Simma Down Nah

It’s no secret that I absolutely love Instagram. 90% of my posts are related to either food, fitness, or my dachshunds. Today, I posted this picture for #flashbackfriday/#flexfriday/#fitfriday:

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I shared it on both IG and Facebook with the following caption:

From obliterated hot mess to dedicated gym rat. My transformation has been much more than weight loss. My entire lifestyle has changed. I used to be so insecure and depressed that I needed to drink excessively to numb the pain. I was unhappy with my weight, but I just kept living the same destructive lifestyle I had been. Alcohol made me forget. Alcohol made me bold. Alcohol also made me overweight, unhealthy, and more depressed. Fast forward 5 years from that picture on the left, and life is completely different. I’m in the gym 5-6 days a week, I eat healthy, and for the first time in a long time I feel good about myself. I don’t need alcohol, I don’t need complements from men, and I don’t need to party in order to find peace in my life. I have God, I have the gym, and I have faith in myself. I looked for happiness in the bottom of a bottle, but I found it in the gym.

It took a LOT of courage to share that part of my story, because not many people knew about the alcohol problems I had in college. I drank to numb the pain of insecurity, I drank to numb the pain of losing loved ones, I drank to numb the hurt of breakups. My sisters were worried, my family was worried, and deep down I was worried, but I kept drinking. I was dangerously close to being, from a clinical standpoint, an alcoholic.

After posting this picture, most of the comments were incredibly supportive and contained nothing but love and support. However, after refreshing my browser while eating lunch, I found this status from one of my FB friends.

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I honestly feel it’s no coincidence that this was posted less than an hour after I shared my picture and my story.  Alcohol was not the reason I gained all the weight. It was a factor, but so were the poor food choices and making excuses not to go to the gym, along with being too depressed to get out of bed some days. I found this extremely rude and incredibly offensive. I feel it’s stupid to take offense to someone’s personal story of overcoming obstacles like that just because you’re a bartender. I still drink on occasion. I love wine, I love good beer, and I love going to bars with friends. I just don’t drink to get drunk anymore. I drink socially, and I prefer wine tastings and breweries to clubs. That’s what adults do. They drink to socialize, they drink because they love the art and the taste. Alcoholics drink to deal with life and numb the pain they’re too scared to process—alcoholics drink to function. “You don’t need to be sober to be healthy”? I’ve never met a single alcoholic who a doctor could look at and give a thumbs up with a clean bill of health. Devaluing someone’s life experiences in such a hurtful manner is ridiculous.

Sloppy ass mess, huh? I guarantee that even at my most intoxicated I could carry on a better conversation than most people. So suck on that Popsicle, holmes.

And life goes on.

As 2014 flies by at lightning speed, lately I’ve found myself thinking about how much has changed in the past couple years. Things I’ve lost, things I’ve gained, things I’ve learned, and things I’ve experienced—all of them having a major effect on my life in one way or another. Some of them still have a hold on a daily basis, and some of them I’ve learned to let go. That’s life.

And it goes on.

November 3rd, it will be 4 years since my beloved Grandpa went home to Jesus. The struggle is still so very real on a daily basis. I miss him more than words and my heart aches to have just one more day with him. I wonder how our conversations would go about my post-graduate life, who I’m dating, and about my job. I wonder what he’d have to say about my weight loss, and how he’d feel about the fact that I cut way back on the drinking like he wanted. But then, I wonder what he’d have to say about how I coped with his passing. How I drank to numb the pain. How I tried to fill the void in my life with any guy who told me I was pretty. How I almost gave up all the hard work I put into my college career. However, you can’t live with a bunch of “what if’s” lingering over your head. I just hope that, above all else, he’s proud of me. The void will never be filled and I’ll always miss him.

But life goes on

In March, I logged on to Facebook only to discover that my best friend of 20 years had unfriended me. To some, this may not seem like a big deal, but it was a crushing blow to me. We used to be insanely close and then our paths took us in different directions, I guess.

But life goes on.

I look back at all my pictures from college and feel horrible that I let myself get to the weight that I did. I want so badly to be able to proudly display pictures from my 4 amazing years at IU, but I’m so ashamed of how I look in most of them that I only have a few set out. I always wonder how much different my life would have been in college had I not gained the weight.

But life goes on.

