Archives For Living Better

A stack of my white bath towels.  A little bit of heaven!

A stack of my white bath towels. A little bit of heaven!

The question I pose today is, do you take the time everyday to create a bit of luxury in your life?  Back in 1995, I happen to be watching the Oprah show.  Well, I didn’t happen to watch it.  I regularly watched Oprah.  There, I said it and I’m proud of it.  Anyway, Oprah’s topic for the day was how to bring everyday luxury to your life on a minuscule budget.  I was all eyes and ears!  I’m always up living better on a budget.

Oprah had several special guests on who were famous in the field of catering to the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  They offered many tips on how one could bring a little bit of lavishness to everyday life.  Oprah then shared something that has stuck with me to this day.  Oprah said that when she was a young reporter trying to make it in the news business, she would sometimes buy fresh flowers to cheer up her mediocre apartment.  However, buying fresh flowers weekly was rather expensive.  Oprah’s resolve was to fill a pretty bowl with fresh fruit and display it in her apartment.  Fruit was cheaper and it gave the same feeling of freshness and beauty.  She said that on really hard days when she was feeling discouraged or “less than” in a world that seemed to beat her down, just looking at a fresh bowl of fruit reminded her that she deserved to have something beautiful and rewarding in her life.  It was a simple luxury that made her feel human.

That concept really hit a chord with me.  You see, I had just moved back to the Bay Area to help my mother care for my father who had suffered a massive stroke.  The stoke left him unable to speak and paralyzed on the right side of his body.  Before his death a year later, there were so many stressful and sad moment for us.  There were days when I didn’t know how I was going to get us all through this ordeal.  There were days when I felt “less than” and not part of the real world.  Money was extremely tight and it was a constant struggle to stay afloat.

That moment when Oprah said that simple everyday luxuries make us feel human…the moment she remind me that we deserve something special and beautiful in our lives…it was that moment I decided to create a simple luxury for myself.  Something that would be my private escape form a sometimes crazy world.  I though back to times in my life where something so simple made me feel special–something that didn’t, in actuality cost much money, but made me feel like a million bucks.  And then it hit me…showering at a hotel.

Now growing up we never stayed at a hotel.  We could only afford a motel or inn.  Nonetheless, I remember being fascinated with the stacks of white towels.  Motel towels always seems to be in abundance.  They were folded nicely and always smell crisp and fresh.  It seemed like magic when I would leave my dirty towels on the floor and, sometime while we were out sightseeing, all fresh towels, neatly stacked and folded, were in put in their place.  I remember distinctly always taking a fresh towel for a shower.  A very different experience than what I was used to at home.  First, our towels weren’t white.  They were various colors and various stages of age.  Some towels were fraying at the edge.  My mom would cut the stray threads off so they didn’t look so bad, but they still kinda looked bad.  We did have one set of nice towels, but those were for company.  God forbid we should use those!

So it was easy for me to come to create my everyday luxury.  I would buy all white towels, in abundance, display them in an orderly, organized manner, and use a fresh towel for every shower.  To this day, this is my ritual, my personal daily luxury regime.  I can’t tell you how many times a fresh white towel after a hot shower has been the simple cure for all.  Yes, maybe I have to do more laundry than normal, but it’s a small price to pay for that moment when I grab that crisp, clean white towel and I feel all anew.

My stack of white towels has come to mean more than just personal daily luxury.  It’s come to represent taking care of myself; taking the time to step back and be thankful for all the blessings in my life.  It’s so very easy to get caught up in the rat race.  It’s easy to forget that we need to celebrate the now and be proactive in creating moments in our lives where we treat ourselves well.  Treating ourselves well and creating personal luxury is never about spending money.  It’s about…and I’ve said this before…validation.

So I pose the question again.  Do you take the time everyday to create a bit of luxury in your life?  If the answer is no, I suggest you take the time to discover that special thing that causes you to connect to your humanity and make you feel a little bit special everyday.  By the way, there’s a wonderful side effect to reminding yourself of your specialness…you tend to remind other’s of their own specialness…and it’s that one of the best things about being human after all.

