Monday, September 1, 2014

Stand Together.

If you didn't already know this, September is both Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. In other words, September is an IMPORTANT month. Here's why:

Childhood Cancer Facts

From The American Cancer Society:

  • About 10,450 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014.
  • .Cancer is the second leading cause of death in children (after accidents
  • The most common forms of cancer in children are:
    • Leukemia
    • Brain and other central nervous system tumors
    • Neuroblastoma
    • Wilms tumor
    • Lymphoma (including both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin)
    • Rhabdomyosarcoma
    • Retinoblastoma
    • Bone cancer (including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma)
  • Less than 5% of the federal government’s total funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancers each year.

Suicide Facts

  • Suicide takes the lives of nearly 40,000 Americans every year.
  • For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Suicide can be prevented through education and public awareness.

But there is something you REALLY need to know about both childhood cancer AND suicide: WE CAN DO SOMETHING. I get it. We aren't all millionaires, and we don't have loads of time on our side. But we have a heart. We have (or most of us do) the ability to type and to write. We can spread awareness. We can make a small difference. We can let people know that we will fight. 

I am going to dedicate my September to these two causes. It won't be every day, and it won't be anything huge...sometimes it will be as simple as posting a link to a related organization. But I figure, I can at least do SOMETHING to show my support. One thing I plan on doing is to donate toys to my local Ronald McDonald house....I also am going to participate in the Metro Detroit Out of the Darkness Walk.

There are so many ways for you to get involved. Stand up with me. If you need ideas, talk to me. My mind is buzzing. I will be posting updates on my social media accounts of what I am doing....not to brag, not to boast or to convince you all that I'm this great person- rather, I will be posting to spread the love, spread the awareness. None of us can end childhood cancer or suicide alone. We must do it together. 

So let's do it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Almost 80.

when I told my dad I was just three pounds away from losing 80 lbs, he truly looked... Amazed. 80 is a big number. And although I am not QUITE at 80, I'm still shocked to hear that number come out of my mouth.

My dad then told me that it is quite evident how much happier I am now. He wondered outloud if it was the new job, or Tom, or the weight loss... Or perhaps a combination of all three. 

Personally, I believe my happiness is a result of the fact that I no longer depend on food to MAKE me happy. Previously, if I was down in the dumps, lonely, or angry, I would eat to feel better. But what I was eating- fast food and other high fat foods- were only making me worse. They made me tired, cranky, and lethargic. Which led to further unhappiness.

I love my job but I also believe I am performing better at my job because I am healthier. At my old job I was constantly sick. I haven't been sick once with ACS....and the job itself is actually probably more stressful. I am just healthier and able to take it on, plus I love what I do.

I love Tom, but if I was still battling my issues with food I don't think we would be in as good of a place as we are now. Because I am able to talk about my feelings instead of hiding them and because I am able to get a handle on my anxiety, and because I feel much more confident and eager to get out and do stuff rather than sit at home and eat, our relationship is a solid one. 

I talked about this a little bit last week, but the confidence I have gained from this experience is key. I am able to talk to people in authority with ease, to stand in front of crowds and speak about ACS without having a panic attack, and I actually enjoy going out and doing stuff. That is so, so different from the me I was just over a year ago. 

To be clear, I don't think the WEIGHT LOSS itself has made me more confident. I don't want anyone to the impression to that you have to lose 80 lbs to be happy and confident. Because it's not just about how I look or feeling better. What has made me more confident is KNOWING I can cope without food binges. Think of it as alcoholism. I think most prior alcoholics or recovering alcoholics would agree with me and say that the majority of the reason they feel better is because they have learned to live their life without alcohol, and that their lives have become much clearer without it. That is how I feel with food. Obviously I eat, but I eat the right foods, and I no longer binge or hide my eating. 

Here's to 77 lbs, to almost 80, and to confidence. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dreams of Failure

For the past several nights, I have been having dreams that take me through each time I have "failed" in my life. Let me give you some examples...

