Thursday, June 13, 2013

When you love yourself first, everything else makes sense

An average large bag of dog food weighs about 40 pounds...I've lost that amount of weight plus a bit more in two years.  No, book publishers are not going to contact me for my massive weight loss, I'm not going to get free subs for life from a chain restaurant, and I probably won't inspire a movement of people to lose weight. To me, none of that matters though.

Two years ago I was unhappy, for many different reasons. Two years ago, I was scared.  Two years ago, I was a different person.  The fact is like I have said many times before, this journey was never about weight loss. This journey has always been about finding that voice inside of me that says, "You're amazing, you're doing what you should be doing, and you're perfect just the way you are."  I don't mean to sound like a One Direction song, but if I don't believe those things why is anyone else going to?

A favorite quote of mine is a Mister Rogers quote. I grew up watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and learned many life lessons from watching his puppets and his neighbors interact in the Land of Make Believe.  Several years ago I received a daily calendar with a new quote of his every day.  Some were insightful, some silly, and some spoke volumes to me. Even though Mister Rogers taught children, his life lessons can translate to just about any age. So one day, when I tore off the previous day on the calendar and read his daily insight I knew I had to remind myself of it every day.  I tore the day off of the calendar immediately, cut out the quote, and taped it to my laptop so I could read it everyday.  There it remained, until 2010 when that computer died and the quote was throw out with the computer.  The fact is I don't need to look at it everyday to remember what it said.  But having it there, and seeing it daily when I would check email, write papers, update Facebook, and surf the internet helped me to live it.  I'm sure by now you're wondering what these amazing, life altering words were...

"You can't really love someone else, unless you love yourself first."

Does the name of my blog make a bit more sense now?  It's a simple concept, if you like yourself it will show and others will be more comfortable with you and like you too.  A simple concept that is often difficult to follow.  Two years ago had you asked me I probably would have said I hated many things happening in my life, and I was unhappy with who I was.  This translated to my weight primarily, but it also crossed into other aspects of my life as well.  Two years ago, had you told me I'd only lost 42 pounds by now I would have been upset, disappointed, and maybe even angry with myself.  Two years ago though I didn't understand that happiness isn't a result of an outward appearance, or financial gain, or number of degrees on the wall.  Happiness, and love, are somethings you have to find within yourself before any of the other things matter.  This by no means, means that outward appearance, financial stability, education, and other things aren't important. You just have to know that those are not the things that make your happiness, they just add to the happiness.

The woman who began this blog two years ago would not have had the guts to move to Colorado without a plan. Not to mention that woman would have freaked out at the thought of things not going according to that plan.  The same woman now, knows that moving here made me the happiest I've been in a long time. And even though things keep changing so there is never much of a plan, things have a way of just getting better.  Part of loving yourself, is putting aside the fear to be yourself.

So when I began reflecting on the fact that I've lost over 40 pounds, I realized that the weight was the smallest accomplishment I've achieved in the past two years.  Learning to love my life, my choices, my past, my future, and letting go of the fears I've allowed to hold me back really are the the biggest things I could have ever gained.  For the first time in my 30 years, I'm truly learning what loving myself for who I am honestly means, and no number on a scale will ever diminish the importance of discovering that accomplishment first.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sanity Break

Yesterday I decided to take what I like to call a sanity break. Basically these breaks are going out and doing something I've wanted to do, but told myself I don't have the time, or it's too touristy to do those things. Most of the time they are things that end up being out in the middle of no where, or with limited cell coverage so I basically am cut off from the world for a day.  A sanity break is just a way to get away from the world and responsibilities for a period of time to clear your mind and have some fun.  Personally I think we all need to do these more often, but for me they also help remind me why I'm here in Colorado...because I really do love it here even if things are tough in other aspects of life.

In any case, yesterday I headed out to the Colorado Springs area to do some hiking, and sightseeing.  My first stop of the day was at Seven Falls, where I discovered that even though I am losing weight, and getting healthier, I'm still not in shape, lol.  Seven Falls is a beautiful waterfall (I kinda have a thing for waterfalls) that is literally seven different falls down one cliff side.  It really is gorgeous, but what they failed to tell you is that to get to the hiking trails, and the top of the waterfall, you have to climb 224 stairs...up the side of the cliff.

