Tuesday, November 12, 2013

One Year Ago. . . . .

A year ago today, was the first day I ever worked out with my personal trainer, Justin Killeen of Pioneer Valley Fitness.  That day I started taking my life back  and I am so glad that Justin is part of that. 

Has it been the year I wanted?  Not exactly, but it is the year that I went through and learned so much from. 

First of all, I never thought I was a person with control issues, but I can tell you that is something I have learned about myself working out with Justin.  At the beginning I would fight him at every turn.  I would turn the treadmill down, tell him "I can't" and even tell him "No."  I wanted to be in control of the machines, how many reps I did, etc.  If I couldn't be in control  there were times that I panicked.  So much so, there was even a time that Justin had to physically hold me on the treadmill while I freaked out and finished what he asked of me.  When I did finish I felt such a sense of accomplishment. 

I have learned more than ever that I turn to food for comfort.  I mean, this is something that I have always known, but just how much really came to light this year.  There were times this year, and I am not proud of this at all, where I lied to Justin about what I ate and even lied to him about my weigh ins.  I did this because I was turning to food during tough times and then embarrassed about having to tell him that I had messed up AGAIN.   What was only supposed to be one lie ended up snowballing and everything caught up to me. 

I fessed up.  That was one of the hardest things that I had to ever do.  I thought for sure that Justin would let me go as a client because if you don't have honesty, then what do you have?  Justin didn't let me go.  He was hurt, but he forgave me and we put it behind us.  That really meant a lot to me and I knew from that day forward I would never lie to him again and to this day I haven't.

I had to figure out why I was turning to food for comfort and I had to figure out why I lied, so not only was I learning about my body physically, but I was also growing spiritually and mentally.  I have a counselor that has helped me with all of this. 

During all of these up and downs,  I had gained some of the weight I had lost back and I was really getting down.  I could either let this get to me or get my butt in gear.  I decided it was time to get my butt in gear. 

I'm no longer turning to food for comfort.  I turn to God, write poetry, and journal when I'm frustrated.  I also have a punching bag in my gym, so that comes in handy too.  I have always had a personal relationship with God, but this past year my relationship with Him has grown so much.  I love that God loves me where I am, how I am, and loves me for who I am and not what I do.  I've always known this, but this is the first time I really feel it and get it.

I figured out that the lying had a lot to do with worrying about what others thought and feeling like I was going to let people down.  I have spent my whole life worrying what others think, letting people down, and putting everyone else first.  After all the stuff with Justin I realized the only person I need to worry about is myself and I don't need to worry about what  anyone thinks anymore except God.  If I'm doing what He wants everything else will take care of itself.

Another thing I have learned this year is to be more communicative.    When it gets tough my usual MO is to not talk about it.  Keep things in.  Say that I am fine even when I am not.  Justin has made me communicate with him.  He won't allow me to say "I'm fine" anymore or be silent. It's not always easy to tell him how I am doing, but I am communicating better and things are going better because of it.  I am also making a HUGE effort to communicate better in my everyday life.  I do not need to keep things in anymore.  I stand up for myself when needed and let people know when things hurt me.  I feel so much better now that I communicate better.  Holding things in only led to me not feeling good about myself, which ultimately led to me turn to food for comfort and we all know where that leads. 

Another huge corner that I have turned is that I no longer hang on to the past.  That has been an up and down battle all year.  I had lost 106 before and I gained all of it back except for 1 pound.  I was looking to that as a major failure.  I was also dwelling on other mistakes from my past and situations that had come my way in life.  I was not forgiving myself.  In fact I was turning to food through all of this.  Even though I felt bad about gaining the weight back I would turn to food, which would just make me feel worse.  It was and is a vicious cycle and one that no one will understand until they have walked in my shoes. 

In the last few weeks God has really freed me from my past.   He tells me to not dwell on the past in the Bible.  It says in Isaiah 43:18 "Do not dwell on the past; Forget the former things."  If God can forgive me and doesn't dwell on my past mistakes, it was time for me to do the same.  I feel like I have turned a HUGE corner with this and it was like a ton of bricks was lifted up off my back. It will always be a struggle, but it is one that I am beating more and more everyday. 

My goal this past year was to lose 100 pounds.  Did I hit that goal?  No.  Am I disappointed?  I was at first, but as I looked at the past year and all that I have learned and how much I have grown, I know that everything that happened, happened for a reason and I am exactly where I am supposed to be. 

How much did I lose?  I have lost 30 pounds this year.  That is on average 1/2 a pound a week.  I'm back at it.  I'm mentally and spiritually the strongest I have ever been and I look forward to this next year.  I know that with God, Justin, and my Counselor, James, helping me I will hit all the goals that I have. 

Justin, thanks for a great year.  Thanks for never giving up on me.  Thanks for not letting me quit when I wanted to.  Thanks for holding me on the treadmill.  Thanks for challenging me.  Thanks for all the encouragement.  Thanks for getting tough when I needed you too.  I look forward to this next year and am so glad that I have you by my side. 



Monday, October 07, 2013

Another poem

I have been turning to God's word when I am stressed lately.  I am trying to turn to God for comfort and not my old stand by food.  I have been taking the scriptures I read and writing poetry based on those scriptures.  Here my latest poem:

Be Still by Melissa Black

"What am I going to do?  Which way do I turn?
I need help.  For help I yearn.

"Be Still"

My heart is racing
I'm up and I'm pacing.

"Be Still"

Decisions I need to make
Medicine I have to take

"Be Still"

I can't fall asleep.  I get no rest.
I'm trying to figure out what is best.

"Be Still" 

I let fear rule my thinking day after day.
"What if" is a question I often say.

"Be Still" 

"What is that?  What do I hear?
In the midst of the chaos, a voice is near."

"Be Still and know that I am God." 

"Be still, listen, it's going to be ok. 
I am God I will take all the chaos away.

You don't need food for comfort or approval from others.
I am your friend and I will stick closer than a brother." 

I'm glad I listened and was still.
I can't do this on my own.  I never will.

If I can just remember this I know I'll be alright.
I need to give it all to God, for me He will fight.

Psalm 46:10- He says, "Be still and know that I am God."

Proverbs 18:24- One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Deuteronomy 3:22- Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God Himself will fight for you.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Poetry instead of food

Tonight I wanted to turn to food for comfort, but instead I wrote a poem. Here is it:

My heart is broken, hurting, torn apart
which way do I turn, where do I start?

I look to the left, I look to the right
who will help me through this fight?

People close to me, look to me, they have a lot going on.
I don't know what to do, I'm overwhelmed even though I'm supposed to be strong.

I'm not feeling well.  All I want is to be healthy
I look up and ask, "Who is going to  help me?"

The Lord answers me and says, "Remember I created the heavens and earth
and I've been here to help you since the day of your birth.

Just call out to me, I hear what you say.
I will help you.  I will help you,  day after day."

So I tell Him what is going on and all my concerns.
He says, "don't worry my child I won't let you get burned."

So tonight I go to bed knowing everything will be ok
and tomorrow God will help me face a new day.

As I sleep I know I can rest
Because God NEVER slumbers and He ALWAYS protects.

This poem is based on Psalm 121 1-3

1-I raise my eyes toward the mountains where will my help come from?

2-My help comes from the Lord. The Maker of heaven and earth

3-He will not let my foot slip, My protector will not sleep.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Loving all of me

I have some amazing friends in Colorado that I met on Facebook. Richard and Carlos are their names. Richard has lost 160 pounds and started a coaching business called Overweight To Endurance Athlete (O2EA). I met them through a friend and joined their Facebook group in early January of this year. I instantly bonded with the group as most of them have been battling weight issues and totally understand what I am going through. They are an amazing group of people.

In April Richard and Carlos came to Massachusetts so Richard could run the Boston Marathon. That is the first time I got to meet them in person. I hung out with them the day before the Marathon and it was like we had known each other for a long time. That is how I feel about everyone in the group. Richard and Carlos and most of the group members are based out of Colorado and are a great support system to each other. I have been super disappointed that they are in Colorado because I really could use the support that they all give to each other in person. I knew I had to go and meet these amazing people. That opportunity came sooner than I had thought it would.

