Today I received a Facebook message from a friend who is looking for some inspiration before running her first Tough Mudder next weekend. When I went looking for this post I realized that it was exactly a year ago that I experience this amazing event. Seems like time for a post from the past...
On October 28, 2012, I completed one of the most challenging and inspiring events I have ever experienced by participating in the Tough Mudder of the Carolinas event. Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile, 22 obstacle course that bills itself as "probably the toughest event on the planet". It is not a race, rather a challenge to work as a team and face all fears. My goal was to prove to myself once and for all that I am strong both mentally and physically. What I achieved with this challenge was so much more.
My journey to the Tough Mudder began in the summer of 2010. This picture was taken on top of Mount Mitchell. The day that we walked up to this observation deck was one of the pivotal moments in my decision to take charge of my health. Weighing almost 290 pounds, when we reached the top of this gentle, paved path, I was exhausted. I could not catch my breath or slow down my heart rate. For the first time, I was seriously scared for my health. I had always said that I would do something about my weight if it really kept me from doing the things I wanted to do. On this day, I was there. By the end of that summer, I finally found a path that seemed like it would work for me. Through an amazing fitness program and healthy eating, over the next two years I lost over 100 pounds and found myself in the best shape I had ever been in my life. Despite this success, I have struggled all along with the voice inside my head that continues to point out that I am "the fat girl on the sidelines". I like to call her my middle school angst. Even in my skinniest pair of jeans, I have trouble keeping her voice quiet.
So when a friend from my gym suggested that we run the Tough Mudder, there was a certain appeal in the idea. Surely, if I could complete this 11 mile, 22 obstacle "toughest event on the planet", I could silence that voice for once and for all.That voice has told me for years that my inability to handle my weight issues made me a lesser person. It was proof that I was lacking in some way and could therefore expect a little less of myself and deserve a little less from the people around me.The funny thing about this voice is that she pushed me to always try to prove myself. Most people saw me as a highly capable person, but that is not how I perceived myself. So I entered the course on that Sunday morning ready to prove to myself that I was strong. My orange head band would be the answer to that voice once and for all.
But the Tough Mudder is not just about being strong. It is about camaraderie, team work and facing your fears. When I looked at the course, I knew that strength challenges would be tough, but I would complete them. I was doing this to prove my strength, not address my claustrophobia. I had determined in advance that I was simply not going to do the "Underground Tunnels" or the "Boa Constrictor" because each of them involved crawling through small dark tunnels. I simply did not need to do that to prove my strength. I had given myself permission to skip them all together. The thing I had not anticipated was the amazing power of relying on a team. My team was fantastic. Most of them, I had only met a few times, some I even met that day, but from the very first obstacle, it was clear that we were committed to getting through this together. By the time we hit that first set of tunnels, they had helped me out of ice water, over 8 foot walls and cargo nets. I knew there was no way they were going to leave me stuck in a dark tunnel, so not crawling through it simply was not an option. I took a deep breath and faced my greatest fear, not once but twice. As I have reflected back on the experience and thought about the impact of my team, I realized that I used my weight as an excuse not to trust people. I assumed that they thought less of me, that they would judge me as inadequate. When in reality that was a judgement I was making on their behalf. The members of this team are as much a response to that voice as my own strength.
The result of all of this was just a totally awesome experience. Thank you Julie for the encouragement and for putting together this fabulous team. Thank you "Mud Up Wit Dat" for being such an inspiration and support both to our team members and all the others who figured out that this was the crowd to run with if they wanted to have fun and get through the course. You guys were the best! As for the voice, she will probably always be there, but when she shows up, I just smile and think of my orange headband and my blue shirt. She's got nothing on that!
Have any of you noticed how your news feed has the uncanny habit of pointing out things that you need to pay attention to in your life? Maybe it is because our news feeds are driven by our "likes", our friends and their likes as well. At times I find it a little unnerving to see something that so clearly speaks to me. It seems trite to suggest that God uses Facebook to get my attention, but sometimes that is the way it feels.
Yesterday a friend "liked" this status and that action sent it to my news feed. I have not been able to stop thinking about it since I read it.
