Friday, August 30, 2013

Like a sunflower....that follows every movement of the sun

Like a sunflower...that follows every movement of the I towards to you and follow you, O God!

Did you ever notice how sometimes “unplanned” or “unexpected” things turn out to be a pleasant surprise? Sometimes,  the arrival of unexpected company, although they may show up when you are in the middle of something, on your way out the door, or worse yet…when the house is a mess, can turn out to be a truly enjoyable afternoon.  Or maybe a detour or road block on the drive home from work, although it may be annoying after a long day, can turn out to be a relaxing time spent alone with your thoughts or may lead you down a country road where you see a deer or a field full of wildflowers….or provide you with the “unescapable” time to chat with your teenager.  If I truly believe that God always has my best interest in mind….and He knows what I need at any given moment…(even if it doesn’t fit into my “schedule”), then I must try a bit harder not to get so frustrated when things don’t go exactly as I plan them. I need to be a bit more patient and try to recognize the hand of God in all my daily comings and goings.


This morning I was reminded of this when I went out before dawn to water my garden and I discovered these two sunflowers in bloom. Those four plants sprouted in one of the new perennial gardens I planted earlier this summer. I have no idea where they came from; I suspect a squirrel or chipmunk had raided my birdfeeder again! I honestly didn’t even know what they were because I have never grown sunflowers before so I didn’t recognize the plant until it bloomed, but as it grew, I began to suspect that it wasn’t a weed and even though it sprouted unexpectedly right on top of one the smaller perennials that I had purchased, it was a true delight to see these blooms smiling at me first thing this morning. 

I went back in the house to finish my coffee and began to ponder… “What am I supposed to learn from these unexpected, unplanned flowers”?  I have never witnessed it, but I have heard/read that sunflowers are unique in the plant world and that they are called “sunflowers” because they actually turn their heads throughout the day so that they are always facing the sun.  Sounds like they have the right idea….to always turn away from the darkness and keep facing the light….so that they may get the energy they need to bloom.  Hmmm…..

Sounds like a good plan to me! Over the past 2 ½ years of this journey to better health, I have experienced both highs and lows….triumphs and plateaus….good days and bad.  There were days when it was harder than others to resist temptation…but I did anyway. There were days when I absolutely 100% DID NOT want to go for a walk or do something physical….but I did, in spite of the chilly temps or aching muscles. There were days when I was discouraged and thought of giving up….but I didn’t.  There were a lot of times when others tried to discourage me.....sabotage me….got jealous or frustrated because I wouldn’t eat….just a bite….., but I didn’t let them dissuade me. I’m often asked how I stayed focused…how I got past those moments of discouragement and doubt…how I kept going. My answer is always the same:  ONLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD! There is no other explanation and day after day, I have to continually…every moment…every meal…every day, turn to God for strength, for I know that I am addicted to food and there is no way, no how, that I can win this battle on my own!!!! Fortunately, in my weakness, GOD is strong!

There are always times in our lives when the “sun” or the “light” or “any sort of joy, love, or happiness” may seem to be non-existent, either because of sickness, despair, doubt, grief, loneliness, depression….whatever, and we may feel like the “darkness” or “pain” will overtake us. I encourage you, like those unexpected sunflowers, to always keep your face toward the Light…always keep your focus on God….always keep your eyes on your goals…….even turn your head completely around if you need to, and don’t get swallowed up by the discouragement and DON’T….EVER….GIVE….UP!


This holiday weekend may be full of “unexpected” or “unplanned” and perhaps “stressful” moments, but I am I going to try my very best to stay positive…to go with the flow….to keep looking for the unexpected blessing….and to stay focused and motivated. I encourage you to do the same!  We can’t control what OTHERS are going to do or what the weather may be…but we can control how WE will react. And be sure to plan your meals and snacks ahead of time so that you don’t find yourself giving in to poor choices because you weren’t prepared.  Have a relaxing, restful, and SUNSHINE filled weekend!



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Enjoy the Journey..Focus less on the destination!

