The JOY of Laughter...

We all have times when we feel a little blue, a little ‘down in the dumps’, a little less joyful than we’d like to feel, right? Above and beyond those fleeting feelings, the holidays seem to trigger depression for many people for a myriad of reasons.

Did you know that the physical act of laughing can reduce stress? It is true! In fact, laughter has been proven to act as a healing force for major diseases such as cancer… just check out the story of Norman Cousins who truly laughed his way from critical illness to a long, pain-free life. His book, Anatomy of an Illness, chronicles his findings, but the long and short of it is that he was given a chance of living of 1 to 500 with debilitating pain. He refused to believe the diagnosis.

Norman Cousins began to watch old comedies – movies like the Marx Brothers and old tv shows like Candid Camera, anything that would make him feel good and laugh - - and the change his body experienced by the endorphins being released from laughter changed his whole chemical make up and he lived to be an old man – pain free. (That was a really short retelling of my understanding of Norman Cousins’ story… he was a remarkable man with such incredible insights on what is worth fretting over and what it is to live life fully… please do check out his story.)

But back to the holidays and how it makes me sad to think that there are folks who get depressed at this magical time of the year…

The Mayo Clinic lists the reason for holiday depression as this:

Their tips for dealing with this stress are here.
The holiday season, which begins for most Americans with Thanksgiving and continues through New Year's Day, often brings unwelcome guests — stress and depression. And it's no wonder. In an effort to pull off a perfect holiday, you might find yourself facing a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name a few. So much for peace and joy, right?
Mental Health America has this take on holiday stress:
Many factors can cause the “holiday blues”: stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends. The demands of shopping, parties, family reunions and house guests also contribute to feelings of tension. People may also develop other stress responses such as headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating and difficulty sleeping. Even more people experience post-holiday let down after January 1. This can result from disappointments during the preceding months compounded by the excess fatigue and stress.
I’ve decided that the best way to beat the holiday blues for those of you who may suffer this malady is to hunker down with a good UPLIFTING or FUNNY movie to watch!
I’ve been asking Twitter friends about their favorite movies and the list of what we’ve come up with is below.

If you’re feeling blue, rent one or two or twelve of these movies... and start your own New Year’s tradition... a tradition of feeling happy and good!
Our List of Uplifting and Fun Movies:

@AKSRichi Rudy
@HitsandMisses Elf with Will Ferrell
@Hollafoodzone French Kiss
@kjhwill72 The Princess Bride (see above)
@BigGirlEats League of Their Own
@FabFatties August Rush (and Rudy)
@ElizabethEv Waking Ned Devine and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
@Rewka The Sound of Music and Popeye (with Robin Williams) @HealthyGirlTips The Mighty Ducks
@NKCoverGrrl Leaving Normal
@AmyDabbs The Blind Side (currently in theatres)
@MarvelousMartha Facing The Giants
@bukubuffalo Love Actually and The Holiday
@sarahlashua Bridgette Jones Diary and The Holiday
@bluearkyprimite The Proposal!!!
@brittnycantero ELF! with Will Ferrell. handsdown!!! (see above)
@ginastark Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and All of Me
@GulfCoastArea Shrek the Halls
@lorenita327 The Hangover
@samsgirl02 Nothing to Lose and Just Like Heaven 
@CraftsWeekly Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II HLG add: The original Father of the Bride w/Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor
I lost who tweeted these...  Finding Neverland  and Norma Rae

My personal favorites:

It’s a Wonderful Life
Finding Forrester
What About Bob
Under The Tuscan Sun
Slap Shot
When Harry Met Sally
Bridget Jones’ Diary
Chariots of Fire
Shirley Valentine
The Muppet Movie (@MollysMama28 agrees!)
Shawshank Redemption
Mr. Holland’s Opus
African Queen
Mary Poppins
Meet Me in St. Louis
The Odd Couple 
Heaven Can Wait
Young Frankenstein
Ghost Busters
Annie Hall

I hope your holidays are joyful and full of laughter!

Peace and love and JOY to all of us in 2010~


The spirit of Christmas ~

Happy December... How 'bout a holiday gift?

