Yesterday morning, I was having an especially difficult time. Things were not going as planned once again with my house in Texas that I am selling. My 13 year old daughter woke up on the wrong side of the bed (again). My anxiety was at an all time high. Suddenly the phone rang! And it was my friend, Tess, who I actually met through this blog. I can’t recall when we met or how we started talking to one another but somehow it happened. For awhile now, we have been communicating with one another through Facebook. I think one of the things that drew me to her was the fact that she is a librarian. My mother was a librarian and I grew up surrounded by books. My first job was working in a library and I find libraries very comforting. Maybe this is what initially drew me to her. At any rate, we somehow became friends (although we’ve never met in person) and it’s been a really wonderful thing. She is inspirational to me in the areas of health and weight loss having overcome many of her own struggles. She is a positive and uplifting person and has a great sense of humor. We traded phone numbers and yesterday she called me for the first time.
Now here is where the story almost goes sour. I was in the WORST mood when I answered that phone. Nothing was going my way. I was on the road to having another bad day in a string of bad days. And a call from an unfamiliar number popped up. The way she asked for me by my first name and made it sound as if we knew each other made me suddenly think….”I bet this is a telemarketer….I bet they are trying to sound as if we know each other so I will be sucked into the conversation and not hang up!” Trust me–the negativity oozing from me was not good. Eventually I realized who it was and then I felt HORRIBLE. I had been bordering on rude and my tone of voice I’m sure was not welcoming. Yet when I realized who it was, the flip was switched in an instant. What followed was a wonderful conversation where I basically poured out my heart and was met with a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t so much what she said but rather the acceptance. The knowledge that whatever I was experiencing….it was OK. It was even NORMAL for someone going through this kind of life transition. I believe the words…”Breathe” were uttered a few times. She reminded me of my own philosophy—30 Seconds at a time—which has worked for me so well. And then she asked me what my plan was for that day.
Plan?? What plan?? But you know what…WE NEED A PLAN! Even if our plan is very simple–we need to have one. Maybe our food plan is to simply eliminate one junk food item. Maybe it’s to add one healthy meal. Maybe it’s just to drink some water. But whatever the plan is—it needs to be SOMETHING. The same is true of exercise. If it’s 30 seconds then that is ok. But it needs to be a plan we put in motion. That is the only way to get moving down that road to progress!
When we got off the phone, I felt a weight lifted. I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew I wasn’t going crazy because everything I was feeling and experiencing had been validated as totally normal for someone going through it! I also had a plan and I went into action. I did my Leslie Sansone walking video and it made me feel accomplished. I took a shower, got dressed, and started to feel like I might actually live through the day!! Even the day with my daughter improved. We had a great conversation and both of us agreed that maybe…just maybe….we will survive! I have no doubt that the conversation I had with Tess was the wrench that got thrown into my bad day. And I mean a good wrench! I was barreling down the tracks with a negative mindset but that phone call flipped the switch in my brain and set my path to another course!
So many times in life we truly believe that we can’t change the path we are on. That we are in a downward spiral and that nothing can make it better. Yet something as simple as a phone call was able to get me moving in another direction. This proves that there are things which can effectively put a halt to one thing and set it another direction. Now we won’t always get that unexpected phone call or knock at the door. Sometimes WE will have to be the ones putting an action into place to hit the reset button. But it has reminded me just how important it is for us to recognize when we are allowing ourselves to remain stuck when in fact there are actions we could take to start moving in a positive direction.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, the actions for me this week are the following
1. Blog daily ( or as often as I can) to stay accountable
2. Track my Food
3. Exercise Daily with my walking Videos (Leslie Sansone)
4. Daily Prayer/Bible Study
I have already experienced a slight improvement in each area. I am not only tracking my food but I have started to work my way back towards my Sugar Detox program. As I have written before, sugar is my biggest issue in life when it comes to food. It makes me hungry and it makes me crave food excessively. And there is sugar in alcohol. I believe that my decision to start drinking alcohol is one of the primary reasons that I began to lose progress in my weight loss and experience a return of cravings which lead to some regain of my weight. There is most definitely sugar in mixed drinks. Not only was I poisoning myself with yet another substance that has addictive properties (not smart for someone who has an addictive personality) BUT I was ingesting the very thing (sugar) that I had already discovered is the primary culprit for my excessive hunger and cause of my overeating! There is no way you can lose any significant weight when you are drinking on an almost daily basis. And sticking to an exercise plan when you’re hungover—good luck there! I hate to say that both of those things were happening to me far too frequently but this the reality. Do I carry a lot of shame inside of me right now for having fallen into that? YES. It is one of the primary struggles I have right now because I regret so much of the past year. But I can sit around and cry over my mistakes–or I can get busy making progress towards the future.
