Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year, Fresh Start...It's There for the Taking!

It's currently 10:55 in Chicago, and it will soon be time to watch the ball drop in Times Square and kick off 2012! It would be incredible to actually be there someday on December 31st and experience it all firsthand, but for now, watching in HD TV will do just fine!

The great thing about New Year's Eve is that it's a time to feel hopeful, start fresh, put past hurts and mistakes behind us, and move forward with the confidence that "our year" is just ahead. It can be easy to look back on the year that is ending and focus mostly on the negative things that have happened. Since the excitement of the Christmas season has subsided, and many of us are feeling a little depressed about that anyway, it's natural to start concentrating on what you don't have, rather than what you do have. For me personally, I still haven't found a full-time teaching job, which is frustrating to say the least. A lot of friends from grade school, high school, and college have married and started families, which reminds me of how much I want a husband and kids of my own. Despite having been successful on Weight Watchers, there are still days when I wish I was even thinner (ah, yes, don't we all?) I wish my anxiety in general didn't get the best of me in everyday life, and I'd love to just enjoy life more instead of getting annoyed so easily at the littlest, most insignificant things.

The thing is, everybody has moments where they feel a little (or maybe a lot) sorry for themselves, thinking about the negative things and wishing they could change them. That's okay. Really, everyone does it. It could actually be a good thing if, after allowing yourself that "Debbie Downer Time", you switch gears and remember all the positives, too. I may not have a full-time teaching position yet, but I am working part-time in an elementary school and gaining experience working with children. I have a job, period, with enough income to pay my bills, and that is absolutely something to be grateful for in today's world. I ran my first marathon this fall and reached a total of 150 pounds lost. I have a great family, a close relationship with my parents and sisters, and if I happen to marry and have children eventually, that will be awesome...but it's not going to ruin my life if I don't. So many other wonderful things have happened for me so far, like my newfound life as a runner, and heck, if Rosie Krajewski can turn into a runner willingly, then anything is possible! :)

So, to end this post, I will include a quote spoken by Hilary Swank's character in the movie New Years Eve, which seems pretty appropriate for right now. I loved the film's message about life and the attitude that should be adopted as we move into 2012:
"Before we pop the champagne and celebrate the new year...stop and reflect on the year that has gone by. Remember both our triumphs and our missteps, our promises made and broken. The times we opened ourselves up to great adventures or closed ourselves down for fear of getting hurt, because that is what New Years is all about - getting another chance. A chance to forgive, to do better, to do more, to give more, to love more. And stop worrying about what if and start embracing what would be. So when that ball drops at midnight--and it WILL drop--let's remember to be nice to each other, kind to each other. And not just tonight, but all year long."
Have an amazing start to the New Year, everyone! Remember to look back on all the good things from 2011, and as for the not-so-good...well, just put it behind you and make 2012 everything you want it to be! Nobody's stopping you! :)

Question of the Day: What is one thing you look forward to most about the New Year? What's one thing you really want to do/accomplish this year?

Oh, and for the record...looking at this sweet little guy's face is a constant reminder that life is just plain GOOD! God knew what He was doing when He gave us animals :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Here's to a LIFETIME of change!!!

Well, it's been a long time coming--39 months, to be exact. If you go beyond that, though, this day has been on its way for many years, since those days as an awkward, chubby kid with a monstrous love for food.

It all started with this little girl right here. She wasn't horribly obese quite yet, but I guess you could say the signs were always there. When you look at this kid celebrating her 10th birthday at home with her family, would you believe that she was capable of eating raw cookie dough by the package, straight from the freezer? I thought I was pretty good at hiding it from my mother, but I don't think it always worked out that way.

Things had gone from bad to worse for that same girl once she hit this point. She should have known when shopping for a presentable outfit for that wedding was nothing but anger and frustration, and she could only dream of ever fitting into a dress like her friend Leanne's on the far left...

Today, however, is just the beginning of a lifetime for this girl. Despite being the same person on the inside, there is now a personal desire to be healthy that wasn't there before, and hopefully it is here to stay!

