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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ups and Downs - Learning About Myself

Life is full of ups and downs.  Happy moments and disappointing moments.  The trick is you have to figure out how to work your way through both without letting the not so good times get you down.  

I definitely struggled with that in many more ways than one, most of which I've talked about in one way or another in this blog.  However, I've never really talked about how up and down my weight has actually been throughout my life and how that affected me.

Even as a kid, I was always the "heavy" one.  I'm not sure why.  My parents fed us well, made us eat vegetables, drink milk and go outside and play all the time.  I think some of it is genetics.  I was never going to be stick thin - I'm not built that way and I actually think I'd look kinda funny if I were stick thin. From a very young age, I loved to eat, especially sweets.  Many of you might remember Mama Schur's homemade cookies (we used to sell them at lunch when people asked us for the ones packed in our lunches).  Just one of the many sweet treats I enjoyed as a kid.  But, it never went overboard because food wasn't free reign at our house.

However, as I got older, I, obviously had more freedom with food and, with lots of things starting to happen in life (being a teenager sucks), I started to use food as comfort.  It made me feel better to feel full.  Definitely an emotional eater from a very early age.  Plus, as I got older, I started to realize that I was not athletic and that sports were not going to be a big part of my life.  So, my activity level decreased dramatically.  In middle school, I remember my mom putting me on a diet one summer.  It was something I wanted to try and it wasn't any kind of starvation plan.  I just cut back on calories.  I managed to lose some weight and I felt really good about myself.  But, even that was short-lived.  After losing the weight, I started eating normally again and eventually gained all of it back and then some.

By mid high school, my weight was kind of a security blanket for me.  I was always trying to find a way to fit in and, if I felt lost (which happened often), I would just eat candy and anything else that I could get my hands on.  I wasn't active and I pretended to be happy.  I went off to college and just continued to eat.  I knew my weight was out of control but college wasn't exactly the best time of my life.  I struggled to meet people (that whole talking to people I don't know thing) and I found myself going home a lot on the weekends because I wasn't happy and my dorm situation was awful, to say the least.  Just felt like I was getting dealt one blow after another.  By the end of my sophomore year of college, I wanted to try to lose weight so I went back to cutting calories.  I managed to lose a significant amount of weight and loved buying some new clothes to wear.  However, it was once again short-lived.  I went back to school after having the summer off and, very quickly, my living situation became one that was not healthy for me.  My roommates and I just went different ways and grew apart.  So, I started to eat again as a way to comfort myself.  

The next few years were packed full with school, grad school, working full time and completing a 600 hour internship while going to school and working full time.  Needless to say, activity was the last thing on my mind.  So, my weight continued to go up the scale but I still hadn't hit my heaviest.  Throughout my years at my old job, I would try to lose weight at times.  But, I would always go back to eating what I wanted, when I wanted.  I gave into temptation way too easily.  And, although I pretended to be happy, I wasn't and food was my comfort.  When each of my siblings got married, I had lost some weight but, both times, I put the weight back on, plus some.

So what's different this time?  First of all, I have someone who will kick me in my ass if I start to fall off the bandwagon - she already has a couple of times and it's exactly what I needed!  Obviously, I don't do the greatest job of holding myself accountable so having someone who will keep me in check is making a huge difference.  But also, my frame of mind has completely changed.  This isn't a diet, it's the way I'm going to live my life.  I have to.  And I want to.  

So many people have asked me how I've managed to lose so much weight in such a short period of time.  Other than saying, I've changed everything about my life, I don't really have an answer.  At some point, it will stop.  Today, for the first time since I embarked on this journey, I didn't lose any weight.  I won't lie - it was a disappointment.  However, I just scooped myself up and told myself that I would see a change next week.  And, even if I don't, I know I will eventually.  During my past attempts to lose weight, when I wouldn't see a change for a week or two, I would give up.  I'd say, screw it, I'm eating some candy (or whatever).  Know what I did today?  I ate just like I normally would, walked by the room that was filled with Halloween treats for the office aides several times and I went to the gym.  

I feel amazing!  And the support of all my friends and my entire family has made a world of difference this time around.  And, I feel confident in saying, this is the last time I will be looking to lose weight!  I am going to keep it off!

And, again, this is about so much more than weight loss.  As I mentioned several times above, I wasn't happy and I was searching for something, I just didn't know what.  It's funny, I really think my 30's are going to be some of the best years of my life.  I found the following tonight and feel like it sums up what I've rambled about tonight:

It's about a girl who is on the cusp of becoming someone.. A girl who may not know what she wants right now, and she may not know who she is right now, but who deserves the chance to find out.

Monday, October 28, 2013

My first 10K!

I'm really not sure what I was thinking when I decided to try a 10K.  For anyone who doesn't know, that is 6.2 miles.  I just did a 5K two weeks ago and running that much was a challenge for me.  I didn't even run the whole 5K but I did finished much faster than I thought I would.  But, since I had signed up, paid the money and made my mom sign up too, I decided to go for it and do the best I could.

It turned out to be a gorgeous day.  The morning was a little chilly but, for the end of October, we couldn't have asked for better weather.  Mom and I were ready to go and didn't have to wait too long.  The course was around a park - twice for the 10K.  I didn't realize how far 6.2 miles actually was until I got to the end of 3.1 and realized I was only halfway there.  But, I was determined to keep going and I had made it to the halfway point in about 35 minutes which made me happy.

Mom and I had split up pretty much from the beginning.  I got off to a quicker start but she eventually passed me when I had to start walking.  I had my ipod so I was good!  I knew the second half was going to be more difficult than the first but I also kept telling myself how close I was to being done.  That gave me a few bursts of energy :)  I definitely walked more in the second half but every time I felt like I could, I would jog for a little while.  I kept looking at my watch to see how I was doing on time.  Then I would look behind me to make sure there were still people behind me...I didn't want to be the last one!  By the time I got close to mile 6, someone who I had been close to most of the race gave me the push I needed to finish - she said, come on, you've only got .2 miles to go.  So, I started running and I went across the finish line an hour and 14 minutes after I started!  I was soooo excited!  My goal (in addition to not being last) was to finish in under an hour and a half.  Oh, and did I mention I had strep earlier in the week?  So, I was coughing and blowing my nose throughout the race.  

When I went across the finish line, I saw my mom and then, to my surprise, I saw my sister, brother-in-law and my niece!  They had come out to see me finish!  Meant the world to me that they would take the time to do that :)

I have to say, it was completely worth it.  I had fun, loved doing it with my mom (even though we weren't together most of the time) and really feel like I accomplished something I never thought I could.  Here's mom and I after we both finished :)

I think I'll wait til the cold weather goes away before I try another race.  And I may stick with 5K's for awhile until I get more used to this running thing.  But, I am so happy I tried the 10K and finished it in the time I did - Feels amazing!

Friday, October 25, 2013

What Can Change 9 Months??

Nine months - can be a long time and a short time.  Most of you are probably thinking - yeah, it takes 9 months to have a baby.  And, you're right.  But, that's not what I'm aiming for here.