I have found that for every day we put a small piece of the plan into action—the next day we are able to usually go a little further. It is a matter of momentum. Getting the ball rolling. I am always amazed by how quickly I really do start feeling better if I am just willing to put small steps into action day after day. I have been doing my walking videos again and at first I was only doing half a mile. That is because my struggles are almost always mental when I restart my exercise program. I find it hard to motivate myself to do more. Yet when I give myself permission to do a little…(so long as it’s done daily)….I always end up finding myself wanting to do a little more the next day. That snowball effect is powerful when we start small but remain consistent.
Today I have worked my way up to doing the Leslie Sansone “5 Mile Mega Walk” video.
I am breaking the miles into chunks. I do only 1 mile at a time. I break them into different parts of the day and while I am not doing them all at once I am accomplishing the entire video by the day’s end. I know I’ve sung the praises of Leslie Sansone walking videos on here before but I just have to do it one more time. I can honestly tell you that her videos are the only ones I have ever been able to do no matter how unmotivated I feel. I also know for a fact that even if this was the only form of exercise I ever did—it would still be enough for weight loss. I also enjoy them more than any other form of exercise I have ever tried. As a matter of fact, she said something on the video today that resonated with me. She said that exercise should reduce stress not add stress to your life. For me—even the thought of having to work out can stress me out. If I hate it the entire time then I don’t want to do it the next day. Not doing it because I hate it then stresses me out even more because I feel like a failure for having not done it!! All of this is a way exercise can cause us stress instead of reducing it.
Now granted, that doesn’t mean exercise should be easy or that there isn’t a time and a place for the hard core “push through the pain” type of working out. However, for me, I need to enjoy ( at least to some extent) the form of exercise I have chosen. If I hate it (and I do hate almost all forms of exercise) then in the end I will simply not do it consistently. And the guilt cycle (which adds stress) continues! But if I am choosing a form of exercise that I actually find mostly enjoyable then I know I will not mind doing it daily. And daily exercise DOES reduce stress and help with depression. It’s just a matter of finding something we can do consistently.
While this may not be the perfect choice, it works for me. It is something I actually enjoy and I am willing to do it consistently. That is why I always go back to it and highly recommend it for those of you out there who (like me) struggle to find some form of exercise that you like well enough to do daily!
On a side note, I want to say that while this move has been a struggle—I am truly strengthened in my convictions more than ever that this was the right move for my family. Someone mentioned that they feared my move here was impulsive and that perhaps THAT is the reason why things don’t seem to be going well at this time. I know that for many people out there, it may seem that this was an impulsive move but I can assure you that is not the case at all. It may appear impulsive because I didn’t blog about it until it happened. However, the reality is that this move has been in the works for almost 10 years. It has been something I have been discussing doing since the very second my ex-husband walked out the door in 2006. The timing, however, was never right. Anyone that knows me knows that I am not impulsive or spontaneous (unless I’m 3 shots in and knee deep in Tequila…then watch out) But aside from that, I am NEVER impulsive. In fact, I am the person who misses opportunities because she is too busy analyzing the pros and cons. I would never move across the country on a whim. It was something I prayed about for years and by the time the opportunity became available it seemed to be in God’s perfect timing.
Here is the reality. There are many paths we can take in life and it may seem that the easy path is the right one. But that is often very far from the case. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it is wrong. Just because you have to go through hard things does not mean you have chosen the wrong path. It might actually mean you have finally chosen the RIGHT one.
Yes moving here hasn’t been easy. It has been expensive. It has been difficult and it has cost me in many ways. But that doesn’t mean it was wrong. Sometimes in life we have to do hard things. Sometimes we have to be willing to give everything up and walk the narrow path.
Several times I have found myself on the broad road. The wide road. What appears to be the EASY road.
For me, it is so much easier to reach for Hostess cupcakes than it is to feel the temporary discomfort of going without the food that will comfort my anxieties. I can tell you without a doubt that going without sugar is by far one of the worst experiences in the beginning. Everything in your body will tell you that this is NOT the right choice. I have often believed that I would actually die if I didn’t have sugar because I was experiencing nausea, sweating and shaking. Yet it was only in the hardships of sugar detox where I then became free from those cravings. However I had to FIRST be willing to suffer.
Many people thought that choosing weight loss surgery was for me an impulsive and drastic decision. Many tried to convince me not to do it. I even had a pastor’s wife tell me that I was going against God’s will for my life!! Many well meaning people will often tell you that the choices you are making are wrong. But at the end of the day, the choices you make are YOUR decision. And if you feel that God is leading you onto a certain path then the voices around you will have to be quieted so you can forge on!
