My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Thank you

A year ago, I decided that in 2015, I would take on my biggest challenge ever – my first half marathon. And I knew from the beginning that I couldn’t do it alone.  Not only would I need a solid training plan, I would need lots of support from those around me. 

I wasn’t sure what others would say, so it took me awhile before I really started talking about it.  I mean, I told a few people, but not very many.  The people I did tell were very supportive.  As I became more comfortable with the idea, I started telling more people.  Honestly, I half expected at least one person to laugh or call me crazy.  But it never happened.  

In fact, quite the opposite.

The more I talked about it, the more people were supportive, offered encouragement, and became my cheerleaders. 

It was pretty awesome.

As my training progressed, people would ask how it was going and were genuinely interested in my progress.  They would read my blog; and like and comment on my Twitter and Facebook posts.

People would see me out running and would share kind and supportive words and gestures.  Sometimes they would stop me to chat; sometimes they would just shout from their cars; sometimes they would say something as they were walking or running by me.  Some people I knew, others were complete strangers.

To everyone who took the time to encourage me all the way, I want to say THANK YOU.  Thank you for believing in me; thank you for supporting me; thank you for listening to me when I needed to talk.

And really, that’s not enough. 

Those two words just don’t cover what your support means to me.

In those moments where I doubted myself, your words helped keep me going.

In those moments when I wasn’t sure I could take another step, you reminded me that I could.

And during the race when I didn’t know if I’d make it, your kindness guided me to the finish line.

You were with me every step of the way, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

There are a few people I want to mention by name:

To my friend Karen Walsh.  Thank you for your kindness, your friendship, and your support.  Thank you for offering your advice and knowledge.  Thank you for driving me to and from races.  Thank you for always being there to cheer me to the finish line.

To my friend Jeff Zaben.  Thank you for always making me laugh when I need it. Thank you for your unwavering support.  Thank you for being my cheerleader. Thank you for being my best friend.  Thank you for reminding me how strong I am when I feel like I’m not.  Thank you for knowing when I need a friend. Thank you for being you.

To my friend Nick Foley.  Thank you for teaching me to talk in absolutes.  Thank you for believing in me.  Thank you for your constant support.  Thank you for your friendship.  Thank you for showing me I can do anything I put my mind and heart into.

Thank you all for everything you’ve done for me, and continue to do. I’m a better person because of you. My world is a better place with you in it.

Thank you.


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Happy Thanksgiving! (2014)

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  It took me a while to get used to having it in October instead of November, as it is in the US.  But after living here for a little over 16 years, I’m used it.

The holiday is essential the same in both countries — You gather together family and/or friends.  You cook a big turkey dinner.  You eat a little too much (haha).

In Canada, it’s on a Monday in October.  (It’s the same day as Columbus Day in the US.)  In the US, it’s on a Thursday in November.

On both days, you can watch American football on TV.  You can also watch hockey on both days, at least this year.

What’s most important, though, is remember all you have to be thankful for.  While we should do this on a daily basis, Thanksgiving gives us an extra opportunity to do so.

And that’s why I decided to write this post.

 

I’m thankful for my wonderful family.  Even though we live far apart and don’t get to see each other very often, I love you all very much.

I’m thankful for my husband.  We’ve been through a lot in 16 years of marriage, but we got through it together.

I’m thankful for my 3 beautiful cats.  They bring such joy to my life, even though they sometimes drive me a little crazy.

I’m thankful that I volunteer with such an amazing organization as Celebrate the Hero.  It makes my soul happy.

I’m thankful to be a citizen of 2 great countries — Canada and the US.

I’m thankful to live in my beautiful town.

I’m thankful to be cancer free.

I’m thankful that I can run.  I may not be very fast, and I may not be able to run that far, but I can run.

I’m thankful to be on this journey to be a healthier person.  Even with all the ups and downs, twists and turns.

I’m thankful to all those who support me on my journey.  I can’t truly put into words how much it means to me.

