Losing Weight, Getting in Shape and Living the Life You Deserve

 

I remember the day I decided to commit to getting back into shape. It was March 18, 2011, a day like any other day, except that on THIS day, I sat up on the couch, put down a box of Lofthouse Sugar Cookies, and silently said to no one in particular:

“I’m so sick and tired of feeling this way! ENOUGH!!”

I was 41 years old, 20-some pounds over my ideal weight – ideal being what my doctor suggested at my annual checkup earlier that day – and I felt miserable. I told him how tired I was all the time and felt old AF, everything hurt, and it felt like I was wearing a heavy blanket of sad, anxious and…meh. I remember saying – I’m too young to feel like this. Right??

My doctor said, “Well, things do start changing in your 40’s.” We talked for a while as he wrote up an order for all the regular blood tests, including checking my thyroid (I’ve had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis since I was 23; weight gain and sadness/anxiety/meh are often symptoms). Then he handed me a prescription for an antidepressant. As I stared at it in disbelief, he said, in a kind, non-judgmental way, “You know, you always felt better when you were working out.”

When he left the room, I sat on that exam table and tried really, really hard not to cry.

This was the first time I had ever opened up to someone about this particular struggle. It’s interesting how, when someone tells you (however kindly) what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear, it strikes a nerve chord. On the way home, I thought about how I’d gotten here. Sure, I’d been busy with life like everyone else. And I’d always been a six-month on, four-month off kind of workout gal. I’d get good momentum going, but then life would happen and working out became a “nice to have” and disappeared from the list of priorities.

And Yet…
I knew the exact moment that I’d fallen off the health/fitness wagon hard this time. Two years earlier, I returned to full-time work outside the home – unexpectedly, necessarily and quickly after being full-time self-employed and working from home for eight years. This included a 3-hour daily commute that started at 4AM and ended at 6PM; crushing financial pressure and having to sell our home; suddenly having to leave my two little kids, one with special needs and the other with severe allergies, in the care of others for the first time in our lives; and a marriage that had been on life support for years. Plus, you know, all the other life shit in between. 🙂

I was too busy, stressed and exhausted to do anything about any of it other than grit my teeth and endure it. I made chocolate chip pancakes for the kids and organized playdates on weekends; smiled at all the right times with friends and family; and cried in the shower or on the train to work in the morning, the only times I had any time to myself, quietly so no one would notice. I couldn’t figure out when to sleep, let alone work out.

So for two years, I didn’t work out at all. I drank too much alcohol. I ate all the wrong things. I sat on the couch night after night systematically decimating a box of Lofthouse Sugar Cookies (that sugary frosting was soooo soothing) to forget how unhappy I was and all the things I could not face — things I was not ready to deal with that were soooo not working in my life.

I gained weight. And I lost me.

Until That Day When I Decided: Enough.
That night, with the doctor’s words still ringing in my ears, I thought: No. No matter how old I am, I am way too young to feel like this. Something has to change. And in that moment, I took my first steps toward taking my health back. What I didn’t realize was that I was also taking my first steps toward taking my life back. It wasn’t a linear journey – I’ve had ups, downs and all kinds of sideways (as my photos from 2010-2018 show). It’s something I work at every day.

But I will tell you this…

The First Best Place to Start: Get Your Why Before Your What
While I’d worked out on and off my entire life, when I turned 40, I quickly realized that anything I tried to take on at that point had to have a higher purpose or meaning so it wouldn’t get pushed off “the list.” It started with my revelation that I’m too young to feel like this. Eight years later, it’s evolved into this:

I work out and eat healthy because it makes me feel my best every day – strong, centered and confident – so I can live the life I deserve.

I can’t tell you how how hard it was for me to get to the last five words of that statement: live the life I deserve. Life still throws curve balls. I’ve come to accept there will be times where I can’t give fitness my all. But now I use my “why” to stay focused and help me get back in the groove faster – but in a positive, healthy way – so I don’t lose another two years. Or end up back on the couch with cookies. 🙂

Find Your Why
Before you sign up for a gym or a class or diet program…force yourself to continue a fitness regime you dread…or berate yourself yet again for what you didn’t do (or do enough of) today, stop and ask yourself:

  • Why do I want to make this change? What is my motivation?
  • What am I so sick of that I just “can’t even” with it anymore? (One for me was wearing only two pairs of pants I had left that still fit because I refused to go buy the next bigger size.)
  • What do I ultimately want long term (I want to walk into any room and feel confident) vs. short-term (I want to lose weight for the reunion).

Get your why and write it down. Post it or carry it where you can see it every day and remind yourself why you are making a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. (I’m a writer, so I also journaled about it.) Do this, even if you do nothing else toward making a change right now.

