Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Weight Loss Warrior!

This was originally posted on Sparkpeople on December 29, 2009. As of today, April 27, 2010 I have now lost 80lbs.

Today I hit a big milestone! Today marks 60 pounds lost in 6 months! The more important goal that I hit today is that I set a goal to lose 20 pounds in ten weeks. Not any ten weeks, but the last ten weeks of the year. The ten weeks with Halloween candy, Thanksgiving and Christmas goodies. The ten weeks with unpredictable weather for biking, running and walking outside. The ten weeks when the gym schedule gets all screwy. The ten weeks when the calendar gets full and my patience wears thin. Yep, that is the goal I set and that is the goal I hit today! I cannot express how empowering that is! I feel like I just faced the dragon and came out the victor! It feels like I went into battle armed and ready and used every thing in my arsenal to win the prize. I feel strong! Like amazon woman warrior strong! It is an amazing top of the world kind of feeling that makes me feel ready to take on the next challenge, knowing that when it gets tough I can look back on this moment and know that I have what it takes to succeed. I've always admired strong female role models like Wonder Woman and Xena Warrior Princess and now I know, I have the heart of a warrior and the drive to succeed. Nothing can get in my way, unless I allow it! And today, I will not allow it!

Things I learned from setting the goal to lose 20 lbs. in 10 holiday weeks:
1. A (1) taste of anything will not throw me off track.
2. I can have dessert. One bite of cheesecake to decide if it is worth it, a second bite to confirm it's worth and a third bite to savor. Done. Eating the rest of the cheesecake will not make it taste any better, as a matter of fact it can negate the goodness by making me feel overly full or uncomfortable.
3. I can be pretty creative in how to get a workout in when the weather is bad, the gym is closed, etc. The trick is wanting it! I look at it as 'warrior training'. I cannot be fit for battle if I do not train.
4. The right balance between rest, workout, social events and good nutrition are vital to my well being.
5. If I don't care enough to look after me, sure as shootin' no one else is going to do it.
6. I want to be the kind of woman that inspires me! I want to be amazed by what I can accomplish when I set my mind to it. I want to stand back and say 'it can be done and I did it' and then look for the next challenge.
7. Friends can either be your biggest encouragement and support (spark friends) or your biggest detractors (jealous friends who try to tear you down).

Thanks for your encouragement and support! For your motivations, inspiration and insight! Thanks for helping to arm me for battle and to feel up for the challenge! The battle I fight is not against my weight or my fat . . . it is a battle for my health, my well being and to get to the heart of the woman I was created to be! {She pulls her sword from the sheath at her waist and holds it high in the air} "Who is with me?!"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Created for Beauty

I had the privilege of speaking to a group of 30 teenage girls last night on the topic of body image, value and worth. Our church sponsors this girls night a couple times a month. It is held at The Red Barn, so it is not in the church and those in the community who are not members of the church will feel comfortable and welcomed. It it truly an outreach ministry. There are a couple of adults who oversee the program and four or five girls from our university volunteer to mentor and help.

I would like to share a little bit of the basic message I shared with them last night. I have changed some of the images, but the message is the same.

Look at the picture below and tell me what words come to mind.

The words I usually hear are:

When I was born, my parents loved me and adored me. They gave me a special name, a name that no one else in the family had. It was my own name selected for me by my parents. Carolyn Denise. They rocked me, they loved me, they sang to me, they had hopes, dreams and wishes for me.

I grew into a happy go lucky girl who loved to sing, dance and twirl around in frilly skirts. I also loved to climb trees, run, swim and just thoroughly enjoy live. I was the perfect tomboy princess.

Around the age of five, some other images started entering my world. There was lots of fighting in my home. Loud voices. Doors slamming. Name calling. Threats. I remember being afraid, a lot. Afraid of losing someone I love. Afraid of being hurt myself. Afraid that the mean words that were spoken might be true.

