Monday, August 18, 2014

Real Choices. Real Changes. Real Life.

Last week, I turned 35 years old.  Last week, I went from having to check the 25-34 year old box to the 35-39 year old one.  Last week I really reflected on my life.  I reflected on all of the highs, the lows, and most of all the amazing in my life.

Most definitely, there have been lows in my life.  There have been times I have been lower than low.  There have been times when I've wanted to just let it all go.  There have been times I've had to say good-bye to some of the most important people in my life.  There have been times I have cried myself to sleep.  Times I have wondered what all of it means and what the point of all of it is.  There have been times that I have been so angry at God I started to walk away.

But then, there are so, so many more times that the highs in my life completely outweighed the lows. There are times in my life that are so filled with happiness that my heart could barely contain it.  Even those low times, I can think of moments in them that were so filled with joy.  Times when tears of sadness and despair turned to tears of laughter.  At funerals when everyone is so sad, but all it takes is a mention of a memory. Then there are those times of utmost joy when there is no sadness.  Moments in my life that changed my life are filled with so much happiness.  Seeing my babies come into this world.  The moment E walked into that bar and tapped me on the shoulder.  The moment when we first saw that positive pregnancy test. Finishing my very first REAL knitted item (probably only crafters will get what a joy this is). Crossing the finish line on my first 5K, then on my first 10K.  Pressing up 135 pounds and then walking a 5K faster than I have ever ran one. Watching friends walk down the aisle. Meeting new friends and instantly knowing what an important part of my life they will become or even more surprisingly having NO idea what an important part of my life they will become! Even saying good-bye to loved ones has moments of joy as I know they have gone on to be with the Lord. That moment when I realized that even when I wanted to walk away from Him, He saw me, He knew me, He loved me, and He called me back.  Seeing the amazing.  Isn't that what this life is all about?

Since this blog is mainly about my journey to be the best me possible, I've been thinking about what turning 35 means for this journey.  I know that at 35, I feel better than I have EVER felt in my ENTIRE life.  And I mean that completely literally, this is the BEST I have ever been.  Now, that does not mean that anything that came before this was bad.  It absolutely was not.  I have had a very good life.  I have people that love me, I have 3 amazing children who fill me with joy every day.  I have this incredible husband who I am blessed to wake up to every day.  I have had a very good life.  But, in the past year, I have come to realize that it could be even better.  So, that is what I set out to do.  I wanted my life to be the absolute best I could make it.  I did not ever want to wake up and look in the mirror and think that there was a chance that I did not live this blessed life to the absolute fullest.

You know where I am going with this.  If you have been reading my blog, following me on Facebook or Twitter, or just listening to pretty much anything I have talked about in the past 8 months, you know that I have changed my life.  I did not do it alone.  I have had major help along the way.  My husband changed his right a long with me.  We did this together.  I have taken advice from people much wiser than myself.  I have given in to the process of change, knowing that not every day will be perfect, but every day will be BETTER.  And what better means changes daily.  Every day I have to re-evaluate what I want my life to look like.  Every day I give everything I am doing over to God and ask for His help.  HE set me on this path, this path to make my life the life HE wanted for me.  I have no doubt that that is what I am doing and I want to make sure that HE is a part of every bit of it.

So when I say that this is the best I have ever felt, I mean not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and most importantly spiritually.  This life is only going to get better.  35 is just a number.  I don't look 35.  I definitely don't feel 35.  35 looks better than 30 did.  And, 30 looked pretty good.  So, I say this to you.  When you look at your life, are you where you want to be? Are you where HE wants you to be? Are you listening to those around you who might be a little wiser? Are you listening to that still small voice inside of you telling you HE loves you and wants everything for you? If changes need to be made, are you making them? Those changes aren't always physical, believe me, I know that.  If you see me, you see the physical changes, but you have no idea how much work is being done on the inside, and honestly, that is even more important to me.

Many people have asked me how I have done what I have done, but in the next breath say, "Oh, I just don't have time right now."  I tell them, that's okay, you will know when it is your time.  It took me a LONG time to come to terms, to listen, and to OBEY.  That is a difficult word to get, even more difficult to follow.  But, that is what I did.  I came to terms with what I was doing to my life (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually), I listened, and then I tried to obey.  I don't always get it perfect, heck, I don't always get it right.  Some days, I get it TOTALLY wrong.  But, I keep trying.  And in the end, that is all any of us can do.  Try.  Because what better example can we give our children, our friends, our family, ourselves?  TRY.

