Weight Loss Journey 1: Focused and Philosophical

woman-506120_1920**This post first appeared on SparkPeople on June 9, 2009**

It’s been a few days since I’ve written a blog post so I thought it was time. First, I want to say that my progress is going really well. I’m really excited that I’ve got positive, uplifting people in my life who are cheering me on and applauding my efforts. The support on this site, too, is incredibly encouraging and helpful. Most importantly, though, I’m really proud of myself for staying committed, working through the rough patches (although, admittedly, there have been few), and cheering myself on instead of tearing myself down for waiting so long to do this. There are two women at work I’m quite close to; just about every day I’ve asked them if they’d like to walk with me; neither have said yes yet. Regardless, I’m taking steps (literally) toward a healthier version of me, and if no one wants to come along for the ride, that’s fine by me. There may have been a point in my life where that might have bothered me, or I might have felt like I shouldn’t walk because no one else went with me. No more. I’m going to achieve my goals whether people are cheering me on or not, because I’m worth it. I’ve wasted far too many precious moments of my life telling myself what I’m not, what I lack, what mistakes I’ve made along the way. Now, I choose to tell myself how awesome I am, what I can achieve, what I’m becoming, and I know that I’m equipped to handle anything that comes my way.

Truthfully, I think it’s taken me so long to really get committed to my health because I didn’t think I was worth the effort. But I have grown to a place in which I will no longer settle for mediocrity, excuses, or unfulfilled potential. I no longer beat myself up if I make a mistake. I’m not perfect–no one is, and that’s okay–and since I’ve given up that battle life has gotten easier. Yes, habits are formed by the decisions we choose to make each day. However, if you beat yourself up over that one mistake you made yesterday, you’re repeating your mistake over and over again, instead of thanking God for another day and another opportunity to turn it all around. I’ve learned to tell myself over and over again how far I’ve come (of course, I still have a long way to go, but the hardest part is getting started, right?) instead of how I’ve messed up along the way. Because ultimately, it’s things you overcome that teach you the most about what you can accomplish, not the things that you allow to get the best of you.

So what am I working on right now? Well, we only get to live life one day at a time. Thank God! I’ve learned that trying to live the next week/month/season/year/decade all at one time is overwhelming, but I take advantage of the time that I have right NOW, and make it productive and rewarding. I don’t have the same crazy excited level of energy I did when I first started out. That’s fine, it would be impossible to maintain and eventually I would come crashing down. The challenge I’m facing is to give myself time to let the changes take place. I didn’t gain this weight in a week, so I’m not going to lose it in a week, either. And although my energy level is still high, and I want results NOW, I know it’s unrealistic to expect to look on the outside what I picture myself looking on the inside. I’m still picturing the me I want to be–no, the me I am becoming–to stay fixated on the end result. Focusing on that helps me to make the day-to-day decisions that will make that picture become a reality. It just won’t happen overnight.

Tuesday is my weigh-in and measure day. And while I’m weighing myself in between Tuesdays (just to check in), that weight doesn’t “count” in how I’m tracking my progress. In a year (or less), when I’m at the weight and fitness level where I want to be, it’s not going to matter that all the weight didn’t come off in the first two weeks. I know there will be times when the weight will just fall off (which I am speaking into existence) and there will be times when it’s a bit more stubborn. There will be times when the numbers will drop like a rock and times when it kind of hovers in the same area. There will be times when all my clothes will feel too big and times when I feel a little, uh, puffy. The point is, I won’t let these small changes deter me from the desired result.

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So what is the desired result? I have learned that this must be very clear in my mind so that it can be achieved. What is it that I want? What is it that I don’t want? Why is this so important to me? Why is it worth all this effort?

 

I don’t want:
To be the fat girl in all the pictures
To think “If only I was thinner”
To have health problems at a young age
To get stuck in a seat on an airplane, a roller coaster, or at a concert
To be the one that slows down a big group
To be the one that everyone feels a little bit sorry for during an athletic activity
For my family to think I’m lazy or sloppy
To let my thoughts OR my body hold me back from experiencing life
To feel like I have to hide
To compare myself to others or to feel like I have to “measure up” to a certain standard
To let myself down
To believe the lie–I AM important, I AM special, and I AM worthy of success!

I want:
To feel good about what I’ve accomplished
To feel beautiful
To believe others when they tell me I’m beautiful
Others to notice what a change has happened in me
To be able to cross my legs under a table
To be able to shop at any store I want and not worry whether they carry “big-girl” sizes
To look good naked
To wear a bathing suit in public without feeling self-conscious
To feel healthy, confident, and strong
To be able to run around with my kids when I have them
To go skydiving (there’s a weight limit, my brothers have checked it out)
For people to say, “Wow! You look better than you did in high school/college!”
For guys to check me out in the mall every now and then 
To astound others with my endless energy and positivity
To be able to walk with my head held high and know that I can achieve anything I set my mind to achieve 


Because:
I deserve to be healthy
It’s important to me to take care of my body–I only get this one for my whole life!
I want to live a long, healthy, and productive life
I feel powerful when I work out
My future husband deserves a hot wife
My future children deserve to enjoy fun stuff with their mother
Other people watch what I do, and can be motivated by my success
I want people to respect the hard work I put into bettering myself
I am an overcomer, and I refuse to let obstacles keep me from becoming what I was meant to be
If I don’t do it now, then when??? The circumstances will never be perfect 

Tomorrow I get to take some more measurements and weigh in. I know that these are just numbers, and that they do not measure my value as a person, only the size of my vessel. The things that I have control over I will take control over, and let God handle the rest.

