Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday: 2014 Accomplishments

I thought it might be fun to write a list of 2014 accomplishments specifically catered to my weight loss journey.

In 2014, I:


It's been quite a year for the weight loss journey. At this time last year I was down 32 lbs. Now, I am down 92 lbs. That's 60 lbs in one year (Look, I can do math!). Sometimes when I hear stories of people losing 100+ lbs in a year or less, I get a twinge of jealousy. But I have to remember that my journey is unique to me, and that 60 lbs is an amazing accomplishment. I worked hard, especially considering the cards I was dealt this summer and fall with my dad. 

I saw an old friend of ours last week, and her comments about my weight loss were not necessarily about the weight itself. Instead, she said "Everything about you is different. Your mannerisms, your height, your eye contact. You're a different person." Another friend told my mom that I even sounded different on the phone, more confident and outgoing. These are changes that I forget about sometimes, because I get too caught up in numbers and the scale. But they are important changes- just as important, if not more important, than the loss of lbs or fat. I have so much more confidence now. The old me would NEVER have walked into a Barre Studio blindly- without any knowledge of the class or anyone I knew there. But I did it. Admittedly, I had to give myself a pep talk in the parking lot, but I still went in. And even though every girl there looked like a Victoria's Secret Model, I still did the class- and kept up. 

I joke around with my fellow classmates at Bootcamp, I tease my instructor, I try new classes, I run on the treadmill without worrying- too much- about whether or not people are looking at me. I run 5k's and even though I'm at the back of the pack, I do it anyway, and with pride. Those things are so, so different than the girl I used to be. And I love it.

The same friend I mentioned above also said "you've just become the new you. Enjoy it". She is so right on, and I was happy to hear her say it. Tom and I get a lot of pressure to move in together or to get engaged- and we're not ready for either of those things. One of those reasons, I'm learning, is that because even though I love Tom and I know I want to be with him, I still am learning to love me- to get to know me. I can't commit to someone else for the rest of my life until I spend some more time with me, first. No, we're not breaking up. I just want to enjoy this new me before I settle down. And there's no one else I would rather have by my side while I do this than Tom. 
Sorry for going off on a tangent. But there you have it. I have accomplished a lot of weight loss goals in 2014. It's been an exciting year as the new Megan comes to life. I honestly cannot thank you enough for your support, my friends. I wouldn't be able to do this without you, your encouragement and your advice. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to go sleep the day away because I am the crazy one who did a 75 minute Bootcamp Barre class this morning.





Favorite Tweets of the Year.

I have a couple friends who I know enjoy reading my "favorite tweets of the year", so I decided to do a last minute post of them. 

First, we have some hilarious tweets from a few friends of mine:





Then you have these two gems from strangers...but these became viral tweets and they made me laugh:


And, of course, these amazing celeb tweets.










(these ones were all right in a row on my favorites list and I had to share all of them because they were all great...Kristen, you made it to the celeb category on accident!)










That time Anna Kendrick freaked out over Kelly Clarkson tweeting her....

And the iconic, sassy, Taylor Swift tweet of the year:







Book Survey 2014!

I actually didn't read as much in 2014 as I have in previous years. But, I read enough to have some to share. I've included links to Goodreads pages so you can decide for yourself if you want to read some of these!

1.  Best book read in 2014

Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline.  Man oh man this book was great. It was interesting, vivid, intriguing and it stayed with me for a very long time.

2.  Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more, but didn't:

Spin by Catherine McKenzie. I typically enjoy books about addictions (I find it fascinating), but this one fell short.

3.  Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2014

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay. Great book. One of my favorites this year- I was a little worried it would be boring but it was fascinating. It is about a group of teens who go on a mission trip and end up in a war.

4.  Book you read in 2014 that you recommended the most?

Probably Orphan Train or Big Little Lies.

5  Favorite new author discovered in 2014

Liane Moritay. I LOVED Big Little Lies, and now I want to read all of her other books.

6.  Best book that was out of your comfort zone.

In The Blood by Lisa Unger. It was sort of a psychological thriller. Not something I usually read, but I really liked it.

7.  Most thrilling, unputdownable book of 2014.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moritay. This whole book is just good, I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next.

8.  Book read in 2014 that you are most likely to reread.

I would probably reread Detroit:An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff.

9  Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014.




10.  Most memorable character of 2014

Willow Chance from Counting By 7's.

11.  Most beautifully written book of 2014.

I think maybe My Hands Came Away Red.

12.  Book that had the greatest impact on you.

Orphan Train

13  Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to read.
Without You by Anthony Rapp, a memoir from one of my favorite Broadway Actors. Anthony is from the original cast of Rent, and most of the book is from that time period. The story is focused more on his family/personal life than the show itself but there are plenty of stories about the show intertwined. It's also heartbreaking to hear his tale of the loss of Jonathan Larson. I picked this book up at a used bookstore, and came home to find it was an autographed copy.

14.  Favorite passage/quote.
“Those we love don’t go away, they sit beside us every day.” - Big Little Lies

“Time does not care how precious it is, how hard you are working not to squander it. Time passes.” - Maybe One Day

“I've come to think that's what heaven is- a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.”- Orphan Train

“people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting our most ordinary moments. They’re with us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles.” - Orphan Train

“Every person has lots of ingredients to make them what is always a one-in-a-kind creation. We are all imperfect genetic stews.” - Counting by 7's

“Normal is an ideal. But it’s not reality. Reality is brutal, it’s beautiful, it’s every shade between black and white, and it’s magical. Yes, magical. Because every now and then, it turns nothing into something.” - Harmonic Feedback

15..  Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to someone about it.

Basically the entire plot of Big Little Lies.

16.  Favorite relationship in a book read in 2014

Kaylee and Sierra in Words (another great book!)

17.  Favorite book you read in 2014 from an author you read previously.

I think I've read a couple of Barba Delinsky books before, and this year I read The Secrets Between Us. Good book, easy read.

18.  Best book you read in 2014 based solely on a recommendation.

Calling Me Home, Julie Kibler. A coworker recommended it! At times I was a little bored, but it's an interesting story and a good read.

19..  Book that was the most fun to read.
Harmonic Feedback

20.  Book that made you cry.

Maybe One Day or My Hands Came Away Red...or Orphan Train....

So, to sum it up, my top 5 books this year were:

5. Harmonic Feedback
4. Counting by 7's
3. My Hands Came Away Red
2. Big Little Lies
1. Orphan Train

Honorable Mentions:
Words
Without You (for Rent fans)
Maybe One Day

Happy Reading! Share your favorite book of 2014 in the comments, I need some new books to read.


Monday, December 29, 2014

3 Things for 2015.

I have a love/hate relationship with  New Year's Resolutions. Some years I'm all about it, making lists and game plans with bullet points. Other years I'm just like "I just want to LIVE, you know?". This year, I'm sort of in between.

There are three things- resolutions, I guess, I want to work on.

