Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to the Beginning... My Story and How Operation 2013 Began

When I started this journey in January 2013 to shed the fat suit forever, I began with the help of my husband Brett, my sister Laralynn and my brother-in-law Justin. Justin was taking a class at Utah Valley University for exercise science. We became his project for the class. At our first meeting to discuss the project he had us set some goals and write down our primary motivation for starting a fitness plan.

Here's what I wrote....
My primary motivation for beginning this journey is...
1. I want to be able to enjoy my life instead of sitting on the sidelines.
2. I want to be able to play with my nieces and nephews.
3. I want to be able to walk on my vacations and not have to sit down every few minutes.
4. I want to be able to shop at regular stores and have stylish clothes.
5. I do not want to have diabetes.

My physical goals were: Stand to do the dishes without my back and hips aching, fit into my red dress, get up and shower and do my hair every day, exercise 5 to 6 days a week so I can walk on the beach with Brett in Hawaii.

In February, Justin had us define success in regards to the fitness plan we were working on that would end in April when his class was over. I want to share what I wrote. It's a little long but it tells my story and I think it will help you to see what continues to motivate and help me on this journey I am on. Here's what I thought on February 21st, 2013.

"I have thought long and hard about this since Saturday when Justin gave us this assignment. I have discussed it with Brett, Laralynn, my Dad, in prayer and in my head. I have tried to keep an open mind and not try to please others.

If I were to please Justin, (at least the one in my head) I would say "Be able to run a 5K in April/May." To please my sister Jan, "I wouldn't limit my thinking but I would see myself completing the 5K." And the list to please others could go on. So how do I define success? Let me start with a little back story.

For most of 2012 I have lived a completely sedentary life. I couldn't walk around a store to do my grocery shopping. I had to use a motorized scooter. I couldn't walk from my bedroom to my bathroom (which is only 5 steps away) without being winded. I had gradually gained weight until I topped out at 402.6 lbs on January 22, 2013. That day I went to the doctor and just walking from the waiting room to the chair where they could take my vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, weight, etc) my heart was beating incredibly fast. I could hardly catch my breath. At that appointment I kidded the doctor about putting me on phen/fen or some other diet pill so I could lose weight. She told me about a new drug but she didn't know if my insurance would cover it. She did a bunch of blood work and sent me home. I received a letter in the mail from her on January 26th. The blood work showed that my A1C was a 6.9 and that I had diabetes. She told me to up my Metformin (which had been previously prescribed to treat PCOS) and to come back for more blood work at the end of February and then make an appointment to see her in April.

Needless to say I was scared. I couldn't speak as I was reading the letter. I had always thought I was going to be the only morbidly obese person that didn't get diabetes. WRONG! The next day my sister Laralynn went to see our sister Jan and Justin. He told her about this exercise class he was taking and how he needed to develop an exercise program for someone. Laralynn told him about my diabetes diagnosis. Justin decided if he could get his teachers approval then Laralynn, Brett and I would be his subjects for a paper and presentation he would present at the end of the class.

The very next day January 28th we started doing exercises while sitting in a chair. I could only do ten minutes. We sat in the chair and lifted our legs and used soup cans as weights. We also changed our eating habits. We cut the portion sizes down and ate half a plate of vegetables. After just a few days I started feeling better. On Saturday February 2nd Justin met with us. He had us walk outside. I could barely make it around our cul-de-sac and down three houses on our street. My hips & legs hurt and I was out of breath.

We continued with our chair exercises and changes in our food intake and on February 6th we went for our first weigh in. I had lost 10.4 lbs. I was gaining endurance. I could walk further. I could run up and down our stairs (winded of course) but I was moving.

So I would first define my success as making the decision to start. All I believed I could do was sit on a chair and do arm and leg exercises. My heart was pumping and I felt alive again. That first step of doing something to get my heart rate going was a success. Choosing to eat more vegetables that first week was a success. Those two things along with drinking a lot more water is cause for celebration. I am up to about 120 ounces of water each day now. The weight loss proved to me that even couch potatoes can have success if they just move their muscles a little bit and change their portions sizes and eat more vegetables.

The week of February 10-16, 2013 brought more success. We started walking around the hallway of our church (we have an oval hallway like a track in our church building.) I did 15 minutes on the Wii Biggest Loser Full Body Workout and walked 30 minutes one day. Remember earlier I said that I hadn't been able to walk around a grocery store? Well, February 9th, 2013 I walked around Sam's Club, Macey's grocery store & the library. Success again! I could now do my own grocery shopping. That success was just from starting with chair exercises and adding a little cardio. Amazing! Maybe not to the average athlete or fitness guru but to me that meant independence, freedom and knowing that I wasn't standing on the sideline of my life anymore. I was actually living it.