Well... I said I wanted December to be my month but when I got hit with bronchitis last week and it was confirmed this week and I'm back on prednisone (Doctor's orders), I was kind of concerned.  It's been a hard week with the death of two friends and my sister entering the hospital emergency room and being diagnosed with internal bleeding and blood clots in her lungs. 

Here's the realization though:  Life is short.  We need to embrace every moment of every day and do what we can to stay healthy!  We need to reconnect with friends today, not when we're back at our ideal weights.  We need to tell family and friends that we love them, we forgive them, we miss them... whatever emotion we may have been holding back from sharing for whatever reason.  NOW is the time to reach out - - there may not be a tomorrow. 

Now for the good news:  A year ago - under this kind of sadness and stress, I would have reached for food for 'comfort' and gained a couple of pounds in the past week.  Probably more than a couple!  And I probably wouldn't have 'reached for food', I would have gone to the grocery store or driven thru fast food or stopped by the closest convenience store to grab a liter of Pepsi and a couple of candy bars.  AND ATE THEM on the drive home!  That was then.  This is now.  I'm better than I was then, I'm not as good as I will be.  Embrace THIS moment.  Live THIS day.  Congratulate yourself on the positive accomplishments and stay POSITIVE!

When I went to Weight Watchers weigh-in tonight, I wasn't sure if I would be down - I looked at my ankles and my hands and they both looked swollen to me... but I was wrong.  I was down 2.6 pounds this week! :)
Only .8 lbs. and I'm down into the 220s. YEAH!

I'm really blessed to have met the people I have met through the Healthy Loser Gal blog and through Twitter!  So many people are so caring and kind and open with their talents and sharing.  It is amazing, really!  When I told friends this week that I was having a tough time losing two friends, the outpouring of love and prayers was felt!  I am so thankful to you all! It helped... a lot!

One friend I met early on when I was tweeting is this great, happily married Texas guy named Tom.  He is upbeat and positive and so encouraging here on my blog... and didn't he give me the greatest gift this week!?  He sent me this incredibly thoughtful motivational mp3 that is recorded to music with my own words I've used on the blog about the goals I want to accomplish and how far I've come on my journey.  I listened to it for the first time last night and was so inspired by the affirmations, and weeping at the same time! *grin*  I want to take this moment to thank Tom publicly because he is just one of those people who doesn't ask for anything in return and is just giving.  Huge hugs to you, Tom! Thank you! :)

And on Monday night - when I was in the midst of all my horrible news - I came home to a package from Roman Meal.  You know Roman Meal breads and products, don't you?  If you don't, I'm giving you the chance to - well, even if you DO know, you've got a chance for some FREE ROMAN MEAL product!  The PR gal, Jessica, for Roman Meal has sent coupons for one free Roman Meal product.  So, my friends, the first 10 of you who follow @Roman_Meal on Twitter and then let me know that you have, send me a note at with your home address and I'll send you off a coupon!  How easy is that? : )

Thank you, Jessica and Roman Meal, for this really generous offer! : )

Despite the rush of the season, I plan to embrace the joy and positive messages of the Christmas season... to remember that there are kind, generous folks in this world and to feel the peace of friends and family and know that 2010 holds HEALTH for me!  And that is ALL good! :)

Watch out, December... here I come!!

As I was driving home after taking my Mom back to her house after Thanksgiving late last night, I took time to reevaluate where I am in my journey and all that I have accomplished.  I also 'gave myself a talking-to' on slacking off lately on my exercise goals and realized I was dreaming far too small for this next month. Why am I thinking that because it is the holidays I won't have time to exercise or that I won't lose weight? That's defeatest thinking!  So, I'm planning to lose weight in December. I'm planning to kick up the exercise and I'm planning to ring in 2010 (good lord!!) feeling great and down another size.  How 'bout that?! *grin*

I've made up some motivation badges that I've printed out, slapped onto magnets and have stuck on my frig. Feel free to right click and add them to your blog, too, if you'd like! (And if you would link back to that would be terrific! Thanks!)

