Monthly Archives: January 2009

Not Easy, But So Very Worth It

I was recently watching a popular late-night news/entertainment show. The topic was weight loss and keeping it off. The guests had lost really remarkable amounts of weight. I was really into watching the show and was shaking my head in agreement with much of what was being said. And then all of a sudden it was like I heard the sound of screeching brakes….

One of the panelists said something to the effect of, “Once you’ve lost the weight and learned the lesson it really isn’t hard to keep it off.”

Wow. I couldn’t believe my ears, because that really isn’t my experience at all. I thought of how discouraging his remarks could be to people who are really fighting hard to maintain a significant weight loss.

Honestly, that was my perception when I first completed my time on The Biggest Loser. I thought it would be “a piece of cake” (no pun intended) to exercise lightly, eat healthily and maintain my dramatic weight loss. I found that not to be true. It’s hard work maintaining a significant weight loss. I actually think losing the weight was easier.

But I don’t want my words to be discouraging, just as I wouldn’t want the words of that talk show guest to be discouraging.

In my situation, it took me 34 years to get to where I was. It took me roughly eight months to lose the weight I needed to. And I fully expect that it will take me the rest of my life to maintain it. I don’t want to give anyone a false sense of expectation. But I don’t want to convey a false sense of discouragement either.

I think healthy living and good choices regarding food, exercise and quality of life in general are choices we all must make daily. This may surprise you, but I want to always remember the fat girl inside me because I don’t want to ever go back there. But I’ve got to be honest when I say my desire for southern fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy hasn’t gone away just because I lost nearly 100 pounds.

So when I heard this guy the other night quip, “Eh, it’s easy.” I thought that was a dangerous message to send. We have to combat the “Hollywood mentality” anyway—when we see movie stars drop their baby weight in what seems like minutes after having the baby. And the truth is—at least for me—maintenance is not easy.

But—and this is important—it is possible and it’s so very worth it!

I refer often to my “journey to good health and fitness.” It’s an amazing journey with so many benefits. I am thankful for the body that I have and for the strength that I possess.

I guess what I want to share with those of you reading this—is that it may be a struggle, but please don’t let that discourage you. Anything worth having is worth working hard for and for exerting continuous effort towards. Author Liane Cordes wrote, “Continuous effort—not strength or intelligence—is the key to unlocking our potential.”

So I encourage you to continue in your effort to unlock your own potential. You’ll be so glad you did.

Appreciating the Good in a Bad Situation

Have you ever had one of those weeks that was just awful?

Of course you have. We all have. And I just came off of one of them.

This past week started with me just not feeling very good at all. During my workout on Monday I started feeling it. By Wednesday I was in full blown “sick mode.” That’s especially miserable when life doesn’t stop just because you want to. I am sure you all can relate.

I felt weak…puny…pitiful. It was hard to care about anything.

By the weekend, I couldn’t suffer in silence anymore and I gave in and went to an Acute Care Center where I was diagnosed with bronchitis and a severe sinus infection. I don’t mean to complain, but I just want to paint the picture of where I was physically and emotionally and why it was particularly unpleasant when in the middle of that same night, my 8-year-old, Noah, showed up on the side of our bed violently ill with one of the worst stomach viruses I had seen in a long while.

Poor thing. He couldn’t keep anything down all night. The next day was Sunday and so my husband got himself and the baby ready for church and the two family members who were not sick took off for several hours and left the two us piled up in bed. I am sure we looked pretty pitiful…just me, Noah and a bucket.

But sometime during that morning my perspective began to change. As I got feeling a little better once the antibiotic started kicking in, and Noah started feeling better once the virus and fever started to leave him, what we were left with was actually a very precious time together. What started out as sheer misery actually morphed into a really sweet memory.

We lay in bed together and had a half a day of uninterrupted time…just the two of us. And I don’t know about the children in your life…but to get either of my sons to sit still for a minute is a miracle. We watched some TV, but mostly just talked. We talked about all sorts of important things: his favorite video game and what level he had gotten to…we talked about second grade politics…we just shared our hearts.

I learned a valuable lesson during that time. Sometimes God allows you to get knocked off your feet to let you see what’s really precious. Even though I hate being sick and hate seeing my child sick even more; it was a good lesson and turned into a time with my son that I will cherish.

So when things don’t seem like they are going exactly like you wish they would…look a little deeper. Sometimes you might just find a blessing in disguise.

All I Needed to Know About Life I Learned from My One-Year-Old

All I needed to know about life, I learned from my one-year-old.

Okay, well maybe not everything I needed to know about life…but there is a lot of truth to that statement!

My youngest son turns one this month. And just being his mother the past year has taught me such incredible life lessons. My eyes have been opened to things that maybe I hadn’t taken the time to notice before—or at least not in the past eight years (the last time I had a baby around).

Things like…

It’s okay to cry when you don’t feel good.

You need to eat—and eat often (as long as it’s the right things)—in order to be healthy.

Getting a good night’s sleep can make the difference between a good day and a bad day.

There’s just something wonderful about being held by somebody you love when you are feeling cranky.

