Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Clean Sweep!

When we had cable "Clean Sweep" was one show that I loved watching. I was always amazed at how much clutter people could accumulate. I always scoffed at how some people struggled to throw things away. It is just stuff so what is the big deal? Well, today I got a taste of my own judgmental medicine. I had four fabulous friends help me do a mini clean sweep of my home. In fast forward mode they sorted piles and hauled out trash. Every time they asked me where something went or what purpose it had all I kept thinking is "I want to keep it even if I don't know what it is right now." Thankfully they didn't let me keep too much. The whole point was to declutter not to justify my clutter. I just wish the process would go a lot faster because I am really tired.

I feel the same in the spiritual sense. I have so much emotional baggage and scars. I don't even know what they are from but I want to hang on to them. Why? Well...I don't know, but they've been with me for so long it seems scary to let them go. What if the issues that I hang onto somehow define me. If I get rid of them then who am I really? Who am I becoming? Who do I want to become? God is currently transforming me but the process is so painful at times. I am still being so impatient. I'm tired of anxiety, tears, and feeling afraid for no good reason. Yet I'm also scared to be healthy.

I feel like a walking contradiction. I want a clean home but I don't want to go through the work of sorting through things. I want a clean heart and sound mind but I don't want God to remove any old idols, hurts, or sin. I want the easy way out but that is obviously not possible. However, I am so thankful for my friends...my sisters....that are helping me see that the purging process is only a season. The clean calm home and heart is just around the corner. I just got to keep going one step at a time. I'll get there and will be so glad I didn't quit!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm Overwhelmed - Part II

Tonight my emotions betray me. I know the truth of God which says that I'm victorious, healed, and whole. Yet my heart still aches and cries out. There is a part of me that wants to go back to the hospital. That lonely, isolated, artificial environment seems so much easier. Daily tasks seem so complicated to me. Sometimes my daughters will ask a simple question but I have trouble formulating a response. The words come out but there is no real emotion behind them. I still feel rather vacant inside. It isn't that I don't have any emotions at all. It just seems that I have a lot all at the same time then there is none left.

The reality of a diagnosis seems far heavier than the liberty God provides. I'm having flashbacks to some of the things I witnessed while in the hospital. My body is on high alert and anxiety pulses through every nerve. I'm even contemplating applying for disability so that I am able to lessen the financial burden. I was reading through the FAQs regarding the application process. One site said that "a person is considered disabled when they have a severe impairment that has lasted, or is projected to last, twelve months." I freaked out when I saw that and I'm not totally sure why. I know part of the reason is my pride. I don't want this to continue. Yet there is a part of me that does! No wonder my body is in turmoil. I am actually afraid to get better. Why?? Well, because right now I'm clinging to the Word, my family and friends. As I get better will I begin to let go of that lifeline? How many people are too busy for the Word? How many are so stressed out and busy they forget about spending time with family? Am I going to be like that too? I was before all this happened so have I really changed? I hope so but in the meantime I feel very overwhelmed.

Somehow I still hang on to the hope that God is using this too for His glory. He has already shown me countless times that He is with me. I suppose I shouldn't see the struggle as failure but rather just some rocky terrain on the healing journey.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm overwhelmed!

"How are you doing?"

Hmmm....one would think this would have an easy answer. It is obvious to me that lately I just don't even know how to answer it. If I give too many details I don't want people to think I just want to hear "Wow! Marcie you are amazing!" Although I obviously love praise I truly want God to get the glory and not myself. However, if I don't share details I feel fake. I don't want to just go around saying "I'm fine", when I'm not. How many of us use that simple answer meanwhile our heart is broken inside? I want to be totally transparent before God and those around me. I know I'm not alone in this struggle and if my pain can help even one person then it is worth it. So, if you are willing sit back....get yourself some coffee (yep that's my new addiction!) and settle in for story time. May God bless you for being supportive and for praying for me.

Depression...seems so simple. A sad mood or a sad feeling. Well in my case it was an oppression of the spirit. It almost felt like a tangible force holding me down. No matter what good thoughts I tried to focus on I couldn't shake the hopelessness. I could see myself slipping away but not really caring to do anything about it. I know for a fact that if I had reached out to one person I could have gotten help a lot sooner. For some reason I was convinced that I was stronger than my emotions. After all I had been a MOPS leader, a Bible study teacher and a prayer warrior. I even had memorized some Scripture and went to church regularly. I had it all together, right? LOL I don't know if I thought I had it all together I just knew I didn't want to bother anyone. Most of my friends lead such busy lives. Surely they wouldn't have time to hear me whine and complain about my petty problems. My life struggles seemed so meaningless and insignificant.

On Monday, November 30th, I could feel that something wasn't right. I thought I could shake it and "get over it". That night Michael had to go out and I don't even remember why. The girls were tucked into bed (I think) and I was going to take my sleep aid medicine. The pills spilled into my hand and I just stared at them. I counted 20 pills and the thought lingered "How many pills would it take for me to go to sleep for a while?" I didn't want to die but I just wanted to go away. I wanted sleep. I wanted to hide. I wanted peace of mind and heart! Thankfully, Michael found me as I was crying. I assured him that I was fine. Yes...I lied!

