Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Rules

I was very amused to find that the strongest reaction to my most recent blog came from my older brother. He pointed out to me that while I may think that I am distancing myself from organized religion, my Christian background is still very much in evidence. He's not wrong.
My statement that I don't consider myself to be religious wasn't intended to discredit my upbringing- which included church services every single Sunday from the time that I was born until I was a sophomore or junior in high school. I am extremely grateful to my parents for providing me with that education, and even more grateful to them for allowing me the freedom to make my own decisions about what to do with that education once I was old enough to begin forming my own opinions.
Since then, I have studied religion both formally and informally in various ways. I am a knowledge seeker. I believe in asking questions. I have been fortunate to have been exposed to many people from a variety of different cultures over the years. I've always tried to learn as much about them and their beliefs as I can within the constraints of time and circumstances.
I tell you all of this because in order to begin to understand a person you need to understand their background. Our personal morals and beliefs are formed by our experiences in the world. We all have different experiences, so we all have different beliefs.
Many, many arguments start because people don't understand each other. We misinterpret the actions of others because we expect them to think the same way that we do. We forget that their view of the world is different from our own.
If you want to understand me, you have to know my rules.
These are the rules that I live by. That's not to say that I expect anyone else to agree...this is just my own personal code of conduct and the message I hope that my daughter receives.
1. ALL people are equally deserving of love and respect. There are no bad people, only bad decisions.
2. do not judge another person's actions until you have a solid understanding of their circumstances
3. treat other people the way that you would want to be treated in identical circumstances
4. honesty is always the best policy...but there is such a thing as tact. Never lie, but be as empathetic as possible when sharing the truth. Forgiveness is easier to gain than trust.
5. Always take responsibility for your actions. Everyone messes up. If you mess up, own it and be prepared to deal with the consequences. Remember that it is OK to ask for help. There is a reason that families exist.
6. Never, EVER have sex with anyone you are not prepared to raise a child with.
7. People come first. Chores and "things" can wait.
8. Your character is only as strong as your word. Never make promises lightly.
9. The energy that you put out into the world is the energy that will come back to SMILE.

That's me in a nutshell. If you are ever unsure of where I am coming from it's a pretty safe bet that my actions stem from this set of rules.

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Do you ever have a day where you feel like every single moment has been specifically designed to teach you something?
Today has been full of reminders of just how very fortunate I am. Things that make me feel as though for one reason or another I have been blessed with an amazingly beautiful life.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about it today. Specifically thinking about that word...blessed, and all of it's connotations.
Everyone knows that there are a few topics that are guaranteed hot buttons. Topics best avoided, unless you are prepared to deal with arguments, hurt feelings, rage, etc. I am not a huge fan of conflict, so I tend to avoid those topics as much as possible.
Not today. Today I feel like I need to share some of my personal beliefs. I don't know if it's just because I need to think out loud, if I'm looking for people to back me up, or if I'm just plain crazy...but here I am, whatever the reason may be.
First of all, let me say that I don't consider myself to be a religious person. Actually, I pretty much steer as far clear of organized religion as I can. I struggle with the whole "if you don't believe exactly what I believe then you are destined to spend an eternity burning in hell" thing. I don't understand that frame of all. I can't comprehend how anyone could possibly believe that they have it all figured out.
"Well, it's all written plain as day in this book here. See?!"
Nope. Sorry. I don't see. I see a book (books with an s actually if we're going to be completely candid) that was written by men thousands of years ago that has as many interpretations as it has chapters. I see a book of stories that exist to teach lessons...stories much the same as Aesop's fables.
Does that mean that I don't believe in God? Maybe? The honest answer is that I'm really not sure.
I believe that there are many, many things about life that I simply can not explain. Things that I don't feel science has been able to explain up to this point either. I would like to believe that our existence on this planet has a purpose, but I certainly would never be pompous enough to think that I could begin to understand what that purpose might be.
I believe that there is some sort of "force" that surrounds us all. You can call it God if you want, Allah, Jehovah, Buddha, Yahweh...I really don't care. To me it doesn't have a name. It just IS.
I believe in the power of positive thinking. I believe that prayer works. I get hung up on that word too...prayer. That's another word that is just loaded with connotations, isn't it? How can you say you aren't religious, but you believe in the power of prayer? Don't those two statements contradict each other? Possibly, but not in my mind. To me prayer is just a word for sending positive vibes out into the universe...into that mysterious, unnamed force.
I believe that what you put out into the world comes back to you. I don't think that necessarily means that people who are suffering have done something horrible to bring the suffering upon themselves. I think that sometimes we have to suffer in order to learn, and to fully appreciate the good in life.
When people tell me about things happening in their life that are causing them distress I do the only thing that I know how to do. I tell them that I am here for them, and then I pray. I pray that everything works out the way that it is meant to, and that somehow no matter what happens they are able to come to terms with the results as quickly as possible so that they can move on and be happy in their lives.
I've been thinking about these beliefs all day. Thinking about how fortunate I am to have never truly suffered a day in my life. One look at my twitter timeline is all it takes to reaffirm that notion. There is just so much suffering in the world. It's heart breaking to even think about it.
I've been thinking about all of the people in the world who are truly struggling just to survive, and putting my own private struggles into perspective. When I think of all of those people, and think about my own life and how carefree and easy it has always been comparatively, it seems next to impossible to deny that I have blessed beyond measure.
I can't pretend to know why, and I don't think that I should even question it. I think that the only thing that I can do is be grateful for all that I have been given, and find some way to pay it forward.
I would love to hear what some of you do in your lives to give thanks for your own blessings.

