Friday, February 28, 2014

Spaghetti squash.... a great alternative!

Good "bitter cold" Morning from Northern Michigan! The ACTUAL temperature right now is -26 degrees! YIKES!  I'm not looking forward to going out in this frigid weather in a little while to go to work, but I'm grateful for my job so I'll just bundle up the best I can. 
When my large extend family gathers frequently for a meal, the menu often includes a family favorite: my Uncle Bob's (previously my grandpa's) famous spaghetti! It seems like everyone in the family....from babies to senior citizens.....find it irresistible, including me. When I started my weight loss journey three years ago I thought that I had eaten my last spaghetti dinner for life, and for the first 18 months of my journey, I avoided this meal altogether. Spaghetti noodles and other pastas just have too many calories for me to justify, even the lower fat or whole wheat versions. Really, I could have just ate a bit, but I was "too compulsive" back then and wouldn't even try it.  

BUT....then I learned a great tip; one that many of you that have belonged to a weight loss group or program for years, probably already knows:  SPAGHETTI SQUASH!!!   It's easy to make, the stringy texture makes it look and taste like spaghetti (well sort of), and it actually tastes great with a bit of sauce on it. I've also tried sauce on green beans or zucchini and it's not bad, but the spaghetti squash is actually my favorite. It's not always easy to find in my rural grocery store, but the big box stores typically have them when they are in season.

I made spaghetti sauce this week using ground turkey and cooked a squash last night. I'm not a great cook by any means, but I thought it was a great alternative. Not only is the squash low in calories, but it has a lot of fiber too. You should try it sometime.

What tips or secrets do you have to reduce the calorie content in other pasta dishes??? 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I not only THINK you can.... I KNOW you can!

What are you thinking today?  That you can do this....or that it's too hard and you can't?  True change begins in the mind and heart....and before you and change how you eat, how you act, how you must first change how you THINK about things.  I don't THINK you can do it.... I KNOW you can do it!  Be strong today and make it a better day today than yesterday.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Don't compare yourself to others.....Just try to be better today than you were yesterday!

ve mentioned several times before that I really enjoy my job because every day I not only get to help people sort out their issues, but I also have many opportunities to rejoice with them when they experience a small victory or success.  Yesterday was an incredibly busy day at work, but I was uplifted in the afternoon when a student walked into my office with a big smile on his face. This particular student had previously failed a math class and was repeating it this semester. He had a test yesterday and put a lot of effort into studying and preparing for the test.  When the test was over, he came into my office beaming and said, “Look at this, Theresa….look at this!”  I couldn’t help but smile at his excitement and thought he must have earned an A.
I took the test from him and looked at the top. He scored a 64% on the test….which is a failing or very near failing grade, and yet he was so excited and happy. I sorted of wrinkled my brow, shook my head, and looked at him questioningly, as I said….”Why are you so happy, you failed the test?”  His response sort of blew me away and taught me a very valuable lesson.  He said, “Yes, Theresa, I know……but the last time I took the test I only scored a 28%!”   WOW!  This high-risk, non-traditional student just taught me more in that one sentence than I could ever teach him!  He was not one bit concerned about anything but doing better than he did the last time…..being better today than he was yesterday.  WOW!
We could learn much from that attitude. How often do we get down on ourselves….feel depressed and want to give up when we see others losing more weight than us week after week…..when someone loses it faster….when the person next to us at the gym can lift heavier weights, go faster or longer on the treadmill…..when our sister or friend wears a smaller size than us……when someone gets a raise or makes more money than us…..when others have a bigger house or a nicer car or smarter kids or……….you can fill in the blanks. 
None of this matters. Who cares how long it takes you to reach goal?  Who cares that you can only walk ½ mile today or do 3 sit ups?  Who cares that you are losing only ½ or 1 pound a week and someone else consistently loses 2 or 3?  Who cares????  What is so important to focus on  is that we continue to strive to make progress… that each day or week we are better than we were the day before. Keep moving forward…..keep plugging away….keep on keepin’ on!  You can do it!!!­ 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Future blooms are buried under the snow

