Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Almost 80.

when I told my dad I was just three pounds away from losing 80 lbs, he truly looked... Amazed. 80 is a big number. And although I am not QUITE at 80, I'm still shocked to hear that number come out of my mouth.

My dad then told me that it is quite evident how much happier I am now. He wondered outloud if it was the new job, or Tom, or the weight loss... Or perhaps a combination of all three. 

Personally, I believe my happiness is a result of the fact that I no longer depend on food to MAKE me happy. Previously, if I was down in the dumps, lonely, or angry, I would eat to feel better. But what I was eating- fast food and other high fat foods- were only making me worse. They made me tired, cranky, and lethargic. Which led to further unhappiness.

I love my job but I also believe I am performing better at my job because I am healthier. At my old job I was constantly sick. I haven't been sick once with ACS....and the job itself is actually probably more stressful. I am just healthier and able to take it on, plus I love what I do.

I love Tom, but if I was still battling my issues with food I don't think we would be in as good of a place as we are now. Because I am able to talk about my feelings instead of hiding them and because I am able to get a handle on my anxiety, and because I feel much more confident and eager to get out and do stuff rather than sit at home and eat, our relationship is a solid one. 

I talked about this a little bit last week, but the confidence I have gained from this experience is key. I am able to talk to people in authority with ease, to stand in front of crowds and speak about ACS without having a panic attack, and I actually enjoy going out and doing stuff. That is so, so different from the me I was just over a year ago. 

To be clear, I don't think the WEIGHT LOSS itself has made me more confident. I don't want anyone to the impression to that you have to lose 80 lbs to be happy and confident. Because it's not just about how I look or feeling better. What has made me more confident is KNOWING I can cope without food binges. Think of it as alcoholism. I think most prior alcoholics or recovering alcoholics would agree with me and say that the majority of the reason they feel better is because they have learned to live their life without alcohol, and that their lives have become much clearer without it. That is how I feel with food. Obviously I eat, but I eat the right foods, and I no longer binge or hide my eating. 

Here's to 77 lbs, to almost 80, and to confidence. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dreams of Failure

For the past several nights, I have been having dreams that take me through each time I have "failed" in my life. Let me give you some examples...

In one of my dreams, I was 7 years old again and on the soccer field, playing in a game. My coach pulled me out, and told me that I wasn't good enough. This isn't EXACTLY what happened, but it's close. I was not the best soccer player- I admit that. But that shouldn't matter when you're 7. However, during one of our games I was pulled out for several minutes while another girl subbed for me. Another teammate was pulled out shortly after me. I sat there ready to play again, while she sat there out of breath and tired. But when one of our other teammates had to come out, my coach picked the other girl over me, even though I had been sitting out for a while and she had just come out.

A third dream was that I was in line to be president of my sorority, and all the girls were voting and I didn't get it. This IS what happened in real life.

Yet another dream was getting a phone call that I didn't get the job at Mercy as the alumnae director. Again, this did actually happen in real life.

Those are just a few examples. At first, I was angry. I didn't understand why by subconscious was being so cruel and bringing these memories back to real life for me. Those are things I would rather forget, and although some of them seem small, at the time each of them crushed me and made me question my capabilities and talents. In sum, each of these incidences took a giant stab at my self esteem.

When I was talking to Tom about these dreams, though, he put a different twist on it. His thought is that maybe my sub conscious is showing me these things to show me how far I have come, or to show me that I have made it through each of these hardships, I can surely continue to push through the ones in front of me now. Tom's perspective gave me hope and confidence to know that I AM a strong person and that even though there are a million things happening to me right now and I am feeling like I am not good enough or strong enough to overcome them, I CAN and I WILL because I have before.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 
― Maya Angelou

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

$75 for 75 lbs.

In the middle of Zumba class on Monday night, I came up with an idea that excited me so much I nearly tripped while doing the grapevine.

I decided that in honor of reaching 75 lbs, a new milestone, I was going to donate $75 to charity. But not just any charity- I was going to donate it toward the two places that have helped me reach the 75 pound mark.

If you've been following my weight loss journey from the start, you know that the first gym I joined was Sola Life and Fitness, a fitness center through Beaumont Hospital. Sola is one of my favorite topics of discussion. That place is incredible. I recommend it to just about everyone who is looking for a gym. And, for the first 7 months of my weight loss journey, the staff at Sola were the ones to get me through. I lost somewhere between 35-40 lbs at Sola. Since Sola is connected to Beaumont Hospital, I decided to donate $35 to the pediatrics wing at the hospital.

Once I began my new job at The American Cancer Society, I had to leave Sola. The drive was too far. After visiting a couple of gyms, I decided to join my local YMCA. It had the equipment I needed and tons of group exercise classes, plus a decent pool. Bonus points? It's walking distance to my house. I've been a member at the Y for 6 months now and have lost an additional 35 ish lbs. I am PROUD to be a member of the Birmingham Y. They have incredible programs available- including personal training and social activities for special needs children and adults. They also host Girls on The Run and maintain a pretty solid summer camp. Plus, they have the trainers, equipment, and classes for people like me who are there to lose weight. I decided to donate $40 directly to the Y's annual campaign.

