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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Choosing To Be Happy

Smile every chance you get.  Not because life has been easy, perfect or exactly the way you anticipated, but because you choose to be happy and grateful for all the good things you do have and all the problems you know you don't have.

No one has a perfect life.  I don't.  Although I know some people look at my life from the outside and think that it is perfect.  My family is definitely one of those "old-fashioned" families.  My parents have been married for 38 years and are still each other's best friend.  I have an older brother and a younger sister who mean the world to me.  Growing up, we were involved in sports, did things in the community, my parents were involved in and proud supporters of our schools.  I wouldn't be surprised if some people would think we were like the Cleavers and nothing ever went wrong.  

I can honestly say that is not true.  Not in a bad way, just in a normal, everyday life kind of way.  My parents struggled with our growing pains as we went through our teenage years (okay, mostly mine) but, kudos to them, we all graduated from high school and went on to college.  My entire extended family is scattered all over the east coast.  It's hard for me to imagine how difficult that must have been on my parents (and probably still is at times).  They couldn't just drop us off at Grandma's when they needed a break.  They were there for us 24/7.  And they still are.  They are the best examples of what people in our society should be that I could ever conjure up.

So, why would I call this "Choosing to Be Happy"?  Well, because I believe every day we make a choice on what our attitude is going to be which translates into how our day will more than likely go.  For a long time, I chose to be sad.  I chose to focus on all the bad things in my life.  Or, what I thought were bad things.  Looking back now, and in reality, a lot of these so called bad things were really just negative aspects of events that I chose to focus on for one reason or another.  

My life hasn't always been easy and, at 33, I can't say that I am exactly where I thought I would be with my life.  But, I know I am right where I am supposed to be.  It's been a daily struggle for the last 10 months but I can honestly say that every day when I wake up I make a choice to be happy.  I can only imagine how many people suffered right along with me with my depression, sadness and bad attitude.  I was lost.  

A smile can make someone's day.  Every time I walk into a store and someone greets me, I smile and say hello.  I figure that might be the only friendly interaction they've had all day.  I used to work in retail.  I know what it's like.  

When I wake up in the morning, I am the last person that wants to get out of bed.  I love to sleep and my bed is super comfy.  However, by making a choice to be happy, I am willing to get up, get moving and make a positive difference in someone's day.  It's very rare that you'll see me frustrated or mad about something anymore.  That used to happen all the time.  Throughout the soul searching I've done this year, I realized that, not only does that affect me, it affects everyone around me.  The students know if I'm frustrated.  So, I try to not show that side of myself anymore.  I never purposely showed them my frustration.  But, when you aren't happy, that comes through in so many more ways than anyone would ever guess.  

While my life may not be perfect, I have so many good things in my life.  And I know life could be so much worse.  I am so thankful to live in a place where I have freedom, to be in a job that I love surrounded by awesome people and to have the most amazing family and friends I could ever ask for!  

And, to top it off, I'm 94 pounds lighter than I was on January 24th, 2013.  Yes, that 94 pounds is a physical weight loss.  I don't even know what the number would be if I could add up my emotional weight loss.  

It's important to make someone happy, and it's important to start with yourself.  

If you aren't happy, how can you make someone else happy?

Friday, November 29, 2013

I'm Thankful For... Bonus Edition :)

I managed to lose another pound this week so I'm going to follow through and write about one more thing I'm thankful for.  Hope it doesn't get too wordy but I think it's an important thing to understand about me and what led me to the place I have been trying to dig myself out of for the last 10 months.  So, here goes nothing!

94.  For my 94th pound, I am thankful for every person in my life, past, present and future.  I am thankful for every situation I've ever been in, am currently in and will be in anytime in the future.

Why, you ask?  Well, I am a firm believer in "Everything happens for a reason".  

Throughout my life, I've often felt like I didn't matter or didn't measure up to what people thought I should be.  I wish I had an answer for why that was, but I don't.  While my childhood was awesome thanks to my amazing parents, brother and sister, I didn't always have the best experiences in a social aspect.  As I've said before, I've always struggled with my weight which, as some people will understand, translated into low self-esteem and self-confidence.  Therefore, from the beginning, I struggled to make friends and meet new people.  I think, at some point, that becomes a learned behavior.  I mean, as a kid, I ran around the neighborhood and played with my friends, etc.  But, when in situations, such as school, where I might have to talk to people I didn't know real well, I would struggle.  From early on I would get uncomfortable if the teacher called on me in front of the class.  

It was the same type of thing in high school but I was much more aware of how low my self-esteem was.  I didn't really have a group of friends that I hung out with all the time.  Don't get me wrong, I had friends, but it wasn't that "core" group of people that so many people grow up with and stay friends with for a very long time.  I think that fueled some of my issues and I was probably depressed much earlier in my life than I realized.  Of course, I would just try to put on a smile and a happy face and find my way through each day. 

I enjoyed college but, I will say, those 4 years were not the "best years of my life".  From the beginning, my roommate situation was horrible (I won't bore you with the details) and, to be completely honest, I'm not sure I was ready to leave home.  But, I felt it was something I needed to try and my parents supported me in my decision.  Of course, I don't like to go outside of my safety zone so I picked a school that was known for students going home on the weekends and was less than an hour from my parents house.  Guess who went home almost every weekend?  This girl.  I just wasn't ready for most of the social stuff that college brought.  I don't know why.  I think a lot of my lack of self-confidence had followed me from high school to college and I wasn't motivated enough to try to find a place to fit in with a new group of people.  I preferred my comfort zone.  I eventually moved home for the last year of college because I just wasn't happy.  But, know what?  I think, in a weird way, it was the best decision I made up to that point.

Why?  Well, I knew I would need a job if I was only going to school two days a week (classes ALL day), but worth it to only drive to Dayton twice a week.  So, my sister had recently gotten hired at Kohl's and I decided to apply for a job there.  I got hired pretty easily and they were willing to work with my availability and school schedule.  I kinda kept to myself at first (not much of a surprise) but, over the next couple of months, I became friends with some of the other younger people that were working there.  In fact, throughout that first year, we slowly became friends and started going out to BW3's after work and hanging out for hours on end.  Sometimes we would go to  a local bar and sing some karaoke.  I started to come out of my shell and realized there were some really awesome people out there who liked me for me.  I think it was one of the first times I realized that.  That went on for 3 years, as I completed grad school, did an internship while working full time and made some amazing memories.  Within a few months of working there, I was promoted to supervisor which definitely gave me a boost of confidence.  