If 2014 has taught me anything, it’s been to keep pushing forward regardless of how bleak the journey may seem. I’m looking so forward to what the next year has to bring. Relationship? Engagement? Children? Grad School? Who knows. All I know is that I have my feet rooted in confidence and am ready for whatever 2015 throws at me.

Life goes on, the story unfolds, and the next chapter is on the horizon. Bring it.

Stop asking me when I’m going to [insert life event here]

I’m just a small town girl (((go ahead….try to not hear “Don’t Stop Believin'” in your head right now))) and with that comes small town expectations. I graduated in a class of approximately 132, and many of the friends I grew up with are in serious relationships, engaged, married, and/or building families.

And then there’s me.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me the plethora of “When are you going to….” questions related to all aspects of my life. 90% of them are from people who assume that since I’m 26, single, living at home, and married to my job that I’m just miserable all the time. The truth is that, aside from my age, those are all things I’ve chosen for myself.

“When are you going to move to a place of your own? Aren’t you tired of living at home?”

I work in Elkhart, which is significantly bigger than my teenie town of Ligonier. There are some really nice areas of the city, but there are also very bad parts. Affordable housing in good areas of town are hard to come by, so I CHOOSE to live at home. I love my parents dearly and living at home during the start of my professional life has allowed me to grow a lot closer with both of them. Plus, I work for a non-profit agency which means I get paid far less than I should for the work that I do, so the money saving aspect is pretty fantastic. Truthfully, I love my job so the pay doesn’t bother me nearly as much as what people think.

“When are you going to settle down? Maybe you should stop being so shallow and overlooking good guys that are right in front of you.”

This one grinds my gears to no end. First off, my job makes the dating scene difficult the vast majority of the time. Second, since when did having standards make me shallow? While it’s not everything, I think physical attraction is a very important thing in a relationship. It’s a very primitive thing as we look for mates with good genes to pass along to future offspring. All that aside, the reason I’m attracted to men who are physically fit is because it shows me that they care enough about their bodies to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Fitness is a HUGE part of my life, and ideally I’d like a partner with the same passion. The other major things I look for are:

  • Intelligence/Education-I’m college educated and consider myself to be a fairly intelligent individual. I would love to find the same in a partner.
  • Morals-Knowing right from wrong isn’t hard for most, but there are the select few that just don’t get it.
  • Open Mindedness-I tend to clash with close-minded individuals. I have friends and family whose lifestyles vary from the societal norm. I refuse to let these individuals leave my life and so I need someone who will accept them for who they are and not what they are.
  • Stability/Career-Building a career is a beautiful thing. I want someone in a field they’re passionate about that they see bettering themselves in for years to come.
  • Sense of Humor-I’m sarcastic, goofy, and I snort when I laugh. I want someone who is on par with my sense of humor.

I highly doubt the fact that I know what I want makes me shallow, considering the bulk of my qualities aren’t even related to physical features. As for when I’m going to settle down, that’s God’s timing, not mine. I’ve got prospects, but I’m not putting all my eggs into one basket. My relationship with Cameron taking a fiery downward spiral kind of wrecked my ability to easily put my faith into a “could be forever” sort of thing. I’m not going to rush into something or settle simply because those around me are pressuring to do so. I’d rather marry later than my peers than be both married and divorced before 30.

“When are you going to stop taking all that stuff? You’re already skinny enough and you should be proud of where you’re at, not trying to lose more weight.”

This one is simple: AdvoCare products make me feel great, help me cut body fat %, and build glorious muscle. So…..you know…..never is the answer to that question.

“When are you going to have kids? If you wait until you’re married, it may be too late.”

Just….what the hell, people. Stahp. Just staaahhhp.

You get the picture. The bottom line is that this is my life and I’m happy with the way things are going. I firmly believe that when the time is right, each of these questions will be answered. Until then, stop hounding me. If you’re over the age of 50, I may just start hounding you with the “When are you going to plan your funeral? You know you’re getting up there, right?” response.

Once Upon a 60 Pound Weight Loss

A couple weeks ago, I finally hit the 60 pound weight loss mark. It was another major accomplishment in my weight loss journey, so I celebrated by taking a shopping day with my Momma yesterday. We celebrated the completion of my initial challenge with a shopping trip, too. I, of course, documented a successful dress purchase and texted it to my best friend saying “I’m obsessed with this dress and I can’t remember the last time I bought something this tight that I felt good in!” And it’s true, I did feel great in that dress because I thought I looked slim, trim, and ready for a night out on the town.

