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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Incredible Change

"Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't." -- Steve Maraboli

If you've been following my story at all, you know that the last 21 months have been full of incredible change for me.  Some was easy but, for the most part, it's been a difficult process.  It's crazy how set in my ways I was at 32 (and still am to an extent at 34).  Weird how much I've changed in less than 2 years in so many positive ways.  Amazing how many incredible people I've been blessed enough to meet and have in my life simply by opening myself up to the possibilities that are there when you take a chance to make your life better.

My incredible aunt sent me the quote above.  You'd think with how much I love quotes that I would have seen them all by this point.  But, I've never seen this one until she sent it and I love it.  I like to be in control.  I think we all have a piece of that in us.  But, for some, it matters more.  Or is more a part of who they are as people.  I think I fall somewhere in the middle.  At least now.  I can honestly say that wasn't the case 2 years ago.  I needed to have control over everything possible because I couldn't control what was happening inside me.  Or, I didn't want to have to try to figure out what was wrong with me so it was easier to try to control everything on the outside.  Or, so I thought.

Imagine my surprise when, as I started to find some self-worth, controlling things on the outside gradually became less important.  And less necessary.  I began to see that as I took control of myself I would experience so much more positive change than I would ever find by trying to control stuff that, in reality, didn't matter.  

Slowly, I took control of what I needed to control to be happy.  Myself.  With Renee's help, guidance, friendship and large amounts of patience with me :), I learned about food, exercise, and found confidence in myself.  I began to smile more than I ever thought I would have a reason to.  My attitude towards life lightened up and I began to see all the positive things, people, etc that I had in my life.  It may be difficult to understand if you never experienced it, but, when you're depressed, it's almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  All I could focus on was everything that was negative in my life.  I didn't like it but I didn't know what to do about it.  When I finally learned how to take control over what I could/needed to have power over, my life completely changed.  For the better.

Every day is a challenge for me.  Some days more than others.  It's a battle I will always fight with myself.  But, with every day, I become more capable of living life with a light in my eyes and personality that, two years ago, I never dreamed was possible.  There isn't a cloud hanging over my head like there used to be.  And I firmly believe that is because I am happy.  For the first time in more years than I can remember, I am genuinely happy.  I enjoy my daily life, I laugh at myself (because I really am an idiot sometimes, especially about food) and just finally realize that I bring a lot to the world.  And that something might actually be missing if I disappeared.  Two years ago, when my mom asked me that question, I said I wasn't sure that I would be missed.  I didn't see that I had so much to offer to those in my life and those I had yet to meet.  

It's hard to put into words the transformation that has occurred in my life in the last 21 months.  If you knew me two years ago and you know me now, you know how incredibly true that statement is, in more ways than I could ever describe.  I haven't changed the core of who I am.  I've just realized that the core of who I am is amazing.  And I can continue to build on that and make an incredible life for myself full of blessings.  



Incredible change - It's an amazing feeling.  Both inside and out :)


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Accomplishments

When you accomplish something you never thought would happen in your lifetime, it's difficult to put the feelings into words.  That's exactly what happened to me yesterday.

January 2013 - I could barely walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded.

If someone had told me less than 2 years later I would be running in races, I would have laughed in their face.  A mere 9 months later, I did my first 5K.  I didn't run all of it.  But I did run a good amount of it.  With the help of my friend Kira.  And when I finished in 35 minutes, I remember being so excited and proud of myself for even having the guts to try to run a race.  After all, I had just started running in June.  And I'm not even sure I would call what I started doing at that time running.  But, I was doing more than walking so, we'll go with running.  A couple of weeks later, I succeeded in doing a run/walk in my first 10K.  I'm still not sure why I thought a 10K was a good idea at that point but, hey, at least I finished it!  And it was a good challenge.

Fast forward to April of this year.  My weight loss had pretty much stopped but I was working on building up my ability to run.  Winter was particularly brutal last year so I hadn't really gotten outside to run.  I signed up for a 5K in mid-April about 2 weeks before it happened.  My goal was to run the whole thing but I wasn't sure I would be able to.  Physically I knew I could.  But, for me, running is completely mental.  I often stop and walk just because I can.  Not because I don't have the ability to keep going.  So, when I crossed the finish line of this race and had run the whole thing (in 32 minutes, no less), I was ecstatic.  Talk about accomplishing something you never thought would be possible in your lifetime.  Running 3.1 miles?  Who knew?

I did another 10K a few weeks later and while I knew I wouldn't run the whole thing, I did have a goal of finishing in under an hour and 15 minutes (my time from October).  I finished in an hour and 5 minutes!  My only thought?  What is happening?  When did I start running, setting goals and accomplishing them?

I kept running over the summer but definitely had some other struggles that I dealt with (in good and bad ways).  So, when I did a 10K in August, I actually wasn't surprised that my time wasn't as good as it was in May.  I was tired, had a lot on my mind and just not overly motivated to run a race.  I needed to work on my mindset if I was going to keep setting and accomplishing goals.