So, all together, $75 has been donated to two great charities. I know it's not a lot of money, but I hope that it at least helps one person or buys one thing that they need for a program. This is my way of giving back to the two places who have helped me to become the best version of myself. I could list hundreds of "gifts" that Sola and the Y have given me, but the number one is confidence. Without the help of Debbie and Ryanne at Sola and Sarah G, Tracy. Chassity, and Sarah J at the Y, I wouldn't be as confident as I am now. I never in my life would have tried kickboxing or pilates or stood in the front row at Zumba without the help of these ladies. My life has completely changed and I owe it to the staff at these two places. Their passion for helping others reach their goals has encouraged me when I am frustrated, pushed me when I wanted to quit, and made me smile when I just wanted to cry. I am 100% honored that I have been able to be a member at these two facilities.

I was originally going to take a photo of me holding 75 lbs as my celebration for reaching this milestone. But donating and letting them know just how much I appreciate their dedication and knowledge is so much more important. They have changed my life, and hopefully my small donation can help them in some way.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Good and The Not So Good.

I honestly do not know how I am awake right now. The past few weeks have been jam packed. I am usually very much "on top" of my blog, but I've barely even logged in.

My emotions are a total roller coaster. There's been amazing things happening, but there has also been some really upsetting things happening. Let me fill you in.

The Good.

Successfully pulled off three work events. 

My main responsibility at The American Cancer Society is to manage three fundraising 5k's in October that benefit breast cancer research and programs. In August, we host a kickoff event for each of the 5k's I manage so that people can come and learn more. I held my first two kickoff's last week. One was VERY successful- high attendance, and after the kickoff THREE new teams registered. The other was somewhat successful- decent attendance and two new teams registered.

Another event was hosting a "tent party" at a local fair. The tent party included speakers, live music, and a raffle with over 40 different prizes. The proceeds of the raffle went back to ACS. The day was VERY successful- we raised over $3,000 total.

I've got one more big event coming up this Wednesday. Then work life settles a little bit as I prepare for October!

Have lost 74.6 lbs

I've neglected Weight Loss Wednesday's. I just haven't had the energy or the time to post about it...PLUS, my schedule has been so weird, that I am not in my normal routine. I have still managed to lose, though. I've tried to be as careful as possible. Which is difficult when I am on the road a lot, and tempted by deep fried oreos at the fair! I am .4 lbs away from losing 75 lbs!

New Little Buddy

My best friend, Christine, and her husband Paul welcomed their first son, Luke, into the world last Wednesday. It was one of the most exciting days of my life. Holding Luke for the first time reminded me so much of holding my nephew Ryan for the first time- pure joy, and a heart full of love. I cannot wait to keep getting to know my new little buddy. I could not stop smiling on Thursday, I was beaming for my best friend and for the new chapter in her life.

The Not So Good

The loss of my Uncle Mike

I wrote about my uncle's passing soon after it happened, but his loss has really taken a toll on my family, especially my dad. It was just such a shock. Yesterday at my event at the fair, I met a sheriff with his companion, a German Shepard trained to sniff out bombs. That is the same work my uncle did as a police officer. It reminded me so deeply of the impact that my Uncle Mike made in his community-and it made me realize just how much I admired him, and how much I miss him now. That it's simply not fair that he had to go, especially without any warning.

Robin Williams' Suicide.

Anytime someone commits suicide, it is a hard pill to swallow. It strikes a chord in me that I cannot fully explain. Of course I did knot personally know Robin Williams, but I felt like I did. I feel such a connection to that man. Mostly because his movies were a large part of my childhood. Hook is my favorite movie of all time, and it is a movie that bonds my dad and I. We are always quoting that movie, and whenever it is on TV one of us lets the other know. Of course there are his other movies- Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, Jack Patch Adams, Dead Poet's Society...just to name a few. His movies have always just been a big part of my life. I was devastated when I heard of his suicide. And, over the next several nights, I suffered from nightmares about suicide. Those have gone away as of Friday, but I didn't get much sleep last week. I tried to write about Robin, and to write about depression/suicide, but I just couldn't.

I tried to watch Hook twice since last Monday, but haven't made it all the way through yet. I found myself too emotional. I even teared up in the food fight scene when the lost boys yell out "bang a rang Peter!".  I'm not sure if I have been this affected by a celebrity death before. Corey Monteith was difficult, and I shed many tears when that happened, but the death of Robin Williams has just left me numb.

The Breakdown.

The not so good, combined with exhaustion,  has hurt. I've cried many tears. I've woken up in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep. I've wanted to stay in bed all day. My writing has suffered as a result of all the things going on. I have not felt as passionate, I have not despretly wanted to write every moment of every day as I once did. No matter what I wrote, I felt like it was not good enough...this blog post itself included. Feelings of jealousy came over me as I have read my friends blogs- why can THEY write and I can't? The breakdown hasn't been fun.

In Summary.
 Here I stand. I may have fallen, but I know how to get back up.

