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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Two Years .... and Counting

Two years ago today I took one of the most difficult steps I've ever taken in my life.

Honestly, I can't believe it's been two years since the day that I started a journey to change my life.  I feel like it has completely flown by.  But, there have been several difficult times within these two years of amazing achievements, accomplishments, goals met and just great things in general.  Know what?  I think that is what makes marking this 2 year anniversary that much sweeter.  To know that I can (and have) achieved so much and, for the most part, found new and healthier ways to deal with every day life speaks volumes about the transformation I've gone through.

I'm not done.  I'll never be done.  Life is an ever changing journey.  I learn things every day about myself and others.  As each day passes, I see more and more things I am capable of.  Two years ago, I never, in a million years, would have been thinking that way.  In fact, two years ago, I would have just been thinking, okay, just gotta get through another day.  Then I can go home, lay on my couch, eat whatever makes me feel better and pretend the outside world doesn't exist.  I couldn't see what a sad way that was to be "living" life.

Enter the person I now know as my good friend, Renee'.  I met her through my big brother.  She is one of, if not the most, genuine people I have ever met.  And, she is an expert in fitness and nutrition.  After talking to my brother about me (to this day I have no idea what transpired in that conversation), she agreed to meet with me to see if I wanted her help in figuring out my weight issues.  As scary as it was for me (because it involved the unknown), I contacted her via email and we arranged a time to meet.  That meeting took place two years ago today.  Trust me when I say, when I walked in there, I was at probably one of the lowest points I had ever been.  I was tired of being sad.  Sick of crying ALL THE TIME.  Done with isolating myself from the world.  But, I had no confidence in myself.  And no idea where to start.  I think that was very evident to Renee' the first time she met me.  Did I mention she's really good at reading people?  Yeah, I didn't realize how well she could read me right away.  Just sitting and talking to her, I immediately felt a sense of hope in a way I hadn't experienced in years.  I didn't really know what to do with that feeling.  She made me think about positive things about myself and actually talk about what I could think of.  Not an easy task for me.  I'm not good at talking about myself or finding anything good about who I am.  As we spoke, I became more and more comfortable, which is a rare occurrence for me in that short of a time frame.

That day was just the first step in an incredibly long, sometimes difficult and often rewarding process that I am still working my way through every day.  I still struggle at times.  But, so many weights (literally and figuratively) have been lifted off my shoulders in so many ways.  I'm happier than I ever thought I could be.  And I know that feeling is just going to continue to get bigger and better as the days, weeks and months go on.

So, with that, I thought I would add to the list that I started last year about things I've learned in the last year.  Some will probably be funny.  And random.  But, that's part of my charm.  Or, so I've been told.

1. I still can't cook.  I mean, why do recipes have to be so confusing?  But, I try.  Which generally resutls in a lot of laughing.  Especially at myself :)
2. Items people use to cook with often have weird names that make it hard to decipher where exactly they would be located in the grocery store.  Especially for someone like me.
3. Titles of recipes should really be written in English instead of this made up language recipe writers currently use...
4. Salmon (and most fish) smells weird.  And tastes funny.  At least to me.
5. Pinterest has great workouts.
6. Free workout classes are like gold.  Love that they are included in my Y membership!
7. Bears are mean - especially because the way they crawl is an usually cruel exercise in my opinion.
8. Living a healthy life isn't about a number on the scale.  It's about how I feel about myself and the people around me.
9.  I still love pizza.  It's just yummy.  Except now I eat one or two pieces instead of 6.  And, yes, I used to eat at least 6 pieces of pizza in a single sitting.  Sad, I know.
10. Running is a great workout.  And quicker than walking.  But, hills suck. 
11. Sharing achievements is so fun.  I haven't always had many of those in my life so the ones I accomplish now are just that much more special to me.
12.  Friends are the greatest gifts in the world.
13. I love riding bikes.  But bicycle crunches are a cruel creation.
14. My feet still get cold.  If only I weren't too lazy to get up & get a pair of socks.
15.  Pay attention to the details when ordering food on Amazon.  Otherwise you will end up with 4 family size bags of organic, gluten free candy.... at least I got a good deal!
16.  I still haven't figured out what to do with a garlic clove....
17. I enjoy working out in a way I never thought I would. 
18. Having a job and co-workers you truly enjoy being around is a gift that can't be put into words.
19. Naps are one of the greatest inventions.  EVER. :)
20. Life is a journey.  And the only way to experience that journey is to figure out what makes you happy.  It may take awhile.  I'm still figuring it out.  But, the process is so incredibly rewarding as you go through it.  I never knew what true happiness felt like until the last 2 years.  I'm finally okay with myself.  It's been a long time coming.  I'm so unbelievably thankful.  I can't even put my thankfulness into words.