We *CAN* do this whole weight-loss- getting-healthy- feeling-great-about-ourselves thing, ya know! I'm IN... how about you? ; )

From my house to your's... Happy Thanksgiving!

The turkey is stuffed and into the oven... I have a few moments to myself to show some of this morning's preparations! : ) I hope all of you in the States are enjoying a happy, healthy Thanksgiving Day!  We have much to be thankful for not the least of which is our improving good health!  Here's to a wonderful day!

A *LOT* to be thankful for... starting with being *LITTLER*

I have always loved Thanksgiving.  When I was a kid I loved it 'cause of the happiness that it brought to my family - we'd often host Thanksgiving dinner and had a house full of company which I've adored since I can remember.  And I am a sucker for traditions. 

The tradition at my home was to get up early and I would watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade while eating fruit from the fruit bowl which - in itself - was a tradition.  Thinking back on this - the ONLY time we EVER had a filled fruit bowl in my home growing up was at Thanksgiving.  It was overflowing with MacIntosh apples, clementines, grapes, and bananas.  My mother would be making stuffing and then filling the bird and the house smelled wonderful! Later at the dinner table my brother and I would playfully argue about whose chair the stuffing bowl would be placed before and my sister and I would let my Dad decide who would get to break the wishbone with my brother later in the week and make a wish! : )

This year, as the holidays sneak up on us like they do every year - I have so much to be thankful for! I am overwhelmed with gratitude for so many things in my life, but what I want to share with you is one horrifying glimpse of how heavy I was LAST YEAR at the holidays so you can understand the depth of my thankfulness this year!

The picture below is of me at the holidays last year...

How many chins can one girl have for goodness sake?  How many pounds could I have gained before that 3x sweater no longer fit me?  Even my hands were fat! I thank God I am not this same size. I was miserable. I was SO very unhealthy.  I could barely breathe walking up stairs or exerting myself physically in any way.  I was unhappy with who I was and where I was in my life.

But that was THEN and those days are long past.

The picture to the right is of me on Halloween.  Now I am HAPPY again. I am eating healthy and setting goals for myself in all areas of my life!  I have lost over 50 pounds and I am rediscovering things I like to do - finding new things that I'm enjoying like going to the YMCA, and I am getting my health back.  My asthma is still a part of my life but has diminished SO much! I no longer check to be certain I have an inhaler with me every time I leave the house. I still have a double chin, too, but - darnit! - it is 'littler'!

  On Wednesday I will make the three hour drive to my Mom's house to pick her up and bring her back to Boston with me so she can celebrate Thanksgiving with my son and I.  I am thankful she is still able to do the holidays with us at 83 years old. Many of her friends are now gone, others in nursing homes.  I'm realizing how much I'll miss her when she is no longer here and insists on telling me that frozen birds are as good as fresh! *grin* (Among other things she feels the need to say every year!)  My holiday menu will change a little bit this year but not toooo much.  I will be eating less breads and won't have gravy or butter.  I happen to love vegetables so I'll load up on squash and turnip and brussel sprouts.  I'll make all the traditional dishes my family has always made - scalloped oysters, bread stuffing, corn casserole, waldorf salad, but I'll be discriminate about what I eat and what I splurge on. 

 My brother won't be able to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with us in Boston - he'll be at his home in Seattle with his family... and I'll have the stuffing bowl purposefully placed in front of me and will think of him.  It is a tradition. : )

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Thank you for your encouragement and support.  I'm really very thankful for all of you on this journey with me! : )

I'm so happy...

I am thrilled to show you the prizes I won from the Dr. Oz Show and BlogHer which arrived this week!  I am so thankful for the four autographed books by Dr. Oz and the Heart Rate Monitor!  I've taken photos of all and you can see where Dr. Oz writes "Enjoy" and then his signature in the front of "Healing from the Heart".  So cool!  I *will* enjoy and I am!

I am about halfway through Healing from the Heart which is, in my opinion, an inspiring book for anyone interested in taking their health and fitness into their own hands.  I was surprised and really enthused about the findings regarding emotional energy and the testing done around this field of medicine:

...For example, when we do deep breathing in yoga exercises, we're consciously changing the release of peptides in the body. We are changing, perhaps energizing or relaxing, our emotional state. In this way our very breath can be an ally in healing.