1. Money saving. I'm really bad at saving money. I don't even use my Kroger fuel points to get a discount for gas. Not that I don't want to, I just forget about it. But in 2015 I want to become more frugal. My ultimate goal is to be able to purchase a condo or house within the next two years...and if I want to do that, I have to save. Sure, it will be hard. With rent and a car payment and student loans and every other bill I have coming in. But, I know that I can do it because I know people who have done it. I just have to be more careful. I got a kickstart on this over the weekend. I studied my bank account statements and saw where I am wasting my money. I also did a little experiment and went on a spending freeze this weekend. I did not buy ANYTHING "extra". Not a cup of coffee, pack of gum, magazine, etc. I only spent money on groceries and bills. Tom and I did have a date night with dinner and a movie, but the movie was free with a gift card and dinner was on him because I made dinner the night before and purchased all the ingredients. (We try to take turns on things like that). Tom and I are very careful as a couple with our money...we take turns, split bills, and try to do things that are free or don't cost a lot of money. Anyway, the point is I usually spend about $60-$100 in a weekend on meals out, post workout coffee and bagel, extra things at the store that I don't really need. This weekend I spent about $20, and that was just on groceries for Friday night and Sunday night dinner.

I am going to continue my "spending freeze" in the sense that- if I don't need it, I won't buy it. I get in the really bad habit of going out for coffee even though I have a Keruig at home or grabbing lunch after the gym on a Saturday. My new habit is to eat almost every meal at home, with the exception of some date nights and nights out with friends. I do have to have some fun.

I also did some major research on coupons and reward programs, and I am simply just not using what's out there. I went to Kroger tonight for my grocery shopping for the week and with my rewards, a few coupons and buying store brand products, I spent about $15 less than I usually do for a week of groceries. Success!

I know it will be hard but it will also be worth it. If you have tips/ideas, feel free to share. I'm new at this!

2. This one is a little harder to admit, but we all have our flaws right? In 2015 I need to check my attitude. I have a bad habit of snapping at someone when I am under stress. Tom and my family usually get the brunt of this since it typically happens to the people closest to me. I used to think it was just me being a hormonal girl and that I would grow out if it, but as I've gotten a little older I HATE that I do it, and I want to stop, I think that, most of the time, it's coming from a place of anxiety. But I still don't want that to be an excuse, and I don't want to do it anymore. The past few times it's happened I have apologized- which I never used to do before. Before I would just storm off and shed a few tears. Now I've bitten the bullet and apologized when it's happened. And also have been trying to fix it. I've been trying a few methods: yoga (bonus: there is a great free class every Sunday in downtown Birmingham!), meditation, writing, etc. I'm not some kind of monster and it's not like it happens all the time, but it happens enough that I have decided to do something about it.

3. This may be obvious, but continue on my weight loss journey. In June 2013 I made a promise to myself that I would not stop until I reached my goal weight. I'm not there yet and there is no giving up! It's time to amp it up, actually. I am down 92 lbs, I want to get to 100 by our trip to Florida. After that, I will only have about 40 more lbs to make it to my goal weight. I don't care how long it takes me, but I will get there. And 2015 is not going to be about giving up, it's going to be about amping it up trying new things, pushing harder. I just read a quote today that actually fits me quite well:


Are you making resolutions this year?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Post Christmas Thoughts

As I sat in the living room on Christmas Day with my family, I couldn't help but think

"This won't happen again...all of us here, right now, in this same room".

Next year is bound to be different- every year is. Someone will choose to spend Christmas with another side of the family or go out of town. For whatever the reason, it is very rare to have the exact same people in that room each year. And that's okay, because life happens and people have other loved ones to spend their time with and new memories to make. So we should hold onto it while it happens.

So I did. I observed. I watched my 20 year old cousin who I can't believe is 20 snuggle up to her newly engaged older sister and make knowing looks to her younger brother. I watched by brother in law tease my boyfriend. I watched my cousin Michelle beam with pride as she spoke of her father who passed unexpectedly in July. I watched my dad smile as he told his stories that made us all laugh. I watched my nephew run around the room looking for someone to play with him. And what I witnessed was pure beauty. Each of us made a unique group. A special group. And together we celebrated Christmas, family, health, and happiness.

The other thing is that a lot happens in a year. We're all changed people from one Christmas to the next. Some good changes, some not so good. But what doesn't change is the genuine love we have for one another...because we are family. Family stands by each other, family supports each other as we grow and as we change. Family never turns their back.

This goes back to the point I've been making a lot in my blogs, ever since my dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2013: We must cherish each moment we are given. I said in the paragraph above that a lot happens in a year. We all know this. But a lot can happen in a day, too. Good and bad. Exciting and scary. And our jobs as humans, and as family and friends, is to support each other through those changes. Facebook and social media has made it easier to congratulate each other on our little successes and to support through the hard times. Make it a point to let people know that you care. That you'll be there.

Getting back to Christmas get togethers, I wish that we would get together like that more often...and without reason. I only see my cousins on holiday's or at weddings or funerals. I hate that, because each time you say goodbye you know it will be months, maybe even a year or two, before you see them again. I would love to be able to just get together. But we don't- why? Probably because we are busy with our own lives. I mean, I barely even see any of my closest friends on a weekly or monthly basis. Everyone has a job or kids or family or outside activities that take precedence...myself included! But I should maybe start to practice the art of spontaneity....like invite my cousin Shannon to dinner or send my long distance aunts and uncles cards just to let them know I am thinking of them.Family and friends are important, and it's time we start treating each other as such.

Next Christmas a new group, some the regulars, some new, some missing, will gather again. We will laugh, we will embrace, we will talk and share stories. And it will be different, but it will be just as beautiful.


Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 Reflection

 A few things you will never forget in 2014


  • Starting a job with The American Cancer Society
  • Buying my first car
  • Comic Con
  • Florida trip 
  • Color Run and holding hands at the finish with Tom
  • Kickboxing
  • Uncle Mike's death
  • Dad's month long steroid psychosis.
  • Alicia and Justin's wedding
  • Planning, and successfully pulling off, my first Making Strides Events
  • My best friend Christine giving birth to her beautiful baby boy, Luke
  • Reaching the 90 lb lost milestone
  • Seeing Melinda for the first time in two years
  • Chicago with Tom



Relationship (s)

Tom and I are now one year and 3 months strong. At least once a week someone asks me when we are going to get engaged/married. And they always seem a little disappointed when I say "not yet". We aren't ready, folks. Sorry. Actually, I'm not sorry. Because it's my life and our decision. I can tell you that he is my favorite person to be around, my best friend, and the sweetest guy I've ever known. We've had challenges, for sure. But we talk, we work them out, we learn from each other and we encourage each other. We have inside jokes and spend our time giggling, talking, watching documentaries, walking around, working out, and finding little treasures. We are both very nostalgic people and love to talk about things from our childhood. I learn new things about him all the time. I learn about myself because of him. And I know that we're doing things our own way- and while it may not be on society's timeline, it's our timeline, and for us it feels right.

The Best Day
I have a few. The day Luke was born was pretty special for me. I've known Christine since we were 5 and we've been through everything together. So to see that precious little baby made me so proud. I was skipping out of the hospital I was so happy. I let out a little squeal anytime I see a new picture of him. I adore him and I am so proud of Christine and Paul as parents.

Another is the day of my Oakland County walk that I planned. I loved ALL of the walks, but Oakland was the last one and I just felt such a sense of relief when the walkers started and I knew the hardest part was over. It was also the walk that everyone was the most worried about early on in the year, but ended up being the most successful. The smile on my face watching 900 + walkers cross that line was unlike anything I've ever felt before.

Alicia's wedding was pretty great, too. I was so happy to celebrate her and Justin. She is one of the most beautiful people that I know and I am so happy she found the love she deserves! I had so much fun dancing the night away.

