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 ingĂ©nue: 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!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Obey the Rules of the Road

The other night, I was catching up on one of my favorite TV Shows —Elementary— and Jonny Lee Miller’s “Sherlock” said something in regards to his own recovery from drug addiction that really hit close to home: It’s all about structure- recognizing what is working and sticking with it. And it was like a light came on, Angels started singing and I had a “d-oh” moment all rolled into one. Structure is foundation. I know, I told you it was a “d-oh” moment! I've really been thinking a lot about the meaning of today, not only because I need to give thanks to those who inspire me, but also because I have to make sure to maintain my structure. I have to think about what has worked over the last two years, make sure that I continue strengthening my foundation and not fall back into old habits. Now, that’s not to say that I can’t enjoy my self...believe me, I've got some “Santa’s White Christmas” ice cream with my name all over it! But, I have learned that there are more important things to life than eating just to eat.
Eating nourishes my body so that I can go outside to walk and enjoy the gift of another sunrise, eating nourishes my mind so that I can sit at my computer and come up with insightful, sometimes snarky, but (hopefully) always entertaining snippets of my journey. On the other hand, eating doesn't mean that I gorge myself on carbs and sugar because I've nothing better to do, eating isn't the sole focus of my existence, which is tough to admit on a day seems to be all about food and just how much of it you can eat. Structure helps me keep my eyes on the road and avoid (or at least navigate with a certain deftness) the potholes that are along the way.
Think about this the next time you are in a car. Why do you use a blinker? Why do you drive (close to) the speed limit? Why do you wear your seat-belt? Why do you drive on the right side of the road (here in the States)? Because those are the rules of the road. You know that if you want to safely arrive at your destination, you must follow the rules. Now, I understand that not everyone plays by the rules, but I bet those people follow more rules than they realize. Why? Because life is structured. If a building doesn't have the right structure, it falls. If a person doesn't have the right structure, he’ll fall too.
Just remember, you will be challenged when your structure is disrupted. Challenges don’t have to be huge, sweeping changes, they can be minor tweaks that take you out of your comfort zone. Think about going to Great Britain and driving over there. The concept is the same, but the rules are different. It doesn't mean it’s harder or easier, it just means your structure and your thought process will have to be different. Adjusting to the new rules will help you continue to succeed, not adjusting will probably land you in trouble. The best thing you can do for yourself is obey the rules of the road, no matter where the road takes you. Just don’t let yourself get stagnate, because stagnate is boring.

So, on this Thanksgiving morning, I want to say that I am grateful to all of you who have been reading and following along on my Road Trip! Thank you for letting me tell my story! And thank you to my friends and family for being in my life and keeping me entertained while I am on my Road Trip!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Keep Moving Forward to Get Where You're Going

I’ve never driven a big rig, so what I’m about to say is going to be pure speculation. I would think that if you are on the road for endless hours in a day, endless days in a week and endless weeks in a month that eventually, you would start to see and hear things that aren’t there. If there are any truck drivers out there to confirm, or clarify, my suspicions, I welcome the correction. The reason I bring this up is because after being on this road trip for over two years now, there are times when I question my sanity and if I am doing the right thing. Then, something really cool happens: a phone call out of the blue to congratulate me on my success, a perfect stranger hearing about my journey and asking me questions, or— and this is truly telling of how far I have come— my new-found desire to reach out to others who are trying to start their own journey. There was a time where I could barely speak to small groups of people, now I am more outgoing and willing to share my story. I don’t generally like to talk about myself, but I’ve found that people are curious, fascinated even, by what I have to say.

When I was overweight, I hid behind my inability (or rather, lack of desire) to lose weight by saying that “tall or short, fat or thin, blonde or brunette, I’m the same person. If people don’t like me, it’s their problem, not mine.” And to a certain extent, that is a true statement and still holds water. However, what I have discovered about me is that even though I still have blonde hair and blue eyes, I’m still the same height as I was before, I am not the same person. And it doesn’t really have to do with being fat or being healthy (I don’t like the word thin because A) I’m not and B) it’s not an accurate description of a human body. Air is thin, fabric is thin, paper is thin, hair is thin...people are not!), but rather it has to do with being comfortable in my own skin. I just have a better quality of life all the way around and it is due to a healthier lifestyle, not just losing weight. Yes, it sucks that we are a country obsessed with skinny celebrities, but skinny can be as unhealthy as fat (I know, I shouldn’t use the “F” word! Margie the Magnificent would probably scold me.) I can’t wait for the day in America where “healthy” is the look of choice for cover girls and runway models rather than grown women masquerading as 8-year old boys. 

So, yes, I often times wonder if being on this road trip has made me see and hear things, twisted my train of thought. But then I realize that what has really happened is that my reality has changed and my view of the world is different. Long road trips will do that to you and you really only have two choices: hold on and adjust to the curves in the road or stop the car and wait for things to calm down. Me, I’ll hold on for the ride, it’s much more interesting than sitting on the side watching other people pass you by. 

Don’t let life suck the life out of you, keep moving forward or you’ll never get to the end.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I'm Worth It

I was talking with someone the other day and I was telling him about my journey. During our conversation, I had to go back to the very beginning. I hadn’t really thought about that day in a long while. The day of sitting out by the water, the day of scarfing down a huge hamburger and fries and a beer or two. That day was sunny— September in Florida, you can’t beat it— and I think the pelicans and seagulls were craving the fries as much as I was. I still remember how the mood instantly changed. We had all been joking and kidding, probably about the fry eating birds, and then in the blink of an eye, the conversation turned serious.  

As I said in “Starting the Journey”, my family was concerned for my health and my well being. In fact, they were so concerned that they were willing to pay the extortion fees that are required if one chooses to have gastric by-pass surgery. That they were making me this offer was both shocking and eye-opening. But the thought that permeated my brain was this: I’m not worth it. I’m not worth the one zillion dollars (ok, it’s not that much, but it might as well have been) they were willing to sacrifice for me. Now, I’m sure in their eyes, I would have been worth one zillion and one dollars, but I didn’t feel I was worthy or deserving of their offer. So, I turned them down. I told them that if change was going to happen, I wasn’t going to take the surgery route, I had to do the hard work on my own.

So now, if you fast forward the journey just a bit, two years to be exact, I’ve learned a lot. A lot about what I can do, a lot about who I am and a lot about who I used to be. But, by far, the most important thing I’ve learned is that on that beautiful September day, at the restaurant on the water, I was wrong. I am worth it. I’m not saying that I’m worth a zillion dollars (I mean, really, c’mon...I’m worth at least twice that!) No, what I’m saying is that I am worth the love, the concern, the care and the fear that my family went through in order to have the heart to heart conversation that they had with me that day. It changed my life. Hell, it saved my life!

So, I guess you are asking yourself how this fits into my “Road Trip”. Well, actually this reminds me of a little pull-off on along 515 between Jasper and Ellijay in North’s just a little ramp along the side of the road for people to stop and get out of their cars in order to really appreciate the beautiful mountain scenery that surrounds them. For me, this scenic view pull-off is to allow me the opportunity to thank those who have encouraged and inspired me along the way. I wouldn’t be who I am if it weren’t for those who surround me. I may not have taken the offer, but I still can never repay them for what they've given to me.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Running Out of Gas Doesn't Mean the End of Your Journey

Early on, I wrote about being sidelined on your road trip in the post Broken Down on the Side of the Road. And, while there are many things that can (and will) derail your expedition for an extended amount of time, there are also some minor bumps in the road that will probably arise. I’m sure it’s not as common as it once was, but running out of gas is a real possibility when you drive for any length of time. With all the new technology in cars, it’s a little easier to keep up with how much gas you have remaining, but people still find ways to run out, trust me. I mean, haven’t you ever seen those poor souls walking along the side of the road with their little red gas cans? I know I have. 