Other scientists in the relatively new field of psych-neuroimmunology have discovered overwhelming evidence that our minds and emotions affect our immune systems.  We also know that depression, loneliness, or such stessful blows as a loved one's death, a divorce, or the loss of a job lowers immunology against disease....
© Healing from the Heart, Mehmet Oz, M.D. 1998

I have to grin when thinking about how the Law of Attraction plays a huge part in my life now.  These books were gifts - well 'winnings' actually - that I normally would not have had the disposal income to purchase myself.  They'll educate me as I continue this wonderful journey to my perfect weight and fitness! 

Friday night I bought Marci Shimoff's book Happy for No Reason which is about how materials goods and experiences you buy or manufacturer are all wonderful, but to maintain lasting happiness that happiness must come from within.  Happiness doesn't know a socioeconomic level - happiness is available to everyone and anyone and Marci Shimoff's book proves this.  What's even better, her book sets out ways (7 steps, actually) you can go about gaining that inner happiness yourself! : )

I'm a happy person by nature (see that happy kid in the photo? that's me!) - I've always been this way - but as I read Happy For No Reason I have been finding ways I can cultivate that inner happiness more readily when I may need an 'internal boost' to change my day!  It is a really different and very cool book!  : )

Wonderful, meaningful lyrics.... "Win"

I watched "Men of Honor" tonight in honor of Veteran's Day and was really struck by the closing credits song which was "Win" by Brian McKnight.  I'm not sure I've ever heard the song before but I will be downloading it for my MP3 player soon! : )  I hope you enjoy the lyrics, too...


Dark is the night
I can weather the storm
Never say die
I've been down this road before
I'll never quit
I'll never lay down,
See I promised myself that I'd never let me down

I'll never give up
Never give in
Never let a ray of doubt slip in
And if I fall
I'll never fail
I'll just get up and try again

Never lose hope
Never lose faith
There's much too much at stake
Upon myself I must depend
I'm not looking for place or show
I'm gonna win

No stopping now
There's still a ways to go, oh
Someway, somehow
Whatever it takes, I know
I'll never quit, no no
I'll never go down,
I'll make sure they remember my name
A hundred years from now

When it's all said and done
My once in a lifetime will be back again
Now is the time
To take a stand
Here is my chance
That's why I...

I'll never give up
Never give in
Never let a ray of doubt slip in
And if I fall
I'll never fail
I'll just get up and try again

I'm gonna win.

To Trot or Not To Trot... that is the question

Hmmm... so I'm considering a post-Thanksgiving morning 5k Turkey Trot in a neighboring town.  It would be a good goal and supports their food pantry (I'm a big believer in helping out local food pantries having been a laid-off single Mom and on the verge of going to one once...).

The Turkey Trot would be the morning after Thanksgiving Day.  I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner, which I love to do, so I know I'll be consuming more than my alotted WW points on that particular Thursday and the exercise will do me good!

I'm in "consideration mode"... I'm leaning toward signing up! : ) 

Who am I? *grin*

Who is Out Enjoying Indian Summer....?

Oh yeah! That would be ME! :)

Went for a gorgeous 5 mile walk today... here are a few of the pix from the hiking paths...

Along Concord, Massachusetts Revolutionary War trail...

Bittersweet was everywhere... so pretty!

These stone walls date back to 1775 when the Lexington & Concord minuteman hid behind them to surprise the British redcoats as they marched through on April 19th.

Totally Cool Things Happened Today...