And, one more that I will mention was our trip to Chicago. We had so much fun exploring the city even though neither of us had any idea what we were doing. And although I got a little overwhelmed at times, I loved holding Tom's hand and exploring the city. Also, seeing Alicia and getting to spend time with her was a huge plus. I adore that girl.


 The worst day
September 4th-October 17th.

It was Hell. By far the hardest thing I have ever experienced, far worse than any anxiety/depression issues I ever had. But we made it. Thanks be to God, the nurses at Beaumont, and our support system.

The most memorable moment.

Holding hands with Tom while crossing the finish line at the Color Run.
Luke being born.
Getting my new job.

A lot of the things I've already mentioned :)


Your best friend(s).
Sam. It is such a blessing and a rare thing to live with your best friend. It's nice to walk in from a workout or a long day at work and be able to talk to the person who gets you the most.

Tom. Duh.

My family, together we went through Hell and back but came out even stronger and there's honestly no one else I would rather spend my time with than my family.

Emily, one of the greatest people I've met in 2014 and my "work bestie". It's really special to meet someone that you instantly click with, but that was Emily for me. I adore her and I am so thankful for her.

The rest of my coworkers who gave me endless support during the hardest time of my life: Felicia, Steph, Carrie, Kerri, Chimene, Lindsay. Gina.

Christine, forever and always.

And my sweet, sweet friend Alicia who sent me cards in the mail, texts, and general support, and who continues to be my biggest inspiration.

Your birthday.

My birthday was pretty um. Well, it had bad timing. My dad was in the hospital with the swelling, I was on a work conference, and my uncle Mike died the day after. BUT I will say that my coworkers made it fun on our conference, they made a point to take me out and celebrate. That was nice. I also celebrated with Sam, Tom, and Eric a few days later.

The best getaway.
Chicago.

New Year resolutions.
In 2015, I am open to new adventures and making new memories.
In 2015, I want to feel free, calm, and full of grace and patience.
In 2015, I will say no to my short temper, and hello to patience.
In December 2015, I want to look back and say that my biggest accomplishment was finally reaching 100 lbs lost, that I am on track to buying my first condo or house.



\


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Destroying Obstacles

Today we got news that my dad has a new tumor growing on his lungs and that one of the older tumors is growing. What that means is that the medication he was on to control the tumor growth, Tarceva, is beginning to lose it's effect. 

This was not exactly the news we wanted to get a week before Christmas. It's not the news anyone wants to get.

It felt like a big punch in the gut, especially after everything he and we have already been through. It's not fair.

So I shed a few tears, steered clear of emotional eating, and told myself to keep the faith.

But sometimes, things like "keep the faith" and "stay positive" are easy to say but near impossible to execute. This is one of those times. But that's not due to lack of trying. Trust me, I'm trying.

For the past four of five weeks I've been battling a weight loss plateau. I've been bouncing back and forth between 88-90 lbs lost. It's been frustrating and almost led me to give up.

Today, when I got the news about my dad, it have me further fuel to not give up. My dad is going to need me. He'll have to have chemo treatments now and that may cause him to be sick and and weak at times. I have to be my strongest and best self not only for me, but for him. So my dad will be my biggest motivation. I may need to up the intensity of my workouts, and I'm not sure if I'll have time for much else, but I will do this. Just like my dad will beat cancer, I will beat this plateau and I will reach my weight loss goal. I will destroy the obstacles and my dad will destroy the tumors. 

How's that for positivity?

Monday, December 15, 2014

My brave year.

Note: This prompt is from a neat blog challenge called Reverb, which is basically a way for bloggers/writers to reflect on their year. I'm late joining the challenge, and the prompt I am using is from a few days ago...I hope to join in and the future prompts.

Prompt: My Brave Year

I thought this prompt was perfect for me, seeing as 2014 was one of my bravest years ever. I never in a million years thought that my life would take the track that it has today, but here I stand. Taller, stronger, and better than ever before.

Step one: set the timer for 5 minutes and write down as many answers as you can think of to the question: 'When and how was I brave in 2014?' Note: remember the private, intimate and small ways in which you were brave as well as the big public ways.


  • Started a new job with the American Cancer Society
  • Bought my first car
  • Spoke in front of hundreds of people
  • Ran a 5k by myself
  • Took initiative to set up meetings
  • Signed up for, and participated in, a kickboxing class for the first time
  • Held my dad's hand as he was having hallucinations, periods of unresponsiveness, and seizures for a month straight
  • Said "no" and "goodbye" to toxic relationships
  • Continued on my weight loss journey and lost a total of 90 lbs
  • Found that happiness lives within me


Step two: Choose one of more of those moments of bravery and write a letter yourself back at the beginning of 2014, letting you know how brave you are going to be that year.

Dear Megan,
You don't know it yet, but things are about to change drastically- mostly for the better. Have confidence in yourself and your ability because a door is going to open for you and the next journey is about to begin. It's going to be a little scary at first, and you are going to have to leave your comfort zone, but it's going to be worth it. You've already accomplished so much with your weight loss, and you're going to keep going. 

The new journey I speak of is one you had not imagined you would be on. And it's going to take you on a ride- it will require you to be a little more outspoken and bold, but you can do that...it's inside of you. 2014 will challenge you and push you. But by the end of it, hundreds of people will know your name and will have been impacted by the work you did.

There is going to be a big challenge that will test your strength harder than you've ever been tested: you will watch a dear loved one suffer. You will get through it. You will rely on your faith, your family, and your support system. Take it one, tiny tip toe at a time. You're going to be braver than you ever imagined possible during this challenging time. It's a blessing that you've become so healthy, because you are going to need your health and strength to get through it. But you WILL get through it, and you will be amazed at the way you handled it.

A spotlight will be on you for a while- things you have worked so hard on will finally come to be and eyes are on you to see how you pulled it off. I know that sounds terrifying, but it's rewarding. Be you, work hard, push yourself, and enjoy it.

At the end of 2014, you'll feel proud. You just climbed over every mountain that was in front of you. You conquered it. Through all the challenges and the worries and the late nights and early mornings, you did it. 

Step three: Write yourself a short reminder to tuck into your wallet or post above your desk of just how brave you can and will be in 2015.

In 2014, you thought you couldn't, but you did.
In 2015, you know you can, and you will.




Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Top 10 Albums of 2014

It's that time of year again! Let the countdowns and the "best of" lists begin! I will start by sharing my 10 Favorite Albums released in 2014.


10. Phillip Phillips, Behind The Light
You probably know who Phillip Phillips is even if you think you don't know who he is. His songs are played in a couple commercials. He's a singer/songwriter who won his season of American Idol. I actually wasn't a fan of Phillip on the show (#teamjoshledet) but his post Idol music is pretty great.

Unpack Your Heart
"Your sorrow, your beauty, your war...I want it all, I want it all"

Raging Fire
"If you listen close, you'll hear the sound/Of all the ghosts that bring us down/Hold on to what makes you feel/Don't let go, it's what makes you real

Trigger
"Then I turned to see it was too late to give you love/But it was too late to give you up"

9. Christina Perri, Head or Heart
In my opinion, Christina Perri was one of the most underrated artists out there right now. She writes beautiful songs and has a killer voice. You may know her songs "Jar of Hearts" or "Human". The girl can belt, and this album is fantastic.