May you be blessed.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Feeling Hot Hot Hot!

In my last post, I was telling you that I had hit a dreaded plateau in my journey.  I am happy to report that I worked through it, pushed hard, didn't give up and busted through it!  I lost 3 pounds that week!  Woo!!

This weekend, my sweet husband and I headed up to Chicago to watch the Tottenham Hotspurs play the Chicago Fire Soccer Club.  My husband is a pretty big Spurs fan so this was something he was really excited about.  I'm not a huge soccer fan, but I was really excited to head out of town and spend some fun time with him and a couple of friends.  We had a really great time and I learned a lot about soccer! I can see me maybe getting into watching soccer with the man.

Since we knew that we were going to go have a good time and neither of us wanted to stress too much about weight-loss, we decided to go ahead and weigh in on Saturday morning instead of our usual Monday morning.  Well, I am happy to report that I am down over 70 pounds!  Woo!  And, my awesome, hot husband is .8 pounds away from his goal! I am super proud of him!!

This is back in January after just a couple of weeks in our journey.
This was at the game on Saturday! Doesn't he look fantastic!

Since I felt so good after I stepped on that scale, I thought I would give something a try.  I went into the garage and pulled out 2 items of clothing that I wasn't able to fit into last time I tried stuff on.  One was a jean skirt and one was a pair of skinny jeans.  The jean skirt I wore when I lost so much weight after M was born.  The skinny jeans I bought and literally wore one time.  I just didn't feel comfortable in them.  I didn't feel thin or skinny enough.  So, anyway, I got them out of the box and came in and tried them on.  Guess what?!?!  They fit!!  And even better, they looked GOOD!!!  I actually ended up taking the skirt to Chicago and wearing it for the game.  I can not wait to wear those skinny jeans either...I have the perfect pair of shoes to wear with them!!

I went to RPM Saturday morning after I weighed in and tried on the clothes.  As I was spinning I figured something out!  I know that I tell you all about how much I love to lift and how important I think lifting, and lifting heavy is.  Well, I have PROOF!

This is a picture of me that was put in the paper in 2010 after I had lost a lot of weight.  I lost weight then by following the Weight Watchers program (I wasn't a member, just followed it).  I worked out, but I didn't lift like I am now.  I mainly focused on cardio and that was it.  I looked pretty good, I know that I did, but obviously, it didn't stick.  I was weighing about 170-180 pounds when this pic was taken (I can't remember the exact weight).  Around this time was when I bought the jean skirt that I just found out fit.

Well, I still weigh about 30 pounds MORE than I did then and that skirt is fitting me fantastically!  That is all because of the weights, I know it is! Do you get that? I am in the same size I was 4 years ago and I was 30 pounds LIGHTER than I am now!  WOW!  Can we just say...bring on the weights!

You can kind of see the skirt in this pic.  We both feel SO much better!!

I hope that you have a great week!  Just keep going.  You can do it!

Faith. Courage. Strength. Change.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Dreaded "P" Word

If you have ever tried to lose weight, get healthy, or just take better care of yourself, most likely you have encountered the dreaded "p" word...PLATEAU. Ugh.  Plateaus seriously suck for motivation.  At least they do for me. In case you aren't familiar with a plateau, let me inform you.  A plateau means that the scale isn't moving.  You are doing everything right, and there is very little to no weight loss.  Now, I know that I have said many times that the number isn't all that important to me and while that is true, it can get super frustrating when that number doesn't go down at all.  Or worse, when it goes up!  This is especially true when you KNOW that you have done everything you need to do to make that number go down.

I do lift weights, and I lift heavy which means that I am building some major muscle while I am losing fat.  And we have all heard the old saying, "muscle weighs more than fat."  But, psychologically, that is really difficult to remember when I stand on that scale and the number is the same or higher than it was the week before.  And when that happens for a couple of weeks in a row...well, let's just say that little voice in the back of my head wondering why I am doing all of this gets VERY LOUD!

