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Monday, September 29, 2014

When Your Story Doesn't Make You Cry....

"When you can tell your story and it doesn't make you cry, 
you know you have healed"

This whole blog is about my story.  The good and bad times.  The struggles and triumphs.  And there have been times it has been a little more difficult than you might think to write.  I love writing.  It's very healing for me.  I'm not the best at talking about myself, expressing how I feel, etc off the top of my head.  I often struggle to figure out why things bother me, why I'm upset and/or the reasons behind my feelings and emotions.  So, writing this blog gives me the opportunity to think about what I want to say and what it means to me.  Maybe even what I've learned from different experiences.  But, as I write these entries, it takes me a long time to really think about what I want to say.  It might be surprising to learn this, but, at times, it's been difficult to write about some of this journey.  Experiencing depression, difficulties I've had throughout my life, feeling lost in many ways and, eventually trying to find my place in the world.  Those aren't easy things to write about.  Especially when you work in the mental health field.  Many people think when you have that kind of a career you should have this all figured out.  Well, I can speak from experience that nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, many people get into this field because they want to help people who need assistance to get through the difficult spots in life.  Be a light to someone in ways they've struggled to find themselves.  

I am very blessed, I have an amazing family.  My parents are the best people in the world and my brother and sister are truly my best friends in the entire world.  Sounds cheesy, right?  Well, it's true.  But, at the same time, I've had my struggles with finding my place with all of them.  And, it took me almost 33 years to finally come to the conclusion that I couldn't do everything on my own.  That I needed help in many ways.  I needed someone who didn't really care who I was related to and wanted to learn about me as a person to help me see how amazing I can be.  And, yes, I am actually describing myself that way.  Rare occurrence.  I never would have used that word to describe myself 2 years ago.  Or anything even remotely close to amazing.  My friendship with Renee' is one of the greatest blessings I've ever received in my life.  She has helped me figure out so much about myself.  Simply just by asking me questions I never would have asked myself.  Or had the courage to figure out the answers to.  I work on it every day.  And, I feel a little stronger every day.

So, one would think, hey this girl has an amazing family, a job she loves, good friends, etc, how could her story possibly make her cry?  Well, to keep it short, a lot of it is internal.  It's how I see myself and how I believe others see me.  It's my insecurities about who I am and my trust issues with people I let into my life.  It takes a long time to knock down the walls I have built up around myself.  It's my protection.  But, I do think I've let the walls get a little weaker and a little shorter over the last year and a half.  In my book, that's success.  When people ask me what got me started on this adventure, I can open up and tell people about the depression without being embarrassed or wanting to crawl in a hole and hide.  I used to just say, oh, I knew I wasn't healthy and that I needed to lose weight.  It was the easy out.  Now, there's a smile on my face most days of the week that I never knew existed.  My story makes me smile.  And feel so incredibly proud of myself and all I've overcome and accomplished.  It gives me strength each and every day in ways I didn't know was possible.  It may sound crazy, but, my story has actually given me the ability and the power to find happiness.  Because I know what the alternative is and what it feels like.  And I know, for certain, that I never want to go back there.  

"Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come.  Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won 
and all the fears you have overcome."

I work on that every day.  And I've started to believe I am capable of this one - 

"Stand in front of your past and let it be."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Emotional Side of Weight Struggles

I was watching The Biggest Loser the other night and this entry just started formulating in my head.  At the end of last season, the show got a bad rap for how far the winner went to win.  And, I shared the viewpoint of many.  But, if you look at the big picture, the show has helped millions change their lives.  Yes, the people who are contestants on the show.  But, also those who are inspired by seeing the success these people find.  I used to sit and watch the show and think, man, I wish I could do that.  There were times I would be trying to lose weight while watching it and others when I would sit there with a bag of M&M's and think that maybe, just maybe, someday I'll figure this out.  I knew I was eating out of boredom.  And for comfort.

