Still climbing back up on the wagon and other Lenten reflections

The season of Lent is the 40-day period (excluding Sundays) preceding Easter. Traditionally in the church it was a time when new converts practiced spiritual disciplines in preparation for baptism on Easter. A focus during this season is repentance – turning away from sin and those things that have power over us or stand in the way of our relationship with God. During Lent this year I am doing a sermon series titled “Journey of Stones” and each week members of my congregation are encouraged to place a stone at the foot of the cross. The stones represent our sins and failures and their placement symbolizes a “letting go” of those things. Last week, while I was preparing for the Ash Wednesday service at Oak Chapel (Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent), God and I had a long and serious conversation about many things, but particularly about my weight and my need to let go of my failures and my criticism of myself. I have had additional encounters with the Holy since then, including a very powerful dream (yeah, I know that sounds weird) that I am still processing. God is definitely working on me to let go of the past and move forward.

Over the last few weeks as I have been trying to climb back on the wagon of my weight loss journey, I’ve gotten discouraged when I logged onto the Weight Watcher site to track my weight. Just looking at the charts and visuals was depressing. My mind would race comparing the number of pounds I lost and gained since starting Weight Watchers in June 2012 with the number of pounds I lost and gained since attempting to get back on the wagon. I was spinning my wheels, digging further into a hole and not moving forward.

At the conclusion of my sermon yesterday when I placed my stone at the foot of the cross, I was nearly overcome with emotion at the idea of “letting go” and getting a fresh start. I realized I needed to completely start over with this weight loss journey. So today I logged onto the Weight Watcher site and reset everything. The records of my previous losses and gains are gone. We’re starting with zero and my “favorite number” this Friday will presumably be a low, single-digit number.

In anticipation of today’s actions, I woke up singing this morning. (Yes, once again, I know that sounds weird). I sang “This is a day of new beginnings, time to remember and move on, time to believe what love is bringing, laying to rest the pain that’s gone.”

Until next time, peace …

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Ouch!

Anyone who has seen me lately knows that I’ve gained weight. It’s pretty obvious. It’s not something I can physically hide. Emotionally, you ask? Sure, I can hide that way. I’m good at that. If I don’t talk about an issue or write about it, then it simply doesn’t exist. J Unfortunately, though, one can only hide for so long. So here we are … It’s been four months since I have written about my weight loss journey. At that time I admitted I had gained weight over the summer and I was going to try to rectify the situation. It sounded good. Really, it did. But here we are in that same place again …

I fell off the wagon. Hard.

While chatting with a very dear friend about my weight this week, she asked me, “Have you ever fallen off a real hay wagon? It hurts!” Indeed falling off the wagon – literally and figuratively – hurts! My weight gain over these last several months has bruised me and left me feeling pretty banged up emotionally. Those nasty voices in my head that had been nearly silenced by my weight loss success began to murmur, and the volume of their grumblings has increased steadily and proportionally with my weight gain. I’m embarrassed and at times, when I listen to those voices, I feel like a failure. I’ve wanted to hide and not talk about it or write about it. Ignore it. Pretend it doesn’t exist. But that method of “coping” hasn’t gotten me very far.

When I reflect back on my weight loss last year, I think part of my success was that I made it so public. I had public accountability as I posted my “new favorite number” on facebook each week and blogged about my relationship with food and its challenges. There was certainly a risk in being so public. People were watching – both the successes and the setbacks.

So I’m back to writing about this –not just for accountability purposes, but also as a matter of personal integrity. If I claim to be a transparent leader, then I need to share not only my successes, but my challenges as well. Not necessarily all of the gory details about those challenges, but I need to ADMIT that they’re there. There were times during the height of my weight loss success that some of my facebook friends shared their weight loss struggles with me. To honor their honesty, I need to be honest, too. There were others who said I was an inspiration … and to honor them, I need to admit that I’ve fallen off the wagon. Of course, I’m not doing this for others. If that is my sole reason for doing it, then it won’t work. I’m doing it for me – because I want to be healthy, I need to be healthy, and I need to care for myself as much as I care for other people.

When one has fallen and is hurt, banged up and bruised, standing and climbing onto the wagon can be a challenge. Sometimes one needs a helping hand or a boost to get back up there again. I’m grateful for that boost from friends and family.

So, to keep it honest, here are the numbers. I’ve gained back 49 of the 90 pounds I lost. Ouch! BUT … I’m still 41 pounds healthier than I was when I started this journey. 41. Yep, that’s my new favorite number.

