temperatures to go see my trainer, I was willing to make what ever scarifies it took to get the results I needed in the fight for my health. 

There are so many things in life that we take for granted.  It happens, its part of life.  There's a quote that says, "What you take for granted, somebody is praying for." Unknown.

When I weighed over 300 pounds, my mobility and flexibility were limited.  Rarely would I ever bend over to pick something up without losing my breath or even walking up a flight of stairs.  Going to the movies or out to eat with friends was about the only thing I did before FIT. 

Its not fun shopping with friends when they are half your size because they can shop for the cute clothes that get you dates.  While I had to order my clothes online, or buy them at JCPenney in the Big and Tall section of the men's department store.  Not enjoyable when you want to date and look cute also.  Plus, lets be realistic, the clothes for Plus Sized women are not cute nor or some of them well made.

This year, since losing a lot of weight, I have actually been able to go out and do a lot more things socially as well.  It still makes me skiddish some days because I have always been shy.  However,  its been fun to go to Soak City and Cedar Point with friends. Previously when I would go to Cedar Point, I would just watch the Live Shows or babysit belonging's or kids. 

One of my goals when FIT started for me was to get on a roller coaster.  Less than two weeks before FIT ended, on the spur of the moment, my friend, Casey and I went over to Cedar Point one evening and rode Maverick.  It was the perfect night, and by far, my favorite memory of the summer.  It was unplanned, with the person who was my inspiration in starting my journey, and with no fuss, cameras or stress.  It was just two friends getting together and doing something fun, while making memories.

I will always be thankful for FIT being part of my life.  Without the opportunity, God only knows how much longer I had left.  Learning to love myself enough to get healthy has been such an amazing gift.  I am eternally grateful that Ryan was my personal trainer also.  For with out his patience, guidance and tough love, I would not be the lady I am now, or on my continued journey to an even better person.

I sincerely look forward to the future to see where this journey takes us and what other opportunities will arise because of it. 

When you walk up to opportunities door, don't knock...Kick it in, smile and introduce yourself.  Dwayne Johnson

Saturday, October 11, 2014


"Accountability is the obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them to disclose the results in a transparent manner." Unknown

When working towards a long term goal, it is important to have a great support system that you are being held accountable to.  Have a mentor or somebody that is going to keep on you to make sure you are doing what you need to be doing, no matter how hard it is.

 Not just somebody who is going to hold your hand and say its okay when we mess up, but somebody who is going to push us further during those hard moments when we feel like giving up. 

Before I started the FIT Challenge in January, I had a great support system built in around me who was all on board with me who wanted to see me get the help that I so desperately needed to lose weight.  However, I knew all too well, that I needed somebody outside of the support system who was actually going to hold me accountable to my goals and not be afraid to yell at me. 

Knowing the type of person that I am, I knew it was going to take somebody who was even more strong willed and stubborn than I am to get through to me.  I needed somebody who was going to keep on my case, and yet be able to listen to what I was going through, even when I wasn't sure how to express it. 

Thankfully, when I started FIT and had met Ryan Rose, over at Health and Strength, I got exactly what I wanted in the accountability department and then some.  Every step of the way, Ryan has been there to make sure that I am doing the right thing. 

Even I didn't want to hear what he was saying, I knew in the end, he was right because the choices I had made previously were all wrong.  This is obvious because otherwise I would not have been in the position to begin with where I needed his help.

No matter the dream, or the goal, it is important to have somebody by our sides who is going to hold us accountable.  Our dreams mean nothing if we are not working towards them, or have somebody who gets excited with us as we get that much closer to achieving them. 

During our workouts, while talking with Ryan, I would tell him about things I would notice that were happening in my life, that I had not done before.  Even when we would notice that I was able to do an exercise better or faster than before.  These were things that I could tell Ryan was happy with, and proud of. 

In those moments, seeing him happy, it made me want to work that much harder towards my goals.  Although, ultimately, I knew we were working towards my long term health goals, letting him down was not an option because my choices and decisions are a reflection of him. 