I Googled "Weight Loss Plateau" and was supplied with an extremely long list of ways to break through a plateau.  There were suggestions ranging from cutting my calories down even more to adding in a bunch more calories (guess which one of those suggestions I was more in favor of!!!). The suggestion that I thought made the most sense was the one that said to change up your workout routine.

  • Do your resistance training before your cardio. You'll use up your glycogen stores doing the weight training and when you move on to cardio, your body will use your fat stores as a fuel source.
  • So, today I did a version of that.  I didn't do cardio before I hit the weights like I usually do.  My plan had been to hit the weights first and then get in my cardio.  What I didn't plan on was how much fun I would be having while lifting that I ran out of time to get the cardio in!!  Luckily, my oldest has basketball camp this afternoon and the other 2 want to ride their bikes in the parking lot.  So, I am going to do a cardio circuit workout while they are riding.  Then, I will go to Spin tonight.  No matter what order I'm doing it in, I will be burning MAJOR calories!!  This plateau that I am will be hitting the bricks this week.  I am going to push through.  I have watched enough "The Biggest Loser" to know that a plateau is just a week or two in a journey, not an end point.  I will come out on the other side stronger, wiser, healthier, and just more of a bad-ass.  I've got this!

    What do YOU do when you hit a plateau?  Any tips?

    Faith. Courage. Strength. Change.

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

    Life Gets In The Way Sometimes

    I had no idea that it has been almost a month since I last blogged.  I apologize to my massive amount of readers.  The past month has really just been insane for our family.  We got everyone finished with school, and then it started.  The week of June 6th, we had Vacation Bible School at our church, which all three kids are involved with and I help with.  Following each day, we had 2 hours of swim lessons for the girls.  We would finally either go to the gym or go home about 3 o'clock.  If we went to the gym, we didn't get home until about 4:30 and then would often turn right around and head back to the gym for Spin Class.

    The next week, we had a form of VBS at the church where the kids go/have gone to Pre-school.  The girls participate in it and M is in child care there throughout the day because I help with that VBS too.  We had another 2 hours of swim lessons each day after this VBS as well.  Add the gym, work I had to do for VBS, trying to get everyone fed, and it made for a tired mama!

    After that week, we headed down to my parents' house for the week and had a wonderful time, but my access to the internet was pretty limited.  My folks live in the middle of a corn field and do not have the greatest service.

    So, since we have been home, I have been playing catch up and am just now getting a chance to sit down to blog!  Hopefully you all (or the one of you!) :) understand that as I know that we are all busy and trying to survive the summer!!

    So, catching up a tad is probably in order.  While I was so busy, I didn't get a lot of weight-lifting in.  That is mainly because I just didn't have time and I was so busy, I knew I couldn't be sore from lifting.  But mainly, I just didn't have time!  What that leaves me with then is a LOT of cardio!  I did Spin classes 4 times each week during VBS just to get my calorie burn in.  While I was at my mom and dad's I wasn't able to get to the gym, but I walked every day but one and that was so great!  Like I said, my parents live in the middle of the country and it was so wonderful to walk with nature and just enjoy being outside.  I walked at least 3 miles each time.

    There is that part of me that has always wanted to be a runner.  I have tried and failed so many times.  It would get so frustrating.  It has taken me about 20 years to finally figure out that MAYBE God just didn't make me a runner, because he certainly did not give me the knees for it!  I have always joked that I can walk faster than I can run anyway!  The last 5K (3.1 miles) that I "ran" (that means run/walk, because I have never been able to run a whole 3.1 miles!) I did in 45 minutes and 2 seconds.  I have been working hard to get my time under that with just walking.  I didn't know if I would be able to do it or not.  But, while I was down at my folks, I timed myself and I did it!!  I did a 5K in 43 minutes and 25 seconds!!  I was so thrilled!  Can't wait to actually do a race.  I know I will be doing the Bumblerun in E's hometown in September and the Purdue 5K in October.  I may see if I can find some other ones along the way too. Bottom line, I can walk a 5K faster than I can run one! Woo!

    I did get back in the weight room this week and it felt awesome!  I am SO sore though!  Ouch!  My booty is screaming from squats and lunges, but is that going to stop me?  Uh, NO!!!  I am going back to Spinning tonight for my second class in 2 days.