My family and I planned a vacation to head out west for a road trip. I flew out early and spent 4 days with my O2EA family. I got to meet everyone that had been supporting me for months online. The first night we all got together it felt so weird to be sitting there, in person, with them all. Again, it was like we had known each other for a long time. I got to hang out with them, workout with them, and talk with them. It was just the recharging I needed to keep going in my journey.

One of the highlights was climbing up Richard and Carlos’ backyard with Richard. (They live on top of a mountain) We sat up there and talked awhile. He was encouraging me in my journey, but pointed out that he could tell I wasn’t happy. He asked me, “Can you look in the mirror and say that you are happy?” I realized in a lot of ways I am not happy. I told him that when I look in the mirror there is still a lot of things I don’t like about myself physically. I don’t like looking in the mirror. Yes, I have come a long way in my journey, but I still see how far I have to go. I still see the parts of me that I don’t like.

As we talked I realized that I am still looking back more than I realized. I always talk about RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION. No looking back at the past, only look forward to the future, but I slip from time to time and look back and remember losing the weight the first time and remember gaining it all back and think about how I failed.

I told Richard that there are A LOT of things that I love about myself and he said, “You can’t just love some things about yourself. You have to love all of you.” People over and over have told me that I need to love myself where I am right now. That losing the weight is not going to make everything better. That if I don’t love myself now I will not love myself any better just because I am thin.

I have a God that loves me unconditionally. He loves me flaws and all. He never leaves me, never gives up on me, and doesn’t ask me to be a certain way for Him to love me, so why do I do that to myself? I just don’t know how to get past what I see in the mirror and how I feel about myself, to love me where I am today. I pray and thank God for all that he has blessed me with. I ask Him to help me see myself as He sees me. I try to forgive myself for the mistakes I have made in the past. I pray and ask Him to help me see all the positives and to learn from the negatives. I ask Him to teach me to love myself as He loves me, but it is hard and I have been struggling with this a lot lately.

I know some of my blog posts seem to repeat themselves, but for those of you who have struggled with your weight or are still struggling with your weight you understand that this is a cycle. That the mental part of this process is the hardest and if we don’t work on the mental aspect we will never have the physical achievements that we want.

Recently I asked myself if I were to never lose another pound would I be ok with that and the answer was no. That saddened me because I am not defined by the scale or my appearance yet I am basing so much of my happiness on that.

I keep thinking that dropping the weight will make me happy, but after a lot of reflection I know that this is not true. I need to love all of me right now, right where I am. I’m not sure how to do this, but I am going to work on this, because being unhappy is not where I want to be.
With God’s help, my counselor’s help, my family and my amazing friends’ help I know I will be able to overcome this. Thanks Richard for our talk on top of the mountain. It was hard, I cried, I have reflected on what you said, and have grown because of it. I truly believe God puts people in our lives for a reason and I thank God every day for you, Carlos and my O2EA family.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Perspective From a New Friend

This is a picture of my new friend, Sara. Today we met for coffee, but it is not the first time we met. About a year and a half ago after moving here I was training for the Las Vegas Half Marathon to raise money and awareness for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. I was out jogging in my new home town, went out a ways, and started heading for home. On my way home someone out running caught up to me and ran with me for a few minutes. She told me I was looking good, asked if I was training for anything, so I told her. She really encouraged me to keep working towards my goals. A couple days later there was a generous donation added to my fundraising page from Sara. It really meant a lot to me and is something that has stuck with me almost 2 years later. We started following each other's journeys. I was very inspired by all that she has accomplished with her running. We really didn't talk much except through comments on each others blogs.

As most of you know the last 2 1/2 years have been very rough for me starting with a Crohn's diagnosis and a move across the country. I gained back 105 pounds of the 106 that I had lost. This has been hard for me, but as you know, November 5, 2012 I started taking my life back. I work with Justin, my personal trainer and to date have lost 50 pounds on my way to losing around 150 pounds. The last 6 months have been a roller coaster of emotions and hard work. I'm proud that I have lost 50 pounds, but I am still dealing with a lot of emotional demons that make it hard. I'm getting stronger every day and am very proud to be on my way.

I decided a while back it was time to do another race. December 2011, the 1/2 marathon mentioned above, was my last race. It was time, so after talking to Justin, I decided it was time to do a 5k. I started my training and was back on the same road slow jogging in the same direction that I was that day so many months before. My knee was hurting and I was battling a Crohn's attack. I was praying to just make it to the police station, which was in the distance, to use their bathroom. I had my music on and the next thing I know, there is a car driving along side me. I was startled, but this lady, was totally encouraging me. "Keep up the great work. You're looking good. Thanks for the inspiration. I just had a baby 10 weeks ago and you are totally inspiring me to get out here running again." I said thanks and just like that she drove away. It meant a lot to me that someone would stop to encourage me. I have heard horror stories of some of my plus size athlete friends having mean things yelled from cars, so I was very grateful that she was encouraging me. As I was making it the last few yards to the police station I suddenly realized who that was. It was the same lady, Sara, who had encouraged me months before on the same road.

I follow her blog, so when she mentioned the baby I put two and two together and realized it was her. It really put a smile on my race and made the last few yards to the police station more doable. As I was using the bathroom a text came into my phone. It was Sara tweeting, that she had seen me out there and that I was doing a great job. It made me feel good because the last thing I felt was anything, but good in that moment.

The next day I had received an email from her apologizing for heckling me from her car. I told her that she could heckle me anytime. :) We started exchanging emails and knew that we needed to meet for coffee and not just at the side of the road.

Today was that day. We talked about her precious baby, who I got to meet. How priorities in racing change when you become a parent. How after children it is so hard to get back where we were. We talked about goals, dreams, our kids, our husbands, the Boston Marathon, Ironman, and so much more.

One thing that really stood out to me is that Sara was talking about her own journey and how she can't wait to be a fast runner again and qualify for the Boston Marathon again. She is hoping to qualify at a marathon this fall. She was telling me that in just the last week there were two times she did not want to get up and train. She had a chest cold and was very tired, but she looks at her goal of running Boston and has goals a year and a half out, and knew if she didn't get up these two mornings it would affect her goal of Boston and her goal that is a year and a half out. Everything she does is leading up to those goals. Every moment, every choice, will affect the outcome of those goals. WOW, that just hit me.

I have goals. I want to lose 30 more pounds by my trip to Walt Disney World on September 8. I want to lose 100 total pounds by my 1 year anniversary with Justin. I have a goal of a half Ironman in 2014 and Ironman Wisconsin in 2015. These are my goals as far as my health goes and my races. I have been struggling the last few weeks. Everyone has been very patient with me, my counselor is helping me with the mental aspect, and I am ready to take back control of this journey.

I am going to cling to my journey's theme Bible verse, Isaiah 43;18-"Forget the former things; Do not dwell on the past." What has happened has happened, it's done. There is nothing I can do to change that, but what I can do is change what is going to happen from this moment forward. Every decision I make right now will affect the outcome of the goals I have. It can affect my goals in a good way or in a bad way. Every food choice I make, every time I justify my way out of working out, every time I tell Justin "I can't do this," every time I sit down to watch TV or spend way too much time on the computer, or turn to food instead of God for comfort are all decisions that will have an adverse affect on my goals.

Every time I get up a little bit earlier to workout, every time I put the junk food back,every time I turn to God instead of food for comfort, every time I fight the urge to justify not eating right or working out, every time I fight through the urge to run when things get hard, every time I trust Justin and JUST DO IT, every time I don't get in my own way, every time I believe in myself and do what I need to do, these are all the decisions that will have an AWESOME affect on my goals.

