Happy Friday!

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What a great reminder today! Wishing y’all a fabulous weekend- make it count 🙂

Hugs and Love,

A

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The Tough Stuff Hurts!

“So why have you never auditioned before?”

I got asked this question almost a year ago during what would turn out to be our final interview during Biggest Loser finals week. It came early in what turned out to be an emotionally exhausting, 35 minute verbal beat-down by one of the casting producers.

Now, I wasn’t totally prepared for this question. I figured maybe they’d ask about past diets or times I’d tried to lose weight, but not why I had never tried out for the show. I stumbled through my answer because, honestly, I didn’t have one. I’d watched the show off and on for years, and had thought about how great the opportunity would be; but it just never crossed my mind to actually try to be one of the ‘chosen few’! If only I could have said that in the interview, but nope… words failed that day (shocking, I know!).

Flash forward to this past Sunday. I was sitting in my bedroom, in the dark, listening to music and crying my eyes out when my sweet sweet roommate, God bless her, came in to check on me. She had so patiently been dealing with my being on the verge of a mini-meltdown for the last couple of days, and our conversation that followed finally allowed me to understand the answer to that horrid question from so many months ago.

Now y’all, real quick I’d like to mention that while I do cry during movies, good books, and the random sappy commercial (the one where the guy sees the girl on the subway and their whole life together flashes in his mind, ending with their son becoming president- oh, it gets me every time), I don’t just fall apart easily when it comes to real-life problems. Something major was going on, and though I knew what had triggered it, I had no explanation for why I had fallen into the depths of such a dark place because of it.

So she started asking me questions:

Q- Why was this affecting me more than my grandpa passing away a few weeks ago?
A- Because I know my Pop is SO much better off where he is now, and that I will see him again!

Q- Was I really this upset over what had happened last week or was this grief and emotions that were finally coming out after being held in for so long?
A- I have no idea, maybe…

Q- How was this situation making me feel about myself?
A- Like I’m not good enough. Unworthy. Undeserving.

DING DING DING, we have a winner!

It hit me full force in that moment- I don’t feel good enough… not for anyone or anything, and I never really have.

My parents have never made me feel this way- they are so loving and supportive, and they are proud of me- I know this in my head. And save for the random fat comments and a note I got in the 7th grade from “the Smiths” saying they hated my Georgia accent (I kid you not!), I was never really bullied, so it didn’t come from other people. This feeling comes from no one but me and Satan.

My brain knows the truth, but my heart feels differently (I swear, they don’t even read the same book half the time, so forget trying to get them on the same page). I simply feel undeserving of the people and things in my life. I worry that I’m not successful enough for my family to truly be proud of me… that I’m not a good sister… that I’m a crappy friend… that I don’t deserve happiness and love… that I will never reach my goals or achieve my dreams because I’m just. not. worthy.

I’ve worked through a lot emotions and issues during my weight loss journey. I’ve cried and yelled and come to grips with a lot of hard things that happened TO me throughout my life. But I still haven’t dealt with what I’ve done to myself. I’ve told myself that I am a failure so many times that I’ve internalized it. I feel it with every ounce of my being. I believe it’s why I still get so off track in my health and fitness goals. It’s why I put so much importance on what other people think of me, and it’s why I am so affected by how they treat me. Obviously, this is something I am going to have to deal with and confront if I want to keep moving forward in life. But if I’m being totally candid, I’m pretty sure it’s something I’ll be dealing with for a long time, and that scares me…

So to answer the producer’s question- I never tried out for BL before last summer because I didn’t think anyone would ever think to give ME a shot at something so life changing.

But I was wrong! Kerry and Holland believed in me. They saw something special in me, they fought for it, and they ended up changing my life. I will be forever grateful to them for that! If two people who meet thousands of people in a single day can see something special in me, then why in the world can I not see it too?

So I’m ready to confront this head-on. When I’m running and that voice in the back of my head starts to tell me I’ll never be able to run 3 miles, much less 6 or 13.1, I’ll tell it to shove it and push myself harder. When someone is disrespectful, I’ll stand up for myself because I DESERVE better! When I meet someone new and start to feel inferior, I’ll remind myself that who I am is good enough–if that person doesn’t think so, it’s their issue and not mine (this one will take some time, I know, but I’ll get there!). And when I start to doubt my own worth, I’ll remind myself that there are people out there who believe in me, and if they can, I can too!

