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Stressed – spelled backwards is desserts.

We all have stressful days. Some might even have stressful weeks, months or years. I don’t really know anyone who is stress free. But I believe that, like mourning, everyone deals with stress in different ways.

Some might be passive; hiding their stress until they erupt like Vesuvius. Some might be aggressive; letting out their frustrations with a hair-trigger and quick response. And as with most everything, there are those who are in between.

While I don’t consider myself to be an angry person, when I am angry, it can flash, but I think I’ve learned to not allow it to 1) define me; 2) let it take me over and hold onto it for too long, and 3) mostly important, I do whatever I can to never hurt someone in anger. And with stress, I tend to push it down; pretend it doesn’t exist and try to humor my way out of it.

After all, they say laughter is the best medicine, right?

No matter how stressed I get, I do try to deal with it. Not always in the most productive ways, but at least I try. But note that I said “try”.

I often joke that if I was any sort of a drinker, with all the stress, I’d be falling down drunk all the time. Thank goodness I’m not. So how do I deal with stress? That’s a good question. And sometimes I feel like I really don’t have any idea how to deal with it.

If you’ve been reading the postings in this blog lately, you’ll recognize a pattern. When I named one recent blog “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing”…I shit you not, I wasn’t kidding. So like with what seems like everything in my life, I don’t have a good answer for what I do to deal with stress. Most times, it seems, I just get to the point of frustration and end up crying it out. Which I hate. I absolutely hate crying about anything – good or bad. It tends to make me feel physically worse. So I’m not one for “crying it out” – at least as a remedy for myself.

So, I did some research to find out what “others” recommend for relieving stress. Some made me giggle. Some made me roll my eyes. A couple even had me picturing myself looking like a rolly-polly Buddha, as I attempt to find my “calm”.

I wish I could say I was inspired. I can’t say I wasn’t; but I’m still not sure. I have been wishing I could do yoga over the past couple of years. Hell, I even have a mat. Mind you, it’s still rolled up and hasn’t been removed from the cardboard that it holding it rolled up. But good intentions…

I’m not really made for yoga. Again, I wish I was. I have friends who swear by it. And I admit I had to look up what “hot yoga” was, but the end result is that I’m really just not very yoga-like in body right now, even if my mind is.

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As with most everything else in my life, I’m not very disciplined. I often wonder how I even made it this far in life with such a hap-hazard way of living, but here I am…all the hamsters spinning on their wheels in my mind, trying to get to the finish. Here’s hoping my finish isn’t for a long time.

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But I digress…

Discipline. Err…no…Self-discipline: the correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.

It’s really mind-boggling how much self-discipline can be, and should be, applied to so many facets of my life. From weight-loss, to house-cleaning, to exercise, to dealing with anxiety, stress and frustration. I wish I could say that I’ve mastered it in at least one thing in my life, but I’d be lying. So, no big pearls of wisdom from me (again. sorry!) on how to be more self-disciplined, but I will offer some things that can be done to deal with stress and anxiety that others have suggested, and some of which I will try to do for myself.

First…here’s a chart to help:

50 Ways To Cope With Stress

But for me…these:

  1. When you feel the stress/anxiety or frustration building, step out of the situation and take deep breaths…and count to 10. Repeat several times until you can recognize you are calmer.
  2. Realize you’re not perfect so stop expecting yourself to be (and others). Do what you can and be happy with the results. Try.
  3. Exercise is a great way to deal with stress. Even if you do 10 minutes more movement a day, it will have a great effect on your well-being. But certainly, try to get at least 30 minutes a day.
  4. Eat healthy and get enough sleep. Filling yourself with junk is only going to make you feel like junk. And if you’re tired from lack of sleep, you’ll only feel that much more worse. If you’re able, try taking a short nap during the day when you’re feeling a bit more tired than usual.

And the two biggest ones that I have to deal with (besides all of the above) are being positive and putting the things that stress me out into perspective.

I’ll start with the perspective one first. As I can be sometimes – big shocker I know – a bit over-dramatic or in many cases, over-think a situation. I easily jump to conclusions, thinking about the “what-ifs” and just add even more stress and anxiety to myself. I am a huge “feeler”. I live on emotions – good or bad – and I can quite easily send my own into a tizzy faster than you can say, “But-” I’ve talked before about the emotional roller-coaster and I’m one of its regular riders. I wish I could say that I’ll change but I’m not sure how or even if, so I deal with it as it comes. And often not very well.

So it comes down to asking myself, “does this really matter?”  Is what I’m stressing about that big of a deal? Did I make it out to be a bigger deal than it really is? In the grand scheme of things, will this matter in an hour, tomorrow or next year? Most times, the answer is, of course, “no”. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that something stressed me. It’s just a matter of understanding that if it’s not as important as I made it out to be, I need to let it go (and quickly)…because life is too short to dwell in shit that doesn’t matter. Right?

And then there’s being “positive”. I’ve been trying to do this for so long. Invariably, it doesn’t last. I get sucked into the “pity party for one” vortex (by myself) and the next thing I know, I’m Chicken Little and the sky is falling. I hate that I can’t just be positive all the time. I know people that really seem to be. And I do hope that they really, truly are and that they aren’t “faking” it. And I really hate that I forget just how blessed I am. Too often I forget and need to be reminded. Nothing is wrong with that, per se, but I think people who are genuinely more positive more often, are the happiest.

When I said I live on emotions, I also meant that I take things personally. I don’t like when people don’t like me. I want people to love me. I want people to want to be my friend. So I take it personally when they don’t. Yet at the same time, while I know I shouldn’t live to please anyone but myself, I’m not wired that way. I tend to care more for others than myself.

And I’ve been told before that this is wrong. Yet, that’s what I am. That’s what I do. I spend a lot of time trying to help people I care about in different ways. I don’t always do it as often as I wish and sometimes that makes me feel guilty, and often, selfish. Which I know is absurd, but alas…we’re talking about me here.

So, for example, my birthday was recently. Without sounding egotistical, I did expect to see some Happy Birthday wishes on my Facebook. And I did. And I want to say before anything else, I was grateful for each and every one of them because it meant that those people took the time out of their busy/hectic/stressful/happy lives to send me their best wishes. While it might have only taken them 10 seconds to do so – I appreciated it more than they could know. Then there were those who wrote me longer messages, and those were so appreciated as well.

But the “feelings” part of me…as ridiculous as this might sound, was disappointed somewhat that some people – some “friends” – didn’t say anything. No acknowledgement at all. Yet, I know they were on Facebook because I saw their posts, their comments to others’ posts etc. And I felt a little hurt. Then I felt foolish for feeling that way.

I don’t have friends because I expect something from them. And I do try to do my best to give some attention to everyone, but in all honestly, more so to those I feel closer to. And yet, just as when I lost my beautiful Ginny last month, or announced I was moving back home to Canada…my birthday passing with none of those three somewhat life-changing events being recognized by some, it felt…hurtful.

