Tuesday, June 07, 2016

If I Can Do This, Literally Anyone Can


Since beginning my health and fitness journey, quite a few of you have told me I'm inspiring or thanked me for motivating you. Those comments put me on the floor and make me so proud and grateful, but a specific comment earlier in the week really motivated me to "get real" about my story. Like, nitty-gritty-scary-for-me in the hopes of helping someone else. My wonderful friend wrote, "I'm jealous. I wish I could do something like what you're doing, but I'm so out of shape." 

I really want to put this health journey into context for anyone who may think they are too out of shape  because y'all, I was SO out of shape. I don't want you to think I'm special in this journey. Just determined with no innate abilities...just grit and a hunger to learn. The only disclaimer I would add to the title of this post would be, "If I can do this, anyone with a doctor's permission can." That's important.

Am I telling you that you should lose weight? NOPE! When I say I am body positive, I mean I am body positive. You are a beautiful, divine you no matter what your weight, and so am I. I undertook this journey because I want my heart to keep pumping for my family. That was my motivator. Weight loss is a side effect of gaining strength, endurance, and doing this work for my health.

In the two years following Greyson's birth, 2010 and 2011, I reached my heaviest weight...275 pounds. I was physically uncomfortable in my skin. I had terrible self-esteem, and I decided to go the "real food" route. Back then weight loss was the #1 thing on my mind, and I was striving to lose weight without exercise because I hated exercise. I've said it here before--I did lose weight...about 40 pounds over the course of a year or better--and I kept it off. I maintained, and that's good. It was the first step...to figure out healthy eating habits...and I think it freed me up to do this physical work now. 

When I saw the cardiologist two months ago and started running, I was 240 pounds with no discernible health problems. Enter, exercise. I needed the challenge from a medical professional, I needed a plan, I needed the time to do this exercise, and I needed the mental space to make it happen because it is MENTALLY HARD. It's no big surprise to me that I embarked on this journey after leaving my toxic job. The mental part of getting in shape, adopting a fitness routine, and enjoying it, has been one of the hardest parts for me. 

While the mental is hard, the physical is not pretty either. 
  • 240 pounds of me got into some overlarge sweat pants, ratty t-shirts, and some Target memory foam shoes and shuffled down the street
  • I could not run for 30 seconds
  • Every part of my body hurt for about 3 weeks
  • My gastrointestinals were not happy with me for those first few days
  • I could practically fall asleep standing up
  • I mentally beat myself up for being slow and out of shape
But the difference this time to any other time was that I kept going despite all the unsavory parts. 
  • I got some new shoes and a great sports bra
  • My mind began to go quiet when I exercised rather than pumping me full of negativity
  • I started to feel better even though I hadn't worked out in YEARS...LITERALLY YEARS OF NOT MOVING FAST EVER
  • I started to feel changes in my mind, body, and spirit
I'm still fat. I weigh 227 pounds. But I'm still doing the work because I am getting SO MUCH STRONGER. I am doing things I literally never thought my "broken" body could do.

In starting an exercise routine, I also started to take my goals seriously, and goal-setting has changed me (even though I was that person who rolled her eyes at goal-speak). I was unhappy in my old job for a lot of reasons, but one of the things that really made me lose faith in my leadership was setting a goal (as an individual or a department) and then never hearing about it again. Accountability is a powerful thing, and in an environment that lacked it completely I felt like I lost a lot of motivation. I lost faith in my leaders. 

What I've gained by setting goals and working toward them systematically is a renewed faith in myself. More motivation, more confidence. Through the first three weeks of Couch to 5K I did the intervals for every week twice. That is, what should've taken a week or two weeks or even three, took twice that long. I was totally fine with it, because starting from absolutely zero, I needed the repetition to conquer the plan and feel good about it. 

Earlier this week I was faced with the choice of repeating Week 4 of the plan or moving on to Week 5. Week 5 is hella scary. The running intervals start to get longer very rapidly and there's a long run at the end of every week. I was crippled by this idea as recently as Week 3, but somehow I got over that mental hump. "Somehow" being determination and grit, y'all. By seeing improvement. By steadily tackling the challenges. By taking this thing one day, one run, one walk, one set of squats in my living room, one Work Week Hustle FitBit challenge at a time.

Rather than repeat Week 4 this week, I jumped headlong into Week 5. I could not WAIT to try it. I was itching to give it a go. It was three five-minute running intervals and two three-minute walking intervals. The next day was eight-minute running intervals. Long run day will be 20 minutes solid. For someone who couldn't run for 30 seconds two months ago, it feels pretty amazing. I never see this ending for me, God willing. I am in love. 

