Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Today's 3 Things

Post 3 good things that happened to you today, no matter how trivial.
1. My Mom called to let me know that she received the Keurig that I sent her for her birthday. She LOVES coffee, and I know that she wanted one.
2. The fever that I had yesterday was finally gone.
3. I was able to walk home and feel the sun shine.  I stopped to look around my neighborhood, took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and felt nothing but gratitude.

Tonight's Workout - Simple & Effective

Tonight's workout was so simple, yet so incredibly effective.  I burned a ton of calories and was sweating buckets.  We took our measurements and photos before the workout.  The entire thing took us about 58 minutes.  If you give it a shot, let me know what you think!

Warm-up (5:00)
Treadmill (walk/jog)

Kettlebell Technique Practice (~10:00)
Introduced my workout partner to 2 new moves.  We used them later in our circuit. She picked them up quickly.
-Dead Cleans
-Long Cycle Cleans
-Push Presses

Circuit (3x)
Start on your non-dominant side
1H Swing x 5
1H Clean x 3
1H Press/Push Press x 3
H2H Swings x 5
Repeat on the other side and then rest 1:00

Timed Rounds (3x)
Perform each exercise for 1:00
- Cardio (we used the Treadmill, Versaclimber, and Stair Stepper)
- 2H KB Swing
- Kickboxing (we used the heavy bag, practicing kick/punch/jumping jacks combinations)
Rest 1:00 in between rounds (our rest turned out to be more like 1:45 in between rounds...this kicked our butts tonight)

Step Ups x (0:30/leg), hold a DB for balance. Complete 2 rounds

Crunches x 15
Oblique Crunches x 15/side
Low Back Superman x 15
Low Back Alt Arm/Leg Raise x 10 (R-L is one rep)


Monday, July 22, 2013

Paying it Forward

The past 2 weeks have been really great.  I've been a little off-focus with my own workouts, but I've been focused on paying it forward.  I'm now working out with a former co-worker (and friend).  She was having some challenges with her weight, and I knew I could help.  So, I asked her to become my workout partner.  It helps me remain accountable as well. 

Tonight, we had our 4th workout, and the energy and results are amazing.  It's so nice to have a friend to 'share the pain'.  She gave me the best compliment in that she was starting to see results already.  She said that her jeans fit looser this past Friday.  She's never lifted weights or even seen a kettlebell.  I've only taught her swings and deadlifts so far, but her body is responding very nicely (as is mine).  I'm getting my spark back.  I'm proud of her, but just a reminder that paying it forward helps the giver as well as the recipient.

Have an awesome week, everyone!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013


So, now it's time for the 'working on happily ever after' part of my story.  This past 12 months have resulted in 3 absolutely amazing gifts.

1. Lean Eating:  For the past year, I have been participating in a program sponsored by Precision Nutrition called Lean Eating.  The program is in its last few weeks, and I have been selected as a finalist (Finalist #18)!!  I had an amazing coach-turned friend (Cynthia) throughout the program.  She really helped me stay focused, acknowledge the positive, and approach my massive goal in smaller chunks. 

2. Bobby Whisnand: In conjunction with this program, I have been working very closely with my life coach locally (Bobby Whisnand).  Bobby recently released a series of exercise DVD's  sponsored by the American Heart Association called It's All Heart.  He invited me to be a part of his cast (something that has been a dream of mine since I was 19 years old!).  Bobby's invitation came at the end of September 2012, after another stress-induced adrenal crash, a blood sugar dip into diabetic range, and another 23 pounds of unexplained, rapid weight gain. When we started rehearsing for the DVD's last October, I was at my absolute highest weight in life.  However, I accepted his invitation.  Even though I did look as I wanted to on the outside, I was encouraged to keep trying, remain committed, and just do my very best.  I decided that I would let the cards fall wherever they may.

3. Transformation: I finally started losing weight and changing my attitude and mindset in October 2012.  The invitation to participate in the DVD filming was the catalyst.  Keeping up with the lessons in the Lean Eating program were the glue.  I have dropped 50 pounds since Sept 26, 2012!!  I am 25 pounds away from my 'normal' weight, and I am finally fitting back into all of my beautiful dresses. In my most recent check-up this past April, my blood sugar levels FINALLY returned to normal ranges. Even though I will continue to have to manage the condition for the rest of my life, I am proof that you can be healed and set free of your ailments.  I was able to rediscover FAITH in MYSELF and turn this thing around!  Most importantly, I have found my self confidence and my SMILE again.  I am no longer hiding from the camera or avoiding social settings.  I am rediscovering life again.  I am truly in a happy place right now.  My end goal is eminent.  My heart and outlook are once again positive, and I feel like I am finally back to myself.  I feel strong again - mentally, physically, and emotionally.  This state of mind is truly priceless. 

Thank you for allowing me to share my test, my testimony, and my joy with you.  Please know that if you are experiencing challenges in your life, the pain and hurt will not last forever. You are NOT alone in your struggles. I felt so incredibly alone during my 5-year test and like nobody understood what was happening to me.  I realize now that I needed to go through these experiences.  This was my destiny.  My real name means "purpose," and I now realize that my reason for going through all of this was to emerge stronger and to share my story and experience with others.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Come on Back...

I know it's been a while since I've posted anything new.  These days I really find myself coming back to life.  I recently shared my journey with some of my close friends.  One of them asked me if I was actively blogging about this experience.  Another friend asked me the same question a few weeks back.  Their questions certainly struck a chord with me.  In the past, I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging on a regular basis.  However, my own struggles got the best of me over the past several years.  Anyway, I thought that I would recap the main points of my journey and use this as my "come on back" post. 

