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Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Purpose of Others in Your Life

If you really think about it, how many people have come in and out of your life?  More than you can count, right?  I know that's the case for me.  As I look back on my life, I actually don't find it all that difficult to remember the majority of the people who have been a part of my life in one way or another.  Of course, I do have a "rainman" kind of memory.  But, that's beside the point.  It is, however, part of the reason why I love this saying - 

A large part of this journey for me has been learning how to let go of all the things in my past that have brought me down for various reasons.  While we may not always want to admit it, there are people out there who will find the need to use you.  Unfortunately, you don't always figure out who those people are until they've already gotten what they want out of you.  I know I have experienced this more than once in my life.  And, for the longest time, I thought I was the person that people just kept around for awhile until I wasn't useful to them anymore.  As I've taken the time  to reflect on all of those situations, people, etc., I now realize all the lessons I learned throughout those time periods in my life.

I think people who test you can have both a positive and negative effect.  At least in my case, they aren't the type of people you necessarily want to have in your life forever.  But, in a way, they can teach you some of the most important lessons you'll ever learn about yourself.  And others. 

The people who teach you.  Wow. Not just your teachers in school.  Your parents, your siblings, your friends, your co-workers, the nice person who greets you with a smile when you walk in a store no matter how crummy of a day they might be having and so much more.  I am a firm believer that every single person you come into contact with teaches you something in one way or another.  Chances are, you won't even realize what they've taught you until much later.  Like me, you'll think back or reflect on your life and then say, 'I didn't realize until right now how much I learned from that moment'.  I've said that to myself more times than I can count as I've reflected on countless encounters with people and learned more lessons than I ever thought possible from my past.

"....But most important are the ones that bring out the best in you. 
Those are the ones worth keeping around."

This is the part of this quote that I fall in love with every time I see it.  Until the last year, I'm not sure I ever truly understood what it feels like to have people around you that bring out the best in you.  And how important it is to have them around and in your life on a regular basis.  

My family - While they have always been there for me - in more ways than I can ever list - I rarely let them get close enough to bring out the good things in me.  I often kept enough distance to protect myself from what I often assumed would be people letting me down or not needing me around for very long.  

Now, I realize I was doing that to protect myself.  I had been hurt so much and so often by so many people that I didn't want to let anyone get too close.  While I still work my way through this on a regular basis, I am here to tell you that it's worth it to let people get close to you.  Honestly, if someone had said that to me a year and a half ago, I would have just nodded my head and said, 'okay' and gone on with my life the way I was living it.  Now, I know I've missed out on so much and I am determined to make up for as much of it as I can.  No matter how long it takes me to get comfortable with it all!  My family will always be by side and I can't begin to say how amazing that feels.

Kim, Mere, Erica, Gretchen (and others I'm sure I am forgetting) - you stuck by me when I didn't really deserve it.  I was trying to alienate people for reasons I still haven't completely figured out.  But, I know it wasn't healthy.  And I am beyond thankful for all of you who listened to me, gave me space when I needed it, comforted me, and just for being incredible friends.  You all are "the ones worth keeping around".  And I look forward to a lifelong friendship with each of you :) You are worth keeping around in more ways than I could ever list.

I can't imagine where I would be without my friendship with Renee'.  I've come to believe that people are brought into your life when you are ready for all the wonderful things they have to offer to you.  And to learn the lessons they will teach you.  She constantly pushes me and, somehow, gives me the confidence to believe I can do so much more than I give myself credit for.  I think it's because I finally allowed her to break through that barrier I had put up around myself.  Well, and she took the time and energy to break it down.  There aren't a lot of people out there who could see through all the pain in my eyes and know that I have a lot to offer the world.  Our friendship is one of those rare gifts in life.  Many people are lucky enough to find that kind of friendship earlier in life.  Apparently, it just wasn't meant to happen that way for me.  And, I used to be bitter about that.  Now, I realize that the right person for that kind of friendship just hadn't entered my life yet.  We can go for days without talking, and then have a conversation about anything and everything for who knows how long.  She is definitely one of the ones worth keeping around.  And she brings out the best in me - all the time - even when she gets out those big colorful balls just so she can laugh with me while I fall over.  

Every person you meet is meant to enter your life for one reason or another.  You may not understand why right now but, in the end, it will all make sense.  Making sense of everything is a long process.  But, it's what makes life worth living.  Finally, I get it.  And I think the smile on my face proves it.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Growth


I was playing around on Pinterest tonight and I saw this quote.  It spoke volumes to me about where I've been in my life and what I'm currently working on figuring out.  

