The Cruelty of Success

I keep saying it.  The last four years now have been a blessing.  I have been lifted out of darkness and life is so beautiful now.  For a friend, I’m going to say this.  Life is *A*MAZING!

SO many people have said–Wow you look great.  You still are big. But, you look great.  What does that mean exactly? In my eyes I am so much smaller than what I once was.  I’m not 589 pounds anymore.  I’m NOT.. So how can I still be big?? I’ve lost well over 300 pounds.  How can I still be BIG? My inches are going down. The weight is going down.  The clothes sizes are going down.  I still wear big shirts to cover up.  Cover up what you ask? The cruelty of success-Loose skin.  SO let me warn you–It isn’t pretty!

I am so frustrated by it.  I work out, feel strong. My arms are solid.  I look at the body builders in the gym and look at their arms.  I smile knowing some of the ladies have NOTHING on me……. But, yet they are in their tank tops showing off what they have worked so hard for.  Yes I can show what I worked hard for via my shrinking self.  Can I show off my arms? I am so proud of how defined they are.  I am so proud of the muscle definition.  I’m so proud there is not an ounce of fat left in them.  Yet my friends–The skin. The loose skin is over whelming.  When I take off my shirt I see my well defined arms, yet I also see what looks to me like a coat.  We all have our worries with our bodies.  But what do you do when your bodies just don’t fit you anymore?

It is so frustrating.  I still am hiding every inch of me.  I want to feel good about all my work.  *I* DO!!!!! But, I want to *FEEL* good about it.  Now, I have been talking to so many people who have started their weight loss path and they are worried about loose skin.  I didn’t worry about it at first.  It hasn’t been until the last year that it bothers me so much.  I hate what I see when I see my body.  It is a constant reminder of the darkness I lived in.  It is a constant reminder of how much I hated myself.  Someone asked me last week if the weight loss is worth it? Strangely I asked myself that on Tuesday.  I am going to yell this (as loud as you can in a blog) IT IS WORTH EVERY OUNCE OF SWEAT.  My life is so much better now.  I can walk in the mountains.  I can hike (I will get stronger at it).  I am not trapped in my house waiting for night to come so I can go shopping without getting gawked at.  Okay I still get looked at to some degree, but I am so much stronger and more confident that I can go shopping whenever I want.

Everyone has body image issues. Loose skin for someone that was morbidly obese and is nearing normal is a brutal reality.  It is something people don’t talk about, because it isn’t pretty.  There is hope.  I know in my future I will find a way to have plastic surgery.  I know that I can show off my hard work then.  I will have scars.  To me they will be beautiful reminders of the light that was brought back into my life.  I love myself now, I love the people around me who confronted me in the first place, and I know they love me too.  Most importantly I know that God has loved me in the darkness and out of the darkness.  I see the light and the direction for my life .

Tonight–I see the strength in my arms.  I felt them too (OUCH, thanks Matt Ellison). I see the beauty of well defined arms.  Yet, I also see the loose skin.  It is apart of me. I am working out and changing daily. I am thankful for my journey, as it has taught me so much.  I see the beauty of the muscle, and I imagine the outline of what my arms will look like.  For now, I am stuck with a reminder of my past.  Again I want to make this clear, *I* DO NOT REGRET a moment of every day I have spent in the gym, every ounce of sweat that I have left on the floor, or out route at the 3Day, and every step I have taken to get stronger physically and mentally.

Tonight I celebrate the loose skin as a blessing NOT A CURSE.  It is something that will be removed.  It is temporary.  Tonight I celebrate the hard work. Thanks to my trainer Matt Ellison–When I met you my upper body was broken down, and I could barely lift much of anything. Now I see my strength, inside and out.  Thank you for your counsel.  So tonight I am going to show off my arms, and the reminder of where I was. This is the cruelty of success truly.  But also the vision of hope of how wonderful It WILL be soon enough.  If you are losing weight and wondering if the loose skin will be an issue?? WHO cares.  FINISH–GET STRONGER–LOVE YOURSELF–TRUST IN GOD–Believe that all things are possible.  When you finish, worry then.  But only then.

Am I? Or am I not shrinking?

Weight loss is—Important–

Weight loss is—Essential to live the life I want to live–

Weight loss is—The hardest thing I have done in my life–

Weight loss is FRUSTRATING!!!!!!!

I am 3 years into a journey that has taken me to new highs and new lows.  It pushes me to want to finish strong, yet finishing strong just seems so hard.  I am on track, I am working out, I am walking, and eating right more often than not.  So why is it so hard to see progress?