I just have to share quickly two things that happened during the course of today.  First of all, on Twitter on Fridays there is a Trending Topic called #FollowFriday where - if you want to - you can make suggestions to your followers of who you follow and think are worthy of others following.  It is fun to do - makes people feel good when you shout out and it is fun to be shouted out at in a #FF.  So, I usually do a list of people whom I follow whom I find to be inspirational, often times people who I've learned of by listening to The Secret tapes or reading the book.  One of those incredibly motivational and upbeat and great Law Of Attraction folks is a woman by the name of Marci Shimoff.  This morning in my "Motivational #FollowFriday" list I included Marci.  She tweets back to me and says MY BLOG IS INSPIRING!  What?  I nearly fell out of my chair!  I am thrilled she took a moment to look at this blog and so grateful she took another moment to tweet that in response to my #FF mention.  Very kind and meant the world to me!

As if that wasn't enough, mid-afternoon I peek back onto Twitter and see a tweet from a small Ohio based independent pasta sauce and salad dressing company named VinoDeMilo *grin* that I follow as part of promoting #BuyLocal from farms and local retailers, producers.  They tweet to me suggesting that I try their pasta sauce on spaghetti squash and let me know I can pick it up in Stop & Shop locally.  So I tweet back, that sounds great - I will ('cause I happen to love spaghetti squash and thought - why not!?).  Within an hour, I get another tweet from them saying they've now read  my blog, and - as encouragement to keep going on my weight loss and healthy journey - would like to send me their products gratis!  HOW NICE IS THAT!?! 

So, if you ask me if I believe in the Law of Attraction, why YES, I DO!  Today I had two very visible signs of great things happening just "out of the blue".  I'm so grateful to be able to experience the little acts of kindness thru Marci saying a nice thing and the larger act of a genuinely unexpected gift coming my way thru the nice folks (Kim!) of VinoDeMilo! 

Life is Good friends... be aware of the blessings around you and give thanks and keep your mind focused on your goals!  Good things are just around the corner! : )

"I want to thank the Academy..."

I feel a bit like Sally Field today... remember when she accepted the Academy Award for Norma Rae (or was it for Places in the Heart?) and her acceptance speech of "You like me... you really like me." ?

Well, I am little-girl-giddy-excited that a healthy Twitter friend (Downsized76) has passed along the "Honest Scrap Award" my way! Thank you, Tina! :)

1. “The Honest Scrap” award must be shared!
2. The recipient has to tell 10 true things about themselves.
3. The recipient has to pass along this prestigious award to 10 more bloggers.
4. Those 10 bloggers all have to be notified they have been given this award.
5. Those 10 bloggers should link back to the blog that awarded them.

Ohhh the truths I could tell but I'll be good and let the ten things I reveal be about fitness and weight loss and my journey so that I can, hopefully, give others the courage to be truthful in their journey, too.

Heck - if I can't be truthful at this point I am sunk... I've posted my weight on the blog and that was a HUGE wall to have tumble down around me. I often wonder if people who aren't overweight have ANY idea how incredibly scary it is to admit one's weight when it is in the "obese" range of the BMI? How about when you have to admit that you can't register your weight on a regular scale? I never got there but I was well on the way... and that alone kept me from getting there. Sooooo... here we go friends.