    This video has been going around Facebook and I finally had a chance to watch it and I HIGHLY suggest that you do as well.  I have always disliked the term "Like A Girl" and I LOVE how this video turns it on it's head.  It is a must see!!

    Since I haven't posted in a while, I figured I would let you know how I am doing and give you some pics on how I am looking.  I have lost 63.4 pounds in 25 weeks and I feel so strong and healthy.  I am fitting into clothes that I haven't worn in a long time and was able to buy a new pair of jeans in a size smaller than I thought I would.  I have muscles showing in places that I haven't seen them in a long time.  It is an awesome feeling and I love it and want more of it!!!

    Here is a pic that my sweet daughter L took of me and my muscles.

    I'm LOVING that cut in my shoulders that is starting to come through.  I'm going to keep at it though, because I want the rest of the cuts that go with them!!

    It is a lot of hard work.  I am LOVING this hard work, but make no mistake.  It is HARD work.  I didn't decide to do this on a whim.  I thought a lot about it.  I prayed A LOT about it.  I talked with a lot of people about it.  I just want to be clear about what I am doing here.  I have said this many times, but this is not a quick fix for me.  This is my life.  There is no pill.  There is no magic drink.  There is no short cut.  It is all hard work, dedication, prayer, and the decision EVERY single day to change my life.  This is what it is.

    Faith. Courage. Strength. Change.

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014


    After a wonderful weekend watching a friend get married filled with greasy food, cake, and plenty of wine and whiskey, I was fully expecting a pretty high weight gain this week.  Thankfully hard work and good choices at other points made for a very small gain and one I could live with without getting down on myself.  It showed me a very important lesson.  OCCASIONALLY, it will be okay for me to indulge and eat some things that aren't good for me or have a couple of drinks.  I don't have to be scared of holiday celebrations or family functions.  That is a great turning point for me.  Life doesn't end just because you decide to make the needed changes to make that life the best it can be!

    Remember all those Rubbermaid boxes of clothes that I told you about? Well, I decided to go through them.  I went through my entire closet, the 3 boxes, and 2 bags that a friend had given me.  I took out EVERYTHING that was too big, too short, out of style, or anything that I just knew I wasn't going to wear any more.  Note to self, never go that long between cleaning out the wardrobe...I had things from college in there!  Do you remember the Paul Harris store?  Yeah, lots of stuff from there...that may even be dating back to high school!!  Yeesh!  Anyway, I ended up pulling out and getting rid of 2 cabinet boxes and one plastic bag full of clothes.  The clothes that were in the Rubbermaid boxes were tried on and a lot of them fit!  Woo hoo!  I ended up having 1 box of clothes that are still a little tight, but I put them back in the box and will hold on to them.  I will be in them before I know it!

    Cleaning out my closet like that left me with a lot of extra T-shirts that I am not wearing.  So, what is a girl that spends most of her time in the gym to do?  You guessed it! I'm back to cutting them up.  Here was my surgery attempt from last night.  I wish I would have taken a before pic, but it was just a white T-shirt with a blue ringer on the neckline and sleeves.  Looks a little different now!
    Like my pig-tails? Yes, I am a 34 year old little kid!

    In case you can not tell, the sleeves have been cut off as well as the neckline.  Neck was cut in a V as was the back.  The seams at the shoulder were cut and retied together.  I accidentally cut the back a little deep, so I cut strips in it to tie it up the back.  I tried to take a pic of it, but it is really difficult to take a picture of your back! :)  I wore it to RPM this morning and it worked out pretty well.  It is a little wide and slipped off of my shoulders some, but just looked like a cute off the shoulder shirt.  Had I not been covered in sweat, probably would have looked better!!  I can't wait to cut in to some of the others!

    So, my title today is G.R.I.T.  During Spin Class this morning, our instructor told us this acronym.  I LOVE it.  I will be adding it to my list of mantras.  


    Every time I walk into that gym, this will be in my head.  Real Intense Training, because going half-way just isn't an option.  I got this.

    Faith. Courage. Strength. Changes.

