Washington, DC w/ the kids—The Trip I Never Thought Would Happen

July 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

I started this journey at 417 pounds.

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One of my biggest hopes and dreams was that I would regain my ability to walk more easily and have the stamina I needed to live life without being held back by the restrictions that weight puts on you.   There are so many things you miss out on when your weight holds you back.  It’s not just about walking longer distances or fitting in chairs.  It becomes all the little things combined.  Maneuvering through crowds or being quick on your feet.  Able to keep up and move or handle CHANGE.

Change was not something I could handle at 417 pounds.  If I did go somewhere it had to be carefully pre- planned. I would scout it out in advance.  How far I had to walk . Where I would sit.  How I could get out again.

You don’t go somewhere at 417 pounds with no plan.  You don’t say…. “Oh hey,  maybe  I’ll sit over here”  and then suddenly go….oh wait maybe I’ll just move over THERE!

Nope! It doesn’t work that way.  You usually have to know in advance the location you’ll be able to walk to and then fit in.  There is no switching it up on the fly.  The same is true of vacations or excursions. You can’t just be spontaneous.  You have to know fully in advance where you are going.   How long of a walk it will be.  Exactly where the chairs or benches are located.  And how long you will be gone. Your amount of energy is limited and you cannot risk getting too far away from the house.  Too far away from a chair.  You can’t risk moving too quickly and falling because getting up requires a lot of assistance.  You definitely can’t go to unfamiliar places.  The whole idea of it is far too impossible!! And for years that is how I lived.

One of the worst experiences in my life was when my mother died.  Prior to her death, she had a heart attack followed by a stroke.  She was on life support for a week.  And I was totally unable to do anything but sit in Texas and wait for her to die.  I couldn’t go visit my own mother when I knew she had only days to live.  I couldn’t fit on a plane.  I couldn’t handle the cross country drive.  I was helpless.  But that had started long ago.

It had been many years since I had even been able to go home for a visit.  Only Savannah (who is now 19) had any memory of my mother’s home.  Any memory of having gone to visit the place I grew up.  The rest of the kids would never know that place because I had gotten too big to travel.  I wanted my children to see where I was from.  I wanted to take them by the house I grew up in.  The school I attended.  The church I was baptized in.  More than that, I wanted them to experience all that the Washington, DC area has to offer!  Getting to see the museums, monuments and all the fun that I had growing up in a place where you can hop on a metro and explore.  But I knew that would never happen.  They would only hear about it in stories.

Because I was trapped in a body that held me back from life.

The last few years have been a roller coaster of sorts.  I’ve lost a lot of weight.  Gained some back. Lost some of the gain.  And held steady at a weight that has allowed me to live my life again.  I’m still not at my goal.  But my life has changed in ways that I could hardly ever describe in words.  And this past week I finally achieved one of the dreams I had when I sat helpless at 417 pounds.

I took my children to see where I’m from–Washington, DC.

I did everything I ever wanted to do with them.  Yes—it was bittersweet.  Because I finally pulled up in front of my mother’s home about 4 years too late.  Someone else lives there now.  And she no longer comes to the door.  I hate that it took me almost 20 years to get home again.  And 4 years too late to say goodbye to her in person.  But still I made it.  I made it with my children.  I was able to tell them…this is where I grew up.  That was the window to my bedroom.   That was the backyard I played in.  That is the cul de sac I rode my bike in.  And I could almost see my mother waving to me from the window.  Smiling as she always did.  Reminding me once again of her words as I headed off to school…”OK Holly! Walk at a clip! Don’t look left nor right! Just keep moving forward!

It was funny for me to remember that suddenly because it’s a good lesson for life.  That when you head out on your journey, it may be full of obstacles.  But don’t walk too slow.  Don’t get distracted.  And don’t walk too fast so that you miss something important.  Instead just head out at a good pace.  And move forward!  Walk at a clip and go! My Mom’s words resonated in my mind and I felt oddly at peace.  I knew that I had made it home finally and accomplished a goal that really I never thought would happen.  I was reminded that this journey is going to be tough but we must keep moving forward as Mom says.  And I took my children on the adventure of a lifetime.