I’ve discovered that running low— or out— of gas can happen in my figurative journey, as well. Just this past week, I celebrated my two year anniversary in WW. Now I can tell you for a fact that, over the course of those two years, there were many times where I either ran completely out of gas or was simply running on fumes. So I did what anyone else would have when the gauge approached “E”...I stopped to refuel. You can’t just keep driving full speed ahead and not expect to run down along the way. It’s best to stop every so often, get out of the car and stretch your legs. If you don’t do that, you may find yourself more permanently sidelined. Once fatigue sets in, that’s when accidents happen. If I let my mind wander, I stop paying attention to what I’m doing and that’s when I mess up. But, stopping to refuel gives me the opportunity to make sure my vehicle has what it needs to continue on, and so do I. 

I also think about when I’m driving to Atlanta, I always race against myself. If it takes me 9 hours and 15 minutes one time, the next, I would really like to make around 9 hours. Now, of course, all traffic laws must be obeyed, but I know that those few extra little stops along the way actually work in my favor. The extra strong coffee from Starbucks or the cold water splash on my face at the Florida-Georgia Line all help me achieve that goal of beating my previous time. I can hear your skepticism now, “how does more stops equate to a better travel time?” It’s simple, doing little things along the way to keep you moving forward and also reduces down-time if you require longer stops to combat your fatigue. 

Everything about this journey is about continuing to move forward, and sometimes we do have to move sideways or even backwards to keep going in the right direction. So don’t let yourself run out of gas. Keep one eye on the gauge and the other on the road ahead of you. When you feel it’s time to stop and gas up, don’t talk yourself out of it. Nobody can carry on a crazy, super-human pace without the proper amount—and type—of fuel.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Make Sure You Take Care of Your Vehicle

If you own a car, you know that in order for it to continue to run properly, you have to keep up with maintenance and service. In other words, if you expect the car to get you from Point A to Point B in reliable fashion, you must keep up with the oil changes, tire rotations and even car washes. The obvious comparison to my journey isn’t much different: since the vehicle for my road trip is my body, I have to make sure that it is in working order so that I make it to my destination. 
I look at starting the WW plan as the beginning, sort of like test driving a car before deciding to purchase it. But then, as I got more involved with the program, I realized that I had to step up my game to stay on course, much like taking a car in for an oil change. Then I started doing other things that helped take my journey to the next level. Things like weight training, kick boxing, even occasionally doing some interval jogging on the treadmill. All part of the maintenance of my vehicle. 

But it wasn’t just the big decisions that have had an impact my success. The small, seemingly innocuous decisions have also added up to positive results. Deciding to write this blog, buying an ActiveLink (or any other type of activity monitor) and of course, the purchase of the treadmill are all little choices that I made to improve the road trip; however, had I chosen to not make any of those decisions, my journey would have still been successful, but probably just a tad boring. I look at these ancillary choices like getting my car washed — I can still get where I want to go in a dirty car, but it makes the trip more fun to be driving down the road in a clean one. 

The important take-away here is to remember that you will be driving for a while and it makes sense to ensure that the car you are driving is fun, safe, reliable and will get you where you want to go. I mean, that’s why we are all on this journey, right? To make sure that the ride along the way is enjoyable? So, keep up with the little things and hopefully you start to notice that the journey does get easier as you get further down the road. Or, perhaps it’s not that it’s getting easier, maybe you are just getting stronger and are better equipped with your ability to handle the twists and turns of the open road.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Don't Text and Drive

We've all heard the PSAs and the news stories about the devastating statistics surrounding texting and driving. The reason why you shouldn't text while driving is simple: it’s distracting. If you are fumbling with your phone (texting or dialing or Tweeting or Facebooking) you are not paying attention to what you are doing. If you’re not careful, disaster could strike because of not focusing on the task at hand. I have found out that there are plenty of distractions that pop up on my personal road trip, as well.
Everyday, I am faced with distractions that jump out in front of me like a ball that was errantly thrown into the street. I know that I must keep my eyes on the road so that I can be prepared to maneuver around these obstacles that come out of nowhere. I like to control my environment so as to keep such distractions to a minimum, but life will— more often than not— get in the way, so I have to be ready. Now, that’s not to say that I walk around like a ninja ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey, but I do stay focused by asking myself this one question: “Is it worth it?” Most of the time, I know that the answer is no; however, there are times where the answer has been a resounding “yes!!” (Hmmm, could that be considered “texting at a red light”? Probably) But, as I have said so many times here, this journey that we are on, is supposed to be enjoyable. I understand that living life like a mouse trap always waiting to spring, but never knowing if or when you will break, doesn't sound like a lot of fun. It's certainly not the way I would want to live, so I have learned to manage my distractions.
Now, I know me, and if I were to go to a broccoli factory and they said “you can eat until your satisfied”, I’m pretty sure I'd just turn around and walk away. Now, an all-you-can-eat chocolate/coconut/macaroon facility? Now we’re talking! But here’s the thing, if I stay focused on my destination, I don't let anything distract me from reaching that destination and I walk in there with all the self-control I can muster, I know that I will be able to keep my vehicle under control and allow myself the opportunity to splurge. The bonus is that since nothing is off limits with the WW plan, it's not really cheating!

Wait, what was my point? Once I started thinking about a macaroon factory, I got distracted from what I was trying to say. Ironically, I believe I just made my point. Don't let silly little things derail what you have worked so hard to accomplish. You are on this journey for a reason and have an important goal that you are trying to reach, so don't take your eyes off the road, not even for a second, because it could be disastrous for your road trip.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Picking Up Hitchhikers

I realize that, in the real world, it is never a good idea to pick up strangers along the side of the road and drive them to their destination. I mean really, we all know how that movie ends! However, sometimes in your own private road trip, it may be necessary to stop and let others in your car. As I’ve mentioned before (in Road Trip Buddies), it is important that you share your journey; however, it may often prove necessary for you to stop your car and offer to help someone get back on the road. Many times this “someone” will be part of your own inner-circle, so while it’s not technically picking up a hitchhiker, it does qualify as helping someone who is stranded get from point A to point B. 

While others may be excited for you during your successful journey, it still may be hard for them to willingly acknowledge that they are really ready for their own road trip.  So, it is extremely important that you understand whether your buddies want to come along for the ride or are still trying to map out their route. After all, if they aren’t willing passengers, it could make both your journeys a little less enjoyable, because you may end up fighting over silly things like the radio station, the temperature or even what games to play along the way! Also, you will want to be cognizant of the fact that sooner or later, your passengers may want to get out of your car and get into their own. Let them, that is the only way they will be able to celebrate when they get to their own destination.  

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this journey is supposed to be fun! Whether you are by yourself, with a few close friends or a group of people you picked up along the way, have fun with it. Life is too short to sit on the sidelines and watch others accomplish their goals, wishing you could do the same. Treat life like a pool— jump in, splash around and play until you get wrinkled, then play some more.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Putting the Pedal to the Metal

I think the phrase “put the pedal to the metal” is a clichĂ© expression from a bygone era. I bet anyone born after 1995 couldn’t tell you where this little idiom originated. Well, cars used to have metal floor boards and, to go as fast as possible, you would press the gas pedal all the way to the floor in hopes of out-running whatever was chasing you! (I just conjured up an image of Smokey and the Bandit, didn’t I?) Anyway, I can see all the head-scratching going on right now, as you sit there wondering why it is that I am resurrecting the origins of some random phrase. Well, trust me Road Trippers, there is a reason, have I ever led you astray? 