I took a ride with a friend on Saturday to get some suet for the birds. The roads were still quite icy and drifted over, but it was good to get out and I enjoyed the ride in the sunshine and the view of the fresh snow. Gosh, there are piles and drifts higher than I’ve seen in ­­­many years.
When I was at the store, I noticed a beautiful display of spring flowers. Blooming daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths greeted me with their sweet fragrance and bright, cheerful colors. I stood there for a moment with my nose in the hyacinths and breathed in the fragrance of spring. It can’t be THAT far away, can it?
On the way home my mind was drifting to thoughts of those flowers and the warmer weather that they reminded me of. I kept thinking about all those bulbs that I planted in late fall and wondered how many of them would bloom this year. They were planted very late in the season and were purchased on clearance so I really don’t know if any of them will survive this harsh winter. I can only hope that at least some of them will greet me with the same fragrance and cheerful hello….in due time.
When my friend dropped me off at home, I stood in the driveway and looked around the yard. I can’t really go far in the yard because the snow is so deep that I couldn’t possible walk through it, but I have a large driveway and I walked around the perimeter looking at the many flower beds that I put in last summer. They are buried in several feet of snow at the moment, but way underneath those piles are a couple of hundred bulbs and dozens of perennials just waiting to spring forth with new life…..when the snow is gone…..when the time is right…..when the “stuff” piled high on them is removed….in due time. 
­­I thought about those daffodils for several hours in the afternoon and how my journey is similar. I have been blessed to have had many people in my life who planted “seeds and bulbs” in me with the hopes that I would bloom, grow, and blossom. My parents and grandparents planted the seeds of faith, love, hard work, respect….the list is endless. Teachers, neighbors, aunts and uncles, my priest….friends….again the list is endless….planted other seeds throughout the years. They taught me value people over things… trust……to be strong….to walk closely with God….. so many things!  They nurtured me and helped me grow. They pruned and weeded when I needed it….all so that I could blossom to my fullest potential… due time. ­
Some years I bloomed better than others. Some winters (struggles) were harder than others and ­­I didn’t bloom quite so beautifully (sometimes not at all for a time) in the following months and years. Sometimes after an extremely harsh period of life, I needed more care and nurturing. Sometimes I even needed to be “dug up” and the rotten, decaying parts of me needed to be cut away. Sometimes I even needed to be ­­moved someplace else (new job, new location, new relationships, new thought process….even when I didn’t want to change) to ensure new growth.
Likewise, those plants and bulbs will require me to care and nurture them if I want them to reach their full potential and continue to thrive year after year. But before I can do any of that, they need to be unburied. The piles of snow and ice needs to melt; the debris, leaf accumulation, and fallen twigs and branches need to be cleared off….in due time. Certainly if I did that now, they would not have the protection of the blanket of snow to protect them from the remaining months of harsh weather and the elements that could damage them. That heavy blanket of snow has insulated them, hopefully giving their roots time to become established and allowing the nutrients in their bulbs and stems to strengthen them so that they will blossom in the spring.  I have faith that spring will come again and in due time, the snow will melt allowing them to grow. As long as they are buried underneath all that stuff, they will never bloom.  So much like me.
I spent a lot of years living under the heavy burden of excess weight. It was warm and safe there and the excess weight served as a way of keeping others away. You’ve likely read that my massive weight gain came as a result of several very significant and painful losses that I experienced in a short period of time. The more I ate, the bigger I got, and the more I felt protected from future hurts and disappointment. My excess weight kept me isolated and alone because people eventually quit reaching out to me, inviting me to join them for events or parties, or expected things of me. I buried myself deeper and deeper in depression, pain, and despair…all things that kept me from growing spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. No doubt, though, that God was working under the surface…in that pain….to prepare me for this new life. Without that period of dormancy….without those years of struggle….without those experiences and losses….none of this new life would be possible. God never left me…even in those most difficult years…and in due time…HIS TIME…..he began to remove those thoughts, beliefs, actions that were keeping me from growing and blooming. Just like the piles of snow on the bulbs; it’s necessary to prepare the bulbs to blossom, but until it is removed….there will be no blooms.  Until God removed that “stuff” that was weighing me down, I was never going to bloom.  Nature will take care of the due time….just like God took care of me…when the time was right.
Every day I encounter things that try to bury me….try to weigh me down….try to stunt my growth and choke out my joy and peace. It is a constant battle to continue to surrender those things…to remove the doubt and anxiety, to rid myself of the fear and negative thoughts that threaten my new life. I must continually nurture my soul…provide my body with good, nutritious food….care for my physical and emotional well-being….because unless I do, this new life will cease to exist.
I ask YOU today….what things are weighing you down?  What things are causing you to remain trapped in a body that is holding you back?  What thoughts and actions do you need to get rid of so that you may bloom and blossom and experience new life?  The most important question is “what are you going to do about it?”  What steps to do you have to take?  Are you willing to take the risk and do the work to change your life or would you rather just remain dormant and stagnant?  The choice is yours….

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fast food is FAT food!

Good Morning.   When I saw this clipart a while ago, I just shook my head in agreement. I know there are a few exceptions and many places are starting to offer healthier options, but for the most part, FAST FOOD is better described as FAT FOOD!

  Before I began my journey, I was a fast food addict. When I lived downstate in the Flat Rock area, I had to drive by a whole line of fast food restaurants and drive-thru windows just calling out my name on my way home . Wendy’s, Burger King, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell…you name it, I had one within a mile or two of my house. As a single person who worked very long hours in ministry, I got in the habit of turning off into the drive thru every night on the way home for work. I rarely had “real food” in the house because it wasn’t practical because of my erradic schedule. ( I worked about 10 hour days, sometimes longer) during the week and went up north every weekend. It was just easier to pick up junk food on the way home. Before long, I was hitting them in the morning on the way to work as well.

When I moved up here in northern Michigan, it became more challenging to frequent the fast food chains because I live about 19 miles away from the nearest McDonald’s, but I still ate at them every chance I could. It almost became a “must” whenever I was in town and every Thursday night  when I was traveling to my college classes in Bay City. It got to a point where I couldn’t take a car trip….for any reason ranging from a basic errand to a road trip without stopping at a drive-thru, whether it was mealtime or not. It was almost a “well, I’m here and I live so far away, I better get it while I can” type of mentality.