Finishing grad school in May 2004 (lord, I'm old!!) meant I had to look for a full time job.  I was excited but scared at the same time.  I would have to leave my comfort zone of Kohl's but I would finally get to do what I had been working towards since I graduated high school.  Interviews definitely scared the crap out of me but, given my recent experience in retail, I was able to talk to the people and express my desire for the job in the best way I knew how to.  I didn't get the first two interviews I went on, but I got a third one in mid-June with a different district.  I walked in and immediately felt like, this is a place I could work.  So, when my dad called the next day as I was getting off work to ask me if I had checked my voicemail, I could only think it was probably another rejection.  I literally almost fell to the floor when he said they were offering me a job.  What an unbelievable feeling!!!

My years at RHS were full of ups and downs but definitely more ups.  I learned so much about myself, made some great friends and worked with so many amazing kids.  Those years are a huge part of who I am today.  When I changed jobs this past summer, I just felt like it was the right move.  I needed to challenge myself and, once again, step out of my comfort zone.  While hard, as I stated above, everything happens for a reason and I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity that was given to me at Fairfield and I love how I am continuing to grow and change in so many ways.  

So, you might ask, why on earth would she be thankful for(some of) this?  Well, because it's all a part of who I am.  Not everyone is going to be super bubbly, outgoing and make friends easily.  If I hadn't gone through all of that, my life may be completely different.  I believe that all of this happened to lead me in a direction in life where I can help people on a daily basis.  It may not have made sense at the time, but, in some ways, it does now.  And I guess that's all that really matters.

I love who I am.  Wow, I wouldn't have said that a year ago!  I love being around people and, although I still am not the best at being the center of attention, I'm getting much better!  I'll talk to people, I'll get up in front of groups of people (at times), I speak up in meetings and so many other things I can't even begin to describe.  Change is hard but so worth it.  I'm thankful for everything I've changed this year.  And everything I haven't changed.  I'm still the same person, I just think I'm a better version of myself.  And it's better than any feeling I could ever imagine.

"No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Shedding the Emotional Weight

In an email this week, my aunt used the term "emotional weight" when describing what I've been lucky enough to accomplish this year.  I never thought of it that way.  I mean, I know I've changed so many things about my life.  I feel like a new person in so many ways.  But, emotional weight -  That was a new one and it made me think, in a good way.

You might be thinking to yourself, what does she mean by emotional weight?  Well, for me, I think it's all the negative things I've focused on in my life for so long.  For so many years, I never thought I could measure up to my brother and sister.  Don't get me wrong, no one ever told me I had to "measure up" to them.  But, it was, and always has been, a pressure I put on myself.  So, part of shedding that emotional weight for me was realizing that I am my own person and that everyone in my life loves me for who I am.  I would say that, in the last 5 months or so, my ability to shed that part of the emotional weight has become visible to those around me.  I smile all the time, I enjoy sharing stories about my family but I now feel like I have things to say about myself.  I used to just talk about them all the time because I didn't think anyone wanted to hear about my life.  I didn't feel like I had anything important to share.  Finding that confidence in myself has allowed me to shed a huge part of the emotional weight I've been carrying around for so long.

There's nothing wrong with being an individual.  Every person on the planet is unique in one way or another.  That's what makes life interesting.  My brother, sister and I wouldn't be the great friends we are with our differences (and similarities).  How boring would it be if we were all the same?  Plus, if I was too much like them, no one would ever remember anything (including birthdays and anniversaries....).  Love you guys, but you know it's true!

Another part of shedding the emotional weight is learning how to laugh at myself.  I used to never want to be part of anything that caused attention to be on me for any length of time.  I preferred to sink into the background.  I still don't like crowds much but I am much more willing to put myself out there.  I'll make a fool out of myself (in front of certain people) and not even care.  Hard to believe, but I used to think everyone was staring at me when I was doing something silly.  I was so scared of looking like an idiot.  Now, for the most part, I don't care.  If people look at me, I just laugh.  I was telling a co-worker that this week and she said, what a gift!  It's like a freedom that's been given to you in ways you never could have imagined.  She's so right.  

It's so fun to have so many people cheering for me.  And losing the emotional weight has been almost as crucial as the physical weight loss.  Yes, losing weight makes you skinnier, healthier and feel better.  But, if you don't fix what's broken inside, you'll never be a completely happy, whole person.  I know that from experience.  I finally feel content and like a whole person.  It's an unbelievable feeling.  Now, if I could just figure out how to cook, life would be great!  I think that's ways off...

"With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift.  Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you away from growing.  You get to choose."

I'm finally choosing to seize the opportunity and grow!  I put this together this morning and love it so much, I just have to share it.  The pic on the left is from July 2012.  The pic on the right is from a few weeks ago during our family pictures.

Monday, November 25, 2013

I'm Thankful For...Part 3 :)

Well, I made at least one other person cry so let's see if I can be 3 for 3!  Just kidding.  This has actually been really fun.  And it hasn't been as difficult to come up with 93 things as I thought it would be.  Guess that's what happens when you learn how to stop focusing on all of the negative things and bring out all the positive aspects of your life.  I am so thankful I have been able to do that this year and I look forward to continuing my journey the rest of this year and into the future.

63.  My Schur cousins.  Rach and Dan - Although I was older when you were both born, I couldn't have been more excited to finally have some cousins on my dad's side of the family!  I am so lucky to call both of you family and can't believe how quickly you've grown up and become amazing young adults.  Love you both.

64.  My Grandma's engagement ring.  Makes me feel like she's with me every day.
65.  Nail polish.  My feet would look weird without it in the summer.
66.  Candles.  They smell yummy.
67.  Words with Friends.  Keeps me entertained.
68.  My friend Kim.  Hard to believe, but we've known each other for over 10 years now and I love that she is always there for me.  I was blessed to be able to stand up for her at her wedding and watch her marry the love of her life.  And, she is a wonderful mom to an adorable little boy :)

69.  Tinsel.  Makes my Christmas tree look pretty.
70.  Beverly Hills, 90210 Reruns
71.  Friends Reruns
72.  People who tell me I've inspired them - no matter how bizarre it might be...
73.  My Aunt Kathi.  She's my godmother, she's hysterical and she has always been a voice of reason in my life.  I feel lucky to have her as a role model and a friend.

74.  Warm Showers
75.  That I am able to be such a huge part of my nieces and nephew's lives.
76.  Highlighters
77.  My Kindle
78.  My Aunt Ellen.  She's been through so much in her life and yet she always smiles and makes me feel so special whenever I see her or talk to her.  She's a wonderful blessing in my life.

