Friday, November 21, 2014

You Don’t Have to Remain in the Fast Lane

So, way back when, as one of my earliest blog posts, I discussed how speeding isn't necessary. I remember that I wrote that, but so much has happened in the nearly 2 years since that post, that I had to go back and re-read it to ensure that I didn't repeat myself. While revisiting that stop along the Road Trip, it occurred to me that I really should go back and revisit my entire journey. Especially right now, with the holidays looming and end-of-year reminiscing, it just made sense that now is the time to look back. As the old saying goes, “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

I started this blog as a means of chronicling my struggles and successes, my trials and triumphs as I embarked on the (seemingly) overwhelming task of losing half my body weight. Now that I've achieved that goal, I continue to find little things along the way that inspire something down deep inside that I feel I should share. One such tidbit came from an unexpected source. As some of you know, my story was featured on CNN, and since then, I have been blessed with many opportunities, including being interviewed by and even appearing on a segment of “The Doctors.” As it turns out, the unexpected source of inspiration came when someone from CNN reached out and asked if I would be interested in doing a follow up “Where Are They Now?” type story for January. It would coincide with people making New Year’s Resolutions. I sent back a quick response indicating that I would love to be a part of the New Year’s Resolution story and jotted down a quick piece of advice that I would offer someone making such a resolution: It’s not a resolution for a New Year, it’s a resolution for a New You. As soon as those words were staring back at me, I knew I had to translate that idea into a stop along my Road Trip.

 As you are driving along the interstate, it is tempting to want to hang out in the far left lane– the fast lane, as it were– in order to get where you’re going as fast as you can. It seems like a logical thought, but you can go too fast. When I talk about a New You Resolution, what I really mean is that thinking about the diet as a temporary activity will more than likely end in disappointment. For someone to get the desired results, it takes more than a casual “it’s a new year, I should lose some weight” passing thought. It takes a core desire to change what you've done your entire life and try something new. After all, if you want to be something you've never been, you have to do something you've never done. Overhauling your mind and body is not something to speed through. It took me 2 ½ years to hit goal and I learned a lot about myself during that time. If I had stayed in the left lane, pedal to the metal, there is no doubt I would have lost the weight faster, but I also may have gotten distracted and lost focus of the final goal. I’m not saying I wouldn't have been successful, but slowing down and appreciating the changes that I made helped me change old habits and create new ones. No one is timing you on your progress, so there is no need to rush through it. People often want instant gratification, but proper and healthy weight loss is not something that can be, nor should be, done overnight. It’s a long slow journey, but it is worth every mile!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Frustrated with a Traffic Jam

OK, so you know when you’re cruising along, hitting traffic lights with ease, there are minimal cars on the road and your road trip seems to be going along swimmingly. And then, all of the sudden, a traffic jam of biblical proportions halts you in your tracks. Yeah, that happens, trust me.

As much as I’d like to believe it, this journey can’t all be about sunshine and rainbows. At some point, the storm clouds are going to roll in and there is going to be a serious traffic delay that causes me to rethink whether or not I should stay the course. Now, depending on when this stall takes place will dictate how much of an introspective conversation I will need to have. If the delay is merely miles outside of my destination, I think it’s a no-brainer that a few extra minutes sitting in traffic is no big deal. However, if there is a major road closure right as I’m starting out? Well, then it’s time for me to seriously analyze what I want to accomplish.

Throughout this journey, I really don’t know if I have made it clear that this task is not easy. That was the impetus behind this blog. Knowing it’s not easy, knowing that it takes a little something extra to achieve was why I wanted to write everything down and put my story out there. There were plenty of times I wanted to quit and maybe plenty of times that I almost did, but I realized that the quitting behavior is what I’d always done. And isn't the clinical definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result? If you want something you've never had, you must choose to do something you've never done. To me, that is the polar opposite of insanity.

Deciding to quit is nothing new for people. Deciding to succeed, there’s where we tread into unexplored territory. So, when you come up on your traffic jam, decide if you will take the same, tired way back home or venture on the road less travelled. The fork in the road is before you, and it is up to you to decide which way is going to take you to your ultimate destination.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Beware of Reckless Drivers

OK, so I know that I have talked about “Road Rage” in the past, but that was mainly about anonymous hating focused on people whom I have never met simply trying to live their lives. I want to address the reckless drivers out there who pose a specific threat to my personal journey. There is no doubt that the internet offers a certain level of anonymity that has been the downfall of basic human kindness. I guess it’s the internet. I’d prefer not to think that the bully mentality that is so prevalent today is not because Homo sapiens suck, in general, as a species.

Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve dragged my soap box out previously to discuss how people can bash random people for being “chunky” or “fat” or any other derogatory term that indicates someone doesn’t meet the impossible standards that Hollywood— in it’s infinite wisdom— has set for how women should look. What I never expected to be discussing was how I have suddenly been subjected to some of this anonymous, random internet trolling (I believe a radio show known as The Kane Show refers to it as the 1% Effect: no matter how positive a story, there’s 1% of the population that will still find something negative to say.)

 When the story of my journey was published on CNN’s website and then, subsequently, around the world, I never dreamed that I would be reading negative comments about me. What I’ve come to realize through this entire ordeal is that I am a much stronger person than I could have imagined. Reading what these reckless drivers are saying actually amuses me and spurs me on to continue to succeed. People who say I will gain all my weight back in a year because diets don’t work or those who think it’s so easy to lose 150+ pounds and they don’t understand why it took me 2 1/2 years. Really? While I would really like to address each and every naysayer, I realized...who cares what they think? They are just sitting at their keyboards, hating their own lives hoping to lash out at any success that they see in hopes of derailing, or emotionally stunting, the ones who have had the success. Well, guess what? It’s not gonna work! Much like keeping a weary eye on the driver who is weaving in and out of traffic, with little regard to his own safety or that of the other drivers on the road around him, I will have to learn to be vigilant, keep my eyes wide open and stay alert and shake it off. I never, in a million years, thought I would understand where Taylor Swift was coming from!

Who knows if there will be more spotlights shining on me in the future. If there are, then that means more detractors. As long as I learn my lesson now, I should be able to navigate the crazy drivers that are sure to be on the road ahead and make sure that I stay clear of any collisions that they may cause.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Maintaining Control of Your Vehicle

Over the years, one thing I've learned about driving is that you have to maintain control of your vehicle. Whether it’s staying (relatively) within the speed limit, not texting and driving or keeping it on the road and between the lines, it makes for a much safer journey when you have everything under control. And just as I had to learn my road lessons through repetition and experience, I am learning that maintaining control of my physical vehicle is going to take patience and time.

It would be wonderful if I could just get up every day and not have to think about what I’m doing to maintain my healthy lifestyle, but that’s not the case. I certainly don’t want anyone reading this to think that any part of this experience has been easy. Getting started was tough, losing the weight was difficult and maintaining has certainly given me moments where I felt I could lose control. But, I've also learned that I am the one who has to remain in the driver’s seat, as being a passenger, by it’s very definition, means I would be surrendering the control.

The biggest lesson in this experience is that life will present us with challenges at every opportunity and we have to face them, like staring down a fire-breathing dragon. Sometimes we have to run and hide from the dragon and sometimes we win the battle, but it’s important to come back ready to fight after those times where we don’t win.  As long as you are the one in control of getting back in the fight, you will always come out on top.

People often ask me how I deal with the “food-pushers” or the “saboteurs”. This is how I do it...knowing that I have to be the one who maintains control of my vehicle. If I were to allow others to take over, I would be at their mercy and there is no telling where I’d end up. Remember, this is your journey. Why would you allow someone else to be in control of it?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

An Open Road

So many things have happened over the last week, that there are no words!

Since the CNN Article was published, my life has been a near constant blur. But, I wouldn't change it for the world! I started my journey to be healthy and this blog to give me an outlet to talk about the pit stops as well as the green lights along the way. The interest that everyone is taking in my story is incredible, overwhelming and encouraging. I was even given the opportunity to talk with about my life changing experience (you can find a link to the interview HERE).

