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305 lbs. From Commit to Get Fit to Couch to 5K

The Commit to Get Fit program was finished the first week of April.  After that, I signed up for more exercise classes.  I was going to the gym five days a week for classes and trying to figure out what my next course of action would be.

One day, I picked up a flyer from the front desk of the community center.  It was advertising a Couch to 5K program that started in the middle of June.  I contemplated and stewed over whether or not I could do it.  I had never been a runner–probably a lot of that was to do with my severe pronation and never having the right shoes.  The one thing I hated the most in P.E class was track and field.  The only thing I hated more than running were the hurdles or anything else that involved jumping.

I tried to get a few people to sign up for the Couch to 5K program with me, but no one was interested.  I decided to go ahead and give it a go.  After all, it was only $20.  If I failed or dropped out, I wouldn’t be out much.  If it weren’t for Cole convincing me that I could do anything I put my mind to, I would’ve never even signed up for it.

I convinced myself to sign up for one reason, and one reason only–the dreaded turkey neck.  That’s right, pure vanity!  Due to my sheer size, I had a double chin for quite some time.  As I lost weight, I could see that it was slowly turning into the turkey neck.  One look at the women in my family, and I could see that it was inevitble.  I had noticed many years prior, and for some reason it had stuck in my mind, that runners have great necks.  I didn’t know one runner (and I mean a seasoned, dedicated runner) that was overweight, had a big belly, or a turkey neck.

Bottom line was, I needed a reason to give this a shot.  It was a 15 week program with a 5K at the end.  If vanity was what it took, I was willing to use it.  For the first time in my life I was starting to care about me.  For the first time in my life I was starting to take care of myself the way I should–not just skin deep, but through and through to the core.

By Lori Camper

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305 lbs. Mama Gets a New Pair of Shoes

After a few weeks of the Commit to Get Fit program and going to the gym five to six days a week, my ankle which ached for as long as I could ever remember had become very painful most of the time.  It had gotten to the point where I felt like I was not going to be able to continue with all I was doing, so I finally broke down and went to my sports injury doctor.

He x-rayed my ankle.  The bad news was that I had some serious pronation and I was walking around as if I had one leg longer than the other.  When I was 12, I had a doctor tell me that I had one leg longer than the other.  I wish I had learned the truth long before now. The good news was that I did not yet have any permanent damage and that this was very fixable.

The doctor looked at my shoes and told me that I was wearing the worst brand of shoes available.  I said, “But these are the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever owned.”  His answer, “We’re not necessarily looking for comfort.”  Not only was I told that I needed better shoes, I was also told that I needed orthotics.

Ugh!  The older I got, the more I was willing to sacrifice good looks for comfort.  Now, I was being told that I couldn’t even have that!

After reading the book Commit to Get Fit I knew what shoe I was looking for.  I did a little research on my own, and then went to my local running store in search of the right shoe for me.  After trying several different brands, I left with my new shoes and orthotics.  Shockingly enough, they were comfortable.  Actually, I finally had the support I needed, so they felt great and the pain in my ankle eventually went away.

I went to my next training session with Cole.  As usual, we started out on the treadmill.  We were mostly walking on the treadmill with some running here and there.  When I began to run, Cole stepped back, looked at my feet and proclaimed, “You have new shoes!  I can tell a difference in your stride.”

It was nice to know that all the money I spent was making a significant difference.  I could feel the difference. My ankle was no longer hurting, I no longer favored one side, and I quit dragging one leg.  Walking and running was suddenly not as much work as it had been.

I certainly learned the value of a “good” pair of shoes.  It didn’t take me long to decide that my shoes and the orthotics I put in them were worth every penny.  I realized that I could invest in good shoes, or I could pay even more in doctor bills.  I consider my shoes and my orthotics necessary tools of the trade.

The lesson I learned this time around was not to skimp on shoes.  I know it’s something we hear over and over and often roll our eyes when we do hear it, but it is something to take note of.  It’s like going from dial-up internet service (yes, we all remember those days) to a T1 line.  You don’t know what you’ve been missing until you’ve tried it.  And once you do, you certainly don’t want to go back.