79.  Books
80.  Canker sore medicine (because I have one right now and it really helps)
81.  Nyquil
82.  Antibiotics - I get sick so easily, I feel like I live on these things- but they work!
83.  My Aunt Jacquie.  Probably one of the strongest and most amazing people I know.  Since we didn't live close to my grandparents, we could always count on her to take care of grandma and grandpa and make sure they were okay.  She is one of the biggest blessings my family ever received.

84.  Snow Days
85.  Two Hour Delays
86.  The Ellen Show
87.  Capri workout pants - because I've never been overly fond of shorts.
88.  My friends Erica and Whitney.  Although I don't see them much anymore because of the job change, they have been a big part of my life since I started my career.  They each have amazing families, adorable kids, supportive husbands and are two of the best teachers I know.  Ross is lucky to have both of you!

89.  Text Messages
90.  Email
91.  Flip Flops
92.  10 lb dumbbells because I have no upper body strength :)
93.  Last, but not least, I'm thankful for Renee'.  She'll probably make me do a bunch of push-ups for this but, I'll survive.  I think.  I didn't think someone so genuine and nice existed in this world.  She's done more for me than I ever thought possible.   Or that I thought anyone would want to do for me.   I know she'll say it's all me but, don't let her fool you.  She has pushed me out of my comfort zone in ways no one else could.  She encourages me to try new things and meet new people. We've become friends.  If you've read most of this blog, you know it's not easy for me to meet new people and make new friends.  I know she could probably write a book of "Stupid Questions from Amanda" but I also know she laughs at me and with me.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  I wouldn't have changed my life in the ways I have (and continue to) without her help and friendship.  Thank you doesn't seem like enough.  But, I'll go with it.  For now.

I don't have a picture of me and her so I'll just put my quote here :)

Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.

And - because I can't resist sharing this one:

Make a pact with yourself today to not be defined by your past.  Sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your hard work isn't what you get for it, but what you become for it.

Thanks for reading - I'll continue with my story soon!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I'm Thankful For...Part 2 :)

I can't believe so many people read my first entry on what I'm thankful for!  I appreciate everyone taking the time to read my entries :)  I'm going to give another 31 things my best shot!  I've already made my mother cry so, mission accomplished!  But I have 62 more things I have to come up with so here goes nothing...

32.  My nephew, Cooper.  When he came in to this world almost 6 years ago (not possible), he redefined the word love for me.  Since the day he was born he has been my "favorite little guy".  He makes me laugh hysterically and is smarter than a whip!  I have so loved watching him grow up so far and look forward to many more years of being Aunt Mimi and sharing countless special moments with him.

33.  High School soccer - especially Mason.  I love watching them play the game and love that all of the players and their families have embraced my family in so many ways.
34.  My Ipod - I couldn't get through my workouts without it.
35.  My smart phone - how did I ever live without this thing?
36.  Pillows - I couldn't sleep without them
37.  My niece, Chloe.  She is such a character, makes me laugh all the time and is so fun to be around.  It's amazing to see how much she's changed in the 2 years since she came into this world.  I can't wait to continue to be "MIMI" to this beautiful little girl.  I know we are going to have some fun (maybe mischievous) times ahead of us - That's what aunts are for, right?

38.  Peanut Butter
39.  My treadmill
40.  AirWick scented oil - Makes my house smell yummy
41.  Shopping trips and movie dates with my mama - Even at 33 I love having "mommy and me" time.
42.  My niece, Emma.  It is so amazingly fun to see my sister as a mom.  And, although Emma looks A LOT like her daddy, I see so much of my sister in her.  In the 20 months she has been in this world, her personality has grown by leaps and bounds and she makes me laugh just as much as the other two.  She has a lot of her mommy in her and is one of the two sweetest little girls I know.  I look forward to many days spent enjoying her childhood and being a fun aunt mimi!

43.  Post-its.  My desk wouldn't be the same without them.
44.  Pictures.  Anyone who knows me doesn't need to ask about this one.
45.  My camera / phone with a camera - See above
46.  Remote controls - I actually remember getting up to change the channel when I was a kid.  I much prefer the remote control.
47.  My Mulvey cousins.  Although we don't see each other much and we didn't grow up together, you are all a part of who I am and I love that we are now able to stay in touch through social media :).  I'm pretty sure this is the only picture that exists of all 11 of us and I treasure it.
48.  Facebook - How did I ever live without it??
49.  Christmas trees - they make me smile
50.  Grilled Chicken Salad - I'd rarely eat out without this lovely food.
51.  That I've only had to put sushi in my mouth one time, that Renee' and I go back and forth joking about me eating it again and the fact that I will never put it back in my mouth - at least I don't think I will... :)
52.  My Aunt Moe.  We've had more amazing conversations than I could ever count.  She can always make me laugh and she's been with me when I've cried about random stuff that doesn't even make sense.  She even cries with me.  I can't imagine my life without her.
53.  Hair dye - I'd look older than I am with my gray hair!
54.  Eyebrow waxing - Yes, I have to do that and I'm not ashamed of it.
55.  Music - there's something soothing about it that is hard to explain
56.  The ocean - it's the most peaceful place and I can't go a year without making my way to the beach in some way.  
57.  My co-worker, Kira.  She convinced me to apply for the job at Fairfield and has since become a wonderful friend.  I wouldn't be in a job I love without her.  And, as an added bonus, have an amazing friend who will talk to me all the way through my first 5K!!
58.  Lazy Sunday mornings
59.  Workout DVDs
60.  People Magazine
61.  Starbuck's gift cards
62.  My grandparents.  I am so blessed that I was able to know and spend so many years with all four of them.  I couldn't have asked for better role models and people to spoil me.  I miss all of them more than words can say but am so lucky to have had them in my life for as long as I did.  I know I have 4 amazing angels watching over me.

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.

Stay tuned for part 3 :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm Thankful For....Part I

So, a lot of my friends on Facebook are doing the thing where they list something they are thankful for each day.  I love the concept.  And I enjoy reading what they are thankful for.  I feel like I learn about people I may not know much about.  Instead of writing something every day this month that I am thankful for, I'm going to put a different twist on the concept.  Since the end of January, I have lost 93 pounds.  So, I am going to list 93 things I am thankful for.  I believe there will be multiple editions of this blog entry as I'm not confident in my ability to think of 93 things in one night.  And, as a bit of a challenge/reward to myself, if I lose any more weight this week, I will do a separate entry and add to the list based on the number of pounds I lose.  I'm going to try to be a little creative.  By the way, this is in no particular order! Enjoy :)

1.  I'm thankful for this woman, my mama.  She gave birth to me, raised me and has been there for me through all the ups and downs in my life.  I love you mom, more than you'll ever know.