Best wishes to all on your journey. Be good to yourself! And love yourself no matter what! 

Thought of the Day: “An individual has no limitations except those set up and accepted by an individual in his own mind.” ~ Napoleon Hill

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Inquiring minds want to know: What is all this business about Weight Loss Journey 1 and Weight Loss Journey 2?

Weight Loss Journey 1: I lost 75 pounds from 2009-2011; I’m reposting the blog posts I wrote on Sparkpeople during that time

Weight Loss Journey 2: I have gained back the majority of the weight I lost and have been on a quest since July 2015 to lose the weight again.

Sorry about the timing of the posts, I know that’s probably confusing. But they are only appearing at the same time because I didn’t start my blog earlier. It may be helpful to read the posts by category if you want to catch up. Enjoy!

Weight Loss Journey 1:  Let’s Get Naked

Weight Loss Journey 1: Let’s Get Naked

**This post first appeared on SparkPeople on June 3, 2009**

It’s Tuesday-time to take my measurements again! I’ve decided to do this on a weekly basis to measure my progress. I’ve been (back) on SparkPeople for a week officially now, and I think the first week went pretty well! However, there has been NO change on the scale. Regardless, though, my clothes are fitting better, I have more energy, I’m sleeping better, and I find I’m better focused and more productive at work and at home.

Still, though, I’d really like some objective measures to chronicle my progress. I took my measurements today and compared them to last week. Half an inch here, an inch there–it added up to 9.5 inches! So I’m pretty excited about that. Having never used measurements as a tracking tool, I have no basis for comparison so I’m really not sure if that’s a good amount to have lost in a week or not. But, at least I know my body is changing and that there’s actual physical evidence of it.

I’m in the mood to be silly this evening, so I thought I would do something fun. Here are some other areas of change (on my body) I’ve noticed that really can’t be measured or are more observational. Some of them are just a little bit bizarre, but hey, I don’t make the rules. :-) I suppose this is me making a desperate attempt to focus on positive changes instead of being annoyed at the scale. Hopefully this doesn’t gross anyone out, I’m being completely transparent here…It would be interesting to hear about how changes other people have noticed in their bodies as well! :-) Imagine what it would be like to measure some of these things…

1. Area behind your ears–This is a weird one, but when I lost weight last fall I could feel the skin tightening behind my ears! It became more bony. There’s just no way to measure that, except by feeling it I guess.
2. Jawline–I guess you can see this in pictures, but it’s really quite subjective. One of my jaws is actually thinner than the other, although both seem to have gotten thinner over the past week. One of my cheekbones, too. Hopefully my face will become more symmetrical over time, haha. My neck feels longer and more elegant, too.
3. Shoulders–Recently there’s been a reappearance of my collarbones and where they attach to my shoulders. These bones have been “protected” by “body armor” for quite some time-I’m glad to have them back. :-) I guess you can see this one in pictures too, but other people probably don’t scrutinize every inch of my body the way that I do. :-)
4. Wrists and Hands-My wrists have pretty much stayed the same size, but there’s more definition in the muscles and bones of my hands. My fingers are thinner, and I can more clearly see and feel the blood vessels and tendons under the skin on the back of my hands and on the inside of my wrists.
5. Elbows–My elbows are getting bonier; I can see it in the mirror and feel this as well.
6. Flabbiness of the arms–This is another weird one. You know that part of your upper arm that continues waving at people even when you’ve stopped moving your arm? That part of my arm is…looser. I’m not sure quite how to describe it but it just feels like there’s not as many fat cells crammed in there. The bad thing is, it waves more easily, lol. That’s kinda gross. Sorry.
7. Protuberance of bony prominences-What? By this I mean how much I can see of some of my bones, lol. Of course, it’s not good to look like a walking skeleton, but I don’t want to be a big ball of flub either. My ribs are no longer “hiding” anymore; I can see their outline in the mirror. Also, I can feel my hip bones when I’m in bed lying on my back and/or on my side, much more easily than before.
8. Back fat-Yep, you know what I mean. My core is just a little less, um, lumpy. I have a navel ring; it doesn’t get lost in a belly roll when I sit down anymore.
9. A little less jiggle-my body just feels a little bit firmer all over. More sleek, more athletic. I feel like I have better posture and that it takes less effort to move, even just to change positions or shift in a chair. When I walk I feel like my whole body is moving at one time; in the past I’ve sometimes felt like I lead with my upper body and that it takes a Parking Lot Shadow - by Bridgetsecond or so for my lower body to catch up.