If you are running or constantly on your feet, find a running store that will fit you properly for the shoe that’s right for you.  They should measure your foot.  I have them measure my foot every time I go in.  You might be like me and find out that you’ve been wearing the wrong size shoe all these years.  Find a store that will video tape your running on a treadmill with and without your shoes on so you can see any pronation or problems you are having.  They should allow you to take plenty of time walking or even running in the shoes you try on.  They should also offer an exchange period.  They should be all about customer service, finding the right shoe for you, and making sure that you are happy with them.  Your shoes are the most important tool of the trade, so take some time to find the right pair and most of all, don’t skimp.  Your body will thank you.

By Lori Camper

Keep Getting Up

I just completed one of Jason Vale’s quarterly juice challenges.  This time it was a 7-day juice challenge.  It varies each quarter; and, of course, you can modify the plan to fit your needs.

This quarter’s challenge started on July 4.  This is a big holiday in the US, and we already had big plans with friends visiting from abroad, so I decided to start the challenge on the 5th.

These challenges are a great way to give juicing a try.  They are completely free.  A shopping list for the produce you need is available long before the challenge begins.  Each day you will receive via email the juice recipes for the next day.  You will also receive an encouraging video featuring Jason Vale, the Juice Master.  There’s even a Facebook group that you can join for more community support.

I have mostly maintained my weight the last couple of months, and had decided a few weeks ago that it was time to get serious about weight loss once again.  It was time to buckle down on my diet and to stop those unhealthy habits that were starting to creep in again.  A juice steadfast is always a great springboard to get into or to get back into a healthy lifestyle.

What did I notice?  Right away I noticed that I was feeling fabulous, feeling lighter, and feeling like I had more spring in my step.  I did also lose weight, so I am happy with that as well.  Now that I have infused my body with lots of required nutrients for a week; that is what it wants and is craving–not the processed, sugary food-like substances the we often call food that our body will crave if we make them a part of our diet.

If you have fallen and stumbled and need to get back on track or perhaps have completely fallen into a pit that you need to climb out of, do not be afraid to get up and give it another try.  Do not decide that you are a failure and give up, but instead look back on what made you fall in the first place and learn from it.  Come up with a plan to keep it from happening again.  Each time you get up you will become smarter and stronger.  If the same obstacle makes you fall again, that’s ok, as long as you keep getting up.

Changing the way you live overnight probably isn’t going to happen and trying to do so is most likely going to lead to failure.  Just as anyone with a healthy lifestyle can slowly let the bad creep in and change their life, anyone with an unhealthy lifestyle can slowly bring in the good and let the good change their life.  If you can slowly incorporate healthy habits into your life and keep them there, you will crowd out the unhealthy habits.  This is a lifestyle change, not a “diet.”  A lifestyle change will change your life forever, whereas a “diet” will only change your life for the short-term.

The path you decide to take truly is a case of mind over matter–a decision you have to make.  If you decide to change paths, it will be a decision you will have to make over and over again.  As with anything new, the first time is the hardest.  The important thing is to keep making that decision, and when you fall (and you will) to get up.  When you fall again, get up again.  Rinse, and repeat.

By Lori Camper

Which Juicer is the Best?

This is a common question juicy people have, especially those that are new to juicing.  Often people ask the wrong question, which is the case here.  The question is not “Which juicer is the best?” but rather, “Which juicer is the best for you?”

My first juicer was a high-speed centrifical juicer.  The main thing going for it was that it was fast.  I could put whole fruits and vegetables in it and have juice within seconds.  It also was not expensive as far as juicers go.  Cleanup was ok and it could be rinsed and put in the dishwasher.  The number one negative about this jucier was the noise.  It was loud.  Loud enough that after using it for several months it just sat on the counter because I couldn’t bear the thought of turning it on and listening to it.