In weight loss you are focused on numbers.  Initially I weighed myself every other day. I measured myself every week.  I was so big.  I could never really see the changes.  It gets frustrating because you want to be done, you want to be seen for who you are becoming.  It took me 2 years to be able to see that I didn’t look like my original photo.  The games your mind plays on you.

I actually stopped weighing myself and just went to inches.  It is cool to say I used to be 72 inches around..(I was as wide as I am tall).  Now I am 49 inches at my widest.  I went to measuring because when you work out and give it all you have and either stay stagnant or only lose a pound it upsets you.  However, when you see you’ve lost a half an inch, well… THAT is a big deal!  I also started to take a facial picture every week.  I can scroll through those to see changes.  It gives me hope that I can and will get to and reach my goal.

So what is next for me? Patience.  I have to keep doing what I am doing. I can’t feel pushed to finish or pulled back into bad habits. I need to keep working towards finishing my goals.   I noticed in the last few days my thoughts constantly going to I just want to be done.  I don’t see enough change, I don’t see enough progress, I want more.. This morning I had to really refocus.  This is not about quick, this is not about short cuts, this is about losing a LOT of weight in a safe manner.  This is about losing a LOT of weight in a way that my body lets me.  I am not a victim of slow weight loss, I am at fault for allowing myself to get so big.  It will take time for me to turn around the damage that I did to myself. Do I always have patience? No I have every reason to want it to hurry up.  But in reality I am trapped in what my body will give me. Though—–I am learning patience and have been for 4 years.  I just wish I didn’t have to be so patient sometimes. <Laughing>

I wanted to mention an email I received from Derek in Canada.  He contacted me about what it will take to turn his life around.  I emailed him back, and was encouraged by his response.  He had a day off and felt so good about wanting to change he cleaned up his house.  You know, weight loss is also about caring about yourself again.  Caring about how you look, caring about your outward appearance and how people see you.  The more I lose, the more I notice I want my clothes to fit better, I want my hair to look better, I want to show off the work I am doing.  Derek, keep working on yourself. I know you can and will achieve your goals with time and patience!! Work on your own N.E.W.S.T.A.R.T.!

So–Am I shrinking? Is there a difference?? Am I doing it fast enough? Soon enough? Is it worth it?  You be my judge.

Me Now

589 Pounds

Invisible Me

I was pondering how to address this topic.  I know this is something that really bothers me more than anything that I have gone through.  You would think that the weight is the hardest thing to deal with when losing weight.  Yet, it isn’t.

For me overcoming judgement has and is the hardest thing I do everyday.  When I first started my journey at 589 pounds, I decided I needed to go to the gym.  This coming from someone who hid.  If I needed to shop, I would do it at 11pm at night, because I didn’t want to be seen.  I didn’t want to be stared at.  I didn’t want to be judged.  Yes, I know a lot of that is within me.  But, a lot of it is real.  I am 6′ tall, and I was 589 pounds. Oh yes, don’t forget I was 72″ around at my widest.  That is a BIG lady.  That is someone that garners attention.  I get it to a degree.  I felt like I was a one woman freak show.

So when I went to the gym, I had a swim suit that covered me from my knee’s to my arms.  It looks like a wet suit… I walked into the gym in sweats, and a hoodie. I would zip the hoodie up, put the hat on, and pull the strings. NO one could see me.. I’d punch into the gym and walk as quickly as I could to the locker room, then the pool. Never looking anyone in the eye.  To me. I was invisible.  If I couldn’t see people staring, then they weren’t.  This is how I shopped, head down, never looking at anyone, never talking to anyone.  I didn’t want to be seen.  I was invisible.

So what happens when you start to lose weight? Your body starts to change.. You feel better about yourself.. Yet you’ve made yourself invisible. That is another mental part of weight loss.  Now you have killed your confidence, you can’t look at people, and you are afraid to connect and lose the ability to communicate effectively.

One of the best things to happen to me was hiring Matt Ellison as my trainer. Initially when I started working with him.  You work out in the middle of the gym where everyone can see you.  I would look around and see eyes.  My head would go down and I would start to have panic attacks.  My trainer would get closer to me, get my eyes to his and say “Look, it is just you and I here. Nothing to worry about. Lets get this done.”  A lot of my struggles with the exercises initially were simply panic attacks.  I was so afraid people were watching.

Yet when I worked with Matt, he’d often yell, head up, eyes forward.  I didn’t know then the impact he was having on me.  It was about connecting to the people in the gym.  It was about SEEING people, and being seen.  I credit that with allowing me to be able to put myself more out in the public eye.  Yes, even walking the 3Day 60 mile walk in 2009 didn’t push me, like working out in the middle of the gym did.