I walked so many miles it was unbelievable!! We went all over DC.  We rode the Metro.  We took an Uber! Ever heard of that? It’s independent people basically as part of a taxi service.  To be able to just order a car and hop right in without worry that the car would not be big enough for me was a dream come true.  I could maneuver through the crowds up and down escalators and on and off metros.  I didn’t have to worry that I would give out from exhaustion.  Fall or pass out.  Get stuck in a crowd and lose my kids!! I knew I could handle it.  And I knew that finally I could give my children an experience I had dreamed of for so long.

Pictures!!

Arrival Day:

We arrived in Old Town, Alexandria at Hotel Monaco.  I grew up in Alexandria, VA which is just minutes outside of DC.  I wanted to stay in Alexandria so that the kids could get the experience of where I lived while having the fun of taking the Metro downtown to DC like we always did when I was growing up here. Old Town is a great place because it is full of shops and has the waterfront several blocks down.  We walked all over Old Town as well.  Here was the hotel we stayed in.

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Day ONE

The kids and I woke up and had breakfast.

 

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After breakfast we ordered an Uber!! I had no worries about if it was a small or big car because I knew I could fit.  So  I was able to just order it and go.  These are the types of things you cannot do when you are very big.  You have to work out special accommodations and then worry you are inconveniencing others as a result.  I love being able to move freely without worry.  And I still feel so much compassion for my friends out there who cannot do that.  Who still have to worry that the car will be too small and the seatbelt won’t fit.

They dropped us at the Air and Space Museum in DC.

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Just a few of the steps we had to climb at Air and Space Museum!!

 

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You always have to try the “astronaut food” that they sell in the gift shop.  It’s dehydrated versions of things.  I’d say their reaction to the taste says it all!!

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After we walked all over the Air and Space Museum,  we walked past the Art Museum and through the Sculpture Garden.

Here are a few pictures!

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Then we headed on to the Natural History Museum which was about a 10 minute walk from the Air and Space Museum

 

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After this, we caught an Uber to Union Station!  We had lunch and went all over the shops.

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We were a bit tired and decided that we might head back to the hotel.  But I decided this time we would take the metro.  My kids had never been on the Metro and they were very excited (and nervous) to do this.  It’s been 20 years since I rode the Metro but it all came back to me.  We walked to the Metro which was not too terribly far away BUT can I just say again…that even 3 steps is far away at 417 pounds.  The fact that I had walked all over two museums and several other places but still made it to the Metro was still a miracle compared to how my life used to be!! I mean really there is just no comparison.

The best part of the Metro was that my cool factor as a Mom went up by leaps and bounds.  It was absolutely hilarious at how COOL my kids thought I was after this!! To ride the metro you have to go up and down escalators.  Figure your route out on the metro map.  Buy the appropriate amount on a fare card.  And then you have to put your fare card into the turnstyle ( I guess that’s what you’d call it!) and walk through.  And you have to FIT through.  After all this you head to the correct red, yellow, blue, green or whatever color metro line you need to find!  And then maneuver through crowds.  Get on the metro quickly and be able to stand and hold on if there are no seats!!

There is so much involved with riding the Metro I suppose and all of it fully impressed my children when they realized that I knew what I was doing and that I had actually done all this before!!  My kids only have certain memories of me and most of them are with me being very obese and less mobile.  So they couldn’t seem to reconcile the Mom that had such a struggle just to get out of bed without assistance also being the same Mom who apparently knew how to navigate the Metro!

They still remember such a huge part of my life lived trapped inside a body that would barely allow me to go anywhere.  Memories of me having to watch them play on the playground from behind the windshield because I could barely make it one step up the curb to sit on the bench.  And now look at Mom!!  Who knew??  I really have to tell you that taking my kids on the Metro was the most fun I had all weekend.  Especially the fact that they could simply just not get over the fact that I knew what I was doing!! hahaha

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This picture is one of my favorites.  It was a blur but shows the excitement of their first ride on the Metro!