In one of my dreams, I was 7 years old again and on the soccer field, playing in a game. My coach pulled me out, and told me that I wasn't good enough. This isn't EXACTLY what happened, but it's close. I was not the best soccer player- I admit that. But that shouldn't matter when you're 7. However, during one of our games I was pulled out for several minutes while another girl subbed for me. Another teammate was pulled out shortly after me. I sat there ready to play again, while she sat there out of breath and tired. But when one of our other teammates had to come out, my coach picked the other girl over me, even though I had been sitting out for a while and she had just come out.

A third dream was that I was in line to be president of my sorority, and all the girls were voting and I didn't get it. This IS what happened in real life.

Yet another dream was getting a phone call that I didn't get the job at Mercy as the alumnae director. Again, this did actually happen in real life.

Those are just a few examples. At first, I was angry. I didn't understand why by subconscious was being so cruel and bringing these memories back to real life for me. Those are things I would rather forget, and although some of them seem small, at the time each of them crushed me and made me question my capabilities and talents. In sum, each of these incidences took a giant stab at my self esteem.

When I was talking to Tom about these dreams, though, he put a different twist on it. His thought is that maybe my sub conscious is showing me these things to show me how far I have come, or to show me that I have made it through each of these hardships, I can surely continue to push through the ones in front of me now. Tom's perspective gave me hope and confidence to know that I AM a strong person and that even though there are a million things happening to me right now and I am feeling like I am not good enough or strong enough to overcome them, I CAN and I WILL because I have before.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 
― Maya Angelou

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

$75 for 75 lbs.

In the middle of Zumba class on Monday night, I came up with an idea that excited me so much I nearly tripped while doing the grapevine.

I decided that in honor of reaching 75 lbs, a new milestone, I was going to donate $75 to charity. But not just any charity- I was going to donate it toward the two places that have helped me reach the 75 pound mark.

If you've been following my weight loss journey from the start, you know that the first gym I joined was Sola Life and Fitness, a fitness center through Beaumont Hospital. Sola is one of my favorite topics of discussion. That place is incredible. I recommend it to just about everyone who is looking for a gym. And, for the first 7 months of my weight loss journey, the staff at Sola were the ones to get me through. I lost somewhere between 35-40 lbs at Sola. Since Sola is connected to Beaumont Hospital, I decided to donate $35 to the pediatrics wing at the hospital.

Once I began my new job at The American Cancer Society, I had to leave Sola. The drive was too far. After visiting a couple of gyms, I decided to join my local YMCA. It had the equipment I needed and tons of group exercise classes, plus a decent pool. Bonus points? It's walking distance to my house. I've been a member at the Y for 6 months now and have lost an additional 35 ish lbs. I am PROUD to be a member of the Birmingham Y. They have incredible programs available- including personal training and social activities for special needs children and adults. They also host Girls on The Run and maintain a pretty solid summer camp. Plus, they have the trainers, equipment, and classes for people like me who are there to lose weight. I decided to donate $40 directly to the Y's annual campaign.

So, all together, $75 has been donated to two great charities. I know it's not a lot of money, but I hope that it at least helps one person or buys one thing that they need for a program. This is my way of giving back to the two places who have helped me to become the best version of myself. I could list hundreds of "gifts" that Sola and the Y have given me, but the number one is confidence. Without the help of Debbie and Ryanne at Sola and Sarah G, Tracy. Chassity, and Sarah J at the Y, I wouldn't be as confident as I am now. I never in my life would have tried kickboxing or pilates or stood in the front row at Zumba without the help of these ladies. My life has completely changed and I owe it to the staff at these two places. Their passion for helping others reach their goals has encouraged me when I am frustrated, pushed me when I wanted to quit, and made me smile when I just wanted to cry. I am 100% honored that I have been able to be a member at these two facilities.

I was originally going to take a photo of me holding 75 lbs as my celebration for reaching this milestone. But donating and letting them know just how much I appreciate their dedication and knowledge is so much more important. They have changed my life, and hopefully my small donation can help them in some way.