On top of that, many who did send me best wishes…some were from people that I’ve only just met (and most not yet in person), and they were more than kind. In some cases, those people acknowledged all three of those life events, yet as I said, there were some that I expected to hear from (or hoped) and got nothing. After the loss of Ginny and that happened, I told my therapist that I guess I have to realize that some people might be more selfish than others.

Now I’m sure there are many reasons they didn’t “say” anything. Maybe they didn’t see the many posts from others about my birthday, or Ginny passing, because they have many Facebook friends. Or maybe, just maybe, they don’t consider me to be a friend at the same level of friend that I do of them. I considered this and realized that if that’s the case, there’s nothing I can do about it and I have to accept it and move on.

So, one of the many things I need to learn, which adds in my stress levels, is that not everyone is going to see my worth. I have difficulty with this for myself, but I stress as much as I can to others that I care about, how much they are worth. To me. And to others. And maybe my expectations of others is too high. Or maybe because of my self-esteem issues that I feel this need to have as many people like me as I possibly can because it’s the only way I can feel worthy.

But how can I expect others to see my worth, if I don’t see it in myself?

And that there is the rub.

I posted this today on Facebook with the caption “Man, I wish I could just let it go. Not sure why it’s so important that I even care. But I do.”

Worth

And I do care. Probably far too much. About everything. About wanting to be liked, loved, admired, and seen as a great person. And some people will never see that in me; never feel that about me. And I have to learn to accept that. And to not care.

The absolute funniest (ie: ridiculous) part about that is that I am well loved by a very close knit group of people that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, and I’m eternally grateful for each and everyone one of them…but my own feelings about myself won’t allowed me to say “that’s all you need” so I get emotional when someone might not like or love me back.

I’m suddenly hearing Barbra Streisand’s “Feelings” in my head. Grief. I’m losing it! I don’t even LIKE that song!

Till next time…

Blessings and love to all.

Dani

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you know Kate?

I know, and am friends with many people in the “entertainment” industry. Actors, actresses, directors, screenwriters, editors, producers, playwrights, singers, songwriters, bands, etc…

I also watch a lot of movies, some television and pretty much anything I can find on Netflix or Amazon Prime. If any of my friends are acting in, have written, produced or been involved in one way or another a project, I watch them and as often as I can, plug their projects.

I recently started watching This Is Us through my On Demand with my cable company. I’d never seen even a bit of it, had no idea what it was about, and I think at some point I actually wondered if it was like other ensemble television shows that I didn’t enjoy.

But I love it! I’m actually binge-watching several episodes each night to catch up to the new episodes that started back again last night. Now, I’m bringing all of this up not because I have ran out of weight-loss things to discuss…on the contrary. It is this show that has me wanting to write to you tonight.

If you have never seen the show, I encourage you – if you’re able – to give it a view. If you have seen it, especially if you really enjoy it, you’ll have a better understand of where I’m coming from with this post.

One of the main characters in this series is Kate (played by the stunning and talented Chrissy Metz). The other characters are wonderful as well – I’m especially fond of Randall – but it’s Kate that I resonate with the most.

This is Chrissy Metz. Stunning.

74th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

The reason it’s so significant is simply because there is a lack of characters like Kate on any show right now.  You see, Kate is obese. She’s not a little overweight, and I’m not exaggerating her size – Kate is obese.

Think about many of the shows you watch (even movies). How many have obese women on them? Probably not that many. Is that because obese women aren’t talented and can’t act? I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s likely for a couple of reasons. Much of society finds obese men and women to be unattractive and the networks, producers and such (most of them, not all), want to fill your television screens with attractive people. Is this because they think we’re all too sensitive and wouldn’t be able to handle seeing obese actors and actresses (and don’t get me started on the double-standard that men can be obese and it’s not seen as harshly than if it’s a woman)? Do they think that obese people cannot act? Is it unrealistic to expect that television serials based on “real life” characters would actually have some different shapes, sizes, colors etc?

Yes, there have seen some women of size on television. Melissa McCarthy comes to mind. What I find interesting is that her character – Molly – did the entire “I’m fat” things during the series: struggled with her weight, weightloss, joined a weight loss support group etc. Yes, that’s part of that “real life” I mentioned about but I’m also wondering why. Why does an over-weight character on a television show have to even address her size? or the struggles of a fat person?

I ask this because it seems to be a pigeon-hole for over-weight women on television series. Of course, that’s if there are any over-weight women on a television series. There really aren’t that many. But I digress…

Kate on This Is Us is obese and like those pigeon-hole items I mention above, she struggles with losing weight, getting healthy, dealing with self-esteem issues, and generally struggles every day with many of the things that I do. I felt an instant connection to Kate. From the first episode where she stands naked (save for her panties) and fights to step on the scale, I felt a kinship to her. I saw the back of her body. I saw her rolls of fat. I saw myself and my first thought was – my God but that actress is brave. And then I thought, thank you to the producers, writers, and everyone else on the show for bringing this character to us.

Four episodes in, Kate has already dealt with many things that I have. In one, she’s at a party, one she originally didn’t want to go because of her self-esteem issues. The man she’s just started to see – Toby – is a clown-and-a-half and he convinces her to go. And for a brief time (before the booze), she feels happy – until she “sees” people laughing at her, talking about her. Now it can be perceived that she is imagining it, or that people really are laughing and talking about her. But I get her. Man, do I get her.

Most times when I go out in public, if I’m alone, I am always imagining people are staring at me, talking about me…and can run through all the dialogue I think they are saying out loud or thinking. Am I imagining it completely? Sure, sometimes. I do, after all, have an over-active imagination. And I don’t really consider myself to be so important that I imagine that I’m the talk of the town. But there are time, I know – I’ve heard them – where people are talking rude about me and staring. So, at that moment in the episode – I felt it. I knew exactly what Kate was feeling and thinking.

I’ve said before that while many people can sympathize with me about the struggles of dealing with my weight, many cannot empathize. And as I’ve said before, if someone has to lose 20, 30 or even 50 pounds – their struggles are just as real as other’s are – but it’s also very hard for them to truly understand what it’s like to be this obese.

So while yes, Kate is a fictional character, the writers have written a very real person. A person that is showing others some of the struggles I face all the time – whether they be physical ones or mental ones. And while she won’t break down many stereotypes or prejudices against obese people, I’m hoping she will open some eyes to the fact that we’re not all lazy and fat, eat 25,000 calories a day and are unclean. The people that think like that – the people who think ugly things about anyone, whether they be obese, mentally challenged or any other physical challenges, or even just because they are bigoted and ignorant – those people rarely have their minds changed.

I don’t know where the writers will go with the character of Kate – but I do hope they continue to be honest and true to her character – her struggles and all. There are far too few “real” characters on television nowadays – she’s a breath of fresh air.

Sending peace, love and joy to all…

Dani

 

 

 

 

Mother Nature Can Suck It!

First…

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^^^ That’s for my being remiss (again) in not writing sooner.