I've been spending too much time lately feeling sorry for myself, not focused, and sliding backwards. My dream to do an Ironman, has been just that, a dream for 6 years now. It's time to make that dream a reality. I have the people to help me make it happen and today, I have a new perspective. Sara told me today when it is hard for her to do what she needs to do, she envisions herself crossing the finish line at The Boston Marathon. She envisions herself getting her medal and the feelings she gets when she does finish and it helps her to do what she needs to do. I have worked the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin several years now, I have worked it in Arizona, and in Canada too. The feeling of watching my friends and family finishing that race and being able to put their medal around there neck is amazing. As I struggle to make the right decisions I will take a moment to think of the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin, I will imagine them saying, "Melissa Black, You are an Ironman" and will then make the right decision, so I will be ready to start that race September 2015.

Sara has a 4 month little girl. I can see how much she loves her and wouldn't change anything. She has goals now to get back to where she was as far as running goes, before her baby girl was born. I know she will get there, she will qualify for Boston again, and will race the best race of her life because of the perspective she has going into training for this race and the most amazing thing will be when she crosses the finish line she will have her little girl there greeting her. What a role model she is for her little one. Her daughter will grow up knowing that she can do anything she puts her mind to.

We all have obstacles that come into our lives. Whether it's Sara having a baby or me getting a Crohn's diagnosis, it's time to overcome these hurdles and reach our goals.

When I cross the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin I will have an almost 18 year old daughter and a 16 year old son. I will have shown my kids that no matter what, no matter how long it takes you can reach your goals and have your dreams become a reality. Today I stop dreaming and start making this a reality.

Thank you Sara for not only a new perspective in my journey, but also for a new friendship. I cannot wait to be in Boston cheering you on to the finish line.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Total Transformation Final Blog Part 3

In this part of the essay I write about who I became during the 12 week challenge.

Who Will You Become?

Every week when I got my Body Building emails the question was asked, "Who will you become?"

Here is what I became over the last 12 weeks:
◾A stronger person
◾A confident person
◾Someone who is doing things she never knew she could do.
◾Someone who says I can instead of I can't
◾An athlete
◾A person who can look in the mirror and like what she sees
◾An inspiration to others
◾A role model to my kids
◾Someone who finished something for the first time in her life.
◾A person that is ready to take on the world instead of staying in and hiding from the world
◾Someone who walks a little taller
◾Someone that can so no to people
◾Someone who now knows how to set boundaries and keep them
◾Someone who doesn't care what people think anymore
◾Someone that is finally putting herself first for the first time in her life.
◾Someone who WILL reach all of her goals and dreams.

Here is who I will become when I reach my dreams and goals:
◾I will be an Ironman
◾I will be a marathoner
◾I will help obese kids and their families better their lives.
◾I will be a role model to others and help them take back their lives.
◾I will have lost 150 pounds.
◾I will be mentally the strongest person I have ever known.
◾I will be closer to God.
◾I will write a book.
◾I will be happy with who I am no matter what is going on.
◾I will always look at life positively and live with my glass half full, not half empt

I will always look back and remember the Total Transformation as a key point in taking my life back and will always be grateful for this start to my journey.

Total Transformation Challenge Final Blog Part 2

In this part of my essay I talk about what motivated me during the last 12 weeks

My Motivation

The one person that motivates me the most is my mom, Patti. She died obese at the young age of 53. She left behind 4 kids and a husband and a very promising life My mom did not take care of herself. I am a lot like my mom. Some traits I love sharing with her, but being overweight and unhealthy is one way that I don't want to be like my mom.

I also have two wonderful kids, Tricia and Parker, who deserve to have their mom around for a long time. They motivate me all the time and even help me eat healthy.

My personal trainer, Justin, has been a key person in my motivation before and during this challenge. He believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. He encouraged me to join this challenge and even on the dark days he never gave up on me. I have been known to push people away and quit when things get hard. Justin is the first person who didn't let me push him away and would not let me quit. He is a great personal trainer and knows just how to help me and keep me motivated and help me see what the final outcome will be.

Another person that motivates me is my friend, Rich Kalasky. He has lost 160 pounds and is now an endurance athlete and coach. During the 12 week challenge he was there for me every step of the way. I could call or text at anytime and he would talk me through the hard stuff. It was great because he has been exactly where I am, so he understood.

Rich introduced me to the most wonderful saying RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION. I was having a hard time with how I had gained all my weight back and just felt like a failure. Rich kept encouraging me to keep moving with RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION. He told me that no matter what happened in my past and whatever will happen in the future I need to just keep moving forward. Keep my eye on where I want to go and not on where I have been. Rich, also encouraged me to always be positive. No matter what you are going through you can always have a positive outlook. I have adapted these two concepts into my journey. RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION is now my daily, hourly, and sometimes even minutely (I know it's not a word) mantra. This has been great motivation for me.

Another person that motivates me is Jesus Christ without Him I am nothing. My favorite Bible verse that has helped me through this journey is, "I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength."-Philippians 4:13.

There were times during this challenge that things got really hard for me. There were weeks that I gained weight. There were weeks that I had hard personal things come up and I didn't think that I would be able to make it. The last thing I wanted to do was workout and there were times that I gave in to my old habits and ate things I shouldn't. I had to learn how to deal with the emotional problems without turning to food or self sabotaging myself.

This is when my motivation was the lowest. I found that I wanted to quit and could care less. I worked with my counselor, James, worked hard, and realized that I couldn't keep doing this cycle. I would have a few good weeks and then hit a low, so low I had hard digging myself out of the pit. He gave me tools to use, we worked on hard things from my childhood and during this 12 week challenge I really had a huge turn around in my mental health, which then turned into 6 weeks in a row of me losing weight.

My motivation came back and I knew that I would never go back to those dark days. This has been some of the hardest things I have had to work through, but am so thankful that I did. My counselor and personal trainer really stuck by me during these times and I'm so thankful they did. If they didn't I don't know where I would be today.

I think it is great that I have so many people in my life that motivate me, but really the most important person that I need to have motivate me is me. If I cannot motivate myself I will not get to the gym, workout, or eat right.

I did not lose all the weight I wanted during this challenge because of these dark days I had, but I'm ok with that because the mental transformation that took place over the last 12 weeks was amazing and something that I'm so thankful for. I'm a completely new person and there is no stopping me now. I'm so motivated to now keep going and finally hit my goals. I have dreamt for a long time to be able to release a lot of pain in my life and during this transformation challenge that has finally happened. Thank you so much for your part in my physical transformation, but more importantly my mental transformation.

Total Transformation Challenge Final Blog Part 1

12 weeks ago I signed up for a 12 week weight loss challenge at the urging of my personal trainer, Justin Killeen. I just finished it this past week and had to turn in my after pics and a final essay. I will be posting my final essay in three parts. Here is the first one.

The gray pictures are my before and the pink pictures are my after pics.

In 2008 I weighed in at 306 pounds and knew that I had to change my life. I worked hard over the next 2 years and lost 106 pounds. In 2010 I was diagnosed with Crohn's Diease and was put on Prednisone and it caused me to gain back 50 pounds. After that I moved to Massachusetts from Illinois, where I lived for 27 years It was hard to move and make friends and during the first year of living here had some depression and gained the rest of my weight back minus 1 pound. I weighed in at 305 pounds.

In October 2012 I decided I had had enough and went for a walk. It was a tough week. I wanted to quit, but I pushed myself and finally was walking home and I saw a sign for a personal trainer. I emailed him that night, we talked on the phone, and on November 5th, I started with him and have been having success.

In December he sent out an email to all his clients and encouraged us to join the Dynamatize Nutrition Total Transformation Challenge. There was no way I was going to join. I had joined other contests before and failed. I've self sabotaged myself and felt like I had failed, so I didn't want to join another challenge and fail and disappoint my personal trainer, Justin. I knew I wasn't going to do it, but Justin kept encouraging me and finally I gave in. I was all set to do this.

We met together and made a plan.

