Up & Up

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I have been meaning to write a blog post since moving home from Charlotte (I can’t believe I didn’t even write when I was there! I’m pretty sure live FB videos win over a blog so if you saw all of those, bless you!) BUT I’ve been really busy with the move and adjusting to life at home. It’s officially been ONE WEEK AND 5 DAYS BACK IN BUFFALO!

First things first, I HAVE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER TO BE HOME! Which is crazy for me to type and comprehend as I was super pumped about this change when the teaching job and move to Charlotte was finalized in June….

Secondly, I need this tattooed on my forehead–“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.” But FOR REAL, I beat myself up DAILY for quitting. Giving up. Throwing in the towel. However, you want to label it. I STILL feel the most bad for my students because they are innocent and did nothing wrong but were impacted the most by me quitting. I had parents tell me that they are young and resilient but that still didn’t lessen the wound for me.

I have to keep reminding myself that I made the decision to quit on the sole purpose that I was unhappy. I was so very tired of being knocked down time and time again between school, roommate issues and battling homesickness. Enough was enough. For those of you that are friends with me on FB, you can attest to my updates, lol!

The synopsis of the whole journey is that I know what I stand for and what I believe in and I was tired of being jerked around in more ways than one….

I applied June 16th for my license and it was STILL pending when I quit. During the first week that I was in Charlotte when I visited my principal, I was told that I would be paid as a sub because of said pending certification. But I emailed the HR director a very well-thought out e-mail about how I made the long trek to Buffalo in my little car, took the seats out, my life was in storage, etc. etc. I didn’t include this in the e-mail BUT if I wanted to sub, I could have stayed put in Buffalo. Mind you–she never responded in e-mail and neither did my principal.Anyways, she called me when I was at Coach Summit in Nashville a few days later with the great news that I would be able to submit a screenshot of my pending certification and be all set to be paid as a certified teacher. (I MEAN HELLO–I taught in NC before!!) My friends in Nashville bought me drinks that night, we all celebrated the good news!

Then I came home to Charlotte and started attending the training. Naturally on the second day of training my name was read off a list and I was told to meet in the back of the room. (BAD KID ALERT) There were a few teachers who stood in the bad kid circle and I knew what was happening. My heart was in my throat and I could tell it wasn’t good. They were going to take back the certification pay. I thought I was going to throw up. Now to some people in the circle, they had spouses who had high paying jobs and it was optional for them to even go to work. Not for this girl, I moved my whole life just me–myself–and I for this job to Charlotte. I was already IN THE HOLE from moving people! I cried a lot. The entire drive home. Sorry for those who saw on snap, lol. Contemplated skipping the next day. Skipping the rest of the week. Packing up right then and there. Looking back, I should have done it.

However, a voice inside me told me to stick it out and just count on the fact that my certification had to come through eventually, right?! I mean they were going to back pay me one my certification came in and I would survive. I mean shit, I just bought my first ever brand new big girl bed counting on this teaching salary but sure I’ll get paid as a sub! (Insert sarcastic eye-roll here)

Well as the weeks went on, the expectations at school, dealing with that crazy roommate and homesickness–everything just kept building and building. I woke up with such a heavy weight on my chest–EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I was beyond miserable, I pressed snooze about 16 times, was lucky if I showed up at work showered and in my uniform. I counted down the hours during the day in my classroom, went to bed miserable, dreaded grading, dreaded weekends of lesson planning. I found very little joy in daily life. I mean sure my kids gave me a sense of purpose but that was always faded by the insane expectations at school. I could have pushed on but being away from everything I knew and what made me happy was in Buffalo. My only saving grace were a few work friends, my runs on the greenway and knowing I could nap when I got home–that is not a lie.

I found myself asking, “At what point, do you sacrifice so much of your happiness and quality of life for a job?” FOR REAL–When do you say enough is enough? I think I said this already lol–I was getting iced coffees and bagels every damn morning out of exhaustion. I was equally exhausted and miserable after work that I couldn’t bring myself to do anything but sleep. I had ZERO ambition to be up any earlier than I needed to. I was slowly unraveling and becoming EVERYTHING I didn’t want to–FOR A JOB. This wasn’t me. I couldn’t live this life any longer and I made the change. Sure it was uncomfortable and cost more money to move home I personally believe in my heart that happiness has no price.

Now that I’m home, I’m turning a new leaf. I’m spending time focusing on me. I am finally back into a routine at home–EVERY.SINGLE.DAY this week, I have chugged my energize (preworkout) and gotten up to workout. Sure, there are days I would rather sleep but I know I need a good workout and there is no negativity of a job impacting my functionality. I then make my Shakeology right after. No excuses.

I job search, apply to said jobs, find time for family, friends and the things that make me happy. I went to a puppy class with my mom last night with Willow and it was adorable! I met some of my team out for drinks last night (I did not have any, I must report!) I also met a friend for lunch today who I knew solely from the gym and then we connected on Instagram. Then decided to get my nails done. Because why not? I am also thrilled to report that I have an interview on Monday for a special education position!!

Things are on the up and up my friends. Update soon.<3

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Decisions, Decisions

From the Teacher’s Desk–

“The right decisions are always the hardest to make. But they must be made in order to live the life you deserve.”

Another blog that is NOT fitness related? Who am I anymore? Gosh, lots of BIG changes happening lately and I want to share my thought process behind it all with all of you! Yes, it’s a long one and no I’m not sorry!

