Tag Archives: inspiration

A Letter

As we sit down to celebrate Christmas with our family and friends, I’d like to share a quick note to those who are already looking ahead to 2013 with hopes of taking control of their health and fitness — once and for all.

Dear New Year Newbie,

Welcome! I know this was a big, scary step for you to take after all these years of saying “tomorrow’s the day.” I know because I’ve been there. It wasn’t the new year when I took that first step in to the gym. But, for me — like for you, it was a brand-new start.

I’ve walked in your shoes, and I know that it can be hard to take that step, wondering what those other people must think of you when you walk through that door. But, don’t be too scared. Most people in the gym are there for the same reason: To take control of their health and to reap the benefits of exercise.

Now, you may hear people bemoaning the presence of the “Resolutionists.” I won’t lie to you: it’s true that some people will roll their eyes or make snide comments about your presence in the gym, knowing that many who “start fresh” on Jan. 1 don’t last through February.

But, I also promise you: it’s not everyone. Some people will welcome you to the gym and provide encouragement and advice (sometimes unsolicited). A majority, though, will go about their business, lifting weights, running on the treadmill or punching the heavy bag. They probably won’t even know you’re there. Because when they’re in the gym, they are there to do work — and, truthfully, they don’t care what anyone else is doing.

That last type? That’s me.

I go to the gym to get stuff done. Don’t be offended it I don’t make chit chat or approach you and say hello. Granted, if we make eye contact, I’ll absolutely smile and say “hi.” And, if you come up to me with a question, I’ll take out my headphones and answer. (OK, if I see someone looking really lost, I’ll ask them if they need help.)

I do know it’s scary to go to the gym alone because you’re afraid everyone’s looking at you, judging you. Rest assured, they’re not. Most people are like me: They want to get a good workout in, so they’re really not judging (or even noticing) the other people who walk through the door.

But, I do offer a few words of advice to make your first days in the gym a little smoother:

  • Learn the gym’s rules. If there’s a 30-minute limit to the cardio equipment, observe it. If you have to pre-register for a spin bike, do so. If there are certain lockers reserved for specific members, don’t use them.
  • Learn the “culture” of your gym. There’s a certain cycle/personality of every gym at different times of the day. For instance, I’ve learned that I’d rather lift in the morning because that’s when people are less chatty and more business when it comes to the gym. And I seldom have to push through a crowd of gossiping guys (and, yes, at my gym, it’s always the guys) to get to the weight bench. It may take time to really figure out the pulse of your gym, but you’ll be glad you did.
  • Use common courtesy. Don’t stand around blocking equipment while you’re chatting or resting or (for whatever reason) texting/gabbing on the phone. Be aware that there are other people in the gym, too. And be respectful. Oh, yeah, please (dear, God, please) wipe down the equipment after you use it.
  • Take advantage of the gym’s resources. Many gyms offer information, get-to-know-the-gym sessions, classes and nutrition resources that will help you reach your goals. What’s even better? Most of it is free.
  • Learn how to use the machines or weights or whatnot. If you don’t know how, ask. You’ll save yourself a lot of time — and injury. There is gym staff for a reason. And, if they’re not helpful, find another gym (if you can) where they are. Other gym-goers will most usually help when you ask them — as long as you do so courteously and appropriately.
  • Have confidence. Know that you’re there for one reason alone: you. And have faith in your own strengths and abilities. One thing about this new life you’re stepping into: You’ll quickly learn that you’re stronger than you ever imagined.
  • Forget them. Stop worrying about what other people in the gym are thinking about you and do what you know needs to be done. Once you get past that “ohmigoshwhataretheythinkingaboutme” hurdle, you’ll have a much more pleasant gym experience. Trust me. As soon as I realized no one really cared what I was doing in the gym (unless I was in their way), I stopped dreading the trip and started looking forward to it.
  • Don’t quit. You’re not going to be perfect at everything you attempt in the gym. I’ve failed at a lot — T2.5 often has to teach and reteach (and reteach) me how to do a lot of things. As someone who strives (STRIVES!) to be perfect in everything, this is hard for me. But, I grow so very much in the learning that it’s worth every failure when I finally succeed. So, please, please don’t give up. Love yourself to know — truly, deeply — that this is the best gift you could give yourself. And you are worth the work and the time and the money.

