Success Redefined

How do you measure something that there is no clear definition of? Something that is not actually quantified by everyone the same way? How can one person simply define a word and it be the pinnacle and definitive answer for everyone. Simple, you can’t, I can’t.
Each and every single one of us must sit back and look at the big picture and look to see what we are trying to find success at. Are you successful can be such a loaded question, and lead down so many roads. It can lead you to a very positive or very negative place based upon where you are mentally and how you interpret the question.
In the health and wellness world how do you view success? When I started losing weight I was over 400 pounds. I know you have read it over and over again but it bears repeating because I will never forget it, I felt as though I was going to die. I was trapped inside a tomb that was my body. I had high blood pressure, dangerously high, I had high cholesterol, horrendous triglycerides and the thought of doing anything except driving around delivering packages in my car, and drinking red bull and Starbucks at all hours of the day and night was my reality.
I am still not at my goal weight, I got to about 250 and my life went through a shift. My personal life underwent an overhaul, my professional life went through a complete shift where I went from working nights and weekends to a 55+ hour a week shift that starts at about 3:45 every weekday morning. I regained in the neighborhood of 50 pounds and if I didn’t know better by most of the definitions that I can think of that would make me a failure.
WRONG! I make my own definitions of success, and I do not view this as a failure, because I am still trying. I am still actively choosing to pick the better choices for food. I choose to go to the gym instead of going to the coffee shop on Saturday mornings. I choose to push myself to be better I choose to get up and go.
I measure success not in the number on the scale, because a number while a unit of measure is not a measure of self worth, and is not a measure of what I have accomplished but in how I feel. I do not measure success in the size of my jeans, or in the number of friends I have or the number of miles I can run, which by the way is ZERO. I measure my success on the number of times I get up when I fall down.
I measure my success on how strong I can be, for myself and for my friends. I measure success in what I can give to others, and the strength I can share. This past weekend I participated in the #happy5k project. (Check them out on Facebook and Twitter!) I love this idea, it is a virtual 5k, and their motto is Have a Purpose, Push Yourself. I love this motto. As most of you know I am currently stuck in the pool for exercise (and if you followed twitter last nights dreadmill went horribly and I am back in the water until further notice) So I water walked my 5k.
I love that there are things like virtual 5k’s that I can participate in that allow me to have the sense of community with other athletes, that can give me the same rush and feeling of success that I had when I did the Prior Fat Pack 5k, or the Fathers Day 5k. I am hopeful that I will be back in action by the time the Color Run comes around in July, but since the treadmill killed me after 1.25 miles yesterday and I can barely walk due to heel issues from it today we shall play by ear.
I had a successful virtual 5k, I am part of something bigger. I love it!
So I will continue on babysteppin-waterwalkin my way thru one setback at a time as long as it takes.
I am a success story, I will forever be my own success story, I just have to decide how I want to end my success story… luckily there is still too much of the story to be written to worry about an ending.
Are you successful? Do you keep pushing yourself despite the odds to get where you want to be? How do you define your personal success?

Just Keep Swimming, Walking, Jumping, Playing!,

I invite you to climb into the way back machine with me for a moment. Crank it all the way back to your childhood. Remember those awesome school lunches, whether it was mom or dad packing you your very favorite lunch, be it peanut butter and jelly or a ham sandwich. What was the very best memory of school? Was it math class, or science? I was partial to dissections myself so science for sure, but many people think back to recess! I never really enjoyed it, the fat kid that sat alone and had no friends, was not picked last because that would require participation and there was no participation… But that’s not what this is about.
At some point in our lifetime we go from having playtime and recess to having to go workout. Why do you suppose that is? This morning I went to the gym and had a great time. I did my normal 45 mins of water walking/jogging that I had been doing, and was fully prepared to do more as my body allowed but instead found myself with a few friends playing an impromptu game of water volleyball. Now that being said I have exactly ZERO hand eye coordination. I was super hesitant to even join in at all, but with a little bit of coaxing I had what was quite possibly the most fun at a workout ever!
Laughing at the ball flying backwards, getting splashed in the face, chasing people around the vortex pool. We had become a group of grown up kids and it was pretty awesome!
I would have never even thought to play ball ever, let along engage in this activity in a public setting where anyone could see me. I am so grateful to have such awesome people in my life that help me to step out of my comfort zone and push me to do things that I think I can’t do.
Laughter heard the soul, smiles light up the room, and friends lift you to unimaginable heights. I am thankful to have had adult recess today at the pool, today I did not workout, today I played, and I cannot wait to go play again soon! Remember it isn’t about how much you can do, it is about doing something, anything, to get moving.
So what do you do to play? I don’t think that going to the gym and getting on the dreadmill sounds like fun, are any of you on a sports team? Bowling soccer kickball? Do any adults still play?


