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Archive for November, 2012

the journey continues

Last week I created a page on Facebook to go along with my blog! Sunday I posted a few “before” and “after” photos. A kind lady named Sally, who is a Registered Dietitian, made this comment…

“I’d love to know what other positive changes you’ve noticed as you’ve changed your lifestyle. Weight loss is often what others notice most, but is usually only one of many positive benefits of a change to a healthy lifestyle.”

It’s a great topic so I will share that answer here with all of you. Sally is right about weight loss only being a small part of it, like the cover on a complex book. Let’s look, briefly, at the first chapters of my journey before we talk about where I am now and what some of the other benefits have been.

Emotionally, I was very timid albeit I put on a good front in social situations. I’d get anxiety when we had to go anywhere. I’d actually toss my cookies before we went out and sometimes my husband Bryan would even have to stop the car. I was terrified of rocking the boat. If you said the sky was yellow and I knew that it was blue, I’d agree with you just so you’d like me. I felt like everyone was judging me because of my weight and some people were. I had absolutely no confidence and I felt alone even in a crowded room. When it came to self-image, I hated looking in a mirror and I hated myself. I detested shopping for clothing. I wanted to hide. I quit taking care of myself on the outside and on the inside. I started becoming reclusive and would barely leave the house; instead I would have friends come over to visit. Even then, I’d often cancel at the last moment. I lost all of my passion for the things I enjoyed doing, including artistic endeavors.

Physically, I was prone to extreme bouts of bronchitis and occasionally pneumonia. I’d be down for six to eight weeks at a time and it would take months for my breathing to return to what was normal for me back then. My nails were brittle and my scalp was always dry. My hair would fall out in handfuls. My skin was even affected. I was tired all the time and listless. My posture was awful and I had a hump shape to my back because of excess fat. I had one across the hips too and would often suffer horribly from sciatica. Standing up straight was impossible because of both the weight and years of trying to make my almost 6 foot tall frame appear shorter. I was klutzy because I was so self-conscious and I was always falling.

The transformation started and here’s the answer to Sally’s query.

As Sally mentioned, it wasn’t just the weight that came off. Everything started to heal. My skin and hair were better. My nails became stronger. My posture improved. The sciatica was a thing of the past. I wasn’t horribly hot all the time and I could actually sweat. But what was happening inside was more remarkable. Just over two-thirds of the way through this weight loss I was diagnosed as diabetic and put on insulin, and, as you probably read in earlier postings, I reversed all need for diabetes medications. My enlarged heart started to reverse, my liver enzymes sorted out, my blood pressure went down dramatically. Over a decade of infertility was resolved because my hormones leveled out. Diabetic retinopathy, a serious eye condition, started to heal. My cardiovascular health improved and I can breathe. I can run up the stairs and not have to pull myself up with the banister. Even intimacy is different. Not just with my darling husband but even something simple as hugging a friend. Hugs no longer make me cringe.

Now I’ll tell you about the emotional side of things. This change in me has been as much to do with weight-loss as it has to do with the confidence that came from putting on a backpack for the first time and going into the wilderness. That energized my spirit as well as my body. I wanted more. As the outer transformation started so did the inner changes. I finally decided to become a Mom. In the same year I started pursuing my dream of becoming a published author and freelance writer. I started doing things that I loved again, and picked up a sketchbook for the first time in years. I embraced being daring and did things I thought I could never do. Things that others told me I couldn’t do—canoeing, backpacking, cycling, running, and hiking. I did them despite the naysayers. The more I did, the stronger I became and the more things I wanted to try. I started thinking positive and accepting that I didn’t have to put limitations on myself just because others had—that I can do anything I put my mind to.

I’ve embraced that I am my own person instead of trying desperately to be who others want me to be. I share my opinions even if they differ from my friends. I make the first move to introduce myself to new people and I am strong enough to walk away from negative people who try to sabotage my efforts and hold me back. I even garnered enough courage to teach wilderness cooking workshops and am considering becoming a motivational speaker. Teaching, even though it was my dream, was something that I would have never done when I was obese, because I was just way too self-conscious. I am no longer so ashamed of the obesity and I can share my “before” photos because I’m proud of what I have accomplished—that I have overcome what I once thought was impossible.

So there you have it. Losing weight isn’t just about what others see on the outside, it goes far deeper that. It is a culmination of a healthy body, mind, and spirit. It’s about creating boundaries with how I fuel my body while breaking the boundaries of what I perceive I am capable of doing from a physical standpoint. It’s about becoming whole and being confident, meeting challenges head on and accepting myself and all my idiosyncrasies.

