Sunday, October 30, 2011

...tHe bEsT woRsT tHiNg tHaT eVeR haPPeNenD tO mE...

It was two years ago, on the last day of my vacation. I put on my bikini...grabbed my ipod...and headed for the ocean barefoot...ready to take my last walk that summer on the beach by myself. The wind was blowing my hair and the sun was really warm on my shoulders. Most people either come to the island or leave the island on Saturdays. We stayed an extra day, so it was a Sunday. People were spending their first day on the beach and I noticed the difference in the way it felt. There was an excitement in the air. It was the first time kids were digging in the sand...the first time umbrellas were being put up...beach toys looked new and clean...most people looked like they could use a tan. It felt good...but it was also a bittersweet moment. While everyone was so happy and excited...I was feeling regret over the fact that my time...was gone.

I was walking along with the sand in my in my ears and the ocean washing over my feet every time the tide washed in. I was deep in thought when I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look and there were three men standing a little further in...the water was probably up to their knees. They were drinking beer...talking...staring at someone intently. I looked behind one was there...checked both sides...still no one there...and then I realized that it was ME that they were staring at. When I looked back over...they were smiling and I smiled back as I continued to walk. One said, "Hey, how's it goin?" I turned my head their direction, smiled again, and said "Everything is great!"...never stopping. I heard one say to the other, "Damn! This is gonna be a GOOD week!" and I kind of laughed to myself.

I walked a little further...noticing people noticing me. It was strange. I stopped...and walked a little further out to stand for a minute or two. As I stood there, I thought about how very grateful I am to be the person that I have become. I am grateful to be in the best physical shape of my life. I feel and look better than I did at 25 (minus the wrinkles around my eyes). I am stronger than I have ever been...both physically and mentally. I grew up never liking who I was...never feeling pretty...never feeling good enough...never feeling like I was good at anything. I didn't like who I was...which was part of what led me to the place I was at my lowest...200 lbs...hating myself...sad...and hopeless.The journey I took over the year it took me to lose 70 lbs...the people that I met along the way...and the years that have come and gone since have changed every way. I feel like the old me died and a new me was born. I am still haunted by the ghost of who I use to be from time to time. Some days I look in the mirror and I see the old me in my reflection, but I actually can say I like myself now. I will always struggle, but I want to learn to love myself and see myself as others do.

I watched the water and the pelicans diving for breakfast and thought back on the time when I let myself go and fell into such a dark place. I have so many painful memories of that time. I was thinking that in many ways, it was one of the worst things that happened to me...and then it occurred to me. Maybe that was not the worst thing that happened to me. I believe that in many ways it may have been the best thing that ever happened to me. I truly feel that in the past 8 years, I have become the person that I was always meant to be. I have grown and learned things about myself...knocked down walls and faced fears...made some of the best friends I've ever had...and learned what it is that I want to do with my life. At that moment, I came to the realization that gaining and losing the weight, was the best worst thing that ever happened to me. I turned to walk back towards our villa, but I no longer felt sad...I felt thankful...thankful for the time I had in my favorite place doing what I like with people I love...and thankful to be who I am...not by nature or the grace of God...but through my own efforts.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

...aSk nOt foR a LigHteR buRdEn...

Sometimes in life, it can feel as though the task we face and the burden we have to carry are too much. We can always wish for lighter burdens or choose to give up...or...we can work towards broader shoulders that are more capable of carrying the heavy load. This applies to life in general AND in the gym.

You can take it easy, or you can continually push yourself towards more. So what if you can't lift the weight. Keep trying and eventually you will. So what if you finish last. Someday you won't, but you'll never know that if you quit. It may not happen as quickly as you would like...but it WILL eventually happen. You will be stronger and have those "broader shoulders"...capable of more. You will have the confidence and ability to take on any task and face any burden that comes your way.

ANYBODY can complain. ANYBODY can give up at the first sign of discomfort. Don't be just more. Be somebody that stands out...a bright spot in an otherwise dark situation. In the words of Jim Rohn, "Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better."

Monday, October 24, 2011

...LiKe mOtHeR...LiKe dAuGhTeR...

"As moms, we set the tone in teaching our girls about appearance and what it means." ~from the book "You'd Be So Pretty If..."