Human
I can take so much/'Til I've had enough/'Cause I'm only human

Burning Gold
I’m setting fire to the life that I know/Let's start a fire everywhere that we go

Believe
 I believe that the darkness reminds us where light can be
8. The Fray, Helios
I've always loved, and probably will always love, The Fray. While I can admit that a lot of their songs sound similar to one another, I still dig what they do. Solid good music.

Hurricane
The sun is rising, the rain is falling /I wanna give you all that's left of me /I will run. I will run into the hurricane!

Wherever This Goes (Fun fact: This song is in the running to one day be my wedding song)
Baby, you are the song that’s written on my heart/Wherever we stand, wherever we fall/It don’t matter at all, cause I will be forever yours/From this moment till the day the curtains close/Wherever this goes!

Hold My Hand
Hold my hand/I can hear the ghost calling.

7. Lady Antebellum, 747
I mean, does Lady A really need an introduction? If you're not already on board, I'm not sure what you're waiting for.

Bartender
Wanna get a little lost/In the noise, in the lights

Damn You Seventeen
Well, I want to call/But I bet your number's changed a couple times/A couple towns ago, but I can't let you go

One Great Mystery
Don't know what happens when we leave this world/But I know I'll go right on loving you girl
6. Jason Mraz, YES!
Jason's music is amongst the first that I turn to when I need comfort. I fell in love with his voice when I was 16 and I'll never look back! Catchy, original and wise, his music is perfect.

Love Someone
Love is a funny thing/Whenever I give it, it comes back to me

Quiet
Heartbeats rise, heartbeats fall/Will you be my constant through it all?

Best Friend
Thank you for choosing us/Thank you for all you’re about/Thank you for lifting me up/Thank you for keeping me grounded/And being here now
5. Jessie J, Sweet Talker
Are you a fan of pop music that can make you dance AND of amazing, strong voices? Then you need to listen to Jessie J. This album makes me feel powerful. I listened to it 24/7 when I was getting ready for my events in October and I seriously felt like I could do anything while I was listening to it. Listen when you need a pick me up. Even her ballads will bring out the best in you.

Personal
No I'm not a liar/Just don't know how to tell you the truth

Masterpiece
And I, I wanna hang with the greats/Got a way to go, but it's worth the wait/No, you haven't seen the best of me/I'm still working on my masterpiece

Loud
Don't think, just speak/You hate me when I'm up/You love me when I'm down
4. Nick Thomas, Shadowars
I like to think of Nick Thomas as my first love. He was the first male artist that made me stop in my tracks. That was back when he was the lead singer of The Spill Canvas. The band split a few years ago, and this year Nick released his solo project Shadowwars. Naturally, I love it.

Honest
Oh, I am enamored at the very ground beneath your feet/I’d be so incomplete without you and your deceit.

Ghost Towns
I misplaced my hope, I left it in the foreign alleyways I roam/I care so much more than she knows.

From The Ruins
I’ll be your bravery when you’re too afraid to be.

3. Johnnyswim, Diamonds
So, I had no idea who the indie folk pop duo was until my friend Melinda Doolittle tweeted about their album release. Curious and always interested in new music, I hopped over to Spotify to listen- I became obsessed. I listened to this album more times than I can count. It's fresh, it's fun, it's powerful. Two great voices, amazing songs. It also really turned me on to the whole "pop folk" genre. I typically listen to that type of music now. So thanks Melinda, and thanks Johnnyswim. Also, be careful if you're around me when I'm listening to this album, because I tend to slam my hands on the desk or punch a wall because it gets me so happy that I can't control myself. Oh- and it was really hard for me to pick just three songs. Sure sign of a great album.

Over
And I cant keep on giving you what might be meant for someone new/Wake me up the dream I had is over

A Million Years
In a million years tell me will they hear about us dear/Will any of these sparks we light catch a flame and burn through time

Take The World
Cause they can write stories/They can sing songs/But they don’t make fairy tales/Sweeter than ours

2. X, Ed Sheeran
Much like Lady A, I hope you all get on the Ed Sheeran train. I've been a passenger since 2011 and let me tell you, my ears have been happier ever since. Ed Sheeran is brilliant. He's a writer, a performer, a producer and a musician. What he does with his songs, both studio and live versions, is unlike any other artist out there. So get on board.

Photograph
You can fit me/Inside the necklace you got when you were sixteen/Next to your heartbeat where I should be/Keep it deep within your soul

Don't
It's not like we were both on tour/We were staying on the same fucking hotel floor

Thinking Out Loud 
And I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways/Maybe just the touch of a hand/Well, me—I fall in love with you every single day


1. 1989, Taylor Swift
Taylor's had her best year ever, my friends. She made the official switch over to pop music and is taking the charts-and my heart-by storm. Basically, she's grown up. I could go and and on about how much I adore Taylor and how proud I am that she's finally happy just being herself, but that could take all night. Let's just say, Sassy Swift is here to stay and I love it. 

Blank Space
Cause darling I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream

You Are In Love
One night he wakes, strange look on his face/Pauses, then says, you're my best friend/And you knew what it was, he is in love

I Know Places 
Loose lips sink ships all the damn time/Not this time 


What were your favorite albums released this year? Share in the comments!


Friday, December 5, 2014

I Don't Fit In.

I don't fit in. And for the first time in my life, I've realized that it's okay.

At my old job, my age was what separated me from the rest of the pack. The majority of my coworkers were twice my age, and our lunch time conversations usually revolved around them telling me stories of the past, or swapping stories about raising kids and grandkids. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, and those ladies are very special to me. but with the exception of a couple of people, I was the baby of the group.

When I got my new job, I was so excited to see that there were dozens of people my age. And yet, I sometimes still find myself thinking "I really don't fit in". Socially, that is.

I'm not a girly girl, so I can talk fashion or shopping nor do I know what the latest trends are. I buy my makeup from CVS and my wardrobe is from clearance racks and resale shops.

I like sports, but I only loosely follow along. I cheer for the Lions on Sunday's and I love going to Tigers games and shouting at them on my TV, but I would fail miserably in a Fantasy Football League or March Madness.

I don't watch The Walking Dead or Mad Men or Breaking Bad or any other show that people always seem to be talking about. Family Feud? Sign me up.

I am not crafty- at all. I have no desire to look up DIY projects on Pinterest. I so appreciate the people that can whip out cute little crafts, but I can't.

And, probably the biggest thing that sets me apart from most: I'm not married, I'm not engaged, I don't have kids. I can't give wedding advice to the newly engaged girls in our office (there's usually at least 3 at a time) or talk mommy talk.

Let's be clear- I don't think there is anything wrong with "fitting in" to any of the above categories. I just don't fit.

With all of that being said, I'm usually pretty quiet in lunch time or hallway chats. And it's not because I don't care. I do care- I LOVE listening to other people share about themselves. I love hearing what gets you excited, that you stayed up all night watching the Red Wings game because you are obsessed with hockey. I love hearing about your family's secret fudge recipe. I love the stories you share about your kids. I just can't always relate or contribute- but I love to listen to it all. I get so much joy out of hearing other people get excited about something they are passionate about. I try really hard to pick pieces of what people tell me and use it for later.

I get labeled as "shy" quite often. In many cases, yes, that is true. But it's usually because instead of jumping in and talking, I am listening for clues about you that I can later use to relate to you in conversation. I save things in little files in my head.

