Monday, April 28, 2014

When you don't feel like a winner, try to UNDO

Happy Monday!  For a lot of people, Monday is the dreaded “go back to work or school” day, and is often met with groans and grumbles. On some occasions, I feel this way too, however, today I’m actually glad it’s Monday because I’m hoping that it’s the beginning of a much better week for me.  Last week was a really rough one for me all the way around. I’m guessing you may have figured that out by the limited posts. But…today is a new day….a new week….a new opportunity to “get back on track!”

My last big project for school is due at the end of the week. It’s worth 150 points and is a group effort, meaning my grade is determined by the actions of others. I don’t like group projects. My efforts on this final presentation will determine my grade for the whole semester. The next few days will be pressure-packed, but by the end of the week, I’ll be feeling a lot of relief and will begin the transition in my mind to “summer…. (I chuckle as I write this because it was in the 20’s again last night and there is still not even a bud on a tree around here)….and the more relaxed pace that comes along with the warmer weather. But first, the project….then…the preparation for the two large speaking engagements (the first on May 9th, then on the 16th at the Soaring Eagle).  The Great Britain magazine is due to be published before May 15th; the other very soon as well. I’ll keep you all posted.

In an attempt to escape the swirling emotions in my mind and the stress of the week, I sat in the lazy boy yesterday afternoon and wasted a bit of time playing solitaire on my laptop. It’s rare that I do that because there is always too many other things that I need to do, but yesterday I was just not in the mood to think!  So… I played the silly game, but I wasn’t successful in the “not thinking” part. I wasn’t really concentrating and immediately lost three games in a row.  What???? I play Spider Solitaire and usually I win quite frequently on that game because I have the game set on the “intermediate” settings so I can typically win at least 40% of the time; often much more often. I get no enjoyment playing a game that I can’t win occasionally. There is no satisfaction in doing something that doesn’t produce a positive outcome, and yet, I often put myself in the same situation in my own personal journey. 

I began to think about those choices I’ve made in my life that leave me feeling frustrated, agitated, and “like a loser” in spite of my best effort. I done it professionally for a lot of years….going into work an hour early and staying late… (off the clock) or taking work home, only to have it go unnoticed or unappreciated.  All it ended up doing is leaving me resentful and cutting into the time that could have been spent on myself or my interests.  I don’t do this nearly as much anymore. I still go to work early each day and give 100% when I’m there, but on most days, I leave when the office is closed.

I do it in personal friendships when I choose friendships in which I allow others to “emotionally drain me” and am left feeling resentful, drained, and unfulfilled. Some of these individuals are no longer in my life. These days I am making better choices and are attracting friends who are mutually enjoyable and give as much as they take. Sometimes, like this week, I realize that a relationship is worth the effort it takes to rebuild and repair so that it can become life-giving once again. It’s a painful process, but hopefully, worth it in the end.
In my own personal journey to lose weight, I’ve done it multiple times in the past when I bought into those unhealthy “latest and greatest, sure-fire diet plans” popular in the 80’s and 90’s.  In the late 80’s, I went on a diet called “Stillman’s” and lost a significant amount of weight in year, eating nothing but protein and fats. I called it the “hot dog” diet because I could eat as much as I wanted…..often thousands of calories each day…of things like hotdogs, hamburger, steak, cottage cheese, butter, etc…but no bread, sugar, fruit. I’m guessing it’s sort of like the No carb plans today, although back then, I knew nothing about a carb.  I lost a lot of weight (about 90 pounds) but at what cost? I ended up developing ulcerative colitis and had to carry a roll of toilet paper in my car. I hate to even think about what consuming all that fat and meat did to my cholesterol.  When I went off the plan because my body became ill, I gained the weight back and then some. It was like playing a game that I could not win, even though it appeared at first that I had.

Later in the late 90’s, (my last attempt to lose weight before this life-changing journey), I bought into the “low fat” craze, and again lost a lot of weight, although I never got below 250 pounds. This one consisted of eating all I wanted of “fat free” or “low fat foods”. It was easy for me to follow, and I lost about 80 pounds or so….but I learned nothing. I became addicted to sour-dough hard pretzels and Snackwell’s fat-free cookies, both of which were high in calories, low in nutrition, but not fat. I could all I wanted of them; and I did! In fact, I even ordered the pretzels by the case and had them sent to me at home directly from the company because I could only find my favorite brand in my “up north grocery store” and I closed up my cabin for half the year.  I had a box of pretzels by my bedside, in my car, at my desk at work, and by the chair in the living room. I initially lost weight, but at what cost? I learned nothing about nutrition, portion control, or calorie counting, and I gained it all back…. and then some.  It was like a game that I couldn’t win.

After losing five Solitaire games in a row yesterday, I decided that “this was just a stupid waste of my time” and I had two choices: Either I could sit there and waste another half-an-hour of my precious weekend playing a game that I was losing, or I could figure out how to beat it!  I had already invested time into the current game that I was about to lose, and I was sick of being a loser, so I was going NOT GOING TO LOSE that stupid game unless I had done everything in my power to win. 

SO… I found the “UNDO” button and kept clicking it over and over and over, undoing my moves one-by-one, until I got to almost the beginning of the game. I then made different choices, different plays…..and low and behold….my choices led to different a different outcome. Sometimes, I discovered that I slipped back into the old moves….and played the same cards that I did previously, and ended up in the same “stuck” place… I hit UNDO again and went back a few more plays, undoing the moves that threatened my ability to win.  I was determined that I was NOT GOING TO GIVE UP ON THIS STUPID SOLIATIRE game and that I would sit there all day if I had to, undoing my previous moves, AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN….because I was sick of losing a game that I know can be won.  Undo…play….see some progress, (Ha! I’m going to win it now) and then “out of moves” and then Undo again, try something different.  Over and over again I did the same thing……UNTIL…..I began to see progress.  Suddenly, I was winning!  My effort was paying off and I was seeing progress. Each play led to other plays and before long, I was getting closer and closer to beating that silly game.  Eventually, I won and was awarded with those computer animated fireworks that are displayed after a win.   I felt smug; I felt victorious; I felt motivated and determined! Sure those feelings were initiated by a silly computer game, but they really had a deeper meaning to me.  Once I won that game, I turned off the computer and got on with the rest of my day.

All day long, I couldn’t help but think about how many times my journey has felt like that game. No matter what I do, things don’t’ go as I intend. Sometimes, I would stick to my plan faithfully, but the scale didn’t cooperate. Sometimes I would go out of my way to do something special for someone, and it wasn’t appreciated. Sometimes I put a lot of effort into putting together a special outfit to look great and it would go unnoticed.  Sometimes I work exceptionally hard at work, going above-and-beyond the expectations of my supervisors, and the idea or proposal is “shot down.”  Over and over again, my efforts do not have the outcome that I desire, and I end up feeling like a loser.  Sometimes, especially when I’m weary, the weather is dreary, or I’m not feeling well physically, I buy into that mentality.  Just like that stupid solitaire game, I begin to believe that I am a loser.  BUT THEN……I realize that I have a choice!  I am NOT a loser…. (well, at weight loss I am!)….and I have the option of UNDOING…REDOING...MAKING DIFFERENT CHOICES… that that outcome is different. 

Last week was a difficult one, but THIS week is going to be different. It’s time to get back in the game of life; to get back on track; to focus my energy on those things which I can control, namely MY attitude, choices, and actions.  It’s time to go back to doing what I know leads to peace and joy; to spend more time in prayer; to get out and walk/ride my bike if the weather cooperates; to surrender my life to God; to write, think, and surround myself with people that are life-giving and uplifting.  That solitaire game did more for my spirit than any self-help book could have; it renewed my determination to succeed and it made me realize that sometimes, even when it appears that we are losing the game, we don’t’ have to accept the loss and feel like a loser….we can UNDO…REDO…UNDO again…and REDO….until we get it right. AND…if after our best efforts, we still fail, we can chalk it up as a “loss” can START A NEW GAME!  My friends….we are not losers; we are WINNERS!!!  I can do it….and you can do it.  We can and we will….do it together!!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Today I Choose

There are many time when I don’t want to make a choice. I don’t like to have to make decisions because I want a bit of it all. It’s always a dilemma to decide what to wear to work: I often change outfits multiple times. I couldn’t decide which dress to wear for the photo shoot last week: I ended up bringing three spare dresses, shoes, and jewelry!  I can’t decide which flowers to plant each spring: I usually end up buying multiple varieties. When I go shopping, I have a hard time deciding which shoes to buy because I like them all. This is primarily why I shop thrift stores. I can buy several pair!   Right now, I’m in the process of making big decisions about my personal and professional life; some which are downright difficult.