I’m being very real here, I know we all have idiosyncrasies we notice about our own bodies. It amuses me that you can’t really pick what part of yourself changes first, but I’m excited to watch the transformation happen.

So, like, I said, no change on the scale but lots of other changes. Small changes…but they add up over time. Also, if I notice even one tiny little thing that’s changed as a result of the things I’ve done so far, it will keep me motivated. I’m excited about bigger and more noticeable changes, but overall I really just want to be healthy. I’m probably focusing too much on the external changes, but those are the ones that are easier to measure. I will continue to chronicle all of the (positive) changes I’m experiencing.

I hope you’re also enjoying your journey! Stay motivated and focus on the you you want to be! You can achieve it!

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Inquiring minds want to know: What is all this business about Weight Loss Journey 1 and Weight Loss Journey 2?

Weight Loss Journey 1: I lost 75 pounds from 2009-2011; I’m reposting the blog posts I wrote on Sparkpeople during that time

Weight Loss Journey 2: I have gained back the majority of the weight I lost and have been on a quest since July 2015 to lose the weight again.

Sorry about the timing of the posts, I know that’s probably confusing. But they are only appearing at the same time because I didn’t start my blog earlier. It may be helpful to read the posts by category if you want to catch up. Enjoy!

Helping Others By Helping  Yourself

Helping Others By Helping Yourself

Rainy Day; pic by Stock Xchange

Rainy Day: pic by Stock Xchange

I was in a really crappy mood early this week.  It started off when I didn’t get the rest I needed from the weekend and from the moment I got out of bed Monday morning I was in a foul mood.  I felt like a storm cloud, my negative attitude raining all over everyone, and I’m sorry to say it continued into a good part of the day.

That’s not typical for me.  As you may have guessed by the title of this blog, Cheerful Focus, in general I’m a happy-go-lucky type of girl.  But I’m human, of course, so I too have those days when everything seems to aggravate me and I just really don’t want to deal with life’s irritations. 
What I know about people (including myself) is that if our basic needs (hunger, thirst, fatigue, safety, etc.) are not met it is impossible for us to focus on the bigger picture (being a good friend, focusing on long-term goals, etc.). 
This was me on Monday.  I was tired, I was cranky, and I didn’t really want to be around people.  My job description is to help others; some days that’s hard to do when I’m wrapped up in my own needs.
Once again I am reminded that taking care of myself is the best thing I can do to be a source of support for others. 
That is worth repeating:
SOMETIMES CARING FOR YOURSELF IS THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO TO BE A SOURCE OF SUPPORT TO OTHERS
When I’m tired, when I’m hungry, when I feel sick—those things keep me from operating at 100%.  I have to remind myself:  it is normal to have needs—physical, spiritual, emotional, etc.  That doesn’t mean I am high maintenance.  That doesn’t mean I’m selfish.  It means I’m human.  And it is my humanity that allows me to connect with others and be helpful to them, to offer an empathetic ear and compassion.  It is my sensitivity that drains me, but it also allows me to recognize when others are in pain and offer words of encouragement.  It is being fully present with the clients I serve, friends, and family that allows me to maximize those relationships, but it also can deplete my emotional and physical energy.
So, what’s the solution?
Rest and refreshment. 
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I needed a “time out”.  I needed to recharge my batteries, distract myself from the hard parts of life and give myself permission for rest and nourishment.  There are a lot of ways to do this; there are many behaviors and strategies people use to deal with life.  For me, it meant taking a walk with my dog, basking in the sun for awhile, receiving support from people I care about, and scheduling a day off of work next week. 
Am I back to 100%?  It depends on when you ask.  Today is a much better day than Monday, but I’m still looking forward to spending some time with friends this weekend and taking that day off of work! 
The truth is, caring for people is hard.  It takes time, energy, and effort to listen to others, focus on them, and be a supportive presence.  It’s easier for some people than others, but even those who choose to work in caring professions get burned out.  And we are all caregivers in some capacity, be it with friends, children, romantic partners, parents, clients, pets….the list goes on and on.  We need to allow ourselves time and space for reflection and renewal, not just to be helpful to others, but to be good to ourselves.
How do you cope with the struggles of life?   What things are effective for you?  What do you do to get to your 100%?
Weight Loss Journey 2:  Every Little Bit Counts

Weight Loss Journey 2: Every Little Bit Counts

fist-681847_1920I’m just over 5 weeks in to my weight loss journey and still going strong! 

At my very best (early in the morning, naked, when I’ve gone to the bathroom and taken in very little) I have lost about 15 pounds.  Not too shabby!  The time has really gone faster than I expected.  The weight, not as fast as I would have liked, but I am trying to think of this journey as a marathon, not a sprint!