Until next time (soon … NOT four months from now!), peace …

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Second Chances

This is a difficult post to write, but write it I must. It’s a matter of honesty and integrity. It’s a matter of openness and transparency; a coming out of hiding. Over the last few months my weight loss journey has been challenged … or stalled … or stopped. Well, actually, it hasn’t been a weight LOSS journey at all. It’s been a weight GAIN journey. After several months of the weight coming off relatively easily, in the Spring after my hysterectomy I hit a plateau. I struggled, week after week, faithfully tracking my food intake, walking every day, but not seeing the scale budge very much. I finally hit my 90-pound goal in May, but in the few weeks following that, my weight yo-yoed, gaining 2 pounds, losing a pound, gaining a pound and so forth. Frustrated, I decided to take a break. I told myself and everyone around me that this was just a break. I was feeling good and rewarding myself for my hard work by taking some well-deserved time off from the discipline of tracking. I was giving my body a rest; time to adjust to all the changes it had endured in the last year. I creatively crafted and spun that story in a variety of ways, but to be blunt, I simply gave up. I didn’t realize it at the time … or perhaps I just didn’t want to ADMIT it at the time, but I gave up. And it’s had disastrous results. I could lie to myself and the people around me for a time, but the popping buttons on my pants and shirts would eventually spill their guts, quite literally.

Over the summer I knew that I was gaining weight. I was eating poorly. The stress surrounding the closing of one of the churches I serve gave me permission to eat all manner of things that I wouldn’t have dared eat in the preceding months. I told myself that I would get back on track this Fall. Since yesterday was the first full day of Autumn, I knew it was time. Yesterday was also my birthday and I realized that if I want to celebrate many more of these, I simply HAD to get back on track. So this morning I stood on the scale. The moment of truth. The day of reckoning. Name it whatever idiom or cliché you choose. It was time to face reality. I stared at the number for quite some time and then I walked away, attempting to block it from my mind. I did a variety of other tasks, and vacillated between berating myself and trying to spin another story. I even considered trying to determine a more acceptable number to enter on my weight tracker. And then I cried. I cried over the weight I’d gained and I cried over the fact that I am still healthier than when I started this journey. I cried for the ways in which I felt like a failure and a disappointment to the people who have supported me and I cried for the internal critic whose wounds are exposed through harsh language. I cried for the ways I extend love and mercy to others, yet have difficulty accepting it myself and I cried at the realization that even in the midst of this struggle, God is at work within me, still calling me into being and transforming me into my full created potential.

Then I took a deep breath and plunged forward, entering into my weight tracker that number on the scale. It was 21 pounds higher than my last entry in June and 29 pounds higher than that beautiful May day when I celebrated 90. And so I begin again, grateful for second chances, claiming my new favorite number – 61.

Until next time, peace …

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Anniversary Celebration!

Today is my one-year Weight Watcher anniversary. Though I have not written updates lately, a few weeks ago I hit my next goal – 90 pounds! Of course, the following week I gained a pound, then lost that pound, then gained a pound, etc. So I am still at a bit of a plateau. But 90 pounds in a year is nothing to sneeze at! And I am healthier than I have been since I graduated from college – both my eating and activity levels are MUCH healthier than they were even when I was in high school or college. I’ve been walking each day – usually at least 2 miles – and I feel good! So hanging around at this 90-pound plateau is OK!

Today the youth group at Oak Chapel UMC is traveling to Cedar Point and Youth Annual Conference at Lakeside and I am excited to be going with them. Can you think of a better way to celebrate the anniversary of my renewed health and vitality than spending the day with a wonderful group of teenagers riding roller coasters? This weight loss journey has been like a roller coaster, but I’d get back in line and do it all over again. What a thrill! Thanks for riding with me.

Well, I must go now. Don’t want to be late meeting the youth! Until next time, peace …

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Plateaus and other frustrating challenges

The last few weeks have been the most challenging since I started this weight loss journey ten and a half months ago. I didn’t make my “90 by Easter” goal and have been hovering between an 86 and 88 pound loss for the last six weeks. While I try to focus on the positive aspects of this journey and take pride in what I have accomplished, I cannot deny my disappointment. Part of me recognizes that my body has gone through some significant changes through both the weight loss and my recent surgery, and this plateau is my body’s way of trying to regain some sense of equilibrium. Plateaus are a very natural part of this process. I know that on a cognitive level, but on an emotional level, I’m frustrated.