Fast forward a few weeks and, after a butt kicking and doing a lot of soul searching, I made some decisions to start doing things for myself.  I'm still completely figuring out what that looks like.  But, I'm getting there.  In the meantime, I decided to focus on a fitness goal.  Something I knew how to do.  I remembered hearing about a 4 mile race in the middle of October.  But, I never like to do anything by myself.  Plus it's fun to have people to hang out at the start line with and meet up with at the finish.  So, I convinced two of my friends to do it with me.  As the next few weeks went by, I tried to get out running 2-3 times a week.  Sometimes I was able to go about 3 miles without stopping.  Sometimes the mental piece got the best of me.  And the hills.  But, I wasn't going to back out of the race.  And, in the back of my mind, I still wanted to try to run the whole thing.  But, of course I didn't have a whole lot of confidence in myself.  I just kept working towards it and figured I would give it my best shot.

10/11/14:  Luckily, the weather cooperated and it was actually really good running weather.  Sun wasn't really out for most of the race, no rain, etc.  Standing at the start line I learned that the first 2 miles would be a lot of hills.  After learning that I thought, there's no way I'll be able to run this whole thing.  Hills always get the best of me.  But, I just started running.  And, I was okay with having the first two miles be slower than I was used to because of all the hills.  (For anyone familiar with Cincy or the Pig, imagine starting a race running through Eden Park and up the hill by Krohn Conservatory, among other hills).  As I turned around at the 2 mile mark, I realized I would now be running down hill.  Yay!  Maybe I could actually do this.  I just kept going.  And, once I got to mile 3, I thought, I have to keep going.  I will be so mad at myself if I stop now.  So, I kept going.  And there were more down hill parts, which helped.  I saw the finish line in the distance and finally knew I could do it.  And the closer I got, the faster I tried to go.  I just smiled as I crossed the finish line.  I seriously think I was in shock.  I still am.  I posted it on Facebook and more than 80 people have liked it - What?!?!  Never expected that.  I just don't think that highly of myself.  Reading the comments just made me even prouder of myself.  And, as I started to process what I had done,  I just got happier.

It may seem crazy, I mean it's just 4 miles.  But, for me, that was like finishing a half marathon.  If you've never struggled with weight, being active, being fit or just health in general, it might be hard to imagine what it feels like to experience these types of accomplishments.  It's surreal.  When I look in the mirror I often still see the person that I saw a couple of years ago.  But, if I look real close, I can see another piece of me emerging.  One with a little confidence, happiness and the ability to accomplish what I set my mind to attempt.

Deciding to try is 90% of the battle with anything.  Living life is a process that evolves every day.  Realizing you're capable of more than you ever thought possible, well, that takes a little getting used to.  And it's the greatest feeling in the world.





Sunday, October 5, 2014

Forget, Don't Sweat It and Embrace It

Recently my aunt sent me an email with a quote in it that she loves.  She knows how much I love quotes.  And her.  She is such an amazing person, inside and out. When I read the quote, I immediately loved it but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it.  When I read quotes or sayings I love or that inspire me, sometimes I post them on FB or twitter.  Other times I keep them to myself and wait for something to click.  I did the latter with this one.  I figured something would eventually click with it.  And give me inspiration to write.  

"Forget yesterday - it has already forgotten you.  Don't sweat tomorrow - 
you haven't even met.  Instead, open your eyes and 
your heart to a truly precious gift - today."  
- Steve Maraboli

I know I've written about it before but, I'm a planner.  And I love routines.  Having an idea of what is going to happen helps me get through this crazy thing called life.  However, I also know that I can't go through this adventure always knowing what is going to happen.  Or dwelling on what happened in the past.

When someone tells me to forget yesterday because it has already forgotten me, that can be difficult at times.  First, because I have a memory of steel.  Literally.  I can remember things no one has the right or need to remember.  Many times, it's a great trait to have.  However, it does make it difficult to "forget yesterday" when something not so good happens.  Throughout this process of changing my life, I've had to figure out how I can go about forgetting yesterday.  For me, that means not dwelling on things that happen.  Or letting how those things make me feel control my mood, feelings or life.  Easier said than done.  It's taken me awhile but I've figured out that having some amazing people to talk to has made it easier for me to forget yesterday.  I've slowly realized that part of the reason why I couldn't forget yesterday even though it had already forgotten me was because I didn't know how to process my thoughts and feelings.  And I often didn't let myself process them.  Which led to bottling things up inside until I exploded.  I have finally allowed processing my feelings to become part of how I live life.  It's been an amazing discovery for me.  And it has changed how I function in such a positive way.

Ever try telling a planner to not worry about the future?  How'd that work for you?  My guess is that it didn't go over real well.  There's all different kinds of people in the world.  It's what makes life interesting.  So, when you tell me (or someone like me) to not sweat tomorrow, you'll probably get a little smile and nod and then I'll go back to planning what's going to happen.  The funny part?  As I've grown and changed over the last 20 months, I've become a little less of a planner and a little more willing to go with the flow.  I think it's because I have more confidence in myself.  Planning and routines will always be a part of who I am.  But, like everything in life, there's a place for it and I'm slowly finding where they fit in in my life.  

It's amazing how it feels to open up my heart.  I have spent so many years so closed off from the world.  As I've developed more confidence, and belief in myself, I've opened up to the world a little bit at a time.  Being vulnerable is extremely difficult and scary for me.  Probably more so than for the average person.  But, I've learned to embrace that about myself.  I wouldn't be who I am without that piece of my personality.  And, turns out, there's nothing wrong with who I am.  

So, putting all this together, what does it mean?  It means if you take the time to really get to know yourself, to figure yourself out, and do things for yourself and those you love, you'll truly be able to embrace the gift you're given every 24 hours - today.


My transformation - Inside and out :) 


The three pieces of my heart :)