Grieving isn't evidence of weakness;
Today is my dear friend's birthday. Today is the day that we should be having lunch and talking about the new reality of our lives now that our daughters are freshmen in college and planning our continued ministry together. But instead today, I am sad. I really miss her.
This past week, while talking with a friend she began to cry expressing her grief from the loss of her mother. Then she said " it's been 11 years, it shouldn't be this raw." The reality is grief doesn't work that way. There aren't any "should"s or "ought to"s. There isn't a time frame. Grief just is. When grief wants your attention, it will get it. For a long time, I struggled with seeking permission to feel my grief. I guess I was looking for some rules or definitions for what it looks like to grieve for a friend. There simply aren't any.
So today, I will just accept that I am sad. I will take some time to remember and some time to cry. I will embrace the reality that my grief is evidence of the love I have for this friend and the blessing she was in my life. If you are struggling with grief in your life, please know there are no rules. It will hit you when you expect it and when you least expect it. You have permission to feel all of it, at any time and in any place.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus ~ Philippians 4:7
Once again this week, the theme of story and the importance of sharing keeps coming up. I've been thinking about my post on Monday and sharing the story of my first pregnancy which ended in a miscarriage. Early on I had wondered if maybe something wasn't right. Mother's intuition I guess. When I shared my concerns with my mom, she reassured me with the message it was normal for a first time mom to worry, but we came from strong, healthy line of women and no one had ever had difficulties with their pregnancies. After sharing my loss, we heard similar stories from several family members that had not been shared when they happened. I have often wondered if I might have felt a little less alone, a little less broken, if I had know those stories earlier. I promised myself that I would always be transparent on this topic just in case some one needed to know my story.
Sharing your story can be difficult. It is so easy to get caught up in wondering what others might be thinking. Who am I to think that anyone cares? Who might judge me if I am honest or misinterpret my intentions? As I have felt called to be more transparent about the role that my faith life has played in this journey, I have felt more and more unsettled. So I was struck by this quote as I was preparing to teach this Sunday's class.
God often surprises people and uses their strengths to unsettle them and bring changes into the world. For example, Moses grew up in the Egyptian pharaoh's household. God later called him to speak to the pharaoh to lead the people out of Egypt. God called Mary, a young woman of faith, to be the mother of Jesus. It is hard to hear or read stories of people like Paul, Moses, and Mary without wondering how God might now be surprising and using us. ~the greatest story Paul leader guide
The reality is that I was blessed to have a person in my life say the hard thing that made me come face to face with the reality that I needed to make a change in my life. I have said since then I want to be that person for as many people as I can. The only way to make that happen is to get over those fears, be totally honest and share my story. A dear friend sent me another blog post this week that solidified the message.
You are called to offer what God has placed within you to our world right here, right now. No one else will live the exact amount of time you will, in the place you will, with the people who God will have cross you path. You can't say "oh, they'll get what they need from someone else" because if God intends them to receive it through you, that's not true. ~Holly Gerth
I am certainly not the first or only person to have lost 100 pounds. I'm not the only over-extended mother of four or extroverted wife of an introverted engineer. But I am the only me, who is going to be all of those things and encounter each of you in the time and space that I was meant to meet you and that has to be enough reason to share my story.
So what is your story? What brings you here to hear mine? Let's go on this journey together,
Today my firstborn daughter celebrates her twenty first birthday. My beautiful baby girl is all grown up. I couldn't be more proud of the amazing young woman she has become. This milestone birthday for her has me thinking a lot about the experiences that make up the tapestry of our lives.
This little girl came into my life and ended a dark stretch for me. In the spring of 1991, my husband and I celebrated our first anniversary with the news that we were expecting our first child. This was a little earlier than planned, but we were excited to begin this new adventure in our lives. We were also headed across the country. After saying that the west coast was the one place we didn't want to go after graduation, the best job opportunity for my husband was in San Jose, California in the heart of Silicon Valley. So we packed up, left our familiar mid west and headed west, far from family and friends. On the trip, I miscarried that first pregnancy.