Drive-thru windows are a fat girl’s best friend. They offered me convenience, anonymity, and privacy. I didn’t have to get out of the car. I didn’t have to struggle to get the walker or cane into the restaurant and wait in line. I didn’t have to subject myself to the stares of others in the restaurant whose judging glares pierced through my obese body. I could order as much food as I wanted; often two sandwiches (darn those buy one, get one free sandwich coupons) and supersize French fries, topped off with a couple of apple pies or a milkshake. Thousands of calories of pure junk filled my body each week. Most of their appeal came from the ease at which I could just sit in the car, by myself, just eating and eating. No one to comment on how much I ordered. No one to question my choices. No one to shake his/her head in disbelief or judgment.  Like I said, a fat girl’s dream!  But also a contributing factor in my demise.

When I began this journey, I knew that several things had to go, and there could be NO EXCEPTIONS:  regular soda, sugar, and fast food!  Giving up the fast food was probably harder than the other two because there are options to soda. I switched to diet soda for a bit while transitioning to flavored water. Sugar was easier because of the great tasting sugar substitutes on the market, but fast food, well there weren’t any options.  Yes, I know there are some that offer healthy options like salads and lower calorie wraps and such, but for the most part, they still are a no-no in my book. For the first year or so of my journey I never ate at another fast food restaurant again. Since then, I probably have gone to them less than a handful of times. When traveling, I’ll order an oatmeal at McDonald’s…without brown sugar and milk (I bring a shot of sugar free French vanilla creamer in my purse).  Wendy’s small chili without cheese and sour cream is around 300 calories I think. Burger King has a nice grilled chicken salad (I bring my own salad dressing) and Subway has several healthy choices although I rarely go there. I’m sure there are other options, but for the most part, they are just off limits to me.  I have not had a French fry in more than 3 years, and I will admit, that every now when I’m out shopping or doing errands and the wind is blowing just right, the smell of McDonald’s in the air just about does me in. But I can’t give in to that temptation because “just one little French fry” would very quickly turn into two or three, then a happy meal size, and eventually I’d be getting a super-size order.  I won’t risk it!

If you are reading this before you leave for the day, make sure you take the time to grab something for breakfast right now so that you don’t’ have to stop by McDonald’s for that egg McMuffin or sausage biscuit and hash browns.  Take the time to pack a quick lunch so that you don’t have an excuse to order out with the folks in the office for a carry-out lunch from Wendy’s or Burger King.  Take something out of the freezer for dinner tonight so you don’t have an excuse to hit the drive-thru on the way home to bring home junk for yourself or your family.  Fast food is FAT food!  You can resist it. You are stronger than a Big Mac. Your body deserves better than a Whopper.  Keep driving by. You can do it!!!!

Make it a good day today!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Remove the temptation or remove yourself...just don't give in!

Just because you are on a personal journey doesn't mean the rest of the world is going to cooperate and join you. There are still going to be donuts at work; there will still be birthday cakes at parties; your family will still want dessert or snacks at night. The reality is that the LIFE GOES ON ...but if you want YOUR LIFE to change and go have to make choices. Get rid of the junk if you can't resist. Don't buy it in the first place. what I do often....just leave the room. Have your coffee someplace else. Take a something else....just don't give in. Trust me...that donut will taste incredible going down....but the bitter aftertaste of regret will linger all day. It's just not worth it!!!  Make it a great day today!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Are you going to quit...or fight?

I went to the Mid Michigan Community College basketball game last night. It was the first time in our college’s history that our team made it to the play-offs. The game was awesome and I am so proud of our students! At one point in the season, they had a dismal 5-12 record and several of the players wanted to quit the team, but they didn’t because the other team members wouldn’t let them.  I’m so glad they fought through the hard times because each loss made them want to win all the more. They ended up winning their next eight games and qualified for the play-off game. Last night they rocked the court and are now heading to Chicago to face another opponent. 
Besides having a good time and enjoying a rare “night out,” I couldn’t help but think of all of us and our personal journeys to better health and wellness. I can’t speak for you, but certainly there have been times in the past three years when I wanted to just “quit” and give up, especially when I encountered those dreaded plateau weeks when nothing I did seemed to budge the scale. Other times when the media frenzy was particularly active and I was weary, I wanted to just hide away in the corner.  Still other times, even now, the temptation to eat just “one bite” or take just “one day off plan” is overwhelming. And yet, by the grace of God… I don’t give in. I don’t give up. I don’t quit.  Why is that?
Well, first of all, it’s because of my faith and my reliance on God’s power, not my own, but also, it’s because I have a burning passion to succeed. My motivation was so strong because I wanted to, and still want to….WALK more than I wanted/want to eat junk.  My every thought, then and now, was getting strong and getting my life back. I did not want to be a slave to that walker or that life, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.  Those players have that same drive, only their goal is different than mine. Likely…or hopefully….you have or can find that same determination and you want something (whatever it is) so bad that you are willing to do WHATEVER (within reason and without harming yourself or someone else) it takes to get it. 
SO…what do you want?  Is it to lose weight or fit into a smaller size? To walk a mile or run a 5K?  Is it to find a job that is both life-giving and provides for your needs?  Is it a better relationship with a significant other, friend, or children?  Maybe it’s to have closer walk with God or a better attitude. How do you define success?
 I think we need to really define those things that we want to accomplish….and we need to be realistic when we do.  I am never going to be a size 6; I have no desire to be.  I am not motivate by money or prestige; never been. I am not overly concerned by the number on the scale, although I monitor it carefully and continue to stay on my eating plan. BUT… I do want to continue to be active, to walk and ride my bike, to someday learn to dance, to enjoy reasonably good health, and to continue to share my story to help others, so I will continue to work each day to maintain this weight loss and to be a kinder, better person. Mostly, I want to make a difference in the world….to the people God sends my way…to those I meet each day…to YOU!  And I want to live a life that is pleasing to God and that would make my deceased parents and grandparents proud of me.  I want those things so bad…that I will not give up, will not give in to fatigue and temptation, will not lose hope.  That type of motivation and determination does not come from THERESA…it comes from GOD.  That is the type of drive I see in the MMCC basketball team and that is the type of drive I hope that you find so that you can become the people you desire to be.
Are you going to give up because you had or are having a bad day?  Are you going to quit because it’s hard or are you going to fight, and keep trying, even when you have a moment of weakness?  The decision is yours. I’m going to be in the stands cheering you on whether you win or lose, but you will never WIN if you quit playing the game!  Keep going….Keep trying. YOU CAN …and YOU WILL….succeed if you want it bad enough!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Even when it appears that nothing is happening, your miracle is taking place