I’m thankful to have an amazing group of friends.  I’m so lucky to have all of you in my life.  I hope I tell you often enough just how much you mean to me.

 

Those are just a few things I’m thankful for.  The list is in no way complete.  There is so much and so many people to be thankful for each day.  Make sure you take the time to appreciate all you have.  And tell those you love just how important they are to you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

 

 

 

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It’s been 2 years

2012 was a big year for me.  As it would turn out, a pivotal one in my journey.

I started going to the gym in January.  It was the first time in more than 20 years.  And the only thing I could really do was walk on the treadmill.

It was the first year of Quinte’s Biggest Loser.

I made some new friends that year.  Liz, Matt, Amy, Aidan, Andreas, Karen, and others.  All of whom have become important to me.

I started taking classes at the gym in March.  The first time ever.

2012 introduced me to a new genre of books, and I feel in love.  I don’t know why I never read fantasy books before, but at least I’m reading them now.  I’ve read books by Guy Gavriel Kay, Patrick Rothfuss, Daniel Abraham, and others.  Guy Gavriel Kay is now one of my favourite authors of all time, and some of his books are on my list of favourites of all time.

2012 brought me to the world of races in July.  I may have only walked my very first one, and I may have only done 1 that year, but I’m kind of hooked on them now.  And I hope I will just keep getting better at them.

2012 found me having the greatest success in my journey up to that point.  I had lost more weight than I ever had before.  I found strength I never knew I had.  I was feeling better than I ever had in my entire life.

2012 found me facing new challenges.

The gym I had joined at the beginning of the year was forced to close.  I had only been there 6 months.  I was devastated.  I wasn’t sure I would be comfortable anywhere else.  But I quickly found a new gym that I liked and was comfortable at.

For many years, I used food for comfort and for dealing with stress.  I had to find a new way to deal with that.  I did, although some days it’s still a struggle.

2012 is also the year I met Tyler, who would become an intricate part of my journey.

He was teaching the stretch class I started taking at the gym.  A couple weeks later, I added a second class he was teaching.  He was funny and a little goofy.  I was very nervous when I started the classes.  I couldn’t do a lot of the exercises, but I always tried.  Tyler made me feel very at ease, very comfortable.  I liked that.

I found out he was a personal trainer.  A few weeks after taking his classes, I asked him if he was taking new clients.  I was scared to ask.  Lucky for me, he said yes. We arranged a time to get together.

2 years ago today, we had our first workout together.

I remember thinking that I wasn’t sure how much he would be able to help me, but I knew I needed some help.

He changed my life in more ways that I ever thought possible.

He showed me I was capable of much more than I realized.

He helped me build confidence I didn’t know I had.

He helped open my eyes to a world I didn’t think I could be a part of.

And beyond being my trainer, he has become a very dear friend.

For all that and so much more, I thank him every day.

Thank you, Tyler, for everything … for all that I thanked you for last year, for all that you’ve done since, and for all you continue to do.  I’m lucky to have you in my life, both as my trainer and as my friend.

Happy Anniversary.

 

 

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Thankful challenge

At the beginning of November, I was challenged to post on my Facebook wall each day something that I’m thankful for.  I took up the challenge, and this is the result.  I hope you enjoy! I hope my post inspires you to be thankful for the blessings in your life.  Note: this is a long post (LOL)

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Day 1:

I’m thankful for my wonderful husband. I’m thankful for my friend Jeffrey Zaben who is everything a friend should be and much much more. And I’m thankful for my cats who constantly keep me entertained.

Day 2:

I’m thankful for my brothers. They have always been there for me and I hope they know how much I love them. They are a constant inspiration to me.

I’m thankful for my dad. He’s an amazing man and I love him.

I’m thankful for autumn. It’s my favourite time of year.

Day 3:

I’m thankful for old friends.  I have some I’ve known for 30 years.  They’ve helped me through good times and bad.  And although we no longer live close to each other, they will always be close in my heart.