Sometimes, I feel left out of things because I don't always fit a certain mold. But at 27 years old, I've finally realized that being- and feeling- "different" than others is okay. Because it's who I am. And if I have such a love for other people being them true selves and sharing things with me, I should love that about myself, too. I may not always have something to contribute to conversations, but that doesn't make me inadequate. My interests and hobbies may not line up with others, but they are mine, and they help make me who I am. I am no less interesting than any other person.

And so my friends, I encourage you to be yourself. Be you- because you are awesome.. If you're feeling like you don't fit in, maybe take some time to reflect on why- what is it that makes you unqie? You're not weird, you're not antisocial, you're not alone. You're just you, and you shouldn't hide who you are. And in the days where you feel like there's no one to talk to, find a person like me- the listeners. We'd love to listen.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday

This blog is for anyone who's ever thought "I could never do that". Maybe with weight loss, maybe with something else. Point is, I'm talking to you. Because I have big news for you.

You can do it.

The other day I was having a conversation with someone about gyms and working out in the winter. I suggested they join a gym, because the camaraderie and accountability. Their response was "I won't sign up because I know that I'll never go".

Yes you will. If you want it badly enough, you will go.

When I joined my first gym when this whole journey began. it was determined that I would have to go before work. There was far too much traffic in the 5 o'clock hour to try to get there after work. By work schedule required that I got into work at 8 am, so before work it was. Which meant I had to get up by 5:00 Am. I'm a girl who loves my sleep, and the very thought of getting up at 5 was painful. I did not want to do it. But I did. For about 6 months, I woke up at 5 am to workout. Sometimes Tom was with me, sometimes he wasn't. Sometimes I swam, sometimes I did the elliptical or the bike. Once in a while I went after work to go to Zumba, but for the most part, it was those early morning workouts.

I get the same reaction about meal planning/cooking. People ask how I am able to do it, They say they don't have time to plan your meals. Planning my meals for the week takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour. I do it on Sunday's. I pick out what I want to cook (from stuff I've pinned on Pinterest during the week), I write down all the ingredients that I need, and I go to the store. I buy ONLY what is on my list.

Take risks. Think about what you want. Remember how far you've come. Make the time. Use your frustrations as motivations. You CAN do this. You'll get stuck sometimes, you'll have days when you don't want to do it anymore- but please, keep going.

As someone who is 90 lbs down and who has overcome dozens of obstacles, I'm cheering you on.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful A-Z

My friend Shari wrote a beautiful blog this morning using each letter of the alphabet to tell what she is thankful for. Her words flowed and I loved what she wrote so much that I want it printed out on poster size to hang in my office.

You can read Shari's beautiful post here: http://workofheart09.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/26-reasons-to-be-thankful/

Naturally, her post inspired me to write my own ABC's of Thanksgiving. So here goes. 

The American Cancer Society for all that they stand for, all that they do and all that they encompass. Each day I feel blessed to work for the greatest nonprofit in the country and to be a part of something so big. Books, for allowing me a few minutes to escape into other worlds. Cameras for capturing life's precious moments. Dad. Each and every single one of the people who prayed for my family during our most challenging time. Fort Walton Beach- the smells, the tastes, the sounds.  Grace, God's greatest gift to us. Hips Resale Boutique, my favorite store, and it's employees who know me by name. Ideas that strike you out of nowhere and give you so much energy you just might burst. Jokes that make us laugh until our sides hurt. Kickboxing, my latest and greatest obsession, for teaching me strength, patience, and balance. Love, it always finds it's way back to us, even in the most unusual circumstances. Music and finding the perfect song for each situation. New friends and old friends. Places that feel like home. Quilts to snuggle under when it's cold outside. Ryan. Sunshine,  making each day just a little brighter. Teachers who are molding and challenging our youth. Useful advice from friends. Vacations with friends and family. Working out, the fact that I have the ability to do so. Xmen, Ninja Turtles, and all things 90's. You. Zero complaints.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Cheers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

weight loss Wednesday

I haven't dropped anymore lbs in the last week or so, but I know I am still losing SOMETHING because my clothes, some of which were just purchased two or three weeks ago, are falling off. 

Either way, I am still getting closer and closer to that 100 lbs. And as I get closer, I am thinking about all of the things that I couldn't/wouldn't do 100 lbs ago.

Things like run the bases at softball...or walk up a few flights of stairs without getting winded. Now, I can jog a full mile without stopping and climb 45 flights in the stairmaster. 

Things like wear a bikini or go shopping at "normal" stores. Do you know that everytime I go shopping, I still immediately beeline for the plus size section? Even though I don't need to only shop plus size anymore. I'm down to a size 14. That's a hard thing to change. I've been "plus size" since I was 17. As far as the bikini goes, I still have a long ways before I could pull THAT off, but it's getting closer.

But the most important things are things most might not even think of. Like...100 lbs ago I couldn't fit comfortably in a seat at a concert or sporting event. I had to literally squeeze myself in, and then spend the entire time in pain. Just last week I went to my first event since losing this much weight: a basketball game. I reluctantly sat down and was shocked that I actually had wiggle room! I could easily get up and down without getting stuck! It was an amazing feeling, and one that I can't ever remember having before.  

There's also one thing I've always wanted to do: go rock climbing. I never have because I was too afraid. First of all, I'm scared of heights, so there's that. But I've also been scared that I would be too big or that the rope wouldn't be able to support my weight. Now that I am almost 100 lbs lighter, I feel like I should try it. I want to try it. I just have to get over that fear of heights ;-)

Other than that, there's not much I COULDN'T do before. It was just that everything was much more difficult. Moving through my days before was painful and exhausting. I remember the days when just walking down the hall to the bathroom felt like a huge chore. Now, I purposely take the long way, getting in some extra steps wherever I can.

Mostly, what has changed is that I have learned to love myself. I am not saying it's impossible to love yourself when you are overweight because it's not. But I would be lying if I told you I was happy with who I was before the weight loss. I wasnt... And that was the biggest problem. Because I didn't care about myself, I didn't take care of myself, and it was all one vicious cycle. Now, my healtb is my priority. I love that I take care of myself. I love how my skin glows, I love how strong my muscles have become and how I can feel my hip bones. I love that I love me.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thankful

One of our Thanksgiving traditions is for everyone to write what they are thankful for on a paper leaf. As we eat, the younger cousins (who are now not so young), read them aloud. The rest of the guests try and figure out who wrote what. It's usually pretty obvious, like the year I wrote Nicki Minaj or the year one of the little kids wrote "cheese" and we all burst out laughing.

This year, my leaf will read something like:

My dad is alive.

Back in September, when we went through that terrible trauma of not knowing what was going on with him, we also didn't know what it meant. We were confident that whatever was happening was not going to kill him, but we also were so unsure about it all. Naturally, that leads to fear, to "what if?". So the fact that he is alive, home, walking and talking is the greatest gift we could have been blessed with.

And then there's everything that goes along with that: thankful for the doctors who cared for him, for the nurses who held our hands through the process and who wiped our tears, to the medicine that helped pull him out of the steroid psychosis, to the friendly aides who took such amazing care of him. To each person who visited even though it was terribly painful to see him in that condition, to the people who delivered meals or sent gift cards so that we could eat, to anyone who babysat Ryan or did laundry or ran errands,  for our employers who were so compassionate and understanding, for the phone calls/cards/emails, for the prayers, and for God, who held us tightly during that time and embraced us with His Grace.

Most of all, I am thankful to be blessed with this crazy group of people I call my family. We would not have made it through that hell without one another. We came out of it stronger than ever before, a united force. No one should dare mess with us, not even cancer.