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Tomorrow is a beautiful word and one so full of promise. It signifies a fresh start and a day with potential. Tomorrow is also the beginning of a new year for me so I’m taking a few moments to look back over the past year and to the future.

Last year, the day after my birthday, I wrote about my milestones. Today, as I await the arrival of a dear friend for a running date, I am going to share how that has changed in a mere year and what new things I have decided to add to the list.

First on the list was achieve my final weight loss goal. I didn’t set a timeline for this but I am within 17 pounds! I’m almost there and I’m very proud of that. It is certainly refreshing to be able to shop in regular stores now and it is definitely more economical. The second milestone was to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is, simply put, my way of life.

Third, I was planning to run a 5K race. I did it, as you’ve likely read, and I also went on to run 8.4K in a hilly trail relay and 10K at a nighttime trail run which was comparable to the relay for difficulty.

I mentioned that one of my goals is to write a book about my weight loss journey and that is still on the table. I signed a contract for a third camping-related cookbook that will be released in 2014 and have been concentrating on it. That said, I’ve started writing my story and will work on it as time permits.

Being Mommy to a toddler and a pre-teen is busy especially with a husband who travels extensively so there are some milestones that will have to wait a wee bit longer. That didn’t stop me from trying some new things though. In early July I bought a bike. We rode about 425 km over the summer. Our family did some camping and hiking as well. I even ran in Algonquin Park—twice!

In August I made the decision to run a half marathon after getting the all clear from my medical professionals. I chose a race and booked it which means I will be running my first half in May 2013. So much for it just being one 5K race!

Here is the revised edition of my milestone list. Just like last year, some of these goals are more immediate than others.

  • Run the Mississauga Half Marathon (already booked!)
  • Learn how to drive (I’m studying for the G1)
  • Finish my third cookbook (in the works)
  • Bike the entire L’Petit Train du Nord (230K each way)
  • Write a book about my weight loss journey
  • Pursue a career in Health & Wellness (motivational speaker, dietitian, or diabetes educator)
  • Complete the 25K Run for the Toad
  • Participate in the TREAD relay (again)
  • Complete a triathlon or adventure race
  • Hike the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu
  • Visit Nepal
  • Hike the Annapurna Circuit
  • See a Kermode or Spirit Bear
  • Visit the East Coast
  • Volunteer for an expedition on another continent
  • Learn to speak French
  • Rock climb
  • Learn to rappel

I’m sure I’ll have loads of other things to add to this list as time goes on.

What are your milestones?

B(e) Positive!

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my little shadow

Funny, I don’t often think of myself as being an inspiration even though my intent of starting this blog was to be just that. I blush profusely when I read comments from strangers such as “I just read your story. Love it! That is so incredibly inspiring.” or “Everyone has the power within themselves to be great and Laurie exemplifies this so beautifully. What a force & exceptional role model for believing in your inner power & strength.” I find it somewhat overwhelming but I also find that it is motivating for me in so many ways.

Going public with my story was profound for me and summoning up a great deal of courage to put it out there has been a gift as well as a learning experience.  Being open about my story has taught me a great deal about how strong I am. To know that I can make a difference to someone who may have similar struggles helps me move forward on my own journey. However, there was something that happened recently that makes me realize how much responsibility comes with the lifestyle choices I make. It was a little closer to home.

The other day I had just come in from stretching after a trail run and as I walked by the full length mirror on my closet door I realized something… I have really great legs. I know that sounds full of vanity but I love how they look and feel. I paused, flexed, and marveled at their definition with a bit of wonder. Hmm… when did that happen? I didn’t remember them being quite that way. I said to my husband, Bryan, “When did I get such defined leg muscles?”  He chuckled and reminded me that I’ve always had strong legs but mentioned that he noticed a while ago that they had become very toned.

A few hours later my almost 2 1/2 year old daughter, Kaia, was in the kitchen with him. She pulled up the hem of her pants to her knee, pointed her toes and flexed her calf just as I had earlier. Then she said “Daddy, I need talk to you. I have muscles.”

Later that day Bryan told me what she did. It isn’t the first time she has mimicked me. Kaia adores stretching when I stretch and playing with her soccer ball like I exercise with the stability ball. However, it was in those few moments, while listening to his story about my baby girl, that I realized there is something bigger at play here. You see, this reminded me that Bryan and I are probably the most influential role models for Kaia and her brother Tobias—a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly.

B(e) positive!

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