I’m thankful for the squirrels and blue jays in my neighbourhood who come to my front porch looking for food.  And especially the one I named Alvin because he learned to trust me and take a peanut from my hand.  They put a smile on my face every time I see them.

I’m thankful for the ladies at my local coffee shop.  They always have a smile and kind word for every customer.  And they make really awesome coffee.

Day 4:

I’m thankful that the city and the bus drivers have come to an agreement so there won’t be a bus strike.

I’m thankful for my love of books. It allows me to travel to many different places, times, worlds and meet many different people. If you’re a lover of books like I am, you understand.

I’m thankful for peppermint tea. It helps me feel better when I’m not feeling well.

Day 5:

I’m thankful for my work with Celebrate the Hero.  I’m inspired every day.  Such an amazing organization.

I’m thankful to Nick and Britini for … well, for everything.  They are both amazing people and do an incredible job.  They welcomed me with open arms.  And I learn from them every time I’m with them.  They inspire me to want to do more to make the world a better place.  They make the world a better place just being themselves.

Day 6:

Today I’m thanking a few people who have helped teach me that just because life throws you a few curveballs, doesn’t mean you give up. It means you fight that much harder.

My friend Alan Zaben, who is an incredible inspiration.

My friend Joe, who has an amazing zest for life.

My friend Sean Buckley, who has become like a mentor to me (even though I’m older than he is). He helps keep me motivated when I feel like giving up.

Day 7:

I’m thankful for my cousins. I love the whole crazy bunch of them.  Even though we live miles and miles apart and don’t get to see each other much, they are always in my heart.

I’m thankful for my friend Elizabeth Schillings McLennan for always being there and for know just when I need a laugh (i.e. the maple syrup house)

I’m thankful for my friend and sister-in-law Julie Kontur for just being the wonderful person she is.

Day 8:

I’m thankful for my friend Jaime who is just one of the sweetest people I know and who’s smile lights up every room she enters

I’m thankful for my Aunt Liz who is just a beautiful person inside and out.

I’m thankful for my mom. Even though she isn’t here anymore, I will always be thankful for the things she taught me (or at least tried to teach me). I admit I didn’t always appreciate her when I was going up, but as I got older I realized just how remarkable she was. I love you mom.

Day 9:

I’m thankful to live in my town, my province, my country.  Not that I don’t love where I came from … I do and always will … but this is my home and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I’m thankful to have gone through all I have in the last few years.  Every moment has helped me become the person I am today.

I’m thankful I finally listened to the universe when it was telling me I needed to change who and what I was.

Day 10:

I’m thankful for apples, turkey bacon, greek yogurt, broccoli, and other yummy foods that make eating healthy a delight

I’m thankful for the knowledge I’m gained in the last few years on how to eat healthy

I’m thankful for chocolate when I want to indulge in something sweet

Day 11:

I’m thankful for all the men and women (past, present, and future) who serve in our armed forces. They sacrifice a lot to protect us and our freedoms and I will be eternally grateful.

Day 12:

I’m thankful for those people who see a need and want to help, who want to be the good in the world and inspire others to be the good as well.

Day 13:

I’m thankful for my friend Tyler, who has helped me in so many ways, taught me more than I thought possible, and is just an all-around good guy.  You rock, dude!

I’m thankful for my friend Nick, who introduced me to a new genre of books to read and who inspires me to be a better writer.

I’m thankful for Facebook which has made it possible for me to stay connected to friends and family far away, and as well as find new friends.

Day 14:

I’m thankful for all those who have helped me believe in myself, who’ve taught me that I can do things I once thought impossible, who’ve helped me become a better version of me.  There are so many in that group, more than I can really say, but I want to mention a few people:

Tyler, who saw something in me that even I didn’t see, who lent me some of his confidence when I had trouble finding my own, and has always believed in me (even when I didn’t believe in myself)

Matt, Amy, Liz, Karen, Aidan, Andreas, Jenn, and everyone else I’ve met through Quinte’s Biggest Loser.  You all accepted me from the beginning, and you have no idea how wonderful that was/is.

