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Friday, January 31, 2014


I know I've touched on this at different times in this blog but I really used to question what it was like to have real friendships in life.  Don't get me wrong, I would say that I've been lucky enough to have a couple of awesome friends in my life.  My sisters and my mom are truly my best friends in the whole world.  My life wouldn't be the same without them.  However, until this past year, I'm not sure I truly figured out what it was like to have more than one or two real friends.  People who are there for you when you need them, enjoy seeing you happy, and want to see you succeed, just to name a few things.  It has definitely been a bit of a foreign concept to me that there are people like that in the world.  I feel lucky that I've found a few of them. 

With that, I found a few quotes about friendship and thought I would describe what they mean to me.  

A true friend is someone who sees the pain in your eyes while everyone else believes the smile on your face.

I know my family could always see the pain behind my smile but I don't think there were many other people who took the time to really look at me that closely.  I don't blame them because I never let anyone get that close to me.  I found ways to push them away without even realizing that's what I was doing.  I think part of it was trying to protect myself from being hurt because I just expected it to happen.  After all, it's just what I was used to.

I think, well, actually, I know, what this quote says is what made me trust and open up to Renee' sooner than I ever thought I would.  Right away.  She took the time to ask me questions that were just about me, not anyone else.  I know I was still trying to hide the pain in my eyes but I'm pretty sure she could see it.  I tried to smile a lot when I first met her but I also know I still wasn't sure where I was going to end up or how all of this was going to work.  After the first week or so, I knew we could be friends.  But I wasn't sure how that would work.  After all, I still wasn't sure that I was worthy of us becoming friends.  That was just all my insecurities coming to the surface.  The friendship just kind of happened and she's one of my closest friends now.  Amazing what can happen when you start to open up to the people around you.

A friend is one who knows who you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become and still gently allows you to grow.

I think my newest friends, the ones I've mostly met through my new job, fall into this category.  As they've taken the time to get to know me, they have an understanding of where I've been.  Although they'll never know the old Amanda (for which I couldn't be more thankful), they are enjoying the benefits of my figuring out who I am.  They like me for who I've become and they are pushing me to keep growing.  In lots of ways.  They've taken the time to get to know me as a person and that means more to me than I think they'll ever know.

If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone.

Once you learn how to like yourself, people will want to be around you.  I can't even begin to tell you how true this is in my life.  For so long, because I didn't like myself, I think I came across as standoffish and not real friendly.  Thankfully, I have seen that change in myself simply by learning that I'm a pretty great person, flaws and all.  

If you're still looking for a resolution for 2014, challenge yourself to get to know somebody you don't know much about.  If nothing else, you'll learn something.  And, hey, that person might end up becoming one of your best friends.  I'm so lucky to have such a solid group of friends in my life now.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Life is a Journey

"I love the person I am today, and without the lessons I learned from my past, my journey, I would not be me. Life is a journey, Live it!"

Journey - I've used that word a ton this year and in this blog...I've been doing a lot of trying to forget, learning to forgive and figuring out how to trust myself in the last year.  These have all been huge pieces of the immense self discovery and growth I've both found and experienced this year. 

And, I've come to the conclusion that I would never want to forget my past.  Every single thing that has ever happened to me, that I've been a part of, has made me the person I am, flaws and all.  Insecurities and all.  I wouldn't be human if I didn't have flaws and insecurities.  Even the strongest person in the world has insecurity about something or someone.  That's something I've also learned.  For so long I had a big "woe is me" attitude about life.  I felt like everyone and everything was out to get me.  As I've learned how to like and love myself (two very different but important things to do for yourself), I've discovered that as I became more confident in who I am that people want to be around me.  They respect me for who I am because I am happy with myself.  I don't think I ever realized how much liking yourself leads to others wanting to be part of your world in any way you'll let them. 

Figuring out myself is an ongoing process.  I don't know that I will ever completely understand myself.  Maybe I'm not supposed to.  Maybe that's all part of the journey that is life.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it is.  For me, it's about pushing myself to do things I don't want to do.  Some people might struggle to understand why that is hard for me.  Well, sometimes I have trouble understanding how some people can be so outgoing and talk to anyone around them.  The great part about that - it's what makes the world a fun place.  We're all different and we all have different strengths and weaknesses.  Meeting people who are different from you is another part of the journey of life.  It helps you find parts of yourself you didn't know existed.  I know that has happened more times than I can count this year for me.  And I couldn't be more thankful.  I actually speak a little bit now in front of people I don't know that well.  I constantly laugh at myself because it's part of learning to not take everything in life so seriously.  It's part of living life. 

Over the past year I've learned to love the journey that is life.  Sometimes I wish I would have figured it out sooner but, I have long believed that there is a reason for everything.  I may not have always understood why things happen but I believe the outcome has led me to someone, somewhere or something that is meant to be.  A year ago I didn't have all of the amazing friends I have today.  I didn't have energy and a love for life that I can't imagine being without now.  

And, just to make a certain someone happy, without all of this, my core muscles would not be killing me every time I cough right now... But that's a good thing, right?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Focus On You!

Don't dwell on what went wrong.  Instead, focus on what to do next.  Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.

If I have learned one big lesson in life that has been reinforced this past year it is that the past is just that.  The past.  I can't change it, make it better, etc.  So why focus on it?  That's something I did a lot of but I no longer do and it has helped me make a complete transformation in who I am and who I am still working on becoming.

I have to focus on what I can do.  What are the next steps?  For me, I have to make goals.  I am way to good at avoiding things that seem difficult or are out of my comfort zone.  Granted, that comfort zone has gotten bigger in the past year and I try to make it get a little bigger every day.  But, if I'm going to continue to grow and make great changes in my life, I have to focus on what I want those changes to be.  In my mind, that requires measurable goals.  And then figuring out what steps I need to take to reach those goals.

I have to spend the majority of my energy on finding the answers in my own way and my own time.  No one is going to be able to do it for me.  That's something else I've learned throughout the last year.  No one could make me do anything that I've done.  It's all been my choice (coupled with enormous support and encouragement from a number of people).  And everything I do will continue to be my choice.  I'll probably never find all the answers.  But, I'll find the majority of them in my own way and in my own time.  Then it will be on to the next challenge.  And those are the greatest ways to spend my energy :)

To help yourself, you must be yourself.  Be the best that you can be.  When you make a mistake, learn from it, pick yourself up and move on.

Throughout all of this, I've also learned that it's completely okay to be myself.  That people like me for who I am, inside and out but mostly for who I am as a person.  I believe one of the reasons people say they are inspired by me is not just about the weight loss.  But it's also about how happiness just shines through me in so many ways.  When I posted the picture of myself last week that showed me today right next to a picture of myself last year, someone at work even said, well, you're smiling, but you look miserable.  My response?  I was.  A couple of people commented that I look like I am beaming in the picture from this year.  Not only does that make me feel great, it makes me realize that I am finally being myself in so many ways that I used to be afraid to showcase.  Every day I try to be the best person I can be.  Do I make mistakes?  Of course I do.  Everyone does.  But, instead of dwelling on it (see first quote), I learn what I did wrong, pick myself up and move on.  What an amazing gift I've been given.

