Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thoughts From My Coffee Cup

As I sit and drink my morning coffee, my second cup, I might add, I am reflecting on all the change that is happening around me, to me, and that will happen to the future me. I think about the unfairness and the loss of comfort.  I think about how happy I was for what seems like a very brief moment.  Apparently I'm selfish that way. I really want ALL the happy.

I’m no stranger to change. I mean, I’m 33 years old. A lot has happened since 1980; Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama. I didn’t even have to Google that. I’m just so tired of the roller coaster. One minute everyone is thriving; you, your family, your friends, perfect strangers and the next you’re dealing with the loss of friends, a cancer diagnosis, a late mortgage, a rotted floor and 2 screaming kids. Not necessarily my life but things that have been happening around me. I reread that and it seems more than pessimistic. I can’t control that sometimes, the part of my brain that wants to be angry at everything and ignore any small glimpse of good.

Am I in a full blown wilderness? To answer that honestly I would have to say no. Logically I know that this is just a pothole on this seemingly insane, ever-changing stretch of highway of life.(My dramatic interpretation of comparing life to a road, but a big road.) Emotionally I’m just drained. I have tried everything to feel better. I’ve eaten things that are bad for me. I’ve prayed. I’ve read scripture. I’ve prayed more. I’ve yelled at God even. I’ve yelled in the car to myself and I've cried. I just feel wretched and like all the times before that I have felt this way there is this nudge that I must endure what I’m feeling. I must be strong. I must handle it in a way that was better than before. I wish I could say experience has helped me do all those things but I have my doubts. I still have anger, a lot of anger. I still have regret. I still soothe my pain with old habits. I still have moments where I am completely clueless as to how to move forward. I really wish life had a refresh button. You push it and everything works the way it’s supposed to again.

With clearly no restart, my options are few. In the words of Anne Lamott, “Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.” In faith, in hoping, we are asked to be patient. We are asked to be willing to trust. We are asked to be willing to wait. I read a passage today from my Lenten Devotional about Moses leading the Israelites through the desert. As they journeyed they began to doubt this God they had chosen. They began to doubt Moses. Without water, without shelter, without certainty they had almost given up and they became angry despite what they had already been shown, despite the evidence that they had not been forgotten.

At the end of the day, no matter what change happens, I think all we really need to know is that we have not been forgotten. We need the reminder of goodness and safety even though we have been shown those things over and over again. We need the reminder that even when we ourselves have no instant way to soothe our pain or make sense of it, there is hope in newness, there is hope in our faith, and there is hope in discomfort. There may be loss, there may be pain but "how lucky are we to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." And how lucky are we that we have the opportunity to welcome the ‘light’ of a dark day.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Priorities of A Reformed Fat Kid


This journey for me of trying to be healthy and losing weight has been an ongoing thing since I was a kid. I could tell you about my traumatizing, fat kid stories where I got  harassed on a daily basis in elementary and middle school. I could tell you how even when I moved into junior high and high school and I was incredibly thin, I still didn’t realize I wasn’t fat anymore. My mind could never catch up with what had happened to my body. But, I would like to focus on my journey the past 2 years. Give me a few minutes and I’ll get there. 

I suppose I should touch a bit on my background though. Surprising to some, I’ve always been active. I started playing softball when I was 7 years old. I rode my bike, jumped on our trampoline, and loved to get dirty. I was always the taller kid and the chubbier kid. When I was younger I did not understand what being healthy meant. My motivation came from wanting to fit in, wanting to be pretty, looking good in a swim suit for the summer, and boys’ approval. Isn’t that everyone’s motivation between the ages of about 6 and 25 or until we get married?

I grew up eating junk food and I grew up with a mother I adored but she was obese. At one point in my life she was probably close to 300lbs. It wasn’t until I was 16 that she began to bring healthy food in our home and began taking care of herself. All that time, I related to her. People would tell me I looked like her or that I was “my mother’s child”. To me, that was just another way of telling me I was fat.

This has always been an up and down journey for me and never has it been easy. Once I was out of high school, it was up to me to be active and take care of myself, like it is for everyone. I began to gain weight again in my early 20’s and by the time I was 24 I decided that being 200lbs. was not something I wanted. That number you were NEVER supposed to get to, kind of like being 30. Because at 30 you’re old, right?! (I’m now 33. Shhhhh!) I cared too much about these numbers rather than my health and the condition of what was going on inside me. My problem then was that I was more focused on my pant size rather than my health. I just did not understand what was important.

I joined a gym at that time and was in the best shape of my life, so I thought. I attended aerobics classes and was hitting the gym 5 days a week. I was eating slightly better. I was active again and I felt amazing. I was even teaching aerobics classes at a local church for college students and at my gym at the time. I had plans to get certified, maybe be a life coach. For 2 ½ years I maintained that lifestyle but when things began to change; a 4 year relationship ended, I quit teaching for numerous reasons, and I changed jobs, I began to lose control again. Basically, life happened. I lost sight of something very important. Me. I became a very low priority on the list of things to take care of in my life.