No excuses, really. But if you are a writer, or know one, you’re probably aware that while most of us feel we need to be inspired to write, many of us struggle to do just that – even when we feel that we have nothing to say.

It’s been 2 months since I last write on this blog. To my utter surprise, the hits on here have not only been consistent despite my not providing any new posts, but they’ve increased! Typically for the first day or two after I post a new blog posting, the number of visitors it receives is high,then gradually it fades. I don’t have a huge following; in all honesty, it was never my intention to have a large following. Not because I felt no one would want to hear what I had to say, but more so because I’m not really a well known person and I’m not actively marketing this blog. And frankly I wasn’t even sure if anything I was writing would even be of interest to anyone. I’ve since learned that people are indeed interested and that makes me very appreciative, but also inspires and helps me on my journey all the more. In fact, many of the visitors of late have been from all over the world, including places where I don’t actually know anyway.

But I digress.

Today’s post is dedicated to someone we all know. Someone who some of you might love, or if you’re like me, mostly feel like this:

fuck

Now I’ve dealt with some bitches in my life but this one…I’d like to punch her right in her ovaries.

For as far back as I can remember, I have never done well with the heat and humidity of summer. My favorite season has always been, and still is, Fall (or Autumn depending on where you live). Most people I know, but not all, prefer the heat. Love to be out in the sun, roasting to a savory brown tan like the last Thanksgiving turkey. Me? I don’t tan. I go from one-shade-darker-than-an-Albino to burnt and back again. Sure, my arms will somewhat tan just simply from being in the car driving, but rarely, if ever, will you ever catch me actually out in the sun during the summer.

Think of me as your vampire friend Dani.

Let’s be clear. This isn’t about a little sweating. This isn’t about some frizzy hair due to the humidity. This is about me being physically sick – nauseated, sinus headaches, rashes from sweating no matter how many showers or how much powder I use. This is about being so fucking uncomfortable that I often feel like I’m losing my ever-loving mind.

And then there’s the weight gain.

Unlike most people who are more active in the summer and tend to lose weight, I am the opposite. I wish I could say that it’s just because I’m a stubborn bitch and I like to be rebellious, but alas, that isn’t it. Not at all. This also has nothing to be with my being Canadian. Contrary to popular belief, not all of Canada is a tundric ruin. In fact, where I come from (which incidentally is the only Canadian city SOUTH of a US one – look it up), they pretty much have the same weather that we get here in Ithaca. The only difference is the topography – Windsor being a epic flatland and Ithaca being a hilly nightmare (in the winter).

So I wish I could say that my childhood growing up in the “Great White North” was filled with cooler summers and ridiculously colder winters but I can’t. Sure, it got cold in the winters. It got to be what I like to call…brace yourselves…”snot freezing weather” but for as much as I often felt I was wearing tissue paper for pants…

I FELT ALIVE!

I am in my element in the cooler weather. Give me 45-65 degree weather all the time and I would be in Heaven. And as I said above, most people are more active and tend to lose weight in the summer…I don’t. I put it on. And put it on.

The heavier I start in the warmer months, most often the heavier I will get until the tides shift and we welcome in October. It’s then that I am more active; more pep in my step. And I start to lose the weight. During the summers, no matter how much water I drink, I swell up like a dead body the CSI team found in the lake – that had been there for 6 months or more. My hands, especially my fingers swell up to wear I can’t wear my rings. And they ache – my typing such as this blog, to even just flexing them to drive or any sort of movement.

I also having trouble with eating in the hot months. The idea of turning on the stove, oven or even using the BBQ gives me fits. But I also struggle with just being able to move around. To do the normal things around the house – cleaning, laundry etc. And forget about exercising.

And then there’s my feet/ankles.

If you’ve read this blog long enough you also know that I have foot pain nearly all the time. Unfortunately, running shoes are the only shoes I can wear that are supportive and that I can walk in. No flipflops for me. No pretty sandals that would show off pretty purple painted toenails. I don’t even wear shorts out in public because of how “deformed” I become (and because of the self-esteem issues). So no matter how uncomfortable I am due to the heat, I wear jeans and running shoes. When I am at home in the evening from work or on the weekends, I wear Orthoheel slip-on shoes. I can’t wear them outside because I cannot walk properly in them due to not always being aware of my feet due to the pain and numbness. I’m clumsy.

This is what my feet look like every night (dry skin aside and my apologies – I do not have pretty little feet):

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The darker red band is the normal size of my foot. The swollen part above it (below my toes) is the open part of the orthoheel shoes. Below that band is all the swelling to above my ankle. This is just from sitting. With no compressing, hot running shoes on. I don’t have A/C in my apartment; I can’t have A/C in my apartment.

Worse is in the past two weeks or so, the humidity in the air has had me having breathing issues. I used to get slightly winded walking up my walkway, up the road and down the driveway to my car. Now I am only half way up my walkway and I’m gasping for air. The moisture in the air is so thick sometimes, not only do I get huge headaches but as I said, lately I’ve been having trouble breathing. It became most noticeable to me when I realized that I wasn’t having that issue in my office or like last night at the mall – until I go outside.

I liken that I have a harder time with the heat because of my size. After all, I have a lot of fat (blubber) on my body which acts as an insulator. Think of a whale.

And I’m by no means being derogatory to myself. It’s a simple fact of biology. And unfortunately, while I wish I could just sit here and wallow alone aboard the self-pity train, I really don’t think I can wait until the Fall. I will never succeed in losing all the weight and getting healthy if I can’t get through the summers. I just can’t.

I certainly hope people understand now that when I complain about the heat that I’m not doing it just for the sake of whining about something; that it’s understood that it’s something that affects every part of my life – my body and my mind – my health and my everything. I have the tools and know what I need to do but the weather is messing me up – big time.

And believe me when I say that the fact that I have a hard time breathing in this humidity is scaring the ever-loving bejeezus out of me.

So starting tomorrow RIGHT NOW,  I’m renewing my determination to fight through this. To do everything I can to get back on track and succeed. I have to. I’m feeling lost in this gigantic dome of weather-related health issues and honestly, I’m scared. I don’t like feeling like I’m suffocating. I don’t like feeling so swollen that I can barely move. I don’t like feeling that I’m failing. And I really don’t like feeling like I’m dying.

So…

Fuck you Mother Nature!

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So here’s to another determined push to get through this and be successful. I could certainly use some words of encouragement from the masses on this one. I’m feeling so lost…

Thank you all,

Dani

The “masses” have spoken…

And by “masses”, I mean an enormous group of people.

And by “enormous group”, I mean a lot of people.

Okay, it was really just one person.

One person suggesting that she was “pretty sure” she wasn’t the only one waiting on a new blog entry. I don’t claim to be a wordsmith. Okay, maybe I do. But she didn’t sound very convincing. But given that I’d somewhat promised to not take so long between posts, and my last one was a month ago, I guess I deserve to only have one ardent “fan”. Er…reader.

Perhaps I have my first stalker!