If you did not know, I am a NYS certified childhood and special education teacher. I also taught second grade in Louisburg, NC (closest to Raleigh) from August 2012 to June 2013. BUT after that year of teaching I thought that teaching just wasn’t for me. I mean it could have been that my boyfriend at the time broke up with me before the first day of school. It could have been that I also threw up in front of my class three times on the first day of school. It could have been that I felt super homesick that entire year. It could have been that I had no idea who I was and found myself over the last three years.(If I could go back and slap myself I would. Not for puking but for quitting after a year.)

So at the end of the school year, I was on my way back to Buffalo to obtain my Master’s in College Student Personnel Administration which then led me to a lot of homework, paper writing and then working my desk job at a college in an office for the next almost 3 years.

Fast forward to this past spring, I just got this feeling in my gut that I was no longer meant to sit in an office from 9-5 completing the same tasks day in and day out. I tried to weigh what made me feel the way that I did and after awhile I discovered that I felt more like a paper pusher. My work became very systematic. Student visits for reason X, I complete task Y for them, I schedule X service, send Y e-mail etc. I knew that for some students at the college, I made a difference BUT at the end of the day I felt a much larger calling.

Where in my life have I previously felt that I made a difference?

When did I feel that my work was purposeful?

When did I feel fulfilled?

What inspires me to grow and be better?

All of those questions brought me back to a somewhat seemingly simple answer-

teaching.

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Okay, we figured out the problem so now what? What is the action plan? It’s SPRING in Buffalo. It’s not exactly like teaching jobs are a hot commodity around here. I knew I did not want to go back to substitute teaching, whether it be daily or long-term. I also knew I did not want to spend five years proving myself in a district. I knew I wanted my own classroom RIGHT NOW. Okay, so that settles WHAT I want to do.

But WHERE? I knew that I LOVED LOVED living in North Carolina, I knew when I pulled away from my apartment sobbing like a baby back in August 2013 that I would be back. I had this gut feeling. I loved the constant new growth and opportunities in North Carolina. Raleigh was so very beautiful and I loved that I could also run outside in February and it wasn’t a blizzard. I also didn’t mind that whole snow day thing at even the threat of freezing rain in the forecast 😉 I just didn’t LOVE the location of the school I taught at. (Funny enough, I saw on Timehop yesterday a FB status about making the final 54 mile round-trip on the final day of school) I could for sure, just try a different area in North Carolina. The entire state was not off the table after one bad teaching experience, that’s for sure!

Now the fun part-the job search. I downloaded every possible job searching app. I became the job searching queen (If there even is such a thing, I now have the title) Indeed was my best friend. Glassdoor and I had several lunch dates. Craigslist and I met over dinner. IT WAS A FULL-TIME JOB. I wouldn’t let a day go by without applying SOMEWHERE.

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I felt pretty good about applying to Wake County which was a county over from where I previously taught. HOWEVER-I did not anticipate a hiring freeze. I figured my next best bet would be private schools and charter schools. AND YOUR GIRL IS IMPATIENT! Thus, I stumbled upon a company called Charter Schools USA. I saw they had several locations in North Carolina and they were expanding and building new schools throughout the state. I figured it was a long shot because charter schools are highly selective but if I didn’t take the leap–I would never know.

While I’m applying to teaching jobs, I also wanted to leave my desk job sooner rather than later but with teaching jobs not starting until early August, I wanted to find something to do during the summer. I really could not stick it out all summer. I would feel bad leading students and my staff on–planning things for the upcoming semester and it would make more sense for someone else to be able to start the semester off fresh. Ya feel me?

So I landed a job at a summer camp in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts (not a clue as to how) and I was PUMPED. But the conflict I KEPT running into was the fact that camp went from June 14th-August 14th. The current teaching jobs I had applied to and lined up interviews for began very early August. Sure, I had some options like leave summer camp early and lose out on the extra $1,000 at the end of the summer. Yes, that was possible BUT at the same time, I didn’t have someone to take my apartment and June 14th was coming fast. I WAS TORN. WHAT A MESS. There were days where I wanted to crawl out of my skin because I just wanted a sign about what to do. There were days I contemplated going to a psychic so she could just tell me what to do. There were days that getting out of bed seemed impossible because that meant another day behind me and another day approaching too fast on my deadline of making a decision.

I decided to keep pressing on regardless of the fact that my lease for my apartment wasn’t up until September. Regardless of the fact that I had not put in my two week notice at my current job and regardless of the fact that I did NOT have a teaching job lined up for the fall yet. My plan was to get rid of my apartment, go to the summer camp, keep pursuing the teaching interviews I had lined up and continue to apply like crazy in the meantime. I kept telling myself that “Adventure is out there” and “You only live once.”

In order to make this summer camp thing happen I posted my apartment to Craigslist and Facebook like crazy (Thanks to all who dealt with that and shared it!) Spoiler alert: I am officially moving out July 1st. THANK GOODNESS. What. a. process. The real estate world/landlord life is not for me. I mean duh, we’re going back to teaching here but you know what I mean 😉

Back to Charter Schools USA. I had two phone interviews. One on May 13th with a school in Indian Trail (25 minutes outside of Charlotte) and then another one with a school in Iredell County (don’t remember the date) I was told during that first phone interview on the 13th that there would be a Skype interview and then an in person interview over the summer. GREAT–HOW was I going to swing that with summer camp? AGH! Alright, I told myself that I would just figure out these situations as they come. No point in stressing about the future.