One of the hardest things about staying motivated in our efforts to change our lives is being patient and persevering when it appears that “nothing” is happening. It is very discouraging to stay on track, wisely choosing every bite we eat, forcing ourselves to be active when we’re exhausted, following the doctor’s orders exactly, trying over and over again to be positive and kind, and THEN…we face another week where the scale doesn’t budge, the pants are still tight, we still feel “icky”, or our significant others or co-workers still don’t appreciate our efforts. We’ve all been there. We’ve all wanted to just give up and say, “What’s the use?” 
What kept me from giving up…..from losing hope……from quitting?  My faith….in a God who is always present, who is always faithful, who always does the things He promises….In HIS TIME, not mine.  I know, without a doubt, that even when it appears or better said, “I feel”,  as if “nothing is happening”….that He doesn’t hear my prayers…..that He has abandoned me…. even then, I KNOW that HE is in control of my life, and if you let Him, He will be in control of yours too.
Just because the surface of a lake appears calm and motionless, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t activity going on underneath, that there isn’t a current flowing from the spring below, that there isn’t life below the surface. Don’t give in to discouragement. Don’t be a slave to the scale. Keep on keeping on. Trust in your God and trust in yourself.   You’ve got this. Keep on believing!  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

You agreed to what?????

Did you ever do something and then say....WHAT ON EARTH DID I JUST AGREE TO DO????   Well, yesterday, I verbally committed to speak at a convention to be held at the Soaring Eagle Casino for a potential audience of 1800 people!  Holy Smokes, girl.....You did what?????   That's an awful lot of people and I'll be taking the stage in the big Entertainment concert hall.  GULP......   I absolutely love sharing this miracle with the world....but this is taking one big giant leap of faith.  I'm going to be trusting God completely on this one. He obviously blessed me with this miracle and wants me to share hang on, we go!   By the's in May.


As apprehensive as I was/am about accepting the invitation, I simply must marvel at the timing of God. The phone call asking me to consider the speaking offer came last Monday evening, less than 36 hours after finding out about the National Enquirer and about an hour after my interview with Pat Maurer from the Clare County Review. I had just come home from the interview and was feeling very peaceful because it was just a pleasant conversation with Pat and she seemed really inspired by my story. So, I was feeling pretty grateful when the call came in. I pondered the invitation all week, doing everything I could to talk myself out it….filling my head with all those “Old Theresa” thoughts of doubt. Those very old thoughts that kept my trapped in my overweight body, those thoughts that crippled me both figuratively and literally, those thoughts of defeat, hopelessness, fear. You know them…you’ve likely had…or have them, and like me, battle them daily.  I told myself multiple times throughout the week that “you can’t do that…it’s too many people; it’s too big of a stage; you’re not a motivational speaker; you might even gain your weight back…blah…blah….blah! I nearly talked myself out of  it several times. 

But…do you know what finally prompted me to decide to accept the offer? Someone, actually a lot of someones in my life BELIEVE that I can do it!  My dear friend said to me, “18 people or 1800….it makes no difference. Your story is powerful and the number is insignificant.”  Another reminded me of all the people that might be inspired to keep going. Yet another told me that God will give me ALL I need to do ALL that He asks of me.  WOW…Am I blessed or what???    By Friday morning I was pretty sure I would call and accept, but the icing on the cake came when I read the Review article and the incredibly kind words of the author.  It was God’s way of telling me, assuring me that He will always be with me and He wants me to share this miracle.

The lesson I learned through all of this is that sometimes all it takes for us to keep going, to be courageous, to believe in ourselves and our ability to accomplish our goals, is KNOWING THAT SOMEONE believes in us!  We all will have moments when we doubt that we will ever be successful, that we will EVER reach our goal, that we can do it, but God always sends those people into our lives who believe in us, even when we doubt ourselves.  Sometimes that’s all it takes, to rely on the faith of someone else when ours is tested. 

More than anything, I want to be that person for you because even when you are wanting to give up; even when you lose hope; even when you think it is impossible and that you will never succeed…..I believe in you!  I have faith in you!  I KNOW that you CAN and you WILL change your life!  Count on me to support you. Count on me to cheer you on. Count on me to be with you each step of the way.  Because I certainly count on all of you!!!!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Theresa's video message for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day! Today is a day to celebrate love...the love of others but mostly the love of God and of yourself. Watch my video to hear my thoughts about love and its role in changing one's life.  Here's the Youtube link:

Yet another opportunity to share God's goodness! Thank you Clare County Review

What a privilege to talk to Pat Maurer and share my story with her and the readers of the Clare County Review in Clare, Michigan. Thank you for the opportunity!