My Workout Schedule

The first thing we talked about was my workout plan. I was only meeting with Justin once a week, but we changed that to two days a week. We would workout on Mondays and Fridays and concentrate on my weight training. The rest of the week I would concentrate on burning the most calories I could. I was burning around 1000 calories a day when not working out with Justin. I would also do core training. Later on in the 12 weeks I added a third day of weight training. I used the elliptical, treadmill, jump roping, and boxing to get my heart rate up and burn the most calories possible. I also took some hikes and really surprised myself with what I could do and accomplish.

My Nutritional Plan.

Next up we talked about the nutritional plan with Justin. I would be eating 5-6 small meals day 2-3 hours apart. My meals would include lean protein, fruits, veggies, and some starches like sweet potatoes and brown rice. I also quit eating out for the most part and only drink water and green tea. I had my days were I gave into temptation, but overall my nutrition plan was a good one. I also was introduced to protein shakes (see My Supplement Plan). I would have one shake in the morning before my morning workout, one midmorning, and one after my evening workout. These were a great addition to my nutritional plan as I never felt hungry.

My Supplement Plan

When we discussed my nutritional plan we also discussed what I would do for my supplements. I had never included supplements into any program I had been on. I have to take a lot of pills for my Crohn's Disease and thinking about taking more pills was just a turn off. I didn't realize that taking supplements was not just pills. However, I did add Fish Oil to my pill regiment. I learned that it will help keep my heart healthy, my blood pressure normal, and a healthy immune system, which is really good for someone with Crohn's.

I started taking Amino Energy before my workouts. I love this stuff. It really gave me just the boost I needed to up my workouts and get more out of my workouts. Next up, I would take Glutamine after my really hard workouts to help with my recovery. I also, as mentioned above, I started drinking protein shakes. I used Vanilla flavored performance whey. I really loved introducing protein shakes into my program. I love how full I felt after drinking a shake. These are all things that I will use even though my 12 week transformation is over.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I'm finally heading NORTH

March 13, 2013, is a day that changed the course of my healthy journey. It was another nomal day of working out for me. I wanted to get 2 hours of cardio in before starting my day.

It was a very beautiful day out. The weather was perfect, so I knew I had to take my workout outside. I have a route I usually run that takes me about an hour and I decided I would do the rest of my cario in the park by my house, but a little voice spoke up and said, "Hey Melissa jog to Mt. Sugarloaf and hike up it."

I tried to ignore the voice, but it wouldn't stop, so I started out jogging/walking to Mt. Sugarloaf. Within 5 minutes my calves were on fire. I've been having some goofy issues with my calves, so I thought I should turn around and go home, but that voice told me to keep going. I was starting to dislike that voice very much, but felt the pull to keep going, so I stretched out my calves and continued on my way. I had to walk most of the way to Mt. Sugarloaf, but I finally made it to the base.

I remembered about an "easier" trail that a lady told me about, so I started up the mountain. Within about 5 minutes, if that, I knew I was in trouble. The "easy" trail goes straight up the mountain. After using a few tree branches to help me up, I stopped, and took a break because both of my calves were cramping up again. I leaned on a tree, streched them out and was trying to decide what to do. I looked down and then up. Neither option was looking promising and I wanted to cry, but I sucked it up and told myself that I could do it and the only option for me was up. I had to climb over and up tree roots, rocks, and huge manmade stairs! My feet slipped on icy leaves and on mud. I even got a little puncture wound, from a branch, on my sore calf, which ended up bleeding for awhile.

This is a picture of the trail and the tree roots I had to climb. I basically bear crawled up this part.

After all of this I finally reached the top. The last few steps, when I knew I would make it, were just the best feelings ever. The tears just started and I couldn't stop them if I wanted to.

As I got to the top I realized I was stuck. There was a chainlink fence and another part that was fence posts with two ropes that were made out of metal (it's hard to describe). There I was stuck just steps from the top with no way to get there. I knew there was no way I was going back down the way I had just come. I had overcome too much. I needed to get to the top no matter what obstacle lay in my way.

There was no way I was climbing the fence, so I decided to go through the 2, not too flexible, metal ropes. I was worried because of my size, but I pushed forward and got through just to have my foot get caught, so I'm laughing, while crying and finally get untangled and then hike the final few steps to the top and I sit down and look out for miles and I lost it. I just start bawling like a baby.

I wasn't crying just because I made it to the top, I was crying because that hike represents my life. Every step, every leg cramp, every tree root, every rock I climbed, every time I slipped and every drop of blood coming from my leg represents all the obstacles I have faced in my life.

In the past at the first sign of pain, I would shove it down, turn around and retreat. The pain was too much to handle then, but not this time. In the first 5 minutes, after hiking, and seeing how hard it was I wanted to quit, but something was different this time. I didn't, I kept going.

Each obstacle I overcame was like a weight being lifted from me. It was amazing, which is why I just started crying at the top. Those close to me know that I hate to cry. I've gotten very good at stopping myself when I start of just not starting at all. My big fear is that when I start I will not be able to stop.

As I sat there crying I realized I was starting to stop myself, so I did one of the hardest things I've ever done. I let myself cry and the floodgates were opened. I let years of tears fall. It was so amazing! It was like my heart had a cleansing and a load had been lifted and then the most amazing thing happened, I stopped crying. My big fear did not come true. I was actually able to stop after letting it all out.

As I got ready to head down the mountain I thankd God for this moment. I knew in that moment it was His voice telling meto hike up Mt. Sugarloaf that day and I thanked Him for having me listen, which I usually don't do. Then I prayed and gave all of my troubles to Him. I gave Him all the problems of my past and anything that will come up in my future. I left them all on top of Mt. Sugarloaf that day. As I sat there I just pictured leaving it all there to blow away in the wind.

I took a different route down the mountain. It symbolized for me not going back to the obstacles that I had just overcome. Those are in my past and there was no reason to revisit them, to dwell on them. They were done. I walked/jogged down the main road. Parts of it were covered in ice and at one point I slipped and fell, but picked myself right back up. As I kept working my way down I thought about the ice and this symbolized to me that there will still be days where I slip and fall, but I just need to pick myself right back up and keep moving with relentless forward motion. I cannot let the slip ups become big obstacles again to overcome.
This was ice on the side of the mountain and continued down half of the road.

I made it down the mountain and jogged/walked home with the biggest smile on my face. The person that came down that mountain was not the same person that cllimbed up it and for that I am grateful.

I have definitely turned a corner and cannot wait to see what's next for me in my journey.

I have had a favorite Bible verse for awhile now, but after this experience it takes on a whole new meaning. The verse is Deuteronomy 2:3, "You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn North." I am FINALLY heading North and it feels great.

If you have obstacles that keep tripping you up it is time to work on overcoming them. It is so worth it. Stick with it. It taken me years to get to this point. My prayer is that it won't take you as long and that you will quit circling your own mountain and finally head North. You won't regret it.

This post is dedicated to my good friend, John Patella. He knew this day was coming and kept encouraging me to just let go and cry when the day came and that is just what I did. Thanks John for sticking by me. You are a good friend.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CHEAT DAYS or should I say TREAT DAYS?

Lately I have been hearing the phrases "cheat day" and "cheat meal." I went on a trip recently and a friend told me, "Just plan out your cheats. Make sure what you have is really worth it." A lot of major diet programs out there are now building in cheat days into their programs. I saw it on a Jenny Craig commericial. This isn't a new concept, but seems like it is talked about a lot more now, so it got me thinking.

Ever since I was little and in school I've been told not to cheat on my homework. I've been told as I grew up and got a job that it is not ok to cheat an employer out of money. Once I got married I was told not to cheat on my husband. When I started doing taxes, same thing, don't cheat. CHEATING has always been bad. Always negative. People have been expelled from school, fired from jobs, and divorced from cheating, so for me to wrap my brain around cheat days and cheat meals being positive, well, I just can't do it.

I have tried every diet in my adult life. Every diet has told me what I can and cannot eat. It has been restrictive and when I would go off plan to have a treat, the guilt would consume me, which ultimately would lead to more bad eating. The cycle was vicious.