Meanwhile, I also had an interview for an elementary school in Glades County, Florida all because my friend Mary has been following my weightloss journey. (Or so I think, ha!) Legit, she liked my luvtobfitness page and we messaged jokingly about how I should teach in Florida. I don’t know when or how it came up but fast forward a few months and I’m on the phone with her principal and assistant principal about a 4th grade writing position. They offered it to me a week after our phone interview because the position had to be approved by the board. (Did I mention I’m impatient?!) However, I knew that I wanted to teach a younger grade level and I did not want to teach in a trailer or teach the same subject all day long and another big factor to consider was the salary. As much as everyone says it’s not about the money–well when you’re moving your life around for a teaching job, salary is HUGE to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that I was meant to go to Florida. The school came back and offered me a third grade position in an actual classroom in the physical building but I just knew I wanted to pursue other avenues. I felt bad, I felt guilty. But I also told myself that I wasn’t going to settle and I had my heart set on North Carolina.

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May 27th I put my two weeks in at my desk job because in my mind the summer camp was still a thing and I knew I had to be in MA on June 14th. Yes, I still really wanted a full-time teaching job but I could not put off putting in my two weeks any longer. I needed to be done on June 10th in order to be at camp on the 14th. The clock was ticking and my stress level was rising!

June 2nd I Skyped with the principal for the BRAND NEW charter school in Indian Trail. The crazy part about this was I almost canceled the interview, I doubted myself SO SO much. HOWEVER–I felt so PUMPED UP after that Skype interview. (I turned down the second interview for the school in Iredell County because I researched the area and it was way too rural for me!) I shared that my grade-level preference would be second grade. She shared the opportunities within the school as far as professional development, paid tutoring, commission for running a club (she even mentioned running club, UM HELLO PERFECT!) I truly felt like she got me and I got her. I wanted to kick myself though because I didn’t put my phone on Do Not Disturb and IT RANG THROUGH MY COMPUTER DURING MY INTERVIEW. It was so so bad. I brushed it off and apologized. At the end, she asked me about a timeline as far as needing a response (Because hi, I still had summer camp on the brain and I felt like I was going to have to cancel on them with how good the interview was going.) I mentioned that I would need to know by early next week and she said, “Well I was thinking tomorrow.” (Insert very shocked face) AND to think that I almost canceled…still blows my mind!

Sooooooo…….on June 3rd (FELT LIKE THE LONGEST DAY IN THE WORLD) the principal called me offering me a third grade position. I WAS OVER THE MOON ECSTATIC! This school was everything I wanted! You truly can’t turn down a brand new school, third grade and the salary is so much more than I anticipated. Not to mention, they are recognizing my Master’s (paying me more for it) AND paying me for my year of teaching experience. I couldn’t ask for anything more! Here is my principal standing outside the school TODAY! (see I told you it’s being built, lol) I start on August 8th and the students come August 29th!

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The summer camp was very upset and understandably so but I couldn’t justify putting my teaching career on hold for a 7 week summer camp. They asked if I could leave August 1st and without having my apartment rented out or having my stuff moved home, no place to live yet in NC, I couldn’t justify that. They were super rude and I know everything happens for a reason.

I may be saving money like crazy and selling my life away, (can’t wait to write my next blog about my thrifty tips and adventures!) picking up some babysitting jobs here and there because I left my desk job almost a week ago now. PSA– If you want to buy any of my furniture or want me to watch your children, I would love to be of service to you! 😉 Sure, I could have stayed at my desk job longer but for my own mental health, I really just couldn’t do it anymore. I have been so blessed to just gather my thoughts during this week alone. I feel like a new woman! I may also not have a place to live yet and I do have to live at home for a month but I am planning a trip to visit Charlotte in the middle of July. There are many things that I was scared of while taking this leap. I am still scared. BUT I am a big proponent of the phrase,

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

At the end of the day, what I learned the most about this decision making process and seemingly endless job search is that I am so very thankful for my previous experience in North Carolina. It taught me the important questions to ask in an interview, what to look for in the school, administration and now what to look for as far as where I want to live. I also learned that, “You should never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” If you want something bad enough, you have to go after it no matter how muddy the fine details may seem. I know that everything will sort itself out in due time. I feel so very blessed to have landed this job, move out of my apartment, and now it’s that exciting time to plan the big move to Charlotte!

Special shoutout to all my friends, family  and coworkers who spent countless hours FB messaging me, texting, listening to me on the phone, etc. I couldn’t have done it without all of you! ❤

Charlotte better be ready for Miss Miller and her wise owls! 😉

 

Not your typical Wednesday

So this isn’t one of my typical uplifting and inspiring weight loss journey blog posts. If that’s what you were looking for today, sorry to disappoint but this post is a little different and I’m really hoping that it’s going to help me heal. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself…it’s just really fu*king hard. Plan and simple. You truly think of your biggest fear and convince yourself that it can’t possibly happen to you but then it does and you’re forever changed….

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This past Wednesday morning, if you had told me that later that night there would be 7 police officers in my apartment, I wouldn’t believe you BUT unfortunately that’s what happened…

I went to bed Tuesday night with the window open as it has been unusually warm for Buffalo, NY in March. I mean don’t we all enjoy fresh air once in awhile after being closed in all winter?! Well Wednesday morning I awoke and got ready with my bedroom window still open and decided to open a window out in the living room. (I recently moved into this apartment last September and thought to myself that in my previous apartment since I lived upstairs I could leave the windows open during the day and didn’t have to worry about anything.) I have chills as I type this because I literally thought to myself, “I wonder how it’s going to be living on the first floor. I should close and lock the windows any time I leave.” So before I left and went about my day. I closed and locked the windows (so I thought) little did I know later that night I would have a real CLEAR answer to this pondered thought….