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In any case, many posts ago I apologized for all of the future times that I would be remiss in posting in a timely manner so I will refrain from doing so again. We all know by now that I’m not fooling anybody. No matter how much I love to write, there are times I just don’t have anything to say.

Okay. You can stop with the laughing now. And don’t deny it; I can sense a disturbance in “the Force”.

So what, you might be asking yourself (or not) what I’ve been up the past month? I have to tell you, it hasn’t been an easy month and it does beg the question whether now was a good time to go off of the depression meds. But I felt it was time, and I also realize that 1) they were never that strong that they had that big of an affect on me and 2) they simply cannot stop every emotional “shit fit” I might have. They weren’t even strong enough to have dampened that down. Trust me. For the most part I’m convince I might as well have been sucking back aspirin.

I mentioned before in previous posts how hard this journey is. Some of you understand; others can only imagine. And if you’ve been reading this since the start, you also know that I’m upfront about my thoughts and feelings – warts and all – to some degree. That is, I’m not lying to anyone and I may leave some more personal stuff out, but the bottom line is that I have been struggling. There’s no easy answer for why. It just is. And I have to tell you, if you haven’t already guess from my previous posts, I don’t handle being “human” very well. That is, I don’t handle my mistakes very well.

I’m not a perfectionist. Far from it. But I have a degree of lunacy that is so ingrained in my mind that it’s actually harder for me to forgive myself when I make a mistake – or twelve – than it is to actually lose weight. I’ve been doing that yo-yo thing again and felt so disgusted with myself that I had to momentarily push some people away or hide it from those closest to me. I might have whined and bitched a bit but I didn’t have a full blown meltdown until a week ago. And I have to tell you. That feeling.

It sucked. It sucked harder than a Dyson.

I felt so helpless. But I also felt so ashamed. And sad. Frustrated. Angry. Alone. And then…

BOOM!

Around I went again. And again.

And it’s so very hard to be strong – to be the kind of strong that you HAVE to be to do this very hard thing (or any very hard thing) – so when you can’t be, you feel lost.

And I felt so lost. I felt so many things that I didn’t even know what to do. And it wasn’t just about my weight though that was a big part of it. Pressures from work have also been piling on. And I said this to my friends and family in my private Facebook group (the group is about my weight loss journey):

“I’m trying to not just be bitching and whining about everything because I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty sick of hearing me whine about something every time I mess up.”

The funny thing is that my group – that’s sort of what it’s there for. For me to express my feelings – good and bad – on my journey. To talk about my frustrations, my triumphs, the joys, the sorrows and the fuck-ups. Yet I sometimes feel guilty that I’m dumping on those family and friends. It’s then that I shut myself down, get quiet and suffer mostly in silence.

And you know what?

That’s just as messed up of a thought process as they come. Invariably I end up sabotaging myself and I find myself wondering if my friends and family aren’t rolling their eyes at me and thinking, “Holy shit, here she goes again!”

Maybe I’m right about that. Most likely I’m wrong. Most likely my over-active imagination and those damn hamsters are over-thinking it. But it’s hard. It’s really hard to express yourself without feeling you might be judged or worse yet, ignored. And that scares me because as I’ve said before, the importance of the support I receive from everyone cannot be minimalized or trivialized. If anything, it’s those times – when I’m feeling the worse about myself – that I need people that most.

Because I haven’t yet learned to treat myself well. To respect myself. To love myself.

When I have these setbacks, it’s so easy for me to use myself as the scapegoat. It’s absolutely easy. I want to stop it, I really do. And I really have to be honest when I say that I’m not sure I will ever get “there” until I give up the idea that I will not only make mistakes but I will make some mammoth ones. And it’ll still be okay.

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So until that time comes, I’m going to have “moments”. It’s during that time that I hope that people will still be there supporting me. And they know that no matter how I might feel about myself at any given moment, I will always be there for them.

Brandon told me once in my group: “I am proud. I said if one person got on board with me its all worth it. Thank you champ.”

And I feel the same way. I feel that if I can help even one person, even if for one specific thing or even as a continuous supporter of whatever their journey is – it’s worth it. So if my struggles help anyway, they make them all the more worthwhile and helps me to keep fighting. To keep going.

To keep on…keeping on.

So here’s your post my “masses”…er…Anne-Marie. Perhaps you’ll have to suggest that you’re “pretty sure” you’re not the only one waiting on a blog posting. I believe a fire has been lit…

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Blessings to all. Be back soon…

Mwahaha

Dani

Without a struggle, there can be no progress

Those famous words are part of a longer quote by Frederick Douglass. So as to not pull it out of its context, here is the full quote:

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In the end, the intent is still the same. One can’t expect progress, such as losing weight and getting healthy, without a struggle. Without trying. And in most cases, intense struggles. Even some “holy hell I’m never going to get through this” sort of struggles.

And there are times, just like with other instances in our lives, where something just seems to be impossible. That we won’t survive. But you know what? We do.

We survive.

I’ve had my share of some pretty awful things in my life. I remember many times when I though that things just couldn’t get any worse. Later, I’d realize they might have, but even if they did, I always survived.

Of course, as life goes, we know that not everyone believes they are strong enough to get through and they give up. On themselves. On their lives.

And that’s heartbreaking to me.

But for the rest of us, it’s that survival instinct that helps us. We learn from it. It makes us stronger. It proves to ourselves  (and others) that we are not broken. That we aren’t weak, or pathetic, or even useless. It is an enormous testament to the human heart; its drive to keep going, no matter how hard it gets.

And that’s sort of what it’s like to struggle to get healthy and lose weight when you’ve gotten so far out of control.

So while I might bitch and moan about how hard this is, I haven’t given up and I’ve kept going.

Et hoc transibit.

This too shall pass.

As with my many mood swings, I will have my good days and bad. I’ve been learning to not let the bad days take me so far out of the equation that I struggle to get back in. And with each passing day, the struggle – while never really ebbing – does somewhat feel easier. At least for that day. And you know what? That’s pretty great too.

Brandon Auret, whom I’ve mentioned often in other posts and is always so supportive (and it’s very appreciated!), always has the right thing to say to me that gets me going. That tells me to pull up my (literal) big girl panties and get to work. I sometimes feel like he’s the best kind of drill instructor. Imagine a deep, heavily-South African-accented voice telling you (and as I stated in my last post):

Hey chill shit happens we human. Ok!!!
Keep on ……..

To which I reply …keeping on.  And I do. I keep going. I keep on…keeping on. It’s become my motto of sorts. I could also hear him saying:

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But that’s not to say that the things that others have said to me have meant less, or have impacting me less. Every supportive comment is felt deeply and taken to heart. Even those that seem a bit scolding, like an unexpected spanking. It’s all good. It’s all chill.

The biggest take-away from all of it is that if this was easy, everyone would be doing it. And not everyone is. Do I wish it was easier? Sure. For the most part, I’m a bit lazy. But I’ve also learned throughout my life that if you really want something. REALLY want something. You work for it. You work hard for it. Or it’s not worth having.

So as I continue to struggle, I’m finding that my struggles, in part, are helping others. To keep going. To not give up.

