Follow by Email

Monday, September 30, 2013

Still Smiling :)

I definitely had to come down off a high the next day.  I had experienced a moment I never thought would happen again in my life.  I loved sharing it with my friends and family (forgot to mention I called my mom to tell her and I could hear her smile over the phone) and everyone who has been supporting me.  Some of you have supported me without even knowing it.  Just "liking" my status updates on Facebook, cheering me on and laughing right along with me while I made up names for exercises I hate and tried to figure out what different foods were.  Well, I'm still trying to figure out food, but we won't go there right now.... It's been like an extended circle of support and you'll never know how much I have appreciated it and will continue to need it and love every second of it :)

I knew I needed to go to the gym that afternoon - can't stop working!  But, I couldn't really come up with anything I wanted to do.  I had tried to make up some weight stuff on Monday but it wasn't very challenging.  So, I asked Renee' for an idea and she sent me something to try.  I got confused reading it (shocker, I know) but I figured it out eventually and it was a good challenge for me.  I also did some cardio which always makes me feel good.

I think realizing I can't stop with my fitness and nutrition has made a big difference too.  When I would try to lose weight before, I would always allow myself to have a candy bar or go overboard with eating at a party because I felt like I deserved it.  Now I realize that I was only hurting myself.  I do let myself have something every now and then but I make healthier choices (frozen yogurt instead of ice cream) and I don't go overboard.

That weekend was going to be a busy one.  I proctored the ACT on Saturday morning and wanted to watch my brother's team play that evening.  In addition to that, my parents were out of town so I had their dog :)  Proctoring the ACT ends up being about 5 hours of sitting in one place, but I get paid some extra money so, no complaints.  By the time I got home, I needed to eat lunch and, it was such a nice day, I decided that even though I was exhausted, and would rather take a nap, I decided to take the dog out for a walk.  We walked for about 30 minutes and I was happy with myself.  The old me would have just laid on the couch.

The soccer game that night was fun.  It was senior day so I saw some of my brother's players from last year.  One of them told me I looked great - made me feel even better!

I love my life.  I would not have said that a year ago.  It's hard for me to look at my life a year ago and see how miserable I was.  I can't believe I've had the courage to make so many changes in such a short period of time (with a lot of encouragement and support).  There are still so many more changes for me to work my way through but I am so excited for all of the positive steps I am taking and continue to take each day :)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Best Day of the Year.... So Far!

So, the previous week I had weighed in at exactly 200 pounds.  Therefore, unless something really weird happened, I kinda knew I would go under the 200 mark this week.  It was actually a little hard to sleep Wednesday night (something I rarely have trouble with) because I was more excited than normal to see what number would pop up on the scale.

I actually didn't struggle to get out of bed that morning.  I usually lay around and hit the snooze button once or twice :)  When I stepped on the scale and saw 198, I almost cried.  But then I realized how excited I was and just started smiling, laughing and kind of skipping around my house at 6:15 in the morning.  I was in shock (in a fun way).  I think the last time I weighed under 200 pounds was right after my brother's wedding almost 8 years ago.  So, to see a 1 as the first digit in my weight was an overwhelming feeling!

I had a co-worker take a picture of me holding a sign and sent it to Renee'.

 Just through a text message, I could see how excited she was for me.  All of her help and my hard work had paid off in a way I never could have imagined back in January.

I posted the same picture on Facebook and the fun comments I received from so many of my friends and family just made the day even better.  I definitely didn't stop smiling all day.  One thing that still feels incredibly strange to me is to hear (or read) that people see me as in inspiration.  I mean, I've worked really hard to change my life and it has definitely taken a lot of dedication.  When people ask me what I've done to lose all the weight, my first response is, I've completely changed my life.  Which is true in so many more ways than those that are visible on the outside.  I just feel like a different person.  I don't even remember who I was 8 months ago.  I just know I wasn't happy and I never want to go back there.

And, although the weight loss is definitely the most visible change of the last 8 months, those who know me well can see so many more changes.  Just looking in my eyes, they can see that I am happy.  Looking at old pictures of myself, I can see how lost I was.  I just tried to put on a brave face for everyone.  It's in the way I carry myself, the energy I have, the way I interact with people and many other ways.

That evening, I was excited to go watch my siblings soccer teams play.  My sister-in-law asked me if I wanted to meet her and the kids for dinner.  Of course I said yes.  To see them both run up to me outside the restaurant and give me the biggest hugs while yelling MIMI, made the day even better than I thought it already was.  Dinner was good and, the funny thing is, making good choices about my food isn't even that difficult anymore.  I got some green tea before we left and shared my york peppermint patties with the kiddos.  I bought them each a ring pop and got a couple good pictures with my nieces.  So funny how I can look at myself and see such a difference from a year ago.  In fact, here's a picture of me and my niece last year during soccer season and, below it, one from my milestone day :)

I maybe the only one (but hopefully not), but I see a difference, not only in my weight, but in my eyes, the genuine feeling behind my smile and so much more.   

I am still so excited for everything that is in front of me.  And I still have so much more to share :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Just Living My LIfe

The next week would be an interesting one for me.  I had a lot going on in the evenings but I still wanted to be able to exercise.  It's funny how much less time I spend watching TV these days.  I'd rather be up and moving most days.  I just have more energy!  Anyways, I made it to the gym that Monday but that was the only day I thought I would make it there that week so I tried to make up my own weight circuit.  I'm not very good at that...yet!  I thought it would be hard but as I went through it, the routine wasn't very challenging.  But, I kept going and then I ended up on the elliptical for a little over a half hour.  On Tuesday I made myself do something outside - turns out some of those workouts Renee' sent to me while I was on vacation will work at home too.  Plus, it only took me 45 minutes!  And I was tired :)

So, for anyone who knows me (or has read my whole blog), you can probably guess that I hate being in front of crowds.  Especially if I have to talk.  That's one (small) reason why I am a counselor instead of being a teacher.  So, with my new job, I found out I would have to do classroom presentations to some of the sophomores.  Know what?? I wasn't nervous.  I have so much more confidence in my abilities and in myself that standing in front of a group of students doesn't even faze me anymore.  Crazy.

I still enjoy watching the soccer teams play that my brother and sister coach.  I am not athletic but I enjoy watching sports.  So, I went to a game Tuesday night and, as I was playing with my niece, my sister looks at me and says, 'you are tiny'.  I'm not good at taking compliments but I tried to say thank you.  Of course I also added that at 200 lbs I am definitely not tiny :)  But, it's a big difference from 281!  I have so much energy to chase the kids around I just love every second.  I don't know why it took me so long to figure this out but I think it just had to be the right time and I had to have the right people around me to help me through the process.

Wednesday was the monthly book club dinner.  I knew the restaurant a couple of days ahead of time so I sent the menu to Renee' to ask for suggestions.  Of course, I prefaced that with, something I would touch :)  Otherwise she would probably suggest something weird.  At least to me.  I was so proud of myself and what I ordered.  I wasn't even tempted by the garbage fries and other greasy stuff that was available.  I did take a bite of a friend's sea bass.  Wasn't bad and didn't look as weird as fish usually does to me.

As I continue through this process, I am finding that as I continue to venture outside my little comfort zone (at my own pace, of course), I enjoy being me more and more every day.  I really do have to push myself to do a lot of things that most people just do without thinking about it.  So, it's nice that, as each day goes by, that kind of stuff gets a little easier for me.

Coming soon.... The Best Day of 2013.... So far :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Enjoying Rare Moments

That Friday was another day I will remember for a long time to come.  It was Friday the 13th, but that's not the reason why.  I had a doctor's appointment for a checkup with a doctor I hadn't seen in over a year.  I was getting weighed and stuff and she saw me and said, 'I hardly recognized you, you're so skinny".  Now, I am not skinny by any means but I am definitely thinner and so much healthier than I ever thought possible.

I actually wasn't dreading this doctor's appointment nor the conversation where we talk about my health and stuff.  Normally I do.  Although BMI isn't the most accurate scale in the world, I almost cried (but then I smiled a lot) when she told me that since January I had taken 10 points off my BMI.  She said that is a huge difference and was really impressed.  She asked what I had been doing and, as I told her, she said it sounds like I am doing all the right things.  What a great feeling.  Actually better than great but I'm not sure I can describe it.  When we were done, she congratulated me on everything and my new direction in life.  Made me smile even more :)

I remember it being a really cool day that Friday so I decided to go to the park for exercise.  I managed to do something for the first time, again.  I jogged a mile 3 separate times and only walked 3 tenths of a mile in between each mile.  I completed each mile in about 12 minutes which made me even more excited.  I was so proud of myself.  I am still not anywhere near being a runner but to be able to do these types of things is such an amazing feeling.