And all I want to do is pay it forward because I want other people to feel like I do.  Proud, full of excitement and happier than I ever thought was possible.  If you missed my before and after picture - here's a second glance at it. I hope you see what I see :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Last Year at This Time #2

So, a year ago today I went to the gym for the first time in a VERY long time.  I used to love working out but I had lost the enjoyment in it.  

I was told that I needed to change my clothes at school and go straight to the gym.  I decided I should follow directions so I packed a bag of clothes and went directly there after school.  I was going to a branch I hadn't been to in years because it was closer to work.  Going there didn't allow me to drive by my house, which was a good thing!  Kinda funny, after only a few days Renee' knew that if I had the chance to go home I would probably find a reason to not leave again.  Like I've said before, she could read me really well right from the start.  And that just made me trust her even more.  

So, my instructions were to start slow and just do 30 minutes.  I figured I could handle that.  I had my Ipod with me and there were plenty of TV's around.  I couldn't believe how out of shape I felt.  I mean, I knew I wasn't healthy but I couldn't believe how hard it was for me to go at a pretty consistent pace for the whole 30 minutes.  I used to be able to do so much more.  So, I knew I had a long way to go.  Very long.  But, I felt like I was finally up for the challenge.  One big reason?  I had someone to push me and make me do things that maybe weren't all that comfortable for me.  I had someone who would help me figure out what kind of workouts I should be doing so I wouldn't hurt myself but also so I would benefit from them.  

Fast forward a year....

Wow.  Today was the second day of the fitness class I am taking through my school district.  Today was very much an interval/boot camp style workout with cardio and other stuff.  I never would have been able to do 90% of what we did a year ago.  There was running, some jumping (which I still modify at times for myself), body weight, etc.  It really has taken me a solid year to build up to where I am today.  And I still have a long ways to go.  I still do some modified exercises.  And I'm not ashamed of it.  Every time I do them, I get a little stronger (I hope).  And, seeing how far I've come in the last year, makes me want to keep going and get stronger.  

Crazy.  I don't even the recognize the person I described from a year ago.  I love the way I feel when I work out.  And although there are days when it's hard to motivate myself (everyone has them), I really look forward to the feeling I have when I complete my workout and know I've done something good for myself, physically, emotionally, etc.  

If you're just starting out or just getting back on the wagon of exercising...take your time.  If you do too much too fast you'll burn yourself out or, worse, you could hurt yourself.  I will say, although I'm not at the end of my journey (I'll say it's the middle), the results will be completely worth it.  I promise.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Last Year At This Time - #1

Still reflecting on everything that has happened in the last year, I'm going to write a few entries comparing last year at this time to this year.  Not only will it be somewhat entertaining, it will also give me another chance to see and show people how far I've come and how it is completely possible to change your life.

A year ago this weekend I had my first adventure at the grocery store...

Let's just say I was extremely overwhelmed, to say the least.

I remember getting an email from Renee' with a sample grocery list.  I read through it and just thought to myself, I wish I knew what even half of this stuff even is...But, of course I didn't ask her.  Gosh, I was SUCH a different person a year ago.  Now, I don't hesitate to ask her questions.  In fact, I usually make fun of myself when I send the questions because I can't believe I'm that much of an idiot.  Plus, I figure it entertains her even more.

I remember looking around my kitchen, opening up the refrigerator and freezer and realizing I was going to have to throw A LOT of stuff away to make room for whatever healthy stuff I was able to find on this list.  So, out came the garbage bags and I think I filled two or three of them up with stuff from the freezer, fridge and the cabinets.  I will say, I did not throw my Oreos away...Hey, there's some things that are just sacred, right??  I just told myself I wouldn't buy anymore.

Off to the grocery store I went.  I guess I should start by saying that I don't particularly enjoy grocery shopping.  So, for me to go near a store on a Sunday when the rest of America seems to do its grocery shopping, says a lot about how I wanted to start this off right.  I also wasn't feeling very good so I think my patience was a little thin.  But, I still went.  I seriously think I spent over an hour at the store just wandering around.  Most of the time I was probably in the produce section.  Oh, I just walked in circles, trying to read the names of things and not run into other people.  Eventually I found enough food that I thought I could get by for a couple of days so I decided to check out.

I remember getting home and putting everything away and being like, now what?  Surely she doesn't expect me to cook any of this.  Nor do I have a clue what I would do with any of it...  But, I packed up what I thought would be a decent lunch for work the next day and proceeded to lay down and take a nap :)  See, not everything about me has changed!  I know we talked on the phone later that day and I still didn't tell her how little I knew about the list she sent.  I just pretended that the grocery store wasn't that bad and that I would be okay... I'm guessing she wasn't suspecting how little I knew about food yet.... If only she'd had a crystal ball....

This year -

Okay, so, while I still don't know a lot about food and I get confused very easily, I am much faster at the grocery store.  As long as I'm not trying to find something new, I can usually get in and out in 30 minutes.  Probably because I don't have to go up and down every aisle.  In fact, as I write this, I remember Renee' saying that eventually I would find myself shopping mostly the perimeter of the store.  She was right.  Like she usually is :)  Amazing how that speeds up the shopping process!

While I am still learning every day about all this food stuff (yesterday I learned what orzo is), I feel good about what I've accomplished.  I still don't really enjoy cooking but when I figure something out, I get super proud of myself.  I usually can't take credit for the ideas but since I haven't made myself sick yet, I must be doing something right!! :)

Stay tuned for more amusing recollections :)

Friday, January 24, 2014

365 Days of Changes, Lessons Learned and Much More

January 24th 2013, unbeknownst to me, would completely change my life in ways I couldn't even begin to imagine.  This was me a year ago today - 

I can't believe it's been a year since I drove to Mason after work for my first meeting with Renee'.  I was so nervous and had no idea what I was walking into.  Little did I know my life would never be the same.  And that is the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago and in others, it seems like it just happened yesterday.  I'm not really sure what I am aiming for this entry to be.  Probably a reflection of an amazing, crazy, fun, unbelievable, adventurous and more adjectives than I can use to describe this past year.  I don't think I can come up with 365 changes, lessons learned, funny thoughts, etc so I'm going to just see how many I can come up with that describe the last year of my life.  Some of these are inside jokes but I still think you'll find them funny!