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

    20 Weeks!

    In 20 weeks, my life has changed.  It is utterly amazing to me how every single aspect of my life has improved since January.  Don't get me wrong, I still have crappy days just like everyone else.  There are still days when I just want to dig into the chocolate and peanut butter (sometimes I even give in to that craving!).  But, when I look at my life and all of the amazing things God has blessed me with, I can't help but shake my head in wonder.  In January, I prayed.  I prayed that He would help me find a way to make myself healthier, happier, a better mom, a better wife, and a better friend.  I prayed that if He wanted me to move in this direction that He would provide the path.  And has He ever.

    In 20 weeks, I have lost over 50 pounds, but I have GAINED oh so much more.  I have seen my body do things I had no idea it would ever do again.  I have lifted pounds that I haven't been able to do since I was a senior in High School.  I have found a love for spinning and rowing and even the elliptical machine.  Running around with my kids kicking a soccer ball no longer makes me feel like I am going to keel over dead.  Watching my body in the mirror has started to make me smile a little bit instead of feeling like I should be ashamed of what it looks like.  I have realized that there are some parts of my body that will never change even after I hit my goals, those stretch marks are here to stay.  And you know what?  That is okay, because each one of those marks is a reminder of the three beautiful children I was blessed to bring in to this world.

    I have learned so much about food, it is almost ridiculous.  In the past, I have tried diets like the South Beach Diet and Weight Watchers.  Yes, I lost weight.  No, I was never able to keep it up.  Restricting my foods just does not work for me.  I LOVE to eat.  And I LOVE food.  Always have, always will.  I am a meat and potatoes kind of girl, not a salad chick.  What I have found is that telling myself I CAN'T have something only makes me want it more.  So, I quit telling myself that.  I quit dieting and instead found a way of life.  I still eat cookies.  I still eat steaks.  Heck, last night I had cheese ravioli with alfredo sauce from Puccini's.  What I have changed is HOW I eat.  I no longer need to smother my ravioli in the alfredo sauce.  I can have it on the side and just have a small amount.  If I DO have a salad, it does NOT need to be drenched in dressing.  I can even have REAL dressing if I want and just not drown my salad in it.  These are things anyone wanting to lose weight hears just about all the time.  But, until you really understand how it affects YOU, it is not going to click.  For me, it finally clicked.  The ONLY thing that I no longer consume is soda.  I really paid attention to how it was making me feel and figured out that it was something I really needed to get rid of in my life.  I am glad that I did.  Sometimes does it suck to choose yogurt over pie?  Yes, of course it does.  But, sometimes, that choice must be made.  Sometimes it is OK to have the pie, but it is NOT OK to choose pie every time.

    The funny thing in all this is that once you start getting healthier and feeling better about yourself, so many other things in life seem so much better.  My relationship with my husband is stronger than it has ever been.  We are in this life together and we are making it the best it can be.  My relationship with my children is awesome because I have the energy to spend the time with them that I need to and that THEY need me to.  Yes, I still get frustrated with them.  Yes, they still get yelled at.  I'm human.  But, I can tolerate the little things so much better now.  Most stress I feel gets beat out of me at the gym.  When you aren't getting upset at the short people in your house, you find that they really are a LOT of fun!

    I hope that I have become a better friend too.  I try really hard not to make every single conversation anyone has with me about my journey.  Sometimes, it is inevitable, especially when someone else brings it up.  But, I feel like since I feel better about myself, I can listen better to others.  Does that make sense?  I hope this is true anyway, because I have the most amazing friends and I want to be as good to them as they are to me!

    My biggest and most favorite growth though has been in my relationship with Christ.  He has pushed me and challenged me in ways I would have never imagined.  When He started me on this path, I was terrified.  I was scared I would fail and let myself down.  Or even worse I would let everyone else including Him down.  What I didn't realize is this: "If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it."  So very true.  By inviting Him fully into my meals, my workouts, my conversations, my life I have found so much more purpose and strength.  He is with me through every single step, push up, and bicep curl.  He pushes me, He encourages me, He celebrates me.  He is just awesome.

    So, bottom line, what have I learned in 20 weeks?  Here is my top 10 list:

    10. When you lose weight and commit to being healthy, people will ask you a lot of questions and assume you are an expert.  It is OK to give you opinion and share what you have learned.  But, remember you are NOT a trainer or a doctor.  It is okay to remind them of that.