Carrie, who has always been there, even when she moved to Ottawa.

and

Jeff, who has been through it and understands.

Day 15:

I’m thankful for penguins and bunnies because they make me smile

I’m thankful for coffee, because some days things don’t get done without it

I’m thankful for Scooby Doo and the gang for making me happy for 43 years and counting 🙂

Day 16:

I’m thankful for that little voice in my head that convinces me to keep going when I want to give up, that helps guide me to better choices, and reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing

Day 17:

I’m thankful for the NFL. It has provided many many MANY hours of entertainment since I was very young. I always look forward to the fall when football season starts.

And I’m thankful for the Denver Broncos, who have been my favourite team for 28 years and counting, through good times and bad.

And I’m thankful someone had the good sense to convince Peyton Manning to become a Bronco. He’s a great addition to my team 🙂

Day 18:

I’m thankful for the sore muscles I get after a workout because it means I’m working hard!

I’m thankful to have someone to talk to while I’m on the treadmill because it helps make the time go by faster

I’m thankful I can have a nap when I get home from the gym because some days I just need a nap! LOL

Day 19:

I’m thankful I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on my plate, and family and friends that love me.

Day 20:

I’m thankful for my beautiful niece Ashlie.  She’s been a joy in my life since the day she was born.  And now she’s all grown up with a wonderful family of her own.  I am so proud of her.  And I’m also thankful for Ashlie’s husband Carlos and their beautiful girls, Isabella and Ariana.  I love them all so much.

Day 21:

I’m thankful for those around me who see the changes in me long before I can see them.

I’m thankful for fun workout clothes.

I’m thankful that I’m at a size where I can buy fun workout clothes.

Day 22:

I’m thankful for my bright pink running shoes because you can’t be unhappy wearing bright pink running shoes (hahaha)

I’m thankful for my inner strength that keeps me going when part of me really wants to give up

I’m thankful for Pinterest for helping me find so much inspiration and motivation!

Day 23:

I’m thankful my parents taught me to cook and I’m thankful I had and still have a passion to learn.

Day 24:

I’m thankful for quiet Sundays when I can do my weekly food prep, curl up with a hot cup of tea, and watch football.

I’m thankful I learned preparing most of my meals and snacks for the week makes keeping track of what I’m eating so much easier, and also keeps me from eating stuff I really shouldn’t.

Day 25:

I’m thankful for the songs on my playlists because sometimes they are exactly what I need to hear.

I’m thankful for moments of solitude when I can just relax and recharge.

I’m thankful I’ve learned to recognize when I need to relax and recharge.

Day 26:

I’m thankful for flowers and soft rain in the spring; the warm summer sun; the changing leaves and crisp air in the fall; and soft billowy snow in the winter.

Day 27:

I’m thankful I discovered at a young age the joy of reading. Sometimes required for school, but more often something I picked for the pure pleasure of reading. I’ve spent many many hours lost in the worlds created by the authors, whether it was the story of love and life during the civil war in Gone with the Wind, the often cruel world of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire, the poetically written stories of Guy Gavriel Kay, solving crimes along with various detectives created by James Patterson, or the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other books I’ve read over the years. From The Velveteen Rabbit to Encyclopedia Brown to Emily of New Moon; from books of poetry to books by Tom Clancy and W.E.B Griffin; from epic adventures like Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time to autobiographies by Bill Clinton and Andre Agassi, and others. With each new book, each new author I discover, my world expands to hold them all. Each book I read leaves a lasting impression on my soul. I’m thankful to every author of every book I’ve ever read for changing my world forever.

Day 28:

Happy Thanksgiving to my American family and friends.  I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with love and laughter.  I wish I was with you today to celebrate.

If I was, I might say something like:

Thank you for the food before us, the family and friends beside us, and the love between us.

I’m truly thankful for each and every one of you.  You are always in my heart.

Day 29:

Today I’m giving a shout-out to one of my favourite blogs.