1.  Trust your heart.  It won't lead you in the wrong direction.
2.  Meeting new people doesn't have to be scary
3.  Sometimes the best things in life are unknown experiences
4.  A garlic clove should really be labeled at the store.  But, for those who may not know, it's a small white thing that is usually near the tomatoes...
5.  Plain Greek Yogurt smells funny.
6.  Having just one person who takes the time to believe in you can make a world of difference unknown to most until you experience it.
7.  There should really be maps available at the grocery store for clueless people (like me)
8.  It's fun to eat every few hours.  Especially for someone who loves food :)
9.  Exercising is a great way to relieve stress.
10. Change is hard.  But it's not impossible.
11. If you're not happy, change what doesn't make you happy.
12. Someone should really start writing recipes in English
13. I like being an Indian :)
14. Fish smells funny.
15. My 5 year old nephew is one of the most honest, and fun, people in the world. And having him notice all the positive changes I've made in my life has made this year even better (if that's possible!).
16. A pepper goes in the refrigerator 
17. I still have no idea what MSG is
18. I used to shop way too much (I used it as therapy)
19. It's about a 3 minute drive to Goodwill from my house (I've gone there enough this year)
20. Finding your inner strength translates to strength in many ways
21. It's fun to go shopping again
22. It's okay to indulge at times
23. When you only eat cookies, cake, brownies, etc a few times a year, they are freaking delicious and you'll savor every bite!
24. Cauliflower comes in a package like a head of lettuce 
25. Beans are a lot smaller than I thought they were 
26. My mom loves me more than I ever realized
27. Being on the beach is still my most favorite place in the entire world - it's just more fun when I don't mind being in a swimsuit :)
28. It's possible to travel and not pig out on fast food
29. When you eat healthy, there's far less coupons to cut out of the paper.
30. It takes, on average, 364 licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop (and no, I didn't count that myself).
31. It's possible to go out to eat and still make good decisions on food
32. York peppermint patties are made with dark chocolate (yes, it took me a few months to realize that...)
33. A year later and I still can't cook.
34. But I can do enough in the kitchen to survive.
35. No matter how much healthier I get, I am still really good at avoiding things I don't want to do. I gotta work on that one...
36. Dark chocolate really does satisfy my sweet tooth
37. Spinach doesn't taste bad
38. But I still haven't tried to cook it
39. When cookies stare at you, you can ignore them or move them to a different room to make them stop ;)
40. Healthy desserts are actually good!
41. New friends can become your best friends if you let them.
42. Yes, I'm even stupid enough to mess up green tea....but I've figured it out
43. Speaking of green makes me have to go the bathroom.  A lot. In case you were wondering.
44. Cottage cheese is gross. At least to me.
45. Putting lemon in water is actually good
46. There's a thing called a mini chopper that makes cutting veggies much easier.
47. Losing 6 lbs in one week is crazy!
48. Losing 20 lbs in 6 weeks proves that change can happen quicker than I ever thought possible.
49. Having a friend who gets excited for you when little things happen makes it so much fun to celebrate everything.
50. Apparently, I'm supposed to stretch after I workout.
51. And there's this band thing and something called a foam roller that really help with that... 
52. Google is my best friend.
53. Being sick isn't a reason to give up.  Just a reason to listen to your body and take a short break
54. Antibiotics are still my best friend
55. Removing negative people from your life is almost as important as figuring out who you are, inside and out.
56. It's fun to have people you've never met approach you at the gym and ask how much weight you've lost.
57. I never thought I would want to be the center of attention.  Now it's fun when people talk about me.
58. Self-confidence is the greatest gift in the world.
59. Almonds are considered a lean protein
60. Sweet potatoes are a vegetable...
61. I hate push-ups
62. I hate burpees even more
63. But I keep doing them because every day I get a little stronger... I think!
64. When I'm hungry I should eat.  Just not a donut. Or a brownie. Or cake. Or a cookie.  Or a lot of things!
65. Donuts look like oversized ears
66. Pizza looks like an old man's face with zits
67. I'm not flexible enough for yoga...
68. There's two different row machines at the gym... the cardio one and the weighted one...
69. Egg whites aren't as difficult to find as garlic cloves
70. Walking 13.1 miles is a lot easier when you have 38 less pounds to carry with you.
71. Honey is a good sweetener
72. Edamame is a real food...just not that easy to find....
73. Shots with baileys, strawberries and whipped cream are really good - and not that bad for you - well, except for the alcohol thing
74. You'll never change anything about your life without taking chances
75. I still don't like uncomfortable situations.  And I don't think I ever will...
76. Losing weight can make your feet smaller
77. A physioball hamstring roll-in requires coordination.
78. My back doesn't hurt as much now that I've lost all this weight.
79. When people say I inspire them, it feels weird but is so fun at the same time
80. If you buy fresh fish, it goes in the fridge, not the freezer
81. Sushi is not on my list of things I enjoy eating
82. Happiness is a choice
83. You only live once...but if you do it right...once is enough.
84. Avocados can be dangerous to cut - but they are yummy!
85. The majority of my grocery shopping now takes place in the organic and fruit/veggie section
86. I can't remember the last time I ordered a pizza....
87. There's a lot of body parts that have hard to pronounce names
88. Running isn't as hard as I thought it would be
89. Peanut butter on top of a piece of dark chocolate really does taste like a reese cup
90. Walking backwards on a treadmill requires coordination I do not possess.
91. Losing 50 pounds in 5 months is an accomplishment I never thought I would see in my lifetime
92. I can't do a push-up with my feet up on a physioball - that requires strength - but I tried!
93. I absolutely love to laugh at myself!
94. I am still in complete shock that I am a certified personal trainer
95. Weighing in the 100's for the first time in at least 7 years is priceless
96. Skinny jeans are fun to wear
97. Surround yourself with the right people and you'll be amazed at how things just start to fall into place.
98. There's lots of yummy ways to make smoothies
99. Being active is fun
100. It's possible to accomplish goals you never imagined you would set for yourself.
101. I am now addicted to Candy Crush Saga
102. I've never had a cronut - and I think Renee' would probably kill me if I tried one right now...
103. Powdered Peanut butter is an awesome invention.  Especially for smoothies
104. Chasing after my nieces and nephew is so much easier at 184 pounds.
105. Holiday candy overload takes on a whole new meaning when you don't buy it every week and it crowds the aisles at the grocery store.
106. I am convinced I would need a map to find my way around Whole Foods
107. And probably a personal tour guide...
108. Losing 75 pounds is a crazy amount of weight to lose - but I've done it - plus some :)
109. My ipad is awesome
110. Autocorrect has a funny interpretation of some of the messages I try to send.
111. Friendship isn't about who you've known the longest.  It's about who came into your life, said 'I'm here for you' and proved it :)  - Right??
112. I look funny walking backwards on a treadmill.
113. Strawberries and pb on crackers fulfills my pb&j craving
114. There's nothing better than a nap
115. I don't want a tattoo
116. There has to be a dictionary out there for idiots like me in the kitchen
117. Crushing almonds requires a hammer - or a lot of muscle
118. Hell officially froze over when my sister said she is starting to copy off my food.
119. And when she asked me where to find hummus in the store....
120. Just because it's national ice cream day, I don't get to go to Graeters...
121.Going down slides and swinging is even funner at 33 than it was at 7.
122. National lasagna day doesn't mean I get to eat lasagna...
123. It takes me a long time to eat a salad but I think I could win the world record with how fast I can eat chocolate...
124. Playing with a slinky is completely addicting.
125.There are lollipops out there that are healthy!  But I think I would have to go to that Whole Foods place and get that tour guide to find them...
126. Mints help me not be hungry
127. I'm still not sure what quinoa is or how to cook it.
128. Sending a picture of deep fried oreos (and many other things) to Renee' is fun and her reactions usually make me laugh the rest of the night. Don't worry, I don't usually eat what's in the pictures :) 
129. Oh Yeah Bars are delicious and taste like candy bars!
130. 23% of all photocopier faults worldwide are caused by people sitting on them and photocopying their butts. (I just thought that was funny)
131. Manja means hungry in Italian.  I think.
132. There are 10 human body parts that are only 3 letters long.  Can you name all ten?
133. Subway is my best friend during soccer season.
134. I wore a tutu in public - and had a blast!
135. And, last but not least -