When you’re ready, talk about your why with someone you trust, who you know will be supportive and truly has your best interest at heart. Start building a team of your own, filled with people who will help you achieve your goals. Remember:

There is no Merit Badge for “Going It Alone.” 🙂

My Why for Writing This – and What I am Not
I’m not a dietician, nutritionist, trainer, coach or doctor. I’m not selling anything or promoting products or quick fixes. I’m just a regular person who decided to make a change for the healthier one day at a time and I’ve kept at it for eight years now. I recently completed my first half marathon, something I never even considered, let alone thought I could do. As I approach 50, I have so many more goals I want to achieve and I’m so excited about this next chapter of my life.

I want to share what’s worked (or not) for me because I’m tired of reading stories that don’t seem to go below the surface of how to get back on the health and fitness wagon when you fall off again and again. Or how to find the damn wagon in the first place. 🙂

I’ll be sharing more stories on this topic in the coming weeks. I would be honored if you joined me and shared your experiences, too. For starters…

What’s your why?

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Finding Your Fire: How One Little Thing Can Change Everything

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Tonight I lit my first fire in my second rental house since my divorce four years ago (looks good, yes?). Not a big thing on the surface. But it’s my first house with a fireplace in 11 years. I was married then. I grew up with a fireplace. In both homes, either my dad or my then husband always lit the fire. My dad did it because, well, I was a kid. My ex did it because…that’s the way it was. (Yeah, yeah, I know – that’s for another blog post.)

I’ve been ready to light this fire since I moved in last June. One of the first things I did was get the fireplace inspected. Safety first! When fall came, I went to Home Depot and got the fireplace tools, a screen, built the tool rack with that stupid little gadget thing they always give you in DIY kits. I picked up a bundle of wood. I was READY. And then…

Christmas came and went. No fire. 

I kept telling my kids, “Hey! Maybe we should light a fire tonight!” But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I told myself it was because I was afraid of looking like an idiot in front of them if I couldn’t get it going (our first campfire fiascos and my ineptitude with cooking over a fire are still fresh in my memory – suffice to say the hamburgers melted through the tripod grill thingy and we ended up eating potatoes for dinner.)

Except there is a YouTube video for everything these days, as I realized when my radiator went out on the road last summer, and duh, DuraFlame. So…why am I waiting to light my first fire on Easter? April Fool’s Day, no less? But it is 32 degrees in Chicago tonight…and then it hit me:

This is another first. 

I thought I was done with those, but I am coming to learn that those never end. They just Continue reading “Finding Your Fire: How One Little Thing Can Change Everything”

Why Teaching Our Kids to Be Inclusive is Not the Answer

Group of playful children in studioI just read this post on Scary Mommy, “Why I No Longer Tell My Child to be Inclusive and Kind” by Julee Morrison and I am pissed off enough to write about it. First, let me say that, as a marketer and a writer, I know that these headlines (accompanied by the sad child stock photos) are designed to incite emotion, clicks and comments. (That said, please forgive my stock photo, I don’t have a real one that truly fits this post and this one hit the mark for me.) On Facebook alone, there were thousands of comments on this article.

But this is not a post about marketing.

This is a post about taking back control as parents.

Look, I’m a parent of two teens, one of whom is special needs. I don’t write about that last part on my blog because it is not my story to tell and I respect my child’s privacy. I say this to clearly establish the fact that I understand to a heartfelt degree that there are people in the world who have huge struggles and deserve extra kindness. I’ve got 18 years under my belt on that personally, but that is a topic best kept for another post.

Both of my kids have been bullied, especially my special needs child, so I understand how the dark side of being “non-inclusive” hurts in a profound way. My kids have not always been perfect either, none are, and have probably hurt others along their journey to becoming adults. We are all guilty of this at some point or another. Including me. I will forever be haunted by the time a girl was taunted on the playground right in front of me and I did…nothing.

But it’s more complicated today than it has ever been. 

Gun violence, domestic violence, child abuse, sexual predators, school shootings, bullying, mental health, gender, race, politics and religion are driving forces in our awareness and conversations today more than ever before. Our kids are growing up and dying in the crossfire of it all, trying to make sense of the insensible. As an adult, I am still trying to make sense of it all and I am struggling. Our kids struggling, too. Mightily.


According to suicide.orgteen and adolescent suicides have continued to rise dramatically in recent years. Consider these alarming figures:

  • Every 100 minutes a teen takes their own life.
  • Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.
  • About 20 percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood.
  • Between 10 to 15 percent suffer from symptoms at any one time.
  • Only 30 percent of depressed teens are being treated for it.

Source: Why Today’s Teens Are More Depressed Than Ever


If our only message to our children today is: be inclusive and kind…than we are failing them miserably.

Hear me out.