To keep on…keeping on.

If I can help someone do that, well, it makes my struggles all the more important to me. And all the more worth every ounce of pain, frustration, heartbreak and heartache I go through. Because I also know that I’m not alone.

I’m never alone.

Blessings to you all.

Love,

Dani

Keep on…keeping on.

Wow. I am actually shocked to find that I started this blog posting 27 days ago. I am so very sorry that I’m not very consistent with keeping up with the posts. There seems to be an ebb and flow with me on just about everything I do – or try to do. So I do hope that I haven’t lost your interests in reading anything I have to say.

I also feel that if I blog all the time that you’ll be bored with it. Not to mention that I don’t want my posts to feel rushed or to be just “filler”. I want them to actually be productive. To mean something – both you myself and to you, my good people. So maybe I write shorter posts but more often, instead of just super-long ones every few weeks.

I wish I could say that I have a process down. I don’t. I wish I could tell you that I would or even could make more frequent shorter posts. But we all know that I’m not succinct. I apparently don’t even know what that word means most of the time.

I guess that means I was destined to be a writer.

But I will endeavor (no promises) to be more consistent and check in more often than I have of late.

So…

What do you do when your inspiration begins to wane? How do you keep up the motivation?

I shouldn’t have to rely on other people’s support in order to keep going but I’m finding that my attitude, inspiration and motivation all seem to be at levels in great proportion to the support and inspiration I receive. If it tapers off, I somewhat do as well.

And that scares me.

People’s interests change. As does their attitude. They also have their own lives.

I hate that I have to rely on others to be successful, especially for those very reasons but as I said in one of my very first posts – I need YOU!

I am struggling of late. My motivation is lacking. I can’t explain why really. What specifically it is that is making me less enthusiastic? What causes this ebb and flow of my feelings?

I can’t explain it. And I hate that.

I’m proud of how far I’ve come so far, sure. I’m happy I haven’t given up. You bet. But there are times when I just feel…

Meh.

That’s the best word that comes to mind. And I hate it. I hate it because I feel like I’m letting myself down, and you all down. And why can’t I just always feel motivated? The support I have received hasn’t gone away; it just ebbs and flows, causing my moods to do so as well.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming anyone for those ebbs and flows. As I said, you have your own lives. And I shouldn’t have to rely on anyone else to keep going on this journey. To keep fighting. To not give up.

But I’d be lying to myself if I said that I didn’t need you. Didn’t need that support. Because after all these weeks and months – it’s painfully obvious that I do.

So I will make mistakes. I will falter. But I won’t give up. And I won’t stop trying.

We human. Shit happens. Keep on…keeping on.

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And chill.

Till we meet again. Hopefully soon.

Be kind. Be gentle. Be loved. Be safe.

Love,

Dani

Is this an “Against All Odds” scenario?

While I am (finally) bound and determined to succeed at losing weight AND keeping it off, I’m sure that many other obese people have had some of the same thoughts as me in the past.

Why bother? Is it worth it? Can I really do it? Can I keep it off?

Is it an “Against All Odds” scenario?

That is, for all the effort that is spent in losing all this weight, will it all be for naught?

A Canadian publication¹ posted by the NIH which discusses the common misconceptions about obesity suggests that “approximately two-thirds of people who lose weight will regain it within 1 year, and almost all of them will regain it within 5 years.” As well, it states “Rather than a simple lack of willpower, the relapse of most individuals to their previous weight after otherwise successful weight loss is largely driven by the coordinated actions of metabolic, neuroendocrine, autonomic, and behavioural changes that oppose the maintenance of reduced body weight. The few individuals successful at maintaining weight loss (at least 13.6 kg for at least 1 year) generally have common behaviour and strategies that include consuming low-energy, low-fat diets; engaging in high levels of physical activity; consistent self-monitoring of body weight and food intake; eating breakfast regularly; and demonstrating a high level of dietary restraint.”

As I’ve stressed many times over the past 6 months, to me, what I’m doing is NOT a diet. It is a lifestyle change. I cannot possibly do any sort of short- or long-term dieting, drop the weight and expect it to not return. So my goal all the way along has been to (re)learn and (re)teach my body (and my mind) to eat healthier and to take care of myself.

While the idea of losing all this weight is daunting, it is the somewhat fear of trying to maintain it once it’s lost that is actually much more scarier. But as I’ve stated before, it is a concern I will address at that time (along with all of the excess skin I will undoubtedly have).

But it still can be said that it often seems to those of us dealing with obesity that we are trying to push a peanut up Everest with our noses. All of this hard work – is it for naught?

I do wonder if I’m going to be one of those “two-thirds” this article talks about. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t sit here and dwell upon it, but it does often come to the forefront that no matter how hard I work, in the end, it may have been a futile endeavor. Yet, I have enough to worry about in the “now” that I don’t need to worry about the potential future.

In the four weeks since I started with Maria (http://spoonoflife.com/home/), I have lost ELEVEN pounds and remarkably, several inches from both my waist and my hips. And I won’t lie and tell you it’s been easy because it hasn’t been. It’s been very hard. I went from being someone who rarely cooked and ordered in/out a lot, and rarely ate vegetables, to someone who eats veggies every day, several times a day. That’s not to say, however, that I’m enjoying it. But then again, I wasn’t expecting to.

I have never really enjoyed eating many foods. I am not, as I’ve stated before, a “foodie”. I don’t care about flavoring or presentation, or what the latest and greatest “super food” is. I eat only to fuel my body.

There are times in these past four weeks that I didn’t feel like eating. In the past, I would simply not eat. I have had to force myself to eat, even when I didn’t feel like it at all. And to be honest, I think I mentioned this before, I have grown somewhat tired of eating mostly veggies all the time.

Now I understand that under Maria’s plan that she has a set method to what I will eat and when, and I am on board with it, but if you know anything about me at all, you know that I’m going to bitch a bit about it. Because I went from someone who rarely ate veggies to eating them every day and several times a day, and I know that are doing my body good, but I get so bored of eating them. I wanted some variety. I wanted to be able to have more of a selection to eat. As someone who doesn’t like a lot of foods, it’s hard to not get bored with eating the same stuff all the time.

But like I said, I get that she has a plan for me and this is how it is.

So back to the topic at hand…

I want to believe that I’m not fighting a losing battle. That every hard step I take will all be worth it. That my sweat and many tears of frustration and angst won’t be for naught. That I will succeed. In the past I haven’t been very good with believing in myself. It’s so easy for me to look at myself in the mirror and already see failure – because I let myself get this big. And I shake my head at how stupid I have been.

But as my 50th birthday approaches in May, maybe I’m finally looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, “Fuck it! You’re still here. Get off your ass and do something about it!”

So I am.

So my goal is to be the “one-third” that does not only succeed in losing the weight, but will succeed in keeping it off. From now on, I will endeavor to work as hard as I can, to learn new habits and push the old ones aside. I will try to not dwell on the “what ifs” or “what might happen” and concentrate on the right now. And what I can do for myself at this time.

