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 – voilà – 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'être- 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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dangerous Curves Shouldn't Only Apply To Roads

OK, I get it, it’s been a minute since I have posted anything. Many of you may have thought I’d abandoned this road trip since I hit my goal. Well, rest assured, I haven’t. Getting to my goal was only the first part of my journey. I will be on this excursion for the rest of my life, and I look forward to the adventure that awaits me.

So, now that I have the reassurances out of the way that I am still alive and well, I wanted to get on with the bur under my saddle– the nail in my tire, so to speak– that inspired a soap-box moment on Facebook last night: the media still doesn't understand women and the struggle we all go through in order to feel accepted by our peers and by society. And really, now that we are generations removed from the Marilyn Monroe/Jean Harlow glory days where real women had curves and looked like women instead of 13 year old boys, why should I expect that the media would be accepting of a woman who breaks the mold. You know, the mold of someone who only drinks water (but not too much, for fear of retaining it), might eat a celery stick and smokes plenty of cigarettes to keep her mind off of starving herself. The kind of girl who presents a completely unnatural, impossible ideal of what is expected of women. While I don’t have any real statistics, I could guess that only about 3% of American women fit the media’s perception of what the perfect woman is: 0% body fat, 5’10” (or taller), around 100 lbs. Who knows, maybe that percentage is a little high, maybe it’s way off, but what I can tell you is that probably 95% of that 3% live in Hollywood, the other 5% are probably in an eating-disorder clinic.

What, you may be asking yourself, brought on this rant? Well, I’ll tell you…it was an interview I saw with Miss Indiana. She made quite the splash at the recent Miss USA pageant because, according to media outlets, she has a “normal” body type. Normal…let that sink in for a minute. So, does that mean there is, on some level, an understanding that the other girls in the competition aren't normal? Let’s consider a few things here:

  • She may be normal and a hit on social media, but her Bikini Scores weren't high enough to allow her to move into the Top 10 finalists (judges message: she’s too fat)
  • She’s 5’8”, weighs 137 lbs. and is a size 4 (really, that’s normal?)
  • She is, on average, 25 pounds heavier than the other girls in the competition

What is the message we are sending the young girls sitting in front of the TV watching this spectacle? Well, it seems to be “if you are a size 4, you are too fat to win a beauty pageant.” I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that a size 4 is “normal”.

I mentioned Marilyn and Jean earlier, and I must go back and elaborate on them for a minute. Back in the day, they were considered “Blonde Bombshells” with curves that went on for days! When you looked at them, you couldn't count their ribs or you didn't fear that they might fall over from exhaustion, dehydration or starvation with their next step. No, they were real women and they looked like women. And what’s really amazing is, even today, if you have a picture of a Victoria’s Secret Angel next to the iconic picture of Marilyn in the white dress over the street vent and you show them to a random selection of men, guess which one they will choose? But put the same two pictures in front of women and ask them which one they would prefer to emulate, and I bet the results would be disappointing, yet not shocking.

But, my final realization in all of this is that it doesn't matter what you weigh, what size you are as long as you are healthy. Happy is a side-effect of healthy and if you can be healthy at 5’8” and 137 lbs., go for it. If you can be healthy and happy at 5’6” and 160, go for it. But don’t let society dictate what is “normal” because then the world would be a very boring place. So be abnormal and live your own life, that’ll teach’em!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Getting There

Do you know that feeling, after a long road trip, of being so close to the end of your journey that your brain goes into auto-pilot? Where you know every little nuance of the road your travelling, every pot hole, every stop sign, every car parked in the street. And then, just when you thought you were going to be able to sail through to the end, one of those pot holes has turned into a sink hole and there is a big detour sign sending you out of the way. So now, you've been on this road trip and you can see your destination, but you have to take one last detour to get around one last obstruction.
Well, that’s what happened to me trying to hit my WW goal. I was so close to reaching my target number last week, but it just wasn't in the cards. I was .4 pounds (that’s 4/10 of one pound, less than half a pound) away from it last week. But it might as well have been a sink hole in the middle of my road. However, since I've learned a thing or two on this ride, I kept my head held high, continued doing what’s gotten me this far and took that extra little time— that little detour— and I made it to my destination this week! I've lost 150 pounds in almost 2 1/2 years and it has been the most incredible journey of my life.
I really thought I wouldn't be overcome with emotion when I hit that goal. I figured since I've been pretty honest and open about my “road trip”, that it wouldn't require much self-reflection. Boy, was I wrong! I was emotional, everyone in the group was super excited for me and my Dad made a special guest appearance at the meeting yesterday, all which added up to a pretty emotional moment!! That group, led by Margie, has played (and will continue to play) a huge role in my success. I couldn't have done it without them. My friends and family were also instrumental in keeping me on the path. They were the best Road Trip Buddies anyone could ask for! A huge “Thank You” to everyone who has been riding in the car with me all along and helping me stay focused on the road.
If you think this is the end of my blog and my stories, you are wrong. This is only the beginning! With every road trip, there’s always the return home! I think that journey will be just as inspiring as the one that brought me here. So, I hope that anyone who has tuned in over the last year or so, will continue to do so. I know that I have inspired others, and to those of you, I say “thank you”! My one best piece of advice is to believe in yourself. No matter what you are looking to accomplish, start with the belief that you will succeed. As I've said on here before, if it’s easy, it’s not worth doing; if it’s worth doing, it’s not easy.