This time, my focus has been more on nutrition than anything else.  In the past, I became addicted to exercise and would do it constantly.  Maybe it’s because I’m older now and don’t have quite as much energy as I had in my 20’s, maybe it’s because I have more responsibilities demanding my time, maybe it’s because my job is more emotionally demanding, which drains me…whatever the reason, I have not focused as much on the exercise piece as I did in the past.  I still do Zumba classes 1-2 times per week, take walks with my dog 1-2 times per week, but it’s inconsistent and it’s not something I prioritize.  If I’m at the gym, I feel guilty for being away from my dog and all my responsibilities at home.  If I’m walking the dog, I feel more responsible but I don’t get a workout that’s the same quality as I would if I was at the gym.  Constantly I need to focus on how to balance my time and my energy.stairs-918735_1920

All that being said, my eating habits have changed dramatically.   I have a sweet tooth and cookies and cakes were a source of comfort, a kind of “reward” for a hard day.  Now I have no problem saying no to trouble foods in tempting situations:  when I’m going out for Mexican food with my girlfriends, when it’s been a long day and I want to hit up the drive thru instead of waiting to eat until I get home, when I’m stressed and it would be easy to stuff something sweet in my mouth to take the edge off. 

Food habits can easily become an addiction.  Of course, food is necessary to sustain life, I wouldn’t condone stopping eating altogether, but there are always healthy options available if you take the time and energy to plan head, or make good decisions when you are faced with temptation. 

For me, the trickiest thing has been avoiding cookies and cakes when I’m stressed.  I work at a facility with a café that’s very close to my office.  The cooks there are constantly baking and making comfort foods, and the delicious smells waft right into my office.  Since I bring my own lunch I can avoid the café, but bringing healthy snacks and drinking a lot of no-calorie beverages helps me stave off the cravings for the unhealthy stuff.

There are a couple of habits that I could utilize to speed up my progress:  drinking more water, and exercising more.
For today, though, I’m going to give myself some credit for consistency.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were these hips!  :-) Consistency will help me far more than anything else, I am sure of that.
What do you do when you’re faced with temptation?  How do you reward yourself for consistency?

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Inquiring minds want to know: What is all this business about Weight Loss Journey 1 and Weight Loss Journey 2?

Weight Loss Journey 1: I lost 75 pounds from 2009-2011; I’m reposting the blog posts I wrote on Sparkpeople during that time

Weight Loss Journey 2: I have gained back the majority of the weight I lost and have been on a quest since July 2015 to lose the weight again.

Sorry about the timing of the posts, I know that’s probably confusing. But they are only appearing at the same time because I didn’t start my blog earlier. It may be helpful to read the posts by category if you want to catch up. Enjoy!

Weight Loss Journey 1:  Ice Packs in My Shorts

Weight Loss Journey 1: Ice Packs in My Shorts

*This post first appeared on SparkPeople on June 2, 2009*

I had a minor setback when I pulled a muscle in my leg this weekend. I suppose I was a little overzealous-between Saturday and Sunday I walked 10 miles and did an hour and a half of high-intensity aerobics. Keep in mind, I’m still a beginner! So this was a bit much. My body tried to tell me this Sunday night as I was doing my Turbojam (one of the best workouts EVER!!!!) and I started to fill a little pull in my hip/groin area every time I lifted my right knee or kicked my right leg. Determined to be determined, I ignored it and finished the video anyway. By the time I went to bed, I could hardly walk without wincing. All through the night I couldn’t get comfortable; I slept horribly because every time I tried to shift in bed I could feel it pulling. I even took 2 Aleve (which is unheard of, I hate to take medications) but, sadly, got very little relief.
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So I was disappointed to find when I woke up Monday that it was still hurting. Disappointed, because, I knew I shouldn’t work out on Monday! Isn’t that crazy? I’m like an addict, all I want is my endorphin fix! So I gimped around at work and promised my poor strained muscle that I wouldn’t damage it any further. And when I got home from work I walked around with ice packs in my shorts to reduce the swelling and help it heal. But even at home, I couldn’t sit still, and ended up organizing my closets (still simplifying, after all….) and telling myself that it didn’t count as working out so I wouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to stay active.
What a change from a few weeks ago! I can’t believe how much my energy level has gone up and how much I CRAVE exercise, not because it will help me lose weight, but because it makes me feel healthy and confident. I also resorted to cleaning out my closets (that sounds so silly to say) because I didn’t really know what else to do with myself. Mind you, there have been more days than not that I HAVEN’T worked out, but the only thing I could think to do with my displaced energy was clean my apartment! It’s so silly, but I’m really excited that exercise has become a part of my routine so fast. I’m itching for when I can get back to doing two workouts a day.
This is all so bizarre. Seriously, I’m–well I guess I should say, I used to be, about the least athletic person I know. Not anymore, and I’m proud of that!So what have we learned, folks?1. Proper form is important. I think this issue (I don’t want to call it an injury, that sounds too dramatic) was caused by inadequate stretching, and keeping my feet planted when I should have been lighter on them. It’s easy to lose focus when you’re excited and just let loose. Certainly, have some fun, that keeps you coming back for more. But take care of your body and treat it right, or you will pay.2. Pay attention to your terrain. I walk at an outdoor park, and today I was noticing that the majority of it slants down to the right, which puts a little extra strain on the ol’ right hip. I tried going the opposite way (not walking backwards, lol, but starting the walk where I used to end and taking the trail in the opposite direction), which helped somewhat, but it still wasn’t ideal.