The weather was a bit weird yesterday. I went out to the garage at about 4:15 am to get something out of my car and I noticed that it was very warm. Great, I thought. I’m going to try to get in a short bike ride before work. While outside, I decided to turn the sprinkler on to water my new gardens but it was still too dark to see the faucet so I went in the house to turn an outside flood light on. I was literally only in the house for about 2 minutes when BOOM, a huge bolt of lightning struck and it began to pour. I didn’t even know rain was in the forecast, but I was thrilled. We really need the rain and I certainly would enjoy the 1 ½ break this morning that would have been spent watering. The bike ride…..well, I’d have to take a “raincheck!” (groan….. :-)


The rain continued for quite some time and when I left for work, it was still raining very hard. As I drove, I noticed the sky looked a bit odd. In the east, near the horizon, the sky was a lovely shade of pink. Hmm….it was pouring rain…and yet, the sky looked somewhat like the beginning of a beautiful sunrise. It really was a bit unusual, but as I got closer to work, I noticed that the sky was beginning to get more colorful and brighter the further east I drove. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that it “wasn’t raining” there and indeed, it was the sun beginning to rise. It almost appeared that I would cross a “magic line” and go from compete thunderstorms to sunshine. I wondered if the sun was shining at my office.

This unique weather situation made me think about the times when people try to “out-run” a storm. There have been times when traveling when I could tell it was raining ahead or  behind of me on the road and I would say to myself…”when I get up-north…or to my destination…I bet I’ll be out of the storm”. Other times, when traveling home for the holidays, I’ve tried to stay ahead of the snow when wintery weather was imminent.  My thoughts quickly changed to our journey to better health.

How many times have I/we said….”I’ll be so happy when I reach my goal weight” or “when I lose 100 pounds…THEN I do…..this or that”.  What about, “I can’t wait for the kids to grow up and get out of the house” or “When I retire, THEN… I’ll take that trip…or take up that hobby…or enroll in that Spanish or Art class”.   “IF I can just get……or make enough money……or lose this amount of weight…..or…..(you can fill in the blanks)…..THEN….  the rain/storm/struggles will be over and I’ll be Happy….the sun will be shining… I’ll do this or do that or feel this or feel that.   Does anyone know what I’m talking about?

Often in a journey to lose weight, we put all the focus on the end. When I reach my goal…..THEN… I’ll get a new haircut….or buy that new dress….or THEN I’ll be happy with myself…or THEN…my significant other will find me attractive, or I’ll get a better job….or have the nerve to go to a gym…...or whatever.  Too often in life, we put all the focus on the END….and we fail to enjoy the NOW.  We often find that when the kids are all grown, the house is lonely and we long for the chatter and chaos of activity, or we reach retirement and suddenly find ourselves bored and without purpose/meaning, or worse, we don’t have the health to take that trip or learn to dance or do that home improvement project. If we really stop and think about it, the HERE AND NOW….even if it’s raining or we’re struggling or living paycheck to paycheck…even if we are OVERWEIGHT… the best time of our lives!


As I think back over the 2 years it took me to lose the weight, I reflected on all the AWESOME, incredibly joyful moments that happened along the way….like the morning I was sitting in the living room and unconsciously crossed my legs and discovered that for the first time in many many years, I could now cross my legs! I remember the day I walked for the first time without a cane the 50 yards or so to the mailbox or the first time I went up the stairs at work. I remember walking through the turnstile in the subway in New York City and being able to fit,  and the time when a neighbor invited me to sit down…..and I sat in a regular folding lawn chair for the first time without worrying that it would collapse under my weight, or the time I stepped on the scale and was under 400 pounds…then 300…..then GASP…200!   Or riding my bike for the first time…or fitting into a pair of jeans that were half the size I used to wear….or seeing an old friend that didn’t recognize me… or….or…..The list is endless!   Had I had the mentality that…..”Life will be good…. I will be happy….I won’t be content or joyful or healthy or……whatever…until I’m thinner, I would have missed all those wonderful, joyful moments along the way!


I’m sure if you really think about it, you will recognize many of these “small victories” or “moments of incredible grace”….even if you are A LONG way from reaching goal….even if you are struggling with a life crisis…even if your world is chaotic….even if you are grieving or sad or broke or ill.   It just takes a bit more work to find the joy/grace/peace during the storm or rain.  Certainly we all prefer ‘sunny days”….certainly we all hope to reach our goals….see our dreams fulfilled….reach retirement age….build a nest egg…..graduate from school/college….land that dream job, whatever…….but even now….at this point in the journey…THERE ARE….moments of grace and joy.  I pray that you find them and celebrate them! 


