Sunday, September 9, 2012

The "H" Word

Well, most of us have heard of the "F" word and even the "L" word but you might be wondering, what is the "H" word?  Well, for me, it's happiness.  Lately, I've found myself pondering what happiness means to me.  Yes, there's a definition out there but I think most of us can agree that happiness means different things to different people.  I used to think being a certain weight would make me happy.  And that being a certain weight would bring X, Y, and Z and all those together would equal happiness.  Boy, was I wrong.

I guess I should take a minute here and warn you, my dear reader (how few of you there are), and say this won't be the happiest of posts.  But I never promised sunshine and rainbows, just reality.  Sadly, my reality is currently grim.  Grim in the sense that if you were to ask me what would make me happy, I don't know that I'd be able to give you an answer.  Every answer that jumps to mind are outward things that I've tried obtaining or accomplishing only to find that inside, I still felt a void.  For example, being smaller.  Having a boyfriend.  Making more money at my job (or, better yet, having a different job).  Being debt-free.  Well, I tried being smaller...and that didn't give me the happiness (or the relationship) I craved.  Making more money?  Well, that would certainly give me more choices but would it buy me happiness?  I don't think so.  To quote a famous rapper, "mo' money, mo' problems."  Though I wouldn't mind testing out that theory myself, lol.  Debt-free?  Oh, that would be nice.  I'd certainly have more financial freedom to travel, for example.  Traveling makes me happy but alas, it may be a temporary high since I'd eventually have to return to my reality.  

My goal is to be happy in my current state.  In my all physical and financial glory.  To accept myself.  I guess that's what would make me happy.  To look in the mirror and not think of every thing I DON'T have but to relish in what I do have.  Outside of needing to lose weight, I am relatively healthy (although, I'm not fooling myself into thinking that will always be the case if I don't make some changes).  I have a roof over my head, family and friends that love and care for me, a job that allows me to pay the bills with some money to spare, two lovable bets (as much as they can be a pain in my ass sometimes, lol), a car that gets me from Point A to Point B without issues, I've seen places other people have dreamed about, and of course, all the little things like being able to see, hear, walk, talk, and just be independent.

So why aren't I happy?  I think it's just easy for us to focus on the negative.  Well, it's easy for me.  Negative self-talk?  I've got that down!  Positive affirmations?  Hmmm...let me work on those.  It's possible I judge myself harsher than anyone else ever could or does and I wish that weren't the case.  You may be thinking, well, just change your way of thinking!  I'd like to tell you it's that easy but just as these bad habits didn't form overnight, good ones also don't.  It has to be a conscious effort on my part and I must admit, I have a terrible habit of getting into prolonged lazy spells (currently in one now, hence my long overdue blog post).  Yes...I am my own worst enemy.  All I can say is I never completely give up.  Maybe it looks that way but inside, I am fighting a constant battle and that's got to count for something, right?  Good triumphs over evil and all that?  Let's hope so.  Finally writing this blog entry is certainly a step in the right direction...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Emotional Rollercoaster

I had a different post practically ready to go for this week's edition but decided it may be best left for another time.  The goal (well, one of many really) of this blog is to be nothing short of real.  I'm not always going to be my own biggest cheerleader.  Sometimes, I will share my moments of self-doubt.  That is, after all, part of being a work in progress.  In fact, I don't really believe that I can entirely eliminate the self-doubt.  I think that I just have to wade through it somehow, even when I don't feel like it.