My frustration has manifested itself in some poor eating choices over the last few weeks. There have been days when I did not track my food intake and at times, I have found myself eating mindlessly and reverting back to some old habits. I’m not proud of this fact, but must be honest about it – here in this public forum, but even more importantly, with myself.

Writing is an important reflection tool for me; it keeps me honest. Through writing I learn a lot about myself and my interactions with the world around me. I have not written much over the last few weeks and I think my lack of discipline in writing has had a direct affect on my eating and could easily seep into other areas of my life as well. This blog post is an attempt to remedy the situation. Since writing keeps me honest with myself and others, I am recommitting myself to the discipline of regular blogging as well as daily food tracking and walking.

I know this plateau is just a minor blip. I have come a long way and I will lose even more weight … eventually. Until then, I will continue to write and hold my before/after pictures in front of me as a source of motivation and encouragement to continue the journey.

Until next time, peace …

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A resurrection story

I completed the Endometriosis Awareness Virtual 5K today. Though a bit chilly, it was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun shone as brightly as my yellow endo shirt. I drove into town and parked at the Wooster Library. From there, I traveled North on Grant Street to Bowman Street. Then I went East on Bowman to Beall Avenue, then South on Beall Avenue to Liberty, then West on Liberty back to Grant Street. My second loop through town was shorter, walking East on Larwill Street instead of Bowman. I completed the 5K (3.1 miles) in 1 hour, 21 minutes. I didn’t walk fast, but kept a steady pace. During my walk I had several text messages from friends offering encouragement. Yesterday a friend told me about a fun app called Voxer that makes one’s phone like a walkie talkie. I downloaded it and was grateful to hear this friend’s cheers in real-time throughout my walk. At the completion of my walk, this friend met me for lunch at Matsos, our local Greek restaurant, where I enjoyed a yummy Greek salad and spinach pie.

Participation on this walk today holds significant meaning for me. As one who has suffered with this disease for 27 years, I am grateful for the platform in which to raise awareness. Far too many women suffer in silence and it is important for them to know that this pain is not normal; that it is not “just part of being a woman,” as many, including doctors, will tell them. More than my own experience with this disease, though, today’s walk was about health and wholeness. Nine months and 87 pounds ago, it would have been inconceivable for me to even consider such a walk. In fact, even as I think about it now, it is hard for me to believe that I actually did it. Yet I did it!

Tomorrow begins the holiest of weeks in the Christian year – a time when we consider the expectations of the crowds cheering Jesus on Palm Sunday, the dark days leading to his death on Good Friday, and the hope of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. As I consider my own journey during the last several months and my participation in today’s walk, it, too, is a resurrection story. God is continuously at work in our lives, transforming our pain and brokenness, moving us toward our fullest created potential. In the week ahead, may you not only remember the Resurrection, but see signs of hope for your own resurrection story.

Until next time, peace …

I’m laughing here at the completion of my walk, holding the endo “fact cards” I created with yellow ribbons attached.


The back of the T-shirt I made (since the official walk shirt has not yet arrived).

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Walking to End Endo

I’m getting excited about participating in the Endometriosis Awareness Virtual 5K! This event was organized by a group who will be running together in Seattle tomorrow. People all across the country were invited to participate “virtually” in their own locations. Since registering about five weeks ago, I have been walking each day and I think I am ready! I mapped out my course through the streets of downtown Wooster and will begin around 11am. The event T-shirts were mailed earlier this week, but mine has not yet arrived. L What a disappointment! But not to be deterred, I went to the craft supply store this evening to purchase a yellow T-shirt, fabric pens, and embroidered butterfly appliqués. I also bought yellow ribbons and made pins to give to people I encounter along my route. Though my registration fee supports the Endometriosis Research Center, the event is not a fund-raiser. It is simply to raise awareness of this often debilitating disease that affects 1 in 10 women (176 million worldwide). Here are some basic facts:

  • Endometriosis occurs when tissue normally found in the uterus grows outside of the uterus and on other organs and structures in the body.
  • Its cause is unknown, though some theories include genetics, a faulty immune system, and/or the over-production of estrogen
  • Symptoms include very painful menstrual cramps, pelvic and lower back pain, intestinal pain, infertility and fatigue.
  • There is no cure. However, the disease can be treated with pain medications, hormone treatments, and surgery.

A fact sheet with more information can be found on the Department of Health and Human Services website at http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/endometriosis.pdf

I’ll post pictures from my walk tomorrow.

Until next time, peace …

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