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It was about 10:20pm, I was laying on my bed in a towel, my back to the (what I thought was locked) window, WITH THE LIGHT ON–just texting a friend (I had been putting off a shower since about 10) and I heard what I thought was the wind against my window. I thought, “Hmm..that sounds a bit more forceful than normal and it’s only on one window. Let’s not stress yet.” Now, I watch enough Dateline and 48 Hours mystery to scare myself to the point that I run upstairs from doing laundry in the dark basement on a weekly basis fearful someone is going to grab my ankles from under the stairs. (I wish I was joking) I figured I was just hearing things because I can really get myself worked up over nothing but once I started to hear the air outside suddenly on the inside–I began to question myself. “Did I really shut and lock the window this morning? Well if you didn’t, you’ve been laying here for twenty minutes and you would have certainly heard the wind before that.” My gut told me to run.

I grabbed my phone and ran out into the living room near the door as the noise got worse and louder. I kept my eyes locked on that window and as soon as I saw three of the blind panels move towards the bottom, something I KNOW the wind could not possibly do–I screamed “HELLO?!” then I called 911 on speakerphone without even flinching. It seemed like forever trying to spit out my address and explain what was going on. I don’t even know what I talked to the dispatcher about. He asked me where they were coming in and what window of what room and you know basic things but in a panic stricken state those questions were SO DAMN HARD. Spoiler alert-I freeze in traumatic situations. I can not tell a lie. If you need help in an emergency I’m seriously the last person to call. Well I think it’s only when I’m involved so you maybe okay BUT it’s like everything shuts down. Now, ask me why I screamed “HELLO” to said burglar of all things, I’m not really sure. Like was I inviting him in for some tea? Seeing if he wanted to come in? I mean clearly I was feeling some Adele in the moment. (but for real, no idea) Why I didn’t just let them come in so they could get caught and then run into the basement, I don’t know either-oh yeah maybe because we don’t let burglars in?! (I think it also had something to do with me being in a towel)

Pretty soon after the dispatcher walked me through how to go get the clothes out of my bedroom and get dressed through my hysterical sobs, the police showed up. There were about 7 officers, no lie. They came flying in–checking closets, opening doors, flashlights everywhere. I assured them I had been home for about 3 hours and I knew there was nobody else inside (I get protocol, I do.) At this point I hadn’t touched the blinds or window. However, as soon as an officer opened the blinds and revealed that the screen was up as well as the window–I KNEW for sure I did NOT do that and that’s when I truly felt violated. It’s like I knew there was something on the other side of the window when I was laying on my bed but as soon as that blind was lifted and I saw it–I truly felt the world crashing down on me.

windowThat validation of actually SEEING the window was two fold-it told me I wasn’t crazy as I knew I didn’t touch the window while at the same time I felt so very hurt and angry I left the window open but mostly scared. The officers asked me if I had any crazy ex-boyfriends or knew anyone involved with drugs. Nope and nope. I truly believe someone had to be on drugs to try and break in with a light on in the living room AND in my bedroom. I think my favorite question was when the police asked me if I saw who it was–LIKE FOR REAL–running towards the window to find out who the burglar was–NOT on my top list of priorities right now. #sorrynotsorry Again, I know there are certain questions they need to ask but I’m actually super glad the blinds were down so I couldn’t see!

So much was running through my head, so many questions, so few answers. What I do know is that I was shaking and the police probably thought I was nuts when I apologized for my messy apartment. I mean we don’t all prepare our apartments for a burglary? I was mortified with my dirty gym clothes all over the floor and other items a stray. However, they assured me that my apartment was one of the cleanest they have seen so I figured if it got the Buffalo police stamp of approval, I passed with flying colors, ha!

When the police officers were outside doing their thing, my neighbors came down from upstairs with a glass of water and offered me some chocolate, that was super sweet. (Them offering, not the chocolate. I couldn’t even eat if you paid me.) I was shaking so bad I couldn’t even drink it. I took a few sips, choked because I couldn’t calm down and then dumped the rest. I couldn’t even wash their dish, I apologized I was like “I would wash this but I’m shaking so bad, I’d probably break it.” They chuckled but I was being serious.

The officers shared that there were a string of these in the area and the detective was going to come out. Great. This was good and bad. I really wanted a shower which was my goal about an hour ago. I was starving because #adrenaline. So the officers and I waited about 45 minutes for the detective to come and do the fingerprints. An officer came back to the door and asked me if I ever saw a 5 gallon bucket outside before–I asked him “like the garbage cans?!” I couldn’t find any shoes so I ran outside barefoot and I was at first upset when I saw the screen opened and the window opened. The thought of someone else’s fingers wrapped around my window and entering my bedroom was nauseating enough. BUT I was REAL upset when I saw that someone KNEW they had to obtain a bucket in order to reach the window. I mean they have to put effort into finding a bucket. I really hope their fingerprints are all over that. The police told me it would take a few weeks for the fingerprints to come back but I truly don’t think I will hear anything.

I am forever changed because of this. I will truly never be the same. Once someone invades your space, in such an unwelcoming and violating way, it’s pretty impossible to let it go. The sting burns a little less each day but I just keep telling myself that it could always have been worse. It doesn’t negate what happened. It just makes it hurt just a little bit less and that’s what I need right now. I tell myself I could have been in the shower. I could have came out and found someone in my bedroom while I was in a towel and they could have had a weapon and freaked out and shot me. I could have seen who it was and been left with that image in my mind forever as now I really have no idea who it was. I could have not been home. I could have been sleeping. I could have been in the basement switching laundry. There are one million “could haves.” Thus, there is always something to be thankful for, regardless of how it happened. I’m just feeling blessed to be alive.