The point of all this is that I believe you can do this if you think you need a change. It doesn't have to be running. You have to find what's right for you--what lights you up--if it's swimming, biking, or trampoline jumping. If you think you even kinda want to try, do. You may not believe it now, but I wholeheartedly know it. You have to get down in the trenches, accept the ugly parts, take the sucky days and leave them behind you. It's slow, and it's difficult, but you can do it. If I can do this--and I have never been able to before now--I know you can do it too. I absolutely believe it.

I will gladly be your cheerleader. So many of you have, and continue, to be cheering, encouraging voices for me, and I don't know that I could do it without you. I definitely want to do that for others. We're in this together.










56 comments:

  1. I'm glad you addressed that comment. I read it and had so many feelings!

    You really are inspiring. Even though I've been running for some time now, I've never felt ready to jump to the next level. Seeing your journey has motivated me to give it a try.

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    1. I'm so glad, Chris! You're gonna knock that 10K training on its ass!

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  2. It is SO HARD to make yourself go for that next level. I finally finished Couch to 5K after literally years of procrastinating that 20-minute run. It sucked the first time I ran more than 20 minutes, and it's always going to suck adding more time or more mileage, but you're going to get there and it's going to be awesome :)

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    1. Thank you, Bridget! My first 20-minute run was this morning, and I'm happy to report that I lived! I'm pretty stiff and sore, but the next one will be even better.

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  3. Your family is a wonderful motivation and I can tell you have your heart in this. I bet this does motivate someone else.

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    1. I hope so! It's so helpful that my husband is doing this along with me. Super proud of his efforts.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this, Andi. I've never gotten over the hump of running, mostly the mental side of it. I tried C25K awhile ago and it was that 20 minute run that derailed me. I don't think I wanted to be running that much anyway -- it just doesn't seem to be my thing -- but maybe it was just timing or whatever. Either way, seeing your journey (and being in your Workweek Hustles) has been inspiring and so I appreciate you sharing with us.

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    1. The 20-minute run is a beast. If there's ever a place to get derailed I can see that one doing the trick. I hope you find a thing you love (if you haven't already). Running is definitely not everyone's cup.

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  5. I've watched so many people interact with you online, stating that they started to get out there after reading your updates and goals each week. You're a rockstar and I can't wait to watch you crush (and hopefully grow alongside you) each new challenge you face! You're killin' it!

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    1. Thank you so much, Beth! I've been shocked at the positive feedback and response I've gotten from sharing this. It's a struggle, so just trying to be as real as possible along the way.

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  6. So pleased to read this! You've definitely inspired me and I hope I can find the determination in myself to keep moving!

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    1. I hope so too, April! I am ALWAYS here to cheer for you! <3

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  7. This is excellent. And I love the reminder at the end to FIND WHAT YOU LOVE. I hate running. Haaaaaate. I got it in my mind to try running and just was so angry about the whole thing. So I don't do it.

    But I go to water aerobics 2-3 times a week because I enjoy doing it, and I have gotten results from doing it and it works for me. I can definitely see the progress from when I first started to now. Like, there is a world of difference.

    So, yes. Find something you will want to do, set goals, do it. Great advice.

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    1. LOL, you know it's not for you if you're mentally cussing the workout everyday. I mean, I kinda still do it, but I end up jazzed by the end. hehe

      Water aerobics would be SOOOO up my alley, but no pool workouts within a gigantic mile-radius of my house. Sigh.

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  8. I really love what you said about wanting your heart to keep pumping for your family. That is beautiful. I'm not very sporty (literally, have never played a team sport except when they made me in gym class, and then only because gym teacher threatened to fail me if I didn't "show more enthusiasm"). Your journey inspires me. I've been trying to walk every day, and sometimes, it's so hard to put on my sneakers (the like-new pair I bought about eight years ago) and step out the door. When I'm feeling lazy, I think of your posts, and it motivates me. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Sally! I have never been a sporty person. I tried basketball and softball. I hated the team aspect because it felt like group work in school! Trying to coordinate myself with all that was a huge bummer. I wish I'd been introduced to individual sports earlier in life. I just have to worry about my own self which is the best! Any time I can lend an ear or a cheer do let me know!