At the end of January 2013 (I believe it was the 2nd to last Thursday of the month - rainman memory at your service - I took a leap of faith, drove to Mason after work (35 - 40 minute drive from my old job) and walked into a place I'd never been to meet with someone I'd never met about how I could work on making some changes in my life.  I couldn't believe I was actually doing any of the above.  Me, meeting someone new and being interested in what she had to say and, maybe actually saying more than 10 words in response.  Most people who knew me then would tell you, there's no way Amanda would do that.  And, for the most part, they were right.  But, I trusted my brother and his judgement and I knew he wouldn't be sending to talk to someone he didn't really like, respect and admire in many ways.  After all, he is my big brother and he loves to be protective in any way I'll let him.  So, I knew I would be in good hands.  

First talking to Renee' - I felt energized.  First time I'd felt that in a long time.  When I told my brother that, he just smiled.  And my family respected that I would tell them what I wanted to tell them when I was ready to share it.  Deep down, I think I needed to do this on my own at first (well, with Renee's help) so I could take ownership in changing my life.  Sometimes, I think the phrase changing my life is a bit of an understatement.  But I'll go with it.

I'm sure I'm going to forget something (or many things) but this is everything I can remember accomplishing in the last 9 months.  Renee' made a similar list for me after my spring break this year - just 2 months after I met her.  I should probably let her add to this list.  She comes up with a lot more accomplishments for me than I do for myself.  In addition to accomplishments, there are so many things I've learned about myself, I'm not sure I can list them all.  But, I'm going to do my best so that anyone who reads this knows that it truly is possible to change your life without changing who you are as a person.  

1. Volunteered at different places with people I've never met
2.  Tried new food - especially fish
3.  Started learning how to cook
4.  Figured out what a garlic clove is - still don't know what to do with it! :)
5.  Stopped looking like I was walking in circles at the grocery store (unless I'm looking for something new).
6.  Tried Green Tea - and actually liked it!
7.  Established some new friendships that I am so lucky to have in my life
8.  Learned that it is okay to indulge from time to time - it's part of life
9.  Learned how to smile again and actually have meaning behind that smile
10. Wrote down several goals for the next few months
11. Developed self-confidence and self-esteem I didn't know was inside me
12. Started exercising again and grew to enjoy it
13. Discovered that I despise push ups - but for some reason I keep doing them
14. Learned that there are amazing people in the world who want to help others - I just had to find them!
15. Discovered that there are people who want to know me for me - something I struggled with for many years
16. If I don't take chances, I'll never know what could lie ahead of me
17. Much as I enjoy my little comfort zone, I need to step out of it to find the life I want to live.
18. Salad is actually good
19. Renee' enjoys confusing me by mentioning foods and other things I've never heard of - but it makes me laugh!
20. I enjoy laughing at myself as I find my way through this thing called life
21. Being happy is priceless
22. Starting a new job really is a new beginning - in so many more ways than I ever imagined
23.Being social is actually fun! 
24. I ran/walked a 5K in 35 minutes! 
25. Sometimes, new friendships can turn into the person or people becoming your best friend(s).
26. Being around people who are positive, enjoy life and bring out the best in me is an unbelievable blessing

AND - 

27.  I've lost 91 pounds!!!  Un-freaking-believable!!!  

I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I feel so incredibly blessed to have so many amazing people in my life.  Renee' has helped me find things inside myself that I either didn't know existed or had lost throughout the last few years.  I can't even begin to explain how amazing it feels.  And how incredible I feel.  But, maybe this picture will give you a little insight - 

I've never seen this quote until today but I think it sums up the last 9 months of my life - 

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

And, if I had to, I would sum up my very first conversation with Renee' with this quote - 

This is a new year.  A new beginning.  And things will change.

I could have only imagined how true that would be - and in more ways I could have ever imagined.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Facing Challenges

Challenges.  We all have so many of them in our lives.  I know I have certainly had my fair share.  I used to think I was dealt more crap than the average person.  Looking back on it, I'm not sure that was necessarily true.  I think I just wasn't sure how to deal with everyday challenges.  

One of my biggest challenges has been finally coming to the conclusion that I love who I am.  Struggles, challenges and successes.  Over the years, I think I've overlooked everything I've achieved because I always chose to dwell on the bad stuff.  Hey, by the age of 24, I had a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree, had landed a job in the field I wanted and so many other things.  Don't ask me why, but, despite all of these accomplishments, I struggled to find a lot of positive things in my life.  

I used to get sick all the time.  (I'm sick right now but, who's counting??)  I think some of that was the depression I was feeling.  Yep, I finally said the word.  It took me awhile to actually use that word.  But, now that I have used it over the last several months, I realize there's nothing to be ashamed of with depression.  So many people experience this mental health disorder for many different reasons.  For some, it is temporary, for others it is a lifelong struggle.  I think I am one of the lucky ones.  I just needed to find myself in order to find my way out of my depression.  It's something I work on every day and I'm sure I will work on it for the rest of my life.  But, shouldn't everyone constantly be trying to be a better version of themselves?  I mean, I know there are always things about me, how I react to situations and people and many other things about my life that could be better.  Part of life is learning, growing and changing every day, right?  It's amazing how much of that I have packed into the last 9 months.  

I've heard people say that different phases of your life are supposed to be the best years of your life.  I think that gets said about high school, college, your 20's and other different times.  I think the best time of your life has to be when you figure out who you are.  That happens at different times for everyone.  For me, just recently I've started to understand what makes me happy.  I've had to take some chances, make a lot of changes and really try to figure myself out.  Easier said than done.  But, with the right support system in place, anything is possible.  And I'm definitely still working on it and will be for a long time.

As I was watching TV today, I saw a show about people who had lost weight getting revenge on people who had been horrible to them when they were overweight.  While I totally get it - people can be really cruel in a lot of ways they don't even realize at times - I am so happy I'm not that kind of person.  I don't need to get revenge on anyone.  I'm doing this for me, and only me.  As much as the love and support of my family means the world to me, I had to make the choice to change my life for myself.  Took some pushing for sure, but no one could make me do something I didn't really want to do.  

Whatever your challenges are in life, I've learned that it is so much better to just face them rather than hide from them.   Find people who will support you, no matter what and you will find that every day of your life can be part of the best years of your life.  Sometimes I wish I would have figured that out sooner but, there's a time and a place for everything.

Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dancing in the Rain

Some people wonder what I do when I am at a party.  Do I just not eat?  No, not at all.  I have learned to eat as I normally do all day so that I am not starving by the time I get to the party.  If there are healthy options, I will definitely try to go that route.  But, I also allow myself to indulge from time to time.  Take my niece's birthday party - I knew I would be eating pizza and having a cupcake for dessert so I made sure I worked out and ate really well all day.  I don't feel guilty about it but I did enjoy every second of eating that pizza and cupcake :)  I'm still a normal person - I just try to make better choices for myself on a daily basis so I don't feel guilty about indulging from time to time.

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.

So true.  As happy as I am now, I can't say I don't have bad moments or even a frustrating day here and there.  Who doesn't.  I think what's different now is how I choose to react to those frustrating moments or occasions.  I can sit around and wait for the situation to pass and just let it fester inside of me (what I used to do) or I can figure out how to work and live through it, hence the dancing in the rain.  