On Tuesday, December 1st, I was in worse shape. I don't remember eating anything. I don't remember feeding the girls. I was dressed but don't remember doing it. The whole day I was in a dark cloud. The moment of truth came when I didn't want to be around my girls anymore. At that time my marriage was heading down a very dark and destructive path. I had always said that if it came down to it the girls and I would go to TX to be with my sister. Well that day I didn't even care if Michael kept the girls. Actually I knew they'd be better off with him. Yet, I still thought this mood would pass. I called my doctor hoping that I just needed some more antidepressants. Well after quite a few phone calls I went to see my doctor's associate. He recommended an ER visit. I was numb! I didn't need an ER visit I needed more medicine. I was still in control, right? After an ER visit they recommended a stay at a facility in W. Burlington. I couldn't believe it!! How did things get so out of control?!

In the hospital I was so angry. I felt completely betrayed. The first day I didn't stop crying all day. I was completely miserable. I had lost my children, my husband, my friends, my job, my reputation, and obviously my mind. I had nothing left. Yet somehow God met me there! Oh I wish I was more eloquent to share just how I felt the hand of God healing my heart. I borrowed a Bible and began reading and reading. Scripture after Scripture JUMPED off of the page. I was able to take communion and I can honestly say I have never tasted such sweet bread and juice. God took my broken heart, my sin, my illness and wrapped himself around me very gently. He just accepted me and it was amazing! After that amazing experience God gave me peace in the ugliest place I've ever been. Despite the other patients, the lack of color, the lock down facility, the lack of freedom, and lack of regular contact with my friends and family, God still gave me peace. Nurses asked me what I was doing because I seemed so different. I don't know a lot of Bible history. I don't have a lot of Scripture memorized. I don't understand why sometimes the Bible seems confusing and outdated. All I could say is a simple message "God is real and Jesus loves me...and you".

Now I'm crying all the time because I'm so overwhelmed with God's outpouring of love and blessings. In a short time He has performed miracle after miracle. There is no logical explanation for the heart surgery that has occurred in me. I have discovered I have more friends than I even knew I had! My support network had doubled in size. I'm also realizing I'm not alone in the pain. Woman after woman has shared from their heart. They've struggled in similar areas and now we can lock arms and fight together.

Just as you know there is a LOT more to this story but in writing I'm only willing to share so much. Feel free to call or stop by and visit and I can fill you in on the rest. God is good and I'd love to tell you about Him! After all, God is real and Jesus loves YOU!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Babysitter needed

Well, yesterday was very difficult for me. I don't know what caused it! I just had massive anxiety. My dear friend, Krista, prayed for me over the phone and that helped a LOT. I put on some good music and that calmed me. My hands were very jittery and I kept pacing. The only good thing that is coming from that is that I've already lost four pounds! Unfortunately, I made the mistake of taking my bedtime medicine a bit early and it knocked me out!! Michael wasn't home and the girls had to care for me. It scares me because I'm not sure if they got themselves into bed or if Michael did it.

I'm trying not to be impatient with my recovery but it isn't working. I'm frustrated that I'm not ALL better right NOW! So, if anyone has an hour or two to kill during the day and wants to come over or has time for a quick phone call feel free. Apparently I am in need of a babysitter for myself not the girls. My beautiful nurse, Becky, reminded me daily to ask for what I need. Not necessarily what I want...but what I need. So I'm asking :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Broken beyond repair?

Thank you for your prayers. God is still in the miracle working business! I have gone through a DEEP depression and am out more victorious than ever! Is the journey over? Am I done struggling? I doubt it because I'm not dead yet! As long as I'm living on this earth I have an enemy that would like nothing more than to steal, kill or destroy me. The victories that God is bringing about I'm sure are making the enemy very unhappy.

I was recently hospitalized for depression. It was a "beautiful" facility in West Burlington, IA. I just re-read that in October I had wanted to be hospitalized. I was crying out for help even then. Yet God's timing is PERFECT! Even though I know that His best is not to send me to the hospital He has used this situation for His glory! I hesitate sharing details only because I'm still emotionally raw from the experience. I want to have clarity of speech but I'm sure details will pour forth soon. All I can say is that God is real and that Jesus loves me (and YOU!). The message is simple yet so profound.

If you want to know the details now and can't wait for the next blog entry just let me know. I'll be glad to share but I'd prefer to do it in person if possible. God continues to hold me and I hope that *I* have finally learned to not let go of Him!!! After all right now I am broken...but not broken beyond repair. If anything I'm finally fixable and victorious. Like a skilled surgeon God had to make a deep cut so that He could get to the source of the disease within my heart. I'm still a bit shaken from the whole experience but looking forward to see what God does next!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

You NEVER Let Go!

When I began this blog my initial purpose was to record my weight loss. I wanted to be accountable. I also admit that I wanted the praise and words of encouragement. I had no idea that this journey would take me so much further than I ever wanted to go!

For many months, maybe even years, I have felt sick, forgotten and lost. I seriously contemplated checking into a hospital because I felt like I was losing my mind. I was identifying with social and leadership positions. Finding my hope and worth in the roles I had in MOPS, church and at the girls' school. As long as someone admired me then I felt I had some value. I didn't serve in those areas because God called me to do it. I served because I wanted people to notice me. I was addicted to their compliments. It was my main reason for cheerfully serving in as many areas as I could find. It truly didn't matter at what cost! I willingly served in order to silence the self hate I've carried around since I was a child.