Before you can ever learn to walk…you’ve got to fall down a few times. (Okay, many times.)

When you take the time to notice them, even tiny seemingly insignificant things can be amazing.

A belly laugh really is contagious.

Even the worst day can be turned around with a sweet smile.

Everything that looks good, doesn’t necessarily taste good—like red crayons—and is not good for you.

The squeaky wheel does usually does get the oil.

But probably the most significant thing my one-year-old has taught me is something I really already knew: Nothing compares to unconditional love.

Think about all the blessings you have in your life. And take a moment to reflect on some of the most simple truths you know. You may find, like I have, that there’s a lot of wisdom in the innocence, thoughts and actions of a child. If we pay attention, we can actually learn a lot.

Goal Setting for the New Year

There’s a popular saying, “Shoot for the moon…even if you miss you’ll still land among the stars.” And while that may be good advice in some things, as we begin the new year I want to suggest something kind of contradictory to you:  aim small!

Now before you go, “Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence, Julie,” let me explain what I mean.

I am not suggesting that you underestimate yourself or your potential in any way. As children of God we have within us the power to excel and achieve. But in regard to a weight loss journey—or really any monumental task that you have set for yourself—I say take it slow. 

I not only look at my own experience, but I am basing this on what I’ve heard hundreds of others say as they share their experiences with me. They look at how quickly we did things on The Biggest Loser and compare those results to their own. Sometimes it seems unrealistic and discouraging. Sometimes if you look at the big picture all at once it’s easy to get discouraged. Discouragement leads to excuses. And excuses lead to giving up.

At the beginning of my journey to lose nearly 100 pounds, if I had really thought about all that I would have to do to reach that goal, it would have been easy to let discouragement set in. So I learned to set little, achievable goals for myself. And that’s what I recommend to others. Take it one day at a time; one pound at a time. Every pound lost is a victory. And then I recommend that when you’ve hit a milestone or a significant marker along the way (no matter how small)—CELEBRATE!

I used to celebrate significant accomplishments with a big piece of chocolate cake. Not so anymore. I encourage you to be creative in your rewards for yourself. But you do need to acknowledge your hard work and your accomplishment. Go get a pedicure. Or make a date with your favorite person to go on a nice, relaxing walk in the cool of the day. Or you might even treat yourself to a new piece of clothing one size down. But whatever you do, celebrate yourself.

And then before you know it, all your little goals will add up to the one big accomplishment you are striving for. And you will realize how strong you are and have a true feeling of achievement. Remember, anything worth having is worth working for, and working hard for. 

I wish you the very best in whatever it is you are working for in 2009. Just remember to take it one day at a time, be consistent, don’t get distracted by the big picture, and don’t be afraid to be your own cheering section!

What a Difference a Year Can Make!

When I think back on life just one short year ago, so much has changed for me. 

A year ago I was coming off the excitement of eight months on a reality TV show. I came home and faced the challenge of blending all of the things I had learned through my experience on The Biggest Loser with real life. My household hadn’t really changed, but I sure had. And I had a lot of work to do to get the rest of the family “up to speed” in regards to a new way of viewing food, exercise and healthy living.

I didn’t end up morbidly obese overnight. But my experience on The Biggest Loser had given me plenty of opportunity to realize why and how I had ended up that way.

I had always struggled with my weight. Some people are just prone to that and I am one of them. But I really began to lose the battle of the bulge when I got married and became a mother. I had the very best of intentions. But it was like everyone and everything else took precedence over my own well-being. I just couldn’t “neglect” my husband or son or home or friends or church responsibilities. They all needed me. So who did I neglect? Myself.

Jillian Michaels, who was my trainer on the show, asks this very powerful question: “Would you treat your children like you treat yourself? Would you skip their doctor’s appointments? Would you feed them junk? Would you withhold play time?” 

The answer is an emphatic “No!” 

Then why do we do that to ourselves?

I guess one of the most valuable things I have learned over the past year is that “selfish” is not a dirty word. And when I say selfish, I really mean a healthy concern for yourself.

I now know that by taking care of myself and making time to exercise and plan healthy menus and find some time just for Julie, that I can be so much better at all the things that really matter. 

See, before I was trying to run this “machine” that is my body with absolutely no fuel whatsoever. I fed it the wrong things, I deprived it from rest and restoration, and I even let a busy schedule deprive it from spiritual nourishment. And the result? I was a train wreck.

With a new mindset I am able to be a better wife and mother. I am more productive. I am healthier and happier than I have ever been. And you know what? My husband and children have totally “survived” that new way of thinking just fine! In fact, it’s better for our family all the way around.

Eleven months ago we adopted a precious newborn baby. And mixing late night feedings and diaper changes and the general care of a baby is exhausting. A wonderful blessing; but exhausting. I felt the temptation to neglect myself in order to get everything else done. So I had to make a conscious decision not to do that and to really practice what I preach. 

But through determination and God’s grace, it’s all coming together beautifully. And that’s my wish for you in the coming year.

Don’t be afraid to make yourself a priority in 2009. And I bet you the results will not only be a Happy New Year—but also a “Happy New You!”