For example, this whole cooking thing.  To this day I feel like a complete moron about food and anything related to cooking.  It overwhelms me and makes me feel stupid.  However, I keep trying.  Well, except for that whole recipes thing but we can just keep that between you and me, right? ;)  When I first started this lifestyle change, I had absolutely no idea where to start.  With a lot of help, (and explicit instructions...) I was able to get started.  I could have just given up and said, screw it, I don't understand.  But, instead, I chose to laugh at myself and take all of my mistakes and stupid questions in stride.  If I can't laugh at myself, how will I ever get through all of this and sort of learn how to cook??  Notice I said sort of...

If I can't learn how to work through all of the difficult times, how will I ever enjoy all of the happy ones?  That was another part of my struggle.  As I've said before, I was constantly consumed by the bad things in my life.  I would put on a brave smile but I never really worked through them.  Since I've started figuring out who I am and what makes me happy, I'm not consumed by frustrating things anymore.  I just love living my life and try to enjoy every second I have while I am awake. 

I also think part of learning to dance in the rain is being happy.  I think I've said before, I see such a happiness in my face that wasn't there 9 months ago.  I've had several people comment when they see me that I just look happy.  Truthfully, this is the first time in my adult life I can remember people telling me that I look happy.  Fake smiles only go so far.  When you are truly happy, it will radiate through everything you do.  I am living proof of that.

If you want your life to change, your choices and actions must change.  Every day brings a chance to start over.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

There's a Reason for the Past

Your past is what makes you who you are.

This is so true in so many ways.  We all have things, events or occurrences in our lives that we would love to forget ever happened.  However, if you really think about it, would you still be the person you are without those things happening in your life?  I know I wouldn't be the same person.

There's no need to go into lots of detail, but it's safe to say there are lots of things that I remember from my childhood, teenage and young adult years that are not great memories nor were they positive experiences.  However, as I look back on them as a 33 year old adult, I realize they all happened for a reason and have had a part (big or small) in shaping who I am today.  Now, I won't say that all the results have always been positive.  However, I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason.  For example, there's a reason that I've always struggled with my weight.  I have no idea why and throughout my life I've always complained that it isn't fair.  But, I wouldn't be who I am today without that struggle.  I think this particular difficulty has made me a pretty sensitive person and really in tune to how people feel.  Probably one of the reasons I enjoy being a counselor.  I know what it's like to feel like you don't belong, whether it's true or not.  It's a very difficult place to find yourself in but there are ways to work through it.  Just takes the right time and the right people to surround you with love and support.  

During my childhood, I always felt like I had to compete with my brother and sister.  My parents never made me feel that way.  For some reason, it was my mindset.  I think, well, actually I know, that feeling significantly contributed to how I've felt the last few years.  Although it's been a difficult road, again, I know I wouldn't be the person I am without going through those difficult times.

The other thing I take out of this quote is family.  Your family will always be a part of your past.  If you're lucky (like me), they will be a huge part of your daily life and you will be secure enough to know they will always be around in the future.  I grew up surrounded with a ton of love and support from two amazing parents.  To this day, I still have that kind of love and support.  My family is just bigger.  I wouldn't be the person I am without my amazing parents and all the wonderful memories and experiences I have with my brother and sister.  They have shaped who I am, the qualities and characteristics I possess and so many other things about my life. 

As kids, we were lucky enough to spend a week each summer with our grandparents.  They both lived about 8 hours away from us so the time we spent with them was incredibly special to all 3 of us.  The time I was able to spend with them allowed me to develop such respect, love and admiration for everything they brought to my life.  Only a few people who read this will understand this next sentence but, that's okay.  Because of the time I was able to spend with my grandparents in New York, to this day, every time I hear a train or drive across railroad tracks, I blow a kiss up to the sky and say, "I love you Grandpa".  I know he's up there watching over me and I take the trains as a sign of that.  

There are so many more (countless) ways my past has shaped who I have become.  I am forever grateful for all of my experiences, good and not so good.  There's a reason for all of them.  I know that in my heart.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Enjoying Life

I promised I would keep going with my story.  I enjoy sharing my ups and downs and all the happiness and success I've found in the last 8 months.  So, thank you for reading my blog :)

I don't necessarily want to just recap the week so I'm going to try to think of a theme for the week (or something to that effect).  This week I definitely felt like I had more time to myself because the regular soccer season is over which means I don't go to soccer games a couple of nights a week.  I was curious to see how I would react to having more free time than I had in a long time.  Every day was pretty normal at work this week which, in my field, is always a pleasant surprise.  I am really enjoying getting to know the kids and more staff members at my new school.  Part of the fun of my job is talking to kids one on one and learning about their stories, where they come from and where they hope to go.  I have to say, it's almost more enjoyable and more meaningful now that I've figured out so much about my own life.  I wholeheartedly feel like I am a much better counselor simply because I am so much happier in my own life.  

I've totally been avoiding the gym the last couple of weeks.  To be honest, I get bored and I know I'm going to be stuck inside for most of the winter.  I don't like the cold.  So, since the weather was supposed to be nice the majority of the week, I decided I would take advantage of it as much as I could.  For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis, you know I just did a 5K on Sunday.  I was a little sore in my sides but overall felt good on Monday.  I decided to do a walk jog around a neighborhood I'd never been to.  Nice and flat, just the way I like it :)  I will say, it's kinda fun that I am starting to be able to do more jogging than walking.  So, I enjoyed the sunshine for a little over an hour and the fresh air felt great.  I did some walking and two more walk/jogs throughout the week.

Through all my downtime in the evening this week, I never got bored.  Or felt sorry for myself.  I just enjoyed the quiet time, watched some TV and relaxed.  No, I did not google more recipes...much as Renee' may think that would be a good use of my time.  I will avoid that at all costs because I get so confused!

Thursday was the first tournament game for my brother's soccer team.  Of course, it was the coolest day of the week.  I realized that I wasn't sure I had a coat to wear!  So, when I got home from work, I tried on my winter coat from last year and, let me be honest, it was fun!! :)  I zipped it up and I really think my 5 year old nephew could have fit inside it with me!  Luckily, I tend to keep things I don't need so I found a winter coat from at least 7 years ago and it fit - in a size I never thought I'd wear again!!  What an amazing feeling!  Oh, and I'd lost another pound for a total of 88.  It doesn't seem even remotely possible that 8 months ago I was over 270 pounds, sad, and so exasperated with life.  I am so proud of myself for all of the changes I've 

I love being in pictures now so I sorta got my nieces to get in one with me:

I was talking to a co-worker one day this week about my weight loss and she said it was hard for her to imagine me as I describe the way I was in January.  She used the word bubbly to describe me.  That just made me smile even more.  No one has ever used my name and the word bubbly in the same sentence!  I love that I am finally allowing the person I always knew I was shine through to those around me.  I enjoy being around people but I can also enjoy my free time.  Such a blessing in ways I can't even begin to put into words.

Piggybacking on an entry from earlier this week - this quote speaks volumes for me the journey I've been on and am continuing to work my way through:

Sometimes you've got to emotionally let go of the things that once meant a lot to you ,so you can move beyond the past and the pains they bring you, and open the next chapter in your life.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Motivation, Accountability and Success

Your body can do anything.  It's your brain you have to convince!