I've been blessed with many great people in my life.  And there are so many more wonderful people I've met this year through my new job, my family and a few other things.  So, I know it seems strange to the people who are new to my life that I've changed so much on the inside as well as the outside.  The weight loss is easy for people to see.  Especially because I love taking pictures and getting excited for myself :) 

The changes on the inside are much harder to see.  But, one thing I know for sure is that the people who know me best constantly comment to me that they can't believe how happy I look and, the best one, that it's like I am a completely different person - in the best ways possible.  I didn't get here overnight.  And I'm still not anywhere close to where I want to be.  That's where this quote comes into play in my life.

Growth is painful - 
We do most of our physical growth as kids and teenagers.  But, I think the first part of this quote is talking more about mental and emotional growth.  The past 15 months have been full of so many positive things, you might think I haven't had very many difficult times.  You'd be wrong.  I go through ups and downs.  Learning how to come out of my shell, try new things, meet new people, etc., is extremely difficult for me.  But, all of this is part of my growth as a person.  There are times when I look at myself and say, 'really Amanda, you're 34 years old, you should really have this figured out by now".  That would be one of the down moments.  Part of my growth has been learning how to snap myself out of these thoughts.  Everyone figures things out in their own time.  It's just taken me a little longer than others.  And, every day I become more and more okay with that.  

Growth doesn't have to be painful.  For me, I think the word uncomfortable might be a better fit.  I'm learning how to grow and do things that are way outside of my comfort zone.  It's hard.  But, everytime I do it, I grow a little bit.  And it isn't as painful as I thought it would be.

Change is painful - 
I believe this includes both physical and emotional change.  The physical part, well, let's just say that in the last 15 months I've discovered body parts I didn't know existed through soreness.  That would be the physically painful part of change.  The emotional part of change is also painful.  I've had to work through so many emotions, feelings of inadequacy, and learn how to love myself.  Let's just say there's been plenty of tears, frustrations and talking myself through more things than I ever thought I would want to figure out.  Each one has been a part of the changes I've made.  And, although painful at times, it's something I've needed to do to work on becoming the person I want to be.

But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don't belong - 
Truer words have never been spoken.  I don't think I realized how much pain I was in until I started to climb out of the parts of my life that were making me so miserable.  The weight loss has given me a new found confidence in being around other people.  But, it's a small piece of that confidence.  Every day I become more and more okay with who I am.  I realize that people actually want to know me, talk to me and find me interesting.  For so long, I never had the confidence to believe that anyone really cared.  I didn't think I mattered to anyone.  I don't write that to make people feel sorry for me.  I write that to tell you that everyone struggles with something but, also, that everyone has a place in the world.  For some of us, it takes a little longer to figure out what that place is and to find the confidence to live life.

Every day I struggle with doing things that are uncomfortable.  But, I also never knew I could be as happy as I am today.  I believe before I met Renee' I was stuck somewhere that I didn't belong.  It just took the right person to help me see things about my life and myself in general that I couldn't see on my own.  We talk often about my life and putting myself out in the world (which she knows is really hard for me).  Although my stomach may be in knots when she gives me things to do that are hard for me, I know I need to do take the steps.  And, somehow, she makes me believe that taking the steps won't be as hard as I've created them to be in my mind.  And, she's right.  Every time I make a decision to try something new, I feel like a new person.  Like I've taken a step in the right direction.  And like I am finally stepping away from that place I don't belong in and finding my way to being happy. 

Figuring all of this out has been and continues to be a large part of this journey for me.  I am so thankful for the friendships I've made and for the confidence they've helped me find in myself.  For taking the time to be my friend and show me that I have so much to offer the world.  Being included is something I haven't felt a lot in my life.  To have that feeling now is truly priceless. I can't describe it any other way.  Thank you :) 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Learning How to Live - Part 2

Well, I promised I would write another entry on my weekend and getting out of my routine.  So, for anyone who was interested, here goes :)

For anyone who may be confused as to why this is necessary, if you haven't already figured it out, I don't like to be in situations where I don't know people, I rarely go places by myself where I might have to talk to someone I don't know and I am a creature of habit and routine.  I like to know what's going to happen and when.  I am a planner at heart but I can also go with the flow without much of a problem.  Oh, and I love to be in my pajamas.  Especially on Sundays.