A direct look at the falls...and those two long metal structures off to the side are the stairs!

Like I said, it's beautiful there, and they have a really awesome programs there throughout the summer, but the stairs are a killer!!  I decided to take them on though, assuring myself that I was going to try for the top, but if I didn't make it I wouldn't feel bad about it.  Well I didn't make it, I tried but it was worse than a StairMaster!!  I made it up the first full flight and there was a platform you could rest on that I took advantage of.  After about fifteen minutes of resting, and picture taking, I decided to tackle the second flight.  I made it about half way before the combination of the altitude, and my lack of muscle tone teamed up on me.  I'd say I made it two thirds of the way to the top, but I just didn't have that last third in me.  I was proud of myself for trying, and it felt amazing that I made it further than many other people even tried, but I still wish I could have made it to the hiking trails at the top.  One in particular leads to another waterfall called Midnight Falls that I hear is beautiful as well, but it just wasn't meant to be yesterday.

Needless to say this is not a location that I will be bringing friends and family to when they visit.  Between the elevation, and the stairs I think I'll spare them. I also discovered there a new phenomenon...jello legs!  This is when your legs just decide that you climbed a lot of stairs and they don't want to work anymore now that you're trying to walk.  I don't recommend this because the result of jello legs the next day is, "Hello muscles I haven't worked in years" legs.

After one last (really good in my opinion) picture I had half a day still. This is time I had intended to use hiking, but seeing as jello legs wouldn't let me get to the top of the stairs to the hiking trails I needed a new plan.  So thanks to my trusty GPS reminding me I was right by Pikes Peak I headed over to Manitou Springs, Colorado to see if I could catch the Cog Railway to the peak!

Now for those of you not familiar with Pikes Peak allow me to educate you.  Pikes Peak is part of the Rocky Mountain Front Range.  It's one of Colorado's 54 Fourteeners, which means it's a mountain that's peak rises more than 14,000 feet above sea level (Pikes Peak is 14, 115ft to be exact).  What makes Pikes Peak so unique is unlike many of the mountains in the Rocky Mountain range, Pikes Peak is a freestanding peak, meaning you can't walk from Pikes Peaks summit to another mountains summit.  In my opinion though Pikes Peak is unique because of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb...but then again I'm a bit of an auto racing fan so of course the auto race interests me the most, lol. (I'll be taking another sanity break at the end of the month to go to the Fan Fest before the race to see the cars racing up the mountain...but I'll save that info for later.)

In all seriousness I hope to be a fourteener, someone who hikes to a summit more that 14,000ft above sea level.  Right now though I need to focus on getting stronger so that I can do that. Again, I need to get in shape first.  I decided to take the cheater method to becoming a fourteener though and ride the cog railway to the peak.

It was a beautiful ride, lots of great views, and amazing wildlife was seen. All of that was true till the last mile or so to the summit, when it began snowing...and lightening!!!  At that elevation weather can change in an instant, so it was to be expected that something like that may happen.  The unfortunate thing about it is that on the cog railway you have only about a half hour on the summit, and the EMT's on the summit asked that everyone wait out the storm in the summit house.  So I didn't get to see the views from the top for that long, about 5 minutes, but that just means I have to go back.

The view when we reached the top.

One of the best things about the summit of Pikes Peak...the doughnuts! No I'm not joking, they actually make doughnuts at 14,000 feet and sell them!  Apparently this is actually an extremely difficult process, but I can tell you it's worth it! They are super yummy, and I probably would eat 12 pounds of these a day if I worked there!And hey, making them at this altitude means they have fewer calories, right? lol.

 So one final note. I should be a bit more active than I have been in the past.  Some things have happened in my life that has not only freed up some time, but also allowed me to begin to share some things as well. Yay!! So keep an eye out for more updates soon.

Now I'm going to go take an Advil to take care of these "Hello unused muscles" legs! ;-)