2015 Year in Review

When I look back at this past year, I’m completely filled with gratitude. If I had to choose one word to summarize 2015, I would say enlightening.

So much has happened this year. So many changes, mostly on a personal level. When I entered the year, I was less than happy with myself. I had let myself get to a point of being somewhat unhappy. And complacent. Although I had so much going for me, a good job, had just bought my own place, I just wasn’t where I wanted to be. Most of that related to my health and fitness. I wanted to get back in shape, but was having a terrible time finding the motivation and will.

During and after my divorce, I had to find the strength to make some much needed changes in my life. I had grown through that period, but a part of me realizes now that I was kind of flying blind. I was going through the motions of what I knew I needed to accomplish. I glossed everything over, and plowed through, looking for what was on the other side. But I wasn’t fully processing everything along the way, and I didn’t realize that there was so much more to be done. I thought once I came through that period, everything would be ok. Magic. That’s where I got complacent. But life is funny that way. We are constantly growing and changing with the tides.

I’ve experienced so much more growth this year. I set my mind to making changes. I changed my diet. I started running again. I feel fantastic! I lost the weight (for the last time!) and I’ve been keeping it off just by being mindful of my choices. I’ve set goals for myself, and kept them.

I got in front of a camera for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-many years. Like, a real camera. Not just selfie’s with a cell phone. 🙂 And from a photographer that has spent so many years hiding behind one, it was time to practice what I preach. (And I’m gonna preach… get out there and get some pictures taken! Real ones. Do it for yourself and those that love you, just the way you are!)

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I had my first post-divorce relationship, if you’d call it that. And through that process I’ve learned even more. I’ve never been more comfortable and ok with who I am. I have a lot to offer, and either I’ll be accepted and appreciated, or I won’t. But what someone else thinks or feels about who I am or what I have to give, is not reflective of my own feelings. I can only be me, and staying true to who I am is so important. Sometimes friendship is all there is, and that’s ok. I think the biggest lesson here, however, is the importance of honesty. I have no time or tolerance for bullshit (ie people who hide behind lies and dishonesty in any way, shape, or form). At the end of the day, I aim to love the best way I can, treat others the way I want to be treated, show respect and appreciation, forgive when forgiveness is necessary, be honest and open with everyone, including myself, and hope for the best.

I also realized that I need to be challenged. I think running fills a bit of that void. It gives me something to work towards. A sense of accomplishment, too. But I also see the need to be challenged in other areas. I’ve been feeling underutilized at work. I love my job. And I love the industry and what I do. However, I also know that I am capable of so much more. I need something more challenging, more sense of purpose. So I’m going back to school to finish out my associate’s degree and work towards a bachelor’s. I need to feel like I am doing everything in my power to be my best self. And I couldn’t be more excited about it!

So yes, this year has been filled with enlightenment. Realizations that, no matter how much I love everyone else and want them to be happy, ultimately it comes down to doing what’s right for me. Accepting that maybe I don’t have it all figured out. That maybe the best is yet to come. My tag line says it all, I’m still learning to be me. The best me that I can be. One that I’m proud of, regardless of what anyone else wants me to be.

If you have never failed at anything, then you have never reached for a big enough goal. If you only choose goals that are safe, familiar and right, you’ll never stretch far enough to know who you really can become or what you are capable of doing.

To do something different, you will need to be someone different. Decide to leave your safety zone. Move beyond fear of failure to the possibility of authentically and consistently living your truth and creating a bigger life. You have something special. You have GREATNESS within you! ~Les Brown

Thoughts on Weight Loss vs. Healthy Habits

I haven’t talked too much about my weight issues and weight loss journey here yet. I know I’ve mentioned it a few times but that’s about it. Eventually, I would like to write about it a little more in depth. But for now, I have this one thought.

I don’t think I’ve ever really discussed actual numbers with anyone. And now, I will throw it all out there for anyone and everyone to see. Talk about feeling vulnerable. At my highest high, I was over 250 lbs. Yes, I’m close to 5’10”, but that number should not have ever been reflected on my scale. I don’t know the exact number, after you reach a certain point you kind of stop paying attention to the exact figures. Out of embarrassment. Or maybe denial.  I can tell you the very first time I joined Weight Watchers, I was 241 lbs. and had lost approximately 10 on my own before I joined. (actually that wasn’t the first time I joined, but the first time I really committed to it)

When I was on that journey, I had an ultimate goal of 150 lbs. I plugged along and got down to about 165, give or take. I felt great! Once I got there, I had decided I was perfectly happy with myself and my weight at that point, that I decided I didn’t need to be 150. And I didn’t.

And that’s when I stopped trying. And that’s when I started gaining again. I tried getting back to Weight Watchers. I knew the program worked, if you worked with the program. But I wasn’t in it. My heart wasn’t there. I was spending money, going to meetings, just to step on their scale. But I wasn’t trying.

I had some ups and downs after that. Stress mostly. Ok, it was all stress. And anxiety. Not a recommended way to lose weight, by the way. And certainly not long term. At least I would hope your stress level isn’t such that it would be long term.