The weekend was pretty boring but I was actually okay with it.  I mean, who doesn't need a little down time every now and then?? There were a couple of different naps that happened that weekend - and I enjoyed each one!

I did have special olympics practice that Saturday and I had to buy a new swimsuit (so fun).  I bought a size I hadn't bought in a very long time, put it on when I got home and loved the way it looked!  I was so confident that, even though I didn't get in the water, I walked around in my swimsuit while directing the kids.  I wasn't embarrassed in the least.  Couldn't even begin to tell you the last time that happened!

I just absolutely love how my mindset has done a complete 180 since January.  I know have Renee' to thank for pushing me and helping me see what is inside of me.  Our friendship is fun and real and I know I wouldn't be where I am without her.  Even though she says its all me... Not sure we'll ever agree on that one but it makes text messages fun to send back and forth at times :)

I'm getting closer to the present.... but don't worry, I'll keep sharing my story - this is really fun for me!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Celebrating the Small Things

A co-worker and I went to a workshop where I went to college that week as well.  It was surreal to go back there after so many years.  Fun part?  Having enough energy to go up and down the stairs without being out of breath and not getting tired walking around the college fair to gather materials for our students.  We also went out to lunch and, when I would normally get something creamy, greasy and yummy, I settled for half of a sandwich (on wheat bread) and all I could eat salad.  It was actually good - and it satisfied me!  On top of that, I drank water with lemon instead of ordering a pop.... My how times have changed for me and my relationship with food.  Don't get me wrong, I still want to eat stuff that isn't good for me, especially pizza, but I've slowly realized that there are other ways to satisfy those cravings, sometimes with food, sometimes with something else.  If I really want to eat something, I take a few bites and then that usually satisfies my craving.  Funny thing... it doesn't happen very often :)

For some reason, that Wednesday, I remember being exhausted.  I texted Renee' and asked her for a suggestion of something to do at the gym because I had no ideas and didn't really feel like trying to make anything up...sometimes I think I should really stop asking these questions...but then I wouldn't be able to prove to myself that there are things I can do that I never thought I could.  She told me I should try a 1 mile run as fast as I can, take a break and then try to beat my time.  I thought she'd lost her mind....again. Me, run??  I had just started jogging!  But, I told her I would try.  She said I should trust her, that I could do it.  I told her I trusted her, but not myself!  So, I got on the treadmill and, surprise, I made it an entire mile with out stopping!  I was at a 5.5 speed and finished a mile in about 11 minutes (after warming up some).  The second time I pushed the speed up to 5.6 and did a mile in 10 minutes and 45 seconds.  That counts, right??  I was exhausted but it also felt exhilarating!

That week I was on the verge of hitting a huge milestone.  The previous week I had weighed in at (yes, I'm posting it) 201 pounds.  I didn't hit the number I wanted but I did manage to lose another pound and I was so excited!  Every pound is something to celebrate...remember that if you are just starting on a lifestyle change.  Renee' has reminded me of that more than a few times in the last 8 months and it has really helped me stay focused on my long term goals.

That night was another soccer game and I managed to get pictures with both my nieces and my nephew.  It was my way to document being down 81 pounds and how I loved having so much energy to run around and play with them.

They really are my favorite people in the world and they make everything I've done to be happier and healthier that much more meaningful.  I'm doing this for myself but also to be a more active part of their lives.  And to be a good example for them.  And, let me tell you, when they run up and grab my legs and yell, MIMI!!!, it makes my day 10x over and beyond.

There's so much more to my story and I can't wait to keep sharing with all of you :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sharing My Story = More Healing

The first full week of September and it was going to be a busy one!  The previous week, the district wellness committee had asked for anyone who had a major transformation to share to send in their story to be featured in a weekly spotlight.  I decided to submit my story.  It's part of an Eat Well initiative - the first of 3 phases in the wellness plan for the year.  Turns out, I got picked to be first!  I sent in some tips on the food I eat and also other things I have started doing with my nutrition.  I also sent in a before and after picture (below)

The before picture was taken on our family vacation in July 2012.  I can't even believe that was me.  Looking at it now, I can see how unhappy and unhealthy I was.  It's not just about the weight - but that's definitely a part - it's about emotional health too.  Being happy and having confidence is an amazing feeling.  This is definitely the first time in a long time I've felt that way and I am loving every second of it!

My story was sent out to the entire district in an email and in a district newsletter.  I had a lot of people come up to me throughout the day saying they couldn't believe how much weight I had lost.  They were asking questions about how I did it, how I felt, etc.  It was fun.  Not only for people to acknowledge my hard work but also for people to ask me what they could do.  I've never been an expert on anything - and I'm still not - but to think that people are asking me for advice on living a healthier lifestyle is such a fun feeling.  After everything Renee' has done for me, I feel that I should definitely pay it forward in any way I can.

Of course, I sent it to Renee'.  And my whole family.  Their responses made me smile big time!  I love knowing that they are proud of me and having their support means the world to me.

I think another reason I've found so much success is because I've been honest with myself and everyone else.  Once I knew this process was going to work (and still is), I started sharing my achievements on facebook, with my coworkers, with my family and with my friends, along with my current weight.  Believe me, when you weigh over 200 pounds, that is not an easy thing to do.  But, again, a lot of this is about confronting fears and healing wounds.  One of those wounds is the embarrassment of how unhealthy I was.  I often felt like an outcast in so many aspects of my life because of my weight.  Although there were other things holding me back, my weight was such a huge issue for me.  As I've become more comfortable with myself, I am so much more willing to be in different situations.  It's still hard for me (and I think it will be for a long time) but every day it gets easier because I accept myself for who I am.  And I've discovered through all of this, I'm actually kind of a fun person :)  I never thought that way before.  So fun to see that now.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Find What Makes You Happy

I fully expected to not be able to move the next day.  After all 80 reps of a bunch of exercises I've never done before is bound to make anyone sore.  I woke up the next morning and, surprisingly, I was able to get out of bed!  My sides and my arms were definitely sore but nothing compared to what I expected.  Of course I told Renee' and she said, well then 100 reps next time.  Maybe I should learn to keep my mouth shut.... :)

My friend Kim and I have known each other for years but we hardly ever see each other - life just gets in the way.  So, when she told me she was going to be out my way for a couple of hours that afternoon, I made sure I would get to see her.  I think at that point it had been 4 months!  When I walked into her mom's house (who probably hadn't seen me since January), she said, oh my gosh, how much weight have you lost?? Let me tell you, that never gets old!  Yes, this whole lifestyle change is about a lot more than weight loss but seeing the reaction of people is the best feeling in the world.  Kim and I were able to talk for awhile and she told me she could see the happiness in my face.  Even though she had seen pictures, she couldn't believe how different I look in person.

That weekend I wasn't sure what I was going to do for a workout.  Renee' gave me something to try at home (which involved nothing but my body weight) and it was hard!  But it was also a great workout.  

The rest of the day, I decided it was time for me to go on a scavenger hunt for more of the stuff Renee' keeps telling me to buy... I made my first visit to GNC (there's some strange stuff there...) but I found the protein powder I was supposed to buy and the other thing I was looking for.  Well, I had to ask the guy who was working there to help me, but at least I wasn't afraid to do that!  Then I was told I should go to Walgreens and look for something called a good greens bar.  I think she just wanted to hear about my wandering around another store, but, I'm willing to laugh at myself, so I went.  I had to ask someone where they were so I only wandered for about 10 minutes - In a store the size of Walgreens that's probably pretty average for a person like me.

That Saturday night was a soccer game and my whole family was there, which is awesome.  We played with the kids, caught up and cheered Mason on to another victory :)  My favorite part - taking this picture that I called my 80 lbs less picture -

I had bought that t-shirt when I was in Mexico 5 years ago and I think this was probably only the 2nd or 3rd time I'd been able to wear it.  On top of that, I had cleaned out my drawers and had another 4 bags of clothes to donate to Goodwill.  From all of the clothes I was donating, something else began to dawn on me - I definitely used to use shopping as a way to make myself feel better.  Know what's awesome??  Now I don't need material things to make me happy.  Well, I still need new clothes but definitely no where near as many as I used to have!  There are so many other things that can make me happy.

