The Biggest Loser is Thirty

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ome weeks ago, my BFF asked me how I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday.  We have a little getaway planned together for later on in the month so I didn’t have anything in mind to do particularly on my birthday.  But she insisted I had to do something.

I thought about it.  Nothing really came to mind so I Googled it:  “Ways to celebrate 30th birthday.”  I have heard of a number of idioms (i.e. “Flirty Thirty” and “Dirty Thirty”) regarding this milestone and found them peppered throughout various websites offering ideas on memorable ways to celebrate the big 3 – 0.  None of them sounded quite the way I wanted to spend my actual birthday (mostly because I have spent what seems like most of my children’s summer break being a taxi driver between swim, golf, and ballet lessons, vacation bible school, appointments, and the list goes on).  I preferred a mellow evening with my family and a couple of close friends – just a casual and low maintenance get together.  Further along in my Google search, I happened upon an intriguing statement:  “Thirty is an age where people often stop to ponder where they’ve been and where they are going.”  As suddenly as I picked up my phone to begin my impulsive little exploration, I dropped my hands in my lap, still grasped around my phone, and stared blankly through the windshield ahead as my husband drove our family to, well, I don’t even remember where.

Don’t quit.

Thoughts from previous posts that I have blogged flickered through my mind and I decided to revisit an entry from January 6, 2013 titled “Don’t Give Up.  Don’t Stop.  Don’t Quit.”  It took only a few moments before I noticed that my blog appeared barren with very few posts to show for the last eight months.  But I have to say it’s because I haven’t given up.

That must sound like an oxymoron since my last entry was in March, but even that was a repost from one I had done earlier in the year.  It might appear that I’ve given up on writing altogether.  Even though I haven’t updated my blog regularly, I have thought about it often.  Near the conclusion of that post from last January, I stated that my personal motto for 2013 was “don’t give up.”

One of the resolutions I make every year, along with the majority of people across the world, is to lose weight, exercise, and become more healthy and fit.  Except that every year, I kept falling off that bandwagon much earlier than I intended to.  This year, I wanted to stick with my goal.

Tough love.

My husband loves me with tough love.  He is a no-nonsense kind of guy.  He’s been my main source of support before I even made the decision to make things right with my body and I didn’t even truly recognize it until later on.  I don’t remember when the roof caved in inside my brain, but one afternoon, I sat in the middle of my bed childishly crying and complaining that my clothes didn’t fit me anymore.  How did I even get here? I thought to myself.  I felt like I didn’t have anything to wear to the grocery store, or to a doctor’s appointment, or even to church – they just didn’t fit right and they certainly didn’t look right.  I suppose I had pity on myself and the truth is that I didn’t want to fit into those clothes.  David’s tender heart and compassion were the very things that drew me in when I met him at work over seven years ago.  And it was with that same gentle heart and kindness that he told me that it’s all up to me.  “If you don’t like it, then do something about it,” he told me as he left me to myself and shut the bedroom door behind him.  He is the practical, level-headed one between us both and I’m thankful beyond words that God paired me up with him.  He wasn’t disregarding my feelings.  As difficult as it was to admit to myself, he was right.  Enough was enough. The fact of the matter was I was overweight and unhealthy and I had to do something about it if I wanted to change.  Nobody else, not even my husband, could do it for me.

Where I have been.

I will never forget my twenties.  I faced some crossroads as most young adults do when they are still figuring the world out.  Of course, I had periods where I walked through valleys and times when I was high on the mountains.  God blessed me in numerous ways within those ten years:  I had the privilege and opportunity to go on a missions trip to Eastern Europe for two weeks where my own faith was stretched and challenged and saw the movement of God’s love work in others’ lives.  A few short years later, I met and married the man that God knew before time began that he would be my perfect match and He blessed us with three children that have turned our world upside down in the best possible way.  I completed my Associates Degree in Radiological Science and have had the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most genuinely caring professionals I have ever met.

Class of 2008

Pima Medical Institute
Class of 2008

I experienced a miracle healing in my physical body firsthand, which, by the way, they do still happen.  I became a full-time mom to our three young children just over a year ago and while it was a very challenging transition, God has given me the grace to take it one day at a time.  Finally and most recently, together with my husband, we have changed our eating habits and increased our family’s activity level dramatically all for the sake of being healthy.

If you have ever watched The Biggest Loser on T.V., the dramatic changes that take place when people eat better and work hard are pretty incredible.  And inspiring.  I was genuinely happy for those individuals I watched on television as well as for those I knew more personally and from a distance who shared similar stories of extreme changes and sacrifices they had made to get healthy.  I had even asked someone if I could do a little interview with her to share on my blog. I really admired her dedication and commitment to pursuing her goal.  I think I had reached a point where I wondered when it would be my turn to make those sacrifices and inspire others to do the same as well.  Most importantly, with our little ones watching everything we do and following right behind our footsteps, I wanted to lead by example and teach my children how to have an active and healthy lifestyle while they are young so that they, too, could integrate healthy patterns in their families’ lifestyles some day.

Where I am going.