Suddenly I found myself on what felt like the other side on the world, sad, lost and lonely, questioning God's plan for my life. My husband began his entry level engineering job and was putting in 70 hour weeks. I had planned to stay home with the baby, so I had no idea what to do next. The apartment complex where we were living had a little store that conveniently stocked my best friends Mr. Beringer and Ms. Haagen Daz. I had struggled with my weight all my life, but in those first few months living in California, I gained more than I had ever before.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28
I will never forget the moment that this beautiful baby girl was born. As I held her in my arms for the first time, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I knew that I was going to be OK. I was holding my life's purpose.This precious gift brought light and awe and wonder into my life again. As I look back, I would not change anything about those difficult times, because they shaped who I am today. I can share with you how my blessings came out of challenges and times that seemed very dark.
I will always struggle with food issues. That's just part of who I am. I know that to expect anything less is likely to set me on a path back to unhealthy patterns. Today I choose to see my struggles as blessings, as part of what I need to face to give me the authority to share my experiences with you. To show you that there is light and hope on this journey.
Today, I celebrate my first greatest blessing, those that followed and all the challenges that I have faced along the way. I celebrate the woman I am today and the woman that I have raised.
Happy Birthday precious child.
Time to change things up a bit. Going forward, Friday is going to be the day I share with you reflections on my faith journey. They might come from my teaching or prep for the week or my daily devotional. They might just be reflections of my experiences the previous week. It seems fitting that in this my very first one, you will find some of all of it.
There has been a lot of activity in my life as I settle into the routines of a new fall. I've always loved fall. There is so much anticipation and opportunity. The laid back, lack of routine in summer unnerves me and I welcome the structure of fall. I am excited this fall to be stepping out in faith, making some bold moves in my life and my business to shake things up a bit. I am choosing to be more intentional about sharing the role that my faith has played in my health and weight loss journey.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and the strength of his power - Ephesians 6:10
This week as I was working on my workshop about inviting God into the messy area of your mindset around food and fitness, I started asking friends and business associates to react to various titles I am considering. One reaction I got was very strong and has me thinking. This person did not like the idea of giving up control of her mindset. She said that she is 100% in control of how she chooses to think. That sounds very familiar. I frequently say taking responsibility for the choices I was making that were jeopardizing my health was one of the first steps in the process. So how do we reconcile being personally responsible with trusting God?
That same day, I read this in my daily devotional.
My deepest desire is that you learn to depend on Me in every situation - from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
It has me pondering control and dependence. Isn’t that what a lot of this boils down to, wanting to take control of your health? For me, control has always been a big issue. For years, I saw being in control of what I wanted to eat as a way of dealing with not being in control of other things. If life was not going the way I planned, at least I could have my ice cream and my wine. To begin this process, I had to stop trying to be in control. I had to admit there were people who could tell me what needed to be done and trust their authority. Actually, we all know what needs to be done. We need to eat good REAL food, less junk and move more. I am frequently asked “How did you do this?” I think the real answer was that I surrendered to the truth and stopped fighting back. There were no tricks or gimmicks, no drugs or special combinations involved just real food and a lot of hard work. When I have expressed my appreciation to my coach, she turns it around and responds “it’s not me, you listened and did as you were told”. God wants to be that kind of coach too. He told us that he wants the best for us. He gave us the resources and the tools, we just have to surrender our desire to control things and trust his plan for us.
We'll talk more about this is weeks to come,
Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing - John 15:10
For a variety of reasons, I've fallen a little behind, but I promised you a blog post when my dad's birthday rolled around. Well, here we go, happy belated birthday, Dad. You have often heard me talk about the importance of the legacy that we leave when we choose a lifestyle of health. I am so happy to see not only what the changes in my life have meant for my daughters, but what my parents have experienced as well. The photo above was taken at my oldest daughter's high school graduation in 2010. I was at the most unhealthy point of my life to date and Dad was not too far behind. I remember feeling so much that day; pride and joy at witnessing the success of my daughter, shame an frustration with myself for being in this place with all my friends and family around to celebrate. As you might have guessed, I had planned to lose at least 50 pounds by this day and started on the path several times.How many times have you looked ahead to a specific event and planned to be different when the date arrived? On this day, I found myself heavier than ever defeated and discouraged as we gathered to celebrate.
