Well, it happened again. I blinked once or twice and seem to have lost an entire month. At the beginning of May I shared that I had met Ashley at a group run. We found out that we shared the common experience of losing nearly a hundred pounds in our late 20’s with the unusual aspect of the time being separated by 3 decades.
It is apparent in talking with Ashley that she loves her new self. I think the reason she is so open about her weight loss is that she would like to share her success with others so they can feel as good as she does. Today, her only regret is that she waited so long to feel this good.
I know from experience that losing a significant amount of weight through diet and exercise is hard work. Ashley has done many things over the past 4 years that have led to her success. In reading about the changes she has made and the actions she has taken there is one thing that seems to be a common but She is determined to have success. .
Over these 4 years she has tried several things, one might call them tools, to create this change. Some of the tools worked for her and others did not. The tools that worked for her she used and the others she put back in the tool box for possible use at another time.
In reading Ashley’s comments it became clear that she is a very organized person. I shared last month that one of the things that had worked for her was advance planning. In other words, she did all her menu planning, food shopping and meal preparation on the weekend so healthy meals were ready for the entire week.
It’s no surprise that she came back to this tool a second time and refined it by using a calendar/planner to schedule her work, school, family and exercise time. One of the pluses of this tool was it helped to keep her accountable. Others likely knew what she was supposed to be doing at certain times but most importantly, she knew.
Another thing that I found really touching is her use of post it notes on her bathroom mirror. Every morning as she starts her day she is encountered with motivating words of encouragement. One of the quotes she sees every morning is “If you can dream it, you can do It” and another that I borrowed on an early morning run recently is “There will be a day when I cannot do this, but Today is not that day”.
Another thing that Ashley does, I have been doing for years. Actually many runners use this strategy. In the summer of 2011 she realized that having a physical goal really helped her stay on track and motivated. So for her August birthday she asked her mother for registration in the January 2012 Disney Marathon. Her birthday present that year was 4.5 months of marathon training. January came and she felt well trained while running the marathon and wonderful afterward.
Apparently she felt so wonderful after the Disney Marathon that she decided to up the ante the next year when she did the Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge. In case you are not familiar with this event, it is a half marathon on Saturday followed by a full marathon on Sunday for a total of 39.3 miles in two days. Actually, it sounds kind of fun in a goofy sort of way. In barely 4 years Ashley has gone from morbidly obese non-athlete to completing 2 marathons and 12 half marathons.
Sadly, Ashley also has a photo of her father on the day he passed away. He was in his early 50’s; he smoked, was overweight and did not have a healthy diet. When looking at this photo she thinks about all the things her father missed and realizes that if she makes unhealthy lifestyle choices she could be approximately 20 years from the end of her life.Certainly a strong catalyst for change.
After losing weight many years ago I destroyed every “fat” photo I could find of myself. Ashley is much braver than I in that she has a “fat” photo album that chronicles her journey. She can look at the album and see how far she has come. There was a time when she did not have a chin in photos and now she can see her chin and neck bones. Of course she can also see a difference in her smile. Her description of this album, and how it follows her from sitting down and slumped over to becoming active and doing things like visiting a tourist attraction or finishing a race, is that flipping through the pictures is like seeing her getting up and living life.
When I look back on the marathons that I ran as a young man I believe the experience left me with a feeling that I could accomplish anything. I don’t know if completing marathons, or in Ashley’s case a Goofy marathon and a half in two days, had any effect on her decision but she recently left a position as a manager for a national restaurant chain and returned to the accounting work that she studied while in college. She is studying now to sit for the CPA exam. Not only did she dream it, she is now doing it.
Almost as a postscript, my recent weight history is in the right sidebar. Not much change there.