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a Twitter Town Hall with one of the victors from last year’s WW Success Story contest. After hitting a minor bump, I needed reassurance that it is possible to make it to my final destination. Robin was very encouraging and gave me some awesome suggestions. The one I took most to heart was a suggestion to mix up my workout routine. I decided right then and there to do something I’d been avoiding…start a real, honest-to-goodness workout.  Walking has been extremely instrumental in getting me this far, but I had to do something…I had to put the pedal to the metal!  
I was talking with one of my friends about how I could spice up my exercise life, and she told me about a workout DVD that has 20 minute workout segments on it. Now, I have always been led to believe that a good, quality workout should last about 3-4 hours! OK, just kidding about that, but I figured it would have to be at least an hour to be worthwhile. Boy oh boy, was I wrong! The DVD in question happens to be put out by one of the instructors of that famous TV show where really heavy people compete in grueling challenges to lose a lot of weight (ok, you got me, I’m talking about The Biggest Loser). If ever there was a physical incarnation of “putting the pedal to the metal” this "shredded" workout is it! Now, I haven’t had a weigh-in yet to see how this will play out in my numbers, but after doing Level 1 of this workout religiously, every day for a week, I can tell a difference in how I feel. I may not see a change in the scale this week or nextand, let’s be honest, the scale doesn’t tell the whole story anyway– but I know that this will be turbo-boost I needed to add to my repertoire in order to get to my goal weight so that I can start the next phase of my journey: maintenance.  

So, when you reach a point along the way where you feel you are stalled, go ahead and put the pedal to the metal and find that one little thing, that one tiny change that kicks your motivation into high gear so that you can get back on the road!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Appreciate Just How Far You've Come

I know that in previous posts, I’ve mentioned that is a good idea to enjoy the scenery, take in the experiences along the way, listen to the music to keep distracted (or stay focused!) or any number of other suggestions so that the road trip continues to be worthwhile. Well, add this one to the list: appreciate just how far you’ve come in your journey.

I was talking with a friend the other day and we were discussing some of the more obvious physical changes that I have gone through. As an outsider, it is easier for her to see them than it is for me since I am so accustomed to my old appearance. Now, keep in mind that I have never been one to take compliments very well, and anybody who has known me longer than five minutes can attest to that, but it dawned on me, as our conversation continued, that I really needed to take a step back and realize just how far I have come. But here's where things get tricky— there is a fine line between appreciating hard work and bragging in order to boost your own ego! I believe that if you have worked hard for something (a college degree, a new home, a transformed body, etc.), you should take time to appreciate your accomplishment. It’s OK to take pride in reaching your goals because you just might inspire others to evaluate their lives and head on out on their very own road trip.

So, in thinking about where I am, where I want to be and what I plan to do once I get to my destination, it is imperative that I must also think about where I started. Knowing how far you’ve travelled is as important as knowing how far you’ve yet to go, and being able to actually appreciate those miles is more important than anything.  It’s kind of funny, because once again, I am reminded of  part of another one of Robert Frost's works of art, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”:
“But I have promises to keep,  
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
I have made promises to my mind, to my body, to my family, to my friends, to my WW leader and group, to my blog readers and I have even made promises to people whom I have never met. So, yes, while I still I have miles to go and promises to keep, I must also remember to appreciate every last second of this journey before I sleep!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Quick Detour

I am going to take a little detour today! The following is something that I wrote as an entry into a contest sponsored by WW. I thought it fit pretty well in my own little "Road Trip" theme as well, so here it is. I hope you enjoy!

In October 2011, after almost 40 years of living in denial, I finally came face to face with reality.  After my family expressed their concern about my weight and health, I decided it was time to start Weight Watchers. That first weigh-in was a slap in the face, or a wake-up call, depending upon how you look at it: 311.6 pounds! How did this happen? How did I get to this point? It was then that I started my life-altering and, more importantly, life-saving “Road Trip.” I refer to it as a road trip because there are uphill moments and downhill moments, smooth sailing and traffic jams, but once I reach my goal, I will be able to stretch my legs and enjoy life like I never have before!
At first, it was the little things I noticed: swelling of my hands and feet had gone down, I was able to bend over and tie my shoes and I could walk to my mailbox without being out of breath (a distance of about 30’, I might add). As I hit my 10% goal, I noticed I could walk around the block without my back or feet hurting, my clothes started fitting better and I had more energy. Before I knew it, 50 pounds were gone, then 75. I couldn’t believe it when, 2 weeks after celebrating my one year anniversary with Weight Watchers, I hit the Century Mark! I had lost 100 pounds!
Now, here I am only 23 pounds away from my goal. Of course, I know the longest, toughest part of the journey is yet to come, but I have the support of my family, friends, my WW Group (led by Margie the Magnificent), and even people I’ve never met.  This journey has given me the courage to do things in life I had only dreamed. Having always wanted to be a writer, I decided to start blogging about my life-changing experience. It has been through sharing my personal experiences that many others have told me that I am their source of inspiration and encouragement. And like a Karmic Boomerang, the knowledge that I have inspired many others is the driving force keeping me on this path. Weight Watchers is not only something that I will be doing the rest of my life, but it is intrinsically who I am as a person!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Getting There is Not the End, but the Beginning

You know how, at the end of a long road trip, after you've finally made it to your destination, you tell yourself that you will never get in a car again? Then, maybe after you've had a short nap, you find yourself in the car going to dinner or out with the Girls or after a few days, you could be looking at the long drive home you have ahead of you.  In any case, you realize that you will forever be on a road trip, and that you will continually have destinations which you will always be attempting to reach.

I hadn't really given much thought to what happens when I finally reach my goal, and then the other day, Margie the Magnificent (my incredible WW leader) mentioned to me that the journey will not end once I get to “Canton”, but it will merely shift. Shift to maintaining rather than losing, shift to living rather than struggling, shift to being self-confident rather than self-conscious. 

As I have often said in the posts here, the “Road Trip” is symbolic for the journey through life. Now I see that life is not one big road trip, but rather like a series of road trips along a perpetual winding road. So, when this journey ends, another one will begin. Another thing I may have mentioned— a time or two— is that Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” has always inspired me, both as a writer and as a person, and that has made all the difference in this adventure. Many times in life, there will be the option to choose one of two roads. And while there may not necessarily be a wrong choice, there is a right choice for the right time. Each choice will lead us to the next fork in the road, and so on. The journey never ends, the destination and purpose only changes. 

While I am not currently standing at the divergence of two roads, I’m sure there are some of you out there who are. Don’t fret about your choice, embrace it. If you land on a path that is not taking you where you want to go, then look for the next fork. If you aren't sure where you are on your path, get our your compass, map, GPS or phone a friend! That’s the beauty of not taking the road trip alone!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Are We There, Yet?

Ahh, the age old question, especially if you have little ones along for the ride! But it’s not just the kids who are anxiously awaiting the end of the road trip. I, too, am excited about the prospect of finally being able to get out of the car and stretch my legs.  But sometimes I have to question if I really need to keep going. I mean, I’m almost there, so why can’t I just be happy with almost making it? In the grand scheme of things, isn’t Woodstock the same as Canton? Well, no, it’s not. They may be in the same county, and I may be happy staying in Woodstock, but the very reason for driving to Georgia is to go to Canton so that I can hang out with my BFF. 

I am facing a similar dilemma in my weight loss journey. To date, I have lost 132.4 lbs, and only have 23.3 lbs to go until I hit my goal. I am fighting the urge to be satisfied with my current accomplishment.  But then I think, hmmm, I haven’t come this far to be merely satisfied, I have come this far to reach a goal. And while I can’t take anything away from what I have already achieved, I also can’t sit back and rest on my laurels and expect to not have some pangs of guilt or the feeling of unfinished business hanging in the air like a dense fog. So, I must resist the urge to stay where I am and get back on the road and make it to that goal that is off in the not too distant future.   

Something else that I have to realize is that while the drive from Woodstock to Canton may seem like a hop, skip and a jump, it is going to take me awhile to complete it. In fact, I’m pretty sure it feels like I actually abandoned the car and am now travelling by foot the rest of the way. Things have definitely slowed down, but they haven’t stopped. And as long as I continue to see forward progress, there is no reason to be satisfied with only making it “most of the way”. 