God has taken most of the positions away for a variety of reasons. Although I am realizing the main purpose is for me to come face to face with Him. Just Him and I and nothing else. Am I willing and able to look at Him even if nothing or nobody else stand with me? Up until a few hours ago the answer would be "NO!!". If I let God truly see me then I will have to give up control. Now I realize that God sees all of me anyway but I deceive myself into thinking I can run away whenever I want to.

As the leadership roles I fulfilled were gone, I focused on physical changes I could make. I knew people would notice and encourage me. Unfortunately I became addicted to that instead. It is almost like a drug for me. Craving and desiring the attention above all else. Whenever my husband, Michael, wouldn't satisfy that desire I would turn to anyone and everyone else. Never once asking God what He thought. Actually, it never even crossed my mind or heart to ask Him.

So what is the result of living like this for so long? Complete and total misery! Feeling no real emotions. Functioning out of duty. Surviving but not thriving in any area or relationship. Hearing women try to speak God's truth into my life but not being able to process the meaning. It is almost as if they were speaking a foreign language. Nodding my head in agreement but feeling vacant on the inside. Going to church and trying to listen to the sermon but walking out feeling empty and more confused. Reading the Bible with no passion. Praying but not actively pursuing Him. It is an exhausting lifestyle!

Yet, God answered a lame prayer I said earlier this afternoon after a counseling session. As I sat in the car and started driving home I said "God are you still there? I want to feel something again". At that time there was no expectation that He would answer. Thankfully I was wrong it was just a matter of timing. I'm reading Gary Smalley and Karen Kingsbury's book "Redemption". I have identified in some way with most of the characters and their sinful choices hit me hard. One quote says "The more bad choices you make, the less bad your choices seem." I have chosen to avoid Christian music. I have chosen to skip a church service here and there. I have chosen to not read my Bible diligently and with passion. I have chosen to become cold towards my husband. I have chosen to live more and more isolated each and every day. I have chosen to stay in the pit of despair and "woe is me".

The other night I had a dream that the Lord and I were talking and I was half covered in black tar. He was gently trying to remove it and I wouldn't let Him. It terrified me to let it go! Even though it was hot, sticky and smelled. I wouldn't give it to Him. Why? Because even though it is painful it is a pain I am used to. It has become an idol in my life and heart. All day long I'm bombarded with thoughts of hopelessness and discouragement. What if I let go and that brings me to a place of vulnerability and true transparency. Are people going to be disappointed? Are they going to abandon me? Or worse am I going to be expected to be strong all the time? Besides, being in the pit causes people to tell me they are praying for me. It soothes my twisted ego. I finally get some attention again! So what if now people are feeling sorry for me or aching for me to return to the Lord? I also give myself the license to remain inactive. Why pray for myself when others are doing it for me? I allow myself to be lazy and convince myself that everything will be ok.

So what changed? I was reading in bed and decided the book was too good to put down so I went to the living room. Reading is one of the few things I have not become complacent about because I can avoid my life for a while. What I read hit me like a bulldozer!

"She (Kari) glanced at the wall in the entryway and saw the framed piece of needlepoint her grandmother had done decades earlier. The words stitched in a delicate faded lilac thread were a paraphrase of Philippians 3:13- "Forget what is behind. Press on to what is ahead." The words ran over and over in her heart, and Kari knew they held within them her only hope for surviving."

Those words pierced my heart and caused years of heart ache to burst open. Forget what is behind. It is true that I hold on to a lot of hurt, sin, mistakes, bad choices and disappointments. I can choose to forget it. Press on to what is ahead. I can choose to press on. I can choose to press on to Him! I get to decide. Even though I was still so scared I knelt down by the couch and cried and cried! Typically kneeling for me is excruciating because of my knee replacements. During that sweet time nothing in my body hurt. I haven't cried like that in a LONG time. I hadn't felt the presence of God so sweetly and tangibly like that in years! Even now I can barely hold back the tears. I opened my Bible for the first time in months actually wanting to read His word. I couldn't read anything because of the tears and the repentance that was flowing out of me. When I was finally able to read it seemed like each Scripture I "randomly" turned to was about putting on His strength, putting on His garment of salvation, putting on His joy. I have been given a choice. I can go through these circumstances feeling and acting like a victim and therefore naked. Or I can go through these circumstances with Him and through Him and therefore clothed in Him. The circumstances may not change but my attitude can and has. I haven't felt love for the Lord like this in so long I had forgotten what it was like. I know that emotions are deceiving and can disappear or change quickly but, honestly, it is amazing to feel alive again!! It is wonderful to cry and FEEL again! I can wholeheartedly say "Praise God!".

Thank you so much for reading this and for praying for me. As you can see it has penetrated through an extremely stubborn and spoiled heart. For those that read this and have no idea what it means to have a relationship with God. I ask that you'd be willing to seek Him. Be open to whatever He has for you. It may seem weird or scary but know that He is worth it and so are YOU!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Where'd I Go?

The positive comments are still pouring in. People comment on how much weight I've lost. Yet I continue to feel awful about my body. Why? Why am I still choosing to focus on the lies? Why do I smirk whenever someone gives me a compliment? I hear it but I don't let it penetrate to my heart. The opinion of others matters to me a great deal and yet I don't believe it. I have no answers regarding this behavior. Actually I just have more questions.