Believe me I've had to convince myself of that on a consistent basis - And I still do!

How do I continue to stay motivated?  Believe me, I have my days where I wish I could just go through the drive through of McDonald's and get some french fries and a milkshake.  I have always been an emotional eater.  But, through the last 9 months, I've learned to find other ways to release stress or help me get rid of a bad mood (which, funny, doesn't occur very often).  Exercise is definitely one of those ways.  I just feel better when I get up and move.  I used to eat chocolate.  A lot of it.  And pizza.  And anything else I could get my hands on.  Hence the scale tipping at 281 pounds in January.  And me being incredible down on myself.  

Part of my motivation, still to this day (and probably for a long time), is having to report stuff to Renee'.  People laugh at me when I say it, but I know if I don't work out, I'll get in trouble.  She won't yell at me (at least I don't think so) but she'll remind me of why I'm doing what I'm doing, how far I've come or, the one that always gets me now, that people are looking to me as an example.  Which, by the way, is still totally crazy to me!  

Holding myself accountable is a big part of this whole process for me.  It would be easy for me (well, not really since I'm not a good liar...) to say I did something when, in reality, I sat on the couch, took a nap and watched TV.  But that wouldn't change my life in any way.  Also, after everything Renee' has done for me, I couldn't do that to her or myself.  It wouldn't do anyone any good for me to lie.  Also, eventually someone would figure it out.  So, I just don't let myself sit down after work or, on the weekends, I get up and do something in the morning so I can enjoy the rest of the day.  It's amazing how much more energy I have once I take a little time for myself.  

The other part about staying motivated and being accountable to myself is the fact that this isn't a diet.  It's a complete and total new way of life.  I know everyone always talks about lifestyle change.  It's the new term in the diet world.  But it is so true.  The way I eat, what I eat, when I eat, etc happens every day.  When free food shows up at work, I just don't eat it.  It may sound good or smell good but I know it isn't worth it in the end.  It took me awhile to get to that point, but I can honestly say that I don't miss stuffing my face with every piece of food that comes my way.  It makes me laugh when I hear people say, you can have a cookie.  Yes, I can absolutely have a cookie.  But, I also know myself well enough that I know, if I eat one cookie, I'll end up eating 12.  No joke.  So, why tempt myself when I don't really need to eat it?  

Also, I have no clothes at home that will allow me to gain weight back.  I got rid of all of them.... I am so enjoying going shopping right now, I don't want that to change.  I am loving my new active lifestyle.  It's given me confidence I didn't know I had inside myself.  I may not be much of an athlete (trust me - I am not very coordinated...) but I just keep going.  Early on in our friendship, Renee' figured out how much I like my routines.  I am a planner.  So, this quote describes me in a way:

Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going. (Jim Ryan)

Working out is a habit for me.  And it's a good habit.  

Lifestyle Change = Results = Continued Motivation.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Accepting, Letting Go and Having Faith

Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.

I saw this last night and it kind of sparked something in me.  I have always (and I mean always) held on to things that happened in the past and dwelled on them.  I never had anything else to focus on so it was easy for me to just sit and always think about all the bad things that had happened.  I struggled to find many positive things in my life.  Yes, I love what I do for a job and seeing kids pursue their dreams is a wonderful feeling. 

However, I really struggled to find anything positive in my personal life.  All around me my friends were getting married, having kids and enjoying life.  My friends and family are awesome but I often felt left out of a lot of things because I was in a different place in my life.  I just didn't have a clue where I was or where I was going.  I didn't feel like I had much to offer friendships and other relationships.  I know that is a huge part of where I found myself in January.  At times, I've been referred to as "rainman" because I have a crazy accurate, detailed memory of most of my life.  My family jokes that if you want to know what happened 20 years ago, just ask Amanda.  I think that memory can be a blessing and a curse.  It's allowed me to write this blog :)  But, it also caused me to think about things that don't even matter anymore.  I just chose to dwell on them because I could.  If I was going to make a better life for myself, I had to figure out how to let go of all of these negative things in my life.

All along, I've said this whole journey has been about so much more than weight loss.  I said back in my first entry, I had no idea how much that January meeting with Renee' would change my life.  During that meeting, although we talked some about weight loss, looking back on it (and trusting my memory), I realize that was actually a very small part of our conversation.  She got me to talk about myself, some of my strengths and weaknesses, my interests, etc.  I think since I was talking about myself, it was a little easier for me to talk to her.  After all, I have a psychology degree.  Leave it to me to analyze everything about myself!  

We also talked about different ways I could meet new people.  Now, I'll be honest, this scared the crap out of me and I knew it was something I wouldn't do right away.  Way too far out of my comfort zone.  But, it was something I was willing to look into and eventually try.  I still remember something Renee' said to me in an email the day after I met her - "Your heart is your best asset".  I've always thought I'm a pretty nice person.  I like to see the best in people (probably why I've been taken advantage of throughout my life) and I always want to help others.  I almost always put myself last.  I didn't realize it at the time, but I think she was trying to get me to figure out ways I could put myself first.  If I don't like myself, how am I going to be any good to anyone else?  

She also knew right away how important my nieces and nephew are to me.  And she helped me see (in time) that if I wanted to be the best aunt I could, I had to be healthy, happy and enjoying life both when I am around them and when I am on my own.  Much as I love my family (and they are a huge part of my life), I have to find other ways to put myself out there.  To anyone who knows me fairly well, you know this is not easy for me.  I really clam up in social situations where I don't know anyone.  As the months have gone on, I've developed more and more self-confidence.  I still don't say much in situations where I don't know anyone but, at least I've made myself go to different places and meet different people.  That's a huge step for me.  Accepting what is for me is knowing that I am okay the way I am.  And that I am a great person with a lot to offer the world.  I don't have to change who I am to make people like me.  I just have to find ways that work for me to meet new people and have great experiences.  

Having faith in what will be has been difficult for me over the years.  For a long time, I haven't felt like I had anything to look forward to.  I mean, here I am, 33, single, no kids, etc.  But, know what?  Being single and not having kids doesn't make me a strange person.  It just makes me who I am and, finally, I am okay with that.  In fact, I am more than okay with it.  I love who I am.  I hope that someday I will meet someone to share my life with but, I have faith that things will happen the way they are supposed to and when they are supposed to occur.  I never had that kind of faith before.  Let me tell you, it feels amazing to finally "get it".  I think I've always had a little faith in the future but, now, I have so much more than I ever thought I could.

I know I still have a long ways to go but when I look back and see how far I've come in the last (almost) 9 months, I feel a sense of pride in myself and am indescribably thankful to Renee' for pulling all of this out of me.  I guess it was always there.  I just needed someone to figure out how to show me it was there and pull it out of me.  I never thought that could happen.  Surprises come when you're least expecting them.  And so do friendships.  I feel so blessed and lucky with my life and all the people in it.  