Over the years I started feeling bad about being a girl. The messages I had received said it was dangerous to be a girl. I could get hurt. Someone could want to hurt me, just because I was a girl. A stupid girl who deserved it. How could I be so stupid.

To deal with the abuse, my mother withdrew from my father and from me. She attempted suicide twice by overdose when I was a teenager. I felt abandoned by someone I loved. Someone I had tried to protect. A woman, like me, who felt no value or worth. I must not be worth much. I must not be valued. There are the messages I heard in my head.

At the age of 17 a boy I had known since the day he was born, violated my trust and love for him. In that moment, it was so painful to be a woman. I had developed a very curvy body at a young age and had always drawn the wrong kind of attention. I hated my body. I didn't want to be a woman. Girls are trouble. I'm nothing. I'm a whore. These are the devaluing words I heard in my head.

In response to the messages that screamed lies to me in my head, some eating disordered thinking that had started in my early teens began to escalate. I began hording food, binging, and practicing different forms of deprivation.

This past year, at the age of 43, I had what I refer to as my epiphany year. In a time of emotional crisis, I cried out to God to deliver me. After a couple months of spending time in meditation and solitude with God, my journal and a devotional book, I had the most awesome gift given to me. I had a vision. I know, call me kooky, whatever. It was the most awesome experience and changed my life completely.

I saw myself as a five year old little girl, scared, hurt and ashamed, hiding her face from the world so they could not see her pain. In the vision, I was sitting in the middle of a grassy meadow with no shelter to hide under, nothing to shield my shame. The grassy meadow was the palm of the hand of God. And then I heard him call my name. MY name. It sounded so sweet and so gentle, like a song. But I was ashamed to turn and look at Him. Afraid that he would see how worthless and un-valuable I truly am. Then He said my name again in a reassuring way that told me that He knew everything about me and still loved me. When I turned my head, I was looking into the eye of God. I cannot tell you what He looks like. His eye is all I could see. I cannot tell you what His eye looks like, because all I could see was His love and compassion for me. In His eye, I saw the reflection of all He created me to be. I saw myself as He sees me! And it was beautiful. I was created for beauty. I was created to enjoy life and to live passionately. All that other stuff was just a delusion that kept me in bondage.

I suddenly realized that all the messages I had received were lies. I had long ago forgiven my father. I love him. He deserves grace, mercy and love. I had reconciled my relationship to my mother. She is beautiful. She deserves grace, mercy and love. I had forgive XYZ for violating my friendship and trust. He was young, he didn't realize the impact his action would have on me, he didn't intentionally hurt me. I had extended grace, mercy and yes, even love to him. Each of those violations of trust and love extended of just a short period of my life. However, the most egregious violator of trust and love was . . . ME! I had allowed the voices in my head to continually abuse me on a daily basis. I was mean to me. I was harsh on me. I demanded perfection from me.

Suddenly, I realized I could make a different choice! Once I saw myself as God sees me, I never wanted to be anything less! My heart felt light, there was a skip in my step, a light in my eyes and a beaming smile on my face. THIS is ME!!! And I love me!

So the next time you see a lady (maybe yourself) who looks like this:

or this:

or this:

Reserve your judgment. Show some compassion, love and mercy. Remember, God sees her like this:

Replace any negative adjectives with the lovely ones you would speak to this little lady!

Live Beautifully! Speak Kindly! Love Passionately! Twirl Little Girl! Twirl!

P.S. After the presentation, one of the college girls asked to speak to me alone. She shared with me a struggle she is having with an eating disorder and that the things I had shared really resonated with her. We talked, cried and prayed together. She and I will be having lunch together soon. I believe I was there to say those words for her and her alone. That very afternoon before coming, she had written in her journal how very alone she feels in her struggle with anorexia. She had no idea what I would be sharing and surely had no idea of her struggle.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Running Warrior Returns!!!