A few days ago I was feeling really down about myself. I happened to come across the pants I used to wear years ago. They are a size 26 and they used to be very tight. I kept them to remind myself how I used to be but I hadn't looked at them in a LONG time. The girls were completely shocked! They had a fabulous time trying on my pants. They thought it was unbelievable that they both fit into them and there was still room for one more small child.

I truly don't know how much I weigh because I don't weigh myself anymore. It is too depressing. Watching my weight fluctuate is enough to cause a nervous breakdown. All of my clothes are big but not enough to warrant going shopping for a whole new wardrobe. I have bought a few new pairs of pants because the old ones were literally falling off! Even though I bought pants that were one size smaller I still wouldn't allow myself to be happy about it. Again...I have no answers about this mental war.

I thought you'd enjoy seeing some pictures. I know I did. I think I may just have to stare at these on a regular basis. Maybe if I do the truth will set in! I hope to celebrate soon regardless of the circumstances.
I really thank you for your prayers as my journey continues. Thank you to those that have said I have inspired them. I want my life to reflect what God is doing for me through the struggles and the victories. By far that is the best compliment of all!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Celebrating the Beauty Within

There are so many times when all I see is my ugliness, fat, failures and shortcomings. Thankfully today was not one of those days. For quite some time people have been noticing that I've been losing weight. I've been very slow to see it in myself. Cristina has commented that my pants are too big. I've just been getting used to wearing baggy clothes and not really thinking too much about it. Tonight I went out to eat with a friend of mine and then decided to go to Kohl's. Kohl's and I have a love/hate relationship. I either find a lot of clothes or I find nothing at all. The last time I went shopping I was too large for the regular sizes but too small for the plus sizes. It was extremely frustrating! I've also discovered that not all sizes are created equal. A size 18 pant in one brand fits just fine but in another brand is way too tight. Who designs these clothes and the sizing system? Well I was very excited to find a size 14 that I could wear. Woo hoo!! I just about cried in the dressing room.

I went to check out with my purchase feeling like a million bucks. The cashier asked me if I found everything ok. I couldn't contain my excitement and I briefly told her about my journey. She shared with me her frustrations and failures. I was able to encourage her and hopefully cheer her up. She is a lovely gal and I never noticed her size at all. As I was talking to her it struck me that most people don't notice my size either. However, they can see my attitude and how I carry myself. It either glows and I'm radiant or it is dull and I am drab and dreary. So, as I spoke with the cashier I told her to "celebrate the beauty within". Each of us carry a piece of God within us and we are His beloved. It isn't easy to believe and live out but we are worth the effort!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Defines You?

Do you know what defines you? I'm realizing that all of my life I have defined myself as the fat girl. Nothing more and nothing less. I have always thought about my weight. It has always been a part of what I think about. Those thoughts have consumed me! It has hindered me in more ways than I can describe at this point. In school I was always the fat girl. I vividly remember sitting on the sidelines during gym class. I had a doctor's excuse, because of my bad hips, to get me out of many activities but it was my weight that was the problem. I never had the endurance or stamina to do the simplest tasks. I never went to any school dances because I was fat. I didn't have any confidence or self esteem. I didn't dare try out for sports. Low self esteem also became my excuse for not participating in any clubs.

Those feelings have not magically disappeared despite the fact that I'm not at my heaviest weight anymore. I have not had the emotional breakthrough that I desire. The few breakthroughs I have had don't last very long. I still see myself as the fat girl. I keep thinking that if I reach a certain number on the scale THEN I'll finally be happy. Then and only then will I be able to love my husband as he deserves. Only then will I be able to be a true friend. Only then will I be able to participate in my girls' activities. I still don't see myself as worthy or capable. I don't see greatness within myself. I can't visualize myself as well able to finish on this journey.

In the past week I have had a lot of anxiety and sleepless nights. Continuous self beatings and self doubt. A lot of screaming and a lot of tears. I wonder what is wrong with me? I'm on edge a lot and the mood swings flare with no warning. I'm sure I've been driving my husband crazy. (Sorry Michael!)

So now what? Well, after a short conversation with coach, Peg, I realized THIS right here is my defining moment. I can do what I've always done which is to give up. Or I can dig down deep and keep on keeping on. There are a lot of things in my life where I've had no choice. I've been a victim in a variety of cases but this is not one of those times. I can honestly say that I don't feel that strength. So many others encourage me and see greatness in me but I'm blinded to it. I don't see it and I don't feel it so therefore I don't live it out. However, there must be some fight left in me or I wouldn't be sharing this here in such a public way. It doesn't seem like much right now but it will have to do!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sometimes forgetting is a GOOD thing!

Yesterday I went to the dentist. As I sat in the chair getting ready for my exam the hygienist asked me "Did you take your Pre-meds ok?" My stomach clenched "Oh no! I forgot!"

Due to my bilateral knee and hip replacements I have to take pre-meds prior to any dental procedure. Since I've been exercising and slowly losing weight I'm glad to report that my knees and hips don't hurt as often. In 4 1/2 years I have never forgotten my pre-meds. The pain has always been consistent and therefore I've always remembered. I am convinced that this time forgetting is a GOOD thing!

