Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Plans Will Change

A little over a year ago, I had this vision of my blog becoming more active. That vision, clearly, has diminished a bit. My posts are not as frequent as they once were. I can't really pin point the reason- it just happened...or didn't happen, depending on how you look at it.

But today I had something I wanted to say, and instead of posting a long Facebook status, I came here. My usual spot for my thoughts and ideas. My blog.

Today I'm thinking about how life, so very often, surprises us.

Take a moment or two to think back on life- how often did things go EXACTLY as you planned them to go? I'm going to take a wild guess and say that most of us will answer "Not very often".

And that's because, as hard as we may try for things to work out they way we WANT them to, there are always going to be surprises. There are other people who will come in and out of our life who may change our minds about things. There are opportunities around every corner, and we may fall into one that we never expected. There are hurdles that we won't see coming.

Yet, as much as we know this, as much as we try out best to prepare for this and to give ourselves mantra's like "whatever happens, happens" or "everything happens for a reason", it still sucks when it happens to us. It's okay to admit that, it's okay to be upset or mad or confused by it. But we can't let it stop us, or put a hault to our vision. We must keep dreaming of our future, embracing the present and learning from the past.

A change in plans is GOING to happen. Life WILL take us down paths we never thought we would walk down. We will get rejected from things that we so desperately want. It's inevitable. But we must keep going- and open our eyes to whatever it is falls into our lap.

Did I plan on working for the American Cancer Society? No. I thought I would be working with youth for the rest of my life. But I was led down a different path, and now I wouldn't have it any other way.

So maybe life has taken you down a different path lately or maybe you aren't where you want to be yet because things keep getting in your way.  I'm here to tell you that you have a lot to offer in this world, and that things will fall into place.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why I Make Strides.

If you're my friend on Facebook, you've probably noticed that I have been pushing for donations for my Making Strides Against Breast Cancer team. To sum it up, I've been asking people to donate $8 toward my goal of $3,000. I've decided (inspired by my coworker Abby) that if I reach that goal by December 31st, I will donate 8 inches of my hair to be made into a wig for cancer patients.

I'm extremely grateful for those who have donated- it means a lot to have their support, and a simple "thank you" really does not do justice for how much I appreciate them.

But the donations have been pretty slow. True, I only started asking about a week ago. But since I was only asking for $8, I guess I had high hopes that things would be moving along faster. And trust me, I get it.. Most of my friends and family have causes that they are pretty dedicated to and devote their time and dollars to those causes. We all have our passions and I am totally, 100% an advocate for that.

A small part of me, though, wondered if some are holding back because they think that since I work for the American Cancer Society, I have to raise money for this event.

That's not the case- at all.

Sure, we're encouraged to support the events out of our office, to join teams and to spread the word about them, but we are in no way required to raise money, to donate ourselves, etc.

I'm participating in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for more reasons than because I work for the American Cancer Society.

A big reason is because many women within my church community have been affected by breast cancer. I can name at least six women that I know in that group who have been diagnosed (and beat) breast cancer. That's just not right. These women are mothers, many of them are teachers, and all of them are women whom I admire. I started a team called the St. Hugo Striders for them- because dang it, none of us at St. Hugo want to hear the words "she has breast cancer" ever again. By standing up in the fight I am telling breast cancer to stay away from our Church and our school, our precious community that has been an amazing influence on my life, and in the life of my family. I'm walking in honor of them and their fight. When I set up this team, all I wanted was for others in the St. Hugo community to join me to walk and to show our support for these women. So far, I'm still walking solo. Again, I get it. It's hard to commit to a date, especially with young ones who have sports and other commitments. But even if I have to walk solo, I'm determined to stand up for these women.

The second reason I am walking is for my cousin Lynn. Although my team name is to honor the St. Hugo women I mentioned, Lynn is in my heart and on my mind daily. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012- and just 33 years old.  Lynn was a preschool teacher and a jazz singer at the time she was diagnosed- a perfectly healthy, active, and quirky 33 year old. In a very short amount of time, She underwent a mastectomy, aggressive chemo and radiation, was told she would never be able to have children due to the hormone therapy she was on. By June 2013, she was considered “cancer free”- until January 2015. Lynn had not been feeling very well and went to the doctor to get things checked out, and discovered that the cancer was back- in the liver. Lynn is one of the strongest, most determined people I've ever met. She's been through hell and back with this cancer and all it's entities. I can't imagine the hurdles she has had to jump over, but she remains strong. I'm walking for her- I'm raising money so that we can fund research to help people like her. I'm walking to raise money for programs like Road to Recovery for Lynn. Because she's one of my favorite people, and she deserves the BEST treatment, services, and support that she could ever imagine. And that's where the American Cancer Society comes in. That's where I come in. How can I sit here and KNOW that I can make a difference for people like Lynn and just NOT do it? How can I just write a Facebook posts that shares WHAT Making Strides Against Breast Cancer does for breast cancer research and programs and just not participate?