It's been almost 20 months since I started an adventure to change my life.  And, I've been successful.  For the first time ever, I am figuring out why I turn to food for comfort.  And other ways I can cope without turning to food.  I believe I watch this show from a very different perspective now.  I am no longer the one who wishes she could lose the weight.  I'm the one who understands where these people are.  And the success and happiness they have the ability to find.  

I'm lucky.  I have access to someone with endless knowledge about food, fitness, nutrition and, well, honestly, someone who figured me out long before I figured myself out.  Support is huge in this process.  Not everyone has that.  And that's often why people don't find success with weight loss.  I know it's why I struggled for most of my life.  

The other reason people often struggle with weight loss?  The emotional piece.  I believe this is a much bigger piece than who or what resources you have access to for assistance.  As I watched the show this week, it was evident that many of the contestants were being challenged about what got them to the place they are now.  Indirectly, I was asked the same question when I started my journey.  I was asked questions that made me think.  That made me really try to get inside my own head and figure out why food was such a comfort for me.  Obesity has a huge mental component to it.  It leads to many physical ailments but the mental piece is often what leads you to that place.  

I know that was the case for me.  Food was, quite simply, always there.  Nothing else was.  Don't get me wrong, I am extremely blessed with the most amazing family.  But they've never really understood why eating made me feel better.  How could I expect them to understand if I didn't have it figured out?  My triggers definitely center around not feeling important.  And whether or not I matter to anyone besides my family.  At times, I wondered if I mattered to them.  Those triggers were becoming more and more frequent in my life.  And, while I didn't enjoy it, I didn't know how to stop it.  

To be successful in finding health, you have to be willing to work on yourself.  You have to be willing to make a commitment to making smarter decisions for yourself (and your family).  It's not easy.  Even when you get to a point where you are happy with your weight, the work is far from over.  It's a lifestyle change.  It has to be.  If you look around, it's easy to eat junk.  It's cheap, it's quick and usually tastes good.  But, what about what you're doing to the inside of your body?  It may not affect you now.  But, it will in the future.  No one can make you do something you don't want to do.  Or something you aren't ready to commit to.  I had reached a breaking point.  I needed to make a change or who knows what would have happened.  It's a decision I continue to make every day.  And, some days are better than others.

Finding happiness is a lifelong process.  It's something I work on every day.  Whatever my weight is on any given day, it does not equal happiness.  Every day I make a choice to keep looking and striving for the life I want to have.  Honestly, I still don't have a real clear picture of what it is I'm looking for.  But, I have figured out that I have to step out among the living to figure it out.  And, finally, I'm ready to do it.  It's been an extremely slow process.  Especially for those who have been there forever.  I have trust issues.  That makes it difficult to open up to people.  My invisible scars hide a lot of pain that I've experienced in my life.  I've been, for lack of a better word, screwed by lots of people I thought were my friends.  I believe I finally have a good balance of people in my life. Full of support when I need it, ass kicking when I need it and, most importantly, full of belief in me and the person that I am becoming and will continue to grow into as the years go on.  My triggers, trust issues and insecurities still surface.  More often than I'd like them to.  I told my sister last week that they are the one thing I hate about myself.  She stopped me and said, you can't hate anything about yourself.  Everything about you is a piece of you. Makes you who you are.  Inside and out.  Those words gave me perspective.  Sometimes you just need to talk to someone who will listen with an open mind, not judge and help you see things in a way you couldn't find on your own.  It changed the way I thought about what I was struggling with at the time.  And, I ended up feeling much more like myself after the conversation and ever since.   

"Desperation to lose weight might bring you to the start..... but knowing your why will keep you going."

Concentrate on finding your goal, then concentrate on reaching it.

My "Why" is Health and Happiness :)  And I know I am on my way to finding both :) 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Happiness, Confidence and Chances

The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are.  The second greatest is being happy with what you find.