 

And I did……at that point.

 

Yesterday, not only did I purchase jeans that were a 8 sizes smaller than where I was 18 months ago, but I also bought a dress that was a size 4 and almost bought one in a size 2.

L: March 2013 (17 pounds down) R: April 2014 (60 pounds down)

L: March 2013 (17 pounds down)
R: April 2014 (60 pounds down)

 

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This is my “OMG I just fit into a size 2” face

 

At my heaviest weight of almost 200 pounds, I never thought I’d ever be able to fit into a size 2 again. Ever. However, with all this weight loss and fitness success, I have had a flood of thoughts over questions and comments that have been asked/stated in the past several years. Some of them from peers, some from pageant judges, and some from my own family members. One in particular was asked during a pageant interview shortly after I graduated.

I answered a variety of questions regarding the 4 points of the crown, my platform, etc. Then, one of the judges asked me a question that I will never, ever forget.

“Why do you think you have a chance at winning today? You do realize there has never been a plus-sized Miss America, don’t you?”

His tone was very condescending, and his question followed one regarding my platform of “Celebrate EveryBODY: Beauty Comes in All Sizes”, which promoted eating disorder prevention. I paused for a moment, mostly because I felt the tears welling up in my eyes and the lump forming in my throat, then I calmly said:

“Yes, I’m very much aware of that. However, with all due respect, sir, before 2008 we never had a black president either. Change is a brilliant and powerful thing.”

Change is, indeed, a very powerful thing. Whether you’re changing your lifestyle, your religion, your relationship, your hair color, or even just your shoes—a little bit of change can go a long way. I’ve made many, many changes in my life in the past 18 months. For the first time in my life, I’m not going to settle for just anything. The future is bright. I better get my shades.

Here’s to the next fitness achievement. Leggo.

Attention Dieters: There is NO Magic Pill.

After being snowed in for 4 days and having nothing really to do outside of working out, I watched more TV than I have in the past week. What started as being sucked into yet another Law & Order: SVU marathon turned into the biggest research project I’ve done since college. At least one out of every 5 commercials was for something weight loss related, either diet plan or diet pill, that promised “miraculous results” in just a few short weeks.

Before I was introduced to AdvoCare, I tried just about every diet pill and weight loss plan on the market. I had no idea how to eat right, how to have a proper exercise regiment, or,most importantly, the confidence to move forward. SlimQuick, Hydroxycut, Alli, and OxyElite Pro were the main products that I used & expected to fix my weight problem. I saw commercials for 3 of the 5 while watching TV over the past 4 days, and it amazed me how much they make the products seem like a magic pill.

NEWSFLASH: There is no such thing.

I’m no doctor–I have no professional medical or nutritional training. What I do have is personal experience with yo-yo dieting, diet pill popping, and lots of disappointment with both. This entry is by no means to give an expert opinion, but rather to give a personal account of why I believe these are not only a waste of money, but even dangerous if used improperly.  So, anyone who is looking to lose weight and looking to OTC Diet Pills for help–this is for you.

SLIMQUICK
I tried the pills, the powder packets, and about everything else they put on the market. Nothing. At the time I began taking the pills seriously, I was working with a personal trainer and eating right. I lost maybe 5 pounds over the course of a month. I wasn’t impressed at all. Outside of just not working, it really didn’t have any major issues with it.

Verdict: Waste of Money

HYDROXICUT
I used several of the pill products (Regular, Max, and Hardcore) over the course of several months. The chiseled abs and toned physiques the company promised were enticing, and they made it seem so easy! After about 8 months and hundreds of dollars spent, I lost a mere 6 pounds. I wasn’t eating right and wasn’t exercising much at all, so that’s probably why I had such poor results. I had few side effects, the two biggest being nausea and restlessness. Once again, not impressed.

Verdict: Meh.

ALLI
This was potentially one of the worst decisions ever. Like most diet plans, the Alli system required a low-fat diet. While other diet pills will simply not work if you eat too many fatty foods, Alli has a nasty way of reminding you that you screwed up. You poop yourself.

I’m not even kidding, side effects include “Changes in your bowel function often occur because of the unabsorbed fat. Fatty/oily stool, oily spotting, intestinal gas with discharge, a feeling of needing to have a bowel movement right away, increased number of bowel movements, or poor bowel control may occur. These side effects may get worse if you eat more fat than you should. If these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor promptly.”