My first 30-day challenge has been over for just about two days now.  However, my daily routine has not changed.  For all intents and purposes, I’m continuing on with the challenge.  As you can see to the top right of this blog (as of 6-6-13) I’m keeping it going with another 30-day challenge.  This time I’m on my own.  There won’t be any coach and there won’t be any other people in the same Paleo boat as me.  It’s not scary at all…but it is rather quiet.  I don’t know why it seems quiet, but it does.

Do you know what’s not quiet?  Other people’s opinions about me taking on a Paleo diet challenge, or for that matter, my approach to getting healthy.  I’m lucky.  For the most part people have been amazingly supportive.  Friends and acquaintances have generally been waiving their banners of “GO MARK!” along my virtual route towards good health.  I know some people have been worried, quietly, behind closed doors about my somewhat rapid weight gain and my inability to get it off in the last two-and-a-half years.  They haven’t known what to say to me or they worried I’m going to get upset and hurt my feelings.  At least for me, this is untrue.  If you care about me, say something.  Don’t pretend you don’t see the elephant in the room (oh, maybe not a good weight loss analogy) But again, that’s me.

what_people_thinkAlthough I welcome loving encouragement towards health, I don’t give any energy to those who want to criticize and judge me.  I learned some time ago that people’s judgements and criticisms have nothing to do with me.  Their ideas, concepts, and view of the situation are all based on their experiences and how they see the world.  It’s their past and their interpretation of that past which moves them to making a judgement or criticism in the present–towards me or anyone else in their life.  I don’t own any part of that.  I’ve been a longtime believer of what other people think of me is none of my damn business!

I would dare to say that many people are similar to me when it comes to support.  I don’t require the people in my life to set off fireworks and hire a marching band for every accomplishment I make along the way, but I do need to be noticed.  I do need to know that someone is paying attention and they care enough to say “good job” once in a while.  It gets down to being validated; we all need it in some complicity.  What I don’t need is other people’s own self-doubt and insecurities wrapped up in a trojan horse named concern.  In other words, don’t come to me with concerns for my wellbeing when in actuality you are just projecting your own fears and anxiety.  We all know people like that.

It’s clear when someone who is really concerned for you expresses their feelings.  You feel good and uplifted.  You gain strength and you feel supported.  Their words aren’t laced with critical euphemisms.  Their comments are usually reinforcing their commitment to you.  Sometimes the most supportive sentence that packs the most positive effect is a simple “I love you.”

The Hunger Games…

June 4, 2013 — 2 Comments

Let me talk about yesterday.  As per my usual routine, I am up between 3:30am and 4:00am.  Just after 5am, I’m out the door to pick up Michael, my friend and business partner, and we head towards Novato to our health club for an early morning of work.  Michael starts seeing clients at 6am and I participate in 6am Spin class.  so back to me getting up by 4am…I woke up on my own and used the restroom as most people do upon waking.  As I washed my hands and rubbed my eyes, I thought to myself, “Hmmmmm, it seems a little light out.” I walked back to bed and glanced at the clock to see what time it was.  Wait…wait time does that clock read?…4:57am!  Oh my God, I have to leave this house in seven minutes!  Now you have to know this about me; I’m a ease-into-the-morning type of guy.  I like to wake up early and take my time getting ready.  I hate having the alarm go off and having to jump in the slower and race to get ready.  I’ve been that way all my life.  So, not having my alarm go off and having seven minutes to get out the door was not only extremely rare for me, it was downright disturbing.  I didn’t think Houdini himself could pull this off!

