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A Journey, The Struggle, And Encouragement

“Life is a journey” We hear that a lot.

From TV and movies, to fluffy little news pieces,  to quaint concise sayings on Twitter and Facebook, these can all seem like bold declarations of “finding direction for your life.” It’s all around us. Frankly, I’ve never been more tired of it. But, there is some truth to the initial saying. It’s just with so much media access, it can seem like overkill, as well as beyond confusing because every person with a blog, TV show, or conference wants to tell you what that journey is supposed to be about.  I guess this could be counted as one more. I mean, I’m not really going to tell you what that specific journey is, or how to achieve nirvana by following it. I’m just going to quickly(or not so quickly), tell you about one of the journeys I’m on and maybe it will encourage you, and maybe just maybe it will be so awful you’ll puke. Either way at least I’m getting a reaction.

So, I have this journey I’m on. It started in July, 2016. It’s a journey to lose weight. Now, If I’m honest, this journey probably started waaaaay back in my early 20’s, more than 20 years ago. I marvel at the Facebook pictures posted of me in high school, when I was so absolutely sure of how fat I was. I really had no clue. Looking at it now, I couldn’t believe how skinny I was! I guess we all have a tendency to distort how we see ourselves in some way. We carry so much baggage on this journey, I wonder sometimes, if any of us ever reach their “destination.” I don’t really need to look at these pictures to know, I may have put on some weight. From my high school yrs to my 20’s, from my 20’s to my 30’s and my 30’s to my mid 40’s which is where I rest on this merry go round of life at this point. There have been ups and downs, triumph and losses and here I stand. I’m not where I once was, but I’m also not where I’d like to be. At my highest, I packed  260lbs on this stocky frame, but “I carried it well”.

Don’t you love when people say that? What am I giving birth? What do you say to a skinny person? “Hey, you know, I bet you’d carry  an extra 50 pounds pretty well.” Maybe next time someone says that to me, I’ll hand ’em a giant bag of fertilizer and tell ’em how well THEY carry it. Okay, there’s a chance I may have digressed a bit.

As I was saying, it’s June 2016, and I have 260 “well carried” pounds on this 5’6″ frame and I’m ready to do something about it. Motivation begins to percolate like an old school pot o’ joe on the stove. My first goal is usually to get my eating habits under control, and it’s usually hit or miss when I’m starting out. Good days, bad days, and everything in between. I know I shouldn’t get frustrated at the slow start, but I’m human and my nature is to want results YESTERDAY! Whaaaaaat? You too? Well, that’s a relief. I thought I was the only one. Well, slowly and surely the weight starts to come off. A pound here, two pounds there. Cutting nearly all fast foods out of your diet, and switching to any combination of mostly proteins and vegetables will do that for you. Once you make it a habit or a routine, it’s a little easier, but if I’m honest, JUST A LITTLE. The weight was coming down and in roughly a month I was sitting comfortably at just under 250lbs, approximately. But there was more to be done.

Up until this point, I had not really started working any exercise regime into my weight loss plans. I was purely focused on cutting calories, carbs and late night snacks. Now, there is another reason why I hadn’t exercised yet. My main plan was to eventually incorporate a pretty solid walking/running regimen into my weight loss goal. It included lunch time walks during work in a neighborhood that had some of the hilliest hills you can imagine as well as treadmill runs at the gym. To get right to the point, at 260lbs, my knees, lungs and heart just weren’t up to the challenge yet. Any step at my highest weight was a like a mini explosion on my knees and just a quick walk up a short hill made my lungs and chest feel like they would burst. On top of all that, I always had this fear that if I wasn’t ready for the physical challenge, I’d conk out halfway through. So much so that in the beginning when I’d walk during lunch, I would keep my phone handy just in case, and what I mean by handy is, that I had my phone, in my hand, with emergency numbers at the ready. I even imagined leaving a last heartfelt message on my phone for my dear loving family. Though, in hindsight I think that the recording might sound like one of those prank calls with heavy breathing on one end. I guess I  digressed again, didn’t I? Well, my apologies, it might happen a few more times before I’m through.

So, I lost some weight first. It still wasn’t easy, but I did it. Pretty soon I was walking my way through 2 to 3 hilly miles, 3 to 4 times a week in a neighborhood that could give the best treadmill interval training program a run for it’s money. On top of that, I was hitting the treadmill at the local planet fitness pretty regular in the morning or at night. By the end of September my stamina improved, my knees felt better and my weight was at nearly 220lbs. Did I also mention those pesky chest pains were gone too? Well they were.

