Monday, January 12, 2015

Feeding your emotions

Happy Monday! I hope everyone is doing well and are settling into the New Year. It’s hard for me to believe that it is already the 12th of January already and the new semester at the college officially begins today. It will be a hectic week at work as students scramble to make final schedule adjustments and such. Like most of us when we began this New Year determined to change our lives THIS year, many students will attend class this week highly motivated with a desire to do better this time; to practice good study habits; to submit their assignments on time; Happy Monday! and to attend class.

Some of them, well, in fact, most of the students that I am privileged to work with, are in a make-or-break it semester, meaning they either have to get it together and improve their grade point average and completion ratio…..or they will lose their future financial aid eligibility. For them…this semester is critical to their future at Mid Michigan Community College.  Many will succeed, but many will simply give up because it becomes too hard or life issues get in the way.  I have the privilege of journeying with them; advising and supporting them; and reminding them of the benefit of hard work and the joy of success.

 Like them, I too, will “walk the walk” as I begin two classes myself, not to apply towards another college degree, but to remind me of what it’s like to be student, keep me current, and for personal knowledge and the love of learning. I am taking classes in Business Law and Legal Terminology. It is much easier for students to connect with me and listen to what I can offer them when they realize that I know what it’s like to balance school, work, and personal life issues. Taking classes while working full-time and maintaining my lifestyle, blog, motivational speaking and relationships will take commitment and motivation on my part and will require sacrifice and hard work, but the satisfaction when grades are posted and help I can offer  others makes the effort worthwhile.

My personal journey has been very challenging these past few weeks, and although I haven’t fallen off the wagon, I definitely have been struggling to stay motivated and focused, primarily  due to the whirlwind of emotions that have accompanied some new developments in my personal life. The 12 days I spent downstate over the holidays were the best ever, thanks in part to a special friend, but the situation has stirred up intense emotion that has significantly altered life as I knew it and has affected other people.  I know, however, that God is present and in control of all areas of my life, especially this one, and things will sort themselves out in time and I will find a way to balance things so that all parties involved are peaceful and secure.

Change….any kind of change…..can be difficult, especially at first, but I am confident that God has blessed me in a very big way and will guide my steps. In the meantime, I am so grateful for blessing this person has been in my life this past year, the emotional support and encouragement he’s given me on this journey, and the kindness, love, and friendship that has been lavished on me in recent weeks. Likewise, I have love, gratitude, and respect for all those who have been a part of my journey for many years who will always be a part of my life and in my heart, just perhaps in a different way.

I am approaching this situation just like I do/did my weight loss journey….first with gratitude….overwhelming gratitude for the way God reveals Himself and his love to me, then with complete surrender and trust in a God that knows what my heart, and then…..with the commitment to ‘enjoy the journey” and rejoice in each day, not getting hung up on the “this is too hard”; “it seems impossible”; “it would be easier to just give up”; or “it’s too much work”  but rather….. “Wow….today is a gift and I am so blessed” and YES…YES….YES…..all of it is so worth it….and JOY….real joy, deep down-bubbling over JOY….is present each day of our journey, not just at the end when we reach our goals.

I am no stranger to intense emotion. I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve, “feel” deeply, and have a compassion that I hope is evident to most. I’ve been that way my whole life, but I didn’t always handle those traits very well. When I was hurt deeply, I turned to food to comfort me. When I was confused or sad, I ate chips. When I was happy, I ate cookies. When I was scared, I went to bed with Frito’s to drown out the thoughts in my head telling me to be afraid….of what? Death? Homelessness? That someone else would die or leave me? Being alone?  When I was sad...or happy….lonely…..or physically hurting….or stressed…..or……WHATEVER…..I distracted myself with food, perhaps like some of your did/do with alcohol, drugs, shopping, cigarettes, or other harmful habits. I justified my behavior, because, after all, “I was grieving, or hurting, or life sucked”, or “I’m in school; I’m doing the best I can; or I just care.” I chose NOT to see what I was doing to myself or accept responsibility. I turned a deaf ear to anyone who tried to intervene or suggest I make some changes. I “pretended” that I didn’t care about anything or anyone. I really was in a dark place….primarily because of emotional eating.  Fortunately, by the Grace of God alone, I have been set free from that type of thinking…but not the temptation to do the same thing, or the emotions that come with life and prompted the behavior in the first place.