This week also brought more firsts for me. On February 14, 2013 I took the garbage cans to the middle of the cul-de-sac without gasping for air. Before I started exercising I couldn't do this without having to stop halfway, gasping for air. I decided that I wanted to see if I could walk to the end of the street. I put my head up, looked down the street and focused my attention on the house at the end. I started to move. My heart rate was up. I stayed focused on that house and made it to the end. I was so excited and so I turned around and focused on the house next to mine and I made it back. I had done what I thought was impossible. I had will power and determination. I got up early again the next day and decided to do it again. This time when I reached the end of the street I decided to turn left and walk the distance of two more houses and then back to my house. Another roadblock pushed out of the way. I did it the second time.

Then the day of our second weigh-in came. It was Saturday morning, February 16th. I had lost another 6.4 lbs, a total of 17.4 lbs in 3 1/2 weeks. But the weight loss isn't my only measure of success. Justin had us define our primary motivation on our first meeting. I defined it as this: 'I want to be able to enjoy my life instead of sitting on the sidelines. I want to be able to play with my nieces and nephews. I want to be able to walk on my vacations and not have to sit down every few minutes to rest. I want to be able to shop at regular stores for clothes. I want to be able to wear stylish clothes. I do NOT want to have diabetes. So what will success look like for me at the end of this process in April? I want to be able to play volleyball with my nieces and nephews. I want my A1C to be under 6.0. I want to complete the "Color Me Pink 5K Run/Walk on March 23, 2013 in Lehi, Utah. I have signed myself up for it. I want to start training to run a 5K in 2014.'

Justin had told me that if I wanted to commit to my fitness goals then sign up for something. So I did. My amazing sister Laralynn walked this 5K with me even though it wasn't her goal. In the weeks that followed this email on February 22, she got up every morning at 5:30 am before going to work to help me prepare for this race. We completed the race in the snow and freezing cold in 1 hour and 35 minutes. We had amazing supporters Stephen Tefteller, Brett Mackay, Jan Tranchell and her girls. They cheered us on, brought us water, walked with us and encouraged us. The organizers of the race kept up the balloon arch at the finish line and stayed until we finished to hand us our medals. It was the most amazing thing I had done up to this point in my journey. I had set a goal and finished it. I overcame the mental hangups and completed the race. This event changed my life. It has helped me to keep going on this journey to shed my fat suit because I know I can do hard things. How do I know this? Because I have done hard things before and lived.

I hope that by starting this blog I can share my success, failures, stumbling blocks and provide you with a place to share your story, too. This is a lifestyle change for me that has it's ups and downs. Sometimes I am afraid of success. I am afraid that no one will like the new me. I think "What if my cheerleaders drop out, move or become the nay-sayers saying "Give up. Quit, you can't do this. Why are you even trying. You will never reach the top, you're a loser." I want to yell, "NO, this time is different! I will succeed. I can make it up this mountain. I can move the boulders or crush them if I need to. I have my sledgehammer firmly in my hands. I have earned my sledgehammer through hard work. I am learning to love myself. I love myself enough to continue on this journey to a new and improved me. It's not just about the weight, it's peeling back the layers and layers of protective armor that have been part of me for so long. This is my time to shed the fat suit FOREVER. Get off the sidelines and join me on this journey we call life. See you on the trail to the top of our mountain. I will be the one cheering you on and pulling you up when you stumble. Love, Karalee

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Grateful for Boulders

Boulders. OK. You might ask why I would be grateful for boulders so I will tell you. As I journey through life there always seem to be big giant boulders in my way. Many of them I can easily roll out of my way because I have seen that particular boulder before. I have learned how to break it into smaller pieces because I have had success in moving that boulder out of my life. There is this one boulder that keeps appearing in my path. This boulder I just can't move out of the way. I have to climb over it. Sometimes I fall off the boulder and I slide back down scraping my hands, knees and face. The scratches bleed a little, they sting and hurt. Sometimes I just decide to turn around and find an easier path. The problem with the easier path is it circles around until I am back standing in front of this boulder again. This boulder comes in many shapes and sizes and it usually is disguised as another kind of rock. So when I start to break into smaller pieces It just keeps getting bigger. This boulder is called FEAR. This week the boulder has been disguised as anger, resentment, stress and negative thoughts.