3. Listen to your body. Yes, we’ve all heard that a thousand times. But if you’re rapidly becoming a workout junkie like me, it’s worth it to take it a little slow so you can get in your workout the next day! I believe my body was trying to tell me to slow down (like I said, still a beginner) and had to resort to less subtle communication because I refused to pay attention.

4. Healthy habits are easy to integrate into your life. Like I said, I can’t believe how fast exercise has become one of my favorite things in the world. Maybe it’s because I’m single and have a lot of time on my hands, lol, but I love the rush I get from the endorphins and how powerful and strong I feel when I’m working out.

So how am I doing today? Much better! Taking it easy yesterday was worth it. I walked 3 miles today and am chilling (literally, lol) with some ice packs again just for good measure, but the irritation has almost completely dissipated. I’m excited to get back to 100% though.

The coolest, thing, though, was that as I was walking today I was eager to start jogging. Now, I know that’s about the surest way to exacerbate the strained muscle, so I continued walking, but I’m excited about that because I’m still focused on the future. There are runners that go to that park too, and one of the things that I visualize is running at that park, looking all slim and athletic, and having it be just as easy to run 3-5 miles as it is to walk it now. Maybe I’ll train for a 5K. I don’t know if I’d ever be interested in a marathon, or even a half marathon, but I’m so confident in my abilities now that I’m not ruling it out.

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One other thought: take care of your feet. My feet have been whining at me a little bit, but they support all your weight and take the pressure when you keep piling that weight on. Then, as you try to lighten the load, they still take the most impact when you’re working out.

Thought of the day: You don’t have to play a professional sport to be an athlete. All you need is the drive to train your body, treat it with care, and work to keep it strong. This is much in the same way as a beginning violinist can be a musician if he knows how to use the violin to guide the music to create a song. Learn to guide your body and treat it as an instrument that will allow you to lead a long, healthy, and productive life.

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Inquiring minds want to know: What is all this business about Weight Loss Journey 1 and Weight Loss Journey 2?

Weight Loss Journey 1: I lost 75 pounds from 2009-2011; I’m reposting the blog posts I wrote on Sparkpeople during that time

Weight Loss Journey 2: I have gained back the majority of the weight I lost and have been on a quest since July 2015 to lose the weight again.

Sorry about the timing of the posts, I know that’s probably confusing. But they are only appearing at the same time because I didn’t start my blog earlier. It may be helpful to read the posts by category if you want to catch up. Enjoy!

 

The Practical Reason I Started a Blog

The Practical Reason I Started a Blog

heart-462873_1280One day I would love to have an independent income that’s stable enough that I have the option stay at home with my children when I have them.  As a Hospice Social Worker, I love my job, but it still confines me to a time commitment of (at least) 40 hours per week, not to mention a 35-minute commute (one way), and a significant investment of emotional energy.  As I just came off a summer full of travel and quality time with family and friends, I am reminded of the precious time I have and how I want to spend it with people I care about.

Currently, I’m single.  Although I’m dating a wonderful man, we have no immediate plans for marriage and I have no children.  Let me clarify:  if you count a beagle mix pup, then, yes, I am a single mom, but I have no human children.  I know the pet owners out there understand. 😉

But I want them.  Someday.  As I approach my mid-thirties it becomes more apparent to me that my child-bearing years are limited.  But it’s extremely important to me that the circumstances be right-I want to be in a stable marital relationship with a man I can also call my best friend, who I have fun with before and after the kids enter the picture.  In the past I have been nervous about my aging eggs while still trying to convince myself I have plenty of time, but its most important to me that the circumstances be right before I enter that phase of my life.  I haven’t always had baby fever but its strength has ebbed and flowed in the past several years, especially as people around me get pregnant and I get to hold their adorable babies!  The sweet children I have in my life combined with the thought that everyone seems to be pregnant makes me feel like I’m behind.  However, my life circumstances are not right for children at this time, and if I want to do it right there are a lot of things that need to happen before I feel comfortable bringing children in to the world.

I have so much respect for my parents, who raised 3 children on a modest single income, so that my mom could stay home and raise us.  Now, I am an independent woman of the Y Generation, but I still long for the choice to stay at home with my children if I should want to, instead of cursing the American government for the too-short, 6-week unpaid maternity leave that is available to me.

mother-429158_1280So, here I am.  I want quality time with my family (now, and in the future), and I’m taking steps now to make sure that I will have options when I finally do have children of my own.

You will see these things reflected in my life (and by default, my blog) as I continue to share my story.  Some of the topics that are important to me directly relate to this (long-term) desire for a family, but all of them relate to my own desire to be the best version of myself that I can be.

