And now for something completely different…

Sandy & Mary
My sister and I. Have you ever seen such happy-go-lucky kids?!

I was always a skinny kid— could eat anything and everything and barely gained an ounce. In college, I tried to donate blood but didn’t weigh enough. The lower limit was 110 pounds. I sort of figured I’d always be this way.

I sort of figured wrong.

As the decades passed, my weight crept upwards, mostly due to eating for comfort rather than for fuel. Stressed? Let’s eat. Tired? Let’s eat. Happy? Worried? Sad? Let’s eat. Ice cream filled me up, and ultimately, filled me out. Bad morning at work? Let’s spend the lunch hour reading in my car at McDonald’s. Afterwards, I felt both better and worse. Mostly worse.

In my head, I thought I exercised because I do a lot of running around at work and I walk the dogs every night. Truth is, our two oldest dogs meander more than they walk, so an evening stroll involves a lot of standing still with some bursts of strolling. Let’s just say that my heart isn’t exactly pounding when we get back to the house. But in my head, I thought I exercised.

Iced coffee

I knew this path was not a good one— that I didn’t like how I looked and felt— so I’d pledge to do something about it….tomorrow. Except tomorrow kept getting pushed off and the changes never happened. How could I resist the allure of an iced coffee (cream AND sugar) or a glazed donut? I felt powerless. I felt bad. But not bad ENOUGH, apparently, to change.

Why, you may ask, am I posting this on my pen blog? Well…it’s the only active blog I have, AND there is a pen & ink connection to this story.

Back in September 2013, I watched Brian Goulet’s “30 by 30 by 30” video on Ink Nouveau where he discussed the mental and physical transformation that resulted in him dropping 30 pounds well BEFORE his 30th birthday. Everything he said in that video hit home— how he hated how he looked and felt, how he got sick of his own excuses, how he vowed to make a change. His words hit home, but still, I stalled and let the same old excuses loop through my brain.

I didn’t act in September or October or November or December, but Brian’s words lit a tiny flame— a flame that smoldered through the first four months of 2014. (Wouldn’t want to do anything rash, now would we?!)

In April, a small panel of co-workers spoke about their experiences after participating in the Whole Life Challenge. Their honest stories of how the 8-week challenge helped them break bad habits, exercise more, and lose some weight ignited the spark that Brian’s words lit so many months before. I was, finally and officially, sick of myself and my tired excuses. During their talk, I decided to go ALL IN— from spark to inferno in the course of an hour.

Starting on May 3rd, I did just that. I joined a team of 40+ co-workers who are participating in the latest edition of the Whole Life Challenge, which runs until June 28th. We JUST passed the half-way mark and I can’t believe how dramatically things have changed in just four weeks.

  • I’m down about 10 pounds and couple of belt notches.
  • I’ve lost my desire for foods that were mainstay treats (ice cream! fries! soda!).
  • Our shopping cart is 180 degrees different than it used to be. Just veg and meat and fruit and fresh goodness. NO sugar!
  • Our dinners are tastier and more varied. We’ve climbed out of a heckuva food rut that relied heavily on pasta, white potatoes, and white rice. I made applesauce (with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg) in my crockpot on Saturday and it’s the best treat ever.
  • I’m exercising at least 10 minutes a day (the minimum to earn my daily points)…usually much more…either in the fitness center at work or riding my previously moth-balled bike.
  • I HAVE WILLPOWER! (Who knew?)

After just a month, I feel physically (and mentally) lighter. I have more energy. My acid reflux is gone. My headaches are less frequent and less severe. It’s only been four weeks, but I’m 100% sure that that changes I’m making are forever. This feels like a little miracle. Or maybe a big miracle.

Life is funny— you never know where a particular interest will take you. My love of pens and paper and ink has brought so many cool and wonderful people into my life— people I consider friends whether we’ve met in real life or not. We write letters, share pictures and stories, and bits of our lives. We entertain and inspire. We comfort and kid. We offer sympathy and understanding and advice. We can also, I’m finding out, change each other’s lives.

I’m writing here to offer Brian Goulet my gratitude for putting his story of struggle, denial, and ultimately, success out there. Even though it took MONTHS for me to take action, his video planted a seed that showed me what’s possible when you commit yourself to making a change, when you flip off the switch of denial and flip ON the switch of accountability and action.

I also thank the other members of my team for sharing their triumphs and struggles as we move through these eight weeks together, as well as the founders of the Whole Life Challenge, Andy and Michael, for giving me the rules, tools, competitive fun, and team support to help me FINALLY help myself.