So several days ago… maybe more than a week at this point… Mer, over at Making over Merbear tagged me in a post… I saw she did, but with my nutso work schedule I didn’t really have a chance to sit down and respond to it. So lets take a moment and not be *that* person and I’ll share a bit about me!
Post 11 Random Facts about yourself, then answer 11 Questions….

Random Things about me!

  1. I broke my hip twice as an adolescent
  2. I am a supertaster
  3. I could swim before I could walk. (I was part of that controversial water babies program back in the 1980’s)
  4. I still look online trying to find my best friend who moved away when we were in second grade.
  5. I wanted to be a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon when I was growing up, I read medical books for fun.  I still try to keep an eye on new medical developments and read medical texts for fun.
  6. I have a scar on my left leg from where my brother put an axe in my leg when we were kids.  He was trying to build a playground in the garage with an axe on the cement floor… It ended in tears… mine not his.
  7. I have ehlers-danlos, a “rare” genetic connective tissue disorder.  It is a medical zebra condition.
  8. I had never had a Hostess or Little Debbie product until I was in my late twenties… and when I finally had one, I didn’t like it.
  9. I carry a mens wallet
  10. I collect sheep (if only I could keep real sheep in the city!)

Mer’s Questions for me:

1. What is your main reason for living a healthy lifestyle?

I thought I was going to die, I have too much life left to live.  I was in so much pain physically that I didn’t know what I had left to lose.  I wanted to be able to spend the time I had left enjoying life, not suffering through it.

2. What would you say is your “go to” quick emergency snack?

I don’t do much as far as snacking, but if I am in need of a snack usually there is some kind of veggie in my fridge, either carrots or cucumbers and hummus.  There is also generally a bag of frozen peas in the freezer.  Thaw those out and I love to snack on them!

3. What is your favorite exercise and why?

Probably swimming is my favorite exercise.  Sadly my new gym lacks a pool, but those are the breaks.  I really enjoy the ease of the elliptical and my ability to just zone out.  My new gym also lacks those, but has arc trainers as a substitute.  They are very similar and just take a bit of getting used to.

4. Why do you blog?

I blog to let others see that there is hope.  There is always someone out there that is going through the same thing.  There is someone who started where you are, or is going where you are, or who can provide feedback support guidance, which is all awesome.   At the end of the day it is all about me.  I blog for me.  I want a record of my struggles, I want proof that it wasn’t easy, I want proof that it didn’t happen overnight, that there were more successes than failures, and that it was worth the work.

5. Dogs? Cats? Both? Neither?

I love both, I had both growing up.  Now I have neither and desire either!

6. Have you “given up” any foods for healthiness reasons? Will you ever have it again? Why?

I have not given up anything 100% for the sake of my diet.  There are things that I don’t eat, but that’s in general stuff I didn’t ever really eat like McDonald’s.  I still go there for two things.  Coffee and a cone.  I find that deprivation diets set you up for failure.  This is about a lifestyle change and what I wanted from this was to find a way to live my life the way I wanted and I will not get through life pretending things I wanted don’t exist.

7. Are you doing or have you or are you considering a paid-for weight loss program? Which one? Why do you do it or how did it help you? If not, what are you doing on your own?