Thankfully I had all my clothing laid out ready to go and my duffel bag full of everything I needed.  I almost never to that the night before,  I usually always do it in the morning, but for ever reason, I took the time to do it the night before.  Oh, and I took a shower the night before just before bed because I was feeling sticky from the hot weather.  So it seem the stars aligned for me to oversleep.  So I made it out the door in seven minutes…and now to the real point…I didn’t have time to eat breakfast.  I know, the horror of it all… The only thing I gad time to grab was a small orange.  I knew that orange was not going to cut it…and it didn’t.

I had mentioned before that I have never been hungry since I started this Paleo diet on the 6th of May.  I’m being completely honest when I say I always used to be hungry…always.  Immediately after going 100% Paleo, I saw my hunger just fly out the window.  There were days when I had to make myself eat a meal because I wasn’t hungry at all and I knew that missing a meal would be problematic and many ways.  Yesterday morning was one of those problematic days.

After my spin class I went back to my office and began to address business at hand.  I wasn’t going to be able to leave work until 11:30am (that’s when Michael finishes with clients) and I wouldn’t be able to get something to eat until 12:30pm.  Around 10am, it hit me…the hunger pains.  I was hungry and I needed food. We have nutritional bars and shakes at the club, but none of those items are on the list of foods for my challenge, so I didn’t even entertain the idea.  I committed for 30 days to this program and I’m sticking to it.

By 11am I was really hungry.  I drank as much water as I could, but the hunger remained.  It was obvious that my body needed protein and it was rebelling against the lack of proper nutrition. I left work at 11:30-ish and headed back to Petaluma.  By the time I landed at home it was after 12:30pm.  I made myself a plate of chicken (one breast), heirloom tomatoes with a vinaigrette and roasted beats dressed with a garlic and olive oil dressing.  My plate was bigger, or rather my portions were bigger, than normal.  As I said, I was hungry.  As the day wore on I noticed that my hunger never really left me.  It had been awhile since I felt that kind of hunger.  I also felt a bit off in the energy department.  It became clear to me that missing my breakfast clearly messed up my whole day.  I just was never able to get back on par.  It just goes to prove how important breakfast is as a start to your day.  We often think that missing a meal, especially breakfast, won’t really matter–that we can make up the difference later in the day.  This just isn’t so.  Depriving your body of nutrition at anytime has its price…or specifically, its consequences.

Down 20 pounds! Yippy!

Down 20 pounds! Yippy!

I’m thrilled to announce that I officially made it past the 20 pound mark!  I got my Aria scale this morning and it read 232.7 pounds (that’s actually 21 pounds, thank you)!  Soon after my weigh-in I received an email from Fitbit congratulating me on my loss.  It was a great way to start my Sunday.

I was then off to Whole Foods to buy my ingredients for various dishes I prepare in advance for the week.  Shopping is much easier and faster since I only really buy meats, vegetables and fruits.  I’m much more discerning than I have ever been about my produce selection.  For whatever reason, it used to bug me when I experienced people examining a tomato or stalk of celery like a CSI agent.  I’s think to myself, “Let’s go here! That tomato isn’t gonna start talking to you and tell you it’s fresh!”  Why did that bug me anyway?  It had nothing to do with me.  Maybe deep down I thought they were doing something that actually mattered.  Well, now I’m that person…well, sort of.  I don’t expect my tomatoes to chat with me.  It’s very much a ritual now.  I go to the market early before the midday crowds arrive and scope out the best looking and freshest produce.  I have even taken produce that is damaged problematic to the produce clerk.  He always seem to appreciate that I take the time to do this.

My golden beat salad tossed with a fresh vinaigrette, minced garlic and parsley.

My golden beat salad tossed with a fresh vinaigrette, minced garlic and parsley.

I came home and prepared my large pot of chicken broth.  I also grilled rosemary chicken, Japanese yams and roasted golden beats that I then cooled and tossed in a vinaigrette with garlic and minced parsley.