I am in the last weeks of training for a half marathon. I started with the C25k training program in October and signed up for my first half marathon before I could even run a mile!!! Crazy! My training had been progressing nicely and I was able to increase my endurance at a steady pace in the months of January, February and the beginning of March. I somehow got off schedule and started pushing myself increasingly harder. The past couple weeks I have been suffering through some pretty ragged runs due to some over training issues. I felt like I had lost my edge. That I had peaked too early and that my training was now tearing me down. So, I took a couple easy days before my Saturday long run, hoping to rekindle the fire in my belly, my inner drive.

As my husband and I stepped out on the trail today, he asked me "What is your goal today?" I said to run and enjoy it. No time expectations. When I'm tired of running, I will walk, when I'm bored with walking I will run. I need to find my inner drive and passion again.

The run was scheduled to be 10 miles and I did plan to cover that distance, no matter how long it took and no matter if I had to walk occasionally. In the second mile of the run, it started to sprinkle. My husband asked be what I wanted to do. I want to keep going. I was just breaking into a rhythm and enjoying the pace I had set. My body and mind were relaxed and enjoying the run. We continued on. At times the wind kicked up and our rain soaked skin would go numb from the cold. I was only wearing a tank style running top with a racer back and a pair of running shorts. I had grabbed a cotton t-shirt out of the back seat of our car before we started out, because is was overcast and a little chiller than I had anticipated. I did have on my ball cap which served as a wind/rain shield. I was looking a little gansta as I would pull the brim to one side and down a little to shield my face from the rain pelting coming at my right side.

During the first few miles, the rain actually felt good. In about mile three I met a familiar friend. My alter ego and best bud in my survival and weight loss success. I have referred to this inner warrior as the Go-Go Gladiator before. When I felt that passion and energy rising, I felt like falling to my knees right there in the middle of that running trail and crying out YES!!! YESSS!!!! YESSSSS!!!!! Thank You LORD!!!! Man, I missed feeling that fire! So glad to know it's still there.

This was an out and back run. On the way out, we would have moments of pelting rain followed by moments of sunshine and then winds and more rain. I realized that we had miscalculated the run and had run too far, but the bathroom was just a mile further and I really needed to go. So, we ran on.

At the pit stop, the rain started coming down in buckets. So my husband and I huddled in the porta potty together. Thankfully it was one of those larger ones that is handicap accessible and they just put them out this week, so they are really clean! We use the time to make sure we have drank enough, fueled properly, calculate our time, chapstick, sanitize, etc. Then we decide it is now or never and take off running. It looked like we might be sprinters after all!!!

We made pretty good time. About half way back, James realized that he had waaay miscalculated our distances and that it was going to be very difficult for me to complete, especially since we were pushing ourselves to run faster because we were freezing cold and soaking wet. When we hit the ten mile mark James encourages me to stop running and walk. He knows I am stubborn and have been battling with some overtraining stresses and injuries. But, I'm cold, it's raining and my legs feel pretty good considering. He looks around to find a farmhouse near the trail and asks me if he should go find me shelter while he runs the last two miles to the car and comes back for me. I say, no, we can do this together. After another half mile, he convinces me that he needs to run ahead and get the car and meet me at the next road, which will save me a half mile run. I agree. As soon as he leaves and is just out of sight, the wind picked up and the rain started harder and it felt like needles hitting my skin. For a moment I felt really alone and a little scared in the middle of nowhere by myself wet and cold. I wanted to crawl into the bushes and wait out the rain. But, James would be waiting. He would worry sick if I didn't show up at the meeting point. I ran. I ran. I'd walk for a few steps and then I'd remind myself that James is waiting, don't make him worry. At this point, I am soooo soaking wet that water is running off the brim of my hat. I am soooo excited as I round the last corner and see him pulling the car up to the meeting spot. I made it! Just in time! He had just gotten there. He had worried that we would be later than expected and I'd have to stand in the rain waiting for him, so he had pushed himself to run as fast as he could to the car. He said at times he would walk a few steps and then take off running again.