For me, being around fun, caring, thoughtful, funny, honest and sincere people makes me happy.  It makes me believe in myself more and more each day.  I've had a lot negativity surround me at different times and in different areas of my life so, it is the best feeling to be surrounded by positive energy.  I don't feel the need to self-medicate with food or material things.  It's just like any other addict - I used those things to make myself feel happy when they were just a temporary fix.

To be happy on a daily basis is an unbelievable feeling - Honestly, I can't really describe it except to say I hope to feel this way for the rest of my life.  I was looking forward to the week ahead, knowing that great things would continue to happen.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Everything happens for a reason.... just believe

So, you might be asking yourself, how could things keep getting better for this girl?  Well, I ask myself that quite often.  But, I think it is because I am finally figuring out who I am.  As each day passes, I get happier and happier with who I am and who I am becoming.  Like I said in a previous entry, I have a lot of wounds from different parts of my life.  But, I feel like they are slowly starting to heal and that is allowing me to be happier than I have ever been.

Part of this has been accepting my past, including the many mistakes I've made and fully realizing a couple of things:
1.  It doesn't define who I am or who I can become
2.  I can overcome anything if I surround myself with positive people who bring out the best in me

I still struggle with  a lot of things on a regular basis but they no longer consume me on a daily basis.  It's rare that I think about the things that used to bring me down every day.  And when I do, I try to find something positive to focus on or figure out what I'm supposed to take away from the situation or event.  I've always been a believe in "Everything happens for a reason...Just believe".  It's been hard for me to accept that through a lot of trials and errors in my life.  BUT, at this point, I really do believe that everything I have been through has happened for a reason that I am now discovering or will learn at some point in my life.

So, in short, I think the main reason things keep getting better for me is because I wake up every day feeling happy and pleased with who I am.  For many years, that didn't happen.  If you are struggling with something, find someone to talk to or just sit down and do some soul searching to figure out what's going on inside of you.  Trust me, I've done lots of soul searching over the last 8 months.  I do have a degree in psychology so I have spent a decent amount of time analyzing myself.  That can be good and bad.  But, it's allowed me to figure some things out about myself, which I think is a vital part to all of the changes I've been able to make in such a short amount of time.

So, it was the beginning of September, and usually that can be a blah time of year.  The school year is under way, no holidays in the near future, etc.  However, I was still looking forward to every day.  The weather was gorgeous and on Wednesday I decided to go to the park after school.  I thought I was just going to do my normal walk/jog.  Once I got going, I decided to keep jogging to see how far I could make it.  When I got to a mile, I looked at my watch and couldn't believe I had just jogged a mile in 12 minutes!  And, I did it again after I walked a little and caught my breath!  What an amazing feeling.  I still can't believe I did that!

The best day of the week?? Well, Thursday of course :)  I managed to lose 2 more pounds for a grand total of 80 pounds in less than 8 months.  Unreal.  I couldn't believe it and I couldn't weight to tell Renee'.  She was just as excited as I was.  Since we hadn't really seen each other in a couple of months (other than a few minutes at a soccer game), we were trying to figure out a time to get together and do something.  That afternoon ended up being the best and, although I'm not sure what I was thinking, I agreed to work out with her.  I knew it would be good for me to learn some new exercises and stuff.  Shortly into the workout, Renee' decided "80" would be the magic number for the day - 80 reps of everything.  I just smiled and said, maybe I won't tell you when I lose 100 pounds.... (knowing that, of course, I will).  I was surprised at what I was able to do but some of it was still really hard (guess that's the idea...).  By the way, putting a band around my legs and resisting then stepping is NOT FUN!   My legs were burning :)   And yes, I know she'll read this and probably make me do it many more times - but it's okay!  I was exhausted by the time I got done but it was fun at the same time.  She told a little of my story to some of the athletes she trains who were warming up for their session.  I'm still not good at having attention on myself but it made me smile and feel really good about myself.  Having those feelings about myself is awesome and something I couldn't have imagined back in January.

Things could only get better... right??  :) :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Festival / Labor Day Weekend

Festival weekend is fun every year.  We grew up with our church festival happening every Labor Day weekend and that is where we spent most of our time that weekend.  So, many of the people that I see there, this is the only time of year I see them.  It's a big tradition amongst our big group of family friends.

Last year, I would have been looking forward to the food at the festival the most.  After all, it's greasy, smells good and is delicious.  I promised Renee' I would not be buying any deep fried oreos this year.... I did, however, send her a picture of them and she told me they looked like cow poop.... :) Makes me want them even less... Plus I knew I'd get in trouble and I really didn't need to eat them.  But I did send some fun messages about visiting the baked goods booth, having some cheesecake, etc.  Funny to me at least :)  I didn't really eat any of it!

My mom and I had started walking on Friday evenings as a way to spend time together and catch up on the week.  She met me at my house and we went for a nice walk.  We went to the festival for a little bit and it was so fun to see some family friends for the first time in a few months.  They were impressed with how happy I looked.  It was fun to talk a little bit about how happy I am, my new job and just catch up.

Saturday is normally a big day for the festival but the weather had different plans this year.  It rained a lot on Saturday but started to let up early evening.  I ended up eating dinner at home...didn't get to have that piece of pizza I wanted (which I know made Renee' happy) but I headed to the festival after dinner and got to spend the evening with my nieces and nephew and siblings.  Although the weather wasn't much fun, we had a blast and I got to see more people I don't see very often.  I don't think anyone could have wiped the smile off my face with how people reacted to the way I looked and to how happy I am.  I just absolutely love how it shows in my smile and how I approach life these days.  I can hold both of my nieces without feeling like I am too weak and I love that I was able to get this picture with them -

We went back to the festival on Sunday (yes, 3 days in a row) and, with much nicer weather, we spent most of the evening there (the whole family) and I saw so many people I never see.  It was so fun to hear all of the compliments and to not be trying to find something to wear.  Anything I had would fit... can't remember the last time I was able to say that.  And I love it.

Labor Day was a lazy day, kinda boring.  I got lots of little things done but, overall, I laid on the couch a lot.  Renee' told me I could look up recipes if I was bored.  I told her they still confuse me and overwhelm me.  I also told her that since there is an easy and intermediate level, there should also be an idiot level for people like me.  I have no idea what 80% of the ingredients are that are in these recipes.  Nor would I know where to find them in the grocery store.... So, I wrote another blog entry instead, took a nap and got ready for the week ahead.

I think the best part of the weekend was having people see me that I don't see often.  It wasn't just to show off my weight loss (although that is soooo much fun!).  It was because people said they could see that I was genuinely happy.  I can't remember the last time someone said that to me and it was true!

I could only imagine what the week ahead would hold..... :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Still Finding Myself, Enjoying It and Living My Life :)

I was sitting here trying to figure out what to write about this time.  This whole blog is about my journey to finding myself.  Believe me, if you had asked me when I was 18, I would have told you that by the time I was 33 I would be married, have kids and be living what I considered to be a "normal" life.  I think that's part of the reason why I wasn't happy with myself. up until a few months ago.  I felt like there was something wrong with me or different about me because I wasn't married.  No one ever intentionally made me feel that way... it was just how I felt and I couldn't seem to shake it.

Since January, I have slowly realized and discovered that there are so many people out there who like/love me and want to be around me for who I am.  I know this realization has made my life with my family better.  It has also made a difference with my friends and in my work life.  There were many times that I would try to get attention for no important reason simply because I wanted someone to notice me.  I just felt like I blended in to the background.  As I look back on several of those situations, I realize that all I wanted was to like myself, and I didn't.  I always felt like there was something wrong with me and I think that was a major contribution to why I would retreat inside myself and why I was so unhappy.

So, the weekend started out with Renee' telling me I should tell my story, that people would be intrigued.  I thought she was crazy.  Lack of self confidence rears its ugly head again.  But, with some encouragement, I decided to give it a try.  I looked at how I could write a blog, and just started my story from the beginning which has resulted in what you are reading now.  Imagine my surprise when, by the end of the weekend, over 100 people had read what I wrote.  I just shared it on facebook and twitter (and I'm not friends with that many people), so I couldn't believe it.  I had all kinds of comments saying how interested people were and that they wanted to keep reading.  Renee' was right again.  She usually is.  She knows me pretty well, hence the reason we've become friends.  So, I kept writing, and I realized, in a way, this was my way to heal from all of my old wounds.  Trust me, I have a lot of them.  Some I've written about, some I haven't.  And if I can help one person find their way to a better life, then I hope I've paid forward what Renee' has done for me and continues to help me with each day.