The road is wide open for me and I am trying to soak it all in. I also want to thank everyone who has been reading the blog all along and welcome those of you who may have just found it. I am excited to continue my Road Trip and can't wait to see where the journey takes me!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Making Sure to Refuel Along the Way

First, I know, I’s been a while. Maybe I've been "Broken Down on the Side of the Road" or took too much time "Hanging at a Rest Stop". Either way, I know I have neglected the Road Trip and, for that, I apologize. I've realized that I really have to consider an oil change or tire rotation, something that’s maintenance, but will keep my car safely on the road. So, what have I been doing lately? Well, believe it or not, while I may not have been putting it in words, I've been living the road trip and working on maintenance. And I was reminded of that fact just this weekend, when I was asked to speak at two different Weight Watchers meetings. It was a little nerve-wracking. After all, I do have speech anxiety, but I’m working on that!
Anyway, as I was saying, not only did I have the privilege of speaking to my friends at my normal WW group, but I was also asked to make a guest appearance at another meeting. The nerve-wracking part isn't thinking about what I’m going to say, that just kinda comes naturally. It’s when I stop and think about the hope and dreams that people place in me, real or imagined, that makes me nervous. But when I sit and think about it, I realize that I’m just human and I’m just me and that’s what draws people to me when I do these things. They see in me someone who has succeeded in a long and difficult journey. They see hope and they see that there are people who can make this program work. It’s not just about some celebrity on a TV commercial, I’m a real person standing in front of them. And it’s overwhelming. What people don’t understand is that when I speak to them, whether one on one or as a group, it’s like pulling up to a gas station. I get more fuel to continue my journey. So, while I am grateful if people are inspired by me, I am even more grateful and motivated by the fact that they continue to inspire me.

As I've always maintained, this journey was never about being skinny or pretty or hot, it's always been about being healthy, Knowing that society still puts too much emphasis on being young, thin and emaciated, just proves that I must remember that society and real life are two very different worlds. What is truly important is blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, reduction of expensive medications and the ability to walk to your mail box with out being out of breath. Who cares what size clothes you wear and who says that thin is in? Make your own road and take as long as you need to get there with as many stops as you desire. Gas, food, stretching or even sleeping. It’s your journey...don’t let anyone be a back seat driver, but make sure you keep plenty of supporting passengers along for the ride.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Starting Again is Not the Same Starting Over

Have you ever driven somewhere so many times that you could do it with your eyes closed? Well, maybe not closed, but you know what I mean. Have you ever found yourself at a destination with no real memory of actually making the drive? Not because your memory was impaired, but because the route was so intimately familiar that you didn't have to think about it, you just went through the motions, and – voilĂ  – destination reached!

Believe it or not, I just had that experience on an eight-hour ride! You wouldn't think that a trip that long could go by in a blur, but it did. Not that I wasn't paying attention, I was, but the time just seemed to fly by (of course, time is doing that a lot lately). Anyway, what I realized as I was making my trek northward, is that sometimes you have to go back to the beginning of your road trip to find the raison d'ĂȘtre- rediscover that spark, if you will- to discover why you are even on the journey at all.

You see, ever since I hit my goal, I've been struggling with the mental transition from losing to staying. After two and a half years of losing weight, I still feel bad if I maintain. But that’s the point of hitting “goal”…maintaining. So, as I started out of my driveway, it dawned on me that this is my first road trip since hitting the magic number. And even though the literal drive would be the same, I had the opportunity to view the figurative one through different eyes.

So, I've always said that my “road trip” would never end, I would just keep changing destinations, but I think now I've realized that the destination will always be the same, but the course I choose to get there will actually be different. While losing weight, I needed to focus on reaching the small milestones along the way (and Weight Watchers is fabulous at helping people celebrate those small, but significant, achievements). Upon hitting my goal, I needed to take a few steps back, look at how far I've come and then get back in the car and do it all again. And as with all road trips, just when you think you can’t take it anymore, can’t be in the car for one more second, you realize you are right where you are supposed to be at that moment in time. For some reason, that realization allows you to keep focus on the task at hand and helps with the overwhelming sensation that the road is too long, the journey too difficult. Once you realize how much you have given of yourself to be at that point, it should put everything in perspective ­– nothing is as long and difficult as what is already behind you.

So, what I discovered on my literal road trip, is that I shouldn't dread what’s ahead of me, it will be over before I know it and I should just enjoy the drive, scenery, music and everything that comes with the ride along the way. No fretting, I've done it before, and I know I will do it again, I just have to keep learning something new with every trip so that I don’t get bored. Staying the course is not an option, only changing it along the way will keep me challenged.