I'm excited to continue sharing my journey as I keep figuring all of this out :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

My First 5K

Back in March, when I was trying to come up with some active goals, I decided I wanted to try to walk/jog a 5K this fall.  At that time, there wasn't a ton scheduled so I just kept it in the back of mind as something I wanted to do.  Periodically I would look to see what I could find but was still striking out.  Of course, I also wasn't going to do it by myself.  I knew I wouldn't push myself much if I tried to do it by myself.  So, I asked my friend, who is a runner and enjoys doing races, if she would do a 5K with me.  She agreed but we both said we weren't real interested in going downtown.  Someone must have read our minds!  That night, she told me there was going to be a 5K in October at the school we work at and it would benefit the Marching Band.  We decided we would do that one.  This also gave me a little more time to keep working on that whole jogging thing...

So, as the weeks went on, I was making more and more progress with the jogging.  I was able to go a little longer each week and I actually felt like I was going a bit faster too.  Even though I had listed it as a goal, I never thought I would be able to jog as much as I am now.  I mean, I had just started with one minute on, one minute off in mid-June.

The 5K was on Sunday morning.  Since I had been having issues with my stomach enjoying any kind of food over the last few days, I played it safe and didn't eat anything before the race, hoping it wouldn't affect me too much.  Usually I would make sure I had some kind of protein but I didn't want to take any chances.  The race was actually a Color Run, which, if you've never done one, was fun!  I know there are bigger ones out there but this smaller race was a good start for me.  As we talked with people before the race, I learned that the path would be fairly flat.  Wooohooo!!!  I loved hearing that.  We were also talking to another teacher who didn't realize how much weight I had lost and that it was my first race.  When I told her I had lost 87 pounds, she said, that's not just a lot that's a ****ton of weight!  Made me laugh and smile!!

So, when the race started , we just kind of took off.  Didn't realize right away we had left our co-workers behind us!  I didn't know I could move that fast!  My friend said she would keep talking to me but didn't expect me to respond.  She knows I really struggle with my breathing so that was a god thing for me!  She kept me entertained and I couldn't believe it when we made it to the water station and I found out that we were about halfway already.  We took a sip of water and kept going.  I think I made it another 1/2 mile or so before I needed to walk some.  While we were walking, I checked my time and couldn't believe it had only been 26 minutes!  At that point, I knew we could make it in under 40 minutes, which was my goal.  I think we walked for about 5 minutes and then started back up again.  The only other time we walked was up a hill and then we ran for the finish line!

What a great feeling, crossing the finish line!  And, they announced my time as 34:59!!  Never in a million years did I think I could do anything that fast, let alone complete a 3.1 mile race!  So fun!

My friends and co-workers are THE BEST!!

Now I have to keep working towards that 10K I signed up for in a couple of weeks.  I think it will actually be fun :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Adventures in Food, Family Time and Fun Feedback

I'm not sure how much, if any, weight I lost last week due to being sick.  When I stepped on the scale on Thursday I was down another pound, so I'm going with it.  It will be interesting to see what happens this week!  That night was the Light the Night Walk downtown.  I was so looking forward to walking with my Andy, Kristin, the kids and Kristin's family in honor of her nephew.  Her nephew is an amazing, inspirational little boy and I felt this was the least I could do to celebrate his courage with everything he has been through in the last couple of years.

So, I met my brother at my parents house so I could follow him.  Along with being somewhat inept in the kitchen, I am not the best at driving downtown - too many weird streets and one way stuff.  My nephew decided he wanted to ride with me which made me happy.  The fact that he wants to ride in my car and spend time with me makes me feel so special and loved.  My niece kept saying "mimi's car" but, since she's still in a car seat, she couldn't go with me.  I can feel how much they love me and it feels amazing!!

The walk is quite a celebration.  I rarely see Kristin's family so, when I did, their reaction to how much I've changed was so fun.  They told me how great I look and asked me how I feel.  I just kept saying, I feel amazing.  I'm not sure I can explain how great it feels to have people notice all the hard work I've put in to changing my life.  I love how good I feel about myself which, I know, translates to others in so many ways.

My family means the world to me and I love how much fun it is to not only be a part of their lives, but an active part!  I never used to want to move off the couch.  Now, I can't wait to go out and do active things.  Awesome!  Throughout the walk, I was chasing my niece and having "races" with her and pushed the (empty) double stroller.  All things I would not have done a year ago.  It's crazy to think back to a year ago and realize how far I've come.

Friday, I was feeling better still after my fun virus but my stomach was not enjoying food.  But, I powered through the best I could and just stayed bland with food.  I was looking for something bland I could make for dinner.  Renee' suggested homemade chicken noodle soup.  I thought, 'she's forgotten who she's talking to'.  My friend and co-worker tried to walk me through how to make it and I decided I would give it a shot.  I found what I needed at the store without too much difficulty (I was in shock too) and, later that evening, started my cooking adventure.  I ended up being pretty impressed with myself!  It wasn't that difficult to make and it tasted good!  Plus, it was the first thing that hadn't irritated my stomach in 3 days.  Guess it is possible for me to learn to cook - however slow of a process it might be....

Remember how I said compliments never get old?  Well, at Special Olympics practice on Saturday, several of the parents commented to me on how great I looked and how they almost didn't recognize me.  That kind of stuff just makes me keep smiling.  Positive comments and feedback are another cornerstone of my success.  Without them, it can be easy to lose your drive for a goal.  So, if you are reaching for a goal, share your story, the ups and downs and all pieces because the feedback you receive will keep you going for a long time.

Although the rest of my Saturday was lazy, I was looking forward to my first 5K on Sunday morning with a couple of my friends from school.... Would I be able to run the majority of it??

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Living Life & Healthy Choices

If you remember, I've had some issues with my kitchen floor needing to be replaced.  The day had finally come for the crew to finish ripping out the floor and start putting the new one down.  I did not think this would take 3 days but, let me tell you, patience, kindness and gratitude do pay off.  I now have a brand new kitchen floor to enjoy.  For those of you who may not understand the significance of that, let me tell you, it is awesome!

Given that I had a bunch pf people in my house working on my floor, I decided I'd rather be close by and didn't go to the gym.  Luckily, the weather was gorgeous!!  So, I got changed and did a walk/jog around my neighborhood.  It felt so good to get out and move and breathe in the fresh air.  I'm telling you, being active has become a blessing in my life in so many ways.  It allows me to clear my head, have my "me" time, achieve goals and become a healthier person.  Amazing what giving yourself even 10 minutes a day can do for you as a person for the rest of the day.

So, you might be asking yourself, what does this girl do when faced with a restaurant menu?  Well, I ask myself that question a lot.  But, if you really are focused on eating healthy, it actually isn't quite as difficult as you may think to make healthy choices.  So, this time I was faced with the task of making healthy choices, I was at the Boathouse for a work luncheon.  For anyone not from Cincinnati, this is a place with delicious food!  I decided to order the chicken and, knowing it would be huge, made my co-worker promise to not let me eat it all.  Funny thing... I didn't need her to help me after all.  I ate about 1/3 of it (it was 1/4 of a chicken!!), along with my baked potato (w/just a little butter) and my salad.  Oh, I forgot the best part - when they were taking orders, they asked me what I wanted for dessert - Graeter's ice cream or chocolate marble cheesecake (remember, I LOVE sweets!) - I thought for a minute and, although difficult, told the waitress I didn't want any dessert - I was soooo proud of myself!