2.  Blankets - they keep my feet warm when I'm laying on the couch since I'm too lazy to put on socks.
3.  My couch.  We've spent many hours together and I thoroughly enjoy the naps I take while laying on it :)
4.  My DVR - I wouldn't watch TV without it.
5.  Pedicures - For so many reasons
6.  My daddy.  We've had our ups and downs and we don't always agree on everything but I couldn't ask for a better man to call my dad.  He is always there for me, helps fix things at my house so I don't have to pay someone and offers more sound advice than I could ever ask for (and sometimes don't want to hear no matter how right he may be - and usually is).
7.  Summer vacations as a kid to Lake Hartwell, Georgia and Churchville, New York.  Without them, I wouldn't be the person I am or have so many amazing memories of the time I was blessed to spend with my grandparents.
8.  The many memories of driving in "the van" for those vacations.  Andy, Ang and I created countless memories with the captain's chairs turned backwards while watching TV shows on our black and white tv.  Pioneers of having TV in the car thanks to Papa Schur!
9.  My experiences, the good and the bad, in high school.  I wouldn't be the person I am without them.  And I think they help me do my job and relate to high school students better than I ever thought I could.
10.  Trains.  This is also part of Churchville, New York.  For hours my grandpa would sit at the train tracks with us when we were visiting waiting for the trains to go by.  I always knew he was special but I don't think I realized how important that time was to him as well as to me, Andy and Ang.  I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world and, to this day, and probably forever, I always blow a kiss to the sky when I hear a train or go over railroad tracks.
11.  This girl.  BEST. SISTER. EVER.  She may be younger than me, but she is mature beyond her years.  She makes me laugh constantly (just ask about the latest "Angie-isms") and is one of my biggest fans in my life.  The many nights we spent "talking" after we were supposed to be in bed, barbie dolls, my little pony, the list is endless.  I couldn't be more thankful for you Ang.
12.  Microwaveable sweet potatoes.  Well, I think.  I haven't tried to cook one yet so I'm not sure if I can screw something that simple up ;)
13.  My ability to laugh at myself as I try to figure out this thing people call cooking.
14.  To Renee' for drawing me pictures of bowls and pans and trying to explain to me what different ingredients are....she's still trying and hasn't given up on me - and she laughs at me and with me - that's a true friend!
15.  The 9 years I spent at RHS.  I created some wonderful friendships and learned so much about myself.  I had my ups and downs but I wouldn't trade those 9 years for anything.
16.  My big brother.  He is seriously the most amazing, inspiring, wonderful guy I could ever ask to have in my life and my family.  Everyone should have a big brother - there's nothing like it!
17.  Razors that don't require shave gel - much less messy.
18.  Dark chocolate
19.  My heated mattress pad (in the winter)
20.  Fleece pajamas
21.  My sister-in-law.  I couldn't ask for someone better to call my "older" sister.  We're only 10 days apart in age and I love that we are friends and she's a member of my family.  Other than the kids, the best decision my brother ever made!
22.  Google
23.  Random facts of the day from Google.
24.  The opportunity I have been given at Fairfield to do a job I love and the amazingly fun and awesome people I get to work with every day.  
25.  Jeans week at work
26.  My brother-in-law.  We have a lot in common, as we are both high school counselors.  I'm lucky that I can bounce things off of him in a professional way but I'm also so blessed that he is just like my brother.  He listens, offers great advice and, the best part, makes my sister the happiest I have ever seen her.  
27.  The ability to pre-bake chicken so I don't have to cook every night.
28.  Subway
29.  The ability to laugh at my ignorance with food and my inability to cook.
30.  Sunshine - even in the winter
31.  My cousin.  Although we don't see each other much (we live 9 hours away from each other) and we didn't grow up together, she is just like a sister to me one of my best friends.  She "gets me" and always has.  We are definitely cut from the same cloth and have so much in common.  We could talk for hours and not run out of things to say.  So funny to think that 20 years ago we were pen pals.  Guess that makes me old.  Oh well.  LYLASCYMFC Mere :)  So thankful you are in my life.

If you enjoyed this one - Stay Tuned for Part II :)

Be thankful for every person in your life, past, present and future because they will make you stronger, kinder, wiser and they are the people that make you who you are today.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Update on My Story

Forget all the reasons it won't work and believe the one reason that it will.  

Although I didn't know it at the time, when I first met Renee' and started this adventure, there was one reason this was going to work.  Someone believed in me and my ability to achieve goals.  Find the one reason you need and you will find what you are looking for.  I promise.

It's been a couple of weeks since I talked about my life.  I guess that's probably because there isn't a lot going on.  However, I'm okay with that.  I have managed to lose a couple more pounds in the last 2 weeks.  I'm hoping for more tomorrow but, even if I don't lose any weight, I'll be happy with the fact that I am still continuing on this healthy lifestyle.

Over the weekend, I watched my niece and nephew overnight.  It was a blast and having the energy I need to keep up with them is the best feeling in the world.  I also took them out to dinner and still ordered healthy food instead of going for something greasy and fried.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that is the way I live my life now.  Why would I want to go backwards?

Yesterday there were a bunch of squats and stuff at boot camp.  I felt fine when we got done.  However, getting out of bed this morning was another story.  I look like an old person trying to get out of my car and walk!  I haven't been sore like that in a long time but I know it's the "good soreness".  I'm going back tomorrow, we'll see what happens...

Luckily, it was still nice outside today so I was able to get outside for awhile.  I don't mind the gym, I just get bored so I'm trying to not go until it's too cold for me to be outside because I know there's going to be a few months where I'm stuck inside.   It's amazing to me how much less I worry about being cold.  I just love getting the fresh air.  Plus, my inhaler has been a godsend too.  

I swear, food is the hardest part of this whole adventure.  I think it will be for a long time.  I went to a luncheon today for school and, as soon as I walked in, there was a piece of cheesecake sitting in front of me.  If you've been following my story, you know I have a huge sweet tooth.  I pushed it out of my reach and just tried to ignore it.  Once I ate the lunch, it actually wasn't as tempting.  I managed to get some tea and eat the yorks I had brought with me.  And I was completely satisfied.  As time goes on, it definitely does get easier to resist certain temptations.  I also learned what cauliflower is but my ignorance with food is a whole other story!

I used to stress eat ALL the time.  I know that's one of the major factors that got me to 281 pounds.  I also used to shop all the time.  Somehow, it felt like therapy for me.  I thought having a bunch clothes would make me happier.  It worked for about 5 minutes but was never a permanent fix for how I felt.  (By the way, I love using the past tense of that word....felt).  Someone asked me today, what do you do now instead of eating or shopping?  I had to think about it but, honestly, I exercise.  Even if it is just a short walk, I try to get my body moving.  Now, I am not afraid to pick up the phone and call or text someone if I'm feeling lonely or something.  I know I have so many wonderful people in my life that would drop everything to be there for me.  A year ago, I would have curled up on the couch and fallen asleep while feeling sorry for myself.  