I would love to try something like slimgenics or medifast, but the cost is super prohibitive for me.  I am sure if I did the math with what I pay for my food etc would make it all work out, but I just can’t justify spending money on something that I can do on my own.  I cook my own food workout on my own and pretty much play by my own rules.  It worked for the first bunch of weight… although it looks like it may be time to find something new.

8. Tell me about a dream vacation, one you’ve been on or one you’d like to go on.

I have been to Alaska twice.  Once was just a cruise, and once I went for a cruise and land combo trip.  Both were amazing for their own reasons, and I would love to go back again.  The first trip I met a boy, we had a shipboard romance, crazy teenage love.  It was awesome, taught me a lot about being who I am, and being comfortable about being myself!  The second trip taught me a lot about being alone, I was with my mom and it was just as my divorce was final.  The scenery wa amazing and it is just a whole different world up there.

9. What do you use to blog mainly? Mac? PC? iPad? Phone? and where do you find yourself when you are blogging…desk, couch, coffee shop, bed, kitchen table?

I used to blog from home, on a pc, I blogged a few times from the WordPress app, two of those posts got eaten!  (Horrible I know!) Now in general I blog only on the weekends, from the comfort of a coffee shop, usually a caribou coffee with a latte and a hot tea.  It is my decompression time.

10. Introvert (recharge with alone time) or extrovert (get energy from people)?

Both! I find i strike a balance between the two.  I get lots of energy from being around my friends, and other people but at the end of an outing I need to go home decompress and find some time alone to process and recharge myself again.  It’s very hard to explain.

11. What is your favorite quote that keeps you motivated?

Choose your hard.  Everything in life is difficult… you always have a choice… you choose how you want to do things.

Do you comment on my blog and have a blog? Repost and let me know! Hey #f2fpackers I want to hear from you! Post this to your blog! 🙂

One Breath, For My Roots

The second person to speak at #OBOS was Philly D, who I had never met before, mostly because my schedule has never allowed me Friday nights to go hang out with all the cool kids at hot yoga.  Happily that is changing and I will soon head off to my first Hot Yoga class in the near future!  Anyway, Phil had me in tears for most of his discussion.  He shared some very personal stories about his sister and some volunteer work that he does at a Children’s hospital with cancer patients.  A boy who communicates only by RAWR-ing because he thinks he is actually a dinosaur… because they are strong… I can relate. #rawr.

Do you know what the difference between being and doing is?  So many of us say I want to be BE healthy.  The dictionary defines being as something that exists.  That is something that I did for SO MANY YEARS in my life… I existed.  If you look back on this blog you see me talk about feeling like I was watching life pass me by because it was.  However doing is defined as action, performance, and execution.  I don’t know about you all but I sure want to be doing not being.

Remember the human doing project at Mall of America last year… they had him DOING… so think about that… to be healthy you have to DO.  There is a local health insurance company here that has a DO campaign and they truly have hit the nail on the head.  To be healthy you have to DO.

I am sure you are sitting there going so what Kris… we all know we have to workout, so Phil said go do Yoga right?  He owns a studio this is what he wants you to do right?  No.  It is hard to explain exactly what he was talking about in general or specific terms if you have never had that moment that wakes you up from that dark place, so forgive the bulleted nature of this.  I am going to try to not weep as I think about how much impact his words had on my heart.

Phil’s wish for each of us is that we can learn to be more awake in our lives, that we can me more aware of what is in front and around us.  In order to Rise Up and meet life, you must first wake up to your surroundings.  You must tune into yourself, make deliberate choices about your breathing, and movements, feel your body, feel your breath.

As you move through this life and become more aware of things you will know when something feels wrong, and when something feels wrong you will learn that you need to step up and stand up for others.  As you rise up you will see things that are unfair and unjust and you cannot ignore them.  They will not change unless someone speaks up.

As you rise up you must reach out and down to others, this is part of why Jen (@PriorFatGirl) shares her story, and a very big part of why I am so open and honest on my blog about my struggles.  When you reach out to others you let them know that there is hope, help and strength.

Be what you love in life, and use what you love to make a difference because it isn’t actually the length of your life that makes the biggest impact it is the width.  The more people you reach, and they in turn reach creates waves and ripples that will effect more people than you ever intended.