Over the next 7 years, I began dating my husband. I got married in 2007. We moved to Oxford 8 months later because he wanted to attend law school and there I ate my way up to 252 lbs. I was in a strange place in which I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have a job at first, and I was 4 hours away from any family or friends. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am an emotional eater. I eat when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m upset. I eat to cope with life.
Now, don’t think that I wasn’t active at all during those years. I attended a 2-week fit camp in which we worked out 6 to 8 hours a day and we ate super clean. 6 years ago I became an advocate for breast cancer after my aunt was diagnosed and I have walked in the Susan G. Komen 3-day walk every year since. The problem was I wasn’t doing it right. I wasn’t consistent. I couldn’t get motivated. I couldn’t forgive myself for the mistakes I had made. I couldn’t deal with the fact that I was miserable. I was in pain and I had injuries that the weight made even more unbearable.

In saying that, I should talk now about how I got here, with you. In January of 2012, almost 2 years ago, my husband and I joined a weight loss challenge at my sister’s church. It was a 5 month challenge and I was determined to lose 50lbs. In those months, I had good weeks, bad weeks and okay weeks. At the end of the challenge, I had lost and maintained 18lbs. Some of you are shaking your heads, but I was proud I lost and kept off anything because I hadn’t been able to do that in years.

In the fall of 2012, I was talking to a very good friend of mine that works in the weight loss department at my local gym. I wanted a gym that offered classes because that is what I enjoy doing. Put me on a treadmill and I’m in misery. There is nothing fun about that. It’s a means to an end but it didn’t float my boat, if you know what I mean. After meeting with one of their trainers and sales manager, I decided to join even though I was very reluctant and I had so many doubts about sticking around.

In October, just a few months after I joined my gym and the week of the Susan G. Komen walk, I hurt my foot. I would later find out it was tendentious in my foot and ankle and I was told not to do ANYTHING for 4-6 weeks. Life was raining on my parade but it was just getting started. The flood was coming.

The next week, I was in the car one night with my husband and after stopping at Walgreen’s for water, he had a seizure in the car right there in the parking lot. After spending the weekend in the hospital he was diagnosed with a low grade glioma or brain tumor and hypertension. He was put on a low sodium diet and he was given a hand full of pills to take every day. 4 days later, around 6 a.m. in the morning he had another seizure in his sleep and somehow managed to break his shoulder. During that first week we had numerous doctors’ visits and a month later we had to come and do it all over again; MRI, blood work, CT, etc. It was tedious and nerve-racking, to say the least.

Chris, my husband, was also scheduled to see a hypertension specialist since the drugs he was taking were not regulating his blood pressure. One crazy night and he had 5 pills to take, some of them twice a day, and he now had 4 doctors that he saw regularly. Also, as an added bonus he couldn’t drive for 6 months.

This happened and my life was literally turned on its head. I was helping my husband bathe, get dressed, get to work, etc. All the little chores that were once his, were all mine. I was cooking, cleaning, working, paying bills, and taking care of him. I wasn’t sleeping much because of the fears I would wake up to him having another seizure or that he was just going to die on me. Completely an emotional response but I could not make myself think any other way, even with lots of prayer. During this time, I was away from the gym consistently for probably 2 months. I literally could not get there. Between making sure my husband got to and from work, we also were seeing doctors and just trying to live through the worry of what was going to happen next. All I could feel was anxiety about my health and his. The most amazing thing, we got through it together and we are both amazingly better than we were because we didn’t let the difficult moments paralyze us. We took control of what we could and we realized the rest had to be taken one day at a time.
Last year changed my life. The physical and emotional desperation that came was overwhelming and yet it pushed me to make changes that needed to happen. Being a young woman that had always thought I could do anything, gaining 80lbs. or so limited my life in ways that made me think I could do nothing. I have been determined more than ever to make my workouts. Spinning has become my obsession. This year I have gone hiking in the mountains twice and I finished the Susan G. Komen 3-day with no problem. (Let me remind you, that’s a 60 mile walk!) Training and hard work have paid off, as well as reaching out to a friend to be my accountability partner. My health is a priority. My health is something that no longer takes a back burner to everything else.

The one thing I finally understand is that if this is truly a life change and I must do this for the length of my life, the amount of time it takes to get the weight off doesn’t matter so much. In 2 years I have lost 63lbs. To some, that would seem unproductive or too slow but to me it’s the world. Day by day, week by week, I have been making progress. I can do more and more things I had almost given up on. In May of this year I will participate in the Warrior Dash and in the fall I will once again walk 60 miles for breast cancer and I can assure you, I will finish with flying colors and limited pain. Because we’re fat we’re NOT broken, it just means we have work to do that we’ve been neglecting. When we make ourselves a priority, we get the results we want.

I can’t control when I die or how many years God gives me, but I can control the quality of my life. Quality not quantity, that’s what I’m living for.