Three years later, it is time for another graduation. This time I can say with pride that my dad and I have lost a combined total of over two hundred pounds. I have learned so much from my dad about family, faith and legacy. I love the "why" that inspired my parents to make changes toward a healthier lifestyle, their desire to be an active vital presences in the lives of their grandchildren. Their commitment to health and fitness has allowed them to have experiences with my children that are priceless. The stories that each of my girls share about their respective trips to Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park with their grandparents are filled with awe at the splendor of God's creation and insight into my parents love and appreciation for it.
My girls are so blessed by the relationships that have grown out of the experiences their grandparents have shared with them. My parents determination to make these changes in their lives at a time when many would say it's too late to be different is so encouraging. They have set an inspiring example for me as a grandparent in the future. I hope all of us continue to grow and learn about how much better life is when we are taking care of our bodies, When we see them a God given gifts that facilitate our ability to share our legacy with each other.
Remember, every day is an opportunity to make a change, to be a better you and to share that better you with the ones you love. Happy Birthday Dad! Here's to many more!
PS I think that it might be time for me to see Iceberg Lake ;)!
As a young child, I was an avid reader. I have always been fascinated with the power of story. Of course, I loved the idea that a classic work of children's literature bore my name. Over time, I was given several different editions of this classic book. The one pictured was a gift from my grandparents and was always my favorite, even if the silly picture gave Heidi black curly hair (she was always a blue-eyed blonde in my version of the story). In my adult life, story continues to emerge as the focus. I believe that story is how we share our faith. Each individual faith story becomes part of the tapestry that we share to pass our faith on to our children and to those who have not yet heard the promise of God's amazing grace.
So this weekend, a blog post from The Institute for Eating Psychology caught my eye. It is called The Nutritional Power of Story and the opening paragraph had me hooked. I had never really thought about story being a part of the process of addressing my issues with food, but this made so much sense.
Have you ever heard a story that inspired you or changed your life? One that lifted your spirits or gave you hope? The stories that move us are like powerful drugs that ignite our metabolism. There’s a hidden narrator within each of us that puts a spin on every aspect of our journey. And that spin – whether it’s positive and life affirming or negative and nihilistic – sets our metabolism in motion and creates a biochemistry to mirror our inner world. As we become more adept at discerning the secret stories we unwittingly tell ourselves, and the more willing we are to author a generous and healing tale, our metabolism rises according to the new standards we set. Let’s take a look at how we can harness the nutritional power of story. - See more at: http://psychologyofeating.com/nutritional-power-story/#sthash.Hrk4WdGQ.dpuf
Each of us has an personal story about our relationship with eating. It includes our genetics, our experiences, our lifestyle and so much more. You have often heard me say that I am not here to tell you what to eat, or when or how much. Same goes for exercise. I am here to encourage you to be a mindful detective and figure out what works for you. Examine your story. What foods make you feel good and look good? What foods don't? Same goes for fitness. Take the time to start recording and examining your history and use the information you learn to write your story. If you find yourself in a place the you are not comfortable, use this information to rewrite your story.
I hope you take the time to read this article and start recording your story. Let me know what your discover
In last week's blog post, I included a picture of myself working out on the TRX system with my trainer. My trainer posted a nice comment on my Facebook page about how she remembered that day. It actually made me a little sad, because what she remembered was the move in this week's picture. I was so psyched when I pulled this off. So why didn't I use this picture last week? Because I didn't think that I looked thin enough. Instead of focusing on the strength it shows and my pride in what I could do, I was worried about whether I looked "skinny".Swing this guy makes me feel invincible!
As the mother of four daughters, I am frequently raging against the images that they see in the media for what is attractive. But sometimes, the images the fitness industry puts out are not much better. We see things like "strong is the new skinny" with a picture of a fitness model who is both strong and skinny. Reality is that most of us will not reach fitness model skinny even if we are extremely fit. As I was pondering this, one of my favorite fitness bloggers published this post "Unapologetically Strong". She also sells a t-shirt with the message I am going to have to order. I love that phrase, that's what I want to be, because strong is a great goal all by itself.
