Friday, January 1, 2016

DUDE...If I Can Do It, You've SO Got This!

Anyone out there with some new resolutions? Are you thinking about shedding a few pounds? Someone recently commended me on my dedication to finding "me" time each day. It led me to reflect on just how much my commitment to daily activity means to me, and how much it benefits my whole family.

About 8 years ago I went on a vacation with my sister. I had recently had my 4th child, and was so hopelessly burned out that I ran away for a week, hoping to catch my breath. It was taking that [literal] step away from my life that opened my eyes to the fact that "Stephanie" was no more. I was mom. I was wife. I was nurse. My life was all "have to", all chores and responsibility. Stephanie (her personal hopes, dreams, and aspirations) had completely disappeared...and something told me there would be no relief from my burnout until Stephanie was found again.

How do you do that, though? How do you take the time for "self exploration" when you have a house full of special needs kids and an 11 PM-7 AM job? Well, I was fortunate enough to benefit from some lucky timing. I got the pictures back from my trip, and I was horrified by my image. Before that trip there were really very few pictures of me; I was always the person BEHIND the camera. Seeing one particular image of my sister and I, though, disgusted me. It clearly showcased each of the 10 souvenir pounds I had held onto from all of my 4 pregnancies. At the same time, a friend of mine joined Weight Watchers, and asked me if I was interested in joining. With that photograph fresh in my mind, I gladly agreed to tag along to the Weight Watcher meetings...although - to be honest - I didn't think it would do a lot of good. I have a number of family members who struggle with weight; I figured I was just doomed to be heavy the rest of my life.

Weight Watchers served a few purposes. First, it got me out of the house once per week - not for a school meeting, not for work, not for a mad dash to the grocery store before picking one of the kids up from tutoring - but an hour EVERY week of strictly ME time. The accountability of the weekly weigh-ins kept me motivated. The weekly lessons taught me more than I ever would have guessed I needed to learn (as an RN!) about healthy eating habits/lifestyles. The social aspect of the meetings made me some friends and offered the crucial support/encouragement needed for success. I was very pleasantly surprised at how fast the weight came off. In roughly 6 months those 40 "pregnancy souvenir" pounds disappeared.

A shocking side effect of my weight loss effort was the discovery of my inner jock. It began with Weight Watcher's call to just "move more". I started with walking. On the walks my mind would race with what I had to do back at home, so I started jogging part of some walks so I could get home faster...then more of the walks were spent jogging...then I just dropped all pretenses and started jogging. For awhile I had fun competing. I ran a couple of 1/2 marathons and even did a triathalon sprint. I no longer feel I need the "validation" of competition. Now I just enjoy my "me hour" each day. I walk 4 miles 5 days/week, I do a 7 mile run on Fridays, and go to a Zumba class on Sundays. Not only does the exercise relax me and keep me centered, but I do my best thinking out on the road, whether I'm walking or running.

I've done pretty well at keeping close to my goal weight, but occasionally I drift up. I've had fun lately joining games on DietBet.com. I just joined one a few days ago. You place a bet that you'll be able to lose a certain percentage of your weight within a certain length of time. For instance, I just joined one the other day (after spending a week at an all-inclusive resort - YIKES!!!). I bet $35 dollars that I'll be able to lose 4% of my weight (5.9 pounds in my case) in one month. There are 145 players in this particular game, and the pot is $5075! Last year I joined a game where I made a similar bet for $20. It was a smaller game (fewer players), but I won $90. Nice!

I share this tale to make the point that if I can lose some extra weight and learn to live a healthier lifestyle, ANYONE can do it! If you want to do it, too, and you're looking for a cheerleader, let me know; I'm there for you. I'll be forever grateful for those who supported me through my early efforts. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Do it to feel better all around. You won't regret it!

The image that sparked it all



The following year



A kiss & hug before a 1/2 marathon



Final leg of the triathalon




10 comments:

  1. Inspiring! I don't need to lose weight, but I do need to start exercising regularly. Lupus flares and adoption setbacks kind of sapped my motivation this past fall, but I'm determined to get back on the wagon. I'm starting with speed walking and yoga. Wish me luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for taking the time to read my post! Sorry to hear about the sluggish fall, due to a couple of difficult challenges, but yay for you with the plans for yoga and walking! I'm not hugely knowledgeable about lupus, but I know enough about it that I can imagine it's a formidable foe when trying to adhere to a fitness routine. Best of luck with it, and keep me posted on your progress. I'll be particularly interested if you find you get a lot of writing inspiration when you're out on your walks. I can be at a total loss when I'm sitting on my butt, but huffing and puffing down the road a few miles the ideas begin to flow. As I get older, the only challenge is REMEMBERING those ideas by the time I get back home! ;)