If you are contemplating a lifestyle change, here are some tips I can offer to you:

1.  If you are an emotional eater (like me), try to figure out what triggers make you eat.  If you can't avoid the triggers, find a different way to deal with the feelings.  Or, make a goal on the number of times you'll give in to the emotional eating.  

2.  If you have a way of coping that may not be the healthiest option (like my shopping sprees), find a healthier way to expend that energy or channel whatever feeling you are having.  Exercise has really become that for me.  It gives off endorphins, I'm making my body and mind healthier and I'm getting into better shape all at the same time.

3.  Exercise - just walk for 10 minutes a day.  Pretty soon that will turn into 15, 20, 25 and eventually 30 minutes.  You'll be amazed at how great the fresh air feels and what a world of good it does for your soul.  Just the other day, I bundled up, went for a walk and felt completely refreshed after being on a bus for 5 hours and touring a college campus with 31 teenagers.  Yes, it was cold but the cold air was almost therapeutic.  Weird, I know.  

4.  Food - Don't deprive yourself.  I've (slowly) figured out that I can eat a cookie if I want to.  I just can't eat 12.  I also know there are certain things I just can't keep in my house.  Certain foods are triggers for me.  I think I always knew that, I just chose to ignore it and keep eating.  I don't use food to comfort me anymore.  

And, finally, I found this quote tonight and it completely describes me throughout this whole process (although I've never really taken myself seriously...):

I was taking myself very seriously when I was going through life changes.  And I realized that I needed to laugh at myself, particularly at my mistakes.

Don't take yourself too seriously.  I don't anymore and some of the best laughs I have are at my own expense.  If you can't laugh at yourself, who will?

I have fun in life in ways I never thought possible.  Here's a picture to prove it - 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

DIfferences - For Me and Others

I was talking to a co-worker today and I had a thought for something to write about.  So, I'm going to give it my best shot.

What kind of differences do I notice in myself?  Besides the weight loss, probably my fitness level.  I think back to where I was in the middle of May and what I was able to do and it truly amazes me that, since then, I've given myself the ability to do so much more.  Boot camp with Renee' is very different for me now.   Don't get me wrong, I am nowhere near where the other people are but just the fact that I am able to lift weights when I do some exercises is a huge difference.  There are still modifications for me and I think there will be for a long time but that's okay.  Another difference...I almost understand what Renee' is saying when she describes an exercise to me.  I still get a confused look on my face but I can figure it out a little quicker ;)

I also notice my confidence level.  As I become more confident in myself, I more willing to do things on my own.  I still don't talk much in new situations but at least I go.  I think that whole talking thing is just a personality trait that I can't get rid of.  Well, it's probably more of a safety net for me.  I mean, if I don't say anything, I don't have to worry about someone not liking me, right?  On the flip side, if I don't talk, I might miss out on getting to know someone really awesome.  So, I'm working on that whole talking thing.  But, just going to different places is a huge difference for me and probably one of my biggest achievements.  I know Renee' has other ideas but I've been able to avoid them.... for now :)  

In addition to my confidence level, I am so much happier.  I think those two things go hand in hand.  I believe in myself and, therefore, I walk around with a smile on my face and try to make other people smile.  I love that part of life :)

I think about the people I've just met in the last few months and how it's hard for them to imagine me the way I was at the beginning of the year.  Because I've been along for the whole ride (obviously), sometimes I don't notice all the changes I've made and differences in myself.  In fact, it's still hard for me to take compliments from people because I still have this distorted image of myself.  I think, in some ways, I always will.  You are your own worst critic.  I know I am.  Of course I am thinner than I was 9 months ago but when someone calls me skinny, I just shake my head and say "I'm not skinny, but thank you".  When I look in the mirror I see how different I look but I don't think I will ever refer to myself as skinny.  In fact, I'm not sure I want to.  I would love to be able to describe myself as toned. 

 In addition, I try my best to not judge other people because I completely know what it feels like to think people are staring at you or judging you because of your weight or the way you look.  Who am I to judge?  I don't know your personal circumstances.  I think that was one of the hardest things for me to wrap my brain around in the past and even as a I started this adventure.  I know I was self conscious about going to the gym at first.  And every time Renee' gave me a new exercise to try I was worried about looking like an idiot.  Slowly, I discovered that no one was really watching me and, even if they were, who cares what I look like??  Unfortunately, people can be mean, and if they don't know your story, it makes being yourself and believing in yourself that much worse.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, through my life experiences, I've learned to not judge a book by its cover.  It's amazing what it's inside of someone if you just take the time to find out what's there.

Being myself is an wonderful gift and I cherish it every day!

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, November 18, 2013

Setting Goals, Being Proud & Celebrating

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

Goals have been a huge part of this process for me.  Without them, I wouldn't have anything to work towards.  I never realized how important they would be to me.  

Ever since people started noticing that I was losing weight (the most visible aspect of all the changes I've made), I've been asked if I have an ultimate goal for weight loss.  The answer to that, at the moment, is no.  I don't know what a healthy weight is for me or where I will feel the most comfortable.  So, small goals have worked really well for me.  When I started this back in January, I didn't even tell anyone what my first goal was until I was 6 pounds shy of it.  I remember the day (rainman memory).  It was a Thursday in mid-February and I texted Renee' to tell her I had lost 3 more pounds that week.  She asked what the total was and I told her 14 and that I wanted to lose 20 by my birthday (March 27th) and that I was actually feeling like I would achieve it.  Realizing that was an amazing feeling and gave me another boost of confidence.  

There were also other things that I wanted to do, I just didn't know it.  Well, and they were all out of my comfort zone so they took some pushing.  It probably sounds kinda crazy but having to report back to someone about my progress on goals I've set throughout this process has been a crucial part of my success.  Not to mention the encouragement and support I've felt from numerous people since Day 1.  I've said it before, my struggles with weight were a catalyst for everything that has changed over the last 9 months.  

I think my sister-in-law said it best one day when we were having a conversation about all of this (she really is one of my best friends).  She said, there's a reason you've struggled with your weight, with feeling down, with meeting new people, with so many things.  It's so you would get to this point in your life, meet the person (people) you were supposed to meet and find your way to the life you're meant to have.  Pretty insightful, if you ask me :)  She's a pretty smart and awesome person!