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Unfortunately, at the same time when something like this happens at home, there is no escape. You truly never think it could happen to you. You see it on TV. You never know how to handle it when it happens to you… If you’re in a car accident, you can get a new car or drive home a different way, choose to not return to the scene. My traumatic kayaking accident (few posts back)–I can CHOOSE not to go kayaking ever again (which I have) I am removed from the location of where that happened. I never have to go back to Churchville, again if I don’t want to. But when you live WHERE it happened, there is no escaping that–especially in your bedroom. You replay the sounds, what you saw and it’s right THERE. I sleep with my back towards the window. I flinch at every noise. My own heartbeat and breathing almost startles me. The TV/radio/audiobook are almost constantly on. Sirens make me flinch. I can’t even look at the window that was opened. Showering home alone exhausts me. It’s my toughest chore, takes all of my emotional energy. I can’t even close my eyes when washing my face and rinsing my hair. There is also a window in my shower (super cool idea, right?) I used to open it from the top for steam purposes because I don’t have a fan in my bathroom. FORGET THAT. I have always had to shower the the door and window a jar but now I just use the door. Any shadowy figures outside, I can see through the window. It really screws with me. I may get another shower curtain just to cover the damn thing. Also, forget going in the basement when it’s dark out. I can’t even bring myself to do laundry at night. I sleep with the lights on. Not that that deters anyone now a days or anything…

This morning while listening to “You Are A Badass” there was a chapter about not letting fear control us. (How perfect) So I’m working super hard on that and not letting my brain win. Last week I didn’t workout ONCE in the morning, are a bunch of bad shit and threw myself a pity party. I’m not proud if that. I have to talk myself down from jumping to conclusions about a lot of sounds, obsessively locking things before I leave, fearful, racing thoughts before bed, fearful thoughts first walking in my apartment, etc. However, only a week after the incident it is much easier said than done.

A huge, huge thank you to first the police officers who took me seriously. If I could kiss you, I would! Second to those who have opened their hearts and told me about their own experiences. My heart breaks for those who have been held at gun point or their houses actually torn apart. I am super thankful I was able to stop it in time. I also appreciate those who offered for me to stay with them and to come stay with me. To those who have allowed me to vent, tell my story, listen, cry and help in this healing process–you are all beautiful people and you’ve helped more than you know. Always lock your windows and listen to your gut. ❤

Thankful for the struggle

Thankful for struggle

Wow it’s been a hot second since my last blog post and for that I sincerely apologize. EEK!! In the past six months I can say that I’m thrilled with where life is taking me! There have been many changes in my life–I officially became a Beachbody coach in June, got a new car in August (bye bye mini van) and moved into my very own apartment in September. YAY!

I’m so beyond blessed with life right now!! BUT I can assure you that it hasn’t always been this way. I haven’t always been this positive and cheerful. I believe that the only way I am able to fully appreciate each of these wonderful aspects of my life NOW is by reflecting on my past struggles. I’ve been through A LOT in my life-I mean who hasn’t? We all have baggage and stuff that has happened to us. However, it’s all about how we handle those obstacles and struggles. I love the quote posted above so very much and it couldn’t be more true.

“I’m thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.”

It’s no secret that my move from Buffalo, New York to Raleigh, North Carolina after graduating from college in May 2012 was very very hard on me, if not one of the hardest things I have EVER done. My first year of teaching and living on my own in a new state was quite the challenge. Not only was I anxious and homesick 99.9% of the time but I felt so conflicted in the fact that I didn’t think teaching was for me. I remember calling my mom sobbing–telling her I was going to pack up my car and head home SEVERAL TIMES. I even researched what it would cost to rent a U-Haul and trailer my car home, that’s how miserable I was. It was nobody’s fault, I was just so uncomfortable with being me and navigating this unknown territory just sent me in a downward anxiety ridden spiral. The only way I knew how to make myself feel better was through my anxiety medication (which I don’t think ever helped) and eating (until February 2013). I found comfort in gorging myself on any fast food that I could find. I looked forward to weekends with Ben and Jerry and Netflix–that is before Netflix and Chill was a thing…I was trapped in my own body and I was in denial that I had an eating problem.

While I was in North Carolina I had this attitude that I was the victim and everyone should feel bad for me. I always dreaded the flights “home” from Buffalo to Raleigh. I cried on my drive home from the airport before stopping at McDonald’s and then curling up in my bed full of tears to nap away my misery. I just assumed I was destined to be anxious and miserable and that’s how my life was going to be. I didn’t see it getting any better and I felt very little purpose in life. I was truly going through the daily motions and hoping for a miracle.

November 2015 TransformationMy miracle finally came on February 6th, 2013 when I decided to join Planet Fitness and attend my first Weight Watchers meeting because one of my students in my class told me that I was the biggest. I was so embarrassed and heartbroken in that moment. I felt so hurt and ashamed that I let a second grader define my size. BUT I had been struggling for so very long that I truly NEEDED that. That student was the voice of so many family and friends that wanted to say something but couldn’t because they probably didn’t want to hurt my feelings. This student didn’t care about my feelings but I’m so much stronger now because of that comment. I let that comment define me in the moment but it truly changed my life for the better. That comment sparked my healthy lifestyle and I’m extremely thankful for this journey.