I can't. I have to walk. For Lynn, for the St. Hugo women, for women and men everywhere- for our future children, so that they can live in a world that's free of breast cancer. I really do believe that day is coming, my friends, but it won't come without the research.

Is the research actually being done? YES.

Does the money actually go somewhere? YES. 

So if you're ready to join me, here are a few ways you can help:

  • Share my team page and ask your friends/family to donate
  • Join my team and walk with me on October 24th as your way of FIGHTING BACK.
  • Join my team, walk with me, and ask your friends/family to donate to our team.
  • Donate to my team (Remember, all I am asking for is $8)
  • Host a fundraiser at your office...whether it's putting out a coin can, selling Wall of Hope Cards, hosting a bake sale, any fundraiser will help

Here is a link to my team page for you to do any or all of the above: 


Not only will you help me achieve my goal, you'll also help the American Cancer Society make important advances in the fight against breast cancer. You will also be helping a cancer patient receive an authentic wig so that they can feel “normal”. As a caregiver, I know how vital this is to treatment.

Thank you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Other Side

Well, folks, as suspected, my weight popped back up 2 lbs again. Giant sigh. But, I just keep trucking along. I told myself that as long as I keep doing what I've been doing, I'm not doing myself any harm. I did create a 7 week challenge for myself to cut out coffee, alcohol, anything over 12 grams of sugar, and a few other things that could be the culprit of my up and down. As I said, I'll just keep going. 

Since my weight loss updates have been incredibly boring these past few weeks (I mean really...you get it, right? Up 2 lbs, down 2 lbs, up 2 lbs, etc..how often do you need to read about that?)...this week, I decided I would ask some of my family and close friends to share their persepctive of my weight loss journey. Which may seem totally self absorbed. But I promise you, that was not my intent. I simply thought it would be refreshing for you to hear from others. 

My hope is that by hearing some of these "testimonials" if you will, it will inspire you to chase after whatever dream you have because you will see how much of a positive impact this has had on me. 


My Mom. Both of my parents have been on this journey with me since I started, and both have been incredibly supportive and encouraging. 

Megan's weight loss has not just changed her physical appearance. While outwardly that is what most people see, I see so much more. Megan feels good about herself and her confidence has soared. She is a different person in her job and her social life. Whereas before, Megan was never sure of her abilities, she now exudes confidence that she is doing the a fantastic job at ACS. Socially, she is more comfortable at family gatherings and in social situations. She speaks in front of others with ease. She feels her opinions and ideas are worthwhile and important. Megan has changed in so many ways. The person she was two years ago has gone through a metamorphosis ...from a scared caterpillar to a beautiful, confident butterfly.

My Dad: In addition to being supportive and encouraging my dad has also had his fair share of challenges during this two year span.  he's also very introspective.  

Your weight loss journey has brought out so much inner strength. This strength is physical, emotional, and spiritual. Obviously your new body is much stronger. You can run and walk greater distances and with more speed. Emotionally, you are so much less anxious and confident in your abilities. The anxiety that was causing you to overeat is not taking over your life. Spiritually, you are able to connect with other people and their issues. You are giving the advice now and your thoughts are so well received because they are heartfelt and genuine.

My Sister In Law: Sara is not only my sister in law but also one of my best friends, and has been so supportive of me. She gently corrects me when I am too hard on myself.

Megan is my husband's sister and in the past 11 years, has grown to be a sister of my own. As I'm typing this I realize I have known her for the better part of her adult life- and my own. Megan is one of the most loving, caring, heart-on-her-sleeve gals I’ve ever met. She has been that way since I met her. I was so nervous meeting my husband’s family and she was quick to accept me and do anything she could to make me feel comfortable. I’ll never forget that. The Megan I know has always had a passion for helping others and a kindness that never seems to wear or fade. Since losing over 125lbs (go on girl!) she has gained the confidence to share that Megan, the one only those closest to her have been fortunate to know, with everyone. Now, thanks to Megan’s success and new confidence, the entire world gets a chance to know who she really is and what she stands for. They can hear about her journey and her struggles. They can look up to her as a role model and the strong female that’s been hiding under a cloak of insecurities and doubt for far too long. Megan hasn’t become someone else, she hasn’t changed as a person, she’s just finally confident enough to show everyone who she really is- an amazingly tough and fantastically cool girl that everyone needs to know. I’m so proud of her. I cannot wait to see what her future has in store. If you have been any part of this journey or if you are just now getting to know Megan, feel fortunate. It’s not every day you get to meet such an exceptional woman and person.