The week was another good one, some things to do after work but I managed to exercise each day.  And, my accomplishment of the week was that I managed to jog for 20 minutes straight on the treadmill.  Up until now, I had only been able to do 5 minutes at a time with a 2 minute break in between each 5 minute set.  I was sooo excited!!  I couldn't believe what I had just done.... it was insane.

We had open house that week as well but because of my determination, I made an effort to get a little bit of exercise in before I headed back to school.  Oh, and I had lost another 2 lbs for a total of 78!  It was the end of August, the beginning of festival weekend and I was on the verge of a huge milestone... Didn't seem like life could get much better - but, it does, continues to get better.  Festival weekend every year is so fun, but this year, it was awesome for so many more reasons... :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hitting Another Milestone... So Fun!

So, it's the first full week for staff and the students arrive on Wednesday.  Monday was the all district staff meeting.  It was fun!  The marching band played at the beginning, they honored the teacher of the year and support staff member of the year (awesome, by the way), showed some videos and just did a lot of fun stuff to get the school year started right!  As a new staff member, I had to stand up and be recognized, which wasn't as embarrassing as it used to be.  On top of that, I ended up winning a prize that was donated by a community member - so fun!  

I made sure I got to the gym on Monday and did a good workout - it really was a priority for me.  On Tuesday, I found out I was getting a new kitchen floor for free, which was awesome!  Made my day!  But, my day got even better when Renee' showed up at soccer game that night and I was able to see her and talk to her for a few minutes.  I hadn't seen her since before I left for vacation at the beginning of July.  It's always fun to see someone when you've lost weight and they haven't seen you in awhile :)  I got to play on the field with the kids at halftime, which, by the way, is so much more fun and easier this year!  I can chase my nephew around and not even be out of breath.  I never realized how much I was missing out on.  

Wednesday was the first day with students which, as any first day is, was a little crazy but it was still fun.  I loved getting to meet some students. 

Thursday was another amazing day.  I stepped on the scale and had lost 2 more pounds!  I surpassed the 75 pounds and had hit 76 pounds 2 weeks before my goal date!  What an amazing feeling!  Throughout the day I was trying to decide what my next goal would be.  At the time, I was weighing in at 205 pounds (still can't believe I'm putting that out there for the world to know).  I decided that my next goal (which I am currently in the middle of pursuing), is to lose another 24 pounds by Christmas.  That would make 100 total, which, honestly, seems insane to me.  But I really want to try and Renee' thinks it's possible so, that's where my goal stands right now!  I'm going to have to keep working at it but I know it is possible.  I definitely would not have said that in January.

At my new job, we are allowed to wear spirit wear on Fridays.  I was so excited to wear my new t-shirt, especially because it actually fit!  It was a size I probably hadn't worn in over 10 years.  I honestly think this is one of my favorite pictures...ever!

It's really an amazing feeling to change your life - I still can't believe all the changes I've made in such a short time.  But I love the results of everything I've done and can't wait to see what else is out there for me.  Plus, there is still so much more to my story that I can't wait to share :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

At times, for me, it's dangerous to eat healthy - and other fun things!

It's the last day we can make schedule changes before orientation.  Overall, it was a busy day but not a bad one.  Since I had taken some things home the previous week, I felt pretty caught up.

So, I was teasing one of my co-workers about bringing her lunch and when she took me up on it, I packed enough for both of us :)  However, as I tried to cut the avocado, I wasn't paying attention and ended up slicing my finger.  I thought I had just cut it but after awhile, it wouldn't stop bleeding so the athletic trainer had to come wrap it for me - I just laughed for the rest of the day because I walked around with my finger wrapped in gauze.... at least I didn't have to do my push-ups that day!  Couldn't really grip anything...  That would only happen to me but again, all I could do was laugh at myself, take a picture and post it on Facebook.  Hey, if I can't laugh at myself, who will?? :)

The next two days flew by and I was so enjoying meeting some of my students and, funny enough, all the chaos that comes with the beginning of the school year.  Although I was exhausted by the end of the day, I continued to make an effort to go to the gym or get some kind of exercise.  For those who struggle with that part - just think of it as time you are giving to yourself.  I know that's kinda easy for me to say since I'm single and I don't have kids but, I promise you, taking just 30 minutes for yourself will make you an even better spouse, mom, dad, etc.  Everyone needs a little "me" time.  There are days when I really have to make myself do something.  I remember being exhausted one day that week and wanting to just lay down on the couch.  But I made myself get changed, drive to a park and just walk for about an hour.  The fresh air coupled with the exercise woke me up and made me feel 10x better.  Like it always does.

My body was still adjusting to being back at work so, again, I wasn't expecting much in terms of weight loss.  But, I lost another pound!  I kept reminding myself, it took me a long time to get to the weight I started at, it's going to take a long time to get it all off.  Renee' said a few times... it's a marathon, not a sprint.  And she's right.  So, time to be excited about and celebrate another pound!  I mean, if I can't be excited about losing 74 pounds in less than 8 months, then what can I be proud of??  I mean that is huge and I was finally realizing how big that accomplishment really is.  And I still had more success to look forward to in the coming months.  Amazing.

That weekend I decided I needed a couple more shirts for work.  So, in addition to helping a friend out in the afternoon, I went to the outlet malls and walked around to see if I could find anything.  I was soooo pumped when I found a pair of jean capris in a style I've never worn, some t shirts and a couple of dress shirts and I didn't even spend $75.  One of the best parts....I didn't have to search for sizes - what a great feeling!

Again, the weight loss isn't everything but it is definitely the catalyst for all the changes I have made in my life.  I am healthier, happier than I've ever been and looking forward to what the future holds for me :)

Bring on the first day of school and all the chaos - I'm ready!!  And I couldn't wait to continue on my adventure :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Being Happy .... Priceless

What an unbelievable feeling it is to be happy.  Although I've always been surrounded by wonderful people, I honestly don't think I've ever truly been 100% happy.  There was always something in my life that was holding me back.  Most people would probably think I'm going to say it was my weight.  Well, that was definitely a factor, but I've lost weight before and haven't been able to change anything else.  I think my biggest problem has always been a lack of self-confidence.  My brother and sister are the best, but it wasn't always easy for me growing up because I felt like I was different from them.  As an adult, I now realize that is okay - in fact, it's what makes me special and who I am.  They love me for me, their spouses love me for me, their kids love me for me and, of course, my parents love me for who I am.  On top of that, I am finally realizing that there are amazing people out in the world who want to know me for me.  Can't believe it took me 33 years to completely figure that out, but, hey, at least I finally get it, right?

And although she keeps saying it's me, I attribute a lot of my figuring this out to my friendship with Renee'.  She pushed me out of my comfort zone but also encouraged me.  She didn't stop pushing, and was willing to let me do things at my own pace.  I think there have been times when other people have tried to change me or push me too fast and I would just retreat inside myself because I felt safe there.  It takes me awhile to trust people and really open up to them - you can ask almost anyone I've known for a long time - but once I do, well, a couple of things happen - 1.  I'll be super loyal to you and 2. I'll talk to you all the time.  I'm just so thankful she was willing to break all my walls down.  I wouldn't be where I am at this point without her help, guidance and friendship.  And she'll probably make me do a bunch of push-ups for writing this but, I guess I'll survive, even though they are still evil!! :)

After my first full week at my new job, I was still loving it.  I was also looking forward to the weekend and spending some time with the fam.  My sister invited all of us out to her new house for dinner and a slumber party.  We had a blast!!  And the best part - My family was so excited for me that I had lost 73 pounds and was only 2 pounds away from my next goal.  So, they decided to help me celebrate and gave me a drink in a special glass.... See below

It was a great night.  We hung out, played cards and, yes, I ate a couple pieces of pizza - but I paired it with salad and didn't go overboard at all.  Angie, Kristin and I took the kids for a walk to the neighborhood playground and, again, I was so excited to be able to chase the kids around.  My nephew and I had a contest to see who could swing the highest - I'm telling you, if you haven't been on a swing in awhile, it's good exercise!!  Having energy was the best feeling in the world.

So, it's still mid-August and one of the busiest weeks of work is coming up but, know what, I wasn't dreading it all.  In fact, I was looking forward to meeting more students and just being surrounded by so many positive, wonderful people :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

My New Adventure Begins

Hard to believe, but it was now August 2nd and it was time for me to start my new job.  Much as I love the freedom of summer, I was so excited to get started!  Just an inkling to myself and others on how much I had changed since January... I actually took it upon myself to say hi to the other counselor who was already there when I arrived.  I never would have done that in the past.  Sounds crazy, but I was so unsure of myself and had no self-confidence, I would have just kept to myself until someone came in and said hi to me.