Progress! Woo hoo!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Live Loved!

I haven't shared in a while because I am annoyed! I just want off of this roller coaster ride. I'm very tired of looking deep within myself. Self examination is like having to be awake during open heart surgery! Blech! It ain't pretty and I think anesthesia was invented for a reason. There are too many times when I just want to eat and not have to think first. I'm tired of thinking or looking for the scale to reaffirm my efforts. Seeking validation in all the wrong places is exhausting!

So, after my temper tantrum what do I do? First, I try to laugh at myself for being so ridiculous. It doesn't work all too well but I do try. Then, I turn to my accountability partner so she can pray with me. Last (which should've been first) I turn to the Word of God. I found this Scripture and I hope it blesses you too!

Psalm 18:28-34
You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to stand on the heights.

I obviously know that this isn't about David's weight issues, or mine for that matter, yet it still brings me comfort. Ever so slowly I see that God is my shield. He is anxious to protect me from the voices within my broken heart that tell me I'm a failure. He wants for me to see myself as He sees me. He truly is the lover of my soul! The biggest challenge set before me has nothing to do with weight, food, exercise or relationships. The challenge is to "live loved". If I really understood that God loves me how would I live? Do I even know what that means? To be loved unconditionally and uncontrollably and with great passion. Each day He pursues me and desires me. If I knew deep within myself that I am the adoration of the Most High I would probably live confidently. I wouldn't measure my success on outward appearance, numbers on a scale, or the size of my clothes. I would endeavor to live healthy but it wouldn't be out of obligation or fear. I would no longer be afraid of the ones that I think are judging me. I would not longer have a need to judge myself. So, I find myself at yet another cross road. Am I going to choose to "live loved" or not? As with everything else I'm currently doing on my journey to health it isn't a Yes/No decision. The process and progress may seem slow but I have to admit it is worth it!

FYI - Current weight 217 lbs

Monday, February 15, 2010

Keep Breathing!

I was recently asked how I'm doing on my journey to health because "I look amazing!". I smiled politely at the comment but didn't really have a response. I don't feel amazing and when I look in the mirror 'amazing' is not a word I would use. As a matter of fact, partly due to illness and mostly due to choice I haven't gone to the gym in over 8 days. (I stopped counting at 6) Even though I'm not eating a lot I am not currently making good food choices. I am still skipping breakfast and eating late at night. I also seem to be developing a heart of indifference which scares me! Why have I lost heart? Mainly because I am tired! Being overweight is so much easier. You eat whatever you want, whenever you want it and you sit around a lot. How hard is that?! Oh and of course you make up a million excuses along the way. At least that is the way it has always been for me. That is the pattern that I am used to following. Now I have to decide what I eat, when I eat and how much to eat. I am trying to train myself to really think about my life choices. Well, this is an exhausting process!

I am also discovering things within myself that I don't care to see. I am not a true fighter, I am a quitter. I only say that because of my track record. When college got too difficult, due to health issues, I just gave up and assumed I couldn't do it. When friendships get complicated I tend to back off. If a cleaning job is too overwhelming then I just hope that someone else will see the mess and do it for me. If my marriage starts to "suck" (as I once described at a MOPS Convention) then I just let it. If my hips start to hurt, even slightly, then I will stop exercising. If diet and exercise begin to get too hard then I retreat within myself with my favorite companions - food and laziness. I also play my favorite game "The Blame Game" because it has to be someone else's fault. It has to be genetics, environment, my spouse, my hips, my upbringing. The list could go on forever because in the Blame Game there is no end and there is no winner. I'm sure I have said this before but this is currently where I am on my journey. It is not easy to see these flaws, yet, I am slowly learning something about myself. The longer I keep quiet about anything I am going through the stronger the desire to keep quiet. The more I try to hide then the more damage I do to myself.

So I am coming out of hiding! I clearly recognize the signs of depression within my heart and today is the day I choose to stop. I'm not going to fix everything that is currently tormenting me in one moment or with one prayer. My goal for today is simple - keep breathing. It may sound simple but in the midst of depression this is actually a very difficult task. It requires for me to see hope. It forces me to see the good within myself and those around me. It forces me to give up the right I think I have to blame everyone for my anxiety. It forces me to take responsibility for my own actions. With each breath is a choice to live, to trust, to love, and to allow myself to be loved. So, for today, I am going to keep on breathing!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

NEVER say never

Things I never thought I would say or do -

1. I never thought I'd be exercising every day!
2. I never thought I would wish that Zumba was more often.
3. I never thought I'd actually TELL people how much I weigh.
4. I never believed I could do more than 1 minute on the elliptical.
5. I never knew that vegetables actually had a good taste.
6. I never knew that I wouldn't miss chocolate.
7. I never thought that I'd dream of the day when I can participate in a Breast Cancer awareness walk. (This is one of my future goals!)
8. I never knew that my life could inspire other people.
9. I NEVER thought I'd confess my sins, struggles, and concerns in a public forum.
10. I never thought I would enjoy munching on broccoli, spinach and sunflower seeds during the Playoff games.
11. I never knew that reading a fitness magazine would actually be interesting instead of really annoying.
12. I never knew how much my girls are really watching what I do (and my attitude).
13. I never believed I would plan my activities around my time at the gym.
14. I never thought I'd exercise while watching football instead of just sitting and eating.
15. I never knew that I'd enjoy weighing my food.
16. I never thought I'd keep a food journal (Although I need to do better!)
17. I never thought I'd look forward to meeting with my coach Peg at Ladies Workout Express.
18. I never thought I'd be able to zip up my jeans and not have to hold my breath in the process.
19. I never believed that I'd be able to exercise for 45 minutes. The first day I did a mile on the exercise bike and felt faint!
20. My biggest surprise was when I went to the doctor a few weeks ago and I ASKED to be weighed! I NEVER EVER thought I'd do that! It just goes to show that we should NEVER say never!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wait vs Weight