Thanks to Maria, my mom, my family and my many, many friends – all around the world – with all of their support, I’m going to be the “one-third”.

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As my buddy Brandon Auret says, “Keep On Keeping On”. And that’s exactly that I’m doing to do. Even when it gets to be so hard I want to give up…

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Blessings to all. Be safe. Be good. Be someone’s inspiration.

Love,

Dani

¹Widespread misconceptions about obesity Chaput et al. 2014 Can Fam Physician. 2014 Nov; 60(11): 973–975.    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4229150/

When IT finally hits you

I’m late with posting a new blog posting. Again. But since I already apologized in a previous post for all the times I would be lax in posting thereafter, I’ll move on…

This wasn’t even the posting that I had originally scheduled to post to this blog – it will come next. Because sometimes life moves really fast and things change and by the grace of God, not always in the wrong way.

After more struggling to lose weight, but more importantly, to get and stay motivated, I’m not sure what actually happened that made me want to say it was time to get drastic. It’s not like I haven’t had plenty of  opportunities during my adult life to make the change. It’s not like I didn’t have plenty of embarrassing or hurtful incidences that should have motivated me to make the change. So what changed?

Apparently I did. That is, my mindset. For all of the support I received and it fueled me greatly, it wasn’t enough. I knew that I needed to be the one to make the change. Myself. That no one could do it for me and that if I really wanted it, I would have to step up. I would have to switch it up. I’ve said that before and meant it, but it never stuck.

Until now.

So 9 days ago it happened. With no fanfare, no big boom and no divine intervention, I finally got a clue. It finally hit me. It was time to get drastic. It was time to fuel my desperation into action. It was time to let my inner beast go.

And Voila!

I had met a nice woman who is a certified Health and Life Coach through a mutual friend. Her name is Maria Riboli and her business is Spoon of Life. spoonoflife.com/home/

We talked and she thought she could help me.

So without even giving it much thought, I agreed to have her help me. I guess you could say that I went in blind. I, honestly, wasn’t sure if she could really help me but I was determined to try. And try hard. So we set up to Skype for 60 minutes on the 9th of February – she’s in New York City and I’m in Ithaca, New York.

We took 90 minutes.

But in that time she laid out only the first week’s plan for me. She said she only wanted us to concentrate on Week #1. It made completely sense. Often I was always worrying about the next week, the next month and it go to be very overwhelming, and eventually, somewhat dejecting. So we were going to concentrate only on Week #1.

Then the bomb dropped.

Now, for someone like me who is inherently lazy about many things, including cooking (I hate it), as she discussed all she wanted me to do or not do during Week #1, I have to admit, I got scared. Really scared.

Like, oh-my-fucking-goodness-I-am-going-to-fail scared. I’ve never been good at staying with something for very long. I talked about it before. Boredom sets in or I grow tired of it and poof – I’m done. Weight Watchers. Tracking my food intake. Watching calories, carbs and fat. Even just recording a food journal. Hell, even keeping up with this blog, no matter how much I love it, it sometimes hard for me to do.

Remember what goes on in my head:

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So her plan for Week #1 was, for lack of a better word, aggressive. Frighteningly so. I have never attempted anything so far out of my comfort zone in my life. It wasn’t a “diet”, she stressed that to me. This was a lifestyle change. And this plan was specialized for just me; it’s not meant for others to follow.

So in any case, when you’ve lived the life that I have up until that day, even just hearing about her plans put enough fear into me to make my hatred of spiders look ridiculously minor.hat did I fear?

Well, everything. Fear that I couldn’t do it, having failed so many times before on less aggressive plans. Fear that I was going to disappoint everyone – yet again – and now I had yet another person to potentially disappoint. Fear that it would be so hard that I would weaken and given in. All of it.

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you it was all a big awesome party for me. It wasn’t. It wasn’t even close. It is by far, save for dealing with my father’s death and my divorce, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It was, however, the hardest thing I’ve ever done about my health. Every day I woke up and wondered if I was going to fail that day. Every day.

But every day I talked myself down from the ledge and told myself to keep going. Told myself that I needed to do this for myself, no one else. And told myself that if it was so hard to do, it was worth doing and I was worth the effort. I had to tell myself this often throughout the day, particular in the first several.

A very sweet guy named Chris, who has worked (writer and director) with my “muse” Brandon posted a message on Facebook to me the other day after I told Brandon  (okay whined to Brandon) that I really needed a Brandon-Pick-Me-Up because I was struggling. Now what he said was reiterated to me in parts by others as well so I have to give everyone credit – they are wise words and I appreciate them. I hope Chris doesn’t mine my sharing his post:

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So when Chris posted this, I immediately felt better because everyone was agreeing on the same principle:

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And honest-to-God, I knew then that I was going to make it. I was going to do this because despite how hard it was, I was already doing it. I’d been doing it for three days already. I was halfway through Week #1 and I was doing it!

I also won’t lie and say it wasn’t without some huge physical and mental issues. I had headaches so bad the first 5 days I really thought I had my head in a vice and I was calling for the guillotine. I was momentarily disgruntled when I would weigh myself in the morning and the damn scale was going up, not down. I was, at times, feeling like I was starving even though I was eating 5 times a day and eating a lot.

I was moody. Really moody. Okay…I was a bitch. Not necessarily towards anyone  (and my profound apologies to anyone is I was – it wasn’t intentional), but just overall bitchiness. My emotions were playing havoc on my mindset. And there were times I thought I was losing it – my mind, not the weight.

And I went through moments when I, admittedly, did feel like I couldn’t keep going. My body wasn’t used to this drastic change. And it was rebelling. And it was hating me. And that’s okay. Because I knew what I was doing to it was something good, not bad. It would adjust; I would adjust.

So I kept fighting. And I had help. I had my friends and family behind me. Supporting me.

I did have some friends and family that, while they meant well, out of fear for me and perhaps misunderstanding about what I was doing, did project some negative feelings and comments in response to my moments of bitching. I probably did not help the situation by not explaining more clearly what I was doing but it all became a bit of a mess with hurt feelings all around and whatnot. I’m sorry that happened, but I had to speak up to let everyone know that it was then that I needed them the most as support – not to question what I was doing.

And then it was all good.

So I’m here to say that if I can do this, anyone can. Too many years of not knowing what I was doing or doing it half-assed, I hope is behind me now.

It’s been 7 days and I feel good. But most of all I feel very proud of myself. And that hasn’t happened too often in my lifetime.

Seven pounds in seven days. That a lot of sack of potatoes or flour (see prior posting).

So thank you all again for your continued support and love. It means the world to me.

Minion-Clapping

 

Love,

Dani  xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Inspiration Train

When I started this blog, I did so for purely selfish reasons. I needed to record my journey to a healthier life through weightloss, and I needed the support of family and friends. Nothing has really changed; I still need that support. I think maybe I even need that support now more than when I started because in most cases, starting isn’t the hardest part, it’s keeping going. It’s finding the willpower to keep fighting. It’s trying to not lose faith in yourself when you have setbacks and to keep trying, no matter what.