I have worked really hard to make healthy eating and working out a lifestyle for me. Like the picture says, "I'm not on a diet. I'm eating healthy." I am making sure that every aspect of my life reflects a healthy lifestyle. That is why when I hear the word CHEAT it has negative connotations. It insinuates that I'm doing something wrong. It makes me feel like I have to be sneaky. Afterall, when you cheat, you have to be sneaky or you'll get caught. I've lived too many years eating in secret and being sneaky when it comes to my food choices.

I don't want to think that I am cheating at all. If you are living a healthy and active life there is no reason to cheat. If you want ice cream, pizza, or a hot dog at the baseball game, go ahead. Just make sure it's not the whole tub of ice cream, the whole pizza, or a hotdog, nachos, and 4 beers at the game. Make treats part of your healthy lifestyle. Incorporate them into your program. Find healthier alternatives to your favorites.

As I've mentioned in previous posts the bulk of this battle is the mental aspect. In fact, I would say that 90% of my healthy lifestyle journey has been the mental aspect. I am finally getting to a good place in my healthy lifestyle journey. Don't get me wrong, I still have my bad days, but the good is definitely outweighing the bad. I am very postive in my outlooks and will let nothing get in my way of reaching my goals, that is why I don't want, the negatives surrounding the word CHEAT to enter back into my way of thinking.

I have decided that, on my journey, I will not be cheating. I will not have cheat days or cheat meals. I will not feel bad if I have a treat every once in awhile in moderation. I think that we need to take the word CHEAT out of our vocabulary when it comes to our healthy lifestyles. If you have to call it something why not call it a TREAT DAY or a TREAT MEAL. That is a much more positive spin on it and that is excatly what you are having, a treat, something not usually in your healthy lifestyle eating plan.

A while back I was on a family trip and I had someone constantly asking me, "Is that on your diet?" "Should you be eating that?" "Why are you eating that?" In their mind I was on a diet and I must have been cheating, but we were there for a wedding and I wanted a slice of cake. My slice was smaller than everyone else's there and I didn't even finish it. I enjoyed it and moved on. I had a treat. When the person asked me, "Is that on your diet?" I looked at them and said, "I'm not on a diet." They said, "Yes, you are" and I said, "No, I'm not I'm changing my life and wedding cake is part of life." They were very irritated, but the rest of the trip they didn't ask me another question about my eating. I was glad to have the food police off my back.

If cheat days and cheat meals are part of your lifestyle I'm ok with that. I just hope that I have made you look at it in a different light. Don't cheat yourself out of a healthy life by focusing on a DIET and what your next cheat will be. Focus on how you are feeling. Focus on your relationships. Focus on how much more you can do because you can finally move for once in your life. Focus on how you can have a treat, but not eat the whole thing. Focus on how you like fruits and veggies more than processed foods. Focus on how you finally walk a little taller and finally love the person you see in the mirror. Focus on how happy you are. All of these things are much better than any cheat day or any cheat meal you could ever have.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Relentless Forward Motion

This getting healthy journey is so hard. Over the last few weeks I've had a lot of ups and downs. The ups have definitely been more than the downs, but still having downs, which shows me I'm still not where I need to be mentally. There was a point a few weeks ago where I really let things get to me mentally. I mean, I was dwelling on my mistakes and ready to throw in the towel.

During this time I was talking to my friends Rich Kalasky and Carlos Hill. Rich has lost 160 pounds and started O2EA Coaching (Overweight to Endurance Athlete). They introduced me to a saying RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION. I was dwelling too much on my mistakes and the past and getting really down and Rich kept telling me, "Melissa, you have to move with RELENTLESS FOWARD MOTION. No looking back, no looking at your mistakes, just keep looking forward and moving forward."

That has really hit home with me and I have adopted that as my new motto. Yes, I still have bad days. Yes, I still get down, but now I just pick myself up and keep moving forward. Some days it's a little slower than other days, but I am still moving forward and not letting little mistakes side track me for days or weeks.

When Rich first introduced me to this saying I looked up the word relentless in the dictionary. It is an adjective that means, "Something that does not relent. Unyielding, severe, strict, or harsh. Something that is Unrelenting." It's synonyms are rigid, unbending, inflexiblee and adamant. I then looked up the word relent and it means, " to soften in feeling, temper, or dtermination. To abandon or relinquish."

I really studied those two definitions and decided that no matter what happens in my life I really do want to be relentless in my journey. No matter the circumstances, no matter what people do or say, no matter what distractions are put in front of me I need to mmove with RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION. I can't look back. I can't blame others or myself. I just need to do what I need to do.

While thinking about all of this I started to visual a horse with blinders on. When a horse has blinders on the only way it can see is forward. There is no way for the horse to see where it has just come from, it can not see to the sides too be distracted. The horse can only move forward. If the horse stumbles it just gets back up and keeps moving forward. Nothing will keep that horse from reaching his destination. People can try to tempt the horse with food, people behind the horse can call it, but with the help of the person on the horse, giving the horse direction, the horse knows to just move forward and keep moving forward to reach it's destination.

Today I am deciding once and for all to put on my blinders. No one is going to drag me into the past, no one is going to tempt me from the sidelines, and with the help of God, my personal trainer, and my counselor, I will keep heading forward with RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION.

What are you dwelling on from your past that is keeping you from RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION? If it is something big please see a counselor about it. I am in counseling and I am now learning that you cannot heal your future without healing your past. Does it hurt? Yes, it does. Is it worth it? Yes. I have had success with my weight loss before. I lost 106 pounds. I gained it all back and that is because I have never healed. Please heal the hurts of your past so you can have success in your future. You deserve it.

What are the distractions that keep pulling you from both sides? For me it is food, events, TV, and people. I have had to learn in the last few months of working with my personal trainer and counselor, that it is ok to be selfish during this time of getting healthy. I still care about people, but I care about myself more and getting healthy more and I cannot allow people or things to get in my way of my final destination.

Are you like me, when you fall down, you stay down? I have fallen down so many times and instead of picking myself up and brushing myself off, I stay down. I think to myself, "What's the point? I've screwed up already. I'm never going to be able to do it. I'm a failure." You get the point. As my Weight Watchers leader said to us once, "If you fell down a couple stairs, would you just say "Oh Well" and throw yourself down the rest of the staircase? No you wouldn't. You would pick yourself up, so you wouldn't get hurt anymore. How many times have you just given up and thrown yourself down the rest of the stairs? Aren't you tired of that? I know I am. I am tired of the pain.

Get your blinders on now and start moving with RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION. I'm still at the beginning of my journey and still learning this concept, but am improving everyday and learning more and more everyday and it sure is freeing. I hope that someday you can find this freedom too. It's a lot of hard work, but well worth it.

I just want to thank Rich and Carlos for sticking by me the last couple of months when it's been tough. I want to thank Justin Killeen, my personal trainer, of Pioneer Valley Fitness. Justin, you are the best and I look forward to hitting all my goals with you. Thanks for being patient with me and realizing when I say I hate you, I really don't. James, thanks for being my couselor over the last couple of years. You have really helped me learn so much about myself and I'm excited to see where all this current hard work is going to lead.

I'm a big believer that weight loss is not just physical. It is mental, spiritual and physical and I am thankful to God for never letting go of me through all of this. He has brought all these wonderful people into my life to help me through all of this and I am grateful for each and every one of them. As my counselor always tells me God is the ultimate SOURCE and He gives us the RESOURCES we need to make it in life. So thanks Guys for being God's resources in my life.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Reflections from the last few days.

To say that I have been struggling for a little while would be an understatement. I have been struggling for sure for the past week if not longer. Last week’s weight loss shows that I have been struggling. Yes, I lost a pound, but it should have been more. Last Friday, I was just awful to my personal trainer, Justin and I have spent time recently being mad at my counselor.