I’m thankful for my friend Leslee at Her Happy Balance.  I came across her blog early this year and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.  She posts recipes, about her workouts, things she loves, products she reviews, all kinds of things.  Her posts are insightful and funny and relevant and just a joy to read.  I highly recommend you check it out.  I’m thankful I came across her blog.

Day 30:

I’m thankful I took up this daily challenge.  It helped remind just how blessed my life really is.  And it helped me slow down to notice the little things we sometimes take for granted.

I’m thankful for Yesterday, for what it’s taught me; Today, for being here to experience it, and Tomorrow, for the gifts I hope it brings!

Thank you all for indulging me this month with my list about things I’m thankful for

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I’m thankful …

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  I’ve always loved this time of year.  I love gathering together with family and friends.  One of my favourite sayings goes something like “Remember who is at the table is more important that what is on the table”.

Anyway, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d post about a few things I’m thankful for:

My husband.  Even after 15 years, I’m not sure how I got lucky enough to find him, but I’m not questioning it.  I’m thankful each and every day with him.

My family.  I love my family dearly.  We may not always get along, and we may go much too long without seeing each other, but I hope they know how much I love them.  I wish we lived closer to each other and I wish we could see each other more often, but at least we stay connected as best we can.

My friends.  All of them.  Old and new.  Some I’ve known for 30 years; some I’ve only known a few months, but I thankful for them all.  I hope they know that.

My health.  Nothing else really needs to be said about that.

My cats.  They may occasionally drive me crazy, but I love them and can’t imagine life without them.

My home.  I love our house.  It may be a little old, and it needs some work, but it has character and I love it.  It kind of reminds me of myself (hahaha)

My volunteer work.  Even though I haven’t been doing it long, I love working with everyone at Celebrate the Hero.  I’m thankful that they needed someone at the moment I was looking for somewhere to help.  Thank you Nick and Britini, you guys are the best!

thanksgiving

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Relay For Life 2013

This past Friday night was our annual Relay for Life walk for the Canadian Cancer Society. I look forward to this every year. My husband and I began doing the Relay about 10 years ago, when a friend asked us to join their team. We started walking in memory of his dad who died of liver cancer and my stepdad who died of lung cancer. After my own diagnosis, I began walking for myself as well. And I know several people who are survivors as well so I walk in honour of them too.

I have always been on a friends team, but not this year. This year I created my own team. I wasn’t sure what to expect as team captain, but I was excited as well. I got a little bit of a late start this year because I was getting things ready to do the Relay in Chandler with my friend Jeff and his family. I got my fundraising going and asked everyone I knew to be on my team. I did well with my fundraising this year. I’m very happy about that. A few people said they might join my team or come out for part of the night. It was short notice so I knew I might not get very many.

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal of 50 laps at the Relay. In Arizona, I got 46, which is the most I’d ever done. I really wanted to hit my goal this year. But even if I didn’t, I wasn’t going to be upset about it because I’d already accomplished a lot this year. With my new shoes, I was pretty sure I could do it. I like to call them my magic shoes because I feel like I can do so much more since I got them LOL.

The day before the Relay, I started packing the things I would need or thought I’d need. I decided to take a screen tent instead of a regular tent since I had no plans to sleep. I set out a couple of chairs, my yoga mat, sunscreen, bug spray, a blanket, extra shirts, a jacket, umbrella (just in case), snacks, a book, and a few other little things. I packed everything except food and water, which I was saving until I was almost ready to leave.

The morning of the Relay, I slept in as late as I could, then got up and started getting ready. M friend Karen was going to pick me up in the afternoon and take me and all my stuff over. Tyler was coming along to help. Once we got there, Tyler helped me get the tent set up and some stuff organized. I picked a pretty good spot too. I hope I can get it next year too. Or at least one in the same area. After we got things set up, Tyler and I did a lap around the track and some stretches to warm myself up. He couldn’t stay because he had other plans, and I understood. I was happy he could help me get set up. I turned in the rest of my monies, signed in at the survivors tent, and waited for the fun to begin.