I learned so much from September 5th- now. Mostly, that family, laughter, sharing and friends are among the most important, cherished things in life. Everything in between is just "stuff". We put "stuff" first a lot, when it should be the other way around. Being with the ones you love, making memories, and giving back to others is a beautiful way to live your life.

Dad, thank you for pulling through. You are the strongest man I know, and I am so proud of you.
Mom, thank you for being the world's greastest caregiver. I know it's exhausting, but you are doing a phenomenal job.  Your patience and compassion shine.

Lord, thank you for blessing me with this family, these friends, and this life.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday: The Secret

Whenever someone asks me my "weight loss secret", I feel silly in my answer...like my answer is not enough. Because my answer is "eating right and exercising". It sounds so, so simple.

So I've come up with a better way of wording that statement. Ready?

Finding motivation and resisting temptation. 

Yep. That's the secret, folks. It took me a year and a half to figure out how to put it into words, but that's it. 

Let me give you an example.

Monday was a busy day at work. 9am meeting, 10 am meeting, office thanksgiving party, 1:30 pm meeting, and 2:30 pm meeting. I barely had time to respond to emails. When I got home around 5, I told myself that I would just lay down for 10 minutes and then get up and go to the gym. Well, 10 minutes turned into an hour and a 1/2. I wasn't napping... I fell into a YouTube hole and suddenly it was 6:40 and I hadn't even changed into my workout clothes. I then thought "well it's already almost 7. Maybe I should just make dinner and relax". I wrestled with this thought for about 10 minutes before I came to my senses and changed. I got to the gym and did 40 flights on the StairMaster and 2 miles of jogging on the treadmill. I left feeling satisfied...and energized. 

Then, I had to stop at the store to pick up just a few more things for dinner. The store was overflowing with temptation. First I wanted cider. Then cookies. Then cheese and sour cream for my tacos even though I had already decided I was going to leave them out of the recipe. Then beer. Then back to cookies. But, I resisted and left the store with only what I needed. I easily could have bought the things I WANTED, and I think it's okay to give yourself a treat sometimes, but I had already had a treat at our thanksgiving party and I was not about to ruin the hard work I had just put in at the gym.

Things like that happen every day. The key, as I said, is to always find the motivation. Remember how much BETTER you feel after a workout and don't let lame excuses stand in your way. Those excuses are sneaky little demons, trying to stop you from reaching your goal. No way Jose. 

And try, as hard as you can, to steer clear from temptations. I'll admit I've given in on several occasions. And that's okay. But it can't become a cycle, or else you won't get anywhere. You don't really need the extra "stuff". A cookie is delicious but do you need it? Or can an apple and peanut butter satisfy you instead? Think about it. Take 2 seconds to stop and think before you grab what looks good. 

Since I've had this epiphany I wrote out the words "find motivation and resist temptation" on several notecards. I have one hanging at work, one in my car and one in my room. That way, whenever I'm feeling "too tired" to go to the gym or like I really want to order a pizza and drink beer, I'll remember that this magic combination has helped me lose to lose 88 lbs....and counting.




Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dreams

When I was a senior in college, I was convinced that one day I would be living in Nashville, writing songs.  I had learned how to use words to express my emotions and I fell in love with it.My friends   would read the little poems/lyrics I had come up with and assured me they were good. At the same time, I became totally fascinated with Nashville. I had visited it a few times, and I thought that I belonged there. Music on every corner, friendly people, and dreams coming true.  I wanted to be part of it.  I became almost obsessed, and I spent all of my free time looking up jobs and apartments in Nashville.

Something happened, though. An opportunity popped up that wasn't Nashville. Instead, it was to do a year of volunteer service in Detroit, my hometown. I committed, and that year was the best year of my life. I was working at a high school with at risk kids, living with three total strangers who became three of my best friends. I loved it, but writing was still my passion. In my free periods at work, I was writing. I went through about 6 journals that year. I taught a creative writing class and blogged almost daily. I continued to keep the Nashville dream alive. As the year of service came to a close with no job lined up, I wondered if it was time to chase the dream. If maybe I should just go, and worry about the details later.

The problem with that, of course, was money. With very little savings and having just done a year of volunteering, I was struggling. There was no way I'd survive in Nashville with no job.

So, back to mom and dads house it was, where I spent my time applying for jobs and writing.

I got a job with a hospice. I took it, thinking I would do it for a year and then move to Nashville. No problems. Well, that didn't quite work out either. I stayed at hospice for nearly three years before accepting a new job with the American cancer Society.

For whatever reason, I never made it to Nashville. It wasn't in the cards. I didn't have the money nor the courage to drop everything and set up shop in Music City. As the years went by, I began to accept that maybe moving to Nashville wasn't actually a dream, but an escape plan. See, I was convinced that if I could just get to Nashville, I'd be happy. That everything would be perfect and I wouldn't feel so lonely anymore. That I would finally feel alive.

Instead, i found happiness in my own backyard. Literally. I can't imagine being happier than I am right now, and my life is certainly not as exciting as the one I imagined I would be living. But what I've learned is that happiness isn't defined by where you're living, or even what you DO for a living, but by how you live. I may not be living the dream I once had, but I am living the dream. I work for one of the greatest nonprofits in the country, I am in a relationship with the sweetest, most empathetic guy I know, and I live within minutes of my parents, sister, brother in law and nephew. Plus I live with my best friend. Now if not we could get my brother and sister in law a little closer, the dream would be complete. 

Do I still dream of Nashville? Yes. But it's more nostalgic now, thinking back on all the nights I spent drinking coffee and writing lyrics or the thrill I got when I let a friend read something I wrote, so anxious to hear what they would think. 

It's almost a past chapter in my life, though. My writings were, most often, fueled my heartbreak. I wrote best when I was in a deep hole of sadness. It's not a coincidence that I haven't been able to write lyrics like that in over a year. I'll let you figure out the logic on that. 

My dream is no longer to move to Nashville and write songs. It's to take Tom to Nashville one day and show him why I fell in love with that city. And then come back home and keep living my dream.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

eating disorders

Do you ever hear one of your favorite celebrities say something that disappoints you?

If your human, the answer should be yes. Because they are humans, too, and sometimes humans say things they shouldn't.

The celebrity in question in this case is Meghan Trainor. Otherwise known as, the voice behind that catchy top 40 hit "All About That Bass". Or as my mom once called it, "that song about holding butts at night".

It's a great song, despite my mom's description. It's all about self love and that we don't have to be a size 2 to be beautiful. It's also incredibly catchy and addicting. I first heard it in my zumba class this past summer. I loved the line "every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top" and that became my mantra every time I looked in the mirror.

So for such a body positive tune, one would assume the artist behind it, Meghan Trainor, would be preaching self love, right? Right.

But in a recent interview, Meghan made an oopsie. A big one. She said "I wasn't strong enough to have an eating disorder. I tried for like three hours".

Cue facepalm.WHAT?

Now. In Meghan' s defense, perhaps her words got skewed. We all know that can happen sometimes. I'm also taking into account that she's young, she has this very new fame, and maybe she just didn't think about how that would sound. I don't want to make this about attacking Meghan. It's about educating.

