Do Work

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Amanda, about your completely free, fabulous, potential-laden life, and that one day soon you will lead an amazingly, healthy, happy, successful life…have you ever considered that they may cut into carousing the mall, cooking for yourself, playing the lottery, watching TV, and of course, sleeping-in?

Your life gives me goose bumps,
The Universe

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Make Your Past Your Past

Most kind of stories / save the best part for last
And most stories have a hero who finds / you make your past your past…”
-Joshua Radin, Brand New Day

Type_BrandNewDayRGBNobody, Amanda, is who they are based upon one decision, one day, one path, one chance, one relationship, or one anything else. 

Every day is brand new and opportunity never stops knocking. 

Who’s there? 
    The Universe

Magic In Ordinary Times

This past weekend was one of those rare collections of days where everything seems to be happening for a very specific reason, like the Universe is telling you to pay attention.

The message this weekend? Well, there were plenty of them, just read on. But number one with a bullet? You are stronger than you think.
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We’re all aware of what happened on Saturday…conquering fears, pushing past limits, breaking down boundaries. Well, my Sunday played out in a similar, though less dramatic, way.

The morning started with yoga in the park with one of my dearest friends. And this was no sluff of a class, either. With the Minneapolis skyline in front of me, and a soft, summer breeze blowing across my face…man, I was blissed in. It felt so amazing to just be, stretch, breathe, and connect with everything around me—especially after the frenetic pace of Saturday! After class, my friend and I were chatting when she suddenly stopped and said, “Look how big we’re both smiling right now! I love it!” That comment stuck with me throughout the day. Do more of what makes you happy.

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20130804_09475620130804_09474720130804_110742After yoga, we grabbed a coffee and headed to the Animal Humane Society to play with the little cuties. Old Manda Kay would have had to go home, shower, do my hair and makeup, change, etc. New Manda Kay just changed shirts and went. Makeup-free, sweaty matted down yoga hair. Out the door. You are good enough as is. Don’t waste life worrying on the opinions of others.

We spent a few hours over lunch enjoying a healthy meal, discussing the future, and doing a little house hunting (we’re both looking to move to a new place in the city). Decide what and who to be, then go be it.

After lunch, we headed back to our garden. We weeded, watered, and thinned out. We also got to harvest lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, turnips, and zucchini.
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20130804_15480120130804_15182220130804_151325 20130804_204159Later that evening, I did a little experimenting with the carrots and turnips (neither of which I’ve ever enjoyed eating) and created a simple new recipe: pan roasted honey glazed carrots and turnips (recipe coming tomorrow!). Nothing feels better than living a clean, healthy lifestyle.

It was a truly transformative weekend, one that has inspired and motivated me to push harder and keep moving forward. Your journey may be long, but it is always worth it.
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Proud

There are certain experiences in life where the phrase ‘once is enough’ is more than apt. You know, like having your wisdom teeth pulled. Or high school. The marathon-length bike race I participated in on Saturday? That’s another.

Don’t get me wrong—I loved the experience. I’m so proud of myself for doing it (alone), and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But after I finished, the first thing I said to my friend was, “I never thought I’d say this, but I’d rather run than bike.” So, there’s that 🙂

The day started at 4:15am. Woof. I fumbled sleepily into my gear—including the size XL spandex, tapered-waist legit cycling jersey. Which, I mean, fitting into that was accomplishment enough for me!
IMG_20130802_163914After struggling in the pitch black dark for a good 20 minutes trying to secure my bike to the rack on my car, I stopped at Starbucks (naturally), then proceeded to a nearby gas station to top off the air in my front tire, which had seemed a little low the night before.

The second I tried to fill the tire, the entire thing went flat. There I was, mere hours away from a more-than-daunting bike ride, alone, in the dark, with a flat bike tire. The option to forget the race and go back to bed was extremely appealing.

Instead, I sucked it up and headed out to Minnetonka, where the race was happening. Thankfully, the Universe was on my side, and the rather handsome gentleman who parked next to me offered me his bike pump. Tire filled with air, I solved crisis
#1.20130803_074155IMG_20130803_064250I met up with some of my co-workers before the race (which was a fundraiser for our organization), and then headed to my corral. The nerves were working overtime.
IMG_054820130803_072253 20130803_070825And then, just like that, me and 3,000 other riders were off! The first five miles wove around Lake Minnetonka—a gorgeous spot. At the mile 5 rest stop, I stopped to grab a drink of water and kept right on pedaling. This wasn’t so bad!

IMG_20130803_071836And then the hills started. Followed by my mental and out loud swearing.

Those hills didn’t stop, either, my friends. They were literally non-stop for the next 11 freaking miles. Up and up we climbed, with very little downhill relief. Plain and simple, it sucked. I made it up most of them, though, only partially walking up four total. Yes, I counted. Thank you, spin class!