Clare County Review, Feb. 14, 2014 edition

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Many paths up the same mourntain

I received an email message yesterday from a dear friend and it actually saddened me a bit. I’m not going to give her name, but she will likely see this because she is a member of this group. In any case, she had elected to have weight loss surgery a few months back. I knew nothing of this until yesterday. She said she was afraid to tell me because she didn’t want me to be disappointed in her. This made me sad to think that she thought I could EVER be disappointed in her, let alone about something that is a personal decision for her. This woman is amazing. She went back to college in her 50’s after losing a job, took care of her dying husband who had cancer and passed away a year or two ago, graduated with her degree…..AND…now has lost 68 pounds and is going to the gym 3 times a week!  Disappointed????? ABSOULUTELY NOT!  I am so proud of her and happy beyond words that she is feeling better than she has in years.  You go, girl!!!!
This situation is provided me with an opportunity to share my thoughts about our individual journeys.  We’ve all heard the cliché’ “There are many ways to skin a cat.”  So true! You know, if six different people, all living in Michigan, decided to take a trip to the Mackinaw Bridge, it is very unlikely that all six people would take the exact same route. One might elect to take the shortest, quickest way, traveling all highways. Another might decide to take the back roads, stopping multiple times to see the sights along the way. Still another, might decide to take the trip via bicycle, or a small plane, or even a boat. Of course, some ways may take longer traveling time, some might be a bit more costly, especially if overnight lodging or other stops are involved, some travelers might zig-zag all across the state, getting lost along the way, before eventually getting to the bridge. Whatever route or mode of transportation that one decides is right for him/her really has no bearing on my own trip. All that matters to me is that we all get to our destination safely and in good health. What is right for one, may not be right for another, and that is perfectly all right.
The same is true for your OWN PERSONAL journey. How you get there… long it takes…..what program you choose…..what method or plan you follow, really doesn’t have any bearing on my own personal journey. No one way is better than  another, unless it seriously compromises your physical health and well-being or results in behavior that harms another person. If you choose to have surgery, you have my blessing. My sister and my brother-in-law both have had the surgery and are living healthy, happy lives. If you choose weight watchers or protein shakes or diet pills….that’s your choice. All I suggest is that you find a plan that you can stay with FOR LIFE. You must change your entire way of thinking….your entire way of eating….your entire life if you want to change it for good. That’s why I chose the route I did.  Whatever you do, I am here to support you, to encourage you, to cheer you on.
We all have the same goal, not in terms of weight loss or sobriety, etc…, but in terms of becoming healthier, happier people. How long it takes…how many times we stop and turn around…how many times we stray off the path and stop for a period of time….and how we get up to us individually.  All I can say, is that I’m on the same journey as you. I experience the same issues, the same temptations, the same struggles…..but I’ve kept going and will continue to keep going because I know how beautiful it is to finally make it to the bridge, to finally reach a goal, to get to the destination….and I know that every single thing you encounter along the way, as hard as it is, IS SO WORTH IT!!!!  Don’t you dare turn around and go back home. Don’t you dare give up.  Don’t you dare just quit and say you’ll never make it….YOU CAN…and YOU WILL….as long as you keep going, even if it’s just a few steps a day.
One final note….well, two J
1.       Make sure you enjoy the journey….there are blessings all along the way. Don’t focus so much on the end that you forget the blessings of today.
2.       Please don’t think that you could EVER DISAPPOINT me! Even if you struggle….even if you back-slide, even of you gain a few pounds, you are important to me and I am proud of the efforts you are making to change your life, whatever changes you are making or have made!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Just so weird!

What a weird feeling to walk into the grocery story and pick up a tabloid with your story in it! Not sure I'll ever get used to all this fuss! But, if my story helps even one person....then mission accomplished and bring it on! To God be the Glory!!!!

Good or Bad? You decide.

So true! We cannot control those things that come at us to challenge us, but we can prevent some of them by making better choices and avoiding pitfalls. And certainly we can control how we react to them. Don't use food, nicotine, drugs, or alcohol to cope with life. Make good choices today and Make it a good day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Easier to read copy of the National Enquirer article. Feb. 17, 2014

Theresa Borawski - National Enquirer magazine. 2.17.14

Be grateful today.