So, for those of you who have joined me on this journey, I ask that you help keep me focused and I will do the same for you. When we can finally answer “are we there, yet?” with" “yes!”, then we can celebrate with a pitcher of Margaritas!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tuning Out the Road Rage

As anyone who has ever driven a car knows, there can be some serious road raging drivers on the mean streets. I know I am guilty of a road rage temper tantrum or two (or three or four); however, I also know that it is really in my best interest if I just pay attention to what I am doing rather than listening to the angry shouts of my fellow road warriors. The weight-loss journey (or any of life’s journeys) is no exception. Lately, I have been letting other “bloggers”, whom I have never met (nor will I ever meet) cloud the view of my success. For instance, the story about the Oklahoma City cheerleader who was called “chunky” by some random ink slinger just got me all riled up. I know that it is not healthy (mentally or physically) to compare myself to others, but sometimes I just can’t help it! The way society has distorted and warped what is considered to be “beautiful” is not fair to anyone. As long as there are people out there with poison pens (or should I say cantankerous keyboards) directing their bile at unsuspecting targets, the distortion will only continue. I understand that there are health concerns associated with being overweight, but usually when “chubby” people are attacked publically it’s not by someone who is expressing concern for the health of the person, but rather it’s because the person doesn’t meet society’s idea of Hollywood aesthetics.
Back in the day when Marilyn Monroe was the standard by which women would measure themselves, life was indeed simpler. Social media, eating disorders and Sensa were not part of everyday life.  But, much like ignoring the vulgar ramblings of road ragers, I just have to keep my eye on the road and listen to my heart, music or the humming of my own engine rather than the negative voices out there trying to tear others down. I figure by writing about my experiences in a fun and light-hearted way, I can help people tune out the cynicism that permeates the blogosphere! 

I’m reminded of an anecdote about a frog: There were a bunch of frogs who were to race to the top of a mountain. The crowd that gathered to watch the frogs kept chanting that it couldn’t be done, it was too steep, too long and too hard for the frogs to complete. So, one by one, the frogs— listening to the crowd— began to drop out of the race. Except one. One lone frog kept hopping and hopping until finally he reached the top. The crowd couldn’t believe he made it to the top, they were all surprised because of the difficulty of the task. When they asked him how he did it, they realized he was deaf. It was this deafness that allowed him to keep going when all the other frogs had listened to the crowd and thrown in the towel. So, I have to be like the deaf frog: tune out the naysayers and keep on hopping! Really, isn’t that what we should all do? Even when the negative voice we hear the loudest is our own, we just have to keep on hopping!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Listening to Music Along the Way

I have found that for any trip in the car, whether it’s a mile up the road to the grocery store or 8 hours up the road to Atlanta, it is important to have good music. Music keeps me from getting bored. I know, who can get bored in a car when you are only driving a mile? The answer is this girl! So it is vitally important to me that I have a nice, eclectic variety of music: local radio (which, quite frankly, isn’t what it used to be…I do miss the days of JJ Jackson, Mark Bell and Randy & Spiff!), Satellite Radio and, of course, my own mixture from my MP3 player where I have anything from The Monkees and Mumford & Sons to Les Miz and Cats to Kid Rock and Eminem.

So, now that I have rambled on about my wide and varied musical tastes, you may be wondering what this has to do with my figurative road trip. Well, it’s simple: variety is the spice of life! The hardest part of making such a drastic change in my life is not getting bored with my food or exercise routine. As far as my food goes, it’s true that I do eat a lot of the same meals, but I make sure to fix the chicken/Boca Crumbles/salad/turkey etc. using different spices or cooking methods in order to give it a different flavor. Another thing– and this is a huge deal for me– I am trying different things. I have never been one to wander too far outside of my comfort zone when it comes to food, but I have found that I am open to a wider variety than I once was. I still have some weird food avoidance issues, but those will never go away.

While there are some minor challenges with food, it’s the exercise that often times makes me cringe! Since I don’t do anything too strenuous or difficult (boot camp, anyone?), I have to make sure that I stay interested in my routine. All I do is walk…on a treadmill or outside. I have found that I have to be in the right frame of mind to get on the treadmill. I would rather walk outside, in the sunshine and fresh air, but sometimes, I have to get on that blasted treadmill. When I do, I am thankful for Hulu and Grimm. I have noticed that much like my meals, my walking patterns are very predictable. So far, however, it’s not been an issue for me. I keep my trusty MP3 player handy and fully loaded with music.  While my food tastes are slowly opening up, my musical tastes are also expanding. With my new found love of BBC Radio 1, I have been introduced to new music from across the pond. And since BBC R1 doesn’t have the same affliction as most Pop/Current American stations (playing the same 5 songs OVER and OVER, ad nauseam), I don’t out grow the music quite as quick (side bar: if I NEVER hear Taylor Swift again, it will be too soon! Just sayin’).

So, in order to stay on the road and get to where I’m going, it’s best if I can mix up my on the road entertainment a little. When I get bored, I tend to veer off course, and while it doesn’t bring me to a complete dead end, it does make the trip just a little bit longer. But that’s OK, too. I have the rest of my life to finish my journey.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Driving While Impaired

First, let me say that I do not condone driving a vehicle while impaired in any manner (alcohol, drugs, fatigue, texting, etc.), but I know that people do it, even if it is against the law. I think that there is a tendency to drive impaired on the figurative road trip as well. I know there are days that I am tired of exercising or eating healthy or passing up the scrumptious double chocolate something-or-other recipe that someone posted on Facebook. There are days–mostly on Saturdays in the Autumn, “Go Dawgs”– when I just wanna sit on my couch and drink beer. And you know what, why not? I’m not driving anywhere. The thing is, just like on the real life road, if you are going to imbibe, then don’t get in the car! If you need to sleep, don’t drive; if you need to text, don’t drive; if you need to drink, don’t drive. If you want to take a break from your rigorous routine, then do it, but just get back on the road after your break is over. All too often, people decide to take a quick break from working out or eating healthy and then they never go back. That’s when things go awry. If I thought of this journey as having been on a diet all this time, chances are, I would have given up a long time ago. I had to make the connection, in my head, that this is a life style now. And if I want to have something that may not be “healthy”, then I have to make sacrifices along the way: more exercise or fruits and veggies as a meal so that I consume food but not points, where there’s a will, I’ll find a way!

So, just because you want to have fun, doesn’t mean your progress is permanently halted, it just means that you have either pulled off to the side of the road to take a nap or you are letting your DD drive for a while.  The key is to make sure and eventually take back control.  I feel like in every post I say how important it is to “get back on the road” and I don’t want to be repetitive, but, I have to keep telling myself that it’s not the destination that is important, it’s the journey. If I keep repeating this mantra, I know I’ll believe it one day!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Road is Long, but the Journey is Worth It

Have you ever looked at something and said “this is going to be difficult”? Have you ever let the potential difficulty stop you? Why?

I knew when I started this expedition, that the road was going to be long and not so easy. But what I am finding out, is that while it may be arduous, it is also the best journey I have ever taken. It has been my experience that the things you have to work hardest for in life are the ones that come with the sweetest rewards. I read a quote the other day that was posted by the owner of Thrive Weight Loss (who also happens to be engaged to my childhood BFF) that said “I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, I’m saying it’s going to be worth it.” And it struck me like a bolt of lightening! Maybe your it is a weight loss journey or possibly a job promotion that offers the chance to relocate, or maybe your it is simply living a healthy, happy life.  The harder and longer the road is to your destination, the more you will be able to celebrate and revel in your accomplishment.

So, where ever you are on your own personal Road Trip, don’t think about how far you have to go, think about how wonderful it will be once you arrive, because nothing worth it is ever easy and nothing easy is ever worth it!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Getting the Map Out Again

I have been very careful to try and not be redundant with these posts, but I feel that there is one route that I have to revisit and reiterate. In “Getting Lost”, I mentioned that the most common question I get asked is “what is different this time?” In the months since I wrote that original post, I have been asked that question numerous more times. I have decided that I better come up with an answer besides “I don’t know, it just is”…that response just doesn’t cut it as any type of inspirational sound bite.
I still maintain that motivation and inspiration must come from within and that success is easier to maintain once you decide to follow your own road map. However, if there are outside factors that help create an interest for you to start your own journey, then I am only happy to be that starting point. So, back to the question: “What is different and how do you keep going?” OK, so maybe that’s technically two questions!