I sold that juicer on Craigslist and got most of my money back out of it.  I used that money and added to it to buy a horizontal masticating juicer.  I knew this would be the end of the line for juicers for me.

That juicer was a great juicer, but I was spending a lot more time in the kitchen.  It did not have the three inch feeder chute, so I was spending a lot of time prepping and cutting so everything would fit through it.  It also took a lot more time for the produce to go through the machine.  However, clean up was a snap with only a few, small parts to clean and my juice pulp was much, much dryer so I thought I was getting more juice out of the produce I was buying.

Next, I bought a centrifical slow juicer.  I bought it for two reasons:  it had a three inch feeder chute, and it promised to be whisper quiet.  It was whisper quiet, and I was very happy about that.  I liked not having to prep the produce but I was back to having very wet pulp and thinking that I was not getting as much juice out of my produce as I could.  It also had a lot of parts to clean, even though they could all be rinsed and put in the dishwasher.

Now that the vertical masticating juicers are available, I recently got rid of the centrifical slow juicer and have gone with a vertical masticating juicer.  This juicer is the best of both worlds with a the three inch feeder chute and a vertical auger.  And most of all, it is quiet.  The pulp is very dry with this juicer and cleanup is not a chore.

It has taken me four tries, but the juicers that I have kept and continue to use are the maticating juicers.  They are quiet and give me the quality of juice I am looking for.

The best juicer for YOU is one that you will use.  It’s just like having a treadmill or other exercise equipment in your house that you never use.  It does you no good if it eventually becomes a coat rack.  A juicer will do you no good if eventually you sit and stare at it because you can’t bear to turn it on, to clean it, or go through all of the preparation to use it.

Here are some things to consider when buying a juicer:

  • What will you be juicing?  Most juicers do ok with fruits and vegetables, but if you will be juicing a lot of leafy greens, you might want to take that into consideration and look for a juicer that superbly handles leafy greens.
  • How much time do you want to spend juicing?  If time is of the essence, consider a juicer with a three inch feeder chute so that you do not have to prep your produce (except for washing).  However, if time is not an issue and you enjoy working in the kitchen, then don’t be concerned about the size of the feeder chute.
  • Clean up.  It is important to at least rinse your juicer immediately after using it.  Otherwise, the juice dries like concrete and clogs the screen.  Masticating juicers have fewer parts and are easier and quicker to clean.  If clean up is not your forte, look for a juicer with few parts that has to be cleaned that can be rinsed and put in the dishwasher.
  • Noise.  If you are like me and sensitive to noise, a high-speed centrical juicer is not the one for you.  Also, if you are juicing at a time that you have children napping or others in your household sleeping, you will want a quiet juicer.  Think this one through, because it could effect you and your family more than you realize.
  • How much do you want to spend?  Many people list this as their first consideration, but I think it should be put last.  It’s easy to want or need a new appliance without realizing the cost involved, so we end up settling for something that doesn’t really work well for our needs.  However, I also realize that cost is an issue and that everyone’s cash is limited.  Buying a new appliance should be thought out and planned.  I think it’s best to first set your sight on the juicer that is right for you.  If it is within your budget, then you can purchase it and move on.  If it is way out of your budget range, then there are ways to start saving and setting goals to purchase it.  If it is going to take quite some time to be able to purchase it, then beg, borrow, or go to the thrift store and find a cheap juicer you can use in the interum.  Save up, do some extra jobs, or even ask for cash for birthdays and Christmas so that you can eventually purchase the right juicer for you.  This appliance can change your health and your life.  Don’t settle.

By Lori Camper

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Father’s Day SuperDad 5K

I ran another 5K with my daughter and friend on Father’s Day.  This was my worst 5K performance ever, but I was still happy with it.

The race took place in a park that we were familiar with.  It has a nice, flat, shaded trail throughout the park.  The race didn’t start until 9:00, so we were looking forward to the shade trees.