I don’t know about you, but the idea of leaking oil out of my butt-hole was enough to make me stop using that junk ASAP.  Luckily, the only problem I had was needing to make a dash for the bathroom at Ussain Bolt speed.

Verdict: Absolute Crap……pun intended.

OXYELITE PRO
I found this product while on a vitamin website and saw this description:

“The proven formula of OxyElite Advanced from USP Labs boosts your energy levels and burns stubborn belly fat. This formula also reduces hunger pains, cravings and late night snack binges while giving you the energy needed to gain muscle and burn fat. Build up your dose gradually to achieve your desired weight loss.”

I didn’t even get to the point of building up my dose gradually because I felt so bizarre when I took the pills.  I honestly felt like I had been drinking each time I took a dose. Sweating, dizziness, tingling in my hands and feet–it was borderline awful. I also got EXTREMELY nauseated the majority of the time I took it. Most website reviews I read said that all the side effects were caused by the caffeine. My guess would be, for me, from something outside of that. I do not have a sensitivity to caffeine and was used to being full of it throughout the day.  I only used one bottle and never purchased it again. I hated not feeling in control because of a diet pill!

Verdict: Not for the weak–not something I’d recommend.

With all this being said, I realize that everyone is different. My honest suggestion to anyone who has a desire to get healthy or lose weight with the help of a nutritional company is to try AdvoCare. This isn’t a plug, this is truth. I tried just about everything on the market to try to lose weight, but it was not until AdvoCare was introduced to me that I found my answer. The products are amazing, the support is incredible, and the results speak for themselves.

One year (and 50+ pounds) later, a whole new person has been uncovered!

One year (and 50+ pounds) later, a whole new person has been uncovered!

Through the support of my team, the dedication I gave to my transformation, and the quality of the products, I discovered the champion I had hidden within.

There is no such thing as a magic pill that will allow you to eat a Big Mac and become a size 2 overnight. Weight loss takes education, dedication, and a lot of hard work. This is why I chose to become an AdvoCare distributor–so that I can BE the support for others who are in the desperate spot I was a year ago.

One of my favorite quotes is one that I heard at Success School last August from Tyler DeBerry. He said “Live your dream and share your passion. You will not accomplish anything unless you become intolerant of where you are.” It took me less than a year to uncover a whole new person, and I’m still going strong.

Be brave, be bold, and become what you were meant to be. Are you ready to find your inner champion?

My AdvoCare Journey: Where I Came From & Where I’m Going

Many people have asked me about my journey with AdvoCare, so I decided to share my story and where I’m going from here—it should be no surprise that this post was coming 🙂

I have always battled with low self-esteem and a distorted body image, even though I was always told how tiny I was in high school and early college. Unfortunately, the “perks” of being a legal adult took its toll on me, and after I turned 21 I went from an unhappy size 4 to an unbelievably miserable size 12 within a matter of a few months.

To add insult to injury, I was also a dedicated pageant contestant, competing 4-9 times per year. One of the hardest moments for me was going to a pageant thread website and being classified as the “chubby girl,” the “plus sized contestant,” and even told that I needed to stay off the stage unless I lost weight. It cut me deeper than I thought possible.

April 2011

April 2011

After graduating from college in 2011, I was hired as a youth care worker at Bashor Children’s Home. The job was demanding, both physically and mentally. I was frequently required to engage in physical restraints to keep kids safe, or chase them down the road if they tried to run from the facility. I would find myself out of breath, sore, and sweating buckets when these were over. My stamina was low, my strength was hindered by my extra weight, and I was slower than I had ever been in my life.

Giving my Maid of Honor speech

Giving my Maid of Honor speech

My best friend Tabby's wedding

My best friend Tabby’s wedding

November 2012

November 2012

I knew I needed a change.

In December 2012, my mom told me about our family friends, Jimmy & Angie McDonald, who were doing a challenge with a company called AdvoCare. I had never heard of it before, but I saw the incredible the results they were having and began to do my research.

On December 26, 2012, Jimmy sat down with me and told me about AdvoCare. I was hooked, and ordered the 24 Day Challenge. Not only did I order, but I had such immense faith in the product already that I signed up to be a distributor.