Right at the base of one of those giant mothers, right around mile 8, my handlebars decided it was a good time to go ahead and give up. Normally, when holding your handlebars, you fingernails are parallel to the ground, right? Well, because of the way the handlebars shifted, mine were literally pointed towards the sky. The pressure on my palms was ridiculous—in fact, my palms are the only part of me that really aches now, two days later.

After much frustration, and a few futile attempts by me to fix the problem with my limited tool kit and even more limited bike knowledge, I finally made it to the mile 16 rest stop. I had the option to quit here. But no. Forget that. I grabbed an apple and filled my water bottle, listened to the polka band playing the Beer Barrel Polka, then pulled up to the service station they had set-up. I tell you, this was the most organized race, filled with the most helpful, kind people. Not two minutes later, my handlebars were fixed, I felt the sugar from my snack kick-in, and I set out to conquer the last ten miles.
20130803_095132Thankfully, the majority of those last few miles were on a beautiful dirt trail. I was singing to myself (yes, aloud), doing a little dance, and then I suddenly felt myself just completely overcome. And I was crying. Typical. But I was suddenly just so proud of myself. I was completely alone, attempting this crazy ride with no prior experience, no idea where I was going, still weighing over 300 lbs, still struggling with all the baggage of all that. But there I was. Still pedaling.

The tears were replaced by pure exhaustion and anger, though, as I reached the final two miles and saw the crazy bastard of an ascent that was in front of me: three giant hills up to the finish line. I now understand what athletes mean when they say they hit a wall. I stopped to catch my breath and collect myself, wondering how in the world I was going to finish this. My legs felt like they couldn’t go another foot, let alone two miles uphill.
IMG_20130803_094543When moments like that happen, you have to shut off your mind and just go. Just do it.

Those last miles were the worst. But I literally and consciously turned off all my negative internal chatter and just focused on getting my body through it. Up the hills, across the finish line.

Three hours, 2,600 calories, and 26 miles later…I was done. I finished!
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In situations like this, I’m always looking for the lessons. What did this experience teach me about myself and the world around me? Here are my takeaways from this race:

1. First and foremost, I don’t push myself hard enough. 26 miles on a bike with little conditioning? I can accomplish so much if I just go out and do it.

2. People are, in their heart of hearts, truly kind and good. Everyone involved with this race—before, during, and after—was so helpful, so encouraging, so supportive. I was continually blown away by this. I returned the sentiment, as well, cheering on individuals I saw struggling on the route, saying ‘thank you’ to every volunteer I passed.

3. No matter where you are in life, what struggles you face, what you’ve yet to accomplish…take time to appreciate and be proud of you: where you are, who you are, right now. Driving home post-race, with the sun pouring in my windows, sweaty hair blowing in the wind, my favorite song on the radio…I’ve never smiled so big. I was so proud, so in the moment, so insanely, big-time in love with me and what I had just achieved.

4. Keep going. Always keep going. You are stronger than you think.

Thank you all for your love, support, and encouragement throughout this whole ordeal. It was quite the adventure and, frankly, quite fun!

Pushing On

Dreams come true, Amanda, that’s what they do. The only variable is when.

For the slow approach: Resist. Attach. Insist. Deny. Stop. Second guess. Whine. Argue. Defend. Protest. Cry. Struggle. And ask others, when you know the answer yourself. 

For the quick approach: Visualize. Pretend. Prepare. Dodge. Roll. Serpentine. Do not waiver over intentions, but over methods. Show up, even when nothing happens. And give thanks in advance. 

You knew that,
The Universe408139403425619602hn0DZOMc

I Make My Own Sunshine

Today was exactly what I needed.

My behavior over the past month and a half has mirrored this Minnesota spring: gray, bleak, not a lot positive going on. On a rare day, we get glimpses of sunshine and warm air and I have a day where I workout, eat right, and feel like progress is being made. Every few weeks, like today, we get yet another snowstorm. The ice falls in sheets, the snow is whipped into a frenzy by cutting winds, and I sit inside, unmoving, feeling sorry myself, making countless poor choices.
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I need sunshine and green, I need fresh, warm air…and I need to stop making excuses, get off my butt, and get back on track. But all of that seems impossible as I stare out my window at the frozen muddy ground blanketed again in thick white.
Photo 18There’s been a fair amount of drama and change at my work lately that I’m—thankfully—not directly involved with. Now, I truly love my job, mostly because it provides me with the flexibility to focus on my weight loss (you know, when I actually used to do that on a consistent basis).