 

 

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The fact that my kids suddenly found me way more cool than ever gave me my second wind.  Suddenly I was energized and ready to keep going!! So instead of heading back to the hotel we decided to hop off in Chinatown!

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After grabbing some Won Ton Soup, we decided….hey…why not just walk to the White House??!!

This was about a 20 minute walk.  But we made it!!!

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We left the White House and walked through Lafeyette Park where we caught an Uber back to the Hotel!!   And I felt absolutely fantastic about all we had accomplished on Day ONE!

 

DAY TWO 

We woke up and walked about 4 blocks to a little cafe where we ate breakfast.  Then we caught an Uber back into DC.  It was time to visit all the Monuments!!  On this day, we went to the Lincoln  Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Washington monument and WW II memorial which I hadn’t seen before

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Here is my son walking up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial.  And trust me—it’s A LOT of steps!! And I was right behind him!!

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After this, we made our way to the American History Museum which was always my favorite growing up.  We saw so many things I can barely tell you all of them.  Some of the highlights were an American flag made out of legos,  Dorothy’s slippers from the Wizard of Oz, the Count from Sesame Street, Mohammed Ali’s boxing gloves and Apollo Anton Ohno’s skates. Plus a really old Apple computer with the floppy disk that I remember using as a kid!

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After this, we walked back to the Metro and headed over to the Chinatown Metro stop again which was not too far from the International Spy Museum.

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Right next door to the Spy Museum, we found a Pizza place where I got an awesome Greek Salad!

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Off to the Spy Museum!!  Let me tell you the lines and the crowd was tight!! We had to wait to get into an elevator with as many people as would fit.  Can I just say AGAIN at how none of this would have been happening a few years ago??!

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After the spy museum, I realized Madame Tussaud wax museum was just a few blocks away.  NOW a few blocks is no big deal to me.  Even after a full day of walking!!

Off we go!

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After this, we walked back to the Metro for our ride back to Old Town.  Once we arrived at our metro stop, we then took the trolley back up to the hotel.  It was packed!! Again…I could never have fit in that crowd before.  Woo hoo!  Not being held back by your body IS freedom.

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DAY THREE

For our last day we went to the National Zoo.  We rode the trolley down to the Metro.  Took the Metro to the Woodley Park/Zoo Exit and then walked from the metro stop to the zoo which by the way was not nearly as close as I thought it would be!  It wasn’t far but about a half mile.

And then the zoo!!

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After our day at the zoo, we were pretty wiped out!!   So we walked the half mile back to the Metro.

Walking around the zoo in and of itself is serious business! Especially the National Zoo.  My Fitbit was registering 10,000 steps early in the day every day we were in DC!!

 

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And guess what?? The escalator was broken when we got here!! We had to walk both UP these steps when we first arrived and then back down them again when the day was done.  It was a serious trek for all of us.  And in the past I would have been absolutely incapable of doing it.  WOO HOO!!

This is what happens in life.  Unforeseen circumstances happen and if you are unable physically to handle those things it is one more reason to stay in the house.  This is when all the workouts make sense!! All the hard work and exercise you do pays off!

Because it leads to this.  The ability to live life freely and spontaneously.

If life hands you a broken escalator….you just walk it!  Because you CAN!

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We took the Metro back to Alexandria.  When we made it, we found a bench to wait for the trolley but it only had one space on it for someone to sit.  There were already two other people on the bench.  The kids said “Hey Mom!! You sit down.  You deserve it!!”  And I know many people will know that sharing a bench with two other people is no small feat for someone who used to weigh over 400 pounds!!  I took a seat and the kids all piled on!

Here we are sharing our one seat on the bench!

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I have to say we had a FANTASTIC time.  And for me it was really a dream come true.     I was finally able to take my children to my hometown.  I was able to take them to the museums, monuments and many places I had talked about but they only had heard of in stories.

And in the end, I finally went home again.  After 20 years and a long struggle, I made it.

