Transformation Andrea

It is difficult to put into words the amount of growth I have made in these past few weeks. A numerous amount of emotions pour into my head as I try to compose myself as I write my journey. These past twelve weeks have gone by so quickly and I can’t believe it has come to an end. I have never joined an on-line fitness group. My expectations were to get toned and in shape by summer swimsuit season.  I can totally do this; it’s going to be easy. Just do a few workouts and I will be good to go!! Boy was I so wrong on that piece of the puzzle. Not in a million years, did I ever expect this journey to become life changing.  As each week passed, I have changed my course of direction, vision, and goals for myself, and with that, I have done a lot of reflecting on who I am as whole person.

Throughout these twelve weeks, as we were to complete our vision boards, and answer Tuesday’s topics, I realized I needed to un-bury my demons.  For these demons were the root cause of how I have developed poor thinking habits about myself and the way I react to stress in my life;  my behavior not only affected me but also my loved ones around me! If I was going to really change my life , I needed to change my behavior to move forward.

A major obstacle in my life was going through infertility treatment.  It was heartbreaking to watch all your friends get pregnant and be happy for them. I was always elated and shared in their happiness because I would never take that away from them; however, I would cry after each one would leave and say to my husband why not me? When you are the root cause of the problem, the pressure becomes a lot on a person and your marriage. I was going to allow the doctors to take every blood vial they needed, and stick myself with needles to inject drugs to allow my body to accept a pregnancy. During this time, I would eat to deal with stress and gorge to fulfill my void. Before my first child, I weighted the heaviest at 130 at 5’4”,  and again I would internalize my emotions.  After three years, we were thankfully blessed with our first child. Two year later, our second child was born. I now realize looking back on this experience, the timing in my life was not right to have children. My husband received a job transfer back to New Jersey where I was able to find a job with insurance that paid for all my infertility treatment. The expense of these procedures can be financially draining on a family. I would sit in the fertility doctors office listening to women pouring there hearts out about their experiences, and then the receptionist  calling them to the front desk saying they owed 10,000 because insurance didn’t cover the treatment. Not only was my heart breaking for my own experience, but I internalized each women’s pain as well. I am very thankful everyday for the two gifts we were blessed with., but I will never forget this journey in my life and all the wonderful women I met along the way.

The latest obstacle in my life is helping our son who has been diagnosed with developmental tics (which is the non-vocal form of Tourettes) accept his diversity, and how we can help him as a family control these involuntary movements. Unfortunately, this past fall we had to medicate our 7 year old. This was not the option we were looking for, but when your child is crying it hurts so bad; it is heart breaking to watch, and you cry as he falls asleep lost because you have no control over the situation . On nights that were really bad, we would have to put him in the car and drive him around the neighborhood just so he would fall asleep because this is the only time the tics stopped. The medication has helped control his movements, however, it makes him tired, and we have to watch his blood pressure. Before the challenge, I began reading more about diet and helping children with tics. Unfortunately, not enough research  has been conducted on this particular neurological condition, and to try to take all gluten out of his diet seemed so impossible; especially for a person who rarely used to cook. So I was floundering and struggling on where to start and what to do. I was not only lost for myself, but needed to find a way for our family, too!!

While dealing with these obstacles in my life, I have also tried to balance working full-time and moving our family several times.  For the past 15 years of our marriage, we have moved five different times in various states due to my husband’s job. For awhile we were averaging almost every three years a move until we had children; we stayed eight years in New Jersey. Our last move was only two years ago. The first part of the move, Patrick went ahead to Las Vegas and I stayed behind in New Jersey. I finished working full time and having the kids finish up the last four months of school and their sports activities. By the end of June 2010, we were in our new home and by October, I was back to working full-time! The pace of my life sometimes feels like a roller coaster with twist and turns and the speed never ends.

I am a Special Education Instructional Facilitator and I oversee two middle school Special Education Programs and one elementary school. This is a job I am very passionate about. I love working with teachers and children and mentoring them. I have a wonderful group of teachers who are just as passionate about positively influencing children’s lives, and we make a wonderful team. However, the down side of the job is I want to be there for everyone and with three schools and close to three hundred students in the program; it is difficult to be in three places at one time. I am the type of person who won’t say “no” if you ask me for help; I will always help others and my work will be put to the side.  The job is high paced and everyone always comes to you with a problem needing to be solved. In a sense, I am a firefighter putting out fires all the time. I think it is important to actively listen and help solve problems; however, I have realized my desire to help others achieve happiness has left me with internalizing my stress and taking the weight of these poor kids and teachers into my heart. I thought I was keeping things together; however, my behavior and my short amount of patience at home was starting to affect my family. I knew something had to change, and I just wanted to feel good about what I was doing.  So how was I going to move forward and make this change?

My SKFitLife journey began with the universe aligning with a random experience.  My husband met a wonderful person in the group Laura Lam Ortiz while flying on a business trip; they began talking about fitness and how I loved being active. Laura further explained how her friend Stephanie was creating an on-line fitness program, and I should consider joining. So before they left the plane, they exchanged information; Patrick and I talked about the conversation he had with Laura, and I was intrigued to see if she would contact me. A lot of people say they are going to do something but never follow through.  Suddenly, a few weeks later in my in-box was an e-mail sharing the website information and Laura asking me to join. I knew at that point, I really needed to consider this because I am a true believer things happen for a reason!  This was how I was going to move forward in my life.  I was a point in my life I needed something for myself; I was feeling run-down and a bit lost. I felt this was the answer I was looking for to help me regain my confidence, and I would also along the way gain some nutritional information to help our son.