That has been my goal from the very beginning: being strong. The weight loss is really just a added benefit. The awesome thing is that each time I accomplish a fitness goal, master a new move or increase my weights, I feel more invincible in everything that I do. Getting physically strong gave me confidence in my own voice. Each step on the path has made me believe that I could be the best me, the me that God intends me to be. If I can conquer an impossible physical feat, then surely I can achieve all those other impossible dreams too. Running the Tough Mudder last fall was as much a mental and emotional victory as it was a physical one. As I work to keep the idea of being "unapologetically strong", in the forefront of my mind, it's time for new goals. Rather than focusing on the scale or what I look like, I am going to focus on what I want to do. So what's up next? I'm going to complete an unassisted pull-up and run a half marathon. Might take me awhile, but I'll get there and I'll share my progress with you along the way.
So what is your next goal going to be? What challenge are you going to meet and conquer next? Share your goals and let's work on this together.
This morning as I was driving home from the gym, there was an interesting piece on the morning radio talk show. The DJ asked what it might be like if we could each envision a little graphic bubble with the word blessing in it above all of those things in our life that we take for granted. What came to my mind at first was how blessed I am to have my gym and my trainer. I know, I know that might sound a little obsessive as my first thought, but this really struck home with me. I have been dealing with a medical issue this month that has meant exercise restrictions. This morning was the first time in a while that I had been able to get back to the workouts that I love without having to modify. While I was grappling with the emotional side of being restricted, I looked around at every one who was going all out and thought "I wonder if they know how lucky they are?"
How often have you approached your fitness routine with dread rather than appreciation? How might your day go differently if your first thought was "how blessed am I to have this strong healthy body? I can't wait to use it to its full potential?". Maybe your blessing goes even further and like me you can say "how blessed am I to be able to join amazing, inspiring, supportive friends on this journey?" I am so thankful for each and every one of the members and staff at my gym. If you have not found a place, a program, or a routine that makes you feel that way, keep looking. Feeling like your fitness routine is a blessing will make all the difference in staying with it long term.
If you are in the Cary, NC area and want to give my gym a try, they have a great deal on a trial membership right now. Click here for more information.
July 4th 2013 Iceberg Lake
Today is my mother's, 69th birthday. I have been so blessed by this woman, I want to take this opportunity to offer a very public thank you to her for being the amazing, inspirational woman that she is. In addition to all the standard wonderful things that we all love our parents for providing for us, my mom has taught me so much about what is important in life. She taught me the value of family and the importance of intentionally nurturing those connections. The photo above was taken this week at Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park, one of her favorite places. She is with my two youngest daughters. She and my father took the two older ones on the same hike, 10 miles with an elevation gain of 1200 feet, a few years ago. It is their intention to stay healthy enough to bring the remaining three grandchildren here as soon as their little legs are strong enough. I believe that they will pull it off.
Looking back to the summer that my weight loss journey began, my mother was feeling a lot like I was, tired of not feeling good, of not having the energy to live life to its fullest. While my plan came through a gym and a trainer, she found a path for herself and my father through a book recommended by her doctor. That summer as they set off for their annual escape the NC heat and humidity trip to the north, they had a plan, but more importantly they had their why. They knew that they wanted to be healthy enough to do the things that they had planned to do with their grandchildren and they were determined to make it happen. There plan was not the same as mine. Some parts look very familiar, others not so much. The important part is that having their why gave them to mindset to make major changes.
So here we are, 40 and 100 pounds lighter respectively. Loving our new lives, the energy and opportunity that they hold. We are here to let you know that it is never too late to change your life. Find your why and make a plan. Your plan will be the one that works for you, not the one that worked for me or anybody else. Finding your plan may involve some ups and downs. The right plan for you is the one that you can live, the one that matches your lifestyle and brings you success. Most importantly, it is the one that you can live as a long term lifestyle.
So happy birthday Mom! Thanks for teaching me that it is never too late to live your dream!
Be sure to come back next month when I say Happy Birthday to Dad and show you his transformation!