I pulled up in front of my Mother’s house.  The one where she lived until just a few years ago.  The home I never thought I would visit again due to my weight keeping me from being able to travel.

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I can never take back the fact that my Mother died 4 years ago and at that time I was unable to make it.

The truth is this—I made it here 4 years too late because now she is gone.

But I don’t believe in regrets.

My Mother raised me on her own.  And she was always there for me.  Life wasn’t easy but she taught me to keep moving forward no matter what.

I never thought this trip would happen.  I never dared to believe I would find a way out of the prison my body had become.

But here we are.  And yes I have had many twists and turns.  Many ups and downs.  Some big losses and some unwelcome regains.

But this trip was never supposed to happen.  This experience that I was able to give my children was what I had assumed long ago would never happen.

When our bodies trap us we often give up.  We often check out.  And we drown in our own despair.

In spite of setbacks, I am still in the game.  And this past week, I won one of the biggest rounds of my life.  This gives me the strength to keep going.  To lose the regained weight that I’ve lost.  Because there is nothing like experiencing life with your children.  Living life not from a chair or a recliner but out in the world.  This is what life should be about.  The freedom to really live it.  And it can happen for ALL of us.

Because it’s happened to me.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha July 8, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Oh my goodness – we were just there for a whole week and did all of the same things. I have so many of the exact same pictures with my kids (also 2 girls and a boy). I kept thinking how much more difficult that trip would have been if I hadn’t lost my 100 pounds. Looks like you guys had as much fun as we did.

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Sandi July 8, 2015 at 10:01 pm

I’m so happy that you got to have such a wonderful time with your kids!
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16blessingsmom July 8, 2015 at 10:20 pm

I think that same escalator was broken when we were there for Memorial Day:), and I thought the same about myself: a few years ago, I couldn’t have done this. My son Samuel in the Army, and is stationed in Ft. Myer, in the Old Guard (Arlington Cemetery, Tomb of The Unknown Soldier), so I have visited D.C. three or four times in the last year. We walked all the way from downtown D.C. to the Arlington metro station a few times, and all around the city too. I’m not gonna say my feet didn’t hurt, but honestly, it’s so true, what a gift to be able to walk like that, and to even sit in the grass, and be able to get back up…things that were impossible for me a few years back.
I’m so glad for you that you were able to show your children where you grew up, too. You are a good mom, and a good example. Thank you so much for sharing, this post made me happy!!!

Della

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Karen P July 9, 2015 at 2:03 am

Congrats on your trip Holly. I took a similar trip in 2009, but I was 70 pounds overweight. It was tough, and I had foot problems due to my weight. It took 2 more years for me to get it together to deicde to lose weight for good.

Glad you got to do something you wanted and needed to do with your kids. Classic photos. Keep up the great work. Karen P
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Melissa @ Faster In Water July 9, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Oh man, how great!!! Glad you got to stack up your accomplishments and a great vacation all together!

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Heather C July 9, 2015 at 3:15 pm

One C

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Carrie R July 9, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Holly,

I was sitting here in tears. I am on the other side of the story. Still not doing things because of my weight. Your story is so inspirational. It makes me believe I can do it! I know you have a lot of contacts/friends on here but I could really use a friend that is encouraging. I need some accountability. If you have the time/inclination I would sure love it! Loved all the fun pictures.

Carrie

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Halima Omar July 20, 2015 at 7:51 am