Whoever said that 90% of a healthy lifestyle is mental and the other 10% was the physical change wasn’t kidding. My counselor, who I have been with for over 2 years now, thinks that I am finally strong enough to deal with some issues from my past that I have gotten good and shoving down and not talking about. I’ve liked not talking about them. I’ve liked forgetting about them and thinking that I was moving on, but now I see that the things that happened to me in my past have shaped me into who I am today as an adult.

My counselor said that if I don’t heal this old wounds I will never completely heal, which could be why I have never had full success with my weight loss journey. He knows how important it is for me to lose the weight and keep it off for good this time, so it is time to heal these old wounds. He is helping me talk about it. He is helping me face it. He is helping me remember things I have enjoyed forgetting about, which is why I get mad at him. Yes, I know when I get mad at Justin or my counselor, it is misdirected, but I get mad at them for making me face these demons.

Justin and I have had a rough few days. Not because of Justin, but all because of me. Back to Friday’s personal training session. I was AWFUL to him, just awful. I had an attitude, told him no, and took my sweet time getting to what he told me to do. I’ve lied to him since we started working out together and have even lowered the intensity on a machine when he wasn’t looking. I have hired him to help me take back my life and I am 27 pounds down since we started, so why do I get so mad at him? Why do I complain and give him an attitude? I do it not because I am truly mad at him, but mad at myself. Mad at myself for gaining back the weight, for letting myself go again, for giving in when I could have made different choices, and most importantly mad at myself for believing all the lies that I have told myself for years. What are those lies? Here are just a few:

-I don’t deserve to be happy.
-I need to take care of everyone else and make sure they are ok.
-I’ve failed once at this weight loss thing, what if I fail again?
-I’ll never be able to reach my goals
-I’m not pretty.
-I will lose friends when I lose weight.
-I’m leaving my kids too much to go workout.
-Why do I need to work on the past? I was fine with how things were when I shoved it down and didn’t talk about it.
-I’m comfortable being overweight and scared to be thin.
-I will be letting a lot of people down if I don’t do this.
-I can’t. . . . . (fill in the blank) lately it’s been “I can’t do the treadmill.” Justin literally holds me on there, so I won’t go off the back when I panic.
-I’m not good enough.
-I can’t do anything right.

This morning I got an email from Justin asking me to write something everyday. To reflect on what is going on in my head. I’ve been reflecting all day. I realized today that since I was young I have always strived to keep the peace. When people don’t get along I always try to make things right. For many years I said YES to everyone, no matter what. I try to make everyone happy and try to please everyone. I don’t ever want to disappoint anyone or let anyone down. I realized everything I do is for others. I put everyone above myself.

I sent Justin a text last night. I was telling him that I was not going to workout and told him, “Sorry.” He simply replied, “Apologize to yourself.” That little sentence really hit home with me. I was feeling bad for disappointing him, for letting him down, but realized today, that the only person I have been disappointing and letting down all these years is myself. I spend so much time making sure everyone else is happy, but inside I am dying, I am unhappy. Why do I repeatedly fall into the same traps?

I had an amazing personal trainer named Matt. He was my first personal trainer ever. I hired him in 2008. When things started getting hard, we butted heads, and I let him go because of “personality conflicts.” There were some valid points to that, but looking back now I can see that I was doing the same thing that I am doing now. Getting mad at Matt, lashing out at Matt, I remember Matt even saying that I was lying to him. Sound familiar?

I moved on to my next coach, Bob. Again, another amazing trainer. The one thing that Bob always said to me was, “Melissa, we really need to work on the emotional stuff with you cause when you have a high, you really have a high, and when you have a low, you really hit rock bottom and have a hard time getting out of it.” He would also get frustrated when I would just shut down when it got hard and I would just stop communicating. That came to mind last night and today when I was eating crappy food and wanting to just throw in the towel and say, “forget it.” Between Matt and Bob I was able to lose 106 pounds. It took two years, but I did it, but then my lows started happening, Crohn’s, a move, depression, and it all just got the better of me and now I am working with Justin.

I see some of the same patterns emerging with him. I wanted to call him last night and call it quits, tell him it is too hard, but I didn’t. Just like Matt and Bob wanted the best for me, so does Justin. I cannot keep living like this. When things get hard I want to run. I want to curl up in bed and not talk about anything, but I can’t keep doing that. As the good Doctor Phil would say to me, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” It’s not. Justin is sticking by me. Even if I wanted to run the other way I know he wouldn’t let me. My counselor knows I want to bolt, but he is just loving on me and cares and won’t let me go. Most importantly my heavenly Father is holding onto me too and has never given up on me either.

I am ready to break free from all that is holding me back. Am I scared? Heck yeah!! Will it hurt? Heck yeah!! Will it all be worth it in the end? Heck yeah!!!

Above I listed lies I have been telling myself. The only way I am going to get better is to live in the truth. My great counselor has told me to only worry about things that are true. If it’s not true than forget about it. All those lies above are untrue, so I need to forget about them and live in the truth. What is the truth?

-I deserve to be happy. Nothing I have ever done or will do will undo this truth.
-I do need to take care of others, but I need to take care of myself first. If I am not taking care of myself how can I even begin to take care of others.
-Yes, I have failed in my weight loss journey before, but there is no WHAT IF’s this time. I am going to do this because I am taking care of all the issues in my life and you know what? If I do fail again I will just pick myself up, dust myself off, and start over and there will be no shame in that.
-I will reach every goal that I make.
-I am beautiful inside and out.
-I need to work on the past because it will heal me completely, so I can move on. I was not fine when I shoved it down and am now seeing the effects of that. I will take care of the past, so I don’t have to live there.
-I am not comfortable being overweight. I can’t wait to be thin and I will look that fear in the face and do what I need to do anyway to reach my goals.
-There are so many people that love and support me. None of them will ever be let down or disappointed in me. They loved me before I lost weight and will love me after I lose weight and everywhere in between.
-I CAN, I refuse to let the I CAN’T’s back in my life. Remember, Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
-I’m good enough.
-If I can’t do it right the first time I will keep trying until I can do it right. I need to believe in myself.

So Justin, asked me to start reflecting on what’s going on inside my noggin’, so there you go. These are just some of the thouhts I've been having yesterday and today. I will keep writing, so I can sort all of these thought out and will keep posting them so you can come along on this crazy ride called life. Thanks for all your love and support while I sort this out. I couldn't do it without you all.

Monday, January 28, 2013

$100,000 Transformation Challenge Blog Post #3

I am at the end of a 1 1/2 day trip with my family. We went to Rhode Island. With a lot of planning ahead I was able to stay on track with my eating and working out. Here is the blogpost I wrote as part of the Transformation Challenge I am part of. Enjoy!!

Planning Ahead

Well, today was the end of Week 1 for me and I am sitting in a hotel in Rhode Island out with my family for a day and a half. I have to tell you I kind of freaked out thinking about going away for this weekend. I talked to my personal trainer. We worked out what I needed to do with working out and eating while I was gone. We would meet on Tuesday morning for my weigh-in and my workout, which we usually do on Mondays.

I checked ahead and the hotel had a pretty nice gym, pool, and hot tub. Good, I could keep up with my workouts, which I do twice a day. Then I made a list of everything I would need. There were 20 things on my Food and Working Out List. I brought all my own food, snacks, protein powder, and even my Ninja Blender. I also packed my own dumbells and medicine ball in case the gym didn't have those. I was not going to let anything slip through the cracks.

I am eating a pretty strict diet right now and I wanted nothing to get in the way of my success while gone. The whole purpose of our trip was to go to the American Hockey League All-Star game . We were two nights in a hockey stadium. I brought in bottle water, hummus, and baby carrots. I was not even tempted by the food around me. It was crazy to think that I wasn't tempted, but rather kind of sick watching what everyone else was eating and to think that used to be me.

I made sure to get up early yesterday and workout before heading to church. After church we headed to Rhode Island, went to the hockey game, and came back to the hotel. I was tired, but knew I had to get my second workout in, which I did. Woke up early this morning and got in my 2 hour workout before having fun with the family. Had a fun day, went to another hockey game, and came back and just finished working out for my 2nd workout today.

