Saturday, October 8, 2011

"You are your problem...and you're also your solution."

Hanging out with my dog at our Bears Tailgating Party in October 2008...

...and posing with my sister Katie at the Chicago Marathon Expo in October 2011! What a difference a few years can make!

All right, wasn't too long ago that I resolved to be much better about updating this blog, adding to it at least once a week. Well, four weeks later, you can see how well that turned out :) Maintaining these things is much harder than it looks...but I guess late is better than never!

Since tomorrow is going to be a pretty exciting day (to say the least), I figured it was the perfect time to post something. The title I used comes from the movie "Bridesmaids", which just happens to be one of my favorites. The raunchy, "female version of The Hangover" nature of it might make it difficult to picture it as a starting point for a valuable life lesson, but it has more heart than you might think...which is the sign of a perfect comedy in my book! :) In the movie, Melissa McCarthy's character snaps Kristen Wiig's character into shape with an admirable pep talk that basically ends with this line: "I do not associate with people who blame the world for their problems, because you are your problem...and you're also your solution."

Sound familiar? It certainly does for me, especially when I think back on the way I was living just three short years ago. It is so easy to reach a point of unhappiness that leads you to blame others for your own shortcomings, because after all, if they're the problem, then you can just keep on accusing them of getting in the way as you avoid the real solution. That solution, of course, requires us to acknowledge that if we're miserable, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. The good news is that admitting this is the first step, and from there, it can only get easier to initiate change.

Believe me, I know that's easier said than done. There was a time in my life when I simply didn't want to hear any of this. I was perfectly content blaming everyone aroud me for my weight problems: my family, my school/job responsibilities that got in the way of an ideal workout routine, and so on. Plus, I hated the idea that physical appearances have to matter so much in society. Back then, it was like, okay, would people actually like me better if I was thinner? What kind of people must they be if that is so important to them? Why should I inconvenience myself just to make them happy?

Well, as it turned out, the problem wasn't "those other people" at all--it was me. I hated having to do all my clothes shopping at Lane Bryant, Sears, or other restricted location that carried plus sizes. It was frustrating having to alternate between only two pairs of dress pants and a couple of tops during student teaching, because even if I did spend the time and money to search for more outfits, it hardly seemed worth it. Back pain and soreness in the feet were commonplace, and as I worked with my students at school, it was exhausting to be constantly worried that my weight was the only thing they noticed.

Okay, I'm officially starting to ramble now...sorry about that! With the Chicago Marathon less than 12 hours away, it has me thinking about what it took to get here, and how unbelievably exciting it is to be chasing this new goal. Nearly 45,000 fellow runners will be at that start line in the morning, which is incredible. 45,000 people are running to give back to charities, improve their health, and have some fun in the beautiful city of Chicago. We all have stories to tell--stories about coming back from a low point and learning how to be happy again. In a world where so many situations are completely out of our hands, it is comforting to know that there are so many other things that we can control with a little self-discipline. I have lost 150 pounds in three years, and after making it to the other side of this journey, I can't ever imagine going back. Now it's exciting to set new goals and aspire to do more things that seemed impossible before. To me, that's what the Chicago Marathon is all about--grabbing an opportunity with both hands and being grateful for it when it comes along. Not everyone is necessarily interested in running a marathon in their lifetime, but that isn't the point. The point is that if you find something you truly want to do, but you realize it's going to take a lot of time and patience before it comes to fruition, you're going to accept that as part of the journey. You don't let a little hard work prevent you from doing something absolutely worthwhile, because after all is said and done, there's nothing like enjoying the payoff!

I want to say thank you to everyone who has been reading this blog and offering words of encouragement, either here, on Facebook, or in person. Exactly one year ago, the Chicago Marathon wasn't even something I was remotely interested in, let alone physically prepared to do, so it's still pretty surreal that I actually went through with the training for this. Without the love and encouragement from family, friends, acquaintances, and even complete strangers, I might have backed out a long time ago, which says a lot about the power of motivating somebody else with simply a kind word. It all adds up in the end, and it makes a huge difference as we set out to accomplish what matters most to us.

I will post pictures from the marathon and let you know how it went. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous (if not a little warm), which is always a plus! Happy Columbus Day weekend, and remember...TODAY is ALWAYS the day to stand up and "get 'er done", as they say! We never know for sure if a tomorrow is coming, but one thing's for sure: we have right now!

Question of the Day: What's an example of something you were able to improve upon in your own life when you finally accepted that you were your own solution?

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