Thursday, November 1, 2012

90 Day Challenge Complete

So, I've completed the first ninety days of Operation Healthy Stacie. These past ninety days have flown by! I can't believe it's been three months since I decided, once and for all, to get fit & healthy. I have dieted and worked out on and off since middle school. And nothing has ever really worked. I've never liked being overweight - ever. It's actually brought a lot of pain and heartache to my life and has really held me back. Bit in spite of how difficult and painful it's been to be overweight, my love of food and my battle with emotional eating has always won out. Up until now that is!

For the first time in my life, I'm choosing real joy, real sadness, real emotions, real life instead of dulling the pain with food or alcohol. For the first time, I see food as fuel. For the first time I see myself as an athlete and see working out as a part of my daily routine, not a pain in the ass. I actually find working out to be fun. :) For the first time in my life, I'm focusing on me and really allowing myself the freedom to be me. And for the first time in my life, I'm making sacrifices for the future me and I'm excited for her! She's going to be fierce and strong. She's going to be healthy physically, emotionally, spiritually. She's going to be a loving wife because she loves herself well first. She's going to truly live life and view it as an adventure!

These past ninety days have been life changing - life giving! They have not been easy at all. There have been peaks and valleys along the way. I have had successes and failures. I have been rocked by grief. I've learned my body is A LOT stronger than I ever thought possible. I've learned that I can push myself beyond my limits and it's 90% mental. I've learned that I'm pretty effing amazing! And for thirty-three years I held myself back and hid behind food and fat. But not anymore!

I ninety days, I have lost THIRTY pounds and twenty-seven inches! I had two goals for these ninety days. The first goal was two pounds a week - twenty-four pounds. The stretch goal was twenty-nine pounds. And I lost thirty! I am now lighter and more fit than I have ever been in my adult life. I think the last time I was this weight, I was in sixth or seventh grade! I'm really proud of myself and what I've accomplished. And I'm really excited for the next ninety days.

Because of I'm ahead of my goal, I only need to lose 18 pounds in the next ninety days (by February 1). So, I'm going to set a goal to lose twenty pounds in the next three months. That will put me in the 210's. I only need to be 1/4 of the way to my goal, but I'm already 1/3 of the way there! I CAN do this!!!!

180 here I come!!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Some Thoughts at Thirty-four

Here are some of my thoughts on my body, on love and on life...

My Body
I am learning that I am a work in progress and that includes my body. Just a few months ago, I wouldn't have had anything kind to says in regards to my body. But over the past three months, I am learning to have a different perspective. I like my eyes (most people say they are my best feature), my smile, my teeth, my dimples, my wrists, my collarbone, and my legs. I love how strong my legs are and how they are curvy and voluptuous  strong and getting more toned each week. They helped me run a half marathon. They help me get out my nervous energy by bouncing when I sit :). They take me everywhere I go. They look good in a dress. And my left thigh hosts the most amazing piece of art I've ever seen - my phoenix - that reminds me that I am a new creation! And I don't have to be who I've always been or who others have told me I am or believe what I've always believed. I am new everyday and I get to choose what that looks like! My body is not where I want it to be, but it's getting there. And I will achieve my goal because for the first time in thirty-four years, I love my body. I love my body for what it can do and I don't shame it for not looking the way I or others think it should. I am strong. I am sexy. I am beautiful.

Love
I believe that love is the greatest gift you can give someone. I think that love is found in the details of life/relationships. I believe in soul mates, but that there are only a few people who are lucky enough to actually find them. I believe that love is a choice. I believe that loving someone can be the most glorious and most painful thing a person can do. I think about love all the time. It's something that has eluded me my whole life - romantic love that is. When I love, I love big. I think I'll be an amazing wife and mother someday. I'm truly terrified that I'll never find love, that I'll never become a wife or mother. I think that if that never happens for me, my heart will be permanently broken.

Life
Life is often unfair. Bad things happen. People hurt people. People die too young. Life can be messy. Life can pass us by if we let it. It's easy to put on blinders and find yourself "coasting" through life and just maintaining the status quo. Life is what we choose to make it. Life can be an adventure if we want it to be. Life is much more a world of grey than I'm comfortable with. Life is about the people we meet. It's about learning, growing, building relationships, creating memories. Life is about choosing to live!







Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues

So it's been a little over a month since my friend Jim passed away. I still find it hard to believe that he's gone and is never coming back. I've lost people in my life before, but never anyone that I loved and treasured as much as Jim.