Now when I walk around a store, my head is up and my eyes are forward. I see people, and I know I am being seen.  I’m getting stronger about that.  But, when I go to new places, or when I do new things.  This is where those internal voices come back, they prey on my weakness.  My worries about being judged. This is where the panic comes into play.  I have tendency to find my head  down a little more then my “new” usual.  I struggle to talk to people, or when I do I talk really fast.  I’m nervous, and I am constantly looking for my way to escape.  I become really shy.  YES me, really shy.

Socially right now, I am learning how to react and interact with people. Sometimes I feel like I am doing good, and other days I feel like the world is closing in on me.  When you see someone who is bigger.  Understand that they, just like you feel horrible when they are judged.  Just simply say hi with a smile. Don’t judge people for where it looks like they are in their life.  You may never know the truth.  It could be a woman who has lost 300 pounds and has about 60ish to go, and is just trying to get her body back.  Or a man who has lost 300 and is just trying to figure out how to live his life well after being successful in his own journey.

You all know the old saying, don’t judge a book by the cover . Let me tell you this books pages have so much to give.  Yet the cover is still a little scuffed up.  I will be rebound, but I will never look at people the same way again. In this way my invisible life has been the greatest gift ever given to me, however it is also the hardest lesson I have ever learned.

Luke 6:37-42

 

Happiness

Hello readers.  I realize that it has been awhile since I have blogged.  I’ve been caught in finding time.  A lot is going on in my life, and the weight is still coming off.  I still have weight to lose, but I know I will.  I have surrounded myself with amazing people and I know with their encouragement and support that I will finish.  For me of course, and all those that have been cheering.

So I wanted to touch a subject that I think is so very relevant to weight loss.  That is happiness.  So many people in life are looking for happiness.  When I weighed 589 pounds, I wasn’t very happy.  I was so lost in life.  There were days that were happy, and things that I did that made me happy.  When I look back at my happiness, it was typically when I was at work helping my co-workers or when I was at home helping my Mom. Those were the things that made me happy.

People ask me if food made me happy then? I didn’t know how to answer until recently.  No it didn’t make me happy at all.  It was selfish to eat the way I did.  It was selfish to sit on a couch and not really move and watch TV.  Think about it?  To sit on the couch and watch TV, you are not out meeting people.  You aren’t talking to people.  You are just sitting there deep in your own thoughts.

I really started to think about what makes me happy after February.  For those of you who don’t know me, that is when I helped a gentleman who was being attacked by dogs.  In the process got attacked myself.  Someone asked me did it make me happy to help the man? No, it didn’t make me happy to help him. But, I did feel happy knowing he was okay.  He was hurt, but the dogs didn’t take his life. I was happy that I could do something.

It really hit me hard at that point.  Happiness is not something that is about me.  It is something that is given to me when I give back to others.  I am happy when I can give my nephew a toy, time with his Aunt to play and run around, or even just to listen to him talk about Blue Angels.  I am happy when I can give to someone in need.  I am happy when I can talk to someone wanting to lose weight, and they say I have inspired them to move forward.  I am happy when I see my cousin water ski anytime he wants too, knowing he loves it.   I am happy when I help someone at work achieve a goal.  I am happy when I give back to others.

I remember going to a local restaurant once with my Mom.  I watched an elderly couple enter the restaurant.  It took him nearly 30 minutes to walk 100 yards.  He sat close to us and I listened into the conversation. I KNOW I know.. That’s rude.  But, I did listen.  His wife said, you didn’t have to come today. We don’t have the money for this.  You really need to be in bed, your back is bad.   He said, this is our 45th wedding anniversary.  We need to be out and I want to be here for you.  She said, you always know how to make me happy. The simple act of going, and doing something was so beautiful.  She realized it.  He realized it would make her happy too.  How beautiful.  No the story doesn’t end there.  I paid for their meal, a tip, and anything they wanted.  I didn’t tell them who did it, or who it was from.  I just watched them smile together.  THAT made me happy.

Happiness wasn’t about something given to me by me.  But something given to others by me. Love that thought!  The greatest gift you can give your family and friends, is a healthy you! Mind, body, and soul!  Don’t buy fast food for yourself thinking it will make you feel better.  It won’t.  Take the time, the energy, and expense and give back to someone in your life.  Reconnect, let them know what you are doing to better yourself, and ask them to cheer you on and support you.

Have a wonderful week everyone!! Be happy!  The greatest reward in my life is when I see a smile on the faces of my friends and family.  It is the best gift I have ever received and it always leaves me truly happy.