My first check in at the gym this year was January 24.  In addition to making better choices about the foods I eat, I worked marchbikerideoff thirty pounds and reduced my dress size in half.  We have taken our children on several bike rides in the city (weather permitting) and it easily became our favorite family activity.  I have participated in two 5k events (my husband joined me on my first 5k) this summer and am looking to register for my first half marathon next year.  I am the healthiest I have been in over seven years and it is a very surreal feeling.  Throughout my progress, I would send texts to my family and girlfriends about how great I was feeling and how excited I was about my clothes fitting again.  They kept me accountable. My confidence boosted and my energy and “spunk” (as my sweet friend, Elaine, calls it) returned.  These ladies along with my husband (as well as friends from a distance) encouraged me and I kept going.  In my own way, I feel like I have championed obstacles and become one of ‘The Biggest Losers’ too!  I often reminded myself of a quote I read once:  “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”  I also recited Bible verses such as, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and “With God, anything is possible,” when I would get weary from running on the treadmill or felt I couldn’t take another step on the stairmaster.  Today, I still face a problem similar to the one I began with:   I have few clothes that fit me… but this time they are too big!  You can be sure I’ll take this problem over my original problem any day!

colormerad

Our first 5k together as a married couple; June 2013

You can do it too.

Being a stay at home mom for over a year now has forced us to be a little more frugal with our finances.  I had to decide if I was going to give up on a gym membership I wasn’t using that cost me $10/mo. or if I was going to make it worth the cost.

workout

Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t give up on it.  There were days that I couldn’t drive to the gym because I didn’t have a car or my husband was working, so I would work out to a Zumba video on YouTube in my family room while the kids were napping.  As the weather warmed up, I’d meet up with a girlfriend after dinner or after the kids’ bedtime and run together in her neighborhood.  Every bit counted as long as I kept moving.  And I did it one step at a time, one day at a time.  It’s a sweaty, long, and even sticky and stinky road, but it is very much rewarding.  I can promise you that.  This is all coming from a gal who, and it’s very embarrassing to confess, used to sit on the couch after putting the kids to bed and would eat a whole nestle drumstick and think it was a good idea to go back to the freezer for a second one.  And if there is anything I can’t stand, it is food going to waste.  My kids eat like birds.  They either like their meal but can only eat half of what’s on their plate or they can’t stand it and pick at it until we stop nagging and they ask to excuse themselves from the table.  Growing up, I learned to clean off my plate because we learned many children around the world go hungry and what they would do for a plate of food.  It stuck with me well into adulthood because I didn’t only clear my plate, but my kids’ plates too.

My mindset had to change drastically.  I stopped eating those tempting drumsticks and curved my sweet tooth at night with a cup of hot tea and a tablespoon of honey. I still eat pizza from time to time, but less often and less slices!  Instead of lounging on the couch while my kids napped, David and I took turns going to the gym (there is no childcare available at our gym).  If we had tacos with chips and guacamole for dinner, I skipped the tortilla for my taco and ate my chips with guacamole.  It has been hard with our hectic schedule, but we do our best to cook at home as much as possible and eat dinner before 6 o’clock.  Every step toward change counts, no matter how small.  Just keep building on it.

Total health is a blessing.  I didn’t have any good excuse to give that would make me exempt from picking myself up off the couch to walk out the door and run around a nearby high school track four times.  I just couldn’t tolerate my old habits anymore.  And I had to stop with the excuses.  I know that I know that I know that if I can do it, you can do it too!

30 is a good number.

At fifteen years of age, I used to think thirty was old and uninteresting.  A year ago, I panicked about the upcoming calendar year and what summer had in store for me.  But as the pounds shed, I would briefly remember where I was and eagerly looked toward where I was going.  Eventually, thirty started looking good to me!  And I can confidently say I am excited about my thirties!

half

Before: Size 14-16 dress
After: Size 6-8 dress

Oh, and if you’re wondering how I celebrated my 30th birthday, it was still quite a busy day, but ended just as I had hoped:  a low-key finale in my kitchen including a sampling of German delicatessen with veggies and my favorite carrot cake to share with my little family and a couple of close friends. It was really all that I could have asked for.

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Celebrating my 30th birthday with my precious family (our youngest was asleep at the time of the picture).

It’s up to you.

Now, it’s your turn.  How do you want to inspire and encourage others around you?

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  1. #1 by Elena on August 2, 2013 - 11:34 pm

    Ahh, Jenny, you are so inspiring! I LOVE this post and am so glad we got to chat last weekend so I can hear a bit more! What a great year so far! I wish I lived closer so we could run together sometime! Keep up the awesome work! And keep blogging (time permitting, of coarse) because you have such a beautiful and heartfelt way of writing.

  2. #2 by loriwerth on August 3, 2013 - 5:09 am

    Your words are spectacular and come from your heart. I love reading…believe it or not it is 7:07 AM on Saturday, kids are still in bed, and I am reading your inspiring words. How wonderful God made YOU! Cousin – where do you go from here? What is next on the horizon?

  3. #3 by Francesca on August 3, 2013 - 8:03 am

    Well, well done, my dear Jenny !

    Endurance brings patience, patience brings
    triumph and triumph brings the Crown of Life.

    “Blessed is the man who endures temptation;
    for when he has been approved, he will receive
    the Crown of Life which the Lord has promised
    to those who love Him”.

    So wonderful to see how The Creator, our heavenly
    Father, the Master, shapes your being into a precious,
    beautiful vessel of honor, prepared for every good work !

    Keep the good race, Jenny !

  4. #4 by bobicrisan on August 14, 2013 - 3:48 pm

    Happy 30! I am so impressed with your health changes and progress so far this year. Good for you and it is absolutely inspiring. I’ve had my own challenges with that and I believe that health is a life long goal and never give up on your goals to achieve that.

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