My reluctance to make decisions likely is rooted in some psychological things of which I know little about; probably something about fear to fail or not wanting to make a poor decision because I was taught that “you made the bed; you lie in it”.  Perhaps it comes from the reality that decisions lead to change and change is unsettling at times. Maybe it comes from ‘not wanting to ever hurt anyone’s feelings or cause another to be left out’ when the choices involve people. Or even the realization that the choices that are best for me might disappoint another.  I’d like to be noble and think that it comes from some admirable characteristic like “seeing goodness in everything” but when it comes to clothes, shoes, and STUFF, that’s not admirable; it’s cluttering and crippling.  It’s also that tendency that resulted in the four stray cats that share my home with me!  Who knows…but in any case, I’ve come to realize that in some things, “I don’t have to choose,” but in other things, CHOICE, even when it’s painful and frightening, is necessary for growth and change.

I’m tabling my big decisions for the bit and instead am going to focus on ATTITUDE and HABITS.  Each day we are given the choice to make it a good day….or not.  We are not always given the option to choose the things that happen to us, but we are given the privilege of choosing how we react to them. Do we say, “Oh, poor me” or “Well, there must be some kind of lesson here that God is trying to teach me”? We are not given a choice about the weather, but we are often given a choice about where we live, and certainly, how we deal with it.  Do we mope and cry when it “rains on parade” or do we “dance in the rain”? We are not always given the choice about the crosses that we are asked to bear, but we are given the choice to ask God to help us carry it. 

Today…. I am not ready to make some of the decisions weighing on me, so I am choosing to sit with them; pray about them; think about them.  Perhaps “NO CHOICE” will be my choice!  However, I am ready to make a decision to CHOOSE to be grateful ….that I have so many options… many opportunities… many blessings.  I am going to make a choice to be happy and try to find the best in each situation and person I encounter. I am going to choose to treat my body as the miracle it is by fueling it with good, nutritious food rather than junk. I am going to choose HOPE over despair, love over hatred, joy over sadness, and peace over anxiety.

What kind of choices are you going to make today?????

Sunday, April 20, 2014

New life is yours! Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! 
This is the day the Lord has made….I will rejoice and be glad in it.  In a couple of hours I will head to church to celebrate Mass. Easter is the biggest celebration in the life of a Christian. Sometimes it’s hard for me to comprehend that something that seemed so impossible….rising from death to new life….could have really happened.  I mean, who does that?  Who comes back to life after being “dead”?  How does that happen? Is it really possible? 

For most of my life, the Resurrection was a doctrine that was “taught to me”, and event that was supposed to be the core basis of my faith; something that we celebrated every day at Mass when we proclaimed the death and resurrection of Jesus. As a child, Easter was a much bigger deal in terms of the “holiday rituals” than it is today; likely because my parents and grandparents were alive.  I always had a new outfit for Easter; complete with new white patent leather shoes and matching Easter bonnet.  The house was always filled with the scent of Easter lilies and ham cooking in the over before mass. The week before Easter was just as exciting and filled with all kinds of rituals and customs ranging from Palm Sunday celebrations, the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, coloring of eggs, and the blessing of the food at church on Holy Saturday. Easter really was the biggest day of the year.

It was my mother’s favorite holiday and the Easter Sunday festivities were typically held at our house each year.  Those traditions have all changed now that my parents have passed, and honestly, it’s bittersweet for me to think of them because I miss my parents, my priest friend, Fr. Tom, and those celebrations. I have to fight really hard in the weeks prior to Easter not to allow myself to slip into a “poor me” kind of mind-set. I used to deal with it with peanut-butter eggs and chicken Peeps. Now I deal with it in quiet reflection and choosing to celebrate quietly. Although I’m always invited to attend a family dinner/celebration out-of-town, I usually find it best for me ‘emotionally, nutritionally, and spiritually” to stay put and have a quiet dinner at home.  It gives me the opportunity to truly reflect on EASTER….on the message and meaning….and to get in touch with what it really means in my life.

Although the Easter miracle has always been something that I was taught, and believed without questioning, I have never been so certain of anything in my life.  Jesus has risen; He is risen indeed!  The “new life” that will we sing about in a couple of hours is not just an event that happened 2000+ years ago, but it is something that I LIVE each and every day since beginning this journey.  Today it is not just…..HE is risen…..but I AM RISEN……and YOU are risen as well!  I don’t need “proof” that Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead: I see it every time I look in the mirror.  I don’t need something to explain how someone who was “at rock bottom” can be brought back to life: I see it each time I look at the wheelchair in my office or the walker in the garage. I don’t need someone to explain to me how a man who was “beaten down, bruised and battered, mocked and abandoned”; one did nothing but try to spread love, forgiveness, and peace, could experience so much pain and suffering, and not remain dead: I see it every time I look at those horrific “before” pictures that are now circling the globe.  JESUS died…..and rose… that I MAY LIVE!  It’s never been clearer to me in my life. I mean, who does that?  Who comes back to life after being “dead”?  How does that happen? Is it really possible?  YES, indeed. It was not only POSSIBLE for me; but it’s POSSIBLE for you too!

 So today…. I rejoice, I celebrate, and above all, I give thanks, that not only does He live; not only has He died and rose, but because He did it, so I can….and you can… it too!  Easter is not just about something that happened many years ago. It’s not just about something that we read about or hear about in churches around the world today. It’s about YOU and ME, and the NEW LIFE that we can and will have…..BECAUSE of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  The miracle happened….the price was paid. All we have to do is believe it and choose to live that new life!

It is quite obvious that my life has changed dramatically in recent years. Oftentimes, people read my story or see my pictures and they immediately see the obvious: I LOOK totally different today than I did 250+ pounds ago. That cannot be denied. But what isn’t so obvious from a photo is the “changes” that have taken place in my heart and head. Those changes have transformed me in a more profound way than the weight loss. Those changes continue to happen; continue to take work; continue to challenge me to grow and adapt; to FEEL emotion and confront pain, fear, and doubt.  This is certainly not an easy process by any means and sometimes the temptation to just reach for a cookie or candy bar instead of confronting and working through the struggles, is overwhelming. I’m guessing many of you know what I mean, even if your “drug of choice” comes in a bottle, or a pill, or a credit card.

Transformation…..Resurrection…..New life…..whatever name you want to give it, is a daily, life-long reality. It’s a choice we have to make each and every day: Either we choose to LIVE a new life, or we choose to remain “dead”; trapped in a life of depression, sadness, addiction, defeat or pain.  Today, I choose LIFE. I hope you do too!

In the coming days, I will be sharing some very exciting news with you. Last Friday, Good Friday, I had the privilege of meeting three wonderful people; individuals that I believe are all part of the plan that God has prepared for me to share this new life with the world, for HIS glory. My head has been spinning all weekend thinking about the conversation and the possibilities for the future. All I can say at this point is that I am blessed beyond measure and there is NO DOUBT in my mind today that HE has risen; HE has risen indeed!

My prayer and wish for you today is that you will be immensely aware that the Resurrection is not just something that happened many years ago to one person. It is happening all around you and it is happening to you as well; even if you don’t recognize it today.

 You might still be “hanging on the cross” or “feeling dead, defeated, and hopeless”. You might still be “in the tomb” waiting to be brought back to life, to be set free, to be raised up.  TODAY….I encourage you to BELIEVE…to take the first step out of the tomb; to start taking off those “burial clothes”, to slowly drop that heavy load of pain and suffering you are carrying….and come out of that tomb.  Take the first step out of the darkness….and walk in the NEW LIFE that was won back then and is ALL AROUND YOU.   Make it a Happy Day; a day to celebrate and rejoice!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Stay on track this Easter!