Opening ceremonies start and speeches given. Now it’s time for the survivors lap. It’s one of the best parts of the night. So many survivors and caregivers. So amazing to see. The track is lined with everyone else clapping and cheering for those walking. I always get teary-eyed. Shortly after, my friend Doug showed up. After he settled in, we hit the track together. About 9:30 or so, my friend Liz showed up. She had never been to a Relay before. She was very excited. I think she’s working a blog post of her own about it. Dan came down as well and brought me some more water and ice. I was almost dark, so we waited for the luminary ceremony to begin. Another one of my favourite parts of the night. This year, I did luminaries in memory of Warren (my stepdad) and David (Dan’s dad), and to honour two of the greatest people I know — Jeff’s dad Alan and Tyler’s mom Joe.

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If you’ve never been to a Relay event before, I would highly recommend you go. The luminary ceremony alone is worth going for. It’s so moving and so touching. Remembering those lost, honouring those still fighting, and celebrating those who’ve won.

After the ceremony, we hit the track again. Liz and I walked together, and Dan and Doug walked together. After a couple of laps, Dan headed back home. He needed to go to work the next day. Doug, Liz and I kept walking. Liz can only stay a few hours, but that’s okay. I’m glad she could make it, no matter how long she could stay. Doug can’t stay all night either, but I knew that too. My friend Sammy, who is on another team, stopped by a couple of times with her boyfriend. We chatted for a few and I shared snacks I’d brought.

Doug takes off to be with his girlfriend, so Liz and I continue on our own. We walk and talk and laugh and joke. She is so awesome. I love her. She’s one of the greatest people I know. She totally rocks. After awhile, Liz has to leave too. I wish she could stay, but I know she can’t. Hopefully next year she can stay for the whole thing. In the end, we walked about 5k together. Pretty awesome. So I walk her to her car, say goodnight and head back to the track. I have a lot more walking to do.

One of the neat things done at Relay are the lap beads. You purchase a cord and add a bead to it for each lap you do. I think it’s cool. And some people get really creative with how they put the beads on. My cord from last year has 35 beads on it and I did the, in sort of a rainbow. This year, I decided to stick its just one colour to make it easier. Each time I took a break from walking I would add the beads and recount them to see how I was doing. I was getting closer and closer to my goal.

About 5am there is free breakfast – pancakes and sausages. And it’s cooked by firefighters. Awesome.

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I sat and watched them cooking for a little bit before getting in line. I washed my breakfast down with some chocolate milk and then head back to the track. I’d been losing steam for a while, so I wasn’t walking as fast but I was still determined to walk as much as I can. It was starting to get light out so I know it’s getting close to the end. I was listening to music on my phone. The same music that helps me get through a tough cardio session at the gym.

At about 6:30am, I did it. I finished my 50th lap. Goal completed. As I sat down at my campsite, and took my string of beads off to place the last one on, I was smiling and a little teary-eyed. It was an emotional moment. I was so proud of myself for accomplishing my goal, but sad my friends weren’t there to see it happen.

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I decided not to walk anymore, mainly because I was incredibly tired and my feet were hurting a bit. Instead, I took down my tent, packed everything up, and waited for the Relay to be officially done. Then I sent a text to Dan to let him know he could pick me up any time. I slept for about 6 hours or so after getting home. I got up, showered, dressed, ate, and watched a bit of tv. I was still pretty tired, so I went to sleep. Next thing I know, Dan is home from work and its 9pm. I stayed up for a bit longer then went back to sleep again. I woke up about 10am and finally felt like I had gotten enough sleep to make for the lack of sleep at Relay LOL.

Relay 2013 was really awesome, maybe the best one yet. I can hardly wait to get started on next year’s Relay. I’ll be on the committee next year, as well as a team captain. I’m very excited about that. I already have a few ideas churning in my head.