Positivity can change your life

I'm living proof of that!  There are so many more things that I've learned this year but this is what I could come up with over the last few days.  I think the most important one is one that I've listed a few times before - change is possible.  You just have to believe in yourself and start.  

January 24th, 2014

I'm happier and healthier than I have ever been.  I love life and that is something I never thought I would say.  Like Renee' said yesterday, I'm a completely different person, inside and out.  In the best ways.

Renee' - Thank you for helping me find the person I am today - I couldn't have done it without you.  And our friendship is one of the greatest gifts I'll ever receive :)  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Find Your Smile

Let your smile change the world but don't let the world change your smile.

Too often, we are all guilty of letting this happen.  We let the outside world and our circumstances change the way we see ourselves, our jobs, our achievements, etc.  I know I am incredibly guilty of this.  Well, I used to be.  Occasionally it still happens but I love that it's a rare occurrence now.  

You really do have to figure out who you are on the inside to accomplish what this quote says.  Don't let the world change your smile.  Easier said than done.  When you have a bad or frustrating day at work, you can usually see it written all over your face.  It shows in how you talk to people, how much patience you have with your kids, the kind of conversations you have with your parents, significant other, etc.  Even how you deal with your co-workers.  

In order to accomplish what this quote talks about, I've had to do a lot of soul searching.  I've had to figure out what makes me happy.  Honestly, the inside is so much more important.  Yes, I've had a lot of physical changes and I couldn't be more thankful for them.  And for the ones I will continue to achieve.  However, the real change has been the person I've found on the inside.  Because I'm happy and at peace with who I am, my surroundings don't bring me down on a regular basis.  In fact, they hardly ever do.  And even when I have a not so good day, I find ways to smile and work my way through it.  Why?  Because it's not worth it to be sad, frustrated or upset on a regular basis.  Yes, it affects the people around you.  But, know who it affects more?  You.  

I am proof of that.  The old me may not have been the funnest person to be around.  But, other people could walk away from me.  I couldn't walk away from myself.  I was the one who was the most affected by allowing outside circumstances to change my smile.  There's fake smiles and real smiles.  I can honestly say my smiles were pretty fake a year ago.  I tried to put on a good show.  But, the people who knew me could see right through it.  Now, my smiles are real.  They are genuine.  And they are full of happiness.  I've had people ask me if I ever stop smiling.  My answer is usually just smiling at them and saying I don't know.  

It's crazy how much your outward appearance changes when you're happy on the inside.  If you really look, you'll see it in the person's eyes.  I can see it in my own eyes.  And I love it.  

Figure out what makes you truly smile.  When you do that, you'll be able to use your smile to change the world.  Just like I hope I am doing / can do.  Your happiness can (and will) rub off on others.  And it will just add to the joy you feel in your own life.  I promise.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

More Reflection

Reflecting on the last year is crazy in so many ways.  I was spending time with my sister and brother-in-law yesterday afternoon and it continued to make me realize how far I've come in the last year.  As they told me that they've had people ask them about me, what I'm doing to lose weight and just overall questions about me, all I could do was smile.  

First of all, no one would have asked those questions about me a year ago.  It's absolutely insane to think about how much I've changed in just one short year.  Second, when I truly try to remember my life a year ago, I find it hard.  Maybe because I don't want to go back there.  Actually I never want to go back there and I know I never will.  But, also because I have literally done a complete 180 with my life.  The only things that are the same are where I live and that I love to take naps.  Other than that, I can't think of one thing about my life that is the same as it was a year ago.  

When we were talking yesterday, I told them it was unbelievable to think that a year ago I was still eating microwaveable meals, ordering pizza and just wanting to stay locked up in my house.  I was out of breath just going up a flight of stairs.  I dreaded anything that involved putting on something other than sweatpants.  I still love my sweatpants, but in a different way :)  

Last year on MLK day, mom and I spent the afternoon together.  I think I mentioned this before, but we ended up getting caught in some horrible traffic on the way back to my house.  So much so that we had to sit in the car on the highway for over an hour.  It may have been longer than that.  Anyways, all I can remember telling her is that I was so tired of being sad all the time.  And, of course, I was crying.  By this point, I already knew I was going to meet with Renee' at some point.  I just wasn't sure when yet.  When my mom said it will all work out in time, I wanted to believe her.  I knew I was taking some steps in the right direction.  Fast forward one year later and I can't believe how right she was.  My life is completely different, I am completely different from the person who sat in that car last year.  

When you finally decide you want to make your life better and you take steps to make that happen, it creates a bunch of anxiety, lots of scary situations, and so many other crazy things.  However, the adventure you will be on is literally indescribable.  I'm still on my journey and I will be for a long time.  But the last year has shown me just how much one person can change in a short amount of time.  It's possible to change your life.  You just have to decide you want to try.  And take some action to make it happen.  It's the best gift you will ever give to yourself.  I promise.

When you fight yourself to discover the real you, there is only one winner.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Update on my story :)

This past week was so much better than the week before.  I wasn't in a funky/weird mood and I enjoyed every second of every day.  Proves to me, once again, that it's okay to have an off day or two.  It doesn't have to define you.  You just have to find a way to work through it.

The week started with going to a new fitness class sponsored by the school district I work for.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  It ended up being a good workout (for me) and I was able to do everything we were asked to do (with the exception of a side plank).  I can say, without a doubt, if I had gone to that class a year ago, I would have been completely out of breath within the first 5 minutes, I wouldn't have even tried to run during the warm up and I probably would have been embarrassed at how heavy and out of shape I was.  That is, if I would have even gone.  If I'd had the opportunity last year, I probably would have come up with an excuse or reason that I couldn't go.  Just another step I've taken to find happiness in my life.  I enjoy exercising and I like trying new things.

I went to boot camp one day this week with Renee'.  I had to switch to a heavier weight for some of the exercises because I wasn't feeling anything.  I'm still not very strong but it made me feel good.  Also, when I went to the gym to run on Wednesday, I managed to run for 15 minutes straight at a speed of 5.7.  That's the fastest I've ever run for any significant length of time.  I felt invigorated!