It’s truly not about how much weight I’ve lost anymore. It’s not about a number on the scale. It’s not about the fastest mile. It’s not about the heaviest squat. It’s not about how many Beachbody customers I have. It’s about what this journey has taught me. It’s about appreciating and embracing the fact that I came from a very low place in North Carolina. I went from letting my anxiety and struggle with emotional eating control me to loving life as a Beachbody coach with BIG goals. The fact that I just typed that brings tears to my eyes. Happy tears just streaming down my face. I never ever thought that I could help myself let alone inspire anyone else.

This journey has brought me strangers from all over the world that I now am blessed to call my friends, an amazing team, confidence I never knew I had, and a much bigger purpose in life. I couldn’t say any of this in February 2013. Dream Big. Get Fit. 2016 is going to be the best year yet. Love you all. ❤

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Failure is fuel.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for awhile now…..for the past few weeks months, I know that I’ve gained at the scale. BAD. There is no denying that so….. I’ve been contemplating going back to Weight Watchers. I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the way that I look and feel. I constantly compare to what I looked like last summer and how CLOSE I was to my goal last July/August. Also, timehop is a b.i.t.c.h. Therefore, last Friday, May 29th 2015 I have re-committed to Weight Watchers for the sole purpose that it works. YAY! It was a super vulnerable feeling walking through those doors again but I knew it had to be done. I felt my absolute BEST last summer at 157lbs and the fact that I let the pounds pile back on is so so upsetting. I know I should have never quit in October in the first place. It just kills me that I spent from February 2013-October 2014 losing all this weight, driving to the gym, putting in the work, running all the miles, doing all the grocery shopping, just to basically end up right where I started. Those thoughts alone bring me to tears. You can add up all the time and money that was spent on the first journey but that WILL NOT push you forward. I’m making a promise to myself that I can’t obsess about the past, the only direction is forward. I have to let the past go and realize that this journey is a new beginning and I have to remember that I’ve done this before and I’m worth it to myself to get healthy again. My favorite part about the quote above, “the time will pass anyway” is something I have to hold onto because just as the time will pass anyway, I can’t rewind or erase the mistakes. It happened and I have to use this failure as fuel to push forward and the simple fact that I know where I was and where I can be is motivation enough. (See happy July 2014 photo below)

Transformation December 2014This quote reminds me to just get back up!

never quit quote

In addition, if there is anything I have learned on this journey is that you have to do what works for you and only do it for YOU. Do it because you want to crush your goals. Do it so that you can walk into your favorite store and try on that awesome outfit without hesitation. Do it because you deserve to walk around with the highest level of confidence and you deserve to feel the most comfortable in your own skin. People may suggest other weight loss products and programs BUT you know you best. I know that I can’t simply eat clean and workout..maybe you can but I KNOW that I need to track my points and exercise. I also need that accountability to someone at the scale every single week. That’s the only way IT WORKS for ME. This does not make any program better than another though. In this life we get to choose what works for us and if you’re killin’ it with a different program but still working towards the best version of you and you’re happy doing it..then GO YOU! We’re all in this together and nobody should knock someone else’s journey to becoming healthier simply because it’s not their program of choice. DO YOU ALWAYS.

Recently, someone shared with me that it’s hard to get back on track and tracking their points is hard. That statement really made me think that yes, nobody wakes up and says, “YES I LOVE TO TRACK, TRACKING IS MY FAVORITE” nobody wants to count calories or track their food in any app and if you genuinely do…then I need to meet you and get your autograph. It would be GREAT if we could all eat what we wanted without keeping track or putting in the work during workouts. However, personally, I feel that being overweight is harder. Walking around feeling uncomfortable and not fitting into the clothes I wore last summer is harder. Running at a slower pace than last summer is harder. Taking 17 minutes longer on this year’s half-marathon is harder. Not being able to sit down without feeling my fat rolls rolling on top of each other is harder. Not being a size 10 is harder. (Yes, I went there) It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting to not be 110% happy with you. Tracking IS hard, there is no minimizing the time and energy that must go into preparing food and workouts BUT gaining 35 pounds in 8 months is harder for me. (Ouch. Makes me sick.) Choose your hard. That is all.

But I would rather end on a positive note SO here is a wonderful transformation photo of me at 214 pounds to running my FOURTH half-marathon and Sunday’s meal prep. YAY. Smiles all around for moving forward. Can’t wait to see my Sunday warriors this week! Keep on keepin’ on fitfam! 🙂

4th half transformationmeal prep

My metaphorical kayak

This is a very long post so please stay with me! Some of you may or may not know that this past August I went kayaking in Rochester with my Mom. It was a beautiful summer day and we were about 2 hours into our 4 hour trip. I just waved at a couple standing on their back deck along the bank of the creek bend. We exchanged some “hellos” and everything was fine until we came around the bend and I found myself in what is called a “strainer.”  I had no idea what it was at the time but I have since researched the term. In short, the current was really strong because of a down tree and a bunch of debris that I couldn’t navigate until it was too late.  (My mom was able to navigate it much better than I and she stayed in her kayak the whole time) It is very similar to the way a drain/sifter/strainer works except my kayak went through the holes of the drain while I was fighting for my body to stay a float and not get sucked into the holes. You can see here…