Thank you to everyone who supported me, sponsored me, and helped me prepare. Thank you to Tyler for helping me get set up that day. Thank you to Karen for the ride there. And a special thank you to Doug and Liz for spending part of the night with me. Everyone of you helped me reach my goal. You all rock my socks!

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GUEST POST – The benefits of friendship and support systems

I asked my friend Sarah to write a guest post for my blog. This is what she sent me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

Thank you, Sarah. You’re awesome, my friend.

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The Benefits of Friendship and Support Systems

I have always had the idea in my mind that having support when starting a fitness journey was not an essential part of the process. I never thought much of having a workout buddy or that there would be benefits to having someone there trucking along right beside you through the pain and gain. This all changed when I met Jenn. We very quickly established a strong friendship. I soon realized how wrong I had been with my thought process. Jenn is kind, caring and listens to all the struggles I go through. She understands how hard this journey can be because she is experiencing it herself. After Jenn, I started to meet other people who were like minded at the gym and were always willing to give me helpful advice and support. Without Jenn and these other great supporters in my life, I would not be able to get through as easily as I have. They make the journey fun, exciting and glorious.

Having strong friendships create your support system. These people listen to your concerns, help you create alternative plans if something isn’t working, comforts you through struggles and pain and they give you a sense of belonging and happiness. They help you change unhealthy lifestyle habits and encourage you to give better ones a try.

This being said, these kinds of friendships and relationships do not happen by themselves, it takes effort. Just as much as you need them, they need you. The enjoyment and comfort friendship can provide, however, makes the investment worthwhile.

So I want to thank Jenn for opening up my eyes to my new mantra. She made my belief possible and continues to be a wonderful friend in life and my fitness journey.

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A letter to my mom

This week is a difficult time for me, with Mother’s Day and what would have been my mom’s birthday within days of each other. I lost my mom in 2011. I miss her every day. There are times when I just want to pick up the phone and call her. I want to tell her about my accomplishments, my achievements. I want to hear the pride in her voice. I want to visit her, hug her, tell her I love her. With that in mind, I’ve written her a letter to tell her all the things I wish I could tell her now.

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Dear Mom,

I miss you so much. I’m sorry I didn’t call as often as I should have. I sorry I didn’t make more of an effort to visit. I hope you know how much I love you. Even now. Even though you have been gone almost 2 years. It’s hard to believe sometimes that it’s been almost 2 years. Time has really flown by. There is so much I wish I could have said to you before you left us. There is so much I want to tell you now. Jerry let me have the angel bear I gave you. It’s sitting on the shelf above my desk. And the angel picture you painted for me so many years ago is still hanging on the wall in my bedroom. They remind me of you, as if I need reminding. I like to think you are watching over me.

I wish you were here to see the woman I’m becoming, the woman I think you always wanted me to be. I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you sooner. I know you always wanted the best for me. We clashed on several occasions about what was best for me. I did hear the things you said, even if it appeared I didn’t. I heard them, but didn’t truly understand. I know that now. I’m sorry it took me so long to understand.

I wish I could tell you how much I admired you, how much I wanted to be like you. You were always a strong person, especially when times were tough, like when your dad died, and when you and dad split up. I was so shy and introverted, I didn’t think I’d ever be as strong as you. I’ve proved myself wrong there. I think I’m very strong, much more so that I ever thought possible. I think I owe some of that to you, for showing me the way. Thank you for that.

I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you about my health. I know now that I wasn’t ready. I heard the things you said, I just wasn’t ready to change. I’m sorry it took so long for me to be ready. I’m sorry I didn’t listen when you got sick. I’m sorry it took me getting sick to realize how right you were. I hope you are happy that I’m finally getting it right.

I know I wasn’t always a good kid. I know we had our problems. But I always loved you, always respected you. I was just trying to find my own way, be my own person. You taught me that. I am who I am and who I’m becoming because of you and dad, of the things you taught me, of the ways you showed me, even if you didn’t realize that’s what you were doing.