This past week was "jeans week" at work.  I won't lie - I love when I can wear jeans every day.  There's something about it that makes me feel comfortable.  Anyways, I'm getting away from my story.  So, on Tuesday, I put on a pair of jeans that I've worn for the last few months.  They are a size 12 and have been fitting pretty well.  Well, they were definitely a little looser on Tuesday but I still wore them.  One of my co-workers told me that the looked good and a little big on me.  I couldn't figure out how.  If you've kept up with me at all, you know it's been over a month since I've lost any weight.  I've definitely hit a plateau and, although I've been a little frustrated, I've tried to not let it get me down.  So, to realize this particular pair of jeans was fitting differently made it more evident to me that changing my body is about more than just losing weight.  It's also about building muscle, toning, etc.  And those things can change your body composition just as much as having pounds come off.

I didn't have overly high expectations when it came to weighing myself.  The last couple of weeks I kinda did and I was let down.  So, I figured I shouldn't get my hopes up so I wouldn't be disappointed.  I'm making progress in so many aspects of my life.  I have to learn to not rely on the number on the scale to make me happy.  However, when I looked down on Thursday morning and saw 184.8 (rounded to 185) I was so excited!!! I had been at 186 for over a month so to see just a little progress made me realize that I can keep going and that the weight will come off in time.  When I was getting dressed, I decided to try on a pair of jeans I bought a couple of months ago that I hadn't worn yet.  They are a size 10.  When I bought them, I could get them on and buttoned but they were a little too tight to wear.  I was very close to jumping up and down when I put them on, they fit, I could sit down in them and I actually thought they looked good!   Even more proof that it isn't just about losing weight, it's about changing my body composition.  Just losing a couple of pounds over the last couple of months isn't going to make that much difference in a pair of jeans.  But changing other things about my body will.

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

I am still so motivated to keep changing for the better, inside and out.  Because the changes on the inside are just as important (if not more so), as the ones on the outside.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Couple of Thoughts :)

A year ago yesterday, I told my brother I was willing to meet with this person he knew who might be able to help me with my weight loss and nutrition.  I was more than nervous even just sending an email.  A year ago, I worried so much about what people thought of me.  And it was like pulling permanent teeth out of my mouth to get me to go meet someone new, let alone talk to someone by myself.  It took more than every ounce of courage in me to send that email.  Not because I didn't want to get better.  But, because it was really just that difficult for me to imagine that anyone would want to talk to me or help me.  Little did I know, sending that email was the beginning of a year I will never forget.

With that, and as I keep reflecting on the past year, below are some quotes I've seen recently that I really like.  So, here's what they mean to me :)

Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.

I find this to be so incredibly true.  Even when I was at my lowest, I would try to find joy in the one thing that made me happy - my nieces and nephew.  I can honestly say, although I enjoy every second I spend with them, that joy didn't burn out the pain.  It masked it for a little while.  So, I think what this really means is finding yourself and figuring out all the things that bring you joy.  If you find happiness, you'll find that the pain slowly starts to dissipate.  I don't remember when I started to feel happier on a daily basis.  I think it was kinda gradual.  Slowly, the pain and sadness I felt every day started to lessen.  I began to smile more.  I laughed at myself and with others.  I went out in the world a little bit at a time.  And so many other things.  Finding happiness inside myself is the greatest gift I've ever been given.  I can't even begin to explain how wonderful it feels to not be in emotional pain every day.  Take a minute...Look for the joy in your life.  You'll find it.

Change your thoughts and you change your world.

Throughout the last year, I've progressively changed the way I think.  I don't focus on what I don't have.  I focus on all the blessings I have in my life and how I can help others.  That's always been a big part of who I am but somewhere I lost my patience, my happiness and so many other things.  As the months have gone on, I've learned how much I was missing out on by always having negative thoughts.  As I've figured out how to think positively in every aspect of my life, my world has completely changed.  I have so many wonderful people around me and they bring out the best in me each and every day.  I have so much more patience with my nieces and nephew, I love playing games with them and I just love being an active part of their lives.  My world changes every day and I couldn't be happier or feel more blessed.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.

I think this kinda speaks for itself and is definitely one the best quotes I've ever read.  The most beautiful parts of my life aren't necessarily things that people can see.  At least not in a physical sense.  The happiness and joy I have inside of myself is the best thing ever.  And every day I can feel it making my heart just a little fuller and a whole lot happier.  Find your happiness - it will make you feel like a new person - and you won't regret a second of it!

Strong people don't put others down.  They lift them up.

You know who you are :)  Thank you :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What's different? Why now?

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

As I keep reflecting on the fact that it has almost been a year since I began this adventure to change my life, I either get asked or think about some of these questions often.  

Why did you think you would be successful?

Well, to be honest, I wasn't 100% sure I would be.  I just knew I needed to try something different and make a serious effort to get my life, my health, under control.  Remember, in my mind, this originally was just about weight loss.  I mean, I was good with everything else, right?  Ummmm....NO.  And, as I've said before, I think Renee' knew a little of that before I even met her.  But, even after I met with her, I was still really focused on the weight loss aspect.  Much as I said I was willing to start doing research on other things, I did my best to avoid it at first.  Change is hard for me.  Okay, it's hard for a lot of people.  For me, it's like going to a foreign country.  At this time last year, asking me to do anything out of my comfort zone would have sparked serious anxiety in me in so many ways I probably would have freaked out and cried.  Very quickly Renee' figured out that it was going to take awhile to get me to do a lot of things.  She could see that about me so fast, it made me trust her even more right away.  Well, and once she realized how little I knew about food and the grocery store, I think she realized how slow things were going to go... But I have definitely provided lots of entertainment along the way...And I'm pretty sure I still do! 

So, to answer the question above, once I opened my eyes and saw everyone that was in my corner and cheering me on, I knew I would be successful.  I just had no idea how much I would be changing in such a short amount of time.  For me, a lot of this came down to finding a person I could really trust.  I was talking with my co-workers this week and they were saying how they've never gotten an impression of me being quiet or uncomfortable with people I don't know.  I told them that it is really hard for me to trust people.  I've been torn apart so many times in my life in so many ways that I've had to learn how to repair a lot of those scars that are still really visible.  At least to me.  But, I am my own worst critic.  However, I've come so far in the last year and I can only see amazing things ahead of me.  Every day I am a little more willing to put myself out there in ways I never would have even considered before.  I think that is just one thing that proves how much I've changed and grown over the last year.  

So, I was finally willing to fix what was broken inside of me.  And I was finally ready to accept help from one of the most wonderful people I've ever met.  That's why I knew I would find success this time.

What was different last year?  

Short and sweet - last year I didn't believe in myself or that anyone cared much about me.  I've had to come out of that hole that I was in.  Part of that is writing this blog and sharing my story.  If I can help just one person, then I feel like I will have accomplished a goal.  I'd love to help many more.  But I'll start with one.  

What's different now?

