I do try to take a moment and appreciate what this holiday is all about. I also think of all my friends that either have or are currently serving in the military. I'm so grateful for the sacrifices so many people have made...not just for themselves, but for all of us. We are so blessed to live in a free country where we can choose how we will live and worship. The independence that the founding fathers and the men and women that serve in the military have provided us with is something we should be aware of and thankful for every day, not just today.So having said all that...you may be wondering if I am just writing a post because it's the 4th of July and it would be the thing to do...or does this have anything to do with strength? As I said earlier, it struck a chord with me when I heard the term "Independence Day" yesterday. I was here at home alone...unhappy. I have had some problem with my eyelids where they are extremely itchy and I woke up to swollen, red eyelids that I wanted to tear off my face. I was uncomfortable and I looked like a weirdo. I hurt my back in the gym a month ago and even though I'm feeling better, it has really set my training back. I've had to lift much less and take A LOT of time off in order to heal. As a result, I feel weaker and slower when I do try to workout. To top it all off, some spammer got my Facebook info on Friday and linked me to a bogus event which resulted in ME getting kicked off Facebook! I tried pleading my case and forwarding the emails that I had received from Facebook saying SOMEONE ELSE had put me on this event, but it didn't matter. I was told that the decision was final. Basically, I was feeling defeated and cut off from the world. I felt like no matter how hard I try...I can't get ahead.
This past week, I had made a concerted effort to do some things that I have needed to do personally and business wise. I'm not what you would call organized or focused so this was hard for me and I was feeling proud of myself...but at that moment as I was lying on my bed with the tears streaming down my face, I wanted to give up. That's what I know. That's what I always use to do. If things got too hard or people hurt me too much, I ran away and took myself out of the game. I felt like for every step I was taking forward, I was getting shoved two steps backward.I got up and looked at a frame that I have on my desk. When I made it, I made two. One for me and one for my friend Wes. It has quotes from Steve Prefontaine and pictures from the 5K we ran together in 2007 before he moved away. I looked to the right and I saw a picture of me and my son, alongside a picture of me as a baby and resting up next to the frame was a laminated piece of paper that simple read "Stay Strong." The TV was on in the background and a commercial came on for an "Independence Day Sale". I heard the word independence and suddenly it meant something more to me.I thought back to how I used to be before I became strong and took control of my body and my life. I didn't feel free or independent back then. I distinctly remember feeling trapped. I felt like a prisoner in a body that wasn't mine. I had limited choices as to what I could wear and do. I wasn't treated equally. All that changed when I made a decision to change. With each change I made and with every 10 lbs I lost and with every bit of muscle that I made...I became more and more free until finally I was able to walk away as a whole new person...me, but better...stronger...and more independent.
I gained something more than just looking good in a bikini though. The year that I worked with my friend was when I truly started to figure out who I was and what I was capable of. He and I still laugh about how unathletic and awkward I was at times. I had to learn that it was okay to fail. I had to learn to laugh at myself and not take everything so seriously, but one thing that I think was the hardest for me to learn, was that when I was uncomfortable, or scared, or frustrated, or mad, or feeling like I couldn't do something...I couldn't run away. For one hour, I was stuck. I was there in the gym or in the parking lot or on a trail or in a warehouse and I HAD to do what I was told to do. THAT...was the life changer for me.I was allowing myself to slip back into those old patterns of thinking and feeling like I had no control...no right to choose. I turned my frame over and looked at the 5 pictures hidden on the back...pictures of my sister's wedding in Cozumel...when I weighed 200 lbs...when I was a prisoner to this very way of thinking. I made a decision. I got up...went to the gym...and began the first day towards working my way back to where I was. I haven't been able to do back squats in over a month because I refused to go down in weight and my back couldn't handle the pressure of what I normally use. After I was done doing work sets of squats, I did work sets of presses...again, much lighter than normal...but it felt good. Even though I wished I could do more, I finally felt in control again. I decided that instead of being off Facebook and feeling disconnected and missing the "Strong is the new skinny" page, I'd start a new page with a new/old name and move forward. Yes, there are connections that I can't get back...pictures that I've lost...and it will take a lot of time to rebuild my page and friends, but at least I'm back moving forward.
On this "Independence Day", I want everyone to take a moment and be thankful for the freedom that we have and then I want you to find something in your life that is holding you back. Find it and get rid of it. It may be a person, or extra weight, or anger, or a fear, or an attitude. Whatever it is, find it and change it. Give yourself the opportunity to truly be free. Start today. Make today a day that every year holds special meaning for you. Make today your own personal "Independence Day".
P.S. YES...that REALLY is ME in the blue dress on the beach in Cozumel at my lil sister's wedding...and YES...I know it's a horrible dress. ;)