But if there’s one thing I hate, it’s workplace politics, drama, and all that other nonsense that leaves the average American bemoaning their career choice daily on social media outlets. I’ve been in that position before and it’s the most miserable, scary, self-defeating place to be. No, thank you. I’ve come way too far to go back to there.
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So as I was working from home this morning, avoiding the mid-April thundersnow as the locals were calling it (seriously, snow coupled with lightning and thunder), more drama filtered into my inbox. I immediately felt that same pit in my stomach that I’ve felt in the past. It infuriated me like you wouldn’t believe.

I don’t want to deal with the bullshit. I don’t want to live to work, as the saying goes, I want to work to live. I want to create, run, see, touch, feel. I want to travel. I want to be a stay at home momma or finally open my own little bakery/café. I want to be happy. I want a big, full life that doesn’t necessarily begin and end in a cubicle, or a life so big that it makes dealing with the cubicle walls a non-issue…

And that chain of thought was like the Universe kicking me in the butt, saying, “Duh! That’s what this whole journey is about!”

My life is not tied to career aspirations. Worrying over promotions with 2% pay raises, passive-aggressively whispering about co-workers behind their back. Ugh, NO. I used to subscribe to all of that, but now I don’t see a point in any of it. Life’s too short and I have too much I want to do and be.
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I want my life tied to family, friends, and living on my own terms. That’s what making a life is all about to me. And that all happens (fingers crossed) when I lose this weight, find my confidence, and get healthy—body, mind, and soul.

And now I’m ready again. I’m ready to make some of my own sunshine–this grey Minnesota weather be dammed.

Ok, Universe. I Get It.

You might say I had a bit of a moment the other day…

The day started with a coffee date with an old colleague of mine. She is one of those people who is super easy to talk to (about anything) and very straight forward. AKA my kind of people.

We eventually got on the topic of my weight loss and I shared that, depending on the day, I’ve shed about 60 pounds since last January. Like I always do, I downplayed the loss: 60 pounds is nothing, not when I see others both bigger and smaller than me doing much more amazing things with their own journey.

But, my colleague reminded me, 60 pounds in a year? That is amazing. That’s huge. You can’t discount that.

And she is right. In the grand scheme of what I’m trying to do here, 60 pounds is a mere drop in the bucket. But it’s a drop nonetheless–and drops add up. Scale numbers may remain the same day after day, week after week, but progress is being made in other ways—big and small.

And then the Universe decided that just in case I wasn’t getting the point, he/she/it would slap me upside the head with it.

I decided to treat myself to a new pair of black work pants since I was drowning in the pair I wore to work that day (yes!) While at the store, I decided that maybe a new Easter outfit was necessary. So, as I tend to do these days, I started grabbing everything cute in a bunch of different sizes. Just for fun.

Now, let me preface this by saying this particular store I went to never fits me right. Things tend to consistently run awkwardly small on me. Except for the boobs. Somehow the boobs are always gigantic…but I digress.
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The typical result I experience in the dressing room…

There I stood with an armful of pretty springtime clothes, popping with color. All in sizes I haven’t worn since…college? High school? Ever?

The first pair of pants I tried on, a size smaller than the ones I walked in wearing, fit like a freaking glove. I smiled.

The flowing pink dress and the yellow sheath dress (a style my hips never tolerated), both three sizes smaller than what I wore when I started this? I could have walked out the door in either of them. I smiled a bigger smile. Teeth and all.

The adorable coral and white stripped tunic that I was dying to wear with leggings? The smallest size there, a 14/16, was too big. Too. Big. Me and my perma-grin got a little giddy, did a little dressing room dance.

Finally, the mint chiffon shell with white beading. My hips also do not tolerate chiffon: it clings and does not stretch. So I started with the size I squeezed into last spring (and then had vented out the sides so my hips fit): a 22*. I was swimming in a sea of minty fabric. I could have fit two of me in it. Well, maybe me and a smaller man-friend…but I digress.

Then I tried the 20. Still treading water.

The 18? Nope.

The next available size, the smallest they carry, was a 14. As I was working the top off the hanger, I was chuckling at the absurdity of me even trying to get this garment over my head.

But then…the damn thing fit.

Except for the boobs. Of course. Damn things. But if that’s my biggest problem? I’ll take it!

That smile on my face was quickly accompanied by some big ol’ tears. I was having quite the ‘ah-ha!’ moment in that dressing room.

Ok, Universe. I get it. Just like the size of my butt, hips, stomach, arms (everything but my boobs) is changing, so is my life. Even when I feel like collapsing in a heap, even when I see that same damn number on that devil scale, I’m changing. I’m progressing.

I am making my damn life.

My boobs be dammed, I walked out of that store with that mint tank top in a size 14. Just because I could. Thanks, Universe. You’re a pal.

*Disclaimer: I’ve never “publicly” and purposefully disclosed my sizes/weight…big deal for me, guys!