Good Morning friends! I know that this Easter weekend can be tough for those of us on a weight loss journey. I encourage you to find positive ways to celebrate the holiday, rather than allow the temptation for jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, or peanut butter eggs to overcome you and sabotage your progress. Sure, that candy will taste great, but it certainly won't taste as good on Monday as staying in control. Be strong....resist....It's just not worth it! You can do it....We can do it.....After all.......WE ARE changing our lives....together! Have a good day!

Friday, April 18, 2014

You victory and new life was already won on the cross

Good, Good Friday Morning to all my Christian friends. It is not my intention to alienate those that do not share my Christian faith perspective, but I cannot separate my faith from my journey. It’s who I am; it’s the force that gives me life.  And so, today, on Good Friday, my thoughts are simple:  Complete gratitude…..and recognition….that Jesus died….on that cross… that I may might be free: Free from death, free from obesity, free from compulsive and emotional eating, free from addictive behavior, depression, fear, sadness, pain.  As I observe Good Friday, I am extremely conscious that Jesus paid the price….He won the battle…..He secured the victory…..that day on the cross. Not just my new life, my victory, my battle…..but YOURS as well….whatever that battle is. Each and every day I say this prayer, multiple times throughout the day…especially when I’m walking because it is rhythmic and helps me keep pace as I walk or ride my bike. I repeat it over and over, setting my pace:  “Thank you, Lord, Thank you Lord, you have set me free; Thank you, Lord, Thank you, Lord, for this victory!”   Over and over I repeat those words with each step.

Today will be a quiet day of reflection for me, not one in which I dwell on the sufferings of the cross because I cannot bear to think of that, but rather, one in which I unite my own struggles, my own pain, my own fears, concerns, wants….with Jesus…..and mostly one where I just stand before that cross, recognizing that the suffering endured on that first Good Friday was for ME….and for you!  What better way to say, Thank you….than to walk in that victory….to recognize the sacrifice….and to unite my own cross with His.  Have a wonderful day today…..

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thoughts on avoiding pitfalls

Happy Holy Thursday. In today's video, I share my thoughts about avoiding pitfalls in the road. Make a plan to stay on track!

Monday, April 14, 2014

What you think is IMPOSSIBLE may just be unrealistic

Today.....I'm going to remind myself over and over again that NOTHING IS  impossible with faith.....and MOST THINGS are possible with a lot of work, will, and determination.  The thing I think is important here though  is to ask yourself what it is that you really want.....and be realistic about it too......I mean, for wear a size 2....and weigh 100 POSSIBLE.....(but why would I want that????)......but not likely, nor desirable. might very well be that the things that you are thinking are IMPOSSIBLE may just be unrealistic and unnecessary, which, in turn, become an excuse not to try.

 I mean, seriously.....if I said to myself, "Theresa, it's just not possible for you to run a 26 mile marathon or complete in the Olympics, so there is NO POINT in any type of training",  I'd very likely be right, so it could become a really big excuse to just do never get up out of the lazy boy.  But if  is said to myself, " You  know, is POSSIBLE (but really HARD considering my joint damage from RA and my continually painful/numb feet from neuropathy) to do a 5K WALK (not run) by September, then that's a different mindset.....a different goal, one that could be reached with hard work, effort, and daily commitment to walk a little further each time.   What seems IMPOSSIBLE to even think about today could very well happen in a few months if you are realistic about your desires.

This week..... I encourage you to think about what things you are telling yourself are IMPOSSIBLE......and ask yourself....IS IT REALLY IMPOSSIBLE......or IS IT a goal that I need to "re-define" and break into smaller steps. Once you determine that it IS POSSIBLE...then get busy!  When I started this journey.... I thought it was IMPOSSIBLE to lose 100 pounds, let alone 270, so for years,I didn't even try.  But when I quit worrying about what seemed IMPOSSIBLE....and just tried to lose 10....and then 10 more.....and 10 more after that......Well.....what once SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE....became a reality!!!!

Nothing is impossible with God on your side.....but it might be a better idea to ask yourself......what is possible for me to do in two months, rather than focus on what is possible in two years!    

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sometimes change happens "almost overnight"

It’s a beautiful spring afternoon in Northern Michigan….cloudy with rain in the forecast, but 60 degrees! I cooked a big Sunday dinner today and I just came in from a walk. I cooked pork strips in the crock pot and had an ear of sweet corn (with non-calorie butter spray), part of a baked sweet potato (sweetened up a bit with cinnamon and Splenda), carrots, and a sliced cucumber in a sugar-free vinaigrette dressing. All of these things are acceptable for me to eat, but I certainly was full when I left the table: hence, the extra-long walk! Also, we have snow in the forecast for this week so I wanted to get out and enjoy the weather why I can.

While I was walking, I couldn’t help but think about the change in the weather this week. I only saw a little bit of remaining snow in the ditches, and the frogs were singing non-stop in the swamp in the backyard and along the road where I walked. Spring is definitely in the air!  Most of the afternoon and all through the night last night we had thunderstorms and very heavy rain. When I woke up this morning, the yard, ditches, flower beds, etc. were under water, it was thundering and lightning like crazy, but to my surprise, when daylight arrived, the grass in my backyard was nearly green; not a “pull out the mower tomorrow” green just yet, but certainly not the dead brown that was peeking through the snow all week. I even have some tulips and daffodils poking up through the ground!  It was almost as if spring arrived “All at once.” After weeks of complaining and whining, shivering and shoveling, with very little evidence of spring, it arrived “just like that.”  

This sudden change got me thinking about my/our journey and how sometimes we experience those periods…..sometimes lasting weeks…..when it appears that “nothing is happening” and “we are never going to reach that first (or next) goal, or we are never going to fit into the next smaller size……or worse yet…..nobody IS EVER going to notice that we have lost/are losing weight.  We may lose a ½ pound one week…..nothing the next….maybe a pound the next….and so on…..and everyone keeps telling us to “be patient’ or “stick with it”…..and we do….but still…..hardly any progress.  Sort of like the late arrival of spring in northern Michigan.

 But THEN…..almost overnight…..”We see progress!”  “Just like that”……”all at once”……We can zip those pants!  After weeks of virtually no movement on the scale…..we lose 3 or 4 pounds…we carry in the groceries and not need a nap afterwards…...we can be in the same room with someone who is smoking a cigarette or having a drink…… someone says, “wow, you look great” or we finally have to retire that pair of pants that have gotten so baggy that they fall off (YES, it happened to me…..more than once!).  It’s those moments that give us the energy to keep going, to keep trying, to keep believing in our miracle, much like days like today give me hope that spring is definitely on the way!

 Don’t lose hope…..keep plugging away…..keep doing things right and sticking to your plan….Even when, (no not even when, ESPECIALLY WHEN) you don’t see progress. Have faith….it will happen!  Unlike the weather, which we can do absolutely NOTHING to control, WE HAVE THE POWER within to make success happen……maybe not “all at once”…..but little-by-little, day-by-day…….ONE THOUGHT…..ONE STEP…..ONE MEAL at a time!   Keep with it! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

How do you see yourself?

Good Morning!   It’s Saturday….and I’ve been up for hours already but enjoying the day so far. Had a pleasant wee-morning phone conversation with a friend and finally did my income taxes (nothing like waiting till the last minute).  Later, I’ll be going to pick up my vehicle from the repair shop and then will be back to business as usual.

There’s been some exciting things happening in the past week or so regarding the sharing of my story. I signed a contract with a European magazine to do a feature story with them. The interview will take place via phone (no trip to England for me) sometime in the very near future.  On Tuesday, I have a photo shoot set up for another magazine…possibly two (these are health magazines)…to be published here in the state sometime this summer. I also finalized the deal to deliver a keynote address for a woman’s wellness day in early May, and then the following week I’ll be speaking at the Soaring Eagle Casino for the State Recognition Conference for T.O.P.S.  Fortunately these two big events will happen the day after my college semester ends. The main focus in the coming weeks will be finishing up my classes and final projects, and THEN, I’ll worry about the speeches.  However….What to wear for all these events is ALWAYS a priority…LOL!  J   Yes, I am SUCH A GIRL! 

