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.

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!