So, after my most recent conversation with Renee', I realized I needed to make an effort to not do what I normally do every weekend.  I needed to just get out of my house.  Last weekend I hardly left my house and I could feel how little energy I had - I mistook that for being relaxed.  In reality, I hadn't had contact with anyone in 2 days (except Special Olympics practice for an hour on Saturday) other than text messages.  Don't feel bad for me - it was my choice and I was completely okay with it.  Until I got in trouble.  And started to feel guilty for laying on the couch on a gorgeous day.  

On Saturday, I really had to think of things I could do to be out of my house.  The good thing?  I had a few things already planned so I just had some time to fill.  I ran in a 5K that morning.  The first time I've run an entire 5K.  And I did it by myself!  The only person there that I knew was the person organizing the entire event.  I actually said a few words to someone while I was waiting at the start line.  That's a huge improvement for me.  When I finished the race in 32 minutes, I was shocked.  In a good way.  It started my day off on a great note :)  After the race I went home, showered and, instead of planting myself on the couch (that's what I would normally do), I went to get my nails done.  I needed to get the shellac stuff taken off and decided to get a manicure while I was there.  I had the shirt from the race on and someone sat down next to me and started talking to me.  I actually spoke to her!  We had a good conversation.  Anyone who knows me well would be shocked that I actually had a conversation with someone I had never met.  Made me feel pretty proud of myself!

I made myself go to Panera, get lunch and sit outside all by myself.  I did play on my phone most of the time but at least I went somewhere and ate by myself!  The afternoon was busy with Special Olympics practice and renewing my first aid.  I did a few more errands afterwards and, by the time I got home, it was 615.  Other than taking a shower, I hadn't spent any time at my house all day!  Success!  And, although I was tired, I felt a weird kind of energy.  I was happy and I was proud of myself.  I enjoyed spending the rest of the night on the couch in my pjs.  But, I think I earned it!

Sunday I had every intention of going and sitting at Starbucks for awhile at some point in the day but that didn't end up happening.  I met a friend to buy a new phone and switch providers.  It took a little longer than I thought and I had things I needed to do at home.  So, although I spent most of the day at home, I was not being lazy, I didn't take a nap and I didn't change into my pjs until 630.  That's a step in the right direction for me :)  

Living my life is going to be a new part of this journey for me.  Although I have more confidence, I'm still not always real comfortable in my own skin.  At times, I have trouble seeing what I have to offer the world and it boggles my mind that people want to talk to me, get to know me and hear my story.  I spent so many years just assuming that there wasn't much that was special about me and that I was better off blending into the background. 

As you can probably guess, when you've spent the majority of your life living that way, change doesn't happen overnight.  It's been almost 15 months since I started this incredible adventure and I know I am nowhere near done.  I'm still working on the weight loss and, although it was the catalyst for starting all of this, it's no longer my primary focus.  I need to figure out how to get myself out among the living.  I am so much better than I was a year ago but I still have so much more to do.  Every day I am thankful for the people and friendships that have helped me and will continue to help me push myself and figure this out.  I couldn't do this without all of you and knowing you have my back 100% of the time :)

"Don't compare yourself to others.  
Compare yourself to the person from yesterday."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Learning How to Live

Live Your Life.  

Although maybe not that exact phrase, I've heard that sentiment often during my 34 years.  In many respects, the first years of life are decided for you.  I'm even bold enough to say that your teenage years are, in some ways, decided for you based on your interests, your peer group(s), where you go to school, the kind of family support you have, etc.  Most of us who have been blessed enough to go to college also know that, as those years go on, you finally start to figure out who you are.  Even if you don't attend college, those late teenage / early twenties years are a crucial part of the path you find yourself on as you enter adulthood.  You tend to separate yourself from your childhood, sometimes the friends you grew up and we all learn (some of us slower than others) that we can live on our own.  

I think the idea of living your life might be the hardest as you enter your young adult years.  I can't count the number of books, articles, and just random stuff that I've read about trying to figure out this thing we call life.  As I've said before, I'm not the most outgoing person in the world.  Unless you take the time to get to know me.  then you'll find that I'll talk your ear off.  Throughout the last year or so, I've gotten much better about talking to people in various situations but it is still really hard for me. 

For so many years, I've lived vicariously through my friends, my brother and sister and just people I could be myself with.  When I wasn't with my family or a couple of close friends, I was pretty much by myself, laying on the couch, watching TV.  Ever since I moved out of my parents house in 2006, most of my Saturday nights and Sundays have been spent cleaning, maybe working out (that has, obviously, increased over the last year) and then curling up on the couch to watch TV and fall asleep.  Not the most eventful or productive way to spend your late 20's and early 30's.  That's when most people are out experiencing the world, traveling, hanging out in bars, meeting new people, etc.  Not me.  