People do not wake up one day and say "I think I'll try to have an eating disorder". That's not how it works. What actually happens is that they are tormented by thoughts....fear, rejection, obsession with looks or with the idea of being perfect. These thoughts become terrorizing. In the mind of someone with an eating disorder, the ONLY way to cope is to stop eating, or to binge and purge. The disease tells them that's the only way. The disease keeps it going. The disease makes it near impossible to stop.

The strength part comes in when the person suffering is able to stop allowing the fear/hate/rejection to control their every move.

We have GOT to stop talking about eating disorders and mental illnesses as if they are something to achieve, or as if having one makes us more interesting or that it's "cool" to have one. Because let me tell you, people who have actually suffered from these would never, ever describe it as cool....nor would they wish the disease upon anyone. No one should have to live with an eating disorder. No one should feel so much hate/resentment towards themselves that they put their health in danger.

Also, eating disorders are not always obvious. I know that doesn't relate to what Meghan said, I just feel it's important to point out. People in all shapes and sizes are suffering eating disorders-men and women. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone points out a thin person and assumes they need to "eat a burger" . That's wrong . We don't know that person's story, we don't know if maybe, just maybe, they just happen to be naturally thin-but healthy. I know, what a concept, right?

There is also an eating disorder that no one ever talks about, and that's food addiction/binge eating. Some think it's an "excuse" for overweight people. I've even heard the comment "oh yeah it must be really awful to be addicted to food. Let me tell you, friend, it actually is really, terribly awful. It's scary, the way your eyes glaze over and you are suddenly eating everything in sight, without even realizing it,because the thoughts in your head are telling you that it doesn't matter, no one who  ever love you, and you'll never be good enough, so you may as well eat. It's easier  hide from the world when your  overweight, right? Those are the thoughts someone with a food addiction wrestles with.

My point is: educate yourself. Learn about eating disorders and mental illnesses. Have a little empathy. Consider how your words may hurt. Use your platform, however large it may be, for good.

Monday, November 10, 2014

5.


5 Things You Don't Know About Me

  • I almost never buy a Christmas album, because I am not the kind of person who can listen to Christmas year round...and I don't see the point in buying something I will only listen to for a short window of time. 
  • I have very vivid dreams. 
  • I used to be a deep sleeper. Now I wake easily, and then struggle to fall back asleep. 
  • I love watching documentaries-specifically ones on cults. I know, it's weird. But it's fascinating.On weekends it takes me a very long time to get out of bed. I love to just be able to lay there and not worry about where I have to be.


5 Things I'm Knowledgeable About
  • Music. I spend all day discovering new artists on Spotify while I work. I like that I have a broad variety of music that I enjoy and that I can recommend to others..
  • Charities. When looking at where to give my time/energy, I do a lot of research. I can almost always recommend a place for a friend or family member to volunteer or to donate depending on what their passion is.
  • Social Media. Part of my job is to keep up to date on social media, but it's also a side hobby of mine, and I've become quite skilled at getting the information needed via different sites. 
  • Cooking. This is recent, of course, but cooking has become a skill. I don't know everything and there is still plenty to learn, but I know enough to get by and to share some tips.
  • Fundraising. Working at ACS has taught me so many new tips and tricks to fundraising!
5 Things I know Nothing About
  • Video Games. I can tell you anything you need to know about Mario Kart, but beyond that I'm pretty lost. We had video game systems growing up, but my brother was really the one to play. 
  • Having a baby. Sure, I've babysat for most of my life. But actually raising a child? Nope. Not the slightest clue. 
  • Accounting. Blech. God Bless the folks who chose this as their life passion, because I certainly wouldn't be able to do it.
  • Traveling. It's so romantic to be able to call ourselves "travelers", isn't it? I think it's the top of everyone's wish list, to be able to travel more. I really don't even know where to start. I'd love to be able to know a thing or two about traveling. 
  • Cars. I've always thought it would be so great to be "car smart" and to be able to fix my own car problems as they arise. Instead I just panic and call my dad.
5 Things I Believe
  • I believe in equality. Men, women. Gay, straight. Black, white. Fat, skinny. I could go on and on. I believe we were created equally, we should treat each other equally, we should be punished and rewarded equally. 
  • I believe that happiness is possible once you are READY to be happy.
  • I believe that people are placed in your life at certain times for a reason.
  • I believe that music is life's greatest healer.
  • I believe in God, and trust that He is leading me down the right path.
5 Songs I Recommend

  • Jessie J, Masterpiece

  • JohnnySwim, Closer


  • Taylor Swift, Blank Space

  • You + Me, No Ordinary Love

  • Carrie Underwood, Something In The Water

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday

With 86 lbs down since I started this journey, I am now at the lowest weight I have been since I started college, which was almost 10 years ago. 

But I am also at a weight that's still considered "obese" according to the CDC and several other medical sites. Which sort of feels like a giant stab in the heart. After all this hard work, I'm STILL not where I need to be. I still have about 45 lbs to lose to be considered "healthy", and even that is pushing it. 

It's also scary to know that if I'm "obese" now, what the heck was I before? Is there a term for that? 

But it also makes me grateful. Thank God I decided to do something about my weight. It was spriling out of control and who knows what would have happened if I had continued to gain weight. I never want to feel that way again....never want to have those headaches or to feel out of breath going up a flight of stairs or to have heart palpitations. I never want to feel that tired and run down. Ever. Again. 

So I won't. I will look back at how far I've come and I won't let the burden of knowing I still have work to do keep me from doing it. I will work hard, harder than I've ever worked. 

One thing I get a lot from family and friends who haven't seen me in a while is "I never realized how tall you were". I've always been tall. I'm 5'10. My friends ask me to reach for stuff because I have long arms. But the difference is that I wasn't carrying myself like a tall person. I was ashamed, hunched over, hiding. I didn't want to be seen and tall people are easy to spot. Now, I walk with pride. I have learned to love my body. I am not ashamed, and I don't need to hide. Even though the CDC still calls me obese, I don't see myself that way. I see someone who has accomplished so much and inspired many. I see someone who has become alive again.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dear Sun

Dear Sun,
I want you to know how much I miss you when you're gone. November came and suddenly we are seeing less of you. My entire mood and energy level changes when you disappear. And I get it, you need a break. You've been out all summer and you need to recharge. But selfishly, I wish you'd stay a little longer.

I know I am not the only one to feel this way. You are loved-and needed-by so many.

On these dark days, just catching a glimpse of you gives me hope. When you hide all day, I have a much harder time finding motivation to live my life. Hiding under blankets sounds much more appealing. So I have to find other ways to get energy. It would be easier for me to hide. But I must go on. I must be curious, then brave, then bold....and then, I go.

So although you won't be around as much I will imagine that you are. I will look for "sunshine" in other forms: in my nephews smile, in Tom's hugs, in Sam's Christmas spirit, in the chit chat at work, in my family's strength. And I will appreciate the moments when you come out to shine, and whisper a heartfelt "thank you".

Don't be a stranger.

Love, Megan

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday

Finally.

I am finally getting back into a normal routine. And it feels so so good. 

Two years ago, if you had told me that my "normal routine" would be working out and cooking and meal planning, I would have laughed in your face. Two years ago, my "normal routine" was to leave work, get McDonalds or Wendy's, come home and nap for an hour, cook a pizza or something else with no nutritional value, and crash on the couch watching tv.... Usually sipping wine.

I can't even imagine living that lifestyle anymore. Now, I come home, go to the gym for class, and cook a healthy meal. Admittedly, I still crash on the couch, but without wine and with a happier glow about me.

