So Much to Be Thankful For

Wednesday at work was a bit of a sad one. We got word that two of our coworkers had passed away. The first one was a security guard that worked in my building and he had a heart attack in the morning. He was in his early 50’s. Then mid-afternoon we got word that another coworker had chest pains and went to the hospital BUT he was okay and back at work (thankfully). Then in the afternoon we got the sad news that a coworker from another department that had also had a heart attack passed away. He’d had a heart attack at the office, coworkers gave him CPR and he went to the hospital to no avail. He was 44. It was a very, very sad day. This all happened in one day, not even a month since the deaths of two other coworkers.

It was pretty sad. All I could think about was the coworker who was only 44 and how he had two teenage daughters. It hit me in a very personal way. It brought up memories of when I was 17 and lost my Grandfather unexpectedly. I was very close to him and it hurt like nothing else ever had. On Wednesday all I could think about were those two girls and how it was almost Thanksgiving. They would forever associate the holiday season with their father’s death.

It made me really stop and think about all the things I have in my life to be thankful for.

Michael is wonderful. I love him with all my heart. He’s goofy. He gets me. He can (sometimes creepily) read my mind. He supports my goals and he’s been my Knight in Shining Armor many times.

He makes me laugh. I’m happy and content living with him. Love you babes!

I am thankful for my goofy kitties. Even the cry-baby that just hides under the bed. 🙂 Fat Kitty is the most lovable cat I’ve ever met. He’s a snuggling, purring machine!

I am very thankful for my lovely friends! My friends who were there no matter what I weighed, supported me through my weight loss journey, listened to my complaints when it “wasn’t working” and loved me just the same after I lost it all!

Rachel and Me, Chicago 2006
Robyn and Me, Vegas 2008

I’m thankful that I have such a cool family. It’s a big, Catholic family with lots of cousins, aunts, uncles and second cousins…you name it. Our family is big, close-knit and most of my happy childhood memories involve family parties and functions.

Me and Mom

It’s sad that death has to be the reminder of what is important in life. Certainly not calories. Or whether I missed a workout at the gym. Or 5 pounds. So Wednesday night after I tearfully told Michael what happened at work, I told him how much I appreciate him and love him. His response? Feed me alcohol and chocolate. 😉

Just kidding. He hugged me and said some very sweet things back to me. He did give me chocolate though. And it did make me feel better. 😉

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their friends and family. Mine was perfect. 🙂
QUESTION: What are you thankful for?

A 100+ Pound Loss Story

Sarah kindly agreed to let me interview about her amazing weight loss. I was really inspired by her story! Because of a car accident in her teens she’s been in a wheelchair. She overcame that challenge and still lost 100 pounds!

Here is her story:

1. How old are you?

-34 yrs

2. How much did you weigh at your heaviest?

-250 lbs (actually I didn’t want to hear my weight after 220 lbs, but went up another two pants sizes. Last I actually heard was 250lbs).

3. How much do you weigh now?

-I haven’t been weighed in 4 yrs, but wear the same pants, so I guess it’s around the same weight. 🙂 That would be 140 pounds.

4. What inspired you to want to lose weight?

-I was in organ failure. I had been in the hospital for two years. I had acquired a good bit of excess before the hospital stint. Literally my life depended on me making major changes to my lifestyle. I quit smoking in May 2001, and realized in 2002, that my weight was not helping my seriously poor health condition.

5. How did you lose weight?

-My pain doctor got me in touch with an amazing Chinese medicine doctor. He did acupuncture and Chinese herbology to help get my organs back on tract. Per his instructions, I signed up for swimming at the community college, enrolled in martial arts at the local community center, he had wanted me to do Qi Gong (which I do now). He also helped me start making changes in my food choices and eating habits. The swimming was such a blessing. While it was so emotionally hard to put on a bathing suit and get in the pool, it was the best thing for my joints. I didn’t swim a lot of laps or do anything major. I just showed up every week and set goals. I swam 1 lap and stretched, then 4 laps with stretching, etc.. I floated around a lot and just felt my body. That was so healing and good. The martial arts was not intense.  I have a spinal cord injury and am in a chair.  I did what I could and always tried new things. I loved working on the forms.