What would I do while everyone else ate dessert?  Well, I had planned ahead (a big key to my success).  I had some york peppermint patties with me and asked for some hot water to make my green tea.  It completely satisfied me.  8 months ago I would have eaten the cheesecake - no questions asked!  I don't have to deprive myself.  If I had really wanted the ice cream or the cheesecake, I would have ordered it.  But, I knew I didn't really want it.  I would have just eaten it because it was there and available.

The rest of the day I felt empowered by my choice at lunch.  Nice long walk in the gorgeous weather, dinner at subway on my way to the last regular season soccer game and a night of cheering on my siblings' teams.  I knew it was going to be another great week!

Well, I got to work on Wednesday and felt kinda funny.  Couldn't put my finger on it.  Less than an hour after I got there, my stomach was killing me and I couldn't focus on anything.  I decided I needed to go home and proceeded to fall asleep for about 2 hours.  I also took another nap later.  My reason for telling you this is because my food was definitely off all day.  I'm pretty sure I had a virus and I wasn't hungry at all.  Sometimes, when you're sick, you have to eat what your body needs.  I still made the best choices I could but I knew I needed to eat bland stuff.  Also, it was okay for me to not exercise that day.  My body was obviously trying to tell me something.  Luckily, it was a fairly short lived virus.  I was able to go back to work the next day.

Hard to believe but I've almost made it to the present day.  It's so fun and good for me (in so many ways) to share my story and journey with others.  It helps me stay accountable and also allows me to remember and reflect on all the amazing things that have happened since January.  I've accomplished weight loss goals (and I'm still going), met new people, become more social, found a new job, become a happier and healthier person and so many more things that I can't begin to list everything.  Thank you to everyone who has read through my entire story.  I'm excited to keep sharing all of my positive steps and accomplishments with everyone who is interested enough to keep reading :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Happiness - And Enjoying Down Time

Oh Fridays - For most people, it is the best day of the week.  The end of another week of work and the beginning of two days of freedom and, for most, fun plans with family and friends.  Much as I used to prefer being closed up in my house, I also used to not look forward to weekends very much.  Mostly because, unless I was babysitting my niece and nephew or hanging out with my family in some way, I would be cooped up in my house and probably wouldn't talk to anyone most of the weekend unless I ran some errands.  Kinda depressing, huh?  Big part of where I found myself in January 2013.  Not anyone's fault, it was just where I found myself. 

So, the first weekend in October and, for the first time in over a month, I didn't have anything to do.  I was actually looking forward to it!  I slept in, enjoyed a nice long walk on Saturday morning, watched my nephew play soccer and, my favorite part, I went shopping.  Under strict instruction, I gave away all of my warm clothes last spring when I was getting my spring/summer clothes out of storage.  So, as it started getting colder, I realized I didn't have anything to wear that was even semi-warm!  So, I went to the mall, visited a couple of stores and came away with some cute shirts, a couple of sweaters and..... two pairs of pants in a size 12!  I know I've said it before when I fit into a size 14, but to fit into a 12.... I don't think I can even describe that moment.  I didn't believe it and I was in the dressing room trying on the pants!  I sent Renee' a message because I was so excited and, when she responded, she told me 10's are waiting for me!  Leave it to her to remind me that I'm far from done on this journey :)  I can always count on her for that!  And it's awesome!

It's hard to describe how much more laid back I am in many situations.  My friend called me that afternoon and said she was near my house and wanted to stop by - I was so excited to see her and her little boy!  The old me would have been worried about how messy my house was and that there were so many things reachable for an 18 month old.  Now, I just sit and watch and laugh as he picks up different things and plays with random stuff he found.  So fun.  It was so good to catch up with Kim.  

In addition to being lazy, I started working on the personal training course.  Can't believe I really just wrote that.  Let's just say there's a lot to how the body functions and some weird names for processes and body parts.... I've got some studying to do!  I will say, I think it was mean of the people writing the course to compare muscle fibers (I think) to fried chicken.  Clearly, I don't eat fried chicken so why tempt me??  :)

So, although I thought my weekend was going to be quiet, it turned out that I kept myself busy, spent time with a good friend, and just relaxed.  Such a change from a year ago.  I don't feel bad for myself when I spend a day sitting on my couch, catching up on the shows I record throughout the week.  I just take advantage of the time to chill and not think about anything.  I love that my mind isn't going a million miles a minute thinking about all the things that are bad about my life.  Know what... there's hardly anything bad about my life these days.  I can't even begin to tell you how incredible that feels!

I love this quote and I think it really describes me in the last 8.5 months:

Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own actions.

I never thought I would understand how true that actually is - in so many ways!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Discovering that Life is Fun

It's the beginning of October and I am still enjoying every second of the new life I have created for myself.  I love my job, the people I work with and all the friends and memories I am making now each and every day. Making all of these changes has benefited more than me.  I think it has made a difference in the lives of the people I am around every day.  I smile all the time (a co-worker told me that recently) and I am just genuinely happy.  I can't remember the last time I was able to say that.  There was always something pulling me down and to not have that occurring on a daily basis is such a blessing in so many ways.

Workouts get a little harder to vary for me every day because I still don't know a lot about fitness.  So, I did the same weight stuff twice that week and then did a decent amount of cardio because I felt up to it.  That doesn't always happen.  Plus it was really humid and gross outside, especially for October so staying at the gym instead of going outside was actually appealing :)

The next day was going to be another busy one and I knew I wouldn't have time to get a workout in after school.  But, I didn't want to get in trouble again... so, I set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier than normal, got up and did 20 minutes of an at home workout.  I felt great when I was done and happy with myself.  I had an extra spring in my step that morning too because I had lost another 2 pounds.  I can't believe the weight just keeps coming off!  I guess doing it the right way, eating the right things, and doing the right kind of exercise really does pay off.  I know the last 50 or so pounds I want to lose are going to be the slowest ones to take off so I am okay with slow and steady.  Plus, I get to focus on all the other amazing things happening in my life and all the goals I want to set and eventually achieve in my life.

With all of the other changes I am making in my life, I decided to try a different / short hairstyle.  I don't feel like I've ever been able to pull something this short off before but I was so excited to give it a try (it's hair, it grows back) and I love the result!

I love how I want to be noticed.  I never used to enjoy that.  I wanted to just blend in and be the nice one in the background.  I also didn't feel like I had a reason to be noticed.  Now, I know I have so much to offer the world and it is such an amazing feeling.  I'm sure a lot of people always know that about themselves but, for me, it's taken awhile for me to figure that out.  Well, okay, years.  But, now that I have, I can't even begin to explain how good I feel.

If you didn't know me prior to January, I'm not sure you can imagine how much I have changed in such a short period of time.  It's crazy.  I take advantage of the time I have to exercise as my "me time".  My "me time" used to include sitting on the couch, watching TV and feeling sorry for myself.  I won't lie, I still sit on the couch and watch TV at times but that whole feeling sorry for myself thing is completely gone.  I get excited to go out and do things.  If it is with people I don't know very well, it'll still take me awhile to warm up to the situation.  But, the fact that I am going to different places and doing different things is a huge step.  And one I never want to stop making.