Ryan put in a lot time and made sacrifices that I don't even know about to help me. Even now, two months post FIT, Ryan is still giving me advice and telling me what I need to be doing in the gym. I put in a lot of effort on my part to make sure that not only did I achieve my goals, but to make him proud also. 

Having somebody there to be hold accountable to and knowing that I had to answer to Ryan, had made all the difference in the world to me.  It meant I couldn't back out or walk away like I had done before.  Because it meant walking away from him and his efforts to.  Giving up on my trainer and walking away from it was not an option because I believed in him that much, even when it got hard.

I'll always be grateful to Ryan and the time that he made for me. 

It does not matter our goals or dreams.  We need to go after them.  It is important also that we tell somebody about them who is going to help us get there.  They will keep on us and get excited about all of it with us.  Go full force ahead with your dreams!!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fall!  One of my favorite times of year.  Hoodies.  Jeans.  Football.  Tailgates.  Bonfires.  S'mores.  Apple.  Pumpkins.  Stew.  Perfect time to be outdoors to enjoy the weather before the temps start to cool down and that white stuff starts flying in. 

Fall is also that time that people start to settle into comfort routines, where they are less active because of the outdoor temperatures decreasing.  Our food intake also increases during the fall and winter months.  Some times we turn to processed or comfort foods because we don't feel like cooking or taking the time to prepare a healthy meal.  I am very guilty of this. 

Fall and winter also provides a lot of opportunities with kids activities and holiday parties for the snacks and junk food to come out.  Its hard to turn down school or other activity fundraisers when the kids come knocking on your door. 

For myself, once the weather starts to get cooler, I get excited.  I love this time of year.  That's when all the pumpkin spice and apple flavored stuff comes out.  I LOVE pumpkin flavored anything!!! The other day, a friend of mine posted on Facebook a photo of pumpkin flavored Oreo's.

God best be giving me some strong will power should I ever see those in the store.  It will be the death of me because I have little self-control when it comes to Oreo's, let alone anything pumpkin flavored. I re-posted it only for the accountability so that I don't resort to buying. 

Since January, my food choices and dietary intake has improved greatly.  Even now, two months post F.I.T. Challenge, its getting better for me, where I have lost more weight since my final weigh in with Mr. Muscles.  Recently, I hit a major milestone that I've been working towards which excited me greatly, as well as my trainer.  (I love when I can make that man proud and happy.)

However, food is still a struggle for me at times.  It happens.  I am human.  Those days can and will happen.  Unlike other addictions like drugs and alcohol, those of us who battle food on a daily basis, we have to eat to live.  Its a learning process and take it one day at a time.  We are changing our relationship with food and re-learning how to function properly on a balanced diet. 

When I met Mr. Muscles,  he changed everything in my life that affected it negatively.  He didn't budge with any of it and made me deal with it, no matter how hard I tried to hang on to what was holding me back.  Seriously, it took a lot of yelling and pushing to get through to me.  In the end, I knew it was better to let go of the past in order to have a much better present life and even greater future.

The biggest thing that was changed was my diet.  On day one, Ryan cut out all pork, red meat, sugar, processed foods, no shell fish, carbs, pop and junk food.  My food options were limited to white meat only,  veggies and fruit and complex carbs in the morning.  He told me that during the course of the week, I am allowed one cheat meal.  Not a cheat day, but one meal...a week. 

Mr. Muscles also stressed the importance of me eating 5-7 times a day, healthy, smart meals, and to keep those meals under 1800 calories within the day.  He was also very strict about me never skipping a meal.  That was a major issue at times within the course of busy days when its hard to squeeze in time to eat.  Those times, Ryan said  to have a small apple or protein shake handy so that my body has something in it until I could eat something. 

Getting the diet right was a struggle.  However, we got there.  Some days I still struggle.  That's okay from time to time as long as we get back with the plan and don't beat ourselves up over it.  Mistakes and bad days happen.  Its life.  The long term goal is going to be worth it.