After some technical difficulties, I got logged on to the computer and was able to have a fairly low key first day.  I asked questions when I needed to and overall had a great day.  The people who were there seemed so nice.  I couldn't get over how excited I was to meet the rest of my co-workers on Monday.  When I left at the end of the day the only thing I could think of was... I have a great feeling about this job and I know I made the right decision!  It felt amazing :)

The other fun part of the day - realizing I would be working with my 6th grade science teacher!!  I bumped into her that morning and we talked for a few minutes.  It was fun to see her and I knew I would enjoy working with her and everyone else!

I remember that weekend being pretty quiet but I also remember being in such a good mood.  I felt like I was finally in a good place.  I had started to (and continued to) feel that way in the last couple of months and I felt like this fresh start was the icing on the cake.

My first full week at my new job was a busy one.  But I never regretted anything for a second.  I work with some awesome people.  One of the best things may seem so small - but remember it's the little things I've noticed the most - I was able to eat lunch with my co-workers!  It was (and still is) so fun to talk to them, get to know them, etc.  On top of that - I got a present - a slinky!!  It has become my new favorite toy and it keeps me sane :)  Everyone there drinks coffee in the morning so I've thought about putting my water in a coffee mug so I belong ... Then again, another awesome thing about this job, I don't need to do that to "fit in".  We are all individuals but I already felt like part of a team, which was the greatest feeling in the world.

On the fitness front, getting to the gym was still my main focus each afternoon.  It wasn't so much about relieving stress as it was knowing that I would feel better after I worked out and that it was what I could do for myself.  My job is often focused on helping others (as is every other job in the education field) so it is important for me to do some things for myself.  I have Renee' to thank for that - she helped me see how important it is to take time for yourself, even if it's just 30 minutes a day.  It really does wonders for my ability to focus on the rest of my life.

When I went back to work, it took me awhile to get used to how sedentary I am while I'm working.  After all, over the summer I had been more active than not most days.  So, to go from that to sitting in front of a computer for 7 hours a day is a bit of a shock to my body.  Therefore, I wasn't feeling super confident about the scale that week.  However, I was super excited to see another pound gone!  However long this takes, I am in it for the long haul.  And, at this point, in a little less than 7 months, I had lost 73 pounds and become a new (and better) version of myself.

It doesn't get much better than that, right?  Well, you just never know what can happen :)

I have always loved quotes and this one that I saw today really spoke to me - "Don't look back, you're not going that way".  So true and completely describes how I feel about my life now.  I'm not looking back - I can't change the past but I can change my future and make it the happiest time of my life.  And I love that :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Last Week of Summer Vacation

The last week of July already.... where did the time go??  I would be starting my new job that Friday so I had a lot of things on my "to do" list over the next 4 days along with some fun things I wanted to do.  I was determined to get it all in :)

Monday was honestly one of my favorite days ever.  Not only did I get to spend a few hours alone with my mama, I also got to go shopping!!  Starting work on Friday meant that I would finally need to break down and buy new clothes.  I had always been excited about the thought of it but couldn't believe I was actually going to enjoy going shopping!!  Again, this journey has been about so much more than weight loss but, to be honest, this day was a focus on how much weight I had lost and buying clothes that would show off my new body.  We started at Macy's and I was so excited with the sizes I was able to buy.  I found a few pairs of pants and some shirts that I would not have a worn a a year ago.  We also went to Kohl's and I found a couple more pairs of pants and shirts.  As I tried things on, it was fun to show them to my mom and see her smile.  Even better???  I knew I didn't need to buy a ton of stuff because I still had a long ways to go.  I can only imagine what the next shopping trip will feel like!!  Here's a sample of all the great stuff I got that day -

The next day was another busy one - but I loved it!  I went to a pool party at a friend's house and it was fun to see all my friends from my old job before I started my new one.  Hadn't seen most of them since school let out in June so their reactions to how I looked was fun :)  I had a lot of comments on how great I looked but the one that meant the most to me was when someone told me that I look really happy - she said I can see it on your face, in your eyes.  I could see these things myself but it was so fun to have someone else see them too.

That evening was the next book club dinner.  It was a small group of us but it was fun.  I couldn't believe I actually ordered fish for dinner... but it wasn't bad!  I wore a sundress - something I never would have done a year ago - and I opened up a little bit about myself to those who were there.  I think they were actually surprised when I told them going to dinner with people I'd never met was something I never would have done 6 months ago.  Guess I'm getting better about appearing to be comfortable.  We had a fun night and hardly talked about the book - Hence the name "Book" Club :).

Throughout the summer, Wednesdays are my day to spend with my mom, sister and the kids.  I love every second of it.  We usually go swimming but that day wasn't a very nice one so we went to Recreations Outlet for some run around time and then to Chuck-E-Cheese.  Again, the play areas were so fun because I could run around and go down slides with the kids.  My nephew had been begging me to take him to Chuck-E-Cheese all summer and we were running out of time.  He was mesmerized!  I had forgotten how much fun that place is!  We played ski ball and so many other games.  He did great!  My mom and sister left early with the girls so we got some special alone time and made some great memories!

My last day of summer was a lazy one.  One of the best parts??  Another 3 pounds - for a total of 72!  Completely unbelievable!!  I tried to tease Renee' but she was so busy that I finally told her :)  She called me that night and we talked for awhile about a few things.  With everything she has going on, I thought that was so nice of her.  Although it took awhile for me to let her break through my walls, I kept telling her how happy I am that she is my friend :)  Plus, I'm thinking she's never laughed at someone as much as she laughs at me, my stupid questions and my random thoughts each day, so, we're even, right??  I knew I'd found a friend for the rest of my life and I felt lucky, still do!

This process really is about the little things.  It's really crazy how figuring out what makes me happy and having someone (other than family) believe in me and make an effort to get to know me, even through all the walls I had up around myself, has transformed me into a completely different person.  I am someone who likes to sit back and take in the scenery.  Over the last couple of months I was (slowly) becoming a little more comfortable with speaking up in front of people.  It would be interesting to see how I would handle all the new people I would be around when I started my new job on Friday....

Nutrition, Exercise and So Much More

I'll continue with my story in the next entry but felt like writing this one this afternoon.

2013 had been an unbelievable year so far... I mean, at this point, it was the end of July, I had lost almost 70 pounds, found some new friends, become more social than I had ever been, gotten a new job and was just a happier person.  Over the summer I didn't get to see Renee' much but we kept in touch through email and text message.  It was interesting to me how she said she could hear the happiness in the way I would write messages and emails.  Your mood and personality can be reflected in so many ways than many of us, including me, realize.  Although a lot of my journey has been about weight loss, that isn't the only thing we've been focusing on.

Part of me becoming a happier person and truly making this a lifestyle change is finding what makes me happy.  I actually really enjoy working out.  It's my "me time".  Last year, my time for myself would have been spent sitting on the couch, watching TV and, if I'm being honest, feeling sorry for myself that I didn't have anything to do.  By now, I realized that if I really wanted to have things to do, I had to look for them - they weren't going to find me while I was sitting in my house.  This is so much easier said than done.  But, I pushed myself (with a lot of help) and, in such a short amount of time, I felt so much happier because I was around people and not just staring at the TV 24/7.

I used food as a comfort.  I am definitely an emotional eater and, to this day, when I have a bad day, I just want to eat everything in sight.  However, because I am overall a happier person, I am finding that I don't have that many bad days.  In fact, it's rare that I would call a day bad.  I may have a more stressful day but instead of eating, I go to the gym and work my frustration out in a different, healthier way.  I still enjoy the occasional lazy day (who doesn't) but I find I am much busier and much happier than I ever thought possible.

Eight months ago, I never thought I would be someone saying that nutrition is at least 80% of weight loss, if not more.  When I've tried to lose weight before, although I've always cut back on food, I thought the biggest thing was working out.  Exercise is definitely part of it but nutrition is so much more important than I ever thought.  I think that is why I've been able to lose as much weight as I have.

Renee' tells me to keep "shocking my body" with different exercises, food, etc.  Thank goodness she could tell me some things to do because I'm a moron when it comes to that kind of stuff.  I could google exercises and most of the time there were pictures available for me to figure things out.  Food was another story... I still get confused.  But I'm slowly trying to figure it out and branch out...although I still haven't touched sushi since the first time I tried it.