As my health journey continues, I keep trying to convey to my girls that it isn't about my weight. I'm not as concerned about how I look but more about how I feel. It was my attempt to try to convey a positive body image. I don't want them to be burdened with thinking they are fat in any way. As women, we go through enough of that and I don't need to start my girls on that anytime soon. We spend so much of our lives comparing ourselves to other women. I want them to see themselves as cherished and loved no matter what their outward appearance. However, I do want them to exercise and eat healthy so that they can have a full life as God intended.

While the message I was sending them had good intentions behind it I realized I was not fully honest with them. I also wasn't being honest with myself. I was beginning to get consumed with my weight loss. Why won't the scale budge? What am I doing wrong? Is it my exercise routine? Is it my nutrition? WHAT is the problem? Yesterday I was challenged while talking with a friend. She confessed that at times she reaches for food to fill a void and not hunger. I know I do that quite a bit and quite frequently. I also realized that I was trying to find my value in my weight loss. After all, isn't that the true measure of success? If you exercise and eat right then losing weight is the most natural outcome, right? Well for me the weight loss has been very slow. It has been very frustrating and quite annoying. I felt like a failure! It was as if all those that I have inspired would be disappointed in me. I also didn't want to admit that I was struggling but it was really obvious.

I also realized that I didn't want to turn this over to God. I didn't want to face the fact that I was placing my self worth in my weight. I also didn't want to wait on Him and serve Him through this process. I want results and I want them NOW! I don't want to have to wait for anything. I can blame our microwave/drive-thru society but it is the condition of my own heart. Right now I am still lazy and I don't want to work for the results.

This morning I felt a bit convicted about it all. Am I really going to be happy if I never lose another ounce? Am I willing to trust God in this journey? Am I going to seek Him as the lover of my soul (and body)? Well I wish I could say I screamed a resounding "YES!". My answer was quite wimpy as I asked God to help me with my unbelief. I believe He was just waiting for me to turn to Him and ask for help. Today at the gym I reached a new personal best. I worked out for 1 1/2 hours and returned tonight for Zumba dance class. I am tired and yet I feel alive!

As you can see this journey has many ups and downs and I'm glad I'm not alone through it all. I am so thankful for each of you that take time to pray for me or encourage me. It is making all the difference. Plus I am thrilled to report that I've lost about 1/2 an inch all over. Plus my weight last week was 224.8 lbs and now I am 222.6 lbs! Hooray!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

May I Have This Dance?

About 15 years ago (maybe longer) every Friday and Saturday night was spent out on the dance floor. My friends, Dana, Kim and I would have many drinks and many dances. It was a wild time! I don't miss the drinking but I miss the excitement of being out on the dance floor. I used to have great rhythm!

Tonight that passion was rekindled in a strange way. I went to the gym to workout and found ladies gathering for a Zumba class. I peeked in on a class last week and thought "I'd never do that!" I was immediately confronted with my feelings of inadequacy and feeling left out. The same old song playing in my head "You aren't good enough. You aren't able to do it. You'll look stupid. Everyone will laugh at you. They won't want you in the class with them". ARGH! I had to take a deep breath and started talking to one of the ladies in the class. Krista was very encouraging and she introduced me to some other gals. Soon the five of them were encouraging me and before I knew it I was meeting the instructor. My head was swimming and I don't remember his name. He told me to just take it easy and do the best that I could. He would provide options throughout the dances for beginners.

I wish I could say that my confidence level was high and I danced my heart out. Well, I stood in the back row and just focused on my breathing. My heart rate was high before the music even started! Once the Latin beat began I decided to just have fun. Of course watching myself in the HUGE mirror made that a bit difficult! I was surprised to find myself keeping up with some of the steps. I was also surprised because many of the other ladies couldn't keep up with everything either but they were having fun. As the instructor kept telling us were were 'hot mamas' and the laughter roared it was so much easier. As the hour flew by I realized I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit. I sweat and I'm very sore but I DID IT!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

STOP The Insanity!

Hitting a major roadblock tonight. I still haven't figured out the underlying trigger. Basically, I want to quit! I'm done! Get me off of this merry go round because I can't take it anymore!!!

Ok, glad to get that off of my chest. I have been expecting to hit this emotional wall. In the past this is where discouragement gets the best of me and I run away and hide. Some of you have experienced this hiding process and cringe at the thought of it happening again. Others have never seen me go into hiding because I'm quite good at covering it up. I am good at putting on my game face when it is necessary. However, I vowed to be honest so here I am.