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  9. I'll bet your family is very proud of you, Andi! I totally get what you mean when you say you're in love. Running does that to a lot of people. Once you get over those nasty little humps, you look back and can say, "Damn! I can do this thing and actually enjoy it." I know I've said it before, but when I used to run, I spent a lot of the time thinking about problems and situations that needed my attention. I did a lot of soul searching on those runs. I figured out solutions to my problems. I got in the zone and was able to let go of a lot! Cheap therapy, in my book.

    Thanks for the encouragement through these posts. I am walking on the trails a bit more often than I was, but not as often as I'd like. Who knows, maybe I'll run a block or two and see how my old knees feel. Baby steps, right?

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    1. They are proud, and my mother is shocked. Good-shocked but shocked nonetheless. lol And what you said about getting over the hump and looking back is the God's honest truth. I'm just SO PROUD. I cannot believe I can do this and that is a huge rush. Baby steps for sure! <3

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  10. I've done Couch to 5K and that 20 minute run does seem impossible when you see it coming up on the schedule. But, the know what they are doing and you are ready for it when you get there. Good luck!
    I never fell in love with running. I wish I did but I still hate it. I'm glad you love it though!

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    1. Thank you, Heather! Did the 20 minute run today! I felt pretty run down (pun totally intended) but the fact that it was doable in itself was a huuuuuge deal for me.

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  11. I think you're so right when you focus on gaining strength, endurance, and feeling good. For me, losing weight just does not motivate me to work harder...but achieving certain times or distance milestones does...and the weight follows.

    And that's so amazing that you couldn't wait to jump into Week 5! What a great feeling, right?!

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    1. YES! And I always really thought the weight loss would be the motivation. Turns out it's the "YES I can do that thing I never thought I could do!" Amazing feeling!

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  12. Love this post so much! I love your honesty about how it was for you when you started this path. Reminds me of what Shonda Rhimes wrote in her book - she knew she would hate to diet and work out, but she knew it was necessary. So she accepted that she would hate it and just did it. I think that's the hard part, because so many people seem like they love working out or at least that's what they say. Maybe they do, or maybe they hated it at first, but just didn't share that part. I hate it, but I know I need to do it. I'm hoping to fall in love with it like you have. That's why I love reading your posts, because you share about it all - the good, the bad, the ugly. And now you are hooked and it sounds great to me. You are an inspiration, Andi - thanks so much!!!

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    1. I hope you can fall in love with it too, Nadia! And for me it's not so much the actual, painful act of running as much as the high of doing things I never thought I could do. I mean REALLY never thought my body/abilities would be able to accomplish. That is a sweet deal!

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  13. Andi! You are so motivational and inspiring! I love how honest you are about your journey. It isn't easy, and I remember repeating weeks over and over in my training because I mentally and physically just couldn't get there. It's that drive and determination that gets you past the hump and keeps pushing you forward. I am SO HAPPY for you and your journey. I love that you've found this love for running and are sharing your story. You drive and passion will inspire so many! <3

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    1. Thank you, Brandie! It's not a pretty journey! LOL I'll probably write a post about WHY I share so much of this, and it's multi-leveled. It's accountability, it's wanting others to know it's doable, and I'M PROUD! Heck yeah I am. lol

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  14. OK. I haven't read all of your posts, but we're in similar places. (Lost 40 pounds a few years ago, exact same weight now ...) I started CrossFit a month ago or so; first the two weeks of learn-the-moves classes (just 4 classes, but spread over 2 weeks). And then 3 classes last week, and now I'm in my second week. I wasn't entirely sedentary before I started, but I wasn't nearly active, either.

    Today was a milestone workout: the first time I felt like quitting. I won't, and I know that, but it was THAT hard (mentally, and physically). I also ran 200m 2x without having to stop and walk, though, so there's that. And my form on the power snatches was apparently good, and I was able to add more weight, besides.

    Reading all this, I'm standing here with tears streaming down my face, just like they did during my workout this morning.

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    1. YES! That first "I might quit today" is a big deal. Especially if you can move on through it and keep going. There was one day last week that I left my house, walked about a third of a mile, and headed home. I stopped myself before I got too far but I physically made myself keep going. Good for you for finding something that works and sticking with it! WE CAN DO IT! Hell, we can do anything! <3 <3 <3

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  15. Thank you (again) for encouraging those of us who are beginning fitness journeys (perhaps AGAIN) or are hesitant/scared to bust through plateaus. Sharing your experience is both brave and caring. And WAY TO GO on jumping into Week 5! -Laila @Big Reading Life

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    1. Thank you so much, Laila! It's my pleasure to do it, and it's necessary for my own journey to keep goingggg!