It’s no secret that I suffer from some serious self-esteem issues. I think I always have, at least, since the weight started to pack on in my teens. Puberty hit me like a ton of lead and it never let up.

Even after meeting a guy and eventually marrying, I still never quite felt good about myself. I never felt attractive. I never felt comfortable. I was at my heaviest and he was an enabler. I’m not making excuses or even putting the blame on him – at least not for how big I was or my lack of getting healthy. We tried to diet together off and on over the years but I think I got complacent and figured that I had a husband so did I really need to take care of myself?

I didn’t see the issues. I didn’t see that my thinking was so very wrong. I didn’t see how unhappy I really was. I was sick often, stressing about this or that, while he never worried about anything. And through it all, I felt ugly. Undeserving. I never said a word about it to anyone. I didn’t even realize at the time that that was actually happening.

Then there were the little jabs. The subtle suggestions that because he had a PhD that he was smarter than me. I didn’t tie my sneakers the “correct” way. I waited to long after the light turned green to proceed. Well you get the picture.

It wasn’t until I found out he was having an affair that felt the full force of how awful I’d really felt for all those years. For all the self-esteem issues I had had, it never occurred to me to do anything about it. I settled for the status quo.

Until I was left at the curb like the garbage. Until I wasn’t even given an option to try to save my marriage even if I wanted to (I didn’t). That I was swapped out for another woman (15 years younger to boot) in less than 24 hours after walking from the house we’d shared. That he told her that he never really loved me.

It was then that I felt less than human. It was then that my self-esteem took a nose-dive. And I hated him for that. I hated him for what he did to me, sure. But I also really hated him for making me feel like the shit under his shoe. As if I’d done something wrong or been such a horrible person/wife that he couldn’t wait to replace me.

Through all the struggles afterwards, no matter how I felt inside, I held my head high and swore I wouldn’t stoop to his level. That I would behave like an adult, even if he was behaving like a love-struck 16 year old. And I did that. And I realized really quite quickly how miserable I had actually been. I realized that they did me a favor. I even joked that I should end them flowers as a thank-you.

But what I didn’t realize was that despite my stoic behavior, I was still so self-conscious of everything about me. Until last year when I hit the wall and declared that I couldn’t even stand to see my reflection in the window of a store, or staring back at me in the bathroom. I hated myself. I hated everything about myself.

I berated myself for my lack of willpower. For my lack of ability to lose the weight despite knowing what I needed to do. That I’d wasted so many years not doing anything about it before now. I would literally stare at myself in the mirror and tell myself what an awful person I was. I was fat, ugly and just simply disgusting. I felt all of that. In some ways, I still do. But I’ve gotten better. I have those moments now but they are few and far between. But I’ll be honest, that doesn’t mean that I like myself. And I certainly don’t love myself.

But I’m trying.

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It’s taking me a long time to finally feel like I deserve to be happy. That I deserve to experience the good things in life. That my life is something worth living.

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But the one thing that I have a hard time dealing with is compliments. I don’t care how close I am to the person or how honest I believe them to be, if they give me a compliment, it actually has the opposite effect on me. I feel as if they are lying; telling me something they think I want to hear, and nothing could be farther from the truth.

While many people would bask in compliments that they are “beautiful”, I don’t. Because I don’t believe it. I don’t see it when I look in that mirror or see that reflection in the window. So to hear people say something such as that to me, while I might be completely wrong, it makes me feel like they are patronizing me more than being supportive. Even in those times when I’ve thrown a pity-party for myself and shared it, I told them that I didn’t want their sympathies or to give me compliments. Because I wasn’t fishing for them. I honestly never am. But many didn’t listen and did so anyway. And you know what happened? I got upset and took it out on myself.

Because I don’t believe it.

I’ve come a long way in the past year. I’m not to the point of accepting compliments or looking at myself and not seeing ugly. But given where I was, I have come far. Very far. And I may never be that person. I don’t know really.

But for all my lack of wanting compliments based on my looks, I will admit that not only am I okay with accepting praise and support relating to my weightloss journey, I seem to need it. I seem to thrive on it. I’m the girl in the corner hiding her face but wants everyone to notice me – but not for the same reasons as others likely would.

I’ve been writing this blog since September and I can clearly see the correlation between my feelings and attitude towards my success and my actual succeeding. It’s almost a bit pitiable really; the need for praise and accolades. Until I realize that it is that support that is what is keeping my feelings about myself – the negative ones – at bay. The kind words, the encouraging posts, those are that things that I want. That I need. They are the reason why after all this time I am still gun-ho to do this. To succeed.

Because I realize that those words are what make me feel worthy. Deserving. That people are taking time out of their busy lives to read my blog, to post me a compliment, to even suggest that I am inspiring them.

So after all this very long-winded post, that’s what this is about. Inspiring others.

It honestly never occurred to me when I started this that I would be inspiring anyone. Then I started to get messages from people saying that because of my attitude, because of my determination, they felt inspired and wanted to succeed too. That they were on the journey with me and I was helping THEM. And I tell you, that is a heady feeling.

Powerful.

Especially when it really wasn’t your intention to begin with.

To have someone tell you that you’ve inspired them…well that, in turn, inspired you right back. And more and more as the weeks go by, people are not only supporting me but they’re supporting each other. They are inspiring each other.

It’s The Inspiration Train.

And thank you all for jumping on board. Thank you for all of your continued and unwavering support, even when I lose sight of my abilities and goals. Thank you for inspiring me. But also thank you for letting me know that something I’m doing has inspired you as well.

A few small words of encouragement. A gentle smile and pat on the shoulder. A hug that says, “I’m with you.” A post that says, “I see you” or a PSA interview where you’re called “brave” and “inspiring”.  Those are the things that drive me. Those are the things that excite me and want me to not only keep going but to push harder.

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I’ll admit that I’m scared. I’m afraid that The Inspiration Train will slow down and I won’t have the fuel I need to keep going. I don’t know if that will happen, but it is my honest fear. But for now, I’m determined to ride this train till the end. And I really hope you’ll be there at the end waiting for me.

So do what you can to inspire someone today. You never know how much even the slightest gesture can change their whole world.

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Blessing to all for a safe and prosperous week.

Love,

Dani

 

Changing It Up

That old adage “change is good” is sometimes something that I dread. I get comfortable with something and I don’t want things to change. I fear it most times. The unknown is pretty scary. But lately as I’ve been thinking about this journey of mine to getting healthy and losing a lot of weight, I’ve come to the realization that I need to try a different path. Oh, the end result will be the same (I hope) but perhaps my choice of a route isn’t the best. At least not for me.

So it’s time to flip the switch.