Tonight, on Wednesday, December 7, 2011, I officially became a Lifetime Member at Weight Watchers (152.8 pounds lost altogether), and it feels AMAZING!! Looking back on the journey, there came a point where I knew I was experiencing more success than I had in the past, but there was still that nagging feeling that I wouldn't actually get down to the weight that is considered healthy for a person of my height. In fact, I had occasionally mentioned the possibility of eventually getting a note from my doctor that approved me to be a slightly heavier weight than Weight Watchers recommended, and still be able to obtain Lifetime status. It just didn't seem possible that I could make it that far on my own.

To be sure, it's taken a VERY long time to get here, and there have been a lot of difficult moments, but now I can't imagine being anywhere else. I am grateful for so many people who were there along the way, because no matter what we may believe, there is no way we could ever do these things in life by ourselves. I am especially thankful that my family was there the entire time for guidance--specifically my mom, who always seemed to know when to offer gentle words of encouragement, and when to just be completely straightforward. So many times, I wished she would just get off my back about the whole thing, but today, I have a better understanding of the fact that she was doing what any loving, concerned parent would do. It was a rough lesson to learn, and it didn't come quickly or easily. In the end, I appreciate that she--and my entire family--loved me when I was at my heaviest and motivated me to become healthier...because that's something we all deserve to do for ourselves. I am also thankful for Weight Watchers, an incredible weight loss program that teaches its members to view all foods--and I do mean all foods--as part of everyday life, not to be feared or avoided. I have been inspired by every single person who has offered kind words of encouragement, serving as a constant reminder that we should always try to lift each other up when we can.

My goal right now is to maintain my current weight for the rest of December, then pick it back up again in January with the weight loss, and possibly lose another 30 to 40 pounds so I can be at my truly ideal weight. The trick to getting through these long winter months will be switching up my exercise routine a little, trying new things whenever possible, and not being so resistant to change. I am so used to putting a movie or TV show on my iPad and just going to town, but I know it's not realistic to stick with the exact same workout regime every day. I can feel that my body has adjusted to my frequent running patterns, to the point where weight loss has been at a standstill, so hopefully that will improve over time. Today, I tried the elliptical machine and stationary bike for a change, along with more simple walking, and it made a difference. As much as I love running, it feels good to try something new.

Through all of this, I have also learned that countless people out there aspire to lose weight and get healthier, and while many of them are successful, no two stories are exactly alike. Thanks to a part-time work schedule over the past few years, I've been able to concentrate on daily exercise as almost a full-time job. That's a situation that obviously will not last for the long term, but it came at a time in my life where I could really use that focus, and I will never, ever regret it. What worked for me may not work for others, though, and when real life gets in the way, we show the world what we're made of by simply lifting our heads up and getting it done.

Take Jason Maxwell, for instance. I came across his blog when he posted it to the Chicago Marathon message board on Facebook, and it has definitely been inspiring. He has lost 140 pounds (and counting) since January 2011, and he also happens to have a wife, three kids, and a full-time job. People like him are proof that having a family and busy schedule is no excuse to give up on doing something positive for your health. When Jason made it a priority to change his eating habits and drop the weight, he made it happen, despite any obstacles that were in the way. That's how it is for all of us, because honestly, "the perfect time" is never going to just come. The key is creating the time, and making the most of the time we have to do these things that are important. When I heard Jason's story, I thought to myself, three years ago, what if I had a husband, a few kids, a house, a full time teaching job, and an overall more hectic life than I have right now? Would I still have been able to lose 150 pounds in the same time frame? Would I have felt motivated to do so, or would I have continued to make excuses? I guess we'll never know the answers to questions like this when we ask ourselves.

 One thing's for sure--I admire people in Jason's position who find a way to achieve that. His circumstances were completely different than mine when he started his own weight loss journey, but we somehow reached the same place, and we both continue to look for opportunities to get healthier. On some days, we just don't feel like being productive, which is why it is so helpful to get a new perspective. Find inspiration from someone else who may have similar goals in mind, and use their accomplishments to possibly fine-tune your own aspirations for the future. It really does work! If you want to read Jason's blog, it is

Question of the Day: Do you know of any specific success stories from others who have inspired you personally? If you can (and if those people don't mind), feel free to post their stories, blog addresses, etc... We all love the opportunity to get inspired :)