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  16. Running is hard. Every day. I've been running, pretty consistently, since 1992 and, just like you, I am in love. I love competing against myself; I love finding out what my body can do, when I do more work and challenge what my brain is fighting against. The reward is that feeling, that feeling that you've discovered. Thank you for encouraging me with your messages of acceptance and body positivity; YOU ARE AMAZING!

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    1. WHY DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT INDIVIDUAL SPORTS SOONER? I mean, I should've put two and two together sooner. I've always been self-motivated; more interested in beating my own best rather than aligning myself with others on teams. Lord have mercy. I'm just glad I found it. Better late than never! Love you!

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  17. I am one of those weirdos who love to work out, but since I can't do as much as I wish, I find myself sometimes questioning should I go to the gym today? Will it help me or send me into a flare? Should I cheat this one meal and have the fried chicken since I've been thinking about it for 3 days or should I plow ahead and get the grilled chicken again and pretend fried chicken does not exist? (I don't eat fried chicken a lot as a rule, anyway, but when I smell it? Omg. Southern me comes out.) I think cheering for each other is a great thing because we can all get discouraged and have setbacks and be hanging out on plateaus about to LOSE OUR MINDS if we don't see results soon and being there for one another can help us power through the tough moments! I am glad to have you and everyone else on the fit life track now to help me out when I feel that fried chicken craving or that flare up come on from working out too hard (had one this weekend, but it will be okay!). I am trying to get my older sister and mother to get into the healthy lifestyle, too. One of these days I will succeed! And just know I think you ROCK and you inspire me and I am cheering for your success!!!

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    1. I can imagine re: questioning whether you should go. I've experienced it in much smaller batches than you have, and that mental feeling is a lot to contend with. I'm proud of you for staying the course and listening to your body, and keeping with it. You are one of the most determined people know! And ooohhh, fried chicken! lol

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  18. I totally need to set some real goals for myself, and then hold myself accountable. I know this is the only way I'll truly go back to a workout routine, and still, I kind of hope that I'll be healthy without having to do much for it...
    I quit smoking almost five weeks ago, and so I feel like my body is better equipped to start moving more, and I have finally gotten a start. Now - I need to actually continue - just like you do, Andi!! Stay strong!! xoxo
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. Yesss! I spent years wanting to be healthy and not doing anything. I think the media plays a large role in brainwashing us to think that's actually a thing that happens. My husband's company is making him watch Naturally Slim videos and it is a CROCK AND A HALF. It preaches against working out and isn't terribly in favor of healthy eating. WHATEVER. Can't be done. Or it can but not sustained! Sorry, that's my soap box. lol

      Good for you for quitting smoking! I know that is a beast of a thing to tackle, and I'm so proud of you for doing it, Lexxie! Any time you need a cheer or a listening ear, I'm here for ya!

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  19. I really think you're right in the mental preparation and accountability, which is something I struggle with. I'm constantly telling myself "I can't," "I'm weak,", etc. It's hard for a fact. I "want" to do it, but I really need to get myself in a mental state to do it. I'm at my most miserable body wise, right now. You're inspiring me to get moving, but I still have to inspire myself, which is where I'm lacking. I also need to manage my time to get moving, too. Once upon a time, I walked around seven miles every day. Every. Day. And it felt so good, and I looked fairly decent, too. Since then, I've used a broken leg and hip as an excuse. There will always be an excuse to not do, I'm learning, and my health is steadily declining because I'm choosing the excuse not to do. Keep inspiring and keep moving, Andi, because I might just get there, too.

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    1. I think C25K really clicked for me because it's structured in a way that sets small, realistic goals. I've also been willing to modify the program based on my physical needs which has taken longer, but has worked because my level of fitness (or lack thereof) just would not have worked if I'd rushed through the program as it was written. There's so much self-assessing to be done in any workout program or move toward fitness goals. Realistic listening to our bodies. And trying not to be too hasty with the results is important but SO HARD. I cannot even imagine how much of a mental and physical set back the leg and hip must be. That makes me hurt just thinking about it. I know you can do it! I am totally a believer in you!