So, please, try not to be too nervous about the gym. I know that it can seem to be an intimidating place. But, once you get to know your gym, you’ll grow to love it and the feelings of empowerment and strength it can help you realize. And, if you ever doubt your strength — or your place in the gym — tell yourself, “I am worth this. I deserve this. I belong here.” Because you are, and you do.

I’m not an expert by any means, but I do know about my experiences (and my successes and my failures). And if you’d like to reach out and ask questions at any point along your journey, I’d love to answer them.



P.S. I’m really proud of you for setting these goals and making this commitment to yourself. You deserve only the best, and I’m excited to see how far you can go!

NApolean New YEar



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Running With Purpose

Ever since I started running, it’s been about something. Whether it was losing weight or training for a race or getting over a breakup or simply clearing my head, there was a reason for why I was out there. And while I maintain there’s nothing better for my mental health than a good, solid run, I’ve been feeling like something’s been missing.

It was hard to explain. I still ran. I still looked forward to it. I still enjoyed it. But there was just … something.

And then I decided to run the River Bank Run 25k. And raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association as part of their ALZ Stars team. And suddenly, I was more than looking forward to training for this run. I was excited about it. Really, really excited about it.

“Every day is a good day when you run.” ~Kevin Nelson

This weekend I attended the first free training run for the River Bank Run — an easy three miles with a group of others running the race in May as well. (This was after staying up late Friday night to register for the first-ever Gazelle Girl Half Marathon — which I’m equally excited about, but for different reasons.) And then I came home and mapped out my training program for the run, using Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Half Marathon Training Program as a guide. And it was fun! Figuring out where all the pieces fit each week — four runs, three strength training days and a cross-training day. I had my calendar page spread out in front of me and a pencil in my hand. I got it sketched all out, starting with Sunday: Stretch & Strength.

And then there was today: 3.5 miles, followed by a session with T2.5. The plan? Run immediately after work, come  home for a quick dinner and then head to the gym. T2.5 ended up rescheduling this week’s session (that’s why I use pencil), so I was able to take my time after work before I went out for my run.

Let me set the scene: 60 degrees, rainy-ish, slight breeze

I geared up …

Suit Up

No, but really:

All the safety gear for the dark-time run.

All the safety gear for the dark-time run.

… and headed out for my run, aware the whole time that I was running for something more than myself.

Dad and me

The reason behind the run.

And, let me tell you: This run was different. This run was everything a run should be. I felt healthy. And strong. And happy. And fast. Faster than I have in a long time, at least. I mean, look at these splits:

Running splits

And every step, I thought of wonderful memories and happy thoughts. Memories and happy thoughts — this is what this run is about. So, when I got home, I called Dad. And I told him how happy I was. And how proud I was of this run. And how blessed I felt to be able to do something good through running. And then I cried a little. Running for a purpose has … well … given my running a purpose. And it is such a gift.

Running saved my life. And now, maybe some of the money I raise can be used to help improve — or, one day, save — someone else’s life.

In closing, I’d love to invite anyone out there to join the ALZ Stars by running or walking the River Bank Run (5k, 10k and 25k options available). The more, the merrier! I’ll even make you dinner the night before!


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Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I have been so very busy with being in love and planning a wedding that I nearly let one of my most important anniversaries pass me by. Today was the anniversary of the day I made the decision to take my life back from the obesity that was slowly taking it away from me. Three years. Wow. Time surely does fly.

I suppose it’s a good thing that my life is so full of blessings right now that I’m no longer spending so much of my time looking at the past and am instead living in the present while joyfully looking toward the future. But, truth be told, my past is part of me — it is who I am and who I will become. And there was a lot of fantastic that happened in my past. Fantastic that I wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world. There is no “before” and “after.” Because I am the same person living the same life — I’m just in a different place on my life’s journey.

But, I would be lying if I said losing weight and getting healthy didn’t have a HUGE effect on my happiness today. Because it did. It ohsoverymuch did. In fact, that portion of my journey feels like a lifetime away.

Before I continue with what I want to say about how losing weight and regaining my health has changed my life, I want to make one thing clear: I do not look at old pictures of myself and see someone ugly. I do not think that because I weighed nearly 300 pounds that I was less than beautiful.

Me in 2008

I remember feeling really pretty that day in that green shirt and my sister’s cute brown hat.