What is different? Well, initially, when “The Intervention” occurred, I wanted to lose weight because I knew I wasn’t healthy and, of course, the looming prospect of hitting the big four-oh. As the pounds came off, I started feeling better and people started noticing subtle changes in my personality and my appearance. Now, I am not a vain person, but the complements I started receiving did serve as motivation to keep me on the road. But it wasn’t just the external comments that kept me moving forward, it was also the physical transformation and the fact that I just started feeling better! It was all just a snowball effect of epic proportions. Feeling better made me want to keep going and the fact that I kept going made me feel better!

How do I keep going? Well I think the most important piece of advice that I can impart here is to not look at the whole eight hour road trip at once! I have never thought about the fact that I needed to lose 150 lbs., I’ve approached it as little 25 lb. increments. This is where I would normally use the “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” adage, but since this is a weight-loss blog, I think I will shy away from the over-eating references! When you look at the big picture, you miss a lot of the fine details. As humans, we like to achieve goals as a mark of success. So, by starting small, setting little goals that are achievable, you will feel successful right out of the gate. Once you hit that goal, set a new one that stretches you out of your comfort zone. When you hit that one, find a way to celebrate and then set another new goal. I think you see where I am going with this.

Something that I think is important to note is that the changes I made were slow, which allowed my body to adjust accordingly. If I had immediately cut my food intake in half and doubled my exercise, I’m pretty sure I would have not been able to sustain the pace and quit a long time ago. So allow yourself the opportunity to make gradual changes rather than going for it all at once. If you recall, that is the very reason why I have chosen the “road trip” theme for this adventure.

It’s no secret that I know how to drive to Atlanta, and could do it with my eyes closed, but I decided to take a step back, get the road map out again and actually plan my journey. I had to prepare for any unexpected things along the way…road blocks, traffic, dog shows at rest stops, and any other external or internal obstructions thrown in my path. Having the map handy shows me alternate routes that are available to keep me headed toward my goal. As long as I keep a road map at my side, I know I will always get where I’m going.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hanging at the Rest Stop

You know, there are times when I am on the road that I just know if I take a break at a gas station or a fast food restaurant (oh, how I love Chick-Fil-A, though!!), I’m just gonna get into trouble. There are so many ways to be bad at those places...candy bars, cheeseburgers, milk-shakes, ice cream, french fries, etc. If I am feeling particularly vulnerable—and I don’t need gas— I make sure that I stop at a rest stop. Usually, they are readily available and there is less opportunity to stray from my goal, which means, I am back on the road after stretching my legs for a few minutes. There are those times, however, where all good intentions are thrown out the window, and I end up hanging out at the rest stop. Maybe there is a dog caravan stopping at the same time and I stay to watch the dogs play or maybe I just don’t feel like getting back on the road, but whatever the case, I am only extending the length of my journey.
In the big scheme of things, adding a few minutes on to an eight hour drive is not that big of a deal, so I can’t chastise myself too much if I decide to hang out for a little while. What would be bad is to decide to take up residence at the rest stop. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to do, any time you stop moving forward, your goal keeps getting pushed back and before you realize it, you’ve abandoned your plan.

In the weight loss road trip, hanging out at the rest stop basically means hitting a plateau. I’ve recently done that and it was very difficult for me to find my way off that plateau (or get back in the car, as it were). For several weeks in a row, I weighed the exact same as the week prior, making me question my ability to keep going. Taking up residency at the rest stop seemed like a pretty good option!

Then something crazy happened... I went to Vegas!! Now, since what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, I can’t share too many details here!! ;) But, I can say this: I have never felt better after walking and being on my feet 21 hours/day for three days. Upon realizing how good I felt after that trip, I was motivated off the plateau and got my butt back in gear to come out of the comfortable confines of the rest stop. At yesterday’s weigh-in, I lost almost 5 lbs, bringing my total loss to an astounding 127 lbs. So yes, plateau busted!

Even though it may seem necessary to hang at a rest stop, don’t loiter too long. Find the motivation to jump back in the car and reach your destination. At the same time, you shouldn’t let a few extra minutes dampen your spirits, since nobody but you has imposed an imaginary clock on your “drive time”, you should be allowed to reset the clock when a break is needed. Just remember you have the rest of your life to reach your destination, so take as much time as you need and enjoy the ride.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Why Do I Keep Getting Back In the Car?

Sometimes I wonder why it is that I keep getting in the car to continue my road trip. If I haven’t left yet, then I sometimes dread the long road ahead. If I am only a quarter of the way down the road, then I know I’m closer to my destination, but I’ve still got a long way to go. At the half way point, I realize that there really is no reason to turn around now, because I’ve come this far, midas whale keep going! (OK, obscure reference to a duo that was on The Voice this week, sorry!) But then, something magical happens when I’m about 3/4 through the road trip...I realize that I have put many miles behind me and I have spent hours on the road to get where I am and my final destination is right around the bend. Something else happens, too. It seems like the mileage gods are playing tricks on me by making the miles longer as I get closer to the end. Does anyone else feel that way?

So, here I am, at the crossroads, so to speak, where I am thisclose to my destination, but it seems that someone has put a governor on my car and it is taking me twice as long to go the same distance, than earlier in the journey. I understand that the nearer I am to my goal, the slower the weight comes off. After all, as I understand it, the last 25 lbs. are a bear to take off! And that’s where I stand today, at the last leg of the journey that is the most challenging. So why shouldn’t I just stop here— 122 pounds is a pretty good accomplishment, right? Well, yes it is, but I am not a quitter and I set a goal and I am going to get there! I just have to understand that while I may have been able to drive 90 at the beginning of the trip, I am now limited to drive about 30; but that’s OK, I’m still moving forward.

So, why do I keep getting in the car? Because I’m not through with the road trip yet. I know there are a lot of exciting things awaiting my arrival, so I just have to keep going.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Road Trip Buddies

As I mentioned last time, I had just gotten back from my annual trip up to Atlanta, a trip in which I normally have a traveling companion. Unfortunately, this time, she couldn’t go and I had to go it alone. While I had fun once I made it to Hot’lanta (as always), getting there wasn’t quite as much fun without my car buddy! Now, I’m not writing this to make her feel guilty (because she does read these posts), all I am trying to say is that when you are taking a long journey, it’s best to have someone along for the ride!

I have found that when I tried to do this weight-loss thing on other occasions, my head just wasn’t in it and I really had no one with me that was willing to jump in the car and go! And I feel that is one of the reasons I haven’t been successful until now. When I started this road trip in 2011, I had one person going along with me, however, I’ve noticed that as time has gone on, I have added more people to my passenger list. There are the usual suspects such as my family and life-long friends, but there are also the new friends whom I have met in the WW meetings and also people who have randomly come up to me on the street to tell me they have started their own journey because of me! Wow, that is just overwhelming! I feel like I started this trip by driving a motorcycle and now I have chartered my own personal Greyhound!

Sometimes, it’s hard to think about the pressure that is on me to keep all my passengers happy, but then I remember, that people are doing this for themselves and I am merely the spark that lit their flame. What everyone doesn’t understand— because I don’t really talk about it— is that for all of you who have told me that I have inspired you to join WW or simply get fit and healthy, I use your stories and energy as my own inspiration to continue on. I encourage you to share your stories (with me or with anyone who will listen) because your story of struggle and/or success may just be that spark of inspiration that someone you don’t even know needs to start their own journey. As long as we continue to inspire and be inspired, we will never travel by ourselves again.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Right Vehicle for Your Road Trip

I know, I know...I’ve been away for awhile! Funny enough, I've been on a few road trips over the last couple of weeks! No, really! First it was a trip to Wisconsin (I don’t suggest visiting in February, unless you like the cold white stuff that falls from the sky!) and then it was on to my annual road trip to Atlanta (wherein I saw more of that white stuff that falls from the sky).