I've been exercising every day and the scale is not moving hardly at all. I am so frustrated! What in the world am I doing wrong? It has to be my food but I've cut my portions. I stay away from obvious fat and sugar choices. The only thing I haven't really watched is my sodium intake. I'm keeping up with at least 6-8 glasses daily. So why or why is that scale not moving?! Ugh!! I think I may need professional help. Maybe a priest with anointing oil like in the '70s movie The Exorcist. All kidding aside, I am really down about this and I'm sure the stress isn't helping. I am still waiting for the endorphins to kick in that are supposed to help my mood. So far I'm not any chipper than I was before. As a matter of fact I think I'm having more emotional ups and downs since this process started.

So where do I go from here? Well the old me would say "to the candy jar, FatMan". I'm glad to say that I don't listen to that anymore (at least not today). I'm not giving up! For once in my life I am digging down deeper than I ever have in my entire life. Tonight I took the girls to the gym with me. I did 20 minutes on the circuit. I would have done more but they had a class tonight so I had to move. I did 30 minutes on the recumbent bike which translates into 6.5 miles (personal best!). I also came home and did another 4 miles on my stationary bike because I was so mad at the scale. This is the first time I chose to do more exercise instead of eating. Amazing!

Am I still frustrated even after venting here? Of course! Am I going to give up? No way! I have way too much invested in this journey. I think this was a mini pop quiz tonight to see if I am in it for the long haul. Well, I am thrilled to report that Yes I AM!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Calories, Carbs and Fat....Oh My!

My head is swimming with information regarding calories, carbs and fat. Keeping track of sugar, protein and sodium is a close second. No wonder I'm fat! It is SO MUCH EASIER to eat processed food with ingredients I can't pronounce. I don't have to think about a thing. Now that I am really trying to watch what I eat I am getting a bit frustrated and almost paranoid. I don't want to over eat yet I want to enjoy what I am eating. Where is the balance? If anyone has a good suggestion please let me know. For a moment I was starting to get a bit depressed about it. I realized I'm losing my focus. This journey isn't just about weight loss it is about surrendering myself to the Lord. Although that sounds so cliche it is the truth. My deepest desire is to turn to Him long before I turn to food for satisfaction, validation or comfort.

I have to continuously remind myself to focus on the current step I am on. I don't want to worry about the million steps I have yet to take. All I am responsible for is today! So how did I do today? It is Sunday which, in the fall , has always meant church and then hours and hours of football and snacks. The girls and I interact very little and lately Michael has been at work. Well, we changed things up a little bit. All of us went to church but then the girls and I went to the gym. I worked out for almost an hour. I treated myself to 30 minutes in the infrared sauna. It was amazing! I am noticing that I am able to stand for longer periods of time. I'm also not completely fatigued when we get home from the gym. Progress, progress, progress!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I don't wanna!

"I don't wanna!" Those were the words Victoria cried out to me when she didn't want to review her spelling words. The freshly fallen snow was calling her name. I tried to convey to her that if we got her work done quickly then she'd have the rest of the day to play. She was only focusing on what she was missing out on and the work load in front of her. I admit that I was beginning to get frustrated. I was also sad because she was sad. However, I realized that life is full of things we have to do that aren't always fun. We can't always avoid things but we can control our attitude.

I got to thinking about my health journey. I really don't like going to the gym. I don't like exercising. I don't like sharing in a public forum. I don't like counting calories and measuring my food intake. Was this going to be my life forever? Just like Victoria had to review her spelling words when she didn't want to I also have things to do that I don't want to do. Is it going to be forever? In her case it took just 20 minutes. If I adjust my attitude it won't feel like forever in the negative way. In time my body will begin to crave the healthier things. I can't see that right now but I don't have to see it to believe it. (Hmm...that sounds like a Bible verse!) It only seems like forever because my goal seems unattainable. As my coach, Peg, suggested I need to work on long AND short term goals. I need to be able to see progress or I will get discouraged. I have a few things in mind but the immediate goal is to get a journal. I have to write down my goals and set a target date. When I used to sell Tupperware one of the mottos was "a goal without a date is just a dream." I don't want to dream about a healthy life I want to LIVE a healthy life.

For those that are curious right now I weight 224.8 lbs :) Over the holidays I got rid of 5 lbs! I dropped 2 inches off of my waist. My tight jeans are no longer tight anymore. My next goal is to be out of the 220's by my mother's birthday on January 28th. Keep praying because it is obviously working!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Did *I* do that?

Harsh reality stared me in the face the other day. I'm addicted to food. I believe this is no different than anyone addicted to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, or pornography. The addiction is strong and the excuses are lengthy. My upbringing, environment, genetics, blah blah blah. The truth is I obsessively desire food and turn to it for personal fulfillment and satisfaction.

Years ago I had a friend that was/is an alcoholic. He'd wake up with bottles around him and he'd have no memory of drinking that much. He denied that he had a real problem even though the evidence was clear. I used to sit on my judgement seat and wonder how he could do that to himself. Well, apparently I'm no different! The other day I was cleaning my room. I was vacuuming under the bed and by my nightstand I found a variety of food wrappers. I was shocked and my first instinct was that it must have been my girls. Surely it couldn't be ME?! Right? Well I'm sad to report it was me. As I sat and cried for quite some time I realized that I have tremendous willpower when I'm with people. However, my addiction is strong and it has overpowered me when I'm alone. So what does this mean? Am I never to be left alone again? Of course not! It means that I refuse to allow myself to feel alone. By opening myself up on this blog, on Facebook, and in person I am finally using the resources that God has had in place for me all along.