If you are looking to make some changes in your life, set goals but make sure they are things you will be able to achieve.  I know if, back in January, I had said I wanted to lose 100 pounds by Christmas, it would have felt forever far away and I wouldn't have had anything to celebrate.  My confidence probably would have gone down because I wouldn't have had any achievements to celebrate.  I've learned to enjoy every success I have, whether big or small because every achievement deserves a celebration.  Now, I am actually closing in on losing 100 pounds and it feels amazing!  I may or may not get there by Christmas (my goal) but I know I will get there eventually!

When I accomplish a goal, I feel an amazing sense of achievement.  And I feel proud of myself.  That's a feeling I didn't know existed.  Just today, I had more little things happen that made me smile.  I was on a field trip to UK and we took a tour of most of the campus and had to walk up 4 flights of stairs to see the sample dorm room.  A year ago, I would have been dying.  The walking alone would have been enough but 4 flights of stairs???  No thank you.  Today, I felt energized, I enjoyed every minute of it and, amazingly, I wasn't even out of breath after climbing up the stairs.  Sometimes, I notice and celebrate the little things even more than the big accomplishments.

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Questions I Get Asked...And More :)

I get asked questions all the time about everything I've changed or am doing in my life.  I love when people ask me questions.  It makes me feel like people notice me and my hard work.  I love being able to help people (if they want it) or just satisfy their curiosity. So, I'm going to try to answer some of the questions I get asked most often.  If you have something you'd like to ask me, feel free at any time to ask :)

1.  How have you lost that much weight in 9 (or any number) months?  
      To be completely honest, I have no idea.  The human body has a mind of its own.  But, I will say that, although difficult, I committed to this 100% from the beginning.  I knew from past experience that if I didn't, I would do okay for a couple of weeks but I would sink right back into what was comfortable.  My body has definitely been shocked in more ways than one.  With Renee's help, I've done my best to not let my body get used to what I'm doing.

2.  Do you eat?
     Yes, of course I eat.  If I didn't, the weight loss would have stopped a long time ago.  Or I would look like a ghost.  Actually, I probably eat more often than I ever did before.  I've learned that what you read in all those fitness and nutrition magazines is completely true - you should eat every 2 to 3 hours.  I now do and I have since the end of January.  My "meals" are much smaller because I'm not starving when I eat.  

3.  Do you feel healthier?
    ABSOLUTELY!!  Just the other day, I was so excited to have pizza for lunch.  It's probably been over a month since I've had a piece of pizza and, for someone who used to eat it a few times a week, that's saying a lot.  While it was absolutely delicious, I couldn't believe how full I felt the rest of the day.  I was also incredibly thirsty.  My body has definitely grown accustomed to having healthier food to operate with.  I felt kinda sluggish the rest of the day (but I would still eat pizza again:).  

4.  Do you have more energy?
     110% YES.  While there are still days I would love to go home and take a nap after work, by going to the gym, I find that I am more energetic for the rest of the day.  I also sleep soundly through the night.  Well, I've always slept like a rock, but I definitely feel much more rested in the morning.  When I am chasing my nieces and nephew around, I don't get tired anywhere near as easily.  I want to be up and moving around.  I don't mind going up the stairs now.

5.  What do you eat?
     I eat a lot of lean protein.  But, I also eat a decent amount of carbs and fats.  The difference is the type of carbs and fats I eat.  I also eat different protein.  It is mostly lean protein.  I eat a lot of turkey, chicken and, at times, a little fish (when I can get it down...).  There are some fats that are actually healthy for you.  They are in peanut butter and avocados, just to name a couple.  While my entire diet cannot be carbs (like a majority of it used to), it is important to eat carbs.  They give you energy and serve important functions in the body - or so I've been told (and I believe it).  I still eat pasta from time to time, it's just whole wheat.  All of the bread products I eat are whole wheat.  I make a smoothie a few times a week using protein powder.  It's an easy way to get a good amount of your protein in and there are a lot of ways to make them yummy!  I am also really conscious of the amount of sodium I eat.  Sodium causes you to hold water weight and has other health risks.  I still eat sodium, I just check labels to see what my best options are.

6.  Do you eat out?
     I'll be honest, I struggled with this at first.  Actually I still do.  But, yes, I do.  Oftentimes, I research the menu online before I go so I can make a good choice.  Most restaurants have at least some of their nutrition information online so that usually helps me.  I also look for grilled items.  Usually means it is a healthier choice.  I almost always order a salad to eat before my meal arrives.  Makes me not as hungry when my meal arrives.

7.  How do you not eat all the good, sweet, sugary stuff?
     This was and still is one of the hardest things for me.  I have a huge sweet tooth.  But, as I've gone through the months, it's gotten easier.  I also allow myself to have a little bit of something if I really want it.  That's usually at a birthday party or social gathering of some kind.  At work, I just stay away from all of it.  But, I also know that I'll get in trouble if I eat it.  Well, not in trouble but Renee' might hurt me (in a loving way, of course!).  While I still tell her what I eat every day (it helps me stay accountable to myself), I find myself getting a little better each day at walking away.  To satisfy my sweet tooth, I eat some york peppermint patties with lunch and dark chocolate with dinner every day.  Funny thing is, it actually works!

8.  How often do you exercise?
     Almost every day.  Very rarely, I might miss a day.  Unless I'm sick there has to be a pretty good reason for me to not do at least 10 or 15 minutes of something.  I missed one day in September and Renee' kicked me in my butt, which I needed.  Except for a couple of days when I was sick, I haven't missed a day since.  Well, I did miss last Friday but I had a free pass because of the state championship game :)  The trick is, I usually don't do the same thing two days in a row.  Some days I go for walks, others I do a walk/jog, some days I go to the gym and get on the elliptical or the treadmill and then lift some weights.   I try to change it up so I don't get bored.  If I get bored, I know it will get more and more difficult to keep going.  Google has become my best friend :)  I've also taken my time integrating things into my workout.  I still don't jump and I try to take it easy on my knees by only running/jogging 2-3 days a week.  

9.  I can't see you as being quiet - have you really changed that much?
     This definitely comes more from people I've met recently.  But, the answer is, yes!  My self-confidence and self-esteem have grown by leaps and bounds which has allowed my personality (that I always knew was inside me) is finally shining through.  I am 100x a better version of myself and I have Renee' (and a couple of other people) to thank for that.  

I think most of the time you see people lose the amount of weight I have, you don't know the person real well or they might be on a TV show.  I've always loved the Biggest Loser.  It's a great motivator to get healthy.  But, I firmly believe there is something to be said for being able to do all of this at home while working and being involved with my family and friends.  Yes, it takes longer, but having the support of my family and friends has made all the difference in the world.  I couldn't have gotten this far without them.  