Be well, be kind, and smile lots

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Oh dear. I haven't been very good about keeping up with this blog, have I?
I'll try to do a better job from here on out, but here's the scoop for now-

Shortly after my most recent blog I went on vacation with my family. We drove cross country to the Chicago area from Maine...which meant that we spent most of our vacation in the car. Not entirely conducive to eating well and exercising regularly. I decided pretty much right away that I wasn't even going to try to keep track of things while we were on vacation. I knew that there was a good chance that I would gain weight during our time on the road, but I decided that I was willing to take the risk.
I was thrilled when I stepped on the scale the first morning back home and discovered that I'd only gained a few ounces! I promised myself that I was going to get right back into my routine immediately.
Easier said then done. Our homecoming coincided with the first heatwave of the summer...and we didn't own an air conditioner. Add a healthy dose of PMS to the equation &...well, I'm sure you get the point.
I gained about 3 lbs in the few weeks that followed, but I was determined to get back into my groove. Last week I finally got serious & managed to lose just under 5 lbs. Yay!
This week I've been struggling a bit again. I haven't been feeling great and my energy level has been practically non existent. I've been eating pretty well, and I did get some exercise in this week, but not as much as I would have liked.
I think part of the issue has been that my husband has been out of town, and I haven't been needed at work...which means that I have no routine. No motivation to get up early & get going. Ciara is home for the summer and she's perfectly happy to sleep in until 8-8:30 every morning as well.
I CAN'T keep being so lackadaisical about this...I need a plan.
Here are my goals for next week:
Set my alarm for 6:30 am every morning (& actually GET UP!)
Get a workout in before Ciara wakes up (at least 3 days)
Plan meals for each day so I'm not just winging it
Get back to tracking every bite (I've been a little too casual about this the last few weeks...not to the point where it would derail me, but it's not a good habit to get into regardless)

This is my mantra this week...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

10 weeks in

This is the final week of the Healthy Habits Challenge that my friends and I have been doing on Facebook so it seems like a good time to update.
I just started my 11th week of Weight Watchers, and as of yesterday I have lost 20 lbs since I began.
I have also gone down 2 dress sizes...which is fabulous except that it's difficult to find clothes to wear every day. I'm hesitant to buy anything new because I sincerely hope that nothing will fit for very long. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be living in maxi dresses all summer!
I feel great and I've actually reached the point where I enjoy exercising. I honestly never thought I'd be able to say that. I still struggle with some things physically, but that just makes me more determined to conquer those challenges.
I've learned to like many foods that I used to dislike intensely. I don't know what that's all about, but it's like someone flipped a switch in my brain and suddenly things just taste better. Which is very helpful, because it's difficult to be healthy when you don't like vegetables.
So that's the scoop really. Things are going great (though never has quickly as I'd like). I feel terrific. I've reached a point of comfort. I am mindful of what I put in my mouth, but not so mindful that I don't allow myself to enjoy eating. I feel like a new me...a me that I like very much.

Current stats
Weight 273.6lbs
Waist 46.5"
Chest 42"
Bust 46.5"
Hips 50.5"
Thigh 28.5"
Arm 16.5"
Neck 15"

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I did it! I reached my first weight loss goal.
I officially weigh 5% less than I did when I joined weight watchers a little less than 2 months ago.
My other unofficial 1st goal was to be able to wear my wedding rings again...and I am ALMOST there!
This morning I was able to get my wedding ring all the way on my finger. It's still too tight to wear, and I wasn't able to put on my engagement ring with it- but it won't be much longer before they are back where they belong.
So now my new goal is to lose another 10%...which would put me at 248 lbs. I haven't seen that number on a scale since just after Ciara was born. (I lost 30 lbs while pregnant, but quickly gained it back...& then some)
I'm hoping that I can achieve this goal before the end of the summer. If I maintain my current rate of weight loss then I should reach that goal around mid-August.
A big part of me wishes that it would happen faster, but I know that in the long run it will be better for me to continue taking it slow. Actually, according to Weight Watchers, I'm STILL losing too quickly. They recommend a range of .5-2lbs/week.
I will update again soon with photos & measurements. I don't feel like I look any different, but I have noticed a slight difference in how my clothes are fitting, and other people say they can tell I'm losing weight.