The race started, and we took off in another direction.  The course was still flat, but it was gravel which meant slower moving.  There was also not a shade tree in site, and I made the fatal mistake of wearing black.  It was very hot, no breeze at all, and the humidity was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

The last part of the race was on the paved trail amongst the shade trees.  It was a nice relief.  Still, it was not enough.  I was struggling.  Everyone was struggling.

I ended up walking a big chunk of the last mile.  I was not alone–there were a lot of other runners walking as well.  Still, I finished.

This was my worst 5K time ever by about 20 seconds.  We all had poor times.  Still I was happy with my performance because I gave it my all and did the best that I could.  Not only did I finish, I was second place in my age group.  You don’t have to be THE best, you just have to be YOUR best.

By Lori Camper

305 lbs. The Stress Factor

I was a dispatcher from home for a trucking company part-time on weekends.  My entire job was done electronically–monitoring the stores, dispatching the drivers, and communicating with the stores and the drivers.  As long as I was within range of a cell tower and had a working cell phone, I could do my job.  This made it easy to graft my work into the rest of my life.  We still participated in most of our weekend activities, including church.

After about four weeks into the Commit to Get fit program, my boss became very ill.  He dispatched during the week, so we sometimes traded days when one of us needed off.  His wife asked me if I could work a couple of days while he recovered from the flu.  Unfortunately, he ended up very ill in the hospital and never returned to work.

Being a dispatcher can mean being on call 24/7.  I worked non-stop for three weeks.  After three weeks, I still worked several days in a row with just the occasional day off.  It was difficult for everyone–for me, for my family, and for the drivers I was dispatching.  I had to remind them a few times that this was also difficult for me and disruptive for my whole family as well.

Regardless of the difficulty, I was determined not to drop out of the Commit to Get Fit program–after all I was paying for this!  I do believe that I missed one session with my trainer.  I was sorry that I had missed it and decided that I would not allow that to happen again.  After that, I made every session.  Cole always asked about our energy level and stress level.  I told him a bit about what was going on, so he knew that my stress level was way up while my energy level was way down.

I often went to the gym and to our training sessions with Cole with my bluetooth in my ear so that I could receive phone calls and texts from the drivers.  Most of the time I could make it through our sessions without being interrupted, but not always.

At the end of the program, Cole had an informal chat with my teammate and I and asked if we had gotten results from the program.  My reply to him was that I had received results, but not the ones I was hoping for.  Once my boss became ill, my weight loss came to a screeching halt.  I had not lost a lot of weight, but in more ways than one I was a lot stronger than when I had started.  However, I was now confident that I could do anything I put my mind to.

The whole twelve weeks was a huge learning experience.  I was stronger physically and mentally.  One thing that was obvious during this time, was the effects stress can have on your health.  I was tired and exhausted, but Cole had given me twelve weeks of encouragement that I desperately needed.

By Lori Camper

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305 lbs. Changing my Mind Changed my Life

It took me about three years to get my act together.  I spent the first year doing a couple of juice steadfasts, and I lost about 80 pounds.  After that I gained 20 pounds back and spent the next two years losing the same 20 pounds over and over again.  It was a little discouraging, but I continued to search for answers.

I started going to some exercise classes at the community center.  They helped me to maintain my weight.  I was also slowly improving my abilities.  It was nice to have some “workout buddies” that were focusing on the same goals that I was even if we were all at different fitness levels.

When January rolled around, I signed up for the Commit to Get Fit program again.  A lady from one of my exercise classes also signed up for it, so we became a team.  Teams competed for most weight lost and prizes were given out at the end of the program for teams and individuals.

I showed up for our first session with our trainer not knowing what to expect.  My trainer for the next twelve weeks was a very young man named Cole.  He was about the age of my son and about his stature, so I felt like I was being whipped into shape by my kid!

During our first time together, it was me and two kids right out of high school that didn’t want to be there.  I found out later that their parents bought them the class as a Christmas gift.  It was the only time I ever saw them.  We started out on the treadmill, and during that time Cole asked me some questions that got me to thinking.  He asked me if I was the competitive type or if I needed encouragement.  Sadly enough, I didn’t know the answer to that question right away.  I knew the answer by the time I left that day, but I’m sure Cole knew the answer long before I did.