"My friends and family are my support system.  They tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear and they are there for me in the good and bad times.  Without them, I have no idea where I would be and I know that their love for me is what's keeping my head above the water" ~ Kelly Clarkson

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Can't Think of a Title...but here ya go!

Challenge yourself with something you know you could never do, and what you'll find is you can overcome anything.

If I'm being honest - which is what I'm trying to do in this blog - if someone had asked me a year ago what I wanted out of life, I don't think I would have had an answer.  Or my response would have been something to the effect of, figure out why I get the crappy end of everything that happens in the world.  Yep, that was my mindset a year ago.  It's hard for me to admit that, write about it and, amazingly enough, remember how it felt.  I'd get home from work, lay on the couch, watch TV and usually fall asleep.  I just didn't feel like I had anything to be happy about.

So, if you had asked me to challenge myself a year ago, I would have told you anything that required leaving my house would be a challenge for me.  Believe me, I am the first one to shake my head in disbelief at the fact that I have lost 92 pounds in the last 9 months.  In addition, I have started to face some of my biggest fears and forced myself to be in more social situations than I ever thought possible.  I would definitely consider that to be a huge challenge for me and something I never thought I could do.  It took a lot of pushing and encouraging from a couple of really awesome people.  But, the above quote is true when it says you'll find you can overcome anything.  As I started to put myself out there, these situations got less and less scary.  I developed confidence I didn't know I had.  What a fun feeling.  I'm still working on it but, when you overcome something, it really does make you feel like a new person.

We all like being in our comfort zones.  I think I may be an exception to that rule - I love mine.  I don't like to be in any situation where I don't know someone.  Even when I know someone, there are lots of times I still won't say more than 10 words.  An example, I've been going to this boot camp with Renee' for awhile and it's still rare if she gets me to say more than 10 or 15 words unless I'm talking to her or my sister.  But, know what?  Me joining the group, if you remember from a previous entry, is something I never thought I would do.  

I feel like this quote summarizes my life over the last (almost) year.  I'm having fun and enjoying life in ways I never thought possible.  I have a great job and work with the best people.  My family is amazing in so many ways and I have the best friends in the world.  I never knew I would find so much support from so many people.  

Earlier today someone said my blog is inspirational.  Made me smile.  A lot.  I never thought I could inspire anyone.  I still don't really think that about myself but to hear someone say that just proves that you can really can overcome anything.  Everyone has their time.  Apparently mine started in January 2013 and, lucky for me, keeps going.  I feel so blessed in so many ways.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fun Week

It's been a crazy fun week.  The team my brother and sister coach made it back to the state finals for the second year in a row!  I am so proud of both of them, their team and everything they've accomplished.  Last year, while still excited and happy for them, I still had trouble feeling the excitement because I wasn't real happy as a person.  Also, I remember when the season ended, I sat around the rest of the weekend thinking, what I am going to do with my time now??  I realized I would be spending a lot of time cooped up in my house by myself which I think caused me to spiral further into the depression I found myself in when January rolled around.  I thought I didn't matter and since I lived  away from everyone, I often thought they forgot that I existed.  

I don't feel that way, not even close, anymore.  While the living situation is still the same, it doesn't make me sad anymore.  It means I have to drive a little to do the things I want to do and to see the people I want to see but it's okay.  A little driving never hurt anyone!  I know that I can call or text my siblings, in-laws, friends and my parents (well, I can call ya mom and dad!) anytime and they will be there for me.  I'm pretty sure they didn't realize how low I was feeling until it got really bad.  Now that they've seen me transform myself into who I am now, and still trying to become, I know they realize how important they are to me.  I love soccer season but I am actually looking forward to the free time I'll have in the evenings.  Just have to find some things to occupy my time!  I have a feeling Renee' will tell me to look at recipes but I will avoid that as long as possible - I get so confused and frustrated that it just isn't fun for me.  Maybe someday that will change.... But now I won't need to eat Subway for dinner twice a week so I'm actually going to have to cook...

Another fun thing this week was going back to boot camp with Renee'.  It's a bit of a stretch for me to make it after school but I wanted to go so I knew I would just have to get out of school on time.  It was nice that the first day was a half day for me so I was actually able to get there a little early and start with the group.  Some of the people hadn't seen me since May so it was fun to see their reactions.  Also, I was able to do much more than I thought.  But, I still don't have a lot of confidence in myself or my abilities.  I was definitely hesitant to do some of the exercises but Renee' kept pushing me to try (exactly what I needed) and I managed to do them.  I just can't lift much weight.  But I still think if you call something a sled, and I have to push it, I should be able to ride it down a hill in the snow too... :)  I actually wasn't sore the next day which surprised me.  I went back on Thursday and managed to do everything.  Well, almost everything.  She tried to make me hang from a pull-up bar which wasn't happening.  But I think that's why my arms were sore for the next two days!  Which I know made her happy... We'll see what happens next week.  I'm not scared - yet ;)

I'm still working on the personal training stuff.  I'm actually getting closer to being done with the manual.  Then I have to go back through and figure out what I read the first time.  But, it's actually interesting.  Still not sure what I'll ever do with it if I pass the test but it gives me something to do.  

I also got to go through more clothes and put more in bags to give away.  Some of them are things I just bought this summer but are too big already.  It's crazy to think about how much I've changed even in the last 3 months.  I just ordered my Christmas cards and I am actually so excited to send them out this year!  I never thought anyone cared about getting things like that from me.  The turnaround in my mood, frame of mind and so many other things about life is just unbelievable to me.  Renee' is my friend and I also have so many more wonderful people in my life than I had a year ago.  Funny thing, it's hard to imagine what life was like without them.  I feel blessed in so many more ways than I could ever count or mention.

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.

I know I am.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Family Picture Day

This past Sunday, we had family pictures taken.  Every time we've taken group pictures before, I always try to hide behind someone.  I mean, I've always been told I have a beautiful face or a pretty smile.  When you're heavy, even if the person saying those things doesn't mean it to, it often comes across as, that's the only thing about me that's pretty.  It can really fuel that lack of self-confidence.  I know it did in me.  So, to finally have a body that I am comfortable in and want to put in pictures is an unbelievable feeling. 

In fact, I had so much fun shopping for an outfit, I didn't know what to do with myself.  I didn't stick with dark colors because I didn't feel like I needed to hide anything.  In fact, I bought an orange scarf just so I could accent my outfit and stand out a little bit :)

It was fun to run through the park with the kids and know pictures were being taken that I wouldn't be embarrassed to look at in the years to come.  We captured memories and I was excited to be a part of the pictures for the first time in a long time.