My life literally flashed before my eyes as the current and kayak tried to suck me down without my life jacket on. (I have since learned it was actually good I didn’t have my life jacket on because it would have pulled me under) I don’t really remember pulling myself out above the current or clinging to dear life on the tree branches. The whole event will remain a blur. What I do know is that I’m very lucky I survived and walked away with a few scrapes and bruises. The only things lost that day were “things” which were easily replaced. After this near death experience, everything is really put into perspective. When you’re swimming down a frigid cold creek, in an area you don’t know and your only source of communication has been sucked in by the creek along with your flip-flops, you will lose your mind and you will sing just keep swimming and you will cry like a baby. In that moment you know nothing else. You will also never be happier to hear the sound of cars driving over a bridge and you will run through the woods in your soaking wet clothes as fast as you can until you find the clearing that opens to the road. I flagged my arms up and down and a couple stopped because clearly something was out of place. It was the couple that we just waved at on their back deck along the creek path. I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT. The woman said to me, “Didn’t we just see you kayaking past our house” and through some sobs I was able to say “Oh thank goodness, yes!” Since I ran to the road, my mom was still in her kayak and needed to be rescued because I could not swim the rest of the way and we needed help. Moments later the Rochester-Chile Fire Department was there and next thing I know is I’m sitting on the front bumper of a fire truck in bare feet (I was wearing my Mom’s flip-flops while running through the woods so I made sure an EMT that went to rescue her took them back to her) with an EMT taking my blood pressure waiting for the rescue team to get my Mom. The minutes that past felt like hours until I saw my Mom venture out of the woods and I darted to hug her and we both burst into tears. I thought, “Holy shit, you really only see these emotions and experiences in the movies and now this is my life, I’m sorry but WTF.” When I woke up that morning I took every single thing for granted and I was so excited for a kayaking adventure. I recall checking in at the kayaking place on Facebook and making a status that said, “Adventure is out there.” The whole day still gives me chills.

After that day I told myself that I would live life to the absolute fullest and change my thinking to “having” to do things to “wow I get to do this.” That night once I got home, I Facebook messaged my family and friends because my phone was long gone and had to let everyone know I was okay. I began to cling to every conversation with much more meaning and hug everyone a lot tighter. The following Monday I was so excited to go to work and see my coworkers because I was ALIVE. It’s super weird to explain to people who have never experienced a near death experience. I don’t want anyone to experience that ever but you really are on some what of a high afterwards because you became so close to death. After the incident I realized that at 57 pounds lost and all of my time at the gym had actually saved my life. I had the strength to pull myself out of a really nasty current and cling to a damn tree branch. Everything had finally made sense. The weight loss was always worth it to me because of a lot of reasons but this tragic event proved that my weight loss was so much more.

Now, let’s fast forward to December 5th, 2014 and needless to say my weight loss story journey has been on the back burner, the farthest back burner that the flame is out. I haven’t weighed in at WW since October 26th. I hate that I typed that but there it is. I don’t even want to know what the scale says. I can’t get focused on that number right now, what’s done is done. Therefore, I feel that I have some explaining to do….How could this happen Chelsea? You inspired me. You have 1882 followers on Instagram who are inspired by you. How could you? Well, I don’t have all the answers but all I know is that I did. (Insert sobbing face)

I started a new position on September 3rd which I absolutely love but it also occupies 42 hours of my week and I’m in my last year of grad school. (FALL SEMESTER ENDS TUESDAY, YAY!) I had class for 6 hours per week on top of working for 42 hours. So about 50 hours per week are work/school. I also moved at the beginning of November and that is no easy task. Well admist all of this I was feeling pretty damn lousy. I thought it was from not working out (lack of endorphins) but I was experiencing these awful headaches and I was constantly EXHAUSTED. Drained. Miserable. Done. Defeated. I finally went to the doctor and some blood work and a CT scan have confirmed that I am deficient in Vitamin D and I have a benign cyst on my brain. Okay, so take a Vitamin D supplement and a nightly medication to curb my tension headaches but the pressure in my head is still there. My doctor sent me A LETTER telling me about the cyst so I literally have no idea where it is or how big it is and I guess I’ll just assume that it’s not serious. (super re-assuring) I worked out 2 days in a row last week and after the second workout I literally felt that my head was going to blow off. I ran 2 miles on the treadmill and did some weights. It hurt like hell, but I did it. I know that you can sometimes feel your pulse in your head but this pressure is just beyond that. Long story short because I’ve already typed too much, I am going to the neurologist on December 15th and hopefully some light can be shed on this cyst and I can start to find some relief.

Now if anyone knows me they know that I am VERY hard on myself. So I’m very sad that it has gotten to this point. I’m not this person. I want a certain number on the scale and I KNOW that I told myself I would never be this person. I would never let the flame burn out. I would push until I got to where I wanted to be.

This afternoon on a whim, I decided to check my horoscope..

“You seem to be orbiting in the cosmic flow today. Others see your light shining brightly and assume that all is right in your world. However, behind the scenes your emotions are agitated and there’s pandemonium even if everything appears placid on the surface. This kind of intensity might normally be overwhelming, but now you are eager to shoot the rapids of the emotional white waters. Grab your metaphorical kayak and start paddling while the currents are traveling in your direction.”

JUST CHILLS. I was immediately brought back to my kayaking incident just by seeing the word kayak. I reflected on how close to death I was during my kayaking experience and how I told myself that I was going to not only live but be ALIVE. So why am I letting my goals slip away if I want to feel ALIVE? I came to the realization that I am in control. I have the power to turn this around and be who I want to be. Eventually the semester will end and I will get my health in order and make it to the gym again. I will find my way back into a meeting. There will be tears along the way because I am upset and defeated that I have taken such a hiatus from something that I was so passionate about. BUT what’s so wonderful about this journey is that it’s never really over. The passion is still there. There is always time for redemption. I have the tools, I just need to do the DAMN thing. I am signed up to run the Buffalo MARATHON in May 2015 and I WILL RUN that marathon. It’s not the end of the world and there is no sense in beating myself up. It’s just going to be that much more worth it when I cross that finish line knowing that it sure as hell isn’t easy but I finished. This weight loss journey is the furthest thing from easy but I.will.keep.going and I can guarantee that you will hear about it! =)

Thanks so much for reading and accepting me for all of my flaws, you’re awesome!