Many of those original emotions….and a lot of brand new ones….have become norm for me in recent weeks, and I am fighting every day to handle them differently. Otherwise, I could end up right back where I was nearly 4 years ago, and I….with God’s help and that of others who journey with me …..WILL NOT let that happen!  Times like these are exactly why I have not allowed myself since March 1, 2011, to eat even one piece of candy; one bite of cake or a cookie; one lick of ice cream. I just don’t trust myself on the slippery slope of life.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: YOU are not alone on your journey. I’m not just ‘talking the talk” but rather am “walking the walk” with YOU!  I, like you, struggle and am tempted. I, like you, deal with life issues, although each of ours differ. I, like you, am afraid of failure; have ups and downs; experience joys and heartaches. I KNOW what it’s like to be obese or hopeless. I KNOW what it’s like to be free from the weight that once burdened me. I KNOW what it’s like to rejoice and celebrate, and I KNOW what it’s like to struggle. Mostly…. I KNOW… hard it is to keep motivated; keep committed; keep believing in a miracle; and keep focused…..but I’m telling you….and myself….and my friend…..that all that we endure today; all the work and effort; all the joy and struggle IS…and WILL BE so worth it.  Life for me…..even during this confusing time…..has NEVER EVER been better….and whatever God has planned for each of us…..will be beyond our comprehension

You have been called to this journey. Some of you have shared that God led you to read my story for a reason…for me to support and help you….and likewise, you to help me.  I believe that ALL things that happen; each person we encounter; each experience  we have is part of God’s story for our lives and happens for a reason.  God has graced you….and me… with all we need to be successful; to be happy; to be kind and loving….and to change our life. We simply must trust….and do our part each day by making good choices, cooperating with Him, seeking His presence, and trying to be better today than we were yesterday.
My friends… I am with you…..and I have faith that ALL THINGS will work out for you….and for me….as long as we don’t try to walk this journey alone.  Hang in there… strong…..and believe!  I am a miracle and the fullness of that miracle is unfolding right before my eyes…and I’ve never been more hopeful or happy… spite of the storms around me. Make the choices today….even the hard ones….that will lead you to the life that you desire as well.  Keep smiling….keep believing…..and keep on track!  

Friday, January 9, 2015

BE takes time....

                                   Good morning my friends….. Patience may be one of the hardest things we have to learn in life. My brother and I have discussed this issue on many occasions when referring to today’s fast-pace, “ I want it right now”, mentality. Kids today are used to instant gratification and typically don’t have to wait very long for anything. Things were different when we were kids (in the 60’s and 70’s).  If we wanted to watch cartoons, we had to wait until Saturday morning: There was no Cartoon Network on TV. If we wanted popcorn, we had to ask our mother to pop the old-fashioned kind on the stove: There was no microwave popcorn that is done in 2 minutes. If we wanted a new toy, we typically had to wait until a birthday or Christmas, or at least save our allowance: There was not the ‘I get what I want when I want it” expectation.  We were spoiled, but in a different way I suppose.  Times have changed, mostly due to technology, and it seems like many people….including me…..become impatient when we have to wait for things to happen or to see results.  This is especially true in our personal journey to wellness. We want instant result…and we sometimes get discouraged when we don’t get them.

When I began my weight loss journey, I admit that I lost weight a rapid pace, very likely because I was so heavy and had cut my calorie intact so significantly. The scale showed results each week, but it was many months before anyone even noticed that I had lost weight. Of course, people are often reluctant to even comment (if they don’t know you are trying to lose weight) because they don’t want to be offensive by making a comment to someone who ISN’T on a weight loss plan. I was still wearing the same clothes after losing 50+ pounds because my clothes at that time were big, baggy, and tent-like.  It was sometimes discouraging because I wanted to “SEE” results right away and it was hard to be patient.  Keeping with the plan and consistently making changes on a daily basis…..even when the results weren’t visible….was and is key to my success.