And this takes me to the beginning of this year. I had finally decided to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak. But it was different this time. Instead of focusing on eating whatever I want, within a set number of points, I focused on WHAT I was eating. I started focusing on the health and nutrition and everything I put in my body. I got back to running. And I was in it for the overall health and fitness. And I was in it for the long haul. And I was doing it for me.

I counted calories for just the first couple months until I got my bearings. I needed some sort of concrete goal to strive for, to get the ball rolling. I was looking at calories, while also focusing on what those calories were in. 250 calories of fish and salad instead of 250 calories of pizza. You get the idea. And I started avoiding those things that cause me problems, abdominal pain mostly. It’s so incredibly amazing how satisfied our bodies feel when we are putting in the right ingredients. I found myself not needing as much when I was eating just what I needed. I wasn’t even hungry. And it made all the difference.

Again, when I started, I set my goal at 165, since I had been there before, and I knew I would be perfectly happy and ok with that number. And it’s just a number anyway. Just one part of an overall equation. Health is about so much more than the number on the scale, but it gives a good guideline.

I accomplished that goal. I continued to eat healthy, and run. I was just continuing what I had started, and focused on making good choices every day. I wasn’t depriving myself of anything, just listening to my body. This morning, I stepped on the scale, and for the first time since I graduated High School, I saw 1-5-0.

Let me take you back a few years. I don’t know how I remember this, but I do. I guess it just goes to show how I’ve always been slightly obsessed with my weight. But all through high school I was 147 lbs. I don’t know why. But it seemed every year when we had to weigh in the Spring and Fall, I was 147. Maybe that’s just the number I remember because that’s where I was most, but that’s always stuck in my head. So I probably hit 150 shortly after graduation, and kept on going.

If you haven’t figured out yet the point of this post, I’ll spell it out. 🙂 Health is all encompassing. There is so much to it, and more than just a number on the scale. But the most important thing to remember, is to do the right things for your body. Eating healthy, and moving more, is what’s most important. Losing weight is great. But doing it just to aim for a number on the scale will often set you up for failure. It’s so much more important and successful if you enter with the mindset of being healthy. Make good choices, and do what your body needs. And your body will give you what you want.

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Pain, Grief and Acceptance

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do. ~Brené Brown

Last month, I wrote a post on my birthday about learning to finally love myself. You can read that here. But I’m not perfect.

I love myself for all that I am. I really do. And I accept myself. But it’s a constant battle. Every day is something. Almost daily, I look in the mirror and see the body of the person I was 100 pounds ago. I know that’s not me any more, but that’s still what I see.

Almost daily, I find myself constantly wanting to ask “Why?”. I know I’m a wonderful person, inside and out. And it’s what’s on the inside that matters more than anything. But I still wonder.

It’s a daily thought process of mine, reminding myself that I’m perfect just the way I am. Even though I’m not perfect, far from it. But I constantly see all my mistakes, all my imperfections, and I wonder if that’s what everyone else sees too?

Fall is a very hard time for me. My absolute favorite season, but it bears so many negative reminders. My birthday. Every year for the past 5 years I’m reminded that I don’t have someone to take me to dinner and celebrate. My divorce was finalized in October 3 years ago, another reminder of my failures. And this year a friend posted that they are celebrating 20 years, they were married in 1995, as was I. I don’t think I ever allowed myself to grieve that, given all the other circumstances distracting me. October also marks the anniversary of my ex’s trial, another painful reminder. And through it all, I’m reminded of how strong I’ve had to stay. Carrying so much on my shoulders.

I know I’m strong. I know I’m independent. I know I’m beautiful. But I constantly have to remind myself of these things. And of what I’m capable of. Physically and mentally.

I just applied to go back to college to work towards a bachelor’s degree. Something I’ve always thought of, and never done. I often wonder if part of my desire stems from wanting to be better. Feeling like I’m not good enough. As if some degree will make me a better person. (It won’t, I know that. I’m going back because it’s something I’ve always wanted. Again, proof for myself that I’m capable.)

Like running. I run because I can. I prove to myself regularly that I’m capable. That my body can accomplish far more than I give it credit for.

All these things weigh on me daily. And I just keep pushing through. And trying to remain positive and smile.

And then today happened. Earlier this month, I actually paid a photographer to take photos of myself and my kids. It was more for me, truth be told, but I really wanted pictures with my kids also. It’s been almost 10 years since I had photos of me with them (and of course my ex was in those too). It was money I didn’t really have to spend, but I did it for me.

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And today I got the previews. It was all I could do to keep from tearing up at work. Looking at those photos and seeing me for the beautiful person I am. And accepting what I see. Seeing me still smiling after all I’ve been through. And happy.

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And I’m once again reminded of why I love photography so much in the first place. I always wanted to give others that feeling of being proud of who they are. And showing that love and beauty through the lens. And this is also why I advocate for everyone to get in front of the camera! It’s so important, to do it for your family, but most importantly, for yourself. Especially as women and moms. We get so caught up in everyone else, that we forget about ourselves.

So thank you so much, Scarlett. For making me feel beautiful. And worthy. And reminding me exactly what I’m made of. And that yes, I AM enough. I will treasure these photos always.