So if you happen to see me accepting or settling for less than I deserve, whether it be from myself or from others, feel free to be the voice that reminds me that I AM worthy. We all are. Sometimes it just takes someone who cares about us asking the right (and tough) questions to finally be able to see it 🙂

Hugs and love,

A

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The Necessary Evil…

As I’ve been on this journey to health, I have learned that cooking is a necessity. But here’s the thing about me and cooking- I DON’T like it. I can cook, I just don’t enjoy it in the least. Luckily, I’ve found some great, healthy recipes courtesy of Pinterest and other blogs. I made one of these tonight, and it was a huge hit so I thought I’d share! Please note that I am not specifying regular vs. no/low-fat, so you have the option of using whichever you prefer. I have made it twice, once with ‘regular’ ingredients and once with healthier options, and it tasted fabulous both ways!

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

5 oz. Cream of Broccoli soup

5 oz. Cream of Mushroom soup (I use low sodium)

1/3 cup Mayonnaise

2 tbsp. Milk

1 1/4 cup Shredded Cheese (this is your choice, I prefer sharp cheddar)

1/2 tsp. Sugar

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper

a dash of Nutmeg

1-2 cups COOKED Broccoli (depends on your personal preferences)

1 1/2 cup COOKED Quinoa (3/4 cup uncooked)

1 1/2 cup Water

1/4 tsp. Salt

Fresh Parmesan (I prefer shredded)

**Baby Bella Mushrooms (recipe does not actually call for these- I usually add ~1/2+ cup of diced mushrooms, but I LOVE mushrooms!)**

To Cook Quinoa

1. Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear.

2. In a small saucepan, combing quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 18-20 minutes or until the quinoa is fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible.

4. Fluff with a fork.

While Quinoa is Cooking

5. Pre-heat oven to 350*.

6. Coat a shallow casserole dish (8×8) with cooking spray.

7. In a large bowl, combine soup, mayo, milk, shredded cheese, sugar, pepper, and nutmeg until well mixed.

Once Quinoa is Finished

8. Stir quinoa, broccoli, and mushrooms into mix.

9. Spoon mix into prepared casserole dish.

10. Sprinkle Parmesan on top of mix.

11. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges bubble and turn golden.

*Recipe makes 8 generous 1/2 cup servings.

The first time I made this, I also added shredded chicken to the mix. This time, we had chicken with the quinoa dish as a side, and it really makes no difference. I hope y’all enjoy this recipe- let me know if you try it, especially if you change anything for the better!

Hugs and Love,

A

PS- Follow me on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/lavidabella1119/

Quick Update

Just wanted to keep you updated/elaborate on something I mentioned in my last blog.

As some of y’all know from witnessing it, I’ve been having an increasing number of near blackout experiences lately. It happens probably 7 or 8 times a day. What is more alarming is that it has started happening when I workout as well, anywhere from 4-6 times in an hour. Now, it always involves some sort of position change from me- standing up or shifting from my back to my side/front- and I do have very low blood pressure, but about a month ago, my heart started randomly racing on top of this. I’m talking as high as 174 for 15 to 20 minutes- YIKES!

As crazy as it sounds, I was really hoping that the blood work my doctor ran last week would come back indicating something was off with my thyroid {there are a couple of other things that indicated it might be}. Everything seems good though, so the next step is for me to see a cardiologist. There are a few ❤ things that could be responsible for what's been going on, or they may not find anything at all and we'll be back at square one.

As of right now, I'm not panicking. But if you feel inclined, please pray that I continue to be calm about this. My roommate had a great point when she told me not to build a bridge before I know I need to cross it, and I'm trying to be very intentional about not doing just that {though my mind has kinda run off to the edges of a scary place a couple of times}! Instead, I am choosing to focus on the fact that IF there is something wrong, I am in SUCH a better place to deal with it 100+ lbs lighter than I was two short years ago!