And…..don’t wait until you reach your goal to “buy that dress….or get that make-over….or enroll in that dance class….or wear RED….(whatever)….”   Don’t wait until you have an empty nest to take up that hobby or until retirement to take that trip. Don’t wait until you “have time” to write that letter or visit that elderly friend/relative. Tomorrow may never come.  Live today…..enjoy the journey….and DANCE in the RAIN!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Classes started at the college today. The halls are full of excitement and apprehension as first time students prepare to enter into a new world of academia and returning students return to the classroom with the knowledge that their already “too little” free time will now be filled with studying and homework. Nonetheless, the beginning of a new school year/semester is always exciting.  Like those of us working to change our lives, these students are determined to do their best and succeed.
Part of my job as a Retention Advisor is to assist students in “starting over” after some sort of mishap or life situation caused them to fail in previous attempts at school. In many cases, serious circumstances have hindered their success. Perhaps it was a death in the family, a job loss or accident, or serious illness. In those cases, it’s easy for me to recommend that their “appeal to return and be eligible again for Financial Aid” be approved; I’m all about second chances! Good thing, because I’ve been given a lot of “2nd chances” in life; in fact, God gives me a 2nd chance every day….to do better…to be kinder…to be more loving and giving and compassionate.  In other cases, students have failed out or been placed on Academic probation because they didn’t put the effort into their studies, or simply just “gave up” when it became too hard. Other times, when they didn’t get the grade they thought they deserved, or didn’t do well on a test a particular week, they just quit trying.
In many cases, our journey to better health is like that. I have been overweight since the day I was born and over the years I have tried multiple times to lose weight and get fit. Often I would lose a few pounds and then when it got too hard or the temptation was too great, I’d simply give up or quit trying. On two occasions, I actually succeeded in losing quite a bit of weight; the first time it was about 90 pounds; the 2nd time 75, but I never stuck with it long enough to meet  my goal. I simply just ‘got lazy, gave in to temptation, or just decided it…(or maybe I)…wasn’t worth the effort it took….and I quit.  Sound familiar?  Like me, you’ve probably “been there, done that”.  
So….what made it “stick” this time, I wonder?  What makes me think that I’m going to be able to maintain this lifestyle?  What makes me know…deep down…that I am never going back to the “Old Theresa” way of life?  
 Well, there are a few things…..first and foremost, I know and believe that God has set me free and is in control of my life, and He has won this battle once and for all. He has done His part….I have to do my part…EVERY…SINGLE…MINUTE….of EVERY SINGLE DAY. I have to constantly surrender my will, desires, temptations, struggles to Him, knowing that I am completely powerless to do this alone. You may not share the same religious beliefs, but one of the proven steps from AA (I’ve never been a part of a 12 step program, but absolutely believe that I am addicted to food) is to surrender your will over to a higher power, whatever that means to you.
2nd….unlike the students roaming the halls, I know that my “semester” or “diet plan” cannot end in 12 weeks. I can’t just tell myself…”you can do this for 12 weeks…or only 5 weeks until mid-term break…or Christmas…or whatever”.  I am on a LIFETIME….never ending….Lifestyle change. I don’t believe “diets” per se, work because people often go on them for a period of time. I am on this “new lifestyle plan” for life! Otherwise, it’s a losing battle….and I don’t mean that in the good way! HA!   You too, must make changes FOR LIFE…if you hope to lose weight…and more importantly KEEP IT OFF.  This is exactly why I am not a fan of “fad diets” or “diet pills” or crazy eating plans like protein shakes or no fat/no carb/no this or that type eating plans; they simply cannot be followed for the rest of one’s life. I’ve always said…and firmly believe….that you must find a way of life….a plan…that you can stay on for the rest of your life. Make changes that you can live with…..FOREVER!
Part of my job…when approving a “2nd chance” for students is to help them succeed…THIS TIME. I try to teach them strategies, to offer support, to show them “how” successful students succeed, to cheer them on when they have a success and lift them up and encourage them when they have a bad day or want to give up. This is what all of you do for me!  Each time I read your comments, I am encouraged in my own walk and motivated to keep trying, to keep working, to keep on track.  SO….THANK YOU …for that!  We all need to have “companions on the journey” because undoubtedly we are all going to struggle; we are all going to have temptations…and likely even give in to them; we are all going to have plateaus or….gasp….even gain a few pounds…..; we are all going to want to give up.  BUT….DON’T!
 I am committed to doing everything in my power to help my students to succeed this time….to reach their goals….to change their life.  I am committed to doing that for you too…..but like the students, we all have to do our part! A student will never succeed if they don’t put the effort into studying, do their homework; make school a very high priority, or even worse, if they “give up” and quit when it gets hard/overwhelming. Likewise, we won’t succeed in changing our life either if we don’t do the work… the right things…put the effort/time/money into good food and exercise….to keep trying. Use this new school year as an opportunity for you to begin again if you have been “taking a break”, or as new opportunity to prove that you have what it takes to succeed!  Are you going to pass the “test”?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Theresa Doesn't Live Here Anymore: When God closes a door