In the very near future, I will be meeting with someone to assist me in determining if I need to set up an LLC business in the event that I continue to get approached for various speaking requests. This is such a foreign world to me….and I honestly, just shake my head when I think about all that has happened in my life in the past year or two. I am…..apprehensive and anxious at times….confused and weary at times….fearful and at a loss of words at times…..and yet….I am always humbled, honored, and grateful. I simply must believe that God has a purpose in mind, and trust that He will lead me in the right direction and to the right people to help me out and teach me what I need to know.  I also need to come up with a business name in the event that I need to go that route…I’ve got a few ideas, but am open to suggestions…..feel free to help with your ideas!   So….onward and upward I go….one thought, one step, one day at a time.  I’m so blessed to have you all as companions on this journey!
When I saw this clipart, it really struck me because I have struggled with self-image for many years. This clip one is a positive image…..the old woman sees herself completely different than the rest of the world does. At times we all have periods when we think we are better than we really are….we become self-absorbed and egotistical….we think we are invincible and “all that and then some.” For a lot of years, I looked in the mirror and didn’t see reality….(How did I not truly “see” that I was over 400 pounds?) Oftentimes, we are in denial and we fail to recognize that we are in trouble….serious trouble and we tune out those who try to help. Some of you might relate. Perhaps, like me, you didn’t realize how big you were/are until you saw a picture of yourself…or you saw the number on the scale…..or you realized that you had outgrown the largest size in the store.  Some of you may not have realized how serious your addiction, emotional or psychological problem, health, relationship or depression was until you get a DUI,  you landed in the hospital, your spouse had an affair, or you hit rock-bottom and wanted to end your life. It’s those Ah-ha moments that prompt us to change. I was no different…I failed to see how bad things really were.
 Sometimes these days I struggle in the opposite way. I look in the mirror and see the old Theresa….the fearful Theresa…the disabled, overweight, defeated, sad, worthless Theresa.  It is a constant struggle to see the new Theresa…to recognize the goodness and presence of God in the mirror, even though I am continually receiving positive feedback, words of encouragement and support, and expressions of gratitude, etc…from others.  I am so blessed to have wonderful people… you and very dear friends…who saw goodness in me THEN….and see goodness NOW….and are willing to reflect it back to me.  I battle this negativity often and daily surrender it to God, asking Him to help me see in myself what He sees in me; namely, that I am wonderfully made in His image…flaws and all.

Sometimes, I think we can be our own worst enemy…..and that negative reflection we have of ourselves, and our self-doubt, unworthiness, unwillingness to look beyond our weaknesses….are the very things that threaten to sabotage our progress and derail us off track.  Oftentimes, we fail….we give into temptation….we fall off the wagon, binge, gain a few pounds…fly off the handle or over-react…..and we beat ourselves up so bad that we feel like LOSERS….failures…..and give up hope completely. We forget how far we’ve come. We forget how blessed we are. We forget that we are WONDERFUL and BEAUTIFUL in spite of what we see.  Such a bad place to be “mentally and emotionally.”    One of the most important keys to successful change is to BELIEVE in yourself….your ability to change…..your determination to win…..your partnership with GOD…..and to walk in confidence, knowing that you are NOT WHERE YOU WANT TO BE….but you are heading in the right direction and you will get there. 

As I mentally prepare for these exciting weeks ahead, it will be so important for me to continually remind myself that I am blessed and empowered…. and to come to me myself as one who has been given an important mission to bring hope to others…one who has the privilege of sharing her story for the glory of God, so that I can be open to being used by God to help others.  It is important for you, too….to begin to see yourself in the same way. God has a plan for your life….He has blessed and empowered you….He has equipped you to be successful in your own journey to wellness. Doing something special for yourself…buying a new dress…getting a new haircut…..making time for yourself will certainly help!
My prayer and hope is that when we look in the mirror today…..and from here on in…..we see ourselves as a new creation….as happy, healthy, better.....(doesn’t even have to be thinner…just better)  people and that we see GOD in ourselves…so that others will see HIM in us too!  Be happy today…….Be kind…..Be blessed!  

Oh yes…and tell yourself that you are a winner!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

fighting the urge not avoid stress eating

Good Morning....This is my battle of the day.....avoiding the temptation to eat when I'm not hungry. I have a personal day off today to take a friend for an eye injection and then to get a broken brake line repaired on my vehicle. This morning I'm feeling stressful because I have so many things to get done in the next couple of weeks and I'm running out of time to do so. So....have given myself the "talk" this morning....made a plan to tackle those things that are immediate and have a deadline of tomorrow evening (namely, some homework assignments) and the top priority this afternoon is getting the vehicle repaired.  Once I get back from town for the appointment and the car repair and several other important errands, I'll have a healthy lunch and take a walk to clear my mind and then proceed with one task at a time.    

If you are like me, you may reach for junk when you feel stressed, rushed, pressured, tired, angry....whatever....even happy!  It will be important for me today to remember to feed my body, not my emotions.....and even more important that "taking time to care for THERESA" needs move to the top of the "to do list" today.  That means, no guilt for taking a walk, talking to a friend on the phone, or closing my eyes to rest for a short break.  Above all..... I will battle the urge/temptation to eat more than I need.  That'll only make it worse!

Some exciting and wonderful things have been happening in the couple of weeks....hopefully in a few days, i'll be able to share them with you.  Until strong.....keep fighting....and take comfort in knowing that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.....  we ALL fight the fight....every day!!!!  Do what you can to make it a happy day for yourself....but more importantly, make it a happier day for someone else!!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Quitting is not an option!

Good Morning!  It is 6:00 a.m. and I’m dressed and ready for work, but really am not quite awake and raring to go yet, even though I’ve been up since 3 a.m. Some days are like that, I suppose. I’ve yet to come up with anything profound to focus my thoughts on today and I’ve spent the wee morning hours just thinking about all the things that are on my plate these days.  Much of it is exciting; much of it is stressful; much of it is humbling and somewhat frightening....but all of it is GOOD in some way.
I’ve headed into the final month of the school semester, and honestly, I will be SO HAPPY when this semester is over. It’s been a rough one and the amount of classwork expected in one of my classes has been quite overwhelming. Had I realized how much time I was required to put into these classes, I would not have enrolled in them...because my “just for fun” courses have turned into a big, big stress producer.  BUT….the end is near….even though there is a HUGE….very HUGE….. project looming over my head. These next weeks are going to test my commitment and resolve in a big way. BUT….sometimes those things that test our will….and challenge us in a big way….are the very things that build our character, confidence, and strengthen us to  persist in even more important things in life. 

Perhaps you had a parent, like I did, that frowned on “quitting.”  Although I am well-known for starting projects and not finishing them, I was taught as a child that quitting when things get hard isn’t really an option. When I wanted to quit piano lessons, my mom insisted that I practice and keep at it, “because some day you’ll be glad you can play piano.”  I am glad I can play the piano, but I haven’t done it in years because I no longer have one to play.  When I wanted to quit the softball team because I was not a very good player and we lost just about every game, my mother didn’t allow it, saying “You made a commitment to the team; you can’t quit.”  When I walked away from Girl Scout Camp as a little girl, explaining to my mom that  they wanted me to do “stupid activities and sleep in a tent,” she insisted that I go the Girl Scout meeting the next week and apologize to the group leader. (I hated that!) 

As I look back on those life-lessons, I realize that I was incredibly blessed to have a mother who taught me principles that would later impact my life in a powerful way. It saddens me, however, to realize that I didn’t come to appreciate all those things until later in life, many years after her sudden death at a very young age. I never got to tell her, “Thank You.”  Part of what keeps me going in this journey….that keeps me pushing myself to the limit…..that keeps me trying harder each day… thinking that the best way to honor my parents….is to live those lessons and teach them to others.