I'll be sure to keep y'all posted, though it will be a couple of weeks before I know anything. Until then, love yourself and take care of your body- it's the only one you have, after all! 😀

Hugs and Love,

A

A Moment of Transparency

One big thing I pride myself on in this journey to a healthier lifestyle is honesty. It doesn’t always come easily {what girl do you know WILLINGLY wants to share her weight with dozens of people she may or may not know?!}, but after my BL experience last summer, I realized it is necessary/a necessary evil! You canNOT succeed long-term in changing your life if you can’t be honest about the issue at hand, no matter what your struggle is. So I’m honest about my weight. I talk about what works for me and what doesn’t, the stumbles and the triumphs… for the most part.

Recently, I have found myself struggling with this. And by recently, I mean in the past 2 1/2 weeks. Y’all were so supportive when I hit 207 {100 lbs lost}, and again when I posted on FB that I had finally gone under 200 just a handful of days later. It felt so good to not only hit those goals, but to know that my journey is inspiring others to also get healthy… I can’t even describe how great it feels and how much it helps me when my desire to keep going is less than enthusiastic!

The day after I hit 199.6, I was up .6 lbs… not a big deal, but frustrating. If only I had known! Over the next 11 days {so 12 days total}, I gained 10.4 lbs- WTH?!?!?!?!?! I wasn’t eating differently, I wasn’t working out less {or more}, nothing I was doing had changed, yet I couldn’t seem to stop the number from climbing daily. I felt awful, both physically and mentally, and I was afraid to say anything about it to anyone because, quite frankly, I was embarrassed and didn’t want to disappoint y’all.

Finally, I said something to my trainer. Trey is just an all-around great guy and a fantastic trainer, and I trust him completely when it comes to my health and my body {when you’ve hurt your body as much as I have- broken ankles, dislocated shoulder, torn muscles, etc.- you have to trust the people helping you or it won’t work}. He immediately wanted to know why I hadn’t said something sooner- it’s not like I didn’t know something was wrong {a little fluctuation is normal, 10+ lbs that quickly is NOT}. We decided to add an Omega 3 supplement to my diet and up my water from ~100 oz to ~132 oz a day to account for the higher temps these days.

I am ECSTATIC to report that I am down 6.2 of those lbs since Tuesday! I am also having some blood work run tomorrow to make sure there isn’t some other underlying issue going on {please, please pray that all comes back clear}, but I can honestly say that I think this ‘backslide’ was a result of two things- pressure and stress. Pressure I had placed on myself, and stress because I couldn’t seem to control what was happening on the scale. It’s easy for me to share when things are going good, but I am an expert at hiding the not so pretty things in life {well, not an expert- the 100+ lbs I’ve gotten rid of so far can attest to that}. But I think the more I inwardly panicked about this weight gain, the worse it got. I’m no doctor, but it just can’t be coincidental that it stopped THE DAY I finally said something to someone and asked for help.

So that’s my message for you today- don’t be afraid to ask for help. Hurdles will arise in life. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself going in the complete wrong direction, and that’s okay as long as you are willing to stop and ask for help so you can get right back on track. Be honest about where you are and what you’re struggling with, no matter how big or small. You’ll be amazed at how many people are willing to hold you up and help you be strong when you feel completely lost and just at your limits! Don’t be afraid of the setbacks that WILL come- look at them as opportunities to prove how much you really want it! I know I’m certainly going to appreciate it all a little bit more after these last couple of weeks 🙂

Be Healthy,

A

It’s Not a Competition

The title says it all. Health. Fitness. Weight loss. Marriage. Motherhood. Career. Life. None of it is a competition, and yet the vast majority of us approach these things {and many, many more} with a “second-place-is-the-first-loser” attitude, and Heaven forbid we fall short of first place.

I’ve been struggling with how to approach the dangers of making everything a competition or constantly comparing yourself to others for awhile now. An old friend from NY posted about ‘robbers’ today {check it out here}, and it finally clicked for me. When we live in a state of constant comparison, we rob ourselves of happiness. And sometimes, we can rob others of happiness, too. 😦

In my journey to health, I have had amazing support from family, friends, people at church, my bosses, and even strangers that see my posts on Twitter and Facebook. It has been truly incredible, and I am so grateful that I decided to open up about my struggles and triumphs! Honestly, there have been very few people who have been less than encouraging, and I know that I have been extremely lucky in this area. I hear from people all the time that are constantly pestered about their new eating and workout habits by coworkers, friends, and worst of all, family members. I can’t begin imagine how hard it must be to come up against constant negativity from people that are, when you get down to the heart of it, unhappy with themselves {and probably a bit jealous, too}.