What the scale WON’T tell you but my smile will

Yesterday, I finally returned to my favorite Sunday Warrior’s Weight Watchers meeting for the first time since my FIRST half-marathon and my SECOND half-marathon with a trip to Disney in between. SHOCKING. I thought to myself, “I’ve been so determined, what the hell happened!?” Well I realized that life happens and that it’s okay. The scale slips away from everyone but most importantly what I’ve learned from this whole process is that you have to OWN whatever happens and most importantly, keep kicking ass and taking names! I will say with confidence that I am actually HAPPY I gained 1.6 pounds. Yes, call me crazy but I was expecting at least a 6 pound gain from Disney (that damn Mickey ice cream!) and losing track over the past few weeks. Regardless, it’s definitely a weight off of my shoulders (I’m so punny) since I anticipated the absolute worst but was pleasantly surprised. I tend to do this a lot, as you will realize later…..

Enough about a number though. Really, what is ONE number (okay, more like three numbers strung together sometimes 4 because you can weigh like 135.2) going to tell you? Yesterday my leader (whom I adore and is super inspirational and motivational and just ALL OF THE GOOD FEELS) said something that really stuck, “Do not let 10 seconds on the scale determine your week.” This statement really got me thinking that everyone in that room is so much more than a number and we should not let the scale dictate or measure our happiness. You’re really going to let ONE number tell you that you ran 66 miles this month?! YOU BETTER NOT. I believe that anyone who is on a weightloss journey should not let one measly number define them. I mean for goodness sakes if I let a number control and define me, I’d have quit the first time I gained. Not to mention, I’ve run TWO HALF-MARATHONS since the last time I sat with my Sunday Warriors. The scale won’t tell ANYONE that.

The scale won’t tell you how my body was yelling at me during Saturday’s half because it was 88 degrees outside and I was so dehydrated. (Never doing that again!) I don’t think you understand unless you have actually ran in a 5k or half marathon or marathon that your brain starts to think some pretty crazy stuff. I wanted people sitting outside their houses to just turn their hoses on and cool everyone off. I envisioned the children standing on the road running inside and getting me a damn freezie pop. That’s when you know you’ve lost it, like when this one woman handing out water told me she could see the finish line at the 11 mile mark and I thought to myself, “NO YOU CAN’T. DON’T YOU DARE LIE TO ME.” In all reality I know she was trying to be encouraging but don’t tell me you can actually SEE the finish when it’s INSIDE the stadium and TWO miles away. I’m dying here, THANKS. After I saw someone on the side of the road with an ambulance I thought to myself, “Chelsea it’s hot, you need to slow down, who cares what your time is you are just aiming to finish standing up at this point.” So that was my mentality for the rest of the race. I figured my time was going to be a lot slower compare to my first race due to the hills and heat. So here I go with the whole anticipating the worst thing…..I mean not that I’m obsessing over numbers or anything but my first half marathon was on May 25th which I ran in 2:31:11 and Saturday’s 50 yard finish was 2:28:52. The scale won’t tell me that I actually beat my time!  The scale won’t measure the happiness that I felt when I found out that I beat this time earlier today. The scale also won’t tell you about the real smile in this transformation picture but I will.

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That smile comes from over a year of hard work, persistence, determination, dedication and defeat. I feel it’s important to discuss the defeat I have experienced as this journey is far from perfect. That smile also comes from the fact that in February 2013 I could barely run 13:20/mile and just last week in Delaware Park I ran one mile in 8:40. TONIGHT I RAN ONE MILE IN 8:35!!! That smile comes from an endless list of accomplishing things that I never thought were possible. That smile comes from the fact that I was once wearing size 18 pants and now I fit into a size 8. That smile comes from the fact that I no longer wear XXL shirts. That smile comes from the fact that I can be comfortable in shorts and a tank top. That smile comes from the fact that even when your body wants to quit, when every muscle is aching, your head is pounding, sweat is in your eyes, you want to faint, puke and collapse all at once, YOU DO NOT GIVE IN. That smile tells you that others will support and encourage you but at the end of the day this is your OWN journey and you have to rely on yourself and do what makes you happy and successful. I find myself thinking about another quote from Silver Linings Playbook….

The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. That’s guaranteed. I can’t begin to explain that. Or the craziness inside myself and everyone else. But guess what? Sunday’s my favorite day again. I think of what everyone did for me, and I feel like a very lucky guy.

I can totally relate to this quote. I used to run everyday in high school. I had a specific 4 mile loop around the village of OP. Throughout the years I lost sight of that but now running is my favorite again. Sure, a lot of stuff happens in between but you must remain grounded. You must have a constant. I’ve learned through experience that there are going to be setbacks along the way, the scale may lean one way, you didn’t run your best race, you experience a heartbreak, or you’re stressing out about school/work. Whatever the situation is, at the end of the day, if you want it bad enough, you will do what it takes to figure it out. You have to push all the bull**** aside and remember what you truly want. Nobody is going to go out there and get it for you and sometimes you need to be selfish in what you are after. Finally, the scale will not tell you that I am a fighter or that I refuse to give up on myself, only my smile can do that. Do not let the scale run your life. YOU run your life. Thanks for listening! Stay tuned for more =)

transformation

P.S. I got some new kicks tonight and I’m even MORE pumped about running. I’m not sure where Brooks have been my entire life but I’m glad I found them =)

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