After the class was over that day, Cole took me aside and asked me more questions.  Why was I doing this?  What was my goal?  It started a conversation where I told him about my weight loss, that I had a small child, and that I wanted to be able to keep up with her.  A few tears came to my eyes.  Cole then told me his story–he had once been where I was at that moment.  He choked back the tears and we hugged.  Cole gave me his cell phone number and told me that he was available anytime I needed him.  We made a connection, and this has made for a lasting relationship.

Cole was my personal trainer/terrorist for twleve weeks.  We met once a week, but I still spent about five days a week in the gym going to exercise classes, pumping iron, or both.  My teammate was out of town for at least half of those sessions.  I had the luxury of having Cole all to myself and therfore, having the workouts customized to me.

I was impressed with Cole.  He knew just what my abilities were.  Not only did he make me work extremely hard each week for twelve weeks, he gave me something to think about too.  My mind was getting just as much of a workout as my body.  By the end of the twelve weeks, my teammate lost nearly 40 pounds and was the woman that lost the most weight.  Our team came in third even though we were competing against teams of five and six people.  I lost several pounds, even though I had hoped to lose more.  By the end of the program, Cole had convinced me that I could do anything I set my mind to.  I didn’t realize it then, but changing my way of thinking about myself was going to change my life!

By Lori Camper

305 lbs. My Fitness Journey Begins

I was feeling great after my 60 day juice steadfast.  Not just from the weight loss, but also from the benefit of flooding my body with fresh fruits and vegetables.  The number one thing I noticed when I started eating again was how salty everything tasted!  Processed and sugary food did not taste so good anymore.  However, it did not take long for me to go back to my old habits and to begin enjoying salty, sugary foods again.

After a few months, I did another 30 day juice steadfast.  This one was much more difficult than the first one.  I didn’t really like any of the juices that I was drinking.  They were mostly green juices and weren’t very palatable.  I tried coming up with some of my own recipes but wasn’t very successful there either.  It seemed like the more ingredients I used in a juice, the worst it tasted.

I lost another 20 pounds on this juice fast, for a total loss of 80 pounds.  I had gone from 305 pounds to 225 pounds.  I was thrilled that I had made it past the half way point of my weight loss goal.

I’m not sure when exactly I started exercising, but at one point I started walking in my neighborhood.  At first I was walking about 3/4 of a mile.  This would leave me drenched with sweat and huffing and puffing.  I eventually extended my walk to one mile.  Once I got to where I was plateauing on my weight loss, I upped it to two miles.  This was difficult, especially on hot, humid days; but I stuck to it.

Another reason why I started walking was because I had plantar fasciitis in both of my feet.  Every recommendation that I could find online said to stay off your feet as much as possible.  However, I found that doing whatever I could to stretch the back of my legs was the best thing for it.  Working in the yard where I was bending over a lot really helped.  I got a treadmill off of freecycle so that I could walk at home when the weather was bad.  I made sure that I took long strides in order to stretch the muscles in the back of my heels and legs.

In January, our local communtiy center had a 12-week “Commit to Get Fit” program.  I signed up for this program, but it did not work out for me at all this time around.  I did not fully understand how the program worked when I signed up for it.  It ended up that all of the classes were on a day that I could not come.  I was bummed that I did not get to participate al all.  However, all was not lost.  This made me determined to find something I could participate in.  I read through all of the class descriptions at the community center.  I wanted something that would burn fat.  I narrowed it down to two classes that were both supposed to be fat-burning.  I chose one class in particular for one reason only:  it had the word FUN in the description!

The class was fun.  It was a lot of work, too.  I liked that it was all women and that we all had similar goals.  We were all at different levels of abilites and fitness, and no one cared.  We all came to class and worked as hard as we could.  No one criticized or ridiculed anyone that was struggling but was very encouraging instead.