With exercise, I was doing a lot of interval training.  The elliptical was still my friend and I was doing a lot of sprint/jog because it would confuse my body with fast/slow.  Then I would do some weights or some circuit training to keep confusing my body.  I know all of these things have been keys to my success because every other time I've tried to lose weight, I would always do the same thing at the gym and think, well I'm burning calories so that's all I need to do.  Nope!  Always try to confuse your body - it will keep it guessing as to what you're trying to do and will help with weight loss and muscle building.

Hard to believe how much I've learned and changed in such a short amount of time.  And, I am loving the new person I am becoming :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Process to a New Me Continues :)

It was hard to believe it was almost the end of July.  Summer always flies by!  Especially because I was happy, enjoying life and staying busy!  What a difference that makes!

That Monday was moving day for my sister and brother-in-law so I offered to help my mom with the three kids that day.  The weather wasn't very nice so we found an indoor play area to take the kids to for a couple of hours.  It was sooo much fun.  Believe me, being 67 pounds lighter and healthier makes an enormous difference in having energy and wanting to chase them around.  I was able to swing, go down slides and fit on little kids jungle gyms like never before.  It was a blast!  And by the way, swinging is an awesome leg workout!  Wish I had one at my house...

The next day, I had my final interview for my new job.  In this type of situation, I would normally be unbelievable nervous.  It was kinda strange to me that, although I was still a little nervous (who wouldn't be), I actually felt really confident.  I enjoyed my conversation with the person conducting the interview and just got more and more excited about getting started.  The next day I went down to the school and was able to see my new office and meet a few of the people I would be working with.  I just kept getting happier and happier that I had pursued this job and gotten it!

Now came the strange part... Resigning from my current job and cleaning out my office.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the people I worked with and had a lot of great friends I'm going to miss seeing every day.  But, at the same time, this move just felt right.  I was very much at peace with it.  It took me two days to clean everything out (it was my second home for 8 years after all) and, when I turned in my keys, it was a strange feeling.  But, I was definitely ready for it and felt like I finally had a clean slate and was ready to start my new adventure.

In the midst of all of this, I had gotten sick and went to the doctor.  If you know me, you know I am always sick.  However, this was the first time in almost 5 months that I had been sick!  That's like a record for me.  Since they weigh me every time I go to the doctor, it was fun to see the doctor's reaction to how much weight I'd lost and have a conversation with him about my process.  Since I ended up on a pretty strong antibiotic, I took two days off of working out, especially because the infection was in my lungs.  My body definitely needed it.  That's another piece of advice I can offer to anyone new to this whole lifestyle change thing... listen to your body!

               1.  When you are hungry, eat - just make smarter choices (fruit, veggies, protein, etc)
               2.  If you are sick, don't push yourself with exercising.  However, don't use it as an excuse either.
               3.  If you get hurt, go to the doctor!!  I still see a chiropractor monthly b/c of my back and I believe it has assisted me in staying healthy.

At this point, I only had one week left of my summer vacation and so much that I wanted to squeeze into those final days.... And, I had lost another pound so, all was right with the world.  Probably one of the funnest weeks I'd had all summer was still on the horizon :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Summer Days ... Full of Good Times!

Typically coming home from vacation is a huge letdown for me.  I get used to being around my family every day all day.  The craziness of being around the kids and just having fun makes it one of the best weeks all year.  So, to come home to complete silence has been a bit of an emotional challenge for me in the past.  This year was different.  I knew I would find ways to stay busy and still be able to be around my family and friends.  It's amazing what having a clear head, self-confidence and being happy with myself has done for my ability to be okay with being alone at times.

Plus, I think, well actually I know, my family realized how important it was to me to spend time with them.  The Monday after we got back, I went to the zoo with my brother, sister, brother-in-law, mom and the 3 kids.  It was a blast!  I absolutely love seeing the world through their eyes.  And, even though it was stupid hot (we enjoyed walking through the "cool zones" quite often that morning), I was amazed at how being 63 pounds lighter and healthier made walking around the zoo, chasing the kids, etc so much more enjoyable.  I was able to wear a pair of gym shorts and a tank top - which I hadn't done in years - and feel completely comfortable with myself.  Like I've said before, it's the little things that I notice more than anything.

Since I had to go in for a final interview for the new job, I needed to go shopping the next day.  I figured they probably wouldn't want me to show up in sweatpants or a sundress and, since those are the only clothes I owned, I went out and bought something.  When I fit into a size 14 pants, I almost cried.  I couldn't believe it.  If you've every struggled with your weight, you'll understand what that moment felt like for me.  Amazing doesn't even describe it.

That Thursday was my "date" day with my nephew.  I had promised him all summer that we would spend a day together.  There is a place called Entertrainment Junction near where we live and he loves it there.  When I asked him where he wanted to go for our day together, that was his first choice.  My friend ended up meeting us there with her little boy and we had a blast.  We walked around, looked at the trains, played with the display stuff, etc.  One moment I'll never forget is when my nephew climbed way up in the jungle gym, couldn't quite figure out how to get down and I had to climb up to help him.  In January, I wouldn't have fit in the area I had to climb up to get to him nor would I have been able to actually make the climb.  Made me feel good - and yes, he got down just fine! :)  The picture below is from that day.  I can just see the happiness in my own eyes.

We went to Skyline for lunch and I had salad while he enjoyed his chili cheese sandwich.  We made a trip to Orange Leaf to get some frozen yogurt and then I took him back to my brother.  It was such a fun day!  Oh, and to make it even better, I'd lost another 4 pounds, even while on vacation for 10 days!

My life, in just 6 months, had done a complete 180.  I couldn't believe how happy I was, full of life and just enjoying every day moments.  And, much to my happiness and surprise, things would just keep getting better!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Vacation 2013 - Part 3

The next morning was my phone interview.  I got up extra early (especially for vacation), got some nervous energy out by doing a walk/jog and then locked myself in my room for my phone interview.  It was a different experience but one I felt I was completely ready for - actually excited!   Felt like I answered all the questions the best I could and, once it was over, I tried to put it out of mind and go enjoy the beach.  At that point it was out of my hands.  When I got a phone call later that afternoon asking if they could go ahead and contact my references, I almost cried.  I was feeling even more excited.  I gave them the go ahead and had to just wait for another phone call.

The next morning I was at the beach, taking pictures with my phone when it rang.  It was the principal calling to say they wanted to offer me the job and asking if I would accept... Of course I said yes.  I didn't even have to think about it!  I talked to him for a few minutes and was so excited when I hung up the phone that I think I just cried. And screamed.  I felt like it was meant to be and I couldn't have been happier.  And the fact that I got to share that moment with my entire family made it even better.  Unbelievable actually.  I talked to Renee' later that day and got to share the good news with her.  I could tell over the phone how excited she was for me.  Made it even better.

I didn't tell anyone other than the people I was on vacation with because there were still a couple of steps to go through.  But, that day made this the best vacation I'd had in a long time.  I was (and still am) and so excited for the new adventure, challenges, responsibilities and to meet new people.  I already knew one of the counselors and we had become friends.  I was excited to meet everyone else once I got home.

And now I was able to really relax and enjoy the rest of my time on the beach.  I remember one day back in the winter when my nephew asked me why I was losing weight, I told him it was so I could help him jump the waves at the beach.  I was actually able to do it and the pictures below are some of my favorites from our trip!

Our last day was a rainy one but we were able to find some sightseeing things to do and one was a lighthouse.  I don't remember exactly how many, but I believe there were over 200 steps to climb.  When I've tried to climb lighthouses in the past, I've always struggled because of energy, breathing and getting tired.  This time, although my legs were on fire by the end, it wasn't nearly as difficult.  Guess 63 pounds makes a huge difference, huh?  Amazing :)  Not the best picture but the one below is from the top of the lighthouse that day  -

I felt invigorated and so incredibly proud of myself!  During a break in the rain, mom and I went for a bike ride.  Everyone was ordering greasy food for dinner and cleaning up what was left in the kitchen (last day tradition).  This year, I went to a deli and got a sandwich and a salad for my dinner.  It was huge so I only ate half and decided to take the rest to eat on the way home the next day.

Although the end of vacation is always a little depressing, I had literally had one of the best weeks of my life.  I was excited to get home and get started on my new adventure!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vacation 2013 - Part 2

After being caught in traffic most of the day - we finally made it to our house for the week.  I could smell the salt water and almost immediately got changed and jumped in the pool :)  Then I decided, since I had sat in the car all day, that I should get out and stretch my legs.  I never would have done that last year.  I walked for about a half hour then made my way to the beach (only about a 3 minute walk from the house) and walked in the sand for awhile.  I really think the beach is my favorite place on earth.  It's peaceful, relaxing and beautiful.  And I was so excited to get to play in the sand and the water with my three favorite kiddos.  I loved how I could already feel that I had more energy.