These are the things that I’m working on that you will come across on this blog:

  1.  My health:  Currently I’m on a journey to lose weight and improve my health.  This not only helps my long-term health but also will reduce the chances of complications when I do decide to get pregnant.  Regardless of my age or whether I’m considering child-bearing, though, health is critical to quality of life and I want to do my part to make sure I’m maximizing my health.  I heard someone say once that if you only got one car for your whole life, you’d probably take excellent care of it.  Similarly, the body can be viewed as a vehicle, that takes you where you want to go.  It needs maintenance, fuel, rest, and nourishment to function at its best.  I only get one body, I want to treat it well.
  2. Money:  I’ve gotten rid of all debt outside of my home and student loans.  For years I have been informing myself about how to manage my finances—Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, Robert Kiyosaki, blogs about finances, couponing, and saving money—all have been sources of education about financial management and budgeting.  While I have a long way to go on completely eliminating my debt I continue to try to maximize every dollar that comes into my life.  I have put some money in savings for life’s little surprises and even though I’m young I am contributing to a retirement fund to serve me in my golden years.  I have a salaried job, but also use sales and coupons to save money, and take on side projects to make additional money.   Managing money is a long-term project, my income and expenses won’t always be what they are now, but there are things I can do to plan ahead to make sure I’m in the best possible financial situation.
  3. Home Improvement Projects:  My home is a little 2-bedroom townhouse.  At 871 square feet, it’s more than enough for me and the dog, but not ideal long-term if I want to live with anyone besides my fur baby.  Since I closed on the home in 2011, I have painted, sanded, scraped, and made all kinds of changes to improve the value of the home.  Long-term I plan to either sell it or rent it out.  But right now I live there, so I have done as many improvements as I can by myself to save money.  Most of the improvements have been cosmetic, thankfully, and I have been able to get great deals on supplies from time to time.
  4. Self Improvement:  I want to be the best person I can be–for myself, but also for the people I take care of at work and the loved ones in my personal life.  If I’m not feeling balanced it is hard for me to be available to be a source of support for others.  As I continue to discover my true nature and how to relate best to those around me, I need to reflect and process things as they happen.  I love books about self-development (or “self-help”, as the bookstores like to classify them), and I’m much more likely to be reading something like that than a fashion magazine.  I have chosen to have relationships with people that I’m able to discuss life with on a deep level, and fortunately because of my vocation I have a lot of friends with a therapy/counseling background.

As I go through life I will share thoughts about my journey in each of these areas.  I hope that the things I have struggled with will be a source of help and support to others.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any ideas on how to make life just a little more easy, let me know! :-)

Love Your Body

revolution-743467_1920It’s a commonly accepted social practice to participate in body-bashing with your girlfriends.  The most obvious thing women discuss is their weight, of course, but in my experience it doesn’t stop there.  The texture of our skin, the “boniness” of elbows and knees, freckles and moles, the shape and length of individual fingers and toes—everything falls under the scrutiny of a woman’s own judgmental eye.    (Guys, this may apply to you too, I’m not sure, but I’m speaking from my own experience as an American woman.)  I have heard friends criticize their “toddler hair”, “cankles” and have described my own hands as “freakishly small”. 

Weight Loss Journey 1: Measuring Progress

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*This post first appeared on SparkPeople on May 30, 2009*

So here we are again, a couple of days into the beginning of my transformation.

The purpose of changing my body is not just to look better, but also to feel stronger, healthier, and more confident. Of those, the most important is for me to have more self-confidence. So far I’ve already noticed a difference in how I carry myself, my energy level (it’s up), my productivity (also up), more satisfying sleep. I have gotten positive feedback from others around me.

At work, seven people have told me that they’ve noticed I’m losing weight (in the past week). I’d be lying if I didn’ say I’m a little frustrated that there have been no significant changes on the scale. I’m fully aware that it’s a long-term process, I can’t expect to see immediate changes, blah blah blah…but with the changes I’ve seen in the mirror I would expect to see some sort of change on the scale. But that’s all okay, I’m driven by the end results, not the current ones. It still would be nice to be able to answer the question, “How much weight have you lost?” I took measurements last week with a tape measure and plan to use weekly changes, along with my energy level and how my clothes are fitting, to give me some indication of how I’m progressing. Also, I know that muscle and fat both have weight, and as the proportions of fat and muscle change, the scale won’t reflect those. It would probably be more accurate to get fat percentage testing…but I don’t think I’m quite ready for that. Regardless, it’s still nice to hear that people are noticing the changes that I’m seeing as well.