I know the good things will just keep happening and I can't wait to see what else is in store for me to discover.

Monday, October 7, 2013

How I Feel About Mondays....And Other Things

The start of another week.  I can't even begin to tell you how much I used to dread Mondays.  I mean, I still don't enjoy getting up early.  I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination (just ask my mother) but now that I actually look forward to each day, it isn't quite as hard to get out of bed.  Remember, 8 months ago, I didn't want to leave the house.  I hated getting dressed in anything other than sweatpants and unless it involved seeing my nephew and nieces, I really wanted nothing to do with it.  So, to experience such a huge 180 in such a short time has been such a crazy feeling.  My whole life has changed in ways I can't even begin to describe.  My family sees me and, obviously they know where I started, they are ecstatic about the changes I have made.  Their love and support throughout all of this is one of the main reasons I've kept going.

She tells me to stop thanking her but I can say, without a doubt, I would not be where I am without Renee's support and friendship.  First of all, I would probably still be eating lean cuisine meals and not know what a garlic clove is.  Well, I still don't know what to do with it, but at least I know what it is!  I know there are countless other things I would still be a complete moron about if it weren't for her help.  But the biggest difference is our friendship and how many positive things she's helped me find in my life.

So, that Monday, I had to call the claims guy about the new leak.  I met him at my house midday and he started by telling me that I have the patience of a saint.  Deep down, I was definitely frustrated with all of this but, because everything else in my life is going so well, I just kept trying to not let it get me down.  After an hour of trying to figure out where the leak was coming from (and cutting a big hole in my basement ceiling), my patience paid off.  He figured out where it was coming from and said it was indirectly related to the first leak and would be fixed for free!! Guess being nice to people has some benefits.

My days were pretty normal at work and that Tuesday I went to another soccer game in the evening.  There were a couple of people there I hadn't seen in a long time and one of them said 'I used to know someone who looked just like you...'  and then congratulated me on all my changes.  What an amazing feeling.  Made me smile big time!

I have been wanting to try to walk/jog a 10K for awhile now but they are hard to find.  So, when I heard about one near where my parents live, I convinced my mom to sign up with me and I am actually looking forward to it.  Hey, I've already walked 13.1 miles.  I can do 6.2, right??

It's so fun to be looking for things to do and trying to keep busy.  I look forward to being active and achieving different milestones.  We're 9 months into the year and I can only be excited about and look forward to the next 3 months and beyond!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Taking Chances, Being Busy and Dealing with Life

Already the last weekend in September.  Where has the year gone?  I'm not sure but this has by far been the best year of my life in so many ways.  It definitely didn't start out that way.  I was so down on myself and my life in general that I couldn't have even imagined being this happy and this alive.

I was so looking forward to the weekend.  After the beer run and spending time with my friends on Friday, I had another busy Saturday ahead of me.  My nephew plays soccer right now and I love being able to watch his games so I drove out to watch him play.  Afterwards, I went to Special Olympics practice where I walked around the pool for an hour timing kids in their races so we will be ready for the meet in November.  I received more compliments from people who hadn't seen me in awhile and I was just excited to be enjoying watching the kids swim in my tank top and shorts.  I never would have been comfortable like that last year.

I knew I needed new gym shoes so I went to the running shoe store and got my feet measured again.  Never knew I could lose weight in my feet!  I went down an entire size in just a few months.  And I bought bright orange shoes!  I'd definitely stand out in a crowd - and, sounds crazy, but I never would have worn shoes like that a few months ago.  I would do anything I could to just blend in to the crowd.  Now, I don't mind standing out, well a little.  I'm not used to being the center of attention at all.  And it definitely makes me uncomfortable, even still.

That evening I was invited to a housewarming party.  I was excited to go but a little nervous at the same time.  The only people I would know are the people having the party.  And, as I've said before, I don't do very well in uncomfortable situations or places where I don't know people.  Just that fact that I went, knowing I wouldn't know anyone, is a huge step for me.  Although I didn't say much throughout the night, I did have a good time.  I had a couple of conversations but, overall, I just kinda stood back and took it all in.  Everyone was so nice and when I did talk, having a conversation with different people was fun.  I got to know my friends better and by the end of the night I felt more comfortable.  Just wish I spoke a little more.  But, with me, it all happens in time.  It takes me awhile to warm up to people but, once I do, I'm usually pretty easy to talk to and fun to be around, I think.  I've gotten a little better at not dwelling on the thought that people might think I am rude.  It's just my nature and I am definitely guarded in a lot of ways.  BUT, I also smile so much more and and am taking more chances in my life than I ever have.

Sunday was going to be a lazy day.  Got a nice walk in and was looking forward to laying around and being lazy.  However, when I went in the basement to start laundry, I heard water coming from my ceiling, looked up and saw a huge crack right underneath my kitchen.  The old me would have cried and probably had the equivalent of a panic attack.  Instead, I called my dad and we talked through the best thing I could do and decided I would call the claims guy from the previous leak because we figured it was related.   I put some buckets under the leak, turned on a fan to dry the water soaked carpet and went about my lazy day.  While definitely frustrated with all of this, I knew I couldn't control it and just had to go with the flow.

Having a different outlook on life is an amazing feeling.  I'm not sure what I can compare it to.  I recently reread my first blog post about how I was letting my weight mask everything else that was wrong with my life.  Now that I had lost a significant amount of weight, my self confidence had grown in ways I couldn't have imagined a year ago.  But it wasn't, and still isn't, just about the weight.  I have new friends, an amazing job working with great people, friends and family members who believe in me and like me for who I am.  I haven't changed as a person (I hope), I just know I'm a better version of myself.  I'm living my life - and that's an unbelievable feeling for someone who, just 8 months ago, didn't want to leave the house.  I can only imagine what's still in store for me to discover.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Taking the Easy Way Out and Trying New Things

After a long day on Wednesday, I knew Thursday was going to be another busy one.  Traveling around in the morning to visit my off-site students, a normal busy day and then a staff meeting after school.  This meant I didn't leave work til after 4.  My brother's team had a game about 30 minutes away from my house and I debated all day about whether I wanted to go.  I ended up going and had fun.  However, that also meant that I had zero time to get any exercise in that day.  That very rarely happens and I felt sorta guilty but I figured one day wouldn't kill me.  After all, I had lost another pound that week, I had forced myself to go for a walk after conferences and I was hardly tempted by bad food anymore.

So, in my email to Renee' that night to update her on my life, I told her that I didn't do anything.  I usually tell her about my workouts so I knew she would be suspicious if I just didn't say anything.  Well, she did exactly what I needed her to do, although I didn't know it.  She told me that, no matter what, I have to find a way to get something active in every day.  Even if it is just 10 minutes.  I knew she was right and I love that she "yelled" at me.  I get comfortable way too easy.  It's how I've gotten myself in trouble before with weight loss.  In some ways, I think it is how I sabotage myself.  Yes, I am definitely guilty of that.  So, to have someone remind me that I can't let all my hard work go to waste, is awesome.  It's what I need from time to time to keep myself on track and stay active.  The other funny part??  Other than kinda nodding my head in shame when I read her response, I didn't get upset.  A year ago if someone had written something like that to me, no matter how good natured it was intended to be, I would have been so upset for the rest of the day.  Guess it really is a new me!