Grief is a strange thing. There are days where I feel "normal" all day long. There are days where all I want to do is cry and lay in my bed. There are days where the grief just sneaks up on me out of nowhere and all of the sudden I am sobbing or angry at the world or both. And then there are the days that I just feel completely numb, void of any emotions at all. These days scare me the most, as I don't like not feeling. I've been totally exhausted too and have been falling asleep on the couch (something I never do) and having a really difficult time getting out of bed. I wonder how long grief is going to have its hold on me. Last week Tuesday, I went for my morning run around my complex and got about fifteen minutes in and started sobbing uncontrollably. There was one point where I was crying so hard that I had to stop in my tracks and pull it together so I could continue on. I hope no one saw me. I haven't felt like this since my last real heartbreak six years ago. I don't want to feel this way, but I don't know how else to feel.

My birthday is this weekend, I'll be 34. And everyone who knows me, knows I L.O.V.E. love birthdays. I love celebrating, spending time with friends, getting dressed up, doing something fun and just having a good time. Bit this year I don't even feel like celebrating. I would be perfectly content sleeping the day away and talking to no one.

I lost my friend. My brother. He's been the man in my life for the past thirteen years. And I hope the man that I marry one day is a lot like Jim. Every two weeks I would spend an hour and a half with him and his wife. Laughing, joking, talking, learning, connecting, loving, sharing - doing life together. He brought so much joy to my life. I don't think I realized just how much until now. I'm never going to laugh with him again, and that breaks my heart so very much.

Jim's memorial was on October 1st and it was so very sad, so very beautiful and truly honored his life. At the service a woman named Mary read a narrative that she wrote about Jim's like and the many journeys he's been on along the way. It is one of the most beautiful and amazing things I've every heard. It's really long, so I won't post the whole thing here, but I want to share the epilogue that she wrote about Jim's final journey.

I always think I live long time, my family have endless years together.  To watch my children grow up and settle happy make pride in my heart.  When sickness strike me, I pray and pray and fight hard to live.  I tell some people, if I not die thirty year ago, I not die now.  But God have other plan for me.  God take my body to different place, but leave behind my spirit……to hold together treasure pieces of my life, to visit again all spaces on earth I love.  If you look close, you find me in velvet grass of well care-for lawn, in delicate spice of steamy noodle soup, in flea market loud bustle, in green stalk of lucky bamboo, in strong energy flow on Vietnam New Year Day.  If you see hunky Chippendale dancer or Heineken beer drinker or turtle with painted toes or ailing plant come back healthy, it will be sign I am here. I want no sadness for me, only good memory.  I hope you smile to think of me……with five broken lawn mower or second-hand trailer with flat tire or big elephant clam with magic power.  Laugh to remember my family drive away fast from campground in early morning light or eat Thanksgiving dinner late because turkey not thaw before roasting or hunting in snow for hours but not find right Christmas tree. Some times in my life hard, but always more joy than sorrow, always my family love to lift me up.  Vicki, Jimmy, Derek and Yuki, too, know I still stand by their side and help light the way. Cindy know my happiest time is 22 year I spend marry to her. I say one week before I go, with friends to witness, I wait for Cindy and I will marry her again. This promise I keep until end of time.
I don't know about you, but like Jim, I have always just assumed I would have a long life. But that is not guaranteed to any of us. So every time I see a really nice lawn, lucky bamboo, Vietnamese New Year, koi fish, Heineken, turkey dinner, Chip n Dale dancers, well manicured nails or laughter - I will think of my friend and I will miss him. These things will always remind me of my beautiful friend Jim Dung Diep and will serve as reminders to honor my friend's life and legacy and to live a life filled with joy and love.









Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jim: My Personal Hero

On Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 1:00am this world lost an amazing man. My dear friend, Jim lost his battle with cancer. He has left behind his wife, Cindy and his three children: Vicky (20), Jimmy (turning 18 tomorrow) and Derrick (10). And he has left a void in this world. I really can't believe he's gone. Part of me expects to walk into his shop next Friday and be greeted with a "Staaaaacie Brown! How are you?!?!" and a loud belly laugh from the both of us. It breaks my hear that that will never happen again. I have moments where I'm fine, where I put aside my grief and can laugh and be present in the moment. And I have moments where all I can do is weep, weep for my friend who is no longer with us and for his wife and kids. He will never see Vicky get married. He will never see the boys graduate from high school. He will never meet his grandchildren. Cindy has lost her best friend. Jim and Cindy did EVERYTHING together. They were together at all times, working side by side every day. Cindy joked that the only time she wasn't with Jim was in the shower - that that was the one place that was her solitude :). I can't even begin to comprehend the devastation she is experiencing now that Jim is gone.

Jim's passing has my mind reeling. I don't understand why he wasn't healed. I don't understand why he got cancer. I don't understand why Cindy and the kids have had the most important man in their life taken from them. And I know I'll never understand why. I've also been reflecting a lot about my own life. I'm so very glad that the last time I saw Jim I gave him a huge hug and told him that I loved him very much. But so often in my life I take people for granted, assuming they're always going to be in my life. I tell myself all the time that I'll call that person tomorrow, I'll send them a card/email later, they know how much I care about them, we can get together some other time...I put the people I claim are most important to me on the back burner to work and sometimes to laziness.....I don't want to lose another friend suddenly to cancer or a car accident or whatever it may be, and have regrets that they didn't know how much I loved them and valued them. So I am going to do my best to be more intentional with my friends and really tell them how I feel - to put myself out there with the people I love.