Cheers and here’s to the start of another long, successful journey!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Driving a Convertible

So, now that I am less than a mile from my destination, it's just dawned on me that I am driving a convertible now. While I may have started in an armored tank with no windows, I am now in a top-down, wind-in-my-hair convertible. So, in the beginning, I was closed up to the world and not willing to talk about me or my situation. Now, however, people approach me all the time and ask questions and want to talk to me about the success I have had over the last 2+ years. What is even more surprising is my willingness to answer the questions and the excitement that I feel when I discuss my journey. Just yesterday, I was interviewed by a local news station so that I could tell my story and help encourage others to start their own journey. It is amazing to think that I have not only physically transformed, but have emotionally transformed as well.
The thing about changing from a tank to convertible during the road trip is significant because proves just how far I have come in this trek. It's not about a flashing neon sign that says "look at me, look at how wonderful I am", but rather "look at what I have accomplished. If I can do it, so can you." If sharing my story entertains, encourages or otherwise enlightens someone, than I will consider my mission a success. I started losing weight to be healthy and now I do what I do because it's fun (yes, Bonnie and April, aliens have indeed snatched me from above). I started this blog because I needed an outlet for the emotions I was feeling, now I do it because it's fun.
Being in self-preservation mode—riding around in a tank—did keep people from peering in at me, but it also prevented me from looking out at the world. Now that I've got the top down and cruise control set to my destination, I am able to see the beauty that is out in the world. It's really a shame that I didn't allow myself the opportunity to take-in my surroundings, but it's never too late to start enjoying life. What good is it to be young if you aren't experiencing anything life truly has to offer? On the flip side, who cares how long you've been on this planet as long as you are enjoying every second you are alive?

As I mentioned, I am nearly at the end of this odyssey. Of course, with any long road trip, you eventually have to get off the expressway and on to the side roads. That not only signifies that you have to slow down, but it also means that you've almost made it. Me, I know that I've almost made it and I can't wait to get out and stretch my legs a bit. I also can't wait to see where my next adventure is going to take me.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Nothing Can Stop Me Now

You know when you get so close to your destination, that nothing will stand in your way? You need gas, but you have enough to get you there; you need to pee, but you can hold it; you need to rest, but you’re wide awake? Well, that’s where I am right now. I am so close to my goal, I can feel it. The end is in site. I have been talking about the end of this road trip since the beginning. I knew the day would come, but I find it hard to believe that day is in site. As much as I would like to speed ahead and get there faster, I know that I still have to maintain the speed limit. Nothing would suck more than to get pulled over  and delayed at this point in the journey. No, I have to keep doing what’s gotten me to this point— stay the course.
I have been on the road for so long that it just has become second nature. And really, when I think about it, I feel that’s why I've been successful. I didn't do anything crazy, I just lived. And for all of the living that I have done over the last 2+ years, there is no reason to change anything now. If I show up to the dance with the Prom King, why would I change partners at the last minute? I wouldn't, I would (and should) stay with the one who brought me to the Ball. This is the life I am living now. My old life is the past, and chances are good that I didn't have much of a future had I stayed on that path. Things are different now. I am different now. I just need to keep moving forward. I realize that theme has surfaced many times here, but it’s true. Why would I want to stay in one place, when the world around me continues to move? 