My thinking began to change, and I was no longer in it just to lose weight.  This was the begining of my fitness journey.

By Lori Camper

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How to Have a Successful Juice Steadfast

Plan to succeed.  We’ve all heard the saying, “failing to plan is planning to fail.”  Taking some time to plan your juice steadfast will immensely increase your odds of success.  These are all things that took me several rounds to learn.  You can get it all here in one scoop!  I’m sure I’ve left something out, so if you have a tip to add, please add it in the comments.

Do your research.  In today’s internet age, we have mounds and mounds of information at our fingertips.  Some of it is accurate, but a lot of it is not.  Do some research and reading on juicing before you begin your juice steadfast.  You will need a juicer.  If you do not have a juicer yet, there are several things to consider before buying one.  (That will be an entirely different post.)  Be discerning about where you get your information and what you choose to believe.  Use reputable sources and be cautious of articles quoting “experts” that don’t back up what they claim.

Plan the length of your steadfast.  The first thing you’ll want to do is to plan the length of your steadfast.  You can always leave it open ended if you want to see how it goes and possibly extend it longer if you’re doing well.  However, you will want to at least set a minimum length.  Think about what your goals are and why you are doing this steadfast.  That will help determine how long it needs to be.

Look at your calendar.  The next thing you’ll want to do is to look at your calendar and plan when you will have your juice steadfast.  Having your steadfast at a time that you have a lot of outings or family gatherings might not be a good idea.  Look at your calendar and find a time that you don’t have a lot of celebratory functions to attend.  If you do have a few to go to, plan now how you will handle them.  Sometimes carrying around a small plate with a few veggies on it is all you need to do to keep people from noticing that you’re not partaking in the buffet of food offered.

Plan your grocery shopping.  Not having what you’ll need to make your juice is a sure way to fail.  Plan your grocery shopping now.  Try to make a grocery list and purchase three to four days worth of produce for your juices at a time.  When it’s time to shop again, take an inventory and only buy what you need for the next three to four days.   If you’re using a pre-made plan, that plan most likely will provide a shopping list.

Don’t let getting to the store and the time it takes to pick out your produce be an obstacle.  If you have to, find a store that delivers or offers pick up.  This has been a huge time saver and life saver for me many times.  The cost associated with this service is cheaper by far than those impulse purchases that we often make.

Plan your juices.  You’ll want your juices to be as fresh as possible.  Making your juice and immediately drinking it is about as fresh as you can get.  However, most of us are not home all day to make each and every juice when we need it.

If you are in a rush to get out the door in the morning, making your juices the night before might be the way to go.  If you have the time to make your juices in the morning, you can still prep your produce the night before to make it go quicker.  When bottling your juices, try to fill the bottle to the very rim and then seal it tight.  This will help keep your juices fresh and keep out air that causes oxidation.

If you will be traveling during the day, plan how you will take your juices with you.  You will most likely need a small cooler and some ice or ice packs to keep your juices cold.  If you are going to work, store them in the refrigerator as soon as you get there.  I’ve never had to worry about my co-workers drinking my juices!

Plan your family’s meals.  If you are the one that makes most of the meals in your house, the best thing you can do is to pass the baton on to someone else during your juice steadfast.  This will keep you away from all kinds of temptation.  If that’s not possible, plan your family’s meals now.  Planning meals that have the least amount of preparation will give you the least amount of temptation.  Now is not the time to try new dishes that you will also want to taste to see how they come out.  Now is the time to fix food for your family that they like that you don’t.

Pull out the crock pot, dutch oven, casserole dishes, and electric skillet.  Make as many one-pot meals as you can.  Better yet, prepare some dishes ahead of time and put them in the freezer so that all you have to do is heat and serve.  If you can, go to a freezer meals class or make some on your own and have them on stand by if needed.