Opening Up

Weight loss is not an easy thing to do.  It is a journey where you are constantly fighting those internal voices. It is something that can tear you apart.  That is why it is so hard, and so many people struggle to do it successfully.

The weight loss industry pushes into our lives, promising the easy way out. From diet pills to fad diets.  There are so many opinions on what works, what doesn’t work, eat more meat, eat less carbs, eat for your blood type, eat like our ancestors did, ect.  There are also the most extreme ways to lose weight.  Gastric and Lap band.  But, I am here to tell you obesity can not be cured by a pill, a diet nor surgery.

To lose weight, you first have to figure out why you allowed yourself to get so big in the first place.  What caused you to let yourself go? Was it comfort? Was it a way to escape? Was it a way to cure boredom?  Once you understand the why. It allows you to fill that void with something else.  I ate because I was bored. I was a caretaker.  I spent all my time taking care of everyone else. In the mean time, I sat and I ate.

I changed my lifestyle to fill that void with exercise, walking and friends.  Friends is the most important addition to my life.  These are the people you need in your life to talk to when you are down or emotionally spent. They will call you when you least expect it. Or, when you are sad and down.  They spend time with you to talk it out.

I am learning though, that I still make some big mistakes. When I need my friends, they do call. They do see me.  But I get so closed up that I don’t tell them I need a hand. I need advice.  I need an ear.  I’ve been doing this all along.  I was in the hospital a year ago April. I was very sick and I was all alone.  I didn’t call anyone because I wanted to do it alone.  It was the first time I was ever in the ER. I was scared, and I just didn’t feel good.  My friends were angry at me, because all I had to do was call and I wouldn’t have been alone.

When I went to Illinois,  I went to the Northbrook Seventh Day Adventist Church.  I listened to a sermon on opening yourself up to God.  Allowing yourself to be seen fully.  He said, so many are willing to open themselves up to their friends yet they aren’t transparent to God.  You let your friends see you good and bad.  Yet we don’t do that when we seek out God. We hide because we want to be perfect, and we want to be flawless.  Yet God knows we are all with flaws. Just as our friends know we are with flaws.

This is a bit different to someone who is obese. I am so embarrassed when I am weak. I am so embarrassed to ask for help because I have something to prove.  It is a chip on my shoulder that was created by being judged so harshly when I was so big.  I am learning though that I need to be honest and when I am in need.  I need to trust in the people I have surrounded myself with.  I also need to trust in them to offer me advice that is based on their knowledge of me and to accept that.  I find myself saying “I know” a lot.  This has been pointed out by more then one person. (Douglas, Bruce, and Matt).   Instead–I need to trust them and allow myself to walk forward to make a change in my life.

I KNOW my path to finish.  <—I need to just finish and quit over thinking things.  I KNOW what I want to do..<—I need to just step forward and make it happen… I KNOW how to work out <–I need to recommit myself 100%. No excuses.  I also need them to continue to encourage and push me.  To not let me make an excuse, but to push me past that.

I trust in God that his love is with me.  He has been guiding me the entire time and bringing me these wonderful friends.  I trust in my friends to give me solid advice. To love me, support me, and encourage me.  They need to be brutally honest with me when I am not being true to myself.  They need to call me out, when I am not being accountable to my goals. I do trust in them.

Ultimately weight loss comes down to the choices we make over those internal voices. Yet our outside influences can help us get past that internal voices that saps our strength and robs our spirit.  Yes, the people you surround yourself with can help you to quiet those negative thoughts.

If you are overweight and are struggling to lose weight. Surround yourself with positive people who will not judge, but will listen. Surround yourself with people who will be honest with you, even when it is tough.  When you find that group of people, I implore you to open up to them. Heed their advice when you know it comes from love.  Especially when you are struggling, as we do.

1 Corinthians 10:13

The Joy Of A Click!

Hello all–Sorry I missed a blog or two. But I was travelling to Chicago to Participate in the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer 3 Day 60 Mile walk.

So what does the title have to do with Susan G Komen? Absolutely nothing.  The title is a celebration.  This time in travelling I sat in my plane seat, and fit.  Much to my excitement, not only did I fit, but the seat belt clicked without an extension.  This is the first time travelling in a long time that I didn’t need an extension. Small victories equal big celebrations.

This is a short post, as this lady is sore.  SO just a tip.  Count your calories as you eat, not after. Make sure you are getting 1800 calories or less (depending on your activity level).  Make sure you are being honest with the count. If you don’t, you’ll constantly look at the numbers and know they are off.

Have a great Tuesday! Will post something else when I recover from the weekend!

Shannon