I kind of touched on this above.  But, it really is about the people who are in my life these days.  My family, friends (Renee'), co-workers, and many others.  Every day they help me grow a little bit more.  Become a little more comfortable with myself.  And be a little more willing to put myself out there each and every day.  Every single one of you have an impact on my life every day and have helped me become the person I've always known was inside of me.  I love seeing new pieces of it every day.  

The people who are around you in your daily life truly do make a huge impact on who you are as a person.  Make sure you surround yourself with positive people.  I'm so thankful I do.  

Your life is your message to the world.  Make sure it's inspiring.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Make a Change

So, it's about 2 weeks into 2014 and you may have already given up on your resolutions.  I hope not.  But, I know I've been guilty of that many times in the past.  Even if you've slipped up, just keep your mind on the end result.  If it helps, stop calling them resolutions.  Call them goals.

What's the difference?  In my opinion, many times resolutions refer to what you do at the start of the new year and not throughout the year.  On the other hand, goals can be made, achieved, altered, etc at any time of the year.  That's why I've learned to love goals.  They allow you to make changes at whatever pace you are comfortable with.  

When I started the process to completely change my life almost a year ago, my goals were very small.  In fact, my goals have stayed small throughout this whole process.  And I believe they will for a very long time.  Even after I reach my goal weight.  Or once I conquer some of my fears of being in various social situations.  And especially as I keep trying to learn how to cook.  Which, as we all know, is going to take years :)   Just know, as you start to check things off your list, you will feel empowered.  You will feel confidence in yourself that you probably haven't felt in a long time.  I know I do.

So, how do you make a change?

1. One step at a time.
2. Set realistic goals
3. Don't get down on yourself if you slip up or miss a deadline.  Just keep going!  You'll get there eventually.
4. Surround yourself with people who will support you.
5. Celebrate all of your successes, big and small.
6. Reward yourself when you reach a goal - in an appropriate way :)
7. If you have a fitness goal - find a buddy to work out with.  You can keep each other going to the gym.
8. If it's a life changing goal - take small steps.  Break it down into pieces
9. Figure out what works for you.  We are all different but we can all succeed in anything we set our minds to.
10. Don't be afraid to ask for help.  I used to be.  Now, I probably ask more questions than most other people.  But, it's how I learn and grow.
11. Believe that you can do anything!

I am already working on my goals for 2014.  It's been fun so far.  I have been smart enough to break them down into pieces.  I've made some long term and some short term goals.  I have confidence that I will reach most of them.  If I don't, I will reevaluate them, maybe extend my deadline date.  Remember, the deadlines you give yourself are self-imposed.  If you miss one, set a new deadline.  Once you start to see results of any kind, towards any goal, you won't want to go backwards.  You'll want to keep striving to see the end result.  I promise :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014


"Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow'."

Sometimes days and/or weeks don't always work out the way you want them to.  You always start out with the best of intentions, goals, etc.  However, there is sometimes a higher power at work that can make days tough.  That's not a reason to throw in the towel.  It's a reason to do as the above quote says - Try again.  When you want to make happiness a part of your daily life, you will always have to try again tomorrow.  Even if you've had the best day ever, you always have to have courage to say I'm going to try to make tomorrow even better.

I would say 99% of my days and weeks are awesome nowadays.  How many people are lucky enough to say that?  Part of that is my mindset that I am choosing happiness over allowing someone or something else to dictate how I am going to feel.  I definitely had a bit of a down day last week.  But, as my sister-in-law says, I'm human and I'm going to have days like that.  I think it scared me for a minute because I know that is how I used to feel every day and I never want to go back to that.  I've come way to far to go backwards.  But - I am know I won't.  Just because I have a down day doesn't mean I am reverting back to my old self.  It just means I have to have the courage to figure out how I am going to make tomorrow better.  

One of the crazy parts of this for me is that I'm no longer trying to do this by myself.  Last year at this time, I would have medicated my feelings with a ton of candy and hibernated in my house thinking that would make everything all better.  It never did.  Now, even though I wasn't in the best mood (I'm still not 100% sure why...), I still had a good day at work because of how much I love my job and my awesome co-workers.  I went to my workout and just tried to have fun.  Although I was still in a funk, I made the best of the remainder of my day.  When Renee' called me that night, I realized again how much I was not alone in my life anymore.  I've always had my family but, sometimes, you need someone else outside of your family to help you see everything clearer.  I had seen her that afternoon and she told me she could tell just from looking at me that I was in a weird mood.  I wasn't surprised that she could see it.  We talked for awhile and it made me feel so much better.  I have a couple of awesome friends that have always been there for me.  However, I will say that my friendship with Renee' has made me want to be a better friend to everyone I'm around.  In less than a year, she's showed me what being a real friend means.  On top of everything else she's done for me, I can't thank her enough.  But, I don't have to.  And that is an amazing gift in itself.  

A year ago, this kind of day would have lasted for days as I harped on it.  I'm still not real sure why I was in such a funk.  The good news?  I woke up on Friday in a much better mood, had a great day and I've had an awesome weekend.  I'm back to my happy new self and I am even more confident in my ability to maybe not have the best day but come out of it on the other side without too much trouble because I have wonderful people in my life and standing by my side that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.  

Don't let one rough day get you down.  It's not worth it.  There's something good that will come out of it.  Might be a lesson, might be you meeting someone that you were supposed to meet for any number of reasons or something else.  Just know that every day, every moment, has a reason, a purpose.  And tomorrow will always be a better day.  For one reason or another :)  Find your inner strength.  It's the best gift you'll ever give yourself.  I'm still developing mine but every day I am thankful for what I've found and what I know I will continue to find as the days and weeks go on.

"Where there is no struggle, there is no strength"

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Living in the Moment

Enjoy these moments now because they don't last forever.

As I sit here at the age of 33 (really not sure when that happened), I know how true this is.  I'm not sure when I got to be an adult.  Let alone an adult in her mid-30's.  But, over the last year I have learned that I really need to enjoy every moment in my day, week, etc because that moment will never happen again. Something similar might happen, but not in the same way. same place, etc.

For example - 

I am starting to realize how quickly kids grow up.  And I don't even have any of my own!  

My nephew is going to be 6 years old in less than 2 months.  I don't know how that is possible.  I was there the day he was born.  I held him shortly after he was born and was so excited to be an aunt.  I am so lucky that I get to be such a big part of his life.  But, as I look back, I may not have cherished all the little things with him as much as I wish I would have because I never thought time would go by so fast.  I wouldn't trade the little boy he has become for anything in the world.  But, I am definitely living in the moment more and more with him every chance we have to spend time together.  

I feel the same way about my nieces.  One is two and the other will be two in a couple of months.  They are hysterical together and apart.  I love being a big part of their lives and I am definitely treasuring every moment I get to spend with them.  They make me laugh all the time and are two of the sweetest little girls on the planet.  I know they won't be this little forever so every minute we spend together is precious to me.

Time flies when you are in a job you love.