Hi Carrie,
I’ve been struggle with weight all my life and I’ve always pushed it off when my family and friends encouraged me to lose weight. My weight became a barrier for keeping everyone out, so I wouldn’t get hurt. I’ve decided in the last few months to start living healthy because frankly unhealthy food has started to gross me out, but mostly I was sick of letting my weight keep me from my dreams and goals. In the last few months I’ve stopped eating fast foods, eating out, drinking pop, drinking juice etc. I’ve started cooking at home, exercising four times a week and I’ve lost 50 pounds. I’ve never been more free and in control of my life. Was it easy, no! But it was a lot more easy than what I had built up in my mind. In my mind I thought exercise would be torture, it was hard, but not torture. I thought eating healthy food would be really hard and I would never eat good food again. I was wrong. I don’t ever want to go back, just forward. Unfortunately recently I couldn’t exercise anymore because I was fasting for religious purposes and I didn’t have the energy to exercise. But now I’m in the swing of things again, and I’m finding it hard to hit the gym, but I know once I get the routine back than I will continue on my journey. But it is hard to lose weight when no one is doing it with you or the people who are don’t struggle like you do or don’t look like you in size. But I would love to be your online fit buddy, let me know! 🙂
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Pam Holmes July 9, 2015 at 4:38 pm

My husband and I went to DC in April 2013 and saw many of the same things you and your family toured. It was wonderful and would have been totally impossible before my weight loss. I never once took everything I was able to do for granted, and I never forgot that I would never have been able to see any of it if I hadn’t gotten serious about regaining my health three years earlier. I didn’t have a Fitbit back then, but I know there was thousands and thousands of steps involved and I could do it all!!! And that is still amazing to me!!! I too am not where I want to be (anymore), but I am still far from where I was. A good motivator to lose this regain should be the reminder of how I was unable to do anything before and now I can do ANYTHING!
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Cameron July 9, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Wow! Looks like a wonderful trip & you all look like you’re having a blast together! I’m glad the trip was such a success, your words are just glowing. Cheers!

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Paula July 9, 2015 at 9:47 pm

This is more inspiring than anything I have read in a while. I know that fitbit is great for you, but I have hip and knee problems and “feel kinda left out”, but that you could MAKE such a great memory with your children is what our lives are about. I am more limited because of my knees, but I am determined to make a memory this summer, too.. even if my kids are 31, 31, and 36.

Thank you for sharing and encouraging.

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Ronda July 10, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Can’t wait to take my kids to DC. They have to be a little older though because of all the walking!
Great pics. Glad you got to do this with the kids. Making lifetime memories!

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Kimberly M. July 10, 2015 at 7:43 pm

I have been a reader for quite some time and have wanted to comment in times past but never took the time. Today as I read through your post, I was smiling the whole entire time. I am so proud of your and so thankful for your willingness to post through the good times and the bad and continue to be very real to your followers. I do believe God has a purpose in all that you’ve experienced in the past. Thank you for encouraging me today!

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LN July 11, 2015 at 3:57 am

I am so happy to see you so happy about your trip to Washington, DC. How beautiful are the smiles on your children’s faces and on yours. God bless you and your four children. Just wanted you to know how good it has made me feel reading this post. Bless you and the children.

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Amanda July 17, 2015 at 11:46 pm

Your introduction made me cry and the pictures made me stand up and cheer for you. What an amazing trip for your family. Your mother would be so proud of you.

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Nikki Mohamed July 18, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Oh, Holly! I’m so excited for you. What a great trip. (I’m a little jealous. A lot of my favorite years growing up were in the Baltimore/Washington corridor, too.) You’re still most inspiring and I’m taking the plunge into the commitment pool once more starting today. I’ve been sidetracked for a while. So proud of you.
Nikki Mohamed recently posted..Driving Privilege vs Driving RightMy Profile

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Jill July 27, 2015 at 7:21 pm

I’ve been following your journey after finding your youtube videos and I want to just THANK YOU soooo much! I have desperately been wanting to get a gastric bypass for years, but I couldn’t find the words to explain to my husband what it felt like. When I found your videos from the beginning, I was like YEAH! That’s what I feel EXACTLY!!!!! and it helped me to open up and explain to my husband why I REALLY need to do this. Fast forward and I’m about 3 months away from my surgery! 🙂 Thank you for being both an inspiration and my words when I couldn’t speak them clearly! <3 PS you trip looks AMAZING and I can't wait to have one of my own soon!

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emilyFIT July 27, 2015 at 11:58 pm

Very inspiring post! Love seeing how much progress you have made.