Theresa Doesn't Live Here Anymore: When God closes a door: I have a plaque, well actually, several different items, in my office that says, "When God closes a door, He always opens a window.&quo...

When God closes a door

I have a plaque, well actually, several different items, in my office that says, "When God closes a door, He always opens a window." The decorative plaque was a gift from a friend when she found out that I would be losing my job of 15 years in full-time ministry several years ago. When I left my last parish assignment, I was given a small painted stone with the same saying on it. Ironically, I received a wooden carving with the same phrase a few weeks ago when I celebrated my 50th birthday.  Typically, it is a saying that brings comfort to someone when he/she is facing a job loss, a death, a break-up, or some other type of disappointment. The recent one is a terrific reminder that GOD CLOSED the door on my old way of life....and opened a door to my future!

Yesterday, that phrase gave me much to ponder, but not because of anything overly difficult or any big loss; just an incident that occurred at church.  I went to Mass as usual and went to pick up the Eucharistic Minister schedule (for my non-Catholic friends, a Eucharistic minister assists with the distribution of communion) and I discovered that my name was not on the schedule. Hmm... I thought, a bit hurt and confused.  I wonder what happened? I approached the person making the schedule and discovered that she had made an error and erroneously left me out of the year-long rotation and replaced me with another volunteer.  There was an apology given, but no mention of any type of amends to get me added back on the schedule. Of course, I understood the mistake, but nonetheless, I was hurt and a bit upset. In fact, I was more that a bit upset; I was quite agitated. After all, It took me 5 years to get up the nerve to go back into any type of church ministry after being hurt so deeply several years ago, and I've been serving as a Eucharistic Minister now for the past year, never missing a scheduled day, always being dressed appropriately, and functioning with dignity and respect.  SO... now I'm supposed to just "sit out a year and wait??"  Apparently, I am.

During Mass, my mind was on this matter, but I kept trying to focus on the saying, and since I believe firmly that everything happens for a reason and that God is in control of my life, I must trust that there is a reason why this happened. Maybe someone in the parish will get ill and I'll need to be the replacement; maybe I'll suddenly be unavailable for that particular parish or mass; perhaps God has a bigger job for me to do; perhaps...... I don't know yet why this happened, but what I do know, is that "OLD THERESA" would have used the situation as an excuse to EAT to make her feel better. Old Theresa would have stopped at the grocery store on the way home and bought a bag of chips or a bag of cookies. Old Theresa always used food to deal with any type of emotional situation.  I'm so glad that NEW THERESA doesn't live there anymore!  NEW THERESA dealt with it by taking a bike ride, working in the garden, and rationally recognizing it as a simple mistake. So many times, we turn to food to deal with life's disappointments and for any type of rejection, perceived or real. If we are to be truly successful on our journey to better health, we must learn to see food for what it is; fuel for our bodies, and not a reward or comfort.

I am so thankful that "GOD CLOSED THE DOOR on OLD THERESA when HE set me free....AND...HE CERTAINLY has been opening a lot of windows in my life lately! TO HIM BE THE GLORY!!!   When will you Close the door on your OLD WAY OF LIFE????

SO...When was the last time you felt a bit "out of sorts" because of something that happened in your life that didn't go just the way you had hoped, and how did you deal with it?  Certainly something to think about!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Are you making excuses?

I have heard A LOT of excuses this week!!