I'm glad I have such a loving husband who looks out for my safety and comfort. We were both freezing, starving and exhausted. My planned 10 miles ended up being 11.9 miles! I'm so glad to be the woman I am and to have the blessing of knowing my inner strength. I know that where I have been is part of who I am, and for that I am thankful.

'Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

Thank you friends, for making the journey great!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Journey of Discovery

There is no way I could begin to express all that has transpired in my life in the past 10 months. Wow! Only ten months? Really? I feel like a whole new woman, how could that be in just 10 months.

Ten months ago I was depressed, over weight, hopeless, had plantar faciitis, and thought all my best days were nothing more than memories and photographs from the past. I had developed a persistent cough that was tearing up the lining of my throat and was having some pretty severe acid reflux at night that was making me miserable. At my doctors appointment, I found out that the cough was a reaction to my blood pressure meds, the acid reflux was due to weight gain and dietary choices and . . . . she said "You are depressed. Would you like a mild anti-depressant?" I started to cry. I realized I was stressed and depressed, but to have someone else realize it and say it out loud.

How did I allow myself to get in such a condition? I am smarter than that. I have studied Anatomy and Physiology and Exercise Kineseology. I have a certification in Aerobics Instruction (from my former life!) and am a Yoga Instructor. I know better. I know how to honor my body and how it was created to move. Who have I become? Why?

I assured my doctor that I knew what needed to be done and would take the steps to move in the right direction. Since depression and mental health issues are a prevalent issue in my family and I have struggled with bulimia for 28 years, I know better than to be irresponsible about depression issues. I asked my doctor to schedule a recheck with me for three months and assured her that I would call her if I felt things were spiraling in the wrong direction. She was very supportive and I was reassured. I did not take an anti-depressant, this time, but I knew I could get that help if I needed it.

Long story short. I spent a lot of time soul searching, crying and getting to the root of these repeated patterns of self destruction and abuse in my life. I realized I had become quite lost. I had forgotten how to live a life full of passion. I had forgotten to take time to care for myself.

It would be hard for me to describe in words what my light bulb moment was like. It was beautiful beyond words. When I saw in fullness what I was created for and the joy I felt in my heart, I knew then and there I never wanted to be any less than the wonderful girl I was meant to be. Full. Full of joy. Full of passion. Full of love.

I no longer looked at my weight as a point of shame, guilt or anger. I saw myself with the compassion and love that you would give to a child or a friend who was hurting. I saw that the feelings of guilt, shame and anger had kept me in bondage for most, if not all of my adult life. I am stronger than that. I know better now.

In the place of feelings of guilt for eating poorly, I placed passion for whole clean foods. Even when I choose to indulge, I do not feeling guilty.

In the place of shameful feeling about the stretch marks and damage I have caused my body by being overweight and sedentary, I placed joy. Joy that I have a body that moves and delights in being active. I love feeling like a kid! I play basketball, ride my bike and have a skip in my heart at all times.

In the place of anger over the events of my life that hurt me and scarred me deeply, I placed love. Love for myself for being a survivor. Love for God who is my protector and provider. Love for my husband who has been there for me even when I was an emotional mess.

On this journey I have discovered a lot!

I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.

I can set goals! I can accomplish them!

My best days are not behind me! There are still great things to be done!

I like the sassy kick-butt girl I am!

I like to sweat! I like exercise! I love the way my body feels!

I still have great curves! And my husband likes them! A lot!

I have so much joy and laughter in my everyday life!

Today I will go to the doctor for my annual physical. She has not seen me in the past 6 months. I know she will be pleased. I know I am. I'm hoping to hear her say that I am healthy and strong and no longer need blood pressure medication.

In this journey of discovery I feel a little like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I never knew what I always had. The secret was here, inside of me, all along. All I had to do was choose to change my perception.

And no one has the power to take that away from me !