    9. Sometimes your body does need rest.  You are NOT weak if you take this rest.  Just don't let the rest last TOO long.

    8. Occasionally you need a treat.  Swiss Cake Rolls are pretty good at fulfilling that.

    7. Don't be afraid to brag about your successes, it is an awesome feeling when the world (and by world I mean friends and Facebook) celebrates with you.

    6. When someone compliments you, say "thank you".  Anything else is unnecessary and either demeaning to you or them.  (Totally still working on this one!!)

    5. Diet is a bad word, don't use it.  For that matter, so is skinny and fat.  Let them go.

    4.  In the weight room, men are actually much more encouraging to women than you think they would be.  Don't be afraid of them.  Sure, you will have the occasional one who looks at you either with annoyance or to check you out, but most just think it is cool to see a girl not afraid to lift.  It is OK to be strong!

    3.  Don't be afraid to try a new class or exercise.  Your butt, arms, legs, and every single muscle might hurt like crazy the next day and sitting down to go to the bathroom will be all but impossible.  But, I promise, the second time you do it, you will be AWESOME!

    2. I am absolutely worth this.  So is my family and so are my friends.  We all deserve the best me that I can be.

    1.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13, NIV

    I do want to say thank you to everyone who has been following me on this journey so far.  Thanks for keeping me honest and encouraged.  Thanks for reading, thanks for praying.  Thanks for the good thoughts, and the occasional kick in the butt.  Thank you.  I still have a long way to go.  This is not a perfect journey, but it is my journey.  And I am beyond proud and excited to be making it.

    To finish, here are some pics of my journey so far!

    New Year's Eve, 2013 (It isn't a great pic, but it is the only one I could find with a full body shot.  Obviously, I was less than thrilled to have my picture taken and have sort of shielded my body with L's.)

    4 Weeks In!

    8 Weeks In!

    12 Weeks!

    16 Weeks!

    20 Weeks!!


    Tuesday, May 20, 2014

    We Have GOT To Stop!

    Ladies (And Men!) I have noticed something lately.  This is something that I know I am guilty of doing, but it is something that we all HAVE to stop doing.


    How many times each day do you call yourself one of these words or something similar?  Or what about one of these?


    I have really been listening the past couple of weeks and these are all words that I have heard at least one woman call herself out loud.  This makes me so sad.  We call ourselves words that we wouldn't even begin to think about calling someone else.  We insult ourselves so easily.  We don't even think twice about using these retched words to describe our bodies and our minds.

    I found this image on Google.  I don't know how to "reference" it,
    so please give me grace for not giving credit to whoever originally did it.

    I have been running this line from the movie "Mean Girls" through my head all day because it is so true.  When we so easily insult ourselves, we give permission for other people to insult us.  I like to read stories that pop up on Facebook about people that have worked really hard to lose weight or make themselves healthier.  It gives me hope.  What gets me though is that there is always at least one person (commonly referred to as a "troll" in internet land) who feels the need to put down this person who has worked so hard.  When I see those negative posts, I get pretty upset.  Then I often will go back and read the original "success" story and so many times I will find a point in the story that the person refers to herself as "fat" or "chubby" or some other word like that.  By using that type of language to describe herself, she just gives permission to the "troll" to use that type of language.  By showing even just a small amount of extra confidence (and it does take confidence to NOT use those words, have no doubt about it) and choosing NOT to call ourselves these types of negative words, we take back control.  And by taking back that control, it becomes much less acceptable for others to call us these types of negative words.

    Do you know what is also cool about NOT describing yourself as "fat" or "stupid" of "ugly"?  If you stop calling yourself that out loud, then your brain will start getting with the program and it MIGHT just stop thinking these things!  The biggest part of my journey has been learning that these words are just unacceptable.  They are unacceptable for me to say to others and even more unacceptable for me to say to myself.  I am more than these words.  You are more than these words.  We have to believe this.  We are worth it.  God made us the way we are.  He loves us.  Our friends and family love us.  Love yourself.  Believe in yourself.  Quit calling yourself names!!

    Faith. Courage. Strength. Change.