Maintaining weight loss is something I've never been able to do.  And, although I have my ups and downs (on the scale and in other aspects of life) and am currently trying to find some balance with everything, making it through an entire year without reverting to my old ways is one of the greatest achievements in my lifetime.  It's hard for me to completely process that I've actually been able to maintain the weight loss.  But, I can say, I am prouder of myself than I ever thought I could or would be.

Renee' - I know you say this is all me and won't take credit for all the help, encouragement, advice, etc.  But, nothing could be further from the truth.  You gave me my life back.  Just by being an amazing friend. By pushing and encouraging me to do things I never thought were mentally, emotionally or physically possible.  And describing food to me.  And helping me figure out what various pans and dishes look like.  I still smile and laugh when I think about the first time we talked about food and you realized how incredibly clueless I was.  And I dripped green tea all over the recipes you'd written for me.... I could still read them... And I still have them :)  Who knew you are such a talented artist?? ;)  I wouldn't be the person I am today without you. Of course, I still get lost at the grocery store.  But, I think that's going to happen for a long time. 

Thank you.  In more ways than I could ever say or put into words.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Living in the Past, Future and..... the Present

This is true in so many ways.  And I've experienced 2 of the 3.

Depression is no joke.  It is a serious mental illness that has such a stigma attached to it.  In fact, I was probably guilty, at times, of not fully understanding how people feel who have depression.  But, given that I have now experienced it, I can honestly say it is one of the worst feelings in the world.  I can't even begin to describe what that hole feels like.  There really are no words that do it justice.  You just feel like you are constantly falling and there's no light at the end of the tunnel.  It's so true that you live in the past when you are depressed.  I know I did.  All I could focus on was what had gone wrong in my past.  How people had wronged me in so many ways (at least in my head) and how the past just "wasn't fair".  I couldn't see beyond what had happened to me and I couldn't find a way to work through it.  It was easy to just blame everything in life on the past.  Especially the bad stuff.  That's no way to live.

I've never experienced a clinical diagnosis of anxiety.  Never had anxiety or panic attacks.  But, I can see how those with anxiety live in the future.  Much the same as those with depression issues live in the past.  If you're constantly thinking about what is going to happen next, all you'll be able to think about is the future.  You'll never be able to live in the moment.  In some respects, I've seen pieces of this in myself.  With my depression, I also had to plan everything out.  I needed to know what was going to happen, how, when, etc.  Some of that is just my personality.  But, a majority of it was just my need to find control in some way, shape or form.

Often, that's the crux of anxiety and depression.  Clearly, I am not an expert.  But, speaking from personal experience, it's about finding control in your life.  Without control you often feel that spiraling feeling I described earlier.  And, it can be pretty scary at times.

So, now that I feel "at peace", is the last part of this quote true?  100%.   I enjoy every day life.  I live in the moment while being thankful for my past and planning for my future.  Every day is an adventure.  And I look forward to it.  I'm so blessed that I get to wake up every day with a smile on my face (despite not being a morning person).  My blessings are so plentiful I can't even begin to list them all.  I think about where I was 2 years ago and I don't even recognize that person.  Words can't describe the change that has happened in my life over the last two years.  Lucky and Blessed hardly do justice to what I've experienced.  And life just keeps going and gets better all the time.

Friday, January 9, 2015

No Regrets

A year ago I posted this on FB.  It didn't even need a caption.  The words spoke for themselves.  And, if it's possible, I love it even more than I did when I read it a year ago.  It speaks to me in a way that quotes and sayings often do.  

I have learned that life is short.  I've lost people close to me, watched people fight illness and all those other things that happen when you get older and realize life isn't fair.   It's funny, one thing I remember saying to Renee' about a month or so into this life changing journey is that I couldn't remember the last time I had woken up happy and gone to bed happy.  I find that to be more true with every day that passes.  I really try to not have regrets anymore.  I've learned they don't serve a constructive purpose.  It isn't worth it to dwell on things that can't be changed.  The past can't be altered.  All I can do is change how I approach similar situations in the future and learn from mistakes I make. 