I think there’s a misconception that because I show “before” and “during” photos that I’m saying I was a less successful, intelligent, beautiful person than I am now. Because I’m not. The physical changes I’ve undergone are simply visual representations of the major changes I’ve undergone in the past three years since taking my life back. Changes that have happened with my mind, my body and my spirit.

Let me be clear: I believe the human body — in all of its forms, male, female, large, small — is extremely beautiful and, quite honestly, amazing.

But let’s not lie to each other, either. I was not healthy. I was on the verge of being put on high cholesterol and diabetes medication. I had my gall bladder removed at the ripe old age of 21. After viewing an ultrasound, my doctor told me that my liver was full of fatty deposits that were becoming difficult. I had stopped having regular periods and was told I would probably have a difficult time conceiving.

I may have been beautiful, but I was not healthy.

Thankfully, with my change of diet and addition of exercise, I’ve reversed all of these things. Well, all of them except the gall bladder removal. Because, well, clearly, once it’s gone, it ain’t comin’ back.

But, more than that, the past three years have shown me that I can do the things I once thought were too hard for me. I have shown myself that I am incredibly strong. And that, indeed, I have the power to change my situation.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” ~Christopher Robin

So how has this journey changed my life? In so many ways. And it goes far beyond the list of improvements made to my health — my life expectancy.

  • Mr. B  and me? We probably never would have happened. Not only would I not have had the courage and confidence to send that silly little message to him on the online dating site, but Mr. B wouldn’t have looked twice at me. And it’s not because he’s shallow — because he’s not. He is a kind, loving and wonderful man who loves without judgment. He wouldn’t have looked twice because I wasn’t the person he was looking for — I didn’t have a sense of self or a lifestyle that fit with what he was looking for. Back then, we wouldn’t have been a match. This is another reason I don’t regret my past. Because my past gave me the lessons I needed to be ready for the gift of Mr. B’s love.
  • Running … dear, sweet running. That most certainly wouldn’t be part of my life. Not only was I uninterested in pushing myself in that way, but it wouldn’t have been safe for me to run — pounding nearly 300 pounds of person on joints is not really a good idea. Running has given me so much. It’s my therapy. It’s my reward. It’s my happiness. It’s my challenge.
  • That marathon? One of the proudest moments of my life? Would have been impossible for me. Yes, I said impossible. And I mean it. I can’t imagine missing that experience. It changed me. Forever. And, no matter what, I will always have that.
  • Friendship. Through this blog — and the one I started at the very beginning — I have been given the gift of friendship. From all over the world. These men and woman are the most of inspiring, hard-working, encouraging people I have ever known in my life. Some I’ve met, some I haven’t. Either way, they are my friends. And I can’t imagine my life without them.
  • Faith in — and love for — myself. I have always been proud of myself and my accomplishments. But watching myself grow and change — over hills and in valleys — over these past three years? I am so much more than I ever gave myself credit for. And I continue to fall in love with who I am becoming every day. (Even though I still struggle sometimes.)

So, you see, it’s not just about how much my pictures have changed over the past three years. Those are just pictures. But they do represent something. They show what I see when I look in the mirror now: A happy, healthy woman who is getting stronger every day.


Enjoying hiking and climbing sand dunes with Mr. B.


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Finally Finding the Words — A Fitness Awards Recap

I continue to be at a loss for words to describe the last month. I remain humbled, honored and somewhat surprised by my nomination for a Governor’s Fitness Award. But even more than that, the amount of support, encouragement and positivity I’ve received from my community after the Grand Rapids Press/MLive article? Golly. It’s amazing.

Grand Rapids Press Article

Possibly the worst "before" picture that's ever existed of me. And, yet, I embrace it in all its awkward glory.

I still have a hard time believing that the girl who has almost always struggled with obesity and the shame associated with it is a health and fitness inspiration for anyone. Yet, people have reached out to me to share their stories, just as I’ve shared mine on this blog for the past 2-1/2 years. And it’s changed my life.

So, being invited to stand up on a stage with people like Bill Barkeley, Florine Mark and Cari Draft was the opportunity of a lifetime. There’s just something to be said about being surrounded by people whose interests and goals are in line with your own. I’ve come away from Thursday’s day-long celebration of health and fitness extremely inspired and driven to do even more to spread the joys about a healthy, fit lifestyle — while not ignoring the things that make it difficult.