On the other hand, you may be thinking “Bridget, are you crazy? You’ve only been on SparkPeople for 3 days, you really can’t expect to see huge number changes already”. Yes, this is true. It’s just that there have been so many changes in so many other areas it would be nice to have a more empirical measurement to go by. Also, my journey began before I committed to being accountable to myself through SparkPeople. What a great tool! Above all, though, I think I’m just a little bit tired and not being as diligent as I should be about those negative thoughts creeping in…

Anyhoo, I think I’ll just sign off and go to bed. I’m excited for tomorrow, and I plan to have a very productive day. I’m going to clean my apartment, walk a few miles at a park near where I live, and catch up on some odds and ends I want to tie up. Last weekend (consistent with my new philosophy of simplyfying) I went through my drawers and closets and got rid of clothes that I don’t wear and/or don’t fit anymore. I think it’s important when you’re making new changes in your life to abide by the “out with the old, in with the new” mentality, to prepare your mind for the positive changes that come with taking on something new. So, for me, that means maintaining clean surroundings and remaining productive.

Have a wonderful, productive weekend! Enjoy the rest of May! :-)

Thought of the day: Developing the habit is more important than the short-term results that come with starting out. Consistency is key!

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Inquiring minds want to know: What is all this business about Weight Loss Journey 1 and Weight Loss Journey 2?

Weight Loss Journey 1: I lost 75 pounds from 2009-2011; I’m reposting the blog posts I wrote on Sparkpeople during that time

Weight Loss Journey 2: I have gained back the majority of the weight I lost and have been on a quest since July 2015 to lose the weight again.

Sorry about the timing of the posts, I know that’s probably confusing. But they are only appearing at the same time because I didn’t start my blog earlier. It may be helpful to read the posts by category if you want to catch up. Enjoy!

Weight Loss Journey 2:  After 4 Weeks, I’m Getting My Swagger Back

Weight Loss Journey 2: After 4 Weeks, I’m Getting My Swagger Back

wonder-woman-533663_1920After 4 weeks, I’m still only down about 10 pounds.   Part of me is very disappointed, expecting quicker results.  Another, more enthusiastic part of me is like, “Bridget, you are crazy!   You’ve lost 10 pounds!  That is wonderful!  Let’s do a celebratory happy dance!”

I know that it’s natural to want to see quick results, especially since I’ve made drastic changes in my lifestyle, but those things will come with time, and won’t always be announced on the scale. (These are things I have to remind myself.)

That being said, I have noticed some small victories:

More Definition Between My Waist and Hips

I have had an hourglass figure for as long as I can remember, but as my weight went up so did the inches on my waistline, and I felt more like a blob than a woman.  But my figure is returning to its womanly shape, which I learned to embrace long ago, and I find myself sauntering when I walk.  My pants are fitting better, and they are not creeping up into inappropriate places (ladies, you know what I mean).

My Back is Smoother

Sometimes when I wear more form-fitting tops I am embarrassed by the rolls I have.  I know we all have our lumpy places but they are not something I want to draw attention to.  My back feels smoother and I’m finding myself returning to tighter fitting clothing over boxy, shapeless tops.

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I’m Craving Nutritious Food

Over the past four weeks I have maintained strict control over what I eat.  I never gave into temptation, not even once, and I’m proud of myself for that.  I didn’t lock myself in my room either.  Summer has brought with it opportunities for spending time with family and friends, and of course opportunities for travel and eating out.  There were a few times I wanted a spoonful of ice cream or a Starbucks Chai Tea Latte, but when I thought of my long-term goals I made healthier decisions instead.  I’m a big believer in moderation but the plan I’m on doesn’t allow for that…just yet.  Besides, my willpower is not as strong as it once was, so I need to keep making healthy decisions to remind myself I’m strong enough to do it.  Fortunately, my body prefers the taste and texture of nutritious food, and I find myself craving it.

My belly is flatter

It’s easier to bend over and move my legs around because my belly is less of an obstacle.  I’m beginning to be able to feel my hip bones in the front again; it’s been a very long time since I’ve been closely acquainted with them.

My face is thinner

In pictures I have noticed reduced puffiness from my cheeks to my chin.  My smile is more noticeable, which makes me want to do it more often!

Less aches and pains

Maybe it’s because I’m filling my body with healthy and nutritious foods instead of a bunch of chemicals, but I have noticed less aches and pains, especially in my knees and feet.  I had been resigning myself to the fact that I’m “getting older” and that aches and pains are “normal”, but I don’t think that’s true.  Wearing proper footwear helps with this as well (that may seem obvious, but there are a lot of cute shoes out there that have no support at all), especially during exercise.

I am proud of the changes I have made so far but I know I have a long way to go.  I didn’t put this weight (back) on overnight and I won’t be able to get it off overnight!  I’m confident I will continue to make good decisions that point me in the right direction!

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Inquiring minds want to know: What is all this business about Weight Loss Journey 1 and Weight Loss Journey 2?

Weight Loss Journey 1: I lost 75 pounds from 2009-2011; I’m reposting the blog posts I wrote on Sparkpeople during that time

Weight Loss Journey 2: I have gained back the majority of the weight I lost and have been on a quest since July 2015 to lose the weight again.

Sorry about the timing of the posts, I know that’s probably confusing. But they are only appearing at the same time because I didn’t start my blog earlier. It may be helpful to read the posts by category if you want to catch up. Enjoy!