  1. I collect antique kitchen yellowware bowls and vintage kitchen "stuff"... like tiger maple rolling pins and 1800 pie crimpers, antique wrought iron apple peelers.  I used to have a giant kitchen in an 1855 colonial home and I went semi-crazy at New England antique auctions collecting all this stuff.  And it was all kitchen and food related... hmmmmmm.....   I no longer have that enormous kitchen, however, and rarely use those items which is GOOD 'cause that means I'm not making fancy fattening pies and cakes and cookies weekly. ; )
  2. In high school (30 years ago...ack!) I ran track.  Me!  I ran track.  The 440 relay was one of my better events.  I was long legged and lean and fast.  I want to get back to being able to run someday in the next year and I hope I'll enjoy it again!                                                                                                                   
  3. Once upon a time I was a life guard.  I had to swim a mile across an Adirondack lake to receive the final test badge and I did it without a problem.  That was after college... and I was really incredibly fit then, too!  I still am a fairly good swimmer but I've let my fears of my adult-onset asthma sometimes get the best of me so I don't push myself to complete laps in a pool like I probably should for fitness.                              
  4. I have had near-death experiences and have (obviously! lol) lived to tell the story.  Five years ago I had to have thoracic cardiac surgery as the doctors believed I had lymphoma.  It turns out I had and have (although fairly dormant now) a lymph-disease called Sarcoidosis.  Three summers ago I went into the ER with the worst ear ache imaginable and with what I believed was an asthma attack.  My son drove me despite my protestations that I didn't need to go to the hospital.  Within four hours they'd revealed that the cough and weakness wasn't asthma this time but a blood clot that had traveled to my lung.  A second one had broken a blood vessel in my ear.  I missed death by the breath of my guardian angel's voice whispering in my son's ear to get me to the hospital.  When tested, my right leg was filled with blood clots and I now have an implanted filter that prevents other clots from traveling beyond the artery at hip level.  I was in the hospital for two weeks and have been fine since, thanks be to God! :)
  5. People who know me now think of me as a city-girl but I am not at all.  I grew up in very rural upstate New York - right on the border of Vermont and love the country.  My parents were not farmers but nearly everyone else in the town I lived in was.  I can milk a cow, toss a bail of hay, bait a hook, help muck out a horse barn if necessary.  And living in the city has made me cherish a black sky with endless stars that can only be seen in the country.                                                                                                   
  6. I have tried Jenny Craig and NutriSystem in the last 20 years and failed miserably on both! And I spent a lot of money at the same time! Weight Watchers is the program for me!  I joined earnestly four years ago... lost about 20 lbs and then had the whole blood clot fiasco!  And then I began to have relationship issues with my fiance... and then that seemed like a good excuse to really gain A LOT of weight. But now, as I look back, I wasn't really ready to lose the weight and get on with my life.  Now I eat veggies and fruit and try new things, experiment with recipes and am really into this being a lifestyle change. And - as a result - I am seeing the weight slip away and I am loving life!
  7. I couldn't open my treadmill when I bought it and had 1st unpacked it.  I know this sounds crazy, but it is true!  I had never been on a treadmill  - I had never seen one "open up" from a "slide away" position and I was truly dumbfounded.  I finally had to wait for my son to get home from college on a break for HIM to open the damn thing up! LOL  And then I didn't use it.  If I walked 5 minutes on it at a time I thought I was really 'working' my exercise.  My WW friends were so encouraging during this time- they used to say "5 minutes is great! You're not sitting in front of the tv."  No, but the treadmill was in front of the t.v. and I used to pause and watch more than I walked.  But that was then... and this is now... and I've given that treadmill away to someone who knew how to set it up - wanted it - and I walk outside or at the YMCA!         
  8. Embarrassed to go, I joined two separate gyms and never spent one day in either.  No, I didn't join them simultaneously - but within a year of one another.  Both were convenient and close to my house.  I didn't know HOW to approach someone - or couldn't because of my shame over my weight - and ASK how to use the equipment.  I had no idea what any of the equipment did, how to turn on the machines, how to sign up for circuit training.  And I let the fear of asking and the embarrassment of my weight hold me back.  I was the only one judging myself.  The trainers weren't.  They actually LIKE to help newbies and see you progress.                                                                                                                                                    
  9. I sing and I dance and I'm a pretty good mimic and a stage actress and I plan to do all of that again! My asthma has changed my ability to sing so that is a bummer but that doesn't mean I can't perform on stage again in comedies or dramas.  I was very active in community theatre not all that long ago (my son was 8 or 9 so maybe it WAS awhile ago - he's 23 now! lol) and I will be doing that again!                                       
  10. And finally, dear friends... I have every intention of having upper arms like Michele Obama and Sheryl Crow by next year at this time. And I will not have an extra 'flap' of stomach that - when left to its own devices - would like nothing better than to hang over my panties... You all know what I'm talking about. *grin*
Thanks for the award and for reading my 10 silly facts!  Now I'm off to bestow the Honest Scrap to bloggers whom I've enjoyed reading!  ; )

Seeing Goals Realized

Over this past weekend I hiked to the top of a lookout tower in New Hampshire.  Now that may not seem too big an accomplishment to many of you but it was a 'touch stone' moment for me.  The picture is of me on Sunday, October 25th.  I hiked up there again (with my ex-fiance) and this time - rather than stopping breathlessly along the way - we stopped once, took a short break and then hiked up the rest of the way to the Tower triumphantly!