This week, I thought I'd touch on why I am back here to begin with.  And, yes, you guessed wasn't because I became physically incapable of keeping the weight off or I had an injury that prevented me from working out, no.  When I started this journey back in late 2004, my heart wasn't in it at first.  I was actually motivated to begin by the show, The Biggest Loser.  That may have been the year it began so then I began once again.  I even joined a gym and I remember I, as a new member of said gym, was entitled to a free fitness assessment.  I really didn't need a test to tell me that I needed to lose weight, that I was in terrible shape (or no shape at all really) but I signed up for it anyway and that was the day that I met a man who would change my life, my soon-to-be-trainer, Ian.  I was really excited about my new was pretty fahn-cy (I hope you're hearing that in a British accent because I am saying it in one as I write this).  It had three pools, a wet sauna, a dry sauna, more machines than you could imagine, it was open 24 hours....the list goes on and on.  It truly excited me to go there for my workouts.  Having a trainer (and a cute one at that, ahem) didn't hurt either.  But in all seriousness, he was one of my biggest cheerleaders and he pushed me when I needed it.

But as I first, I wasn't 100% into it.  I was doing the workouts but not really following a food plan strictly (Weight Watchers, if you want to know).  In spite of that, because I was so heavy and doing so many workouts, I still lost weight (in fact, my first week's weigh-in resulted in over a ten pound loss, albeit most of that is usually water weight).  That was what really motivated me to do it correctly (not perfectly but better than I had been doing it).  It took me less than a year to lose 100 pounds (if you want specifics, my first weigh in was November 2, 2004 and I hit 100 lost by June 2005).  Actually, as I did the research to acquire that information, I find myself shocked and impressed by former self.  From then on, it was up and down for a long time.  In September 2005, my mother suffered a stroke.  Talk about an emotional derailment.  I hit my lowest sometime in early-to-mid-2006 (keep in mind I started a new job in March 2006).  At first, I actually made the commute from my new job to my wonderful gym even though it was totally out of the way.  During the rest of that year, I did a number of things.  I quit the gym.  I started and then stopped seeing a therapist for my emotional eating/body issues.  And I decided to go back to school.  Actually, it was that decision that motivated me to stop seeing my therapist...time and money.

I had to give you some history so that you understand something.  I lost OVER ONE HUNDRED POUNDS and I still wasn't happy.  Something was wrong.  I felt like I should have been feeling over the moon but I wasn't.  Losing that weight didn't solve my problems.  The only problem it solved was being overweight/obese physically.  Mentally, I was still the fat girl.  There was a hole in me (still there, really) that had not been filled.  And I'm gonna say it...I was still single.  I didn't magically get asked out on dates just because my physical self had gone through such a transformation.  I even had the lady balls (yes, I just said that) to approach my "gym crush" and he shot me down).  It was a blow.  I know no one likes rejection but considering my (unrealistic) expectations at the time, I was blown away in the worst way.  

The emotional rollercoaster of losing weight has always been the most trying part of the journey.  I don't always eat because I am hungry.  I eat because I am bored, lonely, "forever alone", sad, feeling rejected, or because I just plain hate myself.  They're not pretty reasons but they're real ones that I need to face head on so that I make this journey successful FOR LIFE.  Losing weight can only be for me.  I can't lose it so that someone other than my family or friends will love me or so that my latest crush will ask me out on a date.  And I can't lose it and expect my life to magically change overnight.  I have to continually work on ME...every aspect of me.  

This week, I will end my post with a quote:  

"Never give up because you never know if the next try is going to be the one that works."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Start, New Blog

Okay, so I never had an old blog but now is as good a time as any to start one.  This can combine many of my loves:  I love to write.  I love to journal my feelings (okay, maybe I don't love it but it's a helpful life tool), and I love to help people (and if this helps one person, that's all I need).

Actually, if I started a blog for every time I made a fresh start, I'd have a hell of a lot of blogs with few posts.  So why is it different this time?  I don't know yet.  But hey, maybe the fact that I've never started a blog before associated with a new start....maybe there's something to that.  Writing is cathartic for me (and so is listening to music, crying, and venting as needed).  And who knows, at any time during the writing of this blog, I may be crying while listening to some sad music as I write a vent-filled post!  Okay, I might just be rambling now....