Tonight before the hockey game we went out to eat. This is the only time that I had stress with the plan. I had checked the restaraunt's online menu only to get there and be told that they had recently changed their menu and hadn't updated the online menu yet. Between my strict diet and my Crohn's Disease I really couldn't eat much on their menu. When I asked how their grilled chicken breast was prepared, they told me that it was grilled in butter and oil. I asked if I could get my plain and the chef said, "No, it won't taste good." I actually cried right then and there in the restaraunt and decided that I want to stay in for the next 11 weeks of the challenge.

I'm very proud of myself for all the planning ahead I did. It took a lot of thought and preparation, but because of that I have had an uneventful trip as far as my eating and working out. Without planning we can fall into the trap of saying to ourselves, "I'm on a trip with my family. We have to go out. I'm staying in a hotel, I can't bring my own food. It's only a day and a half, I can get back on track when I get home." You get the idea. So many times we talk ourselves out of doing the right thing because of what we think is an inconvience. When in actuality it didn't take me that much time to plan and execute my plan.

The result of all this planning is that I was able to have an enjoyable time with my family and stay on plan. I'm just glad that I only had to plan ahead for 1 1/2 days. My list was long and it took me awhile, so I can only imagine what it will be like when I'm gone a week in February.

Even if you are tired or don't feel like it, PLAN AHEAD and in the end you will be very happy you did. I know I am.

Even though I did well with my planning I am looking forward to getting home tomorrow. I am looking forward to getting back to my routines and working out with Justin. Tomorrow I weigh in and workout, so I will let you know how that goes.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

$100,000Transformation Challenge Blog post #2

Here is the next blog post that I wrote for the Transformation challenge.

It is called:

So as you read in my last blog post, I am in the middle of week one of this contest AGAIN.

After all the emotional ups and downs about signing up for this contest I finally took the plunge and signed up on January 15th. I took my pictures that night. I sobbed looking at my before pictures, especially the one of my back. It was the first time ever taking before pictures in a sports bra and biking shorts. This is something that I NEVER will do again. There will NEVER be before pictures again because I will NEVER gain this weight back.

I dealt with it and posted them. As I posted them I cried some more, but then stopped and realized that this was the day I was going to take my life back. I had met with my personal trainer, Justin, on the 16th, made a plan and that started day one of the contest. 84 days to go.

I quit eating junk cold turkey, that day. I started upping my workouts more than I had ever had. My life depended on it. I was excited to see where I would be at the end of the 85 days, so I worked hard. I worked so hard there were workouts where I threw up a little. I worked so hard I couldn’t catch my breath, but I kept going.

During the contest I will be working out with Justin twice a week. We will be working together on Mondays and Fridays, touching base the rest of the week. We worked out on Friday, the 18th and then again on the 21st. We had been working out before this on Mondays, so we kept my weigh in days the same. Every Monday morning would be my official weigh-in for the contest.

I weigh in, first thing in the morning and let Justin know what the scale says when he arrives for our training session. So when Monday morning arrived I was very excited to see how much weight I had lost. I knew that I had lost. My pants were finally getting big. I just didn’t know how much I had lost. On January 14th, I had weighed in at 291.1 pounds. For the first time in a long time I couldn’t wait to step on that scale.

I went through the routine of taking EVERYTHING off, even my watch, socks, and hair rubber band cause you know those weight A LOT. I stepped on the scale, and there were the beautiful numbers of 283.3. I weighed my self 3 more times to make sure I was seeing it right. I had lost 7.8 pounds the first week of the contest. I had lost almost 8 pounds in 8 weeks. It was a very exciting time.

I headed downstairs to sign into Bodybuilding.com to put in my weight loss. I was on cloud nine. I started looking around on my page and realized something was wrong. I immediately called the 24 hour hotline and talked to someone. It looked like my registration hadn’t gone through after all. They told me to email tech support.

I let tech support know all my info and asked them to confirm my registration. I let them know if it had not gone through could they please set my start date back to January 15th. I heard back from them and the answer was, “We are so sorry there was a problem, we are going to ask you to reregister and we are so sorry you will have to resubmit your before pics as well and we are very sorry, but there is no way for us to reset the date back to the 15th. Your date will start the day you register.” In a matter of 45 minutes I went from the most excited I had been in a long time, to defeated and angry.

I lost it. I cried. I was yelling and I couldn’t even enjoy the moment knowing I had lost 7.8 pounds in one week. My poor son and husband, I was pacing back and forth crying and yelling. At one point I yelled, “What was the point of all my hard work if it didn’t even count for the contest.” My husband said, “For your health.” I didn’t want to hear that in that moment.

Justin was due to arrive any minute for our training session. I was excited to tell him about my weight loss, but dreading telling him that it didn’t count. How frustrating. At that point I had wished I had just lost 2-3 pounds like normal. I know that may seem crazy, but when you have a goal in mind and it’s just yanked out from under you, your response doesn’t always make sense.

Justin was very excited at my weight loss. We were both frustrated with the contest glitch, but he pointed out that I now knew I could do it. I pushed through and did things that I hadn’t done before. I reached levels with working out that I had never reached before. I was still mad and it showed in my workout. I wasn’t doing exactly what I needed and was being stubborn, but Justin went all Biggest Loser on me and got me to do what I needed to and got me back in the right mind set.

I registered AGAIN that evening and retook those evil before pics. I even cried a second time. That night I started getting really sick. I had the worst head cold and it affected my working out and my motivation, but I am happy to report that I met with Justin yesterday and am back at it in full force. I am not expecting a HUGE loss, but know that there will be one and my head is back in the game and I am ready to go full force for week two.

There is a reason for everything that happens. I still haven’t figured this one out, but am really proud of myself that I did what I did during my FIRST week one. I lost 7.8 pounds. That is awesome. That is more than some of the Biggest Loser contestants on the show. I was able to quit eating certain foods cold turkey, drastically change my workouts, and do everything that was asked of me. Even though it didn’t count towards the contest I can hold my head up and am very proud of what I accomplished that week.

I am almost done with my official WEEK 1. I know the loss won’t be as big, but I also overcame a lot this week. I was sick, very sick, and still worked out and did what I needed to do for the most part. I listened to my body and slept when I needed to and didn’t push myself to make myself sicker. These are all things that I would not have done in the past. I will look to these accomplishments as I move forward for the next 80 days, reaching my goals for this contest and beyond.

I’m excited and am proof that you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to, so get out there and do it. NO MORE EXCUSES!!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

$100,000 Transformation Challenge Blog Post #1

For those of you who follow my journey on facebook you know that I have joined a 12 week weight loss challenge. It is put on by Bodybuilding.com. There is a weight loss category and a muscle building category with each grand prize being $50,000.

Justin talked me into to signing up and we are in the middle of week one of the contest. It's been a rough week with me being sick, but I am persevering. I would love to win a prize in the contest, but I am just as happy knowing that I am taking back my life and am excited to see, with Justin's help, what I can accomplish in the next 11 1/2 weeks.

Part of the contest is being active in their forums and writing a blog, so as I post there I will repost here. Here is my first entry. I posted it yesterday.

A little bit about how I got to be over 300 pounds again.

At the end of October 2012, after stepping on the scale, I realized I had to do something.

From 2008-2010 I had worked really hard to lose 106 pounds. I went from 306 - 200 pounds. I was so excited to finally be in the 100's after so many years. Over 20 to be exact. Then the unexplained started happening. I was throwing up, sharp adominal pains, unexplained digestive problems. The fall of 2010 I was in and out of the hospital for 2 1/2 months and by the end of it all I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. There is no cure, but it is a managable disease.

The first thing I had to do was go on a huge dose of Prednisone to get the inflamation down. If any of you have ever been on that drug, you know, that you balloon up. I gained 40 pounds back of the 106 I had lost. I was told, not to eat anything I had gotten used to eating to be healthy.