As I continue on this journey we call life, I have my difficult times just like anyone else.  The last few weeks have been a little challenging for me, as I wrote about last week. Throughout this entire process, I've had to do more soul searching than I ever thought I would feel the need to do.  What motivates me?  Who do I want to be?  What do I want out of my life?  

The weight loss was a gigantic first step for me.  It has allowed me to feel confident about myself.  I don't mean that weight loss is the only way to find confidence in yourself because nothing could be further from the truth.  But, for me, it's been a huge piece of finding that confidence.  Honestly, I've never been comfortable in my own skin.  There are things I've always wanted to do, to try but I always felt that my weight was a huge barrier to experiencing different things in life.  Because I couldn't understand why anyone would want to be around a girl who couldn't figure out why food was such a comfort which led to not taking good care of herself.  Which, of course, leads to that whole depression thing and not wanting to be around others because you don't see what you bring to the lives of those you encounter.  This is something I still struggle with on a daily basis.  Because I have so many insecurities and trust issues from being burned in my past, I question people and their motives.  Then I question myself.  Granted, it happens much less often than it used to which I am oh so thankful for.  I have a confidence I never knew existed.  But I'm still building it and figuring out who I am step by step.  At times, I wish that process could be a hell of a lot faster.  After all, I'm 34.  Most people don't think they will still be figuring all of this out in their mid-thirties.  

One thing that has helped me immensely is being able to talk to other people about where I am at and how I am feeling.  I am enormously guilty when it comes to bottling things up inside of myself.  I mean, if I bury them deeply enough, they won't affect me, right?  Wrong!  Eventually it leads to an explosion of emotion that I don't always know how to handle.  My sister is, quite literally, my best friend in the world.  Of course we have our disagreements but there isn't anyone out there who gets where I come from more than she does.  We grew up together and she has always been there for me in ways I can't even describe.  And, through a great conversation with her this weekend, I realized a few things and felt so much better about where I am heading in life.  My cousin Mere is another one of those people in my life who seems to just get me.  We were able to finally have some catch up sessions over the last few days and, to be honest, I have absolutely no idea how long we talked on the phone. We are cut from the same cloth and she helps me see things in ways I don't think I could on my own.  

So, to answer the questions I asked at the beginning of this - 

1. What motivates me?
My family.  Some people may find it strange that I am with my family so much.  My nieces and nephew are my whole world.  And, I'm pretty certain, they love Aunt Mimi in ways I don't even realize.  When they run up to me and give the greatest hugs every time I see them, it just melts my heart.  And makes me so grateful that we live so close to each other.  My parents, my brother, my sister and, of course, their spouses, are also amazing blessings in my life.  I want to be happy and healthy for them.  But, most importantly I want to be happy and healthy for myself.

2.  Who do I want to be?
Ya know, I'm still figuring this one out.  And I know it's going to be a process.  And, every day, I become more okay with that.  I just know I want to be happy and find people to share my life with.  That might mean a great group of friends or it might mean a future husband.  

3. What do I want out of my life?
Pretty simple - happiness.  But, when you think about it, that's a huge task.  I know I am going to have days and times where I feel down.  And that's okay.  Everyone goes through times like that.  But, I want the happy times to far outweigh the sad times.  And, I know I am well on my way to making that happen.  

This week, my friend Kira invited me to go to church with her.  I went to church growing up but, honestly, I never really connected with it.  So, as I've grown older, I've just stepped away from it.  In some ways, I do believe I've been mad at God for quite awhile.  Because I didn't think my life was what I wanted.  So, this was a huge step for me.  Something completely different from the way I was raised and with people I don't really know.  I really enjoyed it.  And I will go back.  Maybe not every week.  Or, maybe I will.  While these may seem like small things, these types of steps are huge for me.  They are evidence of how much I've grown and how far I've come in a relatively short amount of time.  

Realizing that I have a lot to offer to the people I encounter in this life is an amazing gift.  
And I look forward to all the steps I will keep taking.  No matter how difficult it is.  And, if you know me at all, they will be difficult but necessary steps and changes in my life.