Good Morning my friends! Yes, indeed today is a new day filled with new possibilities and opportunities to do good.
 I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed this morning trying to comprehend the events of the past few days and to get caught up from a weekend away. Sometimes the price for taking a day off is costly, not in terms of money, but in terms of consequences. It kind of reminds me of the high price we pay when we “take a day off” from our lifestyle change.  The immediate satisfaction of that candy bar, splurge, or shopping spree quickly gives way to a reality check when we realize that we have to face the scale and the credit card bills.  Sometimes it’s just not worth it. 
For me, it definitely was worth it to take a much needed day off to spend with friends and family. I’ll get caught up with my homework and I’ll get the EBay packages packaged and shipped, and all will be well in a few days.  The whirlwind of the National Enquirer story is another thing completely. I just keep shaking my head every time I think of it.  This latest article has spurred other opportunities this week. Last night after work, I did an interview with a feature writer for the local paper for an article to appear in this week’s paper. I have a Skype podcast interview with someone from a fitness website on Thursday and last evening I began a discussion with a woman regarding a speaking engagement in May for ….get this….1800 people!  YIKES, YIKES, YIKES!  That is an awful lot of people and I will need a couple of days of prayer and reflection before I commit to something like that. Who on earth would have ever thought???  Certainly not me!  But, I learned a long time ago that GOD can do all things and we cannot limit His incredible goodness; we must merely be open  to it and all times and be willing to cooperate.
Please remember that I am absolutely no different than you. Certainly I recognize that I have been blessed with a miracle and I have a privilege and responsibility to use it for the good of others, but you, too, are blessed and have the ability to do the same thing. You must not give up hope that God can help you change your life. Notice that I didn’t say, God will change your life….I said that God will give you, He already has given you…what YOU need to change your situation, to walk in freedom and gratitude, to feel happy and healthy in your mind and spirit, regardless of your physical shape, size, and issues. Miracles don’t always mean massive weight loss or physical healing; they don’t always involve financial freedom or perfect relationships. Miracles happen in one’s heart and mind. True transformation, true happiness, true well-being results in a life of gratitude and contentment, of peace and joy, of LOVE.
I encourage you today to embrace all that this day holds…the good and the not so good…the busyness and the rest….the triumph and the defeat…..and make the best of every minute of this day. Share your story, share your love, share you time with all who crosses your path today and above all things…SMILE…even when you don’t feel like it. Your smile this day may change someone’s life…..but mostly, it will be a step in changing your own!
Don’t give up on yourself….or God.  You’ve got this!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Yikes.....My story hit the National Enquirer

My head is kind of spinning this morning as I try to process the events of the past couple of days. My too-short visit with my family is coming to an end and I’m a little apprehensive about my return trip later today because it is snowing and the news is saying the roads are slippery. I’ll just have to take it slow and easy.

 On top of the weather, I’m still reeling from finding out last night that my story hit the National Enquirer! Yikes!  I never even talked to anyone from the magazine, but as I read bits and pieces of the story, I recognized that some of it was taken from the Woman’s World magazine article and other publications. The picture in the purple dress was taken by the Woman’s World photographer when he came to the college for a photo shoot. I never got to see any of the 200+ pictures were taken that day except for the one published in the magazine, and now this one in the Enquirer.  I guess if my story and pictures are “out there” then anyone can run them, even without my knowledge.  Oh well…as long as the truth is told and God is given the glory, I’m going to have to be okay with that.  I just never in my wildest dreams thought I’d end up in a tabloid!  I just don’t even know what to think about all of this. It will take time to adjust to all of this, I suppose.  In any case, the story is on the inside back page of the Feb. 17th issue. Something tells me that car is heading back up the roller-coaster!

Last night 24 of my family members gathered at Olive Garden restaurant to celebrate my aunt Kathy’s birthday. It was great to see everyone all together. I am blessed to have a close knit family that gets together as often as possible. Because I live up north, I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like so I enjoy seeing everyone when I’m able to. 

Going out to dinner can be challenging for those on a weight loss journey. I rarely do it, but this was a special occasion and I planned ahead of time what I was going to order. The waitress was very accommodating, and brought me a bowl of salad without the dressing. I had packed my own dressing discreetly in my purse and simply used that instead of that wonderful Olive Garden dressing .My vinaigrette only has about 5 calories in 2 tablespoons so I used it freely and without guilt. I passed on the breadsticks. I was surrounded by delicious looking pasta dishes drenched in sauce and cheeses, but those types of foods are a definite no-no, even at this stage of my journey. I just can’t give in; it’s too easy to slide down that hill.  For my dinner,  I ordered apricot chicken but had them put the sauce on the side and just used a small amount when I’d occasionally dip a piece of chicken in it. The entrée included grilled chicken, steamed broccoli and asparagus. I’m certain that the entire meal was easily under 500 calories because I didn’t eat the sauce.  Not bad for a rare meal out. 

Eating out was one of the biggest habits I had to break when I started this journey. I very rarely went into restaurants because of the mobility issue and the fact that I couldn’t fit in most booths, but I was a drive-through junkie. I would go to the fast food drive-thru and order as much food as I want without risk of judgment. The person delivering my food didn’t know that all 3 cheeseburgers were for me or that I was going to eat all the super-size fries myself. So, I ate it alone in the privacy of my car. The same with a pizza. I would order an entire small pizza and eat it myself in the privacy of my home.  Being a closet eater and eating alone is a sure way to sabotage your journey. Hiding food, sneaking snacks, stealing treats…..all former practices that contributed to the obesity.

In the three years of this journey, I probably have eaten out less than a dozen times. It’s just not conducive to healthy choices UNLESS you plan ahead. For many people, eating out is a way of life and it’s something they do on a weekly (or more) basis. It presents a real challenge but you can make good choices if you think ahead. Check online for menus. Bring your own salad dressing. Be prepared. Ask for a nutrition guide with calorie information. Don’t be afraid to ask the chef or waitress to go steam or grill your food or put your sauce/gravy, etc. on the side. The restaurant is there to serve you…..don’t pay good money to sabotage yourself for the sake of pride. It’s just not worth it. Plan ahead….and find ways to “live” your life in a new, healthier way. It can be done and you can enjoy many of the social events that have part of your life. Remember…this life change is FOREVER and it’s unlikely that you will give up dining out, going to parties, celebrating birthdays completely for the rest of your life, so you have to find a way to make it work.

