Transformation Karen

January 16, 2012: Who is this person in the mirror? She looks older than 35. She looks tired. She looks worn. Her hair has lost its shine; getting straggly. She has a few pairs of pants and shirts that fit, everything else is too tight. I don’t know this woman. But I should, it’s me.

It didn’t look like me. The woman didn’t act like me. I was the person excited to graduate high school because my life was truly my own. I thought “whatever happens now is up to me. I make my life. I write my story.” Then, I lost my pen.

I was the person who traveled abroad in college. I went to Australia! And when my older sister told me that was something she never thought she could do, my response was “I never thought I couldn’t.” Somewhere the negative “nots” slipped into my life.

I was the person who trained for her black belt in karate while pregnant. The person who went to class 2 days before labor started with her first child. I was the person who tested for her black belt in kenpo karate while 4 months pregnant with her second child.

Then the excuses came: I have 2 kids, then it was I have 3 kids, I work full time, I’m a manager, I have in-laws in poor health, I’m helping to take care of my mother-in-law who fractured her arm, I don’t have time, I don’t like working out at 9 pm, I can’t get up at 5 am to workout. The list goes on; I found many excuses of why I couldn’t have a healthier lifestyle. I found excuses of why my family and I ate not-so-great; a little nutrition with a lot of crap. I became so good at making excuses, they found a way into my everyday life. I had an excuse of why I wasn’t happy at my job; why I couldn’t clean my house the way I wanted to. If something didn’t go my way or was my fault I started giving excuses for that. The woman in the mirror was not me. I didn’t do that. I owned up to my mistakes, sometimes there was a reason, sometimes not- I didn’t blubber an excuse. To me, there was a difference between a reason for something and an excuse to make me “feel better.” I believe in integrity; I took hold of it deeply during my black belt training. My sensei used to say “No one ’has’ time. We are all given the same amount of time. You make time for things you want.” I had forgotten that. I had forgotten me.

That day in January I knew I was making a choice. One choice was to continue on the current path. I knew where it lead- more weight gain, less confidence, more medical problems that would be hard to treat, more loss of self- esteem. I would become a hypocrite; I’m a physical therapist telling my patients to exercise and eat better and not doing it myself. Ugh! Who is this person? Certainly not the one who wants to be like her grandmother. My grandmother took 1 medication, and I remember only 2 times she was in the hospital- once when I was in high school and the second was before she died. My grandmother always had a pull-up bar in her bedroom doorway, as long as I can remember. Each morning she would do a few exercises on it, not a full chin up but smaller ones. She loved walking everywhere; she never drove. My grandmother walked to her destination, walked to the bus stop or walked to the train station. Cars were not a convenience to her, only a necessity to get her somewhere that was too far to go on foot. She was on a step ladder cleaning windows 10 days before she passed away in 2006 at the age of 91. If I stayed on the current path, I was fairly confident I would not have her stamina and strength at that age.

I chose to stop the excuses. I chose to stop the doubt. I chose to stop listening to the negative. I chose to take back control, write my own story, replace fear with fearless. Control over what I eat and how much activity I do really is all up to me. I learned that in the last 12 weeks. I felt like my life was out of control; I started back by taking control of my body.

At first I had doubts I could really do this for 12 weeks, it seems like a long time. At first, I didn’t tell anyone except my husband about the challenge. I didn’t want to hear the negative: “you won’t last,”  “how could you have time for that!?”  “12 weeks? Are you going to make it that far?” “Isn’t that a little too much, all that working out?” “you’re eating rabbit food.” More importantly, as the challenge progressed on and I saw and felt success, I realized I didn’t want to tell people I was doing the challenge because I don’t like disappointing people. I thought I might fail and that may disappoint people. I told more and more people as I saw the differences in me- the inches of fat gone, the more tone in the muscle, better skin and hair. I only told them after success started.

In the middle of the challenge I struggled through many things including illness. My knees were “crunching;” I always knew I would get arthritis. I had minimal pain so I modified some things and continue to be careful. The pain is gone, the crackling is there a bit- in the long term exercise will help it. Also, I was experiencing more pain in my right wrist. In the beginning I thought it was a cyst, a harmless thing. As the pain grew worse I had a friend look at it again (he’s a Certified Hand Therapist). This time a more serious diagnosis- a torn ligament, probably from a fall I had 12 years ago. In the wrist it causes a problem because the bones move too much, which causes the pain, and there aren’t muscles around to help stabilize (like in the knee, hip or shoulder). He gave me some ideas to stabilize it- I use a splint now. Then there was the eye problem! Vision in my right eye has not been normal in 2 ½ weeks. I went to 4 different doctors. I have fluid around my retina, likely caused from stress- it’s also associated with Type- A personality which if you haven’t guesses, is me. The good news is it should resolve in 1-2 months.

So why tell about my ailments during the challenge? I was so concerned about disappointing people if I didn’t finish the challenge, if I let the excuses get in the way again, that I didn’t tell my friends or family about it until 6 or 8 weeks into it. Yet, I navigated around these physical maladies and never thought of stopping the challenge. I thought of how to get around it or work with what I have. The challenge allowed me to find my determination again, to find my fire and let it burn for all to see. The challenge also allowed me to see and feel the awesome power of support from my SKFit Life sisters. I no longer worry as much about disappointing my friends and family. They will always love me. I also know that when I am determined no excuse is big enough to stop me. And that there will be times I will fail, and that’s okay. I get up, brush off my knees, brush off my ego and go again.