Love yourself first and everything else falls in line.  You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

They Can't All Be Wrong...

The past week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.  Not necessarily in a bad way.  Just a lot of things bouncing around in my brain because of some very legitimate questions that were raised to me.  

I am definitely the kind of person that internalizes things, pushes them down and just, in general, tries to not deal with or face things that are difficult or uncomfortable.  It's always been "easier" for me to just pretend like difficult stuff doesn't exist.  Then I don't have to face it.

That's what got me to the point I found myself in January of 2013.  I used food to medicate and make myself feel better whenever I was struggling.  One of the realizations I came to over the last week is this: "I don't really know who I am if I'm not struggling with my weight".  That may sound crazy.  And believe me, it's taken me a very long time to come to that realization.  Weight has always been a struggle for me.  It has defined my life for as long as I can remember.  I was on my first "diet" when I was 11.  And, I was successful at losing weight.  But, I never stuck with it.  After all, how does an 11 year old stick with a "diet"?  And, so, I gained it all back plus some.  So began the lifelong process of yo-yo diets, losing weight and feeling good about myself, gaining it all back (plus some) and being mad at myself, etc.  This cycle has continued for 20 years.  

When I first acknowledged that there was a significant issue that I actually needed to address, I felt lost.  I didn't know where to start but I figured my health and weight were a good place to begin.  Having someone from the outside step in, take an interest in me, my health and my goals and actually ask me about more than my weight was the first step.  But, as I usually do, I was immediately focused on the weight piece.  Because, it's something I can see, progress is easy to define and I don't really have to do anything too scary to work on it.  (Unless the grocery store counts...)  I can't count the amount of time Renee' spent pushing me to do things I didn't want to do.  Well, I think, deep down, I wanted to do them but was scared to death.  Finally understanding, accepting and believing that I had people to turn to made it just a little easier to take those steps each time.  

And, although, I've made more progress than I could ever write about, I'm still struggling.  I need to figure out who I am without weight issues.  What defines me.  I got lazy the last couple of months.  And, deep down, I was probably sabotaging myself in some way.  Going back to what I've always done.  Even though I don't want to go backwards.  I needed a kick in the ass.

Ask and you shall receive.  Just maybe not in the most up front way.  People can be tricky.  In good ways.  If I want to be healthy, I have to do it for myself.  No one can do it for me.  For me, being healthy is both the physical and the mental/emotional.  I need to find something that defines me.  I have several things that I love about my identity but I feel like there's something big missing.  Something that is just me.  And I'm not sure what that is or could be.  So, I've decided that is my next goal.  To figure it out.  To take small steps that require me to step out of my comfort zone even more than I already have.  One of my biggest struggles has always been believing I have something to add to a friendship, relationship, etc.  I've never believed in myself or what I have to offer.  So, that makes it difficult to find your place in the world.

As a good friend said this week, "I get exactly what you're saying.  You've conquered the weight loss, now what?".  Exactly.  Maybe that would include selling something, trying to figure out a way to use the personal training certification I worked towards to help others.  What else could it be?  I have no idea.  But, I do know I am so much more open to things than I was a year and a half ago.  

15 years ago, I never would have dreamed that at the age of 34 I'd still be figuring out this thing we call life.  Just goes to show you that you grow and change throughout your life.  My aunt is one of the smartest and most intuitive people I know and I am so lucky she is my family and one of my best friends.  And, when she said to me earlier this week "Have fun and be happy.  You are special! One day, you'll believe it.  You are loved by many and we can't all be wrong", it was exactly what I needed.  It's going to take me awhile to completely figure myself out.  And, I will need some help along the way.  But, there's nothing wrong with that.  If you're afraid to ask for help or guidance, you may never find all that's available in the world for you to experience.  

Life is scary.  But, when you accomplish things, it's an unbelievable feeling.  One that I want to keep experiencing.  

You make each day a special day.  You know how, by just your being you. 
- Mister Rogers