After I cleaned up the kitchen I decided to get out in the beautiful weather and soak up some sun.  It was time to get some exercise and so I concluded that today was a good day to start getting back into running. It’s been a really LONG time since I took to the pavement. The last race I ran was in November of 2009 in San Francisco.  So to be clear, I never really was a runner.  I would run every now an then, but running wasn’t my thing.  I used to run track in high school, but I was a sprinter.  I have big muscular legs in comparison to the rest of my body.  I can run really fast for short distances, but I’m simply not designed for long distance runs.  It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the challenge of a 5 or 10k.  There’s something about running a course and crossing a finish line that is extremely validating to the soul.

I'm happy that I'm getting back to running BUT I'm bugged that my earbuds won't stay in!  Lord knows I need my music.

I’m happy that I’m getting back to running BUT I’m bugged that my earbuds won’t stay in! Lord knows I need my music.

My plan today was to start slow and prevent any injury.  I wouldn’t overdo it because I knew I would pay for it later, so I ran a block and walked a block, ran a block…walked a block. I did better than I thought I would (self pat on back). However, I was totally bugged that my ear buds kept popping out. I snapped the picture in this post at the height of my frustration…anyway, I know that Apple’s ear buds are not made for jogging or running…so, if ANYONE can recommend a good pair, I would be much obliged. Thank you in advance!

I am proud of myself.  I’m doing well with my plan to get healthy.  Each morning I get up and choose to live a life of health and vitality.  It’s never something I have to do do.  It’s never something that is a must.  It’s day by day and baby steps…and every baby step of the way I take the time to be thankful for all the amazing blessings in my life.  This is a lifelong journey with many potential course corrections along the way.  At this moment. the GPS in my soul is pointed in the right direction…here I go now…

Welcome to June!  Hasn’t this year been zooming by?  It was a really beautiful day here in Petaluma.  It did get a tad warm in the afternoon, but it cools off beautifully in the evening.  I went to work early today and was there between 6:45am and 11am.  During those hours I took time to do 30 minutes on the elliptical and then go for a 40 minute walk outside.  I was craving the sun.  Vitamin D is so important to our health.

When I came home I decided to go check out the new Sprouts that just open up in town.  Their slogan is “healthy living for less.” It is very nice.  They really do make it look like a farmer’s market inside.  I came out with some organic produce, most which was grown locally.  The total charge was $9.43.  Much cheaper than what I would have paid at Whole Foods.  Although Sprouts has a very large meat selection, they don’t come close to that’s of Whole Food’s variety of organic and free range meat.  I like the fact that all the meats at Whole Foods are in the butcher section behind a deli case.  Everything is fresh and the amount you need is created to order.  As I saw it today, all of the organic meats at Sprouts were prepackaged in the refrigerator section.  Everything looked extremely fresh, but I prefer to pick and choose my cuts of meat.
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Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.

~ Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

Self-control is…

Today was a good day all around.  As soon as I woke up, I was determined to make my first double workout day.  I planned to go to the club in the afternoon to spin for and hour, but also I would also include 30 minutes on a suspended elliptical.  However, I started my day working in my home office.  Between answering emails and scheduling meetings for next week, I started preparing dinner.  What did I make you ask?  Carnitas!  If you have ever made carnitas, you know that it’s a bit of a long process…well, it can be.  It’s not difficult but it can take some time.  I’ll put up my recipe in the next couple of days.  They are yummy!

On the way to the club to workout.  I'm workin' this bandana, okaaaaay!...

On the way to the club to workout. I’m workin’ this bandana, okaaaaay!…

Now back to my workout.  So, I made it to the club around 3pm and somehow quickly made it over to a suspended elliptical machine.  The club was virtually empty.  This time of year (when it’s nice out) and in the middle of the afternoon, is the best time to work out if you’re someone who doesn’t like crowds.  Although we never have crowds at Healthworks, it was exceptionally sparse today.

So I did my 30 minutes on the elliptical.  I kept a medium evaluation at all times and I manually adjusted my resistance from 4 to 16 (max setting is 20).  Now, I wasn’t on level 16 for long periods of time, maybe 1 to 2 minutes, but I got there.  I’ll increase my duration over time.

