Saturday, May 17, 2014

Thoughts and photos from SRD Michigan TOPS

Getting ready to take the stage at SRD

Good Morning my friends!  I’m certainly feeling a different set of emotions this morning than I was yesterday at this time. Yesterday I was feeling a combination of excitement, anxiety, and nervous energy as I prepared myself for the State Recognition Rally (SRD) for TOPS (Take off pounds sensibly). Today, I am feeling a sense of relief, gratitude, and humility as I try to process the emotions that came after taking the stage yesterday at the Soaring Eagle Casino. Although the emotions and feelings are different, they produced the same temptation and desire in me; that is, the desire to deal with them with food.

 Yesterday morning….and up to the time I was to speak…I wanted to eat; not cookies or junk food, but typically healthy food, anything to help calm the nerves a bit.  As soon as I was in the car and headed back home yesterday, I wanted to do the same, only this time it was more of a “reward eating’ or celebration type desire. Did you ever go get a big ice-cream sundae or special treat after winning a ballgame, getting a raise at work, or gasp…..even losing a few pounds that week?   I actually thought about ordering a pizza last night just because I was feeling relieved and “pumped up” because of the warm welcome and wonderful comments I received.  But I didn’t. Instead, I celebrated with a big bowl of popcorn that I made in an air-popper that was sent to me by a friend from this group; definitely a better choice than a pizza, although I still have a piece or two of pizza about every 2 or 3 months.

The whole,  “ I really want to eat because I’m feeling all kinds of emotions,” thing was a poignant reminder that even now, three years into my journey, this emotional eating battle is one that still rages inside of me. I spoke of that battle yesterday to the TOPS group as I recalled the behavior I learned as a child: Food makes the good times better and the bad times more bearable.  This emotional eating pattern is one of the main reasons I ended up weighing over 400 pounds in the first place. I learned to use food as a coping mechanism to deal with life’s heartaches and stressors and as a reward for a job well done. When my life began to spiral out of control as a result of a job loss, a relocation, grief, unemployment, etc., I numbed the pain with food. Likewise, when I went back to college and began to excel in my studies, food was my reward for a job well-done. And so it went….and there began my demise.  Over the course of my journey to better health I had to rethink my relationship with food; to begin to view food as ‘fuel” rather than “comfort or reward.”  Most of the time I can do that, but yesterday showed me that old habits die hard and that emotional eating is a constant temptation, a daily choice.
WOW...people waited in line to talk to me or take photos. God is good!
Yesterday was really an awesome day! I had only ever been in the Soaring Eagle Casino a couple of times and that was at least 12 or 15 years ago, and I had never been in the hotel before. What a beautiful place. I had never been in an entertainment hall or auditorium that large either, so at first it was quite overwhelming.  I ran into several people I knew from the various TOPS groups I had visited previously before it was time to speak, and knowing that I had friends in the audience certainly helped. A friend from Harrison, Pat LaValley, and the president of my college, Carol Churchill, even bought tickets to come and cheer me on. That was extremely humbling and very comforting. The photographer who took the recent photos for the two magazine spreads, now my friend/graphic designer, Marcia Bauer, also came with me. Feeling the love there….and knowing that so many of you were supporting me with good thoughts and prayers gave me a peace that is hard to describe. I actually choked up on stage when I told the large crowd that “right at this very moment….as I stand here….there are people ALL OVER THE WORLD praying for me as I share my story.”  What an incredible thing to know.  THANK YOU so much!  You all give me courage to speak, inspiration to write, motivation to keep on track, and the desire to continue to be open to all God has planned for me. You will never know how much that means to me. I hope that I can do/be the same for you.
Signing photo cards for the crowd 

I have already added several new members to the group as a result of yesterday’s rally and I’m sure there will be many more in the coming days. To you, I say….WELCOME!  Thank you for the privilege of sharing my journey with you…..and for allowing me the honor of sharing in your journey as well.  Together…, me, the other group members, and GOD…..will work each day to become kinder, gentler, more loving and happier people….and if that includes words like “thinner”, “healthier”, “addiction free”, or any other words of that nature….than HURRAY!  But remember, the number on the scale; the size of your bank account; the current state of your mental or physical health……do not define your value or your self-worth.  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL…..wonderful……WORTHWHILE……and abundantly blessed… you are at this moment…..but day-by-day, as you allow yourself to be transformed in mind, spirit, and body, you will discover that you can be/feel happier than you ever thought possible. 
I’m attaching a few more pictures that the photographer sent this morning. I’m sure there will be more to come in the near future.

Make it a wonderful day today…..and be conscious of what you eat today…..and what emotions are attached to that food.