One of the most common questions I’m asked these days is, “What kept you going, Theresa…..How did you stick with the plan…..Didn’t you ever want to quit and give up?”  Of course, I wanted to give up….sometimes I still do, especially when I’m overly stressed and tired, and feel torn in many directions.  Absolutely, I asked/told myself, “Is it all worth it…..I’ll probably just gain it all back anyway; almost everybody does…..This is just stupid: I’ve followed this plan to a T, not wavering once, and this is the 3RD week in a row where I stayed the same.”   Sometimes now, as exciting as it is to be given all these opportunities to share my story, I think, “Gosh, for ONE week, it would be nice to just go home and not have to worry about all these things like, “What am I going to wear for this speech….what am I going to say…what if they don’t like me….how on earth am I going to have time to go do this latest photo shoot for yet another magazine….how am I supposed to inspire someone who is at rock bottom…..” and so forth……and yet, I’m so incredibly blessed……and Quitting is not an option!  My mother didn’t allow it…and I won’t allow it for myself either!  Thank you, mom….for that!

In my day-to-day interaction with struggling students, I often have appointments with individuals that want to quit school.  Sometimes there are valid and very serious reasons why a student has to withdraw from classes...serious illness; death of a loved one; tragedy or accident. Those situations are different. I was in that position in my early college career as a teenager; I quit the first time around to go to work full-time and to help my mom when she had heart attack.  But most of the students simply want to quit because “it’s hard….it’s too much work….I’m doing my best and still not “getting it”….there is just too many other things I’d rather be doing than homework.”  Those are the students that I need to really try to reach…to teach them that “Life is one gets a “free ride”……it takes work and effort to reach goals, etc…”  It’s a challenge to convince them that the joy and satisfaction of reaching one’s goal….or reaching the end….of pushing yourself to the limit….is worth the effort.  Thank you, mom…for teaching me that lesson, so that I, in turn, can teach others the same!

I’m guessing that some…if not all…of you have felt this way about your own personal journey to wellness. Maybe you are at that point now.  Perhaps you’ve tried and failed, so you quit and gave up hope completely. Perhaps you’ve been successful in the past, but have slipped into old habits and find yourself back to square one again.  Perhaps you have ‘busted your butt” for weeks and have yet to see any progress….the scale hasn’t moved; people haven’t noticed; your clothes are still tight; you still can’t walk up the stairs without huffing and puffing.  Perhaps you’ve found that “It’s just too hard” and you’ve convinced yourself that you can’t do it.  Anyone willing to admit this is “YOU?”  Of course, it’s you….if not today….it used to be YOU….and chances are…it you will feel this again and again and again…for the rest of your life.  Human nature is that we all want to take the easiest path…the path of least resistance.  I don’t know of anyone who consciously says, “I’m going to look for the hardest way to do this….so that I can suffer the most…..take the most painful approach”…(but I suppose there are those who think this way).  We all have been…or are…tempted to give up, to turn back, and to lose hope.   BUT…..for me…..QUITTING IS NOT AN OPTION!   Even if I die trying; I won’t give up! SIGH…………….THANK YOU, MOM! 

And so…..if you’ve quit….if you’ve given up….yesterday, last week, last month…..or already this morning….. Tell yourself right now, “I am not a QUITTER. Quitting is not an option. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, I want to give up. Yes, it stinks because I want pancakes. No, I don’t want to exercise…No, I don’t want to eat one more day of salad…..BUT, I AM NOT A QUITTER!!!!!  Theresa says I can’t quit…Theresa says that it will be worth it. Theresa said that God will be with me.  Theresa says I CAN DO THIS!”  Dig deep….stay positive…start over….and do what you have to do…BUCKLE DOWN and GET IT DONE!  You can….and you will change your life…..but NOT IF YOU QUIT!  Don’t give up on your miracle!  It’s hard work…but it’s so worth it!

Make it a happy day!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Feed your hunger with gratitude

There is so much wisdom in this quote. Gratitude can change your life in an even more powerful way than weight loss or giving up a bad habit.   It can also CHANGE SOMEONE ELSE’s Life too!  It’s amazing how much more willing we are to be kind; to be giving; to go the extra mile; to help others….when we feel valued and appreciated. Others will treat us better when they know that we are grateful for their efforts…..even when they are not perfect and their efforts don’t quite meet our expectations.

 Although I try each day to live a life of gratitude and to recognize everything that happens as a gift, I often fall short, especially when I’m weary, experience stress, get overwhelmed. Today…..I am going to be extra focused on trying to be sure to express my gratitude….First, to God, for the blessing of this new day; for the coffee that is helping to wake me out of this state of weariness; for the big old cat on my lap who is trying to interrupt my typing because he wants some loving; for the sound of the furnace that is making it cozy; for the fuzzy slippers that are covering my painful toes; for the vehicle in the driveway with a possible broken brake line, but got me safely home last night;  for each person that I will come in contact with today….some that will bless, uplift, and inspire me…… and those that will disappoint, frustrate, and confuse me.  In all things…pleasant and unpleasant….I am going to TRY (heck, I’m even grateful that I don’t need to be PERFECT and that I can TRY again and again) to find something to be grateful for.

TODAY…my goal….my priority….is to express gratitude….to give someone else the gift of feeling appreciated… say, “THANK YOU”…..but only if I sincerely mean it. There is nothing worse than phoniness…ingenuine expressions of appreciation….empty words.   Today…. I am going to make a conscious effort to find ways to say, THANK the stranger who holds the door open for me; to the stranger that smiles at me as I pass him/her in the hallway; for the clerk at the grocery story who tells me to have a good day; to the driver that lets me switch lanes in the traffic; to the friends and/or loved ones who show me love or kindness; for the student that comes to my door seeking help instead of trying (and failing) to handle the situation alone……TO….FOR…..   My best educated guess: If I approach this day LOOKING FOR….Trying to recognize…..SEEKING OUT…ways/situations to be grateful…..I will be overwhelmed with blessings, or at least I will become aware of all the good things that happen around me that often go unnoticed in the midst of chaos.  Try it….you may be pleasantly surprised how your attitude changes… your focus becomes outward… suddenly you don’t need that candy bar or cigarette to make you feel good this afternoon… suddenly, it’s not food that is feeds your emotions and makes you feel happy, but rather your mindset.

I encourage you to join me……Look for blessings and positives this day….and do what you can to MAKE it a good day….regardless of what comes your way!

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's all about perspective

It was a beautiful day in northern Michigan yesterday. It was sunny and warm, and spring was in the air! I went to mass, picked up a few groceries on the way home, cooked a very nice dinner for a friend, and took an afternoon walk in the afternoon sunshine.  It was 52 degrees and the mounds of snow were slowly melting in the warmth; a sure sign of better days ahead. 

I walked down the muddy road, wearing only a flannel shirt, jeans, and sneakers; no coat, scarf, gloves, or boots! Gosh, it felt great.  As I walked, I noticed all the snow still remaining in the woods, but the ice is slowing breaking up in the ditches, and there is running water on the banks. As I walked, I kept thinking about PERSPECTIVE.  Fifty-two degrees felt like 75 after a really long winter, and compared to the 10 degrees we had one day last week. And yet, 52 on a late June afternoon would be bitterly cold, and everyone would be complaining about the weather. And yet…it felt awesome! It’s all about perspective.  This made me think about the standards that I use to determine progress. What measuring stick do I use?

Sometimes we all tend to fall in the trap of comparing our situation….whatever it is; progress….finances….relationships…….struggles…..EVERYTHING……to other people, and we often end up feeling sorry for ourselves.  It’s a dangerous practice, one that can rob us of peace and joy, and leave us feeling unsatisfied, depressed, defeated, and even worse: Ungrateful.

As I walked, I thought about this more and more. First, I thought about money. I’ve been selling some of my old stuff on EBay in recent weeks. It’s a lot of work, takes a lot of time (that I can’t really spare) but I managed to earn some extra money in the process. For a girl like me, a couple of hundred dollars is a REALLY BIG deal and I was so excited to be able to set it aside in case of an emergency. I am thrilled, even though, if truth be told, it was a very small reward for the amount of time and effort that went into earning it. But still….it’s money that will come in handy in the near future….and I’m kind of feeling proud of myself!  That joy, as silly as it is, would dissipate very quickly though if I compared it to someone else who earns big bucks at work, or has thousands of dollars in the bank.  It would be “drop-in-the-bucket” to them; pocket-change really.  To him/her, a $100 bill would mean nothing.  To someone without a job, on the other hand, it would be like $1000!  It’s all about perspective.