The photo of me in the coral sweater is a photo of me THEN and part of my post of my trip there on April 19th - six months ago:

When this photo was taken on Sunday, April 19th, I could barely make it up the hill to the lookout tower. DF and I were up at Lake Winnipesaukee for the weekend and he had promised me that on weekends we could walk to get my "activity points" in for the week. The back-story here is that last summer, on a hot and humid day, we'd stopped by the same trail and I couldn't get even 1/2 of the way up before I had to turn around and head back to the a/c of the car.

I was determined NOT to let my asthma, poor breathing get in the way this time. DF was so good about it - he stopped with me along the path - encouraged me to take it slow - even said "look, my heart is beating fast too, it isn't just you that needs to go slow", so slowly but surely we made it up there and the lookout tower steps looked impossible to me as I leaned against the base, breathing hard.
But then I thought to myself, "I can do this. I can catch my breath and go up to the top." And so, flight after flight of stairs, I climbed, rested a second, climbed the next set of stairs. Up and up 'til we made it to the top. The photo is me realizing that I'd overcome my fear... it was a true smile of accomplishment. Not only had I given myself the time to get up there and not backed down from the challenge, I overcome the occasional fear I have experienced since my asthma worsened of "oh my God, what if I get (wherever seems remote) and I have a problem and I can't get (fill in the blank... "down" or "out" or "into")?" So it was two victories in one climb and the view was soooooo worth it!

This past Sunday, I felt none of the panic - none of the 'can I do this?!' feeling.  I felt great.  Was I winded? Yes - I was... my heart was pumping and my asthma has been kicked up this week anyway, but I did it... and it was an accomplishment to WANT to climb up to the top - to know I could and would do it without hesitation.

And look at the photos to see the difference that six months makes in the beautiful views of Lake Winnipesaukee.  The April colors of spring - just ready to bud and bloom - versus now and the vibrant colors of Fall in New England - echo my journey.  Six months in this journey I am so much more fully awakened with joy and hope and life again! : )

In six months I have accomplished so many of the things I said I wanted to lose weight for... I just reviewed my old list and it brought tears to my eyes to realize the things I have done already.  I am proud of myself! I have made it 1/2 way... my cup is half full... my heart is completely full of gratitude! : )

(From April '09)
The reasons I want to lose weight:
  • To be healthier
  • So I won't wheeze when I walk somewhere **Check**
  • To feel comfortable when bending over to pick up something**Check**
  • So I can see old friends and not be totally embarrassed by how much weight I have gained (this is a MAJOR one!)
  • To be more social and enjoy going out more often in public**Check**
  • To not feel self-conscious of whether something I am wearing is too tight, about to rip, etc.**Check**
  • So I can go into a restaurant and not worry whether or not I can fit in the booth : (**Check**
  • Because I know my asthma will improve considerably**Check**
  • So I can do things with DS like we used to do all the time, i.e., riding bikes, playing frisbee, going golfing, tossing the baseball, walking around and exploring
  • So I won't have like four chins and when I look down my chin doesn't receed into my neck fat**Check**
  • So I can pull my knees up into my chest to paint my toenails! : )
  • So I can touch my toes without a problem**Check**
  • Because I want to not be self-conscious all the time when in public**Check**
  • To be able to say "sure, I'll try that" and not panic "what if" about my weight keeping me from something**Check**
  • To feel sexy again
  • To wear whatever funky clothes I want to like I used to and not have it look like it may be the only thing I can fit into!
  • So I don't have this voice of my Dad in my head saying "What's happened to you?" : (
  • So I can casually fit into a conversation "well, I lost 100 lbs. once" and see people's jaws drop because they won't have ever imagined I could weigh anything more than 150 lbs.
  • To be a Weight Watchers success story and inspire others that if I can do it, they can do it
  • To play tennis again
  • To wear a bathing suit that wasn't the only one in the store that quasi-fit so I settled on it
  • To go back to Ireland and not think twice about whether or not I feel good enough to do things
  • So airplane seatbelts won't be a source of fear!**Check**
  • So my doctor will be damn proud of being right that I can do anything I put my mind to
  • So I can dress up for DF and feel great by the look I see in his eyes when I am out with him**Check**
  • So I never again have to worry that something I eat may trigger me to eat 'til I feel like I need to sleep from being so full**Check**
Thanks for following me on this journey, friends!  I'm six months in and thrilled with the results! Onward and upward! : )

We ARE all Beautiful!