He also spoke about how important it is to be aware of your word choices, which was also something Mary spoke about.  The words you choose to define yourself, your life your goals and the things in your mind can really set yourself up for success or for failure.  Do you remember my Can’ts Won’ts and Don’ts post? Go back and read it… I felt like they both took a page right from my blog and were telling me to go back and read my words… Kris make sure you are picking your words correctly.

After hearing both Mary and Phil speak about how can’t and and won’t and don’t are so often confused I really felt like I had a grasp on something strong.  I know when I first had that moment of clarity about those three words back in August it really was something amazing.  It really becomes a more about DOING what you have to do and less about what you want.  I can’t cook healthy meals for my family is actually I don’t because my family won’t eat them.  Well guess what you CAN because you make those decisions.  I can’t workout because I don’t have time is really I don’t workout because I would rather watch tv, and I won’t give up that addiction to finding out what happens on that next episode of Lost (okay, I am out of touch but so what!) You get it right?

Who has control of your life?  Do you have control?  Who did you give the control to?  Are you ready to take it back?  Only you can!

One Breath, Because It’s Hard!

Let’s be honest, my head is still swimming, or moreover my heart is still in overwhelm from Saturday.  The #OBOS events always hit me right in the chest.  I think it is because I let myself be vulnerable, because it is a necessary part of getting to the root of why I became 400+ pounds.  I think it is also crucial to helping others along the way.  So that being said, once again the topics covered hit right a bit too close to home, which of course were just what I needed.

Jen started out the morning having us close our eyes and raise our hands if we had felt recently that our journey was overwhelming or hard etc.  With my eyes closed, (but wanting to peek to know for sure) she assure us that we all had our hands raised.  I always secretly don’t want to raise my hand just to be “That Asshole”.  The point of the exercise isn’t about raising your hand anyway, it is about knowing that we are all there together, and I get that.  We all struggle, whether it is with motivation, or finding time to *whatever*.

Mary took over the conference just after that, and the topic she first brought up was, “Is being healthy hard?” Well, yeah! Duh! If it was easy there wouldn’t be the multi billion dollar pharmaceutical industry that exists, and the search for the magic-cure-all pill wouldn’t be happening.

This made me think about how we define healthy though.  Is healthy, the right weight, is it being fit, is it being off medications, is it fitting nicely in a box, or a certain definition?  It isn’t the same for everyone.  So it becomes very important for you to define your health your own way, and plan your goals and strategies the right way.

Mary started speaking about how sometimes our ideas and situations change, and that sometime the changes we make that are intended to be lasting changes aren’t always lasting changes.  For example, I joined the YWCA, it was awesome when I started out.  Since my new job started however it is not as convenient for me to work out there.  The hours are less convenient and I started using that as an excuse.  So my change to working out several days a week was no longer a part of my life.  This change didn’t last. Do I view this as a failure?  No Way!  This is a setback.

See, life is fluid, this is why all those checklists in magazines and 10-step’s to the perfect life type things don’t work out for any kind of long-term success.  You have to be prepared to be flexible and change your plans as life throws you a curveball.

Mary touched on a lot of things that I have come to on my own, but I have this problem… see I, like many of you I imagine, have these amazing moments of clarity and then they just pass, and I forget, or think perhaps they aren’t as great as I think they are.

Some examples of this are, Keeping an eye on “Your Bottom” line.  This is mostly about maintaining weight, but also pertains to when you are stuck in a plateau.  If you get comfortable in a place you become complacent.  Think oh it’s okay I am staying within these 2-lbs so it isn’t a big deal.  My lifestyle is changing and I am not.

I JUST went through this, I started my new job, and I wasn’t going to the gym because I was just plain exhausted, but I was eating the same.  The scale creeps around, and before you know it things are headed in a bad direction FAST.  You always need to be pushing the envelope, not necessarily to lose weight, but keep your eyes on the prize at all times.