Weight loss surgery was not easy. It involved pain. It involved misery. Here I am almost 3 years later and I still can tell you that it’s often a struggle. Yet I have NO regrets. In fact my only regret would be that I did not do it sooner . As I mentioned before, I am NOT impulsive by nature. I think everything through. And then I think it through again. And then again. And then again. Back in 2005, I was scheduled to have weight loss surgery and backed out. Over the next 5 years I gained another 100 pounds. Now I know looking back that I wasted several years overanalyzing things. For ME….it was the right decision. I have no misconception that it is right for everyone but FOR ME…it was 100% the right move.
I truly believe that moving here to Virginia was the right move for me at this time in my life. I was on the broad path to destruction. Very few people know just how truly unhealthy things were for me there. And it was not because San Antonio, Texas is a bad place. In fact, it’s a wonderful place. My problems were not the fault of any person outside of myself either. Just as no one force fed me Big Macs and caused me against my will to gain weight….No one placed me in front of a bar and held me prisoner there. I have free will and I made all the choices on my own. Yet I have also discovered that I have very weak areas and the best strategy for me is to totally remove myself from the situation altogether. That means not even buying certain food items and placing them in the house. And yes–my children have to go without as a result. To some that might be extreme that my kids can’t have cupcakes in the house just because I have an issue with them. But I have to do whatever it takes to keep myself on track. Because it makes me a better Mom to be on track and it’s not going to hurt my kids to live without cupcakes and candy.
The same could be said of this move. Perhaps my kids preferred the city life. But I spent the last year and a half of my life living exactly 1.5 miles away from a bar that had become like Cheers to me. You remember the tv show Cheers, right? Sure that is a great show. I mean hey…isn’t it great to go to a place where “everybody knows your name”. But that’s television and this was reality. While many people could moderate alcohol in their life—I wasn’t able to. Before long I was practically living there. And I am someone who never went to bars hardly a day in their life!!!!
I wish I wasn’t this type of person. I wish I wasn’t this way. But I am. I am someone who tends to be drawn to that broad road. Sad? Lonely? Bored? Anxious? Big Mac or the Bar—easy, quick and effective. Those things work. And they work QUICKLY.
You know what’s harder? Not eating a Big Mac. Not eating cake. Not drinking a Rum and Coke (or three). What’s harder is experiencing the feelings that brought you to the food and the alcohol in the first place. Feeling them. Living through them. And surviving them. THAT is harder.
That, for me, is the narrow road. The hard road. But it’s also the only path that offers me any real hope.
There is a parable that Jesus told about Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44) and the Pearl (Matthew 13:45-46) and it goes like this:
Both of these parables talk about finding that great hope we have in God. That it is like a treasure. Once you find it, you will give up anything and everything to keep it. Like that man who found the treasure buried in a field….he was willing to sell everything he had to buy that field. The same was true of the merchant man who had found that perfect pearl. He sold all he had to buy it.
In many ways, I had a great life in Texas. I had friends. I had my oldest daughter. I had a house that was not very expensive and easy for me to maintain. It was familiar. I could live that life on auto pilot. But at the same time, the fact that it WAS so easy made it destructive. Anytime I wanted food—there it was on every corner. Anytime I was bored, anxious or stressed—I could head to the bar. It opens every day at noon. If my ego needed stroking, there was always some man there willing to tell me I was beautiful. If I felt uneasy, just drink it away. And with a taco truck on every corner, there is never any hunger. Yes my life was easy. But for someone like me who finds comfort in both food and alcohol—it was leading to destruction.
I didn’t have to find the treasure or the pearl. I already had it. I had found it as a child. But even those of us who have faith in God can easily go astray. That’s why we are warned to be careful lest we fall!! (1 Corinthians 10:12) And I was falling hard and fast into a pit that was only growing deeper. I was throwing it all away for the broad road. When I looked at my children, I knew that was not acceptable anymore. They look to me for guidance. They look to me for answers. It is my responsibility to raise my children to know the truth. And how can I do that when I keep swallowing lies?
Following the narrow road isn’t easy. I am going through hard times actually because I’ve chosen it. But I have gone through hard times before. And I lived. So I know I’ll make it.
Choosing the narrow path is hard. And just because it’s hard doesn’t make it wrong.
It means it’s worth it.
(Now remind me I said this in an hour when I kill another gigantic spider, sit through another downpour of rain that probably results in another power outage, and realize I have to drive 30-40 miles round trip to get anywhere—while my 13 year old glares at me silently for having air dropped her into the ‘middle of no where’—-yep—remind me THEN how confident I sounded for a moment!! :))))