Inside of the gym, the trainers can help us to the best of their ability and teach us so much about exercise and nutrition.  Its what we do outside of the gym with our diets where it counts.  Its the efforts that we put into it, where we get the initial results in the end.  The efforts we put into the gym with our trainers are wasted if we leave afterwards and go eat crap we know we aren't supposed to have. 

For me personally, I can say Mr. Muscles worked just as hard as I did to help me on our journey during FIT.  Even now, he still guides me and has been so supportive of the process.  It makes me feel better knowing that I've gained a friend through there, and that means a lot.

As we creep further into fall and into winter, I honestly am a bit scared and nervous that I am going to go back to some old habits with my diet.  More than ever, I am determined to stick with the plan that has been put in place.  There will be lots of temptations, this I know, but the end result, will be so worth when we come out the other side of it.

"We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking up at the stars" - Oscar Wilde


Saturday, September 27, 2014

"Individual commitment to a group effort, that is what makes a team work." -Vince Lombardi

Each of us have a revolving door of people coming in and out of lives.  Some people stay short term, others stay for long periods of time.  Regardless, the relationship we have with each person offers a very valuable lesson, that we often times, can and should, pass on to others.  Each relationship is different, special and unique and should not be compared to others. Even the relationship we have with ourselves is important. 

For myself personally, this year, by far, the most important person and relationship I have is the one I have with my personal trainer, Ryan Rose at Health & Strength.  Very early upon meeting him, I knew that this man was going to be able to help me get my life back on track, and that he was forever changing my life for the better.  I tell people often, that Ryan has saved my life.

When a person decides to enlist the help of a trainer, regardless of the reason, the gym or who the trainer is, the relationship that you share with them is important to your success in your journey.  It could make the difference in success or failure. 

On Facebook recently, some of us were talking about our relationships with trainers and clients and what makes them work and why they are so important.  Everyone had different things to say, however were all pretty much in agreement with each other about what was being said. The common things that were being said, was that there needs to be trust, honesty and respect between the two.  Those are basic principals that are key in all relationships.

When I was talking to Ryan about this topic, he says its very important that there is that accountability there as well, and to show the clients that you can have fun while working out as well.  Within my relationship with Ryan, the accountability was definitely there and he kept on me daily about EVERYTHING, regardless of how small or stupid I thought it was. 

Also, there was never any question in my mind about how things were going in our workouts and our progress.  Ryan was very upfront and honest with me.  When he was mad, upset, happy and proud, I knew about it.  It took a lot more for me to show my frustrations with Ryan and open up to him with my struggles, and to be completely honest with him about everything. 

Even the things that I didn't think mattered.  However, once I was able to be completely honest with him, and share certain secrets with him I had not shared with others, the process got much easier for us.  Ryan had told me at one point that in order for him to help me, I had to open up to him.  By not opening up to him, it was preventing the progress that we needed for me to get healthy. 

Ken Cutcher who is a trainer at Anytime Fitness in Huron, Ohio, posted on my Facebook in the discussion, "It's important to develop a relationship of trust and respect.  In coaching you have to genuinely care about the people you are helping.  The client must also be willing to be coached.  you cannot help people that do not want to change."

When  we decide to make changes in our life and seek the help of others, its important to be fully committed to the process as much as possible, so that your not wasting the time of those trying to help.  The conversations that I've had with my trainer, the other trainers who participate in the FIT Challenge and their clients, I know that each trainer is completely committed to helping others improve the quality of life and sincerely care about the individuals they are helping.  Its not just a pay check for them, there is a lot of sincerity and passion that drives each of the trainers in helping clients, and knowing how to push each one further.

Mark, is a guy I met very early in the FIT Challenge that I have  a lot of respect for.  He said, "You have to listen to the trainer...and eating is the most important part...if you follow his/her advice you'll see results...the trainer  can do everything to help you at they gym...but if you eat crap and don't exercise consistently your doomed."