Creating a healthy lifestyle is hard. It still doesn’t come naturally to me, and I’ve been working at this for 2 years now. I have to make a conscious decision MULTIPLE times a day to eat clean and not give in to cravings.

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Exercising comes a bit easier, but if I am not on a set schedule, it’s very easy to suddenly realize it’s been a couple of days since I’ve gotten in a good sweat session. Because it can be so difficult, I am very deliberate about checking in with and trying to encourage friends that I know are going through similar struggles. Accountability is HUGE in this journey, and if I can help someone else by being that person, I am more than willing to step in and fill that role!

So imagine the shock I felt when I was told that one of my friends, and someone I considered a good friend at that, had belittled all the hard work I’ve been doing by turning our separate health journeys into a competition. It doesn’t really matter what was said, but this was someone I have spent months at the gym with, days talking about healthy eating vs fad diets, and hours, quite simply, encouraging. To know that she was focused on “beating” me really hurt, as did the fact that she brought another friend into it. As I said before, this has definitely been the exception to the rule in my experience, but it upset me nevertheless. I was very hurt and felt that, in some way, this person was cheapening everything I have worked so hard for. She ‘robbed’ me of some of the happiness I was feeling about how far I’ve come, and it has continued to bother me for a couple of months now. I haven’t talked with her about it- I just don’t want to. I’m sure this was not the intended outcome of her actions, but some things can’t be unsaid or undone. I’m sad about it, because it has actually strained both of these friendships. I just don’t want to be a part of something petty like this, and the only way I feel I can stop the comparisons is to simply not be around to be judged.

I realize this example may sound silly to some of you, but I feel my experience points to a greater problem in our culture. There isn’t enough kindness and grace in the world, especially when it comes to the people we know and love. Instead of constantly trying to one-up one another, how about we try being kind? Celebrate triumphs with friends without feeling jealous or bad mouthing them later. If someone you know gets something you’ve wanted, smile sincerely and be gracious- your time will come. And if it doesn’t, know that there is something better in store that is meant just for you! Stop robbing yourself of happiness. Stop judging yourself and others. Stop tearing others down in order to build yourself up- that feeling of superiority doesn’t last anyway. And remember- it’s NOT a competition! So go out and live life WITH others, not against them. I promise you’ll find peace and happiness!!

Be Healthy {and Kind},

A

PS- Check out the Kind Campaign here. These ladies are doing great work!

PPS- Someone posted this quote in response to Leah’s blog- “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” I feel that this is a great reminder that what you see isn’t always the whole story, and is yet another reason mentally competing with others is so damaging.

102 Things

60 inches gone

8 days in California for Biggest Loser

7 pairs of running/workout shoes

6 months of physical therapy

5 pant sizes

4 gyms

3 personal trainers

3 shirt sizes

2 major ankle sprains

2 years

1 torn quad

+1 MAJOR goal met

_____________________

102 pounds lost!!!

{Really 101.6, but I was always taught to round up if the decimal is over a 5, plus it made the math easier :D}

I NEVER thought I’d meet this goal, y’all. I have been flirting with the number for over 6 weeks now, and it seemed like the cycle of 1 step forward and 2 steps back {in this case, pounds} was never going to end. I’ve hit plateaus before, but this was different. In the past, I’ve just had to push through- workout a little harder, watch my food a little closer, the usual. But I had to FIGHT for these last 8-10 pounds. There have been countless tears. I thought about giving up and just being okay with how far I had come. I worked out more. I ate less. I ate more. I lifted heavier weights. I did everything I could think of. I STRESSED about it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

So when I finally got on that scale this morning and saw that 205.4 {I started at 307}, I barely believed it. Seriously, I got on the scale 4 times y’all. I even moved it to make sure it read the same thing in a different spot {not sure what I was thinking would change, but I wanted to be thorough!} I am so excited!!!! But I will be even MORE excited when I knock out these next 5.4 lbs and enter ONEderland for the first time since I was a teenager!! Now let’s just all pray it doesn’t take me another 6 weeks 😀

Hugs and Love,

A

PS- Check out the sweet shirt I’ll be wearing Monday, courtesy of my precious sister!!

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