I am SLOWLY learning that God has never intended for me to lead an isolated life. He has put amazing people in my path to learn from them and be encouraged. I have chosen to hide as best I can and I really thought that by hiding I'd be safe. Little did I realize how much danger there is in the darkness. Shame, guilt, fear of rejection, self loathing, and fear kept me shackled. It is amazing how in just a few short days my mind is being renewed. By exposing my sin, struggles, fears and my victories I feel lighter than I have in years. Obviously I'd love to hit my goal weight but it is far more important to me that my heart and mind be healed first. In the meantime though...."HI, My name is Marcie and I'm a food-aholic"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

2010? Wow! A brand new year. Filled with hope, promise and a certain level of excitement. I'm not fully sure why I always feel like I've been given a second chance. It feels like the slate is clean again. Maybe this year will be different. This could be the year that I finally ..... (fill in the blank). In my case the issue closest to my heart is weight loss. Before I continue, as you read this please pray for me. Sharing these issues is not easy for me at all! I also know I'm in the toughest battle of my life. I can't do it alone and firmly believe that the only way I'm going to have a breakthrough is through prayer. So, anytime I come to your mind please just take a moment.

My journey began in my childhood. I was always chubby and quickly became the fat girl of the class. The years passed and the pounds kept piling on. I have been on quite a variety of diets and exercise plans. I've never had the follow through to keep up with any of them. In 2003, reality hit me in the face like a Mack truck! I calculated my BMI (body mass index) and I was 44 which classified me as severely morbidly obese. Those words rang in my head over and over again. I knew I was fat, but obese? Not only obese but severely morbidly?!! WHAT?!!! How in the world did that happen? How had I gotten so out of control? Was I secretly hoping to die? I had always hidden behind my weight but I had never gotten lost in the process. Well, I was wrong I was completely lost and needed serious help. In July 2003 I had a gastric bypass. I was a size 26 and the day of my surgery I was 312 lbs.

I lost weight quickly and thought it would resolve all the emotional issues I had hidden. I really thought this was the answer to all my prayers. God had finally heard me and I'd receive peace! I believed that joy would finally come and be mine. By the time I reached my 1 year surgery anniversary I weighed 175 lbs. Unfortunately I didn't maintain that weight. I started gaining weight again because I had made weight loss my new god. As long as I was losing weight I had joy and fulfillment. My food intake was easy because the surgery had forced me to eat smart and eat less. Due to joint pain and many excuses I didn't exercise like I should have and didn't have lasting results.

Honestly, I had given up and I figured this was my true destiny. I'm glad to report that God never gives up on us! I'm sure that He spoke to me many times but on June 23, 2009 I was finally ready to listen. I woke up and had the thought "Get up and exercise". Anyone that knows me well knows this would have to be a God given thought! Yet, the thought wouldn't go away and I got up and used my stationary bike. Up until that point it had become a clothes hanger/dryer. I got on and felt like I was going to throw up and could barely do a mile. I ached all over and wondered why in the world I was purposely causing myself pain. The next day, the thought came again. For several months I was exercising about 4-6 times a week. I joined Ladies Workout Express and continued to feel motivated to MOVE.

Back in September I attended the MOPS International Convention in Nashville, TN. In the past Convention always meant a lot of walking and a LOT of pain. I consumed Tylenol like they were breath mints. However, this time was completely different! I was able to walk and not get out of breath. A few times I opted to use the stairs instead of the elevator. I was beginning to feel a bit more energy. My clothes were feeling a bit better and my smile was a bit bigger. I honestly wish I could say I had mastered the beast of lethargy, overeating and depression. At that time I had just scraped the surface. I didn't realize that I had so many hidden issues buried within my heart. I always knew that I'm an emotional eater but I didn't realize what triggers me. In October I could feel depression kicking in but I didn't have the tools to stop it. This coincided with my having opportunities to share my life story at Hearts in Touch and at a MOPS group. My biggest enemy was and is silence which is why I'm opening up now. I want to expose my struggles, fears, and needs. I have proven time and time again that I can't do this alone! I still don't have a grasp on what my emotional triggers are but I'm willing to work on finding out.

I'm getting a bit better at exercising but my frustration continues to grow. The scale has not moved much since June. I started at 236 lbs and now weigh 229 lbs. I was on some medications and that was part of the cause. Now that I now longer take that medicine I was hoping to see some weight loss and I haven't yet. It is very difficult to continue on the journey which seems to have no rewards. Thankfully, Cristina and Victoria have supported me since Day 1. They constantly ask me to exercise, or they will bring me another glass of water, or smile if I reach for a piece of candy. Sometimes they will even exercise with me and cheer me on. I am very grateful for them!

I happened to hear David Venable, a QVC host, say "Throw out your New Year's resolutions and let us stop focusing on what we have to lose and focus on what we have to gain this year." I have no idea what he was promoting but his words struck me! I want to focus on what God has in store for me and all that He wants me to gain through this process.