I feel repaired, restored, and very, very grateful.

Edited to add: The next Whole Life Challenge starts September 13th. I’d be happy to form a team with anyone who’s interested. We COULD call ourselves “Ink Well.” (haha!)


20 thoughts on “And now for something completely different…

  1. OUTSTANDING! You GO You Just GO – Don’t stop! – Don’t give up! – Don’t give in! If you look back – you look back to remember for motivation and then LAUGH YOUR ASS OFF and how well you are doing !

    Very happy for you!

  2. Amazing, you go girl!!! This was an incredibly motivating read, and I am going through something similar myself. Take care and enjoy each new day in your new life! BIG hugs!

  3. Great stuff, Mary!

    And thanks for sharing your success. You may get some pushback for the non-pen topic, but I have also benefited from the Goulets. Their (no longer active) ink art contests inspired me to pick up my brushes, and I am a happier man for it.

    Thanks, Mary, and thanks, Brian!

    • Thanks, Michael! No complaints for the non-pen topic thus far! Glad you re-kindled your art interest. It’s so cool how we can inspire each other!

  4. Wow, Mary, I’m blown away! Honestly, I really debated about whether or not I should share anything about my weight loss on my blog. But knowing that you were touched enough to actually change your life for the better as a result of it made it completely worth it. It can be done, and you’re doing it! I personally have lost the weight, and kept it off. It’s been almost exactly a year since I had my own revelation that I had to just do the work. I’m 60 lbs lighter, feeling awesome, and though I’m not quite as strict on the eating as I was during the weight loss phase, I have made permanent changes that have me on a track towards a healthier lifestyle for the rest of my life. My kids will grow up knowing me as the man I want them to know, not the heavier version who I didn’t recognize in the mirror. Good for you for doing something about your health, no one else is going to do it for you (though I and others will definitely motivate you along the way!). Thank you so much for this blog post, I’m completely flattered and honored. Write On, Brian Goulet

    • I was hesitant about writing my post, too, but I’ve learned that you just never know when your own story may help someone else…even way on down the road! So glad you shared yours. What’s cool is that the changes that once seemed impossible, now feel very normal. Best to you, and thanks again, for the shove in the right direction.

  5. Congratulations! Physical motivation is hard. I had a similar kick in the butt about five years ago after lamenting about my weight for a decade. I started riding my bike and saying no to the endless snacks and desserts and lost 20lbs. While 20lbs doesn’t seem like much to most people, at my size, it was four dress sizes. I’ve put some back on but you are inspiring me to recommit to my goals. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Ana! It’s been a terrific ride so far. I’m so happy with the results that I’m determined to make the changes permanent. It’s weird how long it took for me to get sick of myself, but at least it happened, and I’ve “seen the light”! Best to you!!

  6. Mary, your story and watching Brian’s video made me cry last night, in the best possible way. Two years ago I lost about 30 pounds and hadn’t felt that good in almost 10 years. Then stress, moving to a new city and excuses crept back in. I did The Whole Life Challenge successfully in 2012 and love to do it again with you. Inspired by Brian’s “30 by 30”, I’m giving myself a “45 by 45 by 4/5”. If I don’t hit 4/5, I’ll shoot for my 45th birthday next June. Thanks for the inspiration. Like Brian said, no one can do this for me. It is a gift to our loved ones and to ourselves.

    • Thanks so much for your story, Liz! Your determination will get you there!! Please stay in touch along the way!! Brian’s “I’m sick of my own excuses” story really struck a nerve with me and the Whole Life Challenge gave me a great structure to work with. I plan to stay with the plan even after the challenge ends on Saturday. Best to you!

      • Yeah, oh, I hate making excuses to myself and I do it a lot, just like we all do. That’s the worst thing we can do for ourselves. It’s much better to at least own up to the consequences of our actions. I’ve said things like “I’m getting older and it’s harder to lose weight” or “the food industry makes it impossible to eat healthy” or whatever, pick your reason. The truth is, I choose to eat what I eat, and by owning up to that I have a much healthier mindset about my food. I eat Sweet Frog about once a week with my wife on date nights, and I enjoy it knowing that its my choice. But it’s still a struggle for me, I often give in to temptations with food just like everyone else, but I own up to that and after a year now of rigorous discipline with eating and exercise, I have a much more holistic mindset about my health.

  7. Pingback: Team Ink Well: An Invitation To Join the Whole Life Challenge | From the Pen Cup

  8. Pingback: On Not Buying Pens* | From the Pen Cup

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