Question for you… in this post (http://www.300poundsdown.com/2012/03/fitness-friday.html) you noted that you turned very red from exercise. I do too. Did that ever get any better? In your trip pictures you don’t appear to be red like a tomato, so I am hopeful (for myself) that the redness aspect got better with significant weight loss.

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Anneli August 12, 2015 at 11:00 pm

I can’t even tell you how much I love this post. Traveling is my number one favorite thing to do and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you got to do some and in such a meaningful place. Your blog fills me with hope and inspiration in so much more than just my weight world. Thank you!
Anneli

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LN August 13, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Miss you. Hope all is with everyone. So glad one of your dreams came true. Wonderful pictures. LN

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robin August 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm

What’s going on? Anything new?

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Laine September 2, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Hi Holly,
LOVED the photos of your fabulous trip!
Wondering if you saw Dr. Sharma’s blog about book about food addictions. If not, I’m sure you will find it of interest as it validates your struggles with sugar addiction that you have so eloquently written about. Here is the link http://www.drsharma.ca/does-food-addiction-require-abstinence
You will never know how many people your blog has impacted and in whose lives you have made an immeasurable difference. In my case, it was life-saving. My heartfelt gratitude for the time and energy you have expended in sharing your journey and wisdom despite the multitude of challenges and struggles you have faced. May God watch over you and grant you peace.
Hugs,
Laine

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Kimberly September 11, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Just wanted to let you know that I have missed you and I hope everything is going well and you are just taking a break to enjoy life. I almost never comment, but wanted to let you know that through the ups and downs, you are a continuous source of education and encouragement for lots of us out here. Praying for you here in Texas!

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Nancy Olsen September 15, 2015 at 7:25 pm

I want to second Kimberly’s message. I also have missed you and hope everything is going well for you and your family. You have been a source of inspiration, encouragement, and hope for me ever since I had my gastric sleeve surgery back in June of 2012. I have struggled over the last 1 1/2 years with significant weight gain, which has been so agonizingly tough to handle after all of the money, time, energy, sweat, and tears I put into having the surgery and losing 150 pounds after the surgery. I have been inspired by you continuing to work and fight and keep on keeping on in spite of your struggles with sugar addiction and weight gain. It has really helped me to know that I am not alone in these struggles.

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Anita Cooper September 18, 2015 at 2:38 pm

You are loved, Holly. When you really discover who you are in Christ you will be able to receive that love, beyond measure.

Claim your birthright, Holly.

You have every right to it, to take back what has been stolen from you.

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Jo September 22, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Missing your posts so much. I hope all is well with you and your family.

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ebony October 5, 2015 at 6:45 pm

hey holly, i miss you, i look out for you all the time for updates. i hope you are ok.. remember we are all rooting for you and you have changed a lot of lives. we want you back!! i want you to be happy and you deserve all the happiness.. no method of weightloss is easy, its a struggle and we are all in it together.. sending you love and light. your fan from england xoxo

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robin October 18, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Where are you??

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Faith October 20, 2015 at 4:29 pm

Hey Holly,
Hope you are well. I miss your posts.

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Carla (from Alabama) November 9, 2015 at 6:55 pm

Holly,
I hope all is well with you. I really miss your posts. I have been checking here everyday to see if you have added something new. I hope you get to share with us again soon.

I was looking at your photos in the gray suite and I noticed that your hands are turned palm towards your back. I lost 245 pounds in 1985-87 and that is something I noticed about my photos. My palms were always turned toward my back until I reached 220 (180 lbs lost) when I first looked a normal weight to myself, they were always turned palms toward my side. I don’t know what or if it means anything it is just something I observed with myself and now I look for it on other photos of people who have substantial weight loss. It is always this way so far with everyone. And, by the way On the photos of you on your side bar, after losing the weight, your hands, too, are turned palm toward your side. Just an observation…haven’t really seen any documentation on why that would happen. It is interesting to me though because it is an automatic thing. It just happens.
Carla (from Alabama) recently posted..Another Year.My Profile

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