Remember setbacks are going to happen, this is a part of life! They happen to everyone! Everyone falls, get back up, keep moving forward. You need to be prepared for this.  Remember everything takes practice which means that everything that you are doing is practice! So be prepared with a backup plan, know what tools you like, and what tools in your arsenal work best for you and use them.  Also be on the lookout for new things to try.

Did you read that…

Everyone falls, get back up. Keep moving forward. Falling is not failure. Failure is giving up, not getting up.

These words are a gift to you.  Let them sink in.  You need to remember them.

Another important thing to remember is that it is important when trying to do anything, whether it is lose weight or run a marathon, that you have to be doing it for the right reasons.  The right reason for me isn’t the right reason for you, and if you aren’t doing it for the right reasons you aren’t going to find lasting success.  That class reunion that you want to look awesome for, what happens when you go, and no one cares that you lost all that weight from when you were 15?  What happens after you break up with that girlfriend that had been making you go to the gym or train for that 5k?  Was the reason that you wanted whatever it was yours or theirs?  You can’t do it for someone else, you can only do it for yourself.  Looking back on my life, I WISH someone could have stopped me before I got to the point in my life where I knew I was going to die.

There were so many dark days in my life where I was so miserable, depressed, in so much pain, and I thought I was at rock bottom, and I just kept going down.  There are also so many people in my life who I see, and I want to push to rock bottom so that I can help build them back up, and make them want to save their own lives.  Sadly all I can do is offer a hand up when the time is right and hope that I can inspire them by doing what I need to and want to for my own reasons.  I got a taste of what I like to call the good life and I know what I want now.

Nike says “there is no finish line.” Which I totally agree with.  When it comes to things like living a healthy active life there will ALWAYS be something to do, try or achieve, however this brings up a great point… when there is no finish something is not a race which means it is perfectly acceptable to go at your own pace!  While at times I feel as thought I am sprinting towards my own goals, there are other times where I feel as thought I am sitting still on the track and lately I feel as thought I have turned around and am headed in the wrong direction altogether I need to be reminded that this isn’t a race.  The path I am on may have a loop or two but if I keep moving forward I will make progress.  Baby steps are still steps, I just need to keep making them.

One super alarming statistic that I heard during the event was that if you do not act on a new idea or concept within 48 hours there is a 50% chance that you will NEVER act on it.  This wasn’t surprising, as much as alarming… and I suppose it is very true.  This is why it was SO IMPORTANT that I act on switching my gym before I just decide to keep sitting around of going and using the hours as an excuse to not go!  When I first joined the gym in 2009 it was also an ACT NOW moment.  I drove past, and thought… I should probably check that out sometime… pulled a U-turn and headed back.  Enough waiting… if life has tought me nothing more it is that time is precious and it shouldn’t be wasted.  If you want something you MUST go after it… and don’t wait!

There was a bit of talk about setting goals, and knowing what goals actually are.  I personally really like the idea of setting up “S.M.A.R.T.” Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)  and I think that is what Mary was trying to get at in her discussion about pushing for deeper goals that allow you to form strategies with them. For example, I want to be healthy is an extremely vague goal.  However I want to get off of my blood pressure medicine by losing 15 pounds is a much more specific measurable goal.  With those things you can then formulate a plan of attack with diet and exercise.  Make lists of a few things to try, keep trying, and you will make progress on these goals and before you know it your goals become a reality!

Sometimes you have to learn to accept that your lifestyle isn’t going to match what your goals are, and something has to change.  Each situation you are in presents an opportunity for you to learn something.  You always have the opportunity to take something away from a situation, and it is your job to figure out what you are going to take away from it.  Sometimes it is very easy to spot what you are taking away from an interaction or situation.  Every interaction with a person or people can teardown or create a new level to your relationship, so be sure that you are doing all you can be, be present in that moment to foster what you want from that relationship, and this includes the relationship you have with yourself.  Don’t treat yourself poorly!