Finding the right people to have in my life is another piece of life that has started falling into place for me.  Over the last couple of years I have developed friendships with some wonderful people.  These are relationships I don't think I would have ever been open to a couple of years ago.  I now see that I bring a lot of positive things to people and the world around me.  And I am so grateful for all of the amazing things all of these people bring to my life.  I now know how it feels to have true friendships in my life.  And, although it's been tough at times, I wouldn't change a second of the past because I firmly believe it has led me to where I am today.  Everything really does happen for a reason.

Taking chances has always been difficult for me.  Still is.  But, as I grow more and more comfortable in my own skin, I am more willing to do things that are out of my comfort zone.  I am (slowly) learning and figuring out that is the only way you find the life you are meant to have.  It takes time.  For some of us, it takes longer than it does for others.  But, when you finally figure it all out and start taking chances, it will change your life.  I can't even remember the life I was living two years ago.  The only reason I let myself try, is so I can remind myself that I never want to go back there.  Being happy is so much better than being sad and lonely all the time.

It's crazy how learning to love myself has allowed me to discover all of these things about myself and life in general.  Life is worth it.  To all those who have always stood by me, good times and bad, thank you.  Life wouldn't be the same without all of you.  :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year... New Goals ... Blank Slate

Life changes can be scary.  But the results are, quite often, well worth it.  It truly amazes me everything in my life that has changed so much in the last two years.

I can still see myself two years ago and it makes me sad sometimes.  I mean, to think about all the time I wasted being sad.  And isolating myself from the world.  

However, I do know it all happened for a reason.  And, I can also look back and see how much love and support I found simply by opening myself up to the world around me.  

Last year, I tried to focus goals on fitness and not necessarily weight because I was growing more and more frustrated with my body's unwillingness to lose weight at this time last year.  Well, although my body still refuses to lose weight, I have learned to not dwell on it.  That just because the number on the scale doesn't say what I want it to say doesn't mean I am not getting healthier and more in shape.  A year ago I never imagined that in October of 2014 I would run an entire 4 mile race in under 45 minutes.  I still find it crazy that this actually happened.  Just a few weeks ago the doctor told me that I was gaining muscle.  That made me feel good because certainly, at this point, that's the goal with exercising!  

Throughout the last year, I have grown, changed and made decisions I never thought I'd have the courage to make and follow through with.  A big part of that is just finding confidence and believing in myself and all that the world has to offer me.  And all that I have to offer the world.  Feelings that didn't exist in me two years ago.  

Looking back to when 2013 started, I couldn't have imagined all the good fortune, blessings, love, friendships and so much more that would come into my life.  I guess everything does happen when it's supposed to happen.  So, when 2013 ended, I wasn't sure what 2014 would turn out to be like.  I mean, how could I possibly top the year that completely changed my life for the better?  Turns out, it's possible.  2014 was another year full of amazing blessings, friendships and just all around good things.  I had my ups and downs, just like everyone.  But, overall, I never thought this kind of happiness could exist in my life.  

And so, as I look at 2015 and all the possibility it holds, I am in awe of what I could do.  I am, however, having trouble coming up with  some goals for the new year.  I no longer make resolutions.  Just goals that I know I can work towards and (more than likely) accomplish by the end of the year.  I don't really enjoy running.  I just do it as a means to an end so I can safely say I have zero desire to try a  half marathon.  But, I am thinking about the Flying Pig relay.  I'm not sure I'd make it the whole part running but I would certainly try.  It's an option.  I definitely have a financial goal with regards to saving money.  In fact, with me and my planning skills, I already have it written out!  Other than that, I'm struggling to come up with other goals.  I'm going to keep working on a plan and see what I can come up with because I know I do much better when I have goals to focus on and something to work for and towards.  

The best part about a new year?  In my opinion, it's the blank slate that comes with it.  Anything can happen.  And anything is possible.  That used to scare me to death.  Now, I think it's fun.  Although I will always be a planner (I can't help it, it's genetic), I love how much easier it's become for me to go with the flow and just enjoy life.  

For the longest time, I never understood why I was here.  And, no, I don't say that to make people feel sorry for me.  If anything, I say it so you can see just how far I've come in the last two years.  And that change is possible at any point in your life.  It takes time.  

But, I speak from experience, it's worth it in more ways than I could ever put into words.