I wish I could talk to you about my journey. I want to share my accomplishments with you. I want to cry on your shoulder when I’m struggling. I hope you are proud of me, of what I’m doing. I’m proud of myself. I’m not sure I ever thought I could be this person. But I like being this person. No, that’s not right … I love being this person. I’m doing things I didn’t think I would ever be able to do. I wish you could meet the new friends I’ve made. They are a great bunch of people. I think you would like them. At least I hope you would.

I love you so much, Mom. I wish you were still here. I know it was your time to go. I know you are in a better place. But there are days when I really need you. I will always miss you. I will always keep you close to my heart. I will always love you.

Your loving daughter,

Jenn

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My friend Liz

I truly believe that everyone in your life is there for a reason. Sometimes it’s because you need them; sometimes it’s because they need you; and sometimes it’s because you need each other. If you’re very lucky, the universe will send you someone like my friend Liz. I’ve mentioned her briefly in a couple of posts, but she deserves a whole post of her own.

I met Liz last year, the first day of the first season of Quinte’s Biggest Loser. We both attended a nutrition class they were offering at the hospital. We happen to sit near each other and we struck up a conversation. It was as easy as that. What I didn’t understand then was the universe decided to give me one of the most amazing, funny, smart, lovable, beautiful, down-to-earth, crazy friends a person could ever have! Liz is the type of person that lights up a room as soon as she enters it. Feeling down? Liz knows just the right thing to say to bring you up. Got a problem? Liz has a way of seeing things that you may not have thought of. Need to relax, let loose, and/or maybe do something a little crazy? Liz can help with that!

Liz is a blogger as well. You can read her blog here. She writes about, well, everything really. And she’s one of the best writers I know. I aspire to write like her. She writes with such passion, such emotion. It’s simply beautiful. No other way to describe it really.

I’ve been a bit stressed out lately. I’ve had a lot going on. And lucky for me, Liz has been there to listen to me complain and offer some friendly advice, along with plenty of laughs. Just being around her makes me feel better, makes me feel like things will get better. Everyone needs a friend like that. I don’t know if she realizes that impact she has on others. She truly is a special person. And I’m honoured to call her my friend. My life … heck, the whole world is a better place with her in it.

Thank you Liz for everything, for all that you are, and for being my friend. You rock socks. Rock. Socks. 😉

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Kind words

Never underestimate how powerful words can be. Everything we say has an impact, whether we realize it or not. We may not intend to hurt someone, but sometimes saying the wrong thing can do just that. On the flip side, when someone is down, saying the right thing can bring them up, sometimes to a place they haven’t been before.

Being overweight almost my whole life, I know how bad words can hurt. I was bullied and made fun of since I was very young. I was constantly torn down, and hardly ever built back up. The few friends I had tried their best, but their kind words were often overpowered by the negativity of others. Consequently, I grew up with low self-esteem and very little self-confidence. I started to get a little bit of it in my 20s, but it was a very slow process. I think my biggest gains in both self-esteem and self-confidence didn’t come until I hit my 40s. I’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years, although I know I have a long way yet to go.

As I navigate my way through this journey, I realize more and more the impact kind words can have. When I’m having a bad day, a simple “you’re doing great” or “keep up the good work” from anyone can really help. When someone who hasn’t seen me in a while tells me how great I look, I can’t help but stand a little taller and smile a little bigger. When someone stops me to tell me how proud they are of me, my heart just melts. And when I feel like giving up, someone is there to say “you got this” or “I know you can do it” or “I believe in you”, and I keep going.

These things may not seem like a big deal to most people, but they mean the world to me. And each kind word helps build my confidence, tells me that I’m on the right track. The more I hear how well I’m doing, the more I want to do. The more people say how proud they are of me, the more I want to keep going. Every kind word inspires and motivates me. I know I’ll still have my bad days, but when I do, I’ll do my best to remember the good things people say to me and about me. And maybe, in the future, I will have fewer and fewer bad days.

So to all those people who have offered me their kind words, I thank you. You may think it’s a simple gesture on your part, but it means everything to me.

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