Thanks for all of the support!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pushing forward

Last week I allowed myself to have a little meltdown. I gave myself one minute to cry, and then I wiped away the tears, got up, and pushed forward with a new outlook.
This week I decided not to think about the scale, or formulas, or systems...I decided to just listen to my body and get it done one choice at a time. I ate what felt good. I didn't deprive myself of anything, but ate thoughtfully.
Guess what? IT WORKED! I lost 5.6 lbs! 
My other goal this week was to begin focusing on my physical fitness...because this isn't just about getting thin, it's about getting healthy. I want to be able to play with my daughter and nieces. Really play. I want to go for hikes with my brother and sister and not worry about slowing them down. I want to feel good in my body.
So I continued walking as much as possible, and I also purchased the Weight Watchers workout DVDs. I considered going to the YMCA where I have a membership to use their facilities and equipment, but then I realized that I would be entirely too self conscious there. At this point I'm far more comfortable working out at home by myself.
The DVD's didn't arrive until the end of the week, but I couldn't wait to try them out once they were here. I started off with the beginner basic stretch routine, and was pleased that I was able to do it all without any issues. However, when I moved on to the full cardio stretch I found that the same could not be said. I did my best to keep up for as long as I could, but I'm just not there yet...back to basics.
I also tried out the basic cardio workout. Got through that no problem so I tried the express workout as well. Again I discovered that there were a few things that my body is just not ready to do yet, but I was able to find other ways to continue through until they went into the next sequence of movements.
I'm a bit disgusted with myself for allowing myself to get this out of shape...but I can't change what has already happened, I can only make better choices going forward. And that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just a number

A Twitter friend of mine shared this with me last night and I thought it was worth passing along...
(I told you I have an amazing support system)

Thank you for the reminder!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Set backs shmet backs

Yesterday I had a little bit of a meltdown.
Thankfully I have a lot of really amazing friends to talk me out of my funk.
I'm really thrilled about all of the changes that I've made. Eating better feels good and I have no desire to go back to the way things were before...but seeing the numbers on the scale going in the wrong direction is the ultimate form of torture.
If I was "cheating" it wouldn't bother me because there would be an explanation that makes sense to me...but on paper, I'm doing everything right. I'm following the plan. Since everyone thought the issue might be that my body was going into "starvation mode", I tried the "Wendie plan" this week. I used up all of my regular points and a bunch of the extra points as well. I did it eating mostly fruits and vegetables, with healthy proteins and carbs thrown in, and I've been drinking lots of water. I did have some KFC one day because I didn't have time to go home and cook myself dinner and that was what I was craving at the time. However, I had small portions and stuck within my points for that day.
I have also been making sure to get up and move as much as my schedule allows me to. I haven't done any real workouts, but I've been walking a lot and going for hikes when I am able to, and not just sitting around the house like I used to do.
I'm fully committed to staying healthy. Not just because I want to lose weight, but because it feels good and because I want to really live. I want to see and do things that won't be possible if I continue on the path that I was on. This isn't a diet. This is me changing the way I live my life.
For once in my life I feel motivated and excited about what I'm doing. That's why it's so frustrating to not see the results that I was anticipating.
This morning I had my official weekly weigh in. I gained 1.2 lbs. NOT what I wanted to see, but I'm not going to dwell on it. This is a new week. A clean slate. This week I'm not going to worry about the scale. I'm going to concentrate on how I FEEL. I'm going to listen to my body and make choices that feel good. Period.
The numbers on the scale will move eventually.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Say what?!