Get support.  Doing something all alone is tough, but it can be done.  If you can, find at least one person to give you encouragement and support.  All it takes is one person.  When it comes to juicing, finding someone else that you can ask questions or confide in is helpful.  If you don’t know someone personally that you can go to, then look for a group that you can be a part of, whether that be locally or online.  There are formal support groups for everything under the sun.  There are plenty of casual, juicing support groups on social media.  If you want something local and more personal look for something in your area.  If you’re not able to find one, you can always start your own!

As with any lifestyle change, there are a lot of naysayers out there.  Broadcasting to your family and friends that you are doing a juice steadfast will let you know right away just who they are.  The best course of action is to keep quiet.  People will start asking questions once they start seeing a positive change in you.

Plan how you will end your juice steadfast.  This step goes back to research.  In researching your juice steadfast, be sure to research how you will end your juice steadfast.  Going back to your old ways or the standard American diet (SAD), may not agree with you.  Take it slow.  Start off with some soups and vegetables and gradually introduce other foods back into your diet.

Don’t want to plan?  If you don’t want to take the time to do all of the planning, or you are unsure about doing your first juice steadfast on your own; you can look for a group to participate with.  Usually, you register for these groups way ahead of time.  They provide you with a shopping list, daily recipes, when the juice steadfast will take place, and lots of support.  This is a great way to get started and get your first juice steadfast under your belt.  If you cannot find a group that is doing a steadfast at a time you would like, there are still programs that will provide you with all of the above, except that you will not be juicing at the same time as others and will not see their success stories.  Regardless, you will still need to plan your grocery shopping and your family’s meals.

Most importantly of all, don’t be hard on yourself.  If things don’t turn out as you planned, reassess and decide what you can do to get things to work better the next time around.  If you have difficulty making it through the day and end up taking a bite of food, it’s ok.  It doesn’t mean failure.  Continue to march ahead!

Regardless of what path you decide to take, the best time to make a healthy lifestyle change is now!  Don’t delay, go do it!

By Lori Camper

305 lbs. People are Watching

Lately I’ve changed my running strategy.  After my 5K at the end of April, I decided to work on running better.  I would like to run a 10K one day, and I know to be able to do that that I am going to have to run better and faster.  I know I’m a horrible runner.  My running is so bad that when I go for a run in my neighborhood, I refer to it as “the neighborhood freak show.”  Still, I keep going; and I’m lapping everyone that’s sitting on the couch.

Some days I run a mile as hard and fast as I can.  I was in the process of doing this when I came up on a lady walking in my neighborhood.  This is a lady that I’ve seen almost every day walking in my neighborhood for the last several years, yet I’ve never taken the time to speak to her.  She had her earphones in, and turned around to see what all the noise was behind her.

“It’s just me,” I said.  And I went on my way.

I was nearly done with my run at that point and starting to huff and puff, I’m sure.  I went on and finished the short distance I had left, and then doubled back since I had just passed my house.  In the process of doubling back, I started to pass this woman again.  This time she stopped me.

You are an inspiration.

I could not believe what I was hearing.  For the last several years, I have watched this woman walk past my house with her little dog.  I had been watching her–I was not expecting to have her tell me that she had also been watching me.

We chatted for a few seconds and then I thought, “Who else is watching that I’m unaware of?”

That answer came to me a few days later.

At church Sunday night the pastor’s wife told me that one of her kids had commented to her Sunday morning on how much weight I had lost.  She was surprised when I told her that I had lost over 100 pounds.

If you are on a fitness and/or weight loss journey, keep going!  You may not realize it, but people are watching and they are noticing.  They are thinking to themselves what a great job you are doing, but they are also scared to death to say anything to you.  Why this is, I don’t know.  It seems like as humans we are quick to criticize but slow to encourage.  Bottom line is, you may be inspiring someone else to make huge changes in their life without even knowing it!  People are counting on you!  Don’t give up.

If you thrive on encouragement, all you need is one person.  Look for that person, seek him or her out, and ask God to bring someone to you.  He can bring someone to you in the most incredible and unexpected way.

By Lori Camper