Listening to our trainers is very important in the process.  For myself, it took some adjusting to getting the diet right.  In the beginning of the Challenge, it was hard because I thought I was doing it right, when in reality I wasn't getting correct until I made Ryan make me a sample meal plan so that I could have something to go off of. Once I had that, it made things much better because I wasn't getting yelled at in the gym nearly as often for my dietary choices. 

If your somebody who is looking for a trainer to help you on your journey, that relationship is important.  Its key in your success.  Not all  personalities are going to mesh well, and one trainer may be able to get through to you where another is not able to.  Be open, honest and willing to work hard for your trainer, because they put a lot of time into helping.

For myself, I can say that I am very happy and feel blessed to have Ryan as my trainer.  There truly is not somebody at this moment in time that I am more grateful to have met. 

I saw our relationship as a team, and there was very little that I did not run by him first.  I was very adamant about talking to him about everything, even social settings,  because I knew my decisions and choices are a reflection of the man trying his best to help me.  Ryan has always been good to me, and somebody I respect, even when it was hard.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there."  Unknown. 

Each person has their own habits routines that they do within their lives.  When something happens that person that brings them out of their comfort zone, it seems as if their whole world falls apart. 

When I signed up for the FIT Challenge, I did it because I was desperate for help.  I knew my health and life depended on taking full advantage of the opportunity before me.  Even  knowing that personal, intimate information would be shared with the readers of  the Sandusky Register, I did it anyway.  I chose to go public with my weight loss journey because I knew it couldn't be done on my own. 

With that being said, I do want to say this.  One of my biggest struggles, has been all the attention that has come with the FIT Challenge.  Doing such a personal, private struggle on a public scale has been very hard for me because I am used to trying to keep certain things private and close to heart. 

It threw me completely out of my comfort zone knowing that I was being accountable to a personal trainer, who was going to take measurements and weigh me in.  Eventually, I got used to being around my trainer, and the other members of the gym, and became open with them.  The gym became a safe zone,  a place I felt I could openly be myself over time. 

A few select friends, family, my trainer and members at the gym, I could be very open with about my weight loss journey.  They have witnessed first hand the transformation that has literally taken place before their eyes. 

What is hard, is when strangers come up to me and starts to ask me about my journey.  Telling my story is not the issue.  I enjoy talking with people and hope that perhaps my story inspires someone else, just like my friend inspired me with his.  However, the hard part is when they ask very personal questions that I am not willing to share. 

There are times when I struggle with how much of my private life I am willing to share with the readers, and those who approach me with questions.  Some days, I am more than willing to share and answer questions.  I do understand that others are in the same boat and want to know how they to can jump start their journey. 
For myself, I am not comfortable disclosing my weight to people.  I never liked it, however, I allowed it for the sake of the FIT Challenge since that was the whole purpose.  That is a personal battle still I am trying to over come on my own now.  The weight is still coming off, even after FIT ending.  Learning how to be on my own is  a struggle, since I don't have to report back to Mr. Muscles anymore.  The important thing, is that the transition is still in progress.
To those who ask, "Do you feel better?"  This is a tricky question to answer, and one most don't get when I respond.  I never felt sick before.  I also had never been at a healthy weight to know the difference.  I just knew I was a big girl who needed help in the worst way. 
Yes, I notice that I can do more things now I couldn't do before.  Like running 5K's, holding a child on my lap, bending over to pick something up.  These are little things most take for granted.  I couldn't do those before.  That feels amazing to me.  Its a process that will take time to get used to. 
I do have a request for readers.  Bare in mind, that when you talk to a FIT Challenger, past or present, keep in mind that we are normal folks.  We try to live our life as normal as possible during and post FIT.  Not all of us are willing to share everything while some are.  I realize we signed up for this, and everyone is going to be curious.  Please allow us the space if we need it if we are not sure how to respond to certain questions. 
I know me personally, I do appreciate the support and encouragement from others.  I also like to hear from others about their journeys and get excited with them when they do well.  I wish the new Challengers Godspeed on their journeys and hope the readers follow them as they progress in their lives as well.
Its truly brought me out of my comfort zone as readers have watched me transform my life into a much healthier one.  However, if it can help me be better, and possibly help others, I am all for it.  Its just learning how to balance both worlds and knowing what to share and how to answer without offending people.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Setting Goals