I am now in the middle of my 10th year as a high school guidance counselor.  What?? Where did the last ten years go?  And when did I get old?  I remember starting out in my job at the age of 24, being young, naive and, in some ways, understanding the kids better than my colleagues because I was closer to their age.... :)  As I look back at the years now, I wish I would have stopped to cherish a few more of the moments that make it even more worth it to do my job than the ones that happen on a daily basis.  Today's teenagers get a lot of flack because of cell phones, video games, social media, etc but, the way I look at it, I'm guilty of it too.  I'd be lost without my cell phone.   And I love social media.  There are more awesome kids out there than I think anyone knows.  I love seeing them be successful each and every day and following their dreams.  They give me faith in the future of this world.

When you find yourself, you'll appreciate each day even more.

Now more than ever, I realize that you have to cherish each day.  I let way too many years slip by and I don't have a lot of fun moments to remember because I was too busy harping on what was wrong in my life.  Over the last year, I have learned how to celebrate everything.  Big and small.  I laugh at myself.  I make random comments.  I've discovered I'm actually kinda funny.  At least to some people.  I enjoy being around people.  I work with awesome people and I become more and more thankful for that every day.  They bring out the best in me, listen to me if I get frustrated (which, surprisingly, doesn't happen much these days) and are just fun to be around.  You never know what tomorrow is going to bring so live today to the fullest - you won't regret it - I promise!!

I'm feeling a little nostalgic tonight so this is what you get if you decided to read my blog :)  Not sure why, but it's not a bad thing.  Happens a lot in January because three days out of the month I remember 2 amazing women who had a profound impact on my life.  I miss my grandmas more than I can say but I know they are up in heaven, having a drink and looking down on me and smiling.  Although I know they were always proud of me, I feel like they finally know I'm happy and at peace with myself.  And I have a piece of each of them with me everytime I put my butterfly necklace on, wear my grandma's engagement ring or look at my pandora bracelet and my butterfly charm on there.  By encouraging me to become pen pals with my cousin Mere, my grandma helped me form one of the best friendships I have in my life.  For that, and so many other things, I am eternally thankful.  All of these things and more are reasons I know moments may not last forever, but the memory of them can.  And, sometimes, that is more powerful than the moment itself.

That's how I enjoy every moment.  What about you?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Resolutions/Goals for 2014

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

So, I figure if I write these down, then I have to keep them to the best of my ability, right?  2013 was such a crazy amazing year for me.  When it started, I didn't think it would be.  A month in, I was starting to have a really good feeling.  My goals kept me going throughout the year.  So, I think if I want to have another unbelievable year, I need to have some goals to shoot for.  I'm struggling to come up with some but here's the best I've got -

Reach 100 lbs lost by the end of February
I am so close and I hope it won't take me this long to get there but with how much my weight loss has slowed down (I think I am building more muscle now), I want to give myself time to reach this goal. 

Be able to do at least 5 regular push-ups by the end of March
I hate push-ups.  Partially because I don't have much upper body strength.  However, I have gotten progressively stronger throughout the last year.  I used to not even be able to do 5 push-ups on my knees, let alone entertain the thought of being in the regular push-up position without falling over in the first 5 seconds. So, needless to say, I get excited every time I am able to do one more than I could before.  I am up to 20-25 without stopping to rest.  My arms still get fatigued which is why if I want to do more, I split them up into sets.  I can actually hold the regular push-up position for about 10 seconds now so hopefully I can accomplish this in the next 3 months.  If not, I will keep going until I do :)

Find one or two 5K's to help me train for the 10K that I can run by the end of March
I hate the cold.  Especially right now.  But, just in case it isn't too warm in May (it happens), I need to get outside and run so this is a way for me to force myself to get outside.  I'm thinking about the Heart Mini 5K but I'm going to look closer to me as well and see what I can find.

Find a person (or more) to train by the end of April
I have no idea how I'm going to do this.  If you know someone, send them my way.  Guess I'll figure it out, right??

Run the Flying Pig 10k in May
I really don't think I was 100% ready for the 10K I ran last October.  So, my goal is to run the majority of the 10K in May.  I've been told the course isn't too hilly.  That's a good thing for me!  My biggest goal is to finish with a better time than I had in October.

Run another 10K in September/October (with a better time than May)
For right now, I think 6.2 miles is a good distance for me.  Running isn't my favorite thing in the world but I know it's good for me to do a few times a week.  So, I am going to stick with this distance and just try to get a little faster each time I run a race.

Reach my goal weight by December 31, 2014
This will consist of small goals throughout the year.  Once I hit 181 (100 pounds lost), I will probably go for 10 lb goals.  I am pretty sure I want to be somewhere between 140 and 150.  I think that would be a pretty healthy weight.  But, I'll see how I feel when I get there.  Love that I am saying when, not if.  :)

Plan a fun trip in celebration of reaching my final weight loss goal
I can guarantee this will include a beach somewhere.  Just don't know when or where.  Just a time to celebrate all I've accomplished.  I think I deserve it :)

The last one isn't measurable but I want to keep finding ways to continue becoming more comfortable in different social situations.  Every day I get a little better.  In some ways, I think it's like ripping a band-aid off every time I do something I'm not very comfortable with.  I think this is one of the hardest parts of "me" I have to overcome to completely find the life that I want for myself.  And I will get there.  Just slowly.

Success will be within your reach only when you start reaching out for it

Monday, January 6, 2014

December, Winter Break and More Updates

My motto for 2014: 

The 3 C's of life:
Choices, Chances and Changes.
You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change

I realize I've focused on a lot of quotes and thoughts so I decided it would be a fun to give everyone another update on my life.  I'm sure you're excited...but, I did promise to keep going with my story so that's what I'm going to do.

I didn't lose much weight in December but I did survive the holidays in ways I never thought were possible.  I had a few (three total) days of indulgent eating, managed to go out to eat a couple of times and still not gain any weight.  And I won't lie, I enjoyed the food :)  But, it's funny, I didn't eat anywhere near as much as I used to and I felt so full for so long after eating such different stuff.

I enjoyed going out to lunch, dinner, spending time with friends and family and just being happy.  I definitely didn't feel that way last year.  Or in a lot of the past years.

Christmas was so much fun.  We hung out, ate, opened presents and just enjoyed being together.  I love that my family is so close.  I don't know where I would be without them.  I enjoyed Christmas so much more this year than last year.  I wasn't in tears when I left my parents house and I was so excited for the day and then every day beyond.

One crazy thing that happened over my break from work?  I became a certified personal trainer.  What???  I didn't even really tell many people I was giving it a shot.  I just figured it would be something for me to do and that I might learn something.  Imagine my surprise, at the end of the test, when the final result was a passing score.  I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with the certification but I hope I can find ways to help people who struggle with a lot of the same things I've been lucky enough to overcome.  I can push them and they can push me to keep being at my best.  It's been over a week and I'm still in shock that I passed.