My Former boss, Peggy: I asked Peggy to share because she has quite literally been with me from the start of this journey. I had a few occurrences at work that were terrifying, and they were due to my weight and high blood pressure. Peggy used to have to take my blood pressure weekly. She saw me transform before her eyes... And teased me about some of the healthy foods I brought in for lunch ;-)

What I see is a very confident young lady who set her mind ,body and spirit to accomplish a goal and she did. No more fears to step ahead . YOU are a Winner. I am so proud .You are always beautiful but now you can see what we all seen. I would have to say your faced challenges that most people do not but I think it may have made you more determined to reach your  goal which was to be healthy.. I am not sure I could eat all the things you did but I am old. LOL I am glad to see your energy and determination to exercise and eat right so your weight loss was steady.but healthy. Stars for you all the way.

My Boyfriend: Tom and I started "talking" when I was at my highest weight. He's been there since the start. He's also always found me beautiful.... He's been the one to watch me cry when I hit plateaus, to be the taste tester for my cooking, my punching bag to practice kickboxing, and my biggest cheerleader. 

I've  been with Megan throughout her whole weight loss journey and I have been lucky to see how much of a positive experience it has been for her. She has gained so much confidence in herself. Also, she is now more accepting of compliments of her being beautiful and sexy because she always has been but thanks to the weight loss journey, she feels that she is. She's also been getting stronger thanks to the kickboxing class (I let her practice on me) . Kickboxing has s helped her become braver than she was before in that I think she will now kick a clowns butt instead of running away from them (she'll do a hell of a high kick to it's big red nose!). But mostly, I've seen her become happier in general. She gets legit sad when she can't work out but usually we'll find some way to get some exercise in, regardless the weather or equipment we have available. I know that once she gets to her target weight goal, it won't be the end of the story but just the first chapter. I know she will continue to kick butt.. This will be one story that will not be ending anytime soon.

I'd say the general consensus is: I've become a stronger, healthier, happier, more confident version of myself. These are all things you've heard me express, but now you've heard it from some of the people closest to me who have literally watched me transform.

I love you all so much. I can't tell you what the words of my parents, Sara, Peggy and Tom meant to me or any of the kind, supportive words I hear from others around me. It helps me to keep going, and just knowing that I have such a strong support system is all I could ever ask for.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dear Nicole Arbour...

Before I begin my open letter to Nicole Arbour, allow me to give some back story to all those reading.

Nicole Arbour is a Youtuber (and self proclaimed "comedian"). She has a history of pissing people off. Last week, she made a video titled "Dear Fat People". In this video, she spits out hatred and disgust toward overweight people. She says that fat shaming doesn't exist...and she claims that she is making this video to "help people" because she cares about them and wants them to live longer.

This video has made it's way around news circuits. Other Youtubers have made their responses. Their are some heated discussions happening. People have very strong opinions about the video, and about Nicole.

And as a former "fat person", I certainly had a lot of feelings when I watched this video. So here I am, to share those thoughts.

Dear Nicole;
By now I am sure you've heard every type of response to your video. I know there's no way you will ever read this one, nor do I think it will change your mind about fat people. 

First of all, I can 100% agree that obesity is a concern. I work for the American Cancer Society and I know that diet and exercise play into your chances of being diagnosed with cancer. But I also know that there are perfectly healthy, THIN people who are diagnosed with cancer or other diseases. Being fat does NOT equal a death sentence or a diagnosis. It does not always mean unhealthy, same as being thin does not always mean healthy. But, yes, obesity is a concern. I am a huge advocate of healthy lunches in schools, getting people to move more and cut out crappy, processed foods. I get it-it would be great if we were all healthier. But there's a problem- it's not that easy.

In your video, you made the statement that you are jealous of fat people, because they get to eat whatever they want. That was the moment where my blood started to boil. That was the moment where your video became all too real for me.