Being happy is a feeling I wasn't sure I would ever experience.  I feel like that's a theme to this blog lately but it's the truth.  When you're happy, the rest of the world seems like a brighter place.  Don't get me wrong, I still get mad at people going 20 mph in a 35 mph zone but it doesn't ruin my day anymore.  Funny enough, stupid things like that used to make me mad for a majority of the day.  Now, I yell at them through my windshield, laugh at myself and move on with my day :).  Yes, I'm that person and I'm okay with it!

As a Christmas present last year, we had pictures taken for my parents.  Just for fun, here is a picture of me from last year at the beginning of December - 

It's hard for me to even look at that picture of myself.  I know how unhappy I was in so many aspects of my life.  On the contrary - here is one from this past weekend - I love looking at this picture and seeing the happiness in my eyes.

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” 

I know I still have a long ways to go but I can't wait to see what the future holds!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Exercise Routine

I've had lots of people ask me what I do for exercise.  Especially people I've met recently at my new job who didn't know me when I weighed 281 pounds.  So, I'll try to describe what I have done and what I currently do to the best of my ability.  One piece of advice I can offer is to make sure you don't do too much too fast.  As you'll see below, it took me a long time to work up to where I am now and I'm still working towards a lot of different things with regards to fitness.  For example, I'm still not allowed to do much (if any) jumping.  It can still do a lot of damage to my knees and joints because I still have a lot of extra weight that I am carrying around.

When I first started working with Renee', she definitely had me start slow but she also made sure I was doing something I liked and would keep doing each day.  I've always enjoyed walking but, since it was the middle of winter, and I hate the cold, that wasn't an option.  Also, with how heavy I was, I probably wouldn't get much out of walking on the treadmill.  Plus, too much pounding could damage my knees and joints. By the way, this is all stuff I learned - I am not that smart!

So, I was mostly on the elliptical for the first couple of months.  The difference was, she came up with different things for me to do on the elliptical.  Renee' kept telling me we needed to "shock my body" which meant I couldn't get comfortable doing the same thing.  One day I would do a sprint/jog routine, another day maybe a hill climb then I would try a course on the elliptical or do some longer sprints and then do weights in between each set.  I was amazed at how many different things I could do on the elliptical.  I always had to write everything down because I knew I would forget something.  In addition to these elliptical routines, Renee' had me doing body weight squats, stupid push-ups (on my knees), planks (also on my knees) and some side and front raises.  I struggled to find the right form.  Even with the squats, I don't think I ever got the form completely right until she told me to put a physioball behind my back.  Never would have thought to do that on my own...

So, as you can see, I wasn't really lifting much weight for the first couple of months.  I needed to be moving my body safely, I learned.  She started to throw a few weight machines in here and there (took me awhile to find them at the gym sometimes...) but I was lifting pretty minimal weight.  And I was sore!  I was pretty much using 5lb dumbbells for the majority of my exercises.  Renee' added resistance bands as well.  I used those mostly when I went to boot camp at her facility.  Now, those things made my arms sore!  But, when I'm sore, it's a good thing.  At least, that's what Renee' tells me while she smiles at the fact that I'm sore.

As the months went on, I was doing longer sprints and other things on the elliptical but I still was trying to not put much pressure on my joints.  By mid-June, I had lost 50 pounds and Renee' wanted me to try to walk/jog, every minute on the minute.  I was willing to try.  It was a lot harder than I thought it would be but I made it an entire hour in that rhythm.  Even with all the exercise I had been doing, it was going to take me awhile to build up my lung capacity and my ability to breathe while trying to do more intense exercising.  I slowly worked my way up to longer bouts of jogging and continued to lift more weight when I felt like I was ready.

The big key for me has been mixing up my workouts.  I do strength training, circuit training, intervals, cardio, etc.  My body never knows what is coming next.  I do give my body a break with a couple of days where I just go for walks.  It's important to let your body recover.  So, walking is the way I can still be active but not put too much strain on my body.

Slowly build up your workouts.  If you have questions, ask someone trained in fitness so you can be sure you are getting the correct answers.  I feel like I've come so far but I still have a long ways to go.  The crazy thing is - all you have to do is start.  Once you do, your entire life will change, for the better.  Mine did.  And it's so worth it.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

More Accomplishments and Lessons Learned

I'm not real sure how to be creative with continuing with my story.  But, I'll try :)

So, I didn't lose any weight this week.  And it's okay.  I went to the gym on Thursday, did a weight workout and some sprinting on the elliptical.  It felt good.  As I was walking out, a lady that I see sometimes who is an aide for an autistic boy who swims every day stopped and said, You look AMAZING!!  I just smiled, said thank you and told her how much I needed to hear that today.  She said I inspired her - It's so weird to hear that.  I feel like I am just taking care of myself (finally) so when people give me compliments like that, it feels so strange but also makes me proud at the same time.  I really don't think I've ever been an inspiration to anyone.  I've just kinda floated my way through life.  Now, I feel like I have a place somewhere and I keep finding more ways to make life fun.

There are still so many things I want to accomplish and learn about myself.  So, as I think of things, I want to keep adding to the list I started in my blog about what can change in 9 months.

28.  Now that I'm happy, it is so much easier and so fun to be happy for someone else in my life.
29.  Happiness is contagious.  
30.  I now get described as bubbly - which is bizarre in so many ways
31.  Shopping is fun!
32.  I never could have imagined how good it feels to have my entire family in my corner, cheering for me and constantly saying how proud they are of me.
33.  It's fun to be in pictures again
34.  I can almost keep up with my 5 year old nephew when he's running - He's fast!!  
35.  Making exercise a priority means I make myself a priority - and everyone needs that!
36.  Anything I want to do, I should try.  I'll never know what I can do if I don't try
37.  When I stopped comparing myself to others, I figured out I'm a pretty awesome person just by being me.
38.  Real and true friendships are priceless - and the best gift I could ever receive in my life.  
39.  Renee' enjoys it when I'm sore - so I'm sure I'm in trouble if she ever makes me workout with her again.
40.  Food doesn't need to be a reward.  Feeling good, looking good and being in good health are much better rewards than food.  But I still enjoy the occasional cookie :)

I'm sure there's more but that's all I've got right now!

I have so much more energy than I ever thought I could.  For example, today, I got up, administered a test at school and, since I had time, I went for a walk before I had to leave for the special olympics swim meet.  The old me would have laid on the couch and slept.  

Each day, life just gets better.  When the year started, I was so down on myself and everything in my life.  In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined how much of a transformation I would make in such a short time.  The funny thing is, I know I will continue to change and grow and I'm excited for every bit of it!