What motivated this blog was me embarking on yet another journey to weight loss.  I've had several and they've involved a wide variety of methods from the healthy to the not-so-healthy.  I've taken pills (both over-the-counter and prescribed), I've done low carb/no carb, and I've counted points.  Actually, I still count points (Weight Watchers for those not familiar).  I guess when I look back on that seemingly small list, I think, that can't be it!  It's just that I've stopped and started and stopped and started so many times, I've really lost count.  I don't consider myself an expert and I can only comment on what has and has not worked for me.  And also, what I am and am not willing to try.  For example, I am not willing to have any kind of surgery to lose weight.  In all my years - and sadly, most of them at an unhealthy weight - I just never wanted that to be the answer.

"How'd you lose the weight?"

"Surgery."  :-/

I've lost hundreds, maybe even thousands, of pounds over the years and I have gained them back (not proud of that but I can own up to what I've done to myself) and what has brought me the most success is this:

Eating less.
Exercising more.

Wow, what a concept, right?  You can reduce your carb intake if you want, cut out the processed stuff, watch fat and calories...whatever!  But at the end of the day, ask yourself this:  are you burning more than you take in and can you do this for life?  Are you making HABIT CHANGES?  This isn't about what you're willing or able to do to lose 20, 40, 60, 80, 100 pounds or more.  This is about what you're willing to do to KEEP THAT WEIGHT OFF.  I can say from personal experience that even though I lost weight the correct/healthy way, there were other things going on with me mentally that I let get in the way because I did not deal with them (more on that in other posts).  I'm nowhere near cured of this mental stuff but I learned a very hard lesson by gaining all my weight back and then some.  I am a work in progress.

And as a work in progress, I've decided that one very important thing I need to not be lazy about is exercising.  Back when I ventured on what would be my journey to over 100 pounds lost, I joined a fancy new gym in my town, Lifetime Fitness.  The location I went to was conveniently located on my route home from work so I couldn't make any excuses.  I joined and almost immediately began working with a personal trainer (a man who literally changed my life).  It was a long journey but I lost a hell of a lot of weight.  I spent hours and hours and hours every week working out.  It was an obsession, honestly.  I wasn't perfect.  I mean, I remember my trainer asking me at first why I wasn't losing and I would just play dumb when in fact I knew it was because I was eating like shit.

Anyway, the point is things changed for me in 2006.  I got a new job and it was on another side of town (way out of the way of my awesome gym that I loved).  Then in early 2007, I went back to school and so a new life of working full-time and practically going to school full-time began and would continue until graduation in May 2011.  Along the way, I stopped and started many more times, including canceling my membership to Lifetime, rejoining a new location close to my new job (at more than double what I was paying before because it was some kind of "deluxe" location), canceling that membership, and then joining 24 Hour Fitness (and oh, gaining all that weight back).  I really can't remember how long I was a member there but it didn't last long.  As lame as this may sound, I was just not excited about going there to workout (and I was when I went to's just the price at the second location was ludicrous).  So I did what had sadly become my thing....I quit.

But as of August 2012, I am a proud new member of a NEW gym (okay, new to me): LA Fitness.  Actually, the strange thing is I joined online before I ever set foot in the club and yesterday was my first workout there.  Already, I am in love.  It has every amenity I love (whether or not I may use it all the time) and I have a location conveniently located to my work AND home - what more could a girl ask for?  Even though I am excited about my new gym, I do know one thing...I'm never going to LOVE working out.  I might like it fine some days but most days, I will dread it and try to excuse myself out of going but I have to persevere.  Nothing worth having comes easy.  Cliche?  So's true, especially when it comes to weight loss.

I think this is a good stopping point for my first post.  If you've made it this far, thank you!  You must find my ramblings really interesting OR you're a dear friend of mine who promised to read what I wrote....either way, thank you!  This actually is a little daunting as I will, at times, be laying out my innermost thoughts for you to read but hey, like I said, if you find any solace in them, great!

Let the journey begin.....