Weight Loss Journey 1:  New Beginnings

Weight Loss Journey 1: New Beginnings

ulsan-442399_1280**This post first appeared on My SparkPage on Sparkpeople on May 27, 2009**

Well here we go…the first step on my journey. Let me catch you up…

I’m 26 years old, I’ve been overweight for pretty much as long as I can remember. Of course, the most painful memories of that time were in adolescence. As I was finishing high school I was wearing the upper end of “normal-sized” clothing. Once I got to college I gained the dreaded freshman 15 although I tried to incorporate some healthy habits, like exercise, into my daily routine. It never actually became a habit though (not then, anyway). Through college and grad school I was gaining about 10 pounds a year from poor lifestyle habits and some medication I was taking at that time. I managed to stop gaining a couple of years ago, and have been gaining and losing the same 10 pounds since then (which is now gone, I’ll tell you about it in a moment).

During that time I tried several things: the Atkins Diet (which worked very quickly, but was impossible to maintain-I was ravenous!), the Total Body Reshaping System (that actually worked really well and was much more realistic than some other things I had tried), and some other programs from infomercials. There was one that focused more on nutrition than exercise, and had a lot of really helpful information about caring for your body and nourishing it. It also addressed some of emotional components behind eating and choosing to stay overweight. One of the most important things I took away from that program was the concept of “body armor”; staying overweight to keep people from getting too close to you, since people who are overweight tend to draw less attention to themselves than an average-weight person. I’m still dealing with that one. I learned a lot from these different programs that I’m carrying with me on my journey to health and wellness.

Last fall I moved to North Carolina from upstate New York. There were many reasons for the move, but the most prominent was so that I could have a fresh start. I started changing some of my habits and had incorporated exercise into my life sporadically. Finally for good, I lost that stubborn 10 lbs in November, which I’m proud to say I have kept off through the holidays and the first part of the year. The goals on this site don’t include my heaviest weight, which is a thing of the past.

So why the new beginning?

First, I’ve realized that although I was working to lose that 10 pounds in November, I didn’t really commit to the work it would take to lose any more than that. I’m really proud of myself for that accomplishment, and it’s helped me to realize that if I’ve lost 10 pounds, I can sure as heck lose 10 more, and it has opened my eyes to what I’m capable of achieving.

Second, a couple of weeks ago I found a picture of myself from when I was a senior in high school (senior prom). In it I weigh approximately 50 lbs less than I do now. So I told myself, if I was at that weight at one time as an adult, I can sure as heck get there again. I have that picture on my refrigerator and look at it daily. That concept of body armor is still mulling around in my head. I told that picture I’m not afraid to be noticed anymore, and that I’m going to let that beautiful, thin, confident woman out so that the rest of the world can meet her, because she is very special. There’s no need to hide any longer.

Third, I’ve been trying to simplify things in my life. My personality is such that I tend to analyze things from every different angle instead of just making a decision and acting on it. I’ve decided to STOP making things more complicated than they need to be. Life is too short. And although I still analyze, I’m getting better at shutting off that part of my mind when it’s holding me back from going after something. I don’t want to be a year down the road and be in the same position I’m in now. And that goes for several areas of my life, not just my weight. So it’s time to be bold, take chances, make a plan and stick to it, because I deserve everything that I’m willing to work for.

So, now you’re caught up.

Of course, there’s way more to the story than that, but there’s the abridged version. Beginning about a week ago is when I really made the decision to commit to a change. I’ve been working out a lot (I’m getting addicted to it, which is great…gotta love those endorphins!) and being really careful about what I put in my mouth and in my mind. Finding that picture really helped me to visualize where I can be, and also helped me to see where I am. As with any journey, the road ahead won’t be filled with puppy dogs and rainbows, lol, but I’m confident that if I can keep my eyes focused on the end result than I can achieve anything I put my mind to by making good decisions on a daily basis.

I actually joined Spark People when I was in graduate school, but I never really did anything with it. I’ve learned that the most important things to do when setting a goal is to have a way to be accountable to yourself in taking steps to achieve that goal, and to surround yourself with like-minded people who will be supportive and positive and understand what you’re going through. (I could speak volumes on that, but I’ll save it for another day…)

So day one is drawing to a close and I’m feeling confident, focused, and decisive. I’ve never blogged before so please bear with me-a new step! :-) The journey has already begun…

Enjoy your journey! And keep your eyes focused on the goal!

Quote of the day: It’s not the smart that get ahead, but the bold. – Robert Kiyosaki

************************************************************

Inquiring minds want to know: What is all this business about Weight Loss Journey 1 and Weight Loss Journey 2?

Weight Loss Journey 1: I lost 75 pounds from 2009-2011; I’m reposting the blog posts I wrote on Sparkpeople during that time

Weight Loss Journey 2: I have gained back the majority of the weight I lost and have been on a quest since July 2015 to lose the weight again.

Sorry about the timing of the posts, I know that’s probably confusing. But they are only appearing at the same time because I didn’t start my blog earlier. It may be helpful to read the posts by category if you want to catch up. Enjoy!