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 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