I was late getting to mass yesterday because I encountered what felt like a “matter of life and death” situation. When I think about it now, it was rather ridiculous, but yesterday….oh boy, yesterday, I felt more stress than I have in a very long time. I lost a couple of top teeth a few years ago (right before I began this journey) due to my addiction to soda. As a result, I wear a removable dental device. As I was leaving to walk out the door to Mass, I went to put the piece in my mouth when I discovered that it was “missing.”  What?  Where on earth could it be? I always (well, I guess not ALWAYS) keep it in the same place. I was frantic….actually….MORE than frantic. I ripped this place up, dumped drawers, cleared a complete panic. Why? I ask now. What’s the big deal…it isn’t like I couldn’t function without it, and yet, at that moment, it was devastating and I was a mess. It’s not like it was a complete set of teeth….it’s not like a pair of glasses that would leave me legally blind….it’s not like some medication that would cause my heart to stop in 20 minutes without it….it’s a little piece of dental work that is only necessary for cosmetic purposes…..and yet……I was comparing it to a life-death situation requiring the services of the National Guard!  Get a grip, Theresa.  I eventually found it…..but only after sorting through the garbage….coffee grounds, apple peelings, sweet potato skins…..gross, yucky, stinky garbage….piece by piece!  I laugh now…but not yesterday. Compared to some of the things that some of you are dealing with…..grief, illness, aging parents, cancer….much, more…..this was just a silly inconvenience that caused me the embarrassment of walking into church late.  It’s all about PERSPECTIVE! 

In terms of this has been important to keep things in perspective in terms of my progress. Some of you may relate.  You all know that I weighed over 400 pounds when I started out. My first goal was to get in the 300’s.  I was thrilled beyond words when I reached the 300’s….something that would horrify most of you….to be in the 300’s.  And yet….to me, it was a victory. I remember how excited I was to be able to wear the biggest size in the plus size store…..because I had to buy the majority of my clothes through a mail-order catalog…..but not anymore. I could shop at the “Big-girl” store: Who cared that I wore the biggest size…I was there….and feeling pretty smug about it too.  Some of you are disgusted because you even have to go to that store because you never had to do that before. Again, it’s all about perspective.  When you need to lose 100 or more pounds, losing 5 or 10 may seem insignificant to you and you may be feeling discouraged by your progress, but 5 or 10 pounds is still 5 or 10 pounds…and it is a victory!  Being sober or smoke-free for 5 days or 5 hours, compared to 5 years doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal, but to an addict…it is a victory.   Don’t let comparison destroy your joy.

As I concluded my walk….the temptation to say… “Gosh, Theresa, you only walked one mile and your joints are aching and your toes (neuropathy) are numb and painful….­­one mile isn’t very far when last summer you were walking two or three miles effortlessly.”  But…compared to three years ago, when I couldn’t even walk a few steps…. A mile is a victory!  I’m don’t draw a large salary, but compared to many who are unemployed, I’m blessed beyond measure. My vehicle is 15 years old, but compared to some in this group who do not have transportation of any kind, I am a very lucky girl.  My health is not perfect and I struggle with illness, but compared to many, I am incredibly blessed… body is flabby, I would like to lose more weight, I am not as smart as I wish I were, I’m not as loving and kind as I’d like to be, I’m not as wise as I hope to one day be……..I’m not as…… (I could go on and on).  BUT….I am abundantly blessed and I am a miracle, and GOD HAS BEEN SO GOOD TO ME!!!!

 When we fall into the trap of comparing our lives….our weight loss progress….our bodies….our relationships….our finances…..our health, our burdens, our finances…our struggles….WHATEVER… someone else, we forgot how blessed we are.  We lose hope, we become depressed and discouraged, we want to give up and feel insignificant.  Instead, I encourage you today… keep things in perspective. Rejoice in your progress, however small you think it is….however slow it feels…however insignificant it seems…and above all things…. BE GRATEFUL.   A life of gratitude leads to a life of joy. 

Make it a happy day! 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Like the seasons....we leave behind our old selves to become new!

I did some laundry this morning, and it doesn’t really come as any surprise to me, but the mundane act of folding clothes was the catalyst that caused my mind to ponder other thoughts. I REALLY need to stop thinking so much, especially at 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning! J  In this particular load of laundry, there was several sweaters and some flannel pajamas, as well as some lighter-weight pieces of clothing. I picked up a heavy turtleneck sweater and thought to myself, “You really should start packing away the winter clothing pretty soon.”  I am anxious for spring to come, but the snow in the backyard at this late date has caused me to delay that process of transitioning the wardrobe from winter to spring.  I put the sweater in a separate pile and proceeded with the jammies. I suppose it’s time to put those away as well.  By the time I was done folding, I had moved the sweater and jammies back into the “wear now” piles.  I’ve been doing the same thing for a couple of weeks now with other pieces.  I’ve been deliberately choosing my favorite heavy-weight blazers/jackets, the cashmere sweaters I got for a bargain at goodwill, the warm turtlenecks…..and wearing them with the “one last time before spring” mentality. The weather hasn’t cooperated and the “one last time” has turned into several.   The same process has been happening with the fashion boots and scarves.  Each week I think, “soon it will be spring…and it will be time to put these things away for several months”…and each week winter lingers on a bit longer…and I get to wear them again.

SO…..I began to think about this…..  and so began the back and forth struggle in my mind about something as trivial as clothing and footwear.  Hmmmm….. Why is it that I am so hesitant to let go….and embrace the changes that spring will bring? After all…. I have been complaining about the winter weather for months now….and I keep longing for longer, warmer days…..and I love wearing the bright colors and floral prints of summer….and I can’t wait to walk and ride my bike…AND….and….and….. The list goes on.  SO…why am I hesitant; why the reluctance????????  After all, I WANT THIS CHANGE…..right????  And so I ponder…

I’ve learned throughout this journey of transformation that God uses “trivial things, people, events, things that happen in the course of the day” as a means of communicating with me; of teaching me things about myself; of showing me that HE is present. My thoughts today have nothing to do with clothing, but everything to do with CHANGE….embracing it….and reluctance to change at the same time.  I’ve always been resistant to change….even when I long for it…..even when I know it will  be wonderful….even though it is necessary for growth…..even when I know it is in my best interest.  In order for something to change, something else has to be left behind or altered.  Life as we know it…won’t be the same any more.  AND….we are often quite comfortable and settled in the old life.

Those heavier clothes have kept me warm; they have covered up those parts of my body that I find unattractive and am insecure about (namely the excess skin and wrinkled flesh); they have given me an extra layer of protection around my body and have protected me from the harsh elements. These are all literal things….tangible things that clothing does for us…..but figuratively, the represent much more for me. For many years, I did that with food…and with my independent, “I’m fine; I can do it myself; leave me alone” attitude. I hid myself away….because it was safe, it was comfortable, I knew how to function in that world. Nothing can hurt me THERE.  So much like those heavy winter clothes and boots. By this point in the winter, I know what tops go with what bottoms; what boots look best with what skirts; what scarves accent what jackets, and which earrings I like paired with which necklace…..Because I’ve been there….done that….gotten positive feedback… comfortable and confident in my choices….and I know how to walk in the chunkier heels of the boots!   SIGH…….   So much like my OLD LIFE…..   I KNEW how to be “Old Theresa.”  I knew how to shop for plus size clothes (heck, it was easy; there was only 2 catalogs that I could choose from, nothing in a store would fit). I knew which shoes to wear (either my black orthopedic slip-ons or my brown. Period). I knew how to THINK….I knew that NO ONE would talk to me, that no would expect anything of me. I didn’t have to deal with things that I do now….like business contracts, the media…and BOYS!  Oh, those wonderful creatures called BOYS!  J   I knew the life….get up…take pain medicine….go to work…pretend to be happy….eat whenever I felt stressed or sad or lonely or was in pain….go home, take more medicine, eat some more,  go bed…and do it all over and over and over again).  And even though life was miserable and I wanted CHANGE, I resisted it for many, many years because I was afraid….and I was reluctant to let go of those things that would have be given up in order for change to happen.   I kept coming up with reasons NOT TO CHANGE….and you know the story,  I got to a point where I either had to change….or I was going to die.
Making changes in one’s life can be very frightening….because we don’t always want to leave the old behind. We want life to be different; but we want to hang on to the past too….we don’t want to let go.  We want to be thinner but we want to eat that donut too. We want to be sober or substance-free, but we don’t want to give up our “old friends” or the feeling of being “high”. We want to have happier relationships, but we don’t want to let go of those people that are dragging us down. We want to be healthier but we don’t want to put in the time it takes to exercise.