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. For any readers who wonder why I may have asked Ms. Manay about writing inspiration on her walks, it's because she's one of the most talented authors I know. If you haven't yet read her incredible book, "She Dies At The End", do yourself a favor and get it on Amazon RIGHT NOW! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree it is horrible to look at yourself and see that belly! However, I do believe it to be in the genes (your parents having had the same problem). I have watched my weight come down by cutting down on what I eat, and how much I eat. This is besides exercise which really helps to keep me fit. Anyway, keep at it Stephanie and the very best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Arshad! I think genetics plays a role in your propensity for weight gain, and can make it more of a challenge to lose weight. What changed for me, though, was thinking that if people in my family are heavy, then I was DOOMED to be heavy. I didn't think there was anything I could do about it. Well...I guess I proved that thinking wrong! I won't ever be one of those people who can eat whatever I want, whenever I want and never worry about my weight, but I AM in complete control of my waistline. It feels great to know I have that power; that I no longer have to think of myself as a "victim of genetics". :) I'm very happy to hear you are exercising (and watching what you eat); it's so important for both the longevity and quality of your life! Already (at 45) I'm hearing so many people in my social circles complaining about ailments, aches, and pains, and blaming it on "getting old". Meanwhile, I'm feeling better than I did in high school! I'm sure if I had continued with my more sedentary lifestyle I'd be right there with them whining about my age. :) Thanks for taking the time to read yet another of my posts! :) ~Stephanie

      Delete
  5. FIrst, thank you so much for retweeting my story "The History of Running." I couldn't help but see who you are and am glad I did. I very much relate to your blog and will get your book. Looks excellent! (Never would have checked out your site without the retweet.) Amazing what you have been able to accomplish. I am with you on the hour-a-day exercise routine; it's absolutely critical for thinking things out and staying centered. As one who was forced, due to weight issues, to undertake a similar regimen, I found it has been important to the discipline of writing too. More recently, in spite of all of the running, for me, it is the recognition of the role nutrition plays as the critical aspect of weight-loss that is so eye-opening. Not diet, per se, just healthy eating. I suspect you knew this, but it caught me totally by surprise -- the significance of eating healthy, unprocessed foods on my health, my attitude, my running, and my writing. Shocking! Thanks again for the retweet and sharing your ongoing story. Best regards, Jonathan Giles

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Jonathan, for taking the time to read my post and for sharing your thoughts. It's my pleasure to retweet for fellow authors whenever I can; we need to stick together! I'm so happy for you that you've found a healthy lifestyle that appears to be working very well for you. I share your view that healthy eating plays a crucial role in healthy living. It's been a journey for us. A few years ago you could find just as much typical, processed junk in our kitchen as anyone else's. Now we are 100% free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, 100% non GMO, and nearly 100% organic. Interestingly, my youngest daughter recently participated in a science fair. We wanted a quick, easy experiment, so we did the one where you put daisies in water and food coloring, and watch for the petals to change from white to the color of the food coloring. The problem was, it just wasn't working. We tried adding more food coloring, putting in new daisies...nothing. Then, the night before the project was due, it dawned on me. At nearly midnight I ran to a grocery store and came home with a new box of food colorings. I put the daisies in the new food coloring/water mix, and within minutes the petals began to change color. The problem had been that we use all-natural food coloring in our house. The experiment doesn't work with that type of [plant-based] food coloring. As I watched the flower petals turn red and blue, I thought about what those artificial colors do to our bodies. It's a pretty disgusting thought, and I'm sure that's the least of concerns with artificial ingredients! Happy writing, happy running, and have a wonderful week! :) ~Stephanie

      Delete
  6. I was meant to read this today. I was just thinking how much I need to take back Saturday, but I desperately need me time every day. I have also had success with Weight Watchers, but I have done more than drift. It works when I work it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my post, Cynthia, and BEST of luck to you in taking your "you time" back! Feel free to check back in with your progress; you've got the right mind-set, so now you're all set to go right out there and "get 'er done"! [Insert image of cheerleaders with supportive "Cynthia's our gal" and "Cynthia's GOT this" signs and cheers] :) ~Stephanie

      Delete