Continue reading “Why Teaching Our Kids to Be Inclusive is Not the Answer”

What Another (gulp) Birthday Taught Me

Writers often use life events in their stories because they are the perfect settings for drama, the stuff all good stories are made of. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, retirement parties…it’s all fair game. Characters come alive. Conflicts ensue. Add alcohol, loaded expectations, cheesy music, and voila! The perfect scene for chaos story is born. Or, in my case, reflections.

It was my birthday recently. 🙂

This is us. Me and my musketeers.

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We went to dinner at a nice place, which we don’t normally do on our budget. For once, we ordered everything – appetizers, salads, steaks, even desserts. We tried everything. Twice. One of us had to unbutton our jeans. Not telling who. 🙂

So I always tell my kids – no gifts, please – just a handwritten note is all I want. But they are teenagers now, with jobs and bank accounts and minds of their own.

My daughter made me open her gift first as soon as we sat down. It was a sparkly gold Continue reading “What Another (gulp) Birthday Taught Me”

Finding Your Voice in a World of #MeToo

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me and my girl one fall day

The other day, my *almost* sixteen-year-old daughter read to me out loud her response to one of the questions on an assignment in her advanced English class. The question was:

“Who or what has had the biggest impact on the development of your voice?”

Me [best attempt at no expression]: “Ooh!!!  Good question.”

Me [inside]: ME!! PLEASE SAY ME!! But it might not be me. Shit, I don’t have a poker face, Christy, get it together here!! If it’s not you, you don’t want to make her feel bad. Whatever she says is fine, whoever it is. OH PLEASE LET IT BE ME!!

Spoiler alert: It was me. 🙂 !!!

I want to share this with you because as a writer, a mom and a human being trying to do Continue reading “Finding Your Voice in a World of #MeToo”

Happy 18th Birthday to My Boy

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My son turns 18 today. All he has asked for is a Zippo lighter with a puppy on it. He had an early celebration tonight with his dad, who cooked his favorite bacon burger and put him into a “food coma.” Tomorrow we will go to Red Lobster for the Endless Shrimp, at his request. His dad and I have been divorced for more than three years now and as we have ever since, we will celebrate the birthday together as a family. Because no matter what has come before or what may come after, for better or worse, we are family.

This is what family does.

I want to take a moment to give my boy a moment of appreciation. Recognition. My words, which have been my gift and at times, my curse, until I learned to use them wisely. Kindly. Always working on this. 🙂

My boy. How do I express everything that I feel at this moment, the night before you turn 18 and as you told me tonight, “Tomorrow I’m an adult!” I smile and say, one day at a time, kiddo!

* gulp *

My boy, almost a man yet still a boy, I want you to know that I remember everything. That first moment I felt you flutter in my stomach. I was in a literary grad school class Continue reading “Happy 18th Birthday to My Boy”

Moving: Settling into a New Home, New Life, New Way of Thinking

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my new writing space: my backyard

Awhile back, I wrote a poem where a willow tree played a prominent visual role. I don’t know why or where it came from. It just…appeared. Followed by the words. As I write – as often happens – ideas, images and lines come to me. Creative gifts.

I’ve learned not to question.

Shortly after I wrote that poem, I decided it was time to move. On a Thursday night, I reached out to Rich, a real estate agent/friend who has helped me buy two marital homes and rent my post-divorce home. (Yep, I rent. At this stage of my life, I travel light.) I’d been looking for the past two years on and off, but nothing felt right. Not the house, not the location, not the time, not anything. By Friday morning, he had a listing – very rare, met all my criteria: closer to school; extra bedroom for my office; and two bathrooms – a must after three years with three people/one bathroom, all in a town where rental house inventory is scarce. I toured the house on Friday afternoon. Took the kids on Saturday afternoon. By Monday morning, I was negotiating. By Tuesday, it was mine. Two weeks later, my kids and I moved out and in. (Special shout out to my sister for helping!) Four days later, I packed up and flew to California for work. Flew back.

And finally, my first Saturday evening free in my new home, I sat writing in my new backyard. And I saw it.

A willow tree.

I used to believe in so many things.
I love my magical beliefs. 🙂 Everything will turn out alright in the end! You will getthrough “fill in the blank!” The universe or God or someone is looking out for you and protecting you! Everything happens for a reason!  Your soul mate is out there! Everyone means well, you just have to lower your expectations! No, lower! Okay, wait, lower. No – lower.

All of it. I was all in. It’s embarrassing to admit now, but – you know what? Fuck it. That stuff helped me survive. I’m still here and those “silly” beliefs carried me through some of my darkest, loneliest hours. The truth is, I still believe in that stuff…with caveats. Continue reading “Moving: Settling into a New Home, New Life, New Way of Thinking”