Anyway, I learned a few things on these trips: in order to have fun and stay on track, it is important to have the right tools for the journey. I certainly didn’t pack shorts, flip flops and bathing suits when I was headed to the frozen tundra of Milwaukee, I made sure that I had long pants and a parka (which is something I didn’t even realized I owned). I made the mistake by not taking said parka to Atlanta this year, but it was a lesson learned in that I should be prepared for anything. On the other hand, nothing is a mistake as long as you learn from it, right?

On these two trips, I expected to act like the shark in chummy waters that I mentioned in my last post. But, what I realized about myself, is that while I can let go and have fun, I have also taught myself some good habits along the way and making healthier decisions is based on a feeling of want rather than should (“I want the grilled salmon” instead of “I should have the grilled salmon, but I’d rather have the fried stuff”). Now of course, some decisions were not quite as healthy, but once again, on this program, nothing is off limits! The right tools have helped me make the right decisions.

On the Atlanta leg of my travels, I saw a lot of people who I haven’t seen in a while. And of course, they were all excited for how far I have come on this pilgrimage and I spent a lot of time answering questions and talking about how I’ve been successful. It was while I was having one of these conversations with my friend (I will call her “Crysta”), that I got the inspiration for this post. We were discussing the program and I told her that one of the most important things to do is surround yourself with tools for success. In the road trip of life, you can do everything right, but if you don’t have some sort of vehicle, you aren’t going to get very far! This adventure is no different.

I’ve made no secret as to which vehicle I have chosen to drive, but not everyone shares my taste in transportation, so look around and see what is out there that will help you thrive and be successful in reaching your goal. There are many forms of transportation, and the one that is best is the one at which you succeed. If you try the Ferrari and it doesn’t work, maybe you are a Lamborghini person! Or, maybe you are not a car person at all, maybe your style is more suited to a motorcycle. Just remember that old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” The only time you really fail is when you give up. As long as you are moving forward, even at a snail’s pace, you are making progress.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Eating on the Road

When I am on a long road trip, I don’t like to dilly-dally. I’d prefer to keep my stops to a minimum and get to my final destination as quickly as possible. But sometimes, my gut tells me I need to stop. And I don’t mean some weird, Leroy Jethro Gibbs instinct, I mean, my hunger pains! What I have learned is that it is best to keep snacks easily accessible in the car (of course, it helps when I have a passenger to hand me food and drink) so that I don’t have to stop for long meals.

Up until now, these posts have used the theme of a road trip as an allusion to my path on “the plan”; however, this scenario actually translates to both journeys. I need to make sure that I have healthy snacks along the way in order to keep my hunger to a minimum and so that I don’t find myself sitting at the drive-thru window of the Golden Arches. When there is a break in the normal routine (road trips, business trips, etc.), I think many people make the mistake of thinking “hey, I’m on vacation, why not?” or “I can always get back on track when I get home” and while both of those statements are true, why should I derail myself from the new routine have created? If I feel good eating healthy and exercising, why would I want to deviate from that routine on vacation? If I know that overeating and overdrinking is only going to make me feel like crap, why would I want to waste the calories on something that isn’t worth it? Now, of course the beauty of “the plan” is that if I want to have it (whatever “it” is), I’m allowed. Nothing is off limits.

Somehow, I got sidetracked from my original thought: healthy snacking along the way. Yes, if I am on the road, I must keep the healthy snacks with me. Now, I don’t know about you, but if my stomach is growling from hunger, that is all I think about. And when food is all I’m thinking about and I finally get to a restaurant, I’m like a shark feeding in chummy waters! My eyes roll back in my head, and I bite down on whatever I can get my teeth into before it disappears! OK, so maybe I’m not that bad, but at one point and time, that wasn’t too far off from reality! But if I have some fruit, or some other snack, that sharky behavior doesn’t rear it’s ugly head when I finally do get to sit down for a meal.
And so it is, that one of the most important lessons I have learned along the way is keep good snacks with me at all times. I really don’t relish the thought of sitting down to a meal after a long day of traveling and in the back of my mind I start to hear the theme from Jaws! I’m pretty sure there is a bunch of sciencey stuff out there to support this theory of snacking, but I don’t feel the need to go search it out. I just believe in my gut and know how I feel when I do keep snacks around (or don’t have them around). Who needs sciencey stuff when that gut feeling is all the evidence I need.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Road Less Bumpy

I have mainly been concentrating on the obstacles of my journey. While I want to offer you encouragement and help you prepare if you are about to embark on your own pilgrimage, I certainly don’t want to frighten you away and have you believe that it is all rough waters, with no light at the end of the tunnel (I guess this travel metaphor has really taken off!).
Every post so far has been about the things that are challenging me along the way, but what I have neglected to talk about are the days when I hit all the green lights, have no detours, my pit stops are at clean restrooms and the car is driving like a dream. Believe it or not, the majority of my journey has been like this (so far, anyway). After being on this plan for well over a year now, my decisions and choices have become second nature. There’s not really a lot of thought behind what I am doing now. I think about it like this... when I first got my license, I had to think about putting on my seatbelt, I had to think about looking in all my mirrors, I had to think about using the turn signal, but now, because I have been driving for so long and I am driving a vehicle that I love, I do all of those things without thinking because they are habits. Of course, just because some things are natural when it comes to driving doesn’t mean that I am not still aware of everyone else on the road, because let’s face it, while we can control our own cars, we can’t control others’!

I realized that I had established some habits with regards to food. For instance, I would eat when I was bored, when I was sad, when I was happy, to celebrate, to mourn, while watching TV or even playing on the computer. It was not about eating because I was hungry, it was about taking comfort in an old friend. Now, I have found other outlets— like writing this blog— which has really helped me thrive along the way. I am working on forming new habits and it’s been a chain reaction: I am eating better, so I have more energy, so I take my afternoon walks, which stimulates my mind, which has really helped me focus on what I want, and that focus has led me to start this blog. I only wish that I had started it earlier, but as George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” So, it’s never too late to go to your first meeting, it’s never to late to take that first walk around the block and it’s certainly never too late to write the first blog post!

I can always learn from the bumpy parts of my road trip, but I also need to realize that the road less bumpy is a good time to fully appreciate what is happening around me. I have also come to realize that I may be the one driving, but I am not alone on the journey. I have the support of my family, friends and everyone in the group; however, it’s ultimately up to me to be in control of how successful or unsuccessful this trip will be. And right now, I feel like I have been successful, and that has made all the difference.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Broken Down on the Side of the Road

Uh oh. Have you ever had a flat tire, engine trouble or, worse, an accident that stranded you on the side of the road? Well, I have definitely encountered any number of things that completely derailed a trip. Where as a road closure or a pit stop may only delay you for a few minutes or at worst, an hour, an accident or a breakdown can derail your progress for many hours or even days. And in some cases, you may be sent home, only to have to start over at a later date. As always, it is so important that you do eventually get back on the road. It may take you a while to recover, but if you realize that you were on the road for a reason, it shouldn't be too difficult to find the motivation to start over.

I am currently struggling with sitting on the side of the road and watching others pass me by. While I keep telling myself (and any of you who are reading this blog) that this is a long journey and I am only in the middle of it, sometimes it is difficult to face up to the yo-yo effect of weighing every week. When I was heavier, my weigh-ins were down from week to week. But as I get closer to my goal and see my final destination on the horizon, it is becoming more and more difficult to stay positive when I have an up week. I have to keep telling myself that being up a few pounds is nothing compared to being down 100+ pounds, overall. Seeing as I am human, it still hurts the ego a bit! But this is the time when I have to suck it up, call AAA and get problem fixed and get back on the road. It may take more than a week to recover from this week’s accident (aka: bad weigh-in), but I know that I will recover.