I am down a whopping 84 lbs. Do you realize how close that is to 100?!!?? 

I won't go crazy to get there. I will just keep going.

I have been LOVING getting back to the gym. I admit it has been VERY difficult to go by myself and workout. But classes? Yes. Those I love, those I enjoy going to. I talked to my trainer about it and she said that was okay, because I was seeing results with the classes and that people who take group exercise classes tend to succeed more than those who just workout on their own. Kickboxing is my absolute favorite class. I have never felt so challenged yet so enthusiastic about exercise, but I do in kickboxing. I am usually the only one there, so my instructor pushes me really hard and takes it up a knotch every week.

This week, I am celebrating:
-84 lbs down
-needing new clothes because I am now 3 sizes smaller than I was last fall.
-Sticking pretty well with my diet through my events
-getting better and better at the circuits as cardio each week at BOOTCAMP 

Have a great week, everyone.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I'm Just Busy.

The other day I was gathered amongst friends and someone said to me "So, like, where have you been? Why haven't we seen you?".

I have to say, in that moment my heart sunk. I wanted to burst into tears. Truth is, on the drive over I had been wondering if someone was going to ask me that. I had this polite, respectful comment ready, but instead I snapped

"Well my dad was in the hospital for a month and a 1/2 sooo..." and walked away.

I know I shouldn't have said it, especially in that matter. I could have handled it better.

It hurts me that people think I haven't been around just because I don't feel like or it or I'm busy with work. Because yes, I was busy with work- I had three events weekend after weekend in October. The amount of time and detail that those events require is beyond words that I can express here. But work was not the reason for my absence. It's not the reason my room or car haven't been clean in 2 months. It's not the reason I have only been to the gym MAYBE once a week in the last 2 months. It's not the reason I was basically living out of my car while I jumped from work to my house to my parents house to the hospital back to work. The reason is that my dad was in the hospital, and my family needed me. I wasn't worried about anything else other than being with my family, helping my mom run errands, and doing as "okay" at work as I possibly could have done.

But I also sort of have myself to blame.

I used to use the words "I'm just so busy" an awful lot. Looking back now, I wasn't really that busy at all. Sure I've always had work, and different volunteer things I do, and spending time with family, but I had much more free time than I do now, that's for sure. I don't know if I just thought I was busy or if I felt overwhelmed and just said I was busy to avoid adding one more thing to my plate.

NOW I'm busy. The kind of busy no one really wants to be. And of course people aren't going to really understand what these past two months have been like, or how hectic they have been. I cannot expect them to fully understand.

I don't want or need pity or for anyone to say how sorry they are. Maybe this post sounds like that is what I am looking for, but it's not. I am putting my story out there to say this:

We do not know, no matter how hard we try, what the people around us are dealing with. Even our closest friends and families have struggles and anxieties that we will never understand. That's okay. We have to know that it's okay. But we can still show empathy. We can still choose our words carefully and treat others with gentleness.

This is also to say I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everyone who I told I was too busy when I really wasn't. I am sorry to myself for missing out on some great experiences because I thought I was too busy.

I encourage you-and me- to evaluate just how busy we are next time someone invites us to do something but we are not feeling up to it. Let's try to remember how short this life is, and if being busy is our biggest problem, we are pretty lucky. Squeeze in a lunch date with a friend, it will be worth it. Take 5 minutes to send a card to someone who needs a pick me up. Slow down in the hallway at work and actually have a conversation with a coworker instead of blowing them off. The biggest gift we have been given in this world is each other. We should start treating each other that way.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Face the Fears

It's the time of year for spooky stories, haunted houses and scary movies. We pretend to hate it, but that creepy feeling that comes when you are truly scared is one that we continue to seek out- just because. We like to jump out at our friends, put fake spiders in our sister's beds, and prank call our parents. We PAY to be scared.

But what about our real, deeper fears? I certainly don't pay someone to throw me in the middle of a large crowd and to not be able to get out. I wouldn't stand in line to stand in front of a crowd of people and allow them to judge me.

Our fear goes way beyond zombies and ghosts. It even goes beyond clowns, one of my top fears. It is so much deeper. But we don't address those fears. We don't purposely put ourselves in situations where those deeper fears will be right in front of us.

But maybe we should.

Because maybe then we would see that, just like the haunted houses, they aren't that bad. That we can get through it- even if we close our eyes a little along the way. We would see that eventually, there is a way out.

Most of us don't openly share our deepest fears. Maybe we find them silly or we're afraid someone else will find them silly. But the reality is, most of us fear many of the same things. We're all just humans, trying to survive.

A haunted house that truly depicted my deepest fears would include people from my past that I am afraid to confront, small spaces with large amounts of people, phone calls that I know I have to make, and being the center of attention...amongst other things. Would I want to go through that haunted house? Hell no. But maybe I should. Just to say that I did. Just to give me the confidence to do it again. Just to know- there is nothing to be afraid of.

Let's try it. Let's try to go face to face with our real fears. I think something magical might happen if we do. I'll be cheering you on along the way, because I know that you can do this. And I know you'll do it again.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.

I am very active on social media, and almost every where I turn I am reading body positivity and movements to make women feel better about their bodies. I follow women like Meghan Tonjes, Madison Lawrence and Tobie Stevens- all social media starlets who are not shy about their passion for body positivity and acceptance. I guess in my world, naive as it may be, women were finally starting to see themselves as beautiful, and to spread that message to others. So I was a little shocked and saddened when I read the title on a HelloGiggles article "Glamours Newest Study Says Women Feel Worse About Their Bodies Now More Than Ever""

What? NO! NO NO NO! Stop!

It shouldn't be like this! We should be feeling BETTER about ourselves more than ever. Why is it going backwards? What are we doing wrong? And HOW CAN WE FIX IT?

I am yelling because I have to yell. I am so passionate about this I could explode. Nothing upsets me more than people who don't think they are good enough. That's just not true.

Part of the problem is that we compare ourselves far too much to others. Let me remind you: It. Doesn't Matter. It doesn't matter how the girl in front of you at Starbucks looks. It doesn't matter what your colleagues look like. It doesn't matter how fit the other girls at the gym are. All that matters is you, your attitude, and how YOU feel. Certainly if you feel like you will feel healthier if you drop some lbs or gain muscle then GO FOR IT. But do NOT let the way someone else looks be your motivation. YOU are your motivation.

You were uniquely made. You are special. Your body will never be like anyone else's no matter how hard you try. So do not spend your time and energy comparing yourself to another or feeling bad that you do not look the way you think you are supposed to look.

I know this isn't easy and I know I cannot force everyone to feel better about their bodies. I know I can't give you a magical formula to fix your attitude on your body. All I can do is my best to remind each and every woman in my life that they ARE beautiful.

So now we have to put this into action. Each morning, before you rush out the door, stop for a moment. Sit in silence, and tell yourself "I am good enough. I am beautiful". And then, as you go about the day, spread love. Not just to others- but to yourself. Before you fall asleep each night, list off the things that you ROCKED that day and the things you loved about yourself. Even if the list is short, focus on the positive. If a negative thought pops in, will it to go away and replace it with a positive one.

One day you will believe me. One day you will see your beauty loud and clear. One day we will read an article that tells us women are feeling better about themselves now than ever before. One day this will change. One footstep at a time.

And if you need a little motivation to get you started, I have the perfect song for you