When my phone rang last week, a strange number on the display, I almost didn’t answer it. But then I did. And I was surprised to hear who was on the other end.
I really was surprised. Mom had said she was going to nominate me. But, honestly, with everything going on in her household lately, I thought for sure she wouldn’t get around to it.
Besides, even if she did nominate me, she’s my mom and she’s supposed to be proud of me. How much weight could that carry in an award like this?
Apparently enough. I suppose inspiration is inspiration — no matter what.
So, what are these awards, anyway?
The Governor’s Fitness Awards serves as a platform for recognizing individuals, public officials and organizations that are committed to healthy living. Each award recognizes the many different ways the winners are inspiring and influencing Michigan residents to live a healthy lifestyle.
I was chosen as an honoree in the Conquering Obesity category along with two other deserving individuals. It really is humbling to be nominated for an award like this.
You see, I never set out to try to inspire anyone or encourage anyone to change their lives. I just set out to make my life better and, hopefully in the process, extend it. So that’s what I did. Every drop of sweat, every “yes” when I wanted to say “no” and every “no” when I wanted to say “yes,” every pound lost and mile run. That’s what this always has been about.
And I wrote about it. Because that’s what I do — I write for my mental health. I write to process things; I write to explore things; I write to deal with things; and I write to celebrate things.
At first I kept my blog private — just a simple online journal to help me deal with the enormous task of losing 100 pounds. But through my Weight Watchers meetings, I saw that there were a lot of people out there struggling with some of the same issues I was writing about on a daily basis. And I thought maybe it would do some good for people to know that they’re not alone.
No one “in real life” talks about the scary parts of losing weight and getting healthy — of taking control of your life. They talk about the befores and the afters — the amazing difference between then and now and how “skinny you look” now. The glory side of losing weight.
But what about the fear that comes with shedding the emotional weight along with the physical weight? What about self-sabotage because it’s SO scary not to have that extra 100 pounds to hide behind anymore? What about when your friends and family aren’t exactly supportive of you?
So my blog became my voice — and, I’d hoped, a voice for those who couldn’t find theirs. A voice that said: It’s OK to be scared and frustrated and sad. But even more than that? It’s also OK to celebrate the small victories along with the big ones.
In the process of blogging about my progress, a couple of really amazing things happened:
- People — besides my mom — started reading what I was writing. And they liked it. And told me how nice it was for someone to be real. And they told me I inspired them.It was very strange that something I was doing physically was inspiring anyone. For someone who used to be known only for her smarts, it was a bit of a pleasant surprise. And it wasn’t something I took lightly. That’s why I don’t sugarcoat things, and I will always be real. I deserve it, and so do the people who take time out of their days to read what I have to say.
- I met some amazing and inspiring people who were on a very similar path as I was. From those I met locally, to those I met online, I’ll always be grateful for the people who’ve strengthened and encouraged me on this journey. I definitely need to mention the HUGE community of health and fitness bloggers out there. And some of them have become even better friends than those I’ve known for years “in real life.” They have your back — whether it’s for a supportive hug or a kick in the pants. And I am honored and privileged to know them — they have made all the difference in the world.
It has been an amazing journey where I’ve been inspired just as much as I’ve done the inspiring. And the best part? It’s not over.
Now that I have regained control of my life, my health — both physically and mentally — I’m no longer scared of where this road will take me. I see opportunities and challenges that excite me more than they do scare me. (I mean, sure, a little fear now and again is a good thing — it means we’re alive.) And I see a whole world that has opened up to me that I didn’t even know existed — a lot of it in my own back door.
Hiking on Lake Michigan? You got it. Jumping out of a plane over the middle of the state? Sign me up! Running a marathon through the streets of Grand Rapids? You had me at 26.2. Kayaking through the lakes and rivers? Boy, would I!
Perhaps the best part about being nominated for this award? It’s for The Mitten.
“Thank you for being such a great role model for your fellow Michiganders. Sharing your story will help to continue to work to create a healthier Michigan.” ~From the letter I received regarding the award
This award — and what it seeks to achieve/recognize — is rooted right here in the state I’ve grown to love. I’ve always liked Michigan. But through my journey to get healthy and fit, I’ve grown to love this state. In fact, I’m currently wearing my “Smitten with the Mitten” shirt, and it couldn’t be any more true. It wasn’t until I found myself being active out on those hiking trails and running paths and lakes that I truly appreciated what a gift I was given by being born in this state. There is so much to do that the opportunities to be active are really endless. For runners or walkers or bikers or swimmers or hikers … just step out your back door.
To be an honoree for this award truly is an honor. One that makes me reflective and appreciative as much as it does proud. Yes, I worked hard to get where I am today — I continue to work at living my happiest, healthiest life. But I could never have done it alone. Luckily, I don’t have to.