I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
The Search Within….
Five months ago I decided to take on my food addiction. As daunting at the task appeared, I knew that in order to make myself healthy and live a better life, I had to conquer the addiction that has ruled my brain and my life for so many years. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this, as I had been a “big” girl for over 20 years; actually I don’t ever remember being totally happy with my weight. I have dieted and tried many times throughout my adult life to lose the extra pounds, only to turn around and find them again. Every single time I dropped 10, 20, 30 or more pounds, I would somehow manage to gain it all back, and sometimes more. It wasn’t until October 2010, when I was told that I more than likely had cervical cancer I decided to do something about it. In the week following my “pre”-diagnosis, I went to a dark place in my mind and prepared myself for the worse. I remember sitting in my classroom during nap time thinking about how bad I would look when I lost my hair from the cancer treatments. (Anyone who knows me knows I am pretty attached to my hair.) I remember thinking about my own funeral and even thought about my husband being alone and hoping he would re-marry someday and be happy. He deserves to be happy. And the thought of my children living without a mother was the saddest, scariest thought of all. They need me, although there are times they do not think they do, they really need their momma. After sitting on my pity pot for about a week, I had an experience with a prayer group that changed my life. Without going into great detail, let me say that when I left the church the morning of my biopsy, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to be alright. And indeed, a week later I received word from my doctor that not only was there absolutely no cancer in my body, whatever had been there before was gone. Then it hit me…sometime during the week before my biopsy I had made a promise to God. Of course, we all tend to say things and make deals when we are desperate, but this time I knew I had been given a second chance and that I had to make good on my promise. I had promised God that if I was okay, I would take better care of myself and I would get rid of the extra weight on my body that was hurting me both physically and emotionally. So there I was, healthy and somehow going to work on keeping that promise.
Knowing that it was not going to be easy, I decided that I would not take on this task all at once. I would need a game plan on what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. I have shared before that I belong to a 12 step recovery group and have been focusing on my “issues” for almost two years. Feeling that I was strong enough to begin the work on my physical self, I decided to begin by working on my food addiction. My recovery group leader gave me a small green notebook to begin to write down my food intake. For whatever reason that was not working for me. I could not make myself write down on paper what I had eaten. I was watching what I was eating and I was making wise food choices, I just could not write it down. Then one day my husband came home from a conference and handed me an ipad. His company gave each manager at the conference one and he had no “use” for it. Lucky me. As I was playing around with it and searching free “apps”, I came across one for a calorie/fitness counter. Curious I downloaded it and stumbled upon my new electronic best friend. This little electronic tool has given me the ability to track my food, exercise (yes, I said exercise) and water intake with very little effort…or has it? What is different about plugging in the information electronically or writing it down in my little green notebook? That ipad app did not give me any special power over my addiction; however, I am able to track my progress without hesitation.
After getting a grip on my eating habits and keeping track of all of my “stuff”, I decided it was time to put this body in motion. Just the thought of exercising would make me break out in a sweat, so how in the world was I going to do this. A friend suggested that I start off by walking. Have I mentioned that I am not a big fan of sweating? And walking outside where people could see me sweat, well that was not something I looked at as being a pleasurable experience either. Then one day out of the blue I had the opportunity to purchase a gently used treadmill. And so the exercise experience began. At first I could barely breathe after a few minutes. Each day I would force myself to step up to the task, hit the start button and endure thirty minutes of pure torture. Each day I noticed that it was getting a little easier. Instead of staying comfortable at the same walking rate and speed, I decided to increase my walking speed. And to my surprise, I was able to do it. It has been six weeks since I first stepped on my trusty treadmill and I’ve gone from walking .75 of a mile in thirty minutes to 1.60 miles in thirty minutes. I’m even running part of the way. I no longer look at my treadmill time as torture; I view it more an opportunity to improve my physical self and take a break from the outside world.
What has given me the strength and ability to find success in conquering my food addiction and weight issues? Is it the electronic food tracker? Is it the treadmill? No. The driving force behind my success is me. It has been me all along. These are my issues and I am the only one who can conquer them. But why is it that in the past I have not been able to achieve success? I’ve pondered that question for a very long time, and ironically I found the answer within myself while walking on the treadmill. You see, every time I declared I was going to shed the extra pounds and get healthier, I was not ready. I knew I needed it, but I was not ready to really do anything about it. I have a friend who has been clean and sober for over 15 years. She tells her story of the first time she attended Alcoholics Anonymous. She was able to stay clean and sober for a long time, but eventually went back to her old ways. She says that she went to AA because she knew she had to. The second time she went to AA she not only knew she needed to but this time she wanted to and that was the difference. She wanted it bad enough that she decided to make a conscious effort to get better and she did. It was not until I was faced with the possibility of having cancer did I realize that I needed and wanted to change myself inside and out. I had been working on the inside for two years, and now I wanted to work on the outside. As a result, I have lost 27 pounds to date and continue to feel better every day. And as an added bonus, I think I look better too.
Everyone has something in their life that has a hold on them either physically, mentally or spiritually. It is how we choose to deal with makes the difference in success or failure. If we want something bad enough, we will find a way that suits our lifestyle and abilities to overcome that hold. We have the ability to overcome within ourselves; we just have to take the time to search for it. Remember the movie The Wizard of Oz? Everyone was searching for something they did not think they possessed, when in reality it was within them all along. Each character was so focused on what was “wrong” with them or what they were “missing” that they could not see what was there all along. Sometimes, we need to put the chaos of this thing we call life on hold for a while to find what we think we are missing. It is then we will realize it is not really missing at all…unless it is like the 27 pounds I have lost and trust me, I am happy that they are missing and I am looking forward to missing quite a few more. Reach within yourselves and you will find the strength, courage and ability to become the best you that you can be. For me, I know that I am a work in progress and while I have no idea when I will reach my weight loss goal, I know that in time I will have complete success because the power to succeed is within me and has been all along.