Conquering Obesity Category

Me with the other honorees of the Conquering Obesity category at the State Capitol, during last Thursday's legislative visits.

Thursday started with a visit to Michigan’s State Capitol building to meet with our senators and, in some cases, representatives.

Capitol Building

So blessed to have Mr. B, my rock, by my side for the whole day.

The visit at the Capitol was an opportunity to be recognized for our efforts. It was a really great way to spend the morning. I don’t remember ever being to the State Capitol building, so it was quite nice to get some time to buzz around and check it out. It really is a gorgeous building. While there, I had the honor of meeting my senator, Mark Jansen. He presented me with a framed tribute, which talked about my efforts to lose more than 100 pounds and share my story with others.

Me and Sen. Jansen

I enjoyed some lovely conversation with Sen. Mark Jansen while visiting the Capitol.

After our visits with our senators, we posed for the obligatory photos — which, of course, I simply cannot wait to see — and then went about our day.

Mr. B and I met one of my friends for lunch and then headed over to the Ann Arbor area for a visit to Trader Joe’s — time to stock up on Cat Cookies for People — and visit Eastern Michigan University. I received my undergrad and graduate degrees from EMU, and I simply love visiting campus. Besides, I needed a new T-shirt — the only ones I own are XXL. Since I’m now a size medium, they looked a little ridiculous.

But I digress.

After our shopping adventures, we headed over to Ford Field in Detroit for the Fitness Awards Gala. Let me just say, I have never seen Mr. B happier than when he was walking around the suite at Ford Field, overlooking the field where his beloved Lions play. He’s a HUGE, long-time Lions fan and has never been to a game. While we didn’t get to watch the Lions play, obviously, at least Mr. B got a very nice glimpse of the field. Perhaps we can find a way to take in a game this year.

Mr. B at Ford Field

It's hard to make out, but that's Ford Field behind Mr. B. If ever a man deserves to see a Lions game, it is Mr. B — my loudest cheerleader.

Before the gala, I had a nice opportunity to visit with some of the other nominees, including some of the women from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (who, it turned out, won overall winner in the Outstanding Healthy Workplace Award). They’re doing some fantastic activities to encourage physical activity among the company’s employees. I also got a chance to briefly visit with several other people who were nominated in various categories. And I was still having a bit of a hard time believing that I was there among them as a fellow nominee.


Each honoree received a plaque for his/her achievements in leading a healthy, fit lifestyle while encouraging others to do so as well.

The gala itself was inspiring. We heard so many stories of people overcoming huge obstacles to lead a healthy life. But even more than that, we heard about how they are making changes in their communities and improving the health and fitness of others. I sat there in awe of these men and women who were working so hard to improve the lives of their fellow Michiganders.

Please take some time to read about the overall winners in each of the categories — no, I’m not among them. They have such amazing stories to share with you. I promise you’ll come away feeling inspired.

In all, this was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Like running my first marathon, it wasn’t winning that mattered. What mattered was the journey and the experience. Getting to this point in my life has taken blood, sweat and tears. And I have been so blessed to be able to share it with people along the way. What’s more, being nominated for this award has given me the opportunity to introduce more people to my story and to show them that it’s not only about losing 100 pounds. It’s about so much more than that. It’s about taking control of your life — taking that first step, the most important step, in saying:

“I am worthy of a happy, healthy, fulfilled life. I deserve my love and the love of others. And I will honor my body, my mind, my spirit.”

This has given me an opportunity to encourage people not to shame others into losing weight or getting healthy, but to empower them to do so. I am pleased and proud to part of a community that supports the efforts of people to lead healthy, active lifestyles. And I am honored to have been nominated for a Governor’s Fitness Award.

Calf Muscle

I share this photo for a couple of reasons. First, I loved the "Fitness Fancy" attire of the party. Any event where I can wear a dress and my running shoes is a winner in my book. Second, I am so proud of the muscles in my calf in this photo. I have always been ashamed of the size of my calves. They're big and extremely unfeminine. But recently, I've been learning to appreciate them for their strength and for all of the miles they've carried me. You see, fitness isn't just about skinny; it's about strength and respecting your body for all it does for you — by feeding it right and treating it right.


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Life is a Gift

Fair warning: This post talks about scary doctor-y things. Including my period. If you don’t want to know me that well, don’t read on. 