The new semester at college begins tomorrow with online classes and Monday for on-campus classes. The college has been bustling this week with students trying to get registered for classes, pay tuition, and buy books. We have had a lot of procrastinators walk through the door this week trying to get everything in place, but unfortunately many classes are already closed and those who have yet to apply for their Financial Aid have walked away frustrated and disappointed. Although a few students have good “reason” for waiting so long, most of them simply have “excuses”.  To me, there is a difference between the two. I believe that a “reason” is usually valid and a result of an unavoidable situation, whereas an “excuse” is often a way to avoid blame or being at-fault.  In my life, I’ve had many reasons for doing things, but more often, I’ve given an excuse in attempt to justify my behavior.  You may have experienced this as well.


This caused me to think about my weight gain and loss. I can come up with many REASONS why I was fat….heredity, genetics, medication side effects, and learned behavior as a child etc. I can’t do anything about heredity and genetics, and before the age of reason, I didn’t know any better.   I know what “caused” it as well: Eating more calories than I burned. That is simple science.   BUT…I could come up with a whole list of EXCUSES to justify my behavior….namely, laziness, fear, loneliness, depression, loss, lack of motivation, etc…  The list is endless. Likewise, I can come up with a number of excuses why I never tried to lose weight or put it off in the past. “I don’t care what I look like!” “I’m grieving”  “People just gain it back anyway” “I’ve got too much to lose” “I can’t /hate exercise” “Diets cost too much money and they don’t work anyway!” “If people don’t like me like this, too bad” “It’s too hard to lose weight” “I’ll never stick with it anyway, why even try?” “I’ll just wait until after the holidays” “I’ll start AFTER…this or that event”.   How many of these EXCUSES have you used?


I’ve also used a number of excuses why I overate, “cheated” or quit a weight-loss plan in the past; It’s the holidays….It’s my birthday….someone’s treating me to dinner…I’ve been doing so well, I DESERVE a treat….I’ve been good all week, what’s a splurge going to hurt….I’ll get back on track on Monday….I’ve exercised hard so I can have this or that...I don’t feel well/I’m sick/I’m sad/I’m stressed. There are a lot of others as well.  Have you been there, said that?  What other EXCUSES have you used?

These past 2 weeks I’ve been eating more than I should, not anything off plan or excessively high in calories, but greater quantities of things that are allowed….fruit, protein bars, fiber bars, etc. I’ve also been eating when I know that I am not physically hungry, but perhaps just tired, stressed, or bored. I’ve made the excuses…”I’m doing all this physical work, I need more fuel” “All this fresh fruit is in season for such a short time, I better enjoy it now” “I deserve to “lighten up the regime a bit, after 2 ½ years of strict adherence” “My metabolism has changed”…etc.  Although I’ve not yet gone off plan and treated myself to a cheeseburger and fries or some other treat, I’ve come to realize what a slippery slope it is.  SO this week, I have had to “get back to the basics” and quit making excuses to eat when I’m not truly hungry and to limit my protein bars and other treats, as well as make a more sincere effort to exercise and physical activity. So far, so good, but as we all know, IT’s NOT EASY! It’s much easier just to make excuses, just like the students who have entered my office this week. BUT…like them, the consequences of our excuses and actions aren’t not usually good. Today, I challenge you to “GIVE UP THE EXCUSES” and make a sincere effort. It is not easy, by any means, But TRUST ME…IT IS SO WORTH IT!!!   Together, with the support of each other and by the Grace of God, WE CAN, and will CHANGE OUR LIVES!

Theresa Doesn't Live Here Anymore!

Theresa Doesn't Live Here Anymore!
This chair was my mode of transportation around the college where I work.

Theresa  Borawski - Before and after pictures. 
275 pounds lost and no longer needing a cane or that motorized wheelchair!
Thanks be to God!


VIDEO CLIPS about my story

March 4, 2013.  Theresa's appearance on the TODAY show with Kathie Lee
 and Hoda as part of the Joy Bauer Joy Fit Club.
Below is Part 1 and Part 2 of an interview with TV 9and10 news in Northern Michigan.
Part 1


Click here to join my Facebook group:


My story was featured in the July 22, 2013 issue of Woman's World magazine. Below is the cover, the image that appeared in the article, and a picture of me purchasing the magazine in our local grocery store.


Here is the link to the Woman's World article