I knew that at some point in the process of losing weight and getting healthy I was going to feel discouraged. It's just part of the deal. What I wasn't expecting was for it to happen 2 weeks in.
The 1st 9 days of WW were great. I was committed and motivated. I was following the plan with ease, and seeing the results. And then, for no apparent reason that I could discern...the weight loss just stopped.
On paper I was doing everything right. I was tracking all of my food honestly and diligently. I was staying within my allotted points every day and making HEALTHY choices. I wasn't even using any of my extra points. I was getting outside and walking every day. But the reading on the scale was staying stubbornly constant.
Still...I stayed strong and kept at it. I told myself it was just a temporary thing...that my body is just getting used to the new routine and that the pounds would start falling off soon.
At the end of the week when I did my "official" weigh in, I'd lost less than 1 lb. *big sigh* What am I doing wrong here? It just doesn't make sense.
I refuse to give up the fight just because it isn't going as well as I'd hoped. Instead I turned to my support system and told a few people how I was feeling. A funny thing happened...every single one of them told me the same thing. "You aren't eating enough Shannon"
Say what?!
So this week I'm trying something new. I'm going to go against logic and I am going to eat MORE. I'm going to use up those extra eating HEALTHY foods.
One of my friends told me about something called the "Wendie plan". Apparently someone invented a system of using the extra WW points in a specific pattern through out the week to maximize weight loss. I'm going to give it a shot and see how it goes.
But right now...I'm off to the gym.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Uncomfortable Truth

The original title of this blog was "Life in the Fat Lane".  I first started this blog because I was determined to get myself healthy, and I thought that putting the truth about myself out into the world would embarrass me into holding myself accountable. It didn't work.
Then I fell in love with blogging and I was writing about all sorts of different aspects of my life, and the title felt off-putting, so I changed it to something that felt more comfortable. I'm back to wanting to hold myself accountable again. I'm doing it in multiple ways, but I feel like writing down what I'm going through will be one more way to keep myself in check as time goes on. Mostly because I have learned over the last several years that the best way to get something accomplished is to be willing to let people in.
All anyone has to do is look at me to know the truth, but still I find it hard to admit out loud just how unhealthy I've allowed myself to become. It's one thing to say "I'm obese", but it's something else entirely to write out the actual numbers and share them with the world. However, keeping the numbers a secret allows them to have power over me and I will no longer allow that to happen. My weight and my dress size do NOT define who I am as a person. I spent too many years believing that they did and I know that I will never get where I want to be if I don't own who I am. ALL of me.
I could list a whole bunch of excuses for why I am as fat as I am, but the truth is that none of that matters. What matters is that I have finally reached a point in my life where I am determined to be healthy- mentally, physically, and financially. I want to do it for me. To prove to myself that I can, but also because I'm sick of just existing in the world. I like being alive. The world is a pretty amazing place and I have been missing out on so much of it. For NO GOOD REASON! I also want to do it for my daughter. I look at this beautiful, smart, funny, amazing little girl that I brought into the world, and I see her learning my bad habits. It kills me inside. How can I teach her to live life to the fullest if I'm not doing it myself? She misses out on so many things because I am not physically capable of doing them with her, or I'm just plain too lazy to get up and do them. NO MORE.
We both deserve better than that, and I'm the only one with the power to fix the problem. So I'm fixing it. Not tomorrow. Not next week, or next month. RIGHT NOW.
I stepped on the scale a few weeks ago and I saw a number that I never, ever wanted to see. Over the years, as the numbers creeped up I justified it all in my own mind. I knew that the numbers were bad enough as they were, but I told myself that no matter what, I was never going to let that number appear on my scale. I told myself that it would be long as it wasn't THAT number. That was my rock bottom number. The number that would tell me that I had failed somehow. I actually felt physically ill when I saw it. How could I let it get this bad? I spent the last year trying so hard to get my life in order again. Working to make better choices. Why were the numbers going the wrong way?
I happened to have an appointment for my physical a few days after that. I was actually hoping that my doctor would look at my blood work and find an explanation for the weight gain that was going on. She didn't. Instead, she looked me dead in the eye and told me what I already knew. I need to hold myself accountable.
I need to be conscious of what I am doing.
So at her suggestion I joined Weight Watchers. It's only been a little over a week, but the change in my life is incredible. I'm only doing the online version, so I don't have the built in support system that the meetings provide- but I am finding that I don't need, or want it in that form. The same day that I joined WW officially, a good friend of mine decided to start a "Healthy Habits Challenge" on Facebook. It came at the perfect time for me and is really helping me to stay motivated.
Right now, I feel amazing. I am at a place where food no longer has control over me. I know that it is ok to allow myself a treat when I want one, but so far I haven't been tempted- except the other night when the kids had pizza, but I resisted and life went on. I could have had the pizza. I had the points available if I wanted them, but I knew that I would get more satisfaction from NOT eating it then I would from giving in to the temptation. I was right.
So- here we go...The uncomfortable truth.
Current Weight- 287 lbs
Waist- 48"
Chest- 44"
Bust- 49"
Hips- 53 1/2"
Thigh- 30"
Upper arm- 17"
Neck- 16"
My first weight goal is 279 lbs, but ultimately I would like to get to about half my current weight.