So at 4:30 am when I couldn't sleep I opened my daring greatly book and I read this quote Dad told me months ago. "PEACE is the absence of fear and a movement into LOVE." So today I want to conquer this boulder. I asked myself what am I afraid of? Success, accomplishing my goal, not having anyone to blame for my success or failure. Being enough, reaching my dreams, letting go of the familiar and becoming a new me.

I know this side of the boulder very well. I have climbed it for 30 plus years. This side of the boulder is safe. I know that if I stumble and fall I will get hurt but I know how to bandage those wounds. I have used food as a way to stuff down the feelings of anger, resentment, stress and negative thoughts. Only this time I have changed my relationship with food. I don't use it as a way to push the feelings away. It won't calm my fears anymore and bring me temporary peace. I know that to conquer this boulder of fear I need to take love in my backpack so I can get to the top. Love is hard thing to keep a hold of. Especially love for myself but it is the only way to get to the top.

Today I literally climbed this boulder. It is made of concrete. I have come to the top of the boulder many times in the past few weeks. I have stepped onto the bridge and walked part way and then turned around and went back to what was familiar. The other side of the bridge held peace and progress but I was to afraid to keep my eye on the goal and put one foot in front of the other.

Many of you know I have an extreme fear of heights. The concrete boulder I am referring to is the sky-bridge that goes across Bangerter Highway @ 7800 South, in West Jordan, Utah. I have wanted to conquer this fear of heights but I stopped every time but not today. I walked across the bridge and went down the other side. Then to prove to myself that it wasn't just a fluke, I walked back up the concrete hill and crossed the bridge again. I kept my eye on the goal and did it. This is a metaphor for the boulder of FEAR that keeps showing up in my path. I walked up one side of the boulder, crossed the bridge, found peace and held onto love.

I love myself too much to quit this journey. There will be many more mountains to climb, boulders of FEAR disguised as anger, resentment or stress to move out of my path. Today I put extra love into my backpack for next time I come across this boulder. I know that if I fall I can get back up and dust myself off and try again. I am learning to love myself enough to continue on this journey. Peace is the absence of fear and a movement into love. I chose Love for today. I am worth it. I choose success. I choose to keep walking.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Journey Begins

What got me started was a diabetes diagnosis. I have struggled with my weight since I was a toddler. I can't remember ever being thin. I used food as a way to cope with my feelings whether they were happy or sad. I read a book in January of this year by Bob Harper called "Are you ready?" The writing exercises in this book changed me forever. I changed they way I looked at food. When I changed my relationship with food it no longer soothed or brought comfort when I was feeling sad, angry, depressed or happy. Food finally lost it's power over me. I am trying to make this a permanent lifestyle change. I have finally learned what a portion size is. That has made a ton of difference. I eat my favorite foods not just celery and salad. I just eat the correct portion for the food. I don't feel deprived and I have had success. I have been at this journey for 133 days and I have lost 73.8 lbs. I started at 402.6 lbs so this might not be typical for everyone. I have reversed the diabetes diagnosis. I have completed three 5K's(walking for now.) a one mile race and I am planning to do three more 5K's before the end of the year. I feel after trying and failing so many times to get this weight off this time is different because I have changed my way of thinking. I am not on diet. I am trying to add back years onto my life so I can stop living on the sidelines for the second half of my life. I have stumbled and had to pick myself up and begin again. It's not easy to change yourself from the inside out but I believe and have read others stories on here that no matter how many times they have stumbled. They pick themselves up, dust themselves up and keep going. In my second 5K I had to literally do this. I was at about mile 2 and I started believing all the people who think I cannot do this. I hit a mental wall and I sat down and cried for 15 minutes. These two sweet ladies sat by me and let me cry. When I knew the only way I was going to get off the trail was either by my own feet or in an ambulance, I dug deep into my reserves and got up and finished the race. I was last but that wasn't the important thing. I didn't quit. I picked myself up and finished. Our lifestyle change is like this. No one else can do this for us. No magic pill exists. We choose what goes in our mouths each day, we choose whether we are going to be active and exercise. If we love ourselves enough then we get up each day and make the best choice for us. My little successes keep me motivated but each person has to motivate themselves. 'My Fitness Pal' is a great tool and I love the support from people all over the world. But I know that I am the only one that's going to get myself out of bed to exercise, eat the food that helps my body to work properly and continue to make this lifestyle change permanent.