And I have been thinking about where I put my time and energy right now. I spend most of my time working,  working out, sleeping and watching TV. I think I need to step back and re-prioritize my life and do what's important: spending time with my family and friends and doing things that bring me joy!

A few months ago, I auditioned for The Biggest Loser (another post for another time). And on the application, they asked the question "Who is your personal hero?" And I immediately thought of Jim. Here's what I wrote:

My personal hero is my friend Jim. When he was a young boy, he was put on a boat by himself by his brother to make a life in America. He grew up very poor in Vietnam & his family wanted more for him. He went through many struggles after coming here. He was moved around a lot – bounced from home to home. He was teased, ridiculed, abused, homeless, hungry. He suffered greatly. But when Jim tells his story, he always focuses on the good, never the bad. He tells his story with a smile on his face and always had hope that things would be okay, even in the darkest times…He met his wife, Cindy and they married, had three amazing children, and own their own successful business. He is living the “American Dream.” I don’t think his family knew the depth of their decision when they put Jim on that boat, but they really have saved his life! In April of this year, Jim was diagnosed with liver cancer. He is currently in treatment. If her were in Vietnam, this would be a death sentence. Jim is a fighter through and through and views his cancer as just another trial. He still has a smile on his face as he fights for his life. He is the most positive and amazing person I know and really is a hero. He has become like family to me over the past thirteen years. He is the older brother I always wanted and I admire him greatly. I hope that one day I can be a little bit like him. My life is richer because of my dear friend, Jim.

Here's a link to Jim's story that was in the Kalamazoo Gazette on Christmas Day:  http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2011/12/refugee_reflects_on_freedom_an.html




I will remember my friend Jim as a man with a huge heart! I will remember his laughter, his mischievous nature. I will always remember teaching him American slang terms and how to use them PROPERLY :). I will remember how hardworking he was. I will remember how much he loved his family. I will remember Jim as a fighter, a father, a husband, a brother, a friend. I will remember the endless number of conversations he and I had about me getting married and having babies. He wanted that for me just as much as I want it for me. Jim has been such a bright spot in my life over the past thirteen years. No matter what mood I was in when I saw him, I always left with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. Jim, without knowing it, has left a legacy here on earth. And I hope that I will do him proud as I continue to live my life and attempt to live my life the way Jim did - with hope and joy! 

I miss you my friend and look forward to our reunion in Heaven one day!





Friday, July 6, 2012

Last Place

So I've been going to a class at the gym for two plus years called Cardio Sculpt; it's a mix of cardio and weight training. It's a fantastic class and made up of some amazing people. I've made some great friends in this class and built in accountability as well :). This class has kicked my ass three days a week - EVERY single time. It never gets easier. It's intense and somehow fun (crazy, I know!). I have seen a lot of personal growth in my strength and endurance since I started the class. My form is better, I'm lifting heavier weights, pushing through the uncomfortable stage more and more. But the one thing that has always been tough for me is that I'm always last! And when I says always, that's not an exaggeration. We go out on the indoor track and run a set number of laps, and I'm always the last person to finish running. And some days it doesn't bother me to be last, but some days it really upsets me. And I have this internal conversation about being too weak, too fat, too out of shape, etc; that I'm just always going to be last - the weak link. So because I have this internal conversation, I don't push myself. I'm going to be last anyway, so why push harder?! Well, today I got angry. I got sick of being last. I'm the youngest person in the class by at least a decade (some people in the class are in their 60's), I shouldn't be last! And I decided I was going to push myself as hard as I could out on that track. The first time we went out of the track and ran, I pushed myself and I was still the last one done. Normally that would have been a "see, I told you" moment and I would have resigned and quit trying. But I decided to give it one more try. And we went out on the track again and I ran as hard as I could, chanting "Left. Right. Left. Right....." in my head, just putting one foot in front of the other. And do you know what happened??? I wasn't last!!!! Woo hoo! I was right in the middle of the pack! And in that moment, I had a little victory dance in my heart. I pushed myself and I did it.

It's amazing what limits we choose to put on ourselves. And I know for me personally, I am my own worst enemy. And the internal conversations I have with myself are often limiting and negative. But this morning I proved to myself that if I believe I can do something and I want it bad enough and I push myself through the discomfort, I can do it! And this applies to things outside of the gym too. This translates into my job, my friendships, my dating life, my relationship with God and my relationship with myself. If I think I'm going to be last, then I'm going to be last. And when I choose to see myself as strong and capable of more, guess what? I am!