I’m going to be extremely busy when I return home trying to get caught up on work, homework, EBay, etc. Trying not to stress about it now, but certainly will have to pay for my short time away. But…all is well…God is good….and I am blessed beyond measure!

Make it a happy day today…..Rejoice….Be grateful….and Stay motivated! You can do it!!!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Meeting a new friend!

Good Morning! I hope you are all staying motivated, feeling happy, and committed to improving your well-being and health!
Yesterday was an awesome day. As you know, I took a vacation day because I was already downstate for a work conference earlier this week and wanted to stick around a few extra days. It’s been great to see my sister and her family, although I was on the road most of the day yesterday, but she had to work yesterday anyway.
I headed to the Monroe area to the Salvation Army Thrift store to meet up with a beautiful young woman, Nikki Shaver that I met when I was downstate on Christmas break. At that time she was working at the Salvation Army thrift store in Taylor, MI. I had never been in that store before and it really was a fluke (well, for me it was God’s providence) that I even went there in the first place. I didn’t even know the store existed, but there was an accident on the freeway so I had to take a detour to get to my destination. It was during this unplanned detour that I found the store, and then at the check-out a casual conversation with the check-out girl, Nikki, led to a new friendship and a new member of our Facebook group. I shared a bit of my story with her as she was bagging my items, wrote my name down on a piece of paper and told her to Google me, and the rest is history!
 I didn’t even know her name a few weeks ago, and now she is a Facebook friend and a fellow companion on this journey. I was so thrilled yesterday to visit her store and meet her for an extended conversation. She is delightful and I look forward to sharing her journey. She said that I am her inspiration…when actually, it’s the other way around…she, and all of you….inspire me to be a better person, to try harder, to stay motivated. So, today, I thank Nikki, and I thank all of you!!!
By the way…her Monroe store is great….very clean and organized….AND… I came home with some awesome items.  I scored four more 100% cashmere sweaters and several new blazer jackets for $1.00 each! You can’t beat that! I can’t even dry clean these items for $1.00!  For those of you that are losing weight quickly and outgrowing sizes, don’t’ be afraid to check out a thrift store. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that they have wonderful, very high quality, name brand items, many still with tags on them. You need to spend a few hours there if you going, especially if you go to a Salvation Army store (which by the way I have found to be the best).  I went down 14 pant sizes when during the course of this journey and there is no way that I could afford to purchase new clothing each month to keep up with my shrinking body. Now I’ve been pretty much stable for the past year, but I’m addicted to clothes and shoes! (better than sugar?????)
From there, I went to the IHM motherhouse to visit my nun friend, Sr. Therese Michael. I know I write about her every time I come downstate but I just absolutely love visiting with her and the other wonderful sisters who have impacted my life over the years. Therese Michael was my algebra teacher 37 years ago and we’ve been close friends ever since. Life-long friendships are a real gift. Although she is confined to a wheelchair and has slowed down mentally and physically, she is still quite alert and a true delight. My only regret? There is never enough time and a six our visit just flies by! When I left, she just kept thanking me for coming. I couldn’t convince her that SHE is the one who inspires me…who blesses me…and I get WAY MORE out of our visits than she possibly could.
Both of my encounters yesterday…with Nikki and Sr. Therese Michael, are perfect examples of how I feel about all you and all those people from around the world who contact me regularly via email. You are always saying such kind things to me, thanking me, telling me that I give you hope and strength, etc…. when in reality… I get more from you, from reading each email, from hearing your story, from seeing your before-after pictures, from sharing your struggles and your triumphs, than you could possibly ever get from me.  We are a team. We have been brought together by divine providence to be companions on this journey; to support each other; to motivate and inspire each other; and to share the ups and downs involved in changing one’s life.  SO...THANK YOU!!!!!
One final thought….I would never have met Nikki had I not had a quick conversation at the check-out. Several of our new group members found us because of a blurb I had on one of my EBay listings. We never know how what we say and how we treat someone, even unknowingly, may affect his/her life. So…ALWAYS…and in ALL WAYS….be kind, be compassionate, and be willing to share your story….whatever that story entails….because not only is God helping you to CHANGE YOUR LIFE, but He is using you to CHANGE SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE as well!
Make it a wonderful day today!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Random thoughts about the conference

Hello my friends!  The conference is going well and it’s good to be away from the office for a couple of days to recharge.  The hotel is lovely; 17 floors! I’m learning some good things and enjoying my stay, but honestly, I’m learning more about  myself than student retention.
 Personally, I’ve discovered that “Old Theresa” is still lurking in the background and there is still plenty of room for improvement in my thinking, and that “New Theresa” will continually be a work in progress.

Some general discoveries/observations:

I still haven’t quite figured out how much “physical space” I need to get around. When I was obese, I always needed to find a large open area because I took up so much room. I’d look for a chair that was on the aisle so that I could ‘overflow’ into the aisle way or I would try to find an empty seat that was surrounded by other empty seats because I knew that I would take up extra room, and my massive body mass would hang over the chair onto the one beside me. I also didn’t want people too close to me…didn’t want them to be touching me or in my space…didn’t want them to hear my heavy breathing due to the obesity or to see how hard it was to reach down to pick up my purse. I also couldn’t cross my legs and was in intense physical pain so I was constantly fidgeting and trying to get comfortable. 