About a half hour later it was time for spin class.  I was a bit tired when I started.  I could feel the muscles I was working on the elliptical doin’ a little screaming.  I just stayed focus on getting to the end of the class no matter what.  If I had to ride with little less resistance on the bike, so be it.  All in all I did well.  I got a second wind 30 minutes into the class and finished fast and strong.  It helps that our spin classes are incredible.  One of my spin instructors, Glen, is a fireball of energy and fun.  He loves to spin and he loves making people feel good about themselves.  He always brings a huge smile and a truckload of child-like enthusiasm to his classes.

Michelle (our club superhero) came into the class just after it started.  She walked across the floor and I could help think to myself, my God, she looks amazing!  There were a few times that I glanced over at her and was simply awe struck at how much she has transformed her body.  As she rode I could see how well her arms and legs have become defined.  No one would ever know that this woman had once carried an excess of 90 pounds on her body.

After class Michelle was nice enough to come up to me and congratulate me on my success for far.  We chatted about how when you start a diet program it can be so exciting and new; that it’s great to see yourself get to a positive place with all your hard work.  Michelle new that my initial 30 day cleanse was about to be up.  This coming Monday is my last day.  She asked me what my next step would be after the cleanse.  I told her I was going to keep on practicing a Paleo diet/lifestyle.  It’s works really well for me so far.  I’m dropping weight and it’s completely cut my hunger.  Michelle reminded me to be open to a possible time when maybe I need to “change it up.” She encouraged me to have a plan for when I’m dining out and when I’m at celebrations, etc.  She asked the question, “So, are you never going to ever have another potato chip again? Good question.  The answer is that I’m taking one day at a time and choosing to live and eat this way each morning.  My commitment is to a healthy and strong body, not a diet.  I will eat this way until it doesn’t work for me anymore, and then I’ll switch it up.

For Michelle, she loves the fact that she can have a single scoop of ice cream, love that experience, and not ending up wanting more or eating the whole carton.  This is a great way to look at living in the real world.  A world filled so many great culinary experiences.

For me, the most important aspect to remember about striving for good health and good nutrition is that we all have the power to make the choice to live a better life.  We can make great choices moment to moment–even in the shadow of bad choices, we can let go of the past and make good choices.  We can be successful because we simply state that we are going to succeed and take responsibility for all of our actions.  We can either create a story for ourselves that states that losing weight is hard and difficult or we can create one that says we can lose weight without stress, drama, or pain.  I’m going for the later.

It was one of those weekends.  You know the one…everything seems to be super calm and quiet…too quiet.  Then before you know it, BAM!  That something happens which comes out of nowhere and hits you right between the eyes. Yep, that’s the kind of weekend I had.  I tell you this not because I’m going to discuss the something, but rather, how I reacted to it…at least from a diet perspective.

Now I have to tell you, I haven’t verged off my 30-day challenge at all.  Not one bit.  In fact, late last week I went to put a breath mint in my mouth and spit it out realizing it wasn’t on the program.  A breath mint!  Now I ask you, how many other people might have spit out a breath mint?  Anyway, suffice to say I’ve been golden.

So this big something happens and comes rocks my world.  I’m in a daze and trying to figure which way is up AND to my amazement…wait for it…none of my old, nasty patterns of culinary self-soothing show their nasty heads.  I didn’t realize this until almost 9pm last night.  I had just finished brewing another delicious batch of chicken broth.  I went to one of my lower kitchen cabinets where I happen store a few airtight glass pitchers.  As I opened the cabinet to grab the pitchers I saw my stemwear just to the right.  I stood up, looked at the clock and was taken back by the fact that I had an amazingly stressful weekend and NOT once had I even thought about pouring a glass of wine to relax…I mean, not once.  It wasn’t even a spec of dust on my radar screen!  I was so completely shocked.  What’s more, I didn’t want any type of comfort food.  I had no desire to put myself into a carb-coma.  In the past, my weapon of mass self-destruction would have been to order an Old Chicago pizza and paired it with a bottle of Moët Chandon bubbly.  This was my food therapy.