 I really want it to be spring….but that tug-of-war with putting the comfortable sweater away is just symbolic of the struggles I deal with….even at this stage in my journey….regarding change.  It’s silly really, because unlike the old habits of my former lifestyle (long gone….for ever………) I will be getting those winter things out again in just a few months.  Ironically, when I do, I’ll wonder why on earth I kept them and what on earth I saw in that sweater in the first place!)   All it’s going to take is one day of 60 plus degree weather, one blooming daffodil, and one bike ride on a sunny day and I’ll be saying to myself, “You silly girl, YOU KNOW you love spring/summer!”  Likewise, when you see your first 5 or 10 pound weight loss, or someone comments on your progress, you’ll wonder…WHY ON EARTH DID YOU WAIT SO LONG….and why would you want to go back…..ever!” 

SO… the next week or so… as I transition to the warm-weather wardrobe, I’ll embrace the change….the insecurities of baring my arms…..the challenge of walking on thinner, higher heels……the aching of the muscles as I get back to the walking/bike riding/gardening and more active lifestyle of summer…..the extra time to put outfits together…..all that trivial, really rather ridiculous, “GIRL STUFF”….. AND…. I’ll continue the process of CHANGE….. and in getting comfortable in the mind and body of “NEW THERESA”  as well as the new opportunities I have ahead to share this story with others.

I’ve said it before…..but be aware, my friends, that the PHYSICAL CHANGES that will occur in your body as a result of your lifestyle changes (whatever they are….your new physique, your improved health, the results of withdrawal from substances or habits…..anything) will be one challenge…..and will likely be the easiest thing to deal with…..but the psychological, emotional, and spiritual changes that will come with transformation will be another completely different story.  Those changes….the process of getting to know the “new you”…..the act of continually leaving behind old thoughts, old friends, old habits…..of facing the new opportunities, new freedom, new joys….and new insecurities… a life-long, daily act of surrender and choosing.   Old things must pass away… that new life can occur. Old habits must die….so that new ones can be born. The old, comfortable way of life must be left behind……so that the new, happier, healthier, kinder and more loving you can be born!!!!!    Let it go….pack it away…..  I think I better go get that bin from the garage and get put those winter sweaters away right now…..the warm jammies…..well, that’s another story!   J   Be happy today……

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Don't let distractions throw you off your game!

Easily distracted…..the state of existence in my world this week!  It has been such an emotionally, mentally charged week for me.  There were several really exciting developments in my life this week in terms of opportunities to share my story. Earlier this week I received a phone call from a journalist in England wanting to do an interview and a feature story in a magazine over there. This was quite an honor, but it came with a lot of confusion and anxiety because it involved signing a legally binding contract. I also finalized the details of a keynote address that I will presenting in a month or so. On one hand, I find it amazing how modern technology has been used to spread this miracle around the world, and am surprised at the stir it causes; and yet, I’m not really surprised because I believe in my heart that all of this fuss has nothing to do with “Theresa” and EVERYTHING to do with God and His desire to use me to help others. I don’t understand it; I don’t know the world of ‘Business, contracts, law, or public speaking”, but I trust that all of the pieces will fall into place when and how they are supposed to. Learning to trust and letting go of the control is not easy; but neither is my (or your) journey. It’s a day-by-day surrender of will; the willingness to say, “I don’t know how”; “I’m afraid”; “What if I fail or I can’t stick with it”; “But…this is hard……..”  You been there??????  
It is a joy to be given the opportunity to help; to be used to bring hope; to give Glory to God, but it can also be distracting. On top of the stuff I have to do every day…, study, write, live, eat, sleep… know all the stuff we do every day, I’ve been distracted with the details of these contracts and opportunities. Being distracted by “LIFE THINGS” or “Unexpected issues that come up” can play havoc on one’s journey and can easily become a stumbling block.  This week I was operating on about 4 hours sleep every night. I didn’t eat well; my schedule got off-kilter; I felt a lot of emotions. I didn’t have time for much physical activity. I wasn’t as “available” to the people in my life and some of them felt neglected. My house is a mess; my laundry didn’t get done; many of my e-mails are yet to be answered; I didn’t post to the group as much as I’d like;  and I didn’t even get to watch the Tiger baseball season opener and had to rely on the news for the highlights.  It was just one of those weeks and now I have some catching up to do.  Distractions can cause one to feel stressed, unsettled, and unfocused……IF….we allow it to! 

In the course of my journey, I encountered many distractions that threatened to totally knock me off my game.  There are those things that we all face… birthdays, holidays, special occasions…..that can distract us…(even for just a couple of days)….IF WE LET THEM.  There are also those ‘unexpected….stressful….painful and emotional things……Like the death of a loved one or friend, an illness or health concern, a family crisis or emergency… issue at work….a fight or misunderstanding in a relationship…..a power-outage, job layoff, car breakdown, major household repair….a weather-related situation……you name it. Do we let those things become an excuse to go off plan…to give it to temptation? I hope not!   EVERY SINGLE DAY….we get things thrown at us that test our faith….threaten our peace…..tempt our will…..distract us from our focus.   Our journey is continual, daily walk.  All day….we make choices to either move forward or quit….to do what we KNOW is right, or to do what we WANT to do. I don’t know about you; but I have to constantly keep my eyes of the goal; to continually remember my motivations; to remind myself that I cannot do this on my own; to surrender MY WILL….MY WANTS….MY FEARS….MY STUFF… God…..because I know how easily I can get distracted….and how easily I could lose focus….and how easily I go back to the old way of life. 
Each time I find myself wanting to give up….to give in to the stress….to let doubt, and fatigue, and fear, and anxiety, and insecurity  overtake me…..I have to keep reminding myself that I want to keep on walking…..LITERALLY (never want to go back in that walker)…..and FIGURATIVELY….(never want to try to do LIFE alone).  I have to continually remind myself that I am work in progress….that God isn’t finished with me yet….that I have so much to learn….so much to change…and I am not perfect and am going to make mistakes and slip-up……..and that EACH DAY….even with distractions….is my chance to be a better person….to be kinder….to be more loving and caring….to be generous, trusting, and supportive… bring joy, hope, encouragement to someone who may be hurting or lonely……and most importantly….each day is an opportunity to bring glory to God….and honor to the parents that gave me life.

  I encourage you today….don’t let the distractions that are sure to come your way knock you off your game; make you lose your focus; or cause you to give up on your journey.  You’ve got this……even if you encounter a temporary road-block or detour!  Make it a really wonderful day!!!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

How about telling yourself, "I CAN have this", instead of, "Poor me, I CAN'T eat that"

Sometimes that is the message we tell ourselves about weight loss. We think it's all about deprivation and we sometimes feel sorry for ourselves when we have to make choices that differ from those around us.  This might be a stretch for some of you, but it's honestly the way I've come to THINK about food.  Since the very beginning of my journey, I tried to tell myself positive messages about what I was eating. On many occasions, when friends or family members were expressing sorrow or feeling bad because I couldn't have a piece of cake or one of the treats at a holiday party, I would come back with something like this: "It's okay... I brought a lot of stuff that I Get to eat.... I have butternut squash, or fruit, or oatmeal or whatever..."  There were really not that many times when I felt deprived, but that is mostly because of the way I THOUGHT and the messages I told myself.....and also because I always planned ahead and made sure that I had food that I was ABLE to eat without guilt.  