Nicole, I was once obese. And do you know how I got to be obese? It wasn't because I was lazy or because I loved food and loved getting to eat whatever I wanted. It was because I was suffering from depression and anxiety, and it sparked a food addiction. Much like individuals turn to alcohol or drugs, I turned to food to comfort me. Now I know they are some people who think that food addiction doesn't exist or that it would be an easy addiction to have. That is not the case. My years of suffering from a food addiction were the darkest years of my life. I hated who I was, so I didn't care that I was killing myself with food. I barely left my house, I lost friends, I never had a serious relationship. I felt worthless. And every time I tried to stop, my depression/anxiety told me I wasn't worth getting better...that I would never be loved...that I would be better off this way. Each day I had to force myself out of bed because I didn't want to face the world. I would never wish that amount of loneliness, unhappiness, or self destruction on anyone. It nearly destroyed me. 

Are you still jealous? Do you want to be the me that I was a few years ago? Have at it. Tell me how it feels. Let me know what it's like to sneak food into your bedroom so no one sees you binge...or how it feels to be so sick to your stomach that you are lying on your bathroom floor. Or to look in the mirror and hate yourself. Tell me how jealous you are then.

You also say that "fat shaming doesn't exist". Your video negates that point pretty quickly, since that's all you are doing in your video. But trust me, it exists. It existed every time someone stared at me, or laughed at me, or called me names. It exists, and it's getting worse.

I've lost 125 lbs. I'm in recovery from my food addiction. I didn't lose weight because people like you told me I had to, or because people like you called me disgusting. I lost the weight because I figured out a way to handle my anxiety and depression that wasn't food. I stopped letting it control me...I became free. I lost the weight when I dropped the weight of the world on my shoulders.

I'm so worried for people who have your mindset. People who think that you are "Helping" others by making fun of them, tearing them apart, calling them names. That. Doesn't. Work. In fact, it often causes more problems than good. Here's what you can do instead. If there really is someone in your life whom you are worried about because of their weight, you have a conversation with them about it. You tell them you are worried. You do not call them disgusting, or tell them it's "so easy" or that you are jealous of them because they can eat whatever they want. You help them determine what the bigger issue is, and you help them work through it as best you can. That's what my parents did for me, and here I am 125 lbs lighter. That's what works. Not yelling into a camera about how awful it is to be fat.

Your video was a big trigger for me. After I watched it I just felt so sad and heavy. I wanted to lay in bed all day and be sad about it. As I mentioned above, when I was at my worst, and my highest weight, I felt worthless. Your video basically said "yes, you are worthless". My heart broke for the girl I was a few years ago when I watched your video. And I'm a 28 year old grown woman, so I can't imagine the impact your video had on young teens who are struggling with body issues. Maybe you think that's not your problem but as a human being who is trying to be a household name, I'd say it is your problem. You are well aware of your audience and who may stumble on your video.

In closing, Nicole, I have this icky feeling that you aren't going to change your mind. I've seen your Twitter feed and the way you've responded to critics like me, and it isn't pretty. You don't seem to care how hurtful your video actually was. You call it comedy and satire. You just don't get it.....and you may never get it. But I certainly hope that reading stories like mine opens your mind a bit. I hope you learn to use your platform for good. And I certainly hope that you have learned some things along the way. In today's world there are a lot of ways to get your 15 minutes of fame, I'm utterly confused as to why you chose this route.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Weight Loss Wednesday

Thanks to everyone who reached out last week when I was having a pity party about being "stuck". I've accepted the fact that yes, this may be it. But that certainly doesn't mean I'm going to stop. 

I did drop down one pound, so I'm now six pounds away from my goal... But I'm not getting my hopes up because I know I could go back up again.

Last week a coworker walked by me and I noticed she looked slimmer. So I said something... Turns out she has lost 42 lbs! Which is incredible! I sang her praises and congratulated her on the accomplishment. Then she told me that I was her inspiration. And in that moment, I didn't care about being stuck or my goal weight. I was so happy. I've said all along on this journey that if I can help someone else, that's all that matters. And my is that true. 

So I will keep working to (hopefully) inspire others. I've started a run club amongst my circle of friends. We are going to run/walk every Sunday morning until winter rolls in. I've become a team captain for a work wellness challenge where I can encourage my coworkers to  be active. I have fallen in love with taking the lead on anything to do with wellness because it has become such an important part of my life. I just want to share in the joy that it has given me, and I want to help others crush their goals.

As for me I will continue to eat clean, workout, drink my water and hope that these 6 lbs disappear. But even if they don't, I'll walk with pride knowing that I've accomplished more than I ever thought possible, and that I've helped some others along the way.