So the journey begins with a click of an acceptance button, a snap of a photograph, a Smartphone, and a sisterhood Facebook connection. My journey has changed throughout this challenge which I think is important. What I am learning is striving for something is important and goal setting each week and month really keeps you focused. It is one thing to understand this concept; however, another thing entirely different to really apply it into practice. This was the missing part of my life. I had ideas in my head I wanted to achieve, but it was so easy to just say the following things to myself:

  1. I’ll do my workouts later when I have time- then it is 9pm your exhausted and then the excuse becomes I’ll do it tomorrow.
  2. The dishes need done
  3. The house needs cleaned
  4. The kids have practice and homework
  5. I have work to complete
  6. Food needs cooked- which becomes take-out or something frozen to eat, and depending on stress level…the cycle becomes… I don’t eat all day or I gorge on fast food.

Prior to this challenge it was so easy to complain about how I didn’t like what my body looked like physically or what I couldn’t accomplish because all the above just kept getting in my way.  I didn’t have balance nor was I prioritizing things correctly. I felt I wasn’t worth taking the time for, and I had to make sure everyone else was taken care of first then me. However, “me” never came because the hours never quite added up; this has always been the way I operated throughout my life;  as the weeks past, I knew I had to further dive into understanding why I was creating such bad habits and why I wasn’t taking the time for myself.  Ultimately, the reflection led me back to the obstacles in my life, and I realized I need to retrain my thinking in order to retrain my behavior. I wanted to become less moody and regain my self-confidence back!

The light bulb finally went off for me when we had to post our vision boards. The first one I created on my iPad  was simple and really was only a part of what I wanted to say. I did it and completed the task, but it was also based on my old thinking. However, the second one was the most empowering for me. Putting it out there for the group to see and for me to really be proud of was a turning point for me in the challenge.  Every motivational picture people would post that would inspire or touch me personally in some way; I would download and save to my phone. After awhile, they became my motivation/inspiration through my workouts. They kept me focused, and became embedded into my new vision board. I also added a bucket list to keep me focused as I will soon be approaching 40. This was the push I needed to really see the true picture of this transformation. Through my vision board, I began working on three parts of my life: nutrition, exercise, and emotional growth.

Through journaling, I can summarize after one month, I knew physically I could handle the workouts; however, the key for me was to withstand the training with time management and balance between work, family and myself. Prior to this challenge, I would always cheat myself.  I would either get half way through my programs or stop around 10 weeks. I started to realize this pattern in my life, and I gave up on myself. I was a bit frustrated by this discovery; however, facing the truth was powerful.   At week 5, not eating clean one weekend made me so sick; I thought I had the flu. At week 6, my emotional point was starting to spiral downwards simply because I was just overwhelmed by life; I went to the group for support and from all the positive words of encouragement, I knew I had to kick myself in the butt, and stop feeling sorry for myself and stop making excuses.

Exercise/Nutrition:Once I stopped making excuses, I first needed to address my eating habits/exercise patterns . I actually had to go the whole way  back to my childhood.  I have always been active since 5 years of age. I began gymnastics and competed till about 10. Still till this day, I remember, the older gymnasts having to make weight to compete. They would run then reweigh themselves if they weren’t at the weight they were supposed to be  before a meet. For us younger gymnasts, we didn’t eat much before competitions, but then gorged on TAB soda and candy once our competitions were done. Along with gymnastics, I danced as well for those years to help me with form and my routines. By 5th grade,  I began giving up these sports and moved into basketball and softball then went onto high school to play volleyball, basketball and softball. I was always very active growing up, but along the way, I ate what I wanted because I was active, I could burn it off. I could down a Big Mac without any questions and never thought twice about what I was eating. In addition, the only thing my mother taught me to cook was a great pie. I was so busy,  fast food and not learning how to cook at home  (it was not interesting to me at the time) definitely affected my eating habits as an adult. As I entered college, I gave up sports to work and put myself through school. I waitressed so eating was usually at a restaurant I worked out which constituted a lot of fried food and no more active lifestyle. This is where the rollercoaster weight gain and loss game began.

I graduated college, got married, and went on to get my masters degree and through the course of the years, I never learned to cook. If it wasn’t  frozen, or it didn’t come out of a box or can, I didn’t make it. I have so many funny stories about how I have damaged food, I could write a book.  My husband soon took over cooking responsibilities after the first year we lived together when I forgot to take off the cardboard bottom of the rising crust pizza; he knew then we were in trouble if he didn’t step in, then we would truly starve. LOL. However, long hours of work for both of us and travel, left us many times throwing in pasta and eating it with butter and Parmesan cheese, or we would just eat out at restaurants to save time!!  It wasn’t till I joined the group, I began to appreciate cooking and understanding the balance between portion control (I could eat as much as my 6’2” husband-ouch), eating every 2-3 hours, and what is a good balance between foods.