Sometimes, as I think about this journey, I’m reminded of going to my Grandparents’ house on Lake Lanier. GA 400 used to end at their exit (or was it that their exit was at the end of 400?) Whatever the case, I knew we were getting close to the exit because I saw the flashing caution signs. I knew that the road would be ending soon. But you know what? We got off 400 and went on another road. That’s what this road trip is about and what the future holds. The orange flashing lights are in site, but once I get there, I need to exit and get on another road. Who knows where that road will lead, but who cares? The future is a blank page, an unwritten book. It’s about damn time I sat down and put some words on that page!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Thinking Back, Looking Ahead

So, as I sit here thinking about what the future holds for me (for instance, hitting my goal in about 5 pounds), it dawned on me that I really should take a few minutes to reflect on how the journey has been, so far. The road sure wasn't easy, but as my new favorite saying goes: if it’s easy, it’s not worth it; if it’s worth it, it’s not easy. What I've discovered over the past 2 years is that just because something is difficult doesn't mean it’s not enjoyable. Really, wouldn't life be terribly boring if everything were simple? Where would the feeling of accomplishment be? Where would the feeling of victory be? Facing a difficult task and kicking it’s butt allows you to savor that victory even more.

When I started these road trips (both the WW program and this blog), I wasn't real sure how I was going to keep them interesting. For the program, how was I going to stick to it and be successful? For the blog, how was I going to keep coming up with new and fresh ideas to keep you, my faithful readers, entertained? Now, I have intertwined both legs of this journey into one, larger course. I stay on the plan because I want to keep writing witty and interesting blog posts and I find interesting and witty things to post because I’m successful with the plan. I like to think of it as a virtuous cycle, rather than a vicious one.

As I close in on my goal, I've got to work harder than I ever have in my life. What I have been doing has worked  so far, but I have to give just a little bit more of myself in order to find that higher gear. The end of this particular road trip is near, but that just means that I get to start another one, soon. I've never really given much thought— at least until 11 months ago, when I sat down to write my first entry— to the fact life really is a series of road trips. After you finish one, you start another. I wish I had realized that earlier, not that I have any regrets, I just think that I would have looked differently upon some life events. 

OK, back to that reflecting thing I mentioned earlier— it’s no secret that I've lost over 10 stone (yes, that’s British!), but this isn't just about what I've lost, it’s also about what I have gained. One thing that I have gained is knowing that I shouldn't stare into the rear-view mirror, just merely glance. The past is about learning from what you've lived and the future is about living from what you've learned.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Here's Your Sign

Everyone thinks that driving is easy, that it doesn't take much thought. In my opinion, it doesn't take much conscious thought, but it does require brain activity and since most of us have been driving since we were about 16, all of our actions are second nature. We sort-of go on auto-pilot when we get behind the wheel of the car. That can be a very dangerous way to drive. When you do that, you miss a lot of things along the way. Some of the things you could miss may seem unimportant, but I bet there are plenty of important street signs and landmarks that are missed on a daily, repetitive drive. It is important to pay attention to those street signs, especially when it’s a drive we could probably do with our eyes closed. As almost anyone who has ridden in a car with me will tell you, I have a habit, not necessarily a bad habit, but a habit none-the-less: I tend to read, aloud, street names. I don’t know why I do this, although I have noticed my Mom does it, so I can only imagine where this activity originated! It’s funny, I’ll be driving down the road, alone or with passengers, and if I pass a street name, I just say it out loud.
My point in sharing this random tidbit of information is that sometimes it is important to read those signs and know where you are. I think that often times, we are presented with signs that we ignore because we already know the path we are taking, so paying attention to the signs is probably a fruitless task. However, those signs can actually help us get back on the right track. For instance, before I started my journey, there were many signs my body was giving me to tell me that I was not healthy: I didn't want to know how much I weighed, I refused to look at myself in the mirror, I didn't want my picture taken, my knees hurt, my back hurt, I got winded after walking the shortest of distances, hmm, I could go on and on about all the signs I ignored, but I think you get the picture. There are probably some signs I missed altogether because I had blinders on and didn't feel the need to see anything other than what was in front of me.
Then the day came where I finally decided to take off the blinders and I realized that I should have been reading those street signs all along. Who cares if others think it’s a peculiar habit?  That little idiosyncrasy keeps me focused on the task at hand. It is important that we pay attention to the signs, because they not only tell us where we are, but if there is danger ahead. Would you really ignore a sign that said “Bridge out”? Probably not. So why ignore the signs of the Universe? Soak in your environment, pay attention to the journey and just make sure that you read the street signs aloud as you continue down the road.
I will share with you a cosmic sign that I received just yesterday— I was catching up on Dracula (I’m seriously behind on my TV watching right now!) and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’ Dracula (or Alexander Grayson, as he is also known) said to a young ingénue: When it comes to dreams, one may falter, but the only way to fail is to abandon them.” Now, normally I would halfheartedly acknowledge the quote and move on. However, on the same day, Weight Watchers had posted a Confucius quote: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” So, in the words of Bill’s your sign! Now, it’s up to you as to whether or not you will heed it!