"If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes." Andrew Carnegie

We all have issues we struggle with in life. My struggles were obvious to the rest of the world because my weight got out of hand.  Standing slightly over 5"2 and weighing over 300 lbs. it was obvious to the world I struggled with my diet.  There were times I was letting food control my life instead of controlling the food.

My  relationship with food and exercise started to change last year because of the personal relationships with other people. With out these few people in my life, I can not imagine what my life would be like now.

When I signed up for the FIT Challenge, my goals were more than just a lady wanting to lose weight and get healthy.  It was about getting my life back and learn how to live life again and stop hiding from the rest of the world.  I no longer wanted to be invisible to others and be more social.

For so long, despite being a heavy lady, and often the biggest person in the room, at the same time, I very much felt like the most invisible person.  Often being left of group outings fun because I could not physically do what ever it was my friends were doing or just not keep up. 

I found myself spending  a lot of time alone and going to restaurants alone.  Often I was lying to myself saying that I was okay with the way life was.  When in reality, I was crying myself to sleep most nights because I felt lost and alone and unloved, even when surrounded by a lot of people.

When I started to work out with Ryan, it was the first time that I was starting to get excited about life again. The days that I would go to the gym to work out with Ryan, were always ones I looked forward to because I knew he held the key to my getting healthy.. Despite some days being more difficult than others emotionally or physically, I still showed up giving Ryan all that I had and tried my best not to let him down.

In the months since meeting Ryan, and even since the FIT Challenge ending, I can honestly say that I feel like a completely different person all together.  Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. 

One of the most important things that I've learned is setting small goals along the way, so that I don't get discouraged with the bigger goal.  It has made the journey much better and manageable for me.  In the past, I believe one of the reasons the diet attempts didn't work was because I just saw the bigger picture, and not the small steps along the way. 

Despite that I still have a long way to go, I am very happy with the progress that I have made to get healthy.  Its been an amazing journey of wellness and self discovery along the way.  I am excited about the person that I am yet to be when this is all over and the different expierences that I will encounter along the way.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"The only failure is not to try." George Clooney.

One of my biggest struggles in this challenge is getting the diet down when out in social settings, and being scared that when I'm some where unfamiliar, there will not be anything I am able to eat.

For this reason, I have withheld going out a whole lot in social settings where food is going to be involved.  Not that I want to be anti-social, I just don't want to sabotage my diet, and all the hard work that has been put into my journey with one bad meal.

With enough notice, I normally consult with my trainer, Ryan Rose of Health & Strength, and get his opinion on my options.  I want to be able to enjoy life while making these healthy, life style changes.  Its important for me to use Ryan's expertise during this process and seek out his guidance when I am unsure of things.

This proved to be quite helpful when I went to the Cleveland Indians game last Sunday.  So I went to the game with some friends, instead of waiting until the F.I.T Challenge was over.

Ryan suggested eating the gluten free hot dogs they have at Progressive Field,  but to also research other options as well.  I did do my research on what is served at the ball park, and found a few places that served healthy food.

I settled for the Gluten Free hot dog Ryan had suggested.  I did away with the bun and bit into the hot dog and all I tasted with salt.  Long before I ever met Ryan, I had very little to do with salt, and have never liked it.  I don't buy it for any reason. 

Having to finish the hot dog was hard, only because I envisioned Ryan yelling at me, again, about the importance of not skipping meals.  (Yes, he gets on my case about that, a lot. Skipping meals is bad for the metabolism. Especially when you are trying to lose weight.)

I still struggle daily with the food.  Most days I win those battles because I want to win this war for my life. 