I worked out every day over break and tried to keep myself focused on long term goals.  I am trying to do different workouts, shorter, more intense in an effort to confuse my body.  So far, it appears my body doesn't want to be confused.  And, although I got a little frustrated on New Year's Day, I didn't do what I've done in the past.  I didn't give up or revert back to my old ways and order pizza.  I went in my basement and did a workout.  Know what, I felt better afterwards.  And I realized, I have achieved so much.  I can't let the fact that the scale isn't moving distract me from other goals and accomplishments.  The old me never would have talked my way through that.  I would have found any junk food I could and eaten more than a small army to make myself feel better.  Like always, only a temporary fix.  Now, me talking myself out of a funk and learning to be happy for everything that has happened - a permanent fix.  And it feels amazing.

As I type this, I am enjoying an impromptu 17th day of winter break because of the extreme cold.  I'm loving being curled up under a blanket, on my couch, watching all the shows that I usually record.  At some point (probably tomorrow), I'm going to have to get back on schedule.  But, for now, I am enjoying being relaxed.  The funny part?  The thought of going back to work doesn't stress me out anymore.  Much as I love being off and having free time, I'm looking forward to seeing my co-workers at some point and hearing about their breaks.  I can't remember the last time I was able to say that.

Last year at this time, I did not take any before pictures.  So, as a way to document the start of 2014, I took this picture last week.  I can't wait to see what the year brings and what kind of picture I get to take on January 1st of 2015!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tests and Lessons

In school, you're taught a lesson then given a test.  In life you're given a test that teaches you a lesson.

How true is this?  I mean, think about it.  When you are in school, the idea is that you are constantly learning new things and then being quizzed to find out if you gathered all of the knowledge you are supposed to have.  I was never all that good at that part.  I enjoy learning, for the most part.  But, when someone told me I had to read something, it became much less enjoyable and I probably didn't learn everything I was supposed to get out of the lesson.  Often times, when they test you on something in school, you spit out what you need to get a good grade and you move on.  That's what I did.

Throughout my life, I never realized how much the second part of this quote completely describes life.  If you really think about how many lessons you've learned without even realizing it at first, you'd probably lose count pretty fast.  I know I would.

As I've gone through the last (almost) year and started to see my past, present and future with so much more clarity and purpose, I can see all the lessons that I have learned with all of the things I have experienced even when I didn't know I was learning something.

I've focused enough on my past in this blog.  Suffice to say, everything I've gone through has led me to where I am today.  And, now that I know it is possible to be truly happy and looking towards the future with anticipation rather than dreading it, I am so thankful for all of it.

With that, throughout this past year, there are still tests that I have been given in which I have learned a lesson, or two, or ten about myself and/or the people around me.  At the beginning of the year, there were several situations I experienced at work where I didn't always feel appreciated.  I am one of those people who will always go in and give my all.  I'm always willing to help with anything at any time.  But, as I've mentioned a little bit before, that sometimes bit me in the butt.  Now, as I look at those situations, I realize how much stronger I am because of them.  I learned that not everyone has to like me in order for me to be successful, do my job or just be myself.  I also learned that, no matter what the situation, you should continue to give 100% because it shows your true character.  I would have been mad at myself in those situations if I didn't always do my best.  Also, in the end, I believe it showed (and still shows) the kind of person I am along with my work ethic and values.  And I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.

I have also experienced a couple of frustrations with my weight loss, even though it may not show.  Well, actually, that hasn't happened until very recently.  And, although I have had a few moments where I've gotten down on myself, I talk myself out of my funk and focus on the positive.  I've found that these struggles are teaching me a lesson about going for what I want.  I can't give up.  Sometimes I will have to change my strategy or rethink my goals but I can't focus on what I haven't done.  I'll get there in time.  I HAVE to focus on everything I have done.  I've achieved so much this year.  Weight loss, finding myself, getting a new job that I absolutely love and meeting people that I believe are meant to be in my life for various reasons.  Every achievement and rough patch has taught me so much about myself.  If it doesn't teach me a lesson about something I needed to learn, maybe it helped me realize that I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for.  That is one of the greatest lessons I could ever take away from this test we call life.

I believe by learning these lessons about myself and surviving these tests,  I found so much strength, self-confidence and belief in the world around me.  I saw these this week and I feel they completely describe my life right now.  And forever.

I am so thankful.  Happy 2014 all!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What is Change?

Change.... Such a big word in so many ways.   I mean how else can you describe the events of life for everyone throughout a year?

According to the dictionary, change is defined in a few different ways:
     1.  to make the form, nature, content, future course of, etc. different from what it is or what it would be if left alone.
     2.  to transform or convert
     3.  to substitute another or others for
     4.  to give and take reciprocally
     5.  to transfer from one to another

Okay, so although I think most of these describe what I've done in the past year, the one I feel most depicts my life is the first one. 

 "To make the course of...different from what it is or what it would be if left alone".

If my mom hadn't taken the time to confront me almost a year ago with everything that was wrong with my life, be supportive and just listen to me cry for hours, I don't know where I would be.  In fact, it scares me to think that I could still be that unhappy and just kind of floating my way through life.  So, change is accepting that although I may not always want to hear what my mom has to say, she truly does know me the best of everyone in the world and only wants what is best for me.

I also have a very difficult time imagining my life without Renee's guidance and friendship over the last year and for the rest of my life (because I know she'll be my friend forever).  If I hadn't had the great fortune of having a big brother who loves me more than I think I ever knew, I probably never would have met her and began the adventure I've been for almost a year.  Change is....taking chances, and knowing that everything in life happens for a reason.

I've had so many people be supportive, encouraging and, amazingly, say I've inspired them in some way.  That last one will always seem strange to me.  Change is....making a difference in the lives of other people - even when you don't realize it or think it is possible.

I used to think I was a happy person.  I had no idea how unhappy I truly was.  My heart no longer feels heavy and I don't feel like I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I enjoy my life and I love being truly alive for the first time in a long time.  Change is.....Finding happiness.

Oh, how I hate trying new things.  Whether it's food, meeting new people or just different situations.  If it's uncomfortable for me, I don't want any part of it.  But, if I hadn't been open to all the new things I've experience this year, I wouldn't be in a new job that I love, have met the amazing people I've met and be coming out of my shell at little more each and every day.  Change is.....Being brave.

There's so many amazing adventures available to everyone to experience in life.  I've loved every single one I've been through this year (well, I probably could have done without that whole sushi thing...).  They've all made an impact on the person I am becoming.  Change is....Learning new things.

What do you want to do?  That's a question only you can answer.  Other people can give you advice, tips or share their thoughts but only you truly know what you want out of life.  Sometimes, it will take you awhile to figure it out.  I still am.  But, as I'm figuring out, that's what makes life interesting and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Change is.....Accomplishing goals.

I've finally figured out who I am.  For the most part.  But it's a lifelong process and one that I enjoy a little bit more every day.  Change is.....Finding yourself.

Most of all - change is this: - my journey in a short video :)

Your life is your message to the world.  Make sure it is inspiring.