Blogging came in last place!

Hello All! 

     I just got reminded today of why it is so important for me to post. I know a lot of folks are following me, because they are in the same circumstance I was in.  Some in the same place I am in now.  God has given me a story to tell.  I’m on this amazing journey in life and I am working to finish for my health and  to get my life back. I want to answer a few emails that have been written to me over the last four weeks. I am doing it here, in case it reaches someone else who wants help or has the same questions. 

A question on dealing with my family stress and weight loss— 

   I know my story is something that helps people.  I have been honest along the way and I know you all want me to continue that.  The last few months have been very difficult on me.  My father was diagnosed with lung cancer.  The stress and frustration has been quite overwhelming. Stress is an awful thing when trying to lose weight.  The stress hormone your body puts out is called cortisol.  What it does basically is cause you to retain your fat for energy, and it makes you feel tired and worn out.  You just seem to struggle to lose weight. Yet you are super tired as well.  I have been there, but I am finding my strength through God.  He has given me so many friends that really believe in me and encourage me. When I falter, they seem to show up in usual ways. 

      I am lucky in that I hired (for just a few weeks  HA!!) my trainer Matt Ellison a few years ago who has not let me quit and is pushing me harder at the gym, rather then backing down.  I really believe that he has helped me to stay focused and on track, and I am so lucky to be able to work with him.  I can’t thank him enough for just being a solid friend and being there for me when I feel like I can’t take on anymore. Physically I am stronger then I have been in my entire life.  I surprise myself in the gym. I also surprise myself with the muscle tone. By the way–Matt is the answer to how I have been dealing with the stress.  A person who is being honest with me. Yet he is also pushing me to finish *MY* goals while I also continue to help with my father. 

A question on how bad really is the loose skin, does it frustrate and would I do it again–

     Though I know I am strong. Though I know I am losing weight.  The loose skin seems to get worse and worse week over week.  Month over month.  I can’t lie and say that it is alright, just a by product of success.  It is an awful reminder of where I once was.  I am completely frustrated by it.  Sometimes you’ll find me pulling on my neck skin, it is awful how much is there. You can see my clavical as my shoulders are so strong.  But you can also see the loose skin hanging on my neck. My arms are so much stronger now. Yet you see the skin hanging.  My legs are very well defined, and have thinned out so much.. But yet you see the skin hanging down.  My stomach–Oh buddy.. I really believe that the majority of the weight I have left to lose is right there.  I know I still have work to do.  I also know I am not as bad off as I was. Though the skin will have you believe I am still pretty big.  TALK about frustration. I just want it to fall off like in those commercials. So people can see the REAL me.  Not the one with skin hanging. It hurts me to see it, and feel judged for it. All I know is—-I wouldn’t change my journey. Not one step of it.  I understand who I am. I am the REAL me. Skin removal will not change that. The skin will be taken off through surgery in the future.  It is only temporary. But, the people who believe in me now, see me now, and get who I am now? They will be there when everything is said and done. They will see me help people and be forever apart of my journey. 

A Question on easier ways to lose weight–

     To lose weight you have to be patient, you have to understand your body can only give so much. It is SO frustrating because I want to move forward now and I would LOVE a quick fix. I want you all to learn the lesson that shines brightest in my life–the only thing that works is getting your head straight. Finding out WHY you allowed yourself to get so big? Why did you give up on you? Why do you constantly hurt yourself when you should be helping yourself? Let go of control and seek help, support, and encouragement along the way. Be it a group of friends, co-workers, a trainer you find at the gym, or your church congregation. SEEK people who will listen to you vent and let you open up. Figure out the why.  Then you can figure out how to move forward. People who have surgery to lose weight or take the newest pill, that think that it will fix all of their problems are so wrong.  If you don’t fix the why.  No matter how you lose weight, you will find away to hurt yourself.  

     When I was at my biggest. I got to the point where I just didn’t care about me at all.  I just wanted to help those who I loved, and if I slipped away from a heart attack, I was okay with that. At what point in life are you OKAY to die? That is where my head and heart were. Food was just a means to an end.  It wasn’t something I needed. It was something I wanted.  I wanted to just let go.  Looking back, I was taking care of everyone but me.  Yet, I was the most selfish person, because *I* wanted to let go and leave those who care about me with nothing. I was an active person who became stagnant and that was okay to me.  I am not okay with it anymore.  I want to play with my nephew and run around for hours tiring him and me out.  I want to summit mountains, hike, walk for hours, ride a bike, see the world, and not have any limitations because of my size.  I SEE the life I want and I understand I have to earn it back.  I had it, but *I* CHOSE to let it go for the latest TV show and fast food.  I don’t beat myself up when I make a mistake.  I just know I am accountable to the person I want to be tomorrow today. Every action I take today, is a choice that can change that future and the distance of it from now.  

Food Addiction?!

     YES! I was an addict of food.  When I was lonely I would find what is always there for me.  24 hour access to food.  That comforting feeling of being full.  That feeling of letting myself down, but KNOWING I will try to be better tomorrow.  Or that voice, oops–I messed up.  I’ll start my diet tomorrow again. I can just let go of a day.  Not any more though. Food is something that fuels me.  Now I think about my body and mind as a machine, that need specific nutrients to survive.  I don’t need cookies. I like them and can have one when I am super active in the gym and have burned enough calories to allow myself a snack.  Though now I prefer a good cold apple! (True story!) I still have moments in which I indulge and make mistakes. But rather then beat myself up for it.  I say I owe myself better.  No more mistakes and I have earned the right to eat right for 7 days without a mistake. I hold myself accountable to that.  It is HARD to do. The reward is even better. Celebrating a good week.  A true gift.  You have to change your lifestyle from counting on food to be there as your friend. To being just something you need on occasion.  It is a complete shift in your mindset. On top of that, you need to eat the right foods, and know what they are.  What are good and bad carbs? What are good and bad fats? When do you need carbs? Eat your veggies and fruits!!! Make that your new addiction.  

     Alright–I am a wordy girl, so I will leave with those questions answered and look to answer some more in the coming week!! Thank you all for reading, and let me know if you have questions.  Please comment to my posts if you agree, disagree, or even just want to share your story. 

 

     May God bless each of your journeys as He has mine! 

      Shannon 

      

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.

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

 

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

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.