I’m a fairly open and honest person when it comes to weight loss and healthy living. I share the goods, the bads, the ins, the outs. Yet, there are some things I still don’t talk write about often. Because, quite frankly, they scare me.

Me in February 2009

In February 2009, I was still six months away from the toilet seat biting me in the butt and nudging me to take control of my own life.

I share this picture not because this journey is all about my size. I share this picture because it’s an illustration of the way I treated my body.

My obesity was wreaking havoc on my body. And it was giving me signs left and right. For the longest time, I was just too stubborn to recognize them and too scared to listen.

The very first sign should have been when I was in high school and was having problems with my right eye. I had very little peripheral vision, and it kept getting worse. And terrible headaches were interrupting my life. After lots and lots of tests and visit with specialists, I was put on a low-cholesterol diet (or at least told to go on one  — but when I said the list said “no cheese,” I said “no way.”).

The second, more life-altering sign came weeks after graduating college and getting my first “real” job. Pains in my abdomen were keeping me up at night. The doctor told me the pains in my stomach were from my gall bladder. And, oh yeah, I’d need to have it removed. I was 21.

People who are overweight or who are trying to lose weight quickly are more likely to get gallstones. ~WebMD

What’s more, the ultra sound they did showed that my liver was surrounded by layers of fat. Enough that it worried the doctor.

At 22, I finally started seeing a doctor for “female” things. Mainly because I wasn’t getting my period as I should. It came when it wanted. Sometimes every month. Sometimes once a year. And when it did, it was misery — major cramps and significant bleeding. The doctor was quite concerned — and certain that my weight obesity was a contributing factor.

When I was 23 years old, my doctor finally convinced me to have some blood tests. (If you know me at all, you know that I hate needles. So much so that the mere thought of a teeny tiny TB-test needle causes me to stress out and lose sleep.) The results of the tests weren’t pretty.

My cholesterol test read like that of someone much later on in years. Every single measurement was WAY outside the “normal” range. My triglyceride levels alone? 276. Normal is less than 149.

And my sugar levels? Teetering on the very edge of diabetes. And with a family history of diabetes, this sent me into a panic. The doctor prescribed Metformin.

I was well on my way to a heart attack and diabetes. Or worse. And I was just one doctor’s appointment away from medication that I’d have been on the rest of my life.

The doctor ordered me to come back for more tests in six weeks — there was no way a 23-year-old could have cholesterol numbers that high, and she wanted to be sure before she started me on cholesterol medication. But I didn’t go back. Because if you ignore scary things, they stay hidden under the bed. Right?

The fact that, after seeing those numbers, it still took my five years to get my crap together is shocking. The fact that I didn’t have even more complications from living that life? Even more shocking.

Then there was my mental health. I was sad. A lot. Even when I wasn’t. I didn’t like myself. And I just knew no one could like me either. So I settled for unhealthy friendships. And I settled for less than I now know I’ve always deserved.

But, when that toilet seat bit my tuckus, something finally clicked — and it wasn’t just the toilet locking in on my right cheek. And I am so grateful that it did. I sought help to lose weight; I sought help to build strength; I sought help to heal my broken spirit.

And, now I can proudly report that every single one of my blood tests have come back well within the “healthy” range. I’m not on any sorts of medication to deal with cholesterol or blood sugar. My resting heart rate is that of an elite athlete. My blood pressure is “textbook normal.” I am “the picture of health.”

So, you see, when I wake up and remind myself — and the world — what a blessing it is to be alive, I’m not trying to be annoying. I really mean it. I was on a very scary path. And I’m lucky it was never worse than it was. Sure, I lost an organ. But it could have been so much worse.

Life is a gift that I never want to take for granted.


I am so happy to have this life. And I promise to never forget what a valuable gift it is.

When people hear about my weight loss, they often respond with the “yeah, buts.” “Yeah, but …” hiring a trainer is expensive … buying healthful foods costs too much … leading a healthy life is just no fun. And I can’t help but think of how close I was to having thousands of dollars in prescription medication and doctors keeping me alive. That surely doesn’t sound very much fun either.

“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.”  ~Danny Kaye

Also, I feel as though I need to add a reminder that this is only my PERSONAL experience. And I’m not an expert. Please, please talk to your doctor before starting any health or fitness routines. And listen to what they have to say. 