I think that we have to reprogram our mind if we are going to truly make life-long changes and instead of feeling "deprived" or "restricted", we need to find things that we CAN eat....and always be sure that we have those items on hand, either at home, or when attending a party or event.   Try it...just for today.  Try to change the mentality that Good choices don't have to mean deprivation.    Have a great day, my friends. It's Friday!!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Plateaus, like internet outages, are only temporary

I’m a bit agitated this morning. It’s a few minutes after 4 a.m. and I've been up for a little more than an hour, but I've yet to be very productive. When I sat down with my cup of coffee, I quickly discovered that my internet service was out this morning, causing me to start my day in a state of irritation. After attempting various methods to try to restore it (in case it was something on my end) I placed a call to my provider and was greeted with the standard, ‘we are aware of an outage in your area” message confirming what I already knew. Hearing that didn't make it any better; it is still an inconvenience.

SO….my typical morning routine of answering e-mail, doing some business, writing my blog, responding to any issues that may have occurred overnight, working on homework, and communicating with a good friend has been interrupted, and as a result, I’m agitated because my routine has been disrupted.  How did a girl who has only had high-speed internet access at home for three months get so dependent on it so quickly?

So…..for the first 45 minutes of my day, I was ‘out of sorts”.  Certainly, I have A LOT of other things that I should/could have done this morning. I have dishes in the sink from a couple of days ago; a load of laundry in the dryer from last night to be dried and folded, some reading to do…..a “to-do” list that spans multiple pages……none of which are dependent on an internet connection.  And yet….because of the outage….and disruption, I wasted the time doing nothing productive because I was “out of sorts, slightly crabby, and felt justified.” I actually wasted 25 minutes playing some stupid solitaire game on my computer before realizing that I was not accomplishing anything and was actually just putting myself further behind in my work.
So, I quit the game, poured another cup of coffee, and sat quietly for a little while and I pondered the lesson that was waiting to be learned this morning.  It didn’t take me long to make the connection between the outage and my personal journey. (Too bad I couldn’t experience a temporary “outage” in my constant thinking….maybe they call that a “VACATION”?)

Over the course of the past three years, I have experienced many periods of when “ service has been temporary disrupted and an I’ve felt “disconnected’ (also known as the dreaded plateau or periods of stagnation).  In spite of my efforts, there was no progress; the scale didn’t budge, nothing appeared to be happening, causing me to feel the same agitation, frustration, and irritation as I feel this morning. Sometimes I was tempted to just ‘throw in the towel” and go back to my old way of life. Sometimes I was tempted to ease my irritability with potato chips because I felt “justified”…..(after all, Theresa, you’ve been doing everything you’re SUPPOSED to be doing….staying within calorie allowance, taking your walks, drinking your water, staying on plan) and that stupid scale isn’t rewarding me for my efforts. This stinks!  Likely, you’ve been there….or are there……or will be there…. at some point.  Sometimes these plateaus threatened to totally knock me off my game, but fortunately, they didn’t last long and even though they were a temporary disruption, they only strengthened my resolve to succeed.

In a sense, those plateau times are just like this internet outage this morning….frustrating, irritating, agitating….causing me the same feelings and disruption in my routine.  When I discovered the outage this morning, the first thing I did was check my equipment. I rebooted my computer; I unplugged and reset the modem; I checked all my connections. Once I determined that the problem was not on my end or in any way my fault because I was doing everything “right,” I realized that there was nothing more I could do but wait for Charter to “fix the problem.”  But hold on a minute… is that really ALL I can do??????  Hmmm…. I could, but I don’t think so, at least I have want to get things done.  “Duh, Theresa…...what did you used to do BEFORE high-speed,” I asked myself.  Certainly I managed to write a blog, check in on Facebook, answer e-mail, do homework, pay bills, take care of business…..for MANY YEARS without high-speed. How?  Well, I would write my post on a word document, copy it on a flash drive, go to the college an hour early each morning or drive to a place where I could access WI-FI and post my thoughts, or connect to the very slow dial-up and wait – and wait – and wait…. Bottom line…..I did whatever I needed to do to get what I needed done.  Was it a pain?  You bet!  Did it require extra effort?  Certainly!  Did I get irritated, agitated, frustrated?  All the time.  But…. I did what I had to do, because I didn’t really have any other choice if I wanted to be use be online and communicate with the world.

SO…..If you are experiencing a plateau or a period of “blah,” you have two choices…..You could just do what I temporarily did this morning (make an excuse that my hands were tied so I wasted time playing a dumb game)…you could justify eating a piece of cake (what’s the use, I haven’t lost a pound in 3 weeks and I’ve stayed on track, I might as well eat a treat)….. OR….you could go back to the basics (check my pc, reboot my system, restart the modem)….To make sure there is not a problem on your end (recalculate your calories….go back to measuring your food….are you really staying on track or is that little bite here and there adding up…..have you honestly been staying on track, doing your exercise, tracking accurately your food????)   If you are….then you can either….WAIT IT OUT patiently (Charter can’t be out for too long, can it?)…. “This plateau can’t last for much longer, can it?”…..OR… can do what you used to do before or adjust your routine…(copy and paste, go to work early to use the internet…all things that require extra effort but must be done if I want to post this blog..)…..switch up your food, change your exercise, add some weights, drink more water.     

For a moment, I gave in this morning…..but not for long. I got myself focused…. I did what I needed to do….even if it was/is a pain…even if it is annoying….even if it is
inconvenient….even if I’m agitated, frustrated, etc…… BECAUSE….I want the end result. If I would have done nothing….meaning played that game all morning instead of writing this….when service is restored (and it will be AT SOME POINT), I would be that much further behind….because I would have wasted the time this morning doing nothing. If you do NOTHING while you wait out your plateau….or worse yet….you go off track and justify a treat….when your weight loss kicks back in….(AND IT WILL eventually)… will be that much further behind.   Do what you need to do….whether you are “connected or not”….whether the scale is showing it or not……and eventually, you will be back “online” or “on-track.”  Don’t let a temporary annoyance or disruption totally knock you off your game!  The choice is yours.

Make it a good day!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Be wise on April Fool's Day!

Today is April Fool’s Day….a day when some find humor in pranks and jokes. Today, my mind is spinning because I have some very heavy decisions to make regarding a pending offer with a magazine and a contract that needs to be signed. Today, I am praying that that wisdom of God penetrates every crevice of my mind and the grace of God surrounds me with a wall of protection and directs my every step. I must trust that He will show me the way in which HE wants this story shared.

I think there is much wisdom in the quote above…. A wise man changes his mind; a fool never will.   Some could ponder that thought in a literal way, meaning being willing to listen to the point of view of others, and being willing to change one’s mind about things.  To me, it means something completely different in sense of my personal journey.  I have said repeatedly that I think the single most important key to success is the changing of one’s THOUGHTS and the way one THINKS about things.  So…. One who is truly wise….changes the way he/she thinks about EVERYTHING. The wise person is willing to let go of hurts and pettiness….is willing to forgive those who don’t necessarily deserve  mercy….is willing to be GRATEFUL for what she has and not be envious of those who “APPEAR” to have it all and rejoices when someone else succeeds… willing to put forth the effort it needs to make healthy changes….is willing to stand up for one’s beliefs and convictions, even at the risk of the disapproval of “the world”… willing to admit that he/she is out of control and needs help… willing to surrender his/her mind, will, body, relationships, finances….really one’s life to a higher power that he/she has never seen.   Change, true - lasting – life-long change, begins in the mind….and then is manifested in the body.

As I ask God for wisdom for myself this day…. As I pray that I make wise choices about my future and the sharing of this story….know that I pray for YOU too….that you make wise choices about your life.   Don’t be foolish today and fall prey to the idea that your emotions can be filled with a donut; that your hurts can be alleviated with a burger and fries, that your will is strong enough to only eat a handful of chips.  Make WISE healthy choices today. Be conscious of what you eat….but more importantly, BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU THINK!
Have a good day, my friends.