So, here we go - the most vulnerable post that I think I have shared to date.  However, I do so in the hopes of encouraging someone out there who may be going through a challenge.  I am now at a point where I am working on creating my "happily ever after," and I am comfortable with being somewhat exposed.

My Story
"In life, you must have a test before you can have a testimony." -- Quote from my significant other

Throughout my life, I have worked very hard at learning how to define and accept myself.  During my teenage years, I struggled with self-esteem and self confidence issues, which were all triggered by my weight.  I had a relatively drama-free childhood, was smart, had nice friends, a good head on my shoulders, and I sincerely liked myself as a person.  As I entered into my teenage years, I began to struggle with my weight.  I did not like exercise, and I recognized that I was significantly larger than my friends.  When I entered college, I decided that I would learn how to take care of my body and make better nutrition choices.   Between the ages of 19-26, I was in excellent shape.  I started becoming actively involved in the gym and fitness community in 1998 and discovered that I had a talent and passion as a fitness instructor and personal trainer.  I competed in figure and bodybuilding competitions in my mid/late 20's, and found myself achieving many fitness goals.  However, I also acknowledge that I am a perfectionist, workaholic, OCD-type, and really was stressing my body out to the max always trying to be the best at everything - work, grad school, gym - all in that order.  My life was completely imbalanced.  I lost sight of the truly important things and found myself failing at being a good daughter, sister, friend, and companion to those who loved me and mattered the most.  Anyway, my body finally cried UNCLE at the end of 2006.  I IGNORED the warning signs and noticed my body slowly starting to shut down. 

In January 2007, my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 92.  I was in my final semester of graduate school.  In March 2007, my half-sister was killed in a car accident.  She was my second sister to encounter this untimely fate.  I managed to graduate on time in May 2007; my grandfather passed away 1 week after my graduation.  Amidst all of this, I was working 70+ hours/week in a high stress managerial role.  I was under chronic stress, experienced two very intense personal losses, and I never took time to grieve or heal...instead, I just worked more.  Even though I gained 20 pounds in that 2 month period, I thought it would all pass. I was in denial.  I let a full year go by.  I knew that something "wasn't right," but I grew increasingly more afraid to probe into it farther.  Avoidance only prolonged the inevitable.  In August 2008, my body completely shut down after both of my parents fell ill on the same day (they are both fine and in good health now).  I continued gaining weight, started experiencing intense anxiety,  and fell into a deep depression.  I ended up taking an 8-month medical leave from work.  It was during this time that I discovered that I'd actually suffered a breakdown of my adrenal system, hormonal imbalance, and exhaustion.  I bounced from doctor to doctor, practitioner to practitioner...only to be told that my body needed absolute rest and that my condition could take 3-5 years to heal, given that I learn how to manage my stress.

My Test
The past 5 years have been a test of faith, emotional strength, self learning, and resilience. When I returned to work in August 2009, I returned only to find out that my position had been eliminated.  It was a blessing in disguise because I started having panic attacks anticipating a return.  However, my unemployment was much longer than I ever anticipated.  It was the beginning of the economic recession/depression, and I was out of work for 18 months.  So much for that "no stress" thing.  My condition only got worse. I would go through periods of being able to enjoy life, exercise, lose a few pounds (i.e. 5-10), hit a stressful setback, and gain massive amounts of weight in very short time frames.  For instance, I gained 40 pounds in a 2 month period.  I was completely frustrated.  I had no idea how to heal my body or my emotional state.  Enter the downward spiral....anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalances, adrenal exhaustion, chronic stress, extended unemployment (translation - more stress)...YIKES!  There were days when I looked into the mirror, and I simply did not recognize the person staring back at me. I lost my smile and my spark.  I felt completely hopeless and helpless.  I became introverted, isolated, and quiet -- all very unfamiliar to me.  Even as I type this now, I am in shock and very grateful that I was able to weather the storm.

My Testimony
I have continued working towards improving my condition, and the past year has really been truly transformational.  Everything finally came together for me.  My testimony is that you can overcome ANY obstacle as long as you don't give up, and you keep pressing forward.  I have tried MANY different things over the years (some really crazy, out of pure desperation). There are times when I gave up, when I felt like I was never going to regain my energy, strength, or athleticism.  I felt defeated time and time again.  Many, many tears have been shed along the way.  Throughout this journey, I lost my self confidence, I lost my self esteem, and I stopped believing in myself.  I am happy to share that in my most recent check-up this past April, my blood sugar levels FINALLY returned to normal.  Even though I will continue to have to manage the pre-diabetes condition for the rest of my life, I am proof that you can be healed and set free of your ailments.  I was able to rediscover FAITH in MYSELF and turn this thing around! 

I still have a little way to go before I reach my end goal, but I know that it is eminent.  My heart and outlook are once again positive, and I feel like I am finally back to myself.  I feel strong again - mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I never stopped trying.  Trust me there are times when I wanted to (and did) throw in the towel, but I couldn't fathom the long-term repercussions of acceptance.  I had to keep trying to change the situation. 
My Joy
I am so blessed to have so many wonderful friends who helped me through these difficult times.  Friends who offered their training & nutrition services, healthcare professionals who tried to help along the way, hands who tried to heal, and many hearts that simply loved.

There is a very happy ending to all of this...which I will post separately in a few days. 

Thanks for reading, and I hope that my story helps someone who needs it today...