Time to change it up. Get a new perspective. Take a new path. And maybe gain some new inspirations. Get it from anywhere you can and from anyone you can. If it comes from someone you admire because of their commitment, then by all means, grab it and gooooooooooooo. Run with it. Because if you’re like me and you struggle daily with your battles, then you take any inspiration you can in order to “feed” that beast called “Motivation”. And if you’re like me, despite struggle after struggle where you’re nearly constantly reminded of not only your failures but you question how it is that if you know what you need to do, you can’t just do it.

As you know, I’ve struggled with not only getting motivated but keeping motivated. No matter how bad an experience has been for me, and I’ve had some doozies, it boggles the mind how come those horrible experiences – let alone even one of them – haven’t been enough to push me over the edge. To get motivated. To push myself to give it my all.

I’ve said I’m tired before. I’ve said it often. And I don’t mean just mentally tired of all the battles that go on in that hamster-driven brain of mine. I also don’t mean just the physical tiredness that comes around from literally and figuratively dragging around this ridiculously large body. But I’m also just tired of days, weeks, months and years going by and I have nothing to show for all the “trying”.

I will not give up. But I want to stop trying. I want to succeed. Finally. I want to just stop being so tired.

This certainly is in no way meant to take away from all the other love, support, inspiration and devotion I’ve received from others. I’ve had so so many people inspire me. Not just strangers who I’ve read about who have been successful at their weight loss struggles, but my family and friends who have been a great inspiration to me in so many different ways. Whether it be their own struggles, their constant support of me through all the ups and especially the downs, but even their complete and utter faith in me – even when I had none in myself.

I’ve had and continue to have support from so many people that it blows my mind. And I’m grateful for every single one of them – every single one of you! So I’m not going to say that any one thing or any one person is the focus of my renewed sense of getting healthy because I’ve been spouting about it for some time now. New Year = New Dani.

And please believe me when I tell you that it’s that continued support from all of you that keeps me going. Gives me the drive to not give up. And now, to learn that sometimes you have to shake it up to get results. So thank you all for all that you do for me, no matter how little or insignificant you think your help might be. A kind word. A “way to go, Dani”. An “I’m proud of you!” Or even just telling me you love my blog and it’s inspiring to YOU.

But I would like to thank one person right now – who through his own journey  – has given me another spurt of inspiration, if you will. I’ve had the “I will not give up” mantra for some time, even when the days seemed the darkest, but as I said above, there are times when I forget that inspiration and/or motivation, and I need something to give me a jolt.

So I want to thank Brandon Auret. His “story” is far from mine but the principle is the same. Brandon is a talented South African actor and as such, many of his roles require him to have a certain look. And I don’t mean just his hair color or length, or facial hair or the like, but also in his physical body. Many of the roles Brandon does are physical ones where he’s playing a tough guy, so it requires him to alter his body.

So when he was preparing for his role of “Troy” in the upcoming feature film “Last Broken Darkness” (of which I’m totally SOOOOO excited for!) opposite Sean Cameron Michael (remember him?), Brandon took on a fitness/diet regime in order to get into shape for that character. While I didn’t really know him at that time, I suspect he did the same for his role of “Hippo” in last year’s movie release of “Chappie”, in which he really bulked up:

The way to a man's heart is through his Africa tattoo

Brandon Auret as “Hippo” in Chappie

A few days ago Brandon posted on Facebook that he was starting a new role in 9 weeks (still at present a secret) so he was going to be “cutting” for this role. I admittedly had to look up what that was. After all, you’ve all SEEN me so obviously I don’t have a clue what that means/entails.

So alrighty…

The idea was given to Brandon by Ross Learmonth. I’ve never mentioned Ross in this blog before but you’ve probably seen my tweets or FB posts about his band Prime Circle (of which Brandon was in their video called “Doors” directed by a friend Ryan Kruger – check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5Lz5LykdK4

Anyway, Ross suggested the Brandon post what he did to prepare for roles, besides learning lines. It’s an insightful way into how an actor prepares for roles certainly, but I think it also gives credence to how hard actors like Brandon work and makes you appreciate them all the more. And I have to give kudos to anyone who shows this kind of dedication in anything they do.

But I digress. Today (actually yesterday by now), Brandon posted his Day 1 schedule for working out and eating. And I have to say, bravo! It is impressive. And I’m not just blowing his horn. It’s not only extensive but for someone like me, it seems damn impossible. But more than that, it’s Brandon’s attitude and comments that made me really perk up and listen. And become inspired by him.

So I hope he doesn’t mind if I quote him a bit here:

So ‪#‎ROYL‬ it is.
Role
Of
Your
Life

The role of your life is the one you have now.

Make it count and be grateful.
Count your blessings and take nothing for granted.

Every time I get a job the minute a sign that contract.
I always close my eyes and say

‘Thank you for my talents’
I honor them with my performance.

That’s always step one.

 

CFOOgSSUEAAwdkO Brandon at the premiere of Chappie.

Now he may not even read this blog. And that’s okay. But one of the reasons I like Brandon is that he’s honest and true to himself. He speaks his mind (remind you of anyone?) and he’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes. So while I’ve told him several times over the past couple of days how much he’s inspiring me to try a new path to success, I don’t think he realizes or even believes just how much he’s affected me. How much he’s helped to inspire me to keep going and keep trying – including to switch it up.

And that’s a shame.

So I’ve already gone through my cupboards and put many things I shouldn’t eat in a box to give away to the people in my office. I’ve dumped out the remainder of the Pepsi I had in my fridge. I’ve weighed myself (see note below), measured myself and made a list of foods to eat this week, as well as exercises I can do, including going with Kimmy to her apartment complex gym sometimes this week.

Oh and incidentally, with that weight gain before Christmas because of stress, and having not gained or lost any during the holidays, I am happy to say that I’m starting this week with a TWO pound loss! Woot!

The need and desire to be successful must come from within me, I know this, but it seems so much more achievable when you can tap into the determination and inspiration of others. And that’s what people like you all do for me: my mom Phyllis, Anne-Marie, Glenda, Kimmy, Michelle, Paula, Ivana, Darlene, Beth (so very proud of you and how far you’ve come in a year!!), Annette, Susan, Suzanne, Stelio, Sean, Marijan, Bindee, Sommer, Jeni, Barbara, Brandon and so many others…what you all give to me. Even when you’re not even aware of it.

So as I write this, it’s now after Midnight Sunday night. And by the time I’m settled into my bed, Brandon will have started his crazy tough but fantastic 9 week plan, since he’s 7 hours ahead of me in South Africa. And likely he’s already up as I finish up this blog.

 

And wishing him “good luck” almost seems superfluous. Because with Brandon, it really is some kind of an amazing plan. One that frankly would scare a noob like me to death. But with Brandon, it’s not a question of “if” he meets his goals, because he will. And while it won’t necessarily be easy for him to do it, he seems to show no fear in even the idea of this plan – because he’s done it before. And that’s inspiring!

So I’m just going to wish him a GREAT journey and thank him again for his part in adding to my BFI (my baggie full of inspiration).

Bring it home, Hippo!

Love and blessings to all. Whatever struggles you might have, I wish them gone. Be safe. Be happy. Be YOU!

Dani