I almost didn't write about the not so good. I almost just left this blog post as an update on my weight loss, and told you all some of the work things happening. But that wouldn't be honest of me. Maybe it seems I am being dramatic or that I am being too sad, but I am simply sharing the reality of my life the past few weeks. Why hide our feelings? Why be afraid to share the things that hurt us? We shouldn't be. Open, real conversations are important to building our relationships and to trusting one another.

Yesterday at the fair, our tent was decorated with butterflies. Although I get a little jumpy around butterflies, yesterday, our decorations gave me hope. Butterflies are a symbol of  transformation. They are living proof that we don't stay stuck in one place forever. We grow- we find our wings and we fly.

Life isn't going to be fair, and it's not always going to be fun. But it can be enriching, it can be abundant and it is most certainly worth living. Always remember that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


In the midst of all the craziness going on with my family, I never wrote a birthday post.

So I'm 27 now. I spent some time reflecting on what that means, exactly. The conclusion I came to? It doesn't really mean anything. Except that maybe I am classified as "late twenties" now. Other than that, it's really just a number.

I can tell you what a lot of people THINK 27 means. They think it means I should be married, or at least engaged. They think it means I am too old to listen to Taylor Swift. They think it means I should own a home.

I'm not married. I am happily dating my boyfriend and we ::gasp:: don't have plans to get married...at least not yet. We don't even live together, and we may not be ready to live together for a while yet. I jam to Tay Tay on the daily. I rent a house with two other roommates. I don't always pay my bills on time.

Just because I am not "grown up" according to society's standards does not mean I haven't grown up, though. In the last year, I have overcome a food addiction, quit my first "big girl job" for a new position at a much better organization, bought my first car, learned how to cook, dealt with the stress of having a parent with cancer, chose family and friends over concerts or social outings, and gotten a handle on my 10 year battle with anxiety and depression. Oh, and while doing all of that, I also managed to lose nearly 75 lbs. Can't those things count towards my "grown up" status? I think that they should.

27 doesn't have to mean it's time to settle down. Hell, 57 doesn't have mean it's time to settle down. What matters is how you are living out your passion, how you are treating other people and how you are treating yourself. As long as you continue to challenge yourself, to push yourself, to accept that not every moment is going to be perfect, you are growing up.

I'm going to make 27 amazing. It's my only chance to be this age. I have to make an impression. I can't let time waste around me. I have to live every day as if I do not have a tomorrow. I don't want to watch life pass me. I want to be part of it. And no one is going to stop me.

Here's to 27, to living my best life, and to anyone who is still growing up.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Beauty in the breakdown

Oh, hello there, friends. It's been about two weeks since I was last here.

Many of you know what has been going on, but for those who do not, here is a quick spark notes version:

My parents returned home from a trip to PA last Tuesday. From Tuesday-Thursday, my dad spent most of his time sleeping. It became a bit worrisome by Thursday afternoon. We were all concerned that there was something wrong. It became even more worrisome when his exhaustion was paired with confusion and slow speech. At that point, we knew we had to take him to the ER.

It was determined that he has increased swelling in the brain. It was about a 15% increase since his last visit to the doctor, which is quite a significant jump. We spent from Thursday-Tuesday at the hospital. He was finally released Tuesday afternoon. We were told he would need to come back in 4 weeks for a more intense MRI to determine the exact cause of the swelling. They believe it is radiation necrosis, which is a side effect from gamma knife radiation. We will know more soon. In the meantime, we need to keep a close eye on him to watch for signs of confusion. He is also not able to drive until we determine the cause of the swelling.

On Tuesday, my birthday, I had to leave my family to go on a conference for work. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Ft. Wayne, IN with my peers. It was hard for me to be away from home on my birthday, but even harder to be away from my family at the scary time. When I got back home on Wednesday, I met up with my parents for dinner. We had a great dinner, and talked all about how positive we were all going to be and how my dad was going to be okay.

As we were leaving, my dad got a phone call from his brother, Joe. Joe was delivering the shocking, heartbreaking news that Mike, their other brother, had passed away suddenly. This was a shock to all of us, and I will never forget the look on my daddy's face when he was told what happened. Mike had just been in the hospital to visit with my dad. There was no medical condition that we knew of, and he was his jolly self at the hospital.

Mike's death hit each of us pretty hard right in the gut. The only silver lining I can find is that we DID get to see him recently. But that also makes it all the more shocking.

Needless to say, the past week has been incredibly difficult. It's been terrifying, and it's brought on a lot of emotions. There were times I wanted to break, times I wanted to yell. And that's just me. I can't imagine how my dad, going through this diagnosis and losing his brother, is feeling, or how my mom, who has become a caregiver for my dad, is dealing with all of this.

Luckily, we've had fantastic support from our friends and family. I really am not sure we could do it without the love spread to us. Everyone who has taken the time to ask how we are doing, or to offer assistance with driving my dad around or to help my mom get her classroom ready for the fall....all of that means the world to us. We are a strong family, but the love that surrounds us makes us stronger.

Times like these are tough, but also beautiful. Because even in the dark, scary times, you can still see and feel the love. You see the good in people and you are reminded of the importance of relationships, and of human interaction. We'll get through this because we have each other to lean on and to carry one another.

Much love.