It’s amazing to me how, in fact, I had been so relaxed and clam during this something.  Before, my whole body would feel the trauma of the something.  I would literally feel physical stress and my cravings would start to go insane.  None of that happened this time around.  I tell you, I really like the feel of that…this.

Is my new behavior all related to eating a clean and whole diet?  Well, yes, of course.  Although it’s much more than diet alone.  I have found that documenting my food intake each day has been invaluable.  It has really kept me on track and conscious of what I’m putting in my body.  As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I have never been someone to write things down, especially what I eat.  I have avoided such things like the plague.

Fast forward to me, today, writing everything down in a Google docs spreadsheet.  Who would have thought.  I have actually become a isty, bitsy teenie, weenie obsessed with my food intake.  I’m not obsessed in a bad way…it’s a good way.  The kind of way that makes you really realize that you are literally what you eat.  Garbage in, garbage out.  Good stuff in, great stuff out!  My friend and business partner, Michael Finn, often asks his clients, “What would you like your eyes made out of?  Organic carrots and grass-fed protein OR processed nachos and a slurpee?!

This morning I got on the scale as usual and I was surprised that I gained a pound.  I didn’t get all upset because I know the body fluctuates and, to be fair, I’ve been losing almost every day since I started the challenge.  As I said earlier, I’ve been perfect with my food during this challenge.  So, instead of getting all upset, I thought rationally and just continued to notice and track what I’m eating.  I’ll look to see how I might weigh in tomorrow.  I might have to make adjustments to my eating.  I might have to cut something out or add something in.  Maybe I’m eating too much OR too little.  What’s important is that I’m taking notice everyday and taking action.  I know this is how one prevents from all of a sudden gaining 20, 30 or even 50 pounds.  Take notice, listen to your body and make corrections accordingly.  It’s easier to have to lose a pound or two rather than being face with a 50 pound-plus journey.  Much easier.

 

Coach Christine Law - Leader / Creator of the 30-Day Challenge.

Coach Christine Law – Leader / Creator of the 30-Day Challenge.

I have little more than a week to go on my 30-day nutritional challenge AND I’m loving every minute of it.  My good friend and business consultant, Kevin Waldron, is completely responsible for enrolling me in participating in this challenge with him and his wife (and many others).  Thank you Kevin!

This program is very similar to the ones my friend and business partner, Michael Finn conducts every now and then.  However, he’s been so busy coaching and training at our club, that he hasn’t had the time to do a group nutritional seminar in a long time.  This is where the magic of Christine came in!

The leader of the pack for this challenge is personal trainer and health practitioner, Christine Law.  Christine has put together a program that is simple to follow and become engaged.  The program can lead to dramatic results!  I’m living proof!  I’ve lost over 17 pounds to date, I’ve been sleeping soundly, any minor aches are completely gone, and I have more energy than ever.  I might dare say I’m even thinking clearer.  Here’s some of the possible benefits of the program:

  • Detoxification – Toxic and polluted food, air, water, and environment makes cleaning the colon, liver and other organs more important than ever. The burden of over-pollution may be responsible for deleterious effects on the immune system making us highly susceptible to chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
  • Improved Digestion – The National Digestive Diseases Information Center reports that over 4 million Americans experience constipation frequently accounting for 2.5 million physician visits a year.
  • Reduce Inflammation – Increased inflammation causes an immune response, whereby the body tries to fight the inflammation by increasing cortisol (cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone). However, when the body is focused on producing cortisol, it lowers the levels of testosterone and progesterone. Managing inflammation is so essential for optimal hormonal balance, as it allows the effective production of lean muscle mass and burning belly fat.
  • Boost immune system –The modern world promotes a fast paced and very hectic lifestyle that puts incredible strain on our minds and bodies.  A weak immune system opens us up to many dangers, ranging from bacterial or viral infections, to diseases of the immune system.
  • Lose Weight – Ingesting foods that have better nutritional value will allow your body to use food as energy and you will find you won’t need as much food to feel satisfied.