I didn't always have this resolve. In fact, if this were four years ago, I’m pretty sure I would have gone straight to Pizza Hut or Domino’s with the mindset of “eff this! I’m up, so I may as well throw in the towel! Deep dish, extra cheese, here I come!" But not this time. Nope, I had to look deep within my self and figure out what went wrong and try something different. How can I expect different results by continuing to do the same behavior (insanity, anyone)? To change my outcome, I must change my outlook, it’s as simple as that. OK, maybe that’s a bit simplistic, but the fact remains, that while I am sitting on the side of the road lamenting how I ended up here, I am not getting any closer to my destination.

So, how long will you sit on the side of the road complaining about your situation before you get the tire jack out and change your flat or get Road Side Assistance headed your way to fix your problem? For me, it was only one day.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Looking Down the Road

As I have mentioned before, people most often want to know what is different this time for me.  But another popular question I get is “what will you do when you hit your goal?” And the answer is simple…nothing. I’m not looking too far down the road right now, but I do have my final destination in my mind. I can plan for the future, but I can’t live in it.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I take a long road trip, I always learn something (accidental or intentional): where the cheapest gas is, where the cleanest restrooms are, that the Florida FWC doesn't know that there are no such things as “poisonous snakes” (for the record, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, the word is venomous!), that SiriusXM is better than trying to find local radio stations in every town, etc. This journey is no different. As long as I continue to learn little tips and tricks along the way, I know that once I reach my final destination, staying the course will be a breeze!

I have made such a sweeping change in how I am living my life, that there is no need to go back to the old way of doing things. Will I allow myself some things that I currently avoid? Yes, if I want them. I have noticed that there are some foods that I would have killed for in the past, but they no longer hold the same appeal for me. Another change for me is that I listen to my body more these days. If I eat something and it doesn't agree with me, there is no need to eat it again (I feel certain that McDonald’s is on this list, although I haven’t tested the theory!) In the past, I would have had that food again and not given it a second thought, no matter how bad (“bad= sick” or “bad= guilty”) I felt.

So, I can ponder what I will do when I hit my final goal, but there really is no need to dwell on it, as this is my lifestyle now. I know that I have been given the tools and the knowledge to continue living a healthier life and I have no fear of going back to the old way of doing things. I may take time to celebrate my accomplishment, but nothing will change…I must keep moving forward. And that is why the answer to the question is “nothing.”

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Passing Landmarks

Because I have made the drive to Atlanta so many times, I have just about every nook and cranny of Interstate 75 memorized. Along the way, I always look for my personal landmarks so that I know how far I’ve gone and how much of my trip remains. Some of my favorites include: a land bridge over 75 just south of Ocala, Exit 5 (just over the Georgia-Florida border) and finally, the south loop of 285. Once I hit that south side of 285, I know downtown Atlanta is not far off and I will be on the north side of the city and headed to my old stompin’ grounds in a relatively short period of time!

I bring up all these little landmarks, because they help put my road trip in perspective. I also have little landmarks for my weight-loss road trip. If I had come into the first meeting told everyone in the room, including myself, that I was planning on losing at least 100 pounds (actually, I am at 120 lbs. as of this writing), I’m pretty sure I would have sabotaged my agenda. To put that kind of pressure on myself would be silly, stupid and counterproductive. So, as is the way with the WW plan, my first goal was a manageable five pounds. And you know what, I hit that after my first full week! Next! The second challenge was to lose 5% of my body weight. It took me a few weeks, but I did that, too. So within the first two months of being on this program, I had already achieved multiple milestones. Starting in September means that I would have a tough road ahead with the holidays right around the corner. However, by the time January rolled around, I realized that I hadn’t gained any weight and I was on the verge of my next landmark: 10% of my starting weight gone! Eventually, the 25 lb., 50 lb., 75 lb. and 100 lb. landmarks were not far behind.

I have said this before, and I will continue to say it: this is a long journey, not a quick trip to the store. There are no easy fixes and no shortcuts, believe me, I have looked! I would much rather have Samantha or Jeanie blink and make me thin than have to stay on this course the rest of my life, but I have also learned that I appreciate the things in life that I work hard to achieve, while the stuff that is handed to me often times gets tossed aside. These landmarks along the way are tangible reminders as to how tough this road trip really is and the sacrifices and changes I have made in order to achieve my current success.

So, what are your landmarks? How will you learn to appreciate the journey you are taking? Will you take the time to reflect on your successes? It’s not bragging, you know. It simply letting people know that you have come a long way and you want to share your excitement with them.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Getting Lost

Before Smart Phones, GPS and pretty much any of the technology we use today to find our way, there was the good old-fashioned road map. Sometimes I miss the simpler times. Then again, I never relied on the paper maps while driving, so maybe it wasn’t all that simple! One thing has never changed though, getting to your destination can be tough if you don’t plan your route! This little journey of mine has required me to not only lay out a road map of where I want to go, but also to be sure and expect the unexpected (do I sound like an ad for Big Brother? Maybe I watch too much Reality TV)! Now, the Roadblocks and Detours post from the other day is the “unexpected” aspect of this little road trip and I have to make sure that when I encounter those, I get right back on my way; however, getting flat out lost can make it difficult to recover and get back on track. That’s not to say that you won’t ever find your way, but you also can’t beat yourself up about it, if you do get lost.

I have been lost before. I was lost for 30 something years and then I was on the path for about six months, and then I got lost once again! And I’m talking really LOST, like an airplane on a tropical island with the guy from Lord of the Rings and that other guy from Party of Five lost! But I digress...for me, getting lost only meant that I wasn’t ready to get to my destination. I wanted to know, “why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” type thinking. So, I waited. For four years. And then I got the road map out planned my new route. I was ready. Nothing was going to stop me from getting to the end of my journey this time: Detours, road blocks, getting lost, bring’em on! I was ready for the challenge.

People ask me all the time: What makes this time different? How did I get my mind right? And sadly, I don’t have an answer for them. Because what motivated me to get un-lost, may not be enough to motivate someone else and vice-versa. So if you are currently lost and looking for that road map, find out what drives you. I don’t necessarily mean “what drives you to want to lose weight”, but what drives you to do anything that is unappealing. The next time you do something that you don’t really want to do, reflect on what it was that motivated you to complete the task. Maybe that is the key to unfolding the road map to start your own life-changing road trip.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Windshield or Rearview

The basic rules of driving say that you have to use both the windshield and the rearview mirror, you can’t just use one or the other. I have learned that this journey is no different: I can’t succeed without both looking at my future and remembering my past. And much like driving, I would much rather focus on what’s ahead of me, rather than the stuff I have already passed, but there are lessons to be learned from both.

I do keep a few select reminders: some pictures and my former favorite pair of “fat shorts” for example, but for the most part, I try not to live too much in the past. Remembering where I've been helps me stay focused on where I am going. I realize that there is not a short-cut for this road trip, so I have to keep my focus and energy on the long road ahead of me; however, looking at how far I've already traveled, certainly makes me appreciate where I am. As much as I would like to ignore the pictures of me at my absolute heaviest, facing up to who I was only motivates me to continue on the program.

And during the course of this ride, I've realized that there is a dirty little secret that no one tells you: your mind is a powerful entity and it can deceive you! I never fully understood that mind game until now. I can honestly only appreciate what I have accomplished when I look at pictures, because when I face myself in the mirror, my mind plays tricks on me. If you see something every day, you don’t see the changes. Think about those pictures people take of their kids every day for a year…each day, the child looks the same, but if you look at the first one and the last one, the changes are drastic! Weight change is no different. And I say “change” rather than “loss” because gaining weight can sneak up on you as much as losing it! If I had looked in the mirror one day and was average weight, then the next day, obese, it wouldn't have taken me so long to realize that I needed a change. But, I did finally make the change and that’s all that matters. I’m not the same person I was yesterday and I don’t know who I will be tomorrow. So, I just keep moving forward! What’s done is done, there is no changing the past, but the future is wide open for new and exciting opportunities! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Speeding Isn’t Necessary

One thing I have learned throughout this lifestyle change is that, while exercise is important, I don’t have to kill myself in order to incorporate it into my daily routine. I’ve always thought that boot camps, gym memberships, running and pretty much any other death-defying stunt was the only way that anyone could lose weight. Based on that assumption, I didn’t stand a chance in getting off my couch and adding activity to my life. I mean, it has always been my philosophy that if you see me running, you better run, too, ‘cause something bad is chasing me!