Our first day at the beach, I decided I wanted some pictures.  I'm known as the photographer of the family and usually there ends up being a ton of pictures but not many of me.  I actually didn't want that to happen this year - I was so proud of myself for getting in a picture in my swimsuit.  And I wasn't embarrassed!  Still not 100% happy with how I look but what a difference 63 pounds (and many other things) made in my confidence level.

By the time I left for vacation I hadn't heard anything about the job I applied for so I just tried to not think about it.  That Monday as I was walking back from the beach I got a phone call asking me to come in for an interview on Wednesday!  I was excited and nervous all at the same time.  I wanted to do the interview more than anything but, obviously, Wednesday wasn't going to work since I was 12 hours away.  I explained that to the person that called and she called back within about 20 minutes and asked if I could do a phone. interview.  I 100% agreed and couldn't believe this was actually happening.

The only thing I had to do now was tell my parents about the possibility of the job.  I never wanted to keep it a secret from them but, they worry about me all the time (it's their job, right?) and I didn't want them worrying about this too.  I always knew I would tell them if anything came out of sending my resume in.  That evening I had the chance to sit down and talk to my mom and tell her how excited I was about the possibilities with this job.  I explained all of my reasons to her and she was 100% supportive.  She actually said to me - you have done so much in the last 6 months to change your life, I don't want you to be 97% happy, I want you to be 100% happy.  That meant more to me than I think she'll ever know.  I love that she's my mom and also my friend.

The next day was another day of fun at the beach.  I was so excited and relaxed all at the same time.  That night we went out to dinner.  We are all about being comfortable and chilling in our sweatpants but I wanted to go out at least one night to wear one of my sundresses and celebrate everything I had accomplished (with a lot of help).  Dinner was awesome, my brother did a cheers toast for me and we just had a great time together.  After dinner, we walked around the area we were in, got ice cream (yes, I eat it every once in awhile - and it was good!) and took some pictures.  I always wanted to get my picture taken on the beach because of how much I love it but I never liked the way I looked enough to get the  picture taken.  This year was different - my mom and nephew went with me after dinner and we took a couple of pictures of me -

I sent them to Renee' and her response made my night even better - She told me I looked beautiful :)  For the first time in a long time, I felt beautiful!  I posted them on Facebook and the comments I got the rest of the night had me smiling from ear to ear for several hours!  Little did I know, the best was yet to come ... :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vacation 2013- Part 1

Every year my whole family goes on vacation together - and there is always a beach involved.  Most years it's just a week but this year was different.  Since we had to go through Virginia to go to the Outer Banks, we decided it would be fun to make a pit stop at my aunt's house.  She has so many acres of land, lives on a creek and it is very private.  Kind of like a little slice of paradise.  I hadn't seen my aunt in almost 3 years (my whole family is scattered all over the eastern half of the country so we don't see each other often).  We had decided we were going to stop there before I started on this journey to change my life.  Now, I was even more excited to see her and show her the new me I was creating.  She said she hardly recognized me when I got out of the car - what an amazing feeling!!  It was the 4th of July, I was with my family, and this is the first real day of my vacation - and it started out with my aunt making me feel like a million dollars :)

In addition to my aunt, I have a cousin who lives a little over an hour away from her.  My cousin and I, over the years, had become really good friends, despite the distance between us.  We are only a year apart in age and are definitely related - we share so many qualities, personality traits and just get along so well.  As teeneagers, before the days of cell phones and instant messenger (yes, that makes me feel old), we were pen pals.  We became a part of each other's lives the only way we could since we lived 12 hours apart.  We eventually saw each other a few years later for the first time in over 10 years and we just clicked.  Over the next few years, we made efforts to get together when we could (lots of weddings helped us out).  I hadn't been able to see her for almost 3 years as well (lots of reasons) so when she found out I was going to be that close, she decided she and her husband would definitely make the trip.  Talk about excited!  I couldn't wait!
Our time with the family was the best.  My aunt is pretty silly (but entertaining all the same) and I was so happy that my mom was able to spend some time with her sister.  We drove around her property in the "pope mobile", played with my nephew and nieces, talked and just hung out.  Imagine my (and my siblings) surprise when later that afternoon another one of my mom's sisters and her husband showed up!  It was like a mini family reunion!  We had a cookout, set off fireworks, celebrated my mom's birthday (4 months late) the only way her sisters know how and just enjoyed each other's company.  And we still had another day to enjoy.

The next morning my cousin and I went for a nice walk up the dirt road (yes it is really a dirt road), got to catch up and just talk for a long time.  It's amazing how much we have in common.  And it was so fun to share my journey thus far with her.  We spent the rest of the day hanging out as a family and it felt like we had never been apart.  So much fun!  We went to dinner that night and, for the first time, I was fully comfortable in a sundress.  I even made my dad take my picture because I was so excited :)  Look below for the picture (and one of me and my sisters)

While I was sad to leave Aunt Mo's, I had so many wonderful memories!  I was pumped to head to the beach and I actually wasn't worried about being in my swimsuit!  Stay tuned to read more about the rest of this incredible trip!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Family - Amazing, Inspiring, Supportive - I'm So Thankful

It was the end of the second week of my summer and so far it was the best one I've had in years.  I think it's pretty evident that my family means the world to me.  I spend so much time with them and they truly are the greatest people in the world.  I was raised by amazing parents (Mama and Papa Schur to most of you) and lucky enough to have the most amazing big brother (Andy) and little sister (Angie) in the world.  Over the years, I was so blessed when Andy married Kristin, who is now one of my best friends and when Angie gave me another brother by marrying Seth.  Parents say the world is never the same when their first child is born.  Well, I'm not a mom but my world was forever changed in 2008 when my nephew was born.  He quickly became the light of my life.  In 2011 and 2012, our family was blessed with arrival of my nieces (only 5 months apart!) and they make the world a brighter place.

When I finally decided that I needed to change my life, I realized I was doing it for my family as much as I was doing it for myself.  Especially my nephew and nieces.  I wanted to be able to enjoy being an aunt by having lots of energy, chasing them around and just enjoying every day moments.  Although those 3 little buggers could always make me smile, I wasn't happy.  As I lost weight, had more energy, and was overall just a happier person, I could see it reflected in the way I interacted with them.  Instead of sitting on the couch all the time, I wanted to get up and play with the kids.  I wanted to play basement soccer, go for walks and do lots of other active things.  And, I wasn't as tired!  As I lost weight, from time to time I would tell my nephew how much I'd lost.  As the number got bigger, he would open his mouth wide and say "that's a lot Mimi".  I remember Kristin saying to me one time that my nephew asked her "Is Mimi getting smaller?".  I don't think I stopped smiling the rest of the night after she told me that.  To realize that a 5 year old could see that I was changing my life was an amazing feeling.

In addition to all of that, my parents have always cherished each of their children as individuals.  Over the years, I started to retreat from that some because I thought the (grand)kids were more important (don't get me wrong, they definitely are).  But I was missing that time my mom and I would spend together.  She and my dad had moved about 25 minutes away from me and we weren't able to get together and walk, I couldn't just drop by the house for 10 or 15 minutes, etc.  So, when my mom asked me if I wanted to spend the day with her that Friday at the end of June, it made my week.  We went shopping (I got some capris), ate lunch and saw a movie.  She had me laughing all day and it was so nice to spend some time with her.  It meant so much to me.  We both get busy so we promised that we would try to make time a little more often to have some mom/daughter days.

That weekend I went to a 4th of July cookout (still June, but we would be traveling with this family over the 4th) and it was so fun to see some people that I don't see often and their reaction.  Although I knew I still had a ways to go, all of the compliments just made me feel even more confident.  These types of gatherings are always tough for me.  I love greasy, unhealthy food.  But, I made an effort to pack a couple of snacks for myself so I could enjoy some dinner.  There were several desserts to choose from (sweets are my downfall) so I let myself have one and then I walked away.  Since I had still been eating like I normally do, I found I wasn't that hungry and one treat satisfied me.  Crazy.  Here's a picture from how I looked on that day -

Other than Renee's help, guidance, support and friendship, my family is the reason I've found success.  They have supported me 200%, changed some of the food we eat when we get together as a family and just been there through everything.  Of course, by this time, I also considered Renee' to be a member of my family. She was becoming like another sister to me - The two I have are my best friends so why not add another one :)

Angie had been wanting to celebrate all my success for awhile but our schedules just never seemed to work out.  We finally found a day and headed down to the Reds game - although the weather wasn't the greatest, we had a lot of fun and it was great to spend some quality "sister" time, just me and her.  The picture below is from that night.