January 3, 2013 180 lbs Size 14

DAY 1
January 3, 2013
192 lbs
Size 14/16

On day 7 of my first challenge, I had my surgery. When I set up my appointment to have it done, I was told it was basically going to be something that had me out of commission for a day and then I’d be good to go to hit the gym. When I arrived the morning of, I found out exactly how invasive it was going to be…..and that I was not going to be allowed back in the gym for at LEAST 3 weeks.  I was even MORE upset about the whole thing. To make matters worse, 2 days after my surgery I had my car accident.  However, I was really surprised to see that even without working out, I had incredible results at the end of the cleanse.

January 13, 2013 173 lbs Size 12/14

DAY 11
January 13, 2013
185 lbs
Size 12/14

I was even more determined during the last 2 weeks after seeing the results of the first 10 days. My grand total for the first challenge: 15 lbs and 25.6 inches lost.

DAY 24 January 28, 2013 165 lbs

DAY 24
January 28, 2013
177 lbs

4 MONTHS POST CHALLENGE May 4, 2013 155 lbs

4 MONTHS POST CHALLENGE
May 4, 2013

I was so impressed with AdvoCare and had such energy and determination, that I decided to do the challenge a second time.

LEFT: DAY 1 June 3, 2013 RIGHT: DAY 11 June 13, 2013

LEFT: DAY 1
June 3, 2013
RIGHT: DAY 11
June 13, 2013

To date, I am down 40 lbs, happy and healthier than I’ve been in years. I owe it all to AdvoCare. It gave me the confidence, the guidance, and the ENERGY to create a better me.

LEFT: 2012 180 lbs Size 14 RIGHT: June 2013 145 lbs (I've since hit the 40 lb loss mark) Size 6/8

LEFT: 2012
188 lbs
Size 14
RIGHT: June 2013
155 lbs (I’ve since hit the 40 lb loss mark)
Size 6/8

I’m becoming more invested in the business side of AdvoCare as well. My goal is to make at least $1000 a month so that I can use my AdvoCare earnings to pay off my student loans, car payments, etc. Ideally, I would love to earn enough so that I could go to graduate school and not have to worry about more student loan payments. The sky is the limit, and I am reaching for it!

Stay tuned….big things are coming!

Life’s a Funny Thing

It’s amazing how much things can change in just a few months. So many things have happened since January that it just blows my mind. Life has  had its ups and downs, filled with accomplishments, changes and scares, but I’ve come out the victor.

In early December, I went in for my annual exam without thinking much of it. Unfortunately, it would yield one of the biggest health scares and unexpected events I’ve had in my 24 years of life. It really made me realize how I needed to start taking better care of myself, even though I really had no control over this medical scare.

Luckily, I had already taken a step towards a healthier me. January 3rd I embarked on a new journey with AdvoCare. I began my 24 Day Challenge at 192 lbs, and I ended it on January 27 at 177 lbs, with a total of 25.6 inches lost. The first 24 days was done simply by eating right and taking vitamins because I couldn’t go to the gym after my procedure. Once my doctor gave me the OK, I was back in the gym almost every day. Some days it’s hard for me to see the progress I’ve made, even though others notice it. It’s only when I see the pictures side-by-side that I’m able to truly grasp how much weight I’ve really lost.

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(From L-R) 1/3/13, 1/14/13, 1/29/13, and 5/8/13

I feel better, I look better (so I’m told), and my next goal is to get to the 30 lbs mark, then the 40, and (ideally) the 50 lbs mark by Thanksgiving, when I plan to run my first 5K. The best is yet to come!

The career has also changed. I’m still working AT Bashor, but I’m now employed by Oaklawn Psychiatric Center as a Skills Training Specialist. I love my job–I have an office, a normal 40 hour work week, weekends/holidays off, and I get to wear cute clothes & shoes now. Most of all, I’m using my degree. I guess that’s a big deal, considering I spent a lot of money on it.

The past 4 months have produced significant changes in my life. I’ve retired from pageantry, focused on my career, and have matured more this year so far than I thought possible. I hardly drink, I work out 5-6 days a week, and I eat right. I’ll be 25 in August , and I plan on making this the start of a new and healthy life. I went from complaining about my weight and appearance to doing something about it, from a job I hated to a job I love, and finally understood that I’m worth more than I often give myself credit for.

It’s amazing what determination, a lot of sweat and hard work, and a little bit of ambition can get you……and I’m just getting started.