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These last few years have been one emotional rollercoaster for me. It started out great; I was doing well on my healthy journey and winning at every turn. At work, I launched a healthier you campaign to assist other people with health goals; wrote a few health articles; co-founded and participated in a Health Festival. I also spoke about my journey during a health series session.
I continued to excel at fitness and even won a Fitness challenge at Orange theory Fitness In Dublin. I was the reigning champ of the FitBit workweek challenge as I averaged over 120K steps per week. I submerged myself into health and fitness fully. I even took on a sales associate role at Orange theory Fitness to learn more about the fitness industry.
In April 2016 everything changed. My favorite Auntie (who was like my second mother) lost her battle with cancer. I was devastated. As I was trying to cope, I was informed my position was eliminated. While that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in the long-term, it was just bad timing because I was depressed dealing with a lost of my loved one.
My Healthy Journey took a hit because I lost that drive and razor sharp focus. I still ate healthy and worked out but lost the fire. Not only that, I had to switch focus to finding a new job. Searching for a job when you are mourning is not very effective. In fact, my first efforts were lackluster. I wanted to change my career but didn’t truly have the drive necessary. I tried a few times and failed. Instead of continuing down that path I decided to pursue jobs in my field. In no time at all, I was offered a job at the company right next to my old one. Thankfully, my commute didn’t change and I now work with a great team.
Unfortunately, during that time I gained 20 pounds. My portion sizes and my workouts did not have a good balance. One Saturday I had a paralyzing pain on the side of my stomach, I was nauseated, and had heart-burn. I thought I was suffering from another food allergy but this time the symptoms lasted 16 hours. This episode was the worse I ever had; afterwards I had chest pains. I was so concerned I went to the emergency room. Since the EKG scan showed my heart was healthy, the doctor deduced my symptoms pointed to gastrointestinal. The ultrasound revealed gallstones and an inflamed gallbladder. For over two years I suffered with gallbladder attacks. Usually the attacks only lasted 8 hours with no residual pain. My doctor explained as my conditioned worsened the symptoms will escalate.
My doctor and surgeon recommended surgery because my gallbladder was inflamed, which caused chest pains. The surgeon actually wanted to admit me and perform the surgery but I declined. I wanted the opportunity to learn about my options and arrange for a leave of absence. During my research I had a very bad attack that lasted 24 hours. The chest pains lasted a few days. It turns out the protein shakes I drank prolonged my symptoms. I drank them because I was scared to eat food. According to the doctor that was too much for the inflamed bladder. I had the surgery; now I am pain free.
Fast-forwarding two years, I have gained 9 more pounds. I was still in depression because my husband who was brilliant lost his job. The one he took a chance on to finally get off the Helpdesk/Desktop. He volunteered for a project and landed on the Information Security Team.
He led the Vulnerability Management for a large E-commerce Company. In one month they gave him a bonus for excellence, in the other he was laid off. I had a funny feeling that it was going to happened when he told me about a meeting. I checked the lay-off sites and sure enough the company was conducting laying-offs. I told him you are about to get laid-off. Prepare. Well, I think I really said that to myself. How do you prepare for something like that? I knew because it happened to me. After I successfully implemented a Secure Printing Solution at the local campus, I received an email to go to a meeting room. I asked my team did they get an email they said no. Damn I thought, here we go. What’s ironic is I was the high performer. I was the only one that supported all the Operating systems – Windows, MAC and Linux. I was the “favorite tech” because I resolved 99.9 percent of tickets I had. I only escalated to groups not other team members. How did this happen? You tell me? I am sure I don’t have to paint the picture for anybody. Unfortunately I still had student loans to pay; luckily they were deferred during unemployment.
My husband thought his life was over. He is a large tall black man; handsome. But what scares people is his intelligence. The man is quite frankly a genius. The strange thing is I am smarter than him. How weird is that? He works hard at it, always studying and learning. I am smart naturally. The other day my husband and I had a “real serious” conversation. I told him, you don’t see yourself; not the way I see you. You see my husband is handsome, intelligent, witty, and funny. The problem, he is FAT. I told him honesty baby that is your hang-up not mine. I love him, unconditionally. I told a friend if I was on a desert island the only person I would want is Ken. My husband and I make one hell of a team; together we can conquer the world.
Unfortunately, you can’t conquer anything depressed. I was depressed because we are swimming in student loan debt. He has two masters’ degrees; I have two masters’ degrees. Tragically, both my parents are deceased. His parents couldn’t afford to pay, so we financed all the degrees through student loans. The American dream was slowing moving away from our reach, dammit Bill Cosby. Both our parents told us go to school, get a good job, buy a house, have some babies then retire. Bill Cosby and the afternoon school specials co-signed; go to school.
A few years after we met; we married. We went to school, got good jobs and were in the process of buying our first home. The house was in escrow and we were close to closing. What came next were the lay-offs (The first time). He was working for a large pharmaceutical company and I was working for a Start-up. This was during the dot.com bust. We gambled and lost. Over the years, we have managed to survive through working contracts. We were able to build a home in Hopkins, South Carolina but we couldn’t stay there because we had California Bills, the pay was too low, and the pace of life was too slow. We returned to California. A bright light shined on us, we both landed jobs at big fortune 500 hundred companies. We joined the Kaiser program and lost the weight. I was finally starting to think about saving for a house again. I contacted a loan officer and started the process. We started looking at the homes we could afford (With all the student loan debt). What happened next: the second round of lay-offs, the death of my best friend and the death of my favorite Auntie (Second Mother). My lay-off happened a year before his. The American Dream gone. I fell deep into depression. I masked it; nobody knew because I was still working, I only gained back 29 pounds. But at home all I did was eat, sleep and watch my favorite shows. I couldn’t wait until Friday. I would binge watch Castle, Greys Anatomy, Farscape, the Glades, Star Gate Universe, and my latest 12 Monkeys. I believe 12 Monkeys is my favorite series. I just love it. I think it appeals to me because the couple is fighting to stop the “bleak “future and racing towards a reset. I think I love it because that is what my husband and I need is a reset. We are still chasing that American dream although sometimes I thought it is just hopeless. Of course, that is a symptom of my depression.