My family is the greatest support system I could have ever asked for.  I have a huge extended family and I was so pumped to be heading out on vacation and seeing some of them the next week.  I could only have imagined how amazing our vacation would turn out to be this year :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Research, Goals, Fun Shopping Trips and Lots More :)

The afternoon that I hit my goal of 58 pounds, Renee' called to tell me congrats and to help me figure out a new goal.  It meant so much to me that we really are a team throughout all of this.  Other than family, I don't think I've ever had anyone take such an interest in me as a person.  It was making a huge difference in every aspect of my life.

We decided on 75 pounds by the beginning of September.  Which meant I had to start working on another 18 pounds.  But I was still so motivated.  I hadn't been at this weight in years and I couldn't imagine what hitting 75 pounds would feel like.  When I did the math, and I can't believe I am putting this out there for the world to see, but that would put me at 206 pounds.  So close to being under 200, I couldn't even imagine it.  For anyone trying to do the math, this means I started at 281 pounds.  Definitely the heaviest I had ever been.  Couldn't believe I was now at 223.  I felt amazing!

That weekend I went shopping for some things for vacation.  I wanted some sundresses.  I don't think anyone could describe how excited I was when I was able to fit into a large and found way more stuff than I needed... Such a fun thing to be able to go shopping and find stuff I really want to wear!  Actually, the feeling is kinda indescribable.

I was still working on that goals list.  I ended up going to Barnes and Noble to buy some magazines and try to find some new recipes (my favorite thing) and maybe some workout routines.  I actually did find some stuff for exercise but the recipes were way over my head.  I was actually looking for a cooking for idiots book but I don't think barnes and noble had it... lol

I decided to look up some new parks and make some plans to visit them.  Just go for walks, put myself out in public a little bit more... something I am definitely not the best at.  Since I was starting to jog, I decided I wanted to try a 5K in the fall.  I knew I wouldn't be a runner but I wanted to see if I could walk/jog it.  So, that was on my list of things to do as well.

Throughout a lot of this, I've found that it's often the little things that I notice or that make me smile the most.  That week I went to a local farm with my mom, nephew & niece.  I decided to wear a pair of shorts and a tank top.  I never would have put this pair of shorts on out in public last year.  I put them on - they fit and were actually a little big.  Such an amazing feeling!

This picture is from that day :)

My workouts were starting to become a little more intense.  I was trying to lift a little more weight, do faster reps, etc.  I was actually seeing some muscle starting to develop!

At this point, I was more and more excited for Thursdays.  I loved seeing the progress I was making, whether it was one pound or four.  I had gotten used to, usually when I lost 4 lbs one week, I would lose 1 lb the following week.  My body has always been weird.  I'm not sure anyone could have described how excited I was that day (at the end of June) when I stepped on the scale and saw that I had lost 3 more pounds for a total of 61!!  I literally jumped up and down.

And there were still so many amazing things to look forward to - I could only imagine how much I would be smiling in the weeks to come :)

Example of What I Eat

I've had a lot of people ask me what I eat.  Believe me, I never thought I would be giving out tips on food.  I'm still awful with recipes but here is a sample of a couple days of food for me.  I'll even put approximate times next to each time I eat.  You'll see I really do eat every 2-3 hours.  I think that is one of the keys because, for the most part, my body is never really hungry.

From last week, here is what I ate on Tuesday -

Breakfast (7:15am)
Blended a smoothie - Double Chocolate Whey Protein Powder, 1/2 cup of Milk, 5 strawberries, 1/2 a banana and a little spinach (you won't even taste it!)
          - I usually eat the other half of the banana as well - This is around 300 calories and fills me up

Snack (10:00am)
Plain Greek Yogurt (w/no cal sweetener mixed in) and granola
Small Cutie Orange

Lunch (12:30ish)
3 WASA crackers (in the cracker aisle) w/avocado, turkey and sliced veggies
           - I use carrots, celery and tomatoes but other stuff is great too
Hot Green Tea & 3 york peppermint patties

Snack (3:30)
KIND plus protein bar (in the organic section where I shop)
Light String Cheese

Snack (I was hungry when I got done at the gym) (5:30ish)
Small Cutie Orange

Dinner (7:30ish)
Cheeseburger (no bun) made from Laura's Lean Beef
Salad (lettuce, spinach, carrots, celery, tomato & a little shredded cheddar cheese w/light italian dressing)
Hot Green Tea & 3 pieces of Dark Chocolate

The times are pretty much the same on Wednesday but I ate different things -

Whole wheat English Muffin w/peanut butter

Plain Greek Yogurt w/no cal sweetener, strawberries & blueberries

Salad (same veggies as above) w/crushed almonds as protein (never knew that was considered a protein..)
hot green tea & 3 york peppermint patties

KIND bar
Light String Cheese

Tilapia filet
Small Orange
Hot Green Tea & 3 pieces of dark chocolate

I don't know if anyone cares... but that's what a typical day looks like for me :)

More Fun!!

I'm going to take a break from my story - just for a paragraph :)  Since I started writing this, I've had many people say so many nice things to me - Thank you so much!  I never thought I would inspire anyone so to hear that from people means the world to me.  Just know that it is a lot of hard work but, if you are willing, it is completely worth it!!  Even the sore muscles :)  These last (almost) 8 months have honestly been some of the best I've had in so many years.  Don't get me wrong, I've always had a great life but I never really found myself.  I feel that over these months, I've started to discover myself and find what makes me happy.  It's hard for me to remember how I felt last year at this time.  All I know is, I never want to go back there.  And I know that, in addition to my awesome family, I have a few more people in my life these days that make me feel like I matter and who I consider to be the reason I've found success and am still making so much progress.

So, it was mid-June, I'd lost 54 pounds and I was entering my first full week of summer.  During that week I had agreed to work a swim camp in the morning with school age kids to make some extra money.  I've worked it before and it was usually hard to get me to play in the water with the kids.  Not this year - I actually didn't mind being in my swimsuit!  And, I still managed to get a workout in every day.  A couple of mornings I got up early and did a walk/jog at the park near the Y.  It felt good to get it done early.  By now, I think everyone knows how much I hate pushups... they really are an evil invention ;)  But, one day that week I asked Renee' what weight stuff I should do - she was busy so I joked around with her and said... no response means no pushups, right??  I should have kept my mouth shut...She responded with, of course pushups, 100 total.  I thought she was kidding - apparently not.  I was allowed to split them up into shorter segments but my arms were killing me by the time I got done - I told her 100 pushups was mean... but I know they are good for me.  I now looked forward to working out - crazy!

That Monday afternoon, I sat on my couch and, with my resume and cover letter complete, I stared at my computer for about 10 minutes before I hit 'send'.  I was excited and scared all at the same time.  I had no idea if anything would come of it but was proud of myself just for hitting the send button.

With regards to food.... Renee' was convinced I could become an expert in the kitchen by the end of the summer.  I just smiled and nodded.  I knew there was no way that would ever happen.  I get so confused looking at recipes that I just give up.  If it hasn't already been written, someone should really write a cookbook for people who aren't very smart about me.  But, I said I would try to find some new stuff when I had time.  By this point, although I knew what a garlic clove was, I still had no clue how to use it so I started buying the minced garlic and I use that now - makes my life soooo much easier!

I was also working on a list of goals that I wanted to work towards over the summer.  That's another part of this that I found was crucial to my success.  I was writing things down and setting completion dates for myself.  It was Renee's idea but it worked - imagine that :)  It made me do something rather than just sit on the couch and fall asleep all summer.

With how busy I was that first week, I wasn't sure what to expect from my weigh-in on Thursday.  Guess what - I lost 4 more pounds!!! Which meant - a total of 58 and I had achieved my next goal - 2 weeks early!!  Unbelievable.  I almost cried.  Those goals that I mentioned above - I had written some at the beginning of February and one was to be down 45 pounds by vacation - I had more than surpassed that and it was an absolutely amazing feeling!!  Of course, now I needed a new goal.... Stay tuned to find out what it ended up being :)

Enjoy the picture below from mid-June (My nephew and I tried to take a "selfie")