Then one day, I read an article about a person who simply walked his way to a healthier weight. I thought, well, that seems easy enough. So I loaded up my MP3 player and took a lap around my neighborhood (about a mile). Although I had been losing weight with a change in my dietary habits, I was still heavy and walking was not real easy. Knee problems, lower back problems, foot problems— they all played a part in making the one mile loop something of a challenge. But I summoned the strength from somewhere deep inside and decided to make the walk around my ‘hood an almost daily activity. After a few weeks, not only were my efforts paying off at my weigh-ins, but I noticed that the once impossible one mile loop was becoming rather...pedestrian. So I started going around twice. In another month, it dawned on me that I went from Queen of the Couch Potatoes to walking two miles a day 3 or 4 days a week. Then I realized I was getting used to walking during the day and craved the activity if I didn’t do it! I seriously had to check to see if I was running a fever or something! Maybe I had been bitten by some strange mind-altering bug while I was walking, because I DO NOT crave exercise.

As time went on, I satisfied that craving and kept increasing my mileage. I walk on my lunch hour and can do about three miles in that time. On the weekends, when I have a little more time to devote to walking, I get in about five miles. And it’s just walking. Nothing else. I have even added a new Sunday routine that combines walking with every woman’s favorite activity— shopping! There’s nothing like a little quiet time walking around the outlet mall and planning my new wardrobe purchases!

No one really likes to torture themselves with a heavy-duty workout (well, I do know a few exceptions!), but walking is a simple action that we sometimes overlook and discount. I know there will come a time when I will have to up my game, add some resistance band training or even some light hand-weights, but for now, I go out and walk and walk and walk.

Of course, you may have noticed there was no analogy to the “road trip” this time, and I can’t let that happen, so here it goes...sure you can speed while you’re driving, but you might get pulled over and that will just delay your arrival. If you slow it down and keep a steady pace, you are less likely to get stopped and you may even avoid a nasty accident. Speed isn’t always the answer, I mean, who won the race between the tortoise and the hare? And, hey, after a while, if you do want to pick up the pace, go for it! With the right training and practice, you could always drive for NASCAR! In other words, if you have taken steps to train for running, then step it up! It’s your journey, take it at the pace that’s right for you!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Detours and Roadblocks

OK, now where was I? So, right out of the gate, I faced a major challenge...that double baby shower I mentioned. Wow! Food everywhere!! I know me, probably better than anyone else does, so I figured the best way to avoid any temptation to just stay away from the kitchen. Of course, being that it was only Day 2 of my journey (in the Road Trip analogy, I liken it to opening the garage door!), I did what I thought was best at the time. If I faced that situation today, I would handle much differently. I could walk in the kitchen, be around all the food and be safe in the knowledge that I would make the right decisions. Did you notice: back then it was a "challenge", but today it is a "situation".

That's the thing I love about Weight Watchers. (I must put a disclaimer here...going forward, I will refer to WW as "The Program" or "The Plan" simply because this is my story, nobody is paying me to tell it and I don't wanna get in trouble!) So, as I was saying, I love this "program" because it's all about real foods and real life, and nothing is off limits, as long as you account for it. Sure there are other programs that work faster, and I have tried just about all of them. But guess where I ended up? Sitting in the meeting, weighing in every Saturday and leaning on my fellow meeting goers for support. Quick is not always best! I mean, really! Do you choose your hair stylist because she's quick or because she's good? Do you choose a tattoo artist because he's fast or because he's meticulous? Why choose a "diet" plan that is hard to follow, even if the results are quick? I am also here to say that the plan that works best for you is one to which you can fully commit.  It doesn't have to be W squared, but it does have to be something that you can live and breathe.

Trust me when I say that I know this lifestyle overhaul is not easy. It takes A LOT of planning, motivation, self-reliance, support, mental-toughness, and determination to be successful. But the feeling of accomplishment is amazing. If you are on your own road trip, you have to make sure that when you hit a detour (and trust me, you WILL hit them), you don't just end the trip and head home. I have a friend who is always telling me that I have internal GPS and that I can get to, or from, the farthest and strangest of places. She's kinda right, but I wouldn't call it GPS, but rather simply having a sense of where I have been, where I am and where I wanna go. If someone throws a road block up, I just have to figure out how to go around it and stay on course. Chances are, it will take me longer, but really, what else can I do? No good comes from getting frustrated and throwing my hands up in defeat.

I decided to discuss road blocks today because I expect that I will hit one when I weigh in tomorrow morning. There was a time when I would throw in the towel and say it's not my fault, the plan doesn't work, I'm through. But not now. Not when I have the chance to learn from the experience. I know that my road trip isn't going to end tomorrow, I still have quite a long road ahead of me, so this anticipated road block can't keep me from moving forward.

So, my wish for you today is that you learn to turn your challenges in to opportunities and always remember that an alternate definition for "detour" is "scenic route".

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Starting the Journey

People tell me all the time that I should be blogging about my weight loss journey. Well, 16 months and 115 pounds lost, maybe it's time I started writing some of this stuff down!

I wanna get something on record, those of you who know me, and I mean really know me, know that I am not the kind of person to put my self out there for public consumption. I am more of a suffer in silence, celebrate in silence kinda girl. But something in me has changed on this little road trip of mine and I guess I could share it with the world...or at least the three people who may accidentally find this post!

In September of 2011, I decided to re-join Weight Watchers. I was seriously overweight and had all sorts of health issues, including high blood pressure, sleep disorders, mild sleep apnea, swollen joints, plantar fasciitis and a whole host of other problems. Not to mention, I was staring down the barrel of the big 4-0! My family and friends were worried about me and worried that, while I may turn 40, if I kept getting heavier, I wouldn't make it much past 40. So, a few of my family members staged an intervention. Shortly thereafter, I was sitting in a WW meeting.

Since Weight Watchers had worked so well for me the first time (insert sarcastic tone here!), I was a little apprehensive about being successful. But I learned something this time, having the right mindset is another important tool to keep in your arsenal. The first week was tough, after all, the very next day after my first meeting, I had a double baby shower to attend. I often wondered if I had set myself up for failure, but I couldn't dwell on it too much. When I went for my first weigh-in, I'd lost 5 lbs! It was then I had realized I had set my self up for success, not failure!

Since this is just kinda the over view, I think I will stop there for now, but I will say this...I bet the two of you who are still reading this ('cause I'm sure I lost one of you by now!!) are wondering why I chose to call this blog Road Trip. Well, this is why: Every year, I drive to Atlanta to see my friends and every year I know that I have an eight hour trip ahead of me. I enjoy this drive, otherwise, why wouldn't I just fly, but more than that, I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment in getting to my final destination. Knowing that I make sacrifices like getting up at stupid-thirty, I mean 2:30 AM, to get on the road means that I can take my time and still get to the ATL with almost a full day to spare. I also know that on this road trip, I have to stop and stretch or get food and gas (I'm sure there is a fast food joke here somewhere!) or just take a little break. But I know that I can't take too long at these little stops. The road is long, but the trip is worth it. This weight loss journey is not so very different. There are times when I would much rather have that extra drink, a piece of cake or even some pizza. Those are my pit stops along the way. If I don't stop and indulge myself with those things every so often, I will completely derail my end game and end up in Kalamazoo rather than Atlanta. So, the moral of the story is, stop and smell the roses, but get your ass back in the car if you wanna get where you're going!

Throughout my little posts here, I hope to entertain and inspire any one who reads them. And if I bore you, well, I guess there's always funny cats to look at elsewhere on the Internet!