First, I will say, anyone who knows me would say that bars and dance clubs are not my thing.  A big piece of that is because I wasn't comfortable with who I was.  Inside and out.  Also, it's just way out of my comfort zone to be amongst this gigantic group of people I don't know, pretend they aren't there and just dance around like a fool.  Not that all of you that do that are fools...but, I think you get what I mean :)  You're comfortable enough with yourself to not worry about what other people think.  Not me.

Second, it's always been hard for me to make friends.  Many people would say, well, I met a lot of my friends at my job or in high school / college.  Long story short, college wasn't the greatest experience for me and I definitely did not leave there with lifelong friends.  Same with high school.  When I started working, I made a couple of friends but when people are already married and you have trouble with self-esteem, you often feel like the third wheel, even when no one even remotely tries to make you feel that way.

I got to a point where it was just easier to keep to myself.  I didn't have to venture outside my little bubble and I could put on a brave face and pretend to everyone that I was happy.  My family often encouraged me to "get out there" but, through no fault of their own, I don't think they understood how difficult that was for me.  My sisters would try to include me when they went out for girls night.  Sometimes I would go.  But, I was the person always staring at the clock, wondering when we could leave and trying to just blend in to the background.   Eventually, I just started not going with them because I was so uncomfortable.  But, keeping to myself is what got me into the position I was in a little over a year ago.  

So, why am I writing all of this?  Well, over the last year I've been so blessed with the people and opportunities that have been a big part of my life and all the changes I've been able to make.  All for the better.  When Renee' and I have conversations, whether they are over the phone or in person, there's a deeper meaning behind almost everything we talk about.  And I usually end up thinking about lots of different things for awhile afterwards.  That's the point, right?  Except when I bring up those big colorful balls that I love to hate ;)  But, I'm getting sidetracked.  

What kind of meaning, exactly?  Well, it's hard to explain.  Every conversation we have makes me think about my life, choices that I made/make and just happiness in general.  I think this is just part of the reason we are such good friends.  She brings things out of me that no one else has ever been able to find.  She knows that, to this day, I still spend a lot of time alone.  I struggle with forcing myself to go out in the world and be social.  Renee' tries to encourage me but I'm still pretty good at that whole excuse thing.  I never really related it to living my life.  I thought I was good - I'm pretty good at fooling myself...

After a recent conversation with Renee', I think I'm finally starting to get it.  Not saying it has made going out in public and being around strangers any easier but, at the age of 34, I think I am finally willing to try.  Slowly.  It might seem weird to the average person but, for me, I've needed someone to push me and help me see that it's okay to go sit somewhere by myself.  That just because I'm sitting there doesn't mean I have to talk to people I don't know.  I just need to be out among the living.  Instead of sleeping on my couch at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon.  Yes, that happens almost every week...

This weekend was my first test of pushing myself to do things I don't necessarily want to do.... things that are out of my routine.  And we all know how much I love my routines.... feel free to make predictions on how you think it went,and how much effort I actually put in to finally "living my life" at the age of 34. I'll share the summary with anyone who is interested in my next entry :)

In the meantime, what does "Live Your Life" mean to you?  Think about it - I bet it will cause you to reevaluate some things in your life.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Brave, Strong, Smart and Loved


This speaks volumes to me.  Although I have changed by leaps and bounds over the last year, I definitely still have days and moments when I struggle with various things.  I'm human.  And just like everyone else, there are imperfections or things about myself I wish I could change.  But, when I really stop and think about it, I shouldn't want to change those things.  They make me who I am, the reason my nephew and nieces practically run me over when I walk in the door, the reason I have so many amazing friends and so much more.  

I am not what one would consider a brave person.  But, if I look back, I probably am a lot braver than I think I am.  I've mentioned many times before that I do not like change and I really really struggle with new and/or uncomfortable situations.  However, over the last year or so, I have ventured out and done things I never thought I would do.  I have taken some chances on things that are scary to me and, honestly, I wouldn't change one of them.  I've met some great people, made some new friends, almost completed a year in a new job that I am so happy and thankful for, and sorta learned how to cook.  