6. Did you use a system or program?

-No technical system or program, just learning healthier choices. I still use the “fewer ingredients the better, if you can’t pronounce it then don’t eat it” idea. 🙂 I love growing a garden and eating what I plant. I also love learning about what is in my food. Awareness and education have been a huge incentive for me to continue making healthy choices. Food Inc is a great movie.

7. How long did it take to lose the weight?

It took a good two years. It was incredibly slow in the beginning. As the health of my organs improved, my health improved. I was slowly able to get off a few medications that also helped. Once I hit the half way point, the rest of the weight came off more rapidly. I never set weight goals, just health goals. I am going push (walk) this far today. Or I am going to work on making these meals this week. I am going to go visit these places, swim this many laps, enjoy these friends over sharing in food we made instead of eating out… I like rewarding myself for things I work hard on. 🙂 Just learned to make my rewards healthy also. 🙂

8. How are you keeping the weight off?

It was a lifestyle change. When I notice my pants or shirts fitting a bit tight, I ask myself when was the last time I went for a nice walk? I pay a bit more attention to what I eat when I am out. I love taking Tai Chi classes. My new school schedule with work has made it hard to enroll in swimming, but I know how great that is for my health and weight loss. I cut out corn syrup for my diet (vocab: means what you eat). I occasionally have a soda, but it is a rarity. Instead  I add a bit of orange juice to a glass of fuzzy water. It tastes so better than soda also. 🙂

She does everything!

9. How do you resist temptations and trigger foods?

I acquired some food allergies from the two years in the hospital. That helps me to avoid foods that are not so good for me to eat. I have to read the ingredients which can be a real turn off. While the packaging looks so good, once I read what’s in it, I’m like oh yuck, that’s anti freeze, I don’t want to eat that! I can now make all kinds of yummy deserts at home that have hardly any of the sugars. I also use real sugar that the body can process. I love having friends involved in the cooking process as well. That makes it so much fun. It becomes more then just food. I don’t have the binging sugary eating frenzies anymore. I learned how that correlates to candida and how that affects my health. Education and awareness has really helped.

10. Did you have support from friends and family? If yes, what kind of support? If not, why not?

Some support. They don’t really understand though. My families eating habits have not been that great. My changes have begun to influence their eating habits slowly. They were happy to see my weight loss and were supportive, but I had to be really strong in helping direct what I needed, because they didn’t understand how the food in their house was not so good. Many times I would bring a dish over, or food over.

11. How is your life different now than before?

My life is so much different now. I am much more conscious and aware of how I really am what I eat. My exercise really is important and can be fun.  I love going for Rolls (walks) with my boyfriend, and taking dogs out on a trail. Putting zucchini strips and hummus next to me when working on a paper instead of potato chips and cookies. I learned how important it is to take a moment everyday and reflect. Tai Chi helps keep my stress levels down. Recognizing stress and other emotional triggers is huge.

12. What is your exercise of choice and how often do you do it?

I go to Tai Chi once a week. I enroll in it to keep me going. 🙂 I love bike riding and am finally purchasing a bike this week. I love going for walks with my boyfriend at national parks. We just mosey around. Nothing fast just enjoy the scenery. We aim to do that at least once a month.

13. Do you have any suggestions for someone wanting to lose weigh?

Find an activity you love. Enroll in a class and go. Find something you can do outside with a friend or loved one. Enjoy, make it fun, it doesn’t have to be work. This is a lifestyle change. If possible- plant something. If you have space outside, plant a veggie you want to try, or some herbs. You can plant herbs and grow them in a pot inside also. I love basil. Lastly, get rid of the corn syrup! You will be so surprised at the weight loss from just that. It doesn’t process the same, just stores. An increase in leafy greens will help clean the system. They are packed with omega-3’s which help increase your healthy cholesterol. Omega-6’s are for winter and storage, omega-3’s are for summer and cleaning the body house.

I am so impressed by her determination! Thank you again Sarah for sharing your story. It’s so incredibly inspiring!