I am what I am, no matter what I believe!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Invisibility Cloak

Okay, so I'm really struggling with being seen. Or I guess I should say, I'm struggling with the fact that I feel like no one sees me. And what's ironic is, the heavier I get, the more invisible I feel. I'm a big girl and take up more space than the average person, so I know people see me, they have to, right?! But often times I feel like I've unknowingly put on an invisibility cloak. I mean, I'll go into a store or church or any crowded place and get bumped into, pushed, stepped on, walked right in front of, over looked. There are times where I'll even speak and no one hears me. And at times, I'll make myself known, put myself out there, risk, and receive nothing in return - silent rejection. WTF?!?! What is it about me that this happens? What am I doing or not doing to allow others to see me as invisible? I have to wonder how invisible I would feel if I were thin. I also wonder if there are other overweight women who feel invisible like I do. Is it about my weight or is it about something else? I'm not sure.

I do know that I, like everyone else, desire deeply to be known/loved/seen. I want someone to know all of me - the good, the bad and the ugly and then choose to love me anyway. I want to be noticed in a crowded room. And what I want more than anything, is to be picked over all the "thin pretty girls." I want someone to see beyond the surface and see all the amazing qualities I have. I want someone to care enough to get to know me, to take a chance on me.

And I know God loves me, that he sees me, that he knows me (even better than I know myself). He loves me in spite of me. He loves me and sees me even when I push him away and try to hide. He pursues me. He knows my heart, my hurt, my desires. I know this. And most of the time, it's more than head knowledge. But right now, I'm hurt and confused and angry with God. I just feel like he too, doesn't see me or hear me. And I know his word says, "I will never leave you or forsake you." But it feels like he has, like he's left me all alone and doesn't hear my heart or my prayers.

So because I'm not feeling seen by God, I have turned to my old ways. I have gone back to what I know, what's comfortable. I have turned to food and solitude. I have pushed people away, isolated myself so I can't be hurt. And I have dealt with my hurt, my sorrow, my grief by eating and eating some more. I numb myself with food hoping I will stop hurting, but it only makes me feel worse. I have gained a lot of weight and my clothes are really tight and I feel disgusting. And I know I need to do something, to get myself back on track, I know. Most of me wants to. But part of me just wonders why bother. What difference will it make? I will still be where I am now, alone. And I know that that is a lie straight from hell, but for some reason, it's so easy to believe.

So I sit here in front of my computer with tear filled eyes asking for your help. I cannot do this alone. I need to be seen, to be held accountable, to not be left alone in the dark. I am making a commitment. Starting May 1st, I am wiping the slate clean and starting anew. I am going to the gym/working out six days a week. I will no longer eat fast food. I am cutting back the amount of alcohol I consume. I am going to work on my relationships with my friends/coworkers. And I am going to work on my relationship with God. I commit to quiet time every day. And I commit to being at my goal weight of 180 pounds by June 1st, 2013. That's going to be hard work. But I know I can do it. And when I reach my goal weight, I will mark that occasion by getting a tattoo sleeve. So will you hold me accountable? I'm tired of hiding and tired of being invisible. I am declaring that I am seen and I am known.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Confidence

Confidence is defined as being certain; belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities.

Where does confidence come from? Why is it some people have it and some people don't? And why do some people have A LOT of it?

I went out for drinks with a couple friends tonight and as I observed the room, that's what I noticed. There were women in the room who were full of confidence. They talked to others - strangers even - with boldness and were totally sure of who they were. They flirted with men with great ease. They knew who they were and were certain of who they are and what they have to offer. I was in awe as I observed this. And if I'm being honest - pretty envious. I wish I were like that.

I am so much more confident than I was a couple years ago. I really have come a long way. But comparatively, I have a long friggin way to go! I want to be able to look at an attractive man and believe that I can flirt with him and he won't be disgusted by it. I want to be able to get dressed up and KNOW that I'm sexy and beautiful - not just fake it.

So really where does confidence come from? You can't buy it or take a pill or just hope for it. Christy Glas, Ph.D., a sociologist at Utah State University says, "confidence has to do with one’s inner perception of his or her ability to fulfill a particular job or role in society. To be sure, Glass also says that much, if not most, self-confidence is influenced by the world around us. This includes our crazy families, supportive friends and employers (likely falling somewhere between crazy and supportive)–not to mention People magazine and Victoria’s Secret."

That makes sense. My confidence is low because I don't believe I fill the role of beautiful woman in our society. And the world around me (family, friends, media) has affirmed that for me my whole life. So it must mean that people who are confident have been praised growing up and told that they can do anything they set their mind to. They are very lucky people.

I know I can grow to be a more confident person. I can. It will just be a lot of hard work to undo all the past wounds and self-doubt I have been lugging around for the last 33 years.