All of those things and more are the reasons people would probably say I'm stronger than I think.  I will say I know without a doubt that I am physically much stronger than I was a year ago.  But, I don't think that is what this refers to.  I think it is related to inner strength.  To an outsider, heck, to myself, I may not seem like that strong of a person.  Probably because I am so quiet and reserved (until you get to know me).  But, I know, for a fact, I have so much strength inside me.  I wouldn't have become the person I am today without strength.  I wouldn't be able to laugh hysterically at myself  if I weren't strong.  And, I wouldn't be willing to try so many new things if I didn't have strength inside me.  It takes awhile to build it up.  I'm still working on it and I know I will be for a long time.  But, I will say, every ounce of strength you discover will make your life that much happier.  I know mine is!

Smarter than I think ... yeah, I guess that's true.  I don't give myself enough credit for being able to do things, especially cooking or fitness related.  I'm not sure that necessarily relates to being smart as much as it does to confidence.  But, I know that when I take the time to really think things through and believe that I can accomplish something, I find I am much smarter than I believe and I can do a lot more than I ever thought I could.  And every time it happens, it's an amazing feeling!

Loved more than I'll ever know.... 14 months ago I would have just nodded my head and said, yeah, okay without believing you.  I just didn't think anyone had a reason to love me or even really like me. Now, I see the looks of love and pride on the faces of my family and friends.  And I know that my family loves me.  I questioned that 14 months ago.   My friends and family have made all the difference in what I've been able to accomplish since I started on this journey to find myself.  Happiness and love shines through my smile, my face, my eyes.  After so many years of not seeing that happiness, here's just a sample of what it can look like:

 Trying to take a picture every month so I can see differences in myself - Here's April's :) 

The 3 loves of my life.  I can't begin to explain how much happiness they bring to my life.

Take chances.  Know that you have so much strength inside you.  That you are braver than you ever thought possible and you'll always have people who love you.  Lean on them when you need to and they will make the best friends for you throughout your life.  These are things I work on every day.  But it's worth it.  Especially when you find happiness.  The greatest gift you will ever give yourself.  

Sometimes we are tested.  Not to show our weaknesses, 
but to discover our strengths.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Last Year on This Day

I really do have a memory of steel.  Or something that holds a lot of useful and useless information.  Sometimes it's a curse but, most of the time, it's a blessing.  One, because hardly anyone ever argues with me about things that happened in the past.  Two, it allows me to remember so many amazing things in my life.  And three, as I've gone through so many life changes over the last 14 months, I can remember so many of them even though I didn't write much of what happened throughout that time frame down (until I started writing this blog).

Many of you see my posts on Facebook, about the things I've been able to do fitness wise that I never imagined I would be able to do in my wildest dreams.  Keep in mind, I'm a very different person from who I was even last April.  I was still really uncomfortable in my own skin and trying new things was like the scariest thing on earth to me.

A year ago today, Renee' somehow convinced me to go to my first boot camp.  Now, when she first made the suggestion that I come, it was just to observe (and to watch my brother and sister get tortured a little - ahhh, sibling love).  The thought never entered my mind that I would do anything but stand there and blend into a corner.  However, about halfway through the day, Renee' and I were texting and she said, feel free to jump in and try some of the stuff if you want.  My thought?  Oh lord.  Really?  I tried to make up an excuse of, oh, I'll be late and I'll have to change my clothes, etc.  We left it at maybe I would try a couple of things... I should have known better than to think that would be all that would happen...

I got there and, of course, she told me to go get changed.  I didn't have a reason not to, so I did.  I wasn't exactly a fan of moving from the spot I was standing in.  Took some coaxing, but I moved.  A little.  I didn't speak throughout most of what she made me do.  Not mad, it's just really hard for me to open up in front of a group of people.  Especially when I don't know them.  There were some bands involved and a physioball behind my back to do some squats.  I think I did some walking lunges as well.

Fast forward a year and I get excited to go to boot camp.  I actually speak to people on my own (although I'm still pretty quiet and try to blend in as best I can).  I can do more of the exercises than I ever imagined I'd be able to do a year ago.  I still have a long ways to go.  There are some things that I see others do that I can only hope I will one day have the strength to do.  I'm still working on my confidence level with a lot of the different equipment and exercises.  I can probably do more than I believe I can.  I'm sure Renee' thinks I can do more than I think I can.  And she's usually right.  She's tricky like that.  But, she also knows when and how much to push me.  It's funny how someone I've only known for a little over a year understands me that well.  We're friends.  And it's a bonus that she's so smart about all this fitness and food stuff :)