Read all about Christine, her coaching and personal training philosophies.  Click on new name above or download an informative PDF in my downloads section in the lower right-hand side of this blog.

I’ve never been someone who could write things down.  I’m sure I tried at least a handful of time to keep a diary as a youngster only to give up a few days into it.  Something about it always felt so constrictive.  If this is still so, then why am I writing a blog such as this?  Well, there are a few personal reasons a few of which I mention in the About This Journey... page.  However, the main reason I chose this medium called “blog” to share my journey is because of one woman who became a member of my club soon after I purchased it in 2011.  Her name is Michelle and she was able to join my health club because she won a one-year membership I had donated to the Novato Mother’s Club.

I found out that Michelle was keeping a blog titled, Diary of an Aspiring Loser.  Michelle started her blog years ago, and in her own words, “… I started this blog in February 2007 to journal my weight loss triumphs and challenges. I’ve learned a lot along the way and I’ve really enjoyed sharing my experiences while getting tips and support from others…”

Michelle - BEFORE

Michelle – BEFORE

I remember the day Michelle walked into the club.  From that first day I have witnessed her commitment to becoming healthy.  She created a plan and stuck to it.  It wasn’t always easy, but she was dedicated to a better life for herself.  What impressed me was how Michelle documented everything relating to her weight journey; what she did, what she ate, how she felt, what exercises she did, what worked and didn’t work.  She put it all out there.  And the result?  In about 16 months, Michelle was at her goal weight.

In January of this year I decided to promote our club by shooting professional photos of some of our members.  I was planning on having them printed as large banners and placed in our windows.  I asked Michelle if she would volunteer to be photographed.  She happily said yes.

In my first round of shooting, I photographed about 17 of our members.  As I was processing the digital film and reviewed the overall results, it was clear that I wanted…needed…Michelle to be our first “member in the window.”  I had the perfect tag line too.

About four weeks later I brought Michelle into my office to view her photo which was now a full-blown marketing ad for the club.  I sat her down and told her to take a deep breath, close her eyes and realize that what she was about to see what the result of all her hard work.  She opened her eyes, looked at her picture and read the caption, “We are in the business of creating cape free superheroes.” She was moved to tears.  She kept asking out loud, “Is this me?  Is this really me?!”  Read all about her experience becoming a cape free superhero on her blog.

Michelle really deserved that moment and I felt honored to have been a small part in creating that.  Too often we are become obsessed on the “becoming” of who we are and not what we have “become.”  It’s about being present and taking a good look at the work you have done today, acknowledging your efforts, and taking pride in the small accomplishments.  It took something for Michelle to lose her excess weight and get healthy.  It took something for her to get up everyday and choose to live life fully and dynamically.  As I said, she had her many challenges along the way, but she kept going…because that’s what the journey is all about.

Michelle -AFTER

Michelle -AFTER

You see living life to the fullest is not about jumping out of a plane or traveling to Africa to be on safari.  It’s understanding that everything you experience in life is life and you live life to the fullest by embracing everything brought to your table and accepting it with gratitude. You’re not living your life by asking, “why me?.”  A person who lives life to the fullest asks, “why not me?!” Or more specifically declares, “of course me!”

Am am inspired by Michelle’s journey and her willingness to share herself with the world.  So much so, I am following in her footsteps.  Here, on my blog, you will witness my journey, my ups and downs, my triumphs and tribulations.  And as Michelle mentions on her blog, I, too, hope that in sharing myself I inspire others to take action in their lives.

As I’m finishing this post I have a smile on my face…because I’m thinking about this time next year…maybe, just maybe there will be a new poster of Michelle hanging in the window…but she won’t be alone.