I just read on Twitter (thanks to @FitBottomedGirl) about and am in tears.  Now the tears may be caused by the prednisone I'm taking, but I think not!  I think I'm emotional about this because don't we ALL need to hear this?  Aren't we ALL beautiful?  We are!  We are all unique and quirky and beautiful - inside and out and it is time that we realize it.

I fall into the "I don't think I'm beautiful" trap all the time.  I have people in my life who think I *am* beautiful but my mind has conditioned me to 'poo poo' any such nonsense!  Me? Beautiful? Pfft! 

And as I lose weight I want to embrace the beauty within me as much as the beauty others see on the surface... the beauty on the surface is what I struggle with.  And I know that soooo many of my weighloss buddies struggle with this, too.

I was (well, I still am...) the younger sister of a beautiful girl... who turned into a beautiful woman.  I was always compared to her and never appreciated it, honestly.  She was the cheerleader and skinny as a rail - I purposefully never tried out for cheerleading to avoid comparisons.  I was the tomboy - she was the one who rolled her hair and wore makeup from the moment our parents would allow it.

But you know what?  I *was* beautiful growing up.  I didn't have many people commenting on it because I was in the shadow of my sister- but I was.  Blonde hair, blue eyes, tall and lean, with a big smile and a curiousity for life that was unending. 

She was reserved - I was bubbly and funny, entering talent shows and starring in musicals and plays.  I look at pictures of myself from my childhood and try to understand how I got such a complex and when did I begin to believe I wasn't beautiful?  And I thank God for my Dad who always loved me - tomboy playing baseball with the boys in my neighborhood - or dressed up for the prom and wearing high heels for the first time! : )     

Some of us struggle with our weight because our excess weight is a 'buffer' to having to deal with deeper, underlying problems... feelings of inadequacy, feelings of neglect, feelings that we aren't 'pretty'. 

We need to stop all of that negative thinking about ourselves.  We ARE pretty.  We ARE beautiful.  We are unique and wonderful and one of a kind and how awesome is that?  I'm really going to try to not wave-off the next compliment I get.  I saw my ex-fiancee last night and he was saying how beautiful I looked (I was in a dress, hose and heels) and I said "You really don't need to say that, it's okay." and he repeated it- looking at me as if to say "do you hear me?".  I heard him but I didn't want to accept the compliment.  Friends on Facebook that look me up will comment on recent pictures and say "You look just as beautiful now as you did when you were in school...".  I actually wrote back to one guy - "Oh, you must have me confused with my sister."  to which he replied, "No... YOU were the pretty one."  I remember sitting there, staring at the computer screen and thinking, "I was?!". 

We both were.  My sister was and is pretty.  I was pretty and am still. More importantly, we're both beautiful inside. 

Say it aloud if you're home.  "I'm beautiful."  Then say it again - louder- and mean it.  Look at yourself in the mirror in the morning with your hair tossled from sleep and your face not yet ready for the world to see and say it... "I'm beautiful."  Then smile and say it again and mean it. 

We are.  We're beautiful.

Please take a minute to read Operation Beautiful - it is an inspiring site:
End fat talk one anonymous post it note at a time!
The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other women to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough... just the way you are!
And I - for one - plan to have sticky notes and a flair pen in my purse or backpack with me whenever I'm out and about now.  I will be the Zorro of Ladies Rooms... leaving little "You are beautiful and unique!" post-it notes wherever I may be! 
Here's one for you! ; )

Just as a Reminder to Myself...

"If hunger is not the problem,
then eating is not the solution."