In this F.I.T Challenge, speaking for myself only, the only person I am trying to defeat is my old self.  Getting rid of her old eating and physical habits are both key components in this.  The most important is the mental aspect of it and believe that  I am able to make these positive changes because I am worth it. 

This past week, when my feature ran in the newspaper, Ryan had said that I was doing amazing, and that I was an inspiration to him, the staff and members at the gym.

Yes, I am putting in a lot of effort into this for myself to get healthy.  However, I can only do as well as what my trainer is teaching me to do.  He has taught me so much and has been completely amazing throughout this process.

Ryan has been such a great inspiration to me and been my biggest cheerleader through out this journey, despite how difficult it has been at times. Thank you for always having my back!

The other staff and members of the gym,  I truly do appreciate all your kind words, support and always being so encouraging.  I am thankful for each you more than you know.  You inspire me greatly. By working out next to so many wonderful people, it gives me hope and motivates me that there is a better lifestyle for me on the other side as I make this transition in my life. 

I rarely speak of my job during this journey for reasons beyond my control.  However I do want to say thank you to each and every person that has been so kind these last few months.  The list of names is to long for me to mention you individually.

The support and encouragement from the management, staff and co-workers has meant a lot to me.  I do appreciate the patience of my direct manager who has been so supportive of this whole process.  You are a Godsend and I appreciate all you have done to allow me to spend much of mornings with at the gym with my trainer.

To the other contestants:  Godspeed my friends!  Looking forward to see you all at the 5K on May 25. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Time Mangement

"Ask yourself, if what you are doing today, is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow?" Unknown.

Most people in life have a set of short and long term goals they would like to achieve.  In order to get to their end result, they must take action and plan accordingly. 

Practicing great time management toward these goals are a key ingredient in getting there.  Regardless of what the goal is. 

I have found this to be incredibly true in my journey to a healthier me. 

Relearning how to be active again, physically, and eating well are both important parts of this process. 

However, so is planning out our days for healthy meals and activities, as well as other commitments are also important. 

Trying to balance work, my sessions with my trainer, additional gym time and adult responsibilities and free time activities can be challenging. 

I've heard a saying often in life, that if it is important to us, we will make time for it. 

This past week, I've been told that I was crazy, insane and many other adjectives for waking up at 3:30 A.M. to go to the gym and work out.  This, was a challenge for me, because I am not a morning person by any stretch. 

However, it was something that I saw as important because my body has gotten used to working out five or six days a week and is adjusting to the new me that I am slowly becoming.  Also, there are times, going that early is the only time I have free because of other commitments through out the day.

I have also found it easier to plan my grocery list and meal plans ahead of time now.  That way I don't have to worry about what I am eating and how many calories are in those meals.

I've also added a lot snacks to my grocery list as well for those cravings in between meals.  Snacks like apples, celery, rice cakes and peanut butter. 

This week, I had the pleasure of going through my closet and getting rid of three-fourths of my clothes.  By getting rid of those clothes, it does not leave any room for me gain any of it back. 

Plus, mentally, I think it will help me on the physical journey to show how much progress that I have made so far and give hope for the future.

One of my biggest challenges will occur between my turning this blog in, and it being published.  I'm going to a Cleveland Indians game with a group of friends.  It will be the first time in over seven years since I've been to an Indians game. 

The challenge will be finding healthy options and sticking to my diet, not skipping my frequent meals and still have fun.  It will just take some careful planning on my part to make sure I stick to the diet. Stay tuned next week to see how well I did.  Go Tribe!

To my trainer Ryan Rose at Health and Strength.  Thank you for being part of this journey with me, and my story.  You have taught me so much, and I do listen even when you think I don't hear what your telling me.  You'll always be my little angel!

To my fellow Challengers: Godspeed on your journey, and stay focused.  I am so proud of all of you. 

To the residents of Erie County who read this: Please come to the F.I.T. 5K on May 25.  You don't have to be a runner, just come out and join us.  It would be great to have as many people as possible running through the streets of Sandusky.