 That isn’t necessary now, but yesterday I noticed that I’d enter one of the conference rooms, automatically choose a chair near the end and immediately move the chair away from the others so as to give myself ample room. It wasn’t until a very large man arrived late to a session and chose the empty seat next to me that I realized that I didn’t really take up that much space anymore.  Not sure I’ll ever get that.  The same thing happened when exiting the large room where the meals were served. The tables were very close together and “Old Theresa” would have had to wait until the room was virtually empty before leaving because she would have had to push chairs in along the way just to get through the aisle.  Not anymore; I managed to fit through spaces that I never thought possible.  Just a weird self-discovery moment that I will need to continually process before I fully “get it” through my head that I’m just not that size anymore.

In addition, I still cannot get it through my head that I am no longer the largest person in the room.  I’ve always been the biggest in my family; the biggest kid in the class and school; the biggest employee, etc. and when I look around the room and see that there are others that are larger than me, I still can’t quite comprehend that. I suppose it is something that will take time to adjust to. I’m constantly trying to figure out how big I am in relation to others because I don’t have a healthy self-image and I still to this day look in the mirror and “see” an image of a person heavier than I am.  I used to look in the mirror and see a different reality and didn’t really realize how big I was until I saw the number on the scale and a rare picture of myself. It works both ways.

Another personal discovery is that my tendency and preference to be alone isn’t entirely connected to my weight. I used to think that I avoided crowds and parties solely because of my size and disability, but now I’m beginning to realize that my “loner” type of mindset is deeply ingrained in my personality. I don’t think it necessarily a bad thing, just a part of my emotional make-up.  The rest of my group from MMCC were going out to dinner last night to a local Italian restaurant. Of course they invited me, but I declined, partly because I’ve yet to discover a low-calorie way to eat Italian food and pasta at a restaurant (at home I eat spaghetti sauce on spaghetti squash, green beans, or zucchini), and partly because I’m just not really all that comfortable in social or group situations. I do much better with one of two. I need to work on that. I ended up ordering a carry-out from the hotel restaurant of a 6 oz. steak with steamed broccoli and cauliflower (excellent by the way) and changed into pajamas and ate it in my hotel room while watching the evening news. I am such a party girl! Not!  Oh well, I enjoyed my evening immensely and was asleep by 9 p.m. 

So far I’ve managed to stay on track with my eating, but I will admit that I’ve eaten more calories that I would normally eat, but nothing off plan. Right now I’m eating a plate of fresh melon (my favorite), fresh pineapple, and some scrambled eggs. Not bad food choices but more than I would typically eat for breakfast. I’ve already eaten a container of plain yogurt at 5 a.m. so I’ve gone over my targeted calories for breakfast, but at least I didn’t eat a donut or one of the luscious muffins that are sitting on the table.  Yesterday for lunch they served a turkey sandwich on large buns, pasta salad, pickles, and cookies. I ate the insides of the sandwich, several pickles, and a yogurt I had put in my bag. Not bad, but I did have a protein bar in the afternoon.  My biggest splurge????   Completely out of the ordinary for me…..2 cans of DIET PEPSI!  I rarely have soda anymore, maybe a can at Christmas or something, but yesterday I had 2 cans and I really enjoyed it! I’m certain it won’t become a habit though and I looked at it as a sort of “I’m at a conference treat.”  Once the conference is over,  I’ll likely not have another soda in quite some time. I don’t even have it in the house.
The conference ends this afternoon and I’ll spend the rest of the weekend downriver visiting friends and family. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for my return trip. It’s been a good couple of days and I am just so grateful that functioning in a situation like this is so much easier at this weight. To God be the glory! 

I’m sharing this stuff, not because I think you are at all interested in the details of my days, but rather to help you see that I am work in progress and will continually have to work to change my thoughts and attitudes. Losing weight has certainly made life physically easier, but emotionally and psychologically it brings challenges. As I’ve said multiple times, changing one’s life begins with one’s thoughts and requires one to change how they think and feel about things, and to identify those emotions and patterns that may have contributed to the weight or addiction in the first place. I’ve realized that some of the very reasons why I allowed myself to gain weight….namely, to put a barrier around me to insulate me from pain and potential hurt, to have an excuse for ‘not participating in life or accepting invitations”, and unrealistic body images….still exist and still must be battled every day. Otherwise, it will become easier for me to go back to the eating habits that caused me to be 400+ pounds in the first place.

I encourage you to do some self-reflection and ask yourself the hard questions….why are you eating….why are you heavy….why are you addicted to cigarettes, booze, drugs, whatever…..why do you engage in emotionally or physically unhealthy behavior in the first place…..and be prepared to deal with those thoughts on a daily basis.

Finally…. Don’t use an event, a wedding, a reunion, a birthday, holiday, or a vacation as an excuse to go off plan. Treat yourself in a healthy way…have some extra fruit and an occasional soda or two, but don’t let anything be an excuse to go crazy and stray off track. Events, holidays, vacations, etc., come and go, but good habits become ingrained and will help you CHANGE YOUR LIFE….for good!
Have a great day and thanks for listening to my rambling “stuff.”