Most of us would never tell our daughters that they look fat or that their nose is too big or that we wished they looked like someone else...but how many times have we said these things about OURSELVES in front of our daughters. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I know I have...many times. It's a terrible habit that I've had practically my whole life. I was never happy with my weight or my appearance and if I am honest...there are many times that I still struggle.

I grew up in a house with a Mom that was overweight most of my life. It seemed like she made fun of herself or put herself down constantly. She was always telling us girls that we didn't want to grow up and be fat like her, and she was extremely sensitive about her appearance. It has always made me sad that my Mom says she is fat and ugly and dumb. I always wanted my Mom to fix herself up and feel pretty. I wanted her to lose weight and be healthy. I wanted her to feel smart, but mostly I wanted to feel proud to say "This is my Mom." and have her be confident in herself.

I don't constantly say I'm dumb and I have worked very hard to NOT be a sensitive as my Mom was and still is. I am the first one to laugh at my short comings and I can take a joke pretty well, but when it comes to my appearance...I am very critical of myself. I nitpick and worry about every last detail and being a very vocal person without much of a filter...many times I will say things in front of my kids that I should not say. "I feel fat." "I hate my nose and wish I could get a nose job." "I look gross today." "Why are people staring at me? Do I look bad?" etc etc etc.

Writing is interesting for me because when I blurt these things out...I don't think another thing about it. But seeing these things written out, makes me feel embarrassed and regretful. I remember once standing in front of my mirror. I was all fixed up for the day complete with hair, makeup, accessories, and high heels. I stopped to make one final look so I could make sure everything was just as I wanted it to be...perfect. I got a disgusted look on my face and said, "Ugh. Somedays I just feel so fat and ugly." under my breath. I turned and my daughter, Savanna, was standing there. She was in that awkward stage...13 and braces...not a child, but far from being a woman. She looked at me and then I saw her look at herself in the mirror. She sucked in her tummy and smoothed her shirt...fixed her hair and made a confused face. She looked at me and looked at herself. My kids love me and look up to me. They are always telling me how pretty I am and want to do things like me. I could tell what she was thinking..."If you are 'fat and ugly'...what am I?"

As soon as I saw her face, I felt really bad. Before I could say anything, she said, "Mommy, please don't say that! You are so pretty and skinny!" I regretted saying those things in front of her that day and I apologized and told her she was right, but what just struck me as I wrote this, is that I say "I regretted saying those things IN FRONT OF HER." when in reality, I should regret saying them to MYSELF as well!

Being a mother is the most important job a woman will ever do. With that job, comes great responsibility...responsibility that does not end when our kids are grown. I've often said, that the moment I had life ceased to be my own. The choices we make and the things we say have a direct result on the way our children not only see us as mothers, but themselves as well. We have to work every day to BE the positive influence that we want for our children. They watch everything we do, whether we want to believe that or not. The next time you want to say something mean about or to yourself...ask yourself this question..."Would I want my daughter to say this about herself?" I bet if we all did that, the way we treat ourselves and the example we set would vastly improve!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

...rEaCh aNd gRoW...

I still vividly remember the first time I attempted to climb a rope as an adult. I was 39 years old, but I felt like I was 11. I was instantly taken right back to 6th grade. I still remember the detached gym building at my elementary school and all the kids standing in a circle as we each took turns attempting to climb the rope. The anxiety I felt was so great. I HATED the rope climb because I never could get to the top. I always felt like such a loser. I wished I could be more like the kids that seemed to climb right up and down with ease. I stood there...looking up...bracing myself for the embarrassment...hating it as much as I did all those years ago.

It took me a few tries...but my surprise...I made it up to the top and back down. I felt surprised and happy and proud. Even though no one from my 6th grade P.E. class saw me...I felt like I had finally redeemed myself...finally proven myself. As I drove home smiling, I thought about what got me up that rope now. Why was I able to get to the top of a rope with no knots as an adult and I couldn't get past the first knot as a child.

It didn't take long for me to answer my own question. Sure, I was stronger. I had been working out intensely for years, but I believe it was something more that just physical. I was scared, but I had learned to conquer my fears in the gym. I learned over the years that if I failed, it didn't mean that I hated the task and went on to something else. It meant I needed to keep trying...over and over and over again...until I accomplished my task. I learned to believe that I could do it.