I do have occasional hiccups I take no responsiblity for it, and place the blame squarely on the shoulders a variety of people, which includes breakfast with my pastor, late dinner at bible study and another meal at various church functions. (It’s easier than taking responsibility for my actions.) While I didn’t balloon up back to where it all began, my weight had increased here and there, and it can be a little disheartening. But, there I go again, walking and watching what I eat, taking it a day at a time, and slowly losing weight. Pretty soon, I was back to where I was and feeling even more determined to get back to my original weight…, 7lbs 8 oz. (admit it, you laughed, didn’t you?). For those that care, I’m shooting for somewhere under 200lbs. 

I remember making these declarative Facebook posts periodically over the years, during different attempts to lose weight.  Once I was under 250lbs I said, “I would never, ever go back to 250lbs”. Then I posted that, “I would never go back to 240lbs”. Eventually, I would say, “Sayonara to 230lbs”. I wish I could say I’ve held fast to those promises, but I can’t. I had said those things, and not long after doing so, my weight went back up and then some.  Now, I’m back, smack dab in the middle of 220-230lbs. I’ve dabbled slightly with being under 220lbs, but not so much that I ever felt comfortable saying “so long 220lbs”, though I’d like to. As I stated before, I’d love to eventually give a farewell wink and a nod to 210lbs, 200lbs and 190lbs as well, but well see.

So here I am, beginning of spring, I’ve continued to watch what I eat, to a degree, as well as watch how much I eat, to a degree, and keep track of my weight. What I mean is, I might not go crazy about what I eat. I do occasionally meet my red-haired pigtailed friend, Wendy, for a burger (gasp, even a triple), I just try not to make a habit of it. The winter months are typically an opportune time to pack that weight back on, and without a doubt, it was my fear, though I didn’t walk in fear of it. I was encouraged to make it through those months maintaining my weight within 225-230 lbs range.

But there’s a but. A big but. Though not nearly as big as it used to be (wink wink).

The last month or so, I’ve felt pretty lazy. Whatever the factors that played a part in it aren’t extremely important to this story, except to say slowly but surely my weight began to tick upward a few pounds here and there. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but I know from experience that it can cascade pretty quickly, and soon your fighting to stay below 230lbs, and, then 235lbs, and on and on. You start demanding results from yourself and making excuses for your bad eating habits when the results don’t come. Your begging for just a nugget of hope in this battle, even as your begging for a nugget of chicken from McDonald’s . You have those “start over” moments, over and over and over again. It’s like trying to get a car to kick on with a weak battery. You hear it turning, almost…, almost…, almost…, but never turning all the way over. Everyday can be like that. Today’s the day it starts, today’s the day, today’s the day I eat better, today’s the day I walk. You’re desperate to hear the rev of that engine that says, today’s IS the day!

Let me stop and say, your not alone. We all have those false starts. Those begin agains. Please don’t give up. Slow is still movement. It’s still progress. To be honest, it may be the best progress. We are inundated with fast results now. And as much as we know it’s only clever advertising, we all fall for it and say, “YES! FAST RESULTS NOW! I’m in. Sign me up.” It hurts that much more when it’s slower when we want faster, and are promised faster if we just do X, Y & Z. Whatever your doing, whatever your goal, hang in for the long haul. Try hard not to get frustrated. Keep starting again and again, AND AGAIN if you have to. You are absolutely not the only one. No promises here, no guarantees. Just encouragement to keep going. I hope that this minor digression was worth it.

So here I am, at 225lbs, which is still better than 260lbs, but feeling a little stalled. So here I am, trying to get that engine to kick over for the next leg of the journey. A lot of “start overs” under my belt, but history tells me it will happen. the engine may cough a little, sputter a bit, clearly sounding like it needs a tune up, but with a few steps on the pedal it begins to rev and purr like a kitten (but with a few hair balls caught in his throat for sure). I don’t expect everyday to be perfect, but I expect more good than bad. I feel encouraged inside.

Whether it’s the endorphins that kick in when you get that body moving, or the scale that tells me something’s working ssssssslowwwwwly. It doesn’t matter. It’s there… It’s hope… And It’s rising.

They’ll be ups and downs. Frustrations to be sure.

I sit right now (somewhat) firmly at just about 225lbs.

Encouraged because I’m not where I was, even if it’s still not where I want to be.

Blessing on your journey!


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