Things were finally starting to look up. 6 months ago I rallied to be on a project just to get off desktop support. I really hate doing break-fix. I truly believe just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it. I always fall back on my IT skills to survive but I am sick and tired of just surviving. My husband landed an amazing job that he loves and I am working on a project. I truly love technology and project work. The ability to work on technology projects are my dream and my passion. About two weeks ago some bad things started to happen but I pushed forward until I just couldn’t. When I finally put my foot down I think I burst something wide-opened. It was my depression; I think the combination of not being able to buy a home, to my character getting attacked was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. I got fed-up and mad enough to launch myself out of depression. A fire has been lit under me. I kid you not; I can hardly contain myself. I think the ability to do what you love and get paid for it is what lit the fuse. I wake up and start writing down strategies and plans. I get up on Saturdays to strategize. I started reaching out to mentors, friends and family to talk and hangout. I barely have time to binge watch because now I am always writing in my notepad and thinking of ways to make my team successful. I am also working with my Mother-in Law to strategize on how to build a home on her lot. I have all these ideas for turning our situation around and I think it is working. I truly believe the third time is the charm. I am starting to lose weight again and I have contacted my trainer to restart my session.
I don’t know what the future holds but for the first time in a long time I think we will capture a portion of the American Dream. I say a portion because over the years we realized what actually make us happy and that elusive American Dream are not mutually exclusive.
Sometimes it is very hard to stay focused on your long-term healthier you goal. Life and disappoints get in the way more times then not. Sometimes even people unintentionally or intentionally try and sabotage your success.
So how do you stay focused? Take each day one at a time. Tackle each roadblock one at a time. You may have to change your relationships as well. For instance, if you and a friend always meet for Friday night drinks, maybe you can meet for Saturday morning strolls around the park. You have to determine why you are meeting that person in the first place. Is it for drinks or is it for companionship?
How to deal with sabotage? This may be hard to determine but sometimes it is very blatant. Tread lightly if you can and try to change the dynamics of your relationship. Maybe you can talk frankly with the person on how his/her actions affect your progress. He/She may or may not be willing to support you. As harsh as it seems, you cannot let other people’s decisions and actions deter you from getting healthy.
Misery loves company. There will be other people on a similar journey but he/she is failing or lost determination. I had someone tell me she would like to see how successful I am in three years. The statement did not shock me but I wasn’t mad either. I have taken steps to ensure my continued success.
Setting up short-term goals can help with the success of becoming and maintaining a healthier you. When you win on a short-term goal, that success can boost your determination to win on the next goal. On the same token, if you fail on a short-term goal you can use lessons learned from that failure to win on the next goal.
Unfortunately, willpower alone cannot sustain your continued success; this is where a support group comes in handy. There were times where I just didn’t feel like working out but I went because my husband was going. I went to support him though I didn’t have the willpower to go for me.
Yes losing weight is hard. In fact, it may have been one of the hardest obstacles that I have overcome. I say this because I got in my own way for over 20 years. I would start a “diet” and do well for a few months then life and excuses tripped me up. There will always be something happening, something happened, or you just lost that loving feeling but you cannot let that deter you from obtaining or maintaining a healthier you. For me it was literally between life and death. I say that because I was pre-diabetic and hypertensive and still eating very bad foods at very large quantities. I felt awful and looked even worst. My eyes lost their luster and my smile was gone. I am genuinely a happy go lucky person but over the last few years that happiness turned to depression and sadness. Yes I had happy times and yes I was in a loving marriage but I still wasn’t happy and it showed. It seemed as though life always kicked me when I was down. I think I lost hope of a better tomorrow.
I have suffered from the lost of many loved ones, disappointments, stressful jobs, and layoffs. I almost excused my way into an early grave and I was digging that hole with every bad choice I made. Last year my husband and I decided it was time to do something and we did it. We had a heart to heart before we started this journey because I knew this was going to cost us a lot of money and that bothered me because we have a lot of student loan debt. (yea – we thought Master degrees would help finally obtain that “life”) . We agreed we needed to finally invest in ourselves and commit to this healthy lifestyle. I will admit that I was blessed that we were both doing this at the same time and that we were able to support each other. I have heard stories where the spouse doesn’t support the change and attempts to sabotage them. Finding a support team is crucial to your weigh-loss journey because you will falter, plateau, or just fail but with the team you will be able to get back up and keep going. This is a journey so bumps in the road should be expected.
The change does not happen overnight. In addition some of the problems that helped add on the pounds won’t be resolved by the time the pounds come off. You just have to find better ways to deal with those problems or remove them from your life. I did a lot of soul searching and house cleaning in an attempt to work through the things that caused my unhappiness. I have removed unhealthy actives and added activities that will enhance my healthy lifestyle.
Getting healthier by adopting a healthy lifestyle takes hard work, research, dedication, and creativity. This is a JOURNEY and taking baby steps is a great way to start. Just remember your are the most important person in “your” life.