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  20. For years I was "skinny" fat (not really skinny, but not overweight) and weak like a kitten...couch to 5k was a huge help (I had never ever even when I was a kid run an entire mile before that), and realizing that I just didn't enjoy the traditional gym grind and that doing dance fitness classes worked better for me. I've been doing pole fitness for a few years now and I love it. It's all about finding the kind of movement that you actually enjoy doing and getting out there! Sharing our fitness journeys helps other people realize that yes, everyone can do this and that there's no wrong time to start :)

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    1. Amen Gabby! Pole fitness sounds like SO MUCH FUN! I'm also finding that since I've started running I don't dread the things I used to. I don't dread sweating and being out in the hot (except when it's 95 and full-sun). I'm much more willing to do a variety of activities: ride a bike, play tennis, go for a swim. I had no idea how those other things would open up when I started this. Keep moving! We're doing the thing!

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  21. I've loved reading all your posts and updates on Instagram and Twitter about your journey! You are truly inspiring and awesome! I really hate running. So I've been thinking of taking up swimming again. Now that is one form of exercise I could do every day. Now if only there was a swimming pool near me!

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    1. Thank you so much, Sharlene! I know what you mean about swimming. I absolutely LOVE IT! That's probably my favorite thing ever, but like you, no pool close by. Now that it's summer I'll be out at the pool far more often, but not everyday since there's a daily cost and Texas weather is brutal. Sigh!

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    1. Thank you, Felicia! Especially for all your support with #FitReaders!

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  23. Awesome post! You're absolutely right: it is so hard mentally. I just started my journey about 8 weeks ago and unfortunately, I haven't seen much progress. But I do have more stamina and that in itself is progress! And I'm not giving up. I'm going to try a new workout and really try to eat a lot healthier (I already was eating healthier than before but I could do better). And I'm glad I've joined FitReaders, because it's so nice to have other bloggers like you who are going on this journey with me! We can do it!!

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    1. YES! #FitReaders is so great! It's nice to be accountable in that way and to be in it with other bookish people. I hope you see the results you want soon, remembering that it's a slowwww process. The strength and stamina really is a huge reward, though it's harder to feel thankful for those things in the less flattering, "I don't want to do this" moments. Cheering for you, Andrea!

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  24. This post almost brought tears to my eyes. It is so incredible what you've decided to do for yourself and your family and I truly believe the key piece is that you're doing it for HEALTH reasons and not diet/weight loss/body image, etc. etc. reasons. Congratulations for all the hard work you've put in - it's truly incredible and inspiring to read about.

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    1. Heather, I think so too. As a younger person I was always trying to lose weight. The only times I've ever been successful at doing that and keep it off was when I was health-focused and not weight-focused. Amazing how that works, eh? <3

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  25. I love this post so much. This year is the first year I've actually seemed to successfully integrate regular work outs into my life for more than just a month or two (June is month four). And the key to success? Goal setting and accountability - just like you said. What made this year different for me is that my husband is committed to a workout plan too. He's my gym buddy, and we keep each other accountable. I've loved following your journey and I love that you're sharing it so openly - it's an inspiration!

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    1. YES! It helps so much when there's someone in the trenches with you! This journey has done both me and my husband so much good, and while we don't run together, we definitely motivate each other. He's always been more outdoorsy and willing to tackle different physical activities (scuba diving, kayaking), and it feels nice that we're in this together and I'm far more willing to do different kinds of things with him. Thank you for being in my challenge group! <3

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  26. Hi, Andi, I really should be visiting your blog more. It's wonderful and you're amazing.
    Thank you for sharing this with us and being so honest and thoughtful. I've never been overweight, but have also never been 'in shape.' My preferred method of exercise is also running, which only started doing 5 months ago. The first few weeks were brutal even for me, so I admire you for sticking with it and remaining so positive the entire time.

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    1. Aww, thanks! Good for you for jumping into a running routine! How's it coming along for you?

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  27. In an effort at total honesty, I will admit to some jealousy of your success so far. I've even gone so far as to justify my feelings by saying "Of course she can do it now that she is working less. I bet I can do the same if I didn't work or wasn't so busy!" The thing is, I am diminishing your success and just creating yet one more excuse for me. SO, I apologize for thinking this about you. Your journey is your journey, and you are doing an amazing job! I am SO proud of you! For myself, I am still trying to make changes one choice at a time, one day at a time. I have stayed within my calorie limits for the past two weeks, which is the longest I've done so in years. Little steps and one day, I hope to be where you are.

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    1. No apologies necessary. I know that I wouldn't have started this at all if I wasn't working less. I've thought a lot about how I could sustain it if I had to go back to full-time work. I know I would have to find a way because I'm a serious bitch when I can't get the work in. Ha! I am proud of you. We all start where we are and have to work with our circumstances. I am cheering you all the way.

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