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Governor’s Fitness Awards Honor Michigan Residents

I thought I should provide a little bit more information about the Governor’s Fitness Awards, for which I’ve been selected as an honoree. Here’s a little more information about the awards and my fellow honorees from the Michigan Fitness Foundation:

It is not often that corporate, nonprofit and community leaders come together with legislators and health advocates in one room to recognize individuals for their daily efforts. However, on April 26 at 6 p.m. in Ford Field, 18 Michigan residents will experience just that. Their recognition is part of the 2012 Governor’s Fitness Awards, an annual event hosted by Michigan Fitness Foundation. The event serves as a platform for acknowledging individuals, public officials and organizations that are committed to healthy living.

At the celebration, special guest Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will showcase inspiring stories from communities throughout Michigan. The event also features keynote speaker Bobby Smith of En Garde Detroit, who will discuss his passion for getting inner-city youth involved in physical activity programs. Individuals interested in attending and celebrating the importance of healthy choices may visit www.michiganfitness.org/gfa for an event invitation and reservation form.

MFF Logo

This year, the Governor’s Fitness Awards honors the following individuals and organizations for their amazing accomplishments. Each award category recognizes the variety of ways honorees are encouraging and inspiring Michigan residents to live a healthy lifestyle. Overall winners from categories with more than one honoree will be announced the evening of the gala event.

Champion for Health Award
The award honors an individual for their work promoting healthy lifestyles on a grassroots level.

  • Jordan Levin, Keego Harbor
  • Katrina I. Crawley, Detroit
  • Kevin Summers, Manistee

Outstanding Public Official Award
The award recognizes advocates and spokespeople for healthy living through their public role.

  • George Sedlacek, Marquette

Extraordinary Event/Organization Award

The award honors events or organizations that provide opportunities for physical activity within their communities.

Outstanding Healthy Workplace Award

The award honors workplaces that actively encourage wellness, fitness and healthy living.

  • Henry Ford Health System, Detroit
  • Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Grand Rapids
  • Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, Lansing

Charles T. Kuntzleman Accepting the Challenge Award
The award recognizes an individual who has overcome challenges to pursue physical activity as a part of daily life.

  • Misty Young, Westland
  • Bill Barkeley, Grand Rapids
  • Ian Wilson, Sault Ste. Marie

Conquering Obesity — Individual
The award honors individuals who have conquered obesity through dedication to physical activity and healthy eating.

  • Kimberly Warren, Comstock Park <— Hey! That’s me.
  • Peter Thomas, Ann Arbor
  • Kimiko Adolph, Wayne

Vern Seefeldt Lifetime Achievement Award
The award honors an individual who has made landmark contributions throughout his or her career to the health of Michigan residents.

Inspiring Story/Event Award
The award recognizes an inspirational event related to health or sports that elevates the character of that activity and motivates others to pursue healthier living.

  • Detroit Cass Tech Football Team, Detroit

The Governor’s Fitness Awards event also serves as a fundraiser for the Michigan Fitness Foundation, a nonprofit public charity foundation working to create a healthier Michigan. The event is presented by AT&T, with additional sponsor support from Meridian Health Plan of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Domino’s Pizza, MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, Detroit Medical Center, Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan, Great Lakes Health Plan, Michigan State Medical Society, William Beaumont Hospital, Henry Ford Health System, Health Alliance Plan, Oakwood Healthcare, Michigan Association of Health Plans, Quicken/Rock Financial, Molina Healthcare, ProCare Health Plan, OmniCare, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, Upper Peninsula Health Plan, Consumers Energy, Public Affairs Associates, Michigan Health and Hospital Association, and Fraser Trebilcock Davis and Dunlap, PC.

The Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports and the Michigan Fitness Foundation envision a physically educated population with the knowledge and skills to enjoy a healthy, vigorous and safe lifestyle in communities designed to support physical activity.  For more information, visit www.michiganfitness.org.

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An Honor to be Nominated

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.

It was Gretchen, from the Michigan Fitness Foundation. She was calling to congratulate me for being named an honoree for a Governor’s Fitness Award.


I was definitely not expecting that phone call, but it surely made my day.

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?

Mom hug

Getting a hug from my always-supportive mom after my first marathon.


Apparently enough. I suppose inspiration is inspiration — no matter what.

So, what are these awards, anyway?

Michigan Moving

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.

Before and after

I think I'll always feel emotional when I see these photos side-by-side.

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.


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