Just yesterday we had a 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 day.  And, unbelievable as it might be (to me and anyone reading this), I was the first one finished.  Along with my sister.  Who is much stronger than me.  And in much better shape.  Huh?  I have no idea when or how that happened!  Oh, and I had to prove the whole push up thing to Renee' finally.  I did it - whew! :)  And now, my arms are sore.  But it's a good feeling - except when I try to dry my hair :)

It's fun to look back and see how far I've come.  Celebrate every success because every step forward is one closer to your goals.  All the changes I've made are the result of a lot of hard work (and patience from a certain someone) but it's been worth every minute of exercise, every trip to the grocery store (for the most part), every google search for recipes, every mistake I've made along the way and all the success, happiness and peace I've found in my life.

Determination Today = Success Tomorrow



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Making a Commitment

I've had many people ask me, "How do you keep going"?  Or, "I've tried so many different things and nothing works, how does it work for you?

The answer, at least for me, comes in one word - Commitment.  I saw this quote tonight and thought it would be perfect to blog about.


When I first started this whole life changing journey, I had to make a pretty big decision.  I had to decide that I was going to commit to whatever I needed to do to make a better life for myself.  I've said before that my brother talked to Renee' about me before I met her and that I have no idea what he said.  And it doesn't matter.  The one thing he did tell me - she wanted to hear from me that I wanted to make some changes.  Honestly, that was the first best thing she could have done for me.  Notice I said first, as there are many more than I could ever list.  When I made this decision and knew I would stick to it, it changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined.  

In the past, I've always said I want to lose weight or I want to be healthy but it was fleeting interest.  I never made a commitment to a lifestyle.  For years I'd heard people say, it's a lifestyle change.  I didn't want to believe it.  After all, I'd lost weight before without making a complete lifestyle change.  Oh, wait a minute, I always gained all the weight back, plus some.  And, I wasn't happy.  Or healthy.  Or in shape.  Or a lot of things.  So, I guess lifestyle change is actually correct.  Why?  Because now, I don't just eat healthy when it's convenient.  Or work out when I have the time.  It's a priority.  I bring healthy snacks with me almost everywhere I go.  I look at restaurant menus ahead of time. If I don't think I'll have time to work out, I try to do 10 minutes of body weight exercises in the morning.  And, yes, even I have to get up early to do them.  Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am not a morning person.  So, that should say a lot about the commitment I've made to this lifestyle change.

Results.  That can be interpreted in so many ways.  Yes, there's the obvious, the number on the scale, smaller clothes, etc.  But, the results I've learned to focus on are those that maybe aren't so noticeable to the outside world.  I can run.  Actually run.  Not fast.  But, I don't think I can remember a time I would have called myself a runner.  I can play baseball outside with my nephew for over an hour and not be tired or want to go inside and sit down.  I can do 100 of those darn tricep knee pushups - in sets of 20.  When I first started doing them I could barely do 10 at one time.  I can lift more than a 5 lb dumbbell.  I can do 5 real push ups (one of these days, I have a feeling I'm going to have to prove it...).  And so much more that I couldn't possibly list it all.  But, my most important result?  Happiness.  

You have to make the decision to commit to making a better life for yourself.  I know some people might say, well, that's easy for her, she doesn't have kids and multiple schedules to worry about.  And, in a way, you're right.  However, I have a lot of other things to overcome and worry about as I move through life.  Even if I did have a family, I believe I would just simply find the time to make myself a priority.  That might mean I would only get to workout 5 days a week instead of 7.  Or that I would have to get up earlier and work out before my family got up for the day.  I know my sister does that.  There are ways to make it work.  You just have to figure out what works for you.  As I said above, I am not a morning person.  So, I make the commitment that I am going to go to the gym every day after work.  And, I would say, 98% of the time, I stick to that promise to myself.

I would make healthy eating a priority for my family.  I've seen that it is possible to train your kids to eat healthy food.  My nephew and nieces eat fruit/veggies with every meal.  They love salad.  And peppers.  And raisins.  And yogurt.  And so much more.  And, typically, they get only one treat every day.  Heck, I even have them all convinced that york peppermint patties and dark chocolate are treats.  You know, more of that healthy stuff!

If you truly want to make changes that will make your life better (in any way, not just fitness or weight related), just be willing to make a commitment.  Once you do, it won't be hard to stick with it.  I think that is one of the most important lessons I've learned throughout this adventure.  And one I learn more about as each day goes by.