Those of you that recently started a journey….either weight-loss or other fitness regime….might encounter the temptation to give up because you aren’t getting the results you want right away. You might be 9 days into it (if you began on New Year’s) and perhaps you expected to be down 10 pounds or a size by now. Maybe you expected people to notice that you’ve been working out…and they haven’t or that you are already ‘getting smaller” but they don’t….and you are getting discouraged or wondering if it is worth it.  It is…..don’t give up or despair.  Remember this journey is for LIFE….not for a time period.  Try…as hard as it is….to focus on how you feel rather than on how you appear in the mirror.  Doesn’t it feel good to be in control… realize that you are strong and can do this….that you are making good choices?  People can’t always see THAT….but you can FEEL IT….and let those feelings empower you.  Try to remember that things take time…..and in time… will see God’s power manifested in your life….if you keep focused and keep trying again and again if you falter.  You’ve got this……. Believe it!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Character is as important as size

 Remember that one's journey is not just about getting physically stronger or losing's about learning to recognize the blessings in life; learning how to love...perhaps yourself for the first time....and others and allowing others to love you; about examining the thoughts and actions in your life that are preventing you from becoming the kind of person you desire to be; and about finding the joy and peace that comes from knowing that you are as worthwhile, wonderful, and beautiful today at your current weight as you will be two months from now when you weigh less.

My weight will go up and down in life....but the measuring stick by which I want others to judge me is my heart and soul for those things are way more telling than my pants size. Each day as I commit to stay strong and keep my weight in check, I also recognize that checking my attitude and motives is as...or more....important that the calorie count on the label.  A good rule.....make your words sweeter than your food!

Have a great day today...... 

Monday, January 5, 2015

The time is now....

Good Morning friends!  Many years ago there was a commercial on television for Dunkin Donuts that depicted a man in the wee hours of the morning stumbling through his house trying to get himself ready to get to work to begin the day. He was a baker and kept saying, “Time to make the donuts” as he struggled to get out of the house.  That saying has stuck with me and I often use it when I need to “get down to business” and get moving, even though the word “donut” is taboo in my house these days.

Today is my first day back to work after a wonderful holiday vacation and it’s time to get back into the routine of life, even though I readily admit that I’d rather be somewhere else this morning. It’s a little after 3:00 a.m. and although I’m very tired this morning, I know that it’s ‘time to make the donuts” and get back down to the business of life……regardless of whether I want to or not. My time away was awesome and I returned home with a joy that I never knew existed before and did/experienced many things that I never dreamed possible. I will likely share more about this in the coming weeks, but for now, I simply offer a prayer of gratitude to God for a wonderful week and a future full of hope and love….and a renewed commitment to ‘do what I need to do in order to have the life I want to have.” 

We picked up many new members to this group over the holidays, very likely because this is the time of year when many people make a commitment to change their life.  Welcome!  I hope you find this group to be a place of support/encouragement. It is a privilege to share my journey with you, and likewise, to be a part of yours

Some of you are starting again or recommitting to a life changing plan. Some of you can’t even comprehend how different your life could be because you don’t know what it is like to physically free from the burden of weight or addiction, or emotionally free from the bondage of fear, sadness, or despair. I know both….and I can tell you….that it is an incredible experience….and, although it is very hard and you will want to give up many times, the journey/effort/pain is worth it because life on the “other side” of obesity is awesome!  Getting there, however, won’t be easy; in fact, it’s likely one of the hardest things you’re going to do and will require you to make some really tough choices on a daily basis. I can’t do it for you, but I can pledge to journey with you and remind you that it is well worth the effort by sharing with you what my life is like “on the other side” and assuring you that, like you, I have many days when I struggle, get tired, want to quit, have to make some really hard choices and do some things that I don’t want to do.

Today is one of those days. After 10 days of pure joy, I have returned home and have so many things to do. It is currently 0 degrees with a wind chill factor of 12 below zero and about 6-8 inches of snow on the ground. I’m heading back to work and know that these next few weeks will be very busy at work as students scramble to get registered before the semester begins next Monday. I am enrolled in two college classes myself so will pick up those additional responsibilities and will have about 15-20 hours of study time required each week. In addition, I have some personal life issues to work out and a lot of other things swirling around in my head. It all seems overwhelming and the temptation to just say “forget it all” and sit in my pajamas in the lazy boy and do nothing will creep in….likely quite often.  It’s easier that way sometimes, isn’t it?  When something seems impossible, will require sacrifice and effort, and will sometimes be more difficult that we imagine, it’s tempting to just “do nothing” and give up.  That’s exactly what I did for nearly 8 years when I was faced with some tough challenges. It was easier to try to forget about (or bury it) grief when my heart filled with the sadness of losing loved ones. It was easier to pretend that everything was okay when my sense of purpose and usefulness was tainted by job loss. It was easier to just exist and wallow in hopelessness when my life was falling apart than it was to do anything to change it. It was just easier to accept the current state of my life as my destiny than it was to even dream about the possibility that things could be different. WHY?  Because it all seemed too overwhelming. It seemed impossible that I would EVER walk again or lose weight, let alone without surgery or some sort of miracle drug.  It seemed like too much work and I didn’t believe that it was even possible.  Also…. I didn’t have ANY IDEA of what life could/would be like…if I just made a few little changes at a time.  I never imagined…not even in my wildest dreams….what it would feel like to walk into a store…any store…and be able to buy something off the rack. I never imagined what it would feel like to be able to walk without pain again….period. I had forgotten the joy of being able to garage sale, swim, plant flowers, or play with my nieces and nephews……to be physically able to do things that I used to.  I had forgotten what it felt like to be free….from worry about the future; to be happy….really happy; to be a part of things again instead of an outsider. I had given up HOPE because I had forgotten what it was like to be happy….and because I had NO IDEA what it was like to be an average size person. Without that vision…..or dream… was easier to do NOTHING. 