In the time since then, I've learned that when I set goals, work hard, believe in myself, and refuse to give up...eventually I am able to do things that I once only dreamed I could. Look at the things that you may be struggling with...whether it's pull ups or climbing a rope or lifting a certain amount of weight. Stop making excuses and telling yourself, "I can't." Visualize yourself doing these things and don't ever give up. It took me a year and a half to get pull-ups and 28 years before I could climb a rope. Had I quit...had I not believed that I could...I never would've experienced the joy I felt the day I touched the ceiling as I hung on that rope. Keep reaching...even when it seems impossible...because when you refuse to stop reaching...that's when you grow!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I've said it so many times over the past year..."Why can't anything just be easy?!?" Lately, it has felt like I have met resistance of some kind no matter what I do. It's like trying to run with the wind blowing against you. I get mad sometimes. Other times, I feel sorry for myself. It doesn't happen every day, but there have been days where I find myself wishing for a break...hoping things will get easier...praying that some of the resistance will go away.

When I came across the picture above, I liked it and saved it on my computer. This morning as I was looking through some of my collection of inspirational quotes and pics...I came back across this. helped give me a little different view of my life and the struggles and resistance that I have been facing.

Anyone that has studied exercise or training has heard the term Resistance Training. Resistance training is a form of strength training. In Resistance Training, effort is performed against an opposing force that is generated by resistance that can include being pushed, squeezed, or bent. According to the American Sports Medicine Institute, the goal of resistance training is to "gradually and progressively overload the musculoskeletal system so it gets stronger". It has been proven that resistance training done regularly will tone and strengthen muscles and also increase bone mass. To get the full benefit from resistance training, full range of motion is very important. It's important because the muscle overload only happens at the specific angles where the muscle is working, so if a person stops short or quits too soon...they will not reach that angle and thus not get the full benefit that they would have had they gone all the way.
I hate when I'm running...especially uphill...and the wind is blowing hard against me. I feel like I am exerting so much energy only to be pushed backward or make very slow progress. But...if I just continue to run and push a little harder...I ALWAYS eventually get to where I was headed. Many times, the next day, I am more sore because my muscles had to work harder against the resistance from the wind to keep propelling me forward. It hurts but I always feel a greater sense of accomplishment, and I do believe that those days make me a better stronger runner. Anyone can run when the weather is right and they feel great and the road is flat, but it takes something more to run uphill with the wind blowing against you.

Resistance Training can apply not just in the gym or on a running trail, but also in our lives in general. Just as the resistance training we do in the gym builds stronger, larger, more toned muscles...the resistance we face in life can build a stronger will and a larger, better developed character. The key is "full range of motion". If you stop halfway in the gym or on a windy path...because it hurts or because you think you can't do will not have the same adaptation and results as you will if you continue to push against that resistance until you have gone all the way and stressed the muscles at the desired angle. Similarly, if we give up in life and stop...because we are tired or sad or frustrated...we will not experience the opportunity for growth that is possible when we come across resistance.

I'm trying to learn to welcome resistance in my everyday life the same way I welcome it in the look at it as an opportunity for growth...not an obstacle. None of us will escape facing resistance from time to time. What separates us, is how we choose to meet that resistance. Don't give up. Don't let the weight hold you down or the wind push you back. Fight against it. Whether you push back with equal or greater force and grow stronger, or whether you allow it to hold you down is up to YOU.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

...bE goLdEn...

"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful." ~Barbara Bloom

In life, we will all suffer "damage" in one way or another. For some, the damage is greater than others. However, it sometimes seems as though the people in life that have suffered the most, seem to deal with their challenges or make something good come out of them better than those of us that are facing small challenges in comparison. Maybe that's because it's harder to feel like small everyday events or setbacks can be shaping us. We see them as annoyances or excuses to complain, rather than an opportunity to change and become stronger in some way.

I believe that everything we do...every decision we make...has a serious impact on the quality and direction of our lives. Because of that, it's important to learn from everything we do and to have an attitude of humility. If we are not humble, we are not teachable. If we are not teachable, we cannot move forward.

No matter the challenge you are facing...whether it's serious or changing or an inconvenience...whether it's in the gym or in your everyday life...allow it to help you grow and become better and stronger. Use the challenges you face like the Japanese use gold. Every time you face a setback or some sort of damage to your body or in your life, visualize making that damage stronger with gold. Allow challenges to make your experience and your life more beautiful and more valuable. See everything as a golden opportunity to better yourself, rather than an excuse to quit!