For the longest time I couldn't eat anything over 2 grams of Fiber, I was told to only eat white bread, pasta, rice etc. Popcorn? Never again. I was told, just eat chips if you get the crunchies. I could only eat canned veggies and very few fruits. No more berries, peel your apples, nothing with seeds. At the beginning and for most of the first year all my fruits and veggies came out of a can and everything else was the color white. As you can tell this recipe was not one for healthy eating and my dreams of getting in the 100's was slowly fading.

In the midst of all this I had to move across the country. I moved from the Chicagoland area, where I had live for almost 30 years to Sunderland, Ma, a small town of about 3500. The midwest and the east coast are very different, so the first year I just stayed in the house and didn't do much. Along with not knowing anyone I was also nursing some injuries. Again, not a great recipe for healthy living. My weight continued to go up.

Back to the opening sentence of this blog post. At the end of October, I stepped on the scale at home and weighed 305 pounds. I was devastated that I had gained all my weight back except one little pound. I knew I had to do something. I decided then and there I would take a walk, so that is what I did. I started walking and decided to go a route I hadn't been before.

I started out and realized after about 5 minutes this was going to be hard, but I knew I needed to keep going. I got to a certain point, was pissed at myself for gaining all this weight back, and I was ready to quit, turn around, go home, and soothe my feelings with food. Then it was like someone smacked me up side the head and told me to keep going. I actually argued outloud with myself, but I lost and I picked out a point in the distance to walk to and I kept walking.

When I got to that spot I crossed the street, ready to walk home. I was walking along when I saw this brown building with an 8 1/2 x 11 sign on the outside that said, "PIONEER VALLEY FITNESS. PERSONAL TRAINING." I thought to myself, "Hmmmm, that's nice." Then I got smacked upside the head again and I argued with the invisble force at hand. I said, "I've had a personal trainer before. They make you cry. They make you face crap you don't want to. I don't want a personal trainer." The force at hand, which I now know was God, made me take a picture of that sign and made me email the personal trainer, Justin Killeen. When I hit send on that email, I was scared, very scared.

We started November 5th, 2012. That first meeting was hard. We talked about a lot and at the end I felt like we were a good match. The hardest part was not telling Justin everything it was admitting to myself that I had let myself go, that I had not dealt with the mental crap. Yes, I had lost 106 pounds the first time around, but what was wrong in my mind, that I turned to food once again for comfort. Justin is helping me with the physical and I have a counselor that is helping me with the spiritual and mental aspects of this and I do believe that it all goes hand in hand.

Sometime in late December/early January Justin sent out an email about the $100,000 Transformation Challenge, to all of his clients. I was a little bit intrigued, but to be honest I had joined contests before and I never finished. I always self-sabatoge myself. I had decided that I didn't want to join the contest. I had just come of some of the hardest years in my life, had gained back all my weight, and just moved. I had enough going on without adding a failed contest to the resume.

Justin kept asking me if I was going to do it. Deep down I know I wanted to, but I was scared. Up to this point I had lost 15 with Justin's help. I thought maybe if I joined this contest and messed up I would just gain the weight back. I really didn't know what to do. Justin and I talked long and hard. I shut down and don't talk when I'm stressed, so this was very hard for me. After listening to what he said and after some hard long thinking on my own, I signed up. I knew it was time to face my fears and finally finish something that I started.

So here I am, part of the $100,000 Transformation Challenge. It is the middle of week one for me AGAIN.

Yes, you read that right. I am in the middle of week one of the contest AGAIN. To find out what I mean about that, you will have to wait and read my next blog post.

Until then,

Have a great day and BE GREAT today.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I have had a rough couple of weeks with my eating. Working out has been no problem, but for me I have to have a balance of eating and working out for me to keep losing weight. I was going along at a great pace and hit 15 pounds lost in 7 weeks. Then life happened and I let it get in my head and got derailed. I gained back 2 pounds.

One thing that I tend to do when I am going through a hard time is that I shut down. I don’t want to talk about it. Recently, this has shown up in not signing on to My Fitness Pal. If I don’t sign on and log my food I won’t have to face it or talk to Justin about it.

I have told Justin (my new personal trainer, for those of you just joining me on my journey), “Justin, I don’t want to talk about it when we meet on Monday. I just want to workout.” The first setback I had he said that was fine, but told me if it happened again he would make me talk about it. Well, this was the second setback since starting with him on November 5th. I told him, again, I didn’t want to talk about it. He was pretty nice about it, but that’s when I realized that’s not fair to Justin or to me.

We texted on Thursday night and we talked a little bit then. It’s easier for me when it’s not face to face. At the end of the text I told him, “We can talk tomorrow.” After texting I wrote him a letter to give to him the next day at our workout session. I have found that writing is my way to get things out and then I can either give the person the letter or I can read it to them. This is what I have done with my counselor and now it seems that it is what I will do with Justin until it gets easier to talk face to face.

While Justin and I talked on Friday. I realized that I am scared. He asked me point blank, “Don’t you want to lose weight?” I said, “Of course I do. I’m just scared.” He reassured me that I have nothing to be scared of and that I can do this. The logic part of my brain knows that this is true, but when I think of the big picture I get scared, so I really had to do some soul searching and had to ask myself, “Melissa, what are you scared of?”

Here are the things that popped in my head. I am scared that I won’t be able to get the weight off again. I know I did it before, but I said before that I would never allow myself to gain the weight back and I did, so what happens if I lose it again, will I gain it again. I don’t want to go through that whole process again.

I am scared of what life will be like once I am thin. My whole adult life I have been overweight. This is who I have been; this is pretty much how everyone knows and has known me. Will they still like me after I lose the weight? After I lost 106 the first time people that had never talked to me were talking to me. It made me think, “Why do they like me now? What was wrong with me before?” I’ve gotten pretty used to being this size, so the thought of changing that and being a new person scares me.

What about the people closest to me? Will they change with me? Will they resent the new me? Will they progress on the journey with me or will I in a sense leave them behind? I am scared that I will change. Maybe I will get a big head from all the success I will have. Will I become self-centered? Will I like the person I become?

I am scared of letting people down again. When Justin and I were texting I put, “I don’t want to fail again.” I feel like gaining back 100 pounds has not only let myself down, but let lots of people down. Part of being so open with my journey makes this aspect so hard. Again, logically I know that no one has been let down, but I feel like I have let people down. I am embarrassed when I see where I was and where I am now. I feel like I have let my family down, my kids. Again, this is me saying this not them, but it is how I am feeling.

These are all the thoughts that surround this current setback, but then my thoughts turn to God and his amazing grace. He loves me no matter what I do, no matter what my size, no matter how many times I fall and get back up. He is always there with open arms welcoming me back. He has told me, in the Bible that I do not have to have a spirit of fear.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about ANYTHING; instead, pray about EVERYTHING. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.

1 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Hebrews 13:6 says, “So, we must boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear! What can man do to me?

As I was trying to figure out why I was scared to lose weight, these verses came to mind. I have figured out that when I have fear or am anxious about things I am trying to do things on my own strength. That does not work. My theme verse for life has always been, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”-Philippians 4:13 On my own I will NEVER be able to do this and I need to remember that.

I have always said there are three things to focus on in getting healthy. I need to focus on the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. They do go hand in hand. If one of these is out of whack all three are. For me, I need to concentrate on the spiritual and mental aspect right now. That is why I have a counselor and a personal trainer. My counselor helps me with the spiritual and the mental and my personal trainer helps with the rest.

Recently I was looking over some old notes from my counseling sessions. I got a chuckle out of this quote from my counselor, but it is really what I need to do right now. He said, “Tell the negative voices in your head to SHUT UP.”

The only thing in the way of me and my goals are those voices in my head (please do not commit me). I need to cling to the verse Isaiah 43:18 and “forget the former things and not dwell on the past.” The negative voices in my head are always pointing out what I have done wrong and how I have failed and today I am choosing not to listen to those voices anymore. Today I tell those voices to SHUT UP ALREADY.

Today I move forward.