When I started my journey on March 1, 2011, I had no concept of how my life would change. All I knew is that I didn’t want to live that way anymore. I never even imagined how different life could/would be. I never imagined the experiences that would come or the joy that would become a way of life. I never dreamed that I would ride a bike, or climb a dune, or wear high heels or walk without a mobility device. Certainly I never imagined that I would be privileged to share my story in so many different ways.  I never imagined that I would be strong enough to change my life.  I did, however, see how losing weight changed others.  My sister had lost a lot of weight the year before and she had so much energy. She bought a blow up kayak and I watched (from my wheeled walker) as she laughed and joyfully launched her kayak into the lake and paddled away. I envied her for her commitment…..was jealous for her joy…..and wallowed in my own reality….but did nothing. WHY?  Because it seemed too overwhelming. It seemed impossible. It seemed like too much work…..and it was easier to do nothing. As a result….well, you know…. I ended up over 400 pounds, unable to walk, and at the lowest point of my life.

My friends…if you are at a point in your life where you feel hopeless and you can’t imagine your life being any different, I tell you that YES….IT…..CAN!    You can experience this same joy….this same freedom….this same gratitude…..simply by making a few small changes at a time.  Nothing, however, will ever change, unless you first believe it is possible, and then start taking action.  I’m not going to tell you that it’s going to be easy, because it’s not. I’m not going to tell you that you won’t want to quit, because you will. I’m not going to tell you that you will never falter or fail, because you likely will. I will tell you, however, that IT WILL BE SO WORTH IT…and YOUR LIFE WILL NEVER be the same!

Friday, January 2, 2015

what kind of choice will you make today?

While there are many things about our lives over which we have little or no control, we are given the freedom and ability to make choices each day that can significantly alter our reality.  Some choices are easier than others like deciding what to watch on TV or which shoes to wear each day ( sometimes take me a few tries before I'm satisfied…LOL).  Each of us has likely made some major choices at one time or another….job, school, partner, residence, etc…. and we often think that those decisions are the MOST important ones because they can significantly impact our future.  The truth, however, is that each DAY we are presented with choices that are as important to our health and well-being and can and will alter our lives in ways that we may not even imagine. We are given the choice to decide what we want more…. A donut?  A drink? A grudge? ....or freedom….better health…..the feeling of self-control….peace and a joy that we never knew existed. 

  For me, personally, the key to changing my life was ( is ) nothing more than making choices each day in what I eat; what I think; what I do….and asking myself WHAT DO I WANT MORE?  As you start your journey into this New Year….or recommit to one you’ve already begun… I encourage you to pay attention to all the opportunities you have each day to choose…..happiness; peace of mind; healthier food; activity; attitude….the list is endless. Each day I must ask God to give me the strength to make the right choices; to do/eat/say the right thing and to recognize that I am not perfect; that I will falter and fail; while being keenly aware that I am given the chance each day to start all over and make better choices. 

Making the decision to dump those soda bottles and get rid of the sugar/junk out of my diet was the best PHYSICAL decision I’ve ever made.  Making the decision to surrender the fear; doubt; and grief to God was the best EMOTIONAL decision I’ve ever made. But making the decision to be grateful for EVERYTHING is/was ultimately the most important decision of my life.  My friends….YOUR life does not have to be one of pain, sadness, or despair. Your destiny/future is in your hands. What will you decide????