Vacation and the Holidays

Well, it is time for me to blog again.  Strangely a few weeks ago I should say.  For those of you who follow I do apologize, I just came back from a very well needed vacation to Clearwater Beach, Florida.  I went to cheer on my friends who were walking the Susan G Komen Breast cancer 3Day.

I have been struggling to get back on track since coming back.  When you go on vacation you change your routine, it is hard to come back to your old routine.  For someone who is losing weight routine is essential.  Anything that changes what you do has a detrimental impact on your success. For example I eat at 7am 11am and at 4p, I work out at 7pm most of the time.  This is my routine.  If I eat late, I realize this really upsets my stomach or causes me to crave other foods.  Worse yet, want to jump to sugar.  If I miss a work out in the evenings I feel drained.  It is like my body is waiting for that jump in my activity level. When I don’t get it, my body complains.

So coming back from vacation was hard.  Every morning in Florida I would walk 3 to 5 miles on the beach in the water with resistance.  Well, I can’t do that in Colorado. I ate a lot in Florida, because I realized the Greek food there is A M A Z I N G.  That was a mistake to find out. But, I didn’t gain in Florida because of how active I was.  However, coming back I can’t eat as much as I don’t have the time to be as active as I was every day in Florida.

Now I am surrounded by sweets, candies, and well anything made with refined sugars.  What do I do?? I have heard the term maintain, but do not gain.  That’s what I did in Florida and I stole 3 weeks of my time to lose weight.  Do I do the same thing during the holidays? I have a friend who is giving up until January 1st, is that the right thing to do?

No–*I* finally see what I am working so hard for.  I see my path, my journey, my future before me.  I have everything I’ve ever wanted in my life RIGHT now.  I want to finish to keep the active life I have been earning, AND become more active. I can’t give away another 3 to 4 weeks hoping that I can finish in the new year.  That’s not enough for me.  I will finish next year.  2012 will be my year.  To stop worrying about finishing, and to start worrying about skin reduction surgery.  So no–Holidays–survival is not enough, victory is my only choice.  How I will I do it?! My friends–If you see me eating sugar call me out on it.  If you see me ask me what I ate today, it will hold me accountable to answer the question. Lastly, please don’t offer me your home baked goodies.  *I* KNOW they are the best, and they are tasty, but I just can’t.

Life is wonderful.  God is guiding my steps and I am so happy. I will blog again before Thanksgiving.  Thanks for your patience as I have been quiet–Any questions about what I have done or am doing, please email me TisShannon@gmail.com, comment on this page, or find me with that email address on facebook.

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

 

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

Balance

Bal*ance

Noun- mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.

As I have been chatting openly about weight loss.  Many ask if I struggle. In fact, when they find out how much I have lost, they say WOOOOOW how did you do that? YOU must have an iron will.. YOU must be so strong. YOU must have everything figured out.

Truth-I did it by asking for help.  I surrounded myself with people who keep an eye on me. I am strong in many ways and learning in others.  I don’t have everything figured out! I wish I did.  The hardest thing that I struggle with now is balance in my life. You know, this is a subject I am not at all good at talking about.  Probably because it is the one thing I struggle with the most.

This past weekend I listened to a very smart man talk about a juggler.  That we can juggle only so many tennis balls before we have to have an assistant throw some more into the mix.  But, what happens when you start to drop some of the tennis balls because you can’t possibly take on more?

How can I keep the most important tennis balls up in the air and take on more? How do I say no to things that are not that important, or re-prioritize them?

In the past the tennis balls I juggled were work, television, food and family.  I had television right up there with family. Where was God/Faith? Where is my social life? Where is taking care of me? Where are friends? Health? I thought I was doing good by being a caretaker to my Mom.  I was always there for her.  Yet was I there for me?

Now I juggle God/Faith, family, friends, social life, school/creating a company, work, healthy eating, work outs, and reading.  Now I have a lot more on my plate, but what is on my plate is more nutritious for the mind body and my soul.  It has taken me awhile to change my lifestyle.  Truly I have no idea what is on TV, and strangely I don’t care to know. However, I find myself still struggling to juggle.  When one of those tennis balls, which are all important to me, takes more of my time it threatens the others.

That is where my support group that surrounds me comes into play.  You see, I have a group of people that I surrounded myself with who act as a clearance committee.  These are people that I fully trust that will always be honest, sometimes brutally honest, about how I am doing. They ask me tough questions, even when I am not ready for them.  I make mistakes. I’ve even dropped a few of those tennis balls.  But, the people around me won’t let me falter. Well, for too long. I need to learn from each time I get out of balance.  It is important for me to know what I need to improve on.

Recently I have been learning about the foundation that lifts me up.  It allows me to juggle. The initial confrontation about me losing weight was a question asked to me. Shannon–You work tirelessly to help us to improve. You do anything to help us. What do you do for you? I want you to know that I love you, this team of brokers loves you, the manager loves you and Shannon God loves you.  Do you love yourself?

When I am juggling my greatest assistant is yes a group of people.  But my foundation is God.  I love myself now, my way in life, and even my hope in life.  I know God loves me. To accept that love, I had to see what was worthy in me to love. In the past I didn’t care if I lived or died. I thought happiness was taking care of my Mom, and letting me go.  In a way sacrificing me, for someone else.  I will always have that willingness to help someone in need.  Yet, I won’t let it consume me.  My life has a strong and solid foundation now.  I have a nutritious plate to feed my soul.  Most importantly I have the right balance in my life.

DO I struggle? Yes-I will forever be fallible. Yet I will try to be in balance more often than not.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Thanks for peeking in on my journey!

Pray for wonderful weather, cool mornings, and for strength to all the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer 3Day walkers in Chicago this weekend.  I will there!

Balancing For Core Strength-Me at 230 lbs down.