Friday was also an interesting day.  Definitely tired and feeling lazy from the week.  A co-worker's husband brought in donuts but, know what??  They didn't even smell appetizing.  What an amazing feeling!  I went to a counselor luncheon at an Italian restaurant that afternoon.  Me and Italian food can be a dangerous combination.  I LOVE anything with pasta, sauce and cheese.  But, I knew I didn't need to go crazy.  I had a decent amount of salad and stuck mostly with chicken.  The two pasta dishes looked delicious so I took one bite of each one just to satisfy my taste buds.  Funny thing - one bite was enough.  And, for dessert, I stuck with fresh fruit and my york peppermint patties.  I really am a new person!

That evening I was excited to see a couple of my friends from my previous job.  We participated in a Beer Run and had a blast!  I wore a tutu and made a complete fool out of myself and I didn't even care!  A year ago, I never would have done anything like this, nor would I have put on a tutu.

 I have finally found those things called self confidence and self esteem that really make life worth living.  I absolutely have (with a lot of help and support) created a better version of myself.  I am happy, healthy and living my life.  Although there are still so many things I still have to force myself to do, every day I make a little bit of progress and it feels great!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

New Goals, New Me

On Sunday evening I was exhausted but so energized from the fun weekend I had.  Anyone who has read this blog knows that I am pretty much an idiot when it comes to anything related to food.  Fitness, I would classify myself a step above idiot but still not very smart.  Since January I definitely feel as though I've learned a lot and somewhat expanded my knowledge.  That whole food thing is going to take me another 10 years or so but I make a little progress every day :)  So, when Renee' asked me if I was interested in learning more about fitness and nutrition, I admitted that I was intrigued but had no idea if it was something that I should look in to.  She said she would send me some websites to look at and we talked a little about the possibility of me looking into becoming a personal trainer.  It would be something I could do for fun, just a couple of hours on a weekend or something.  Again, I didn't think this was even something I would remotely consider.  I mean, I look nothing like a trainer.  But, as we talked more, it started to make a little more sense.  I mean, I am still overweight but from where I used to be, I am a much healthier version of myself.  Maybe I could work with people who are in the same position I used to be in.  I told her I would read more about it.  Of course, I won't commit to anything without thinking about it.  As Renee' says, me and my safe plans....and she's right!  I am not an impulsive person.  Anything new is extremely scary to me, in lots of ways.  So, I now had more homework - but it was the good kind!

That next week was going to be a busy one.  I knew I had a lot of things to do in the evening, I was supposed to get a new kitchen floor, I had my first observation at work, and just the normal work week stuff.  I still made an effort to get to the gym on Monday afternoon after the chiropractor.  That is such a change from last year.  If I had something to do after school, I would use that as an excuse to not exercise.  The problem is, rest days became more and more frequent until I reached the point I hit in January.   So, now when I have an appointment after school, I run home, change in to gym clothes and take everything I need with me.  That way, I don't have an excuse to go home and get comfortable.  So far, it's worked.

On Tuesday, I was supposed to get a new kitchen floor.  It's a long story that I won't bore you with but, suffice to say, it's free because there were some errors when my new fridge was delivered.  Turns out, my floor was still wet underneath what they were ripping up so they couldn't install my new floor.  The old me would have been so upset, probably cried and just been mad at the world.  Now, knowing I would have plywood in my kitchen for the next 2 weeks, although frustrating, I just went with the flow the best I could.  I knew it would eventually be fixed.  Besides that, it's completely out of my control, so why get upset??

I made an effort to get out for a walk that afternoon before heading out to an evening commitment.  It's amazing how good I feel after getting some fresh air.  Wednesday was a long day with conferences from 330-7.  However, I was determined to still make myself a priority.  I had a plan for lunch and dinner and I managed to get a short walk in when I got home.  Felt great to stretch my legs and just breathe after a long day of work.  I think I've said this before but, don't look at exercise as a chore or something else you have to do - look at it as time for yourself.  Wait a minute, that sounds really familiar.... I'm pretty sure someone has said that to me more times than I can count.... Guess she's right - as usual :)

The week was only half over and there was still so much more to enjoy - it's so fun to be able to say that on a consistent basis!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Scars, Wounds, Healing and Enjoying Life

A weekend in the middle of September... I'd had a super busy day on Saturday but enjoyed every second of it.  I was looking forward to meeting up with Renee' for a walk on Sunday morning.  When she pulled up in the parking lot she said she hardly recognized me because I look so skinny.  I just smiled and said I'm not skinny but thanks :)  She makes me think about things I would never allow to enter my mind on my own.  And I need that.  Having someone challenging me to keep stepping out of my comfort zone has been a key part of the success I've found in rebuilding my life over the last 8 months.  What's been even better?  She keeps pushing me but still lets me do things at my own pace.

It's so funny how we just talk and it doesn't even feel like we're getting exercise at the same time.  We walked for over an hour and eventually sat down and kept talking for awhile.  I told her some more things about scars that I have and she said something that will stick with me forever.  I can't repeat it exactly like she said it (I'm not as good with words) but it was something to the effect of - scars can be painful reminders or beautiful symbols of what we've overcome.  Although I'm still working on it every day, I want my scars to be beautiful symbols of all the hardships I've found my way through.  Without these scars, I wouldn't be who I am today.  And I'm starting to see I'm a pretty great person, scars and all!

The rest of the day was going to be busy.  I am lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of time babysitting my niece and nephew.  I cherish the time I get to spend with them and I love being a part of their lives.  A year ago, my idea of being a part of their lives was to sit around and watch TV and maybe go in the basement and play a game with my nephew.  Now, I love being active with them.  That day I took them to the park, we played on the playground, did some swinging and then walked a little bit on the path.  We even had "races" and I lost each time.  But, they loved every second of it.  A year ago, I would have been exhausted after just 15 minutes.  Now, sometimes I'm the one with more energy!!  We tried to take a "selfie" after our races - didn't turn out the best but I still love them :)

We ended up at Skyline for lunch and the french fries I ordered for the kids didn't even tempt me.  Of course, my niece enjoyed them and her ketchup a little too much... But it made me laugh!!  And yes, she has ketchup in her nose!!

These two (along with my other niece) are a big part of the healing I've been able to do.  They don't have any kind of preconceived notion of who I am or who I used to be.  In fact, I told my nephew how much weight I'd lost (at that point, 83 pounds) and he opens his eyes and mouth real wide and says, that's a lot Mimi.  It's fun for me to have him watch me make my life better.  He remembers when I was "wide" (that's what he used to call me when we would try to go on rides together).  Although he meant nothing by it, let me tell you, it feels amazing that he doesn't tell me I'm wide anymore :)  He's watched me change my life and I know he sees a happier and healthier Aunt Mimi appear in front of his eyes.

My journey is worth it in so many ways but I will say that seeing my differences through his eyes is one of the best rewards I can receive.

I'm so blessed - and it just keeps getting better!