You need to acknowledge your feeling, learn to see them, feel them and lost of all how important it is to accept them.  It is perfectly okay and acceptable to feel sadness, or frustration, even regret is an acceptable emotion, everything you feel is okay as long as you let yourself feel it!  You know what is not okay?  Letting yourself eat these feelings,

One Breath, One Post

So for most of my long time readers you know how my life has been since, well since I moved here.  I worked some crazy hours.  Not that my hours now would, could or should be described as normal, but they are more normal than they were.  I have weekends off, and I sleep during the nighttime hours… mostly.

Saturday outings were almost always things that I missed, opportunities that I wanted to take, and would often pass on, with one exception.  When I saw a random tweet from @PriorFatGirl I knew destiny had taken a hand in my life.  I started following her blog, and twitter, reading back, learning.  Last year I asked to have someone cover my Saturday shift for a few hours and would pull an amazingly long few days (2pm Friday until 4am Sunday) to have the opportunity to meet some amazing people.  Happily I got some sleep during that time and slept after only being up for 30-some-odd hours.  That is neither here nor there.  That was one of the first ventures into meeting people from the blog community here in Minneapolis.

It has been an amazing life changer.  Shortly after that conference/get together/whatever is when I started blogging again publicly thanks to Jen.  There have been several One Step One Breath get togethers since that one, some formal, some just coffee and chat sessions, and I have not missed a single one.  I rearranged my schedule to make them possible, never sleeping before them due to my work schedule.  Well things have changes now and yesterday I had the opportunity to go to one without the added stress of thinking about the people who had to take over work for me.

I am so grateful for the people who I get to see at these events.  My brief encounters with my old friends, and chance encounters with new people are just so enriching to my life.  I foster so many friendships in such a short time I am so thankful to Jen for reaching out to all of us and giving us a safe space in which to share our struggles and feelings.

So really… I know why you are all here… You want to know what was covered right? You know Jen was there, after all it was her event, and Mary, from over at Fit This, Girl! was also there to speak.  Elle She has an amazing story to tell as well.  We also got to meet Philly D! Who is a yogi, and owner of the Moksha Yoga Studio that is the ever popular Friday night hang out for so many of my friends! The rest of the speakers were US! Believe it or not I count everyone that attends these events as a speaker! From Ann who spoke a bit about how to dress for outdoor running to Liz who was talking about some Weight Watchers things.
What you take away from these events is more than the two pages of notes that I have scribbled down (which I will get to don’t worry!). You take away emotion, you take away a little less, “Aloneliness” knowing that you were in a room where every single other person there has at some point crossed or will cross a similar struggle that you have.
So if you shared your story, or took part in listening to mine yesterday thank you.  We are all learning and growing together, and I hope that you took something away from the event that is exactly what you were looking for.

So what did I take away from the event… Stay Tuned! 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

Off To The Races!

This morning I will be taking part in my first annual Thanksgiving 5k.  I will be making this a reoccurring part of my future holiday plans.  I feel that it is important to start these traditions as part of my healthy life.  I love that I get to spend my morning with my friends since I don’t get to spend the dinner portion of my night with them.

I just wanted to take a moment to say Thank You to everyone that stops by my blog, thank you for your support along my journey!  Thank you for being here with me.  I am so thankful to have such a great support system with my friends here in blog-world and on twitter and Facebook.  I am also so blessed to have such an amazing community here in Minnesota.  Without Jen over at I dont think that I would have such a far reaching support system.

I am also thankful for the #f2fpack, they were there with me, through my first 5k all those months ago.  We all have our ups and downs and we keep trucking on through our journeys!

I am also thankful for the Charities Challenge and Gary Westlund in particular for being so amazing and supportive of those of us trying to make exercise a part of our lives.  If you are in the Twin Cities (or are coming into town) this is an AMAZING group to do a race with and I highly encourage you to.  They celebrate everyone finishing, because there are those of us for whom finishing really is a victory alone!

I am thankful this year that I continue to make the choice to keep being healthy in the face of negativity and criticism.  I am strong in my convictions and that I have found my voice.

I am most thankful that I am finally regaining my life and health.

I hope everyone has a spectacular day whether it is spent with family or friends, whether you eat a Turkey or Tofurky (yum!)! remember today isn’t about the food, it is about giving thanks for how blessed your life is.